Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

WEIGH IN: May.09 System Builder Marathon ~$1250 MicroATX components - Page 2

Last response: in Systems
Share
April 9, 2009 9:58:06 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Building an AMD system on a microATX board proves difficult if you're looking to get the SB750 to maximize your overclock. None of the microATX boards by Gigabyte or Asus currently available on newegg use the SB750. This one probably wouldn't be bad:

BIOSTAR TA790GX XE AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But only 1 PCIEx16 slot...which means no xfire, if that was an objective of the build. If just going for the AMD build to save $$, then it would be a good option, but if the point of going AMD was so that you could afford a better graphics solution, that won't work since the GTX 295 is the top dog, and the Q9550 is better than the PII 940 and will fit the budget.
April 9, 2009 10:00:38 PM

cleeve said:
No feedback on the watercooling idea?

How would watercooling work on a mATX case? Are you thinking of an external radiator? Kinda defeats the purpose doesn't it? I have no idea how that would look...has anyone ever tried to do WC on a SFF PC before?
April 9, 2009 10:01:20 PM

xthekidx said:
But only 1 PCIEx16 slot...which means no xfire, if that was an objective of the build. If just going for the AMD build to save $$, then it would be a good option, but if the point of going AMD was so that you could afford a better graphics solution, that won't work since the GTX 295 is the top dog, and the Q9550 is better than the PII 940 and will fit the budget.

Are there any microATX motherboards that support crossfire available? I wasn't aware of any, but of course I may be mistaken.
Related resources
April 9, 2009 10:02:29 PM

Only x58 as far as I know.
April 9, 2009 10:05:59 PM

cleeve said:
Heheh, your post about the Biostar beat mine.

I'd like the 790GX but Biostar has been hit and miss with me. I like them for the price but I've experienced some Biostar quirks in the past. I'm going to do a little more research before pulling the trigger, but everybody thanks for your input!

Maybe I should save a couple bucks and get a Phenom II X3 - and try to unlock it with the 790GX BIOS feature... :D 

No feedback on the watercooling idea?

You're right about Biostar. I would always choose a Gigabyte board over Biostar. The reason I suggested the Biostar board is because of the SB750. If you're serious about overclocking the 940, you really should get a SB750 board.
April 9, 2009 10:58:14 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Are there any microATX motherboards that support crossfire available? I wasn't aware of any, but of course I may be mistaken.

DFI LP JR 790GX-M2RS AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX supports 8x-8x crossfire, plus it has the SB750.

I agree with xthekidx, choosing the PII 940 over the Q9550 makes sense if it allows you to spend more on the graphics card. But if you can get a GTX 295 AND the Q9550 within the budget, I'm all for that.

Cleeve... every time you guys add water cooling to the SMB you stir up a hornets nest about wasting money after the article is published. Keep that in mind.
April 9, 2009 11:38:47 PM

It seems to me that building in a micro-ATX for performance only makes sense if it is a gamer, as wanting portability for LAN parties is the only justification I can think of for the size constraint. Therefor I think it would be entirely reasonable to consider only gaming benchmarks for this month's SBM. Although you don't want [too bad of] a processor bottleneck, I think you can focus almost entirely on the GPU(s), and add fans (including a PCI slot fan, if there's room) to deal with the heat.
Consider also, that the biggest monitor you're likely to lug to a LAN party is one of those 19" 1680x1050 models.
April 9, 2009 11:47:38 PM

Onus said:
It seems to me that building in a micro-ATX for performance only makes sense if it is a gamer, as wanting portability for LAN parties is the only justification I can think of for the size constraint. Therefor I think it would be entirely reasonable to consider only gaming benchmarks for this month's SBM. Although you don't want [too bad of] a processor bottleneck, I think you can focus almost entirely on the GPU(s), and add fans (including a PCI slot fan, if there's room) to deal with the heat.
Consider also, that the biggest monitor you're likely to lug to a LAN party is one of those 19" 1680x1050 models.

Exactly. This build is a highly specialized build and as such the broad spectrum benchmarking view isn't really appropriate I don't think. Gaming quality what is important with this build. Only a gamer would consider a build of this nature, and will not likely be interested in the productivity benchmarks. You should still run those benchmarks when writing the article, but I wouldn't be too concerned about them.
April 10, 2009 1:05:10 AM

Well my first reaction is that for a mid-budget lanbox AMD X3 or X4 is the way to go, though the lack of motherboard options is troubling.

But consider this: If you can stomach a cut in the graphics department, say downgrading to the GTX 285/275 or HD 4890, you could build an i7 rig based on the DFI LanParty X58 JR, which has two PCI-E 2.0 X16 slots, leaving the possibility of a dual card upgrade open.
April 10, 2009 1:10:53 AM

I don't really think that upgrade paths is really the focus of the SBM, more what's the best you can do with a given budget.

And if I were building an i7 mATX, I think I would go with the Asus Rampage II GENE mainboard.
April 10, 2009 6:13:38 AM

After the quad and gfx card heat up a silverstone Sugo will melt .

Why not use a TJ 08 which has about 20% more volume and decent cooling thanks to a pair of 120 mm fans ?
April 10, 2009 6:54:55 AM

Yeah when I took a look at the sugo, it appears that it relies pretty heavily on passive cooling...only has 1 80mm fan to blow on the HDD's, and then just side vents. If you go with the Sugo case, you may need to mod it a bit to handle a pair of 120mm fans to keep it cooled sufficiently.
April 10, 2009 4:37:53 PM

Big Rethink!

First off, I was adding fans to the SUGO and it started getting expensive. Then I was having trouble finding a great CPU cooler for the damn thing because the PSU is on top of the CPU. So I smartened up and decided the SUGO isn't worth it, I'll go with the TJ08 as suggested by the wise outlander_04. It let's me use a nice, bug CPU cooler, too.

---

Speaking of CPU coolers, I've temntatively selected the Zalman CNPS 9500. Any comments?

I've also added two 20db Scythe S-FLEX coolers to the list to replace the stock coolers for silence.

---

As for the CPU... what would you guys think of the Phenom II X3 720 Black edition for $135?

From what I've seen the quad cores won't get much of an advantage over the duals - especially in gaming - and there's a good chance the DFI 790GX board (thanks for finding that rwpritchett) will let the forth core get unlocked. Black edition might help with the unlocked multiplier, too.

or should I stick with the safe bet, the Phenom II X4 940? For now I've got the X3 in the list, it might be a bogus call on my part but it lets me stick well within the budget with the more expensive case, fans, and DFI 790GX motherboard. If you guys think I should stick with the 940 (or even revisit the Q9550) let me know.

---


here's the shopping list so far:


https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...
April 10, 2009 4:46:53 PM

If I was building an mATX I'd use a Lian Li V351.
April 10, 2009 5:01:11 PM

bmuell said:
If I was building an mATX I'd use a Lian Li V351.


The V351 is a great case, but looks a little big to drag around to a LAN party. For $100 I'm happy with the Silverstone.
April 10, 2009 6:21:46 PM

Edit: @Big Rethink!

OK, Much better!

I think the Phenom II X3 720 Black edition fits the budget and for gaming. I don't think you would notice any difference with the Phenom II X4 940.

The DFI is a AM2+/AM2 Board, will you have to flash with an AM2+/AM2 CPU for the AM3 Phenom II X3 720 to work?

Never mind, I answered my own question.
http://www.dfi.com.tw/portal/CM/cmproduct/XX_cmproddeta...
April 10, 2009 6:30:15 PM

The TJ08 has 2 120mm fans already, and I didn't see any places to mount more...unless you are planning on doing some kind of case modding. The ones you are looking at getting are probably going to be just as good as the ones already mounted in the case, (both 120mm 1200rpm fans, 20 and 21db, probably both around 50cfm). Is it worth $30 for fans that will probably be identical performance wise? I know you said you wanted silence, but they are pretty close in noise level.

I think the 940 is a better option in there personally. You don't need the 2 PCIEx16 slots of the DFI board so I would drop it for a different mATX board so you can get the 940. Unlocking the 4th core isn't a sure thing on the 720's and even if you do I don't think it will allow you to OC very high...if that 4th core was a solid core I think AMD would have sold the chip as a PII 920 instead of a 720. From what I have seen the 940's can also overclock a bit higher than the 720's, I haven't seen any 720's >4ghz but I have seen a couple 940's. That's my 2 cents.
April 10, 2009 7:01:05 PM

Without the fans on the wish list and exchange the 920 for the 940 it adds $40.00 to the build.
April 10, 2009 7:10:07 PM

I think I would change the mobo to this too:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
to allow for the 940. I know its a biostar, but I think it should do alright and it has all the features needed for this build, at $50 cheaper than the DFI.

The 720 I am sure will not disappoint, but I think the 940 can fit in that budget and would be a better option.
April 10, 2009 7:11:57 PM

xthekidx said:
You don't need the 2 PCIEx16 slots of the DFI board so I would drop it for a different mATX board so you can get the 940.


Yeah, but I'd like the 790GX chipset for overclocking goodness, and the only other MicroATX board i can find with the 790GX is a Biostar. And while I like Biostar for price/performance, I don't like relying on them for overclocking. DFI has been good to me in that respect.

CNPS 9700: good idea, done.

I had picked those fans because of the good silence reputation to replace the ones in case, but you're right - it's a bit frivolous so I'll yank them.


As far as the Phenom II X4 940 vs. the X3 720, well, any more opinions? So far I've got one 'for' the PhII X3 and one 'against' the PhII X3

I can do the 940 and just raise the budget up a little bit so that's not too much of a concern. What would you guys rather see?
April 10, 2009 7:20:42 PM

I think at this price point the 940 makes more sense. I would rather see the 720 in a $800 - $1,000 build.

I'm also still trying to figure out why the SILVERSTONE RL-FX121 Case Fan is in there. It might make sense for a slim case, but it's just wasting $20 of the budget IMO.
April 10, 2009 7:24:07 PM

shortstuff_mt said:

I'm also still trying to figure out why the SILVERSTONE RL-FX121 Case Fan is in there. It might make sense for a slim case, but it's just wasting $20 of the budget IMO.


We'll, regardless of how smart it is, overclocking will still be part of the article. If there's a spot for a fan in the case I'd be happier spending the $20 and not needing it than i would finding out my temps were too high and there's nothing much I can do about it.

For $20 that's worth it to me, but if you guys don't think it's worth the $20 let me know.


So far it's knotnut for the X3 720, and thekid & shortstuff for the X4 940. Any other votes before we make a decision?
April 10, 2009 7:32:44 PM

WD6401AALS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $70 (faster and cheaper than the 750gb Caviar black)
If you made that change and got rid of the extra case fans/slim case fan, then you can meet the original budget with the DFI lanparty MB and 940 BE. I think the 14CFM moved by the slim silverstone case fan is hardly worth $19.
April 10, 2009 7:33:01 PM

cleeve said:
Yeah, but I'd like the 790GX chipset for overclocking goodness, and the only other MicroATX board i can find with the 790GX is a Biostar. And while I like Biostar for price/performance, I don't like relying on them for overclocking. DFI has been good to me in that respect.

CNPS 9700: good idea, done.

I had picked those fans because of the good silence reputation to replace the ones in case, but you're right - it's a bit frivolous so I'll yank them.


As far as the Phenom II X4 940 vs. the X3 720, well, any more opinions? So far I've got one 'for' the PhII X3 and one 'against' the PhII X3

I can do the 940 and just raise the budget up a little bit so that's not too much of a concern. What would you guys rather see?


The 940 is going to be way more popular with the readers and Gamers alike.
The 920 fit your budget.

Edit: I meant 720

If you are going to blow out the budget then I'm going with the i7 920 and ASUS Rampage II GENE.

That puts you back almost to the starting point.
April 10, 2009 7:35:19 PM

xthekidx said:
WD6401AALS: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $70 (faster and cheaper than the 750gb Caviar black)
If you made that change and got rid of the extra case fans/slim case fan, then you can meet the original budget with the DFI lanparty MB and 940 BE. I think the 14CFM moved by the slim silverstone case fan is hardly worth $19.

I completely agree with xthekidx.
April 10, 2009 7:38:44 PM

I think you might also want to step up the RAM to DDR2 1066 since AMD chips actually benefit from the additional bandwidth.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

We've been down this road before on this whole HD thing. Spending an extra $20 to get the slower 750GB drive isn't going to go over very well. The WD6401AALS is a steal at $70.
April 10, 2009 7:46:48 PM

Alright, sounds like a plan. I replaced the drive with the 640GB caviar and replaced the X3 with the X4 940. Also got rid of the radial fan.

I should point out that $1250 isn't a hard line by any means, just a rough guide. If it costed $100 more to get a much better system, then that's what i would've done. We're at $1263, and that's a number I can live with.

This in mind, I'm not going to sweat the $6 we'd save by getting rid of the lightscribe drive because I've used it and have an affinity for it. Whoever is building their own system will likely choose whatever drive they fancy anyway.

Here's the list:

https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...

Are we good?
April 10, 2009 7:48:23 PM

So does everything have to come from newegg? I found a PNY [:/ I know no one's favorite brand] GTX 295 for under $500, which definitely makes the budget work...its like $503 with shipping.
http://www.directron.com/vcggtx295xpb.html
April 10, 2009 7:49:14 PM

I like it.
April 10, 2009 7:56:40 PM

xthekidx said:
So does everything have to come from newegg? I found a PNY [:/] GTX 295 for under $500, which definitely makes the budget work...its like $503 with shipping.
http://www.directron.com/vcggtx295xpb.html


Good deal!

But yeah, logistically and realistically it makes more sense to get everything from Newegg.

There's a PNY GTX 295 available now for $519 though, so we're down to $1257.
April 10, 2009 7:57:20 PM

xthekidx said:
You don't see the price difference of $215 vs $280 a compelling argument? :heink:  I think that money is put to better use elsewhere, but I guess that's just me.


http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=Q9550 $265.99 Free Ground Shipping
Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q9550 2.83GHz 1333MHz 12MB LGA775 CPU, OEM
April 10, 2009 8:02:17 PM

I haven't quite read through the entire thread, but I'll point out a few things for you Cleeve.

Most of the folks asking for Phenom II were solidly Intel about two months ago, but we all got slowly sold on Deneb.

Many of the early comparisons of PII and C2Q missed one point: AMD handles higher frequency DRAM better than Intel.

So, when you bench the two systems with 1066 RAM they tend to get closer. That said, I don't think there is a clear winner. AMD and Intel chipsets compete very well, with 790GX perhaps just a bit more pricey than P45.

Also, I like the idea of a smaller more portable build as a change. Not sure how much clearance you have, but the Scythe Zipang
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=224...
Is quiet and cools well. It's low profile although it may not be low enough.
Newegg is out atm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Watercooling will add a bit of weight to your build, so I think you have to decide between a smaller footprint build or a full sized build.
April 10, 2009 8:08:57 PM

I agree, nice!
Are you sticking with the DDR2-800?

Edit: I was typing while Proximon was posting
April 10, 2009 8:13:04 PM

Ok so now I'm going to play devils advocate...:p 

So cleeve you said that you would go for something if it was much better for $100 more... What about something like this (I really do think the PII build is excellent and a better deal for the money, but just for sh*ts and giggles...)
https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...
I think those OC'd GTX 260's (14% core OC) will go neck and neck with a GTX 295, if not beat it. Pretty sure you can pick up a LGA 1366 mounting bracket for the cooler around $10.
April 10, 2009 8:15:27 PM

That looks like 3 votes so far to up the RAM to DDR2 1066. You're really not doing the AMD chip justice sticking with DDR2 800 RAM.
April 10, 2009 8:16:49 PM

Ah well, I finished reading now, looks like you solved most of that.

We stopped recommending the Sunbeam CCTF because on P45 builds, the clips it uses are too difficult with the NB chipset heatsink in the way.

790GX doesn't have that problem however, and the Sunbeam would make an excellent CPU cooler:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Comes with paste as well. It's higher rated than the Zalman for cooling, although all the copper looks nice.
April 10, 2009 8:27:42 PM

I say DDR2-1066 ram as well for the PII.
April 10, 2009 8:45:17 PM

cleeve said:
The V351 is a great case, but looks a little big to drag around to a LAN party. For $100 I'm happy with the Silverstone.

Well, it's not shoebox size, but I think it's definitely small enough to lug around. If you go much smaller, temps start to suffer. The Lian Li has dual front mounted 120mm@1000RPM fans and is 100% aluminum.
April 10, 2009 8:49:04 PM

Hmmm another factor on the Zalman cooler. IT"S HEAVY! If you are making a LAN box, you really don't want that cooler sitting there on your board bouncing around and stressing the socket.
April 10, 2009 9:07:42 PM

That's a lot of money on a case. I built the machine my wife took to her brother's family in El Salvador in this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168.... You would of course need to add the front fan. I'd use this case again in a heartbeat.
Incidentally, I agree you may not want a huge heavy CPU cooler in a LAN box. The Ninja mini has good performance and is quiet, per Frostytech.
And I'm really looking forward to reading about this system.
April 11, 2009 5:08:23 AM

xthekidx said:
Ok so now I'm going to play devils advocate...:p 


Oh my god dude, let me tell you something: two GTX 260's in SLI is a stroke of genius. SLI never really occurred to me because my head was wrapped around intel Core 2 and AMD chipsets and I didn't think MicroATX would be a good fit, but the X58 is perfect and the silverstone case looks like it can handle it without a problem.

I was told I could up the budget a little if it made sense to do so, and I can tack it in right at $1300 with the following Core i7 tweaks:

https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.as...


Essentially I used some cheaper GTX 260 cards with a slight overclock, I added the Xigmatek Dark Knight cooler (big, effective, and under 700 grams) and LGA1366 retention bracket for more stability when moving around.

I think it'll whallop the Phenom II system on all counts. I reckon a single 295 won't show much if any improvement over a couple factory overclocked 260's, but that i7 will sure help in just about everything else, and maybe even some CPU-dependant game titles.

I can't think of any good reasons to go with the Phenom II 940 system over this one for a $50 budget diffrence. Am I missing something? To me, it's a slam-dunk.
April 11, 2009 5:24:12 AM

You don't need the separate Xigmatek mounting kit. The Dark Knight comes with it.

I'm not so sure the 650TX will have much headroom with SLI GTX 260's. It also doesn't have the required PCI-E power connectors. Each GTX 260 needs 2 6-pin PCI-E connectors. The 650TX only comes with a total of 2. You'll probably need to step up to the 750TX unless you want to use some cheesy adapters and push the PSU to the limit.
April 11, 2009 6:54:59 AM

Yeah shortstuff, I was wondering about the PSU. I don't have a lot of time to look into it right now but I'll exchange it for Proximon's suggestion in the meantime.

Thanks for the heads up about the Dark Knight, the last Xigmatek cooler I used required a separate purchase for a retention kit if you wanted to have one.
April 11, 2009 7:10:01 AM

650TX will actually power those, but it would have a short life if the system spent much time under full load. It would also get a bit warm ;) 

PC P&C 750W: Better ripple and less droop
Corsair 750TX: a bit quieter, maybe. Moves more air with the bigger fan.
April 11, 2009 7:10:50 AM

I dont have a newegg account and since delivery is a bit far I probably wont get one , but I have some observations about the TJ08 that I have been using for a couple of years .

The cooling is great . Because of the small internal volume its a wind tunnel with rear fan and PSU fan pumping out at the top rear . The front fan is a nice touch and blows straight at the lower portion of the MB .
The bad news is the fans are a little noisier than silverstone would like you to think , and the dust filter in the front can not be removed . To clean it you have to drop both sides of the case off and unscrew the front of the case from inside .

The hard drive mount is pretty basic , but it works [ unless you have an IDE drive ] and then you'll hate the guy that invented the 80 wire IDE cable . That wont be problem in this build .

Theres plenty of space for the longest gfx card because of the hard drive mounting.

Theres some space for a large cpu cooler . Mine has a scythe ninja installed . Big heat sinks will conflict with the RAM on most mb's . Mine has the fan fitted underneath and blows air up and out through the psu .
But then again with a C2D and with the PSU and rear fans less than an inch away the cpu fan only spins up when booting or loading a game . The rest of the time its silent .

Really long psu's will be hard work if you also install a long optical drive . I put my dvd drive in the lower 5 inch bay when I had the previous psu and coiled all the extra leads up on top of the dvd . Now I have a nice modular Corsair psu things are much better . I'd highly reccomend a modular psu .
April 11, 2009 7:18:01 AM

Good point :)  With the PSU on the top and all those cables, plus no room to route anything, it's not going to be a pretty build.
!