What to look for when needing hardware. READ FIRST

Not sure what to buy? Ask here for some free advice.

Moderator: The Mod Squad

What to look for when needing hardware. READ FIRST

Postby Peanya » Mon Nov 01, 2004 12:10 pm

This post is a basic guideline to assist you in choosing what hardware to buy. By no means is this post meant to replace the recommendations section, as you will find out when reading this. Please keep in mind what you will be using this computer for as well. Posting that when asking for additional advice can save you a lot of money, and can also help from wasting money on a part that would not benefit you.
Computer hardware is evolving on a daily basis. Knowing what to get can be quite daunting, hence this forum for help! There are some important things to consider when setting a budget. How stable do you want your system to be?
Many of us try to cut costs down and all too often; we suffer from reboots, crashes, and dead hardware. There are three very important areas of a computer that you never want to skimp on when purchasing: the power supply, the memory, and motherboard. And to an extent, in that order.
This will go over some basic guidelines that you can look for.

Power Supply - Sadly this is usually the component that's given the least amount of consideration in a computer, although it is one of the most important. A few years back, most 300W power supplies would work fine for nearly any computer you built. Today's CPU's rely on the 12 volt rail, whereas older ones relied on the 5 volt rail.
Don't just look at the total wattage! Look at the amps on the individual channels! As of this writing, it's recommended to look for a PSU that has over 22 amps on the 12V rail. Less than a year ago, most were saying 18A or less. That's roughly 50 more watts alone! As processors get faster, and video cards get more powerful, and we add more components, the more power we'll need.
Some good brands to look for are: PC Power and Cooling, Enermax, Antec, and Tagan. There are many other good brands out there, but these are about the highest quality you can get.

Memory - This is another area that causes many headaches. Many of us think, "Memory is memory" and are greatly mistaken. You have essentially 3 types: Value, regular, and performance. Regular memory is best for about 98% of us; people who will not overclock, and people who aren't looking for the fastest possible, but want a stable system. Value memory is designed to be cheap. It's usually made of chips that weren't good enough quality to make it for the regular memory. Although some people have had it work good, this is the type that causes the most problems that range from lock ups, crashes, non-booting computers. If you can afford to get regular line memory, do it. Don't get value just because it's cheaper. I'd only say get it if you just cannot afford better.
Performance memory is designed for the person who wants the absolute fastest. It's the only choice for overclockers. Sometimes this memory will go to speeds way beyond its designation.
There is only ONE brand of memory that I'll ALWAYS recommend: Crucial. It's the guaranteed-to-work-in-any-system memory. If your board doesn't boot with this, you have a bad board. There are many types of memory out, and some brands can be as good as and even better than Crucial. But the types change often. If you want performance memory, research a lot, and ask around.

The Motherboard - This is the tricky part. Granted, you want a board that will work with the CPU you have in mind, so you want to get the right socket type for your CPU. But even more important is the chipset. It's the traffic cop of the busiest intersection in the world.
The thing about motherboards is they are constantly evolving and changing. Even quality from year to year can change dramatically. So don't always assume that Brand A is great because older ones were. It's best to look past the marketing hype and look at the features you will actually use. Look for issues that might be of concern to you. Usually cheaper motherboards will have fewer features, but some are also lesser quality.
Research, patience, and asking a LOT of questions can pay off here. Also check out the manufacturer's site and look for quality and support cues. Do they make it easy to get service? Are the BIOS updates explained? Are there too many indicating poor product design? Some BIOS updates are ok, like 4 or 5. If you see just 1 or 2 (if an older board), or 15 then it's time to worry.

Video Cards - Here's a subject, which gets the biggest debates among gamers. Prices also range very widely, from under $30 to over $500! It all depends on what your uses are. If you won't be running any graphic intensive applications, you don't need the top of the line card; a $50 model can get the job done ok. If you might use it for some old games, then a mid level card might be in order. I'm not going to go into brands or models. When looking for a card, you will get a LOT of opinionated answers. Sometimes, the top of the line isn't the best value; sometimes its little brother gives you 98% of the performance for 20% (100 dollars or more!) less price.

Hard Drives - There are many good brands, and the technology among them is very similar. Currently there are 2 types for home computers: IDE and SATA. Eventually SATA will be the big performance hard drive for computers. As of this time, there really isn't an advantage except the ones that have a higher rotation speed.
Many people buy 2 HD's and put them in RAID0 for more performance, but many studies have proved that you don't get more unfortunately. If you want 2 hard drives, use one as a storage or back up drive.

Optical Drives - CD, CD/RW, DVD, DVD+/-RW, etc... For burners, look for larger buffers and buffer under run technology. For players, the faster the speed the sooner the data gets to your computer. There are many brands and quality does vary a little bit. There aren't too many feature differences either. A couple quick questions will work usually.

Cases - There are too many brands to list! Quality varies from steel to aluminum to acrylic. My recommendations are to look for one that has good airflow, and is easy to work on. If it comes with a power supply (fewer and fewer are these days thankfully!) make sure to get the specs (see above) and know what you're getting is worth it.

All other peripherals - This includes sound cards, mice, keyboards, floppies, external drives, monitors, etc... This has lots of personal preferences, and if this is where money can be saved vs. saving on memory. I'd rather get a $20 mouse and put the extra $40 into memory vs. putting that money into a $60 one.

Did I forget the CPU? Nope! Most people have preferences to a brand for some reason or other, and I'm not going to start recommending a brand for many of these reasons. However, there are some basic guidelines that do apply to ANY CPU. Speed- Only judge performance of a CPU's speed when you are comparing the same line; an AMD Sempron's performance rating does not correspond to the AMD XP or AMD 64's performance rating. This also goes true when comparing different manufacturers.
In general, the larger the cache and the higher clock among a specific line means more performance. CPU's will be going through a lot of changes in the next year or two, so asking what's the best for your specific needs is in order.
Peanya
Black Belt 5th Degree
Black Belt 5th Degree
 
Posts: 6055
Joined: Fri Feb 07, 2003 7:43 pm

Postby Sabrewings » Mon Nov 01, 2004 12:59 pm

To clarify with CPU comparisons, clock speed is by no means a way to measure a CPU's performance. A 2.2ghz AMD Athlon64 beats a 3ghz Pentium 4.

Simply look at reviews, benchmarks on a wide variety of calculations (not simply this game or that game), and most of all the cost for what kind of performance you get.
Sabrewings
Mobo-fu Master
Mobo-fu Master
 
Posts: 18948
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2004 3:04 am
Location: Barksdale AFB, LA

Postby snakebite66 » Mon Nov 01, 2004 1:16 pm

Sabrewings wrote:To clarify with CPU comparisons, clock speed is by no means a way to measure a CPU's performance. A 2.2ghz AMD Athlon64 beats a 3ghz Pentium 4.

Simply look at reviews, benchmarks on a wide variety of calculations (not simply this game or that game), and most of all the cost for what kind of performance you get.


I second this concerning the AMD clock speeds and Intels...

I find Google (or any other search engine) is you friend, when I am thinking of a purchase I look up all the reviews and comparisons...do the homework then when you think you have narowed it down post here for that final recommendation
"Take counsel in wine, but resolve afterwards in water."
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
snakebite66
Black Belt 2nd Degree
Black Belt 2nd Degree
 
Posts: 2089
Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2002 5:18 pm
Location: West Midlands UK

Postby snap355 » Mon Nov 01, 2004 1:51 pm

I third with the CPU speeds. Just don't judge a book by its covers or speed
snap355
Black Belt 5th Degree
Black Belt 5th Degree
 
Posts: 9258
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2004 3:22 pm
Location: 33258

Postby HaloCorn » Tue Aug 22, 2006 4:51 pm

snap355 wrote:I third with the CPU speeds. Just don't judge a book by its covers or speed

Yeah, the only reason Intel still get as much sells as they do is because of thier clock speeds which is higher then AMD's but AMD provides more performance.
GIGABYTE GA-M57SLi S4
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
6 gigs o' Ocz reaper pc6400 (2x1gb 2x2gb)
2x Nvidia 8800GT 512MB Fact. OC'ed
3xWD 500Gb 16mb cache sata2
MX518
G15
IceMat Siberia Headset
650 W PSU
Gigabyte 3D Mars (case)
Acer AL2223W (monitor)
Windows Vista 64-Bit SP1
HaloCorn
Brown Belt
Brown Belt
 
Posts: 369
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2005 8:40 am
Location: Oregon

Postby TheNeophyte » Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:27 am

HaloCorn wrote:
snap355 wrote:I third with the CPU speeds. Just don't judge a book by its covers or speed

Yeah, the only reason Intel still get as much sells as they do is because of thier clock speeds which is higher then AMD's but AMD provides more performance.


I see it now so AMD performs well compare to intel? Excuse me which one is lower on price? AMD OR INTEL?
TheNeophyte
Initiate
Initiate
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:16 pm
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Postby thomas_w_bowman » Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:33 am

I see it now so AMD performs well compare to intel? Excuse me which one is lower on price? AMD OR INTEL?

Which CPU's are you comparing, don't forget the multicore issue and the debates about exactly how useful more than 2 cores are for a personal PC (clearly helpful for a server in a business environment)...
The competition means that the price:performance points are always changing - even just afew weeks after selecting "the best" it can become 'older technology'. I love the competition :D .
Better living thru technology...
"Open the Pod Bay Doors, HAL..."
Join Folding team #: 33258
thomas_w_bowman
Black Belt 2nd Degree
Black Belt 2nd Degree
 
Posts: 2883
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2003 2:59 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Postby TheNeophyte » Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:53 am

I am comparing AMD and Intel, which one is chepest I mean affordable and reasonable price. Please do let me know the downside of AMD and Intel. And what is available(Maximum) clock speed of Intel Processor and AMD.

I need to know based on your experienced, so that I will not regret it in the end. I am aware of the drawback of the technology, if new tech. was introduce of course the other one would definately depreciate. But At least you won't regret.
TheNeophyte
Initiate
Initiate
 
Posts: 37
Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:16 pm
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Postby mr newbie » Sun Feb 15, 2009 10:35 pm

For comparing various benchmarks between cpus, Anandtech has a neat little interactive chart in beta form......

http://anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?b=2
mr newbie
Black Belt
Black Belt
 
Posts: 936
Joined: Sun Apr 18, 2004 3:22 am
Location: PA, US

tnx

Postby McDaniel » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:01 am

:D thanks for the useful topic & discussion, it helped me a lot
McDaniel
Pilgrim
Pilgrim
 
Posts: 2
Joined: Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:13 pm

Next

Return to Recommendations

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest