Thinking of building my own PC

  Si_L 23:44 15 Aug 2009

I've never built my own PC, but have tinkered with my PC and have taken apart and reassembled an old computer, so I am confident about being able to build it. I want it to be for gaming, not intense gaming but a capable machine, thats the first priority, and the second is that is is as quiet as it can be.

Here are the parts I was thinking of getting, any opinions on these?

Case: click here

PSU: click here

Mobo: This is the part I'm struggling, I am hoping someone can suggest a better one but at the moment I'm looking at this: click here

Processor: click here

GFX card: A 9600GSO, I have already bought this, it runs the games I like well and is quiet, I don't really want to have to buy another. click here

RAM: click here

DVD Drive: click here

Hard Drive: click here

Sound card: click here (This will come off my current PC as I have just purchased it, though if I can get much better for slightly more money I would change)

and also this click here

There are a couple of things I will change, like replacing the stock coolers and fans for quieter ones, but I think thats about it.

  gartoy 00:24 16 Aug 2009

Hey si_l

Been 2 yrs since I built my last pc, the technology moves forward so quickly! Im sure others more knowledgable than me will be along, but at a glance paying £20 extra for a quad is good value, plus you will get 1333 mhz FSB which your mobo supports:

click here

Rather than leaving 2 empty RAM slots using 4x 1GB modules will give you dual channeling for an extra £12:

click here

Hard drive-wise, getting muliple drives in Raid0 with a fairly large block-size (with adequate backup) speeds up loading times significantly, so might be worth looking at a couple of 250gb drives with a 500GB for back up, you can still get loads of games on 500gb.

For the sake of £7 a good old floppy-drive is a must! (maybe thats me being old fashioned):

click here

Its great fun building a gaming rig from scratch, even more fun extracting the best from it, go for it!!

  Si_L 00:34 16 Aug 2009

Hi, thanks for your suggestions.

One thing I forgot to add is that I will be using Windows 7 32 bit Home Premium on it, incase that makes a difference.

I overlooked the quad cores as I thought they would be too expensive, but I will go for the Q8200 as it is a good price, hopefully will come into its own later on when you can make use of all the cores all the time.

As for the RAM, I went for 2X2GB as it meant I had two free slots to upgrade. Could you explain what dual channeling is?

For the hard drive, I don't think the motherboard supports RAID, but of course I can change the motherboard. Though my current PC has a single HDD, and an external one for backup, and this has worked fine for me. I thought that having 3 drives would bump the decibels up too much.

And I think I will pass on the floppy disc. I haven't needed to use one now for about 5 or 6 years, and I can't see that changing! Maybe just a bit of nostalgia creeping in eh? ;)

Cheers for the help so far.

  GaT7 01:35 16 Aug 2009

'I want it to be for gaming' - get the best graphics card you can afford - well, you've chosen this already. CPU choice is secondary & the one you've chosen (E7400) will be more than enough. Don't waste your money on a quad. By the time most games make use of all the cores, you'll be into your 2nd or 3rd PC. Most, if not all, games are still very heavily GPU rather than CPU-driven.

Case, CPU, motherboard, DVD-rw drive & RAM are all fine, although you could get 800Mhz RAM & save ~£10, plus save a further £10 by getting this MSI board click here instead.

Never buy a generic, low-end PSU unless you were building a basic PC on a budget. I'd still recommend against it. A good quality 350-400W one will be a much better choice for your build - e.g. a Corsair 400W CX click here.

Don't bother about a dedicated soundcard (unless it's a really good one), as the motherboard's own integrated audio chip is likely to be superior to most generic ones, including the one you've chosen. Remember, if your speakers are not the best, the highest fidelity card isn't going to make much of a difference.

A 1Tb hard drive seems a bit excessive? That's unless you have plenty of data/large media files, or will be installing 50-100 games at any given time.

gartoy, as Si_L has chosen 2x modules they will run in dual-channel. One doesn't have to fill all the slots for this, but ensure they're installed according to the chosen motherboard's RAM configuration for this feature. G

  Si_L 02:08 16 Aug 2009

Good point about the processor, I might just get the dual core instead.

Would I notice a difference betweeen 800 and 1066mhz RAM?

The thing that attracted me to that particular PSU was that fact that it is "silent", and had good reviews in this area. Are there better brands that do a similar thing?

The 1TB card is as I have lots of music and lots of movies on my external drive (only had it a few months and already filled 300GB)

  gartoy 04:12 16 Aug 2009

I've heard a lot about not many games running quad cores, however when I monitor the performance all 4 cores seem to be chugging away nicely, with the load being spread among them, regardless of what game I'm playing. When one is about to max out another steps in, & the load is shifted around to keep the temps down.

Unless I'm mistaken all 32-bit operating systems don't recognise any RAM over about 3.5gb, so whether its x2 2gb modules or x4 1gb the system will only run about 3.5gb. What I said about enabling dual channelling with 4 modules isn't strictly true as you can get dual channelling from 2 sticks provided they are in the same colour slots (as crossbow says). What I meant was 4gb running through 4 slots provides more pathways for the data to travel along. Evidently dual channelling doesn't really provide that much of a performance gain, but in my experience spreading the total RAM over all the memory slots gives better performance.

click here

Seeing as you want low noise a better CPU cooler is a must buy, the stock Intel one sounds like a tornado! There are lots about but you cant go wrong with the good old Arctic Freezer Pro. Mine cost about a tenner & its the best value component on my pc. It is whisper quiet & transfers heat away from the CPU so well that when its its idling the fan stops!!

click here

Regarding running 2 hard drives in raid0, I've found they are actually quieter! I think its due to having the 2 drives working together, one reading while the other is writing, with a steady stream of interleaved data, rather than one drive having to do all the work, plus load times are MUCH faster. As you are building a dedicated gaming rig this is worth considering.

Your choice of motherboard will certainly do the job, Asus make good boards, however buying one which the overclockers recommend is well worth a few extra quid, even if you don't intend to overclock. Overclockers boards have more features, better cooling & are generally sturdier & more stable. Plus the BIOS is likely to have more frequent BIOS updates to get even more out of it. Something like this is great value for money as it enables you to squeeze the most from your components:

click here

Today's high-end gaming rigs have an Intel i7 CPU & large amounts of ddr3 RAM with a price tag to match, if you want upgradability then you're looking at an i7 board, so of course an i7 CPU & ddr3 RAM. Your pc may not be as quick but lets face it, its hardly slouching & quite capable of running the latest games well. Looking at your intended system as a whole, I think its a good balance between performance & cost, & will serve you well for a few years gaming. In my experience a few extra pounds invested at the beginning of a build gives the best overall value for money

As for the floppy, yes I suppose I am a bit nostalgic! (it does still have its uses though)

  Si_L 14:21 16 Aug 2009

You are right about the 32 bit OS recognising more than 4GB, which includes gaming graphics, I think I will stick with the 2x2GB as if I decide to upgrade my OS then there will be room for additional RAM.

I've looked at some benchmark results for different processors, and for the extra £20 the quad core makes a significant difference, as well as future proofing it somewhat more than a dual core. How do temperatures compare to dual cores? As the lower the temp, the less a fan needs to be whirring away in there. Thanks for the recommendation on the CPU cooler too, great value.

The motherboard you linked to was quite a step up in cost, ideally I would like to keep the cost sub £400.

  sunnystaines 15:10 16 Aug 2009

the advice is all there now, good luck with your build i always get great satisfaction on a new build even after encountering snags.

come back let us know how it went.

  GaT7 18:40 17 Aug 2009

"Would I notice a difference betweeen 800 and 1066mhz RAM?" - No. You could use 667Mhz RAM & not notice any difference either. The 'difference' if any will only show up in synthetic benchmarks.

"as well as future proofing it somewhat more than a dual core" - be aware that the Q8200 doesn't support hardware virtualisation technology (HVT) click here, while the E7400 does. It may never affect you, but you will not be able to run Win7's XP Mode - a feature present in the Pro version & above. I still think an E7400 is a better option.

Don't worry about a better motherboard either. You will not make use of a quarter of the so-called 'extra' features. Don't get caught up in all the hype that an 'enthusiast' is easily influenced by. If you were going for a hardcore gamer machine, then by all means get all the extra technology & speed/RAID/extra Mhz/etc that you can possibly afford. G

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