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Old 12-12-2005, 02:16 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Birthday gift for awesome son

Spent the weekend researching the usual choices for buying a new computer. It will be a birthday gift for my awesome soon-to-be 14 yr old son in February. While he is not allowed to play during the school week, he really looks forward to the weekends and holidays for gaming. Currently he is addicted to WoW (yes I know this doesn't require a very demanding rig) but I got him Far Cry and Civilization for Christmas and his 2.4 Ghz 512M system won't really cut it. Today I even headed down the path of the boutique makers like Falcon, but even though I can probably squeeze the money out of year-end bonus-and I only have one child ;-) I have become intrigued with the idea of building the system together from scratch and like the thought of saving a bunch of money this way. I know just enough about hardware to be dangerous though, and I am not sure if I have the skill to do this. So I decided to find some forums to look over the components I have researched so far, and to look for advice for a first-time system builder. I plan to post this in one or two other forums, so I apologize to those who may see this in more than one place. Please tell me what else I need to buy (I am thinking I must need additional cables as I know the darn things are often not included but I can't really tell from my research) or what different parts I should be getting instead.

AMD A8N32-SLI Deluxe
AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Dual-Core 1MB Per Core 90nm (939)
ZALMAN CNPS7000B-CU 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan/Heatsink
Thermaltake Tsunami Dream Tower Series w/No PS Black
Enermax Noisetaker EG701AX-VE-SFMA ATX 2.01 w/SLI 600W
OCZ Dual Channel Platinum 2 GB (2 pcs 1GB) DDR (400) PC-3200
(2)-BFG GeForce 7800 GT OC (256MB)
(2)-Western Digital 74 GB SATA 10K Raptor (WD740GD)
Lite-On SOHD-16P9S 16X-DVD/48X-CD-ROM (Retail Box)
Mitsumi Floppy 7-in-1 USB Card Reader/Smart Media Internal Drive
TALON ZL-2 Serial ATA 2 Port Queuing Raid Controller (U-30244)

This adds up to $2450 without shipping (mostly prices from Monarch). I already have an SB Audigy 2 ZS and Logitech Z-340 speakers in another system that aren't really being utilized so I plan to move those over to this system.

Any help is most appreciated!
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Old 12-12-2005, 02:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
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instead of the Asus board, I'd get a DFI NF4 SLI-DR, which is less expensive, and a better board.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813136157

instead of 2 x 7800 GT's, I would recommend a single 512MB 7800 GTX.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814143044
SLI gives you about a 30-40% performance increase over a single card.
the 7800 GT by itself is just over 60% as good as a 512MB 7800 GTX, and SLIing 2 of them will give about 80% the performance of a single 512MB 7800 GTX.
if you're going to spend a lot on video card(s) then get the 512MB 7800 GTX. SLI will reduce the price/performance

the Raptor hard drives will only increase loading times of things. I would recommend maybe a single 36 or 74GB drive for the OS and programs, however I would get a larger 7200RPM drive for storing other things. it will be less expensive, and store more data. the Raptor drives, although fast, are not very cost effective.
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Old 12-12-2005, 02:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Look at the Zalman 9500. It has better performance than the 7000.

Two 7800 GT's? Geez, you wanna adopt me? You could go with less... even a single 7800 GT. Far Cry is a demanding game graphically, though, but a single 7800 GT should handle it. Two is just better though.

Honestly, drop the Raptors. Go with a couple of Seagate SATA Barracudas RAIDed together in a RAID0. Be sure that they have NCQ and at least an 8MB buffer.

You won't need an SATA controller with that mobo, as it supports SATA and RAID already.

If you really want to trick out the case, check out this site:
http://voyeurmods.com/index.php?acti...&id=3&subid=70
Each custom case listed gives you all the options you could want... color, cooling, fans, lights, whatever.
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Old 12-12-2005, 02:49 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Looks good. I wish i had a parent like you.
I have a few suggestions though.

Instead of getting 2 7800gt's in sli, it might be better to get one 7800gtx 256, or the 512 if you dont mind the price tag.

Also, only one of those hard drives is necessary. You really only need the 10k RPM drives for loading your main games/OS, and it still isnt that much better. A 36GB drive for that purpose would be cheaper and you could get a larger 7200RPM drive for storage of all your other stuff like music, etc.

Also you may want to go with a better cooler like the zalman 9500 instead of the 7000. It will keep the cpu cooler, but either one is only necessary if he is going to overclock. Dont forget the AS5 either.

With the motherboard you should go with DFI if you are going to overclock, but it doesnt sound like you really need to so go with an MSI, ABIT or ASUS. You dont really need a RAID card because if you get a good motherboard, it will probably have one built in.

You might as well go with a DVD burner because they are only like $40.

Overall that system will be a beast.

Edit: i agree with trotter and apokalipse, they just posted first
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Old 12-12-2005, 07:49 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by apokalipse
instead of the Asus board, I'd get a DFI NF4 SLI-DR, which is less expensive, and a better board.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813136157

instead of 2 x 7800 GT's, I would recommend a single 512MB 7800 GTX.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814143044
SLI gives you about a 30-40% performance increase over a single card.
the 7800 GT by itself is just over 60% as good as a 512MB 7800 GTX, and SLIing 2 of them will give about 80% the performance of a single 512MB 7800 GTX.
if you're going to spend a lot on video card(s) then get the 512MB 7800 GTX. SLI will reduce the price/performance

the Raptor hard drives will only increase loading times of things. I would recommend maybe a single 36 or 74GB drive for the OS and programs, however I would get a larger 7200RPM drive for storing other things. it will be less expensive, and store more data. the Raptor drives, although fast, are not very cost effective.
Do these suggestions and you should save some money and be better off. Also for the extra 10$ get a DVD Burner instead of a DVD reader. DVD burner's also burn CD's.
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Old 12-12-2005, 08:34 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Didn't expect to get a laugh from a techie post, but I have to thank you guys for starting my day off that way. First, no plans for adoption, sorry! Second, I'm his mom actually.

As to the advice, it all sounds good. I never heard of DFI before this weekend, though, and I did read a few rants about their boards. I was interested in overclocking, is that the main reason for the DFI suggestion over ASUS? And as I was an Intel employee for nearly 7 years, I still have some twinges about buying AMD. But, after work I will modify and reprice my list with your suggestions.

While I read a fair amount online about building a system, can any of you recommend a source for a more comphrehensive how-to doc or book, maybe something with pictures? Or will the manuals be enough?
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:33 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Birthday gift for awesome son

you serious? 2.5 k on one kid? only thing my mom ever got me was diablo ii for my birthday. you must be ****ing loaded to give your kid a 2.5 build god.
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:36 AM   #8 (permalink)
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It is my opinion that the manuals will be enough.

I built my first computer without any real computer knowledge. I didn't even know what RAM was for. It's kinda like a puzzle. all the pieces fit together and generally they can only go into one place.

I'm not sure what your experience is with computers, but on my first build, i encountered the most problems when i loaded the operating system. The BIOS was a little wierd too. If you're having problems, just make a post. There are a lot of people here who are very knowledgable and helpful.

Good luck on the build...
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Old 12-12-2005, 09:53 AM   #9 (permalink)
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here's guide for building a PC. it's actually the one I started on, although it may be updated:
http://www.pcmech.com/byopc/

before their K8 boards, DFI were really only average, however the boards they have now have just excelled.
DFI's NF4 series boards are built for overclocking. world record overclocks are held on DFI NF4 boards. however they are still great boards even if you're not overclocking.

I would say definately get a DVD burner.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827136072
I have LG's 4163B, which is an earlier model, and it's a great drive. it's also very quiet. I'm sure this one will be also.

I would save a bit of money on the PSU. I'm not saying get a cheapo PSU, because PSU's are very important. but that PSU is a bit expensive.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817104155
this PSU is one of the best in terms of stability. it doesn't cost as much as Enermax's PSU though.
plus, you can actually take out the wires you don't need on this one.

and like said, you won't need the extra SATA controller

in the past 2 or 3 of years, AMD have been at their peak in development, with their Athlon 64's. and they've really been giving Intel a run for their money, despite their lack of advertising.

IMO, Intel really fell behind in terms of technology with the Pentium 4's. they were fast for a while, but the concept behind them was mainly just to get higher clock speeds. AMD focused on making CPU's run fast without having as high clock speeds.

the Pentium 4 and Athlon XP battled it out for the performance crown. it was always close. Intel made Hyperthreading which put them in the lead, but AMD's Athlon 64's left Intel behind. Intel kinda began to struggle.

Intel made the Prescott core, which was supposed to get 5GHZ but never even got 4GHZ unless it was in the hands of an overclocker.
Intel's netburst architecture of the Pentium 4's is at a brick wall.

now, Intel have actually gone backwards. to be specific, they are developing on the Pentium 3 for their next CPU.

Intel did come out with dual core CPU's first, however I think AMD has had more success with them. AMD has actually challenged Intel to a "dual core duel"
basically, it means AMD's top dual core CPU against Intel's top dual core CPU. Intel still hasn't accepted.

one big feature of AMD's K8 CPU's is their onboard memory controller. instead of talking to a memory controller on the motherboard, their onboard controller allows them to talk to RAM directly. that means they get a lot faster memory transfer rates than comparable Intel systems

Intel's CPU's can use DDR2 now, which is one thing they have as an advantage, however it doesn't give them much of an advantage, because they still depend on an external memory controler.

AMD is coming out with a new socket which should come out early next year, called M2, that will allow K8 CPU's to use DDR2. on top of their onboard memory controllers, it means the Pentium 4's will have nothing over the K8's except for Hyperthreading, which isn't doing much now since dual core CPU's are out.
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Old 12-12-2005, 10:49 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Re: Birthday gift for awesome son

Quote:
Originally posted by Talis
you serious? 2.5 k on one kid? only thing my mom ever got me was diablo ii for my birthday. you must be ****ing loaded to give your kid a 2.5 build god.
It's an only child...
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