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post #271 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

No. Your wrong. I was recommending a $17 PSU to match a cheap build with tYour really reading into this more than you should. I think you think I am suggesting the PSU does not matter. That's not the case. I am just suggesting for a guy with a real low cost build it's ok to get a cheaper PSU.

Read your comments again

Quote:


I guess I tend to discredit the mental aspect of "piece of mind" you get with a more expensive or perceived higher quality PSU. That's rubbish.

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post #272 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 07:50 PM
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Friends don't let friends buy cheap PSUs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK8p7dGSdmo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em4PLzv2zSE

What happened next:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZIdT6DIVvU

 

 

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post #273 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

It's funny I just read this myself. I can honestly say I don't agree with the experts.

They got it wrong.

This is an amazing statement.
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post #274 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post


And you are recommending a case that placed last in an objective case review being tested head to head by professional reviewers instead stating that "nothing the Antec offers is better than the coolermaster. Coolermaster had overall better build quality and feature set" even though the reviewers showed objectively that it was made out of inferior materials and had the worst cooling design out of any of the cases tested.

I do have a bit more to add here. (I will admit I like debating you, please don't view this as disrespect. Your one of my most respected posters here and your advice always have some level of value even if it's different than mine.)

First- Your suggesting a professional reviewer. But I can't honestly say that the reviewer is any better at making a judgement than me. I have built at least 25 PC's in last 5 years. I tend to think I can tell a totally crappy case from a good one.

I have even purchased $30 cases that include 400 watt PSU's. My case on my main machine cost me $350. It's clearly the best by every review I have ever seen on it. I know what levels of quality are like- My server case is a $225 case. My HTPC case is a $40 case.

When I actually spent my own money on both and built them side by side- I feel my opinion at least has some value to it. I paid $40 for both of these with free shipping. (Coolermaster and Antec)

Normally the Antec300 is $20 more. Given this- I can't say I would recommend it for a budget build for $20 more. At the same price- flip a coin both are great.

Second,

If you look at the review- the coolermaster was actually quieter in certain scenarios.

Consider it has no fan control- and the Antec won the sound test with the fan control on LOW. Makes sense. But look at the Fan speed on high. It's not significantly better. Nor is the coolermaster significantly worse.

I will tell you from having them side by side. both are real world about the same noise level, and if you turn down the fan speed on the coolermaster it's actually quieter. This is something the review did not do.

Third,

If you read the review specifically about the Coolermaster they had no negative things to say about it- and it did not place last. The review was actually positive.

Because of the fan control and dual fans the Antec was able to win the sound test and the thermal test in the review. Coolermaster comes with a single front fan only, while Antec comes with fan back and top with fan control.

This advantage let Antec win the comparison- but I would argue that $10 spent on quality fans would make the Coolermaster perform better in thermal tests than the Antec300. And considering the Antec does cost more- we are now talking about the coolermaster at the same price performing better.

Otherside is slowing down the fan with fan control and moving it from the front- (I did both) which clearly lowers the sound level of the Coolermaster too.

So while in stock trim- as reviewed - The antec was able to win the thermal test and sound test and no doubt this gave it it's top rating- In the real world it's not so certain.

The antec might have won that single review- but it certainly was not crushing victory.

If thermal performance was significant to any buyer- there is no doubt that with the myriad of fan options on the Coolermaster you could make it perform better in thermal testing than the Antec300 for the same price spend total.

And- if thermal performance was not important (it was not to me) you could easily move the front fan (when no HDD's) or even turn it off or slow it down and it's also easily just as quiet as the Antec.

The Coolermaster is lighter weight and easier to move- yet it's amazingly strudy and rigid because it's reinforced in all the right places.

The antec is heavier because it uses thicker metal- but it's not reinforced as well so for example- the motherboard tray has more give to it even with a thicker ply metal used.

You claim it had the worst cooling design- But I doubt you have used this case.

It has options for mutiple fans of multiple sizes on top, front, bottom and back. Just because it comes with a single fan in the HDD bay front of the case does not mean it has "worst cooling design"

Adding a $3-$7 fan is no different than adding a $3 power cable to the missing cable with the Antec PSU. Right?

The design of the Coolermaster is quite solid and well done. It does not come with tons of fans because probably cost is an issue and not everyone needs them. Consider it sells for $20 less than the Antec everyday street price, and that it can be configured with additional fans for less then $10 to perform much better in thermal testing than the Antec300- and- it can also be configured with reduced fan speed to be just as quiet.

While it might not be better to everyone- it's certainly worth a look.

And- To bring this all back into the original scope of my first post and suggestion- For $20 cheaper and assuming you can't get the Antec300 for the same price- It's not a bad option at all.

That is all I was ever saying. I think you think the Coolermaster is worse than it really is- and for some reason you think because I like it- then the Antec must suck. That is not the case either.

I would recommend both to anyone, and provided one is cheaper than the other that is my recommendation to someone looking for a cheap but good PC CASE.

-

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post #275 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:14 PM
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I am not going to type anymore on this.

I think I said my piece. We can agree to disagree.
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post #276 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:17 PM
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Mfusick, what are the specs on your server?
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post #277 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StardogChampion View Post

Friends don't let friends buy cheap PSUs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wK8p7dGSdmo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Em4PLzv2zSE

What happened next:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZIdT6DIVvU

You guys are blowing this way out of proportion.

(thanks for the video btw... stardog. Lol)

I was suggesting a $17 Coolermaster to a guy with a total build around $100 ($35 motherboard, $20 RAM, $38 CPU).

To stretch this into a territory where I am saying get the crappiest PSU available because it's the absolute lowest priced on ebay for $9.99 and don't worry about a thing is just irresponsible. Even if it's fun

I am going to stand firm on my recommendation for him given the objective he has for low cost. (Keep in mind my personal HTPC has both the Antec300 and an antec ECO PSU)

he's just operating in a territory and budget that it makes sense. And there is nothing wrong with a coolermaster PSU for $17. To think, expect or suggest it won't work perfectly as designed and needed is silly.

this forum and many others are totally full of this notion that any PSU that's not high end is going to explode and burn up your whole system.

That is indeed rubbish.

For every Seasonic that goes into an enthusiast build, I bet there is 30 sub $20 cheapo PSU's going into retail machines.

What do you think Dell, lenovo, HP, and ACER use ??? Seasonic??? lol.

It's not exactly like you read about every one of them blowing up, or having a meltdown.

I have taken apart retail PC's before and I can tell you that the Coolermaster PSU I recommended the guy on a tight budget is clearly better quality inside.

please guys- Don't stretch my suggestion it's ok to get a cheap PSU into a territory and argument I did not intend by my comments.

PSU is indeed important. I paid $200 for mine on my main machine because I personally believe this. but to tell this guy with $100 in cheap parts laying on his table he needs to do the same is irresponsible.

This is the CHEAP HTPC EVER thread. Keep that in mind please.

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post #278 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDiesel14 View Post

Mfusick, what are the specs on your server?

CHEAP!

G530 + Asrock H61. Total cost under $100.

I used 8GB DDR3 Crucial I already had laying around. Probably will keep it, it was cheap enough for $30.

I installed it into an old gaming case I had.

ThermalTake Armor 10 bay black. I only used it cause I already had it and it is a 10 bay full tower.

I bought another drive cage on amazon. SO I have two 4 HDD cages, with one drive mounted below - and an SSD for the OS mounted in a 5.25 to 3.5 adapter plate (which also has the 2.5 HDD adapter plate in it from the SSD)

Currently it's made from drives I already owned. I bought a new Seagate 3TB for a parity drive because I needed a drive that was as large as my largest drive and I had a 3TB WD green already. I could not use any of my other drives for a parity drive.

I am running WHS2011 and Flexraid.

Still playing with it- but it's nice so far.

My final strategy will be to get a nicer motherboard with Intel LAN that is more appropriate for a server and perhaps an Ivy level i3 type CPU when they are released. But a $99 Sandy 2100 or even $49 G620 is really quite fine.

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post #279 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I am not going to type anymore on this.

I think I said my piece. We can agree to disagree.

I think we really agree in theory in most of the important stuff:

-A PSU is imporant, and quality is important factor of PSU purchase decision
-Antec300 is a wonderful case in the $40-$65 range that near top of the class
-Antec Neo PSU is a great choice in the $30-60 PSU range.

What we disagree slightly on is:

-Coolermaster is equally wonderful and might be worth consideration since it sells for $20 less everyday street price. It's appropriate in this Cheapest EVER HTPC thread.

-It's ok to get a Cheap PSU for a very cheap PC build. Just because its' cheap does not mean it won't work as intended reliably. Just buy with common sense and research.

And please understand- I actually enjoy debating with you on this stuff so there is no disrespect intended by offering an opinion that is not in line with your own.

I also appreciate your attempt to clarify points and opinions I make so other readers looking on don't get the totally wrong impression.

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post #280 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:31 PM
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You are quick to trounce on the Antec's regular price but aren't exactly forthright about the "$17" PSU's regular price.

Its $45, btw. Same as the Antec/Seasonic. And as you can see its often cheaper than the "$17" PSU.



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post #281 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

You are quick to trounce on the Antec's regular price but aren't exactly forthright about the "$17" PSU's regular price.

Its $45, btw. Same as the Antec/Seasonic. And as you can see its often cheaper than the "$17" PSU.


perhaps- but I see it constantly for $17 and have purchased one before at this price.

I have never seen the Antec below $30 ever. It's rare for it to reach that even.

Consider that $17 vs $30 it's almost twice the price. That's at the special price for the Antec too.

When I think about how often I see the coolermaster for $17 vs how seldom I see the Antec Eco under $45 and it's easy to see why I recommended this for a super low budget build.

I think your thinking I am not saying the ECO is better. I believe it is and run one on my own HTPC. But I am not going to tell a guy who has spent three weeks piecing together the cheapest build he could- on a tight budget he needs to spend double on his PSU for an ECO.

Can I ask two questions:

Do you think the ECO is a better choice at average price of say $40 vs Coolermaster at average price of $20 for a super low budget build?

and,

Is there any reason you don't think the $17 Coolemaster PSU would work perfectly for less cost?

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post #282 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:47 PM
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I have no issues with that PSU. Please point to where I said anything to the contrary?

What I had issue with is the blanket statement that you made about your thoughts on PSUs in general that I listed in the first post of this page of the thread.
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post #283 of 1028 Old 05-04-2012, 08:56 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin View Post

I have no issues with that PSU. Please point to where I said anything to the contrary?

What I had issue with is the blanket statement that you made about your thoughts on PSUs in general that I listed in the first post of this page of the thread.

Agreed. I can see where you thought that.

While I am suggesting that for a really tight build and budget it's ok to get a cheap PSU- please don't think I am saying get a total hunk of crap.

We share the same notions about a good PSU.

I will also admit my tolerance for risk is a bit higher than some, and I don't buy into the argument that people make about any non high end PSU not being a valid option.

I have a $350 PC case and a $200 PSU in my personal PC. Clearly I think both are very important.

But I would not think twice about running a $35 ECS board of a $17 PSU and I think it's a better option than the Antec Neo even at a great price of double that ($35)

I mean - wasn't someone talking about re-using an old dell case and PSU ???

Certainly my budget $17 PSU has an advantage in both performance and reliability over that option.

I do appreciate you covering up my mistakes and clarifying issues for others that might get confused.

Yeah you can get a $9.99 ebay PSU with no name on it- but clearly there is a reason why you might want to get something else.

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post #284 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 07:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kentullis View Post

I didn't know you could re-use old name brand cases! Are all Dell cases compatable with ATX (or microATX) form factor? How about other brands like HP, Compaq, Gateway or IBM/Lenovo?

Any problem with Power Supply connectors? Years ago I thought all name brand motherboards had proprietary mounting and power supply connectors?

My brother's got several old name brand Pentium 4 systems sitting around. I could maybe use one of those cases/PS if they'll work.

I originally thought the Dell did not use standard size mobos & PSU. It appears some so & some don't. I looked at my Dimension 2400 it looked like all the screws would line up with my mobo & PSU. I then found this thread which confirms it will work.
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=902472

I don't know about any other cases other than this Dell.

The Dell PSU will not work because it does not have any SATA power connectors, but I guess you can buy adapters. However I bought a new PSU anyway.
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post #285 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 07:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

Mike99- what kind of drive are you using?

also,

Do you have online access to do the updates? Any luck with the issue about the windows experience score?



You can buy an adapter for older PSU's to work on new stuff.

Example old HDD's connected with IDE power cables. New ones take SATA. You can buy an IDE to Sata Cable adapter for one entire single US Dollar. They cost about .99$ on ebay.

With this you can use any old case and PSU.


Most the other plugs are the same- but if not they make adapter for that too.

Then again, you can get a decent Diablotek 400watt PSU for like $15 shipped all day long on Newegg.

You can also get a pretty decent Logisys ATX case with 480 watt PSU for $29.

Using an old cheap retail case is not worth it IMO. A new one is better/cheaper.

My favorite budget case is the Coolermaster Elite. It's superior to other sub $50 cases I have built in -including the beloved Antec300 which everyone seems to think is the best. I have one of these Antec300's per Assassin and other reccomendations for my HTPC but I would happily trade for a Coolermaster Elite. I built two PC's side by side in both cases and nothing the Antec offers is better than the coolermaster. Coolermaster had overall better build quality and feature set. Only thing it lacked was the fan controls that the Antec had- but most modern motherboards do this anyways. Mine does so the feature is not that helpful.

Coolermaster is $39 shipped, and they make a matching PSU that sells for $17 AR and is 430watts. I also liked the Coolermaster PSU better than the Antec Eco. Freakin Antec did not even come with a power cable, cheap bastards. I never had a PSU fail on me ever (knock on wood) so I guess I tend to discredit the mental aspect of "piece of mind" you get with a more expensive or perceived higher quality PSU. That's rubbish.

My main machine has a $250 PSU in it. But I can't say anything negative about the $20 PSU's I have used not to recommend them whole heartedly for basic builds.

I have not updated anything yet because I have to move my "open air" system to where I have router accessr. It's just difficult to move when it's all spread out.

I bought the $17AR Corsair PSU that you mentioned near the beginning of this thread. I figured I needed something, & having a PSU would free me up on deciding which case to get.
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post #286 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 07:59 AM
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I can spend more building an HTPC, but I started reading this thread when it began & figured there was no need to spend a lot. Why spend $500-600 if I can get the job done for $200-300.

My goal was never to buy cheap junk, but decent quality at sale prices. And not to overbuild. For example, originally I thought about an i3-2100 CPU. But a lot of people said the G530 or G620 was just as good for HTPC use. So I proceeded.

Over the last few days I've looked at cases at Micro Center, CompUSA & Fry's which has the most on display with a decent selection from $25-50. I'm not limiting myself to what they have but it gives me some ideas.

I'd really like one of those $100 Silverstone HTPC cases, but that goes against building a cheap HTPC. If I use a mini-tower I don't want it to stand out & might put it in the corner. So I want a plain case with no LEDS or blue fans that call attention to it and/or might be distracting. This also makes me shy away from ones with big windows. So I'm still kicking things around.

That being said & keeping in the spirit of building a cheap HTPC, my old Dell case looks acceptable. It's free, it looks & feels of decent quality, & it appears it will accommodate the new parts. It may only be a temporary case till I decide on one I really like, but I want to get the parts off the table & connect to the Internet & update Windows & mobo drivers. And that's just easier to do if they're not all spread out.
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You need to consider which part you're talking about.

CPU - price has nothing to do with quality, it's based on speed and capabilities. Intel's QC on a Celeron is just as good as on a Xeon for the rated performance.

Memory - used to matter a lot more, but the DDR3 spec is pretty tight, and frankly I don't think it makes a bit of difference what brand you buy any more. Different memory will have different rated speed and some is more overclockable than others, but I don't believe the liklihood of getting a bad stick is price dependant.

Case - if it's laid out the way you want it, is the size you want, has the features you want, looks the way you want it to look, go for it. You can feel what you're getting. There isn't a lot to go wrong.

Hard drives - there's only two companies. Price is not a based on quality.

SSDs - the controllers and memory all come from the same couple of companies. Other than Samsung (who makes their own controlers and memory) and Intel (that invests a lot in validating those built by others and writes their own firmware), the brand on the front makes little or no difference. Which controller and which memory type is what matters.

Now that leaves the two areas where I think brand and price do matter, and that's motherboard and PSU. Better motherboards use better components, and the big name motherboard brands usually provide much better support in terms of bios and driver updates. But cheap motherboards will usually work ok.

PSUs may matter the most. Most often cheap PSUs are cheap because they use lousy capacitors and most importantly because they have no, or inadequate, circuit protection circuitry, so when something pops, it's going to take your CPU, mobo, and memory (and probably SSD and data) with it. I NEVER skimp on a PSU. My last three were all $70 or more "normal" price; although I only paid about $50 on sale for two of them. One's a Seasonic SII 520 , one's a PCP&C Silencer Mk III 400 (made by Seasonic), one's a FSP Aurum Gold 400. Bascially, I buy PSU's made by Seasonic or FSP, and I buy decent models. Not doing so puts all ther other components at risk, both by out-of-range voltages, inadqaute current, and inadequate circuit protection. Not worth the twenty or thirty dollar savings.
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post #288 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 04:35 PM
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Just wanted to pop in here and thank everyone for the "thorough education" in cases and power supplies since I posted that question a couple days ago!

I certainly wasn't expecting 2 pages of information but I do appreciate everyone's input.
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post #289 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post


Memory - used to matter a lot more, but the DDR3 spec is pretty tight, and frankly I don't think it makes a bit of difference what brand you buy any more. Different memory will have different rated speed and some is more overclockable than others, but I don't believe the liklihood of getting a bad stick is price dependant.

I would disagree on this one. I learned that "good" memory and "cheap" memory are often only 5$ or $10 apart - and that there is indeed a difference.

Nothing is more frustrating than a bad stick of Ram. It's a real pain in the ass to isolate and troubleshoot, and it's frustrating to operate a PC with a memory stick issue.

The entire process sucks, and it's never worth the few dollars you save buying suspect ram. I stick with known MFG with proven track records.

For me these days I have had good luck with Crucial, Gskill and Mushkin.

I bought off brand memory in past and has issues with it.

The cost difference in actual dollars between "cheap" and "good" for memory is the smallest gap of all components. I mean you can spend $30 or $300 on a motherboard easily.. and you can spend $30 or $300 on a Case or PSU too.
But Ram it's only separated by a few bucks.

Get good RAM and save yourself the headache.

I am way more afraid of a bad stick of RAM than a cheap PSU failing. It's much more common for a defective stick of ram too.

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post #290 of 1028 Old 05-05-2012, 05:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

I would disagree on this one. I learned that "good" memory and "cheap" memory are often only 5$ or $10 apart - and that there is indeed a difference.

Nothing is more frustrating than a bad stick of Ram. It's a real pain in the ass to isolate and troubleshoot, and it's frustrating to operate a PC with a memory stick issue.

The entire process sucks, and it's never worth the few dollars you save buying suspect ram. I stick with known MFG with proven track records.

For me these days I have had good luck with Crucial, Gskill and Mushkin.

I bought off brand memory in past and has issues with it.

The cost difference in actual dollars between "cheap" and "good" for memory is the smallest gap of all components. I mean you can spend $30 or $300 on a motherboard easily.. and you can spend $30 or $300 on a Case or PSU too.
But Ram it's only separated by a few bucks.

Get good RAM and save yourself the headache.

I am way more afraid of a bad stick of RAM than a cheap PSU failing. It's much more common for a defective stick of ram too.

But the only bad ram I've gotten in recent years was some Patriot and some Buffalo, neither of which was cheap. I've had some generic ram that worked fine.

I think we all have some brands we''ve had good luck and bad luck with. I like GSkill. Mushkin, Corsair, Crucial, Geil, but I'm really not convinced that there is a correlation between price and failure rate. I think it's pretty random and can happen with any brand. (But I don''t buy Patriot any more; call me superstitious.)
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But the only bad ram I've gotten in recent years was some Patriot and some Buffalo, neither of which was cheap. I've had some generic ram that worked fine.

I think we all have some brands we''ve had good luck and bad luck with. I like GSkill. Mushkin, Corsair, Crucial, Geil, but I'm really not convinced that there is a correlation between price and failure rate. I think it's pretty random and can happen with any brand. (But I don''t buy Patriot any more; call me superstitious.)

Lol. Basically the same way I feel about PSU.

I know there is a difference in quality- but I have purchased sub $20 PSU's and had great success with them. I have never been burned so I think it's not a big deal.

I have been burned by Memory many times. I have RMA-ed many sticks.

Funny how personal experience changes the way one thinks.

reality is neither is right nor wrong and it's each individual's right to personally decide themselves.

I had such a bad experience with my Core2/Asus Maximus build and Crucial Ballistix DDR2 that I think I would rather have a PSU melt down my CPU and board than every have a memory issue again. It's just easier and less frustrating to spend a couple hundred bucks and be done with the frustration with a new PC. BSOD randomly.. is the most annoying thing ever. I ended up pumping the voltage to the DDR2 to something like 2.8v - or something totally stupid before I could get it stable. This after two RMA's. I actually did have a bad stick in each RMA... What are the odds? 3 in a row ?? Each time Memtest confirmed they were faulty.

If it was not for crucial great customer service and support I would have sworn them off. But actually I still buy crucial even though I think it's decidedly lower quality- because I have a little piece of mind knowing they would back me up.

But that is now- when troubleshooting a stick or changing the voltage is a piece of cake for me. But back when I was new to memory trouble shooting- it was quite a frustrating experience. Nothing is worse than building a new system and it not running stable for two full months. I am now scared of Memory issues.

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Update chipset and intel video drivers finish updating all windows 7 updates and service packs and restart and retest.

Then we can troubleshoot more if needed.

The ECS mobo is on the smaller size & it fit into the old Dell case with room to spare.

I know that updating drivers makes a difference, I just thought that the out-of-box Windows Experience Index would have been higher than 1.0. But I was wrong. I installed the drivers from the included disc & that made a huge difference. The WEI jumped up to 5.0 & so did the Graphics rating. The Gaming graphics jumped up to 5.8. So I'm happy with that.

The Windows upgrades are next & I know there are a lot of them. But the little machine runs quite nice. Here's what I have:

$25 ECS motherboard (after rebate & coupon)
$20 RAM
$17 PSU (after rebate)
$50 G620 CPU from Micro Center
$85 Seagate Green 1.5TB HDD from Micro Center
$16 LG Optical drive from Micro Center
--------------------
$213 Total (With the shipping & tax was $228)

I want to thank Mfusick for starting this thread & his suggestions. And Assassin & everyone else for their input also.

Now I need to get an OTA tuner card.
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The ECS mobo is on the smaller size & it fit into the old Dell case with room to spare.

I know that updating drivers makes a difference, I just thought that the out-of-box Windows Experience Index would have been higher than 1.0. But I was wrong. I installed the drivers from the included disc & that made a huge difference. The WEI jumped up to 5.0 & so did the Graphics rating. The Gaming graphics jumped up to 5.8. So I'm happy with that.

The Windows upgrades are next & I know there are a lot of them. But the little machine runs quite nice. Here's what I have:

$25 ECS motherboard (after rebate & coupon)
$20 RAM
$17 PSU (after rebate)
$50 G620 CPU from Micro Center
$85 Seagate Green 1.5TB HDD from Micro Center
$16 LG Optical drive from Micro Center
--------------------
$213 Total (With the shipping & tax was $228)

I want to thank Mfusick for starting this thread & his suggestions. And Assassin & everyone else for their input also.

Now I need to get an OTA tuner card.

Great !!!

I thought that would do it. Glad it's working out good for you!

Nice job piecing together a capable but very affordable HTPC.

That's once of the best $200 total cost builds I have seen in sense of pure value.

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Great !!!

I thought that would do it. Glad it's working out good for you!

Nice job piecing together a capable but very affordable HTPC.

That's once of the best $200 total cost builds I have seen in sense of pure value.

I updated all the Windows updates. However there was an Intel update that was not considered Important but was labeled as Optional, so I did not initially install it. IIRC this was for the graphic driver but I can't guarantee it. I checked Windows Experience Index and none of the ratings had changed.

I then installed the Intel update and the WEI decrease slightly from 5.0 to 4.9, which is what the Graphics component also changed.

I did check & the new graphic driver is dated 3-19-2012 vs the old one from 1-27-2011. Does it make sense for an updated driver to decrease performance? Should I rollback to the old driver or is there some benefit to keeping the new one, such as reliability or compatibility?

Is it best to get the latest chipset & graphics drivers from the Intel or ECS website?
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Windows updates for hardware can be pretty awful. I would always get any hardware drivers straight from the source.
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Windows updates for hardware can be pretty awful. I would always get any hardware drivers straight from the source.

Which do you consider the source, Intel or ECS the mobo manufacturer? It's obviously an Intel chipset, but would a mobo manufacturer ever make changes that required their own version of a driver?
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I usually check motherboard manufacture and chipset, go with whoever has the most up-to-date driver. Before installing hit windows key+pause/break, device manager and uninstall drivers that windows update installed. For GPU drivers I always use Driver Sweeper to make sure nothing gets left behind. I know it seems a bit anal butt (pun intended!!!) I've had issues with AMD GPU drivers having issues if I don't clear everything before installing a new driver.
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Corsair 430W 80 Plus Certified PSU $16.99 after $8 off Promo code and $20 MIR

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc..._-17139026-L0J
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I usually check motherboard manufacture and chipset, go with whoever has the most up-to-date driver. Before installing hit windows key+pause/break, device manager and uninstall drivers that windows update installed. For GPU drivers I always use Driver Sweeper to make sure nothing gets left behind. I know it seems a bit anal butt (pun intended!!!) I've had issues with AMD GPU drivers having issues if I don't clear everything before installing a new driver.


I restored to before the Intel update & the Windows update was for Intel HD Graphics. The graphics driver went back to the original & the Windows Experience Index went back up to 5.0 along with the Graphics score.

I'm still sorting out the different Graphic Drivers & Chipset Software from both Intel & the ECS mobo website. I'm a little reluctant to change anything since some of the older dates appear to have newer version numbers.

For example the ECS website lists an Intel Graphics Driver Package v14.51.64.5398, dated 01/20/2012. However the Intel HD Graphics driver I got from the Windows Update was 8.15.10.2696, dated 3-19-2012. Maybe the ECS vers # is for the Package, whatever that contains, instead of just the driver. I have to dig a little deeper to find out what ECS really has.
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I restored to before the Intel update & the Windows update was for Intel HD Graphics. The graphics driver went back to the original & the Windows Experience Index went back up to 5.0 along with the Graphics score.

I'm still sorting out the different Graphic Drivers & Chipset Software from both Intel & the ECS mobo website. I'm a little reluctant to change anything since some of the older dates appear to have newer version numbers.

For example the ECS website lists an Intel Graphics Driver Package v14.51.64.5398, dated 01/20/2012. However the Intel HD Graphics driver I got from the Windows Update was 8.15.10.2696, dated 3-19-2012. Maybe the ECS vers # is for the Package, whatever that contains, instead of just the driver. I have to dig a little deeper to find out what ECS really has.

Did you have a problem with the graphics driver that Windows update provided? I've installed that 8.15.10.2696 in both an i3-2100 in a Intel motherboard and in an i5-2500K in a Gigabyte motherboard without incident. If it works, what are you worrying about?

I think you're putting way too much significance on the Windows Experience Index. I can't remember the last time I even looked at the WEI on any computer of mine, much less updated it.
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