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My first new build. Any opinions are welcome.

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June 5, 2007 5:17:31 PM

I used to love gaming, and since I am in need of a hobby, I have decided to pick it back up again. My current computer is a trusty HP laptop, but oh so slow. So I've decided to built myself a gaming rig. After some homework, this is what I've decided on. Any suggestions are welcome.

Antec P180B

4x Noctua NF-S12 800RPM case fans (ripping out the Antec Tricool ones)

850W Coolermaster Real Power Pro

MSI P6N Diamond

Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600

Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler

4Gb DDR2 PC8500 at 1066MHz (4 x 1Gb, either Corsair Dominator or OCZ
Platinum or SLI)

MSI 8800GTS 320Mb (with the intention of adding a second one later)

2x 74 Gb Western Digital WD740ADFD Raptor (in RAID 0)

1x 500GB Western Digital My Book™ Premium ES Edition (using eSATA)

either the LG L226WTQ or the Samsung SM-226BW monitor

Logitech MX revolution mouse

Logitech Ultra Flat Keyboard

I'm not really on a set budget for this, but I don't want to go really crazy. The games I enjoy are Supreme Commander, Command & Conquer 3, Civilization IV, etc...

Any hints as to improve the general performance without adding too much to the cost or tips (for example, I'm wondering about my choice of PSU. I like it because it's quiet, but will it fit & do I really need 850W?)

More about : build opinions

June 5, 2007 6:57:38 PM

Quote:
I used to love gaming, and since I am in need of a hobby, I have decided to pick it back up again. My current computer is a trusty HP laptop, but oh so slow. So I've decided to built myself a gaming rig. After some homework, this is what I've decided on. Any suggestions are welcome.

Antec P180B

4x Noctua NF-S12 800RPM case fans (ripping out the Antec Tricool ones)

850W Coolermaster Real Power Pro

MSI P6N Diamond

Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600

Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler

4Gb DDR2 PC8500 at 1066MHz (4 x 1Gb, either Corsair Dominator or OCZ
Platinum or SLI)

MSI 8800GTS 320Mb (with the intention of adding a second one later)

2x 74 Gb Western Digital WD740ADFD Raptor (in RAID 0)

1x 500GB Western Digital My Book� Premium ES Edition (using eSATA)

either the LG L226WTQ or the Samsung SM-226BW monitor

Logitech MX revolution mouse

Logitech Ultra Flat Keyboard

I'm not really on a set budget for this, but I don't want to go really crazy. The games I enjoy are Supreme Commander, Command & Conquer 3, Civilization IV, etc...

Any hints as to improve the general performance without adding too much to the cost or tips (for example, I'm wondering about my choice of PSU. I like it because it's quiet, but will it fit & do I really need 850W?)


Nice choice of system components, very high end stuff


Case: nice choice, i was going to get the same one for my recent build but i was cheap and got the Antec Sonata II instead because it came with an Antect PSU

CPU: Quad-core right now wont do much good for gaming, most games only use one CPU, but future titles should use at least 2 CPUs, u will see an improvement in regular windows tho, it can utilize more than one CPU
suggestion: get a core 2 duo instead of quad, unless ur running high end apps like photoshop, 3ds max, maya, etc

FANS: are the new ones you are putting in excessively loud, dont want to get a headache lol

GPU cooling: Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler, is this for the gpu? i would just stick with stock cooler unless you are going to overclock alot

PSU: 850W is good if you are planning to get a second video card later

RAM: could probably get away with 2GB for now, ram is easily upgraded anyways. you should take a look into the latency timings of the memory you are choosing as well.

Video card: 8800gts is a good choice, the 320MB version is cheaper than the 640mb version and in the future it will be cheaper to add in the 2nd card, i dont think the 640Mb version right now justifies the price difference

hard drives: could probably get away with regular 7200 rpm hard drives in raid0 for the OS/games, cheaper than the raptors and less heat produced and less power consumed and so on, i have only one older 80GB drive in my system and it is fairly quick.

hard drives for extra storage: you could also use an older machine if you have one and throw in some drives and use it as a file server

With the cost savings u could spend the extra money on things like beer :) 

My two cents :) 
June 5, 2007 7:17:51 PM

Quote:
I used to love gaming, and since I am in need of a hobby, I have decided to pick it back up again. My current computer is a trusty HP laptop, but oh so slow. So I've decided to built myself a gaming rig. After some homework, this is what I've decided on. Any suggestions are welcome.

Antec P180B

4x Noctua NF-S12 800RPM case fans (ripping out the Antec Tricool ones)

850W Coolermaster Real Power Pro

MSI P6N Diamond

Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600

Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler

4Gb DDR2 PC8500 at 1066MHz (4 x 1Gb, either Corsair Dominator or OCZ
Platinum or SLI)

MSI 8800GTS 320Mb (with the intention of adding a second one later)

2x 74 Gb Western Digital WD740ADFD Raptor (in RAID 0)

1x 500GB Western Digital My Book™ Premium ES Edition (using eSATA)

either the LG L226WTQ or the Samsung SM-226BW monitor

Logitech MX revolution mouse

Logitech Ultra Flat Keyboard

I'm not really on a set budget for this, but I don't want to go really crazy. The games I enjoy are Supreme Commander, Command & Conquer 3, Civilization IV, etc...

Any hints as to improve the general performance without adding too much to the cost or tips (for example, I'm wondering about my choice of PSU. I like it because it's quiet, but will it fit & do I really need 850W?)


If your going with 4 Gb's of ram make sure which ever OS your using is 64 bit (either XP-64 or Vista X 64 bit). If your using a regular XP 2 Gb's should be ample.

You say you want to add a second GTS latter, presumably to take advantage of the Sli function of the motherboard, all I'll say to this is that Sli is a waste of money. If you upgrade in year i.e add 2nd GTS, NVIDIA will have already brought a new line in GPU's, and you would better off buying one of them instead
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June 5, 2007 7:57:04 PM

Good choices overall. Wait until June 13th before buying, there could be price cuts.

Few changes though, first, 2gbs of memory should be fine, 4 gb is only usable in 64 bit OS's, or doing some mods to 32 bit OS's, which is very risky. I would go for a better cooler, either a Tuniq Tower 120, from Sunbeam, or the Thermalright Ultra 120. Finally, get a Corsair PSU, 620W, you don't need all that power, even for upgrading. The case could be changed if you had any plans on either keeping the case for a few years to come, or something, because GTX's don't fit in that case without taking out the top HD bay (even though you won't use 7HD bays lol)

Otherwise, great choices!
June 5, 2007 9:15:22 PM

And everywhere I look it says that to really get Vista going, I'll need 4 Gb.... I like the Antec P180B because it

a) looks cool
b) is quiet

That's why I'm putting in the Noctua's. I want this thing to be dead quiet, so it won't annoy me when I'm not using it and it's still on....

About adding the second GTS. I know there will be quicker cards available in 6 - 12 months, but they'll be expensive. Whereas picking up a second 8800 GTS 320 shouldn't cost me too much. And I think that if I have 2 8800 GTS 320's running in SLI (and the MSI ones I'm getting are factory overclocked to begin with) I should still be able to cope quite nicely in 6 - 12 months....

The thing about the PSU, that's where I really don't know. If you go to SLIzone, they recommend 850W if you're running 2 8800's and I really don't want to have to swop out my PSU when I put in my second GPU (especially since putting in the PSU & cabling appears to be quite a labor intensive job in the P180B).

lamboman, I'm a bit confused about your comment about the cooler. I read the reviews on X-bit labs and the Zalman CNPS 9700 was one of the best, better than the Tuniq Tower.... Could you tell me why you think the Tuniq Tower would be better for me? (I plan to use the DOT feature of the board and GPU, but as of now I'm not planning to OC massively....)
June 6, 2007 9:23:50 AM

Hmmmm...

Well, to be honest, for a stock gaming build I think its a bit unbalanced.

Case & Fans: P180 is a cracking case- really good for cooling. So I don't get why your thinking about replacing the fans from the off. Save yourself the cash- I built a stock P180 (client didnt want me to overclock their 6600 O_o)- all the fans were turned down to low and it the noise level was minimal and it remained very cool. Once built, if you disagree its an easy upgrade.

Mobo: Ive no probs with the 680- in fact its my fav chipset; but thats mainly because I overclock. For your setup, you would do equally as well with a 650. Do you need dual-gigabit ethernet ports? Do you need passive north/southbridge cooling? Do you need 10 usb ports (or can you 'make do' with 6)? Again, save the cash and spend it where it matters (see below).

MSI I dont really care for- but thats based on subjective experiences over many years. Ive heard better things of late- its your money- make your choice.

CPU & Heatsink Fan: Buying a quad core for gaming is pretty pointless at the moment (as kamkal points out). You would be far better off spending much less on the cpu- they just dont have as big an impact on gaming as the gpu. Get a core 2 duo and spend 50/60% less (around £200 in the UK) and get a E6600. And dont be afraid of overclocking- the 650/680 is a great chipset and you'll get stock Q6600 speeds and more from an overclocked C2D- its easier now than it used to be- even the manufacturers want you to overclock!.

As for the heatsink / fan- if your not going to overclock then the stock heatsink fan will do fine. And there are cheaper fans on the market even if you do want to. Again money being spent in the wrong place.

RAM: /sigh/ Again, if your not going to overclock, 1066 ram is simply too quick. 800 will be ample: 667 will suffice. And 4gb will not be used in any 32 bit OS. 4gb is the maxium addressed memory you can have, but that is for everything (so will include gpu, on-board devices, pagefile etc). 2gb will suffice usually suffice for gaming- just make sure you go with Vista 64 if not.

Hardisk: Don't get me wrong- I lover raptors: they make me happy. But they're a complete luxury item: definitely not worth the money. So buying 2 of them and running them in Raid 0 is, well, bonkers. So do yourself a favour- just buy 2 7200rpm 160gb HDs for Raid 0 (Samsung SpinT being my current fav)- or 1 raptor 150gb (in any Vista OS 74gb is going to fill up very quickly). Personally, I cant sleep at worrying about a RAID 0 array failing- so I just dont bother. Whatever money you save, spend 10 euros on a 1gb flash disk to enable in Vista. It saves you a whole 2-3 seconds at startup. Brilliant.

GPU: It looks like your getting a widescreen 22" monitor running at 1680 native res (cracking panels those 22" have as well). For gaming rigs the general advice is to get the best gpu that you can afford and then budget everything else. Here you seem to have done the opposite. Benchmarks have shown the newer games are gonna eat the onboard memory- so personally Id try and futureproof your purchase by getting a GTX or a 640mb GTS. Personally, with the money saved elsewhere, you can prob now afford the GTX and spend the same amount or less in total.

PSU: Yep, overkill. However, maybe not if you plan on sli with 2 x GTX. My advice- finalise your build then go here to calculate your requirement and then go here to choose a psu.

Not a bad build as is tho- just seems more like a high end photoshop machine rather than a gaming platform.
June 6, 2007 5:59:01 PM

Quote:
And everywhere I look it says that to really get Vista going, I'll need 4 Gb.... I like the Antec P180B because it

a) looks cool
b) is quiet

That's why I'm putting in the Noctua's. I want this thing to be dead quiet, so it won't annoy me when I'm not using it and it's still on....

About adding the second GTS. I know there will be quicker cards available in 6 - 12 months, but they'll be expensive. Whereas picking up a second 8800 GTS 320 shouldn't cost me too much. And I think that if I have 2 8800 GTS 320's running in SLI (and the MSI ones I'm getting are factory overclocked to begin with) I should still be able to cope quite nicely in 6 - 12 months....

The thing about the PSU, that's where I really don't know. If you go to SLIzone, they recommend 850W if you're running 2 8800's and I really don't want to have to swop out my PSU when I put in my second GPU (especially since putting in the PSU & cabling appears to be quite a labor intensive job in the P180B).

lamboman, I'm a bit confused about your comment about the cooler. I read the reviews on X-bit labs and the Zalman CNPS 9700 was one of the best, better than the Tuniq Tower.... Could you tell me why you think the Tuniq Tower would be better for me? (I plan to use the DOT feature of the board and GPU, but as of now I'm not planning to OC massively....)


If your gunna be playing games then you should stick to a 32-bit OS such as Windows XP Pro or Vista 32 bit for compatibility issues.

Windows XP Pro is currently the best OS to run for gaming right now. Vista 32 bit is still playing catch up. Vista has no native OpenGL support and the drivers supplied run OpenGL games in a DX viewport. Additionally, most games get better FPS in XP than in Vista. In short XP is a mature OS now while Vista is still fledgling. I mean if you are spending all that money everything should work as fast as possible.
June 19, 2007 4:27:29 PM

Quote:
Hmmmm...

Well, to be honest, for a stock gaming build I think its a bit unbalanced.

Case & Fans: P180 is a cracking case- really good for cooling. So I don't get why your thinking about replacing the fans from the off. Save yourself the cash- I built a stock P180 (client didnt want me to overclock their 6600 O_o)- all the fans were turned down to low and it the noise level was minimal and it remained very cool. Once built, if you disagree its an easy upgrade.

Mobo: Ive no probs with the 680- in fact its my fav chipset; but thats mainly because I overclock. For your setup, you would do equally as well with a 650. Do you need dual-gigabit ethernet ports? Do you need passive north/southbridge cooling? Do you need 10 usb ports (or can you 'make do' with 6)? Again, save the cash and spend it where it matters (see below).

MSI I dont really care for- but thats based on subjective experiences over many years. Ive heard better things of late- its your money- make your choice.

CPU & Heatsink Fan: Buying a quad core for gaming is pretty pointless at the moment (as kamkal points out). You would be far better off spending much less on the cpu- they just dont have as big an impact on gaming as the gpu. Get a core 2 duo and spend 50/60% less (around £200 in the UK) and get a E6600. And dont be afraid of overclocking- the 650/680 is a great chipset and you'll get stock Q6600 speeds and more from an overclocked C2D- its easier now than it used to be- even the manufacturers want you to overclock!.

As for the heatsink / fan- if your not going to overclock then the stock heatsink fan will do fine. And there are cheaper fans on the market even if you do want to. Again money being spent in the wrong place.

RAM: /sigh/ Again, if your not going to overclock, 1066 ram is simply too quick. 800 will be ample: 667 will suffice. And 4gb will not be used in any 32 bit OS. 4gb is the maxium addressed memory you can have, but that is for everything (so will include gpu, on-board devices, pagefile etc). 2gb will suffice usually suffice for gaming- just make sure you go with Vista 64 if not.

Hardisk: Don't get me wrong- I lover raptors: they make me happy. But they're a complete luxury item: definitely not worth the money. So buying 2 of them and running them in Raid 0 is, well, bonkers. So do yourself a favour- just buy 2 7200rpm 160gb HDs for Raid 0 (Samsung SpinT being my current fav)- or 1 raptor 150gb (in any Vista OS 74gb is going to fill up very quickly). Personally, I cant sleep at worrying about a RAID 0 array failing- so I just dont bother. Whatever money you save, spend 10 euros on a 1gb flash disk to enable in Vista. It saves you a whole 2-3 seconds at startup. Brilliant.

GPU: It looks like your getting a widescreen 22" monitor running at 1680 native res (cracking panels those 22" have as well). For gaming rigs the general advice is to get the best gpu that you can afford and then budget everything else. Here you seem to have done the opposite. Benchmarks have shown the newer games are gonna eat the onboard memory- so personally Id try and futureproof your purchase by getting a GTX or a 640mb GTS. Personally, with the money saved elsewhere, you can prob now afford the GTX and spend the same amount or less in total.

PSU: Yep, overkill. However, maybe not if you plan on sli with 2 x GTX. My advice- finalise your build then go here to calculate your requirement and then go here to choose a psu.

Not a bad build as is tho- just seems more like a high end photoshop machine rather than a gaming platform.


Surferosa,

Thanks very much for your input. I've changed my build a little, would you mind looking at this setup:

Antec P190 (apparently a GTX barely fits in a P180)

MSI P6N Diamond

Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600 (I'm waiting until July, so I should be able to get it for $266)

Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler

4Gb DDR2 (4 x 1Gb, probably Corsair Dominator. Can anybody explain to me how it works? Why is 1066MHz RAM overkill if the FSB runs at 1066??)

MSI 8800GTX (the ULTRA if the price comes down enough, maybe add a second one later)

2x 150 Gb Western Digital WD740ADFD Raptor (in RAID 0)

1x 500GB Western Digital My Book™ Premium ES Edition (using eSATA)

either the LG L226WTQ or the Samsung SM-226BW monitor (which one is better, the LG is cheaper....)

Logitech MX revolution mouse

Logitech Ultra Flat Keyboard

I'm planning to run Vista 64bit, so that's why I'm going for 4 Gb of RAM. The reason for that is that I expect Vista's gaming performance to match or exceed XP's fairly quickly and I don't feel like shelling out money to Microsoft twice....

The reason I'm going for the Q6600 is also futureproofing + the game I'm most interested in is Supreme Commander, which will use all 4 cores.

The Zalman cooler is because a) it's quiet b) I will be overclocking this processor by 10-15% and I would rather spent the $50 on the cooler upfront instead of frying my CPU....
June 20, 2007 7:52:18 AM

Quote:
Antec P190 (apparently a GTX barely fits in a P180)
How to make a great case not so great? Give it 2 pretty average psu's that throw out a completely unnecessary 1200w and change the side panels so they dont have a nice finish. Oh, and charge 3 times as much for it. Your original choice will be fine (the GTX fits). And you can get a much better psu for the money. Back to the drawing board.

Quote:
Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600 (I'm waiting until July, so I should be able to get it for $266) & Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler
My original comments still stand: if you were trying to save money (which Im beginning to doubt looking at your choices elsewhere), this would be on my list. Quads are not currently used for gaming- (hell, come to that, the 2nd core of my E6600 sits there doing pretty much nothing most of the time)- but, when they are, I'll get one. Probably for half what you paid for it. So stick with the quad if you really can afford it- if youd like to save money step down to the E6600. Simple as.

Quote:
4Gb DDR2 (4 x 1Gb, probably Corsair Dominator. Can anybody explain to me how it works? Why is 1066MHz RAM overkill if the FSB runs at 1066??)
If your looking to overclock 10-15% you certainly wont need this ram. To give you an idea, check out my rig. With the much cheaper XMS2 6400 Ive still managed to get my E6600 exceeding what your quad will perform at. Maybe if your were buying the cheapest C2D processor and wanted the highest possible overclock you'd get this ram- but otherwise your never going to get near to the point where your ram needs heatspreaders on them (ie Dominator).

Quote:
MSI 8800GTX (the ULTRA if the price comes down enough, maybe add a second one later)
Yeaaa. The GTX will make you happy. Steer clear of the ULTRA unless you have recentely won the lottery- it is not worth the extra money for a minimal step up in performance.

Quote:
2x 150 Gb Western Digital WD740ADFD Raptor (in RAID 0)
1x 500GB Western Digital My Book™ Premium ES Edition (using eSATA)
/sigh. Okay. Your money dude. Whatever. Original comments still stand.

Quote:
either the LG L226WTQ or the Samsung SM-226BW monitor (which one is better, the LG is cheaper....)
There ya go again :roll: Your throwing money around like confetti on things ya don't really need (Quad cores, Dominator ram, raptor raid arrays)- and when it comes to the big lump of glass your gonna be staring at all day you want to save some dosh. Samsung's have made great monitors for a while now- the 226BW looks to be a cracker.

Quote:
I'm planning to run Vista 64bit, so that's why I'm going for 4 Gb of RAM. The reason for that is that I expect Vista's gaming performance to match or exceed XP's fairly quickly and I don't feel like shelling out money to Microsoft twice....
Well, Kamkal's comments about gaming and OS are accurate: XP is better than Vista, and 32 bit more compliant than 64 bit. However, Im running Vista 64 (well, stictly speaking Im running dual-boot, but, meh) and I havent had any gaming compliance issues to report. Games played? CS Source, TC Vegas, Med 2 Tot War, Eve Online, WOW, Civ4, Oblivion. So, if I had to buy one OS now, Id probably choose Vista 64- just be aware that there is always the risk that you wont be able to run something you want (especially the older titles).

Listen- your build is now fine. Everything will work- it'll be very quick and you'll be a happy man. But, you're spending a lot more money than you need to. So if you can afford it all, then press the button- but if the total amount your spending is a little higher than you wanted, then you have quite a few avenues to save money and still come out with a top-end gaming rig.
June 20, 2007 12:48:26 PM

Ok,

I've taken all the comments here to heart and this is what I've decided on:

Antec P182

Corsair CMPSU-620HXUK PSU (according to the eXtreme Power Supply Calculator, I should still be able to put in a second 8800GTX with this PSU)

MSI P6N Diamond

Intel Core 2 E6750 (comes out in July, I think)

Zalman CNPS9700-NT nVidia Tritium Super Aero Flower Cooler

4Gb DDR2 1066MHz (OCZ Platinum)

MSI 8800GTX OC edition

2x 150 Gb Western Digital Raptor (in RAID 0)

1x 500GB Western Digital My Book™ Premium ES Edition (I already have this)

Samsung SM-226BW monitor

Logitech MX revolution mouse

Logitech Ultra Flat Keyboard
June 20, 2007 1:20:46 PM

I love my Quad core... I transcoded and burned a DVD from a DivX movie last night in 38 minutes... Down from 4+ hours with my former Dual core machine.

I also like to run with several apps open sometimes simply out of laziness, but I can do it no sweat with multiple cores running.

I wanted to run my OS (vista) from a RAID 0, but decided against it after reading all the "Need Help" threads from people trying to run Vista on a RAID 0. I use a single Raptor 10K 150Gig and it does the job nicely.

I use 4 - 250gig HDDs in a RAID 0 for my D: drive... I think it makes more sense to do it that way... you don't want your system bogged down in any way... finding a balance is a good idea.

You made the decision to go with the 8800 GTX... thats a good idea if you can afford it. The difference in performance from the standard model and the Ultra is dwarfed by the tremendous heat increase you will have from the Ultra. The 8800 just runs HOT!

I would also suggest looking at the G.Skill Ram choices... I have used them now in 2 builds and have yet to be disappointed... I used Corsair the build prior and after taking them out for a while they just died on my desk... that kind of turned my stomach towards them... Just FYI :wink:

Over all some really good choices on your part and the E6750 will be great I am sure... just know that the quad is still an exceptional little CPU workhorse IMHO.
!