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I7 build mid-range system for FSX ~$12-1500

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February 23, 2009 6:13:49 PM

Ok, so a buddy wants me to build him a system that can play FSX smoothly, with high details. He gave me a price range around 12-1500 depending on what I thought was worth the money. This is the list I put together and I would appreciate any input. I do plan on OC the i7 but probably only around 3.0 (a modest OC without raising the system noise and turning the room in to an oven)

The other big question is if he should purchase vista even though he would end up buying win7 later in the year... or stick with an already owned copy of XP until the end of the year (will xp support the 3x1GB sticks of ram?)

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
ASUS P6T Deluxe LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5
CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core
G.SKILL 3GB (3 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7T-3GBPK
Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366 Ready - Retail
2 X Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM

Total: $1362
February 23, 2009 6:31:55 PM

The Antec 300 is a little cramped for large GPU's, Look at the CM 690, it is much more spacious and has great cooling.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For the Mobo, you can get the P6T nondeluxe version and it will suit him just fine, the deluxe is mostly useful when you are trying to go for high overclocks
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And on the topic of overclocking, you can go higher than 3.0ghz and not turn the room into an oven, mine is at 3.5 and I don't notice any difference whether it is on or not...and it is very quiet too. I use the P6T non deluxe and achieved that overclock, I had it up to 3.8 but backed off because I didn't like the temps I got at that speed.

That PSU will be fine if he doesn't add another GPU later, but if he wants to keep that option open, then I suggest you go for this PSU instead. This PSU is also cheaper and of roughly the same quality (high).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Although if you were ok with spending $150 on a PSU, then I suggest going with the 850tx, out of stock at newegg temporarily:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would get a 6gb kit of memory, just because you get a lot more for your money than in a 3gb kit. Here is my suggestion:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here is the newer version of that HDD, it has a 32mb buffer which makes it about 5% faster, not sure if its worth it to you, but it would be to me:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get Vista home premium 64bit. I heard also that Microsoft will provide free upgrades to Windows 7 for vista users when windows 7 is available, so you might as well get it now.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The other selections look good, although you could fit a lot more in there with the $1500 budget, next upgrade I would suggest is a GTX 280 instead of the 4870.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
February 23, 2009 6:41:58 PM

Looks like a decent build.

with that cooler you should be able to oc the i7 a bit further than 3.0Ghz without gaining the ability to fry an egg on the case.

I wouldn't do the xp to 7 transition. I think it'd be better to step to vista and then to 7. less potential for compatibility issues...

good luck with the build!
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February 23, 2009 6:42:33 PM

Question: Does he want an i7 system, or just something that can play FSX? Because i7 is great for that, but so are much cheaper platforms, such as PII or C2Q. i7 is better if you are going to use the machine for things like video rendering or CAD or photoshop, but for just games you can get a lot more for your money if you go with an older platform, which will perform very similarly. i7 is very expensive because its new still.

Look at something like this for a better gaming experience at a cheaper price:
https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

Combo CPU and Mobo $20 off
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Free Stalker Game with GPU
$45 MIR
February 23, 2009 6:44:42 PM

Everything there looks fine but, triple channeling on xp, i have no clue on, i know vista 32 bit can't do it. So he might need Windows vista 64bit.

Would change the cooler to a S1283 with a socket 1366 retention bracket,

OCZ Titanium i think with tight timings (3x2gb) are pretty cheap.
February 23, 2009 7:03:43 PM

This is what I built last week for around $1500 - runs like a champ and has met all of my gaming expectations at 1900x1200. All bought at the egg. I second the CM 690 case - it cools well and looks stellar. The 3 default fans are near-silent at idele and are barely noticiable when the temperatures rise. The power supply I chose won best of Tom's hardware 2008 award. I am running the hdd's in RAID 1 for data security. My CPU is set at 3.6 stable and I have the GPU overclocked about 15% too. All stable. Corsair Dominator - just because it is Corsair and it smokes for oc'ing - rock solid too. The EasyTune 6 windows gui works well if you are inexperienced at oc'ing. I chose nVidia over AMD/ATI for GPU drivers - I chose eVGA because you cannot beat the warranty and customer service. The GPU model I purchased came with COD 5 too; though, I did have to contact the egg because it was not shipped with everything else.

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
SILVERSTONE ST70F 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory
Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366
Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive x2
EVGA 896-P3-1257-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
SABRENT CRW-UINB 68-in-1 USB 2.0 Internal Card Reader w/ USB 2.0 Port
SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner Black SATA Model
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders
Arctic Silver 5

Hope this helps.

February 23, 2009 10:44:43 PM

xthekidx said:
Question: Does he want an i7 system, or just something that can play FSX? Because i7 is great for that, but so are much cheaper platforms, such as PII or C2Q. i7 is better if you are going to use the machine for things like video rendering or CAD or photoshop, but for just games you can get a lot more for your money if you go with an older platform, which will perform very similarly. i7 is very expensive because its new still.

Look at something like this for a better gaming experience at a cheaper price:
https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

Combo CPU and Mobo $20 off
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Free Stalker Game with GPU
$45 MIR


Yea, he would prefer to have the latest stuff so long as it fits well within his budget.

You mentioned you were running the non deluxe version... what heatsync are you using for your system to get that OC? Some reviews on newegg seem to say that the MB and heatsync I chose could interfere with the RAM.
February 23, 2009 10:55:34 PM

@wstcoaster07

I could be wrong, but I am pretty sure xthekidx is running a CoolerMaster V8 for his stock cooler.
February 23, 2009 10:56:56 PM

I don't know why I said stock cooler...just...as his cooler.
February 24, 2009 12:09:55 AM

Yeah I'm using the CoolerMaster V8. My temps never get over 75C on any of my cores when I run full load on Prime95 for hours. During games my temps never rise over 59C. It works great. I'm not sure how well the Vigor Monsoon III LT fits on the P6T, but I can vouch for the V8, no problems.
February 24, 2009 12:53:51 AM

If I put vista 64bit on his system will he have trouble with compatibility issues and games? I don't want to be getting calls every day when he can't get things working correctly haha.

The dilemma is I hear vista wont be a free upgrade to 7 unless purchased after June.... but then if I put XP on there for him, will it even work utilizing the triple channel (or is there not a noticeable benefit of tripple vs dual channel?)
February 24, 2009 1:27:34 AM

You can run dual channel mode by just getting 2x2gb sticks and there isn't a huge difference, there is a little but not much.

He shouldn't have compatability issues with vista 64, unless he is using really old software...I would get it for two reasons: 1) security, Vista is much more secure than XP, I had xp on my last system and despite all my efforts I was constantly plagued by viruses and spyware...it drove me crazy. 2) DX10, new games look so much better on DX10, DX9 just looks bland by comparison IMO.
February 24, 2009 1:34:30 AM

Oh, have no doubt I would much rather put in Vista. I myself have used it since day one. But part of me also thinks that it is not worth spending the 180 on it and then upgrading to win7 in less than a year. According to most articles I have read, win7 will only be a free upgrade for users who make the purchase sometime after June.

I think in the end I will end up going with 3x2GB triple channel and vista 64 after I do a couple searches to see performance of fsx in vista 64 (if it is any worse)
February 24, 2009 4:32:57 PM

I just built something very similar for about $1,800 and it is working very well with FSX on Multiplayer running alll scenery and planes etc at High Resoltuion. Differences are Intel DX58SO MOB, Intel i7 Chip, Nvidia GeForce 9800 and Zalman Coooler on the chip. I went with the Antec Large case and 2 HD's, plenty of room for expansin in the future. 10 LED Fans and still very quiet! OS is Vista Ultimate 64 bit.

Mike
February 24, 2009 4:46:38 PM

@mhill67
Like many people on here will say, best to keep your name off of the forum.

@OP re:mhill67 I wouldn't go for an Intel reference board. The 9800 isn't the best valued card to go with at that price range, and 10 LED Fans...*heaves a sigh* Also, the Cooler Master V8 seems to be working rather nicely--helped a friend mount one a little while ago and it even looks good...in a case with 10 LED fans...
February 24, 2009 5:47:25 PM

mhill67 said:
I just built something very similar for about $1,800 and it is working very well with FSX on Multiplayer running alll scenery and planes etc at High Resoltuion. Differences are Intel DX58SO MOB, Intel i7 Chip, Nvidia GeForce 9800 and Zalman Coooler on the chip. I went with the Antec Large case and 2 HD's, plenty of room for expansin in the future. 10 LED Fans and still very quiet! OS is Vista Ultimate 64 bit.

Mike

You spent $1800 on an i7 rig and it only has an Nvidia 9800GT? You spent your money in all the wrong places, for $1800 you could have gotten a GTX 295 in there on a better mobo with a better cpu cooler.
February 24, 2009 5:50:38 PM

I'm not the biggest fan of the new Zalman coolers. There was a time I wouldn't have blinked to pick one up, but now they just seem pricey and loud...

Though back with the Venice and San Diego cores...they were a beaut.
February 25, 2009 9:36:32 PM

xthekidx said:
Don't pay $180 for vista, Pay $100
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I have only used Ultimate before... is there something he may be missing with home premium vs ultimate? I looked over the comparison lists online but just thought I would double check in case there was something I missed.

he will be using the PC for games, wireless networking/sharing, internet and possibly blu-ray in the future.
February 25, 2009 9:52:54 PM

IMO ultimate is only worthwhile for people who have their own private businesses. Its basically Home Premium and Business combined. But fax, remote access, and backup utilities aren't worth it IMO for the price. Also if you planned on installing more than 16gb of ram, then you would need ultimate 64 bit because Home premium will only recognize up to 16gb, but honestly who installs that much ram? You can only currently install up to 12gb of ram on the x58 chipset because 4gb sticks of DDR3 ram aren't available yet.
February 25, 2009 10:11:40 PM

Alright, thank you everyone for all of the recommendations, they were very helpful and many of them were followed. Here is the final list I came up with (still waiting for him to approve it and make the purchase)

Some changes made: changed out to home premium, swapped out cases, kept the deluxe MB (for the extra50$ nice to have the option for higher OC), changed the HS, took the newer HD's (didn't notice them on newegg, thanks for the tip).


Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM

SILVERSTONE ST70F 700W

ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black

SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W

OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

LG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner w/ SecurDisc

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


Anyway, I figure he should purchase the parts in the next day or two and I can get it built next week. If there is anything clearly wrong, you still have time to stop it haha.
!