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$1800 Gaming/Enthusiast Rig

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May 14, 2010 2:00:58 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a couple months

BUDGET RANGE: ~$1800. Budget flexible, favoring high quality without losing sight of price/performance ratio.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, general/internet, movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS (Have license for Windows 7 Professional 64 bit), mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com, open to other options

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Mid/full tower, willing to spend a little more for good quality parts

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, air only

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe add a 2nd GPU in a year or two

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 native (minimum)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Want a sleek-looking case (no window needed), don't want to build another system for ~4 years.
Not interested in liquid cooling.
I could delay this build for several reasons: If good 1920x1080@120Hz gaming monitors are just around the corner, or if waiting for a 32nm process Intel quad-core is worth it
It's been 3+ years since I bought PC hardware, I want to try out the new toys
It looks like I'm running ~$1550 without monitor so far

----------

CPU: Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz

Mobo: Gigabyte X58A-UD3R or ASUS P6X58D

GPU: Radeon HD5850, not sure what brand, possible Crossfire upgrade later

RAM: G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3-1600 SDRAM, heat spreader height might interfere with CPU cooler?
Alternate: OCZ Gold 6GB (3x2GB) 240-Pin DDR3-1600 SDRAM

CPU Cooler: Prolimatech Megahalems

Fans: For CPU: Rexus Panaflo, pick high RPM fan and run at med/low?
Alternate possibility: Scythe Ultra Kaze 120mm
Addt'l case fans: Scythe Slip Stream 120mm
Also would consider Yate Loon, Scythe S-Flex

Case: Possibly Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced
Doesn't need a window, won't be doing liquid cooling, no need for bling, sleek look preferred.
Also considering more expensive cases if they have enough added value:
Antec P183
Corsair Obsidian 700d
Cooler Master HAF 932
Antec 1200
Silverstone Fortress FT01

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX or Corsair CMPSU-750TX

Optical: OEM Samsung SH-S223C CD/DVD Burner SATA, less researched

OS HD: Not sure if needed, and a SSD might be too pricey still.
HD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB

Monitor: Not sure, possibly interested in 1920x1080 @ 120Hz gaming LCD when they become more available

Sound: On-board if I can get away with it, headphones are fine, cheap speakers a possibility

Thermal paste: OCZ OCZTFRZTC Freeze Extreme Thermal Conductivity Compound, flexible

Keyboard: Not sure
May 14, 2010 2:57:57 AM

Websites= try TigerDirect and Amazon= both no sales tax and Free shipping
I would go 5870 and buy another later for crossfire
PSU= 850 or 1000 and Look at Ultra X-4 PSU at Tigerdirect = sweet
a b 4 Gaming
May 14, 2010 3:43:57 AM

Welcome to the forum. Overall, it looks pretty good. Here's a few ideas though.

MOBO:
  • Asus P6X58D-E
    This is plenty good enough.

    RAM:
  • Mushkin Enhanced Blackline -$180-
    It's a bit cheaper and has smaller heatsinks.

    HSF:
  • Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus -$27-
    The Megahalems if very nice, but you could cut the price in half and maintain almost all of the performance.

    GPU:
  • Asus Radeon HD 5850 -$320-

    HDD:
  • Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB -$90-
    A bit faster and cheaper.

    PSU:
  • Antec TP-750 -$120-

    Other notes - you shouldn't need the extra fans or thermal paste. I also would just like to point out that for gaming an i5 750 or X4 955 would be better deals. There is nothing wrong with going the i7 route, it's just a good deal of extra money for a bit of extra performance.
    Related resources
    May 14, 2010 5:26:23 AM

    If you have Micro Center nearby you could get i7 930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

    http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

    Recommend getting G.Skill PI Series 6GB

    The 5850 gives you excellent performance in most games. It tends to fall short when trying to run Crysis at full details at 1920x1080 resolutions, where the 5870 is still good. Recommend getting XFX or Sapphire

    HAF 922 is great too and cheaper.

    Get 750TX don't need 850HX most cases mount PSU at the bottom so you won't be able to see the cables. 750TX is enough to Crossfire 5870. Not recommend the Ultra X-4 PSU it's not quality brand and also you don't need 1000 W PSU. The quality brand PSU you want are Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, and Silverstone.

    Samsung F3 and Seagate 7200.12 they both use 500GB platter.
    Benchmarks
    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...[2371]=on&prod[3016]=on

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

    Are you sure you want to buy 3D Gaming 120 Hz LCD Monitor there pretty expensive and what's the reason you want 3D Gaming 120 Hz. You need also to get Nvidia 3D Vision and Nvidia Graphics GTX 470 or GTX 480
    http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Displays/pr...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

    Get this thermal paste
    http://www.ewiz.com/index.html?name=FAN-MX3

    Buy yourself HDMI cable for $5.45
    100% Guarnatee Good Quality!!!
    http://www.monoprice.com/products/ [...] 1&format=2

    May 14, 2010 6:14:31 AM

    phenom ii x6:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    You won't have to upgrade for along time. in a combo with a good motherboard,cooling, and turbo boost it can reach 4.0 ghz on air.

    5870:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Can play crysis and metro 2033 at 1080p res.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5870,2422... these are the bench marks.

    PSU:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 60amps on a single 12v rail.
    only suggestion i could make.
    a b 4 Gaming
    May 14, 2010 6:21:41 AM

    - We've been getting some complaints about the UD3R recently.
    - There's no difference between the performance of the PIs and the Mushkins.
    - A 5850 will pull over 30 FPS on absolute max settings at 1080p.
    - The Antec is better.
    - You don't need thermal paste.
    - You won't need a 120Hz LCD unless you will be using 3D - it's necessary for 3D displays because they alternate frames so running at 60Hz would make the display too dim.
    --------------
    - The X6 is a good product, but it is beaten by the i7 in too many areas and is priced a bit too high for me to recommend it.
    - Again the 5870 is an option
    - The Antec is still better.
    May 14, 2010 7:12:57 AM

    I still recommend better quality thermal paste to reduce the temperature and no cure time.

    http://www.vortez.co.uk/contentteller/articles_pages/ar...

    Reply jbakerlent:
    The Antec is still better. Does not mean he should get that only quality brand. I know that because Antec has 80 Plus Bronze that would reduce his electric bill. I bet because you never tried Corsair, Seasonic, or Silverstone.
    May 14, 2010 12:21:11 PM

    Thanks so much for the replies, everyone! I've lurked a bit, and I really like the TH community. I'll look over the suggestions and post a list of changes to the build.
    May 14, 2010 10:34:36 PM

    Instead of addressing all your very helpful comments individually, I'll just post a list of the new opinions and decisions I've acquired. :D 

    GPU: I'll take a look again at whether the cost of a 5870 is worth it over a 5850. A 5870 is significantly more expensive, and there's currently only a performance difference in some pretty extreme situations. If I go with the 5850, the Asus model looks fine. For the 5870 that was linked, I'm worried about how poorly it seems to OC compared to a 5850. If the 5850 OC's as well as I've heard and the 5870 can't, that makes the 5870 a harder sell as far as price/performance. Even if I wanted to go to dual 5870s later, I could always sell the 5850 and buy two 5870s instead of buying one 5870 now and another (hopefully identical) one later. The question is which is more of a problem in the future: selling the 5850 without too much loss, or finding an identical 5870 (ideal for Crossfire)?

    Mobo: Asus P6X58D-E
    Don't know why I originally linked the more expensive ASUS P6X58D instead. This was one of my early favorites while researching this build.

    RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline
    With the give-and-take in clock speed and CAS timing, this RAM is really just as good as the OCZ RAM, and slightly cheaper. RAM doesn't make much difference anyway, as long as there is enough of it. These modules also don't have a height issue, like the PI Series do; I don't want to interfere with the CPU cooler, and haven't checked heights carefully.

    HSF: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus
    I looked up some reviews, and this product does deliver performance almost as good as the Megahalems at a much lower price. The extra cost doesn't seem worth it.

    TIM: Arctic Cooling MX-3 Thermal Compount , $10
    I'd like to see if I can reach 4GHz OC on air cooling (just for the hell of it). If I can't reach that using the stock thermal paste that comes with the heatsink, I'll invest ~$10 to make that more achievable, though the extra speed at that level doesn't matter much for games. If I do that I'll probably also lap the heatsink just because I've never done it before. I'd like to have the experience as much as the results.

    HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM or Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
    I found the Spinpoint for $70 at ewiz.com with coupon code CRUNCH10. I don't know the retailer, but it has good reviews. As far as comparison with the WD Caviar Black, this Tom's Hardware review has me worried that I'd be trading too much performace for a $10 savings ($30 savings at ewiz), especially if I start off with only one HDD. If it were just a storage HDD, I wouldn't care. Any thoughts?

    Possible OS SSD: OCZ Vertex 2 50GB SSD, $200, probably not worth it yet. This tech needs a year or two to mature.

    PSU: Antec TP-750
    The Corsair 850HX is unquestionably superior, but costs a lot more. If the Antec TP-750 outperforms the comparably-priced Corsair 750TX, so be it. As for the 4 12V rails instead of Corsair's single rail, I haven't ever done load-balancing, but I'm willing to look it up and learn. I'll look over the reviews for the two more closely, but I'll pick the Antec for now.

    Case: The HAF 922 also looks like a very good option, but I think I'll opt for the CM 690 II Advanced for style reasons. They've both excellent cases without being too expensive. I've also considered the Cooler Master Cosmos 1000, but don't really know a reason to prefer it.

    Monitor: I'll give up on the 120Hz LCD monitor. It would be nice, even without 3D, but it seems the technology isn't quite there yet without serious compromises. I'll research 1080p LCD gaming monitors, starting with suggestions on other threads in this forum.

    I recognize that going the i7 route is a several-hundred-dollar price jump for little improvement in current game performance. However, if there's one thing I don't want to be replacing in a few years, it's the motherboard. It looks like this system could add another GPU and a SSD a couple years down the road, and I'd like to have the better support for multi-GPU, USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s (if those ever get saturated by any device in the next several years).

    When I get around to purchasing, I'll see if I can save money over Newegg at TigerDirect or Amazon. Unfortunately, I don't have a Micro Center nearby. Saving $80 on the CPU would have been awesome. At any rate, with the current alterations the price is trimming down nicely.

    Also, if ANYONE disagrees with any of the above, I'm more than willing to listen.
    a b 4 Gaming
    May 14, 2010 10:44:17 PM

    ^ Very nice explanations and summaries. Just pointing out one thing, the WD in that review and the one you linked are two different drives - they are using the latest 6Gb/s drive i think the model number is FAEX but I could be wrong.
    a b 4 Gaming
    May 15, 2010 1:55:38 AM

    Mobo: Asus P6X58D-E
    Don't know why I originally linked the more expensive ASUS P6X58D instead.

    The -E has single LAN versus the other's dual LAN. But it in combo with the i7-930 for $514
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline
    Logically chosen

    HSF: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus
    I looked up some reviews, and this product does deliver performance almost as good as the Megahalems at a much lower price. The extra cost doesn't seem worth it.

    If you want the best, and the extra few OC ticks is worth it to you, it's worth the cost. But they Scythe 2100 is the easy choice over the 212 based upon latest reviews:
    http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...
    http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...


    TIM: Arctic Cooling MX-3 Thermal Compount , $10
    I'd like to see if I can reach 4GHz OC on air cooling (just for the hell of it). If I can't reach that using the stock thermal paste that comes with the heatsink, I'll invest ~$10 to make that more achievable, though the extra speed at that level doesn't matter much for games. If I do that I'll probably also lap the heatsink just because I've never done it before. I'd like to have the experience as much as the results.


    See this before lapping. Not saying don't do it ....just want you to make an informed choice.
    http://www.prolimatech.com/
    Lapping Warning!
    Prolimatech does not condone any type of lapping done to the CPU or to heatsink base. Every Prolimatech's heatsink base is designed on a pin-point scale of how the base is to be flat and/or curved where it's needed to be. We have programed our machines to machine the surface in a very calculated way. Any after-manufacture lapping or modding done to the base will alter the design, hence negating its performance factor as well as its warranty.


    As for the TIM, pick a TIM from the top few 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...

    Also see:
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/280452-28-diamond-car...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/282002-28-diamond-tes...
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/281732-28-diamond-res...

    HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM or Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB
    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.


    Possible OS SSD: OCZ Vertex 2 50GB SSD, $200, probably not worth it yet. This tech needs a year or two to mature.

    PSU: Antec TP-750
    The Corsair 850HX is unquestionably superior, but costs a lot more. If the Antec TP-750 outperforms the comparably-priced Corsair 750TX, so be it. As for the 4 12V rails instead of Corsair's single rail, I haven't ever done load-balancing, but I'm willing to look it up and learn. I'll look over the reviews for the two more closely, but I'll pick the Antec for now.


    As for the single rail / multi rail mths, read these:

    http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/PSU/index.php

    The sweet spots for PSU's price / performance wise w/ overclocking in mind are the 650 (single GFX) and 850 watters (twin GFX cards). 850's are not much more than 750's and the cushion provides for mose stable OC's when getting big power draws from twin GFX cards. Here's the low down on the 850's:

    For comparison purposes , the list below contains performance ratings (10 scale) at jonnyguru.com / prices as per newegg on 02/21/2010 and ones w/ double asterisks (**) made it onto silentpcreview.com's Editor's Choice List meaning they excelled at both electronic and acoustic performance:


    Antec SG-850 - 10.0 ($220) **
    Antec CP-850 - 10.0 ($110) **
    XFX 850W Black Edition 10.0 ($185)
    Corsair HX850 850W - 10.0 ($180)

    Antec TruePower Quattro (TPQ-850) - 9.5 ($150)
    Corsair TX850 - 9.5 ($140)
    Seasonic M12D 850W - 9.5 (NLA) **
    NorthQ Giant Connector 850W - 9.5 (NFS)
    Etasis ET850 - 9.5 (NLA)
    Silverstone Zeus ST85ZF - 9.5 (NLA)

    Enermax Revolution 85+ 850W - 9.0 ($250)

    Thrmaltake Toughpower XT 850W - 8.5 ($216)
    OCZ Z Series 850W - 8.5 ($200)

    NorthQ Black Magic Flex 850W - 8.0 (NFS)
    Coolmax CTG-850 - 8.0 (NFS)

    SilverStone Decathlon DA850 - 7.5 ($230)
    Enermax Galaxy DXX 850W EGX850EWL - 7.5 (NFS)

    SilverStone Strider ST85F - 7.0

    Silverstone Element ST85EF 850W - 6.0


    NFS - Not For Sale / NLA = No Longer Available

    At the price, and even ignoring it, the CP-850 really has no competition. It matches the other 10.0 rated PSU's electronically and is has an acoustic advantage. Downside is, you need an Antec case.

    1200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $260
    P183 http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $240

    Any comparable full tower and hi quality PSU will cost ya over $300. If case is a matter of styling choice, I'd go with the XFX Black Edition.

    Case: The HAF 922 also looks like a very good option, but I think I'll opt for the CM 690 II Advanced for style reasons. See above. I'd be comfy w/ a HAF 922 and heavy OC's and a single GFX card but w/ twin cards, I'd want a HAF 932.

    Monitor: I'll give up on the 120Hz LCD monitor. It would be nice, even without 3D, but it seems the technology isn't quite there yet without serious compromises. I'll research 1080p LCD gaming monitors, starting with suggestions on other threads in this forum. This one has gotten good reviews but I don't see many people using them w/o nVidia 3D Vision
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Outside of that, I can rarely find fault w/ this choice
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    May 15, 2010 2:03:31 AM

    jbakerlent said:
    ^ Very nice explanations and summaries. Just pointing out one thing, the WD in that review and the one you linked are two different drives - they are using the latest 6Gb/s drive i think the model number is FAEX but I could be wrong.


    The review lists the WD1001FALS, which is the SATA 3GB/s one. You're right that a SATA 6GB/s version with 64MB cache instead of 32MB is available (WD1002FAEX) for $10 more than the WD1001FALS, but the Spinpoint F3 beats them both handily in value, if not quality. So yes, great point - but I don't see that model in the review. :??:  It would be nice to see a comparison between the two. Still, it was my understanding that nothing really needs the 6GB/s bandwidth yet. So, if current drives can't really flex the chosen motherboard's muscles right now, I may just stick with a single 1TB drive and upgrade drives later. Though I'm not excited about planning to reinstall the OS in a couple years, I should just man up and do it. ;) 

    Also, I've done a new cost summary, and it looks like I'm running ~$750 before the GPU and monitor (roughly estimated shipping and tax included). With $440 for the linked Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 or $330 for the linked ASUS Radeon HD 5850, I'm looking at $1080-$1190 for the system w/o monitor. This is a lot cheaper than my previous estimate, and I'm frankly quite amazed. :o 

    I can be perfectly happy with current performance of this build, and save some budget cash for upgrades down the road. Having this extra budget rooms makes me want to spring for a SSD, but it's not like I need to spend the money. This is great! :D 

    I'll look into a finding a stunningly awesome 1080p gaming LCD now. :bounce: 
    May 15, 2010 4:05:25 AM

    ^ That's some really good information to go over. First note before I really chew on everything you linked: I like the idea of getting an 850W PSU and an Antec 1200 for a little extra. However, I don't like the idea of a side window much. Is it possible to get an Antec 1200 with a solid side panel, or do I have either live with it or buy a replacement panel?
    !