1st Time DIY - Around $1000

Hi all, I'm building my first computer from scratch and was looking for some input. I've been researching and keeping up with the prices for most of October and think I've got a decent build locked down. I'd definitely like some input for anything I may have made a mistake on, and especially some input on the motherboard. My system is being made mostly for gaming and probably a bit of OCing, with ideally being able to add on another video card for crossfire to help it last me a while.

Case: NZXT Apollo
Reasoning: Cheap for high quality, and happened to already have one available to save even more.

Processor: Q9550
Reasoning: I went all out on the Processor, because I figured I'd kick myself if some games with support for more than 2 cores come out and I had the Duo.

Power Supply: Antec TPQ850
Reasoning: All the reviews I read said it had solid performance and could handle Crossfire, plus it has active PFC for energy saving.

Video Card: HIS Radeon HD4870 512MB
Reasoning: HD4870 gives awesome bang for the buck, and I've heard good things about HIS. Would add another in the future if necessary.

Hard Drive: WD 500GB 7200RPM
Reasoning: Plenty of space for me, cheap.

RAM: 4GB Patriot 1066
Reasoning: Good price, I hear Patriot is a good brand.

DVD Burner: LG
Reasoning: Tons of good reviews, LG makes all kinda of random stuff, but it's always quality in my experience.

Mobo: Last because I have options since this is where I just can't figure it out.
My original choice: DFI X38-T2R
Reasoning: Seemed quick, could OC, was cheap.

More expensive choice: DFI X48-T2RSB PLUS
Reasoning: Expensive, but I've heard conflicting reports of how much faster this mobo is.

Choice I picked up reading these forums: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P
Reasoning: Also cheap. No idea if it's faster than the X38 though.

This also gets me stuck on the Processor cooler. I've heard the standard coolers are actually pretty decent nowadays, and many 3rd party brands turn up with hardly any improvement. My decision is further hampered by the fact that the DFI mobos have large heatsinks on them and many 3rd party cooler may not fit on the mobo.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. As you can see the Processor plus the most expensive mobo is just about maxing my price limit, so any help on picking some better values, especially in regards to the motherboard is appreciated.
11 answers Last reply
More about time 1000
  1. If your monitor is 1680x1050 or less, you are probably better off with the P45 board. You can then get a good cooler and get a bit more performance with :
    4870 Toxic

    The RAM is not a great choice really. Voltage is way too high.

    Here is some further reading to help you in general on parts:

    And my specific picks, including a few good RAM choices:
  2. Upgrade the HDD to WD6400AAKS ($75) and the case to NZXT Tempest ($90). You can downsize the PSU to Silencer 750W ($110-15%) if you want.

    Either get a HD 4870 X2 and a P45 motherboard (e..g GA-EP45-UD3P), or stick with the HD 4870 and the plans to add another and get a X48 motherboard (GA-X48-DS4, P5E Deluxe X48). Don't combine P45 with HD 4870 Crossfire.

    Get a Xigmatek HDT-S1283.
  3. I'd get a 1 gig version of the 4870, I think you'll be kicking yourself more about that in the future than about the dual vs. quad. If 512 is enough for you, I'd get a 4850.

    I'd also get a faster HDD. 1 with a bigger cache, not talking a raptor. there is a HDD performance chart around here someware.
    also remember its best to go a little overboard with HDDs because you loose a little uasable space when you partition (something I strongly recomend. your data will be safe if you need to do clean sweep on the OS and it makes organization a little easier). Another reason to use oversized drives is that the faster areas fo a HDD get filled up first, so a bigger drive is faster than a smaller drive witht the same amount of data in general.

    I'd say, if you are going to Crossfire, do it quick (like in less than a year) if you waite "till I need it" there will be faster single card out that will beat the 4870 for the same price or less than the 4870 (thats was my experience). If you think it will be longer than that. just assume you wont, and get a small/cheaper PSU, and the P45

    most people will tell you that 1066 isn't worth it, because its just OC'd 800. I'm not sure myself, I just wouldn't spend too much more for it.

    I've also heard DFI has been falling out of favor these last few years. I've got no first hand experience.
  4. Thanks for the quick replies!

    Based on the replies and the very informative links from Proximon (much appreciated) I made some changes.

    Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB

    Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-X48-DS4

    RAM: Mushkin DDR2 800

    CPU Cooler: Xigmatek

    Also, I found an open box Rampage, at $205.50 but having to go buy all the cables, etc is this a better choice?

    I kept the current video card and case simply because I can't afford the upgrades without axing something. I feel good about this build, but please let me know if I'm making a mistake here.

    Also, for a similar price I can get the
    E8500 Processor
    Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P
    Visiontek HD4870 x2

    With the rest of the equipment the same, is going Dual Core with the older mobo and a HD 4870x2 going to be a faster overall computer? Thanks for answers, I seem to have created more questions for myself. :)
  5. Open box almost never works out well.

    You could get the Antec 900 case in combination with that TPQ850 for the same price, and it's a far nicer case.
  6. the dual core w/ 4870x2 will be the better gamer.

    I'd axe the cooler to get the 1 gig card. your vid card is $250, there are plenty of 1 gig versions for $300.

    as most of these card are reference cards, the name on the box doesn't matter. they are all made on the same production line. like Chevy vs. GMC.

    or, like I said get a 4850 if 512 is enough for you and save $100.
  7. E8500+GA-EP45-UD3P+HD 4870 X2 will do much better in games than Q9550+GA-X48-DS4+HD 4870 512MB. In fact, it will do better even than
    Q9550+GA-X48-DS4+two HD 4870 512MB. The only exception I can think of is Flight Simulator X where the Q9550 would really shine.

    BTW, the GA-EP45-UD3P is not older than the GA-X48-DS4. The DS4 has been around for about a year IIRC, while the UD3P is pretty recent. It's just that P45 is aimed at single-card machines and X48 at Crossfire machines.

    +1 for avoiding open box motherboards

    Yeah, the Antec 900 is far nicer than the NZXT Apollo. So is the NZXT Tempest. Either one of those would be perfect. If you prefer something without lights look at the CoolerMaster RC-690.

    If you're not interested in ever using 3 or 4 monitors then you can get the GA-EP45-UD3R instead of GA-EP45-UD3P and save $12. Even better, there's the P5Q Pro at $105 which even supports 3 or 4 monitors (that is, it has a second PCI-E slot).

    Edit: +1 for axing the Xigmatek if saving $22 helps. You can always add it later if you want to play with overclocking.
  8. +1 aevm on the HDD, avoiding the open box, etc.

    I agree - have the Antec 900 and love it. If you need even more space, check out the Antec 1200. If you want to go for budget, but similar to the 900, check out the Antec 300.
  9. Thanks much!

    Okay, this has been a very helpful process so far so thanks to everyone to the input!

    With this info, I believe my best bet at this point is to go with this.
    Mobo: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P

    Case: Antec Nine Hundred

    Processor: E8500

    Video Card: VisionTek HD 4870 x2

    Mushkin DDR2 800 RAM
    Antec 850Watt PSU
    Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB
    Xigmatek Cooler

    Plus the other changes I had previously made. Thanks so much guys, I feel like I've got my final build nailed down. How does it look in it's current state?
  10. Very nice. Don't forget the Xigmatek retention bracket and some thermal paste.
  11. The OP received quality, knowledgeable recommendations. Lucky him, a robust rig at the best price point possible.

    I always suggest an X-FI for gamers and Windows XP Pro, they will provide both the most stable and fastest gaming environment today and for years to come.
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