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First time builder. Comment on i7 rig?

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July 6, 2009 10:06:13 PM

First post, so I hope I'm going about this in the right way.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about getting a new computer. The quest started at HP.com, I was going to customize their i7 desktop and call it a day, then I was introduced to cyberpowerpc. I spent the next day or two going through options and making up my mind, and I was all set to go until I was introduced to newegg and building my own system. Totally opened my eyes, and that pretty much brings everyone up to speed.

I've been researching like a madman, hunting for deals, learning what terms mean and what parts do. I think I've finally found the perfect combination of stuff that satisfies me.. BUT, in the end I'm still a newbie and a first time builder, and that's why I'm here to ask some experts and veterans. First the rig, and then a few questions about components and compatibility.

Cpu: i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz
Cooler: XIGMATEK Dark Knight
Mobo: EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX X58 SLI LE Intel Motherboard
Ram: OCZ XMP ready 6GB ddr3 1600
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5"
Vid card: EVGA 896-P3-1170-AR GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3
OS: Windows Vista 64-bit Home Premium
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922
PSU: COOLER MASTER RS-700-AMBA-D3 700W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Certified 80 PLUS Certified Modular
Drive: LITE-ON Black 6X Blu-Ray DVD ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA Model iHES106-29 - OEM
Tuner: ASUS My Cinema-PHC3-100/NAQ/FM/AV/RC TV Tuner Card PCI Interface
+ Arctic Silver 5 thermal compound

Primarily this computer will be used as an entertainment hub. Lots of tv, videos, DVR functionality, blu-ray output to a 42" 1080p Panasonic. Lots of web browsing, music, and general multitasking. I also want it to be able to handle current games without slowdown, though I'm not overly concerned about running them at max settings.

My main questions are:

First of all, does my build get the job done efficiently?
Is the power supply good enough/high enough wattage? I don't plan on a second vid card.
Will the case hold all the components I've chosen? Including the tv tuner card.
Is the graphics card sufficient? For $20 more you can get factory OC'ed cards it seems, though the reviews are lower.
Also, is GTX 275 the way to go instead of 4890? I'm a bit torn, but based on reviews I've loosely chosen the 275.
Is the mobo sufficient?

Any answers to those, or general comments/suggestions about the build would be very appreciated. Thanks for listening.
July 6, 2009 10:17:05 PM

Quote:
First of all, does my build get the job done efficiently?


From the needs you defined, it's overkill. Except maybe for the gaming bit, since you are going 1080p here.

Quote:

Is the power supply good enough/high enough wattage? I don't plan on a second vid card.

Yes.

Quote:
Will the case hold all the components I've chosen? Including the tv tuner card.

Case wise? Yes. Mainboard wise? Yes, the PCI slot is pretty far from the GPU.

Quote:
Is the graphics card sufficient? For $20 more you can get factory OC'ed cards it seems, though the reviews are lower.

It's easy enough to overclock them yourself; it's just raising and lowering a few bars in a little program, and then testing it with heavy gaming/benchmark programs to make sure it works. But even without the OC, you'll be fine.
Quote:

Also, is GTX 275 the way to go instead of 4890? I'm a bit torn, but based on reviews I've loosely chosen the 275.

It's a give and take between the two. Find out what games you want to play, but if you're not greedy about max-settings, then it shouldn't matter. The performance difference is pretty marginal, but I believe the 275 stands out a bit more.
Quote:

Is the mobo sufficient?

Define sufficient. Will it fit the GPU and tuner and all your other parts? Yes. Will your i7 work? Yes.

Improvements will have to be suggested by someone who's more familiar with i7 board though. I'm always inclined to recommend Gigabyte's UD4 series though.
July 6, 2009 10:29:46 PM

Thank you for the speedy reply. I'm alright with a bit of overkill. After struggling with slowdowns just from using WMP while web browsing I've decided it's time to not just step it up, but put the final nail in the slowdown coffin. I'm not so concerned with 'future proof', I just want a very solid machine that will handle everything like a champ and finally let me play some games. With a $1500ish budget, I want to get the best bang for my buck and never look back to pre built PCs again.

Admittedly I chose the EVGA motherboard because of it's color scheme and combo deal with the ram. I've heard good things about Gigabyte and Asus, but I've also heard good things about EVGA tech support. When I ask if it's sufficient, I mean that in a general sense, not really knowing what functions to look for in a good board. I know it's X58, and I know that's what I need. Apart from that, my ignorance of the whole thing really starts to show.

Thanks again.
Related resources
July 6, 2009 10:59:13 PM

The EVGA board you picked is good. It is the "stock" version of the Classified, as I call it. I wish it was out when I got my EVGA X58 board. The GTX275 will perform nicely for you, as well.

When you go to install your Xigmatek read this thread... Some notes before applying thermal paste to the Xigmatek. It has a good walk through on the steps need to install it properly.
July 7, 2009 12:15:04 AM

If you don't plan to SLI with at least two 260GTX , just forget it and go with a Phenom II CPU.

So in short, if you don't plan to use 2 graphic cards, an i7 rig will only gives you a marginal gain. Just check the comparaisons on Hard OCP and tomshardware, they all point out at the same conclusion.

Core i7 are for high end enthusiast. You will not see a major benefit for the 300$ more you are going to invest.

With the extra 300$, I would get a great sound card, a full HAF case (trust me, bigger is better... especially when playing in it) and a way better power supply like a new Corsair 80+ gold HX.

Don't do like the vast majority of peoples who neglect these important components.
July 7, 2009 12:26:04 AM

mlcloud said:

Define sufficient. Will it fit the GPU and tuner and all your other parts? Yes. Will your i7 work? Yes.

Improvements will have to be suggested by someone who's more familiar with i7 board though. I'm always inclined to recommend Gigabyte's UD4 series though.


Well, on that one I totally disagree. Gigabyte is the worst motherboard manufacturer I have come to know. For exemple my 965P-DS3 pro board died not once, not twice, but 3 times in less than a year. The last time I just bought an asus board for my Core 2 duo system to get rid of this damn joke.

The first time, it was DOA to add to the tragedy. Never again... simply never again... and Gigabyte customer support is frigging horrible. If it wasn't for NCIX great support I would have gone mad!

Asus and MSI are easily the most reliable mobo manufacturer I have come to cross.
July 7, 2009 12:26:24 AM

It's a pretty darn good system and all components will work good together.

A few recommendations would be an Antec 1200 case which is amazing. If noise is an issue, since this will be an entertainment PC, you can go for a quiter case such as an Antec Sonato. Also you could give water cooling a shot to quiet it down more.

The Antec 1200 has ports made for qater cooling, as well as factory installed speed controllers to quiet the fans down for watching TV, Movies, etc... Crank them up for gaming and general use.

Antec also makes the CP series of power supply. It's larger than most which drops the price, but it only fits certain cases such as teh 1200. This case and power supply is a great match.

Also you choose the EVGA motherboards. I have no experience with them but I'll give my 2 cents. If your a noob and want a board that just plain works, and works well, then an Asus is good choice. If you want to tweak the hell out of it for every last drop then DFI is your choice.

As for the video card, go to TOms hardware and check the article on best video cards for your money. It'll give you the best buy for your budget. Buy based on this. I wouldn't worry about overclocking the video card. You'll be able to play the games at max settings without overclocking. Unless your a FPS freak that goea to gaming LANS and wants to outdo everyone else, then overclocking the video card isn't really an issue.

One thing that you didn't mention was sound. I know sound is an issue since this is an entertainment PC. Will you be using a home stereo, or computer speakers? If its a home stereo you'll probably want to connect VIA an optical SPDIF cable. Make sure the motherboard has this for an output. Maybe you want a sound card and not use onboard? Let us know what the situation is with your sound.

I don't like Liteon drives. I have had many defective ones and no longer sell them in my store. I like pioneer. yes sometimes Samsung, Sony, etc... are required for ripping certain things or for use in XBOX mods...but aside from those rare situations I like the pioneer for durability. They work...period. If money is no object then a Plextor is a nice drive. I'd go pioneer.

Other than these minor details you have an excellent build here.
July 7, 2009 12:40:10 AM

Thanks for the continuing responses. I'll try to address the last couple posts, in order.

If I don't go with i7, and instead go with the phenom 2 it alters my build pretty substantially. I don't know a lot about this kind of thing admittedly.. but with a budget of $1500 I want to get the best bang for my buck that I can. In my research over the past week I've seen a lot of gaming builds for around $1000 dollars. Including the phenom 2, the same video card, and a higher wattage psu. Does this mean that there is no happy medium? I would like to think my extra 500 dollars is getting me something tangibly better.

Ideally, I'd like to use the majority of my budget and squeeze every drop out of it for the best system I can get. Going under is fine, saving money is always a good thing.. but in my mind it's been i7 from the get go. I appreciate your response but to change the cpu now would really set me back in my whole thought process.

I'm willing to hear advice and ideas, but that's going to be a tough one to crack for me. Then again, that's why I'm here.

Also maybe once I get the system together, understand building better, see the results.. I'll be more prone to add a second gtx 275. If that were the case, would it make the i7 worthwhile?

Also, would the cooler master 700w psu be enough to support 2 gtx 275's?

Now, to the next post.

I completely forgot to include my receiver. Outputting blu-ray to my tv is a very important part of this setup, and everything that goes to my tv first goes through my Onkyo receiver through hdmi. I don't remember the model number, unless 650 rings a bell. I have a 5.1 Polk speaker set that works nicely with it. I'm glad you brought that up, because I'm curious if running dvi to hdmi out of my gtx 275 to the Onkyo will give me good 1080p resolution and 5.1 sound? I checked and all devices are HDCP complaint, if that makes a difference.

I'm also a little stubborn on the case, and it's the reason I chose the power supply (decent combo deal, and had to pick between 700w or spend more for 1000w which is too much). I'm willing to look into other options though, my original build had an Antec 900. It's a little vain, but I'm really enjoying the black/red theme I have going on. Anything else you have to say I'd appreciate hearing out, and that applies to all that have posted. I'm getting much better input here than other forums I've tried.

I'm going to grab dinner, but will be doing a lot of thinking and checking back on this thread. Thanks everybody.
July 7, 2009 1:19:09 AM

Quick follow up after re-reading everything, I skimmed a bit trying to respond to two things at once and missed a few posted suggestions.

I'll look into the better power supply, bigger case, etc. I'm a little worried, as I was almost ready to hit the buy button and now I'm second guessing myself. I really like the build I put together, but I just don't know about certain things as I said before. The only work I've done hardware wise is drop ram and a video card into a pre-built cheap computer. I'm kind of at the mercy of veterans advice.

Specifics are good, as it took me almost a solid week of reading and searching to put together that 6th draft build I posted initially. Also, confirmation from other posters wouldn't hurt as I don't want to go back on everything because of a singular opinion. Opinions are very appreciated, but hearing 'go for it' and 'change the cpu' back to back does add some confusion. No offense to anyone of course, this is the best advice I've seen and I've really been looking.

Thanks.
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