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Gaming/Work Build for Next Month

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Anonymous
September 29, 2008 12:21:25 AM

This is my first post on the boards here, but I'm a frequent reader. Always love the articles at Tom's. So, hello.

I'm going to be putting together a new system near the end of October and wanted to see if I could get any tips or advice on selecting the right hardware for now. I've been reading lots of reviews from different sources over the past few weeks and have probably configured half a dozen different combinations in that time. Some of the tougher decisions were deciding to go either SLI compatible or XFire and DDR3 or DDR2. I'm sticking with Intel, that's what I've always used.

I've built a few computers in the past (including the one I'm using now), but have no overclocking experience, which is something I'd like to get into with this build. That's a subject for later though.

Onto the build... I'll be using this for work and gaming.
For work, my primary concern is 2D Painting (Photoshop, Painter) and secondary to that is some 3D (Maya and Zbrush mainly). I got a 21" Cintiq a few months ago so about 90% of everything I do for work is now on the computer.
Gaming -- Flight Sim is probably priority one, but I also play a handful of FPSs and MMOs when I have the time.

I'll be using the Cintiq as well as a 24" Acer and would like to be able to plug in to an HDTV as well since there's one in the vicinity. Not sure of the size of the HD, but it's not huge, maybe 34" or 36".

Should also mention that I plan to run a 64bit Vista OS, but not sure if I wanna get Home Prem. or Ultimate.
----------------------------------

Case:
Cooler Master RC-1100 Cosmos S

Motherboard:

ASUS Rampage Formula

Processor:
Intel Q9550, Newegg has it for about $20 less, but this one comes with a game.

Cooling:
Xigmatek HDT-S123. And the retention bracket for this

RAM:
Corsair Dominator 4GB PC2 8500. Planned on 2 kits of this.

Hard Drives:
WD VelociRaptor 300GB OEM. For apps.
and
WD Caviar Green 1TB OEM - For Storage

Video Card:

Diamond Radeon HD 4870 X2

Sound Card:
Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro

Power Supply:
Corsair 1000W 80Plus Modular - Will this be enough if I want to upgrade to a second HD 4870 X2?

DVD/R Drive:
Sony DVD+R with Lightscribe

Blu-Ray Player:

LG Black 6x Blu-Ray/HD DVD & DVD+R Combo

Card Reader:
Rosewill USB 2.0 Card Reader
--------------------------------------

Beyond that, I have some accessories selected for networking, game pads, headset, etc. But right now I'm just concerned with the computer itself.

Any advice or warnings about this configuration would really be appreciated. Like I said, I've done a bit of research over the last couple of weeks and this is what I've come up with for the amount I'm willing to spend, but I know there are plenty here with more experience than me and maybe you can be of some help.

Thanks.
September 29, 2008 12:40:17 AM

Everything looks great, I might not spend so much on the motherboard, especially on an X48 board, given the fact that X38 motherboards are just being cherry picked and rebranded as X48. You will most likely never see the little extra "oomph" in the X48 over an X38 when overclocking, since there's a 99% chance that you'll run into CPU limitations way before you run into chipset limitations. (Not that there's going to be a marked difference between X38 and X48 anyway, other than a $100 price difference)

I'd pick this board, that'll bring the same levels of functionality and overclocking capabilities at a $100 less.

DFI LANPARTY DK X38-T2R LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 29, 2008 2:46:49 PM

Now that's what I call a proper posting with details of the use & everything.

Quote:
500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express® power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX™ technology in dual mode)

http://ati.amd.com/products/radeonhd4800/requirements.h...

The 1000W is overkill for even crossfiring HD 4870s, but the good thing is it will last almost every upgrade in the future. Including 3-way SLI, shall you deflect to nvidia.

Get all the ram you plan to get right now. Nehalem is being rolled out this month or next. DDR3 will go mainstream. DDR2 will become obsolete & overpriced.
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September 29, 2008 4:12:48 PM

Yep, I agree on the DDR2 future, but I don't think it'll happen nearly as fast as you make it sound. But then again people tend to put off unnecessary upgrades too long and end up regretting it. I'm just rambling now... so definitely get all the memory you need now.
Anonymous
September 29, 2008 6:37:32 PM

Thanks for the responses, guys, much appreciated.

emp: Really appreciate the board recommendation. Your post spurred me to do a little more digging into the x38 vs x48 subject and pretty much everything seems to agree with your statement. If I stick with DDR2, I might go for that board.

Originally I planned to go with DDR3, but seeing that there's not a huge performance gain and the low-as-hell cost of good DDR2, I started looking there. Mainly it's the cost thing that lured me into the DDR2 boards. 8 gigs of DDR2 for the price of 2 gigs of fast DDR3. Probably not the wisest way to approach it, but I'm still undecided.

I'm also getting the general sense that a lot of newer DDR3 boards aren't quite as stable, or are at least a little pickier about ram than the DDR2 boards. Is there any truth in that?

Anyway, I do want to future proof this thing as much as possible without breaking the bank and the mobo is really the foundation of it all, so I wanna make the right choice there. I don't wanna be stuck in a Rhombus ram situation again.

EDIT: I guess if I get the full 8 gigs of DDR2 now then there's really nothing to worry about other than being able to use that ram on my next board.

Glad to hear that PSU is more than enough. It was part of a bundle on Newegg with a good price.
September 29, 2008 10:15:16 PM

Umm the thing is that about 95% of the DDR3 RAM modules out there are basically on a speed race right now to establish their new products, so all of them are overclocked and running beyond JEDEC specs (1.5v should be the standard, but most are running at 1.65v to 1.7v).

You will not see any gains from using DDR3 at all, unless you plan on doing some extreme, record-breaking overclocking (And even then, I'd argue about the value of such memory modules). DDR3, in my opinion, was released so early for it to consolidate it's place on the market and have people playtest with the early modules, it won't really start mattering until Nehalem/Deneb.

With that said, you won't be able to use DDR2 on a future build, but by the time you need a new PC, there will be not only far better DDR3 modules, but also a lot more affordable. This is the kind of thing that is best to just sit out and wait for it to drop in price.
Anonymous
September 30, 2008 9:27:45 PM

Yeah, from what I've been able to find, there's not a huge difference right now in speed. And the cost is just more than I'm comfortable with.

So yeah, I think I'll just save my money (and headaches) and go with the 8 gigs of DDR2. I don't need bleeding edge stuff anyway, I just want something that's gonna be able to perform well for the next few years. And after a few years, I"ll probably only be updating the video card, and maybe the processor, to squeeze another couple of years out of the board.

And I've been reading some great reviews and comments about those DFI boards, thanks again for the tip.
September 30, 2008 10:10:24 PM

Also, the new i7 cpu's have a completely different socket so your CPU will have to be replaced in any future upgrades.
Anonymous
September 30, 2008 11:16:51 PM

mexpedip said:
Also, the new i7 cpu's have a completely different socket so your CPU will have to be replaced in any future upgrades.


Well, if that were my only option a few years down the road. From what I've seen so far, the i7s don't perform much better in games yet anyway.

If I still haven't purchased the parts for my new build by the time the x58 boards and the i7 chips hit the shelves, then maybe I'll re-evaluate things if the prices are right. I'm guessing the new tech will lower the prices of current products anyway.

!