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Gurus: Please advise on my 2 Intel builds

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April 24, 2008 5:06:25 PM

Oh divine gurus of the hallowed halls of Tom: I beseech thee to critique and advise thine humble servant n00blet on his two builds.

Feel free to suggest other Intel alternatives, but kindly no AMD... and please don't flame me... it's a conscious and irrevocable choice to stay with the Blue team.

System 1:

This system is for "reasonable" performance with mid-range affordability and durability first and foremost. It has to last me at least 2 full years! Apps: Websurfing, Office stuff and heavy duty Photoshop. This system needs to play full screen videos at 1920x1200 on a 24" (maybe 26") and have a video out for a 32" RCA tube TV. No gaming at all.

CPU: Q9450. I'll OC to 3.0 GHz but no further. I need ultimate reliability!
Motherboard: Anything that's affordable and does the trick.
RAM: 4GB but if I can meet a decent balance between cost and performance I really want 8GB.
Video: 8800GT 512MB unless someone can suggest a better fit for me.
Cooler: Ultra 120 Extreme or IFX14 (minus IFX10) or please suggest another air. I'm a temp fanatic and want to keep that sucka cool!
Case: I'm making my own with two (!!!) 30cm fans. It will be a hurricane in there and I'll post the pix when I'm done.
PSU: Remember I'm on a budget but I do want enough steady, reliable juice for the system. The fans are running on AC so no need to be concerned with the PSU powering the wind tunnel.
Other stuff: I either have it all or I'll just get basic.

I'm torn between XP 64 and Vista 64. I had Vista Business and I up/downgraded back to XP when it would take me four minutes to copy a file that took 15 seconds on XP. I understand Vista SP1 fixes that but I'm also wary of the other problems some people have had installing SP1 on it. The only real reason I'd want Vista is for the ReadyBoost. What are your opinions on that? Is it worth it?

System 2:

The keyword for this system is "Economy" as I have to put this together for pocket money. All this system has to do is handle websurfing and The Sims on a 1920x1200 22" screen running XP Pro 32. I already have the case with a "reasonable" PSU, etc.

CPU: E4600. No OC.
Motherboard: Would prefer one with onboard graphics.
RAM: 2GB
Cooler: Stock
Other stuff: I either have it all or I'll just get basic.

Keep in mind that I'm in Canada so newegg is only a distant dream. But some of the bigger guys like DirectCanada, Tiger, NCIX, etc. are fine.

Thanks, oh great gurus! I appreciate your assistance!
April 24, 2008 5:28:44 PM

Dont get XP64 it is horrible and talk about no driver at all.

vista 64 is very good, especailly since SP1 much better dariver by the day, and i have no complients at all.

i fact i would recommend getting vista for both machine, its not a gereat idea to build a machine around XP since a(although they do keep extending it) they will eventrually will cut off all support for it.

Vista is no where near as bad as people make out and is a marked inporvement over XP.

IDK if building your own case is a great idea, do you know how to machine aluminium well? and considering allot of design goes into cases i would just go and buy a coolermaster case.

any PSU (+600w) will be fine for your system, as long as you get one with a good brand to it like: enermax coolermaster,hiperpower, akasa... not some random brand X bargain bin. (if it cot 50% less, really ask your self why) if your after reliability then you need a decent PSU, as that is normally cluncks out first.
a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 6:04:11 PM

"No gaming at all" and 8800GT is a bad combination. that 8800GT will be wasted and it will just add heat pointlessly. Something like 9600GT or HD3850 512MB would make more sense. Even 8500GT or similar should do, in fact.

PSU: assuming the 8800GT stays there anyway, something like Silencer 610W or Corsair 520HX or 620HX is plenty, and very high quality.

CPU: also look at the Q6600 or Q6700. I doubt that the Q9450 is worth the additional cost for what you're describing.

The IFX 14 is expensive and huge and total overkill for a mild overclock. You don't even need an after-market cooler at all for 3 GHz, especially with those huge case fans you mentioned. An Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, at most...


For the second build: sounds like a job for a prefabricated HP or Acer from BestBuy.

Related resources
April 24, 2008 6:19:26 PM

agree with the above, except the q9xx series is excellent. please if you can get one. much better than the q6600
a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 6:33:31 PM

Hey, it is excellent, sure. If you have media encoding software that uses SSE4 the Q9450 will kick the behind of the Q6600 even at the same clock. I just don't like that lower multiplier on the Q9450.

April 24, 2008 6:41:58 PM

So, the low mulitplier mean that he will have a high FSB which is good, the only downside would be if he were to do soem heavy Overclocking, which he isnt.
April 24, 2008 6:42:56 PM

for system 1 I recommend tht EVGA 512 mb 8800gt, it's a great card I recently purchased it and it runs great and overclocks lovely. 8 gb is a possibility, just get 2 4 gb kits of pc6400 ddr2 and you will be fine. I agree with the others as well go for vista 64bit, not XP.

For the second machine, why not get a a e2220 to save a few bucks, seem like that should be sufficient. I disagree with the person who said to buy the second machine from bestbuy. Build it yourself for around $300 you can have a solid system; a workhorse. I highly doubt you will be able to find a video card in that budget that will be able to run anything at 1920x1200
April 24, 2008 6:43:53 PM

oh and I forgot to mention if system1 will be a gaming machine you may want to look into an e8400 or similar over the q6600.
a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 6:51:49 PM

Look, I agree that the Q9450 is better, in general. It's just that for Photoshop, and at current Canadian prices, the Q6600 seems to be better value. Look at NCIX: Q6600 C$260, Q6700 C$300, Q9450 C$400. Performance in Photoshop is within 10% or so if you run them all at 3GHz. TBH I have no idea what he should do. If he uses Photoshop all day long, and he's got a fast hard disk that won't be a bottleneck, then it's probably VERY smart to pay the extra $140 and get the Q9450. If not, that money is wasted.

April 24, 2008 6:58:16 PM

No need for a gaming video card in first machine. Get a cheap ATI 3850 which will handle anything you want and more. Look for a relatively cheap name brand mobo. You wont be pushing it hard enough to warrant spending 200+ on a performance version. Aftermarket cooler is a waste. 500 watt powersupply is good enough. Stay with XP, Vista still sucks for file transfers. If the software you run, runs good in XP, why change?

For the second box Id take a look at getting a AMD 790g chipset and a cheap dual core AMD. Decent onboard graphics. Throw 2 gigs of ram in it, a cheap HD, a cheap DVD burner and your ready to roll. If you run Vista, go 64 bit and get 4 gigs of ram.

Not sure whats all available for you in Canada though parts wise.
a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 7:18:21 PM

We're not doing that bad in Canada. Check out www.ncix.com. There are things I couldn't find, but there are usually good substitutes. For example I wanted Noctua fans, couldn't find them, settled for S-Flex, and they're just fine.
April 24, 2008 7:19:43 PM

Would not more cache be better for Photo Shop?
avem touched on an important issue.. Hard drive(s)
What are the HD's that will be used?
a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 8:11:45 PM

Just my 2 cents on the HDD: with WD5000AAKS, my stock Q6600 never reached 100% usage whatever I did. With WD7500AAKS, I finally managed to get it there in DVD Shrink. From what I understand, WD6400AAKS is a bit faster even than the WD7500AAKS, at least in things like video compression. On the Seagate side, the 7200.11 series is excellent. Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB is also a very fast drive, but there are a bit too many complaints about their reliability for my taste.

a b à CPUs
April 24, 2008 8:14:33 PM

dobby said:
Dont get XP64 it is horrible and talk about no driver at all.

vista 64 is very good, especailly since SP1 much better dariver by the day, and i have no complients at all.

i fact i would recommend getting vista for both machine, its not a gereat idea to build a machine around XP since a(although they do keep extending it) they will eventrually will cut off all support for it.

Vista is no where near as bad as people make out and is a marked inporvement over XP.

IDK if building your own case is a great idea, do you know how to machine aluminium well? and considering allot of design goes into cases i would just go and buy a coolermaster case.

any PSU (+600w) will be fine for your system, as long as you get one with a good brand to it like: enermax coolermaster,hiperpower, akasa... not some random brand X bargain bin. (if it cot 50% less, really ask your self why) if your after reliability then you need a decent PSU, as that is normally cluncks out first.

Not true. I run XP x64 om 80% of my builds.
April 24, 2008 11:02:07 PM

Here's my 2p (im in the UK) I've built many machines with vista and XP, simple fact of the matter is that although vista is a fine operating system, it is a hog of resources. XP will generally run faster and smoother. I would stay with XP for now afterall XP will be good for a few years and A vista licence (OEM) isn't that expensive.

I'd consider a small raptor drive for your swap file, else have a look at the samsung F1 drives, either 500/750/1tb. prices are fantastic and they hold the performance crown, no arguments. as for reliability, I swear by samsung drives. Although i cannot vouch for their new range, I've never had any issues before. performance, heat and noise is second to none.

The new 45nm range of processors are better, but at the end of the day I'm not sure they warrant the extra cost, as 2 years down the line the software may start taking more advantage of multiple cores and such, however by that point either the q66 or the 9450 will both be outdated and crap in comparison. I'd say save you're money and get the extra ram. the Q6600 is a very good processor and you will not be dissappointed. At these kind of speeds, a second extra time to apply filters for the sake of $145, its hard to justify


As for the second box, AMD all the way their new chipset 780G(?) is capable of HD encoding even with a sempron so thats the way to go, if its vista cram in as much ram as you can, but for a more budget rig, XP all the way.
April 24, 2008 11:33:52 PM

@ dobby: My requirement for drivers is extremely limited. My printer runs off my laptop, I don't have any other peripherals, just a set of Altec Lansing speakers, and as long as all of the standard stuff that's in the box is working fine, I'm perfectly happy. The System 2 is going to my gf who is a complete Vista hater. She has it on her laptop now and complains hourly as to how much it sucks. Therefore, System 2 is an obligatory XP build. I'm not machining aluminum or doing anything that complex. I'm putting together a really "rustic, good ol' boy" case that will let form follow function. It will work great and look like a huge pile o' crap, but that's fine by me. It's gonna be under my desk and the only time I'll see it is when I vacuum.

@aevm: There is only about a $35 diff between the 9600GT and the 8800GT, and I'm thinking that it might be a good idea to go with the latter as I might be able to transport it over to my Nehalem system in 2 years. Thanks for the advice on the PSUs. I'm a real fan of the 45nm parts and Direct Canada has the Q9450 at $351 which is a pretty good deal:

http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=12200BD5998&vpn=EU80569PJ067N&manufacture=INTEL

Even though they're having a fire sale on Q6600 at $228:

http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=12200BD3212&vpn=BX80562Q6600&manufacture=INTEL

I completely agree that the Q9450 may not necessarily be $123 better than the Q6600 all things considered, however!

I don't want to buy a system that's already built as I have case, DVD burner, PSU, etc. to go in System 2 already.

@uria702: Can't go with the E2220 as my gf in hankering for an E4xxx and it's not enormously cheaper where I'm looking. Any particular timings I should look for on the ddr2 to handle the easy OC?

@Kaldor: Sorry but I have a serious allergy to Green hardware, so I'm sticking with Anything But ATI/AMD.

@rsetter1: My HD situation is well in hand. I have days when I'm on Photoshop for 10 hours straight and this system is going to run 2x7200.11-500GBs in RAID 0.

@gow87: The Q6600 at $228 is certainly tasty and tempting as a good way to hold on until Nehalem is out and priced reasonably at which time I'd likely have to ditch everything but the case anyway... As for Vista, is ReadyBoost really not worth the trouble? Otherwise, I'm sticking with XP64!

Thanks to all for the replies!
April 25, 2008 4:52:51 AM

Please excuse the double post, but I had two more questions:

1) Any comment on the KDS K-2626MDHWB 26" LCD? It's amazingly low-priced and I wondered if it was one of the worse screens.

2) For System 2 (the cheapie) what is the least expensive video card that will run 1920 x 1200 on a 22" or preferably, which motherboard has integrated graphics that will run it? BTW, I just found an E4500 for it at $118 which is a heckuva good price.
a b à CPUs
April 25, 2008 1:13:01 PM

I don't know any 22" that can do 1920x1200. That resolution is usually available at 24" or more. If you found one please post the model, I might want one too.

I had a GeForce MX 4000 in an older PC, it cost me $40 a long time ago. Even that supported 2560x1600. The problem is, what performance do you want from it. Playing DVDs at 1680x1050 worked, but it was a bit choppy.
April 25, 2008 4:10:45 PM

That's why you guys are the gurus and I'm the n00b. I got my resolutions mixed up between the 22 for the cheap system and the 24 for the good system. The 22 LED is a normal 1680x1050. Sorry!

The cheap system has to run websurfing and The Sims. That's it. The good system has to run "Websurfing, Office stuff and heavy duty Photoshop. This system needs to play full screen videos at 1920x1200 on a 24" (maybe 26" ) and have a video out for a 32" RCA tube TV."
April 25, 2008 5:03:06 PM

I'm not going 64-bit until there is an actual need or benefit. Right now all I see is headache.
April 25, 2008 6:38:08 PM

@aevm: Thank you so much for that article link. That really explained how The Sims work. It's all CPU and RAM, unlike many of the more complex 3D games. I certainly am learning lots of new stuff around here!

I've just gone digging in my closet and found an almost new 775 motherboard with an integrated Intel 946GZ. Do you know if there is some list somewhere that shows the relative performance of video so I can see where that 946GZ stacks up against various video cards?

@TC: My concern is to allow Photoshop to access as much RAM as it can take. Would you suggest sticking with 32 bit and just letting it take on about 2.5GB just for the app? I'm on a 2GB RAM system now (albeit with Vista) and it's doggone slow.

a b à CPUs
April 25, 2008 7:00:15 PM

Hmmm, in general integrated video stacks up badly against video cards. Sorry, I don't know of any site that benchmarks such things.

I found a reference here:
http://www.techtree.com/techtree/jsp/article.jsp?print=1&article_id=82428&cat_id=621
Their conclusions go like this:
Quote:
The 3D Mark 05 result proves that the on-board graphics is no good for gaming.


Quote:
Coming to games, the on-board graphics from the Intel 946GZ chipset is not even worth mentioning. It's best to stick to games like Quake 3 and Counter Strike which don't demand much of graphics. Don't expect 100 fps in CS either.


Well, I guess you could try it, since the Sims don't demand much either. If it's just too slow you can add a video card. It does have a PCI-E x16 slot, right?
April 25, 2008 7:51:38 PM

antonmadcow said:
@TC: My concern is to allow Photoshop to access as much RAM as it can take. Would you suggest sticking with 32 bit and just letting it take on about 2.5GB just for the app? I'm on a 2GB RAM system now (albeit with Vista) and it's doggone slow.



Well, sounds like you have an actual need for 64-bit, one of the few people that do! If you need 4+ gigs, then you gotta do it!
a b à CPUs
April 25, 2008 8:07:09 PM

^Agreed. esp. if Running Vista get Vista x64.
April 26, 2008 2:03:11 PM

Yes, the motherboard I've just discovered (it was in a box labeled Kitchen!!!) has the PCIe x16, so I can always plunk in a video card if the Sims prove unplayable.

I figure that if I can go with an OCd Q9450/Q6600 and 8GB RAM, all of Vista 64's huge overhead "should" be taken care of. I can hope anyway! Is there any reason to go with XP64 on such a build?

Given that configuration, what is the best motherboard to use?

Also, I'd like to reiterate: Any comment on the KDS K-2626MDHWB 26" LCD? It's amazingly low-priced and I wondered if it was one of the worse screens.
a b à CPUs
April 26, 2008 3:29:08 PM

Well for CAD, video editing rigs I recommend XP x64. The lower system RAM usage of XP x64 let the programs use more RAM. Also don't for get to fine tune the Pagefile if going with 4GB RAM.
April 26, 2008 4:09:32 PM

Kaldor said:
No need for a gaming video card in first machine. Get a cheap ATI 3850 which will handle anything you want and more. Look for a relatively cheap name brand mobo. You wont be pushing it hard enough to warrant spending 200+ on a performance version. Aftermarket cooler is a waste. 500 watt powersupply is good enough. Stay with XP, Vista still sucks for file transfers. If the software you run, runs good in XP, why change?

For the second box Id take a look at getting a AMD 790g chipset and a cheap dual core AMD. Decent onboard graphics. Throw 2 gigs of ram in it, a cheap HD, a cheap DVD burner and your ready to roll. If you run Vista, go 64 bit and get 4 gigs of ram.

Not sure whats all available for you in Canada though parts wise.

Vista SP1 has sort the transfer issues with Vista, now it is on par with XP
a b à CPUs
April 26, 2008 4:18:43 PM

The HD 3850: it's twice as fast as the 8600GT, but it costs more too. It could be a good idea, making the PC more future-proof.

That KDS monitor seems to make some customers happy and not work at all for others. Look at the newegg user comments for example. Too much of a lottery for my taste. I might buy it from a local shop (Future Shop, Best Buy) that lets me return it within two weeks without any shipping or restocking costs. I wouldn't buy it online.

The Samsung 245BW is the same price at newegg right now. It's only 24", not 26", but the same resolution. That means you have to sit closer than with a 26", that's all. I think I'd go with Samsung, it's the best brand in LCDs.
April 26, 2008 4:36:38 PM

I was looking at the 245BW as well and saw it at a local shop. It's a really nice looking monitor. I'm also tempted by that 25.5" Acer X263WBI which seems to be going at a great price. I'd really love to go whole hog for that Viewsonic VX2835wm and run it at 1920x1200 as the higher resolution would make the icons too small for easy viewing.

As for the 3850 I regretfully have to state that I would rather jump into a pit of vipers than give AMD/ATI one penny of my money. And yes, it does turn out that Dr. Ruiz raped my sister. :fou: 

As for the Vista 64, if I'm going to go for the big 8GB RAM, can I rest assured that the transfers won't take three days? Would I need to play with the Pagefile at 8GB?
April 27, 2008 12:52:00 PM

Sorry for the double post again, but any suggestions on the motherboard for System 1?
a b à CPUs
April 27, 2008 8:15:52 PM

^ P35-DS3L?
April 28, 2008 12:01:02 PM

That Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L looks like a good fit for my build, especially since I'm still on the fence over the Q6600 and Q9450 and they should both work just fine on it. How easy is it to achieve about a 15% clock OC on this board?
May 2, 2008 7:08:35 PM

TechnologyCoordinator said:
I'm not going 64-bit until there is an actual need or benefit. Right now all I see is headache.


Seems good now less Nvidia's sleepy driver development team.

Word, Playa.
May 4, 2008 3:19:28 AM

Excellent guide, Shadow. Thank you! I'll definitely be following it when I build!

Any news on Intel CPU price drops? I'd heard the next one was going to be in June sometime.
a b à CPUs
May 6, 2008 10:08:32 PM

Yeah, probably June/July.
May 7, 2008 2:47:22 AM

Do you think that any of the 45nm Quads will be heading down? I'd be overjoyed at the possibility of getting a Q9450 for the price of a Q6600. But $218 is a really good price for the Q6600, so I guess that expecting a 45nm part for that money is wishful thinking. What I don't understand is the pricing of the Q9550. It really seems like the extra performance boost is not justified by the extra price over the Q9450.
May 8, 2008 10:52:15 PM

Buying day for the big system is almost here. I'm split between the Acer X243WBD or the BenQ G2400W. The Acer is about $30 more expensive. Is it worth it? Are there any other recommendations for a fairly reasonably priced 24 LCD?
a b à CPUs
May 8, 2008 11:20:54 PM

Don't know much about Acer, but BenQ dose make pretty good LCDs (a few of my friends use BenQ LCDs and they are fine with it).

Q9450/Q9550 is not worth the price unless it is only a few $ more than the Q6600.
May 8, 2008 11:40:04 PM

Yeah, I'm strongly leaning towards the $218 Q6600. Can't really see going wrong with it. Especially if I end up getting the BenQ G2400W, I'm really starting to save some decent money.

At what OC level would the Q6600 start to lose "rocksolid" reliablity and stability on the GA-P35-DS3L and a top air cooler such as a U120eX? Let's keep in mind that for my uses I can't possibly risk any stability issues.
a b à CPUs
May 9, 2008 12:37:42 AM

~3.2-3.35 Ghz on the P35-DS3L
May 9, 2008 4:16:18 AM

So to throttle back a bit to leave myself plenty of security maneouvering room, am I correct in stating that 3.0 GHz is going to be just about as reliable as box stock on the Q6600/U120eX?
May 17, 2008 8:27:39 PM

OK, I've started accumulating all my stuff for the build! :bounce: 

The first thing I thought I should do was to get the case as I'm going to extensively mod it, so it's going to take more time than the rest of the build.

I just got in an Antec SX1040BII, I dove right into it and figured everything out that I need about the mod, but there were two structures in there that have me completely puzzled. They're highlighted below (ignore the fact that the image is labeled SX1035B... it's the same design):



What are those things and what do they do?
May 17, 2008 9:35:26 PM

Thanks for the pix. These structures certainly are strange things.

This one has six octagonal type slots



This one is present here and also another one further towards the front. Each one has four of these tab thingies which just pull out and look like they should attach to something.



I have NO idea what they do! :ouch: 
a b à CPUs
May 18, 2008 12:40:39 AM

I have no idea too. Try and find some one who has that case.
May 18, 2008 2:17:56 AM

antonmadcow said:
Thanks for the pix. These structures certainly are strange things.

This one has six octagonal type slots

http://i29.tinypic.com/106auqx.jpg

This one is present here and also another one further towards the front. Each one has four of these tab thingies which just pull out and look like they should attach to something.

http://i26.tinypic.com/fxecn9.jpg

I have NO idea what they do! :ouch: 


I have it, it's a POS the bottom deal are the plastic 3.5" side rails. Let me again state the case is a POS buying it will make you very unhappy.

Word, Playa.
May 18, 2008 12:48:22 PM

The plastic side rails! That makes sense!!!

One mystery out of the way. Now how about that purple octagonal slot thing?

As for the case being good or no good, it filled all my requirements:

- It's big.
- It's cheap. (I paid $20 because the PSU had been scavanged)

If you're referring to the airflow in the case, sure, the 80 mm fan vents are insufficient, but just wait and see what a monster airflow windtunnel it's going to be once I'm done modding it! :) 
!