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Configuring a new desktop - hoping for advice

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  • Desktops
  • Systems
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April 18, 2009 12:35:47 PM

Hi,

I'm buying a custom desktop rather than putting it together myself so I hope it is OK to post the question here - it seemed more appropriate than the complete system forum. Anyway, I have just ordered the set up below and as there is just time to change it if need be I'd be grateful for any comments.

I want to use it for graphic design, gaming (mainly strategy games like the Total War series, Company of Heoes, etc) and general internet use. I already have a 19inch CRT monitor that I will use for now at 1600 x 1200.

I'd like s ystem that is not too noisy and is very reliable.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

I'm ordering from a company called Arbico in the UK. http://www.arbico.co.uk/

NZXT Hush case in black
1 Zalman 120mm case fan (Arbico have said they will check the temperatures and add a second one if it needs it.)
Intel Core i7 920
Noctua NH-U12P heatsink & fan
Quiet Zalman ZM600-HP dual heatpipe cooled 600W power supply
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-EX58-UDR3 (will this take a second graphics card later if needed?)
3GB Kingston RAM running at 1333Mhz
1GB ATI HD4850 passive cooled graphics card
750GB hard drive 7200rpm SATA II
Vista 32 bit - it does not seem worth the extra hassle of 64 bit if I only have 3GB RAM?

Particular questions:

Will the graphics card be enough for now?
Can I add a second later?
Is going for the i7 processor a waste? Will it be fast enough?
Is 3 GB RAM enough?

More about : configuring desktop hoping advice

April 18, 2009 12:48:39 PM

you will need 64 since it will only see 2.4gb of ram since your gfx card uses 1gb of it.

the i7 will definitely be overkill, get a phenom II build and save yourself a few quid.
April 18, 2009 4:32:03 PM

Are you sure the graphics card will use up a whole 1GB of normal RAM? I thought that might be the case but the sales person I spoke to said it would not.

Are there any issues to be aware of if I do switch to 64 bit Vista? I have a vague impression that some things might not be compatible with it but I don't know if that is true?
Related resources
April 18, 2009 4:52:41 PM

all 16bit applications and some 32bit apps won't work but most do and if they don't work a la carte you can try compatibility mode.

and yes the gfx card will use up 1gb of ram.
April 18, 2009 6:04:50 PM

Thanks.

Perhaps to be safe I should stick with Vista 32 bit as I'll only be losing about half a GB? Does Vista run OK on 2.5GB? If I do that I could wait until more applications are OK with 64 bit mode - perhaps that will improve when Windows 7 comes out and I'd eventually want to upgrade to that anyway so I could go 64 bit at the same time?

How difficult is it to upgrade from 32 to 64 bit?

Does that sound like a reasonable plan?
April 18, 2009 7:11:26 PM

You should cancel the order and rebuild. I see a number of issues with your build:
1. The case you chose is not very wide, and you chose one of the tallest coolers out there. I don't think it will fit in the case
2. You need 64bit OS, especially going with an i7
3. An i7 seems like serious overkill for your needs, you should probably go with a less expensive build like a PII 720 and buy yourself a new monitor!!! Chuck that CRT in the recycle bin.
4. The case you chose does not have a very good cooling design, it is designed to be quiet. You chose a passively cooled 4850, which will get HOT if you don't have adequate circulation in your case...and you don't.
5. That PSU you picked is pretty expensive for a 600w PSU...how badly do you need modular? I would go with an OCZ StealthXstream 600w PSU instead or a 550VX.
April 18, 2009 8:05:14 PM

Thanks for the comments although they are a bit alarming!

The dealer (Arbico) will be responsible for fitting the cooler into the case and since they offer that as an option with their system surely they must know they can fit it in the case? The full set of case options were:

Quiet Antec Sonata III
Quiet NZXT Hush (+£34)
Quiet Antec Sonata Designer (+£34.99)
Quiet Antec Sonata Plus (+£50)
Quiet NZXT Whisper (+£60)
Quiet Coolermaster Cosmos 1000 (+£100)

would one of the others be significantly better? Of these I think the Hush has the best looks! (I'll admit though if it is not going to work reliably then good looks are pointless.)

Please could you say more about why going with an i7 means I should go for a 64 bit OS?

I picked an i7 because it was not all that expensive - total system cost is around £1300 (including 15% tax and delivery) which seems like quite a good deal for this type of system in the UK. I tried working out a system with an Intel Q9550 and it came to about the same cost.

I'm planning to stay with my CRT screen for a while (until it gets unreliable?) because if I buy an LCD one then I would want a pretty expensive one to ensure colour accuracy, 1:1 pixel scaling, pivot to portrait mode, fast response time, etc. so I thought it better to at least try the CRT to see what the quality of display is like.

I was hoping for a quiet machine so that (and the look) was why I chose that case. Can you say more about why it will not be cool enough? How about if I get them to add in a second case fan?

They recommended that PSU to me for reliability and quietness. I was also hoping it would be cooler and therefore help with heat generally? The full set of PSU options I could choose are:

Quiet Antec 500W PSU
Quiet Xilence Power XP600-12R Power 600W PSO (+£40)
Nesteq Ultra quiet 135mm Fan EECS 500W PSU (+£60)
Nesteq Semi-fanless 520W PSU (+£70)
Quiet Zalman XM600-HP Dual Heatpipe Cooled 600W PSU (+£79.99)
Nesteq Ultra Quiet 135mm Fan EECS 600W PSU (+£79.99)
Nesteq Semi-Fanless 620W PSU (+£95)
Nesteq Ultra Quiet 135mm Fan EECS 700W PSU (+£95)
Quiet Zalman ZM750-HP Dual Heatpipe Cooled 750W PSU (+£100)
Quiet Xilence Modular 1200W PSU (+£124.99)
April 18, 2009 8:11:23 PM

you should go with a 64bit os with i7 because the minimum amount of ram you can have is 3GB of DRAM and 1GB of VRAM totaling 4GB, 32bit os'es can only handle 3,4GB and they take VRAM as the most important to the DRAM is added to the VRAM until there is no space left in the amount the OS can handle. so in effectiveness, if you go with a 32bit os you are dropping 0.6GB from the amount of ram you have bought and if you add any more ram it will be a waste of money.
April 18, 2009 8:20:30 PM

What is the driver situation like now on Vista 64 bit?

My worry is that I have a scanner (Epson Perfection 1660), an inkjet printer (S4500) and a laser printer (HP laserjet 6L) that are getting a bit old that might not be compatible.

Also I'd want to run Photoshop Elements 7 which I have heard has some issues with 64 bit Vista.
April 18, 2009 8:50:09 PM

xthekidx said:
You should cancel the order and rebuild. I see a number of issues with your build:
1. The case you chose is not very wide, and you chose one of the tallest coolers out there. I don't think it will fit in the case
2. You need 64bit OS, especially going with an i7
3. An i7 seems like serious overkill for your needs, you should probably go with a less expensive build like a PII 720 and buy yourself a new monitor!!! Chuck that CRT in the recycle bin.
4. The case you chose does not have a very good cooling design, it is designed to be quiet. You chose a passively cooled 4850, which will get HOT if you don't have adequate circulation in your case...and you don't.
5. That PSU you picked is pretty expensive for a 600w PSU...how badly do you need modular? I would go with an OCZ StealthXstream 600w PSU instead or a 550VX.



Are you sure about the cooling issue - the Hush case has a pretty good review on this website http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/nzxt_hush/
but your comments above have got me rather worried! Would it help if I insisted on a second case fan?

It also has a strong (video) review on this site at: http://www.tomshardware.com/nzxt-hush-case-review,video... which says the airflow is very good. Is there something I am missing?
April 19, 2009 12:01:25 AM

The Case only has spots to mount 2 fans, an intake and an exhaust. While this is sufficient for most systems, it doesn't exactly work out well if you have a passively cooled GPU. Especially when you chose a passively cooled performance GPU like the 4850, the RV770 processor produces a lot of heat. I would go for a GPU with active cooling. If you want quiet, you might look at the HIS IceQ turbo cards, they are supposed to be pretty quiet, and they also have a rear exhaust which will help keep the temps down in the case.
April 19, 2009 12:04:22 AM

My worry is that I have a scanner (Epson Perfection 1660), an inkjet printer (S4500) and a laser printer (HP laserjet 6L) that are getting a bit old that might not be compatible. said:
My worry is that I have a scanner (Epson Perfection 1660), an inkjet printer (S4500) and a laser printer (HP laserjet 6L) that are getting a bit old that might not be compatible.
To see whether your peripherals will work with Vista 64 bit, go to the website and see if drivers are available for vista 64 bit, that is a pretty good indication.
April 19, 2009 12:09:10 AM

My suggestions on ways to get a better configuration are hindered by the fact that you are using a company to build this PC...if you want a good deal then you should really be building this yourself, it will result in a better PC for less money. Its really not very hard at all.
April 19, 2009 7:54:10 AM

I really do appreciate all the advice.

I'll insist on an extra case fan.

One reason for not building it myself is at least I get a 2 year warranty in case it does have problems!

Having looked at lots of sites for the things I am going to want to use I'm not keen to go with 64 bit Vista as it looks like compatibility will be an issue - probably possible to work around in most cases but a significant inconvenience that I could do without.

Given that and the other comments, would it be a better decision to ask for an active cooled 512MB HD4870 instead of the passive cooled 1GB HD4850 graphics card? That would mean I would get most of my system RAM even with 32 bit Vista. Questions then are: how much noisier would this be - particularly when not playing games? Would it be significantly less of a cooling problem? How would it compare for games performance - would moving to a 4870 make up for reducing the graphics card RAM from 1GB to 512MB?
April 19, 2009 8:05:07 AM

Give a list of the GPU's that you have to pick from. Some brands are quieter or better than others. The extra video ram will be helpful if you like AA or play at higher resolutions, but the 512mb version is no slouch. Inside of your case, as long as the GPU isn't a noisier than average card it will probably be fine. I think the HIS IceQ4 Turbo and the Saphire Vapor-X models of the 4850 are supposed to be very quiet, and overclockable as well if you get the urge.
April 19, 2009 12:34:19 PM

I'll have to speak to the supplier on Monday as they don't give the brands of the graphics cards on their website. However, I was thinking of moving to the 4870 rather than the 4850 while dropping the RAM from 1GB to 512MB - does that make any difference to your thoughts above?

I'd like to play games at 1600 x 1200 for now and probably 1900 x 1200 evenutually but I can manage without high levels of AA, etc. Just so long as the game runs reasonably smoothly.
April 19, 2009 8:25:41 PM

It depends on what games you want to play. Crysis won't be able to play at high settings with a 4870 and at that resolution, bot COD should have no problem whatsoever. The 512mb 4870 is better than the 4850 1gb.
August 5, 2009 9:11:20 AM

I thought some people might find it helpful if I gave a quick update now that I have had my computer for a while. In summary, I am very pleased with both it and with the level of service I have received from Arbico Computers in the UK.

I eventually ended up with an Nvidia GTX260 core 216 as the 4870 caused corruption of the screen sometimes when loading. Since moving to the GTX260 (swapped at no extra cost by Arbico) it has all worked very well indeed. The NZXT Hush case is reasonably quiet and so far has had no problems with heat build up. During building Arbico found that the computer would not work with the quiet Zalman 600w power supply that I had specified so they replaced it (after discussion with me) with a Nesteq one instead.

So far I have not really stretched the computer but, for example, it runs Far Cry 2 at high settings on a 1920 x 1200 screen with no problems at all.

I have had to contact Arbico a couple of times since buying the computer (over minor issues) and they have always been helpful and polite. An excellent level of service.

Thanks again for the help and advice I received from here when I was deciding what to buy - it really was very useful.
!