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Forum Experts vs Tom's Hardware's Experts

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February 7, 2009 9:46:18 AM

I am a first time builder, planning on buying parts within the week. I've read almost all of the tom's hardware articles for "bang for buck" pc builds. I would like to see if I might get better advice by listening to TH or you guys at the forums.

I've narrowed down some of my components down based on tom's articles. (X means I've pretty much decided on it)

Component------------------------------Model----------------------------------------------Price (USD)

X CPU -------------------------Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz------------------------------73

CPU Cooler-------------------------------- XIGMATEK Dark Knight--------------------------------------50

Motherboard----------------GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P----------------------------------------135-20=115

X RAM-------------------------G.SKILL (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)---------------------------45

Graphics---------------------SAPPHIRE 100265L Radeon HD 4850 512MB---------------------------150

X Case-------------------Antec Three Hundred (sounds like the best according to Tom's) -----------60

PSU -------------------------Antec EA650 650W ATX12V -------------------------------------$60


What I do on a PC:
I consider myself pretty tech savvy. I do the usual email, surfing, movie watching. I also game (not hardcore-ly) but thats because I didn't have a computer like the one above. I play games at a 1620x1050 rez. Spend about 4-5 hrs a day on comp. Obviously, the better stuff is more costly, I am a huge advocate from maximizing my dollar. I will pay more for better equipment but the cost MUST justify it.

Question:
1. Cooler- Is this XIG DK the best for what its price/what I need?
2. Can I play Crysis on 1620x1200 on high with what I have? Also, how much should I expect to be able to OC my ram, CPU, and GPU as a first time OC'er?
3. Best brand (Sapphire, Asus, MSI) of Radeon 4830. Should I stick with the Sapphire @95 or go with the
Asus @75 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?nm_mc=AFC-Sl...
or wait for a better deal?
4. The PSU+Case combo is $120 plus shipping (6 bucks?) Should I wait for a deal on the Antec 300 or is that already a good price?
5. Anything else to recommend.

I will post additional info if needed. Thanks for everyone's time!

*EDIT:
*I know that there are components missing, but thats bc I either am reusing them*
February 7, 2009 9:50:03 AM

Also would be more than happy to listen to some good advice regarding anything comp related that I could apply to my build. Thanks!
February 7, 2009 10:01:44 AM

1. OC wise, for the best bang for your buck, the E7300 is best value for gaming and the E5200 for everything else.
2. Gigabyte mobos have a good rep as being reliable and feature packed. Crossfire is not much good to most. A HD 3870 Crossfire has the same performance as one HD 4850.
3. Find one with a nice cooler. Stay away from bad brands and try and find a good deal.
4. RAM is so cheap these days. Capacity is more important than performance
5. I dunno
6. For higher performance cooling and better OCs, yes you will need a new cooler
7. Vista 64 has lost most of its kinks. That plus the ablity to use more than 4GB of total RAM...
Related resources
February 7, 2009 10:07:16 AM

Have you read the guide at the top of the forum?

Any C2D you buy is going to be worth about what you pay for it, with perhaps the exception of an E8600. So it's just a question of budget.

You seem to want to overclock a good bit. The Gigabyte UD3P is probably about the best board you can buy for under $160, and possibly the best overclocker of any LGA 775 board.

It is quite similar in build quality and ability to the ASUS P5Q-E, but the board layout is better and the cost quite a bit less. That's why it is so heavily recommended.

If you read the guide on video cards, I imagine you picked out the 4830. Personally, I wouldn't settle for less, and would probably say 4850.

Do you want to keep the option of crossfire open?

February 7, 2009 10:19:04 AM

HD 4830 in Crossfire will beat a HD 4870. If you want Crossfire that is.
February 7, 2009 2:08:34 PM

Corsair and PC Power and Cooling both make great power supplies. I am also a recent first time builder and went with the Corsair 650TX. Your build sounds quite similar to mine, E7300, 4 GB G.Skill PI, Gigabyte UD3R, though I am going to purchase a 4870. The 650TX is a crossfire supported power supply and would be a good choice for 4830/4850 crossfire.

However, if you ever want to upgrade the video cards to say the 4870, you would need more power, so getting the 750TX would leave you some growing room.

February 7, 2009 9:58:22 PM

amdfangirl said:
1. OC wise, for the best bang for your buck, the E7300 is best value for gaming and the E5200 for everything else.
2. Gigabyte mobos have a good rep as being reliable and feature packed. Crossfire is not much good to most. A HD 3870 Crossfire has the same performance as one HD 4850.
3. Find one with a nice cooler. Stay away from bad brands and try and find a good deal.
4. RAM is so cheap these days. Capacity is more important than performance
5. I dunno
6. For higher performance cooling and better OCs, yes you will need a new cooler
7. Vista 64 has lost most of its kinks. That plus the ablity to use more than 4GB of total RAM...


Thanks for your responses. I am just curious when you say "capacity is more important than performance". I am most definitely going to get a 4gb kit (2x2). So, do i need to care about "timing" and like voltage? or do all of the 4gb ram perform relatively the same? I also want to explore overclocking the ram if it will lead to better performance.
February 7, 2009 10:19:06 PM

You want low numbers for timings, 5-5-5-15 or lower, and try to stay below 1.9v for your ram, especially if you are looking to overclock. Look at DDR2-800, most 1066 ram is just overclocked 800 anyways, so you can do that yourself and save some money. G.skill PI Black ram generally has pretty good prices compared to most other high performance ram, so I would suggest that.

If you want a high performance rig, then get the E8500 and OC to 4.0. The E8500 will go higher than most other Core 2's because it has a higher multiplier. The E8600 goes higher, but the price isn't worth it.

Get the UD3P motherboard, it overclocks very well and gives you the xfire option

PSU- if you want 2 video cards at any point in time, then get the 750w PC P&C, its the best deal at $70 at newegg. Otherwise for just one card you can go with the 650tx or 550vx from corsair. If you are using a lower powered card like 1 9800GT, you could get a 400w PSU, look at Antec or Seasonic for those.

Get a saphire 4830, they have fairly low prices and good customer service and reliability.

For overclocking, you need a good cooler. Xigmatech HDT-S1283 is the best cooling for the price, although the Freezer 7 Pro is good too, and comes with better thermal paste. The Xigmatech comes with the option of getting a backplate though, which I highly recommend because it reduces strain on your motherboard. The Freezer 7 Pro only uses pushpins, which kinda sucks. If you get the Xigmatech, buy Arctic Cooling MX-2 thermal paste to go with it, the Freezer 7 pro comes with it already.

If you can't find the Antec 300 for less than $60, look at the CoolerMaster 690, its usually about $70 and is much bigger and has better cooling.

Vista Home Premium 64 bit
February 7, 2009 10:21:04 PM

They perform relatively the same. Capacity will affect performance the most. Upgading from 2GB to 4GB will increase performance more than upgrading from 667 to 800mhz.

Certainly increasing the speed of the RAM will increase performance, but don't spend too much on performance OC RAM ;) . Decent DDR-800 is about $25 USD after MIR.
February 7, 2009 10:46:05 PM

amdfangirl said:
They perform relatively the same. Capacity will affect performance the most. Upgading from 2GB to 4GB will increase performance more than upgrading from 667 to 800mhz.

Certainly increasing the speed of the RAM will increase performance, but don't spend too much on performance OC RAM ;) . Decent DDR-800 is about $25 USD after MIR.


Well I am set on buying DDR2-800, 4GB. Not even considering 2GB with the prices of the ram these days. So, do I just find the cheapest 4GB kit I can find?
February 7, 2009 10:49:13 PM

Yes but make sure you get a kit that has low voltage (1.8-1.9v) and timings (5-5-5-15 or lower), and has heat spreaders, very important if you want to overclock!
February 7, 2009 11:02:44 PM

xthekidx said:
Yes but make sure you get a kit that has low voltage (1.8-1.9v) and timings (5-5-5-15 or lower), and has heat spreaders, very important if you want to overclock!


Thanks again for your reply. I looked up all the ram that met the qualifications that you mentioned. Other than the Pi Black I originally wanted, I also saw a A-DATA kit that was $10 cheaper. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Sure $10 isn't much, but I could use that to upgrade another component. Do you recommend choosing the A-DATA over the PI Black?
February 7, 2009 11:55:44 PM

Proximon said:
If you are planning to push that CPU, you'll want the Xigmatek, the optional support bracket, and thermal paste.

You can buy the Xig bundled with the bracket:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Thermal Interface Material:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Proximon, I had no idea that you were the one who wrote the "guide for choosing parts". That was incredibly helpful. Thanks!

So, the Xig does look like the best/only other choice other than the Arctic Cooling Freezer 7. In your guide, it looks like you would recommend that to the people who don't overclock. I was just curious about why even bothering to have the ACF 7 if its for non-overclockers.

I also have a more important decision in the PSU. I have read your personal big list of parts but I can't seem to tell which one is the best for what I am building here. Like i said above, I like the OCZ StealthXStream OCZ600SXS 600W and the Antec EA650 mainly because of the price of the OCZ and the combo of Antec EA650+Antec three hundred. (and because I know jack about PSUs)
February 8, 2009 12:30:09 AM

The AC7 tends to cool the CPU around 5C better than stock under load, and comes equipped with better wax-based TIM than stock (supposedly). From my limited experience, the push-pins on the AC7 are a bit easier to deal with than the stock push pins.
In short, it's more idiot proof and gives a bit more margin. :)  The stock cooler is quieter.

The Xigmatek is NOT the coolest. There are a couple air coolers that beat it... but none of them have that bolt-in method. The bolts may be more work, but they ensure a secure and even installation. When you put it on, it's on right.

There is one cooler that has a better mix of quiet and cooling though:
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=234...

The Spire Thermax may be better over all, but air coolers with clips can be problematic because of the large heatsinks surrounding the CPU socket these days.

You can find pretty much every CPU cooler listed at Frostytech, and comparing the cooling properties and decibels can be very educational.

Both the PSUs you have listed should support a second 4830 in crossfire, should you go that route. The Antec EA650 is the superior unit for sure. If you can get it for 60 bucks that's a very good deal.

If you are not going to crossfire and you don't anticipate ever getting a very big video card, then perhaps you should opt for quality over quantity:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

... Although again at 60 bucks that EA650 is hard to beat. I would say it's probably an 8 on the quality scale compared to a 9 for the PC P&C, and the extra wattage more than makes up for that.

Actually:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

It might not be a pretty PSU, but it really is top quality. I'm settled on it, even if you aren't. Get the EA650. :) 




February 8, 2009 2:56:01 AM

Thanks for that PSU advice. Going to get the EA650. :) 
About the cooling though, I feel that $50+ bucks for a cooler might be a bit too much bc it sounds more logical to get a E7300 instead on stock cooling with that extra $50. Also, why does Tom's articles for the budget gaming pc always include the arctic freezer pro if there are others that are better? (and where the hell do they find that for 27!?!?)

Also, can anyone tell me if i should stick with my current mobo (GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P), or buy a very similar one for $30 less
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168....

ps. thanks everyone for helping me today. i really appreciate it!
February 8, 2009 3:07:45 AM

I believe an E5200 +Xigmatek beats the E7300 +stock cooler by quite a bit actually. It would make an interesting poll.

That UD3P is rated very highly. It competes and wins in crossfire tests with boards that are more expensive, so I would say it's the best bet. The ECS board probably does the job though.
February 8, 2009 9:58:14 AM

Decided on the UD3P. it has crazy good reviews!

Lastly, I compared the prices of my parts (like the 4830 and the case+PSU) with TH's articles and it seems mine are slightly more expensive. Do I have a good price on my components?

Ps. i also added a few more questions at the top. Thanks!!
February 8, 2009 11:44:34 AM

1. Cooler- Is this XIG DK the best for what its price/what I need?
-For that motherboard, yes.

2. Can I play Crysis on 1620x1200 on high with what I have?
-No. Not even close. You can play Crysis with medium settings at 1680x1050, probably. Possibly some high settings thrown in.

Also, how much should I expect to be able to OC my ram, CPU, and GPU as a first time OC'er?
-You should be able to increase the FSB to ~300, let's say 3.4 to 3.6Ghz easily.

3. Best brand (Sapphire, Asus, MSI) of Radeon 4830. Should I stick with the Sapphire @95 or go with the
Asus @75 AR
-I doubt there really is a best brand, but I have a preference for Sapphire.

4. The PSU+Case combo is $120 plus shipping (6 bucks?) Should I wait for a deal on the Antec 300 or is that already a good price?
-That's as good as it gets.

February 8, 2009 4:38:42 PM

Proximon said:

The Xigmatek is NOT the coolest. There are a couple air coolers that beat it... but none of them have that bolt-in method. The bolts may be more work, but they ensure a secure and even installation. When you put it on, it's on right.

I didn't mean to say it was the best, but the best for its price. The coolers that beat it out are usually in the ball park of $20-30 more expensive, and they are very few. And you can buy a bolt through kit for the xig, which is highly recommended.
February 8, 2009 8:14:05 PM

Don't read too much into my late night, over-caffeinated rants xthekidx :)  I never thought you were under that impression, and the emphasis wasn't aimed at you. I was just being a bit TOO clear. There I go again.
February 8, 2009 8:19:48 PM

After much late-night research last night, I think a single Radeon 4850+ a cheaper Mobo that doesnt support crossfire will be an ideal solution for me. Not only will it run cooler, I'll have less problems bc I am considered a noob at building comps. By the time I decide to get a second 4830, a better solution has probably surfaced anyways. Plus, I think crossfire 4XXX works best for higher resolutions than 1620x1050 no?

So with that being said, what are good motherboard solutions for my E5200+4850? Im not quite sure how to pick from so many... maybe that cheaper GIGABYTE that only has 1 PCI 2.0 express slot? Also, do I still need 650W of PSU??
February 8, 2009 11:33:17 PM

well i would love to game in 1620x1050 resolution on playable/good looking settings, but not a perfectionist. Money is the most important thing. What do you guys think of the other gigabyte mobo?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, are newegg open boxes trust worthy?

I'm planning on ordering the items that i am for sure getting by tonight. This includes the e5200 cpu, antec 300+650EA, and the gskill ram. I'd like to get more input on the other components since I am not in a huge rush. Thanks everyone!
!