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~$1,500+ gaming desktop review

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September 10, 2010 6:04:30 PM

Hey all,

Currently I'm over $1,700 and willing to take on that price, but want to ensure that I'm building a solid system. My main concerns/uncertainties are this time are the video card, motherboard and memory. The rest, I'm pretty set on at this time. I've always been an avid nVidia fan, but from what I've been reading as of late, ATI seems to be the fan favorite. Do I really need to drop the extra $100 on that level of memory vs. a lower grade 8gb?

Any help/advice/criticism is most welcome.

Thank you!

Here is the current setup I'm looking at:
- Corsair P128 CMFSSD-128GBG2D 2.5" 128GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
- LG Black 10X Blu-ray Burner - Bulk SATA WH10LS30 LightScribe Support - OEM
- AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition Thuban 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor HDT90ZFBGRBOX
- ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
- CORSAIR DOMINATOR 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMP8GX3M2A1600C9
- COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Blue RC-932-KKN3-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
- XFX HD-585X-ZAFC Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card w/ Eyefinity
- CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ...
September 10, 2010 6:24:32 PM

For a gaming rig, you don't even need 8 GB RAM. 4 GB will be fine. Right now, the best combination of price & performance is probably this G.Skill ECO series 4 GB kit. It has faster timings and runs at lower voltage than the Corsair RAM.

At 120-128 GB, this G.Skill Phoenix SSD will offer better performance for only about $10-20 more.

Although I have it myself, I'll say that the Crosshair IV is overkill for most people. This ASRock 890GX board gets a lot of good reviews, while this Gigabyte UD5 has all of the important features of the Crosshair IV, but costs about $50 less. That being said, the Crosshair does look super awesome.

The 1090T is also overkill for gaming, you would be just fine with a Phenom II X4 955 for about $150 less.

You will probably also want a traditional hard drive for storage. A 500 GB or 1 TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 or Seagate 7200.12 would fit the bill at $55 and $75 respectively.

With the money saved on RAM (and the rest of the system), you could probably step up to a 5870 graphics card if you wanted to.

Alternatively, you could lose USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0 Gb/s and go with an nVidia-based mobo in order to be able to SLI. Or you could build an i5-760 system and go with either ATI or nVidia cards that way.
September 10, 2010 6:49:03 PM

if its for gaming.... its a baf build...
first... i wouldnt get that ssd... i would get no ssd or 1 ssd 60gb for os
then ... why a blu ray burner.... do u really need it?? do u copy blu ray disc to play on a blu ray player??
the phenom x4 965/955 is better for gaming... u dont need 6 core
that motherboard just if u will use all they features... if not get an asus m4a89gtd pro/usb3
4gb its enought... dont get 8gb
i prefer another case than thatone... i would recomend nzxt phantom
wiht the money u didnt waste u can get an 5870...
and modular psu are really good.. i would get hx750w or xfx 750w black edition
Related resources
September 10, 2010 7:54:54 PM

Thanks guys, i appreciate the responses. While yes, I do plan on gaming with this, I am also a SQL Server DBA and do quite a bit of SQL Server work and plan on using my home PC for some side project work as well. The SSD is very appealing to me as I want to do some benchmark testing and regardless, i would like to have an SSD for my OS/apps. I have a 80gb raptor and 300gb 7200 seagate as well as an external wdd 1tb drive for all additional storage. Only looking to use the SSD for OS and apps with some databases here and there as well.

I've been out of the hardware game for far to long, and I've never even heard of G.Skill. I'm a bit hesitant to go with them, but they do seem to get really good reviews across the board. Perhaps I can scale back my memory with that brand. I would agree, I don't really "need" 8gb, but it's what I use at work and I'm regularly at 5+gb used when idle (largely due to SQL).

Originally I was looking at the quad core proc's as well ... but being me, the six seemed awesome. That I would agree more than anything that I probably don't need. I'm curious to as why Juanchioo says the x4 is better though?

In regards to the video card though more than anything ... is there a reason to go ATI over nVidia or vice versa at this point? Again, I've never owned ATI, but again as stated, I've been out of the hardware game for many years.

Thanks again for the help!
September 10, 2010 8:09:39 PM

I actually didn't notice that the memory I had picked was over $300 ... a bit high huh?

I am still set on going with 8gb at this time, I may lower if I can't hit my mark ... but I'm a little confused to as what specific speccs I should be going for. With the mobo I'm getting, I can support 1600 correct? Seems like there is a big price jump between 1333 and 1600 ... is it that much of a difference and more importantly, worth it? I'd like to stick with brands I've used and while stupid, that look cool (ie, Corsair, GEIL, OCZ).

Thanks again!

September 10, 2010 8:22:30 PM

for the ssd i would get ocz vertex 2 60gb thats enought for os and some other few things...
for the ram g.skill is very good and they are very cheap too, corsair are very overpriced, you could get 4gb and if u see u need it get another 4gb after
the x4 its better for games :p  i dont know why but in benchmarks x4 do it better than x6
ati its cheaper and faster... they are very good... also with that motherboard u cant sli so its better to get ati with an amd build... twith the 5870 u wil be able to play almost all the games on full hd and max settings (not in crysis lol :p )

and i insist :p  that motherboard is overkill... get a 890gx chipset
September 10, 2010 8:27:09 PM

Thanks Juan.

Well, ATI has what, Crossfire right? Same concept as SLI? Isn't everyone basicall backing ATI at this time, so going with this board I'm pretty solid then yeah?

Out of curiosity, what card would be able to pull off max settings in crysis?

I'm still refining and researching, but this is helping. I feel like to avoid the fight with the woman, I should get it down to $1,500.
September 10, 2010 8:27:27 PM

Ok, SQL server developer changes the game a little, and obviously 8 GB is reasonable for that. With everyone describing their build as a gaming rig, without additional details, recommendations tend to stay focused on that.

Unless you're doing heavy SQL work at home, I think the quad core will be fine. Obviously, if you're doing heavy database work, then you might want the hex-core after all. But that's what work is for, right? :)  (EDIT: 955 vs. the 1055T is a more interesting discussion. The 1055T will self-overclock a little bit, but in testing I think it only boosted about .1-.2 GHz. I'd get the 955 if gaming, etc. is more important to you, 1055T if you plan on doing a LOT of highly-threaded stuff.)

Whether or not you've used it, Mushkin is a reliable brand, and I think they look cool. :)  I use 2 of these Mushkin 1600 MHz CL6 4 GB kits for a total of 8 GB in my Crosshair IV. Running at rated specs, no issues.

Are you opposed to fully populating your RAM slots? 4x 2 GB is generally a good deal cheaper than 2x 4 GB.

On AMD, timings are generally more important than clock speed. If you're not overclocking, I'd just get 1333 MHz CL7 or CL6...typically CL7 isn't too much more expensive than CL9. Basically any memory will do, but 1600 MHz CL7 or 2000 MHz CL9 is the preferred budget overclocking memory.

As far as SSDs go, you could certainly get a different brand if you're not into G.Skill. Any of the SF-1200 drives are the way to go at 120 GB. Corsair Force, OCZ Agility 2 or Vertex 2 would be good. The G.Skill was just a little less expensive. There are also versions of all of the above at 60 GB if you think you're spending too much for 120 GB.

(And yes, that's the video card I was talking about.)
September 10, 2010 8:29:56 PM

crossfire is the same as sli but with amd cards, a 890gx motherboard will be exactly the same 890fx is for extreme overclock, just that

the card to max settings crysis is 5970 or 5870s in crossfire
September 10, 2010 8:34:37 PM

I do like that OCZ SSD ... faster, and cheaper ... but 60gb worries me. With today's installs (look at Visual Studio 2010), 60gb can and will go fast. Hmmm.
September 10, 2010 8:47:34 PM

Yeah, I tend to think that the minimum usable size for most people is 80 GB, and 100-120 is better.

Here's some "light" reading on SSDs, if you're interested. Some of the better articles I've seen over the last few months.

Anandtech's SSD Relapse - a good overview of the technology, but a few months old, so the product recommendations are a bit dated.
bit-tech SSD Buyer's Guide - pretty recent, good overview of the various controllers
techreport article on SSD value - recent, includes comparisons vs. traditional HDDs.
Anandtech article about the C300's value compared to other drives
September 11, 2010 12:20:25 AM

Cold, you've been of great help thus far.

This is where I currently sit that hit my $1,500 mark pretty spot on ($1,500.93). I'm still not certain on the memory, nor SSD. Can you take a look and let me know If I should change up what I have here?

I removed the BD burner, as honestly, I don't need it. I'd kind of like a BD player that had DVD burning abilities ... but I may just grab a new DVD optical drive for the time being. Looking at that now, but that will be cheap and/or I'll use one of my existing.

I really do want a decent future proof desktop that can last me 3-5 years. My current has stood tall for the past 4 years now, but it's on it's last leg. I'm pretty sure as you said I could scale back on the mobo, but that more than anything feels like I need to go a bit overboard to hang out for a few years to come. The video card also has me worried ... is this good enough? Really the main games I'm looking to play: Crysis, Rage, Starcraft 2, Diablo 3, Final Fantasy XIV.

Looks like I'm getting the $$ I was seeking (selling off my blu ray collection), so I'm ready to pull the trigger on this, tonight! Hopefully I grab you or someone elses attention as I'm crazy excited to get this done!

Thanks man!

Case:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Blue RC-932-KKN3-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

CPU:
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX

HDD:
OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Memory:
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMP4GX3M2A1600C8

Motherboard:
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

PSU:
CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Video Card:
XFX HD-587X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
September 11, 2010 12:39:58 AM

things i would change...

case too expensive, u can get better ones for that money

8gb... get just 4 and if u think u need the extra 4gb get them after....

and psu... the wattage is very tight if u want to crossfire... get a 850w also i recomend xfx black edition or corsair hx series...

when i do a complete build i like to chose a very good: case, hdd and psu cause u can keep those and just upgrade cpu, mobo and gpu... and ram when they make a new one
September 11, 2010 12:49:35 AM

Thanks Juan, check my build above now ... I agree with your points, except the case. I'm a big fan of that case. ... Unless I see something better, I'm pretty set on it.

As for the memory, being that I'm saving at least $100 now, does it make sense to possibly get > 1600?

Huge thanks to both of you!
September 11, 2010 12:52:19 AM

yes... it is the most comon for memory... i think its the right one get... good brand cl7 1600mhz, if u get that its good.

well the case its ur opinion but there are better ones :p  and i hate red but blue dosnt go with haf in my opinion
September 11, 2010 12:58:33 AM

So is the memory I picked ok? Really wondering If I should just go with the G.SKILL, they have the ripsaw (which is red) that may look better in the mobo anyways, and it's cheaper.

Out of curiosity, which case would you go with?
September 11, 2010 1:07:37 AM

those memorys ur posting are not cl7 :p  get one of this:

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

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

(sorry idk how to post links)


case i like the nzxt phantom :p  but is out of stock right now and lian li are good.

also i like the lancool pc k-62 a lot but the only bad thing is that it is mid tower, 5870 will fit, but im not sure if anything bigger will do.

also if u can w8 a little in the end of october 6700 will come, prrice will fall and then in a few month 6800 will come... so its ur decition
September 11, 2010 1:12:41 AM

Well, if he's overclocking the 1055t does quite a bit better. It's 3 full revisions ahead and based on a separate high-K gate process.

10$ more for 2 additional cores seems pretty easy from a longevity standpoint in my opinion. A 3.3 turbo means for games it's not really noticably slower.
September 11, 2010 1:34:56 AM

So lower cas latency = better right?

Primarily, the CPU is needed for gaming, but yes, SQL Server and other developer software will take advantage of the multi-cores, but I don't be doing that much intensive work at home. So now you guys have me confused ... go with x4 or x6. I highly doubt I'll OC as I don't care all that much about the extra little gain. I mean, can gaming really be effected poorly by additional cores? I think I'm in agreement with sp12 about the longevity ...
September 11, 2010 1:38:26 AM

Yes! Low CL is better.
September 11, 2010 1:39:30 AM

adambean said:
So lower cas latency = better right?

Primarily, the CPU is needed for gaming, but yes, SQL Server and other developer software will take advantage of the multi-cores, but I don't be doing that much intensive work at home. So now you guys have me confused ... go with x4 or x6. I highly doubt I'll OC as I don't care all that much about the extra little gain. I mean, can gaming really be effected poorly by additional cores? I think I'm in agreement with sp12 about the longevity ...


The x4 is great for gaming, x6 isnt needed.
overclocking - little extra gain????? NO Get to 4ghz and its not a little gain by a long shot!
September 11, 2010 1:42:39 AM

Ok, so CL7 then ...

Yeah that is a pretty substantial gain I suppose, but then I don't have to do the whole water cooling and such? I mean, truth is ... that's still a ton of power that what if anything from a desktop perspective can truly even take advantage of that? Hell, my work servers have 128gb memory and 64 cpu's ... I built them that intense just because I could, can I even touch 30% of that yet? Hell no! haha

I guess I'm at a loss to as how x4 can out perform x6. Is it simply because the majority of desktop based software (ie, games), are not yet properly written to span multiple cpu's appropriately?

Really guys, I do appreciate this. I want to make sure I'm spending this much money the best way I can at this point.
September 11, 2010 1:47:47 AM

Yeah, the x6 doesn't come with a heatsink ... that link you sent me, what the hell is that? Is that a CPU fan!? That thing is intense ...

I'm game to go with this though, seems pretty cool.

Any other suggestions/modifications to the current build I have posted earlier?
September 11, 2010 1:50:28 AM

Also, Pizza ... in regards to the six core ... they do make a black edition and it's 3.2ghz vs. 2.8ghz .... is it worth the extra $75?
September 11, 2010 1:51:45 AM

Its not just the ghz that you are paying for. The "black edition" means that it has an unlocked multiplier (meaning overclocking is way more simple)
September 11, 2010 1:53:48 AM

Mr Pizza said:
Its not just the ghz that you are paying for. The "black edition" means that it has an unlocked multiplier (meaning overclocking is way more simple)


So, $75 is worth it? Under the assumption I do go ahead and OC right?
September 11, 2010 1:54:05 AM

Because it is DDR2 (the old memory type) the new type is DDR3, memory has changed a lot and CAS7 DDR3 is great for DDR3.
September 11, 2010 1:54:57 AM

adambean said:
So, $75 is worth it? Under the assumption I do go ahead and OC right?

Well you can still get the 1055t to 4ghz fairly easy... for a new overclocker the black edition would help.
September 11, 2010 1:57:11 AM

Well, I definitely know my way around with computers ... but as you can see, I'm kinda bad with this level of hardware as I'm pretty much primarily focused on the server world anymore. Is it something I can read up on and figure out? Sounds like perhaps that $75 may not be worth it. Is it something that can go bad easily If done wrong and then I'm SOL?

Without the memory, I'm currently at $1,525 now!
September 11, 2010 1:59:35 AM

Mr Pizza said:
Because it is DDR2 (the old memory type) the new type is DDR3, memory has changed a lot and CAS7 DDR3 is great for DDR3.


Ok, and then in regards to the 16000, 17066, 17600 for DDR3 CAS7 ... does it really matter?
September 11, 2010 2:01:24 AM

Mr Pizza said:
Well for gaming an x4 is fine. Remember that, and its black edition...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But again, the x6 1055t can be clocked to 4ghz pretty darn easy.... says the advanced overclocker... XD


Good point ... the x6 is twice the price ... Really wonder If It's worth the $$ at this stage. I have to assume there is close to nothing from a gaming perspective that truly needs/can use that much power? If I cut this back, that makes the overall bill a lot better after adding memory.

Again though, if it TRULY worth it ... I'd be willing to spend more.
September 11, 2010 2:02:52 AM

Don't spend over $120 bucks on memory. Really....

Go for the x4 :)  its a great CPU for gaming.
September 11, 2010 2:09:57 AM

Ok, so this is the latest build @ $1,529.91. Any additional comments/suggestions/recommendations?

The one area I'm wondering If I really need to spend that much is the motherboard. Well, I know this is silly, but I'd rather have a blue mobo than red! haha, I'm stupid like that. Anyways, for $45 less, this looks like a very comparable board: ASUS M4A89TD PRO/USB3 AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

I mean, with the current hardware below + adding an optical drive and two sata HDD's ... what's the best bet for a good, 3+ year mobo?

I hate to take advantage of your knowledge at this point, but would also like your feedback on the SSD if you wouldn't mind.

Thanks!!!


Case:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Blue RC-932-KKN3-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

CPU:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX

HDD:
OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Memory:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH

Motherboard:
ASUS Crosshair IV Formula AM3 AMD 890FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

PSU:
CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Video Card:
XFX HD-587X-ZNFC Radeon HD 5870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

Misc:
CPU Cooler:
COOLER MASTER V6 RR-V6SV-22PR-R1 DynaLoop CPU Cooler w/ Universal bracket

Thermal Grease:
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
September 11, 2010 2:12:13 AM

Go with the ECOs i posted (they will fit under the CPU cooler) the motherboard has some northbridge heating problems (i know how to fix it) all else looks good.
September 11, 2010 2:13:49 AM

Yeah I went with one of the memory choices you selected earlier ... although, If I change to that blue mobo, I'd change to the blue memory.

Your comment about the heating problems ... is that for the red or blue? If red (crosshair), should I consider changing?
September 11, 2010 2:16:31 AM

that is great...

i would chage the motherboard for m4a89gtd pro/usb3 over m4a89td pro/usb3 cause its cheaper and its almost the same

also there are better cpu coolers and the thermal compound comes in the box with the cooler...

the v6 is very overpriced... check this one:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
September 11, 2010 2:18:39 AM

Mr Pizza said:
Well you see... if it DOES have the problem its a simple fix or you can RMA and asus will give you a tested one. I believe they fixed the problem on August 29ish.. but i'm not sure. You won't be able to see the ram, get the ECOs
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

they will fit under the CPU cooler...

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



ripjaws also fit.... i heard that eco had some problems with amd
September 11, 2010 2:18:59 AM

Forgive my ignorance and continual pestering of you ... but the statement about fitting under the CPU cooler, this is not unique to this ECO line right? You're just saying in general that whatever memory I pick, it won't be visible as they'll be under the CPU cooler?

So everything else is solid then? SSD, PSU, Video Card? No last minute recommendations before I pull the trigger (although I'll probably sit on it for one more day). Again, my goal is to not have to buy anymore hardware for at least a few years ... I want to make sure that I'm doing the right thing and if it makes sense to drop another $100 on a few better pieces, please let me know.

Thanks man, really appreciate your time.
September 11, 2010 2:20:48 AM

You can see 1 stick im pretty sure.. maybe 2..... but im not sure about ripjaws fitting under the v6...
!