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Need a crash course on new PC hardware.....


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12 replies to this topic

#1
roshan

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OK, so the last time I bought anything computer related was when the Pentium 4 was still new. So, now, Im hopelessly uninformed regarding the latest computer hardware trends. I need a new computer, and want the most bang for my buck. I need advice on video cards and processors in particular.

Also, is a sound card worth investing in? And is there anything new on the RAM front that I should know about?

#2
taks

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amazingly vague... do you have spending limits? what are your goals for this new system?

the processor du jour is still, AFAIK, the core2 duo/quad. i'm probably upgrading in the next year to a quad, btw, from my duo.
nvidia still seems to have a lock on the gfx market. they're into the GTX series now, but i'm still on an 8800 GT, which seems so out of date, so i cannot compare from any experience.

a sound card is worth it, IMO, but they don't really improve performance as much as they improve quality. they're cheap, too, relatively speaking. most creative cards are under $100. with an amplified speaker system, you can get some really killer sound out of a PC. i have an audigy plus one of logitec's speaker systems and it sounds quite nice even at high volumes.

taks

#3
Gorth

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amazingly vague... do you have spending limits? what are your goals for this new system?

Probably the best starting point, what is your budget and is there anything you can salvage/reuse from your old system.

Do you intend complete instant replacement or can you build it over time and spread the costs (I usually do the latter)?

#4
mkreku

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Crash course it is!

Graphics: ATI has the best bang for your buck when it comes to graphics cards right now (Radeon HD 4850/4870). Nvidia rules the single-chip GPU's though (GTX 260/280/285).
Processor: Intel rules CPU's right now. Core 2 Duo is the best CPU for your buck (the overclock-friendly E8400 comes to mind), although the i7 920/940 is a really powerful and expensive beast if you have the cash.
Storage: The hard drives worth their while are 1 TB+ (1000 GB and above) and superfast nowadays. Seagate's excellent reputation has been tarnished, Hitachi are costly but fast. Only go for a SSD (solid state disk, flash based, no moving parts) if you don't need a lot of space and like throwing your money away (Intel and OZC are performance leading in this sector). SSD's are extremely fast though.
Sound: New, high-end motherboards have such great built-in soundcards that discreet soundcards are basically obsolete, unless you plan on mixing your own sounds/music and need to connect a lot of external equipment.
Memory: DDR2 RAM is the most common memory type (and pretty damn fast at 1066 MHz with low latencies), and still to prefer to the more expensive DDR3. Unless you go for that i7 (only works with DDR3), in which case you get THREE (instead of two) memory channels and a true performance boost (and odd amounts of memory, like 3 GB or 6 GB or 12 GB..). I personally prefer the brand Corsair, but the difference is slight.
Motherboard: There are a billion motherboards available so you'll have to spend ages deciding which one to get based on your own, personal preferences. Gigabyte makes very good motherboards at very reasonable prices though.
Power unit: 600W or above is recommended. Insane, I know. Cooltek, Tagan (costly but excellent), Corsair are among the quality brands.
Case: Antec is my personal favourite brand. But there are a lot of great brands like Cooler Master, Zalman, Silverstone among others. You basically can't go wrong unless you buy something really cheap.

It's a start.

#5
LadyCrimson

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Seagate's excellent reputation has been tarnished,

Can I ask from what? Anything specific?

#6
mkreku

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Seagate's excellent reputation has been tarnished,

Can I ask from what? Anything specific?

They've been failing like crazy lately AND they managed to release some sort of firmware that bricked a lot of hard drives:

http://www.theinquir...7200-11-failing

It's gotten so bad that they've removed their five year warranty! It is now three years like the rest of them.

#7
I want teh kotor 3

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I just got an i7, and its friggin' BLAZING. I have 6 gigs of DDR3 Dominator, and a 2.66 GHz proc, with an Nvidia 285 FTW (pre-overclocked) form Evga, witht their tri-SLI motherboard. Its all around $1600, more like $2000 if you need a case or PSU. If that's your price range, I recommend it. It gets 35 fps on Crysis with all settings on high with max res and 8xAA, so you can't go wrong. :)

#8
LadyCrimson

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Seagate's excellent reputation has been tarnished,

Can I ask from what? Anything specific?

They've been failing like crazy lately AND they managed to release some sort of firmware that bricked a lot of hard drives:

http://www.theinquir...7200-11-failing

It's gotten so bad that they've removed their five year warranty! It is now three years like the rest of them.

I had noticed the last ones I bought seemed to be noisier, in an odd kind of way, which made me nervous about their reliability. I haven't bought any since.
Shortening their warranty certainly isn't a good sign. >_<

#9
Nightshape

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Sound: New, high-end motherboards have such great built-in soundcards that discreet soundcards are basically obsolete, unless you plan on mixing your own sounds/music and need to connect a lot of external equipment.


>_<

#10
mkreku

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Sound: New, high-end motherboards have such great built-in soundcards that discreet soundcards are basically obsolete, unless you plan on mixing your own sounds/music and need to connect a lot of external equipment.


;)

I'm curious, what does this mean?

Are you claiming you can hear a difference in sound quality between my HD7.1, Dolby Master Studio Certified built-in soundchip and a Soundblaster X-Fi?
Are you claiming my built-in soundchip lacks some vital feature that Soundblaster can provide?

Built-in soundcards used to be crap. They're not anymore (unless you buy cheap stuff, of course). It's as easy as that.

#11
mkreku

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By the way, does this built-in sound = :down: too?

Onboard Audio
Audio Chipset Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme H/W Audio Card (MS-4132)
Audio Channels 8 Channels

Source: http://www.newegg.co...82E16813130183R

Is it because it's built-in that it's automatically :down:? Or is it the brand that's important? In which case this built-in sound = ;) or..?

Feel free to explain.

#12
neckthrough

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By the way, does this built-in sound = :down: too?

Onboard Audio
Audio Chipset Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme H/W Audio Card (MS-4132)
Audio Channels 8 Channels

Source: http://www.newegg.co...82E16813130183R

Is it because it's built-in that it's automatically :down:? Or is it the brand that's important? In which case this built-in sound = :thumbsup: or..?

Feel free to explain.

FWIW I've been using an MSI board with an older SB Live integrated onto the mobo and it's stellar. Audio quality is superb -- the DAC seems to be a lot better than the standard Realtek 7.1 integrated sound cards, and I haven't had any problems with drivers in Windows or Linux.

#13
Bokishi

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Get a real sound card, no onboard




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