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Need Help BUILDING a Computer...

Old 01-31-01, 01:12 AM
  #1  
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My father wants a new computer. It does not need to be anything special. But if I can save him a few hundred dollars by building one, then I should do that. I built my current computer, but am totally out of the loop on what is Good in today's terms. If you know this stuff of the top of your head and could jot it down that would be cool.

Like I said, it does not need to be anything special. Middle of the road components...not too cheap, but not high end. The goal is to save him money over buying a packaged deal that has stuff he does not need and may contain proprietary companents or may even be integrated.

Here is a list of the stuff he needs:

  • Mini Case
  • Motherboard
  • Video Card[*}Sound Card
  • Ethernet Card
  • Floppy Drive
  • DVD/CD Drive
  • CDRW
  • 56k Modem
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Speakers
  • Monitor


Not sure if there was anything I missed. Obviously I don't need help with certain things up there like the mouse, but I listed it anyways.

At this point, I just don't really know which components work well with others. Is it even possible to building a fairly nice system with a PIII933 for around $700 or $800 (less the monitor of course)?

I would really appreciate some pointers.
Thanks
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Old 01-31-01, 02:04 AM
  #2  
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I'll toss in a few suggestions...

Video card: Get one of the TNT2 series. Good, older technology that still performs well...and is still supported by NVidia.

Sound card: Creative Labs. A SB Live is probably too much for what he needs, so look at one of their less-expensive cards. Sound Blaster PCI is one (I think).

Modem: 56K modems are so cheap now, it almost doesn't matter what you get. You can pick up a Zoom or similar brand easily at a place like Staples.

Ethernet card: Just get a 10/100 model, look for NetGear. I know I've seen their cards for around $10.00 on sale recently.

There, that's some of it. Others will have to help you on the motherboard and the drives.

Jeff
--------
Chickens go in...pies come out.
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Old 01-31-01, 04:59 AM
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If value is important, you may want to consider AMD. It'll save you 80 to 100 bucks or get you more for the same money. I know some people feel that paying extra for Intel buys them "peace of mind," but I tend to view it as more of an ignorance tax. In any event, I wouldn't recommend anything faster than 700 or 800 MHz for the CPU for typical home users. Anything more than that carries a cost premium that just isn't worth it.

Whether you go with Intel or AMD for the CPU, an Asus mainboard is a good way to go. A7V for the Athlon or P3BF for the P3. Actually, the newer motherboard for the P3 is the CUSL2 (which wouldn't be a bad choice), but in my estimation the i815 chipset is a step back from the good 'ol BX in terms of performance and stability (even when you overclock the FSB to 133 MHz).

For video, if 3D performance is of little concern, then I'd recommend Matrox. Their video quality and driver support is better than both nVidia or ATI. The 2D acceleration on video cards hit their theoretical maximum 2 years ago, so unless you're into 3D gaming, there's really no reason to buy the latest and greatest.

Creative Labs is the only sound card you should consider. Okay, if someone gives you an Aureal Vortex 2 based card, go ahead and use that, but if you're actually buying a card, just get a SB Live Value card. It's universally supported and the quality is good enough.

For a DVD drive, I really like the Pioneer slot load units. They're fast and don't have much trouble reading all kinds of discs; but mainly, I really like the slot loading mechanism. If Digital Audio Extraction is important, definitely get a Plextor drive. Their drives are the best for DAE, bar none. They also make really good CDR/W drives.

With SDRAM so cheap nowadays, you might be tempted to get more than 128 MB. On a cost/benefit basis, however, even at today's low prices, getting any more RAM isn't really worthwhile unless your father will be working with huge data files or does a lot of database work. Again, for your typical home user, 128 MB is plenty, especially if you're not running NT or 2K.

So, you've saved money on the CPU, the video card, and the the RAM. Where should you splurge? The hard drive. Get either the IBM 75 GXP or the Western Digital Caviar 400BB. They're the fastest 7200 RPM IDE hard drives available. Most of the things that cause us to wait for our PC's rather than vice versa is a result of waiting on disk access. Getting a faster drive will improve your overall performance for home user (non 3D gaming) applications far more than a faster CPU.
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Old 02-12-01, 10:29 AM
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Do you think it's worth purchasing a small SCSI hard drive to use as the primary for the OS and such? I plan to buy a Maxtor 80 or IBM 75 to keep apps on and so forth. Just wondering if seperating the OS onto a faster drive is even worth it.

Your opinion?
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Old 02-12-01, 12:18 PM
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motherboard / cpu suggestion

AMD is my preference. I built 2 computers one using the asus K7V and the other using the microstar (msi) k7t pro 2a
I prefer the msi - very stable. both motherboardswill give upgradability. You could go with the AMD duron processor to save a few dollars. I agree with the sb live although when putting it together be careful with irq conflict. put the nic in slot 4 or 5 and the sblive in slot 3 i think it is. Antec cases are really nice and 300watt AMD approved although much harder to get ahold of for a reasonable price and they are popular. If you go with this setup make sure you get ram that is pc133 instead of pc100. Buy online rather than at the local stores. You can find some really good deals if you look. Hard drive deals are harder to find lately but your dad probably won't need a 30 or 40 gig hd. 20 should be plenty.

imho
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Old 02-12-01, 12:24 PM
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forgot to mention

there are 3 types of amd processors. duron, classic and the thunderbird. then to confuse things there is SOCKET A PROCESSORS and Slot A. go with the socket A. I hear they are phasing out the slot a. the msi uses the socket a (duron or tbird) the K7V uses slot a. Later if you get brave you can overclock the duron easily to get more life out of it but for now it sounds like this wouldnt be until way in the future.

if I am wrong about anything please correct me

again imho
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Old 02-12-01, 01:31 PM
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Re: forgot to mention

Originally posted by FreeIsFun
there are 3 types of amd processors. duron, classic and the thunderbird. then to confuse things there is SOCKET A PROCESSORS and Slot A. go with the socket A. I hear they are phasing out the slot a. the msi uses the socket a (duron or tbird) the K7V uses slot a. Later if you get brave you can overclock the duron easily to get more life out of it but for now it sounds like this wouldnt be until way in the future.

if I am wrong about anything please correct me

again imho
All sounds about right.

IMO, you can't go wrong with Durons for "economy" computers. Dead cheap, relatively speaking, and if you're so inclined you can overclock the nuts off them. People reporting a 50% overclock are not unheard of, but even without insane cooling methods you can easily get at least 20% overclock or so, if what I've read is reliable.
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