Advice for First Time Builders first gaming build

Greetings all,

I was hoping that I could get some help and advice from the experienced system builders here. I am currently in the process of ordering the parts for my first system build (Unless, of course, the wife changes her mind and pulls the plug on me before I I better be quick :) ).

I'm looking to build a new gaming system and would really appreciate it if anyone reading this could take a look at my goals and part selections, and let me know if it looks like I've made solid choices that will meet my goals.

First off, this is to be a gaming system so, as a goal, performance is a given. I'm planning on running dual nVidia 8800 Ultra cards in SLI. I want to build the system around the Q6600. I'm not planning to overclock right away (As this is my first build...I just want to get THAT right before I go playing mad-scientist with overclocking). However, I do eventually plan a mild or moderate overclock so I've accounted for that in my build...and plan to order parts to facilitate cooling and such. I'd prefer to stick with air cooling, as I don't feel that I'm ready to tackle any sort of water-cooling yet, and I also don't plan on 'pushing' any overclocks on the Q6600 very far.

Another very important goal for me is 'ease' of build for a first-time builder...while still having the parts available for me to 'tweak' as I learn more. This goal is especially so with regards to the case, I've read many reviews now about different cases...and it seems to me that for a first-time builder...the 'ease' of working inside a case and the room available really can go a long way to making a build easier or harder. So I'd like a 'large' case with plenty of room to fit the dual 8800 Ultras and heatpipe CPU cooler, plenty of good airflow, and 'ease' of working inside of to make this first build go as smooth as possible.

Below is my 'shopping list'. Below the shopping list I'll add any notes as to why I chose those parts. Where letters are listed (A, B, C, etc)...those indicate 'choices' and I have not determined/am unsure of which choice is the best for my build.

A) CoolerMaster Stacker 830 Evolution
B) CoolerMaster Stacker 832 Evolution
C) Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 GZ-FA1CA-ASB

A) Enermax Galaxy EGX1000 FWL ATX12V/EPS12V/BTX 1000W
B) Tagan TG1100-U96 ATX12V/EPS12V 1100 Watt
C) ThermalTake Toughpower W0133RM 1200W Cable Management ATX12V/EPS12V Nvidia SLI Cert

EVGA 122-CK-NF68-A1 nVidia nForce 680i SLI

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4 Ghz LGA 775

CPU Cooling:
ThermalRight Ultra-120 Extreme with
Scythe S-Flex SFF21F 120mm Fan

2 or 4 GB (Not sure which yet) Corsair XMS2 (2x1GB) 240 Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)

(dual in SLI) EVGA 768-P2-N881-AR GeForce 8800 Ultra 768MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP

A) (Dual coolers, 1 for each SLI Card) ThermalRight HR-03 Plus VGA Cooler

A) Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150 GB, 10000 RPM, Serial ATA 150
B) Seagate Barracude 7200.10 ST3320620AS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0 GB/s

A) Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
B) Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional Series

LITE-ON 20x DVD +/- R DVD Burner with Lightscribe

Windows Vista Ultimate 32-Bit, I'm considering dual-boot with Vista + Windows XP Pro

That should about cover it.

As for the cases, in my own research, the 3 cases I've chosen were reported to be large and room, easy to work in, good airflow, and kept parts cool. I was initially planning on the Gigabyte 570 case, however, after talking to ThermalRight support I've discovered that the Gigabyte 570 case will only fit with the mesh door (A mesh door or clear plastic door is provided). It will not fit with the clear plastic door & blow hole. ThermalRight support also suggested that the Gigabyte 570 Hard Drive cage might get in the way of adequate airflow for the dual 8800 Ultra cards. They suggested the CoolerMaster Stacker 830 or 832. I originally though that the Gigabyte 570 would be a solid choice, but after reviewing the information on the CoolerMaster choices...they seem really great. The CoolerMaster seems to have a TON of fan seems that alot of users don't use that tray thingie that holds 4 120mm fans. Maybe that many fans is overkill. So, at this point, I'm not sure WHICH case would be the best ticket for me...and IF the best choice is the coolermaster...whether I should use that tray thingie and fill it up with fans. Any opinion anyone has on the case selection for a first time builder with my above parts list would be great!

As for the choices for those are based on the reviews, user opinions, and research on the net and magazines. They appear to be solid choices. The Tagan unit has been reported to be a bit loud though, and doesn't have the modular cables. I've read alot of good things about the Enermax that might be the way to go for me. I've also read alot of good things about the ThermalTake 1200W. The only 'negatives' I've heard about it is the sheer size....however...I'm getting a very large case so hopfully size wouldn't be an issue. The other 'negative' is price...the ThermalTake is quite a bit more expensive than the Enermax and I might not need the 1200 Watt ThermalTake versus the 1000 Watt Enermax.

As for memory...I did the best I could to make a good selection there. I'm not overclocking this system right away, but I would eventually like to put a small or moderate overclock on the FSB. As I understand it...I'll need better memory for that. I've selected 1066 Mhz memory for that reason. I've been reading about overclocking the FSB and its relation to memory I'm hoping I made a solid choice. I haven't decided if I want to go with 4 GB memory right away...or just 2 GB. I remember reading something about Vista 32-Bit not utilizing the 4GB maybe it would be a waste.

As for video cards...I'd like to pick up the 8800 Ultra's in SLI. I read alot of folks talking about 'heat' out of the 8800 series cards so I thought perhaps the VGA coolers would help that. The units I've selected seem to get very good reviews. I'm concerned about having 'room' to fit them though...or if they'll really be necessary.

As for the Hard seems like the Raptor is the way to go for performance....I can get by with only 150 GB and I'm not overly worried about it being a bit noisier than another HD choice. However...I am a bit concerned that it might be overkill and I'd be better off with the Seagate unit.

As for sound card...thats a toss up. I'm positive that I want to go with a Creative X-Fi based unit and I've read alot about driver problems with Windows Vista. I'm not going to worry too much about that for now, as sooner or later I think they'll get the driver problems worked out. In choosing between the two models seems the only difference is that the more expensive model has XRAM and 192 Sampling rate...while the 'base' model has a 96 Sampling rate and no XRAM. I'm not worried about XRAM as the game would have to be developed to utilize it anyway. The sampling rate...I have NO idea whether I'd notice the difference between 192 and 96 or not. I also noticed that the 'base' unit is a smaller card...which might fit better in the case with all the other stuff.

Well...thats it...any help, advice, opinions, or observations would be greatly appreciated.

4 answers Last reply
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  1. Hi! Small World as I'm building a very similar system -I am also a noob, but will have experienced pal help me out building it.

    I would choose the 832 stacker as it's slightly larger then the 830 and it looks like you will need every inch.

    I'm going with the Tagan 1100 Power supply myself as the reviews looked pretty good - wires were well insulated and longer (so says the owners) etc.. (Hope its enough power for 2 Ultras and that motherboard - 1100 shouldnt be a problem)

    I'm also going with the 6600 as my pal was telling me the 6700 isn't that much better for $500.00

    I chose the ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - it seems to have better reviews and less problems then the Striker series from what Ive read and there is no real gains either going with the Striker Extreme. There are so many positive/negative remarks that its a toss up of getting a DOA board or something no matter what brand

    (4)Gigs of Ram for me on Vista Ultimate - Also choosing 32 bit install then I will move to 64 when they release the first service pack.

    I originally had the Asus 8800 Ultra Cards picked out (in case any strange motherboard problems occur) but opted for the XFX PVT80USHD9 GeForce 8800Ultra 768MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP RoHS Dual DVI XXX Video Card which seems to have a higher core clock setting out of the gate.

    Here is the system I have picked out - all I have to do is hit the Check Out Button:

    - COOLER MASTER Stacker RC-832-KKN1-GP Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case

    - Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80562Q6600

    - ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard

    - (2) XFX PVT80USHD9 GeForce 8800Ultra 768MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP RoHS Dual DVI XXX Video Card

    - (2) OCZ Titanium 1T 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) EPP Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2T8002GK

    - Tagan TG1100-U96 ATX12V / EPS12V 1100 Watts Power Supply

    - (2) Dell 2407 UltraSharp 24" Wide DVI 6ms 9-in-2 Card Reader 3-year Advance Exchange 4 USB 2.0 PortsAdjustable Stand

    - Seagate Barracuda ES ST3750640NS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

    - Sony NEC Optiarc Combo Drive Black IDE Model CRX320EE/B2S W/O SW

    - SUPER TALENT INT-AIN1-C All-in-one USB 2.0 Card Reader

    - Logitech Media Elite 967559-0403 Black USB + PS/2 Wired Standard Keyboard

    - Logitech G3 931691-0403 2-Tone 5 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Wired Laser Mouse

    - Genius SP-i350 10 watts 2.0 Black Expert Speakers for MP3 & NB

    - WACOM Intuos3 PTZ630 6" x 8" Active Area USB Tablet - Retail

    - Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate DVD (Full)

    - Microsoft Office Standard 2007 (Full)

    - ESET NOD32 Anti-Virus - Retail

    - (6) Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D 120mm Case Fan - Retail

    - ZEROtherm BTF90 92mm Silent UFO CPU Cooler - Retail

    - Arctic Silver Ceramique Thermal Compound

    Total is around $5,200.00 - Not bad considering one of those XPS Watercooled Dell machines run into 6-7k Range
  2. Also according to the specs on those thermal coolers won't work for Ultra 8800's - they seem to be made for the GTX models
  3. First off; please please please don't waste your money on the ultras - get factory OC'd GTX instead; they will OC within a couple dozen Mhz of an ultra if you really want that extra power; and they cost 100+ dollars less

    Use the money on a better CPU; which you desperately need to not bottleneck that kind of graphics power - QX6800 is beautiful for that, and it has an unlocked multiplier for when you do get into OCing

    Get dual Raptors, and Raid 0 them for performance, for storage; if your budget really is unlimited (and it seems that way from your choice of GPUs) check out the new high capacity Western Digitals; they are really quick too

    everything else looks nice; i dont know much about Nvidia chipsets- not too interested in SLI myself
  4. If you are gonna dual boot, then buy Vista 64-bit - I know that there are driver issues - hence the dual booting anyhow.

    Also, get 2 x 2Gb sticks - more upgradeability.

    I agree about the 8800 Ultras - A WASTE OF MONEY. What screen will you be using? Anything less than, I believe, 1920x1200 resolution does NOT require Sli (someone correct me if I'm wrong). A single 8800GTX will suffice, unless you are unsatisfied with the performance.

    EDIT: Use these charts to make your decision about the GPU(s): del2=707&chart=298
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