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I7 gaming rig with room to grow

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Last response: in Systems
April 6, 2010 2:34:43 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: (1-4 weeks) BUDGET RANGE: (~$2000 ) After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: (gaming, watching movies, photo editing, surfing the internet, light video editing)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: (none)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: (newegg, tigerdirect[for the 8-10% Bing discount], amazon.com [I get 3% back on my credit card]) COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: (USA)

PARTS PREFERENCES: (will definitely be built around an i7 930 and Radeon 5850/5870)

OVERCLOCKING: (Yes, once I learn how) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: (Yes, Crossfire in the future)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: (no idea)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I am a first-time system builder looking to put together a gaming rig for around $2000 (I can go a bit over budget, but obviously would rather not). My main concern is to make sure I have enough headroom to do some overclocking and Crossfire in the next 1-2 years. I am totally clueless when it comes to displays, optical drives and storage. I’m open to getting a SSD if budget permits, but it’s not a must-have for me.


CPU: Intel Core i7 Processor i7-930 2.80GHz 8 MB LGA1366 CPU, Retail BX80601930

MOBO: ASUS P6X58D Premium Motherboard

GPU: Sapphire 100282TXSR Radeon Toxic HD5850 Video Card - 1GB, DDR5, PCIe, Dual DVI
*I’m trying to decide between this and the stock XFX version. I like XFX’s warranty, but the Sapphire promises to run faster, cooler and quieter. Also, will that giant fan on the Sapphire get blocked if I run two of them in Crossfire?

RAM: Corsair TR3X6G1600C7D Dominator 6 GB PC3-12800 1600 MHz 240-pin Triple Channel Core i7 DDR3 Memory Kit
*I’m concerned about the heat spreaders on these sticks. Will they make it difficult to install a CPU cooler in the future?

PSU: Corsair HX850W 850w Modular Power Supply - Single Rail, 80 Plus Silver

Case: Cooler Master HAF 932 Full Tower Black Case
*Not sure if I need a case this big; perhaps the 922 is enough?

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64BIT Operating System Software - OEM DVD, English

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

More about : gaming rig room grow

April 6, 2010 2:47:49 AM

MOBO This gigabyte is $100 cheaper with same features

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

GPU
Generally, company you get GPU from doesn't matter long as it's a known name. All of them offer 3 year warranty min, and GPU's don't actually last that long before going obsolete.

That said, a the $289 Sapphire 5850 is your best bet ATM.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Factory overclocking is for people who wanna pay ~$50 extra for the manufacturer to press 3 buttons for them in ATI overdrive...

RAM
Best deal right now is the G SKill PI DDR3 1600 7-8-7-24 $175

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

won't work with all HSF's, but the CM Hyper 212 Plus $35, my recommendation for HSF, will fit.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU a 750 Corsair is more than enough.

Case
HAF 922 is more than big enough. That thing is the size of most full towers. The 932 is bigger than your average Manhattan apartment =P.

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April 6, 2010 8:43:43 PM

Thanks for the advice guys.

banthracis, is there a reason the asus premium is priced 50% higher? Is it because the gigabyte only has 4 dimm slots instead of 6? Is it likely I'll want a second 3x2gb set in the future, or would that choke off bandwidth too much?

Also, I've read a few posts saying that both the asus and gigabyte will not be able to run Crossfire and USB 3.0/SATA 3.0 at the same time because they share bandwidth. Is this true, and is there a better board out there without this limitation?

jbakerlent, thanks for the recommendations. That Spinpoint seems to be a consensus top choice. Would you recommend a SSD for installing my OS, or is this technology still too overpriced?
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April 6, 2010 9:10:05 PM

flonkerton said:
Thanks for the advice guys.

banthracis, is there a reason the asus premium is priced 50% higher? Is it because the gigabyte only has 4 dimm slots instead of 6? Is it likely I'll want a second 3x2gb set in the future, or would that choke off bandwidth too much?

Also, I've read a few posts saying that both the asus and gigabyte will not be able to run Crossfire and USB 3.0/SATA 3.0 at the same time because they share bandwidth. Is this true, and is there a better board out there without this limitation?

jbakerlent, thanks for the recommendations. That Spinpoint seems to be a consensus top choice. Would you recommend a SSD for installing my OS, or is this technology still too overpriced?


Um, the Gigabyte has 6 slots and supports up to 24GB of RAM. As to why it's so much cheaper, well the ASUS was released much earlier and therefor had a much higher price premium. Why ASUS hasn't dropped that boards price is probably because it built up a reputation and they don't need to yet.


The USB 3.0 /SATA 3 issue is in 1156 gigabyte boards, not 1366 boards.

SSD's are very nice. The best buy for your budget atm would actually be 2 X25-V 40 gb drives in raid 0, now that TRIM is supported for Raid 0 in win 7. Drives are $125 each on newegg.
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April 6, 2010 10:27:44 PM

^+1 to the RAID x25s for the best performance. As to whether they are worth it, if I was making a new build with the same available budget as you have I would get them.
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April 6, 2010 11:12:32 PM

Case / PSU - For full towers, I have two "standard" configurations I recommend and it comes down to styling and budget. The HAF 932 / HX950 is one of them but as long as you've looked at the $229 Antec 1200 / CP-850 which saves ya almost $100, I don't have much to add. Comparable cases according to THG review; PSU's are comparable electrically, Antec is better acoustically. If using two GFX cards, I also like that you can add two additional fans to the mix in the 1200 which funnel fresh cool air directly on same.

MoBo / CPU - Would recommend that you stick w/ both.

RAM - Yes the Dominators and Gskills have hi heat spreaders which do interfere w/ many aftermarket heat sinks on many MoBos.

For less money you can do CAS 6 w/ the Mushkin 998691's $269
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or CAS 7 Corsair's for just $189
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Everything else looks just dandy ... though unless you are firmly in the ATI camp, I'd look at the 470's price when it comes out. Depending on where your gaming interests lie, it may be worth considering. In DX11 at high settings for example, the 470 has a substantial performance lead over the 5850....whether that lead is worth the price increase, we won't know for another week or so. Both cases are big enough w/ adequate cooling for two GFX cards from either vendor.

Monitor - If you need the color accuracy for photo editing, the Dell U2410 is the entry point for IPS panels and runs about $520 (normally $600) about every 3 weeks w/ specials announced on techbargains.com and fatwallet.com

If a TN panel will do, 1920 x1200 Asus model here is a great buy
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Pick a HS from one of the top 3 or 4 on one of these lists:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_Heatsinks
http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm#INTELHEATSI...
http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

pick a TIM from the top 3 or 4 here:
http://www.hwreviewlabs.com/index.php?option=com_conten...
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/therma...
http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

Personally, for performance and ease of installation, I find the Prolimatech Megahalems fits both criteria. Here's what I'm putting in new builds Mega w/ IC Diamond TIM and twin Scythe PWMfans (make sure ya MoBo can handle the fan wattage). ($65 for the HS, $7 for TIM, $11 each for two PWM fans and $7 for a Y cable splitter).

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8807/cpu-pro-01/Proli...
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/7038/thr-41/Innovatio...
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/10026/fan-639/Scythe_...
http://www.frozencpu.com/products/8418/cab-150/FrozenCP...

Skip the 2nd fan and splitter if you don't intend to go over 3.6 GHz or so

Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The 2 TB WD Black and XT from Seagate are good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):

(http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...[2371]=on&prod[2770]=on)

Look at the tests that reflect your usage and choose accordingly.

A $2000 rig has enough budget to consider an SSD .

As for the optical .... this is what I bouht, (includes 8X Blue Ray for movies) but it is a bit pricey.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4X can be had for less than half the price
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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April 8, 2010 3:24:29 AM

Wow, loving the input from everyone. Here's my thinking so far...

Case/PSU: I think I'll stick with the HAF 932 and Corsair HX850. While the Antec combo is intriguing with its nicer price and Antec 1200's reputation for being a better air cooler, I'm not crazy about investing in the new CPX form factor and potentially not being able to reuse my PSU on a future build. I also like the 932's reputation for superior cable management, an absolutely cavernous interior, and potential for water cooling (sounds like a fun future upgrade!). Combine that with the miles and miles of modular cabling Corsair provides with the HX850, and I'm looking forward to a very flexible and tidy build.

CPU/Mobo: I should mention that I'm totally committed to the i7 930 now. Had a friend in Fairfax pick it up for me yesterday at his local MicroCenter for $200. As for the board, a big thank you to banthracis for clearing up the USB/SATA/Crossfire issue. I must've been looking at some older posts, and found the GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R, not the GA-X58A-UD3R. Sorry for my ignorance. It does appear that the Gigabyte has all I need, so I'll go with it and put my $100 savings elsewhere.

RAM: At the time I posted that link to the Corsair Dominators at Amazon, the price was $209 with free shipping. Oh well. Now I’m getting more confused as I research the various 3x2GB kits. What’s the relative importance of memory frequency vs. voltage (say, 1.5V vs. 1.65V) vs. CAS latency? I’ve read both the TH and Anandtech articles that both say higher frequency memory isn’t worth the premium, but what about lower voltage and CAS? I have the budget for the CAS6, but at the same time I don’t want to pay for something that lights up the benchmarks but doesn’t add much to my computing experience.

GPU: Sounds like overclocking an HD 5850 yourself isn’t all that difficult, eh? In that case, I should get a reference model to be able to tweak voltages, right? If so, who’s the best 3rd party card reseller?

HDD/SSD: Hmm, now I’m intrigued by this dual-SSD in RAID0 idea! I hate load screens, and it seems this solution might make them a thing of the past. Would I be using the dual SSDs to install my OS and software while using a HDD for storage? In that case, I’d like to get the Samsung Spinpoint F3. The 1TB version can currently be had for $80 after coupon from Newegg; is there any difference in quality between the 1TB and 500GB?

Display: I dunno about spending $600+ on a display, since I’m not looking for professional-quality image editing. For that money, should I just buy an HDTV and use it as my display?

I feel like I’m getting pretty close to nailing down my ideal rig. Will try to get as much as possible from Tigerdirect to take advantage of the (currently) 12.3% Bing.com discount from them, and the rest from Newegg because of their superior customer service.

Really appreciate all the input, everyone!
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April 8, 2010 4:19:55 AM

RAM
Speed doesn't matter much as you mentioned. CAS latency 9 = bad, 9=acceptable 7=good, 6= unnecessary. There are exceptions, but generally this is true.

GPU
Doesn't really matter. I'd trust anyone on newegg outside powercooler. Everyone offers min 3 year warranty and GPU's get outdated by then anyway. Sapphire and XFX are usually the most popular though.

HD
Yea, use the 2 RAID 0 SSD's for OS and apps, games that you play a lot.
Throw all your media onto a 1TB spinpoint F3. Some of the 1 TB models are a bit faster than the 500gb, but they're basically the same thing.

Display
Personally I'd go with 1920x1080 Asus's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

16:10 1200p is a very uncommon format and is sorta phasing out.

16:9 1080p is the standard for both HDTV and the movie industry.

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April 9, 2010 1:06:00 AM

CAS 6 is better than CAS 7 is better than CAS 8 is better than CAS 9. Higher memory speeds gets you better CPU overclocks w/o reducing memory ,multipliers. Like anything else it's more money for decreasing returns. When CAS 7 hits $199, CAS 6 at $219 is a no brainer......when CAS 7 is $160 .... not so much. Keep in mind wjhat it says on the label and what it can actually do are two different things. See the THG build articles for samples of cheaper memory that performas better than you'd expect from the labels.

Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The 2 TB WD Black and XT from Seagate are good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):

(http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...[2371]=on&prod[2770]=on)

Look at the tests that reflect your usage and choose accordingly.

HDTV is not a great idea in lieu of a monitor. HDTV's are for view distances of 5 to 30 feet......use monitors under 3 feet. Looking at an HDTV from 3 feet away is like looking a "pen and ink" drawing ..... lotsa dots (pixels).
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April 9, 2010 3:20:06 AM

JackNaylorPE said:
CAS 6 is better than CAS 7 is better than CAS 8 is better than CAS 9. Higher memory speeds gets you better CPU overclocks w/o reducing memory ,multipliers. Like anything else it's more money for decreasing returns. When CAS 7 hits $199, CAS 6 at $219 is a no brainer......when CAS 7 is $160 .... not so much. Keep in mind wjhat it says on the label and what it can actually do are two different things. See the THG build articles for samples of cheaper memory that performas better than you'd expect from the labels.

Hard Drives - Check out the performance charts and pick whatever 500 GB per platter drive performs best under your usage patterns. The 2 TB WD Black and XT from Seagate are good choice but at smaller capacities, you are limited to the Seagate 7200.12 or the Spinpoint F3. The 7200.12 excels in gaming, multimedia and pictures whereas the F3 wins at music and movie maker. See the comparisons here (copy past link in manually, link won't work in forum):

(http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...[2371]=on&prod[2770]=on)

Look at the tests that reflect your usage and choose accordingly.

HDTV is not a great idea in lieu of a monitor. HDTV's are for view distances of 5 to 30 feet......use monitors under 3 feet. Looking at an HDTV from 3 feet away is like looking a "pen and ink" drawing ..... lotsa dots (pixels).


Looks like I can't really justify the cost of CAS6. I'm trying to decide on the best CAS7 set available at Newegg, and am considering (1)this G.Skill set as recommended by banthracis, and (2)this set from Mushkin. The G.Skill has lower voltage and higher speed, but the Mushkin has tighter timings (is 1N vs 2N command rate important?) and is $15 cheaper. Also, I'm not sure which company has better quality control and less chance of getting a dead/mislabeled stick. This is the reason I'm trying to buy RAM from Newegg, since RMA should go smoother with them.

I understand the limitations of HDTV, but I don't think anyone would really consider sitting 3 feet from a 40" screen! I was more thinking along the lines of using a wireless keyboard and mouse and sitting 10-12 feet away. Then I'd get a better cinematic experience when watching movies, since I'm able to relax on the couch instead of sitting at a computer desk. It's also more convenient for watching with friends.
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April 9, 2010 4:03:59 AM

Both sets of RAM are nice. The question of speed is how much do you want to OC?

A standard block is i think 133 mhz for the 930, multiplier of 21. Now if you're aiming for a 3.5 OC, then it's 167 mhz blocks. With a 8 memory ratio, your RAM would be at 1336, which is a slight overclock for 1333 RAM.

On the other hand, if you want a 4.2 OC, then its a 200 block, which is a RAM speed of 1600.

This, is a bit complicated, so generally I just tell people to get 1600, since price is currently very reasonable and you won't have to worry about OC limitations.
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