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First Time Build - Gaming spec review appreciated

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May 20, 2010 6:12:38 PM

Hi, I've used 2 Dell systems for the past 12 years and I decided to customize a new computer partly out of fun of it. But since this is my first time doing this, I am hoping for some professional review on the specs I chose...currently, it's a bit pricey and I'm looking to cut down a bit but don't know where to shave from. I also don't know if it is balanced.

Before I show the specs, this is what I plan on using the computer for:
1. StarcraftII and WoW. (not too resource consuming games)
2. Basic school work + web searching.
3. Watching TV and movies from my computer.
4. Looking to future-proof it for 2-3 years.
5. Currently do not know how to overclock and if I do, it will be very very very minor.
6. Looking for a balanced computer.


1. Case AZZA Fantom 900 Mid Tower Gaming Case (Do I need a full size? I like quiet towers)

2. Processor AMD Phenom™ II X6 1090T Black Edition Six-Core CPU- (I've debated between this and i7-920: AMD does not support triple memory channels but does have six cores. Intel has triple memory channels but is only 4 cores, for the price range I want. SCII and WoW are only 2 core games. I leaned towards AMD because it was cheaper, allowing me to get other better parts).

3. Processor Cooling Asetek 550LC Liquid CPU Cooling System w/ 120mm Radiator (AMD) (Do I need it? I want max or near max settings in game)

4. Memory 8 GB [2 GB X4] DDR3-1333 Memory Module-Corsair XMS3 Dominator w/DHX technology (At what memory frequency will I start losing performance vs. cost? Also, should dual and triple channel influence my decision on CPU choice?)

5. Video Card ATI Radeon HD 5870 - 1GB-Single Card (One for now but I want to have the option to crossfire in the future)

6. Motherboard [CrossFire] ASUS Crosshair IV Formula -- AMD 890FX CrossFire Chipset w/8-ch HD Audio, Gb LAN, 3 PCI-E MB- ( I read that the one thing I shouldn't skimp on is on the motherboard...is this the best motherboard for the CPU I chose? Or at least a bit future-proof?)

7. Power Supply 850 Watt -- Thermaltake TR2 W0319RU Power Supply-SLI Ready (To prepare me for crossfire in the future)

8. Primary Hard Drive 640 GB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200 RPM, 6.0Gb/s-Dual 640GB Drives (1.28TB Capacity ) - RAID 0 High Performance (Is 64M Cache needed for performance? Secondly, Should I get Solid State Drives instead of Raid 0 for gaming? I can easily just get another, slower hard drive for storage. )

9. Optical Drive [8X Blu-Ray] LG BLU-RAY Reader, DVD±R/±RW Burner Combo Drive-Black

10. Sound Card Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio- (Is this sufficient if I plan to get 5.1 speakers)

11. Network Card Intel Pro 10/100/1000 Network Card- (Is this sufficient if I am just connecting from home ISP)

12. Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium -64-Bit (This supports up to 16GB RA, I think?)

13. Additional Software Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student Software-

14. Monitor 27" Widescreen LCD 1920x1080 Sceptre X270W-1080P-

15. Video Camera i-Rock Web Camera

I'm probably going to buy from ibuypower.com because I need the computer soon but it'll allow me a frame work to customize in the future. This is currently costing me $2600 by their calculations. I would like to cut down $300 somewhere, hopefully from parts that are overkill. I appreciate any advice and opinions!

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May 20, 2010 6:17:18 PM
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Not a good build at all.

First, the X6 isn't a good choice. You get no benefit from using it. Nothing you do requires such a large CPU.

Second, you don't need 8 GB of RAM. That would be for a heavy encoding build.

Third, that's a very expensive board and doesn't give you a lot for it.

Fourth, that PSU is overkill. It's also poor quality.

Fifth, that HDD is not the best choice. There are faster/cheaper ones. Also, RAID 0 is not usually a good idea.

Sixth, putting a BluRay in a PC is a waste of money. BR doesn't do anything special for computers and it adds a huge cost.

Seventh, sounds cards aren't necessary. Onboard sound is excellent and supports surround sound already.

Eighth, network cards are also unncecessary.

With all of that, there's a vastly better build for much, much, much less:

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $474
RAM: Mushkin Enahnced Redline 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 6 $215 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $700
SSD: Corsair Nova 128 GB $335
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90
PSU: Cosair 850W Modular 80+ Silver $170 after rebate
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
Monitor: Asus 23" 1080p $180 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $2,364

However, that's even absolutely overkill for what you're doing. Here's one that's more inline with your stated uses:

CPU/GPU: X4 955 and HD 5850 $470
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $110 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $110
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $90
Case/PSU: Antec 300 Illusion and Earthwatts 650W $120
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $20
Monitor: Asus 23" 1080p $180 after rebate
OS: Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM $100

Total: $1,200
May 20, 2010 7:20:06 PM

don't buy from ibuypower or cyberpowerpc. Both are infamous for sending DOA unit and basically never getting them working for you.

Check out their reselleratings page or BBB page.

ibuypower
http://www.resellerratings.com/store/iBUYPOWER
http://www.la.bbb.org/Business-Report/iBuyPowercom-1314...

Cyberpower
http://www.resellerratings.com/store/CyberPower
http://www.la.bbb.org/Business-Report/Cyberpower-Inc-13...

These cheap boutique companies are known to use non name cheapest they can find parts.

If you have to go boutique, cheap and good, use AVAdirect if you use their custom desktop builder (not gaming one).
http://www.akron.bbb.org/newsearch2.asp?ComID=027200390...
http://www.resellerratings.com/store/AVA_Direct


Other good ones are Maingear, Puget systems and Digital Storm.

You could also just build your own and save a few hundred dollars in the process. Both of Mad's builds are very good.
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May 20, 2010 7:23:44 PM

Oh and don't bother with cheap liquid cooling. It performs worse, and is louder than good air cooling (which incidentally is much less money).
You basically have to spend at least $500 before liquid cooling beats good air.
May 20, 2010 7:30:27 PM

Didn't notice the liquid cooling, but I totally agree. It might be a little less than $500, but not much less.
May 21, 2010 1:02:47 AM

First off, thank you for the quick response and help; I really appreciate it. I sort of merged the advice given and came up with a new system. Italic notes next to them for some explaining. I'm switched to AVAdirect because they have a bigger selection and it is turning out cheaper.

Case: ANTEC Sonata Elite Black Mid-Tower Case, ATX, (Besides cooling considerations, I also want a quiet tower.)

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX TX Series Power Supply, 850W, 80 PLUS®, 24-pin ATX12V EPS12V, SLI Ready (I chose 850w because I am considering 2x GPUs later. does it look adequate?)

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R, LGA1366, Intel® X58, 6400 MT/s QPI, DDR3-2200 24GB /6, PCIe x16 SLI CF /4, SATA 3 Gb/s RAID 5 /6, 6 Gb/s RAID /2, USB 3.0 /2, HDA, GbLAN, FW /3, ATX, Retail

CPU: INTEL Core™ i7-930 Quad-Core 2.8GHz, LGA1366, 4.8 GT/s QPI, 8MB L3 Cache, 45nm, 130W, EM64T EIST VT XD, Retail

CPU cooler: ZALMAN CNPS10X Quiet CPU Cooler, Socket 1366/1156/775/AM3/AM2/940/939/754, Copper/Aluminum, Retail (switch to air-cooling)

RAM: MUSHKIN 6GB (3 x 2GB) Blackline PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz CL9 (9-9-9-24) 1.5V-1.6V SDRAM DIMM, Non-ECC

GPU: XFX Radeon™ HD 5850 765MHz, 1GB GDDR5 4500MHz, PCIe x16 CrossFire, DVI /2, HDMI, DP, Retail

Hard Drive: SAMSUNG 1TB SpinPoint F3, SATA 3 Gb/s, 7200-RPM, 32MB Cache, Retail
RAID No RAID, Independent HDD Drives (They did not offer SSD but I plan on buying 128GB seperately. This one is just for storage)

Drives: SONY AD-7241S Black 24x DVD±R/RW Dual-Layer Burner w/ Lightscribe, SATA, OEM

OS: MICROSOFT Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition, OEM

This is coming out to be $1700, without the monitor and SSD that I am buying separately. I am guessing the configuration is more than I need for SCII and WoW but I wanted to future-proof it a bit. Again, however, I don't know if this new config is balanced at all.

May 21, 2010 1:30:07 AM

RAM timings are pretty horrendous. Switch it to CAS 7 RAM.

A 750W PSU is more than enough, even if you xfire the 5850.

Case is a weird choice. It's a very old case.

For gaming and general use that i7 is doing nothing for you. Better off with Phenom ii x4 or i5-750. Either of the builds Mad posted above are fine.

Better off with a Hyper 212 plus as the HSF.
May 31, 2010 6:25:33 AM

Best answer selected by kevylei.
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