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Spare No Expense Gaming Rig - CA$2500 - $3000

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August 9, 2009 4:22:41 AM

Well, it's about that time for me to get into the market again and build myself a new gaming rig. My current system is about 4-5 years old and simply cannot compete with the currenty slew of games coming out, no matter what I do to improve it. The two things which always wreck my gaming experiences are long load times and "choppy" gameplay (low fps). So I want to be sure this new rig has lots of overhead to work with. With my current system even at low settings, windowed, and 800x600 my computer works to the max on new games to squeeze out 30fps at the best of times. So suffice to say, its time to build a new system. And I'm saving my money now to buy for the near future.

What I need from the TH community is a second opinion, to make sure the following specs are sound. I don't want any glaring bottlenecks or "weak" points in my system. I want good performance across the board. Here is where I am currently heading:


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Saving to buy the system sometime in October. Brings the question of "should I wait for certain hardware to come out?" into play.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: High-end Gaming. I want this thing to be a beast when it comes to gaming performance! I also use AutoCAD often, which can be a resource hog when multi-tasking my dwgs.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Just the case and every goodie inside. No keyboard, mouse, monitor, printer, or sound system needed.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: For years, I've only bought my computer hardware at BCOM, a locally owned computer store in Edmonton. Great competitive CDN prices, OEM products, and the latest hardware just 5 minutes away, what more could a computer techie want? Plus, I like to support locally owned businesses, not some website. So understand that the prices and hardware I've chosen below are directly picked from this site. I've never shopped online for hardware, but if you can find these products at cheaper CDN prices elsewhere, perfect!

PARTS PREFERENCES: Current Build - 08/08/2009

CPU: INTEL® CORE I7 940 2.93GHZ 8MB 4.8GT/S S1366 (same performance as the 965 for cheaper? *shrug* Ok) CA$670 Question is: Should I wait for 950 and 975's? Hmmm.
MotherBoard: An Intel MoBo with i7 QuadCore CPU, ATI Crossfire, and DDR3 support. I am looking at the x58 chipsets right now, but there are many to choose from. I have not nailed down a particular board. Honestly, it's hard to tell the difference. Suggestions? I am not worried about cost here, only the best performance with my build. ~CA$350
Graphics Card: Easy choice. SAPPHIRE HD 4870X2 2GB DDR5 PCI-E CA$444
Ram: Kingston or Cruical? I dunno. My two choices: 1) KINGSTON DDR3 NON-ECC KVR1333D3N9K3/6G 6GB 1333MHZ CL9 DIMM (Kit of 3) CA$159.00 2) CRUCIAL DDR3 NON-ECC PC3-10600 1333MHZ 6GB (Kit of 3) CA$133
HD: SEAGATE - OEM - SATA 1TB ST31000340SV SV35.3 HARD DRIVE 7200RPM 32MB CA$116
Power: POWER SUPPLY ENERMAX GALAXY EGX850EWL 850W I think 850W should be enough, yea? CA$211
Optical Drive: I am thinking of getting a blue-ray player, since thats where most movies are going. Here's my choice - BLU-RAY LITEON OEM DH-4B1S-13 BLU-RAY 4X DVDRW CA$185
Case: Big enough to hold my system with good ventalation, flat top (I put my printer there), and a side window preferably. Any suggestions? I feel the least informed in this area, as I believe my purchase will be driven primarily by taste and how it looks (naturally), but what should I look out for, technically speaking? ~CA$150-200

OVERCLOCKING: No. I've never attempted to overclock, and I don't want to run the risk of ruining my nice new hardware (I would hate myself if I screwed up royally). I want an awesome system without to need to overclock my system in order to squeeze out that extra power to make it awesome.
ATI CROSSFIRE: Yes. See Graphics Card above. I prefer going with Crossfire instead of SLI, from what I've heard.

COOLING: I looked into water cooling briefly, but it looks very work intensive (not for me). I'm opting for fan cooling, but not sure about the stock fans on the case, graphics card, or CPU I've listed. Should I stay with stock fans (considering I'm not overclocking, or do I need to buy better fans?) One thing I HATE is loud fans. My current system sounds like a f-16 with it sitting next to me. It's so annoying and I want the problem gone in my new rig.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: best I've played at is 1024x768 with no AA, so anything better is icing on the cake for me! But I want my new system to pull awesome performance at the Highest/High settings on games without breaking a sweat. I'm tired of playing at Low settings on games.

OPERATING SYSTEM: I still don't know. I've really loved Windows XP and I hate Vista. But I don't know about Win 7. Which OS should I go for, gaming-wise? I am torn. Go with the old, tried and true Windows XP which has lots of support, the crappy Vista for gaming (at least I think so), or the new untested Seven platform? I'm leaning towards 7, just because I am sure XP will one day no longer be supported, and I would hate having to switch OS "midswing" (I will cry on that day).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Man, I forgot how FUN building PC's is; doing all the research and finding the best hardware! I'm really looking forward to ROCKTOBER, both with all the game releases and my new PC! wooh! :D 
August 9, 2009 5:00:54 AM

The intel core i7 950 should already be out :S - even if you upgrade now to a 940 it wouldn't make much difference.
for that resolution you should just get a gtx 285, or a 4890 if your planning to crossfire in the future.
Buy vista 64bit ultimate or whichever is suitable for you, it has an upgrade option that lets you upgrade to windows 7 without Reformatting.

Case - Coolermaster storm sniper / Scout ( Both would do nicely ) 199CAD to 130CAD
I originally ordered the storm scout at my local comp store, but when they brought it out it was a sniper! they only charged me 130 because they didnt know LOL!!!the boxes are quite similar.

Optical drive, you might wanna get both, blu ray and DVD only if you watch blu ray movies. or like spending lots of money =)
as for your mother board, try mine =) Tri SLI / Crossfire ready - DFI Lanparty x58 UT - If they have it at your local shop. if not, any crossfire board on the x58 is really good. expensive too.

a 4870x2 at that resolution will run slower than a gtx 275. nearly half that price.

Harddrive - Western Digital Caviar black 1tb, it has dual Proc and 32mb cache, 1tb because it uses SataII if that makes any difference lol.

as for memory, Corsair / Kingston, or even patriot is a good choice, I myself use G.Skill because it wasn't too expensive + its at 2000mhz haha!

Heatsink - Thermalright ultra 120 True black would do the job with or without fans attached . - Powersupply, try for a 1000w if your set on buying your 4870x2, you'll probably crossfire that in the future since you mentioned. Corsair is a good brand for PSU's.

I agree, building a PC is fun! :D 
August 9, 2009 5:07:04 AM

For utilizing your RAM you need vista 64bit. windows xp doesn't have directx10, and as you know directx10 gives you that realistic water, sky.... graphics. I would like to comment on the hardware but I fear I may be wrong, but people correct me if I am :)  CPU is not worth it, if you buy a core i7920 and O/C it, you have the same performance for half the price! everyone is O/Cing their i7 920 to number as high as 4.2Ghz, because I am a overclocking newbie I only O/Ced to 3.78GHz. I am using corsair power and everybody is recommending it, so i will do the same and recommend it to you as I have come to love mine. I would also rething the graphic cards mate! If you are going with ATI why not go for the better 4890? or even yet go for an NVIDA GTX 275 SLI?
Also for your case I would recommend getting a full tower, this means lots of air circulation and easier accessing the components. Cooler master have some nice cases, the HAF 932 or the COSMOS.

Let me know what you think :) 
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August 9, 2009 2:57:59 PM

I think it's better to ask this question closer to the date you build it. New parts will be out and prices will change. You will want a Core i7-860, which will be released in September. The graphics market will be totally different in October with the release of ATI's 5000 series GPUs.

If loading times are such a big deal to you, you should look into getting an SSD.
a b 4 Gaming
August 9, 2009 3:44:56 PM

Here is a build for max performance.... I've included two XFX 4890's but I would recommend switching to the ATI's 5000 series GPU's when you do your build and the prices should be close in the end!!

Total Cost: $2,157.89, not including OS
  • CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
  • MOBO: ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
  • RAM: x2 OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail for 12GB for RAM since your require more memory with your Auto CAD requirements
  • HDD: SSD for OS/Programs: OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail and 1TB for Games/Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM
  • GPU: x2 XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
  • PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS910 910W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified ... - Retail
  • HSF: Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 - Retail, plus bracket: Sunbeam CR-LGA1366 LGA 1366 Core I7 Socket Retention Bracket Set - Retail
  • Case: COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 RC-840-SSN1-GP Silver Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
  • OS: Get Windows 7 64-bit when it is released. You'll need 64-bit to utilize all of your RAM..

    This is a very powerful system and will play pretty much any game a max settings at 1900x1200 or lower resolution. If you aren't playing or not capable of 1900x1200, then the dual video cards become an overkill and a waste of money!

    The Core i7 920 is the best processor out and will most likely remain that way until the Core i9's come out. The new Core i7's on the LGA 1156 socket will be nice but lack the true power of the i7's on the 1366 socket. The i7 920 DO has the most potential of all of the processors with it's overclocking ability, you'll find it is hard to beat the price to performance of this processor. To easy your fear of overclocking, read this thread... Core i7 Overclocking Guide, it is a very easy step-by-step on how to overclock the Core i7 920. Also, check the BIOS in your MOBO, most have a "Dumbie Overclock" settings that set it up to 3.2 GHz, which requires no adjustments on your part, except to say enable in the BIOS and adds performance.
    August 9, 2009 5:04:36 PM

    meewog said:
    For utilizing your RAM you need vista 64bit. windows xp doesn't have directx10, and as you know directx10 gives you that realistic water, sky.... graphics. I would like to comment on the hardware but I fear I may be wrong, but people correct me if I am :)  CPU is not worth it, if you buy a core i7920 and O/C it, you have the same performance for half the price! everyone is O/Cing their i7 920 to number as high as 4.2Ghz, because I am a overclocking newbie I only O/Ced to 3.78GHz. I am using corsair power and everybody is recommending it, so i will do the same and recommend it to you as I have come to love mine. I would also rething the graphic cards mate! If you are going with ATI why not go for the better 4890? or even yet go for an NVIDA GTX 275 SLI?
    Also for your case I would recommend getting a full tower, this means lots of air circulation and easier accessing the components. Cooler master have some nice cases, the HAF 932 or the COSMOS.

    Let me know what you think :) 



    Ahh, I didn't realize the importance of the OS to utilize my RAM, thanks for that info. Then for sure I'll be getting Windows 7, or at least that upgradeable version of Vista. If I do plan on a SSD HD like paranoidmage suggested, I'd be going with Windows 7, since that seems to be the OS to utilize a SSD drive without the immense hassle.

    Oh, and yea I was also looking at the HAF 932 case, it sure looks cool. :D 


    Quote:
    Here is a build for max performance.... I've included two XFX 4890's but I would recommend switching to the ATI's 5000 series GPU's when you do your build and the prices should be close in the end!!

    Total Cost: $2,157.89, not including OS

    * CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
    * MOBO: ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    * RAM: x2 OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1600LV6GK - Retail for 12GB for RAM since your require more memory with your Auto CAD requirements
    * HDD: SSD for OS/Programs: OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail and 1TB for Games/Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives - OEM
    * GPU: x2 XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    * PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS910 910W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified ... - Retail
    * HSF: Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 - Retail, plus bracket: Sunbeam CR-LGA1366 LGA 1366 Core I7 Socket Retention Bracket Set - Retail
    * Case: COOLER MASTER ATCS 840 RC-840-SSN1-GP Silver Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
    * OS: Get Windows 7 64-bit when it is released. You'll need 64-bit to utilize all of your RAM..


    This is a very powerful system and will play pretty much any game a max settings at 1900x1200 or lower resolution. If you aren't playing or not capable of 1900x1200, then the dual video cards become an overkill and a waste of money!

    The Core i7 920 is the best processor out and will most likely remain that way until the Core i9's come out. The new Core i7's on the LGA 1156 socket will be nice but lack the true power of the i7's on the 1366 socket. The i7 920 DO has the most potential of all of the processors with it's overclocking ability, you it is hard to beat the price to performance of this processor. To easy your fear of overclocking, read this thread... Core i7 Overclocking Guide, it is a very easy step-by-step on how to overclock the Core i7 920. Also, check the BIOS in your MOBO, most have a "Dumbie Overclock" settings that set it up to 3.2 GHz, which requires no adjustments on your part, except to say enable in the BIOS and adds performance.



    Wow tecmo34, just amazing work; thanks for that! I think I'm sold on getting the 920's now and OC'ing it to 4.0Ghz, thanks to your post. Screw the 940's and above, I'm saving myself some money here, lol. I checked out that OC thread, and yea... my fears have definitely been put to rest, now that I know what to look out for (i.e. cranking the voltages past recommended levels). I always thought OC'ing meant you had to mess with the hardware physically and crap. Maybe in past years. But little did I know OC'ing on the 920's is done solely in the BIOS, LOL. Well that changes everything, wooh!

    My only concern with your build is utilizing two HD-- one SSD drive to store my OS, and one SATA drive for storing the bulk of my games. I've never attempted a two HD build before. My question would be: Is it easy to manage and install (say, on the ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard you recommended)? Would the x58 support two HD (naturally I'd assume so these days)? I've seen a few hints here and there that SSD drives, even though they are cutting edge, can be a pain to get working right. Is this true? Should I wait for the Windows 7 OS in this case? Are there any guides that could enlighten me how to install these two drives on a x58 board?

    The two XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Cards makes sense to me now. Not quite sure how I didn't see this options was the better, lol. But yea, I'm with you on waiting to see what the market does in the next few months, video card-wise. I'm keeping an eye on the ATI 5000's now.

    Checking out your pick tecmo34 makes me want to pull out my credit card and buy it NOW, lol, but I know I have to wait to see what the market plays in the next few months. But, just know I've got this pick in my back pocket if either nothing impresses later on, or if another person has a better second opnion.

    I'm on the right trail now. Thanks guys, keep the suggestions coming!

    This is too FUN! :) 



    August 10, 2009 11:43:29 AM

    My vote is still on gtx 275 sli, but dont listen to me, im biased on that :D 
    August 10, 2009 11:49:52 AM

    also take a look at the coolermaster V10 cpu cooler.its cool (pun intended) nearly as big as the mobo, does its job realy well, on the expensive side. best looking cooler ever ;) 
    !