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New Rig, Demanding Needs! Critiques very welcome! (detailed)

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February 22, 2007 7:40:00 PM

Hey Guys 'n Girls,

The below is the startpoint (with some gaps!) for a configuration I am looking at for a next PC. I am looking for some sage advice as to componant selection, alongside some direct questions, some of these questions have very hard to find answers so please critique away!!

Purpose of Machine: This PC will need to do it all, I will work from home frequently and use a development enviroment alongside normal productivity software. I am an avid gamer and mmo fanatic, am currently in Vanguard which is a *^&%^ to run with great graphics, however they promise future hd gaming, sli, and multicore support (which I will want to take advantage off). It will also be used as the entire home entertainment system, I will be wanting to watch dvd and bluray content, as well as HD broadcast content, in addition to using the PC as a media server to my existing audio equipment. Just to stress the machine more I alos 'play' with 3dstudio and maya, use photoshop, and am just starting to create movies!

Oh, and if I have not yet mentioned it, I probably still want to do it!


Proposed Spec

Case: Silverstone Tamjin 'TJ09' or 'TJ07'

TJ09
TJ07

Frankly I prefer the looks of the TJO7, its a beast 'in the flesh' however the watercooling outlets, the hard drive cage protection, and the additional graphics cooling look usefull. Not to mention the usb access from the top of the case. Whichever is chosen it *will* be in black brushed aluminium! I guess that dimensions and routing for water cooling should be the defining factors - thoughts ?


Powersupply: PC Power and Cooling T1KWSR ???

This is one of my weakest areas (of my knowladge). The SLI certification seems to requires multiple rails. Yet this product T1K1SR seems to have one and be better for it! It also however seems expensive, and may even be overkill ? Moduler cables would also be nice, somthing not offered here.

Motherboard: Asus Striker Extreme

Link

From all I have seen, this will provide me the maximum headroom for overclocking, I believe there were early, bios issues, hopefully all ironed out ? I also guess that removal of the heatsinks may be an issue (will be watercooling the northbridge\southbridge). Am I missing anything ? Is there a better board out there ?

Memory: ???

Ok, I take it back, this is where I am faced by the most bewildering range of choices! The safe answer is probably low latency DDR-800 (4-4-4 ?) Which I think the Corsair xms2 Pro will give me. However there are a multitude of even Corsair parts at this price point. The requirement is 4GB, will buying two matched pairs give me 4 matching 1GB sticks ? Is the price\performance ratio for memory that I intend to overclock worthwhile to look at the (vastly) more expensive DDR-1033 Memory ?

Processor: Core Duo E6700

It appears that this is the price performance sweet spot, bearing in mind overclocking desires. I keep looking at quad core, but can see little real world benifit, especially if a E6700 (or lower suitably cooled?) can be talken to the same speeds. Are there two differing versions of this chip floating around ? (This is a vauge recolection from an article somewhere).

Drives: 2 x 150GB Raptor X. 1 x Seagate Barricuda 750GB.

I think thats the obvious choice! Bar the luidicrously priced 15k spindle speed cheeta's is there anything else out there ?

Graphics: 2 x Nvidia 8800 - But whos version ?!

XFX and BFG would probably be my default choices, simply from experience. Is there any value in buying already overclocked cards, assuming I can overclock myself ?

I will need to complete my HDCP loop, also I intend to run 2560x1600, and have support for 1080p HD content. So I assume I need Dual DVI on *both* HDMI outputs, and I am also looking for HDMI IN (it seems unclear is this is supported or not?) for any video capture I may wish to do. Further outputs to drive other devices may also be usefull. Finally I am a little unclear on agea Physix's implementations, some cards seem to have then included, others require a seperate daughter card, usually the additional PCI-E 8x slot.

Monitor: Dell 3700FWP

Its 30", its Dell, it has HDCP. I dont think that anything else can touch this yet for 2560x1600 res ? Oh, and I am cheating, I buy a *vast* amount of dell kit every year (work) and can buy this for 50% of the website price. That said lack of inputs is a possible concern.

Audio: XI-FI Fatil1ty extreme gamer.

My understanding is that this XI -FI card trumps the others in terms of capabilities, due to onboard vram. I would also consider the xi-fi platinum, but apparently the fatal1ty is actually more featured ? This may be important when you see the next choice!

Speakers: Logitech Z5450 Link

These would appear to be the best out there, but not quite what I am after. I would prefer: Wireless, THX Certified, 7.1 Suround. I am assuming that I will do all decoding via the PC. However there is one more possible option. I am lucky to have a pair of Nautilus 802's for my hifi, is there any way to press those into service as a left right pair, and convert a 5.1 system to 7.1 that way ? Thus I could use my 802's for all non surround audio. Might the silverstone Tech DA converter help with this ? Link Am I chasing a pipe dream or is using my superlative 802's as normal PC Speakers, and then using a 5.1 set to give me 7.1 surround for movies possible ?


TV Tuner: ???

Another Blank. I guess I am after a DVB-T , Ideally with two tuners (for MCE use) and also compisite outs. I guess I may also want it to be part of my HDMI chain, if I can ever find out how to get a HD feed to it! I should add, that I am in the UK, and use PAL.

Optical Devices: ???

Yet another blank (bah, the more I write this, the less I fell I know...), I will be looking for an DVD read\write, and a BluRay player. Only source seems to be grey imports, is anything offically available yet ?

Cooling: Koolance Watercooling. To everything!

Have always wanted to build a watercooled rig, and now is my chance it seems, this should help with the home theatre side of things (noise) and also with the overclocking. Koolance seem to offer a complete array of options, current thoughts center around processor\graphics\chipset\drives however I would like to hit 1KW of cooling, but am torn between the EXOS2 and the kit that takes the componants from the PCW-1026BK, but requires cutting a hole in my case....

If I go for the difficult (but better asthetic route?) I guess I will integrate the kit, has anyone out there tried this with a silverstone case ?

OS:

Will be a multiboot, am toying with a 64bit boot as well.



Reality Check Incoming!

The budget for the system is probably £4000. Note the price I pay for the monitor for anyone totting up. If we break this barrier my responces will be to go with a single 8800 (and then sell it and add a pair of 8900 or somthing later), and possibly reduce the watercooling. I have not yet really looked at pricing, I will start that journey once it seems there are no glitches in the spec. (a.k.a I dont dare look yet). Oh, and I am looking to get 2yr's lifespan from the box!

If anyone has anythoughts on what 3dmark scores etc *should* be possible with this rig, I will be all ears!

Many thanks to anyone who took the time to read this in depth, and comment.
February 22, 2007 11:14:27 PM

I think somthing may have been lost in translation ?

by 'Demanding Needs' I meant that I need a lot of return from thr PC, not that I was demanding anything from anyone here! (althought constructive comments are welcome).

I think I possibly should have written 'HDCP' chain, not HDMI chain - however I am unaware if that will be needed on any HD broadcasts in the future (i.e. the 2 year lifespan of the machine) , hence the question!
Related resources
February 23, 2007 1:12:43 PM

Anyone care to make any constructive comments ? Am still wondering why the hostile reply from the above poster!

Regards,

Miz
February 23, 2007 1:27:07 PM

The Striker Extreme is one heckuva fancy board. I don't know a whole lot about it myself, because it was way out of my price range. But I've read that the EVGA 680i, despite being the same chipset, is a much better overclocker. However, some people had problems with their EVGA 680is. I didn't, mine works like a charm, just warning you.

As for the 6700, I don't think it's worth it to get the 6700 over the 6600 unless whatever retailer you're going to has them VERY close in price. The 6700 only gets you another 266 stock MHz, and if you've got a powerful overclocking board, the OC headroom isn't much different.

As for the graphics card(s), my vote goes to a single 8800GTX, possibly EVGA's Superclocked version. You can just OC a normal one yourself, of course, but if the Superclocked is only a few dollars more than the normal, I'd say it's worth it.
February 23, 2007 1:59:08 PM

Thanks Jeff,

Good call on the 6700, seems like a sensable place to save a few ££. I will also go and start digging up some reviews of the evga cards\boards.

Regards,

Miz
February 23, 2007 2:23:33 PM

I second the money to save the money on the E6600. Also get the P5N32-E SLI. Everything is the same between the striker except no LCD panel and no reset CMOS and power button on the board and your going to save yourself money there. A review between the two was just done, just can't remember where it was.

I would go with EVGA for you graphics. You can always step up if Nvidia releases a new card to compete with R600. Mind you I don't think Nvidia needs to compete with ATI and if they are ever ready to release the R600 to make it up to snuff with the G80 your step up may have passed.

Great cases; you may have to put a bit more thought though on what tuners to get cause your not going to have any available slots after your 2 8800's and a sound card.
February 23, 2007 2:28:50 PM

Hi Miz - one thing I would say about your choice, or rather size , of monitor. I bought the Dell 24" version of your desired choice - it runs at 1920x1200 and is great, i dont regret buying it one bit. However, even with a tasty powerhouse of a machine (like you are planning), you will struggle to run some of the latest top games at resolutions with AA etc in advance of this 1920 res at a decent (>60fps) framerate. That would be my only hesistancy with your new rig - perhaps save the extra dosh, get a 24" instead and use the extra cash to get some more RAM/Hard disks!

Cheers, FoX
February 23, 2007 2:32:00 PM

Thanks Bruce,

I will hunt for the article, I wonder how usefull the cmos reset button is for overclocking purposes however ?!

I think I may have heard of this EVGA 'Step Up' programme (or am I confusing that for someone else?) However is it a UK programme or just a US one ?

Nice Catch on the DVB, this seems to be a very grey area, Tyring to find both a HDCP complient (via HDMI 1.3 as its now released?) DVB-t may be asking just a little too much atm.

Anyone have any thoughts on memory\psu ?
February 23, 2007 2:42:00 PM

Reset cmos and power will be extremly usefull when trying to set records with extreme oc's but if you plan on doing a moderate overclock for 24/7 use then not that usefull. Just do the jumper if any probs arise. But with core2 it's pretty easy to see what other people are sitting at and aim there and you will be able to get it without any hangup's.

Found the comparison Striker vs P5N32-E SLI

PC power and cooling, great PSU.

The memory matters on how much you want to overclock. Now the problem may come up if you try to extreme overclock with 4 stick so it may be redundant to chose the 1066 models.
February 24, 2007 3:12:44 PM

Thanks for the update bruce!

I will want to see how far I can push things, but then (lets be honest) I will probably head back to my 24\7 mode!
!