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New WoW Machine
08-09-2005, 05:30 PM
Post: #21
New WoW Machine
Pete,Aug 8 2005, 01:07 PM Wrote:Hi,

I just realized that Blizzard has been dominating my computer choices.  I built a pair of machines in '97 for Magi and I to play Diablo.  They served well till Diablo II came out and I built a new pair in 2000 for that.  The dearth of games that appealed to us mean that we haven't upgraded since.

Well, the machines I built for D2 are too weak to play WoW, so it is time for me to ramp up my knowledge of computers one more time.  I've been surfing for a few days now and have some ideas in mind.  When I decide on the components that I think will work, I'll publish the list here for additional comments and suggestions. For now, I'm really only interested in two questions:

I have a Mad Dog Predator Blastwave 5.1 sound card that came bundled with a speaker system I once bought.  Does anyone know anything (good or bad) about this card?

Second question is more fundamental.  I've built a number of systems for myself and for others over the years.  Only once did I use an AMD processor, and that system gave me fits from when it first came up till I shut it down for good.  So, one might say I'm an 'Intel man'.  However, it looks to me that going with AMD would get me a lot more bang for the buck.  The specs look good, the reviews are positive, etc., etc.  So, is AMD a viable way to go?  I'm leaning toward it.

--Pete
[right][snapback]85514[/snapback][/right]



Forget all this secondary crap. THE most important piece of HW you can get is a comfortable computer chair. Make sure it's an Intel chair though....


-A
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08-09-2005, 07:41 PM
Post: #22
New WoW Machine
Hi,

Ashock,Aug 9 2005, 09:30 AM Wrote:Forget all this secondary crap. THE most important piece of HW you can get is a comfortable computer chair. Make sure it's an Intel chair though....
-A
[right][snapback]85610[/snapback][/right]


And a comfortable "work" station with plenty of room for soda and pizza. With maybe a little left over for a Post-It pad and pencil ;)

Done. And done.

--Pete


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08-10-2005, 02:01 AM
Post: #23
New WoW Machine
Hi,

If these were to be work computers, I'd completely agree with you. As these are going to be game machines, the failure of a storage system is not a big deal. Or at least it is not to me. I'm very good at weekly backups. I can restore all the software from original media, or the backed-up download files. And the loss of one week's 'work' in building a character just means I get another chance to do it better. I've had hard drives go south on me before. I survived then, I'll probably survive again.

It is true that doubling the drives (almost) doubles the probability of failure. However, modern drives have very high MTBF ratings. Given the usage a gaming drive gets (as opposed to, say, a data server drive), the probability of failure, even when doubled, is negligible.

The one thing that did worry me from your post was the lack of performance benefit. Since I can get a larger drive cheaper (in most cases and in the 200-300 GB range) than I can two drives half its size, I would be wasting my money going with RAID 0. However, the test you linked to did not convince me.

My search on the internet had led me to a few people claiming that RAID 0 did nothing for their performance. However, the more technically competent accounts run more like this one. If you don't care to read the whole article, just scan the test results (they actually begin in the section 'Test Configuration'.) It appears that RAID 0 gives about 80 to 90% performance boost over a single disk.

But then I found another well written and apparently technically competent review located here. The interesting thing about this review is that it agrees with both the general performance boost and the failure to boost game performance.

Overall, I'd say I'm convinced and will go with a larger single drive.

Thanks for the heads up. I only wish I knew what was going on here.

--Pete


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08-10-2005, 02:55 AM
Post: #24
New WoW Machine
Pete,Aug 9 2005, 07:01 PM Wrote:Thanks for the heads up.  I only wish I knew what was going on here.
[right][snapback]85633[/snapback][/right]

Throughput is only one factor in performance of drives. Also the sorage subsystem is not the most important factor in loading of levels and such. There is more than raw transfer going on. There are memory accesses, decompression of compressed files, etc...

This follows true in this review of a 4GB RAM drive:
http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc...i=2480&p=8

Yes there is an improvement, throughput is slightly higher than a RAID 0 setup (130-150 MB/sec) but access times are reduced by more than an order of magnitude. That resulted in some significant gains, but people were expecting 50+% reductions in loading times but only got about 20% or so on average.

THe bottom line is that there are other factors involved in loading up games and programs than raw throughput. Access time is important, and factors not related to the storage subsystem are important.

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08-10-2005, 10:51 PM (This post was last modified: 08-10-2005 10:53 PM by --Pete.)
Post: #25
New WoW Machine
Hi,

"And the winners are . . . "

Not really. This is the list as I have it for now. I'll probably make the final cut on Sunday and order everything then. Until then, I've got a bunch of stuff that's piled up that will soak up my time. And, no, they are not giving Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS away. Since there is an on board MIDI/Game interface, I've just decided to go with the on board audio for now. Simple enough to get the sound cards later if there turns out to be a need. The links are to the best price vendors I've found so far. As much as possible, the prices include S&H.

OS:
Windows XP Home w/SP2
$81.00
http://www.bestbargainpc.com/index.asp?Pag...TS&Category=230

Case:
Skyhawk AL-ATX4377DT-BK All Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Case, Black
$47.38
http://www.dealsonic.com/sk43allalatx.html

Power Supply:
Rexus SPX-600 ATX 600W P4 Power Supply w/ 15cm Fan, 24pin, and SATA
$87.58
http://www.dealsonic.com/respatx60p4p.html

Motherboard:
ASUS A8N-E
$112.00
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetai...iate=pricewatch

CPU:
Athlon 64 3800+ (Socket 939)
$310.00
http://store.yahoo.com/pcmemory-stores/c...64939.html

CPU cooler:
Thermaltake Silent 939 K8 CL-P0200
$36.00
http://www.thermaltake.com/goldenorb2.htm

Memory:
Kingston KIN-KVR400X64C3A/512 400MHz DDR (2 sticks for 1 GB)
$94.98
http://www.3gplaza.com/estore/control/Comp...etails?id=31822

Video:
eVGA GeForce 6600 GT / 128MB DDR / PCI Express / DVI / TV-OUT / Video Card
$152.00
http://www.bestbargainpc.com/index.asp?Pag...ROD&ProdID=3141

Sound card:
Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS (OEM)
$0.00
http://www.wiredzone.com/itemdesc.asp?ic=3...809&source=Cnet

HD:
Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 (ST3300831AS) 300 GB Hard Drive
$153.00
http://www.bestbargainpc.com/index.asp?Pag...earch=GO&Page=1

DVD-RW:
NEC ND-3540A
$44.00
http://www.pcmicrostore.com/PartDetail.asp...03079&kbid=1173

Floppy:
Sony 1.44 FLOPPY W/BLACK BAZEL
$8.50
http://www.bestbargainpc.com/index.asp?Pag...ROD&ProdID=1479

The total comes to $1126.44US. That leaves me about $100US to play with, and I might just use it to increase the memory to 2GB.

Any comments, suggestions, etc., more than welcome. Keep in mind the two constraints: this is strictly a game machine and I've only budgeted $2500US for the whole deal (i.e., 1250 per machine).

--Pete


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08-10-2005, 11:31 PM
Post: #26
New WoW Machine
Pete,Aug 10 2005, 03:51 PM Wrote:The total comes to $1126.44US.  That leaves me about $100US to play with, and I might just use it to increase the memory to 2GB.
--Pete
[right][snapback]85687[/snapback][/right]


Prepay for 6 months of WoW ;-)


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08-10-2005, 11:38 PM
Post: #27
New WoW Machine
Don't take this the wrong way or anything...

But a floppy drive? Why? What on earth still needs a floppy drive?

All alone, or in twos,
The ones who really love you
Walk up and down outside the wall.
Some hand in hand
And some gathered together in bands.
The bleeding hearts and artists
Make their stand.

And when they've given you their all
Some stagger and fall, after all it's not easy
Banging your heart against some mad buggers wall.

"Isn't this where...."
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08-10-2005, 11:44 PM
Post: #28
New WoW Machine
Doc,Aug 10 2005, 07:38 PM Wrote:Don't take this the wrong way or anything...

But a floppy drive? Why? What on earth still needs a floppy drive?
[right][snapback]85697[/snapback][/right]

Helps with Drivers sometimes. Most Motherboard RAID and SATA configurations require a driver install during WinXP install - the infamous F6 drivers. Without a floppy, good luck.

Trade yourself in for the perfect one. No one needs to know that you feel you've been ruined!
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08-11-2005, 12:24 AM
Post: #29
New WoW Machine
Hes "old school". There is an appropriate use of the cliche.
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08-11-2005, 01:27 AM
Post: #30
New WoW Machine
Hi,

Ashock,Aug 10 2005, 03:31 PM Wrote:Prepay for 6 months of WoW ;-)
-A
[right][snapback]85694[/snapback][/right]
I guess I worked for the government too long. That, as they say, comes out of a different budget. :P

--Pete


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08-11-2005, 01:32 AM (This post was last modified: 08-11-2005 01:33 AM by --Pete.)
Post: #31
New WoW Machine
Hi,

I have found floppies to be useful when building a system. I can usually boot to a version of DOS with them and use them to flash all the appropriate updates to all the firmware.

After that, they mostly decorate the case front. Usually, I need to WD-40 them by the time the next use comes around. :)

--Pete


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08-11-2005, 11:43 AM
Post: #32
New WoW Machine
Floppies are great for holding cookies ... chocolate chip cookies , and stand in coasters :D I use floppies for dropping mail on sometimes , then I normally lose them .

Great job on budgeting Pete ! I suppose theres more satisfaction in building from the ground up , rather than what I ended up doing :whistling: , and I won't do any "plugging" for my machine !

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08-11-2005, 01:58 PM
Post: #33
New WoW Machine
You need to add $10 to the video card so you have a DVI to VGA convertor since you said you don't have any digital displays right now.

It looks like the motherboard comes with a SATA cable so you should be good there.

I'm not familar with that powersupply manufacturer. Powersupplies are very important to running a system and can contribute to system instability. I simply haven't taken the time to check for reviews on that brand yet so your choice might be just fine.

Everything else looks just fine. A8N-E has very solid onboard sound as well.

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08-11-2005, 03:13 PM
Post: #34
New WoW Machine
Gnollguy,Aug 11 2005, 08:58 AM Wrote:You need to add $10 to the video card so you have a DVI to VGA convertor since you said you don't have any digital displays right now.
[right][snapback]85731[/snapback][/right]

Sales page says its included.
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08-11-2005, 03:31 PM
Post: #35
New WoW Machine
Hi,

TaMeOlta,Aug 11 2005, 03:43 AM Wrote:Great job on budgeting Pete ! I suppose theres more satisfaction in building from the ground up , rather than what I ended up doing  :whistling:  , and I won't do any "plugging" for my machine !
[right][snapback]85722[/snapback][/right]

Thanks, but really there's little budgeting involved. Simply make a list of all the items needed. Then find the best price for the 'fixed' items (case, PS, OS, floppy, DVD, and to some extent HD and memory). Then simply balance how much to put into the CPU and video card. Stepwise upgrade or downgrade these last two until you hit your price point. Mostly it's a matter of google-fu. :)

And, yes, it is a pleasure to gain or regain some measure of computer literacy and know that the system you have assembled is very nearly the best deal you could make at the time. Those that say you don't save by building your own are often comparing the apples of top component choices to the oranges of 'similar specs'. For a better comparison, use AlienWare or Falcon to 'build' a similar system. The savings are considerable.

And, of course, by building your own, you have all the manuals, etc., that permit you to maintain the system, and even recover from total disaster. With a little on line searching, you even have the ability to tune your system for maximum performance. Not to mention the knowledge of what's what when you open the case.

Franky, for a home or gaming system I can think of no downside to 'rolling your own'. :)

--Pete


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08-11-2005, 03:33 PM
Post: #36
New WoW Machine
Hi,

Drasca,Aug 11 2005, 07:13 AM Wrote:Sales page says its included.
[right][snapback]85734[/snapback][/right]
Actually, it is a bit confusing, since they do seem to say that it is included and yet offer it as an accessory. For a minor item like that, I'll just hold off and if I need it I'll hit my local CompUSA.

-Pete


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08-11-2005, 04:23 PM (This post was last modified: 08-11-2005 04:25 PM by --Pete.)
Post: #37
New WoW Machine
Hi,

Gnollguy,Aug 11 2005, 05:58 AM Wrote:I'm not familar with that powersupply manufacturer.  Powersupplies are very important to running a system and can contribute to system instability.  I simply haven't taken the time to check for reviews on that brand yet so your choice might be just fine.
[right][snapback]85731[/snapback][/right]
Yep, I'm a little concerned about that PS, too. Its specs look good with the power in the places where it's needed and all the right features. When I googled (Rexus "power supply" review 600W), I found a few valid reviews and, except for a low +12VDC on one unit, it seem to do alright. If I get cold feet, I might just go with the thermaltake if I can find one at the right price. I like the company, but the PS is a little gimmicky for me with its 'front' panel and cable arrangement (I find that judicious use of cable ties arranges cables quite well enough). Also, it is a 500W supply, a little on the low side for my taste. The additional 160W of the Rexus might compensate for some lack of stiffness. Since I can't find published compliance curves, I just tend to err by over specifying.

If you (or anyone else reading this post) know of a PS maker that you like, let me know. Nothing is written in stone till the orders go in. :)

--Pete


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08-11-2005, 04:26 PM
Post: #38
New WoW Machine
::Drool::

If I were to build a machine today what you have comes very close to my choices for price and performance.

My only advice would be to try to see the case somewhere, because I could not find any description of the thickness of the aluminum used. Some aluminum cases these days are "foil" thin, and simply bumping the case would dent it.

"I love your soul, oh liquid ebony, The clouds of your aromatic vapors, which burst in a embellished cruse, When boiling of your grains makes me a tenant of entire globe; Here you rest in white porcelain, Daughter of Arabic deserts, black coffee!" - Antoni Lange
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08-11-2005, 05:03 PM
Post: #39
New WoW Machine
Hi,

kandrathe,Aug 11 2005, 08:26 AM Wrote:My only advice would be to try to see the case somewhere, because I could not find any description of the thickness of the aluminum used.  Some aluminum cases these days are "foil" thin, and simply bumping the case would dent it.
[right][snapback]85742[/snapback][/right]
Good point. Can't even find that model listed on the manufacturer's site. Could be discontinued or surplus from a special order. Since these computers will be pretty well protected in a cubbyhole and built right next to where they will be used, I could probably live with aluminum as thin as 0.8mm. And if they look too flimsy when they get here, I'll just take the shipping and restocking hit and get something else.

However, if you know of a good aluminum case without power supply, I'd be happy to look at it. I'd like not to spend more than about $70 (including shipping) for a case. As long as it has good cooling and enough structure to hold the components, I don't really need much more.

As an aside, when I built the '97 systems for Diablo, I bought very light weight steel cases. So light weight that the sides resonated with the fans. Since a continuous dull bass note did *not* improve the gaming experience, I glued wood stiffeners to the inside of the case's side. Problem 'solved'. ;)

--Pete


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08-11-2005, 05:15 PM
Post: #40
New WoW Machine
I'm not sure if you require aluminum or not. The ones I use are more like http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?...N82E16811156018.

I have it set up such that the air flows from the side right over the hard drive and video card, then up and out the back.

"I love your soul, oh liquid ebony, The clouds of your aromatic vapors, which burst in a embellished cruse, When boiling of your grains makes me a tenant of entire globe; Here you rest in white porcelain, Daughter of Arabic deserts, black coffee!" - Antoni Lange
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