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Advice for building a mid-high range computer

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August 15, 2010 10:35:51 AM

Hello everyone, this will be my first post ever on this wonderful site. I am in need of building a computer for the new school year. I'd like to know if these parts would be suitable for the computer I am building.

Primary use of computer: Gaming (Starcraft II), Web browsing, MS Office, LateX, standard PC usage.

Secondary use: Media playback (Planning to run an HDMI cable to my HDTV) of anime (1080p anime lol), Video editing (Adobe After Effects, Vegas 9), Photo editing (Adobe Photoshop CS3).

Side Notes: Planning to liquid cool the CPU only. Also planning to overclock the CPU. Might consider expansion of cooling to the GPU.

Budget: $1600

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Base Parts:

Computer Case: CORSAIR 800D Full Tower Case

Power Supply: CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W

CPU: Intel Core i7 2.80 Ghz

Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D-E

RAM: G.SKILL Trident 6GB Triple Channel (3 x 2 GB)

HDD: WD Caviar Black 1TB Sata 6.0GB

CD/DVD Drive: SAMSUNG 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 4X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24x DVD Burner - Bulk LightScribe Support

Total cost (w/shipping): $1194.92

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Liquid Cooling Parts:

Swiftech Apogee XT

DD-CPX-Pro 12V Pump

Swiftech MCR320-QP-K Triple 120mm Radiator

Swiftech MCRES Micro Revision 2

Tygon R-3603 7/16" ID 5/8" OD Chemical Tubing

Yate Loon 120mm Medium Speed Fan

Note: All barbs are 1/2, I've already got the barbs required for the radiator.

Total cost (w/shipping): $266.22

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Parts I have no clue on what to purchase:

GPU: ???

To be honest, I'm not sure what GPU would be good nowadays.

I'm in a bit of a pinch because the total up to now is $1461.14, leaving me with only $138.86 to run with. It's possible for me to obtain an additional $100 to bump it up to $238.86 left for a GPU. What GPU should I purchase is the real question.

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The questions I'm asking:

1) Am I missing anything else that I need to build a computer in general?

2) What GPU would one recommend between the 140-240 range considering the usage above?

3) Comments about build, suggestions, etc etc? I'm open to leeway if I can get the same high end performance at a lower cost.


August 15, 2010 3:33:13 PM

Microcenter carries the i7 930 for 199.99
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 3:36:14 PM

This is my "throw anything at it" sub $950/Air OC build so might be relevant to you. Game heavy though ^^
$948AR
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Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 4:08:13 PM

Agree with batuchka. There's no need for an i7 for your stated usage. I'll try to locate an article from another thread a couple of days ago, but basically it indicated that any dual-core + a 5870 will handle SC2 at 1920x1080. If you want to spend more on the build, you could get a X6 1090T or buy a CrossFire capable 890GX/FX motherboard. If you want to CrossFire in the future, you would want a larger PSU than the 650W in the combo batuchka pointed out, but 850W is the max you should need for a dual-card AMD setup.

For a modern gaming build, the CPU is relatively unimportant at resolutions from 1680x1050 up. The GPU is where you need to be spending your money.

In your initial build, the 850W PSU is overkill for the system, unless you bought an nVidia GTX 480 or if you plan on upgrading to a dual-card setup down the line. Any other single graphics card wouldn't need that much power.
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August 15, 2010 8:44:34 PM

lupinesithlord said:
Microcenter carries the i7 930 for 199.99


Indeed, but it is only available for in store pickup in a state I don't reside in (I'm in AZ).

batuchka said:
This is my "throw anything at it" sub $950/Air OC build so might be relevant to you. Game heavy though ^^
$948AR
http://i137.photobucket.com/albums/q205/batuchka/Untitled-1118.jpg


Interesting build. I'll keep it in mind since it looks like a pretty solid build. I was considering using an HAF 932 for an air build, since it seems to be pretty nice and has room for liquid upgrade just in case. I'm really interested in liquid cooling though, since like I said above, I might end up liquid cooling a graphics card or 2, which moves me to coldsleep's post.

coldsleep said:
Agree with batuchka. There's no need for an i7 for your stated usage. I'll try to locate an article from another thread a couple of days ago, but basically it indicated that any dual-core + a 5870 will handle SC2 at 1920x1080. If you want to spend more on the build, you could get a X6 1090T or buy a CrossFire capable 890GX/FX motherboard. If you want to CrossFire in the future, you would want a larger PSU than the 650W in the combo batuchka pointed out, but 850W is the max you should need for a dual-card AMD setup.

For a modern gaming build, the CPU is relatively unimportant at resolutions from 1680x1050 up. The GPU is where you need to be spending your money.

In your initial build, the 850W PSU is overkill for the system, unless you bought an nVidia GTX 480 or if you plan on upgrading to a dual-card setup down the line. Any other single graphics card wouldn't need that much power.


Well, initially, the reason I wanted the 850w PSU was because I was planning on getting a GTX 460 to start, then sometime in the future I would upgrade with another 460 for SLI. I know how hot the GPUs can get so I also planned to buy liquid cooling cards for both in the future and set them on another pump line in addition to another radiator.

If I downgrade from an i7 to, let's say an i5 for example, what motherboard would you recommend?

Also, I'll keep the 5870 in mind. I hear ATI seems to be doing better this year than nvidia so that's why I wasn't sure if GTX 460's would be a good buy or not.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 9:02:40 PM

2x GTX 460s shouldn't need 850W, even SLI Zone, which is likely to overstate the requirements, has some 650W units on the supported list.

From what I've read, the 460s don't get as hot as their bigger brothers, I doubt liquid cooling would be necessary. (You can still do it, but it's unlikely to be needed.)

The best choice for an i5 build is the Asus P7P55D-E Pro, at $160. It can SLI/CrossFire, it has USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0 Gb/s support as well.

SLI 460s offer very good performance, I just don't like to do SLI at the start of a build unless it's the only really good option in your price range. It's usually better to buy a single big card and then SLI/CrossFire later, when the power is actually needed. A single GTX 460 won't be able to handle every game today at 1920x1080, but 2x GTX 460 will be more than is needed. A single 5870 is perfect for 1920x1080 today, and will handle more when CrossFired. 2x 5870 is a good Eyefinity setup, and it will retain single-monitor gaming performance for quite a while.

Of course, 2x 5870 today is $800, compared to about $460 for 2x GTX 460s. In theory, you'd buy the 5870 in 6 months to a year, when the price has dropped somewhat.
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August 15, 2010 9:17:29 PM

Thanks for your advice coldsleep. It's proving really useful lol.

I've been reading up on cores and AMD cores seem to be solid for gaming as well.

From what I've read, their X4 and X6 cores are doing really well, so if I were to switch over to an AMD core, aside from the X6 1055T (which seems like an excess for me) what would you recommend along with a Motherboard?

I'll probably switch over to G.Skill ripjaw 2x2 GB RAM since the AMDs don't support Triple Channel, correct?
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August 15, 2010 9:38:25 PM

Save some money and get an XFX black edition 750w PSU. 30$ cheaper for 100 watts. Besides that all of the builds seem good. The X6 has the best longevity, but the i5-760 the best SC2 performance.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2010 11:30:12 PM

Since most games don't need more than 2 cores right now, 6 seems excessive. I'd get a Phenom II X4 955, assuming it's in budget. If more CPU power is needed in the future, you should be able to upgrade to a Bulldozer chip after they're released. For $160, the 955 is pretty equivalent to the i5-750/760 for gaming at $40-50 less.

Assuming you want to CrossFire down the line, (I'm not really familiar with the nVidia northbridge SLI-capable mobos) I'd go with something like this MSI 890GXM-G65 mobo that does CrossFire at 8x/8x (same as an i5 board would) and has USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0 Gb/s, or if you want to spend more, this Gigabyte GA-890FXA-UD5 for $180. It does CrossFire at 16x/16x, but that's really only about a 4% overall improvement over 8x/8x, so may not be worth the added expense for you.

And correct on dual-channel. The only boards that support triple-channel right now are the Intel socket 1366.
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August 16, 2010 3:23:16 AM

I see. I think for now I'll consider sticking with an i5 for now. After doing research on the two quad core cores, it seems the i5 performs a bit better.

I'm just stuck now between the two video cards. 460 is about 230, 5870 is like $400. Any other suggestions from anyone for graphics cards?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 16, 2010 5:02:15 AM

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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August 16, 2010 9:46:52 AM

Well, looking at the new review posted here in Tom's Hardware, I can see that an AMD X4 965 Black Edition would be a considerable investment. I don't need the USB 3.0, and the AMD boards have the sata 6 GB and no bottleneck.

I've also noticed that AMD boards seem to be very backwards compatible with themselves as they upgrade. It'll be my first time using ATI cards since I've never used them before, so I'm assuming a 5770 or 5870 would be a good choice?
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 16, 2010 3:36:48 PM

Mostly, no one recommends the 965. The 955 is virtually identical, and it's relatively easy to overclock it to the 965's speed, as the processor is unlocked. If you're just looking at gaming, the 955 performs pretty close to the i5-750. At most sane resolutions, GPU matters a whole lot more than CPU.

AMD has historically made an effort to provide transitional hardware between chip generations, though of course there's no guarantee they'll continue to do so. Intel's stated business plan is to do the opposite, to intentionally obscolesce platforms every 2-3 years.

I'd look at it this way. If you want to be able to upgrade the processor and graphics card in a year or two in order to keep current, AMD is probably the way to go. If you're more likely to run this build 3-4 years and then simply buy a new one, it doesn't matter whether you go AMD or Intel, as it's almost certain that you'll need a new mobo/CPU/RAM setup at that time.

I actually think USB 3.0 is more important than SATA 6.0 Gb/s right now. There are already USB 3.0 devices out, and it's likely that they're going to become more prevalent over the next year or two.

You can, of course, buy an addon PCI card for $20-30 for USB 3.0 if you change your mind, so if you don't get it natively on the mobo, it's not a final decision by any means.

5770 vs. 5870 depends on your resolution. At 1920x1080, you're probably going to want the 5870. At 1680x-1050, the 5770 may be adequate, while the 5870 will be overkill.
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August 16, 2010 4:03:09 PM

Personally, I would go with an oc'ed i760 along with SLI'd 460's. You don't need liquid cooling for this setup, only a decent cpu cooler and some well-planned airflow.

The 460 by itself would be adequate, but not great. I think 2 460's would be your sweet spot in terms of what you're looking to use your computer for. This is pretty much my favorite chart for this discussion. You can see that nvidia almost across the board beat out ati in terms of bang for buck and that SLI 460's are pretty much the best value (you can tell because they are the farthest above the trend line of all the other cards).

http://techreport.com/articles.x/19404/11

With this you get a huge saving off of the i7 line (cheaper mobo, cheaper ram, cheaper chip) with pretty much the same gaming capabilities. The AMD might be cheaper, but I think that since you're planning on OC and SLI, if you take my advice, the i5 edges it out. Also, you'd be way underbudget with this build already.

I would take those savings and invest in a boot SSD. There is only 1 SATA 6.0 SSD AFAIK, which is Crucial 64GB c300. I wouldn't even bother with a SATA 6.0 physical HDD. See the previously referenced links for why the diff between SATA 3.0 and 6.0 for HDD's is negligible.

You didn't say what kind of monitor you have, but with SLI'd 460's, you could probably go for an upgrade.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 16, 2010 4:22:17 PM

I'd agree that i5 + 460 SLI is a good value at the OP's budget. Since the OP was asking about AMD though, there are some advantages to going that direction, as long as you don't mind losing the ability to SLI.

I wouldn't bother with the 64 GB C300. The best buy at 60-64 GB right now is the OCZ Vertex 2 or Agility 2 (or other Sandforce 1200 controller SSDs like the Mushkin Callisto).
Anandtech article about the C300's value compared to other drives.

The C300 is absolutely worth it at the 256 GB size, but at smaller sizes, it doesn't really have an edge over the Sandforce SSDs.
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August 16, 2010 4:30:55 PM

Agreed coldsleep. Just pointing out to op that the value you gain by going 955 isn't necessarily great when you have to pass up the savings available on nvidia's 4xx series.

Hadn't seen that about the C300, good to know!
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August 16, 2010 8:42:20 PM

Wow, nice to see a lot of input on the choices I have.

This computer has to last ~4 years. I don't wish to replace important (CPU, Mobo) parts during that time, but an upgrade to the graphics card is something I will most likely do if needed (such as an additional purchase of a 460).

Here's a revised list of what to obtain according to the input I've received from all of you wonderful people here:

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Base Parts:

Computer Case: CORSAIR 800D Full Tower Case

Power Supply: CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W

*Side note: The case is comboed with the PSU, though I wish I could get an XFX, would a downgrade to the HX 750 kill my chances of 2 gtx 460's in SLI?

CPU: Intel Core i5 2.80 Ghz

Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D-E PRO

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 4 GB Dual Channel (2 x 2 GB)

Graphics Card: Gigabyte GTX 460 1 GB

HDD: OCZ Agility 2 60 GB Sata II

CD/DVD Drive: SAMSUNG 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 4X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24x DVD Burner - Bulk LightScribe Support

Total cost (w/shipping): $1,241.85 (vs $1194.92 previously with no graphics card)

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Liquid Cooling Parts:

EK Supreme HF

Swiftech MP655-B w/Tach sensor

Swiftech MCR320-QP-K Triple 120mm Radiator

Swiftech MCRES Micro Revision 2

Tygon R-3603 7/16" ID 5/8" OD Chemical Tubing

Yate Loon 120mm Medium Speed Fan

Note: All barbs are 1/2

Total cost (w/shipping): $279.20 (vs $266.22 previously. This went up due to me selecting a different level CPU block and pump)

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Parts I have no clue on what to purchase:

Monitor: ???

Now here comes the fun part. What's a good monitor?
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August 16, 2010 9:23:41 PM

A XFX 750 will be more than enough to run this setup, with everything oc'ed. This is pretty much exactly what my build will be in a little bit, and I wouldn't doubt it could last 4 years with a second 460 somewhere along the way.
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August 17, 2010 8:03:33 AM

What build are you planning to do NeoElemental?
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August 17, 2010 9:56:50 AM

coldsleep said:
Since most games don't need more than 2 cores right now, 6 seems excessive. I'd get a Phenom II X4 955, assuming it's in budget. If more CPU power is needed in the future, you should be able to upgrade to a Bulldozer chip after they're released. For $160, the 955 is pretty equivalent to the i5-750/760 for gaming at $40-50 less.


Eh, yes and no. SC2 only uses 2 cores, while Supcom2 uses up to 8. He has video and photo editing mentioned so the x6 would probably get utilized well in those situations, assuming the 40$ over the 955 don't detract from a higher-end GPU.

I agree that bulldozer is likely worth waiting for, but in that case I'd drop to the 945 so my bulldozer upgrade doesn't have too much wasted cash involved.
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a b B Homebuilt system
August 17, 2010 2:57:12 PM

sp12 said:
Eh, yes and no. SC2 only uses 2 cores, while Supcom2 uses up to 8.


The list of games that uses more than 2 cores is still pretty small. I did say "most games".

945 would be a fine choice to save some money as well, I was thinking 955 since it's unlocked and easier to overclock while waiting for Bulldozer. If you're really aiming to save money while waiting for Bulldozer, you might as well get an Athlon II X3 for $77. As long as the photoshop/video editing isn't for professional purposes, it's possible to live with the additional wait time for the short-term.
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August 18, 2010 9:46:21 AM

Well, I managed to build my computer for 1725, a bit over what I had planned by I can live with it.
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!