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Uninformed oldtimer buying new rig

Last response: in Systems
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October 1, 2008 5:40:37 PM

Hey everyone,

I'm a bit inexperienced in hardware which might show in my questions I'm building a new rig (last time i build one was like 3-4 years ago), and find myself pretty un-updated on gaming hardware. I've read quite a lot on forums, techsites etc but still have a few questions which I hope can be answered here. Thanks a lot for reading and replying.

The machine is going to be used for gaming. Overclocking potential is not very important to me (since I typically never overclock my rigs).

The Setup
Purpose: Mean gaming machine

CPU: Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9650 12 MB (believe its quad core at 3.0 ghz)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2

HD: WD velociraptor 10.000 RPM Sata

Samsung Syncmaster 2493HM 24" widescreen monitor
samsung syncmaster 2043bw 20" aux monitor

RAM: 4 GB undecided make and model
Motherboard: Undecided

Questions

1) Graphics card
I read some outstanding benchmark results for the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 card when compared to the current nVidia topcard (cant remember the name), however I have read on ATI forums that a lot of users have trouble with the drivers, card getting overheated, only using one GPU etc. Is there a "general consensus" on hardware sites / forums that the nVidia makes up for lower performance through better stability / compatibility with the newer games, or is it considered that the ATI Radeon HD 4870 X2 is the best card available, and the new catalyst drivers (8.9 I think) are stable?

2) Vista or XP?
It seems from a lot of comparison reviews that XP is actually better (faster) for games than Vista. However, I've read that the newest version of DirectX, will only run on Vista. Is this really true? If yes, is there any way it can run on XP? I've seen comparison screenshots, and it seems DX10 is really cool compared to 9. On the other hand I'm not exactly a fan of vista, and would do anything to be able to stay on XP.

3) 32 vs 64 bit CPU?
If I have a 64 bit processor (which I believe the Intel QX9650 is), will it run with no performance drop on a 32 bit operating system? Im a bit worried about going to a 64 bit OS, since I've read that there is typically a lot of driver issues, and the games does not actually run any faster on 64 bit (sometimes even slower), as they are typically written for 32 bit. Is this still factual? I know that 32bit will only utilize a maximum of 3.2 gb or 3.3 gb of ram, but since I will only have 4 gig, I don't mind that much.

4) RAM
I have read on quite a few sites that high-performance RAM such as Corsair, is typically
not worth the added cost since the difference in performance is very small. If I don't need to overclock the machine, will I need Corsair RAM or can I do with something more generic? If I can go with more generic, which kind would you recommend?

5) Sound level
In which ways can I reduce the noise level of the PC? I hate too much noise from the pc, on the other hand I'm a bit worried that low-db fans, doesnt give as much cooling as the noisier ones... Am I worrying for no reason?

6) Cooling
Im aiming for one of these newer cabinets which is a bit larger than ATX (eATX I think its called), whichs should hopefully give some more airflow inside. Im a bit worried that the fast processor together with the graphics card will get too hot with only the standard fans. Is there any special equipment or techniques I can use for decreasing temperature? Im not very interested in an expensive water cooling or similar. Or maybe the standard heatsinks and fans are sufficient?

7) Motherboard
Havent decided anything on this front, but havent really researched it yet either. Any recommendations would be appreciated though.

8) Solid state drive compared to 10K rpm
I have seen the new OCZ solid state drives are beginning to be somewhat lower than the earlier obscene prices. I was thinking of buying a 64gb solid state drive for C: for Windows, games and applications and then another normal, magnetic disk for data. However, I have read a lot of frustrated posts about Windows and applications crashing when installed on a SSD. Im starting to think I would be better off with one of the fast 10.000 RPM western digital drives, since maybe mainstream SSD's are still too young?


Sorry for the long post, hope someone will be able to help me with as many of the questions as possible. Thanks again on advance.

Best regards,
Morten
October 1, 2008 6:09:04 PM

1. I haven't heard of the 4870x onlyi using 1 gpu. About the driver issue, I use the one that comes with the card instead of the one off ATi's website.

2. Vista, I enjoy every bit of DX10.

3. Depend on what you want to do with your rig. Ex. I use up almost all my 4gig of ram when rendering in max.

4. DD2 or DD3? Corsair DDR2 are dirt cheap and I would choose them over any other brand since they never fail me. Now DDR3 is a bit pricey but then again you need to remember that Corsair is quality; if you can't afford them, go with something like Muskin.

5. Look for fans that doesn't give out a lot of noise. Scythe brand fans are great if you wan't to reduce the noise level or push a lot air. Also you can always get case that comes with sound damp or buy foam damping.

6. Go to frosty tech and check out their top 5 fans. If you have a good case, then airflow really isn't a issue.

7. Asus rampage formula or extreme if your going DDR3.

8. I can't comment of a SSD since I don't own one but would love to get a hold of one. Anyway, the raptor is good enough if your on a budget.
!