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College Bound w/ Money to Spend

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September 4, 2009 8:24:06 PM

Bah retyping this a second time after clicking on something on this page by accident and having whole message disappear when I hit back button.

I am "borrowing" my Dad's THW account as it's been hours since I created my own and still haven't received my conformation e-mail so I can activate it. Kinda fits as though this will be my 4th build, it was my dad who selected all the components and did or guided most of the assembly work. Since I'm now starting college, he figures it's time to "cut the cord" ....umbilical not electrical :)  ..... and wants me to do this one on my own.

Background: My current desktop is based upon an Asus P4S8X-X Deluxe w/ 2.83 Ghz Pentium built in 2003 w/ a few vid card updates over the years. I can still play most of the games I'm interested in on it but of course not at the very highest settings. So I'm jumping into the waters here with some last bits of advice from Dad:

1. Minimize the amount of vendors you use. Minimizes shipping and return hassles.
2. Minimize number of component vendors if possible. Eliminate arguments w/ tech support when you call about your MoBo and they blame the vid card, it's nice to be able to say "it's your card too". Case and Power supply match for example, often means no worrying about fit or wires reaching where they gotta go. [Edit] Looks like I gonna violate this one as newegg seems to have dropped the Asus 295 GTX.
3. Familiarity is good. Using what you know makes things easier.
4. Keep in mind what you have .... with 6 desktops and 6 laptops in the house, how many websites you want to visit for driver updates after a windows service pak install makes thinks go boinky ?
5. Read the reviews and visit the geek web sites. Benefit from other smistakes by finding out what works and what doesn't.
6. Read the stickies and follow forum protocols.

So with specific attention to item 6..... here goes :) 

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Late October coinciding with release of Windows 7

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: important stuff (getting thru college) for the most part won't test the computer other than my photography courses .... had to put that in there as Dad will probably see this post :) ..... But I do work for Dad (AutoCAD) and enjoy playing games, watching movies, etc. and those three will put biggest strain on the PC.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Could use old KB / Mouse / Speakers but since keeping that machine as a file server will probably buy new.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg .... Dad builds a lot of PC's for clients, coworkers, friends , relatives and I think he's on a first name basis w/ half the newegg folks.

PARTS PREFERENCES: We have a lot of Asus MoBo's vid cards and MoBos....lotsa Antec cases ... know how to reach their tech Support have all important sites bookmarked.

OVERCLOCKING: Will dabble, probably mostly w/ presets but as I educate myself will probably dabble a bit more.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: have 1280 x 1024 .... will soon move to 1920 x 1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Want fan control for switching from quiet when doing school work to "Hoover" mode (suck animals and small children into intake ports) when gaming. Don't wanna mess with water with this one.

BUDGET: Have "school computer budget" of $2,750. I already got avery discounted MacBook Pro from the school so have all of that left over for my desktop. But I am working full time and still living at home so I can make "adjustments" where it makes sense.

So after reading the reviews and trying to stay w/ what I am familiar with, I came up with the following:

First Draft:

MoBo ASUS Rampage II Extreme - $359.99

CPU Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor $279.99

VidCard EVGA 017-P3-1295-AR CO-OP Edition GeForce GTX 295 1792MB $499.99

Memory Mushkin Redline 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Model 998692 w/ 6-7-6-18 timings $204.99

HD Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB 7200 RPM SATA $79.99

Case Antec Twelve Hundred ATX Full Tower Case $169.99

Fans Antec 761345-75024-0 120mm Blue LED Case Fan $27.98

PSU Antec Signature SG-850 850W $229.99

DVD Plextor Black 8X BD-ROM 16X / 48X SATA BD Combo Model PX-B320SA LS Support - OEM $134.99

KB Logitech G19 Black USB Wired $199.99

Mouse Logitech G9 Gaming Mouse $89.99

Cooler Prolimatech Megahalems $59.99

CPU Fans (2) Enermax Magma 120mm x 25mm Fan w/ "Twister" Bearing 69 cfm @ 19dba

Thermal Paste IC Diamond 7 Carat Thermal Compound $6.99

OS Windows 7 Ultimate $169.99

Options:

-Two more HD's and RAID 5 (Add $180)

I'm $250 or so under budget. But I am working so can fill in gaps as needed where it makes sense and will probably go for a 24" S-PVA panel for my photo work. Loved the Lenovo L220x as, not being a TN panel, it's great for both photos and gaming but it's not looking too good as the supply has drained and it's no longer made. Dad's been searching for the latest and greatest in the S-PVA world and hasn't come up with anything great other than the Eizo's (outta my price range) and the Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP which goes for about $450.

Now will be checking web sites from users w/ similar combinations to see their experiences and e-mailing vendors with "fit" questions like will Megahalems CPU cooler fit that Mobo or block memory slots ?

Suggestions and comments welcome.
September 4, 2009 9:13:23 PM

Looks like a powerhouse machine. Some miscellaneous thoughts:

1. Most reviews I've seen report that few applications make use of more than 3 GB of memory - so the original 6 GB should be plenty - although I don't know about your CAD work. So maybe it is not big deal to leave the optional memory for later.

2. I think the i920 with a little OC should be flaming fast and you can take care of budget deficit right there, shaving $220 off.

3. Video card - go with GTX 285 for now instead of GTX 295 - save another $150. What games will you be playing that will not show at least 50 fps on the 285? Then later, when games demand more add another 285 purchased at a much lower price. Her is chart showing performance on 285 single and SLI and 295 that shows what I mean.

http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-card...

4. At your budget level, it is a shame not to include a SSD. Unfortunately newegg just inexplicably jumped prices on Intel X25-M drives. Others are improving rapidly. I think you shoujld monitor between now and purchase date and see if you can find a good one to fit into budget. Given the rest of the build - this might be the bottleneck where it makes sense to spend a little more money.
September 4, 2009 9:21:33 PM

When you get to college - make sure you check out the software saving options. Check with your college bookstore to see what they have. I recently purchased purchased Adobe Creative Suite Web 4 Premium, which has a list prive of $1,799 for only $279 from my bookstore.

MS also has some deals directly - include Office Ultimate (more software titles than Office Pro) for only $60 and Visio Professional 2007 for $57.

http://www.microsoft.com/student/discounts/theultimates...

These are all full versions of the software with all that is in the standard commercial versions.
Related resources
September 4, 2009 9:35:11 PM

I don't think you need to spend anywhere near your budget to get what you need. Look at some of the other i7 builds on this forum to get some ideas (sorry I'm at work right now so this is a quick response).

September 4, 2009 10:08:27 PM

rockyjohn said:


1. Most reviews I've seen report that few applications make use of more than 3 GB of memory - so the original 6 GB should be plenty - although I don't know about your CAD work. So maybe it is not big deal to leave the optional memory for later.



The 3 GB (depends on vid card RAM) is, to my understanding, a 32 bit OS limitation. Figuring on using 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate.
September 4, 2009 10:12:08 PM

rockyjohn said:
When you get to college - make sure you check out the software saving options.


Every student gets a free copy of MS Office though I am gonna stick with Open Office which I have on my Mac. I haven't gotten word as yet what's happening w/ CS4
September 4, 2009 10:27:43 PM

Do you really need Windows 7 Ultimate? Ultimate is just a waste of money for most users. I would suggest Home Premium.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/compare-edit...

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM $109.99

This RAM has the exact same specs as the kit you picked for $35 less:

G.SKILL Trident 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL6T-6GBTD - Retail $169.99

The Rampage II Extreme is grossly overpriced. Use this CPU + motherboard combo to save a load of cash. There's absolutely no reason to spend $500 on a CPU when an i7 can easily be overclocked to 3.6GHz - 4GHz.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... (ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 + i7 920 combo) $544.98

I would use the money saved on an Intel SSD.
September 4, 2009 10:57:05 PM

shortstuff_mt said:
Do you really need Windows 7 Ultimate? Ultimate is just a waste of money for most users. I would suggest Home Premium.


We have 6 desktops already on the network plus 6 laptops popping on and off.....it was my understanding that MS Home versions are limited to 5 network connections. We have a "curbside PC" (neighbor got new gateway which they gave up on supporting over the phone and sent her new replacement .... twice .... Gateway didn't want to pay shipping back so they said to toss it......I brought home and Dad reinstalled OS and cleaned out some dust and it works fine) that my mom uses w/ XP Home and it can't get on the network if there's 5 or more people on.
September 4, 2009 11:27:41 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
The 3 GB (depends on vid card RAM) is, to my understanding, a 32 bit OS limitation. Figuring on using 64 bit Windows 7 Ultimate.

You are talking about the 32 bid memory addressing issue. I understand that but what I am talking about is reviews that show how even 64 bit power systems don't generally use more than 3 GB. Here is an example from an April 2009 THG article - part of the conclusion from the last page of the article followed by the link:

Not much has changed since 4 GB of RAM became the “sweet spot” for performance and price in the enthusiast market. While 32-bit operating systems previously limited those 4 GB configurations to around 3 GB of useful memory space, today's test shows that 3 GB is still usually enough.

We remember days when having multiple Internet Explorer windows open could cause a system to become sluggish. But even that scenario has become unrealistic, as all the configurations we tested in this review supported over 100 open windows simultaneously.

If 3 GB worked so well, why do we continue to recommend 4 GB to 6 GB triple-channel kits for performance systems? Perhaps we’re just a little too forward-looking, but we can certainly imagine scenarios a typical “power user” could encounter where 3 GB might not be enough, even if today’s tests didn’t reveal any of them. For those folks, stepping up to a 64-bit operating system at the same time is undoubtedly the best course of action.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/memory-module-upgra...
September 5, 2009 2:17:43 AM

I had read that article but I focused on the last sentence"

"For those folks, stepping up to a 64-bit operating system at the same time is undoubtedly the best course of action. "

My current box (built in 2003) has had the memory upgraded twice.....1st time I filled in the empty slots, 2nd time I yanked it all and replaced it. I figure I gonna try and avoid that this time around and by 2011 I figure I will be filling in the 4th thru 6th slots.
September 5, 2009 3:01:20 AM

rockyjohn said:
At your budget level, it is a shame not to include a SSD. Unfortunately newegg just inexplicably jumped prices on Intel X25-M drives. Others are improving rapidly. I think you shoujld monitor between now and purchase date and see if you can find a good one to fit into budget. Given the rest of the build - this might be the bottleneck where it makes sense to spend a little more money.


When I started I was of the mindset that SSD's are "not quite ready for prime time" ... your suggestion sent me looking and seems things are getting there. Likes everything I read about the OCZ Summit which was $369 for a 128 GB job.

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

Seems there's still issues with performance over time but from further reading, new firmware and Windows 7's Trim feature should eliminate this. Thx for the tip.
September 5, 2009 5:45:06 AM

Lets see what I can come up with for your Build.

x58 Mobo
This x58 mobo is the Dark Horse and it is suprising very good.
ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $169.99
Anandtech Review on ASRock X58 Extreme

CPU
Go to Antares Digital and get a 920 with DO Stepping for $274.00 plus $5.50 shipping.
http://www.antaresdigital.com/customer/product.php?prod...

Ram


Graphic Card
ASUS MATRIX GTX285/HTDI/1GD3 GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit DDR3 $339.99 Free Shipping*

Here are a few other Cases' you need to look at and also your choice.
Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail $169.99

Zalman GS1000 Plus Professional Computer Case - Black with Hot Swap Bays & PSU Roller Rails $199.95
*note: if you want Window on side panel you can Special order it there get for $79.99.

Pre-order of the Corsair Obsidian Series 800D CC800DW Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $279.99 Free Shipping*

Either one of these PSU is your best choice.
CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W Modular Power Supply $199.99 Free Shipping*

CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W Modular Power Supply $239.99 ($219.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate Card) Free Shipping*

HDD's.
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB 7200 RPM $89.99 Free Shipping*

Either of these 128gb SSD if price comes down by time you order.
Patriot Torqx M28 Series PTX128GS25SSDR 2.5" 128GB SATA II Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail $365.00 Free Shipping*

Corsair P128 (CMFSSD-128GBG2D) 2.5" 128GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail $345.99 Free Shipping*

I would suggest this BLU-Ray drive since it is Retail and comes with Softwware.
ASUS Black 6X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-Ray DVD Combo Drive Model BC-06B1ST - Retail $109.99

CPU Cooler's you need to look at.
CoGage True Spirit Heatpipe CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Silent Fan for Intel LGA1366 $37.95
(It is similar to the ThermalRight and cools within 1 or 2 degrees' of it.)

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

If you do get the CoGage True Spirit, I would suggest this Mounting Bracket, instead of the Push-Pin one that come with it. Get the Thermalright LGA1366 Bolt-Thru-Kit Retail BOX Bolt-thru Board Mounting kit $9.95
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

If you want one of the Best CPU HSF Cooler for the Core i7 then I would suggest this one, but it is more expensive.
Thermalright Ultra120 eXtreme-1366 RT Premium Heatpipe Cooler for Intel LGA1366 $74.95

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

One of the latest Reviews on 1366 CPU HSF Coolers'.
http://www.hardocp.com/article/2009/07/23/intel_core_i7...

Scythe MUGEN-2 $36.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail $44.98 Free Shipping*
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get this Thermal Compound, since it takes up to 200 hrs for Arctic Silver5 to cure and temps stabalize.
ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound $4.49

You will need this 8-pin Power Extension Cable for most Cases that has Bottom Mounted PSU.
1ST PC CORP. 12" 8-pin EPS extension cable Model CB-8M-8F - Retail $8.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

While you Mouse choice is a good one, the G9 will take alot to get use of. Sice it is wider, higher and umcompfotable. I tried it for about a week and went back to the MX518 and I swear by it.
Logitech MX518 8 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Wired Optical Gaming-Grade Mouse - Retail $39.99 Free Shipping*

The rest of your choice are very good so will not repost them.

Quote:
Later on, prolly XMas, they'll be a new monitor in the works. Like the Lenovo L220x as, not being a TN panel, it's great for both photos and gaming but Dad's been searching for the latest and greatest in the S-PVA world and hasn't come up with anything great other than the Eizo's (outta my price range).
By then Samsung will have there 24"LED LCD monitor out and it is S-PVA since viewing angle is 180x180 and will cost $450 to $550 range.
Samsung 24-inch LED-Backlit LCD TV Main Specifications

Also check out this Review on the Lenovo ThinkVision L2440X monitor and it is on sale now.
http://reviews.cnet.com/lcd-monitors/lenovo-thinkvision...;also

Lenovo ThinkVision L2440X Widescreen LCD Monitor $436.99 Free Shipping

Hope this helps out some.
September 5, 2009 7:36:26 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
SSD's ......
Seems there's still issues with performance over time but from further reading, new firmware and Windows 7's Trim feature should eliminate this. Thx for the tip.


I agree that OCZ seems to be the most promising rival to Intel. Intel recently released some 34-nm SSD's that I would like to see reviews on - but newegg also just jumped up prices. Don't know if you noticed these news items:

http://www.tomshardware.com/news/intel-ssd-newegg-price...
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Newegg-Intel-SSD-Price...

Also I am very surprised that neither Western Digital or Seagate have not entered the market yet - and for a device likely to replace almost all of their current products over time. I am hoping it is a sign that when they do come in it will be in a big way.
September 5, 2009 3:00:51 PM

Yes, their absence is surprising. But again, think about how well your PC performs today versus how well it performed on the day you loaded the OS. Not sure if SSD's will improve or worsen in that department. Trim at this point is just a promise, hate ti invest huge $$ and then find down the road, that there's an issue.

I have a couple of 15k Seagate scsi's humming behind me that are in a NT box I built 11 years ago that are on their 2nd round of HD's Seagate's replaced I can't remember what in 2001. Ya just don't see that kind of longevity in any storage device anymore.
September 5, 2009 4:32:30 PM

1984649,12,140710 said:
Lets see what I can come up with for your Build.

Thanks for the input ... some explanations of why I went in another direction. Maybe they're valid, perhaps not.

MoBo: Long familiarity with Asus boards has me pretty solidly in the Asus camp. Something would have to perform significantly better to drag me out.

CPU: We on same page here

VidCard: If I did the 285's I'd SLI em....and that's a bit of a budget stretcher right now.

The Corsair case looks very much like the Twelve Hundred but (3) 140mm fans seems light. I had the Corsair on the top of my list 6 months ago but the new Signature series Antec gives me sole source tech support and the reviews lately are all giving it the edge over the Corsair:

http://www.cluboc.net/reviews/power/antec/SignatureSeri...

"The Antec Signature Series is definitely a high quality unit, handily powering a pretty beefy system without a single hiccup, and even outperforming the well regarded Corsair unit. "

HD's: We on the same page with the 7200.12 but I am favoring the OCZ Summit line for an SSD at the moment.


BR Drive: I looked at the one you linked to but the reviews on newegg really trashed the software.

Cooler: I had the Thermalright as my top choice until recently. But "The King is dead, long live the King" ... seems Prolima knocked the Thermalright off the top of the hill. Not surprising, looks like same engineering team designed both.

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/2870/prolimatech_megah...

http://www.gameplanet.co.nz/pc/games/159348/reviews/133...

"It's been a long time coming, but I believe that we finally now have a replacement for the Thermalright Ultra Extreme 120 as the top-dog CPU air cooler, especially when it comes to cooling a Core i7 chip."

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

"For absolute performance without regard for cost, my recommendation goes to the Prolimatech Megahalems. This is a product designed by the former Thermalright engineering team, and takes the best design aspects into consideration to produce one phenomenal product. The mounting base is unparalleled by any other I've tested, which delivers extraordinary contact surface pressure between the processor and the mirror-finish on the Megahalems."

Ext. Cables: I'm thinking w/ the Antec PSU and Case, extension cables won't be necessary. Have e-mail them to confirm.

Mouse: I have the 518, my brother has the G9 so I have used both.

The Samsung Press release is a bit vague ... and a bit weird. 1) It's dated April 2007, if it ain't out by now, I don't think it's coming. 2) it says "While conventional thinking has been that Windows Vista works best with a 22-inch screen (the size of two A4 pieces of paper), 22 inches is not wide enough to support full-HD."....the Lenovo is 1920 x 1200 and it is 22". But the L220x has been out for quite a while now and I was thinking that surely something has a risen to challenge it. perhaps with the industry changing from 16:10 to 16:9

Monitor: The L2440x is a TN panel therefore comes up short for photo work.


September 7, 2009 7:19:26 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Every student gets a free copy of MS Office though I am gonna stick with Open Office which I have on my Mac. I haven't gotten word as yet what's happening w/ CS4


I do some work with Adobe - if you're a student, you can always pick up the Creative Suite 4 Student Editions for a discount of up to 80% off. You can find more details on the offer here.
September 29, 2009 9:37:19 AM

Maybe instead of a 295, you could go with a new 5870 (if you can find one).

Even though it might be a tiny bit less powerful than the 295, you have to take into consideration that the 295 is a dual gpu card, the 5870 is dx11, and there are still some driver updates to come for it that might make it surpass the 295.

Just a suggestion :) 
October 3, 2009 4:34:17 PM

Jonnyinter said:
Maybe instead of a 295, you could go with a new 5870 (if you can find one).

Even though it might be a tiny bit less powerful than the 295, you have to take into consideration that the 295 is a dual gpu card, the 5870 is dx11, and there are still some driver updates to come for it that might make it surpass the 295.

Just a suggestion :) 


I'm much more interested in PhysX than DX11. I'm thinking the 295 will hold me though, I'm now tempted to wait and see what the 300 series brings. I also considered waiting for the 5870x2 as well as twin 5970's but my last experiment w/ dual monitors and two video cards didn't go well.
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