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Gaming PC, circa 2000$, nvidia gpu

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June 7, 2010 12:49:13 AM

Hello :)  I've seen some nice systems around the 2000$ mark, especially this one here:
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/forum/287328-13-gaming-15...
However, I'm pretty much forced to go for a Nvidia GPU (see below), therefore the new thread...

Thanks in advance for taking the time to read through this and possibly even answering.
If I should have left out any important information or asked for the impossible: Just point it out!
(or use ALL CAPS and start calling me a n00b - whatever you prefer)

Purchase date
Most likely the last week of July. However, if there is a good reason to wait, I could hold my patience until the last week of August ;-)

Usage
The obvious uses: Web browsing, watching movies and last but most defiantly not least - playing games
The less obvious ones: Photoshop, Illustrator (Vector Graphics), Second Life, Blue Mars (CryEngine2 based), some limited CAD (Siemens NX6)

Parts not required
I'm not going to choose any fancy mouse/keyboard/speakers, however if you think you know a black keyboard that has a good response and a "square" design (i.e. no softed/rounded design elements): please share

Country of Origin
The system will be located in Switzerland, however getting parts from Germany won't be a problem either.


Parts preference
It has to be a Nvidia GPU as I use software which does not like ATI at all (not amd/ati's fault, but due to the software I use being developed by monkeys)
Also, I currently have an irrational preference for an Intel CPU - however, given good reasons I'm obviously going to choose an AMD if that's whats recommended here.

Overclocking
No, preferably not

SLI
Yes, the system has to be capable however my budget probably means that a second GPU will have to be a future upgrade

Monitor resolutions
Here comes the fun bit: I'll buy a new monitor as well (not part of the system's budget, max 400$ maybe?).
I'd love to have true 1080p HD capabilities (I don't own a TV, not enough room in my flat for that).
Apart from the price limit, I'm also physically limited by a maximum height of circa 50cm (there's a shelf above my desk)

I also currently use a second in extended desktop mode, an ASUS VW198 at 1680x1050
I'd love to keep that secondary monitor as I multi-task a lot (even if it's just writing this post and watching a movie on the second screen)

Case
I do not want a fancy looking "gamer PC". The case should be black (my desk has black legs), but I do not require side windows, neon, color leds, etc
This doesn't mean it has to be a cheap case - just a "classy" one. Good quality and no plastic "easy-to-break-off" bits are what make a good case for me, however I'm not quite able to afford a Lian Li case.

Cooling
Keeping in mind I'm not going to OC, I'm still considering watercooling if it means that I can reduce noise (Reviews of the 400er and 200er GPUs showed some serious noise production). If it's too expensive for my budget I will just turn up the speakers a bit ;-)

Bits and pieces
*USB 3.0
*Certified Wireless USB (not very high priority)
*eSata (again, low priority)
*FireWire (that should be obvious)
*Bluetooth (same as above, should be obvious)

*Sound: 5.1 would be nice, 7.1 would be better

*BluRay: A read/write drive would be nice, however I can always just keep a slot free and wait for them to become cheaper
*Secondary optical drive: It should have a second optical drive (dvd multi r/w), I also liked "lightscribe", it's however no way near necessary

Additional notes
I haven't used a desktop pc in nearly 4 years now (my usage required me to have a laptop and my pouch required me to buy only one computer), however I now have a decent Lenovo W500 Thinkpad and some money to still get a desktop.
I'm not planning on assembling the system myself, especially if it should indeed be WC, however I do know stores that will assemble the PC for a few Euro more and are willing to buy-in hardware they don't offer themselves.

Thanks again for reading all this (I'm assuming you didn't cheat and just scrolled to the bottom) and for any help ;-)

Alex
June 7, 2010 4:25:31 AM

Quote:
Best OP evar!
1 TB Samsung spinpoint 7200.12


are you referring to the SEAGATE 7200.12 series? or did you mean samsung spinpoint f3's?

I believe the f3's perform marginally better.. black series from wd are fine too..

for case, is a haf 932 really necesary? i think you can go for a quality mid tower, not a full tower..
and you forgot a psu.. good 650W or 750W should be good depending on how you want to upgrade in the future..
June 7, 2010 7:16:42 AM

HAF isn't really what I'd go for if the case needs to be standard black.

Antec 300 or Cooler Master 690 II
Related resources
June 7, 2010 7:49:15 AM

Quote:
Best OP evar!
Basically you are looking at:
i7 930
GTX 480
6 GB good RAM ( corsair, gskill or mushkin)
1 TB Samsung spinpoint 7200.12
haf 932
a cheap optical drive and a blu ray drive,
I'll let someone sort out the particualrs and links for me :p 


Actually, I figured about as much, but I didn't want to "prejudice" anybody with any of my (potentially wrong) premade conclusions...being limited to nvidia is already a big limitation, so I wanted to keep any other components "free" and make the budget the only other real limit
These "particulars and links" however are exactly why I came here so your post isn't the most helpful one ;-)

For the price of the haf 932 I can easily get a Lian Li PC-K7B - actually I only now realised how "cheap" some of their cases are, so if there are no layout reasons against the case (for example with WC), I guess I'd go with that (as mid tower of course)
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K7B Black Aluminum/ SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

About the Hard drive: I have a 500GB external and I'm still far away from filling that up - and only 10% of the stuff on there is really important anyway, so I guess that a 1TB hdd would be a bit of a waste and would eat up a lot of money if it should have decent speeds. I guess I'll need a max of 200GB for my OS (yeah, Windows 7 Pro 64 bit OEM most likely) partition, which will also automatically be my steam games folder partition :-)
Now, is a SDD of that size a good investment considering my budget? Or should I stick with a "normal" hdd?

The processor I won't argue, that was my pick as well - and although it might not be necessary to pack that much CPU power for pure gaming, it's always nice to have some spare CPU power (for example for video encoding)

The GPU: The 480 is obviously Nvidia's best card currently and if run in SLI with another 480 it appears to really rock...
However, it's not the best value-for-money I've ever seen...but I guess that's just something I'll have to accept.

Cooling: If possible in my budget, I'd like to get a PC that's as silent as possible - maybe watercooled, maybe just very good aircooling.
Is it possible to wc 2 480's in SLI? From what I saw in review images, it looks like that one's a pretty cramped configuration.

Alex

June 7, 2010 7:58:05 AM

I apparently can't edit my posts :-(
Therefore:
If you're now wondering what a "SDD" is, that's obviously supposed to be "SSD"...
And after checking my current system, 80GB would be ok and 100GB would be perfect for the primary partition.
June 7, 2010 8:18:14 AM

SSD is a nice to have bonus, though personally I feel they are way to expensive for the gains they give.
The 480 is not value for money, but Nvidia never ever is, but the extra spent on a 480 over a 470 is worth it - especially if all that will mean is sacrificing the SSD.
The noise maker in your machine will be the 480 without a doubt. You will want at least a 750W PSU, ideally more if you plan on SLIing 480s in the future
June 7, 2010 9:32:21 AM

As far as I understand, most 480s are currently pretty much the reference model with different (logo)stickers on them?
What about water cooling? Can I easily start with a single 480 and later add a second 480 to the cooling loop?

About the SSD: Well, if it's hdd or gpu, I'm more wiling to spend money on the GPU
June 7, 2010 3:30:53 PM

ImperialAlex said:
As far as I understand, most 480s are currently pretty much the reference model with different (logo)stickers on them?
What about water cooling? Can I easily start with a single 480 and later add a second 480 to the cooling loop?

About the SSD: Well, if it's hdd or gpu, I'm more wiling to spend money on the GPU


Hello.

From what I know, the 480 is actually the best value from nVidia (unless you go count the power issue), since it does scaling in SLi way better than any other nVidia series. And that was before the new 256 drivers that are supposed to make the 400 series even better.

I also know that EVGA sells a 480 and 470 with waterblocks, no fans. And, as long as you're loop is capable, there's no problem adding a 480 later. By capable I mean it's a 2X120 radiator at least. Personally, I think a 3X120 would be awesome to cool the whole PC (CPU+GPUs).

Yeah, SSDs are expensive at the moment, so it's better to go for the GPUs.
June 7, 2010 7:39:52 PM

Thanks for the EVGA advice, this looks perfect - they are 150$ above the "normal" 480s, but I guess that's worth having a perfectly fitting heatsink for watercooling

So, it will be

GPU 1:
GeForce GTX 480 Hydro Copper FTW - 650$

GPU2: (planned for future upgrade, same as GPU1)

CPU:
Intel Core i7-930 Processor 8M Cache, 2.80 GHz, 4.80 GTs Intel QPI -300$

Case:
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K7B Black Aluminum/ SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case -100$

Now, this leaves Motherboard and RAM as main questions

RAM:
Ideally, 8GB, split into 2x4GB would be best, as that allows very easy upgrading (up to the currently seemingly ridiculous 24GB but then again "640K of memory should be more than enough for anyone" XD), that would put me at around 350-450$ for Ram

Totalling up, that's already 1750-1850$ and the system doesn't even have a PSU yet :-)
Now, I could go for 6GB of RAM (3x2GB), which would be more like 350$, however that also means I would have to throw them away when I want to upgarde to 24GB.
Just to see where this is heading, I'm for now going to assume money grows on trees and I'll stick with the 2x4GB variation

Motherboard:
No clue - I'm completely lost in the world of motherboards, so I'll just go with a recommendation made here

PSU:
Keeping in mind I'm interested in putting a second 480 in at some point, I'd say having some spare power can't hurt, so it might be more like 900W or 1000W then 750W as suggested here...

Watercooling:
I guess I'm sort of in the wrong category for more detailed info on that?

Alex
June 7, 2010 10:27:02 PM

For the motherboard either the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R, Asus P6X58D-E or P6X56E Premium. I'd say the Gigabyte is the best one as it has a lot of good features, is high quality and cheap.

I agree with you about the PSU and two 480s. The release review for it from Anandtech showed it drawing 850 watts under full furmark load. So the Corsair TX950 would be a solid choice. I believe (maybe mistakenly) that there are power considerations for WCing as well. I wouldn't know what they would be tho.

2x4GB sounds like a solid choice to me.

I'm usually about finding the absolute lowest priced quality part necessary for the rig, based specifically on the site the person is going to use. So using a site you can't use in a foreign country to you doesn't make much sense to me, as the cheapest part in one site/country will not be the same in another. For instance there could be something cheaper than the TX950 available that would be very high quality, and also maybe modular which would remove some of the hassle of getting unused cables out of the way.

If you're going to be putting a waterblock on the CPU then you could probably save some money getting the OEM version of the i7-930.
June 7, 2010 10:42:09 PM

6gb will be fine, also a 3 way system with Triple Buffer RAM works best anyway. In reality you are NEVER going to need 24gb of RAM for this set up for what you do. Gaming requires no more than 4gb, and unless oyu are really hardcore into other things I doubt you will even need more than the 6gb you would get for your system. Certainly you would not need to throw away your RAM at any point - maxing out the slots with 2gb sticks will be way in excess of your needs, so you don't need to worry about 4gb sticks
June 8, 2010 3:17:55 AM

Regarding PSUs: You got to plan to use it at 50% the most. Why? It's because the PSU has its best potential under 50% load.

The best way to calculate this is to get those PSU calculators (which I unfortunately can't link at the moment) or you could "guess".

It's recommended to have a 1000 watts PSU for 2 480's and a i7. You get the full and low power ratings of the whole system, calculate a 75% of the power usage and get one that 50% at that.

That's a safety margin (really big one, good for upgrades that won't eat a lot of power, like a possible sound card, more HDDs, etc.).

That's how I try to do stuff. Since it's hard to me to have a oportunity to buy a PC, I go for upgrade-safe builds.
June 8, 2010 9:14:01 AM

Thanks for all your help so far!

PSU:
1000W or 1200W it is then. (going to use the advanced method of "guessing" here XD).
Koolance has this very, very nice 1000W watercooled PSU here, but again, the price is making me cry ;-)
Koolance 1000W Liquid-Cooled Power Supply

Ram:
Then I'll go for 3x2GB, here I agree with Silvune: No point in looking for a good offer here, that I'll have to see for locally

Mobo:
I'm not a fan of ASUS, and the price and features on the gigabyte make my decision easy here:
GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Now, given that I won't be using SSD and don't need massive amounts of storage, I'm still looking for a good, speedy, hdd

Once I got that, I'll probably go and head over to the Watercooling section with this :) 

Alex
June 8, 2010 1:29:48 PM

SATA 6 is only useful if you use SSDs, because HDDs didn't even saturated SATA 3. You MAY have a faster access to the drive itself, but no much boost.

I suppose Tom's has a article about that (I know I read one somewhere...).
!