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Help/Suggestions on a future gaming machine

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February 11, 2007 7:58:18 AM

hi all

i planning on building a new gaming machine in a couple months or so.. would like suggestions and advice on what to look out for in terms of hardware.. i havent built a new machine in a while so im a little out of touch with all the latest stuff.. so please bare with me if i ask some newbie questions. :) 

the games i'' be playing will be in my monitors native res of 1680 x 1050...i'll be playing gothic3, nwn2, ET:QW, and new stuff like crysis, hellgate london etc etc. Obviously i want my machine to last a while so i want to have fairly high end stuff, but at the same time not go totally stupid that i empty my bank account. :) 

CPU: intel core 2 duo or core 2 quad? i was looking at the 2.6 Quad core.. any idea if its looking at a price cut anytime in the next few months? also does it run very hot compared to the core 2 duo?

GFX: this dept i'll definatly be getting whatever the fastest is at the time.. probably the gf 8800GTX... My only question is, is SLI worth it? .. i know nothing about sli.. do you need identical cards to run SLI? if you dont would it be an idea to get one 8800 then hold off for the second when the prices drop?

HDD: looking at getting a 74gb raptor for OS/games... and using my current 120GB WD SATA for media etc.. good idea?

RAM: 2GB.. no idea what MHZ to get? 800 at least? is it worth going higher?

PSU: how many watts? what brand?

Case: so far im liking the antec nine hundred

M/B: this is where i really have no idea. based on the above components can anyone offer suggestions? i dont need an insane # of USB ports.. i'll only use 1 LAN connection.. as long as it has decent onboard sound and is reliable im happy (would have to be sli based)

like i said before, i apologise for the newbie questions.. any help or advise would be great
thanks!

More about : suggestions future gaming machine

February 11, 2007 9:16:29 AM

Quote:
CPU: intel core 2 duo or core 2 quad?


Core 2 Duo for gaming, no games can use 4 cores yet, or probably for a while. E4300 and overclock for price, or E6600 for speed out of the box.

Quote:
GFX: this dept i'll definatly be getting whatever the fastest is at the time.. probably the gf 8800GTX... My only question is, is SLI worth it? .. i know nothing about sli.. do you need identical cards to run SLI? if you dont would it be an idea to get one 8800 then hold off for the second when the prices drop?


The 8900GTX should be out soon, I don't know your timeframe for building the machine. You do need identical cores to use SLI, so the question is are you willing to spend the money for 2 cards for the extra performance?

Quote:
HDD: looking at getting a 74gb raptor for OS/games... and using my current 120GB WD SATA for media etc.. good idea?


Yep, but IMO the Raptor is too expensive.

Quote:
RAM: 2GB.. no idea what MHZ to get? 800 at least? is it worth going higher?


PC6400 800MHz, or PC5400 667MHz should be fine, unless you plan on overclocking it. The current motherboards only have a maximum of 800MHz memory bus speeds unless you overclock them, the performance difference between PC5400 and PC6400 is not huge. Corsair and OCZ are reliable brands.

Quote:
PSU: how many watts? what brand?


I like the OCZ 600W GameXStream

Quote:
Case: so far im liking the antec nine hundred


Me too.

Quote:
M/B: this is where i really have no idea. based on the above components can anyone offer suggestions? i dont need an insane # of USB ports.. i'll only use 1 LAN connection.. as long as it has decent onboard sound and is reliable im happy (would have to be sli based)


Lots of choices there, and it's likely to change soon as well. Most of the Nvidia 680i boards are identical (literally), some unique ones should be on the market soon. Gigabyte has one coming out this week I believe. I haven't made up my mind on one for my upcoming build yet, but I like the looks of the Gigabyte one, there was a link here somewhere.
February 11, 2007 9:46:58 AM

Thanks for the speedy reply cutthroat!

Quote:
Core 2 Duo for gaming, no games can use 4 cores yet, or probably for a while. E4300 and overclock for price, or E6600 for speed out of the box.


Only a E6600? i was thinking a 2.93 or 2.6Ghz at least?

Quote:
The 8900GTX should be out soon, I don't know your timeframe for building the machine. You do need identical cores to use SLI, so the question is are you willing to spend the money for 2 cards for the extra performance?


I had no idea about this so thanks for the heads up! i'll probably hold out for it then.. does SLI make a huge difference? i dont know if its worth shelling out extra for a 2nd card.. IE does 2nd card = double performance?


Quote:
Yep, but IMO the Raptor is too expensive.

Yeah im still undecided on this... does the faster rpm translate into faster performance in games? Also, does a 2nd HDD that is slower (ie 7200rpm) slow down the primary HDD (10,000rpm)?


Quote:
I like the OCZ 600W GameXStream


Is that enough for an SLI setup?


Quote:
Lots of choices there, and it's likely to change soon as well. Most of the Nvidia 680i boards are identical (literally), some unique ones should be on the market soon. Gigabyte has one coming out this week I believe. I haven't made up my mind on one for my upcoming build yet, but I like the looks of the Gigabyte one, there was a link here somewhere.


Thanks again for the heads up.. i will keep my eyes peeled
Related resources
February 11, 2007 10:20:14 AM

Quote:

Core 2 Duo for gaming, no games can use 4 cores yet, or probably for a while. E4300 and overclock for price, or E6600 for speed out of the box.


Only a E6600? i was thinking a 2.93 or 2.6Ghz at least?


Be careful, technology is progressing faster than some people read. Supreme commander available towards the end of this month(february) can use 4 cores natively. There is a demo available that you can download. Below is a quote from one site about it

Quote:
Dual Core and Performance
Supreme Commander Demo will utilize your dual and quad core processor natively and automatically. Running a dual or quad core processor is one of the best ways to improve performance in Supreme Commander Demo.


The E6600 is very easy to overclock, have mine running at 3.11 without doing anything complicated, but if I had had the money I would have gone for a quad core chip.
February 11, 2007 10:31:10 AM

The E6600 is very popular because it is fast, cheap, and overclockable. All of the Core 2 Duo's overclock very well, and the cheaper they are the more they overclock. Many people can turn the fsb to 333MHz with even the E4300 get almost as fast as the X6800. The E4300 - E6400 have a 2MB L2 cache, while the E6600 and better have a 4MB L2 cache. You need to decide how much you want to spend for out of the box performance vs potential overclock vs price.

SLI does make a huge difference if it works. Not all games support it, and there are plenty of driver troubles for some people etc. Here's a review.

There is a discussion about the Raptor here. At least in Canada, the Raptor is ridiculously expensive, 3 150GB dives would cost me $1000 vs 3 250GB seagate barracudas for $400. that's not worth a second here and there.

It's a good idea to keep your OS, apps and games on a separate drive than your critical data, you can always reinstall apps if you mess up your OS and neeed to format/reinstall. They will run independantly and will only slow each other down when you are transferring files between them.

if you decide to go with the X6800, 2 8900GTX, 2 HDD, and plan on overclocking you might want to get the 700W version. Otherwise 600W should be fine, many people run SLI setup's on less.
February 11, 2007 10:39:35 AM

Quote:
The E6600 is very easy to overclock, have mine running at 3.11 without doing anything complicated, but if I had had the money I would have gone for a quad core chip.


That's the point, do you want to spend 3 times the money on a CPU that will not help your performance yet. Maybe by the time you really want one the prices will have dropped enough that you'll be farther ahead by upgrading.

eg. now E6600 - $350 or QX6700 - $1250, in 6 months QX6700 = $600 and you save $300. :wink:

Guess it depends how much money you have now. If I had the cash of course I would buy top of the line everything, but my system would cost $10000. 8O
February 11, 2007 11:18:03 AM

Quad cores are for the future. I dont believe we will se apps and games that will support Quads for a very very long time since its very hard to implement. anyways the E6600 was my choice and is the cpu i would recommend.

dont get 8800 sli so many games just sucks with it and you really dont need another 8800 before a year or so, maybe more. i run all my games at the highest setting without any problems whatsoever so investing in SLI i just stupid and a waste of money.

Raptors is also a no go. get 2 decent storage disk with 16 mb cache and set them to raid0 and you have better performance than 1 raptor and almost the same as 2 raptors in raid.
February 11, 2007 11:27:07 AM

QX6700 benchmarks

As you can see, unless you do a lot of video encoding or graphics rendering, the quad core is a waste of money. Wait until there is some games that can utilize those cores and the prices come down.

Good point about the SLI habber, why buy two cards when one will do just fine. 3Dmark scores are not worth the price of a second card. By the time you really need SLI there will probably be a next generation card that will destroy the 8800GTX in SLI. eg. 1x8800GTX beats 2x7900GTX SLI.
February 11, 2007 8:56:30 PM

thanks for the input guys! sorry to be a pain but i have more questions:

- if i went down the overclocking and single grahics card path.. what ram and mobo would you recommend? obviously the i'd want a mobo that can be handle a quadcore chip if i decide to upgrade in the future and also let me overclock my cpu

- overlocking the E6600.. is it easy to do? im not very experienced in overclocking... will the stock cpu cooler be sufficent? what kind of stable clock speeds can the E6600 achieve? what kind of ram would i need?

- im pretty much sold on the antec nine hundred case... it has fans galore so i think case cooling shouldnt be a problem

- What brand PSU are reliable? i have easy access to cooler master and thermaltake PSUs.. are they any good? or should i be looking elseware?

- one more thing... is there a significant performance gain in games running a raid 0 configuration with 2 x 7200rpm 16mb drives?

- Any idea when the geforce 8900 is coming out? :) 
February 11, 2007 9:49:44 PM

Quote:
- if i went down the overclocking and single grahics card path.. what ram and mobo would you recommend? obviously the i'd want a mobo that can be handle a quadcore chip if i decide to upgrade in the future and also let me overclock my cpu


I recommend any Nvidia 680i based motherboard, they are mostly identical, you can wait until some unique ones are released which should be soon if you wish. Hard to reccomend one in particular, haven't figured out one myself for my upcoming build, but I like the look of the upcoming Gigabyte 680i mainboard.

Quote:
- overlocking the E6600.. is it easy to do? im not very experienced in overclocking... will the stock cpu cooler be sufficent? what kind of stable clock speeds can the E6600 achieve? what kind of ram would i need?


Yes, for the most part you can just change the fsb (probably right up to 333MHz) without any problems, there is plenty of info about overclocking them in the overclocking forums. The stock hsf that comes with the C2D is apparantly difficult to install (no personal experience here yet) the folks around here seem to like the aftermarket solutions, I don't have a preference here yet either.

Quote:
- im pretty much sold on the antec nine hundred case... it has fans galore so i think case cooling shouldnt be a problem


I already bought the Antec P180B, now I'm dissapointed I didn't get the nine hundred.

Quote:
- What brand PSU are reliable? i have easy access to cooler master and thermaltake PSUs.. are they any good? or should i be looking elseware?


Lots of folks around here like the OCZ GameXStream 600W and 700W. Thermaltake PSU's have a good name, I know nothing about Cooler Master PSU's.

Quote:
- one more thing... is there a significant performance gain in games running a raid 0 configuration with 2 x 7200rpm 16mb drives?


Significant, no. But you will notice a difference in load times, and some games which load lots of textures while you are playing (Flight Simulator X). I keep my page file on my RAID 0 and it seems like paging is faster as well.

Quote:
- Any idea when the geforce 8900 is coming out? :) 


I would very much like to know this myself.
February 11, 2007 9:56:26 PM

Quote:
I recommend any Nvidia 680i based motherboard, they are mostly identical, you can wait until some unique ones are released which should be soon if you wish. Hard to reccomend one in particular, haven't figured out one myself for my upcoming build, but I like the look of the upcoming Gigabyte 680i mainboard.


isnt the 680i chipset an SLI board?
February 11, 2007 10:25:04 PM

Yes, it's an SLI board, doesn't mean you need to use it though, it is there in a year though if you decided a second card in SLI is just what you need for an upgrade.

Also the 680i chipset supports 1333MHz fsb, so it's more futureproof.
February 12, 2007 6:15:44 AM

well, since i think i will be going sing GPU for the moment.. is there any boards other than 680i chipset you'd recommend.. the reason i ask is that the 680i boards that are currently on the market and available here in australia are insanly expensive
February 12, 2007 7:01:12 AM

Yeah, that's a problem in Canada too. Just get the cheapest, cause they are all the same anyway. So far most of the 680i motherboards are identical, just the Nvidia reference board with different stickers. The Asus Striker Extreme is unique, but no faster than the rest, and outrageously expensive. The 680i motherboards supports 1333MHz front side bus speeds and quad core support for future upgrade possibilities.

If you don't care much about futureproofing, you could go with something liek Gigabyte GA-965G-DS3 for $100 less.
February 12, 2007 7:51:33 AM

Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3P v2.0

If you can find a Version 3.3 go for that, this is one of the boards I'm considering.
If you need more Aussie sites just ask.
February 12, 2007 8:53:39 AM

you could go for the littlebrother 650i

Asus P5N-e sli should be alot cheaper and perform the same.

in terms of overclocking you should be able to reach around 3.2-3.6
February 12, 2007 11:52:44 AM

any non sli boards that do more than 800mhz?
February 12, 2007 2:53:26 PM

why do you want non sli boards? the sli boards are usually not more expensive...
February 12, 2007 6:30:28 PM

Here is an excellent board, not sure if it's cheap enough, but it's definitely a solid board

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Gigabyte also makes excellent single PCIe boards with great/easy overclocking. The P965 S3 and DS3 are the ones I'd choose from.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

If you were going to plan on going with SLI, I heard that there is an SLI 2.0 in the works, so I wouldn't go with that for a while, atleast until thats out.
February 12, 2007 9:23:51 PM

the gigabyte GA965PDS4 is easily available to me

that any good? i noticed you said DS3... this is DS4
February 12, 2007 9:33:08 PM

DS4 is kinda the same no big difference.
February 15, 2007 5:01:58 AM

ive kind of narrowed things down..

my next question is about the cpu.. will a 2.4 overclocked to over 3ghz be fast enough for the latest video cards ( i plan to wait for the r600 or gf8900, whichever is fastest).. i read somewhere that cpus that are not fast enough can bottleneck the latest graphics cards performance

other question concerns RAM - does anyone have opinions on GEIL ram?
February 15, 2007 6:28:38 AM

The C2d should not be a bottle neck in any system, I would not worry. Which one are you trying to O/C? ok e6600, should be able to get 3.5 with stock air and good case flow.

Never heard of Geil - Google is your friend
February 15, 2007 7:46:44 AM

dont go for more than 3.2 with stock cooling or the cpu will run to hot. Stock cooling is ok for meduim overclock but it doesnt do very well with more heat than its designed for. if you go higher than 3.2 with the stock cooler you will se temps around 70.

its still seems as if there is a bottleneck on the E6600, but by overclocking it to around 2.9 or higher you remove that bottleneck. This bottleneck is ofcourse only with the 8800GTX.
February 15, 2007 7:50:30 AM

if your looking for the antec 900, i think compusa had a good sale on the case. something like 89 in store and i thought there was a 15 MIR making it even a better price. just an fyi
February 15, 2007 9:48:39 AM

Quote:
CPU: intel core 2 duo or core 2 quad? i was looking at the 2.6 Quad core.. any idea if its looking at a price cut anytime in the next few months? also does it run very hot compared to the core 2 duo?
GFX: this dept i'll definatly be getting whatever the fastest is at the time.. probably the gf 8800GTX... My only question is, is SLI worth it? .. i know nothing about sli.. do you need identical cards to run SLI? if you dont would it be an idea to get one 8800 then hold off for the second when the prices drop?
HDD: looking at getting a 74gb raptor for OS/games... and using my current 120GB WD SATA for media etc.. good idea?
RAM: 2GB.. no idea what MHZ to get? 800 at least? is it worth going higher?
PSU: how many watts? what brand?
Case: so far im liking the antec nine hundred
M/B: this is where i really have no idea. based on the above components can anyone offer suggestions? i dont need an insane # of USB ports.. i'll only use 1 LAN connection.. as long as it has decent onboard sound and is reliable im happy (would have to be sli based)


If i were you, i would complicate much since it seems you are willing to spend some money on a good gaming machine.
My only doubt here is that if i would advise you or not to install SLI... when it works its terrific, but not all games accept it well... then the drivers issues, etc. Another thing is that AFAIU you're not in the extreme benchmark scene... your a gamer! :-)

So, maybe you can give it a try using a single graphic card and feel its performance. NVidia 8800GTX is a great card, there will be soon a 8900GTX (i don't know the launch month exactly...), which by itself offers great performace at high resolutions.

So, here's my best shot:
Intel E6600 Dual Core
4GB RAM (dual channel kit 2x2GB) DDR2-800 CL4.0 (choose a brand... OCZ, Patriot, Corsair, Geil, AData, Kingston, you name it).
Asus Striker Extreme or Asus P5N32-E SLI motherboard
1x WD Raptor 74GB (or 150GB) 10K-rpm (OS and Swap)
1x 120GB 7200 current sata HD
1x NVidia 8800GTX (or 8900GTX if it's on the market)
PSU BE QUIET! 600W DARK POWER P6 PRO

Just my 2 cents
February 15, 2007 11:04:27 AM

thanks for the input!

so far this is what im looking at.. but it may change as i dont plan to actually buy this stuff till end of next month when the new graphics cards from nvidia/ati are available (supposedly)

Case: Altec Nine Hundred
PSU: Thermaltake TP 600
CPU: Intel c2d E6600
Mobo: ??? not sure yet.. maybe the gigabyte DS3.. any opinions on this board?
RAM: 2GB DDR2 800Mhz (2gb enough?)
GFX: 8900GTX or ati R600
HDD: 1 x 75gb raptor (OS/games), 1 x 250gb sata II (data/media)

as always, opinions appreciated!
February 15, 2007 12:05:53 PM

Quote:
thanks for the input!

so far this is what im looking at.. but it may change as i dont plan to actually buy this stuff till end of next month when the new graphics cards from nvidia/ati are available (supposedly)

Case: Altec Nine Hundred
PSU: Thermaltake TP 600
CPU: Intel c2d E6600
Mobo: ??? not sure yet.. maybe the gigabyte DS3.. any opinions on this board?
RAM: 2GB DDR2 800Mhz (2gb enough?)
GFX: 8900GTX or ati R600
HDD: 1 x 75gb raptor (OS/games), 1 x 250gb sata II (data/media)

as always, opinions appreciated!


Motherboard i personally prefer the Asus models i told you. Go to the websites and compare features. See the photos and compare.
RAM: 2GB CL4 and if you can, 2x2GB is of course much better.

Are you sure 75GB is enough for you to install the OS plus all the games you referred? Can you check it?
February 22, 2007 9:20:15 AM

OK i have narrowed my search down

for my mainboard i am tossing up between gigabyte ds4 or asus P5N32-E SLI Plus... which one is easier to overclock??

for RAM - i am look at corsair:
Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 2GB (2x XMS2 1GB) Twin2X PC-6400 DDR2 RAM, 2x240-pin DIMMs, Non ECC, Unbuffered, 4-4-4-12, 64Mx8 DRAMs


CPU Cooler: Thermalright SI-128

opinions please!
February 22, 2007 10:51:06 AM

Quote:
OK i have narrowed my search down

for my mainboard i am tossing up between gigabyte ds4 or asus P5N32-E SLI Plus... which one is easier to overclock??


Asus.

Quote:
for RAM - i am look at corsair:
Corsair TWIN2X2048-6400C4 2GB (2x XMS2 1GB) Twin2X PC-6400 DDR2 RAM, 2x240-pin DIMMs, Non ECC, Unbuffered, 4-4-4-12, 64Mx8 DRAMs
CPU Cooler: Thermalright SI-128
opinions please!


OK.
February 22, 2007 10:55:10 AM

i am planning to hold off my new build till the ati r600 comes out... the asus mainboard being a nvidia chipset, will i still be able to run an ATI card in it?

thanks
February 22, 2007 11:15:17 AM

Yes it will but the r600 will be a couple of months from now they just announced that it was delayed again.

but you cant run SLI with radeon cards you need a Crossfire board to run 2 Radeon.
February 22, 2007 11:21:41 AM

i doubt i will be every using dual video card setup so that shouldnt be a problem
February 22, 2007 1:54:02 PM

I would recommend the DS4 if you're not going to use multiple GPU's. It is just as easy as any of the ASUS boards and is very stable. So I recommend going with the Gigabyte.
!