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First Time Builder Seeks Reassurance

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March 13, 2008 4:22:06 AM

OK, so I've been wanting to build-my-own for several years now and would put my expertise at between intermediate and expert. Uncle Sam is returning all the extra cash I gave him during 2007, so I'm finally gonna make it happen. Please let me know if you see any real problems. Thanks!

I'll be using the system for High Def (HDV) video editing (from my camcorder), I'll probably try some gaming (but don't know yet if I'll really get into it), and I think I'm going to try some overclocking as well. I'll probably try and OC just the CPU and GPU. The performance advantages of OC-ing memory don't really seem to be there. That said, I may try anyway, so having RAM that overclocks well would be a bonus.

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Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP35-DS3P (I'll need the Firewire for the camcorder, and may want RAID in the future)
------I've seen some issues with latency and Gigabyte Mobos. Will this be an issue capturing HD vid from my camcorder?

CPU: Q6600 Core 2 Quad
------It seems this is a pretty good choice for OC-ing. Any suggestions on an air cooler (I'm not ready for liquid. . .yet)? How reliable are the reports of the Q9450 coming out in the next couple of weeks?

RAM: Should I go for DDR2 1066 or 800? I figure I'll go for Crucial Ballistix since they're so cheap right now, but I don't want to spend the money on 1066 if it's not a huge advantage right now.
------Also, 2GB or 4GB? Doesn't XP only recognize like 3.5GB?

Video: Diamond Viper Radeon HD 3870
------I wanted something with decent gaming power, was HDCP compliant, would make HD vid look good, and would offload some of that HD crunching from the CPU. Since I'm looking at a Crossfire only mobo, I thought this might leave that option open as well.

HDD: System: WD Raptor 150GB
Storage: Spinpoint F1 750GB (I'm hoping in the future to add another in some sort of RAID config)

Case: Antec 900
------How does this case/GPU/HDDs/PSU do with noise level? It doesn't need to be silent, but I don't want a wind storm every time I turn the thing on, either.

Power: PC P&C S75QB 750W
------This is where I could really use some help. Is this too much power? How do I calculate my power needs? I'd like to leave some head room for upgrades in the future - Crossfire, another HDD, etc. I hate not having a clue about this, so some education would be greatly appreciated!

Optical: to Blu-Ray, or not to Blu-Ray?
------It still seems a little early and I'm hoping prices will come down the rest of the year. Still, all that HD video is going to take up a lot of disk space. . .

OS: XP or Vista? 32- or 64-bit? My research can't really seem to come up with a concensus here. I'd love anyone's thoughts.

Thanks again for taking the time to look this over and give me your critique!
March 13, 2008 1:10:05 PM

Gigabyte's P35 are great choices, although I can't say I've heard about that latency issue so I can't really speak to that. Otherwise, what is it about the "P" model you need? You could save some $ and get the EP35-DS3R since it's RAIDable.

The Q9450 is due out in the nearish future, but nobody knows what sort of availability it will have; there's a really good chance supply>demand and prices will be jacked up for a while. And its price point is higher than the Q6600, it's the Q9300 coming in at current Q6600 prices. The Q6600 is a solid processor, if you can't/don't want to wait a few weeks then get it. I believe the Q9300 though is something like 7% overall faster than the Q6600, but that % is a higher when encoding and things like that.

You only need DDR2-800 for overclocking the Q6600. On a P35 (or X38) board, pretty much all you have to do is change the fsb in BIOS from 266 to 333 and you'll be at 3Ghz. Shouldn't need to mess around with voltages - you might actually be able to lower them! When the time comes, google some guides on overclocking the Q6600 on your board. Quick math:

DDR2-800 /2 = 400fsb. Q6600 Multiplier is 9, and stock 'quad pumped' fsb is 1066 (/4 = 266). Therefore, Q6600 stock speed is 9x266 = 2.4Ghz.
DDR2-800 will get you all the way to 400x9 = 3.6Ghz, which I wouldn't recommend. Try and shoot for the 3.2Ghz range if you like, and for cooling IMO the best two options are the Tuniq Tower 120mm (fan included) or the Thermalright Ultra-120 (fan NOT included). I would recommend non-conductive MX-2 thermal paste as well. Oh, and I would get 4Gb of memory for your editing :) 

Let's see...your video card is a good choice, although FYI: Crossfire on a P35 is a bit of marketing gimick. P35's have two PCI-E slots, but only one runs at a 'full speed/electrical' of x16, the second one runs at x4. And that is enough to gimp your card, so I wouldn't recommend crossfire unless you wanted to make the jump to X38 (ASUS P5E is usually the cheapest depending on sales). Otherwise, X38's and P35's are pretty much the same.

I can understand you wanting RAID at some point if you're video editing, but another option may be the Seagate 7200.11 HDDs; I believe the 500GB models are like 1ms slower than a RAID drive. And this is purely personal opinion based on forum complaining, but I don't think I would get a Samsung drive, I've heard of many untimely deaths.. but again, no actual experience with them, just ppl bitching online as is often the case :) 

The Antec 900 is my second favourite case, but I prefer the Coolermaster 690 because it's cheaper and has tons of fan options, up to 140mm in most slots if you can find them, otherwise use 120mm. Any case that's going to be air-cooling an overclocked rig is gonna generate some noise, but IMO more 120mm fans at medium speeds is much better than 80mm at high O_o Can't say which case would be more quiet though.

Power Supply: For your current right, that is more power than you need. However, it's an efficient model with a really strong 12V rail, which means it's great for overclocking Quad processors (power hungry) and running high-end video card setups if you do decide to go Crossfire (even with a 3870x2 it'd be fine). The PSU will only suck as much from the wall as it needs to run the system, so you're not wasting energy and it helps PSU's live longer and be more efficient if you mostly just keep them loaded in the 35%-65% range.

If you decide to stick with the P35 (assuming no Crossfire for this), you could just get a PC Power and Cooling 610W or Corsair 520W and be fine.

I dunno about Blu-Ray right now.. but I'm not a video editor so I dont know exactly how bad/fast HDD space gets eaten up... ideally though, I think if you could hold off until Black Friday or Boxing Week next year you'll find some excellent sales.

And finally, I'd say get Vista 64-bit so you can make use of all the memory for your video editing. Just do a double check that whatever programs you use for the video editing do support vista x86 (64bit). I'm sure they do by now, but ya just never know!

Hope that provides some insight...sorry it's so long, been a really slow day at work so far haha..

Cheers
March 13, 2008 1:42:43 PM

Whats your budget?
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March 13, 2008 2:39:24 PM

Wow! Thanks for taking the time, Jevon. Thanks to your boss for the slow day, too!

Budget not exactly fixed, but I'm hoping for something in the $1500 range. I think I'm pretty close right now. I'm mostly looking for that pricing sweet spot right now between perf/value.
March 13, 2008 3:58:57 PM

-Like Jevon, I'd sugegst looking at the X38 but with X48 boards now shipping, I'd also be taking a look at those. Don't expect them to be cheap outta the gate tho. They have em all reviewed over at Anadtech site and they gave the nod by a huge margin to the Asus Board in the X48 category.

-Note on Samsung F1's ..... the 330 GB hi density platters are the fast ones. So if the capacity isn't close to some whole number times 320 -330, it's gonna be the slower low density platters and won't match the performance of the 1 TB model. If performance is your only concern, at 750 GB, I'd choose the Seagate 7200.11, at 1 TB, I'd choose the Samsung F1. Recognize though that the Seagate has a 5 year warranty versus every one else's 3 years. Personally, the Raptor is not something I'd put in a machine today. Especially not with the reliability rating of "better than 12% of hard drives" I'm seeing for WD these days over at

http://www.storagereview.com/WD1500ADFD.sr?page=0%2C9

"According to filtered and analyzed data collected from participating StorageReview.com readers, the Western Digital Raptor WD1500 is more reliable than 12% of the other drives in the survey that meet a certain minimum floor of participation."


See the recent CPU cooler roundup on the site here...the Thermalright IFX 14 w/ Scythe fan seems the one to get ATM.

http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/02/20/cpu_cooler_chart...

Your PSU is an excellent one....but if you aren't doing crossfire / SLI or very heavy OC'ing, it's way more PSU than you "need". Ya might wanna review it's budget impact. Also for a 1st time build I have found limiting the number of vendors to be beneficial.....well I even find that sometimes after doing 68 builds :) 

I have had cable issues in builds before and for example by having Antec as the case vendor and the PSU vendor got me some free cable extensions. They also replaced for free the front case USB / firewire ports giving me USB 2 ones to replace the USB 1 ones that came with the case..

It's also nice not to let Tech support get you off the phone with the ole "it must be the other hardware vendors problem". So having MoBo and Vid card from same vendor can come in handy if it works for you.

I'd go for an Asus optical drive now (current buyers choice award winner 2 monthd running at newegg) and wait a while to add Blue Ray....they riding high with HD DVD just going into the toilet and are too expensive ATM. In a year I'll grab a BR, probably an external / portable job so I can sue on multiple PC's.

Why choose an OS when ya can have both. Two suggestions:

a) Buy Vista and then contact MS and say that it doesn't work for you and can you get a free downgrade to XP. Then you can dual boot using XP for whenever the extra performance is important to you.

http://www.engadget.com/2007/09/21/microsoft-giving-vis...
http://asia.cnet.com/crave/2007/09/24/downgrade-your-vi...

b) You can also get away with buying the Vista Upgrade even if you don't have XP installed already. Normally Vista upgrade requires you to have XP already installed on ya PC....but hey screwed up and left a big hole which lets you install the upgrade package by being a little tricky

http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/02/01/hack-and-worka...
http://www.mydigitallife.info/2007/02/05/buy-upgrade-co...
March 13, 2008 4:23:15 PM

oh wow, didnt know you could do that with the Operating systems, as soon as i get my stuff from UPS today and install everything, im defintly going to probably buy the vista upgrade and then have both operating systems!!
!