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Want to build a semi-future-proof rig for <1500

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February 18, 2008 11:55:43 PM

Hey all, I'm new to the THG forums although I've been on THG for years.

I just recently decided to build myself a nice gaming rig and was looking for some advice on a few components.
Keep in mind I want this to be nearly top-of-the-line for at least a year...if that is at all possible.

So far with your help we have:

CPU Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
CPU Cooler Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme --------> Open to alternatives
CPU Fan Scythe S-Flex SFF21F -------> Open to alternatives
Motherboard EVGA 780i board = 250 USD
RAM PDP Patriot PC2-6400 PDC22G6400LLK -----> Chose 4gb of patriot extreme instead
Graphics EVGA GeForce 8800GT's or MSI... one for now one not too long after
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD5000YS
Power Seasonic 700W ---> Is this enough for the future? I'm beginning to think no.
DVD-RW Sony NEC Optiarc 7170 SATA

Here are my questions:

  • What do you guys really think about the mobo in terms of future-proof? (1-2 yrs is what I'd like, I know it's a stretch) I've read it's a great stable mobo not that good for OC but I'd only do the CPU. I did want SLI option though.
  • On the announcement of the 9 series nVidia cards, any day now: Should I wait to spend the 400-600$ on a 9 series, and will the top of the line fit in with my current system and how much is it projected to cost?
  • When is the next DIY Mid-range pc due, if anyone is an insider???

    Thanks in advance, I appreciate the help...I wanted to get this baby ordered sometime this-next week.
    February 19, 2008 12:44:38 AM

    Some suggestions:

    Mobo: MSN P6N SLi sports a 650i chipset, which is pretty much.... a 2 year old product. You should go for a more recent chipset, such as 780i. Personally, I opt for Intel chipset to couple with Intel processor, since Nvidia chipsets are not the best chipset out there, and they run quite hot. I would recommend either ASUS Maximus Formula, or Gigabyte X38

    Graphics: You can get 2 8800GT in SLi at the cost of a single 8800GTX, and with the performance exceeds that of 8800Ultra. So if you have a nvidia chipset (780i), 2x 8800GT are highly recommended. However, if you decide to have an Intel motherboard, which does not offer SLi capability, you can go with 2x HD3870s. They offer better image quality, and better driver support for multi-GPUs (this means you see more performance gain with 2x HD3870s than 2x 8800GT)

    Hard drive: If you still have about 200 USD left in your budget, highly recommend a Raptor X / Raptor 150Gb along with your WD Caviar RE2. Then you can put OS and execution game files on the Raptors, while using WD hard drive as a storage. You'll see some performance gain (faster boot time, faster load time)

    Power Supply: If you're thinking of a 2-year rig, I recommend Seasonic PSU over any other PSU brand. They offer superior quality, and much more stable power feed. Seasonic 700W should be sufficient (unless you decided to go water, and add another 1~2 graphic cards to your dual GPU setup.

    Now, some of your questions,

    1. As I said above, MSI P6N is based on nvidia 650i chipset, which is a 2 year old product (I used 650i since winter of 05). It is incapable of running newer Intel processors (45nm variants), and its a terrible chipset for Q6600. If you're also looking into overclocking (even slightest), you should look away from Nvidia chipsets.

    Intel chipsets not only are more efficient than Nvidia's chipset (lower power consumption, lower heat dissipation), they are also compatible with Intel's newer offerings. In terms of overclockings, they are enthusiasts' choice. You can either do X38 chipset (said above), or X48 chipset to have quad GPU capabilities (4x 3870).

    2. As for 9-series Nvidia cards, so far there are only 1 high end (9800GX2) and 1 mid range (9600GT) announced. 9800GX2 is just a dual-GPU solution on a single PCI-E card, which house two 8800GT GPUs. 9600GT on the other hand, has lower performance than 8800GT.

    3. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by mid-range PC. The next mid range components (CPU / GPU) from Intel / Nvidia due should be somewhere in March~May timeframe, with ATi's in June. They do not offer any superior performance gain than any current generation products. ATi's, on the other hand, promise significant performance gain over their current HD3870 solutions.

    Hope these help.
    February 19, 2008 12:58:27 AM

    Intel is changing sockets at the end of this year or the first of next. Everything will be new as far as CPU's and boards. If I do the build I'm planning on, it will last me longer than other's because I don't game or need the absolute 'latest thing'. I think you could do a build when the video cards come out and be fine, but others are going to suggest you wait. I'm using a pIII right now, can't do everything but it works fine for browsing and general purpose use.
    Related resources
    February 19, 2008 1:31:01 AM

    Wow, thanks for the great response, yomamafor1.
    I am going to try and work the raptor into my budget.

    A few more questions/comments:

    I've always been partial to nVidia, never had the gut to switch to ATI, but if I decide to go with the nVidia chipset which mobo would you recommend that's on par with the two you showed me? I would probably opt for 2x8800GT's then.

    If I got either the asus or gigabyte would the GTX still be a good single-card choice in terms of handling games coming out within the year? I've read a lot of reviews saying the GTX isn't worth the money...but isn't it better than the GT/GTS single?, I'd really like to max out settings for once in my life with this build withing this budget.
    February 19, 2008 2:09:27 AM

    remix said:
    Wow, thanks for the great response, yomamafor1.
    I am going to try and work the raptor into my budget.

    A few more questions/comments:

    I've always been partial to nVidia, never had the gut to switch to ATI, but if I decide to go with the nVidia chipset which mobo would you recommend that's on par with the two you showed me? I would probably opt for 2x8800GT's then.

    If I got either the asus or gigabyte would the GTX still be a good single-card choice in terms of handling games coming out within the year? I've read a lot of reviews saying the GTX isn't worth the money...but isn't it better than the GT/GTS single?, I'd really like to max out settings for once in my life with this build withing this budget.


    If you opt for Nvidia chipset, I would recommend EVGA 780i board
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (just for reference)

    8800GTX has always been a good card, but its just getting old. Compared to 8800GT, 8800GTX has only slightly more performance, while spouting out tons of heat, and costing around 450 USD. 8800GT on the other hand, only cost about 200 bucks, and pairing two of them together will yield you 8800ultra performance, or above. IMO, its a lot better than a single card 8800GTX solution.

    I also highly recommend a non-reference 8800GT. The reference cooler not only is noisy, but also very insufficient at cooling the chip. You can get non-reference 8800GT at the same price as the reference cooler ones.

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

    So, let's see

    Intel C2Q Q6600 = 280 USD
    Thermalright U120 = 60 USD
    Scythe S-Flex = 25 USD
    EVGA 780i board = 250 USD
    Patriot DDR2 800 4Gb RAM = 100 USD
    2 x 8800GT = 400 USD
    WD 500Gb = 120 USD
    Seasonic 700W = 180 USD
    Sony DVD-RW = 30 USD

    Total: 1505 USD.

    A Raptor X costs about 180 USD, so you'll be over-budgeted :( .
    February 19, 2008 2:16:45 AM

    Hmm looks awesome, that is more than likely what I'll end up getting :) 
    Thanks aLOT!!

    Actually the extra 180 isn't too bad because I plan on selling my current dinosaur: amd2500+, abit nf7-s, 1gb corsairs value, gf6600GT with the 120+320 7200rpm sata drives comes with DVD rom and DVDrw too so I could strip those out for the new rig. I wanted to ask in the range of 300, what do you think? and craigslisting it was my only option but I wonder if anyone on forums would be interested...maybe to put the amd2500+nf7 on a mantel as a...display of old OC pwnage?? :p 
    February 19, 2008 2:43:00 AM

    What kind of monitor are you using? If its 22 or below one card is fine. you wont see a big difference with two cards. I would go for the evga gts512. runs much cooler and quieter than an 8800 gt.
    if your monitor is 27 inches then yeah get two cards, but if you read here 90% of the people who want two cards end up running with one.
    raptors are alot of money for your games to load 5 seconds faster. They have no performance gain once in the game itself.
    The seagate 7200.11 500gb drive is just about as fast and its only 111 bucks. get two.
    February 19, 2008 3:05:58 AM

    I have a 32inch lcd as my tv but vga compatible (most likely not gonna be used for gaming, youd need a freakin huge desk) and I will probably buy a 19 or 22 inch since they seem to be pretty close. I never actually thought of that though, good point I might as well (for the beginning) keep it with 1 8800GT dropping my price by 200 - how much will that affect maxd settings gaming? FEAR/COD4/Obliv (alan wake in the future!) I wonder what gfx requirements alan wake will have...


    I really hope I can get something decent for my old PC, if not I can gut the hdds and dvdrw save a little...

    It'd be awesome if we actually made the perfect 1500 computer :)  these suggestions are great
    February 19, 2008 4:25:30 AM

    You can get Scythe S Flex SFF21F about 10 USD cheaper here:
    http://www.petrastechshop.com/12scsfscafan1.html

    EDIT: As for the games you just named, you'll be able to get very decent framerate with just 1 8800GT at 1680 x 1050 (22" size). So you can just get a Raptor X first, then upgrade to a second 8800GT in the future.

    Good suggestion. :) 
    February 19, 2008 5:05:05 AM

    mweidler said:

    raptors are alot of money for your games to load 5 seconds faster. They have no performance gain once in the game itself.
    The seagate 7200.11 500gb drive is just about as fast and its only 111 bucks. get two.


    Seconded. the 7200.11 seagates are how I'm going on my $1500 build.
    February 19, 2008 5:37:45 AM

    go with the 22". it would be a sin to build this and run it on a 19 inch monitor.
    I would prefer the GTS 512 but either way If you go with evga you can use the stepup program.
    the scythe fans are excellent.

    what case are you using? the antec 900 is excellent. I like my coolermaster stacker 830 also. you dont want the new equipment in a small case. get one with good cooling properties
    February 19, 2008 7:52:08 AM

    mweidler said:

    The seagate 7200.11 500gb drive is just about as fast and its only 111 bucks. get two.


    This man speaks the truth. Raid 0
    February 19, 2008 7:06:36 PM

    yomamafor1 said:
    A Raptor X costs about 180 USD, so you'll be over-budgeted :( .


    $1505 is at the bottom end of a budget that's > $1500
    February 19, 2008 7:57:02 PM

    Actually the Seagate 7200.11 beats the raptor in all but one test. so the raptor is a waste of money now, even in raid 0.





    Rattus Viola: Sino non they quisnam operor non have scientia futurus vestri rector.
    February 19, 2008 8:54:08 PM

    If you want a PC for more than $1500, I'd go top of the line.

    Do what I'm doing: qx9650, a 780i SLI mobo, two 8800GT's in SLI, 2-4gb of high speed DDR2 RAM (depending on OS), a case like the CM that cools your stuff well and is easy to work with, the standard stuff like HDD, OS, and inputs, and a PSU that will handle everything efficiently.

    All that stuff ends up costing in the area of $3000, depending on brand.
    February 19, 2008 8:56:43 PM

    I actually meant <1500, about to edit that title I didn't notice,

    question: EVGA 8800GT's for the step-up or MSI 8800GT's? Difference is about 60 bucks on newegg right now
    February 19, 2008 9:05:13 PM

    remix said:
    I actually meant <1500, about to edit that title I didn't notice,

    question: EVGA 8800GT's for the step-up or MSI 8800GT's? Difference is about 60 bucks on newegg right now


    I would highly recommend MSI's 8800GT over eVGA's 8800GT. MSI's 8800GT comes OCed to 620Mhz. Even with Evga's step up program, at best you can upgrade to an 8800GTS (which runs at 650Mhz), or unless you really want to, 9800GX2.

    Since 8800GTS is just a higher clocked 8800GT, there's really no point in buying it if you already have an OCed 8800GT. Plus, OCed version for 60 bucks less. If I had an Nvidia board with SLI capability, I've definitely jumped on it already. (but, that's just me).
    February 19, 2008 9:15:22 PM

    well your advice has been on point so far I'll have to keep listening :) 
    February 19, 2008 9:50:39 PM

    Here is mine Q6600/ 8800GTX stock, Vista64... In XP pro32 I get about 400-900 higher total score.

    3DMark Score 11227 3DMarks
    SM 2.0 Score 4628 Marks
    SM 3.0 Score 4950 Marks
    CPU Score 3319 Marks

    =========
    Here is mine Q6600 @ 2.76 / 8800GTX stock, Vista64... In XP pro32 I get about 400-900 higher total score.

    3DMark Score 11954 3DMarks
    SM 2.0 Score 4909 Marks
    SM 3.0 Score 5115 Marks
    CPU Score 3793 Marks


    !