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CPU/Mobo/RAM advice, if you can spare it...

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May 27, 2009 9:27:24 PM

I've built and re-built my computer several times over the past decade, but my last build was an AMD 3700+ with 2GB of RAM in 2006. Little did I know that it would completely choke on Vista 64, so I've been miserable for a few years now, and rarely use the thing.

In any case, I'm looking to upgrade. I'm not a heavy gamer, but I do play some older games (KOTOR) and do use the Adobe suite a fair bit (I'm a graphic designer). I just want a system with some legs for the next few years.

I've been drooling over the i7 chips since they were released, but as an old AMD fan, someone could actually convince me to try their latest offerings or even a pre-i7 intel chip, if the price were significantly lower.

Here are the components I'll be keeping, but I'm certainly open to swapping some things out if necessary (particularly since I'd love to build both a Home Server and Media Center PC in the near future - I could reuse parts in those):

Case: Antec P180
GPU: EVGA GeForce 7600GT
PSU: Antec TruePower II 550W
LCD: 22" HP (Wide)
HDD: Various 500GB SATAs
Sound: Sound Blaster Audigy SE
Mouse: Microsoft Comfort Optical 3000
Keyboard: Microsoft Natural Ergonomic 4000
Optical: DVD Burners (Sony, Lite-On)

Here's where I need some input - the new stuff!

CPU: Like I said, I'm leaning toward an i7 920. However, I figure I'm looking at $600 for the complete CPU/Mobo/RAM solution (and another $100 if I go for 12GB instead of 6GB). If I can get the entire solution for significantly less with an AMD or older Intel chip, I'm certainly open to suggestions. The i7 just seems very next-gen with the 45nm technology and hyper-threading, so I figure it will carry me further into the future using less power and generating less heat.

Mobo: Assuming my CPU is an i7 920, I'm leaning toward the Asus P6T SE (not sure what the SE is missing from the P6T, but it's cheaper...). Learned my lesson with budget boards - I had an ASRock that I could never get working right and eventually replaced with an ASUS A8N5X that worked fine. (Of course I learned the newegg open box item lesson with the ASUS, as I haven't had an I/O panel cover for the last three years...) So everyone recommends ASUS, Gigabyte and EVGA - is my choice good for my needs or should I look for something else?

RAM: Again, assuming I go with an i7 920. I figure 12GB would be a good idea for heavy photoshopping and heavy multitasking - unless you think it's overkill? Also, if I don't overclock, it seems like I'll want to stay with 1333MHz RAM - is that the case? If so, what's the difference between PC3 10600, PC3 10660, and PC3 10666?

Other: I hear that there's a few great graphics cards for cheap these days, such as the Radeon 4770 chipsets. Worth upgrading? How about sound cards? I know Sound Blaster has since released a few new models. I may also need one more hard drive, which will become my primary boot drive - can't afford an SSD or Rapture, I'm sure, so is a Barracuda worth my money, or just go with a generic Hitachi/Seagate/WD 7200rpm drive?Also, will my case fit all of this, or do I need to look at newer ones? Finally, 550W was plenty in 2006, but almost every article I read suggests 750W or more.

Thanks - I'll stick around and ask more questions as you all advise...

---

Sorry - just found the "how to ask for help" thread. Here:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Anytime between now and August
BUDGET RANGE: $600-1200
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: design work, general use (internet, photos, video), gaming
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: see above
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, zipzoomfly.com, tigerdirect.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: whatever you suggest!
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (I thought no, but then I read the "overclocking" heading in this thread.)
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: see above
May 29, 2009 8:09:25 AM

Have you considered the $600 portable gaming build? It uses a pre-i7 chip but packs decent power, is relatively affordable, and small enough to bring to LAN parties.
May 29, 2009 8:56:30 AM

TonCharr28 said:
Have you considered the $600 portable gaming build? It uses a pre-i7 chip but packs decent power, is relatively affordable, and small enough to bring to LAN parties.

OP please keep in mind the difference between the I7 and the cpu in this article is HUGE!....it wouldn't be thinking ahead by going dual core and going the 775 chipset isn't the best choice imo...i would go with the Phenom II 720 or 940...if you can afford it go 955....

There are alot better choices than the 5200..
Related resources
May 29, 2009 10:23:17 AM

Fatwallet has a posting for superbiz (type ewiz for your search engine) on page 2 or 3 of listings. It comes with a gigabyte x58 board and retail boxed i7 920 for around $378 after rebates and cash back. The gigabyte board may not be your first choice, but it will get the job done. For memory, newegg had 6 gigs of ddr3 for around $60 after rebate. For power, get at least 550 watts in ocz, antec, seasonic, enermax, corsair, or pc power and cooling. Use whatever's left for your video upgrade. If you want to save some big $$$, go with the 710 or 720 phenom II. Fry's had the 710 with board for only $129 recently.
May 29, 2009 1:43:22 PM

TonCharr28 said:
Have you considered the $600 portable gaming build? It uses a pre-i7 chip but packs decent power, is relatively affordable, and small enough to bring to LAN parties.
Thanks for the input! I already have a full tower that would all but totally preclude LAN parties, and I'm not much of a gamer at the moment anyway - I assume you were looking at my budgeted amount to come up with this, but I can spend $600 on just the CPU/Mobo/RAM alone, as I really don't need much else.

rewindlabs said:
OP please keep in mind the difference between the I7 and the cpu in this article is HUGE!....it wouldn't be thinking ahead by going dual core and going the 775 chipset isn't the best choice imo...i would go with the Phenom II 720 or 940...if you can afford it go 955.... There are alot better choices than the 5200..
Thanks for the clarification - I lean more towards the i7 every day!

o1die said:
Fatwallet has a posting for superbiz (type ewiz for your search engine) on page 2 or 3 of listings. It comes with a gigabyte x58 board and retail boxed i7 920 for around $378 after rebates and cash back. The gigabyte board may not be your first choice, but it will get the job done. For memory, newegg had 6 gigs of ddr3 for around $60 after rebate. For power, get at least 550 watts in ocz, antec, seasonic, enermax, corsair, or pc power and cooling. Use whatever's left for your video upgrade. If you want to save some big $$$, go with the 710 or 720 phenom II. Fry's had the 710 with board for only $129 recently.
Wow - thanks! People have recommended Gigabyte boards, but are they not as good as ASUS? I suppose a budget board would be fine, if I only want to overclock a modest amount, no? I guess you're saying I can stick with my Antec TruePowerII 550W for the time being as well - can anyone else comment? Also, can you fill me in on the RAM specifics? Here was my original question:

Quote:
Again, assuming I go with an i7 920. I figure 12GB would be a good idea for heavy photoshopping and heavy multitasking - unless you think it's overkill? Also, if I don't overclock, it seems like I'll want to stay with 1333MHz RAM - is that the case? If so, what's the difference between PC3 10600, PC3 10660, and PC3 10666?
Do I have to buy RAM based on how much I plan on overclocking? I only ask because DDR3 seems to come in all sorts of frequencies for whatever reason, and all the Mobo specs say they natively support 1333MHz and everything above is for overclocking...
June 3, 2009 10:30:09 PM

Looks like I won't be saving my pennies for an SSD anytime soon.

Anyway, I'm sorry I confused this page with so much info. Let me iterate my very simple question:

I've settled on an i7 920. What motherboard should I go for if I plan to only modestly overclock (if at all)? People have told me to stick with Gigabyte or Asus, but they both offer budget boards as well, and their are a dozen other brands too.

After I settle on the board, I'll ask my RAM question again.

Thanks!
July 17, 2009 10:13:21 PM

Okay - this is the month! The first post still stands: I have the same equipment, and I'm looking to buy the i7 920. I need recommendations on mobos, please!

I'll overclock, since it sounds so easy, but I have no other special requirements other than a good price/performance ratio. Won't SLI or Crossfire.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

Will also need some RAM and PSU advice next...
July 17, 2009 10:29:26 PM

Your original choice of the Asus P6T SE would be a good option. You can get it in a combo with the i7 920 on Newegg right now and save $40.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $449.98 - $15 MIR

I would go with some quality CAS8 DDR3 1600 RAM. Here's a couple to consider:

SUPER TALENT Chrome Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model WB160UX6G8 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $93.99

OCZ XMP Ready Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3X1600LV6GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $104.99 - $10 MIR

Are you still planning on re-using your old 7600GT? If so, you could go with a pretty low power PSU. I would get one that will have enough headroom for a new GPU when you finally put the 7600GT out to pasture.

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99.49 - $20 MIR
July 18, 2009 7:32:08 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Your original choice of the Asus P6T SE would be a good option. You can get it in a combo with the i7 920 on Newegg right now and save $40.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $449.98 - $15 MIR

I would go with some quality CAS8 DDR3 1600 RAM. Here's a couple to consider:

SUPER TALENT Chrome Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model WB160UX6G8 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $93.99

OCZ XMP Ready Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3X1600LV6GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $104.99 - $10 MIR

Are you still planning on re-using your old 7600GT? If so, you could go with a pretty low power PSU. I would get one that will have enough headroom for a new GPU when you finally put the 7600GT out to pasture.

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99.49 - $20 MIR


Thanks for all the great advice! The P6TSE board has some great reviews, and is a decent price - especially bundled. I just have a few small follow up questions:

1. I do plan on using the 7600GT for now, and upgrading when I can. Can I use my Antec TPII 550W until I get a newer card? The 7600GT is the only add on card I think I'll have, plus 3 internal hard drives or so.

2. Where's a good place to go for a RAM primer? I still can't figure out all the PC3 numbers and whatever. Things were so much simpler for my last build, it seems.

3. Finally, I also need a CPU cooler for this combo, able to fit in my Antec P180. Any place to go to learn about coolers? I think my last build used an AMD stock cooler - again, easier. :) 

Thank you!
!