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Barebone vs. Complete Build

  1. First off, I'm going to throw whats going on with my comp out there, in the slim hopes someone can suggest a fix.

    I left it on with nothing but utorrent and pidgin running, and planned to return in 3 days after a weekend of work and staying with the girlie, something I've done many times and I've always come back to it still running.

    When I came home the power was on, but there was no output to the monitor. When I hit keys, like to initiate shutdown (windows key, up arrow, enter, enter) the hard drive light didn't come on and nothing happened. Just dead air, with the power light on, and the fans spinning, nothing else. First thing I did was make sure the monitor worked, and it did, verified by hooking it up to my laptop. I doubt it was a surge or electrical problem, because I've got it hooked up to a UPS.

    I tore the thing apart, and took everything out (two extra HDD's, dvd burner, sound card, firewire card, network card), and left only the essentials- video card, HDD with the OS, and one stick of RAM.

    Same damn thing. Dead air, fans spin, lights turn on, no output to the monitor. I tried it with both sticks of RAM in, then unhooking the HDD, and still nothing. No output to the monitor, no bios on the screen, nothing.

    At this point, I don't know what to do to diagnose this further. Any suggestions on how to nail down what part is causing the problems, please let me know as this will probably end up as a file server if I can fix it.

    Now, on to the meat of this post.

    Given that the aforementioned comp is old enough that I'm embarrassed to say exactly how old it is, I figured this is a good time to get back on pace. My main question is if I should build from scratch, or use the parts I've got and put them into a barebones box from pricewatch.

    I don't really know what to expect with a barebones box, or what their real utility would be. Are they a good option as the foundation for a home built?

    And of course, I would appreciate a recommended list of hardware that would allow me to play all but the most bleeding edge, hardware intensive games, and a list that would be more suitable for a solid non-gaming PC. I haven't decided if I'm going to get back into PC games or not.

    Thanks guys, much appreciated.
  2. Dead power supply. Gives just enough to run fans.
  3. Only thing about Barebones, is they usually cheap out on the power supply, which is likely the issue you're having now.

    You could get a barebones PC, and buy a good power supply(Antec), then build from there.

  4. +1

    If you're going to build, build, and re-use any of your existing parts that are up to spec.

    Or, buy a whole unit with warranty.

    To me, barebone is usually just a way to have all the negatives of both building and buying a complete unit, without the benefits of either. Exceptions might be something like Shuttle, which has a somewhat unique form factor.
  5. I rooted through old boxes for 45 minutes and found an ancient 3dfx voodoo3 PCI video card. I took out the AGP card, put in the old PCI card, and what do you know, it booted right up. Swapped stuff around a couple times to verify it.

    Any idea how I can figure out if the problem is my video card or the AGP slot?

    This was the straw that broke the camels back for me, and I'm just going to build another comp anyway. So far, it looks like this:

    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4600+ 2.4ghz AM2
    2G corsair RAM
    500gb SATA western dig HDD
    IN WIN IW-C589T case and 350W PSU
    eVGA GeForce 8600 GT
    GIGABYTE GA-M57SLI-S4 ATX AMD Motherboard
  6. 10 to one it was the card - While slots can go bad, at least in theory, if the machine boots fine with the old card out, it's not suggestive of that level of motherboard problem.

    The test is simple - find another AGP card, put it in, see if it works.

    That said, you're due/overdue for a new computer anyway...

    Just take this as an opporunity to move at your own pace, instead of as an emergency.
  7. I think I'd go with a more powerful Power Supply.

    I've got to replace a power supply on a friends PC on Sat. morning. I picked up a 430watt True Power for 90 at Best Buy.

  8. agreed - that power supply is fine for what you're building, but will be seriously underpowered if at some point you go for a mondo video card, or multi-video-card setup. Shouldn't be more than $15 or so to upgrade to a 430/450/500W supply.

    You might also take a look around at video cards. The 8600GT is a fine card, but for almost exactly the same price (~$130) you can get the x1950Pro, which is half again as fast.

    Here's a guide to current video cards - the 8600GT scores a 43, the x1950pro scores 62.


    obviously, if you feel strongly about ATI vs. Nvidia, that changes things, but I thought I'd mention it.
  9. Cool link, I'll keep it handy.

    I budgeted $100 or less for the video card, and the card I mentioned will give me two monitors and allow me to hook it up to a TV. I think I'm headed more towards media center and less towards gaming. Not to mention that over the next year I'll be in a pretty intense educational situation, and would rather not be tempted by PC gaming (recovered addict from college days).

    I can always upgrade in a year, and the same applies for the PSU. I think I'll see how it goes with the one that comes with the case, and then think about a corsair in the coming months.