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New build for gaming and 3D work

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March 16, 2009 1:30:34 AM

I've upgraded my PCs over the years but never built one from scratch, so this is quite new to me. I need a machine for gaming and working in apps like Maya, as well as doing a bit of video editing. My budget's around £700, excluding any peripherals which I already have; the budget is quite flexible though. I don't want to spend money for the sake of it, if I can get an adequate rig for £600 that's a bonus, and likewise I'd go higher if there's a good enough reason.

I do intend to overclock the CPU and GPU, but probably just using the manufacturer's software, and then only moderately, I don't want to risk frying components. Will I need extra cooling? I also want the whole system to be relatively quiet, my current pc annoys me in that respect so that's an important factor.

I do want to be relatively future-proof, so that in say 2 years I could upgrade the CPU and GPU. The rest of it I'd like to last 4-5 years.

Here's my first stab at a spec. I'm in the UK and all of this is from http://www.ebuyer.com/

Hiper Osiris Black Aluminium Mid Tower Case with 3x 120mm Fans £95.52

Corsair 520W HX Series Modular PSU - ATX12V v2.2 APFC £76.94

Asus P5Q PRO P45 Socket 775 8 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard £112.73

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 £158.99

Corsair 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5 £34.99

Western Digital 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache £79.99 x2 £159.98

LiteOn LH-20A1H 20x DVD±RW-RAM DL Lightscribe IDE Int Black - Bare Drive £14.99

Total = £759.12

I have most doubts about the motherboard. There are far cheaper ones out there but I mainly went for this as it has the option for Crossfire, which may be a good way to upgrade the GPU when I could get a 2nd 4830 very cheaply in say 6-12 months time? Will then the PSU be big enough at 520W? I like having 2 hard drives for safety's sake, one as backup in case the other dies, and I always use a hell of a lot of space anyway.

Any thoughts please?

More about : build gaming work

March 16, 2009 2:09:56 AM

520w is light for Crossfire...I would be looking at 750w. And what's with the EIDE drive? Buy a SATA... EIDE cables block your airflow, not to mention they are old technology and a pain in the arse to install.
March 16, 2009 2:15:35 AM

I dont know if it is for you in your area but, on newegg the Q8200 is about 20dollars cheaper or more than the Q6600.

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March 16, 2009 4:04:39 AM

If your looking for a platform that has some shot at a decent CPU upgrade in 2 years you'll need to start with an AM3 board or an i7 platform. The LGA775 socket is on its last legs, I don't think it has any more CPUs on Intel's roadmap.

Intel i7 920 with an x58 board and 6GB DDR3 is about $600-700 US
AMD Phenom II 940BE with an AM3 board and 4GB DDR3 is about $400-500US
March 16, 2009 4:12:37 AM

MykC said:
If your looking for a platform that has some shot at a decent CPU upgrade in 2 years you'll need to start with an AM3 board or an i7 platform. The LGA775 socket is on its last legs, I don't think it has any more CPUs on Intel's roadmap.

Intel i7 920 with an x58 board and 6GB DDR3 is about $600-700 US
AMD Phenom II 940BE with an AM3 board and 4GB DDR3 is about $400-500US


You can get an i7 cpu and X58 mobo on newegg for well under $600 now. Gigabyte, and MSI both offer more than a few boards now at the $200 range.
March 16, 2009 10:14:42 AM

Why_Me said:
And what's with the EIDE drive? Buy a SATA... EIDE cables block your airflow, not to mention they are old technology and a pain in the arse to install.


Hadn't realised that was EIDE, have found a Sony SATA drive for pretty much the same price.
March 16, 2009 11:25:36 AM

MykC said:
If your looking for a platform that has some shot at a decent CPU upgrade in 2 years you'll need to start with an AM3 board or an i7 platform. The LGA775 socket is on its last legs, I don't think it has any more CPUs on Intel's roadmap.

Intel i7 920 with an x58 board and 6GB DDR3 is about $600-700 US
AMD Phenom II 940BE with an AM3 board and 4GB DDR3 is about $400-500US


I could change to this i7 setup for an extra £225 ($320), quite a lot but worth it if the motherboard and RAM will last a few more years?

Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R iX58 Socket 1366 7.1 Channel Audio ATX Motherboard £176.21

Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz Socket 1366 8MB Cache Retail Boxed Processor £270.57

Corsair 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz XMS3 Memory CL9(9-9-9-24) £85.52

I'll look up an AMD alternative later, haven't got time now and haven't done much research at all into AMD lines since they seemed to still be at a disadvantage. Might be worth it if they're cheaper than i7 and more upgradeable than S775 though.
March 16, 2009 11:31:17 AM

xthekidx said:
This PSU would be sufficient for 2x4850's, 50A on the 12v rails
http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

Do you really want modular PSU? zipties will be fine to tie up those extra cables and will save you a lot of money.


I upgraded the PSU on my current rig and have so many leftover cables clogging up the system I think it's blocking the airflow; it's got much noisier since then. I suppose I could tie them up better but just as a personal preference I like the idea of a modular PSU, willing to spend a bit more to get that.

I might work out the rest of my spec before I settle on the size of the PSU as it keeps changing at the moment. Overlockers looks a useful site though, I'll compare prices on there and eBuyer before I buy, thanks.
March 16, 2009 12:08:44 PM

If you get an i7 build with that money, it wouldn't be worth it, it would take up to $1500+ in u.s.a dollars, probably a little less than that in your area. Would get a quote on a AMD build because it's more of the alternative against the i7 for budget builders. Still, i am choosing the Q8200 on this one for the price it is sitting at over the Q6600 + its 45nm over the q6600 65nm and the Q6600 is sitting about $30 dollars more. Hopefully you can find this in your area for the same deal.

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP...
Q8200


http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CP...
Q6600
March 16, 2009 9:16:53 PM

I see your point about the Q8200 being the better option than Q6600, but now I'm worried about the upgrading of the machine down the line. It sounds as if socket 775 is on it's way out so i7 is far more future proof. But the i7 build I came up with came to £990; this isn't impossible but is more than I was planning to spend.

I quite like the look of the AMD Phenom II X3 720, only £128 and lots of room to overclock apparently. But if I want this build to last, will I need an AM3 board? Then there's not much of a saving over the i7 except the CPU is half price, AM3 boards seem to be just as expensive as X58 over here and I'm still tied to the pricey DDR3 memory. Can I get away with using an AM2+ board with DDR2? Or will the newer processors coming out in 1-2 years not be compatible with this?
March 16, 2009 9:33:49 PM

Yeah you can use it in a DDR2 AM2+ board just fine, AMD isn't quite sure the DDR3 option is fully baked yet. All the CPU's that AMD puts out this year will be compatible with AM2+ mobo's.
March 17, 2009 12:54:54 AM

Yes, They made AM3 cpu's able to run on either boards, suppose to be easier for the buyers when there on there budget plan. AM2+ board + x3 720BE + DDR2 800(mushkin or PI black preferrably).
You did a good job picking the 720 because its a tri-core, mainly for gaming.

This will be a good budget build for you. It will open windows for the full set of am3 later on.
March 17, 2009 1:27:55 AM

Ok, I've decided to trim the build further by forgetting about Crossfire/SLI further down the line. It doesn't seem to give enough of a performance boost in a lot of applications, so I'll stick to one GPU and just replace it every 18 months with a new mid-range card. This way I've been able to save £40 on the motherboard, and maybe £25 on the PSU. And I won't have to worry about the extra heat/noise from having 2 GPUs in there.

Also went for a 500GB system drive with a 1TB data drive, 2TB was probably overkill.

So....latest build spec:

Hiper Osiris Black Aluminium Mid Tower Case with 3x 120mm Fans £95.52

OCZ 500W Mod XStream Pro PSU - 2x PCI-E 6x SATA £59.34

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H 780G Socket AM2+ onboard VGA 8 channel audio mATX Motherboard £66.45

AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3 6MB L3 Cache Retail Boxed Processor £128.23

Corsair 4GB Kit (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400 XMS2 Memory Non-ECC Unbuffered CL5 Lifetime Warranty
(I couldn't find Mushkin or PI for sale over here. Should I spend a bit extra to get PC2-8500 from either Corsair or OCZ though? I can't find any benchmarks to compare these) £35.00

Sapphire HD 4830 1GB GDDR3 Dual DVI HDTV Out PCI-E Graphics Card (I'm choosing this over a 512mb 4850 card for the same price, tell me if I'm wrong) £104.99

Seagate ST3500320AS 500GB Hard Drive SATA II 7200rpm *32MB Cache* - OEM £48.49

Western Digital 1TB Hard Drive SATAII 7200rpm 32MB Cache - OEM Green Power £79.99

Sony DRU-860S 22X DVD±RW DL & DVD-RAM Serial ATA Black Drive - Retail With Nero £17.99

Grand total = £636.00

The case is rather a big expense at £95, but I'm thinking it's one of the few items that won't go out of date any time soon. Received a good review from this site I believe.
March 17, 2009 1:35:47 AM

Really wouldn't go for seagate at all on 500gb. Not impressive, i swapped mine out for a wd not to long ago, very bad reviews on there firmware.

Corsair isnt a bad ram, just there is some out there that have more hmph.

March 17, 2009 10:42:59 PM

Did a bit of research into it and the Seagate did look a bit rubbish. Changed it to a 500GB WD Caviar Black to use as my system drive, keeping a 1TB Caviar Green as pure storage. I think I'm happy with the RAM but may pick up something fancier if there's a deal on when I order.

Rest of the spec I'm ok with. Just need to check I'm getting the right motherboard, this one was chosen bascially from specs on ebuyer, haven't seen reviews. And slightly worried whether the cables on the PSU will be long enough given that I'm using a case with a bottom mounted PSU slot, apparently it can be a problem.

Thanks for all the help!
March 17, 2009 11:03:54 PM

Try to get the WD6401AALS, its the 640gb caviar black drive. It has more storage space and it will be faster than the 500gb model because of platter density.
March 17, 2009 11:11:33 PM

Found the 640 for £5 more from another store. is the 750GB also faster? A few more pounds again but available at the store I'm using for everything else so might save on delivery.
March 17, 2009 11:17:50 PM

the 1tb and 640gb are faster. They use 320/333 gb platters, wheres the 500 and 750 use 250gb platters. I'd go with the 640 unless you can shell out the extra cash for the 1tb
March 17, 2009 11:30:21 PM

There is some fancier ram that just dropped back down on price to the same as the corsair but, no m-i-r and there is free shipping. Hopefully you can find them

Don't think you can get them in your area though, :/  hmmm.

there G.Skill PI Black 4-4-4-12 for $44.99
March 17, 2009 11:33:13 PM

Ah I see. Will keep the 640GB saved at the other shop. Might end up ordering bits and pieces from both if it makes money sense. Cheers.
March 19, 2009 1:43:40 AM

This is the final spec. It's 2am and I've ordered it now so set in stone, it's all well researched though. I took on board recommendations from you guys so thanks for that. Been a bit more stubborn with others but have read a lot of well respected websites in the last few days on these and I stand by them.

Final price includes Vista and a couple of cooling goodies so it's a bit inflated from the original spec. Individual prices are ex vat if they look a little cheap.

Antec 300 Three Hundred Ultimate Gaming Case - Black (No PSU) £43.99 (this was a late change, first choice was out of stock. But this is half the price and looks good value)

OCZ ModXStream Pro 500w Silent SLI Ready ATX2 Modular Power Supply £49.99

Biostar TSeries TA790GX 128M AMD 790GX (Socket AM2+) DDR2 Motherboard £67.99

AMD Phenom II X3 Tri Core 720 Black Edition 2.8GHz (Socket AM3) - £104.99

Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 X 2GB) DDR2 8500C5 1066MHz Dual Channel Kit (KHX8500D2K2/4G) £33.90
5-5-5-15 timings, best I could get FullMetall!

XFX Radeon HD 4850 512MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI (PCI-Express) - £97.99

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-Bit - OEM (66I-01939) £79.99

Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB SATA-II 32MB Cache - OEM (WD6401AALS) £54.99 (system drive)

Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB SATA-II 32MB Cache - OEM (WD10EADS) £72.99 (low speed/noise storage)

Samsung SH-S223F/BEBE 22x DVD±RW SATA Dual Layer ReWriter (Black) - OEM £13.99

Akasa AK-876 CPU Cooler (Socket 754/939/940/AM2) £12.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound (3.5g) £5.99

Total = £639.79

Total inc VAT = £759.33
!