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First Home Build - All Advice Welcome

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December 20, 2008 8:48:36 PM


I think I'm ready to try my hand at a home build and would like some feedback on the components I've selected. Thanks in advance for your time.

NZXT Guardian 921 CS-NT-GD921-B Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #:CS-NT-GD921-B

PC Power & Cooling S61EPS 610W Continuous @ 40°C EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
Model #:S61EPS

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Model #:GA-EP45-UD3R

Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale 3.16GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8500 - Retail
Model #:BX80570E8500

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5D - Retail
Model #:TWIN2X4096-8500C5D

EVGA 896-P3-1265-AR GeForce GTX 260 Gore 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Model #:896-P3-1265-AR

Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Model #:WD5001AALS OR Seagate Barracuda ES.2 ST3500320NS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM Model #:ST3500320NS

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model GH22LS30 - OEM
Model #:GH22LS30

Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit English - OEM


I am primarily going to use this sytem for internet access and mmo gaming (Age of Conan) I have no budget constraints but I try to avoid buying things that I don't need hence the 2 core processor. I'm wide open on video cards....if there is one someone thinks will perform better please advise.

Thanks again for taking the time to review this build.



More about : home build advice

December 20, 2008 9:02:56 PM

Quit letting everyone make you believe that a dual core is so much better for gaming than a quad core. You might see a few frames per second difference, depending on frequency. But it's no comparison for mutli core games. (Which you'll start to find everywhere).

Everything else looks good.
December 20, 2008 9:21:00 PM

I think duals are the more cost effective for gaming, as well as having lower power consumption, and i wouldn't say that you'll start to find milti-core games. If you check the benches, even crysis doesnt really use quads, it would be the clock speeds that make the difference. Now i would probably get a quad if i was considering multi-gpu setups, but for a single gpu, duals have much better value. Stick with the E8500 buddy.
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December 20, 2008 9:23:25 PM

Your build is just fine the way it is, as it looks like you've done your homework, balanced everything carefully and determined that a dual core suits your needs best. By the looks of it, you will be overclocking high, so that is just fine.

You will also need a CPU heatsink for overclocking--use the Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with corresponding backplate (Xigmatek's own or Thermalright's LGA 775 Bolt Thru kit). And you will need some Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste to install the cooler as well.

My only suggestion is that you use the 640 GB version of the Caviar Black instead of the 500 GB. It costs only $15 more and would be a little faster because of the 640's higher platter density.

The GTX 260 Core 216 is perfectly matched for a 24" monitor at 1920 x 1200 (you didn't say what resolution you will be gaming at). Since your mobo only supports one video card, this is perfect. Good to have that lifetime warranty from EVGA too.
December 20, 2008 9:25:33 PM

Ok then....Quad Core. Which one, and will I need to select a different MB? And what about cooling? Is the set up provided with the CPU sufficent? I really am a novice at this. I've always just ordered my computers thru HP ready to plug in. I've upgraded ram/psu/gpu but never anything as ambitious as this.
December 20, 2008 9:29:55 PM

curnel_D said:
Quit letting everyone make you believe that a dual core is so much better for gaming than a quad core. You might see a few frames per second difference, depending on frequency.


Good point.

I just built my new rig a few weeks ago (30% off eBay deal) and it was between an e8400 or Q8200 (yes, the one with only the 7x multiplier). BUT, I only build a new PC every two years and I multitask a lot. So I ended up pairing the Q8200 (w/ XigmaTek s1283) with a UD3P, which like your UD3R is known for pushing the FSB's.

I was too lazy to even read how to exactly tweak the UD3P, so I just posted on a Gigabyte forum and a Mod looked over my parts list and gave me the correct values for a basic overclock and BINGO...I'm sitting at 475 x 7 (3.325ghz) with idle at 35c and a two hours 100% load at 55c. This was with no tweaking on my part and the "crappiest" quad for overclocking. I'm sure with a little more tweaking it could hit 3.5ghz easy (not to mention lapping the HSF or using fresh thermal paste- mine was sitting in my fridge for two years).

So if you overclock, it comes down to a 3.3ghz+ quad or a 3.8-4.0ghz dual.
December 20, 2008 9:31:33 PM

Thanks for the input guys. I don't know the first thing about overclocking (yet) I had planned on using my existing monitor which is a HPf1903. But I could be easily swayed to upgrade ;) 
December 20, 2008 9:36:08 PM

Alot of people dual box on mmos, and if you do a quad would be better, otherwise consider the e8400 and OC past the e8500 and save some $$$
December 20, 2008 9:39:31 PM

Akebono 98 said:
The GTX 260 Core 216 is perfectly matched for a 24" monitor at 1920 x 1200 (you didn't say what resolution you will be gaming at). Since your mobo only supports one video card, this is perfect. Good to have that lifetime warranty from EVGA too.


I personally think the 4870 1gb and gtx260 core 216 are perfect for 1680x1050 resolution as they're fast enough to max most games at that res with little to no lag. My cousin just got a Core 216 and I picked up his 9800gtx (we both use 22" LCD's) and with newer games like CoD:World at War, FarCry2 and Crysis/Warhead the 9800gtx can't max them out...but the Core 216 will come close and is much smoother. At 1900x1200 I wouldn't want less than a gtx280, 4870x2 or a dual card setup.
December 20, 2008 10:06:18 PM

If you want to look at quads, look at the Q9400 for a reasonable price vs. performance balance--it has an 8 multiplier and R0 stepping. The Q9550 is 0.5 more multiplier but not a big difference in reality, for the added price. Others will probably suggest Q6600 at 9 multiplier and G0 stepping (but 65 nm so it runs hotter).

Your UD3R mobo will work with these quads.
December 20, 2008 10:08:39 PM

I'm not a "hard core" gamer. In fact eq2 and Age of Conan are really the only games I play. My goal is to build a stable, reliable system that will improve my framerates, stay cool and quiet, and have some upgradeability in the future. My biggest fear is making sure all these shiney things fit together properly and that I will know how to program the BIOS to make my creation come to life.
December 20, 2008 10:59:19 PM

Another question about OS. I have never used Vista but I have read many conflicting reviews. XP has been fantastic for over 4 yrs in my recently desceased Pavillion (rip old friend). Is there any reason for me not to stay with XP?
December 20, 2008 11:35:14 PM

There are a few good reasons to upgrade to Vista. The most important one IMO is that a 32-bit OS can't fully utilize 4GB of RAM. You picked 4GB of RAM, so if you stick with XP you'll only be able to use just over 3GB and won't even have the option of adding more RAM later on. I use 64-bit Vista and can tell you it's a very fast, stable OS now. The only BSOD i've ever seen was caused by pushing an overclock too far.

64-bit Vista only costs $100 and is well worth it IMO.

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

I'm also guessing the HP just came with XP pre-installed on it. You won't be able to re-use that OS anyway if that's the case.
December 20, 2008 11:46:57 PM

Cindy67 said:
Another question about OS. I have never used Vista but I have read many conflicting reviews. XP has been fantastic for over 4 yrs in my recently desceased Pavillion (rip old friend). Is there any reason for me not to stay with XP?


I too am an XP veteran.

BUT, I bought 8gb of Crucial Ballistix 4-4-4-12 from Fry's on Black Friday ($20 / 4gb after rebate) so I pretty much had to upgrade to a 64-bit OS. I have to say I still prefer XP Pro, but with a few hours reading online and tweaking, Vista is okay. I just wish it had something like an "expert" mode that would turn off all the frivolous crap and give an XP like interface...
December 21, 2008 12:42:52 AM

Looking at your original criteria and needs mentioned in this thread, it sounds like you personally would be happier staying with XP for now.

Despite what people will say, go and try it out on a friend's computer first before you buy. If you don't like the interface, then you will be peeved for a long time... After you build, day-to-day interaction supersedes the technical details, IMHO.

This coming from another XP stalwart that is "in denial"... :pt1cable: 
December 21, 2008 1:04:27 AM

Very valuable advice, thank you! Now if I could just get rid of the butterflies I get everytime I think of trying to do this all by myself. Any links to help walk me thru the process would be greatly appreciated. I'm trying not to talk myself out of this, I've been wanting to try it for years. I priced a similar build in an HP Blackbird and it was over 2x the cost. That in itself should be incentive enough I suppose.
December 21, 2008 1:15:02 AM

Oh....something I forgot to ask about XP/Vista Is dx10 only available with Vista?
December 21, 2008 1:38:13 AM

Yes regarding DX 10.

And don't sweat it--it is easy. What you really need is a print version of a guide that you would keep next to your work table as you build, to make your life easier. See if you can find a copy of Maximum PC's Ultimate Guide to PC Hardware *with the DIY article* at a newsstand. It has colour pictures and describes the steps very succinctly--you could do much worse than follow that guide. You'll also need to constantly refer to your mobo manual for the technical nitty-gritty.

One thing you should do as a precautionary troubleshoot as you're building is to just connect up the mobo, CPU (with heatsink & fan), RAM, video card, power supply, monitor and keyboard first and see if it will POST. I.e. no drives or expansion cards. That way you can confirm that those pieces work before you connect the rest.

By DIY, you could get your dream system for the price of that Blackbird...

Good luck!
December 21, 2008 6:07:18 PM

Perfect!! Thanks so much. One more question.......when it comes to PSU's is modular a better way to go for keeping un-needed connectors out of the way? The look pretty slick but are there downsides?
December 21, 2008 11:37:21 PM

Sure modular looks nicer, but if you follow the gospel of PC P&C, then there is an extra potential failure point in the modular joint. I've always been a fan of PC P&C and their non-modular approach, so there's my bias showing through. I'm also a purist when it comes to hardware.

I myself use the Silencer 610 in a CM-690 case and just zip tie the excess at the bottom of the case. My case is pretty roomy so it all fits well and does not interfere with airflow at the bottom & side. I also don't have a clear side panel, so it doesn't matter. I see that you have a clear side panel with PSU on the top of the case, so you might want a cleaner look (though the part of the panel covering the PSU is not transparent--maybe they did that for a reason).

Remember, though, that a PSU is the backbone of your PC and it is best to get a very high quality model that will go the distance with no problems. Just count up how many amps your system draws off the PSU and maybe that is enough to sway you towards the quality argument. As long as you don't exceed its power requirements, you will most likely carry a PSU through more than one build. In my view, modularity is really for looks and that's not a good consideration for such an important component. Get a colourful mobo if you want to show off... :D 

The more important issue to me for PSUs is to actually stay with a single 12V power rail (which you already have) to avoid hassles--unless you're an Electrical Engineer!
!