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Review my shopping list

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April 7, 2007 4:55:34 PM

Hi all,

I haven't built a system in years, but I've decided it's time to upgrade. I've learned a lot reading this forum, so I thought I would post my shopping list so far, and see what kind of feedback I can get.

I'll be using this machine for gaming, programming, video editing, and of course surfing the Interwebs. My budget is flexible, and I want a snappy, responsive system, but I don't need the most power in the world, and I don't want to throw away money. So here's what I have planned, along with prices in Canadian $.

Intel Conroe E6300 Core2 Duo (1.86Ghz) $ 231.00
BFG4 GeForce 8800GTS 320MB PCI-e OC Edition $ 399.00
ASUS P5N32-E SLI - MB-AS-P5N32-E SLI $ 281.00
Corsair 520W Power Supply $ 121.00
Seagate 320GB Barracuda SATA 3Gb/s $ 99.99
Seagate 320GB Barracuda SATA 3Gb/s $ 99.99
RAM: 2GB ??? ???

I've chosen the most basic Core 2 Duo because I know the Core 2 kicks ass and I believe it'll be adequate for most games. I'm considering bumping it up to an E6400 for $50. But I'm not interested in the E6600 mainly because it's an extra $100, and as a developer I don't want to spoil myself with the larger 4MB cache. A couple years from now, I'll upgrade at least to a quad core anyway, but it's not necessary today.

Chose a basic 8800 also because I know the 8800 kicks ass and is DX10 ready. But I think the low end is enough for me. I'm wary of games needing more than 320MB and if they do, I'm not likely to play 'em. (Honestly, right now I'm just thinking of finishing Half-Life 2.) And I don't think I need more stream processors or a higher clock because I don't need a super FPS edge. I know this is already a great card. Plus the BFG is clocked slightly higher than other cards at the same price, and there's a $30 mail-in rebate on it right now. A couple years from now, I'm sure I'll be upgrading again too.

Chose this particular mobo because I'm attracted to the nForce 680 chipset. I like the integrated Gigabit ethernet. I hope this means that when I'm transfering files, it won't tax my CPU as much compared to other chipsets. For video editing, in my mind RAID 0 is a must. It's a pricey motherboard compared to many alternatives but I think it'll have legs - I'll be able to plug new components for the next few years. It already supports a 1333 MHz FSB.

Took two HD for RAID 0. I don't need fault tolerance here, just performance. I have a network backup anyway. Amusingly, my backup machine will have less storage than this machine. But these HDs are just so cheap. Chose the Seagate because it has a 16 MB cache compared to 8 on a 320GB Western Digital.

I haven't researched RAM yet. There are so many different types out there now... All I know is that I want two 1 GB sticks. This is the next thing I have to figure out. It's fairly important because RAM is always a system bottleneck, but I don't want to waste money either.

Being a programmer I'm going to want to triple-boot Vista, XP and maybe some kind of Linux. Maybe older Windows too, for compatibility testing. Going to explore virtualization, but I figure I can sort that out later.

Another thing too is the case. I haven't seen any that I like. I know I want easily disassembly, front USB (maybe audio?), good circulation and sturdy build. And I don't want a folding front cover panel - pretty tired of those things, they just seem to get in the way.

I'd love it if anyone can comment on any of these choice. I still have a little research left to do, but maybe someone can help save me time, or educate me on better choices I'm overlooking.

Thanks!

More about : review shopping list

April 7, 2007 5:33:45 PM

You got some good parts there. And your rationale for that board seems reasonable.....I would argue you don't need an SLI board, but if that's your preference for the chipset then that's your preference. It's certainly a good board, so no faults there.

The Barracuda's are a great choice. Good CPU. Good PSU. Well researched, good job!

A couple of comments though:

-Will you be overclocking? Overclocking a C2D is extremely easy these days, and it will VASTLY improve your encoding times. ALOT. That 6300 will OC like a champ. If you do plan on overclocking, then seriously consider an aftermarket heatsink......something like a Thermaltake Big Typhoon, Scythe Ninja or Infinity, Thermalright Ultra (needs a fan though), or a Zalman 9700. If no overclocking, then stock heatsink is fine.

-Now, for RAM. Since you're in Canuckland like me, your best bet is OCZ Platinum DDR2-800. Cheapest stuff around for good performing RAM. Corsair up here is hugely overpriced, and the OCZ is even cheaper than G.Skill, believe it or not. If you're overclocking, get 800 RAM. If you're not overclocking, then just get some cheap 667 Value RAM. I know NCIX, Direct Canada, Canada Computers, and TigerDirect all have 533 or 667 RAM for cheap.....about $165 for 2 gigs. And you DEFINITELY need 2 gigs. So that's my suggestion for RAM. If you want to OC hardcore, then look at the black G.Skill modules.....they have Micron D9's and will OC like nuts. Also Team Group has some great stuff too.

-Case. I assume you mean you don't want a front door (by "folding front panel"?). Easy dissasembly, etc. Ok, well it sounds like you're a knowledgable fellow, and by your post and research, you sound rather discerning too. So any old crap won't suit your tastes. In that case (no pun intended), might I suggest one of these (varying styles and price ranges):


Lian-Li PC-7B Plus II:
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=19013&vpn=PC...

Coolermaster Centurion 534:
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11130AC2336&v...

Thermaltake Maxtrix VX (for a bit of bling):
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=19115&vpn=VD...

Thermaltake Swing:
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=16028&vpn=VB...

The Lian-Li is not cheap, but it's by far the best quality, I'm sure you'd apprciate its finer points. Thermaltake makes great cases too that are more affordable.


That's about it, hope that helps. You've done a great job so far with your components selection, good job!
April 7, 2007 6:13:31 PM

As for your parts, everything looks right on track. However, I game and edit alot of video also, and I must say the 2MB cache on the E6600 goes a long way. Although I did get mine for $215 :)  In my opinion, it wasn't a waste of money.

If you want a cheap case that looks cool and has a side window, go with the Centurion 5. I have it myself, and it has an Excellent airflow. You can even mod a 120mm fan behind the grating of the drive bays for more cooling. Put some leds in for an awesome look.
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April 7, 2007 6:45:32 PM

Skyguy covered most of it (as usual ;)  )...

If you are not planning to use SLI, I'd suggest going with a P965 chipset (Gigabyte DS3 Rev 3.3 supports 1333 FSB, RAID, and built-in gigabit ethernet and only costs about $115).

If you are planning to use SLI, you need a different PSU (520 will not provide enough power to SLI 8800). For SLI, you would also get a boost out of 640MB (320MB ends up memory limited in SLI).

It looks like you can buy an EVGA 8800GTS 320MB KO for the same price (both BFG and EVGA are $329.99 at NewEgg) which is 8MHz faster core and 140MHz faster memory clock than the BFG. I'm not sure how the prices compare in Canada.
April 7, 2007 9:07:57 PM

Wow. Thanks for all the great feedback already.

For the RAM, I'll definitely get 2 GB of OCZ Platinum DDR2-800. After investigating quickly, I see it's very easy to buy slower RAM at a higher price. Even from the same vendor. I don't know why that is. OCZ DDR2-667 is $10 more expensive and works at 5-5-5 timing, while the OCZ DDR2-800 supports 4-4-4 timing. Anyway, I know what I'll get.

For the case, the Thermaltake Matrix VX is looking like the winner. I like that the audio and USB ports are at the top. Good for when the case is on the floor. On the other hand, I might want to keep it on the desk to show off the side panel. Either way, it'll work.

Quote:
The Lian-Li is not cheap, but it's by far the best quality, I'm sure you'd apprciate its finer points.

I am curious what makes the Lian-Li cases (or that one in particular) stand out. I didn't notice too much exceptional about it. Maybe you need to work with it in person?

With so many cases available to choose from, I was really hoping to find something more compact, while still fitting an ATX board and 8800. I like compact. I guarantee I will never use more than one 5.25 drive bay, so all the others could go. But all the LANbox-sized cases require mini-ATX and probably don't fit an 8800. And desktop cases (HTPCs) are still too huge for my desk. So I guess Matrix VX is it.

Quote:
That 6300 will OC like a champ. If you do plan on overclocking, then seriously consider an aftermarket heatsink......something like a Thermaltake Big Typhoon, Scythe Ninja or Infinity, Thermalright Ultra (needs a fan though), or a Zalman 9700.

You've seriously tempted me into getting a Zalman 9700 heatsink. Instead of spending an extra $50 for the E6400 I'd definitely get the heatsink ($78 CDN) and hope I can OC it a couple notches instead. With that LED on there I think it would look pretty sweet through the side panel. So if I augment the CPU at all, that'll be the way.

I already got one of these backlit Eclipse keyboards http://www.thinkgeek.com/computing/pcmods/8cbc/, so it would go pretty well with that. :) 

Quote:
If you are not planning to use SLI, I'd suggest going with a P965 chipset (Gigabyte DS3 Rev 3.3 supports 1333 FSB, RAID, and built-in gigabit ethernet and only costs about $115).

You have me reconsidering my mobo choice. It's true, I doubt I will ever use the SLI feature. I just thought the 680 board had all the bells & whistles I'd ever need. But if I can get all those same bells in whistles for a lower price, I will. The main thing I am unclear about right now is the hardware ethernet support. If I get this P965 board, is it going to have to perform more functions in software which the 680 can do in hardware? I imagine myself using the gigabyte connection at home pretty often. If I'm xfering something in the background, am I going to notice a performance drain on the system using one motherboard compared to another? Something I read somewhere led me to believe so.

Thanks again guys.
April 7, 2007 9:29:03 PM

you're on the right track, get 2 gigs of DDR2 800 ram, in my opinion lose the SLI mobo too much money wasted for no gain and go for a gigabyte DS3 & bump up to the E6600 (or E6400), not much left to say.
!