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Requesting input on a new system

Last response: in Systems
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January 21, 2007 2:37:25 PM

My five year old dell finally croaked and I figured it was time to get a new system. I know enough to put together a system if I have the parts, but I won't pretend to know enough to select all the right compatible parts. I went searching for a good configuration and found the following:

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=396

I have about $2500 to spend, and so I was looking at the high end configuration (second config on page 2). I can recycle the monitor, OS, speakers, mouse, keyboard and a few other tidbits from the Dell rig, which counts for most of the missing pieces in the zdnet rig. I figured I should get some second opinions from knowledgeable folks and ask a few questions.

As for what I need the computer for, I'm going off to college and will be doing the general college thing. Papers, presentations, gaming, video, etc. I have dabbled in 3D modeling, and may continue to do so, so it'd be nice to have the requisite power.

Anyway, onto the questions:

1) Generally speaking, is this a good set up? Is there anything you'd add, subtract or change?

2) Will these parts be workhorse parts? I'm likely going to be using this computer for the next four or five years with minimal upgrades. I may add RAM or peripherals at some point, but I'm not going to be gutting it and adding heavy artillery.

3) Instead of four 512 MB RAM sticks, would it be better to go with two 1GB sticks (price difference is negligible) to leave slots for later RAM upgrades?

4) 60% of the capital is going into the CPU and Video Card alone. Obviously these are two of the most important parts, but it's a large chunk of change. Are the parts listed worth the price (They fit into the budget if they're worth it), if not, would you recommend anything different?

5) Is the cooling sufficient? The last thing I want is to fry a thousand dollar CPU because I didn't spend an extra fifty bucks on cooling.

6) What is the limit for safely overclocking the CPU given the cooling system provided?

7) Is there anything coming out soon that would be worth waiting for instead of one of the parts listed here?

8) The article recommends two fairly sizable hard drives, saying that drive speed is overrated. I've heard other people set up a large hard drive for storage and a smaller faster hard drive for programs to cut down on load times. What're your thoughts on going about it?

9) Would it be possible to use a dirt cheap laptop to access the desktop using a remote desktop program, in order to get the functionality of a laptop in a college setting, while keeping all my files on the desktop and making it do most of the work?

Thanks for taking the time to read the questions, any help would be greatly appreciated.
January 21, 2007 2:53:49 PM

Not sure which one of the three setups you're looking at on that blog, but I would definitely consider a differenct MB. My personal preference is the ASUS P5B Deluxe because it is a stable over-clocker, has a ton of features, and is somewhat future-proof for upgrading. You will find an equal number of ppl on this forum that would also recommend the Gigabyte DS3 for many of the same reasons. I think, unless you are gaming, that the video card is a bit of overkill, but that depends on you. DX10 is going to be coming out at some time this year (2nd qtr?) and all the cards are going to change to meet that standard, so you might want to buy something that will get you by until that release, then buy the zoot-capri-wazoo video card. There are some X1950XT and 7950GT cards in the $200 - $300 range that would probably meet your needs just fine, for the interim. I would def. go for the two sticks of RAM; get them matched so you can run them dual channel. A couple of good HD in a stripe array (Raid 0) will give you almost the same performance as "one of those small fast drives, (probably a Raptor, which is smaller capacity, expensive, and noisier). The Zalman fans work well, CNPS9500 or the 9700, good cooling and quiet, and will handle most of your moderate overclockings. Good luck.
January 21, 2007 3:34:48 PM

Quote:
I have about $2500 to spend, and so I was looking at the high end configuration (second config on page 2).


Quote:
ULTIMATE Enthusiast PC
Part Price*
MSI P965 Platinum $141
Intel C2D QX6700 2.66 GHz quad-core CPU $1130
Two 2×512 GB DDR2 800 MHz $210
BFG GeForce 8800 GTX $597
R120 liquid CPU cooler $69
Two 400 GB Seagate SATA 3.0 $242
SeaSonic S12 430 Watt PS $98
Cooler Master CAV-T03-UW $76
SoundBlaster Audigy SB0570 $28
NEC 18x DVD burner $35
Sub total $2626



EDIT: Good advice. I just wanted to make it clear for people.
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January 21, 2007 3:47:19 PM

I'll let the other folks make the specific suggestions but..

Drop the Quad core to a E6600.
Up to 2x1Gb Memory
Ditch the liquid cooling for good air cooling
Up the size of the PSU and ensure enough amps for the graphics cards and future upgrades.

Define what you want to use the machine for so people can suggest things accordingly. It might be you do lots of media encoding where quad core might make sense but the above would be just general advice.
January 21, 2007 3:53:36 PM

I would suggest 2GB RAM (2x1GB DDR2-800) that is compatible with the MB that you choose.

It looks like the power supply in that configuration is insufficient at 380W. I would suggest a PSU at 600W minimum with 3 12V rails with 18A min. Check out this one.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817371001

I'm sure others will have good (and better) advice than this. These two items are really glaring when considering spending that much $$.

Good Luck,
Xal
January 21, 2007 5:41:52 PM

Quote:
I'll let the other folks make the specific suggestions but..

Drop the Quad core to a E6600.
Up to 2x1Gb Memory
Ditch the liquid cooling for good air cooling
Up the size of the PSU and ensure enough amps for the graphics cards and future upgrades.

Define what you want to use the machine for so people can suggest things accordingly. It might be you do lots of media encoding where quad core might make sense but the above would be just general advice.


Are you advising a change from Quad core to the E6600 because the difference isn't worth the price, or do you think there's something negative about the Quad core? I'm also trying to look down the road, and although a Quad core may be slight overkill now, will an E6600 be overmatched in three or four years?

As for DX10 mentioned above, I was under the impression that the 8800GTX was DX10 compatible, am I wrong in this?

As for the motherboard, is the one in the current config suitable, or would you recommend a different one as another poster advised?
January 21, 2007 7:12:26 PM

Unless you know that you will be using software that can fully utilise the extra cores you will not see a performance increase. The price performance sweet spot still falls to the dual core. Personally I just could not justify the extra cost at present. I've not got anything negative to say other than it uses more juice and puts out more heat and costs more.

The 8800GTX is the top of the range card at the minute. But it is the first of a new bread and as such there will be improvements. Hopefully one will be power usage. Yes the card is DX10 and that is the new standard in Vista but again unless you are a really avid gamer then I doubt it is worth the price. Maybe a GTS? Lower spec 8xxx cards are out soon and so is Nvida's DX10 solution.

You could do worse than the MB in the review but there are plenty of other options out there. If you cut back on the CPU you could look at some of the luxury boards with the money saved. I'm not a hardware expert compared to some round here so I'll avoid making specific product recommendations. You just seemed to sinking a lot of money into a rig without saying why you need so much performance.

I'll ask again. What are you going to be using the PC for? What sort of monitor will you be driving (high res?) and what is your total budget?
January 21, 2007 7:31:13 PM

Quote:
Unless you know that you will be using software that can fully utilise the extra cores you will not see a performance increase. The price performance sweet spot still falls to the dual core. Personally I just could not justify the extra cost at present. I've not got anything negative to say other than it uses more juice and puts out more heat and costs more.

The 8800GTX is the top of the range card at the minute. But it is the first of a new bread and as such there will be improvements. Hopefully one will be power usage. Yes the card is DX10 and that is the new standard in Vista but again unless you are a really avid gamer then I doubt it is worth the price. Maybe a GTS? Lower spec 8xxx cards are out soon and so is Nvida's DX10 solution.

You could do worse than the MB in the review but there are plenty of other options out there. If you cut back on the CPU you could look at some of the luxury boards with the money saved. I'm not a hardware expert compared to some round here so I'll avoid making specific product recommendations. You just seemed to sinking a lot of money into a rig without saying why you need so much performance.

I'll ask again. What are you going to be using the PC for? What sort of monitor will you be driving (high res?) and what is your total budget?


Generally I'll be using it for schoolwork and gaming. I plan to run it for quite a while, so it'd be nice to have the power that software requirements invariably catch up to. I'd probably be doing video and 3D modeling from time to time as well.

As for the monitor, right now I have a 19 inch trinitron, and will be keeping that for now. I might upgrade to an HD monitor down the road. Total budget is $2500 (I'll be running XP pro for at least the first year, which I already have, so software costs will be minimal).

The main thing is that I'm not really the type to tinker with the hardware of my computer often. I don't have the technical expertise nor the inclination to be continually upgrading and configuring it. The computer I'm upgrading from is still running a five year old P4. I'd like to set up a stable workhorse computer that I know will last and won't be overmatched by most software four or five years down the road.
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