Critique my planned computer build please.

As my current system is 6 1/2 years old and badly out of date, I decided to tackle building my own.

My goal is to have a system that is not hopelessly obsolete as soon as it’s put together and can be upgraded as needed.
I might do some gaming but since my current machine can barely run The Sims 2, I’m totally out of touch with what’s out there.

All the prices are from Newegg and I chose the parts based on price, user ratings and some research.

Feel free to tell me what a fool I am. :smiley:


Gigabyte Triton 180 64.99

Power Supply
Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W 79.99

Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3 134.99

Intel i5-750 199.99

Thermal paste
Arctic Silver 6.99

Corsair 4G (2x2G) DDR3 (2 sets) 198.98

Windows 7 64-bit 183.99

WILL BUY but exact item subject to revision due to price, availability, specifications, etc.

BYTECC internal floppy 7.99
SAMSUNG DVD-R/DVD burner 30.99
SABRENT Internal card reader 12.99

Hard drives
Western Digital 500G 55.99
Western Digital 80G 34.99

Video card
SAPPHIRE Radeon 5750 1G 128-bit (DirectX 11) 144.99

ASUS 23" LCD 199.99

Sound card
Creative Blaster X-Fi 34.99

US Robotics Fax modem 16.99

Logitech S-220 2.1 Multimedia 23.99

MIGHT BUY, these items can be jettisoned if needed.
Logitech standard keyboard 11.67

Logitech optical trackball 26.99
Canon CanoScan Flatbed 57.03

Extra case fan
Vantec 80mm 11.96
Total: 1559.96

Ok, here are my immediate thoughts.

CPU & Motherboard
CPU and motherboard are both very good choices :slight_smile:

I did a bit of reading and it seems your PSU is somewhat noisier than it has to be.
I would get the Corsair TX650 instead, it costs the same after mail-in rebate and it’s quiter and probably higher quality as well.

Always one of the most subjective choices, but I’d opt for a slightly better case with (IMHO) better aesthetics, sound dampening and probably thermal performance.
The Antec P183 is one of best cases out there as it’s extremely quiet, well-built and cools fairly well. It is however much more expensive, so the one you’ve picked seems decent for the price. Personally I feel that if you are buying a new computer the case will last you at least 10 years, so why not get a good one?

Windows 7
Are you student? If you are you can get Windows 7 extremely cheap at

$200 is way, way overpriced. Basically if you are not overclocking or building an enthusiast computer, just really don’t need the higher quality RAM.
Something like the Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB ($65 after a $25 mail-in rebate) should be fine.

I’d recommend getting a 1TB or 1.5 TB harddrive instead, then wait 12 months and get a SSD for OS, Games and Apps. SSD are an order of magnitude better than regular harddrives, unfortunately prices are a bit step and capacities are a bit low at the moment, but that’s rapidly changing.
Graphics Card
Good choice IMHO, you may want to consider the 5850 if you want a bit better future-proofing since you going to want to run games in high resolutions due to your fairly large monitor.

Sound Card
No, do NOT get this card. I have currently an X-Fi and the drivers for windows 7 are extremely disappointing to put it mildly. Frankly I’m suprised they have not been sued yet, it’s the drivers are that bad. Hissing, crackling, memory-leaks constitute the tip the sordid iceberg that is Creative soundcard drivers. You are MUCH better off with an onboard sound card that acutally, well, works.

Don’t know much about it, but it seems good.

Cascade, thanks for the input.

Some of the decision making is budget driven. I won’t have the money for this until June and the amount is uncertain. It will be at least 1600 but might be more.

The Antec case won’t fit my desk, I have a limit of 440mm/17.32 in.

The 5850 is just too expensive, I won’t be doing any heavy gaming, I’m more of a nocore gamer.:smiley:

I don’t think I need a 1.5TB drive, my current drive is 120G and only 43 is filled.

I’ll keep looking at sound cards.

RAM I’ll wait until I buy to see what’s on sale though I can cut back to 4G if needed and upgrade the following year.

A few thoughts for you…

**Motherboard **- Good choice with Gigabyte. You can’t go wrong there.

**HD **- Even if you don’t need it, consider a larger drive. It will not cost you too much more. Also, I strongly recommend getting an additional (same sized) HD so you can do some type of backups, whether it be a fancy RAID configuration or just copying files manually.

CPU Fan - Consider upgrading from the stock cooling fan that comes with the CPU. Zalman fans are good (I recommend the 9500A). The are quite tall, though, so make sure it will fit in your case. This is not a good item to add later as many fans require removing the motherboard to attach screws, etc.

Best of luck with the build.

If you’re not a gamer, 4GB of ram is plenty. It’s probably the easiest things to upgrage, so I’d start with 4GB and go from there.

I’d take the suggestion of getting a 1TB drive over two smaller drives. It’s not that much more expensive, and you never know when you’ll need the room. I distinctly remember saying to a friend of mine once “How would you ever use 3GB of space?”. And that was in the 90’s. And get an SSD when they become more affordable, to run your OS.

Onboard sound is good enough now that you really shouldn’t need a sound card at all, unless you are working with music in some high level capacity.

not upgrading until Diablo III comes out

Yet more thoughts…

Good advice can be found at: (my favorite)

Also, Amazon has surprisingly good reviews.

Continued best of luck with the build. :slight_smile:

I found my thread about buying a new computer!

Man, 2002. I paid almost $4,000 for that system, too. The video card alone was over $500 at the time.

Now it’s a frankenputer with another 512mb or ram (that’s the max the MB allows), a different video card, two more hard drives, and a second DVD drive.

I went with the 2 HDD setup as I saw advice to have the OS and installed apps on one drive and data on another.
The case I chose does have room for a 3rd drive if I ever need it.
I’m just not a saver of things, I don’t download movies or music.

Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

He’s buying 8 GB - 2 lots of 4 GB - not 4 GB. $200 is still expensive, though.

And I agree about the HDDs - buy as large as you can afford and buy two: one for main use, and one in an external USB or eSATA enclosure for backup. Remember that you can partition a drive.

I will suggest you not bother with an internal floppy drive, but get an external USB one instead. Then you can put it away when it’s no needed instead of having it gather dust. Most modern BIOSes support them. This also gives you a spare bay inside.

Sounds like a nice system. I just recently bought a MB, new memory, CPU, and a power supply to upgrade my system (kept the case, peripherals, etc.).

I’m very happy with the Gigabyte MB – I’ve generally gone with Asus up to now, but this one may change my allegiance.

I opted for a new Athlon II quad core ($99!); best bang for the buck, IMO, as I do a lot of multi-threaded programming. The lack of L3 cache just wasn’t a big deal to me in exchange for two more cores. I’m not familiar enough with recent Intel CPUs to comment on them.

I opted for DDR2 memory for cost reasons. I figure I have about 2 years before DDR3 mostly displaces it, so if I want to buy more memory beyond the 4GB I have now, it’ll still be (relatively) cheap until then. I doubt I’ll need faster memory, as I don’t game or do heavy graphics.

If possible/affordable, might I suggest getting a modular PSU? The 550W Enermax I just got is wonderful (thus far) – and it’s an 80+ Bronze. I only needed one SATA and one regular Molex cable, which reduced the in-case clutter to an amazing degree (improved air flow too, of course). Also, it’s not clear to me that you really need 650W (though higher doesn’t hurt, of course).

Besides the modular PSU, the one thing that jumped out at me was the disk space. Are you sure you don’t want more than 500GB? I mean, you can get a better $/GB ratio on higher capacities (e.g., ~$85/TB), so why not go for it?

ETA: oh, I see you addressed the HDD space question. I’d still consider maximizing bang/buck, but I get your reasoning.

Just remembered, since you getting a new PC, why not get the OEM version of Windows 7?
Granted I don’t know what Newegg’s rules are regarding this (you should probably check up on this), but it should be possible.
Should save you aprox. $80, which is not too shabby.

Digital, some of the choices I made were to get ahead of the technology curve or at least stay current. DDR2 is about the same (90-110) as DDR3 for 2x2G. The MB supports up to 16G so I can keep up for a while.
Choosing the PSU has been the biggest headache, no one seems to know just how much I need and the various online calculators give estimates of 250-575.:confused::mad:

Cascade, I’ve considered that, I need to find out how much trouble I might have if I need support as the specs say it’s supposed to be for a resale unit. :wink:

ETA: Depending on the check I get in June, I may be able to go for more.

Yeah – I was surprised at how difficult it was to decide on the most suitable PSU. I really wanted a Silver or Gold efficiency level, but they only seemed to come in 650W+ (and mostly higher, at that; very limited selection). Hence the Bronze I got. Honestly, from what I gather, unless you’re running multiple video cards, you shouldn’t need more than 500-600W. As I said above, though, higher isn’t gonna hurt the system and is good for future upgrade support.

I’ll mention again that I’m really glad I stuck with getting a modular PSU, and I highly recommend it.

If you are going with dual DVD, I’d say go with dual burners, rather than one burner/one player. To me the extra $12 (based on your prices) is worth not having to swap drives out once the system is built if one goes bad.

Newegg has some good sale prices today.

Note that for upgradability LGA 1156 is a dead end, but upgrading a CPU usually is anyway.

Unfortunately, I can’t do anything until June.

LGA 1156 also takes Core i7. I’m pretty sure that a quad core is overkill for pretty much anything I’ll be doing but better than coming up short in a year or two with a dual core.

June is a long time from now in computer-years. You’ll likely have a lot of changes in your list by then. Get Win 7 OEM for sure. You won’t need the paste if you use the Intel cooler.

I do plan to finalize the list once June comes around, see what’s on sale, what prices have come down and what’s available.

Well, exactly.

While socket 1366 will take the new hex cores, those are almost certainly going to be godawful expansive when they come out. Anyone contemplating buying an 1156-based system in the first place is not going to be the kind of person to shell out a grand for a new hex core chip as soon as it comes out ;). And by the time it does become more affordable and attractive you’d almost certainly need a new motherboard for other reasons anyway.

So in my opinion the upgrade argument for 1366 is a bit weak in a bang-for-the-buck system. The reason to spend a few extra dollars on a i7 920 + board would be the somewhat increased ease of overclocking or if you want to use three or more GPUs in tandem ( again, not likely for most people in that price range ).


Yeah, but the terminology is (shocker! ) confusing. It will take other i7 Lynnfield chips ( i.e. 800-series, like the i7 860 I just got ), but not the slightly more robust Bloomfield chips ( i.e. i7 920 and above ). They’re both labeled “i7” because they implement hyperthreading, but they’re not quite the same animal.

Another thing to consider is that you can get a 10000 RPM HD for $159. It will make your computer do things a lot faster, including improving its start up times.

It’ll cost you more money, but if you spend most of your day on the computer then it might be worth splurging a little more for some extra convenience.