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Help building new rig (~$2500CND)

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February 16, 2007 8:28:04 PM

My old first gen Pentium 4(Williamette) PC finally died on me, it's probably just the PSU but I'd like to take this as an omen for me to buy a new computer.

I've been out of the hardware scene for awhile and have been studying the parts for the past two weeks now. Here's what i've come up with so far, there are some blanks that I'm still not 100% on.


Budget:

~$2500CND


Specs:

*All Prices courtesy of Canada Computers*
CPU: E6600 ($379.99)
GPU: eVga 8800 GTX ($684.99 *price from directcanada.com*)
Optical: going to use old ones
Storage: Raptor 36GB + going to use old ones ($132.99)
Memory: OCZ DDR2 PC2-8500 2x1GB ($389.99)
Mobo: *read below* (~$150 - $300)
Case: Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX ($129.99)
PSU: Antec True Power 650W ($139.99)
HSF: Zalman CNPS9500 ($74.99)

Total: $1932.93 (w/o Mobo)
$2203.54 w/ tax


Background + Requirements:

I work as a photographer so performance in programs like Photoshop CS2, Lightroom, etc is critical. Along with that I do a lot of videoediting so Adobe's line of products need to run at their peak performance.

I have a curiosity in 3D Design. However, I haven't had the ability to play around with it since 3D Studio Max 3.
I'd really like to be able to get back into it and have a powerful enough workstation to do so. I don't nessasarly want a Workstation GPU for this, I still would rather be able to play games and daddle in 3D Design.

I'd also like to try my hand at overclocking, nothing extreme, I'd like to be able to have a system that will last me several years, I don't want to burn out any parts too early due to insane ocing.

Most of my gaming is done on console. However, I'd like to get back into playing on the PC, I deeply miss the RTS genre.

SLI is far from my mind.


Questions:
I'm confused by all of this SATA lingo. I have 2 WD Cavier 250GB, I'd like to add a 3rd raptor as a boot/scratch drive and add my two old optical drives. I see that PSU's generally say they have 4 SATA connections, am I screwed?

Another thing is RAM... I'm at a complete loss, I was using Rambus up until now and it was fairly simple. Now there are so many numbers associated it tends to go right over my head.

Motherboards are even worse, I can't decide between ICH7 and ICH8; 680i, 965 or 975.

Should I consider 4GB of ram instead of 2GB?

Last question, I have an old school Apple Cinema Display 22" from the G4 Era. Will this monitor have problems with ghosting while gaming?

More about : building rig 2500cnd

February 16, 2007 8:38:08 PM

The old hdd shouldn't be a problem other than as far as I know all the new Intel boards come with only one ATA connection, 2 drive connections,, which means you'll probably have to add a card unless you get a SATA optical drive. As for memory, once I choose a board I go to RAM mfg website and they'll tell you what memory is compatible with the board. From what I've read the 965 seems to be best for most users but given your specific needs this may or may not be true. Can't comment on the monitor
February 16, 2007 10:07:34 PM

Good choice of CPU - you'd be a sucker to go for the E6700 or X6800 - they just aren't worth the extra cost, especially if you plan to OC a little.

Don't bother with such expensive fast RAM. Get DDR2-800 (PC2-6400). It can provide a little performance benefit with the processor at stock, or allow you plenty of room for overclocking.

Some numbers:

FSB speed = 266MHz for Core2 (default)
CPU speed = FSB * multiplier (9 for E6600 - 266MHz * 9 = 2.4GHz)
RAM speed = FSB * 2 (DDR) * RAM:FSB ratio

Common ratios are (memory speed relative to 266MHz FSB in brackets): 1:1 (533MHz), 5:4 (667MHz), and 3:2 (800MHz).

From what I've read, running 5:4 actually decreases performance in some cases, while 3:2 can provide some performance benefit. So, without overclocking, the slowest RAM you can use is 533MHz, I wouldn't bother with 667 MHz, and you might like 800MHz.

However, for overclocking, you raise the FSB, which means your RAM will need to run faster too. Usually, with any kind of substantial overclock, ratios above 1:1 are not practical, so I won't bother with them. Anyway, say you want to be able to raise your FSB to 333MHz, causing your E6600 to run at 3GHz. This means your RAM will need to run at 667MHz. for an FSB of 400MHz (up to 3.6GHz for your E6600 - it might be too hot at this speed anyway, unless you employ more exotic cooling) your RAM needs to run at 800MHz.

This is one time when you might want to consider a motherboard that allows you to lower the multiplier on your Core2. As you probably know, the multiplier is locked on Core2, but only from going up. You can lower it on some motherboards, so if you wanted to run a 400MHz FSB, but couldn't get your system cool and stable enough at 3.6GHz, you could lower the multiplier to 8 for 3.2GHz, which should be easily manageable.

Check out this thread for PSU advice: http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=108088

The PSU you listed is in tier 3 - ok, but you can probably do better for the same price. If you can find a PSU with the capabilities you need in tier 2 or above for the same price, go for it.

I know NCIX has the 700W OCZ GameXStream on right now for comparable a price to your antec ($121.99 after a $25 rebate).
!