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An all around system that is excellent for Flight Simulation

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October 21, 2009 7:19:49 PM

I'm getting close to building my first system, but as the time gets closer my feet get colder. I'm worried that I'm jumping on the i5/i7 bandwagon before it is really ready for consumers like me.

Approximate Purchase Date: 1-2 weeks

System Usage in order of importance: Flight simulation (X-Plane and Condor), Web use and development. It's currently DMZ so that I can test web stuff and connect from work easily.
Parts not required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, HDs, DVD/CD burners

Preferred Website for Parts: newegg.com (USA)

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU - i5 or i7

Overclocking: Moderate

SLI or Crossfire: Not necessary

Current Monitor: five year old 18" Dell Ultra-Sharp (1280x1024)

Comment: The cost upper limit is $1000. I would like the system to be as quiet as possible. I would like the system to be upgradable but my present system is six years old so who knows!

Here is what I'm think of:

CPU: Intel Core i5

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3R LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard or ASUS P7P55D ATX Intel Motherboard. I'm concerned about these choices after reading the article P55 on a Budget.

Case: Antec 900

PSU: I was going to go for the PC Power & Cooling S75CF 750W Power Supply but it is no longer available on newegg.

Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896-P3-1255-AR Video Card. Will that fit in the Antec 900 case OK?

RAM: OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3P1333LV4GK - Retail
October 21, 2009 7:26:57 PM

flight sim is extremely cpu intensive i've seen it max out a dual xeon system with ease so i would recommend the i7 860 or i7 920
October 21, 2009 8:43:22 PM

Agreed, I would aim for an 860, also although the 260 will fit in the 900, I still wouldn't get it - check out some of the radeon offerings i.e. 4870/5770

Here's a great crossfire capable PSU
Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and a non-crossfire option
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally, I would definitely try to upgrade your monitor.
Related resources
October 21, 2009 10:53:13 PM

obsidian86 said:
flight sim is extremely cpu intensive i've seen it max out a dual xeon system with ease so i would recommend the i7 860 or i7 920


Is the 860 the same chip as the 750 with fewer faults. The difference in Ghz rating doesn't look like much. Will I really notice the difference especially since I plan to OC anyway? I only ask because I would save ~$90 which could help keep me under my $1000 limit. : )

Thanks for your input!

Kor
October 21, 2009 11:03:14 PM

korkiley,

I've always built my rigs specifically to run FSX. I've been a Flight Simulator enthusiast for 15 years. FSX occupies the CPU end of the CPU/GPU performance spectrum. It's the most CPU bound title you can run. Frame rate is ~85% dependent upon CPU horsepower as in the number of cores and clock frequency, and not on GPU horsepower.

FSX performs best on a highly overclocked Core i7 9xx, and just a single mainstream nVidia card, such as the GTX 260. Adding multiple GPU's such as SLI/CF/x2 cards has the effect of actually reducing FPS, due to multiple processor interrupts.

If you don't believe it, then see Tom's Gaming Graphics Charts: http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/gaming-graphics-char...

Here's my configuration:

i7 920 @ 4.1
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 & MX-2
Mod for Push-Pull Fans 74 CFM
Asus P6T Deluxe
6GB G. Skill 8-8-8-21
Antec 900
Corsair 650 Watts
3 VelociRaptor 300GB RAID 0
1 Seagate 7200.12 1TB Backup
2 Plextor DVD 8MB Cache
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer
BFG GTX 280 @ 665 & 2550

Hope this helps,

Comp :sol: 
October 21, 2009 11:13:05 PM

korkiley said:
Is the 860 the same chip as the 750 with fewer faults.
The basic difference is the 750 if 4 core/4 threads and the 860 is 4 core/8 threads. Handy feature chart:

Your idea of going with the i5 750 and overclocking some is a strategy for FSX.
CompuTronix is right; there is some love between nVidia and FSX, to the tune of a couple FPS usually.

October 21, 2009 11:40:28 PM

jbakerlent said:
Agreed, I would aim for an 860, also although the 260 will fit in the 900, I still wouldn't get it - check out some of the radeon offerings i.e. 4870/5770


Thanks for your input. Could you give me a bit more detail? Why would you get a Radeon 5770 over a 260, and is the 5770 better than the 4870? The 4870 seems to be more expensive.

Here's a great crossfire capable PSU
Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and a non-crossfire option
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally, I would definitely try to upgrade your monitor. said:
Here's a great crossfire capable PSU
Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and a non-crossfire option
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally, I would definitely try to upgrade your monitor.


Would either of these PSUs be quiet? I would like as much quiet as is reasonable.

I do plan to upgrade the monitor but actually, it is still working very well, so it is not a priority. You must understand that my present computer is a six and a half year old Dell GX270 with an Nvidia Geforce 5200!


October 21, 2009 11:45:39 PM

Both PSUs are very, very good and should be quite quiet. The 4870 is significantly cheaper than the 260 and performs just as well
XFX HD-487A-ZWFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5770 is actually currently slightly outperformed by the 4870 however it has many new features that may make it worth while, DX11 being the principal one
ASUS EAH5770/2DIS/1GD5 Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
October 22, 2009 12:22:20 AM

I would like to be very clear that the simulator that I use is X-Plane NOT MS Flight Simulator. I believe they are very different simulators. X-Plane employs a much different algorythm for the actual flight simulation properties. As far as I have heard it is extremely dependent on Graphics card power and not so much CPU. I'm double checking about that on the X-Plane forum.

The other simulator that I use is Condor, a glider simulator. I expect that the simulation algorythm is more like FSX, but I don't know.
October 22, 2009 12:26:00 AM

And, by the way, X-Plane uses Open GL, not Directx. Does that have a bearing on what video card to buy?
October 22, 2009 12:30:43 AM

jbakerlent said:
Both PSUs are very, very good and should be quite quiet. The 4870 is significantly cheaper than the 260 and performs just as well
XFX HD-487A-ZWFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5770 is actually currently slightly outperformed by the 4870 however it has many new features that may make it worth while, DX11 being the principal one
ASUS EAH5770/2DIS/1GD5 Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


There seem to be a lot of complaints and worries about the heat generated by this card, and consequently, noisy fan noise.
October 23, 2009 6:36:56 PM

On the X-Plane tech forum they tell me that there are definitely a slew of complaints about Open GL drivers for ATI cards. Therefor, it was highly recommended that I get an nVidia card. Does the GX260 seem like it would be the right choice for a card costing around $200--I could go a bit over?
October 23, 2009 7:00:16 PM

The GTX-275 is the 55 nanometer die-shrink version of GTX 260 at 65 nanometers. Either is a good choice for FSX, which also have enough graphics horsepower to offer some reasonable gaming, if you so desire.
October 23, 2009 7:29:03 PM

WR2,

Nice find! :D  The only thing it lacks is the clear side cover and additional fans, which might not be a concern for korkiley. I've built several CM Elite 330's, which is an excellent $40 case, and with a little old-world craftsmanship, a Dremel Tool, fans and a grill, will breath very well. However, for $50, the CM Gladiator 600 looks like a great choice.

Comp :sol: 
October 23, 2009 7:38:19 PM

I'd take a GTX 275 and CM 600 case over a GTX 260 and Antec 900. Even if I did need to add a $10 case fan for an OC'd system.

I like what I read in that recent HardwareSecrets review. I think I'll start suggesting that case in low-mid budget builds. No bling, but it saves a few bucks for a CPU or GPU upgrade.

I used a CM Elite 360 case in a recent micro-ATX build and was very happy with that case.
October 24, 2009 1:11:04 AM

Hi WR2 and CompuTronix and I thank you for the information. As it happens I was studying the 275 today. I will look more into it as well as the cases that were suggested.

Kor
October 26, 2009 2:18:12 PM

I think the GTX 275 seems like a good choice. The only low priced model of the 275 that they have at newegg right now is a GALAXY brand ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ). This doesn't seem to be one of the big name brands like Asus or Gigabyte. Might it be better to wait of this to be back in stock ( http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ). Or maybe it isn't yet available. I don't see it on the Asus web site.

The other models are ~$300 and come with 1792 MB RAM instead of 896 MB. GPUReview.com that the memory clock speed is more important than the amount of RAM and getting more than the reference amount could be a waste of money.

By the way--I've been told by someone that the video card RAM uses an equivalent amount of system RAM that won't be available for other uses. Is that true? I thought only cheap cards and integrated RAM used shared RAM.

I appreciate the suggestions on a case but I've decided to go with the Antec 900 two. I don't want to take a chance on quality and I'm willing to pay $50 extra.

Kor
October 26, 2009 3:22:06 PM

korkiley said:
By the way--I've been told by someone that the video card RAM uses an equivalent amount of system RAM that won't be available for other uses. Is that true?
It is not true. But.....
In 32bit OSs (WinXP 32bit / Vista 32bit) the system reserves some memory address space for devices attached to the system. Since 32bit OS can only address 4GB of memory address space, and because the reserved memory space made it look like there was less than 4GB of RAM available it would look like what that someone described. As as a bigger memory sized video card was used that 4GB of RAM would shrink again. And if you went with a CF/SLI setup it could shrink yet again. With 4GB of RAM installed it would look like it wasn't all there. If you had only 2GB of RAM you wouldn't "lose" any available RAM to your video card or other hardware devices.

I agree that 1792 MB VRAM isn't useful (except maybe on a 30" 2560 x 1600 monitor) enough to pay extra.
You may need to look beyond NewEgg to find a 275 in stock. Check places like ZipZoomFly / eWiz / TigerDirect.
Or use the Google shopping bot to find the lowest prices. It's not always NewEgg.

Case choice is often a 'personal taste' type of thing. But I don't agree that you're gaining any 'quality' that enhances performance or value. They both do the 'case thing' very well.



October 26, 2009 3:37:42 PM

WR2 said:
It is not true. But.....
In 32bit OSs (WinXP 32bit / Vista 32bit) the system reserves some memory address space for devices attached to the system. Since 32bit OS can only address 4GB of memory address space, and because the reserved memory space made it look like there was less than 4GB of RAM available it would look like what that someone described. As as a bigger memory sized video card was used that 4GB of RAM would shrink again. And if you went with a CF/SLI setup it could shrink yet again. With 4GB of RAM installed it would look like it wasn't all there. If you had only 2GB of RAM you wouldn't "lose" any available RAM to your video card or other hardware devices.

I agree that 1792 MB VRAM isn't useful (except maybe on a 30" 2560 x 1600 monitor) enough to pay extra.
You may need to look beyond NewEgg to find a 275 in stock. Check places like ZipZoomFly / eWiz / TigerDirect.
Or use the Google shopping bot to find the lowest prices. It's not always NewEgg.

Case choice is often a 'personal taste' type of thing. But I don't agree that you're gaining any 'quality' that enhances performance or value. They both do the 'case thing' very well.


OK. I think I understand about the RAM now. He advised me to use a 64bit windows version so he probably had the right answer without knowing quite why.

If I have 4 GB system RAM and have a video card with 1GB, then the combined RAM is 5 GB but since a 32 bit OS can only address 4GB, there would only be 3GB available to the OS. Is that roughly correct?

I'll take another look at the other case but I think I like the look of the Antec better. I will also take a look at some other sites for the video card.

Kor

October 26, 2009 3:49:51 PM

korkiley said:
If I have 4 GB system RAM and have a video card with 1GB, then the combined RAM is 5 GB but since a 32 bit OS can only address 4GB, there would only be 3GB available to the OS. Is that roughly correct?
More likely there would be 3.2~3.3GB of RAM available. And the 'combined RAM is 5GB part is wrong. There is only 4GB of RAM. VRAM is not interchangeable, or additive, with system RAM.
October 26, 2009 4:10:38 PM

WR2 said:
More likely there would be 3.2~3.3GB of RAM available. And the 'combined RAM is 5GB part is wrong. There is only 4GB of RAM. VRAM is not interchangeable, or additive, with system RAM.


Thanks for the clarification.

I've found a Sparkle GTX 275 on amazon.com for $207. ( http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B0024IDEX... )

Are there any caveats for what brand to go with other than price and warranty. Is the card itself made by nVidia? What would Sparkle add--the fan and housing--or just a sticker?
October 26, 2009 5:08:39 PM

Look a little closer; the Sparkle GTX 275 card you linked does not have a rear-exhaust cooling solution, which means that it dumps it's heat into the case. This is very counter productive when trying to keep an overclocked i7 as cool as posible.

Also, don't get stuck on the 275. As i mentioned in a previous post, the GTX-275 is the 55 nanometer die-shrink version of GTX-260 at 65 nanometers. The following link - http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E... - shows several name brand GTX-260's, many of which have rear-exhaust, and are all under $200. Of these, I recommend the EVGA GTX-260 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Comp :sol: 
October 26, 2009 5:17:15 PM

CompuTronix said:
The Sparkle GTX 275 card you linked does not have a dual-slot rear-exhaust cooling solution, which means that it dumps it's heat into the case. This is very counter productive when trying to keep an overclocked i7 as cool as posible.

Also, don't get stuck on the 275. As i mentioned in a previous post, the GTX-275 is the 55 nanometer die-shrink version of GTX-260 at 65 nanometers. The following link - http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E... - shows several name brand GTX-260's, nearly all of which have dual-slot rear-exhaust, and are all under $200. Of these, I recommend the EVGA GTX-260 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Comp :sol: 


Man! There really are some gotchas. Thanks for saving me from the Sparkle!

My reasoning for the 275 was power consumption and noise. I'm hoping with the smaller tolerances, should come efficiency in power consumption.
October 27, 2009 7:32:35 PM

CompuTronix said:
There is actually very little difference. Tom's wrote an article earlier this year which compared several cards with the GTX-275 and GTX-260: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-275,226...


I've read all I can find on the GTX 275 vs the GTX 260 and I think a bit extra for the 275 is worth it. But the problem is that there are very few makes available for some reason. Here are two at a reasonable price. Could I please have anyones opinion about these two? Thank you so much!

Galaxy 27XIF9HU1QUX GeForce GTX 275 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail:

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

ZOTAC ZT-275E3KB-FSP geforce gtx 275 896mb gddr3 pci-e 2.0 hdcp ready sli supported video card (retail):

http://www.mwave.com/mwave/SKUSearch_v3.asp?px=FO&scrit...

Of course I'm very familiar with newegg and they have a good reputation. I know nothing about mwave, although they may be perfectly fine. So until someone can re-assure me otherwise, I prefer to purchase from newegg, especially since I will be buy all other components from them.

Kor
October 27, 2009 7:49:52 PM

Mwave has been around quite a while and has a good track record. I trust them and have sent a fair number of people their way to use the '$89 build a PC option' the offer.

Zotac over Galaxy IMO. And its a pretty good price to boot.
October 29, 2009 6:43:44 AM

WR2 said:
Zotac over Galaxy IMO.
I agree. Zotac has been earning a good reputation, while Galaxy's cooling solution is clearly inferior. Note the fan placement in the center of the card. Only half the exhaust exits the rear of the case, while the other half of the exhaust is being dumped back into the case from the front of the card . :pfff: 
October 29, 2009 12:51:55 PM

Thanks! I just canceled my order with the Galaxy. Now I've found an eVGA GTX 275. Might that be better? A trusted supplier that we do business with at my job has one available. It's a bit higher but at this point I'm willing to pay and she'll throw in free shipping.

Kor
October 29, 2009 1:21:41 PM

eVGA is definately better! Lifetime warranty for one thing.
And they have the 90 day step-up program
October 29, 2009 2:28:36 PM

WR2 said:
eVGA is definately better! Lifetime warranty for one thing.
And they have the 90 day step-up program


Great! I've ordered the eVGA card -- the supplier, PC Connection, only had one card! I've also ordered the rest of my components from newegg. I understand that eVGA products are made in the US which is a good thing these days! Here is my final inventory:

($114.95) PSU ANTEC|TP-750 750W

($109.95) CASE ANTEC|NINE HUNDRED TWO

($289.99) CPU INTEL|CORE I7 860 2.8G

($169.99) MB ASUS|P7P55D PRO P55

($114.99) MEM 2Gx2|MUSHKIN 996679 D3 1600

($248.00) nVidia GeForce GTX 275 Graphics card, 896MB DDR3, PCI-E 2.0, 2 DVI-I

I will use HD and CD/DVD drives and burners, monitor, keyboard and mouse from my old computer then upgrade as I have the funds available.

The step up program sounds great. Thank you for all your help!

Kor
October 29, 2009 2:41:22 PM

Wow;
If you had to dig that deep into the supply chaing (PC Connection) GTX 275 must be in really short supply.

Be sure to let us know how things turn out.
October 29, 2009 2:47:05 PM

Good job, and nice selections! :sol: 
October 29, 2009 3:01:37 PM

WR2 said:
Wow;
If you had to dig that deep into the supply chaing (PC Connection) GTX 275 must be in really short supply.

Be sure to let us know how things turn out.


Yes, they seem to be in extremely short supply and the supply is shrinking daily! They got Asus GTX 275s back in stock and newegg for about an hour yesterday, then they were gone and now it's not even an option. I think PC Connection used to be a good company and, at the university library where I work in systems, we used to buy a lot from them. We haven't bought from them for years though. I was very discouraged by their return policy. You can only return computer parts that are DOA. You can't even return unopened items. She said they are then considered "used." She claimed this was an edict from the manufacturer that they have no control over. I'm skeptical.

I will certainly let you know how things go!
October 29, 2009 3:05:25 PM

CompuTronix said:
Good job, and nice selections! :sol: 


Thanks! Both of you guys were a fantastic help and saved me from disastrous decisions a couple of times. I did a heck of a lot of research myself and have learned a lot. I can't wait to get my hands on the goods and start assembling them!

Kor
October 29, 2009 3:05:36 PM

PC Connection has been around a LONG time. It might be fair to say they were a big player, maybe even the NewEgg, of the day back when..... can see why they're not so popular now.

Strange you can return parts to NewEgg but not PC Connection.
October 29, 2009 3:07:44 PM

WR2 said:
PC Connection has been around a LONG time. It might be fair to say they were a big player, maybe even the NewEgg, of the day back when..... can see why they're not so popular now.

Strange you can return parts to NewEgg but not PC Connection.


Isn't it something!
October 30, 2009 1:05:00 AM

korkiley,

WR2 has been around a LONG time. It might be fair to say his advice is always spot-on, so you've been in good hands! :D 

Comp :sol: 
October 31, 2009 12:39:57 AM

My parts (except for video card) arrived safely this evening. I have been so busy trying to choose the parts that I've neglected finding good directions on assembly. I know I've seen instructions around but most are pretty ancient. If anyone can point me to some decent ones that would be great. In the meantime I'll be looking.

Thanks, Kor
October 31, 2009 4:17:51 AM

korkiley said:
Thanks! Both of you guys were a fantastic help and saved me from disastrous decisions a couple of times.
You're welcome. You'd probably be surprised how seldom we hear that, so it's appreciated.

And we don't hear many 'attaboys' for some reason, so thanks Comp. You do great work for the community.

I used to have some good video links from Youtube. But they've all gone bad it seems. You can probably find some good ones if you look around.

I had better luck with some weblinks:
THG's Putting It All Together
TechReport: How to build a PC
MaximumPC
ExtremeTech

My own procedure is:
Read the manuals - look at the parts. Read the manuals again till everything makes sense to you.

Prepare the case: Watch for sharp edges. Install motherboard stand offs. Check the front panel wiring harness - if the wiring isn't marked well trace the wire back so you know what the function is - maybe even label the wire or make a notr. Check the motherboard manual so you know where the front panel connectors go. Install the PSU in the case. I hookup the powercord to the wall socket to get a good ground on the case.

Prepare the motherboard. Install the CPU and heatsink fan. Install the RAM.

Install the motherboard, DVD and HDD and video card. Attach the cables and wiring.

Be sure to let us know how things go.






October 31, 2009 2:37:43 PM

Well, you guys were great and I really needed the moral support too.

And every one of the links that you gave me for how to assemble look very good.

I've been reading the Asus manual for the P7P55D Pro motherboard and there's something that concerns me about the memory modules I bought (Mushkin Enhanced 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ) "Due to Intel Spec definition X.M.P. DIMMs and DDR3-1600 are supported for one DIMM per channel only. Does this mean that if I want to add another 4GB of RAMM later, I can no longer use the 1600 RAM? It also warns that DIMMs should be below 1.65 volts to protect the CPU. I thought 1.65 was the required spec.

It also looks like, since the DIMMs are 1600, I'll have to do some special configuration.

Now I'm looking for reassurance! : )

Kor
October 31, 2009 6:07:59 PM

korkiley said:
It also looks like, since the DIMMs are 1600, I'll have to do some special configuration.
Not right away. Initially your motherboard will choose RAM settings and it will probably end up running the RAM at DDR3 1333 settings. Later you'll have a chance to tweak the settings if you choose, including 'overclocking'.

The standard range of i5/i7 RAM voltage is 1.5-1.65, 1.65 being the maximum. You'll see 1.5v more often in the lower bandwidth DDR3 1066/PC3 8500 or 1333/PC3 10600. Your Mushkin will be perfectly happy running at PC3 1066 1.5v if the motherboard decides to use that setting. It's rated to run DDR3 1600 CAS7 at 1.65v

8GB of DDR3 1600 will work fine in the P7P55D Pro by (1) running at DDR3 1333 or (2) at DDR3 1600 with overclocking.
I don't get too excited about RAM tweaking. DDR3 1333 CAS6 or DDR3 1600 CAS7 would perform almost identically.
And you can get more of a performance boost through overclocking the CPU a few MHZ than tweaking the RAM for max performance settings. The Mushkin RAM you selected does give you more options for tweaking though.
October 31, 2009 6:22:01 PM

Here are a few links of possible interest:
HardwareSecrets: ASUS P7P55D PRO review
TechGauge: Overclocking Intel's Core i5-750 & i7-870
AnandTech: Intel's Core i7 870 & i5 750 and Core i7 860 Review
Guru3D i5/i7 overclocking and review

edit; I see in all the discussion here the subject of aftermarket CPU coolers never came up.
Thats probably an oversight, given you said you'd like to think about some moderate OCs.
The stock cooler will do OK for light OCs. When is your video card due? Might have time to sneak a cooler into the build at the start instead of later on. Ideally, you'd install the nice cooler at the start to avoid having to take the motherboard out of the case again.
October 31, 2009 6:52:49 PM

WR2 has brought up a good point.

As you've emphatically stated that you won't be running FSX, let's remember to consider that Condor and X-Plane are also very CPU bound simulations, which derive their frame rates primarily from CPU performance, and will therefore most definately benefit from overclocking. As your viewpoint and comfort level concerning overclocking could change in the future from moderate to more aggressive, it would be highly advisable at this time to install a high-end air cooler.
October 31, 2009 7:06:39 PM

Too late. The motherboard is already in the case. How much do you think I can safely OC it with the stock cooler?

My video card is due on Monday. At this point I think I just want to get this thing going and I've already spent more than I had intended. Any recommendations for a cooler?
October 31, 2009 7:25:03 PM

Thats not a problem. You will be able to do some overclocking on the stock cooler.
You'll let the CPU operating temps give you guidance on how high you can go.
(you'll be using CompuTronix's Core i7 and Core 2 Temperature Guide of course).

I don't recommend an overclock right away. You'll have TurboMode active anyway.
Wait a week or two. Do some stability testing and benchmarking to make sure everything is stable and smooth at stock. Make notes on your benchmarking results so you know what your later tweaks are giving you in terms of performance gains.

Luckily, gaming is a good form of stress and stability testing. If your games allow do some benchmarking as well.
PassMark benchmarking and FutureMark 3D Vantage

Once you've done your baseline testing and benchmarking and then done the same for your stock cooler overclock testing and benchmarking I think you'll be able to decide if you want to upgrade your CPU cooler. You'll have an idea comparing the two benchmarking and make a good guess what higher overclocking will give you for performance. It's not always as big an improvement as you might guess. So staying with stock cooling overclocks could be an option.
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