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First build and extra money: What should I upgrade?

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May 12, 2007 4:49:17 PM

I have a $1600 budget for my new build and I have some $ left over. I plan on buying all of the parts next week once the ATI 2900XTs come out but I wanted to submit my plans to you experts here on the TG forums. I will be using the system mainly for gaming and as a multimedia center for my dorm. I am willing to OC as much as I can.

My build plan
Case:
Antec P182 ($160) - inc shipping (excaliberpc.com)
PSU:
CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX ($125)
Mobo:
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 ($130)
CPU:
e6600 ($226)
RAM:
2gb G.SKILL F2-6400CL4D-2GBHK ($115)
HDDs:
74gb Raptor ($160)
Seagate 7200.10 320gb ($80)
Optical drive:
Sony/NEC Optiarc AD-7170S ($32)
CPU cooler:
Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme ($62)
Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E ($15)
Paste:
Shin-Etsu X23-7762 Thermal Compound ($10)

With $400 budgeted for a graphics card, the total comes to $1515.
I do not need an OS as I can get Vista Enterprise 32 or 64-bit from school.
As I have approx. $100 left over, I was wondering what i should improve, if anything. Among my ideas were:
-get another 2gb of ram
-get rid of the raptor and buy a Q6600.
-get an X-fi
-upgrade to a GTX

Finally, my parents have agreed to purchase me a monitor. Would I be better served by getting the BenQ FP241W (which gives me the option to use the display as an HDDVD/bluray viewer down the road) or two 22"" monitors?
Any and all input is appreciated. Thx in advance.
May 12, 2007 9:30:19 PM

First of all, it's obvious you are getting components designed for low noise...good work 8) On that note, the Scythe Ninja comes with a fan that is quieter than the SilentX you mentioned, and considering that the Ninja is designed to be used in low airflow situations, the CFM produced by the SilentX is unnessesary.

The P182 is a great case, but the P180b is almost as good, and can save you quite a bit of cash, there are some great deals on it right now if you look around.

As for the video card, I would probably not make the decision until the R600 is released and we see official numbers. But most likely, I would recommend going with the GTX (plus I'm guessing price might drop a little after the R600 is released).

I've not seen any evidance supporting that thermal grease, unless you have some reason to beleive it's better. I, like most others, would recommend the Zalman STG1.

On your question concerning displays...I would most definitely go with the single 24"...two reasons, you said you plan to use it for gaming, and you said you'll be living in a dorm room. You'll appriceate the resolution for gaming, plus two monitors will not help you in the slightest for most games. I'm not sure if you know the specific size of your dorm room, but those I've lived in were no where near large enough to comfortably fit 2 22" displays (one 24" will be tight enough 8O ).

Good luck, the rest looks great!
May 12, 2007 10:08:53 PM

Quote:

-get another 2gb of ram
-get rid of the raptor and buy a Q6600.
-get an X-fi
-upgrade to a GTX


I'd get another 2 GB of RAM (because of Vista) and the 8800 GTX.

You can always add the X-Fi later, if you pick a mobo with onboard audio. You may even be happy with the onboard audio. The X-Fi will add 5 fps in some games, and people with very good ears and speakers may notice better sound quality, but I don't know if this is worth $100 to you.

You don't really need a Q6600 for gaming and watching movies, the software is not ready to use cores #3 and #4 yet.

I'd ditch the Raptor, it's expensive and small and noisy and not really that big a speed improvement.

Actually, I don't know about the 8800 cards. Vista drivers for them are still buggy. I would also not expect ATI's brand new cards to have decent drivers right away - maybe in 6 months or so. If you can get Windows XP and a coupon for upgrade to Vista you'll probably be better off. Personally I'll move to Vista after Vista SP1 is out and nVidia's drivers are fixed.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
May 12, 2007 11:46:54 PM

Like the previous user had said, I would get rid of the Raptor, not much benefit in games. I would also go with Arctic Sliver thermal paste instead of what you have. Also be careful with Vista (for now) there are few graphics bugs with the 8800's.
May 12, 2007 11:56:42 PM

I'd say go for E4300 and overclock that with using DDR1066 sticks. And for the cooler, either get the Tower 120, Ultra 120 or Ultra 120 Extreme to get the best of cooling.
May 12, 2007 11:59:05 PM

Why would you use 1066 RAM on a e4300 build?
May 13, 2007 3:41:36 AM

If you get the Raptor you are letting the man stick it to you.. Not a good bang
for your gaming buck. Same with upgrading to vista..Keep XP for now as we know the drivers work in it. The SB X-Fi is an excellent card for the price and I can sure hear a difference over the onboard audio.Other than that happy gaming.

Stick it to the man by only upgrading what you need.
May 13, 2007 3:59:35 AM

If I don't get the Raptor, should I still get a 2nd HDD for a system drive? or should I just partition the 320gig?
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
May 13, 2007 4:03:12 AM

I like the list as it is. If the main use is for gaming, then get the best vga card you can afford; that likely will be the 8800gtx. As to monitors, I vote for two. Most games will only use one, but it is very handy to be able to keep other stuff(e-mail, performance monitors, etc) open on the other.
May 13, 2007 4:05:28 AM

You can overclock the E4300 and would outperform the stock X6800 on gaming. $125 cpu can become the fastest cpu for gaming when proper overclocking is achieve. :wink:
May 13, 2007 6:12:48 AM

Why will the scythe fan be quieter than the SilenX when the scythe is rated at 20dBa and the SilenX is rated at 18?

Please feel free to correct me in my potential ignorance. I am basing all of my choices on heatsink and fan from anandtech's series of reviews, notably this one (http://anandtech.com/casecooling/showdoc.aspx?i=2965) which says that the silenX fan cooled a lot more effectively than the stock scythe fan.

And about the thermal grease, I was basing my decision off of DaSickNinja's reveiw here, but I misunderstood which Shin-etsu he was talking about. According to his review, the x23 is the best. (orig post edited to reflect)
May 13, 2007 6:44:50 AM

The noise was the same on either fan. The silex fan did cool a couple degrees better. If you needed those degrees, remember those are standard fans and you can use the stock ninja as case fans.
May 13, 2007 6:55:30 AM

Quote:
Why will the scythe fan be quieter than the SilenX when the scythe is rated at 20dBa and the SilenX is rated at 18?

For the same reason you are willing to pay $125 for a 520W PSU when you can get a 600W for only $20!....RATINGS DON'T MEAN SQUAT! I'm not saying the SilenX is loud, but it is most definitely louder!

The problem with a strong fan and the Ninja is you are missing the point. If you don't mind the noise of a srong fan, it would be much better put to use on a cooler that needs the CFM....the Ninja does not. Yes, it may bennefit from more airflow, but not to the degree of a Thermaltake 120 Ultra for example. The fins are closer together on the Ultra, and the extra CFM is needed to force air through. The Ninja is designed with very wide fin spacing so that you don't need a lot of CFM to move air through the cooler. See my point?

On the anandtech article, take their noise measurements with a grain of salt, they are not very picky...at all! silentpcreview's Ninja review should give you much more reliable information.

They tested it with a P4 2.8GHz with a TDP of 69W. The ambient room temp was 21C and at full tilt the CPU temp rose ONLY 14C with a 120mm fan blowing 42 CFM over the HSF (similar airflow to the Scythe fan). That's pretty darn good, much better results than anandtech got.
Quote:
My final assessment should be obvious: The Scythe Ninja is an excellent HS that can be confidently recommended for the most demanding CPU cooling challenges at truly whisper quiet noise levels when mated with the correct 120mm fan. Overclockers will be delighted with the Ninja as well; with even moderate airflow it should be able to tackle all manner of hot processors. In the right case, like an Antec P180, the Scythe Ninja is just about perfect.
May 13, 2007 7:31:19 AM

Quote:
Why will the scythe fan be quieter than the SilenX when the scythe is rated at 20dBa and the SilenX is rated at 18?

For the same reason you are willing to pay $125 for a 520W PSU when you can get a 600W for only $20!....RATINGS DON'T MEAN SQUAT! I'm not saying the SilenX is loud, but it is most definitely louder!

That bit about the psu is completely wrong, you are better off with a high quality 520w than a cheap 600w psu. You should check out the sticky in the psu forum by mpilchfamily, that will show you why.

that psu listed on the list of parts has 40 amps across the 12v rails, which is very good for a 520w psu
May 13, 2007 7:48:32 AM

Quote:
Why will the scythe fan be quieter than the SilenX when the scythe is rated at 20dBa and the SilenX is rated at 18?

For the same reason you are willing to pay $125 for a 520W PSU when you can get a 600W for only $20!....RATINGS DON'T MEAN SQUAT! I'm not saying the SilenX is loud, but it is most definitely louder!

That bit about the psu is completely wrong, you are better off with a high quality 520w than a cheap 600w psu. You should check out the sticky in the psu forum by mpilchfamily, that will show you why.

that psu listed on the list of parts has 40 amps across the 12v rails, which is very good for a 520w psu
Read the comparison again.....I'm telling him he is smart to chose his the Corsair PSU.....my point is you should not make purchases based on "rating" that prey on consumer ignorance.....like a silly 600W PSU! What a peice of junk! Just cause it says "600W" or 18db...it doesn't mean anything, if it did, nobody would buy a Corsair PSU.
May 13, 2007 7:56:44 AM

OK, so in response to all of this fan hoopla ( :D  ), would it just be better if i got this Scythe fan and the thermalright ultra 120 extreme?

The main reason I was leaning toward the ninja is because it weighs less. Do I need to be concerned about the motherboard breaking from a 1kg heatsink?
May 13, 2007 8:11:12 AM

Great fan (almost exactly the same as the one the Ninja comes with too)! And unless you plan to move the computer around a lot...I would not worry about the cooler weight issue. If you are especially concerned, anchor the top of the cooler (end furthest away from the motherboard) to the top of your case with some elastic. It's easy to find at sewing stores.

And, yes! This would provide superior cooling.

Yate Loon fans are known for very low noise, and very low price. They have a 120mm high speed (88CFM) and low speed (47CFM) for only $3.50 each!

If you hooked up the high speed model to a variable fan controller, you could have the best of both worlds!
May 13, 2007 2:23:21 PM

lol read that wrong. For some reason i though you were telling him to go with the cheapo 600w psu. Sorry bout that. I do hate how some psu makers prey on people who don't know any better.
a b B Homebuilt system
May 13, 2007 3:18:59 PM

Here's my 2 cents:
If you are mainly gaming, I would stick with XP. Also I would go for an 8800gtx at this point in time. I have read there can be some issues with the 8800gtx in Vista, and you don't yet have a good idea yet how the 2900xt will do in Vista yet either. You could end up dieing on the bleeding edge...so to speak. I am more inclined to play it safe, and advise you go with what is proven right now to be a killer setup, 8800gtx and XP.
Enterprise software? I have really no idea about the Vista you are planning on getting, but I found that some Enterprise software lacks many features of a full retail version. I once tried Enterprise versions of Quark and Photoshop, and found them to be just a notch above useless, for my needs anyway. Many features were simply not there. Like I said, don't know about Vista, but I would really check into it if you must go that route.
May 13, 2007 3:22:12 PM

Quote:
If I don't get the Raptor, should I still get a 2nd HDD for a system drive? or should I just partition the 320gig?


For the price of the Raptor you can get 2 HD's and raid them and still save a few $$$ and get about the same speed as the Raptor
May 13, 2007 3:42:51 PM

Quote:
If I don't get the Raptor, should I still get a 2nd HDD for a system drive? or should I just partition the 320gig?


For the price of the Raptor you can get 2 HD's and raid them and still save a few $$$ and get about the same speed as the Raptor

take $70 savings on HDs and $100 and the (lcd mom is geting you )and take the 170 and get a nother lcd fot a total of 2 lcds

just a idea
May 13, 2007 4:35:20 PM

Yeah, that was the same stuff I decided on getting. (I linked to the review somewhere in the thread.)

The primary question I have at this point is if I drop the Raptor from my build, will I need to buy another hard drive for a system harddrive or will i be ok with the single seagate? Or should i pick up another 320 and RAID them? (I must admit though, I'm kinda scared to setup a RAID.)

Thanks for all of the input so far guys.
May 13, 2007 4:49:34 PM

It's funny that the stuff from the local radio shack beat them all though but I think it's mostly about ho it is applied I found that most people don't put enough on the chips. It's best to spread it for best results. The X23 is pretty hard to do that with but I managed and my temps are very cool 30 to 32c idle and 40 to 45c load.
May 13, 2007 5:00:37 PM

Get a case *without* doors and thank me later.

Forget the raptor and get 2 drives, maybe the WD2500KS with 16MB cache.

To O/C get an E6420 - some are reporting that later batches of E6600's aren't clocking well

Go for the 8800GTX.

Stick with XP Pro.

X-Fi is a waste of $ and has some problems reported with CPU hogging. SB Audigy is fine.
May 13, 2007 5:00:58 PM

Yeah . . .how exactly do I apply thermal paste? :lol:  I've never actually done it before. sorry for being such a newb.
May 13, 2007 5:48:50 PM

Quote:
Yeah, that was the same stuff I decided on getting. (I linked to the review somewhere in the thread.)

The primary question I have at this point is if I drop the Raptor from my build, will I need to buy another hard drive for a system harddrive or will i be ok with the single seagate? Or should i pick up another 320 and RAID them? (I must admit though, I'm kinda scared to setup a RAID.)

Thanks for all of the input so far guys.


Ok you wanted the raptor for your OS games right

Well what I would do is buy 2 hds (the same size and brand) for my OS and games and raid them

and the 320Gig for files and Mp3s movies and what ever

still saving you a few $$ (then getting raptor) and be vary fast loading OS and games and all other programs

Hope this helps
May 13, 2007 6:15:25 PM

Quote:
Well what I would do is buy 2 hds (the same size and brand) for my OS and games and raid them

But doesn't putting the 2 drives in a RAID make my data twice as likely to be destroyed? How risky is it to set up and run a RAID0. Would it be worth the increase in performance (in relation to increase in risk) to go for 2 80gig or 160gig drives in a RAID0 vs. one Western Digital 1600AAJS ($53)?

and yes, I plan on keeping my mp3s and such on the 320gig. Will this provide me with sufficient data security? How would I go backing up my progs and OS install on the RAID if i decide to do it?
May 13, 2007 6:32:45 PM

Quote:
Well what I would do is buy 2 hds (the same size and brand) for my OS and games and raid them

But doesn't putting the 2 drives in a RAID make my data twice as likely to be destroyed? How risky is it to set up and run a RAID0. Would it be worth the increase in performance (in relation to increase in risk) to go for 2 80gig or 160gig drives in a RAID0 vs. one Western Digital 1600AAJS ($53)?

and yes, I plan on keeping my mp3s and such on the 320gig. Will this provide me with sufficient data security? How would I go backing up my progs and OS install on the RAID if i decide to do it?

Yes and no
well if you only keep the OS and games on the raid all you will have to do is install evey thing if it dies not a big deal. and keep every thing that you do not want to lose backed up.

Or you can use raid 2 but no speed other than normal or a little slower do not use this so not to clear on this.

Now i back all my files and things on CD or on a External Hard Drives

Drives fail end of story it does not mater if it is in raid or a single drive they fail with time use what have you
But how mine is set up is raid 1 for OS and Games 4 other hard drives for MP3 movies files and i back up every thing off the 4 drives. and not the raid becuse i can all was reinstall OS and Games

Hope this helps
May 13, 2007 6:51:17 PM

Quote:
well if you only keep the OS and games on the raid all you will have to do is install evey thing if it dies not a big deal. and keep every thing that you do not want to lose backed up.

I suppose you're right. Only thing worth backing up within all of Window's crap would be the Document's folder, but that's small anyway. I'll also have a notebook on which I will also keep all of my media, so I guess I've got the data backup thing down. So I guess the two drives in a RAID0 would be better than the Raptor? Faster, cooler, quieter?

With all of the recommendations taken into account, the build looks like this:

Case:
Antec P182 ($160) - inc shipping (excaliberpc.com)
PSU:
CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX ($125)
Mobo:
GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 ($130)
CPU:
e6600 ($226)
RAM:
2x 2gb G.SKILL F2-6400CL4D-2GBHK ($230)
HDDs:
2x WD 1600AAJS ($106) in RAID-0
Seagate 7200.10 320gb ($80)
Optical drive:
Sony/NEC Optiarc AD-7170S ($32)
CPU cooler:
Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme ($62)
Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E ($15)
Paste:
Shin-Etsu X23-7762 Thermal Compound ($10)

Video card: $400

Total cost: $1576

Only thing is, now I've approached my budget limit so I don't think I can get a GTX. Since I've decided to go with the 24" WUXGA monitor, is it necessary to upgrade to the GTX over the GTS 640? Won't the RAID give me better all around performance? Arrrgh! I hate having to compromise :x .
a c 83 B Homebuilt system
May 13, 2007 6:58:12 PM

The performance value of raid-0 is debatable. Synthetic benchmarks(HDtach, etc) show value, but workload benchmarks do not. For a good discussion of raid and hard drive performance, go to www.storagereview.com. Hard drives are reliable, but you should still protect yourself with external backups of whatever you can't recreate easily.
----------------- My recommendation:------------
If you need 150gb or less, get only the 150gb raptor. If you need more, get a second 7200rpm drive with enough capacity. In either case make a plan to backup(compressed) your critical stuff to an external device.
May 13, 2007 6:59:50 PM

Ok first wait a week video cards may drop in $$$ arter ATI's R600 is out and also if you can wait till the 2 week in june P35 is out it may drop $$ to
May 13, 2007 7:03:29 PM

Quote:
The performance value of raid-0 is debatable. Synthetic benchmarks(HDtach, etc) show value, but workload benchmarks do not. For a good discussion of raid and hard drive performance, go to www.storagereview.com. Hard drives are reliable, but you should still protect yourself with external backups of whatever you can't recreate easily.
----------------- My recommendation:------------
If you need 150gb or less, get only the 150gb raptor. If you need more, get a second 7200rpm drive with enough capacity. In either case make a plan to backup(compressed) your critical stuff to an external device.


My 2 cents
Yes but 2 drives are still cheaper then 1 raptor and a little bit bigger!
May 13, 2007 7:22:50 PM

If it were me i would get only 1 set of the ram you picked and down the road pick up another set. And also someone said stay a way from vista if gaming and the 8800 card Thay were right on the money with that one.
May 13, 2007 7:24:59 PM

My school has site licenses for XP pro and Vista, so OS choice isn't a problem. Thx for the concern tho. If anything, I can dual boot if I want to.

And why are you advising against me getting 4 gigs now? I am going to run Vista in some way and I've been told that the OS likes the RAM. Besides, it fits into my budget and more can't hurt, right?
May 13, 2007 7:27:23 PM

Quote:
My school has site licenses for XP pro and Vista, so OS choice isn't a problem. Thx for the concern tho. If anything, I can dual boot if I want to.


Right on man

just did not want you to have a lot of proplems thats all
May 13, 2007 7:39:12 PM

Quote:
Ok first wait a week video cards may drop in $$$ arter ATI's R600 is out and also if you can wait till the 2 week in june P35 is out it may drop $$ to


You do know of the new MB coming out right
May 13, 2007 8:04:04 PM

Quote:
Dump the corsair psu, there are better ones for the price, and dump the g.skill ram, and instead get something generic and cheaper, that thing has the same internal parts as a $60 2gb kit, so go for the cheap stuff and try to 4gb instead, that would suit you better down the road or for vista if you want to go that route

Do you have any suggestions for the replacements of these parts that I should "dump"? I've read good stuff about them, especially the PSU (even on these forums).

Quote:
Don't get hte e6600, that's been getting a lot of bad stepping(s) lately

If I do get the Xeon 3060, is that a higher binning with better OC potential? I thought as a server part it wouldnt OC as high. As far as OCing goes, I was hoping to get anywhere from 3.4-3.7ish GHz. Is that feasible on air? If it isn't, I dont want to go water cooling, I was just wondering.
May 13, 2007 9:01:38 PM

Although I'm sure those are all nice PSUs, you said that there were many other ones for the same price of the corsair that were better. Only one of the samples you showed me was comparable in price.
I chose the Corsair because it is quiet and I wanted a modular PSU. I can't imagine why I would need ~700 watts. I will never SLi or CrossFire.
May 13, 2007 9:21:50 PM

If I really need 600+ watts, I'd be willing to go with this 620 watt corsair so I can still get the modular cabling and quietness this PSU has.
From what I can see, the corsair PSUs are good. They're on the same tier as the PC P&C silencer u suggested acc. to this list: http://www.jonnyguru.com/forums/showthread.php?t=103
May 13, 2007 9:26:19 PM

Quote:
I would go for 600w min, so if you want to get one for the same price, here's one that I prefer
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ends up at $120, 5 bux less :wink:

He said he like the Corsair because it's MODULAR & QUIET! Do you even listen??? If you like the OCZ, fine YOU BUY IT! But quit making recommendations for people if you're not going to listen to what they want.

The Corsair is one of the best PSUs on the market, and 520W is more than enough for most any non SLI/crossfire system. It's made by Seasonic which is well know for their quality, Corsair just adds the modular cable support to their version. Check out a great review here.
May 13, 2007 10:08:03 PM

Quote:
There are other things that are just as important as modularness, one of them being the amount of amps it can supply (for an 8800gts/x/r600, you really can't afford to go below 600w), another being that modular psus tend to have voltage problems on their rails

And I'd really like you to find me a person that runs a single 8800gtx oc on that psu with a powerful oc'd cpu 24/7, I'll leave forums for a week if you do

I'm not flaming, I'm just asking you to consider people's questions before providing an answer...you should know a powerful system does not need that much power, mine uses less than 400W when stress testing. Anandtech did a OC 8800 roundup a few months ago and only one brought the system over 350W at load, that was with at C2D X6800 (stock speed) OCing might add 50W, that's still only 400W of power.
BeHardware also found in their initial review that their test system did not break 300W with the 8800GTX.

My point is to quit listening to hype and marketing, and do a little bit of actual research before throwing around information. 600W is not required for the system in question.

As for your promise to me...look at my sig and then check out this screenshot:

I expect you to be gone for the next week...
...just joking :wink:
May 13, 2007 10:59:19 PM

Quote:
...corsair has been in that market for only a short amount of time

Not to mention, as far as I know, that psu isn't modular...

Read this article: Corsair HX520W & HX620W Modular power supplies
It's made by SeaSonic, a very well respected, high quality PSU manufacturer.
May 13, 2007 11:06:24 PM

Ok . . .so now that you guys have kissed and made up (jk jk) in terms of powering the system, is 520 watts enough? or should I try and go for more than 600?

If I cap my gpu budget at $400, the I'll be able to swing the 620, but idk i wanted to have a lil leeway if the gtx dropped in price or there was a deal on an OCed 2900xt.
May 13, 2007 11:17:22 PM

Quote:
Ok . . .so now that you guys have kissed and made up (jk jk) in terms of powering the system, is 520 watts enough? or should I try and go for more than 600?

If you click on the links I provided for I_Love_Tacos, you'll see I provided the evidence you need to make that decision....520W is PLENTY 8)

BTW I_Hate_Tacos :lol:  (just jk)
May 14, 2007 1:12:40 AM

Hmmm. Thanks for the link, it was a good read and after thinking about it, I don't think that a RAID0 is worth the hassle or apparently marginal real world gains to me (plus it give me an excuse to save $$ :D  ).

After thinking some more, I think I don't really need the Raptor. It is pretty loud from what I gather and it's also really expensive. If I get just one WD1600AAJS though, I'll get the same storage of the 150gig Raptor for 1/4 of the cost and it will be a lot cooler and quieter.
It also looked to stand up pretty well among the non-Raptor drives on tom's interactive charts.

So, do you guys think a single Western Digital WD1600AAJS is a good choice for a system drive? (it was also in Tom's 2007 HDD roundup earlier this year)
May 14, 2007 1:28:57 AM

Yes, although I personally think it's not big enough...it's a great drive, and if you think it's big enough, go for it. You can get more GB/$ with the others in the line up, and they all share the newer platter design with higher data densities, lower power consumption, lower heat, etc...:

WD1600AAJS $53 (3GB/$)
WD3200AAKS $80 (4GB/$)
WD4000AAKS $100 (4GB/$)
WD5000AAKS $120 (4.2GB/$)

I never chimmed in on the Raptor VS RAID debate, but I'm in favor of your current plan. IMHO the Raptor is overpriced, and RAID is overrated.
!