I am building a system to be used mostly for gaming and some video editing. My goal is to construct a mid-range PC with the power to run a game like "Age of Conan" and be upgradable in year or so.
Mobo: Foxconn X38A I chose this mobo because it can handle both DDR2 & DDR3. In the future when DDR3 is cheap like DDR2 is now, I would like to be able to upgrade without buying a new mobo. Plus the X38A is decked out for multimedia and can handle the new 45nm CPUs in the future when their price has come down. The 3 PCIE slots for graphics cards is another bonus. I think I remember reading that the X38A can even handle both Crossfire or SLI. I have not been able to find any other boards out there that can boast these features. My past couple of builds have been with Asus which has a good reputation. Does anyone have any advice to offer about Foxconn? I read all the online reviews I could find about the Foxconn X38A and it all looked good for the most part.
CPU: 2.4 Quad Core Duo Q6600. I have read debates about which cpu is better for gaming, the 2.4 quad core of the 3.0 Core Duo... looks like gaming programers have already starting to take advantage of the quad core. Consider that I will also be doing some video editing, plus the quad core can easily be OC'ed to 3.0+
I plan on adding more GPUs in a few more months once the prices drop more. I'm also trying to keep this system relatively quiet even though it's a gaming machine. I'd appreciate comments and opinions. I am not locked into a fixed price but I am trying to get value and longevity from this build. Thanks in advance to those who take time to critique our builds :-)
Thanks for the P5KC reference. Looks like it would do the job just fine although it only holds two GPUs rather than 3. Still, it's a considerable savings against the X38A. I'm going to consider a couple more gigs of RAM as well. I had read once that gamers really only take advantage of 2gb Ram in the big picture, but I could be convinced otherwise by some informed computer junkies.
I'll second the comment on the PSU. Choose one from Tier-3 or better from the PSU listing. I'm not at work and don't have the link at the moment. My home primary HD croaked the other day, and my relatively recent backup nonetheless didn't have the link. Anyway, Ultra is on tier-5 ("do not buy") of that list, except for one model that is higher. If it's the X-finity, you're ok, otherwise get a Corsair as tlmck suggested. If budget is a concern, FSP makes some models on tier-3 in the 450-500W range that would be good for a single GPU. OCZ, PC Power and Cooling, and Corsair are among the top brands that have PSUs suitable for SLI or Crossfire.
I am going to stick with the X38A but I am going to have to do some more research into the PSU. Just how much power will I need if I do end up having 3 Radeon 3870's in crossfire in the future? As I am building this system for some longevity, a decent PSU now means not having to replace/upgrade the PSU in the future. ATI recommends this list of PSU's for their crossfire configuration:
I have been doing some reading on the importance of a good PSU. Thought I would share some info from Tom's: "It's a good idea to draw up a general power budget for a PC build before purchasing a power supply, rather than relying on the sometimes misleading ratings that vendors assign to their PSUs. You can do this by adding up the total energy draw from each of your system's components. CPUs typically fall in a range of 35 to 130 watts, the motherboard from 25-50 watts sans RAM, drives usually fall between 15-20 Watts apiece, and graphics cards may require anywhere from 30 to 200 watts depending on the specific make and model in use. Add 30 percent to this total when you're finished just to be on the safe side. If you want to make room for future components or upgrades, bump this fudge factor even higher, but don't forget that power supplies tend to be somewhat less efficient as loads increase."
I got 468W with one card and 541W with Crossfire. I'm guessing I would have got 541+73 for 3 cards, if the calculator had that option. Based on this, something like the PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W Crossfire Edition should do. It is on that list, btw.
If you feel this leaves too little room for adding disks and fans and lights and whatever, also look at the Antec Quattro 850W. This one is not on ATI's list but it's a great PSU.
From ATI's list: you can trust the HX620, but it's a bit close for 3 cards especially if you overclock the CPU. The GameXStream is also pretty good, and cheaper. The Enermax Galaxy 1000W is probably the best thing on that list, but it's very expensive and major overkill for what you need.
I'm not familiar with the case you picked. Does it have enough room for three thick cards?
I've heard only good things about the PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W. Unless you have three overclocked GPU's, overclocked CPU, and multiple hard drives, it should provide more power than you'll ever use.
It's not modular, so you'll have to deal with the extra cables, but that's not really a con, especially since that leads to it having higher efficiency than modular units.
Thanks aevm & paprocto, you got me checking out the PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W. Nice unit. It may just be the front runner as of now. What do you mean about the modular units not being as efficient, paprocto? I'm really tempted to take that extra money spent on the PC Power & Cooling and buy a sweet modular unit to make my system all "perdy on the inside". Quick question; when the product claims to be SLi ready does that also mean it's crossfire ready? What makes one PSU claim crossfire ready and one PSU claim SLi ready?
The case I have chosen is on sale at Tiger Direct (outlet store close to me) and the CPU as well. Here's a link to the case.
It's a mid-size that boasts a lot of room. The price is sure right and the reviews are good. The Silencer 750 Quad power supply is longer than the average ATX power supply, measuring 180 x 140 x 86mm. Hmmm hope it fits.
After investigating the RAM, I have decided to spend a bit more and go for the 2x2GB OCZ Platinum XTC PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL5-4-4-15 . It's selling for $ 115.50 at Direct Canada
Modular units have additional connectors on the cables, so you can put the cables in or take them out. These hurt the efficiency a (negligible) bit by increasing the resistance. I really wouldn't worry about this.
SLI vs Crossfire: there's a Silencer 750W Crossfire and a Silencer 750W not labeled Crossfire. The difference is that the one labeled Crossfire has connectors with 6/8 pins, i.e. it can be used for 2900XT Crossfire (the 2900XT needs 8 pins) but it can also be adapted by moving 2 pins away and then used for 8800GTX SLI (the 8800GTX needs 6 pins). The HD 3870 needs 6 pins so it works with either type of Silencer 750W. Apart from that, stuff like "SLI certified" or "Crossfire certified" means nVidia or ATI tried that PSU with two of their cards and it passed the tests.