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First Homebuilt - Please review

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February 20, 2007 3:09:32 PM

Background

I would like to build a new gaming machine, specifically for EVE Online - any other games are fine, but EVE is my main reason for building the machine in the first place.

This is my FIRST attempt at building a machine from the ground up. Below are the parts I assembled. Bear in mind I haven't shopped out the best prices yet as I'm wanting to make sure I pick compatible, adequate parts first.

For those that are more into this than I am, I'd appreciate any thoughts or feedback, especially if I've miscalculated something critical that would result in the machine not working at all. Right now (without rebates and shipping added in), I'm at about $1,300. I'd like to knock that down a bit more, but I realize you have to pay for a decent gaming rig.

I'd like to get a flat screen monitor and speakers, but if I can't shake the $1,300 area, I'll probably just use an old CRT monitor and speakers I have from my other Dell.

CPU

Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz 2M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail

Motherboard

GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard

Graphics Card

EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB 320-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Video Card

Power Supply

Corsair HX Series CMPSU-620HX 620W Power Supply

Memory

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL4D-2GBPK - Retail

or...

OCZ OCZ2A8002GK 2GB Kit DDR2 PC2-6400 ATI CrossFire Dual Channel Memory Retail

Hard Drive

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Optical Drive

LG 18X DVD±R Super-Multi DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write Black IDE Model GSA-H42N-BK - OEM

Sound Card

Using on-board audio - will upgrade later if I become more of an audiophile.

Case

Sunbeam Transformer IC-TR-B Blue Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

$1334.32

More about : homebuilt review

February 20, 2007 3:34:57 PM

Nice build! :D 
I would change a few things though.
That RAM is quite expensive. I would go with this to save money. link
Is EVE the only game that you are going to be playing?
If not then I would suggest looking at the 8800 or waiting for the 8600. We are on the eve of dx10 (pun intended).
February 20, 2007 3:44:21 PM

Quote:
Nice build! :D 
I would change a few things though.
That RAM is quite expensive. I would go with this to save money. link
Is EVE the only game that you are going to be playing?
If not then I would suggest looking at the 8800 or waiting for the 8600. We are on the eve of dx10 (pun intended).


Thanks for the link, that will help. :D 

EVE is my main reason for even attempting this, but I suspect I'll get pulled into wanting to play a bunch of other games.

The DX10 thing has me worried a bit...I'd hate to buy a card NOW and then have to replace it shortly thereafter...here's a noob question: If I buy a DX9 card, will I effectively be shut out of DX10 games?

It would suck to get the machine built, play EVE for a month or so, then have it not work because of the DX10 update. I expect high turn-over regarding hardware, and I don't have a problem buying a better card at some point - that's always kind of an ongoing thing I realize.
Related resources
February 20, 2007 3:57:56 PM

DX10 games will continue to also support dx9 for a while. So you are not being forced to upgrade yet. I will go out on a limb and say that a dx10 card will not be needed until '08 (this is me speculating). If you want all the visual goodies though, you will need a dx10 card.
February 20, 2007 4:01:19 PM

Quote:
DX10 games will continue to also support dx9 for a while. So you are not being forced to upgrade yet. I will go out on a limb and say that a dx10 card will not be needed until '08 (this is me speculating). If you want all the visual goodies though, you will need a dx10 card.


I'll wait and upgrade when that time comes. Did you see anything (besides the expensive RAM) else that could be changed?
February 20, 2007 4:05:57 PM

Well if your wanting to shake some off the price, switch out the mobo unless thats what you have to have. Gigabyte has some very nice boards.

Mobo
Budget mobo
I have this board.


Ram
ram1
ram2
Im using the second set of ram, and i love it.

I would go with the recommendations with the GPU.
You could get a 8800 gts 320 for about 50$ more, Then what you picked.

Also the onboard sound isnt that bad on alot of the higher end boards. I dont know what kind of fanatic you are but i wouldnt waste my money on a seperate card. But to each his own.

I built my computer on zipzomfly and newegg, same exact parts. getting everything from zipzoom i saved 80 $, buy the cheapest from each i saved 120$.. so think about it also zipzoom has free stanard shipping from fedex... Sry UPS around here = dumbass's
February 20, 2007 4:10:58 PM

I think you could find much better ram for much cheaper... something like this, but its out of stock right now.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


Also this is a better PSU

OCZ 700W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...


As far as video card I would either get an x1950xt (which will outperform the 7950GT and is cheaper) or upgrade to an 8800GTS for 50 bucks, it will kill the 7950GT.

x1950xt- $200
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

8800GTS 320MB- $300 (factory Overclocked)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

8800GTS 320MB- $280 (oc it yourself)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
February 20, 2007 4:12:00 PM

What you've got looks like a solid gaming rig. But you've matched a top notch enthusiast SLi board with the cheapest Core 2 they make. You could save bucks by using the Gigabyte DS3 or Asus P5B-E. The 680i does give you the option of upgrading to SLi in the future, though.

I concur with the 8800 suggestion. You can get the 8800GTS 320mb for only a little more than your 7950GT. Or you can save money by buying something cheaper but still good, like the x1950Pro, and upgrade when the DX10 cards from both ATI and Nvidia are out in force. The performance of the 7950, in my opinion, doesn't justify its cost.

To answer your question, you probably won't be shut out of games that use DX10. But, you'll have to run them in DX9 mode, so they won't look as pretty.

To sum up, I think you should switch the 680i to a DS3 and get that LCD flat panel. I absolutely LOVE my LCD, and going back to CRTs is just painful. Also, the 8800GTS 320mb would be a worthy improvement from the 7950. But if that's too steep with the flat panel, then the x1950Pro will be a solid graphics card that'll do you for a while until you can upgrade to a DX10 card, maybe in the summer.

EDIT: Wow, in the time it took me to type that, other people already wrote everything I did. Damn, I need to learn to type faster.
February 20, 2007 4:14:52 PM

Also You could make this much cheaper and get the same performance by getting a cheaper mobo and case... could save you $200. 680i Mobos are supposed to be good and all if you're overclocking, but you won't notice any real gaming performance on that vs a $115 gigabyte board.
February 20, 2007 4:24:49 PM

Quote:
...
I would go with the recommendations with the GPU.
You could get a 8800 gts 320 for about 50$ more, Then what you picked.


The 8800GTS only has 320mb...whereas the 7950GT has 512mb, why is the 8800GTS faster exactly?


Quote:

Also the onboard sound isnt that bad on alot of the higher end boards. I dont know what kind of fanatic you are but i wouldnt waste my money on a seperate card. But to each his own.


I was going to mention something about this. I'll probably scrap the additional sound card for now...maybe buy something nice if I have money to blow later.

Quote:

I built my computer on zipzomfly and newegg, same exact parts. getting everything from zipzoom i saved 80 $, buy the cheapest from each i saved 120$.. so think about it also zipzoom has free stanard shipping from fedex... Sry UPS around here = dumbass's


I'll keep that in mind, thanks for the great info.
February 20, 2007 4:26:13 PM

Quote:
Also You could make this much cheaper and get the same performance by getting a cheaper mobo and case... could save you $200. 680i Mobos are supposed to be good and all if you're overclocking, but you won't notice any real gaming performance on that vs a $115 gigabyte board.


Yeah, I'm kind of on the fence about this. I really hang onto my boxes for a long time, so after having it for a couple of years I could see myself deciding to over clock the RAM or CPU to try and hang onto the curve.

Not getting a nice flat panel display sucks though, so I might just jump over to a Gigabyte mobo for cheaper.
February 20, 2007 4:32:16 PM

Sorry to repeat, but I think its important that you get this power supply instead of the Thermaltake. Its the same price and is supposed to be a really nice PSU.

OCZ 700W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Also this ram is supposed to be awesome if you can wait for it to get back in stock.

G.skill 4-4-3-5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

also here is another option

Super Talent 4-4-3-8
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
February 20, 2007 4:36:15 PM

Quote:
Sorry to repeat, but I think its important that you get this power supply instead of the Thermaltake. Its the same price and is supposed to be a really nice PSU.

OCZ 700W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Also this ram is supposed to be awesome if you can wait for it to get back in stock.

...


Why is this PSU better? I did read that the one I currently have on my list is about an inch longer (larger?) and can be trouble to mount in one's case.
February 20, 2007 4:37:13 PM

Don't worry about the ram size, it doesnt play as much of a importance. The more important thing is the GPU.

One of a million reviews =)
February 20, 2007 5:08:02 PM

Well, you might find some differentiation even within Levels.

I'm sure if you tried hard you could break down each tier further.
Example - 98% is an "A" as well as "93%" but one is clearly better :>

You may also want to read some of the indepth reviews.
(I dont count New Egg Reviews here :>>
)
One of those "Tier-1" brands was noted as "Sounding like a Leaf-Blower" when running. Not something I would want in my PC, despite being an outstanding PSU.

http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=103
February 20, 2007 6:00:47 PM

Quote:
...
I would go with the recommendations with the GPU.
You could get a 8800 gts 320 for about 50$ more, Then what you picked.


The 8800GTS only has 320mb...whereas the 7950GT has 512mb, why is the 8800GTS faster exactly?


Quote:

Also the onboard sound isnt that bad on alot of the higher end boards. I dont know what kind of fanatic you are but i wouldnt waste my money on a seperate card. But to each his own.


I was going to mention something about this. I'll probably scrap the additional sound card for now...maybe buy something nice if I have money to blow later.

Quote:

I built my computer on zipzomfly and newegg, same exact parts. getting everything from zipzoom i saved 80 $, buy the cheapest from each i saved 120$.. so think about it also zipzoom has free stanard shipping from fedex... Sry UPS around here = dumbass's


I'll keep that in mind, thanks for the great info.

Even though the 8800GTS 320mb has less ram the number of pipelines along with the clock speed of the GPU make up the difference and allow the 8800GTS320 to out perform the 7900 series GPUs.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
If you look the ram on the 8800GTS is faster, The GPU FSB is faster, and the memory interface is 320bit instead of 256bit which makes for faster access to the RAM. Then the 7950KO only has 24 pipelines (stream processors) while the 8800GTS320mb is running 96. Also with the 8800GTS you are future proofing yourself by picking up a DX10 compatible card.

Id also suggest going with this mobo. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Lots of nice features and great overclocker if you decide down the road not to mention you save $100. The only downside is its not SLI compatible but really unless you are running very high resolutions SLI is overpriced for minimal gain.

I also suggest buying from Newegg.com You just cant find better prices and they have A+ Customer Service. Ive been using them for 4 years now and never even had 1 problem.
February 20, 2007 6:15:15 PM

Quote:
...

Id also suggest going with this mobo. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Lots of nice features and great overclocker if you decide down the road not to mention you save $100. The only downside is its not SLI compatible but really unless you are running very high resolutions SLI is overpriced for minimal gain.

I also suggest buying from Newegg.com You just cant find better prices and they have A+ Customer Service. Ive been using them for 4 years now and never even had 1 problem.


I think I've eliminated my need for a SLI enabled mobo - I really don't see myself taking full advantage of it to warrant the additional cost.

In regard to the Gigabyte mobo:
Quote:

Only DDR2-800 memory supporting JEDEC approved 1.8V operation with timings of 5-5-5 or 6-6-6 is supported on Intel Desktop Boards based on Intel 965 Express Chipsets.

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

This going to force me into very specific RAM vendors? I already went through this with RDRAM on an old box :( .
February 20, 2007 6:19:16 PM

All of the motherboards with the Intel chipset come with this "warning".
There is not, howerver, an issue with this MB or most others with the various rams requiring faster RAM.


That being said, if you can find RAM at the same price that runs at a lower voltage, this will help cut heat from inside of your system which is always a good thing.
February 20, 2007 6:26:29 PM

Quote:
In regard to the Gigabyte mobo:

Only DDR2-800 memory supporting JEDEC approved 1.8V operation with timings of 5-5-5 or 6-6-6 is supported on Intel Desktop Boards based on Intel 965 Express Chipsets.

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

This going to force me into very specific RAM vendors? I already went through this with RDRAM on an old box :( .

Well, any DDR2 800 will work. What it means is, the board's default ram voltage is 1.8v. Thing is, most DDR2 800s are designed to be run at higher voltages around 2.1v. So when you first install your RAM, the board will set it to 1.8v and timings of 5-5-5. Then you'll need to go into the BIOS and change the voltage to whatever the RAM is rated for, and tighten the timings to specifications for maximum performance.

However, some DDR2 800 sticks won't even boot at 1.8v, so you can't get into the BIOS to increase the voltage. If this is the case, you'll need to find another stick of DDR2- anything- to put in there just so you can boot to the BIOS and up the voltage. Borrow a friend's, or buy a cheap 256mb stick and try to return it when you're done. Of course, this whole situation could be avoided if you make sure the RAM you buy will boot at 1.8v. I know my Mushkin HP DDR2 800 did.

edited cuz i cant type
February 20, 2007 6:36:54 PM

Quote:
...

Id also suggest going with this mobo. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...
Lots of nice features and great overclocker if you decide down the road not to mention you save $100. The only downside is its not SLI compatible but really unless you are running very high resolutions SLI is overpriced for minimal gain.

I also suggest buying from Newegg.com You just cant find better prices and they have A+ Customer Service. Ive been using them for 4 years now and never even had 1 problem.


I think I've eliminated my need for a SLI enabled mobo - I really don't see myself taking full advantage of it to warrant the additional cost.

In regard to the Gigabyte mobo:
Quote:

Only DDR2-800 memory supporting JEDEC approved 1.8V operation with timings of 5-5-5 or 6-6-6 is supported on Intel Desktop Boards based on Intel 965 Express Chipsets.

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

This going to force me into very specific RAM vendors? I already went through this with RDRAM on an old box :( .

Nope...Im running the gigabyte board with that same ram you chose...worked right out of the box.
February 20, 2007 6:36:54 PM

Quote:


Well, any DDR2 800 will work. What it means is, the board's default ram voltage is 1.8v. Thing is, most DDR2 800s are designed to be run at higher voltages around 2.1v. So when you first install your RAM, the board will set it to 1.8v and timings of 5-5-5. Then you'll need to go into the BIOS and change the voltage to whatever the RAM is rated for, and tighten the timings to specifications for maximum performance.

However, some DDR2 800 sticks won't even boot at 1.8v, so you can't get into the BIOS to increase the voltage. If this is the case, you'll need to find another stick of DDR2- anything- to put in there just so you can boot to the BIOS and up the voltage. Borrow a friend's, or buy a cheap 256mb stick and try to return it when you're done. Of course, this whole situation could be avoided if you make sure the RAM you buy will boot at 1.8v. I know my Mushkin HP DDR2 800 did.

edited cuz i cant type


Thanks for explaining that.

So far I've had some great advice here guys, I've updated my original list at the beginning of this thread...going to try and find a cheaper case, I'm hung up on pretty blue lights so I'll need to work past that if I want to get more power under the hood.
February 20, 2007 7:07:52 PM

I bumped up the processor to the 2.13 Intel Core Duo.
I switched out the SLI mobo for the Gigabyte mobo.
I bumped up the GPU to the 8800GTS
I switched out the RAM for a cheaper brand
I switched out the case for a cheaper (and bluer!) model
I eliminated the additional sound card, using onboard audio.

Total right now is $1,215.93.

I'll start searching these forums, and the main site's guides for info on "choosing an LCD monitor" before posting additional questions.
February 20, 2007 7:19:55 PM

I picked up this monitor for my GF. She is a gamer and even though this is an off brand it absolutely rocks. Very bright crystal clear display. No dead pixels and 2ms refresh rate = no ghosting in games. I was skeptic but reading the reviews on the newegg.com gave me the confidence to order this bad boy and Im not disappointed at all.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...
February 20, 2007 7:24:35 PM

Quote:
I picked up this monitor for my GF. She is a gamer and even though this is an off brand it absolutely rocks. Very bright crystal clear display. No dead pixels and 2ms refresh rate = no ghosting in games. I was skeptic but reading the reviews on the newegg.com gave me the confidence to order this bad boy and Im not disappointed at all.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


Great, I was looking at this exact model earlier actually. Thanks for the info. :D 
February 20, 2007 7:30:24 PM

I bought (2) of the HX191D models for my system and both work great.
Mine are 5ms and I see no ghosting so the 2ms version should be fine.

If I had to redo my purchase, I would make the same one.

The two things they sometimes get hit on are....

1) Bad built-in speakers - I use external speaks so I cant comment.

2) If you know the monitor, they will wobble a couple seconds because of how the base is designed. I have never seen them wobble, however, execpt when I push them.

(Note: My office is on the 2nd floor of my home next to the washer and dryer. When they run they cause a definite vibration in the house but still no monitor wobble. It takes quite a knock to make that happen.)
February 20, 2007 7:42:06 PM

Just one thought on any mobo based on the 680i chipset. Be careful. The 680i boards seem to have a lot of issues right now. You might want to check out the ECVGA forums to see the types of issues that some (not all) users are experiencing. By most accounts it looks like the issues are only a BIOS revision away but I would proceed with caution. I was sold on SLI at the begining of my build odessey but I ended up getting the Asus 975X board for stability.

BTW, I am a noob as well.
February 20, 2007 9:33:00 PM

Thanks. I also decided to scrap the SLI idea for now...going with a Gigabyte mobo.
February 20, 2007 9:36:40 PM

You don't really NEED a 700W PSU, especially for an 8800GTS.

Corsair had a water-cooled PC on display at CES with SLI'd 8800GTX's and dominator memory with RAM cooling powered with an HX620. It's based on Seasonic S12 units.

You could easily get a Corsair HX620 or Seasonic S12 600 in the $100-120 price range and have more than enough power for your rig and with modular cables as well.
February 20, 2007 9:39:18 PM

Quote:
You don't really NEED a 700W PSU, especially for an 8800GTS.

Corsair had a water-cooled PC on display at CES with SLI'd 8800GTX's and dominator memory with RAM cooling powered with an HX620. It's based on Seasonic S12 units.

You could easily get a Corsair HX620 or Seasonic S12 600 in the $100-120 price range and have more than enough power for your rig and with modular cables as well.


I was trying to play it safe in the event I decide to add or replace with beefier parts later on. Don't think this is a good idea from that perspective?
February 20, 2007 10:20:28 PM

PSU Calculator

That will give you a idea on what you will be looking at.

Im using the Corsairs 620 PSU and i have plenty of room for overclocking and watercooling setup.
February 20, 2007 10:25:07 PM

Quote:
You don't really NEED a 700W PSU, especially for an 8800GTS.

Corsair had a water-cooled PC on display at CES with SLI'd 8800GTX's and dominator memory with RAM cooling powered with an HX620. It's based on Seasonic S12 units.

You could easily get a Corsair HX620 or Seasonic S12 600 in the $100-120 price range and have more than enough power for your rig and with modular cables as well.


I was trying to play it safe in the event I decide to add or replace with beefier parts later on. Don't think this is a good idea from that perspective?

The thing is, a PSU's components are more important than the OEM manufacturer or how much power it has. The Corsair HX is based on the Seasonic S12 PSU units which are very efficient, stable and incredibly good value.

You could easily use a Corsair HX620 for a long time, even in the future of over-clocking with a core 2 duo and SLI 8800GTX's and two hard-drives. Lots of head room with it.
February 21, 2007 2:25:10 AM

Quote:


The thing is, a PSU's components are more important than the OEM manufacturer or how much power it has. The Corsair HX is based on the Seasonic S12 PSU units which are very efficient, stable and incredibly good value.

You could easily use a Corsair HX620 for a long time, even in the future of over-clocking with a core 2 duo and SLI 8800GTX's and two hard-drives. Lots of head room with it.


I'll do some reading on this. Thanks for the info.
February 22, 2007 6:13:09 PM

Alright, I switched out the PSU for the Corsair one, save a little more dough by using zipzoomfly for it as well.

$1334.32 now.
February 22, 2007 6:24:45 PM

Quote:
PSU Calculator

That will give you a idea on what you will be looking at.

Im using the Corsairs 620 PSU and i have plenty of room for overclocking and watercooling setup.


Great link.

I'm at 408W...I'll be using a 620W psu. I realize the calculator is an estimate. Seems ok, right?
February 22, 2007 6:34:36 PM

Quote:
I picked up this monitor for my GF. She is a gamer and even though this is an off brand it absolutely rocks. Very bright crystal clear display. No dead pixels and 2ms refresh rate = no ghosting in games. I was skeptic but reading the reviews on the newegg.com gave me the confidence to order this bad boy and Im not disappointed at all.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...


I'd really like to try and get a 20"+ LCD if I can manage it...this one seems alright, but there's gotta be a 20"+ out there for a decent deal.
!