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My i5 gaming/GD build is getting expensive - scrap for i7?

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January 22, 2010 2:09:27 AM

I am a gamer and graphic designer looking for a boost in performance from my current dual core and 8800gtx.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: immediately

BUDGET RANGE: 1500-1700 after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, photoshop/film editing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com - United States

PARTS PREFERENCES: I prefer Antec cases, Intel chipset, 8GB ram, SATA 6GB/USB 3.0 MB, and ATI GPUs

OVERCLOCKING: Yes - but first time trying it

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, but later - was looking at but not married to a 5850, and considering a crossfire set-up when the price drops for a second card

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 firm

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I put together the following build from a mix of various posts from TH members over the past two weeks, but in my effort to ensure future-proofing I got to a point at which I thought my price point might be better served with an i7-920 build. With the amount of photoshop and video editing I do, I have been torn about including the hyperthreading technology I have read about here - is it significant and if so shouldn't I include that in my build?

Is the PSU ok for future crossfire? Seems like a 750 or 850 might be in order, but unsure.


*** The Build ***

CPU - $199.99
Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

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

RAM - $239.98
2xG.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBECO - Retail (Total of 8GB)

OS and GPU Combo Deal - $384.98
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders and SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail

HD - $89.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

OPT - $27.99
Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD/CD Rewritable Drive - OEM

CASE - $99.99
Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

PSU - $79.99
CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail

COOLING - $29.99
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail

TOTALS
With FedEx 3Day Shipping and Tax I am landing at $1,565.83. This is within my budget but am I getting the most for the money considering my needs? I feel like I should be going i7-920 at this price point.

Thanks in advance for your advice and help.
January 22, 2010 2:16:44 AM

There is no doubt that hyperthreading is going to benefit you in your editing endeavors. That being said you can tack on 200$ to the top of any i5-750 build to get an equal i7-920. You also should keep in mind that if you do go 1366 you need triple channel memory, which means either dropping to 6gb, or adding to 12gb (which probably wouldn't work due to the HSF covering the vast majority of mobo 5+6 memory slots)

You might just consider moving up from the i5-750 to the i7-860(which regardless of its i7 designation fits the 1156 socket). It's a 90 dollar upgrade vs 200+ for 1366. You could also look at the Xeon X3440, it's only 40 dollars more than the i5 and it also supports HT.

Really make sure, and then double sure that you've got clearance for the CM212 and a full bank of dimms.

edit: Niklas beat me to it
Oh, psu. I'd move to at least a 750w for the 1156. If you do go 1366 then 850w would be my recommendation.
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January 22, 2010 2:21:38 AM

I would also step up the PSU to a 750W
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Related resources
January 22, 2010 6:38:13 AM

What would be the recommended MB, 1366 triple channel memory, and PSU if I went the i7-920 route, and would I need to go with a full tower, such as the Antec 1200, to fit it all considering a future crossfire set-up, or can I still get away with the midtower and CM212 with the i7 shift?

Thanks for the replies so far.
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January 22, 2010 12:08:48 PM

Mobo: Asus P6T Deluxe V2
289.99

Great layout for crossfire. Good nb/mosfet cooling. 16+2 phase power for oc'ing (that being said it's not a huge deal). There is no USB/SATA III support with this board. If that's something you're considering then look elsewhere.

Ram: Corsair XMS3 3x2gb 9-9-9-24
154.99

Decent kit, decent price. Low profile heatsinks should allow you to get larger hsf installed w/o clearance issues. I personally wouldn't recommend filling your dimms with 2 kits as it tends to become exponentially more likely to fail and cause difficulties, but it's much more affordable to go that route versus the 3x4gb kits.

PSU: Seasonic 850w Silver
109.99
Great buy for a great psu. It's currently 70.00 off.

Midtower will still work, you just need to do your homework on the case to ensure 2 things:

1) Room for the 5870 - 11" from pci bay to hdd bays minimum. This ensures any future upgrades barring the 5970 will work.

2) Clearance for the CM212 - 8" width

I'm not positive on the 900. Cases that I've looked into that will fit both (Midtower) are:

Antec 902, CM 690II Advanced, Lancool K-62, CM Storm Sniper, CM Haf 922
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January 23, 2010 12:59:20 AM

Thanks to a4mula and niklas13 for their comments and help so far. Below is the updated build based on their suggestions and some more research. I have noticed that the MB I have chosen is hard to find, is there an equivalent board that offers similar functionality and SATA 6/USB 3.0 I should consider? Is the CM212 superior to the Zalmans I have used in the past for Cooling, and should I consider additional fans or Arctic TP using the Antec 1200 if I am planning on OC/CF? I appreciate your final blessings/changes before I place the order.

As always, thanks for your help.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: immediately

BUDGET RANGE: 1500-1700 after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, photoshop/film editing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com - United States

PARTS PREFERENCES: I prefer Antec cases, Intel chipset, 6GB ram, SATA 6GB/USB 3.0 MB, and ATI GPUs

OVERCLOCKING: Yes - but first time trying it

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, but later - was looking at but not married to a 5850, and considering a crossfire set-up when the price drops for a second card

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 firm

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: See above

*** The Revised Build ***

CPU - $288.99
Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield

MB - $309.99
ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

RAM - $154.99
CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory

OS and GPU Combo Deal - $384.98
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders and SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail

HD - $89.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

OPT - $27.99
Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD/CD Rewritable Drive - OEM

CASE - $159.99
Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

PSU - 109.99
SeaSonic S12D 850 Silver 850W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Active PFC Power Supply

COOLING - $29.99
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212

TOTALS
With FedEx 3Day Shipping and Tax I am landing at $1,779.37. This is a bit over budget but am I getting the most for the money considering my needs?

Thanks in advance for your advice and help.
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January 23, 2010 1:51:40 AM

A read me regarding the HSF http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

The build looks good maybe add a SSD in 6 months to a year

The mobo looks good but if you run Xfire latter keep in mind that it will block both PCI slots not sure if that will madder to you or not.

That case will have plenty of cooling to xfire and OC
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January 23, 2010 7:42:01 AM

Looks like a great build. Solid through and through.

Something to consider if you'd like to save about 150$ and see almost no performance drop would be to consider an 1156 build using an i7-860.

Of course that means you lose triple channel memory. You cut yourself off from future 6-core upgrades (Gulftown), it also means either dropping to 4gb ram, or upping to 8gb. The 1156 also means never going with more than 2 gpus.

The 1156 does have future upgrade paths via Sandybridge which will be 32nm quad-cores. They'll be much more affordable than the Gulftown but aren't slated to hit until q1 2011. They are also much more energy effecient and don't get nearly as hot.

Your build is great, I personally wouldn't change it. If budget is a concern howerver it's something to consider.

i7-860 review including benchmarks against i7-920 and i5-750:
Here
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January 23, 2010 5:11:20 PM

Warming up to an i7-860 build - could someone provide specific suggestions about an ideal 1156 MB, Memory (8GB), and a proper air cooling unit for a planned OC to the 3.6-3.8 range?

Thanks again.
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January 23, 2010 9:05:15 PM

Overkill imo. If you go that route you might as well stick with the 1366. 32+2 phase power? It's a great board, but unlike its 1366 counterpart the 1156 doesn't need a ton of cooling so those 6" high heatsinks are wasted.

I'd take a look at:

Asus P755D-E Pro

G.Skill 4x2gb 7-8-7-24 1600 Eco 1.35v
239.99
Going this route is a touch more expensive than buying 2 seperate 2x2 kits. But at least you guarantee you get the same binnings which should help ensure you run into as few as possible issues.

Corsair H50 Cooler
Solves your ram clearance issues. 1156 doesn't need nearly as much airflow around the cpu (mosfets only, no northbridge) so this is an ideal cooler. It's not cheap, 77.00 but it'll give any air cooler a run for it's money, it's silent and most of all you don't have to worry about your 8 gigs not fitting.

With that being said, the CM212 could also work... you'd just have to research it first to make sure you get ram that'll work. I just don't know.

Also keep in mind that benchmark I linked ran both the 920 and 860 at stock speeds. Of course the 860 will pull ahead in that scenario as it has a higher base clock. Overclocked @ 3.6 each of them will perform on par with one another, the 920 pulling ahead in a few due to triple channel memory, the 860 pulling ahead in a few due to lack of nb and DMI. 920 still makes for a better work rig, while ironically enough 860 has better gaming potential.
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January 23, 2010 9:20:12 PM

1.35v kits? A bit overkill if you ask me. 1.5v kits are still under the recommended 1.65 max for 1156.

Save yourself $50 with x2 of these:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Honestly tho in my experience I cannot tell the difference between 4 and 8 gigs with a lot of programs running. A good SSD will make a much bigger difference imo.

You could cut ~$250 off with a i5 750 and single x16 MB. I see so many threads where people say they want to crossfire/SLI later on when the cards become cheaper, but in reality when the prices actually go down there is usually a much faster card available that uses less power with new features by that time. Just sell your card if you want to upgrade and buy the fastest single card you can afford. Your electric bill will thank you :) 
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January 23, 2010 9:26:53 PM

For a gaming rig, no doubt 750 is the way to go. But he's also stated that he's using this as a Photoshop and Video Editing rig. With that being the case he's going to see the performance boosts that Hyperthreading offers. It's also the reason he wants more than 4gb of memory.

The reason I suggested a 4x2 kit instead of 2x 2x2 kits was for compatibility reasons. It's not uncommon at all to buy 2x 2x2 kits and end up with identicle ram that won't post. With 2 kits you can have different binnings. You increase your potential of memory errors significantly this way. The eco G.Skills were just one of the three kits that were all the least price.

Crossfire vs Single card is a reasonable debate. That being said when I just recently purchased my new pc I was going to pick up a 2nd gpu for my wife's pc at the same time as the 4870 is starting to show it's age. Unfortunately because I decided to save 20 bucks on her build it wasn't an option.
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January 23, 2010 9:55:30 PM

a4mula said:
For a gaming rig, no doubt 750 is the way to go. But he's also stated that he's using this as a Photoshop and Video Editing rig. With that being the case he's going to see the performance boosts that Hyperthreading offers. It's also the reason he wants more than 4gb of memory.

The reason I suggested a 4x2 kit instead of 2x 2x2 kits was for compatibility reasons. It's not uncommon at all to buy 2x 2x2 kits and end up with identicle ram that won't post. With 2 kits you can have different binnings. You increase your potential of memory errors significantly this way. The eco G.Skills were just one of the three kits that were all the least price.

Crossfire vs Single card is a reasonable debate. That being said when I just recently purchased my new pc I was going to pick up a 2nd gpu for my wife's pc at the same time as the 4870 is starting to show it's age. Unfortunately because I decided to save 20 bucks on her build it wasn't an option.


I've never had a problem with compatibility when buying 2 of the same kit at the same time. I can maybe see if you bought them a couple months a part, but there shouldn't be a problem if you order them together. Really though if two kits with the same model number don't work together I would switch brands.

I don't disagree with you that the i7 has more performance...its more about the price/performance difference. Is the i7 worth ~$250-300 more overall for a small performance gain in a few applications? Not including gaming which was his #1 priority listed.

The 4870 is still a decent card and plays most games at medium/high settings depending on the resolution. You can easily get $100 for it and use that money to buy a new dx11 card.
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January 23, 2010 10:23:02 PM

To go with an i7-860 is a 80$ upgrade. It's still 1156. I also suggested a Xeon X3440 which is also 1156 for only 40$ more. They both have HT. In the big picture, especially if you're doing anything other than gaming I'd personally say it's worthwhile. But that's just my perspective.

As far as the RAM thing goes, I have a 2x2gb G.SKill kit sitting in my closet right now that wouldn't post with another kit that was bought at the same exact time. Same model numbers. They were supposed to go in my wife's build last year. I'm too lazy to rma. Is that indicative of all kits? No, probably not. It could be an isolated incident. However if you browse G.Skills forums for even a minute you see it happening quite frequently.

I agree entirely that a SSD will make a larger difference in everyday operations. I can't see myself ever building another pc w/o one. That however is a project many don't feel like tackling atm and rarely do I suggest them if they haven't already been brought up. It requires quite a bit of work out of the box to setup properly and then maintaining it regularly to keep it at near new performance. Admittedly TRIM has taken most of the work out of maintenance. Windows 7 does a much better job than Vista at initial setup, it's still far from "plug and play".
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January 23, 2010 10:38:34 PM

The i7 860 runs @ 2.8 compared to the 2.66ghz i5 750..not a big deal if your overclocking. Just for a comparison here is anandtech's review of the i7 860:
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=364...

On the photoediting benchmark the 860 beats the 750 by 1.7 seconds which is a 10% difference...until you factor in the difference in clock speed 2.66 to 2.8 (5%), so HT has a 5% performance lead in photoediting and a 0% performance lead in games.

It really comes down to how much money your willing to spend. Either way you go I'm sure you will be satisfied with the speed increase from your old rig.
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January 23, 2010 10:56:03 PM

There's another thread floating around where I had a link to a Photoshop specific benchmarking of the 860 vs 750. I can't find it now. It showed increases of 10-25pct depending on the type of work being done.

I agree that hyperthreading is questionable overall. It increases heat, it makes overclocking more difficult and its benefits are marginal for the most part. That being said there are certain programs that do benefit. Video Editing and Photoshop top that list.

We also have failed to take into account overclocking. That 10pct you have will only get larger as the 860 gets closer to 4ghz.
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January 23, 2010 11:38:21 PM

i7-860 BUILD

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: immediately

BUDGET RANGE: 1500-1700 after rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, photoshop/film editing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com - United States

PARTS PREFERENCES: I prefer Antec cases, Intel chipset, 6-8GB ram, SATA 6GB/USB 3.0 MB, and ATI GPUs

OVERCLOCKING: Yes - but first time trying it

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, but later - was looking at but not married to a 5850, and considering a crossfire set-up when the price drops for a second card

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200 firm

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: See above

*** The i7-860 Build ***

CPU - $279.99
Intel Core i7-860 Lynnfield

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

RAM - $239.99
G.SKILL ECO 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

OS and GPU Combo Deal - $384.98
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders and SAPPHIRE 100282SR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card w/ATI Eyefinity - Retail

HD - $89.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

OPT - $27.99
Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD/CD Rewritable Drive - OEM

CASE - $159.99
Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
or if it will fit...
Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower

PSU - 109.99
SeaSonic S12D 850 Silver 850W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Active PFC Power Supply

COOLING - $77.89
CORSAIR Cooling Hydro Series CWCH50-1 120mm High Performance CPU Cooler

TOTALS
With FedEx 3Day Shipping and Tax I am landing at $1,789.96, $10 more than the i7-920 build; both builds would be ~$55 less if I can get away with the Antec 902 mid tower.

I guess the main question is which build is best, i7-920 or i7860? I plan to OC for sure.

Also, do I need AC5 thermal and/or more fans to optimize this cooler? Never used a liquid system and the reviews are all over the place for proper set up (push/pull, etc.).

Thanks again for your help and advice.
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January 23, 2010 11:54:09 PM

900 will work for 5870. It might not however work with the CM212, double check.

I guess it depends. With the 860 you're picking up 2gb ram (dual channel however) and better cooling.

Both are going to perform and overclock within a hair's bredth of one another. I personally feel as though the 1156 is going to be a touch more stable as it will stay cooler relative to the 1366.

Of course 1366 has advantages. It can do 3x sli/crossfire. It will support Gulftown. It will probably (undeterminable atm) perform better in SATA/USB III. You also have the option of adding additional ram down the road.

The 1156 will have a lower overall operational cost. It'll support Sandybridge.

From what I've read the H50 is great as long as you make sure that the rad's fan is setup as an intake, as opposed to exaust. This is counter-intuitive as it usually installs on the back exaust plate. This, along with the fact that you lose the fan that normally cools the hsf is the reason I don't recommend it for 1366 systems, but due to the fact that the 1156 doesn't have the hot ass northbridge it should be perfect. It comes with the fan you need. Push/Pull has shown to provide very little if any additional cooling.
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January 24, 2010 3:53:53 PM

If you're worried about your budget, or are looking to save as much as you possibly can, you might want to consider using Bing Cashback for your purchases. Tigerdirect orders through Bing Cashback will get you an 8% refund (I just bought a 5850 there for $299 w/ 8.3% BCB = $275). Also, SuperBiiz/eWiz gets you 5% BCB. Newegg was at 2% over the weekend.

The 1TB SAmsung Spinpoint I bought was $89 - $10 promo + 5% BCB at Ewiz yesterday. Also, CM 212 HSF $28.99 + 5% BCB, i5 750 CPU $194.99 - $10 promo + 5% BCB = $175. I've earned $50.55 in BCB so far. The catch is you've got to wait 60 days for the cash to clear, before you can request a check. Still, it's cash either way.
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