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$1400 Gamer -- Advice Sought

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October 25, 2009 11:30:38 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: October 26, 2009 - November 6, 2009

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: 1. Gaming 2. Video Encoding 3. Internet/Productivity

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Case (Antec 900), Speakers, Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, Additional HDDs, PSU -- I plan on reusing a Corsair 550w PSU

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com/Tigerdirect.com/Microcenter.com COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Mobo could be anything but I do think I'll stick with Intel + ATI for CPU & GPU

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, though I've not done so before SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Eventually, when 5870 prices fall

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have several questions, please see below.

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Processor:
Core i7 920 - $200

Mobo:
ASUS P6t Deluxe V2 - $289.99

RAM:
Crucial 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - $125.99

Video Card:
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB - $389.99

Boot Drive:
Intel X25-M 80 GB - $289.00

Thermal Paste:
Arctic Silver 5 - $6.99

Heatsink:
Cooler Master V8 - $59.99

Optical Drive:
Sony Optiarc Black - $33.99

Total: $1395.94

Here's the quick story: giving old system to my brother (Core 2 Duo/4gb/8800GTS) as a graduation present while I upgrade for myself. I've been researching all weekend and I'm still left with a couple questions.

1. A lot of people seem to think that the Core i5 750 > Core i7 920, at least in the comment thread of this article. However, I'd like to eventually run Crossfire once the 5870 falls in price a bit -- do you guys think I should go with the i7 920 or i5 750 and just run a single GPU and upgrade to a better single card at a later date?

2. Overclocking: I've often read about it but have never tried it. I know I can really max out performance gains of the i7 920 with an air cooler like the one linked above but I want to make sure that I can do that safely without blowing up my chip. Also, I want the memory to be able to work well overclocked with the CPU--does anyone have any good resources for learning how to do this?

3. Motherboard: Finally, I've been looking at a couple of mobo options but I think I like the ASUS P6t Deluxe V2 the best. Does anyone strongly discourage this or any of the other components?

Thanks in advance.

Tom
October 25, 2009 11:37:31 PM

Thanks for the quick response jbakerlent. Do you think the i7 860 would be worth $90 more than the i7 920?

And wow, that heatsink is better -- and $30 cheaper. Nice find.
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October 25, 2009 11:39:08 PM

Here's a simple explanation of why I prefer 1156/P55:
1. 860's frequency is higher
2. 860's turbo mode is far greater
3. 860's TDP is far lower
4. 860's intel specified supported ram frequency is higher
5. 860's overall price is far lower
6. Initial very high price of gulftown cpus
7. Lack of compelling need for 16x/16x crossfire
8. Limited benefit of triple channel ram

And here's a link that shows I'm not making it up :) 
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=364...
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October 25, 2009 11:49:36 PM

Interesting. I probably won't do a major overhaul (outside of little upgrades like GPU, RAM, etc) of my system for the next 2-3 years. For that period of time do you still think the socket 1156 chip is a better long-term choice than the 1366?
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October 25, 2009 11:54:41 PM

After three years, I personally would just buy a new computer. You can always add a second gpu in crossfire, double up on the ram, and add another ssd/hdd, and overclock in the mean time. After three years I would say it's better just to start fresh (and maybe save the PSU, case, etc) and you can use some of the money you save by switching to 1156 to fund this ;)  .
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October 26, 2009 12:02:29 AM

Thanks, I'll update with an 1156 build specced out.
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October 26, 2009 1:05:42 AM

CPU:
Intel Core i7 860 - $290

Motherboard:
EVGA P55 SLI 132-LF-E655-KR - $200

RAM:
OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) - $100

Video Card:
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB - $389.99

Boot Drive:
Intel X25-M 80 GB - $289.00

Optical Drive:
Sony Optiarc Black - $33.99

CPU Cooler:
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-GP 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve - $29.99

Thermal Paste:
Arctic Silver 5 - $6.99

Total: $1340

The only thing I'm worried about is whether the PSU you are recycling will be powerful enough to run all of this. If it was just one HDD then I wouldn't be worried, but seeing as you are adding an SSD then I'd have thought that 600W would be needed.
You could probably save some money on a motherboard by finding one that is cheaper, but doesnt use a foxconn socket, as they are pretty dodgy on 1156 sockets, you could probably risk a moderate overclock on it, but there are no guarantees it would stand up to it. Check the OP in this thread to see what I'm talking about http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/page-268403_10_0.ht....
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October 26, 2009 12:07:39 PM

Silvune,
Really that's only a savings of $55 with 2 GB less memory. It doesn't seem like going with the 860 hardware would be that much of a discount.
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October 26, 2009 1:02:41 PM

Yes you are right. You could use an i5 750 instead of an 860. That should save another $90. I think if you are factoring in the dodgy foxconn socket (unless you can find a cheap motherboard (that does what you want) that doesnt have a foxconn socket) it probably is worth sticking with i7 920, considering it also has 6GB which will be useful in video encoding.
I will revise what I said about the PSU. With either 1156 CPU you would be fine in my estimation with a 550W PSU, but with the i7 920 I think it would be much safer with a 600W PSU, altho with either system you might need more if overclocking requires more power to be drawn from the PSU.
Also when you add another 5870 you will definitely need a more powerful PSU, 850W. So up to you to get that now or later.
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October 26, 2009 1:24:38 PM

Further examination last night revealed that the power supply is the 430 Watt Corsair--not the 550 I linked. I could have sworn it was the 550. I'm sure I'll have to upgrade it now. I might hold off on the SSD to budget for the PSU. I'll keep researching about the Foxconn socket.
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October 26, 2009 3:10:55 PM

CPU:
Intel Core i7 860 - $290

Motherboard:
EVGA P55 SLI 132-LF-E655-KR - $200

RAM:
OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) - $100

Video Card:
ATI Radeon HD 5870 1GB - $389.99

Optical Drive:
Sony Optiarc Black - $33.99

CPU Cooler:
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-GP 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve - $29.99

Thermal Paste:
Arctic Silver 5 - $6.99

PSU:
Antec TPQ-850 850W Continuous Power CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular - $150

Total: $1140

Pros: About $170 cheaper.
Cons: Increased price to be 100% sure that no damage will be caused due to overclocking. Less RAM which could be missed in video encoding. Although could potentially go up to 8GB.

OR

CPU:
Intel Core i7 920 - $290

Motherboard:
ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 - $290

RAM:
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 - $131

Video Card:
SAME - $389.99

Optical Drive:
SAME - $33.99

CPU Cooler:
SAME - $29.99

Thermal Paste:
SAME - $6.99

PSU:
SAME - $150

Total: $1315

Pros: More RAM. CPU very favourable to overclocking.
Cons: More expensive. Power comsumption would be higher.
I changed the RAM to G.Skill because the set I chose is slightly better than the Corsair and not much more expensive
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Best solution

October 26, 2009 4:06:17 PM

tomh85 said:
I can actually get the i7 920 for about $200 in store and I can downgrade to v1 of the Mobo:

CPU:
Intel Core i7 920 - $200

Motherboard:
ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $240

RAM:
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 - $131


Video Card:
SAME - $389.99


Optical Drive:
SAME - $33.99


CPU Cooler:
SAME - $29.99


Thermal Paste:
SAME - $6.99


PSU:
SAME - $150


Total: $1181.96


Nice one. I think we have a winner.
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October 26, 2009 5:03:19 PM

Wow obsidian thanks -- awesome resource. Does anyone have any objections to the build i linked above?

I went with the 1366 because I didn't want to be limited by the (perhaps negligible) 8x/8x PCI-E 2 speeds in Crossfire and the ability to have 2 extra gigs of ram for within $40 of the other build. If you guys still think I might do better with the i7 860 let me know.

Thanks
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