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core i7 top of the line build or phenom x4

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November 30, 2008 8:43:49 PM

Ok I am getting the opportunity to build my brother a really nice machine (hes a gamer) for christmas. When I first started speccing the machine I was going with a core 2 quad 2.83 ghz machine with a single GTX 280 and 8 gigs of ddr 3. However, now with the i7s out I have shifted to an i7 build with 12 gigs of ddr3 (CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)) and again a single gtx 280. The total build cost is about 2100. However, I have also thought about just building him a midrange system using an amd phenom x4 with 2 4870s for about 1700.


Here are the two systems -

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 $294.99

2x CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C9 $298.00 -$30.00 Instant $536.00

Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case $214.99 -$35.00 Instant $179.99


EVGA 132-BL-E758-A1 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard $299.99

1xEVGA 01G-P3-1282-AR GeForce GTX 280 SuperClocked Edition 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card $459.99 -$25.00 Instant $434.99

ABS Tagan BZ Series BZ900 900W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Patent Piperock Modular Power Supply $269.99 -$120.00 Instant $149.99

1x Seagate SV35.3 ST3500320SV 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $79.99

2x LITE-ON 20X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model iHAS120-08 $25.99 ($51.98)
Subtotal: $2,137.38 (i removed various parts from the list like OS, wifi card, etc...)

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1 AMD Phenom 9950 2.6GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Black Edition Processor Model HD995ZXAGHBOX $169.99 $169.99

2 CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5DF $119.00 -$10.00 Instant $218.00

1 ABS Tagan BZ Series BZ900 900W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Patent Piperock Modular Power Supply $269.99 -$120.00 Instant $149.99

1 Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case $214.99 -$35.00 Instant $179.99


1 Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $119.99 $119.99

1 ASUS M3A79-T Deluxe AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard $188.99 $188.99

2 SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card $289.99 -$25.00 Instant $529.98

2 LITE-ON 22X DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model iHAS422-08 $29.99 $59.98

1 ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 120mm 2-ball UFO Bearing / Transparent CPU Cooler $59.99 -$10.00 Instant $49.99

Subtotal: $1,776.36 (i removed various parts from the list like OS, wifi card, etc...)


so what do you guys think? I really want a machine I can upgrade 1-2 years down the road without having to replace a bunch of components (mobo mainly).
November 30, 2008 9:02:40 PM

Go either i7 or core2quads. The AMD Phenoms will bottleneck the two 4870s. Also, why not get a 4870x2 instead of the GTX280 for the i7 build? Here's a good 4870x2 that costs about the same as your GTX280. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If the 4870x2s are too expensive, you can always go 4850x2s. Both will perform better than the GTX280, especially when paired up with an i7 processor.
November 30, 2008 9:08:33 PM

Don't forget that SLI scales perfectly with X58 due to not having to rely on Nforce chipset anymore, so you might see better performance if you go with two GTX260 Core 216's instead of a single GTX280 or HD4870x2.
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November 30, 2008 9:42:49 PM

Well my phenom 9950 is oced to 2.85 right now and it runs great. All my games are maxed.

Dead Space, RA3, Cyrsis warhead(only at high not max) Mass Effect, AC, UT3, Grid, and Left 4 dead. At res. 1920x1080p Max AA and max AF

All of this is with 4 gb of g skill DDR2 800 RAm ( Im soon getting DDR2 1066 Ram.) and a 4870 512mb.

I'm about to Intall Fry Cry 2 so that will be fun.


Also Dont leave out the phenoms... just because the core 2 duos kicked its butt. Its a good chip that can only get better.

But because you are building a system for christmas I would say get an i7 system just because the phenom IIs are not out till after the new year.

November 30, 2008 10:05:48 PM

I prefer the ATI cards for several reasons (some of nVidia's business practices, can get a cheaper non-SLI-patched X58, DX 10.1 that we're going to be seeing more of before Windows7/DX11 = better for the long term).

Grab a 1000W Antec Quattro or Corsair PSU so you can run two down the road (or right away if you want to buy them both now). What size monitor btw?

You can also consider only getting 6GB of ram now and adding more later as I imagine DDR3 prices will be the fastest to drop of the new i7/X58/DDR3 items.

I'll throw the new Coolermaster 932 HAF case in there for consideration if you're going with a full tower case. It's got a good price and tons of airflow if you guys decide to try a little overclocking - which you should! And in the case, grab a direct contact heatsink: Xigmatek, OCZ Vendetta 2, Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer.

Also, I'd switch up the HDD for a Western Digital 640GB. Very fast drive and quiet, check out some reviews it's a home run.

Good luck!
November 30, 2008 10:08:19 PM

You just CANT compare a Core i7 and a Phenom. It's like comparing an old Pentium D with a Core2Duo...
November 30, 2008 10:09:29 PM

I like the i7 build as a no compromise PC.
I think 12gb is unnecessary for a gamer. 6gb is just about right. You can always add more later.
Use the savings to get a 300gb velociraptor for the main hard drive. If that is not enough, then add a slower drive for overflow and backup.
The Antec 1200 is a great case. It is much bigger than what you need to hold your parts, though.

To save a bit, you could look at the PC P&C 750w unit $80:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Add a good cooler, it is the key to an easy overclock.
!