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Best value among 3 build options?

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January 22, 2010 8:41:22 PM

Great forum! I'd really appreciate any advice you all can provide...

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: this week
BUDGET RANGE: 700-900 After Rebates
SYSTEM USAGE: some gaming, surfing the internet, video editing/rendering, photo editing
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: GPU (reusing 4850 512GB for now, will upgrade later), Monitor (will upgrade later), keyboard, mouse, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE FOR PARTS: Microcenter (near by), newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: No brand preference, just prefer quality
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (future upgrade)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: This will be my 1st build. Trying to weigh pros/cons of each potential build option and find the best value. Would like something that I can upgrade over time and use for the next few years. Also need advice on a case.

I have outlined 3 build options below, followed by my perceived pros/cons for each:

Build Option 1: Intel 1366

CPU: Core i7-920, $230 @ Microcenter
MoBo: ASRock X58 Extreme, $155 @ Newegg.com after rebate http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM: OCZ Gold XTC 6GB DDR3-1600 CL8, $140 @ Microcenter after rebate http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650, $100 @ Microcenter http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500gb, $55 @ Newegg.com http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OS: Windows 7 OEM, $110
Case: No idea, but no more than $100
Total: $890

Pros: 2 x16 PCIe channels for future GPU expansion, higher end socket and more "future proof"?
Cons: Higher cost (worth the extra$?), no USB 3.0


Build Option 2: Intel 1156

CPU: Core i5-750, $190 @ Microcenter
MoBo: MSI P55-GD65, $160 @ Microcenter after rebate http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
RAM: OCZ Gold 4GB DDR3-1600 Gold CL8, $80 @ Microcenter after rebate http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650, $100 @ Microcenter http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500gb, $55 @ Newegg.com http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OS: Windows 7 OEM, $110
Case: No idea, but no more than $100
Total: $795

Pros: Lower cost, more efficient processer, USB 3.0
Cons: 2 x8 PCIe channels, less memory than i7-920 configuration


Build Option 3: AMD AM3

CPU: Phenom II X4 955, $166 @ Microcenter
MoBo: Asus M4A79T 790FX, $190 @ Microcenter http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
RAM: OCZ Gold 4GB DDR3-1600 Gold CL8, $80 @ Microcenter http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650, $100 @ Microcenter http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 500gb, $55 @ Newegg.com http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OS: Windows 7 OEM, $110
Case: No idea, but no more than $100
Total: $801

Pros: Lower cost, 2x16 PCIe channels for future GPU expansion
Cons: No SLI support, less memory than i7-920 configuration, no USB 3.0

More about : build options

January 22, 2010 10:04:14 PM

Right now the p55 with USB3 isnt that great. You should be able to get a PCI USB3 controller once they get the kinks worked out of them. I would say since you render and photo edit that the i7 920 system is a reasonable choice, as long as you are not sacrificing graphics card quality to get it.
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January 22, 2010 10:14:32 PM

i would get this motherboard for the am3 system:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

a lil cheaper, but has sata 6 and usb 3.0, and all around better. also, look at this build:

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

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

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

that is more or less better, and cost 698.93, so you can easily fit in a combo with a 4870 (or sell your 4850 and get a 5770/5850) hope this helped. and to anybody who disagrees, am3 is going far, 1156...well maybe not, and the difference isnt really even noticably, since in either case, the vid card would give out first. o and @ TheBlueBus, sorry for being under budget :D 
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January 22, 2010 10:18:53 PM

^+1 dndhatcher... i7 920 is the better option.

I really like the new RC-690 II for under $100 or my favorite budget case is the Antec 300 Illusion (which I believe has a combo with the EA650) from Newegg.com
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January 22, 2010 10:21:59 PM

If the objective is to get the best gaming performance for the money then going AMD and buying a stronger graphics card now is the way to go. If rendering is more important and you find the 4850s performance adequite then the i7 920 makes more sense.
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January 22, 2010 11:03:19 PM

tecmo34 said:
^+1 dndhatcher... i7 920 is the better option.

I really like the new RC-690 II for under $100 or my favorite budget case is the Antec 300 Illusion (which I believe has a combo with the EA650) from Newegg.com


tecmo34,

Is this the RC-690 you are referring to? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, is the Antec 300 deep enough to support the longer GPUs? (if I opt to upgrade in the future, I'd like to have room) I see a combo with an Antec 600+Earthwatts EA750 PSU. The 600 looks a little deeper, but is it still a good case?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
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January 22, 2010 11:12:35 PM

ares1214 said:
i would get this motherboard for the am3 system:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

a lil cheaper, but has sata 6 and usb 3.0, and all around better. also, look at this build:

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

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

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

that is more or less better, and cost 698.93, so you can easily fit in a combo with a 4870 (or sell your 4850 and get a 5770/5850) hope this helped. and to anybody who disagrees, am3 is going far, 1156...well maybe not, and the difference isnt really even noticably, since in either case, the vid card would give out first. o and @ TheBlueBus, sorry for being under budget :D 


Ares1214,
Thanks for the info.
I haven't done much research on Ocz PSUs. Are they pretty well respected?
Also, you mention that the "AM3 is going far". Do you mean that it's a fairly future-proof socket? Am I correct in assuming that I wouldn't be able to use nVidia SLI and could only do ATI Crossfire in the future?
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January 22, 2010 11:50:22 PM

ocz psus are among the best, and that particular one is highly used, and respected. and yes, just like am2+ is compatible with am3, and am2, am3 will be compatible with am3+. am3 or am3+ will 100% be supporting 6-cores, 32 nm, and futuristic cpus, and am3+ will probably be made to support 8 cores. 1156 might end after i3, but nobody knows. and no, the amd setup would favor ati, but it should be able to use nvidia, and right now, ati is convincingly on top, so it would not really matter so much.
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January 22, 2010 11:54:07 PM

Hey, I'm doing my first build too and have been researching alot of the same stuff. As far and future upgrades go the 1366 is solid, but the 6 core intel chips will cost a pretty penny being the cutting edge technology and carrying the intel name. If you know you'll want the ability to get into intel 6 cores that's the way to go. I think the 1156 socket is the new consumer grade platform and will be around for awhile too seeing that it just was introduced, but I doubt it will ever get 6 core cpu's. Keep in mind though the current top 1156 chips are competitive with the top 1366 ones as far as performance and efficiency. The 1156 is a solid platform. The AMD am3 looks like it will be compatible with the new amd 6 core cpu's. If you want to get on the 6 core train on a budget, than AMD is the way to go. Core to core though, my sense based on what I've researched on the internet the AMD cpu's aren't quite as fast as the intel though they give everything you need for your needs you mentioned in your post so AMD could be the way to go to be 6 core compatible on a budget.
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January 23, 2010 12:02:47 AM

right, also the am3 is 100$ cheaper, and i have a 955 (got it when it first came out) and have made an i5 build, both oc'ed to the max, and i must say, the 955 is much more "friendly". also, i have tried to max the 955 out, literally 40 internet pages, 2 games, and half of the windows programs, oo and some music downloading, and i couldnt max it out, my 8 gigs of ram gave out way before it did, and in MOST games, the gpu gets maxed WAY before the cpu, so basically a core 2 quad could get the same fps as a i7 paired with a 5970. and, above 45-60 fps isnt even noticably better, so it really doesnt matter, for example:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-versus-i7,23...

a 955 vs a i7, and they are very close, and both over 45
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January 23, 2010 12:56:44 AM

thebluebus said:
tecmo34,

Is this the RC-690 you are referring to? http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, is the Antec 300 deep enough to support the longer GPUs? (if I opt to upgrade in the future, I'd like to have room) I see a combo with an Antec 600+Earthwatts EA750 PSU. The 600 looks a little deeper, but is it still a good case?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

I was actually talking about the RC 690 II Advance ( http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d.html/ref=redir_mdp_mobile... ) that seems to be sold out on Newegg now.

The Antec 300 will have some issues fitting the 5870's & 5970's of the world but is a good case. The Antec 600 is interesting but it hasn't "wowed" me so far to recommend it. I would take either of the CM 690's over the Antec 600... IMO
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January 23, 2010 1:00:36 AM

the lian li is bigger, better, and cheaper adding in the psu and mail in. looks about the same though...
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January 23, 2010 11:42:25 PM

Thanks for the feedback everyone.

Would the AMD build benefit significantly if I upgraded to 8GB of RAM instead of just 4GB?
If so, that extra $$ would put me pretty close to the cost of the i7 920 build.

This is such a difficult decision... I had no idea it would be this tough!
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January 23, 2010 11:57:49 PM

to be honest, i have a 955, and 8 gigs, and it is hardly even taxed at all, even with vista ultimate, so 4 should be enough.
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January 24, 2010 3:40:24 AM

There is no way you are putting a 12 inch 5970 into an antec 300 (without doing some structural welding). The 11 inch 5870 might even require scraping 1/8th of an inch or so out of the HDD rails to let it fit. My 10.5 inch 9800 GTX+ is about 1/2 inch from touching the rails.
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January 24, 2010 9:51:25 PM

dndhatcher said:
There is no way you are putting a 12 inch 5970 into an antec 300 (without doing some structural welding). The 11 inch 5870 might even require scraping 1/8th of an inch or so out of the HDD rails to let it fit. My 10.5 inch 9800 GTX+ is about 1/2 inch from touching the rails.


Yeah, I kind of figured that that case might limit me on future upgrades. I'll probably go with the LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 that was recommended above with the combo including Ocz 700W PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

...or splurge a little on the combo that has an Antec Nine Hundred Two with an Earthwatts 750W.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
I figure both those cases will allow me to use bigger cards if I opt to upgrade the GPU in the future.

Now I just need to pull the trigger on the CPU decision. I've been reading a lot of the test articles here on Tom's and they make the Intel setups look more appealing for day-to-day tasks than the AMD chips. I like that the i5 750 is so much more efficient than the AMD 955 and i7-920, but I'm still a bit bothered that the i5-750's PCIe is limited to 16 lanes (x8 + x8 in crossfire). I know their tests show that it doesn't make a real difference today, but I'm concerned that it could cause a limitation with future GPUs if I opt to do a major GPU and SLI/Crossfire upgrade in a year or two.

I'm also bothered that the 1156 socket might not support the next generation of 6-core CPUs.

I suppose it's ultimately a decision of whether I want a more efficient chip today (1156) vs a potentially more "future proof" socket (1366... and AM3?) vs lower performance/cost (AM3).

Man, I wish this was easier! :pt1cable: 

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