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New build advice&opinions

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December 16, 2009 10:49:24 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: end of Jan, beginning of Feb
BUDGET RANGE: as cheap as possible :) 

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: programming, gaming, internet, movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: not important
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: California, USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU, ATI GPU

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: don't upgrade very often, my current PC is about 6 years old, therefore this one should last awhile. I'm planning a trip to USA in the above mentioned period and purchasing some of the components there as prices are lower. Will there be any discounts then? As you can see I don't plan on buying the cheapest stuff but price is an issue :) 

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CPU: Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO: GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD3R LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: XFX HD-585A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5850 (Cypress Pro) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Couple of questions though...
1) I've also been looking at this CPU: Intel Xeon X3440 Lynnfield 2.53GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Server Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Is 40$ extra worth it for what I will be using it for? Also does that CPU need a special mobo or is the above one ok?
2) Should I get lower frequency RAM (1333) or stick with 1600MHz one?
3) Should I get a mobo that supports 2x@8 PCI slot? Like:
GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD4 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Not sure about that micro ATX one, is there any difference? Don't plan on Crossfiring now, but who knows :) 
4) Do I need a different cooler or is the stock one OK? Like this: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All comments and suggestions are welcome :) 

More about : build advice opinions

December 16, 2009 11:26:26 AM

First, don't get a P55 motherboard. They have had some problems when extremely overclocking the CPU, but why take the chance? I suggest the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD4P. This is usually $185 in the US, but will be good for future proofing, as it has USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s ports.

Second, that RAM is good, but if you want something a little cheaper that doesn't have a noticeable effect on performance, here's a good set that's $26 cheaper: G.Skill Eco 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7

Third, the WD are way behind the times. The best HDD right now is the Samsung Spinpoint F3. It's faster, quieter and cheaper ($55). A good substitute if its out of stock (which it often is because its so good) is the Seagate 7200.12.

On to your questions...

1.) I'd stick with a desktop processer. The i5 is the best CPU for gaming, and shouldn't be overlooked for anything.

2.) You should go for lower speed RAM, if you can get tighter timings. There won't be a noticeable difference even if you don't. The sticks above are good, won't have a noticeable decrease in performance, and use less voltage os they save you a little on your power bill.

3.) Two PCIe slots only really matter if you're planning on Crossfiring later. Crossfiring with a second card is an easy and usually cheaper way to enhance your computer. The options are typically 4x, 8x and 16x on the second slot. 4x should be avoided. There isn't a noticeable difference between 8x and 16x, so don't pay more for 16x.

As for microATX vs. ATX, I prefer to stay away from mATX for the greater ability to expand.

4.) You don't really need a different cooler UNLESS you overclock. That said, the Intel stock cooler (from what I've heard) is really loud. I'd recommend picking a cooler up if you can. That is a good cooler.
December 16, 2009 11:28:15 AM

The UD3R is crap, better off with the UD4P. The micro version just tends to lose a few features over an ATX. You may not even need the features on the ATX so I would look at the micro carefully since its a whole lot cheaper.

The CM 212 is a good investment. Cools very well for the price. And if you plan on Crossfire you will need to bump up to a 650W 80 Plus power supply at least.
Related resources
December 16, 2009 12:46:02 PM

@Mag
I've heard about those issues but everyone says that if you overclock reasonably there shouldn't be any problems... but isn't that also a P55 motherboard using Foxcon sockets? I thought that A just stands for extra features that you mentioned. Any other difference compared to the "old" UD4P? I seem to remember something about if you use some of those features you loose somewhere else? Dunno if those are worth extra dollar...
But still thinking about the UD4P because it offers 1x@16 or 2x@8 which UD3R doesn't.

Don't know that much about the impacts of RAM frequency on performance but if it's like you said thanks for saving me 26 bucks ;) 

@Bohley
I've been thinking about a stronger PSU but since I'll probably be OK with this config for a couple of years decided to go with the mentioned one. By then it'll probably be a stronger single GPU or another 5850 + PSU, the prices will probably be equivalent :) 

Thanks for the suggestions guys, keep it coming ;) 
Should I expect lower prices around Christmas or in January?
December 16, 2009 12:56:32 PM

P55 Gigabytes OC fine. Its the lower budget names and boards that blew up.

I wouldn't hold my breath on anything dropping for 1156 as its brand new still. ATi 5000 series cards may go down in price to where they were originally when nVidia releases their new cards 2010.
December 16, 2009 1:09:06 PM

The "A" designates the new features and the different sockets. It's similiar to the Antec 900 vs. 902...

A resonable overclock doesn't have much of an issue, but I'd be nervous if there was a major problem with the board I was using.

As for losing the features, if you USB 3.0, it will shut off the second PCIe slot.

Agree with Bohley on the price changes. The 1156 won't drop because the only changes coming for the socket are lower priced i3s, which won't affect the i5. There might be lower priced boards, but I wouldn't count on it.

ATI cards will definitely drop in price when nVidia's cards come out and/or production increases. However, no one is sure when that's going to happen...
December 17, 2009 6:26:43 AM

Concerning the loss of some features on P55A motherboards I found this on another forum:

1. either USB3.0 or SATA3.0 can run at full speed but not both, the other device will run at 250MB/s reduced speeds
2. when either USB3.0 or SATA3.0 is used PCI-E 1st slot bandwidth reduced from x16 to x8
2. SLI/CF will reduce both USB3.0 and SATA3.0 speeds to 250MB/s

So I'm currently leaning towards the ordinary P55-UD4P, will give it some more thought...

Hope that ATI video cards at least drop to their release prices, that would save me about 40 dollars?

Just one more question about the graphics card. I've also been looking at the 5770 model but since it has a 128-bit bus I'm thinking the 5850 is more future proof? There is a tangible difference in price :( 

Thanks for all the advice guys, guess I'll go stalk the online retailers ;) 
December 17, 2009 8:21:06 AM

I have a 5770, its great. Currently it does whatever I need on whatever setting. My monitor does not have enthusiast resolutions so I can game on high settings and have no problems with frame rates. Usually on high settings I get anywhere from 30-40 FPS average with no AA. Sometimes, when there is a lot going on it will dip to ~25FPS but its very brief and still playable.

The 128-bit bus is an improvement over the 4870's 256-bit bus. They are practically the same card with the 5770 having more features and lower demands.

If you can afford the 5850 by all means spend the extra on a superior card!
December 17, 2009 8:59:07 AM

Just to add a little fyi :) . The Foxconn socket scare, as you know, happened when early p55 motherboards with foxconn sockets were EXTREMELY overclocked. The blown boards that BohleyK is referring to is a different problem all together, where as previously stated, some of the lower end mobos had capacitors and power phases blown out due to voltage increases. UD4P falls into neither category, so its all good.

Also a note about your current RAM selection. Worked with them last week. Forgot the actual mobo I used, but I got the RAM running stable at 7-7-7-24 with less than 1.6v. Needless to say, it's overclocked and at 1.65 and is memtest stable. So if you're planning on overclocking your RAM, the extra money might be a good investment. If not, definitely change to the recommended ECOs.
December 18, 2009 12:45:23 PM

Thx for the info vznoobie... just to clarify the part on the RAM, you used less than 1.6V and got the same timings as with 1.65V?
I'll think about it some more but that ECO variant does look attractive :) 

Also think I'll stick with the 5850...

New question though, been looking at the motherboard specs some more and found this:
Memory Standard DDR3 2200/1333/1066/800

Does this mean I can't use the 1600MHz RAM on it?

EDIT:
Found these ASUS motherboards:

ASUS P7P55D PRO LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The difference is the same as with the Gigabyte's P55 and P55A? Any thoughts on ASUS motherboards? They support the 1600MHz RAM as well as two @x8 lanes...
December 18, 2009 1:20:32 PM

ASUS produces quaility boards as well. I think the main difference between the two is the USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s. The P55D also has an additional PCIe x1 slot and an eSATA port on the back.

As for the RAM speed, you can use the 1600 mhz sticks, but they will be downclocked to 1333 mhz. I would recommend sticking with the 1333 sticks because they're cheaper, have better timings, and won't have any noticeable negative effect on performance. In addition, they will be able to be used in the majority of boards.
December 21, 2009 7:18:01 AM

Great, guess I'll go with the Asus P7P55D Pro since the price is pretty much the same as Gigabyte P55 UD4P but it adds 1600Mhz support. Just some future proofing. Should I opt for the:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

since it provides USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s? It's 20$ more expensive but when extra features are used it cripples the PCI lanes...
!