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Build Advice (CAD and Gaming PC)

Last response: in Systems
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March 17, 2010 1:26:39 PM

Hi guys, I'm looking to build a new PC for myself. But I have quite a few questions, hopefully you'll be able to help.

Here is what I am looking at:

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-790FXTA-UD5 I've never known too much about motherboards - how is this one? Is there a better choice?

Graphics Card: XFX ATI Radeon HD 5770 XXX Edition 1024MB

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 PC3-12800C8 1600MHz

HDD: Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA-II 32MB Cache

Optical: Samsung 20x DVD±RW SATA Dual Layer with Lightscribe

The system will be used for general computing as well as CAD and some gaming.
So my first question is, how does this set up look?

I also need some advice on a power supply. I'm not sure what I will need but I would like it to be adequate enough so that I can add crossfire, and have the option to overclock. The case I would like is the Lian Li PC-P50R Armoursuit - would I have enough room in this if I need to add a larger cooler or even water cooling?

Lastly [I think], I am slightly long sighted, but never bother to wear glasses, so I need a monitor which displays text crystal clear - any recommendations?

Apologies for all the questions - software wise I find my way round pretty well, but hardware - I've still not taken the plunge into building my own :p 
March 17, 2010 2:38:24 PM

You'd do better if you followed the guidelines (link in my signature).

Few changes:


CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $265 after rebate. Cheaper board with a cheaper CPU, especially with the combo. The X4 955 and 965 are the same chips, just the 965 has been given a slight overclock. You can overclock the 955 to 965 speeds on the stock cooler, or as high as possible on either with a good aftermarket cooler (included below). There is almost no difference between the boards.

GPU: HD 5770 $150 after rebate. The XXX version of the 5770 is also factory overclocked. It takes 3 clicks of the mouse to overclock a 5770 using ATI's software. Something to note: if you're looking to get a 1920x1080 monitor, the 5770 will struggle with newer games at that rsolution. You may want to consider stepping up to the 5850.

RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115. Faster sticks at the same price.

Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $125. You're spending WAY too much on the case. This is a great combo with a case that's big enough for your uses (even if you get the 5850). Another option is: HAF 922 for $90 and the same PSU for $75. If you want to eventually Crossfire with the 5850 option, you may want to consider the Corsair 750W 80+ for $100 after rebate instead of th 650W.
March 17, 2010 2:45:55 PM

Thanks for the advice, and sorry about the format - I completely forgot, it has been a while since I used TH.

You mentioned about the graphics card struggling at 1920x1080 (which is what I plan to be running at). I have just been looking and from www.overclockers.co.uk I can get two 5770's for the same price as one 5850. Which would be better?

Some people tell me two GPUs is always better than one as it splits the load, others swear by the fact that one "big" GPU is better than two lesser ones.
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March 17, 2010 2:49:52 PM

I'd recommend going with one bigger one, as that may allow you to upgrade/stave off obsolescence by adding another (of the same model) if you feel your frame rates are starting to suffer in a year or so.

If you start off with 2 cards, you end up limiting your upgrade options, as you're pretty much locking yourself into buying a new card (or two) when your fps start to go down hill.

In short: 1 card - upgrade with either a 2nd card or buying a new card
2 cards - only feasible upgrade path is 1 (or 2) new cards
March 17, 2010 2:52:44 PM

Technically, the two 5770s are slightly better. However, I recommend getting the one 5850. Here's why:

1.) There aren't many games that can use Crossfire. So for several titles, you will be reduced to using one card.

2.) You lose an upgrade option by Crossfiring right away. So if you ever need more graphics power, you're going to have to shell out a boatload of money for more power. If you go with a single card, that upgrade would be a lot cheaper.

3.) Less power demand.
March 17, 2010 2:59:12 PM

That makes sense. I did really want to keep the total cost under £1000, which is why I was looking at the 5770.

But like you say - if I'm going to start having to buy 1 or 2 new cards in a year or two then I'm going to end up spending even more.

I'd like to future proof this build as much as possible seen as though it's my student loan paying for it, I can't build another one any time soon.
March 17, 2010 3:02:50 PM

1000 GBP and only a 5770? That's about $1,500. You can do a whole lot more with that budget. Price this out below. It should be fairly close to the budget...

CPU: i5-750 $200
Mobo: Asus P7P55D-E Pro $190
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
GPU: HD 5870 $380
HDD: Seagate 7200.12 500 GB $55
PSU: Corsair 750W 80+ $100 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $23

Total: $1,153.

Also, check out these changes to see if they're in budget:

Mobo: Gigabtye GA-P55A-UD3 $135
GPU: HD 5970 $700
March 17, 2010 3:08:45 PM

£1000 is if I have to buy a new monitor as well, I should have mentioned that. The rig itself I didn't want to pay more than £800.

Like I said it's my student loan paying so I need it to be the best bang for buck i.e. as cheap as possible but still powerful enough to last me until after my degree has finished, so 6 years +, If that is possible of course.

I know by choosing AMD I might need to update the processor before then, but it seemed to work out a lot cheaper than an i7 build, which is what I originally wanted.
March 17, 2010 3:15:42 PM

6+ years and staying current isn't really possible. You should be able to reach 5-6 years with a couple of incremental upgrades in years 2,3,4.

If you want that sort of longevity, I'd say stick with AMD, get a newer AM3 board, and expect to upgrade at least the graphics card in 2-3 years. Assuming AMD is still on the AM3 socket at that point (seems likely, at least way more likely than Intel still being on current sockets), you could consider an CPU or RAM upgrade around the same time as well.
March 17, 2010 3:21:51 PM

That first build should be right on the edge of 800 GBP. If it's over, switch to AMD with these changes:

CPU: X4 955
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4

6+ years is not possible. I'd say that five years is even iffy, but possibly if you're willing to drop some serious cash into it after three or four years.
March 17, 2010 3:31:20 PM

It would give you less than an AMD build, more than an i5-750 build. Intel tends to throw away their sockets each time they make a new CPU class. The new six core CPU (i7-980X) just came out, so Intel's next advancement will likely be on a new socket. AMD has said that they will be keeping the AM3 socket for a few more years. The LGA1156 socket (i3/i5/i7-8xx) will not see any more powerful CPUs than what is already out.
March 17, 2010 3:33:20 PM

OK, thanks.

Now I don't suppose you know much about monitors do you? I need one that shows text really clearly.
March 17, 2010 3:45:57 PM

They'll all show text cleary. Just get a good sized 1920x1080 monitor. Asus and Hanns G are good quality and usually pretty cheap.
March 17, 2010 3:59:11 PM

Not in my experience. My current monitor is a 20" LCD but is not what I'd call crystal clear.

I have plugged my current PC into my HDTV and the quality is amazing, but I can't use that all the time.
March 17, 2010 4:06:56 PM

Typically, HDTVs have lower text quality than a monitor. I'm going to take a guess here, but when it's plugged into your TV, are you sitting across the room from it instead of right up close? If so, it's your eyes that are making the monitor appear fuzzy.

If that's the case, I would recommend trying a setup with your current monitor placed at a further distance from where you sit. If the text becomes clearer, try using that setup all the time.
March 17, 2010 4:07:07 PM

Is your current 20" monitor running at its native resolution? Any LCD monitor will look like crap if it's not running at its native resolution.
March 17, 2010 4:33:33 PM

The contrast on my TV is pretty high so I assumed that was the reason. No I'm not sat across the room from it as I had to switch back to my wired mouse and keyboard.

The distance thing: I've tried various set ups, it basically just boils down to fact that my monitor sucks lol.

Oh and yes it's running at it's native resolution, 1680x1050.
March 17, 2010 6:30:04 PM

The most obvious reason could be that the TV has a resolution of 1920x1080 (assuming it's a 1080p). Higher resolutions means everything is sharper. Other than that, I can't see a reason for the difference.
March 17, 2010 6:33:32 PM

I don't know if clearer text or bigger text would help you. A lot of monitors from 21.5" up come with a 1920x1080 resolution. The smaller monitors have a clearer picture because of smaller pixels, but the picture is also smaller. I use a 21.5" Samsung 1080 monitor and I really like it. The text is very clear and easy to read.

I would go to a retail store and check out some monitors in person. That way you'll be able to see what monitor size works best for your eyes.
March 17, 2010 6:42:23 PM

Yeah I'm thinking that's what I'll need to do. I was just hoping someone could recommend one or two.
March 17, 2010 6:45:31 PM

I could recommend a couple, but what I like and what works for my eyes likely won't be what you like and what works for your eyes. Sorry to be stubborn, I just don't want you to buy a monitor based off of a forum recommendation and find out that it doesn't work for you. You're much better off just picking one by first hand experience.
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