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Gaming rig - i7 920 D0 or I5 750

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February 8, 2010 10:13:04 PM

Hi all,

Initially I starting spec'ing an i7 920 based machine but then after reading around I've seen that real world gaming performance the i5 750 seems quite close. I'm presuming this is because:

a) The games on the market aren't current making efficient use of the triple channel DDR3 or the Quad core hyperthreading technologies.
b) The Turboboost on the i5 750 is more efficiently utilised
c) All of the above
d) I'm reading the wrong stuff and have got it all wrong

Now, although the most likely answer to this is D, I have been putting together an i5 and i7 build and they seem very close cost wise. I'm wondering whether the parts I have selected for the i7 aren't comparable to the parts for the i5, especially RAM and MB. As a side to gaming I'd like to run multiple VMs occasionally, hence the necessity for 6-8GB RAM. Also note, I'll probably run Win 7 Ultimate 64.

Non processor specific parts:

ATI Radeon 5870 - £330
Prolimatech Megahalems Black Anodised Mega Shadow 6xHeatpipe Tower CPU Cooler for 1156 & 775/1366 - £47
Antec 300 Three Hundred Case - £45
Antec EarthWatts 750W Modular PSU - 80plus Certified 9x SATA 4x PCI-E - £80
300GB Velociraptor - £180
Total: £682

i7 Specific:

i7 920 d0 - £220
I7 ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 iX58 Socket 1366 8 channel audio ATX Motherboard £200
Corsair 6GB (3x2GB) 1600MHz Triple Channel i7 XMS Memory Kit CL7 1.65V - £150
Total: £570

i5 Specific:

i5 750 2.66GHz Socket LGA1156 £150
Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz XMS3 Memory Kit CL7(7-8-7-20) 1.65V Unbuffered Non-ECC - £115 x2 So £230
Asus P7P55d-E Pro - £150
Total: £530

Additional cooling: Case comes with 120mm rear fan and 140mm top fan

So, In summary:
£40 difference, so this is negligable
Both apparently overclockable to 4GHz
i5 has 2GB extra RAM
i5 build has support for SATA 6G and USB 3
i5 has better turboboost
i7 has hyperthreaded cores
i7 has triple channel memory
i7 build has better support for SLI or crossfire

It seems both have benefits but in different departments, the two builds both have pros and cons. I can't help but think I have missed something from the i7 build. I shall try and be concise with my questions to make it easier for everybody:

1) Is there something I have missed on the i7 build?
2) Apart from future resistance (SLI/crossfire and newer architecture), does the i7 have current real world benefits to the i5?
3) Are the Triple Channel i7 XMS and Dual Channel XMS3 Memory comparable (apart from the additional 64bit channel thing that is... not sure about XMS and XMS3 thing)
4) Is there a gaming bottleneck in these builds apart from the graphics card? With most games I have played L4D2, TF2, Dawn of War2, Bioshock, Mirror's Edge, Call of Duty 4,Red faction: Guerrilla it seems to be my underspec'd graphics card that seems to limit game play and not my AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+ OC'd to 2.61 or any other components.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,
Chooibah

More about : gaming rig 920 750

February 8, 2010 10:24:02 PM

General comments:

You don't need 8 GB for gaming. It's a waste of money.

I don't think the Antec 300 can fit an HD 5870. Get yourself the HAF 922. It's the best case right now.

VelociRaptors are a waste of money. You can get a bigger, faster, quieter, cooler Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB for a third of the price. Don't be blinded by the specs.

The Prolimatech is a good cooler, but the Coolermaster Hyper 212 is just as good at a third of the cost.

Take the amount saved on the VR and upgrade that GPU to an HD 5970. Take what was saved on the cooler and get a HAF 922.

Now the i5/i7 comments:

The i5 is definitely the better gaming CPU because it offers the same gaming performance for about $280 (US) less. Typically, this difference is used to upgrade the GPU. So after you reduce the RAM back to 4 GB, you should try cutting some more costs through deals and downgrades to afford the upgrade to the HD 5970. You should be fairly close to having in the budget.

1.) Actually, the i7-920 also has USB 3/SATA III boards. The most popular one to recommend is the Asus P6X58D Premium. There are a few others as well.

2.) Nope. And it actually doesn't have any real world benefits right now, as it's the OLDER architecture. The benefit from the dual 16x PCIe 2.0 slots is only 4%, and not noticeable. The only "benefit" is that you could pay the $250 to have the privilege to pay $1,000 in a few months for a 6 core CPU.

3.) They're the same sticks, just packaged differently.

4.) You can only have one bottleneck. And GPUs will continue to be the bottleneck for a long, long time.
February 8, 2010 10:24:50 PM

I think I met all of the post criteria apart from Country and preferred purchasing sites, so I'll add them in.
Country: UK (as you may see from me using £ :)  )
Preferred sites: or any trusted UK supplier (Quite security concious!)
Related resources
February 8, 2010 10:43:51 PM

I know you're in the UK. I just don't think well in pounds...
February 8, 2010 10:56:36 PM

MadAdmiral said:
General comments:

You don't need 8 GB for gaming. It's a waste of money.

I don't think the Antec 300 can fit an HD 5870. Get yourself the HAF 922. It's the best case right now.

VelociRaptors are a waste of money. You can get a bigger, faster, quieter, cooler Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB for a third of the price. Don't be blinded by the specs.

The Prolimatech is a good cooler, but the Coolermaster Hyper 212 is just as good at a third of the cost.

Take the amount saved on the VR and upgrade that GPU to an HD 5970. Take what was saved on the cooler and get a HAF 922.

Now the i5/i7 comments:

The i5 is definitely the better gaming CPU because it offers the same gaming performance for about $280 (US) less. Typically, this difference is used to upgrade the GPU. So after you reduce the RAM back to 4 GB, you should try cutting some more costs through deals and downgrades to afford the upgrade to the HD 5970. You should be fairly close to having in the budget.

1.) Actually, the i7-920 also has USB 3/SATA III boards. The most popular one to recommend is the Asus P6X58D Premium. There are a few others as well.

2.) Nope. And it actually doesn't have any real world benefits right now, as it's the OLDER architecture. The benefit from the dual 16x PCIe 2.0 slots is only 4%, and not noticeable. The only "benefit" is that you could pay the $250 to have the privilege to pay $1,000 in a few months for a 6 core CPU.

3.) They're the same sticks, just packaged differently.

4.) You can only have one bottleneck. And GPUs will continue to be the bottleneck for a long, long time.


Excellent and very prompt and informative response, thank you.

Memory: The 6-8GB is more for VMs, VMWare can utilise RAM to run VMs more efficiently. This is the only reason for this.... and to be honest it is very much secondry to gaming :D 

Hard Disk: I current have 2 Samsung Spinpoints, a 1TB F1 and a 250GB for storage, I may or may not use on of these in this system and an additional drive. The Velociraptor was mainly to improve game load times and the fact that GOOD SSDs are crazy prices for descent space so the Velociraptor would be OS, games and Steam games. Out of the things you listed (bigger, faster, quieter, cooler)... faster? really? Like you say, maybe I'm blinded my specs, but I just want to reconfirm that an F1 7200 spinpoint is faster that a 10000 Velociraptor as my brain does not want to accept it. This would be great as it is much much cheaper.

Graphics: 5970 is about £180-200 more than the 5870 and money saved on the VR would be about £120-130... but I love the suggestion, that is a dream card and you have confirmed my suspicions about bottlenecking.

Case: The HAF 922 is ugly.... but I can hide that away. Didn't realise the Antec 300 wouldn't be suitable so thanks. Would the cooling be okay as the case has 1 fan and if i had the 5970, i5 750 OC'd to 4.0Ghz and the Coolermaster Hyper 212?

CPU: i5 750... SOLD. Especially if i had the 5970 as it is the king (well, until the new Geforce GF100 maybe) so there should be no call for crossfire.... at least for a long time anyway.

I didn't expect that level of response so quickly. Thanks MadAdmiral, I owe you a beer.
February 8, 2010 10:58:10 PM

I was writing the UK thing as you were posting.... just out of sync. I wanted to follow board rules/suggestions :) 
February 8, 2010 11:03:37 PM

HDD: Yes faster. Check out the charts for proof (the link doesn't post well). It's because the F3 (and Seagate 7200.12) use 500 GB platters. Even if you have other drives, don't get the VR. Either go SSD or leave it out.

Case: The Antec 300 wouldn't fit the 5970. It's close in the Antec 900. The HAF is ugly though. One fan isn't enough IMO.
February 8, 2010 11:21:26 PM

MadAdmiral said:
HDD: Yes faster. Check out the charts for proof (the link doesn't post well). It's because the F3 (and Seagate 7200.12) use 500 GB platters. Even if you have other drives, don't get the VR. Either go SSD or leave it out.

Case: The Antec 300 wouldn't fit the 5970. It's close in the Antec 900. The HAF is ugly though. One fan isn't enough IMO.


I found the chart, average read benchmarks approx. 15% faster and a bargain at £37.58 from www.scan.co.uk. The HAF 922 and a 20cm Fan. I guess if I get a decent ~£10 120mm 2000+rpm additional fan (silverstone, thermalright etc.) Then this would be okay? 20CM exhaust and 120mm intake. Would that be right?

Thanks for your help with this, greatly appreciated!
February 9, 2010 1:11:01 AM

Is the extra fan for the Antec? That doesn't fix the problem of the GPU not fitting in the case. You might also want to look into the Antec 300 Illusion (again too small). It's generally $10 more expensive over here (the cost of 1 fan), but has an extra 2 fans, so it's a pretty good deal.
February 9, 2010 7:25:36 AM

Okay, not sure where I was looking yesterday but the site showed 1 side fan on the HAF 922 where in actual fact it has:

Front: 200 mm fan x 1 Red LED on / off fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA (can be swap for 120 / 140 mm fan x 1)
Top: 200 mm fan x 1 / 700 RPM / 19 dBA (can be swap to 120 mm fan x 2 )
Rear: 120 mm fan x 1 / 1200 RPM / 17 dBA
and bottom and side optional fan placements

I think the HAF 922 and Radeon 5970 is the way to go, the HAF seems to be well worth the ugliness :) 

I'm presuming the HAF with stock fans will be sufficient for an i7 750 OC'd to 3.5-4.0GHz and Radeon HD 5970 or is it worth getting another fan, just in case (bad pun intended)?
February 9, 2010 10:02:28 AM

The HAF with stock cooling will be fine.
February 10, 2010 7:56:05 PM

Okay, after looking at a few other cases (about 17 in fact), I'm now considering the Silverstone RV02 over the HAF 922. The machine will be in a second bedroom which will also be a guest room so the other half wouldn't appreciate the HAF and the Silverstone case doesn't seem to have any failings that I'm aware of, the reviews are excellent and it's looks a lot nicer. The only thing is the price is a bit higher but I reckon it's worth it so I don't get my shouted at :) 

From various sources, I have read that either, the 5970 fits the case, or you need to remove the fan grill so it should be okay space wise.

So, here my (mostly MadAdmiral's) new build for gaming and running multiple VMs (although not at the same time!):

ATI Radeon 5970 - £493.50
Coolermaster Hyper 212 - £20
Silverstone RV02 - £110
Antec EarthWatts 750W Modular PSU - 80plus Certified 9x SATA 4x PCI-E - £80
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB - £37
i5 750 2.66GHz Socket LGA1156 £150
2x Corsair 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz XMS3 Memory Kit CL7(7-8-7-20) 1.65V Unbuffered Non-ECC @ £115 - £230
Asus P7P55d-E Pro - £150

Total: £1270.50

1. Firstly, does this look okay? Is there anything stupid/pointless, anything that should be changed for a small price and large gain or anything I should consider?

2. For an extra £25 is the XFX 5970 Black Edition worth it? As I understand, the standard ATI and Sapphire cards can be overclocked if necessary and I can't find anything that tells me what the black edition has over the standard apart from exclusive OverVolt software which is an ATI tool anyway and available for all cards??? :o 

3. Is the PSU okay? if I decided to run 4 hard disks, OC the CPU to 4.0GHz and OC the 5970 (would be well in the future for that I'd hope!) would it struggle?
February 10, 2010 7:59:34 PM

1.) It all looks good.

2.) Doubt it. It's probably just factory overclocked, which you can do with literally 3 clicks of the mouse with ATI's Cataclysm Control Center.

3.) I believe the PSU should be fine. Just double check with this PSU wattage calculator.
February 10, 2010 11:35:11 PM

Awesome, so nearly there, very excited about this buid. Big thanks to MadAdmiral... you're a legend.

PSU wise I'm okay until capacitor degradation. Based on the PSU wattage calc, if I add a few components e.g couple of hdds, ssd, usb power consuming devices (you never know) plus overclock it's all okay, but add PSU capacitance degradation in the PSU and it's a whole different matter. I'm planning on using this build for potentially 3-5 years+, so would it be worth an 850 watt just in case? If so, what would be best for around £80 (~$125) plus or minus £30 (~£45)?

Is the Silverstone RV02 case rated amoungst the TomsHardware regulars? The only case I see recommended for these type of build is the HAF 922.

Many Thanks.
February 10, 2010 11:52:00 PM

You should be alright if you get an efficient unit.

I've heard of it, but the HAF is easily one of the best cases. It also has the lower price going for it.
February 12, 2010 7:18:36 AM

This build looks good, almost exactly what I'm thinking, and I'm also in the UK. So a question, where are you sourcing your parts from? I was hoping to buy all from the same supplier, overclockers, but they don't stock the Asus motherboard above. Is there any equivalent board on the overclockers site (does USB3, etc). I have heard the gigabyte boards don't do true SATA3 (or something along those lines).

Thanks
February 12, 2010 7:32:50 AM

It appears the motherboard is currently in stock at Dabs http://www.dabs.com/products/asus-s1156-intel-p55-ddr3-...
It does seem like either the board is extremely popular, or there just eran't many in the UK at the moment.

I'm not sure on suppliers at the momentt but I think it may be a case of using 2 or maybe even 3 different suppliers. It'd be great to use one supplier but I'd rather not change my build to suit that.

Suppliers I'm looking at are dabs, scan and ebuyer, I have bought from those suppliers before with no issues and I'm not very trusting of sites I haven't used before when I'm looking at these prices! :) 
February 12, 2010 7:46:38 AM

Thanks for the reply, I guess I'd rather compromise and buy from multiple sources and get the better board. I'm also looking at using a 5870 GPU rather than the more expensive 5970 and the difference will go towards a SSD. But not too sure on that, I can get by without the SSD for the moment, and they're sure to drop in price a lot over the next year.
February 12, 2010 8:17:33 AM

Dropping to a 5870 would save about £180 ish when I looked at it and the performance would still be pretty awesome... gotta love the 5970 though (until the GF100 hits the markets anyway... maybe :)  )

I initially considered an SSD, check out Toms charts for SSD performance as it seems to vary a lot. Personally, I was looking at the Intel X25-E 32/64GB as an OS drive but it really isn't cheap. I'm going to wait until the price drops and the sizes increase as it's game load times and VM speeds that I'm concerned about and 32 or 64GB isn't big enough. Also, these are SATAII and the new SATA (6G I think it's called) so it may be old tech quite soon and the prices will plummet.
February 12, 2010 10:17:00 AM

I agree that right now the SSDs are a little too expensive to really be considered. They are extremely fast, but they also have some quirks that need to be worked out (such as needed at least 20% free space).

If you were to buy one, Intel is the best choice.

They are starting to release some SATA III SSDs, but they aren't anywhere near the true 6 GBps yet.
!