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First Computer Custom Build

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June 12, 2007 5:35:38 PM

My budget is from £600 - £800 aka about $1200 - $1600.

Im trying to a buy a PC I can use for top range gaming, this system obviously wont be a super duper one with all the latest gadgets costing hundreds and hundreds and making not too much of a difference, but ive put a lot of thought into it and decided its got the best things to use.


Case
Antec Nine Hundred
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/118268

Pretty much THE best case fo rmoney I've seen so far. 5x 120mm fan slots and a big 200mm fan slot on top, will be quite loud but loud doesnt bother me. Lots of cooling.

Motherboard
XFX 680I LT edition SLI Intel Socket 775 Nvidia motherboard ATX
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/126437

I dont plan on using SLI cards at the moment but in future if I ever need mroe graphic power I can just buy another card rather than buy another totally new one. This MB also has all the features I'd ever need.

CPU
Q6600 Quad Core
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/124869

Obviously like a lot of people, waiting for the price cuts on it in July. Theres a lot of games that dont use the 4 cores at the moment but since its essentially 2x 6600's it should still easily be able to play games well if it uses just two. SUpreme commander is also a game I like to play a lot which seems to use them, so thats an advantage.

Hard Drives
3x Western Digital WD2500KS 250GB 7200RPM SATAII/300 16MB Cache Hard Drive
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/94403/product_info/rb/0

1x WD Raptor WD360ADFD 36GB SATA 10KRPM 16MB Cache
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/115410

Hard Drives were actually the hardest thing I had to choose from, since there were so many options.

In the end, I've chosed 3x 250gb ones to put into raid 5, I believe its called, so it increases the speed and losing 1 disk wont lose me the option to use my data, since 2 have to fail to lose it.

And the raptor is for installing windows on, to get a bit of a faster load time. I wasn't quite sure if it was nessessary but from what I've read, installing windows on 1 smaller faster drive gets better results then a few bigger drives.

Memory
Corsair 2GB Kit (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5(5-5-5-12) Heat Spreader
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/98710

2gigabyte seems to be all I need, since Ill just be using XP for a few months, until service pack 1 for Vista HOPEFULLY comes out, then I can just buy another 2gigabyte with slightly reduced prices. This memory isnt much more expensive than the lower models but is a lot cheaper than higher ones than it, so it seems the logical choice.

DVD RW
LiteOn 20X SATA DVD±RW/RAM
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/127442

Seems to be cheap and fast, which is perfect.

CPU Cooler
Zalman FS-C77
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/108406

Looks like a nice and effective cooler and it SHOULD fit on the other things im purchasing. I want to keep the quad for a long time and possibly overclock it if I need some extra performance, although ill doubt any extra is **really** needed on a quad core for a long time.

**Extra performance is never a bad thing but it could cause bad things such as warenty void or problems, not worth it for me as it wont do too much anyway**

Cooling
2x Antec SmartCool 120mm Case Fan
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/54151

Since the case comes with 3/5 slots used seems logical to buy the extra 2 fans to get tis performance up to its best.

Graphics
BFG 8800 GTS OC 320MB DDR3 DVI PCI-E Graphics Card
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/125183

On price and performance the 320mb version of the 8800gts is still king. And no I cant just spend another 40 - 60quid to get a bit of extra memory :) 

PSU
Antec TruePower Trio 650W PSU - With 3x 12v Rails and 120mm Fan
http://www.ebuyer.com/UK/product/114933/product_info

SLI certified so seems the logical choice. I used the PSU calc (http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculator.jsp) and it seems to be able to handle anything I plan to put in my system.

And I think thats about it. The actual price of all those comes over £900 I think but by the time I buy them the price cut has taken place on the quad core, all the other things will likely be marginally down in price. I think it would come out to around £700 if I do it right.



Im open to complete suggestions, since im not an expert with all this.

One thing I was worried about, is that both the CPU cooler and graphics card are said to be both very large, and I was worried that they may not fit into the case, although one should not get in the way of the other.

The case on reveiws is said to be very large but if anyone actually has any confirmation on whether they would fit or not, especially the 8800gts, taht would be great, thanks a lot.

More about : computer custom build

June 12, 2007 6:51:43 PM

You should get a P35 mobo, not a 680i, that is what I have learned :) 
June 12, 2007 7:16:50 PM

Unfortunatly that motherboard doesnt support SLI, unless the benefits outweigh that??

Any reason why that board is more worth it?
Related resources
June 12, 2007 8:34:06 PM

A few recommendations:

1. RAID 5 is good but do NOT use the motherboard's onboard RAID 5. All motherboard-based RAID 5 I've seen sucks. I got 20 MB/sec write speeds and 60 MB/sec read speeds with the 3 2500KSes in motherboard SATA port RAID 5. Get yourself a discrete PCIe x4 or x8 RAID controller like HighPoint's 4-port PCIe x4 RocketRAID 2310. It cost $140 but now my 3 2500KSes put through 60 MB/sec writes and 130 MB/sec reads in RAID 5, which is the maximum of the drives. Get the SLi board and put the RAID card in one of the x16 slots. It works; I've done it.

2. The Raptor is a good idea, if for nothing else that the fact that having the OS on a drive that's not in the RAID will vastly simplify installation. I have a 74 GB Raptor as my OS's drive and my /home is on the RAID 5. You might want the 74 GB version as Vista itself consumes 15 GB of space, the pagefile will take 1.5 GB RAM, leaving only about 18 GB for applications. Since you game, this is a handful of games. The 74 GB unit will have plenty of room.

3. If you're thinking of running Vista 64-bit, get 2 2GB sticks of DDR2-667 now. Most memory controllers outside of servers don't like four sticks very much and will at the least run them at 2T command rate than the faster 1T rate. And get the -667 rather than the -800 as you'll never even come close to using the bandwidth that the 800 provides. The Q6600 at stock is synchronous with DDR2-533 in dual-channel, but the -667 is generally the same price and will give you headroom to OC if you choose to. DDR2-667 can drive the CPU up to 3.00 GHz without overclocking the RAM- that ought to be plenty.

One thing that I did not see is a monitor. I always suggest a good, large, high-resolution LCD or two to round out a build. CPUs and GPUs become quickly obsolete, but a good monitor will stick with you for some time, so it makes more sense to spend a little more there than on other parts. I'm also a big fan of multi-head displays, too. They don't do much for gaming, but for real work, they're a godsend.
June 12, 2007 9:01:29 PM

I don't recommend sli.

Here's the thing. For most people (it may be different for you) by the time they have enough money to buy another graphics card for sli'ing their previous one, that card is obsolete/not worth getting because of the new cards.

I agree with MU_Engineer about the RAID 5.

Antec has been failing in the reliability department recently....

Everything else seems fine to me.
June 12, 2007 9:16:08 PM

SLi itself is dumb, but an SLi board isn't necessarily so dumb. A SLi-capable board is simply one with two physical PCIe x16 slots with either 2 x16 or Unless you buy an expensive server board, no motherboards that are not CrossFire or SLi-capable have more than a single x16 slot and then a few x1s or an x4 with less than 4 electrical lanes of service. Since there's not that much price difference between a decent non-SLi/CF board and a SLi/CF board, I'd spring for the SLi/CF one and its extra PCIe lanes any day.

I run an NF4-SLi board with a single ATi Radeon x1900 in the second slot and a PCie x4 RAID controller in the top one. If I'd gotten a standard board, I could not have used a PCIe x4 RAID controller card and this would have had a bottleneck effect on the RAID array. It's now not possible to bottleneck it as there's no way that four drives can saturate 1 GB/sec bidirectional bandwidth, but four average drives CAN saturate a single 250 MB/sec PCIe lane.
June 12, 2007 9:51:49 PM

Very good advice, thanks.

The ram thing. Thanks for that advice. I did actually look into 2x 2gb sticks beforehand, but, they seemed rare and expensive. Then again for the potential you get to upgrade to 8gb at a later date is very good.

Just looking into it now I found one that matched what you suggested. Here.
Im definatly considering it and it may be worth it to upgrade to a 64bit Vista Premium, which I do actually have available to me, early.
There is however a pc2-6400 version of corsair, Here. For only an extra £10, theres a bit heatsink on it, which looks quite promising. And as far as I know corsair is supposidly better than OCZ.

That thing about the raid card could of just saved my life. Thanks a bunch.

The SLI card upgrade.. well.. the 8800gts marks a whole new in GPU tech because it supportes DX10. As far as i know when the right drivers come out like a lot of other SLI's it could near- double performance. In the future one 8800gts wont match a top noche card.. however 2 may come closer and buying just 1 at that point will be a lot less than a whole new up to date card, if you see where im coming from. Atleast thats the logic I use to look at it.

generally though im super happy with the positive comments, took me a long long while to decide what I was going to get, being no a budget means ya gotta sacrifice some things for others hehe.

EDIT: I also plan on getting a floppy disk drive.. lols

EDIT2: AFter looking how much some of these pcix4 raid cards cost for raid5 capability, IE £100+, im not sure its what I want anymore. Would give great performance but that along with 4hd's would just be too much.

Im considering the same harddrives, but only 2 put into raid0 using the motherboard or possibly a cheapish raid card. Any recomendations?
June 13, 2007 3:34:55 AM

The RAID 5 is really what you want as it's almost as fast as RAID 0 in reads but has redundancy. If a drive dies, the array will act slowly but all of your data's still there. Pop in a new drive and then it's back. A dead HDD in a RAID 0 means that everything is totally lost. And the fact that there are multiple HDDs in a RAID 0 means that the failure probability is higher than just with one drive, which is not good.

I personally like RAID 5 as I feel that it gives the best performance-to-disk-utilization ratio of the RAID levels that use less than a half-dozen or more disks. You only lose one disk's worth of space with RAID 5 versus half the total disk space as with most other methods (RAID 1+0 or 0+1.) That comes at the expense of requiring the computer or RAID card to compute the parity of the data and a bunch of I/O traffic. RAID 1 is a simple mirror and RAID 0 is a simple stripe and a motherboard's onboard RAID can generally do RAID 0 or 1 acceptably, but will choke on RAID 5. That's why external cards on high-bandwidth buses are used for RAID 5.

If you want to run two HDDs in an array, make it RAID 1 to hold your data. RAID 1 wastes more disk space as a percentage than RAID 5 does, but it at least gives you redundancy when a disk drive dies. Notice I said "when" and not "if" because you WILL see a dead HDD sooner or later, it's pretty much inevitable. You can likely do fine with RAID 1 from the motherboard's onboard SATA ports and be fine. The little $20 RAID cards are pretty much the same thing that's found on the motherboard anyway. It's not until the 4+ port PCI-X/PCIe cards until they get much different than what's onboard.
June 13, 2007 2:43:45 PM

Quote:
Unfortunatly that motherboard doesnt support SLI, unless the benefits outweigh that??

Any reason why that board is more worth it?

It is futureproof, very futureproof. There is DDR3 and DDR2 memory slots on that board, along with 45nm cpu support, plus the chipset is a very stable one.
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