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yet another mac guy buying a pc... help please.

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ok, so I decided to get a pc just for flight sims and flight sims only. The key is that I know nothing about pcs. I know buying all the parts and putting it together myself would be cheaper, but I just can't attempt that. So, that said, I checked out the prices at 3 online stores: PCclub, Alienware, and dell. hopefully someone out there can help with these questions: I've noticed that there are quite a bit of options with these things, such as mobo, power supply, and cooling fan. How important is it to get a certain brand? Also, it seems that Athlon is better than a P4? I would assume that the GeForce 4600 is the way to go as far as video card is concerned. Also, is what is the diff between RDRAM and DDR? the bottom line is I just want to plug this thing in and fly with nice high framerates... The prices I got were ranged from $1600 to $2380 (i tried to compare using the same items: Athlon 2100512 ddr80gb driveGeForce 4600the only difference is that with alienware.com I was able to spec the board, power supply, and fan... Anyway, I know these posts are pretty boring, but I really need some advice. thanks...L3

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Guest SD Sim

Hi Mike,I think I've climbed a little bit on the PC curve to the point where I can give you some advice. First, while at one time the AMD Athlon was the fastest CPU, Intel's latest P4 offerings (2MHz and up) now take the lead. However, you will pay much more for that edge. If you compare a AMD CPU with a P4 CPU, both having the same clock speed (MHz), then AMD is much cheaper. When it comes to memory, RDRAM (rambus RAM) was designed specifically for the P4 CPU, and a fast CPU coupled with RDRAM will be a very exceptional machine. Again, you will likely pay a premium for this set-up. Now, if price is an object, then you may want to go with an AMD Athlon equiped system (XP1800 to XP2100) coupled with DDR (double data rate) RAM. Here you have options of PC2100, PC2400, or PC2700. The higher the number, the faster the memory. Faster is better, but that's true only up to a point. This is where things are still a little fuzzy to me, and involves issues of front side bus speeds for the CPU and bandwidth. These are topics that I can't help you with. But if you want to learn more, look for posts by Elrond, Max, or PaulL01. In short, I would get what you can afford.As for video cards, the GF4 Ti4600 is the best graphics card (or at least the most expensive :-lol) that you can currently buy. While a good video card is desirable, flight simulators such as MSFS2K2 are very CPU bound, so you want to focus on the fastest CPU and memory that you can afford, and then turn your attention to the video card. A GF3 Ti200 is still a perfectly good card. If you want something better, but want to save cash, then go with a GF4 Ti4200.Finally fans and power supplies are important, but what you need is system dependant. In general, make sure that your PS supplies at least 300W. The fan you need depends to a degree on the speed of the CPU - faster CPUs run hotter and need more cooling, which translates into either a faster fan, or better conducting material (copper versus aluminum). In general, an aluminum heatsink with a 4K rpm fan should be just fine. However, with my XP1800, I found that the above left my CPU too hot, and cooling was significantly improved using a 7K rpm fan and copper heatsink (very loud though).So there's my thoughts. Let me know if you have more questions.

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L3,There are many options as you have mentioned and seeing as this PC is for flightsim only, you'll want the best bang for your buck. I wouldn't advise choosing a Dell as your limited to upgrades down the track and can't specify brands etc. I don't know how the other stores you have looked at compare.If this is the case, you cannot go past AMD's XP series of CPU's. AMD are quite a bit cheaper than the P4. They maybe lower clocked than the P4, but they perform just as well as the higher clocked P4.The selection of socket A motherboards is greater. Most bigger brand board makers such as Asus, Epox or Abit offer a range of options for chipset, RAM type, oboard features. Stick to one of these brands and you won't go wrong.Two boards I would suggest you look into are The Asus A7V333 or the Epox 8K3A+ Both good, solid boards, they run the KT333 chipset. You can use either PC2100 or PC2700 DDR Ram, I'd suggest using the latter, it's not too much more expensive and a little faster. Stick to a brand like Corsair, Crucial or Samsung. If you choose the latter ensure it's not the fake stuff that's going around. If it were me, I'd go Corsair.In regards to the videocard, you'll probably be best buying the GeForce 4 Ti4400. The clock speeds are that much slower than the Ti4600, you will not see any significant difference in the frame rate with the Ti4600. Best to put the money you would save towards something else like RAM or a better case. Stick to a brand like Leadtek, Gainward or Asus.Power supply, since you're going to be running a beast of a machine stick to something in the 400/430 watt range, no less. 300 is the bare minimum, but it's best to get something with a little more grunt.Cooling is a vital part of running a stable system. There is a whole stack of coolers out there today. Dan's Data website has a cooler roundup you should check out. http://www.dansdata.com/coolercomp.htmMy suggestion for a system is:CPU: AMD XP2100+ CPUCooler: For the Asus board a Swiftech MCX460 w/ 80MM (I have the Asus motherboard w/ the Swiftech) or for the Epox a Thermalright AX7 w/ 80MM DeltaMotherboard: Asus A7V333 or Epox 8K3A MotherboardRAM 512MB Corsair or Samsung PC2700 DDR (512MB minimum)Video: Leatek GF4 Ti4400Theres plenty of cases around too. Make sure you get one with plenty of room, and if you can, a few fans for additional cooling. Lian Li make aluminium caes, they're excellent but a bit expensive.Good luck with whatever you chose!

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Well, Braun seems to be busy elsewhere, so I'll take a shot at this.Alienware builds computers for the gamer. That alone would make them the obvious choice. Hopefully some Alienmare owners will see this post and offer their input.As far as what the priorities should be, here's my recommendations:Spend the extra few dollars for a good power supply. I run a 430 W Enermax and have never regretted the $100.00 it cost. A good power supply is cheap insurance against any number of frustrating glitches.You mention a fan... I take that to mean you are referring to the CPU Heatsink/fan combo. This is not nearly as important as the case it all lives in. Look to move as much air as possible through your gaming computer. The more fresh air the better. Cases like Lian Li and the Coolermaster ATC series work very well, and you can put some pretty wild fan combinations in them. Remember, Cool is the Rule!There are many good motherboards available to the gamer. Most are more expensive than the average desktop flavor motherboard. Brands like ASUS, Abit, Epox, MSI, Soyo (no doubt I'm leaving out someone's favorite MB manufacturer... sorry in advance) are popular with gamers.Memory manufacturers that come to mind are Crucial, Corsair, Kingston, Samsung. Specify non-ECC ddr memory, preferably PC2700 (best bang for the buck at this time).If as you say you will use your new box for flightsimming only, you could probably get by with a motherboard with on-board sound. Popular add-on sound cards include Creative, Turtle Beach, Hercules.As far as a video card, I would recommend against the GF4 4600. The 4400 can easily be overclocked to 4600 performance, and you could put the $ you save elsewhere in the system. Also, don't expect to keep that Nvidia card very long. Nvidia has a product cycle of approximately 6 months. Personally, I wait for them to introduce a new line and then I buy the previous generation card. Until they offer some truly earth shattering new technology I will continue to buy my Nvidia cards this way. I bought my current GF3 Ti200 a few weeks after the GF4's came out. I paid only 65% of what the same card would have cost me three months earlier.I hope I've helped in some way. As this will be your first PC, and you intend to use it only for flightsimming, perhaps your best route would be a gaming computer manufacterer like Alienware. They will be able to guide you to your best choices.My system specs for this box I built:AMD Athlon Thunderbird 1.4Ghz overclocked to 1.5GhzASUS A7M266, AMD761 Northbridge/VIA Southbridge (very stable) 512 MB PC2100 DDR Crucial memory (2 256MB sticks)Gainward GF3 Ti200 Golden Sample overclocked to 240/500 Core/Memory using Nvidia 21.85 driversSony E400 19" MonitorTurtle Beach sound cardMaxtor 40Gig ATA 133 7200 RPM Hard DriveCreative CD-RW and CD-ROM drives, Iomega 100 MB Zip DriveCoolermaster ATC case with 70CFM of air moving in, 65CFM exhaust, Coolermaster Heatpipe on the CPU, round IDE and floppy cablesThrustmaster Cougar HOTAS #4879, CH Products USB Rudder PedalsGood luck, and remember that there are plenty of folks here willing to assist you,Edit: Well since I got distracted after starting this reply I can see David and John got their suggestions in first. They are quite savvy about hardware issues, and you can't go wrong with their recommendations.

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Guest SD Sim

MHz CPU :-lol :-lol MHz!! :-lol :-lol !!!I must have been having flashbacks to my old MacPlus days (daze?). Ahh, remember those old days - floppy disk swapping to the point where you splurged for a second external floppy drive!!

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Well, I would just like to thank all of you who took the time to reply. I really appreciate it. I will do a bit more research, and am sure that I will probably post more questions. thanks again...L3

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Greg, it appears that your system will explode at some point in the future. The time you have left would be a bit complicated to figure...based on the average temperature and pressure of the air in your room, you could figure the compressability of the air. Once you determine the air pressure of a system that receives 5cf more per minute than it releases, and the strength of the weakest assembly joint in your case, you'd have an idea of how many minutes before "POW".(just havin a bit of fun!)B

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OK Bob, I went right to work on this. Using a density value of the air here (sea level at 74 degrees... close enough) of .002378 slugs per cubic foot I made some preliminary pressure calculations. I then went for a summit with Mr. Bernoulli. Now he said that because we're dealing with subsonic airflow that we can assume the airflow is incompressible. But, of course I want to make sure. So I spent some time studying the profile of the blades of each of the fans in this box, and I believe I've come up with a viable interpolation of total Cl/Cd. From this data I then plotted an aerodynamic performance polar for this computer (a side benefit is that I now know it's V speeds :-lol ), and from this I was able to arrive at the aerodynamic pressure values and then begin the structural calculations.Hold on a second, I'm finishing the calculations now... HOLY COW!!! I GOTTA GET OUTA HERE... IT'S ABOUT TO BLOW!!!:-beerchug Thanks for the heads-up, you might very well be responsible for saving my life.

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I priced out a maxed out system at alienware.com, but couldn't get it under $2300. Called PCclub.com and had them price it out over the phone instead of me using their website. Athlon XP2100512 PC2700 (no name brand, not crucial, or corsair. is that ok?)GeForce Ti4400Asus A7V333 boardregarding the case, he said that since I wasn't using alot of extra devices, a powersupply of 350w should be fine. he also said that one fan in the case should be fine as well. they don't have alot of options when it comes to cases. Any thoughts?Since I plan to use MSFS, as well as FLYII, should I get more memory? Is the memory more important than the cpu speed? Anyway, all this plus keyboard monitor blah blah blah is around $1600. I would assume that this setup would get me some pretty high framerates, and nice smooth polygons???? anyway, thanks for all the input.L3

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Well, like most things in life this comes down to money. To answer your questions:512 MB of memory should be enough to run the popular sims. I'm more concerned about the "no name brand" part of the deal. I'm one of those folks who learned the hard way the importance of using good quality memory in computers. And a hard, frustrating lesson it was.The set-up you show from PCclub.com looks very balanced (except for the unknown memory manufacturer), and should give you good performance. I kind of get the feeling PCclub.com is shaving corners trying to get you to bite on their lower price. Remember that you will get exactly what you pay for. Can't say I'm impressed with their case (probably because there wasn't enough info in your post). I will tell you this: I've had my Coolermaster ATC case for about four months, and the only way I would give it up is if someone pried it from my cold, dead hands. It works that good, and was well worth the $200.00 I paid for it (and the assortment of fans). And the top of the line 400+W power supply will only cost a few dollars more than the 350W.Just my 2 cents worth.Curious if you have visited the MSFS Forum here at Avsim and seen the post from the guy who just bought a Falcon NW computer. Just another option.Let us know how you're getting along with this endeavor,

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(holding my sides)ENGINEERING HUMORhehehehLOLDUCK!B

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Thanks for the tip. I checked out the site, and ran the numbers... $2100 gets me:athlon 2100coolermaster ATC 201 caseenermax 450w power supplyasus A7V333 boardcoolermaster sink/fan512mb PC2700 (crucial)120gb driveGeForce Ti4400the only drawback is the wait (3+ weeks) but if that means I won't have any problems running the sims, thats fine with me. I can't remember what is more important for MSFS: cpu speed or memory? anyway, how does this setup sound? Again, I want to thank all the input, because it certainly makes this easier.L3

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athlon 2100... da bombcoolermaster ATC 201 case... love mineenermax 450w power supply... clean, consistent powerasus A7V333 board... the "asus" says it allcoolermaster sink/fan... not sure what flavor this is. The Heat Pipe wins512mb PC2700 (crucial)... this is a no brainer120gb drive... is this enough? :-lol GeForce Ti 4400... best bang for the buck$2100.00... you may want to take them up on their offer before they change their minds. Looks to me to be a killer box. The only tough part about the deal is the 3 week wait. But it WILL be worth it.Let us know what you finally decide,

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Sounds like a perfect system my friend. Stable, quick and she'll run Flightsim nice and quick. :)

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well, today I threw caution at the wind and phoned up falcon and ordered the following:Coolermaster ATC-201 Aluminum Mid TowerEnermax Whisper 450 Watt Power SupplyAsus A7V-333 5PCI USB2.0 AMD USE PC2700AMD Athlon XP 2100+Coolermaster Socket A CPU Heatsink/FanPC2700DDR 1024MBWestern Digital WD1200JB (SE) 120GBnVidia GeForce4 Ti4400 128MB DDRI bumped up the memory from 512 to 1024 because I figured it was only about $100 and some change more, so why not. well, I must say I am really excited about this. Being a mac user, I could only gaze at your screenshots from FLY II and MSFS and sigh... but don't think you're off the hook yet. Now I need software recommendations for add-ons etc. I would assume FS traffic and FS clouds are a must? seeing as how I'm new to this MSFS world, I need some info on things like mesh scenery (what excatly is it) and will panels for fs2000 work with 2002 (i think the answer is no?) well, again, thanks for all the help, and hopefully in about 3 weeks I'll get my system. take care allL3

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