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Advice on my medium-high end gaming PC

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April 21, 2008 8:28:46 PM

Hey,

So I've had the same computer for several years now and it's time to build a new one. I'm aiming for under $2000, but it's OK if I run a bit over if there is good reason to do so. So far here's what I have planned:

Case: Lian-Li PC-A10B $239.99
PSU: PCP&C Silencer 750 $159.99
Motherboard: eVGA nForce 790i Ultra $319.99
CPU: Intel Core2 Quad Q9450 $379.99
Cooler: Tuniq Tower 120 $49.99
Memory: 4x1Gb Corsair DDR3 1333 $238.00
Storage: 2x Western Digital Caviar 500Gb $179.98
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-S203B $26.99
OS Vista Home Premium (x64) $109.99

Subtotal: $1704.91

Questions to be answered:

What video card should I get? I am definitely planning to SLI two cards, and am basically deciding between 2 x 9600GT, 2 x 9600GT OC, or 2 x 8800GT. The thing is, I am using a 22" LCD display that only goes up to 1680x1050. However, that said I want to be able to play all games at that resolution with AA and AF cranked (except maybe not Crysis). So will jumping for the 8800GT give me any noticable performance increase? Or would the overclocked 9600GTs be better performance that the stock 8800GTs? Or will I not be able to notice anything better than 2 stock 9600GTs? As a side question, I have heard very good things about eVGA's cards, so I was thinking of going with that. Would anyone else have a different suggestion to make?

Second, will the integrated audio on my motherboard be sufficient for casual music listening in addition to games, or should I go for something like the ASUS Xonar DX?

Thanks very much.
April 21, 2008 8:40:51 PM

2 8800gt will perform the best, out of those 3 setups. 9600gt with stock single slot coolers can run hot when overclocked. It also has lower overclock ceiling compared to 8800gt and g92 8800gts. Consider 2 g92 8800gts for a little more:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Something disturbing concerning 790i. Not sure what to make of it yet:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/249252-30-nvidia-poop...

Ddr3 is not the best value, as it only offer slight performance increase over ddr2 under realistic conditions. But if you have the money, go for it. And it's not like you have much choice, given 790i.
April 21, 2008 9:00:02 PM

Looking at this rig I find myself thinking :
$319 for data corruption or 207$ for a GA-X38-DS4 ($112)
$238 for 4GB DDR3 or $188 for 8GB DDR2 Corsair DHX ($50)
$180 for 2x500GB or $220 2x WD6400AAKS (-$40)
and finally ...
Why bother with SLI at 1680x1050 ... get a $200 8800GTS
The next generation architectures are due in 4 months.

Decisions decisions ...
Related resources
April 21, 2008 9:28:58 PM

Quote:
Looking at this rig I find myself thinking :
$319 for data corruption or 207$ for a GA-X38-DS4 ($112)
$238 for 4GB DDR3 or $188 for 8GB DDR2 Corsair DHX ($50)
$180 for 2x500GB or $220 2x WD6400AAKS (-$40)
and finally ...
Why bother with SLI at 1680x1050 ... get a $200 8800GTS
The next generation architectures are due in 4 months.

Decisions decisions ...


I second this. Especially the WD64800AAKS, I got mine in last week and have been loving it.
April 21, 2008 9:52:22 PM

Regarding the 790i, although those reports are somewhat disturbing, I don't think that the corruption problem is not as big a deal as the news reports are making it out to be. According to the actual Nvidia report:

"NVIDIA was made aware of a possible corruption issue reported by Anandtech. NVIDIA has been in contact with Anandtech and is aggressively pursuing any possible causes including extreme FSB overclocking along with certain types of high speed memory. According to all data collected thus far this appears to be a highly isolated issue."

Although this is Nvidia, and of course they want their products to look as good as possible, it is nevertheless true that the vast majority of the reviews of the 790i have been very positive.

It's true that DDR2 gives much better value for money at the moment, but getting a DDR3 board allows me to do an easy RAM upgrade in the future to 8GB. If I get a DDR2 board, I'm stuck with DDR2 until I build a new computer (unless I change out the mobo, but at that point it is basically building a new comp).

As for why I'm doing SLI, even two stock 9600GTs will kill a single 8800GTS in any game that can use SLI, and although this may be less important right now at 1680x1050, it will serve to much better future-proof my system for beefier games 1-2 years from now (ideally I'd like to not have to upgrade much for a couple of years).

Finally, I went with the 500GB HDDs because you get more space for the money and they are both supposed to be very good. The 640 might be a bit faster, but that's getting to the point where I'm never going to use the extra space.

Anyways, thanks for the comments, and keep them coming.
April 21, 2008 10:29:35 PM

Box Cutter said:
Regarding the 790i, although those reports are somewhat disturbing, I don't think that the corruption problem is not as big a deal as the news reports are making it out to be. According to the actual Nvidia report:

"NVIDIA was made aware of a possible corruption issue reported by Anandtech. NVIDIA has been in contact with Anandtech and is aggressively pursuing any possible causes including extreme FSB overclocking along with certain types of high speed memory. According to all data collected thus far this appears to be a highly isolated issue."

Although this is Nvidia, and of course they want their products to look as good as possible, it is nevertheless true that the vast majority of the reviews of the 790i have been very positive.

Marketing people make stuff up all the time. That's their job. PR people have to clean up the mess. The moment you overclock your rig you're likely going to have problems. Good luck anyway.

Box Cutter said:
It's true that DDR2 gives much better value for money at the moment, but getting a DDR3 board allows me to do an easy RAM upgrade in the future to 8GB. If I get a DDR2 board, I'm stuck with DDR2 until I build a new computer (unless I change out the mobo, but at that point it is basically building a new comp).

With DDR2 you won't have to upgrade at all. 8GB is the maximum amount for most current chipsets.
8GB DDR2 beats 4GB DDR3 in Vista 64bit. The benefit of DDR3 over DDR2 is minimal at best (1-2%).
Still it's your money in the end.

Box Cutter said:
As for why I'm doing SLI, even two stock 9600GTs will kill a single 8800GTS in any game that can use SLI, and although this may be less important right now at 1680x1050, it will serve to much better future-proof my system for beefier games 1-2 years from now (ideally I'd like to not have to upgrade much for a couple of years).

Midrange graphics cards become obsolete every 18 months. It's better to buy one upper midrange card every 18-24 months. Just my two cents.

Box Cutter said:
Finally, I went with the 500GB HDDs because you get more space for the money and they are both supposed to be very good. The 640 might be a bit faster, but that's getting to the point where I'm never going to use the extra space.

WD6400AAKS is faster. It's a new tech. Everything speaks for it.
Cost per gigabyte is about the same, but you do not get more with the 500GB drive.
$90/500GB = $0.18/GB
$110/640GB = $0.172/GB
Your last sentance in this frame is simply said a fat LIE. :D 

Box Cutter said:
Anyways, thanks for the comments, and keep them coming.

No problem, you're welcome. :) 
April 22, 2008 1:05:34 AM

I'm going to agree with Andrius. Currently, it doesn't make much sense to get the 790i. They just seem like a bad idea. SLIing video cards isn't always the best idea either. Yes, two 9600GT's are faster then an 8800GTS, but how much power do you need at 1680x1050? At that res, I doubt the difference will be that noticeable. (Crysis will run like crap either way, ignore that game.) Run one 8800GTS now in an x38 board, and upgrade to a newer card when you need it.

Speaking of which, while I understand what you are saying about DDR3, I also don't agree with getting it. The effective FSB for the q9450 is 1333MHz, 333MHz actual. 333MHz x 2 = 667MHz ram needed for 1:1 FSB:memory ratio. To "fully" use the ram that you want to buy, you'd need to overclock the q9450 to 667MHz, which I doubt you can do on air, and certainly not stable on a 790i board. Grab some 1066DDR2 and don't worry about it. By the time you'll need DDR3, I'm sure you'll be looking for an upgrade anyways.
April 22, 2008 2:14:20 AM

Well, regarding the 790i, if I do go for it I am at least going to wait for the supposedly-coming BIOS fix that will stop the OCing instabilities. If that doesn't happen, it's on to plan B.

Speaking of which, the reason I am going for 790i in the first place is because I heard that the 780i boards were just a rehash of the earlier 680i and also had several problems (such as running really hot). Is this not the case? Have people generally had good experiences with the 780? I have to say that at this point if I could get the 790i with DDR2 I would probably do that since, as everyone is saying, DDR3 is quite pricey.

The dubious value-for-money of the 790i notwithstanding though, I am somewhat surprised by the general lack of support for SLI. I am going by this graph (among other ones). At 1680x1050 in COD4, a single 8800 GTS gets 55 FPS while SLIed 9600 GTs get 82 FPS (which is probably CPU limited at that point judging by the graph). Although both of those framerates are very playable, it does show that in future games, the 9600s will stand up much better most likely. And 2 stock 9600s are only ~$70-$80 more than a single 8800 GTS (not counting any special deals one might find). In particular, getting a single 9800 GTX or something like that seems a bit dumb since it is as expensive as the two 9600s and definitely not as good. Am I missing something everyone else seems to know on the SLI front? (This will be my first SLI comp if I do it.)

Anyways, regarding the HDDs, I have now been sold on the 640GB drives. Thanks for taking another $40 from me Andrius. ;) 

Thanks again.
April 22, 2008 2:27:52 AM

In 780i they solved most problems from 680i (aka, ram killer). It runs
relatively cooler and overclocks much better, about as well as p35.
It's still a long way from x38/48 though.



As for graphics card, I'm not sure 2 9600 is that good a deal. It has
much lower overclocking ceiling, and the single slot cooler runs hot.
Besides, the sli motherboard that's required overclocks like a old p35
board, but cost $100-150 more. A g92 8800gt goes at $230, or $195 with
mail in rebate, and that's the factory overclocked version with a free
game. If you can get 2 9600gt for only $70 more, that would be an
unbelievable deal.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



Also, keep in mind Nvidia and ATI historically take turns as industry
leader. Nvidia's winning streak won't last forever. One day, you may
wish you picked a crossfire board like x38 instead. :p 
April 22, 2008 6:44:07 AM

Box Cutter said:
Am I missing something everyone else seems to know on the SLI front? (This will be my first SLI comp if I do it.)

Anyways, regarding the HDDs, I have now been sold on the 640GB drives. Thanks for taking another $40 from me Andrius. ;) 

Thanks again.

First of all SLI is a marketing gimmick IMO. It has it's benefits (higher framerates).
It also has severe drawbacks like power usage/heat generation/driver issues/a nvidia board.
Following regular progress cycles 18months from now 2 x 9600GT will be just as obsolete as an 8800GTS.
An 8800GTS has a base performance in every game. Not all games support SLI.

If the benefits outweigh the drawbacks for you that is your call. I'd stay away from it.
But I don't play F(rames)P(er)S(econd) games.

Always glad to spend other people's money for their benefit. :D 
April 22, 2008 6:54:42 AM

dagger said:
In 780i they solved most problems from 680i (aka, ram killer). It runs
relatively cooler and overclocks much better, about as well as p35.
It's still a long way from x38/48 though.
NVIDIAS chipset track record is a glowing neon STAY AWAY sign. :D 
dagger said:
As for graphics card, I'm not sure 2 9600 is that good a deal. It has
much lower overclocking ceiling, and the single slot cooler runs hot.
Besides, the sli motherboard that's required overclocks like a old p35
board, but cost $100-150 more. A g92 8800gt goes at $230, or $195 with
mail in rebate, and that's the factory overclocked version with a free
game. If you can get 2 9600gt for only $70 more, that would be an
unbelievable deal.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2x 9600GT OC ~$280
4GB DDR3 memory $238.
SLI + DDR3 board $319.
High probability of data corruption ... Priceless!
dagger said:
Also, keep in mind Nvidia and ATI historically take turns as industry
leader. Nvidia's winning streak won't last forever. One day, you may
wish you picked a crossfire board like x38 instead. :p 
I can't justify getting 2 graphics cards when all I have to do to make a game playable on 1 is turn down a bit of eye candy. Am I weird ? :heink: 
April 22, 2008 4:28:27 PM

Andrius said:
I can't justify getting 2 graphics cards when all I have to do to make a game playable on 1 is turn down a bit of eye candy. Am I weird ? :heink: 


Heck yes, if I didn't care about eye candy I'd spend a few hundred and get a console! :D 
April 23, 2008 1:17:38 AM

Box Cutter said:
Heck yes, if I didn't care about eye candy I'd spend a few hundred and get a console! :D 

Okey that's almost as silly as telling me you'd get a lotus elise as a people carrier.
$300 console = plaything
$300 console + linux = not so terrible value low budget pc

If you were getting your PC to play games and nothing else I'd understand.
$500 for 4GB DDR2 + X38 + 8800GTS to get 60 frames? ($8.33/frame)
$800 for 4GB DDR3 + 790i + 9600GT SLI to get 90 frames? ($8.89/frame)
You want some value for your money or am I missing something?

Why not go out all the way then? Buy 9800GTX SLI or GX2 SLI and a 30" screen! :sol: 

April 23, 2008 1:27:44 AM

Andrius said:
Okey that's almost as silly as telling me you'd get a lotus elise as a people carrier.
$300 console = plaything
$300 console + linux = not so terrible value low budget pc

If you were getting your PC to play games and nothing else I'd understand.
$500 for 4GB DDR2 + X38 + 8800GTS to get 60 frames? ($8.33/frame)
$800 for 4GB DDR3 + 790i + 9600GT SLI to get 90 frames? ($8.89/frame)
You want some value for your money or am I missing something?

Why not go out all the way then? Buy 9800GTX SLI or GX2 SLI and a 30" screen! :sol: 



Lol, I love the per frame calculation. It's a winner! :na: 
April 23, 2008 4:23:51 PM

dagger said:
Lol, I love the per frame calculation. It's a winner! :na: 

When words of reason fail ... try basic math ... when that fails also you let them be. :heink: 

I'm Running a Prime95 @ 3.294GHz on 1.3250V ... 1 hour stable ! ... :bounce: 
!