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Building a i7 Gaming/Computation Computer ($2500-3000 budget)

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June 3, 2009 10:09:22 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: By the end of June

BUDGET: $2500-3000

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, computation (engineering)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Any website is fine. I will browse all major computer parts website before the final purchase.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I prefer a mid-tower

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe in the future. SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Must be capable of being overclocked in the future with only air cooling.



Here's the setup that I have selected so far. I've never built a computer before, so I am especially interested in recommendations/comments from more experienced builders.

CPU: $280 - Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz

Cooler: $80 - Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm SSO CPU Cooler

MOBO: $280 - ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58

GPU: $680 - 2 x EVGA 01G-P3-1180-AR GeForce GTX 285 1GB

RAM: $82 - OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3

HDD: $100 - Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM
$120 - 2 x Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM

LCD: $300 - SAMSUNG T240HD Rose-Black 24" 5ms HDMI Widescreen

PSU: $240 - CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W

Case: $140 - Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower

OS: Free - Windows 7 RC until early 2010


Other:
Wireless adapter: $20 - Rosewill RNX-G1W IEEE 802.11b/g USB 2.0 Wireless
Keyboard: $90 - Logitech G15
Thermal Paste - $9 - ARCTIC COOLING MX-2
Speakers: Free - Logitech 530 Speakers (currently own)

Total: $2531
June 3, 2009 10:23:26 PM

Looks good, but I wouldn't bother with the i7 940, and instead find an i7 920 with D0 stepping.

You may want to look at Sapphire's VaporX HD4890. It uses a good aftermarket cooler, which will allow for higher overclocks. I believe they also have an Atomic Edition 4890, which comes factory overclocked to 1GHz on the core.

-I'm not confident in your choice of heatsink, you should check out this list: http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm

-Yes, that PSU is more than enough.

-There will always be a bottleneck of some sort, it depends on what game or application you're running, but that system will be able to max out anything out there, except maybe Crysis with 16xAA.

-There would be a benefit, but certainly not worth the extra money.

-Which cards would perform better depends on the games you play. Some games work better on Nvidia's architecture, some on ATI's, you'd have to look up some benchmarks to find out.

-Yes, all of those components are compatible.
June 4, 2009 1:35:44 AM

what exactly are you doing for computational work, if its very CPU heavy, you might want to think about going dual xeon (or at least a board that supports it so you can upgrade later), especially in this price range

though, if you can't use more than 4 threads, don't bother, the Xeons would give you 8 physical threads and 8 hyper threads
Related resources
June 4, 2009 10:15:58 PM

I'll be using Matlab/Comsol the most. However, I do write other programs that are purely for crunching numbers. Due to the fact that the Xeon's are a older architecture and that I'm also looking for a beastly gaming computer, the i7's may be better in that regard.

I'll switch to the 920 and overclock it. I've been doing research since I posted this, and it appears that is the best method.

As far as the bottlenecking comment, I was asking if either the CPU or GPU was blatantly bottlenecking to the point that I should either upgrade one or downgrade the other. For example, there is no point in getting three 4870x2's because no processor would be able to feed all three enough information to keep all three busy.

I'll look into the link about the heat sinks. It seems like there are some newer ones designed specifically for the i7 processors that are pretty good.

I'm considering switching the 4890's for two GTX 285. Any thoughts on this?

I'm also considering two 300gb 10000rpm velociraptors in Raid 0 as the primary storage space. Would the performance be worth the $400 it costs from these HDD? Or should I spend in the money elsewhere?

Thanks for the comments!
June 5, 2009 12:16:59 AM

actually, the LGA1366 Xeons are the workstation equivalent of the i7

4890 and GTX285 perform neck in neck with each other, its really a brand preference
though if you go for te dual xeons, you have to go ati (for crossfire on workstation boards, no sli)

don't get the 10k rpm drive, the western digital black's are almost as fast, go for an ssd and a large hdd for storage if anything

link for the LGA1366 xeons:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
June 5, 2009 9:51:15 PM

Mindless, I appreciate your thoughts. That is definitely something that I hadn't considered before. It seems like I'll either have to take a large hit in processor speed or cost if I go with a server CPU.

I know that CPU processors then to be of higher quality (and more overclockable), but the performance/cost ratio concerns me.

I have to admit though, I'm only moderately knowledgeable of processors and I'm never really dealt with server CPU's. Are there more benefits to server CPU's that caused your initial recommendation?
June 6, 2009 3:04:29 PM

@AeroDC

Nice build there, I think you've got a lot of great components. I do have one suggestion: The Corsair Dominators are a little expensive, you might look at these from OCZ:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They should offer virtually identical performance and are only $99.99 ($79.99 after MIR)
June 8, 2009 12:06:34 AM

Based on the recommendations from this forum and another, I've made the following changes to the specs:
-switched CPU to the 2.66GHz version (will overclock)
-switched from ATI 4890's to Nvidia 285's (more expensive, but better drivers, features, and higher clock speeds)
-switched to OCZ Gold RAM (cheaper and equivalent to the previously selected ram)
-changed HDD's to two 500GB (RAID 0) and one 1TB (backup)
-changed case to Antec's 902 (better for OCing)
-removed mouse (the differences between Logitech's G5 and the MX518 that I currently own weren't worth the $50)
-changed the wireless adapter to a usb dongle (it received far better reviews, I've also heard that SLI on that MOBO may block the PCI slots)
-switched from Arctic Silver 5 to Arctic Cooling MX-2 (non-conductive, better cooling performance)
-changed keyboard to Logitech's G15 (expensive, but I like many of the features)

I've looked into the MOBO/case/heatsink combo to make sure that they the one I select will fit. I know that others have had problems with the Noctua heatsink on other cases/MOBO's.

The Noctua heatsink has received really good reviews. Thanks for the link Fortunex, but I think that I'm going to stink with this one.

Also, people have had problems with the OCZ Platinum ram overvoltaging itself. Due to the fact that I'm going to overclock and that everything is expensive, I'm a little worried about that. However, the OCZ gold ram appeared to be okay and was a little cheaper. As a result, I'm currently planning on going with the OCZ gold.

I have one more question before I order everything tomorrow evening. Does anyone know of a place to buy the D0 stepping version of the processor? I've found the following two websites that offer it for $320 + $10 S&H. That is about $50 than on Newegg for a guaranteed D0 stepping CPU. I'm not afraid to spend more to get the D0 CPU's, but $50 seems like a lot for the guarantee. I'm tempted to just order from Newegg and see which one I get. The C0 cores should be getting phased out, but there are still reports of people getting them from Newegg within the last few days.

http://www.tankguys.com/intel-core-i7-920-d0.html
http://www.ncixus.com/products/38881/BX80601920%20-%20D...
June 8, 2009 2:31:21 AM

I would get the Antec 1200 over the 900 if you are getting 2 GTX 285's in SLI because they are preeety big (I have 2 GTX 275's SLI'd in a 900 case and both cards get pretty hot due to the lack of space).
June 8, 2009 3:15:41 AM

*facepalm*

Don't even consider anything but an i7 if your budget is over $1500US
Anonymous
June 21, 2009 7:35:52 AM

If you are going for stability, I'd stick with a SCSI drive, vs. the SATA. 150GB for your main drive should be plenty of room. Removable storage is easy to install.

Anonymous
January 18, 2010 6:01:24 AM

get a iMac 27'' i7, its got a 2.8Ghz, for like 2300-2400 you can get 8gb ram and a good graphics card
January 18, 2010 10:44:47 AM

Quote:
get a iMac 27'' i7, its got a 2.8Ghz, for like 2300-2400 you can get 8gb ram and a good graphics card


Congrats, for your contributions I summon:

!