New PC build spec

  Air_Man 17:48 11 Dec 2005

I have built several PC's, but not recently! I am trying to get back up-to-speed on the latest technology. But I'm struggling. Can anyone recommend a good mobo/graphics card/processor spec, and advise on whether its time to go SATA with my storage. I'm also unsure on memory as I am currently using 750 (ish) MB DDR 2700 and wondered whether I should be looking at faster speeds.

The use would be standard office apps plus some more modern games, such as CIV IV/AOE 3 and GTA San Andreas.

I've read about SLI/Crossfire and wondered if this is necessary. I would be looking at an AMD solution (don't like Intel).

Any advice would be gratefullly received - especially anything that would make GTA SA shine in all its reported glory (800x600 on my 19" monitor seems a bit of a waste!!).


  GaT7 19:42 11 Dec 2005

Please let us know your budget. I take it you're going to build/upgrade yourself, no pre-built systems, right?

If you can afford it, go with SATA drive(s) & faster memory - 1Gb would be ideal. Are these going to be included in your initial budget?

Would you like a CPU/mobo/ram bundle (like one of these click here), or prefer separate components?

For a start, you could get a SLI/C'fire enabled mobo & a single compatible graphics card, which may be more than sufficient for the games you're presently playing. You could always upgrade when required. And you could spend the money saved on more storage/ram. You'll get better advice about graphics cards from other members like gudgulf - he's the gaming guru (hope this doesn't embarrass him!).

What's your present PSU? You may require a more powerful/compatible one, so that's another cost to factor in. And WinXP, if you don't already have it. G

  Air_Man 19:51 11 Dec 2005

Thanks Crossbow7

Definately a build yourself job.

Budget is around £500 mark (maybe £600 if value is good). Budget is for non-storage stuff, but if SATA is the way to go, money is there.

PSU I think is 350W. Running Win XP Pro.

Not adverse to bundles, but obviously want to keep as much as I can from current system (e.g. I think my RAM is pretty OK [unless someone knows better] and therefore a bundle with RAM might not be best value).


  GaT7 21:44 12 Dec 2005

1. CPU & MOTHERBOARD (AMD, as per your preference)

A. DUALcore setup with SLI support (£313 - 335)

* AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 939pin (X2 = dualcore / 3800+ is the cheapest dualcore) click here £235
* Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe S939 (click here) click here - £100 / MSI K8N SLI (click here) click here - £78 (cheaper/dearer mobos are available)

B. SINGLE core setup with SLI support (£217 - 296)

* AMD Athlon 64 3500+ S-939 (Venice) click here - £144 (£139 click here) / AMD Athlon 64 3700+ S-939 click here - £160 / AMD Athlon 64 3800+ S-939 (Venice) click here - £196 / AMD Athlon 64 4000+ S-939 (San Diego) click here - £234
* Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe S939 (see links above) £100 OR MSI K8N SLI (see links above) £78 (cheaper/dearer mobos are available)

2. GRAPHIC CARDS (£94 - 180) [Only mention nVidia SLI compatible]

A. PCI-E 6600GTs (£94 - 100)
PNY 6600GT 128MB click here - £100 / Leadtek 6600GT-TD 128MB click here - £100 / Xfx 6600GT 128MB click here - £94

B. PCI-E 6800GT/GSs (£155 - 180)
* Leadtek 6800GT 256MB (ultra cooling system & 2 games click here - £180
* XFX 6800GS 256MB click here - £170
* MSI 6800GS 256MB click here - £160
* Point of View 6800GS 256MB click here - £155

3. HARD DISKS (£32 - 100)

A. SATA 40-320Gb click here

B. SATA II 80-250Gb (Both mobos support SATA II) click here


1. You'll most probably require a new PSU. If you do, get a good quality one with dedicated SLI/C'fire support.
2. Run your RAM in dual-channel mode. Certain configurations may not work. 'Matching' modules are ideal but not a must. Also, single-sided/double-sided modules may not work together in certain instances. Check your new mobo manual for all of the above.
3. All S-939 mobos should support dualcore CPUs, though a BIOS update may be required for some.
4. All S-939 mobos do NOT support SLI/C'fire.
5. Skip dualcore, SATA & SLI/C'fire (for now), expecially if they exceed your budget.
6. Most software/games are still to catch up to realise the full potential of 64-bit/dualcore CPUs or SLI.

Good luck with choice, purchase & build : )) G

  GaT7 21:45 12 Dec 2005

INFO / reviews / benchmarks:

* Athlon 64 CPUs (incl many others) click here
* Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe reviews click here & click here
* MSI K8N SLI review click here
* PCI-E graphics cards reviews & benchmarks (6600GT, 6800GT & SLI included) click here & click here
* Dualcore CPUs info click here & click here
* Dual-Channel RAM info click here
* SATA info click here & click here
* PSU reviews click here & click here

  the old man 19:33 13 Dec 2005

It doesn't get much better than that.
Crossbow7, that is impressive.
god i love this site.

  wjrt 20:02 13 Dec 2005

more info here

click here

recommendations and sample systems

  Ivor_Monkey 20:37 13 Dec 2005

For reference. Thanks Crossbow7.

  Totally-braindead 22:22 13 Dec 2005

I built a new PC just a couple of weeks ago and bought a MSI K8NSLI motherboard, AMD64 3500+ processor because the duals were a bit too dear but the board will take them, 2x 512mb RAM from Crucial and a MSI 6600GT PCIE graphics card, also bought 2x 80 GIG SATA drives and set up RAID striping. New case and PSU and used my old optical drives monitor etc. Total cost approx £550. And its fast, blisteringly so.

Made sure of a few things when I got it, must have SLI so that when it starts to struggle with games I can put in another graphics card instead of spending a fortune getting one of the latest ones, must be able to take dual care processors and must have SATA II.

The old PC has a AMD 2500+ processor, 512mb RAM and a GeForce FX5900 but comparing the two is like chalk and cheese.

Hope that gives you some more food for thought.

  Air_Man 12:47 16 Dec 2005

Thanks Everyone. When I've got some time to digest this fully I'll let you know what I plump for and how I get on.

This is really useful info and given me a fair few things to think about.

  Air_Man 13:48 29 Dec 2005

Ok. Armed with your advice, I have begun the search (on the high street first) and am looking at a similar build to Totally-braindead.

Apart from absolutely no luck at PCW (I know, PCW, but I want something quickly) and Maplin, I popped into our local corner-shop PC place as was told they don't do AMD 64 CPU as the "blow up"/overheat whatever, and was told AMD don't yet do a stable, reliable 64bit CPU.

Apart from feeling a bit sheepish, these comments worry me, as I am looking at spending a pretty large amount on this and certainly don't want an unreliable CPU.

I'll do a bit more research using your helpful links above but was wondering what experiences others had had with AMD 64 CPUs?

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