First build in a long, long time. Gaming. ~$2k or $3k

Hi all,

Last system I built was back in 2003. My oh my have things changed since then!

I'd like to build a primarily gaming system. I don't mind sinking $2000 or $3000 into it, as long as the system is beefy enough to hedge against future movements in hardware technology. Since things have changed so much since 2003, I feel ... overwhelmed.

One thing I'd like to avoid is buggy motherboards. My last mobo was a NF-7 which was extremely problematic -- buggy USB, buggy SATA. It's miserable. I'd like a rock solid mobo.

Two mobos I've been looking at are:


Seems like the main difference between the boards is the number of PCI slots and the memory -- DDR2 vs DDR3.

Even though I want to build a beefy system and don't mind spending a little money, I'd rather not waste money. Does DDR3 really provide a noticeable performance increase? Which mobo should I go with?

And, given the mobo, what kind and how much RAM should I purchase?

I've scoured the forums, and an overclocked Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 seems to be popular. Thoughts?

Anyway, any thoughts / ideas about choice of
I'd like to buy the parts ASAP, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I've had some heating problems in the past, so I'd like to really invest in the best CPU and case fans that money can buy.

Like I mentioned, I don't mind putting 2k or 3k into this computer. I just want my new system to:

1) be relevant for as long as possible (have a flexible upgrade path)
2) have really excellent cooling

Even though I'd be ok with $3000, I don't want to actively seek wasting money on stuff that won't make much of a difference in gaming. I don't have much interest in running more than one video card (unless it does make a tremendous difference), and because I use Linux (this will be a dual boot) I'd rather stick with NVidia.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks!
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  1. I hate to say this, but it is about time to jump on the bandwagon. The Intel Core i7 (Nehalem) is coming out next month, God willing. I would wait for it to come out and read some post release benches that will be out soon after. My main question is how much overclocking will be allowed.

    It is a completely different architecture and the one to have if it pans out. If the reviews don't look all that exciting then get a cheaper, due to the price drop, Q9xx. The Q6600 is nice, I have one, but I think I would go with the Q9xx series.

    DDR3 is only worth it with the Bloomfield (Nehalem), if you decide to get a Kentsfield or Yorkfield go with DDR2.
  2. For gaming with that budget i'd check out the X38/X48 motherboards instead of the P45. P45 offers the PCIeX2.0 sockets at 8x/8x , the X38/48 offers PCI2X2.0 at 16x/16x. Nothing wrong with the P45, but it is limiting especially with the top end cards (HD4870 and HD4870x2). Right now DDR3 RAM offers small benefit and really isn't worth the extra money, that'll probably change with the new i7 processors and X58 motherboards due out in a month or so (no one really knows right now) or if they do know they ain't telling.
    a few motherboards to consider. Running from $155 to $290

    Go with low latency 2X2 GB DDR2 800 1.8v unless you're a serious overclocker.
    The Q6600 is a great CPU, but you'll get better performance from the Q9550 clock for clock.
    A quality full tower case with good cooling @$130 with promo code

    GPU - HD4870 or HD4870 X2
    Power supply will really depend on your graphic card/cards solution
  3. Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3L: on the Intel P45 chipset, GA-EP45-DS3L delivers a record setting 1600MHz front side bus for the latest Intel Core 2 multi-core processors. GA-EP45-DS3L features PCI express 2.0 x 16 interfaces, delivering double the PCI express bandwidth of 5Gbit/s for the ultimate in extreme gaming performance. GA-EP45-DS3L delivers several advanced gigabyte innovations including the DES advanced, ultra durable design which provide optimized power savings, ultra cooling and ultra durability.
    Does the PCI express 2.0 x 16 so I would look again.
    Building too
    Have a nice build
  4. Like all the other comments.

    Wait for the Core i7. With your budget, the prices of the new CPU's shouldn't be a problem. Patience is a virtue!

    I'd say spending $2000 should be more than enough. Personally, I refrain myself from paying anything more than $1000 for PC's. This is partly my logic, why spend $2000 on a system that will barely last 4 years instead of spending $1000 now, and maybe another $1000 later. I'm sure the $1000 later will get you something better than the $2000 computer you get now.
  5. I think I'll definitely spend the money on the upcoming Nahalem. When Wikipedia says:

    Nehalem appears to incorporate the most significant new architectural changes to the x86 microarchitecture since the Pentium Pro debuted in 1995.

    How could I not? But I think I'll wait just a tad, because I've been bitten in the past by bleeding edge chipsets that caused endless trouble.

    In the meantime, I still would like something to tide me over. Something medium cost. So based on these recommendations:

    MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-EX38-DS4 LGA 775 Intel X38

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz

    Power Supply: Corsair HX 520W

    Still working on RAM and video card. Any suggestions? Especially on the RAM. Memory looks really complicated these days. I'd like to get something really kick butt. And a lot of it. :)

  6. 520w PSU is not "future proof" if you plan on gaming and want a powerful rig. consider a pc power and cooling psu in the 700-1000 watt range. that way you can go SLI in the future, or so you can at least handle a gtx 280
  7. ok a Q9550 and X38 to tie u over a month?!?!
    Seems a little much no?
    Get a cheap quad and cheap mobo
    Also cheap memory for the moment because Nehalem is DDR3 native

    Get a nice Case, HD, PSU, drive, and a good GPU because those wont change.
    Get the Corsair HX 1000 psu
  8. Yeah. I don't mind plunking down $1500 on a temporary system. My Linux workstation feels kind of sluggish. When Nehalem comes out, I'll prolly use this system to replace my workstation and the Nehalem will rotate in as my gaming system. :)
  9. All I can say is... I wish I could sink $1500 for a temp system! I just 'sunk' $1200 for my main system! I would be in heaven with a $3k rig... First thing I would do is cf x2 4870's!
  10. LOL! I guess the 15 years (and still counting...) of college are finally paying off. :)

    Unfortunately, between work and school, I don't have much time to actually play much. Occasionally I'll indulge in a FPS for a few nights so that I'm behind in both school and work. So I give up sleeping a night or two a week (tonight is such a night). Or else take vacation. I took a few days vacation to finish Call of Duty, VietCong and a few others.

    It's a hard life, but OTOH, since I'm a quant developer, I take all my computer purchases as tax deductions... :)
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