New Build - Software/Media Dev, Gaming - $1,500-2,000?

Early planning for new build

Mainly need recommendations for CPU/GPU/Mobo/RAM to work best together + PSU to run it, case to fit it.

The template....
APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 1-2 weeks? ASAP but need to get my research done first.
BUDGET RANGE: flexible but let's try and stay <$2k; cheaper would be great. Basically looking for the least-expensive I can build w/ i7-??? + sweet graphics, nice mobo, RAM, cooler, PSU, case.
SYSTEM USAGE: games, A/V production, software dev, -- I list gaming first because it's probably the most performance-intensive app, and will live or die by CPU/GPU combo, but all are equally important. I want it to kick butt all around!
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: HDs/SSDs, optical drives, OS, monitors, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc.
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg? whoever is cheapest + good customer service. (Don't want any BS if I have to send something back.) Edit: Micro Center is an acceptable retailer as well, as long as prices are competetive. They have a store nearby and, while most items seem overpriced vs. online, their CPU prices seem legit.
PARTS PREFERENCES: basically none but things like lifetime warranties, community acceptance, trade-in programs, etc. count for a lot
OVERCLOCKING: Yes if it's a proven config, simple to implement, + air-cooled. Nothing too extravagant (i.e. liquid-cooled). I don't want to say "no-brainer", cuz I can dedicate a little more effort to it than that, but OTOH I don't want to have to be obsessing, tweaking, or have this be the issue that is holding me back from using my new comp. I need this thing like a month ago. Basically if it is anything much more involved than setting some clock speeds or whatever in the BIOS, and maybe some jumpers, I probably don't want to mess w/ it right now. It seems OCing is not the esoteric art it once was, so a basic OC can be done "easily" as long as you have the right BIOS, mobo, cooler, PSU, RAM, etc., correct? If so, sign me up!
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Definitely Maybe
MONITOR RESOLUTION: CRTs FTW so no native resolution constraint at this time. Gaming I just use one @ 1600x1200 (+/- depending on the game); Desktop basically that x2. Hard to envision not switching to LCDs during the life of this build, but probably not very soon.

CPU: Looking for advice here! looking @ high-end consumer-level processors such as i7/Phenom II. Probably no "X"'s tho; too much $. Minimum 4 cores. Considering 6 but obviously no point if the software support isn't there. Also going to inquire at other specialist forums to get some perspective on this.

GPU: looking @ the high end but not really sure exactly what. 1xHD5970? 2xHD5870? 2xGTX460? High FPS with no hitching means everything to me(!) and I will usually dial down settings to get that. I see ppl saying high-end cards are overkill for my kinds of resolution but I am skeptical. If it is delivering truly rock-solid 120FPS @ max of all settings, then we can start talking overkill. Would also like to run 3 or more displays, or have the capability to do so in the future. Not really for gaming, but for desktop work, definitely.

Mobo: Need plenty of SATA fast enough for my Intel X-25Ms. Probably 2-4 mechanical HDs to hook up, too. No intention of RAID at this time but would be nice to have the option. Want ample slots for RAM & expansion cards esp. fastest performance for SLI/Crossfire (I don't know much about this but I presume you want/need as much x16 as possible to get max performance out of multiple gfx cards?); I have some PCI classic boards I would like to throw in, so PCI slots are welcome, but I don't want this requirement to be bracketing me into a cruddy unscalable mobo; I'll drop them if needed. Something with "just pop it in" compatibility with better CPU for future upgrade -- like when the day comes that a 6-core CPU is $500-600. ;] Edit: Also forgot to mention that I want a mobo/bios/whatever that provides good-if-not-excellent monitoring/instrumentation capabilities. I would assume most of these OC-oriented boards do so, but thought I'd mention it.

RAM: Whatever will optimally support all the other components/requirements, but at a good price/performance point. Seems like 6GiB would be a minimum, and 8+ more of an ideal.

PSU: No idea ATM.

CASE: Antec 1200? I like the 300 I am using now. Really like the solid, minimalist stuff, like Lian Li, but that kind of case is a luxury I'll forego at this time; don't like "bling" cases.

64-bit-ness: want to go into 64-bit OS for presumed advantages in software dev and general "desktop"-ish function performance increases but worried about compatibility when it comes to games & creativity software. OTOH my current CPU is "64-bit" and I definitely got upsold on the basis that it was "the future!", but it has never even seen a 64-bit OS! I'm not looking for bragging rights, just best real-world performance w/ painless compatibility. Any advice in this area would be welcome.

MISC: Would like to have multiple virtualized OS installs to keep my system config for gaming independent of dev cfgs -- lots of extraneous server software & whatnot gets added for the latter, and shutting it all down to play games is tiresome. TBH the A/V dev config is probably closer to gaming than to software dev -- i.e. top performance is desired, w/ no background BS stealing cycles. Quiet is good. Edit: As for media apps, it's vague just cuz I was trying to keep an already long post as short as posssible, but also cuz it's hard to say from day to day what I'll be doing. But think along the lines of your typical mainstream commercial and OSS creativity apps: Pro Tools, Sound Forge, Vegas, Premiere, GIMP, Blender, etc. The work I do is 95% personal at this point -- I'm basically retired from work-for-hire but for my own artistic uses + when the occasional friend/client comes around that needs something done, I want to be able to count on some no-BS, pro behavior out of my hardware! ;) Plus if I have the right equipment, there is nothing to stop me from propositioning people for pro work if/when I feel like it.

If I could get recommendations of 1-3 "best in breed" items for each of the components I need, that would give me a good start on trying to piece the total build together myself. Any input would be much appreciated! TYVM for reading!
14 answers Last reply
More about build software media gaming
  1. CPUIntel Core i7-860 Lynnfield


    MOBOASUS P7P55D-E Pro LGA 1156

    EVGA 012-P3-1470-AR GeForce GTX 470

    RAM x2 CORSAIR XMS3 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3
    The asus comes with soft were to auto overclock then you can bump it up more if you chose This is the set up I just put together for my self.

    For over clocking you might want to go with this CPU
    Intel Core i7-875K \

    and this Heat sinkCooler Master RR-B10-212P-G1 Hyper 212
  2. New Nvidia GPUs are just around the corner, perhaps a few weeks. You may have noticed the GTX 460s are getting a lot of praise, especially in SLI, and the next GPUs should be along those lines but stronger. Probably "GTX 475."

    GTX 460s in SLI are great bang for the buck, but not really the best. Media development is kinda general... you want to make sure whatever app you are using is not going to have an issue with SLI/crossfire first.

    But then, perhaps you need a multiple-GPU testing environment?

    I think an i7-930 and an Asus Rampage III Formula would be about right.

    Lian Li is not just luxury cases. There are some that I think will fit your needs and budget, better than an Antec.

    As a software guy you should know that 32-bit OSes only support 4GB of memory addresses. If you want access to more than say 3.2GB of RAM, you must use a 64-bit OS.
    Win 7 Pro most likely... although I think you may need some 3rd party VM software as you won't get full functionality.


    CM 690 II
    The lowest price case I'll list for you.


    Should go for a 12GB kit if you can fit it in
  3. ShouldntHave said:

    BUDGET RANGE: flexible but let's try and stay <$2k; cheaper would be great.

    PARTS NOT REQUIRED: HDs/SSDs, optical drives, OS, monitors, keyboard, mouse, speakers, etc.

    If I could get recommendations of 1-3 "best in breed" items for each of the components I need, that would give me a good start on trying to piece the total build together myself. Any input would be much appreciated! TYVM for reading!

    When i think big processing power + cheap : 1055T +OC just can't be ruled out so this is an AMD/ATI 'breed' :lol: Advocate single GPU solutions and with the rate tech moves (just check out how Metro 2033 made recent GPUs look) just upgrade to the next gen bang for buck GPU for the games of tomorrow :D

    and this $7 Yate Loon fan
  4. Thanks for all responses. I sincerely appreciate it! Things are getting clearer! For reasons that will become evident if you read on, most of my questions are for Proximon, but anyone please feel free to contribute!

    CPU: I lean toward the 1366 socket/X58-based chips; brief research indicates it's the higher-performance path in general. So, of the CPUs that have been discussed, that eliminates all but the i7-930. Is the reason you recommend this vs. any of the upscale 9?0 processors, simply price/performance? (And the expectation that overclocking will make up the performance difference?) I know the i7-920 was an OC favorite for a while - are we not discussing this chip cuz it has been phased out? What sort of clock speed or comparative performance vs. other chips would we be expecting out of the i7-930-based config?

    Re: batuchka's build - I like the lower price-point on the AMD-based build, and might consider it, minus the relatively high-end GPU, for a 2nd "work" system, but for my main comp I still get the feeling that I will benefit most from most single-threaded processing power, vs. more cores of less individual power. Will think about it, though. Depends a lot on specifics of how my software is going to utilize multiple cores, and I don't yet have the detailed info on that, but my gut feeling is that most developers are lagging behind in support for multi-threading vs. what is available hardware-wise in the marketplace.

    Mobo: Seems I've narrowed this down, too, due to now being constrained to X58 models. Any comment on when the Rampage III Formula might be available? As someone who evidently follows this stuff a lot more closely than I do, when mfr. says "we are announcing X" does that mean we'll see it in 2 weeks or 2 mos.? I glanced at the boards in your recommended list; is there one you'd recommend in the meantime if the Rampage III Formula isn't going to come out for a while?

    GPU: still thinking this over, and I should probably wait to consider the forthcoming nvidia stuff -- it's probably going to be expensive being new and all, but might drive prices down on existing models. But, would really like to start using a new PC for my software work ASAP, and am also going to be building another similar but scaled-back, purely gaming-oriented PC -- "Son of $1500-2000 Build!", per se -- very soon. So, might just build this one with a comparatively weak GPU for now just to get it up and running ASAP, with the intention of GPU and any other "weak" components being hand-me-downs for the other system. Comments/suggestions on a mid-range (<=$200-300) GPU welcome!

    RAM: either of the 12GB kits looks good; will choose when other details are finalized. (And BTW of course I know about the 32-bit/4GB limit. Just seeing if you were paying attention! ;) ) No, actually just wanted to leave the option of <= or > 4GB open for discussion in case there were any comments to be made like "avoid 64-bit cuz it doesn't work with 'game/driver/application x'"; as I said I've had 64-bit CPU since ~2004, and there were plenty of reasons to avoid adopting 64-bit OS/apps basically this whole time!

    PSU: I understand we basically choose everything else first, then pick a PSU to fit, but any ideas what I might be looking at, at this point? It would help me plan.

    Going to make a few edits to my original post as well. Will try to highlight them for quick review.

    TY again!
  5. Rampage III Formula? Delirium on my part I'm afraid, some kinda bug. I'm a bit clearer tonight so let's see what I can do for you. Also, my list is a bit out of date.

    MB, what you need. Flexibility with a good space between primary PCI-E slots so that the second card, should you crossfire or SLI, have plenty of room to breathe. USB 3 and SATA 6GB/S. Adequate ports.

    Interesting on the CRT bit. I was a late shifter to LCD for many of the same reasons, probably. I had a higher-end Viewsonic CRT with shadow mask. I do miss it sometimes but now think I would miss LCD more. Those burning red eyes and blinding headaches are gone, and you really get used to the minor ghosting. Movies are very problematic for me though. And watching a baseball game on an LCD TV really pisses me off sometimes.

    Corsair HX850 is a great PSU at a great price and covers pretty much anything in reason. Any Corsair or Seasonic in the right power range is going to be very good. Only two companies that can make that claim. MOST of Antec's PSUs are great too.

    For the MB, the Asus Rampage III Extreme has everything, is kinda pricey, but the only other boards available that do the job right are a lot pricier.
    Combo with CPU if needed.

    RAM is covered.

    I think you want a good but quiet cooler, and there is none better than the Noctua
    About as good as you'll get without water cooling.
    That covers it.
  6. COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel/Plastic ATX Mid-$59.99
    Rosewill RGD-1000 1000W Continuous @50°C,80 PLUS Gold Certified, ,SLI Ready, CrossFire Ready, Active PFC, Compatible with Core i7, i5 Power Supply-$189.99

    EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX X58 SLI LE Intel Motherboard-$199.99
    Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor-$289.99
    Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B CPU Cooler-$62.00

    SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100281VX-2SR Radeon HD 5870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card-$429.99

    G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory F3-12800CL7T-6GBP-$159.99

    Rosewill RCR-IC001 40-in-1 USB 2.0 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/ USB port / Extra silver face plate-$14.99
    NZXT SEN-001LX Sentry LX Aluminum dual bay fan controller-$67.00


    and FYI i do have that fear in 32 vs 64 bit OS but after going to 64 bit win 7 about a month or so ill never be going to use 32 bit again. 64 bit os is a little bit responsive and using 4gb ram programs runs or opens faster. Have not have one issue of incompatibility in any software as long as you have done some study.

  7. Bought 2x i7-930 CPUs today. Getting closer; also getting power-hungry! ;) Not that budget cap is going out the window, but I'm in that "I probably won't build another one for a while; may as well make it good!" mode so it might be creeping a bit. A few more questions, if anyone would be so kind as to comment...

    RAM - Is this something where I could really pick up some processing speed, or say lower latency in audio work, by using the faster RAM? Is this something you OC up to the next bracket or something like that? (Sry, I have no idea!)

    I have read up on the Noctua cooler and it comes very highly reviewed. (A bit too highly as it's now out of stock in many places! :sarcastic: ) Noctua site claims it is compatible with both the Rampage III Extreme and P6X58D mobos but I read elsewhere that it semi-blocks the 1st RAM slot on the P6X - user had to remove the heat spreader on that module to get it to all fit together. Think there is an issue here?

    MOBO - any comments on the ASUS P6X58D? It was suggested as a capable yet slightly less costly substitute and appears relatively highly reviewed. Is it true that the Rampage III Extreme is not 980X-ready without a BIOS update?

    Is it correct (per this thread) that there is no such thing as building a dual i7-930 machine? (If it's possible, recommend a mobo? Seems like building anything with 2x of those Noctua coolers is impossible, though.)

    Any other recommendations for a toned-down mobo for the 2nd, "cheaper" system? ASUS and Gigabyte come highly reviewed; everything else seems to get dissed. Is this just a "religious" issue? (Personally have 2x Gigabyte now and 1 has no probs; the other the SATA controller died. Have used other brands in the past tho; had major problems in that "bad capacitors" era...)

    Still haven't decided on a GPU config, and TBH haven't fully reviewed the cards that have been suggested. realdrx any reason why you favor the nvidias? Any reason why no one is saying "get the 5970!" other than price?

    PSU is probably going to be Corsair; whatever model is powerful enough for everything in the final build...

    Case still reviewing...

    As for the actual build... I'm a little freaked as I'm going to have a nice-sized pile of goodies to work with building these 2, and I don't want to break anything. Should I get one of those anti-static mats/wristbands or just use a "home remedy" of some sort? I have built several and modified many systems, and TBH have rarely if ever given it a care but I don't want to zap my new toys!

    Ty again for any input! :)
  8. Have to get back to this one ;)
  9. Quote:
    RAM - Is this something where I could really pick up some processing speed, or say lower latency in audio work, by using the faster RAM? Is this something you OC up to the next bracket or something like that? (Sry, I have no idea!)

    You need faster RAM (higher frequencies) for overclocking. At least 1600 for overclocking an i7. Less of an impact on performance than latency. There's a problem here for you because it's harder to get 12GB at a decent price with high frequency. You are really paying for telephone support while an engineer tries to get your RAM working :)
    Lower latencies do impact performance but not a huge amount.
    It's generally thought to be a good thing to get as long as the price increase is not too much. Professionals doing large renders, for instance, can save minutes off a long project with the right RAM, and so meet a deadline. If your time is worth big bucks and you are waiting long periods of time for a computer to finish something, that's when you really start to consider shelling out the big cash for the fastest RAM.

    What you'll probably end up doing is LOOSENING timings and raising frequency so you can get an overclock going. Nothing wrong with that as the real gains are to be had from CPU speed, not RAM.

    I read elsewhere that it semi-blocks the 1st RAM slot on the P6X

    Get lower RAM to guard against it. The tall heatspreaders are just for show anyway.

    I think the ASUS P6X58D Premium is fine. All that you'll need most likely.

    That thread on dual CPUs is exactly right. You need Xeons for that.

    The Asus/Gigabyte supremacy is part experience, part herd behavior, part myth. It's all we have to go on. Newegg will never reveal the return numbers. I have spoken to many regarding this. Smaller builders (~300 units a year) have told me they like Intel for corporate stuff, but then Intel boards suck for overclocking or tweaking. One informal survey I took on these boards indicated that ASRock has a reputation for longevity.

    ASUS and Gigabyte make fine budget boards too, like the AMD 870.

    No need to get married to a brand name. The people selling those PSUs don't make them, with the exception of Seasonic.
    Corsair sells PSUs made by Seasonic, Channel Well Tech, and others. Antec sells PSUs made by Seasonic, Delta, and others. While it's true that Corsair has yet to sell a bad PSU, you can be smarter than that and look beyond the brand.

    Tecmo has a great guide

    I have never used a strap myself, but I build on a wood floor,on a wood table, without air conditioning, and do not wear wool, silk, or nylon.

    I have a roommate that does the same and yet can fry a board just looking at it. Seriously, I won't let him so much as touch my keyboard.
  10. Because nvidia support physx
  11. Long time, no post. Been far too busy doing the fun stuff ( :sarcastic: ) that makes buying the toys possible. (AKA work, and it sux!)

    Coolers are on the way, preparing to order mobos & RAM, which leaves cases, PSUs, and GPUs.....

    been reading the thread... "best Intel rigs"

    Any comment on the GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R motherboard vs the ASUS P6X58D Premium in terms of whether one or the other will affect system speed/performance? i.e. other than the $700 Gigabyte UD9 - which I have read good things about - is there any sense of one or the other being a high-performance board, or is it just about the "bells & whistles" (ports, etc., which I can compare for myself, relatively knowledgeably!)? If not, I will probably use the UD3R for my lower-budget system.

    Having a really hard time coming to a conclusion on GPUs. Reading every recent review I could get my hands on, here, & it sounds like ATI is weak in Crossfire scaling gains, yet their individual cards are better than comparable Nvidia cards. I heard ATI 6000 series is on its way, and a price drop would make the decision easier, but I don't know if I can wait that long. Need this new system for work ASAP. It's basically down to either: A) buy a "throwaway" card just for 2d work for the next 1-2 months and see what develops when these new ATIs come out; B) take a poll of the "best rigs" thread and pick one!; C) suck it up and just buy the top of the line Nvidia or ATI after studying some head-to-head benchmarks. Argh! I have yet to see any card with a glowing aura and angelic chorus behind it, but some divine guidance would be nice! ;) Does anyone disagree with the conclusions in >=$280 brackets in this Tom's best GPUs for the money article? (i.e. the last two pages: 1, 2)

    re: RAM & the comment about needing to pick a physically smaller style to fit with the cooler. G.Skill seems to be a favorite brand. So I am looking @ something like this. Am I going to have any problems w/o the heat spreaders if I want to OC? What about buying something like the Ripjaws and removing the heat spreader from one? (In the original mention of this problem, I think that's what the guy said he did...)

    Cases - still choosing. Any of these low-level enthusiast/"gamer" cases (such as Proximon's suggestions) should have no problem with 1-2 of the largest graphics cards on the market + the Noctua NH-D14 cooler, right? Any HAF users reading? Are these things "loud" with all the fans?

    Thanks again, all, for reading & answering! :)
  12. The Asus board should be the better overclocker, based entirely on my examination of the voltage regulation. more caps and mosfets around the CPU socket.
    Other than that, not too much difference.

    Both the 5850 and GTX 470 are good bang for the buck at the moment. The 470 runs hotter. I suspect the GTX 470 would make you happier as a single card solution, but a pair of GTX 460s would be stronger.

    G.skill is fine but if you can find something with lower latency at a reasonable price it would be better.
    Like this Mushkin Blackline?

    Just get one of the taller air coolers that doesn't have the RAM clearance issues.
    This is one of the favorites, but you must buy your own fans for it:
    Your own fans = just as quiet as Noctua. Heck, get Noctua fans if you like, or a couple low frequency YLs.....
    Cheap, quiet, but need to be replaced sooner... maybe good for 18 months. I use the blue versions on my radiator.
  13. From my point of view, poeple suggests you parts that are just expensive with no real reason (Asus Rampage iii Extreme). I think that you can take x58a-ud3r or p6x58d-e, and save some $, and for a cooler get the Scythe Mugen ii. For ram any 6gb 1600mhz kit of brand like Mushkin or G.skill will be fine (Corsair are just way overpriced). The reason for my suggestions are that for exmaple board like Rampage iii Extreme, will not give you anything,unless you planning on extreme overclocking (watercooling, and exotic cooling).

    For a case, I think that the best one will be Silverstone ft02, that is really quiet, and just looks solid and proffesional.
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