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$3000 Gaming rig - complete build with a twist

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September 17, 2009 9:24:05 AM

I recently moved to Japan and was unable to bring my old gaming rig with me. It was about 4 years old as well, and despite a graphics card update it was starting to show its age. So I'm taking the opportunity to do a build from scratch. I need everything, even down to thermal paste and an anti-static wrist strap.

The catch is, my Japanese abilities are fairly poor, so the chances are I'll be buying from a shop rather than online, unless someone can point me at a site that's in English. The location also means the usual suppliers like Newegg and UK equivalents are out of the running. Unless they deliver to Japan, that is!

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Next few days, but can be delayed for a good reason.

BUDGET RANGE: 300,000 Yen (approx. $3,000, or £2,000), but willing to go a bit higher if there's a very good reason. This budget includes a monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers / headphones, etc.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (MMOs, FPS), movies, potentialy Photoshop, general PC stuff like web browsing and word documents.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: I need everything.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Any sites that will deliver to Japan that have an english version. Eg. Amazon.co.jp. Failing that, I will be buying parts in person.

OVERCLOCKING: Probably

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably (I may add a Wacom Cintiq at a later date, which works best with a dedicated card to drive it)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 (Again, probably - a monitor is part of the build)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: My area of Japan (near Tokyo) gets pretty hot (30+ degrees C) and humid in the summer, so good cooling is essential. In the winter it's fairly cold, which will help with overclocking. Ideally I'd like a motherboard with some sort of overclock switching so I can change between settings depending on the current climate or usage. I have no idea if said feature exists, but my old Asus mobo had a "NOS" feature that seemed similar.

I want this rig to be future-proof, so I may be over-specing some parts.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Antec are pretty big over here, as are Scythe if you know where to look. Most of the major manufacturers are available, but some smaller companies are less well represented, so suggest manufacturers and I can tell you whether I've seen their stuff around.

Below I'll list my current "candidate" parts based on what I've seen available.

CPU: Intel core i7 920 - as if it would be anything else.
Mobo: Asus Rampage II Extreme. The onboard sound seems pretty decent if it's based on X-Fi. Ease of overclocking is also important, as this will be my first attempt at it since the days of Pentium 3.
Case: Antec 1200 or CM HAF 932, based on threads from this forum. I like room to work in and airflow is a priority. I've also seen the Thermaltake Spedo and V9, which have a fan under the CPU area of the motherboard. Is there any advantage to this? My last system had plenty of light-up parts, but I'm past that phase now. For pure aesthetics, I'd love to have a case with a fan that had a really deep note as counter-point to the whining of the standard fans, but that's me fantasising about my perfect system ^_^
PSU: No idea. 1000+W should give me enough power and keep me future-proof for the forseeable future, but how much is too much?
HSF: No idea, but there's plenty available. The Coolermaster V8 or V10 are possible, but I'm worried about the size, and that half of the V10 seems to vent over the RAM slots.
RAM: No idea. 6Gb minimum, and I'm considering 12Gb if budget allows.
GPU: 2x NVidia 295. I'll admit to being something of an Nvidia fan. Mostly because all my friends who use ATI cards have issue after issue, especially with the drivers. Will the new 5xxx cards really be "all that" to the point of waiting a few weeks and switching allegiance? How soon will the prices of existing cards drop (and how much), and when will nvidia unveil their DX11 offerings? And really, how many games even use DX10 fully at the moment?
SSD / HDD: I want this thing to be fast, so I'm considering 2 SSDs, one for the OS and applications and another for the "priority" games. I also want a fast, large capacity HDD for less-frequently played games and other data. On the other hand, the various stories of flakey SSDs are putting me off.
RAID: This seems to be fairly common now but is there really any benefit, especially with the speed of SSDs?
OS: Vista Ultimate 64bit w/ Windows 7 upgrade. I believe the Ultimate edition has better multi-language functionality than Home Premium, which is good for my situation. I also heard somewhere that I can buy the Japanese Ultimate edition and install an English version, rather than fork out a lot extra for an imported English copy that probably won't have the Win7 upgrade. Can anyone support this?

Monitor: My previous monitor was a 24" dell that ran at 1920x1200. I'm not going to drop in resolution or size, but bigger can always be considered. I've seen a 25.5" 3-5ms LG that seemed a bargin, or a 26" samsung that was even better...
Keyboard: My previous keyboard was a Razer Reclusa (the one they worked on with Microsoft). It was certainly better than a normal keyboard, but I'm not convinced it was worth the money. Is the Logitech G15 still the king? I note they now have a G19 as well... I'd like to try and get a UK layout if possible - I have enough trouble switching between JP at work and UK at home, so I want to avoid throwing a US into the mix as well!
Mouse: Again, my old one was a Razer. A Deathadder in this case. I liked it, so I'l probably go for that or the latest Razer unless someone can convince me to consider something else.
Speakers / headphones: Before, I was using a Speedlink Medusa headset that had true 5.1 in headphones. Theoretically they were fantastic, but the build quality was poor. Something similar but better constructed would be nice. Failing that, a decent set of 5.1 speakers and some good quality headphones will suffice.

And there you have it. Comments, questions, critique and "You mad fool, why didn't you list X!" welcome.
September 17, 2009 1:15:15 PM

A twist? That's putting it lightly! I wish I could help you out, but I'm at work, so I'm short on time, maybe I'll take another look tonight, depending on how my day goes at work. It's been rough the past couple of days.

Good luck!
September 17, 2009 1:29:09 PM

wait, can'y you order from amazon internationally?

if so, you should be fine, they have computer parts, usually not too much more than newegg (sometimes less)

yay you can ship electronics from amazon to japan (its a bit down the page
International Shipping
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September 17, 2009 1:34:59 PM

though i would wait a week and see how the ATI 5870 stacks up, and possibly get that 9should be in the $400 range)
September 18, 2009 12:45:19 AM

Amazon.com will only ship certain electronics internationally. I did a search, and they will only ship a couple of cases. They won't even ship their whole range of HSFs, etc. I might be able to get a few parts from there, though. The shipping charges are quite high as well - I'll have to see how they balance against buying locally. I feel a spreadsheet coming on...

I guess what I'm after most is suggestions for parts to be looking for more than places to buy, though that's appreciated as well!

As for the new ATI cards... I'm really torn. If Nvidia would pull their fingers out and announce something to compete with them I'd be happier to wait, but their latest talk about DX11 not being a deciding factor makes me think they've got nothing in the pipeline. If the 5xxx cards will drop the current cards' prices significantly, I'll wait - otherwise I'm going to end up extending the delay to wait for Win7, then whatever the next big thing is, and so on. Besides, I can't see the current-best cards suddenly becoming totally obsolete.
September 18, 2009 1:08:15 AM

Overclocking is a ton easier than it was in the P3 days.

The 5870 (ships in the US in 5 days) has benchmarks/rumors we have been seeing making it almost as fast as a 295 at $450 and since it is a single core GPU you can put 4 in if you want. In addition to that speed, it uses less power than a 4890. Have you looked at the videos from their demo? There will also be a 5870x2 sometime later this year.

What game are you playing that you need two 295s for? Seems like a waste of money and electricity if it doesnt really improve your gameplay.

Nvidia seems to be trying to get software developers to use CUDA so it can go into competition with intel and AMD instead of competing at GPUs with ATI.
September 18, 2009 6:53:03 AM

I don't really need two 295s for anything, but I want a system that will keep pace without me having to upgrade it in a year. And I may connect a Wacom Cintiq (monitor with built-in graphics tablet) later on, which works much better with its own dedicated card. I figure buying two cards solves both problems, as well as meaning I don't have to get a mismatched 295 later on. Maybe it is a waste... Hmm...
September 18, 2009 5:08:57 PM

Twin 295 wont help you if you decide you want DX 11 next year.
September 19, 2009 4:52:03 AM

True. I guess I'm waiting for a few reviews of the 5xxx cards, then! A few more days' wait won't hurt too much.

Any thoughts on the rest of the components? In particular case, motherboard, HSF and the SSD/HDD question? These I'd like a few opinions on. Processor, RAM, PSU, etc are all fairly simple, or come down to specs or personal tastes, so I guess those get picked "on the day".
September 20, 2009 3:29:19 AM

SSDs you need to be really careful with. Read lots of reviews as most of them are junk. I think the OCZ Vertex is the value/performance choice. SSDs deteriorate when they get to full so a small SSD is not worth it.

Either the 1200 or HAF 932 are good cases. Choose based on which you like the looks of.

If you are only going 2 graphics cards then a good 850W PSU should be all you need even with a couple SSDs and a couple HDDs.

For a heatsink right now I like the Coolermaster Hyper 212 plus. Its rates near the top at cooling but also is fairly quiet. Combined with a bargain price of $30 I cant find a better value.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The best deal on HDDs is the Samsung F3 1TB with the same performance as a Caviar Black at a lower price.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

September 20, 2009 3:59:07 AM

I7 920
6GB DDR3 (Corsair, OCZ, Mushkin)
Asus Rampage 2 Extreme or MSI Eclipse or Evga Classified
850W (Corsair, Antec)
Thermalright Ultra Extreme (w/ 1366 bracket)
SSD (I'm unsure what are the best but I've heard great stuff about Intel G2)
HDD (Samsung, Seagate, Western Digital)
ATI 5870
Dell U2410 or HP LP2475W

Case is up to you.
September 24, 2009 8:57:14 AM

Ok, parts buying has commenced. I'm now committed to an i7 920, an Asus Rampage Extreme II and 6Gb of Corsair C7 RAM.

Budgeting issues mean I won't go with SSDs for now - they were putting me over budget by around 30%! I may plan a "second phase" to the build, where I add the SSDs, another 6Gb of RAM and a second GPU, once Win7 is available. That way I can do a clean install of Win7.

So, other parts.

Case: I don't really like the looks of either the 1200 or the HAF 932, but they're ok, and I'll put up with a little ugliness in the name of cooling. I'll probably go with the 932 on the theory that the side fan is larger.

PSU: I'll probably go either Corsair or Antec Signature, seeing as they seem to be consistently the best rated overall. 850w minimum, though I might go for 1000w on the basis that PSU changes are a pain in the rear, and I want this rig to last me a good long time.

HSF: I'm really tempted by the Coolermaster V10, as I like the idea of having the TEC in reserve. My two issues are 1) that the thermal sensor used to trigger the TEC is apparently not as sensitive as it could be, and 2) I read somewhere that with top-venting cases, there's a significant benefit to a cross-blowing fan, aimed at the top vent. The V10 is cross-blowing, but aimed at the rear of the case. Does anyone know a suitably-aimed HSF array, preferably with TEC "boost"? Cooling is a major concern for me - ambient temperatures could reach in excess of 35C during the summer.

GPU: I guess 5870 is the way to go, despite my reservations about ATI's driver history, especially with the improvements to power draw and antialiasing. The only problem is that none of the places I've asked over here know when they're getting stock. My preferred supplier in the UK had them in stock immediately. I'm tempted to order from there and have it sent to my parents to be forwarded on...
!