Opinions - Specs On Moderately Priced New PC


I’m putting together a new PC that will be used for a mix of gaming (FPS - Half Life 2, Fear) and development work. I’ll be dual booting this with WinXP and Gentoo Linux.

Here’s the specs:

Antec LifeStyle SONATA II Piano Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450Watt SmartPower 2.0 ATX 12V V2.0 for AMD & Intel systems Power Supply
$99.99 Link

ASUS A8N32-SLI Deluxe Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce SPP 100 ATX AMD Motherboard
$159.99 Link

eVGA 256-P2-N615-TX GeForce 7600GT 256MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card
$129.99 Link

AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+ Toledo 2.2GHz Socket 939 Processor Model
$199.99 Link

I already have 2 gigs (512 x 4) of DDR PC2100 that I will be recycling for this project.

Couple of questions:
–>Is it worth getting a 512MB video card or is 256MB sufficient? I see that all the 512MB around my target price have a slower core clock than the 256 one above (650 vs 400). I got the video card idea from here.

–>Can some one recommend to me a cheap but good heatsink/fan for the CPU?



Mods feel free to move if this is more Cafe Society

That’s similar to my build. You’ll love the case–I’ve got the Sonata and it is both really quiet and really huge inside. Anything that has room for 9 total internal drives gets my vote. All the rest of the stuff I have is slower but similar to what you’re looking at and is probably about what I’d buy if I was looking to upgrade. I’d double-check to make sure that the motherboard PCI slot amount matches the slots available in the case (7).

I’m just using the heatsink/fan that came with the CPU. It seems to be working just fine for me.

Thanks, I didn’t think about the slot matching, good call. The mobo’s got six and the case has seven so I should be fine.

I asked because the CPU is OEM, so no heatsink or fan, just the chip.

Any troubles with the included power supply on your Sonata? Most of the compliants on Newegg were about it having a short life.

That video card is pretty standard for ‘budget’ builds right now, so you should be fine. No real need to go up to a 512 in your price range.

Since you mentioned some gaming (and particularly FPSes), I’d probably spend the extra hundred and change and get a Core 2 Duo 6600, simply because it should keep you near-current for a good while longer (not to mention it’s retail, which handles the whole heatsink/CPU fan thing)… probably leave you with no upgrade needs other than potentially a new video card out to ~3-4 years. In the same vein, I’d be a little leery of that PS just because the wattage is so low - if you decide to go to a beefier video card at any point, the 450 might not be enough. Even 550 (pretty standard, really) leaves you with a much smoother path in the future.

I would go for a 7800 video card because you want a good gaming machine. They aren’t much more and they get exceptional reviews.

Hmm…I’ve got the older Sonata with the older 380W power supply. I’ve been using it, generally about 6 hours a day, for the last 18 months. I haven’t really noticed any problems with it. I have been having occasional boot problems, but I’m not willing yet to blame that on the power supply. I don’t know if the Sonata II ships with the same design, but my power supply shipped with four special SATA-only cables that went into the power supply. I’m not sure what they’re actually good for–I have two SATA hard drives in there but I used other standard SATA cables to connect the hard drives to the motherboard and then the 4-pin connectors for the power. Also, I could never get the Fan Only cable to work for my front fan (which I had to buy seperately and is the one that keeps all four hard drives cool.) I had to connect a standard connector to the fan and so it’s not as quite as it could be, and I don’t think the smart cooling works properly as a result. To be fair, I might not have plugged the fan control into the motherboard–I’ll have to open it up and take a look sometime.

That $100 might send my wife over the edge. I’ll see what I can do, it certainly does have some nice reviews. Although I am more partial to AMD.

Are the Socket T (LGA 775) specific to DDR2 memory? Or are there mother boards that support DDR?

I made the swap, thanks.

Of course now all the 939 AMD chips I had looked at are out of stock!

Have you considered switching to an AM2 board and corresponding 4400+ chip? More upgrade options.

Maybe this board coupled with this slightly faster chip will suit your needs. Same price, if not slightly cheaper.

I was attempting to keep to a 939 board, since I already have 2 gigs DDR sitting around.

I’ll second the recommendation for going all the way to an AM2/Core 2 Duo setup, but since you already have 2 gigs of ram, it makes sense to keep using it. Socket 939 is just the end of an upgrade path. Of course, I’ve been happily using my Socket A system for quite some time, and I really have a hard time justifying an upgrade.

512 mb of video card memory won’t do you anything good in this price range.

[del]Also, I’m leery of any cheap power supply that’s bundled with a case.[/del] Scratch that. I was just about to recommend a separate Antec power supply :smack: . Anyways, 450 watts from a quality psu should be plenty, unless you have some monstrous array of hard drives that you didn’t mention.