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My first system build since 2004

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April 22, 2009 2:42:04 AM

Welp, I can't take it any longer! My old rig quit working for me about a year and half ago (cheap PSU, noob mistake), and since then my money has been tied up in school and a variety of other hobbies. Well my brother has a decent budget build I did for him a year ago, and I hate only being restricted to my Xbox 360. So anyways, after hours of studying the internet more so than my college course to get caught up on the latest tech, here is what I am planning on building this summer around June:

Case: Antec Nine Hundred
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: AMD Phenom II x3 720 BE (plan on overclocking to ~3.6ghz)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer Pro 64 (and some Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Paste)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo: Asus M4A78T-E AM3 790GX/SB750
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: OCZ Platinum 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600 7-7-7-24 OCZ3P1600EB4GK
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 4890 1GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive: Western Digital 1TB 7200rpm SATA 3.0gbs WD1001FALS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: OCZ StealthXStream 700w OCZ700SXS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD: Samsung SH-S223Q 22x DVD+-RW Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


This system will set me back a bit over 1k. I also plan on buying the Razer Barracuda HP-1 headphones and possibly an Auzentech Forte 7.1 soundcard depending on how my finances go over the summer (gotta save up for school next semester too).

After all my research, I decided for now to stick with my Gateway 22" LCD (crap), and later on upgrade to possibly the new Dell G2210 22" LCD with LED backlighting, or a monitor with a PVA panel. But anyways, I decided for now to stay with a 22" monitor and 1680x1050 resolution, which also justifies this single GPU card build. If I went to a 24" and 1900x1200 resolution, I'd be compelled to buy a second video card, thus uping the cost of upgrading my monitor an extra $300 to $400 for a second card and 24" LCD over a 22" LCD. I'm happy with the resolution of my current 22" and spending the extra dough for a 24" just isn't worth it to me.

I chose an all AMD/ATI system because of the "Dragon" platform. Because I am only using one graphics card, the 790GX north bridge makes more sense considering I'm not planning on crossfire at the moment. Also, the onboard video supposedly helps to improve graphics performances with an ATI Radeon card, thus another reason why I chose the 4890. In the past I've always been an Nvidia fan, but because now that AMD owns ATI, but my allegiance has changed due to the price per performance of AMD and ATI.

As mentioned I plan on putting this together in June hopefully, but I don't expect anything is going to be released that soon to my knowledge. Other than anybody's personnel experience and suggestions, my only question I am seeking is suggestions on memory. I am planning on overclocking, but for the time being only to 3.6ghz since speeds of 3.8 and 4.0 don't improve performance much with this system configuration. Should I consider DDR3 1333 with slighty tighter timings, 6-6-6-20 vs 7-7-7-24 on the DDR3 1600? Also, for the same price of the 4GB of DDR3 1600 I could get 6GB of DDR3 1333 with the same timings of 7-7-7-24, but would the extra memory really be worth it over faster memory and overclocking?

More about : system build 2004

April 22, 2009 3:04:18 AM

Good looking build
Benchmarks suggest faster memory will not improve performance for the Phenom II.
In fact you may want to go with DDR2 and an AM2+ motherboard to save money.
Shop around and you may save money

Good luck
April 22, 2009 3:18:56 AM

I considered that, but I also wanted to "future proof" as much as i could. I had a horrible experience with my last build, literally within two months after I finished the build, a new AMD socket came out, PCI Express replaced AGP, and then came dual core tech and the new Geforce 7000 series. Basically, if I wanted to upgrade I would have to replace my CPU, mobo, and video card.

With this build being as up to date as I can make it, I will hopefully have to only upgrade my CPU, memory, and video card incrementally rather than a complete overhaul. Luckily, right now AM3 and DDR3 are almost brand new, and the only thing I see on the horizon is USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0gbs, both of which can be solved with a PCI card (I'm assuming) if I wanted to upgrade to those systems.
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April 22, 2009 3:20:13 AM

You can also try a 4870 instead of the 4890. It'll save you some money for a very slight performance drop. And how 'bout an Antec 300 instead?
April 22, 2009 4:18:12 AM

I originally considered the 4870, but for only $40 more the 4890 offers much more headroom for overclocking and will give me just enough performance to run every game I want to play at max settings, max resolution, and max anti aliasing.

If it comes down to money, the Antec 300 and a smaller hard drive would be where I would make the cut. I just love the performance of the Antec 900, and I plan on replacing the blue led fans with Antec red led fans :) 
April 22, 2009 9:29:28 AM

Well if you looking to save more yet have more processing power

April 22, 2009 11:54:33 AM

Well I like the above idea of a quad in the system...

But if you want to stick with your current selection, I would suggest few changes...

CPU+Mobo combo - 790FX - Best for overclocking
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
or
Something cheaper yet good...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Even this RAM should do...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Change the CPU cooler if you want to keep your temps even lower...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE - Without sacrifice in performance and at a cheaper price...CM 690
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I would suggest you get this PSU - Its more future proof than the OCZ and has better quality...It can handle any future upgrade (even a 4890 Crossfire) and still would have some overhead...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
April 22, 2009 2:36:49 PM

Will the 790FX really make more of a difference since I don't plan on overclocking past 3.6ghz? I figured the 790GX will be more efficient because of the onboard video supporting my 4890.

And Batuchka, nice find on savings, but that motherboard's northbridge is much weaker than the 790GX in my build, hence the savings. Also, thats an AM2+ setup, I'm looking for an AM3 with DDR3 to "future proof" as much as possible. And the HD 4890 is more powerful than the GTX 260 216 core from Nvidia. But that is a very nice system for the price, I am actually going to recommend it for a friend, only with a slightly better northbridge and PII x3 CPU.
April 22, 2009 8:20:22 PM

Just wanted to bump this because I'm still looking for answers to two questions:

Will the 790FX really make more of a difference since I don't plan on overclocking past 3.6ghz? I figured the 790GX will be more efficient because of the onboard video supporting my 4890, and I'm not planning on CrossfireX.

Also I am planning on overclocking, but for the time being only to 3.6ghz since speeds of 3.8 and 4.0 don't improve performance much with this system configuration. Should I consider DDR3 1333 with slighty tighter timings, 6-6-6-20 vs 7-7-7-24 on the DDR3 1600? Also, for the same price of the 4GB of DDR3 1600 I could get 6GB of DDR3 1333 with the same timings of 7-7-7-24, but would the extra memory really be worth it over faster memory and overclocking?
April 23, 2009 2:32:15 AM

After doing some reading, I've decided to go with this CPU cooler:

XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Does anybody have this same build? Do you know if this cooler will overhang on the memory modules on this board? I tried to find some pics of this cooler on this mobo but to no avail. Will this CPU cooler fit in an Antec 900? Antec 300? Coller Master 690?

Thanks in advance

And I am still looking to the answers to my two previous questions ^^^
April 23, 2009 5:31:03 AM

JTP709 said:
Just wanted to bump this because I'm still looking for answers to two questions:

Will the 790FX really make more of a difference since I don't plan on overclocking past 3.6ghz? I figured the 790GX will be more efficient because of the onboard video supporting my 4890, and I'm not planning on CrossfireX.

Also I am planning on overclocking, but for the time being only to 3.6ghz since speeds of 3.8 and 4.0 don't improve performance much with this system configuration. Should I consider DDR3 1333 with slighty tighter timings, 6-6-6-20 vs 7-7-7-24 on the DDR3 1600? Also, for the same price of the 4GB of DDR3 1600 I could get 6GB of DDR3 1333 with the same timings of 7-7-7-24, but would the extra memory really be worth it over faster memory and overclocking?


Have you thought about getting a gtx275?
April 23, 2009 5:33:32 AM

JTP709 said:
After doing some reading, I've decided to go with this CPU cooler:

XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Does anybody have this same build? Do you know if this cooler will overhang on the memory modules on this board? I tried to find some pics of this cooler on this mobo but to no avail. Will this CPU cooler fit in an Antec 900? Antec 300? Coller Master 690?

Thanks in advance

And I am still looking to the answers to my two previous questions ^^^


ddr3 1333 should be good enough.

The Xigmatek will fit in a cm690 (my case) with plenty of room. Also, it should fit into the others too.
April 28, 2009 1:36:57 PM

I've decided to go with OCZ Reaper memory, but don't know if it will fit with a Xigmatek S1283 on an Asus M4A78T-E mobo because of how close the memory slots are to the CPU and how high the heatsinks are on he memory modules.

Anybody have any experience with this setup?
April 29, 2009 3:08:34 AM

Links are bad... but anyways, the fitting issue is more about breadth, instead of height, right? Based on the dimensions, it looks like a tight for me.
April 29, 2009 12:49:06 PM

all i can do is stare at the pictures of the parts all day and try and judge for myself. I've found a bunch of links online on builds with the s1283, but on different mobos where the memory is farther away from the cpu. I think it will fit, but just barely.

Worst comes to worse i can just put the memory in the dimm3 and dimm4 slots instead of 1 and 2, right? this shouldn't affect performance, would it?

EDIT: fixed the links btw.

April 29, 2009 1:14:42 PM

i just ordered that mainbord hopefully it will be here to day
if i get a chance i will give you some meshermants and see if you can use the mem in 3 &4 with out a problem

also the 790gx hybrid crossfire will only work with a 3450/70 (not shere on the eaxt card but it is a 3000 ) so it will not help your graphics at all
the 790fx does get better overclocking but is not really worth it unless maxumum overclock is your main point
April 29, 2009 3:33:34 PM

you, sir, are awesome

and yeah, i checked out a little more into the 790gx myself a few days ago. now I'm leaning more towards the fx just because ill probably want the option to uberclock, and more bandwidth if i ever go crossfire in the future, but i'm already pushing my budget to the limits lol. ive also thrown in an auzentech forte sound card and razer headhpones lol. So far its up to ~$1250 before $70 MIR.
May 11, 2009 2:21:20 AM

Well, over time studying benchmarks, reviews, articles, and the forums I've revitalized my build. Considering how games and the new windows 7 are taking more advantage of quad cores, I've decided to buy the Phenom II 955. I figured a good processor can last at least 3 to 4 years, while I'll probably swap out my graphics card every two or so. So while there isn't much difference in performance for games between the 955 and Phenom II 720, I'll save more money in the long run by not having to upgrade the CPU in 2 years. Also the use of DDR3 memory will also help this build last a little while longer.

The 4890 GPU, while some claim it is just an OCed 4870, does have a much higher clock potential. OCed 4890s can beat or match a GTX 280 which cost 100 more. I'm going to wait a week or so to see if I can get a new Asus EAH4890 TOP Super ML, which can be OCed even farther than 1ghz core clock.

I decided that in the future I might Crossfire with a second 4890. The 4890 also scales much higher than a 4870 in Crossfire, 86% in 1650x1050 (my current res), and 93% in 1920x1200. Whenever the new DX11 cards come out and knock the price of the 4000s series down I might just grab a second 4890 in the meantime. This is also why I decided to got with a 790FX mobo, which has more bandwidth for two PCI-E cards, and can allow the CPU to overclock higher than a 790GX. Of coarse, this is also why I'm going to get a Corsair 750w PSU, so I can power two GPUs.

I've dropped the sound card for now, simply because I've convinced myself the onboard audio will suffice, and using the money to buy a better CPU and mobo was more worth it. I'll most likely pick on up in the future.

Originally, I was going to get the Antec 900 and swap the blue fans out with red ones. However, Cooler Master just released their Storm Scout, which comes complete with red case fans and an all black interior with the same price of the Antec 900, saving me money from having to buy new fans. Also, the Cooler Master V8 will just look kick@ss in this case, so I'm going with that over the Xigmatech S1283.

AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition CPU
MSI 790FX-GD70 mobo
Asus EAH4890 Super ML GPU (not currently available on Newegg)
OCZ Platinum DDR3 1600 memory
Cooler Master Storm Scout case
Cooler Master V8 CPU Cooler and Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound
Western Digital Caviar Black 1tb hard drive
Corsair 750w PSU
LG Black DVD+-RW drive

Total is ~$1200, but I'm also ordering some games (Crysis and UT3) and a few extra fans and fancy lights lol

I got my summer job today, so this will be ordered either at the end of this week, or next week. Hopefully, the EAH4890 Top Super ML will be out by then :) 

I'll post pics, reviews, and benchmarks once the system is online ;) 
May 12, 2009 1:20:34 AM

Theres been a hickup with my credit . . . so it might be another 4 to 5 weeks before I can finally order my new rig :'( 

But on the bright side there might be better prices/sales by then so maybe its a good thing :) 
June 10, 2009 6:52:56 AM

I made the final purchase last week, and received half of the parts today. All I am waiting on is the motherboard, memory, and dvd-rw drive. I got the Sapphire Vapor-x 4890 instead of the Asus SuperML because it wasnt available yet. I should have this baby up and running tomorrow (or technically today since its 3am EST).

I am going to lap the CM V8 heatsink to see if I can get lucky and sqeaze 4.0ghz out of the PHII x955 :) 

Also, I am gonna shoot for a 1ghz core clock and 1.2 ghz memory clock on the HD4890 :D 

All of this will be running on Windows 7 RC1 btw

I'll post up pics and benchmarking results as soon as possible.
June 29, 2009 6:57:17 AM

Ok, sorry for the long wait for anybody who was wanting to know how this system turned out. Needless to say I've been very busy playing all of my old favorite PC games and the new ones :D 

Heres the short review: its amazing.

Here's the in depth review: its amazingly fast.

Here's the review the might help people decide on what to buy: just buy what I did and you'll be happy.


Basically I spent about $1100 on this rig from newegg.com:

AMD Phenom II x4 955 Black Edition cpu
MSI 790FX-GD70 motherboard
Sapphire Vapor-X ATI Radeon HD 4890 1GB graphics card
4GB (2x2GB) OCZ AMD AM3 Edition DDR31600 memory
1TB Western Digital Caviar Black Hard Drive
Corsair GameXstream 750w PSU
Samsung DVD-RW drive
Cooler Master V8 CPU Cooler
Cooler Master Storm Scout Case

I've pushed the CPU to startup at 4.0Ghz, stable at 3.8Ghz, and am currently keeping it at 3.6Ghz because there was little performance increase in gaming between 3.6 and 3.8. Right now this is all by overclocking the multiplier, but probably tomorrow or tuesday (since I'm off work) I'm going to see what I can do by lowering the multiplier and upping the FSB. This should increase overall performance because upping the FSB also overclocks the hyper transport and memory speeds too.

The graphics card is at 950mhz core and 1100mhz memory overclocked. Not the full 1ghz and 1.2ghz speeds I wanted, but these are blazingly fast enough with stability or artifact issues. I can probably hit the 1ghz core speed goal by flashing the bios with a higher voltage setting . . . but I'm not sure if its really even worth the risk.

Windows 7 RC1 is without a doubt much faster and more stable than any of my systems with Vista on them. My bro just bout a new Asus laptop (G71Gx) for gaming (I tried to convince him to just let me build him a new rig) and Vista is just terrible (over 75 programs running in the background). I just partitioned his HD and put Windows 7 RC1 on there for him until he gets his free Windows 7 upgrade (once its released in Oct). The only hickups I've had arent because of Windows 7, but rather 64 bit incompatibilities, which have been very rare and usually have work arounds (Google is your best friend).

While I know that the Core i7 is the latest and greatest and biggest leap in CPU tech thus far . . . AMD has managed to make me a very happy customer. The unlocked mulitpliers made overclocking much easier and fast, along with compatibility with DDR3 memory (didnt want DDR2 since its just bout obsolete), and HT 3.0 support this platform rocks. Most games are more GPU dependant anyhow, so the hundreds I saved by getting the Phenom II went into my 4890 and a 1TB hard drive (I like to download everything).

While most major games are "optimized" for Intel cpus and Nvidia gpus, that doesn't mean they wont play on AMD. This game eats Crysis alive on high settings (gonna have to crossfire to max it out). However, I am running Crysis Warhead on the highest enthusiest settings with around 25 to 40 fps, average 30. Not the smoothest but definitely playable. I just purchased Arma II, which is stunningly beautiful and many times photo realistic to the point its scary. A "simulation" indeed. I spent some time in the military so I've always enjoyed military shooters (mostly just to see if game developer has figured out that the M16A2/A4 is not full auto, or that RPGs have a 75% fail rate), and this one takes the cake! While I have everything but AA maxed out and the draw distanced toned back to 2100 meters (still a lot imo), this game is definately a milestone toward photorealistic gaming IMO. Check out the demo on Steam!

Now back on topic: The Cooler Master Storm Scout is a very sexy and sleek gaming case. It has awesome airflow, a very convenient carry handle, and the best paint job I've ever seen for a case (the inside is also painted black, definitely a plus). My only complaints are the features that make this case a "scout" and the tool less expansion slots (these are worthless, I still screwed in my graphics and sound card (I'm using my old SB Audigy 2 until I get an Auzentech Forte). The two red LED fans are very dim, and really only add a red accent color to the case. Also, the side window is tinted, which is cool, but effectively hides your inner components, so if you want to show them off at a lan party you'll have to either install extra lighting or take off the side panel. Also while the front intake fan and perforated bay covers have dust filters, the side window fan ports do not (there are two *optional* fan ports on the side window). While the dim lights and tinted window definitely make this case a "scout" I did wish the red lights would've been brighter.

In conclusion I am very happy with this build indeed. I made so many mistakes with my first build in 2004 (crappy case, cheap PSU) that I have definitely done much more research this time around (actually understand what the northbridge and southbridges are) and am confident I have avoided my past mistakes and made the right choices with this platform. I also gave myself plenty of extra head room with a 1TB Hard Drive and a 750w PSU. The overly powerful PSU will allow me to CF in the future, and hopefully I will be able to carry it over to my next build down the road (same with the Storm Scout Case).

If anybody has any questions or concerns just PM me :D 

!