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First Build - Please Critique

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January 21, 2009 10:20:23 PM

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I'm a software oriented guy with little hardware experience. My goal is a "bang for buck" PC that will render nice graphics for shooters (call of duty 4) and flightgear (open source flight sim). I'm also anticipating running various multimedia programs including photo editing, and plenty of HULU.com With the parts below I'll be dropping about $1,000 (not including monitor, keyboard and mouse). I don't plan to OC yet. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Case-> Lian Li PC-7A Plus: 110 #I like the slick look, and it is well made with a good design for cooling.

GPU-> Radeon HD 4850: 190 #runs a little hot, but so do I. . .

PSU-> PC Power and Colling S75CF Silencer 750W: 70 #is this overkill for my system?

CPU-> Intel Q6600(4core 64bit): 190 #I was stuck btw this and the 2core E8400. is the E8400 *that* much faster for 1-2 thread apps?

Mboard-> EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW: 150 #seemed most reliable low-priced motherboard with mid-range specs. I like the LED diagnostics, and the BIOS isn't problematic (a problem with Gigabyte).

HD-> WD VelociRaptor 150 GB: 180 #does a 10000 rpm HD make a difference for gaming applications, or does it just help loading large files quickly? this drive is expensive and has a higher fail rate, but the speed is seductive

Mem-> Crucial 2x2Gb DDR2-1066: 60

CD/DVDRW-> LG Black 22X (CAV) DVD+R 8X DVD+RW: 25 #i want a CD/DVDRW drive which is compatible with old and new CDs.

Total: 965
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More about : build critique

January 21, 2009 10:58:19 PM

That PSU is a bit overkill, but if you wanted to go 2x4850 in CF, then it'd do you well. What monitor are you looking at using? If it is like a 1680x1050, then a 4850 should be just fine, but maybe a 4850x2 would give you the best performance at that resolution for fast paced shooters like COD4.

Personally, I'd stick with that PSU just because it leaves good room for upgrading and is definitely a good price. I'd recommend going to 300gb for the velociraptor. You're paying like 40% more for 100% more space. Also, if you are going to go with that mobo, you may be wanting to look at an nvidia card, so you can utilize SLI if you should ever want to go that route (and with a power supply like that, it wouldn't be out of the question...). Perhaps look at a gtx 260 core 216? If you are looking at a 1920x1200 resolution monitor, it may warrant a higher end card, but for that kind of budget, I don't know if you are going that route.
January 21, 2009 11:49:56 PM

I imagined that the nForce mobo is still capable of supporting 2xRadeon cards (AKA crossfire). Is there an advantage to sticking with nvidia with this particular board?

A gtx 260 would be 70 bucks more than the hd 4850, for just a small amount of performance increase. Does this sound right?
Related resources
January 21, 2009 11:57:02 PM

The E8500 will outperform the Q6600 for photoediting and most every other tasks.

The WD cavair black drives will perform similar and are much more cost effective. See below...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

There are a few Gigabyte boards that have bios issues, however the newer versions have the updated/fixed bios. They are very stable and easy to work with.

I'd also stay away from the 1066 memory. It can be a little flaky. with your budget you may want to look at the DDR3 1333. The prices have come down and the boards are about the same as the DDR2 supported boards. Some even have support for DDR2 and DDR3.
January 22, 2009 1:58:21 AM

GIGABYTE GA-EP45T-DS3R Intel P45 looks pretty good as well, supporting up to DDR3 1900. What turned me off was reading lots of reviews mentioning troublesome blue screens of death. Now that it seems that the bios has been improved I'm considering choosing it over the EVGA nForce.
January 22, 2009 2:03:34 AM

Check out the GA-EP45-UD3P. It can handle HD 4850 Crossfire and it works with cheap DDR2-800. Since you're not overclocking you shouldn't be looking at DDR2-1066.
January 22, 2009 3:42:14 AM

aevm said:
Check out the GA-EP45-UD3P. It can handle HD 4850 Crossfire and it works with cheap DDR2-800. Since you're not overclocking you shouldn't be looking at DDR2-1066.


This is a good board, but the GIGABYTE GA-EP45C-UD3R is about $10 more and supports up to DDR3 2000. The DDR3 is more expensive, but can easily fit into your budget, and the upgraded board allows for more future improvements. A little tip about the BSOD, most of them are user error.
January 22, 2009 5:02:53 AM

What I'm saying is that board is not crossfire capable. If you are going with that big of a PSU, you should either be considering a smaller PSU or putting in a 2nd card at some point. That is a SLI mobo, so it will need an nvidia card to SLI. If you aren't planning to SLI, or get some like a 4870x2 or something that big, then a 750W is overkill IMO. Either get a board that is crossfire capable, get an nvidia card, or reduce the PSU power. That's what I meant.
January 22, 2009 5:38:41 AM

By the way I want to leave my options open as far as overclocking is concerned.

So at this point I'm stuck between GA-EP45T-DS3R (supports crossfire and 1900 DDR3) + HD 4850 (x2 eventually)

and EVGA nForce 750i SLI FTW (supports SLI and 1066 DDR2) + nvidia 9800 (x2 eventually)

the boards are priced about the same, but I would pay an extra 50 bucks for the 4Gb of 1333 DDR3 ram with the gigabyte board. does the first option look like the better one?
January 22, 2009 12:28:14 PM

I'm not sure why you're so tempted by DDR3. If it's because you're hoping to see a big speed improvement over DDR2, sorry to disappoint you but you won't. It's not guaranteed to be reusable with an x58/i7 build either - not all DDR3 models are compatible with those.

Between HD 4850 and 9800GTX+, the HD 4850 is a little faster.

Between HD 4850 CF and 9800GTX+ SLI, it totally depends on game. Some, like CoD, scale incredibly well in Crossfire. Others, like Crysis, do great in SLI.

Maybe you should Google for some reviews, see which setup would work best for your favorite games, then decide if you want a P45/Crossfire or a 750i/SLI.
January 22, 2009 8:49:23 PM

So 1066 DDR2 is flaky, and DDR3 is not worth the extra money? I looked into it, and the increase DDR3 gives in performance is not noticeable. However, I hear that as processors improve they will be able to better utilize DDR3 to it's full untapped potential.

So really I'm stuck between GA-EP45-DS3R and GA-EP45T-DS3R (almost identical: one supporting DDR2, the other DDR3). Taking mobo and mem costs into account, the DDR2 option would save me about 60 bucks. What do you guys think? If I go with DDR2, should I stick with 800Mhz?

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