Help me buy a tower SOON!

Discussion in 'Computing & Gaming Discussions' started by NickRummy, Jul 2, 2007.

  1. Ok everyone, I have a lot of experience using computers and doing minor upgrades like RAM, power supply installs, drive replacements and things of that nature but I haven't been in the market to buy a new tower in a long time (over 7-8 years) and now the time has come.

    I already have a monitor so all I need is the tower.

    I use AutoCAD and some rendering software on the side so it'll have to handle that. I have the minimum specs I want but what is starting to confuse me is this new windows vista, this newer dual processor setup and i'm unfamiliar with video cards. I'm not sure what to get and what is bad and good. I have XP now and like it and I have an AMD processor I've had for 7-8 years that has ran like a champ so I definitely like AMD.

    Here is what I THINK I need as far as specs. I'd like to stay at $500 and below for the tower. (without knowing much about the processors, vista and video card)

    Processor AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+(2.2GHz)
    Processor Main Features 64 bit Dual Core Processor
    Cache Per Processor 2 x 512KB L2 Cache
    Memory 1GB DDR2
    Hard Drive 160GB SATA
    Optical Drive 1 DVD-Dual drive (DVD+/-RW)
    Graphics NVIDIA GeForce 6100
    Ethernet Gigabit LAN
    Power Supply 250-watt power supply
    Keyboard USB multimedia keyboard
    Mouse optical mouse
    Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium
    CPU Type Athlon 64 X2
    Installed Qty 1
    CPU Speed 4200+
    L2 Cache Per CPU 2 x 512KB
    CPU Main Features 64 bit Dual Core Processor
    GPU/VPU Type NVIDIA GeForce 6100
    Graphics Interface Integrated video
    Memory Capacity 2GB DDR2
    Memory Spec 1GB x 2
    Memory Slots (Available/Total) 2/4
    Maximum Memory Supported 4GB
    Hard Drive
    HD Capacity 320GB
    HD Interface SATA
    HD RPM 7200rpm
    Optical Drive
    Optical Drive Type DVD±RW
    Optical Drive Spec DVD-Dual drive (DVD+/-RW)
    Audio Chipset Integrated
    Modem 56K. V92
    LAN Chipset Integrated
    LAN Speed 10/100/1000Mbps
    Front Panel Ports
    Front USB 4
    Front Audio Ports 2
    Card Reader 9-in-1 card reader
    Back Panel Ports
    COM 1
    LPT 1
    PS/2 2
    VGA 1
    Rear USB 4
    Rear IEEE 1394 1
    RJ45 1 port
    Rear Audio Ports 6 ports
    S/P DIF 1
    PCI Slots (Available/Total)
    Mouse Type Optical mouse
    Keyboard Type USB multimedia keyboard
    Physical Spec
    Dimensions 14.6" x 17.9" x 7.2"
    Manufacturer Warranty
    Parts 1 year limited
    Labor 1 year limited
  2. Might be tough to get below 500 with the OS (vista) and the upgrade graphics card. I have had my best luck checking tigerdirect often for barebones/no-os builds. Make sure that you go the the manufacturers site for the motherboard to ensure that all you need is present -- like an internal USB and/or firewire port for connection to the front panel, connections for enough fans (cpu, front, back, etc.), support desired memory, etc.

    Also, you might want to bump your specs for the power supply. That's a lot of stuff to push with only 250w. I would go 400+.

    Jumping to vista is fine, but make sure that all of your important apps and hardware (printers) work with it. I currently have a four year old color laser that HP decided to not upgrade the drivers. Their answer? Upgrade your printer.

  3. The biggest issues I see with the system you have posted are the slow 4200 ddr2 ram and the 6100 on board graphics. The slower ddr2 ram will be a little bit of a weak link although nothing unbearable. That system can run memory at 733 (using PC6400 or faster) without an overclock but the included ddr2 will only run at 489 (thanks to the stupid memory dividers and the onboard memory controller on AMD chips). The 6100 onboard graphics will be the bare minimum for running vista premium and will be weak for a lot of rendering programs. Upgrading the video might be problematic if the included power supply is as weak as I assume it is.

  4. Thanks a lot for the reply Steve.

    Is it a good price for what it is? Im starting to see I won't be getting what I should be getting for what I do but I'll have to deal with that.

    I can almost promise the power supply is 250w which I'm sure is bare minimum. So to upgrade the video card in the future I would have to buy a video card and probably a 400w power supply?

    If I wanted to go up to memory running at 733 I have to replace all the memory with newer 733 memory right?
  5. Here is a dell I did a quote build online for. Came to $609. I could save $50 if I cut back to a 128mb vid card....

    My Components
    AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 Dual-Core 4400+
    Genuine Windows Vista™ Home Premium
    No Monitor
    1GB Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz- 2DIMMs
    160GB Serial ATA Hard Drive (7200RPM) w/DataBurst Cache™
    16x DVD+/-RW Drive
    256MB ATI Radeon X1300 Pro
    Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio
    Dell USB Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
    No Floppy Drive Included
    56K PCI Data Fax Modem
    My Software & Accessories
    No speakers (Speakers are required to hear audio from your system)
    No Security Subscription (30-day trial)
    Microsoft Works 8. DOES NOT INCLUDE MS WORD
    Starter pack - Yahoo! Music, Corel Photo and Dell Games
    My Service
    1 Yr In-Home Service, Parts + Labor - Next Business Day
    Free 3GB DataSafe Online Backup for 1Year
    6 Months of America Online Membership Included
    Also Includes
    Award Winning Service and Support
    Mouse included in Dell Wireless Package
    Music Jukebox by Yahoo! Music - Basic music software
    Corel Snapfire Basic - Organize and Edit your photos
    Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 7.0
    Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
    Windows Vista™ Premium
  6. First of all I screwed up on the memory speeds in my earlier post. I forgot the 4400+ ran at 2.3Ghz and not 2.2 so it'll run DDR2-800 at 767 and DDR2-533 at 511. To run the memory at 767 you'd buy DDR2-800 memory and it would run at slightly less than it's max stable speed at it's normal voltage. The difference between running it at 767 and 800 is nothing to worry about but with AMD processors you do want them running memory at as close to 800 as you can since they do get a performance gain (Intel's chips currently are not as dependent on memory speeds so cheaper DDR2-533 is fine for them unless you overclock the fsb to over 267).

    For what you need it might be better to just build from scratch. Check out For your cpu and harddrive they have a combo deal on the AMDx2 4600+ and a 320gb Westen Dig drive for $160. That plus 2GB of Adata DDR2-800 memory ($80 give or take a few dollars depending on the day) a mobo with decent on board video, sound etc. (the Gigabyte GA-M61-S3 for ~$80 or if you want to spend less, the old cheap standby ECS 6100SM-M for $50), an 18x dvd burner from sony/nec or pioneer for $35, a coolermaster centurion case (~$ 50 or less for the Elite model) or a cheap Antec case if you find one on sale and a good cheap 400W power supply from FSP ($50) should bring you in at around $500. If you need an operating system you can pick up either XP or Vista Premium for right around $100. If you want or need to upgrade the video you can usually pick up a 7900GS for near $100 which is a decent card and not a power hog. That would be pretty much in line price wise with the Dell system (plus a faster cpu, twice the ram and HDD space) and should lend itself to easier upgrade paths.

    Intel will be cutting the prices of their processors on July 22 and AMD will be forced to lower their prices as well so you might want to wait until around then to build anything if you decide to go that route. You might be able to find some good deals tomorrow or this week end as well with the July 4th sales.

  7. Thanks again steve. The memory thing wasn't making sense at first but makes sense now. I really want to get something for Thursday. I have some work I need to do and would REALLY like to have the new computer up and running tomorrow.

    I was thinking I might be able to get a deal on something being the 4th like you mentioned.

    I thought about building but I have never done it before and to be honest if something goes wrong I would have no idea what to do. I rather get a pre-built and have a warranty instead of having to pull parts and send them out for warranties.

    Is there a good retail store to check out for computers? CompUSA? Staples? etc...
  8. As a little extra advice , I have been building computers for 12 years now. There is a lot of good and bad advice that goes on any discussion board about PC s. Even though these are not what I call glamorous components they are very important in how well your pc will perform.
    1. The Case - this is the chassis for all your parts do not economize here. It should be large enough to allow ample air flow. It should also be contructed well enough to withstand the inevitable mishaps.
    2. The Power Supply - I consider this THE most important part. You want one that will deliver good "clean "power. That is DC voltage without AC spikes and dips. There are several websites dedicated to the importance of this often overlooked critical piece of hardware. Most major manufacturers of PCs use inadequate power supplies and some of them use downright garbage.
    3. mother or main board - the best comes from one of these fine manufacturers Abit , Asus , Gigabyte. You cannot hardly go wrong if you choose one these.

    One last thing NEVER NEVER take the advice of a salesclerk in any store for your PC. You would not beilieve the bad advice and downright lies that they use just to consumate a sale.
  9. Which ever store has the best sales :) If you check out the different store's web sites you might be able to find their sales fliers for tomorrow so you can nab a good system.

    Good luck,
  10. Well i'm pretty sure I know what I'm getting. Gonna go get it tonight $583 for the tower and its an HP. Here are the tower specs. Only thing I don't like is the integrated video card but its a decent one and it has a PCI express so I can upgrade to a nice video card if needed.

    Processor Brand: AMD
    Processor Class: Athlon 64 X2 Processor
    Processor Number: 4400+ with LIVE Technology
    Processor Speed: 2.3 GHz
    Front Side Bus: 2.0 GHz
    L2 Cache Size: 2 x 512 KB
    System Chipset: NVIDIA nForce 430
    Memory Speed: PC2-5300 (667MHz)
    Memory Type: DDR2-SDRAM
    Installed Memory: 2 GB
    Maximum Memory: 4 GB
    Memory Slots Total: 4
    Memory Slots Available: 2
    Total Hard Drive Capacity: 320 GB
    Drive Controllers: SATA-150
    Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
    Optical Drives: LightScribe Double Layer DVD SuperMulti Drive:

    * Create a Double Layer DVD+R at a maximum 8X Write speed
    * Create a Double Layer DVD-R at a maximum 8X Write speed
    * Create a DVD+R at a maximum 16X Write speed or a maximum 8X Rewrite speed
    * Create a DVD-R at a maximum 16X Write speed or a maximum 6X Rewrite speed
    * Create a DVD-RAM at a maximum 12X Write speed
    * Play a DVD-Rom at a maximum 16X Read speed
    * Create a CD-Rom at a maximum 40X Write speed
    * Create a CD-RW at a maximum 32X Rewrite speed
    * Play a CD-Rom at a maximum 40X Read speed

    Card Slots: 1 x CompactFlash
    1 x MicroDrive
    1 x Memory Stick
    1 x Memory Stick Duo
    1 x Memory Stick PRO
    1 x Memory Stick PRO Duo
    1 x MiniSD
    1 x MMCmobile
    1 x MMCplus
    1 x RS-MMC
    1 x SmartMedia Card
    1 x Secure Digital(SD)/MMC
    1 x xD-Picture Card
    Audio Channels: High Definition Audio, 8 speaker configurable
    Video Chipset Brand: NVIDIA
    Video Chipset: GeForce 6150SE
    Video Bus: PCI Express x16
    Video Integration: Motherboard
    Installed Video Memory: 128 MB
    Total Available Graphics Memory (Vista): 632 MB
    Port Connectors:

    * 6 x USB 2.0 (2 on front, 4 on back)
    * 2 x FireWire (IEEE 1394) (1 on front, 1 on back)
    * 1 x Video - VGA monitor (on back)
    * 2 x PS/2 (on back)
    * 2 x Audio - Microphone, Headphone, Line In (1 on front, 1 on back)
    * 1 x Audio - Digital Audio Out (on back)
    * 1 x Rear speaker out/Side speaker out/Center (subwoofer) (on back)
    * 1 x RJ-11 Modem
    * 1 x RJ-45 Ethernet LAN

    PCI Slots: 2
    PCI Express x1 Slots: 1
    PCI Express x16 Slots: 1
    Slots Notes:

    * 1 x PCI open
    * 1 x PCI Express x16 open
    * 1 x PCI Express x1 open

    External 3.5 Bays: 1
    External 5.25 Bays: 2
    External Bays Notes:

    * 1 x 5.25-inch open

    Internal 3.5 Bays: 1
    Internal Bays (Notes):

    * None open

    Expansion Bay (Notes):

    * HP Pocket Media Drive bay available

    Network Support: Ethernet (10/100 Mbps)
    Modem Speed: 56 Kbps
    Input Devices: Keyboard
    Wheel Mouse
    Installed Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium
    Special Feature: MS Windows Vista Home Premium


    Motherboard specifications table
    Part / Feature Specification / Support
    Motherboard description

    * Motherboard manufacturer's name: Asus M2N68-LA
    * HP/Compaq name: Narra2-GL8E


    * Socket: AM2
    * Supports the following processors:
    o Athlon 64 X2 with Dual Core technology
    o Athlon 64
    o Sempron

    Front-side bus (FSB)

    * 2000MT/s (2.0 GT/s)


    * NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE nForce 430

    BIOS features

    * System BIOS core brand: Award
    * Keyboard combination to used to enter BIOS: F10

    Form factor

    * Micro-ATX: 9.6 in X 9.6 in


    * Dual channel memory architecture
    * Four 240-pin DDR2 DIMM sockets
    * Supported DIMM types:
    o PC2-4200 (533 MHz)
    o PC2-5300 (667 MHz)
    o PC2-6400 (800 MHz)
    * Non-ECC memory only, unbuffered
    * supports 2GB DDR2 DIMMs
    * Supports up to 8 GB on 64 bit PCs
    * Supports up to 4 GB* on 32 bit PCs

    NOTE: *Actual available memory may be less
    Expansion slots

    * Two PCI
    * One PCI Express x16 graphics (for a graphics card)
    * One PCI Express x1 (for cards such as network, sound, tv-tuner)

    Video graphics

    * Integrated graphics using nVidia GeForce 6150SE
    * Up to 256MB (with 512MB or more PC memory)
    * Also supports PCI Express x16 graphics cards*

    NOTE: *Either integrated graphics or the PCI Express x16 slot are usable at one time; they are not usable concurrently.
    Parallel ATA

    * One 40-pin UltraDMA 100/66/33 connector
    * Supports PIO, multi-word DMA modes
    * Supports two PATA disk drives on one PATA ribbon cable (two drives total)

    Serial ATA

    * Four SATA connectors:
    o SATA1 = Black
    o SATA2 = White
    o SATA3 = Blue
    o SATA4 = Yellow

    * Supports 1 SATA-150 or SATA-300 disk drive on each SATA connector
    * Speed up to 1.5Gb/sec or 3.0Gb/sec, complying with SATA 1.0 and SATA 2.0 specifications

    NOTE: The faster rate of 3.0Gb/sec requires that both the hard drive and the motherboard support it. If one or the other does not support 3.0 Gb/sec, the PC negotiates down to the slower 1.5 Gb/sec.

    * Some Narra2 models ship with RAID (model dependent)
    * nVidia's onboard RAID solution is called nVidia MediaShield Storage
    * RAID modes supported*:
    o RAID 0
    o RAID 1

    NOTE: RAID 5 and 10 are not supported by this motherboard.
    Onboard audio

    8 channel high-definition audio
    Audio CODEC: ALC888S

    Onboard LAN

    * PCI Realtek RTL8201N 10/100 Mbps LAN PHY

    Onboard USB

    * USB 2.0
    * Ten ports total
    o Four connectors on back panel
    o additional headers on motherboard support 6 additional ports/devices

    NOTE: Some USB ports may not be available externally for customer use. For more information, see model specifications.
    Onboard 1394

    * Type: IEEE 1394a 400Mb/s
    * Agere LFW3226-100 (or equivalent) controller chip
    * Two ports total
    * One port on back panel
    * One header on motherboard supporting one additional port/device

    Back panel I/0

    * One PS/2 mouse port (green)
    * One PS/2 keyboard port (purple)
    * One Coaxial SPDIF out port
    * One VGA port
    * Four USB 2.0
    * One IEEE 1394a
    * One RJ-45 networking port
    * Six audio ports support 8-channel audio:
    o Line-in (light blue)
    o Microphone-in (pink)
    o Line-out (lime)
    o Center/Subwoofer-out (yellow-orange)
    o Side speaker-out (gray)
    o Rear speaker-out (black)

    Internal connectors

    * One 24-pin ATX power connector
    * One 4-pin ATX power connector
    * One PATA connector
    * Four SATA connectors
    * One floppy drive connector
    * Two 12v fan connectors for CPU fan and PC fan
    * One 9-pin header for power button, reset button, power LED, and HDD LED
    * One SPDIF digital audio output header
    * One front line input connector (interupts line input on back panel, Vista capable, requires matching front audio jack module)
    * One 9-pin audio header for headphone-out and microphone-in (yellow, Vista capable, requires matching front audio jack module)
    * Four USB headers supporting 6 additional USB 2.0 ports or devices
    * One 1394a header
    * One Intel high-definition Audio/Modem Link (not used by HP)
    * One jumper for resetting BIOS settings
    * One jumper to disable BIOS password checking
  11. So how is the new computer?

  12. Amazing!!!!! It's so much faster editing photos. I haven't been able to put CAD on it yet.

    They weren't lying when people said Vista sucks up a lot of memory. Just with windows running it uses around %25 the RAM. (around 512mb)
  13. Yep unlike XP, which tried to keep the RAM free as much as possible, Vista tries to keep things in RAM for fast access and only purge when needed. It does allow for frequently used programs to open much faster especially if you tend to use a limited number of programs.

    Good luck with the new machine.

  14. Well I can't complain about the new machine but I have run into a problem.

    I can not get AutoCAD R14 or AutoCAD 2000 to load onto it AT ALL. Which is the main reason I got it.......
  15. Try this link for a walk around to get R14 to work with Vista
    Scroll about half way down the page and look for posts by Ed s. that mention dll swapping and registry editing. I really don't know if that solution will work for you but if might be worth a shot if you can't find another option.

    A fast search didn't turn up a similar trick for AutoCad 2000 but there is one thing you can try with any program that might help it run in vista:

    Locate the program's .exe file on your hard drive, right click on the .exe file and choose properties, open up the Compatibility tab, you can then choose to run the program in compatibility mode for XP or whatever windows you want also check the box labeled "Run this program as an Administrator". Also to save some headaches select the "Show Settings for All Users", set the program to run in XP compatiibility mode for all users and check the box labeled "Run this program as an Administrator" so that will be active for all users as well. Now whenever you try to run the program you wll get a UAC prompt, accept it and hit "run program" but the program might now work. This might help both R14 and 2000 or it might not. It's worth a try anyway. I've been able to get most of the tech programs I use (not CAD stuff but science database stuff) to work with Vista by one method or another.

  16. Funny you linked me to that site. I was searching tonight to try and see if this was a common problem or not and stumbled across that post on autodesk about the smartheap error. Seems they know how to fix it which is the error I'm getting. I'll have to try that admin option you were talking about. They were talking about setting some files to "write" and stuff too so I'll have to check that out. I'm not all that tech literate. I've used a computer for a while and have used CAD alot but not to informed on edited files and all that to get programs working. Hopefully I don't botch anything up!

    Thanks for the help! I checked my email after posting on that autodesk forum and found your reply here including that same thread. Crazy!
  17. Thank God for Google;^)

    For troublesome programs that I've tried to force to work with Vista the most frequent problem is the program doesn't have write permission. Setting the program to run in compatibility mode AND with admin rights for all users does the trick pretty often. I think vista's compatibility mode is kind of buggy but if you change the settings for both the logged in user and all users it seems to work better.

    I hope you can get things working.

  18. I was wanting to try that with CAD but couldn't even find the acad.exe file for some reason. I guess that is the file that has to have the attributes changed?
  19. Thats odd. Are you sure vista is showing you all the files in the autocad 2000 folder including the write-protected ones?