Is this a good computer system?

I found this system from

It is within my budget but I never put together a computer before and was wondering how hard it would be. Is it just a matter of connecting all the parts or is there more to it than that? I’m pretty sure that website gave me everything that is compatible.

All I use my computer for is playing lots of movies and Civilization IV. So if it could do those things exceptionally well I’ll be pleased.

Is there anything in there that I don’t need for that? Can I get rid of the sound card, since sound isn’t so important to me?

Thanks in advance for any help.

That is a pretty nice system for the money.

You can skip the sound card as the mobo has onboard sound. I generally prefer the added sound card for performance reasons though but I think you could work fine without it.

You do need to add a heatsink for your CPU however. And thermal paste (I recommend Arctic Silver) to go with it. This is NOT optional. You MUST have a CPU Heatsink/fan (and the thermal paste) for proper operation. You will kill your CPU in minutes without one.

Not sure if that CPU ships with one or not but be sure to check.

Assembling a computer isn’t really that difficult, but there are a lot of details you need to remember (like Whack-a-Mole’s heatsink / thermal paste) or you could cause yourself some problems. But before you get too scared, there are only a couple things that could do that’d make the parts unusable; it’s more likely that you’d have a system that just won’t start up due to missing a power connection or something.

Putting together the physical box is fairly straightforward:

  1. Get all the parts
  2. Mount motherboard in the case
  3. Connect CPU (including heatsink & fan), RAM, and any cards to motherboard.
  4. Mount drives in case, connect to motherboard.
  5. Connect power supply to motherboard, drives, and (in some cases) video card.
  6. Close up the case, and you’re done.

Of course, at this point the hard drive is a blank slate. That page didn’t include operating system, so you would also have to purchase a version of Windows to install onto it. I don’t think Civ IV runs on Linux (I could be wrong), so I’m assuming that’s the OS you currently have. At a brick-and-morter store (Best Buy, CompUSA, etc) your only option will almost certainly be Vista. Windows XP is still available from online vendors, though. Or, if you have an actual Windows XP install CD from your old box, you can use that to install onto the new machine. Legally, you are then required to uninstall windows from the first box. This last option won’t work if your current machine came with a “restore disc”, only if you have actual Windows install media.

Once the OS is installed, you then have to go through all the configuration for the DVD drive, video card, sound (either on-board or sound card), network, etc. On the plus side, going this route avoids all the extraneous software, ISP offers, etc that pre-built machines tend to throw at you.

The video card may be a bit overpowered for your needs. You could probably drop down to a 256 MB card. But the 8800GTS is at a pretty nice spot as far as price and performance, so unless you really need to pinch pennies, my personal opinion would be to stick with it.

It is worth noting that many heatsinks require a bracket (included with the heatsink) attached to the motherboard to properly mount the heatsink. You cannot do this with the motherboard installed.

So, I would split that list:

  1. Mount heatsink/cpu to motherboard (some fiddly details in that one)
  2. Mount mobo in case
  3. Connect RAM/cards to mobo

Also remember to do this on a flat stable surface. No carpet! And make sure you ground yourself before touchign components. I’d go with an OEM version of vista home premium. You can get one from

Another thing: Before installing the OS, you should upgrade your mobo’s firmware. Go to the manufacturer’s website and download the latest version. You’ll usually have to put it on a floppy disk, once everythign is hooked up, boot up the PC and hit delete to enter the BIOS setup. then navigate to the firmware update utility. After upgrading, return to the BIOS and make sure all you’re settings are as they should be before installing the OS.

Unless you plan on going extreme and overclocking the PC, the stock heatsink and fan that are retail-packaged with the processor will do just fine - Intel normally includes a completely sufficient and quiet HSF (heat sink and fan) and the thermal “stuff” that comes with it is also more than adequate. If you find someone selling “OEM” processors, yes, they’ll be a bit cheaper, but they’ll be naked and you’ll have to buy a separate HSF, probably negating any savings.

The Intel HSF that came with the 3.0 GHz Pentium in my old Windows box is still almost completely silent, four or five years later, and never a heat problem.

The website I linked to in the OP says OEM might be risky. Specifically, it says this:

How worried should I be about getting my license terminated?

How necessary is this? I ask because I don’t have a floppy disk drive.

It’s not exactly penny pinching when the difference is $100 between a 8800GTS and a 8600GTS. I think I’m better off saving the $100 here. Should I save even more and go with a 8600 GT or stick with the 8600GTS ?

I did pitch pennies on the hard drive and went with the same thing but only with 350GB of storage. I saved $25.

You shouldn’t be worried at all. The installation will be tied to your motherboard, so installing a new mobo will likely require to call in to microsoft, but I haven’t heard of anyone having problems doing that and having their liscence validated.

Get a floppy. They are under $10 and still needed sometimes. And for enthusiast level gear firmware upgrade of the mobo when setting up your rig is a must.

At the very least I would go to the manufacturer’s website and see if the BIOS update fixes something or adds compatability to something that might affect the rest of the components you’ve chosen.

Should I even be getting Windows Vista at all? I figure since I still have a laptop with XP on it I can use that if any of my cameras or printers refuse to work with Vista.

Reading the threads on XP v Vista is giving me a headache. Some people run Vista flawlessly while others condemn it to hell. The only thing everyone can agree with is that it looks shinny, and I like shinny things, so that’s a plus.

Since I can still use my laptop with XP, I’ll go with Vista. That was a somewhat pointless rant.

Should I get the 64 bit version or the 32 bit version?

Why wouldn’t the manufacturer include this with the Mobo and why can’t I do this after I get the computer to work? Asus’s BIOS update (for the P5N-E SLI LGA 775) does seem to fix a couple of things, but I feel like I could mess this up somehow.

They have more than one download available, should I get them all?

There’s no need to go 64 bit just yet. 32 bit is still much more hardware friendly, so I’d say stick with that unless you absolutely need 64 bit for something.

There are always revisions to the firmware after the hardware has gone out to retailers. I’ve seen version 1.0 on some recently released mobos I’ve purchased only to find that the latest version is up to 12 revisions or more and many of them fix crucial things, such as vista or CPU incompatabilities.

You can, but it’s been my experience that it can save you a lot of headaches trouble shooting what could have been an installation or mobo issue. I also just like to KNOW my hardware is up to date when installing a fresh OS, peace of mind.

Most BIOS are pretty resiliant now a days. Even if your dog happenned to run by, unplugging your PC on it’s way while you were updating the BIOS, it would recover. So definitely do it. It takes all of 2 minutes.

Check the title of the download and the file name. They are probably all the same, just labeled under DOS/WINDOWS etc. Get the latest version of the file, don’t worry about the rest. Put it on the floppy and update.

Thank you **Kinthalis ** and everyone else for all your help.

For those following along, here is what I’ll probably end up buying:

**CPU - **Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 Conroe 2.66GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor

Motherboard -ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

**Video Card - **EVGA 320-P2-N815-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

**RAM - **CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
Hard Drive - **Western Digital Caviar RE WD3200YS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

**Optical Drive - **SAMSUNG Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW

**Case - **Antec Sonata III Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply

**Monitor - **Acer AL2016WBbd Black 20" 5ms DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 800:1

I’ll also get the OEM version of Windows and Arctic Silver Thermal Compound.

It is almost the same system as the OP. I took alway the sound card and I changed the RAM to DDR2 800, because it was cheaper with the rebate.

I’ll leave this up for a while to see if any doper will spot any mistakes, and then I’ll buy it.