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 Post subject: I Need help picking components! (For stereo jukebox PC)
PostPosted: Sat Jul 17, 2004 10:06 pm 
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Location: PA, USA
Ok, so I need to build a PC soon; I'll probably end up ordering parts and building it during the 2nd or 3rd week of August (around the time I leave home to head back to college).

I already own a mouse, keyboard, FDD, CD-RW, monitor, 80 GB HD in an external enclosure I'll use for backups, and of course those blue foam fan isolators. I'd like to spend roughly $1400, hopefully less, to put together the rest of the system (including the amp and speakers). That translates into hopefully not more than $600 for the PC, plus the sound card.

I'll use the PC for Word, Excel, internet, CAD, light gaming (Civ3, Q3A, RTCW), and for playing music through a stereo system that I'm also going to buy around the same time. I'm going to use the PC as a stereo preamp.

Here are my thoughts so far:


I'll still need a 120 mm rear case fan, HSF, and boot drive, which will probably be a *gasp* 10K RPM 18 GB SCSI drive. I'm sure that admitting to that is probably a bannable offense here at SPCR. ;)

So I have a total of $436.50, plus the HSF, case fan, boot drive, SCSI card, cable, and terminator. So maybe I can meet that $600 estimate.

Motherboard: I just picked that one because I wanted to go with a cheap VIA system. Back when I owned an NF7-S, I wasn't happy with the low frequency of driver updates (Maybe that has improved?). Firewire would be ideal for my external HD for backups but USB 2.0 is good enough.

The KT600 seems to be like a good value relative to the KT880 or the various nForce2 chipsets, but I'd love feedback about the motherboard I picked, and also about what chipset would be best for my needs.

I think the KT600 is dual channel. But 2x256 costs a bit more than 1x512 and also makes it harder to run tight timings. Is it worth the benefits? Also, since the CPU is 333 FSB, and I don't care to overclock, should I try to save money by buying PC2700 RAM instead of PC3200? Also, it mentions the RAM as being "64M x 64 -Bit," a designation I don't remember seeing before; what exactly does that mean?

I think the video card I listed is probably overkill, considering my gaming needs. Mainly I just want a video card to be cheap, have some outputs that I can feed to a TV, and not generate too much heat.

Should I opt for a mobile XP instead of a normal one? Can I use a mobile XP in any normal socket A board, or do I need a special BIOS or anything?

I remember reading some complaints about recent Samsung hard drives being noisy; is that still a serious concern or has that problem been resolved?

***AUDIO***

For a soundcard, I'm looking at the E-MU 0404 and 1212M. For speakers, it's probably going to be a pair of Klipsch RB-35. I have no idea what kind of amp to get; my budget for that is $200 or so. I've been reading recently about using pro amps for home applications, such as Crown amps, and that seems like a good option. Would I be able to get away with disconnecting the fans in a pro amp? It's not like I'd be using it in a crowded rack with other amps... I would like for the amp to have a headphone jack too though... I know lots of hifi guys hang out here so maybe you can help me with this.

Or since I'm using such sensitive speakers, what kind of amps should I be looking at?

Sorry for some of my newbish questions. I've just been away from building computers for awhile so I forgot what little wisdom I had. ;)

Oh, and one last thing. When all is said and done, I'll make sure to contribute to SPCR because my reading/lurking here has taught me quite a lot.

Thanks for reading!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 12:32 am 
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You should budget for a good CPU heatsink. That's your #1 heat producer, so the rule of thumb is always buy the best HSF you can afford-- otherwise you will regret it later. And I have! Best bang for the buck is the ThermalTake Silent Boost (thermalright knockoff) at ~$25, IMO.

1x512mb is fine, you won't get a noticeable speed boost from dual channel on the XP platform. I would get PC3200 now, so later you have the choice of going 2x512mb for a new system, assuming 200mhz DDR is still used then.

I would not get anything slower than the 9200, so I think you're at the right place there. Anything < 9200 would be incapable of 3D gaming in any practical sense.

Also am I reading this correctly, you are planning to put a good sound card in there right? I have yet to hear onboard AC97 that doesn't suck.

Of course with that screamer of a 10k SCSI drive you're planning to put in there, I doubt you'll be hearing much of anything else..


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 9:55 am 
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Location: PA, USA
Yes, I am going to buy a real soundcard, but I'm not yet sure which one yet.

For a HSF I'll probably get whatever Thermalright or Zalman is available at a good price when I make my order, and I'll probably spend around $30-$35 on that.

Ok, so I'll probably stick with a 9200 or so.

My last desktop had an Antec 380W PSU with 1 80 mm fan (the stock Sonata PSU), 120 mm Panaflo at lowered voltage, 120 mm Antec fan at lowered voltage, 80 mm at lowered voltage (I think it was a Panaflo). Both of the 120 mm fans were mounted with fan isolators, and my WD SE 80 GB, Maxtor 160 GB, and Maxtor Atlas 10K III were mounted on the rubber mounts of the Sonata HD trays.

That computer was sufficiently quiet for me, so if this time around I have one less hard drive, one less fan, cooler components (slower video card this time, and one less hard drive), and I suspend the hard drives, then it should be fine. I guess I'm just not as demanding as some of you guys. ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:58 am 
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Actually, if you can swing it, I would upgrade from the 9200 to a refurbished 9600 pro($91). Still a trivial passive cooling situation, and that would probably more than triple your framerates if you ever decided to play a DX9 game..

I've purchased refurb video cards a few times from newegg and never had a problem.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 11:24 am 
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Wumpus, based on that link, that is not a passively cooled card.

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My Power Rig, Storage Rig, HTPC and Main Rig


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 2:50 pm 
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Oh yeah, but you can just unplug the fan from the board. When I say trivial passive, I mean it. I own two 9600's now (one pro, one vanilla) and both run ridiculously cool even while looping 3dmark2001 runs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 9:35 pm 
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Location: PA, USA
Thanks for the video card suggestion wumpus.

I looked into it some more and realized that the KT600 chipset is only single channel; oh well, no big loss.

I'm also rethinking SCSI. While I really loved the performance it gave, I'm starting to really succumb to the PC silencing addiction. So if I'm not using a SCSI drive as a boot drive, is there any reason to have more than one internal hard drive? I'll still have an external drive for backups.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2004 9:43 pm 
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Good call. As always the recommendation is the fast (enough), cheap, and most importantly very quiet Samsung Spinpoint series. I can't think of any reason to ever have more than one HDD unless you truly need a ton of storage space.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 8:15 am 
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All i can say is that the nf7 is an absolutely brilliant motherboard, the drivers are very stable, and it's great for volt adjustments. If you do get the mobile barton, or even one of the lower rated thoroughbreds, it would make that ram a lot more worthwhile. Memory bandwidth and good timings will make a lot more difference to the tasks you're doing than hard drive access speeds.

griff


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2004 8:38 am 
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greeef wrote:
All i can say is that the nf7 is an absolutely brilliant motherboard, the drivers are very stable, and it's great for volt adjustments. If you do get the mobile barton, or even one of the lower rated thoroughbreds, it would make that ram a lot more worthwhile. Memory bandwidth and good timings will make a lot more difference to the tasks you're doing than hard drive access speeds.

griff


I used to own an NF7-S and it was great, but I wasn't happy with the various quirks of the chipset and the low frequency of driver updates, which is why at this point I think I'd prefer a VIA board.

I'm thinking of getting a mobile Barton, and then by running the FSB at 200 or 166, PCI and AGP would always run in spec despite the absence of the PCI/AGP lock. The only issue is finding a motherboard that can support the mobile CPU. My understanding is that it'll work in any motherboard, but that to work well the motherboard should offer a wide range of CPU voltages. Unfortunately there is very little information about the motherboard I tentatively selected (link in the opening post). But if the motherboard can support CPU voltages as low as 1.45 V (default for a mobile XP) and can support a wide range of multipliers, then I should be fine, right?

I have to disagree with your last point; I found that even just a low end 10K RPM SCSI drive made a very noticeable difference for everyday computer usage while tweaking the FSB or RAM timings didn't. Still, I think I may abandon SCSI just to try to reduce noise and cost.


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