I am building my 2nd kit (built 1st one in 99 - still going strong but it won't run either Deus X2 or 1/2Life2 so...).
My first question:
is it worth $100 to buy the cpu/MoBo/memory pre-built and tested (with free 2nd day shipping)?
Would it be better to go PCI express vs AGP 8X on the MoBo?
How about Athlon 64 vs 64(fx)?
I am trying to compare prices of pre-builts vs combos vs buying the pieces and assembling it myself.
I am trying to keep the kit price to $1200 or below and I still have to shop for memory, graphics etc. I can stick with my current 19" monster monitor and shop for a good deal on a 19" flat screen later.
The 2 places I am currently looking are at ZipZoomFly (every item is shipped 2nd day free) and J&N computers (all pre-assembled kits are 2nd day free).
FireFox with its tabs is really helping in this search!!
Any suggestions, comments, catcalls are welcome.

ps See, I am still smiling with holiday cheer.

pps I asked this on another board just to see what people think - I keep trying to complete my research and get this thing up and running but there is so much detail to pay attention to I find myself building the kits on different sites shopping carts then realize I am comparing apples and zebras because I missed a prefix, suffix or other detail modifier <quietly whimpers to self w/lower lip all-acquiver)

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athlon 64 (non fx) is DEFINITLY better value for $ by far - and its performance is still blistering for HL2 and any other modern games.
If you know someone who can put together the components for you then you can dodge that rip-off $100 'test' price -> you can buy a new mb/cpu for that anyway! Building your own is cheaper by far -> only if you shop at the right places. You also can get better warruntees from manufacturers. I have designed a gaming PC with serious performance for $1500 but its accessoried a bit so you could get a powerful PC for you $1200. I recommed the socket 754 athlon 64 route for powerful gaming, and stick to AGP for your price range, AGP cards are still claiming 60+ fps on modern games....

try www.aria.co.uk -> they also btw have a 17" silver TFT for £102 ($190) and a 19" TFT for £189 ($353)

yeah but in my opinion if you can shell out extra $$ go for 939's i mean that is if you are going to upgrade

At the moment, buying a 939 setup would not be the most cost effective, although you would get upgrade options in the future.
But by that time, you would want a new mobo to get the best out of the cpu you would be upgrading to.
The same thing goes for AGP, it's still going strong and won't hold you back at all.
If I was getting 939 I would look into the nForce4 chipsets which are just coming out, but this increases the cost, which leads us back to socket 754.
You can get a beastie 754 setup that will do you well for years to come at a good price, with performance that can rival the current 939 range.

Concerning the AGP 8X vs pci-e matchup. I would get AGP 8x unless you won't be upgrading for quite some time. AGP 8x offers the same performance, at least today, at a reduced cost. As more demanding hardware and software is developed, however, pci-e will start to pull ahead, and in the long term it is a better choice.
Personally, I would go with a socket 939 motherboard. They have a lot of improvements over 754, not to mention dual channel ram. Also, unless you go really high end, they really don't cost more at all. Boards like the Soltek K8T pro, and the Abit A8V are excellent, feature packed boards that are quite resonably priced. 6800GT remains, in my opinion, one of the best deals as far as high end video cards are concerned. Don't settle for less than 1 gig of DDR400 ram. (Just go with a brand name like Corsair's budget line)
For your hard drive, I would go with at least 120-160 gigs. If your going for a socket 754 setup, the 3400+ is a good choice. The 3500+ is a good choice for a 939 setup.

I ended up getting the agp 8x just because it was easier; I got an ASUS A8V deluxe mobo with the a64 3200+ 939 cpu which, oddly enough has 2 versions. One version requires an ASUS bios v.1008 and one requires the v.1009 - guess which cpu I got matched with which bios? By the way I believe the tech said that the cpu version that requires v1009 is the a64 3200+ 939 (mod cg). When I get some pure solvent to clean the thermal compound off the chip I will take a looksee at the version I have.


ps On another board, my icon blinks??

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