Newbie building a Q9400 or Q9550

I'm fairly new to this and I've been doing a lot of reading in the last month but the more I read the more complex this is becoming so I'll ask it here...

I plan on building a new computer soon to replace the one I lost when my house was flooded from a burst water line. I plan on building something with either a q9400 or q9550. Can anyone offer any advice or input into these two processors? Is the q9550 worth the extra money?

As well, my options for video cards and motherboards are still open if anyone has any suggestions. I'm leaning heavily to an ATI HD4850.

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  1. the Q9550 has twice as much L2 cache (12MB). that would translate to better performance. and the 4850 is a great card. i have one and it's amazing. if you plan on gaming on a 24"+ monitor, the 4870 would be a better buy though.
  2. I agree with Nik_I. The Q9550 is a great CPU. It overclocks easy, runs cool, great performance, and the 12mb of cache is a great step up.
  3. As far a motherboard goes I would suggest something like this

    Or if you can wait a bit longer. Nehalem is going to be released in October. Although, that route will be very expensive since it is new.

    The price difference between those two processors is $5. So go for the Q9550!
  4. Thank you all for the input, this certainly makes things easier. This system will be mostly for surfing but will also do some light gaming so I'd like to get a lot of potential out of it.

    Fly2hip8, funny you should suggest that motherboard, it's the exact one I was looking at for my build. Thank you.

    How much difference will ram make? I'm looking at:

    OCZ (OCZ2P10664GK) DDR2 PC2-8500 1066 MHz Platinum Series 4GB(2x2048) Dual Channel Kit


    Patriot Viper Series DDR2 PC2-8500 1066MHz 4GB (2x2GB) CL 5-5-5-15 Enhanced Latency DIMM Kit (PVS24G8500ELKR2)
  5. I've had bad luck with the patriot viper series. It would not even post at stock settings. Even with a bump in voltage. About a week after I purchased them the memory got all sort of bad reviews and eventually newegg took it off their website.

    The OCZ is an excellent brand. I would also suggest looking at G.Skill and Mushkin. All excellent vendors
  6. Thanks for the input I was leaning more towards the OCZ anyway so the added vote helped seal the deal.

    Since I'm planning on trying to overclock it (from reading so much of how easy it is for this cpu) is a 525w psu enough?
  7. It depends on the type of PSU it is. It if is top quality PSU vendor it will be. What kind were you looking at?

    Side Note: I forgot to mention that tomorrow Intel is suppose to be releasing a new stepping for this processor called EO. Which is suppose to lower thermals and improve overclocking abilities. So, i would make every attept to get this processor with the EO stepping.
  8. I doubt the retailers would have the E0 Stepping yet, they will probably try to clear inventory on the C1 stepping. +1 for Q9550
  9. Well, since I won't be moving back into my home for another 2 months, I have time to wait if need be. I can wait a few weeks for the E0 if the price will be reasonable.

    As for the psu, I was looking at an Enermax modu82+. I'm looking for something modular since there will be nothing but some ram, 2 hard drives and a video card in the system and I wanted to minimalize clultter.
  10. The Enermax PSU is a good choice. I have two PSUs from them and they have always proven themselves.

    As far as the price goes, if anything the price will be lower.
  11. Ok, thanks for the advice. I'll be building this system in the next couple of weeks. I think I'll opt for the next up psu in case I need the extra wattage at a later date.
  12. I would offer one piece of advice: make sure your motherboard is compatible with the Q9550. This is not a criticism of the Q9550, it is a fine product, it is just that the Intel specs on the Q9550 does not make it entirely clear that the Q9550 does not work with all LGA775 socket motherboards.
    I took my computer to my local and dependable computer shop to have the Q9550 installed (I'm on the road a lot and they really do have a ton more experience than me in this sort of thing). I was running an Intel E6400 cpu on a Intel Extreme motherboard, the D975XBX2 which has the LGA775 socket and Intel 975 chipset. To my surprise, Joe's Computer Shop called me to say the new Q9550 cpu wouldn't work on my motherboard. The system was delivering a black screen on start up.
    The Q9550 fit the LGA775 socket without a problem, but the motherboard didn't have a ability to run this specific cpu.
    I am having to upgrade my motherboard. After grinding teeth for a few seconds, I ordered a DX48BT2 (Intel) motherboard which defintely would handle the Q9550. This little addition cost me some real coin.
    This is not the fault of the good folks at Joe's Computer Shop. Really the problem is the way Intel specs read and it is very hard to figure out from the posted info which motherboards are compatible with the Q9550. One forum entry elsewhere made mention of the Q9550's 1330 FSB and my motherboard could only handle up to a 1066 FSB. While I wish Intel would clearly make this detail evident, it might be so few of these cpu's have been sold they haven't had time to professionally weigh the causes of such problems. Until Intel discusses the problem frankly, I'd be a bit careful about Q9559/mobo compatibility.
  13. You are so right about this sort of problem having nothing to do with the company that makes it. It is a problem of ignorance. And how do you cure ignorance? With information, knowledge and some insight on how that information/knowledge will affect you. Neither I nor Joe's Computer Shop knew that the difference in the FSB would be such a fatal flaw. Now I know, and so does Joe, that these sort of "details" are critical in decision making. Joe's Shop is run by decent, honest people, but their usual problem is the I-can't-get-Word-to-print variety. This sort of problem put them at the frontier of their experience/ability. I don't think, however, it is asking a lot of Intel to make sure their specs, the ones you find online at the, would make this clearer. The motherboard specs do seem to say the my original motherboard would handle the Q9550. Take a look and see what I mean.

    I told my wife that I could have put this all together myself, and perhaps less expensively, by ordering this stuff delivered to my home and doing it myself. I might have been right. Next time - if there is a next time - I probably will do the whole job myself even though there is a learning curve and it would frustrate me in places.

    Now, I'm not fussing at Joe and I'm winding up with a heck-ov-a-box. Still it erks me to have to go through all this mess.
  14. No offense taken. It took everything I had not to start screaming into the phone when Joe gave me the news. It is sort of uncanny and mind boggling that Joe would have believed all was well and the Q9550 would run on my old motherboard. Actually Joe was going on the info Intel has on their site. My Intel D975XBX2 board was one of Intel's best, an Extreme, and the online specs said clearly it would run all Duo's and Quads. I've barely had this D975XBX2 in the case for a year and I'm already having to replace it. Wouldn't want that happening to you. Places like Joe's have wholesale suppliers who buy this stuff, like cpu's, in 1,000-piece lots and then sell them to small shops. It was only when Joe got so PO'ed that he called Intel and complained that he starting getting some straight info about compatibility. Joe wasn't very happy about it and he really wasn't very happy about telling me, either. What can I say? Joe acted on what he believed was the best information he had. At least now I know better and maybe you and I can help somebody from making the same mistake.
  15. Ok... I think everything I've picked out will work together. Now, just a little side-track, what's a good CPU for the price? Is a Q9550 a good value for the money or will something like a Q9300 be better? Keep in mind I do plan on trying to OC it a little.

    Also, how will I know if the cpu I buy will have the new EO step (whatever that is)?

    EDIT: New information... I have a case now but still have about $3000 left to spend. Is it worth my time to go with something currently out there like the q9550 or should I wait for the i7?
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