I've just completed building my first pc. After a year of trawling forums and hardware reivew sites I finally came up with what I thought were the best options for me personally. I just want to share what i've done but my family are clueless and my friends think i'm nuts!! Anyway, here goes. Bear in mind I am a gamer and this pc was built with just that in mind. Please feel free to comment, good or bad. Would love to hear it all.
CASE : Antec Nine Hundred - I'm really impressed with this case. Good looking and well solid. I have all 5 fans on their highest setting so yeah, it's not quiet but really, you never hear it over your games or music. The LCD's are also not too bright or tacky like some of the other cases I've seen. Love the positioning of the USB and Firewire ports on the top of the case and the little tray comes in handy more than you'd think.
PSU : Thermaltake Toughpower Series. 850W. Seems good to me so far. Also, it's a modular PSU so only I've only inserted the cables I need. Makes everything that bit more tidy in there.
CPU : Intel E8400. Overclocked to 3.6Ghz by just upping the CPU frequency to 400. I don't see the need to go much higher than this right now.
CPU Cooler : Arctic Cooler 7 Pro.
MOBO : Asus Maximus Formula. I toiled over the mobo the most out of all the parts. Needed to be either X38 or 780i as I did not want any issues with posting with the E8400 chip. I'm too much of a noob. I decided to go X38 as it was slightly cheaper, supports PCI 2.0 and I don't think I'll ever go for SLI. It has crossfire support if I ever want to go the dual GPU route. I really love this board. It posted first time and flashing the BIOS with a USB Flash Memory stick was as easy as you like. It just looks the nuts as well.
RAM : OCZ 4 gig. 2 X 2 gig DDR2 800 sticks. Guess there's better ram out there but this seemed decent enough quality vs price wise. I guess as I'm using Windows XP , I'm not getting full use of 4 gig ram. Can anyone comment on this ?
GPU : I took my 8800GTS 320meg from my old pc. I did not think it was necessary to buy a new GPU with the 9 series coming out.
HDD : Western Digital Raptor 150gig. Small, but at 10,000 rpm, it's fast. I also took my old 200gig Maxtor from my old pc as all my music and videos are on it. I was quite surprised at how easy this was to set up. Just booted the pc up in safe mode, entered as an administrator and changed all the permissions so that the drive is now 'owned' by my new rig. Most of my games still work from what is now the E drive although a few did need re-installing. COD 4 for one ! Lost all my stats and had to start all over again !
SOUNCARD : Again, took my Sounblaster Audigy 4 Pro from my old pc.
DISPLAY : I was using my 32inch LCD TV as a monitor but the max res on this was 1280x1024. So , I've bought an Acer P243W. I can't tell you what a great monitor this is. Everything looks incredible at 1900x1200 res. This is some of the best money I've ever spent and really completes the build. There's a tiny amount of backlight bleeding on the sides of the panel but other than that, just a fantastic bit of kit.
All in all, this has cost me just under £1000 to including the display but not the GPU or soundcard as they were taken from the old pc. I don't think this is a bad price for a rig of this quality. It really is working like a dream. Running Crysis with all settings on high at 1900x1200 res and 2x AA and it's gorgeous and smooth as you like. It laughs in the face of any other game I throw at it. That said, I haven't tried Supreme Commander yet with loads of units on screen. That really used to slow the old pc down.
My only concern at the moment is the temps although there's divided opinion out there about the temp readings on the E8XXX chips. Coretemp is telling me I'm running at 37-38 degrees Celsius when idle. This does seem a bit warm although my room is also very warm so this may account for the slightly higher temperature. I have checked that my Arctic Cooler is fitted correctly. Looks ok to me. I've run PRIME for a few hours and got the temps up to around 55 degrees. I guess I'm not too worried. Just thought it would have been slightly cooler with the HSF I've chosen.
I'm pretty confident this rig will last a couple of years. The mobo can take all the new 45nm chips so I can drop a new quad core in there when they come out if I want. Will only be necessary to upgrade when the Nehalem CPU's come out. The board also supports PCI 2.0 which should be good for the next generation of GPU's if they take advantage of this technology. A downside is that it's not going to support DDR3 but from what I've heard, it's a while yet before we have affordable DDR3 at good latencies.
I recommend to anyone who is hesitant to build their own rig to just get in there and do it. It was really great fun to build and get up and running and was an immensely satisfying thing to do. Some of the best fun I've had with my clothes on.
Please feel free to critique this build and it's component. I think I've gone the right mix for what I require but it would be nice to hear from other enthusiasts what they think. Perhaps an endorsement that it's money well spent.
Very nice writeup. Very solid build. I wish I had access to X38 cuz it overclocks better than P35.
When your pc reaches an average of 60fps in your games, there's not much a need to upgrade the gpu.
Oh yes, don't worry about Wolfdale temps. As long as it's not burned out, it's not burned out. I see there's a ton of discussions going on in some forums about that. While they waste time debating it, I'm enjoying the pc & overclocking it. I was so inclined to jump in the debate until I read an experienced overclocker who said basically the same I did - if it works, it works. The only thing to worry about is the cpu temp, not core temps which are for TAT & mobos (that will shut down pc or throttle down when the core temps reach a certain degree).
If i were you i'd get a watercooling solution, so you won't surely have those high temps on idle. Just a thought...cuz i have myself a Thermaltake Tribe Vx External WaterCooler, overclocked my AMD Athlon X2 6400+ to 3.7Mhz, and it always stays around 35-37 Degrees on load and 28-29 degrees idle.
Thanks ackhilles. This is exactly what I think about the temps. They are no where near any kind of danger zone so I'm not particularly worried. As I said, my room is also always warm so this I think may account for a few degrees.
theseus, will post a pic when i get home this evening. I thought about watercooling but it really is overkill for what i want. I don't intend to clock this too much more. I might go for 4.0Ghz at some stage but even then, this cpu should do that on air without too much problems. This is what I hope anyway.
The reason I went for the Raptor was to run the OS on. I thought this would be the best for Windows in terms of performance. I was originally keen on the Seagate Barracuda 500gig which is only 7200 rpm, but has 32mb cache as opposed to the 16mb on the Raptor. Seagate was out of stock and I would have had to wait too long. I was getting all my other stuff delivered so thought i'd just chuck the Raptor on and get it all at once.
Plenty room in the antec for another drive though!! Just wanted something fast to run the OS on.
I got a raptor and just send it back after I heard what people were saying about it.. The Samsung Spinpoint F1 is even faster then 7200.11 but you only get 3 year warranty compared to 5 year with seagate. Personally I go with either of those options and run two in RAID 0, if you want a fast boot. You are talking about getting a 1 TB of room for about $200. Why I returned my two Raptor 150 MB.
Thanks for the advice chris. Will certainly look into it. I know FA about running drives in RAID and all that and that's part of the reason I stayed away from doing that. The price per gig of the raptor is pretty steep indeed. That said, my boot and shut down times are brilliant. Instant really.
Hey, one thing to keep in mind is that don't go over 1.45 vcore, says Intel, according to a review. I'm near that voltage. The common mistake is overclocking 45nm like it's 65nm: giving it too much voltage.