Hello everyone and welcome to another guide. In this guide we will be going over different computer components for different price brackets as well as peripherals and other wonderful products. Daily I run across questions posed in forums around the net asking what they should get. What’s the best for the money? What’s better, this video card or that one? AMD or Intel?
In this guide we will answer all of that and more, and hopefully we can cause all of you AMD, Intel, ATI and Nvidia fanboys to see the pros and cons or all the opponents. This guide will be offered in 3 parts, first part will be the AMD systems, second the Intel systems, and third all your peripheral needs!
With the new Nforce 4 chipsets showing up on SLI ready boards it has never been a better time to upgrade. We have 3 different systems featured, one high end system with bleeding edge technology, sure to impress every tech inclined person you know. Then we have our middle man system, also amazing but wont break the bank. Finally we have our budget system that will get you places, but won’t be anything impressive. Let’s get started!
Motherboard: A8N-SLI Deluxe. Top of the line in motherboards, featuring the Nforce4 SLI chipset and supporting all socket 939 CPU’s. Has a multitude of features such as 8 SATA ports featuring Raid 0, 1, and 0+1; 4 Dimm DDR slots with a max of 4gb ram @ 400mhz; 2 IDE ports with raid 0, 1, and 0+1; as well as dual gigabit lan to seal the deal. Retails for for $50 on Amazon and can be found here.
Processor: This is an easy no brainer. If you want best of the best the Dual-Core 8212 is what you need. Interestingly enough Amazon sells it, although it does not include a heatsink and fan. You can find it here.
CPU cooler: With a huge number of people switching over to watercooling along with the huge heat output of the FX series processors it is almost necessary for a water cooling system on the CPU. In a high end system watercooling is almost necessary and we suggest a custom DangerDen setup featuring a TDX silver for AMD 64 series processors, a DangerDen Pump, a Black Ice Extreme II, Tygon tubing, and a Fillport, all in 1/2″ sizes. Approximate cost is $350 with silver block(+70). Build your own setup here.
Memory:Memory is one of the most crucial parts of the system, don’t skimp if you want good performance. We suggest Corsair XMS series memory, preferably in the form of two one-gigabyte modules. Our favorite is the TWINX2048-3200PRO, 2 one gig modules at 3200 speeds with fairly tight timings. They retail for $559 on newegg here.
Video Card(s): With a PCI E motherboard we are now able to take advantage of all the new generation cards. With the two PCI-E slots we are able to take advantage of Nvidia’s new SLI technology, which is what we suggest. Two XFX 6800 GT’s will yield the best possible performance and with 256 megs of memory and clock speeds of 350/1000 on the core and memory respectively it will not leave you hanging. The cards can be had at newegg for $495 each here. If you don’t feel like dishing out the money, we then suggest the X800 XT PE, one of the best cards out there it will not disappoint with 256 megs of memory and clock speeds of 520/1120 on the core and memory, respectively. They can be had for $699 at newegg here.
Hard drives: Another place that we shouldn’t skimp, we must consider speed and space. For this reason we suggest two Western Digital 74gb Raptors configured in a Raid 0 config. With new SATA interface and a blazing 10,000 rpm spindle speed they will not disappoint. They can be purchased for $178 on newegg here. For data storage we recommend a Western Digital 250 gigabyte drive with SATA interface. With a good speed of 7,200 rpm and a cache of 8mb it will be fast and hold whatever you need. It can be purchased for $200 on newegg here.
Power Supply: Here we need to have a lot of power to keep all our things running as well as keeping stable voltage rails during load. We recommend either the PC Power and Cooling 510w for PCI Express or the OCZ PowerStream 600w power supply. Each power supply has shown to have excellent rails at load and look great. They are also expandability ready and will support both BTX and PCI Express. The PC P&C PSU can be found at Xoxide for $229 here, while the OCZ PSU can be found on newegg for $210 here.
External Drive(s): Dvd burners are getting faster and faster and they seem to be the future so here we suggest one of the new dual layer 16x drives. Sony makes a great drive that also burns CD’s and a multitude of different formats of DVD. It can be picked up from newegg for $88 here.
Sound Card: We wholeheartedly suggest the Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Platinum Pro card, which can be purchased for $198 on newegg here.
Case: Lian Li has been at the forefront of stylish cases for years and have been suggested by almost all. Today we suggest the V1000 or V2000 models. The V1000 models are Mid-tower cases with a stylish aluminum look, Lian Li’s trademark. The V2000 is also aluminum but is a full tower, featuring quite a bit more space. Each case is BTX ready and is full featured. The V1000 retails around $198 on newegg here, and the V2000 is about $246 on newegg here.
We have left out a floppy drive as we feel it is not necessary for day to day tasks, but a decent external Sony drive can be had for about $24 and can be removed easily. We have found that the only use for an floppy is for installing raid drivers, so if possible borrow a friends. Find it on newegg here.
That concludes our High End system, time to move onto mid level.
Motherboard:We suggest two motherboards, each leading a different way in technical views. First we offer the Asus AV8 for socket 939 processors. Featuring a Via K8T800 Pro chipset with 4 memory slots, AGP 8x and SATA in a feature full package for $111 at newegg it’s a great buy. Pick it up here. Our second choice is the Gigabyte GA-K8NF-9. Featuring a new NForce 4 chipset with a PCI Express graphics slot it’s the most bang for your buck plus expandability. Four SATA slots and four memory slots top off the package for a measly $149. It can be found here.
Processor: The 939 pin 3200+ is one of the newer kids on the block, at least in the 90nm version. The Winchester core runs cooler and can be overclocked much farther then the traditional newcastle and clawhammer cores, hence the reason we recommend it. $196 at Newegg makes this a steal, pick it up here.
Cpu Cooler: Watercooling isn’t necessarily out of the price range here, but I don’t recommend spending an excessive amount of money on one. You can pick up a decent setup at Dangerden.com using a Copper TDX, a Hydor L35, a Black Ice Extreme, Tygon tubing and a Fillport. The price for a setup like this comes out to around $200 and can be found here. A more basic system involving air cooling I recommend a Zalman cooler, specifically the CNPS7700-CU. Large, copper, and quiet it won’t disappoint. Retailing at $51, you can find it here.
Memory: Again we choose Corsair as our memory of choice. This time we go with only 1 gigabyte of memory but with tighter timings, a sufficient tradeoff. We have chosen TWINX1024-3200LLPT, matched modules for dual channel, and Low Latency Platinum Edition. Nice silver heatspreaders and all! For $296 it’s also not a bad deal. Pick it up here.
Video Card: We have two cards to consider here. First we have the 6600 GT for AGP. A solid card that gives great framerates in all the current games and will pull its weight. I recommend the EVGA version, a reputable and solid company. For $213 it’s not bad on the wallet either and can be purchased here. For the PCI E system I recommend either the PCI version of the 6600 GT, identical to the first but a little cheaper, or the X700 Pro, preferably by Sapphire, another great company. With a little slower clock speeds on the core and memory versus the 6600 GT it is still a great card. In benchmarks the 6600 GT comes out on top in Doom3, but in Half Life 2 the ATI based card takes the lead. The X700 Pro can be found for $202 here.
Hard drives: Here I recommend something from my own system, dual 80 gig SATA drives in a raid 0 config. I recommend Western Digital because of their reputation and can be purchased for around $65 each here. If you need more space upgrade to dual 160gb drives. I recommend the Raid Edition of the Western Digital drives for $115 each drive here.
Power Supply: A new power supply that has recently come onto the market is taking the tech world by storm. It goes by the name “X-Connect” and is produced by the company Ultra. It comes in a variety of wonderful colors and wattages and featured modular cables to boot. It has great rails and is highly recommended. They range from $80 to $105 and the full lineup can be purchased here.
External Drive: Here we say to be sure of getting a drive with the ability to write to dvd discs as it is becoming very helpful when backing up large amounts of data. A 16X dvd burner is not all that expensive, coming in at around $60 for a little lower quality then in the high end, but it gets the job done. The maker is Sony and can be found here.
Sound Card: The onboard sound on the motherboard is sometimes good enough for most, but if you are planning on using a high quality sound system then an Audigy 2 ZS might be for you. $93 gets you an excellent card with tons of features that won’t grow old anytime soon. It can be found here.
Case: The final thing that’s missing, the case. There are a multitude of excellent cases out there, and some stand out. The Centurion 5 by Cooler Master is one such case. For around $80 you can pick one up with a window and in different colors. They can be found here. Another case that is excellent, albeit a bit more expensive is the Thermaltake Dream Tsunami. At $122 it’s about middle of the line in cost but looks amazing. With an automotive paint job and flashy looks it’s sure to catch eyes. It can be found here.
Again, we have left out a floppy drive as we feel it is not necessary anymore, but a decent external Sony drive can be had for about $24 and can be removed easily. Yet again, you may need one to install raid drivers, but we suggest borrowing a friends. Find it on newegg here.
This concludes our Mid-Level system, let’s move on to our budget system!