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My first build - opinions, advices needed

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June 1, 2008 10:57:27 AM

Hello,
I'm new there and would like to introduce my first build ;) 
It is mainly for gaming, but there will be a lot of programming too (mostly with VS2008), so there should not be any unexpected compatibility issues.

Here's the build:

Motherboard: GA-X48-DS4
CPU: INTEL E8400 Core2D 3.0GHz
CPU Cooler: ZALMAN CNPS9700 NT
RAM: TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF (CORSAIR 2X2GB DDR2 1066MHZ KIT CL5 DHX)
Graphic card: SAPPHIRE HD 3870X2 PCIE 1GB DDR3 2X DVI
Graphic card Cooler: should I keep sapphire's stock?
HDD: WD1500ADFD (RAPTOR 150GB SATA1.5GB/S 10K RPM 16MB)
HDD Cooler: TTC-HD90
Display: Samsung 226BW 22'' 3000:1/2MS/1680X1050 (LS22MEHSFV/EDC)

I'm still considering case and PSU, wondering what wattage would suit me.
I need your advices about it and overall opinions about the build.

I'am not much of overclocking guy, but this is important option, I will overlock it later.
X48-DS4 supports crossfireX, so I'm planning to get another 3870x2 in year or so. It should work, right?

Actually, I was thinking about going 780i mobo and go SLI with nvidia, but I find gigabyte's mobo's more reliable. Too bad it does NOT support SLI.

And yes, theoritically 3870x2 should be supported by linux (ubuntu or mandriva), but practically it doesn't. Is there someone who managed to get linux working with such GPU's?

Last one is about RAM. I'm not much (again) of tech, so I don't know are mobo's/cpu's/RAM's timings ok there. All I know is that X48-DS4 supports E8400, and it does support 1066Mhz RAM (so this corsais is). Well, there's one thing to adjust: mobo's RAM stock voltage is 1.8V, so I guess I should simply adjust it to 2.1V as corsair needs. Right?

Hoping for your support :) 
Thanks!

More about : build opinions advices needed

June 1, 2008 11:14:09 AM

Hi Wieslaw,

- Good choice of screen, very nice I use one myself.

- The WD raptors are a great disk, however the storage isn't massive. Maybe invest in a secondary drive (500GB?) and use the Raptor as a boot disk. It depends on whether you think you will store more than 150Gb

- New graphics cards are due out very shortly. Wait for those, the 4870 is rumoured to be as quick as a 3870X2 and will probably be cheaper. NVidia also have a new line of cards out - expect a price war over the summer.

- If you are not intending to SLI or Xfire very shortly there is no point with an SLI board, you can save some money. By the time you get round to thinking about putting in a new card there will be ones avaliable that out preform the one you have to SLI with.

-The X48 board will take PC 8500 RAM. You can adjust the voltage in the bios.

Hope that helps for a start off.
Jeremy
June 1, 2008 11:32:05 AM

Thanks for your useful reply :) 

I've got WD 500GB USB one, so I guess it's ok for media files. Software and games will work better on raptor (it should work better, right?).

I'm kinda sad I have to wait for 4870 :)  But it should pay off indeed.

So I guess I'll stick up to this build except for GPU and wait patiently for 4870. Is there any announcements of release date?

Appreciating you help :) 
Wieslaw
June 1, 2008 11:54:32 AM

Is there a possibility, that X48-DS4 will not support 4870? It's has pcie 2.0 though.
Sorry if it's a stupid question.
June 1, 2008 12:38:29 PM

Hi Weislaw

- If you are playing new games you will find that they need a lot of space to install, 12Gb+ for some. Add approx 10-15Gb for Vista and 150Gb doesn't look so massive. The 300Gb version, the veloci raptor, is faster and more roomy but it is more money. And yes, games and software will run better from a raptor.

- Intel X48 and X38 support Xfire for ATi cards but you would require an NVidia chipset to sli their cards.

- http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/101922.aspx
- This site gives an idea of the accepted power supply hierarchy. Try and find a tier 1/2 supply for this build, esspecially if you wish to overclock later.
- It also gives a link to the extreme power supply calculator, to give a rough idea of what you need, note that it over estimates.
- You will need to look carefully at the 12V current rating for each supply and make sure that it is enough to run the graphics card. Many of the supplies will list 3 rails but they may share some or all of the current between them. You will probably need 28-30A should be loads. You will probably find this on 500-600W PSU's.
- Having already researched this for myself Corsair HX and Enermax Modu PSU's came out on top.

- You will also need thermal paste for that aftermarket heatsink. Also see if you can find an OEM version of the processor - the retail version is more pricy and comes with a sink that you won't need.

- Have you considered a Quad core processor at all? Have a research on Tom's and elsewhere see what you think.

Jeremy
June 1, 2008 6:45:36 PM

Hi again, Jeremy :) 

You wrote: "Intel X48 and X38 support Xfire for ATi cards but you would require an NVidia chipset to sli their cards.". I think I'm missing the point. "their" means NVidia GPU's, right?

I'm actually new to aftermarket cooling as well. Does Thermal Paste NEXUS THERMAL COMPOUND 10%SILVER 1G suit me?

I think I'll pick ZALMAN ZM750-HP from Tier 2 as PSU, in case I'll use crossfire and more HDD.
There's the specs: http://www.i-tech.com.au/products/22549_Zalman_ZM750_HP...

I was thinking about Q9300, but changed my mind due most people consider it is not worth getting quad yet. Is it wrong? I'm going to do some research on tomshardware though. But I would appreciate if you would write your opinion there.

Thank a lot for helping me out, really! :) 

Wieslaw
June 1, 2008 9:50:29 PM

Hi Wieslaw.

Sorry clarification. You need an NVidia chipset to run two of their (NVidia's) cards in parallel (SLI).

The PSU choosen would Xfire two standard, ie not X2, cards.

Corsair do a TX-750W (probably overkill for this system), non modular power supply, avaliable on newegg for $119 currently. This would be a better bet. It should allow you to Xfire X2 cards as it has the right number of connectors. It is also quiet at low loads (generally a computer uses little of the power avaliable) and you are only going to use high loads when gaming at which point you will have sound on an not hear the thing. I know that this PSU will also last in the new Intel boards due at the end of 2008.
I recommend the Corsair.

On quad core systems:
If you are a hardcore gamer after the highest frame rates possible and you can create a system with few other processes running whilst you are gaming a dual core is the way to go. In THG reviews a dual will beat a quad of the same price because the rigs are just OS and game - no antivirus etc.
Especially for video editting quad is the way to go. It will also handle all those other tasks on the other cores hopefully freeing space up for gaming. I am unsure about coding - although it seems the sort of program that one would want to run over multiple cores when compiling.

This really depends on how willing you are to overclock and how long you want to keep the processor.
- Right now the highest frame rates from a well set up system will be from dual.
- When games that thread on 4 cores come out (currently 1/2) quads will be faster.
- Intel are changing design at the end of 2008 - the current model of processor should have dropped significantly in price by this time next year.
- A quad core overclocked (eg Q6600 @ 3GHz) will probably beat a dual (E8400 @ stock 3GHz). The Q6600 is well used because it is exceptionally stable when overclocked.

Edit: Suggestions now are that the way to go with quad is Q9300 or Q9450 rather Q6600.

Jeremy
P.S. Not a great knowledge on thermal compound. Sorry. There must be reviews out there...
June 1, 2008 10:36:07 PM

I think I'll wait for 4870, and later crossfire it. So there's 2 x single GPU's.
I'm confused with proc dual/quad thing right now, will do some more research, got time till 4870 release anyway :) 

Well, Corsair TX-750W is actually perfect for it's price. I'm wondering why it isn't on Tier 2 list where VX and HX belong to. :) 

Back to quad: I'm not much of OpenGL programmer so I don't need quad for rendering stuff.
When gaming, I usually cut off most of unused tasks.
I honestly think Q9300/Q9450 isn't worth the money :) 
Still, most games are dual core based, so I'm afraid of wasting that quad in next year or two.

By the way, in case I'm getting E8400, I'm overlocking it up to 4GHz. Overlocking 4870 (later crossfired) as well, when needed. That Corsair TX-750W will not have any problem with that, will it?

Thank you for replys!

With regards,
Wieslaw
June 2, 2008 9:30:04 AM

Hi Wieslaw

On that basis go with the E8400 and a good aftermarket cooler.

Also check out the reviews of the 4870's how they are rated. NVidia may appear with something at the right price that trashes ATi then you have to think again. If the 4xxx series is good then this build looks sorted.

The TX 750 will be ample.

Jeremy
June 2, 2008 12:23:59 PM

I'm waiting for these coming then.
I guess, 4870 will be surely good one anyway, because of it's price.

Thanks once more,
Wieslaw
!