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Help With Choosing Components for a Custom Pre-Built System

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June 23, 2010 10:53:49 PM

I'm thinking of ordering a pre-built system from AVA Direct in the next few weeks. Having some trouble figuring out the features/benefits between the various 1TB drives and some other components. I plan to use the system primarily for:

1) Occasional Gaming (SC2)
2) Photoshop (hobby photographer, not pro)
3) Video editing (hobby)
4) Streaming movies to a PS3
5) Possibly recording video via TV Tuner

I don't plan to overclock and would like to buy a system that's fairly "future proof" in case I get into games that require more oomph than SC2 or 3D games. Looking to spend around $1700.

So far, I've been focusing on the following components:
1) Case: COMPUCASE HEC 6C28b
2) Power supply: Antec Truepower T750
3) MB: ASUS P6T X58
4) CPU: Intel I7-930
5) RAM: Corsair 6B XMS3 PC13-12800 1600MHZ CL7 (7-8-7-20)
6) GPU: 2 Sapphire Radeon 5830s 1gb (crossfire)
7) HD: 1TB Westernal Digital. Can't tell the benefits between the following models (all 7200rpm):
a- Caviar Green WD10EARS 3GB/s 64MB Cache
b- Caviar Blue WD10EALS 3GB/s 32MB Cache
c- Caviar Black WD100FALS 3GB/s 32MB Cache
d- Caviar Black WD1002FAES 6GB/s 64MB Cache
8) Sound: Creative X-Fi Xtreme 7.1

I'm fairly set on the CPU, GPU & RAM components, but could use suggestions on the Case, power supply, MB & HD.

Thanks for your help!
June 23, 2010 11:08:55 PM

Dont get a crossfire setup from the start, it keeps you from doing a cheaper upgrade in the future. I would suggest a single 5850 or 5870 for now, keep the TP-750. When you need better performance in games you can just add in a second one.

Do they offer the samsung F3 1TB hard drive? Its faster in sequential read/writes than most other drives out there.

Why are you getting a sound card? Modern onboard sound is more than adequate for most peoples needs, unless you have high quality speakers you wont get any difference between onboard and discrete sound.
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June 23, 2010 11:17:22 PM

hunter315 said:
Dont get a crossfire setup from the start, it keeps you from doing a cheaper upgrade in the future. I would suggest a single 5850 or 5870 for now, keep the TP-750. When you need better performance in games you can just add in a second one.

Do they offer the samsung F3 1TB hard drive? Its faster in sequential read/writes than most other drives out there.

Why are you getting a sound card? Modern onboard sound is more than adequate for most peoples needs, unless you have high quality speakers you wont get any difference between onboard and discrete sound.


Thanks for the advice, hunter. I'll ditch the sound card. They do have the Samsung drive you suggested. How does the Western Digital's "6Gb/s 64Mb Cache" compare to the Samsung's 3Gb/s 32Mb Cache? Sorry - I haven't shopped for parts in about a decade, so I'm not sure how these specs translate into actual performance.
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June 23, 2010 11:24:38 PM

Flinron- you can save a considerable amount of money on the build by building it yourself. We can help you pick out the exact parts you'd need, and there are plenty of guides on how to put the computer together (it's really not hard, you pretty much just have to plug stuff in to the right spot- be sure you're static free :)  )

Otherwise, i agree with Hunter. You don't need a sound card, and stick with the F3. Also, you're better off going with one 5870 (or even a 5970) instead of 2 5830s.

That build is (eh) at best, usually these companies throw in seemingly-random parts that won't perform nearly as well as a custom built computer for the same price.
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June 23, 2010 11:41:09 PM

The F3 has 500GB platters compared to the 333GB platters in the 1TB Western Digital drives so the data in the disk is packed tighter so it gets a much better sustained transfer rate, the 6Gb/s refers to the SATAIII connection and the max transfer rate that the interface can handle but no HDD comes anywhere near to saturating even the 3Gb/s of SATAII, the cache size tends not to make a difference.

You can see the actual relative performance by taking a look at the charts
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...
http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-3.5-desktop-har...
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June 23, 2010 11:54:09 PM

Omniblivion said:
Flinron- you can save a considerable amount of money on the build by building it yourself. We can help you pick out the exact parts you'd need, and there are plenty of guides on how to put the computer together (it's really not hard, you pretty much just have to plug stuff in to the right spot- be sure you're static free :)  )

Otherwise, i agree with Hunter. You don't need a sound card, and stick with the F3. Also, you're better off going with one 5870 (or even a 5970) instead of 2 5830s.

That build is (eh) at best, usually these companies throw in seemingly-random parts that won't perform nearly as well as a custom built computer for the same price.


Thanks Omniblivion. I've considered building my own, but I don't think I have the temperment for it. Besides, I just priced the components above (after ditching the sound card and adding the Samsung F3 HD) and it comes out to about $1450. The AVA Direct quote is $1600. I'm willing to chuck in the extra $150 for them to do the work.
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June 23, 2010 11:54:37 PM

flinron said:
Thanks for the advice, hunter. I'll ditch the sound card. They do have the Samsung drive you suggested. How does the Western Digital's "6Gb/s 64Mb Cache" compare to the Samsung's 3Gb/s 32Mb Cache? Sorry - I haven't shopped for parts in about a decade, so I'm not sure how these specs translate into actual performance.


Those two disks both have 500 GB platters, so they're approximately equal at streaming reads, and by most other performance measures. Generally the Samsung (and the Seagate 7200.12 disks) can be found for less than that WD drive. An additional note, WD only uses 500 GB platters at 1 TB and 2 TB, so none of the other WD models are preferred. Cache size doesn't provide a significant performance impact.

As far as I can tell, the 6 Gb/s is mostly a marketing gimmick, because only the very newest 10k rpm drives burst above 3 Gb/s right now, and that only briefly. Neither of the disks in question will max out 3 Gb/s.

Finally, the color-coding WD does roughly translates to the following:
Black = performance 7200 rpm
Blue = consumer 7200 rpm
Green = storage/low-power 5400 rpm
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June 24, 2010 12:08:28 AM

One other question now that you guys have suggested the Radeon 5870:

Are there substantial differences between the various brands of radeon 5870s? AVA offers the following:
1. Gigabyte GV-R587UD-1GD 850Mhz - 1GB
2. Gigabyte GV-R587OC-1GD 870Mhz - 1GB
3. Gigabyte GV-R587SO-1GD 900Mhz - 1GB
4. Microstar R5870 900Mhz -1GB
5. XFX 850Mhz - 1GB

Also - is there a benefit to getting a network card vs using the onboard controller?
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June 24, 2010 12:27:03 AM

a) No, there isn't a significant difference. It appears that the #2 & 3 are factory overclocked, but I wouldn't pay a lot more for that, as the ATI config software includes the capability to overclock with just a couple of clicks. XFX and Gigabyte are more known manufacturers, though.

b) I wouldn't get a separate network card. In almost all cases, your LAN is not going to be the bottleneck, it will be your ISP/the internets in general. Onboard is perfectly fine.
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June 24, 2010 1:57:46 PM

Here's my concern around getting a Radeon 5870 out of the gate, rather than 2 crossfire 5830s. From what I've read, 2 5830s will outperform one 5870. If I go with the 5870, and decide to upgrade 3-5 years from now, will the 5870s still be around in order for me to get a 2nd one?

If not, I'd be forced to buy 2 new GPUs at that time anyway. So why not go with 2 5830s now for the performance boost?
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June 24, 2010 2:36:28 PM

If you are upgrading in 3-5 years there will be vastly superior cards out and you will probably be upgrading your system as a whole. If you decide to upgrade within the next two years there will still be 5870s around. Yes the 5830s are more powerful, but what is your plan if next summer you decide that you need more graphics power to keep gaming at the level you want? You will have to get rid of both of them and get a a 5970 or something similar.
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