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$1200 iCore7 Build, thoughts?

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May 10, 2010 3:08:03 AM

Hey guys,

I've been doing a lot of research into building a new desktop and I found that the community here at Tom's Hardware consistently has the most definitive articles, complete information and knowledgeable members around. I figured this would be a great place to bounce around the idea for my ideal build.

Quick history: I got my first PC in the 5th grade, it was a Pentium 166mHz + other artifacts I can't remember. I rebuilt that comp. myself over many iterations until it was a P4 2.4GHz, 512 RAM, entry level gaming GPU, etc. It's ~9 y/o. The only hardware I've touched since has been replacing the RAM on about 3 different Dell laptops. Much has changed since I built a Desktop.

The goal: I would like to own a High End machine; for the sake of saving money I decided to split this build up into 2 (or more) iterations.

I am operating under an assumption that could change a lot: I have a Dell Latitude D830 with Windows 7 x32 - I am assuming I can clone this system onto my desktop. I don't know if I will have problems because of a completely different hardware makeup. Assuming it works:

Iteration #1: I want to establish a core infrastructure that is fast and powerful now, and has the capacity to be upgraded with high end parts later. In this iteration I will be limited to a Windows 7 x32 System clone (hopefully). Would like to spend no more than $1150 or less; unfortunately, I need to buy a monitor.

Iteration #2: will be focused on turning this comp into a high end gaming machine that can handle the most demanding games. Not going for bragging rights, but def. interested in high FPS on high resolutions on high settings.

Note: Though I am dropping a a good amount of cash on this, I have done a lot of research to essentially "trim the fat" and get this machine to be as cheap as possible.

I'm very excited to hear your opinions!
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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Sept., 2010

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Work (needs to run entire MS Office suite + adobe products at once), Gaming (Starcraft2, Diablo3, Fifa 2010, eventually more demanding games), Graphic Design and Web Design (run at least 2 major adobe products simultaneously - photoshop, flex builder, dreamweaver, illustrator), Music recording (as a hobby, quality is less important, plus I have an external sound card for made for recording)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, keyboard and speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel CPU

OVERCLOCKING: Iteration #2

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: One day, maybe (though not very interested)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 or higher

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I had a particularly hard time deciding on a PSU. I am trying to be cost conscious, but realize that in iteration #2 I will be OC'd my CPU and running a higher end GPU and therefore do not want to have to buy a new PSU.

Ps: All prices are listed after NewEgg instant savings applied

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Iteration #1

Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion
Price: $59.99
Note: Should have enough room for a single GTX 260 (eventually), great price and user feedback on Newegg.com, love the look.

Mobo: ASUS Rampage II GENE
Price: $209.99
Note: I think this board is a steal considering: 2x PCI Express x16 (if I ever want to go dual GPU), good extra's for OC'ing, comes with a good Audio Chipset which saves me from buying a Sound Card (for now), and all the basics of a high end machine.

CPU: Intel Core i7 - 920 @ 2.66GHz (Bloomfield)
Price: $279.99
Note: I don't know that I need a cpu that is much faster than this for Iteration #1. And, this seems to be a great choice for OC'ing down the road.

GPU: EVGA GeForce 9800 FT Superclocked
Price: $119.99
Note: Originally I wanted to get the GTX 260, but figured I could save some valuable cash here because the games I plan on playing in the short term are not necessarily the most demanding (SC2, Diablo3, Fifa 2010)

As for Graphic Design - I'm pretty happy with my Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz, 4GB (3.5 recognized), Qauttro NVS 135M running my photoshop, I figure this is already a huge upgrade.

RAM: Crucial Ballistix 4GB ( 2 x 2GB)
Price: $113.99
Note: Will I notice a difference with more RAM for what I plan on doing? Regardless of if I clone, or am forced to buy Windows 7 x64 right off the bat, I would probably stick w/ 4GB for this iteration.

PSU Alternative: Antec TPQ 850
Price: $149.99
Note: I'm really not sure on this one or going with the $30 cheaper, Antec TP 750W (price: $119.99). I think this is probably overkill for the current setup, but I want to make sure it can eventually power a GTX260 and an OC'd CPU (round 3.2 GHz). I've read a LOT of stuff and can't seem to find a definite answer. I even used a cool min. power calculator from ASUSTeK but nothing is conclusive. I saw a post from a TH Admin (can't find it again, sorry) where he had a similar build to what I'm describing and was powering it with 500W, which seems ridiculously low, but made me question my original 850W pick. Just, don't know what to do here.

HDD: WD Caviar Blue 500GB 7200 RPM
Price: $55.99
Note: No real thoughts here - happy with this amount of space, have plenty of externals HDs to back this up.

Monitor: Haans-G Hi 221DPB 22" 5ms
Price: $159.99
Note: This monitor gets great reviews on the Egg. My old LCD monitor is about 7 years old - 17" Acer, 12ms resonse time, 350:1 contrast ratio. So, this will be a big upgrade :) 

Total: $1119.92 - $1149.92

Interation #2:

OS: Windows 7 x64 OEM
Price: $139.99
Note: I don't see any reason not to get OEM - good price.

RAM: Crucial Ballistix 4GB ( 2 x 2GB)
Price: $113.99
Note: This would bring my machine to a total of 8GB RAM


CPU OC: I will OC the Core i7 920 @ 2.66GHz to around 3.2GHz (maybe, 3.33).
Price: $0
Note: I'm doing this for two reason - 1: as a hobby / fun on-going project. I love reading and learning and doing this kind of stuff. At the same time, I am taking this very seriously as I understand the risks involved. 2: I want to crank a little more juice out of my CPU. I figure, I will never be running it anywhere near full load for extended periods of time, and will be satisfied with a 3-4+ year life span.

Cooling System: Cooler Master Hyper 212
Price: $29.99
Note: I've read great reviews for this. I don't plan on really pushing my CPU too hard when I OC, so I can't image with a well ventilated case + this part I would have a problem. I'm not sure I need to spend double the money to gain 1-3C.

GPU: EVGA GTX 260 216 Superclocked
Price: $209.99
Note: Great bang for your buck - more future proof than Iteration #1 GeForce 9800 GT. Will only buy if I am unsatisfied with GeForce 9800. How much would this upgrade affect my experience in Photoshop?

PSU: My goal is to buy a satisfactory PSU during iteration #1 that can reliably handle all of iteration #2 as well.

Sound Card: Though I am an audiophile, I've done little research on sound cards to date. I am not sure what my speaker setup will be, but I would like to spend between $50-75 on a sound card (no more then $100).

My speaker setup is up in the air- it will either be a stereo receiver powering a 6.1 sound system, or I will purchase a 4.1/5.1 computer sound system.

Total: $283.97 (w/ out GPU and sound card) - $493.96 (w/out Sound Card)


What do you guys think?
May 10, 2010 3:33:44 AM

Alright so, first things first, you're gonna want triple channel memory for your Core i7 build. Meaning three sets of RAM sticks that run together.

That monitor, I'm sure you can find a full HD monitor for about the same price.

You should also swap that HDD out for a Samsung Spinpoint F3. It's cheaper and should perform about the same, if not better.

Lemme get a build for you.
May 10, 2010 3:53:01 AM

^+1 for the triple channel ram. and get the gtx 260.
go for a corsair psu.550wts. its more reliable.
and go for gskill. ram. 3x2gb.

and with that mobo. it dosent have usb3 and sata6gb

so. i recomend. gigabyte x58-a or a P6X58D-E =its latest features
and maybe a i7 930. it has higher clocks.
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May 10, 2010 4:18:33 AM
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Well, I wasn't really able to get a build that would stay under budget. In fact it's about 300 dollars over, but I think it'd be an extra 300 dollars well spent. :p 

CPU + Mobo: i7 930 + Gigabyte GA-X58-UD3R
RAM: G. Skill Pi Series 3x2GB CL 7
GPU: XFX 5850
PSU: Corsair 750TX
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB
ODD: Sony CD/DVD Burner
Case: Antec 300
CPU Cooler: CM Hyper 212+
OS: Windows 7 OEM
Monitor: ASUS 21.5" 1920x1080

Total w/ shipping - 1536.47. After MIR - 1516.47

Holy ***, I know. Way over budget.

Alright so first off, changed your motherboard. This one is the same price, just has SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 support.

Your RAM as I stated earlier should be triple channel. These G. Skills are well worth the money.

The 750TX should be able to handle that moderate overclock and the GPUs if you crossfire later. However, I wouldn't want to crossfire and OC to 4.0ghz+

Changed your GPU. Nvidia is great and all, I mean you can probably use that old Quattro for CUDA or something with your Photoshop, but don't you want a card with DX 11 support? If you really must go with Nividia, then maybe the 470 will do for you. However there's issues with them running hot.

All in all, I think it'll be money worth spent. XD
May 10, 2010 4:38:37 AM

Your buy time is 4 months away alot of changes are gonna come through between now and then that will totally change what you plan on doing. In 4 months the price on DDR3 is gonna come down. New processors will be brought out and intel will lower prices at some point they always do. New motherboards with better built in features will come out. Hell they might even open a microcenter near you and you can save a bunch on the processor. It could swing the other way and everything be more expensive but I doubt it. Just hard to plan with Tech 4 months out.
May 10, 2010 4:44:15 AM

Awesome thanks guys- this is what I'm hearing thus far:

RAM: Needs to be triple channel - fine
MOBO: Multiple recommendations for USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 compliance
GPU: Go for the Newer Gens right off the bat.

143miah, I really like the system you put together - has a lot of what I'm looking for. I'm wondering if cloning my W7 x32 from my Latitude D830 would work?

If so, we could cut a significant chunk off that price temporarily because I could buy G. Skill 3x1GB CL 7, $94.99 and would not need an OS.

That would cut the price down ~$235.

Option #2 is to go for the Geforce 9800 for the time being - keeping in mind that the games I will be playing are not very GPU demanding. It would much easier to swap out a GPU then an OS.
May 10, 2010 4:49:54 AM

chefjw said:
Your buy time is 4 months away alot of changes are gonna come through between now and then that will totally change what you plan on doing. In 4 months the price on DDR3 is gonna come down. New processors will be brought out and intel will lower prices at some point they always do. New motherboards with better built in features will come out. Hell they might even open a microcenter near you and you can save a bunch on the processor. It could swing the other way and everything be more expensive but I doubt it. Just hard to plan with Tech 4 months out.


Very good point - I guess with that in mind, it may make sense to shoot a bit over my budget as 4 months is a long time out.

Ps, I do have a microcenter near me. I haven't had to chance to do a detailed comparison on prices vs. Newegg. Sounds like they have the advantage on CPUs?
May 10, 2010 5:13:04 AM

Sashmo99 said:
Very good point - I guess with that in mind, it may make sense to shoot a bit over my budget as 4 months is a long time out.

Ps, I do have a microcenter near me. I haven't had to chance to do a detailed comparison on prices vs. Newegg. Sounds like they have the advantage on CPUs?


The i7 930 is about 200 dollars at one. You would save a whole lot getting one from there.

I'm not that great with software, however I'm sure someone on here would be glad to let you know if it's possible.

Although getting a lower amount of RAM would lower the price a significant amount, I recommend sticking with the 6GB. I guess though you could just get another 3x1GB set. Don't really know how that would affect system performance though.

I also wouldn't want to buy a GPU now, and then end up having to buy another soon after. It'd be pretty wasteful.

With that 4 month period, I'd recommend just saving a little more. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
May 10, 2010 6:04:21 AM

Yeah 930 is 200 bucks....mobo listed with the newegg combo is 220 with a 20 dollar rebate but they pricematch neweggs mobo prices like once a week so just catch it right and possibly save almost 100 dollars. I woulda bought the spinpoint f3 this weekend though crazy deal at EWIZ for 43 dollars shipped using an easily found promo code.
May 20, 2010 1:31:24 PM

Best answer selected by Sashmo99.
May 20, 2010 2:48:22 PM

FYI...cloning your operating system from one computer to another is going to be HIGHLY illegal...

1 OS license to 1 Motherboard is the way that game is played..

Better to just spend the $100 and get the new OS
!