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Best bang for the buck - Core components for under $600

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February 23, 2010 5:25:38 PM

I'm looking at replacing my Motherboard, Processor and Memory. I've currently got an Asus M2N-E, Athlon 64 X2 5600+, OCZ Platinum Revision 2 (OCZ2P800R22GK x 2) PC2-6400 (1GB x 4 = 4GB) Memory and a Sapphire Vapor-X RadeOn HD 4870 1GB. To power all of that, I've got an Ultra X3 (ULT40312) 850Watt PSU. What I want is the best bang for the buck that roughly $600 can buy. I've priced out a Core i7 920, GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R and Corsair Dominator 6GB (TR3X6G1600C8D) of Memory for $650 after tax and s/h. I would like to hear my fellow toms forum users opinions on what might be a better deal. Features I would like in the combo are...

requirements:

Minimum of (6) SATA II or faster connections, as I have (4) internal SATA II hard drives and (1) internal SATA dvd burner, soon to be upgraded to a bluray burner, though not part of this upgrade. I also have (2) E-SATA II external hard drives, soon to add a 3rd unit. I may resort to a pci-x e-sata card if needed. I'm heavy on storage needs.

Minimum of (6) DDR3 memory slots, as I'd like to go with DDR3 and Triple Channel Capability.

optional:

USB 3.0
Serial ATA III

I've found a Core i7 920 Retail Boxed processor at MicroCenter local to me for $199.99 plus tax, so I've added that processor to my consideration list. If I went that route, I'd need a solid upgradable motherboard (x58; are any other 1366 chipsets?) to go with it with the ability to utilize the upcoming Gulftown i9 processors. Would any other model in the i5 or i7 series be a better deal for the money and be capable of utilizing the i9?

Although I've been a faithful AMD consumer most of my 15 years in IT, I'm being swayed by all the Core i5/i7/i9 stuff that is out there. Any comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. If I'm missing any relevant info which would help in making this determination, let me know and I'll provide that. Thanks!

-- MaSoP

UPDATE: I do not intend to overclock this system, so that is not a requirement.

Best solution

February 23, 2010 5:30:30 PM

The board is fine. The cheapest SATA III/USB 3 board (and the best) is the Asus P6X58D Premium, but it's $310. If you get the G.Skill sticks below, and spend an extra $40, you can have it though...

That RAM is horribly overpriced. Either get these CL 6 Mushkins for $10 more or these G.Skill Pi CL 7 for $40 less.
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February 23, 2010 5:53:06 PM

MadAdmiral said:
The board is fine. The cheapest SATA III/USB 3 board (and the best) is the Asus P6X58D Premium, but it's $310. If you get the G.Skill sticks below, and spend an extra $40, you can have it though...

That RAM is horribly overpriced. Either get these CL 6 Mushkins for $10 more or these G.Skill Pi CL 7 for $40 less.


Well, here is a breakdown...

Option 1:

Intel Core i7 920 = $200
MicroCenter Tax = $12
G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory = $180
Asus P6X58D = $310
NewEgg S/H = $6
----------------------
$708

Option 2:

Intel Core i7 920 = $200
MicroCenter Tax = $12
G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory = $180
GigaByte GA-X58A-UD3R = $210
NewEgg S/H = $6
----------------------
$608

That actually puts me within a few bucks of my limit and both boards have the same features I'm looking for. My next question is, how much of a performance difference in the real world (synthetic benchmarks aside) does CL7 compare to CL8 or CL9 when it comes to the memory? Is it worth the extra cost (for most people) just to save 1 or 2 CL's?

-- MaSoP
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February 23, 2010 6:00:08 PM

To be honest, I've never seen any benchmarks for the timings. Tom's has an article about the speed, where they found that there wasn't much benefit from getting 1600 mhz over 1333 mhz sticks, but stated the reason was the lower timings available to the 1333 mhz sticks. Soon after that, most of the 1600 mhz/CL 7 sticks dropped to the same price as the 1333 mhz/CL 7 sticks, so there was no point in getting anything less.
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February 23, 2010 9:57:18 PM

MadAdmiral said:
To be honest, I've never seen any benchmarks for the timings. Tom's has an article about the speed, where they found that there wasn't much benefit from getting 1600 mhz over 1333 mhz sticks, but stated the reason was the lower timings available to the 1333 mhz sticks. Soon after that, most of the 1600 mhz/CL 7 sticks dropped to the same price as the 1333 mhz/CL 7 sticks, so there was no point in getting anything less.


Thanks for the info. I just read another post regarding an amd setup. Do you have any suggestions in regards to an amd phenom ii quad core setup, same as above, mb, cpu and mem only? Let me know. Thanks.

-- MaSoP
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February 23, 2010 11:59:01 PM

AN AMD build will not be as powerful as the i7. If you've got the money for an i7, I would not consider building with AMD. Right now, they are just not a high powered choice.
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February 24, 2010 1:27:25 AM

MadAdmiral said:
AN AMD build will not be as powerful as the i7. If you've got the money for an i7, I would not consider building with AMD. Right now, they are just not a high powered choice.


I hear ya. Finally, in regards to the i7 platform, how hot or cold do you think I should expect an i7 920 to run in a full tower system with decent ventalation, 4 hard drives along with the previously stated config? My 5600+ runs around 40-50C idle in my office which averages in the low 70's F. I've always had warm running systems on amd platforms. I keep hearing people with high powered processors running them in the 20's C which I see as near impossible without cooling solutions beyond standard air cooling or without a very cooled down environment/room. Any final points regaring this would be appreciated, as I put together my draft upgrade list, likely i7. Thanks.

-- MaSoP
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February 24, 2010 1:52:16 AM

MadAdmiral said:
The board is fine. The cheapest SATA III/USB 3 board (and the best) is the Asus P6X58D Premium, but it's $310. If you get the G.Skill sticks below, and spend an extra $40, you can have it though...

That RAM is horribly overpriced. Either get these CL 6 Mushkins for $10 more or these G.Skill Pi CL 7 for $40 less.


I think I'm going to go with the i7 platform and get the following... costing $395.97 from the egg and $211.99 from microcenter respectively, totaling $608...

G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
*
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...
*
Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So, that settles it. :-) Thanks for the comments and suggestions.

-- MaSoP
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February 24, 2010 1:52:23 AM

Best answer selected by masop.
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