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New gaming build - which gpu?

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April 6, 2008 11:21:06 PM

I intend to build a new gaming pc in the next 2-3 weeks and can't decide what video card I should get.

To my thinking value/money or a budget only make sense by reference to the intended useful life of the pc. So rather than telling you I've £2000 to spend, I'm simply setting out the components I'm considering and how long I intend to keep them. If any of my assumptions appear out of kilter, please let me know. Many thanks in advance for your help.

CPU+cooling: Intel Q9450 OC'd cooled by Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme (can't find the Xigmatec in the UK - if someone knows of a supplier please let me know) and Scythe S-FLEX 1600.

I will probably aim for an OC in the region of 3.2GHz - 3.6GHz (3.55GHz seems sensible viz. getting a 1:1.5 multiplier)

I intend to replace this when the first Nehalem generation is fully released and there are reliable reviews available regarding performance & overclockability (I'm guessing about a year hence - if shorter I might wait for the first price drop). In the unlikely event that the performance increase over Yorkfields is not significant I may push the Q9450 harder on the OC and wait for the die-shrink of the Nehalem.

MOBO: 790i chipset - Haven't been able to find many reviews. I'm inclined to go with the EVGA over the XFX (with which manufacturer I have less experience) and the Stiker II Extreme. Suggestions would be appreciated.

Obviously, I will upgrade this with the CPU.

Memory: Need DDR3 for MOBO. I'm unwilling at the moment to pay for more than 4GB of 1333MHz with decent timings. The OCZ Platinum has 7-7-7-20. Since I don't intend to OC the memory, 4*1GB would be the way to go. I get the impession that the majority of informed people in the forums think 64 bit isn't worth it for games at the moment, and I'm never one to disagree with that rarest of creatures - an informed majority.

I will upgrade this when I have to (e.g. new MOBO needs DDR4/DDR5) or when it becomes cheap (e.g. if I had a DDR2 MOBO I would definitely upgrade now because the prices are fantastically low for performance DDR2).

GPU: From what I hear, the new ATI chip is expected for Q2/Q3 of this year. As has been suggested many times, NV's strategy seems to be to wait for the competition to catch up before releasing the next 8800-type quantum leap. This in turn leads to the expectation that the G200 (or whatever the rumour mill has it called) will appear in Q3/Q4. I fully expect that this will then be the best chip around and, as happened with the 8800GTX/Ultra, that'll remain the case for a while. I intend to get a couple of those (hence the 790i) as soon as reliable reviews are available.

What I get until then, is less clear. I want solid performance at 19*12. 9800GX2 seems overkill. I don't know enough to be able to work out quite how much frame buffer could be a bottleneck at those resolutions, so there are several options.

Memory-not-an-issue: 9800GTX or OC'd 8800GTS (G92)
Memory-a-bottleneck: OC'd 8800GTX or 2*8800GT 1GB (before you ask, I can't find the Palit 1GB GTS in the UK)

Monitor: 24' PVA. Either the Samsung 245T or the BenQ 241WZ

Hopefully, this will last me for this and the next CPU (i.e. for the next 2-3 years)

Case: You'll probably laugh at me for that, but I want a Coolermaster RC1100 Cosmos S. It's pretty. Unless the consensus is that there are far superior options in that region peformance wise, I'm sticking with it.

Same as with the monitor, I hope to keep this beyond my next upgrade.

Power: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750W. I don't expect to to ever use more than 2 video cards and the only significant OC will be the CPU, so I should be ok. My cabling skills, however, are somewhat lacking, so might I benefit from a modular PSU, such as the Thermaltake Toughpower 850W (or even 1000W)?

Again, I hope to hold onto this for 2-3 years.


Sorry for the long post, your help (and patience) is appreciated.


More about : gaming build gpu

April 7, 2008 4:15:25 AM

Since, you are going with the 790i motherbaord, i assume you are going SLI?
April 7, 2008 6:47:34 AM

Atavist said:
Monitor: 24' PVA. Either the Samsung 245T or the BenQ 241WZ


That's a massive monitor.
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April 7, 2008 12:21:25 PM

For the EVGA 790i board..., don't get the OCZ memory. I couldn't get it to POST and, from what I've been reading, others are having problems as well.

I bought some Corsair memory and it works just fine. Timings are a little slower, but I doubt it would be noticable. Some seem to have luck with starting with a cheap stick of Corsair memory, then upping the voltage and saving the settings in the BIOS and then putting the OCZ back in, but you have to keep the initial stick of memory around in case you ever have to reset the BIOS.
a b 4 Gaming
April 7, 2008 1:15:11 PM

Sounds very good, in general.

I'd get the eVGA 780i and DDR2.

For the GPU: if you're going to replace it soon anyway, spend as little as possible. That is, a single 8800GTS 512MB.

You should know that nVidia's drivers can be horrible at first. At least that was the case with my 8800GTX - the blue screens went away only when I got the November drivers. The card had been out for a full year by that time. It may be a good idea to get a GPU (or two) now and keep it for about two years. If you like that idea, get two 9800GTX cards now and add a third later, or get all 3 now.


April 7, 2008 9:29:18 PM

Thanks for the replies.

@comrade: Thanks for the tip. I wouldn't mind saving some money on the memory anyway.

@aevm: In terms of upgrading later this year, I definitely intend to wait until the initial craze is over and reliable reviews are out - if driver support for NV's latest offering is lacking I'll stick with my existing card (or get a second one and wait till next year).
April 7, 2008 9:50:07 PM

aevm said:
Sounds very good, in general.

I'd get the eVGA 780i and DDR2.

For the GPU: if you're going to replace it soon anyway, spend as little as possible. That is, a single 8800GTS 512MB.

You should know that nVidia's drivers can be horrible at first. At least that was the case with my 8800GTX - the blue screens went away only when I got the November drivers. The card had been out for a full year by that time. It may be a good idea to get a GPU (or two) now and keep it for about two years. If you like that idea, get two 9800GTX cards now and add a third later, or get all 3 now.

Agreed. DDR3 is not needed yet.
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