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new rig - techguru advice needed please!

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January 22, 2008 7:06:59 AM

Hello guys at Tom's! Even though I’ve been browsing the site and the forums for a very long time, I’ve only now made a new account, as the last one seems to have vanished. I’m aware you often get this kind of questions, and although I’ve looked around a lot for information, read reviews, tests & comparisons, and I’m still not entirely certain about certain things.

I’m looking to replace my current rig which is getting awfully outdated (Athlon 2400+, 1Gb, Radeon 9700, WD Raptor). I’m quite into hardware and stuff, but as mentioned above I want to get it right this time. My budget is around 1000-1250 euros (800-925 pounds), that’s without monitor. (will keep dual-screen setup, have 2x 17” LCD) Besides the usual performance, ‘upgrade-ability’, and most bang-for-bucks I also want to keep the noise level down as much as possible, and some overclocking will be in order. Pc will be used for Gaming, Internet, Music, Video, Work etc, no plans of using it for ‘specialised’ programs/tools/calculations. So here I am, asking some advice to techguru’s and people who know more about this than I do! Can you help me get rid of my doubts? ;o)


Several issues I’m toying around with:

OS:
- Is Vista worth buying knowing that the good SP 1 is out soon? (Heard great things about it, RC was tested thoroughly) What’s the difference (compatibility? Performance?) between 32-bits and 64-bits, and is it worth getting Vista 64? I heard a Quad Core is needed to get ‘more’ out of the 64-bits version?

Hardware:
- Antec P-182 Case
- Mobo - X38 or P35 chipset? Going for DDR2, is X38 compatible? Always liked Asus, but any recommendations are welcome. Heard good things about P5K, P5N32-E SLI ?
- Core 2 Duo or Quad Core (ie Core 2 Duo E6750 or Quad Q6600) ? Any difference with the new 45nm Core 2 Duo E8400 etc?
- 8800 GT 512mb
- 2Gb or likely 4Gb of ‘high-end’ Ram; Corsair/Ocz/G.Skill. PC6400 (800 MHz) or PC8500 (1066 MHz)? Heard 4Gb only ‘works well’ with Vista 64?
- Two HDDs on a Raid 0, with an extra ‘storage’ HDD. 2x Hitachi Deskstar P7K500 or 2x Samsung Spinpoint T166 or WD Caviar SE16, all S-ATA at 320Gb & 16 Cache. Is it worth going for a 32 cache, I heard the more the better on a raid? (Raid 0 setting @ 64kb seems best?)
- Seasonic M12-500 PSU or any other recommendations? Has to be Silent & modular. 500W enough to make this rig run stable, with some average overclocking in mind?
- Noctua NH-U12P CPU heatsink & fan
- Dvd burner/mouse/keyboard/Vista should be included in the budget.


Thanks for your time, I’d appreciate any comments or advice, be it good or bad! :) 
January 22, 2008 10:56:03 AM

X38 for extreme overclocking. i.e. ASUS P5E.

Wolfdales are a bit faster than Conroes at stock & overclocked. There's no reason to get old tech (Conroes) when new tech is available for about the same price. E8500 has been overclocked to over 5ghz on DICE/LN2. 4ghz-ish on air.

It's the same for Yorkfields VS Kentsfields. Q9X50 would be the better choices if you want quads, but they may be delayed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_Core_2

Go with 2x1GB DDR2 800MHZ at the minimum for overclocking. Ballistix is guaranteed to overclock well. Or G.Skill HZ.

Right now 16mb cache for harddisks is plenty. The new Seagate 7200.11 is actually slower at general tasks than old drives.

The rest of the parts looks great.
January 22, 2008 11:26:22 AM

Cheers for the heads up akhilles! In several tests I've read 32 cache did increase perfs a couple %; but I haven't been able to find tests with RAID 0 setups.. I'm leaning towards an E8400 for now. Do you have any ideas/advice about Vista 32 or 64 bits?
Related resources
January 22, 2008 11:55:45 AM

Maxi- said:
My budget is around 1000-1250 euros (800-925 pounds), that’s without monitor.


hmmm..., I did not see a video card choice in your budget? I will assume you are considering an 8800GT - 3870 or similar for your video needs. If you plan on crossfire you must choose a crossfire compatible Intel board like P35 or 38. If you plan on future SLI setup than a 780i board will do that. You are only mentioning Intel boards so I will once again assume you are going with either singel Nvidia card or single ATI card with aspirations of future crossfire setup.

As far as I'm concerned, your biggest bang for the buck is still the old quad Q6600. I don't see you overclocking anything to 5Ghz on a 900 pound budget and this chip will still do 3.2Ghz easily on good air cooling. I recommend you not worry about raiding any drives unless you have 3 drives or more. Raid only your two secondary drives and leave your main drive non raided. I have had to many drive failures in the past to recommend raid. The advantage is not significant enough to warrant the possible loss of your data.

I have also tried 64bit OS's and currently have a 64bit Vista partition on my system. I have also tried 64XP in the past. Again, the value of 64bit has not been of any real significance. I am able to find better and more updated stable drivers with 32bit windows and the additional memory gain with 64bit has not translated into any real performance gains with any software I have used. It does not sound like you have any software that would benefit either.

You should concentrate on a slimmed down fast stable effecient systems and try to get away from raided 64bit and uber overclocked setup or you will probably be kicking yourself in the future. thats my advice
January 22, 2008 2:15:36 PM

You probably overlooked it, but yes, I'm going for an 8800GT. I don't think I'll be going for Crossfire or Sli.

Raid 0 increase not enough to warrant the possible loss of data? There's isn't *that* much more risk is there? I mean, if you have one disk and it fails you lose your files too, now you have two drives --> Double risk? (I've never had a drive failure on any on my pc's, guess I'm lucky?) I'm still very tempted by a Raid 0.. I'll start looking for more direct user experiences, thanks for the pointer towards that!

Ty for the good explanations, guess I'll be going for 32-bits with 2Gb's of Ram then!
January 23, 2008 12:04:13 AM

Maxi- said:
You probably overlooked it, but yes, I'm going for an 8800GT. I don't think I'll be going for Crossfire or Sli.

Raid 0 increase not enough to warrant the possible loss of data? There's isn't *that* much more risk is there? I mean, if you have one disk and it fails you lose your files too, now you have two drives --> Double risk? (I've never had a drive failure on any on my pc's, guess I'm lucky?) I'm still very tempted by a Raid 0.. I'll start looking for more direct user experiences, thanks for the pointer towards that!

Ty for the good explanations, guess I'll be going for 32-bits with 2Gb's of Ram then!


No problem. Your 8800GT is a good choice. Let me explain regarding raid. From personal experience and reading multiple reviews and case studies raid gives you benefits mainly with applications such as recording video. You will get some advantage with regular apps and loading of game times but otherwise it is not very significant.

The reason I have had problems is that when overclocking, you have to push the FSB. If you have never overclocked pushing the FSB you will probably never have experienced this. When you push the FSB you also push the bus for all your other components including your raid controller(normally 333Mhz). This makes the controller more susceptible to high speed data loss or corruption. I can currently push my FSB between 426 and 450Mhz which translates between 1704 and 1800Mhz quad pumped and between 3.4Ghz and 3.6Ghz at the CPU for all 4 cores. This is way beyond the 1333Mhz of even the latest Penryn specs. The P35 and P38 boards are also capable of this.

Plus if your data spread across two drives as opposed to 2 raided 0 drives you only lose some of your data as opposed to all of your data in a raid setup. Data loss is data loss but it is minimized on non-raided setup.
January 23, 2008 11:41:30 AM

I would get 4 X 1GB for cheap now. From what I've heard, the DDR2 prices have stabilized - won't drop further. If you wait long enough, the DDR2 will be more expensive than DDR3. Look at DDR prices.
January 23, 2008 2:19:30 PM

After having informed myself on several forums, read a lot of reviews, tests and comparisons, I've come to a near conclusion. :p 

* Vista 64
* Asus P5k Premium Wifi/AP
* E8400
* 8800 GT
* 4Gb of DDR2 800 Ram
* Antec P-182 (possibly the SE )
* Corsair HX-520
* Noctua NH-U12P
* Samsung Spinpoint, 500 or 750Gb, 32 cache. (no Raid 0 after all)


Thanks everyone for the advice, it has been really helpful. Happy gaming! :D 

January 23, 2008 2:53:02 PM

I like your near conclusion.

For the 4gb of memory, get a 2x2 kit, not a 4x1 kit. This preserves your option to upgrade to 8gb which vista-64 can use. I plan to build a small ram disk for the browser cache.

Consider the 8800GTS-512-G92. It costs a bit more, but it is also a bit faster. The real reason to do this is because it has a very good cooler that expels the hot vga air directly out the back of the case instead of recirculating it. This keeps both your vga and cpu cooler.
January 23, 2008 3:11:45 PM

Yeah, I'll be getting 2x2Gb. :) 
I've got an Arctic Cooling VGA silencer on my current Radeon 9700 Pro, do you know if there are any good equivalents around for 8800's? I really want my rig to be silent, and well cooled, obviously! Altho a 8800GT + other heatsink/fan might be as expensive as a 8800GTS - I'll start looking into it, thanks for the headsup.
January 23, 2008 4:36:27 PM

There are some models of the NV silencer which are supposed to work with the 8800GT. I think it is out of production which may make it hard to find one. I used it in the past, and it did a fine job.

I would agree, why pay more for a better cooler for a 8800GT when you can get a good one on the 8800GTS-512-G92. Also, I have seen no add-on 8800GT coolers that do not recirculate the hot vga air.
January 24, 2008 8:26:49 AM

GTS is a whopping 100-120E more expensive, is it worth the difference in performance? Also, it goes over my budget, and there isn't much I can/want to save bucks on. Hot VGA extraction is sweet, though.
January 24, 2008 10:08:46 AM

Here in the US, the difference is about $50, about the price of a cooler. You get about 10% improvement that you can't get with overclocking because of the additional stream processors. The EVGA unit also comes with Crysis. If you have choices, shop around.
January 26, 2008 11:29:45 AM

Wow thanks, the Accelero does look interesting. Hmm, think I'll get the extra fans too if they're silent enough.

geofelt - getting a card in the US is not an option, and here its around 100-130Euros (~190 US $) difference between 8800 GT and GTS. :( 
January 31, 2008 7:52:37 PM

*Bump*

Quick question - I can't seem to be able to find the difference between the Asus P5K Premium Wifi/AP and the Asus P5K Deluxe Wifi/AP, any ideas?
February 1, 2008 12:03:56 PM

I've read it over four times and can't spot the differences. :headbang:
February 2, 2008 11:09:49 AM

Differences. Top is Premium. Bottom is Deluxe:

LAN: Dual Gigabit LAN controllers, featuring AI NET2
LAN: N/A

ASUS AI Lifestyle Features: ASUS Crystal Sound, ASUS AI Direct Link
ASUS AI Lifestyle Features: N/A

Back Panel I/O Ports: 1 x S/PDIF Out (Coaxial + Optical)
Back Panel I/O Ports: 1 x S/PDIF Out

Manageability: WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME,PXE
Manageability: WfM 2.0,DMI 2.0,WOL by PME,WOR by PME

Box arts are different. Box contents are different.

What's in the box:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?Image=13-1...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ShowImage.aspx?Image=13-1...

The Premium is a bit more feature-rich than the Deluxe. Google for reviews, especially overclockabilities & pros & cons at the end. They do look identical.
February 11, 2008 5:11:45 PM

Ah cheers akhilles! (sorry for the late reply)

Almost 3 weeks later and I'm still waiting for the E8400 to be available over here. Apparently I have to wait another 1-2 weeks. ;) 

My current 'very likely' list is:

- E8400
- Asus P5K Premium Wifi/AP
- 8800 GTS 512
- OCZ Gold GX XTC 2x2Go DDR2 PC6400
- Antec P-182
- Corsair HX 520 ou HX 620
- Samsung Spinpoint F1 750Go
- Noctua NH-U12P
- DVD burner NEC 7xxx
- Vista 64-bits


Only hesitation for the moment is - Is it useful/needed to get the 620W PSU instead of the 520W, knowing there's around 40E/30GBP/60US$ difference in price, and that I intend to overclock? Thanks once again! :) 
February 12, 2008 3:50:52 AM

450w 28a minimum for that pc. More for overclocking. 520w is plenty.
February 12, 2008 5:23:46 AM

This is a test with a 32mb cache hard drive and the second one is in raid 0 compared to the raptor.

The reason I wait for the peryn cpu is more cache and sse4.
I read in a test that for gaming more cache is the thing to have, not so much as mhz.
February 12, 2008 10:02:44 AM

This ? Where is the test? Forgot to post a link? I'd love to have a peek. ;) 

February 20, 2008 3:16:08 PM

Anyone came across the test tjoepie mentioned above?
!