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Building computer for first time, need help

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March 19, 2009 10:18:44 AM

Hi,

I'm building my first computer (attempting to make something that will play games for the next 5 years or so for <$2000, with the occasional upgrade), and I think I have most the components picked out. I guess I'm looking for any suggestions or warnings before I buy something that won't work (/work well)! Thanks!

Oh I don't plan on overclocking or anything like that so I was planning on just using the stock fans that come with the parts.


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

Motherboard *Updated
ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

Memory
OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK

Hard Drives (RAID 1)
2x Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Video Cards (Crossfire)
2x SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

Optical Drive **Updated
LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model GH22LS30
LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black IDE Model GH22LP20

Sound Card **Updated
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card

Power Supply *Updated
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply
Thermaltake Purepower W0121RU 600W ATX12V V2.0 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply

Case *Updated
Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Operating System
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders

Thanks again!

*Updated 3/19

More about : building computer time

March 19, 2009 10:49:59 AM

Well, first off, if you want this thing to last 5 years, you might want to consider overclocking at least a little bit. While a 2.6GHz i7 is fast, with some of the games that will probably come out by then, I don't know if it'll be fast enough to keep up. Maybe it will! Perhaps the video cards will make up for it with future offloading technologies :) 

Secondly, why RAID-1? It's good for a mirror image and only protects against a dead hard-drive, but if you get a virus or some other kind of data corruption, it will not protect against that. Thus, RAID-1 for personal use isn't a great idea. You would probably benefit more by just having one as a separate backup. That way if you do end up losing data to a virus or accidental delete, it won't transfer to your backup drive and you can do a quick restore, and you'll have twice the space!

Third, if you're going to have an i7, two 4870 cards, and two HDDs, I recommend at least a 750watt PSU. It looks like with your selection of parts, at 100% load, you'll be using 570watts which is beyond the recommended load for optimal efficiency on your current PSU. You would do better with something like a PC Power and Cooling 750 Quad. With that PSU, you won't have to do any load-balancing either because it's a single 60amp +12v rail. And if you do decide to overclock even slightly (the stock cooler is enough for 3 to 3.2GHz, depending on ambient temps), you'll definitely need the extra wattage.
March 19, 2009 11:02:27 AM

I originally was going to go with RAID-0, but a friend of mine talked me out of it, saying it would double the chances of a hard-drive going bad and me losing everything. I've had one hard-drive go bad on me in like 15 years, so I wasn't super concerned, but I would still get the additional read times (which I assume would be important when loading in games). I don't care much about the backups, to be honest. I also have a RAID-0 NAS on which I store all my photos etc. (things that need to be backed up).

Ok, I was concerned about the PSU. I used one of those PSU calculators and it came up at 467W for me, which didn't seem right. Thanks!

I figured I would overclock in the future and put additional cooling in at the same time. The room I'm putting it in gets fairly warm, and I didn't want to drop the extra money on fans etc now. I didn't know the stock fan was that good though.
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March 19, 2009 11:51:52 AM

Yea you will probably benefit from the additional read performance in loading games. But if you go with RAID-0, it's not that it doubles the chances that a drive will die (as if RAID-0 kills drives faster), but if one of the drives does fail, you lose the entire array. If you already have a backup drive you could safely RAID-0 and just backup your stuff on the NAS. That way you get read/write performance and double the space.

The stock HSF is not that bad. I had mine overclocked to 3.2GHz in a room at about 65F with stock and it ran relatively cool around 60C fully loaded. I did just upgrade to a Thermalright True Black with a 109CFM 120mm fan though, and my PSU comes in today so I can't wait to see how that performs. If your room is pretty warm, you could probably still do a 3GHz overclock without a problem. The biggest issue with overclocking and heat is when you start increasing the voltage, and at 3 or even 3.2GHz you won't be doing that, especially if you get a D0 stepping chip.

Good luck with your rig, sounds like a winner :) 
March 19, 2009 3:15:44 PM

I would consider the Asus P6T Deluxe V2 as you are looking to put in two video cards. It has superior spacing between the PCI-E slots. You probably don't need a Sound Card as motherboards nowadays come with pretty good on board sound. That is always a simple upgrade down the road if you decide you want one.

A Corsair 750TX would treat you well as far as PSUs go. Or you could go for an 850TX if you want a good overhead.

Also consider a larger case, especially for a dual card solution. Take the money you save by not getting a Sound Card and get a slightly bigger case for better airflow.
March 19, 2009 3:23:10 PM

Spend $300-$400 on a case/psu/dvd drive/HD and $600-700 on a mobo/ram/cpu/gpu now. Bank the rest, put it in a 2-3year GIC,Tbill,bond whatever. Upgrade when the investments have matured. Thats the only way a gaming budget has any chance of being useful after years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doom_3 Doom 3 came out in 2004 (5 years ago) and it crushed hardware.
http://www.anandtech.com/showdoc.aspx?i=2156&p=5 Read this Anandtech article and see what a top of the line system cost back then

Top of the line August 2004 Doom 3 box (doesn't include HD, DVD Drive, Case, PSU)
AMD Athlon 64 FX53 (2.4GHz) $825
MSI K8N Neo2 $120
Gigabyte GV-N68U256D 256MB GeForce 6800 Ultra $525
Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS (7.1) $80
2GB (2 X 1024MB) OCZ PC3200 EB $600
Total ~$2200 (not adjusting to account for inflation and spending power)

What does this system play now? Nothing, lol. But your upgrading along the way.

This is the best non-cripped i7 system:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... LGA 1366 i7 920 $290
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Giga UD3R X58 $210 - $15MIR (xfire)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... OCZ DDR3 1600 3x2GB $110 - $20MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... LG DVD Drive $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... WD 1TB FALS $120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Antec 300 Case $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... OCZ 600W PSU $70 - $20MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=P... 1GB 4870 $200 - $30MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 6pin adapters $3 x2
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Xigma Dark Knight $40 (Intel specific)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Artic MX-2 Thermal Compound $7

$1130 - $85MIR

Add a second 4870 a year from now when they are $100.
The PSU could use an upgrade to http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... PCP&C 750W $125 - $25MIR 4x6pin.
The motherboard could be upgraded to either:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Asus P6T x58 $240 (SLI/xfire)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Giga UD4P x58 $270 - $20MIR (SLI/xfire)
Just so you have nvidia and ati support.

Good Combos if you want a beefire GPU and SLI/xfire support:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Gigabyte UD4P and GTX 285 $580 - $50MIR ($30 combo discount)
If you want a better case at a discount price:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... CM Storm Sniper with i7920 $410 ($30 combo discount)
March 19, 2009 10:07:36 PM

Ok, I just upgraded the Case, PSU, and Motherboard. Thanks for the feedback! Everything look good now? I'm right at my budget.

The sound card is pretty cheap (36 bucks), and I have the 7.1 speakers already (on the computer I'm replacing), so I think it would be silly not to spend the extra cash (<2% of the total cost).
March 19, 2009 10:14:19 PM

The onboard does 7.1 as well. I don't trust creative sound cards. Up until recently, I always support sound blaster/creative sound but their support has always been garbage. From supporting new OS, driver support, to remeding issues in games and having good support for their tech.

I've found that onboard sound has always been a hassle free experience, while the card maybe cheap it probably give little return and potenial headache in the future.
March 19, 2009 10:36:26 PM

You'll want to be sure to get a SATA DVD burner instead of the IDE one you have listed.
March 19, 2009 10:40:09 PM

I have heard of strange driver problems with some sound cards. I agree with MykC on trying the onboard 7.1 sound first. Any cpu savings on an i7 cpu will be negligible. Installing an add-on card later will make certain that any new problems are related to the sound card and not the basic build. Who knows, it might work just fine for you.

I would not start off with a crossfire configuration when there are single card options available at similar performance. Use a single 4870X2 instead, or even a single GTX285 or GTX295.
At upgrade time, you then have choices; either add another equal card, or sell your old top end card and replace it whith the then newest and greatest.

It is not clear to me that raid-1 will help performance. Writes, such as automatic saves will be slower. Reading from a single task might not be faster.
If 300gb will do, look into the WD velociraptor. It is currently the fastest conventional drive around.

Alternatively look at the intel X25-M SSD

I would install a decent oem cpu cooler during the initial build. It does not cost much. I hate to remove a mobo later from a working system to reinstall a cpu.
Your system will run cooler, and quieter. Any overclocking you may want(3.3?) will be easy with an oem cooler.
March 20, 2009 6:05:55 AM

don't forget to plug in the psu
March 20, 2009 7:40:48 AM

wow whos the loser who gave me a thumb down for giving advice
March 20, 2009 1:26:36 PM

Onboard sound is OK if you don't care about quality. I moved from my onboard sound to an X-Fi Gamer (using Vista Ultimate 64) and have noticed a huge improvement in sound quality.
March 20, 2009 11:42:12 PM

Well I'll probably hit purchase on newegg monday morning. Thanks for all the help! I'll probably post again when I have problems putting it together lol.
!