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About to build new rig: please review and comment

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May 20, 2008 1:56:40 AM

Hi everyone,
I'm about to purchase my 2nd homebuilt system (and the 1st time I'll be assembling it by myself) and I wanted to run my components by the forum for a final inspection. I want to stay at or below $1200. This will be almost purely gaming (as I have a laptop for school). I have both XP and Vista at my disposal. I may flirt with overclocking, but I want to build a solid machine that will perform will at stock levels (my knowledge of overclocking is minimal). I'd like it to have some solid staying-power; I want to be able to play new games at good visual levels for a couple of years without upgrades. I won't go above 1680x1050 so that should make that goal more achievable. Please let me know your thoughts, especially any issues that you may see.

Case: Cooler Master RC-690-KKN1-GP $84.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
It's pretty standard case with good reviews. I like how it includes 120mm fans and it appears to have good ventilation. The placement of the audio jacks and USB hubs on the top are great and I like the idea of mounting the PSU on the bottom of the case (the case is suspended with a vent directly beneath it to suck out the hot air.

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L $ 109.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
I don't know a lot about motherboards, but it the general consensus seems to be that this one is in the sweet spot in terms of performance. But why has it increased in price...?

GPU: MSI 8800GT $184.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
I've been going between the GTS and the GT for quite some time. After doing a ton of research, I've concluded that, at 1680x1050 resolution (the maximum capabilities of my monitor) they are nearly equal. Since the GT is cheaper than the GTS, the GT wins. This particular version has a dual-slot cooler to help alleviate the heating issues that came up in the single-slot version of the GT.

CPU: Q6600 $219.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
While I know that most of the current crop of games do not benefit from two additional cores, I'm betting that future games will. Current games, such as Supreme Commander and World in Conflict already benefit from additional cores. My money is that future games, such as Empire: Total War and BIA: Hell's Highway, will benefit as well. This is in line with my desire to give my computer a longer life-span.

RAM: 4GB of G.Skill DDR2-800 $89.98 total (after instant rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
RAM is cheap and it appears that DDR2-800 hits the sweet spot for price vs. performance right now. It's also the easist to upgrade should that change significantly in the coming years.

Floppy drive: generic $6.99
Yeah, I realize that it's like hooking up a VCR to an HDTV, but it's cheap, it's reliable, and it's great for system recovery.

Hard drive: Seagate Barracude 320GB $89.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
I don't want to waste too much money on a hard drive. I currently have 240GB on my 4-5 yr old computer and I'm just now approaching 80-85% capacity. Since I'll only be putting games on this, I don't see the need for anything too large. This may be a spot where I come back to cut some costs (and I'm most open to suggestion for a superior product).

Monitor: LG L226WTY 22' 2ms widescreen $319.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
My most expensive component. I'm willing to spend a little bit more on this component because, I think, it's the most important. What's the point of getting a great CPU and GPU if the monitor won't display it in all its glory? I don't want to cross the 1680x1050 threshold so I can invest in a quality monitor at this level (plus getting a higher resolution demands a better video card, pushing me beyond my budget).

CD-DVD drive: Samsung 20x $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...
Pretty standard, I think. I feel it's easier to spend an extra $15 on a relatively low-cost component in a $1000 system.

PSU: Enermax Noisetaker 2 485W $0.00 (cannibalized from current rig)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Of any component on this list, I would like feedback on this. The newest addition to my current computer is this power supply. I got it about a year ago when I upgraded my graphics card and I would like to use it for this new machine. I think it has enough power but I wanted to ask the forum to verify it. I know enough about PSUs to know that they are (argueably) the most important component in a computer and yet the one with this least attention paid to it. If I need to purchase another PSU, I'll be stretching my budget to where I'm not completely comfortable spending.

That's it for my purchase. In addition to the PSU, I will also cannibalize my current keyboard, mouse, speakers, sound card, wi-fi card, current monitor (hurray for unnecessary dual-monitors!). Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthly post. I will be very appreciate of any responses that I recieve.

More about : build rig review comment

May 20, 2008 3:18:45 AM

Several observations:

If you are building this machine to play games that will take advantage of a quad-core CPU, then you mobo is a tad underpowered, and your HD is undersized.

Consider spending a little more, for an SLI-capable mobo that can overclock nicely. Doesn't have to be a 790i chipset, an earlier 750i or 780i model will do, such as an ASUS P5N-D for less than $50 more that that Gigabyte:

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

Go with at least a 500GB drive...

That's a pretty good choice for a vid card, and by getting an SLI-capable mobo now, you can a second card a little later for a lot less dough! ;) 

I know your budgetmight be tight righ now, but if you can...go bigger on the monitor, and plan to run games at 1920x1200. I highly recommend the Hannspree HF-289HJB:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8718532&s...

Mine arrived in perfect shape. It does have 1920x1200 res with 2 hdmi + VGA inputs as advertised. I installed the X-Tune application from their website; it made setup and calibration of the monitor a real breeze. Contrary to reports I saw from users at BestBuy, the monitor goes into sleep mode via Windows (XP) exactly as it should. It's possible they have that issue if connected via HDMI (I'm using VGA) or if they didn't install the driver or X-Tune app, I don't know.

Overall, I am VERY impressed with it, it works flawlessly and exceeds my expectations, especially for that much (little?) dough.

If you are looking for a big monitor, I think this is the hot deal going right now. It's on sale this week, so you can get it for about $600. Trust me, you'll be glad you went Large!

Cheers,
-3Gun
May 21, 2008 3:53:15 AM

3Gun,

I appreciate your response. Thank you for giving me some things to think about and products to consider. However, I don't think that your suggestions for a new mobo and monitor will fit my goals and budget for this build.

In general, I would rather spend the extra money on a quality item then try to save a few bucks by getting a cheaper item (this goes for most things I try to buy, including computer hardware). I could go with a monitor with a higher resolution, but I would want to find a quality monitor in terms of response time, view angle, contrast ratio, etc as well. If I end up buying a higher resolution monitor, I would need to buy a high end graphics card such as a 8800GTS or the 9800GTX in order to justify the extra performance. Unfortinately, monitors at that rez at the quality that I demand are an extra $200+ than what I currently have (your suggestion is nearly twice the price of my current selection). A GTS starts at $50+ and up the 9800GTX is nearly twice the price of a GT. As for the mobo, getting something SLI only makes sense if I intend on purchasing a 2nd graphics card in the near future. If I end up getting a 2nd card (and maybe even with just the single high-performance card) I would need to get a more powerful PSU than I currently have. As you can see, things quickly grow beyond my budget.

My goal for this computer is to buy something now that's reasonably priced and relatively future-proof with minimum need for future upgrades. I've tried to put together a build using quality components capable of high resolutions, but I can't put anything together within my price range. For my budget, my best bet for the performance that I want and the quality that I need comes at the 1680x1050 resolution.

Again, thanks for your input.
!