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Mac user assembling super-machine. Need inputs.

by tleMega / September 9, 2007 2:33 AM PDT

Okay. I'm a huge Mac user, and I tend to favor OS X over Windows.

I still use PCs, but my need for powerful machines has become increasingly high. I'm running an old HP as my PC, but at 500Mhz on a Pentium III processor, I really want to scrap it.

I found some really good components over at Amazon, and though they aren't exactly a major PC component shop, they offer quite a bit at some good prices for me.

I intend to build two quad-core desktops for myself and for a friend. Some components I am not to sure about and require some opinions. Also, if the parts aren't worth the prices that I may list, suggestions would be great.

Specs and Issues include:
2.4Ghz Intel Core 2 Quad Core Q6600 with 8MB L2 Cache and a 1066Mhz bus- $290

Intel DQ965GF Intel Core 2 Duo Ready Socket 775 MicroATX Motherboard (doesn't say, but it supports quad-core according to feedback posts and Intel product site)- $116

Case- I haven't decided on a case, but I'm leaning towards a ThermalTake or an Ultra case. I need something that opens up, preferably translucent side, and latched, not screwed on. Here's the link to what I was sifting through, but I believe I may just look somewhere else for a case. Recommendations would be nice.

HD- I really like SeaGate drives, and I feel that I should put their internal drives into this machine. I'll looking at 2-3 of either a 500GB or 750GB HD. I'm going to need a lot of storage, and I haven't decided between SATA or ATA. I'm going to get these from CC, because they have locations near me and they have better deals. For 500GB, I may pay- approx. $250 for 2 HDs

Graphics- I'm looking at Nvidia cards, but it'd be interesting to do what HP did with the Nvidia board and the ATI cards in the new Blackbird for dual compatibility. Need inputs on this one too.

DDR2 Memory- No idea on what brand is the best. I want about 4GB for a good price and great quality. Memory is not my strong point.

Sound Card- I may get a Creative card, but I do not know which is best.

Other- I need to decide what power supply I need, what fans I need, if 120mm fans come with the cases I've looked at, and if I'm missing anything.

Help much appreciated. If anyone has recommendations on good components for this type of machine, please post. I'm not too much of a desktop person. Thanks.


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(NT) Anyone, assistance much appreciated.
by tleMega / September 9, 2007 4:32 AM PDT
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Today? SATA.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2007 4:41 AM PDT

While some may stub their virtual toes trying to install Windows on SATA drives the procedure is well documented (so well I don't tell how here.)

Also I find the 500GB SATA drives for 99 or less bucks to be quite the bargains at newegg or geeks.

You didn't tell much about the application but for the video card I'd pick one from this list ->

I'd avoid a 4GB setup. Unless you are running Linux it's something of a bummer the issues that 4GB causes in the versions of Windows that we use. 2GB will do just fine thank you. Again I may not write at length about this since the screams are heard quite well if you research this.

As to the sound card, nothing about your applications so try the onboard sound.


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The computer
by tleMega / September 9, 2007 4:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Today? SATA.

will be used for high-end gaming, entertainment, video and graphics editing and production, and collaborations with my Macs.

2GB is substantial, but the board I'll use can support 8GB, so I figured that 4GB would just bring further power to the table. I can make good use of it, but I'll try for three perhaps. At least on a Mac, I can use it all.

I'd prefer to have an additional sound card just to give it a boost.

Listing apps and etc. for it are somewhat useless at this point because for now, I only know what I will do with it. I know it will see heavy use for EVERYTHING entertainment related. Recording, editing, producing, etc. Everything.

If you could just point in the direction of some of the best stuff to use, I'd appreciate it.
Thanks Bob.

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See that brick wall looming?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2007 5:05 AM PDT
In reply to: The computer

Sorry but I feel you are going to head right for it.

What more can I do other than warn you about the 4GB issue? And while you may write you'll load XP or Vista 64 bit that is again steering right for the brick wall.

Unsure if I can save you here.


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No, I just feel that RAM is important
by tleMega / September 9, 2007 5:09 AM PDT

but if you advise to just use 2GB, I'll settl for 2GB.
I still need to figure out if I need one 2GB stick or two 1GB sticks. And the brand.

But am I missing any other components?

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Big power.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / September 9, 2007 5:14 AM PDT

You didn't list a power supply but I always go big. You didn't list the OS so that's why I wrote about RAM.

Here's a test we did years ago to show how RAM helped rendering a DVD.

We had identical machines and one had 512MB, the other had 1GB. We ran the test on each, swapped RAM and re-ran the test.

The test took about 6 hours but the machine with 1GB consistently finished 5 minutes sooner. This pretty much put the myth that XP on 2GB would be faster for this work to rest.


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by ramarc / September 9, 2007 11:10 AM PDT

just to certain, this will be a windows machine (not an os-x). os-x is not licensed for oem/self builds.

use and (and their component prices can't be matched by amazon (which is really an amalgamation of dealers). newegg's interface is the best, but price check them against the other sites since newegg's shipping costs can sometimes affect the total price.

motherboard: replace the intel p965 based motherboard with an asus or gigabyte p35 based motherboard. they will ensure compatiblity with penryn processors and the 1333mhz core2duo lineup. (the q6600 is 1066mhz but why limit your upgrade options?) intel motherboards are feature rich but non-tweakable so you'll get more flexibility from another manufacturer.

case: cases are matter of preference but take a look at the coolermaster "centurion" and "mystique" lines. good looking and reasonably priced.

hard drives: seagate's big hard drives (500gb+) are due for a refresh and are not as fast as the new lines from hitachi and western digital.

video card: the geforce 8800gtx is the fastest video card available. ati's radeon hd2900xt only competes with the geforce 8800gts/640 (and even then loses out in most dx-10 titles at high resolution (22"+ widescreen) with 4x/AA).

ram: if you go with a p35 based mobo, you can opt for ddr2-1066. imho, the best brands for high performance are corsair, ocz, and mushkin. corsair xms and ocz gold/platinum are quite fast and reasonably priced.

sound: if you're going creative, an x-fi gamer gives the same performance and features as the higher end cards. it all depends on if you want the x-ram (only supported by a handful of games) or extra breakout boxes for additional inputs/outputs.

quad core: consider a 3rd party heat pipe cooler for your q6600 or you may be dissatisfied with the noise of the stock intel heatsink/fan.

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Micro ATX motherboard?
by Biju0011 / September 10, 2007 3:30 PM PDT

Hey, first of all i'd suggest u go with a ATX size motherboard, since i presume you will be using an ATX case, as for component prices i'd suggest u check because the prices u listed for the components you want are more expensive on amazon + newegg support is better and they have lower prices (i've shopped on both) as for grafix card i'd suggest u go with a 8800gts 640mb or an Ati HD 2900, later one has some drivers limitations, but it should get better on newer ones.
Good luck

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Just buy one.
by fbbbb / September 11, 2007 6:06 AM PDT

I mean, you own a Mac and as such you're experiencing what you get with a fully built PC.

One reason why I say this is that I see a lot of switcher stories about "my old PC which I custom built kept crashing" etc and I sit there going "well of course not if you can't build one properly".

And I would say extend your Mac experience to a PC. Get a decent one appropriate for the performance you're looking for. And like a Mac, don't cheap out - and you'll enjoy superior stability to an OS X platform right now.

Just my 2c.

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by tleMega / September 13, 2007 2:02 AM PDT
In reply to: Just buy one.

for everyone's ideas. Buying one does sound reasonable, but I have found that you can get better deals when you buy better parts and do it yourself.

As much as I love Macs, the Mac Pro is not exactly priced too well for the components I would add into it. I could look for some older ones around eBay, LOL, or maybe even a dual-G5.

I'm not making the switch. I love my Macs. I just need a Windows counterpart machine to work with for most of the stuff that doesn't run on OS X. I'm not comfortable with running Boot Camp or Parallels on a laptop, and my desktop is an older G4, so running both on one machine is not going to work for me.

I'll look at newegg and see what I can get.

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I didn't say get a Mac.
by fbbbb / September 13, 2007 4:23 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks

Perhaps I wasn't fully clear. What I said was to get a fully built PC, since you already own a Mac on which you are already familiar with the benefits of a fully built machine.

One of the main reasons for an unstable PC is one that you built yourself, no matter if you think you can build PCs - it's true anyone can throw the parts together and build a PC that works, but it's a subtly different requirement when building a heavily stressed machine which is expected to run reliably.

I was obliquely referring to the ignorance of the Switcher zealots who say things like "the superduper custom PC I built always crashed but now my Mac runs great" - who're effectively attributing their positive experiences down to the the difference between a fully built PC and one which was built by someone who doesn't know what they're doing.

I'm not saying you're necessarily incapable of building a reliable PC - but generally speaking, I think that if you have to ask in the way you did, you're probably not going to get it right the first time.

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I know you didn't say to
by tleMega / September 17, 2007 10:01 AM PDT

buy another Mac. I was just referring to it because that's where I'd wind up anyway.

I'm still looking into some stuff, but right now, I'm looking at factory built PCs, like that of HP.

I could get right the first time, just because the people who could get me the parts for good prices and are specialized in PCs know what to do as well. I asked the way I did because I was unsure about some brands and needed some specific answers to my questions. They are now all solved. I thank you guys for the help, so I know exactly what I need.


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