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Author Topic: I'm Going to Build a PC. Suggestions?  (Read 12881 times)
MilesOhToole
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« on: March 25, 2012, 09:42:38 PM »

Hey everyone!  It's been a while since my last post but I've occasionally lurked around.  Matter of fact, last time I posted, you guys helped me buy my dream PC.  Here's that thread.

I had that PC built for me but I've learned quite a bit since then and want to build my own this time.

As last time, I'm going to be buying (nearly) all my parts from Global Computer, since I'll get a discount from ordering through my employer.

First thoughts and opinions/suggestions are quite welcome:

*I think I'm going to go with a quad core processor, thinking dual-core will soon be as obsolete as single-core.

*I have a crashed 500 GB Seagate HDD that I will send back for a replacement, under warranty, saving money.  I laugh at the HDD shortage of 2012!

*My wife is in college and I'm going to try to buy a student discounted version of Windows 7 Professional 64bit.  I don't know how that works, as of yet.

*I want a fairly competent gaming PC.  If my PC can run games reasonably well, I figure it can do darn near anything else with ease.  Plus, I like games!

*I have an approximate budget of $1000.00.

I know all that is still pretty vague.  Basically, I'm wanting a gaming PC for $1000 and I want to build it, not only to save money but for the learning experience.

One other thing I learned from my subscription to MaximumPC is that the AMD GPU's doesn't support PhysX that's included in cool games like Batman:  Arkham City.  So, I guess I'll go with nVidia.

Any preliminary suggestions?

Thanks to the wonderful folks who helped me buy my current PC.  I can't believe it's been six whole years ago!  Other than a few HDD failures (and a replaced PSU, which I suspected as the culprit) it continues to be a wonderful machine.

Thanks to Mouser for a wonderful site.  By the way, I still have that PM you sent me to donate to your site.  I apologize for never getting around to it.  It will be done shortly, I promise.

Thanks, everyone.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 09:59:50 PM »

Horses for courses with graphics cards.

AMD cards support more than two screens and some games are written specifically for AMD.

For what its worth I have an AMD card and Arkham City is just fine.
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db90h
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« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2012, 01:06:41 AM »

One thing: If possible, try to go with passive cooling on your graphics adapters. That may not be possible since you want a gaming system. In my case, not needing heavy duty GPU stuff, passive cooling was an option. The GPU fan always seems to be the first to go out on me, and often the loudest, but maybe it's just my dirty air ;p. So, I have been very pleased with passively cooled graphics adapters.

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Ath
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« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2012, 01:35:02 AM »

Buy a Systembuilder Windows license, together/bundled with a mainboard, it'll save you around $75 to $90 from a full retail license.
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4wd
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« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 02:17:05 AM »

One other thing I learned from my subscription to MaximumPC is that the AMD GPU's doesn't support PhysX that's included in cool games like Batman:  Arkham City.  So, I guess I'll go with nVidia.

An nVidia GPU isn't required for PhysX - it's only required if you want to offload some of work to the GPU rather than have the CPU do it.

With current model GPUs and CPUs I doubt whether you'd notice any appreciable difference.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2012, 03:22:58 AM »

One other thing I learned from my subscription to MaximumPC is that the AMD GPU's doesn't support PhysX that's included in cool games like Batman:  Arkham City.  So, I guess I'll go with nVidia.

An nVidia GPU isn't required for PhysX - it's only required if you want to offload some of work to the GPU rather than have the CPU do it.

With current model GPUs and CPUs I doubt whether you'd notice any appreciable difference.

There are a few games around that seem to work better with nVidia or with Physx turned off (Mirror's Edge springs to ming) but generally I see Physx running fine with AMD cards (I am using a Sapphire Radeon HD6890 with 1Gb DDR5 Ram and three 24" HD monitors in EyeInfinity mode for gaming and don't have many issues - non that haven't been fixable - with modern games).
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db90h
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« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2012, 03:28:23 AM »

http://www.tomshardware.c...ck,3159.html#xtor=RSS-182  ... here, just popped up NOW, so should be current.
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4wd
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« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2012, 03:45:36 AM »

^ Good catch.

Swap the CPU for a i5-2500K, double the RAM (2x4GB), and use two HDDs and it should still be under $1000 and have a lot more grunt for pretty much anything.

You could probably squeeze a new Intel Z68 board in there also.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2012, 07:55:11 AM »

Looks like a good spec - but I would go for a Core i7 CPU/motherboard if you can squeeze that into the cost.
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2012, 02:50:43 PM »

I had a buddy build me my custom project machine, so here are some thoughts.

1. Consider skipping 3 meals a week/haircuts/etc to boost your budget to about $1500. There's a bit of a "quality slider" effect where useful upgrades across the board are always $67 away.

Supposing you "copied" my setup from my project machine, with the passage of time my $1800 price at the time might be down a bit/ a lot.

1. I thought ahead and got the first generation Quad Core all the way back in 2006. You're right, Dual is for Dogs now. (Though not all programs can find the spare resources properly.)

2. Check with your buddies/the net about the types of little components that tend to fail when Dell / etc skimps on quality. My message is all about the $67 upgrade effect to get more/better years out of the comp beast. (You said you wanted to game, right? That says you'll be pushing the limits for hours, so you don't want an "office-spec'ed" comp where the maker cheats and banks on worker bees only typing text all day long. Get a better fan, better internals, etc.)

3. It's the Media Age, and Media is Big. I got 1.75 Terabytes of storage. It works pretty well for me to put all the apps on C: and use the spare drive for media sorting.

4. Misc upgrades. For your gaming, does it make sense to get a Graphics booster of some kind? As an example, I realized I like to do a lot of sound file encoding, so I had a special extra data encoding mini-chip added to my setup that almost doubles stock encoding speeds.
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superboyac
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 03:27:00 PM »

You might find this thread helpful:
http://www.donationcoder....m/index.php?topic=16186.0

The people here helped me build that PC.  I'm using it to this day, and it's great.  Very helpful crowd here.
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2012, 05:25:04 PM »

Horses for courses with graphics cards.

AMD cards support more than two screens and some games are written specifically for AMD.

For what its worth I have an AMD card and Arkham City is just fine.

Well, good.  I like AMD cards better, anyway.

Quote from: db90h
http://www.tomshardware.c...ck,3159.html#xtor=RSS-182  ... here, just popped up NOW, so should be current.

Thanks for the link.  I'm working on something based on that, with some changes that 4wd and Carol posted.

Quote from: TaoPhoenix
I had a buddy build me my custom project machine, so here are some thoughts.

1. Consider skipping 3 meals a week/haircuts/etc to boost your budget to about $1500. There's a bit of a "quality slider" effect where useful upgrades across the board are always $67 away.

Supposing you "copied" my setup from my project machine, with the passage of time my $1800 price at the time might be down a bit/ a lot.

1. I thought ahead and got the first generation Quad Core all the way back in 2006. You're right, Dual is for Dogs now. (Though not all programs can find the spare resources properly.)

2. Check with your buddies/the net about the types of little components that tend to fail when Dell / etc skimps on quality. My message is all about the $67 upgrade effect to get more/better years out of the comp beast. (You said you wanted to game, right? That says you'll be pushing the limits for hours, so you don't want an "office-spec'ed" comp where the maker cheats and banks on worker bees only typing text all day long. Get a better fan, better internals, etc.)

3. It's the Media Age, and Media is Big. I got 1.75 Terabytes of storage. It works pretty well for me to put all the apps on C: and use the spare drive for media sorting.

4. Misc upgrades. For your gaming, does it make sense to get a Graphics booster of some kind? As an example, I realized I like to do a lot of sound file encoding, so I had a special extra data encoding mini-chip added to my setup that almost doubles stock encoding speeds.

Good advice!  Thanks.

OK, here's basically what I have, so far.  Critique away and any comments are very welcome.

Click Here

I couldn't find anything in the barebones section that matched what I wanted, so I started from scratch.

And, am I correct in thinking that I'll need USB with that case?  I assume a case comes with nothing other than fans.  I also have a feeling someone is going to tell me I'm doing this all wrong...  cheesy



* PCbuild.JPG (141.81 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 140 times.)
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2012, 06:49:17 PM »

You don't really need the USB card - there will be quite a few USB sockets on the motherboard.

I haven't looked at the case you suggested but I would guess that will have front panel audio and USB connectors (they have cables with header to plug direct to the motherboard)

If you want an alternative case this one is truly excellent:

http://store.antec.com/Pr...red/0-761345-45003-4.aspx

My preference for a PSU would be Corsair - I have built a few systems using their PSUs now and they are beautifully built and come with a 3 year warranty. Here is one around the same price mark but 600W:

http://www.amazon.com/Cor...PSU-600CXV2/dp/B004W2T2UQ

Personally if I was building a system now I would go for Core i7 if you can squeeze it into the budget.

Have a look at some of these motherboards:

http://www.gigabyte.us/pr...mp;jid=0&p=2&v=28

(I really like Gigabyte boards - well made and they use ultra durable capacitors - I have been burned on other boards before!)

How about :

http://www.amazon.com/GIG...Motherboard/dp/B0064Z6Y9G
(full details here: http://www.gigabyte.us/pr...uct-page.aspx?pid=4049#ov)

and

http://www.amazon.com/Int...K-Processor/dp/B004EBUXSA

I know they are a bit more expensive. (You may find them cheaper elsewhere)

What do other people think?


You may also want to think of a non-stock CPU cooler. The Antec case I mentioned above is big enough to take one of these beasts:

http://www.amazon.com/Noc...pes-Bearing/dp/B00631QFG8

(be warned they are shockingly large and you need to check it will fit on your motherboard - note this particular one is for Core i7 processors only)

They are a brilliant cooling solution and very quiet.

You didn't have a graphics card listed on you shopping list. How about:

http://www.amazon.com/SAP...R5-Graphics/dp/B005C8RTTU

This is the one I bought recently and I have found it to be brilliant - plus if you fancy expanding later it supports up to 3 displays (either as standard extended displays or one humongous EyeInfintiy display - great for gaming!!)

(I only used Amazon as a quick catalogue - you can probably find things cheaper on other sites. Not being in the US I don't know the best places to look. Having said that you can't knock Amazon's support and returns policy and their prices are usually pretty competitive.)
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 07:01:24 PM by Carol Haynes » Logged

4wd
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« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2012, 06:54:11 PM »

I'd spring the extra $35 and get the i5-2500K - these things are probably the best 'bang for buck' CPU around, you can go up to 4.3GHz by just changing the multiplier, all on the stock HSF.

You won't need the extra PCI USB card, that motherboard already has 10 x USB2, (4 on the back, 6 on headers), ports and 4 x USB3, (2 on the back, 2 on headers), ports - so all you need is the backplane brackets if you require the extra ports.

Here's a USB2 one:


Regarding the case, (Ugh! - sorry smiley  I prefer understated ones these days), since it's for a gaming rig - will you be carrying it around to friends and LAN nights?

If you are, then I'd recommend the Cooler Master Storm Scout - a lot of space inside for your build, good cable management and carry handles.

If this is a stationary object that wont be going anywhere, then whatever floats your boat - although one that has front USB3 ports to take advantage of the headers on the motherboard would be good.
These days, I would not think of buying a case with less than either 3 USB ports, (2x USB2 + 1x USB3), or 4 USB2 ports available on the front.  As an example, the Fractal Design Arc Midi which also comes with fan controller.

EDIT: Carol snuck in ahead: +1 for Gigabyte, +1 for Noctua but if you can't afford the Noctua coolers, (in case you want something a bit better than stock), then the Cooler Master Hyper series are good, (eg. Hyper 212+).
« Last Edit: March 27, 2012, 07:34:17 PM by 4wd; Reason: \'cause I\'m stoopid. » Logged

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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2012, 06:59:55 PM »

And I have added a few edits above ...
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MilesOhToole
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« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2012, 12:56:15 AM »

Thanks to both of you.  OK, check out the attachment.

Of course, I don't have a case in my shopping cart because Global doesn't have Antec cases, so I'll buy the one Carol provided the link for.  Thank you!

A few questions, though.  I want 8GB RAM.  I picked the bundled PSU with the Corsair 4GB RAM--this RAM.  Then, I have Corsair 4GB RAM--this one.  So, I'll have 3 sticks of RAM, one 4GB and 2 2GB.  I can't find the exact RAM that comes bundled with the PSU, to buy separately at the site.  I might be completely wrong, but isn't it better to have RAM that matches exactly?  Seems like I read somewhere that I should have 2 sticks of 4GB RAM, but I might be mistaken.  Maybe it's all in looking forward, to upgrading to 16GB and beyond and the available slots or something or maybe it's consistency and the PC's efficiency to manage the memory.  I honestly don't remember now.

Another thing to talk about is a sound card.  I had Global build a PC for my brother a couple of years ago, like mine, and the IT guy at work told me he didn't think sound cards were as crucial as they were a few years ago.  Keep in mind, though, that he's not a gamer.  So, I ordered my brother's computer without a sound card.  Sure enough, his computer is able to run some pretty new games.  He's not that big of a gamer either but he has Flight Sim X and Silent Hunter IV and some other fairly dated games and they run with no problem.  Is that the case, now?  Do I need to bother with a sound card or is integrated sound good enough now?

(Also, as a side-note, the price is not calculating correctly.  The PSU/RAM bundle is actually $54.99, if you look at the link, which is why I chose it (yeah, with a rebate).  If push comes to shove, I'll just order the PSU and 2 4GB sticks all separately at whatever website will give me the best price.)

Or basically whatever you guys tell me to do because I'm willing to practically give you my bank account information and let you paint the town red unless a previously unknown uncle from some obscure village in Africa dies and leaves me his diamond mine in his will or something.

Too, I'm going to need a big fat monitor and an OS and keyboard and mouse and probably a card reader and some other minor stuff, so the price will go up an estimated $250-300.  Of course, that's all not calculating the discount I'll get at Global, which won't be known until I place the order.  I think I saved about an additional $116 or so on the PC I have now.

And, remember, I don't have a HDD listed because I'll RMA my failed 500GB Seagate back for a replacement to use on this new one, plus I have a 1TB and 2TB external drive and an additional 500GB drive in the PC I'm still using, so I have plenty of storage space.

Wow.  Thanks again.  You people have made me ponder and compare/contrast and brought my IQ up more than any college education can buy.  On that thought, you should all be eligible for federal funding, IMHO.  cheesy

If anyone might be interested, I'll leave you with the excitement my brother and I experienced, in the pristine forest of West Virginia, making fire by rubbing two sticks together.  That's the only worthy contribution I can think of.  There's no better feeling than being able to make fire like our ancestors did (though I cheated a little, it really makes you appreciate the hardship that civilization had to endure).


* PC Build 2.JPG (147.07 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 132 times.)
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4wd
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« Reply #16 on: March 29, 2012, 02:37:11 AM »

You could save some money by not investing in the Hyper 212+ from the start, as I said above, the stock Intel HSF is more than adequate for that CPU up to around 4.3GHz.  If further down the track you want to push the CPU a little more or just want something quieter, (you'll probably find that the GPU HSF will make more noise than the CPU HSF), then you could invest in the Noctua/CM/etc.

Unless you're a real audiophile, the onboard sound will be more than adequate.

Also, I don't think you can plug that CPU into that motherboard - the CPU is a LGA1155 and the motherboard is for LGA2011 i7, (just looked and you can't).

For the i5-2500K you need something like: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD5-B3 - $224.96

So dropping the HSF and changing the motherboard will save you ~$100

If you then use:
Corsair 600W Builder Series™ CX600 - $49.99
and
2 x Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 Vengeance 8GB - $99.98

You end up with 16GB of faster RAM, (PSU bundle only came with DDR3-1333), and you save $5.00 smiley
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #17 on: March 29, 2012, 04:00:18 AM »

Why go for 4gB + 2x2Gb ?? Just go for a matched pair of 4Gb sticks from Crucial - any DDR3 RAM will do so go for the fastest you can find.

Alternative Crucial Vengeance is very good and comes with heat sinks (and when I looks wasn't appreciably different in price to Crucial).

If you go for 2 x 4Gb it is easy to add another matched pair later if you need to. I can't really see any rational for 4+2+2 other than it won't use the memory to its full potential as you won't have dual channel (except perhaps on the 2Gb sticks depending on how you arrange the memory).

Edit- see below: Personally I think the PSU/RAM bundle you mentioned is too cheap - you need a good quality PSU (poor/cheap PSU's are a major cause of intermittent headaches) and the best RAM you can find. Never had any problems with Corsair or Crucial memory.

Re. sound card: Most motherboards come with reasonably decent sound built in (usually 5.1 or 7.1 surround if you want that). With a system with bit of power it should be more than adequate for most purposes. It is easy to add a sound card at a later date if you feel you need to but I would certainly see what the onboard sound is like first.

If you do what a sound card I have found the Creative XFi range to be pretty decent for the price. The only issue is that they drivers can be annoying to install (once installed they have been fine but it took me a while to figure out why they weren't installing correctly - but then Windows was new then and I suspect the software will be more stable now).
« Last Edit: March 29, 2012, 06:07:17 AM by Carol Haynes » Logged

4wd
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« Reply #18 on: March 29, 2012, 05:15:12 AM »

Personally I think the PSU/RAM bundle you mentioned is too cheap - you need a good quality PSU (poor/cheap PSU's are a major cause of intermittent headaches) and the best RAM you can find. Never had any problems with Corsair or Crucial memory.

Um, the PSU/RAM bundle he mentioned is Corsair.  It's the kind of deal you'd go for if you were building your generic business desktop.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #19 on: March 29, 2012, 06:06:46 AM »

[Edit from above...] I was just about to edit my post when the annoying backup kicked in!

Sorry I didn't look at the attachment.

I'm still not sure I would go for 4+2+2 though. Buy the package and then flog the memory on eBay or Amazon and go for 4+4 Vengeance paired memory.

If you must go for that package you would be better with 2+2+2+2 or 4+4+2+2 - with two matched pairs appropriately installed.

When I built my system I went for 4+4+4+4 and really haven't regretted it.
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« Reply #20 on: March 30, 2012, 09:21:30 PM »

OK, thanks to the both of you.

One thing I went differently with was to stick to 8GB RAM.  I figure I can always add RAM later and 8GB should be plenty, into the near future. 

I'll have to wait until Monday to place my order through my employer.  Any other suggestions, until then?

I'm also thinking about this monitor, mainly due to it's 2ms response, size, price and the reviews are pretty good.  Thoughts?


* PCbuild3.JPG (146 KB, 1024x768 - viewed 136 times.)
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Ath
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« Reply #21 on: March 31, 2012, 02:52:04 AM »

I'm also thinking about this monitor, mainly due to it's 2ms response, size, price and the reviews are pretty good.  Thoughts?
Some of my browsers (FF, Chrome, Opera) think that link is a loop, so they won't open it (too_many_redirects), got another link?
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« Reply #22 on: March 31, 2012, 03:15:15 AM »

You're not far from what I built last autumn - and I am still very pleased with it smiley

Didnt see if you needed a case or not. I can hugely recommend the Antec SOLO case as having most of the nice thermal and silence bits of the high end Antec cases at a much lower price, and it looks clean and simple. Have 3 of them for many years now (2007), still superb.

Can recommend the Scythe Shuriken as a cooler - not as huge as many and nicely quiet.

Here's my spec:

I went for the asrock Z68 as value for money, but the GA is extremely nice.

Didnt pay much attention to the memory. Reasonable brand 2x4gb. Never noticed all that much effect between different RAM chips and configurations, but then I tend not to overclock as I like to keep my temp low and my computer quiet (I might underclock). I mean, you notice different numbers on benchmarks, but I don't notice much difference in real playing, so I don't bother.

I did shell out on a small Intel SSD for the core OS - installing most of the games and data on a normal drive on the side. It does make a huge difference and I wish I could do this everywhere.

Very happy with the HIS IceQ cards. Used to get Asus and Sapphire when they made fanless cards, but they aren't doing much of that anymore (I think powercolor still are, but cant find them in the UK). The IceQ is less noisy than most. I have the AGP HD 4670 IceQ in another computer, so I stuck to them (got to thank a company for still making stuff for an old AGP machine, eh?)


Antec Solo Case
Asrock Z68 Pro3 http://www.asrock.com/mb/...o3&cat=Specifications
Intel Core i5 2500k
8GB Ram (Corsair I think)
Intel 320 80GB ssd drive SATA II
WD Caviar Black 2Tb SATA III
scythe shuriken low profile
PC Power and Cooling Silencer 750 (old one I had around)
HIS HD 6870 IceQ X Turbo
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iphigenie
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« Reply #23 on: March 31, 2012, 03:22:23 AM »

I'm also thinking about this monitor, mainly due to it's 2ms response, size, price and the reviews are pretty good.  Thoughts?
Some of my browsers (FF, Chrome, Opera) think that link is a loop, so they won't open it (too_many_redirects), got another link?

my opera had no problem
maybe the print link will work better? http://www.globalcomputer...6798095&Sku=A466-2214

I have an old high end Asus which still holds its own, but have seen very mixed reviews of the more budget ones. Of course with reviews its hard to know what is worth hearing or not, especially on monitors. So much depends on what one is used to. For example a screen that looks duller next to another monitor might still be wonderful when it is the main monitor, as having perhaps better color or because you play at night smiley

We since went with a bargain Philips monitor which so far has been a beauty, although color rendition took some tweaking. I might look at this one at the same price http://www.globalcomputer...No=2239228&CatId=2775
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Ath
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« Reply #24 on: March 31, 2012, 04:19:13 AM »

my opera had no problem
maybe the print link will work better? http://www.globalcomputer...6798095&Sku=A466-2214
Still not working (ends in some 404 page, according to the name in the final link), maybe because I'm not in the US of A?

edit: Even when opening www.globalcomputer.com I get that page...
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