: My Proposed $1,686 Computer - Finally Purchased!
Well it's Christmas and Santa is putting something under the tree for me.
The following is priced at $1,686. I'd be curious what folks think before I pull the trigger.
ASUS INTEL 975X 3PCI/2PCI-E X16/2PCI-E X1 D.GB LAN(P5W DH DELUXE) - $268
INTEL Conroe E6600 2.4GHz FSB1066MHz 4MB LGA775 Dual-Core - $367.00
OCZ 2 x 1GB PC2-5400 Gold GX XTC Dual Channel - $235
BFG nVidia GeForce 7900GS 256MB DDR3 420MHz 2 Dual-link DVI-I HDTV VGA - $228
Two Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm 16MB Bulk(WD3200KS) - 2 x $111.00 = $222.00
Pioneer DVR-111D 16x8x8x6 ATAPI 2MB 130ms Dual Layer Black bare drive (DVR-111D) - $39.00
Antec Sonata II Piano Black Quiet Super Mini Tower w/ SmartPower 2.0 450W - $114.00
Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 w/SP2b - W/Vista Upgrade Coupon - $143
I know I could save with AMD CPU but the extra cost of Conroe seems like a good idea.
Motherboard may be overkill so maybe save some money there.
I'm also looking at a cheaper 7600GT video card since I think it would be more than sufficient for my needs. (this could save me $50 or $60)
Not sure about the memory and optical drive.
Thanks in advance
2006-12-07, 08:57 AM
I'll be the first to ask, what's it going to be used for?
This will be used to feed music to my Wireless Music Bridge, I want to add an HD DVD disc in the future for possible HD playback, everyday computing, sync with an iPod, playing Age of Empires III on a 1680 x 1050 monitor'.
This will become my "main computer"
Your proposed machine is very similar to the one I bought last month: same CPU, same case, but different motherboard and video card.
I went with the ASUS P5B motherboard (which is based on the 965 chipset), but the P5W is certainly a good choice. Another option is the P5B Deluxe, which has the ICH8R southbridge.
I've been very impressed with the E6600--I have a 3.0Ghz dual core Pentium D at work, and one performance test I did (a .NET batch program) ran nearly twice as fast on the Conroe.
I like the Sonata II as well, but a few pointers: first, the case includes some internal ductwork that's supposed to optimize airflow. Ditch it--it probably won't fit over the CPU cooler anyway, and I've never heard anyone say anything positive about it. It's definitely not required.
Second, the 120mm case fan at the back has a switch to adjust the speed (low, medium and high). Unfortunately, this switch can only be accessed by opening the case. I would recommend turning the speed to low, as the E6600 runs so cool you just don't need the added fan speed. Also, note that under normal operating conditions the power supply fan does not turn--it only comes on when required (I've heard of people returning their cases thinking that the power supply was broken).
Finally, the front blue LED's are bright--very bright. However, if they're too much for you, they can be easily disconnected.
One thing I did was to purchase a third-party CPU cooler, the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro (LGA775). The stock Intel cooler is OK, but it's not very quiet and it's not a great choice if you ever want to overclock. Speaking of which, if you think you want to try overclocking, I would recommend DDR2-800 memory (PC6400). The E6600 is very good in this regard--3.0 or 3.2Ghz is very easily attainable. I ended up going with Corsair XMS2 PC6400 memory (2x1GB).
For video, I did go with the 7600GT. I'm not a big gamer, so I don't need the latest and greatest. If I ever need more graphics performance, it's an easy upgrade.
I don't see anything wrong with the optical drive--I purchased a Samsung SH-S162L Lightscribe drive, and it works for me.
I've been very happy with my purchase. As I said, the E6600 is very fast, and is very power efficient. Using a watt meter, the machine uses just 80W at idle (that excludes the monitor and other peripherals).
Hope that helps!
2006-12-07, 09:30 AM
If you are thinking of HD-DVD playback you'll need an HDCP compliant video card. By compliant I mean includes the crypto key ROMs.
2006-12-07, 09:56 AM
I would recommend turning the speed to low, as the E6600 runs so cool you just don't need the added fan speed. Hugh - good choices - I just built a very similar system. Buying a system with XP MCE seems like an arbitrage as it costs about $129 and gives a free upgrade to Vista Home Premium which will cost more than $129 - I have heard that it may cost $199. And if you image your drive before upgrading to Vista you can always rollback if you are problems with Vista - a lower risk proposition than waiting until January to buy your system and finding out that Vista doesn't work for you as certain drivers are unstable!
I recently built a similar system for an HTPC - I have an E6600 CPU and an Asus P5B-E mobo in a Silverstone Lascala LC-10 case. Maybe the CPU heatsink isn't seated properly but my CPU seems to run kind of hot - from about 45-55 and I haven't really pushed it yet by doing stuff like video reencoding - I have just been using it to watch and record TV, including HDTV. I have ordered a replacement CPU heatsink/fan - A thermalright 120 Ultra and Nexus fan from NCIX.
This system generally runs hotter than my older system which has a space heater for a CPU - a 3.2GHz P4. My home office currently has both of these computers and is the warmest room in the house.
Unfortunately the mobo monitoring software that comes with your mobo, PC Probe II, doesn't seem to have a history function so that you can monitor what temp your CPU has been running at for the last few days/weeks - It will only show the current temp. This was one of the best features on the original PC Probe and it seems kind of illogical that they didn't include it in version II of the software.
Great feedback and thanks!
GDX, I think I'll take your advice on MOBO's since the price is cheaper and appears to give me everything I want. I will upgrade the fan. As far as memory, I'll check the prices but I doubt I would overclock.
Graphics wise, I'm still undecided but tending to 7600GT since I think it will probably be more than sufficient for my purposes.
2006-12-07, 10:23 AM
Graphics wise, I'm still undecided but tending to 7600GT since I think it will probably be more than sufficient for my purposes.One other option is that you can get a passive Asus 7600GS w 512 MB for about $150. The downside is that it has a large heatsink and might block an adjacent expansion slot and it may mean you need more fannage to move the heat away from the heatsink. The upside is that it is much quieter.
Speaking of slots - I believe your mobo has several PCI-E x1 slots - the tiny slots and only a couple regular PCI slots. The only problem with these slots is that it seems that there are very few cards available in this format right now.
I recently built a similar system for an HTPC - I have an E6600 CPU and an Asus P5B-E mobo in a Silverstone Lascala LC-10 case. Maybe the CPU heatsink isn't seated properly but my CPU seems to run kind of hot - from about 45-55 and I haven't really pushed it yet by doing stuff like video reencoding
That does seem high. I've been using the SpeedFan utility on my E6600 to monitor and control the CPU fan speed, and it generally reports an idle temperature between 35C and 40C. If I run something computationally intensive it will jump up to the mid-40's, but that's about it. Granted, I haven't tested with a full-blown CPU burn utility, but I have tried SuperPi.
It's also possible that PCProbe II is the problem. I vaguely recall reading about it being inaccurate, so I tried SpeedFan instead. It's not the best program around, but it works, and it will plot the last 15 minutes of temperature history (CPU, mobo, and hard drive). Of course, it's entirely possible SpeedFan is incorrect, but the CPU cooler feels barely warm to the touch.
Nice case, by the way--the Lascala makes for a great-looking HTPC setup.
2006-12-07, 11:31 AM
...I'm also looking at a cheaper 7600GT video card since I think it would be more than sufficient for my needs...That's what I'd do.
I have no gaming experience, but I think it should be good enough for most of them.
And forget about HDCP ROM for now. Wait for the next generation video cards to show up
that have the crypto ROM in the video chip (NVidia announced), support HDMI v. 1.3 and do HDCP on both DVI and HDMI connectors.
2006-12-07, 11:58 AM
I agree with Diogen's comments.
Hugh, whether you get HDCP right now depends on how bleeding edge you want to be for HD-DVD or BluRay playback from your HTPC.
I suspect a few of the HTPC regulars here have been following the bleeding edge tales on the AVS forums and it's pretty clear to me that it's not nearly ready for prime time yet. I have been planning all along to not upgrade the HTPC until sometime later next year when both the S/W and H/W story has had a chance to stabilize and come down in price.
2006-12-07, 12:35 PM
I suspect (hope?) that when the hidef PC drives go mainstream, they might be sold in bundles:
Drive+Software Player+Video Card (just like e-SATA external drives today or SCSI peripherals in the past).
I'd interested when this bundle gets below $250, or parts can be bought separately for the same amount.
2006-12-07, 12:42 PM
Hard to say what's going to happen with pricing right now. I fully suspect that a lot of Xbox360 HD-DVD drives are going to end up being cannibalized for HTPCs.
I've pretty much decided I'll be getting one in the new year (no HD-DVD until 2007 still holding firm!) and using the 360 for playback in the short term.
My only concern is that it will take a while for my preferred media player (TheaterTek) to come out with HD-DVD support. WinDVD and PowerDVD are just POSs from an interface perspective so I don't expect I'll like them anymore for HD playback.
2006-12-07, 12:43 PM
Two Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm 16MB Bulk(WD3200KS) - 2 x $111.00 = $222.00
Sounds like a good system
Are you going to put the 2 hard drives in raid?
Have you thought about going with a high speed 10,000rpm drive for your C drive for windows and applications and a large drive like your western digital for your data?
It could give you a decent speed boost
talljak, I currently mirror my primary drive and probably will with the new system also.
The 10K rpm is an interesting idea though.
2006-12-07, 02:25 PM
Wow that system is very similar to mine that was recently ordered. Here it is for reference.
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Dual Core Processor LGA775 Conroe 2.13GHZ 1066FSB 2MB Retail *Limit 1 / Cust* 1 $279.99 $279.99
20621 ASUS P5NSLI ATX LGA775 Conroe Nforce 570 SLI DDR2 2PCI-E16 3PCI-E 2PCI SATA RAID LAN Motherboard $129.60
15422 Antec Sonata II Black ATX 16IN Mid Tower Quiet Case 3X5.25 2X3.5 4X3.5IN 450W Air Duct 120MM Fan $109.95
18495 OCZ Gold XTC PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-12 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit
18409 Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB SATA2 3GB/S 7200RPM 16MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive
20094 Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 with SP2 OEM English Single Pack $140.60
Shipping & Handling: $80.56
Shipping Insurance: $15.70
HST (14%): $160.00
My video card of choice was:
EVGA E-GEFORCE 7900 GTO 650MHZ PCI-E 512MB 256BIT 1.32GHZ GDDR3 Dual DVI-I HDTV Out Video Card 1 $299.99
Had a $30.00 rebate on it at that time.
2006-12-07, 02:57 PM
Looks like a good system. I would go with a BenQ DW1655 16x DVD±RW. If you don't mind spending the extra money, a Plextor PX-760A 18x DVD±RW would be better.
I wouldn't skimp too much on the motherboard, it's cheaper than buying cards for ports, etc that are missing on cheap boards. The 7600GT will probably perform almost as well as a 7900GS. You would need to go to a 7900GT to see much difference. The memory looks good. I would definitely go with a Intel Core Duo CPU at this time. They are currently the best performers and will save money energy consumption as well.
I currently have a Plextor drive and to this day, I can't figure out why spending almost three times the price is worth it.
(oh and the plextor drive I bought originally broke down about 6 weeks after I got it and it took nine weeks to get replaced!)
2006-12-07, 03:46 PM
Any reason why your not thinking about the 7900 series Nvidia?
2006-12-07, 04:08 PM
I have an older Plextor CD-RW and it still performs well. It rips CDs better than a newer DVD-RW drive. The Plextors support more features and tend to perform better at most tasks. Most people won't notice the difference in everyday use though. Pioneer drives were once regarded at being the best and fetched premium prices but are now just middle-of-the-pack performers. You might want to head over to CDRLAbs.com (http://www.cdrlabs.com/) and check out the DVD drive reviews.