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First build

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My background is SW engineering, but I am familiar with hardware and networking and so I decided to build my first system. I mean, piece of cake right. My first step was research: Visited the dell site and hp site and took their top of the line systems, and compared their components with what online retailer have. Outside the case, I was able to price all the components and what a surprise. A $8K system would rum me about $3K - still lot of money compared to my P4 2.8Ghz dell I bought 4 years ago. Even a dude at work said 3K was a lot money to spend on PC. Yes and no, I guess, especially if I want a system that I don't want to go obsolete the day after I power it up the first time. I want a gaming box, so I'm thinking Intel chip, yes? But I don't want to spend 3K if I don't have to.

So I've done my research, I think and frankly I'm more confused than I was before I started. The selection of mother boards - holly $%^&. How do you chose? so I've looked at some of the reviews and all have good points and bad, some cons seem ridiculous while other have merit.

I want to start with the processor and a mother board. I want to be able to play games and create movies, and maybe do some coding if I have time. So that say you in terms of a processor/mother board.

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Hi there, :)

For a beginner, it sure is difficult understanding all the bits and pieces!

To begin, I would be looking at one of the nice Intel Quad Cores, and a P45 motherboard to pair with it.

Intel Processor

What do you think about those parts?

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Also, are you looking for something extremely powerful, or just something that is powerful enough, yet still worth its weight in gold? One part that is definately not worth its weight in gold, which probably added a decent chunk to that price, is a Solid State drive.

Let me also state that you should not underestimate how much RAM you will need. I sort of recently built my first desktop, and decided that 2 GB of RAM would be sufficient until I got the computer paid off. Then I started having problems with my game, Albatross 18, whenever I tried to connect to the internet while playing. I thought it was a possible problem from overclocking, but I found out recently, that it was using all 2 GB of my RAM. So I just put in an order for another 2 GB. Along with using Windows Vista Home Premium 64bit as my operating system, I always had my Antivirus, the game running, and Abyss Web Server running. That didn't seem like an incredible amount, but I guess it was.
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For motherboards, you have to know which features you want first and then find a comparable motherboard with your "wants." Also see if that would help you in the future for upgrading.
For example, we'll take the ASUS P5Q Pro that Troy suggested and compare it with Gigabyte EP45-DS3L.
- Both have the new chipset, Intel P45.
- The Asus can only take up to 8GB of RAM while the Gigabyte will take up to 16GB (for future upgrade perhaps?).
- The Asus has 2 PCI-E slots while the Gigabyte only has 1. The Asus can do crossfire, that is 2 ATI video cards, however the speed is only 16x for the first one and 8x for the second one. There's another board that can do 16x speed for both PCI-E slots, I believe its the one with the X38 or X48 chipset but will run you around $200-$300, this is why you need to find what you need first and see if those features are what you'll be using because you could just be wasting money paying for extra features you do not need. If you can use Nvidia video cards on any P45 boards however you won't be able to do SLI (2 Nvidia video cards for better performance, it is the same thing as crossfire). The Gigabyte EP45-DS3R has 2 PCI-E slot as well and same features as the DS3L.
- Asus has 8 SATA ports (2 of these are for RAID if you're going that route) while Gigabyte only has 6.
- Asus has 6 USB ports in the back while Gigabyte has 8 ports.
- Asus has firewire support while Gigabyte doesn't.

These are I think the deciding factors including the price. Both Asus and Gigabyte are great manufacturers but if you're a heavy overclocker then a different brand would be better.

For the processor, Intel's processors performs better than AMD so hence why most people would suggest Intel.
How to decide? Well there's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad, so you have to once again figure out what you'll be using the computer for. If you're just going to play games then Core 2 Duo would be sufficient and will save you some money however if you want it to last long then Core 2 Quad would be the better choice (if you have the money for it) and if you're multitasking then Quad would be the way to go. Also, you should go with the latest technology like the 45 nm (manufacturing tech) as it generates less heat so that you can overclock it further than the other models.
Another thing when comparing Intel processors, you have to look at the L2 Cache (the higher the better) and speed. If you're comparing, you should compare the same models, for example, you can't compare an E5200 with the E8400 because they're not the same model (comparing L2 Cache and speed). The E5200 could have the higher L2 cache and speed but it is an older technology compared to the E8400. Same models would have the same letter and then the first number for example, Q9550 and Q9300 are the same models but would have different specifications like L2 cache, speed, etc. The Intel Core 2 Extreme line up are the most expensive ones and will have an unlocked multiplier (not sure what other features it has) so its mostly for those heavy overclockers.

Hope that helps,

Edited by kamille316, 22 October 2008 - 09:59 AM.

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