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Assembling new PC. Help with HDD, sound card and video card

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October 9, 2009 9:16:13 PM

I'm assembling a new PC primarily for gaming. Below are the specs:

Motherboard: EVGA A1 X58 3-Way SLI Core i7 Motherboard
Processor: Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz
RAM: Corsair Dominaor 3x2GB Tri Channel 1600Mhz (8-8-8-24)
Video Card: Either 2 x HD 5850s in X-fire, or single HD 5870
Hard Drive : Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 32MB cache 7200RPM
Chassis: Antec Twelve Hundred
PSU: Corsair CMPSU-850TX 850-Watt TX Series
Procy Cooling: Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H50 Liquid cooling
Audio Output : Logitech Z-5500 5.1 speakers, and Logitech G5

Question regarding Hard drive:

Apart from the hard drive I mentioned above, i want to get an additional hard drive (for OS + games). Which of the ones below is my best option?

(a) Kingston 64Gb SSD
(b) WD Raptor 10,000RPM 150GB
(c) Another Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 32MB cache 7200RPM and RAID 0 using a hardware RAID controller


Question regarding sound card:

My motherboard supports 7.1 channels, co-axial and ToSLINK. The soundcard I have in mind is the Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional Series Sound Card.

Now, the thing is, I'm assuming the difference in sound quality from my (high end) motherboard and this sound card will be almost negligible to my ear (correct me if I'm wrong).
So, the only incentive to get the sound card is to off-load the burden of sound processing from my procy to the sound card when playing games. Is this required considering the procy I'm taking (i7 920)?

Question regarding video card:

2 HD 5850s in crossfire, or single HD 5870?


PS - any other comments on the build are more than welcome.
October 9, 2009 9:25:28 PM

xbonez,

I used to want a soundcard in every build I did till I found this wonderful site. Some kind folks here told me try it without the card and see if I can tell a difference. Know what? They were right (of course). The onboard sound is just as good as aftermarket cards, unless you have a golden ear. So, imho, I would skip it. Sides..if your not happy with the sound you can always get a good card later.

My 2 pennies,

Rax
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a b U Graphics card
October 9, 2009 9:56:19 PM

If you want a Winchester go with the Black 640 as it has dual 320GB platters for better performance. The Samsung F3 (500mb or 1TB) is the best bang per buck deal right now.


I would always choose the single stronger GPU. Cheaper, cooler, quieter, uses less power and gives you an upgrade path.
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October 9, 2009 11:04:02 PM

@shortstuff and dndhatcher: thanks for the info. So I guess I should go for RAID 0 over a raptor / SSD. This brings me to a couple of questions:

1. Should I go for the Caviar Black 640GB? It has 2 platters, but 32mb cache, or should I go for the Seagate Barracude /Samsung 500GB which have only 1 platter, but 16mb cache.

2. I've been reading that RAID 0 is error prone. How error prone is it in general? Are they known for failing way too often? My RAID controller is my motherboard (EVGA E758)


@raxus: for the sound card, I kinda did think that the difference in quality won't be noticeable. Especially since I'm going to have digital output to my Z-5500 which processes Dolby digital signals on its own.
However, will the addition of a soundcard offload a lot of load from the processor, or not so much? and whatever offload that will take place, is it required with the i7 when running intensive games?

@obsidian: thanks for the links. my other option, apart from the Corsair H50, is the Cooler Master V8 Core i7 1366 CPU Cooler (http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Nickel-Aluminum-Hea...). This is not a liquid cooling system, but seems to have good performance.
I think i'll use this, and later upgrade to a better, bigger liquid cooling solution.
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a b U Graphics card
October 9, 2009 11:18:35 PM

If I was building a PC I would go with the samsung F3 since its cheaper, but IIRC the WD Black 640 actually slightly outperforms it.

Why would you go Raid 0? To speed up load times but increase the change of an HDD failure?

The V8 is OK, but expensive and not quiet at all (over 52db!)
Look at this $35 kingwin. It cools better than the V8 and is under 46db at high fan speed. It has 1366 connectors, but not 1156. Its under 500 grams so it wont bend your motherboard.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=242...
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October 10, 2009 12:23:28 AM

Good GPU Options! The 2x5850 will outperform the 5870, but you should go with the 5870 for now, it will be the best option and here is why;
First of all, it will save you 160.00 USD.
2X5850=520.00
1X5870=360.00
Difference=160.00 (Money you should save and hold on to for the following reason)
160.00 USD is close to half of the price of another 5870. Run this fastest single card, that goes toe to toe even with my GTX295, for a short while and than buy another 5870, (easy on budget because you already have 160.00 you saved and you just pay the difference, which also may be a reduced price) for an insane 2-way performance. I would factor in the GPU this way and this way only. Others may also have an opinion regarding this uniqe stragety. Let me know what you think.
deadcell
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October 10, 2009 12:32:48 AM

I also second the Samsung F3 500G HDD. Excellent value/performance. None of that slow 2x250G platter in a single 500G HDD. 1 500G platter in a 500G HDD. Not enough space. 2XSamsung F3 500G should provide plenty of space and performance just a bit over 100.00 USD...
deadcell
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October 10, 2009 1:54:58 AM

@deadcell: now that you put it that way, I think I'll go for the HD 5870 and do exactly what you say - crossfire it as soon as i feel the need.

as for the HDDs, I have no problem going with the samsung single platter HDD as long as it outperforms WD caviar black. the price difference does not matter to me. i want whichever performs better. it boils down to single platter v/s 32mb cache.

if RAID 0 arrays are very prone to failure, would it be better to go for a 64gb SSD for booting / games. I won't be playing more than 2-3 games at a given time, so 64 gb is enough for OS + games.
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October 10, 2009 4:53:38 AM

Glad that you see this in my perspective. Thats a real good graphics card and it will have high performance output for a while, specially in crossX. As for the HDD, the 32mb cache looks very attractive, but I always liked the single platter concept. I always thought that the single platter was more significant than the cache capacity when it came to the performance of the HDD. However, I may not know too much to dispute what is beeing applied here. The RAID 0 failure rumers are not something to be overlooked. This technique has striping but no redundancy of data. It offers the best performance but it seems to have no fault-tolerance, hence prone to failure often. Thats the main reason it was never found in my chassis. The 64GB Solid State Drives have improved quite the bit since the 32 version. Samsung claims the respective read and write performance on the drive have been increased by 20 and 60 percent: the 64 GB unit can read 64 MB/S, write 45 MB/s, and consumes just half a Watt when operating (one tenth of a Watt when idle). In comparison, an 80 GB 1.8-inch hard drive reads at 15 MB/s, writes at 7 MB/s, and eats 1.5 Watts either operating or when idle. With this kinda performance and slim to none failures, to me, this is the better option than RAID 0. It sounds like that you are not a hardcore gamer, but a moderate one. The 64GB will provide excellent performance in OS and gaming for moderate users, so I say this will be the better choice for you, at least for now. I just hope that there will be a day that RAID stabilizes its tolerance behavior, because outside its failures which have been documented numerously, it still provides optimal performance...
deadcell

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