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Rebuilding after death: $1000-$1500 range.

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July 18, 2010 9:11:30 PM

Preface: My 5 and a half computer died two days ago. It's most likely that the video card failed, but it could also have been the PSU, which is why I'm hesitant to include that in the "resusable parts" section. Also, one of the memory slots on the mobo died about a year ago, so I decided the multiple symptoms thing was a sign to just start anew.

I built it using a guide from Tom's. Never OC'd it, it was rock solid for 4-5 years til it finally started to show signs of age (and travel, and heat).

My brother's computer died a year ago at about the same age. I built him one using a monthly template from Tom's (the $1000 range one) and... was kind of disappointed in it. The most annoying thing is that his RadeonHD 4870 X2 (numbers might be wrong) runs hot and sounds like it's attempting vertical takeoff when he plays WoW of all things. For a system that was three years ahead of mine, the performance in the games he actually played wasn't really that much of an upgrade. Sure, he burned through Crysis and it was beautiful, but the day to day stuff like WoW/Team Fortress 2 was hardly $1000 different.

So I come to look at the recommended $1000 build this month to see an AMD/ATI combo with an MSI (yuck) mobo. I've heard nothing but horror stories about MSI and the thought of my case actually hovering in midair due to an ATI card's fan would probably prove to be a bigger problem than the sweetness factor of a hovering computer would indicate.

I've been out of the hardware loop for awhile now. Card names now look like UPC numbers. I have no idea if MSI ever got their *** straight or if ATI+AMD isn't a heat/power hog like it was in the past. I always ran nVidia after the bad days of the Radeon 9800 Pro and ATI's incompetence with writing drivers. I've had a solid time with AMD CPUs but I haven't tried an Intel in years. Again, my outdated knowledge is that Intel ran cooler and had fewer stability problems... which meant more room for OC'ing later in life.

TLDR VERSION:

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week.

BUDGET RANGE: $1000-1500

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers. Sound card if those matter any more.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Attempting to avoid manufacturers (especially mobo ones) with crappy/ultraforeign customer service. Considering avoiding ATI due to heat/noise problems in the past. Slight desire to try an Intel CPU.

OVERCLOCKING: Somewhere between No and Maybe. OCing is something I do when the system is old and I don't care if it dies or not.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No to Maybe. SLI/Crossfire never seems to matter in the day to day games I play -- indeed, it tends to cause more problems.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200.

OPERATING SYSTEM: Windows 7 (would like to hear if Pro/Ultimate is worth it).

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The PC needs to be quieter than a hair dryer on full blast. I'd like to avoid RAID unless that has magically gotten as stable as a single drive after all this time. A 1TB hard drive would be nice as long as access times are good. No clue about how much RAM I need, I'm thinking 4GB to start with the option to upgrade later. Onboard sound is fine if it's as good as I hear it's become (I used a Creative XGamer PCI).

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Thanks so much for reading. If this is too big an order, I understand... I just don't know where else to go with such a huge question!
July 18, 2010 10:40:08 PM

MSI has gotten much better as far as quality and ATI/AMD are very power efficient nowadays. For your budget however, this is what I would build for just gaming.

CPU/Mobo: i5 750 and EVGA P55 SLI 132-LF-E655-KR LGA1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard

HDD/PSU: Spinpoint F3 1TB and Corsiar 650TX

GPU/OS: Gigabyte GTX460 1gb and Windows 7 Pro 64-bit

RAM: G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

CD/DVD: LG DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model GH24NS50 - OEM


Total comes out to $974.93 before shipping but I didn't put a case in because I'm not sure what you would like but if the high end of your budget is $1500 then you can pretty much get any case you want. Should be a solid build and should last you some years. Future upgrades you can do when you feel you need it is put in more ram and maybe a second 460 but for the most part you should be fine with just the above.


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July 19, 2010 7:44:33 AM

Agreed with Fharper... id' still go Gigabyte motherboard tho!
Also, SLI has come a long way with Fermi (gtx 4xx series) and the newest drives. Adding a second video card can boost your gameplay by up to 98% compared to 1 card... about 85% increase average.
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July 19, 2010 8:00:30 AM

Thank you for your responses!

A couple more questions:

-Should I go for an aftermarket CPU cooler? I know the standard wisdom is that I'd be a fool to build my own system and then not OC it...

-If I were to SLI two of the GTX460s, would I need a beefier PSU?

Otherwise those all look like solid components. I really appreciate the time you took to point them out to me.

One more thing -- I'm trying to build this to be a system that'll last another four-five years (in terms of raw futureproofing, but also in terms of how much room I have for upgrades). With that in mind, are these components still good choices?

Oh, and sorry for being such a noob! It's been a long time...
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July 19, 2010 8:11:10 AM

Theres not technically a need for an aftermarket cpu as long as you attempt only mild overclocking, with minimal voltage tweaks, since your still well within your budget, you can consider one if you wish.

The general recommendation for 2 gpus is a 700+ watt unit, you may be able to pull it off but I shall defer to other posters opinions. In general you might want to just get a slightly more powerful single card, such as the 5850 or 470, since your budget still has some leeway, rather than 2 cards, which runs into this power supply issue.

As for future proofing, the build looks very solid, things you might want to consider are:

A mobo with 6 Gb/s sata and USB 3.0 ports, within the next few years, these should become mainstream.

Also if you plan on adding a second card later, a 700+ psu might be useful also.
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July 19, 2010 8:18:13 AM

Like Jonsy2k said,

CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-750HX 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Go with HX series instead of TX series for corsair PSU. I know it cost a little more but it's worth it.

Should be enough for two SLI 460s.
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July 19, 2010 8:34:30 AM

Actually no respectable reviewer has stated the GTX 470/480 a better buy than HD 5850/5870 precisely due to the factors u ffeared most namely heat, noise at load and add in high power consumption to that list

" I'm trying to build this to be a system that'll last another four-five years (in terms of raw futureproofing, but also in terms of how much room I have for upgrades"


A few things u should know about SATA/USB 3.0 tech and mobos as shown by our very own forums here
USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, Motherboards, And Overcoming Bottlenecks
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/usb-3.0-sata-6gb,25...
Also note that LGA 1156 shall be usurped by LGA 1155 as soon as end of this year/possible Q1 next year if u intending to sink a wee bit on chip + board FYI...
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2010/04/21/intel-...
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Best solution

July 19, 2010 8:45:31 AM

for that resolution i would go with a better gpu
this build costs $1,289.90 with an ssd

  • cpu&gpu: x4 955 & xfx 5870 (won't sound like a jet engine flying and much faster than the 460 better performance and u can cf in the future)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

  • mobo&os: gigabyte 890xa (very high quality mobo and can cf)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

  • case&psu: lancool pc-k62 & xfx 750w (both are top notch quality)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

  • ram: g.skill eco 4gb(very fast 1600mhz and cl7 @1.35v kits also ver high quality)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • ssd: intel x25-m 80gb(best quality ssd and very fast)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • hdd: samsung spinpoint f3 1tb(also very reliable and fast hdd)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • odd: a sony optirac
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    this can max out any game at that resoloution

    oh and guys not all games support sli and handle it very well

    and also as batuchka said 1156 is going to be replaced by 1155 in the next year and 1336 is also going to be replaced in a year or two

    oh and a heatsink
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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    July 19, 2010 6:02:26 PM

    Thank you mrhos and batuchka for your responses! I'd like to respond to a couple of your points:

    batuchka: I'm considering the GTX 460, which has been reviewed as significantly quieter and colder than the previous 4xx and HD 5xxx lines. Less powerful? Sure, but I think the most graphically intensive game I've played for more than ten hours was Dragon Age. This year my major PC buys will be Guild Wars 2, Elemental, and Cataclysm. Only GW2 has the chance to give a modern card any kind of challenge -- unless Elemental turns out to be horribly programmed, at least.

    mrhos: Having both an SSD and HDD reminds me of the days of a small dedicated swap drive, which is something I didn't buy into at the time and hardly sounds necessary now due to the ever-plummeting RAM costs and the rise of mainstream 64-bit. Plus, from a consumer viewpoint, SSD still doesn't seem to be quite "there" yet. In a year or two they could be HDD replacements, and I might consider buying one then. Right now, not so much.

    As for the 1155 point, the problem here is that I need a computer this month, not next year, and of course there's the issue of there constantly being a new and improved something on the six months from now horizon (more like twice that as you wait for the brave early adopters to sort out all the issues).

    Anyway, I see some of your recommendations are overlapping with the OP's, so I'm lead to believe that those are solid parts.

    My only remaining concern is the i5. Is that really going to be enough in the futureproofing department? All I can find opinion wise is "yeah, the i5 is good." All the real talk is about the i7 though.

    Again, I'm way out of the loop with all this. I'm a software nerd, hardware is "oh that's nice" and then I mostly forget about it ( /shame ). My apologies for coming off as truly ignorant.
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    July 19, 2010 6:40:45 PM

    deepruntramp said:

    My only remaining concern is the i5. Is that really going to be enough in the futureproofing department? All I can find opinion wise is "yeah, the i5 is good." All the real talk is about the i7 though.


    Virtually all modern games are GPU-limited, not CPU-limited. The i7s are technically better, and they offer hyperthreading, but unfortunately, that's pretty much useless for gaming.

    The primary reason to go with a socket 1366 solution for gaming is to get the additional PCI-E lanes so that you can sli/crossfire at 16x/16x, rather than 8x/8x (max for socket 1156). However, it's been shown that even with 2 very high end graphics cards, the loss going to 8x/8x is in the neighborhood of 4-5%. For a $200-300 increase in total system expense, it's not worth it at your budget.

    If you're doing something other than gaming with your computer, it might be worthwhile to consider going with an i7, but it's going to reduce the amount you can spend on a graphics card.

    Based on your username, I'm going to guess that you're at least familiar with WoW. If not...oh well. As anecdotal evidence, I'd offer that with an AMD Phenom II X4 and an ATI 5870, I get well above 60 fps (at 1920x1200) in most zones with graphics on Ultra. Dalaran, of course, is slower, but I still get between 25-30 fps at prime time. 10-man raiding is usually 50-60fps as well. I have taken to turning down shadows to low, because I don't really care, but one wouldn't need to. In other words, mrhoshos96's build is pretty decent, though I'd probably go with a different SSD (not that the X25-M is bad, I'd just spring for something larger) or, more likely, no SSD at your budget.

    For most users, Win7 Pro or Ultimate are not worth it. Microsoft has a feature comparison site that should pop up pretty quickly on google. The most useful features in Pro I can think of are XP Mode and backing up to the network. Ultimate adds full disk encryption, I believe, and the ability to switch to any language set on the fly.

    SSDs are worth it if you have the budget, but at your range, I agree with you that they're not there yet. $1500 is the absolute minimum budget at which you want to start considering an SSD for a gaming build.
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    July 19, 2010 9:56:08 PM

    I'm trying to stray from ATI due to my brother's HD 4870x2. I'm in college, and during the time I spend back at home the noise that thing puts out (at ~60% fan speed) drives me crazy to the point of feeling tingly when the thing isn't on and the room is actually silent. It's about as loud as a hair dryer. When he's played something (like WoW or Dragon Age) for a long time, it gets so loud I can hear it clear through my (closed) headphones.

    Noise was no big deal to me until I sat in the same room as my brother's rig. Now it's a baby step behind Performance and Efficiency (power/temperature and cash wise) on my priority list.

    I've never had an ATI card that hasn't run hot (excepting this brand new laptop I bought, which is actually quite powerful and almost dead silent even at load). AMD I don't have much of a problem with, but now that they're in bed with ATI, it intuitively seems like a bad idea to cross the line and mix and match AMD/nVidia or Intel/ATI.
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    July 19, 2010 10:05:49 PM

    For the most part, the latest cards, especially from ATI have excellent power efficiency and run pretty cool and quiet. In the high end cards it's actually the nvidia ones that make more noise than ATI. The choice is really up to you because it's your money and you can't really go wrong with either. And as for the whole mixing the AMD/nVidia or Intel/ATI, AMD generally doesn't have SLI support for nVidia cards but if you're going to have just one card it really doesn't matter.
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    July 19, 2010 10:07:14 PM

    I haven't experienced the 4nnn series, but the new 5nnn series uses a smaller die and is reportedly much quieter and cooler than the earlier series. I'd google reviews (specifically for noise level comparisons) if you're not dead set against ATI.

    I'll also point out that the nVidia 470s and 480s are louder and run hotter than current-gen ATI cards. No idea about the new 460, of course it's competing with either the 5850 or the 5830, depending on who you ask.

    There's no reason to avoid matching Intel/ATI or AMD/nVidia (except that most AMD boards don't SLI). Really, seriously, there's nothing wrong with it.
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    July 20, 2010 11:37:57 AM

    another build but this time with the gtx 480(fastest single gpu on the market) and wit no ssd

    cpu & mobo: x4 955 and asus 870 (no need for sli cf mobo if u don't want it)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    gpu & os: zotac amp gtx 480 & win7 (has a great cooler on it it's alot quieter than the reference and alot cooler)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    psu & case: xfx 750 & lancool pc-k62
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    ram: g.skill eco 4gb
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    hdd: f3 1tb
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

    Subtotal: $1,207.91
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    July 20, 2010 7:40:17 PM

    I have the 2 GB version of that card. I have no complaints. Fan noise isn't noticeably louder than the rest of the system with case fans at 100%.

    I haven't run it with case fans on low/off, but I could do that tonight and let you know.
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    July 20, 2010 7:52:50 PM

    I appreciate it, but don't feel like you have to. Is there anything out there short of a benchmark that can even use a gig, let alone two, yet?

    Not to be cheap, but the $50 difference might be better spent on the processor. Or Starcraft 2! =p
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    July 20, 2010 8:06:55 PM

    Yeah, I doubt there's any significant difference in the performance. I don't believe the 1 GB version was available when I was buying. And the cooling/noise should be the same.
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    July 21, 2010 6:42:59 PM

    I just wanted to thank everyone for being so helpful in this very dark time. I'm about to go ahead and order my build and wanted to run it by everyone one more time for critiquing or "hey noob, that's not going to work!" advice.

    The build is identical to mrhohos' first AMD/ATI build in this thread. All I did was change the CPU and GPU and drop the SSD and extra heatsink:

    +CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 (figured I'd bump it up from the 955 for an extra $20)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    +GPU: SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 5870 1GB (reported as very quiet and cool -- the XFX had multiple noise and heat complaints)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    -SSD: Removed, I don't think the tech is there yet and don't see why I'd need one.

    -Heatsink: Removed, I'm awful with thermal paste (pretty sure I fried a CPU with Arctic Silver due to its conductivity a long time ago), plus I won't be OCing much, if at all, and even then it'd be late in the rig's life. I imagine the generic packin will be fine.


    The rest is courtesy of mrhohos:

    mrhoshos96 said:


  • mobo&os: gigabyte 890xa (very high quality mobo and can cf)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

  • case&psu: lancool pc-k62 & xfx 750w (both are top notch quality)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

  • ram: g.skill eco 4gb(very fast 1600mhz and cl7 @1.35v kits also ver high quality)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • hdd: samsung spinpoint f3 1tb(also very reliable and fast hdd)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • odd: a sony optirac
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • Subtotal: $1,189.91 (not as huge a drop due to upping the CPU/GPU and losing the combo deal as a result)

    So, any other opinions or warnings before I pull the trigger?
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    July 21, 2010 7:08:27 PM

    Looks good. FYI, this morning I didn't have time to test the GPU under load, but I turned off the case fans & put my HSF on low, and the 5870 Vapor-X was inaudible at under a foot.
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    July 22, 2010 7:09:46 AM

    Best answer selected by deepruntramp.
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    !