I'm new to the forums here, so I thought I'd say hi and introduce myself before getting to my question. My name is Jordan, and I recently graduated from the University of Michigan with an engineering degree. The Dell desktop that saw me through college is starting to get old, and I've actually got the money to get a fairly top-end gaming system now. After looking at some of the systems from Dell and Alienware (and how expensive they were) I decided I was going to try to build my own. I've never done it before, but I have a friend who has several times and is going to walk me through the process. I mostly chose the components on my own, the only exceptions being the power supply and motherboard, since I wasn't really sure what I needed in those departments. He looked over the other components I wanted and made suggestions for a good power supply and motherboard for me. Here are the parts I'm currently planning on getting.
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Processor
Abit IP35 Pro Motherboard
Thermaltake Toughpower 750-Watt Power Supply
Zalman CNPS9700 CPU Cooler
EVGA 8800 GT SSC Video Card
4 GB Corsair XMS2 Memory
500 GB Seagate Barracuda Hard Drive
Windows Vista Home Premium
I'm interested in your general opinion of the system build, but I also have a couple of specific questions as well. I looked at some reviews of the Abit IP35 motherboard online and I read a couple that said people had had problems using them with the E8000 series Wolfdale processors. Does anyone know more about this, or what kind of problem it is? Is there a better motherboard you could recommend? I'm also considering the option of getting a second video card in the future and linking them. Will this system build allow me to do that? And is it even worth it to get a second card (I've heard some say that it's not).
For a 22" monitor, a single video card should be fine. Upgrade it to 8800GTS G92 512MB (faster, fewer heating/noise headaches). The IP35Pro is perfect for that setup. If you can find a GA-P35-DS4 cheaper that's also a great choice.
The IP35 Pro will let you add a second video card but only to use it with its own monitor(s). Actually, it can be linked with another video card in Crossfire, but not if the first video card you buy is an 8800 made by nVidia. (On that motherboard, you can only link two ATI cards in Crossfire, like the HD 3870 for example).
I don't like the Zalman 9700, but I'm a bit obsessed with making the computer quiet. Not everybody cares. A quieter and more powerful cooler is Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme, but it requires you to buy a fan separately. A good fan for it is Scythe S-Flex SFF21F. If you're not interested in overclocking the CPU a lot you might as well not get a cooler at all and get the CPU retail i.e. with the stock cooler. Or get something cheap but good like the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro.
The Toughpower 750W is a great PSU, but it's overkill there. Also, some people had problems with 8800-series cards and that PSU. I'd get a PC Power & Cooling Silencer 610W (or the 750W version, but that's overkill again) or a Corsair 620HX.
Thanks for the advice. I've got a couple of questions about it though. First off, is the upgrade to the 8800 GTS G92 worth the extra money from a performance standpoint (looks like about $80 difference on newegg for the eVGA version over what I was going to get). I do plan to overclock, but I'm not sure how much at this point. Will a ~600W PSU still be okay after overclocking (I'm not sure if that increases power requirements). I'm still hoping someone will know some info about possible problems running the Wolfdale chip on the Abit motherboard. Thanks for your help.
it looks liek a pretty solid build, tbth. if you OC 600W should be enough power if you don't add a second card... personally, i'd go for the best card i can possibly afford, and i have a penchant for the GTS, but then at 1680x1050, a GT should be well, and since you choose EVGA, step up can come into play if you decide you want that bit more power...
GTS vs GT:
The 8800GTS has 128 stream processors, while the 8800GT has 112. That should mean 14% faster, I guess. It also tends to overclock higher than the 8800GT. The dual-slot cooler on the GTS dumps the heat outside the case rather than inside, and it's quieter. No idea if all this is worth $80 to you. I'd pay it, but you may have other areas where the money is better used, like more RAM or bigger disks, etc.
I do have a case picked out, I'm going with an Antec Nine Hundred. I think I'll look into the 8800 GTS G92 some more and see if I can find a good deal on it, sounds like it might be worth the money. I also had another question. If I'm planning on overclocking the system anyway, do you think it's worth it to spend the extra $75 for the Intel E8500 vs. the E8400?
The E8400 is a great chip mine is running at 3.6 without blinking on a stock cooler. so if the 0.13 bumb is worth it to then go for it but you can oc up to 4.0 on air and stay under 65C easy.I do have the 8800 gt
and wish i spent a ltl more for the gts