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Discussion Starter #1
Just wondering if anyone had any last-minute advice before I buy my system. I'm building it myself, except that I'm opting for someone to put together the mobo for me so I don't run the risk of frying the whole system based on the processor installation.

I'm on a budget, so I'm not opting for the $2000+ system, but I do want something that runs modern games well and, most importantly, can handle some development (Avid Express DV, Adobe AfterEffects, Microsoft Access/Excel with VBA/Visual Basic .Net, Macromedia Fireworks/Flash/Dreamweaver--I know, I dabble a little too much). Hence the dual core and lesser emphasis on GPU. Right now, this looks like it's coming out at around $1200.

Case: Sky Hawk/Eagle Tech MSR4620 (the clearance one at NewEgg)
PSU: XCLIO 450BL (also from NewEgg)
Mobo: Abit AN8 Ultra (non-SLI)
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800
RAM: DDR400 Patriot 2x512 PDC1G3200LLK (2,3,2,5, if I read the web site correctly)
HDD: Western Digital Caviar SATA 3Gb/s 250GB, 7200RPM, 16MB cache
DVD: Pioneer DVR-110D 16X Dual Layer DVD±RW Drive
OS: Windows XP Professional w/SP2

Here's the real trick: The GPU. I've settled on the Radeon, but my budget is such that I can only get something in the $120-150 range. Should I get a nice X700 with 256mb, or an x800 with 128mb? Any GeForce lovers in this price range?

Any advice, or comments on things I might have missed or mistaken, would be much appreciated. If you have ideas about how to better appropriate my finances (sacrifice quality where I don't need it and put it somewhere I do), I would appreciate that as well.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I think you should go with the ATI All-in-Wonder X600 pro :)

great for multimedia, and with a 20 dollar rebate, you can't go wrong :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey, thanks for the real tip on that one. I had completely overlooked the All-In-Wonder series. Sounds perfect!

Any tips on the rest of the system are still appreciated. Thanks!
 

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Your power supply looks risky (no-name generic)
Take a look at this: Choosing the Right Power Supply

For a DVD writer I would buy the NEC 3540 (OEM or Retail) over the Pioneer.
Retail is a few bucks more but you get Nero with it.
It's the price/performance sweet spot and a Newegg best seller.

For a premium DVD writer I would go for the Plextor 716 (non-SATA)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Everyone has an opinion... I actually picked the XCLIO after looking at another review of reliable and affordable power supplies. I'll go through your link, though. It never hurts to know more.

Unfortunately, I only see the NEC drives in black for retail boxes. Oh well, all aesthetics aside, I might put a little extra money into a burner anyway. I use it pretty frequently.

On further observation, I can't tell that the All-In-Wonder would be any better for my purposes. I initially thought it was tailored to video, but if it's just an x600 with enhanced capture capabilities, I'd rather put the money into a better GPU, since most of my capturing will be directly from MiniDV through the firewire port on my mobo. Or is there something I'm missing?

Thanks for the help!
 

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hello:

JFLAN is offering you excellent advice / there are a hellva ton of problems that come with low quality power supplys. They genrally burn up either the mobo, cpu, or hard drive before they kick the bucket themselves !! hardly worth the few $$$$ save
the samrt choice is in Enermax and Antec / two very high quality makers that offer the highest quality units for the least money / about $100.00 for a 550 watt unit

http://techreport.com/reviews/2004q4/psus/index.x?pg=1

goodluck

joe
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
I'm just saying I've heard a lot about PSU's before, and I know the value of a good one. The XCLIO was specifically recommended. I definitely don't need a 550W, but I might look up a 450W Antec. (And I know all the things to check, about the amperage on the 12V rail, split 12V rails, etc.)

I would really appreciate any more help with the video card, though.
 

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Have a look at the Antec Sonata II Case it comes with a 450w PSU and offers excellant cooling options
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here's the Xclio review:

http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/cases/Meridian_XClio_450W_1.html

I understand that it is the foundation of the system, but $100 on the PS alone isn't necessary for my purposes. If it's solid and it does its job, that's all I need. My main concern as far as the PS goes is that it will run the X2 and the mobo on the first 12V rail. I do my research. I'm just looking for things I might have missed.

My specific questions:
1. Motherboard - good for the $120 range?
2. Memory - issues?
3. CAS Latency - how big is 2,2,2,5 vs. 2,3,2,5?
4. SATA 3G - worth it on a 7200rpm?
5. 16MB cache - worth it for my uses?
6. Video card - advice?

I would like to know about the other elements of the system. Even if it is just to say "solid choice." I need that.

Thanks for all the advice you've offered already. Rethinking some of your choices is generally a good thing, and it's the reason that I posted here in the first place. :smile:
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Does the Sonata II have a good in-box PS for this system? It cosmetically doesn't go with my beige monitor or peripherals, but it's not on top of the desk either, so it doesn't really matter. At $100 plus shipping, that might be the sweet spot. (I was looking at $110 after tax and shipping anyway.)
 

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MC,
You may have found a nice power supply there. I had never heard of the brand but the specs and the test results look very good at that price point.

Antec has just released their new and improved HE power supplies and also a new case that sports one of these. It's called the P150 Mid-Tower

I think it might be of interest, esp. the color. :sayyes:

Antec is one of the few (maybe only) that can provide a decent case and power supply.
 

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oh, well i thought you were putting an emphasis on multimedia and flexibility, both of which the All in wonder series provides.

If you're looking for a newer GPU, you could look for something with the X800GT GPU, they're decent cards, but are just a teensy bit out of the price range you provided.. Not sure if you wanted to jump up a little bit, they can be found somewhere between 160-180 i think. Most cards have the GDDR3 memory, more pipelines and faster clocks than the x600, so it's got a little more beef.

You could get the brand new x1000 card with the AVIVO and be all set :p
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Don't get me wrong, I'm all about flexibility, but I also don't want to put money where I'm not going to use the features. I just wondered if I was missing some feature of the All-In-Wonder, because for the time being video capturing isn't really an issue--I don't expect to pull from TV, VHS, or DVD a whole lot. If there's a multimedia-enhancing feature to the X600 All-In-Wonder that isn't about capture quality, I'd like to know about it.

Thanks for the heads-up on the X800GT, too. I'll check it out.

Thanks for the help, everyone! I know I've said that almost every post, but I really do appreciate your taking the time to help me with my configuration.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sweet. That's exactly what I need. I keep looking up the specs on all these cards. It's nice to have them all laid out.

I decided on the Antec Sonata II, just because I know it's going to be quiet. Probably in most other respects it doesn't differ that much from the setup I had before, but I like quiet.

I also ordered the mobo/CPU/RAM and OS. I think I'm going to keep my choice for HDD, but I'm moving toward the Plextor DVD drive. I was thinking of getting the high-performance one with the 8MB buffer, but then I saw it was packaged with Roxio, and I really just want a better version of Nero (I'm currently running Version 5 OEM). Besides, other than the buffer, I don't see that much of a performance difference.

I'm seeing some decently priced X800 GTO's around in some places. Looking over it again, I think I can raise my cost bar a little bit. I still wouldn't mind having the Pixel Shader 3.0 technology from the geForce cards, but I don't think that's going to be useful on any card within my price range.

What do we think about buying video cards on Ebay?
 

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An Important point to remember, however, is that, unless you play fairly intensive games, 3D performance is really that last thing you should consider in a video card. If you mainly run Office apps(2D), then an ATI is a better bet. ATI provides higher 2D performance in their Radeon cards, as opposed to nVidia, who tends to lower 2D performance in order to provide higher 3D performance at a lower cost.

Just something to consider!

Thanks :sayyes:
 

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Nice choice with the Sonata II...that P150 is a bit pricey at the moment :sad:

If I were buying a video card I would look to Newegg first. Others are e-Wiz, Zip-Zoom-Fly, Monarch, Mwave, etc.

Lots of folks like e-Bay but I have no experience with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'm really tempted by some of the refurbished Radeon options at NewEgg and other places. And I see in some places that you can flash the BIOS on X800 Pros and X850 Pros with VIVO to unlock the extra four pipelines. I might have to keep a look out for one of those. Even if I do have to stretch my price range just a little bit farther still. (Then again, I might find it persistently just beyond my reach, rather than giving up and going with something sensible.)

As far as performance, thanks for the tip, GC. I would really like something that handles both, but when it comes right down to it I have to sacrifice gaming power for the sake of my greater interests--namely, video editing performance. I don't know whether 2d or 3d would most aid video effects--it probably depends on the effect--but for the most common effects (filters and color correction) I would expect 2d performance to be optimal.

If it works for that, it should work for any of my practical applications. I somehow doubt that Microsoft Access strains the video card as much as Avid Xpress.



p.s. jflan - once again, good call on the performance tables. i've gone back to those about ten times.

p.p.s. sorry for being wordy - i'm a writer, not a talker.
 

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I would stay clear of a refurb V.C. or mobo. Too much risk.

Here's some tweak info on the X 800 GTO 2
The prices have increased for this card since the above was written.
 
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