Build a desktop for your mod

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phlip
Restorer of Worlds
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Build a desktop for your mod

Postby phlip » Mon Jun 22, 2009 10:57 am UTC

So I come home from the Sydney meetup to find my computer's dead and won't power up (pushing-the-button-does-nothing dead, not even POST beeps). Taking a look at it now shows that a couple of capacitors have burst, taking with them my vain hopes of repair.

So now I finally have a reason to ditch this 5-year-old computer and get something a bit more modern. I'm going to drag my computing kicking and screaming into this decade, before it runs out.

So, my question in two parts:
Firstly, where should I buy it? Newegg doesn't ship internationally. Is there an equivalent Australian store?
Alternatively, Google found this mob... are they any good?
[edit] A friend has linked me to staticICE, which I'll keep an eye on. [/edit]
If I do buy from Newegg and get it shipped, will I still need to buy the PSU local? Or will the ones from the States handle the voltage/frequency difference? (They typically mention 240V on the pages, and the photos look like they use the same connector, but I figure I'll ask to be safe).

Secondly, the parts list...
Things that can be salvaged from my current computer (the shorter list):
3 IDE hard drives of assorted sizes
1GiB RAM (2x512MiB... if that's worth keeping)
DVD drive
Keyboard and mouse (only just bought them a couple of days ago... previous ones had a dodgy R key and dead wheel, respectively... didn't get to use them before the computer died)
A cheap watercooling system (though the block wouldn't fit on a newer CPU socket, I'd need a new one if I wanted to keep using this)
The case (though I wouldn't say no to a new one)
Um, the speakers work, I guess? Maybe one of the system fans?

Things I want:
PSU
Mobo
CPU
Graphics card
More RAM, say up to 4GiB
Monitor of some kind, ideally LCD (my CRT is on its last legs, and is goddamn heavy)

Most of my ideas about what sort of features I want are things that I'm pretty sure are standard by now... I'd be like the guy who goes into the electronics store and asks how much extra it'd be to get a video machine that can read DVDs. I imagine it's hard to get a computer lately that doesn't support things like SATA, PCIe, 64-bit, virtualisation... (well, SATA's a bit of an exaggeration, my old computer supported it... I tried it out when I bought it, but it was still new, and Linux's support for it was spotty and didn't include my controller, so I gave it up and never got around to trying it again).

But still, what requirements I do have:
  • Linux must support it, reasonably well.
  • I'd like to be able to use all of my existing HDDs... but I gather that motherboards with 4 IDE channels are hard to come by these days. Do they make IDE expansion cards? Any new HDDs I buy will be SATA, because I'm not that insane.
  • I'm not an avid PC gamer... though I do play games occasionally, usually I just stick with the consoles. I'd like a reasonable graphics card, but it doesn't have to be top-of-the-line. To give a point of comparison, my current computer sports a second-hand GeForce FX 5500 (bought when my previous card gave up the ghost and I had to chase down a replacement AGP card off an eBay that was already flooded with PCIe), and while I would like something with more grunt, it's not exactly holding me back much. The most graphics intensive games I've played in the last few years were in the Orange Box. I have no problems with turning the graphics levels down to Low should I break with tradition and buy a state-of-the-edge game. Basically, what I'm saying is: not just onboard graphics plz, most anything else OK. Ideally with a second video port, should I look into getting a second monitor in the future.
  • CPU speed, though, I'd love to kick up a few notches. It seems I'm always hitting that limit with one thing or another.
  • All the boring stuff on the motherboard - audio, Ethernet... unless having them separate is cheaper somehow.
  • Have I forgotten anything?

I haven't thought about budget, and I don't really have a feel for how much money will buy... so I'll just throw out "a grand US" (possibly not including the monitor), and work from there.

So... suggestions? And remember, I'm a mod, so any bad advice might get you banned. (Nah, I'm just kidding. Maybe.)

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Themata
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Build a desktop for your mod

Postby Themata » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:10 pm UTC

In terms of stores in Sydney. MSY Auburn or Ultimo are the way to go. They're super cheap warehouses that sell for mostly the lowest prices.

www.msy.com.au
MSY doesn't include much information on parts though, two other places I'd suggest which do include information are www.itestate.com.au and www.ddcomputer.com.au. All three stores are sydney based and probably will be the cheapest places to get parts. Itestate is in North Rocks, DDcomputer is at Strathfield.

Parts to look into:

CPUs:
Intel Core2Duo e8400 (3.0ghz) or e8500 (3.16ghz, though its just an e8400 with an unlocked multiplier, meaning a higher clock via multiplier)

AMD AM3 Phenom x3 720 (Tri-core, 2.8ghz, unlockable fourth core with certain motherboards)

I don't know too much about quad cores so I'll let someone else talk about those

Motherboards: Depend on what CPU you go with, what RAM type you want, but I would recommend the Gigabyte EP45 boards for Intel chips (personal preference, love mine), once again I'm not to knowledgable on the AMD side of the board (bad pun) so I'll let someone else talk about that. Just make sure you get a motherboard that supports your chosen chip, and whatever type of RAM you decide on.

RAM: DDR2 is cheap as right now, but if you can get a good deal DDR3 isn't too bad either. I would recommend DDR2 in terms of price/performance though, the price of DDR2 is at a sweet spot right now.

Graphics card: Look at the Radeon HD 4800 series cards or the Geforce GTX 200's, go for a geforce 9800GT if trying to save money, they're still pretty beasty and you can get em for around $200 nowadays.

Depending where you shop (MSY is strongly recommended, though be sure to email them to check availability of parts, and be prepared to wait in line a long time) you can make this a pretty cheap fix up job. I just recently bought a Core2Duo e8400, Gigabyte-EP45T-UD3R mobo, 2GB DDR3 RAM and a Thermaltake V9 case, which altogether cost me around $600. Needa buy a new graphics card soon though...

That's about all the advice I can offer right now. Apologies if I make little sense, I should really be going to bed now...

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Endless Mike
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Re: Build a desktop for your mod

Postby Endless Mike » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:19 pm UTC

Regarding the power supply, every modern PSU I've seen either has a physical switch or has an automatic switch for voltage differences. I don't know what Australian outlets look like, so you may have to get a power cord locally.

|Erasmus|
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Re: Build a desktop for your mod

Postby |Erasmus| » Tue Jun 23, 2009 5:45 am UTC

Themata wrote:In terms of stores in Sydney. MSY Auburn or Ultimo are the way to go. They're super cheap warehouses that sell for mostly the lowest prices.

http://www.msy.com.au
MSY doesn't include much information on parts though, two other places I'd suggest which do include information are http://www.itestate.com.au and http://www.ddcomputer.com.au. All three stores are sydney based and probably will be the cheapest places to get parts. Itestate is in North Rocks, DDcomputer is at Strathfield.

MSY are pretty notorious for not having the parts anyone wants in stock. They list parts that they may have at -some- store but never say what is where. IT Estate are the best place around Sydney (prices comparable to MSY, with better stock and service), but a bit out of the way for phlip... They should ship it up there, though, which I think MSY won't do.

Just for a price comparison, IT Estate would charge $595 for those parts, and their V9 is about $40 more expensive, so pretty good.

As for the other stuff you mentioned, I don't really disagree. Both very good processors unless you really want 4 cores. There is not a lot of difference between the motherboard brands as far as I know, so go with whatever has good reviews at the right price.

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Themata
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Location: Sydney, Australia

Re: Build a desktop for your mod

Postby Themata » Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:26 am UTC

Yeah, I agree on MSY with stock availability, which is why you should always call or email ahead. I made sure to email both the Auburn and Ultimo branches to check availability, Ultimo had 0/4 parts, Auburn had 3/4 so I had to go elsewhere for the V9 (oz-digital). I'd have directed you to www.oz-digital.com as they have pretty sweet prices too, but they've just recently closed down and are going to be under new management in the future.

Game_boy
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Re: Build a desktop for your mod

Postby Game_boy » Thu Jun 25, 2009 6:00 am UTC

http://www.ddcomputer.com.au/prod-HDZ94 ... n_CPU.html $292

http://www.ddcomputer.com.au/prod-HIS-H ... 512MB.html $256

http://www.ddcomputer.com.au/prod-GA-MA ... 0-US3.html $113

http://www.ddcomputer.com.au/prod-KHX85 ... 15%29.html $67

http://www.ddcomputer.com.au/prod-CHK40 ... W_PSU.html $65

$793 for CPU/GPU/Motherboard/RAM/Case/PSU

Phenom II X4 940 BE
Radeon HD4870
AMD 770-based motherboard (S-AM2+)
2GB DDR2-1066
Case with adequate 500W PSU

Use the other $200 for speakers, monitor, keyboard, etc.

The most important part of a PC is the graphics card, and that one is as high as you can go without getting diminishing returns. The quad-core is very fast and where multi-threading works it will beat any dual-core. I'd still go with DDR2 as it is cheaper and the boards/CPUs that use it are cheaper.
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