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Complete N00B needs component information


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#1
Char FTW! Images

Char FTW! Images

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I desperately need help. I am a complete and utter idiot when it comes to computer bits and pieces, so much so I usually just buy off the shelf because I never needed to worry too much about it all, until now that was always just fine for what I was doing. Iíve always been into photo edits and graphics, but I always worked on small things before now, never for print, just for monitorís kind of work.

Now however, as part of FTW! Images, I find that I need to be able to work on much larger files than ever before, that they must be of a quality to print in sizes up to seven feet, and as a World of Warcraft junkie, I drool at the thought of turning up graphics so I can *really* experience the games worlds.

My off the shelf computer just cannot hack it anymore. I need bigger and better, but reasonably priced.

I need a computer that can handle creating images for huge print sizes, measuring in feet, not inches. Some of my files right now are at an open and working size of a 3 gig or more. For a single file. I didnít even know you could do that until recently.

I work mostly with photo editing and graphics, creating customized posters and such. So I need a computer that can keep up with camera RAW editing software, graphics software, 3 or more gig file sizes that include untold number of layers and effects, massive filter programs, innumerable loaded and ready fonts, and still work at a fast enough pace that I can actually accomplish something. Most of my work is 2D and static, but I am considering sneaking into the 3D and moving areas when I have a machine that might handle it.

And of course, it must feed my WoW habit.

I looked at having a system built, but I have no idea what any of those components are, what would work best for what I need it for, or even why a metal box suddenly became a major decision process.

I really really need help from someone that can make all those long huge numbers and super short abbreviations *mean* something.

Thank you!
Char
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#2
DACJR

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How much are you looking to spend?
What do you currently have?
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#3
Char FTW! Images

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Right now I have an E-machine ET 1641-02w. Nothing to brag about, but as I said, I didnt really need anything better, I could always figure out how to make this one do what I needed it to, even if was a little time consuming.

As for the budget. Thats partially what I am hoping to find out. I'm really not sure where the money needs to be spent, and where maybe I can go generic without risking performance.

For example, I do realize that I'm going to need a good video card. But I've also seen some places listing "graphics cards" seperately. They *sound* the same to me, but I dont know if they are. Are they different, and my lack of knowledge just makes me miss what those differences are? Do I need both a video card AND a graphics card? Also I've read stuff about having 2 or more video cards, overclocking, and slaving. Is this something I need to consider?

I've dug around a little and looked at components, fiddled around with custom build places, and just to be honest I just do not know enough to really give a budget. I know that I don't want to spend more than I have to, but I also do not want to need to build a new machine in six months just to keep up with my work.

If it helps, I'm trying to find the place where proformance for what I do and cheap meet up. I'm not looking for my dream machine (yet), but something that can do the job without emptying the bank account.

Thank you.
Char
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#4
DACJR

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I don't know anything about photo editing or 3GB pictures......
When choosing a video card you are going to want a PCIe 2.0 card. This is just the newest version of PCIe and so it's the fastest. Also, you want to decide on wether you are going to go with dual video cards or not. If you are, you'll need to choose between ATI/Crossfire or nVIDIA/SLI. Make sure you get two video cards that support either crossfire or SLI. With crossfire and SLI your video cards will split the load between one another. Look at the video cards memory. Currently I think DDR5 is the best you can get but the higher the number at the end of DDR the better. As for the other specifications on a video card I don't think they will be important for choosing one.

As for a motherboard make sure you get one that has everything you will need. Dual video = atleast two PCIe x16 slots. Match a processor to the socket. I'd go with a low end core i5, should be less than 200 bucks. Atleast 4GB of RAM 1333Mhz or 1600Mhz. You should definately read some tutorials though.
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#5
DACJR

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What I mean by telling you to read some tutorials is so you can ask more specific questions. I wasn't telling you not to post or anything.
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#6
Char FTW! Images

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Oh no, I didn't take it that way at all. We had orders come in, so I ended up busy sorting and preping those into the packages for parents and just havnt had time to get back here yet, no worries!

You have given me a great place to start, I didn't realize the cards had to match up with the motherboard, I thought all that stuff was standardized plug and play now. This stuff really makes me feel stupid sometimes, LOL. When I have a few moments I'm going to read up on the differences between the two cards you suggested, and on having more than one of them, as that does sound like maybe I should go ahead and have mulitple cards even with what little I have gotten to look at thanks to your post.

I promise to be post a better response soon, real life just interupts, and I gotta do the work to pay for the machine after all!

Thanks!!!

Char
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#7
DACJR

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Don't know if you know this or not either but there are different architectures for operating systems. You want a 64 bit version of windows. The other version is 32 bit. What this means is that with a 32 bit operating system the addressing scheme is limited so the computer can only make use of up to 4GB of RAM. With a 64 bit OS you can make use of all the RAM you want. Upgrading your RAM in a couple months is very likely as the prices of it will have dropped. Also, the only reason I can think of as to why video cards and graphics cards would be listed seperately are that the "video cards" are capture or tv tuner cards. You want a graphics card. Forgot to mention to check the outputs on the video cards you buy as well. You don't want an HDMI/DVI card and you're using an old VGA monitor.

No problem, I re-read my post and thought that it seemed like I was telling you to help yourself. :D
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#8
Char FTW! Images

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Ok, I finally got finished sorting out pictures posters and buttons, and have had a little bit of time to do some research now that I had a direction to look in. What I've come up with so far is this -

Operating System - Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit 269.99
http://www.newegg.co...6-718-_-Product

Video Card - XFX HD-583X-ZAFV 189.99 or 379.89
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814150497

Sound Card - ASUS Xonar DS 49.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829132013

Processer - Core i5-750 194.99
http://www.newegg.co...5-215-_-Product


I am still unsure if I really *need* two video cards. From what I've read so far, unless I'm greatly mistaken, they would make my gaming faster, but may not be much use in my graphics UNLESS I get into 3D work, which I'm still not sure I have any interest in. I'm going to look a little bit more into 3D soon and make a final decision on that. I know this puts my motherboard choice on hold, so I did some digging in another direction and came up with some more intellegent questions to ask.

First, Hard Drives. I went searching about on the many graphics boards I read when I have time, and found where some static and 2D artists were talking about system upgrades, and then looked at 3D just in case I decided to plan for that. Luckily, on hard drives they are very similar.

The suggestions I kept seeing were to get fast hard drives, and what most people thought was the way to go was an SSD drive for where all your programs go, and large SATA data storage drives. Having dug around a little, there is just NO way I can afford to include the size SSD drive I would need to keep all my programs and filters and working files on in my build. So while I would love to go that direction, I think that SATA will be what I am going with for right now, with an eye on upgrading when the funding is available.

So, my first question is, exactly how do I decide which of the many hard drives there seems to be to choose from is "fast"? Is it the SATA Gb per second, or the RPM, or do I need to look for some specific combination of both? Does common sense prevail and the higher both of these numbers are the better, or is this one of those cases where you are looking for lower numbers somewhere?

I also looked into RAM a little, but discovered this too requires knowing what motherboard I'll have since I need to know something about pin numbers, so I didn't get very far, but I did notice that I did not see (in my admitedly limited searching) any that were DDR5, so should I keep searching, or is that for video cards only and DDR3 is whats new and fabulous for desktop RAM at the moment?


My final question, for this post anyway, is probably pretty stupid, but then I've admitted to being clueless about all this. Where exactly does one look to make sure you have enough USB ports? I find myself in great need of USB ports, both front and back, and I'm flat not sure what bit of the computer these actually plug into, and apparently I'm missing some important peice of information, because my searching keeps ending up with external hubs, but nothing about making sure you have enough internal ports in a custom built machine.


Thank you for your answers so far, I am *extremely* appreciative, you have been so helpful.

Char
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#9
DACJR

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First thing is Windows 7. Do you know anyone who is in college? They can get it from microsoft for about $30. If they are taking any IT classes that require software microsoft has an alliance with schools where they provide software for free. Also, the ultimate version I think just has some more data security features. I might be wrong though.

I don't know why you would need dual video cards for photo editing. Just if you needed it one day you'd have a video card that already supports the technology. Build for scalability in my opinion.

When selecting a hard drive look at rpms, cache/buffer size, average seek time, and match the motherboards interface standards to the drive. The most common rpm is 7200, I think it goes to 10,000 though. rpms is the speed that the platters inside the HDD spin. For seek time look for 13-8.5 milliseconds, the lower the better. If a motherboard supports SATA then it probably uses SATA-300 standard, which is 6GB/s. The SATA speed is just the data transfer rate. As for SSD, they're fairly new for desktop computers so they are going to be expensive. They're really more for enviroments where a normal hard drive would fail from a good knock.

When choosing RAM you need to match the motherboards specifications. You should choose your motherboard first as it determines what the computer can actually do. Once you decide on a motherboard go to the manufacturers website and download the manual. The manual will tell you exactly what kind/how much RAM it supports. Once you do that you can decide on how much and what speed you want. DDR5 is just available on video cards as far as I know. DDR3 triple channel is the fastest kind of RAM you can get for a motherboard not taking into account the actual speed of the ram. Just remember that RAM prices drop fast so don't buy as much as you can fit into the motherboard at one time.

The motherboard will have USB ports already on it. Your computer case will most likely have USB ports on the front also. As for having enough USB ports you can purchase hubs and expansion slots. You can daisy chain like 100 something USB devices using cables that provide a device with another USB port. Expansion cards are little slots that go where an expansion card will go but they just provide more ports depending on what you want. Just purchase some hubs and I think you'd be fine. USB 3.0 is currently the fastest.

Selecting a Power Supply

On a side note I would not purchase an independent sound card. The motherboard will more than likely support HD audio.

Edited by DACJR, 19 October 2010 - 07:19 PM.

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#10
iammykyl

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Hi.

As photo editing is more important for you as against games you really need a fast number crunching processor. Bang for your bucks the AMD in my opinion is the way to go as against Intel. When you decide which brand you want then select a motherboard with the correct socket.

You may have already found this, > http://www.ehow.com/...ssors-cpus.html contains some useful information. I have some suggestions for CPUs, let me know if you want me to post them.
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#11
Char FTW! Images

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I think I might actually have a little bit of a clue. Who was it that said a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing?

iammykyl, thank you for the link, it did in fact clear up something for me. My partner has been discussing possibly getting into video of games, and your link was EXTREMELY helpful, as it confirmed my suspicion that for video one of the CORE chips would be the way to go, I had been considering finding an AMD, a friend of mine told me they were cheaper for the same workability, but I think a CORE will allow me to expand as I need to later, rather than just filling my need now.

DACJR, I hope I read your comments correctly, in that you seem to be suggesting that planning now for expansion later was probably a really good idea. To that end I did some more digging and made a few changes. I'm including what hasnt changed, just so theres no silly scrolling to see the whole list.


Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit 269.99 (check with college prof friend)
http://www.newegg.co...6-718-_-Product

Video Card - XFX HD - 583X - ZAFV 189.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814150497

Sound Card - ASUS Xonar DS 49.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829132013

Card Reader - nMEDIAPC ZE-C138 24.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820132022


Mother Board - EVGA X58 Classified 499.99
http://www.tigerdire...1&Sku=E145-2062

Processer - Intel Core i7 950 299.99
http://www.newegg.co...5-215-_-Product

Case - Cooler Master RC-942-KKN1 HAF X ATX Full Tower 199.99
http://www.tigerdire...dy=#ReviewStart

RAM - 6 gig - Mushkin Enhanced Ridgeback 199.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820226124

Power Supply - COOLER MASTER Silent Pro Gold Series RS800-80GAD3-US 800W ATX 159.99
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817171057

Hard Drives - 2 - Western Digital WD1002FAEX Caviar Black Hard Drive - 1TB, 7200RPM, 64MB, SATA 6Gbs 179.98
http://www.tigerdire...6939&CatId=2459

Disk Drive - Pioneer BDR-205 Internal Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD Writer 149.99
http://www.tigerdire...9699&CatId=3634


I left the sound card, I found no mention of onboard sound in the motherboard description, and while I am not an audiophile and dont need the best of the best, I do need to be able to turn on some tunes when I work.

I looked for a motherboard that would meet my needs now, and have ultimate expandibility later. The little bit of research I have gotten to do into video leads me to believe that the motherboard I finally chose would be the best route, as I will simply have to buy another later to slip into video or 3D later.

The motherboard also required a change in CPU, as it only accepts the newest i7, unless I'm reading something wrong. Rather a price hike, but I guess one must make a few sacrifices on the front end to avoid doubleing costs later. Perhaps when I get everything all finalized, I can find a great deal that will take a little bit of the sting out.

Same for the case unfortunately, I wasnt looking for a 200 dollar case, to be sure, but the motherboard is oversized, so only a few cases will fit it. But then again, I doubt I should ever need another case because of expansion, so I am choosing to look at it as an investment that over time will level out to way less than having to replace to fit a new motherboard.

I'm rather iffy on the disk drive. Right now I don't need more than read for DVD or BR, and rewrite on CD. I chose what I did in case I ever need it, but it does seem like over kill, and I am consdiering looking for something more to fit my needs, rather than my maybes, I would appreciate opinions on this.

I am also unsure about the power supply. I could find no way to decisivly say "you need this many watts", So I took a guess, and would REALLY like someone to tell me if they think its enough for what I have, and maybe some expansion... or if I need something more or less.

I'm happy (possibly ignorantly so) with most of my choices, so if someone with some knowledge could have a look and see what they think, I would appreciate it. I tried to match numbers and look for what one part needed to work with the other parts, but I am rather afraid I've missed some important bit of information.

Thank you for all your time and effort, it really is appreciated!!!

Char
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Edited by Char FTW! Images, 20 October 2010 - 06:22 AM.

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#12
iammykyl

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Hi.

Just looking through your selection.

There is no mention on TigerDirect Mobo page for integrated sound, here is a link to the product with a comparison to the x58 Classified # > http://www.evga.com/...ts/compareM.asp Integrated sound is shown on the product page. Integrated sound on Motherboards is more than enough for most people.

Your link for the processor goes to an i5-750. Take care when ordering.
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#13
DACJR

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I'm not sure on your needs for a disc drive but unless you are using a nice monitor with HDMI that supports 1080p, in my opinion, it's not worth it. I just built a system and got a DVD/CD-RW for $20.

The video card you linked has an HDMI output. If you are using a nice HDmonitor then you can run your sound through the monitor. Research it and find out. I know my video card is only connected to the motherboard through its PCIe x16 slot and it sends my sound through it. My motherboard has onboard audio though. The pictures of the motherboard show HD audio jacks on the back of it. So you can discard this whole paragraph.

Your video card requires 500w minimum. It is going to get this from the 12v rail on the power supply. To find out how much wattage is on that rail I had to find a picture of the label on the side of the actual PSU. The specs on the retailers website just list how many amps the rail had. If you are going to build for dual or triple video go with 1000 or more watts. Check the connectors on it and make sure you have as many SATA and PCIe connectors as you need. If it doesn't you can always buy cheap adapters to convert them to your needs. Modular PSU let you choose what cables you need for the computer and plug them in as you go so you won't have clutter to restrict air flow. Just remember to get more wattage than you need cause it will lose some over time and if you run it at its maximum it will die faster. So if your computer needs 1000W minimum get 1200W.

The motherboard doesn't say what form factor it is but with all those PCIe x16 slots you'll need a big one.
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#14
DACJR

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Just noticed on the retailers website for your motherboard that it has 8 or 9 SATA 3.0GB/s connectors. SATA 3GB/s is SATA 2 standard not 3. Check the motherboard manual and make sure. Vendors sometimes list inaccurate specs on their websites.
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#15
DACJR

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Sorry, my brain is fried today. Are you planning on assembling this computer yourself? It's not as complicated to assemble a computer as it seems. The only thing that scared me when I built my first one was putting the processor in. But I wouldn't reccomend it since you're going so high end. One mistake will be an expensive one. If you are though make sure you buy some thermal compound for the processor and heat sink. If the processor you chose does not come with a fan included you need to purchase a heat sink as well. You can get a nice one here. It's a liquid cooler. If you do get this let me know and I'll tell you some of the problems I had installing it so you can avoid them.
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