Advice on PC self-build components.

Posted on 2005-04-18
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
I want to build my own computer and know little about it.

I have a main task I would like it to fullfill and that is to find and compare data on a 1,000,000 record database 1000 times a day.
Secondary task is to edit/stitch photographs.
Then also general PC tasks

This is the spec I have put  together, I would just like people to comment on the hardware; not the supplier, it's combatibility and where the slowest point in the system might be for processing the database as well as anything I may have missed! (I don't realy want to be confused with 'I prefer the blahblah...' , just the facts

MotherBoard      MSI 915P Neo2 PLATINUM S775 800FSB PCI Express DDR533 SATA RAID ATX Motherboard 7.1 Audio Gigabit LAN Firewire      £92
Mem      Corsair XMS3200 1GB (2x512MB) 400Mhz Non-ECC Matched Pair      £117
CPU      Intel Pentium 4 640 3.2GHz LGA775 2Mb Cache 800MHz FSB Processor Prescott      £186
Hard Drive      Seagate Barracuda SATA NCQ 7200.7 80GB 8Mb Cache Hard Drive 7,200rpm 8.5ms      £82
TV tuner      Leadtek Winfast DV 2000 TV Tuner & Video Capture Card + 4 x IEEE1394 Firewire ports      £51
Case      Novatech 350W Zeus Tower PC Case      £25
DVD Writer            £40
Screen      Novatech 17" TFT Multimedia Flat Screen Monitor In Black & Silver      £135
Keyboard      Cooler Master Aluminium Silver Keyboard With Black Keys      £23
+ mouse and floppy drive
I do not need a modem as I have another machine with it and have Broadband & a router
I want to run the 2 disks as raid 0 for speed

Here are links to the products    Motherboard       (LGA775 socket)     Processor    Memory      x2 Hard Drives     Screen     Case     Keyboard     Tuner

Question by:susannahbond

    Accepted Solution

    Firstly, have you tried the main task you want to carry out on any other PCs so that you know whether what you want to do is achievable on a PC of this spec? You haven't mentioned whether you know this has any hope of running or not as you want it. Without knowing lots of other info. it isn't possible for anyone to be able to tell you that this will work or not.

    As you seem more interested in database work than anything else I would say the spec. is sensible. You haven't mentioned a graphics card and as far as I can see the motherboard does not have integrated graphics. Is this because you aren't too worried about the graphics card or because you forgot?

    Don't forget to have something to backup to (are you going to use DVD-RW for this? you haven't mentioned the size of the database.)

    Be careful with the LGA775 connector, the method of coupling the heatsink to the motherboard is cheap and nasty, not as good as Socket 475, I recently built a PC where I used a bit too much force and slightly bent the motherboard. Taking the heatsink off and re-mounting solved the problem but the basic mechanis don't help.

    I would be tempted to go for a slightly slower processor (3.0GHz?) and save money on this to spend elsewhere, maybe more memory (also see comments below).

    I know what you said about makes but...

    I personally stick to Intel motherboards to go with the processors, no compatibility problems and slick installation and monitoring tools.

    Don't spend all this money and then use a Novatech case, spend a bit extra on an Antec case, they really are worth it (good power supplies, good chassis and quiet fans).

    Lastly, check out E-buyer's prices. (
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks, thats good advice

    - Graphics cards
    I don't know what I can do without one, or what advantages I'd get from one.  I do edit Still photo's, don't play games, but do fancy having a TV card for a bit of fun.

    I will be adding a DVD-RW, just a basic one around £40, I'm not worried about back up as the data is entered on the web then sent to the PC for adding to the table.  I have a second PC at a different location, that will mirror the table.

    I will look into the LGA775

    Would it be worth dropping to 3.0GHz and upping the memory to  2GB ?

    I'll probably take your advice on the Antec case - I hadn't really given it much thought.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Looking at Raids, I think I'd like a RAID 5

    This is what it says about the Motherboard: I assume I'd need to add a raid controller ?

    Additionally the 915P Neo2 Platinum comes with four SATA ports capable of Matrix RAID via the ICH6R Southbridge, while two IDE ports support RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 powered by a VIA 6410 IDE RAID Controller.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Yes you would need an add in controller card for RAID 5
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    I would recommend an nVidia 6600GT video card as a good value.  I also notice that your power supply is only 350W - you should go for a 400W or better model that delivers 18a or more on the +12v rail.  This will ensure your quality components get a good source of power and let you add more components in the future.  Most people skimp on power supplies, which they should not, since it can affect whether the system is stable or runs at all.

    Expert Comment

    You will definitely need a graphics card!

    RAID5 is a good compromise between performance and resilience and is used on most file servers in businesses, but you should still have a backup by some other means. Perhaps an external drive on a USB2 port? I backup my computer every night by scheduling an unattended backup to disk. You may want to do this once a week and then take the external drive away from the PC to somewhere where it can't be damaged or nicked if this fate befalls the PC itself.

    I would recommend that you drop the spped on the processor and get the extra memory as I strongly suspect that this will make your PC quicker than your original spec. and you pay a lot for the few extra drops of performance from the slightly faster processor.

    I have used the Seagate drives you mention in a PC I've just built, so far so good. IBM/Hitachi drives are the work of the devil in my opinion (and yes, it is a sore point). Most of the major manufacturers seem to use Seagate (and I've got Seagate drives originally fitted in some of my IBM servers at work!)

    I assume that you will be able to provide the TV card with a good aerial input, I have found in the past that TV tuner cards need an input slightly better than a television would for an acceptable picture although I have limited experience of these.

    Screen - a bit slow on response time, looks horrible and has no DVI input. Shop around a bit more and you should be able to get something better from a known brand for not much more.

    Last suggestion - look at the ebuyer site for reviews on the products even if you don't want to buy from them, if there are more than a handful of reviews the rating is quite reliable and people will often throw up interesting tips for the product in question. The reviews tend to be more plentiful than on Novatech but as with all of these sites watch out if there are only a couple of comments about the product.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Any suggestions as to which memory ?

    Wil change  screen

    and add graphics card
    LVL 69

    Expert Comment

    Corsair is good, and 2GB would probably be better for picture editing.  Other good brands are Kingston HyperX, OCZ, Crucial, Mushkin, and Patriot.

    For LCD screens, I like Samsung for color, sharpness, contrast, and response time.

    Expert Comment

    Value for money screens - I like LG and Acer.

    Memory - I favour Kingston or Crucial although I believe Corsair are meant to be good too, just don't buy no-name generic memory.

    Graphics card - a colleague of mine who knows about graphic cards reckons that these days there isn't much to choose between cards based on nVidia or ATI chipsets. Don't go bonkers on the graphics card if you'll never play games on the machine. It is useful to get good bundled software with the card for fine-tuning the colour balance and other properties of the screen as TFT screens aren't as good as CRTs for photo rendition (but I would never go back to a CRT despite the fact I do a lot of photo work), with some decent software you can tweak the screen to make it good enough.

    Whatever means you use for the final print of your photos (I use Bonusprint's internet service) take some test photos, get them printed WITHOUT editing them from your preferred method of finishing (internet service, high street or your own printer) and then tweak the screen settings to get the best match you can to your photos. then in future when you edit a photo (especially colour balance, brightness and contrast) you can be reasonably confident that the final print will resemble what you saw on the screen.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    I use Bonusprints service as well
    My photo's are comercial photos of communication towers; I often have to stick a number together and end up with very large file sizes, the fine details of colour etc. are not important

    I will go for a basic graphics card.

    I have decided on a motherboard, but there seems to be three flavours, could anybody tell me the diffrence?

    MS-7028-050      MSI 915P Neo2-Platinum SKT775 PCI-E LAN USB2.0 DDR2 SATA - Retail Box
    MS-7028-020      MSI 915P Neo2 PLATINUM S775 800FSB PCI Express DDR533 SATA RAID ATX Motherboard 7.1 Audio Gigabit LAN Firewire
    MS-7028-010      MSI 915G Neo2 Platinum, 800FSB, 4xDual DDR2 533, PCI Express SATA, Raid
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks for all your help, I was hoping to squeeze that last bit of advice from you, but you have more than earned your points.

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