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3K Budget for new rig, need suggestions!

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June 6, 2008 2:06:01 PM

Hey everyone,

I have built my own computers in the past (total of 3), but since the last one I built (about 4 years ago) I had stopped paying so much attention to what was going on in the hardware world. So now it is time for me to replace my p4 2.8ghz and enter into the modern computing world (again). I have a $3,000 budget, and that has to include a monitor(s) but it won't include software since I get all that for free from work (+1 for making friends with the IT guy). I will stay under that budget no matter what.

Purpose of the system: I do video commentaries for video games and I am planning on doing a lot more with video editing & video work. Encoding, compressing, and working with video in general is a slow process so I need to be able to do these things as fast as possible. I also like to play games but to be honest, I can't remember the last time I played a "cutting edge" game other than maybe Doom 3 which I didn't find all that interesting so I didn't play that too long. I would like to be able to play the new unreal tournament when it comes out & fallout 3, but that's about it. Right now all I play is StarCraft :lol: 

Here is my first idea of what I'm thinking about doing:
-Overclockable quad
-4GB DDR3?
-2x cd/dvd r/w combo
-not set on case yet
-2x 150GB raptors in RAID (I forget which #... speed not redundancy, I'll back up elsewhere)
-1x large volume drive (750gbish)
-no idea on mobo, not sure where they are at these days
-no idea on gfx card yet
-X-fi or some other good sound card, again not sure what's out there these days
-Not sure what size PSU I need, I'm guessing 750W?
-good quality microphone
-24" LCD
-If any money left, a 2nd monitor.

OS:
-any version of windows (I'll probably go with Vista Ultimate 64)
-complete office 2k7

I'd love to get some advice from the gurus that hang around here and any tips on what to look for, and any hardware suggestions. Thanks guys!

-john

More about : budget rig suggestions

June 6, 2008 2:53:30 PM

Case: - $120 After Rebate
NZXT Zero Black/Silver Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Ram: - $98 After Rebate
OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drives - Total for all 3: $710
Two of these in RAID 0 - $300 each
Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10000 RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Backup Drive - $110
Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU - $340
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Yorkfield 2.66GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard - $235
GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total so far: $1503

Which leaves you with another $1500 to cover video card, PSU and monitor(s). Most headsets are cheap, maybe $30 and you can pickup a nice headset/mic. Same with DVDRW drives, cheap so I didn't even really factor it in. The Velociraptors completely dominate the old 150gb raptors in every single way. If you don't want to spend $600 on the 2 velociraptors for RAID 0 just yet, I'd say at least buy one and wait until you can buy a 2nd one. The 150 raptors are outdated.
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/699/3/

You'll need a power supply, and that'll come down to what you want to do with graphics. I included a link to an x48 board, so if you went that route you wouldn't have the option of SLI, but you could still crossfire. With the release of the 4870's just around the corner, that's probably the best route, especially since you're looking to overclock and you'll find it much easier on the x48 than on most nvidia chipsets.

As for monitors, if image quality is really important to you, I'd recommend the Dell 2008WFP: $620
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Monitors/pr...

So that would still leave you with ~$900 for graphics and a PSU (no problem, even with 2x 4870's and a nice 750-800W). If you're going Vista Ult 64bit, you might want to consider getting a 2nd kit of ram, so drop that to $800 to spend on graphics cards and PSU, and you're still set. But I'd definitely wait for the new cards to be released before making your decision and building.

I'm sure others have some good advice to give here too, but just my 2 cents :) 
June 6, 2008 2:54:32 PM

So I was looking at hard drives and I see these two options:

2x Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $175

or

1x Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $300

Why wouldn't you go with the VelociRaptor drive? Cheaper for the same space, faster, and only 1 drive! So I think I'll be changing the 2x150GB raptors to one of these, non-raid.

EDIT: Thanks Oh Snap for pointing this out at the same time I saw it on newegg! :lol: 
Related resources
June 6, 2008 2:57:44 PM

Thanks Oh Snap, I'm going to go through and consider all of the items you posted. I didn't realize how cheap memory was these days!
June 6, 2008 4:27:30 PM

DDR2 Memory is very cheap. If you're going 64 bit and you're spending 3k go for 8 gigs of ram. You're looking at < $200 for nice ram and if I recall correctly video/photo editing loves ram. DDR3 on the other hand is expensive, but at the moment there is no good reason to go for DDR3 unless you're looking at extreme overclocking.

Video cards are a tough choice at the moment. You've got new releases coming at the end of the month which means possible new high end components as well as a potential drop in price on the mid-range and current high-range products. I just bought a comp this week and went with an 8800GTS. It's a solid performer and I figure there is always something better around the corner and a price drop coming, so for me I didn't see much benefit in continued waiting. I might regret it in 3 weeks when the 4870s are making my card look like an onboard chip, but I'll deal with that when and if it comes.

I went with an ASUS X48 board incase the ATI 4 series are amazing, and I'm liking it so far. I'm sure the gigabyte one that OhSnap linked will serve you well. If you don't ever intend to go for dual graphics, then an X38 would do fine at a slightly lower price point.

I went the CPU that OhSnap linked as well. I've heard nothing but good about the Q6600s as well and they are a bit cheaper. I'd say whatever you pick be sure to go for something quad core. The benchies seem to show a significant gain in performance for video applications with more cores.

For disk drives the Samsung S203B seem to have an excellent reputation. Though I don't use these very heavily so anything would have worked for me. My main draw was that they are < $30 and sata, so you don't have those fat cables in the way and can have a nice clean case.

Go for the velociraptor all the way. I've been using their raptors since they came out and have had nothing but good experiences. I waited till this week to buy my new machine since newegg didn't get these hard drives till then.

I've got an X-FI that I'm about to install today on Vista Ultimate 64. I've heard bad things about their support in Vista, but I can't confirm anything. For a mic or headset I'd just hit up newegg and read some positive reviews. If you're an audiophile, then you might want to dig a bit deeper into some of the audio sites around. I'm not overly picky, so unless it sounds like crap I'm happy.

The case he linked looks reasonably nice and it's a good price for a full tower. Though if you're not used to them full tower cases are HUGE. So if you don't want a 30"/10"/24" case you should probably look into a mid tower. Though once you've worked in a full tower case you'll never go back. All that room is a dream come true after working in smaller cases.

Cases are more about personal taste and style than anything else in my opinion. Go with a quality brand and pick something that you like the looks of that has been reviewed well. I just got a Cooler Master Cosmos S-1100 and it has been great to work with. I've only got a few complaints and they are relatively minor. Though I did do some serious cursing at the floppy drive bay setup.

Your PSU will depend on your video cards. I went with a PCP&P 860. It's easily twice as much PSU as I'll ever need on this system. I probably should have saved $100 and went for one of the 750W versions, but I liked this one so I went for it. I've got a few minor case/PSU combo complaints, but it's an amazing PSU. It just isn't designed for cases which mount their PSU in the bottom instead of the top and that lead to a few issues for me.

As for monitors screen real estate is always nice, but definitely consider your resolutions. I'm not sure what you'll typically be working in resolution wise for your video stuff, but LCDs arn't known for scaling down well and they don't scale up at all. Most 24" monitors will be in full HD resolution, but you may or may not need that high of a resolution.

If you're interested in dual monitors, you can get a pair of nice 22" monitors for the cost of a nice 24" in a lot of cases. I use duals at work and for coding purposes they are a god send. Though for some reason my right monitor has THG up a lot lately and I'm not doing much coding :p  Though a nice 24" monitor with a little 19" LCD that will go from landscape to portrait would make for a nice setup.
June 6, 2008 4:43:10 PM

I'd say go with the 2008WFP and then if you want another one down the line, you'll have no problem getting one as the same model will be available for quite a while and will likely come down in price by the end of the year. You'll know whether or not you have enough desktop space after using the 1 monitor for a little while.
June 6, 2008 5:53:27 PM

Thanks Clay. Some good points in your post for sure. I'd love to hear a short review from you about the X-fi on Vista when you are done setting it up since that's what I'm most likely going to use.

My last mobo was a gigabyte 8KNXP and I still love it so I think I'll stick with gigabyte on that one. you're right about the video card though.. my only requirement is that it supports dualies. And you bring up a good point with the memory, I will probably just double it 8GB for the extra 100 beans.

I think for a case I may actually go mid-tower... I am undecided at this point. I'm looking for more class than anything so that will play into what I ultimately buy.

I'm the same on sound, I just need the mic to be good, I don't care about playback as much (I'll keep using my altec lansings from 2000).

Thanks for your input!
June 6, 2008 6:28:32 PM

While waiting for future updates is usually dicey, with all the major changes possible in the next year this is not the best time to max out on a system expected to last a couple of years. What I expect to see - after the new graphics cards this month, are:
- New cpu - Nehalem with new platform and major increases in performance (the key is the new platform which means new mobo will be required)
- CPUs that use video cards for calculations - potentially huge in cpu intensive applications like video encoding
- SSD dropping to a reasonable level to be added for a major speed boost
- DDR3 memory getting even faster with prices dropping to reasonable levels
- Mobos to support all this at reasonable prices

In short, I am hoping for a quantam jump within 12-18 months.

I just bought the components for an interim system to tide me over, so I kept the budget to under $1,200 - which sitll gives me an E8400 cpu and $400 for a new graphics card when they come out later this month. Will be a fairly powerful gaming system but expect to replace cpu, mobo, memory, and HD in about 18 months
June 6, 2008 6:43:43 PM

I don't have a choice. I need to get it all now, so I'm going to go with the best I can get for my money in the mean time. I'm sure speeds will increase in 18 months or so, but 18 months is a long way away. Besides, it's never a good time to buy computer components :p 
June 6, 2008 6:49:59 PM

Well, this is what I've come up with so far:

CD/DVD Drives:
2x LG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X

DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $30

Hard Drives:
1x Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s

Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $300
1x Western Digital Caviar SE WD5000AAJS 500GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard

Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $80

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Yorkfield 2.66GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core

Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $340

Mobo:
GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $235

Memory:
2x OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel

Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $98

Case:
LIAN LI PC-65B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $130

Video Card:
EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $160

Sound Card: undecided because of vista 64 compatibility issues.

Power Supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 Power Supply 100

- 240 V UL, CUL, CE, CB, FCC Class B, TUV, CCC, C-tick - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $140

Microphone: undecided.

Current Total: $1645
June 6, 2008 7:19:05 PM

Couple of bits

- Try running this system without a sound card. Current onboard sound is a vast improvement over the onboard sound of previous generations. If you do decide that you can't hack the quality then you can by a card at a later date. Trying first might save you money.

- I agree with waiting for new graphics cards. There is no point buying something now and then replacing it next week. The new cards should be fast and should drop the price in other sectors.

- As long as you are not looking to run two powerful cards in the near future that 620W psu will do nicely. I think the 750 non-modular version is only slightly more and might give a bit more scope.

Hope that is useful
Jeremy
June 6, 2008 9:34:00 PM

Go with the 750w, as with a system like that I can definitely see the possibility of crossfire in the not too distant future. The 8800GT is a good choice for the time being as it's not too expensive, but I might even go cheaper than that if you absolutely need to build your computer before the release of the new video cards...

http://fxvideocards.com/ZOTAC-GeForce-8800-GTS-640MB-ZT...
8800 GTS 640MB $99.99 after Mail-in Rebate

That'll hold you over until the new cards come out, and you'll save around $60 on something that won't make a huge difference. Don't get me wrong, the 8800GT is a great card, but if it's a temporary thing (which I would strongly advise that it should be), why spend money when you don't have to? That's $60 towards a second 4870x2 :D 

That's going to be a great system.
June 6, 2008 10:48:29 PM

thanks guys, I'm going to tweak this a bit more over the weekend before I start ordering ;) 
June 7, 2008 3:47:48 AM

If you are doing video production work, and especially if you have considerable budget left, should you be considering a workstation graphics card like Quadro or FireGL instead of a gaming card?
June 7, 2008 4:08:55 AM

i don't know what one does compared to the other...
June 7, 2008 4:18:42 AM

after reading up on workstations graphics, I'm going to try a gaming graphics card first and see how that goes. i'm not doing anything on the level of what workstation graphics cards can handle (4 monitors, HD video editing, etc) so that is just overkill for my purposes. If what I do expands to include things such as those, they are an option down the road.
June 7, 2008 5:27:51 PM

honestly I wouldn't recommend a "workstation" graphics card unless you intended to work in 3d animation or CAD. Otherwise, a regular gaming graphics card with enough DVI ports for your monitors will be more than sufficient.
June 7, 2008 6:57:32 PM

I'll be doing a lot with autocad - but i know already that it is more than fine with standard nVidia graphics, so I'm not worried ;)  CATIA on the other hand...
June 7, 2008 8:28:39 PM

Are the intel quad-cores 64-bit?
!