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Top Notch Gaming Rig – Please Critique My Build

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June 6, 2009 7:10:27 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: pretty soon

BUDGET RANGE: up to $2k

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming. I want to run current and future games on max settings at 1920x1200. General computing with heavy multitasking.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: KVM, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: all newegg, all the time :) 

PARTS PREFERENCES: understated on the outside, monster on the inside. quality name brand stuff.

OVERCLOCKING: probably. I’m an overclocking n00b, but would like to dabble.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: maybe in the future. down the road, when one 295 isn’t enough, I’ll add another.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I realize a few parts seem like overkill. But I want this system to be as future proof as reasonably can be under the confines of Moore’s Law :sarcastic: . I used to be really into gaming back in college. Then my computer became outdated and wouldn’t run the latest stuff. I miss gaming and am finally in a position to put together a new rig. I plan to run games like CoD 4 / WaW, GTA4, Crysis series, Max Payne 3, Far Cry 2, etc and want them in all their 24” widescreen glory.

Here’s what I got:

Core i7 920
Zalman CNPS9900LED
Asus P6T
6GB Corsair XMS3 – I specifically chose this RAM because it appears on the QVL for the P6T.
XFX GTX 295
Seagate Barracuda 250GB x2 in RAID 0. I will use a 500 GB ‘cuda I already have for back-up.
Samsung SH-S223F or whatever sata drive happens to be in stock at the moment
PC P&C 910W
Antec Three Hundred
For the OS, I think I’ll put the Win 7 x64 RC on it and see how that works out. I already have a copy of XP Pro x64 to fall back on if it turns out to be a pain.

Grand Total w/ Tax and Shipping = $1,793.70

Let me know what you think, thanks.
June 6, 2009 7:49:04 AM

That case is will be too small. Upgrade to something like the CM HAF 932. Go for this:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

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

Cheaper and faster ram:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Those HDD's are old and slow, go for these drives:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Two GTX 295's is a waste on anything less that 2560x1600 resolution. Get two 4890's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or if you cant get that one in stock:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The P6T Deluxe V2 has a superior board layout, go for that instead:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Related resources
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 8:03:22 AM

D0 stepping i7 920 w/dual gtx 275's

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-sli,229... <--- gtx 275's in SLI > gtx 295

Ok, this build has a bit larger case for more room, not to mention it has excellent cooling. The psu in this build is a bit much for this build, but it allows you to upgrade later on. The memory in this build has better timings then what you have chosen, and this h/s (Xigmatek) mops the floor with that Zalman not to mention it's cheaper. The thermal compound in this build is a good one also and it's on the cheap right now. This Gigabyte mobo is on par with that Asus but it's at a cheaper price so I threw it in. The best part about this build is the D0 stepping i7. I posted links on it at the bottom of this post. I didn't add any HD's to this build for the fact you might change your mind and go up to a faster WD 640 Black.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $79.99
COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $139.99 ($119.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=MB-EX58U4P $219.99 | $204.99 after rebate
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P Core i7/ Intel X58/ DDR3/ CorssFireX & 3-Way SLI/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard

https://www.antaresdigital.com/customer/product.php?pro..." $ 280.00
Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA 1366 Socket 8MB Cache CPU D0 Stepping

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $39.99
XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $4.99
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $239.99 ($219.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Free Cryostasis game w/ registration at manufacturer website

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $239.99 ($219.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Free Cryostasis game w/ registration at manufacturer website

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $94.99 Free Shipping*
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $24.99
SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner - OEM

Total: $1,364.91 | $1,284.91 w/mail in rebates

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dd353205.... <--- Save yourself some money on an o/s until March 2010 and dl the 64 bit version of Windows 7

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <--- more pics, specs, and customer reviews of that Gigabyte UD4P mobo used in this build

http://www.anandtech.com/weblog/showpost.aspx?i=584 <---short review on that D0 stepping i7. It runs cooler than the older C0 stepping i7's

http://www.fudzilla.com/index.php?option=com_content&ta... <--- that's one way you can tell if you have a D0 stepping cpu or not
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 8:04:23 AM

ok...we all posted within a minute of each other....lol
June 6, 2009 8:08:17 AM

+1 to xthekidx

Great price/performance on the above ram, coolers and HDDs.
June 6, 2009 8:37:22 AM

I think the 4890's scale a little better and overclock slightly better too, which is why I would get them instead, but either GTX 275's or 4890's would max out any game at that resolution.
June 6, 2009 8:48:14 AM

Doesn't the added power consumption and heat generated by two video cards out weight the slight increase in performance over one 295?

edit: not to mention takes up more space on the mobo and is less expandable in the future?
June 6, 2009 9:24:53 AM

^ there won't be much difference, because the dual cards are cooled by one fan each GPU and one PCB each card whereas the GTX 295 has two GPU's cooled by 1 fan for both and two PCB's in one card.

June 6, 2009 6:09:13 PM

I think actually that heat with the dual cards would be less, here's why:
The dual gpu's that have been suggested have a full enclosure around the heatsink/GPU and a rear exhaust system, so the majority of the heat generated is expelled out the back of the case. The GTX 295 is basically two GPU's in one card, so it only has half of the cooling capacity of the dual GPU configuration. And if you look at this picture, you can see that the casing on the GTX 295 is also perforated, which is necessary for the GTX 295 to get rid of all the heat it generates. This allows the heat to escape largely into the computer case instead of out the back of the case.
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 6:09:47 PM

dub said:

edit: not to mention takes up more space on the mobo and is less expandable in the future?


It's enough performance up front that you aren't going to expand. By the time you need more power there will be single GPU solutions that are faster. That's just the way it works.
My rule is if you aren't going to add a second card within a year, it won't happen at all.
June 6, 2009 7:32:41 PM

Thanks for everyone's help; gave me a lot to think about.

Proximon said:
It's enough performance up front that you aren't going to expand. By the time you need more power there will be single GPU solutions that are faster. That's just the way it works.
My rule is if you aren't going to add a second card within a year, it won't happen at all.


That's a good point.

I finally actually read through that article Why_Me posted and yeah, the two cards to really generate any more heat at all, just more power consumption. The performance is slightly better too.

I guess I'll scrap the 295, it seems there is a price premium in there that doesn't really equate to much in the end. It was suggested me on another forum that a single 285 will meet my needs (gaming at 1920x1200). What do you guys think about that option?

It seems pretty much unanimous that isn't enough room in the Antec 300. I'm not crazy about those cases you guys suggested. My comp is in my bedroom and I sometimes leave it on all night. I can't have a case with fan LEDs or it'll be like a laser light show while I'm trying to sleep. I'm thinking of the Silverstone FT01. It's way more money, but it looks great, should cool great and will be big enough to fit any graphics card/hsf combo I end up choosing. I should be able to close some of the price gap by choosing some cheaper components at your guy's suggestion.

I'm gonna get rid of the Zalman as well. No one on the forums has really had anything good to say about it. I also read a roundup of CPU coolers and the it came in dead last. I'll probably just go with the XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V as its way cheaper and seems to perform pretty well. What do you guys think of the Cooler Master V8?

Definitely gonna pick some different RAM; thanks there.

Honestly, I have no idea what makes one mobo better than another. xthekidx, when you say a better layout, do you mean the board is physically laid out better (as in the ram, expansion slots and whatnot) or do you mean better architecture?

June 6, 2009 7:52:36 PM

If you're willing to cough up that much for a case, how about this:
COOLER MASTER COSMOS 1000 RC-1000-KSN1-GP Black/ Silver Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $199.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't bother with the v8. Bit overpriced for this day and age. I have reason to believe that the above case will be able to fit the Mugen 2:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
A cheap but gigantic HSF that doesn't seem to catch much popularity despite being able to compete pretty well with the TRUE (ThermalRight Ultra 120 Extreme).

By "layout," people are generally talking about how the sata ports and PCI-e slots are organized. Spacing between PCI-e x16 slots are important once you start trying to cool more than one GPU. On the P6T, the PCIe x16 slots only have one PCI slot between them: you'll be pressing the 275's right on top of eachother, and they'll be trying to grab air from literally millimeters of space. On the P6T Deluxe V2, there's a lot more space between the first two x16 slots, and the last one you're going to forfeit anyway if you're using cards with double slot coolers (pretty much every card worth talking about.)

I also have a 4890 with a CF enabled board, but I don't think I'm going to be adding it since the DX11 cards are imminent. Just grab the performance you can right now.
June 6, 2009 8:24:28 PM

Yes I meant the physical layout and positioning of the PCIex16 slots in particular on the V2. It is also a superior overclocker, and has better cooling, and a better audio chipset.

I have the V8 and its a good cooler, but it certainly has a price premium built in, I think I paid too much for it at $60. It would be worth $50 I think when compared to other coolers. The Scythe Mugen 2 or the S1283V DK would be my suggestions for coolers, they cool very well for the price, you won't find a better price/performance ratio for air cooling.

A GTX 285 would be enough for your resolution for most games, but newer games like crysis will be more than that card can handle at full detail settings. GTX 285's are pretty pricey for the performance they give as well. They are about 5% faster than an overclocked 4890 and $100 more. Two 4890's gives you more for your money, even if your final price tag is higher.
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 8:33:40 PM

mlcloud said:

Don't bother with the v8. Bit overpriced for this day and age. I have reason to believe that the above case will be able to fit the Mugen 2:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
A cheap but gigantic HSF that doesn't seem to catch much popularity despite being able to compete pretty well with the TRUE (ThermalRight Ultra 120 Extreme).


This is a fairly good point. From what I can tell also, the Mugen and Xigmatek Dark Knight both compete quite well with the more expensive coolers. The Noctua is probably the best, but they are all within about 1C of each other.
June 6, 2009 8:46:24 PM

I have wondered why the Scythe Mugen 2 doesn't get recommended all that much around here. I have used it in a couple builds and it performs very admirably (better than my V8 actually, but I don't think its worth it for me to swap in a difference CPU cooler, as my temps are fine right now with my cooler). The DK seems to hog the limelight for high-performance and cheap coolers. I guess "Dark Knight" is a more attractive name than "Mugen 2". The DK gets more attention from the big sites too, so maybe that is why its more popular.
June 6, 2009 8:54:36 PM

This is the original HDT-S1283. It actually cools better than the DK version since it doesn't have that shiny black nickel coating on it, and its probably a little better than the Mugen 2, with its HDT design. The only reason it doesn't get a recommendation that often is because the included mounting hardware sucks, so you have to buy an additional retention bracket to make it work well. Usually the cost of this makes it more expensive than the DK, which comes with the bracket in the packaging, but right now the S1283 is on sale pretty cheap, so it would be worthwhile I thinK:
Cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mounting braket: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 9:08:49 PM

I certainly have no complaints with the S1283. Right now my cores are at 31C and 29C, room temp is 70F.

That's with a C0 stepping E8400 @ 3.6Ghz
a b 4 Gaming
June 6, 2009 9:26:09 PM

I think you are on the right track.

At your budget, and primarily for gaming, I would stick with the GTX295. To save a bit, GTX275/GTX285 would be good to.
At 1920 x 1200, don't skimp on the vga card. It is the single most important factor in gaming performance.

A 650+ watt quality psu will be sufficient. Quality units come from Corsair, Seasonic, Antec, and PC P&C. There are others.
The PC P&C silencer910 is a fine unit, but much more than you need. The 750w unit at half the price would work well.

P6T in any variation is good. Decide for yourself if one variant has features that are very important to you.

6gb of DDR3-1600 ram is appropriate. Corsair is fine, as is several others. Don't sweat timing differences. The i7 memory controller is very good and can feed the cpu just fine with almost any ram. I like Corsair and Patriot for their local usa support.

For a cooler, there are some good ones out there. Look at this review:
http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...
Pick any of the top ones. Zalman is not at the top.

I like the Antec 300. It has room for a 11" + vga card, and the GTX295 is 10.5". I have little doubt that it will fit fine. The newegg reviews should confirm that. Or google "antec 300 GTX295"
I like the washable front filters, no "bling" and good ventilation.
You might want to add a couple of slow turning 120mm fans for the front.

---good luck---
June 6, 2009 11:14:20 PM

Proximon said:
I certainly have no complaints with the S1283. Right now my cores are at 31C and 29C, room temp is 70F.

That's with a C0 stepping E8400 @ 3.6Ghz

What's with the weenie OC Proximon? :p  You could have done that on stock cooling.
June 7, 2009 1:39:40 AM

Alright, here's my latest iteration. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Some of your advice I took and some I ignored :p  (sorry, but still appreciated).

Core i7 920 – Same thing.
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with it’s necessary hardware and thermal gunk.
OCZ Platinum – cheaper and faster!
Dual EVGA GTX 275s in SLI.
P6T Deluxe
Corsair 850W – Interesting fact: The users manual for the P6T published by Asus states “If you want to use two or more high-end PCI Express x16 cards, use a PSU with 1000W power or above to ensure the system stability”. I’m gonna call their bluff and stick with 850W.
Two WD 500 Blacks in RAID 0.
Samsung DVD Burner
All wrapped up in a Silverstone Fortress.

Grand total w/ tax & shipping: $1881.48 ($1816.48 w/ mail-ins)

It’s actually just a little more expensive than my original parts list, but it’s definitely a better build. I realize I could get it down a little bit (like Why_Me’s build), but I feel pretty good with it now; it still comes in under my budgeted max.

So, any more thoughts that will send me obsessively reading/researching/contemplating for another entire day?

Thank god it’s rainy and nasty outside, or I may actually feel bad about sitting in my house researching a new computer build for literally days on end. :D 
June 7, 2009 2:20:03 AM

xthekidx said:
It looks pretty good to me, although two WD6401AALS drives would be a little faster since they have greater platter density.

Get the D0 stepping from antares digital: https://www.antaresdigital.com/customer/product.php?pro..."


Right, forgot about the D0. Thanks.
June 7, 2009 3:07:12 AM

dub said:
Alright, here's my latest iteration. Thanks to everyone who helped out. Some of your advice I took and some I ignored :p  (sorry, but still appreciated).

Core i7 920 – Same thing.
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 with it’s necessary hardware and thermal gunk.
OCZ Platinum – cheaper and faster!
Dual EVGA GTX 275s in SLI.
P6T Deluxe
Corsair 850W – Interesting fact: The users manual for the P6T published by Asus states “If you want to use two or more high-end PCI Express x16 cards, use a PSU with 1000W power or above to ensure the system stability”. I’m gonna call their bluff and stick with 850W.
Two WD 500 Blacks in RAID 0.
Samsung DVD Burner
All wrapped up in a Silverstone Fortress.

Grand total w/ tax & shipping: $1881.48 ($1816.48 w/ mail-ins)

It’s actually just a little more expensive than my original parts list, but it’s definitely a better build. I realize I could get it down a little bit (like Why_Me’s build), but I feel pretty good with it now; it still comes in under my budgeted max.

So, any more thoughts that will send me obsessively reading/researching/contemplating for another entire day?

Thank god it’s rainy and nasty outside, or I may actually feel bad about sitting in my house researching a new computer build for literally days on end. :D 


The Silverstone should make you very happy. I wish they had a removable MB tray, and a bit more room behind the MB mounting area for cables, but overall I found it a good case. Very well cooled.

I would have looked at the true or Noctua coolers, but the one you have chosen should be quite adequate.
a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2009 5:27:00 AM

xthekidx said:
What's with the weenie OC Proximon? :p  You could have done that on stock cooling.


I had it up to around 5Ghz at one point ;)  Honestly, 3.6 is as fast as I needed.
Anonymous
a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2009 6:08:08 AM

dub said:
Holy cow. That case is an absolute behemoth. :o  I'm not sure it would even fit under my desk!


I strongly suggest that case. You cannot get any better than Lian Li when it comes to high end cases. These cases are easily modded and you can even buy pre-modded parts. I suggest taking a look at this site, better prices and you have a lot of choice for cases and parts:

http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

Here is the case previously mentioned at 219.95

http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

or same case with a side window and side intake fan for 239.95

http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

Once you go Lian Li, you never go back.
a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2009 10:42:12 PM

They will fit. I would want more room ;) 
June 7, 2009 10:57:57 PM

I'm used to a micro-atx case. The FT01 is gonna be like moving from a Geo to a Cadillac. My current case barely has enough room between the back of the optical drive and the power supply for the molex and ide connections.
June 8, 2009 3:57:12 AM

I pulled the trigger this evening. Thanks so much to everyone who helped out.

I went with the parts list from my second build, listed a few posts up (why doesn't this forum have post numbers?).

I did get the i7 w/ D0 from Antares and also bought my P6T Deluxe and Samsung SH-S223F from them which saved me $49.93 over Newegg for the same 3 parts.

The rest I got 12 mos interest free with my Newegg Preferred Account. w00t!

Thanks to you guys, I got a decidedly better build than I would have on my own. And for only $37.85 more, which will easily be made up in 6 - 8 weeks by the mail in rebates.
June 20, 2009 9:27:56 AM

i7 920 plus tpower x58 combo =$500
3x1GB DDR3 1333mhz 6-6-6-18=$80
2x OC ED 9800Gt's in SLI=$160
Antec Skeleton case=$150
Zalman 750W PS(sale)=$100
plextor DVDRW=$45
Seagate 500gb HDD(OS)=$70
Seagate 1TB HDD (storage)=$100
Swiftech Ultima Water cooling=$270
Creative X-FI gamer's Ed Audio=$80
Total Rig Under $1600 that destroyers All= Priceless!(thats my rig)LOL
!