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First build - home photo/gaming 1500GBP

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May 4, 2009 9:43:58 PM

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: August BUDGET RANGE: 1,500 GBP

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, photo editing (15MP RAW workflow), media centre (incl HD), time wasting on the internet, spreadsheets.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, optical drive, monitor, speakers, 1.5TB of external storage.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: advancetec.co.uk, but not fussed if it's low cost!

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel and Nvidia

OVERCLOCKING: Yes - moderate SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes - or room to expand to SLI later

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Quiet, able to cope with tropical ambient temperature and humidity (minimum 30 celcius and 90%), Windows vista 64bit OS - not sure which subtype to go for though.
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My first full build, I have had a few pre-built Dell's in the past to which I have added and replaced components.

my thoughts at present are:

GRAPHICS BFG 1GB GTX 285 OCX Graphics Card £283.80
CPU Intel i7 920 2.66Ghz £206.48
RAM Corsair® 12GB (6x2GB) XMS3 DDR3 1600MHz Unbuffered 9-9-9-24 £178.20
MOBO ASUS P6T £141.00
POWER Kingwin ABT-900MA1S 900W Mach 1 Modular Power Supply £99.99
HDD 1 1TB Western Digital £79.99
HDD 2 1TB Western Digital £79.99
Mirror RAID
COOLING Cool-IT Domino Advanced Liquid Cooling £65.00
CASE ANTEC 300 £42.90
CARD READER Icy Box 5,25in 50-in-1 Multi Card Reader / Writer £18.99
OPTICAL NIL £0.00
SOUND NIL £0.00

GRAPHICS I like to get top end graphics to extend the life of the setup, I'd like to leave space and power available for another 285 when this one starts getting stretched. 295 seems to pricey.

CPU I'd like the i7 965 but can't justify the cost. An overclocked 920 will have to do.

RAM I've always thought more RAM the better, faster the better, although I understand 12GB might be a bit of overkill - open to suggestions on how to spend the extra if I drop it to 6GB

COOLING I don't want a difficult to maintain custom kit - some all in one maintainance-free units would be great, especially if it kept the noise to a minimum. As well as the CPU cooling I'm toying with the idea of ready built liquid cooled graphics (+RAM + other bits) but I'm not sure if the cost is worthwhile.

CASE - I have no idea about this. I want something discrete and not full of flashing lights and fancy windows but big enough I don't break bits as I try and squeeze them in.

POWER - no good idea about this either - 900W should cover overclocking and future extras (like an additional 285 graphics card).

Any thoughts would be great - thanks very much for taking the time to help.
May 4, 2009 10:09:57 PM

Regarding Cases: if you like things that are discreet then you should check out Lian Li cases - very stylish and elegant in brushed black or silver aluminum. Antec also makes some cases that look less flashy in-your-face gamer style - like the sonata series - check them out.

As for the power supply I'm not sure if its really that good. If you haven't read this:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/257075-31-guide-choos...
then you should - pretty much a must read - explains why a good PSU is crucial. Personally I think a Corsair 850 TX should do you fine, unless you plan on Tri-SLI. Here is a list of PSU manufacturers and their credibility (how likely it is that they will make your PC catch fire - lol):
http://www.chilledpc.co.uk/forum/s [...] hp?p=18234

As for the GPU I would really never recommend the GTX 285, it is really bad value in my book. You could buy 2 x 4850 1GB for the £260 and beat the performance by a significant margin. If you really need the performance that the GTX 285 has on tap then I would look at other solutions. If you don't really need it, I would get a GTX 260 or 275 and use the saved up money later when the next generation of DX11 cards comes out in 9 months time. Just to illustrate how poor value it is, you can buy 2 x 4770s in the UK for £160 - thats one £120 less!! And those 2 x 4770's will almost be as good as the 285 - in fact they are as good as the 280. So how do you justify a price premium of £120? Especially when you can beat the performance of a 285 with 2 x 4850 which will cost you around £220 and completely blast it with 2 x GTX 260's in SLI for £300 (which is almost the same performance as the 295). Just my two cents on that topic, but of course this is your choice in the end.

If you don't like to waste money I suggest you read this on how to get the best value from a computer build (this is meant for gaming pc's, however I doubt your photo applications will be near as taxing on the components as games unless you are using a £1000 + camera or converting film to digital with one of those crazy german scanner things that cost £30000 +): http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/264181-31-best-bang-b...

Also what e-tailers do you use? I can recommend www.scan.co.uk/ ,
www.ebuyer.co.uk and www.overclockers.co.uk

CPU, MOBO and RAM look good to me (- edit - 12GB of RAM will possibly affect how much OC potential you have, good to check that one out too)
Cooling is great, but check if it can handle the i7 - because that thing puts out a lot of heat and the domino only has one radiator. Just saying this because I saw it reviewed on a core 2 duo - were it was great - but not sure how it copes with a heat monster like an OC'ed i7.
May 4, 2009 10:21:33 PM

an overclocked i7 will do? same frigin chip, same results, PFFT
Related resources
May 4, 2009 10:28:01 PM

Yeah sharken is right here, although I haven't seen any clock for clock tests, but there shouldn't be reason for any difference clock for clock as afar as I am aware it is exactly the same architecture - unlike the i5 series that are coming out which will have the option for hyperthreading in the more expensive chips
May 9, 2009 1:21:53 PM

Thanks for the responses so far - didn't realise the 920/965 were essentially the same bit of kit. I guess a 920 really will do!

Interesting links and food for thought from your responses, especially on the economics of new build and future resistant builds. My priorities for the initial build is to pay a lot of attention to parts that will be reused in the future - case, cooling and to some extent PSU. The GPU is going to be an older 200 series geforce - probably the 250 or 260. Ram is down to 6Gb, HDD down to 1x1TB at present. Room for expansion on all these fronts is planned for 1-2 years time.

I am liking the look of water cooling to try and minimise the noise (rather than to maximise the cooling) with cooling to CPU, GPU, Mobo (N,S and voltage regs), HDD and if needed to RAM. I'm wanting the only fans in the system to be really big slow moving fans on the rad (internally mounted on the front or maybe side) and the PSU fan. Hopefully this will allow enough airflow in the case not to melt the stuff I'm not actively cooling. Not sure which cooling system to go for as yet, I like the asthetic look of koolance but they don't seem to have many supporters on forums in various places.

So lian li v1110 case is the only bit I think I'm decided on so far... Oh dear - this really is complicated. :) 
!