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Glasko
10-31-2004, 11:20 PM
Okay, after taking a lot of advice... this is what I've come up with;

Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor w/ HT Technology (3GHz, 800 FSB)
Microsoft® Windows® XP Home Edition
2Yr Ltd Warranty, 2Yr At-Home Service, and 2Yr Technical Support
1GB Dual Channel DDR SDRAM at 400MHz
3.5 in Floppy Drive
160GB Ultra ATA/100 7200RPM Hard Drive
16x DVD-ROM Drive + 48x CD-RW Drive
19 in (18.0 in viewable) M993 CRT Monitor
Sound Blaster® Live! 24-bit ADVANCED HD™ Audio
Dell A425 Speakers w/Subwoofer
Dell Quietkey Keyboard and Dell Optical USB Mouse
WordPerfect®, Powerful Word Processing
Integrated 10/100 Ethernet
No Installation Services

PRICE: $1,063

Anything I could be missing in running my LightWave3D? When I purchase Lightwave, too-- I want to make sure I'm right on. I have to wonder, does this include openGL (is it required)? I can't say I understand it... but this is a customized package from Dell.

Here are the specs for the Lightwave I'm buying:
Windows:

Pentium III or higher
Windows 2000, XP
TCP/IP Network Protocol Installed
512MB RAM
230MB hard drive space
Graphics Card- AGP Slot Interface, Full Open GL and DirectX support, 1024x768 screen res, 64MB onboard dedicated RAM per display.

(Also: Here are some default specs included in the system:
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gifDell Media Experience™
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gifAdobe® Acrobat® Reader 6.0
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gif56K PCI Data/Fax Modem
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gifIntegrated 10/100 Ethernet
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gifMouse included with Keyboard purchase
http://img.dell.com/images/global/configurator/general/bullet.gifIntegrated Intel® Extreme Graphics 2

architook
10-31-2004, 11:52 PM
A couple notes:

1) You need XP Pro to take advantage of hyperthreading. Not urgent though, it's not a huge deal so it's probably not worth the $ to upgrade to XP Pro.

2) You may not need the Soundblaster, often motherboards have good-enough sound onboard.

3) This is a Dell, so it's not an easily upgradable machine.

4) From the RAM, I can tell it's "last generation" motherboard, so your CPU is going to be pegged at a max of 3.2 Ghz forever. You'll basically need a whole new machine later to upgrade speed. You won't even be able to reuse the RAM on a newer Intel machine. (AMD ok though)

5) This machine isn't 64-bit capable. Newtek just announced a free 64 bit upgrade when 64 bit windows ships.

6) A cheap video card is OK, but you aren't even told what brand it is, so beware of getting not a "cheap" video card but a truly scummy one instead. A cheap ($70) ATI 9xxx series or Nvidia 5xxx series are fine. Another video brand, or onboard video (eeek!), or an ATI 7xxx are bad.

7) The included monitor is likely to be painfully low quality. This will bug you more than any other choice you make.

8) It's OK to drop the CPU speed one notch if it saves you $50 or more that you can use to boost your monitor.

9) Think one more time about building your own AMD machine. You'll have more control, better upgrading possibilities, and won't have to deal with Dell. Downside: more work on your end, but in the end you'll understand your machine better.

10) Don't fall for Dell's perpetual "special sale" offers that expire soon, or "special bundles for only $20 more" or anything.

Glasko
11-01-2004, 12:31 AM
A couple notes:

1) You need XP Pro to take advantage of hyperthreading. Not urgent though, it's not a huge deal so it's probably not worth the $ to upgrade to XP Pro.

Ah, thanks though-- I keep it in mind while I continue to work this.

2) You may not need the Soundblaster, often motherboards have good-enough sound onboard.

Ohh, okay, that will save me a few dollars then.

3) This is a Dell, so it's not an easily upgradeable machine.

Hrm... really? I was thinking of going with my current package and then replacing the video card with a newly purchased one. Would that be difficult to do?

4) From the RAM, I can tell it's "last generation" motherboard, so your CPU is going to be pegged at a max of 3.2 Ghz forever. You'll basically need a whole new machine later to upgrade speed. You won't even be able to reuse the RAM on a newer Intel machine. (AMD ok though)

Ah, is it more that the compuer would be sluggish? Or that I'd have trouble working with it 4-5 years down the line when new programs require new technology?

5) This machine isn't 64-bit capable. Newtek just announced a free 64 bit upgrade when 64 bit windows ships.

Wow... free? Well, I'll have to change my direction for that.

6) A cheap video card is OK, but you aren't even told what brand it is, so beware of getting not a "cheap" video card but a truly scummy one instead. A cheap ($70) ATI 9xxx series or Nvidia 5xxx series are fine. Another video brand, or onboard video (eeek!), or an ATI 7xxx are bad.

Yea, it's some onboard video card called "Integrated Intel® Extreme Graphics 2". I don't have the option of upgrading on the "customize" page.

7) The included monitor is likely to be painfully low quality. This will bug you more than any other choice you make.

I guess I assumed it would be quality. I was interested in the flat screen 19in (size above all). It it would be pathetic quality I'd be very disappointed.

9) Think one more time about building your own AMD machine. You'll have more control, better upgrading possibilities, and won't have to deal with Dell. Downside: more work on your end, but in the end you'll understand your machine better.

I'm on the AMD website, I'm just a little withheld on this because I just don't understand it well enough. I'm sure I could learn it, but it's more a question of time than anything else. In the end, I'd rather spend the money on what's best, though... where would I even begin in wanting to build the machine? I'd also be lost on where to purchase the product.

10) Don't fall for Dell's perpetual "special sale" offers that expire soon, or "special bundles for only $20 more" or anything.

Well, since these "special sales" are always available, I assumed this.

Again, thanks for helping me to work to put together the best machine possible. I'd hate to be an ignorant victim of misinformation. These websites sell with a lot of jargon, and it’s taking me some time to interpret it. I think it could be best for me to become knowledgeable, though. The ability to upgrade easily and spend less could be very worth the effort. I just need to know where to begin :).

architook
11-01-2004, 12:52 AM
BTW: nice artwork, you're going to have fun in LW.

And all of the following is pretty much nitpicks.
You see, modern computers, even cheap ones, run LightWave quite well. So we're talking about 10 and 20% effects here, not double or half speed/quality kind of thing.




Hrm... really? I was thinking of going with my current package and then replacing the video card with a newly purchased one. Would that be difficult to do?


Video cards are the easiest to change and upgrade, this would be no problem for you to do.
Dells make it hard to upgrade the CPU or motherboard or even power supply, but video card is no big deal on most machines.

So yes, you can just plug in a new card anytime.
You definately DON'T want to keep the onboard video though.


Ah, is it more that the compuer would be sluggish? Or that I'd have trouble working with it 4-5 years down the line when new programs require new technology?


Your machine won't be sluggish even with a cheap CPU. Sluggish usually comes from swapping due to low RAM.

But the problem with that mtherboard is it's the end of the line. So in 3 years, you decide you'd like to spend $400 to boost your render speed by 30% by plugging in a new CPU. But you won't be able to.. the top CPU speed you can use on that machine is 3.2 GHz.


I guess I assumed it would be quality. I was interested in the flat screen 19in (size above all). It it would be pathetic quality I'd be very disappointed.


"Flat Screen" doesn't mean LCD or sharp or anything. Dell is famous for really cheap and useless printers and really cheap and useless monitors.

You could go to your local electtronics store and LOOK at the monitor and be a lot more likely to get something good. A simple 17" LCD will cost you $350, but it'll be better than a 20" CRT and also last you for 5+ years.



[color=white]I'm on the AMD website, I'm just a little withheld on this because I just don't understand it well enough. I'm sure I could learn it, but it's more a question of time than anything else. In the end, I'd rather spend the money on what's best, though... where would I even begin in wanting to build the machine? I'd also be lost on where to purchase the product.


AMD's site won't help much. There's some online guides, like:
http://www.tomshardware.com/howto/20020904/index.html
And good books, like the Thomson book
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596006632/ref=pd_sxp_elt_l1/104-8294598-3411147

One big advantage to building a PC: you'll be confident in upgrading it, maintaining it, and diagnosing problems too. You have to learn a lot, but it's all useful.
In our office, we are forced to, with 10 PCs or so we always have to tinker. If we were PC ignorant, we'd spend a lot of (non productive) time on phone support, instead of just knowing to swap out a video card or whatnot.

architook
11-01-2004, 01:07 AM
And if you want to start looking at prices of computer PIECES, the one webpage to bookmark is http://www.pricewatch.com/ . This lets you find the cheapest stores for different parts. The trick is to order from out of state to avoid sales tax, and to watch out for over-priced shipping charges.

One nice part of this kind of site is it makes it easy to see your tradeoffs.
you can see exactly how much each change of CPU or RAM or hard drive will affect your options.


As some back-of-envelope tweaking, you might find all of the following basic parts on pricewatch:

$215 : Athlon 64 3200 90nm 939pin
$98 : Asus K8N 939 motherboard
$116 : 1GB PC2700 DDR RAM
$31 : DVD - CDRW drive
$78 : Nvidia 128MB FX 5700 video card
$99 : 200 GB serial ATA hard drive
$55 : Case and 400 W power supply [watch shipping charges though]
$87 : Windows XP upgrade

This is $780 for a system that's superior in every respect: 64 bit, faster, more expandable. It's missing a monitor though. You can get a cheap 19" to match the Dell for $177, but again I'd recommend a trip to your local Best Buy or whatever and look at them yourself, and spend say $400 on a good one. The case is also something that's good to get in person because it's usally expensive to ship.

So notice the price is cheaper than the Dell, especially since you still need a video card for the Dell.. But now you also have control of your design, and you end up with a much more future proof machine. You can experiment and see how you can change CPUs to a 3000+ or 3400+, add more RAM, etc.

meatycheesyboy
11-01-2004, 03:30 AM
$116 : 1GB PC2700 DDR RAM

This is $780 for a system that's superior in every respect
The RAM you've quoted is DDR333, his RAM was DDR400 but in every other category, I would agree the AMD64 is better in every resepect. And the upgrade from PC2700 to PC3200 is negligible.

architook
11-01-2004, 03:59 AM
The RAM you've quoted is DDR333, his RAM was DDR400 but in every other category, I would agree the AMD64 is better in every resepect. And the upgrade from PC2700 to PC3200 is negligible.

You're absolutely right, my mistake.
But actually I made another mistake, I counted two sticks of 512MB RAM. It's actually cheaper, faster, and more expandable to use 1 stick of 1GB RAM.
And for 3200 RAM, 1 GB is only $111, cheaper than my original estimate. :-)
Thanks!

MattClary
11-01-2004, 12:49 PM
I counted two sticks of 512MB RAM. It's actually cheaper, faster, and more expandable to use 1 stick of 1GB RAM.
Does that CPU/mobo not support dual channel memory?

Glasko
11-01-2004, 03:19 PM
Okay, just for kicks I've been working some computers in http://www.a2zcomp.com/. If can have a good computer built for me at a decent cost-- I'll have to lean towards that. I've also been talking to a few friends that could help me work it together if I end up doing the seperate peices (wish I had more time). Here's some specs I worked up at this a2z site a person directed me to;

AMD ATHLON 64 3000+ 2.0GHZ 512K PROCESSOR SOC (processor)
ECS 755-A Socket 754 Athlon64 DDR400 8X AGP M (main board)
SPEEZE AMD ATHLON / DURON 4800 RPM BALL BEARI (cooling fan)
1GB DDR333 PC2700 184pin DIMM Unbuffered Non- (memory)
WD WD1600JD WD CAVIAR SE 160 GB SATA HD 8.9MS (HardDrive)
Mistumi D359T5 BEIGE 3.5Inch 1.44MB Floppy Dr (Floppy Drive)
ATI RADEON (BY POWER COLOR) 9200SE 128MB AGP (Video Graphic Adapter)
SONY (CDU5211 WHITE) 52 IDE INT. CD-ROM DRIV (Cd-ROM Drive)
SONY (DDU1621/C1 BEIGE) 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-RO (DVD-Drive)
On board Sound & Game System - PC98 Audio HRTF (Sound Card)
On bord 10/100BASE-T Fast Ethernet LAN Contro (Network Card)
RAIDMAX ATX MT SILVER P4 420W UL P/S FRONT US (Case)
MICROSOFT INTELLIMOUSE OPTICAL EXPLORER CD W9 (mouse)
MICROSOFT INTERNET KEYBOARD PS/2 CDROM W9X (keyboard
CREATIVE LAB SBS 4.1 450 SPK 4 SAT SUBWOOF 66 (Speakers)
MICROSOFT WINDOWS XP PROFESSIONAL FULL VERSION (Operating System)
2 Year Warranty with assembly and testing

TOTAL: $1031 (-monitor)

This package does have a few college perks (DVD, CDRW), it includes ethernet and the professional version of XP (you said something about hyperthreading, so I took that into account). This still leaves me with some money to burn on a monitor. I'm starting to tread over my initial limit, which isn't a HUGE deal-- but I don't want to get carried away with things I don't especially need (more specifically, things that would be a waste contribiting nothing to the system for Lightwave performance). I've already got an internet connection, so I just went with the etherlink and didn't purchase a modem. As for the sound card, I actually have an SBLive5.1 on my current computer and I can easily move it. How does this video card look? By December, I want to be lightwaving it up :)

architook
11-01-2004, 05:30 PM
Does that CPU/mobo not support dual channel memory?

Yep, the 939 motherboard is dual channel. So it'd be slightly faster to use two (smaller) RAM chips. OK, I revise my recommendation again and go back to dual 512 MB chips. But checking Pricewatch again, the price for two of them is now $116, so it's $5 more.

Good catch, Matt.



For everyone else, the "939" motherboard is the newest style for Athlon, it will be around for many more years. One of the big appeals is that it uses "dual channel" RAM, meaning it can talk to two RAM chips at once. This is a speed boost of a few percent, always welcome. The old "754" motherboard styles are still very popular but will be left behind and unsupported by newer CPUs. The number "939" and "754" refers to the # of pins on the CPU style,and therefore the type of socket on the motheboard. Dual CPU Athlons are called Opterons, and they have 940 pins, so we get "939" "940" and "754" motherboards.

Glasko
11-01-2004, 05:57 PM
Yep, the 939 motherboard is dual channel. So it'd be slightly faster to use two (smaller) RAM chips. OK, I revise my recommendation again and go back to dual 512 MB chips. But checking Pricewatch again, the price for two of them is now $116, so it's $5 more.
Good catch, Matt.
For everyone else, the "939" motherboard is the newest style for Athlon, it will be around for many more years. One of the big appeals is that it uses "dual channel" RAM, meaning it can talk to two RAM chips at once. This is a speed boost of a few percent, always welcome. The old "754" motherboard styles are still very popular but will be left behind and unsupported by newer CPUs. The number "939" and "754" refers to the # of pins on the CPU style,and therefore the type of socket on the motheboard. Dual CPU Athlons are called Opterons, and they have 940 pins, so we get "939" "940" and "754" motherboards.
Hehe, I spent most of last night doing research and reading that tutoral page you gave me... very interesting stuff (actually, suprisingly less complicated than I feared it would be). It gives me some insight as to how my computer actually runs too. (Try to understand, before hand I only knew what I saw on the monitor ;)). While embarrasing on a site primarly directed at computer junkies, it's nice to learn what I'm doing since people here are so geared towards helping.. no elitism here as far as I can see. CGtalk is awesome.

architook: This is interesting. What's been difficult is distinguising between the various kinds of processors and items. Hey, if you had AIM or something do you think I could talk to you sometime? I'm still working through this-- thanks a ton for your help. Well, I need to take an exam, I'll be around later.

architook
11-01-2004, 05:58 PM
Okay, just for kicks I've been working some computers in http://www.a2zcomp.com/. If can have a good computer built for me at a decent cost-- I'll have to lean towards that.


OK, that's not an unreasonable plan, since you still have control over what components are used. These kinds of companies are called "whitebox" vendors, since they're generic, brandless. That's not a problem, though you obviously want a vendor with a good reputation. Sorry I don't know about A2Z specifically.





AMD ATHLON 64 3000+ 2.0GHZ 512K PROCESSOR SOC (processor)
ECS 755-A Socket 754 Athlon64 DDR400 8X AGP M (main board)
SPEEZE AMD ATHLON / DURON 4800 RPM BALL BEARI (cooling fan)
1GB DDR333 PC2700 184pin DIMM Unbuffered Non- (memory)
WD WD1600JD WD CAVIAR SE 160 GB SATA HD 8.9MS (HardDrive)
Mistumi D359T5 BEIGE 3.5Inch 1.44MB Floppy Dr (Floppy Drive)
ATI RADEON (BY POWER COLOR) 9200SE 128MB AGP (Video Graphic Adapter)
SONY (CDU5211 WHITE) 52 IDE INT. CD-ROM DRIV (Cd-ROM Drive)
SONY (DDU1621/C1 BEIGE) 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-RO (DVD-Drive)
On board Sound & Game System - PC98 Audio HRTF (Sound Card)
On bord 10/100BASE-T Fast Ethernet LAN Contro (Network Card)
RAIDMAX ATX MT SILVER P4 420W UL P/S FRONT US (Case)
MICROSOFT INTELLIMOUSE OPTICAL EXPLORER CD W9 (mouse)
MICROSOFT INTERNET KEYBOARD PS/2 CDROM W9X (keyboard
CREATIVE LAB SBS 4.1 450 SPK 4 SAT SUBWOOF 66 (Speakers)
MICROSOFT WINDOWS XP PROFESSIONAL FULL VERSION (Operating System)
2 Year Warranty with assembly and testing

TOTAL: $1031 (-monitor)



You can drop the CD drive, the DVD/CDRW plays CDs too. That'll save you $5 or $10.

XP Pro is useful, but you can save a few dollars by going down to Home version. The Pro version is needed for hyperthreading (which doesn't apply) and for fancier backup tools, but Home is just fine.

If you're going to college.. smaller speakers are better. Both because you can't usually blast the volume in a dorm anyway, and more importantly, size and space matters in a small room! In fact I'd almost recommend just bringing headphones... though playing music while working on homework or whatever is also nice.. your call. You can always add them later.

The Radeon 9200SE would work. It's a special "TV out" version of their low end card. It's a $38 part. I said before that low end video is OK for LightWave. You might go just one notch higher though, and get a $77 GeForce FX 5600 128MB or a $78 RADEON 9600 128MB. They'd help with the occasional game, too.

Very good hard drive, no problem with that one.

Microsoft brand mouse and keyboard are good quality. But they're also expensive. You are probably paying $100 for the pair. You can find both in every range of quallity right down to $2 each. Your call, especially keyboard is often a very personal choice.

Floppy is almost useless, but probably it's only $5. You call.



Last point is most important, the boatherboard. You chose a "754" style motherboard, which is the older and cheaper style. Here, you definately want to spend the $10 extra and get the 939-style motherboard. Basically the 939 is more modern and will allow you, 2 years from now, to plug in a 5000+ CPU.. an upgrade which will give an older machine a couple extra years of life. The 754 will top out at 3500. The 939 board will even accept next year's "dual core" cpus, which could turn your machine into a full dual-cpu rendering monster.
Anyway, this is definately worth the $10 or $20 extra. The CPU costs for 754 and 939 are the same.

Keeping the lower-end 3000+ CPU is fine. Easy to upgrade that part later! :-)

As Matt pointed out though, you do want to get TWO sticks of RAM, not one, for speed reasons. 2 512MB sticks is the obvious choice.

Glasko
11-01-2004, 10:43 PM
Well, I've been reading that Tutorial (http://www6.tomshardware.com/howto/20020918/index.html), and I found the Athlon64 3200 90nm 939pin processor at Best Buy for a little over 200 dollars. With that, I've come down with the final decision to build, but I'll be doing most of my purchasing from local computer stores (using the prices you gave me as a good referance for what's fair value). I'm going with the duel RAM, and I chose on a monitor (Viewsonic 17'' LCD Flat Panel Monitor 16ms response) for $379. Now the building process. I got my dad into the project, so we'll get to work on this and learn the whole deal together. I spent a little time talking to somebody at Best Buy who gave me some tips on where to find good supply plugs and assembly materials, also a case with the power supply. Thanks for the help, wish me skill! I'll be sure to show you guys my first endeavors in LW8 :D

architook
11-02-2004, 01:34 AM
Well, I've been reading that Tutorial (http://www6.tomshardware.com/howto/20020918/index.html), and I found the Athlon64 3200 90nm 939pin processor at Best Buy for a little over 200 dollars. With that, I've come down with the final decision to build, but I'll be doing most of my purchasing from local computer stores (using the prices you gave me as a good referance for what's fair value). I'm going with the duel RAM, and I chose on a monitor (Viewsonic 17'' LCD Flat Panel Monitor 16ms response) for $379. Now the building process. I got my dad into the project, so we'll get to work on this and learn the whole deal together. I spent a little time talking to somebody at Best Buy who gave me some tips on where to find good supply plugs and assembly materials, also a case with the power supply. Thanks for the help, wish me skill! I'll be sure to show you guys my first endeavors in LW8 :D

Woahm that's a good price for that CPU, grab it.
It's also a CPU that's wonderful for overclocking, you'll easily be able to boost the speed 15-20% for free with no effort.

Monitor looks good, you'll be happy.
Note that the prices I quoted will be hard to beat, those are the best online prices, but yeah, just use them as a guide.

One last trick, you can often move a copy of Windows from your old computer to your new one. Microsoft's XP price is a pretty large fraction of the price of a computer these days. One trick is to buy an old BROKEN computer on Ebay just for the license of Windows it comes with, and throw away the computer. :-)

Happy building, it can be fun.

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