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Opinions needed on New Rig Build

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August 28, 2008 4:16:47 PM

Hello all!

I’ve been an avid reader of these forums for a number of years and many of the problems posted here, and more importantly solutions to these problems have helped me solve a number of issues I have experienced. Now as a registered user I hope to call apon the experience of you all, especially the rig builders out there as to whether my new rig would have any compatibility issues.

I have done some background research myself; looked at many reviews for each component and can’t find any conflicts that are known. But these things happen and I just wanted to know if any of you either from experience or knowledge think I would have any issues with this particular build.

I'm not worried about the price of components or where I can find them cheapest, I’ll sort that out. All I want is to know if there are/will be any issues which may arise using these components whether from compatibility or whatever.
Also any opinions about the actual rig would be nice.

Anyway here are the specifications:

CPU: Intel Quad Core Q9450 (2.66GHz, 1333fsb)
Mobo: Asus P5E3 X38 Deluxe (ICH9R SATA controller) [NOT the WiFi edition]
RAM: 2GB OCZ DDR3 Platinum PC3-10666 1333MHz (OCZ3P13332GK)
GPU: BFG 8800GTS OC 512Mb (G92) [basically a 9800GTX with lower clock speeds]
HDD0: Western Digital Caviar Blue SE16 250GB 16Mb Cache [Operating System/Progs/Games/etc]
HDD1: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 750GB 16Mb Cache*
Optical: Samsung SH-S203P DL DVD-RW (SATA)
PSU: Corsair HX620W**
Monitor: Samsung SM0266BW 22" LCD (1680x1050)
Case: Antec P182 – I'm 99% sure everything will fit in there, using 3DSMax and dimensions of components everything fits :p 

I’ll be using Windows XP Pro OEM 32-bit. (as I need the IIS for VPN at work) Vista doesn’t interest me.

All relevant replies welcome!

Additional -
* I would have chosen a Samsung Spinpoint F1 750gb drive, but a friend of mine has been having problems with a P35 board and delayed write failures (only solution is to turn OFF write caching which severely reduces performance)
**PSU has 3 rails rated at 18A. I'm aware the GTS G92 requires 26A, but the HX620W has power sharing between rails, and Corsair assures me it would be ok.

Additional, Additional –
I have no interest in SLi, at least until the actual scaling in games reaches the “claimed” scaling performance. Hence no SLi board. I may also get an ATi card later but I'm not sure yet. Reason I chose a x38 board was for stability, Intel chipsets have done me well in the past. I'm not looking at the 4870x2 as some games (example Grid) don’t support crossfire, with an X2 u can’t disable that from the ATi control panel (as far as I know). Single GPU with stable Motherboard is what I'm looking for.

Additional, Additional, Additional-
Uses for PC would be Gaming, Crysis, Grid etc. 3DSMax modelling, HD movie playback and Encoding (up to 1080i/p res).
If you MUST know a budget its just over £1k (US$2k?) - may sound alot but here in the UK you can't get that much for that amount.


Thank you in advance!
-Adrian :) 

P.s. I’d like to apologise for such a long 1st post, just wanted to provide as much detail as possible!

More about : opinions needed rig build

August 28, 2008 4:23:39 PM

Be careful about which Seagate Barracuda you get as the latest batch seem to have terrible DoA (Dead on Arrival) rates.

Just a heads up.

Also, you probably don't need an X38 (Crossfire board) if you don't plan to do it later on down the road. (Unless there are some specific features on the board that you're after)

August 28, 2008 4:26:09 PM

Yea, thats why i've chosen the slightly older 7200.10 and not the newer 7200.11 ones. cheers for the heads up though ;) 

As regards the crossfire, i'd like to have that option open down the line when scaling gets imporved, either through drivers or hardware. Plus the motherboard appears to be a good board even if i choose not to go the crossfire route.
Related resources
August 28, 2008 4:37:02 PM

why doesn't vista interest you? issues in the past have been fixed with drivers. for gaming I highly recommend it. if not goint with it I would at least upgrade to 64bit.

1. 4gb of ram is a must (even on 32-bit). ddr3 is just not showing much of a performance increase and way too expensive right now for what you get. get ddr2 800 (or 1066 if you plan on big overclock). on the ddr2 800 get 1.8v which is the standard voltage (anything higher is an adjusted voltage to change the cl so not really standard ram).

if you don't plan on crossfire real soon the i recommend the p45 (pq5 is good one) board. it is a great board. you can crossfire if you want just on x8/x8 which has a little bit of performance impact but not a lot and by the time you are thinking about it probably better single card anyhow. if you do think you will crossfire soon then get an x48 mobo. more expensive but crossfires x16/x16.

cpu - in the states the q9550 is only $5 more. might want to check into that

psu - corsair is great brand. stick with them. that wattage is plenty for single gpu. if doing multiple in future will want 750w corsair.

gpu - at that resolution a 4850 would do well. a 4870 would allow great settings on games and be a single gpu solution for quite some time.
August 28, 2008 4:42:05 PM

Hi nemo,

Some comments for you:

- X38 doesn't seem well favoured, it is rarely used. It is also expensive. I would suggest P45, Asus P5Q are £85. It leaves you with the option of XFire later in the builds life and gives you stability of an Intel chipset.

- 8800GTS is well outdated technology, and massively overpriced (£200!). Go for a 4870 (£180ish). It should have more juice and given it is ATi if you match it to P45 you could add a second one later. If you are thinking about going with an ATi card you may as well start with one especially if it is cheaper! A 4870X2 is overkill for a 22" but a single 4870 is about right.

- I think there are good deals going on Corsair TX750's at the moment (£76). This will last through the i7 architecture and also allow you to add a second GPU if you wish. Corsair is a good brand choice. Reliable and the 750TX gives lots of current.

- A quad core processor is a good choice. If you aren't going to overclock you won't need an aftermarket heat sink either.

- DDR3 is not a good choice. It is overpriced and won't give a good return performance wise. You will also want much more memory for 3D studio max, probably 8GB. Go for DDR2-800 and 8GB, Corsiar, Crucial, OCZ, and Geil are good buys.

- To use the memory you will need a 64bit OS though. It is certainly worth it if you are using 3Smax.

- Samsung 22" is a nice buy too. I can recommend it. Check it has an HDMI input for your HD films.

- Tricky on HDD. You will fill up a 250Gb one fairly quickly with Vista at 20Gb and then games going for 8Gb+. There are some nice WD 640Gb ones at about £49. Maybe a pair would do? Or some combination of a boot drive and storage drive or drives for games and films.

Hope that is good for a starter
Jeremy
August 28, 2008 4:51:56 PM

Agree on the P45 motherboard to save a good chunk of cash.
Also go with quality DDR2 800 1.8v like Mushkin for savings
I'd also go with the HD4850 for equal or better performance than the 8800GTS 512 for less money.
The Corsair 620w is a great PSU and will power crossfired 4850s
I'd stick with XP
August 28, 2008 5:23:21 PM

Quick replies here! Thank you for your input so far.

Vista doesn’t interest me as I have tried it on a slightly older system and a friend of mine (who is insane btw spent over 4k on a rather rubbish system), and vista just seems sluggish even on a QX9770 with 4gb of ram. And I'm not bothered about the whole ‘aero glass’ look. As regards the amount of RAM, that is a good point which I somehow overlooked... especially for 3DSMax.

Why though is the X38 not well favoured? I know the x48 replaced it rather quickly but it has good reviews :S It is Crossfire capable; be it only 8x/8x but that’s still the same as the PQ5 (P45). - Edit, the X38 is 16x/16x XFire capable, so it is actualy better than a P45, is this not true?

The 8800GTS I can get for £159 from a e-tailer so it is cheaper than the 4870. I was concerned that a 4870 would be overkill for the resolutions I'm running which is why I’ve gone with the GTS.

As I understand it DDR3 (1333Mhz) ram has greater bandwidth than standard DDR2 800, with the same latency times (be them a little bit longer @ 7-7-7-20)

As for 64-bit, I have been looking into that but there are a few articles which say games/programs are incompatible or struggle in performance when running a 64-bit OS. Especially older games (I play Age of Empires 2 regularly), I don’t want to have to dual boot just to play my older games.

Again, on the matter of the HDD for the OS etc, I will take your advice and look at a large capacity one, the 640GB looks nice but a 500Gb WD one is slightly cheaper.

-Adrian

Edit2 - i should also add that i do have a 40" 1080p TV and will be connecting that to the PC. if i dont find the frame rates spritely I may return or sell the GTS and get 2 4850's or 4870's. So the intergration of Crossfire is a large factor.
August 28, 2008 5:35:23 PM

You are going to see virtually no difference spending all that money on ddr3. so many things to spend money on before that. if price was closer then i'd say try it but for the cost right now just isn't worth it.

gpu - you would be fine with 4850 at that res. 4870 would allow highest settings on things and be more prepared for games in the coming year or two. but you could save now on the 4850 and add another later if you need more. at that point it would probably be cheap

mobo - don't see the advanatage of x38. p45 is great board.

os - 64bit is going to take advantage of the ram increase. if you don't want to vista (have not had any "sluggish" issue so not sure what is up with that unless missing new drivers or something) then go with xp. You should still be able to play your older games.
August 28, 2008 5:39:24 PM

No one ever seems to use the X38 in builds. It's either P45 or X48. If X38 gives you 8x/8x then why would you pay more for something you get on P45?

DDR3 has greater bandwidth but the performance gain doesn't seem to be huge. It is also grossly overpriced. What you need is a larger quantity of RAM, even if it is slower. Which in turn needs a 64bit OS for your system to utilise it, you will also need a 64bit copy of 3DSMax, this may come on the same disk - not entirely sure.

Note what dirtmountian is saying that 4850's are available for less and more powerful. Also you could add a second later if you needed to; you could not use a second 8800GTS on an Intel board.

For HDD I've got WD 500Gb ones at £55 and 640Gb at £49 (prices from ebuyer). Given that you had a 750 and 250 down you might be able to replace the both with 640's.

Jeremy

Edit: I'm also surprised that Vista 64bit should be slow, especially on the system you suggested. I've never seen that comment with reliable backing before either.
August 28, 2008 5:54:27 PM

Jeremy,

X38 gives me 16x/16x, but you are correct the board is rather expensive in comparison. I will have to look into the speeds of PCI 2.0 and the effect of a lower bus speed through the PCI bus.

I have not looked at ebuyer before – will check that site out, thanks.

Perhaps it’s just me, I'm use to a very nippy, heavily stripped down XP installation with only the essentials, so perhaps I should give vista another chance. For clarification the machine with the QX9770 was a demo machine I played with in my local shop – I can’t be sure it wasn’t messed up, but for my personal preference Vista just doesn’t appeal to me. I find DX10 to be nothing short of disappointing, and other than the claimed increased stability and the aero theme I just don’t see the point in spending £89+ on vista (Business or Ultimate).
August 28, 2008 5:57:57 PM

research and make your choice on os. but if you really want to maximize 3dsmax and more ram then 64bit is the way to go.
August 28, 2008 6:00:42 PM

Generally the improvement from 16x/16x is suggested to be around a few frames at low resolutions and maybe 5% at really high res. Sorry I don't have evidence, just what people have posted on the forum. It is going to be almost unnoticeable with 2x 4850's in Xfire - and probably by the time you think about doing that there will be faster single cards for a reasonable price.

I dislike the price of Vista - it cost £50 in the US and nearly £100 in the UK - deeply unfair pricing structure. Maybe see if you can lay your hands on 64bit XP.
August 28, 2008 6:23:47 PM

Unless you are going to Crossfire get the P45 If you are going to Crossfire get the X38/X48. The X48 has better memory compatability then the X38, Anandtech has a great review of the X48 Chipset.

3DSMax works better in a x64 environment with 8 Gigs of RAM. Vista SP1 X64 is the best X64 Windows environment.

1Haplo
August 29, 2008 7:23:19 AM

OK so after doing some more research mainly into 8x/8x and 16x/16x and also the whole P45 chipset. I have decided to drop the x38 and go for a P45 board. Sticking with Asus, is the P5Q-E a good board? On the pricier side of the P45 series I know - £105. (thanks for all you guys help btw :) )

HDD is getting an upgrade to a 500Gb(WD5000AAKS). Dropping the DDR3 ram to DDR2, but I'm not sure which to go with. Your suggestions about DDR2-800 seems a little slow to me. I would like to go with some DDR2 @1066MHz, as its one of the faster rates supported by the P5Q-E.
Again sticking with OCZ, I found 4Gb (2x2Gb) of the stuff for £65 – still lower than 2Gb of DDR3.

It’s just the GPU which is bothering me now. Mainly the scaling of multiple ATi cards. Anyone here got 2 4870’s or 4850’s XFired that can give me real-life data? Benchmarks are all well and good but real life is better.

Just to be clear I won’t be getting 2 4870’s, at the most it would be 2 4850’s, probably a single 4870 for now. I'm thinking 9 months – a year down the line when they are cheaper and I want to add another GPU (if I even do want too).
I don’t want to be bothered with getting another PSU just to power it. This reasoning is supported by the article on here about power consumption - 2 of them take over 200Watts! 2x 4850’s only about 130.

Again I'm thinking of gaming on my 40” tv (1920x1080) which is a much higher resolution than the PC monitor; 2 4870s would be overkill for just the 22” monitor, but for the TV (this is judging from 24+” monitor benchmarks using 2 4870’s) it should produce high frame rates on most games with a lot of the eye candy on 4-8xAA/AF, thanks to the huge amount of stream processors.

Ok enough muttering to myself, I think the amount of money I'm saving in dropping DDR3 and the X38 I can spend it on a HD4870. Good decision? Anyone recommend a good make? Preferably with a long warranty :p 

Again, thanks for all you guys help.

EDIT – Oh, I will also try to get my hands on a copy of Vista 64-bit. Not sure which version it would be though.
August 29, 2008 11:21:10 AM

The extra cost of DDR2-1066 is not worth the performance benefit. 4Gb of DDR2-800 will be fine. Generally the 1066 is useful for very large overclocking but in real terms (ie every day use) there is no noticeable difference.

If you do end up with Xfire, I would recommend a Corsair 750TX power supply. Yes it doesn't have nice modular cabling, but it is good value and has lots of juice.
In all probability power consumption of GPU's will continue to increase, so if you want your PSU to last at least this and the next build go on the high side.

You are quite right, currently, 2x 4870 is overkill for 22". However, gaming on a TV will not yield the same results as gaming on a monitor. Firstly it will have a much slower response rate. However at the resolution stated you are going to want 4870. I'm not sure benchmarks done for monitor are always comparable to those for TV's.

Jeremy

August 29, 2008 1:30:19 PM

+1 for the Asus P45........... Ive heard that other brands of P45 have compatibliity issues with QX9770 CPUs...not sure if that extends to all 45nm yorkfields. Since you are interested in the Q9450 I thought this relevent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dAkqLNAHx4

The video is for Asrock P45 which I am told is a subsidary of Asus.

+1 for DDR2 saves money!

+1 for the 4870 .... get the best video card you can afford as this is the main bottleneck in your system. ...is it overkill? yes for your resolution a 4850 would work, but this is where you want to put any overkill you can afford.

+1 for the pair of 640GB HD's ...now you can make use of that ICH10R southbridge chip...set them up in Raid 1 parity = peace of mind....or Raid 0 for speed (who cares lost my mind long ago)

+1 for your 40" HDTV .....while the resolution and refesh rates are not as good as what 30" monitor can get......gaming on a big screen is simply awesome immersive bling eye candy! LOL dont knife them till you see the whites of their eyes!
August 29, 2008 1:58:20 PM

+1 to ddr2 800. i know you are worried but trust all of us as we all agree that is the way to go. get 1.8v. don't get sucked into lower cl where voltage is raised to 2.0 ro 2.1. you will notice no difference from the 1066 and unless you are doing major overclocking there should be nothing that you feel is lacking with the 800 ram.

+1 to the 4870. get the best single card you can right now. if nine months or a year down the road you want to add another then at that point you can decide if the price for another and that performance increase is a better or worse deal then getting a different card. who knows what will be out then and what prices will do. also the nice thing about the p45 board is you can do nvidia or ati (just can't do 2 nvidia) so if there is a better card for the money from nvidia at that point you can change.

little clarification on the x8/x8 vs x16/x16 there was an article posted on another thread. it was only tested with a gigabyte p45 and x48 so not a lot of data but what the data seemed to show was the higher the resolution the more impact it had. 22" (1080) resolution and below the impact was nominal (lesss than 5%). 1920x1200 it was a little more. 30" (2560x1600) the impact was very big. keep in mind it is the resolution. there are lots of larger screens like your tv but the resolution is similar to a 22". i'm pretty sure but you may want another opinion. but i'm pretty sure that it isn't the size of the tv but the resolution that impacts gpus and crossfire. so even if you have a 50" at 1080p it is going to be less impactful then 24" at 1920x1200.
!