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Suggestions for a custom build


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#1
Isuldi

Isuldi

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Hey, all. I'm looking to get a little experience in the building community, so any help on my first build would be appreciated.

This computer will be used more for web browsing and typical college stuff than high-end gaming. I'm hoping to keep this computer for a decent while into the future, so being able to expand and upgrade it is the highest priority here. I'd like to keep the total cost under $900. I also have less experience than I'd like with the capability of all these parts. Here's what I've come up with so far- fellow geeks, tell me what I'm doing wrong.

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.co...rs-_-11-129-042

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D Green 430W Continuous power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.co...ht-_-17-371-034

Motherboard: I'm really unsure of what to look for

Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT55TFBGRBOX
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103851

RAM: I've been told to wait until after the motherboard is chosen to look for this, but I'm hoping for around 8GB at the end.

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green ST1500DL003 1.5TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822148725

Optical Drive: LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827106289

Wireless Adapter: D-Link DWA-556 Xtreme Desktop Adapter IEEE 802.11g/n PCI Express Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA, WPA2)
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833127218

Operating System: Windows 7 and some form of Linux

Thanks in advance!
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#2
Digerati

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This computer will be used more for web browsing and typical college stuff than high-end gaming

Then that CPU is ridiculously over powered then. You don't a 6-core CPU to surf the net, create Office documents, listen to tunes or watch an occasional movie. I personally prefer Intel CPUs, but there is NOTHING wrong with AMD and they make excellent CPUs.

The PSU is one of the most important components and requires a great deal of attention - but it should be your LAST purchase decision because you cannot properly size a PSU until you know what your power requirements will be. And you don't know that until you select your motherboard, CPU, RAM, graphics solution (often the biggest power consumer) and other devices. Antec is a good maker (cases and PSUs), but 430W may be too low - at least with that CPU and a complementary graphics solution.

And speaking of a graphics solution, I don't see a graphics card listed. Note there are many excellent motherboards with excellent integrated graphics solutions. It is not like the old days. Today's motherboards with integrated graphics (and sound) are designed to be incorporated into "fine" (read: very expensive!) home theater systems.

Most motherboards support dual or triple channel memory architecture. I recommend 6Gb of RAM for triple channel boards, and 8Gb for dual. BUT in either case, you will need 64-bit Windows and/or Linux to efficiently use all of it. Note too, with 6 or 8Gb of system RAM there is plenty available if the integrated graphics needs to steal (err, share some of it).

If me, I would get a BluRay drive - just to ensure I could play all formats.

I like that case for several reasons. (1) It is not all flashy with a fancy facade. (2) It has good large (120 and 140mm) fan support, and (3) it has washable air filters - a necessity for any case if I'm to buy it.

I don't see a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or speakers.

Note that if an accredited school, you can buy at substantial discounts, Windows and MS Office. Check your bookstore.

Motherboard: I'm really unsure of what to look for

I always start with a motherboard that will support the series of CPUs I am looking at. Then I visit the motherboard's website and review the QVLs - qualified vendor lists for compatible CPUs and RAM. You MUST buy the CPU from the list. But with RAM, there are too many makers and too many options for the motherboard makers to test them all. So you can buy off the list, just ensure you buy the same specs as RAM on the list.

I like MWave's Motherboard Bundle Wizard. I often use it to figure out what is compatible with what. You don't have to buy from them, but for $10, they will mount the CPU and RAM and test them for you. This ensures the parts are compatible, plus, those particular parts are not defective. And once you factor in all shipping costs, MWave is usually pretty close to Newegg and other vendors.
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#3
Isuldi

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I was going for the high-level processor now because I'm not sure how intense any additions I make to this computer will be, so investing in a high-end processor/motherboard seemed like a good idea. I took your suggestions and found a solid motherboard that gives me what I want for RAM space and compatibility. I also added a video card, but I don't own any blue-ray right now so I think I'll skip on that.

I came across a few things I didn't understand when looking all this up- what's the difference between USB 2.0 and 3.0? And how large of a power supply should I be looking for?

Updated list:

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.co...rs-_-11-129-042

Power Supply:

Motherboard: BIOSTAR A870U3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813138318

Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT55TFBGRBOX
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103851

RAM: ADATA XPG Gaming Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model AX3U1600GC4G9-2G
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820211457

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green ST1500DL003 1.5TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822148725

Optical Drive: LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827106289

Wireless Adapter: D-Link DWA-556 Xtreme Desktop Adapter IEEE 802.11g/n PCI Express Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA, WPA2)
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833127218

Video Card: HIS H700H64P Radeon 7000 64MB 64-bit DDR PCI Low Profile Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814161328

Monitor: HP DEBRANDED TSS-18Q5 Black 18.5" Widescreen LCD Monitor Built-in Speakers
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16824228018

Keyboard/Mouse: HP KF885AT Silver/Black 104 Normal Keys USB Wired Slim Keyboard and Mouse Kit
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16823700005

Operating System: Windows 7 and some form of Linux (probably Kubuntu)
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#4
Digerati

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USB 3.0 is the latest. But note it USB 2 and 3 are front and backwards compatible. Here's my canned text on sizing a PSU.

Use the eXtreme PSU Calculator Lite to determine the minimum and recommended power supply unit (PSU) requirements. Plan ahead and plug in all the hardware you think you might have in 2 or 3 years (extra drives, bigger or 2nd video card, more RAM, etc.). Be sure to read and heed the notes at the bottom of the calculator page. I recommend setting Capacitor Aging to 30% (see my note below), and if you participate in distributive computing projects (e.g. BOINC or Folding@Home) or extreme 3D animated gaming, I recommend setting both TDP and system load to 100%. These steps ensure the supply has adequate head room for stress free (and perhaps quieter) operation, as well as future hardware demands. Research your video card and pay particular attention to the power supply requirements for your card listed on your video card maker's website. If not listed, check a comparable card (same graphics engine and RAM) from a different maker. The key specifications, in order of importance are:

  • Current (amperage or amps) on the +12V rail,
  • Efficiency,
  • Total wattage.
Don’t try to save a few dollars by getting a cheap supply! Digital electronics, including CPUs, RAM, and today's advanced graphics cards, need clean, stable power. A good, well chosen supply will provide years of service and upgrade wiggle room. Look for power supply brands listed under the "Good" column of PC Mech's PSU Reference List. Another excellent read is Tom’s Hardware, Who’s Who In Power supplies: Brands, Labels, And OEMs. Note that some case retailers “toss in” a generic or inadequate PSU just to make the case sale. Be prepared to “toss out” that supply for a good one with sufficient power.

Most PSUs have an efficiency rating of around 70%. This means for every 100 watts of power a PSU draws from the wall, only 70 watts is delivered to the motherboard, with the rest wasted in the form of heat. The best supplies are 85 to 90% efficient, and as expected, cost more. I strongly recommend you pick a quality supply with an efficiency rating equal to or greater than 80%. Look for 80 PLUS and EnergyStar Compliant labels. 80 PLUS PSUs are required to have fairly linear efficiencies. This is important to ensure the PSU is running at or near peak efficiency regardless the load or power demands. Non-linear PSUs typically are most efficient when the load is in a narrow range between 70 and 90% of the PSU’s capacity and the efficiency may drop dramatically above and below those amounts.

Too big of a PSU hurts nothing but your budget. Your computer will draw from the PSU only what it needs, not what the PSU is capable of delivering. If a computer needs 300 watts it will draw 300 watts regardless if the PSU is a 400W, 650W, or 1000W PSU. In turn, the PSU, regardless its size will draw from the wall only what it needs to support the computer. In this example, it will draw 300 watts, plus another 45 – 90 watts, depending on the PSU’s inefficiency.

As noted, the eXtreme Calculator determines minimum and recommended requirements. If the calculator (with the changes I suggested) recommends a 400 watt minimum, a quality 400W supply will serve you just fine. However, a quality 550W – 600W supply will have, among other things, larger heat sinks to dissipate potentially more heat. It might have a larger fan too. The 400W supply will run most of the time closer to capacity, while the larger supply will be loafing along, rarely breaking a sweat. To help the smaller heat sinks get rid of the wasted 80 watts (20% of 400) of heat, the fan in the 400W supply may need to run full speed, while the fan in the larger supply, with bigger sinks just loafs along too – but in near silence. Also, it is typical for manufacturers to use higher quality parts, design, and manufacturing techniques in their higher power supplies.

Note: Capacitor Aging. All electronics “age” over time. Electrons flowing through components bang around and create friction and heat causing wear and tear, altering the electrical characteristics of the device. Over time, this weakens the device resulting in eventual failure. Power supplies have always suffered profoundly from aging effects resulting in a loss of capacity. In recent years, capacitor technologies have improved. The best PSUs use the best (and most expensive) capacitors which suffer less from aging effects than older capacitor types. If planning on buying a new, high-end PSU, setting capacitor aging to 10% may result in a more realistic recommendation. However, headroom “buffer” will be significantly reduced. You can expect your PSU to last 5 years or longer. Since it is better to buy too big rather than too small, and since it is hard to predict what your power requirements will be in 3 years, using 30% for Capacitor Aging ensures you have enough headroom for virtually any upgrade.

Don't forget to budget for a good UPS with AVR (automatic voltage regulation). Surge and spike protectors are inadequate and little more than fancy, expensive extension cords.


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#5
Isuldi

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Gotcha. I got just over 530W for the whole mess, so I'm guessing a 600W PSU would be able to hum along with no sweat like you were talking about?

It there's no problem with the PSU and a change of RAM, I think I'm set for this. Do you see any final glaring mistakes with this?

Updated list:

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811129042

Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W Modular High Performance Power Supply
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817341017

Motherboard: BIOSTAR A870U3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813138318

Processor: AMD Phenom II X6 1055T Thuban 2.8GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT55TFBGRBOX
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16819103851

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBRL
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231311

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda Green ST1500DL003 1.5TB 5900 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822148725

Optical Drive: LITE-ON DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827106289

Wireless Adapter: D-Link DWA-556 Xtreme Desktop Adapter IEEE 802.11g/n PCI Express Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA, WPA2)
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833127218

Video Card: HIS H700H64P Radeon 7000 64MB 64-bit DDR PCI Low Profile Ready Video Card
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16814161328

Monitors: HP DEBRANDED TSS-18Q5 Black 18.5" Widescreen LCD Monitor Built-in Speakers
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16824228023

Keyboard/Mouse: HP KF885AT Silver/Black 104 Normal Keys USB Wired Slim Keyboard and Mouse Kit
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16823700005

Operating System: Windows 7 and some form of Linux (probably Kubuntu)

Thanks for all your help!
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#6
Digerati

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It looks like a very nice system. I might use a small SSD for the boot drive if this were for me - but I'm not normal! :)
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