building a PC - help please

Discussion in 'General Mac Discussion' started by QCassidy352, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. QCassidy352 macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Ok guys, please don't flame me, but I would appreciate some help building a PC. :eek: It's not even for me - it's my roommate. His computer is 5 years old, and he has to have a PC because he needs to use PC only software. If you can't help without flaming, please don't post in this thread at all.

    There are always people here saying things like, "Macs are so expensive, and I could build a kick-a$$ PC for $1,000..." Ok, well, this is your time to shine. :) Any help would be greatly apprecited. Where to buy parts, which part makers are best and which should be avoided... Basically, just anything you can offer. Many thanks.

    edit: one other thing. He's going for value here... not the absolute highest end componants possible, but a good performer at a good price. It doesn't have to be a high end gaming rig...
  2. kant macrumors 6502

    Jul 22, 2004
    #2 is your friend.

    EPoX mobo:

    serial ata, usb2, onboard audio, onboard 10/100 lan


    I've used epox mobos for 3 or 4 years now. have only had problems with one board out of 20 or so.

    Athlon XP 2600+ Barton retail pk

    retail package comes with fan, heatsink, and 3 yr factory warranty
    Barton core is 333fsb with 512k l2 cache


    512mb Kingston DDR333
    Kingston offers a lifetime warranty through the factory.


    ATI 9550 Chipset Video card:

    There are cheaper cards, but this chipset seems to give the best bang for the buck at the moment. The link is to the video card search page. select the ati 9550 from the drop down menu on the left and click on search. There are cards using this chipset in price range from $62-$95. You'll have to see which best suits your needs. For example: some come with DVItoVGA adapters, some don't.

    variable, but lets assume the midrange of $78

    Seagate 160gb SATA II hard drive
    Seagate went to a 5 year warranty on all their products last month. Guess they learned that I wasn't the only one who quit buying their drives when they went to a 1 year warranty.

    $115. You can save money with a smaller drive, but the 160gb is the lowest $/gb at the moment.

    Powmax case with 400watt powersupply


    LG Electronics DVD-R/+R multi-format burner
    12x +R and 8x -R burning speeds. supports dual layer burning. I've been very impressed with LG electronics products lately. They've come a long way from their Goldstar origins.


    SATA power cable

    That comes to $455 w/o a floppy drive or a second optical drive.

    You can build one cheaper, by about a $100. This, however, is a good performing, 'best bang for the buck' type build. Minor variations could add maybe another $75 to it. For example, I would suggest spending another $17 on the memory chip and get the DDR400 instead of the DDR333. That way, if your friend gets a good deal next spring on a 3200+ Barton (currently $210 retail), the dimm won't have to be replaced.

    Keyboard, mouse, and monitor are left for you to price. I never price those unless asked to - I assume that the customer can reuse they're existing units.
  3. QCassidy352 thread starter macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    wow, thats quite a lot of good information. Thanks so much. Still happy to hear from anyone else, too. :)

    I don't know too much about AMD... how fast a processor is this?
  4. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004
    For the love of god NEVER and I mean NEVER use a cheap powersupply. a 28 buck case with a powersupply is just asking for trouble.

    With PSU always go name brand because it kind of stupid to build a 1k+ computer and then try to save some money by putting in a cheap PSU because when a PSU goes out it normal takes a lot more stuff out with it. And a cheap PSU general delivers cheap profomecs and have a much higher chance of going out. (plus they dont handle the change of Power demands as well).

    I would say go with the NEC 2510A burner. It a little cheaper and comes with some software.

    I say for a graphic card get a 9600 pro or better. It is a good mid grade card and it not to much.
    You are going to have to get a floppy drive if you want to put an SATA hard drive on the computer. a floppy is the ONLY way to install the drivers for it durning the install of windows and with no drives windows does not see the hard drive.

    Also dont forget to get a copy of Windows XP OEM and you will want to get a copy of nortain OEM.
    Also I would try to get an AMD 64 2800+ or a 3000+ with a 754 mobo.

    for the PSU I would recomend a Antec True power. They come with built in SATA power connectors.

    btw here is a good place to start for a list of parts for getting a computer for under 1k
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002
    Don't be embarrassed. I asked the same question on this board just a few months ago, and I got a lot of great advice. You might even want to search for the thread.

    Here's what I ended up building:

    AMD 2800+
    ABIT NF7-S Mobo
    Seagate 80gb (P-ATA)
    Samsung Combo Drive
    ANTEC case (350w PS)
    ATI Radeon 9800 Pro
    512 mb RAM
    Logitech Keyboard & Wireless optical mouse

    Total cost: around $830.00

    I bought most of the parts from Newegg, which everybody seems to like. I had a positive experience with them too, but I was disappointed to find that although they are located in California (forcing me to pay sales tax) everything was drop-shipped from elsewhere in the country, so the parts took longer to arrive on my doorstep than I'd anticipated.
  6. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

    Jul 16, 2002

    WinXP Home OEM

    Doesn't come with much in the way of installation instructions. You may have to go into the BIOS settings to force the PC to boot from the install CD or the dumb box won't know it's the only bootable volume.
  7. tomf87 macrumors 65816


    Sep 10, 2003
    I'd agree on the power supply. I bought a SOHO file server case from Antec with power supply and it ran me around $80. I have never had a problem with Antec so I stuck with them.

    As for the AMD64, I would caution you there, as Microsoft has a problem with XP SP2 and AMD64 CPU's. We had one blue screen already and are awaiting updates. In addition, spending more money on 64-bit parts now may not be to your advantage, depending on your use.
  8. QCassidy352 thread starter macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    Thanks for all the help thus far. Got a few more questions, though.

    video card - It's looking like a radeon 9600 or 9800. But... I don't understand the differences between, say, a 9800, a 9800 pro, and a 9800XT. (or the 9600 vs. 9600 pro vs. 9600 XT) Should I be thinking of these as 2 different cards? Or 6 different cards? How severe are the differences?

    also - what about a sound card?

    Also - processor. Athlon XP 2600+ vs. Athlon 64 3000+. Is there going to be a big difference there? Is 64 the way to go at this point? (like G5 vs. G4 where one is acceptable, but one is the future)
  9. jimsowden macrumors 68000


    Sep 6, 2003
    Never, EVER pay for windows.
  10. musicpyrite macrumors 68000


    Jan 6, 2004
    Cape Cod
    The difference between say a 9800SE and a 9800 is that the SE has only 4 pipe lines in which data can travel through, the 9800 on the other hand has 8. (you can softmod the 9800SE to a 9800Pro, but I don't recommend it because 9800SEs tend to be made out of chips that already have pipe lines damaged) For your average person, internet, email, word processing, the 9800 is overkill, but if you do some gaming the 9800 right now is about middle of the ground as far as video cards go.

    Sound cards aren't generally needed, usually onboard sound is fine. But if your friend is a huge sound buff, then yes you probably will need a sound card, or if your into heavy gaming, you should also get one. But remember, there is no point of getting a $100 sound card if you only going to use $5 speakers.

    Since your budget is about $1000 then I'd try to push going to a Athlon 64 2800+ because 64 bit (socket 754) is the future, and socket A is already at it's maximum at 3200+
  11. boxerchip macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2004
    You should just buy my PC so i can get a second G5 :) its a 2.8 512 ram 9800 XT any hard drives you want :) if your intrested PM me or im me @chp540

    or if you just want help you can also IM me ive built about 40 PCs
  12. boxerchip macrumors member

    Aug 15, 2004
    oh and as far as the 9600 9800 and 9800 XT the 9600 is clocked ALOT higher but only has 4 pixle pipe lines, the 9800 has 8 but is clocked lower, the XT is basically the gamers model you will get alot of software with it but the only difference is that the bios is different, it has the SAME hardware.
  13. QCassidy352 thread starter macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    I'm seeing that the Radeon 9800 128MB chip sells for $222 on newegg, whereas the Radeon 9800 (not pro, not XT) sells for $144. There has to be a difference... no?

    Then there is the "Sapphire" 9800 Pro... the "gold edition..." There are 55 hits if you search for "Radeon 9800" on newegg! Pardon my ignorance, but how on earth can one sort through this? How and why are there seemingly dozens of versions (yet most are nearly the same) of the same card?
  14. friarbayliff macrumors regular

    Jul 20, 2004
    MN / IN
    absofrickinlutely. Newegg is awesome - I would recommend it for just about everything.
  15. Timelessblur macrumors 65816


    Jun 26, 2004
    I would not worry about that to much. Just make sure you dont turn on DEP for everything. The AMD 64 are faster than there CP equilent chips.

    I been running trouble free with an AMD64 computer with SP2 since the day it came out back around 8/8

    As for the guy you said never buy windows you are telling him to do something illiage and breaking the law. It on about the same line as lets say me asking for someone to give me a copy of Panthor or just downloading Panthor. Either way it is stealing. Plus having a legit copy saves you a huge amont of problems down the road
  16. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    I would suggest looking at the 2500+ vice the 2600+.

    You can save a little scratch, $79 vice $92. Plus the 2500+ is great for overclocking. It is easy to get them to 3200+ levels.

  17. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    Agreed! is also good. You might want to check them out. They have some great deals at times as well.

    And for those of us in Japan, who are spoiled beyond belief, Akihabara is superb. Around Japan you can also find Zoa, PC Depot and other stores where we can get great deals on hardware componenets.

  18. OldManJimbo macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2004
    California Coast
    Other than the joy of building your own, why shouldn't this chap just purchase a previously owned PC from eBay or some other source?
  19. QCassidy352 thread starter macrumors G4


    Mar 20, 2003
    Bay Area
    mostly because now he is excited about building it himself... plus, you never really know what someone has done to a used PC. I mean... I know enough about macs to give a used one the needed cleaning and inspection... not so much with PCs. If they badly overclocked things and made them unstable or something like that, I wouldn't know what to do about it.

    oh, and btw, he has already ordered the parts from newegg now... but just for my own curiosity's sake, can someone explain the 50+ flavors of Radeon 9800 to me?
  20. madoka macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    I recently built my first PC:

    - Antec P160 case $100
    - Aspire 500w PS $55
    - Asus motherboard $100
    - AMD 64 3000+ $200
    - NEC 2510 DVD burner $75
    - Maxtor 250G HD $120
    - Second Maxtor 250G HD $120
    - Kingston PC3200 1 gig memory $150
    - Sony Floppy drive $12
    - ATI 9800 Pro $150
    - Soundblaster ZS Gamer $75

    So for a bit over $1200, you get a fairly high end computer: 3.0ghz computer with 1 gig memory and 500gig HD and dual layer DVD burner.


    1. Do not get the NEC 2510. Get the new Pioneer 108 or the new NEC 3500 instead. Not much more money, and they are much faster.

    2. If you are confused with which 9800 Pro, just get the one ATI makes. They are the makers of the chip anyways. BTW, the latest games like Farcry and Doom3 can bring the 9800 Pro to it's knees.

    3. 9800 Pros require a lot of power, so do not cheap out on the PS.

    4. You'd still have to pry my Mac from my cold dead hands. :D
  21. madoka macrumors 6502


    Jul 17, 2002
    Tigerdirect sucks @$$. They do not honor rebates and their customer service is poor. Go to any consumer site and learn the gory details.

    In addition to newegg, I'd recommend Zipzoomfly. They seem to have prices within spitting distance of each other and their service is both impeccable.
  22. janey macrumors 603


    Dec 20, 2002
    sunny los angeles
    i second the good quality power supply unit post :p
    it is so throughly weird and annoying when one of three things happen
    1) power supply dies
    2) power supply dies and takes some hardware with it
    3) power supply cant handle the power needs of the hardware - stupid me, i used some years old psu i found in my closet for a new PC i was building, the stupid thing wouldnt even turn on and the thing just beeped at me. i went to fry's and got the cheapest one i could get my hands on, it died, i got a nice antec one and it worked like a charm.

    you'd be doing yourself a big favor by buying a good one, saving money and time.
  23. justinshiding macrumors member

    May 7, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    Since your budget is about $1000 then I'd try to push going to a Athlon 64 2800+ because 64 bit (socket 754) is the future, and socket A is already at it's maximum at 3200+

    Not to nit pick...but if you want something that's going to be used for a while for the mainline 64 bit amd chips i'd go with socket 939 (recently released) it supports dual channel memory and the newer athlon chips...the 754 will be the line for low end (sempron) chips and single channel ram. only problem is that the lowest processor for the 939 platform is the 3500 + ...which is more than 400 dollars...

    I think the 32 bit chips give my bang for the buck at this point...especially since the 64 bit issue wont really come into play for a while yet , and for a low end system...probably wouldnt matter.
  24. egor macrumors regular

    Jun 3, 2004
    Egor's super fun happy tips...

    If you're not going for 64bit, but have quite a bit to spend on a processor, go for a mobile athlon, it'll run cooler, at lower voltages, has the multiplier unlocked and is therefore the best athlon to go for if you want to overclock, and even if you don't want to overclock, its a good buy because you can run the heatsink fan low (and therefore, it won't sound like a hoover)

    I'm in the UK, so quoting in pounds an AMD athlonXP2500+ mobile, with a barton core will cost you £70.44 whilst the equivalent non-mobile will cost you £58.69... so, in US dollars it will cost you an extra 20 bucks... which I think is well worth it considering it will run at a voltage as low as 1.45v

    Also, I don't know if its been mentioned, but, if you go for the OEM windowsXP, here in britain you have to buy some hardware with it or they won't sell it to you, if thats the case in the states, remember to buy it when you buy your hardware and whatnot.

    Someone mentioned getting the 9800pro that 'ATI makes', I'm not so sure on that, because I haven't seen any generic ones out there and also, I believe the 9800 cards themselves are actually manufactured by 'powercolour (or is it connect3d? I always forget...), it doesn't make too much of a difference which one you buy, but the two manufacturers I'd go for in particular would be Hercules or Asus, Hercules in particular seem to stick a good heatsink on their cards, as do Asus (I think...), altho I've only tried hercules. Right now I'm having difficulty finding 9800s which haven't had useless features added and been called 'the beast', along with their price ramped up to around £250 which is pointless considering you can get an X800pro for around that amount...

    Also, I'd disagree completely that Doom 3 and Far Cry would bring the 9800pro to its knees, sure it will if you have it on a ridiculously high resolution, but it should cope fine even with most of the effects ramped up... heck, I know FarCry can run marvelously on my measly 9600XT (the extra pipelines on the 9800pro make it superior overall)

    Hmm, I'm not being much help, I think I'll just leave it there and post this!
  25. Mechcozmo macrumors 603


    Jul 17, 2004
    Go AMD!

    Go with an AMD. They are faster for general work, but they also do great for gaming. They have a shorter pipeline (aka, more work less short)

    I have an A7V600 motherboard, and it rocks! AGP 8x, gigabit ethernet built in, and more. Plus, there is room for a WiFi card that is made by ASUS. Neat idea. Oh, and did I mention that it is dirt cheap? Great too. Great for overclocking if you wanna do that.....


    Any Athlon processor that goes into a Type-A or Socket-A will work. I've got a 2500+ which runs at 1.833 GHz but its "Intel-equivalent" is 2.5Ghz.

    I scavenged a lot of parts. Untill recently, my floppy drive didn't have a faceplate. I also pulled a SCSI card and CD burner that was SCSI out of an old, nonworking box. So, use that old box's parts to build the new one. Cuts the cash needed.

    If you get a case...make sure it has front USB and/or FireWire. They come in handy.

    What else...oh yea! Graphics cards.
    Get an AGP card because they are faster. Go for the 8x AGP kind because they work faster with the motherboard. BTW, AGP 2x cards DO NOT work on this motherboard. That is because the volatages required are different for each kind of AGP (1x, 2x, 4x, 8x) and only 4x and 8x use the same connecter style. No biggie, cause a 128MB card is around 70 bucks at Fry's.
    That link isn't Fry's per se but it is the specs for the card. It has an S-Video out so you can hook it up to a TV. Nice feature. I have teh 64MB version of this card, and I love it. Remember that your eye can't see much beyond 30 frames per second, and so you don't need those amazingly powerful 1GB cards. :eek:
    And remember.....SALVAGE! I built my box out of over half salvaged parts. The motherboard, RAM, and CPU were the only things that I bought. My buddy had an old case which I took, and that came with a power supply. I grabbed that SCSI burner as well as a normal ATA CD burner, and a floppy drive I nabbed because I like floppies! And I needed to take up that space where that damned plastic spacer fell out...

    Good Luck! And remember...get it to run Basilisk II or else I shall cure your computer. This IS a Mac site, not Windoze. ;)

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