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Advice on Future gaming rig

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December 7, 2008 5:05:53 PM

I'm planning to put together a really good future proof beast. I'm going to be using my 32" LCD HDTV as a monitor (native resolution 1366x768). I'm just going to throw you guys my general plan of build, so any feedback would be greatly appreciated, because I'm fairly inexperienced when it comes down to this. I'm giving as much detail as I can at the moment. If you guys have better ideas then I guess this setup is subject to change. Thanks in advance.

PSU: 1,250 Watts (CoolerMaster Real Pro Power Supply) - ( Will this be enough for possible expansions in the distant future in which I have money again?)
CPU: (Quad-Core)Intel® Core? 2 Quad Q9550 @ 2.83GHz 1333FSB 12MB L2 Cache 64-bit
Cooling for CPU: Asetek Liquid CPU Cooling System
MOTHERBOARD: Asus P5N-D nForce 750i SLI Chipset LGA775 FSB1333 DDR2 Mainboard
RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) PC6400 DDR2/800 Dual Channel Memory
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX280 1GB 16X PCI Express (Eventual SLI is on my mind...very eventual)
Memory: 500GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD
Disk Drive: Sony Optiarc BR-5100S 2X Blu-Ray Player
OS: Vista Home Premium 32bit/64 bit is still up in the air, drivers and all


Thanks again for any help.
December 7, 2008 5:54:11 PM

Power supply - 1000 watts should be plenty
CPU - to be "future proof" you may want to consider going with the new Intel Core i7, X58 motherboard & DDR3 RAM
If you stick with your current plan, the processor is great but I would up your motherboard to 780i to allow faster DDR2 RAM and the future potential of 3-way SLI
You will be able to overclock the Q9550 processor well above 3.2 GHz, so I would recommend DDR2-1066 RAM rated with 5-5-15 timings.
The graphics card is the best performing single GPU on the market - you will not need SLI for some time.
I can't even decide for myself when to shift to the 64-bit OS - maybe others can help us both decide.
Frankly, the weakest point of your plan is the use of the 720p TV as your monitor. I would spend the money for a 1920 X 1200 24" 2ms monitor (now less than $350 on sale), and take full advantage of the capabilities of the 280 GPU. :sol: 
December 7, 2008 6:20:31 PM

I don't know if anything with a 755socket would be considered future proof?

Like Norks says you will have to change your plan.

I just finished putting together my new i7 system on X58 mobo and let me tell you I was blown away by how easily it OC'ed to 4.2Ghz. I'm still tweaking and installing software and probably won't play around with the bios anymore until I have transferred a good majority of my necessary applications and settings from my old rig.

To future proof you need an i7core CPU, DDR3 memory an LGA1366 mobo and all the fixings that go with that. I would also recommend Vista U 64bit. To be honest I don't like it but I will have to learn to get used to it as I'm a die hard XP user but I need full access to my 6GB of RAM and its the only OS that will give me that and guarantee future driver updates. The empire has won.
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December 7, 2008 6:25:27 PM

Yes the GTX 280 is the best "single GPU", but there are two-GPU cards that beat it: HD 4870 X2, HD 4850 X2, even 9800GX2 in some benchmarks. I'd just get one of those and a P45 motherboard and forget SLI.

Avoid CoolerMaster when it comes to PSUs. Get a more reliable product from Corsair or PC Power & Cooling. 750W should be plenty for any of those cards I mentioned.

The P5N-D is junk. Asus does make good motherboards, in general, but those based on nVidia chipsets including P5N-D are an exception.

Get a 640GB disk. Those are faster than the 500GB disks.

Get Vista 64-bit, not 32-bit.




December 7, 2008 10:04:27 PM

yeah my makeshift Monitor/Tv isn't choice for a pc but It's a big investment that I'm gonna have to live with since I go it last year for my 360 . But I'm happy with it being able to crank out 720p. Now if I can find a way to trade my TV off for the money towards a monitor, then oh you can believe I would go for it.

Ok so I shifted my brand selection on PSU, but I'm still thinking 1000+ on wattage simply for adding on in the future . I may eventually have dual SLI(or crossfire) but I haven't heard many good things(actually bad) about 3-way SLI or Crossfire, but I'm new, sorta. Those big GPUs take up some juice and two is more along with OCing stuff I want to be safe. But different, brand got it.


on the bigger mobo... the faster DDR2 ram is higher OC limit right? Sounds like a pretty good idea I think I'll be looking into that some more. I read up that DDR3 isn't THAT much faster than DDR2 so I'm kinda iffy and $$... I'm not shooting you down, just can you verify for me I'm questioning my sources now.

I can overclock that high with the 2.83 huh? Sounds like I looked the right way on that. I would consider the i7 if I had a lot more money... I just don't. Sorry I should have mentioned that earlier. But for future upgrades...
is this "X58 mobo" you guys mentioned...does it work with the processor I'm looking at now? That would be sweet.

640GB disk...is this RPM related or simply because or the space being 640 and how bytes go with adding? like 8bit, 16bit, 32bit ect. is that it? I mean if it's only a little more $$ then I can't see any problem with that.

On the OS, I guess it just depends on if I can get good drivers in 64bit, if I can then 64 it is, I just don't know yet is all.

With the GPU, I can't be sure still. Right now, GTX isn't king with other slightly older cards able to double team it and get OCed but as it gets a little older I'm thinking it will age well. I dunno, GPU choice is just as uncertain for me as the choice on 32bit or 64bit. I want it to be future proof but, there is the question... how future proof are any of them?

Any more ideas? Thanks again.

December 7, 2008 10:55:50 PM

actually now that I had a chance to look into i7s yeah that's actually looking really good as an alternative. I have questions though, should I get the 2.66 version and just OC it or go for the 2.93, I can just crank up the 2.66 right? just have a good heat sink, along with the new mobo and ddr3 (found a deal)
how much ram though. this stuff is expensive but what 64bit OS example,should i go with 3 at 1600MHz or 6 gig at 10666. Sorry if this is getting really specific. does it matter?
December 8, 2008 12:10:02 AM

If you want a good 1000W PSU look at the 1000HX for example. There was also a Silverstone 1000W at newegg for $170 last time I checked.

DDR3 is just as fast as DDR2, unless you compare overclocking DDR3 with cheap DDR2 and overclock. For example, if you get a motherboard with dual support for DDR2 and DDR3, and only change the DDR2 to DDR3, you will get no speed improvement. Still, if your budget allows you to get an X58/i7 combo, you have to get DDR3 because that's all they support.

Yes a cheaper i7 can easily be overclocked to the stock clocks of the more expensive i7 versions, or even beyond. You need a cooler, and make sure it supports LGA1366, not LGA775. The best air cooler ever invented AFAIK is the Noctua NH-U12P, and there is a LGA1366 version already:
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=35245&vpn=NH%2DU12P%20SE1366&manufacture=Noctua

X58 mobos work with i7 and with nothing else. They don't work with Q9550 or E8500 and so on. They are using a different socket, with 1366 pins instead of 775, so it's not even phsycially possible to combine an X58 with a Core 2 CPU.

640GB disks are still using 7200 rpm like the 500GB disks, but they have two very dense platters instead of 3 or 4 lower density platters. They are just a little better for finding small files, but much better when dealing with large files. Also, they are actually cheaper per GB. :) 

You need Windows 64-bit because a 32-bit version can on;ly see 4GB of RAM minus whatever is on the video cards (say, 2GB for a HD 4870 X2), minus a bit more for other devices. That is, a 32-bit system would cripple your fabulous hardware like you wouldn't believe. Don't worry about drivers. Anything that wants to be certified for Vista has to pass the same tests on both 32-bit and 64-bit. That is, Vista 32-bit is not safer than Vista 64-bit, it's the same. In fact, Vista 64-bit has more users than Vista 32-bit, which means it's better tested.

The video card(s) are totally your choice. With a X58 and a 1000W+ PSU and a large full-tower case and a lot of money, you can eventually have something like three GTX 280 cards or two HD 4870 X2 cards. Both are completely idiotic choices for playing at 1366x768. :)  A GTX 260 or HD 4870 would be plenty for that, you know...


December 8, 2008 12:26:09 AM

nebakanezar said:
actually now that I had a chance to look into i7s yeah that's actually looking really good as an alternative. I have questions though, should I get the 2.66 version and just OC it or go for the 2.93, I can just crank up the 2.66 right? just have a good heat sink, along with the new mobo and ddr3 (found a deal)
how much ram though. this stuff is expensive but what 64bit OS example,should i go with 3 at 1600MHz or 6 gig at 10666. Sorry if this is getting really specific. does it matter?



What 64-bit OS: Vista Home Premium 64bit SP1 OEM. Don't try XP 64-bit because it's not designed for gaming and doesn't even have DirectX 10.
There's also Vista Ultimate, or Business, but I think Home Premium is better for gaming. The others add features that make more sense in a LAN in a corporation, like support for an IT admin working remotely for example. Check out this page:
http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-vista/compare-editions/default.aspx

Between 3 GB of faster RAM or 6 GB of slower RAM, personally I'd pick the 6 GB. It depends. As long as 3 GB is enough, the 3 GB of faster RAM would bring you some (more or less noticeable) speed improvement over the slower RAM. As soon as you need more than 3 GB, the system with 3 GB of faster RAM would need to swap to the HDD, and that you'd definitely notice. It would mean stuttering and lower minimum fps.

If it's just for gaming, 3 GB is probably enough, but it depends on the game.
Here's an article comparing 2/4/8 GB in some games. I don't have one comparing 3/6 GB, unfortunately.
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2008/07/08/is-more-memory-better/1

December 8, 2008 12:55:39 AM

OK it appears you are going with the i7 and X58 combination - good choice for your "future-proofing" goal. I would definitely go for the 2.66GHz 920, as you will be able to overclock it substantially and the higher stock speed of the more expensive CPU would not be worth the substantially higher price.

With this system, I agree that 64-bit Vista is the way to go. Vista Home Premium should be adequate, Ultimate costs significantly more.

Without knowing your budget, it is hard to properly advise on the rest of your questions.

I would go for 6GB of RAM if you can afford it, with the i7 the performance gain would be worth it. And if you decide to go to 6GB later, with the triple channel kit you would have to ditch all of your old sticks.

If you can't afford a new monitor, I would just go for one Radeon HD4870 card. When you get a new monitor, you can think about the benefits of Crossfire via a second HD4870. If you prefer nVidia, the 260 is much cheaper than the 280, and with the X58 board you can do either SLI or Crossfire.

I also agree with aevm that the 640GB hard drive would be a good choice - this would be the best value equation. They are so cheap now you might want to consider a second one and set up RAID 0 for marginally increased performance.

BTW, 1000 watts power supply is more than enough for two-way SLI or Crossfire (850 would likely be enough), but if you ever do want to go 3 or 4 way, you will need the 1200 watt unit you were originally thinking of.
December 8, 2008 1:34:38 AM

Alright, well now that it's too late for me to realize, I'm gonna be operating on about a $2000 limit just for future reference.

I'm starting to lean toward the GTX 260 and later on going SLI and eventually maybe 3-way SLI, maybe. Lemme know what you think on that please.

This is going to be a gaming rig, with my inexperience I guess if I can, I should just grab 6 gig of DDR3 ram in the first place since i'm gonna go 64bit now.

December 8, 2008 10:35:55 PM

Wow, three GTX 260 cards... That should make even Crysis behave.

The list of recommended PSUs for that setup is here:
http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone_build_psu.html
(second dropdown).

You need a 1000W+ PSU with 6 PCI-E connectors (two 6-pin connectors per card). The Corsair HX1000 has them, for example, or the Silverstone OP1000-E.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817256043
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139007

I'd pick a full-tower case with lots and lots of fans for this setup. GTX 260 SLi with two cards is the hottest and most power-hungry combination of two cards ever invented, apart from GTX 280 SLI of course. With three cards, there's going to be a lot of heat.

December 8, 2008 11:52:27 PM

alright, so i made some changes to my lineup. let know how it looks to you guys I don't know about these brand names.


CASE: Thermaltake Spedo Full Tower 420W Case w/ Side-panel Window
CPU: Intel® Core™2 i7-920 2.66 GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366
CD: Lite-On DH-401S 4X Blu-Ray Player
FAN: CoolerMaster V8 Gaming CPU Cooling Fan
HDD: 500GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM
MOTHERBOARD: (3-Way SLI Support) EVGA X58 3X SLI Intel X58 Chipset SLI/CrossFireX Mainboard Triple-Channel DDR3/1600 SATA RAID w/ eSATA,Dual GbLAN,USB2.0,Dual IEEE1394&7.1Audio
MEMORY: 6GB (3x2GB) PC1333 DDR3 PC3 10666 Triple Channel Memory
SOUND: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
TEMP: NZXT Sentry LX Aluminum High Performance Fan Control, Clock, & Temperature Display
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX260 896MB 16X PCI Express

December 9, 2008 2:41:08 AM

IIRC a single GTX 260 needs a 525W PSU or bigger, with at least 38A combined on the 12V circuit.

That 420W that comes with your case has 18A if it's a Thermaltake Purepower and 25A if it's a Thermaltake TR2. Either way, it won't work. Sorry...

That CoolerMaster V8 does come with an i7 bracket, so it will do the job. The NH-U12P is quieter, but I guess that's irrelevant. That PC won't be quiet anyway, with three high-end video cards and the required case fans.

December 9, 2008 3:03:24 PM

Oh snap, sorry I forgot to put in a PSU on that, I thinking a 1200 watt by Corsair. I don't think the case some with a PSU, just a case, I would have to remove the 420w case for the bigger one....I can do that right?

And I don't know what your talking about with :

"38A combined on the 12V circuit."
could you explain for me, I don't even know how to google that.

i have no clue on what kind of heatsink I should get the CPU, I might be over clocking it since I keep hearing how it's basically built for it.
December 9, 2008 8:01:11 PM

Sure you can, I'm pretty sure that PSU isn't soldered to the case :)  You can also buy it without PSU, here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133072
It sounds very promising, BTW, with two 230mm fans and 3 smaller ones.

Don't worry about the 12V thing. The Corsair 1000HX is plenty for your plans. OK, if you really want lots and lots of details on the subject check this out:
http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=205763

Maybe you should just use the stock cooler for a while, and add an aftermarket cooler later when/if you are ready to overclock. In a couple of months there should be more coolers available for the new i7 platform, and more reviews about them.

December 9, 2008 11:22:57 PM

yeah, I'm gonna just sit on the stock cooler. it's not like I need to over clock the i7, it's a beast as is. That much less money to spend up front.

I think I'll put in a few more fans on the case too just to increase airflow too. More fans are more efficient at lower rpms and hopefully quieter. You think it will work, or even be worth it?
December 10, 2008 12:41:42 AM

You're starting with a single video card, right? You won't need any extra fans yet IMO. Maybe later when you do SLI.
December 10, 2008 1:25:41 AM

hmmm , makes sense to me thanks for the input once again. if you have any other ideas I'd appreciate it.

Thanks again.
December 11, 2008 1:51:17 PM

I just found out my money limit has taken a hit, so I'm gonna make a few cutbacks on the rig. I'm going to go with an eventual 2 GTX260's now so I won't need a psu that can power a small city, You guys think a 900w will get the job done?
Eventual overclocking is still a possibility though so I don't know how much more juice that might take though so any input is good right now a psu that can be ready for that.

Again much appreciated guys.
December 17, 2008 11:40:55 PM

Wow, looks good! Thanks again.
!