New PC Time Frustration

So… I go to Anandtech because that’s where you’re supposed to go for hardware info and I hate that fucking place because I can never find anything I really want to know. How are you supposed to navigate it? I just want comparisons and recommendations. That’s it. Nothing more.

So… for the sake of my own sanity and hopefully making this whole “new PC” thing painless as possible (I hate hardware anymore… but I like to write about PC games.), here’s what I’m thinking of buying…

[ul][li]Athlon 64 4000+ (or slightly less) Problems with AMD? Any reason to consider Intel at all?
[/li][li]2GB RAM
[/li][li]Some SATA drive… probably Samsung since people like those here it seems.
[/li][li]ATI X800Pro/XL or something comparable. Basically, I want to spend about $300 on a video card. What’s the best bang for buck with the least hassles with drivers, games and whatnot? ATI? NVIDIA? Hate? Love?
[/li][li]Sound on the motherboard ok? I’m thinking nForce4. Definitely PCI-e
[/li][li]Flat panel monitor of some kind. This I really know nothing about. I was at Best Buy and the LG Flatron looked pretty good compared to the rest of the bank of screens they had. Styling was nice too. Is that a reasonable buy? 19" would probably be the size. What do I worry about with regard to refresh and is there still problems with ghosting in games or anything?[/ul]
I think that’s all I need. Oh, a case too… 500W power supply ok? Less? More? I’m probably buying through since their prices are good and I’ve had a lot of good luck with them before. I’ve built like six PCs from stuff I bought there.

One other question… I’ve got a DVD-ROM, CD-RW and two rather large hard drives that I’d like to bring along. Can I still use all those devices AND the SATA drive?

Hopefully that’s straightforward enough to get some quick answers. I’m no dummy when it comes to this stuff, but I really hate how there’s like a million revisions of everything and having to wade through all the bullshit just to find the “right” thing. I also know that I can save as much as $600 doing this myself rather than going through Dell. I specced it out that way already and they just murder you with upgrades to their base systems.

Having done a little messing around on mwave with the shopping cart already I had something around $1500 for all that up there.


And the hardware looks good to me, though you’ll probably get people recommending other stuff ( A mate of mine has a similar system except with two 6800’s in SLI and gets 160fps in HL2 in 1280x1024, 8xAA and 4xAF if that means anything to you. ) I’m an Nvidia fanboy, but I’m holding back just this once.

I looked at the SLI possibility. It just seems like a little too much outlay for me when it comes to buying two cards and the motherboard is more and all that. I probably wouldn’t do it right now and would only get one card so that would mean it would be a “later” thing.

I like NVIDIA. I’ve had a RivaTNT2, GeForce 256, a GeForce 2 GTS and right now a GeForce Ti4200. All have been great cards. So I’m not at all averse to NVIDIA. What would I be able to get from them around the same $300 price? 6800GTs are still way up there even though the 7800 is shipping. It seemed like the ATI card was a better value.

I fully expect people to recommend other things. By all means, as long as it’s not splitting hairs, that’s ok with me. I’m probably not pulling the trigger on anything until like Monday anyway since the holiday puts the kibosh on anything arriving any earlier than like mid-next week even with something like 2-day shipping. I’ll probably order Monday and use 3-Day to have it by Friday.

The monitor is what concerns me most. I have this one in the basket right now…

…which looks like “last year’s model” of the Flatron. The newer ones are like $150 more or something like that which puts me out of my price range. Still, this one has 12ms response and looks decent?


Although I see nothing wrong with the card you got… if you’re willing to spend an extra $59 you can get the 6800GT from newegg ( Not familiar with the American market… so I dunno if you can find it cheaper)

“MSI NX6800GT-TD256 Geforce 6800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 AGP Pro 4X/8X Video Card - Retail” = $359.00

Just might be an option.

( You might like to read - just dodge the little green links… I need to kill who ever came up with that )

This XFX 6800 GT is $359, but has a $50 rebate, so net $300.

Otherwise, an X800XL is the best bet for the money.

That looks like a decent LCD, the response time is the important stat for gaming LCD’s, and that Flatron sports a great response of 12ms. (20ms or less is usually fine). With a 4000+ CPU and a decent vid card, I’d hate to limit myself to a 1280x1024 resolution though. Dell panels are often suggested around here, you might want to see if there are any hot deals on the 2001Fp or 2005FPW Dell displays.

AMD is definitely the way to go for gaming. I have the A64 4000+ myself, a very fast CPU. Just make sure you grab some decent RAM. I tend to opt for Corsair; Crucial is another good brand.

Similarly, get an Antec, Seasonic, or Sparkle Power PSU. A good brand is better than sheer wattage. 450 or more is fine. I’m partial to the Antec Neopower 480W myself, due to the modular power cables.

I have that flatron lcd and am happy with it, no ghosting in games and it really does look better than 95% of the lcds on the market. So many go for a weird funky look with the bevel or stand.

I would pick that one or one of the dells, both are pretty similar in style. The dell has a few more features and a little bit better consistency of color. You can check the flatron by having one color from top to bottom, it will be ever so slightly different depending on the angle you view it at, that is the only issue i have with it.



I’d really consider the Dell 20" monitors if you think you can swing an extra one or two hundred.

The 2001fp and the 2005fpw are just sweeeee-eeeet.


Two answer your specific questions:

  1. No reason to consider Intel, though you could consider saving a bit of cash on the CPU and putting it in a videocard as with a socket 939 board, the CPU could be upgraded down the road. You’re not hitting CPU limits on most games, especially if you go with a 19-inch, 1280x1024 LCD. Consider a 3500 or so.

  2. 2GB of RAM will make all Athlon motherboards drop to 333MHz for the memory speed if you use 4 512MB DDR chips. I don’t think it’s a huge deal, but it’ll drop benchmark scores.

  3. Meh, I usually just buy whatever drive is the cheapest. I will say that I have a few Seagate SATA drives, and I’ve never heard the things. That’s a good thing.

  4. If you lower the CPU cost by $50, put it in a 6800GT. Otherwise, the X800XL is a good choice, as is the 6800. Or if you spend more for an SLI motherboard (the Asus is a good choice), buy a 6600GT now (one that says “SLI ready” like the PNY models, I believe) and consider getting another down the road.

  5. nForce 4 sound is fine. No reason to spend $100 on an Audigy.

  6. LG LCDs are terrific for their price. I’ve tested a few of them, but pretty much all of the current models from everyone (12ms response times) are pretty damn good. I’ve had some NECs, ViewSonics, and Sony’s around. The new ones with the extra-bright screens look even better, but the screens are reflective.

As others have said, you’re getting a lot of horsepower to limit yourself to 1280x1024. You’ll have no problems running pretty much everything at that resolution with 4x AA and 8x AF. I’d think about some of the savings elsewhere and a 20-inch LCD that’s 1600x1200. That’ll benefit as much with Windows itself as with games. More resolution/bigger desktop is always a plus.

  1. 500 watts is overkill. I ran a 380 watt Antec with an Athlon 4000/GeForce 6800 Ultra, plus four hard drives. Get a good, name brand 400-500 watt power supply and you’ll be fine. Also get one that runs quiet, if possible. Browse the quiet area of for different models (and then buy them at the store you like).

  2. Definitely bring over the DVD, CD, etc. You can run IDE and SATA at the same time. The motherboards always have at least two SATA connectors and the usual four IDE.

Apparently one of the new issues with Power Supplies is how many amps you need on the 12 volt rail. These days so many things run on 12v that it makes sense to have 15A on that rail.

You might check out Jason Cross’s bang for the buck PC article, to use as a template:,1697,1825693,00.asp

If you can possibly swing it, look for a deal on the Dell 2001FP. It’s the best deal on a 20.1", 1600x1200 display. I use it for gaming all the time now, with no major issues. If you can’t afford it, Samsung makes some fast response time LCDs (the Syncmaster 915N comes to mind – it has an 8ms response time). The 915N is a 19", 12x10 display.

Hmm, HardOCP just did a $1500 guide, both for a new system and an upgrade. They are usually pretty good and plan on long upgrade lifetimes. I haven’t read this one yet, but here it is.

If I were buying today, I personally would make sure and get a SLI motherboard (Asus deluxe model is cheap and reliable) and just 1 high end video card. Then later you can add another when you need it at a fraction of the cost. This is a no-brainer for me since I only do full upgrades every 2.5-3 years.

I am extremely skeptical of the idea of SLI as an upgrade mechanism.

Until I see convincing proof (ie. until I actually go out and actually can purchase a second card for the fraction of the price) that this system will allow everyday Joes like me to upgrade by simply adding another card at a later date I wil continue to believe that this only appeals to those who really want to spend a ton to get the ultra high end graphics.

You can run two 6600GTs today for $300-ish and have a card that performs similarly to a $500 card.

For the games that support SLI. It’s not 100% transparent to all apps, though the list of games supported is growing.

I was under the impression this all happened at the driver level, that it wasn’t the game that needed to support it but the driver.

Interesting! I still consider $300 to be high end. It’s not as high end as I thought you had to go though.

But that’s still not an upgrade path. When I hear this described as an upgrade path, to me that says that you buy a card at $200 in 2005, then one or two years later you add another one of the same (or similar) cards now priced at $75 and you get the equivalent performance as if you bought the current $200 card. (meaning the 2006 or 2007 current $200 card)


Because, this is how memory works right? Today you buy 1GB and you leave your other slot free. Then in a year or two you buy another 1GB dimm when “HL2: More Completely Indecipherable Things Happen to Gordon” comes out.

OK, it is time for me to get a new PC also. I’m not sure if I should build it myself or go to a website. But here is a link I found that is close to my price range for this new PC:

Two questions. First, do most of you agree that this is a good setup? Second, will I be able to put this together myself as someone who has upgrade PCs (sound cards, RAM, video, but NOT CD-ROMS and processors), or would I really be better off getting one made from somewhere?

As an aside, and Dave I am curious about how you are going to do this, is it pretty easy to just install XP yourself onto a formatted HD, or is it worth getting a HD that already has it installed (as part of a system, for example)?

I was under the impression this all happened at the driver level, that it wasn’t the game that needed to support it but the driver.[/quote]

There are 2 driver methods that they use, and in the beginning they had to define which one for each game, after extensive testing I’m sure. After the stupidity of that sank in, they let you pick yourself and just go. They still test and define in new drivers, but now you are not stuck without SLI for a particular game since you can just set it yourself.

Spoofy, I am not sure what you mean. All the inital SLI reviews, they took a SLI board and ran it with 1 card, then dropped in a 2nd identical card, and compared results.

That’s how its supposed to work, yes.

And, dammit, I thought this thread would explain why my system clock runs fast until I reboot. I got sucked in.