Request: Help choosing PC build components.
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Thread: Request: Help choosing PC build components.

  1. #1
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    Smile Request: Help choosing PC build components.

    Sorry my first post here is a thread like this; I've been meaning to add onto an 'Introduce Yourself' thread, but wanted to write this out while i've got some spare time.

    I'm wanting to build a new machine to run Windows OS - probably be XP, but i'll have a think and ask for opinions on that later.

    From there I want to use a KVM switch to allow me to use the peripherals on my main 'Windows' machine, to work my current machine which I plan to change the OS to, to Linux/Unix. Neither OS's do I have any knowledge of at the moment and plan to research at length so I don't make a naive comment.

    I've already got Mouse/Keyboard/TFT Monitor which i'm quite happy with, so i'm just look to build a box.

    I've already done a lot of reading on 'how' to build it, so that side of things doesn't really bother me. Instead my problem at the moment is not knowing what specific components to buy.

    I'm aware i'm doing things the wrong way round , but I like alot of the Thermaltake cases; and from what I have read I believe they only take certain types of 'ATX' motherboards? Now from there, I have no idea what motherboard I need to buy; nor do I have an idea of what it needs to have. I want there to be room for future expansion.

    As far as processor goes, I was looking at getting an Athlon in the mid to upper range of 2Ghz.

    For now memory would be kept with 1x512MB, enabling me to put another 512MB card in when I can afford it. Am I right in saying DDR is the way to go?

    I don't need to consider case/mobo/proc when thinking of drives and HDD's do I?

    Can anyone recommend what motherboard to get, by offering links to a few I can look at; because when I look at them I don't really understand what i'm looking *for* or looking 'at'.

    Can someone recommend some UK sites where I can order my components?

    Also, any other thoughts or comments on what to consider when building my box.

    And finally when reading other threads on here, i've seen people mention a silver thermal compound, what is this, and what's it use?

    I think that's all; if I think of anything further i'll edit. If i've left out anything relevant please let me know.

    Many thanks,

    Adam.

  2. #2
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    Re: Request: Help choosing PC build components.

    Originally posted here by crone
    As far as processor goes, I was looking at getting an Athlon in the mid to upper range of 2Ghz.
    What kind of Athlon? Athlon XP/Barton? Athlon 64? Athlon FX? Kinda have to know that before I can recommend a motherboard.

    For now memory would be kept with 1x512MB, enabling me to put another 512MB card in when I can afford it. Am I right in saying DDR is the way to go?
    Pretty much. Before you know what TYPE of memory to buy (PC2700 vs 3200 vs 3500 etc), you need to decide on the processor.

    I don't need to consider case/mobo/proc when thinking of drives and HDD's do I?
    Only insofar as the case and motherboard should support the type and number of drives you want. If you want 6 SATA drives, you probably are going to have a hard time finding a motherbaord to support all 6 natively, and likely will have to track down a specific type of case that can house 6 hard drives + floppy and CD/DVDs.

    Can anyone recommend what motherboard to get, by offering links to a few I can look at; because when I look at them I don't really understand what i'm looking *for* or looking 'at'.
    Since you haven't really mentioned the intended use of the system, and haven't decided on a processor, I will make general suggestions:
    ASUS, ABIT, and DFI make the best boards in my experience. DFI makes some pretty hot gaming type boards if you are looking to game with your PC (check the LanParty series), and ASUS and ABIT both have some uber-feature-rich boards.
    In terms of motherboard chipsets, go with the NForce 2 based boards for the Athlon XPs/Bartons. For an A64/AFX, look to NF3 or K8T based motherboards.

    Also, any other thoughts or comments on what to consider when building my box.
    Power requirements, depending on what you want to do with your system. Go no less than 350W on your power supply, preferably higher, although there is a tradeoff there. You want clean, regulated power at the expense of wattage. I've seen 500W power supplies cause system instability because they were $50 cheapo 500W PSUs, while even a 300W in the same system from a reliable vendor was perfectly stable. I would go with Antec or Thermaltake for the power supply if you can afford the expense. Avoid cheap-o big box type store brands.

    And finally when reading other threads on here, i've seen people mention a silver thermal compound, what is this, and what's it use?
    Probably Arctic Silver. Thermal compound goes on the processor's die and contacts with the CPU's heatsink. What it does it provide very efficient thermal transfer. Most retail processors come with manufacturer-accepted HSF (Heat Sink & Fan) combos that include a thermal pad which does essentially the same thing as thermal paste, but is on the heat sink and requires no extra work.
    Chris Shepherd
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  3. #3
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    Re: Re: Request: Help choosing PC build components.

    Originally posted here by chsh
    [B]What kind of Athlon? Athlon XP/Barton? Athlon 64? Athlon FX? Kinda have to know that before I can recommend a motherboard.
    Sorry, my bad; Athlon XP.


    Only insofar as the case and motherboard should support the type and number of drives you want. If you want 6 SATA drives, you probably are going to have a hard time finding a motherbaord to support all 6 natively, and likely will have to track down a specific type of case that can house 6 hard drives + floppy and CD/DVDs.
    As far as drives go, what I think i'll do would be to have DVD/CD, CDRW, ZIP, Floppy; and room for two HDD would be quite enough. If I can have room to expand on that in the future then so be it, if not then I could live with that also.

    I'm running a unit with a HD with 74.5GB, 31 of which are free. So I wont be needing support for many internal drives. Having two would allow me to play with partitions (which I was brought up to think were the devil, and am now reading slightly different) or to set to write to both disks to keep a backup.

    Since you haven't really mentioned the intended use of the system, and haven't decided on a processor, I will make general suggestions:
    ASUS, ABIT, and DFI make the best boards in my experience. DFI makes some pretty hot gaming type boards if you are looking to game with your PC (check the LanParty series), and ASUS and ABIT both have some uber-feature-rich boards.
    In terms of motherboard chipsets, go with the NForce 2 based boards for the Athlon XPs/Bartons. For an A64/AFX, look to NF3 or K8T based motherboards.
    Do these recommendations still apply? We're looking at DFI/ASUS/ABIT with an NForce 2 chipset?

    I'm not planning to use the PC for heavy gaming, but would still like it to run top current games smoothly; even if online or network play isn't great. I'm thinking that graphics card or video card would be what i'd replace most often so I'm not too bothered about what card I start with, but if the motherboard would limit me later on, then i'll need to prevent that from happening from the start.

    Power requirements, depending on what you want to do with your system. Go no less than 350W on your power supply, preferably higher, although there is a tradeoff there. You want clean, regulated power at the expense of wattage. I've seen 500W power supplies cause system instability because they were $50 cheapo 500W PSUs, while even a 300W in the same system from a reliable vendor was perfectly stable. I would go with Antec or Thermaltake for the power supply if you can afford the expense. Avoid cheap-o big box type store brands.
    350W+ reliable vendor, recognised brand name - it is then.

    Another question which confuses me aswell is that people often talk about needing extra fans, or cooling accessories because of the AMD processor and other things i'm running; is that true and is there anything specific I need or should be looking for? Also where do they mount?

    I'm stuck thinking of a fan being a large white desk fan, inside a case with a stand; and can't see where that could fit

    Many thanks for your reply,

  4. #4
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    I'm stuck thinking of a fan being a large white desk fan, inside a case with a stand; and can't see where that could fit
    I COULD tell you ...........

    As to the real purpose of the fans:
    You need to circulate the air through the case to allow the system to maintain its temperature at a nice comfortable level.

    Modern versions are getting towards the 120mm Dia.
    Larger fans spin slower to move the same amount of air as a smaller uinit, so making it QUIETER .........
    You would generally require one fan to pull air into the case: [I mounted mine at the front, low down] And one to exhaust the air from the case: [mine is at the back, mounted high]

    Make sure that these fans are both the SAME SIZE ..........[for balance of air flow]

    As for the rest of the systems fans:
    There is a fan on the CPU/heatsink, and [generally] one on the GPU/heatsink.
    The GPU can be replaced with a larger heatsink and pipe. this keeps the card cool, with NO NOISE.

    I used http://www.quietpcusa.com/
    They have outlets in several countries.
    but there are several others out there:
    http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...F-8&q=quiet+pc

    Keep these clean and clear of obstruction at all times.
    You might have the best box on the street, but without proper cooling, you won't do much with it.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Re: Re: Request: Help choosing PC build components.

    Originally posted here by crone
    Sorry, my bad; Athlon XP.
    No problem.

    As far as drives go, what I think i'll do would be to have DVD/CD, CDRW, ZIP, Floppy; and room for two HDD would be quite enough. If I can have room to expand on that in the future then so be it, if not then I could live with that also.
    Not having used/installed one for a few years, do the ZIP drives work off an IDE drive cable, or a floppy cable? If it works off a drive cable you would have three devices there connected to your Parallel ATA bus. For many modern motherboards, this means you still have at least two Serial ATA connectors for newer faster hard drives, and at least one other Parallel ATA connector. If you don't need the two separate DVD and CDRW drives, I would ditch that idea and go straight for a DVD-/+RW, which will allow you to read and write CDs, as well as DVDs, and could be an answer to your backup question below.

    I'm running a unit with a HD with 74.5GB, 31 of which are free. So I wont be needing support for many internal drives. Having two would allow me to play with partitions (which I was brought up to think were the devil, and am now reading slightly different) or to set to write to both disks to keep a backup.
    If you are interested in realtime drive backups using a second drive as a mirror, look for motherboards that include onboard ATA/RAID controllers capable of RAID1.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAID#RAID_1

    Do these recommendations still apply? We're looking at DFI/ASUS/ABIT with an NForce 2 chipset?
    I'm not planning to use the PC for heavy gaming, but would still like it to run top current games smoothly; even if online or network play isn't great. I'm thinking that graphics card or video card would be what i'd replace most often so I'm not too bothered about what card I start with, but if the motherboard would limit me later on, then i'll need to prevent that from happening from the start.
    My personal recommendation for that combination would be the ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe. I'll let you peruse the blurb on its features, but the important things to note are:
    - It has SATA as well as PATA support. Parallel ATA is what is in wide use today. Serial ATA is the next generation of drive technology that promises to speed things up a great deal.
    - It has Dual Channel support for your RAM. Here is a PDF from Kingston Memory that shows you what Dual Channel is, and how you benefit from it. If you decide on a motherboard that has this support (Most NF2 motherboards do, it's a feature of the chipset), you might want to consider starting out with 2x512MB sticks of RAM in order to get 1GB of DC DDR, which is quite fast.
    - It has a bunch of integrated stuff -- LAN, USB2.0 (common to most motherboards), IEEE1394/Firewire (less common than USB 2.0). Not everyone likes things integrated on motherboards, but generally I find integrated LAN and firewire to generally be pretty good, and USB2.0 is just a given.

    Another question which confuses me aswell is that people often talk about needing extra fans, or cooling accessories because of the AMD processor and other things i'm running; is that true and is there anything specific I need or should be looking for? Also where do they mount?
    Unless you are overclocking, you probably aren't going to be concerned with adding fans to your case. Basically as foxyloxley said, it's to improve airflow in your system which means overall everything gets cooler. Most new cases you get will have sufficient airflow so as not to cause an issue.

    Now, there is one more issue to address: PCI-Express. PCI Express is a bus system that is coming down the pipe and will feature sufficient bandwidth and capabilities so as to replace AGP. If you buy a motherboard today, unless you specifically shop for PCI-e, you will likely end up with an AGP board. This creates a slight problem if you aren't intending on upgrading for a long while as it limits your potential upgrade path for graphics cards. If you really aren't a hardcore gamer, and can do without PCI-e until your next upgrade, then it's not really a worry, but it is something you should be aware of.
    Chris Shepherd
    The Nelson-Shepherd cutoff: The point at which you realise someone is an idiot while trying to help them.
    \"Well as far as the spelling, I speak fluently both your native languages. Do you even can try spell mine ?\" -- Failed Insult
    Is your whole family retarded, or did they just catch it from you?

  6. #6
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    Thank you very much to both of you for your replies!

    You've helped to answer questions which i've had, and couldn't find answers to in alot of the guides to PC building on the web.

    I'll edit this later with a list of what I propose to buy and if you could have a look over and make sure everything looks ok then that would be great.

    I just wanted to put out a quick thank you to you both though, to let you know that I appreciate you giving me your time.

  7. #7
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    Only thing to add re:- chsh's post, and that is the PowerSU.
    Go for the 500W unit, make sure that you get the best quality that you can afford.

    500W allows for a certain amount of upgrading, and extra load. Wheras the 300W unit will struggle [heat up] to provide the required grunt to give out all your power requirements.

    Also the PSU has a fan in it, and the better quality units [also available from QuietPC.com] have top quality bearings in the fan, to allow it to spin fast AND quiet.
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  8. #8
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    The Athlon XP is certainly on it's way back, the Sempron however (fitting the AthlonXP socket) is certainly a 'home-user' processor cause of it's lack of cache. So either go with one of the latest XP Barton core's or even Athlon XP mobiles (they are unlocked and have a lower heat output) and an Nforce2 chipset, they still rock, but keep in mind that if you do that you are not going to be ready for the new AMD cpu's or a 64bit OS. The AMD Athlon64 754 socket is going to be the new mainstream / mid budget cpu socket, while the high power users go for the 939 socket, allowing a lot more headroom for growth.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator: GMT Zone nihil's Avatar
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    crone,

    Can someone recommend some UK sites where I can order my components?
    For memory I always use CRUCIAL

    For other components, DABS is probably as good as any

    Pick up a copy of "Computer Shopper" magazine if you want to see some others. All the major UK players advertise in that mag.

    Cheers
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  10. #10
    They call me the Hunted foxyloxley's Avatar
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    Can someone recommend some UK sites where I can order my components?
    http://www.ebuyer.com/customer/home/...273110&stid=1&

    http://www.overclockers.co.uk

    http://www.quietpc.com/uk/

    [edit]
    and a magazine that is just for the self build brigade:

    http://www.custompc.co.uk/

    top notch mag, great articles, full of ideas and sites.
    55 - I'm fiftyfeckinfive and STILL no wiser,
    OLDER yes
    Beware of Geeks bearing GIF's
    come and waste the day :P at The Taz Zone

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