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Thread: Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

  1. #1
    starfury Guest

    Default Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

    I'm a newbie to PC gaming - I'm getting a new gaming PC in February - and I have a few questions and concerns.
    I'm planning on keeping this new PC for at least 5 years so I'm very concerned about making the correct configuration choices now so that it will still be able to run the latest games over the next 5 years.
    Also, both my wife & I will share this PC and she is using it to help run her business.
    1) Opening Ports for Online Gaming:

    I've been told by other people that I might have to open ports in order to successfully participate in some online games.

    a) Will
    opening ports
    weaken the security of my PC?

    b) Are there alternatives to opening ports - and if yes - what are they?
    2) Dual-Boot Configuration:

    I would like to have the ability to use both Windows XP Professional and Vista Ultimate because I have some old games that

    I'm guessing will run better on XP (plus my wife
    insists on using XP for her applications).

    a) What are
    pros & cons
    of having this kind of a dual-boot set-up?

    b) Any recommendations?
    3) More than 1 Hard Drive:

    I have the option of having
    more than 1 hard drive (maximum is 3) on this new gaming PC.

    Someone on another tech forum is advising

    me to have
    1 hard drive for my OS, applications, & games and
    a 2nd hard drive for my personal & media files.

    a) What are the pros & cons of having more than 1 hard drive?

    b) Any recommendations?
    4) Overclocking the CPU:

    The manufacturer is willing to overclock the CPU but someone else mentioned that overclocking can weaken its stability.

    a) Is this true?

    b) Any recommendations?
    5) Cooling Method: Air or Liquid?

    a) What are the pros & cons of each method?

    b) Any recommendations?
    6) Vista Ultimate: 32-bit or 64-bit version?

    A moderator on a game developer's forum has advised me to get the 64-bit version of Vista Ultimate because
    he believes that it will be

    necessary to run the upcoming games over the next 5 years.

    a) Do you agree?

    b) What are your recommendations?

    Operating System:Windows XP Pro
    Software Version:8.0
    Product Name:ZoneAlarm Internet Security Suite

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

    None really - if open ports are required for online games, there is no other option.

    Depends on the hardware and your needs/intentions.
    Dual boot is okay.

    3. If the motherboard/system supports 3 drives, then go with three drives - one for XP, one for Vista and one specifically for file/data storage. Other wise use two drives and just partition the main drive into the XP and Vista operating systems partitions.
    The advantage for using a hdd just for data alone is when you have to reformat or replace your main drive operating system - the data/media will still untouched and safe (although it is better to use external drives for the permanent and safe storage).

    Plus if the drives are considerable size, these can be partitioned off giving more data storage space (usually I use these only as temp parking spaces until I finally get organized and move the files to the data storage drive or the external usb drives).

    Some claim there is performance boost using the second drive for the virtual memory as opposed to placing the virtual mem on the main drive. Even though I do this trick, I am still uncertain if this really does give a performance boost.

    Get the fastest hdd possible for the operating system drives - I find the 10,000 RPM raptors are worth the extra and these do actually give a performace boost. Things are faster using these.

    4. Yes it can if the overclocking does not include the bus and memory controller and if the overclocking is set too high (cpu can be unstable). Other complications can happen - memory is not set properly and so forth. BUT if the manufacture is doing the overclocking and also they support this with a full warranty for the computer and back everything they claim, then usually this is safe.
    Usually best to go with the most poweful cpu and motherboard as possible and get more power this way than what can done with overclocking (although some systems will be more powerful with overclocking vs the more expensive hardware).

    Yes make sure you get DDR3 not DDR2 memory. And lots of RAM just for the Vista 64. As much as possible.
    (XP will not recognize that amount of RAM, but Vista 64 will enjoy it to no end.
    And get the best motherboard - if you decide to upgrade in the future, changing the CPU is maybe all that is needed to increase performance.

    5. Liquid is quiet and is often needed for the estreme overclocking.
    But sufficent cooling can most of the time be met by air/fans.

    6. Get 64 bit Vista - the amount of RAM you can use is very high and the games/applications will just fly. Besides, Vista is a resource pig - a more powerful computer will be needed anyways. (32 bit vista is a little like a dressed up XP). 32 bit is here to stay a little longer (windows 7 will still have 32 option.... but it maybe completely phased out with the next MS OS coming after windows 7).

    In five years still up to date with performance???
    Maybe you could be current with a nice computer made today for maybe a couple of years or maybe even three, at the most. USB3 (arriving next year?) to replace USB2, and SSD (solid state drives) are just here (some are faster than the average hdd and better read/write than many hdd depending on the quality or quantity of money spent).
    DDR3 is here and there maybe a DDR4 (if they call it this), but eventually the memory controller will be phased out and the memory will be piped straight into the cpu (possiblely one of the 8 or 16 cores will act as some form of a memory controller). There maybe changes to the buses and the speeds may well improve what is seen today.

    Graphic card(s) is important - and these will be changing almost every year in performance and hardware (going by the past history of the GPUs) and interfacing.

    Oldsod. (using old hardware and loving it; but I am not a hard core gamer or use very intense applications).

    Message Edited by Oldsod on 12-29-2008 09:21 PM
    Best regards.

  3. #3
    starfury Guest

    Default Re: Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

    Thank you very much for your terrific answers and explanations, Oldsod!
    I'm quite concerned about configuring the new gaming PC properly because I failed to make
    some important configuration
    decisions with the last PC that I purchased 5 years ago.
    I have a few more questions:
    More than 1 Hard Drive:

    & Vista:
    What are the pros & cons of having one drive partitioned
    for each OS versus having
    each OS installed on a separate drive?

    b) Internal Hard Drive for Validation of Backups:
    I currently use Acronis TrueImage 10 to make a drive image of my PC's hard drive.
    I read somewhere that it is good to validate a backup of your PC by using an internal hard drive just for that purpose but my current PC
    only has 1 hard drive & therefore I cannot perform this action.
    Therefore, I was thinking of configuring my new gaming PC with a separate internal hard drive solely for the purpose of verifying backups.


    Am I correct about
    this whole idea of validating a backup?

    - If yes,
    do I need an internal hard drive for it or will an external
    drive be fine?

    2) Virtual Memory:
    I've never heard of it before but I'm glad that you brought it up.
    I'm not quite sure what to do about it right now.
    Could you please explain why virtual memory is important to the proper functioning of a PC?

    3) Drive Partitioning:
    I'm glad that you brought this up.
    I have heard of it but I've never done it.

    a) How do I decide how much space to allocate for a drive partition?

    b) Is it fairly simple to partition a drive?

    c) Where could I find instructions on how to do this?

    4) CPU Specs:

    Is it worth the extra $ to get a CPU with:

    a) 1600MHz FSB versus 1333MHz FSB?

    b) 12MB Cache versus 6MB Cache?

    5) RAM:

    Is it worth the extra $ to buy:

    a) Corsair brand?

    b) 1800MHz versus 1600MHz?

    6) Custom PC Builders:

    Do you know which ones have a reputation for reliability and excellent customer service?

    Thanks again & I wish you a very Healthy & Happy New Year!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005

    Default Re: Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

    OS on seperate drives vs. seperate partitions.
    If the drive fails, then both OS will be lost.
    If two drives are used, then there is still a second workable OS at hand.
    As to whether or not vista runs better on it's own seperate drive, I am guessing it does not matter looking at the history of the pervious MS OSs.

    Internal drive for backups... could be replaced by an external USB hdd.
    Or if the drive(s) are sufficent in size (terabyte? or around there), you maybe able to use a seperate partition for the storage of the images.

    If you like spending money, then get a motherboard that will handle more than 2 HDDs - you can get boards that will use 4 HDDs. And of course then get a computer case/box that can house 4 HDDs. Maybe a couple of 1.5 tera byte drives for lots of storage?

    Virtual memory is actually page filing.
    XP uses this so you are actually familiar with it.
    (XP 32 bit does not recognize more than 2G and XP Pro or 64 does not see more than 4 G of RAM, so the page filing comes into play to compensate for the lack of memory. But if going vista 64, then get as much RAM as possible and then maybe use the least amount of virtual memory as possible / or none . Page filing is slower than the hard memory, hence it is often needed, but not as efficent).

    XP needs 40 G of space and Vista needs 60 g on the hdd. Wel,l actually both will work with a lot less, but those numbers are okay and give it lots of play. The rest of the drive can be used as wanted.
    To partition the drive, when first installing Windows onto the raw hard drive, first create a partition for the operating system where it is supposed to be installed. Do not install windows onto the entire drive, just create a c drive and leave the rest of the drive as "raw". Then finish installing windows on this newly made partition called c drive. After the install is finalized, open the Disk Management of the Computer Management and then look at the remaining raw space of the drive - this is where the other partitions will be created and as many as you want/need. By using the Disk Management of windows itself.

    Maybe yes or no. Depends on the mother board specs.
    And which cpu is used.
    There are all kinds of tech hardware online magazines to read for different comparisions and specs and opinions.

    Never get **bleep**ered by a brand name.
    Do not buy the junk, but do not be lead to believe brand A is better than brand b if both are are bascially the same anyways and one of the two brands costs more (which do not neccessarily make it better).
    On the other hand there are brands and models to avoid.
    Corsair is good - so are many others.
    My favorite brand is what is on sale at that moment.
    Just remember memory cards are the same as everything else in this world - nothing lasts forever anyways. Memory cards can die at any time - even the best brand does not last forever.

    1800MHz versus 1600MHz. Probably 1600 is okay.
    DDR2 and XP was best at a few speeds and even though there were much higher speeds available, those were not the "sweet spot" for XP's natural disposition. I think
    1600 is the sweet spot for Vista, unless you do some serious overclocking.

    Recommendations? Where are you in the globe?
    Checked the local area for shops that do repair and sales and do custom builds?

    Best regards.

  5. #5
    starfury Guest

    Default Re: Newbie's Gaming PC Questions

    Thank you very much for your answers.
    I live in NYC and
    we have
    local PC builders here but I cannot give any of them my business unless someone that I know has recommended them.
    Unfortunately, there are too many unscrupulous businesses in my neck of the woods.
    If I have no other choice, I will give my business to Digital Storm, in Fremont, CA, because of the fact that they have a very good record with the BBB; they have much more choices in the configuration options than Dell, Alienware, and Falcon Northwest,
    and their prices seem to be competitive.
    Also, I've been scouring the Internet looking for consumer
    complaints against them - but have not found any yet.

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