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1500-2000 Gaming Rig

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January 13, 2010 1:14:07 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: February

BUDGET RANGE: $1500-2000

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, School, Music/Movies, Internet Surfing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe later date

This is my first build that I am doing without help so my knowledge is limited. As my budget states I dont want to spend any more than 2000. Id like to do a RAID 0 installation with 2x Samsung Spinpoint F3's (500gb) for my OS (Windows 7) and games; 1 TB HDD for my music, and movies. My problem is I have never done RAID setups so I dont know how it works and what ill need. The following is my current product selection.

Case: Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000BWA Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133132

Mobo: ASUS P7P55D EVO LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131407

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006

CPU: Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115214

RAM: CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8D - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145224

Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1180-AR GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130480

CD/DVD: Sony Optiarc DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Beige SATA Model AD-7240S-01 - OEM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118033

HDD: (2x) SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185

OS: Windows 7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116758

Total bill around 1700. Thoughts? Suggestions?

More about : 1500 2000 gaming rig

January 13, 2010 1:40:02 PM

RAID: All you really need is the motherboard that supports RAID and the necessary number of HDDs. Keep in mind that with RAID, you can't move the drives to another computer and have it work. Also, with RAID 0, if one drive dies, you lose everything. I don't personally like using RAID, but whatever works for you.

If you're looking for speed, with your large budget, you should just pick up a SSD. It will probably cost you $300 for 64 GB or much more for a larger one.

Case: Save some money and get one of the best cases around: HAF 922 $80 after rebate (or in the PSU combo which is next)

PSU: Corsair's are great, but there's an excellent combo on Newegg: OCZ StealthXStream 700W and HAF 922 for $110 after rebates. So basically, you'd get a free case.

CPU: The i5-750 is much better for gaming than the i7-860, and about $100 cheaper at $200. I highly suggest getting that instead.

Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190. Support USB 3.0 and SATA III for less.

RAM: You want dual channel sticks, not triple channel. I recommend G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 for $110.

GPU: You shouldn't be touching nVidia right now. So far, ATI's 5xxx series is awesome, and Fermi (due out mid-March, probably not readily avialable until late summer) is looking like it's running extremely hot to keep up. Get the HD 5970 ($650) or the HD 5870 ($410).

Optical: There's a Samsung model for $21. Get that to save on an unimportant part.

HDD: Mentioned the SSD above. Other than that, it's a good drive.

What I've got above is $1,226 (HD 5870, one 1 TB Samsung).

Add a 120 GB SSD: $1,626.

Upgrade to the HD 5970: $1,866

Another option is the the i7-920 build, which I would switch the following:

CPU: i7-920 $289.

Mobo: Asus P6X58D Premium $310

RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 3x2 GB DDR3 1600 CAS Latency 7 $165 after rebate

With HD 5870, no SSD: $1,490

With HD 5970: $1,730

Leaving enough room for a 64 GB (possibly 80 GB) SSD or 2x500 GB Samsungs.
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January 13, 2010 1:40:37 PM

Well, it's starting to look pretty good, but there are a few problems I see:

1: Motherboard doesn't support the new SATA III and USB 3.0 ports. I'd suggest the ASUS P7P55D-E PRO, which is actually $5 cheaper and has the new ports.

2: Your RAM is triple channel (three sticks) but the p55 platform using dual channel (two sticks). I'd suggest the G.SKILL Ripjaws 4GB (2x2GB) 1333MHz CL7 for about $100 cheaper.

3: Your GPU is already behind as the new DX11 cards are out with the HD 5xxx series. For only a bit more I would suggest going for the HD 5870, which out performs the GTX 285.

4: I know there are cheaper DVD drives on newegg. I believe the cheapest I've seen is a Lite-On one. As long as it's SATA it doesn't matter. Just get the cheapest

5: For your usage, I don't really think the i7 hyper-threading will be beneficial, so I would suggest either going with the i5, or you could move to the x58 platform. The i7-920 is in your budget, but if you want to keep it lower then I would say the i5-750 is the way to go for you.
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January 13, 2010 2:12:30 PM

Sound suggestions. Didnt catch the triple channel memory with the current mobo so I switched out with the ASUS P7P55D-E PRO and the G.SKILL Ripjaws. Incase I wanted to go for 6gb is 2gb extra going to make much of a difference in performance? I made the following changes for everything else:

HDD: Instead of using 2x Spinpoint F3's ive decided to use a 128gb Crucial SSD. Using the same 1TB HDD for media storage.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148319

Case and PSU: Switched out the case and PSU for combo deal MadAdmiral suggested.

GPU: Switched for the HD 5870

CPU: Switched for the i5-750. What makes the i5-750 better than my previous choice for gaming?

After all the changes and adding a surge protector im at $1767







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January 13, 2010 2:20:39 PM

2 GB may actually hurt you. The way the boards work now days is to accept RAM in dual channel or triple channel. What that means is that some boards (specifically all LGA1156, AM3 sockets) want RAM added in pairs. Others (LGA1366) want it added in sets of three. If you don't do that, the bandwith allocated to the RAM is changed for the worse.

If you're just gaming, you will only need 4 GB anyway. Don't worry about buying more right now. RAM is cheap and easy to add later.

With an i5 build, the options are either 4 GB (2x2 GB) or 8 GB (4x2 GB). You don't have to buy it all in one kit, but you should match the exact RAM>

The i5-750 has a feature that allows it to automatically overclock the cores that are in use while downclocking the cores that aren't. Gaming uses (at least right now) only one core, so essentially, every time you fire up a game, the computer will shut down 3 cores and send all that power to the one running the game.

In addition, the cheaper cost is a big factor. The most important component to gaming is the GPU, thus anything saved elsewhere in the build will allow you to afford a bigger one.

The i7-860 used to be a good choice for a cheap multi-task, CPU intense build, but as it's roughly the same price as the i7-920, it's no longer relevant.

Now, once you switch the RAM out, you can afford the 5970. Which is the most powerful GPU made to date.
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January 13, 2010 2:31:47 PM

Thanks for the explanations. Backtracking to my SSD, I understand they are supposed have faster read/write speeds and are more reliable though I have heard from different user reviews that may not be the case. Some die after several months and they start to slow down. Can I get some clarification on that issue? If I am going to buy the SSD I want it to be worth the money I paid for it.
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January 13, 2010 2:40:48 PM

They are lightning fast. They can be somewhat fincky about how you use them (they don't like constant rewriting or being near full). As far as reliability, I don't know any specifics, but it is a fairly new technology, and every new harddrive faces the same kind of failure rates.

Personally, I don't really care for recommending them, as they are expensive and I don't think the gains are particularly worth it. However, there are people on here that will swear by them, and are adament about including them in almost any build. I've heard using them will make you never want to go back to the standard HDDs again, but I'm skeptical.

Once the budget hits a point (and it's typically around $1,700), there's really nothing else to spend your money on. You've already gotten the best CPU, best board, best RAM, and best GPU. The SSD is really all that's left to make it a true top-of-line system...
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January 13, 2010 2:48:30 PM

Appreciate the input. You have been a great help. I will think about the SDD and decide what to do when February comes around.
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January 13, 2010 3:33:45 PM

A little more details on SSDs...I'm considering one for my next build, and having walked someone through a live comparison recently, I will say that they drastically increase the perceived speed of the computer. That being said, MadAdmiral is right, they are very expensive, and they're still largely leading-edge technology, so there are some gotchas. I might sound like an apologist, but I think they're a good idea for certain builds.

Due to the way SSDs rewrite data, you really want to keep them half-full or less. Overwriting data is a very costly (in terms of time) operation on an SSD, and the more full they are, the more you have to overwrite data as you change it. Ideally, you just put your OS and a couple of most-frequently used programs on there, and store all your data (possibly including temporary web data) on a different disk. With that in mind, it's hard to recommend anything smaller than a 128 GB SSD, since Windows + 2-3 good-sized programs is already going to be between 40-60 GB.

In short:
Pros - very fast, increase the user experienced speed of the system
Cons - expensive, best performance when under 50% full, best performance with data that doesn't change often

Ideal usage (IMO): laptops that are primarily being used for general purpose (internet, office apps) and have a separate storage drive for large/frequently changing files
Good usage: Gaming/editing PCs that only have the OS + top 2-3 programs on the SSD, everything else on separate storage
Substandard usage: RAID 0 SSD array as a scratch space for a video editing machine
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January 13, 2010 3:42:35 PM

That pretty much sums it up.

I'm personally waiting on recommending them until they're less bleeding-edge tech and more reasonable at around $100ish for 128 GB...
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