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PC Buying help.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Nocontact, Sep 6, 2002.

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  1. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

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    I know some basics about PCs, I have some idea of what I am looking for in terms of CPU speed, memory etc. but when it comes to motherboards, is a network card the same as an ethernet card, chipsets and types of RAM I start to panic. I was wondering if anyone knows of any sites where I could research what's what, in simple terms. What is best and what to be looking out for, I must admit I'm afraid of getting ripped off or stuck with components that don't work properly together.
    I've tried a few searches but haven't found anything that really helps.
    Here are two examples of what I'm looking at and why I'm confused.

    Intel P4-1.6 CPU, 128 MB PC2100 DDR
    AOPEN MX46 MB, 30 GB 7200 RPM HDD
    52X CD_ROM, 1.44 Floppy Drive
    32M AGP Video Card (Shared)
    32 Bit Sound Card
    10/100 Network Card
    ATX Mid Tower With P4 Power Supply


    AMD XP 1700+ CPU, 256 MB PC 133 SDRAM
    ECS K7S5A MB, 30 GB 7200 RPM HDD
    LG 8X DVD/ CD-RW Combo
    1.44 Floppy
    RIVA TNT2 32 MB AGP Video Card
    32 Bit Sound Card
    10/100 Network Card
    ATX Midtower With 300W Power Supply


    These two systems are in my budget but because I don't know that much about PCs I'm not sure the price isn't an indication that I'm about to get ripped off. Thanks for the help.
     
  2. Linkmaster

    Linkmaster

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2001
    Messages:
    2,872
    Hi Nocontact,
    Everybody will have an opinion but I bought mine at ibuypower.com about 3 months ago. Very pleased and it runs great. Here are my specs (the price was very reasonable):
    AK77-333 AOpen Motherboard
    Athlon XP 1800 CPU
    512 mb pc2700 ddr-333 ram
    60gb 7200 hard drive
    Acer 56x cdrom
    Just Link 32x12x48 RW
    nvidia tnt 32mb video card
    3com 905 tx network card
    floppy
    keyboard
    4 usb 2.0 & 4 usb 1.1 ports
    Motherboard upgradeable to 3gb memory
    No operating system
    Total including shipping: 800$
     
  3. mad-martin

    mad-martin

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2002
    Messages:
    1,309
    Ever thought about building your own? It's not as hard as it seems, but you have to do your homework before you start.
    The satisfaction of building yourself and saving (lots) of money is well worth while
    http://www.pricewatch.com is a nice place to look around for parts and even complete systems, too bad most suppliers dont ship outside the US
     
  4. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    I must admit some of these sites seem to have great deals. But I wish I knew some more about what these specs mean. I guess this board may be a bit advanced for me because you guys really seem to know what you're talking about, details and all.
     
  5. TypeSK

    TypeSK

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2002
    Messages:
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    what specs are you looking for?

    im in process of building mine too, just putting it on hold waiting for some releases (chipset, video card, and RAM)....

    a suggestion off the start:
    dont buy cheap ram.... go with name brand ... kingston, samsung, crucial ...

    also, when buying the board, look for what ram it supports ... since your not getting latest of everything, look for a board that supports DDR as the mobo that supports and of those 2 processors, wont require much high end ram...and because of that, DDR performs on par with RD Ram .... (as of now, RDRam outperforms DDR Ram). DDR ram is much much cheaper (per stick its cheaper, and with RDRam, you have to buy at least 2 sticks, since its dual channel RAM)

    as for your questions:

    ethernet is basically the same as LAN ....

    DDR=double data rate RAM ... more economic solution for those with cash concerns, yet almost performs as fast as RD. as of now, DDR is only single channel ram, (while RD is dual channel, which is why RD is faster right now).
    RD=rambus. fastest of the ram when used in higher end processors. works very good with intel as the intel processors tend to be bandwidth heavy. but is dual channel, meaning you have to get at least 2 sticks to make it work ... but its also faster ... and its very expensive (almost double the price).
     
  6. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    I guess what I'm looking for is a fast internet machine, one that can download media quickly, play it cleanly and store a decent amount of stuff. I'm not too worried about gaming or DVD's as I mostly play console games and have a stand-alone DVD player. I want to be able to cut my internet time down by reducing load times, page accessing times and download times. I don't want my computer to freeze up when some graphics heavy sites pop-up. I want to be able to burn CD's, and be able to transfer and store relatively large files (30-50 Megs) easily and quickly. And if I do eventually get into PC gaming I would certainly like the ability to upgrade my graphics card. Also once DVD-RW becomes more affordable that too.
    So basically I'm looking for a fast, stable internet machine that will allow me to use the internet and everything that it can offer more thoroughly and efficiently. And I don't know how much watching downloaded movies is affected by the graphics card so that may be an issue. Also I already have a fine monitor and speakers too. I don't know if WinXP is necessary either as I run Win 98 second Edition which I suppose is fine for now. Hope this clarifies what I'm looking for.
    Thanks again for all the replies.
     
  7. TypeSK

    TypeSK

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    if gaming is your thing, or you think you might want to get into it, its something you wanna think about before hand ... gaming machines differ from the rest as typically, gaming machines should be fast, and more towards the latest of everything .....

    but since you seem more internet oriented, 1.6Ghz would do .... maybe even the athlon would do as the athlon would probably outperform the intel (P 1.6Ghz as compared to Athlon 1600) ....

    as far as the chipsets, its something you wanna keep an eye out for ... every chipset will support different things ....

    for good prices, check out www.newegg.com or www.googlegear.com they have good prices along with good selection ...

    as for windows OS, id go win2k ... pretty stable without the activation crap of XP ... win98SE would prob do fine

    as for graphics, make sure your mobo supports 4x...that should be able to allow you to get any graphics cards out there, with the exception of the ATi Radeon9700Pro, and the new nVidia NV30 coming out soon .....

    as for getting parts for ya, i dont know too much.....i know more about the newer end processors from the intel p4 1.8a to present and which processors and chipsets and mobo to suggest....i think 1.6 is prob using the same socket and thus can be supported by same mobo's, but not too sure ....

    if you were overclocking the system, i would suggest 1.8a or the 2.2a or even the 2.4a .... but from the sound of it, i dont think that will be the chance

    but if you have any specific question, feel free to ask ....
     
  8. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

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    Questions:
    Is AMD XP, an Athlon processor?
    What type of chipsets will support the things that I am looking for? (Internet, media)
    When you say the motherboard should "support 4x" what exactly does that mean?

    How does a setup like this sound:

    Intel P4-1.6 CPU, 128 MB PC2100 DDR
    AOPEN MX46 MB, 30 GB 7200 RPM HDD
    52X CD_ROM, 1.44 Floppy Drive
    32M AGP Video Card (Shared)
    32 Bit Sound Card
    10/100 Network Card
    ATX Mid Tower With P4 Power Supply

    What does the PC2100 mean when it's written after the 128 MB in the first line?
    Of course I would upgrade to a CD-RW too.
    Is having a shared video card a big deal for me if I don't want to do much gaming?
    Thanks.
     
  9. TypeSK

    TypeSK

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2002
    Messages:
    676
    answer ur questions in order that you asked:

    yes, the AMD Athlon XP is a processor, just like the intel pentium ...

    any chipset will do internet, etc etc ... the part that you need to worry about, is if the chipsets support the processor... chipsets will either support the intel, or the AMD,... never both .... but when you search for motherboards, youll be looking for "mobo supports the P4 1.6Ghz" ... itll already have the chipset that it needs to support the processor .... (maybe over the weekend ill do some research and come up with a computer for ya) ....chipsets can matter....if you go with an intel processor, my suggestion (since i dont know too much about the mobo's and 1.6ghz processor), id look for a mobo with the intel chipset .... as with athlon, go with a VIA chipset ...

    motherboard supprting 4x. that is your graphics card. AGP4x ...4x is the speed ... your mobo should tell you if it supports AGP4x (or also known as AGP2.0) ..... its like your CDRom is 40x .. same thing, but for the video card

    your setup .... its allright...but i suggest going with a western digital, maxtor, seagate, or IBM hard drives... i personally go with western digital myself .... if you go to www.pricewatch.com .. youll find plenty of western digital hard drives for sale at cheap...but make sure its 7200RPM!!!

    the PC2100 is the memory speed (otherwise known as DDR266). PC2700 is DDR 333 and PC3200 is DDR400. depending if you go athlon, or intel. if you go athlon. dont get anything more than 2700. if you go intel, definately go with at least 2700. while you wont find any boards that officially have DDR400 (PC3200), i dont think it will be a problem as you wont be getting the newest P4 2.53/2.6/28 Ghz processors .. so just go with PC2700 if you go intel.

    CDRW thats not that hard to figure out. maybe go with a 20xCDR/12xCDRW/48xCDRom .....

    shared video card? what do you mean? you cant have 2 video cards running at the same time, if thats what your asking .... if the mobo comes with onboard video, youll either have to use it, or disable it and then install the new video card ... but you cant "share" video cards
     
  10. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

    Joined:
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    Those were really helpful answers. Cleared up a lot. Hope you don't mind a few follow-ups.

    If they are putting the Aopen MX46 motherboard with the P4 CPU (it's a bundled system but I can change a few things for a price) does that mean it supports Pentium CPU's like you mentioned it should?

    Do you know where I can find info, reviews, specs etc. for motherboards?

    If it just says 30 GB 720RPM HDD does that mean that it could be any brand or because the Motherboard is AOPEN the HDD will be too?

    I was going to upgrade to 256 MB DDR Ram. What should the memory speed be? (PC 2700?)

    The video card thing just meant onboard with the motherboard. You were right about that one.

    Is 24X10X40 CD-RW Ok? It's not a huge deal for me, not worth spending that much for.

    By the way this whole setup would be right at the 700$ mark.
     
  11. Davey7549

    Davey7549

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2001
    Messages:
    11,584
    Nocontact
    Here is some of the answers for you:
    Data Stats on MX46 Motherboard
    http://english.aopen.com.tw/products/mb/mx46.htm

    Supports the following processors:
    Socket 478 Pentium 4 (Northwood) 0.13u/ 1.5V/ 512KB/ 400
    2.4GHz
    2.2GHz
    2.0AGHz
    1.8AGHz
    1.6AGHz
    Socket 478 Pentium 4 (Willamette) 0.18u/ 1.75V/ 256KB
    2.0GHz
    1.9GHz
    1.8GHz
    1.7GHz
    1.6GHz
    1.5GHz
    Socket 478 Celeron 0.18u/ 1.75V/ 128KB
    1.8GHz
    1.7GHz

    The particuliar Harddrive manufacturer is not defined in the stats you presented but AOpen does not manufacture hard drives.

    Ram type straight from Stat sheet:
    Max. Main Memory: Max. 2GB DDR266 SDRAM for 184pin DDR DIMM*2
    DIMM Type: 64/128/256/512MB/1GB


    Dave
     
  12. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

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    So Davey, what I got from your post is that this MB DOES support the P4 1.6.
    And that it can be upgraded in the future up to 2 GB of Ram, is that right?
    What do you think of the Pentium setup that I've posted?
    Mind you, I'm going to upgrade to 256 MB of DDR Ram and a CD-RW and I guess if it's not cost prohibitive a name brand HD, Maxtor W.D., IBM (it may only be 20 GB but that's enough for me).
     
  13. Davey7549

    Davey7549

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    The AX46 will support up to a 2.4GHz processor and up to 2GB of Ram which is pretty standard for P4 socket 478 motherboards. However remember you have limitations of what Win9x systems will run without trouble and that is 512MB of RAM. Also since you have 4 slots I believe you would have to own four 512MB modules to achieve 2GB of RAM. What would you do with the two 256MB modules you are purchasing? Paperweights?
    I prefer Maxtor Harddrives because I heard some problems with IBM. Western are also a good choice. As far as 20GB I would run with no less than 30GB because you will fill a 20 quite fast. Another option would be to add a second hard drive later though.

    Now you originally said you wanted to increase your Internet access speed? Are you running broadband or do you have a dialup? If it is a dialup you will gain little by getting a new faster machine mainly for internet because you are confined to the speed of the dialup for downloading and streaming.

    Dave
     
  14. Nocontact

    Nocontact Thread Starter

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    I'm looking to improve my internet use by buying a whole new PC. The one I'm using is ancient (P100, 48 MB RAM, 1 GB) and if I want high speed internet (which I do) it's necessary. So I figured if I'm going to buy one for this use I don't need the top of the line but I would like to get a decent one that can be upgraded and will last me for a while. This seems like it will do.
    Now I'm not really concerned about the 2 GB of Ram, I was just curious if I was reading that right. But is a 512 upgrade in the future at least realistic?
    Also I'm a little confused by when you said "However remember you have limitations of what Win9x systems will run without trouble and that is 512MB of RAM."

    Thanks for the tip about the IBM, the Maxtor and W.D are the same price range so I'll stick with those.
     
  15. Davey7549

    Davey7549

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    There are issues with how Win9x systems handle Vcache over 800MB which is something that is difficult to explain. However here is a MSKB article that address the 512MB limitation.
    http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=KB;EN-US;Q253912&

    If memory serves me right I also think there is an Asyn problem to.

    Dave
     
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