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Next System Builder Marathon $1200 system: WEIGH IN HERE!

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October 31, 2008 11:16:02 PM

Hello gents,

I thought I'd give you folks a chance to see the upcoming $1200 build I'm considering so you can let me know if I'm off my bloody rocker, or if it's a pretty reasonable piece of kit.

Here she goes:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - $190
CPU Cooler: Coolermaster HyperTX 2 - $30
Motherboard: DFI P45-T2RS - $145
RAM: PNY XLR8 2x4GB - $60
Graphics: 2x ASUS Radeon 4850 TOP - $360
Hard Drives: 2x 650 GB in RAID 0 (not sure which ones yet, thoughts?) - $160
Sound: Integrated 0
Network: Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case: NZXT Tempest - $110
Power: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W - $130
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $24


Where did I go horribly, incredibly wrong?

Let me know now, we order the parts on Tuesday...

Also, what do I call it? Midrange? High-end? Or just avoid it and call it the $1200 system...?
October 31, 2008 11:45:43 PM

I'd change the motherboard from DFI to a Asus, Gigabyte, Foxconn or Biostar for the same price and 1600FSB. Since Gigabyte and Asus board reviews are pretty common, go with the Foxconn or Biostar. $125 for Foxconn or $160 for Biostar. If you want to be conservative go with an Asus board.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For cooler how about giving the Sunbeam Core Contact a try? $35
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

a EA Antec 650w PSU should be fine for crossfired 4850s, overclock and RAID, will make up the price difference. $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Go with the Western Digital 640GB at $75 should be fine.......... 2 for $150
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's a midrange gaming build to me.
November 1, 2008 12:26:05 AM

The Seagate 640 GB 7200 rpm drive has 32 MB of cache instead of 16 MB for only $5 more. I agree with dirtmountain, a 750W PSU is going a little overboard with only 2 4850s.
Related resources
November 1, 2008 6:18:42 AM

For gaming it would. Not a terribly balanced system, but really what would we lose except some HD speed? Maybe some case leetness.

It's an attractive option. Any other opinions?
November 1, 2008 7:16:54 AM

Buy the cheaper PSU DM mentioned and get the E8600 instead. Clocks to 4 GHz on air which should be great with the dual 4850's and the Raided 640's. Consider an X48 MB if it's in your budget. The system you have listed looks good. Just trying to add a little umph for you. Oh, I would pass on the Coolermaster Hyperx HSF. I used an earlier model of the CM Hyperx socket 775 cooler. It's performance was not that great. Not much better than the stock cooler other than the larger fan. Also avoid the aforementioned Foxconn MB. Poor support, no rebate coming your way with FC. Maybe this MB which has the same ROG (Republic of Gamers) BIOS enhanced options as the Rampage. Only real physical difference is the single LAN option which is nothing . E8600 is the key. It has the latest stepping Intel offers for 45nm and is by far at the top of the heap of DC processors as far as sheer performance possibilities, all time.

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

The 2 x 4GB you chose may not perform this well. So, you will be using Vista 64 I presume? Depends on the task, but 4 GBs works very well with Vista 64. I have the E8400/G35/4 x 1GB G. Skill PC26400 at 4-4-4-12 with a modest OC. Super fast at 3+GHz. I can only imagine at 4 GHz.

This RAM has great specs. 2 x 2GBs at 4-4-4-12, 1.8-1.9v.

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

November 1, 2008 4:11:26 PM

We used a TX2 in a massive heatsink comparison and it completely obliterated the competition for the price:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-cooler-charts-2...

I have to do some research on the E8600, I'm not convinced it will clock all that much higher than the E8500 to make it worth the price increase.

The PNY ram I spec'd out also has 4-4-4-12 timings for $59...

November 1, 2008 4:54:58 PM

the 8600 is much more expensive than he would benefit from, i think. The 8500, however is only $10 more and could probably hit 3.8GHz on air cooling, as opposed to 3.6 for the 8400.

the cooler that a lot of people have recommended recently is the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233003, and the retention bracket (listed in the "users also purchased), for a total of $39.
November 1, 2008 5:26:09 PM

K, here's a total system build. I've got to say it's different doing a general build instead of one tailored for a specific poster. Every niche user will have a complaint, serious gamers that have high resolutions will have wanted the 4870x2. Quiet computer folks would have wanted the NZXT Hush, audiophiles will say where's the soundcard?, overclock fiends will want the E8600, quad core advocates will say Q9550 and AMD people will sneer at Intel bias.

CPU - E8500 $190 Good balance for cost/performance
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard - Biostar TPower I45 $160 For the overclocking and it's not an Asus.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM - PNY XLR8 - $60 good timings, your pick, may as well check it out.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - Antec Earthwatts EA650 $65 - sufficient, good reviews
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case- NZXT Tempest - Good case, good room, good cooling $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU - 2 HD4850 Asus OC - $330
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard drives - 2 Western Digital Caviar black 640GD 32 MB cache $170 after comments about HD choice, worth the extra $20
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Burner - standard Liteon SATA $24
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cooler - Sunbeam core contact $35 as you said, you've used the TX2 before, may as well give it a shot.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total price - $1,178.89
I totally agree with Tom's about not including rebates (which are a pain, take 30-90days to get back and you are still out the initial outlay) and combo deals (limited time, very transitory)


In the real world when you do get that $110 in rebates back, go gaming mouse, quality headphones etc.



November 1, 2008 5:39:18 PM

Thanks for all the comments, guys. This is great...

I'm really leaning toward a single HD and cheaper case in order to afford the 4870 X2. I don't think the single HD will really slow the system up in real-world apps much sompared to RAID0, but the 4870 X2 will DEFINITELY speed the system up for games...

Also, I can save a few bucks by getting a good-overclocking mobo without two PCIe slots.

Any suggestions on that front?
November 1, 2008 6:09:30 PM

I'm having a hard look at the Biostar TP45HP which is only $110 but has an awesome overclocking reputation. With that in conjunction with the frugal Antec three hundred case, I managed to squeeze a Radeon 4870 X2 into the machine and stay very close to $1200:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - $190
CPU Cooler : Coolermaster HyperTX 2 - $30
Motherboard : Biostar TP45HP - $110
RAM: PNY XLR8 2x4GB - $60
Graphics: Powercolor Radeon 4870 X2 - $529
Hard Drives: Western Digital Caviar black 640GD 32 MB cache - $85
Sound: Integrated 0
Network: Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case: Antec three Hundred - $55
Power: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W - $130
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $24

$1213


I'm liking this system a lot. Any other comments?
November 1, 2008 6:11:51 PM

Vista 64?
November 1, 2008 6:43:14 PM

If you published some articles using the E8600, I would be eager to read through them. With the E8500, meh.
November 1, 2008 6:49:09 PM

badge said:
If you published some articles using the E8600, I would be eager to read through them. With the E8500, meh.


This build is about price/performance tho, and I find it hard to believe the E8600 is worth the extra $80 over the E8500.



In the interests of overclocking however, I am switching out the cooler. unless I hear some other compelling arguments the system is close to being locked down methinks:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - $190
CPU Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 - $35
XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - $7
Motherboard : Biostar TP45HP - $110
RAM: PNY XLR8 2x4GB - $60
Graphics: Powercolor Radeon 4870 X2 - $529
Hard Drives: Western Digital Caviar black 640GD 32 MB cache - $85
Sound: Integrated 0
Network: Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case: Antec three Hundred - $55
Power: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W - $130
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $24

$1225
November 1, 2008 7:07:37 PM

I understand. That's why I was reluctant to suggest a lesser PSU and putting the money into the latest and greatest dual core CPU available. I thpought your orihginal system was fine. I think the refined system is an improvement with the 4870 X2 at 16x. Be even more eyecatching with a E8600 watercooled (future article) at near 5 Ghz. Anyway, thanks for sharing and I like the system you have chose just fine. Looks real nice. Oh, I wasn't aware of the CM cooler you chose. My experience was with an earlier model of the CM Hyper brand.
November 1, 2008 7:29:56 PM

Ever thought of ordering from Buy.com for some things:
Save $29, before any MIR's and $49 after! $101 shipped - $20 MIR = $81!!!
Corsair TX CMPSU-750TX ATX12V & EPS12V Power Supply

Use the $30 savings and get the Cooler Master 690 case. I understand you can mount the PSU right side up on this case, if you like. I think it's equal too if not better than the Antec 900!!
$79 shipped!!
Cooler Master 690 without Power Supply - RC-690-KKN1-GP

That's a total of $180 vs. your $185 and you get a better case too!! Plus if the buyer cashes in on the $20 MIR, than the savings is $25 over your proposed build. IMHO I'd get the CM 690 case over the Antec 300. Don't get me wrong, the Antec 300 case is good, but the CM 690 case for $22 is a better long term investment. The Corsair 750tx is also a good long term investment for the $. It should last you through this build and the next!!

I'm also intrigued by the Biostar mobo selection. I don't think there are too many reviews on Biostar mobo's and I think they are a solid selection.

P.S. I'd like to see how the stock CPU HSF does with OC'ing. Then put on the aftermarket CPU HSF and see what results you get. This would really show what a stock setup can do and what +$40 CPU HSF can buy you performance wise!!
November 1, 2008 7:39:07 PM

I really like the idea of asking your viewers/readers which parts would be best for a given budget!! I think you'll get less negative feedback, because you'll have weeded out most of the minor tweaks and costs associated with the build. AND you can always say "We asked you what you wanted, so if you didn't vote than don't complain!!". Well maybe not quite that harsh, but you get the idea. It sorta goes along with voting for politicians. If you don't vote, than don't talk to me about your complaints associated with the people that were voted in!!!
November 1, 2008 8:01:45 PM

Quote:
I find it hard to believe the E8600 is worth the extra $80 over the E8500


For 80 bucks you get all this (in bold for starters).

The future

Intel’s latest Core 2 Duo may also be its last. Based on leaked Intel roadmaps, it’s been speculated by some that the E8600 may be Intel’s last Penryn-based dual-core CPU before dual-core Nehalem-based CPUs arrive next year. The chip is also the first Core 2 Duo CPU to be based on Intel’s new E0 stepping, previously Wolfdale processors relied on Intel’s C0 stepping.

According to Intel documents, the new E0 stepping contains “Speed path improvements enabling higher speed bins”. This should stimulate the attention of any enthusiast who is interested in overclocking, as it could potentially lead to greater OC’ing potential. For power misers, the E0 stepping also features a new power status indicator and new instruction extensions (XSAVE/SRSTOR), along with greener, more environmentally friendly halide-free packaging.The new feature you’re probably most interested in though is overclocking. Here the E8600 didn’t disappoint…


Overclocking
Over the years we’ve seen some CPUs that were pretty serious OC’ers, but we’ve never seen anything like the E8600, this chip is just begging to be overclocked. Don’t believe us? We hit 4.0GHz at default voltage with our E8600 chip! That’s a 670MHz OC and we still haven’t touched the CPU voltage setting in BIOS!

Slowly but surely we continued to crank up the FSB and voltage, eventually settling on 1.375V of juice and 452MHz FSB. Right around this point we needed to go beyond 1.4V in order to achieve complete Vista stability: 1.4V bought us 100% stability at 458MHz, and 1.45V got us past 460MHz. Eventually we settled on an FSB speed of 464MHz, yielding a final clock of 4.64GHz:


http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/intel_core_2_duo_e8...
November 1, 2008 9:30:00 PM

@ Badge, that same article concludes with this:

The question is, is the E8600’s 164MHz clock speed advantage worth the extra $83? Considering that the chip bought us an improvement of 2-3%, for a lot of people the answer is probably no, particularly if you value price/performance.
November 1, 2008 10:22:44 PM

cleeve said:
We used a TX2 in a massive heatsink comparison and it completely obliterated the competition for the price:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cpu-cooler-charts-2...

I have to do some research on the E8600, I'm not convinced it will clock all that much higher than the E8500 to make it worth the price increase.

The PNY ram I spec'd out also has 4-4-4-12 timings for $59...


Don't you think it would be better to go with the E8400 and upgrade your heatsink to the Thermalright IFX-14 since it seems to provide near the same core temperatures as a water cooled system for a fraction of the price?

You should be able to get better overclocked speeds with the E8400 than the E8500 due to the improved cooling.

But if the parts are to be ordered strictly from Newegg then I guess this option is out of the question as Newegg currently does not have the Thermalright IFX-14 for sale.

Maybe we should make this the $1250 system :p 
November 1, 2008 10:59:47 PM

slomo4sho said:
Don't you think it would be better to go with the E8400 and upgrade your heatsink to the Thermalright IFX-14 since it seems to provide near the same core temperatures as a water cooled system for a fraction of the price?

You should be able to get better overclocked speeds with the E8400 than the E8500 due to the improved cooling.

But if the parts are to be ordered strictly from Newegg then I guess this option is out of the question as Newegg currently does not have the Thermalright IFX-14 for sale.

Maybe we should make this the $1250 system :p 



That would make sense if you mean the 8500 and 8600, because the price difference between the 8400 and 8500 is only $10...
November 1, 2008 11:14:31 PM

spidy said:
That would make sense if you mean the 8500 and 8600, because the price difference between the 8400 and 8500 is only $10...


Its currently a $20 difference at newegg to upgrade to a E8500 from E8400.

The Coolermaster HyperTX 2 is $30 at newegg + $20 savings would give ya $50, the Thermalright IFX-14 is currently priced at $75 including shipping so this would be a net $25 increase in budget.


Here is a link for price comparison of the two CPUs:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
November 1, 2008 11:46:35 PM

Yeah, sorry, i meant $20.

Is the Thermalright IFX-14 really that much better that it's worth ordering from another site?
November 2, 2008 1:07:50 AM

That is obscenely large! i like it, but i personally don't think i will be doing that much OCing where i'll need a 3.5 POUND heatsink! it's up to Cleeve to decide if he wants it.
November 2, 2008 2:37:47 AM

Well its the best option out there without resorting to a water cooling system. It performs on par with some of the water cooling systems out there, although it is a little louder :p 
November 4, 2008 2:23:05 AM

One final update:

I upgraded to the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 CPU cooler based on Thomas Soderstrom's recommendation. It's a monster cooler and is about as good as you can get for under $40.

Also, for a $1200+ system I decided not to 'cheap out' on the mobo. I'm going back to the DFI DK X38-T2RB, as an X38 mobo has better future upgradability with two X16 GPU slots... Biostar can be good, but they can also be quirky, and at this price I didn't want to take chances.

Finally, to offset the increased cost of the mobo, I chose the Antec Neo 650w PSU, as the Corsair 750w was probably overkill anyway.

Final system cost is $1250, with a better mobo, chipset, and slightly worse PSU.

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - $190
CPU Cooler : Xigmatek HDT-S1283 - $35
XIGMATEK ACK-I7751 Retention Bracket - $7
Motherboard : DFI DK X38-T2RB - $175
RAM: PNY XLR8 2x4GB - $60
Graphics: Powercolor Radeon 4870 X2 - $529
Hard Drives: Western Digital Caviar black 640GD 32 MB cache - $85
Sound: Integrated 0
Network: Integrated Gigabit Networking 0
Case: Antec three Hundred - $55
Power: Antec Neo 650W - $90
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $24

$1250
November 4, 2008 2:28:23 AM

Buy the Antec 300 and the Antec 650w Neo for $105 bundled at Newegg!! Than you can drop the price back down to $1210!!
3rd combo from the top!!!
November 4, 2008 2:36:47 AM

I would also add 2 120mm fans to that build to help with the airflow in that Antec 300
November 4, 2008 4:15:16 AM

I just settled on my system, and it's nearly identical. i was a little concerned about airflow in the 300, and since you have a 4870x2 i might too. instead of adding more fans i went with the Antec 900, and because it didn't have a combo deal with the Neo 650, i went with one that did have a combo deal, the Antec TPQ 850. it guarentees enough (quality) power for everything for $190 instead of close enough for $105. it seems like a lot, but for the security of knowing that you have good clean power and great cooling, i found it worthwhile.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductCombos.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021&SubCategory=7&SortField=0&PageSize=10&page=1 2nd combo deal.

also, Powercolor doesn't have (or i can't find good info for) any warranty... i was gonna get their 4870 OC, but i'm sticking with sapphire because they have a clear 2 year warrenty.
November 4, 2008 4:23:01 AM

Well the Neo 650w PSU has 52A on the 12v rails, so there is clearly enough power for the 4870x2 and probably another one also, so if were trying to fit the budget of $1200 than the Antec 300/Neo650w Case/PSU combo is hard to beat.
!