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$2000 i7 Build - Help!

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December 9, 2008 2:40:20 PM

I'm looking to build a 5yr system (currently using an AMD Athlon 2500 Barton, think it's time to upgrade!), and have decided to go with the i7. Wanted to run these specs by the forum to see if anyone had advice as how to improve my current choices.

My budget is around $2000, with the rig used primarily for gaming / storage of digital movies. Will plan to overclock conservatively - not at first when I build my rig but a bit later as the extra clock speeds will help as my system gets more outdated. I currently use a 27" Dell monitor at 1920x1050 resolution.

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
$299.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO: ASUS P6T Deluxe/OC Palm LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
$338.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: Not sure whether to get the Palm or regular P6T. I wouldn't mind having to pay a little extra for the option to see the weather on a nifty computer screen.

COOLING: No clue what to do here - any suggestions? I was planning on leaving my stock fan on until more LGA1366 brackets/fans came on the market... as I mentioned previously, overclocking right out of the box is not the most important thing for me as the chip should tear apart anything it gets with its stock rating.

PSU: SILVERSTONE OP1000-E 1000W
$169.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: Either this or the Corsair 1000HX or Antec TPQ-1000 - all seem to be similar quality but Silverstone is the cheapest.

GPU: SAPPHIRE 100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2)
$479.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: May want to add another 4870 X2 in the future in CrossFire, as I'm running (relatively) high resolutions. What are people's thoughts on triple SLI vs. this option?

HDD: Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000GLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$199.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
+
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$129.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: I'm not too concerned about having my HDDs in RAID 0, as the marginal performance increase is not worth the increased risk of data loss. I'm not sure though if the WD Caviar Black is the best value for the storage drive though, does anyone have any suggestions?

MEMORY: G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
$239.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: It's rated at 8-8-8-21 at 1.65V - seems to be the best performance out of all the 6GB DDR3 1600 kits out there.

CASE: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
$189.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OPTICAL: Using my old DVD drive

O/S: Windows Vista Home Ultimate

Please tear apart my build - even if they are nitpicking / small suggestions. Also, can anyone comment whether component prices come down after Christmas? I don't mind waiting until Jan. to build this rig if it means saving $200+.

Thanks!

More about : 2000 build

December 9, 2008 2:49:45 PM

The build looks great! I did have a couple questions/suggestions though.

There's no such thing as "Windows Vista Home Ultimate". Did you mean Home Premium or Ultimate? I would suggest this version:

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit English for System Builders 1pk DSP OEI DVD - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99.99

Is your old DVD drive SATA? If it's not, I'd get a new one since the price is a drop in the bucket at this price point and I don't see why you'd want an IDE cable in a new build.

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 22X DVD-R 16X DVD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $28.99
December 9, 2008 2:54:54 PM

I would swap out to this G skill ram
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Its a bit cheaper and allows you to get away with the slower speed because your not going to do heavy overclocking. I also get worried that the G skill set you posted is rated at 1.65volts which is the redline for the i7.

Are u stuck on getting a full tower?
If so this one Has better airflow for it:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I also don't think you need the palm version of the asus p6t. Just get the normal version and save yourself a few bucks.

If you don't plan on crossfiring your gpus, then your psu is overkill. This is a lot more resonable PSU for your rig.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Your right about cooling. There really isn't much out there other than ones that you can buy a bracket to match up with (example TRUE). Might want to wait till later on when some better ones come out for this item.
Related resources
December 9, 2008 3:04:59 PM

Why not build a system around a Q9550? CPU price is about the same, and you can OC to 3.5 Ghz which would outdo your 920 if you're not going to OC it. You'd want to get a good cooler, like the S1283.

A good MOBO would be around $120 (Asus P5Q Pro), saving you $220.

You'd have to get 4GB of RAM instead of 6GB, but since a 4GB kit is like $25 right now it saves you another $215.

Keep the vid card, and the HDDs look fine. I've seen 1TB drives go on sale for right at or just over $100, though, so keep an eye out for that.

Saves you enough money for a second vid card now, or for another couple of TBs for storage, or money in your pocket. It's still expandable for gaming (a second vid card) or for more movie storage space (HDDs), more memory (should you have a 64 bit OS), whatever you need.
December 9, 2008 3:11:52 PM

Thanks for the suggestions guys.

@Kubes: I'm probably going to try to overclock the i7 to 3.0-3.2gHz once the better fans come out, so I think sticking with the DDR3 1600 might be the safer bet. Also, if I add another 4870 x2 i the future I'd need the 1000W PSU.

Would you suggest this other GSkill set?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The timings are 9-9-9-24 but voltage is lower - 1.5-1.6V. I've heard that since the memory die is on the CPU instead of the bridge that we should stick with lower voltage memory... but I wasn't sure if that still is an issue? Many people say that 1.6-1.65V should be fine but I'd rather be slightly under the redline if I want this build to last for 5 years.

What are your thoughts on alternatives to a full tower? I don't really like the way that Antec looks, and fan noise is a consideration in my mind as well (want to try to avoid the mesh cases).
December 9, 2008 3:13:02 PM

@ p3matty
well if your going to OC why not OC the i7? I think you missed the point that he doesn't want to OC his rig as of now.

another thing to note is that in general the p45 can handle crossfire setups just fine. I think you'd be pushing the p45 to its limits and maybe even over if your dealing with 4870x2s. At that point then i would recommend getting an x48 board which would run around the same price as the x58 boards. I think by going this route your tredding into dangerous waters.

If someone is spending more than $1200 they should consider an I7 setup.
December 9, 2008 3:16:20 PM

@p3matty: I definitely thought about the Q9550, but in case I want to upgrade my system in a couple years when the new i7 Westmere 32nms come out, I'd need an LGA1366 board. I see your point though, but I think for CPU upgradability it'd make more sense to start off with the X58 boards.
December 9, 2008 3:21:29 PM

Sam,

Your probally safe getting either set of GSkill ram knowing some more details on what you plan on doing. I don't think either of them would be a bad choice at this point.

The coolmaster case is also probally a good case for your needs then if noise is more important than airflow.
This case isn't on sale currently from antec but this is a mid tower that I currently use and has been really good to me:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I'd stick with the coolmaster though compairing the prices however.

What about your monitor? What's the size and resolution of it?

Other than that you look like you have done your homework and have a pretty nice setup.
December 9, 2008 3:24:02 PM

Noctua gives free 1366 brackets with their coolers. Check out www.moddersmart.com for some nice Noctua coolers. I like the RAM in your original post. 1.65v should be fine and will allow you to overclock the 920 to the max. I've seen 920's do 4.2GHz with a Noctua cooler and 1600MHz RAM. If anything, I'd spend $10 more and get this version of that G.Skill RAM.

G.SKILL PI Black 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $249

It's the same RAM as in your original post, but with better heat spreaders. The kit you posted above for $215 looks like a nice kit also. I don't think you'll go wrong with any of those kits.
December 9, 2008 3:27:17 PM

Thanks Kubes. I use a 27" Dell, but the max resolution is 1920x1200 - am kind of kicking myself for not getting the 30" 2550x16xx resolution, but this one was on sale for $600 so I jumped. I think the 4870 X2 should work for these resolutions, not sure even if I need to Crossfire them given my limited resolution - in 2 or 3 years it'd probably make sense to get the newest GPU.
December 9, 2008 3:48:06 PM

sam5304 said:

COOLING: No clue what to do here - any suggestions? I was planning on leaving my stock fan on until more LGA1366 brackets/fans came on the market... as I mentioned previously, overclocking right out of the box is not the most important thing for me as the chip should tear apart anything it gets with its stock rating.

The Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme 1366 RT CPU Cooler for $59.99
http://www.heatsinkfactory.com/thermalright-ultra-120-e...


PSU: SILVERSTONE OP1000-E 1000W
$169.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: Either this or the Corsair 1000HX or Antec TPQ-1000 - all seem to be similar quality but Silverstone is the cheapest. said:

PSU: SILVERSTONE OP1000-E 1000W
$169.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comment: Either this or the Corsair 1000HX or Antec TPQ-1000 - all seem to be similar quality but Silverstone is the cheapest.

The Corsair CMPSU-1000HX ATX12V &EPS12V Power Supply - CMPSU-1000HX is on sale right now at Buy.com for $174.99 with free shipping, but ends in next few days.
http://www.buy.com/prod/corsair-1000-watt-hx-series-12v...

CASE: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
$189.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [... said:
6811119138 ]CASE: COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
$189.99; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811119138

This case is just as good as what you picked but is $0 cheaper, has good air flow and if you need to change out or add HSF after motherboard is in, it has cutout underneath it so you can without taking board out. Check out the COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $159.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hope this helped you out some.



December 9, 2008 5:22:05 PM

Thanks for your suggestions.

@ Yootsy - that PSU is an awesome deal, too bad I gotta pay tax in NY ($18!!). The modular cables and higher JohnnyGuru ratings are worth it though. Regarding the case - air flow is a secondary concern to me but still important - do you think that the case I had picked will have a dramatic difference on overclocking performance? I noticed your case has much larger fans than mine. One thing that I'm averse to is the LED fan on the front which you can't seem to turn off, unless you replace it. Not a big fan of LEDs in computers.
December 9, 2008 5:55:19 PM

I just finished putting together my new i7 build with 920 this past weekend.

I went with the EVGA X58 3SLI board
the Corsair dominator 12800 6GB kit
1 Voliciraptor to add to my older 150GB Raptor
2 1T Seagate Barracuda's
cooling I have the Vigor Monsoon III LT dual 120mm fan
Samsung 22x burner
and the Lian Li P80 Case.

So far my favorite options have been the Lian Li case, wow, its awesome. If you can find it on sale thats the case to get. That 920 chip on that board overclocks like you wouldn't believe. It hit 4.2Ghz almost right out of the box with some quick tweaking.

I say go i7 and don't look back.

I'm still shopping for Ultra high end video. Its currently running on one of my 8800GTX's from my old computer's SLI pair. Even with one old card it hits over 14,000 on 3dmark06.

I'm not crazy about Nvidias 280GTX's and I really don't like 4870X2's...., so I'm hoping someone will release something better....
December 9, 2008 6:11:46 PM

sam5304 said:

Please tear apart my build - even if they are nitpicking / small suggestions. Also, can anyone comment whether component prices come down after Christmas? I don't mind waiting until Jan. to build this rig if it means saving $200+.

Thanks!


Personally, I would wait to build a Core i7 system until the beginning of next year. If you can wait a month, the new AMD CPUs will be coming out around this time. I've only seen some preliminary benchmarks on their server chips, which seem good. But even if you don't care for AMD chips, it will likely drive the i7 cost down somewhat, due to their value-oriented pricing in the mainstream-moderate performance category, which the 920 falls into.

Additionally, the Core i7 is less than a month old, which means you're still going to be paying for the whole new techology premium at this time. Considering you're planning a $2k build, though, you sound like the kind of person who doesn't mind laying down some coin to get what he wants when he wants it, but I just thought I'd share my input. I did this once when I put together 2 machines (one for the wife) at $2500 each when SLI was brand new and I just "had to have it". About 6 months later I could have put together the same thing for about half the price. Since then I've decided I'd be much better off staying in the $1000-1200 range and upgrading every year or two as the chips with the next significant leap in performance fall into this price range.

I don't foresee a $200 savings come January, though, unless AMD blasts onto the scene with another super product, as they did with the HD 4000 series GPUs. If this were the case, both Intel and the far-overpriced X58 mobo manufacturers may have to bring down their price to compete.

As for the Cosmos case: it's a great case--very spacious and runs very quiet. If you don't mind the price tag on it, I would recommend it. I don't recommend skimping on the case, though. It is something that will generally last you through >1 build so go for quality, within reason, of course, if you've got the cash.
December 9, 2008 6:16:42 PM

@warezme, that P80 definitely seems sweet, but at $350 is out of budget for most. Out of curiosity - how much did you pay for it and how low have you seen that thing go for?
December 9, 2008 6:38:36 PM

Ya ditch the old DVD drive, old parts curse new builds. Get a Mainboard with the "Certified for Windows Vista" seal on it if you want your drivers to work with Vista.
December 9, 2008 6:40:16 PM

sam5304 said:
@warezme, that P80 definitely seems sweet, but at $350 is out of budget for most. Out of curiosity - how much did you pay for it and how low have you seen that thing go for?


It was like $299 when I bought it and I realy liked the design. I don't know how high they go but compared to the one case I was looking at originally, can't remember the name of it now, very expensive around $600 with the same fan configuration but separate cooling zones I thought it was a bargain.

The P80 is made extremely well, smooth door, lots of room, great cooling, a breeze to work with with large coolers like you and I need.
December 9, 2008 6:58:39 PM

I got a i7 920, and I got it running 3.6 on the stock cooler. No problems at all.

I used the same case you picked and I really like it.

You may ant to consider raid 0 for os and apps because you will notice the only time your PC isnt instant the HDD light will be blinking.

I chose 4x 30G OCZ SSD drives in raid 0 for OS and apps, I get 507MB/s average reads. This baby is 100% point and click now. 18 sec cold boots to usable OS.

You wont get the full potential of i7 without fast HDDs.
December 10, 2008 12:19:41 PM

People always miss two things when building a good computer imo. A) the quality of the PSU, and B) a good case. A case can bring tempatures down 10+ degrees cel. It may not bring it down that much compairing it to the cool master case you have selected, but I have not found to date a better case designed for maxium airflow at a resonable price(<$200) than the antec 1200/900.

cerulean is right on when saying try not to skim on the price of your case. Most people that are on real tight budgets target the case to being the first thing they skim on, and then wonder why heat has destoryed rig in under a year; even if they have some great heatsinks inside. If you do not have good airflow through the case it can be dangerous.

I still don't think it matters weither you go with the coolmaster or the antec 1200 however. Both are up there in quality and realiblity. So if your not crazy about the leds, go with the cool master. That or be willing to swap the fans out when you get the case.


@roadrunner:
That is impressive. I am still waiting for those darn ssd's to come down a few bucks to have a simlar setup.
!