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~ $1000 3D apps, Graphic Design, and Gaming computer

Last response: in Systems
July 31, 2009 3:06:27 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next few weeks.

BUDGET RANGE: 1000 - 1200 but may be convinced to increase the budget.

3D modeling /rendering (Google sketchup until I can save up for 3ds max or maya), Graphic Design (Gimp until I can save up for adobe CS3 or CS4, I'm not on top of what is current atm), Gaming (currently WoW, Team Fotress 2, Half Life 2, and Portal, but will eventually get some of the more recent games ), internet browsing, multimedia, general computing.

keyboard, mouse, speakers, and an asus 23" widescreen lcd for gaming (I plan on getting a second monitor, 22 to 24 inches (possibly 27 to 30 inches if the price and quality were right), more suited for graphic design, but its not included in the budget for this computer. I understand CRT monitors have superior color accuracy. However, I'd prefer the desk space gained from using LCD over a CRT monitor. So any suggestions are welcome, but I'm looking at the dell 2209wa (for its e-ips panel), which I don't think is in stock at the moment. I also plan on getting a monitor color calibration device soon, but it isn't in the budget atm. To put it simply, the budget is only for the case and everything in it.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: and, there is also a Microcenter not too far from me


Intel processor
OCZ, Corsair, or Kingston memory
Asus or gigabyte motherboard with support for 24gigs of ram if possible
Nvidia GPU for CUDA

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe. I've never done any overclocking before. I would be willing to try a stable overclock.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, down the road when I have the budget for it again and I need or want the extra performance

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 x 1080 for the Asus 23" widescreen, but I might try for higher on my design monitor

The component list got a little more expensive every time I tried to edit it to be cheaper. It may be better to use an older Intel quad core, especially if I can upgrade to i7 at a later date. I've upgraded the ram and video card in my computer, so I have a little experience with putting components together. As far as harddrives go, I don't know much about raid and multiple hard drives, but I think I should do a fast drive for the os and programs and 2 large stable mirrored drives for storage. If there is a better way I'd love to know.
Also, I would like to try dual booting linux 64 bit and windows vista 64 (or windows 7), and if possible, try triple booting with mac osx in addition to the other two, but that may be out of reach for my first build.

Some components I've looked at:

Case: I like the Cooler Master Storm Scout
Antec Three Hundred
but I'm open to other options that better fit the other components like a full tower instead of a mid.

cpu, and motherboard combo:
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

optical drive: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - OEM

gpu and OS combo:
XFX GX275XAHFF GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video

Card - Retail
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM

case and power supply combo:
COOLER MASTER UCP RS700-AAAAA3 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER

Certified Power Supply - Retail
COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Hard drive and ram combo:
OCZ Gold 12GB (6 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model
OCZ3G1600LV12GS - Retail
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

I apologize if it is hard to understand the wall of text. Ask me questions if you need something cleared up and I'll attempt to clarify to the best of my ability.
Thank you very much for any suggestions or assistance offered.
July 31, 2009 4:45:57 AM

The i7 920 is available @ Microcenter for about $220 including Taxes...
The rest of the component choices are very good...But the 700W PSU might be pushing it if you plan to add one more GTX 275 later (Though it would easily handle, but having some headroom would be good)...
August 1, 2009 4:03:37 AM

First, let me thank you for your reply :) 

Where did you find an i7 920 on Microcenter? Maybe its just because its set to the local microcenter version for availability information for me, or I was looking in the wrong place, but I didn't see any i7 920s. I'll have to go back and look harder.

I didn't know how large a PSU I would need, so I just randomly picked the 700w from the list of combos with the case.

Unfortunately, since my first post, the ram and hard drive combo has been removed, so I need to alter some things. Also, after posting, I saw some barebones systems on So I'm gonna alter my build and post it in another response to this thread.
Related resources
August 1, 2009 5:17:44 AM

Also, did you notice this other thread about using workstation graphics instead of gaming cards? You might find it interesting.

I see you mentiond CS4. If a college student, are you aware of the fantastic discounts they have at college bookstores. They might not all be the same - and some may not be advertised. I went to mine to buy Dreamweaver (list $399) for their advertised price of $199 and found they had a new deal whereby I could buy the complete Web Design Suite (list $1799) with Dreamweaver, Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash, and other programs for only $285, so I went with that instead. They had similar deals on other CS4 suites.
August 1, 2009 8:02:03 AM

Thank you for your reply, and for finding the i7.

I have seen educational discounts for the adobe progams before during past college semesters. However, I didn't attend last semester, but am planning to during the upcoming fall semester. I don't remember if there were any discounts through my school, just that I saw some from the companies themselves, and from the journeyed website which gives discounts on software for students. Regardless, I have to wait until at least September for any discounts, when I'm officially a student again.

Also, thank you for the link to the forum thread. You've given me some more info to go through and consider. Before I posted this thread, I was trying to read through threads for builds similar to what I'm trying to do. From what I gathered, rendering was more dependent on the processor and ram, not the gpu. If I wasn't going to do any gaming on this computer, I would for certain go with a worstation gpu. A friend was telling me I could get game performance out of a workstation gpu similar to an older gamer gpu. I'm not sure how much, or if its true at all.

Either way, you've given me plenty to read over, which I thank you for.

Edit: Forgot to add that a $1000 + worstation gpu is out of the budget for the forseable future.
August 3, 2009 4:21:30 AM

^ Your friend was right about the gaming performance of a workstation GPU...They are better optimized for rendering...So their performance would be slower compared to their desktop counterparts...

And as for the PSU, you might be able to get away with that 700W PSU...
August 3, 2009 5:49:29 AM

Thanks for your reply.

With regards to gaming on a workstation GPU, I should have elaborated that I considered going that route, as it would give me better performance for the workstation part of the computer, while still being able to game, though not with graphics at full tilt so to speak.

Also, I should have elaborated the 700W PSU was chosen because of it being part of a combo with a case I liked, and not knowing how much wattage I needed, causing me to go with one I thought might be adequate. Its good to know I could get away with the 700W, especially if I use a workstation gpu. However, I think I will find a 750 or 800W instead when I edit my build.
August 3, 2009 6:00:21 AM

^ That 700W PSU is a high rated PSU...So you should have no problems even going with dual desktop graphics card (Upto 2x GTX 275s)...
But sorry to to say but that combo no longer exist...
If you want to keep the price down and still get a good quality case and PSU, then check out this case -
Antec 300
August 13, 2009 1:15:44 PM

Thank you for your reply.

I've spent some time reading through some of the threads you've linked, and checking out the parts on newegg..etc. I think I need to lower my budget to 700 or 800, as I can't look at any list I make without cringing.

Part of the problem is the hard drives. I gather 1 boot disk, 1 storage disk, and 1 external backup disk is the fastest, cheapest, and reliable setup I can do, but 3 disks add 100 to 200 or more dollars to the components list. I don't understand how I would have to organize my files and programs just yet, still have to read up on it, but if theres a better cheaper set up I'd probably go with that instead.

I've also been considering an amd phenom ii x4 955 or 945 build to fit in the lower budget. I just want to make sure the amd build can do everything I need it to (I'm sure it can, I just want to optimize the performance). One concern I have is being unable to sli nvidia cards. I only plan on getting one gpu for now, but if I wanted more graphics capability, I would only be able to get a faster individual card. I want to stick with nvidia for CUDA, unless radeon has something similar.

I'm gonna post an amd and intel build a little later after I get some sleep.

Edit Edit: moved the 2 lists to a new post
August 14, 2009 10:17:20 AM

Here is a core i7 build:

ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
169.99 (out of stock as of posting, but hopefully I can pick it up in the next day or two if the ETA date is accurate, and the i7 build is the one to go with)

Intel Corporation Core i7 920 Processor Boxed

OCZ Gold Tri Channel 12GB PC10666 DDR3 Memory - 1333MHz, 12288MB (6 x 2048MB), CL9

EVGA 896-P3-1257-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
189.99 (159.99 after MIR)

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
119.99 (99.99 after MIR)

COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

3x: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM
94.99 (284.97 for 3)


And here is the AMD build:

AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX945FBGIBOX - Retail
ASUS M4A79 Deluxe AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS 1.5TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (bare drive) - OEM
CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5C G - Retail
479.96 for the combo

EVGA 896-P3-1257-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
189.99 (159.99 after MIR)

2x: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM
94.99 (189.98 for 2)

COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

total: 919.92

I'm sure I can lower the price if I find some good combos, but I wanted to nail down the specs before trying to put together combos that may expire before I get a full build.