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Gaming Rig/Programming Schematics

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June 1, 2010 6:40:26 AM

After a long day of reading up on the latest and greatest in computer components I've created a list of parts that I chose for performance and price, thanks to tom's awesome guides. I'll be using Window's 7 Ultimate 64x bit. If not obvious in the thread title the point of this PC will be for gaming, and also for programming (major in college :)  ). This is my first rig ever created and I wanted you guys to comment on it's future reliability and flexibility (i.e. will I be able to switch motherboards w/o problem etc.), if it will run well together without components decreasing the performance of another, and simply are the components compatible!

Processor
Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition

Reason
This sweet thang can be over-clocked to mimic it's 3.4 Ghz brother with some price reduction included. It offers DDR3 RAM capability which is the area that RAM is floating towards as DDR2 becomes outdated which provides for future flexibility.

Motherboard
Gigabyte 890GX

Reason
A lot of consideration went into the picking of this model. Thanks to Tom's Building a Gaming PC guide I was able to narrow it down to this model. The only drawback is that it doesn't have a eSATA cable port unlike its ASUS brother. The reason that's a semi-drawback is if I plan on backing up files on an external HD, I'll be able to do it, but with more power/time consumption. Otherwise it's ATX form factor, and the 850 south bridge, and wise build for ease of SATA cable placement put it ahead of the ASUS and MSI model.

Video Card
Crossfired HD Radeon 4850

Reason
Most of the influence for the decision for this card came from the biggest bang for your buck, 2010 edition, for video cards. This duo makes for a beauty of a price with a high performance rating. But another consideration would be a single 4890. What do you guys think?

Memory
4GB (2 x 2GB) 1600-1333 DDR3 RAM.

Reason
I haven't picked out a specific manufacturer yet because honestly I am very unsure of myself when it comes to RAM. I read several articles about how the amount of RAM and the speed at which is runs, affects a 64 bit system. I noticed that past 3-4GB of RAM, the system ceases to benefit. Also in a 2009 article (which slightly reduces its credibility) I noticed the difference between tightly clocked 1600 DDR3 RAM and normally clocked 1333 DDR3 RAM was negligible. Any advice for the noob?

Hard Drive
This is very very uncertain for me! I know my board is capable of RAID 5, but that is a high power consumption and it cuts my max capacity of my HD in half! Due to the lack of a eSATA port should I be running RAID 5? Or should I maybe consider RAID 0-1. The only files I can see being of any importance are my written programs, which are also stored at school. Also would solid state be beneficial? I think when using RAID you need equivalent HD sizes so SSD could get pricey. Help me tom's hardware community!


Hopefully you guys can offer me some insight into the confusing world of PC building!

Thanks in advance!

Best solution

June 1, 2010 7:03:37 AM

Twin 4850s gives you the most bang/buck if you can find them at $100. I hate that they always do that in their system builder setups. Its a decision based on getting the maximum performance today with no consideration to future expandability or system longevity. 4850s are one generation behind and burn more power/generate more heat than newer 5000 series cards. They will also never do DX11 which may become desireable in a year or two. You should consider a couple other options. A single 5850 and saving some money on the PSU and Motherboard will give you the same or better performance at far less power and heat. The cheaper option is a 5770 which is about 50% faster than the 4850 at about 50% higher price and has DX11 at a fraction of the power and heat. You could even be prepared to add a second 5770 and get much faster performance than twin 4850s in the future still at a a fraction of the power/heat.

You gave no thought to one of the heart of your system? (the Power supply). Get a good quality Antec, Corsair, Seasonic power supply that is big enough to handle your chosen graphics solution then add a bit for aging and expansion.


Forget raid unless you have data integrity needs. If you do then you are looking at least 3 identical HDDs in raid 5 and you will loose one of them space wise. If you want speed then you should be looking at a good 80-120GB SSD and a good 500gb platter HDD (500gb or 1TB samsung F3 or Seagate 7200.12) for data. A good large external HDD is a good way to backup your data, and there are various online services that will let you backup to them over the internet for a small amount.
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June 1, 2010 7:04:48 AM

^ Nice parts...but some suggestions...
I dont think its a good idea to go with 2x HD 4850s now...There are newer cards like the HD 5xxx series out now...
RAM - Get a good RAM from GSKillz, Corsair or even ADATA are fine...But stay away from OCZ as I have seen a lot of complaints about them lately...

HDD - I dont think you would need RAID 5...You can get a eSATA add-on card if you want to...Or get the ASUS board...The SATA port placement shouldnt be a big issue if you wont use many HDDs in your PC...

And dont forget to get an aftermarket CPU cooler if you want to maximize the potential of the CPU - CM Hyper 212+
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June 1, 2010 7:05:44 AM

Thank you for the quick response!

So you think grabbing a 5,000 series card, then crossfiring it at a later time is a better idea?

Do you use RAID on your HDD? If so, what level? Or, how do you backup your hard drive?

thanks for the advice!
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June 1, 2010 7:05:55 AM

Honestly, without knowing what gaming you intend to play, at what resolution, I can't speak for your Gfx cards.

But here's the skinny. If you already own a 4850 then it's perfectly fine to buy another and add to it. But from what I remember, 1 GB 4850s cost around 120-130. You would be better off buying 1 5850 for a little bit more.

As for hard drives, I'd suggest baby steps. You never want to do anything too crazy with your 1st build. As long as your motherboard supports RAID, and your case has room for hard drives you're fine. Just get a simple 500 GB OS Drive and maybe a 1 TB Media drive. If in the future you want to dable in SSDs or RAID arrays, upgrade then. But for gaming or programming, you wont ever need RAID. Well maybe a RAID 1 if you decide to never back up your primary drive.
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June 1, 2010 7:14:18 AM

I have a large USB external hard drive and back up to that.

Knowing the games you play, the resolution/size of your monitor, your tolerance for dropping down settings and your budget are necessary for making a precise "best" recommendation for graphics. The 5770 is the bang/buck DX11 card, but its a bit weak at 1920x1080 for some people.
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June 1, 2010 7:15:24 AM

This is very very good advice!

@cmcghee358
This is a fairly noobish question but what is the purpose of a media drive and why am I storing 1TB of space in it?

I plan on playing a mix of WoW, Warhammer: Age of Reckoning, Crysis series, Dawn of War, and Mass Effect 2.

@batuchka
That board has everything that I need, except no reviews! How's the reliability on that board?

@dndhatcher
Yeah the reason I forgot about the power supply was because I was wrestling with a power calculator and I had not completely come to solid components that I wanted in my rig so I figured I should just skip out on it. Probably should of mentioned it though!

The resolution I'll be using is 1680 * 1050. I like to keep the graphics on my games fairly high, but then again I don't place very system intense games, besides crysis. Im trying to stick in the 1300-1450$ range.

As a side note, does anyone know how complex it would be to split the HDD so I could run linux on one portion, and windows 7 on the other? And how would that effect the overall amount of HDD I would need?
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June 1, 2010 7:20:37 AM

Best answer selected by Scooter92.
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June 1, 2010 7:24:49 AM

For me, I keep all my music, videos and just crap on a seperate drive. You want your OS/Gaming drive to be as empty as possible. Nothing that isnt required, it keeps it running smooth. Less crap to dig through to find what it needs.
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June 1, 2010 7:41:21 AM

A 5770 will play Crysis on medium settings at 1680x1050. (Crysis at medium looks as good as most games on high, IMO). A 5850 should play cryisis on high.

What he means by a "media drive" is a cheaper, slower 1TB drive to hold stuff you dont use all the time. Get a good fast 500GB Samsung F3 or Seagate 7200.12 as a boot drive for OS and applications.
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June 1, 2010 11:54:53 AM

Will the Samsung F3 slow down my rig seeing as how it's only 7,200 RPM? Should I be shooting for a faster rate?
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June 1, 2010 12:15:26 PM

The Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB is one of the best drives available at this time. It's not that it's "just" 7200 RPM, it's that it uses 500 GB platters meaning it only has 1 platter to search for information on, rather than 2 320 GB(640 GB HDDs) It's also exceptionally reliable. Good drive, and very affordable, 55 bucks on newegg.com
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June 2, 2010 5:47:00 AM

A 500GB single platter compared to a 250GB platter means that during the same rotation, the 500GB platter reads twice as much info. Platter density is as important as rotational speed for throughput. For bootup, there is a higher benefit to shorter seek times. An SSD is 100 times faster than any HDD can possibly match. Seek time used to be the reason to buy a high RPM HDD, but compared to an SSD its not even in the same league.
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