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Advice on $1200 HTPC/school/light gaming build

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November 26, 2009 1:33:08 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Late December/Early January

BUDGET RANGE: $900-1100 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: HTPC--subscribed to ATT U-Verse (heard you can use your comp as a dvr if you use a cabletuner card) and watching downloaded HD movies...also hoping to use as media server.... light gaming in 1080p.... some video editing/photoshop... college school work

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
HDD: WD 750gb 5400rpm (storage)
WD Velociraptor 150gb 10000 rpm (OS)
MONITOR: Toshiiba 32" 1080p LCD HDMI input
OS: WIndows 7 Professional x64

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com or and U.S.-based sites

PARTS PREFERENCES: been using Intel and NVidia all my life, others may be better but this is what i'm used to and would like to keep it that way... been looking at the i5 since i can upgrade to an i7 down the line with 1156 socket... some sort of ASUS mobo as i have heard negative reviews of gigabyte from friends

OVERCLOCKING: Yes. anywhere from 3.6-4.2 gHz

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe SLI

MONITOR RESOLUTION:1920x1080

PARTS LIST:

ASUS MOBO P7P55D Deluxe

Is there an NVidia equivalent?

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail

Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO CPU Cooler

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm looking to build an HTPC media server that I can use to do work/game/watch movies/TV while at home and logging in remotely to edit/view files while i'm away at school. I was going to build a RAID into it, but the benefits seem too little too late as SSD prices fall. I'm not looking to SLI right now but possibly might in the future, so an SLI HDPC compatible card would be nice... I'm on somewhat of a budget right now but would like to build a system that is very easily upgradeable as funds become available. I've been researching the forums but felt its finally time to ask personal recommendations. Thanks again and Happy Holidays!

-Albert
November 26, 2009 5:42:29 AM

Hi!

A couple of things before we get started on the build:
1) i7-860 with a P55 mobo should be within your price range, and is all you really will ever need. Hyperthreading helps photo and video editting quite a bit.

2) Gigabyte P55 mobos have gotten great reviews from Tom's Hardware (Asus mobos did too). Don't be afraid of Gigabyte - they are great boards.

3) Currently, nVidia does not have any GPUs which support DirectX 11 (like the HD 5000 series does). The HD 5000 series is a great bang for your buck; however, if you prefer nVidia (for CUDA or PhysX, or just because you're a fanboy), then the GTX 260 is a pretty close match to that card (similar price too).


Now let's work on your build:
CPU & Mobo Combo: Intel Core i7 & Asus Maximus III $470
Heatsink: Scythe "ZIPANG 2" $50
^FrostyTech (http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2421&page=4) shows this heatsink to be slightly quieter than your Noctua choice, and it provides decent cooling performance, not to mention that it costs a little less. Noctua makes great performance rigs, but you may be able to find similar for less money.

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB DDR3 1600 $125
GPU: GIGABYTE GV-N98TSL-1GI GeForce 9800 GT 1GB Silent Cell $135
^Consider this fanless solution. Or go for the GTX 260 (depending on how much gaming performance you need).

Optical Drive: $35
Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 922 $95 (-$35 MIR)
PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA750 750W $90 (-$15 MIR)
------------------------------------------------
Subtotal: $1000 ($960 after rebates)


- Yes that mobo is overkill; however, at such a great combo deal it's hard to pass up.
- The GTX 260 will give better performance, but will also cost additional money,
- 750W is overkill, but with such a reasonable rebate, it's not at all a bad buy for the price. If you SLI or Crossfire two high-end cards, you may need that much juice.
November 26, 2009 6:15:50 AM

Thanks for the reply nofun!

i was actually looking at that mobo and thought the same thing... but with that and an i7-860, you're right i wouldn't have to look to upgrade for a long time... i take back what i said about nvidia. even though i am a fanboy, i've come to understand that in desktops, ati is king.

as for the mobo, how would i go about using my pc as a dvr? if i got a cablecard and plugged in my set-top box, would my recordings be scrambled? (att uverse)

thanks again!
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November 26, 2009 10:59:23 AM

albee320 said:
Thanks for the reply nofun!

i was actually looking at that mobo and thought the same thing... but with that and an i7-860, you're right i wouldn't have to look to upgrade for a long time... i take back what i said about nvidia. even though i am a fanboy, i've come to understand that in desktops, ati is king.

as for the mobo, how would i go about using my pc as a dvr? if i got a cablecard and plugged in my set-top box, would my recordings be scrambled? (att uverse)

thanks again!


Unfortunately I don't have any experience with that. I know that everything but your local channels will be scrambled. I believe you can still get standard definition TV unscrambled, but not the digital HD picture you want. This is nothing to do with the performance of your rig, it's just that the cable companies want to keep DVR technology under their thumb so they can charge you a monthly fee. I don't know about ATT Uverse.

One thing about my recommendation last night: that heatsink I recommended will give good, low-noise performance; however, it may not be powerful enough given the heavy overclocking you seem to want to perform. With that in mind (and given that you have a little extra money in your budget), you could go for something a little better. Unfortunately there are a myriad of low-noise, high-performance options out there, so I'll leave that research to you. Noctua is always a good choice, and you may want to look at Scythe and Akasa as well.
December 26, 2009 7:23:50 AM

thread bump...

so i've done some more research and i'm ready to start collecting parts

i've decided on an i5 and am deciding on motherboards but have a simple question..

if a motherboard supports 2200oc for RAM, can i buy 2000oc RAM and clock it to 2000 or will it be limited to 1600(the next supported level)
December 26, 2009 1:59:06 PM

so i've compiled a list of the parts i'm looking at...

i5-750 and coolermaster 212 heatsink
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

asus p7p55d evo mobo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

gskill trident ddr3 2000... any opinions?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

geforce 9800gt silent cell
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

i need some help on the PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and this WD HDD as a temporary boot drive until i can find a decent SSD..
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

any input on this setup would be great
!