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Need a mean machine for under $1500, AMD/ATI or Intel/NVidia

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Last response: in Systems
May 21, 2010 7:21:58 AM

Hello all, and thank you for looking at this thread. First, the templates...

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Preferably, no later than June 2010
BUDGET RANGE: $1500 (After Rebates). I'm willing to go higher in the name of performance, but I will need strong justification.
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gfx-intensive operations (rendering/viz), high-end gaming, HD video editing and encoding, photo editing, followed by the usual PC tasks
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: For now, I just need the main rig, so no keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Any reputable online seller (Systemax preferred). Trust me, I'd use Microcenter if they had one in WA
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
PARTS PREFERENCES: Undecided; this is where you guys come in.
OVERCLOCKING: Maybe. I'm an ocN00b, and the prospect thrills me...
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, depending on budget.
MONITOR RESOLUTION: I currently own an ASUS VH242H (1920x1080), and I don't plan on getting a 2nd monitor soon.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have one of them closed-door CPU cabinets with ventilation only at the back. Need appropriate cooling. Bling is moot for same reason. Noise not a big deal, will be drowned out by audio. Respectable power consumption, I'm trying to keep my monthly power bill under 600 kWh. Too ambitious?

Okay, so here goes...

I've never built a complete rig myself, it's always been mobo+cpu up, so I'm trying to lose my 'virgin' tag :)  That, and I need a really good desktop at home that can take everything I throw at it. I've spent the last few weeks online on forums (yours has been one of the better, more insightful ones), and I thought I had it all figured out. I was in love with the Phenom II X6. All those cores = pure multithreaded win. And then I heard about Bulldozer. So now, I'm confused. I wanted to go with AMD, mostly cuz I've been an Intel guy all these years, starting in 2001 with the Pentium IV. Good times. I have an Intel-based MBP and an Intel-based HP Z400 at work. I was hoping to have an AMD setup at home, for comparison's sake, and because--let's face it--they're the underdogs!

I read somewhere that Bulldozer might not support AM3, which is why I am turned off AMD, considering their stellar record at backward compatibility. I want to know if anyone's heard anything concrete about this. Also, the Core i7 means more expensive peripherals, but performance wise, it can't be beat. OC tests around the web place these two processors neck and neck, with the X6 1090T BE(my AMD weapon of choice) beating out the i7 930(ditto, Intel) only in extremely thread-intensive tasks like 3D rendering. So, what's it gonna be? I need an answer to which platform makes more sense now.

Arguments in Intel's favor include:
Better performance due to larger L3 cache, and
Relatively new Nehalem, as opposed to AMD's rehashed K10 which has been pulling on since forever.

Okay I've bored you guys enough, here are my prospective machines.

Processor, Motherboard & RAM

1. INTEL (codename 'PerforMax')
Intel Core i7 930 2.8 GHz Processor --> $284

ASRock X58 Extreme --> $170
or
GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R --> $210
orr
ASUS P6X58D-E --> $230

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) --> $180
or
OCZ 6GB (3 x 2GB) --> $173
orr
Mushkin Enhanced Redline 6GB (3 x 2GB) --> $240

2. AMD (codename 'Bang4Buck')
AMD Phenom II 1090T Black Edition --> $320

Asus Crosshair IV Formula --> $240
or
MSI 890FXA-GD70 --> $200

Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) --> $180
or
G.SKILL PI 4GB (2 x 2GB) -->$140

If I am missing a good mobo/RAM, please make a recommendation.


Video Card
XFX HD-587X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5870 --> $408

SSD/HDD
Already own a Maxtor 1TB and have recently ordered a Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1TB, which I plan to use together as a NAS solution. I need a recommendation on SSD; I've heard good things about Intel's X25, but I also hear that newer models will drive prices down considerably later this year.

Case & PSU
Antec 300 Illusion & Antec EarthWatts EA-650 --> $120
or the very pretty
COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP --> $90, and
CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W --> $202

*All items include shipping costs, and do not account for rebates or Bing Cashback (which I'm really big on, considering most Systemax stores offer a ridiculous 12%)
**Optical Media Player, Sound card, etc aren't relevant right now. I promise I'll return to this forum when the time is right.

A few notes about my original requirements mentioned in the template:
- I would like a Crossfire ready setup. However, I do not require it.
- Regarding power consumption contstraints, I'm a working man, and I'm home precious few hours of the day, most of which I spend asleep.
- I will be running Win7 x64, dual-boot with some flavor of Linux, if that is important.

Thank you for your time, all criticism is welcome. Peace :) 

More about : machine 1500 amd ati intel nvidia

May 21, 2010 7:51:19 AM

So you just want advice? If I was choosing for my own computer I would go with:
i7 930
Gigabyte X58A-UD3R
Mushkin RAM ( tightest timings )
5870
Antec 300 Illusion EA-650 combo
I also have read very good things about Intel X-25 SSDs I am not sure about price drops anytime soon.

That would be a beast of a computer that should handle anything you throw at it for a while.

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Best solution

May 21, 2010 8:00:15 AM

I'm supposing the AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition build will be a better choice for you for a few reasons:

1.) Most video editing and encoding types of applications do not use the virtual threads which Hyper-Threading offers.
2.) As a newbie overclocker you'll enjoy how well the Phenom II X6 overclocks, and that unlocked multiplier will help a great deal as well.
3.) AM3 will actually be compatible with Bulldozer, the initial release will be anyway, the socket is speculated to update to AM3r2/AM3+ later on.
4.) At stock, the Phenom II X6 series suck (in terms of gaming performance), but I'm pretty sure overclocking them you'll see a great boost in FPS and general speed.




As for build recommendations:

1.) Those motherboards are 1337 but overkill. You could just get the ASRock 890FX Deluxe 3 for $154.99 which has essentially the same chipset but for approximately $100 less than the Crosshair IV Extreme, although the ASRock board is limited to 16x/16x/4x slots which means no triple CrossFireX.

2.) I'd get two kits of that PI series memory totaling to 8GB, which would be important for video editing and applications of that sort.

3.) Unless you're planning to add another two HD 5870s later on, a Corsair HX750W would suffice for an HD 5870 two-way CFX setup.

4.) You'll need an aftermarket cooler if you decide to overclock - a decent and cheap one is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus.
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May 21, 2010 4:10:32 PM

The best value AND the coolest, quietest system would be the following:

- 1156 motherboard
- Intel i5-750
- HD5870 1GB video card
- 4GB DDR3 (I got the new G-Skill 1.35V efficient RAM)
- Windows 7 Premium x64 OEM
- Corsair 600W (or 750W)
- WD 640GB Black hard drive

I am a computer technician. I spent a LOT of time looking for the quietest system. Additional cooling info:
1) CPU Heatsink and fan ($40 to $80 but will be quieter. Read reviews)
2) 1 or 2x120mm case fans (get the quietest; they are just to keep the air moving out of the case)
3) Power supply intake and outtake should both bet outside of the case and NOT pulling in hot CPU air. Exception is if it if the case design has the PSU on the bottom

**Design notes:
- the i5-750 performs nearly identical as the i7-920 for most games but is $100 cheaper
- the HD5870 uses half the Idle power as the GTX480 and much less under load. Unfortunately, it`s a choice between power (and noise) versus PhysX or CUDA support. I choose a quieter system.
- the 1156 setup supports up to 1x16 or 2x8 PCIe v2. This is sufficient for 2xHD5870 with NO bandwith issues. The exact number is uncertain. Warning, some USB3 and SATA3 1156 boards have only 1x8 available of those features are enabled. I got the new Gigabyte P55A UD7 which has USB3, SATA3 and 1x16 or 2x8 support as well.
- more than 4GB provides no benefit, simply more HEAT (go ahead and Google). Only certain professionals using programs like Photoshops with massive RAW image files or video files need more RAM.
- I`m not certain of your hard drive needs. I use the 300GB Velociraptor which is more expensive and a second 1TB Green WD drive for backup and storage.
- Solid State Drives aren`t quite worth the money yet in my opinion. I`m waiting one more year for the quality and price to change.
- The NVidia GTX480 is a great card in all but power and noise. I want a system that can run fairly quiet when not gaming and unfortunately the current NVidia cards can`t do that, as much as I would have preferred PhysX and CUDA support (mainly just PhysX).

*a 1366 setup offers 2x16 PCIe v2 but costs more, and consumes more energy than the 1156 setup.
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May 21, 2010 4:19:40 PM

AMD CPUs presently only make sense at the low-end. The Intel i5-750 is an incredible CPU for the price. Just check out the benchmarks. Also note that even a $1000 6-core CPU made little difference in gaming as games aren`t that multi-threaded, as well as the graphics may limit things.

I got the i7-860 myself as I do other things than gaming, but the best value by far is the i5-750 unless you want a non-gaming system.
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May 21, 2010 4:41:44 PM

I don't think an i5 is appropriate for this build. If you look at his usage, he puts rendering and HD video editing. And he has a $1500 budget. He should be considering the thuban six core or the i7. I would suggest the OP look up some benchmarks with his specific editing software and see where those two are relative to each other. Then decide what the relative importance of gaming is to video editing/etc.

You might find that i7 makes more sense for you in gaming and only loses slightly to the thuban in your rendering/editing software. Then it's a judgment call.
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May 21, 2010 5:19:45 PM

2118497,4,79844 said:
- the 1156 setup supports up to 1x16 or 2x8 PCIe v2. This is sufficient for 2xHD5870 with NO bandwith issues.

- more than 4GB provides no benefit, simply more HEAT (go ahead and Google). Only certain professionals using programs like Photoshops with massive RAW image files or video files need more RAM.
quotemsg]

1. Incorrect. There is a 4% prefromance loss.

2. Incorrect. For rendering and video transcoding, 4gb+ of ram is good.

3. 1156 is not a good idea here. AM3 or 1336 at this budget.
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May 21, 2010 6:03:08 PM

personally i would go with performax build using the gigabyte mobo and mushkin memory
and normally i would suggest the haf 922 for case, but u should definitely measure that PC enclosure and post dimensions
even though u listed rendering, etc. above gaming, u listed the gaming usage as high end which leads me to think
that overall at the $1500 price range the i7 930 is gonna be the most appropriate

just one other thing of note: IN MY PERSONAL OPINION i find i have less problems building AMD machines
specifically dealing with the mobo and processor because the pins r on the CPU and not the mobo (intel used to do this, i dont know why they changed)
so if ur any worried about that (seeing as this is ur first FULL build) i would lean towards the AMD build as irreparable damage is less likely to occur

whatever u choose, good luck and have fun!
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May 21, 2010 6:12:07 PM

That's funny, I have more problems building AM3s than 1336s and 775s becuase the AMD CPU pins sometimes bend and then its a bitch to unbend them with teezers.
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May 21, 2010 6:13:47 PM

Everything we own will be outdated ina few years as far as PCs goes.

Anybody here game with a P4 and AGP? Hows Crysis doing with that?
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May 21, 2010 6:13:48 PM

builderbobftw said:
2118497,4,79844 said:
- the 1156 setup supports up to 1x16 or 2x8 PCIe v2. This is sufficient for 2xHD5870 with NO bandwith issues.

- more than 4GB provides no benefit, simply more HEAT (go ahead and Google). Only certain professionals using programs like Photoshops with massive RAW image files or video files need more RAM.
quotemsg]

1. Incorrect. There is a 4% performance loss.

2. Incorrect. For rendering and video transcoding, 4gb+ of ram is good.

3. 1156 is not a good idea here. AM3 or 1336 at this budget.
said:

Adding onto his:
4gb is becoming the new mainstream, it's become that way for even laptops priced low. If people didn't need any higher than 4gb then we would just be seeing 64-bit OS's in the past two years. 1gb is now dated as too low, 2gb is the moderate amount for basic pc's, 4gb is the gaming amount/rendering amount. 2 years from now most programs might need the benefits of having 6-8gb even in games, so why not buy now? Just like processors now, sure most programs only use dual/tri cores, but having a quad keeps you ahead for a few years.
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May 22, 2010 11:14:55 AM

Sure, for video cards. How long have we been using DDR1, 2, and now 3? Ram doesn't really change for a few years. I wasn't talking about video cards, video cards need to be updated once every two years or so to keep playing games on high. For processors, a quad core beats a dual, common fact. Get an athlon IIx4 or phenom IIx4 and you'll be set for three years in gaming and programming.
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May 22, 2010 11:30:43 AM

So if I got myself a i3-530 or a X4 955, you're saying in 3 years it will be good to go in a new build?

OR that I can upgrade grahics a that won't be bottlenecked?
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May 23, 2010 2:07:57 AM

builderbobftw said:
That's funny, I have more problems building AM3s than 1336s and 775s becuase the AMD CPU pins sometimes bend and then its a bitch to unbend them with teezers.


Normally i dont have a problem with pins bending, but when i do the AMD pins r easier for me to get at because the whole thing is sort of open in space
when the pins r on the board then i feel cramped :o 

but once again, its a personal thing, i think everyone has their own tendencies on this


one more thing, and maybe i should make my own thread elsewhere about this, but i also noticed a difference in the motherboards
for ethernet ports, and find that the AMD fitted motherboards have a much better compatibility with the cables and switches at my office (and at home)
dont know if anyone else notices this or cares to comment, but thought this was interesting nonetheless
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May 25, 2010 5:30:44 AM

Thanks everybody, for sharing. After looking at what everybody has to say (if you looked carefully, there were replies from folks with an i7-930 who recommended the x6 :D ), I've decided to go with..... <drumroll>..... the AMD. With a great card like the 5870 (and a motherboard I'm still undecided on), I'm sure I can build a system that can keep me going until the next big thing. Big up to the people who noticed the rendering-gaming-encoding priority list. While it sucks that I won't have CUDA--that is something I will miss more than PhysX--I'm glad than an alternative exists. I took a parallel programming with GPUs class in college, and it seems like the jump to OpenCL should be relatively easy.

Again, thanks for your input, and for not turning this into a war between the two camps. Both are sound, capable systems, but in the end I can only afford one. :sol: 
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May 25, 2010 5:32:31 AM

Best answer selected by wantitbad.
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