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Need Advice: $2000 Gaming PC with i7, Crossfire/SLI, and a SSD?

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January 28, 2010 9:15:46 PM

I'm looking to build a decently high-end gaming pc that will hopefully not go above the $2000 price point after all is said and done. I currently only play games like: cs1.6, cs:source, TF2, L4D, L4D2, and QuakeLive - but would like this machine to last me upwards of 4-5 years without needing to upgrade.

I also expect to do a LOT of multi-tasking while games are running and even more-so when they're not running.


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Middle of February, 2010
BUDGET RANGE: $2000 After Rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT:
  • Gaming
  • Heavy Multi-Tasking - Music/Movies/Surfing the web/etc
  • Small amounts of video editing

  • PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com - assuming this is the cheapest
    COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: Washington, USA
    PARTS PREFERENCES: The only preference I have is that it contains an i7 processor, an SSD, and hopefully Crossfire/SLI video
    OVERCLOCKING: Yes
    SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, definitely preferred (if I can keep it in my price range)
    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
  • I'm not sure if I should go with 2x5870's, or a single 5970. Anyone have thoughts or opinions?
  • I've also been wondering if I should go with NVIDIA over ATI - since most of my games are Steam/Valve games. Will this (ATI/AMD vs NVIDIA) have any affect on the games I play?
  • I'm currently only using a single monitor


  • Here are the parts I've been looking at so far:


    Case:
    COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - Price: $109.98 - $20.00 Instant = $89.98
    or

    COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail - Price: $159.98

    PSU:
    CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail - Price: $199.99 - $30.00 $20.00 Instant = $179.99

    Motherboard:
    ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - Price: $309.99 - $25.00 Instant = $284.99

    Processor:
    Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail - Price: $288.99

    RAM:
    G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI - Retail - Price: $184.99
    CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMX6GX3M3C1600C7 - Retail - Price: $189.99 - $10.00 Instant = $179.99

    GPU:
    DIAMOND 5870PE51G Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video ... - Retail - Price: $404.99 *2 = $809.98
    or

    SAPPHIRE 100280OCSR Radeon HD 5970 (Hemlock) 2GB 512 (256 x 2)-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Dual GPU Onboard CrossFire Video Card w/ Eyefinity - Retail - Price: $649.99
    DIAMOND 5970PE52G Radeon HD 5970 (Hemlock) 2GB 512 (256 x 2)-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support ... - Retail - Price: $679.99

    HDD:
    *Which one has the 2 500GB platters? That is most likely the one I'll want to purchase*
    Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - Price: $109.99 - $10.00 Instant = $99.99
    or

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - Price: $89.99

    SSD:
    Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2XXX 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM - Price: $289.95
    Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2M080G2R5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - Retail - Price: $299.99

    SSD Bay Converter:
    SilverStone SDP08 3.5" to 2 x 2.5" Bay Converter - Retail - Price: $7.99


    DVD:
    SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223C - OEM - Price: $24.99

    HEATSINK:
    None. Any recommendations? Is the stock one sufficient?
    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail - Price: $29.99

    FANS:
    None. I suppose this depends on my case, but I do need some recommendations here.
    Quote:
    You don't need additional fans with that case. It already has great airflow and cable management systems, so you should be set.


    Artic Silver 5:
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - Price: $9.99
    Arctic Silver MTX-2.5G Matrix Thixotropic Premium Thermal Compound - Retail - Price: $6.49


    Total:
    $2,268.85 (with Western Digital HD)
    or
    $2,258.85 (with Samsung HD)

    $2,306.82 (with 2*HD5870)
    or
    $2,146.83 (with HD5970)

    $2,301.82 (with 2*HD5870)
    or
    $2,141.83 (with HD5970)

    $2,211.83
    $2,182.33
    $2,164.38
    $2,204.38

    As you can see I would like to try to lower my price to try and hit $2000, if possible without sacrificing performance on any level. Please let me know what you all think of these parts and definitely feel free to make suggestions. I'm looking for any critiques as well - perhaps I think I need 2 video cards, but won't see any performance benefit by having two. Things like that are what I'm looking for advice on!
    January 28, 2010 9:25:04 PM

    le0pard said:
    Stuff!


    Very nice build so far - virtually identical to the one I'm putting together, except I haven't gone for an SSD yet.

    HDD: You want the Spinpoint F3 - it has the 500GB platters.

    Cooling: You need a HSF if you're going to be overclocking. 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 is the best value in cooling right now at $29.99. It should be more than sufficient for your needs.

    You don't need additional fans with that case. It already has great airflow and cable management systems, so you should be set.

    SSD: Do you really need it? It will speed up your boot/load times, but won't impact your gaming much. Is it worth the $300 to you? If not, that would give you some more space to consider adding a second GPU.

    Also, keep in mind that if you buy an OEM SSD, you need to get a bay converter to mount it. SilverStone SDP08 3.5" to 2 x 2.5" Bay Converter - Retail will do, $7.99.

    GPU: Personally, I don't see much reason to wait for nvidia's latest offering. There are no guarantees that it's going to outperform ATI's 5xxx series cards, and it almost certainly won't come cheap. As between 2x5870 or 1x5970, that's sort of up to you. Benchmarks tend to show 2x5870 performing a bit stronger than 1x5970, but at that level of performance, even a single 5870 will slice through just about anything you throw at it today. However, if you are planning to go CF down the line, the 5970 is a better value with current prices ($650 for a 5970 vs. almost $800 for 2x 5870). ATI's cards should perform perfectly in the games you play.

    At the end of the day, crossfire'd 5870s vs. a single 5970 just comes down to your preference.
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    January 28, 2010 10:03:36 PM

    restatement3dofted said:
    Stuff! :) 


    Wow, well if you're building a system nearly identical to what I proposed it must be because great minds think alike!

    Thanks for all of this info you provided as well as the reasoning behind the suggestions or questions; it really is good that you pointed out the SSD bay converter as I would have totally missed this if you hadn't! I'm going to most likely stick with the SSD, even with the steep price I can't help but feel I will really notice the advantage of installing my OS onto that drive. Since you posed a good argument for a single 5970 versus two 5870s, I've updated my list above to show the same system depending on which GPU I decide to choose so that myself and others can get a good look at the price differences. I really like that with the single 5970 I'm getting closer to my $2000 price point that I would liked to hit. Also, as you said, even with the single 5970 - I won't notice a performance decrease when gaming for quite some time.

    I've also added that CPU cooler by COOLER MASTER that you suggested, for the price I can't disagree that I shouldn't add it to my soon-to-be system :) 
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    Related resources
    a c 230 4 Gaming
    January 28, 2010 10:06:17 PM

    Consider the Antec 1200 / CP-850 PSU as an alternative. Case is bigger / cooler option and is comparable to the HAF 922's big briddah the 932.....The Antec PSU matches the Corsair HX electrically while being considerable quieter. Both get a 10.0 performance rating on jonnyguru.com but only the CP-850 makes the Editor's Choice list at silentpcreview.com)

    http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_PSUs
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/article971-page7.html

    The Antec CP-850 is a superlative power supply by almost any standard. Its electrical performance is up at the level of its more expensive brethren, the Signature 650 and 850, and Seasonic's flagship, the M12D-850: Voltage regulation is extremely tight for all the lines at all loads, and the ripple noise is amazingly low.

    The noise performance is excellent, with the <400W performance matching or bettering virtually every PSU tested thus far. Above 500W load in our heat box, the noise level goes over 40 dBA@1m, or about the norm for PSUs rated this high. It has the virtue keeping itself extremely cool, however, cooler than any other PSU we've tested at such high loads. This is ridiculously quiet for such high power output.

    The above is an obviously unfair advantage for the CP-850... but what of it? Antec has used an integrated systems approach for its CP-850 and its best cases, and if that approach is an advantage over all other case/PSU combinations, then, all the more power to Antec!

    For the quiet-seeking computer gaming enthusiast, the CP-850 (along with any of the three compatible cases) is something of a godsend. Fantastically stable power, super low noise at any power load, long expected reliability due to excellent cooling, modular cabling, and all at a price that's no higher than many high end 6~700W models.


    http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

    We have an Antec 850W that performs better than an [Antec] Signature that appears to cost less than a Signature. We have a unit that was promised to do 80 Plus standard, but ended up doing Bronze. No, the unit didn't quite match the Signature in terms of voltage stability, but it came real close. And to be honest, the differences in voltage readings were so small you could put them down to connector resistance. And since the ripple and noise suppression more than made up for the slightly less stable voltages... [Performance Rating =]10.0

    If the CPX form factor catches on, the CP-850 will be flat out untouchable. It is completely unmatched by any ATX unit on the market I can think of. You'd have to spend twice as much as this thing costs to find the next best thing, performance wise. I'd like to see some better capacitors in there, but you just can't fault the CP-850's performance here.

    I don't know how Antec managed something this awesome for such a low price, but they must really want the CPX form factor taking off if this is the performance we're getting.


    Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The WD Black 2 TB is a good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):

    (http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...[2371]=on&prod[2770]=on)

    Memory - This is faster and cheaper

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

    If ya wanna spring for CAS 6 .... cost ya $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Heat Sink - For performance and ease of installation, the Prolimatech Megahalems fits both criteria. Here's what I'm putting in new builds Mega w/ IC Diamond TIM and twin Scythe PWMfans (make sure ya MoBo can handle the fan wattage). ($95 for the HS, TIM. two PWM fans and a Y cable splitter). Should have no trouble hitting 4.4 Ghz in the Antec 1200 with the Megahalems.

    http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8807/cpu-pro-01/Proli...
    http://www.frozencpu.com/products/7038/thr-41/Innovatio...
    http://www.frozencpu.com/products/10026/fan-639/Scythe_...
    http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8418/cab-150/FrozenCP...

    If that's a budget breaker, look at the Xigmnatec S1283 or one of the others here:
    http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_Heatsinks
    http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm#INTELHEATSI...
    http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

    I'm down on the AS5 because of it's 200 hour cure time.

    Case fans....with twin GPU's, the 1200 allows for the installation of two optional fans for video card cooling....with one GFX card, wouldn't bother....w/ 2 GFX GPUs (the 5970 has two GPU's, the 5870 in Xfire has two GPU's), I'd want the two fans and yes....w/ two GFX cards and, OC, I'd move up from the 922 to either the 1200 or HAF 932.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    As for timing ..... Intel usually schedules their price cuts at or after the end of February.....so I am thinking mid march may be the time to buy. In addition, regardless of how the Fermi's perform, it should put some price pressure on ATI to drop their prices at least down to the original MSRP's saving you $20-30 per card. I'm thinking we'll see independent test results come mid March, so if you put off ya build for a month, ya may be able to save some $$ on CPU and GFX.

    As for the nVidia / ATI choice.....the only downside to the 5870 / 5970 is if you are into PhysX....if ya don't know, see this:

    http://www.firingsquad.com/hardware/batman_arkham_asylu...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/batman-arkham-asylu...

    If ya think those effects are worth an extra $65 investment (some will, some won't) grab an nVidia 220 and do the driver thing (requires Win7) described here:

    http://www.tomshardware.com/news/nvidia-ATI-physx-patch...
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    January 28, 2010 11:09:29 PM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    Stuff! :) 


    Wow, thats some very good information regarding that specific power supply. The problem with me moving over to that AND the other case is that it would end up costing me even more $ than I already am spending. So, while it does seem like an amazing PSU, I just cannot justify the cost right now.

    As for the Seagate hard drive you suggested, I'll definitely look into that. The price is nearly identical to the Samsung that I'm already looking to get so I might be willing to bump my price for the additional speed if used when gaming.

    I'll take a look at the combination heat sink you mentioned. I would definitely like to be able to over-clock my machine up as high as it can go without harming the parts so having a heat sink that is rated so highly would definitely be a no-brainer. Once I take a look at the reviews and such, I'll most likely add it to my list above.

    Good info on when the prices normally drop. It is something I could wait for, if I know the prices are going to be worth not having a computer for the entire month of February (might be hard to do, considering how addicted to games I am). Although saving that money is a huge plus!

    I like that 932 case, even though it is a bit more money :(  - I'm adding it above to get an idea of the price differences. I like that it has many fans - although I bet it collects dust like none-other too! :) 
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    January 30, 2010 7:41:27 PM

    One of my only questions left is where I will be able to pick up a 5790. Newegg doesn't seem to have any in stock. Anyone have any recommendations where I can get one when I do end up buying this system? I was hoping to order everything straight from newegg, but it doesn't look like I'll be able to.
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    February 2, 2010 12:57:49 AM

    Bumping this to see if anyone can give me recommendations on a possible different motherboard? I have heard a lot of people talking about the P55 as being a better motherboard for gaming. Is this true?

    Current choice: ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - Price: $309.99
    vs
    ASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - Price: $189.99

    What type of impact would that have on my other parts in terms of needing to swap them them out for something more compatible? (RAM for example)
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    February 2, 2010 1:30:24 AM

    I'm not sure about the P55 vs X58 chipset gaming question, but if you choose the P55 chipset you will no longer be able to get the I7 920 since a P55 board has a 1156 socket. You can still select an I7 just not the 920.

    The P55 chipset takes dual channeled ram so you have 4 DIMM slots for ram instead of 6 DIMM slots that the X58 has. You would have to select ram that comes in 2 sticks instead of three. Both still take DDR3 ram 1600.

    If you need to cut it to $2000, I would probably select a smaller SSD hard drive (around 30-40 gb). I think Intel has a 40gb one for around 130.

    $2,211.83 - ~160 = 2051.83
    I'm sure you could find a combo for some of your items to drop the additional 50 dollars off. Here is the MoBo/CPU combo you have selected that is $15 dollars off. http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/ShoppingCart.aspx?sub...
    There might be a better combo with one of those items.
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    February 3, 2010 8:59:45 PM

    bkhollan said:
    I'm sure you could find a combo for some of your items to drop the additional 50 dollars off. Here is the MoBo/CPU combo you have selected that is $15 dollars off. http://secure.newegg.com/Shopping/ShoppingCart.aspx?sub...
    There might be a better combo with one of those items.


    Thanks for that info! I tried to look for a combo using each of the individual parts that I've got listed, but didn't find any deals that matched up with any of my other parts. Perhaps the deals come and go too quickly and I missed out on the one you were referencing.
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    February 3, 2010 10:58:52 PM

    -here is a build, should be under 2K

    -Intel Core i7 920=288.99
    -Asus P6X58D=284.99
    -Intel 80GB G2 X25-M=299.99
    -Antec 1200=159.99
    -ATI Radeon HD 5970=649.99
    -Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB=49.99
    -Coolermaster Silent Pro RS850-AMBAJ3-US=139.99
    -Coolermaster Hyper 212+=29.99
    -Artic Silver 5=6.99

    ^I think it adds up to $1910.91
    -That leaves 90 dollars not including your ODD, OS, and RAM. I would recommend getting in a 1600mhz ram with cas 8 or lower. OCZ tends to perform very well and is sometimes a little less expensive. You can lower the cost of the PSu by switching to non-modular CM/OCZ one but you'll be fine because your case would be very big, CmHAF932 is a bit cheaper then the antec1200 but is also a tiny bit smaller, take your pick. And you can get a cheaper cooler then the hyper 212 +. If you want gaming performance, and the keep the cost lower, drop the SSD.
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    a c 230 4 Gaming
    February 5, 2010 1:07:50 AM

    le0pard said:
    Wow, thats some very good information regarding that specific power supply. The problem with me moving over to that AND the other case is that it would end up costing me even more $ than I already am spending. So, while it does seem like an amazing PSU, I just cannot justify the cost right now.


    Ya lost me :) 

    Your Case / PSU = $330
    Suggested Antec alternate = $270

    You save $60 and get a quieter PSU w/ the Antec combo.
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    February 5, 2010 3:10:32 PM

    JackNaylorPE said:
    Ya lost me :) 

    Your Case / PSU = $330
    Suggested Antec alternate = $270

    You save $60 and get a quieter PSU w/ the Antec combo.


    Hmm.. some how when I looked before, the combo seemed more expensive. My mistake :pt1cable:  - Thanks for pointing that out to me. I'll definitely look into that case/psu combo if it will save me some money. I'm not too worried about the noise level, but for the price it is worth looking into.
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    February 8, 2010 4:39:13 PM

    All of my parts in the first post were just ordered. Thanks everyone for the help and ideas on getting the best machine for my money :) 

    I might try to post pictures of the machine once I build it. :D 
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    !