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Help me build a new system, please. Advice needed.

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May 10, 2008 10:21:25 PM

OK, it's time for me to build a new computer. I'm getting tired of this 2 year old AMD 3800+ running at 2.41Ghz. So, I want to build something shiny and new. This computer will be used primarily for playing Lord of the Rings Online and other games (I try all kinds of stuff so it needs to be good overall).

I have a few questions for all of you experts.

First, CPU. Should I spring for an Intel QX9650? Is there something better than this? I know the CPU is very expensive. But, based on what I have read here and elsewhere, I can probably easily overclock this to about 4Ghz with a little bit of work. Is that extreme overkill right now? Should I go with something cheaper, and if so, what? I am a novice at overclocking, so I will likely just play around with that a little bit.

What logic board and RAM would be appropriate with the CPU? I want an overall system that is easy to work with and which will run cool and quiet. For this reason, and others, I probably won't bother with SLI. I figure 4GB of RAM is probably best right now. If I go with a high-end CPU do I need DDR3 RAM to really take advantage of it? Also, what kind of timings do I want to purchase on the RAM?

For video, right now, I'm going with the nVIDIA 8800GTS 512MB which I purchased recently. It helps a little bit in my current system, but not enough. I don't see the real value in going SLI right now as it is problematic with LotRO and I would prefer to have a trouble-free system. I figure I will just replace the video card in a few months to get even better performance anyway.

For OS I will likely dual boot Vista and XP. Both in 32-bit mode right now. I might eventually experiment with Vista-64. I already own XP, but will probably buy Vista Home Premium. As this is a gaming system, the extra backup features of Vista Ultimate probably aren't really worth the money.

Hard drives - I want this system to be fast. So, I'm planning on going with Raptor 150GB drives. But, those are pretty small. So RAID is a definite consideration both for the performance increase and the effective capacity increase. So, is one drive enough for the OS? I will be partitioning this for XP and Vista. It seems that I could even get by with a smaller drive such as the Raptor 74GB for the OS. How about for applications, such as games? Do I need the increased speed of the Raptors or should I go with something a bit larger instead?

For the case, I already have an Antec P180 that I have been pretty happy with for my current system. The only reason to consider replacing this is a review I read in a recent Maximum PC of the Gigabyte Mercury Pro which has built-in water cooling. For $360 retail, this could quiet the system down a bit.

Lastly, what kind of PSU do I need to consider for all of this? I've been using a 550 watt Antec TruePower 2.0 PSU. I would like something at least as good, but don't know how high to step up as far as voltage. If there is a great PSU with modular cables as well, that would be even better.

As you can see I would like to put together a very nice system. Though, I fully expect that in a year I may want to replace the CPU and mother board once Intel comes out with their newer CPUs that eliminate the FSB.

Any suggestions that anyone can offer would really be appreciated.

Thanks,

-Danlo
May 10, 2008 10:47:51 PM

Steer clear of the QX CPUs.... v expensive and overkill......get a shiny new lightening fast E8400...its the most popular gaming CPU out there.

Gigabyte P35-DS3R would be a very good choice for a non SLI Raid mobo.

Corsair 520HX/620HX modular PSU would be more than sufficient for your power needs.

DDR3 is very expensive and not quite worth it at the moment. It should be a bit more reasonable when Nehalem becomes mainstream. 4GB Crucial Ballistix DDR2 800 would do the job very well till then.
May 10, 2008 10:55:44 PM

Hi

Are you limited by a specific budget? Are you planning to do anything else besides gaming?

For CPU, I would recommend an E8400 or if you want to go Quad then a Q9450. Going extreme isn't really worth it, especially for games.

As for Motherboards, there are many quality ones out there. I am new to overclocking too and the board I bought which I understand is good for overclocker beginners is the Gigabyte GA-EX38-DS4.

I wouldn't recommend DDR3 now. I would stay with DDR2 800. As for timings, if you plan to overclock, then the lower the timings the better. So something like 5-5-5-12 or 4-4-4-12

If you're going for quiet, I wouldn't recommend a raptor. Raptors are noisy. I would go with a Western Digital 640 GB drive. It is very fast and it is quiet.

Raid will not give you much of a performance boost. I would recommend reading this article before deciding on raid: http://www.pugetsystems.com/articles.php?id=29

For modular, I would recommend the Seasonic 700 M12. This gives you extra room for additional components that you may decide to add in the future.

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May 11, 2008 12:53:51 AM

why not take it easy onyourself?

get a 5000+ or better and a new graphics card and plug em both in.
May 11, 2008 1:15:51 AM

I defineately wouldn't go exteame unless you planing on doing alot of encoding & rendering overwise they are complete overkill. I would also go with the E8400 as it fast, overclockable & reasonably priced ($199.99 on newegg).

The raptor drive is also very load and gets quite hot from passed experience & the newer entry level drives actually beat it in surtain conditions. Also I would go with Corsair XMS2 series DDR2 800 as it is dirt cheap at the minute and is very overclockable.

You Should get a 80+ certified 650-750W PSU as these are verry energy efficient and last alot longer on average. If I was you I would go with a SeaSonic S12 Energy Plus SS-650HT (650W). This also gives you room to expand.

For the motherboard I would go for a GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L as they are very stable overcloking boards with a single PCI-E slot & 4 Dim slots. You can pick them up for about $100 depending on store.
May 11, 2008 8:34:22 PM

Thank you all for the advice.

For the motherboard, I'm leaning toward GIGABYTE GA-EX38-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard right now. I like the fact that it is the X38 chipset including support for PCIE 2.0 (looks to be coming with the new 9900GTX cards from nVIDIA). The X48 chipset doesn't seem to give any real improvements as far as I can find from research.

I do have a couple of questions still. Is there any reason not to go with the E8500 instead of the E8400? It is a little more expensive, but seems to be a little faster as well.

Finally, for RAM, everyone seems to be suggesting DDR2 800. The motherboard I'm looking at supports 1200/1066/800/667 speeds for RAM. Is there no benefit from going to 1066 or 1200 speeds?

Also, a quick edit to add this question - do I need a different CPU cooler over the stock one? The Zalman CNPS9700 is supposed to be very good, but noisy. Does anyone have a better suggestion that would go well with this board and the CPUs I'm considering?

Thanks again for all of the help everyone.
!