Proposed new system build - Thoughts and suggestions

Hi guys, first post and all so be gentle (gulp!)

Since I blew my last desktop up 2 years ago (long story for
another day) I have used my ex turbo ninja dell xps gen2
laptop (which has been excellent BTW), but like all things
(incl. me) its starting to get doddery and forgetful and doddery

Have been looking/waiting/pontificating for over 12 months
and nearly buying components/complete system on
numerous occasions. There are some queries I just cannot
decide and just need a gentle push out of the plane. So if
I may cut the waffle and list my (almost) decided upon
components perhaps you can assist me with your group wisdom.

Oh and the PC used for working from home
(usual Office/browsing/light photoshop) and gaming –
Mostly Medieval II Total war but poss some fancy
FPS when I have some juice again, until Total War Empires
comes out in Feb and then declare myself bankrupt
so I can live on it.

Case - Antec P190 Gaming case with 1200 watt Neo link split psu
(Sounds greedy but roomy case and PSU future proof 650w+550w split)

CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHz 12Mb cache
(Although looking at charts core 2 duo 8500/8600 seem
to still dominate on gaming although should I be looking
at Quad core for future proof)
I am also looking at an option of well priced Xeon X3350
2.66GHz complete system) Read few posts on
Q9550 v Xeon 3350 but nothing concrete about whether I
will lose performance on gaming) my head hurts!

M/board - Asus P5 Q Pro P45
If I go Xeon option then it would be Asus Rampage Extreme

Video – HIS ATI Radeon HD 4870 X 2048MB GDDR5
(Is it really much better than GF GTX 280 OC 1024MB
poss BFG)

Ram – OCZ 4GB (2x2GB) PC2-8500C5 1066MHz dual
channel platinum series
(Timings 5-5-5-18)

Seagate Barracuda Sata II 7200 rpm 500GB 32 Mb cache

CPU Cooler - Either Thermalright SI-128 or
Scythe CPU Cooler with Xeon

O/s – Vista ultimate 32 bit

Sound – Prolly the cheapest PCI-E Creative X-fi oem
(Presume onboard sound is still an unnecessary overhead on cpu)

O/clocking – Not that bothered about but not a closed door

Essentially my main areas of confusion are:

1) Quad Core Q9550 V Core 2Duo 85/8600 V Xeon 3350 2.66
2) Radeon HD 4870 x2 or GF 280 FTX 1GB OC
3) Any other comments about my possible component list

Many Thanks in advance for your advice, and I truly hope
one day to be able count the blackheads on my soldiers
faces at 1920 x 1200.
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  1. First off nice build. It's rare that somebody does a build I mostly like.

    Here are my comments.

    Case is nice. I own an Antec P190 and its nice. There are so many cases out there that it's hard to decide but the Antec is nice. The PSU sits on the bottom, and all the cables can be routed between the motherboard tray and right hand panel. Lots of cooling. And the window is short so it doesn't show the ugly hard drives and CD-ROMs sticking out. It also has ports for watercooling tubes. Many years ago I said cases should have short instead of big ugly windows to hide the hard drive, I also said they should be liquid cooling compatible, and I also said there should be better cable routing. This case solves all these problems. It's a good choice.

    The Asus board is great. For the price you can't get a better board. I have one of those boards running a 3GHz E8400 at 4.0Ghz without a hickup.

    As for the CPU. Your Quad Core is one of the newer 1333MHZ FSB CPUs so it isn't slower than the duo core. The Q6600 quad cores run a lower FSB and have less cache than the dual core 8xxx series which makes the dual core faster than that particular quad. But your quad is equivalent to the 8series duals so will be faster. Since your at the latest technology you'll be looking at pure clock speed when comparing to the duals. I'd just get a basic 3.0GHz and overclock it to 4.0GHz. Q9450 or something similar. It'll have the 1333MHZ front side bus and all the cache. To answer your question, yes the quad is better and in particular the 9xxx series to give you the latest FSB speed and more cache. The cheaper Xeons are not as fast because of lower FSB and less cache. Get a cheaper 9450 and overclock it.

    AS for the heatsink consider the Sunbeam Core Contact cooler. It has a good mounting mechanism and cools great and is quiet. Frosty Tech has it rated number one. I own one and my CPU is under 30'C idle which is rare on air cooling. And that's overclocked to 4.0GHZ from 3.0GHZ.

    Seagate is my hard drive of choice. They are the most durable and have a great warranty and RMA service. Take a look at 1000GB and 1500GB which are all very well priced. Or for great speed consider multiple 500gb drives in a raid.

    The video card is a tossup. Check the reviews on Toms and go with his advice. I own a 4870 and it's a bit buggy in some games now. But as time goes on drivers will be released to fix these problems. Overall its mostly the games that are programmed with bugs rather than the video card being the problem. You could consider a single 4870 and add a second down the road for crossfire. Or if money is no object the X2 is fine. I think ATI has the better card at the moment and the better value. Toms says it's the fastest card.

    Why 32bit windows? I am using 64bit Vista and have yet to find any programs that arn't compatible. It's not like 2 years ago...most everything now has a 64bit version and to take full advantage of the 4GB of RAM you need 64bit.

    On Board sound will be fine. I don't like the creative cards anymore cause their drivers are bad. And Creative seems to be going downhill. They no longer mage the high end gigworks speakers, they arn't aggressive enough with their mp3 players to make something wow. I see them going downhill fast. Instead consider another sound card like the Asus or something other than creative. In the meantime onboard will be fine. Your CPU is so powerful that onboard sound won't be a problem.

    Your power supply looks nice. I havn't check it out though. Just make sure it has the plugs required to run 2 video cards in Crossfire mode. Even some 1000W power supplies don't have the plugs for 2 crossfire or 2 SLi cards.

    You never mentioned anything about keyboard, mouse, monitor, or optical drives. I like the Microsoft Entertainment Desktop 8000. I don't like Logitech gear.

    If you have more questions ask away.
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