Hello world! Before I get into the list of computer guts I've researched so far I thought I'd introduce the idea of what I'm looking for. I'll split this post up into 3 different sections for quick reference. 1. What I've done so far. My budget is flexible though I'm consider maxing out at around $1,500 or $1,600 if it is possible (for the goodies that I'm looking for). The current components/parts that I've been looking at have totals ranging from $1,300 to $1,600 before taxes (mostly from newegg.com). I'm not really sure where to go to get the best deals. I asked someone at a local computer shop about newegg and they said they probably can't beat or match newegg's prices. I've been doing research and I will continue to do research. So far it has included mostly online digging. I've also been doing price comparisons on all the "guts" of the computer and will keep comparing prices as I modify my list. I've been asking around, online and in person, though these forums look like an excellent place to get gobs of great advice. Once I decide on the parts/components that I'll purchase I'll go ahead and get them, though I will also continue reading several "how to build a computer" websites. Though, I have yet to find the absolutely perfect "howto" guide for building, they all seem to be missing something or out of date. This is really an exciting thing, my new computer is going to be another one of my babies. I look forward to the whole experience and of course I hope to goodness I don't make a boo-boo and end up melting, bending, breaking, etc. anything before/during/after the build process. (Crossing my fingers.) I won't deny it: I am a little worried about matching parts correctly, making sure all of the hardware is compatible (as well as high quality). That also includes wanting to make sure I have matching chipsets or similar parts that seem to be specific to the motherboard, from CPU to RAM to anything (everything) else. 2. The purpose in my new computer. As you can see from the subject, the purpose in my new baby will be for gaming and music. It will also have some minor additional multimedia purposes. The primary purpose of the new computer: Music & Gaming. The secondary purpose: TV/movies/multimedia. Regarding gaming: I was invited to privately test a game that is in alpha/beta/etc. stages of production and it requires more computer muscle than what I currently have. I'm not much of a computer gamer, though this one is the exception, it's a must have/must play (at least for me, personally). I will definitely be wanting to get some very awesome gaming gear for this particular MMO game. Regarding music: I am a professional musician and require the ability to record out of my music lesson studio. Any functions that would benefit my music instruction would be great, too. I teach guitar, bass guitar, drumset, and percussion. The tv, movies, and other multimedia functions should be pretty easy, though I might need a few hardware components with special features if I want to ever hook the computer up to a tv (or perhaps hdtv) in the future. Some nice DVD rip/burn functions would be nice, though that can probably work fine with the appropriate software. Those are only a couple aspects of that purpose in the computer, otherwise I can simply watch the tv shows and movies on my computer as I do now. For gaming, I am looking into a few obvious things - nice graphics/video card for example, perhaps a "gaming pad" so I don't stress my normal keyboard out. I've heard NVIDIA is crossplatform but ATI is not (I run Windows and *nix). For music, I am looking into similar - nice audio/sound card for example, perhaps an external sound module to bridge the sound card to any additional external components (boards or instruments). I've heard mixed opinions on Sound Blaster, and am unfamiliar with other options. For tv/etc., I'm guessing I'll need s-video capability, though am not sure what else. The game will be running on Windows Vista, everything else will be Linux/Unix (specifically Ubuntu Studio, OpenBSD, Solaris, and a "floating" extra *nix (partition reserved for testing different Linux distros and Unix flavors). The short-term goal is to have a computer immediately ready for gaming that also includes the basic components for producing music. The long-term goal is to maintain the gaming component requirements but mostly to add to the music producing aspect of the computer. I hope to eventually have a true home studio for use with teaching music lessons, composing music, and especially recording music. A few juicy requirements for my first build are: 64-bit, quad core, at least 1 TB hard drive, at least 4 GB RAM, graphics/video card that can handle a game that won't be released until 2009, sound/audio card that can handle hardcore music production (composing and recording). Does anyone have any suggestions or recommendations on computer components? Stick with what I'm listing below or get something else? Am I mismatching components? Are any of the parts listed already outdated (meaning I'd be better off spending a few more bucks for a more recent version)? 3. The Guts, version 1.0 (the current list of components/parts I'm looking at). cpu: AMD Phenom X4 9950, Black Edition. $173.99 (newegg.com) cpu comments: On the Intel vs AMD subject, I honestly like both, though for my first computer I want an AMD. The game I'm testing requires a minimum 2 GHz dual core. The music I'll produce, I'm not sure yet. motherboard: ASUS M3A AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 Chipset ATX. $79.99 or $56.25 (newegg.com) motherboard comments: There were 2 versions of what appeared to be the exact same board, confused me. Plus, if there's a newer and better motherboard at a comparable price, I can go for that. Though, that applies to all the computer parts. <grin> RAM: Kingston, 4GB 800MHz DDR2 CL6 DIMM. $60.49 (newegg.com) RAM comments: I can't remember if that's ECC or Non-ECC. I have read about both, regarding error correction, performance, similar, though am not really sure which to go with. The game I'm testing requires, I believe, either 2 GB or 3 GB minimum. hard drive: Seagate 1TB SATA-II. $129.99 (newegg.com) hard drive comments: I think that's a barracuda. Is there a difference in compatibility with motherboard between a SATA and SATA-II hard drive? case: Logisys CS888UVBL. $64.99 (newegg.com) case comments: I'd love to have an all-clear case with a little bit of the pretty glowing lights. I hope an all-acrylic case is okay. If there is a better one than this, which I'm sure there is, I can get the other one instead. power supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX (ATX). $114.00 (newegg.com) ...or... Kingwin MACH 1 ABT-600MA1S (ATX). $119.99 (newegg.com) ...or... [[[THERMALTAKE Toughpower, W0155RU.]]] [[[$319.99 (newegg.com)]]] [[[$299.99 (tigerdirect.com)]]] power supply comments: I'm very unfamiliar with power supplies, I'd like to understand these better and have a better awareness of what is available. video/graphics card: PNY, NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT. $119.99 (newegg.com) ...or... EVGA 512-P3-N873-AR, GeForce 9800 GTX+. $199.99 (newegg.com) video card comments: There are so many choices of video cards that it is overwhelming. I believe Linux/Unix works better with NVIDIA than ATI. If that's correct, then I'll get NVIDIA... just not sure which NVIDIA to get. I do know that the game I'm testing requires "Shader Model 3.0 capable Video card, Direct X 9c, 256 MB RAM" and I think they suggest a PCIe card instead of PCI. I'm hoping the drivers will also be okay or current. Now since AMD and ATI have teamed up, would it still be okay to run NVIDIA with an AMD cpu? I'm guessing yes, though don't know if there is a disadvantage to it. sound card: Asus Xonar D2. $179.99 (PCI? PCIe?) (newegg.com) ...or... Create labs SB X-FI Titanium. $99.99 (newegg.com) sound card comments: The sound card is very important to me. I am willing to go much higher in price as long as I will be able to fully utilize what I'm paying for. I'm not really familiar with the possibilities in quality sound cards for professional musicians (for composing and especially recording). dvd: SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R. $25.99 (newegg.com) ...or... LG 22X DVD±R. $25.99 (newegg.com) dvd comments: These look pretty generic, I'm guessing there are some very nice options better than these. I've considered blu-ray, though haven't resolved on that option just yet. I might go blu-ray for more multimedia flexibility, though my current DVD collection consists of only the "old" kind of DVDs. monitor: SAMSUNG 2253BW Black 22". $269.99 (newegg.com) ...or... Acer X223Wbd Black 22". [[$189.99 (newegg.com)]]] [[[$179.99 (A179-2240, tigerdirect.com)]]] monitor comments: I'd absolutely love to get a larger monitor, though one of these options would be (I'm guessing) decently priced for what I'd be getting. Others in the group that I'm testing that game with have shared that anything larger than 30" is not worth it. I may stick to the low to mid "20s". It depends on the price and quality. I may also add 2 more monitors in about a year from now. Plus, I would love to have 1680x1050 or even higher, and LCD appears to be restrictive with resolution limits. keyboard: Razer Lycosa Gaming Keyboard. $79.99 (newegg.com) keyboard comments: Seems basic enough, yet fitting for gaming without being distracting for non-gaming purposes. I don't want one of those huge, gaudy, and/or bulky keyboards <wink>. I don't think I want a wireless. I'll also be purchasing a music keyboard to place on the desk by the computer keyboard (a MIDI controller keyboard, only 1 or 2 octaves), though haven't really found a decent MIDI keyboard yet. gaming pad: Belkin N52 Tournament Edition. $69.99 (newegg.com) game pad comments: This, or something comparable, would be wonderful and could help extend the life of the keyboard. There weren't really a lot of options where I looked (newegg, tigerdirect, and google's "shopping" pages so far). mouse: Microsoft Sidewinder Gaming Mouse. $51.99 (newegg.com) mouse comments: I really hesitated at first, though after digging through a whole bunch of gaming mice this one seemed like a decent choice. I don't think I want a wireless. speakers: Logitech X-540 Surround Sound Speakers. $78.99 (newegg.com) ...or... [[[Logitech Z-5500 THX 5.1, 505w, DD, DTS.]]] [[[$246.99 (amazon.com)]]] [[[$302.99 (newegg.com)]]] [[[$259.99 (tigerdirect.com)]]] speakers comments: Similar to the sound card, the speakers are also very important to me. I am willing to go much higher in price as long as I will be able to fully utilize what I'm paying for. I'm not really familiar with the possibilities in quality computer speakers for professional musicians (for composing and especially recording.) I understand some sound cards are 7.1, though I have only found 5.1 speaker sets. mic: [[[Labtec Verse 333 PC Microphone.]]] [[[$9.99 (tigerdirect.com)]]] mic comments: This is totally optional. It does bring up the idea of a webcam, and although some LCD monitors come with mic+cam built-in, I'm not sure yet if there is an ideal monitor that offers that. headset: TRITTON AX51 Audio Xtreme 5.1. $69.99 (newegg.com) headset comments: This is a good idea for gaming. The AX51 appears to be a pretty decent microphone+headphones combo. I like that the speakers cover the ears completely. That's important. Though I couldn't find any other headsets with ear-covering speakers that appeared to be of good quality. UPS: APC Smart-UPS. [[[$179.00 (ebay.com)]]] [[[$689.99 (newegg.com)]]] [[[$319.99 (tigerdirect.com)]]] ...or... APC Back-UPS RS Battery Backup. [[[$192.00 (blazintech.net)]]] [[[$380.99 (newegg.com)]]] [[[$199.99 (A75-2324, tigerdirect.com)]]] UPS comments: This is vital. I have one word to explain why I need this: Illinois. Okay, two words: Illinois Power. LAN network card: ? LAN comments: I'm guessing a motherboard will have an integrated network card, though I'm not sure if I should get a different one. I saw an advert for a special "gaming" network card, it was around $300 I think. I wonder if it's really worth all of those pennies. wireless network card: ? wireless comments: It's a desktop, so I don't know if this is really necessary. Yet, if my internet cuts out, I could always borrow my neighbor's (I have permission). One concern is getting a wireless that works well with Linux and Unix. There seems to be a long history of issues with wireless and *nix. wireless router: ? wireless comments: Perhaps one of the newest linksys models. I have an old Dell wireless router, though it's pretty shatty. Cable modem: ? cable modem comments: This is a new addition to the list. My current one only recently started crapping out on me, the tech looked at it and said I need a new one if I want to avoid those pesky intermittent connections. (Oh, I don't think I'll be needing an old fashioned 14.4 or whatever modem <wink>.) Two more recent additions to the list: A "cpu cooler", perhaps similar to "Zalman CNPS9500 AM2" (or a more Phenom-friendly one). Some "Arctic Silver 5" thermal solution (to put a pea-sized drip on the actual AMD, I'm guessing). chair: ...by "Office Furniture in a Flash". Different models... I won't list them here. I'd like a high-back with cushioned armrests if possible. My previous computer chair was a cheap junker from Walmart. Though, I also had it for several years and it had gone through quite a bit of abuse. desk: I found a "Gaming Station Computer Desk", "Sauder Javelin Computer Desk", and "Suader Ellipse Desk", though don't really know what would be appropriate. I'm avoiding those CD storage slots, am interested in something very basic. I'm tempted to just get a table, though am guessing an actual "desk" would be a good idea. laptop stand for desk: I found the "Allsop Metal Art" brand "corner monitor/notebook stand", though it's the only one I found so far.