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About to buy new SLI quad core gaming rig and want opinions

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June 4, 2008 12:53:18 PM

Hi all. By the end of this week I plan on purchasing my new computer. After much consideration, decided to go with a quad core and SLI 8800GT to help extend the lifespan and to get top-end performance without paying completely top dollar. My monitor is at 1680x1050. I wanted to post my hardware for one last inspection from the forum. Once I've built it, I'll post my experience so that anyone considering similiar hardware can see.

case: Cooler Master RC-690 mid tower - $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

mobo: EVGA 750i FTW - $190
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

graphics: MSI 8800GT x2 - $210 per unit, $370 total (with newegg savings)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: OCZ 700W (at the suggestion of aevm-see below) - $125 (not including rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: Q6600 - $215
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2-800 - $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231122

Floppy drive: generic samsung - $7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Western Digital 500GB - $85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CD-ROM: Samsung 20x DVD+RW - $27
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $1,168

I already purchased a 22" LG http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The only thing that I'm half-way on is the HDD. I know that many people recommend the 500GB and it's approximately the same price (sometimes cheaper), but I see that this HDD has slightly better performance than most other HDD. However, the gains are .5 ms so I don't know if I'll see that increase. I'm open to any thoughtful suggestions regarding the HDD or any other component. Thanks for your interest and replies.
June 4, 2008 1:18:14 PM

If you are gaming only, try the e8400. Dual core, but smokin fast and a good overclocker. Most games don't use quad cores. It isnt much cheaper,maybe $25, but it is 3Ghz and will overclock well beyond that on air. The e8400 is 45nm, thus will use less energy and run much cooler than the 65nm Quad core.

Otherwise very nice build.

What heat sink and fan are you getting?

How many amps does your PSU's 12v rails have total? check that against your vid card's requirements.

Edit: check my sig out. The e7200 is $130 and it will easily run 3.8G on air. Put the saved money toward a 780i mobo.
June 4, 2008 1:29:23 PM

Three 12V rails each with a max output of 19A and a combined output maxed at 45A. Reviews people have posted for this PSU say that they can SLI 8800GT with no problems.

I should also note that I don't plan on doing alot of (or any) overclocking. I just don't know enough about it to try it out. I might do some real conservative overclocking, but nothing beyond what's safe for 1st time overclockers.
Related resources
June 4, 2008 1:29:47 PM

The new 260 and 280 come out really soon...maybe you want to wait and get only 1 card, not 2? If so, you could ditch SLI and get a P35 board. 750i isn't too bad of a price, but have they been plagued with problems, or pretty solid?...

As for the HDD performance...you would be hard pressed to notice the difference in 2 identical machines with the 2 drives you were considering. Plus, to notice the difference, you would need to be running top of the line hardware all the way around to see those differences...and only then, in benchmarks.

Also, Rosewill cases leave a lot to be desired...they are cheaply made and pretty flimsy. I built a couple boxes for people with those cases (they said "oooh, I like that one, and its cheap") but not-so-great quality. You might consider a different brand or price range. I know ~$100 is a lot to drop on a case, but its often worth the cost by the time you factor in space, durability and thermal design. Many cheap cases are just thin metal boxes to put stuff in...nicer cases have better design and materials.
June 4, 2008 1:36:55 PM

Hi,

I just wanted to warn you about that motherboard, as I have the some one. The two PCI-e ports are VERY close together. You would have no problem with two single slot cards, but two dual slot cards will be right on top of each other or may not fit at all (I had two Palit 1 GB 8800gt which barely fit and two EVGA 1 gb 8800gt akimbos which won't fit.) Besides that I haven't really had any problems with it.
June 4, 2008 1:48:31 PM

For gaming, and no overclocking you don't want a Q6600.
You definelty want a e8400.
I would not SLI 2- 8800GTs. I know everyone thinks they are the greatest thing since pockets on a shirt, and 6 months ago they were. But they are starting to show their age and there are better single card solutions. Wait a bit longer and see how the new cards stack up.

If you MUST do this now, spend $40 more and get a couple of 8800GTS 512 meg cards. They have much better cooling (especially for SLI, they exhaust hot air out the back of the case instead of into it) and are a little faster. (if they will fit with your PCIe slots so close together on this board)
June 4, 2008 1:54:51 PM

jitpublisher said:

If you MUST do this now, spend $40 more and get a couple of 8800GTS 512 meg cards. They have much better cooling (especially for SLI, they exhaust hot air out the back of the case instead of into it) and are a little faster. (if they will fit with your PCIe slots so close together on this board)


He's getting the MSI dual-slot 8800GT cards, so he gets that part about the hot air anyway. The problem I see with the P5N-D and dual-slot cards, whether MSI 8800GT or 8800GTS, is that they will block a PCI slot (and leave only one available).
June 4, 2008 2:01:20 PM

aevm said:
He's getting the MSI dual-slot 8800GT cards, so he gets that part about the hot air anyway. The problem I see with the P5N-D and dual-slot cards, whether MSI 8800GT or 8800GTS, is that they will block a PCI slot (and leave only one available).



Ahh, you are right. I didn't think to check if they were dual slot or not.
As Rosanna Rosanna Danna once said, "nevermind".
June 4, 2008 2:30:48 PM

If you wait another fortnight you'd get the Radeon 4870.
June 4, 2008 2:41:22 PM

mihirkula said:
If you wait another fortnight you'd get the Radeon 4870.


+1 to that. If it's that soon I'd wait.

A $150 P5N-D with two dual-slot 8800GTs means a single PCI slot free, only 4 SATA ports, tough time using dual monitors, lots of heat, weaker performance in games that don't support SLI well.

If a single 4870 can get the same performance, he could put it on a $120 GA-EP35-DS3R and have 3 PCI slots and 8 SATA ports and no more SLI issues and better OCing too.

June 4, 2008 2:48:12 PM

Wow, thanks for all the great replies. I have some more questions.

Milhirkula - When is the 4870 supposed to come out? Do you know of any reviews/previews of it that showcase it's performance at 1680x1050 or 1600x1200?

Aevm - I'm not sure where I see the value in getting the 750W PSU over my current selection. The reviews on Newegg indicate that the 650W is more than enough for GT SLI. I'm not planning on doing any incrimental hardware upgrades for this computer for a couple of years. What advantages does the 750W give me for the extra $50?

jitpublisher and 50bmg - I haven't really looked into the E8400. I'm thinking that, although current games don't utilitize quad core, I believe that future games will. Current games such as Supreme Commander and World in Conflict seem to indicate this trend. I'm willing to bet Spore and Empire: Total War will also use quad core. More will probably follow. I could get teh E8400 now and then upgrade the CPU in a year or two when it's advantages are fully realized, but I want to minimize hardware upgrades and there's no guarantee that future quad cores will the compatible with the current sockets. Any thoughts? Also, for SLI GT's; I don't have time to find them right now, but I've seen some benchmarks that show that SLI GTs can incread performance at 1600x1200 by 50% and up. Alot of times it brings the games above the 30 FPS threshold that marks the difference between smooth and slightly stuttering gameplay. Increasing AA and AF only increases the benefits of SLI with the GT's. If I have time, I'll post those benchmarks for your consideration.

rubix_1011 - What are you referring to by the 160 and 280? As for the HDD, thanks for that input. That's what I was looking for regarding HDD. I'll do some more shopping for HDD. Do you have any suggestions? Please keep them under $100 as my budget for this build is already higher than it originally was. For the case: thanks for the heads up regarding Rosewill cases. The reviews for this particular case on newegg looked pretty solid. Can you look them over and see if you agree or disagree with the majority of them based on your experiences?

stevetrpi - i saw that point raised about the close PCI-e ports on the reviews. When I have some time perhaps I'll check out the manufacturers website and see if anyone can say if my particular graphics cards will fit in SLI. Glad to hear that you haven't had any other problems with it.

Again, thank you everyone for your input. Please keep 'em coming!
June 4, 2008 3:04:57 PM

Nvidia's GTX 260 and GTX280 are suppose to be out ~ July. What there saying is wait untill those and the 4870 are out and just get a single card which will likely well outperform the dual 8800GT setup your currently considering.

My $.02 is that the SLi'ed GT's will perform the same as they do now, and provide a pretty solid setup for what your doing. However dont expect it to make your setup future proof, its probably only gonna be able to game at native resolution with high settings for about 1-1.5 years tops. If you went with the new GTX card, you would likely be able to drop a second GTX280/260 in in 6-9 months and your setup would last 2-3 years. Downside being of course that the new cards are suppose to debut in the $450+ range. The 4870 will be considerably more afordable, but you loose the multi-card option unless you go with an Intel chipset.

Personaly, I would say wait and get a single card for now. I plan on going with SLied 8800GT, however I already have one, so getting the second is a better option for me. Where your starting from scratch, it would probably be best to go with one of the new cards.
June 4, 2008 3:10:15 PM

MadBadger said:

Aevm - I'm not sure where I see the value in getting the 750W PSU over my current selection. The reviews on Newegg indicate that the 650W is more than enough for GT SLI. I'm not planning on doing any incrimental hardware upgrades for this computer for a couple of years. What advantages does the 750W give me for the extra $50?


OK, first of all I thought it was an extra $20, not $50. I believed you when you said $100 for the CoolerMaster and I hadn't checked to see the $30 rebate. My bad. Still, even at an extra $50 I think it's worth it.

The CoolerMaster 650W is not certified by nVidia for 8800GT SLI. The Silencer 750W is.
http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone_build_psu.html

Quality:
http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Tiered+PSU+Listings?t=anon
The CoolerMaster is rated tier 5 (i.e. best avoid).
The Silencer 750W is rated tier 1 (i.e. top quality)

Cooling:
The CoolerMaster blows the hot air downwards. It will hit the floor and come back into the case. The Silencer blows it out the back of the case.

I have no idea about the efficiency of that CoolerMaster. The Silencer gets up to 86% efficiency, one of the best. As for noise, again I don't know the CoolerMaster, while I know that my own Silencer is quiet.
June 4, 2008 3:12:54 PM

Quote:
rubix_1011 - What are you referring to by the 160 and 280? As for the HDD, thanks for that input. That's what I was looking for regarding HDD. I'll do some more shopping for HDD. Do you have any suggestions? Please keep them under $100 as my budget for this build is already higher than it originally was. For the case: thanks for the heads up regarding Rosewill cases. The reviews for this particular case on newegg looked pretty solid. Can you look them over and see if you agree or disagree with the majority of them based on your experiences?

Quote:
Nvidia's GTX 260 and GTX280 are suppose to be out ~ July. What there saying is wait untill those and the 4870 are out and just get a single card which will likely well outperform the dual 8800GT setup your currently considering.


This is pretty much where I was going...do a Google search for 280GTX, they are 'supposed to be' monster cards, but we hear that at each release. Also have heard good things about the 4870 as well, so it might be a better option if you are looking to spend less cash.

As for the Rosewill cases, maybe I just got stuck with building some machines for people that chose the worst cases; by all means, don't let my opinion sway your decision if you feel solidly on your choice. I haven't seen this case in person, so I don't have an accurate review for you...only 'less than favorable' on previous Rosewill cases.
June 4, 2008 3:21:12 PM

Quote:
I'm thinking that, although current games don't utilitize quad core, I believe that future games will. Current games such as Supreme Commander and World in Conflict seem to indicate this trend.


I play both of these on my Q6600 and it performs very, very well. The quad will clock to 3.0ghz just by changing the FSB to 333 from 266. Mine has been @3.6, but I usually run it @ ~3.425ish. Yes, you will get higher frame rates with an E8400 when you OC it, but are you going to know the diffrence between a Q6600 @3.2 and a E8400 at 3.6?

I believe in playability and future gaming, not framerates and benchmark 'wars'.
June 4, 2008 3:27:29 PM

B-Unit - I like your thinking regarding using SLI to extend like of the system; buy one high-end card now that will max games for year or so, then buy a 2nd card for SLI down the road to extend the lifespan. While I don't think that I want to put off my new computer until July to buy a card that has yet to show how it'll perform (there's always a better card coming out in a few months) I'll consider looking at current cards like the 9800 GTX to fill that same role. In addition, I'm even more anxious to buy my new rig since I already have the monitor (which is too much for my current card to handle) and I've been "building" this computer for over a year now. Thanks for your $.02.

aevm - I'm not too concerned about not being GT SLI certified (by Nvidia's own admitance, that list is not all-inclusive and reviews of the 650W say that it'll do the trick) but your statements regarding quality give me pause. I'll see if I can dig a little deeper into both PSUs. One sticking point is the current PSU drops to $70 after rebate so your suggested PSU becomes twice as expensive. However, I fully appreciate the need to have a stable and quality power supply. Thank you for your thoughts.
June 4, 2008 3:38:39 PM

rubix_1011 said:


I play both of these on my Q6600 and it performs very, very well. The quad will clock to 3.0ghz just by changing the FSB to 333 from 266. Mine has been @3.6, but I usually run it @ ~3.425ish. Yes, you will get higher frame rates with an E8400 when you OC it, but are you going to know the diffrence between a Q6600 @3.2 and a E8400 at 3.6?

I believe in playability and future gaming, not framerates and benchmark 'wars'.


My exact thoughts on the topic. Quick clarification, do you mean changing FSB from 266 to 333? I figured this is what you meant but I wanted to make sure.
June 4, 2008 3:58:53 PM

aevm said:
You can get much better deals for PSU and HDD if you can spend a few bucks more.

Silencer 750W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341011&Tpk=Silencer%2b750

WD6400AAKS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136218&Tpk=WD6400AAKS

+1

I'd also suggest waiting for the HD4870 or GTX 280/260.
I would get 2x2GB ram instead of 4x1GB. It is cheaper, overclocks better (typically with 2/4 slots occupied), and you can upgrade to 8GB in the future. If you're looking to extend the life of your build, I would stay with a quad core instead of opting for the dual core as one guy suggested. If it's in the budget spring for the Q9450 as a better stock alternative (may not overclock better than a Q6600, but there are some advantages to the Yorkfield processors over the Kentsfield - cache, SSE4, 45nm)

Ram suggestion:
CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - $85 w/ free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
June 4, 2008 4:07:14 PM

Quote:
The quad will clock to 3.0ghz just by changing the FSB to 333 from 266.


Yeah, I said the same thing you did, just the opposite that most people think and talk. You can change the FSB to 333 witout needing to adjust the voltage.
June 4, 2008 4:21:58 PM

KyleSTL said:
+1

I'd also suggest waiting for the HD4870 or GTX 280/260.
I would get 2x2GB ram instead of 4x1GB. It is cheaper, overclocks better (typically with 2/4 slots occupied), and you can upgrade to 8GB in the future. If you're looking to extend the life of your build, I would stay with a quad core instead of opting for the dual core as one guy suggested. If it's in the budget spring for the Q9450 as a better stock alternative (may not overclock better than a Q6600, but there are some advantages to the Yorkfield processors over the Kentsfield - cache, SSE4, 45nm)

Ram suggestion:
CORSAIR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-6400C5 - $85 w/ free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks for the observations. I'll give the Q9450 some thought. As for the RAM goes, I I think I'll go the 2x2GB route instead of 4x1GB if I find that 4GB is really worth it (I'm going to research this again). I'm going to initially load XP but will switch to Vista when (if ever) it become advantagious to gaming. If I do go 2x2BG, I think I'll go with G.Skill. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Same price and slightly better timing (next to no real increase, I know, but it's a free bonus from my point of view).
June 4, 2008 4:29:01 PM

aevm said:
Here's a nice deal for a PSU:

OCZ GameXStream 700W $90 after rebate & shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341002&Tpk=GameXStream%2b700W

This is a tier 2, i.e. you can trust it all right.

About the case: do you like this RC-690?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119137



Thanks for the PSU find. I'll switch to that.

For the case: I had selected that case at one point but for some reason moved away from it. It keeps coming back into consideration, however, so perhaps I'm supposed to buy it... the universe is a strange place. :pt1cable:  I'll give it a sixth look.

Thanks again.
June 4, 2008 5:18:21 PM

4870 out on July 15th ... expect the benchmarks anytime over the next three days.
June 4, 2008 5:21:31 PM

MadBadger said:
B-Unit - I like your thinking regarding using SLI to extend like of the system; buy one high-end card now that will max games for year or so, then buy a 2nd card for SLI down the road to extend the lifespan. While I don't think that I want to put off my new computer until July to buy a card that has yet to show how it'll perform (there's always a better card coming out in a few months) I'll consider looking at current cards like the 9800 GTX to fill that same role. In addition, I'm even more anxious to buy my new rig since I already have the monitor (which is too much for my current card to handle) and I've been "building" this computer for over a year now. Thanks for your $.02.

aevm - I'm not too concerned about not being GT SLI certified (by Nvidia's own admitance, that list is not all-inclusive and reviews of the 650W say that it'll do the trick) but your statements regarding quality give me pause. I'll see if I can dig a little deeper into both PSUs. One sticking point is the current PSU drops to $70 after rebate so your suggested PSU becomes twice as expensive. However, I fully appreciate the need to have a stable and quality power supply. Thank you for your thoughts.


Yea, many here will tell you its bad because the 'next new thing is comming by then' but thats kind of the point. The next new thing drives prices down, making the SLi solution affordable. Also, avoid the 9xxx geforce cards, there just rebranded 8xxx series at a higher price point. If your gonna go for better than the GT, gun for an 8800 GTS 512. Its exactly the same as a 9800GTX except for the Tri-SLi connector.

As far as power supplies go, take a look at http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=108088 Youll have to scroll down to the second post, and be certain to pay attention to model names, but anything Tier3 and up will do fine.
EDIT: Didnt see you had already found a nice Tier2 PSU, disregard.
June 4, 2008 6:12:01 PM

MadBadger said:
I'm going to initially load XP but will switch to Vista when (if ever) it become advantagious to gaming.

It already is adventageous to gaming. DX10 can only run on Vista. Any game you intend on playing will not have the extra features that come with DX10.

I like the G.Skill you picked out. Both (Corsair and G.Skill) are top-tier memory makers (along with Crucial, Kingston, Adata, and OCZ).
June 4, 2008 6:40:49 PM

I was under the impression that Vista hogs RAM. It really doesn't matter too much to me anyways as I have both OS at my disposal. I'm thinking that I might start off with Vista and if things go south, switch to XP.

After thinking about it some more, I've decided to stay with 8800GT in SLI - anything more would either be out of my budget right now or would not bring about any increased performance. I still need to re-examine my HDD choice and case, although the price of the Rosewill is extremely attractive and the reviews are mostly positive. However, I'll still taking suggestions right up until I click "send my order". So if you've got an opinion on my build, please speak up!
June 4, 2008 7:26:39 PM

aevm said:
I don't like that Rosewill, not for 8800GT SLI anyway. You need something a little bigger and with more than two fans, IMO.

Check this out:
RC-690, $80 after shipping. $70 if you use Google checkout.
http://www.buy.com/prod/cooler-master-690-without-power-supply/q/loc/101/206177908.html
The Rosewill is actually $77 with shipping, and it's not as good as the RC-690.


Ok, I think that I'm going to submit and get that case, as well. That's the 2nd item from my list that's cheaper on buy.com. Is buy.com as reliable and trustworthy as newegg? Later I'm going to see how much money I can save by getting components there.
June 4, 2008 7:39:00 PM

From what I've read in this forum, yes, it's a good site, but no, nothing is as reliable and trustworthy as Newegg. Keep in mind I live in Canada and can't buy from either Newegg or www.buy.com, so my opinion here is totally useless :) 

Hopefully somebody who has bought from www.buy.com can help us here.

You could also do some comparison shipping at www.ncixus.com. I haven't used those guys either but I use their sister site www.ncix.com a lot, it's Canada's best IMO.
June 5, 2008 12:24:37 PM

So after a little bit of soul searching, I decided to swap out the mobo for the new EVGA 750i FTW. I hate shopping for mobos because it seems like, from the reviews anyway, that every mobo has some serious flaw. My original mobo, the Asus P5N-D, just made me feel uncomfortable once I got close to making the purchase. One constant issue mentioned in the reviews was an issue with the BIOS and needing to play some games to fix it. My technical knowledge in this area is very limited so I don't think that it's worth the risk.

I also updated my case to the Cooler Master RC-690. I have been considering this case on and off for a while and I decided that it was time to commit to it.

Finally, I replaced the 320GB HDD for a 500GB that was $5 cheaper. I still very open to suggestion regarding HDD, but I'm not willing to spend any more than I currently am.

That's where I am component wise. Once my credit card payment goes through I'll be placing the order. Hopefully that will happen before the weekend. I'll comment on the build once it's underway. Thank you everyone for all your input!
!