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$1500-2000 Build Tuning

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July 21, 2010 7:25:48 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I can make up my mind.

BUDGET RANGE: $1500-2000

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Movies, Minor multi-tasking (browsing, music, etc..)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor, Mouse, Speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: NewEgg, TigerDirect

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD, ATI, ASUS

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe, I have no experience, though it is always a possibility.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe, I have no experience with either. If it makes sense to, I will.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've only ever owned laptops before, but I finally have a steady enough lifestyle to invest in a desktop. I've helped family/friends build/upgrade their PCs, so I know my way around, but I've never actually had to sit down and plan out a complete performance build. I have a decent grasp of how everything fits together, but I just don't have the experience with the specifcs of motherboards/PSUs/RAM/cooling and power, to just chose at random. Though I'm not scared of diving into BIOS and playing with settings, I can generally figure things out, one way or another.

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CPU (I'd like to stick with the underdog.)
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor ----- $179.99

MOBO (Is the high-end worth the extra expense? or would the BioStar be sufficient? or should I go right in the middle with the Gigabyte?)
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard ----- $229.99
or
BIOSTAR TA890FXE AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s ATX AMD Motherboard ----- $139.99

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GPU
ASUS EAH5970/2DIS/2GD5 Radeon HD 5970 2GB 512 (256 x 2)-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Dual GPU Onboard CrossFire Video Card w/ Eyefinity ----- $699.99

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RAM (I understand it would need to be adjusted for the CPU. Is it worth the trouble, or is there a comparable brand?)
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM ------ $104.99

COMBO

PSU CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply ----- $129.99

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Hard Drive
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive ----- $74.99

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HSF
Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler ----- $34.99

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Case (
COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case



Estimated Total: $1400-$1600


Is there anything I am missing? Extra fans? Cable? I'd hate to have everthing arrive only to discover I am missing some minute detail.
Thank you for any assistance and advice. It is very much appreciated.

More about : 1500 2000 build tuning

July 21, 2010 7:34:56 PM

I'll just point out that if you stick with AMD, you will be getting an inferior build. I'll post a couple of better/cheaper builds, though. I'm making sure the links are working and price are right.

High performance:

CPU/PSU: i7-930 and Corsair 950W $385 after rebate
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $210. A high end board is worth it, just not an expensive one. You don't want to skimp on quality.
RAM: Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $155 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $680. It's better to leave an upgrade path open.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75. Just as fast as the other drives, yet much cheaper.
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $18
HSF: Sycthe SCMG-2100 $35

Total: $1,648

AMD:

CPU/Mobo: X4 955 and Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 $285 after rebate (with free game). The 965 is just a factory overclocked 955. Don't pay more than you have to.
RAM/PSU: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and Corsair 850W $190 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $680
HDD: Samung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $18
HSF: Sycthe SCMG-2100 $35

Total: $1,373
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July 21, 2010 7:52:37 PM

Well, assuming I stick with AMD (I know, I know), and go with the RAM/PSU combo, is there a reason I shouldn't go with the 890fx series? If it is simpy a matter of cost, I'm looking at $1400, which is a-okay with me, and I wouldn't mind spending extra on a motherboard that would last a couple extra years.

And would I have trouble fitting the 5970 into the HAF 922?

And if I don't have a need for HT, would the i7 really provide any substantial performance increase over the amd? Spending less on the processor makes it easier to drop $700 for a GPU, and with the AM3 socket, it shouldn't be too difficult to upgrade the CPU, should the need arise.
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July 21, 2010 8:06:40 PM

No, the HAF 922 is virtually the same size as the 932, only a few inches in it. And will easily fit a 5970. If you're thinking about crossfiring 5970s at any point, then yes you'd probably want two full PCI-E lanes, ie an FX chipset, be it 790FX or 890FX.

You are extremely unlikely to need a soundcard, as onboard is very good quality these days.

The Velociraptor you linked earlier is one of the older ones, which can be outperformed in some aspects by a fast 1TB 7200 model, and certainly isn't worth the extra cost over one.

Motherboards will usually come with at least 2 SATA cables, check a review or newegg picture to determine the actual number of SATA cables included, which will cover a HDD and an optical drive.

For the heatsink, I think the Mugen 2 comes with a little packet of thermal compound, personally I think it would be worth it to get a tube of Arctic Silver 5, MX-2/3/4 or something so that you've got a high quality one, and can use it in the future.

I don't think you will need HT or the processing power that an Intel chip has over a Phenom II, certainly not based on the stated usage, and if you ever do, you could just get a Bulldozer chip when they come out.
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July 21, 2010 8:32:10 PM

I'm not a fan of the 8xx chipsets mainly because the main benefit (being able to drop in an X6) can be had for free through a BIOS update. I'd rather save the money.
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July 21, 2010 9:34:13 PM

@madadmiral 5970 isn't worth it 2 gtx 460's in sli can easily beat it
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July 21, 2010 9:39:30 PM

Except that they're not always more powerful. Dual 460s can beat the 5970, but only in certain games or with certain settings that benefit nVidia cards. The 5970 is still more powerful in general. Also, you'd lose an upgrade path.
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July 21, 2010 9:43:22 PM

I did look into dual 460s or 5850s, but the consenus did seem to favor the 5970 and the option to upgrade.

And the MUGEN-2 was out of stock, but the Sycthe SCMG-2100 came with some of the mx-2, so that works out well. And I'll look into a better boot HD, thank you for pointing that out.

I'm still not sure what to do about the motherboard, the BioStar 890fx is available at the same price as the Gigabyte 790x, however it doesn't offer USB 3.0 support. How long before that becomes relevant?
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July 21, 2010 9:46:32 PM

haysmj said:
And if I don't have a need for HT, would the i7 really provide any substantial performance increase over the amd? Spending less on the processor makes it easier to drop $700 for a GPU, and with the AM3 socket, it shouldn't be too difficult to upgrade the CPU, should the need arise.


There won't be a significant difference between the i7 and a Phenom II X4. With the 5970, any difference that you might see will be "theoretical" fps anyway, as the 5970 is generally pumping out frames faster than your monitor can display them.

I don't see a problem with going with AMD for a high-end gaming rig. Then again, I built one myself, so I'm probably biased. But it does offer the better current upgrade path should you find you need more processing power and don't want to switch sockets.

If your budget is really $1500-2000, go with the 2nd build MadAdmiral posted and add an SSD to it, for a boost in day-to-day computing/ease of use.

I have the Crosshair IV, and it's nice, but don't buy it if you're not going to use the additional features, and don't buy it if you're not comfortable with the possibility of ending up with one that has the northbridge overheating issue (google it or PM me).

EDIT: I expect USB 3.0 to become relevant within a year or two. I think it's worthwhile, but I agree with MadAdmiral that you don't necessarily need the 890FX chipset. If you have the money to spare and it interests you, it's not a terrible route to go...it's just that it costs more, and you shouldn't spend your money on the motherboard if you have other areas that you can spend money where you'll gain performance.
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July 21, 2010 9:50:07 PM

I know the GTX 460 is a nice card, I like it very much, but it's the not the solution to all problems.

The SCMG-2100 IS the Scythe Mugen 2.

I think SATA6G will be relevant next year, when there will be plenty of SSDs that would really benefit from the extra bandwidth that it provides. You could probably get some USB3 devices already, but I don't think USB3 is a big deal generally.
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July 21, 2010 11:26:01 PM

Silvune said:

The SCMG-2100 IS the Scythe Mugen 2.


Oops. Duh. I was all confused about that, makes sense now.

coldsleep said:

I have the Crosshair IV, and it's nice, but don't buy it if you're not going to use the additional features, and don't buy it if you're not comfortable with the possibility of ending up with one that has the northbridge overheating issue (google it or PM me).


Understood. Would the gigabyte 890fx be a better compromise for the price?
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August 1, 2010 7:27:22 AM

Best answer selected by haysmj.
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