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New Build: $1500 to $2000

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December 6, 2009 10:11:32 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Early/Mid January 2010
BUDGET RANGE: $1500-$2000, naturally, cheaper is better…
Before / After Rebates: Before (I’m horrible about actually sending them in…, and some maybe gone when I actually buy the parts in about a month)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Homework, Programming/Virtual Machines, Gaming, Internet

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, Case (can’t remember what one I have and it’s in another country at the moment... but I have an average mid-tower and a full size tower from older builds that have died), DVD burner

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com, TigerDirect.com, Amazon.com (sometimes you find a good deal)

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel i7, but open to other options… like ATI, but open to nVidia

OVERCLOCKING: NO
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Quiet is nice, but good cooling is more important, study is pretty small. I would like this computer to be useful (games mainly since not much else really goes out of date that quick) for at least 3 years if possible on this budget.

It’s been over 7 years since I last built a computer and a lot has changed. Still spinning myself up on the new things out there. Thanks for the help in advance. Parts I’m considering:

Hard Drive (speed/cost is more important than size. I have a couple SATA hdds laying around for storage, can be dropped to keep cost down): Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$179.99

Graphics Card: SAPPHIRE 100281SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity – Retail (I’ll measure my case before ordering of course)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$419.99

CPU: Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$569.99

Heatsink/Fan: ???????

Motherboard (definitely open to suggestions for a cheaper 1366 chipset board): EVGA E758-TR 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard – Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$269.99

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8T-6GBRM - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$169.99

Power Supply: Antec EarthWatts EA750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V version 2.3 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC "compatible with Core i7/Core i5" Power Supply - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$139.99

O/S: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~$139.99


Anything I’m missing? Have a 25” monitor (1920x1200), keyboard, mouse, case, extra hdd’s, dvd burner… feel like I’m missing something though…

TOTAL: $1889.99+ Heatsink/fan

More about : build 1500 2000

December 6, 2009 12:45:24 PM

Go for the i7-920 and then overclock it. The i7-920 can be overclocked on air cooling to well over 4 GHz; however, if you just to stay within the safe voltage limits, you can easily get it to match the i7-950 at stock specifications.

Between the two, I just don't see the price/performance gain as the i7-950 is twice as expensive. The only way you would want to go for that chip is if you're an extreme overclocker (and even then you would probably go for the i7-975 instead) who will be pushing the extra limits of the i7-950.

Read this review for hard drives: (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/2tb-hdd-7200,2430-7.html). The new 7200 RPM hard disks with 500 GB platters have been shown to give performance pretty darn close to the 10,000 RPM drives. Either the WD RE4 - 2 TB, the WD Caviar Black - 2TB, or the Samsung Spinpoint F3 - 1TB will all give you fantastic performance, great storage, and be much more cost effective. If you need the extra storage now, get one of these (the Spinpoint F3 1TB runs about $85). If not, just wait for SSD prices to come down to more reasonable levels, as they are far better than the 10,000 RPM hard drives, but are still too expensive (at least in my opinion). Towards the end of next year, we should see them come down somewhat as they become more mainstream, and companies start making 3.5" models for enthusiasts.

Not really familiar with all the X58 boards, so I won't comment directly. I will direct you to this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cheap-x58-motherboard,2368.html?xtmc=x58_budget_overclocking&xtcr=1. These are value-oriented boards, but that may be all you need since you don't want to go for extreme overclocks. The Gigabyte board in that review still supports two full 16x/16x PCIe lanes (which is all you care about) so you can still crossfire two beefy cards in the future. Pay attention to that spec, most X58 motherboards have multiple PCI Express 2.0 16x slots, but if you use multiple GPUs, some only run at 8x/8x or 16x/8x. You want one that supports 16x/16x. When reading these reviews, take a look at the overclocking page (even though you don't plan to do any extreme overclocking):

The reason for this is overclocking stresses the components, and the mobos that fail the easiest or burn up are the ones which are more cheaply made (and thus you should probably avoid them). The only hitch with the Gigabyte board in that review is that it only supports 4 RAM slots (rather than 6)

If you go for an Asus board, go to their website, download the manual, and read the RAM Approved Vendor list, and make sure your RAM is on it. This is a good step with any board, but particularly with Asus as they are sometimes very picky about RAM. I just bought a Maximus III Formula (A top of the line P55 board) and my RAM was VERY VERY similar to what was on their approved list, so I said: "Ok, it should still work," but it didn't.

Since you're dropping this much money into a machine already, see if you can get DDR3 1600 with CAS Latency of 7 as it will run better than the RAM you selected, but it will cost slightly more.

That GPU is good, and the prices will plummet when the GTX 300 series is released. You may still want to budget for a GTX 300 series card when they are released in Q1/Q2 of 2010 as they support CUDA and PhysX (both of which may interest you if you're a programmer).

For a heatsink and fan, look at this website:
http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm
Although it is a little dated, it is still a great place to start. The Scythe Zipang 2 does a good job of balancing quiet operation with performance, but it is not a performance heatsink (you will be pushing your luck if you are trying for high-end overclocks). Still, since you're looking at mild-moderate overclocks, that heatsink should deliver what you need with very low noise.
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December 6, 2009 9:45:04 PM

Thanks for the response. I guess I should clarify what "Overclocking: NO" means though. I have Zero intent to overclock. I don't want to do it. It does stress the motherboard more and I want this computer to last a while. I know it's not a lot of gain for the 950, but it is some gain that should last me a little longer.
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December 6, 2009 10:19:05 PM

Wolf03 said:
Thanks for the response. I guess I should clarify what "Overclocking: NO" means though. I have Zero intent to overclock. I don't want to do it. It does stress the motherboard more and I want this computer to last a while. I know it's not a lot of gain for the 950, but it is some gain that should last me a little longer.


I still just don't see the point of spending twice as much ($570/$290 = 196%) for 15% more performance (3.06/2.66 = 115%). That just makes no sense.

If you keep your voltage within the maximum "safe" limits, there is almost no risk of hurting anything. The stock voltage is 1.2v, and the maximum safe limit is 1.375v. You should be able to hit a stable 3 GHz while staying under this mark. The risk for damage and component degradation comes into play when you exceed that safe limit. People who are going for 4+ GHz are going to exceed those limits, but you won't need to. Keep in mind, too, that the i7 is designed for enthusiasts, it is designed to be overclocked. Read this guide: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/253365-29-core-overclocking-guide

How about this: buy the i7-920 and keep everything stock for now. In 2-3 years (or whenever it starts bogging down), overclock it within the safe voltage limits. That's the best of both worlds I think. Saves you $280 now, keeps your components safe, and still gives you performance down the pipe when you really need it.
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