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New System Build, bit by confusing bit

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January 10, 2008 9:30:59 PM

Yes, its yet another please advise on my system planning threads, sorry, but I'm freakin' confused. The PC I currently have has lasted my about 5 years, with the only piece upgraded so far being the graphics card from an Nvidia 5700 Ultra to an Nvidia 7800 GS from BFG (I needed it to fit an AGP slot and that's all I could find).

Current system is built around an ASUS P4C800 Deluxe mobo with an Intel 2.8Ghz Pentium 4 processor.
Video: Nvidia 7800 GS
RAM: 2gb (4x512MB Kingston ValueRam)
HDD: Western Digital 120GB IDE
CD\DVD: Sony DVD and a Plextor 52/24/52A CD-RW Drive (Both IDE)
PSU: Antec 550W
Case: an old, loud, and smoke destroyed (yes I smoked at my computer) Antec, resembles a really old version of a P182

What I'm looking at getting:
Mobo: Asus P5N-T or Maximus Extreme
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad 9450 or Intel Core 2 Quad 6600
Video: Nvidia GeForce8800GT or Nvidia GeForce 8800GTX
RAM: 2GB (2x1GB) Patriot PC2-6400 (5-5-5-12)
HDD: 2 Western Digital SE16 WD5000AAKS (S ATA) (Not running in RAID, I don't even understand what RAID is)
CD\DVD: ASUS 20x DVD+R Lightscribe (S ATA)
PSU: Gigabyte Odin 800W Software Controlled
Case: Antec 900

Newegg was runnin a deal earlier so I already picked up the 2 HDDs, the RAM, PSU, and the optical drive. I was overloaded with Best Buy gift cards so I picked up the case from there.

What I'm stuck on now is graphics, Mobo, and CPU, and since these are going to cost me considerably more than the rest, I'd really appreciate some advice.

I know the CPU isn't out yet, but I was planning on waiting to pick up a new one until they do come out as the price point on the Q6600 should drop with it. The big debate there is, is it worth the extra $50 or so bucks for the new 45nm tech over the 6600?

As for the Mobo I'm stumped. 1.) I seriously doubt the Maximus Extreme would fit into the Antec 900 case (anyone out there tried it?) 2.) I'd really like to to be SLi compatible as a sort of future proof. 3.) I need it to support the new generation of Intel chips, also sort of a future proofing.

All the different versions of GeForce 8800's out there really have me confused. I don't know what the difference between them is, I don't know what the specs mean, and the more I read about it the less I understand. Basically I'm looking for a decent card that can run the games I play with decent graphic quality (mostly MMORPGs, some FPS stuff.) I'm not looking for best, but again, I (hopefully) don't want to be building a new system again in a year. Please please help me.

That it, any advice anyone could give would be greatly appreciated.
January 10, 2008 9:41:43 PM

There's no way of knowing if the 45mm will be worth a premium price until they're tested at the Q6600 and the prices of set. Right now the P35 is the best bang for the buck mobo. Either the Gigabyte P35 DS3l or ASUS P5K E with or without WIFI, same price. The ASUS is about $40 more expensive but a lot more features that would justify the price if you need/want them. Mainly 6 SATA drive connectors, 3 PCI slots, onboard eSATA and firewire. The P35 will not run SLI but will run Crossfire, 2 ATI video cards, but will run a single nVidia card. Mfgs say both boards will support Penryn
January 11, 2008 12:43:12 AM

Thanks for the reply, I really have to admit, I don't really grasp the difference between the P35 and X38.

As far as graphics, I am just dead set against ATI. I've had nothing but trouble in the past with Radeon cards. Granted that was almost 7 years ago now, but I still have a sour taste in my mouth from it. I just really wish Nvidia wasn't being so stingy with the SLi tech. I'm not made out of money so I probably won't be running 2 cards any time soon, but I can definetly see myself scraping together the cash somewhere down the line for another vid card, would like the board to be able to support it. Is it a BIOS thing that prevents it or is it the physical construction of the board that prevents the functioning?
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January 11, 2008 1:14:35 AM

g-paw's comment generally look good to me, too.

However, you have not provided the most important info - what do you want to use your PC for - generally and specific apps - now and in the near future?

I would get the Gigabyte DS3R mobo rather than the DS3L recommended by g-paw, which would add about $30 to the cost, but would get it for the 8 SATA connectors compared to only 4 on the DS3L.

For the graphics card - I recommend the 8800 GT 512MB if you can afford it at about $240-300 depending on make and sales but it might be a lot more than you need. If you have not, I suggest reading the THG article on the best graphics cards - keeping in mind this focuses on gaming:

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/01/03/the_best_gaming_...

Then pick a couple to compare on specific apps on the VGA charts:

http://www23.tomshardware.com/graphics_2007.html

Either quad core would be good for future proofing - and a great CPU - but you might want to consider getting a much less expensive dual core that would be much more powerful than your current card and save you a ton of money.

I suggest developing a plan that lets you upgrade more than once every five years by not maxing out with each upgrade then upgrading after 3 or so years. Consider that the new Nahelem chip is scheduled to come out late next year and it will immediately make all current mobos obsolete - sure they will be serviceable for a year or two but by then all new stuff will be with the new socket and upgrades for the old stuff will be weak and expensive.
January 11, 2008 1:17:04 AM

I believe that the BIOS prevents the board from functioning in SLi because Crossfire can work. As for the vid card, definitely a 8800GT. I currently have a Q6600 and 8800 GTX and it kicks ass, but I payed a premium I am now kicking my own ass for! You can find the 8800 gt for ~290 dollars, opposed to the ~440 for a similar 8800GTX. You could consider the 8800 GTS 512 MB, which is the equivalent of the 8800 GTX, but you would be fronting another 40 dollars.

The processor is a whole different thing. I love my Q6600, and I know its not the best, but it runs everything wonderfully. I do wonder if i too should get the new 45nm but I think I'll be happy for a while. It all depends on what you want.

If you are looking to upgrade in the future as you said with buying another video card, you can buy relatively cheap 650i boards and run SLi off of them. I use the eVga 680i, so I can attest to its platform and stability, but I do not know about the 650i, but it probably works pretty good. Newegg has ASUS 650i(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)
wich has good reviews.

Overall, good system your building and good luck!
January 11, 2008 1:59:14 AM

I really appreciate the feedback guys.

Rocky:
You're completely right, I did forget to say what I want to use this for. I mainly tool around the internet and play games on it. Recently however my system is showing its age more than usual. Hitman: Blood Money pretty much refused to run before my graphics card fried, The Sims 2 was "Turning on turn ons" for about 2 minutes, and system boot time is beginning to clock in at almost 3+ minutes.

I recently pitched my old Viewsonic CRT monitor for a Viewsonic VX2245wm (22" Widescreen), which actually has a better picture quality than my TV, so I'm starting to watch DVD's on it (really need to get some speakers, the headphones just can't interpret the bass).

I put my CD collection onto my HD, so I burn a lot of CD's and manage my IPod with my PC as well. I also play guitar as a hobby and am starting to look into using my PC as a recorder/mixer (would be great if I could pitch my old 4-track recoorder).

Playing with OC'ing would be a bonus, not necesary however.

I'm not a pro gamer and I'm not going to freak out if my system won't play Crysis at maxxed out settings. I just want a reliable system that can handle some abuse. Ease of assembly is great (read: it took me the better part of 3 hours to swap the guts from my old case to the new one and for the life of me, I have about 16 screws leftover that I would swear go somewhere...), but I'm willing to mutter curses at the system to get it together.

My budget is about $300 a piece for the Mobo, CPU, and Graphics Card, like I said I'm not made of money and I just cannot justify spending over $800 on an "Extreme" or "Ultra" to myself these days.

Oh forgot to mention, currently using a D-Link PCI Wireless G adapter, any advantages to making the switch to N (I'd have to convince the rest of my household to make the switch as well). Also, liquid cooling is out, it scares me, call me outdated, but liquid and my electronics never mix. So, any suggestions on CPU heatsinks and fans is greatly appreciated, I don't mind some ambient noise, but would prefer not to get too loud (the fan on that 7800 gets really freakin noisy).

Quick edit: I know this probably boils down to personal experience, but any real difference between the card modders (Gigabyte, ASUS, eVGA, BFG, etc...) or am I ok just picking the best deal at the time?
January 11, 2008 2:40:45 AM

Video card performance is almost the same on brand name cards - unless it is overclocked at the factory then it is usually a little faster. Stick with a good brand name and look at warranty periods - which may range from 3 years to lifetime. They also may have different feature sets (most noticeably free games) but I think this is less important to you.

Based on your uses, I would stick with the Gigabyte DS3R for $130, consider an E6750 CPU at $190 (save $100 over the Q6600 - or go with it if you wish) and get the 256MB version of the 8800 GT for $205 and save about $60 over getting the better 512MB version. Again check the VGA charts mentioned before to see if you would be happy with performance of the lower cost card. EVGA is a good option for the video card:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This totals $525 - well under you budget limit and will still give you a very powerful system for your applications. Then consider saving the rest for an upgrade of the CPU and/or video card when you can buy more for less.

The only caveat I have is I am not sure how well the VGA card will work for gaming on a 22" monitor, but I think it should be fine. Can anyone help here? Elusive - what resolution do you use - and want to be able to use - for the monitor and what settings for games?
January 11, 2008 3:08:29 AM

elusivelight said:


I know the CPU isn't out yet, but I was planning on waiting to pick up a new one until they do come out as the price point on the Q6600 should drop with it. The big debate there is, is it worth the extra $50 or so bucks for the new 45nm tech over the 6600?



The price of the Q6600 will likely stay where it is even when they release their new CPU's. There are a lot of people out there that don't have boards that support Penryn so the price will remain high for those cases. For proof of this look at the prices of the E6*00 CPU's, the E6*20 and E6*50 CPU's are a much better buy but the prices on the older CPU's remain high for the people who have no choice but to upgrade to them. Will it be worth the price difference? Remember that around Q4 2008-Q1 2009 Intel will be changing sockets so anything you buy now will be a dead end and without benchmarks for the new chips it's hard to tell.
January 11, 2008 3:14:15 AM

I'd prefer the 8800GTS G92 512MB to the 8800GT 512MB (or 256MB). It's more expensive but faster and quieter.
BTW, there are also 8800GTS 320MB and 8800GTS 640MB, avoid those because they are slower than both 8800GT or 8800GTS G92 512MB.

The WD7500AAKS uses a newer technology than WD5000AAKS and it's faster. Mind you, I am using WD5000AAKS, no complaints, but I would buy the WD7500AAKS these days.

Another vote for GA-P35-DS3R.

The Gigabyte Odin is very nice, but the PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W is nicer. There was a comparative article at anandtech, if you're interested. Also, for your system a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610W would be perfect and cheaper.

If you get the 8800GT then the Antec 900 is a good choice because it has great cooling and the 8800GT needs it.
If you get the 8800GTS G92 512MB, also consider an Antec P182 because it's quieter than most cases on the market.
January 11, 2008 11:47:52 AM

I may be reading this wrong but it doesn't look like the DS3R has onboard eSATA, firewire, or WIFI if you want it where as the P5K E does. Talking with my son who is a musician and does dome editing/producing he said there is equipment that does use a firewire connection and the eSATA is good especially for external hdd. Again the onboard WIFI is nice even if you hardwire the computer if for any reason you have to move it, you don't have to hassle with installing a card. Of course you can buy cards to do all these things but regardless you'll only have 3 PCI slots and today most cards are still PCI. Again for regarding you may need a PCI slot. As for wireless n my understanding is that it will increase the speed of transferring data between computers but no the Net so it depends on how much data transfer you're doing between computes. In my case I backup data to other computers now and then and have no problem with my g router but I'm not streaming from one computer to another, e.g., play videos and music from the computer hdd. This is not to say the DS3R is not a good board, it just doesn't have the features you may need now or in the foreseeable future, especially relative to your music
http://www.gigabyte-usa.com/Products/Motherboard/Produc...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...
January 11, 2008 12:05:58 PM

I have a 8800 GTX (PNY) and its great.
I got 2 but as I run X38 I cant sli them so unless you have 3 moniters one is fine.

I think with a quad core, 4gig of ram and a 8800 it will pwn.
I got DDR2 800 but DDR3 is faster but it also costs alot.
If you want the power go for ddr3 but if you want it to last get more DDR2.
I have 8gig of ddr2 and the box will be good for a long time.
I must agree with Nvida over ATI. The 8800 I got works very well.
I am a bit of a newb atm but I have learned a bit from my new build and hope it's of some use to you. Good luck! :) 
January 12, 2008 12:14:49 AM

About the eSATA: the GA-P35-DS3R (and similar, such as my own GA-P35C-DS3R) seem to have slower USB than other boards. Personal experience - I can fill my MP3 player 3 times faster on my Dad's HP (with some AM2 board) than on my own PC.

If going with this board and using an external hard disk a lot, I strongly recommend an eSATA hard disk such as Seagate FreeAgent Pro. Mind you, eSATA is way faster than any USB, not just Gigabyte's.

The GA-P35C-DS3R comes with an eSATA bracket in the box, so it's really not a problem. Some good external drives come with brackets too.

I like Asus mobos, in general. I went with Gigabyte because the Asus models I liked had only 2 PCI slots or had bad layouts where the 8800GTX would cover some PCI slots. I absolutely needed 3 slots (X-Fi, tuner, modem). Do some research before you buy. Also look at the aBit IP35 family, those are very good too.
January 12, 2008 5:21:59 AM

I really appreciate the quick replies guys, thank you all for the input, I think I've got it all narrowed down now. I'm thinkin of the ASUS P5E, a little more expensive than the P5K and Gigabyte, but I really am brand loyal, and ASUS has stood the test of time with me and Mobos. I really have to thank you all for clearing up the Vid Card debate, and the 8800 GT 256MB of ram seems more than enough for my needs atm. I do like to run in 1650x1080 resolution, but thats by no means a must. As for the CPU, I believe you all are right, the Dual core meets my needs and does it $100 cheaper for the moment, and I hear they make great chips to play around with OC'ing.

I really wish I had come here first, you all have been very helpful with this build. I do wish I had seen this sight before buying my case as I just saw the Antec 1200 and it comes with the one thing I wished this case had, dust filters. Aside from that the only question I had left was CPU heatsinks. I was looking at the Thermalright Ultima-90, and maybe replacing the stock case fans with something a bit quieter. Any suggestions? My current CPU has been running around 50C idle and ~75C under load. I am getting more frequent alerts from the probe saying the heat is at dangerous levels.

Thanks again for all the input.
January 12, 2008 5:34:36 AM

Thermalright Ultima-90 is good.

Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme is the best. Combine it with a Scythe S-Flex SFF21F for best results.

Scythe Ninja is pretty good too, just not as good as the Extreme. My Q6600 with Ninja idles at 33C.

You could go to www.anandtech.com, click the PSU/Cooling button, then read some reviews. That's a very good site, and they have these cooler reviews where you can compare tons of models for noise and performance.

I was looking for the quietest fans that still move lots of air and ended up with Scythe S-Flex SFF21E. SFF21F moves 33% more air but does 50% more noise so I passed. If you're in the US you have more good choices, like Noctua or Nexus.
January 13, 2008 2:32:51 AM

Am I confused AEVM?
On line 2 you recommend the SFF21F fans.
On line 6 you state that you chose the SFF21E over the SFF21F for quietness. Please confirm that it is the SFF21F that are quieter, albeit slower. I definitely want to go for quiet.
January 13, 2008 3:12:12 AM

SFF21E works at 1200 rpm and about 20 dB.
SFF21F works at 1600 rpm and about 30 dB.
SFF21E is quieter, but SFF21F does a better job on a CPU cooler. It looks like the one you want is SFF21E.

Edit: I'd better clarify a bit more. The SFF21F will allow a Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme to reach incredibly high clocks. The SFF21E will still do an impressive job, just not as good as the SFF21F. If you're interested in silence and don't go for record overclocks, then the SFF21E is best. Leave the SFF21F for OC maniacs who really want the last MHz they can get.
January 14, 2008 5:43:10 AM

Thanks.
!