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Mid- to High-End Gaming PC, please review! (purchasing today!!!)

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December 8, 2009 8:16:46 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: TODAY!!! (the 9th)

BUDGET RANGE: $1500-$2500

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Internet, Music Playing (iTunes)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Headphones, Network Interface Card

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com or amazon.com (depending on price and availability)

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, for CPU only.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I really want this to be a relatively low-cost, extremely functional machine.


IMPORTANT! WHEN REVIEWING THE PARTS BELOW, REMEMBER THAT MY NUMBER ONE CONCERN IS COMPATIBILITY! If the parts below are not compatible IN ANY WAY, please tell me that FIRST, then recommend a part that would be compatible!

Hypothetical Example: My power supply does not have enough wattage to handle of the parts. Please tell me I need a different power supply, not that I should get an Nvidia graphics card!


PARTS LIST (please review!):

Case: Cooler Master HAF 932
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply: Corsair 850W PSU (Modular)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: Asus P6T
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor: Intel Core i7 920
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Heatsink: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: Corsair 6GB DDR3-1333 TR3X6G1333C9
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive: Western Digital Velociraptor 300GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics Card: XFX ATI Radeon HD 5970
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Is XFX the best vendor? I am completely open to vendor recommendations on this one, as I haven't bought an ATI card in 4 years.

Sound Card: Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Operating System: Windows 7 x64 Home Premium Full
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I AM OPEN TO ALL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR AN OPTICAL DRIVE, THAT IS THE ONLY COMPONENT I HAVE NOT PICKED!


Please discuss, tell me what needs improvement, I am open to all suggestions!
Thanks in advance.

More about : mid high end gaming review purchasing today

December 8, 2009 8:22:43 PM

That sound card is superfluous unless you have a top-notch system you want to hook into it.
December 8, 2009 9:02:30 PM

Velociraptors are overpriced and outdated. New 500GB platter drives like the Samsung F3 (500GB or 1TB) and Caviar Black 2TB beat it in performance for much cheaper. SSDs are the new high end boot drive choice, just be sure you research and get a good model (there are not many) if you go that route.

The HAF 922 is only slightly smaller than the 932 but significantly cheaper.
Related resources
December 8, 2009 9:15:51 PM

Thanks for your replies.

@nofun

I don't think I understand, can you explain?

@dndhatcher

Thanks for the recommendation, but Velociraptors are faster than any other non-SSD drive by a margin that to me is worth the cost.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2009/10/06/sam...

As you can see by the graphs, the Velociraptor still beats out all other drives, even with a smaller cache.

I don't really use a lot of space, so I would rather have an extremely fast, but small drive, than a slightly-slower, bigger drive.

As to the case, I would gladly get the 922, but I don't know if it will fit a 5970. Will it fit a 5970 with no case modifications required?

Thank you for taking the time to review my parts list.
December 8, 2009 9:20:27 PM

For gaming, internet, and itunes, and using only a single graphics card, a i920 / X58 system does not make sense. A i750 / P55 system will be about $200 less (CPU + MB + RAM) than the i920 computer, and the i750 computer will actually outperform the i920 system:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=364...

The other big advantage of the i750 / P55 computer is that it uses considerably less power than the i920 / X58 computer:
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3649&p=6
This means that you can use a Corsair 550VX or 650HX power supply, and even save a few more dollars.

These changes are compatible with your statement: "I really want this to be a relatively low-cost, extremely functional machine." However, if you have your heart set on a i920 / X58 computer, go for it.

Good luck with your build!
December 8, 2009 9:27:14 PM

Duckmeister said:

@dndhatcher

Thanks for the recommendation, but Velociraptors are faster than any other non-SSD drive by a margin that to me is worth the cost.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2009/10/06/sam...

As you can see by the graphs, the Velociraptor still beats out all other drives, even with a smaller cache.
Your info is outdated. That review is old and is comparing with older slower Samsung F1s and F2s. The Samsung F3s and Caviar Black 2TBs are faster than Velociraptors at a fraction of the price.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/2tb-hdd-7200,2430-7...
December 8, 2009 9:32:06 PM

Good point by dpaul8. The only thing that should keep you on the x58 platform is if you are considering upgrading to a 6-core or what have you in the future. And even then, the performance difference won't matter as much if the most intensive applications you have are games, as opposed to those that need the extra cores.

"I really want this to be a relatively low-cost, extremely functional machine." also supports dndhatcher's suggestion. You are absolutely right to justify the 'raptors speed; but comparatively, you would save much more for, as the graphs also show, a minuscule decrease in performance (irregardless of space). Personally, I would pick up an f3 now and save for an SSD or something in months to come :D .

EDIT: thanks hatcher, I haven't seen/probably missed this article.
December 8, 2009 9:40:54 PM

My answer is primarily on the $$$ part - If you are willing to spend $2,500, you can put in 128GB Corsair SSD, actually 2 of them in RAID to increase speed substantially (Those Raptors are nowhere near it) and you can also put 12GBs of DDR3 for the bragging rights...





December 8, 2009 9:49:14 PM

Thanks for your replies.

@dpaul8

Thanks for the great recommendation, but what I'm mostly looking at in an x58 system is being able to overclock past anything the LGA1156 socket has to offer. You are right, the 750 will outperform the stock 920, but the 920 easily passes it when I overclock to 950 speeds. Also, I'd still need at least a 750w PSU, mostly because of the power-hungry 5970.

@dndhatcher

Wow, I've never seen those charts before. I am definitely considering get a 1TB Caviar Black, then. Thanks!

@davidstone

I'm not so much willing to spend $2,500, but I'm just saying that I will if I'm forced too.
December 8, 2009 10:00:28 PM

Duckmeister said:

@dpaul8

Thanks for the great recommendation, but what I'm mostly looking at in an x58 system is being able to overclock past anything the LGA1156 socket has to offer. You are right, the 750 will outperform the stock 920, but the 920 easily passes it when I overclock to 950 speeds. Also, I'd still need at least a 750w PSU, mostly because of the power-hungry 5970.


You obviously have your heart set on a i920, which is fine. However, for others reading this thread, the LGA 1156 socket overclocks just as well as the X58 system. In fact, in the following article a i860 / P55 system and a i920 / X58 system are both overclocked on air to 4.2 GHz, and the P55 system outperforms the X58 system:
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3649&p=6
December 8, 2009 10:08:46 PM

Duckmeister said:
@dndhatcher

Wow, I've never seen those charts before. I am definitely considering get a 1TB Caviar Black, then. Thanks!
NOOoo! :non: 

Right now WDs only 500GB platter drives are the 2TB models in that article. The Caviar Black 320, 640 and 1TB use 320GB (or 333GB) platters and are not as fast.

Samsung has the F3 500GB and 1TB which are both fast 500GB drives. Seagate has the 7200.12 500GB which only sometimes beats the velociraptor.
December 8, 2009 10:18:50 PM

@dpaul8

Well, now you are switching things up.

Yes, an OC 860 will outperform an OC 920 (very slightly, I add), but a 750 (the one you mentioned earlier) will never reach the performance offered by an OC 920. You can't replace one with the other and then call them the same thing.

I don't mean to sound argumentative, though, just saying that it's not good to equivocate like that.

@dndhatcher

Oh, I did not know that. I guess I'll have to spend the extra money on the Caviar Black, then.
December 8, 2009 10:20:04 PM

dpaul8 said:
You obviously have your heart set on a i920, which is fine. However, for others reading this thread, the LGA 1156 socket overclocks just as well as the X58 system. In fact, in the following article a i860 / P55 system and a i920 / X58 system are both overclocked on air to 4.2 GHz, and the P55 system outperforms the X58 system:
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3649&p=6

If you look carefully, the i7 920 beats the i7 860 in all of the crossfire configurations and it was back & forth in the single GPU tests. Crossfire is undoubtedly because of the few percent loss the 1156 gets going 8x in crossfire instead of 16x.
December 8, 2009 10:53:30 PM

Duckmeister said:
@dpaul8
Yes, an OC 860 will outperform an OC 920 (very slightly, I add), but a 750 (the one you mentioned earlier) will never reach the performance offered by an OC 920. You can't replace one with the other and then call them the same thing.


Both the i920 and the i750 are great overclockers, and depending on the hardware and the skill of the overclocker, one system could easily outperform the other and visa versa. I suspect that if you overclocked both to the same speed, the difference in performance would be miniscule, and I am not sure which would be ahead.

December 8, 2009 11:09:44 PM

dndhatcher said:
If you look carefully, the i7 920 beats the i7 860 in all of the crossfire configurations and it was back & forth in the single GPU tests. Crossfire is undoubtedly because of the few percent loss the 1156 gets going 8x in crossfire instead of 16x.


Obviously, you did not look carefully because the i920 does not beat the i860 in all crossfire configurations:
http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3649&p=6
On the page I linked above for the Batman Arkham Asylum game, the i860 tied the i920 when overclocked to 4.2 GHz in crossfire, and then beat the i920 in crossfire at stock speeds.

However, I should have stated that the i860 and the i920 both overclock equally well, and perform essentially the same for gaming.
December 8, 2009 11:39:29 PM

Okay, dpaul, you've got to stop the LGA1156 fanboyism :D  Intel gets the money all the same, okay?


Important question:

Does anybody have a recommendation for a good optical drive that will read and write CDs, and read DVDs? Both, preferably at high speeds?

Also, what is the best, most reliable vendor for the 5970? I'm just using XFX as a stand-in, because of their lifetime warranty.
December 9, 2009 2:12:02 AM

Purchasing TODAY!

Need a recommendation for an optical drive please!

Also, what is the best vendor to get the 5970 from?
December 9, 2009 2:28:36 PM

xfx best warranty

on optical drives i've never had a problem with LG and pioneer
December 9, 2009 3:08:30 PM

Why on earth are you getting a velociraptor and not a X-25M G2 for $50 more?

I've got an i7 920 system w/ a 500gb F3 boot drive and a i5 system with a X-25m. I stopped using the i7 and gave it to my sister cuz I can't stand how slow the damn system is. Spec wise it SHOULD be faster, but after getting used to a SSD, the i7 system just feels so damn slow I think there's a problem everytime I use it.

Heck, drop the sound card and get a SSD. On board sound is at a point where unless you're using the PC for professional audio work, the difference is unnoticeable to most people.

As for optical drive, um, just pick up a $30 one off newgg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Honestly, these days, after you install drivers and OS, it's not like you actually use the drive anymore...
heck my build last month I didn't even bother with an optical drive, bootable USB key and DL and copy drivers onto the key to install.

Also a Corsair 750 works fine, don't need the 850 for a 5970.
And yes, XFX is the only ATI vendor with a lifetime warranty.
December 9, 2009 4:45:15 PM

Any $30 Sony/Samsung/LG SATA DVD burner (that doesnt have horrible reviews) will be fine.
December 9, 2009 11:33:58 PM

Duckmeister said:
Thanks for your replies.

@nofun

I don't think I understand, can you explain?


What I meant was that your motherboard's built-in audio setup should be plenty for most users. There's two exceptions:

1) If you're an audiophile.

2) You have a high-end home audio system that you want to hook this computer up to.


Otherwise, a separate audio card is not necessary. If you're just hooking into a standard 2.0 setup, your motherboard's outputs will be fine.
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