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 Post subject: System building: component recommendations
 Post Posted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:00 pm 
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EDIT: for more up-to-date suggestions and links, see my post here: viewtopic.php?t=296

You'll find some of my recommendations for building a system in a feature
article I wrote titled "Step-By-Step - To Get Just the PC You Want, Build It
Yourself", which originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of PC World
magazine:

http://www.find.pcworld.com/53568

Since that article was printed, I have some newer recommendations as well as a
few tips. You can use these recommendations to build the most powerful and
reliable system that will fit within your budget.

MOTHERBOARD:

For motherboards I currently recommend:

Intel DG965WH (ATX form factor)
http://developer.intel.com/products/mot ... /index.htm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813121053

Intel DG965OT (microATX form factor)
http://developer.intel.com/products/mot ... /index.htm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6813121080

These boards are identical except for the form factor and number of slots:

Code:
 Motherboard      DG965WH  DG965OT
 ----------------------------------
 Form Factor      ATX      microATX
 PCIe x16 Slots   1        1
 PCIe x1 Slots    3        1
 PCI Slots        3        2

Both of these motherboards feature integrated video, integrated high
definition audio, *six* 3Gbps SATA ports with integrated RAID and NCQ (Native
Command Queuing) support, ten USB 2.0 ports, two 1394a (FireWire) ports,
integrated gigabit Ethernet, plus a PCIe x16 slot if you want to install a
video card.

VIDEO CARD:

These motherboards use the Intel G965 express chipset:

http://developer.intel.com/products/chi ... /index.htm

The G965 includes decent integrated video and supports a PCIe x16 slot for an
optional video card as well. The GMA X3000 video built-in to the G965 chipset
is fairly good as far as built-in video goes, for example it has full support
for "Vista Premium", meaning the full Aero Glass interface:

http://developer.intel.com/products/chi ... ma3000.pdf

For anything but a gaming system I'd start off using the integrated video, and
consider adding a video card later. If you want to build a high-powered gaming
system from the start, then I recommend installing a video card based on the
NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GPU:

http://tinyurl.com/3xbv8n

PROCESSOR:

For the Processor I'd recommend the fastest Core 2 Duo processor that fits
your budget:

http://developer.intel.com/products/pro ... /index.htm
http://tinyurl.com/26axek

I'd probably go with the E6300 as the minimum due to the E4300 lacking VT
(Virtualization Technology) support. VT is supported by the latest (free)
version of Virtual PC 2007, and makes a dramatic difference in how fast it
runs: http://www.microsoft.com/virtualpc

If none of those fit your budget, then choose the fastest Pentium D processor
that does:

http://tinyurl.com/yday6p

MEMORY:

The G965 chipset supports DDR2 memory at 533MHz (PC2-4200), 667MHz (PC2-5300),
and 800MHz (PC2-6400) speeds. For maximum performance I recommend 1GB through
4GB of DDR2-800 (PC2-6400) memory in matched pairs for dual-channel operation:

2GB kit: http://tinyurl.com/o7a8u
1GB kit: http://tinyurl.com/lgvet

For lower cost systems you might consider using slower 533MHz memory, since
there is only a very small performance benefit to installing the faster 667MHz
or 800MHz memory:

http://tinyurl.com/28kz4x

As a fringe benefit, the power consumption of 533MHz memory is as little as
half that of faster 667MHz or 800MHz memory:

http://download.micron.com/pdf/datashee ... 28x64A.pdf

With that in mind I'd recommend 1GB or 2GB of DDR2 533MHz or 667MHz memory,
using two 512MB or 1GB PC2-4200 or PC2-5300 modules to enable dual-channel
mode. If you wanted to save more money you could go with 1GB (two 512MB
modules) instead. You could also install only a single module, which might
save even more power, however this will cause the system to cut memory
bandwidth in half by running in single-channel mode.

For maximum value you should install only up to 3GB of RAM if you are running
a 32-bit operating system. That is because if you install 4GB (or more) of RAM
you will only be able to use from 3.24GB to 3.5GB maximum when running a
32-bit OS. For a detailed explanation see my post about the 4GB limit here:

viewtopic.php?p=66#66

The exact limit in this case will depend on whether you use the integrated
video or you install a PCIe video card instead. When using the integrated
video the maximum amount of RAM available will be 3.24GB, however when
installing a card the amount will vary depending on the design and
capabilities of the card, up to 3.5GB max.

CHASSIS/CASE:

For full-size ATX systems I still recommend the Foxconn TP544 chassis shown
in the PCWorld article. For systems using a microATX motherboard I also
recommend the smaller but otherwise similar microATX TV544 chassis.

TP544
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000046

TV544
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000049

Both of these are normally available from NewEgg in either silver or black models:

http://tinyurl.com/2q925w

If NewEgg doesn't have them, you can purchase the TV544 chassis from several
other sources such as:

DealSonic:
http://www.dealsonic.com/catpsc35p4us.html

Vegas Micro:
http://mancompr.finestshops.com/store/c ... ctid=60250

Comprella:
http://www.comprella.com/shop/rateprodu ... 1&rating=5

eWiz:
https://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=CA-TP-544

Foxconn chassis used to be sold under the Casedge brand name, so it can help
to search for that name as well. Note that Foxconn makes several variations of
the full sized TP series (ATX/microATX) and smaller TV series (microATX only)
chassis with slightly different front covers (all internal features are the
same) under the following part numbers:

TP538
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000045

TP544
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000046

TP230
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000047

TV538
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000048

TV544
http://www.foxconnchannel.com/Product/c ... -us0000049

All of these TP and TV series chassis have the same internal features, and
come equally recommended by me. Of course there are many other chassis to
choose from, but currently I don't know of any others that have the total
combination of features, quality, price and performance of these particular
Foxconn models.

You can also see the TP-544 featured in detail on the DVD included with my book, as well as much more information on chassis designs and cooling in general:

Upgrading and Repairing PCs, 17th Edition (Book and 2-hour DVD)
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789734044

Scott.


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