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Help me build my PC! (and spend my money!)

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Edit: Hey guys, I'm asking for how to improve my system's audio, not how to make a powerful PC, so I think you guys could give me some advice coz it couldnt be found elsewhere. I've bumped two times and still no reply? I guess its because u think I'm asking on how to build a fast computer, if so I would have already asked ppl at hardware forums. Anyways, all I'm asking is WHAT components do I need to upgrade in order to fully bring out the sound of my coming E-MU 1212m, coz some of my PC parts are REALLY cheap, like my motherboard and power supply, and also my cheap DVD ROM that's attached from IDE to USB, so I'm not sure if that'll make the card sound worse (or REAL worse)....advice plz!
post #2 of 14
Check out www.newegg.com for equipment. They have GREAT selection and service, and ship quickly.

Your power supply is fine. Quality is important there. If it is no name brand, that is not good. Antec is very good. If you do upgrade ps, go 400w+ .

As far as your DVD ROM goes, since it is "going", just replace it. You can get DVD writers for under $200 now that are 4x writing.

As far as cpu fan goes, there are many optional cooling fan systems out there.

Newegg as all you could ever want. Another good place is www.tigerdirect.com. Newegg is out of California i think, Tigerdirect is out of Miami.
post #3 of 14
I would just stick with Newegg and Mwave.com, both are out of CA but Newegg just added another warehouse in NJ. No offense Fredpb, but Tigerdirect is crap.
post #4 of 14
I build 1-2 systems per year and have a bit of advice.

NewEgg is a great place to buy from, but if you are in California you are going to pay sales tax. Might I suggest another great site, Monarch Computer, which also has great prices and is located in Georgia (meaning no sales tax if you are in California).

Monarch sells individual parts like NewEgg (with comparable prices), but can also build a custom system for you (I've used this service once, for my current computer, and am very happy with it) from name-brand parts (kind of like Dell, where you pick each component when you build a custom computer, except you are picking name-brand parts such as Western Digital, ATI, Asus, AMD, etc. instead of whatever Dell happens to use). I think their custom pc service is very reasonably priced (less than $50, which is pretty nice when you consider it includes verifying that the computer is functional and installing Windows, which can be a pain), and I think it comes with some type of warranty (with upgrades, a la Dell).

You know about some of the information that follows (Silent PC Review, E-MU 1212M, etc.), but I'll sum it up here for anyone else that might be building a PC soon too.

As far as individual components go, I suggest:

1) Very Quiet PSU. Silent PC Review is an outstanding source of information about quiet PC components, such as power supplies. I recommend you go there are check their recommendations.

2) Cheap motherboard. There are some great deals out there, but I'd be tempted to stick with a well-known manufacturer, such as Asus or ABit.

3) Processor. Go to PriceWatch to find the best CPU you can afford.

4) Memory. More = better. I'd try to get at least 512MB. I've been building systems with at least 1GB for at least the last 3 years.

5) Hard Drive. Look for a deal on a hard drive with an 8MB cache. On most computers, the hard drive is the component that slows down the computer the most. Check someplace like Anandtech's Hot Deals Forum for a deal.

6) External DVD-Rom. There should be some bargains out there. Again, use a service like PriceWatch to compare prices. An internal drive would be cheaper and will probably have better performance than a USB drive, however. As far as Sound Quality goes, there shouldn't be a difference, unless the USB is so slow that it can't keep up with the data being moved off the drive.

7) If you care about SQ, disable onboard audio, don't buy a soundblaster, and get an E-MU 1212M, though it is kind of expensive.
post #5 of 14
Is this a plan for a new PC or for upgrading your current?

What exactly are you planning on using your PC for? If it is just music, you can make many changes that will save you money and quiet it down.

Right now, I would say the main bottleneck is defintely the 256 of RAM. I would reccomend a minimum of 512mb (especially if you are going to run Windows XP), preferably around 1gb.

For hard drives, the Seagate 5400 RPM drives are supposedly among the most quiet, at the cost of speed of course.
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies! I'm sorry, but I forgot to post that I live in Hong Kong, but I'll see how much the dealers ( wow so many dealers) you guys provided would ship to HK.

Please note that I care most for Sound Quality when I'm looking in PSU's, the mainboard and the CD drives. I do want it to be quiet, but quiet is not SQ. My system is actually really quiet already, the noise outdoors covers the PC's noise. Speed is second, but that'll be about the Hard drive and CPU......is that right?

Actually I want to make a half dedicated music station like Iron_dreamer, and they've noticed how the CD ROM and power supply could affect the SQ, so as many other components I've just posted above.

Quote:
Scrith:

Cheap motherboard. There are some great deals out there, but I'd be tempted to stick with a well-known manufacturer, such as Asus or ABit.
Would my cheap motherboard make the power supply to my E-MU unclean?

Quote:
fredpb:

As far as your DVD ROM goes, since it is "going", just replace it. You can get DVD writers for under $200 now that are 4x writing.
And what about the hype on the NEC MultiSpin's? They're cheap but they're slow, but I'm reading audio CD's anyway, so speed is not a matter, just as long as the NEC can give me good SQ as a transport.

DVD R is too expensive for me, but I'd like a fast DVD ROM....it depends if the price between both is large. If it isnt, of course I'll buy the DVD R/W.

Quote:
Scrith:

...External DVD ROM...........
Umm...I just need an external CD ROM, so the NEC MultiSpin 3xp will do...I've checked the external DVD ROMs, a bit off budget.

So for my CD's, would it be: One NEC MultiSpin 3XP I'm ordering, One CD-RW Liteon 48x replaced by a DVD RW, or should I buy a new and cheap DVD ROM and keep the original CD RW?

Quote:
zachary80:

Is this a plan for a new PC or for upgrading your current?
I'm going to upgrade my current, or at least keep my E-MU 1212 m and Hard drives to the next PC I'm building. BTW, I like my PC case....^0^.

Quote:
zachary80:

For hard drives, the Seagate 5400 RPM drives are supposedly among the most quiet, at the cost of speed of course.
Great! Another option other than the Samsung, which is too new to the market. I'll see which is cheaper. (speed is not an issue as it's not my gaming/ system hard drive)

Quote:
Scrith:
.......Monarch Computer, which also has great prices and is located in Georgia (meaning no sales tax if you are in California). Monarch sells individual parts like NewEgg (with comparable prices), but can also build a custom system for you.......
I doubt that would be any use for me, as I think shipping a huge PC to Asia would cost me a million......

Quote:
Scrith:

Very Quiet PSU. Silent PC Review is an outstanding source of information about quiet PC components, such as power supplies. I recommend you go there are check their recommendations.
My PSU is almost inaudible within 1 feet, so I guess its a good one, plus its already quite expensive. I've compared it to an Antec, mines was much more quiet. But the main thing I'm concerned is whether I'll need a REALLY good power suppy thats more than $50 (mine's price) to bring the most out of, say, my E-MU 1212m + a HD650.

Quote:
Scrith:

3) Processor. Go to PriceWatch to find the best CPU you can afford.

4) Memory. More = better. I'd try to get at least 512MB. I've been building systems with at least 1GB for at least the last 3 years.

5) Hard Drive. Look for a deal on a hard drive with an 8MB cache. On most computers, the hard drive is the component that slows down the computer the most. Check someplace like Anandtech's Hot Deals Forum for a deal.

7) If you care about SQ, disable onboard audio, don't buy a soundblaster, and get an E-MU 1212M, though it is kind of expensive.
Thanks Scrith for your time...I do wish you could follow up a bit ...anyways, here it goes:

1) Memory: I agree on that one.
2) Is 8MB Cache more important? Coz my system drive is already 7,200 RPM. Maybe I should upgrade to my hdd's brother, the Baruccada V...which has more cache. But is my Seagate really too slow? I also feel it's a weak link speed-wise, but according to silentpcreview, its also the coolest and quietest hard drive at this disk size. Desicions~~~~~
3) The E-MU is almost here, I bought it through eBay....

Last Question:

Q: So, since I want to listen to both FLAC and using the external CD ROM as a transport, I wonder what I could do to boost my SQ. Is the USB-to-IDE adapter the weakest link? Or the faulty internal DVD ROM put externally? Plz advise (and rip my wallet)

edit: forgot to say: no amp, and no good headphone. I wanted to buy the CD3000, BUT ITS ALL SOLD OUT IN HK! damn, they tell me that it's discontinued (?) and the end stocks are all sold. WTF!
so, I WILL BUY something better than the HD600 for sure (I've even taken out the cash for the CD3K, damnit), just finding out for now. I'll settle with my lovable (ick) Senn 497's for now. Or maybe my speakers.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
edit
I want to add, does the NEC MultiSpin 3xp have an inbuilt DAC?
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
edit
post #9 of 14
lojay: why not an athlon xp with an integrated motherboard from a named brand such as MSI? an athlon xp CPU will give you better bang for you bucks and a motherboard from well-known manufacturers is less likely to fail.

PS where can i find audio technica headphones like W1000 in HK? i am coming back in a month
post #10 of 14
As for cleaness of power: I don't really think that it's going to make that much of a difference with an internal soundcard. There's already enough EM noise inside your computer that it won't make a difference. If you really need the cleanest power get the Silencer model from PC Power & Cooling. It's the absolute best quiet PSU on the market and puts out the best power, though they are expensive.

8MB cache isn't important for an audio-centered computer. It'll slow you down during HD intensive tasks but I don't think you'll notice a huge difference with what you're planning on doing.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
offtopic: Oh, goto Mong Kok, and its almost in ALL the hifi audio shops, even if not dedicated to headphones. But I'd recommend you go to "Tak Fat" Mall, which is a basement area near the famous "Lui Yan Street" i.e. "Women's Street". Also, theres a place called "Yau Shing Plaza" in MK which has its 6th to 11th floor dedicated to high end (well not so high end) audio. But beware, the guys at the 6th floor tried to swindle me once (coz i look small in age and i asked them for cd3000 ^^)

Mr Radar, thanks for your advice, so I think I don't need an upgrade on my power yet. I'll check the price for the Silencer Model anyways..... I hope it'll be a big upgrade in sound, but I have to wait til 6 days after when my E-MU arrives to see.

Hmmm.....so you guys think I need a decent brand name mobo? I'm seriously thinking about tht, but it'll mean buying a new computer. But my friends told me that the main difference between expensive branded mobos and cheap ones are only becoz of the amount of PCI slots and RAM slots....not true?
post #12 of 14
lojay: you pay for what you get especially computer hardware...because i came to the US i used to build computers for friends and i bought most of my stuff from 'golden' and 'mong kok computer center' so i know what i am talking about...

oh i never noticed AT headphones in 'Yau Shing' i always thought they only sell big screen TVs, portables, stereos, speakers and DVD players...
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hmm....so you think I should buy my hardware at Golden, or online? ^^
post #14 of 14
lojay, I grew up in Hong Kong and have only recently relocated back to the UK. I'd definately buy your components at Golden Shopping Centre. I built many rigs for myself, friends and family with parts from there.

Check out http://buycomp.hkgolden.com for pricelists. It's too depressing to look at for me - shows how much we're being ripped off in the UK

I used to find Videocom and Centralfield (memories of spending many afternoons down there) very helpful.
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