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Need input on Building Good Gaming System...HTPC

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December 11, 2009 8:31:12 AM

[NOTE: I apologize that this post does not follow the standardized "How To Ask For Help" template, however if allowed to remain active, I will edit it to include required information and template tomorrow. Sorry but I need to get some sleep. Again, I apologize. Thank you for the opportunity for help.]

Hello all.. this is the first time I have ever been on a forum to ask about systems that I have built... but I want a kick ass system for the money and want to make sure that all is compatible and great components. I live paycheck to paycheck and haven't got a lot of free money, so it might take awhile to get everything together.

So this is the list of what I was looking at:

Case: AZZA Solano 1000 - I love this case (Bought July)

Motherboad: ASUS M4A78T=E AM3 (Bought August)

RAM: G.SKILL DDR3-1333 2x2GB (Bought September)

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 (Not Yet Purchased)

PSU: Seasonic S12D 850W (Not Yet Purchased)- I like the 5yr Warranty on this. I considered Consair; but, it had some bad reviews on Newegg. I had a bad psu fry my first system so I am very cautious... suggestions or comments?

GPU: EVGA 01G-P3-1158-TR GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit DDR3 (Not Yet Purchased)

I have components in my current machine I am planning to use.

HDD: Seagate ST3500320AS 500GB SATA
Seagate ST3120814A 120GB IDE

Later planning on getting a SSD, once the bugs are worked out and prices go down.

Going to run Windows 7 Pro 64-bit on it and use in for gaming (Second Life) Machina/Video and Audio Editing and multimedia online.

Any input would be helpful.. thanks ahead of time.. and I apologize if I left out important info.. I wrote this rather late.. but will check back tomorrow.
December 11, 2009 9:05:18 AM

The PII X4 955 is a solid CPU. Its a top performer on AMD and can do everything without any hiccups. I highly suggest it over any other AMD processor.

You will never need 850W of power for that system. Corsair is a top of the line power supply manufacturer. Many people that post reviews on Newegg don't know what they are talking about because its either their first build or they haven't done enough research. I recommend you getting a 750W power supply since you motherboard is Crossfire ready and you may want to use a last generation card if you are getting to close to exceeding your budget. ATi's 4800 and nVidia's 200 series cards use much more power than the 5000 series and 300 series cards. You will be safe with 750W with Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic power supplies.

You do not want to buy a nVidia card for this motherboard. You have an ATi graphics processor on your motherboard that you could Crossfire with a lower end ATi 4770 or lower. Or you could buy a mid level or higher end graphics card and buy another of the same later and Crossfire those. I suggest the 5770 if you can afford it or the 4870 since this is most likely the card in your price range. Both the 5770 and 4870 are great cards and will pump out all the frame rates and eye candy you need while staying under enthusiast expectations.

There is also no real reason to buy a nVidia card at this moment until nVidia releases their new line up of cards dubbed Fermi. This is mostly due to the higher price of nVidia cards over ATi and the simple fact that ATi has the fastest cards out at the moment. This may change next year when nVidia launches Fermi.

I use the same SATA HDD. Its fast and at a very good price, keep it. Unfortunatly, it will be a long time before SSD's become affordable.

Windows 7 Pro is geared towards XP addicts. If you don't use any XP software or hardware anymore, W7 Home Premium is plenty.



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December 11, 2009 10:22:11 AM

Hmm so at what resolution is gaming to take place on? You using an LCD or LCD TV as primary display...or switching between the 2 perhaps?
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December 11, 2009 5:30:15 PM

I concur with Bohley's comments, specifically about the PSU; nothing wrong with Corsair whatsoever and 750W will do you unless you get a much higher end GPU which you would want to crossfire, which doesnt seem like would be within your budget.

The 5770 offers better performance than the 250 and with the advent of DX11 games the disparity will grow.
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December 11, 2009 6:33:33 PM

Actually if you want a SSD Kingston is making a 40gb one using Intel's X25-M controller (the best one out there atm) for only $84.99 after MIR.

http://www.anandtech.com/storage/showdoc.aspx?i=3667&p=...

I think that price is totally reasonable, and 40gb is enough for OS and apps.


Also drop the 850 PSU and get a Corsair 550TX (which also has a 5 yr warranty)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$69.99 after MIR, $50 savings right there.

Use said savings and get a 5770 $164.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Grab Win 7 Pro off win741.com for $30
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December 11, 2009 7:22:37 PM

banthracis said:
40gb is enough for OS and apps.

What do you call apps? Good MMOs take 3-10GB each. 40GB is barely enough for OS and my one favorite game. :kaola: 
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December 11, 2009 7:26:14 PM

Haha, I wasn't counting games in app =P

I meant it's enough for the OS and stuff like Office, PS, Firefox, Zip programs, media players, etc.

Those are the big things that benefit from a SSD.

Games do too, but you'll need to start shelling out cash if you wanna put all of em on a SSD^^
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December 12, 2009 6:40:27 AM

batuchka said:
Hmm so at what resolution is gaming to take place on? You using an LCD or LCD TV as primary display...or switching between the 2 perhaps?


I have a 17" Dell 1704LP now (LCD).. hey .. it was free.. but will upgrade to at least a 22" LCD TV/Monitor with HDMI later. Resolution .. no Idea right now... as high as possible... lol
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December 12, 2009 6:57:41 AM

BohleyK said:
The PII X4 955 is a solid CPU. Its a top performer on AMD and can do everything without any hiccups. I highly suggest it over any other AMD processor.

You will never need 850W of power for that system. Corsair is a top of the line power supply manufacturer. Many people that post reviews on Newegg don't know what they are talking about because its either their first build or they haven't done enough research. I recommend you getting a 750W power supply since you motherboard is Crossfire ready and you may want to use a last generation card if you are getting to close to exceeding your budget. ATi's 4800 and nVidia's 200 series cards use much more power than the 5000 series and 300 series cards. You will be safe with 750W with Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic power supplies.

You do not want to buy a nVidia card for this motherboard. You have an ATi graphics processor on your motherboard that you could Crossfire with a lower end ATi 4770 or lower. Or you could buy a mid level or higher end graphics card and buy another of the same later and Crossfire those. I suggest the 5770 if you can afford it or the 4870 since this is most likely the card in your price range. Both the 5770 and 4870 are great cards and will pump out all the frame rates and eye candy you need while staying under enthusiast expectations.

There is also no real reason to buy a nVidia card at this moment until nVidia releases their new line up of cards dubbed Fermi. This is mostly due to the higher price of nVidia cards over ATi and the simple fact that ATi has the fastest cards out at the moment. This may change next year when nVidia launches Fermi.

I use the same SATA HDD. Its fast and at a very good price, keep it. Unfortunatly, it will be a long time before SSD's become affordable.

Windows 7 Pro is geared towards XP addicts. If you don't use any XP software or hardware anymore, W7 Home Premium is plenty.


Thank you for the great input.. Truth be told I have not tried or looked into ATI for quite sometime... last one I used was crap.. so upon recommendation of other builders, reviews and techs I went with Nvidia- Geforce. I guess if I am an AMD guy, then it would be stupid not to trust them with the video card as well and see how they improved ATI since they bought it out-- like buying a Maxtor after Seagate bought them.. major difference..

As far as the PSU is concerned... I did the psu calculator on ASUS/AMD and with a Phenom II X4 and all the other things in the system, it recommended at least a 750W... and btw.. for got to mention that I have 2 dvdrw drives. With the PSU, I am wanting to get one that will last awhile. Perhaps through a couple of upgrades--hence going for the 850W. I was told by several techs and builders that SeaSonic is "Good" goods... in other words high quality components and structure... it is a two rail structure though... like I said before... I don't want one that is going to fry the cpu and more if it goes down. That last one even soldered itself to my mobo. and the reviews that I have read were from people that said that consair had died or were doa ... 4% of the feed back on almost every Consair.. but understandably .. there are always going to be those figues on just about anything worthwhile.

Thanks again for the feedback... and that goes to all that replied as well... looking at the 4870.. poss 5770.. will have to find a good company though.. looking for at least 1 gb.
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December 12, 2009 11:20:28 AM

Whoa no way a 955BE/GTS 250 needs anywhere near 750W @@ Hmm in view of your current display perhaps something like a 5750 would do fine the GTS 250 is actually a good recommendation too if u can nab ones at the $110 price point hehe
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December 12, 2009 12:25:00 PM

Power supply calculators always suggest more than what you need. I believe its because they don't want to get sued.

Honestly, you will be fine with 750W from Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic. Even with your super power draining second optic. If you get the 5770 you may even want to consider 650W.

If you are considering a Real liquid cooling setup you will want around 1000W. If that is what you mean by "upgrades" Other than that a 750W will do it all, no problems.

Almost forgot video card companies. The following are quality: Sapphire, XFX, HIS, EVGA, BFG.
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December 12, 2009 5:19:46 PM

BohleyK said:
Power supply calculators always suggest more than what you need. I believe its because they don't want to get sued.

Honestly, you will be fine with 750W from Corsair, Antec, and Seasonic. Even with your super power draining second optic. If you get the 5770 you may even want to consider 650W.

If you are considering a Real liquid cooling setup you will want around 1000W. If that is what you mean by "upgrades" Other than that a 750W will do it all, no problems.

Almost forgot video card companies. The following are quality: Sapphire, XFX, HIS, EVGA, BFG.


So.. noticed that Sapphire was your first choice.. is that list in order of quality or just a list.. lol. not looking into liquid cool at this time... not planning to overclock at this time.. just mean ... if I plan to upgrade to new mobo and better cpu/ram and such .. psu wouldn't have to be upgraded too.. looking into the poss of using that crossfire later though... maybe even with the 5770. .. but looking at the 4800 series... how is this one...

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

or

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 12, 2009 5:22:35 PM

oh ..not too concerned with heat in the system... the Salono 1000 has good cooling capabilities.. Might overclock later (after the warranty.. lol the mobo and the processor make it easy - Phos
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December 12, 2009 5:26:03 PM

No point getting a 4xxx series card atm with the 5xxx having DX11, eyefinity and 34nm process. Not to mention the 4xxx is being phased out anyway. You can't xfire two cards of different models. Well you can some, but the faster card will run at the slower cards speed, effectively making it pointless.

Sapphire is the cheapest for ATI and makes high quality parts. However, they are not based in the US so if you do need have issues RMA's take longer.

XFX on the other hand is US based with also high quality parts and lifetime warranty, but they have a much higher price premium on their parts.
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December 12, 2009 5:54:41 PM

banthracis said:
No point getting a 4xxx series card atm with the 5xxx having DX11, eyefinity and 34nm process. Not to mention the 4xxx is being phased out anyway. You can't xfire two cards of different models. Well you can some, but the faster card will run at the slower cards speed, effectively making it pointless.

Sapphire is the cheapest for ATI and makes high quality parts. However, they are not based in the US so if you do need have issues RMA's take longer.

XFX on the other hand is US based with also high quality parts and lifetime warranty, but they have a much higher price premium on their parts.


I had heard that EVGA was one of the best... I also there is a lot of them that are 128-bit.. I want 256-bit or more don't I?
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December 12, 2009 6:40:58 PM

phos4us said:
I had heard that EVGA was one of the best... I also there is a lot of them that are 128-bit.. I want 256-bit or more don't I?



EVGA doesn't make ATI cards. No one is really recommending Nvidia atm, because they are a generation behind ATI now and Nvidia refuses to lower their prices enough to match ATI price/performance ratio. No point getting an Nvidia card till Fermi comes out next year unless you're looking at the ~$100 price point.

No idea what your mean with your 128 bit vs 256 bit question. Important considerations for a GPU are Generation, Clock Speed, Memory Speed, Memory amount, temps, power usage and for some, OC potential.


Don't get any PSU with multiple rails. PSU companies did that because for several years they were too cheap to make quality rails that could handle high amperage. This results in you having to manually balance rail loads when connecting things and basically adds an extra level of frustration to building a PC.

When choosing a PSU don't look at the Wattage, that means nothing if the 12V rails do not have the Amperage necessary. This is why cheap ass no name companies can sell $30 800 watt PSU, they can't handle the 12v rail amperage needed to run modern components.

For this reason stick with Corsair or Antec. Seasonic or OCZ are also well known, but I personally haven't used any in the ~20 builds I've done.
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December 13, 2009 9:54:23 AM

banthracis said:
No idea what your mean with your 128 bit vs 256 bit question. (Memory Speed--126 bit and higher.. I would prefer one with 256 or higher.. I know that Geforce has 250's running at over 800 bit, but that is the rub here.. :D  .) Important considerations for a GPU are Generation, Clock Speed, Memory Speed, Memory amount, temps, power usage and for some, OC potential.

When choosing a PSU don't look at the Wattage, that means nothing if the 12V rails do not have the Amperage necessary. (Believe me.. I have done my homework on this one).


As far as two rails.. that Seasonic has two and it is 40A on both... I understand about the frustration.. and see the beneift of one.. but what happens if that one major rail blows... then it takes more with it... reviewers (pros) have argued that the benifit is in safety of the system... but here is the question.. if I say go with a Consair... does their warranty help in that situation?
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December 13, 2009 4:43:50 PM

OK, no one even half technically competent is gonna recommend multiple rails atm. if a PSU blows, the chances of only a single +12v rail blowing is about 1 in 1 trillion. You've got a better chance of winning the lottery 4 times in a row than having that happen. Even if only 1 +12v rail blew, the PSU is still a brick anyway. Dual rails, provides no benefit over single rails in terms of safety or reliability. The only thing they do is add annoyance to a build.

As a matter of fact, think of a multi rail PSU as a Raid 0. The more rails, the higher chance of 1 going wrong and screwing up your whole system. 4 rails you're 4x as likely to have a dead system.

I dunno where you're reading these reviews, but there hasn't been a single reviewer to recommend multiple rails since companies started making quality PSU's after the whole multi -rail fiasco phase 3-4 years ago. Check the dates on these reviews you're getting yoru advice from.

There is no good PSU made in the last few years with multiple rails. Any company using multiple rails is doing so because they are too cheap to use quality components.

Either way, as long as your PSU blows and its not because of you overloading the system or dropping it or pouring water on it, Corsair will honor the warranty.
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December 14, 2009 7:17:20 AM

Thanks for the input... ok... looking at a Corsair 850W... again might not need the full capacity now but might later.. here is the thing.. I have a case with great cable management.. but seems like a lot of people prefer modular.. never had one myself but thought I would ask opinions here...

Corsair 850TX - non-modular (451 reviews on Newegg)

Corsair 850HX - modular (only 69 review on Newegg)

seems like the majority rules... thinking that it might have to do with possibility of connectors breaking / mor to deal with .. and although there is a crap load of wires on the TX, in the long run it is less parts to screw up... What do you guys think?
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December 14, 2009 7:23:52 AM

oh and one other thing... so any of you know this... both PSU's say that they are ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 compatible but then say that they only have 1 x 8-Pin EPS 12V... from the pics it looks like that connector is made from two 4pins put together and therefore can be separated to plug into a 4-pin ATX12V connector for my processor on my Mobo...would any of you know if that is truly the case or would I be better off just contacting the company?
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December 14, 2009 12:08:49 PM

PSU plugs are are based on industry standard, so no matter what PSU you buy, it'll work with any standard ATX or micro ATX MOBO.


As to why you don't need anything near a 850TX, and in fact would be fine in your build with a 550TX, read:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/276008-31-need-good-s...

I posted all the relevant benchmarks and a full explanation already for someone else.
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December 14, 2009 5:22:37 PM

If your case has a bottom mounted PSU, then modular is usually less of an issue since the extra cables can just lie in the bottom of the case. If your PSU is top mounted then you need someplace to tie those cables out of your airflow paths making modular a substantial advantage.

I cant imagine there are any Newegg reviews of power supplies that mean anything. Look for professional reviews at sites like this one or jonnyguru.com .
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December 15, 2009 4:08:01 AM

There are several Tech sites and forums that support Seasonic as being a good brand, I found this one .. and as you see it is JonnyGuru recommended: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

only thing is that it is a modular PSU, when not needed.. in my case, which I guess is not a true HTPC (duh), gives me a choice of top or bottom mount... just ordered a CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W for my current system.. it is showing signs of faulting.. front usb doesn't work, and other things... I already had to rma to asus for mobo Southbridge going out.
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December 15, 2009 5:45:26 PM

That seasonic is not a good PSU. It is a top quality, premium PSU. There is no higher rating than 80+ gold and Seasonic is a top quality (maybe the best) manufacturer. It is also very expensive. A Corsair 550 would serve you very well at half the price.
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May 18, 2010 11:06:55 PM

I have a question - isn't CrossFire pointless on this mobo as it only supports x8 when both pci-e slots are used for such purpose? Just curious why anyone would do this instead of just getting one better primary GPU running at x16.
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May 18, 2010 11:51:43 PM

Thread necromancy is frowned upon...
Start a new one if you have a question.

And the short answer is x8 vs x16 makes essentially zero difference.
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