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New Core i7 Build - Need opinions

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December 24, 2009 5:57:07 PM

Hello everyone. This is my first post here, so bear with me...

I'm looking to build a new core i7 based system. As I am not a very experienced builder, I would like some opinions from more experienced folks to get a better selection of components for the budget.


Purchase date: within the next couple of weeks
Budget: $2000 - $2500 This is more of a guideline budget, I can go higher but I'd rather not... If I can save some cash, great!
Usage: Everything from working (Photoshop, 3d modeling) to gaming.
Parts not required: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, headset, case, psu
Overclocking: Yes. Basically I intend on getting watercooling in a few months time and OC my setup.
SLI/Crossfire: Yes. Planning on a first card now, then a second later.


List of Parts:

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Bloomfield
Mobo: Asus P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5
RAM: CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C7 G
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
SSD: Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2R5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC (x2 for raid 0 setup??)
PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W (already have it)
Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 (already have it)
Monitor Dell Ultrasharp U2410 24"

Other parts:

Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professiona
Optical Drive: ???
OS: Windows 7 Pro - Retail


The biggest questions I have lie mostly on the RAM and HDD/SDD selections, although anything in this build can be questioned and I'm more than happy to hear your thoughts on this.
- As far as RAM, the questions I have are whether the increased price for tighter timings is actually worth it or not, and what other (better) alternatives are there to Corsair. I have seen OCZ, Patriot and Gskill mentioned as alternatives but never had any memory from those brands. I really need a bit more guidance in selecting my RAM. So any ideas here would be great.
- For HDDs/SSDs: I'm not sure of my selections here. What I do know is that I do not have massive space requirements, so I think a 650gb or 750gb drive will more than suffice. As far as SSDs, I want to know whether 2x drives in raid 0 is worth the extra price. For example are 2x 80gb drives better than a single 160gb drive? Also, which brands are better? I know Intel are supposed to be on top, but what are the decent alternatives?
- Oh, any ideas for optical drives?

Please comment away. Could really use your input.
Also please, please PLEASE no fan boy critics in here. I am not a fan of fan boys :-) I have had both AMD and Intel systems, ATI and NVIDIA products. Please try and be objective in your opinions!

Thank you all in advance.

Update: Forgot to add the monitor!

More about : core build opinions

December 24, 2009 6:08:38 PM

Memory - These are cheaper and faster - get em b4 they disappear again:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HD - Get new generation 500 GB per platter drives. As for WD Blacks, only the 2 TB model has em...look at Seagate 7200.12's or Spinpoint F3's

RAID is good of waiting for PC to boot bothers you or if you have unusual database or large file loading .... almost imperceptible in gaming.

Optical Blue Ray Read - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Optical Blue Ray Write - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

personally, I am waiting till spring to invest in SSD's.
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December 24, 2009 6:17:12 PM

Why spring?
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December 24, 2009 6:37:30 PM

Expensive RAM makes sense only if you spend 90% of your time zipping files. Otherwise, it's a waste of money. Any major brand should be a good choice.
Two SSDs in RAID0 would be very fast and sure, 2x80Gb is faster than 1x160Gb. The point is that it's two damn expensive. Do you really need that performance? I mean, as Jack said, new generation HDs have some great performance, at a much lower cost.
As for the storage you think you don't need, think twice: Windows, office, a couple of games, Photoshop and 3D modelling can take a lot of space.
You probably don't need win7 pro as well. Check if Home Premium is ok for you.
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December 24, 2009 6:45:42 PM

Ok, are you saying I shouldn't choose SSD's? Or do you mean I can safely go for a single SSD drive? 80gb or 160gb?
Also, as far as the OS, I know there are people who get the OEM version, however I've heard this is not a good idea. Any truth to this? Retail or OEM?
Thanks for your input so far guys.

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December 24, 2009 6:55:58 PM

I think you can save on your ssd by going with ocz or patriot and one as a boot drive would be enough as far as speed . OCZ ram has been good for me. I would go with what ever has the better price. I would get like a 1.5 or 2 tera drive for back up and files I think my 1.5 was like 100 bucks or so.. If you don't buy the expensive intel ssd get a water cooling setup instead and oc it.. Win 7 home premium would be good enough for your rig.. Good luck with your build.
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December 24, 2009 7:10:26 PM

"be objective in your opinions"
"Objective opinion" is a major oxymoron, isnt it? :lol: 


I think Jack agrees with me (could it be true) that SSDs are still improving very rapidly. By spring the technology will have been worked out a bit better and the value brands will probably have caught up to IBMs speed making it a much more price attractive upgrade.

I get running two HDDs in Raid0 to halve boot times, but SSDs are so fast to begin with that is seems really frivilous to run two of them.
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December 24, 2009 7:14:54 PM

SSDs will make your load times for games and programs REALLY nice... I run a single 160GB intel generation 2 drive at work. We are buying one ofr every developer because of the speed increase.

I'd say spend the money for a 160 or larger drive. Stick with 1. Try it out, if you like it or feel you need more speed go for a second. I found these drives so fast that I dont need a RAID 0 setup.

Just keep a second drive for your large files (ISOs, video, music etc). But generally I'd stay with your install programs on your SSD. *Personally* I'd spring for 2x1tb drives and set them up in a RAID 1. This way you can worry less about daily backups to keep all those pictures of the family (or your pets) that will be lost in case of a failure. Remember a failure WILL happen eventually; it's just a matter of time. For me the extra $80 was worth the insurance.

Of course, if you install just your programs on the main SSD if it craps the bed you just have the time wasted to reinstall the programs.

FYI I installed Windows 7 in about 10minutes from DVD to SSD at work... It's a Core i7 920 as well. Bet it would have been faster if it wasnt for the DVD drive.

There are good deals for SSDs but I'd stick with Intel if you have the cash. OCZ has some new Vertex drives that perform well.

Good luck!
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December 24, 2009 7:28:23 PM

Kingston now sells the IBM SSDs under their brand. If you look the articles, storage here at Toms, they just tested 9 new models and almost all of them are closing in on IBMs performance.
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December 24, 2009 7:41:57 PM

I also noticed the new Colossus series from OCZ. The 120gb version is the same price as Intel's 160gb G2, but the specs state it's faster... not sure how big of a difference that would be. Same price, less space, more speed... Still pricey at $500+. Yet still close to my budget...
Any takes?

As far as Win 7 Home premium, I guess you guys may be right. Anyone know if older programs/games made to run in XP will work under Win 7? Is XP mode anything I'd miss?
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December 24, 2009 7:56:05 PM

dndhatcher said:
"be objective in your opinions"
"Objective opinion" is a major oxymoron, isnt it? :lol: 



Touche... :-)

What I really meant was for fan boys to not mess up the discussion. Far too often have I seen such threads end up in fan boys bashing at each other in favor of x, y, z products... :D 
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December 24, 2009 9:05:53 PM

As far as parts go, you can get a core i7 920 for $200 http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Also, I'm a big fan of the intel x18 ssds. They're almost the same as an x25, except they don't have trim support. They go for $200-$240 with a 250mb/sec read speed. I use it in my system and I love it. It would make for a cheap and powerful raid0 formation.
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