This is my first build. My goal was to have Raid 1+0 4 disk array with a quiet, stable setup for $2000 including a 22" monitor. I decided not to do RAID 5 given the software overhead. I'm not super worried about overclocking, but plan to shoot for 3GHz if possible, which seems very feasible with the E6400 Conroe processor from what I have gathered.
I selected the Intel board since it seemed to be one of the more reliable boards of its kind with multiple standard PCI slots (not that I'm using them yet in this build). The downside is that it appears to be a fairly picky board in that the memory needs to be 1.8v, which is why the memory costs a little more than otherwise and might not be that overclockable. I also know this board has some weird issues with setting up the BIOS and RAID, but it seems like every board I've looked at is either too unreliable or has its own weird quirks.
I cheezed out a little on the processor since I plan to upgrade to a quad core once they become affordable. Also I avoided the 8800 cards since I think they will also become more affordable later on and this Saphire cards seems sufficient for modest gaming purposes until DX10 games arrive.
LIAN LI PC-65B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $119.99
OCZ GameXStream OCZ600GXSSLI ATX12V 600W Power Supply - $129.99
Arctic Silver CMQ-22G The high-density, ceramic-based thermal compound - $9.99
ZALMAN CNPS9500 LED 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan with Heatsink - $53.90
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz LGA 775 Processor Model - $222.00
SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write, LightScribe Technology Black IDE Model SH-S182M/BEBN - 2 X $31.99 = $63.98
1. If the Intel board is too problematic for doing reliable 1+0 RAID, what might be a better choice? The 'ABIT AW9D-MAX LGA 775 Intel 975X' was the other board I seriously considered. I'm pretty set on the 975X chipset since it seems much more reliable than the P965 and 680i at this point.
2. I really just want a single RAID 1+0 disk array, which I know at the very least for this Intel board requires flashing the latest BIOS using a floppy so that RAID can be set up prior to installing Windows. From what I can glean, it seems like this board has a Marvell RAID controller that seems problematic. Is these kind RAID of issues common for other boards in its class?
3. I'm thinking of maybe adding another pair of drives taking up the total to 6, which gives 3 being stripped across to increase performance and space. However, this case only has room for 5 internal 3.5 drives in its main bay. I looked for a case with 6 internal 3.5 drives, but they were either full towers, which I don't want, or too expensive or too cheap. Is it possible to put the sixth in an unused external 3.5 bay?
4. I'm not sure if the PSU is overkill or not. I know that it can probably support another 1950GT card if I really wanted to another one later on. It supports 18A on 4 12V rails, which seems to be requirement if use more than one graphics card. Is this PSU appropriate?
I'm not super worried about overclocking, but plan to shoot for 3GHz if possible, which seems very feasible with the E6400 Conroe processor from what I have gathered.
I selected the Intel board since it seemed to be one of the more reliable boards of its kind with multiple standard PCI slots (not that I'm using them yet in this build). The downside is that it appears to be a fairly picky board in that the memory needs to be 1.8v, which is why the memory costs a little more than otherwise and might not be that overclockable.
I may be new at this, but the bolded statements seem contradictory. If you want to overclock (shoot for 3GHz), you may want to get the E4300 (since you plan on upgrading soon anyway), with good DDR2 667 or 800 RAM.
I don't plan to upgrade the processor that soon.... More like 9 months to 1 yr. Also, I would like to OC the processor to 3 GHz, but won't worry if it doesn't reach that point. Reliability is a greater concern to me than OC'ing. Since the Intel board can be fairly picky, I wanted to make sure I choose memory that is well known to work with it rather than going for some other brand that while maybe more overclockable won't work on 1.8v.