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Advice on building a gaming rig

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January 28, 2009 6:01:51 AM

Hi, I'm building a computer for gaming (TF2, Fallout3, + other new games) and to use as a media server.

It's been about 5 years since I last put together a computer, so I'm pretty much a noob again. I don't plan on doing any overclocking unless it's going to be very easy and safe. I have a pretty large budget over 2000$, but I'd prefer to keep things around 1800$ excluding the monitor, speakers, and case. No SLI or other fripperies.

Here's what I got so far:
-CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Yorkfield 2.83GHz 12MB L2 Cache LGA 775 95W Quad-Core (282.99)
-Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard (134.99)
-Video card: EVGA 01G-P3-1280-AR GeForce GTX 280 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready (324.99)
-PSU: PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified (129.99)
-Memory: 12gb of ram - 3X G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory (3X 39.99=119.97)
-Optical drive: G Black 6X Blu-ray DVD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD (119.99)
-Hard drives: 6X SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (6X 94.99=569.94)
-Sound card: Creative Sound Blaster SB0570 Audigy SE 7.1 Channels 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card (29.99)
-CPU cooling: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler (36.99)
-Thermal paste: Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound (5.99)
Total Cost (including a couple extra cables+keyboard/mouse[~$45]): $1803.36

So I'm just looking for general advice on this build and if there are ways to improve it, or if there are any glaring incompatibilities I'm not seeing. Like I don't know much about cooling or if I need more than the case fans and CPU cooling.

I also have a couple questions:
6X1tb drives RAID 10 like I have above or is it worth it to get rid of 4 of those 1tb drives and get 2 300gb 10,000rpm raptors instead (costs about $80 more)? I surely don't need 6tb of space at the moment, but who knows how fast I could build an HD video library...

Where should I buy a monitor? I'm looking for a good 22-24" monitor, around 325$ or so that would be good for gaming. I'm sort of frightening of newegg's return policy (defective monitors must have more than 6 dead pixels).

And I can't decide between these two cases:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thank-you.

More about : advice building gaming rig

January 28, 2009 6:18:32 AM

Get the CoolerMaster Cosmos case.

It would be a shame to not get an i7 on a $2000 budget.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

With this memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would go with 2 velociraptors instead and then 4 1tb drives for storage, the velociraptors in raid 0 will cut your read/write times in half.

Go for the Xigmatek HDT S1283 cooler, much better than the freezer 7 pro and about the same price. You can buy a mounting bracket for LGA 1366 separately I believe (someone correct me if I'm wrong here). Or just use that cooler with the setup you have already selected.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you don't mind a red PSU, newegg has the same one you picked out for $109, $70 after MIR.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 28, 2009 7:50:16 AM

Wow, very helpful. Thank you.

The reason I hadn't picked out an i7 was because I don't know how to overclock (i was told they're great for that), but if you think I could learn easily, then I don't see a problem getting one. Is that the best mobo to get with it, what about saving 100$ and getting this board:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Is this the sort of mounting bracket you're thinking of?
http://www.newegg.com/product/product.aspx?item=N82E168...

I know RAID 0 on the raptors would be fastest, but I was hoping to have everything mirrored. I guess only the OS, apps, and games would be kept on the raptors and wouldn't be too big a deal if lost. Can the motherboard's RAID controller do a RAID 0 on the raptors and a RAID 1 or 10 on the 1tb drives?

Nice find, I don't mind a red power supply at all.

edit: I'm up to $2100 with the changes.
Related resources
January 28, 2009 12:08:19 PM

Hmm here is my input

1. Ditch any thoughts of RAID - unfamiliar users risk losing huge amounts of crucial data just get a fast 500-640GB hdd and call it a day

2. Some curious decisions - mobo has 4 DIMM slots but u picked out effectively 6 x 2GB RAM which would populate 6 DIMM in theory

3. All that $$ w/o an LCD/OS etc?

4. Read HD4870x2 vs GTX 280 (ditch the CrossfireX vs Sli benches)
http://www.driverheaven.net/reviews.php?reviewid=607&pa...

5. Read non TRI SLI Phenom 2 benches
http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-phenom-ii-x4-920-and-...

6. Suggested configuration inclusive of 24" and OS



7. Hoped i helped - cheers
January 28, 2009 12:14:59 PM

I believe with that budget that I would go ahead an go i7 - you can have a great rig for well under your budget (not including monitor, keyboard, mouse).

January 28, 2009 12:26:27 PM

+1 for the i7 build. The motherboard/CPU combo xthekidx linked to is also the one I would suggest.
January 28, 2009 12:43:36 PM

Just as a note, I would pick up the western digital black 1tb (higher speed and better performance) as you are making this a media server. 6 terabytes is impressive if you really need all of that now, otherwise get a smaller number of them and just backup. Another option is to run in raid 5 so you get 66% of the space instead of 50%.

For gaming you only need a quad core. If you plan on ripping movies and music from cd's and dvd's all the time definitively go core I7.

I bought a 25.5" Asus monitor for $350 with free shipping (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) use promo code LCD12250 but it ends on Saturday (1/31/2009).

The 4870 can be had for $250 and is faster than the 280, if you are going 285 then the 285 is faster.
January 28, 2009 12:46:41 PM

runmymouth said:
The 4870 can be had for $250 and is faster than the 280, if you are going 285 then the 285 is faster.


The 4870 is a nice GPU, especially the 1GB version, but the above quote is not true. The GTX 280 is faster than the 4870. The 4870 1GB and GTX 260 core 216 go back and forth in the benchmarks.
January 28, 2009 12:52:13 PM

Then I was thinking of the 260, that was my mistake.
January 28, 2009 6:08:10 PM

Ok thanks for all the input. So I'm leaning towards the i7 with the board xthekidx suggested, but batuchka made a strong case for a HD4870x2 with a phenom II.

Anyone else? Any more thoughts in general?
January 28, 2009 6:16:00 PM

SLI and Crossfire still are not receiving the support from Nvidia and Ati and video gaming company's to be as effective as they should be. The X2 is treated like a crossfire just on one card. 2X the chips != 2X the performance at about 2X the cost.
January 28, 2009 6:24:28 PM

Phenom II is only worth it if you already have an AMD chipset and need to upgrade your processor to something better. Building from scratch with Phenom II is not a good way to go IMO. There is no upgrade path for it right now, after P2 no other faster processors will fit that chipset. x58 on the other hand has upgrades in the future. Plus P2 is on a level below the i7; close to the Q9400, and won't overclock like the i7. For the best computer build with a $2000 budget i7 is a much stronger build.
January 28, 2009 6:25:43 PM

This is the mounting bracket I was talking about:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That motherboard you linked only has 4 dimms for memory as opposed to the standard 6 for x58. It limits your upgrade options in the future, and I wouldn't recommend getting it. If you want to save a little on the mobo, look at these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or gigabyte's equivalent:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Both of those can be combo'd at newegg with the i7 920
January 28, 2009 11:04:58 PM

ok thanks again.
I guess all I have left to do is pick a monitor then which I'm getting from a different budget so I'm looking for a good 22 or 24 incher for under 300$
So far I'm looking at these two:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
but I'm really not sure what to get.

Oh, and i forgot to mention, this computer might be in my bedroom (at least for a little while), so if there is anything I can do so that running torrents at overnight doesn't make my room sound like an airport, I'd like to know about it. I already tried picking large diameter slower spinning fans, but i'm not sure if there are other things I can do to make my computer quiet. thanks!
January 29, 2009 1:01:50 AM

Excellent advice from xthekidx time and again.

However, I'd have to suggest that the Xigmatek 1283 may not be the best i7 heatsink. Try the TRUE, Scythe Mugen 2, Noctua NH-U12P SE1366, or maybe the upcoming Xigmatek Thor's Hammer.

For mobo, I'd go with the Gigabyte EX58-UD4P, from all of the recommendations above. The EX58-UD3R is too limiting, IMO.

Here is a great deal on the Samsung T240 with a "zero dead pixel guarantee": link.

Good luck.
January 29, 2009 2:29:45 AM

True the S1283 is not the best i7 heatsink, but its the cheapest, and it still performs fairly well. Best would probably be the TRUE for twice as much (Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme RC 1366).
January 29, 2009 2:55:23 AM

Quote:
Excellent advice from xthekidx time and again.

I'm new here, but I quickly have noticed that.

After taking a closer look at the mobo's i'm definitely not getting the UD3R. Either the UD4P or UD5.

Am I going to need extra cooling for the graphics card?

Any thoughts on keeping the noise levels low?

edit: ok so the scythe mugen 2 looks like very good for the price ~40$. I think I'll get that.
January 29, 2009 4:17:44 AM

If you want to lower the noise on your system, consider getting noise dampening foam. It has an adhesive side and you line the inside of your case with it and muffle the sound of your fans and hard drives.

Otherwise you can turn down the speeds of your fans in your case, CPU HSF and graphics card, but this will reduce the airflow and increase temps in your case.
January 30, 2009 12:47:55 AM

ok, so that coolmaster case is designed to reduce noise, and I'm looking at some of the quieter 120mm fans on newegg.

I think i'm all set now except for deciding between these 3 monitors:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


And does anyone know if this is a reputable dealer:
http://www.heatsinkfactory.com/scythe-mugen-2-cpu-coole...
January 30, 2009 4:48:40 AM

Couple of points:

1. Look closely at the mobo features and don't spend the extra money on the UD5 unless you really need the features.

2. Video card cooling should be sufficient with the rear exhaust design.

3. Both the Cosmos and Antec P182 are pretty quiet cases already, so if you go with one of them, try it first before you do any muffling or modification.

4. The key noisemakers are the fans (especially the video card fan), so the best route is to just turn them down, either with a fan controller or with the mobo features. Just getting the video card fan down makes a big difference.

5. Keep in mind that you will be generating a lot of heat from your HDD array too, so you'll have to compromise a bit on the noise angle.

6. I once received a recommendation on Heat Sink Factory from a very knowledgeable person for a very esoteric part. Never actually bought anything from them, but it's not a big risk for $40. For your consideration, here is a cheaper price for the Scythe Mugen 2 at NCIX USA: link.

7. Regarding your monitor choices, just note that the Asus is a "1080p" monitor, with slightly less resolution than the Acers. It's a tad shorter than the standard 24" resolution vertically, which means a little more scrolling when you read long documents and webpages.

8. Why don't you go to a local shop and have a look at these three monitors in real life? The esthetics might help you decide--you'll be staring at that monitor the most, out of all your parts.
January 30, 2009 11:51:05 AM

Hmm just to clarify here are the none TRI SLI gaming benches i7 vs Phenom 2







Deneb core power consumption:


IMO there is no reason to splash on expensive DDR3 and chipset when on a far cheaper pricepoint u can nab a far better GPU as shown in my configuration After Febuary AM3 socket Deneb/Heka with even lower TDP will see light and all these are able to run with DDR2 on AM2+ and DDR3 on AM3 mobos - so you have an upgrade path and the option to not be held ransom over high DDR3 prices! My $0.02
!