OT - Computers

For those who have regained conciseness after an L-tryptophan, induced coma, I have a question as posed by my Son.
He wishes to "build" a high-end gaming platform computer. My knowledge in
this area is VERY limited. I built my system for photo editing as the primary use. He claims that it will not be the same which seems logical to me. My (his) question(s) are;
What would the IDEAL gaming system consist of, CPU, Mother Board, drives etc.
What components make for ideal gaming?
What type, if not brand, of monitor should he be looking at.?
He has about $3000 dollars to put toward this which is the fruits of a summer spent at hard labor and Dad buying all motors.
I am confident that several of you have considerably more than a casual knowledge of computers. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.
Nakita
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wrote:

I'm a computer consultant, and indeed put together several systems a month. Your question, unfortunately, is way too complex for a definitive answer here.
Very generally, you're going to want one of fastest processors available, a gig or two of RAM, and... a video card. For gaming, it's all about the video card.
The hot rigs have gone beyond AGP to PCI Express and SLI. Expect to spend $400 - $1000 for the video subsystem alone.
Displays are a bit controversial. Most people like LCD's, but some have too slow a response time for good gaming performance. I personally prefer a good CRT because of this, and because they can change resolutions gracefully.
The case, optical drive and HD's are of much lesser importance; you'll want to pay careful attention to the mouse and keyboard. The built-in audio of some logic boards borders on acceptable, but you'll do better with a dedicated sound board. i've been happy with the Creative Labs Audigy series. Good speakers enhance the experience; I like Klipsch brand.
Do yourself a favor, and spend some time poring over magazines like Maximum PC, which are targeted at people assembling gaming rigs. They often have recommended component sets aimed a a certain price point.
Or, read the ads in back and buy a pre-built rig.
Good Luck!
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Hi,
As a rough outline, I would suggest something like the following;
AMD X2 4200+ Processor or Intel Pentium D 840 Extreme Edition 2GB DDR 16x DVD ReWriter 250GB Hard Drive or better - I would suggest a SATA drive such as a Maxtor Maxline III. You could also consider using two smaller drives in Raid 0 to increase performance. PCI-Express Graphics card(s) Sound Blaster Audigy soundcard or equivalent.
In my opinion Nvidia cards have the slight edge when it comes to gaming. The newer models can also be paired up in SLI for ultimate performance, although a 6800 or 7800 series card will be more than sufficient for the latest games.
The motherboard will depend on your choice of Processor, Memory & other components.
If your son has no prior experience of building a computer, a Shuttle barebones (Case, motherboard, powersupply and CPU cooling in one package) system such as the SN26P (AMD) or SD31P (Intel) would be a good start - I have been looking at getting a SD31P myself. These little cases cram a lot in and look rather stylish. The newer models also feature toolless assembly. On the downside, you may be limiting yourself on expansion options and you won't be able to fit the some of the NVidia 7800GTX graphics because they are a bit too long.
When selecting a case or CPU fan, its worth checking out reviews online, the airflow inside the case is crucial for any system, especially a gaming one.
For a monitor, I'd suggest a good quality tft lcd display. 19"+ in size with a response time of no more than 8ms. A DVI input is highly recommended too.
And finally any other bits such as wifi card, speakers, keyboard and mouse, etc.....
Have a look on something like www.newegg.com and get a feel for the prices of the components and then have a search online for component reviews.
Hope this helps. P.S: If you're looking at going for an Intel based system I would strongly suggest waiting until January if at all possible ;)
Regards,
Rob House
UKRA 1258 - Level 2 SERFS

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Nakita wrote:

Others have made some nice suggestions so I won't too much further but throw a few *gamer* brands that the gamers go nuts over.
For video go with nvidia. Overclock potential if ever needed. For mobo Asus or ASRock. Overclock potential again. For HDs it can be a mix but as of late the Samsung SATA drives are popular. HDs now a days are all pretty much fast no matter what the brand is but the Samsung's are generally cheaper(more $$$ spend on video)
As mentioned earlier newegg is the bomb for good inexpensive hardware but I'll throw in Micro Center into the fray as another good source.
Ted Novak TRA#5512 IEAS#75
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Just dont buy the IMB/Hitachi DeathStar...
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That's a laugh. Those outlast Crapstor 10:1.
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Nakita wrote:

While several people have made several good suggestions, you really need to do some research. For example I run a shuttle case for my base, but the new video cards need a 300-350W PS (depending and which card) and most of the shuttle cases only come with a 200W PS, You can up grade the PS from shuttle or buy one of the newer systems they offer with up to a 350W PS, but the less expensive older models are only going to have a 200W PS. This is just one of the examples to watch for.
Most manufacturers don't make gaming specific systems but there is one company that does. Look at http://www.alienware.com . They have a wide selection of gaming specific systems, including a gaming laptop. You can build the same system yourself a bit cheaper, but warrentee is easier if it comes pre-built as a system.
While some processors/video systems can be overclocked, some can't and there's no way to know before you have the system in hand and try it, so when you're designing your system, don't depend on that working. Even if you know someone with the exact same system and it worked, doesn't mean it will for you. If later you try it and it works, then you just that much better off.
The things that are important are (in order of importance): Video card Amount of Memory (1GB min) Speed of Memory Processor bus speed Processor speed Hard disk (at least 120GB) CD/DVD drive
On the CD/DVD I would only use a reader internally, writers generate more heat (especially when writing) so I would an external writer if you need to write, or better yet if you already have a computer in the house with one, then use its drive to write. On gaming machines heat build up can be a real factor. The new video cards throw a LOT of heat and so do the faster processors. When it comes to cooling, be sure everything is the best you can get. The AMD processors are a little more sensitive to heat than Intel, but the AMD processors are as good if not better is some ways to the Intel. In the case where the processor has a recommended cooling heatsink/fan (or a list of approved ones) be sure to use one of the recommended ones (I speak from experience here).
Just some things to look at. Dennis
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When it comes to gaming video cards are more important than CPU so if your budget is limited you can buy cheaper CPU (like Athalon 64 3000 s939) and get better video card instead. Gigabyte K8N-SLI is getting inexpensive, so you might want to get that as well, since it can do SLI if you are into that sort of thing. Get at least 1 G of RAM, more the better. Everything else is of your own preference, except get a really strong power supply because your system stability depends on it. If you are going to use a card such as Geforce 6800GT or Ultra you have to get a power supply that can handle at least 400watts. I suggest Enermax, Seasonic, Silverstone. Dont buy cheap power supply because it will bite you in the end.
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Nakita wrote:
You've gotten many responses, but let me add my own comments (only one of which I 'insist' on <G>):
You don't need a 10000RPM disk drive, a 7200RPM drive is fine -- especially if you use SATA. If you really want more speed, get 2 (or 4) and make sure the motherboard has RAID on it (or buy a card).
Spend most of your money on the video card - historically I've liked ATI, but I see a lot of others suggestiong Nvidia - I won't quibble...
Plenty of RAM -- RAM is cheap for what you get in return. Plus, make sure that you are purchasing RAM that is FAST enough for the motherboard/chip combination you have. You can buy a good motherboard and CPU, but buy slower RAM, and slow the system down without knowing why. There is a chip on each RAM card that tells the motherboard how fast the RAM can be programmed to, etc., so DOUBLE CHECK.
The single greatest oversight (IMNSHO) is not getting a good power supply. I highly recommend PC Power and Cooling power supplies, they are at http://www.pcpowercooling.com and are absolutely the Rolls-Royce of power supplies. I've been using them for 15 years - and the few times I've NOT used them (or had relatives/friends not use them) it's been a problem. These are rock-solid units, putting out stable power, with excellent design and cooling. I cannot say enough good things about them -- and I add that I speak solely as a TREMENDOUSLY satisfied customer of them. Do a search on the internet on their products -- I think you'll find heavy agreement.
As another side note, bear in mind that (especially with a higher end system) noise can be a problem -- so decide, up front, if it is. If it IS a concern, then consider alternate ways of keeping it quieter, such as adjustable fan controls, heat pipes, or water cooling.
David Erbas-White
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If you want quite fan use a ball bearing fan, they are quieter and lasts longer. I think water cooling is overboard and its too much hassle unless you're thinking about overclocking...
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tai fu wrote:

I wouldn't buy a fan that isn't ball bearing -- it isn't even worth considering. As an add-on to my previous post, PC Power and Cooling sells 'silencer' fans, which are substantially quieter than 'stock' (but may not move as much air).
There are all sorts of things to consider -- here's my rule of thumb:
If you have only one hard disk, you can get by without a fan on the hard drive if you place it carefully in the air flow without other 'hot' items above/below it (such as DVD drive).
If you have more than one hard disk, make sure you have fans on each hard disk (or use heat pipes, etc.) in order to keep the drive cool enough.
I can guarantee you that you will have disk failure within a year if you ignore these considerations (well, maybe not guarantee, but you get my drift <G>).
Additionally, be careful when placing fans that you are creating flow, not turbulence. It also pays to use the circular cables, and tie-wrap them out of the air flow, in order to keep the interior cool. And if your RAM chips don't have heat sinks on them, consider adding them.
David Erbas-White
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David Erbas-White wrote:

Seconded!
Every gaming machine I build has managed airflow - usually inbound on the front and exhausts on the back - I have seen other people's machines where every fan was trying to blow into the case and doing no good at all!
Fit a HDD cooler.
RTFM! - for example, dual-memory-channel motherboards work MUCH better if you use two identical memory sticks, ONE IN EACH CHANNEL ;)
Before you buy a particular component, go to the manufacturers web site and try to download the drivers - if it's a problem now, imagine how tricky it's going to be in 12 months time when you're trying to re-install everything and you want the updated drivers (or have lost the driver cd)
My last two games machines have been built along these lines and I've been very happy with the stability and performance (stability is more important to me than those last few FPS)
Midi tower case 500 to 600w PSU nForce motherboard (previous was nForce3, this one is nForce4) Athlon CPU with over-specified cooling 2x 1Gb memory sticks (2x 512Mb if cash is a problem) ATI graphics (I've had less driver problems with ATI drivers over the years) Maxtor HDD on-board lan on-board sound three or four extra case fans
Cheers,
Greebo
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Superflower S201B Midtower case (Aluminum, 2 clear sides) 370w Enermax Noisetaker nForce4-4x motherboard (s745) Semperon 2800 (w/x86-64) 1x 512 Kingston DDR400 MSI GeForce 6600 (128M) 1x WD/1x Hitachi Deathstar HDD onboard lan onboard sound (too noisy, even my el chepo DVD player has less noise...) 2 case fans (well theres more but they were so loud that I decided to turn them off)
CPU temp reading is somewhere in the mid 30's C
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On Thu, 24 Nov 2005 16:34:59 -0500, Nakita wrote:

I think cache is also extremely important. Largest cache avail. for the cash reserve you have on HDD, and especially on the processor. -- dw
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Nakita wrote:

High Performance Game system    Nov-05      Asus P5LD2 Motherboard     $221.00 Intel P-4 Hyper Thread CPU 3.2 Ghz LGA    $279.50 Memory PC2-6400 1 Gb     $240.50 Memory PC2-6400 1 Gb     $240.50 Maxtor 200 Gb SATA hard drive     $117.00 DVD/CD player/recorder all formats SATA    $143.00 Antec Black Tower case /w 450W PS    $156.00 Nvidia Gforce 6800GT 512Mb PCI Exp16    $427.70 Keyboard & mouse PS2     $32.50 1.4 Mb 3.5 inch floppy disk drive    $26.00 Microsoft XP Pro Operating system    $195.00 System Total $2,078.70
Just put some of these together, no bad. Video card is the big item.
Hugh Building computers since Altairs / 1977.
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Why on earth would you want a FDD?
--

PP
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Pete Pemberton wrote:

You never know when You might need to re-install Windows 3.0.
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Dave Grayvis wrote:

Oh, puh-lease... You must be joking. I can't believe you would be this foolish...
You obviously meant Windows 3.1... <G>
David Erbas-White
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David Erbas-White wrote:

No, what I really meant was 3.11 (network support!).
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A good alternative to the "normal" 1.44MB floppy is the "SuperDisk" LS120 floppy. IDE interface, reads/writes 1.44/720 floppies faster, can also read/write 120MB floppies. You can do a lot with a bootable 120MB disk.
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