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Long-term all-purpose $1500US PC (gaming, encoding, etc)

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February 21, 2010 6:47:14 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This weekend if possible, really want to stop sharing a PC with my wife
BUDGET RANGE: $800 - $1500 - prefer to pay $800, but the things I want cost more!
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Whatever I might want to do or play in the next 5 years or so, World of Warcraft, encoding DVDs from recorded TV, PhotoShop, web surfing
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com is great, but just looking for the best deals
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.A.
PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel Core i-series
OVERCLOCKING: Probably going to gently overclock i7-920
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not in the near future
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 2048x1152
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Hoping for a quiet build, want to use some of the same parts when I build a new slightly-less-expensive PC for my wife so they're comparable reliability & diagnosing problems
[edit]Also - would prefer a "clean" look with no side window or LEDs on the case... but other than the side window I really like what I've read about the Lancool PC-K62[/edit]

I tend to keep my PC for a long time, only upgrades are typically hard drives (or new optical drives when those newfangled DVD writers came out...) My current PC is a Pentium 4 2GHz, the one before that was a Pentium-II 400MHz... In the past I've tended to buy components to "future proof" my PCs, but by the time I finally upgrade anything, everything is obsolete and I end up building a new PC.

I was happy with my GeoForce 5200 FX until my old 1024x768 CRT died, for obvious reasons I'm not as happy in games now that it's driving a 2048x1152 display.
I may buy an LED-backlit display in the future, will probably stick around 1920x1080 with the new display.

Here's what I'm thinking about so far:

Intel Core i7-920 Processor
$142 in a private deal - one of the reasons I'm going with this CPU...
Could also get i5-860 for the same price, but I'm thinking the i7-920 might keep me happy for longer, over the next few years it may be better to have more threads and more memory bandwidth

GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$209.99

LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$99.99

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$74.99

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$29.99
(Since I plan to overclock a little bit... not too aggressive since I want the system to be rock-solid stable)

OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$159.99

XFX HD-587A-ZND9 Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB XXX Edition 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$409.99
(It pains me to spend more than $100 on a video card... but I'm afraid I'm going to be sorry if I don't, given my monitor's resolution)

The above RAM and GPU are available in a combo if I order in time...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$543.98

Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Black SATA Model AD-7240S-0B - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$27.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3EG HD203WI 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$179.99
(I currently have a 1TB drive, 200MB and 120 MB, they all have ~5-10% space free... probably another reason I'm not happy with my current PC's performance :-))

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$139.99
(I want to be able to access via remote desktop... XP mode is good too)

Excluding the CPU, total is $1297.91, which becomes $1,433.01 with $28.02 shipping and $107.08 sales tax
Plus another $35 if I don't make up my mind before the combo expires :-)

Will these parts work together?
Can I do better without spending more money?
Given that the only upgrades I'll probably do within the next few years are more disk space, and SSD and Blue Ray writer when prices become more palatable, am I overspending on anything?
February 21, 2010 11:57:37 AM

Honestly, if you want a machine that will max out any game 5 years from now, you'll need to wait about 3 years. In 2015, Crysis VII will probably require a 16 core 256ghz processor, 4 terrabytes of RAM, and a Radeon Tesla card powerful enough to generate a tiny wormhole in your apartment. Assuming you don't have extremely high DOD clearances and less money than the GDP of a 3rd world country, you're just not going to be able to buy a system that will run absolutely everything for the next 5 years.

If however you would suffice for something that could play WoW on max settings now, and maybe even max out some other games like COD:MW2, and still be a decent PC in 2-3 years, I'd be happy to make some recommendations, but it'll be at the top end of your budget, if not stretching it a bit. So let me know if we shall proceed or if you would like to rethink your strategy.
February 21, 2010 12:41:27 PM

Looks just dandy, to me. (I did just wake up, tho).

Nice case .. other nice cases are half that much $$ but we do understand.
PSU looks perfect.
I have not checked but I'm guessing a generic Crucial mem kit might be cheaper.
I like Plextor, LiteOn for DVD-R .. LG for BRD. ... Sony? EZ Firmware Updates?

I'd be proud to own it as originally spec'd, tho.

= cheers =
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February 21, 2010 1:31:53 PM
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Looks good.

I'd personally recommend http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Windows 7 Home Premium Upgrade though, I installed it clean on my new system, no Vista or XP needed, and it comes with its own Key.

I also recommend the P6X58D Premium mobo, though it may be out of your budget, I thought it was worth it to have onboard USB 3.0 and SATA 6 GB/S, and it's an amazing board overall, but around $90-$100 more. The UD3 may have those, I can't remember. But check it out if it's not too much to spend.

I noticed you got a PSU that was SLI/XF certified, if you're planning on running SLI or XF in the future, I would recommend the Corsair 850TX, to have plenty of power, and a whopping 70 Amps on the single 12V rail, if you're OC'ing this will be a major plus for stability.

EDIT: Make damn sure that Lian Li case will fit the 5870. You'll need around 11.5 inches MINIMUM clearance from the I/O panel to the back of the HDD enclosure frame, if I'm not mistaken, you may want to search here or google for people that have measured this exactly. The HAF 922 is $99 on amazon right now with free shipping, and it's pretty much a full tower minus an inch or two on one demension. It for sure fits the 5870. Oh and I recommended Win7 Home Premium Upgrade but just noticed you said you wanted Pro. That's fine, just get the upgrade edition because (I forgot to mention why I recommended it) you can only install System Builders editions on one mobo EVER. If you ever change your mobo, you have to buy a new copy of Windows.

Here's the Win7 Pro Upgrade link http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EDIT2: BTW, I'm pretty sure Remote Desktop is available on my Home Premium. Check to make sure you can't save a ton of money and get HP Upgrade for $109 and still get the features you think you need.
February 21, 2010 2:31:28 PM

Yeah ... IF you see (2x) SLI in your future .. 680W-850W is not overkill. ... BUT ...

Several of us, here, think SLI/xFire has a VERY limited future (PCIe3.0 etc.,) and a top-end dual-proc (16x Single slot) can get you most of the way "there".

Also, drives (ssd) and procs and gpu's are trending much lower in power consumption, for the future so, unless you need another space heater . . .

. . . I see 850W as plenty, even for 3x SLI. (unless extreme O.C., etc.).

= Al =
February 21, 2010 8:08:24 PM

Thanks Babachoo and Alvin!

The X58A-UD3R does have USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s, is there anything I'd gain for the extra $90-$100 for the P6X58D?

I don't see SLI or Crossfire in my future (unless I suddenly gain an interest in a game that a single 5870 won't handle), should I still buy the 850W power supply?
I'm very very very interested in stability. But I'll also pay more if it means saving more money on my electric bill, I figured the 650W would give me a little overhead without wasting too much energy.

The LanCool PC-K62 case specs say "Fits ATI & NVIDIA graphics card to max. 290mm long", 11.5 inches is around 292mm... I do see a couple of YouTube videos that show a 5870 in the K62 case, so I'm thinking it should work... unless the XFX card is longer than the Sapphire shown in the first video.

The main reason I'm interested in the PC-K62 is for the sound dampening... if there's a case that's just as quiet and cools as well that has a clean look and doesn't have the side window, I'd be interested.
February 22, 2010 4:43:26 PM

Here's a link that compares the two boards.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

And yeah, that case will fit it, glad you found that info. And personally, I would go ahead and get the 850 because you never know what configuration you might end up wanting. You're already spending a good amount of money, you might as well make it something that will be VERY versatile in the future.

After viewing that comparison, I'm reminded that the UD3 only has 4 RAM slots, but really for tri-channel memory you should go with 6 slots.
It also appears that the UD3 doesn't support 1600mhz RAM, which is pretty standard for PC12800 DDR3, like the OCZ kit you selected.
The UD3 also only has 2 PCI16 slots versus 3 on the 58d premium.
Also, it appears the UD3 DOES NOT have Sata6 and USB3, according to that comparison, towards the bottom.

IMO the choice is clear, go with the P6X58D Premium.
February 22, 2010 4:57:01 PM

I am using a HAF 922, have a 5870, and Hyper 212+ in it and the machine Whispers. Not to mention is a great case for cooling...

It has a front red LED fan that can be turned off with a switch if you do not like the lighting.
February 22, 2010 5:09:19 PM

the haf 922 is a good case, maybe also take a look at the cm690 II, which will have plenty of room for your card and runs cool and quiet.

edit: also you can turn the front LED (the only one in the case) off with a button on the top panel.
February 23, 2010 1:11:55 AM

babachoo said:
Here's a link that compares the two boards.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...


Except that's not my Gigabyte board at all! :) 

Try this comparison:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...

For $100 less, I get an extra PCI Express x16 slot (at x8), an extra PCI Express x1 slot, and 2 more SATA ports, while supporting RAM at slightly faster speeds. I do lose a standard PCI slot, though...

I'm going to do some more hard thinking about the power supply... especially since mine only has a bare minimum of PCI-Express connectors.
February 23, 2010 3:07:46 AM

16+2 phase power on the Asus
Terrible layout on the Giga from what I've heard, and something about USB 3.0 not working unless the PCI slots are empty.

Plus, to be that cheap, it's probably absolute crap quality.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cheap-x58-motherboa...

And only 4 RAM slots?
February 23, 2010 5:02:38 AM

Well, again, that review and number of RAM slots are for a completely different motherboard... :??: 
February 23, 2010 6:14:08 AM

Then get what you want, but keep in mind that you get what you pay for. The layout and bandwidth sharing of the Gigabyte's PCI slots are terrible.
March 3, 2010 7:11:15 AM

Personally for such an application this is exactly the only time I'd say, get an i5 instead. It's much cheaper, does all the stuff you want it too. Esp. since you're willing to overclock.
March 3, 2010 11:34:20 AM

Just read a benchnark article comparing i930 to AM3 BLACK QUAD ...

I was left with the notion that the core components (mb/cpu/ram/cooler), of the AM3 Setup, would end up yeilding 80% of the performance (of an i930) for about 50% of the cost.

So, it really depends on how much the user's time is worth. If the user is a Pro who charges $60+ to provide $600+ in profit or "value add" then, obviously, the extra 50% cost (about $550 on a system) would be "neglegable, compared to the gains which might be leveraged with the extra CPU power.

That's what I remember it said, anyway.

= Al =
March 3, 2010 11:46:48 AM

And, I am now considering, seriously, (currently doing egg-builds) what I might save by downsizing from my $3500 i930 dream build (for video editing). That price included dual 27" displays and I'm also gonna ditch those and jack into my (already own) 52"/1080p HDTV (and a 22" 1080 I own, as well).

Those two changes would drop my price (total guesstimate) by ~$1150 to a new total of $2,350 and, might be able to shave or dispense w another $200 (somewhars).

Tempting ... Having an i930 *COULD* save me over 90 minutes on an 8 hour render/transcode and, as a "local pro" videographer, that *might* make a difference in a deadline.

What to do ... ?

= Al =
March 3, 2010 11:50:45 AM

you pobably wont need windows 7 professional however i reomend buying retail for the fact you can re-formant/re-install as many times as you need to incase something happens latter down the line. With oem you get one time install and that is it!! Just the heads up... And buying the upgrade would just be like buying oem so you might as well just buy oem! They are the same price for a reason! That person who used the upgrade as a system install may find out later down the line that some windows updates might not work correctly because silverlight only finds one activation key with an upgraded system....
March 3, 2010 11:55:52 AM

as far as everything else it looks good! although i could recomend cutting cost and going for an am3 phenomII quad core and then buy retail windows (you want 5 years out of this computer retail will be better) the xfx card is great because of the double lifetime warranty that covers overclock. Great psu and I would personaly go with this board...

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

it has usb 3.0 and sat 3.0 for future proofing and supports the am3 for half the price of the intel processor and is an awesome board all together.. it also supports crossfire for later down the line when that gpu just dont cut it anymore and you want to add another.. (thinking 5 years here)
March 14, 2010 1:46:09 PM

Hey, I got your PM. Let me know if you're still looking for input, or have any specific questions. Sorry for the delay. :) 
March 22, 2010 12:25:21 AM

Best answer selected by fundragon.
March 22, 2010 12:26:48 AM

Had to give props to babachoo for the pointer to the P6X58D, did some more research and it does sound like an awesome quality board!
March 22, 2010 1:44:57 AM

Alvin Smith said:
Yeah ... IF you see (2x) SLI in your future .. 680W-850W is not overkill. ... BUT ...

Several of us, here, think SLI/xFire has a VERY limited future (PCIe3.0 etc.,) and a top-end dual-proc (16x Single slot) can get you most of the way "there".

Also, drives (ssd) and procs and gpu's are trending much lower in power consumption, for the future so, unless you need another space heater . . .

. . . I see 850W as plenty, even for 3x SLI. (unless extreme O.C., etc.).

= Al =

what's this? PCIe3.0? when is that coming out? I am close to building a computer but I may think twice if its soon...
March 22, 2010 1:54:44 AM

so which board is the consensus better board? I heard good things about gigabyte as a brand..also alvin can you PM me your 'dream build' that you talked about? I'm curious to see what it includes..
March 22, 2010 8:17:42 PM

motamedn said:
what's this? PCIe3.0? when is that coming out? I am close to building a computer but I may think twice if its soon...


There was an article in the news last year that said that the release of the future specs of PCIE-3.0 would be delayed until at least Q2 of this year, and that products that support the tech wouldn't be on the market until 2011. I would guess that PCIE-3.0 won't be hitting shelves on consumer grade electronics until AT LEAST Q3 of 2011, but that's just an estimated guess.
March 22, 2010 8:24:51 PM

darkjuggalo2000 said:
you pobably wont need windows 7 professional however i reomend buying retail for the fact you can re-formant/re-install as many times as you need to incase something happens latter down the line. With oem you get one time install and that is it!! Just the heads up...


Seriously? This is dead wrong.

With an OEM version, your install is tied to the motherboard it's activated on. This can be a pain if you end up upgrading to a new motherboard, but it's certainly not a "one and done" install.

If you have a hardware failure that requires a motherboard replacement and the reinstall complains, you can call Microsoft, talk to them, and they may give you a new key to use.

For most users on this site, there isn't a lot to be gained by going with a retail copy. Unless you think you'll need to call Microsoft for support a lot, or if you plan on using the OS on multiple consecutive builds, there's really no reason to go retail...it costs over double the OEM version.
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