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First Ever Gaming Build - Tips/Suggestions/Opinions, Please!

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August 18, 2008 3:54:07 AM

Computers have always been an interest of mine, and though I have some basic understanding of the various parts required to run a computer, it's definitely not enough for me to feel confident picking the components I'd like to use in the new computer I'm planning. And that's exactly why I've come here to ask all of you knowledgeable people for some desperately needed help!

I will post what I've come up with so far, along with some justification on my part for why I've chosen each component. As I said, my overall knowledge likely pales in comparison to the knowledge many of you have, so please provide any corrections/comments/suggestions as you see fit.

Case:
· Lian Li PC-P80 Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case ($400)
OR
· Lian Li PC-P60 Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($280)

I've heard aluminum cases are great for dissipating heat. I've also heard that Lian Li makes some of the finest aluminum cases in the world, and that's the reason I've chosen one for my new rig. I'm just not sure whether it would be better to go for a full tower or a mid tower case. While I likely will not use all of the space in a full tower case for my new build, I figure the full tower has better air flow, thus making heat dissipation more effective.

Power Supply (PSU):
· Corsair HX1000W ($240)
OR
· Corsair TX750W ($100)

I'm not really sure about this one. As far as I know, the 750W doesn't have modular cables, which may be preferable in order to save space? I'm thinking the 750W may also be enough for my planned build, though I really don't know if the 1000W PSU would be preferable or even necessary.

Motherboard:
· EVGA nForce 780i SLI FTW ATX Intel Motherboard ($270)
OR
· ASUS RAMPAGE FORMULA LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard ($270)
OR
· ASUS Maximus II Formula LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard ($260)

I was thinking about getting the 780i if I decide to get a GTX 280 for my video card. If I go with the 4870 X2, I was thinking about either the X48 or P45. I heard the X48 is better for crossfire, while the P45 is preferable for single video card builds? Either way, some direction in this area would be appreciated.

Processor (CPU):
· Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz 6MB Cache 1333MHz FSB ($280)

I'm pretty sure I'll stick with a dual core processor instead of a quad core since my primary focus is gaming (and not modeling, video editing, etc.) Might as well go with the latest (and fastest) one, no?

System Drive:
· WD VelociRaptor 300GB 10000 RPM SATA Hard Drive (WD3000GLFS) ($290)
OR
· Western Digital Caviar 320GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive (WD3200AAKS) ($64)

My question is this - does the 10000 RPM perform significantly better than the 7200 RPM HDD? Does the increase by roughly $200 justify the performance gains? Either way I'm planning on sticking with a generally low amount of total GB since any more would be excessive for me.

Video Card:
· EVGA 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 280 ($470)
OR
· 2 GB Radeon HD 4870 X2 ($580)

So is the SLI GTX 280 comparable to a single 4870 X2? What about a single GTX 280 or 4870 X2? So far I'm leaning towards the single 4870 X2. If I decide to go with the 4870 X2, which manufacturer?

Memory:
· Corsair Dominator 4 GB TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF ($110)

In my searches Corsair Dominator RAM was always rated very highly, and so I decided to choose this type for my build. That's about all I have to say about that one.

Operating System:
· Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit Ultimate ($180)

64-bit OS is able to utilize more total RAM, and more RAM generally = better, no?

Optical Drives:
· Samsung 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe SH-S223Q ($28)

I was thinking about adding a Blu-Ray drive, though I'll probably wait until I own an actual Blu-Ray player (or PS3) before I add one onto my computer.

Sound:
· Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer Fatal1ty Professional ($106)

It's got some good reviews and should improve sound quality once I get some better speakers. I've heard that Creative sound cards have problems in Vista 64-bit though...

All-in-all I'm hoping to spend around $2000 - $2500 on my new build (not including tax, shipping + handling, etc.). Are there any necessary components I'm missing? Any alternative recommendations/suggestions? Any tips for a first time builder such as myself? Once again, any help you all can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
August 18, 2008 4:23:54 AM

To start off, ATI 4870s are a far better way to go than SLI.

If you want to go with a single card you cannot beat the 4870X2.

What monitor? You need a failry big monitor to make use of all that GPU power, otherwise something more conservative is in order.

There are a number of good power supplies I can recommend, bu first we need to nail down monitor size.
August 18, 2008 4:28:51 AM

I'll comment on the case here:

Consider the Silverstone TJ09 or TJ010. Although they are technically mid tower, they are very big. Also a bit heavy.

Lian Li will be a bit lighter and an excellent choice as well.

Be aware though that there are cases with better features than SS or LL. It's all about style and build quality with those guys.

Antec and Coolermaster, to name two, have some really nice cases that might not have the build quality, but have some really nice features.
Related resources
August 18, 2008 4:31:52 AM

Are you going to overclock? If so, you will want a better cpu cooler than what comes stock. This one is a good choice:

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

Dont forget good quality thermal paste:

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

I have to say that you will be perfectly fine getting a SATAII hard drive @ 7200rpm. Theres really no need in overspending on a hard drive to access the data milliseconds faster than a drive 1/3 the price. Get a couple of 500gigs and do a raid configuration or just use them as individual drives for xtra drive space.

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

As for sound, most any new high end boards will provide you with ample of sound quality so I would wait about getting a sound card, use your onboard sound and if you think you are disatisfied then buy one later. I dont really think you will be disatisfied though.

I would get Vista 64. It does break the 3.25 gig barrier and runs most programs with no problems. You will have some issues with some programs that are for XP only. So if you need them to run in an XP environment, you may want to get XP and install as a dual boot OS. I doubt you will have this issue but it will resolve it if you do.



In most cases the 750 watt should be plenty but if you can spare no expense then going with the 1000 watt corsair is a nice addition and will handle anything you want to install for some time to come.

Corsair is a good brand of memory to go with, you are going in the right direction.

I am using a quad core cpu and I game as well, I have to say if you arent going to overclock you will be happy either way. You will likely be happy either way even if you do overclock tbh.

I used this case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

There are many good ones to choose from but I dont think you will find much wrong with this case. Theres so much room in it its unbelievable. Great case. Very large case, its huge!

As for the video card question, I havent been on lately to see how the new cards are stacking up but I am getting the feeling that the 4870x2's are the best way to go. The Nvidia 280 is also a great card so choose your poison and have fun either way. I know someone will come here and steer you in the favored direction so be on the lookout for more posts on video cards. Dagger is a good one to take advice from.


I didnt feel like taking the time to add the quotations, sorry. But hopefully this will give you some general direction to go with.
August 18, 2008 4:44:49 AM

That case is a great example.

With a Lian Li or Silverstone you get a Grand Piano.

With something like that Coolermaster Stacker you get a Hammond Keyboard. it might not look as good sitting in your living room but it will do more things.
August 18, 2008 10:17:10 PM

Proximon said:
To start off, ATI 4870s are a far better way to go than SLI.

If you want to go with a single card you cannot beat the 4870X2.

What monitor? You need a failry big monitor to make use of all that GPU power, otherwise something more conservative is in order.

There are a number of good power supplies I can recommend, bu first we need to nail down monitor size.


As of right now I have a 19" Envision LCD that will probably be used until I am able to afford something bigger and better in the future. Though I'm sure it's not the best panel out there, I figure it's better than the old CRT monitor I had before (plus, it was a gift!). =)
August 18, 2008 10:49:19 PM

for the GPU, you should definitely stick with ATI. the HD4870x2 is an awful lot of GPU power for a 19" monitor (read: wasted power). unless you are going to get a monitor 24" or larger, the HD4870 will run everything on the highest settings, and you can always add a second in crossfire for increased performance.

in terms of your motherboard, are you thinking about possibly adding a second card in the future? if you think you will add a 2nd card, get the x48 motherboard (better crossfire support) if you think you will only ever use one card, get the P45
August 18, 2008 10:49:48 PM

A single 4870 will give you more than enough GPU power. A GTX 280 or 4870X2 would be useless.

You should readjust your thinking and build a new system around a new monitor.

You can build a powerful system with a 24" monitor for about 2K.
August 18, 2008 10:52:10 PM

if you are looking to spend $2000+ you definitely should look into putting a nice new monitor into the equation
August 19, 2008 1:08:48 AM

Just to reiterate - I do plan on buying a new monitor to go with my new build, only I was focused on getting the actual computer up and running before I decided to worry about spending extra money on nice peripherals.

But, I can see everyone's point that a new monitor is pretty necessary (otherwise much of the power will be wasted, right?).

SO, recommendations for a new monitor are welcome as well. Any brands/types better than others for gaming? Any suggestions for specific models?

Please continue to provide feedback on the other components as well. It's all been VERY useful and more opinions would be great.
August 19, 2008 1:51:49 AM

if your are going to get a monitor to handel the 4870 X2 your should get a P45 mobo becuase there really is not any need to use crossfire.
August 19, 2008 4:35:22 AM

Alright, this is my updated current build based on all of the recommendations I've received so far:

Case:
· Silverstone TJ10-BW Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($330)

Power Supply (PSU):
· Corsair HX1000W ($240)

Processor (CPU):
· Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz 6MB Cache 1333MHz FSB ($280)

Motherboard:
· ASUS RAMPAGE FORMULA LGA 775 Intel X48 ATX Intel Motherboard ($270)

Memory:
· Corsair Dominator 4 GB TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF ($110)

Video Card:
· 2 GB Radeon HD 4870 X2 ($580)

System Drive:
· Western Digital Caviar 320GB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive (WD3200AAKS) ($64)

Optical Drives:
· Samsung 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe SH-S223Q ($28)

Operating System:
· Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit Ultimate ($180)

Monitor:
· SAMSUNG 2253BW Black 22" 2ms(GTG) DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor ($250)
· SAMSUNG 245BW Black 24" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor with Height Adjustment ($400)
· Other

I'll likely buy a new speaker set and sound card later down the line. I've also kept a 1000W PSU and X48 mother board in case I decide to use crossfire in the future. So what does everyone think of this setup? Is everything compatible/justifiable? Would a 22" LCD be sufficient, or should I really consider a 24" instead?
August 19, 2008 8:33:50 AM

You need a 24" to take advantage of all that power.

Other than that it all looks great.
August 19, 2008 12:38:33 PM

Very good list of parts. Definitely go with the 24" monitor or greater. Im like you, I would rather get set up to be able to add another card later because you can really never have too much power.

These are very nice speakers and I use these on my media center setup:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Actually mine are the ones just below this without the remote. Basically the same setup and sounds too good to be true for the money...
August 19, 2008 1:15:45 PM

You don't need a X48 board if you are going to only use 1 card P45 are actually better at one card than the X48 if im correct
August 19, 2008 10:00:39 PM

hopkiller said:
You don't need a X48 board if you are going to only use 1 card P45 are actually better at one card than the X48 if im correct


My rudimentary research on computer mobo's has led me to the same conclusion. But, as I said, I am leaving some room open for myself in case I wish to have a crossfire system in the future.
August 19, 2008 10:24:05 PM

I don't actually know that that is true. There is some interesting research over at Legion Hardware, with a single 9800GTX and the high end offerings from each chipset:

http://www.legionhardware.com/document.php?id=763&p=7

Looks to me like the x48 has a slight edge on P45 in framerate. Also, looks like a big edge when it comes to memory bandwidth.

This just goes to my argument that we need a real thorough roundup on these parts.
!