Sorry for the long post but I'm really pumped for this project..
Looking for feedback on my first PC build that will live in my “Man Cave” computer room. After lurking on this site for the past three months and reading the excellent information/advice I thought I’d finally take a shot at doing it myself. fyi - this machine will be a gaming machine but I usually run movies, browsers, MS Office and email at the same time. To make it easier I'd like to keep it Intel i7 too.
G.SKILL 3GB (3 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
WD Caviar black 640GB 32 MB Cache WD6401AALS
Cooler Master 534
Many of the components are off Proximon’s list of parts (big thanks Proximon).
I’m also going to do my first try at OCing so any suggestions on models/vendors that are easier to configure/OC would be great. Between upgrades and OC’ing I’m hoping to have a decent machine that can last 4-5 years by investing $200 or so every 6-12 months. My budget (without the 24" monitor) is around $1000-$1100 but I can probably do another $150 if I’m really off the mark in one area and if it doesn't make sense to wait until my"upgrade cycle".
My questions are on motherboards, case and power (all areas I have the least experience installing/replacing):
MB - I’m thinking either Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P or the Asus P6T Deluxe. Based on feedback it looks like Gigabyte might have better support. Both have 6 memory slots, 3 PCIe slots, crossfire ready. Newegg has an open box P6T Deluxe for $205 that is tempting me.
PSU – I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the 3rd 4870 but it’s a possibility. Would the 750W be able to handle three 4870s in x3 crossfire? I’ve tried to use the power calculators some posters have linked but I’m not confident I’m using them correctly. Would it be stupid not to spend the extra $20 for the 850w?
Case – Looks are really not a factor at all for me. I just want to make certain I have good air circulation, space and a little noise reduction. The one I picked is the cheapest case out there but highly rated. I decided to go cheap on the case so I could spend more on the mother board, CPU and GPU. Can this case handle the ventilation and space needed for two 4870s let alone three? Again, would it be stupid to go cheap on this? fyi - I've never once bought a case.
Other notes - I have a DVD drive and will buy the monitor separately (24" at 1920x1200). I also already have Vista 64 bit.
Likely upgrades over the first 2-3 years would be:
RAM to 6 GB
CPU cooling upgrade (when I start OCing)
Second 4870 – Crossfire
Second 24” Monitor
Second Hard drive
RAM upgrade to 12GB - maybe
Third 4870 – Crossfire – again maybe, maybe not
Thanks in advance for your help. I haven’t done much with hardware for a few years, but after going through the forums (on a daily basis) I’ve got the hardware itch big time! I'm hoping to order within the week (pending wife approval).
seems to be a great value since he's not going to be using SLI, nor is he going to require a huge amount of RAM.
meh. I wouldn't want to limit myself to only 4 dimms. For a 4-5 year lifespan, You would want as much upgradability options as possible to get as much life out of your system as you can. I bet he will want to get 12gb of ram eventually, like in 2 years. I would go with the mobo you have, or the Asus P6t (non-deluxe) if you want to save some cash. There really isn't much difference between the regular P6t and the Deluxe except SAS ports. And you may want to go sli/xfire later when you upgrade, so that bare minimum board wouldn't be a good option.
Also, I think the GTX 260 core 216 is a better value, so consider that. If you go with that cheaper Gigabyte board, you are writing off sli as an option which I think is unwise.
Also for your PSU, I would want an 850w, 750 might be cutting it sorta close for 2 4870's, especially if you plan to overclock, and then maybe you decide to add more Hard Drives down the road...for $20 more I would say get the 850w. 750w will limit your upgrade options IMO.
Sorry for not responding sooner but I caught a cold Friday and slept most of weekend.
Thanks for the excellent advice. I'm going to change the following:
Case - I'm going to follow Proximon's advice and get the CM 690.
PSU - I'm going to stick with a 750w but change over to the BIG RED ONE from PCP&C, that's a great price and that can help fund some of the other changes. It appears that everyone agrees that x3 crossfire/sli isn't worth it and I doubt I'll need more storage so I'm going to roll the dice and not get the 850w.
MB - I'm going to stick with the one I have from a flexibility standpoint.
GPU - Before posting I had decided to go crossfire, thinking was it would be easier to configure. Any comments on ease of SLI vs Crossfire on these two cards would be appreciated. I'm waffling on the hd4870 1GB vs the GTX260 core 216.
Sapphire HD4870 1GB
XFX GTX 260 core 216 896 mb
$245 + Free Far Cry!
Any recommendations on a good 260 core 216, I've read really good things about XFX but would consider other manufacturers.
I would just stick with the 4870's if you want to go with that PSU. Like proximon said, they are very similar cards performance wise and you can save like $80 or more going with 2 4870's and that psu. If you wanted to go the GTX 260+ route, you would probably need an 850w psu which will cost you $40-50 more and each one of those cards will cost about $20-30 more.
I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that 2x4870's scale better than 2xGtx 260+'s as well...so if money is an object to you, best route would be to stick with that psu and get 2 4870's.