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Another "Advice Sought on New Build" Thread

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February 12, 2009 6:59:45 PM

Though I dislike making my first post an immediate request for help, that's exactly what I'm going to do. I've lurked the forum a fair amount and this seemed a good choice for seeking advice on an upgrade and/or new computer.

I have an Intel Core 2 Duo Processor E6700, evGA 320MB GeForce 8800 GTS, 2GB Corsair DDR2. I use 1920 x 1020 for my resolution; previously I was able to go to this resolution and "high" settings on most games without much performance loss. But this is all in the past tense, and the computer is not quite up to par anymore on newer games...lower resolution and lower settings now required. I consider myself a passionate, every-other-day gamer rather than a fanatic, but I do love eye candy. Games I play or will be playing shortly: Crysis, F.E.A.R. 2, Dawn of War 2, Sacred 2, FarCry 2, Oblivion, Gothic 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, so on and so forth. I also play some old DOS games. I only do a tertiary amount of video editing and movie-watching on my PC; I do use Photoshop and Flash very frequently for my work, but can't say I've had many performance issues with them (unless I have a large amount of projects open). So I'm mainly upgrading for games. I also listen to a great deal of music and already have an X-Fi Xtreme Gamer that I'll just be sticking in whatever I upgrade to (lest there be some other card that eats this one alive for gaming/music-listening that I should know about).

Well, that said, I do believe I'm ready for an upgrade. But as ever, I'm overwhelmed. I'm hoping not to spend more than US$1500 but can bend that somewhat if it's not realistic. Clearly with this budget I do not care about having the fastest or swankest, but like most people, I would like the best for the money. If I can get components at $1000 between which I would not notice much of a difference if I bumped it up to $1500, that would be fantastic (ah, to dream...but you never know).

Advice? What will give me the best bang for the buck within the constraints of my budget? Is it a good time to be upgrading? Will I get a noticeable boost, or best to wait a bit longer?

Thanks so much in advance.
February 12, 2009 7:25:50 PM

What are you going to do with the old computer? That is, will you reuse the case, DVD burner, hard drives, Windows, speakers?

I will assume the following:
1. you will reuse the case, and it's large enough to fit today's largest video cards
2. your current PSU is too small to be reused (what kind is it???)
3. you're not into overclocking (you shouldn't, since it's a work machine too)
4. you can reuse HDDs, burner, windows
5. your windows is a 64-bit Vista (if not, add $100 for Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM)
6. you will order at Newegg and assemble the parts yourself

If I got all that right, then you only need CPU/MB/RAM/GPU(s)/PSU. $1500 buys you something like this:

i7 920 ($290)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202

Asus P6T ($250)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131359

6GB of OCZ DDR3 RAM ($135)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227365

Now you have spent $675, and have $825 left for PSU and GPUs.

You could get the best card available today (GTX 295, $500) and a Corsair 1000HX PSU ($250 or so), and then in a year or two add a second GTX 295 if needed.

Or you could get a HD 4870 X2 ($400) and a PC Power & Cooling S75CF ($80) and get pretty much the same 60 fps (the monitor will be a bottleneck). That's a lot cheaper, but you can't add more cards later if you do this. A variant on this is HD 4870 X2 + Corsair 1000HX and add a HD 4870 1GB or HD 4870 X2 later if needed.

Or you could get the 1000HX and 2 GTX 285 cards, then add a third later if needed.

February 12, 2009 7:34:25 PM

You didn't list your current motherboard. You could likely update your board to run an E8500.

If you wanted to go further, I would suggest jumping up to a core i7 920 and perhaps a single GTX 280 to start, providing you have some re-useable parts.

And don't skip Fallout 3. :) 

Check my guide and parts list linked in my sig.
Related resources
February 12, 2009 8:10:48 PM

Fantastic, thank you so much for the responses already. I realise I did leave some pertinent details out of my first post (I was in a wee bit of a hurry to eat my crappy lunch), but I'll try to add those missing details in now.

I have a link to the specifications of the computer I currently have; it's a Velocity Micro ProMagix E2230...I know, I know, rather lame of me, but my girlfriend and I won Best Buy's survey contest on their receipts and with my half I decided to buy a new PC. Anyway, here be those specs:

http://reviews.cnet.com/desktops/velocity-promagix-e2230/4507-3118_7-32434426.html?tag=mncol;rnav

I did build two computers before I was infected with chronic laziness and got the Velocity Micro, but I do intend to do this next one myself (with the very, very thorough help of guides and forums).

I would like to re-use what I can from the Velocity Micro, but I doubt the power supply is sufficient any longer (it's 500 watt with no brand specified), and am not sure about the reusability of the case. Hard drive is listed as: 1 x 400 GB - Standard - Serial ATA-150 - 7200 rpm. Also, despite what the specifications on the link says, mine is not equipped with Windows Vista Ultimate, but rather the 32-bit version of Home Premium. If it ultimately seems I'd not save much money by cannablising the Velocity Micro, then I'll just keep it intact (minus the X-Fi Xtreme Gamer) and build an entirely new and separate system. Though I'm not sure how feasible that is at $1500...

About overclocking: it's not out of the question (I do have a couple of back-up computers for work). It's something I'm interested in but I have no experience with it.

But yes, I would definitely be using Newegg.

Thanks again, all responses are greatly appreciated. I'm checking out some of the product links now...

February 12, 2009 8:48:19 PM

I think you should consider selling your velocity micro to someone in classified adds, like craigslist or something. You could probably get $600 or so for it and put that towards your new build.

And you should probably start over on the case, I'm guessing that case has minimal cooling, and the pictures of it on that review look very cramped. The HDD is probably not the best either, so it would definitely bottleneck your new system, it would be a shame to build a new system that was weighed down by 2 or 3 year old technology.

I don't think it's necessary to keep the sound card, onboard sound is very good and the sound that comes with the P6T will likely be close if not as good as the sound on your 2 year old sound card.

I think you should look at doing something like this:
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...
and replace the GTX 260 with a 280 or 285. You would be able to SLI with it later on that PSU. If you decide to sell your old comp then you can use the money you get there to add another gtx285 or get some more HDD's to backup your data. Newegg doesn't allow you to add bundled items to wishlists, but that CPU and mobo can be combo'd for $30 off, and you get a $20MIR with the PSU.

The case I picked there has excellent cooling and is very roomy, and a good value.

The HDD I picked will likely be 50% or more faster than the one you currently have.

The Mobo I picked is the best bang for the buck as far as LGA 1366 goes, and is an excellent board with tons of features. You could get the P6T Deluxe V2 for about $40 more I think which has a nicer board layout and better overclocking ability, but the P6T is very good, and if you buy it from newegg you get the $30 combo deal. Newegg doesn't carry the V2 yet unfortunately.
http://www.ncixus.com/products/36225/P6T%20Deluxe%20V2/...

The CPU cooler will allow you to overclock as high as your motherboard will allow.

The Ram I picked is a very good value, it has a better than average heatspreader, decent timings, lower voltages and good price, its actually $140 right now (amazing price btw), don't know why its $153 in my wishlist.
February 13, 2009 4:15:16 AM

I've thought on selling the Velocity Micro, but I'll likely just be giving it away to a sibling or friend who is in need of a decent computer.

One other bit of info that I suppose might be pertinent is that I use a 27.5" monitor at the aforementioned resolution of 1920x1200:

http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=8718532&st=hannspree&lp=1&type=product&cp=1&id=1200703080130

I'm unsure of how much of a difference that makes to what I do or do not put in my new build, but there you have it. Someone had told me I'd be better off getting 2x video cards rather than one single powerhouse...but despite my attempted research, I still can't determine if that's accurate or not. :pt1cable: 

We do have some unused parts that are newer than what is in the Velocity Micro, but I still don't know if they would be up to a snuff. A power supply: Thermaltake Tough Power 750W, and a Western Digital Velociraptor that I don't recall much else about at the moment, except that its size is >500GB. Are either of these usable, or ought they go the way of the Velocity Micro as well?

Thanks again, all...such invaluable help.

edit: ah, I feel a bit of a wanker for not noticing the template at the top of the forum for posting such topics. Sorry about that, could've saved us all some time had I read more closely and given the necessary details, eh.
February 13, 2009 4:27:18 AM

Use that PSU, its a good one, and get a GTX 295 or HD 4870x2 and use the rest of the build I posted. Only thing is though that you cant get another card to add on with that PSU after that, but a GTX 295 or HD 4870x2 would probably run your system very well for a year or two at least. That HDD is good, you should reuse it too.
February 13, 2009 4:35:10 AM

The velociraptor is the fastest platter drive there is. That would be good to put in your system. Is it the 150Gb or the 300Gb? Either way, it is something to work with. The thermaltake is a nice psu and could easily run one video card of your choice. If you wanted to SLI the gtx 285 in the future, you may want to look at upgrading the psu.
February 13, 2009 4:39:24 AM

I would just keep the PSU and use the money saved to upgrade to a GTX295, and you won't need to add another GFX card most likely. The P6T doesn't have the best board layout for SLI high powered cards anyway, the first two PCIEx16 slots are pretty close to each other. If you wanted to SLI, then you should get the P6T Deluxe V2.
February 17, 2009 11:18:16 PM

Lads, after some time thinking on it I've come to the conclusion that I know I'm not going to end up OCing, regardless of how much I try to convince myself that I'm going to one day. I've always been content with things as-is. That said, does it make any difference with any of the components? Any money that can be shaved (yes, I'm a cheap bastard) without hobbling myself? I find myself with a bit smaller budget for unexciting reasons. I'm leaning towards xthekidx's wish-list (but updating the GPU as suggested). Oh, that's another thing...I see myself sticking with single video cards for as long as its viable. I'm archaic like that. So if that makes a difference as well, I'd appreciate knowing.

Thanks again, everyone. Reading this board has been so much help.
February 18, 2009 6:47:50 PM

I'll be a bit less vague.

1. If I'm not going to overclock or do SLI/Crossfire, would the GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R suit my needs (versus the Asus L6T non-Deluxe originally on the list)? Was also wondering if anyone had any experience with the on-board sound of that motherboard...

2. I am likely getting the GTX 295, GTX 285 at minimum. Would the Corsair 650TX be sufficient power for these single cards?

3. Sticking with the Cooler Master 690, and knowing that I shan't be overclocking, should I still get the Cooler Master V8 as well? I'm a bit unclear as to whether or not the stock cooler in the CPU would be sufficient for a non-overclocker.

4. The RAM that xthekidx listed (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231245) is now shown as "Deactivated" at NewEgg...not sure why, aside from the very bad reviews. Anything comparable? How is this 6GB of OCZ Gold (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227365) or this other G. Skill (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231223). This will be for an i7 920, by the way.

Thank you.
February 18, 2009 9:03:15 PM

wow ram keeps getting cheaper every day.

The ones I originally posted are reactivated now, sometimes newegg temporarily deactivates items when they are repricing. The OCZ golds would be good too, but I'd go with the G. Skills I originally posted. Or if you can spend the extra money, OCZ Platinum 1600mhz are great too, and I would highly recommend those.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 19, 2009 12:21:35 AM

lungsofiron said:
I'll be a bit less vague.

1. If I'm not going to overclock or do SLI/Crossfire, would the GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R suit my needs (versus the Asus L6T non-Deluxe originally on the list)? Was also wondering if anyone had any experience with the on-board sound of that motherboard...

2. I am likely getting the GTX 295, GTX 285 at minimum. Would the Corsair 650TX be sufficient power for these single cards?

3. Sticking with the Cooler Master 690, and knowing that I shan't be overclocking, should I still get the Cooler Master V8 as well? I'm a bit unclear as to whether or not the stock cooler in the CPU would be sufficient for a non-overclocker.

4. The RAM that xthekidx listed (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231245) is now shown as "Deactivated" at NewEgg...not sure why, aside from the very bad reviews. Anything comparable? How is this 6GB of OCZ Gold (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227365) or this other G. Skill (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231223). This will be for an i7 920, by the way.

Thank you.


1. Yes. Don't know about the sound, sorry.

2. Yes for GTX 285. Yes for GTX 295 too, if you don't have too many hard disks or TV tuners or other cards. BFG recommends at least 46A on the 12V rails for a system with a GTX 295, and the 650TX has 52A. A PC Power & Cooling 750W or 750TX (60A both) would be a better fit for GTX 295 IMO. There's the S75CF for $90 or the 750TX for $100 or the S75QB for $105.

3. No need for an aftermarket cooler if you don't overclock. Most people do NOT overclock, and Intel's stock cooler is designed for them.

4. I like that G.Skill at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231223
February 19, 2009 7:11:06 PM

Thanks much, xthekidx and aevm. I initially felt a bit leery about the G.Skill set that had been deactivated because of the poor reviews, but after digging around a bit it seems a fair amount of the reviewers at New Egg don't know what the hell they're on about (hey, just like me).

So a yes from aevm about that Gigabyte motherboard...xthekidx, I take it from a post of yours in another thread you're not a big fan of that one? I can do the Asus P6T if I'll be shooting myself in the foot otherwise; just looking to save a bit more where I can, I suppose.

Is the Cooler Master 690 relatively quiet? Not expecting dead-quiet but non-distracting-quiet would be nice. This Velocity Micro has always sounded like it's going to take flight at any moment...which would actually be rather cool, but since it doesn't, it's just a noisy little bugger.
February 19, 2009 7:26:02 PM

The 690 is pretty quiet, but it depends more on what is inside it (HDD's, gpus, cpu cooler, how many fans you have...ect). I have the standard 3 fans, the V8 HSF, 1 HDD and the GTX 260 core 216. All the fans are turned up to max and its barely audible over the sound of me typing on the keyboard (idle), and I can't hear it when I'm playing games at low volume.

As for the board, I don't like that gigabyte because its fairly low on features that are otherwise standard on other x58 boards, and if you are paying that much, I want all the features, and you get them on the asus. But if you won't use those features (like 6 dimms for 12gb of ram in triple channel) then you should consider it. Go to the manufacturers' websites and compare them, you will be stuck with this board for the life of your system so make sure you know what you are getting.
February 19, 2009 7:41:17 PM

There seem to be some complaints about the noise from the side fan. Here are some ideas from Newegg reviews:

Quote:

Cons: - Side panel fan has an annoying buzz due to the design of the opening (the "honeycomb" case vent causes harmonics); I solved this by using some #8 washers as spacers to set the fan about 1/4-inch back from the side panel which eliminated the harmonics and silenced the noise, but required using longer screws than are included with the case.


Quote:

Pros: Large with lots of room assembling the internals. 2 x Very quiet fans. the third (side fan) makes too much noise so I just don't use it. Looks great with nice finish, strong construction and clean lines.


Quote:

The side panel fan makes noise. I fixed it with a few washers. Rubber screws would work too.


Quote:

Cons: The side fan was a bit noisy. I replaced it with a 120mm Scythe fan, and now the case is barely audible. I'm a little nit picky about noise, so it might not bother some people, but for me it was noticeable.



About the Gigabyte board: the good news is it costs $65 less than the P6T at Newegg. The bad news is that the P6T overclocks very well and has some extra features. Take some time to compare the features and then decide which is a better fit.

GA-EX58-UD3R vs P6T:

1. max 8 GB of RAM vs max 12 GB (using 2GB sticks).
(The UD3R claims max 16GB but that's marketing B.S. because it would need ultra-expensive 4GB sticks); irrelevant IMO because there's little difference in games between 4 and 8 GB, so I expect no difference at all between 8 and 12

2. max 2 video cards vs max 3 video cards; irrelevant IMO, because the third GPU usually adds very little value; it would also be bottlenecked at 4x; still, useful if you ever want 5 or 6 monitors.

3. the Gigabyte has a PCI Express x4 slot. May be useful for a TV tuner, but there are PCI and USB tuners anyway.

4. The Asus has extra RAID controllers. Irrelevant again.

5. Different audio chipsets but both Realtek. I bet you can't distinguish them by listening.

6. The Asus has eSATA. Very useful if you have an external HDD that also uses eSATA and use it for huge backups. If you just save a few MB a week any USB drive would do well and eSATA doesn't matter.



About the RAM: if you want some RAM with great reviews, get this one, but it costs more:
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $214
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145224


February 19, 2009 7:51:28 PM

The side fan on my 690 is just as loud/quiet as the others and dwarfed by the video card. Anything you buy there is a chance it will be faulty, but my guess is you won't have an issue with it.
February 19, 2009 9:00:34 PM

It's a decent case. If the fans seem loud, you can buy some replacements.
March 12, 2009 8:12:08 PM

Just wanted to send a quick thank you to you all for your help. I've had this new build now for two weeks and I love it, pleased unto death with it. I did end up getting a soundcard (Asus Xonar DX) and I'm pleased it did; perhaps I'm nutty, but I hear quite the difference between it and the onboard audio, and it is also quite a bit better than the X-Fi card I had before.

I had thought the performance and graphics on my Velocity Micro was just fine, but now I can't believe what I was missing out on (who knew there was such lighting and fog effects in Fallout 3? ;)  ).

Anyway, I'd likely still be mulling about trying to figure out parts if not for the help here. Thank you again.
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