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New gaming system

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Last response: in Systems
October 25, 2009 9:56:14 PM

OK so I was planning to buy a new system and after building my last 2, was hoping to take it easy and get a prebuilt system. After playing around on various websites I settled on this Dell system.

Alienware Aurora Desktop
Windows® 7 Home Premium, 64bit
Processor Intel® Core™ i7 920 2.66GHz
Memory 12GB Triple Channel 1333MHz DDR3
Single 1.8GB NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 295
1.5TB RAID 0 (2x 750GB SATA-II, 7,200 RPM, 16MB Cache HDDs)
Blu-ray Disc (BD) Burner (Writes to DVD/CD/BD)
Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi™ Xtreme Audio VXFIM [313-8948]
Hauppauge WinTV HVR-1250 Hybrid TV Tuner with Remote Control TV9BCRM [320-8764]
Alienware Optical Mouse
Alienware Multi-Media Keyboard
Alienware™ High-Performance Liquid Cooling

This comes to a little over $2,600 before tax. Not cheap. I know that building your own can be cheaper but it can be a headache and a big time sink. But after reading some threads here about Dells and other prebuilts I became somewhat concerned, especially with respect to the power supplies. I managed to upgrade Dells a few times with no problem but those power supplies can be a real hassle. The system above comes with an 875W while my 2 recent builds both house 750W Silencers from PCP&C. I expect to need a larger PSU with my new system but not sure how big.

Anyway, if I can get a similar build for a significant savings I'm willing to build my own again. However, I know next to nothing about the newer hardware and will need some advice.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a month unless a new shiny graphics card is released

BUDGET RANGE: $2,500 as above but will pay more for significant improvement.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: I want to play games while watching TV or a movie in another window on my 30" monitor. And BOINC.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: No speakers. Already have a 30" Samsung monitor. Don't really need a sound card. Don't really need a RAID 0 setup.



OVERCLOCKING: Not relying on OC but will attempt it anyway with a good OC for dummies guide.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 30" monitor says as good as it can get. :) 

ADDITIONAL DETAILS: motherboard must support eSATA for my external TB drive. PSU should have single rail. Would consider a SSD drive for the OS and core apps but unsure of the right size.


Based on some comments I've read earlier I put together parts for a system and this is where I need the help to see if I'm missing anything or if there are better choices. All comments welcome.
Intel Core i7-920 Model BX80601920 - Retail
EVGA 017-P3-1296-AR GeForce GTX 295 <---- combo deal for $770
ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V PSU <--- combo deal for $420
2x Mushkin Enhanced Redline 6GB Model 998691 - Retail <--- total $400
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Drive <---- $85
COOLER MASTER Storm Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP Mid Tower Computer Case
MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit OEM <--- combo deal for $305
LB Blu Ray player but need to do better research on them <--- $200
ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler <---- $34

Logitech Mouse & Keyboard <---- $40 but is there anything really worth spending more on?

Edit: Crap forgot the TV Tuner card so I will edit this soon.


The total is about $2250 before tax shipping and any coupon codes I can come up with, which isn't as much savings as I'd hoped for but the components, namely the PSU and MB are probably vastly superior. Still there are other issues, such as the fact I couldn't verify the memory compatibility on ASUS' website.

Anyway I'm not married to anything except maybe the CPU. I'm surprised at the lack of WD drives and single rail PSUs (especially from PCP&C) from the last time I built systems so I wonder how many changes there were that I don't know anything about.

More about : gaming system

October 25, 2009 10:08:50 PM
The F3 is a fair bit faster, and cheaper than the F1, it should be back in stock soon

The GTX295 is a massive waste, a 5870 performs similarly for wayyy less, $390 vs $520

The performance difference for the redlines over these is minimal, and certainly not enough to justify an extra $100, but you will get no benefit from 12GB of ram over 6GB for gaming for now so save that money for now and use it for upgrades in the future.

If you only get 6GB of ram and the 5870 you could get a second 5870 which will give you far better performance than the GTX295 would have.
October 25, 2009 10:28:46 PM

Thanks for the reply.

There are a few items I selected only because I couldn't find a item I preferred that was in stock. The HD is one of them. :) 

I have not used ATI cards for a long long time. I have been reading about the comparisons between these boards for a while but one thing that brigs me to this card is that (I am told) it scales very well when running BOINC apps under CUDA. I don't know if something similar to CUDA has come out for ATI boards and I heard rumors of something coming out, but I haven't seen anything about it.

The reason I liked the mushkins is the lower latency which I understand to be important when OCing. I thought about the 7 latency blacklines which are about the same price as the OCZs but they are out of stock. This is something I definitely want to think about though as performance improvements from memory has always been somewhat of a black box to me.

An issue with multiple cards in cross fire (or SLI) is power and space on the MB. Another issue is that, at least with SLI, CUDA does not support video cards in SLI mode. If the 295 doesn't scale well over say a 275 or 285 I may rethink the card I use but unless things have changed I will probably run with a single nvidia card.

Edit: Regarding the 12GB I may not get a performance increase but 6GB isn't really enough for my purposes, or at least I need to allow for using more than 6. My current systems both have 8GB and would benefit from an increase..
October 26, 2009 12:51:54 AM

-Don't waste your money on a high end DX10 card...whats the point?
Either get an ATI 5xxx or wait until nvidia releases thier end of the DX11 ball game.

-Also you can save a lot if you switch your PSU to the TX series and I'd stay with your mushkin redlines because they have good transfers and excellent timings for DDR3.

-And for system of this budget, not having an SSD is a crime. You can fit an X-25m INtel 80GB solid state in there. However remember to shrink your Page File because 12GBx1.5=18GB just for page file.
October 26, 2009 1:36:50 AM

Thanks for the info. I really wanted a modular PSU but I guess it's not worth the extra $100.

As for the ATI I mentioned above that unless there is something I missed about there being something akin to CUDA for ATI then I will stick with nvidia. I don't disagree that the 295 is wasteful for gaming purposes but that's not the only use for it. I would like to wait for that DX11 card if I knew it would be out soon. Any idea when it's coming? I do have an MSI GTX 240 in one computer using CUDA and I suppose I could swap it in for now but I don't know if thats the best solution.

And I do want an SSD for the OS and core apps but don't know what the right size is. I was looking at the 128GB drives but do you think I can get away with an 80?

Best solution

October 26, 2009 1:55:28 AM

I would recommend 2 5850s in crossfire. Performs 20-25% better than GTX 295 at almost the same price.

If you really want to get CUDA, please wait for the Fermi cards. The top model will surely launch this quarter and should be priced around $500.
October 26, 2009 1:58:29 AM

And 80GB should be enough IMO. Just remember to set your downloads folder in other drive.
October 26, 2009 2:29:24 AM

Thanks for the reply. I have since found out that some boinc projects do work with ATI cards so thats a new one for me. And the fermi cards really throw a wrench into my plans. My choice is to hijack a gtx240 from another machine and scrounge up a cheap card for the interim until the fermi cards are out, get an ati, or defer my purchase for a couple of months.

I guess I have the info I need I just have to make a decision. Thanks again.