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New PC build for longevity

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June 15, 2009 6:01:02 AM

TL;DR Build below, gaming (currently 1920x1200) what would you do differently to be able to swap in the latest and greatest while keeping the core components for as long as possible?

EDIT: Put that ^ there instead of at the bottom to save more people the effort.

It's been a while since I've built a new PC, partially because I haven't had the time to keep up with hardware. I've decided to put together a new system primarily for gaming, but that should also be able to handle multitasking and more processor-heavy tasks; I will also probably have it fold during downtime. One of my main concerns is upgradeability - research time has already been higher than I'd like for the system I'm planning, and I most likely won't be keeping track of the latest and greatest, so I want to maximize my number of minimum-impact upgrade paths... Not that everyone doesn't want to do that, but I'm making it a primary goal and should have the funds to make it happen. The native (and maximum) resolution of my current monitor is 1920x1200, but I do of course want to be able to upgrade to higher resolutions or DX11 games as painlessly as possible. I'm willing to consider any parts within reason, but considering typical diminishing gains I wouldn't be happy spending much more than $2500. My current intended build:

Mobo: ASUS P6T7 WS Supercomputer LGA 1366 Intel X58 CEB Intel Motherboard
CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor
Case: Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
RAM: Patriot 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model PVT36G1333LLK
CPU Cooler: XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler
Video Cards: 2x EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
HDD:Western Digital VelociRaptor WD3000HLFS 300GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Thermal Grease: Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound
PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply
Optical Drive: LG Black 6X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 40X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner Model GGC-H20L

My primary concerns:
1. Are there any parts I'm overestimating the useful lifetime on? As far as the processor goes, I'd prefer not to provoke the typical Intel/AMD nastiness, in fact I really prefer AMD as a company, but I'm guessing that the x58 chipset has the best chance of lasting the longest, and I also am not considering ATI video cards (old grudge, yes I'm being childish). Beyond that I'm not too worried about having to add another video card or swap them out for something new, and changing the processor a bit further down the road won't bother me either, but everything else I'd prefer not to touch for as long as possible.
2. Am I going overboard on anything? I chose the motherboard based mostly on the idea that the PCI-E support should let me easily add additional video cards (or anything new that might pop up) or swap them out, and that CUDA support should hopefully add some longevity to x58, but it is a serious price jump for, basically, vaporware. I've also got similar concerns about the power supply and case - I think the extra expenditures will keep parts viable in the long-term, but I'm looking for opinions.
3. This build is really hodgepodged together - I've read at least a couple professional reviews on each part, and looked through a few recommended builds, but as far as overall compatibility goes I don't know for certain that it'll all work together. I'm assuming that with the spaciousness of the case and the availability of x16 PCI-E slots on the mobo that I shouldn't run into any trouble, but that's really just an assumption. Am I missing anything?
4. Should I worry about upgrading any of the stock cooling, other than that of the CPU? I'm intending to overclock the CPU at least, and it looks as if airflow is quite good for the case, but I haven't dealt with a transversal cooler before and am not sure what kind of strain it's going to put on everything else. Should I just scrap that and go with a more standard fan/heatsink upgrade?

More about : build longevity

June 15, 2009 6:33:24 AM

Well, let's see.
1. I doubt you'll ever need that motherboard.
3 reasons: You'll never have quad SLI, you'll never NEED Tri-SLI @ 16x, and it's 100$ more than the Rampage which is an excellent motherboard even for the insane OCer.
2. Yes, the mobo is too much. You don't need that, and I'd never understand why you would want it. Yeah, it has everything, but everything is expensive and unnecessary
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Try this, it should fit your needs, and has 3 SLI if you ever need it (if ever- really).

If you're going all out on this build, get a pair of GTX 285's. They'll perform much better in SLI and you'll have a stronger set up than a pair of 4890s.
HDD- get an SSD. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
That should be good, and the PSU is a great choice.
If you want Blu-Ray get it.

4. Also, yes, invest in a 3rd party Heatsink.
Look at the True 120 from Frozencpu.com It comes with an LGA 1336 brackets, and performs very well.
Or get water cooling.

The CPU is the strongest part of your build, it should last around 3-4 years depending how long you actually want it to last.
The GPU's will need upgrading within a year, but save some money now to upgrade later (it's always better).
good luck,
June 15, 2009 7:30:41 AM

The heart of a gaming system is the monitor size. Because that's where you'll see and enjoy the fruits of your PC building labor. After you decide on the resolution you'll use to see the fine details in FC2 or Crysis, you'll have to pick the GPU to make that happen and then pick the CPU to drive the GPU.

This is how most gamers on a budget build their rigs. You pretty much have an unlimited budget so just get the best of everything.

A $350 mainboard and a GTX 295 are my two picks for this budget. You won't need dual GTX 285s if you're not going to play at a 2500 X 1600 rez.

Related resources
June 15, 2009 7:58:45 AM

Dont get that piece of crap SSD, get an OCZ vertex 60gb
June 15, 2009 7:59:03 AM

why is everything double posting lol
June 15, 2009 3:08:45 PM

hundredislandsboy said:
Forgot to mention, the Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 120mm performs better than the Xigmatek S-1283.

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


Any of the top 10 cpu coolers will be fine for anything but record overclocks.
The Xigmatek does test out better than the noctua in this review:
http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...


For the OP:

Even with a big budget, I see little possible future value in the P6T7 WS mobo.
The standard P6T has lots of expandability at half the price.

CPU, cooler, and case are good.
The Xigmatek is not overly top heavy, and with a backplate mount you should have no problems.

For a minor amount more, why not get 1600 ram? It will make overclocking easier.

I don't like SLI when a single vga card will do the job. I think the GTX295 would be better, even though it might be more expensive. VGA cards do not have a long useful life expectancy. Better and cheaper cards are in the pipeline from both nvidia and ati. I expect to see some arrive by the Christmas shopping season.
Your upgrade, if you want it, would be to sell the GTX295 and replace it with the next best thing.

A good psu has lots of longevity. The Corsair1000 is very good. But, take a look at the new PC P&C silencer910 psu:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It costs just a bit less, and is one of the few silver certified psu's around with 88% efficiency. It can handle two GTX295 cards.

For what it's worth, I think the best and most "future proof" PC purchase is a great monitor. You will be looking at it every day, and they do not seem to get obsoleted easily.
Consider a 30" 2560x1600 monitor. It will have twice the video acerage of a 24" unit, and gaming should be spectacular.

---good luck---
June 15, 2009 5:54:19 PM

Thanks you all for your suggestions, I really appreciate the help.

The new version of the build includes a PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS910, Corsair CMFSSD-256GBG2D SSD, CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 1600, Noctua NH-U12P (mostly for ease-of-use), and an ASUS P6T SE LGA 1366.

A new monitor would be the first thing I'd invest in given the option, but unfortunately I've got a size constraint on my display at the moment and probably won't be upgrading anytime soon. I am considering a GTX 295, but because of this I really don't see myself getting much out of it - since I'm stuck at 1920x1200, I'm expecting to need to upgrade when the 260s can't handle 1920x1200 at good settings, DX11 has good market penetration, or I upgrade my monitor; I don't think any of this should happen before the next generation of video cards hits. Unfortunately this means I'll probably be replacing them well before anything else, but I'm guessing that conditions 1 and 2 will be fulfilled close to one another, so I'd want to replace a 295 at about the same time instead of adding another. This isn't the most educated guess I've ever made - am I wrong here?
June 15, 2009 6:50:55 PM

Be very careful about any SSD's. Do not be seduced by synthetic benchmarks. MlC drives can have very annoying pauses when overloaded with small random writes.. something the OS does a lot of.
At one time, the only MLC drives without this problem was the intel X25-M. Things are changing in the SSD arena almost daily. Odds are, whatever SSD you buy today will be obsolete by the end of the year. Read this article about some of the issues:
http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3531&p=...

Intel has recently released firmware updates to their drives which improve performance as the drive gets filled up. At the moment, I would consider them first.
I would not spend big bucks on a SSD today if you can find a decent interim solution.
June 15, 2009 9:04:45 PM

Think you're probably right about waiting for a bit more maturity in SSDs, changing it out for a WD Caviar Black that I'll make a storage drive once the market settles down. Was hoping to avoid that, but it is looking like they'll be big pretty soon... Ah well, not like I didn't know that this was an exercise in futility.
!