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New system/gaming rig/ a few questions

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April 16, 2008 3:49:48 PM

First off i'm not a newb to computers. I would rate myself near expert so replys do not need to be dumbed down :) 

Ok, I have been doing a lot of research over the past week. I want to build a medium budget gaming computer. I have allready decided on the intel q6600 because I am planning on doing some overclocking and this processor seems to be a good one for that. I'm doing an air cooled system and I know I need a good heatsink for it. My old machine is running a Zalman, I can't remember the name but it's the all copper one for an intel p4 ( i've been away from my desktop for a while). It's done a superb job. Judging from the new DDR2 vs DDR3 tests on this site, It seems DDR3 won't give me very much of an advantage, at least for now. So my first question is on the motherboard. Does it' make since to get a chipset that will support both memory formats? I would like to spend a little more on the motherboard so I have room to upgrade later on, if DDR3 gets any better. Right now i'm 95% sure about getting 4 gig's of DDR2 1066 of corsair XMS2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <=== RAM with Air cooler x2<<<

So for the MOBO, Should I get the X48 chipset that supports DDR3 and just use DDR2 in it, until DDR3 prices come down? Or should I save the money and go for the P35 or X38 ( a lot of people seem to really enjoy the p35 for overclocking, Remember that's my main goal with this machine.)

PSU's have changed so much since the last time I built myself a good machine. Is there a particular one that is better for OCing? I know I should spend a little more for the extra wattage and cleaner power since OCing definately needs a sturdy foundation.

Does anyone recommend a particular case for air cooled OCing?

The last thing, the graphics card. I am getting mixed signals from a lot of different threads, but more people seem to think dual cards running SLI are just a waste of money and you only get about 30% improvement. While Nvidia's website claims 80% improvement. Some of the threads I have looked at where old so maybe things have improved. I was leaning toward dual 8800 GT 512 MB on PCIe 2.0 or a single card for the same money that the two 8800's would cost The only games I play are first person shooters and i want this machine to be able to run Cyrsis smoothly. My monitor...( i'm going through a divorce now and I don't know if she is going to take the 17inch lcd or not) either the 17inch LCD (samsung syncmaster) or an old hp 19" CRT. I will also have this hooked up to a 42" plasma 1080i/720p TV for the gaming if I feel like it.

A company called Zotiac seems to offer cards allready overclocked "safely" So should I spend the touch more for one, or two, of those or go to a radeon, something like this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... From what I have read this card seems to OC nicely.

Anyways, I believe that's all. Please let me know what you all think.
April 16, 2008 4:19:58 PM

Ok, questions first along with some suggestions.

Biggest question - what is your budget? Working within a price range helps determine just what to get.
This may be unnecessary for some, but what are the actual resolutions that you'll be using / attempting? I don't know how screen size relates to resolution.

Finally, what style are you looking for? This primarily relates to the case. Are you looking for lots of LEDs and giant fans, or clean, quiet and cool?

For a non-SLI system, I love my P35. They overclock well and are very established, so you won't see that many bugs/issues with them. However, they tend to support lower fsbs, so X38 will probably give you a greater range for overclocking. By the time DDR3 is reasonable, the newer Intel chips will be mainstream and that'll require a new motherboard anyway.

Also, if you get a mixed board, most support 8GB DDR2, and only 4GB DDR3. I wouldn't be surprised if 64bit is the mainstream by the time you would want the DDR3, and 8GB slower beats 8GB faster anyway.

For your PSU, reliable is much more important that pure wattage. Corsair and PC Power & Cooling both make reasonably priced, high end PSUs. The PC P&C Silencer 750W Quad is one of the best, only $150 and comes with connectors to supply the newer (and future) video cards. It's overkill for a non-SLI system, but is more future-proof (especially if you want to keep it into your next builds and decide on SLI sometime).

For your HSF, the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 or Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme (aka TRUE) are both very good. The TRUE needs to have a fan added to it however. If you are willing to put in the effort, and don't mind spending $70 on the HSF, the Thermalright IFX-14 is possibly the most hard core air cooler around. It isn't as readily available as the other, and is significantly more complex to install, but from what I've read you can't beat it's cooling.

Don't worry about a factory overclocked video card. There are many useful guides on how to do it, and it's pretty straightforward for the level of overclocking you get from a factory OC'ed card.
April 16, 2008 4:21:42 PM

I don't have a lot of recommendations for you as I haven't been following the improvements in RAM, cases, or PSU's much since I build my last system, but I did have one pertinent thing to say.
I don't know what the max res on your CRT is, but I doubt it is above 1280x1024 for the LCD monitor. A lot of the benefits you would see from an SLI system are not going to be apparent on a smaller monitor with lower resolutions. In fact, if you aren't future proofing this system or plan on getting a much bigger monitor later and love your AA, you would be much better suited with a single card solution.
Related resources
April 16, 2008 4:34:30 PM

First off, we need a budget...just saying a build doesnt give us an idea of ur priorities.

Second a lot of things make NO sense. You cant take a DDR3 board and just put DDR2 in it...theyre incompatible... There are boards that support both but they are very picky on the ram and buggy.

Also, NO intel motherboards support SLI so if you want it you need to get a nvidia chipset. SLI is worthless anyways. factory overclocked cards is also silly cause most companies like EVGA and XFX support overclocking.

With P35 vs. X38/48, the 38/48 give u crossfire (SLI for ATI) and slightly more stable FSBs but you wont need to worry about that for a Q6600. I suggest a Asus P5K-E (P35) and stick with a single 8800 GTS 512

April 16, 2008 4:54:17 PM

My budget will be around 1000-1300 I just want to OC the q6600/ 4 gig ddr2 1066 / graphics card(s) The area's I need the most input is the MOBO and Graphics( SLI or no SLI)
April 16, 2008 5:02:32 PM

The thing with that is that with SLI u need a nvidia chipset = not best overclocker. I say skip on SLI because by the time u get another card, new cards are out that beat 2 old ones.

I say get a Asus P5K-E (P35). Its a great quad overclocker and is good. X38 is a P35 but has crossfire which is stupid with a nvidia gpu
April 16, 2008 5:18:26 PM

Which single graphics card would you guys suggest? I want to be able to play cyrsis. The only games I really play on the computer are first person shooters.
April 16, 2008 5:27:05 PM

Well, i mean the best is the 9800GX2 but thats really expensive. Another choice is the 9800 GTX, but i wouldn't recommend it because its just an 8800 GTS 512 with slightly faster clocks.

I say go with the 8800 GTS 512. It will play Crysis decently well (high with good playable frames). CoD4 would be nothing to it (which I personally like better than Crysis especially the Multiplayer)
April 16, 2008 5:42:53 PM

With P35, most people can get a max FSB of 450MHz I think so technically any good OC DDR2-800 would do (OCZ, Crucial, ...) or simply get PC-7200 (900MHz) since the RAM will not have to go far beyond 900MHz.

If you want to go SLI, you might want to take a look at EVGA's 750i FTW, a 2x16 SLI board that some people were able to push at 530MHz FSB for about 190$ so nice middle-ground between the cheap (in price) P35 and the pricey 780i.

In both situation, I would recommend against DDR3, by the time it becomes mainstream, you might want to change the whole thing anyway.
April 16, 2008 6:15:34 PM

first off:

a dual video card solution is the best choice for gaming at the moment if you're thinking about performance/price. I paid slightly over $360 for 2 Radeon HD3870's and have them overlocked. I can run crysis at 1680x1050 with all settings on very high, with a smooth 30fps. I can only run AA at 4x though, not 8x with those settings, but thats pretty much maxed out. the 9600GT is on the same level as the 3870 so two of those will take of crysis for you. If you want to play at a higher resolution than that, go with 2 8800GT's or 9800GTX's. The only single card solutions that can run crysis fairly smooth are the jury-rigged dual GPU cards. Ever since the Voodoo 5, I haven't been for dual GPU boards... and THG seems to agree in their reviews.

Memory: I've seen the SDRAM to DDR migration and then the DDR to DDR2 migration.. and the fact of the matter is that when you get to a point where you need to move to DDR3, you'll probably be upgrading your motherboard and CPU anyway. DDR2 is fast and stupidly cheap. Your pick of memory is good, but you're probably going a bit overboard. You can pick up some good OCZ or corsair memory with heatsinks for about $90 bucks per 4GB

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/category.aspx?c=us&c...

As far as a case, anything aluminum. I just recently built my new PC and used the Silverstone TJ07
http://www.silverstonetek.com/products/p_contents.php?p...

silverstone makes the most elegant PC cases. They are meticulously detailed from a system builders perspective and they're made with very high quality aluminum. IMO Silverstone is the top of the line. If you're on a budget, check out LianLi. They offer great cases, made very well at good prices.
April 16, 2008 6:59:24 PM

Ok, Here are a few more to throw out there. I now know I will be loosing the 17in lcd. So I will either be working with an old HP 19in crt for surfing the internet and whatnot, and switching to my Hitachi Ultravision 42in plasma ( when I bought the tv the're brochure said it did 1080p. I have found recently that it was a marketing ploy. ~sniffs~ o well. 720p/1080i does well enough. I had my old setup hooked up to it playing HL2 and it looked great ( old pc was a 2.8 P4 Asus P4P800 deluxe SATA 7200rpm drive and I think2 gigs of DDR 3200 maybe one I can't recall right now I'm 100miles away from it right now. The card I had on it was ATI Radeon x800 pro 256mb and it played HL2 fairly well, even on the plasma. With this machine I see myself using the plasma for all of my gameplay ( wouldn't you?) So I want the best card(s) that will let me play cyrsis wonderfully. I will be OCing everything which is why I had that link for the corsiar with the fans But I suppose anyting with 4-4-4-12 or 5-5-5-15 will do fine.


Zenther, so you are saying I should get the ddr900 and OC it to the boards max because it would be easier on the ram/board? I see some board go to 1333 for the ddr2 ram. It's it possible to OC that much? Although I see what your saying, spend less on the ram, even though it's slower, and use the money you saved to get a better graphics card(s)?

Also I don't reall have a preference between ATI and Nvidia. Just whichever suites the setup best at the time of purchase.

I see you have 2 hd3870's, did you see more then a 30% improvment? That's what I have been gathering. People are saying the extra card doesn't help much unless you are playing atreally high resolutions and I had squinting to see how many bullets I have left LOL but for the Plasma TV I have, maybe?

I am planning on buying a Blue ray drive to watch HD movies on the plasma.

Any MOBO suggestions are welcomed for overclocking everything. I have to go to work and I will be back on here in about 6 hours. Thanks for all the input ahead of time!
April 16, 2008 7:31:17 PM

sorlark said:
Zenther, so you are saying I should get the ddr900 and OC it to the boards max because it would be easier on the ram/board? I see some board go to 1333 for the ddr2 ram. It's it possible to OC that much? Although I see what your saying, spend less on the ram, even though it's slower, and use the money you saved to get a better graphics card(s)?
The "real" FSB speed is 1/4 of the "marketing" number (1333 is therefore 333, 1066 is 266 and so on). Then the DDR runs at twice the real FSB (333 is 667DDR, 266 is 533 and so on). With DDR2-800, you could therefore have a 400MHz FSB (1600FSB) without even overclocking the RAM. DDR2 memory rated over 800MHz are simply DDR2-800 modules tested to run at overclocked speed so if you set your FSB to 450MHz with DDR2-900, you should have no memory issues since the RAM was tested for that speed. But you have to know that some DDR2-800 modules would run just as well at 900MHz if they are of good quality.
April 16, 2008 7:41:21 PM

For overclocking, and performance for the price at the resolutions you'll be using, an X38 board with Crossfire ATI cards is probably the way to go.

Motherboard: Asus P5E - $225
CPU: Q6600 OEM - $235
PSU: PC P&C Silencer 750W X-Fire Edition - $150
RAM: G-Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 1066 - $145
Video Card: 2 X MSI HD 3870 - $360 (2 x $180)
Case: Cooler Master 690 - $85
HDD: WD 640GB - $130
HSF: Xigmatek HDT-S1283 - $37
Total: $1367

The RAM was chosen to be sure you don't have any trouble overclocking due to limitations on it. I realized that much of it is just DDR2, but you don't want your RAM limiting you when you have the potential you'll have with that motherboard / processor combination.

A little past your budget. Although, looking at it, I'm sure there will be plenty of opinions about it.
April 16, 2008 8:00:41 PM

Don't go crazy on the GPU for 720P resolution. You don't need Crossfire or SLI for that.
April 17, 2008 10:26:40 AM

Jim_L9 said:
Don't go crazy on the GPU for 720P resolution. You don't need Crossfire or SLI for that.



Yeah, I figured I probly wouldn't need it since my last setup was able to run HL2 with textures/ shades/ all the way up. the AA and AF would give me a little trouble sometimes unless i OCd the corsair ram to match the p4( uped the voltage) on the 42' plasma in 720p or 1080i with just the ati x800pro 256mb card.... damn every time I go to post Something comes up RL .. lol.. anyways.

Didin't know what about the ddr2 1066, I liked my original corsiar option with the coolers after seeing my friends ram overheat b/c of the heatspreaders being really close to each other. that same MOBO keeps coming up so I think I will probly go with that asus, just need to figure out the graphics solution. I was thinking, would it be better to spend a touch more for a single card solution then dual 8800 gt 512 ( again I don't care ati or nvidia, whomever is better) and about a year or 2 down the road just buying the same card again ( much cheaper by then) and putting it in sli to get another good year or so of gamming from the rig?

Gtg for now . thanks again for all the input


April 17, 2008 11:01:26 AM

sorlark said:
I liked my original corsiar option with the coolers after seeing my friends ram overheat b/c of the heatspreaders being really close to each other.
You have to understand that you will be paying A LOT for that fan, you can get 4GB of any good brand for half the price you will be paying the 2GB dominator.
April 17, 2008 1:52:14 PM

Wow, after looking up what 720p actually is in terms of resolution, ignore my previous post.

Well, not all of it. Instead of the dual 3870s, think about an 8800 gts 512mb. I still say get the X38 board. Unless a lot changes, and you start playing at much higher resolutions, a single card will work wonders. Also, a new single card in a couple of years will beat the dual 8800 cards at the same price as your one card now.

Because of price, you might want to think about ddr2 800 ram. I still think that the 1066 will give you better results for your overclocking (just because you know your ram will handle the faster fsb), but you can save $50 or more by switching to ddr 800.

Finally the PSU is overkill for a single PSU solution. I would still think about getting it though, I love mine and the price is good. You can get a modular 620 for the same price, or a good 550w for $50 less.
April 17, 2008 5:45:29 PM

Your probly right on the ram. So here's the next ram question. I have always thought that 4x1g is better than 2x2g. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Yeah the GPU is driving me crazy right now. It's so hard to make the decision. But, what if I bought a high end single card, and then 2 or 3 years down the road when it starts to have trouble, I buy the same card again and run it SLI/ CrossFire, whichever it happens to be. I'm thinking doing tha would give me a great machine now and when the time came, I can improve it just enough to make it another year or two. Then build another new system. What do you all think of that? I just want to be able to play Cyrsis on my plasma (720p or 1080i) with all the extras cranked up. I'm willing to pay a little more for good graphics. I just found I can increase my budget a little because I found a buyer for my old system. So lets see which is the best option out there, a single high end card or two lower end. I'm leaning toward single high end then adding later. lemme know what you all think.

On the MOBO, so the x38 is ati (crossfire) and p35 is sli ( nvidia) Am I correct? I think someone else said that in a previous post.
April 17, 2008 6:10:32 PM

X38/P35 are intel chipsets, not SLI.
NVidia has it's own chipsets: 650i, 680i, 750i, 780i and 790i. There are more, but those are the current mainstream ones.

The thing about NVidia chipsets is that they run hotter and are supposed to be more difficult to overclock.
Regarding single vs dual, finding your exact card in a couple of years may not be easy. It will be an older generation and retailers like carrying the more recent equipment. Yeah, you can get some older cards for pretty cheap, but the low end card of of an architecture 2 generations from now may very well be better than 2 of your current card, at very reasonable prices. In terms of bang for your buck, single is the way to go.

Additionally, SLI / X-Fire only really help at higher resolutions. There have been some benchmarks that show it's worse for lower resolutions, probably from the overhead of running SLI. Unless you go to a monitor that has higher resolutions than the one you're using, it won't help you.
April 17, 2008 6:16:04 PM

sorlark said:
Your probly right on the ram. So here's the next ram question. I have always thought that 4x1g is better than 2x2g. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
4x1GB of RAM might be a bit faster and overclock a bit better because read/write latency is dependent on the DIMM size (but not by a maginal amount). The "advantage" of 2x2GB RAM, is that you still have room to upgrade to 8GB later-on if you want to.
sorlark said:
Yeah the GPU is driving me crazy right now. It's so hard to make the decision. But, what if I bought a high end single card, and then 2 or 3 years down the road when it starts to have trouble, I buy the same card again and run it SLI/ CrossFire, whichever it happens to be. I'm thinking doing tha would give me a great machine now and when the time came, I can improve it just enough to make it another year or two. Then build another new system. What do you all think of that? I just want to be able to play Cyrsis on my plasma (720p or 1080i) with all the extras cranked up. I'm willing to pay a little more for good graphics. I just found I can increase my budget a little because I found a buyer for my old system. So lets see which is the best option out there, a single high end card or two lower end. I'm leaning toward single high end then adding later. lemme know what you all think.
It depends on how long you plan on keeping your system; in 2-3 years, you might want to change your whole system. I think SLI/XFire makes sense only when you want high-end up-front or if you plan to upgrade in mid-term (~1 year). Money wise, I don't know if paying more for a SLI board (+PSU) now, then buying a second card (cheaper then) makes more sense than just a simple good cheaper board+PSU then sell your old card and buy a new mid-level. I think SLI is a bit of a gamble actually since nobody knows what the future holds.
sorlark said:
On the MOBO, so the x38 is ati (crossfire) and p35 is sli ( nvidia) Am I correct? I think someone else said that in a previous post.
I might be wrong, but I think both P35 and X38 are XFire, for SLI you need an NVidia chipset (650i, 680i, 750i, 780i, 790i). If you want to go that way, I suggest the EVGA 750i FTW, very nice board without the associated very high price :) .
April 17, 2008 6:18:45 PM

litlrabi said:
The thing about NVidia chipsets is that they run hotter and are supposed to be more difficult to overclock.
I heard the same here, I think that is why EVGA's 750i FTW is equiped with active cooling on the NB. Sorry to keep mentioning this board, it's just that I think it's currently the beast board for the enthusiast on a budget :p .
April 17, 2008 6:19:49 PM

ok thanks for clearing that up on the x38 stuff. I have been taking in so much info the past week it's hard to keep it all straight LOL. Yeah, I see a lot of people praising dual 8800 gt 512mb but a single high end card would probly be just fine. I would spend a little more but from what I have gathered. I will be ahead to not worry at all about dual cards, now or later on. So my last question is the RAM 4x1g or 2x2g ?? are there any benchmarks that answer that one? i've had a hard time finding anything.
April 17, 2008 6:48:20 PM

Theres is absolutely no difference on performance....it depends on overclocking and stability. Having four sticks generally drops stability and makes overclocking harder. At the same speed (Ex. 4-4-4-12 800) with 4x1 and 2x2 there will be no difference.
April 17, 2008 6:55:57 PM

Never saw an actual benchmarks for 4x1GB vs 2x2GB, but there seems to be numerous discussions about it. As Silverion said, for exactly the same speed and timing, the performance should be the same. In the end the biggest difference might be availability & pricing.
April 17, 2008 7:02:45 PM

Ok I'm looking on newegg.com at ram right now. I just came across this for 75 bucks and they seem to OC good. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
79.99 afer mail in for 4 gig's that OC well. sounds to good to be true.

Also corsiar http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 99 after mail in

i'm also looking into the GEIL brand User comments here seem to be promising these are 1 gig sticks so I would need to get two sets. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


i'm thinking 2x2g is how I wanna go. So i can go to 8 gig later on.
If i'm going quad core, I should get a 64bit OS. Or, I can save the money and use the xp I allready have. But I hear you need vista to really enjoy DX10 games. Is this true? or should I save the money, run the copy of xp i allready have, and deal with a max of 3 gigs.
April 17, 2008 7:10:10 PM

i don't believe theres too much of a difference. As a matter of fact, latency is starting to have a very little impact on performance nowdays. It used to have a huge impact years ago, and many enthusiasts judged performance RAM on how low the latency is, but i don't think it matters much anymore. I think they just kept the timings in the spotlight for marketing. Read a few reviews, even the latest here at THG and you'll probably hear the same thing.

As for the GPU, i did go for the crossfire 3870's, and i did see a huge performance jump. But it is a valid point to consider your future upgrade potential. You'd have to ditch both cards if you ever ran into a performance wall later down the road. Here is my take on it:

To run Crysis maxed out, you must get 2 cards. Avoid the latest 'dual GPU' single cards. Get cards that will be fast enough to hold you over until the next Direct X revision, by then, you'll be forced to upgrade for the new features. As GPU card cycles go, your goal should be to get the fastest possible card in a particular direct X version. For instance, if Direct X 9 just comes out, you want your new direct X 9 cards to last you until 10 comes out. I'm very happy with my crossfire solution, but If i could go back, i'd probably get 2 GeForce 9800 GTX cards. (one if you don't need to max the settings out in Crysis). This will be faster than what you need right now and you won't have to worry when the next Crysis game comes out
April 17, 2008 8:31:04 PM

o wow, I can get two 3870 cards for 300 bucks. I think I found my baby....
April 17, 2008 8:32:01 PM

any suggestions on manufacturer and wether stock speed or pre OC'd is better would be appreciated
April 17, 2008 9:14:45 PM

U dont need pre OC cause u can OC them yourself...manufacture...get one with good support and try to get lifetime warranty
April 17, 2008 9:14:48 PM

Now i'm lookin at cases. Holy cow. 360mm FAN?!?! or two 250mm ... i've been outta the game for toooooo long. Though since i'm going to be OCing I think I will go for one of those. Any thoughts? Also, Any thoughts on PSU? to support the two 3870's
April 17, 2008 9:25:37 PM

Well, I'm thinking for the extra 20 a piece. With them being ASUS cards i feel I should be ok . ASUS board, ASUS graphics, they should work fine together. ASUS has always been good to me. I get a free game with each one. ( lol two of the same... o well ). 851mhz clock over 750 or 775 with most others. This one seems to have a nice heatsink on it as well. If you all think a different manufacturer would be better please let me know, just go to newegg and search for the 3870 cards. i'm buying everything from there. let me know. I gotta go to work for the evening, I will post again tomorrow morning.
!