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Gaming/Entertainment System around $1500

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July 22, 2010 3:06:09 AM

Well, my computer died of death this weekend. And rather than try to plug in pieces on an old rig, I'm looking to put together a machine that will not only last a while but accept a few upgrades over the next couple of years. The i7 930 seems like a powerful component without being too pricey, and the gtx460 seems to be getting a lot of 'bang for the buck' notoriety.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: currently without a functioning desktop, so the sooner the better

BUDGET RANGE: under $1,500 preferred

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, movies, surfing, home office, and sometimes Autocad/Solidworks take-home work

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, 5.1 speakers, 24" monitors, and secondary hard drive carried over from old machine

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg, tigerdirect, fry's, whoever

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: usa

PARTS PREFERENCES: success with evga mobo, but nothing is written in stone

OVERCLOCKING: yes, but not immediately

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: yes, dual sli either immediately or in the near future, depending on build price

MONITOR RESOLUTION: two 24" 1920 x 1080 monitors, one hd ready.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I've picked out the following components below:

Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601930
$289.99


EVGA 01G-P3-1371-TR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
$229.99


or (if evga not available)

GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
$229.99

EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX X58 SLI LE Intel Motherboard
$199.99


CORSAIR XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C9
$139.99


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


LITE-ON Black 4X BD-ROM 8X DVD-ROM 32X CD-ROM SATA Internal 4X Blu-ray Disc Reader Model iHOS104-08
$64.99


The goal is to build a windows 7 machine that is great as-is, but has some upgrade potential. (more memory, additional sli pairing, psu with enough power for additional hardware, perhaps even tv tuner at some point) If the above parts don't raise any red flags, (and lord, please tell me if I am missing something obvious. heh) I guess I am looking for advice on what power supply and case would be appropriate.
And is there anything I am forgetting?
Do I need additional cooling for this system? Thanks for the help!
July 22, 2010 1:41:33 PM

I'll point out that while the 460 is a nice card, it's drastically under powered for you budget. It won't allow you to use multiple monitors as a single card too (if I'm understanding nVidia's Surround tech right). Also, BluRay is pointless for computers, and is just too pricey.

How often do you actually have to use AutoCAD on this? I'm asking because if it's very infrequent, a better build would be more focused on gaming and less on CAD, which would drastically change the recommendation.

Here's what I'd build (assuming CAD is infrequent):

CPU/Mobo: i5-750 and Asus P7P55D-E Pro $365
RAM/PSU: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and Corsair 850W $190 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $680. Massively better than the 460.
HDD: Samung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case: HAF 922 $90
Optical: Cheap SATA DVD burner $18

Total: $1,418. The i7 is a nice CPU, but for gaming it's unnecessary. The i5 is just as good in games, but massively cheaper.

If you use CAD a lot:

CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484
RAM: 2x Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $330 after rebate
GPU: 2x GTX 460 $460
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
PSU: Antec Earthwatts 650W $65 after rebate
Case/Optical: Coolermaster 690 and cheap SATA DVD burner $73

Total: $1,487
July 23, 2010 3:26:09 AM

The 460 doesn't support the use of two monitors? but why on earth does it have two dvi's? I'm probably totally misunderstanding you here, don't feel bad about correcting me. (Perhaps you simply mean the upcoming 3d feature? If so, that interests me little.)

As for the CAD side of things, it's something that will vary from week to week. I won't have to touch it for days, then I'll be knee-deep. While my intent is to spend more time on the entertainment side of things, I'd like to keep my system from being a liability when a massive dwg/assy has to be handled. The conroe/8800 combo I was using before really dragged on comparatively simple dwgs.

Is the second system you listed not going to breeze through all the games released over the next couple of years? I don't want to totally go cheap with dual 460s if they'll force me to drop video resolutions in games in the near future, but I also don't want to spend $600+ on a power-hungry card. Is there a good middle ground card that I could buy to pair with a more powerful system like the second one you listed... one that I could add a sli'd/xfire'd twin to in 6-12 months? I guess I want to have my cake and eat it too:p 

Thanks for the help, it's appreciated.
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July 23, 2010 8:06:50 AM

Let me just try answer for him.

A single 460 can support 2 screens. Whereas a single 5970 can technically support 6. Dual 460 can support 3/4(i'm not sure which of those 2 it is).

The 5970 isn't a powerhungry card at all. For it's performance it's one of the most effiecient cards on the market. And 460 sli is anything but weak. It'll perform marginally slower than a 5970. And when overclocked a 460 will reach performance levels of an overclocked 470. A 5970 will also OC like a champ however.

So bassically 460sli is slightly slower than a 5970 but nothing to warrent the price difference. But a 5970 offers a good upgrade path. Whereas 460 sli doesn't
July 23, 2010 12:04:11 PM

is there a good middle ground card that I can sli/cf later? I just can't see myself spending $680 on one component, whether it's a gpu/cpu or whatever. A $250-350 card that gets sli'd half a year from now is something I can live with, unless that won't be powerful enough to run most games at peak settings.
July 23, 2010 12:11:03 PM

From the sound of it, you're going to want to stay with nVidia. The problem is that the other new nVidia cards aren't any good at all. The 470 and 480 are overly expensive, under performing, power hungry and produce massive heat.

With what you're doing, I'd probably just go with the second build. It won't leave you with much of an upgrade path for the GPU, but you shouldn't need it for a while.
July 23, 2010 1:11:28 PM

ah, sorry if i gave off that impression. ati is fine, i've just always used nvidia. but if one of the mid-tier ati's doesn't require a large psu or extra cooling and can be cf'ed in the near future, that's groovy.
July 23, 2010 1:29:21 PM

Then go with an ATI HD5870

They're opposite of the 470/480's:
Bang for your buck, performing very well, power effecient and low heat. :) 

2 of them actually perform better than that 680$ HD 5970

Best solution

July 23, 2010 1:37:53 PM
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You're going to want to stay with nVidia because of your uses. ATI's got excellent gaming cards, but they really struggle in other applications. If you were to go for the HD 5970/5870, they'd slow down the CAD work significantly, but would have an upgrade path. If you go with the dual 460s, you'd get a little lesser gaming performance and won't have an upgrade path, but significantly improve the work parts. Your uses pretty much put you right in the middle of what would definitely be better. The gaming side points to ATI, the CAD side points to nVidia. So it really comes down to your personal choice. Do your research and make sure you know what the build you're getting can and can't do.

Yes, two 5870s would outperform an HD 5970 at stock, but it cost $120 more. Once you OC the 5970, they'll be about equal.
July 23, 2010 1:40:38 PM

Best answer selected by bakabito.
July 23, 2010 1:45:12 PM

Understood. I don't want to pigeonhole my system, the i7 dual 460s is the way to go. Thanks for the reassurance - who knows what I would have done wrong. One last question - is there any need for additional cooling in this setup, or am I good to go as is?
July 23, 2010 1:46:28 PM

You're fine as is until you start overclocking, then you'll need to buy an aftermarket cooler.

EDIT: I should heavily stress the research part. Make sure to at least look and see if the programs you're running for CAD work take advantage of hyperthreading and CUDA. Look for some benchmarks. If they don't, you won't see any benefit from the i7 or the 460s.
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