To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Do you have a question? Post it now! No Registration Necessary.  Now with pictures!

Threaded View
Never built one before - but been researching the hell out of it - but
now i've come to the proverbial fork in the road.  All i want is a mid
level gaming rig - perhaps with some room to upgrade.  (ie cheap now
but able to put more $ in later).

So far I'm looking at:

Video Card $139.99 ($105.99 after rebate)
XFX PV-T42E-UDE3 GeForce 6800 Xtreme PCI Express 256MB DDR3 Video Card
w/TV-Out & Dual DVI Out Retail

Memory $84.99
Corsair Value Select Dual Channel 1024MB PC3200 DDR 400MHz Memory ( 2
x 512MB ) CAS 2.5

PSU $66.59 (After rebate 54.59)
Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 500W Power Supply Retail

So total $580 which is $533 after rebates.  Now I have a case that
will work fine.  but still have to look at DVD/CD writer (i really
like that lightscribe!) and some fans, and another OS (XP or media
center) and a hard drive.

I just dont know if it'll be worth continuing looking into this.

Then i looked at retail and something similar is:  $579
Hewlett-Packard Pavilion Media Center Desktop with AMD Athlon™ 64
Processor 3700+
Model: a1310n

with a link to the mobo - also ASUS

obviously i would still have to get the vid card above - and after
talking to the hponline people - the psu is 300w output: +5v@25a,
+12v@19a, +3.3@18a, -12v@0.8a, +5vsb@2a - with no connector for the
pci-e slot.  why in the hell would they have a pci-express slot and
no connection to the power supply?  sheesh.

So i am trying to do this 75% cheap and 25% upgradeable for the next
year or two.

any and all help/suggestions welcomed.


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

If you're a commie,you'll be happy with the mediocrity in materials that HP
or Dell will provide you with. You'll be given no information about what's
in the box and its potential or not. If you decide to become a Capitalist,
and build your own, you get to choose, where you want the better or lesser
quality parts, you'll be given plenty of detail about their properties,
you'll learn a great deal more and be more competent and confident in your
machine. You will not however be able to compete with their price

Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Comrade wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

    As RBM said, it really boils down to whether you ever intend to modify
the computer.  If so, buy a custom unit even though it will cost more
initially.  Ready made units are often proprietary in design and are
done so to PREVENT modifications or force you to buy replacement parts
form the maker.

    There are companies that will assemble custom made computers using
parts that are NOT proprietary.  My son had one built at and it was very inexpensive as well as problem
free.  I have no interest in this company, I am only relating my
experience.  You might check it out.

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

On Mon, 06 Mar 2006 10:31:17 GMT, no@spam.invalid (Comrade)

Quoted text here. Click to load it


Quoted text here. Click to load it

That HP is optimized towards not using much power, so it's
not a matter of the PCIe connector, it's the PSU itself
(otherwise you could just buy an adapter cheap).  Similarly,
the case and cooling is not engineered for the significant
increase in heat from gaming with a power hungry video card.
The HP had marginal front (HDD) cooling to begin with and it
would be even worse with a 2nd drive installed.

In short, the HP is not bad if you wanted to use it as-is,
NOT change it.   This is at the core of what OEM systems
are, they are optimized towards low cost in the very real
ways that effect their use.  They are designed to be whole
systems moreso than modular (add or subtract as you see fit)
when it comes to large or power hungry parts.

If you want an OEM gaming box then buy one ready-made,
they're a lot more expensive.  

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Thx for the replies,

I really am new to idea of building your own computer (and i know that
the sum knowledge that i've gained in this last weeks is still very

So I had a newbie ephiphany thx to you all.  I can buy a premade
retail system like the hp a1310n and face the same problem that i am
having with my current hp athlon xp 2600 - cant really upgrade
anything.  Whereas if I build my own i can get only what i want with
upgrades in mind.  Or if money were no problem I could pay the
premium for a high end gaming system.

well - i am excited and challenged by building my own (and excersize
my brain).

I would like to be able to get by with this computer for the next
1.5-2 years.  Excepting the vid card and 1 gig memory - How am I

So all i need now are:

Case - taken care of
OS - probably go XP home again (get someone i know in college to buy
HDD - is it ok to go with "bare" or "whitebox"
DVD/CD w drive - not sure what i should get quality vs. cost
and some misc fans.


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

On Mon, 06 Mar 2006 18:34:57 GMT, no@spam.invalid (Comrade)

Quoted text here. Click to load it

yes you could use it that long, but as with any gaming
system, it'll look bad in benchmarks on the popular review
'sites in 2 years.  That doesn't mean it won't game anymore
but it's a good start.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Sure, XP Pro is not needed for gaming.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

yes/no/maybe, depends on what/where it is.  Major brand
drive, sometimes the OEM versions even have longer warranty
(like some Western Digital's 3 yr vs 1 yr), but is it really
much savings?  For best value I can usually find a drive
quite cheap after rebate(s) in the weekend newspapers, which
might not be so useful for someone building a lot of systems
but for 1 or 2 drives it can make them pretty inexpensive in
fulll retail versions.  Personally I prefer at least two
drives, but that can be done later if necessary.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Generic answer is NEC3550, has one or
more on sale right now making them about $38 delivered.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Panaflo "L" series are good for case, dual ball-bearing for
CPU heatsink- major brands such as NMB, Nidec, Sunon, Delta,

In the long run you might prefer to buy an aftermarket
heatsink as they can be much quieter.  if so, choose one
with at least 80mm x 25mm thick, low RPM.  Often low-cost
'sinks have junk fans so if you won't be overclocking it can
be more cost effective to get a 'sink with a fan you plan on
replacing now, rather than waiting for it to fail... though
rarely good deals on 'sinks come along too.

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Quoted text here. Click to load it
Quoted text here. Click to load it

Depends on whose computer you want to use; yours or theirs. I prefer to
computer with iron of my choice, and live with the inevitable consequences.
You learn nothing by going retail, except how to deal with mediocre tech
support (for the most part). If you build, your education stock goes up.

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Others have replied to the reasoning to build vs buy. I wanted to remark
about the memory you chose. Personally, I haven't had good luck with
anyone's "Value Select" RAM (didn't pass QA for performance?). Two things
not to skimp on are power and RAM. You covered the PSU adequately. I would
suggest a higher quality line of RAM.


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

As a first time builder, I expect you would get burned bad. In looking
at the parts you have selected ... here's how:

ASUS mobos are sold by fly-by-nights who will give you a fit
in any warranty claims. ASUS mobos are highly overrated, and
you will probably have an ASUS "rebooter" inside of 6 months, and
be stuck with it. I refuse to allow another one in my department.
I got tired of the "acts of congress" required to RMA the stupid
things, just to get a refurb with the same problem.

That XFX 6800 is a real POS. In games like Far Cry, you can't
move the mouse without getting screen glitches and pauses.
Their restocking fee is 15%, and they are not kidding. Send it
in for "repair" and you 'll get the same problem right back.

That psupply spec is an absolute lie. I don't believe for a milli
sec that a 300 watter can source 19 amps on the 12v rail.
Somebody was BSing you.

So right away, you've spec't out a dog that will make you
furious, and cause you to throw away your investment.  I
can do this because I do it for a living ... and still I can get
myself in trouble homebrewing a system.

Here's one that I've built up and tested: ( Parts from Mwave )

GA-K8NF-9 mobo bundle with AMD Athlon 64 3700
2 gigs Kingston ddr400 ( 2 sticks of 1 gig each )
eVGA 7800GT 256 pci-e with lifetime warranty
160 gig Hitachi SATA ( not Maxtor !!!!!!!!! )
Viewsonic 19 inch LCD monitor with DVI cable 8msec or 4 msec
Microsoft keybd -mouse combo
Sony DVD .. RW, etc because the Sony is quiet !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Sony floppy ( for recovery of image )
Antec SLK1650B case with 350 watt psupply .. but I managed
   to trade the 350 for a TruePower 480 watt .. very quiet.

This system will just about top out any game on the market,
and yes, I did test CoD2 maxed out. Played fine.  It is not a
cheap system, but I benched it against a Dell 9100, and an
equivalent HP machine, and my build essentially doubled
any benchmark the Dell or HP could produce.  But even
then, I needed to know exaclty how to install the SATA ...
required the "menu" config from the cd, and shutting off
RAID in the BIOS. Required the correct nVidia driver with
Coolbits to configure color saturation and quality. Required
the proper version of PowerDVD to keep the 7800 happy,
and prevent enabling DMA of the Sony .... It took knowing
a bit to make this thing right.  Lord help you if you install
NERO on this box !!!  So "paying" for a little peace of
mind is not a bad idea. Nudge up the HP with the 3700
to about $1200, and you'll have a good machine and
good tech support. Dell's not that bad either, but they
will screw you on the video card. Extended warrantys
are good things too.


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

On 7 Mar 2006 01:01:40 -0800, wrote:

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Generally, no.  Asus boards are sold everywhere and while
they do sometimes have bugs (as most boards do), the bugs
are also seen in context that often Asus boards have more
features onboard.  Similarly, other boards with a lot of
features, or that parts are added to later, may also require
more care in execution or problem resolution.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

Your Far Cry issue has absolutely nothing to do with the
card being an XFX rather than another brand.  XFX would
account for quality issues of the capacitors or fan and
heatsink adequacy (I make no judgement about whether those
particular parts are any worse on XFX than other brands, are
just examples), but XFX being the manufacturer would not
account for Far Cry or another game haven't glitches and
pauses, unless it was simply the card failing or
overheating.  Since there was no mention of it failing, you
might try another heatsink or better case cooling.  If
another card did same it migh be a driver- always use the
newer nVidia driver and Far Cry is known to need at least
one patch, might be to v 1.30 but I'm unsure of the version
on the patch.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

It's possible for a 300W PSU to now have 19A on 12V rail, IF
it had a corresponding decrease in amps available on 5V/3V
rails, though such would more likely be accurate in only the
largest name brands (such as Delta) or an OEM spec'd unit,
not a generic or regular retail brand.

Either way, 300W is too borderline and ought to be upgraded
for use on modern system with 6800 or other power hungry
video card.

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Never ever bought a computer yet, until I built my own my knowledge of
them was zero.

Building your own allows you to do several things, for example you can
build to your requirement and this gives you the ability to repair
them without fear if they should go wrong and you'll gain some
knowledge of them.

Yes you may have the odd headache and you'll get them just as easy
with a ready built unit,  some ready built units 'may' not allow easy
up-grades but you build your own you can build with this in mind.

My guess is you'll build a unit the third of the cost of a
manufactured one, but obviously you don't get the throw-ins like a
monitor or printer, keyboard etc.


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Kind of thought it was funny that the guy who said that ASUS boards
are crap then said that I should go with the HP.  Every HP that i've
had uses an ASUS board.

Thx for all the help - i haven't seen any major objections (and I've
posted on several forums) so I'm ordering everything today.

I actually find this fun - building your own computer.  I know that
mine is no where near "top of the line" - but hell I dont

I thought seriously about dual core and sli - but to be honest the
only advantage is to give others "penis envy" lol, imo.  I
don't doubt that they will be the future - but in the near future
there is nothing that even comes close to taking advantage of them.

So with the exception of the vid card + some more memory- i feel
pretty confident that this will be fine for me for the next 1.5-2



Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

I didn't use any fancy static earthing straps for the wrist.

Make sure you don't do it in socks rubbing against a nylon carpet, the
trick before handling any board is to touch the case with both  hands
just on the inside where it isn't painted and handle the cpu and the
rams by the edges keeping away from the chip contacts.

Pay special attention to mounting the mobo and cpu, keep screw drivers
etc well away from the mobo, if you have trouble with the CPU spring
use a thick card on the mobo under the screw driver - just in case it

Some CPU's come with a thin square grey cloth type pad, these do not
need any heatsink compound as they are impregnated use what comes
with the chip or cooler.

Thats about it really, the mistake I made was not taking the CD disc
out during the installation of XP

The part where is say's rebooting in #### seconds half way through the
install... took me two days to suss out  it kept booting
from the CD did'nt it, when you come to this stage where you get a
red line and say's rebooting in #### seconds,  remove the CD go into
bios and change  from booting from CD to boot from HDD or it 'may'
keep reverting back to the beginning of the CD installation.

Good luck


Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Woot finally ordered - hopefully it will be here so i can get it
rolling this
weekend -

Here is what i ended up going with:

Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-500 500W
Power Supply Retail $61.99 ($12 MIR)

XFX PV-T42E-UDE3 GeForce 6800 Xtreme PCI
Express 256MB DDR3 Video Card
w/TV-Out & Dual DVI Out Retail $139.99 ($35 MIR)

Asus A8N5X nForce4 Athlon 64(FX)/64 X2 Dual-Core Skt939 DDR ATX
w/Audio, Gigabit LAN, RAID/Serial ATA Retail $84.75

AMD Athlon 64 3700+
Processor (San Diego) Socket 939 Retail $215.00

Corsair TWINX1024-3200C2PT 1GB
DDR400 XMS3200 Dual-Channel Memory
w/Platinum Heat Spreader Retail $93.00

CB5216AG DVD 16x + CD-RW 52x32x52 Combo Drive (Beige) Retail

Got all of
that from for $633.73 (still have $47 in

and from

Maxtor Ultra Series 100GB Hard Drive
7200RPM, Internal, SATA/150
retail $89.99 ($50 MIR)

Total $729.12
less MIR $97.00

Final $632.12

Woot -
thx for all the help and suggestions!

Re: To Build or just say screw it and go retail?

Hi Comrade,

Found this forum doing a search and found lots of good/interesting
advise. I am a first poster here, however this does mean nothing.

The last post above mine indicates quite a nice system. Good choices
over any pre-build system.

The only item i would question is the CD/ROM drive. Why not spend an
extra $10USD and get a DVD burner. They burn everything, not just

Looks like you will have a tidy, fast system. Good luck.


Site Timeline