On Mon, 17 Nov 2003, Bryan Cassidy wrote: >> > I suck when it comes to hardware. I know so little about hardware. My > dad said he is gonna get me about $400.00 worth of computer parts for > Christmas/Birthday sence they are so close so I can start building a new > custom PC. I have already picked out the case I want. I found a Antec > ... > sure I can get a case that's $80.00, a mother board around $100 or so, a > power supply, *maybe* a video card and a hard drive for around $400. > What else can you tell me to help out? I appreciate any responses I get. > He wants me to hurry up and tell him what I want so he can go on and > order it for me. >>
On Mon, 17 Nov 2003, [EMAIL PROTECTED] responded: >> > You can probably give yourself a bit of a crash course by looking at <URL: > http://www.anandtech.com; and <URL: http://www.tomshardware.com, then > take a look through <URL: http://www.newegg.com; to see what you can get > for your money. Don't forget memory, for which you may want to look at > <URL: http://www.crucial.com; as well as NewEgg. PC Power and Cooling has > high quality stuff, but they may be a bit over your budget. > Regarding motherboards and CPUs, AMDs are cheaper than Pentiums for > equivalent performance, but AMDs run hotter, meaning the CPU fan must move > more air, meaning more noise. >> AMD Athlon cpus seem to be more cost effective at the low end, but just below the high end the new Intel P4s may offer a bigger bang per buck. Tom's Hardware did a bunch of articles on this and on recent motherboards earlier this year. There is also a Tom's Hardware article on rolling your own PC from component parts. Tom's Hardware and Anand Tech are excellent sources of reviews of new hardware components. I used them extensively when recently building my new custom PC. Some of the components I chose were: approximate component price ($) ---------------------------------------------------- ----------- Lian-Li PC-60 aluminum case 105 ProSilence-420 (~420 watt) PS from Silent Maxx 100 Pentium-4 2.8 GHz cpu 275 Gigabyte GA-8KNXP motherboard 220 two Kingston 512MB DDR400 dimms (with parity/ECC) 230 ATi Radeon 9500 PRO video card 205 two Seagate 120GB serial ATA disk drives 250 Samsung combo 52x CD-writer / DVD-reader 70 Zalman CNPS700 AlCu cpu cooler 40 Enermax fan controller / temperature monitor / i/o panel 40 Microsoft Windows XP Professional 135 I am generally pleased with the result, but I did have (and still have) some serious problems, mainly with the motherboard. The Lian-Li case is solid and has lots of room inside without being too tall for the space in which it is installed. It has a motherboard mounting tray that slides out the back. This can be really convenient but given the complexity of cabling that connects the motherboard to the power supply, fans, peripheral devices and case connectors, you won't slide the mother board out very often. The power supply seems to be rather quiet and more than adequate for its load. I still have a lot of capacity for expansion: 5 empty 3.5" bays and 2 empty 5.25" bays. The 2.8 GHz cpu with dual channel DDR400 memory on the so called "800 MHz" front side bus) is rather fast, about 10 times as fast as my old machine. I have already become addicted to it and feel considerable impatience when I use my old machine. A 2.6 GHz or even 2.4 GHz cpu would probably run only imperceptibly slower and would have saved a little pocket change, but what the heck: "you only live once." I didn't really need a whole GB of main memory, but the 512 MB dimms were not terribly expensive and dual channel memory systems need dimms installed in pairs and there are memory configuration restrictions that would discourage buying small capacity dimms now and larger dimms later. So I splurged. My video card choice was a compromise. I wanted something new enough to have hardware support for recent DirectX features, old enough to be well supported by XFree86 and cheap enough to be justifiable. The Radeon 9500/9700 families of cards are the newest for which XFree86 claims substantial support and yet are long out of production and the ATi web site even categorizes the 9500 as "discontinued". The 9000/9500/9700 seem to have been replaced with the 9200/9600/9800. The need for reliable XFree86 support trumped other considerations because I spend virtually all of my time running XFree86 on FreeBSD and very little time running feature hungry whizbang graphics applications. Microsoft OS is almost an unavoidable occupational hazard. I pretty much have to have one because I have peripheral devices for which there are no FreeBSD drivers (a scanner and a label writer) and I like being able to launch a whizbang graphics application (i.e. game) on occasion. I first attempted to use Windows-98SE since I had no use for modern MS OS features, but vendor claims to the contrary notwithstanding the video and motherboard device drivers just didn't work reliably with the old MS OS. I wanted to get Win2K but a friend convinced me to buy WinXP Professional. He said it supported more devices and that the "Professional Edition" was much better than the "Home Edition". I wasn't too sure about that, but I decided that MS and the Windows marketplace manufacturers would drop support (such as it is) for Win2K before WinXP. The WinXP Pro list price is about $300 (a rip-off). The "street price" is about $200. The "upgrade" version is available for about $170, but installation can be a real mess. The "OEM" version, consisting basically of a CD-ROM and a software-license/product-key, is available under $140 but there is no Microsoft user's manual (nearly useless anyway) and you may have to buy it with some hardware. WPA (Windows Product Activation) is a monumental pain. My installation is tied up in knots because I won't activate it until I resolve my bootstrap disk problems (which might force me to change my main disk controller and disk drives, possibly triggering a reactivation). Some people say you only have to call an 800 number to arrange a reactivation. Most people say you have to call an expensive 900 number and that MS puts you on hold for a long time. I would prefer not to find out the hard way. My only unexpected disappointment was the Gigabyte motherboard. It was highly rated in a Tom's Hardware review. They did not mention that he optional 8KNXP secondary cpu voltage regulator would not fit if you also used the Zalman CNPS7000 cpu cooler (which they also praised in the same article). The workaround is to not install the secondary voltage regulator which the review article said was very nice to have but not necessary with current cpus. (Side issue: the Zalman CNPS7000 cpu cooler comes in two models, Aluminum/Copper and pure Copper. The Cu model cools a little better than the AlCu model but is much heavier than permitted by Intel cpu specifications.) I anticipated some difficulty getting FreeBSD to support all the nice motherboard devices, but I was prepared to do without the more exotic ones. It turns out that FreeBSD 4.9 supports all the essential devices. I did not expect massive BIOS brain damage. The BIOS passes a wrong disk number to the master bootstrap program. This can have some really nasty consequences and there is no complete workaround. The BIOS does not support booting through one of the primary motherboard disk controllers (the SATA controller in native mode). FreeBSD 5.1 sometimes has problems reading from the PS2 mouse port, allegedly caused by some BIOS ACPI confusion. Gigabyte technical support is almost totally unresponsive. If I could do it over again, I would very seriously consider alternative motherboard brands. One final comment: if you want to limit system noise, be careful of fans on motherboard devices. You can replace case fans or slow them down with various fan controllers but fans mounted on motherboards and controller cards are not easily managed. If you do reduce fan speeds, get something to monitor internal case temperatures. You don't want to deal with the consequnces of overheating. I don't know of any video cards for which decibel levels are specified. Disk drive and case fan manufacturers do typically specify noise levels. Modern medium speed ATA disk drives with "fluid dynamic bearings" may be very quiet. Slower cpu/memory/motherboard devices tend to consume less power, require less fan and are cheaper. You can't avoid tradeoffs. Dan Strick [EMAIL PROTECTED] _______________________________________________ [EMAIL PROTECTED] mailing list http://lists.freebsd.org/mailman/listinfo/freebsd-questions To unsubscribe, send any mail to "[EMAIL PROTECTED]"