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Please advise on a $1500-2000 gaming build!

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May 8, 2008 6:48:28 AM


1. What YOUR PC will be used for. That means what types of tasks you'll be performing.

Heavy gaming (WoW, modern FPS games like HL2 etc., RTS also). Photoshop / Graphic Design / Web Design. Listening to music. A lot of web-browsing. Possible music recording / editing and video editing (although I understand there are different pieces of hardware desired for "professional" results). Basically, this is going to be my new main system, and I want it to be well rounded and capable.


2. What YOUR budget is. A price range is acceptable as long as it's not more than a 20% spread

I'm shooting for the $1500-$2000 range (including shipping, not including sales tax - I live in California). Really, I want to build a system that is "smart" and that gets the classic "bang for the buck" sweet spot. I'm willing to spend if it's going to be a good return in quality, or I'm willing to cut corners where it won't matter as much. I think the parts I'm currently looking at will show this.



3. What country YOU will be buying YOUR parts from.

USA... probably 99% from Newegg.


4. IF YOU have a brand preference. That means, are you an Intel-Fanboy, AMD-Fanboy, ATI-Fanboy, nVidia-Fanboy, Seagate-Fanboy, WD-Fanboy, etc, etc, etc, you get the picture.

Intel, nVidia.


5. If YOU intend on using any of YOUR current parts, and if so, what those parts are.

I have a set of 5.1 creative speakers, a Canon Pixma printer, and a Func mousepad that I'll be carrying over... otherwise it'll be a brand new system.


6. IF YOU have searched and/or read similar threads.

Extensively...


7. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.

I've avoided overclocking on my last two builds, but I think I'm interested in doing some *mild* overclocking this time around. Nothing major or that would necessitate major cooling or limit the PC's lifespan (I'd like to use it for 3-4 years before building another).


8. WHEN do you plan to build it?

As soon as I get some good feedback. So I'd like to order the parts within the next 48 hours.


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Here are the items I'm looking at. I'll list what I'm leaning towards and then list the other items that I've considered or researched as other options.


CPU:


Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Yorkfield 2.5GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$284.99


OPTIONS:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$219.99

OR

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~199.99


**NOTES**: I'm not sure where to go with the CPU. If I decide to future-proof with a quad-core, is the Q9300 worth the money over the Q6600? Is it smarter to just go for the e8400 dual-core? I'm looking for performance... mainly gaming, but in other applications as well (such as photoshop).


MOTHERBOARD:


GIGABYTE GA-EP35-DS3R LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Dynamic Energy Saver Ultra Durable II Motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~129.99


OPTIONS:

ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~139.99

OR

ASUS P5K-E/WIFI-AP LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~149.99


**NOTES**: The Gigabyte is what I'm leaning towards, although it doesn't have firewire (which isn't an immediate concern, but it's the sort of thing that sucks to not have at the moment when you need it..). Both the Asus and ABIT have great reviews, but also have a number of people claiming compatability issues on their newegg "customer review" section. Any feedback on which to choose?


GRAPHICS CARD:


MSI NX8800GTS 512M OC GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~194.99


**NOTES**: This is the cheapest version of this card on Newegg. Is MSI a solid enough brand?


RAM:

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1000 (PC2 8000) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~89.99


**NOTES**: I had never heard of this brand (last PC I built was over three years ago), but I've seen it recommended around these parts many times. Previously I was a Corsair or Crucial buyer. But G.SKILL is quality, right?


HARD DRIVE:


Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~109.99


**NOTES**: Seems to be the sweet-spot purchase. May consider buying two, actually, and possibly dual-booting Vista and XP.


OPTICAL DRIVE:


Samsung SH-S203N DVD Burner (OEM) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~33.99


**NOTES**: Would there be a conflict in my system if I decided to purchase and run TWO of the same drive? Someone in the Newegg comments said there would be and it would screw everything up.


CASE:


Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~119.99


**NOTES**: Nothing much to say here - I dig the case :) 


MONITOR:


SAMSUNG 2253BW Black 22" 2ms(GTG) DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP Support 300 cd/m2 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~279.99


OPTIONS:


LG - 22" Widescreen Flat-Panel LCD Monitor L227WTG-PF - http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8739118&t... ~339.99 (from Best Buy)

OR

SAMSUNG 245BW Black 24" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor with Height Adjustment 400 cd/m2 1000:1 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~419.99

OR

BenQ G2400W Black 24" 5ms DVI HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 1000:1 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~389.99


**NOTES**: I have a lot of questions here and am pretty much undecided between these four monitors. Should I make the jump to one of the 24" monitors? If so, is my system powerful enough to get good FPS and power a 24" (I'd heard this is a concern) or do I need a better GFX card if so? If I go to 24", is the BenQ a good brand to be trusted? Really up in the air here - any input is very helpful.


KEYBOARD:


Logitech G11 Silver & Black 104 Normal Keys 29 Function Keys USB Standard Gaming Keyboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~58.99


**NOTES**: I already own two ergonomic Natural Elite keyboards from Microsoft, so I thought I'd try out a gaming keyboard. If I end up not liking it, I could dump it to one of my other two systems and use the Natural Elite on this one (instead of purchasing a THIRD of the same keyboard! haha).


MOUSE:


Logitech MX518 2-Tone 8 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB + PS/2 Wired Optical 1600 dpi Mouse - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~29.99


**NOTES**: This seems like a solid gaming mouse and what will feel best in my hand, as I've been using Logitech gaming mice for 7 years now.


POWER SUPPLY:


CORSAIR CMPSU-520HX ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 520W Power Supply - http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168... ~109.99


OPTIONS:

CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 620W Power Supply - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~149.99

OR

Antec NeoPower 650 ATX12V / EPS12V 650W Power Supply - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~139.99


**NOTES**: This decision simply comes down to how much power I need for this system. How much do I need? Is the corsair 520W plenty? I know not to skimp on a power supply (although in my last system my damn Antec NeoPower died exactly three years and ONE day after I purchased it... thus no warranty!)


SPEAKERS:


Logitech R-20 12 Watts 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System - Retail - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~18.99


**NOTES**: These are just cheapy speakers I'm putting on my oldest system so I can shuffle my current 5.1 set to this new build.


COOLING:


Do I need any? I plan to only overclock a little bit. Is the stock CPU cooler quiet? If so, I've heard good things about the XIGAMATEK HDT-S1283 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is the way to go? Combined with Artic Silver thermal compound, right?

Also, the Antec 900 has room for another 120mm fan. Would I need one to keep this system running cool?



FINAL THOUGHTS:

I asked most of my questions on the individual parts, so if you read those over you'll see what I'm curious about. I'd like to make sure I'm on the right track, which is why I'm posting this here. Also, what part is this system's bottle-neck for gaming? The graphics card? Would that be the logical upgrade, were I to spend money? If so.. what card would you guys go up to over the 8800 GTS 512 g92?

And finally... what would you guys recommend as an OS? I am an XP Pro user. It's my understanding that if I stay on XP I will not be able to take advantage of my full 4 gb of RAM and also will not be able to use DX10. So... Vista 64? Dual boot of XP and Vista? Can XP 64 use DX10 or 4 GB Ram?

Adding up the parts I have listed puts this system around $1,500. I don't mind spending more (up to $2000 or so) if it's going to be worth it on the individual upgrades.


Thanks in advance for all of your advice! And sorry for the long message - I prefer to be thorough :) 
May 8, 2008 7:18:03 AM

I'm not going to get very detailed with this post, im tired but here are my opinions.
I would go with a quad core especially if your running photoshop and such. Its good future proofing and I doubt you will notice a huge difference in gaming performance between a slower clocked quad and a higher clocked dual.
As far as graphics are concerned, I am positive the 8800 GTS 512 should be adequate to run most modern games at acceptable frame rates with most settings cranked up at the 1920x1200 resolution (crysis being an exception). So I would definitely say go with the 24", and I think both those monitors you have picked are good. But I would lean towards the samsung, they make (IMHO) the best LCD panels. Ben Q is good though, I wouldn't mind buying it at all.
And for your mouse, I highly recommend a logitech G5. I have had one for a few years now and I absolutely LOVE it. It has a programable button that allows you to instantly change dpi, I left the defaults of 500, 1000, and 2000. It also feels amazing in my hand, just perfect.
Good luck man, you should have a sick ass build.
May 8, 2008 1:33:11 PM

Not sure on the CPU

Motherboard, I am personally running Gigabyte/Asus on my machines... I tend to prefer gigabyte but its just some random preference.
The DS5 I believe has heatpipe technology on them (The AMD one does anyway), which should help keep that overheating Intel northbridge cool :p 

Love your case purchase, the 900 is really sweet (owner right here!). The side/middle fans are optional, but allow more directed airflow over the graphics card. Its nice to have (And would let you turn down the noisier 12 cm ones a bit) but the 20 cm is more than capable of doing airflow by itself, on high it remains quiet.

The 520W should be fine...

If you plan on mild overclocking the CPU stock cooler should suffice (as the 900's default airflow pushes huge amounts of air over the CPU area). If you are planning on pushing the CPU to its limits I recommend getting a different cooler (what you look for is copper with a nickel coated base and a half decent fan). The Asus silent knight II I personally think is great, but is not worth getting at RRP (I got it for AUD$60 at my local PC store, about $55 USD).
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May 8, 2008 2:30:46 PM

hmm...awesome detail on what you want in a build and obviously you did some research on some great products

your CPU choices are kinda hard though.

q6600 would be the best bang for the buck but you wanted to do photoshop/music editing etc... (i do the same too since im a dj, and i do a lot of tweaking and refining of my music on the computer, and audio editing is quicker with the 9450 compared to the q6600, i have both in 2 separate systems)

so the SSE4 would be necessary.

personally if i had a choice i would go for the q9450 over the q9300, you should try to find a q9450 to get that 12mb cache over the 6mb that the 9300 has. q9450's have been hard to find lately though! :T

but as of right now, the best performance you would get in my opinion would be the e8400. that thing overclocks like a champ. reaching 3.6ghz is like a baseline for overclocking. since you wanted to mildly overclock it, 400 is mostly the next logical step from 333fsb. 9x multiplier = woot!

anyone correct me if i'm wrong, but to my knowledge, the majority of games dese days aren't optimized for quad cores yet. with exceptions being supreme commander and a few other. i think games rather rely on pure clock speed for now rather than being multi-threaded. and if it's pure clock speed, the e8400 win hands down.


For your graphics card:

The 8800 GTS has proven itself to be a great card, but personally, i would wait for the 48xx series from ATI. its only a few weeks away and i would rather spend money on a new generation of cards, given all the rumors spreading around bout the 48xx series being awesome and all. thats just me though, i would wait it out a lil bit longer.

another option i would suggest is SLI 9600 GT's if you're ordering in the next 48 hours.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... only 140$ after rebates. so roughly 310 ish with tax and shipping :) 


Mouse/mousepad

i agree with doom turkey above. get the logitech g5. i got mine for 39.99 on newegg because of a 10 rebate. its a great mouse. you can adjust your DPI on the fly with a press of a button and you can adjust what dpi those settings will be at in the logitech setpoint program that comes with it. 2000dpi is more than enough for serious gamers, me being one myself. it feels great in your hand. it has weights you can add onto at the bottom to make sure you have a comfortable feeling or heavier mouse, if you wanted.

considering looking into the steelpad 4d if you're a serious gamer (i've been using it for years and price has gone significantly down, i bought mines for roughly 40$ back in like 2003, now its around 20-25$) or the steelpad 4s, a higher version of the 4d. i also have teflon tape to put on the feet of my mouse so literally it glides across the mousepad. before the teflon tape, the mouse feels great, but once you put the teflon tape on, it's like you're sliding your mouse on air. the feeling is amazing. i would highly suggest you try it out.


http://www.extremeoverclocking.com/reviews/misc/Steelpa... here's the review along with the teflon tape i was talking about. (it comes with the 4d or 4s)



Case - Antec 900 is the way to go, good choice, i have it myself running scythe 120mm fans on the side and in the middle hard drive bay. if you do put an additional 120mm fan in the middle hard drive bay for extra ventilation through the middle of your case, you won't be able to add in hard drives in that bay, just in case you wanted to know.



Cooling - i never tried the xigmatek myself but try researching on the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme, its another great option.



and just cuz im an XP fanboy, use sp3 :p  it just came out.


thats about all i know for parts you've considered, good luck with your build :) 
May 8, 2008 2:49:13 PM

If you have a MicroCenter near you, you might want to stop in. Some of your components can be had there for less:
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Also mine has the Q9300 (if you decide to go that way) for $250 and the Nine Hundred case for $95 - but I think they're all in-store only deals. I'm gearing up to build my own right now, and will be stopping in there to hopefully take advantage, especially for that case.
!