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$1500 Gaming Rig

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August 23, 2010 8:14:46 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 3-4 weeks

BUDGET RANGE: $1500 post rebates

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Watching Movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg, but not picky

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: U.S.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I like Intel CPUs

OVERCLOCKING: Yes

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 25"

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Here is the list of specs I came up with on newegg. These are in no way set in stone:


SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX HD-587X-ZNFV Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-6GBNQ
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601930
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F 120mm Case Fan
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Combo:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Black RC-932-KWN3 Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case with Side window
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Subtotal: $1,484.89


I have only ever built 1 other Rig and it was about 4 years ago. I had a significant amount of help from my brother, but am trying to avoid bugging him now as he is busy. Any input would be appreciated. I chose the 5870 so that I could crossfire it if needed in the future.

More about : 1500 gaming rig

August 23, 2010 8:46:34 PM

I'm going a slightly different direction. I'd recommend ditching Intel though, as they're going to replace the current sockets by the end of the year. I used the i5, but I highly recommend checking out a X4 955 build. It'd shave a good $100 off the price.

CPU/HSF: i5-760 and Sycthe SCMG-2100 $243
Mobo/Optical: Asus P7P55D-E Pro and cheap SATA DVD burner $169
RAM/PSU: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and Corsair 850W $173 after rebate
GPU: HD 5970 $650
HDD: Samung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $75
Case/OS: HAF 922 and Windows 7 $180. Just as big, but a lot cheaper.

Total: $1,490
August 23, 2010 9:04:25 PM

Can you recommend an X4 955 build for me as a comparison? I have only ever used Intel CPUs so that is uncharted territory for me.
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August 23, 2010 9:05:30 PM

Eh I think that's the wrong way to take things. Number one item for game performance is the GPU, but the 5970 is a known price/performance bomb.

Mobo is also pretty expensive, especially for a single-GPU setup. That's probably where the 100$ shaved comes from. i5 offers better performance as the 955 would bottleneck a 5970 (not that that's a good purchase).
August 23, 2010 9:13:37 PM

Swap the CPU for the X4 955 ($153) and the board for an ASRock 870 Extreme3 ($90) or the Gigabyte GA-790XTA-UD4 ($115 after rebate). There may be some good combos with the X4 955, I haven't looked.

I compare similar parts when comparing the build. For example, if I use a Gigabyte or Asus (comparable quality) board with 8x/8x CF and USB 3/SATA III for Intel, I use a Gigabyte or Asus with 8x/8x CF and USB 3/SATA III for AMD. Asus's board above is comparable to the GA-790XTA-UD4. That's a $45 difference. Add that to the $42 difference in the CPU's prices, and that's $87. Close to $100, especially since AMD tends to have better combos.

The X4 955 would NOT bottleneck the 5970. Hell, almost any current CPU won't bottleneck the GPU. The 955 and i5 are basically on the same level in terms of performance. The i5 is slighly better, but offers no future proofing ability.

As for the 5970's value, I'd say paying $650 for a good $740 (dual 5870s) worth of GPU power is well worth it. Also, you won't need an upgrade for a good 5-6 years. I fail to see a price/performance failure there...
August 23, 2010 9:18:00 PM

The reason it looks so good is because the 5870 is so bad right now.

Dual GTX 460s for 430$? http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/181?vs=165

Dual GTX 470s for 510$

Just look at Crysis minimums at 2560, the sli 460s offer like 14x the performance for less. (obvious joke).
August 23, 2010 9:40:45 PM

Except that the 5970 can play Crysis at 5760x1080 without a sweat. And you can still throw a second one in the build.

A single 5970 is better than dual 470s. It will also OC a lot higher. Same for the dual 460s. Also, you never want to start a build with dual cards simply because you have no upgrade path. By far, the best buy in high end GPUs right now is the 5970. I can honestly say that you will never need to replace the 5970 in the life of the build. Even if you did, you could throw a second one in it and add a good 3+ years on to the life.
August 23, 2010 9:55:44 PM

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2010/08/17/geforce_gtx_4...

And 5870 crossfire is a good bit faster the a 5970.

A second one isn't really reasonable -- quadfire is not enjoyable for gaming in that you get poor scaling and microstutter. I mean, the 5970 already has to deal with dual-GPU issues by default.

I'll agree dual cards have drawbacks over single, but the price/performance increase on this one is simply more worthwhile. There's simply no real upgrade path from a dual-GPU setup, either way.

And if you think you'll upgrade to a crossfire setup someday, it's not worth it unless you do it within 6 months. Every 12 months graphics cards double in power for the same cost. So in 2 years you want a second 5870, but find out that there's a cheaper, new single-GPU card that outperforms it for less.

Realize you'd be getting into quadfire -- which sucks.

I can't find the CPU scaling review right now, but the i7s really allow the 5970 to stretch it's legs.

Best =! best value.
August 23, 2010 9:56:02 PM

After reading the back and forth between you two, I am looking at the following hardware:

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100280SR Radeon HD 5970 (Hemlock) 2GB 512 (256 x 2)-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Combo:
COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Combo:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX
ASUS M4A785TD-V EVO AM3 AMD 785G HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Combo:
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Grand Total: $1,330.90


Can you recommend a heatsink for the 995?

I went with the 5970 because I like the idea of being able to buy another GPU in a few years when I need it and tossing it in there.
August 23, 2010 10:04:04 PM

Just some advice on the PSU/Ram, this is better efficiency, modular, same wattage, and 5$ cheaper.

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

Ram and mobo could be better, an 800 series motherboard would give a good bit of longevity if you insist on AMD. AMD is not the way to go for a high-powered system though.
August 23, 2010 10:08:33 PM

What would you suggest for a high power system?
August 23, 2010 10:20:41 PM

At any sane resolution, the GPU is much more important than the CPU (for the majority of games). For a pure gaming build, there's little reason to go with the i5-750/760 if it allows you to afford a better GPU. Conversely, if going AMD doesn't allow you to get a better GPU, then you might as well go i5.

Phenom II X4 955 vs. i5-750 - the only game on the benchmarks that is vastly different in fps is Far Cry 2. Admittedly, there are more comprehensive benchmarks out there, but I have seen very few that indicate more than a few fps difference in the majority of games.
August 23, 2010 11:33:30 PM

The only thing an 8xx chipset gives you is the ability to drop in an X6 without a BIOS update (which you can do for free). That's it. Any AM3 board will accept Bulldozer when it comes out. And it's likely to be the first and second generation of Bulldozer, as AMD has said the AM3 socket is their main socket for the next couple of years.

Unfortunately, the PSU/RAM combo is gone. So the next best/cheapest solution would be the same thing outside of the combo. Of course, the XFX is a good PSU as well, but it's that not the end all and be all, especially for $20 more.

August 23, 2010 11:37:25 PM

Smaller process, better overclocking, sata3. It's expected that as Bulldozer will have no DDR2 controller, it will only work in AM3.

I'll try to find the link.

Am3r2 is expected to be released shortly thereafter, so AM3 will become second-place, like AM2+ right now.

Not that that's really a big deal. I still think dual GTX 460/470 would be a better gaming setup. Quadfire is not really an upgrade path.
August 24, 2010 12:22:44 AM

Except ATI cards don't lose their scaling past two cards. They still scale at 60-65%. nVidia, on the other hand, definitely falls off.

I'm not recalling anyone talking about AM2+ or DDR2. It's completely irrelevant.
August 24, 2010 12:33:43 AM

I was mentioning how Am2 is still relevant in that it can be upgraded with current CPUs, but that a new socket is replaced it. Like socket AM3 shortly.

ATI cards fall off as well. Quadfire scales poorly (better than SLI at 3+ cards, for sure), but more importantly has nasty amounts of microtutter. Nvidia's SLI scales better than crossfire at 2 cards, which IMO is much more relevant.
August 24, 2010 12:55:28 AM

That may be true, but the review I say (from some place in Iceland, I don't have the link) should that the 5970 with a single 5870 (Trifire) still had great returns, and it didn't change when the 5870 was replaced with a 5970. I don't know why, but I'm guessing it has something to do with it being one two cards, despite being four GPUs.

I agree that dual cards is much more relevant, except when you're talking about the 5970. Realistically, you'd need to SLI two cards to even match the 5970. So where do you go from there? That's why scaling past two cards matters.

Of course, this is mostly an academic argument. Do I think that someone should throw a third card into a build? No. It's just not economically feasible.
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