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New Build. Help choosing components.

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December 30, 2009 10:30:58 PM

I am finally ready to build my first system but I need a little help in choosing components. I am not a serious gamer but do use my system as a DAW from time to time which requires a lot of memory and is pretty processor intensive (also is programmed to use multiple cores). The most graphically intense game I currently play is Civ 4 and it runs fine on an old Radeon X300SE so I am not interested in SLI or Crossfire. I am also not interested in overclocking (unless I am able to do so safely with very little effort). I don't think I'll be doing much upgrading in the near future so the processor that I choose will likely be the only one I use until my next complete build. I would like to build a system for around $1000. I'm willing to stretch that to about $1250.00 if I need to or $1500.00 if there is a really good reason to. Also, I already own a copy of Win 7 so that does not need to be included in the cost. Here are a few specific questions/statements I have:


(1) I'm not sure if I should go with the Core i7-860 or i7-920.
(2) What would be the performance benefits between a dual channel and triple channel configuration?
(3) I'm looking for a decent motherboard that has support for SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0
(4) What would be a decent PSU?

I'm looking to purchase the components sometime over the next day or two. Any help is much appreciated.
December 31, 2009 9:07:43 AM

These are the components that I have chosen so far. Does anyone have any changes that they would make? Also, I read somewhere that one of the ASUS boards would not allow Hyper Threading to be turned on. This isn't that board is it? Again, thanks for any help.

LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support - Retail - $33.99

LIAN LI PC-7B plus II Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $89.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST31500341AS 1.5TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $119.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3750528AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $69.99

SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $179.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 ... - Retail - $98.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM - Retail
Item #: N82E16820231303 - $104.99

ASUS P7P55D-E Premium LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Intel Motherboard - Retail - $279.99

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I7860 - Retail - $279.99

LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08 - Retail - $69.99

Subtotal: $1,327.90

Best solution

December 31, 2009 12:30:35 PM
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You are paying for features you will not use in the ASUS P7P55D Premium motherboard ($279). The ASUS P7P55D-E PRO ($189) still gives you USB 3.0 and Sata 6 GB/s support for a substantial savings. However, if you are willing to drop the USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/s requirement, then you could use the ASUS P7P55D LE ($135) motherboard. You could still add a card in the future with USB 3.0 and SATA 3.0 support when devices that use these capabilities become available.

The rest of your build looks good. The Corsair 650TX PSU is an excellent choice. The Seagate 7200.11 series has some known reliability problems, so if you can upgrade this drive to a 7200.12 that would be wise. The video card you chose should be more than adequate for your needs.

With regard to choosing a i860 or i920 system, they will both perform about the same. Without overclocking the i860 system will be faster than the i920 for most applications:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=364...
For DAW applications, you will not see any difference in performance. In fact, I use Cubase and Delta 1010 in my DAW, and it is not CPU limited with even a i5-750 processor.

Good luck with your build.
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December 31, 2009 8:46:02 PM

I may choose another motherboard manufacturer. I can't remember where but I read somewhere that one of the ASUS boards did not support hyperthreading. I'm edging closer to the i7-920 because it looks like a lot of the motherboards for the i7-860 are having problems when reading the comments section on newegg.
December 31, 2009 9:13:13 PM

You cant take the newegg reviews too seriously. There are alot of them written by unhappy people whose problems were likely self inflicted. Impatient people thinking they will slap it together real quick and be off & running. Spending a little time, reading manuals, being careful and double checking when building will avoid many troubles. There is a "boot problems" sticky here that is a great checklist to run down to be sure you didnt miss anything.
December 31, 2009 9:33:19 PM

I have another question. Are PCI express slots backwards compatiblae with PCI slots? I have a sound card that uses a regular PCI slot. I'm looking at the Asus board recommended by dpaul8 and it does not state that it has PCI slots. Only three x1 and one x16 PCI express slots.


http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131621

EDIT: Nevermind. I see that it has 2 PCI slots.
January 1, 2010 11:11:47 AM

Here are my final choices. Are there any changes that you would make? Is there anything I'm missing? Also, do I really need the thermal compound or will the heatsink come with it already on it? Does anyone have any experience with newegg and large orders? Will they combine some of the items into a larger box or will they mostly come separate?


3 OKGEAR 24" SATA II Cable Model GC24AKM - Retail - $5.97 ($1.99 each)

LITE-ON Black 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support - Retail - $33.99

COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $89.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST31000528AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $89.99

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3750528AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $69.99

SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $179.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 ... - Retail - $89.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $6.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail - $126.99

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $189.99

Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I7860 - Retail - $279.99

LITE-ON Black 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader SATA Model iHOS104-08 - Retail - $69.99


Subtotal: $1,233.86
January 1, 2010 2:52:56 PM

Would I be better off getting the Radeon 4890 since it outperforms the 5770 for around the same price? Or should I stick to the 5770 since it supports DX11?
January 2, 2010 12:42:51 AM

I think you're better off going with the 5770, because your system is perfectly primed to crossfire 5770s, but not 4890s. The PSU is only powerful enough to safely support two 5770s, not 4890s, and it doesn't have enough connectors for more than one 4890.
The retail CPU should come with heat compound already applied, so you will not have to apply your own.
January 2, 2010 3:59:51 AM

Thank you all for your help. I've just placed my order. I hope everything goes well with my first build. [fingers crossed]
January 7, 2010 3:08:47 AM

Ok. So I've put my PC together but I have one problem. CPU-Z is showing my CPU speed as 1203.8MHz. I have the i7-860 which should be running at 2.8GHz. What could be my problem?
January 7, 2010 4:43:09 AM

This is normal. In Windows 7, Control Panel, System and Security, Power Options, you have chosen "Balanced (recommended)." Under this power saving plan, the CPU will drop it's multiplier to 9 x 133.2 MHz = 1200 MHz when you are not stressing the CPU.

Once you start running applications, the processor will kick the multiplier up to 21 x 133.2 MHz = 2.8 MHz. Since the i860 processor has turbo boost, if you are not using all four cores, the multiplier can be greater than 21, But forgive me as I cannot remember the maximum value because I do not have this processor.

You can test this yourself, by running a CPU intensive application like a game or Prime 95, and monitor the core speed with CPU-Z. You will see the core speed change before your eyes once the game starts. This is a pretty cool feature.

Best regards.
January 7, 2010 9:12:57 PM

Thanks. I ran Prime95 64-bit and I noticed my temps getting close to 70C (I usually stop the stress test at around 68C and the program that comes with my motherboard starts flagging me at around 61C). Should my CPU be getting that hot?

EDIT (1): Also, my speed for my RAM was incorrect. I was able to change that in the bios but my timings are off. CPU-z shows my timings as 9-9-9-24 but the advertised timings are 7-7-7-24. When I go into the BIOS there are more than four options for changing timing. How do I know which ones to change? All of them are set to 'auto'.

EDIT(2): I think I may have fixed my timings problem but my CPU still runs hot when running Prime95. What is the max safe temp for this CPU? Thanks for any help.
January 8, 2010 1:34:35 AM

The thermal design specification for the i860 processor is 72.7 C.
http://processorfinder.intel.com/details.aspx?sSpec=SLB...

One would expect to get close to this design temperature when using the Intel heat sink and running Prime 95, which stresses all cores to the max. So, your system appears to be running normal. If you were to replace the Intel heat sink with a good aftermarket model, you could expect CPU temperatures to be between 40 and 50 C without any overclocking while running Prime 95.
January 8, 2010 4:38:42 PM

Ok thanks. One more question and I'll try not to bother you anymore. I want to let Prime95 keep running. Will my PC automatically reboot or shutdown if my CPU gets too hot?
January 8, 2010 5:03:45 PM

Yes, your CPU senses its operating temperature and will shutdown if it gets too hot. This prevents damage to your CPU. If this occurs, you should re-apply thermal paste and reseat your heat sink fan because this indicates inadequate cooling.

Good luck with your build.
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