Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

First *expensive* system, please help me not screw it up...

Last response: in Systems
Share
August 19, 2008 3:02:19 PM

Hello,

I am going to be spending a large amount of cash on a new PC which I am going to try building myself. While comfortably sitting on the general IQ median, I have no doubt that expert advice is needed.

I have done my research regarding components as best I could. My main areas of concern are:

1. Compatibility - do I have it?
2. Crossfire - will it work?
3. Mobo - future proof?
4. CPU retail fan and heatsink - up to scratch?
5. Windows 32bit can only use 3Gb max of the RAM - is that true? Is it still worth it? Would 2Gb with higher speeds be better?
6. It has been suggested the 1Gb Radeons are not much better than 512Mb...

Any other suggestions are very welcome, especially cheaper alternatives to the products listed:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 G0 Stepping (2.4GHz 1066MHz) Socket 775 L2 8MB Cache (2x4MB (4MB per core pair) Retail Boxed Processor
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP-161-IN

ASUS P5K Premium WiFi-AP iP35 Socket 775 8 channel audio ATX Motherboard
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB-258-AS

GeIL 4GB (2x2GB) PC2-6400C5 800MHz Black Dragon DDR2 Dual Channel Kit
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-069-GL

2 * Asus ATI Radeon HD 4850 1024MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI (PCI-Express)
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX-170-AS

Antec P182 Super Midi Tower Case - No PSU
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-070-AN

Coolermaster Real Power 850w Modular Power Supply
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-147-CM

Thanks very much for any help.

More about : expensive system screw

August 19, 2008 3:15:23 PM

Motherboard: gigabyte x48 ds4 or any other x38/x48 motherboard because it will enable full crossfire speed 16x/16x compared to p45 who enables 8x/8x.

Power supply: 650 watts would already be much.. get a corsair 650 watts.

CPU: Get a heatsink cause you will have to overclock. You can also get an e8400/e8500. If it's a gaming build and you won't do intensive video editing and such go for a dual core.
August 19, 2008 3:25:06 PM

what is your budget and what resolution are you going to be gaming at?

but without knowing those things. +1 to the x48 mobo very good for eventual crossfire.
Related resources
August 19, 2008 3:33:42 PM

Thanks for quick replies.

Sorry for not posting budget and... resolution? O_O

My budget is £900 ($1,677.86), with no room to spare.

I have changed the mobo to an X48, thanks for the advice.

On that topic, and I have been without PC for a year now - why do I need to know my resolution? I was ultimately hoping to get an HD LCD monitor around £250 - £300 if that helps...
August 19, 2008 3:42:13 PM

Ditto on the heatsink even if you don't overclock. I've been told that the cooler temps 'should' let the chip live just that little bit longer.

5. Windows 32bit can only use 3Gb max of the RAM - is that true? Is it still worth it? Would 2Gb with higher speeds be better?

----Windows will see all 4 gig, but then will have to subtract the amount of memory your video card has so that it can address it....Since you're looking at a 1G vid card - yeah, win32 would effectively see 3gb of Ram. Unless you KNOW that you will have driver issues I'd look into 64 bit windows instead as it will give you all the hardware you paid for.

----Dropping down to 2G and getting a faster processor is also an option, it depends on what your going to use the system for. General computer use and gaming - dual core is just fine for most people. Video work or using applications that understand multi-core systems - quads the way to go. My Q6600 allows me to be converting two videos simultaneously while streaming audio...and I'm playing my mmo's online the whole time. Your mileage may vary.
August 19, 2008 3:43:10 PM

Get that also... 2 times cheaper and corsair is a better brand than coolermaster. Of course it has 200 watts less but who cares you need 550 watts for your setup.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

From sapphire website:

450 Watt or greater power supply with 75 Watt 6-pin PCI Express® power connector recommended (550 Watt and two 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX%u2122 technology in dual mode)

http://www.sapphiretech.com/us/products/products_overvi...
August 19, 2008 3:47:48 PM

Why does everyone still insist that 32bit versions of Windows can only see a total of 4GB - System Resources? I thought PAE took care of that problem, am I wrong? Did it go away? I don't get it
August 19, 2008 3:55:16 PM

PAE helps programs modified and compiled to support it, like SQL Server. It's not going to help in games.
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc784574.aspx

For a gaming machine these days, Vista 64-bit is the only system that make sense. It has DX10, and it allows the PC to use as much RAM as you can fit on the motherboard. That's especially useful with something like HD 4870 CF where a 32-bit system would lose access to more than 1GB of RAM because the memory address space is taken by video RAM.
August 19, 2008 4:01:27 PM

Well, yeah, a single program designed for 32bit still wouldn't use more than 4GB, but what about multiple programs? Windows uses virtual memory anyway, why can't they translate the app's 32bit space to a virtual 36bit PAE space?
August 19, 2008 4:02:40 PM

Get this Corsair 750W PSU: http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-011-CS

It's cheaper than the CoolerMaster, gets better reviews, and still powerful enough for your setup.

Q6600, GA-X48-DS4, RAM, video cards - all good choices.

Quote:
1. Compatibility - do I have it?
2. Crossfire - will it work?
3. Mobo - future proof?
4. CPU retail fan and heatsink - up to scratch?

Yes to all

Quote:
5. Windows 32bit can only use 3Gb max of the RAM - is that true? Is it still worth it? Would 2Gb with higher speeds be better?

Get Vista Home Premium 64-bit. If you already have XP 32-bit you can use it, but switch to Vista when you have saved enough.
A 32-bit Windows can see 3.5 GB (usually with a 512MB video card) or 3.25GB (with an 8800GTX, like my PC) or less (with two video cards)
Don't worry about higher speeds, since you're not overclocking. 4 GB with lower speeds is better than 2 GB with higher speeds.

Quote:
6. It has been suggested the 1Gb Radeons are not much better than 512Mb...

It depends on resolution, mostly, also on game and settings. If you buy a 24" monitor you would see a benefit from 1GB cards. For a 22" or less it's less important.


August 19, 2008 4:02:45 PM

georgy said:

Power supply: 650 watts would already be much.. get a corsair 650 watts.

CPU: Get a heatsink cause you will have to overclock. You can also get an e8400/e8500. If it's a gaming build and you won't do intensive video editing and such go for a dual core.


Sorry, I'm blind. Yes, this will be used exclusively for gaming.

mford66215 said:
Ditto on the heatsink even if you don't overclock. I've been told that the cooler temps 'should' let the chip live just that little bit longer.


Doesn't that void my warranty on the CPU though?

I also notice that the prices for the E8500, E8400 and Q6600 are very similar. Can someone else please give me a vote on the quad vs. dual core?

georgy said:

450 Watt or greater power supply with 75 Watt 6-pin PCI Express® power connector recommended (550 Watt and two 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX%u2122 technology in dual mode)

http://www.sapphiretech.com/us/products/products_overvi...


Ah, I see.

I am looking at:

Enermax Pro 82+ 625W EPR625AWT ATX2.3 Silent PSU
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-036-EN

based on some good reviews, does For PCI Express 2.0 next generation graphics cards with 6+2P (8P) PCI-E connectors mean two 6-pin connectors?

Thanks.
August 19, 2008 4:06:01 PM

Ok, I don't know why 6+2P would mean that... long day at work...
August 19, 2008 4:06:09 PM

szwaba67 said:
Well, yeah, a single program designed for 32bit still wouldn't use more than 4GB, but what about multiple programs? Windows uses virtual memory anyway, why can't they translate the app's 32bit space to a virtual 36bit PAE space?


I'm guessing they tried and couldn't? Or maybe they just prefer to spend their resources on developing 64-bit systems. Anyhow, it's a gaming machine. It will probably run a game and the usual Windows services, not much more.
August 19, 2008 4:11:00 PM

etrusk said:
Ok, I don't know why 6+2P would mean that... long day at work...


Yes, 6+2 means a connector that can be used as a 6-pin, just push the additional two pins aside.

LOL at georgy's "Get a heatsink cause you will have to overclock". Why? I'm not familiar with the laws in the UK, but I assume using a CPU at stock is still legal there.
August 19, 2008 4:11:40 PM

yes resolution does matter. the higher the resolution the more you need from a video card. size of screen is typically going to drive your resolution when talking LCD's. I would recommend viewing some and finding one that looks good to you. everyone is different and what i like you may not. once you find one that looks really good and fits in your budget then you'll know your resolution. on lcd's it is also important to look at response time. although there is not standard so it is a bit of a marketing tool lower is better and helps prevent ghosting.

quad vs dual core. in your price range it is a bit of a toss up. quad is probably a little more future proof but if you aren't going to overclock and the rig is mainly for gaming then getting a higher speed dual core might be the way to go. most games dont really take advantage of the quadcore and even those that do a better job of multi-core use still work fine with dual. the speed is important. so if the speed was the same i would take a quad but since price wise a quad at the same speed is significantly more you need to either get a dual or overclock your quad to match speed. but of course you don't have to do either. you can get the quad leave it at stock and probably be fine. but if it was my choice in that price range and i was not overclocking i would get the dual.
August 19, 2008 4:20:12 PM

aevm said:
Yes, 6+2 means a connector that can be used as a 6-pin, just push the additional two pins aside.

LOL at georgy's "Get a heatsink cause you will have to overclock". Why? I'm not familiar with the laws in the UK, but I assume using a CPU at stock is still legal there.


I wouldnt get q6600 for gaming unless it's overclocked...
August 19, 2008 4:34:00 PM

To Go with the DS4 i would get one if these memories...
OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR10664GK - Retail $132
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OR

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF - Retail $149

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

Also i would consider a high clock dual processor and Q9550 if at all possible...

DS4, 1066 memory and Q9550 would be pretty smokin fast.

August 19, 2008 4:56:31 PM

etrusk said:
...3. Mobo - future proof?...


Nothing is future proof... especially when it comes to computers...
August 19, 2008 5:23:51 PM

Yeah, Nehalem should arrive soon. The days of P35, P45 and X48 are numbered, because they won't support the new CPUs. Not even with BIOS updates. There will be physical differences (wider sockets, more pins).

If you want a bit more future-proofing get a MSI K9A2 Platinum and a Phenom 9850. It's still 16x+16x in Crossfire, and without overclocking the CPU speed is the same as the Q6600 (they trade blows in benchmarks).

Still, the GA-X48-DS4 + Q6600 combination is future-proof enough IMO in the sense that most users will find it good enough for several years. My own Q6600 is way overkill for my needs right now, for example :) 

August 19, 2008 5:29:10 PM

szwaba67 said:
Why does everyone still insist that 32bit versions of Windows can only see a total of 4GB - System Resources? I thought PAE took care of that problem, am I wrong? Did it go away? I don't get it

Here is a nifty KB article. A little dated and doesn't show 64bit, but http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555223/en-us

Because the OS itself is 32 bit and can only access 4,294,967,295 bytes(2*32-1 = 4 GB). From that limit is first subtracted "Hardware" memory, so your 512mb videocard subtracts 512mb from that limit. The /pae switch in concert with the /3gb switch merely told the OS to allocate 1gb to windows kernal processes and the rest to application useage for programs that were specifically coded to use largre amounts of memory.

The enterprise versions of server are 36bit OSs and can address more ram(2*36-1=~32GB), and 64bit can address more than you can possibly fit in a desktop.

Thus endeth todays tutorial, I actually have to do work :cry: 
August 19, 2008 5:48:49 PM

Vista 64-bit has no problem running all current and near future games? One could play Diablo 2, HL2, WoW, Crysis, etc. on it? Also, wouldn't the the need of the OS to convert 32-bit address to 64-bit (thunking?) slow it down?

For a gaming rig, wouldn't Vista-32 with 3G (or 3.5G) RAM be better?

I am also about to build a very similar system. [:thegreatgrapeape:1]
August 19, 2008 5:53:41 PM

You can get 4GB of RAM and install a 32-bit system. It will only see 3G or 3.5 GB depending on the video cards, but it will work just fine. In fact, Vista SP1 will even claim it sees 4GB, I think :)  Anyway, what I'm trying to say is you don't have to buy 1GB or 512MB sticks or something, just because you want a 32-bit OS. You can get 2x2GB sticks all right.
August 19, 2008 6:13:13 PM

aevm said:
For a gaming machine these days, Vista 64-bit is the only system that make sense. It has DX10, and it allows the PC to use as much RAM as you can fit on the motherboard. That's especially useful with something like HD 4870 CF where a 32-bit system would lose access to more than 1GB of RAM because the memory address space is taken by video RAM.


So is Vista ok now? Because I reeeaaally hated using friends PCs with it on :(  Does it offer performance advantages other than the 4Gb RAM compatibility?

grieve said:
To Go with the DS4 i would get one if these memories...
OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR10664GK - Retail $132
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OR

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF - Retail $149

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

Also i would consider a high clock dual processor and Q9550 if at all possible...

DS4, 1066 memory and Q9550 would be pretty smokin fast.


The problem being, the list as it stands is pretty much smack bang on £900, so to increase it I'd have to take away somewhere else. Also, remember we have 17.5% VAT here in the UK T_T

aevm said:
Yeah, Nehalem should arrive soon. The days of P35, P45 and X48 are numbered, because they won't support the new CPUs. Not even with BIOS updates. There will be physical differences (wider sockets, more pins).

If you want a bit more future-proofing get a MSI K9A2 Platinum and a Phenom 9850. It's still 16x+16x in Crossfire, and without overclocking the CPU speed is the same as the Q6600 (they trade blows in benchmarks).


I don't want to get into the waiting just another couple months for the next big thing though. Instant gratification is what I want :D  Of course let me know if I'm being stupid from a practical point of view.

I am interested in the mobo/CPU combo you have there. It is equivalent in price, if not cheaper. What would be the advantages, exactly?

Thanks for all your replies so far by the way.
August 19, 2008 7:26:36 PM

Vista - yeah it's OK by now. It does annoy at first because the interface is different, but you get used to it.

They fixed a ton of bugs in SP1. Drivers (especially nVidia, ATI and Creative Labs) are also much improved compared to a year ago.

It's not so much a performance improvement, compared to XP 64-bit, but it has DirectX 10 (for example Crysis will look better). It's also safer than XP 64-bit, IMO, when it comes to compatibility with games. There just aren't many people using XP 64-bit with games - it's more of a business OS.

Advantages of the AMD combination: price. At newegg current prices, it is cheaper than an equivalent X48/Q6600 set. I don't know about UK prices, but I expect the same. Apart from that, I don't really see much difference. The Intel version overclocks better, I think, but you don't seem to care. Try to compare the features (PCI slots, SATA ports, etc.) and decide which motherboard you prefer based on that.
August 19, 2008 7:39:19 PM

+1 for the corsiar 750 since its a quad core and 2 4850s
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

its all good not worth the wait unless you want to double your budget for Nehalem it require the new motherboards and cpus which will be more expensive plus it requires ddr3 as far as i know
August 19, 2008 7:54:28 PM

I read somewhere that the cheapest Nehalem to be released in 2008 will be $284. DDR3 prices should drop once Nehalem makes DDR3 popular and volume goes up, but it might take a while.
August 19, 2008 8:22:08 PM

I for one would wait for Nehalem... try to save $200 more and make a killer machine.

To my understanding the $280 quad Nehalem is to be 20-30% faster then its equivalent clock core2duo/quad. That is substantial, and worth the wait another 1-4 months (Q4 release date).

Also I noticed on the Canadian NCIX.com website that DDR3 can be had at reasonable prices now as well.

**edit**

At very worst youll get a cheaper system if you wait for the Nehalem release as many of these parts listed will drop in price (processors, MB, DDR2 possibly because DDR3 for Nehalem only).
August 19, 2008 8:25:14 PM

aevm said:
The Intel version overclocks better, I think, but you don't seem to care. Try to compare the features (PCI slots, SATA ports, etc.) and decide which motherboard you prefer based on that.


Bad experiences :pfff:  That said, with these additions:

Noctua NH-U12P CPU Cooler (Socket AM2/LGA775)
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HS-002-NC

2 * Noctua NF-S12 1200RPM 120mm Silent Case Fan - 3 Pin
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=FG-001-NC

and the 3 already built into the P182 Case, would I be able to safely overclock and would it be worth it?

Otherwise, I think I've been helped. Much appreciations.
August 19, 2008 8:29:22 PM

grieve said:
I for one would wait for Nehalem... try to save $200 more and make a killer machine.

To my understanding the $280 quad Nehalem is to be 20-30% faster then its equivalent clock core2duo/quad. That is substantial, and worth the wait another 1-4 months (Q4 release date).

Also I noticed on the Canadian NCIX.com website that DDR3 can be had at reasonable prices now as well.

**edit**

At very worst youll get a cheaper system if you wait for the Nehalem release as many of these parts listed will drop in price (processors, MB, DDR2 possibly because DDR3 for Nehalem only).


This is no doubt good advice, but I'm now in the financial position to do another build in say 8-10 months. If the current final spec of this PC won't play everything on "high" for at least a year, then I'm switching to consoles... :sweat: 
August 19, 2008 8:56:18 PM

Oh yes, the Noctua NH-U12P is the #1 air cooler in the world as far as I'm concerned. I've seen benchmarks where it went against the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme and matched it perfectly, and it even beat it in a few. And all that while being quiet.

The problem though is, I don't know if it fits in the P182. In fact, 92 GBP is a lot for a case, even a nice one like the P182.
This CM-690 is only 65 GBP, roomy enough for anything, and very well cooled. http://www.ebuyer.com/product/131551
August 19, 2008 9:00:37 PM

etrusk said:
So is Vista ok now? Does it offer performance advantages other than the 4Gb RAM compatibility?

The major "performance advantage" is that it will run DX10. Beyond that you pretty much have Vista SP1 running games just about as fast as XP SP3. Gaming Performance: Windows Vista SP1 vs. XP SP3
[:wr2:2] Once you learn the favorite tricks and tweaks for Vista (like disabling UAC-User Account Controls) you really won't notice the differences between using XP and Vista all that much.

The benefits of overclocking depends on the specific game in question. A game that is heavily CPU bound will benefit nicely from a CPU overclock. A game that is GPU bound benefits more from a video card overclock. A lite overclock on the CPU and video card will usually give the best overall performance. In most cases its also a very safe and easy operation.


August 19, 2008 10:33:56 PM

etrusk said:
This is no doubt good advice, but I'm now in the financial position to do another build in say 8-10 months. If the current final spec of this PC won't play everything on "high" for at least a year, then I'm switching to consoles... :sweat: 


Very good point
!