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The buying of desktop computers - dumb?

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Posts

  • HranjHranj Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Build your own, its big expensive grown up legos. Put things where they fit.

    Zune: Pirate Monkey
  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    If your BIOS supports FSB increases in 1mhz increments, usually that's the place to start. Work up your FSB slowly until you hit a non-stable setting (I test with 3d games running in timedemos to 'quickly' see if a setting is unstable, and do a prime95 burn-in when I'm at my 'final' overclockss) and then either drop back to your last stable setting and use it, or begin to increase your voltage (in the smallest increments possible from stock --and you don't want to increase it too much, so it's best to check what voltages are actually safe for your CPU.)

    I overclock everything (since 286s) but that's because, to me, it's free performance. Whether my system runs the lowest end or highest end cpu, I figure I'll get free performance out of it through overclocking (lower end is always better of course.) Today CPUs are pretty beefy, and you're often GPU limited for games. That reduces the attractiveness of OCing for some people, but free performance is free performance. And the gains are considerable if you're building a budget rig (ie, an e7200 with a good mobo will perform as well as any core 2 duo out there, thanks to OCing. And you can spend the cost difference between the cheaper intel CPU and the more expensive intel CPU to get a better video card.)

    Speaking about it's dangers...

    I no longer believe that OCing effectively (maybe mine will last 20 years instead of 40) reduces the lifespan of CPUs, since I've never lost a system to it. All off my earliest 'large' overclocks, namely my cel-a 433@541, p3-cu-550@792, and P3-cu--700@890, are all still going strong.

    The big trick with OCing is to make sure you get a motherboard suitable for it before you want to do it. Then you have the option to do it later if you want, not to mention you get to know you're running a board that's designed to run out of spec and still be stable. Lots of cheap boards can barely pull off stable while running in spec, and just a bit of voltage trouble from a PSU will make them into unstable shitpiles.

    Yeah, I know the general gist of what to do...but the problem is, while rising my FSB, I inevitably get errors. I've heard multiple opinions about whether or not I need to raise my voltage--some say yes, some say no. Pretty much the only clear answer I've gotten is that my temperatures are fine, and what the safe ceiling is.

    I basically need a walkthrough--of course, finding one for my precise bios (AwardPHOENIX) and my precise CPU isn't too easy. I'm still searching--my past experiences result not in crashes, but errors--basically, programs run detect incorrect RAM speed settings.

    Basically, yeah, it is free performance, but damn if it isn't impossible unless you get everything just perfect--and I mean perfect, FSB, voltage, and RAM speed. Any of those wrong, and at least in my experience, you're fucked. It's a shame, because I've heard cases of E8400s being overclocked safely to the 3.5 gHz (I think)....a nice boost on both cores.

    Oh well, back to the textbooks...

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Chances are your mobo isn't really stellar for OCing, unfortunately (happen to know the model offhand? I'm happy to check it out.) When I'd gotten that P3-550, the best I could get out of it was 660 on a VIA chipset (bear in mind this was during the rambus fiasco.) Then I stuck it on a slocket card and put it into my 440BX motherboard (Soyo SY-6BA+IV, I think... obviously it's been a while) and it pegged up to 792 with no real trouble. Friend of mine had a 600mhz coppermine that he'd bought and he could hardly get 50 extra mhz out of it, while in my motherboard it pushed around 900 I think.
    I bought my Athlon XP 2500+ almost intending to overclock, then the multiplier turned out to be locked. That was some bullshit.

    :). You can actually get unlocked multiplier these days with AMD's 'black box' phenoms, if you so desire. I've always been somewhat partial to FSB overclocking though, since in the old days you got a LOT more performance out of increased bus speed than by merely changing the multiplier.

    10-15% is pretty conservative depending on what you're running. AMD's Phenom 2's are great overclockers, as are Intels core 2 duos, quads, and i7's (and of course celerons... holy hell can you push the celerons these days.) But the trick isn't to aim for some number, really the trick to overclocking is to aim for the fastest stable speed you can attain, regagardless of how much faster than stock that is. If you set any goal other than that, it should be 'fastest stable speed under X temperature.'

    But as said it all comes down to a quality motherboard.

    Erik
  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I bought my Athlon XP 2500+ almost intending to overclock, then the multiplier turned out to be locked. That was some totally irrelevant shit, because I should have just switched from 166FSB to 200FSB and had an XP 3200+.

    Fixed. :P

    Far as my thoughts on overclocking, I'll OC the crap out of cheap parts to make them equal to high-test stuff, but I won't bother with the liquid nitrogen ultimate deluxe ePeen Edition coolers to squeak 2% more out of stuff that's already top-end.

    Looking for a DX:HR OnLive code for my kid brother.
    Can trade TF2 items or whatever else you're interested in. PM me.
  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    Chances are your mobo isn't really stellar for OCing, unfortunately (happen to know the model offhand? I'm happy to check it out.) When I'd gotten that P3-550, the best I could get out of it was 660 on a VIA chipset (bear in mind this was during the rambus fiasco.) Then I stuck it on a slocket card and put it into my 440BX motherboard (Soyo SY-6BA+IV, I think... obviously it's been a while) and it pegged up to 792 with no real trouble. Friend of mine had a 600mhz coppermine that he'd bought and he could hardly get 50 extra mhz out of it, while in my motherboard it pushed around 900 I think.

    It's a EVGA 780i. And from what I've gathered, it's actually actually pretty good for overclocking, just not very user friendly. I think my RAM speed is the problem, actually.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I can guarantee the OP that he has a friend that knows how to build a computer.

    And if you know what you are doing and have all your parts it takes no time. The hardest part is normally getting the heatsink/fan on the processor. You'll push down and think you're going to punch through your board, but you wont.

    My current mother board:
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3839553&CatId=13

    Motherboard I plan on getting this May:
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4316659&CatId=13

    55uviDS.png
    This neo-feudalism would be more tolerable if our betters had fancy titles.
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    My biggest issue now is knowing what parts to get. Honestly, I've spent the past week going over and over parts and everything has just started to get frustratingly confusing.

    Even using the NCIX "build my pc" feature is tough because of this problem. I'm essentially picking parts with no rhyme or reason and, as such, I'm almost positive I'm going to make some sort of stupid choice along the way and regret it.

    steam_sig.png
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Well, here is a tip.

    Don't go SLI. It's a lot more headache than its worth.

    55uviDS.png
    This neo-feudalism would be more tolerable if our betters had fancy titles.
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Perfect example. I have other people telling me I should DEFINITELY go SLI.

    edit: Basically what I'm saying here is I'm having difficulty separating "fact" from "oppinion".

    steam_sig.png
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    In my opinion SLI should be the LAST thing on your list if you just happened to have an extra $$$ laying around and don't plan on running more than one monitor.

    The only thing the SLI uses from the 2nd card is the GPU, all the extra VRAM on the secondary card is wasted.

    Its a less pain in the ass to just have one really good card than the price for two mediocre cards, thinking they will equal one badass card.

    And, like all computer threads, you're going to have people throwing out ideas that don't mesh well with a budget.

    55uviDS.png
    This neo-feudalism would be more tolerable if our betters had fancy titles.
  • KiteKite Registered User
    edited March 2009
    Some people don't want to invest the time and effort into building a computer, just like most people don't want to spend their time building their own car, brewing their own beer or growing their own food. I have a decent job and am willing to pay extra for a gaming computer that simply works so I can spend my precious free time with family and friends. This NCIX site's "build my pc" feature looks awesome, but it is a Canadian site, is there anything like it for the US? I looked at newegg and tigerdirect and neither have the same service. What about companies like Velocity Micro, I've bought a pc from them in the past and was satisfied with what I got.

  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I have always felt that building a gaming rig for yourself was a rite of passage in PC Gamedom.

    Like constructing a new Lightsaber.

    55uviDS.png
    This neo-feudalism would be more tolerable if our betters had fancy titles.
  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    My biggest issue now is knowing what parts to get. Honestly, I've spent the past week going over and over parts and everything has just started to get frustratingly confusing.

    Even using the NCIX "build my pc" feature is tough because of this problem. I'm essentially picking parts with no rhyme or reason and, as such, I'm almost positive I'm going to make some sort of stupid choice along the way and regret it.

    Well, we can help narrow that down for you (in page 1 I posted parts which will all work pretty well for you, but if you don't want a phenom 2 then obviously the mobo/cpu choice aren't appropriate) and the PC build thread is good for parts too.

    NCIX's pc builder is irritating because it's designed to make you shell out money (whereas memoryexpress will, for example, let you pick a CPU... and then only show you motherboards that work for it.)

    Just looking at parts from NCIX, I threw this together fast on the Intel side:

    CPU: e7200 core 2 duo $158
    motherboard: Asus P5Q-Pro $164 (great board for the price.)
    memory: 4gb (two 2gb modules) corsair DDR2-800 $65 (not counting a 30$ mail in rebate)
    case: Antec Sonata with 550W PSU $224 (same case I recommended page 1)
    video card: ATI 4870HD with 1gb $270
    hard drive: Samsung spinpoint f1 1TB $135
    optical drive: Samsung dvd-r/cd-r combo $32

    This comes out to $1048 before tax and shipping. If your $1200 budget is meant to include a display etc, then here's where you can save money:

    Drop the optical drive if you have one lying around the house. Saves you $32
    Drop the memory from 4gb to 2gb. 2gb is 'good enough' and memory is easy to add later when you have a few spare bucks.
    Drop from the 1tb samsung spinpoint to a 500gb seagate barracuda (saves you $58)
    Drop the 550W case to a 500W case (using an Antec III 500W case, this saves you $70)
    Drop the 1gb 4870 to a 4850 (saves you $75)

    I listed those in preferential order (ie, better to save money by going with less ram and adding it later than by going with 'less' video card,) but doing all of them brings your (pre-tax/shipping) price down to about $850, which should leave you enough for a display/mouse/keyboard.

    I must say I would choose the tri-core phenom over the above configuration any day of the week (exception: GPU, as the 250 I listed in the phenom 2 config is not as good as a 4870 --it's like a 4850) but the above configuration is still great, particularly if you want to try your hand at overclocking. If you're scared of overclocking, spend $10 more to get an e7300 instead of e7200 or even consider spending $67 on the e8400 (also a stellar overclocker) to bump your default clock speed a little bit.

    And yes, the people telling you to get SLI are mistaken. For the price, a single more expensive video card will always be a better deal than two cheaper video cards paired in SLI or crossfire. SLI is only something to consider when you're looking at video cards and saying 'hmmm, the highest end video card I can buy that's on the market today is not enough for me. Where did I set my diamond encrusted hat?' Even then, SLI has a tendency to hurt performance. You only want it if you have a specific game in mind that you know kicks ass with SLI (few do) and you're not satisfied with what the highest end video card on the market does on it's own.

    Erik
  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    MagicPrime wrote: »
    In my opinion SLI should be the LAST thing on your list if you just happened to have an extra $$$ laying around and don't plan on running more than one monitor.

    Even then (multiple monitors), you probably don't want SLI ;)

    Erik
  • Teslan26Teslan26 Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank flippy_D - who assembled my PC for me whilst I hid behind a sofa.

    I have now taken it totally apart by now and re-assembled, but having someone you know do it for you is a great re-assurance for that first time nerves, and you'll learn some stuff.

    Course the issue is that you have no one to take it back to if stuff does go wrong, and I surely pestered him a couple of times, but in general I love my self build. I'd sure as shit not touch dell.

    Snowbeat wrote: »
    get out of here, numbername
  • MagicPrimeMagicPrime "We're ready to believe you..." FireSideWizardRegistered User regular
    edited March 2009
    One of the biggest pluses for self-builds is it is a clean build. No bloat-ware.

    55uviDS.png
    This neo-feudalism would be more tolerable if our betters had fancy titles.
  • shadydentistshadydentist Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Kite wrote: »
    Some people don't want to invest the time and effort into building a computer, just like most people don't want to spend their time building their own car, brewing their own beer or growing their own food. I have a decent job and am willing to pay extra for a gaming computer that simply works so I can spend my precious free time with family and friends. This NCIX site's "build my pc" feature looks awesome, but it is a Canadian site, is there anything like it for the US? I looked at newegg and tigerdirect and neither have the same service. What about companies like Velocity Micro, I've bought a pc from them in the past and was satisfied with what I got.

    This isn't a valid comparison. Brewing your own beer takes days, growing your own food takes weeks, and building your car impossible without a lot of expertise and tools.

    Building your own computer takes maybe 2-4 hours, a phillip's head screwdriver, and reading the 2-page manual that comes with the motherboard. And its fun.

    Steam & GT
    Spoiler:
  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Ego wrote: »
    My biggest issue now is knowing what parts to get. Honestly, I've spent the past week going over and over parts and everything has just started to get frustratingly confusing.

    Even using the NCIX "build my pc" feature is tough because of this problem. I'm essentially picking parts with no rhyme or reason and, as such, I'm almost positive I'm going to make some sort of stupid choice along the way and regret it.

    Well, we can help narrow that down for you (in page 1 I posted parts which will all work pretty well for you, but if you don't want a phenom 2 then obviously the mobo/cpu choice aren't appropriate) and the PC build thread is good for parts too.

    NCIX's pc builder is irritating because it's designed to make you shell out money (whereas memoryexpress will, for example, let you pick a CPU... and then only show you motherboards that work for it.)

    Just looking at parts from NCIX, I threw this together fast on the Intel side:

    CPU: e7200 core 2 duo $158
    motherboard: Asus P5Q-Pro $164 (great board for the price.)
    memory: 4gb (two 2gb modules) corsair DDR2-800 $65 (not counting a 30$ mail in rebate)
    case: Antec Sonata with 550W PSU $224 (same case I recommended page 1)
    video card: ATI 4870HD with 1gb $270
    hard drive: Samsung spinpoint f1 1TB $135
    optical drive: Samsung dvd-r/cd-r combo $32

    This comes out to $1048 before tax and shipping. If your $1200 budget is meant to include a display etc, then here's where you can save money:

    Drop the optical drive if you have one lying around the house. Saves you $32
    Drop the memory from 4gb to 2gb. 2gb is 'good enough' and memory is easy to add later when you have a few spare bucks.
    Drop from the 1tb samsung spinpoint to a 500gb seagate barracuda (saves you $58)
    Drop the 550W case to a 500W case (using an Antec III 500W case, this saves you $70)
    Drop the 1gb 4870 to a 4850 (saves you $75)

    I listed those in preferential order (ie, better to save money by going with less ram and adding it later than by going with 'less' video card,) but doing all of them brings your (pre-tax/shipping) price down to about $850, which should leave you enough for a display/mouse/keyboard.

    I must say I would choose the tri-core phenom over the above configuration any day of the week (exception: GPU, as the 250 I listed in the phenom 2 config is not as good as a 4870 --it's like a 4850) but the above configuration is still great, particularly if you want to try your hand at overclocking. If you're scared of overclocking, spend $10 more to get an e7300 instead of e7200 or even consider spending $67 on the e8400 (also a stellar overclocker) to bump your default clock speed a little bit.

    And yes, the people telling you to get SLI are mistaken. For the price, a single more expensive video card will always be a better deal than two cheaper video cards paired in SLI or crossfire. SLI is only something to consider when you're looking at video cards and saying 'hmmm, the highest end video card I can buy that's on the market today is not enough for me. Where did I set my diamond encrusted hat?' Even then, SLI has a tendency to hurt performance. You only want it if you have a specific game in mind that you know kicks ass with SLI (few do) and you're not satisfied with what the highest end video card on the market does on it's own.

    So, all things considered, this would be a good gaming desktop? If so, I'm going to run with your suggestions here.

    steam_sig.png
  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Yes, particularly if you OC the CPU (those are the best overclocking CPUs in intel's lineup, and the motherboard is good for it with easy overclocking in the BIOS)--unless you have some moral objection to overclocking, I'd recommend at least trying for a 'mild' overclock to 3ghz. Hell, I'll be glad to walk you through overclocking it if you want.

    But if you really don't want to OC the cpu, then it'll still game just fine. But spend the extra 10$ on the e7300 in that case ;).

    Erik
  • SaammielSaammiel Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    This isn't a valid comparison. Brewing your own beer takes days, growing your own food takes weeks, and building your car impossible without a lot of expertise and tools.

    Building your own computer takes maybe 2-4 hours, a phillip's head screwdriver, and reading the 2-page manual that comes with the motherboard. And its fun.

    Until you run into some weird issues. And then you get to spend a bunch of time trying to diagnose the arcane inner working of PC-dom.

    I just buy now. Building PCs was fine when I was in college and the opportunity cost of researching all the parts, trying to stay cutting edge, and diagnosing any problems was effectively 0. Now, not so much. All that time is time I could have spent doing something that isn't both A) frustrating and B) almost worthless in a longer term sense.

    Not that I bedgruge people who actually do enjoy the process, just saying it isn't anything mystical for everyone.

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    edited March 2009
    Saammiel wrote: »
    This isn't a valid comparison. Brewing your own beer takes days, growing your own food takes weeks, and building your car impossible without a lot of expertise and tools.

    Building your own computer takes maybe 2-4 hours, a phillip's head screwdriver, and reading the 2-page manual that comes with the motherboard. And its fun.

    Until you run into some weird issues. And then you get to spend a bunch of time trying to diagnose the arcane inner working of PC-dom.

    I just buy now. Building PCs was fine when I was in college and the opportunity cost of researching all the parts, trying to stay cutting edge, and diagnosing any problems was effectively 0. Now, not so much. All that time is time I could have spent doing something that isn't both A) frustrating and B) almost worthless in a longer term sense.

    Not that I bedgruge people who actually do enjoy the process, just saying it isn't anything mystical for everyone.

    It is fun to varying degrees. Of course, actually using a gaming desktop should be fun consistently (otherwise, what was the point?).

    Furthermore, potentially independent but frequently directly proportional to fun is how good you are at it. No one enjoys jamming tiny pins to get USB connected or the power switch working--and anyone who claims they do is lying, I suspect. But If you screw up on this, or any number of things--or heck, if your skills are limited, you're going to end up with an desktop with some inferior quality. It might not be a big deal--for me, my biggest problem was that the inside of the finished product looked like the forests around Dien Bien Phu. This in turn led to other problems (electrical in nature, primarily) later on.

    The desktop I bought is not only aesthetically pleasing on the outside to me, it has a "tooless" setup and stores all connections in the wall of the actual case, making it very convenient. I am very happy with that, and it is something that is well beyond my level of expertise.

    As for SLI....it's a maybe/maybe not. My primarily problems with SLI have come with games with older engines like IL-2 Sturmovik, or weird cases like Hitman: Blood Money (where it causes glitches, though is not supposed to). SLI bridges also tend to be finicky. Crossfire, from what I've gathered, does not have a lot of these issues, but is also more demanding about what hardware is used. I'm lucky in that, as aforementioned, I can use either depending on my BIOS. But ultimately, it may be more practical to simply get one powerful card that will give you compressible performance. It's the same reason I think buying a Quad-Core is ridiculous--I could get a dual-core that would give me better performance in 95% of games I play for the same price, or less.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MetallikatMetallikat Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    While I won't say whether or not to build your own or get one customized and built for you, I would recommend a few online vendors that build PC's to avoid (or at least be wary of):

    AVADirect
    Ibuypower
    Cyberpower

    A few that seem to have good repuations:

    Puget Systems
    Maingear
    Maxforce PC

  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    I'll vouch for memoryexpress and NCIX on the Canadian side of things, and I've heard good things about tigerdirect.

    I just use them for parts, though. I do the building myself, obviously.

    Erik
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