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Hardware noob building a gaming system. Please help!

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September 13, 2009 10:26:43 PM

This request started over in /r/hardware (original thread), and one of the many excellent people there suggested that I submit my problems here. Long story short, I have a couple of friends who do know how to work computer hardware giving me advice on setting up a new gaming computer. The original thread was a question about the quality of ASUS motherboards, but in the process of getting that question answered it became apparent that some of the suggestions made by these friends were excessively expensive relative to my budget. Please give me advice on what to do with this computer.

Approximate Purchase Date: Very flexible, sometime after Windows 7 is released, but probably not long after that.
Budget Range: $1000-$1500
System Usage (Most to Least): Gaming, more gaming, internet
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, hard drives, graphics card (see below)
Preferred Websites: No preferences - what would you recommend? I use NewEgg for examples.
Part Preferences: nVidia graphics, Intel i7 CPUs
Overclocking: Yes (aforementioned friends have promised me a tutorial)
SLI: Eventually (with my budget, I figure on starting with one card and getting a second eventually)
Monitor Resolution: 1200 x 1024 (a new monitor will come eventually, but not now)
Additional Comments: If at all reasonable, please explain why you make your recommendations. I understand about a quarter of hardware talk, and don't understand that I don't understand about half of it. =P
Re: graphics cards - given that DX11 is coming sometime relatively soon, I'm going to put buying a new card on hiatus for now. I'll wait until there are shiny new cards that can take advantage of whatever features it may offer, rather than splurge now on something which is about to become second-rate. I'll leave the section on graphics cards below to give you an idea of what my advisors have been thinking, but I'm likely to stick with my venerable GeForce 8800 GT.

The parts section is going to be in two parts. The first thing on the list will be what my friends have recommended. The second will be some ideas I've had about trimming back their enthusiasm and staying friendlier with my budget.

Operating System
Friends say: Windows 7 - it's the Second Coming of Digital Jesus.
I say: Windows 7 - it's gotten lots of good reviews, ranging from "it seems pretty nice" to the fanatical chanting that these friends were performing in its honor.

Really, everything I've read says that 7 is the way to go. So I probably won't be finalizing this thing until 7 hits the shelves.

CPU
Friends say: Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
I say: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

This seems pretty obvious to me - they went overboard on the CPU capability. The 920 looks to be much friendlier on my wallet for a fairly minimal reduction in capability. But, let me know what you think.

Motherboard
Friends say: ASUS Rampage II Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
I say: ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

I've heard that the Rampage II Extreme is amazing for overclocking, but for someone who doesn't play with hardware a lot and requires outside expertise to overclock his stuff, is it really worthwhile to invest in the R2E over the cheaper and still-lauded P6T Deluxe v2? (I'll ignore the ASUS debate that I started my original thread on reddit about, as it seems that my one friend is just biased.)

Memory
Friends say: G.SKILL Perfect Storm 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000) Desktop Memory Model F3-16000CL8T-6GBPS - Retail
I say: G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ - Retail

I've heard that without massive and strenuous overclocking you can't really take advantage of memory speeds higher than 1600 MHz, and even that requires you to run up your CPU. I want the triple-channel, because it seems like it will help gaming, and if I'm getting i7 I really should get the memory to take advantage of it.

Graphics Card
Friends say: Recertified: EVGA 01G-P3-1280-RX GeForce GTX 280 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card
I say: Actually, that sounds pretty good.

I think that I'm going to hold off on getting a new graphics card until after Windows 7 hits, and we start seeing DX11-supported cards hit the shelves. Until then, I'll keep using my nigh-senile GeForce 8800 GT. Won't be spectacular, but I'll manage.

Power Supply
Friends say: No specific recommendations as of yet, other than the company PC Power & Cooling.
I say: PC Power & Cooling / Silencer / 750-Watt / Quad PCI-Express / SATA-Ready / Red Power Supply, 80Plus

I know fairly little about what makes a good PSU, but this seemed pretty nice. More than willing to be overruled on it, though.

Case
Friends say: COOLER MASTER COSMOS S RC-1100-KKN1-GP Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
I say: You're kidding, right? For $200, that case had better raise the dead and heal the sick.

It's a nice case and all, and I do understand that a good case is A) a worthwhile purchase, and B) probably expensive, but really? Is this case actually worth the money? Even considering that I'll probably use it for my next several builds, this thing seems overpriced. Still, I'm even worse qualified to talk about tower design than I am to figure out the rest of this stuff, so let me know what's what.

So, there's the whole sordid deal. What should I do? Are any of these hardware bits worth my time? What should I keep, what should I lose? Please, let me know - I'm kinda counting on you guys, as disinterested sensible moderates, to save me from being lost in the wilderness of computer hardware.
September 13, 2009 10:42:33 PM

get the 275 gtx instead with the corsair 750 watt with a cooler master haf 932 case
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September 13, 2009 11:22:26 PM

I forgot a section in the original post about what I intend to do about graphics cards. Basically, I'm waiting to do a serious upgrade until Windows 7 hits and we start seeing DX11 cards. As to nVidia vs. ATI, I've always seen nVidia cards as more reliable. (I'm a little paranoid about reliability at the moment - I'm upgrading because my "current" computer just died of motherboard burnout after a long series of problems which had it down for months.) I've heard that the 4870 is a good buy, especially in Crossfire, but that reliability thing keeps coming back to me. Is there any truth to that impression of nVidia as more reliable?

tl;dr - don't worry about the graphics cards. I need to know about the rest of the system more.
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a b 4 Gaming
September 13, 2009 11:55:16 PM

MasterAaron said:
So, there's the whole sordid deal. What should I do? Are any of these hardware bits worth my time? What should I keep, what should I lose? Please, let me know - I'm kinda counting on you guys, as disinterested sensible moderates, to save me from being lost in the wilderness of computer hardware.


Master Aaron...today is your lucky day. :) 

First off the case. This case has excellent cable management, space (width/lenght/etc.), and great airflow. It's a quality case. Professional reviews on it are in the link towards the bottom of this post.

PSU...you have taste. :)  This PC & P is quality.

Mobo: This AsRock has been the Dark Horse this year for X58 motherboards. It's gotten great reviews from reputable sites. Links to a few of those reviews are towards the bottom of this post. It's a decent o/c board and it has plenty of room for SLI/Crossfire, large h/s, etc.. and it's a bloody bargain at that price.

H/S. This scythe down below is one of the top rated h/s. Google it. You can clock to the moon with them and still have decent cpu temps.

RAM... the RAM in this build has better timings than the RAM you chose so you won't be held back when you decide to o/c.

Vid Card....I posted a great one at the bottom of this page but I didn't include it in the price for the fact I don't know if you want to wait two weeks for the release of new DX11 cards. That gtx 280 you chose is old arse architecture, it's a power hog, and it uses up a lot of juice...sans the reason Nvidea has phased that card out. It's old school with old school technology. Nothing you want for a new build. 2 of these gtx 275's beat out a gtx 295. :) 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$15.00 Combo Price: $374.98
COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail

http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product... $104.99 Free Shipping
PC Power and Cooling SILENCER 750W QUAD S75CF Power Supply Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$10.00 Combo Price: $269.98
ASRock X58 Extreme LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM | Includes free Windows 7 upgrade coupon

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $36.99
Scythe MUGEN-2 SCMG-2000 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail
Free Scythe fan w/ purchase, while supplies last

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $4.99
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $139.99 ($129.99 after $10.00 Mail-In Rebate Card) Free Shipping*
CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8 G - Retail

http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=SHS223B_BE $29.99 Free Ground Shipping
Samsung SH-S223B/BEBE 22X SATA DVD+/-RW Internal Drive (Black), Bulk w/o Software

Total: $961.91

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-sli,229... <--- gtx 275's in SLI > gtx 295

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $219.99
GIGABYTE GV-N275UD-896I GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/landing/haf922/ <--- Cooler Master HAF 922

ASRock X58 Extreme Reviews

http://www.motherboards.org/reviews/motherboards/1923_1...

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cheap-x58-motherboa...

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/mainboards/display/asr...

http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3593
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September 13, 2009 11:58:49 PM

Your friends going way overboard, probably because it's not their money that's going to be spent :lol: 

I7 920 is better value. Overclocking is the way to go.

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

+1 for obsidian about the PSU and case

If you won't be purchasing until Win 7 is out, then get one of the new DX11 cards since they'll be out by then.

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September 15, 2009 2:00:41 AM

Why_Me said:
Master Aaron...today is your lucky day. :) 


I'm inclined to agree. Thank you so much - this is exactly the kind of help that I need! All of these parts look excellent - I'm getting second opinions, but I'm inclined to say that this is a winning build. I'll probably be back at some point to get opinions on monitors and DX11 graphics cards, but I think I've gotten what I need. Thank you very much!
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a b 4 Gaming
September 15, 2009 2:08:51 AM

MasterAaron said:
I'm inclined to agree. Thank you so much - this is exactly the kind of help that I need! All of these parts look excellent - I'm getting second opinions, but I'm inclined to say that this is a winning build. I'll probably be back at some point to get opinions on monitors and DX11 graphics cards, but I think I've gotten what I need. Thank you very much!


I changed the burner in that build up above for the fact the one I originally had posted is sold out atm.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $299.99 ($269.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate Card)
ASUS VW266H Black 25.5" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 1000:1 (ASCR 20000:1) Built in Speakers w/ component connector - Retail
SPDIF out connector

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $214.99
ASUS VW246H Black 24" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 1000:1 (ASCR 20000:1) Built in Speakers - Retail
With HDCP support
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September 15, 2009 7:21:59 PM

Why_Me: That second monitor looks great - I assume that the HDMI connector they mention means that I could hook it up to an XBox? That'd be a nice bonus.

Another question: what do you think for sound cards? I've been recommended the ASUS Xonar DX as a way to get sound processing off the CPU on the cheap. It's only about $60, so that's very affordable, but some anecdotal reviews I've seen complained about sound popping. (The main reviews I looked at seemed fine.) I'm not big on sound stuff, but I'd like 7.1, subwoofer support, etc. What do you think?
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a b 4 Gaming
September 15, 2009 7:27:17 PM

MasterAaron said:
Why_Me: That second monitor looks great - I assume that the HDMI connector they mention means that I could hook it up to an XBox? That'd be a nice bonus.

Another question: what do you think for sound cards? I've been recommended the ASUS Xonar DX as a way to get sound processing off the CPU on the cheap. It's only about $60, so that's very affordable, but some anecdotal reviews I've seen complained about sound popping. (The main reviews I looked at seemed fine.) I'm not big on sound stuff, but I'd like 7.1, subwoofer support, etc. What do you think?


I would hold off on buying a sound card for now until you listen to the onboard sound first. Onboard sound on these new mobo's are so good these days that most likely you will find that you won't need/want a sound card.
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