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Thinking about building a PC

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
After witnessing Half-Life 2 on my friends PC, I now quite fancy the idea of building myself one.

It's been sometime since I've been involved with PCs, and I'm bewildered by the choice of processors/sockets/motherboards.

Does anybody know what the difference between all the sockets is? I've asked around a few shops now and I always come away thinking that the sales assistants know even less than I do!

Any help would be greatly appreciated...
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post #2 of 22
I'm also building a PC sometime in this spring probably.

All the benchmarks show that for games, you can't go wrong with AMD. You get Athlon64:s on Socket 754 and Socket 939, Semprons only on the older 754, and the top-end A64 FX:s only on 939. I doubt there is any speed difference, you just have to see what motherboard and processor you want and check that both are available with one of the sockets so they'll fit together. I think AMD is moving towards Socket 939 and the 754 will be dropped first, but I'm not much of a believer in upgrading so I wouldn't let that affect the decision.

All the Athlon64:s up to around $250, along with the Sempron 3100+ (basically just a tad weaker than Athlon 64 2800+ with smaller cache) are good value. Pick whatever suits your pockets.

Regarding the motherboards (and other components as well), read some Anandtech articles, ie. their "Buyer's Guides" and component reviews. I think their content is top notch.
post #3 of 22
How much do you want to spend?

Like Gon, I'd recommend AMD over Intel as well.
I built a gaming rig about ten months ago and went with an Athlon64 3400+ and later upgraded the original ATi 9800 Pro video card to a nVidia 6800GT.
It's a great machine and I'm very happy with it.

You probably also want to get a mobo with PCI-Express instead of AGP since that's the way the industry is moving.

Lots of choices, but it really comes down to what your budget is.
post #4 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Cake
I built a gaming rig about ten months ago and went with an Athlon64 3400+

Wah.. you don't spare expenses when gaming do you?
post #5 of 22
Heh.
Well, I didn't that time. Way overkill for simply gaming.

Recently built three dual Xeon servers for Folding@Home and this thread got me wondering how they'd do at gaming.
Hmmm, I should run some benchmarks....
post #6 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by Cake
Heh.
Well, I didn't that time. Way overkill for simply gaming.

But today the 3400+ is actually pretty average for a new gaming box.. I could walk to the store and get one for little more than 200 EUR. 10 months ago they were the 3800+'s (or FX's?) of today. Ah, technology
post #7 of 22
I play Everquest 2 on the following rig:

ASUS K8N-E Deluxe motherboard
Athlon 64 3000+
80 GB SATA HDD
1GB of Transcend CL2.5 RAM (try for certified CL2.0 if you can)
XFX 6800GT

It can handle EQ2 without any problems.

You also need XP SP2, Mc Afee, Zone Alarm, Ad Aware, Spybot Search and Destory 1.3, Firefox before you start using it. Remember to defrag your disk after you install Windows and SP2. The joys of Windows ...
Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices. - Nicholas D. Kristof
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Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices. - Nicholas D. Kristof
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post #8 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by talksense101
You also need XP SP2, Mc Afee, Zone Alarm, Ad Aware, Spybot Search and Destory 1.3, Firefox before you start using it.

Not exactly true. SP2, sure, and you should have it on CD/DVD/HD to install before you connect the XP box to the net for the first time.

ZoneAlarm and other firewalls *might* not be necessary, but it's better to be safe than sorry. I hear SP2 firewall does okay protecting the computer out of the box.

AdAware, Spybot S&D - not necessary if you don't do warez and don't install shady software from the net.

Virus scanners - you can get some for free if you google "free virus scan", and they are not 100% necessary. I have ran Windows boxes for a long time without using virus scan.

Firefox - sure. Thunderbird or other decent e-mail client is just as necessary or more. Both IE and Outlook Express leak like a sieve.
post #9 of 22
Freeware antivirus are nowhere near Mc Afee in sheer volume of virus definition lists and interaction with the operating system. Avast! and AVG are ok if you know what you are doing.

Spyware can get into windows in so many ways, that not having a spyware removal tool is silly. It has gone to the extent of Microsoft buying Giant and creating their own spyware removal tool for their OS. In the next year or so, you will see Spyware removal tools as common as Anti-virus in the Windows world.

Not having something like ZoneAlarm (you can get the free version btw) is trouble as it wont help you defend yourself against trojans and software that calls home from your computer.

You need to be paranoid in a Windows world. The help and support center has a serious flaw (even in SP2) and it is not yet fixed.
Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices. - Nicholas D. Kristof
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Most of us employ the Internet not to seek the best information, but rather to select information that confirms our prejudices. - Nicholas D. Kristof
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post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies guys!

So it looks like AMD is a good choice of proceessor. I'm not that bothered about having the very latest (e.g. PCIe) but I do want to be able to retask the 4GB of RAM that I currently have sitting in my G5.

So I guess I'm going to go shopping for a system board that supports the Sempron, PC3200, AGP 8X and SATA. Should be a nice little gaming machine?

I'm also not in to upgrading PCs, in my experience it's more cost effective to buy/build a new machine!

I'll report back and let you guys know how I get on!
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post #11 of 22
I've always wanted to build a PC using a Shuttle case and mobo. It's reminicent of the G4 Cube but much cooler and doesn't sacrifice anything for the compact form factor (AGP 8x, 3 PCI slots, 800MHz FSB, etc). It would be great for keeping the mac as your main machine but having a tiny Shuttle PC for all the gaming. No, I don't work for them I've just read and drooled over some reviews.
post #12 of 22
I built a Shuttle with AMD. Nice little machine. Louder than I expected, but not loud.

I would recommend them, but I think it is heretical (sp?) to say shuttle looks better than a cube.
post #13 of 22
There a plenty of ways to build a pc for gaming I know because I am still a PC Dope but wonting to move to a Mac I also have half life 2 and it runs great on my machine it all boils down to your amount you wish to spend?

Because AMD 64 chip that the top ones are the king of the pile at the moment but Intel runs things below that

You should spend the biggest part of your money on the graphics card and high performance memory because these are the big factors in todays games.

The graphics slots are a follows

PCI- thats an old slot so you don't won't to buy any Graphics card for that.

AGP- now this slot is still wildly used and there a plenty good cards for this but the slot it self comes in different speeds 4x/8x/16x higher is better but needs a card to support it.

PCI express- now this is the slot that they say will take over from AGP slots and is meant to be better but no one is total 100% convinced at the moment. but if you can start here you can get top end and budget cards under this slot

SLI- this is the daddy in the graphics would today it similar to PCI Express but much more insane and one of the few things that I think apple should adopt it allows you to run TWO graphics cards with a special cable to work together and there for giving you the craziest frame rates ever seen on a personal computer.

SLI is available on both Intel & AMD systems but is only offered at this time by one Graphics Company and that is NVIDA Graphics cards and because you will need two cards to make it work it cost a hell of a lot too, but you can get the second card at a latter date but thats not advised.


I hope this is of some help to you if you like I could design you one and then you can make it but that up to you?


Best of luck from the, Dragon.



On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've bought an ASUS (the guys who make the iPod Shuffle) system board. It's a KV8-SE, and it appears to support all the features that I want and none of the features I don't want!

Man what a nightmare trying to figure out which motherboard was which can't they name them with more recognisable names?

I've got a 16X SuperDrive kicking around and a 10k Raptor drive, so that's that sorted. I'm also going to borrow a gig or so of memory from my G5 at home. It's all waiting to get fitted to the case I just bought.

Next stop is the CPU, I'm undecided whether to go for the Sempron 3100+ or the Athlon 64 2800+. I'm leaning toward the 64, because apparently it's better for gaming? It's a Socket 754 system board so it should take both from what I can gather.

I'm also looking for a NVIDIA 6800 graphics card, and yes, this will be the most expensive part of the system. ASUS do a 6800 with 256MB of RAM and it looks impressive (to the untrained eye at least). I'm going to give SLI a miss for the time being.

After that it's the keyboard & mouse and I'll be ready to shoot-up the Citadel!
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post #15 of 22
Sounds good man you got the makings of a good system.
Asus are one of the top brands out there today and give you the best value.

i would go for the athlon 64 as the Sempron is a cut down processor so in Mac terms thats like choosing a G3 or G4 over a G5 so go athlon much much better.


in the case of the graphics card well picked but not the best use the money that is going to be spent on that being a 256mb graphics card and shift it to an higher range 128mb card as in most test the exstra 128 mb in your card dose not do much unless you are planning to mod it a bit by soldering new tranistor and flashing the card to make it in to a Quordo Fx card which are used for 3d Packages like £d max, Miya, and others.

apart fromt that sounds good all should work lovely and you should get good fram rates enjoy the game, and once your done try DOOM 3 and Counter strike. as well


well done mate.
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Black Dragon
Sounds good man you got the makings of a good system.
Asus are one of the top brands out there today and give you the best value.

i would go for the athlon 64 as the Sempron is a cut down processor so in Mac terms thats like choosing a G3 or G4 over a G5 so go athlon much much better.


in the case of the graphics card well picked but not the best use the money that is going to be spent on that being a 256mb graphics card and shift it to an higher range 128mb card as in most test the exstra 128 mb in your card dose not do much unless you are planning to mod it a bit by soldering new tranistor and flashing the card to make it in to a Quordo Fx card which are used for 3d Packages like £d max, Miya, and others.

apart fromt that sounds good all should work lovely and you should get good fram rates enjoy the game, and once your done try DOOM 3 and Counter strike. as well


well done mate.

Nice one. That's reassuring!

Just out of interest, which graphics card would you recommend? The system board's AGP 8X rather than PCIe. I've heard rumblings that the ATI cards may have the edge on the NVIDIA cards?

I'd be interested to see what you think
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post #17 of 22
Well your not rong to think that the ATI card have the edge but i am afrade that just rather good marketing from there part with the slip up thy made in 2004.

But they were the best by a hugh way in 2003 but let me explain.

Its all to do with the technology built into the cards them self, the ATI cards are sort of on-par with NVIDIA as far as feature are concerned but there just missing the latest shaders for rendering that can be found in games like Black & white 2, Doom 3, Stalker to name a few.

now why do they look like they do so well against NVIDIA is because Half Life 2 is built on a Direct X 7/8 technology but on steroids, so if you are following so far what that means is at this moment in time they look great because all there pixel shaders (graphics technology) is gear to run old technology (direct x 7/8 and bit of 9) very well when NVIDIA on the other hand has built there cards for the future technologies, is why they look so good in games like Doom 3 but not as good in games Like Half Life 2

but your probably thinking so what i won't to play Half Life 2 so I Should go ATI, the answer would be no because ONE big reason the difference is marginal and the Doom 3 engine is Saleable so your going to get lots of games Running on the doom 3 engine over the next 3 years and that not including a little game called Unreal 3 (see picks Below which use the new technology in the NVIDIA cards.

so conclusion is ATI is in a panic and are showing the would what they won't you to see and even copying NVIDIA by bringing SLI solution soon as well because in this aria NVIDIA is more then king it is God him self.

As for cards here are some suggestions (remember I have bow idea what your budget is for a graphics card)

I will get back to you on the cards to choose as i went looking for a good card to choose but there is some crazy stuff going on right now and i will let you now as to what is the best card, sorry.





these are all in game graphics
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
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post #18 of 22
ok i had a look around all the big guns now are PCI express cards or SLI cards. but for the moment there, i thought i had found a singel card which has SLI built in to one card but it turned out to be a dead end so my sugestion is this any of these brand card will be amazing.

GeForce 6800 Ultra cards from eather

Asus/BFG/GIGA-bite/ABIT/AOPEN

any of those manufactures will rock out, for get what i said about the 256 being not as good as this is still true but as i was surching i dound out nearly all the top cards were with 256mb ram so just go for it but the 6800 ultra is the top dog now and that the way forward.


any more help needed just ask and i will see what i can do.

my self i have a ATI radeon 9700 pro and it gets realy good fram rates in Half life and it an old card now so any of the cards you would like to get will blitz mine and will be franckly amazing so enjoy you lucky git.
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
Reply
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
Reply
post #19 of 22
Thread Starter 
OMG I can't believe those screen shots! And I thought Half-Life 2 looked good!

I'm going to take your advice and go for the Athlon 64 and probably the 6800 as well. I reckon it'll a wee while for me to build it because I'm just buying the components as and when I can afford them but I'll be sure to report back with my progress!

Thanks again for all your help, I really appreciate it!

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post #20 of 22
No prob

if you liked the screen shots try the E3 2004 or pos 2003 show wich shows you all the graphics engine and the moving about also coming out this year maybe 2006 is the new quake game which you gessed it runs on the DOOM 3 engine.

but any way good luck and happy to help any time.

p.s to find the video of unreal 3 just type it in to google and theres loads of links.


I just hope for apple sakes that microsfot or apple bring out a windows emulator, with direct graphics suport so these games can come to the Mac also and then i will be a full mac supporter.

we might see that happing now apple is bringing core image and video to OS X tiger it might be easyer for microsoft to make happen in say vertual PC 8? who nows
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
Reply
On one hot summers day a man sat under a tree, just then a small apple feel from that tree, and from that humble little apple, gravity was born to all men.

Isaac Newton (1642 - 1727)
Reply
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally posted by talksense101
Freeware antivirus are nowhere near Mc Afee in sheer volume of virus definition lists and interaction with the operating system. Avast! and AVG are ok if you know what you are doing.

Spyware can get into windows in so many ways, that not having a spyware removal tool is silly. It has gone to the extent of Microsoft buying Giant and creating their own spyware removal tool for their OS. In the next year or so, you will see Spyware removal tools as common as Anti-virus in the Windows world.

Not having something like ZoneAlarm (you can get the free version btw) is trouble as it wont help you defend yourself against trojans and software that calls home from your computer.

You need to be paranoid in a Windows world. The help and support center has a serious flaw (even in SP2) and it is not yet fixed.

I disagree - there isn't so many ways for spyware/malware/adware to get into your computer. Don't use IE(firefox) and don't download from untrusted sites, add in a nat router and you pretty much have nothing to worry about.

You probably want to use web based email as well.

The only reason MS had to do that was because the general masses are stupid and fall for all kinds of little tricks.

You only need to be paranoid in a windows world if you don't know what you need to worry about. A nat router and good habbits go a long way in a windows world and do not require any paranoia.
post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Well I've bought all the bits now, and the thing's built up.

Oh man! What a carry-on trying to get XP installed on the SATA drive. Apparently I need to take the CD that came with the motherboard, and copy the SATA drivers on to four floppy disks. I then need to buy a floppy disk drive for the new machine, and install the drivers so that the XP installer can see the SATA drive.

So there goes my nice new 'clean' PC sans old technology!
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