Choosing Components for an Upgrade

Hey guys. I need some help with choosing a few components for upgrade. Here is my current hardware list:

Alienware PC (built in 2004)
CPU: Intel Pentium 4 EE w/HTT 3.40 GHz (Code Name: Gallatin, Socket 775 LGA)
Motherboard: Intel D925XCV
Video Card: ATI X800 256MB
Hard Drive: Western Digital Raptor 150 GB 10000RPM 16MB Cache 1.5 SATA
Western Digital Raptor 74 GB 10000RPM 8MB Cache 1.5 SATA
PSU: Antec 450watt
RAM: 2gigs Crucial PC2-4300

I just ordered a new video card from Newegg. I purchased the MSI 8800GTS 512.
I am also ordering a copy of Windows Vista Home Premium from Amazon for $100 in about a week. I plan on running the 64bit version once I get the new CPU and motherboard.

My questions from in with the motherboard mostly. I am going to buy a Q6600 Quad-Core processor. I had a budget of 400-500$ for BOTH the CPU and the motherboard. I would like for it to be SLI capable, as I plan on getting another 8800GTS. I also need recommendations on 4 gigs of RAM to place in the new motherboard chosen as well. The list of choices for motherboards overwhelms me a bit, and I want to just the best bang for the buck.

Alright, this computer is usually used for gaming, not video editing, etc. Not highly intensive gaming though. WoW, Oblivion, C&C3, etc.

Like I said, I would like to keep the CPU and motherboard under 400 if possible, and spend 100-150 on RAM (4 gigs min). Also, I know I would probably need a new PSU for an additional card, but if the 450 will be sufficient for now, I would prefer to keep it. Thoughts on that?

Sorry if I left any needed information out, just let me know. And thanks for the help!
7 answers Last reply
More about choosing components upgrade
  1. Why are you doing SLI if you aren't doing "highly intensive gaming?"

    1 GTS is far more than sufficient for the games you listed.

    Go for a Gigabyte P35-DS3L, and get Crucial memory.
  2. I would also upgrade to a Corsair 550 VX/650/750 TX PSU.

    If you overclock the quad-core (which I highly recommend, considering the immense overhead a Q6600 gives you), you will want at least the 550.
  3. Bang for the buck huh? For an SLI setup I'd recommend the 750i chipset. I personally selected the EVGA 750i FTW ($199 at Newegg). I've yet to receive it, but reviews indicate the board is extremely solid and also very overclockable. The price puts it between the other 750i boards (~$150), and the 780i (~$250), but I don't care much for the 780's extras, and had no need for a third PCIe slot.

    EVGA 750i FTW(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813188026)

    My guess is you will most certainly need a new PSU for an additional 8800GTS. Reviews I've read mention the power requirements for an 8800 SLI setup are closer to 800W. Considering the trend toward higher and higher power requirements, it may be a good time to invest in a solid PSU. As a suggestion, I ordered a PC Power and Cooling 750W PSU. A look at some reviews, and the PSU's spec sheet showed me that it "should" have enough amps on the 12V rail to power two 9800GTX cards in SLI. It should prove sufficient for the 8800s as well. It's on sale (permanently?) at ~$150 or so (Actually there is a MIR for $30 through 5/16). I'm sure others will be able to recommend excellent power supplies as well.

    PC Power and Cooling S75QB
    (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817703009)

    As for the RAM, DDR2 prices are in the basement. You should have no problem finding a set of 2gb modules at 1066 or 800mhz and 5-5-5-15 timings. I went with Mushkin, but IMO, any brand name module should do. Mushkin is also running a MIR for $25)

    Mushkin pc8500 2x2gb modules (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146785)

    Of course, there are lots and lots of alternatives, but after some lengthy research, this is what I came up with for my new machine. Good luck :)
  4. Quote:
    PSU: Antec 450watt


    450 is more than sufficient for 1 GPU, and probably enough for 2, depending on the balance of power. How much 12V current (aka amps) can you PSU provide? Does the PSU have a cable to connect to each GPU?

    800W is ridiculous overkill for 2 GPUs. From-wall power reading rarely exceed 500W. I'm tired of providing sources for this information. Read articles about new GPUs and go to the page with the power consumption.
  5. Thanks for all the responses.

    As for the SLI, I know it would be overkill at the moment, but I would like to leave the option open for the future. =)

    I'm not at home at the moment. I will check on the actual model and power ratings of my PSU as soon as I can.

    I was planning on overclocking the CPU to at least 3.0 GHz. And getting a better heatsink and fan for it. I was looking at watercooling as well, but I think air will be fine for me, since I do not plan on major overclocking, and Alienware did actually put some nice fans all around the case. I haven't had a problem with heat before, and from what I have read, the P4 I have now has a horrible rating for temp.

    Thanks Deepchild for the board recommendation. Let me know how it works out for you. I will probably go with it, since it is right in the price range I would like. Just curious, what is the main difference between the 750i and the 780i chipsets?
  6. The features missing from the 750i board include the 780i's ability to automatically set up memory timings and voltages. You can, of course, easily do this manually though. 780i's also support higher memory speeds (up to 1200mhz), while most 750i's run 800mhz. The EVGA 750i officially supports 1066, and can go higher when overclocked. The 780i also supports 3 PCIe lanes for tri-SLI, while the 750i only supports 2. Also the 750i has only one integrated gigabit ethernet port vs two for the 780i. There are fewer usb and SATA ports as well, but there are still plenty on the 750i for most users. The EVGA has 6 onboard USB ports, and 4 SATA. Last, but not least, the 780i supports nVidia's ESA (Enthusiast System Architecture), a suite of applications that allow you to easily monitor your components for temperature and other things. This, IMO, is the biggest sacrifice the 750i makes, since the ESA sounds pretty nice.

    Here are a couple of reviews on the EVGA 750i:

    http://www.gamepyre.com/hardwared.html?aid=957&p=1
    http://www.guru3d.com/article/evga-nforce-750i-sli-ftw-for-the-win-review/

    Mine arrives Monday, so I'll let you know how it goes sometime next week. :)
  7. I've posted some impressions of the EVGA 750i FTW in another thread, but I wanted to link them here for you.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/249797-30-evga-750i-impressions
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