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$1000 -1,500 Gaming/Design PC

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December 23, 2009 3:09:20 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: No deadline....
BUDGET RANGE: $1000 - $1,500

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, 3D Design

PARTS NOT REQUIRED:
Speakers, Sound Card, Hard Drive, Monitor, DVD Drive, Keyboard and Mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: America

PARTS PREFERENCES: Radeon 5870 and a case that fits it. AMD quad core that will handle 5870 bandwidth.

OVERCLOCKING: never
CROSSFIRE: never (by the time I upgrade again I will just get a newer card for the newer technology on it. It makes more sense for what I do. Level design)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 (I have 2x24" lcds)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Needs at least 2 pci slots, 8gigs of RAM, 4+ sata ports, quad core

I already have 8g DDR2 800. I would use that, but I don't know if I should get faster RAM so I don't get bottlenecked?


EDIT: Fixed typos and random errors.

More about : 1000 500 gaming design

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December 23, 2009 3:34:46 AM

Well, if you're not sure whether or not you'll crossfire in the future and your first card is a 5970, I think that puts you in the i7 9xx series of processors just for the graphics card bandwidth. Having your PCIe slots' bandwidth cut in half when you get another down the road will be no fun.

This case will definitely fit the 5970. I have it, I've measured. I currently have a 4870X2 installed and there's plenty of clearance beyond the edge of that.

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

Also, very well ventilated, setup well for all the cooling (fans or liquid) that you could conceive. Will fit tall CPU coolers as well.

CPU: Intel Core i7 920
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
-288

If you live near a microcenter, you can get this processor for $200

Provides you with two PCIe 2.0 x16 lanes to handle the speed of your 5970s. Hyper threading gives you the ability to process 8 software threads on 4 physical cores. Much overclocking headroom with air cooling.

CPU Cooler:
The Cooler Master Hyper 212 is usually recommended because it's performance is top-notch and it's relatively inexpensive

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

sold out right now.

For $44, you can get the Cooler Master V8, which I'm using and have been pleased with.

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

Motherboard: Asus P6T SE LGA 1366
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
-$185

RAM: G.Skill PI Series 6 GB (3 x 2 GB). Haven't seen these sticks before. They run at 7-8-7-24 with only 1.5 volts, so you should be able to get pretty tight timings out of them if you up the voltage to the i7's stated limit of 1.65 volts.

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

-$165

Disc Drive: Pioneer DVD drive

Power Supply: I'm thinking right now you may not need this much power, but when you have your second card, you might want the extra juice. This 950 Watt Corsair should be able to handle future upgrades should you decide to add another 5970 and a blu-ray drive or whatever in the future.

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

-$160


Total: about $1,088

Then add the Radeon 5970 for $650 (due to supply issues, it's about $50 over priced right now)

Then you've got $1,738

This fits your budget, but others may spot combos that I overlooked or may have better suggestions for RAM and cases. I only suggest the Storm Sniper because I use it and personally know it will fit the 5970 from actually measureing the clearance off of my 4870X2.
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December 23, 2009 3:57:16 AM

To get under or at your budget, consider selling the 8 GB of DDR2 at a later date. DDR2 prices are on the rise, you might be able to get a pretty penny out of those sticks.
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December 23, 2009 4:15:05 AM

mortonww said:
To get under or at your budget, consider selling the 8 GB of DDR2 at a later date. DDR2 prices are on the rise, you might be able to get a pretty penny out of those sticks.


Thank you so much mortonww.

I actually made a few mistakes on my post... Stupid iPod posting!!. I put a old 7950 GT in my PC for now just so I could use it for part searching. I meant to put 5870 not 5970. So that's minus ~$200. Also, I have a DVD-RW Dual Layer drive. I don't need one. So that's minus ~ $160

That makes your total $1,378.

I will probably not go to crossfire ever. So I changed that. By the time I upgraded (2 years), it would just be worth it to get a new generation card for what I do. So add that to only using a 5870 do I really need a 950 watt PSU? I do use a ton of USB devices, 3 HDDs and a DVD drive. However, I wouldn't imagine that would use much more power.

Is a Core i7 @ 2.6 better than the new AMDs at 3.4? Would the new AMDs handle the 5870 bandwidth? I couldn't imagine them not being able to. (I currently have a Core2 Quad @ 2.4 and I know it won't) I know that AMDs don't support DDR3's triple channel yet. However, what I have read shows very little improvement over DDR2. I NEED 8 gigs. Some of the files I work on require that much RAM.

Finally, even though I am contemplating going with AMD and that would require a different board. Wouldn't the size of the newer cards negate the 2 PCI slots on that board. I mean, I have seen the cards and it looks like it would cover at least one of them up lol.


I would imagine prices go up before Christmas. Am I correct in assuming that and will they go down shortly after?
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December 23, 2009 4:36:06 AM

Oh. Yeah, a balanced 5970 build under 1500 was a little bit of a challenge.

Here's a comparison of an AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE clocked at 3.4 GHz versus a core i7 920 clocked at 2.66 GHz. The i7 comes out the victor in almost all of the benchmarks (note, they switch from being "higher is better" to "lower is better" some times). And that's with a 700 MHz clock speed disadvantage.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=102&p2=47

Here's an article on this site that discusses a balanced graphics card/cpu setup:

with intel CPUs
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-balanced-plat...

with AMD CPUs
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/balanced-gaming-pc,...

Cards as fast as the 4870X2 (like the 5870) and the GTX 295 seem to be limited by the top-of-the-line AMD processor when compared to the i7 920's performance in the same game.

If you currently have a core 2 quad, moving to an Phenom II x4 won't really give you much benefit at all.

If you need 8 GBs, you should consider an i7-860 with 8 GB of DDR3. If you use 8 GB of DDR3 in an X58 setup, you'll be wasting bandwidth. I would definitely consider selling your 8 GBs of DDR2 and using DDR3 in the new build, though.
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December 23, 2009 5:34:19 AM

Your right. There is a difference. I could get by with 6gb DDR3 I think. I will look into the i7s and their memory. I remember I got all those dimms for $80 bucks new back about a year ago... your right, prices have risen...

I could probably also sell my old PSU, and maybe even my processor. I honestly never sell my used stuff, but why not. Maybe even sell my 8800 GTS G92 when I get it replaced via warranty.

I am going to select you as best answer. You mind if I PM you at a later time when I look more into some of the stuff if I need more advice?

One question I have right away is why i7-860 is the same price as the i7-920 when it outperforms it... Maybe just newegg prices I guess.
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December 23, 2009 5:30:32 PM

Both chips have their strong points and the performance is quite comparable. The 920 won't start to pull away from the 860 until you bring multi-GPU solutions into the mix. Otherwise, the benchmarks I have seen rate them fairly equally for single GPU setups.

The actual difference between the chips is that the 860 trades triple channel memory for lower power consumption and an integrated PCI-e 16x lane.

The other thing to take into account is that while the chips are the same price, the parts surrounding them are not. P55 motherboards are generally a bit cheaper than the x58 ones.




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December 24, 2009 10:13:57 AM

Not sure if anyone is still checking this... This is the build I have setup based on input. At the end I have a few questions:

G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8TU-6GBPI - Retail

ASUS EAH5870/2DIS/1GD5/A Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported ... - Retail

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

CORSAIR TX Series CMPSU-950TX 950W ATX12V v2.3/EPS12V v2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail

Will this setup be able to overclock the i7-920? I don't really want to massive overclock, but maybe something like 3.2-3.5ghz.

Also, I have been using power calculators, and all of them, besides eXtreme Power Supply Calculator seems to say that if I eventually go to Crossfire HD 5870s 950 watt will be bare minimum. Keep in mind that I use 3xSATA drives, 2x PCI cards (would goto 1 if I went to crossfire... because the cards are so big they would cover up the other PCI slots), and 8xUSB devices. I also probably would not upgrade to SLI for another 1-1.5 years and this PCs usage is basically 90%+ load 4-6 hours a day and 50%+ load another 6-8 hours a day. So I am wondering... will 950 be enough in 1.5 years if I goto crossfire? If not, should I just go with a 850 for now, and when I upgrade get a 1100 watt? I only ask this because I have no idea how accurate those calculators are. It seems most people use way less than they suggest.
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December 24, 2009 1:51:01 PM

I assume you mean 5970s? 5890s don't exist, at least not yet.

A single 5970 system seems to draw around 400W at peak. Crossfire would probably be right around 600W. You should be fine running on an 800-850W PSU for the extra headroom.

If you mean crossfire 5870s, the draw will be about 450W in an average system. Getting approximately a 650W PSU should be more than enough.

Of course, you also have to make sure these PSU's have the rails needed for 4 PCI-e connectors.
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December 24, 2009 8:02:38 PM

The 5970 uses 300 watts at full load and stock speed, right? What about the 5870? is it like 200 or 150 Watts? Two of those would probably be more power consumption than a single 5970 so maybe 400 Watts? Plus 130 Watt CPU at full load? Then a couple DVD drives, a few fans and whatever pci cards you have. I think you'd be safe with a 950TX. The Corsair HX 1000 is $60 more. Maybe go for that.

Someone else can probably give a better recommendation, but to be safe, I'd say you are right to buy a Corsair 950 TX or the HX 1000 for crossfired 5870s.
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December 25, 2009 4:27:46 AM

Thanks both of you. Yes, I meant the 5870s. Typos happen when you get no sleep for days... Remember when you were young and the holidays were relaxing and exciting? I miss those days lol.

Another question. How do people know how much wattage drain their PC is having? Special equipment? You see tests on anandtech that tell you how much the GPUs are drawing while they are playing a game?



EDIT:

For search and database purposes. I have continued my PSU search and discussion in the PSU section of the forums here: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/272429-28-5870-crossfire-suggestions
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