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Thoughts on Gaming / Performance Workstation Build

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July 13, 2010 5:27:14 PM

Alright, so I'll be building a new system soon, and I have selected a set of components. Just wanted everyone's thoughts on it.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next few weeks, probably before the end of the month BUDGET RANGE: ~$1600 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Productivity, Multimedia, Programming, Video Encoding, Video Editing, Creative Design, Modeling, CAD, Music Production, basically everything

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Speakers, OS, and Software

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect, B&H, NCIX, I'm pretty open COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Core i7 for this build. I considered AMD's hexacore offerings, but the OC abilities and per core performance of the Intel seem more suitable. I buy the best parts, so I'm not limited to certain brands.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Higher than 1920x1080, so in my case 2048x1152

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: In essence I'll have a Core i7 930 set to x21 and OCed to about 4.2 GHz. I pretty confident with the parts below, but I'm not completely sure on the CPU cooler. I know the Coolermaster V8 is capable of running an i7 at 4.2 GHz, but I haven't looked at the newer coolers. Also, anyone know if/when the HD 5850 will get a price drop (since nVidia released the GTX 460)?

Parts:

Motherboard: Asus P6X58D-E

CPU: Intel Core i7 930

PSU: Corsair HX-850

RAM: G.Skill 6 GB DDR3

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3

GPU: XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850

Case: Cooler Master Storm Scout

ODD: Asus DVD Burner

CPU Cooler: Coolermaster V8

Monitor: Dell SP2309W

Keyboard: Logitech G15

Mouse: Figuring that out

Thanks
July 13, 2010 5:34:50 PM

I'd make several changes (I've added some combos too):

CPU/PSU: i7-930 and Cosair 750W Modular 80+ Silver $385 afer rebate. Save some money. A 850W unit isn't needed.
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $210. A better, cheaper board.
RAM: G.Skill Pi 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $170. Faster sticks.
GPU: GTX 470 $280 after rebate (amazing price). Since you're doing more than just gaming.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $83
HSF: Scythe SCMG-2100 $35
Monitor: Asus 23" 1080p $170 after rebate

Total: $1,418
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July 13, 2010 5:37:50 PM

FYI not every i7-930 chip will hit 4.2ghz

RAM Pi 6gb kit would be better $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If your software utilizes CUDA, you're gonna wanna go Nvidia.

GTX 470 would be the choice.

The scout is a small case. If easy transport isn't a priority, you should get HAF 922 instead.

HSF wise, a $30 (on amazon) CM Hyper 212 Plus would work for less. Best out there though would be megahalem with some sflex or slipstream fans.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For monitor, the Asus 23.6" are just as good for less
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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July 13, 2010 5:39:56 PM

Just 1 note on mad's build. Scythe Mugen + G Skill PI RAM = 2 unusable RAM slots on that board >.<

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July 13, 2010 5:44:10 PM

I keep forgetting the Pi series sticks are really tall. Isn't that only if you add the extra fan?

Either way, here's cheaper sticks: Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $155 after rebate.

EDIT: Forgot to talk about the 460/5850 pricing. The 460 isn't competing with the 5850. It's competing with the 5830. The 5830 is in an odd price/performance position. It didn't give you a performance increase that was useful when compared to the cheaper 5770 and more expensive 5850. Basically, you could spend less and get the 5770 and get roughly the same observable performance at lower resolutions (i.e. 1600x or lower). If you spent more on the 5830, you'd be wasting performance at lower settings, but be unable to handle the higher settings that the 5850 could. It's a bad deal all around.

The 5830 already dropped in price before the 460 came out, so I don't think they'll be another price adjustment. That said, both cards are in the same situation as before: too expensive for too little performance. The $200ish range for a GPU falls into a hole in budgets. Any build that could afford them is likely to be squeezed to get the 5850.
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July 13, 2010 5:58:39 PM

That CPU/PSU combo isn't cheaper. It's about $35 more. I know the 850 Watts is overkill, but I like leaving a fair amount of headroom. I may go down to 750 if I feel the 850 gets too expensive. As for the CPU, yes I know not all 930s will hit 4.2, but isn't that an easily attainable goal for most chips?

I've looked into the Gigabyte board, and just curious, what exactly makes it better than the Asus other than price?

Also, looking at that RAM/cooler combo I noticed that it would block two slots as well, however the Corsair sticks you listed seem like a good deal.

As for the GPU, I should have mentioned that I'm not doing anything that will take advantage of the nVidia card (no CUDA utilization). So, the 5850 works out just fine for me, especially since it runs cooler.

I will look into the other cases you two mentioned. One of the reasons the Storm Scout works for me is because it fits very well into the space I have. Do these other two have any distinct advantages in airflow?

As for monitor, the Asus is nice, but I don't want anything with 1920x1080. That's way too low of a resolution for my liking.

Now for the coolers. CM Hyper 212 is one I looked at, but I remember reading that it isn't nearly as cool as the V8. The Megahalem is tempting though. How are the MUX-120s and Coolermaster V10s?


Edit: And thanks for the info on the 5850 vs GTX 460. I just read speculation on other forums that ATI would respond to this at some point. I just don't want to see a price drop the week after I order.
And thanks for the quick replies.


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July 13, 2010 6:17:32 PM

You're right on the CPU/PSU. I didn't look at all the links, just the ones I had to check prices, so I didn't realize you were using Microcenter. Ignore the combo and get the 750HX anyway. 750W will provide you with plenty of headroom. 850W is just extreme for any single card solution.

It's performance is basically the same. It's also packed with features. But it's mostly the price. Why spend more for a board that's basically the same?

At that price, the 470 is still attractive. Unless you can step up to the 5870, you may want to consider sticking with the 470.

All of the case are basically the same on quality and airflow. However, the prices on the other cases are better. The Storm series is always overpriced.

On the monitor, I will point out that you will be struggling to game at that higher resolution. Assuming you don't step up the the 5870.
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July 13, 2010 6:36:47 PM

Alright, sounds good on the PSU. Just wondering then, can it handle Crossfire if I ever go that route?

You make a fair point on the board. I guess I'm just more familiar with the Asus BIOS. I'll do a bit more research on the Gigabyte board, then.

The problems I have with the GTX 470 is the ridiculous amount of heat it puts out. And considering I'll be OCing the 5850, would I not be better off with the ATI solution?

Alright, I see your point on the case. The Scout just had the right dimensions and looks for my setup, but I'll take a second look at the other offerings.

For the monitor, I'll probably stuggle with some newer games, yes, but I can turn it down to 1920x1080 if I have to. Thing is, because this computer is going to be used for all the stuff I do, the more pixels the better. Plus, it's only 2.4% more pixels than 1920x1200, so it shouldn't be too much more demanding.
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July 13, 2010 6:41:35 PM

A 750W could handle Crossfired 5870s or below, including overclocking.

The 470 performs somewhere between the 5870 and the 5850, though closer to the 5850. However, it's currently priced at $280. That's a crazy low price. For that price, you wouldn't get better price/performance.

The 5850 is already struggling with some games at 1080p and max details. It will certainly struggle at higher resolutions.
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July 13, 2010 6:49:32 PM

Well then, I suppose I could move down to the 750. I'll see what the final price comes to and make my decision accordingly.

I definitely see the value in the GTX 470, but the ludicrous temperatures are a huge turn off. It also doesn't OC as well either, correct? I'm thinking about at least bringing the 5850 clocks at or around the 5870's level.

Well, again I wouldn't really mind turning down the resolution to 1920x1080 for gaming. But having the extra pixels is a must for the other things I do. After all, 1920x1080 is only 30 more horizontal lines than my notebook display, and that's only 15". I'd be OK with 1920x1200, but sadly 16:10 is becoming rarer.
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July 13, 2010 6:53:01 PM

Per frostytech, Hyper 212 plus performs better than the V8.
http://frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=2419&pa...

frostytech's numbers are on LGA 775 though.

The NH-D14, Tower 120 extreme and Megahalem are generally considered best 1366/1156 HSF's.

Um CUDA?

CAD, Premier and other threaded program benefits greatly from CUDA. Performance is anywhere form 11x-100x faster than even the best Xeon 8 core 16 thread processors.
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July 13, 2010 7:04:53 PM

Hmm, interesting. I'll check those coolers out then. And thanks for that link.

Yeah, I'm familiar with the advantages CUDA brings, but I don't use CAD and Premiere that extensively. I'm only a hobbyist, I don't use it for school or work, and the projects I actually do using these applications aren't advanced enough for CUDA to be that big of an advantage. But maybe I'm overlooking something here, so I'll reconsider, and perhaps see the pros/cons of both CUDA and Stream? Also, I should mention that OpenCL has been more on my radar than CUDA, since I see that becoming the standard in due time.


Thanks for the informative post.

Edit: Wait a second, does CS5 only support CUDA? No OpenCL?
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July 13, 2010 8:56:46 PM

Alright, I've been looking at the GTX 470, and you guys might have a point. Can anyone comment on the overclocking ability? And any ways to get that temperature down? I really don't want to run something that hot.

But, DX11 performance and CUDA might just win out.
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July 13, 2010 9:00:48 PM

I have no idea on the overclocking ability. I do know you can do some with it, but don't know how much. You really shouldn't need to do a whole lot anyway. As for ways to get it cooler, you pretty much just need to make sure the case gets good airflow and nothing is constricting it inside. You could look at aftermarket cooling, but I don't know how well any of that works.
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July 13, 2010 9:16:03 PM

Azone42 said:
Alright, so I'll be building a new system soon, and I have selected a set of components. Just wanted everyone's thoughts on it.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next few weeks, probably before the end of the month BUDGET RANGE: ~$1600 After Rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Productivity, Multimedia, Programming, Video Encoding, Video Editing, Creative Design, Modeling, CAD, Music Production, basically everything

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Speakers, OS, and Software

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect, B&H, NCIX, I'm pretty open COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Core i7 for this build. I considered AMD's hexacore offerings, but the OC abilities and per core performance of the Intel seem more suitable. I buy the best parts, so I'm not limited to certain brands.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Higher than 1920x1080, so in my case 2048x1152

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: In essence I'll have a Core i7 930 set to x21 and OCed to about 4.2 GHz. I pretty confident with the parts below, but I'm not completely sure on the CPU cooler. I know the Coolermaster V8 is capable of running an i7 at 4.2 GHz, but I haven't looked at the newer coolers. Also, anyone know if/when the HD 5850 will get a price drop (since nVidia released the GTX 460)?

Parts:

Motherboard: Asus P6X58D-E

CPU: Intel Core i7 930

PSU: Corsair HX-850

RAM: G.Skill 6 GB DDR3

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3

GPU: XFX ATI Radeon HD 5850

Case: Cooler Master Storm Scout

ODD: Asus DVD Burner

CPU Cooler: Coolermaster V8

Monitor: Dell SP2309W

Keyboard: Logitech G15

Mouse: Figuring that out

Thanks


It looks like a great build. However don't be so sure as to think your i7 930 is going to reach 4.2Ghz just like that. It really depends on the individual CPU. If you are lucky then it will do it without much problems, but if not, you might have to pump excessive voltage into it...and thats where you are going to be entirely dependent on your motherboards ability to steadily supply that voltage to it. So you might not want to skimp on the motherboard. In addition, if you do start pumping voltage then your CPU is going to heat up, which is why I would consider water cooling. However if you don't want to then get this cooler:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And replace its fans with ones of higher RPM/CFM. And buy the highest end thermal paste you can find. If this doesn't the budget, first thing I'd do is downgrade the powersupply to a TX...having modular is just a luxury. In addition, you said your going to use CAD...CAD can easily bring down 2 hexacored xeons like the w5680 running together and it can stress out quadro 5800's running in dual or even triple SLI...so it really depends what you will be doing with cad.
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July 13, 2010 9:28:21 PM

Azone42 said:


Edit: Wait a second, does CS5 only support CUDA? No OpenCL?


Adobe is a real mixed bag. Some of their software is very well threaded, others not so much. Premier is the biggest one that benefits form CUDA. Aftereffects is mostly openGL.

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July 13, 2010 9:58:22 PM

Yow, these temperatures really are concerning. OC ability isn't very special, and looking at the comparison graphs with the 5850 running much cooler, I'm starting to lean back to the red camp. Hmm, to CUDA or not to CUDA. Let's see, most of the applications I use that would benefit from CUDA I don't use extensively enough to really benefit (except perhaps encoding). And ATI does support OpenCL, so perhaps there are alternatives available. With CAD, again I am just hobbyist, so nothing I work on will even come close to maxing out an SLI or Xeon setup. Heck, my current Core 2 Duo/8600m GT notebook doesn't struggle much either (with the correct graphic drivers, that is).

And I figured I wouldn't be able to reach 4.2 GHz with stock voltage. I do intend on pumping more voltage as I start going up in frequencies, I actually don't expect to go beyond 3.7 without increasing it. Now, for the NH-D14, I looked at all of the cooling suggestions in this thread, and that was my favorite. By simply going down to the 750 watt supply, I can easily stretch for this, but I'm going to have to see if space won't be an issue with the Scout.

Edit: Also, I noticed the Corsair H50 is also in this range. Worthy choice?
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July 13, 2010 10:19:33 PM

hi, I hope I can be of help here on the space issue for the 5850 with the scout, I just bought a build recently with those two same items, I can tell you the 5850 fits in the scout tightly yes but it does fit.

the scout is a great case and I like it more than the 922 and in my country it was cheaper by about $40(the 922 was $130 and the scout $90)
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July 13, 2010 11:28:33 PM

Scout won't work with the NH-D14. It's closer to a micro atx than mid tower.

Cheap water cooling isn't worth it. Performs worse than big air.



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July 13, 2010 11:32:54 PM

The Scout does seem to be a bit tight, but this guy installed the NH-D14 in the Scout without any trouble, although there doesn't seem to be too much room towards the top of the case.

And yeah, I looked at some comparisons and you're right. I think I'm set on the NH-D14. I'll be updating the specs momentarily.
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July 13, 2010 11:56:22 PM

I was thinking side fan, which you'll want especially if you want Fermi's. Per CM, max clearance for HSF is 165mm if no side fan installed. Nh-D14 is 160mm. Not enough space left for a side fan. Guy above must have bent side panel quite a bit to have side fan and HSF installed.

Quote:
From the Scout manual:

1. Please ensure that your CPU cooler does
NOT exceed 6.5-inch (165mm) in height, it
will cause damage to the CPU cooler and the
side panel of STORM SCOUT.

This measure is without any side panel fans installed, so if you want to use the upper side panel fan location, you need to include the thickness of this fan (standard is usually 120x25mm) in the calculation. The result would then be 165-25=140mm (that's how tall your tower cooler can be, with side panel fan installed).


http://www.cmstorm.com/forum/showthread.php?t=764
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July 14, 2010 12:09:11 AM

Hmm, that's true. From what I can tell, he only has the lower side fan installed. Hmm, perhaps I should move up to the HAF 922, but there are some aspects of it that I'm not warming up to. Does it have any dust issues? (ie. is that side vent completely open?)

Thanks again, you all have been very helpful.
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July 14, 2010 5:26:18 AM

Small update, I just found out I can get the Asus P6X58D-E along with an Antec 902 for $260 after rebate, but only today. Should I go for it? It seems like a fantastic deal, and I presume it should have no trouble with the NH-D14, correct?
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July 14, 2010 5:33:37 AM

Correct. 902 is actually a great deal ATM.
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July 14, 2010 5:35:46 AM

Alright then, looks like I'll be ordering that combo.
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July 14, 2010 8:00:20 AM

banthracis said:
Just 1 note on mad's build. Scythe Mugen + G Skill PI RAM = 2 unusable RAM slots on that board >.<


Sorry, don't mean to thread-jack, but my build is shaping up to be pretty much the same hardware...

Quote:
CPU/PSU: i7-930 and Cosair 750W
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $210
RAM: G.Skill Pi 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7
GPU: GTX 470
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB
Case/Optical: HAF 922


If I'm going to keep the G.Skill RAM, what HSF would you recommend to support OC'ing the CPU?
Or should I just buy RAM that isn't as tall

And I'm assuming with a GTX 470, I should probably buy another 200mm fan for the side of the case, right?
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July 14, 2010 2:28:12 PM

Cm Hyper 212 Plus works perfectly fine. $30 on amazon. I've personally never been a fan of spending 2-3x the money on a HSF to get 3 C cooler temps.

A Megahalem also works but blocks 1 RAM slot (not an issue if you only install 6gb RAM). I'm actually not sure how many the Noctua blocks.

Side fans should not be considered optional with Fermi's =D
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