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My First Build [Buying in the next few days, input needed!]

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January 24, 2009 2:51:24 AM

[I have to buy the first few components (the PSU, mobo, and GPU, I think) in the next few days to get the mail-in rebates, so any final comments about this system would be greatly appreciated!]

As I'm heading off to college next year and my current computer is an offensively slow 1.25 Ghz eMac, I've decided to finally splurge and build myself a nice new gaming and multimedia PC to last me through school (or at least the next three years) with little or no need to upgrade. However, as I've always used Macs, I have almost no clue about PCs, and while I've spent many tens of hours reading up on how to build one, I'm still looking for help.

Basic Facts
1) It will be used for fairly heavy gaming, plenty of Photoshop, and, as I will be doing a game design major, possibly everything from video encoding to 3D rendering. It will run 64-bit Vista and Ubuntu.
2) I have a budget of about $1200.
3) I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.
4) I have to buy everything for the PC itself.
5) I already have a BenQ G2400WD monitor, Logitech Z-4 Speakers, and an old Logitech keyboard.
6) I am not planning on overclocking presently, but likely will in a year or two's time.
7) I plan on building this somewhere President's Day weekend (starts February 14), ordering parts a week or so before that.
8) I need a mobo with gigabit LAN, good onboard audio, and the rest, but nothing fancy like Crossfire.


My Shopping List - All prices are taken from Newegg. Shipping works out to about $40.

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor - $189.99
GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R ATX Intel Motherboard - $119.99 ($15 Mail-in Rebate)
SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223F - $25.99
COOLER MASTER Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP Black SECC / ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $60
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $95
XFX GX260NADBF GeForce GTX 260 Black Edition Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail - $275 ($25 Rebate + Far Cry 2)
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail - $40
Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E 120mm Case Fan - Retail - $13 - If I get two to deck out the 590, will this make the case much louder, or will the ability to run the fans at a slower speed quiet it?
XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail - $30 (add $10 for the retention bracket, a bit more if Newegg doesn't get it back in stock in time).
Corsair 750TX PSU - $120 ($20 rebate) - I'm mostly getting this out of the reasoning that 750w will work for an upgrade or two.
Logitech MX518 Mouse - $40

Totals almost exactly $1200 when I buy a few bits from Amazon and count the tools, ArcticSilver, etc. I have to get. Newegg seems to have the best deals on most things (even though they charge me sales tax), so I'll mostly buy from there.


Thanks for all the help you guys have given me already!
January 24, 2009 3:56:16 AM

If you're not planning to overclock in the next year or so then drop the Xiga cooler and bracket to save $40. Downsize your power supply, since you won't be crossfiring it's overkill. The PC Power and Cooling 610w for $60 after rebate (free shipping) should be just fine. With the $80 in savings for those 2 things, add $12, upgrade your CPU from the Q6600 to the Q9550. You can always add the cooler later when you're ready to overclock and the Q9550 will give much better performance at stock clocks.....and at overclocks.
January 24, 2009 4:41:56 AM

Why not just get the Xiga now to save having to take off a cooler, clean the CPU, etc. when it comes time to OC?

Also, will the PCP&C 610w be enough to power an upgraded GPU in a few years and all that? The main reason I was looking at the 750w was so that the PSU wouldn't need an upgrade for a long while.
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January 24, 2009 6:27:34 AM

It's a minor pain to disconnect everything, remove the motherboard, add the bracket and cooler, but the added performance of the Q9550 is well worth it, especially at stock clocks. The 610w PC P & C is perfectly adequate for any single GPU available like the GTX260 216, GTX280/285, HD4870 1GB (discounting the HD4870X2 and GTX295) but if in a year or 2 you do want to upgrade to an extreme graphic card then upgrade the PSU. Don't shortchange yourself now on performance for what you might do in a year or more.
January 25, 2009 9:07:36 PM

As long as it's not bottlenecking my GPU, I think I'm fine with the Q6600. Same with the cooler and PSU - if I'll have to buy/upgrade them in a year or two's time anyway, I'll just pick them up now.

Any opinions on the GTX260 216 Black vs. the EAH4870 1GB, or whether the 750w PSU will raise power bills compared to a 610w powering the same components?
January 25, 2009 10:42:17 PM

Power supplies only supply the power that's used by the system. A 750w will often get better power numbers because you're in the more efficient part of it's rating (say 50-60%) since both the 610w and 750w are 80%+ efficient the 750w will probably use less power. As far as the GTX260/216 and the HD4870 1 GB are concerned they're a virtual tossup in terms of real world performance. Some games are better on the ATI, others on the Nvidia, a bigger concern is price/warranty/support.
January 25, 2009 11:41:34 PM

Awesome, thanks a lot. I'll try and find out the warranties on those cards. I know that the XFX GTX260 is lifetime limited, but I don't think it covers demonic possession, and that 666 Mhz clock speed has me worried!


Bad joke. Sorry.
January 26, 2009 5:39:03 AM

Overnight bump: I've decided on the XFX GTX260 Black, and have realized that rebates on my choices for GPU, PSU, and mobo expire in the next few days, so it's crunch time on finalizing this build.

If anyone has any comments at all, I'd love to hear them. Speak now, or forever hold your peace. Or mock me for screwing up my build, whichever you prefer. :D 
!