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System Upgrade

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March 1, 2010 6:13:27 PM

Due to the continuing SATA controller problems of my LGA 775 socket Nvidia 680i LT chipset MB, I am starting the last "major" system refresh of my current system. The end goal of the upgrade is to have a 3 22" monitor Eyefinity based system that is capable of playing games such as WoW, Fallout 3, Morrowind, Civilization 4, etc. of the current game generation at near max or max details and games of the "next generation" at moderate settings. As such, the current system and purchased parts for upgrade, stage 1:

UPS: CyberPower 1000VA/600w http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Note): Due to the power grid in my area, all major electronics are protected by UPSs and Surge Protectors in my home. This was included in this post as the maximum power draw of 3 22" monitors and the computer itself cannot exceed this unit's maximum output.

Current Monitor: ASUS 22" 2ms GTG TN panel http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Upgrade 1): 2nd monitor of the above type has already been purchased.
(Upgrade 2): (Will require a DisplayPort capable monitor. Not planned until the actual graphics purchase post-Nvidia Fermi release to hopefully drop ATI Radeon pricing.)

Case: Antec 300 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Fans x 4: 120mm Scythe Slipstream http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(Old MB): EVGA 680i LT (LGA 775)
(Upgrade 1 MB, already purchased): Gigabyte P45 LGA 775 MB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: Intel E6750 http://processorfinder.intel.com/details.aspx?sSpec=SLA...
(Note): I am a single/duel task computer user. As a result, the maximum number of open programs running at any one time on my system will be the OS processes, "the game," a single Google Chrome window with 2 or 3 tabs, and the background processes of Adobe Flash, etc. I will, in another year or two, buy a used LGA 775 Intel quad core CPU as the CPU upgrade for the system. (When "the majority of people" have started their upgrading to the Core i5 & 7s.)

CPU Cooler: Sunbeam Core Contact http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Note): Vertical installation blowing up into the 140mm top mounted exhaust fan of the case.

Ram: Crucial Ballistix 4 x 1 GB DDR2 1066 (Best link available = ) http://www.cdw.com/shop/products/default.aspx?edc=12036...

Current Main Graphics Card: EVGA Nvidia 9800 GT 512 MB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Upgrade Graphics Card): ?

Current PhysX Card: EVGA Nvidia 8600 GTS 256 MB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Upgrade to Crossfire will be done on the new MB if required when Crossfire/Eyefinity graphics mature. In this event, a new PSU will be required for the system. This isn't an issue, as one of the Corsair units from Newegg around 750w will be purchased.)

Current PSU: Enermax Liberty 500w http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive(s): Seagate Barracude 7200.10 320 GB Sata 2 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
(Note): (A decision on the raid configuration has not been made. I have 4 of these drives available, thus I could run a Raid 1+0 on the system.)

DVD Drives:
1. ASUS 18x DVD+R with Lightscribe, PATA(IDE) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2. Lite-On 20x DVD+4, SATA http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

(Current OS): Win XP Pro 32 bit OEM
(Upgrade 1 OS, pre-purchased): Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit, retail

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When the current upgrades are done, I will have the following:

P45 chipset MB (Crossfire capable), LGA e6750 Duel Core (running at ~3.0 Ghz OC'ed), 4 x 1 GB DDR2 800 at 4-4-4-12 (OC'ed), a single 9800 GT 512 MB, ? HD configuration, 500w Quality PSU, Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Questions/opinions requested:

1a. Which of the 5xxx series graphics cards would you recommend for the current duel core CPU with the requested game settings? (5770, 5850?)
1b. Does anyone have any experience fitting one of of the 5xxx series cards into an Antec 300? (Can you confirm that a X card will fit.)
1c. With your recommended graphics setup, would you recommend a PSU upgrade?
1d. Does the recommendation change once I purchase a used quad core CPU? If so, which graphics card/setup then?

2. Does anyone have any experience, good or bad, with the Intel Matrix Raid Configuration on the P45? (Example: With the many problems I experience in my attempt to run the original Raid 5 on my Nvidia board, I resorted to not using any raid at all.)

3. Any current recommendations on Display Port monitors in the smaller size? Or, would the purchase of a 3rd 22" monitor and an Active Adapter be cheaper for the setup?

Thank you in advance.

More about : system upgrade

a c 84 B Homebuilt system
March 1, 2010 6:45:28 PM

1a. Nothing less than the 5850. I'd get the 5870, but there's a slight problem
1b. Anything up to the 5850 will fit in the 300 without a problem. The 5870 fits, but it's very tight.
1c. Yes, but mostly because it's not a high quality unit. A single 5xxx card will not need a huge amount of power.
1d. No. Gaming is almost entirely GPU driven, so the CPU doesn't matter too much.

2. No, but I've heard that if you really need RAID to work right, you should buy a RAID card.
March 1, 2010 6:51:33 PM

Just my 2 cents, but if you are spending cash on this system, why not go for a new mobo that handles ddr3 and maybe an i5 or i7?
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a c 84 B Homebuilt system
March 1, 2010 6:57:16 PM

Or a cheaper option of AMD. A good, future proof i5 base would cost about $500, while an i7 would run closer to $800.

A good AMD base would be the X3 425 ($72), Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 (if you want the option to Crossfire) ($125 after rebate), and G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 ($115). That'd only put you out $312.

That board would use any AM3 CPU, with prices ranging from $61 to $160, so there are a lot of options depending on what you want to spend.
March 1, 2010 7:33:43 PM

This is an upgrade on a budget and within an overall "house upgrade" plan. (I recently built a AMD Phenom 2 720 based HTPC/light gaming pc for the living room, and I understand where you are coming from.)

However, the point of this upgrade is to give the system a continued life of a couple of years, since my "one task at a time" style will allow the duel core to continue to function well.

In this regard, the system's upgrade:

1. The MB has already been purchased, caught when it was on sale for $110 shipped.
2. The new graphics card, depending on recommendations and pricing in 6 months to a year, will be ~$150 to ~$250.
3. Another monitor will be ~$140 + ~$100 adapter. (Or, buy a display port monitor for X price.)
4. A close friend of mine will be upgrading from his Intel Quad Core socket 775 build in a year or so. (And, I will have the option of buying discounted/being gifted his processor for building his new pc.)

My mate has a similar system with nearly identical stats as mine, but they need more cores due to have a "multi-tasking" computer use style. Thus, they will be getting a completely new Core i3 or i5 build.

I will have a replacement CPU (another e6750, and potentially the quad core), 4 x 1 GB DDR2 Corsair Dominator, another Enermax Liberty 500w PSU as a backup, and addition disk drives to replace failed ones.

My mate will be running a 9800 GT SLI duel monitor setup. (My "old" card, and their current 9800 GT.)
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All of this is why I am asking for the recommendations that I am. (Plan ahead, look for sales.)

Thus:

Graphics (6 months to a year, following Fermi release): 5770 CF, 5830, 5830 CF, or 5850. (Matching for processor(s) and hopefully PSU.)

Raid setup background.

Monitor opinions.
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