pc memory & hard drive performance question


Feb 29, 2008
DFW area.....Wylie.
I was thinking of ordering a self-spec'd pc online (I have not decided on vendor yet). While doing a little research, I came up with the following questions.

1. does memory latency really effect performance to a significant degree, for example, 2.5ms CAS latency vs. 8ms......obvious difference, but will it be something noticeable if I'm playing a game, loading a program, or checking out Texas Gun Talk?

2. hard drive: I was thinking of RAID 0, is that noticeably faster than a single drive or RAID 1? Are the solid state hard drives faster? Or, are they just quieter and more energy efficient?

3. Do you think i7 processors are really much faster than a good Core 2 for general use?

4. Where do you go to get higher performance computers built for you? Any good website recommendations, like Alienware or something similar (well-known company that stands behind their product)?

5. I originally planned to spend about $700, but now I'm looking at about $1600 with no monitor. Am I over-thinking this? I no longer have much time to play games, so it's mostly Peggle off Zone.com or some other embarrassing game. The last real game I played was Return to Castle Wolffenstien (sp?).

I have done just enough research to make myself think that I should spend a fair amount more than originally anticipated. I should note that I will be stepping up from an Intel P4 3ghz processor w/1gb of RAM. I am sure that anything I buy will seem faster......

I await the hardware guru's to point the way..........


TGT Supporter
Feb 21, 2008
Austin, TX
Honestly, I would take a step back and decide what you really want, and if what you're planning on building will even be used anywhere near it's potential. What I mean by that is, it's kind of a waste to spend thousands on a computer and then only play a game like once a month. ;) Honestly, I would personally stay away from places like Alienware or any of the other well known "big" names in custom computers. While Alienware as well as plenty of others build great stuff, they make you seriously pay for it. Pay for it as in you probably won't get out for under $3k pay for it. ;) lol

As for a RAID setup, I would advise against it. That is more beneficial for stuff like servers, data storage, etc. I would say the average computer user doesn't need it, and it's just added expense.

Kingofwylietx, are you very experienced at building pc's? Reason I ask is, if you are or at least pretty confident in your abilities, I can help you spec something out. The way I usually do it is determine what I want then go browse ebay, and PRICEWATCH, and maybe a few random Google finds, find the best prices, then order. ;)

What I would recommend is finding a reputable ebay seller and find a prebuilt computer that is close to what you are looking for. Honestly, prebuilt computers have gotten cheap enough online that much of the time you won't even save that much sourcing the parts yourself. If you give me some ideas on what kind of stuff you want (hard drive size, monitor?, video card, audio card, etc) I'll go find you some decent examples of prebuilt setups on ebay. I used to just source all my parts independently. Though after seeing all the deals on prebuilt systems on ebay, next time around i'm just buying one of those and then sourcing my important upgrades (video card, memory, audio card) wherever i can find the best deals.


TGT Addict
May 29, 2017
Austin, TX
I'd suggest forgoing the "best deals" and just paying the extra $5 / part (if that) at www.newegg.com

Newegg has ALWAYS shipped fast, and been a painless transaction. Plus you can get everything in a single box, rather than waiting for 20 packages to show up from 20 different vendors.

You really don't need a fast machine for the things you described. You could put something together for $500 - 600, cheaper if you have a power supply and case. Just spend money where it counts, like RAM.

I agree with Sig_F, you don't need RAID, or something pre-built for that matter. Computers are not that difficult to build yourself.


Feb 29, 2008
DFW area.....Wylie.
I was looking at something like this to 'future-proof' for the next 6 or 7 years. What do you think? The monitor is included, it added about $350, but I may stick with our Sony 19". I also added the Microsoft office Student for $150. Without those, the pc would actually be about $1200.

Congratulations! Your system is ready to be built.My Components
PROCESSORS Intel® Core™i7-920 Processor(8MB L2 Cache, 2.66GHz) edit
OPERATING SYSTEM Genuine Windows Vista® Home Premium Edition SP1, 64-Bit edit
WARRANTY AND SERVICE 2Yr Ltd Hardware Warranty, InHome Service after Remote Diagnosis edit
MEMORY 6GB Tri-Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1066MHz - 6 DIMMs edit
HARD DRIVE 1.28 TB Performance RAID 0 (2 x 640GB SATA 3Gb/s 7200 RPM HDDs) edit
OPTICAL DRIVE Single Drive: 16X CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW) w/double layer write capability edit
MONITORS Dell 24 inch Consumer™ S2409W Flat Panel, Adjustable Stand edit
VIDEO CARD ATI Radeon HD 4670 512MB edit
SOUND CARD Integrated 7.1 Channel Audio edit
SPEAKERS Dell AX510PA 10 Watt Flat Panel Attached Speaker for Flat Panel Monitors edit
KEYBOARD Dell USB Consumer Multimedia Keyboard edit
MOUSE Dell Premium Laser Mouse edit
FLOPPY & MEDIA READER No Floppy Drive or Media Reader Included edit
My Software & Accessories
ANTI-VIRUS & SECURITY McAfee SecurityCenter with anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall, 24-months edit
OFFICE SOFTWARE Microsoft® Office Home and Student 2007 edit
POWER PROTECTION & STORAGE BACKUP Belkin 7-Outlet Small Conceal Surge Protector edit
My Service
REMOTE ACCESS Dell Remote Access, free basic service edit
DATASAFE ONLINE BACKUP Dell Online Backup 2GB for 1 year edit
MODEM No Modem Option
Studio XPS Studio XPS featuring Core i7 processors
Adobe Software Adobe® Acrobat® Reader 9.0 Multi-Language
Network Card Integrated 10/1000 Ethernet
Labels Windows Vista™ Premium

Starting Price $2,025

Instant Savings $325

Subtotal $1,700

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New Member
Dec 10, 2008
I'm a geek by profession and I'll add my .02 to this.

1.) Computers have viable life of 2 years if you buy a good one. Just my thoughts. I upgrade every 2 years. Three at most. Old computer becomes the kids machine. lol
2.) Memory latency. Get the best you can. Less latent is better but if you are just web surfing and not playing the high end 1st person shooters, don't worry so much. Most users won't know the difference...
3.) Having said the above.... Buy name brand stuff. I've built and repaired 1000s of machines in my time. The money you save for cheap gear is offset by the headache of configuration. I stick with the higher end stuff.
4.) RAID.... What do you want, speed or storage or maximum up time? that determines the RAID or lack thereof. For home use, I go with the fastest rotation single drive with the biggest capacity around and don't bother with the RAID. Not necessary for general home use IMO.
5.) I am an Intel processor fan. Folks will flame me for this but I have always had weird errors with AMD chipsets. Odd intermittent stuff. I consider them to be 99% compatible.
6.) Desktops, I build myself. Laptops.... Stay away from IBM. *shudder* but I've had good performance out of my HP. Dells are good and the Alienware (now owned by Dell, IIRC) are pretty good if not very pricey.
7.) Don't run VISTA with less than 2GB RAM. You won't be happy.

The rest is up in the air.


New Member
Dec 10, 2008
The build you have listed looks good and solid to me BTW.... No real worries. I find the price to be a little high, but that is a big monitor.......

I am more of a fan of Nvidia video chipsets but that is a personal thing.

Dell is pretty good in my experience with support and service.

I think your lifespan thoughts may be a bit lofty though. Computers may still work, but they are rendered obsolete by new peripherals and software requirements...

All said and done it looks like a better than average deal. If you haven't looked yet, I'd recommend peeking into Fry's sometime before buying. Just a thought.


Active Member
Oct 13, 2008
Houston Metro
Most of what you mention is more critical to industrial grade servers than to a personal home-use machine.

You also state that you'd not be playing games on it, well, games are the primary reason to buy a new (windows) computer every year. If you're not an avid gamer, any low-end box will surf the web and write Word documents for years (until hardware failure).


Feb 29, 2008
DFW area.....Wylie.
All of you have good, solid points. I'm here because I like guns, but I know a little about computers. I am now convinced that I don't need the RAID 0 (you've all said it, so I'm convinced). It sounds like a fast processor, lots of ram, and a big fast hard drive should be my main objective?

So, maybe I should take a different approach.

Let's say you wanted to buy/build a new computer, with 64bit Vista, no monitor or Microsoft Office. You want to spend under $1000. You want something that starts up and opens applications quickly, and will be reliable. You'll mostly web-surf and bog it down with a bunch of pictures (my wife loves taking pictures and our video camera is digital, it all ends up on the pc). What would you spec?


Active Member
Feb 23, 2008
Personally, I would stay away from 64 bit Vista. Every now and then you will run into a program you want, but it won't run on 64bit versions...I found that out with AutoCAD after I built my computer and had windows on it and everything...luckily, being a student, windows cost me $20...so no sweat off my back. But that's just my personal experience.



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