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PC advice, barebones system & add ons [vanity]
NA - various computer sales companies ^ | 11/28/2003 | Lloyd227

Posted on 11/28/2003 4:50:37 PM PST by Lloyd227

I'm looking to purchase yet another computer for one of my kids and just looking for advice & personal recommendations from other Freepers. I've bought one barebones system for my youngest son and we're satisfied doing business that way as long as the price is right.

I've been to the brick and mortar and the online stores that I can find and we're just having the usual trouble, trying squeeze a $2000 machine into a $700 budget.

One of my older sons is telling me we absolutely must get something that runs 800 mghz Front Side Bus and a $190 video card. I'm thinking they can get by quite well with 400/533 FSB and a $75 dollar card, but to be honest, I keep my gaming on my Xbox and do not know what real difference it will make on a PC.

Anyone out there have a real favorite, trusted supplier of barebones computers? Do they pre-assemble? Are their prices right?

Oh and, we bring our own operating system. I like sticking with what works and Windows 2000

Any advice at all would be appreciated.

Best regards,

1 posted on 11/28/2003 4:50:38 PM PST by Lloyd227
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To: Lloyd227
I like sticking with what works and Windows 2000

Cognitive dissonance.

2 posted on 11/28/2003 4:54:10 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Chilling Effect-1, Global Warming-0)
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To: Lloyd227
I have built my own (and other family members) PCs for the last 5-6 years, and have found you actually CAN squeeze a $2000 computer into a $700 budget.

My preferred online vendor for parts is New Egg (, quick delivery, cheap shipping and (usually) great prices

You may want to offer your son a compromise, you will get the $200 video card, as long as you go with an AMD Athlon XP as your processor. Make sure you have enough cooling, and get a good case (I prefer the Antec's). And yes, the video card does make a difference.

Good luck.

3 posted on 11/28/2003 4:55:32 PM PST by rightisright (E Tan E Epi Tas)
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To: Lloyd227
I have my own version of Moore's Law: "The kick-ass, off the shelf system will always cost $2000."

I build all of mine. It used to be to save money, but now it's more on principle. Kinda like Ted Nugent going to a steak house...he'd rather kill it and grill it himself.

I'm sure your older son wants the big honkin' video card. I've seen the new 256 MB monsters for around $500(!). I'm only now getting to the point where my 32 MB card I bought 3 years ago is no longer doing the job.

Whatever you do, don't buy a Dell unless you like speaking to people from India.

4 posted on 11/28/2003 5:04:43 PM PST by Orangedog
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To: Jeff Chandler
I asked this question a couple of months ago and in the end bought two 600+ dollar systems from Tiger direct

Here is my url

I Need to Purchase 2 Computers for the Children Monday and Need Freeper Imput

If you are thinking of purchasing Dell, email me for my Hell Month with Dell thread!!
That did not include moniters which are dirt cheap at best buy if you want a CRT and need to be eyeballed to choose a good one.
5 posted on 11/28/2003 5:09:28 PM PST by mlmr (Now that Thanksgiving is over, Merry Christmas!!!)
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To: Lloyd227

Above URL has info on a lot of online stores.
6 posted on 11/28/2003 5:10:07 PM PST by HuntsvilleTxVeteran (Hillary al-muscovy (If it walks like a Russian duck, etc))
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To: HuntsvilleTxVeteran; mlmr; Orangedog; rightisright; Jeff Chandler
All, thanks for the advice and for responding so quickly. (even you Jeff for teasing me with that anti-MS pun!)

Best regards,

7 posted on 11/28/2003 6:06:27 PM PST by Lloyd227
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To: Orangedog
I have my own version of Moore's Law: "The kick-ass, off the shelf system will always cost $2000."

Ain't progress great? Used to be "The kick-ass, off the shelf system will always cost $3000" ;)

8 posted on 11/28/2003 6:19:57 PM PST by general_re (If God didn't want us to eat animals, he wouldn't have made them out of meat.)
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To: Lloyd227
even you Jeff for teasing me with that anti-MS pun!)

My tease was against Windows2000. XP is a much better operating system.

9 posted on 11/28/2003 8:52:54 PM PST by Jeff Chandler (Chilling Effect-1, Global Warming-0)
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To: Lloyd227
Depends on how computer saavy you or someone you know is. If alls you need is the actual computer (no monitor, printer, keyboard), you can buy a case, motherboard, graphics card, memory, etc. for a few hundred bucks on E-Bay and assemble it yourself.

Last computer I had was a 1.6 GHz P4, GeForce2, 256 megs RAM for about ~$200, which was a decent computer for a few years ago. The CDROM and DVDROM drives I got seperately, from a cannabalized computer. You can just strip them from your old computer (unless they happen to be pretty old and you would like to replace those too). Make sure you get new parts from a reputable dealer on E-Bay.

BTW, I'm a Windows 2000 stickler too :). I hate computers that comes pre-installed with the OS. The company usually gives you a version that comes with all kinds of software and adware that you don't want.
10 posted on 11/28/2003 10:18:08 PM PST by Ex-Dem (not just another brick in the wall)
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To: Ex-Dem; HuntsvilleTxVeteran; mlmr; Orangedog; rightisright; Jeff Chandler
One last sanity check if you have the time?

This is my "budget" PC package that I'm considering. The goal was to cut corners where things can be upgraded with a card or add on later, but start with a solid foundation the kid can use for 3 years or so.

So, for $778.98 (+30 shipping) how does this look?
Any parts on this list I should watch out for or that people have had trouble with? Any mis-matched components (other than a video card that I know is not up to snuff with the processor?

And the real question, is it worth assmbly & headache to save $115? I can also buy the same basic package, preassembled and burned in for $115 more. While I'm pretty sure I can do this, I'm also sure this is going to take a while.

  Qty Product Item #
Unit Price
Qty x Price
Form Factor: ATX
Color: Black
Material: SECC 0.7/Aluminum 0.8mm(body)
Drive Bays: External 4 x 5.25" -2 x 3.5" Internal 4x 3.5"
Expansion Slot: 7
Front Ports: USB2.0 x 2,Audio in/out, IEEE1394
Power Supply: 350W
Cooling System: Front:8/9/12 cm x 1;Back:8 cm x 2;Side:8cm x 1;Top:8cm x 1;Side Standard 8cmx1,openwindow 8cmx1
Motherboard Compatibility: Standerd P4 ATX / Micro ATX
Dimensions: D480 x W200 x H430 mm
Special Features: Side open window with "X" mark & a 8-cm fan plus 4 blue LED lights ( AL model exclude),Security screw lock
more info->
Gigabyte Motherboard GA-8IPE1000Pro 2004 GT Edition, Intel 865PE chipset for Pentium 4 Processors -Retail
Supported CPU: Socket 478 Intel Pentium 4 Processor(Hyper-Threading)
Chipset: Intel 865PE(MCH) + ICH5
FSB: 800/533/400MHz
RAM: 4x DIMM for Dual Channel DDR400/333/266 Max 4GB
IDE: 2x UDMA 100/66/33
Slots: 1xAGP 8X,5xPCI 32-bit
Ports: 2xPS2,2xCOM,1xLPT,1xLAN,8xUSB2.0(Rear 4)and Audio Ports
Onboard Audio:Realtek ALC658 CODEC
Onboard LAN: Intel 10/100Mbps Ethernet
Onboard SATA: 2x Channel Serial ATA
Onboard 1394: T.I. IEEE 1394 controller
Form Factor: ATX
more info->
XFX Geforce FX 5200 128MB DDR Model PVT34KNA With TV-out&DVI Retail
Chipset/Core Speed: Geforce FX 5200/250MHz
Memory/Effective Speed:128MB DDR/333MHz
BUS: AGP 1X/2X/4X/8X
Ports: VGA Out(15 Pin D-Sub)+TV-Out(S-Video Out)+DVI Connector
Support 3D API: Microsoft®DirectX®9,OpenGL™1.4
Package Included:1 Cable,Driver CD,User Manual
Max Resolution@32bit Color: 2048x1536@75Hz
Retail Box (See pics for details)

more info->

Intel Pentium 4/ 2.4C GHz 800MHz FSB, 512K Cache, Hyper Threading Technology - OEM
Model: Intel Pentium 4 2.4C w/ Hyper Threading
Core: Northwood
Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz
FSB: 800MHz
Cache: L1/12K+8K; L2/512K
Voltage: 1.525V
Process: 0.13Micron
Socket: Socket 478
Multimedia Instruction: MMX, SSE, SSE2
Warranty: 3-year MFG
Packaging: OEM
more info->
CORSAIR MEMORY 256MB PC3200 DDR Value Select
256MB DDR Non-ECC, Unbuffered, PC3200 (DDR400/200MHz) 32mx64, 184-pin DIMM - Cas 3
Model: VS256MB400C3 - OEM - Lifetime Warranty.
more info->
MITSUMI D359M3 Black 1.44MB 3.5INCH Floppy Disk Drive, OEM
Model: D359M3D
Capacity: 1.44MB
Average Access Time: 94 ms
Interface: 34 Pin Standard Floppy Connector
Form: 3.5 inch
Media Type: All Standard 1.44MB & 720KB 3.5 Floppy Diskettes
Features: Quiet Operation,Enclosed Mechanism
Remark: OEM
more info->
Model: WD800JB (WD Caviar SE)
Capacity: 80GB
Average Seek Time: 8.9ms
Buffer: 8MB
Rotational Speed: 7200 RPM
Interface: IDE ULTRA ATA100
Features: High-performance with 8MB Buffer
Manufacturer Warranty: 3 years
more info->
Logitech Cordless Elite Duo USB/PS2 104keys --Retail
Number Of Keys:104 keys+18 function keys+2 wheels
Wireless Technology:RF
Palm Rest:Detachable
Design Style:Standard
Mouse included:Wireless optical
Features:Ultra-flat, Zero Degree Tilt™ keyboard design for increased comfort,Nine customizable keys for one-touch access to favorite web sites and applications,iNav™ buttons and scroll wheel for keyboard-based web navigation,Multimedia keys to control audio and video directly from the keyboard ,iTouch® software to customize keyboard features
more info->
KDS 17" CRT Monitor, Black model XF-7BK - RETAIL
The new 17" XF-7BK is an excellent choice for handling intense graphic applications, gaming and advanced spreadsheets.
Size : 17-inch diagonal measure (16.02" viewable)
Screen : Anti-Reflection, Tinted Screen, Black Matrix, Flat Screen Tube
Dot Pitch : 0.20mm (Horizontal) 0.25 mm (Vertical
Max Resolution: 1280 x 1024 @ 60Hz
Dimensions:16.0"(W) x 16.3"(D) x 17.1"(H)
Input Connector: DB15 VGA
Manufacturer Warranty : 3 Year Limited Parts & Labor KDS
more info->
Lite On LTC-48161H Black 48x24x48x16 Combo Drive, 2MB, OEM
Model: LTC-48161H Black
Write Speed: 48X CD-R,24X CD-RW
Read Speed: 48X CD-ROM,16X DVD-ROM
Interface: ATAPI/E-IDE
Buffer: 2MB
OS Support: Windows XP/2000/NT/Me/9x
Features: SMART-BURN avoiding Buffer Under Run error
Remark: OEM pack(see pictures for details)
more info->
Subtotal »

11 posted on 11/29/2003 11:56:35 PM PST by Lloyd227
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To: Lloyd227
List looks good, just two things. First, since you're getting an OEM CPU make sure you order a Socket 478 Heat Sink/Fan (or look for the Retail CPU package, it may only be $5-10 more and will give you an Intel approved fan.

Secondly, I'm not a big fan of that video card chipset. It's really not a great gamer card, you're better off paying $20 more and getting one of the Refurbished GeForce 4200TI cards (ASUS V9280TD). I have ordered Refurbished Video cards from them before and have never had a problem

12 posted on 11/30/2003 9:16:49 AM PST by rightisright (E Tan E Epi Tas)
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To: rightisright
Thanks again. I've adjusted the cpu from oem to retail, I had no idea what the difference was and information is not readily apparent from their website.

Also switched the case for an Antec and swapped out the graphics card. Antec case was the same price and the card was only about 7 dollars more.

Now if I can only manage to put all this stuff together.

Question: How do you go about installing the bios and those initial first steps to prepare a freshly assembled system for loading Windows? I've bought 'barebones' systems online before, but they were always burned in and ready for the OS. Are there any tricks or traps to watch out for during that first power up stage?

13 posted on 11/30/2003 5:25:34 PM PST by Lloyd227
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To: Lloyd227
Long gone are the days of jumpers, and BIOS headaches. I usually use Asus motherboards, but I imagine the Gigabyte's are the same in that as long as you connect everything the right way (RTFM as they say :-)) you should be able to get it up and running 1-2-3. A few things to remember:

You usually need to go into the BIOS to set the computer to boot off the CD (so you can install your OS), and the default settings may need to be tweaked. Good luck.

14 posted on 11/30/2003 9:49:50 PM PST by rightisright (E Tan E Epi Tas)
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To: rightisright; Ex-Dem; HuntsvilleTxVeteran; mlmr; Orangedog; Jeff Chandler
Thanks again to all. The parts went together well with only a couple minor puzzles where the documentation was lacking a bit, the project is completed, the kid is happy, and the final price tag ended at under $900.

Not bad for what he got;
P4, 2.4, 800FSB,256mb 400DDR dual channel, 80GB, DVD-ROM, CDRW, front side Firewire & USB, LAN, 6 channel audio, decent quality 8x/128mb graphics, 17" monitor, and wireless mouse/keyboard. A name brand pre-built system like this would have cost me $1500 to 2000 at Best Buy, and this foundation leaves they boy plenty of space to upgrade when he gets a job :-)

rightisright, you were absolutely right about those Antec cases. Good construction, nice layout, plenty of room to work, etc. Impressive for a $75 case.

Just wanted to say thanks to all for the advice.

Best regards,

15 posted on 12/07/2003 9:06:39 AM PST by Lloyd227
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