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Mid-to-High Range i7 920 - Suggestions Needed

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February 14, 2009 12:30:16 AM

Hi everyone. In the next 3 months, I am looking to build a i7 920 PC, which will be used for everyday use, occasional gaming and playing my vast MP3 collection through my stereo speakers. After months of reading reviews, this is what I have come up with for $2000. Ideally, I would like to get it down to $1500, so I want to ask the "experts" on here what I should cut or should I just bite the bullet and get what my heart desires. I am currently using a 4-year-old Dell XPS Gen 4 (P4 3.2Ghz, 8800GT, 2GB DDR2 533 RAM) on a Samsung 226BW (1680x1050) monitor. I will be keeping the monitor for my new build. This is my first PC build and I do not initially plan to overclock or go SLI, but after reading all the reviews on the 920, most say to overclock the 920 to get the most out it. This will most likely be a Vista 64-bit PC, unless anyone can convince me that 32-bit is the way to go.

Components Chosen: (All prices are from NewEgg)

CASE: COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 RC-840-KKN1-GP Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $259.99
Comments: The review of this case on bit-tech.net made me want this case, but for $100 less should I just get the ugly, but better cooling HAF 932? My thinking is, the ATCS is going to be the last case I will ever have to buy (maybe), and it is so darn nice looking.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD5 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $288.99

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail $289.99

PSU: PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W ATX12V / EPS12V - Retail $139.99 ($104.99 after rebate)

RAM: G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) - Retail $139.99
Comments: Should I go to 3GB just to save some $$?

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail $69.99
Comments: Any suggestions on a better CPU cooler, maybe one that will install easier, or is quieter or more effective?

Graphics Card: EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB - Retail $229.99 ($199 after rebate)
Comments: I do not expect to go SLI, since I am only gaming at 1680x1050 and don't expect to play Crysis on High Settings anytime soon. I also want to be sure I can use the other PCI slots for a soundcard.

Hard Drives: 2 x Western Digital RE3 WD1002FBYS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $379.98 for 2
Comments: One for OS/Apps, one for storage of MP3s, videos. Are the RE3 drives overkill and should I just go with the WD Caviar Black 1TB disks ($129.99 ea) and save $150? I am just concerned about some of the negative reviews of the Black edition. I would have loved to get a WD Velociraptor 300GB for the OS and a 1TB disk for storage, but thought it was too expensive.

SATA Cables: 3 x OKGEAR 18" SATA II Cable Model GC18ARM12 - Retail $5.97 for 3
Comments: Are 18 inch SATA cables long enough?
Also, any other cables, adapters I would need to purchase in order to complete this build?

DVD Reader/Writer: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $24.99

Mouse: Logitech G5 7 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Laser Mouse - Retail $49.99

Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail $90.99
Comments: I play my vast "CD quality 320kbps LAME codec" MP3 collection on my PC through my home theater speakers, I want the best audio quality I can get through a PC. I am in now way an "audiophile", but I hear that although onboard sound is good, there are some audio quality issues. I also want my games to sound pretty darn good to, but I mostly use Sennheiser headphones when playing games. Any comments??

Total Price: $1,906 plus tax and shipping

So, is this overkill for what I want to do with it? I do love gaming and would love to have a very good gaming PC at 1680x1050, and I am looking to future-proof my PC as long as possible (5 years or so), but do you see anything that is just plain unnecessary? (umm...maybe I am asking the wrong group of people for that...I'm sure we all would like a killer $5000 gaming PC if we could.) Should I downgrade the case, hard drives and upgrade the video card to a GTX295? What will be different in 3 months? New i7 CPU I hear...any new X58 mobos I should be waiting for?

Thanks in advance for your help and suggestions. I know it's a lot of questions, but thanks for reading it anyways.

-Misfit14



February 14, 2009 12:52:14 AM

ok, that case is crazy expensive. Here are some cheaper/better options
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...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Xigmatek makes a nice cooler for ~$40

Your mobo will come with the sata cables, you don't need to buy them.

I see nothing but good reviews on the WD 1tb black series
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The rest of the system looks solid. With the money saved, maybe bump up the video card to the gtx 285?
February 14, 2009 1:00:30 AM

I suppose it has a few nice features, and the cable management is definitely easier, but for that kind of money and looks I would go with the TJ09, which I own:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Otherwise, perhaps you could compromise and get an Antec 1200, which would look a bit better (than the HAF) but still provide great cooling. There are also some nice combo deals on newegg with those.

If I were going to just have one card in a system today, I would probably go with a GTX 280 or 4850X2, both of which have dropped a lot lately. I'm not sure how long you would stay satisfied with a single GTX 260, even at 16x10.

You ARE overspending on the hard drives. Get the Caviar Blacks, and use the extra cash to upgrade your GPU a bit.
Related resources
February 14, 2009 1:09:00 AM

aford10 said:
ok, that case is crazy expensive. Here are some cheaper/better options
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...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Xigmatek makes a nice cooler for ~$40

Your mobo will come with the sata cables, you don't need to buy them.

I see nothing but good reviews on the WD 1tb black series
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The rest of the system looks solid. With the money saved, maybe bump up the video card to the gtx 285?



Thanks aford10 for the quick reply. I was looking at the HAF 932 and Antecs as well, but I read the HAF doesn't have filters on the fan intakes. How much dust would really get into my case? Anyone have experience with the HAF 932?
February 14, 2009 1:14:58 AM

Proximon said:
I suppose it has a few nice features, and the cable management is definitely easier, but for that kind of money and looks I would go with the TJ09, which I own:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Otherwise, perhaps you could compromise and get an Antec 1200, which would look a bit better (than the HAF) but still provide great cooling. There are also some nice combo deals on newegg with those.

If I were going to just have one card in a system today, I would probably go with a GTX 280 or 4850X2, both of which have dropped a lot lately. I'm not sure how long you would stay satisfied with a single GTX 260, even at 16x10.

You ARE overspending on the hard drives. Get the Caviar Blacks, and use the extra cash to upgrade your GPU a bit.


Thanks Proximon. I think I will downgrade my case to the $150 range, but thanks for the suggestion on the TJ09. The Antec 1200 looks like a good compromise.

I will definitely take a look at the cards you suggested. GTX285 is where I may end up in 3 months if the price drops and once I downgrade the case and downgrade the HDDs to the WD Caviar Black.

Thanks again!
February 14, 2009 1:28:38 AM

The thing with filters is, you have to keep them cleaned or you end up overheating and burning out fans because they are clogged.

If you are going to keep your filters clean, you might as well just use a can of air and blow out the case every few months instead.

Canned air at an office supply store is VERY EXPENSIVE. This is because they try to keep it away from idiot kids who kill brain cells with it. If you order it on line or go to Costco, you can pick up large amounts for cheap.
February 14, 2009 2:03:24 AM

A few thoughts:

In addition to the other recommendations above, another case that you should consider is the Coolermaster Cosmos 1000--it's one of the quiet ones and looks pretty nice too. Would be quieter than the Antec 1200 for audio purposes.

Sure you need the UD5 mobo? The EX58-UD4P is a little cheaper and has almost as many features.

The red version of the Silencer 750 is going for $80 on Newegg, after MIR.

You could probably get away with 3GB RAM for your current needs, but 6GB is more future proof. Or, you could also consider 2x2GB in dual channel and add another 2x2 later.

For the G.Skill 1333s, make sure you get the CL7 version. G.Skill Pi Silvers are also good value.

Scythe Mugen 2 is also a good value for coolers. Don't forget MX-2 thermal paste.

+1 on Caviar Black 1TB drives.

For your sound card, do you need optical I/O to interface with the rest of your system? If so, then look at cards like the Azuntech Prelude (coaxial), X-Fi Titanium Fatality (Toslink), or maybe the Asus Xonar cards.

Definitely GTX 285 or higher.

You'll need an 850W PSU to power GTX 285s in SLI--Corsair 850TX or PCP&C 860W.

Remember to backup your music collection--might want to keep it on the 1st drive in a separate partition and then backup to the second drive.

On the horizon, I believe, is the P55 chipset and i7 dual cores with hyperthreading. If you're not a hardcore gamer, that might suit you as well.
February 14, 2009 3:14:26 PM

Akebono 98 said:
A few thoughts:

In addition to the other recommendations above, another case that you should consider is the Coolermaster Cosmos 1000--it's one of the quiet ones and looks pretty nice too. Would be quieter than the Antec 1200 for audio purposes.

Sure you need the UD5 mobo? The EX58-UD4P is a little cheaper and has almost as many features.

The red version of the Silencer 750 is going for $80 on Newegg, after MIR.

You could probably get away with 3GB RAM for your current needs, but 6GB is more future proof. Or, you could also consider 2x2GB in dual channel and add another 2x2 later.

For the G.Skill 1333s, make sure you get the CL7 version. G.Skill Pi Silvers are also good value.

Scythe Mugen 2 is also a good value for coolers. Don't forget MX-2 thermal paste.

+1 on Caviar Black 1TB drives.

For your sound card, do you need optical I/O to interface with the rest of your system? If so, then look at cards like the Azuntech Prelude (coaxial), X-Fi Titanium Fatality (Toslink), or maybe the Asus Xonar cards.

Definitely GTX 285 or higher.

You'll need an 850W PSU to power GTX 285s in SLI--Corsair 850TX or PCP&C 860W.

Remember to backup your music collection--might want to keep it on the 1st drive in a separate partition and then backup to the second drive.

On the horizon, I believe, is the P55 chipset and i7 dual cores with hyperthreading. If you're not a hardcore gamer, that might suit you as well.


Thanks Akebono98. Awesome reply. Lots of good info.

I was also thinking about the Cosmos 1000 or Cosmos S...I do like how they look, but I think I am leaning toward the CM HAF 932. The CM690 is enticing thought, for only $79.

I went with the UD5 after reading some reviews on NewEgg. Maybe I should just get a grip and go with the motherboard that fits my needs.

The red PC P&C PSU lists only EPS12V and not ATX12V. Will EPS12V work fine on the GB mobos?

I think I will stick with the 6GBs...thanks.

As for the audio card, I have been using my Creative Audigy 2 connected via the headphone output jack which was converted to a red/white audio connection (can't recall the proper naming...composite audio?) I am sure optical would be a better choice, less interference. I'll take a look at those cards as well. Thanks.

I don't think I will ever go SLI with the GTX285...I mean, I use an 8800GT now and mostly play RTS or turn-based games right now and am happy with the gameplay. I have my Xbox360 for my FPS shooters. My next PC game purchase will be Empire: Total War, just to give you an idea as to my gaming style.

I have my MP3 collection on a second drive in my PC and also back it up on an external drive every month or so. Thanks for the suggestion!

I will post a revised build, based on everyone's awesome advice.

Thanks again to all.

-Misfit14

February 14, 2009 7:33:43 PM

Total War series is very much processor and RAM based, so I think you'll be happy.


February 15, 2009 12:06:43 AM

Updated Components List: (All prices are from NewEgg)

CASE: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $159.99

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $239.99 after rebate

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail $289.99

PSU: PC Power & Cooling S75CF 750W EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail $79.99 after rebate

RAM: G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) CL9 - Retail $139.99

QUESTION: GSKILL CL7 (blue) or CL9 (red) model RAM? Akebono98 recommended the CL7, which has lower latency than the CL9, but is actually cheaper than the CL9. Why would that be? Also, GSKILL's website does not list the Gigabyte UD4P as being a compatible motherboard for the CL9 memory, only the UD5 and DS4. Any ideas?

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail $69.99

Graphics Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1281-AR GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 - Retail $334.99 after rebate

Hard Drives: OS Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $79.99
STORAGE: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM $129.99

DVD Reader/Writer: LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM $24.99

Mouse: Logitech G5 7 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Laser Mouse - Retail $49.99

Sound Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail $90.99
Comments: This may change...


Total Price: $1,690 plus tax and shipping

Took over $250 off my starting price of $1,950 AND improved performance. Thanks to all!

-Misfit14
February 15, 2009 12:48:33 AM

The red version is 1.5V, while the CL7 is listed as 1.5-1.6V.

You are seeing two different chips most likely from two different manufacturers, and the pricing reflects what G.Skill paid. It's possible the red version might have more overhead room for overclocking, but if I were picking I would likely go with the lower latency.
February 17, 2009 2:12:38 AM

+1 to Proximon

You have a beautiful build... just a couple of follow-up points:

The PSU spec is fine. You actually need EPS 12V--the required power connectors are 24-pin and 8-pin for the Gigabyte EX58 mobos (leaving the older 4-pin connector unused). Here is the technical read, if you're so inclined: Wikipedia link.

The Silencer 750 powers one GTX 285 just fine, and that GTX 285 is just fine for your style of gameplay.

The red/white connectors are called "RCA" (line level analog signal to pre-amp). If you run an optical out, then its digital signal goes into your external D/A converter, which is why it's so important to check connector type if you've already made a significant investment in a high-end D/A converter (that probably costs more than your entire rig here...).

The G.Skill prices have reversed as of the time of this post, so I guess that deal is now gone!

The UD4P was also released quite a bit after the two mobos that you mentioned, so it's possible that they haven't got around to updating that list yet--the 6 mobos in that list were basically the first X58 mobos released last November with the i7.

The UD4P mobo's BIOS should be able to recognize and auto-detect those RAM modules.

Chalk up another win for Tom's Hardware Forums!! :sol: 
February 17, 2009 2:28:12 AM

Akebono 98 said:
+1 to Proximon

You have a beautiful build... just a couple of follow-up points:

The PSU spec is fine. You actually need EPS 12V--the required power connectors are 24-pin and 8-pin for the Gigabyte EX58 mobos (leaving the older 4-pin connector unused). Here is the technical read, if you're so inclined: Wikipedia link.

The Silencer 750 powers one GTX 285 just fine, and that GTX 285 is just fine for your style of gameplay.

The red/white connectors are called "RCA" (line level analog signal to pre-amp). If you run an optical out, then its digital signal goes into your external D/A converter, which is why it's so important to check connector type if you've already made a significant investment in a high-end D/A converter (that probably costs more than your entire rig here...).

The G.Skill prices have reversed as of the time of this post, so I guess that deal is now gone!

The UD4P was also released quite a bit after the two mobos that you mentioned, so it's possible that they haven't got around to updating that list yet--the 6 mobos in that list were basically the first X58 mobos released last November with the i7.

The UD4P mobo's BIOS should be able to recognize and auto-detect those RAM modules.

Chalk up another win for Tom's Hardware Forums!! :sol: 


Thanks Akebono98! I will get the EPS12V PSU and the G.SKILL CL7 RAM.

If I wanted to go to SLI GTX 285s, how many watt PSU should I get? 1000W? (DISREGARD: Just saw your previous reply for 850 or 860W.)

RCA...duh, I knew that. Had a brain-fart.

These forums have been an outstanding help. Thanks to all for your input and sharing your knowledge.

-Misfit14
February 17, 2009 4:01:14 AM

The Cosmos S is not the greatest choice. I have one, and though nice, I had to remove its huge side fan to fit my cooler master V8. I have heard great things about the HAF 932 as mentioned above.
February 17, 2009 5:02:30 AM

I would change the PSU to Silverstone ST60F for the same price. It is modular, more efficient and still more than enough power.
!