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Long-postponed ~$2k gaming rig

Last response: in Systems
a b 4 Gaming
May 11, 2010 4:55:41 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Memorial Day weekend or just after


SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, intertubes, light Photoshop & video editing, light office stuff, movies.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, monitor (Acer 24" 1920x1200), mouse, case (Thermaltake Spedo Advance - on sale, $150 after pending MIR), PSU (XFX Black Edition 850W 80+ Silver Active PFC), fan controller (NZXT Sentry 2).

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg, but willing to consider other options


PARTS PREFERENCES: Willing to consider all options, but AMD/ATI seem to be best value at the moment. Had considered holding out for Zosma, but this THG article makes it look unlikely that it will be an improvement over the current Phenom IIs.


SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Eventually - one large graphics card should be enough for now, prefer to keep the option open, even though it's likely I'll just buy a single new big graphics card in 2 years or so.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200, maybe eventually move to Eyefinity (or similar) setup

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I think I have a pretty good idea of what I want already, just looking for other people's opinions on other options to consider. I am planning a separate HTPC build, this is going to be my gaming machine/workstation. I'm currently gaming on a 3-year-old gaming laptop. Seemed like a good idea with all my travel at the time, but it has turned out to be pretty limited long-term.

Right now, most of my gaming is WoW, Dragon Age: Origins, and I'm likely to pick up Mass Effect 2 and Starcraft 2. I do not currently play a lot of FPS games (the last one I truly enjoyed was Doom 2), but it's not an impossibility that I'd pick one up.

I'm aware that there are some components listed below that I could save money on, but a) I don't really need to with my budget, and b) I'm willing to spend a little more now in order to get components that I won't want to upgrade in a year.


Note: as mentioned above, I have a case & PSU already.

CPU: Either AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE for $182 or AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE for $160. Although it's cool, I don't need hyperthreading, and if I need more cores in a year or two, AMD (currently) has a better upgrade path, in my opinion.

HSF: Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme - $65 - I need something under 155mm, as the 230mm fan in the side restricts CPU cooler size a little.

Mobo: Asus Crosshair IV Formula AM3 890FX - $230
Yes, it's spendy, but the wacky features are interesting. I probably won't need to control it via Bluetooth, but the ability to save settings on my laptop via USB is intriguing. I know that MadAdmiral is going to hate this already, but what can I say? :)  Out of stock at the moment, but since I'm not planning to buy today, not a huge issue.

RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Ridgeback 4 GB CL 6 1600 MHz - $160 - $15 MIR

Graphics: XFX 5870 - $430 - selected for double lifetime warranty, may change manufacturers or something, but 5870 seems right for resolution & future-resistance.

SSD: thinking I'll go with the Crucial RealSSD 300 128 GB - $420. I had been looking at 2x Intel X25-M in RAID 0. - $430, but it appears that TRIM support is only for back-end disks, not RAIDed SSDs.

HDD: 2x Seagate 7200.12 1 TB - I have no preference for Seagate vs. Samsung, but the 7200.12s are cheaper right now.

Optical: I have a stand-alone Blu-ray player, but I plan on purchasing a Blu-ray combo drive anyway, in case I want to watch something on the computer while the gf is watching something on the HDTV.

Speakers: Looking at Cyber Acoustics CA-3602 2.1 system - $40 - just looking for a relatively inexpensive 2.1 setup.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM - $100

Total: somewhere around $1750-2000 including combo drive, HSF, SSD & HDDs.

Best solution

a b 4 Gaming
May 11, 2010 5:06:29 PM

Looks pretty good. I'm not a fan of the Crosshair board, but you know what you're doing there...

I'd switch the RAM for these G.Skill Pi 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CL 6 They're $5 cheaper without the need for a MIR and use fewer volts.

For the SSD, I'd go with the 2x 80 GB Intels. You can't beat them for quality and they're the best GB/dollar of the choices.

I would also go with 7200 RPM for the HDDs, but that's mainly because I don't think there's a huge noise or heat benefit to the sower drives.

The only other thing I've got to add is if you've considered the Eyefinity 6 version of the 5870. I think it's a good halfway point between the 5870 and 5970.
a b 4 Gaming
May 11, 2010 5:16:51 PM

I did think about the Eyefinity 6 5870, but that would require a DP->HDMI/DVI adapter, as my current monitor doesn't have a DisplayPort input (and the Eyefinity 6 is all DisplayPort outputs).

An option, if I really wanted a 2 GB 5870 would be the $510 Sapphire Vapor-X, but even I'm not sure I can talk myself into that. ;) 

And yeah, I've been leaning towards 7200rpm drives as well, just thought I'd see if anyone had opinions on, say, WD Cavair Green vs. Spinpoint F3s.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 11, 2010 5:17:21 PM

I'd go with the 955 as if you're OCing, no point in paying extra for the 965, which is the same exact chip.

HSF, a CM Hyper 212 Plus should suit your needs. $27

THis Gigabyte MOBO is all you'll need. Comboed with a gigabyte 5870, which has a 3 year warranty.

GIGABYTE GA-890GPA-UD3H and 5870 $505

Ram you're better off with these G skill Eco's DDR3 1600 7-8-7-24. Slightly worse timings, but much lower voltage and price. $120

Spinpoint F3 1 TB drives are the best performance mainstream atm. $90 each

2 Intel X25-m SSD's in Raid 0 will outperform any other SSD in existence. It's a much better price for performance ration, and cheaper for more HD space.

A big issue with non Intel drives is that while they may be larger in GB, they use a lot more of their space as system reserved. So in fact, Intel drives are fairly cheap in terms of usable GB per dollar.

Low priced but good 2.1 system
Creative Inspire T3130 $50
a b 4 Gaming
May 12, 2010 3:21:04 PM

Based on frostytech's top AMD coolers, it looks like the Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme is the best-performing cooler that is going to fit in the case, at 152mm.

Everything updated above, 2x X-25M in RAID 0 sounds like a good time. Still looking for additional thoughts, though.
a b 4 Gaming
May 12, 2010 8:35:12 PM

Further googling has suggested that TRIM in RAID 0 for Intel SSDs is not exactly accurate.

What I have turned up suggests that TRIM is enabled for single SSDs that are the boot drive and have a RAID array behind them. Switching back to the Crucial RealSSD C300, I think.

EDIT: Also thinking about moving up my purchase date to this week, as the Crosshair IV is back in stock and I had a particularly laggy 25-man raid the other night.

FURTHER EDIT: I'm taking the lack of response as failure to find much wrong with the build. :p 
a b 4 Gaming
May 18, 2010 2:23:16 PM

Best answer selected by coldsleep.
a b 4 Gaming
May 18, 2010 2:40:38 PM

Final parts list later, but everything was ordered late last week and should be arriving within the next day or two.

New post with pics & such once it's built.