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New System - buying asap - long overdue upgrade

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November 4, 2007 10:55:23 AM

Hi,
I'm long overdue for a new system. I built my last one in Jan 2003 with lots of help from Tom's ! All I've done since then is upgrade the video card (twice) and add larger HDDs. It is OC'd to 2.6 GHz and has been rock solid running 100% CPU 24/7 (UD/WCG) which is why I'm kept it almost 5 years - a testament to the great advice here. Hopefully that's enough flattery to ensure some good replies :)  ! With the Eve-Online Revelations III and Trinity upgrade I need something better and want to buy immediately so I can get it built on time.

Please critique - I haven't kept up with the hardware scene that closely since I built my current one and have been on a crash course :)  ! I started with the mid-range Tom's build and made some changes but things change so suggest away.

Current System
  • Pentium4 2.4B GHz
  • Gigabyte GA-8INXP Granite Bay Chipset (E7205)
  • Corsair 1GB PC-3200C2 Matched DDR-400-SDRAM
  • nVIDIA GeForce3 Ti200 to ATI Radeon 9600 Pro to ATI Radeon X850 XT
  • Antec TRUE380 ATX 380W Power Supply
  • Swifttech Heatsink with fan
  • Western Digital Caviar SE WD1200JB 120GB 7200 RPM IDE Ultra ATA100 HDD
  • Western Digital Caviar SE 250 GB HDD
  • Seagate 500GB SATA HDD
  • CDRW
  • DVD-ROM
  • Modem 56k
  • Ahanix Platinum Case
  • Samsung 19" LCD Monitor 191T SILVER RTL
  • Microsoft WINDOWS XP PROFESSIONAL

    New System - NewEgg Prices - after rebates
    Gaming - World Community Grid - Office Apps esp Excel - light programming Python & VB in Visual Studio 2003 - Email - Web - running multiple apps at the same time
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80562Q6600 - Retail - $280
  • MSI P35 Platinum LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $125
  • Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB(4 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Quad Kit Desktop Memory Model PDC24G6400LLQK - Retail - $130 - change to 4GB(2 x 2GB) for $160
  • nVIDIA 8800GT - first one I can find that I can order - $280
  • AeroCool ZERODBA ZERODBA-S620 EPS 12V & ATX 12V 2.02 compliant with Powerful Dual +12V Rails 620W Power Supply - $125 - change to Silverstone ST50EF-Pus 500W for $100
  • Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme CPU Cooler - Retail - $65 - or Zalman 9700LED for $65?
  • Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120mm Case Fan - Retail - $25 - not needed with the Zalmna
  • Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM - $185 - drop
  • Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $180
  • Sony NEC Optiarc 18X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM Write Black SATA Model AD-7170S-0B - OEM - $32
  • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $90
  • Westinghouse L2410NM Glossy Black 24" 8ms Widescreen LCD Monitor - Retail - $360 - better option?
  • Microsoft Windows Vista 64-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM - $112

    Total $1989 - will change but it would be nice to stay <$2,000

    You know my 19" LCD was almost $800 in the first system and the 24" LCD above is $360 . . . how times change!
    November 4, 2007 12:09:22 PM

    World Community Grid is a folding project? Quad it is. Heck, you can probably run all those tasks at the same time with Q6600.

    I'm not gonna comment on good parts. The psu is a question mark. I'd get something in tier 1/2. 500w is enough for this build:

    http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Tiered+PSU+Listings?t=anon
    November 4, 2007 12:27:34 PM

    please dont cheap out on the powersupply... look into some brand names
    Related resources
    November 4, 2007 1:08:19 PM

    All the parts in your system list are good picks by themselves - with the possible exception of the Westinghouse monitor. It's quality and performance doesnt match the rest of your parts. L2410NM review
    The Aerocool PSU may not be a top tier part but it's acceptable quality. But you can get it for $109 shipping included @ ZipZoomFly instead of the $134 with shipping at NewEgg. ZERODBA-S620 review

    With a 24" LCD monitor and its 19x12 resolution the 8800GT will struggle a bit with some of latest games when the highest quality settings are used. As long as you know that going in and are OK with rolling back the game quality just a bit you'll be getting good performance. Crysis Demo Benchmark

    I'd like to see you drop the WD Raptor X (the WD Caviar WD7500AAKS is just about as fast) and use that $185 to upgrade your 24" monitor choice. Samsung 245BW $450 would be a better choice (review here).

    Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB(4 x 1GB) is a good choice but I'd suggest the 4GB (2x2GB) option. It's only $30 more.

    The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme is a great HSF but with your case & motherboard choice why not get the Zalman 9700LED $65 It matches your MB & case's copper and blue theme. (And it cools really good too).







    November 4, 2007 1:11:49 PM

    Thanks for the PSU advice. I looked at the wiki and was surprised to find the mid-range system PSU in Tier 4 ! The only reviews I could find on Tom's were related to energy efficiency which is important to me anyway. Top marks went to the Silverstone ST50EF-Plus for efficiency, it's 500W, Tier 2 and $100 on NewEgg.

    I also looked at Anandtech's October 2007 mid-range gaming PSU, the Corsair CMPSU-520HX which is $115 on NewEgg but it isn't >80% efficient certified.

    Both are cheaper than the Aerocool, so the Silverstone is in and the Aerocool is out.

    Any other comments?
    November 4, 2007 2:26:43 PM

    WR2 - great reply :) 

    Video Card.
    Point taken about the high res with demanding games, however I've found that video cards go out of date faster than anything else on a gaming computer so I never go for the bleeding edge. I'll live with slightly reduced settings if my FPS starts to hurt and watch for the next release of cards Christmas 2008 :) . To improve on the 8800GT requires spending twice the amount at the moment.

    RAM.
    Good point - I was torn when choosing but the 2x2 allows me to upgrade to 8GB. I'll switch to the 2x2 option.

    Heatsink/Cooler.
    The Zalman does look good and has much better reviews on NewEgg. It's also slightly cheaper, however it's hard to ignore the glowing review on Anandtech for the Thermalright. I'm going to have to look for some pictures of it in action to see if the looks make it worth the switch.

    HD.
    I knew the Raptor would be a negligible gain and in hindsight I agree that dropping it and spending the extra on the LCD is a good choice.

    LCD.
    Thanks for the review links. After reading them I don't like any of them LOL. The 245BW shortcomings are poor viewing angle, slow response (bad for games) and poor dark/black quality (bad for space games). The 244T and 245T and much more expensive... I'm a little stuck here - more research needed I think. I have been very happy with my 19" Samsung Syncmaster so I am leaning towards a Samsung.
    November 4, 2007 4:06:24 PM

    zebedee said:
    so the Silverstone is in and the Aerocool is out.
    For the same price as the ST50 EF you can get the Silverstone Zeus ST650ZF ($99 after weekend only discount and $20 rebate) It might be worth jumping on that tonight. Its not 80% efficient which is the only drawback.
    ST650ZF reviews listed here Because the TomsWiki PSU recommendations aren't being updated I've been watching the JonnyGuru website that reviews and recommends PSUs in the High End Gaming and High Efficiency categories.

    Without jumping into the +$600 range (Dell UltraSharp 2407WFP $690 or SAMSUNG 244t $660) it may be that the Samsung 245 is "good enough". Otherwise you're looking at the better 22" widescreens in the $350-$400 range. (which by the way will make the 8800GT seem like a more powerful video card). I'm of the same mind as your "dial back" the quality" settings till you're happy with performance. Usually dropping from Ultra High to High, or adjusting a couple graphics options can make a big improvement without sacrificing a great gaming experiance.

    There is no doubt the Thermalright has superior thermal advantages but the 9700 will keep the Q6600 @ 3.2Ghz under 55C which is not shabby at all. Especially with Q6600s (vs dual cores or Extreme Edition CPUs) almost no one is able to use that extra 10-15% performance. At the extreme edge of OC envelopes motherboard component cooling starts to be the limiting factor vs CPU cooling anyway. If you're not going after extreme overclocking (>~ 3.5Ghz 24/7) the 9700 should be plenty of cooling.







    November 4, 2007 5:30:01 PM

    WR2 said:
    The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme is a great HSF but with your case & motherboard choice why not get the Zalman 9700LED $65 It matches your MB & case's copper and blue theme. (And it cools really good too).



    :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  You'd actually pick a cooler based on its color???
    Then how about that cute butterfly-shaped cooler from ZeroTherm?
    http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?i=3062
    November 4, 2007 5:47:56 PM

    zebedee said:

  • MSI P35 Platinum LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $125
  • Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme CPU Cooler - Retail - $65 - or Zalman 9700LED for $65?
  • Sony NEC Optiarc 18X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM Write Black SATA Model AD-7170S-0B - OEM - $32


  • I wouldn't buy an MSI mobo. Look at Asus P5K, Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3R or aBit IP35 Pro.

    Cooler: if you're serious about OC-ing get the Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme. Yes, you'll pay $25 more for the fan, but it will be quieter under load than most other solutions (e.g. 7 dB less on high than the Zalman on high). With an SFF21E it will be even quieter.
    http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?i=3062&p=5
    http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?i=2943&p=3
    If you don't intend to OC much, or at all, you could get the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro for $20, or nothing at all. The Freezer is quiet and easy to install, it just won't let you OC as high as the more expensive coolers.

    Burner: Samsung SH203B is better. I also like LG burners. Plextor is the best but expensive. Also, some Plextor models are relabeled Optiarc's and should be avoided IMO.

    I'm really not sure about Westinghouse. The price is excellent, true. Find some reviews...
    November 4, 2007 6:24:05 PM

    aevm said:
    You'd actually pick a cooler based on its color???
    Then how about that cute butterfly-shaped cooler from ZeroTherm?
    http://anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.aspx?i=3062
    aevm is almost right. The ZeroTherm BTF90 would be a good option to add a little \"bling\" to your case except that it has a red LED instead of the blue LED of the case. It's also a great price @ $30 after discount and rebate.

    Once you meet your technical requirements (cooling performance in this case) there's nothing wrong with considering aesthetics in finalizing your choice.



    November 4, 2007 6:35:03 PM

    I have a Asus P5k-V and i o/ced my q6600 to 3.0/1333 stock voltage and its sable as hell. and its very fast might i add. :p 
    November 4, 2007 8:26:55 PM

    killz86 -- what cooler did you use ?
    November 4, 2007 9:34:48 PM

    I second the other mobo recommendations. However, it's not like MSI P35 will blow up your pc the moment you power it up.

    Also, I would not touch Zalman again: #1 expensive for the high-end ones; #2 loud at full blast. You o/c, you set the fan at full speed or your o/c will be limited by the cooling. TR U120E would be the one I get. Or if you spend less, get this + 2 120mm fans:

    http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
    November 4, 2007 10:17:14 PM

    Hi,
    OK - after weighing all the advice and reading many more reviews & looking at specs, I've altered the list a bit. Thanks to everyone who's offered advice.

    The major changes are switching the PSU to the PCP&C Silencer 610 (The Silverstone ST50EF-Plus was tempting at 87% energy efficiency but the PCP&C is still great at 83%), the mobo to a GA-P35-DS3R (performs similarly to the MSI and my last board was Gigabyte and stills runs like a champ) and dropping the Raptor. I haven't found a decent replacement for the Westinghouse 24" LCD and at $360 it's hard to argue. I still have my Samsung 19" Syncmaster 191T to fall back on. I'm still open to suggestions on the LCD but I'm happy with the rest now. I've read a lot more 24" reviews and the Samsung 245BW seems an OK choice some someone who wants 24" with 1920x1200 on a budget, so it's in the list and the Westinghouse is out.

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80562Q6600 - Retail - $280
  • GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3R LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $130
  • Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PDC24G6400ELK - Retail - $160
  • nVIDIA 8800GT - first one I can find that I can order - $280
  • PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610 EPS12V EPS12V 610W Continuous @ 40°C Power Supply - Retail - $130 ($120 from PCP&C Direct)
  • Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme CPU Cooler - Retail - $65
  • Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120mm Case Fan - Retail - $25
  • Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $180
  • Sony NEC Optiarc 18X DVD±R DVD Burner with 12X DVD-RAM Write Black SATA Model AD-7170S-0B - OEM - $32
  • Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $90
  • SAMSUNG 245BW Black High Glossy 24" 5ms DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor with Height Adjustment - Retail - $470
  • Microsoft Windows Vista 64-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM - $112

    Total $1934 (NewEgg Prices - Using Pricegrabber.com & shopping around I think I can get it for $1694 incl. tax & ship)
    November 4, 2007 10:39:18 PM

    Maybe GA-P35-DS3R instead of GA-P35C-DS3R. The P35C has DDR3 capability (useless, IMO), costs a bit more, overclocks less well. I know it's a funny comment, coming from somebody who has the P35C. The thing is, I gave up on DDR3. By the time DDR3 is worth the price I'll need a Nehalem-compatible motherboard anyway, so the P35C will have to be replaced. I might even switch to AMD by that time, who knows what will be best then...

    There's a new cooler for the 8800GT, called "Thermalright HR-03 GT". Buy it, when you can find it. Careful, it's not the same as the "Thermalright HR-03", that one won't fit the 8800 GT. You can go ahead and build and play without it, of course.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/246150-31-comments-build-please#t1755417
    November 4, 2007 10:56:37 PM

    Looks good, and I think you got some good comments here.

    A few of my thoughts:

    See if you can compare some ofthe LCD candidates in the flesh. One may appeal to you more. Otherwise, I have been impressed by the Samsung monitors. They makethe panels for many other vendors, and I suspect that they keep the best for their own products. Spend whatever extra you can on a upscale monitor, it is the one piece of gear that you will still be using in the next five years. I would agree to looking for 178/178 viewing angles. The 244T may be a bit more expensive, but it is only pennies a day.

    A good PSU is a good thing. I recommend the PC Power&cooling silencer610, directly from them for $119.99. http://www.pcpower.com/products/viewproduct.php?show=S6... In particular, the back to front ventilation would work well for your case. They have outstanding customer service. Give them a call, they might even have a refurbished one for less.

    November 4, 2007 11:41:08 PM

    I'd check out the OCZ Gamextreme 700w it's on sale @ newegg for 89.00 after savings and rebate. Free shipping too I think.
    November 5, 2007 1:51:48 AM

    Hi,
    I've updated the post above with my latest spec choices. With your help it's all come together except for the video card :(  Does anyone know anywhere that has 8800GT's in stock ? How long do you think it will take them to return to MSRP? Also does anyone have any advice as to the brand of card ? EVGA seems to get a lot of mentions and they seem to have many flavors of 8800GT. My last two have been ATI Radeons and so I'm really out of touch with nVidia (last one was the awesome GeForce3-Ti200)...
    November 5, 2007 2:27:30 AM

    zebedee said:
    Hi,
    I've updated the post above with my latest spec choices. With your help it's all come together except for the video card :(  Does anyone know anywhere that has 8800GT's in stock ? How long do you think it will take them to return to MSRP? Also does anyone have any advice as to the brand of card ? EVGA seems to get a lot of mentions and they seem to have many flavors of 8800GT. My last two have been ATI Radeons and so I'm really out of touch with nVidia (last one was the awesome GeForce3-Ti200)...

    I know you want to order now, but if you can wait a couple of weeks, you'll have the possible option of getting the 38xx's from AMD. Doesn't mean that it'll be better, but will definately make things interesting, both $ and performance wise. I'm betting your going to have to wait until the 38xx's come out and then probably another 2 weeks before the 8800gt's come back to MSRP. Only reason that they would come sooner is if the 38xx's perform better and are around $200-$250 price range!! Go AMD, drive down nVidia prices, so we all can have a happier Christmas!!!
    November 5, 2007 2:28:43 AM

    I can recommend the EVGA lineup, I have purchased 3 of their cards and they all perform well.

    The step up program sweetens the deal too.
    November 5, 2007 12:56:40 PM

    You can trust eVGA, BFG and XFX, for example. And yes, I'd wait for a while to see what ATI has to offer and to let the 8800GT drop a bit in price. Right now supply can't keep up with demand so the price is high, but that won't last long.
    November 5, 2007 1:34:55 PM

    Asus 8800GT in stock at NewEgg and ClubIT
    XFX in stock @ ClubIT
    Check the EVGA website - they are often in stock when no other e-tailer has them.
    November 5, 2007 11:20:03 PM

    Hi,
    One item that I didn't have listed and I'm surprised no one asked about is a sound card. I'm assuming that the integrated sound in the new mobos like the GA-P35-DS3R is fairly good. Am I correct or should I buy a sound card ? For reference my current system has a Soundblaster Audigy, with Creative 2.1 speakers (which I'll put on the new system). I never really crank the sound up high and often use headphones so I'm hoping I can get away with the on-board sound.
    November 5, 2007 11:31:17 PM

    Onboard sound is pretty good these days, so I wouldn't worry about adding a sound card. Now with that in mind, if you find that the sound doesn't meet your needs, than I would get a sound card. I wouldn't spend on one right away until you have tried out the onboard sound first. This way you don't waste any money on it, if you don't need it.
    November 5, 2007 11:55:43 PM

    Whew, everything above ordered, total $1,708.15 which leaves $291.05 out of my $2k budget for the video card. I have a few days to wait before everything else arrives so I can wait and see on the 8800GT prices. I did find the Asus one at ClubIt but I'm uneasy about ordering a video card from Asus - probably irrational... I do like the EVGA step-up program, who knows what might happen in the next 90-100 days and taking advantage of the step-up is very attractive.
    !