Did my research but could still use some help with a first time build

I've had my current Dell for over 8 years now and have been wanting to upgrade for quite some time. A buddy of mine talked me into building my next 'puter myself and I've been reading, researching and following prices non-stop for almost 2 years now. About five months back, I started buying some components - mainly so that I wouldn't chicken out and order my next computer instead of build it myself. So I basically locked myself in!

At first, I didn't intend on having a large budget (especially on my social work salary!) but then I figure that since I tend to use my computers for about 8 years with only a few upgrades (video card, memory, etc.) I was going to do it up right. So I found some extra sidework and saved up enough money to splurge on what I would consider to be close to a top-of-the-line system. I'm almost ready to pull the trigger and will be building very soon.

I was hoping that I could list what I've gotten so far and get some recommendations and advice on finalizing the build and maybe get some last minute questions answered. So much thanks in advance to those of you that take the time to help me out! I will be using the computer primarly for gaming (I've been out of it for a while with a 1.5 year old and 5 year old), listening to music and watching a few movies.

Here's what I have purchased so far:

Case: Antec P182 SE
Power Supply: Seasonic M12 700W Modular
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12F
Hard Drives: WD Raptor 150 GB, WD Caviar SE16 500 GB and a Seagate Barracuda 7200 250GB which came free with the case - all SATA
Optical Drives: (2) LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burners with LightScribe (SATA)
Sound Card: AuzenTech Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1
FDD: Musumi FDD with 7-in-1 Card Reader
Monitor: Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms Widescreen LCD HDMI Monitor 500 cd/m2 800:1 (will be gaming in 1900x1200 resolution)
Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate (will be installing 64-bit version)
Speakers: Logitech Z-5500 505 Watts 5.1

Here's what I have decided to get but haven't bought yet:

Video Card: EVGA 8800 GTS (G92)
Thermal Paste: Arctic Silver Ceramique

And most importantly, here's what I need some help and recommendations on:

CPU: If I were to build today, I would go with either the E6750 or the E6850. However, one of the main reasons that I was trying to wait a little longer was to go with the Q9450 on January 20th. Now I'm hearing rumors of a delay...and if that's the case I'd rather build sooner than later.

Motherboard: I have done a ton of research only to decide on several different models and then change my mind on each one of them. This, along with memory selection, is where I need the most help. I definately want something that is as future-proof as possible, easily overclockable (I'm not going to start off being a hardcore overclocker but would like to learn), compatible with my Noctua heatsink, has at least 6 SATA ports and will support 45nm processors without a BIOS update. SLI is a bonus but not an absolute necessity as I'm undecided about going that route but could possibly see myself going that route in the future. The new EVGA 780i seems like total overkill...I definately wouldn't go triple SLI and was wondering if that extra PCI Express slot could be used for anything else besides graphics? I'm thinking that the upcoming 750i is a possibility but I have no idea when it is going to be released and the one that I've seen specs on already only has 4 SATA ports. I was also looking at the GIGABYTE GA-X38T but then found that it doesn't possess native compatibility with the 45nm Q9450 and I don't have another CPU to use before I install the Q9450. (Now, if the delay on the Q9450 is true then this won't be a factor...although I won't have the option of SLI).

Memory: At first I was going to go with 8GB of Patriot DDR2 800 memory...but have recently been leaning towards 8GB of G.Skill DDR2 1000 memory (2x2GB). I really could use some help on this, though. If you overclock the CPU, do you also need to overclock the memory? If so, do I need better quality memory than Patriot or GSkill? Any other recommendations? (Also, with all of the components mentioned above, this is the area that is finally hit by a limit in budget. I really have to stick to no more than $250 here and that may limit me to 4GB of memory if I go with other brands.)

Soooo...I apologize for the lengthy post but I wanted to be as detailed as possible. I really hope that some of you out there will take some time to assist me. Hey, after being stuck with a mid-range Dell for 8 years, don't I deserve a little hook-up? ;) Also, I do auto detailing on the side and can gladly offer tips in that regard if anyone needs some reciprocation!

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  1. Well here's my thoughts for what they are worth.

    CPU: I would go quad core. Its the future and as more stuff comes out that utilizes it the more life it will get. And with some cooling you can always overclock it down the road. If price is an issue for you grab a Q6600 or 6700 and then OC it. You expressed and interest in that anyways so sooner is better.

    Mobo: make sure it can handle the new generation (45nm) chips. This will give you the option to upgrade CPU's down the road. So when those $1000 chips are $100 you can grab one and see some gains. Also get a DDR3 capable board. I know that you are considering DDR2 stuff but as you have commented that memory and vid cards are the things you upgrade over the years I think its best to start with DDR3 as its the new rather than DDR2 which is on its way out. Right now I am considering the X38 boards. This limits me to Crossfire I know but they just seem to be the better boards right now. With a 1600 FSB, new 45nm support and true PCi x16 they seem, on paper to be the better way to go. Boards I would/ am considering are the ASUS P5E3 WS Pro and ASUS Maximus Extreme but I am a bit bias towards Asus. If SLI is important then wait for the 780 boards but keep in mind you are limited to DDR2 memeory adn as some of the new chips look like they are going to require a 1600FSB thus they wont work on those boards.

    I also had the intention of going Dual Graphics cards when I built my system 2 years ago. I bought a great vid card for the time (eVga 7800 GTX KO Edition) with the intent to grab a second one. Suddenly they were nowhere to be found for less than $500 while newer 7900 cards were under $200! Seemed wastefull to toss it to buy 2 new cards nad it was a hard choice.

    I guess what I'm saying is that if your "thinking" of going to a dual graphics card system then don't. Stay single. If you "want" to be dual right now then get 2 cards now. I would reccomend 2 8800 GT's vs the the GTS versions. The performance difference is minimal thus the GT's offer better value. On the ATI side really the only choice right now is the R670 stuff. At least its cheap! I mean in Crossfire they will chase a 8800 GTX Ultra at 2/3 the price. Plus right now they are the only game intow offering both HDCP support with encoding done entirely on board (no CPU drain) and 10.1/ Shader 4.1 DirectX suport. (Although I am unsure if 10.1 is really worth it.)

    Its really hard to futureproof a system but spending more now limits how much you need to spend later on some of the hardware.

    Either way have fun!
  2. Thanks for your comments, 'nameneeded'.

    Anyone else have any comments or suggestions - especially in regards to items from my original post that werent' yet covered?
  3. I just love it when people ask for help *after* they've purchased.
  4. i would be careful when it comes to the brand of memory. i ran into problems with memory ie random blue screens of death but if it works for you GREAT! it just may have been my streak of bad luck
  5. nhobo said:
    I just love it when people ask for help *after* they've purchased.

    If you read my post again, you'll notice that the major components of the build all have yet to be purchased.
  6. OK, here are my thoughts:

    I like the components you already have.

    If your primary use is gaming, then start with the vga card. I agree with the 8800GTS-512(G92). It is a bit faster than the 8800GT, but more importantly, it has a better cooler which ejects hot air instead of recirculating it.
    This will result in a quieter and cooler system. Nvidia will eventually launch a higher end single card, so that is an easy upgrade in the future. The extra cost of preparing for sli does not seem likely to be used.

    For gaming, the video card is the most important component, not the cpu. The E6750 or E6850 should be fine. There are hardly any games out there that are coded to use more than 2 cores. If you plan on lots of multitasking, or use of applications that benefited from multiple cores, only then would a quad be better.

    The current c2d processors do not seem to be very sensitive to memory speeds. You are looking at 1-2% advantage in real application(vs. synthetic benchmark) performance between the slowest DDR2 and the fastest DDR3 memory. Therefore I see no real advantage in anything other than a quality DDR2-800 memory. DDR3 is very expensive today, and by the time that changes, any of today's motherboards will be obsoleted by the requirements for nehalem. 4gb is good. I would be interested to know if Vista offers any important advantage to going to 8gb. Supposedly, it will anticipate your pending use of a program and pre-load it into memory for you. 8gb won't hurt, it can only help, but I am not sold on it's value yet. To insure memory compatibility, go to the memory manufacturer's web site and run their configurator to get a list of compatible modules for your selected motherboard. The better vendors have lifetime guarantees, so any one will do, so long as it works.

    Until the 45nm processors are launched, I don't think you can guarantee that any motherboard you can buy today will support them without a bios update. If the manufacturer says that they will support the new 45nm processors, then you should be good to go. I would stick with a good brand of P35 board. They have been out long enough to have the bugs worked out of them. I think I would get a board with two pci-e slots, even though you plan on using only one. In a year or two, I expect to see some innovation in SSD and ram drives that might need that fast interface to work. I see no value in a ddr2 and ddr3 combo board because ddr3 is such a lousy deal, and you can't use both types together. If I could pick one, it would be the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3P http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128067

    For another idea, consider getting a second monitor of some type. I find it incredibly useful to have it hold e-mail or performance monitors open while the main one is used for gaming.

    Another thought is to get a tv tuner card. I will watch a game or program on media center, and when commercials come on, I surf the internet or something.

    ---good luck---
  7. If you ain't willing to wait just grab a GIGABYTE GA-X38T/DQ6 and a E2160. You can upgrade to quad core later when they come out. You can also try and OC the E2160 :)
  8. Sleepy head you've done your research and will have a nice pc soon. Keep up the patience because that is a necessity of building your own pc. With that said I would like to congratulate you on avoiding the Dell. Building your own computer is the only way to go for any kind of gamer.

    You seem like you have a lot of money to throw at this build. The 8800 GTS g92 is the way to go, but you've waited this long so you should hold off a while longer for the new 45 nm cores to arrive and also the new 9000 series video cards. As far as sli goes only get into it if you have copius money to expend. The value/performance ratio of sli is not great. But hey, if you got the money have at it.

    Also be patient when the physical building takes place. A lot of these parts are fragile and need care when assembling.
  9. Oh and another thing. When do start building your computer -expect- problems to arise. Just remember they can be solved. Just don't jam your cpu into the socket the wrong way...

    But don't expect a flawless first-time build. I built my first pc a couple months ago and had to make quite a few calls to manufacturer's tech lines and more research. Don't do anything you're not 100% on- always double check.
  10. Thanks you guys. I hope it goes well. To partialsum...I guess I do have a lot of money to throw at the build but it's only because I worked extra jobs doing auto detailing and landscaping in addition to my usual work as a social worker. Otherwise, I definately wouldn't have it to throw around like this! Sometimes I feel guilty that I can afford this type of a build, but hey...I gotta treat myself sometime, eh? :) (And it will have to least me another 8 years before I build again...)

    As much as it pains me, I think I am going to wait for January 20th and order the Q9450. I'm still undecided about the motherboard and memory, though. Any additional comments are definately welcomed and will be considered!

    Can anyone answer my overclocking question that I asked in my original post? (Does memory have to be OC'ed if the CPU is OC'ed?)

    Also, to Geofelt...Thanks for the advice and suggestions. I definately won't be able to afford to go with 2 monitors although I can appreciate what a luxury that would be! And, unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on how you view it) I only have time for maybe 3 hours of TV watching a week so a tuner wouldn't make much sense at this point.
  11. Just to follow-up, I've now finished ordering the last of my parts. They should be here within the next 5 days or so. Here's what I'll be working with:

    Case: Antec P182 SE
    Power Supply: Seasonic M12 700W Modular
    Motherboard: EVGA 780i
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U12F
    CPU: Intel e8400
    Hard Drives: WD Raptor 150 GB, WD Caviar SE16 500 GB and a Seagate Barracuda 7200 250GB (the Seagate came free with the case) - all SATA
    Optical Drives: (2) LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burners with LightScribe (SATA)
    Sound Card: AuzenTech Auzen X-Fi Prelude 7.1
    Memory: 8GB of G.Skill DDR2-1000 (PC28000)
    Video Card: EVGA 8800 GTS G92
    FDD: Musumi FDD with 7-in-1 Card Reader
    Monitor: Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms Widescreen LCD HDMI Monitor 500 cd/m2 800:1 (will be gaming in 1900x1200 resolution)
    Operating System: Windows Vista Ultimate (will be installing 64-bit version)
    Speakers: Logitech Z-5500 505 Watts 5.1
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