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New System Suggestions/Advice-$3k Spending Limit

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January 13, 2007 10:51:17 PM

I'm building this system almost purely for gaming, and am trying to make it relatively futureproof. Overclocking is something that I plan on doing with the system as well. I'm only looking to spend around $3,000. I eventually plan on adding a second GTX for SLi, and eventually plan on making a RAID setup.

Thermaltake Armor w/25cm Fan-$170
eVGA 680i mobo-$250
BFG 8800 GTX-$600
Silverstone 750W PSU-$185
E6600-$317
Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800-$290
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750gb-$340
SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner-$32
Logitech G15 Keyboard-$65
Logitech G7 Mouse-$70
SCEPTRE x22wg-$350
Sound Blaster X-Fi-$90
Tuniq Tower 120-$55
-----------------------------
Total: $2,814

Questions/Concerns
1) Am I overdoing it with the PSU? I've read that even with 8800GTXs in SLi, and even if I do plan to add a modest RAID setup and watercooling, 850W is still overkill?

2) I plan on waiting for the release of the E4000 series, if only for the price drop on the E6000 series. Would it be better to buy an inexpensive E4300 now and wait for the price to drop even more on better CPUs? How much of a difference in performance am I likely to see between an OCed E4300 and an OCed E6600? I'm aiming for around 3.4ghz.

3) The case. It's expensive. I've been torn between it and the Thermaltake Armor. I'd LIKE to eventually go with a watercooled setup, and from what I've read the Armor is better for that.

4) I've considered just saving up the extra dough and splurging on a Dell 2407...good idea? Bad idea? Alternatively, since I already have a decent 21" CRT, I could go for a second 8800GTX and wait to upgrade the monitor. What would you do?

Any additional suggestions/thoughts would be welcome.
This is the first time building my own computer, though I have helped/watched friends do it in the past.

EDIT: Updated to reflect changes to PSU and case.
FOURTH EDIT: Redid math reflecting changes in case and PSU, added stuff to some of the questions...etc. Added DVD burner.
January 14, 2007 12:47:19 AM

1) 850W is overkill IMO. You could drop down to 700Watts, but I'm not sure for the 600Watts one, but make sure you keep your eyes open for the 12V's on the PSU for enough Amps in total rails.

2) That's what I'm doing, maybe I won't need to wait for the price drops of the E6000 series if I can overclock the E4300 to 3Ghz or more.

3) Heard nothing but good things about the T's armor case. Not sure about the water set-up.

4) Bigger screen is always better, IMO. :D  (it's probably really expensive for 24in)

p.s. Get a 74 or 150Gb raptor if you have any dough left. It's well worth the money.
January 14, 2007 12:54:12 AM

Quote:
p.s. Get a 74 or 150Gb raptor if you have any dough left. It's well worth the money.


Yeah, getting a Raptor was one of my planned future upgrades.

The old PC I'm using now has about the same storage as the 150gb Raptor, and I'm totally maxxed out, which is why I was thinking of getting the Barracuda first then going to the Raptor later.
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January 14, 2007 1:51:55 AM

I don't think the psu is overkill. It gives you some extra headroom for that second card, or if something even more power hungry comes out in the near future you'll be ready for it.

I have no experience with the thermaltake myself, but the armor also comes in a built in liquid cooling version, the armor lcs. The reviews on it seem to be mixed though.

I wouldnt recommend getting a dell though. For the amount of money you want to spend youll end up with much less pc then you could get on your own.
January 14, 2007 2:02:40 AM

Quote:
I wouldnt recommend getting a dell though. For the amount of money you want to spend youll end up with much less pc then you could get on your own.


The Dell 2407 is a 24" LCD monitor, not a computer, and most of the reviews that I've read say that it's on of the best all-around monitors out there.
January 14, 2007 2:30:44 AM

lol sorry thats what I get for trying to read when Im half asleep. Yeah thats supposed to be a great monitor. Sorry for the confusion.
January 14, 2007 3:28:50 AM

Which X-Fi is that? The XtremeMusic? You might consider spending 30 dollars more on the Fatality Pro. I know the Xram isn't compatible with many games...but it's 30 dollars. And who knows, maybe more games will be compatible with it in the future.
January 14, 2007 3:38:50 AM

Quote:
Which X-Fi is that? The XtremeMusic? You might consider spending 30 dollars more on the Fatality Pro. I know the Xram isn't compatible with many games...but it's 30 dollars. And who knows, maybe more games will be compatible with it in the future.


This is the X-Fi Fatality Pro, and this is the card that I was looking at getting. It has about half the sample rate of the Fatality...I'm pretty newb when it comes to sound cards. How much of a difference will there be?
January 14, 2007 3:45:27 AM

I don't see any problems with this setup. I would keep the PSU. Always go with more power than you need,especially when overclocking or if you are planning to do more upgrades in the future.
January 14, 2007 4:27:12 AM

Quote:


This is the X-Fi Fatality Pro, and this is the card that I was looking at getting. It has about half the sample rate of the Fatality...I'm pretty newb when it comes to sound cards. How much of a difference will there be?


Bleh, I've heard different things about the XtremeGamer. I've heard it's a not-so-pretty XtremeMusic, and I've heard it has different hardware. I know it has slightly different cabling than all of the other X-Fi cards, which made me nervous about getting it. Creative has upset a lot of people by being shady about their X-Fi Audio, which is actually an Audigy with X-Fi software. All of this was enough to scare me into buying the Fatality Pro, which is an XtremeMusic with X-Ram, memory for the sound card that only works with certain games like Quake 4 and BF2142 (which apparently equates to about a 5 FPS difference on many machines), and is supposedly tested by some bigshot pro gamer. For $30 more the peace of mind was worth it to me.
January 14, 2007 4:32:14 AM

Quote:
Bleh, I've heard different things about the XtremeGamer. I've heard it's a not-so-pretty XtremeMusic, and I've heard it has different hardware. I know it has slightly different cabling than all of the other X-Fi cards, which made me nervous about getting it. Creative has upset a lot of people by being shady about their X-Fi Audio, which is actually an Audigy with X-Fi software. All of this was enough to scare me into buying the Fatality Pro, which is an XtremeMusic with X-Ram, memory for the sound card that only works with certain games like Quake 4 and BF2142 (which apparently equates to about a 5 FPS difference on many machines), and is supposedly tested by some bigshot pro gamer. For $30 more the peace of mind was worth it to me.


You're probably right. I've been really confused about the whole X-Fi thing as well. I hate the gold plating too, makes it hard to see what's going on back there. I guess I'll just spend the extra $$$.
January 14, 2007 5:52:10 PM

First, last, and only bump. Just looking for a few more comments/suggestions, I appreciate it.

And thanks for the ones I've already gotten!
January 14, 2007 7:52:18 PM

Good build. Stick with the Thermaltake Armor. It's a great case.

The E4300 is the best bet. The only reason I could understand someone not getting it, is if they were going for an E6600 or better. The 4300 is easily better than the 6300 and 6400.

It'll also be much cheaper. Even with price drops, I don't see the 6400 going below 175 or the 6300 going below 160. The 4300 MSRP is 166 and it over-clocks better than the 6300.

The test 4300 used in the review hit over 3.3 gigahertz and benchmarked better than the QX versions. Sure the QX versions could be over-clocked too, but it's still a $160 processor versus a $950 processor. Getting the stock performance for nearly $800 cheaper is still a milestone worth mention.

Putting an Arctic Cooler Freezer 7 Pro on it would secure your stock cooling and you could just keep it at 3 ghz until you get water-cooling. And even if you do over-clock the crap out of this processor, I'm sure it'd last longer than 6 months and it's only $160.

As for everything else. If anything, you could go cheaper on the monitor to go nicer on the rest of the stats. 750 gigabytes is a lot, and to note, my friend had a raptor hard-drive. I didn't notice ANY performance difference between his raptor and my raid 0 2x 250. The only difference was, for the same price, I had 500 gigabytes and he had to buy a "crappy speed, slower" ATA drive anyway because his 74 gigabyte raptor didn't have enough space. The raptor, if anything, lowers load times, but you will not see a frame-rate difference using a raptor over anything else. If you really have all that money to spend, just get two competent 250+ drives and raid them. You'll save money there as well.

Have you considered this monitor?

Hanns 19" Widescreen

I've had it for 7 months now. No dead pixels, no problems, no loss of color or anything. Great picture quality, great response time and as far as refresh rates, who cares about 85 @ whatever? The human eye can only see 24!!! As far as I'm concerned, 5ms response time and 700:1 contrast is all you should worry about. It's half the price of your current monitor choice.

So to sum it up:

Wait a week for the 4300, if the cache is supposedly so great, it makes me wonder why in every single benchmark Tom's Hardware did with the over-clocked 4300, it beat the QX processors every time.

You'll save nearly $200 there. Go with a cheaper wide-screen monitor, you'll save $150-ish there. Go with a raid 0 set up for your hard-drives for speed, you'll get quiet + speed and save money there too.

With the remaining funds, you could either buy another 8800GTX or get water-cooling right off the bat.

Also, the R600 is around the corner. Don't know if you want to wait for that or the next 8- series card.
January 14, 2007 8:10:50 PM

Quote:
The E4300 is the best bet. The only reason I could understand someone not getting it, is if they were going for an E6600 or better. The 4300 is easily better than the 6300 and 6400.

It'll also be much cheaper. Even with price drops, I don't see the 6400 going below 175 or the 6300 going below 160. The 4300 MSRP is 166 and it over-clocks better than the 6300.


See that's just it, I'm trying to decide between the E6600 and the E4300, I'm not really considering the E6300 or the E6400. And since the E6600 is supposed to drop to around the price of what the E6400 is now, I think I'm just gonna go with that over the E4300.

Good recommendations on the HD, I'll look into some cheaper alternatives for a Raid 0.

Quote:
Have you considered this monitor?

Hanns 19" Widescreen

I've had it for 7 months now. No dead pixels, no problems, no loss of color or anything. Great picture quality, great response time and as far as refresh rates, who cares about 85 @ whatever? The human eye can only see 24!!! As far as I'm concerned, 5ms response time and 700:1 contrast is all you should worry about. It's half the price of your current monitor choice.


I'm really looking for things that are bigger than 20", and since I can afford to wait on buying the monitor (since the one I have right now will work fine for a while) I'm pretty comfortable with saving up the extra dough to get a 2407WFP.

Quote:
So to sum it up:

Wait a week for the 4300, if the cache is supposedly so great, it makes me wonder why in every single benchmark Tom's Hardware did with the over-clocked 4300, it beat the QX processors every time.


I looked and couldn't find that article anywhere, but I DID see a review at Anandtech that showed that the QX actually beats out the E4300 in most gaming benchmarks (albeit BARELY). Which just makes me think more that I should go with the E6600.




Quote:
Also, the R600 is around the corner. Don't know if you want to wait for that or the next 8- series card.


The only part of the R600's release I am looking forward to is the subsequent price drop in the G80 series. :wink:
January 14, 2007 9:23:21 PM

Quote:

I looked and couldn't find that article anywhere, but I DID see a review at Anandtech that showed that the QX actually beats out the E4300 in most gaming benchmarks (albeit BARELY). Which just makes me think more that I should go with the E6600.


:Sigh: I really wish people would stop thinking Anandtech and Tomshardware are the scene news pages for new hardware.

http://xtreview.com/review161.htm

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core2duo-e...

Xtreview, hardforums, xbit, xtremesystems etc. There's plenty of sites out there other than Anandtech and Tomshardware. Hell Anandtech even has an ATI bias, so I don't understand people constantly flocking that site either.

The E4300, while only $166 MSRP, is oft being compared to the E6600, a $300+ Processor.

It's more or less, you get what you could get with the E6600, but in a smaller priced processor.







Important to note: If you don't over-clock, the E4300 sucks. It's just not a good processor for the money if you don't overclock. The Intel 945 and the AMD X2 perform better in most applications against the stock speed of the 4300. Where the 4300 shines, is over-clocked.

It's very rare to find someone with a 6300 or 6400 at 3.42 ghz. Especially on air cooling. Xbitlabs used a Zalman air cooler on their 4300. They hit 2.95 ghz with the stock voltage, but when bumping the voltage to 1.6 with a Zalman cooler, they hit 3.42 ghz.

Combined with this Conroe OC database:

http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1075792

It's easy to see why the 4300 is such a good buy. Sure, it's hard to get past 3.42 Ghz, but it's easier to hit that frequency, where-as most 6400's and 6300's need water-cooling or phase cooling to get past 3.2 ghz.

Taster's choice really. If you want to spend the extra money on a E6600, go ahead. I'd be happy with an E4300 @ 3.42 GHZ though. The 9x Multiplier is very nice.
January 14, 2007 9:28:07 PM

Well, you DID say that you got the review off TH...

Anyways, when the E4300 comes out the E6600 is supposed to drop in price, to around $200. So does the $40 difference still make the E4300 a better buy?

I've been looking for this answer everywhere, and I still can't find anything. I'm beginning to think it's because no one really knows. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.

EDIT: That XBitLabs review says, contrary to a lot of what I've read, that the E6000 series will still be a better choice for heavier overclocking...
Also, every review I've read compares the E4300 to the E6300 and declares the E4300 the winner...which I accept fully. But I'm still trying to discover how it compares to the E6600. Is there so little of a difference between the E6300 and the E6600 that it doesn't matter? This is the main thing I've been trying to figure out.

DOUBLE EDIT: After reading your edit, it looks like the E4300 probably WILL be worth it. Thanks for the benchmarks and the links.
January 14, 2007 9:37:14 PM

Quote:
Well, you DID say that you got the review off TH...

Anyways, when the E4300 comes out the E6600 is supposed to drop in price, to around $200. So does the $40 difference still make the E4300 a better buy?

I've been looking for this answer everywhere, and I still can't find anything. I'm beginning to think it's because no one really knows. Guess I'll just have to wait and see.


If the E6600 really drops to $200, then it's a better buy no matter who you are. The problem is, I really don't see it dropping that much in price. And even then, they said the E4300 will drop to $130 in spring.

I'd estimate the $200 price-drop you're thinking of is the Q2 price-drop, but that's only because the 4x line will be in full release at that time.

The question you have to ask yourself is, how much should the 6300 and 6400 cost if the 6600 is brought down to $200? If that's the case, the 6400 will be $120 and the 6300 will be $100.

If when the 4300 comes out, it's $166, the 6400 is $120 and the 6300 is $100, then the 40$ price difference has to be compared to the 6400 too which is very competitive with the 4300 over-clocked. They both have high multipliers and both over-clock really well, but the 6400 can hit higher frequencies.

You really can't guess on price-drops until the price-drops actually happen. You have to factor in demand too. With demand, price-drop and quantity being factored, I'd estimate that ANY of the four processors will be a good buy, depending on which one is being bought the LEAST. Whichever one is being bought the most will have the highest demand, hence it won't receive as much of a price drop on the retailer's end.

For example, if the 4300 is being bought like hot cakes, and the #2 competitor is the 6600, it's likely you won't find a 6600 for less than $220-230 or a 4300 for less than $175, but the 6400 and 6300 might be easily found in the $135 range, making them the best choices. The door swings more ways than one unfortunately.
January 14, 2007 9:50:46 PM

Thanks for the info. In the meantime looks like I'll just have to wait and see, let the chips fall where they may (pun totally intended).

In the meantime, I'm looking at getting a pair of 320GB Barracudas for a RAID 0. I though I had read somewhere that there are specially designed HDs just for RAID, but couldn't really find anything on NewEgg that would indicate this. Is that the case or will any matched pair of HDs work?

Thanks again for the help and info.
!