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Out of the Tech Loop for 13 months and building a computer

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May 16, 2008 3:59:08 PM

Hey guys,

Been out of the loop for 13 months so I haven't seen much of the newer changes for video cards, processors and the like.. Been doing a bit of research now that I have some admin time and put together a bunch of components and was hoping you guys could critique it or give me some bits of advice as far as different components.


Case: SILVERSTONE TJ-03 BLCK Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case
Motherboard: ASUS Striker II Formula LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300 Yorkfield 2.5GHz LGA 775 95W Quad-Core Processor
Memory: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory x2
Video Card: BFG Tech BFGE981024GX2E GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB (512MB per GPU) 512-bit (256-bit per GPU) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card x2
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W EPS12V Power Supply
Hard Disk: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive x2
Sound Card: Creative 70SB046A00000 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional Series
Optical Drive: LITE-ON Black SATA Blu-ray DVD-ROM Drive Model DH-4O1S-08

The total ends up being close to $3k and I know there are ways I can reduce my cost and get a better bang for my buck.

Any help would be much appreciated
May 16, 2008 4:14:48 PM

I don't like the GX2 for the price. I honestly think that you would be better off with two EVGA 9800 GTX's on that board (could even add a third card later on). Then you can grab two of their GT200 chips when they come out (using EVGA's step-up program).

I would change your hard drive to a 500GB Seagate 7200.11.

Are you going to be overclocking?
May 16, 2008 4:40:08 PM

Chaosmaster said:
The total ends up being close to $3k and I know there are ways I can reduce my cost and get a better bang for my buck.

Any help would be much appreciated


This costs you close to $3,000? I just put together a computer a couple months ago for $2200 and I bought a QX9650! Definitely back off to a lessor video card and get a better CPU, like a Q9450, or better yet, a Q9550. You can also get DDR2 800 ram for less money and overclock it yourself to DDR2 1066 if you want, because that's all the DDR2 1066 is, factory overclocked DDR2 800 ram. Question yourself highly about getting Blu-Ray as that is expensive. On the other hand, if you know you'll use it, then go ahead. Other than that, what you have looks fine, though you might looks for some sales to get better pricing.
Related resources
May 16, 2008 4:51:24 PM

Actually, it will depend on what you are using it for. If you are doing primarily gaming, a better video card will benefit you WORLDS more than a CPU upgrade (especially in the realm of quad-cores). A Q9300 will be fine, although a Q6600 or a Q9450 will overclock better.
May 16, 2008 5:16:35 PM

Hi,

Unless you are an audiophile or needing a soundcard for a very specific purpose, the onboard sound is usually more than sufficient. I would recommend ditching the soundcard.

Also, as mentioned, unless you plan to watch Blu Ray movies on your computer, I'd go with a cheaper drive.

Depending upon what this computer is going to be used for, you may also want to consider a x35 or x38 motherboard.

I would go with another video card like the 8800 512 GTS.

What exactly are you planning to use the computer for and are you going to overclock?

May 16, 2008 5:25:18 PM

The blu-ray drive is cool. Even if you don't use it now.
May 16, 2008 5:30:04 PM

Quote:
What exactly are you planning to use the computer for and are you going to overclock?

Its mainly going to be a gaming platform... As far as overclocking I have always wanted to, but never got around do getting into overclocking, I wouldn't know where to start, but would be eager to try

Quote:
This costs you close to $3,000? I just put together a computer a couple months ago for $2200 and I bought a QX9650!


Unfortunetly the past 13 months have been spent on the streets of Baghdad... and moon dust in a computer sucks. I just used newegg for pricing because its everything at one site, when it comes time to purchase I will be shopping around a bit.

Quote:
Unless you are an audiophile or needing a soundcard for a very specific purpose, the onboard sound is usually more than sufficient. I would recommend ditching the soundcard.

Also, as mentioned, unless you plan to watch Blu Ray movies on your computer, I'd go with a cheaper drive.

Depending upon what this computer is going to be used for, you may also want to consider a x35 or x38 motherboard.


That is true, any particular drive you would recommend? Also any reason why those motherboards would be a better choice?

Thanks for the help guys... keep the comments coming please

May 16, 2008 5:44:44 PM

Forget the quad core as most games dont use it anyway.
Go for faster speed and the Core 2 Duo.
Also the Asus Striker II platform is very expensive.
Go for a 780i platform from Gigabyte for better price/performance numbers.
The 9800 line is top end for now, but if you can wait a month or so, the GTX 260 / 280 series from Nvidia will be out and you get more bang for your buck with a top end GPU vs. a top end CPU for gaming.
If you go Vista 64bit then consider 4GB of RAM, if you go Vista 32bit or XP then stick to 2GB.

GTX 260 / 280 info -> http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Nvidia-GeForce,5400.ht...

Also consider going with a really good power supply in the 1000W+ range if you want to do SLI reliably.
The number one problem when you do SLI or Crossfire and have a few hard drives is underpowering the system.
I had to bump mine to a 1000W PSU when I put in my second 8800 GTX to get the stability I wanted with 3 hard drives and SLI.

Also, the GX2 is SLI on a single card. If you use two of them, you are essentially getting quad SLI. FYI thats extreme overkill at a terribly wasteful cost. I agree with Deadboots here and would recommend 2 9800s instead.

P.S. Forget the Fata1lity marketing crap. Just get a standard X-Fi card and you will be fine.
May 16, 2008 5:47:13 PM

I meant to say...faster speed. ie. 3.0+GHZ and the Core 2 Duo.
May 16, 2008 6:14:27 PM

For gaming, the vga card is the most important component. The 9800GX2 should run anything out there well; good choice. There is talk of an even faster card from nvidia due out this summer. If by any chance you later want something faster, then it is easy to swap out later, and sell your old card on e-bay.
That means that you don't have to shell out $300 for a sli motherboard. A P35 based motherboard from Gigabyte or Asus will be half that. P35 boards have been out long enough to get the bios issues fixed. Unless you are overclocking you will notice no performance difference.
There are very few games out there that will use more than 2 cores, and I don't see that changing much before Nehalem is out. Flight simulator X is about the only exception. For the same price I would take the increased clock speed of the E8500 over a quad. You will not even want to overclock. The E8400 would be about as good if you want to save a few bucks.
For a 300gb drive, look at the new Western Digital velociraptor at about $300. It is demonstrably faster than anything else except perhaps a SSD at over $1000.
The core cpu's are not very sensitive to ram speeds. There is only a 1-2% difference in real(vs. synthetic benchmark) application performance between the slowest and fastest ram. A name brand 4gb(2x2gb) kit of ddr2-800 is fine, and rebates are common.
I would agree that trying onboard sound first is a good idea. It is very good these days, and you can always add a sound card later. Some sound cards seem to have driver problems.
Blu-ray can be added later, when prices come down. Unless you have an immediate need, I would wait. In the interim, the Samsung S203 at $25 is a solid quiet sata drive.
If you have any funds left over, put them into the best monitor you can find; or, better yet, two of them.
May 16, 2008 6:40:33 PM

You should wait a mont or so for new GTX200's comming out, and velocirapotr drives, Instead of quad core you should get a duval core if you looking into short time span, but later probably more programs will use quad cores. Blue rays are expensive, either get Blue ray ROM/DVD burner- will cost u like 100$ cheaper than Blue ray burner. Also get yourself nice SLI power supply, Like Corsair 1000 watt.
Also if you are looking for customer service, make sure to get EVGA products, company has great customer service. 780i mobo from EVGA would also be cheaper than same motherboard from ASUS.

Also on your case, you are going for silverstone, it costs over 200$, but do you need a full tower ?
you can get a good mid tower case from raidmax, they have couple of cases i like, they are just onder 100$.
May 16, 2008 6:51:57 PM

Quote:
Unless you are an audiophile or needing a soundcard for a very specific purpose, the onboard sound is usually more than sufficient. I would recommend ditching the soundcard.

Also, as mentioned, unless you plan to watch Blu Ray movies on your computer, I'd go with a cheaper drive.

Depending upon what this computer is going to be used for, you may also want to consider a x35 or x38 motherboard.


That is true, any particular drive you would recommend? Also any reason why those motherboards would be a better choice?

Thanks for the help guys... keep the comments coming please[/quotemsg]

The optical drive I use is the Samsung SH-203N. It includes lightscribe and is around $35.00. Asus also makes a good optical drive.

The reason I suggest X35 or X38 is because with the ASUS you are paying a premium for the board. You can buy a x35 or x38 for significantly cheaper and still have a good quality board that will have all the features you need. You can easily save over $100.00 by buying a x38 board.
May 16, 2008 7:19:09 PM

The problem is your going on the bleeding edge and paying 2 to 3 times for an extra 10 percent performance.

I think I'll just go to egg and throw together a good "bang for the buck" system as an example, it won't be as bleeding edge but it wont hurt your wallet either.
May 16, 2008 7:24:23 PM

Cpt Deadboots said:
Actually, it will depend on what you are using it for. If you are doing primarily gaming, a better video card will benefit you WORLDS more than a CPU upgrade (especially in the realm of quad-cores). A Q9300 will be fine, although a Q6600 or a Q9450 will overclock better.



Admittedly, I play with FSX a lot which demands all the CPU power a quad can give it adn I use some business apps that use a quad core. I also think that in the coming years far more games will come out that utilize all four cores of a quad. The big reason behind my recommendation of a Q9450 or Q9550 was that those are easier to overclock than the Q9300.

JRoth mentioned using a 1000wt PSU. Unless a whole lot of hardware is used, such a large PSU isn't needed. I use a Toughpower 850wt and it is larger than necessary. The only reason I bought it was that it happened to be on sale for less than a 750wt at the time. To get a fair idea of how much power is needed, use a PSU calculator such as this, and remember that when it asks about "system type", you use one socket, not four:

http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.js...
May 16, 2008 7:50:19 PM

1 COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #: RC-690-KKN1-GP
Item #: N82E16811119137 $84.99

1 GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Model #: GA-X48-DS4
Item #: N82E16813128336 $234.99


1 ECS N8800GTS-512MX GeForce 8800GTS (G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Model #: N8800GTS-512MX
Item #: N82E16814134037 $219.99

1 CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply - Retail
Model #: CMPSU-750TX
Item #: N82E16817139006 $179.99 -$50.00 Instant $129.99

1 Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail
Model #: BX80570E8400
Item #: N82E16819115037 $198.99

2 mushkin 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory Model 991580 - Retail
Model #: 991580
Item #: N82E16820146725 $59.99 $119.98

2 Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #: WD6400AAKS
Item #: N82E16822136218 $114.99 $229.98

1 Microsoft Comfort Curve 2000 B2L-00047 Black USB Ergonomics Keyboard Mouse Included - OEM
Model #: B2L-00047S
Item #: N82E16823109156 $21.99

1 LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model LH-20A1L-05 - OEM
Model #: LH-20A1L-05
Item #: N82E16827106073 $33.99 -$6.00 Instant $27.99

1 OCZ OCZ Vendetta 92mm Ball CPU Cooler - Retail
Model #: OCZ Vendetta
Item #: N82E16835202005 $34.99

Subtotal: $1,303.88

Look here as an example :) 
Most games don't use quads YET...so save the $$ till they do...
and new cards are less than 2 months away, so I figured this would hold you over till you could see whats up, it's within 10 percent or so of the top
..and you don't need a 1000 watt p.s. to overclock, no way in hell, not even with SLI involved..maybe if you go tri or quad.

While everyone may disagree on a few things this would get you near top performance right now without making you cry at checkout...
I picked the case because they cool well and are inexpensive, I mean it doesn't do anything except sit there right ?

If anyone would like to buy this for me, I'll pm you all my address :p 

May 17, 2008 7:00:59 AM

Ok I revised my list and brought it down another $1000

Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Motherboard: EVGA 123-YW-E175-A1 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 750i FTW SLI ATX Intel Motherboard


Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz 6MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor
Processor Heat Sink: HDT-RS1283 120mm CPU Cooler

Want to try my hand at overclocking, hopefully this processor would be good for it, also threw in a heat sink for it. Picked heat sink from [rul]http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm[/url]

Memory: CORSAIR XMS2 DHX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory x2

(I just like memory, hate not having enough of it)

Video Card: EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX(G92) 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card x2

Had good results in the past with SLI Video Cards and while they are not top of the line... the 2 of em run me $600 rather then ~$1000. Also picked these for the EVGA Step up program should I decide that I want better video cards

Power Supply: SILVERSTONE ST85ZF 850W ATX 12V 2.2 & EPS12V SLI Certified Power Supply

Utilized the Power Supply Calculator at http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp and was wondering if this power supply would be good or just barely enough, according to the site I should most likely get a bigger power supply

Hard Disk: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive x2

Sound Card:

Going with onboard sound for now... I can always upgrade later

Optical Drive: SAMSUNG Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache PATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe


Any other thoughts guys? I am always open to other suggestions
May 17, 2008 11:47:29 AM

Xbit labs shows these things only draw 110 watts appeice max, so I think you'll be fine on 850 watts.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/geforce9...

I love the look of that silverstone BTW, I'd have one myself if I had the money !

My athlon 5400 and 8800 gts is cooled so well though with just 2 case fans that the back fan actually blows COLD; and my rig is in one of those cabinet deals under the desk. My only advice it that if your setup is gonna be on the floor, get something with top usb and power buttons :) 
May 17, 2008 11:52:52 AM

Oh...duh, my case is a centurion 532...and based off what you picked, that is why I threw in the cold fan part. I ban actually feel air going in through the front ! Also, you'll be able to play crysis on very high just fine if your into that, I do with a lot less rig than your gonna get :)  Enjoy your new setup.
May 28, 2008 5:44:12 PM

I am running a qx9650 at 4.3ghz 2x3870's, 4gb of pc2-8000, two raptors in raid, in an antec 900 with a swiftech h20-220 compact and a x48 mobo and I am only using a pc p&c 750w silencer but I am pushing it .
!