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Can an experienced builder take a look at my build...

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March 24, 2008 1:19:43 PM

I am going to be building my first computer on my own here soon, something I have wanted to do for a long time. Here are the parts I plan to use and my reasoning, but I would appreciate the input of any experienced builders.

1 - Case - Antec Nine Hundred Mid Tower Gamer Case (Retail) (100$)

I like the look of this case, especially with the tray on top for my iPod and such along with front USB support and the clear windows on the side.

1 - CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q6600 2.4GHz (250$)

I want a quad core processor and the Q6600 seems like it will be good for a while to come and the price point is about what I was expecting a CPU to cost me.

1 - Mobo - GIGABYTE GA-EX38-DQ6 ATX Motherboard (260$)

I like this board. It may be a bit more than I was expecting to drop on the mobo, but I plan on getting into PC gaming in the future and would like a board that will support crossfire for my PC gaming. I also needed a board that has support for front side ports on my case and it seems like this mobo has what I need to support the case I am buying.

1 - HDD - Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 1TB ST31000340AS SATA-II 32MB Cache (240$)

I am going to need a huge hard drive because I will be buying a Black Magic HD capture card and will be recording HD video to my PC (XBox game capturing). This seems like a good hard and has the 1TB I am desiring. Would 2 500 HDDs be better than 1 big HDD though?

2 - RAM - Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2-1066 CL5-5-5-15 Dual Channel Kit Retail BL2KIT12864AA1065 (85$)

RAM is RAM, but this is a good brand. I know that intially anything over 3 GBs is overkill being that I will only be using a 32 bit OS, but when the driver support is there, I would defintiely like to move to a 64 bit OS.

1 - Graphics Card - Sapphire ATI Radeon HD3870 512MB DDR4 2DVI/HDCP PCI-Express Video Card (200$)

This was on Tom's Hardwares March guide as one of the best graphics cards for your money, so I went with this. If I come across games in the future that are more graphics intesive than this card can handle, I can always upgrade or the mobo I selected is crossfire compatible.

1 - PSU - Gigabyte GE-S800A-D1 ODIN GT 800W Software Control Power Supply (180$)

This may be a bit overkill, but I LOVE the cable management system and if I ever go to crossfire, I will need the extra wattage. Everything about this PSU seems to impress me, but maybe I am missing something as I know very little about PSUs.

1 - DVD Drive - SONY NEC AD-7190A-OB BLACK DUAL DVDRW CDRW EIDE COMBO DRIVE (45$)

This was the downer. I wanted a Blu Ray writable drive but they are too much IMO. So my plan is just to use this cheapy drive and when prices on writable Blu Ray drives drop into the 200$ price region, I will add one to the computer.

So that is my build. Opinion, questions, or comments are welcome. As I said, this is my first build and I have done a lot of research. But I defer to the experts for your input and I look forward to any and all replies! Thanks guys!
March 24, 2008 1:57:16 PM

Unless you are gaming on a 24" or larger monitor do not worry about Crossfire. There will always be a single card solution to compete with the best SLI/Crossfire systems have to offer. There's no reason to spend $260 on a motherboard.

Unless you are doing extreme overclocking, drop the DDR2-1066 memory. I have that Q6600 OC'd to 3.2Ghz with a 400Mhz FSB that works perfect with my half priced DDR2-800 memory. 1066 is a waste of money.

Go with the 1TB drive. And that's a great/FAST drive.

Haven't heard much about Gigabyte PSUs really. I tend to usually go with Seasonic, PC Power & Cooling, and Antec PSUs. But thats me. 800W is overkill for that system, but isn't hurting anything.

Intel's new 45nm quad core CPUs are coming out now. Might want to consider them over the Q6600 which is over a year old now.

The 3870 is a good card. And I just read the price is dropping to $170 for it. Its a good card. In 2 years when it begins to really slow down in games, having a 2nd one in crossfire wont help much at all. It will still be slow. You're better off just upgrading to whatever is new and good.
March 24, 2008 2:18:47 PM

Everything seems great. You may want to invest in another HDD and go RAID. One of my harddrives just failed (it was 6 months old); I dont know about you but i'd hate to lose all that info.
Related resources
March 24, 2008 2:23:24 PM

take 2 500 gb hdds, better £/GB and best security and safety + managment.
another PSU like the corsairs 620hx is absolute best choice. (that system with 2x 3870 will peak at 400-410w )
i'd sugest the 45nm cpu's as well

Cheers
March 24, 2008 2:25:10 PM

Thanks for the reply. What board would you recommend foy my system then? It needs to have support for front USB and firewire as these are on the case I picked out. I saw your sig and it looks like you are using the same case I picked out. Are you happy with it?

Also, where did you learn how to overclock? I have never done this before, but we all have to start somewhere. Also, is the heatsink and fan that comes with the processor in a retail box fine, or should I look into an upgrade? If so, what is good and is there anything else I would need? I saw some guy had some silver stuff he put on the processor before installing a third party fan, but I forget what it was.
March 24, 2008 2:30:04 PM

gotta agree with deuce here i would go with a single 8800gt,to hell with sli/crossfire too costly,not energy efficient,etc,etc,still it's your choice though,also take a look at the cheaper asus p35 mobo's,,,or not so cheap,somewhat better,i personally do not believe in spending one more cent than i have to ,,,and no more than i need to,,,,enermax,ocz would be my choices for a psu,,but,, any good brand name should do,..
in any event the final choice/decision must be yours as you're the one who is going to live with,look at it for some time..enjoy...:) 
March 24, 2008 2:44:48 PM

Thanks. Unlike most people who would post this and hope for one person to agree with their build so they could start ordering, I really am taking everyone's advice to heart. I think I am going to scratch the mobo I had picked out for a cheaper one, so now all I need is one that has support for front side devices (USB and firewire) so all suggestions are welcome. It sounds like the RAM might be overkill too, so I will go with PC800, I think. I have been reading where people were able to overclock their Q6600 to 3.2-3.6 GHz, and if this is something I want to do, what suggestions does everyone have for a different mobo from the one I had picked out? What other considerations do I need to make with OCing?

Also what vendors do you guys like using. I have heard good and bad things about newegg. Whats the best places for great deals on PC components?
March 24, 2008 3:36:54 PM

once you know, you newegg.

DDR2 800 is a better choice for RAM. If you are running XP then 2GB will be fine, if you are running vista then get 3-4GB of RAM. (even with a 32-bit version)

crossfire is nice but sli is easier to work with and an 8800gt 512MB is better than an 3870 anyway so that's a win.

always, always, always have 2 or more physically seperate HDD's. You can have the 1TB drive but my suggestion would be 2 - 500GB drives in a RAID 0 and 1 - 120/250 GB HDD as your windows drive...but if cost is a priority then that would change the setup according to your wallet.

over all, you done well. its more personal preference at this point.
March 24, 2008 3:42:00 PM

I'd probably go with a single card solution as well, though people will argue both for and against xfire/sli. An 8800GTS (512MB) would probably work well for you, though if you're not running anything too demanding the ATI 3870 isn't too bad.

You'll want to replace the stock HSF if you plan on overclocking to the 3.2 - 3.6ghz mark.

For motherboards I'd go with either P35 or X38. The Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L is a decent board for around $90.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I don't have any experience with Gigabyte PSUs so I can't really tell you if that one is good or bad. I generally go with PC Power & Cooling (I'd probably go with a 610W or maybe 750W Silencer in this build) but they are not modular, which drives away some people.

Finally, you might want to consider getting a 2x2gb kit of DDR2 800 rather than 2x1GB so that if you want to go to 8gb in the future you don't have to get all new RAM. Crucial is my preferred RAM so I like your choice, and as others have said the 800 is fine for a 3.6ghz overclock.

I get most of my parts from newegg and have had good experiences for the most part.

There's a very good guide on overclocking the Q6600 on these forums. The thermal paste was probably Arctic Silver 5, but I believe the Arctic Cooling MX-2 is more popular these days.

Edit: Also, that DVD drive is kind of pricy. You should be able to get something cheaper; Samsung or Lite-On generally run less than Sony. Retail drives come with the DVD software so that's something to consider. SATA drives have smaller cables. I'd go SATA over IDE.
March 24, 2008 4:02:23 PM

Thanks guys. Tons of great info. I love these forums. I am looking forward to getting my tax refund so I can start buying stuff!
March 24, 2008 6:16:33 PM

Hey guys,

I have made some changes based on the suggestions, but the mobo still perplexes me. I understand I may be overbuying on it, but I can't find a good, reasonably priced one, that has support for the front 2 USB ports and the front firewire port the case has. Anybody have a good suggestion on a mobo that supports 2 front USB port and and one front firewire port?
March 24, 2008 7:08:29 PM

Looks like a good system build. If you ever need more fps, you can always add another 3870.

Hard drives - i've always went with small capacity, high speed drives in a RAID 0 to run all of my applications on. If you need additional space for music, movies and such, consider getting a single large drive. I suggest 2 Western Digital Raptors 36GB or 75GB in a RAID 0 setup. Then 1 large drive like a 500GB or 750GB for everything else.

With this setup, you can easily reformat and reinstall your OS on a regular basis to keep your machine running smooth. You can also do other system tweaks, like moving your page file to the larger, slower drive and disabling it on the faster drives to improve some application performance.

If you can't afford the raptors, then 2 drives are better than 1. Leave the 1TB drive behind and go with 2 500GB drive in a RAID setup. You can setup RAID 0 for speed or RAID 1 for redundancy and reliability.

Processor
- The Q6600 is a solid choice, but the Q9000 series has just launched and although they are in short supply, the wait is well worth it. They're on a new manufacturing process (45nm), they use less power, have an increase in cache and are just plain faster. I chose to go with the Q9450, which seems to be the all around best buy in the quad core market.
March 24, 2008 7:09:52 PM

I would browse Abit and Asus products. I've had the most success and reliability with those two brands.

If you can post a list of the features you're concerned about when choosing one, i can help you prioritize a bit.
March 24, 2008 8:22:15 PM

I'd switch to aBit IP35 Pro + HD 3870X2. It will do better in games and it's about the same money.

The Gigabyte Odin is a very good PSU in fact. The Silencer 750W is better.

Get a SATA burner, not IDE. The SH-S203B is very good, for example.

March 24, 2008 8:34:08 PM

This type of post is what I really love about this website!
People from all over helping a person out setting up their first build just to be nice. :) 
March 24, 2008 8:39:54 PM

@OP: For the PSU go with a PP&C 610 or a Corsair 520HX. Go with a 8800GT 512 about the same price but a little bit more performance and OC quite well.

Benches:
March 25, 2008 4:51:26 PM

OK, so I have switched out the PSU and the DVD Drive based on your guy's suggestions and I am very thankful.

Now I have a question about the hard drive. After some though, I have decided to go with a 36 GB raptor and a 750 GB data drive. The idea is to put the OS and key applications on the raptor, and use the data drive for all storage (music, video, etc...). My question is, which RAID configuration would I use to do this? I read an article on wikipedia and it made it sound like in RAID 0 that if one drive fails, then both fail. I didn't know if this meant as far as system booting is concerned, or if the drives are somehow intertwined such that a corrupt drive would render the other one unusable. This doesn't make sense to me at all. For instance, is the data drive went bad, the raptor should still boot and run the system, I would jsut have to swap the bad drive out for storing data. Maybe I am missing something. Anyway, tell me your HDD set-ups, and given the set-up I am considering, but the best implementation would be. Thanks for the patience and suggestions guys, this has all been helpful, useful information.
March 25, 2008 4:56:00 PM

OK, I'm confused. With programs on the Raptor and data on the other disk, there's no RAID whatsoever in the picture. You can do RAID if you want to buy two Raptors and a big data drive, or a Raptor and two identical big data drives, or two or more of each, or something like that. TBH I think you'll be just fine with the Raptor+the 750GB disk and no RAID at all.
March 25, 2008 5:14:44 PM

OK. Thats what I wasn't 100% sure about. Thats what I thought I'd do, but eveyrone kept saying RAID RAID RAID in other threads that I thought this was necessary with multiple hard drives. Every computer I have ever had always had 1 hard drive and maybe an external hard drive for back up. I still have an external for important files, and I was thinking of maybe getting a ghosting program and ghosting the image on the raptor and storing it on the data drive in case the raptor fails, so that completely re-installing the OS wouldn't be necessary. Would this work, or is this just high hopes?
March 25, 2008 6:07:32 PM

I wouldn't suggest a RAID configuration for a first build. Just be concerned about getting the proper components and assembling them. RAID 0 = faster read/write but at the risk of causing both drives to fail instead of one.
RAID 1 = better data protection if one drive is lost.

Personally I've never had any drive fail on me. If you are nervous about that, pick up a 2nd drive and just back up your files to the 2nd drive every once in awhile. I don't really care about my data that much and don't think my data's security is worth the cost of a 2nd drive or setting up a RAID 1 configuration.

RAID 0 configurations do not increase FPS in games, all they help with are load times, again, not worth it imo.



As far as the Antec 900 case. I love it. It helps keep my OC'd Q6600 and my OC'd 8800GT very cool. With the help of Scythe S-Flex case fans and aftermarket heatsinks of course.

That silver grease you were talking about putting on the CPU is Arctic Silver 5. Its a very popular thermal grease. The retail version of the Q6600 will come with a decent heatsink and grease. The Arctic Silver just makes your CPU a few degrees cooler. Well worth the $5-$10 imo.

As far as overclocking, I learned how to do it from here and Google searches. There's a great Q6600 OC thread on these boards. I also found an OC thread for my motherboard that helped with a few of the things I couldn't pick up from the threads here. Just check out the Overclocking section here.


I would recommend the Gigabyte P35-DS3L motherboard as a great mobo. That being said, it does not have firewire support. You can buy a PCI card and run the wire from the front of the case to the back of the card to help this or use a different mobo with the support.

Check this out for a PCI card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or grab a mobo with on board firewire. But with the P35-DS3L and this card you'll only be spending $110.


Hope this helps.
March 25, 2008 7:03:51 PM

Yeah, don't bother with RAID. It's got some advantages depending on type (speed, data redundancy), but also disadvantages (glitches in BIOS or in hardware corrupting files, less hard disk space available). Leave it for a future build, when you know more and the hardware/software is better. For example I got 3 disks of one type and 2 of another, so I could try all sorts of RAID, but I didn't want to.

There's a newer type of thermal paste called MX-2 which doesn't conduct electricity. Also, some CPU coolers come with very good paste of their own already (e.g. Arctic Freezer 7 pro, Scythe Ninja).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186020&Tpk=MX-2

I don't know about ghosting. I just don't like the idea of having your backup on a different internal disk. I guess it's OK if you're just backing up the OS because it's just a convenience, nothing important. For something you really care about, you should do backups on an external hard disk or even better on DVD+R disks, and keep them in a different place than the computer. That is, in case of a lightning strike or fire or flooding the second internal hard disk will most likely die along with your first hard disk and with the rest of the PC. Viruses can also damage files on all disks, not just one. Then there's also user error, as in somebody having too many beers and deleting the wrong folder :) 
February 25, 2009 3:28:50 PM

That's an excellent MB.
February 25, 2009 3:30:04 PM

To bad this thread's a year old. :) 
February 25, 2009 3:39:47 PM

Oops...
!