Old 17th November 2002, 19:09   #1
MetallichicA
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Building our computer - Please help!

SO, the time has come. Christmas is around the corner, and for us that means finally building our computer. And since we've never done this before, and know just enough about computers to get ourselves in trouble, I'm coming to you guys for help. Don't you just feel all special?

What I'd like to know is either: what components you feel would be the best
OR
A site which can really help us out.

We have a case picked out already. Prolly gonna get steel so it'll be black. We also have a GeForce3 Ti200 that's been sitting on our desk for a year, ready to go in. And we have our monitor mouse and speakers already, too. And we'll probably just get another Soundblaster 5.1. Hard drive is simple enough, too (I'm sure we'll be at Best Buy at 4am the day after Thanksgiving lol).

Chris wants to get an XP2200, but that can change. We'll probably go with AMD mainly because of price. I think we're expecting to end up spending around $800 (not including the monitor, of course) total.

So we still need a motherboard, all the little cables, power supply, heat sink, all that crap. And we also need a book or website that can walk us through this. We have a friend who has done it before, but he um... put the heat sink on backwards on the last one or something. So we'd like to do it ourselves lol.

Where can we get stuff with black bezels? Like DVD/CD/floppy drives? They seem so hard to find.

We know all about tigerdirect, newegg, infotech, pcmods, and techbargains.

Anything we should beware of while doing this?

You know I appreciate this *MWAH!*
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Old 17th November 2002, 19:13   #2
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No problem. You plug the red thingy into the other thingy next to the big silver bit. Next, connect the beige box to the green bit with that black thing. Sorted




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Old 17th November 2002, 19:14   #3
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OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH and here I always thought it was more complicated. THANKS MERLIN!
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Old 17th November 2002, 19:24   #4
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At the moment i'd go P4 in a totally new system, but if you wanna stick with AMD heres what i'd be buying.

MSI KT4 ultra
AMD XP2400
512mb kingmax or corsair PC3200 (single stick only, not 2x256).
Western Digital 120gb, 7200rpm 8mb cache.
Liteon 48/48/24 cdrw
Liteon 16x DVD
Hercules fortissimo 111

Grab a few spray cans of primer and black paint and do the bezels yourself. Its not difficult.
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Old 17th November 2002, 19:30   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Atmo
At the moment i'd go P4 in a totally new system,
Why's that? I don't know enough about processors.
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Old 17th November 2002, 19:41   #6
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At the moment the P4's are a better buy. A P4 2400 (533) is around the same price as an XP2400+ and is faster.

Since you have to buy a new board, cpu and ram thats what i'd be getting.

Maybe a gigabyte GA-8IEXP and 512 of PC2700, or a 8IHXP and 512 of PC1066 RDRam if you can stretch the budget a little.
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Old 17th November 2002, 20:19   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Atmo
At the moment the P4's are a better buy. A P4 2400 (533) is around the same price as an XP2400+ and is faster.

Since you have to buy a new board, cpu and ram thats what i'd be getting.

Maybe a gigabyte GA-8IEXP and 512 of PC2700, or a 8IHXP and 512 of PC1066 RDRam if you can stretch the budget a little.
I don't want this thread to turn into another Intel VS AMD war, so I will just say that personally, I would go AMD.

Atmo's choices for the AMD based hardware is very good. It's what I would get.

a suggestion I would have is if you are buying online, check out http://www.newegg.com. They are probably the most trusted online reseller ever. Before you buy parts online, make sure you check the place out at http://www.resellerratings.com. I almost got burned when buying my case from a company that had like a 3.1 out of 10 rating.

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Old 17th November 2002, 21:06   #8
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I'm an AMD person as well. At the moment I would recommend the XP2400+ though, like Atmo said.

Don't skimp on the hard drive though - it's probably the most important component in your system. There are three brands to remember especially:
  • Western Digital Nobody ever says bad things about their drives.
  • Maxtor Opinion is divided. People either love them or hate them. Personally I'm very happy with mine.
  • IBM Do not buy an IBM drive! They have horrendous reliability problems.

The motherboard will come with most of the cables you need.

Power supply: Don't skimp here either. Many strange PC problems can be attributed to bad PSUs. The bare minimum you want is 300W, you'll want 400W at least, ideally. Go with a named brand like Enermax, PC-Power-and-Cooling, Antec, etc.

Heat sink: All copper is best, look for one that isn't too loud! The Cooler Master HHC-L61 looks great and has a low speed fan so it's nice and quiet. No good for overclocking though.

Here is a good Acrobat file from AMD about building systems around Athlon processors. Most of it is techy mumbo-jumbo, but there's a good bit about installing heat sinks:

http://www.amd.com/us-en/assets/cont...docs/26003.pdf

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Old 17th November 2002, 21:07   #9
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When you buy the case make sure that the power supply is well over spec.
A few extra $$$ now will save you plenty if you decide to add more RAM or peripherals, or the next time you upgrade even.

(edit) I see dylman has beaten me to it (/edit)

UJ
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Old 17th November 2002, 21:11   #10
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Or better yet, toss the power supply that comes with the case and get a new one.

400w should be fine.
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Old 17th November 2002, 21:12   #11
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One more thing: When choosing your case, having a couple of USB ports on the front is dead useful for digital cameras etc.

edit: which the case you've chosen has. Oops...

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Old 17th November 2002, 22:49   #12
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Oh, I forgot about the whole hard drive thing. As Dylman said, DON'T GET AN IBM DRIVE. I have one, and it's on it's last leg. Not even a year old yet. Western Digital makes very nice drives. See if you can get one of the Special Editions, if you plan to go WD. They have 8mb of cache. That's a good thing.

Power Supply: Get an Enermax.

Yeah, the Mobo should have all the cables you need.

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Old 17th November 2002, 22:56   #13
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Toss the standard cables that come with the board and get some rounded ide cables. Theyre easier to install, and help cooling.

These are about the sexiest looking cables i've ever seen....
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Old 17th November 2002, 22:56   #14
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I know intuitively how to make a system, but I'm no pro. You really want to check Maximumpc (I think maximumpc.com) and pcgamer (they usually in their magazine have what you need to make a system and break it down by budget system, advanced, and dream system).
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:30   #15
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Um.... don't worry, we're planning on going with Western Digital I wouldn't buy anything BUT. I remember my parents' old computer... it had a Seagate drive in it. That one died, and they got another Seagate. That one died, and they got ANOTHER Seagate. That one died and by that time it was time to get a new computer anyway.

Are the rounded IDE cables expensive? Will they fit any drive?

Thanks, you guys, for all your help! Keep it coming!
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:36   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA
Are the rounded IDE cables expensive? Will they fit any drive?
Not really, but they are more expensive than normal ide cables. And yes, they will fit any IDE drive.

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Old 17th November 2002, 23:38   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA

Are the rounded IDE cables expensive? Will they fit any drive?
A few pounds/dollars. They are exactly the same as any other IDE cable, but rather than being wide and flat, they are skinny and round. So they take up less room in the case and obstruct far less airflow.

Airflow inside the case is very important.

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Old 17th November 2002, 23:43   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Atmo
MSI KT4 ultra
AMD XP2400
512mb kingmax or corsair PC3200 (single stick only, not 2x256).
Okay, I'm looking at the specs for this mobo on newegg.com, and it says it supports up through the XP2200 though. And it only goes up to DDR 333. But PC3200 RAM is 400MHz. Do the numbers matter?
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:44   #19
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Heres an excellent guide to building a pc.

http://www.dansdata.com/buildpc.htm

Its a few years old, but its still probably one of the best tutorials.
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:47   #20
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But if the IDE's come with the mobo/HDD/whatever, is it worth it for me to buy MORE of them? I'll admit, round IDE's have got to be infinitely better than those stupid flat ones that you can't twist and turn and take up half the case.

I hate hardware
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:56   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA


Okay, I'm looking at the specs for this mobo on newegg.com, and it says it supports up through the XP2200 though. And it only goes up to DDR 333. But PC3200 RAM is 400MHz. Do the numbers matter?
Dont worry, it will support ddr400 and processors including the new 166fsb xp2700+ & 2800+.

The problem with the current kt400 chipset is that currently you can only use one ram slot at that speed....So dont buy 2x256 sticks if you plan to run it at that speed. Since i already have a ddr333 board, i'll be waiting till the kt400a boards arrive till i upgrade, but if i were building a new system now i'd buy a kt400 board. They have serial ata connectors and agp 8x support (most current ddr333 boards dont), so you'll be able to upgrade later if you wish.

Its still worth buying ddr400 (pc3200) ram, even if you only run it at ddr333 speed, since you can run it with the most agressive ram timing and not have to worry about over stressing it...and even have some headroom left for overclocking if you wish to.
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Old 17th November 2002, 23:57   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA
But if the IDE's come with the mobo/HDD/whatever, is it worth it for me to buy MORE of them?
It depends. They are really only about $5 a piece last time I checked. If you can afford it, they are much better.

And I think the KT4 Ultra should support it. You may need to flash the bios first though. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't support the Xp2400+.

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Old 23rd November 2002, 19:38   #23
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*bump* More questions

Installing Windows?
Installing all the other stuff I need?

Do the instructions that come with Windows explain how to install it? Sadly, I've never reinstalled, or reformatted, or anything. Because I have no idea how, and I'm afraid I know just enough to get myself into trouble if I tried it myself, but not enough to get myself OUT of trouble.
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Old 23rd November 2002, 19:52   #24
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i think you just put the windows/linux cd in the drive before you turn it on and get the hardware to work. i don't know if your cd drive can be opened with the power off, but i know mine can't, and if yours can't either just turn on the computer, put the disk in and then restart it. you many need to turn on the cd-booting feature from the bios if it doesn't start automatically, but i forget how to do that.

i'm quite sure that windows xp can be booted from a cd, but i may be wrong. more to come later.

edit: VERY IMPORTANT - make sure the voltage settings for the power supply are what they should be in your region. if it's wrong there is a great risk somtehing will get fried.

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Old 23rd November 2002, 20:43   #25
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Before you start, make sure you have a Windows 98 boot disk handy. If it turns out that you can't boot off the Windows CD, you'll need to use the 98 boot disk to install the CD-ROM drivers, that will let you run setup.exe on the CD-ROM.

If your floppy drive doesn't work, and the little green light is on permanently, then you've plugged the floppy cable in the wrong way round. Power off, unplug the cable from the motherboard and spin it round.

When you turn on the PC for the first time, have your hand on the power switch and watch your motherboard very carefully. Especially make sure that the CPU fan is spinning, and then that all other fans are humming nicely. If *anything* looks or sounds wrong, kill the power immediately.

(The first two happened to me last time, so I know. )

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Old 23rd November 2002, 23:23   #26
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Does anyone have a sound-activated light? What's the best light for this case? We want red, since that'll prolly be the best color. The light we're looking at (http://www.casecooler.com/redcolcatlig.html)is total 13", but the actual light is only 6" long. Seems awful short to me; are there any longer lights? Do I need a light longer than 6"?

BTW, we're most likely going to put Windows XP on it. Anything I should be warned about?

One more thing- how much RAM do I REALLY need? Can I get by with 256, or should we just go 512 right away? I hate to spend $100 more if I don't really need it. Is XP a memory hog?
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Old 23rd November 2002, 23:44   #27
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at the very least you'll need 128 megs. i've stuck with windows me and 64 megs so anybody correct me if i'm wrong, but i hear that ram prices have risen since they last were low, and i think that 256 would be fine for now. if you really want 512 (useful for many things dealing with graphics/sound editing and running many distributed computing projects) i see no prob with getting it.

oh, and if there more than one person will be using this comp (esp. if it's a family comp), you should get the 512. there's a feature in windows xp that allows you to switch between user accounts quickly, keeping everything the old user has up in memory.

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Old 24th November 2002, 09:52   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA


BTW, we're most likely going to put Windows XP on it. Anything I should be warned about?

One more thing- how much RAM do I REALLY need? Can I get by with 256, or should we just go 512 right away? I hate to spend $100 more if I don't really need it. Is XP a memory hog?
512, its worth it. Especially if youre going ddr400, since you can only run one stick at that speed with the kt400 chipset.

XP likes ram, and lots of it. Its not really a memory hog, since its putting it all to good use. By the time i've booted to the desktop im using around 170mb. But i do have a lot of programs that load on startup.

256 would be ok if youre just doing normal desktop stuff, but it'll page out to disk when you do anything intensive. I've got 512 and i often see my free memory drop down well below the 200mb mark.
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Old 24th November 2002, 10:12   #29
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Actually, 512 Mb of DDR333 memory is available at a good price. I suggest you to wait for DDR400...
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Old 24th November 2002, 13:24   #30
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I used to be an AMD zealot until I saw this.

As for IBM drives, don't get one. My IBM Desktar died as well.
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Old 24th November 2002, 14:51   #31
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA
Does anyone have a sound-activated light? What's the best light for this case? We want red, since that'll prolly be the best color. The light we're looking at (http://www.casecooler.com/redcolcatlig.html)
Try here:
http://www.xoxide.com/sounaccat.html

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Old 24th November 2002, 15:03   #32
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had an IBM drive die in my laptop a month ago.

might wanna poke around hardocp.com for hardware.

missyob made me post this.
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Old 24th November 2002, 19:07   #33
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Update...

Last night we bought the case and power supply from newegg:
Antec True430 ATX power supply $78
Thermaltake XaserII A5000 case $128


We doing okay so far? We're still debating on what type of RAM to get. But I think we'll do 512. At least then, we won't have to add RAM in the future. We're just going to buy the parts kind of one-by-one, and get the processor and mobo last; hopefully the prices will drop a teeny bit by then?

Thanks again for all the tips and websites so far!


Lemme ask something else:
IF you were going to buy an AMD processor, and wanted to spend AT MOST in the low $200's (like $230 or $240), what would you get?
Same for P4, which one would you get?
And then, between the two of those, which would you choose?
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Old 24th November 2002, 19:27   #34
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XP2400+ or P4 2.4 (both should be under $200us)

And i'd go for the P4 if i was getting a new mobo to go with it.

Theyre faster, run cooler (meaning 7000 rpm fans arent needed) and they throttle back if they do overheat (meaning if the fan fails, not only will the cpu survive, the system probably wont even crash).

I've been amd's biggest fan for the last few years, but theyve really gotta get their act together...They used to be able to match an intel processor for a lower price, but theyre nowhere near it at the moment.
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Old 25th November 2002, 03:05   #35
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you guys are all sudgesting killer parts, but there also killer expensive parts.. you definatley do not need these high end parts that everyone is sudgesting.. trust me.. you would be definatly happy with an xp 1800+ cpu, 256 mb ram and a geforce 4 ti4200 .. i would save yourself some money and go a little lower on the cpu and on the mobo.. you do not need a kt400 board, they are not as fast as kt333 and they are more expensive.. also ram.. you do not need pc3200, pc2700 or pc2100 is plenty fast.. and i highly doubt you would even begin to exploit the power of an xp1800+ pc with a geforce4 ti4200 and 256mb pc2100 ram... trust me on this one, i work at a computer store and i see people all the time comming in and buying top of the line parts when i know they will never ever ever use them to there full potential..save yourself some coin, order a few pizza's and go to the movies, by yourself some clothes or sumthin with the money you will save,,trust me you wont be dissapointed

as for the xp install problem it really is simple.. all you do it turn on your computer, enter your bios, set it to boot of cd first, then when it asks to boot from cd, hit enter and follow the simple steps..

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Old 25th November 2002, 03:31   #36
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Quote:
Originally posted by Nofx Guy
you guys are all sudgesting killer parts, but there also killer expensive parts.. you definatley do not need these high end parts that everyone is sudgesting.. trust me.. you would be definatly happy with an xp 1800+ cpu, 256 mb ram and a geforce 4 ti4200 .. i would save yourself some money and go a little lower on the cpu and on the mobo.. you do not need a kt400 board, they are not as fast as kt333 and they are more expensive.. also ram.. you do not need pc3200, pc2700 or pc2100 is plenty fast.. and i highly doubt you would even begin to exploit the power of an xp1800+ pc with a geforce4 ti4200 and 256mb pc2100 ram... trust me on this one, i work at a computer store and i see people all the time comming in and buying top of the line parts when i know they will never ever ever use them to there full potential..save yourself some coin, order a few pizza's and go to the movies, by yourself some clothes or sumthin with the money you will save,,trust me you wont be dissapointed

as for the xp install problem it really is simple.. all you do it turn on your computer, enter your bios, set it to boot of cd first, then when it asks to boot from cd, hit enter and follow the simple steps..
Too true I see so many 40 year olds buying these top of the line gaming systems all just to get to "The Internet" and "E-mail" so grandma can see pictures of the kids. For about $400 you can get yourself a good net pc that can also play a game or too. Only if you plan on editing video or playing video games should you consider anything faster then 900Mhz and even then it's sometimes not neccessary.
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Old 25th November 2002, 03:52   #37
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Well, the thing is, this computer is going to be the last one we build/buy for quite some time. Unless this one (the one I'm on now, not the one I'm going to build) dies, we're not getting another. So I'd rather spend the extra money now and not ever have to upgrade.

A $400 PC? Heck, the MONITOR cost more than that lol.
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Old 25th November 2002, 03:54   #38
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wholeheartedly agree, ive been using computers under 1ghz (as primary ones) for my entire computing career so far (limited resources), and if you optimize a computer correctly, you can do wonders. around an xp1700+ would be fine, and since you already have a video card, dont worry about getting another one, that one'll work plenty fine.
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Old 25th November 2002, 04:25   #39
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Quote:
Originally posted by MetallichicA
Well, the thing is, this computer is going to be the last one we build/buy for quite some time. Unless this one (the one I'm on now, not the one I'm going to build) dies, we're not getting another. So I'd rather spend the extra money now and not ever have to upgrade.

A $400 PC? Heck, the MONITOR cost more than that lol.
you can buy 19" monitors for under 200 bucks
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Old 25th November 2002, 04:27   #40
MetallichicA
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No, I already bought a monitor (check the link above). It's a 21" Trinitron. We went ahead and got a big one because that way it's easier for me to use Photoshop/ImageReady/Quark and look at the internet all at once.
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