New computer Build - First Timer!


Mar 31, 2009
Hey everyone, my computer finally failed due to that "Display driver stopped responding and has recovered" error in vista/over heating, unless there is a fix now in 2009 I need to stay away from Vista. While removing the case cover and looking inside/cleaning off some pieces..all of it seem easy enough to put together. I would like to build my first computer, something Ive always wanted to do.

Please be aware I havent entirely grasped this process from a technological standpoint.. I do understand that some components need a certain power supply to run. I have a few things picked out so far, and thats that (definitely nothing purchased yet). Im not set on these things i picked already, Like I said.. im a novice. I learn super fast and think I am ready to build my system.

What I will be using the computer for:
* Intense graphic/3d work. Eg, photoshop, zbrush, blender, etc
* Audio work with cubase
* Second life (I dont know if this is classified as gaming. No overclocking)

Whats Important to me
* I already own a dell monitor but in the near future I would like to add a 2nd monitor so I can do some multi tasking across the 2 monitors...So I need a system that will support this.
* Want a fast computer.
* Sufficient cooling. I believe my last computer failed because it also was overheating all of the time according to Riva Tuner.
* Previous system was a dell XPS 410 from about 3-4 years ago, so Im wanting to upgrade performance.

What Ive picked out so far:


(comments on case- Does it have a port for firewire? Also, I understand only certain cases can house certain mother boards? May have to change my case choice depending....)

* Power Supply - (See above, the case says it comes with a 500w supply; doesnt say much about it though)

* CPU - AMD Phenom 9850

* Video card - Radeon HD4670

* RAM - G-Skill 4 gig - Can I mix these with other RAM?

* HDD - Western Digital 500gig. 32 MB cache

* Media Reader - Koutech - Will this thing fit?

What I am confused with and did not pick out yet:

* OS - Windows XP ( Which one do I get? I assume an "upgrade" would not work..)

* Mobo - No idea, im totally lost with this one..

* Optical Drive- This part is confusing me. I do not burn dvds/cds (though I may in the future), I do listen to CDs.. which would I get?

Do I have everything? I mean, everything?

Shipping is so expensive to where I live so my budget I would like to stay around the $800 mark.

Current price mark: $424 (Did not choose yet: Optical drive, OS , or mother board)


Closing questions:
*Are the above items compatible with eachother?
*What are bad choices.. what product would be best for me?
*Do I need to purchase any additional cables to hook anything up?
*Does this set up come with the ports to plug internet routers into? If not, what do I need?
*Will I be able to hear sound if my monitor has speakers or do I need some type of sound card?
*Is building my own system a messy situation..aka am i being over ambitious?

Hope you guys can help! Need a new comp ASAP. ready to order and build! :na:

Hi...for $800, you can get better components...

CPU + Mobo...The X3 720 is better than the 9850...

RAM - With better timings...

Hdd - WD 640 Bigger and Better

DVD Burner - Yes it will be useful later if not now...

OS - Home Premium

Graphics card - More powerful and is within your budget...4830...

CASE + PSU - The PSU that comes with that Radimax is of low quality...
Get this combo...its far better...The case comes with a 120 mm and 140 mm, with expansions with 3 more 120mm....
So the airflow will be very good inside the case...

CPU cooler - Will keep the temps of the CPU low...

Total - $723 without rebates and many components have free shipping...

As it has 3 more fan slots, get 3 of these...

So after adding 3 more 120 fans, heat should not at all be a problem...
Gkay09 has done a good job, but let me add a second build to give you some choices.

Firstly, I think your primary need is the CPU. At least some of your programs should support quad cores, so let's see if you can get into the more powerful PII 940:

PII 940 + 790GX Gigabyte board $300 (the editor doesn't like this link so it wouldn't do it correctly.)
Antec Sonata (Includes high quality PSU) $120 Will be quieter than the 300 and you won't need the cooling if you aren't overclocking or gaming.

4GB Corsair 800Mhz $20 after MIR

WD 640GB Caviar Black $80
Your SATA DVD burner $23

Your media reader, yes it will work $30
Vista 64 home premium - Yes you really want this $100

You don't need an aftermarket cooler for this build if you are not going to overclock. You could pick up one of these though:
Sunbeam CR-CCTF92-4 92mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2
It comes with everything you need including instructions, and is a slightly easier install for the novice. It will fall somewhere in between the cooling performance of the Xigmatek and stock cooling.

Finally the video card. Both companies make workstation cards that would be ideal for you, but those cost too much. NVidia, however, is known to be more compatible with your programs than ATI. So, get an nVidia card such as:
BFG 9600GT

I believe that covers it and stays well below $800. If you wanted to spend a bit more, you could get some 1066 RAM instead of the 800, and you could get this pair:
Cooler Master 690


Nov 4, 2008
Both builds are well put together and great suggestions to your current needs and wants.

I just want to add, that as long as you have good air flow through your case this can really help with heat issues. If you plan on overclocking your cpu I'd go with proximon's suggestions. Make sure to pick up a good cpu heat sink. If not you might be able to get away with just a stock cooler. Might want to start with the stock cooler and see if this is sufficent. If not then you can always pick up the cooler proximon suggested and some thermal greese.


Mar 31, 2009
Thanks !!!! I really appreciate the responses.

A few questions

- The case, I really really want a see through one on the side that lights up.. (dream of mine lol).. It is also really important it has a firewire port as I plug in Cubase all of the time. Most of these cases do not seem to even have a firewire port..

This one has a firewire port... This one sounds good to me... $110

- PSU - same one gkay recommended $70 ($180 for both)

OR this combo with a different case but same PSU...
here $209

- Yes I do think heat is a big issue with me even though im not overclocking. second life + my graphic programs opened = alot of heat

@ Proximon.. I would like to go with vista but no, I dont think I can. Since these forums seem to have alot of gamers here I would assume you guys are familiar with the error plague of "Display driver nvlddmkm (or atikmdag with ati) has stopped resonding and has recovered".

This error was a complete nuisance to me and shot down my system every few minutes, then it began overheating and now it wont work. That is why I am here trying to build a new system. Has this problem been fixed? (The user fixes posted around the internet would NOT work for me, I tried them ALL) I would be really upset if I got vista and began to get those same errors again. If you havent heard of this, run a quick google search and youll see all of the user complaints. I did not have these problems on XP.. If this has been fixed in the newer systems I would love to know, in that case I will go with Vista... Or why dont i just get xp then upgrade when windows 7 comes out?

Oh, and no free shipping for me, I live in Hawaii.

-- Also, does amd and ati need to go together, and intel and nvidia?
The case you picked out will work great. Really good pick actually. It's not a VERY well-cooled case, but it really is adequate for your needs. These two are VERY well-cooled:

I play a very long list of games. I have no such error. I do however know what you are talking about. The elusive bug you mention is not something that happens to everyone, and the percentage grows smaller daily. I have no real idea, but I'm certain the bug happens to less than 15% of users, and more likely 5%.
It was far more common before SP1 as I recall.

You'll find that everyone giving advice here uses Vista 64. I myself started out dual booting XP32 and Vista 64, but after a month I had completely stopped using XP and so removed it.

XP then upgrade is fine. I'm just keeping you informed ;)



Mar 31, 2009
The case I picked says it doesnt have SATA, would that be a problem?

Hm.. yes I got my vista a long time ago, maybe I will give it a try. :)


Ok here is what I have so far from both of your posts and mine. My updated list:

Case - Antec nine Hundred $110

PSU - Antec earthwatts 500w $70

MOBO/CPU Combo - AMD Phenom Quad Core & GIGABYTE 790GX $299

RAM - Corsair 4 gigs 800 $20

CPU Cooler - Dark Knight $45

//// or should i get this? which is easier to install/best for me? $20///

HDD - Western Digital 640 gb 7200 rpm 32 cache $80

OS - Vista 64 $100

Media Reader - Koutech Multi Card Reader $30

I have a dvd/rw drive on my dell xps 410, can I just use that?

Do I have everything? Will I need to purchase additional fans or thermal grease, etc?

With this set up, do I get a nvidia geforce or an ati radeon? I currently chose an AMD CPU... Should I switch to an intel and go with geforce?

Current Price, not including graphic card: $759... Hmm maybe I need to downgrade on some things


Again, im a novice. is this all compatible? Anything worrisome?

Hope I can send my order in today!

thanks again


Feb 16, 2009
Case is way overkill for your needs, and AMD has decent stock coolers (unlike intel), so unless you plan on overclocking really no need to spend the extra on upgrading your fan. You really don't need a gaming video might try to get by with the onboard graphics and see how they work for you, and then upgrade as needed. The 9600gt was a good suggestion for what you'll be doing.
That vista error is not really a vista error, its more of a bad driver error. I think you'll be fine running vista with modern hardware and drivers.


Feb 16, 2009
I disagree with thepinkpanther, I think in the price range you are looking at the only intels are q6600, and if you are overclocking that would be a great choice, but stock for stock the Phenom II will give you more processing power


Mar 31, 2009
@ Proximon :

Thanks for taking the time to help me! Do I *need* eSATA? This is a new term to me, from a quick search it seems its something similar to USB/firewire...just faster? Does what I have picked out require my mobo have eSATA or can the components hook up another way?

(I mentioned SATA because it said that the case did not have as a "con" but I wasnt sure if I needed it to or not..)


System requirements for Second Life

Not sure when that list was last updated but my computer that died was running on a GeForce 7900.. I dont want to downgrade.

An onboard graphic card, if you mean something built into the mobo, wouldnt even run SL (Second life)

Also.. Keep in mind the things I do, my computer is on for up to 15 hours at a time

- Photoshop cs4
- Zbrush
- Maya
- Blender
- Multi Tasking
- Dual Monitors

All of these programs are very graphic intense and high quality artistry programs. My last computer (Dell xps 410) could not multi task good, it would slow down and shut down, I want something that is going to allow me to run Photoshop on one screen, and zbrush/second life in the other..and give me no problems.

Im kind of confused now.... The amd will come with a cooler? I dont need the xigmatek?

What do you mean by the case is overkill? Id rather have too much than not enough, also its a nice case, I dont mind there are cheaper ones I want something nice to look at that will also work with me.

Oh also, im limited in my case choices because I need one with a firewire port :D

* Edit - Ok I have everything in my cart except the graphic card.. I think ATI might have too many problems with SL. if I got a GEFORCE 8600 is that a step up from geforce 7900? And if I go with this, I would need to change to an intel from an AMD? What would be recommended?
Most people do not need eSATA. It is used for fast external drives mostly.

Sorry, I have my fingers in too many threads without eating :p I thought you said you needed eSATA for a device, but that was likely someone else. The Gigabyte is the preferred brand over the Foxconn, so stick with that unless you need to cut the cash down. The 790FX Foxconn board is the more deluxe board for sure, just not as good a brand.

I have heard that the AMD stock coolers run a bit warm. The Sunbeam I linked originally was intended as an inexpensive upgrade that would bring down your stock temps a bit.

However, once you move into a well cooled and roomy case, you really need to consider a moderate overclock on the processor. You WILL benefit from this a great deal with the kind of work you do. The Xigmatek Dark Knight would do a great job for you then.

Eventually, you should look at a workshop video card for your programs, especially Maya. Good ones are pricey though.



Mar 31, 2009
@ Proximon - lol no problem.

I appreciate your help.

I now have everything in my cart except a graphic card. I guess my last question is is this geforce 8600 compatible with AMD or do i *need* to change the amd to intel?

(Edited this in my previous post before I realized you had already responded)

Product price so far $688.. Shipping to hawaii $153!!!


Feb 16, 2009
sorry if I confused you on the point was you could get by with the onboard graphics for now simply to see how much more card you need. And believe it or not, you'll get a vista score of about 4.3 - 4.5 with the onboard it is in the same league as your previous card, maybe even slightly higher. For what you are doing gaming cards aren't that great, as Proximon has pointed out. Gaming and workstation are apples and oranges, and what makes a card a good gamer does not make it a good workstation card. So there is really no sense spending a lot on a gaming card if this is not a gaming computer. Nvidia puts more workstation friendly things into their gaming cards though. I don't think the MBs you are looking at will let you sli, but you can run one nvidia card without a problem. You just have to disable the ati onboard drivers before installing the new card.
My suggestion to use the stock cooler was just to get you below your goal price. They are not great, but will be fine if you are not overclocking. If you overclock you have to step up to a better cooling option...and if its in your budget then by all means go ahead and do it now. Cool temps make happy computers.


Mar 31, 2009
@ Proximon

Ahhgreat idea!! They have the case here at best buy ($30 more BUT...), got shipping down to a nice $63 so saves money. Thank you

So just to get this straight before I hit the check out button.. I put the geforce 9600 in my cart, so im getting that (Upon further research, there are just too many problems with SL and ATI cards).... You are saying my geforce 9600 is indeed compatible with my AMD phenom quad core processor?

Just reverifying this to be on the absolute safe side..


thanks for the explination, that makes sense.. Had no idea about the gaming vs workstation thing..
You betcha. You will start the build with your onboard graphics. Do not install the drivers. Just boot up, go into BIOS, and turn off the onboard graphics. Then shut down and install the 9600GT.


Mar 31, 2009
"Thank you very much sir, you are a gentleman and a scholar" - Michael Scott, The Office

My price came to $818 (including case i will pick up locally from best buy).
Shipping, minus the case, is $67.59

Grand total: $885.59

So I stayed within my range on the base computer (only $18 over), and saved with shipping by picking up the case locally.

Now lets hope I can get this put together flawlessly. I have some more research to do now ;)


Mar 31, 2009
Whoa I just noticed something in my cart that may be incompatible.

If you look at the specs tab on the motherboard here ..... Would the hdd i chose here be able to hook up to it? HDD says its SATA but the mother board I dont know, it says "Sata" under "storage device" but i`m not sure what that means. Are these 2 products compatible?

If someone runs into this thread again and knows the answer, please let me know!