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Thread: General advice on "how to build a computer"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2002


    hello there,

    i'm considering on building a new computer for myself after VCE examinations (end of high school exams for those overseas and those not living in melb, Aust.). But unfortuantely, i'm rather behind on the issues of what to buy and what goes best with what. I'm looking to build a fairly good system (for gaming and work) but not one that would go over the $5000 mark - under $4000 would be great.

    Here are the currently things that i'm looking at (if you think something is better, cheaper, or just like recommending it, then recommend it :) .)

    intel P4 2.8/800 (would amd be better?)


    ? (what's the recommended nowdays? is the standard DDR ram now?)


    (somebody help me out here, i'm looking at several Gigabyte boards but got no idea if it is good with the cpu)

    Hard Drive:

    120G seagate 7200 8M (cheap and good, i think?)


    What ever i find cheap on the market that day
    (is this actually recommended? or should i just stick with a CDRW for the moment until price drops a bit further?)

    Video Card:

    Looking at a Sapphire 9700 128 pro (Radeon Card)
    (anybody got any other good vid cards to recommend, cause this one's a tad expensive i'm thinking.)

    Sound Card:

    Creative audigy 2 6.1 (any better sound cards for decent price?)


    i'm looking at LCD screens at the moment, and the Sony 19" SDMS93 looks pretty good, though quite high up there.

    Case & stuff:

    Advice desperately needed here, as i've got no idea on the power required, nor the amount of cooling fans required, hell i don't even know any good custom cases.


    i can salvage speakers, mouse, keyboards and other minor things from my current outdated system, but if you think something is good and worth it, tell me :D .

    Also, if i left out anything, don't hesitate to remind this poor little lost boy.

    thx all

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2001


    $4000 - $5000 AU right? that is a will get a MIGHTY fine system for that. i work with AMD systems so this will be from a AMD point of view.

    Intel systems are a slightly better these days than AMD, if you
    want to go with AMD then i suggest getting a Athlon 64 system.

    Ram is generally PC-3200, running @ 400mhz. there are PC-3500 and pc-4000's, but the 400mhz DDR versions are the more common.

    Motherboards, there are a vast lot of options. I got myself a Asus A7N8X deluxe, but if you want to go with the Athlon64 option, they need a whole new socket. The current ones have everything from 5.1 sound to Lan Cards, heaps of expansion slots, cooling, etc.

    I recommend getting the Western Digital 8mb SE versions, thats if you want to stick with the P-ATA. Serial ATA is the new thing and would work well with a Athlon 64.

    DVD + CDRW, i can only recommend the Liteon range of CD-burners, cheap, fast and reliable. havent looked into DVD burning yet.

    Video cards, you may wish to go with a Radeon 9800, the best card out these days. i believe there is a version with DDR-II memory incorparated.

    Sony LCD's, if they are like the CRT's, are overpriced. sure they look good and that, but the CRT's were a lot dearer than other manufacturers, who could make a screen just as good.

    Soundcards arent particulary necessary these days, the onboard sound is very good, unless you want do do sound recording, mixing all that stuff you probably wouldnt need a Audigy 2. If you are just into mp3's, gaming etc than a good onboard soundchip would be good.

    A system with all the works (depending on pci cards, video card etc) would need around a 400w-450 Power supply. You would probably get it to work on less, but if you plan on adding extra hard drives, burners and that you might land in hot water. better to get say a 530w or something.

    Lian-Li make aliminum cases of high quality, might want to take a look. Antec are another good one, but not all aliminum, and a bit cheaper. Thermaltake also do well in this dept.

    To get the kick ass sound, take a look at the Logitech-640's or 680's...cant remember which one :( they are THX certified and very very good. Logitech elite mouse and wireless MX-700 are awesome!

    hope that helped :thumb:

    but i reckon by the time you finish your VCE exams the Athlon64 option will be the best bet. Thats if you go AMD at all!
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    DC++ - handy481 :: Sweden Xperience :: BootCamp 02 :: Revolution xShare 01 :: Mp3Heaven

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2002


    hrmm, i heard that amds are good only if you like overclocking as they tend to run hotter then intels.

    do you think it would be better to buy one stick of 512mb RAM or 2 sticks of 256mb? is there any difference apart from taking up more slots and price?

    Radeon 9800 is fairly expensive at the moment, but i'll have another look at the end of the year if the price drops a bit =D.

    i'm a bit ignorant of onboard sound... is it part of the motherboard or something?

    i haven't exactly seen any Athlon 64s on sale in melb computer shops yet, newest i've seen is a athlon 3200XP, what's the current price for a Athlon 64 anyway?

    Sony appears to be the only company that stock a decent 19" LCD screen, there are plenty way cheaper 17" ones around, like from LG, but i'm hunting for a 19" if possible.

    hrmm... from my early calcs on te cost for this equip, it came at around $3800 (though i might be using slightly overpriced figures) excluding the case and other accessories. so i was thinking of around $4000 for the slightly better system.

    mm... yes... logitic mouses..... think i'll get myself one from a computer swap meet or something, if i have spare cash =D.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2001


    if your a hardcore gamer and want to mess around with image editing, videos and that, than 1gb of RAM would do well...

    if you use 2 sticks of identical ram they are put into dual channel mode, instead of having 1 memory bus they have you get a fairly decent performance boost. 2x 512mb would be ideal.

    "onboard sound" (aka intergrated) means it is built into the motherboard itself. they dont suck much resources and are very decent.

    im not sure on the athlon 64 pricing, i dont think they are quite out yet. but they should be out by the time your ready to buy.

    since your in melbourne, take a look at

    they are a great dealer, ive delt with them about a dozen times and never had a stuffup, ripoff, and prompt delivery. prices arent the cheapest though.
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    DC++ - handy481 :: Sweden Xperience :: BootCamp 02 :: Revolution xShare 01 :: Mp3Heaven

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2002


    hey, thx for the site, it seems quite good, checking it out now.

    just wondering, if i was to choose a intel cpu, what motherboards are good with it?

    also just remembered, when you buy a cpu, it doesn't come with a heatsink does it? you'll have to buy yourself one right? if you do, what would you recommend? and also, anything i need to know for installing a heatsink?


    just had a look at motherboard s and remembered another question: wats the difference between normal pci vid cards and agp vid cards? is there a major price and quality difference?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2003


    Dual Channel does almost nothing on Athlon XP systems so you can do without it if need be, especially if going for a high overclock where it may hinder you.

    The best Intel boards:
    1. ASUS P4C800E
    2. Abit IC7-MAX3

    These are best paired with a 2.4c or 2.6c. The box comes with a heatsink.

    Don't buy a PCI video card if you plan on gaming. They haven't made any of the recent video cards use PCI because its a bottleneck, so if you get anything good it will be AGP.

    FX5900 - 3DMark2001 [20,566] - 3DMark2003 [7,281] - Aquamark3 [56,694]
    Ti4400 - 3DMark2001 [16,028]

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    New England Highlands, Australia


    Quite frankly atm I'd go with a P4C, an i865 or i875 based mobo (not Intel made of cause) and some good 2x PC3500/3700/4000 memory modules.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2003


    Scorptec is a very good store, also check out IT-supermarket
    if your into casemodding or premodded cases
    the it-supermarket website is a bit dodgey though but of all the places i went around melb they were the only one to get a Hercules GameTheater XP 7.1.

    i personally recommend an AMD chip as for gaming and stuff i believe they are better value. I saw some opterons for sale on scorptec but the cheapest were priced around $678 but they're not intended as home use cpu's anyway

    on scorptec you can see several well priced very reasonable dvd writers like the Liteon LDW-401S although this only a + drive it is well price at $295 if you want a drive that can write +/- then try the Pioneer DVR-106BK if I've read t correctly it can do both DVD R+/- and DVDRW +/- and is well priced at $399

    here is a recommended system from me, excluding assembly costs i am going to assume your going to DIY

    cpu: AMD Athlon XP 3000+ $470
    m/b: MSI K7N2DELTAILSR $220
    RAM: Kingston twinpack 1Gb $380
    Video: Gigacube Radeon 9800 pro 128Mb $650
    Sound: Hercules GameTheater XP 7.1 $220
    CD/DVD: Liteon 16x DVD drive $75
    Writer: Pioneer DVR-106BK $399
    Cooler: Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu $79
    PSU: Antec True Power 430W $155
    HDD: Seagate 120 Gb SATA $220
    Case: GMC X-21 Trinity $195

    i saw one of those at a lan they are pretty good looking and well priced they also have all sorts of noise dampening stuff so they are very quiet and they come with 2 case fans, dont buy a Lian-Li in Australia the prices are murder.

    Total: $3063
    all prices were from scorptec and pccasegear
    a very decent system in my opinion anyone got anything better?
    AMD Athlon XP 2000+
    MSI K7T 266 Pro2 - RU
    256Mb Samsung 333 Mhz DDR
    Leadtek GeForce 3 ti 200 64Mb
    Seagate 80 Gb
    Volcano 9 with coolmod

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2003


    He already decided on Intel, which is a good choice. It is currently the most popular and fastest system you can build for your dollar. AMD will be cheaper but not quite as good.

    Pentium 4 2.4c. Clock it up to 3.0 and have a very fast processor for not a lot of money. This can be easily done with a good motherboard and memory. Extra cooling is not required for this as the Intel heatsink is adequte, but there are better ones that will get you better temperatures to take you further if you wish.

    PC3200 (DDR400) is the standard and will do you fine, but faster memory will net you better results when overclocking. Kingston HyperX 3200 would be the recommended DDR400 for its fast timings and overclockability and OCZ 3700 Gold for the high end. Both of these can reach DDR500 speeds but the Kingston will need more voltage than your motherboard can supply thus needing modification. Therefore the OCZ 3700 Gold is the next best choice.

    ASUS P4C800E. This can be substituted with the P4P800 if money is a concern. If not overclocking it won't really matter.

    Hard Drive
    The Seagate is a good drive. However if you want something really fast, a Western Digital Raptor is the way to go. If you have cash to spend, get two of them and use the onboard RAID feature to put them in RAID 0 thus nearly doubling performance and getting outrageous speeds. This is a very good idea because the bottleneck in todays systems is slow hard drives.

    Video Card
    Radeon 9700 Pro is a very good choice, and can be had for around $250 US. If you prefer you can get a 9700 non pro for around $200, but make sure it uses the same memory chips as the Pro otherwise it won't reach the same speeds. For a gaming system I wouldn't recommend anything less.

    Sound Card
    Sound Blaster Audigy 2 is an excellent choice. I use one and it sounds great with my Klipsch 4.1 THX speakers.

    For picture quality a good Sony FD Trinitron can't be beat. 19" is the sweet spot for value/performance. I am sure there are other alternatives as well as I don't have much experience with monitors.

    There are tons of these......check out some reviews.

    Power Supply
    I recommend Antec Truepower, anywhere from 400-500w will be fine.

    If you are getting a high end sound card you can't cheap out on speakers. With cheap speakers you won't even be able to hear what the Audigy 2 is capable of and may as well get the lower SB Live 5.1 for $30 US. Klipsch Promedia and Creative Soundworks/Megaworks rank up there with the best but can get pricey.

    There are many to choose from and it all depends on personal preference. I like the Logitech Elite Black keyboard and the Microsoft Intellimouse Explorer 3.0.

    FX5900 - 3DMark2001 [20,566] - 3DMark2003 [7,281] - Aquamark3 [56,694]
    Ti4400 - 3DMark2001 [16,028]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2001


    Quote Originally Posted by Soulburner
    He already decided on Intel, which is a good choice.
    he said "IF i was to buy Intel"

    i still recommend waiting it out to get the new brand of CPU's, whether it be the Prescott (intel) or Athlon64 (amd).
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    DC++ - handy481 :: Sweden Xperience :: BootCamp 02 :: Revolution xShare 01 :: Mp3Heaven

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