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Building a Spore-Ready Computer

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January 24, 2008 1:52:38 AM

As suggested in the title, I'm building a new computer in anticipation of Spore (hopefully it's done slipping its release date). Anyways, here's what I've got so far:

Processor:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Processor
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=CP2-DUO-Q6600

Mobo:
XFX nForce 680i LT SLI Motherboard
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=2959594&CMP=EMC-TIGEREMAIL&SRCCODE=WEBLET03SHIP

RAM:
Two pairs of Corsair TWINX 2048MB DDR2
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=C13-2022

GPU:
EVGA GeForce 8800 GT Video Card
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?Sku=E145-8832

HDD:
Western Digital Caviar 500GB


Case:
Thermaltake Armor Series Full Tower Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16811133021


To complete the system as I want it, I need:
1) power supply
2) CPU cooling
3) DVD burner

Later down the road, I would like to add a second 8800GT (for dual SLI graphics) and a second HDD (which I plan to set up in a RAID 1 configuration).

My biggest concern is the power supply. I want one big enough to meet the needs of my "down the road" system. I've ballparked at needing about a 700W supply. Does that sound about right, or do I need to go bigger?

Additionally, since this is my first home build, does anyone have any tips before I go ahead with construction, particularly concerning nuances of the particular components I've purchased. I'd love to hear about anything you learned the hard way.

Thanks in advance.
January 24, 2008 12:16:01 PM

Get this deal instead:

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Doesn't come with a cpu fan. & only about 9-month of warranty on oem cpu.

This site can help you pick out the right psu:

http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone_build_psu.html

If you're not overclocking, the stock cpu cooler is ok. Otherwise, get something like Big Typhoon, Tuniq, TR U120E, etc.

Print this out. Follow it through:

http://www.corsair.com/systembuild/report.aspx?report_i...
Related resources
January 24, 2008 1:00:19 PM

Thanks for the info. That deal you linked me to is the same mobo and processor I've already got. It's moot though, cause I already bought them in a combo deal that also included one pair of ram.

As for the PSU, this still doesn't help me decide how much power I actually need. You know of any kind of rule-of-thumb guide for figuring that out?
January 24, 2008 1:01:42 PM

Also are you going to use SLI.

If not get a good P35 motherboard
January 24, 2008 1:21:52 PM

Yeah, the plan is to go SLI eventually. Not now. I'm gonna wait for the next generation and then pick up a second 8800 in the price drop. Unless a great price drops in before then, of course ;) 
January 24, 2008 1:35:20 PM

Well the iffy thing about SLI is that when those RV700's and 770's with dual core chips, it will probably be better to get the next best thing (usually is)
January 24, 2008 5:00:18 PM

If ATI is doing dual-core, I'm sure nVidia will as well. And I'm sure dual-core ATI cards will still support crossfire and the same for nVidia dual-core and SLI. I'm not entirely sure what "dual-core" would mean in the context of GPUs anyways. It's certainly not applicable in the same way that a CPU can be dual-core.
January 24, 2008 5:46:27 PM

You can ask cnumartyr he seems to know a lot about them.
The RV700 is a 2 GPU design of the 770 so it would be like 4 cores.
(i think)
January 24, 2008 6:11:13 PM

For a DVD Burner I recommend this:

SAMSUNG Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - OEM
Special savings w/ media combo, ends 1/31

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 24, 2008 6:32:45 PM

I got myself a Seasonic 700W PSU. they make some of the power supplies for Corsair and Antec, among others. it's partially modular and more than adequate for your setup.

as for a CPU cooler, try checking out some review sites. I personally try to get the coolest air cooler that doesnt sacrifice in the noise department. Currently, I have a Coolermaster Hyper 212

DVD burner? up to you. not well-versed on them. Prolly a Pioneer or Samsung unit for me...unless you want blu-ray.
January 24, 2008 6:39:21 PM

Do you anticipate Spore will be that demanding? I admit I haven't done a lot of research on the subject.
January 24, 2008 6:56:10 PM

No system requirements listed as of yet.
January 24, 2008 7:00:52 PM

Silverion7 7:
Sorry. I'm a computer architect PhD student, so I'm very familiar with the details of CPUs and GPUs, so my perspective on "cores" and your perspective are probably quite different, lol. But as far as multiple cores and multiple chips are concerned, we can safely assume ATI and nVidia will both match each others' offerings. Workload sharing within a card would not be significantly different from sharing across cards (i.e. crossfire and sli), so, other than time-to-market, I expect multi-core offerings to be similar from each company. So locking into nVidia over ATI is not a concern for me.

evongugg:
Thanks for the recommendations. I actually ordered that exact DVD burner earlier today :) 

Serj:
I have the exact same concern: I don't want this system to be load. Case, GPU, and DVD selections were based heavily on customer reviews of noise level. Are you happy with the Coolermaster in terms of performance and noise?

seam123:
Yeah, I am expecting that much demand (at least, as long as the game lives up to my expectations, which I have no reason to doubt cause it's Will Wright we're talking about). Mainly, I want to be able to crank up every last graphical gimmick the game offers ;) 
January 24, 2008 7:02:34 PM

Maybe you then could shed some light on the whole multiple core thing....cause Im sort of lost
January 24, 2008 7:50:57 PM

Basically, CPUs take programs (a series of instructions) and execute them. To run faster, CPUs try to:
(A) guess which instructions come next before it actually knows (i.e. take an IF A DO B, ELSE DO C statement; the processor will guess it needs to start working on, say, B before it knows if A is true; why? because waiting to know if A is true takes a long time)
(B) execute multiple instructions simultaneously, assuming the instructions are not dependent on each other (i.e. A=B+C and D=E+F can execute simultaneously, but A=B+C and D=A+E cannot because we need to know A first)

Basically, there's a practical limit to how well the core can guess and how well it can execute simultaneously. To overcome this limit, we've started using multiple CPU cores. Each is given a separate program, and since guesses and execution from one program don't affect another, we can run them simultaneously, each on a separate core.

GPUs are different. First, there are no multiple programs available. As far as a GPU is concerned, there's one and only one program, a stream of triangles it is receiving from the processor. The triangles don't depend on each other; each one is a complete shape defined by colors and vertices. There's no guessing; the GPU just operates on the triangles it receives.

So say you have a GPU with 64 shaders. It will spread each set of 64 triangles it receives across the shaders, one a piece. Now say you want twice the power. You could use two GPU "cores". The first set of 64 triangles would go to the first core, the second set to the second core, the third to the first, so on and so forth. Alternatively, you could have one core with 128 shaders. In either case, the actual design of the chip looks the exact same because you get 128 shaders in either case. Therefore, if you say you have a dual-core GPU with 64 shaders per core, I say you have a 128 shader GPU.

So GPUs can blend back and forth while CPUs cannot. If you had one single program (like you do for GPUs), and you gave it to a one core cpu, a two core cpu, and a four core cpu, they would all execute it in the exact same time because in each case only one core would be used; they can't work together on the same workload.

Now, I must admit there may be some small differences in two side-by-side GPU cores versus one 128 shader core I don't know about (my research focuses on CPUs, so yeah), but they would be minor at best and very likely would not show up as an appreciable performance difference in the end product.

I hope that was helpful and not utterly confusing. It's tough trying to condense down what'd I've studied for three years into a few paragraphs, lol
January 24, 2008 9:11:37 PM

I'd suggest you wait until Spore is released and reviewed, if that is the only reason for this build. For one thing, by the time the game is released you will find faster CPUs and video cards on the market. For another, you might be disappointed in the game. I built my own PC for Hellgate:London and when they finally released it I spent $70, installed it, got a crash every half an hour or so, and gave up.

TBH Spore looks VERY promising and I will buy it too. :) 
January 25, 2008 12:28:38 AM

Yeah, waiting might be a good idea, but my wife's computer crapped out, so we really need the new system now. And while there's always a possibility the game will suck, this isn't just any developer we're talking about. It's Will Wright, and, as far as I'm concerned, everything he touches turns into video game gold. I still play SimCity2000 and Sims today, and I'm trying to get the original SimCity running on my Linux computer now that the code has been open sourced.
January 25, 2008 12:51:53 AM

I doubt spore will be that demanding, the pictures of the graphics that I've seen aren't that impressive.

It might require extra memory and HD space because it is so open ended though.
January 25, 2008 1:17:52 AM

Cool! Yeah, my Dad still plays Simcity 2000 every day :) 

Western Digital 750GB (WD7500AAKS) is faster than the 500GB version. Samsung Spinpoint F1 is even faster when it comes to processing videos or other things that involve large files.

PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W is Anandtech's PSU of the year 2007. Rated tier 1, of course. I have one and had no problems. I especially like that it's quiet. OK, two 8800GTs or GTSs will load it more than my single 8800GTX, so it may make more noise for you, but still it's a good choice. Corsair 620HX is also good, it just leaves less room for upgrades. I also like Antec Quattro 850W, but I don't think you need to go that far.

Samsung SH-S203B (or SH-S203N if you want Lightscribe - that's the same evongugg mentioned)

8800GTS G92 512MB is faster than the 8800GT (by 14%) and has a quieter and more efficient cooler

CPU Cooling:
I will assume you want something quiet. That excludes some excellent coolers just because they tend to exceed my preferred noise level under load (Zalman 9700, Zerotherm Nirvana). Check them out if you're less sensitive to this.

Depending on how far you want to overclock, there are 5 options I like most. The price and performance go from lowest to highest as goes:
- no overclock, or mild - just get a retail Q6600 and use the stock cooler, no aftermarket cooler needed
- mild overclock, with a cooler just to reduce noise and temperature: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro
- high: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185038 Scythe Ninja
- very high: http://www.buy.com/prod/tuniq-tower-120-ultra-silent-universal-cpu-cooler-w-blue-led/q/loc/101/205121071.html
- highest: http://www.buy.com/prod/thermalright-ultra-120-extreme/q/loc/101/205121074.html with http://www.buy.com/prod/scythe-s-flex-sff21f-120mm-fan-w-s-fdb-bearing/q/loc/101/202848626.html

The Tuniq and Thermalright beat the Ninja, but they cost more, and to actually get a noticeable benefit over the Ninja you need more expensive RAM than average, luck (i.e. a good CPU sample), more effort playing with timings and voltages and testing. The Ninja beats the Freezer, but it costs more and can be a pain to install.

www.anandtech.com has some excellent reviews of CPU coolers, BTW.
January 25, 2008 1:53:02 AM

I second the Pc 750. I have one 2 and it's been great with no hickups
January 25, 2008 2:44:01 AM

Spore will be like "most" other games you'll be fine with a current build, even though I agree with aevm.. Also, don't get your hopes up, games are always delayed, I try not to pay attention anymore.. I was a hair away from buying a console this weekend, but I abstained...
January 25, 2008 10:48:09 AM

Re: multi-core gpu's

FYI, ATI HD3870X2 will be out in a few weeks. NVIDIA 9800X2 will be out later.
January 25, 2008 11:13:59 AM

saintones said:
Spore will be like "most" other games you'll be fine with a current build, even though I agree with aevm.. Also, don't get your hopes up, games are always delayed, I try not to pay attention anymore.. I was a hair away from buying a console this weekend, but I abstained...


:pfff:  Vi Vill Convirt uw :bounce:  .. Dnt Rezizt th Force. (agh. :non:  .)
January 25, 2008 1:08:23 PM

I looked into the PC Power & Cooling Silencer, as well as several other PSUs, and all the reviews seem to have the same problem: the cables just aren't long enough. I'm concerned because my case is definitely on the large side. What's the best way to deal with this?

Modular PSU: can I buy longer cables, or do they always come in a standard length?
Non-modular: can I get snap-on extenders, or would I have to do something like spice in extra lengths of wire?
January 25, 2008 2:11:23 PM

Wow, that must be a large case you've got. The Silencer's cables are long enough for my Silverstone TJ09, and that's already a huge case. All right, I'll try to find another one with longer cables.

No idea about extenders, but I'm guessing that would hurt efficiency. Splicing in extra lengths sounds scary, TBH.

Edit: some people who reviewed your case at newegg are using Corsair 620HX or GameXStream 700W. Both are good.
January 25, 2008 2:59:16 PM

Your case seems to be comparable to my case in size. Maybe I just don't have a good concept of an average size for a gaming system since I'm so used to those little internet and Word only computers the rest of my family owns, lol. And I agree with you on the extenders and splicing, but hey, if the cords don't reach, I'd take lost efficiency over not working any day ;) 
January 25, 2008 3:44:12 PM

From what I saw with spore thus far its nothing amazing with graphics. Its nice but simply not amazing.... So I really doubt the system specs will be to high on it as most games are mostly about your videocard today. Any quad core should simply be overkill as well. But the hardware you selected is nice and certainly wouldn't hurt :) 

As a side note if spore is as good as it looks and if the concept is kept on track... I think my life will be complete!
January 25, 2008 4:02:08 PM

Yeah, my Dad has a cute little HP for his surfing and Simcity.

Lots of gamers get the Antec 900, it cools well and I suspect it looks very attractive to the typical teenager brain, with those blue lights. It also fits better under the desk than a TJ09 (4 inches less depth and 2 inches less height). Still, some complain it's too cramped for the 8800GT SLI and get a CoolerMaster Stacker instead. You could check that one out too.

There are at least 3 guys at newegg who have the Silencer 750 in the Thermaltake. This means the cables were long enough for them, I guess. Here's what they say:

Quote:
Cons: The power supply compartment is designed for regular sized power supply units. However, my pc cooler silencer quad fits.


Quote:
Pros: Great case. Fast Delivery. Open and with lots of room. I would like to say thought that the PC Power & Cooling Quad Silencer DOES in fact fit in this case despite what the above reviews say. It only requires undoing one screw that holds the wires falling through the top of the case; for the top speaker ports. Overall, very easy to get the large PSU in. Buy this case!


Quote:
Other Thoughts: Someone stated in an earlier review that the PCPC 750 Quad Silencer PSU would not fit without moding the case with a dremel tool. This is not the case! It fit in quite easliy. The only thing you have to do is remove the USB & sound port module before sliding the PSU in to place. Otherwise a perfect fit. This case is wonderful. Highly recommended.
January 25, 2008 4:05:15 PM

NuclearShadow said:
From what I saw with spore thus far its nothing amazing with graphics. Its nice but simply not amazing.... So I really doubt the system specs will be to high on it as most games are mostly about your videocard today. Any quad core should simply be overkill as well. But the hardware you selected is nice and certainly wouldn't hurt :) 

As a side note if spore is as good as it looks and if the concept is kept on track... I think my life will be complete!


I liked the graphics. OK, they won't fully take advantage of my overclocked 8800GTX, but it's probably better that way - less risk of overheating and so on. What's the latest ETA for release?

January 25, 2008 4:53:13 PM

Man, aevm, you're making me feel bad doing all this work for me that I should be doing myself, lol. Thanks a bunch for that :) 

Anyways, I'm thinking I'm sold on the PC 750. Thanks for the help, everyone.

The best Spore ETA is April this year, based on a comment from Wright last fall that the game would be ready in six months. So yeah, it's a very weak estimate, but I'm still hoping.
January 25, 2008 5:53:44 PM

kingdogbert said:
Yeah, the plan is to go SLI eventually. Not now. I'm gonna wait for the next generation and then pick up a second 8800 in the price drop. Unless a great price drops in before then, of course ;) 


That was the exact reasoning I had when I built my machine... so here is something to consider because I now wish I never went SLI.

You can view my machine in SIG.. I bought this stuff about 6 months ago waiting for 8800GTX to drop so I can SLI a second one.

Now the 9800 series is due out, am I going to buy a second 8800GTX?? NO they are still too pricey to justify... WHY wouldn’t I sell my 8800GTX and get a single 9800GTX??

I believe if you can not buy two of the BEST cards on market you might as well purchase one of the top dog and not run SLI.

Ditch the SLI, wait for the 9800’s and get what you can afford.


Just my opinion on SLI…


January 25, 2008 6:44:14 PM

Uh, just my two cents to the OP:
I've got an ABS Tagan ITZ800w (20A on 6 12v rails, can combine to single rail). I think it's 140 AR. I've got 2x2900Pro's overclocked, Q6600 @ 3.33 or 3.6, FSB of 1900 or 1800.

Runs smooth.

CPU cooler i have is AC Freezer 7 Pro with a Xclio A380BK-PLUS case. Load temps aren't higher than 61c.
January 25, 2008 6:55:43 PM

We'll just have to wait and see how much the series 8 cards drop when series 9 hits the shelves. They haven't yet, so we can't use present series 8 prices as an indication of the most cost-effective performance
January 25, 2008 7:07:50 PM

At least from the screenshots that are floating around, Spore doesn't look like it will be very system-intensive at all. I mean the graphics are cute etc. but aren't anything like say UT3 or Crysis.
January 25, 2008 9:12:56 PM

Looks a lot like LOTRO
January 25, 2008 9:44:00 PM

looks good. Unless going with SLI get a P35-DS3x or P5K-x.
January 25, 2008 10:58:45 PM

I think instead of building a system for Spore you should build the best system you can within your budget and then add Spore to your collection of games you will use on it. Like people have been saying already, it looks like a good game and it problay won't be that demanding on a system.
January 26, 2008 1:43:36 AM

if you want a really quiet CPU cooler, get any thermal electric cooler if it falls in your budget, usually about a hundred to hundred and twenty dollars, you can find the monsoon elite TEC on newegg, and the Ultra Chilltec on tigerdirect, they both actually the same exact product just from a different manufacturer, about 80% of the time, mine doesnt even use the fan, unless ive been gaming for about two to three hours, and even then it is still silent
January 26, 2008 10:21:56 AM

If you've been gaming for 2-3 hours, you should really be taking a long break by then anyhows.
Ryan
January 28, 2008 5:50:46 PM

Yeah, but they might just stop making the 8800 cards instead of selling them cheaper. They are expensive to produce after all. nVidia might sell them at a loss, just to gain market share, but it can't do too much of that because shareholders want profits.
January 28, 2008 7:35:25 PM

Making chips is easy and cheap. It's developing the chip and locking in the manufacturing parameters that cost so much. Once that's done, nVidia earns a HUGE margin over the actual manufacturing cost of each chip. Of course, this margin goes not to profit but to repaying those initial cost. For that reason, nVidia will keep making these chips for possibly years to come. There's just no way they die with the next generation.
January 28, 2008 7:42:29 PM

OK, but then how come I can't buy a 7900GTX for $50 these days? It's still better than a lot of the 7600GTs and x1650PROs I keep hearing about in other posts.
January 29, 2008 2:24:54 AM

You can't buy it for $50 precisely because of its quality. nVidia has people working out all the economics involved, and they're selling them for as much as they can. Looks like its about $500, based on a quick Google search. Still, this is a significant savings over the $800 to $1000 each probably cost when it was the new kid on the block. Just cause they have a new chip doesn't mean they're going to toss everything else in the clearance bin.
January 31, 2008 7:13:12 PM

Ironnads said:
If you've been gaming for 2-3 hours, you should really be taking a long break by then anyhows.
Ryan


Not if im getting paid $34.50/hour to play...
February 1, 2008 2:44:50 AM

bstep1989 said:
Not if im getting paid $34.50/hour to play...



Are you doing QA for a game developer? Man, that's a dream job :o 
February 1, 2008 3:31:54 AM

kingdogbert said:
As suggested in the title, I'm building a new computer in anticipation of Spore (hopefully it's done slipping its release date). Anyways, here's what I've got so far:




looks like you have plenty of time, sounds as though it will be unlikely until late '08 probably in time for Christmas.

Based on EA's press release today they seem happy to postpone it if necessary and in no rush to release it.
!