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Totally new to building - need some advice

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September 6, 2010 4:29:29 PM

My old Compaq recently died, and I've been trying to decide whether to attempt this home-built thing, or just go buy a new computer. I have very little computer experience/knowledge, and the total jumble of google results when searching for help and guides threatens to make getting involved in the process overly intimidating for first timers. I stumbled on these forums, and it's great to find the stickied guides and the helpful answers. I've spent a few hours reading threads, and decided I'd like to take a shot at this.

I've got a decent amount of money available (~$2000). My main usage is weekend gaming, and downloading movies for family to watch on the living room tv (so HDMI output is desirable). I know what I've picked out below is probably overkill for my needs, but seems like if I'm going to bother building for the first time, I might as well make something "nice".

Per the following list, I've got most components picked out based on guides and ratings. I could use a hand in verifying that everything will work together, making suggestions for swaps that either improve performance or save considerable money, and in selecting the final couple items.

CPU- Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115211)
MB- ASUS P6X58D (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131614)
RAM- Corsair Dominator DDR3 6GB (3x2GB) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145224)
Graphics Card- Sapphire Vapor-X Radeon HD 5870 1GB (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102872)
Power Supply- Corsair HX 850W (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011)
Case- Antec 902 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129058)
DVD- ASUS Black (might add a Blu-Ray drive as well, depending on final costs)(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204)
OS- Windows 7 Home Premium for System Builders (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754)

My remaining questions are:
1-If I decide to start playing around with overclocking, am I going to need a heat sink/fan with this setup? Is it worth just getting one and putting it in now, rather than deal with having to rearrange things to make room for one in the future?
2-Seems like most people recommend a SSD for OS and programs and a HDD for storage. Is this a noticeable boost in performance beyond boot-up time? Is it difficult to implement this type of setup? On a related note, should I be bothering with the whole RAID setup thing? It sounds complicated, so I was thinking it might not be for a first timer, but then I was reading that it's particularly difficult to implement after installing the OS, so maybe I should take the time to learn about it now?
3-Mid size case over full is ok, right?
Thanks for reading...I appreciate any help offered!

More about : totally building advice

September 6, 2010 4:44:11 PM

What resolution will you be playing at? You can make a very nice build that will outperform that for less.
September 6, 2010 5:40:38 PM

sp12 said:
What resolution will you be playing at? You can make a very nice build that will outperform that for less.


I've currently got a Samsung 22" 2232GW LCD that's a few years old but looks pretty good at 1680x1050. Was planning to keep it for the new setup.


Related resources
September 6, 2010 6:08:57 PM

good build but IMO too good GPU, ram and mobo. You get what you pay for with those items but that doesn't mean it's useful.

Ram speed makes almost no difference in real world performance but if you like the brand, looks or warrenty I can accept your decision there :D .

5870 provide pretty bad value ATM. 460sli if you don't want an upgrade path or a 5970 if you do would be the way to go. Also you don't need an as good a product(with custom cooler) as that if you don't OC(which I assume you won't if you haven't even OC'd your cpu yet.) So just get the cheapest 460, 5870 or whatever GPU you are buying.

The mobo just has lot's of useless features. Even if you aren't happy to go with a less feature rich mobo like the ga-x58a-ud3r the ud5 gives better value than the premium IMO.

Most SSDs(obviously some SSDs are much much faster than other but I'm talking a fast SSD like a single intel x-25m which is often used) around double the loading/boot time of whatever app is installed on the SSD compared to a regular HDD. Your system will also be more responsive/snappier, SSDs are more durable/data safe and they are quieter than regular HDDs. Of course all those options come at a hefty price. Thus people store data on the less used HDD and all the apps and important files on the SSD giving you the best of both worlds(in a way^^). Is this hard? no you just have a C drive and D drive and store the stuff on the one you want.

Raid you ask huh? Is it hard: No, it's simple with a step by step giude in the manual should be finished in 5min. Mine took 4days with multiple problems with my BIOS and windows CD(fingerprints were the problem :p ) but nevermind that's not supposed happen so don't worry about that. Is it hard to setup after a windows install? Yeah pretty much because it requires a complete format so you'll need a full reinstall or a full backup. Both are time consuming and best avoided.

Is it good? yes a raid array of say 2 50gb SSDs gives you almost double the speed and the same size(in a raid0 array 2 physical drives are combined into one virtual one so if you don't open up the pc you won't notice a diiference between a 2X 50gb setup or 1X 100gb setup) at a similar price so yes it is definately worth it.

Do you need an aftermarket cpu cooler to OC? Yes you do the stock cooler is crap. Best to buy it now? Yes installing a new heatsink is ussually quite a hassle.

Is a mid tower case ok? Don't underestimate mid towers and full towers. Your regular dekstop is ussually around 30cm a mid around 45 and a full around 60. Technically a full tower is around 4 times the size of a regular desktop(twice the length and twice the height). So yes a mid tower is definately ok.

need help building PCs? The sticky at the top of this forum section has lots of info check it out.
September 7, 2010 12:11:13 AM

Quote:

My remaining questions are:
1-If I decide to start playing around with overclocking, am I going to need a heat sink/fan with this setup? Is it worth just getting one and putting it in now, rather than deal with having to rearrange things to make room for one in the future?
2-Seems like most people recommend a SSD for OS and programs and a HDD for storage. Is this a noticeable boost in performance beyond boot-up time? Is it difficult to implement this type of setup? On a related note, should I be bothering with the whole RAID setup thing? It sounds complicated, so I was thinking it might not be for a first timer, but then I was reading that it's particularly difficult to implement after installing the OS, so maybe I should take the time to learn about it now?
3-Mid size case over full is ok, right?
Thanks for reading...I appreciate any help offered!


1)If you want serious overclocks then yes, a good cooler and thermal paste is recommended to keep temps under control.
2)SSD in my opinion is the best upgrade you can ever do in a computer. It brings your computer to life. Everything is snappier, faster, and saves frustration. If you work fast like constantly switch between windows and do tasks, a hard drive will be sluggish sometimes, with an SSD, performance is consistent and fast. Also you never must worry about defragmentation...my software says my SSD is at 60% defragmentation...works just as snappy as the day I installed the OS. It is not difficult to implement...its a drop in replacement, same sata and power connectors as in an HDD, unless you get a PCI-E SSD...but those are thousands of dollars. Raid won't help in boot time or performance. Infact with an SSD raid won't do anything unless you copy and paste files that are many GB's in size. So raid is pretty pointless as it doesn't speed up access time.
3)Mid size case is fine, as long as its good quality and cools well...its fine.
September 7, 2010 12:19:19 AM

These RAM sticks are cheaper, faster (lower latency), and run on lower voltage:

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

$150, G.Skill Pi Series.

The 5870 isn't the greatest value right now. You can SAVE money and get MORE performance out of a gtx 470. Check this link:

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

At 1680x1050, more GPU than a 470 wouldn't be necessary. In fact, another option would be a 1 GB gtx 460, which you could SLI when your resolution changes in the future. Two 460's performs as good as or better than a 5970 and costs about $200 less.

With a $2000 budget, you're right to consider an SSD for booting the OS and running games off of. Right now, the OCZ Vertex 2 drives are the best. They are faster than the Intel x-25m drives.

As for cases: I have never worked with the Antec 902, but lots of people like it. I've built three in a HAF 922, though, and they are excellent. Very spacious and lots of stock cooling performance. I'd strongly consider it. It's also $30 cheaper than the Antec 902 on newegg right now.
September 7, 2010 5:24:43 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
Quote:

My remaining questions are:
1-If I decide to start playing around with overclocking, am I going to need a heat sink/fan with this setup? Is it worth just getting one and putting it in now, rather than deal with having to rearrange things to make room for one in the future?
2-Seems like most people recommend a SSD for OS and programs and a HDD for storage. Is this a noticeable boost in performance beyond boot-up time? Is it difficult to implement this type of setup? On a related note, should I be bothering with the whole RAID setup thing? It sounds complicated, so I was thinking it might not be for a first timer, but then I was reading that it's particularly difficult to implement after installing the OS, so maybe I should take the time to learn about it now?
3-Mid size case over full is ok, right?
Thanks for reading...I appreciate any help offered!


1)If you want serious overclocks then yes, a good cooler and thermal paste is recommended to keep temps under control.
2)SSD in my opinion is the best upgrade you can ever do in a computer. It brings your computer to life. Everything is snappier, faster, and saves frustration. If you work fast like constantly switch between windows and do tasks, a hard drive will be sluggish sometimes, with an SSD, performance is consistent and fast. Also you never must worry about defragmentation...my software says my SSD is at 60% defragmentation...works just as snappy as the day I installed the OS. It is not difficult to implement...its a drop in replacement, same sata and power connectors as in an HDD, unless you get a PCI-E SSD...but those are thousands of dollars. Raid won't help in boot time or performance. Infact with an SSD raid won't do anything unless you copy and paste files that are many GB's in size. So raid is pretty pointless as it doesn't speed up access time.
3)Mid size case is fine, as long as its good quality and cools well...its fine.


blackhawk don't go spreading around this stupid info about raid0 not helping. Two drives working in unison can acces 2 files in the time 1 ssd can acces 1(there is a slight and unnoticable delay due to the info going through the raid controller but that is neglectable). That is how simple the system is. It's got nothing to do with acces times.

here is one of the many many benchmarks confirming what I said http://tweakers.net/reviews/515/6/raid-0-hype-or-blessi...(1).html as you can see performance isn't quite double but it's the same with SSDs which are infinitly faster than HDDs but ni practice not so much.
September 7, 2010 5:25:48 AM

Good link thanks mortonww I was looking for a comparison between ati and nvidia with all the new drivers.
September 7, 2010 11:22:04 AM

I am going to go down a side line here and suggest a different build. It's great you have plenty of money to spend, but I just want to offer up an alternative suggestion for you - I persoanlly am one who does not like to spend money for the sake of it, and when it comes to gaming, I feel the i7 build does exactly that (Hyperthreading offers nothing to game, nor does more than 4gb RAM). This build will offer all the power you need and with OCing should last 3-5 years

i5 760 + Asus P7P55D E Pro - $360
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

GTX 460 MSI Cyclone 1gb - $205 ($410 for 2)(Has HDMI connection)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec 900 + XFX 750W PSU - $160 after rebates
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

HDD Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - $75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G Skill 1600mhz RAM - $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Dark Knight Cooler - $45
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total: $1149

Plenty of power for OCing both cards and the CPU. Great case for cooling, good CPU cooler for OCing. Plenty of money left if you want to buy an SSD.

I don't know how big a gamer you are, but you may even want to just have one GPU and OC it and then see what comes out in the future. Totally up to you.

You can even spend $260 on a nice 23 inch LED monitor with 1920 x 1080 and HDMI connection if you want it
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


If you don't need the HDMI connection on the monitor then you can get a good 24 inch for less - $210
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 7, 2010 7:38:25 PM

Somebody_007 said:
blackhawk don't go spreading around this stupid info about raid0 not helping. Two drives working in unison can acces 2 files in the time 1 ssd can acces 1(there is a slight and unnoticable delay due to the info going through the raid controller but that is neglectable). That is how simple the system is. It's got nothing to do with acces times.

here is one of the many many benchmarks confirming what I said http://tweakers.net/reviews/515/6/raid-0-hype-or-blessi...(1).html as you can see performance isn't quite double but it's the same with SSDs which are infinitly faster than HDDs but ni practice not so much.


I apoligize, I was off. :)  However the delay of the raid controller is pretty damn significant, many people say boot times slow down because of its latency. You'd have to get a really expensive and high quality controller for a low latency. And Raid 0 won't do anything unless you copy/paste or open/save very large files. Otherwise its pretty much unnoticeable. If the file is small, then a single SSD will handle it faster then having it go through the raid controller. When you boot the OS, you are loading thousands of tiny files and at that size, your raid controllers latency will have an effect on boot times, usually for the worse, but it depends. Raid 0 helps with large reads/writes, it doesn't do much with small reads/writes because at that point its mostly about latency and thats where raid will slow it down sometimes.
September 7, 2010 8:55:44 PM

First of all thenks for admitting being wrong instead of insulting me like lots of people^^

Well the thing that determines bassically everything about storage speed is random reads and random writes influenced both by latencies and read/write speeds. With regular HDDs the latencies are around 10ms so the added time of the raid controller is neglectable.

But when we move to SSDs which is where you are more right the average 0.1ms latency is influenced a lot by the raid controller. Thus the difference between raid and no raid is much smaller because even though the read/write speed is doubled the latencies decrease the performance improvement leading to smaller differences in app performance.

But almost always a raid0 array will boot faster than a regular ssd. Some more benchmarks with very fast SSDs

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

The thing is even though the improvement in boot times and load times is not that big large file transfers are much faster like you said so there isn't really a downside to raid0 seeing as SSDs never really crash and thus I'd still reccomend spending the little time for the be it small difference in performance.

In the end we are both half right :p .

September 7, 2010 9:01:48 PM

That first article is from 2004 when raptors had like ~70mbs sustained, and raid would actually help. Raid0 nowadays is pretty useless on the desktop side of things, 90%+ of your accesses are random, which is an area that Raid doesn't help.
September 8, 2010 6:15:16 AM

sp12 said:
That first article is from 2004 when raptors had like ~70mbs sustained, and raid would actually help. Raid0 nowadays is pretty useless on the desktop side of things, 90%+ of your accesses are random, which is an area that Raid doesn't help.


I posted a benchmark with the highest performing SSDs in boot times. raid0 is less effective with you high end drives as low end drives you claim. Obviously raid0 is less effective with SSDs than HHDs due to the acces times and lastly raid0 excels at copying instead of loading and booting. That is the worst case senario of the worst case senario and still we se a 10-20percent improvement.

How on earth does raid0 not help?
September 8, 2010 10:00:22 AM

Because for your money you could be near an SSD without the doubled risk of failure. In SSDs the improvement is less than 10% for double the cost and the loss of trim.

I'm not going to count that 2004 article as valid. Those drives get smashed by a modern 5400 drive, so two of them would probably help.
September 8, 2010 12:47:24 PM

your being completely irrational. 2 HDDs are faster than 1. The latencies with HDDs are so high that the added time of a raid0 controller is neglectable.

SSDs don't crash or are very unlikely to. It's not like discouraging someone to car because they can break down.

Can you back up any of your outlandish claims that modern 5400rpm drives beat raptors from 2004? or the other stupid claims that the raid0 improvement with SSDs is less than 10percent. I have concrete data backing me up you have nothing, absolutely nothing.
September 8, 2010 2:10:36 PM
September 9, 2010 4:02:10 AM

Wow...thanks for all the advise and feedback (even if it seems like no one can agree on RAID0 with SSDs!) I looked over all the suggestions, and came up with the following modified list. Some suggestions made sense, but due to combo deals and rebates on newegg, it was sometimes no real cost savings in getting the downgraded part. Appreciate any final comments!

CPU- Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115211)
MB- ASUS P6X58D-E (combo deal with the CPU) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131641)
RAM- G.Skill PI DDR3 6GB (3x2GB) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231335)
Graphics Card- EVGA GTX470 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130550)
SSD- OCZ Vertex2 60GB (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227550)
HDD- Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185)
Power Supply- Corsair HX 850W (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139011)
Case- Antec 902 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129058)
DVD- ASUS Black (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204)
OS- Windows 7 Home Premium for System Builders (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754)
HSF- Xigmatic Dark Knight (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233029)

Am I correct in assuming the SSDs don't generally come with SATA cables?
Throw in the various combo deals and rebates, and that leaves me pretty close to $1600. Plenty left to either SLI or buy a new monitor or Blu-Ray drive...
September 9, 2010 4:39:21 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
looks like a geat combo

It's audio chipset sucks but IMO a sound card be it a cheap one is the way to go. It also doesn't support 3-way sli but at the price who could argue?

The case is also very good.

I'd exchange the dark knight for this

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

The size should tell the story.

IMO SSDs is one of the last things to invest in. I have quite a similar build with hard drives in raid0(cost effective, size effective, no hassle with different drives and it is undoubtibly fast whatever anyone says HDDs in raid0 destroy normal HDDs whichever way you put it. I have wd 640gb drives to be percise.)

I also have this sound card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and these headphones http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-650-Lightweight-Aud...

however the rest of my system is like yours(I have a 470 and x58 based system) maybe slighly better in some aspects, however I have a very good sound card and heaphones that could blow your brains out. I simply don't think it's worth spending money on an SSD when you haven't good optimal peripherals. especially since your paying 150-160USD the price of very very good heaphones just so can store windows and a few games on a storage disk that will make those proggrams boot maybe twice as fast.

And I find blu-ray pretty useless. Unless you know you need it forget about it. I've had a blu-ray reader for over a year and a half but haven't ever used it.
September 9, 2010 4:50:59 PM

Ohh and btw a sound card makes a massive difference with high quality audio don't let anybody here tell you different, because many will try^^.

I've compared my xonar to my ipod and alc889 directly(switching channel with my amp with all the rest staying identical. so there was no time for my memory to twist things are for me to become biased) Both are relatively high quality encoders. But the difference blew me away. Also don't think this is audiophile talk because even though I'm kind of into audio now this is my first sound card and I have little experience with audio. Seriously you have to be deaf to not notice the improvement this makes.

September 9, 2010 10:57:33 PM

Didn't see that combo...that's a pretty nice discount. Planning to buy in the next couple days. Might have to switch to that board.
September 9, 2010 11:31:16 PM

Sent you a PM.
September 10, 2010 5:10:10 AM

NVmnd I misunderstood.
!