Planning for a new Desktop PC

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#1
I'm starting to think about replacing my current (working just fine) Pentium 4 HT/Intel D865GBF machine and am toying with building my own, although reluctant as I know I will make mistakes and can afford to pay for a readily assembled one.
I've looked at TigerDirect and suchlike and have found a number of sites both Canadian and US based where one can specify what goes inside, i.e. build it online and they send it out assembled.
Right now I'm aiming for an Intel QX9650 Quad-Core Extreme processor in either an Intel DX38BT (no TPM*) M/B or an ASUS P5E3 M/B (all ASUS have TPM's I believe). By the time I decide, there will no doubt be successors to the above anyway.
I will also have to buy all new memory, optical and hard drives, video/sound cards of course.
I know - I'm looking at $3 - 4k money-wise.
What scares me, and I obviously have to do a lot of reading about, is RAID. All this kerfuffle when installing or repairing a system with having to click F6 and install drivers etc.:wtf:
Although my current HDD's are SATA I do not use RAID (can't with the current M/B) and really don't want to get involved with it in the future, but it seems that I will have to bite the bullet as most new systems come with it as standard, or am I imagining problems?:glare:
Any advice on that would be appreciated.

*TPM = Trusted Platform Module - makes Vista Bitlocker implementation sooooo much easier:tongueout:oint:.
 
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Mak 2.0

Mod...WAFFLES!?!?
Staff member
#2
Well hte system you are thinking about sounds great. But honestly i would stay clear of RAID. Some say you get a performance boost. but you can get that from SCSI drives as well. SATAII drives will give you a boost just like RAID. RAID is only for redundency which is good...until a drive goes bad.

To me i just dont see the purpose of using 2 drives to act like one. Why not haev the drives act as a drive. That way if it fails at least you still have a drive with info.
 

Ex_Brit

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#3
Exactly, but as I know so little about it, how does one remove, or disable, RAID that is already set up in a system?
Every place I look online has no option for "no RAID" - they all have at least RAID 0.
 

Mak 2.0

Mod...WAFFLES!?!?
Staff member
#4
Basically you would just format the drives. If it is a hardware RAID there would be settings in the BIOS to disable it. At least from my knowledge there is. Mahmoud might be a better person for that answer. I have avoided RAID like the plague...
 

Sarge

Active Member
#5
Mr. Peter, why do you need a new PC for, if its not a secret? :smile:
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#6
Why would you want someone else to build your system for you Peter ?
That's half the fun.
Opening all those cardboard boxes, screwing all the bits together, plugging in the cards, dropping in the CPU, then sticking an OS in the tray and pushing the button. Magic. Like a childhood Christmas.
To give Vista its due, It was the quickest and easiest clean install I've ever done. (Forgetting for the moment lack of 64 bit drivers for those old bits of hardware I hadn't replaced and the lamentable refusal of AMD/ATi to bother with Vista support for the TV function of the AIW card) Even the pre-installation phase used the full capability of my new 22" widescreen monitor.

And of course, if you buy and install the OS yourself, there's no nonsense about not having a Windows DVD and having to put up with the vendor's recovery process and all the attendant sh*t they've loaded up your system with.

And just set up your HDD(s) any way you want. Ignore RAID if you don't have an online production type environment you're trying to protect. Just make sure you back up your personal data.
HDDs are incredibly reliable. It hardly seems worthwhile setting up a system in the expectation that the components are going to fail. That's a "glass half empty" view of life.
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#7
I'm not averse to building it myself but I would rather someone else did it to be honest. Why do I need a new PC? Well I don't really need one...yet. I guess if I wait another 2 years even faster chips will be available.
It's amazing just how few decent "build it online" places there are that give one total control over what goes in the box.
I guess I can start with a barebones kit and work up from there, but it's all "pie in the sky" right now anyway, so I wont be committing myself anytime soon.
It's freaking me out all the research I have to do to ensure that I get all the right "ingredients"...LOL
One has to be sure to allow for future expansion/upgrade etc.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#8
Those sound like some really nice specs there, Peter... Best of luck with that!

RAID is disabled by default. You can have as many SATA drives as you like connected to your machine, and they'll be running just like normal IDE drives would (except a hell of a lot faster!). RAID isn't something that just happens, you have to "build" the RAID config in the BIOS if you'd like to use it.

I hear the best prices in Canada come from NCIX, at least that's what I've been told.

Depending on when you buy this machine: Intel has a new CPU socket coming out at the end of this year (with their Nehalem series of processors).... waiting for that will guarantee you the best future compatibility... though getting a X38 chipset now still leaves you with quite a ways to go with regards to upgrades and such.
 
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Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
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#9
Thanks CG, maybe I'll wait.
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#10
Only one trouble with waiting Peter - Moore's Law. (It was Moore wasn't it ?). Because of the ever upward exponential growth in HHD/memory size and CPU/memory speed, no matter how long you wait, you never achieve the cutting edge, it's always just moving away from you.

Personally, being a cheapskate, (or with a keen sense of value for money, as I prefer to think of it) I've always built new systems from gen(-1) rather than gen(0) technology, using the latest CPU slot/socket factor to allow for future (cheap) speed boost. That way when I built my latest system last October, the 4400 dual-core, DDR2 6400 memory, 500G WD SATA2 drive were all in the £40-60 price bracket, and not in the £200 range that cutting-edge would have cost me.
My only extravagance was splashing out for a 22" widescreen LG monitor.

Despite this forward planning, I've seldom managed to upgrade a mobo with a faster CPU or memory. Sod's law, rather than Moore's always seems to dictate that by the time you decide you need a boost, AMD/Intel will have abandoned the socket you used and invented another, and nothing faster than what you've already got is available in the legacy form.

Still it gives you the excuse to trawl the magazine back-pages and the websites and start to select the new bits of your system. I like to start from an empty box and build it from scratch, including Power supply, fans, floppy, and all the other little bits too. This time I bought enough spare bits to resurrect my previous systems which had been canabalized for keyboard/floppy/CD/DVD drives. Those sort of items are in the £2-10 range here, so I intend to have a legacy museum in the loft, where I can nostalgically look back to the days of W95 (where everything seemed to work just as fast as on the 100x faster kit !!!)

Must go now - excitement - a courier has just arrive bearing my broadband kit.
Depending on whether that means they've upgraded my line yet, I might be really fast when I next appear.
 

mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#11
Sound exciting Terry!! Good luck!
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#12
Oh joy,
We have broadband !
Mind you, not all is milk and honey. I'm here courtesy of XP at the moment. I plugged in the router and it settled into its "broadband is available" flashing light signal, but would Vista talk to it ? - would it b*gg*r !

Went all round the houses, trying everything I could think of, eventually deciding that maybe my line hadn't been enabled. (after all I haven't received any official communication to say so yet)

Then brainwave ! What's a dual boot for if not to give a second option ?
Booted XP, ran the installation CD, typed in my ID, BINGO! here I am.

Now all I've got to do (again) is work out what the hell is wrong with bl**dy Vista.

addendum

Sometimes it's the stupidest bl**dy thing - what a wally !
The Vista troubleshooter on my bb installation disk kept failing because I was clicking on the icon, not on the text.
As soon as I clicked in the correct spot I got into the troubleshooter, and within 4 more clicks I was here.
Still - I blame it on their bad design - that's my excuse etc etc ....

I'm presently here twice, once hardwired through Vista on the new kit, and again wirelessly through XP on last year's PC.
Can you hear the echo -cho -cho ......
 
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mqudsi

Mostly Harmless
Staff member
#13
It's a USB modem? if it also has a an ethernet port you could give that a try.............
 

Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#14
I've got this system hard wired into the ethernet port at the moment, and I've just connected my backup system wirelessly (both XP - no problems) and as soon as connected the old box, it detected my firewall and virus software being out of date and leapt in and downloaded 39.7 Mb of Zonealarm and about 4.5 Mb of AVG in just over 2 minutes !!! That would have been 3-4 hours waiting this morning, and this system was also connected simultaneously, while I was in the other room trying to get the installation CD to run on the W98 Thinkpad. (It's not keen on Windows that old)
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#15
Food for thought indeed Terry & CG. By the way it's http://www.ncix.com then select Canada. That OpenDNS link is bad.
 
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#16
I would make it yourself ^_^

i made my first one ^_^

i bought a barebones and filled in the rest from what i already had, buying upgrades as i have money and such ^_^

its rather fun as terry said to build it yourself

and if you do build it yourself, you know all the parts are universal and not manufacture brands, like the HP HD i had, "please replace with HP..." very annoying IMO
 

Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#17
I hear you. That's like Dell XPS 420 - uses a "BTX" form motherboard, in other words - buy the bits from Dell or you are screwed.
There are several manufacturers, including the one I bought my current machine from, that openly advertise the fact that they use "brand name" components, so each part of your machine is readily recognizable.
My current one is an Intel chip on an Intel M/B with Kingston memory etc. etc. etc.
If I don't make it myself I think I would tend to go with THIS one as I can choose exactly what goes in.
But building it myself may be the way I will go. But note - I know absolutely nothing about building a PC.
This would most likely be the barebones that I would start with: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=3563043&CatId=31
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#18
The only skill required Peter, is the ability to wield a screwdriver.
The only problem I ever had building a PC, was with a Syntax mobo which had a peculiar quirk that if you did/didn't have screws in the correct holes securing the board to the case, it just wouldn't boot !
Once I found a description of the problem/peculiarity online and moved a couple of fixing points, it booted never to give another problem in several years.
Everything else I've built/modified, just sprang into life on hitting the button.
If you've ever slipped a new modem or a second hard disk into an existing PC, you have all the requisite skills to build one from the basic components. That way you can even chose things like the power supply, making sure that it isn't too small (or too big !) power-wise (not dimensions), and meets all the connectivity requirements of your other proposed kit.
Starting with a bare bones means you have to accept whatever supply they provided (which could be cheap and nasty and might not have the right connectors for your requirements without needing adapters)

Mind you, the barebones you quoted seems to have a fair bit of flesh cover, but that's about as much as I spent building my last 3 systems put together !
 
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Ex_Brit

If you're going through hell, keep going
Staff member
#19
Yes maybe that barebones is a little pricey, but that's mainly due to the fact that particular processor ($1100.00+) and M/B are pricey to begin with.
So far on my currrent system I have replaced the original IDE HD with a SATA HD and added a 2nd SATA HD. (No RAID)
Replaced the original CDRW/DVD optical burner with 4 all-write Lightscribe burners.
Switched off the onboard sound & added a Creative S/B Audigy 4 card.
Added a TV Tuner/PVR card
Added a FAX modem (I use high-speed cable for my internet connection normally)
Added an nVidia graphics card.
Added a 1000w power supply (none too soon I may add...LOL) - next time I'll buy a modular one (lesson learned)
Replaced all the cables with round ones to ease airflow.
Replaced the original monitor with an LCD flat panel.
Added Bluetooth 2 keyboard and mouse combo
Added a USB Hub

etc. etc. and not necessarily in that particular order.

I'm sure that I've missed something out, but suffice it to say that I am pretty familiar with the innards of this particular machine!!

What daunts me with building my own is little things, like picking the right components and making sure I have the appropriate fans in the right places (particularly for the processor) & enough of them, not to mention temperature sensors connected correctly etc.
 
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Terry60

Knows where his towel is.
Staff member
#20
I always buy a processor as a retail pack, so that the fan is guaranteed to be the right size.
You appear to have built your own PC anyway, albeit in dribs and drabs, so you've nothing to fear.
Just enjoy the reading-up. Keep tissues handy to wipe the saliva from your chin though !

Don't worry about the little details, the mobo documentation is normally very precise about those things, and they're not critical in the short term with the covers off.
 
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