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Another first timer, High spec Core 2 duo build

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September 7, 2006 1:47:05 PM

Hi All,

I would really appreciate your input on my spec for my first build.

Intended Usage:


80% Heavy multitasking - Mail, browsing, downloading movies, playng music onMediaplayer, decoding movies, online poker

20% Games - Warcraft, Flight sims, RTS

I am a speed junkie and always tweaking Windows for max speed - my existing Dell 8200 P4 2.4 is just groaning under the strain I place it under!

I will be using my existing Dell 20 inch LCD, running 1600x1200

Spec
These parts are available in local stores (i live in Holland). Woud appreciate your thoughts and also suggested alternatives.

Processor - Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 (Am I crazy here? Should I go for E6600 instead?)
Motherboard - Asus P5N32-SLI-Deluxe
Cooler - Coolermaster Hyper L3
Memory - 2GB - Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4
Video - ASUS EN7600GS TOP Silent/HTD/512 (will upgrade to DX 10 card(s) next year)
Sound - Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic
Hard Drive - Western Digital WD2500KS (possibly 2 of these in Raid 0)
Case - Coolermaster Mystique 631
PSU - Coolermaster Real Power ATX, 550W SLI
Keyboard, mouse, DVD writer repurposed from old machine
Generic floppy or combo mediacard reader/floppy (any recommendations?)

SLI - not yet, only 50-50 that I will do but would like a motherboard that gives me the option.

Overclocking - never done it, will experiment with simple/gentle overclocking but doubt that I will do it seriously


Other Questions:
From a self build like this, can I expect after the initial tweaking to have a stable, trouble free machine that will last me years as my current Dell Dimension 8200 has?

How difficult is it to set up Raid 0, and should I do this at the outset or add it later?

Thanks in advance for your advice.
September 7, 2006 4:55:14 PM

Suggested Changes (Using Newegg as reference):

CPU: Yes, I would drop to the E6600. Put the money you save into another part, or just keep the cash.

Motherboard: The board you picked out will not support the Core 2 Chips. I generally tell people to stay away from running an SLI setup because it needs so much more power (Crossfire as well), is a horrible upgrade path, and really only exists for bragging rights. Go for a Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 instead.

Video Card: Try to find this eVGA Geforce 7600GT. eVGA's cards tend to have better specs and also cost a bit less than Asus cards.

Sound Card: If you're not an audiophile, don't bother with the sound card. Gigabyte tends to use better onboard audio chips than other manufacturers.... they still don't provide sound at the quality level that a card like the X-Fi XtremeMusic would, but they are usually better than most other onboard solutions.

Hard Drive: Swap the WD for this 7200.10 250GB drive from Seagate. You should be able to get better performance out of this one since it uses Perpendicular recording. AFAIK, WD has not implemented this technology into their hard drives yet.

Power Supply: Antec NeoHE 500W
September 7, 2006 6:08:05 PM

i aggree ! get the e6600 and the evga 7600gt



but maybe if (if) you are ordering from overclockers.uk (they ship to european places athlough i dont know the cost) maybe get the ds4, it has the better ICH8R and supports raid if your gonna need it and has a better 6 phase power and i has a heatpipe like the dq6. only costs a little more as well

ggiabyte motherboards at overclockers.uk
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/Online_Catalogue...
Related resources
September 7, 2006 6:10:16 PM

sorry i just checked seconds after the post ...
they dont ship to holland. oops... sorry... well maybe you can get the ds4 wherever your buying the computer parts from AS IT SUPPORTS RAID. or get the asus psb deluxe p965 as it should support raid with the ICH8r :D 
September 7, 2006 6:46:54 PM

Cooler: XP-120 or XP-90 + fan = very cool proc at no noise. Plus it cools the mobo as a side effect.

Maybe some faster memory since you like tweaking? (e.g. overclocking memory)

Do you like modular PSU? If yes, OCZ Modstream 520W is good. If no, OCZ GamerXstream 600W( i have it, very stable w/ blue and green lighting:-)

I'd say get a better GPU since you are pushing 16x12 constantly. 7900GT or X1800XT 256mb

get some case fans
September 7, 2006 7:12:21 PM

Quote:
Cooler: XP-120 or XP-90 + fan = very cool proc at no noise. Plus it cools the mobo as a side effect.

Maybe some faster memory since you like tweaking? (e.g. overclocking memory)

Do you like modular PSU? If yes, OCZ Modstream 520W is good. If no, OCZ GamerXstream 600W( i have it, very stable w/ blue and green lighting:-)

I'd say get a better GPU since you are pushing 16x12 constantly. 7900GT or X1800XT 256mb

get some case fans


An aftermarket cooler isn't necessary if he's not going to be doing any serious overclocking. The memory will be fine being a CAS 4 model of DDR2-800. Anything higher is for overclockers only, and he indicated that there would only be small amounts of OC'ing involved. An OCZ supply would be a good idea, but if he wants modular cabling, stick with the Antec I suggested.

He also indicated that he would be upgrading to DX 10 when they arrive, therefore there is no need to waste so much money on a high end card right now.
September 7, 2006 11:12:52 PM

Thanks for the input so far. What about Raid 0 - is it worth doing (i plan to have an additional drive for data backup), and is it difficult to set up?
September 8, 2006 1:27:48 AM

Quote:
Thanks for the input so far. What about Raid 0 - is it worth doing (i plan to have an additional drive for data backup), and is it difficult to set up?


It is easy to setup, but unless your computing operations involve many large drive writes (like video work) RAID 0 will not really help you that much. However, it does increase your points of failure. If EITHER hard drive dies, all the data goes with it.
September 8, 2006 2:06:52 AM

Yeah, since he wants to move into Dx10 you can get good perfomance on 1 screen with a x850Pro, X1800XT, 7600GT all at around the same price point and power (but with some distinguising points between). If he's not jumping to Dx10right away but waiting for prices to ease off by say 6 months/1 year then perhaps a 7900GT would be better for lifespan/performance/cost.

E6600 will have all the oomph you want. Raid 0 means 1/2 read and 1/2 write times of a non-raid setup, which is appealing (and is pretty damn easy to setup) but does mean that if either drive fails you lose everything. How big a deal that is is up to you. Raid 1 uses those same 2 drives but they both have the same info. You will read at 1/2 but write at 1 (full) - much safer as 1 drive failure means loss of the 1/2 read and your info is safe. Again, how big a deal that is is a matter of opinion. I've experienced drive failure twice in my systems over the 20 years I've had personal computers - and after a couple years in each case - but that doesn't mean it can't happen to you. Having a method of backing up your data (like a storage hard disk) can remove a lot of the scare in a Raid 0 setup.

Me, I'd rather spend the money from 2 drives on 1 good drive for 'operations' and 1 large drive for 'storage'. Operations has the operating system, commonly used programs, and current games. Storage has everything else. Operations need to have a nice access time and such - Raptor is the stereotypical choice here, but you can save a good deal of money by sacrificing some of that spec if you pick out an alternative drive. Seagate and Samsung make some decent drives.

As for a modular PSU, I love my Hiper Type-R 580W (others will disagree with this). You'll need a PSU of at least 400W, you'd really rather have more for lifespan and future upgrades (again the Dx10 lurks in the future), but get something with APFC.
September 8, 2006 9:53:53 AM

Good advice so far. I can live with something like a 7600 for now - I will likely dual boot Vista to play with it as soon as it is out but only move to it as my main OS after 6 months from release when drivers are more stable etc.

Up until now I have thought about a SLI capable board in case I want to go for that - what I don't have an understanding of is how crossfire compares to SLI and whether I should actually think about that as an option for a motherboard?

Regarding PSU/cooling etc I would rather invest now and have room to row later than worry about upgrading things like a PSU later.

Taking on board what has been said, I will probably get a E6600 and overclock it to E6700 spec.....though that Quad core Intel CPU on the horizon is very tempting!

If I go for Raid 0 it would definately be in the context of having a 3rd backup drive. In my current system I already image my OS & data partitions on a monthly basis as well as more regular incrementals for vital data.

I have thought a lot about a raptor - is ther perfomance really going to be noticable though? I am concious of the fact that without going for the absolute extreme components this new PC is going to feel blazingly fast after coming from 5 year old P4 2.4/Gforce ti4600 with old IDE drives....at least I hope so!

What are the advantages of a modular PSU?

Finally - any comments on my choice of case? I was also thinking of getting a Coolermaster Centurion...

Thanks for all the comments so far, I really apprciate your time.
September 8, 2006 3:37:27 PM

For the SLI/Crossfire option, I wouldn't bother. Running that config is only going to give you better framerates if you're gaming above 1600 x 1200. It's also a horrible upgrade path, and if you can't get both cards within 1-2 months of each other... something new will have come out that beats both of your cards by itself.

If Kentsfield is very tempting, I would stick to an E6300 for now, and then move to Kentsfield when it arrives.

The Raptor's access times are better than anything out there, but the throughput is beat by many drives including this one. The performance about evens out. The Raptor is still better overall, but IMO it doesn't justify the inflated price tag.

Modular PSU's allow you to only hook up the power cables that you need. Instead of hiding the extra cables somewhere inside the case, you just don't install them. Helps the airflow in the case a bit.
September 9, 2006 3:35:44 AM

A modular PSU gives you the advantage of only using the cables you are actually using, the rest just don't get attached and this will improve airflow in your case. Is this worth the extra cash? Debateable. The same goes for who is the best manufacturer and how big a PSU you need to buy. Like I said, get at least a 400w PSU with APFC and you should be fine right now (get one with 2 12v rails too while you're at it). If you want to consider the future, 500-600w is really what you will probably need in the next 1-2 years considering the way things have been going - it depends on when you next want to upgrade and how you do it when you do.

Your case is beloved by many, and I'm sure reviled by others. Cases tend to be more matters of taste and what matters to you. I like screw-less designs made from aluminum, preferably without plastic involved in the facia and the case should be black, and I like to keep my case on my desk so no servers or full towers for me. I also want something a little different so I'm opting (I think) for a Thermaltake Eclipse DV (same black but no window) for my next build. Other people will think it's ugly or a waste of money (about £100) or its too small, or hate Thermaltake, but everyone has opinions when it comes to cases and they are all different.
September 10, 2006 11:02:16 AM

Ok, I revised my build spec, and have an order ready with overclockers.co.uk as they will ship to The Netherlands.

I decided to ditch SLI/crossfire with the idea of getting the most powerful Single/dual DX10 card available around the middle of next year.

Going for a beefy PSU with quad core/hefty single card in mind next year.

Decided to go for a Raptor for OS rather than additional Raid complexity.

Will experiment with some overclocking based on what the after market cooler & case design I have selected here. Would be interested to know from the experience of others what level of SAFE overclock a novice like myself can achieve with the components I have listed assuming that at the end of the day i just want a nice stable system that I do not have to keep fiddlling with!

There is a Kensfield review on Toms due tomorrow....a favourable report there could delay this purchase a couple of months ;-)

Comments?

Intel Core 2 DUO E6600 "LGA775 Conroe" 2.40GHz (1066FSB) - £194.99
Corsair 2GB DDR2 XMS2-6400C4 PRO TwinX (2x1GB) - £199.99
Gigabyte GA_965P_DQ6 (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard - £129.99
Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler (Socket 775) £17.99
EVGA GeForce 7600 GT KO 256MB GDDR3 HDTV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - £119.99
Western Digital Raptor 150GB WD1500ADFD 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Cache - OEM - £145.95
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB ST3320620AS SATA-II 16MB Cache - OEM (HD-078-SE) - £59.95
Coolermaster Wave Master - Silver (No PSU) - £74.95
Antec NeoHE 550W Modular ATX2.0 PSU - £77.99
Mitsumi FA 404M 7in1 USB 2.0 Floppy & Media Drive - £12.99
Subtotal £1,034.78
VAT £181.09
Total £1,215.87
September 10, 2006 1:18:52 PM

Quote:
Suggested Changes (Using Newegg as reference):

Motherboard: The board you picked out will not support the Core 2 Chips. I generally tell people to stay away from running an SLI setup because it needs so much more power (Crossfire as well), is a horrible upgrade path, and really only exists for bragging rights. Go for a Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 instead.



Actually, there is two revision's of that asus board. One that supports Core2duo/extreme and one that does not. If he is purchasing at a local shop, as it seems he is, than there should be something on the box that says the board supports Core2Duo or that it doesn't.
September 11, 2006 8:56:50 AM

Does my choice of memory look right to people out there? Also, will the raptor give noticeable benefit or should I drop it for another Seagate?
September 11, 2006 9:20:27 AM

would an e 6700 not oc if not higher than a e 6600
September 11, 2006 4:29:33 PM

i think it would help a bit but maybe get the 74gb raptor and (use it in JBOD) and use it for your apps and windows files (and games). then use your seagate 320gb for music, video data etc :) 

that way youd save some money and could buy annother seagate 320gb for the around the same price then run the two seagates in raid stipe and the raptor in JBOD. :wink:

would 2 seagate cuddas 7200.10 320gb have the same performance as a single raptor 74gbanyone confirm this? that way youd get the same performance as the raptor for data reading right? :roll:
September 11, 2006 4:38:55 PM

memory is a bit expensive, here have a look for this:

OCZ 2GB (2 x 1GB) PC2-7200 Dual Channel EPP XTC Series DDR2 (OCZ2N9002GK) (MY-074-OC)

OCZ cas 4-4-3-15
CORSAIR cas 4-4-4-12

on this page:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/acatalog/OCZ_DDR2_Memory....

its faster (900mhz vs 800mhz) but im not sure about compatibility with core 2 motherboards (due to the higher voltage they are rated at, 2.1v not 1.8v) however i think the problem with higher voltage ram is fixed now with new bios updates. nevertheless can someone confirm?
!