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Preparing for a 2nd build

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April 6, 2007 8:53:30 PM

I built my first system about 5 years ago. Since then I have never needed to reinstall Windows and have not needed to do any upgrades other than add an extra .5 GB of RAM to the system. But ... nothing lasts forever and the old gal is in need of replacing.

I was hip to the latest news and trends before I built the last system but since then I've kinda fallen off on the new technologies that have happened since then (which is a lot!) ... though I am slowly reading through various forums and reviews to catch up.

I am starting to plan out a rough idea of what my next PC is going to end up being. Keep in mind I am not an uber geek who absolutely must have the tip top end of every single component ... nor am I an overclocker. Though I do play some higher end graphics-intensive games so I tend to keep my video card and ram on the higher end. And my budget is limited to within reason. I shell out a good amount for the video card and motherboard but everything else needs to be about mid-range in the payscale.

I am aiming at making a system which will not need upgrading for a few years ... and if I do decide to do so ... shouldn't need to to any major system upgrades to do so.

With all that in mind, here is what I am thinking. If my thought processes are flawed on anything here please drop me a response.

-Asus Striker Extreme motherboard (Yes, I have heard it has some BIOS issues, I'm watching that carefully. If they can't resolve it I will choose a different board).
-Core 2 Duo E6400 w/factory heat sink
-2 GB DDR2-1066 ? (or maybe 800)
-nVidia 8800GTX (this is the major expense of the system)
-kworld video capture card (to record TV shows a la DVR)
-MB has built in GB Ethernet so no network card needed
-Creative Soundblaster XtremeGameer Fatal1ty Pro
-2x Seagate Barricuda 150 GB 7200 RPM SATA-150 in Raid 1 using the MB onboard controller. (This is just for the C: drive, will probably add another drive later for data storage).
-Mad Dog MD-18XTLI DVD-RW
-Generic DVD-ROM for 2nd drive
-PC Power and Cooling Turbo-cool 510 SLI (not sure about this since I haven't researched all the components and thus do not know all their power draws)
-Windows XP Pro SP2 or ... considering that by the time I save up enough to get all the components I would imagine SP1 for Vista will be out .. and all of the above vendors will have their drivers straightened out ... maybe go with Vista 32 bit SP1 (This I can likely get from work or friends for free).

All in all ... since I'm not including the cost of the Op Sys ... I figure I can squeak this system out for about $2,500. But with the motherboard capable of accepting up to quad processors and SLI video cards ... I would imagine that this rig will be upgradable to last a good long time without having to upgrade many components.

So ... first off, be nice. It's been a long time since I've gotten my hands dirty building a system from the ground up. And keep in mind I've been out of the loop for a while in regards to hardware trends. So if I'm missing some important aspects then clue me in.

Thanks all.

More about : preparing 2nd build

April 6, 2007 10:42:18 PM

Since you will not be overclocking, you can easily save quite a bit of money. Here are my suggestions...

Motherboard: Unless you plan to SLI in the future, skip the nForce motherboards. Go with a quality P965 (Gigabyte DS3 is a very nice one for around $110). I believe all P965 (and 680i) motherboards will support quad cpus (check before buying just to make sure).

RAM: Based on my understanding (RAM runs at FSB x2), 1066 is massive overkill if you are not overclocking. FSB of current chips is 266 so DDR2-533 works just fine (DDR2-667 is more futureproof if you think you'll upgrade to a 333 FSB chip when they come out). Definitely do not go higher than DDR2-800.

Sound: Why the Fatal1ty? It offers pretty much nothing over the XtremeGamer other than the drive bay control/output insert. Getting the basic XtremeGamer will save you at least $100 for very little loss.

HDD: Why the Seagate Barracuda? For top performance, you can get WD Raptor. For good performance and good space, I'd suggest the Seagate 7200.10 (with a pair of 500GB or 750GB, you wouldn't need to add another drive).

PSU: Good brand but at the low end power-wise of what I would put into a system like yours. If you do plan to SLI 8800GTX in the future, you will need at least a 700W (750W+ would probably be better).

Personally, I've never had any desire to SLI. By the time I want an upgrade from a single GPU, buying a new single GPU will give far more improvement (and run cooler and draw less power) than getting a second of whatever I have.
April 7, 2007 12:20:06 AM

First thing struck me as odd is that a $2500 rig sports a mid-end cpu. How about these?

mobo: asus p5n32-e sli 680i or evga 680i a1/t1 revision. Either is much cheaper. These two & Striker support quad core & fsb 1333.

http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=14...
http://www.evga.com/products/moreinfo.asp?pn=122-CK-NF6...
http://www.asus.com/products4.aspx?modelmenu=2&model=14...

cpu: e6700 after 22nd april

http://www.guru3d.com/newsitem.php?id=5086

ram: if you don't overclock, 667 value ram is fine. If you do, get either or 4 gigs if you go 64-bit or vista:

G.SKILL F2-6400PHU2-2GBHZ
BUFFALO Firestix FSX800D2C-K2G

psu: if you won't sli, get any with 450W 30A on combined +12v or more from this:

http://forumz.tomshardware.com/hardware/modules.php?nam...

or if you sli, pick any of these:

http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone_build_psu.html

It seems that you're not overclocking, since you want a stock cpu hsf.
Related resources
April 7, 2007 1:04:14 AM

Hello,

First off, nice to meet you. Anyways, I can see what you're getting at here.

First off, instead of the Asus Striker Extreme, the evga 680i A1 will fit your need perfectly. I'm pretty sure they use a similar bios to the Asus Striker Extreme, and EVGA tech support is GREAT [I got off about 30 minutes ago from them, and it will have a lifetime guaranty with an advanced RMA option for FREE.

Anyways, not the point :p .

All though I'm no PSU guru as akhilles is or other members of these forums, I would suggest going higher than a 450watt, or even a 550 with an 8800 GTX. You might want to go AT LEAST with a 650-750 watt, but that would just be me being safe and sound, just incase you go for future upgrades.

RAM - I would say go with the 677 mhz or the 800 mhz RAM. They seem to fit your needs perfectly.

CPU - If you can wait the extra couple of weeks, I would say go for an e6600, or maybe a quad-core for 266$.

Sound: I'm not anywhere close to good at sound cards to advise you one. I have the X-fi Xtreme Fatal1ty [without the front audio thing], and it's great!

HDD - Like Wilcon said, the sata-150 won't be as good as the 7200.10 Barracuda's WITH PERPENDICULAR TECHNOLOGY. They're fast, and will support your needs with a big hard drive capacity. You can also get one raptor for storing your OS, and use the 7200.10 for regular storage.
April 7, 2007 1:22:37 AM

I agree with wilcoxon - go with an Intel chipset MB (w/ICH8R southbridge) to get excellent yet stable hard disk performance and to take advantage of Intel's Matrix RAID capability (which essentially allows you to subdivide pairs of drives so you can use part of each drive for RAID 0 speed and the rest for RAID 1 safety).
I also agree that SLI will not be useful in practice unless you plan on buying your 2nd identical video card within the next couple of months. Video technology changes so rapidly that the big improvements in both performance and efficiency come from new cards, not from doubling up old cards.
April 7, 2007 5:51:56 AM

Yeah considering my budget I don't think I will be able to afford 2 GTX cards in a reasonable timeframe so I think I will forego the plans for SLI. That will drop my power requirements some and will allow me to consider other boards.

I purposely steered clear of the Raptor drives because at 10,000 RPM they generate a fair amount of heat and I'm sure my system will be plenty warm with such a big video card. I don't want to be needing to put in half a dozen huge fans to keep it cool enough to be stable.

Point taken on the RAM, I will down those down a bit. But I do have a question. I see on online store pages that when I look at buying a certain amount, say 1 GB ... that it is 2 sticks of 512 MB. I'm not entirely sure how DDR2 works. I am assuming you have to have paired sticks for memory to work in this configuration. But ... are 2 sticks of 512 MB recognized by the system as truely 512 MB? Or 1 GB? I do expect that it will take several months to get all the components together and by that time Vista should be stable and I should be able to get drivers for all my current games and hardware I purchased by then ... so I do intend on probably putting on Vista Business version on it. Will 2 GB be enough though? Is more than 2 GB really going to see much improvement or is more than 2 GB essentially overkill that the system won't use much?

Next question. A e6700 after 22nd april? What happens on April 22? I musta missed an annoucement somewhere. Quad CPUs coming out then and thus dual cpu prices will drop? My first paycheck at my new job doesn't come in until April 20th and I'm fairly certainly pretty much 100% of that one will be spoken for the moment it comes in so I won't have any money to burn for at least about 4 more weeks.

Next. Hard drive with perpendicular technology? I guess that is something else I missed. When I built my last computer SATA wasn't even really out yet ... so I haven't even messed with that yet. Much less any other new tech that came out recently for hard drives.

I will have to do some more research on Sunday and come up with a revised blueprint of the system. But thanks for the help so far. :) 
April 7, 2007 7:14:50 AM

Given that you have a bit of time to wait, investigate the ATI r600 (x2900xtx) once the NDA's have been released.

Don't overlook the silverstone psu's, there's good value there.

There's supposed to be a lower end intel quad released about the end of April as well, give it a look.

'Time is money, and right now all you have is time. Spend it wisely.' From some or other movie....
April 7, 2007 2:14:29 PM

I think you clicked the link I posted above & here. 22nd is the 1st c2d price drops. 2nd wave comes Q3 - exact date is unknown.

http://www.guru3d.com/newsitem.php?id=5086

Regarding ddr2, it doesn't have to be in pairs. You can use one stick, 2, 3 or 4. The 2-stick kits are dual channel running at twice the rated speed.
April 7, 2007 3:10:31 PM

No need to spend too much on the motherboard, a Gigabyte DS3 will work wonders and it's only $105, maybe if you want to save some money lose the sound card (unless you're really picky at that department). All in all its a good system.
April 7, 2007 6:08:04 PM

Quote:
I purposely steered clear of the Raptor drives because at 10,000 RPM they generate a fair amount of heat and I'm sure my system will be plenty warm with such a big video card. I don't want to be needing to put in half a dozen huge fans to keep it cool enough to be stable.


I have two Raptors in my current computer and have no problems with heat. P4 3.2GHz, 6600GT, 2GB RAM, 36GB Raptor, 72GB Raptor, "generic" 40GB HD, CD-ROM, DVD-RW - all in a Dell 400SC server case with default PSU and cooling (nearly silent except the Plextor DVD-RW is loud and spins the disc constantly even when not being accessed (first Plextor I've had that I hate))

Quote:
Point taken on the RAM, I will down those down a bit. But I do have a question. I see on online store pages that when I look at buying a certain amount, say 1 GB ... that it is 2 sticks of 512 MB. I'm not entirely sure how DDR2 works. I am assuming you have to have paired sticks for memory to work in this configuration. But ... are 2 sticks of 512 MB recognized by the system as truely 512 MB? Or 1 GB? I do expect that it will take several months to get all the components together and by that time Vista should be stable and I should be able to get drivers for all my current games and hardware I purchased by then ... so I do intend on probably putting on Vista Business version on it. Will 2 GB be enough though? Is more than 2 GB really going to see much improvement or is more than 2 GB essentially overkill that the system won't use much?


As akhilles said, the "2GB (2 x 1GB)" kits are dual channel. You can use non-kit RAM in dual channel but it's not guaranteed. Personally, I would (and did) just get the "2GB (2 x 1GB)" kit.

Quote:
Next question. A e6700 after 22nd april? What happens on April 22? I musta missed an annoucement somewhere. Quad CPUs coming out then and thus dual cpu prices will drop? My first paycheck at my new job doesn't come in until April 20th and I'm fairly certainly pretty much 100% of that one will be spoken for the moment it comes in so I won't have any money to burn for at least about 4 more weeks.


The only new processors on April 22 are E6320 and E6420 (identical to E6300 and E6400 but with larger L2 cache). As far as I know, it is just the first planned price cuts for C2D and C2Q (X and QX cpus don't seem to be included in the cuts).

Quote:
Next. Hard drive with perpendicular technology? I guess that is something else I missed. When I built my last computer SATA wasn't even really out yet ... so I haven't even messed with that yet. Much less any other new tech that came out recently for hard drives.


HDD manufacturers have been working on it for a long time as they are nearing the physical limits of "old" HD tech. It just came out relatively recently and increases the storage density significantly which results in better performance and lower heat (fewer platters/heads) - of course, it also allows them to use more platters/heads again an offer more storage (750GB Seagate is out and Hitachi 1TB will be out soon).
May 11, 2007 3:52:40 PM

I have revised the system specs to be:

EVGA 122-CK-NF66-T1 Motherboard (650i chipset)
Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 w/stock HS
Kingston DDR2 800 (2 GB)
eVGA GeForce 8800 GTS 640 MB card (not the 320 MB)
Soundblaster X-Fi XtremeGamer sound
2x WD Raptor 74 GB (to be used as Raid set for Op Sys)
1 WD WD3200KS Caviar 320 GB (program & data storage)
LG 18x DVD-RW
Generic DVD-ROM
Win XP Pro SP2 or Vista 32-bit Bus. (when SP1 comes out)
Aerocool Zerodba 620 Watt PS

All told after tax this should fall in the $1600-1700 range which is about $600 cheaper than previously.

Any glaring issues with this setup?
May 11, 2007 4:20:31 PM

For gaming, you would be better off with Vista Home Premium or Ultimate. From my understanding, Business and Enterprise are missing some of the gaming-related features.

Other than that, it looks like a nice setup for the price.
May 11, 2007 4:27:09 PM

Do you know what features? I wouldn't mind keeping to the basic version of Vista (once it is stable and all the hardware vendors are fully supporting it) ... but I'm a computer tech and may need to work from home which means I may need to add my system to their domain. Can't do that on the basic version.
May 11, 2007 6:04:52 PM

I'm not entirely sure what is different between the versions. I've seen some comparison charts but they generally didn't get into the specifics (from what I remember).

I'd suggest just ordering a copy of Vista Ultimate OEM when you buy your computer ($189 from NewEgg) as that contains all of the features from all of the other versions (including Enterprise IIRC).
May 11, 2007 8:56:43 PM

This brings up another issue. Back in the old days of Windows when a new Op Sys was released you could purchase an upgrade. Insert the CD and install the new op sys as a full version fresh and you only needed to insert the old op sys disk for a few minutes just for Windows to verify you had a true copy of a previous version of windows.

We do not yet have Vista here at work so haven't done any experimenting with it yet but is this the case with Vista or do you have to have Win XP fully installed beforehand on the unit before doing the upgrade? It is always better to do a full fresh install than an upgrade so I just wanted to see if this was possible.
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