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Thread: Need help building PC

  1. #1
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    Default Need help building PC

    Hi guys,

    I've decided to build my own PC for photo stuff and some casual gaming. My budget is about $800 thereabouts, without a monitor.

    I'm thinking of getting a sort of mid-range one, like maybe a 3Ghz processor, 2gb ram, and a decent graphics card with 256memory. Is this doable within my budget?

    Any recommendations and models to get? I'm quite out of touch with all this hardware stuff!

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Need help building PC

    for photographic use, is all abt RAM. the more the better.
    perhaps u could consider AMD based system which is generally cheaper, and pump up the RAM. and hardisk too.
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Your budget is a little thin - unless you are re-using some existing parts. Go to hardwarezone and download some of the pricelist and work out the sums. The lowest end DIY could come to something like this (all $ approx)

    Motherboard (AMD A3000) + CPU - $240
    PCI graphics card (256 MB) - $170
    DDR RAM (2 x 1GB) - $220
    Chassis + PSU - $80
    Hard Disk (120GB) - $140

    Total = $850

    This is the absolute minimum specs - you still got to add in keyboard, mouse, maybe wireless and sound card. Then the software - OS etc...

    For 'photo need' go for high RAM as advised and good graphics card. If you are are going to run photoshop or similar programs, get a high speed processor too. Consider a secondary storage (external harddrive or DVD/CD burner) to archive your digital photo files.

    My advice, if you have a limited budget, is to purchase those parts that is the most expensive and difficult to replace first and slowly build up your system - just like you would build up your camera system. The CPU and motherboard is the core so get the best that fits your purpose and do not compromise. Use recycled parts (if compatible) for the video, secondary (not primary) storage and network. Ensure there is sufficient spare slots to add memory later. One last note- PC lifecycle is very short so you should consider a budget for a computer that will last approx 5 years before needing a replacement.

    Hope this helps..
    Last edited by Kermitfm; 19th March 2007 at 10:14 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Need help building PC

    thanks lots for the info.

    i intend to reuse almost everything like keyboards, mouse, DVD drives and maybe even the hard-disk.

    essentially i only need the board and CPU, graphics card, and ram

    any recommendations for the type of graphics card i should look at? and whats the difference between all the different intel chipsets?

    or will i be better off buying a dell and then upgrading the ram and video card from there?
    Last edited by antacid; 19th March 2007 at 10:49 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Ban Leong is currently doing a clearance sale for Shuttle barebone PCs at their Ubi service centre. They offer varieties of models that should fit your budget nicely. I bought one, model SB77G5, before Chinese New Year. Added it up myself with Intel CPU 3.06G, 2GB of RAM, 1 80GB SATA HDD, 1 DVD writer, 1 AGP card (reuse), and 1 Creative Audigy 2ZS (reuse).

    The reason I bought SB775G5 is because I want to reuse my existing AGP card. If I didn't have any existing graphic card, I would for sure go for one that uses PCI-e card. I may be wrong but PCI-e graphic cards seem to be destined to unseat AGP cards.
    Last edited by rty; 19th March 2007 at 11:13 AM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Quote Originally Posted by antacid View Post
    thanks lots for the info.

    i intend to reuse almost everything like keyboards, mouse, DVD drives and maybe even the hard-disk.

    essentially i only need the board and CPU, graphics card, and ram

    any recommendations for the type of graphics card i should look at? and whats the difference between all the different intel chipsets?

    or will i be better off buying a dell and then upgrading the ram and video card from there?
    Older HDDs may be slower. They are probably IDE as well. The SATA ones nowadays are more reliable. Older HDDs tend to break down also. I speak from experience. They are made to last about 5 years of regular use. So, it's good to buy a new one and use the old one as backup.

    You should buy dell if you want hassle free computing (with warranty and all), but you can't get the same computing power for the same price. The specs may look the same at first glance, but if you dig deeper, you will find things like integrated graphics with shared RAM, slower HDD, etc. If you upgrade until you get the same performance, then the price will exceed a custom built one. You will also save money from the original OS which you will transfer from your old PC? Dells come with OS preloaded and it's priced in.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Yes - difference between similarly configured DIY and branded PC like Dell is between $50 - $100 for a $1K PC. That's 10% premium for 100% compatibility, assembly and warranty. I will go DIY if I want something special. rty is correct about AGP cards. They (AGP) are now more expensive than the equivalent PCI-e cards and I think will be very difficult to find 2 years from now.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Quote Originally Posted by Kermitfm View Post
    Yes - difference between similarly configured DIY and branded PC like Dell is between $50 - $100 for a $1K PC. That's 10% premium for 100% compatibility, assembly and warranty. I will go DIY if I want something special.
    Like I said, you cannot compare like that. For starters, Dell usually uses their integrated graphics card that shares the RAM with the m/b RAM. That's a rather poor configuration, but saves lots of money for them. They get away with it most of the time because people who buy Dell usually don't know any better. If you upgrade to the next best option (GeForce 7300LE), you will need to pay $160. So, to keep it under $1000, you will need to throw out the LCD monitor, but they don't give you much for it because they need to think about their bottom line.

    How about HDD? They never mentioned anything about the speed. I hope you get at least 7200rpm. And the warranty? Remember that HDDs have warranty of about 3 yrs and above? If Dell buys those with a base warranty of 1 yr, they are cheaper than those you get from the shop. If you opt for 3 yrs warranty, you need to pay $118.

    I'm sure there's more if you dig deeper. Margin is thin, so they need to squeeze every bit of it... and they certainly add up.

    I'm not saying Dell is a bad deal...What I'm saying is, it's all priced in. You get a reasonable price since it's very competitive. But you need to pay for the warranty and the OS, that's for sure. My guess is, it's at least 20% in true value (if you look carefully and count the warranty and OS). Of course, if you don't already have an OS, then the maths is different.

    But I would recommend PC building only to people who really like doing it, because it's rather time consuming. You need to do research, go around Sim Lim to buy parts, put them together, and hope for the best. If some parts don't work, you need to make another trip to Sim Lim. Then you need to install the software, which takes many hours.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Need help building PC

    I think the best would be for you to go down to sim lim and check out the shops. Most of my friends never go near the place coz of it's dodgy reputation but as long as you go to the reputable ones you should be fine. I normally go to Bell / Fuwell. If you buy all the components from them they'll assemble it for free.

    I think for foto post processing its important to get more ram. The graphic card isn't that important unless you want to play some graphically hardcore games (you can still play cs on integrated graphics!!).

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Need help building PC

    Quote Originally Posted by antacid View Post
    thanks lots for the info.

    i intend to reuse almost everything like keyboards, mouse, DVD drives and maybe even the hard-disk.

    essentially i only need the board and CPU, graphics card, and ram

    any recommendations for the type of graphics card i should look at? and whats the difference between all the different intel chipsets?

    or will i be better off buying a dell and then upgrading the ram and video card from there?
    You want I sell you my PC, got it for Photoediting 1 year ago. Since you wanna use your own hard disk, the better. Except the video card is 128mb, all the rest meets your requirements. Now a bit gathering dust as I am busy and work from my laptop now.
    Andy Ang :lovegrin: - "A Photo speaks a thousand words. Have you spoken today?"
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