New 1st time build, research not enough, advice requested.


Limp Gawd
Sep 14, 2008
After some failed research at other forums, someone directed me here. After a couple weeks of wikipedia/Google research, I have learned a lot but not enough to be sure enough to buy. Searching threads here hasn't helped as my keywords may have been poorly chosen. Getting past a wish list seems impossible at this point without your advice, so I had to post:

I am building a computer that will be used to:

*Run MS Office '07 including some heavy Outlook (with Xobni plugin), Access databases, Publisher newsletters, and large Excel spreadsheet use.
*Run multiple media editing programs (AcidPro/Audacity for music, Pinnacle/Windows Movie Maker for video, Photoshop CS3/Paint Shop Pro and others for images) for semi-professional use (wedding and school videography & photography)
*tune in to HD and standard cable television and record like a DVR and view movies in 5.1 surround via optical signal
*support a future purchase of a Blu-Ray burner
*convert old VHS videos to DVD and other digital format
*faxing with Word documents and jpg pictures (I have an old PCI modem)
*support some 3D gaming (Battlefield 1942, BF2, BF 2142, etc.).
*Use a resolution of 1600 (current) or 1920 (after possible monitor purchase) x1200 at all times (except for gaming, where a slightly smaller resolution would be acceptable). When using Office or online or working with pictures, I really need a 1200 pixel tall screen to minimize time-wasting scrolling and see a high resolution pic in one shot.
*notate music (sibelius, encore, finale) or accompany instrumental performances/practicing (band-in-a-box, vivace)
*internet browsing/instant messaging
*scan and print for school publications and weddings (already have printer and scanner).
*support 6 or more external USB devices, 1 eSATA device, and duel monitors (currently have an old 1600x1200 Dell CRT, will eventually add a 1920x1200 LCD)
*run CPU-intense Winamp Advanced Visualization Studio presets at a decent resolution and frame rate
*I would really like it if I could have (Creative's EAX) or similar reverb effects "environments"
*run at least 2 SATA II hard drives and as many PATA drives as possible, up to 4 in addition to the 2 SATA. Less PATA is acceptable if need be though.
*read old school 3.5" floppy discs.
*read high speed 4 gig SD cards

Already have:
*PCI fax modem
*ps2 mouse and keyboard
*scanner & 3 printers (USB)
*Technics SA-DA8 receiver/amp supporting 5.1 optical dts or dolby digital signal (does NOT have the RCA-shape digital input, only optical)(7.1 channel is not important to me, only 5.1).
*plenty of desk space
*4 PATA hard drives: 250, 120, 60, 40 gig models.
*old basic CD drive, might just scrap it.
*VCR, DVD player, coax/RCA/S-Video input TV

Here's my wish list (VERY rough draft and open to editing):
Motherboard: DFI LANPARTY UT X48-T3R LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel

I like the support for a quad core CPU, 4 DDR3 RAM slots, optical out for sound, large number of SATA II plugs, the 2-device PATA plug, and the 3 oldschool PCI slots. Is this an ok brand, and will it be compatible with the other hardware that I have listed? Also, will a good video card block the old PCI slots?
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 3.0GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80569Q9650 - Retail
I don’t know much about overclocking at this point, but I did want something that was a solid 3 gig quad core so that the box will last long without major upgrades. Overclocking is something I might do, but not at a dangerous amount. Because of this, I was hoping to stick with the included basic CPU cooling system.

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBPK - Retail
I like the price and was hoping to buy cards that were at least 2 gig DDR3 1333. This way I can either buy the total allowed 8 gigs now or just 4 and have empty slots available for a later upgrade. I know nothing about brand preference. Latency seems high at 9 but the motherboard reviews said faster RAM causes problems – not sure if that’s true or not?

Hard drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Inexpensive, fast, and very high capacity for uncompressed media editing. I may later consider adding a 32 or 64 gig solid state drive for faster operating system and office program loading, but not sure yet.

PSU and Case: COOLER MASTER Stacker 810 RC-810-KKA1-GP Black Aluminum Bezel, SECC Chassis ATX Full Tower Computer Case RS-850-EMBA 850W Power Supply - Retail
Lots of bang for the buck, lots of room for drives of all kinds, even handy office chair style casters, and very little (what I consider annoying) led lighting. I understand that PSUs are very important and didn’t find this brand on the avoid list, but I don’t know enough to decide if this is a safe choice.

Optical Drive: ASUS 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model DRW-2014L1T - Retail
Fits my needs for now. I would like to add a Blu-Ray burner later if and when they come down in price.

TV Card: KWORLD PlusTV HD PCI 120 ATSC 120 PCI Interface - Retail

This seems to fit what I was requesting above. I get a lot of VCR tapes from videography customers and need something to convert them to computer-editable files. I also want to use this machine to watch broadcast TV like a DVR setup as well as DVD movies.

Card reader/3.5 floppy: SIIG JU-91RW12-S4 9-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader/Write + Floppy - Retail
This will read my camera card (and other people’s submitted cards) and old floppies.

Added PATA inside and eSATA outside: MASSCOOL PCI-E 1 port eSATAII + 1 port SATAII + 1 port ATA133(JMB363 chipset) Model XWT-PCIE15 - Retail
Kills two birds with one stone, but I’m hoping a video card won’t block it’s slot. I’m hoping to connect 2 PATA hard drives to the internal PATA plug and one eSATA Western Digital 1TB My Book external hard drive.

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM

I have a license for MS Windows XP x64 edition (bought in 2005 with a 32 bit version too for total of $20 at the student rate), and I would like to use it, but everyone I talk to says that it’ll likely cause endless problems including but not limited to driver update issues.

Video Card: This is where I’m really lost. All the research I’ve done on other forums, Newegg, Wikipedia, and here doesn’t seem to be enough to help me make an educated guess as to what I could use. Maybe a good one would replace my need for a TV card. If so, would it still be good enough to run the Battlefield games at a decent resolution/frame rate? See my list above the hardware list to see what I need the card to handle. I’m hoping to stick with one video card for now, mostly because I don’t think I game enough to need two, price, and I want to block at most one PCI slot, though I’d rather not block any. This motherboard looks like I’d use a PCIe 2 16 slot but the card would be so fat it would block an extra PCI slot This is ok, but if I had two cards doing this, it would limit my expansion.

1920x1200 monitor: Open to suggestions. Around 24” and good (not best, but good) for photography, decent but not extreme angle and distance viewing, and some 3D gaming.

The listed specific hardware totals $1944.52 including shipping on Newegg, but lacks tax, a monitor, a video card, and any extra wiring to make it all work.

Thank you very much for your time reading this. I don’t really have any tech-savvy friends; I’m usually the guy they go to, and I’m no hardware expert at all; just learning. I’d really appreciate anything you’d have to say regarding this. If you point me in the right direction, you deserve everything good that happens to you.

I'm sorry about such a long post. I wanted to be as detailed as possible, and I am welcome to suggestions, even from the devil's advocate, as to how to improve my posting and my selections for hardware.

Thanks again.
Jesus fuck that's long. But still not as long as some other threads here.

Oh and despite your long thread you forgot one important piece of information: What's your budget?

Anyway, couple of things that I should point out:

- Ditch the mobo and DDR3 RAM. Intel C2D derived systems do NOT benefit from DDR3 RAM. DDR3 RAM is NOT worth the extra costs these days and there is no guarantee that you'll be able to use whatever DDR3 RAM you buy today with newer chipsets in the future. I recommend these other motherboards:
Gigabyte GA-EP43-DS3L Intel P43 Motherboard - $87
MSI P45 Neo3-FR Intel P45 Motherboard - $112
Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R Intel P45 Motherboard - $130
Asus P5Q Pro Intel P45 Motherboard - $140
Biostar TPower I45 Intel P45 Motherboard - $152
DFI Lanparty DK X38-T2R Intel X38 Motherboard - $180
Asus P5E Deluxe Intel X48 Motherboard - $220
DFI Lanparty DK X48-T2R Intel X48 Motherboard - $220
Gigabyte GA-X48-DS4 Intel X48 Motherboard - $225

Just to help you out: All of these motherboards have PCI-E 2.0 which may be useful for future GPU upgrades. If you don't need RAID, more than 6 SATA ports and only need semi-decent overclocking, check out the DS3L. If you need 8 SATA ports, RAID, 4 PCI slots, and legacy ports, then get the Neo3-Fr. If you don't need more than 6 SATA ports but want RAID, firewire, a second PCI-E x16 port, a second gigabit port, support for 16GB of RAM, optional eSATA, x8/x8 Crossfire, and great overclocks, then get the DS3R. If you like the DS3R but need 8 SATA ports, want an onboard pre-installed fast booting Linux setup, just support for 8GB of RAM, and don't need a second gigabit port, get the Asus P5Q Pro. If you want a motherboard with excellent overclocking capabilities above all else (feature wise), go with the I45. If you want Crossfire with full x16/x16 bandwidth, get the Lanparty DK X38. If you have cash to burn, need x16/x16 Crossfire, and don't give a damn about getting the most value for your money, get the Asus, DFI, or Gigabyte X48 motherboards. Do note that the Asus website can be slow sometimes.

RAM wise, I recommend this:
G.Skill F2-8000CL5D-4GBPQ 2 x 2GB DDR2 1000 RAM - $73

- Ditch the Q9650. It is not worth its $550 price tag. It's only 170mhz faster than the Q9550 but it costs $225 more than the Q9550. That's a huge ripoff. So go with the Q9550 instead. However, do note that the $325 Q9550 is only 10 to 15% faster than the $190 Q6600....

- As for the hard drive, ditch it and go with this cheaper, slightly faster and longer warrantied (5 years for Seagate VS 3 years for WD) Seagate hard drive:
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31000340AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - $125

- Video card wise, the HD4870 and GTX 260 are good choices for 1600x1200 and 1920x1200 gameplay. However if you want the absolute max settings at 1920x1200, go with the HD4870X2 and the GTX280.

EDIT: Addendum:

- Ditch the case and PSU combo as well. While that particular series of PSU is good, there still isn't 100% confirmation that PSU is actually good. So stick with a known brand. I recommend getting this case and this PSU:
Cooler Master Stacker 810 RC-810-KWN1-GP Full Tower ATX Case - $140
Corsair 750TX 750W PSU - $115
Total: $255 plus tax and shipping.

Same case but with a well known quality PSU.
Budget: around $0 to $3300 if it includes the whole box, a good monitor, tax, shipping and wiring. I can be convinced to be flexible and go higher with a good explanation. Having a computer that is great today and still reasonable 5-8 years from now is my goal, which is why I’m willing to pay so much. The box I’m working on now is 7 years old and has been great for upgrading over the years, but is finally too weak for what I do, especially with people wanting me to more media editing/production for them.

I’d like the biggest portion of the money to be spent in ways to maximize the computer’s life, hoping that a few upgrades will keep the same box running down the road. With the unpredictable future, I understand that this is difficult planning. Some say to build a box for what I need now and just replace it every 2 years, but I’d really rather just keep one for much longer.

Are there motherboards that do benefit from DDR3 compared to 2, or are they just still too early in development at this time?

I was thinking the same thing about your comment on the processor, but since it is a quad core, wouldn't it be effectively 170 MHz multiplied by 4 faster (680) in terms of how it will work with programs that make good use of quad-core technology or does it not work that way? I don't know much about this, so I could be very much wrong. I'm not so much defending it to be defiant, just asking for sake of reference.

The hard drive suggestion looks good. Are you using different vendors because of pricing? If so, thank you.

Still lost on the video card – lots of options to choose from. Of the models containing HD4870 and GTX260, which seem to match what I was looking for, or maybe I could answer some questions to zero in on a narrower range of cards? I’d like to eventually view Blu-Ray and broadcast HDTV video, still use my old Dell CRT monitor plus a newer one - duel display in either additive (different stuff on each) or redundant (same picture on each) if possible Sometimes it’s beneficial for me to switch – e.g. when helping a customer, having redundant would be good to view Winamp visualization, and additive would be good for having different windows shown on different monitors. Gaming at 16x12 doesn’t have to be maxed out for me – it could even be at a slightly lower resolution but still full screen.

Case and PSU: I'm glad you are willing to share your suggestions with the brand choice as I have no experience. Will 750 be enough? Amazon reviews look good, but I don't know if that model is 750 peak or consistent.

I’m still researching your suggested motherboards. It’ll take me a little longer, but I just wanted to post now after looking at everything else.

Still looking for a possible monitor.

Your input has been very valuable to me and I appreciate your time sharing it. It will be seriously considered. I'm sorry about being so verbose and will try to be more succinct.
Danny, as usual, offers excellent advice. The motherboard isn't responsible for DDR3's performance over DDR2 -- it's the entire Core 2 architecture. No matter what motherboard you buy, the performance / price ratio for DDR3 (when paired with a Core 2 processor) is quite poor and not worth considering unless you're an extreme OCer.

Your assumptions on quad core mhz performance are a bit off... Supposing a program can make use of four cores as well as it can make use of one, then yes, you would stand to see a 4x improvement. However, I know of no program in existence. Even the tasks best suited to multi-processor work require some overhead so that the scaling isn't 100%, and the vast majority of programs available today (including those mentioned in your initial post) won't make use of four cores at all.

Also keep in mind that architecture matters most. More so than number of cores, and more so than mhz. Say you're coming from a dual core 3ghz Pentium D (a hypothetical example,) which is basically two Prescott Pentium 4 put together. If you were to upgrade to a 1.5ghz Core 2 Duo, which is also dual core, you would still notice a substantial performance increase, despite the fact that you aren't increasing the number of processor cores and are subtracting the mhz by half. It's all because the Core 2 architecture makes the biggest difference.

Now on that same vane, if you compare a 3ghz Core 2 Quad for $550 vs a 2.6ghz Core 2 Quad for $280, you'll notice very little, if any difference in actual performance, as the architecture and # of cores are the same. If you encode video or do image processing work, you'll notice a small but appreciable performance benefit from 3ghz, but certainly nothing thats worth the extra $200+ dollars. For office, which can run fine on far lesser procs, or games, which are performance bound (in most case) from other hard ware, you won't notice a lick of difference.

Besides, if your target is 3ghz, you can OC a Q6600 or basically any cheap 45nm Quad (Q8XXX, Q9XXX) to 3ghz without a sweat, and in most cases, without even increasing voltage (which is where cooling and component lifetime need to be taken into account.)

For the video card -- I would recommend a GTX 280 or 4870 X2 if your target is 1920x1200. For 1600x1200, an ATI 3870 is your best choice, but you'll find it struggling to keep up if you upgrade your monitor. As for native res gaming, for me at least it's a must, especially considering the degradation in image quality that comes from running an LCD panel at lower than native res.

Note that only the video card chipset matters -- the actual vendor is less of a concern. If you go nVidia, EVGA is the most popular vendor for their excellent customer support and consumer step up program -- but XFX cards come with a more generous warranty. On the ATI side of the fence, VisionTek is lauded for their great service and excellent lifetime warranty.

I know I didn't cover everything, but I hope this helps... Good luck on your first build.
Once again, Markyip offers a very detailed and extremely useful advice. He's correct on everything except for one thing: He meant the HD4870 and not the HD3870 (At least I think so :))

Anyway to answer your questions (the ones that Markyip didn't answer I mean):

Yes I am using different vendors because of pricing. Always did like getting the lowest prices :)

Yes the Corsair 750TX is enough. It's rated at continuous, not peak. And speaking of PSU reviews, don't use Amazon reviews as a gauge for PSU reviews. The only sites that you should trust for PSU reviews are:

Never rely on user reviews when it comes to power supplies.

As for spending such a large sum of money in order to have a long lasting PC, that's a very very very poor plan. A $3300 PC doesn't last that much longer or perform that much better than a $2000 or even a $1500 PC. At most maybe a month or so. So those who said build a PC for what you need now and replace it every 2 years were completely right: You maintain a higher level of performance as well as adaptability and better cost-effectiveness. A $1500 PC two years from now will outperform a $3300 PC from today.
Thanks for catching my typo Danny :) Turned out to be a busier day at work than I had planned for, so I had to get that post in quickly.
Thanks for the advice/answers.

If the mobo says 1200 (but doesn't include any other numbers) for memory, can 1000 still work?

Which of these motherboards are most likely to support all the USB ports on the front of the case and another in the card reader? Or, could I get one of the lower priced ones and find there hubs or expansion card solutions to this issue?

Thanks again for your help and sorry for so many questions. I'm a first-timer at this but I'm learning a lot. At work (I'm a teacher as a day job) we have a good district tech director, but he was stolen from us by the US National Guard and sent to Iraq and wont be back for about a year. Go figure. Normally I'd bug him with this, but in his absence I have you to thank for giving me the good advice.
Yes DDR2 1000 RAM will still work. In fact so will DDR2 800 RAM. That DDR2 1200 RAM is just the fastest RAM that mobo can support. It can support all the lower speed RAM as well.

The GA-EP45-DS3R and every motherboard below has enough onboard USB ports support support the USB ports on the case and on a card reader. There are probably expansion cards that allows you to do this but I don't know of any off the top of my head.
Revised list with some questions:

Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R
$129.99 + $8.87 Shipping - $20.00 Rebate
It just looked like an overall good choice.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
$324.99; Free shipping
That’s about as low as I’m willing to go. I agree, $200 is a bit steep for the 3GHz. Cooler included.

G.Skill F3-1066CL9D-4GBPK
2 x $72.99; Free Shipping
I’d like to have the full 8 gigs of RAM if I choose these cards.


Would love the 4x4 gig:
$499.99; Free shipping
Would this give a significant boost to photo/video editng or would it slow too much stuff down because of the 800 speed, or is this just a ridiculous idea?

Corsair CMPSU-750TX
$114.01 - $20.00 Rebate; Free Shipping

Hard Drives:
SEAGATE Barracuda ST31000340AS
$126.99 + $7.42 Shipping
^Per your suggestion.
I have 4 more PATA hard drives – 2 for the mobo and 2 for the expansion card below.
If you think a Solid State would give much better load times for Windows and programs, I’d be willing to add one to this box.

Optical Drives:
$34.95; Free shipping
looks like a good fast reader/burner with light scribe, correct me if I’m wrong.

Video Card:
EVGA 01G-P3-1280-AR
$449.99 + $8.97 Shipping – $40.00 Rebate
Is this overkill for the stuff I mentioned (BF games, HD editing, duel display, max 1920x1200, but not while gaming)? I’m still very much willing to buy it if you think it’s what I should have, but also willing to go a little less if not necessary. I thought about the gaming, and I don’t even know if the BF series can be run at 1920x1200 – might just be forced into lower res.

PCI TV Card:
$49.99; Free shipping
Seems to fit what I want to do. Will it fit/any red flags here?

Fax Modem:
I have an old “Conexant HCF V90 56K Data Fax PCI Modem” which works well in my current dinosaur box. Vista Home Premium does not have fax software, but are there any recommended programs (free or inexpensive)?

Card Reader:
$54.99 + 8.97 Shipping
Includes floppy and lots of card reading. Will mobo support all the features of this? Seems pricey; are there reliable less expensive alternatives for floppy and card reading?

Extra PCI-E to PATA and eSATA:
Rosewill RC-216
$24.99 + 6.99 Shipping
The last one I wanted went out of stock. The included PATA cable might be too short to reach where the case requires my hard drives to be. One eSATA goes to a backup 1TB external HDD (already have) that goes with me to work and is stored there in a locking fire file cabinet.

Cooler Master RC-810-KWN1-GP
$139.99 + $24.99 Shipping
Per your suggestion.

I am just in the beginning stages of selecting one. I am looking for something that is at least:
-mildly good for photo/video editing
-at least 1920x1200
-at least 24”
-good for some angle viewing from both close and at a distance
-lacking of any red flags e.g. bad black consistency, unreliable brand, excessive light on the sides of the screen that can distract from what is meant to be seen, etc.
Any suggestions or questions to ask so that I can better decide would be appreciated.

Operating System:
Windows Vista Home Premium 64
$99.99; Free shipping

Other software is luckily given to me at work, as the school district allows us to have a copy at home.

I’m still curious as to whether I can get Creative’s EAX reverb/digital signal processing “environments” by just adding software to the motherboard’s audio, or if I have to get a separate sound card.

Do all the listed parts play well together? Is this a step in the right direction? I feel I’ve learned a lot from you guys and I’m a bit closer to the point where I’m confident enough to start buying, but not quite there yet.

A rough price estimate (Excel work including all listed shipping and some listed rebates, not including monitor, extra cables, or tax):
If I were to add a hypothetical 6% tax on it all it would be:

This is a much lower price than I expected, which is definitely ok, since it leaves room to easily buy a monitor, possibly a solid state drive, and unexpected hardware add-ons (wiring, etc.). I originally thought $3K+ for the box alone.

If you notice something that could be found elsewhere at a lower price, tell me. If you have sources that compare prices so that I could do it myself, also tell me.

If you made it this far, thanks; drinks are on me if I see you out somewhere.
Step in the right direction but still some minor problems:

- The first G.Skill RAM you linked to is DDR3 RAM and so cannot be used with that motherboard. Also, you wouldn't see an single ounce of performance increase with DDR3 RAM at whatever speed over current DDR2 RAM. In fact, most Core 2 Duo systems don't benefit much from even DDR2 800 RAM. But since DDR2 800 RAM is about the same price as DDR2-667 RAM (Which is all that you will technically need if you're never overclocking) and does allow for some overclocking, I recommend getting DDR2 800 RAM.

If you want the 4x4GB, go for it. Dunno if it will provide a significant boost to video editing and photshop but 16GB of RAM should last you for a few years. Though 16GB of RAM will allow you to use create a RAMDisk to use as a scratch disk for Photoshop. A RAMdisk will be MUCH faster than most hard drives out there.

- You said "BF games, HD editing, duel display, max 1920x1200, but not while gaming" I don't get that last part. Could you please clarify that? And BF2 and BF2142 does support 1920x1200 but BF2 requires some short-cut editing.

- As for your sound question, I have no idea.

- Current solid state drives aren't that much better than mechanical hard drives these days. Not worth buying IMO.
I'm not sure if it helps you at all, but I just got the DS3L, almost the same motherboard as the one you're looking at but missing hardware raid. With the included realtek sound drivers there are a few different environment mode type things. About six or so including stadium mode, brick room, etc. that basically just add varying levels of reverb. I've no experience with EAX, but perhaps this is similar?
16 Gigs of RAM will be useful for video and photo editing applications if they're 64-bit compiled, as 32-bit software can utilize 3 gigs of RAM at most, regardless of whether or not its running on a 64-bit operating system. Right now, Adobe CS3 is 32-bit only, which means that Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. can only make use of 3 gigs of RAM at a time. Adobe CS4, due out next month, will have a 64-bit version, and Lightroom 2 is 64-bit today.

Check to see if the software you use is 64-bit enabled. If so, you will see a noticeable performance benefit by having more than 4 gigs of RAM.
Again, thank you for the prompt and useful responses.

The link to DDR3 RAM was a mistake. I apologize.
I meant to link to this 2x2 gig DDR2 1000 stuff recommended by the first reply:
And, if I go this route, I would buy 2 pairs for 8 gigs unless someone talks me out of it.

CS4 and all the other releases that seem to be released every 7 seconds will probably be bought where I work and allowed to be used by me on my home computer for school publications, although I can always use it for non-school stuff too. I usually have more than one editing program open at once, too (one for simple edits, one for advanced, and one for arranging everything on a page with graphics and text).

@ noganlime - Yes, that's exactly what I am talking about. Creative EAX has many presets and allows you to adjust the settings and create new ones - settings like reverb, equalization, many effects found in guitar pedals, pitch shifting, etc.

Not all of the software I use currently is meant for 64 bit, but some does have the capability, and more will soon.

I doubt this will make much difference on a system like this, but I sometimes use Google Satellite/Maps and Google Earth for lessons. Will this system seem good for this? I'm guessing the biggest bottleneck to performance is the internet connection speed, but I'm not sure on this.

@ Danny Bui - I just meant that playing games in less-than-native resolution if the video card was slightly underpowered. I've never seen this on LCD though, only CRT, where it still looks good. If less-than-native looks too bad on LCD, maybe it's not a good idea to consider.

Perhaps I should step up to the 16GB RAM if you think my mobo will be ok with it and scrap the solid state drive idea.

Does my card reader support SDHC cards? I'm not sure, and Newegg doesn't say.

It sounds to me like all I have to do now is some pricing research and find a good monitor, unless another user catches something that the above posts didn't. I'd be welcome to any additional advice as I don't plan on buying until after a couple days of making sure I made all the right choices.

Thanks again to all.
Yes the system will be good for Google Satellite/Maps and Earth. The biggest bottleneck for those apps is in fact your internet connection.

The GTX280 is more than enough for many games at 1920x1200. However, if you're not a very very demanding gamer, then get the cheaper GTX260 or HD4870. You'll still be able to play at native res on a 24" with the cheaper cards but not at high settings.

Also, according to many, playing at less than native res on a LCD looks absolutely horrible. While I personally don't notice it, that is still something you should know.

As for the card reader, nope doesn't look like that card reader supports SDHC cards, at least according to the manufacturer's website. Don't have any card reader recommendations either.
Yeah, scaling on LCD screens just isnt meant to be. Always use its native resolution on LCD screens otherwise it just looks horrible. Oh and make sure you get a screen that is HDCP compatible that allows HDMI to DVI connections.

If you are doing alot of editing, do you have a backup process? If not, you might want to consider getting RAID 5 set up using 3-4 TB hard drives and maybe a RAID controller to avoid placing burden on the CPU, plus 2-3 TB is nothing these days. Plus it would offer better bandwidth.

An example:

Oh and ditch the 2 lower capacity IDE drives.

DVR, um i would go with or Waste less time messing around with it.

Use your current PC for floppy drive, it is not worth the hassle. And the same goes with the faxing.

Made a quick wishlist:

Now i am assuming the RAM works nicely with the CPU/Mobo. Do some research just to make sure.

I believe the PSU is more than sufficient when you are talking about x amount of devices.

I choose the Acer 24" cause its a gaming monitor, offers nice contrast ratio and repsonse time. Just check if it supports HDCP, which i believe it should.

I didnt choose motherboard because i haven't kept up to date on intel chipsets.

I went with 3x 1TB hdds for RAID 5 use or individual drives.

The 4870 offers hardware acceleration and the 1gig should be nice when editing.

Oh and case is personal preference.

I hope that helps alittle.
@ togenshi - It seems that no one has any 2x4GB or 4x4GB memory sticks in stock. That's frustrating. I'm glad you found a lower priced set though, which got me looking for more options with the same sticks in different kit sizes e.g. Amazon had a very low priced 4x4 but said 1-2 months. It seems your specific suggestion has the best timeline though, and I might go that route for that reason. Are Newegg's estimated timelines pretty accurate?

The 3.5 disc drive may very well just be better off staying in the old box, as it doesn’t have it’s own face plate (face plate is part of case on my old dell box). I don’t use it often just every once in a while when teachers & coaches use the old 3.5” digital cameras (yeah, it’s hard to believe those things are still out there…). I can use the old box to read and transfer to flash drive.

Faxing document files pdf's, image files, etc., unfortunately, is something I must do often and will be an important yet annoying little part of this box.

Your card reader choice looks very good. I would have wasted a lot of money on my previous choice as it didn't support SDHC and was overpriced. Thank you.

As far as the video card goes, will having 16 gigs of RAM make up for lower video memory (896MB on card linked later in post) in media editing?

Thanks for all the information on choosing the monitor, especially the connections/conversions. I didn’t expect it to be that inexpensive, which is nice. It was suggested on another forum that I should do some serious research on matching what I see on screen to what comes out of the printer.

The RAID controller you mentioned doesn't appear to support Vista, but I like your suggestion to use RAID, since my old way of backing up is to ghost or copy files to the external once in a while and store it at work (if my house burns down, my data is safe). Even with RAID, I still might do that but less often. The mobo I chose supports RAID 0/1/5/10.

You said you hoped your post helps a little. It didn’t. It helped a lot.

@ Danny Bui: Thanks for checking up on my last card reader choice - it would have been a huge waste of money.

I found an inexpensive GTX260 (EVGA 896-P3-1260-AR): $279.99 - $40.00 rebate; free shipping ($239.99 adjusted):
It looks pretty impressive for the price and if you think it’s a decent choice for 1920x1200 with non-max settings, this will be a good match for my preferences; and it includes Crysis.

Many thanks everyone that has posted so far! Without all this help I would be throwing much more money at dell and getting a lot less. Perhaps after learning, I too will able to help people in need.
The RAID controller you mentioned doesn't appear to support Vista, but I like your suggestion to use RAID, since my old way of backing up is to ghost or copy files to the external once in a while and store it at work (if my house burns down, my data is safe). Even with RAID, I still might do that but less often. The mobo I chose supports RAID 0/1/5/10.

Just to make this clear: RAID IS NOT BACKUP. Even RAID arrays can be corrupted and totally lost. Get an external hard drive if you want backup. RAID is for guaranteeing uptime, not backup.
I was a little unsure of that, since... well, if something bad is messing up one drive, wouldn't RAID just blindly do the same to the other? Since I feel data is more valuable than all of my hardware combined, it's probably best that I keep backing up with the 'my book' (external hd, already have) and storing it at work in my fire file. Work and home are far enough apart that even a nuclear bomb likely wouldn't harm both copies of data, not that I think someone would nuke where I live (middle of nowhere).

Will togenshi's suggested RAM sticks work with my board?

Other than that, everything look like it'll work together?
If you're using RAID 5, if one hard drive dies, the other two or more drives in the RAID array will be fine and with your data intact. However, RAID does not protect against viruses or accidental deletion of a file.

Togenshi's RAM should work.

Please post an updated list.
Updated build:

Motherboard = Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3R
129.99+8.87 ship -20.00 rebate 118.86 adjusted
a 250 gig and 120 gig PATA (already have) will be on the PATA plug.

CPU = Intel: model BX80569Q9550
319.99 free ship

CPU Cooler = Stock with CPU

RAM = OCZ: model OCZ2VU8008GK
2(189.99+6.99 ship) 393.96 adjusted
Thank you Danny Bui for confirming compatibility. Much appreciated.

PSU = Corsair: model CMPSU-750TX
103.74+can’t seem to find amazon shipping without placing order

Hard Drive = Seagate: model ST31000340AS
124.89+7.42 ship 132.31 adjusted

Video Card = EVGA: model 896-P3-1260-AR
279.99-40.00 rebate, free ship 239.99 adjusted

Case = Cooler Master: model Stacker 810
139.99+24.99 ship 164.98 adjusted

Optical = ASUS: model DRW-2014L1T
39.99 free ship

TV Card = KWORLD: model ATSC 120
49.99 free ship

Sound = Onboard, still curious about EAX.

Fax Modem = from old box, will try on new rig.

Networking = wired onboard; also already have NETGEAR WGR614 v7 & some 54Mbps Linksys USB sticks floating around the house on an old PC and Laptop.

Card Reader = Rosewill: model RCR-IC001
14.49 free ship

24.99+6.99 ship 31.98 adjusted
Would like to support 2 internal PATA drives on one wire, and eSATA external

Mouse/Keyboard = Keep old PS/2 versions.

Monitor = Acer: model X243Wbd
$349.99+22.47 ship 372.46 adjusted Black
I’m still early in the monitor shopping stage. I don’t know much about monitors at this point and might post in the monitor forum after doing some more research. Are there any stand-out red flags with this one?

OS = Vista Home Premium
99.99 free ship
(lacks fax feature that a huge price jump would get me, will look for other software hopefully.

Total including shipping and after deducting rebates:

Total after a hypothetical 6% tax if applicable:

Might need additional inexpensive wiring to complete the job, but otherwise it’s looking like I might be nearing the end of the search, at least on the box. I’m willing to wait a long time and work with you as much as necessary if you notice any problems, since I do not want to rush into something impulsive and inappropriate for what I want/need, but otherwise, I’ll start buying box parts in a couple days if you guys don’t notice any big problems.

Thanks again for the time, help, and support. Any pricing advice would be appreciated.
Thanks for the RAID explanation. I'm still new to RAID.

Any last thoughts on this build, or does it look like a "go"?
One minor hangup: Hit the HTPC forum we have to find out more TV Tuner recommendations. I don't see that TV tuner recommended at all there.
Careful some boards are picky with OCZ ram. Maybe just get 8gb ram. And intead of quad get e8400 or e8500. The money you save can be put towards a better quality monitor and/or modular power supply.
Wow- Send Danny Bui a percentage of that build cost- Seeing as he just helped you save over $1000 ;)
I really should. He (along with some others) had a lot of valuable input that made the project a lot more fitting to what I've been looking for. I'll easily add a good photo-edit grade (Non TN; something that would calibrate well with the printers) monitor for the amount of money I thought I would pay for the box alone.

I have since decided to upgrade the TV card, since I heard that KWORLD didn't make very good models. None of the box components had tax added, and shipping was very low because of the multiple-item order.

I went ahead and ordered all box components, but the RAM won't be available until September 30 (damnit), and I haven't researched enough to get the monitor yet. I was looking at the Dell 2709W - looks very impressive for the price, but have read a little regarding lag.

Thanks again to all who helped.
Quick bit about LCD monitors: if you want accurate reproduction of lower resolutions, check the specifications (or read tech reviews -- preferred) of the monitor you're getting and see if they have 1:1 pixel aspect ratio AND 4:3 ratio zooming. Great for old videos and games; I'm running Mechwarrior 4: Mercenaries using both features, and it's much sharper/clearer than when it's being stretched on my monitor (which is the default).
I'm not sure if I can get all of the case's 6 front USB ports to run. I have only 2 USB headers on the motherboard. I have one going to the card reader, and one going to two of the 6 front USB ports. Is there any way I can make use of the other four USB ports?

In other words, are there wires or hubs out there that I could buy and have inside the case that would work to split headers for more front USB use?

Or is there such a thing as a wire that goes from USB to USB header so that I could run it from rear USB ports to the header wires for the front plugs?

Also, I have an extra PCI-E slot - are there cards that I could put there that would give me some extra headers?
Yes, there are two options: PCI add-on card or USB A male to USB header cable

Yes, you could potentially put an external USB hub inside the case, if you wanted to.

Yes, its called a USB A male to USB header cable.

Yes, there are PCI-E add-on cards for more USB ports, but they typically only provide one internal header, if any header at all.

Which one do you want? and why do you need more than 3 front USB ports? :p
7 total up front is a bit of overkill, and 3 would be fine, but:

Since a few people will be using this workstation, I'd rather not deal with "wtf is wrong with your box?", etc.

Also, since I do a lot of photo work for a lot of fellow school personell, I tend to get stacks of pen drives when I'm working on a publication (newsletter, fall sports program, etc.), and I'd love to just pack a bunch of them in when I'm getting started to save time.

If I only ended up with just the 3, it would be fine, I'd maybe tape over the inactive ones, but I'd rather just make them work if possible.

I have 9 pin headers, and the case also uses a single plug for said 9-pin headers. Researching products has been very difficult, as I haven't found anything that will give me any kind of 9-pin header, either from PCI-E slot, or PCI slot, or routing from rear. Any product suggestions?
If I bought some of these:
I could possibly enable two more of the front USBs. I guess I would have to put the 5 pin male from the new wire into the 5-pin side of the female 9-pin plug on the case's wire. I would use two new wires from the back of the case to the inside-of-case wires, leaving the 4-pin half of each case wire alone.

This is an improvement, but could I possibly find a way to use that 4-pin side too?

The case wires' female plug ends look like this:

where 1&2 are USB +5V
3&4 are LP-
5&6 are LP+
7&8 are GND
X is a blocked pin hole (a pin wouldn't fit unless I somehow drilled a hole)
9 is labeled NC but appears to be just a plastic hole for an unused pin with no contacts in it.

The linked wire looks like this on the male header end:

1 Voltage +
2 Data -
3 Data +
4 Voltage -
5 Shielding

As you can see, the 5 pin looks like it would be fine in half of the 9 pin, but if I added another 5 pin, I would have to clip off the "Shielding" pin and/or somehow ground it. Is this ok to do, or is there a better option?

This option would cost $9.95 + possible shipping/tax times 4 possibly totaling $50+ from Performance-PC, or $23.60 + tax/shipping total from FRONTX.

I would pay it if I knew ahead of time that it would work. I have 8 USB ports on the back of the mobo, so I can afford to take 4 to reroute to the case front.

I haven't had any luck finding anything on Newegg to address this issue. I've also had no luck finding any PCI or PCI-E cards to give me USB headers.

Thank you for the links, it's definitely a step in the right direction, and if you have any more suggestions, advice or comments to my proposed solution, please post again. I'm rather new to this and could use all the help I could get.
... I would have to clip off the "Shielding" pin ...

Yes, this would work. I guess it would be best to ground it, but its not needed. Don't forget any USB header extensions, if any of your case cables are too short.
See my next post on page 3 for pictures.

Everything worked. I am now in USB heaven. I have several on my monitor (4 I think), 6 on my case front plus the one on my card reader, and although I used to have 8 on the back (motherboard), I'm now down to 4 because of the rerouting, which is fine, considering I have all the others.

This brings me to about 15, of which 11 are always easy access. That will be very handy when I'm collecting thumb drives for putting together articles and pictures for school publications.

I'll post some pictures of the system soon if you want. I still haven't gotten a fax modem for it yet (old one won't work in it), I haven't added the 3.5 floppy yet (might/might not), and I found that the ugly bottleneck of having one SATA hard drive will need to be fixed with at least one more in RAID.

I'm glad that I can now create DVD projects at home instead of work, even with clips from VHS cassettes and cam-corder cards - that's something I couldn't do before I had this box. Gaming in 1920x1200 will be a fun break from time to time, and CS4 (when we get it, haven't yet) will run faster than it will at work. Windows Media Center matched with the TV card is fun to mess with too.

Thanks for all the help; it is really appreciated.

See my next post on page 3 for pictures.
You're welcome :)

And yes we love to see pics of the PC.
You're welcome :)

And yes we love to see pics of the PC.

Srs. Pics fo sheez.

Also, I was wondering, the 750 can definitely, without question, support all those usb devices and the system itself? I thought usb devices, if they number close to 10 or so, can start adding a power draw enough that a larger PSU might be pertinent.
No pics yet? :(

... Also, I was wondering, the 750 can definitely, without question, support all those usb devices and the system itself? I thought usb devices, if they number close to 10 or so, can start adding a power draw enough that a larger PSU might be pertinent.

USB power usage:

Bus-powered hubs: Draw Max 100 mA at power up and 500 mA normally.
Self-powered hubs: Draw Max 100 mA, must supply 500 mA to each port.
Low power, bus-powered functions: Draw Max 100 mA.
High power, bus-powered functions: Self-powered hubs: Draw Max 100 mA, must supply 500 mA to each port.
Self-powered functions: Draw Max 100 mA.
Suspended device: Max 0.5 mA
USB voltage:

Supplied voltage by a host or a powered hub ports is between 4.75 V and 5.25 V. Maximum voltage drop for bus-powered hubs is 0.35 V from its host or hub to the hubs output port. All hubs and functions must be able to send configuration data at 4.4 V, but only low-power functions need to be working at this voltage. Normal operational voltage for functions is minimum 4.75 V.

So... thats 0.5A x 5V = 2.5W max power consumption per USB device. 2.5W x 10 = 25W. So, if your PSU doesn't have an extra 25W then I'd say your PSU is quite insufficient for your needs.