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Nov 01

Radeon HD 5770 review

Posted by Michael Cooper in video cards , Hardware

Michael Cooper has a great write up on the 5770, ATI's new low to mid-range video cards.

Radeon HD 5770 Review at

The 5770 has similar specs to the previous generations high end card, the 4890.  The one down fall of the 5770 is it's 128 memory interface.  The 4890 has a 256 bit memory interface. The 128 bit memory interface makes the cards performance closer to a 4850 from the last generation. 

On the up side the 5770 supports the new DirectX 11 for Vista and Windows 7.  Page 4 of Guru3d's review has more info about DirectX 11.

The 5770 at around $160 is a solid choice for casual gamers.

Oct 22

Windows 7 is now available for you to build a computer around.

Posted by Michael Cooper in software

Michael Cooper

It's been awhile, but it looks as if Microsoft has released an OS they can be proud of.  If you are still running XP I would say upgrade, as long as you have enough memory.  A minimum of 2GB for Windows 7 to run well, more RAM is better. If you're running Vista, absolutely upgrade.

The next consideration is which version to get.  Home Premium, Pro or Ultimate and 32bit or 64bit?

I would go with Home Premium.  You should take a look at the side by side comparisons of the flavors to see if Pro or Ultimate have something you absolutely need, but Home Premium is very feature rich.

On the 32bit vs 64bit front I would recommend 64bit for everyone with a 64bit capable processor (CPUs made in the last 3 years).  There are some remaining driver and program incompatibilities, but most have been fixed.  Go through your list of the hardware you run and make sure there are 64 bit drivers available for your components from the manufacturer.  Microsoft has a Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor that you can run that will tell you if there are any potential driver and software incompatibilities.

Buy the Full OEM Version of Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit at $109.99

This is the OEM version which means you won't receive any official, phone, chat or email support from Microsoft.  If you think you need the support, you can get the Retail Box full version here for $199.99, or if you have Windows Vista you can get the Retail Box upgrade version here for $119.99.

Since you're reading this you have either already built your own PC, or are about to build a computer, so you probably don't need support from Microsoft.

Oct 19

Core i5 motherboard reviews

Posted by Michael Cooper in motherboard , Hardware , CPU

Michael Cooper

With the Core i5 CPUs and motherboards now on the market I thought I would link to two reviews of the most popular boards.  Both cost around $200.

Asus P7P55D EVO P55 motherboard review at

EVGA P55 FTW SLI motherboard review at

The motherboards have very similar features and specs.  The main difference is the EVGA board supports SLI and the Asus board supports both SLI and Crossfire.  

The most impressive thing I read in the two reviews is that the guys at were able to get a Core i5 2.66GHz CPU to overclock all the way up to 4.2GHz.  That is crazy!  It's a 4 core CPU, overclocked to that speed and it's only $200.  At that speed it might not be rock solid stable, but if you backed the overclock off to 4GHz to make it run stably it would still be incredibly fast for the money.

Oct 14

Update on ATI 5850 and 5870 availability

Posted by Michael Cooper in video cards , Hardware

Michael Cooper

Last week I posted a notice about ATI's latest graphics cards, the 5850 and 5870.  These cards are selling out everywhere. doesn't have any in stock as of this writing.  Here's some other places to buy that currently, as of this writing do have some cards.  The availability will continue to fluctuate, but with this list you should be able to find the card you want when you decide to buy.

Oct 07

We've updated all of the Computer Parts Lists

Posted by Michael Cooper in video cards , site news , motherboard , memory , Hardware , hard drives , CPU

Michael Cooper

We maintain several computer parts lists with recommended computer parts for a range of budgets.  We update them every 2 or 3 months to keep you up to date with the latest computer parts. 

We recently updated the lists.

Some of the highlights are:

$800 Gaming Computer - Changed the recommended CPU from a 2.5GHz to 2.8GHz.  The upgrade was only $20.

$1200 Gaming Computer - Switched the Intel CPU to a Core i5 (motherboard as well)

$1800 Gaming Computer - Changed the recommended video card to a ATI 5850.  These cards are crazy fast, relatively low power and support DX11

$2300 Gaming Computer - Changed the ATI recommended video card to the 5870.  This is the higher performance version of the 5850 mentioned above.  The recommended Nvidia card didn't change.  It's still the GTX 295. This is a 2 GPU card.  It's expensive and takes a lot of power but if you want the best... 

Hopefully ATI will release a 2 GPU version of the 5800 series and take back the single card performance crown in a few months.

Most of the rest of the updates were price changes and substitutions for products that have been discontinued.

Oct 04

New ATI Video cards - Radeon HD 5850 and 5870

Posted by Michael Cooper in video cards , Hardware

Michael Cooper

 The 5850 and 5870 are the new performance leaders for single GPU cards.  The 5850 is 5% to 10% faster than the previous single GPU performance king, the GTX 295.  The 5870 is 20% to 30% faster than the GTX 295.  The performance range depends on the application/game.

 These are also the first cards to support DirectX 11.  DirectX 11 will launch simultaneously with Windows 7, on Oct. 22 and will also work, with an update, in Windows Vista.

 Here's a good article about DX11.  It was written last year, but still holds up.

The 5850 and 5870 are going for around $260 and $385 respectively.

  When you take into consideration that the previous single card performance kind, the GTX 295, was selling for $500, both of these cards are a great deal.  Not surprisingly, these cards are selling out very quickly.  As of this writing doesn't have any in stock.  Other retailers do have them available.

ATI Radeon 5870 Reviews,2422.html

Sep 30

Added a $250 computer upgrade parts list

Posted by Admin2 in video cards , site news , motherboard , memory , Hardware , CPU


 You can find the $250 Computer Upgrade parts list here.  Why didn't we have this on the site before?

 I got an email from a 14 year old in Houston who wanted to upgrade his PC, a Emachines T1801, circa 2003.  It had a 800Mhz Celeron, 128MB RAM. Now he could probably upgrade to a 1200MHz Celeron and maybe 512MB of RAM, but that would cost a few hundred dollars (really old PC parts get expensive).  The performance increase would be very small. 

 So, what I did was go looking for the parts he would need to do a real meaningful upgrade.  I noticed after about 15 minutes that the parts I was finding were ones I had seen before.  They were from the $500 computer parts list.  If you take off the hard drive, DVD drive and the externals (monitor, keyboard/mouse and speakers) you have a $250 computer upgrade.  This would be extremely fast compared to his current computer at a very low price.

 You can apply this upgrade strategy to any of the higher priced computer parts lists on the site.  The one other component I would recommend upgrading, even if you already have one, is the hard drive.  If your current hard drive is smaller than 100GB you really should upgrade it.  If not at the same time as the other components (CPU, MB, RAM, etc.) then as soon as you can afford to.  It is amazing how much having a modern hard drive (750GB, minimum) will speed up your computer.

 The first computer I built for the original Home PC Builder videos is now at my parents house (it has been for years).  It had a 40GB drive in it which was big and fast for the time.  Mom got a digital camera for her birthday and she started filling up the drive. It took a year or two, but she did it.  They had been saying the computer was very slow compared to their new laptop.  They needed more space so I got them a 1TB drive.  The capacity was probably overkill, but dad has recently gotten into downloading "stuff" (wink, wink).  They were very impressed by the speed increase.

 I think this is an important addition to the site and I wouldn't have thought of it without getting a question about it.

 Please don't hesitate to email or call 866-508-1113 with your questions/suggestions.

Sep 10

Intel's new Core i5 CPU is now available

Posted by Michael Cooper in motherboard , memory , Hardware , CPU

Michael Cooper

The Core i5 is the main stream version of the Core i7 CPU.  The differences are:

  • A new CPU socket, socket 1156 and motherboard
  • It supports DDR3 Dual Channel, compared to Triple Channel with the Core i7.
  • No Hyperthreading

 Intel did release two new Core i7 models that go into the socket 1156, they have Hyperthreading, but don't support Triple Channel memory.  I'm not sure why they did that.  It just confuses things.

 That's all the negitive stuff.  On the positive side the Core i5 CPU and motherboard are much cheaper. 

  • The Core i5 750, clocked at 2.66GHz is only $200.  The Core i7 clocked at 2.66GHz is $300.
  • Socket 1156 motherboards range from $99 for a basic Micro ATX and go up to $250 at the high end.
  • Memory prices for 4GB of DDR3 is around $85.  3GB (what you would need for Triple Channel on the Core i7) of DDR3 is around $70.
  • The Core i5 750 is very overclockable.  It's standard speed is 2.66GHz.  People have getting them up to 4GHz on just air cooling.

 We'll be updating the Computer Parts Lists soon and will surely include the Core i5 in both the $800 and $1200 computer.

 One thing to keep in mind is that if you want the most powerful system available the Core i7 Socket 1366 is still the way to go.  The Socket 1366 will be Intel's high end platform for the next 2 years.   Intel will release a 6 core CPU probably called the Core i9 in the 2nd quarter of 2010 which will use socket 1366.  8 core CPUs are still at least a year away, but will probably also use socket 1366.


Aug 22

Home Networking Videos

Posted by Jerry Gallegos in Untagged 

Jerry Gallegos
Just wanted to say thank you very very much for the Home wireless Networking videos....  Those were Sweet!!!!!!!!!!!!!  worth the price of the online web viewing by themselves easy!!!  I setup my home  wireless network after just watching these videos once.....  and its working sweet.... Thank You very much...!!!!!  What an incredibly good service you provide....
Aug 15

We added video previews to all lessons

Posted by Admin2 in site news

Now when you go to watch a lesson you will see a screen shot from the video giving you a better idea of what the video is about before you play it.  This helps visually distinguish one video from another when you are clicking through the menus.
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