PC Recommendations

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Well, its somehow the end of September, as you can see I’ve been experimenting with PCs like crazy. Here once again is the PC buyers guide based on the AnandTech guides that I find so helpful. The main modifications have to do with learnings from “SilentPCReview”:http://silentpcreview.com to make the machine decently quiet.
h4. High end machine
OK, this isn’t a really expensive machine, but is one that will be very fast without being ridiculous. Total price is about $1572:
CPU. AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Mobile $213. This processor is a ClawHammer. Its got a 1MB cache and should overclock easily from 2GHz to 2.5GHz. If you are less of a do-it-yourselfer, get the desktop version for the same price, you probably want the harder to find ClawHammer version, CG revision. Newegg has these but they cost a little more than the Newcastle.
Motherboard. DFI LANParty UT nF3 250GB. $137. Top rated, only issue is that it is hard to find. Zipzoomfly.com has them listed but not yet available. Great reviews from Anandtech.
Memory. Crucial Ballistic 512K PC3200. $300 shipped. “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=20-146-546&depa=0 carries these and they are Micron based. The other great memory to consider is the OCZ 3200 EL Platinum Rev 2 that “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=20-146-890&depa=0 also carries at $278 for a 1GB kit. These are Samsung chips that work very well with the DFI as well and are cheaper.
Video. eVGA nVidia GeForce 6800GT. “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=14-130-203&depa=0 has it for $392. Its a great fast card. If you want the best price/performance, then the ATI Radeon 9800 Pro at $219 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=14-102-286&depa=0 is a good value choice. Or just get any el cheapo card for $20 if you don’t play games. The great value for both is that both overclock well using Riva Tuner or Coolbits.
Disk. If you want performance, get a WD740GD at $174. Its a 10K rpm drive and is wicked fast. It is pretty noisy though. If you don’t need raw speed, then one of these for speed and then a Samsung Spinpoint SP1614N for $95. This is a 160GB drive that is whisper quiet. If you are doing video editing where you need lots of storage, get both. Use the WD740GD for the applications and cache and the 160GB drive for storing all the big video files.
Optical. Benq DW-1620. This is $80 from mwave.com and is a dual layer 16x drive. Also have book management so it is very compatible with all DVD players.
Case. Evercase ECE-4252 for $45 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=11-127-029&depa=0 plus two fans if you are a do it yourselfer. You will also need two 120mm fans as well to mount inside. Get the very quiet two quiet Globe S1202512L for $8.49 a piece plus $6 shipping for a total of $70 from “mcntech.com”:http://www.mnpctech.com/Globe.html. If you want to splurge, get the “Coolcase”:http://www.coolcases.com/catalog/case_che610_cat.htm PC610-M2-FKPJ for $124 and you have to do less to assemble.
Power Supply. Silent Tornado 400. $100 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=17-151-018&depa=0. This uses a very quiet 120mm fan.
Fans and Heatsinks. If you get the mobile Athlon, then get the ThermalTake XP-90 from “Heatsinkfactory.com”:http://heatsinkfactory.com/cgi-bin/HFAstore.pl?user_action=detail&catalogno=HS-008 for $33 and the PanaFlo FBZ09A12L1A for $18 from “STSI.com’:http://www.stsi.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?page=STSI_4/PROD/Panasonic/FBA09A12L1A. If you are just getting the regular Athlon, then either use the retail HSF that comes with it and buy a $10 Zalman Fanmate-1 controller to make it quiet (if your motherboard doesn’t have a fan control that works) or get a Zalman CNPS7000A-AlCU for $33 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=35-118-108&depa=0.
If you are splurging and really want quiet, bet the XP-120 from them for $49 and then the Globe S1202512Ls from mchtech.com to mount on it. This means it should run very cool and quiet. The loudest thing in your rig then will be the fan on your video card. You can get an Arctic Cooler VGA Silencer. The GeForce 6800 version is “37”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=35-186-120&depa=0 from Newegg and the 9800 Pro version is about he same from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=35-186-113&depa=0. Folks report that the VGA silence alone lowers temperatures by 10C and increases overclocking quite a lot. For the ATI 9800 Pro, overclocking goes from 330MHz to about 420MHz with the stock heat sink. With the VGA silencer, you get to about 480MHz. That’s a huge difference.
h4. Budget PC
Well, the above machine is pretty good as a high end machine. If you take all the low options, you get to a very nice low end machine for about $850:
CPU. AMD Athlon 3000+. This is $165, but a good value and it has a 10x multiplier, so on overclock will get you to 2.5GHz. Has 512KB cache so a little slower.
Motherboard. Chaintech VNF 250gb. $80. Still top rated. This just lacks firewire. It doesn’t have working Quiet N Cool, so that’s depressing, but otherwise a high quality board.
Memory. Crucial Ballistic 512MB PC3200. $150 shipped. “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/viewProductDesc.asp?description=20-146-546&depa=0 carries these and they are Micron based.
Video. ATI Radeon 9800 Pro at $219 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=14-102-286&depa=0 is a good value choice. Or just get any el cheapo card for $20 if you don’t play games.
Disk. Samsung Spinpoint SP1614N at about $94 from Newegg. This is a EIDE 160GB drive that is whisper quiet. If you are doing video editing where you need lots of storage get both. You can drop to Spinpoint SP0812C for 80GB, but it really doesn’t save you much at $70.
Optical. Benq DW-1620. This is $80 from mwave.com and is a dual layer 16x drive. Also have book management so it is very compatible with all DVD players. Bite the bullet and get a good drive. Otherwise if it is really a home machine, then get a $50 CD-RW with DVD-ROM playback.
Case. Evercase ECE-4252 for $45 from “Newegg”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=11-127-029&depa=0 is a pretty cool case even with extra fans, but spring for the $10 to get the Globe from mnctech.com.
Power Supply. Seasonic SuperTornado 350 at “$77”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=17-151-017&depa=0 or even the Super Silencer 300 at “$60”:http://www.newegg.com/app/ViewProductDesc.asp?description=17-151-014&depa=0 if you don’t have a graphics card. Get a good power supply though, it makes a difference and these supplies are very quiet.
Fans and Heatsinks. The retail HSF is really oud, so get a $10 Zalman Fanmate-1 controller to make it quiet (if your motherboard doesn’t have a fan control that works).

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