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[New System Build] Strategy for Upgradeable Build

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January 2, 2010 3:08:01 PM

For reference, this would be my second build ever, so I'm definitely behind the times... my first was the rig I'm currently limping along with which I built over 4 years ago.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Before end of Jan '10
BUDGET RANGE: 1000-1500 +/-

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, music library, surfing the internet, watching movies, digital art and picture editing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, Corsair Nautilus 500 water pump heat sink (would need new block)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, or possibly a custom from iBuypower or CyberpowerPC

PARTS PREFERENCES: None really. Though I've had a great experience with my ASUS A8N-E and would probably prefer to buy an ASUS mobo again if it were left to me.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe... this would figure into upgradability. i.e. maybe get an SLI capable board now, but just one GPU?

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: So, I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to try and build a system now for a little cheaper that I can upgrade later, or if I might as well just go all out, since things become outdated so fast.

My initial thoughts towards upgradability, were to get an X58 SLI capable mobo with a lower end i7 (920?) initially, just one GPU and maybe 3 GB DDR3 1866 to start.

But this raised some questions to me. How long will the LGA1366 socket be relevant? And how much do I stand to gain with SLI?

Direct question would be: Is there anything to gain in buying a low-end CPU, one GPU and less RAM now and build up later, or if budget is too tight now, get a non-SLI mobo and drop more on the CPU now? Other thoughts and advice towards upgradability and or what I should do welcome.

Oh and I saw where the 32 nm architecture i7 is coming out, will that drop the LGA1366 prices any?

Thanks!
January 5, 2010 10:53:24 PM

My realistic opinion from 10+ years of building gaming machines:

If you enjoy gaming, your best strategy is to spend on GPU, CPU, and enough memory for existing games to be run with settings maxed (save maybe FSAA) at your monitors given res. Any mid-high quad CPU and "midrange" (GTX260, HD4870) plus 4GB of memory can play any current game at 1680 with all the eye candy. Most will max on 1920 as well, save maybe Crysis Warhead or FC2.

Your next couple upgrades would be the vid card. Probably twice. By the time your CPU is bottlenecking your gaming, it will be time to start over with a new CPU/mobo/memory using your current high-end GPU.

IMO (and others) you're better off to stay with a single high-end card than to use SLI or CF. Then sell that card on ebay while it's still worth money and move on to the next high-end card. If you time this so you recoup half your money the next card becomes a bargain.

This way you'll enjoy current games the way they're MEANT to be seen instead of always being 1-2 steps behind the curve.

That all said the X58 is NOT going to be the most economical platform to do this strategy. X4s are a bargain or Core2 quad on an X48 if you know your overclocking.
January 6, 2010 12:52:40 PM

I agree with everything 2thAhce said until the x4 and Core2Quad. For your budget, you shouldn't be touching AMD, and the Core2s are dead.

To begin to build, you really need to narrow your budget down. If you're closer to the $1,000, a great gaming build will require the i5. Once you get above $1,200-1,300, you can begin to use the i7 for a gaming build without sacrificing the GPU.

If you're truly trying to future proof with an i7, be prepared to spend at least $300 on a motherboard. The cheapest one with USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GBps ports is the Asus P6X58D Premium for $300. Coupled with the i7, that's almost 1/2 your budget.

Here's what I figure as a general outline of the two builds:

Stuff that won't change ($302 total w/o OS):
HDD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $85 (or 500 GB for $55)
Case - HAF 922 $80 (after rebate)
Optical - Samsung 22x SATA DVD Burner $27
PSU - Corsair 750TX 750W $110 (after rebate)
OS (if needed) - Windows 7 $100

Build 1:
CPU - i5-750 $195
Mobo - Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190
RAM - G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $126
GPU - Radeon HD 5970 $650 (other options: HD 5850 $310, HD 5870 $410)

Total: $1,463 (w/o OS).

Build 2:
CPU - i7-920 $289
Mobo - Asus P6X58D Premium $300
RAM - G.SKILL PI Series 3x2 GB DDR3 1600 CAS Latency 7 $165
GPU - HD 5870 $410 (or HD 5850 $310)

Total: $1,466 (w/o OS).

Two build for essentially the same price. IMO the i5 build will have better gaming performance, especially at high resolutions and after a few years. With either of these builds, you won't need to upgrade by the time it'd just be better to build a new one.

EDIT: Added links to the parts that might not be as easy to find with a copy/paste search.
Related resources
January 7, 2010 1:39:31 AM

Some very much appreciated input here, thank you guys.

If you have confidence in the i5 build, that's probably the way I'll go - except maybe with an HD 5850. My budget is closer to the 1000 end now, since I just got laid off monday...

My only concern is it doesn't seem like the P7P55D-E Pro is super popular (well reviewed just not a whole lot of reviews), although maybe that's because the i5 isn't very wide spread either?
January 7, 2010 3:00:43 AM

Nope. It's because it's newer. You also shouldn't judge quality or performance from the user reviews. Most of the reviewers have no business being near technology...
January 7, 2010 3:38:36 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Nope. It's because it's newer. You also shouldn't judge quality or performance from the user reviews. Most of the reviewers have no business being near technology...


The man speaks the truth - but they do make for good reading when you need a few laughs !
January 7, 2010 4:53:46 PM

Another question, what do I need an SLI/CF and SATA 6GBps capable mobo for if you recommend against SLI/CF and I don't have a 6 GBps capable HDD?
January 7, 2010 5:25:17 PM

Future proofing. Soon there will be SATA III and USB 3.0 devices that will be better than current ones. Soon after that, they'll be mainstream.

Basically, the foundations of this build (board, CPU, GPU) will be good for a long, long time. In 3-5 years, you'll be able to pick up the best CPU for the socket at bargain prices, grab a second GPU for almost nothing, stick in some more RAM and switch to SATA III devices for very little. These changes will probably run you $400-500ish and will essentially be an entirely new high end computer.

Basically, with the higher end stuff, you won't have to upgrade anytime in the next several years, and after that, you'll be able to get away with marginal upgrades for several years.
January 7, 2010 5:39:55 PM

I'm pretty much building the i7 setup MadAdmiral listed above. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make that build work for as little as possible, including CyberPower and IBP. While they seem attractive from a price standpoint (and I can't speak to the quality of their builds), you will take it up the ass from them in terms of price on your GPU - they've got to make a profit somehow, but to drop an HD 5870 into your rig, you would effectively be spending $540 on a $400 card by going with either of those places (and for a 5970, almost $900 for a $600 card). Pretty unreal.

If you shop for deals, you can put together a build that's virtually identical to anything from IBP or CyberPower, and you won't have to buy a bottle of lube to make adding a video card to it a little more comfortable.
January 7, 2010 5:57:05 PM

Quote:
with the higher end stuff, you won't have to upgrade anytime in the next several years, and after that, you'll be able to get away with marginal upgrades for several years

I don't doubt this principle at all, but I guess I was just figuring I wouldn't fill up a 1TB drive if I used it for 10 years, so whatever drive I get now would probably be it for the life of this build. Like you said though, it would be a cheap transition in a couple years to SATA III when it became worth it.

Ultimately, if I can get a build that will last me 4 years within my budget, +upgrades in a couple years, I'll be stoked. And while I have trouble believing the 1156 socket will be relevant in 5 years, I really have no clue, and if there's even a chance that I can carry this mobo that long, it's worth a shot.

Thanks again for your input.
January 7, 2010 6:08:43 PM

It won't be relevant to new builds. Think of the 775 socket. It's 6 years old (I think), and just now you would have to ditch it for something newer. The 1156 will be in a better position because the 775 socket didn't come in with brand new tech like the 1156 (USB 3/SATA 3, DX 11, Crossfire to some degree, multi-cores). Also, the 1156 is likely to get more new CPUs down the line (at least for a year or two).

I have no problem saying that without an upgrade, an i5/5870/USB 3/SATA 3 build will last you 4 years without an upgrade. I'm 75% sure that with an upgrade at that time, it will last another 1-2 years after that.
January 7, 2010 7:36:07 PM

Wow, so I'm pretty close to pulling the trigger on this whole thing:
CPU - i5-750
Mobo - Asus P7P55D-E Pro
RAM - G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CL 7
GPU - Radeon HD 5870
HDD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB
Optical - Samsung 22x SATA DVD Burner

but I just saw this PSU/Case combo...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Is 700W not gonna cut it, because after combo discount and rebate I'd be saving ~$100!
January 7, 2010 7:49:50 PM

Since the 5870 actually uses less power than a 4890 a good 700W PSU should be fine and that is a pretty good deal on that combo !
January 7, 2010 7:51:21 PM

ok first of all gaming at that resolution, stay with 5850.
5850 vs 5870 @ 1680x1050 you won't notice any visual game play experience.
by charts by numbers, only slight increase.

2nd, dont buy yet. wait for clarkdale to release.
the current i5 750 will price drop.
and as for ram I highly recommend Kingston Hyper-x DDr3 2x2, its CL7 as well but it beats G.Skill ripjaws @ same mhz
i would change the HDD to WD Black 500gb
and for psu I'd never go outside of Corsair (less noise and less heat while outputtin good amp)
January 7, 2010 7:55:38 PM

and btw if you go x58, i7 920 is the lower one but it is also best for the price in my opinion, it can OC to 3.6hhz easily on air cool, and if set up right with other parts 4ghz. off noctua aircooled

nothing wrong with intel i5-i7 (800s)
the new clarkdale i5's are pretty amazing. over 3ghz with built in intergrated graphics.
I personally want one for my HTPC
January 8, 2010 11:24:09 AM

I would go ahead and buy the PSU/Case combo, especially if you have a build that you can test the PSU with. It's a really good deal, and the parts aren't going to degrade or be cheaper later.

On the 5850 vs. 5870: the 5850 will be good enough for your current monitor. If you were to upgrade later to a 1900x1200 resolution, it might not be as good anymore. Thus, if you can fit a 5870 into you're build, I would do it.

As for Crossfire being important for future proofing, I would say that since the cost is very minimal to get a good Crossfire motherboard (compared to a non-XFire board), there is no reason to not have the option. Chances are (especially with the higher end GPUs) you will not use it. However, let's assume that in 2-3 years, you could be looking at buying a new GPU (probably a little short...). If you didn't have Crossfire, you'd need to buy an expensive card ($300-400) like you did now, only to need to replace it when you rebuild the entire thing in a year or two. If you had Crossfire, you could spend a lot less (I'm guessing $50-150) for an older card and have just as good of performance.

That's why it's good to have Crossfire avialable.

@jstnkim: Corsair is a great PSU maker, but there are ones that are just as good and cheaper (as well as some better and more expensive). You shouldn't confine yourself to a single company for a part. And you choose a very expensive CPU for your HTPC. You should go with a cheaper AMD, possibly even a dual core. HTPCs don't need a super powerful CPU (or really anything for that matter).
January 8, 2010 3:44:44 PM

@ Madadmiral,
Hey, How are ya.
Yeah I agree there are cheaper companies that are just as great as Corsair. Believe me I personally use P&C silencers, and Antec on my 2nd pc. I own 3 pc's + htpc to come. But when I offer my advice, I always advice them on parts that are top notch, that rarely ever fails me or has neg reputations. I'm not much of a fanboy of any brand to only offer one type, I just do offer one types in alot of my posts for that reason I stated above.

and Yes that cpu is a bit high for an HTPC. but I wouldn't say Expensive.
an clarkdale i5 670 is about 300 bucks, and since I was originally looking into Powercoolers 5750 with intel i5 750. 165+225 (w/ tax)
Actually it's cheaper to go this route.
Time to time, the HTPC will be used for games, Home brewed games. Nothing major to require so much gpu. and this set up helped me decide to just watercool the cpu block and get both on cooling, till the new fermi's come out.

I like running lots of task at once, yes even for a htpc. web browse while movies/music videos playing, and rip blu-rays while converting or compressing them.
hell I don't even like slow transfer speeds which is why I'm putting a ssd in it as well.
January 8, 2010 4:05:14 PM

Actually, I'm comparing it to AMD. AMD's CPUs are great in HTPCs right now.

And it sounds like for your uses, you should be getting the i7-860. It's much better at multi-tasking due to the hyperthreading
January 8, 2010 4:16:04 PM

I'm not sure if I'm following up on ya correctly.
as I used to like AMD CPU's
but the new clarkdales are winners in my book
inte i5 670 @ 3.46ghz w/ Intergrated Graphics (733mhz graphics) @ only 73w
is a def winner in my book.
or Intel i5 661 @ 3.33ghz w/ intergrated graphics (900mhz graphics) @ 87w.
both offering turbo mode and hyperthreading.

I see no reason to go intel i7-800 series for an htpc. so I'm confused on your advice.
unless I'm missing something out here
January 8, 2010 4:31:31 PM

Except those are dual cores, which are a great deal less effective at multi-tasking and other CPU intensive tasks. In a true HTPC, I would still go with the cheaper AMDs, but the other i5s are good too.

I know you're saying it's an HTPC, but it really isn't. Based on what you said you're doing (games, multi-tasking, ripping discs, converting/compressing files), the best CPU that's relatively close to the i5-750 is the i7-860. Since the majority of your tasks would benefit from 4 cores with hyperthreading (the i5s have either 4 without or 2 with), an i7-860 would be a better performing CPU.

But enough hijacking of the thread...
January 8, 2010 5:09:30 PM

Quote:
wait for clarkdale to release

Is there anything more solid than Q1 2010 when this is gonna happen? Because, when I say I'm limping along, I'm really pretty much on my death bed... i.e. can only run in Safe Mode with Networking :p 

Quote:
5850 vs. 5870

If a 5870 will allow me to play games at higher settings longer at my resolution, it's probably a go too. Not to mention I suppose there's a possibility I'd get a second (bigger) monitor, down the road if I find myself with an excess of disposable income. And finally if I can pull the trigger in time to get that PSU/Case combo, that makes some room for the 5870.
January 8, 2010 5:25:18 PM

What's your thoughts on a couple sticks like these?

G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I know there's tighter timings out there, but these are low cost and low Volt?

I should add, the one's originally linked must have sold out, or are otherwise no longer available.
January 8, 2010 5:28:53 PM

Actually, that's about as tight as you're going to get with 1600 mhz sticks. The only problem I have is that the regular voltage ones are cheaper via free shipping. I don't believe there's any performance difference between low voltage and regular voltage, but if anyone knows for sure, feel free to correct me.
January 8, 2010 5:41:30 PM

Quote:
the regular voltage ones are cheaper via free shipping

Indeed!

Again, thanks for all the input, everyone, this has been a HUMONGOUS help, and I am super excited about the build I'm gonna end up with.
January 8, 2010 6:18:53 PM

therianthrope said:
Quote:
wait for clarkdale to release

Is there anything more solid than Q1 2010 when this is gonna happen? Because, when I say I'm limping along, I'm really pretty much on my death bed... i.e. can only run in Safe Mode with Networking :p 


Yes there is something more solid than Q1 2010.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel clarkdales are out that is pricing of the intel i5 661

expect 750 to price drop soon.
as the 670 is at 300


therianthrope said:
5850 vs. 5870
If a 5870 will allow me to play games at higher settings longer at my resolution, it's probably a go too. Not to mention I suppose there's a possibility I'd get a second (bigger) monitor, down the road if I find myself with an excess of disposable income. And finally if I can pull the trigger in time to get that PSU/Case combo, that makes some room for the 5870.
[/quote]


5870 is def future proof.
but at your current resolution 5850vs5870 won't make a difference.
but if you go for a higher (Resolution) then yes the 5870 will be great to have for future proofing.
btw bigger size of the monitor does not mean higher res.

therianthrope said:
What's your thoughts on a couple sticks like these?

G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231321

I know there's tighter timings out there, but these are low cost and low Volt?

I should add, the one's originally linked must have sold out, or are otherwise no longer available.


Great choice of Rams.
I sort of used to look into that, but stopped reading up on it.
I hear they are insane on OC'd as long as cooled right.
for 160 bucks get a 4gb 2x2 @ 2100mhz staying under 1.8v is a yay for me
January 8, 2010 7:20:58 PM

Well, here's what I have in my cart...

SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 5870 & Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Combo - 495 :ouch: 

ASUS P7P55D-E Pro SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX MOBO - 190

COOLER MASTER HAF 922 Case & OCZ StealthXStream 700W PSU Combo - 150 (100 after rebates)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - 110

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500GB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" HDD - 55

Sony Optiarc Black 24X SATA DVD/CD Burner - 27

Totaling 1048 after shipping (998 after rebate), with the CPU yet to be bought.

My local Micro Center had the i5-750 for $150, Dec. - Jan. 3 and I missed it, that really burnt my ass to find out, but not much I can do about it now.

I guess unless anyone has any sweet deals I'm missing or last minute advice and what not, this is it!
January 8, 2010 8:13:59 PM

not a bad set up.
Good video card, Home premium is a good choice on win7, pro wouldnt make much of a difference, so i personally think its a waste of money. I perfer either win7 home or ult, nothing between.

I personally would never go Asus again, I've had too much bad experience with them.
I much rather prefer gigabyte. or even MSI.
Gigabyte's UD series is not bad at all.
And also SATA6 USB 3.0 is a good choice for future proof. Those USB 3.0 are blazing fast.
but due to P55 flaws, once both enabled, your PCIE slot loses it's speed. But it's ther persons preference.

Again , I'm back stuck at the PSU. While that says 700w the amp output is fairly weak. as for your config, the psu is just fine. I'm just stating it's something I wouldn't recommend.
for 1 it's 4 rails for the 12v.
Just my personal prefrence but multi rails just doesnt seem stable and accurate enough to me.

the ocz stealthxstream 700w is 675w @ 55amps. If you decide to Xfire that 5870, you'll be hanging on the edge with that psu.
I would atleast go with a 750w in this case again corsair as a offer for their 750w pure 60amp.

you're going to love the HAF series of cases, I loved my 932. the air flow is amazing.
but when I saw the corsairs tower come out, i had to give it a try and let the 932 go

as for deals, I always stay on a look at on www.slickdeals.net
that or get lucky off ebay.
January 8, 2010 9:17:53 PM

Quote:
but due to P55 flaws, once both enabled, your PCIE slot loses it's speed. But it's ther persons preference

Gotta say, I have no clue what you're talking about. Not in that I disagree, but in that I don't know what you're saying. "once both enabled"? what are you talking about?

As for the PSU, I'm pretty much getting it for $20. And I don't really understand what the worry about multiple rails is, so long as I don't do something idiotic.
January 8, 2010 9:26:50 PM

therianthrope said:
Quote:
but due to P55 flaws, once both enabled, your PCIE slot loses it's speed. But it's ther persons preference

Gotta say, I have no clue what you're talking about. Not in that I disagree, but in that I don't know what you're saying. "once both enabled"? what are you talking about?

As for the PSU, I'm pretty much getting it for $20. And I don't really understand what the worry about multiple rails is, so long as I don't do something idiotic.



ah ok sorry, lol should have explained better.
for the first one, about USB 3.0.
when it is enabled (yes there is an option to enable it to be used or disabled)
your pcie x16 drops to pcie x8 speeds.

and as for the psu, for 20 bucks is great, I never checked the link (comes to show what I think of OCZ products)
just read that it was with ocz so i threw out my opinions.
if it's really for 20 bucks then sure go for it, my advice was only if you had to pay a similar to retail price, then might as well go some thing else.

multi-rails arnt really an issue but i really don't like how it doesn't output "clean" voltages vs a single rail. single rails cost more for a reason. but just my personal prefrence why i favor single rails.

but here is a little copy pasted article of somones site that better explains the 3 different type of psu's Multi rails and single rails.

but if that psu is 20 bucks, dont bother reading it lol 20 bucks is a steal
January 8, 2010 9:36:20 PM

Thanks for the clarification RE: USB 3.0, I wasn't aware of that.
Quote:
but if that psu is 20 bucks, dont bother reading it lol 20 bucks is a steal

Scratch that, separately, the HAF 922 and OCZ 700W would be 180 total.
100 for the HAF 922
80 for the OCZ 700W

With the combo deal, after MIR, I'm paying 100 so pretty much the PSU is free.
January 8, 2010 9:45:45 PM

yeah not a bad deal at all. now all you have to do is pull the trigger on buying those lol seems like the hardest part on shopping
January 9, 2010 7:43:23 PM

Quote:
now all you have to do is pull the trigger ... seems like the hardest part


I agree! Especially with agonizing over the 5870 vs 5850... but I committed and went with the 5870. Trigger pulled, hopefully I'll have it all by late next week.

Not counting the OS, including shipping and after MIR, this rig will have ran me approximately 1100, which for what I started out looking at and am ending up with, I'm very pleased with.

Thanks AGAIN to all of those who offered their input!

You'll probably see me again once i get it all so that I can be sure I'm covering my bases in assembling the thing.
!