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Old June 27, 2009, 07:09 PM
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Default Newer Than Noob, Really Green. Need Some Advice...

Hi dudes,

Other than a successful buy/sell transaction here, I'm a long-time listener, first-time caller. I'm also nowhere near as advanced an enthusiast as some of you cats, and as such, I'll likely have a lot of dumb questions, so take it easy on me, willya?

I'm handing over to a pal my HP Pavillion (AMD Athlon 4400) that I bought from a Bell customer appreciation sale a year ago for $200 (even knowing as little as I do, I'd never buy a branded PC at the going rate from Worst Buy or Future Problem). Over the past eight months, I've swapped out the power supply, maxed the RAM, added a GPU and a sound card, and I think it's now a fairly competent all 'rounder (runs Crisis without difficulty on medium settings). My intention is to retro-fit the HP to its original state, and lay it on my chum. Time to get some new stuff. Here's what's coming out of the HP, and into a new case, for my use:

- OCZ ModXStream Pro 600
-Sapphire 4830 512mb
-Razer Barracuda sound card (PCI)
-WD 640 Black x2
- two optical drives
- OS will be XP32, for the time being; no need for greater than 4gb RAM today, but that will likely change.

If I've got this right, then I need a new mobo, CPU, memory, and case. Think I'm settled on the Antec 900 Two, the rest I'm unsure of. I'm not loyal or opposed to either CPU brand, and my needs aren't ridiculous (don't think I need I7). My habits on the PC include dvd-watching, music, and some gaming (Crisis, Wolverine, GRID, CoD4, CoD5, etc.). No interest in over-clocking, or water-cooling. Nothing against NCIX, but I prefer to buy locally. I also plan to spend no more than $500 (case, board, CPU, memory; the Antec case is on sale 'round these parts for the next few days for $120 or less). Here are some examples of available bundles from a local shop (scroll halfway down the page):

http://www.infonec.com/site/combo_test.php

I'm not asking anyone to make a decision for me, but to perhaps point me in a useful direction. Now for a couple of dumb questions to which I referred above: will there be any problem using my OCZ power supply? The 900 Two fits the PSU on the bottom, unlike my HP. Really dumb question: do I invert the PSU? Or is the fan intended to point downward? Also, should I expect the mobo that I buy to have connections for all the 900's fans? If not, are they to connected to the PSU?

Lastly, for now: I'm comfortable installing memory and sound cards. Last fall's installation of the 4830 and PSU was as complex a PC job as I've done. Given this, is it realistic of me to expect to assemble all this stuff into a mostly brand-new, working PC on my own? Or am I possibly biting off more than I might be able to chew? I've read through this guide How to build a PC - The Tech Report - Page 1 and I don't find it intimidating, despite my lack of mechanical skill. I don't expect smooth-sailing, start to finish. Rather, I anticipate more than one foul-up; hope they don't cost me too much.

Thanks for reading, chaps. I look forward to any help you may offer.

Cheers.

DS.

Edit: wow, totally forgot about CPU cooling. Is a decent cooler normally included with a new CPU? Or is this separate? Duhh...

Last edited by Dave Simpson; June 27, 2009 at 10:04 PM.
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Old June 27, 2009, 07:21 PM
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Hey man,

Welcome to HWC! You'll find more than enough help.
I'll start you off with a couple pointers. That PSU will not pose a problem with your video card at all, and no you probably shouldn't invert the PSU into your new case (presumebly the Antec 902) because there are likely holes on the bottom for ventilation.

500$ will get you more than enough in the area of a decent CPU/Mobo combo (i'm an intel fanboy myself so possibly a p5q pro + e8400 for roughly 300$?). As for ram, i highly reccomend 2x2gb's of Mushkin Redlines.
These sticks have worked WONDERS for me, couldn't ask for much better in 1066mhz Ram.

To be honest, NCIX is your best bet because you can pricematch any of your local stores (assuming they have an online catalogue). You will often find great shipping deals from NCIX as well.

Last i remembered, the Antec 902 came with Tri Cools that have molex connections. If this is the case, you will not have any power to come from the motherboard seeing as they only support 3 pin connections.
You will, however, have enough molex connections from your PSU to power the fans.

Good luck!

Regards,
Frank

ps. the p5q pro is a good choice for you because if you ever feel the need to xfire your 4830, the motherboard is crossfire compatible, but not SLI! You're set in that area. would be different if you had went Green :P
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Old June 27, 2009, 08:09 PM
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Thanks for calling in! It's what we do :P

Anyways, $500 will go a long way in terms of computer power. I assume you want to make the most of it, and I also gather that you want to have a good system that will last a long time without the need for upgrades. XP32 is a good choice of OS (I'm using it as well) and you have a large range of hardware options to choose from.

I'm partially biased towards AMD, but any of the E8xxx or Q9xxx CPU's from intel are a solid choice as well. It all depends on preference.

From the AMD side:

any phenom 2 x3 or x4 (except the 95w x4) will suit you just fine for now and for the future as well. Your choice of motherboards is broad.

My recommendation: the x3 710 (or 720BE) or the x4 920 (or 940BE, or even 955).

You can choose to go with a cheaper one that does not support crossfire (look for 780G chipsets) or a more expensive one that has more feature and supports crossfire (its too much hassle imho, but your mileage may vary). Such motherboards are equipped with the 790GX and 790FX chipsets and most come with many features to cater to the advanced users. Your choice of brands is fairly open, I use DFI, but there is also MSI, ASUS, Foxconn, Biostar, and GIGABYTE. All are very respectable and well known brands that manufacture reliable boards.

From the Intel side:
an E8400 or a Q9550 can be had for very similar prices (E8xxx is dual core, Q9xxx is quad core)
Motherboards can be had from ASUS, MSI, Foxconn, Biostar, and GIGABYTE, and there is also EVGA and XFX (almost forgot about DFI too).

Chipsets here are a bit more complicated:

intel chipsets (p35 p45 x38 x48) allow for crossfire and only the x38 and x48 allow for full bandwidth (16x 16x) crossfire [this is a good thing, but depending on the card it does not really matter, 8x 8x is fine for all but the highest tier cards]. p35 and p45 chipsets are all targeted for the mainstream users (you!). I would recommend the p45 based p5q-pro from asus. From what I've read, people are very happy with it.

Nvidia chipsets (650i, 680i, 750i, 780i, 790i) all support SLi and I dont know much about these except that a lot of people had issues with the 790i and that these chipsets were problematic for them in some way. My dad is running an E8400 on a XFX 680i board and everything is just fine tho.

On RAM:
You probably dont need to spend a whole lot on your ram. A simple 2x2gb kit from corsair, g. skill, mushkin, OCZ, or Crucial and Patriot should be fine. I'm using 2x1gb of corsair and its just fine for me.

My recommendation:
A cheap kit of whatever capacity you desire from the corsair xms2 brand. No need for anything more high end.

Speeds/timings:

I would suggest ddr2-800 (pc2-6400) or ddr2-1066 (pc2-8500) from any of the mentioned brands should suffice for your needs. You dont need to spend money on ram meant for enthusiasts and overclockers if your not going to make use of them.


Hope it helps!
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Last edited by Cowboy; June 27, 2009 at 08:15 PM.
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Old June 27, 2009, 08:10 PM
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I'm guessing local is Toronto/GTA area?

Here's what I'd suggest:

AMD:
AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition Triple-Core 2.8GHz
Gigabyte GA-MA770-UD3
Mushkin HP2 6400 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800 5-4-4-12

Intel:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Dual-Core 3.0GHz
Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R
Mushkin HP2 6400 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800 5-4-4-12

Cases:
Cooler Master HAF 922 Mid Tower ATX Case (RC-922M-KKN1-GP).
Cooler Master Storm Scout Black ATX Mid Tower Case.
Just some other choices as well to look at. Both have great cooling and cost about the same as the Antec 902 and arguably better cases overall but I'll leave that to you.

Not saying Canada Computers is the cheapest though, but it's where I mainly shop when I want to get something the same-day.

When building it, the main thing to remember is that things only go ONE way. If it feels too difficult to put in, you're probably doing it wrong. Though some things do need a bit of force (mainly getting the CPU cooler on), but otherwise it should be rather painless. For a beginner, I think the AMD platform is easier since the CPU heatsink just clips on at 2 points. Intel uses stupid push-pins in all 4 corners which are frustrating.

Stock CPU cooling is fine since you aren't overclocking. If you do ever overclock though, it's something you should definitely consider doing.

All your parts will work perfectly fine. I don't foresee any issues.

I'd suggest scrapping your optical drives if they are IDE though and getting SATA ones. It makes managing cables far easier. And cable management matters a ton to get optimal airflow through the case. If all your wires are blocking the fans, then you obviously aren't going to get the best cooling. Also I don't really believe there's a need for 2, but that's personal choice.

One last thing, I'd recommend downloading the Windows 7 RC 64bit and running that over XP. Then at least you can fully use all 4GB if need be. In XP you're only able to use like 3.5GB.
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Old June 28, 2009, 09:09 AM
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Gotta chime in on this one :P. Infonec is actually one of the best places to shop if you want to buy locally in the GTA. You can price match with them pretty often and their pretty good about it. Also, for all warranties, they go through Infonec rather than have you pay for the shipping and such when you need to RMA. In terms of service, warranty, their almost on par with NCIX. My onl issue with them is their lack of return policy. Oh, and I think you can also special order some parts too if their over $50 or something according to a friend but not exactly sure about that. Canada Computers isn't bad since you can return stuff for a restocking fee if you REALLY don't want it but their warranty with the store is only 7 days if that's an issue for you.

Up to you in the end but i prefer pm'ing at Infonec :D
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Old June 28, 2009, 10:34 AM
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Newegg.ca has the x3 720BE $139+freeshipping, overclocking with the be is easy no fuss Newegg.ca - AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor - Processors - Desktops .
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Old July 2, 2009, 08:40 PM
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Hi dudes,

Thanks for your responses; you're a big help.

Today I went to my local Canada Computers and went home with:

- Q8200
- P5Q Pro Turbo
- G.Skill 6400 2x2GB
- CM Storm Scout

Price is likely not as good as it would have been had I price-matched with NCIX, but us impatient dudes can't wait around forever, dig? Wanted to spend $500; exceeded it by $37, plus Harper and McGuinty's cut, so I'm satisfied. Retrofitted my HP Pavillion to its original state without incident, then I was ready to tear into this new stuff. Now you tell me: am I an idiot to expect that a little packet of thermal grease would be included with the CPU, or perhaps the mobo? I admit I should have mentioned it to salesdude, but it slipped my mind. He, also, should have mentioned it. So for the moment, I've got all this great new gear gathering dust until tomorrow. Meantime, that new mobo and case sure are purty...

Any last minute tips before I wreck all this stuff tomorrow?

Thanks again for your help, and cheers!

DS.
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Old July 2, 2009, 09:03 PM
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Quote:
Any last minute tips before I wreck all this stuff tomorrow?
No beers or smokin anything till after the "Build" is completed and Posts successfully :)
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Old July 2, 2009, 09:10 PM
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You can do the assembly using the stock cooler, since it already has thermal paste on it.
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Old July 2, 2009, 09:27 PM
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"You can do the assembly using the stock cooler, since it already has thermal paste on it."

Holy smoke, is that what those three lines of crap on the cooler are?? (I refer you again to the header of the thread; I really wasn't foolin'). So there's grease on the cooler, but nothing on the chip (duhh); is this all I need? Do I need to spread these three lines of goo around, or should I just assemble the core as is, and assume that heat will do the rest?

"No beers or smokin anything till after the "Build" is completed and Posts successfully :)"

No sweat there.

Cheers!

DS.
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