PC builders: Please advise on common online brands

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I've encountered some brands that always seem cheap, and I was hoping
that some of you seasoned PC builders would offer advice. Please rank
the following brands in each category to indicate which brands are
respectable enough to buy on a low budget and/or which would be best to
avoid period:

CASES w/ PSUs FOR ATHLON64 *Stable and quiet?
Aspire, Chenbro, Foxconn, TurboCase

SOCKET 939 MOBOs w/ 8x AGP slot *Stable?
Abit, ASRock America, Chaintech, Gigabyte, MSI

PC3200 MEMORY *Compatible and stable?
Corsair, Samsung, "generic" (any good generic?)

HD *Stable, fast, and quiet?
Magnetic Data Technology, Maxtor, Samsung

VIDEO CARDS *Quiet and reliable?
EVGA, BFG, Chaintech, MSI, XFX

DVD RECORDERS *Stable and quiet?
Aopen, Lite-on, NEC

Re: PC builders: Please advise on common online brands

On Thu, 05 May 2005 03:28:46 -0500, Jonathan Appleseed

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None of them if you want to use the included power supply
for a *typical* modern "power-user" type of system.  A very
lightly configured system could suffice, one with minimal
drives and video, but it's still not a good idea.  Generally
it's good to budget 10% for power supply, or that much added
cost to the case.  In the long-term the quality of the power
supply may matter more than the motherboard or video, for
instance, as a dead system isn't very fast at all.  ;)

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Gigabyte and MSI tend to make good value-choices.  IMO,
ASROck and Chaintech are TOO low-end... Abit tend to be more
expensive though some models cheaper than others, you have
to pick out a few specific boards you like.   For the most
part, it's generally worthwhile to just stick with one of
the big 4- Asus, MSI, Gigabte, or (oops, not the big four,
the 4th is not a good choice), beyond the big 4 there's
Abit.  The others are always a risk IMO, sometimes a good
value but IMO, not a gamble one should take on a primary
system rather than a backup or other use where it's not as

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Memory prices have dropped in past few weeks/month(s), best
bet is value-grade name-brand memory.  Take your pick of
brands, any should work at their spec'd timings.  More
significant is the motherboard and that's easier to see in
retrospect... if you want more detail on that then seek
users of a specific board for their retrospect.  Web forums
like http://forums.amdmb.com are a good place to

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Samsung, longest wararnty per $.
WD Raptor, fastest for operating system use.

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None are reliable, their fans all crap out.
Relube fan periodically BEFORE it starts making more noise
else replace the fan ahead of time... which usually means a
better 'sink too.  The majority of cards are based on
reference designs or made by larger companies that can
develop a quality derivative of the reference design such
that it's more significant which heatsink, the memory used
(which can vary per lot of cards too, you may have to grab a
card when you hear of one with specific memory if that's
important to you).  Otherwise, criteria for cards is a topic
too broad for a newsgroup post but primarily look at
different cards, directly comparing them.  Low component
counts or cheap off-brand capacitors are often signs of

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NEC 35xx series is a very good value, one of the more

Re: PC builders: Please advise on common online brands

Jonathan Appleseed wrote:
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Cases: I haven't used any of those. They are probably okay if you just
want the case but not the power supply. Just4PC makes a few cases
bundled with decent power supplies (they tend to be the 425/450watt
ATX12V models) which are perfect for Socket-A but they start to get
stressed a bit when you move to Socket-939 and throw in a higher end
graphics card and a lot of add ons. You are better off buying the case
you like, and then going power supply shopping based upon your amp &
watt needs on each rail.  It's a lot harder to select a decent power
supply than it used to be.

Motherboards: MSI, Gigabit, Asus, and sometimes DFI if you are buying
the 'ulra-deluxe model' there are some middle models where they skimped
on the PCB. (Not the only company that does this. Interestingly enough,
DFI doesn't do that to their Matx boards which tend to be good values
for the price.)

Video cards and I'm going to add monitor:  You don't look at your tower
all day, you look at the monitor. Get the biggest, and best monitor you
can afford with the best specs.  The extra screen real estate pays off
in the amount of time you spend scrolling. Using a 15" or even a 17" is
painful compared to having a 21" (or 2 or 3 21" <G>) screen.

I've had fairly good luck with Asus & Gigabyte cards. In particular, the
Gigabyte cards that are designed to be quieter with the huge heatpipes.

Memory: Crucial/Micron. Corsair generally uses Samsung chips and Samsung
chips are fine, they will do what the chips are rated at. Even Kingston
is fine. Honestly, unless you are overclocking most sticks will work
just fine at what they are rated. Mind the voltage they run at as you
may have to adjust your board to use them.

HD: Samsung, Hitachi, Western Digital, Seagate. I'm not that fond of

DVD: Of those NEC is fine and makes some decent drives.

Re: PC builders: Please advise on common online brands

Suddenly, without warning, Jonathan Appleseed exclaimed (5/5/2005 9:28 AM):
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None of the above.  Get a Lian-Li case - simple looks, well-designed
interior.  Then buy a decent PS... most that come in a case aren't
particularly good quality.  Mine's an Enermax, I bought it a while back,
but it's working fine with my Athlon 64 system.

Lian-Li cases are probably pricier than those on your list, but worth
every penny.  IMHO, you can't buy a better designed case.

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