Build or Buy? 61 replies

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Oblivious

I tawt I taw a puddy tat...

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30th December 2002

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#21 11 years ago
SteVen;3894297I can see it, its very nice. Be careful with that Fatal1ty sound card though, its what I'm using now and has constant static problems for about a year now and support won't help at all :(.

Tell me about it. My X-Fi platinum has static issues as well in Entertainment mode. I just know most folks don't know anything but Creative when it comes to soundcards. I plan to buy an Auzentech to replace this X-Fi. The majority of folks have been more lucky with them than we have. Sucks to be us I guess. :bawl:

And don't even get me started on Creative's notoriously horrible customer service and driver support. (ahem, or lack there of) :Censored:

It makes me sad though that for about half the price I spent (err, wasted) last year on my build, I can build something that could kick my rig's a$$ every day of the week, and twice on sunday. Such is the way of the pc world, so no worries...

btw - I revised the build wish list slightly. Better HDD and PSU.




>Omen<

Modern Warfare

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1st January 2005

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#22 11 years ago
Oblivious;3894274Here's a "wish list" I threw together when I was bored a few weeks ago. It's a pretty beefy system for only $1434 (not including OS): Link: Pretty Good Gaming Rig list

A few things I noted there. Depends on his budget of course but there are ways to save/optimize the build. In the MB price range mentioned you can get a P35 board. Since it's not SLI ready the PS is a bit high in wattage for a 1 GTS build. You could further economize with a 320MB version of the 8800GTS, 2 GB RAM, and a 250MB HD. For less than half the price of the sound card listed you can get an M-Audio Revo 5.1. Yes, I own one like the poster above and I concur, it sounds amazing. The only tradeoff is it doesn't record software sound sources and lacks a digital audio input. If you have decent onboard sound on the MB you get though you can record things like Fraps with it like I do. Then of course you could just go XP OEM and buy a Vista Upgrade when ready. The XP OEM would only be installable on this build, so make sure it's a MB you want to keep for a while. You could go dual boot though and even load Vista after upgrading the MB if you buy a retail version upgrade.




Oblivious

I tawt I taw a puddy tat...

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#23 11 years ago

Yeah, obviously depends on the budget. I just threw that together for my own knowledge to see what it would cost these days to build a pretty good rig without going completely overboard like I did last year (~$3000) Try this next one on for size then...

Now for the "I'm a gamer on a shoestring budget" build list. This one is only $696 and includes an OS:

I threw this one together as a possible build for my mother, a non-gamer (big surprise). The kids use her computer though, hence the decent videocard.

Link to build list: Budget Gaming Rig . . . Case: Linkworld 3210-04-C2628 Black/ Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case [COLOR="Red"]$28[/COLOR]

Motherboard: ASRock 4CoreDual-VSTA LGA 775 VIA PT880 Ultra ATX Intel Motherboard [COLOR="Red"]$65[/COLOR]

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2160 Allendale 1.8GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor [COLOR="Red"]$88[/COLOR] (it's a hamstrung Core2Duo)

Videocard: EVGA GeForce 8600GTS 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card [COLOR="Red"]$160[/COLOR]

Soundcard: None (come on, we have to save money somewhere...) Onboard is 8 channel Realtek ALC888 [COLOR="Red"]$0[/COLOR]

Memory: CORSAIR ValueSelect 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 533 (PC2 4200) Dual Channel Kit [COLOR="Red"]$77[/COLOR]

Power Supply: Rosewill RP550V2-D-SL 550W SLI Ready ATX12V v2.01 Power Supply [COLOR="Red"]$70[/COLOR]

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 320GB 7200.10 (Perp.) 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive [COLOR="Red"]$80[/COLOR]

Optical Drive: Sony NEC Optiarc Black 18X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 18X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW SATA DVD Burner [COLOR="Red"]$33[/COLOR]

Operating System: Microsoft Windows Vista 32-Bit Home Basic for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM [COLOR="Red"]$95[/COLOR] (XP may be better for gaming though)

A pretty decent system that ought to handle all of today's games admirably. That motherboard is a great transition board too. (bought one for my 9 yr old) It allows you to use either AGP or PCI-Express videocards, and either DDR or DDR2 ram. Lets folks slowly upgrade if need be. Not really a good overclocker though.




EpicLoad

OMFG!!! Where am I?!?

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4th June 2007

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#24 11 years ago

I don't know what the point is with the Sound Cards, I've always used Integrated Sound and never had a problem. The only thing is that I've never had the experience of is EAX, is it worth it?

And looking at Oblivious' Wish List, I noticed that the RAM has 5-6-6-18 timing, is there really a difference between that and 4-4-4-12 timing? Cause I bought some Corsair RAM from NewEgg, and it's supposed to be 4-4-4-12 with 4 CAS Latency, but on nTune it shows 5-5-5-18 with 5 CAS Latency. So, if there is a significant change, is there anyway I can change it?

For cases, I don't know how much you're willing to spend, but I've had this case for almost three months now, and it's been great to me, keeps Ambient temps around 28C and Processor temps with stock HS around 33C. Newegg.com - Thermaltake Bach VX VF4000BWS Black/ Silver 0.8mm SECC Chassis/ Aluminum Front Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Also, you might want to look at mobos with SLI tech. They'll have more room to expand with. Here's some to look at...

ASUS P5N32-E Newegg.com - ASUS P5N32-E SLI Plus LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

MSI P6N SLI Platinum Newegg.com - MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail Had this one for a while, also treated me nicely.




Oblivious

I tawt I taw a puddy tat...

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#25 11 years ago

EpicLoad;3894369I don't know what the point is with the Sound Cards, I've always used Integrated Sound and never had a problem. The only thing is that I've never had the experience of is EAX, is it worth it?

And looking at Oblivious' Wish List, I noticed that the RAM has 5-6-6-18 timing, is there really a difference between that and 4-4-4-12 timing? Cause I bought some Corsair RAM from NewEgg, and it's supposed to be 4-4-4-12 with 4 CAS Latency, but on nTune it shows 5-5-5-18 with 5 CAS Latency. So, if there is a significant change, is there anyway I can change it?

For cases, I don't know how much you're willing to spend, but I've had this case for almost three months now, and it's been great to me, keeps Ambient temps around 28C and Processor temps with stock HS around 33C. Newegg.com - Thermaltake Bach VX VF4000BWS Black/ Silver 0.8mm SECC Chassis/ Aluminum Front Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Also, you might want to look at mobos with SLI tech. They'll have more room to expand with. Here's some to look at...

ASUS P5N32-E Newegg.com - ASUS P5N32-E SLI Plus LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

MSI P6N SLI Platinum Newegg.com - MSI P6N SLI Platinum LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail Had this one for a while, also treated me nicely.

Soundcards can make big difference if you have decent speakers, and a HUGE difference if you have good speakers. It also takes some of the load off of your CPU (typically 3-5% I think) as that's one less thing it has to do. Game framerates are also slightly increased due to this (don't expect any miracles, again 3-5% or so).

Ram timings typically need to be setup in the bios to make the sticks run as advertised. If you aren't comfortable messing around with the bios ram settings, don't bother since the difference in performance is minimal at best. Mainly useful to mess with those settings when overclocking.

Cases are hard to choose for other people. From my own experience, I think it's worth the money to buy a good one just for ease of building and ease of future upgrades. If those things are inconsequential, then buy a cheap piece of tin! The difference between building with my NZXT Lexa and my daughter's Linkworld case was like night and day. I love my case, it's so user friendly. I can pull/replace every HDD and optical drive in a matter of seconds. Her's looks/works great after building, but what a pain in the a$$ it was to get built.




EpicLoad

OMFG!!! Where am I?!?

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#26 11 years ago

Yeah, I guess I've never thought of the Sound Card the same way as a GC, but what's the difference with EAX? Does it make it more realistic or something, cause if it's worth it, I might buy one.

And by the way, sweet case.




Shintsu

For the glory of Helghan

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9th April 2005

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#27 11 years ago

I honestly couldn't tell you about that EAX crap (Isn't that a Creative technology?). I have Logitech Z-5500s ($300 speakers) so I do want good sound, so I'd be more concerned with stuff like THX, DTS, Dolby Digital, etc. the standard home audio things. I will say that the surround experience is very good, especially on some games (BF2 was one of the first games I played after I bought these and it was absolutely amazing!). In your case however, I'd just say go with a $70-150 speaker setup and you'll probably more than satisfied. Since you were talking about sound cards though, I would say go with a $100 sound card like the M-Audio Revolution or something. The ones that cost more are really just for more connections and recording from instruments. Even a cheap sound card would be better than using on-board as it's usually not any high quality sample rate or anything.




>Omen<

Modern Warfare

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1st January 2005

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#28 11 years ago

Many cards will have EAX 5 soon, so I wouldn't be concerned about going Creeative just for that. IMHO EAX is not what it's cracked up to be. Every time I try the software rendered version that I CAN access with games that support it, I am underwhelmed by it. I feel a good 5.1 surround simulator like M-Auidio's Circle Surround is plenty good enough. Seems like you went the opposite extremne on that $700 build Obliv, and ended up compromising brand quality, which IMO is very important. After some things I've heard even about Evga I am very carefull what names I choose. On RAM it will set itself to it's default timings unless you force a change in the BIOS. The timings are pretty important becasue they are actually the number of clock cycles it takes for the RAM to communicate. CAS Latency for instance, the first number of the 4, is the number of CPU clock cycles it takes the RAM modules to communicate with the memory controller. This is why many were skeptical about DDR2 at first because initially the CAS timings were twice that of DDR, making any increase in frequency negated. Now, however, there are DDR2 modules with CAS Latencies of 3. Basically the frequency is how fast the modules themselves operate and the timings are how frequently they can aquire data. One is just as important as the other.




Oblivious

I tawt I taw a puddy tat...

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#29 11 years ago

@Afterburner - Do you have a specific price range you want to keep this build under? $800? $1200? Whatever it takes? That's the key to setting up a proper build list. That and what your goal is, playing Oblivion maxed out with little/no lag.

@>Omen< - In the spirit of not muddying up the thread with our playful banter, I'll add some spoiler tags... :D

Spoiler: Show
>Omen<;3894545Many cards will have EAX 5 soon, so I wouldn't be concerned about going Creeative just for that. IMHO EAX is not what it's cracked up to be. Every time I try the software rendered version that I CAN access with games that support it, I am underwhelmed by it. I feel a good 5.1 surround simulator like M-Auidio's Circle Surround is plenty good enough. Seems like you went the opposite extremne on that $700 build Obliv, and ended up compromising brand quality, which IMO is very important. After some things I've heard even about Evga I am very carefull what names I choose. On RAM it will set itself to it's default timings unless you force a change in the BIOS. The timings are pretty important becasue they are actually the number of clock cycles it takes for the RAM to communicate. CAS Latency for instance, the first number of the 4, is the number of CPU clock cycles it takes the RAM modules to communicate with the memory controller. This is why many were skeptical about DDR2 at first because initially the CAS timings were twice that of DDR, making any increase in frequency negated. Now, however, there are DDR2 modules with CAS Latencies of 3. Basically the frequency is how fast the modules themselves operate and the timings are how frequently they can aquire data. One is just as important as the other.

EAX is marketing, as far as I'm concerned. I have access to it, and like you, I'm thoroughly underwhelmed by it. Granted, I'm still (unfortunately) only listening to it on some decent speakers ($80 Creative p7800 7.1's), and perhaps I'll change my tune when I finally get my z-5500's. Don't mistake me for a Creative fanboy or anything either, I'm quite the opposite actually. My not fully functional X-Fi will someday be introduced to my sledgehammer; the satisfaction would be worth the money lost. I will say though that the X-Fi's crystallizer is really spectacular.

What brands in the cheap build are you referring to? EVGA? They are actually one of the highest regarded nvidia card makers out there, right up with BFG and XFX. Do people have issues? Sure, but typically no more than any other brand out there. Their warranty is also very good and the step-up program can help for those need a card now, but something I want even more is coming soon times.

I always try to go with name brands even with cheap builds. The only brand on the build I wouldn't defend would be Rosewill. ASRock is just a cheap Asus board, Sony is, well Sony and Corsair is good memory. The case is suspect, but I already have that one, and it's an OK case with pretty good cooling. Again, it was something I threw together on a whim for mum. ;)

As for the ram timings, I understand what it all means, I just base my opinions on the fact that regardless of what my ram timings are set to, (for instance, on this rig: 2-3-3-6, 3-3-3-7, 4-4-4-8) I see no discernable difference in real world performance and small gains in benchmarking. People who don't know what they're doing in the bios just shouldn't bother with it. It's not like they go in, change it to the tightest timings and then are like "Wow! What a difference that made!" after testing it out. It's a pretty insignificant performance gain. Test it out yourself and see. Load up BF2 or something memory intensive. Removing/adding ram has a much more dramatic effect than do the timings, regardless of how fast the ram is.




Guest

I didn't make it!

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#30 11 years ago
Oblivious;3894883@Afterburner - Do you have a specific price range you want to keep this build under? $800? $1200? Whatever it takes? That's the key to setting up a proper build list. That and what your goal is, playing Oblivion maxed out with little/no lag.

I'd say my absolute max is about $1300. On cyberpowerpc I managed to set up a system that was about 1100 and met all of my needs, which is running Oblivion maxed out and then also having Microsoft word for homework, that is basically all I need: Gaming and Homework. =p

But I'm going to see if I can get some discounts on parts from a few connections I have to get he price lower.