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General Use/Gaming System with longevity for $1200 (to $1k with help)

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September 25, 2010 12:49:31 PM

Hi All,

It seems like this is a very active and helpful forum so I'm hoping you can do the same for me. I'm looking at putting together a new system but haven't really been keeping with with hardware over the last few years. Based on the reviews I've been able to find, I think this system will give me something I can play some games on (i.e. Dragon Age quality) and will last for a good while in my family (i.e. 5+ yrs with minimal tweaks).

Preferred vendor: NewEgg (but I'll get parts anywhere)

Components:
Case: TBD
PSU: Antec EarthWatts 650W (might be off base)
$79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015
Motherboard: ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
$289.99
CPU: INTEL Core i7-860
$279.99
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231311
Video: Sapphire Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0
$139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102873
SSD (boot drive): OCZ Vertex 30G
$91.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227393
with: 2.5" to 3.5" bracket (ICY DOCK MB990SP-B $14.99)
HHD: Samsung EcoGreen F2 1TB
$69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152173
DVD/CD: 2x ASUS
$18.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204
Speaker Card: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio 24-bit 96KHz PCI Interface Sound Card
$49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16829102007&Tpk=creative%20N82E16829102007

Booting to Windows 7 Home Premium.

Thanks for any help/tips you've got.
September 25, 2010 2:03:26 PM

Hi techtest10, and welcome to the forum.

The motherboard you selected is not compatible with the CPU. I happen to like the i7-870 because you can use a less expensive mobo.

Combo deal for CPU and Asus P7P55 motherboard for $455

The hard drive you selected runs cool and conserves power, but the Samsung Spinpoint F3 is faster, almost the same price and nearly as efficient.

The Power Supply is really good, but as you may already be able to tell, I like saving money on combinations, rebates and promo codes.

Combo deal for Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB and Corsair 650W ATX for $108.

You don't need 8 GB of memory right now, and if future demands for RAM increase, you can always upgrade. I suggest this Patriot 4GB kit for $73 after rebate. It has the same latency, but is faster.

Unless you are doing something really edgy with your sound, you probably don't need the dedicated speaker card.


With the money you are saving so far, consider an upgrade to your graphics:

Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB for $200

...and you should still have some extra cash for a bigger faster SSD:

OCZ Agility 60 GB for $90

Now for a case. I think they are very much a personal choice - what is your favorite color? Do you like flashy lights highlighting your motherboard through a side window? (I do :wahoo:  )

Here is a budget priced case that rates 5 eggs on new egg AND its own adapter for a 2.5 inch drive: Rosewill Challenger for $50.

This is the one that I own, a Cooler Master Scout for $106. It also has the 2.5 inch drive adapter. This price is a little high, because shipping is extra.

If you have a Frys or a Micro Center near you, it is helpful to see and feel the cases. You save on shipping, but remember to include the taxes into the total cost.

Finally, consider a heat sink. Overclocking has become very easy, especially with a high end board. Here is a cooler that ranks highly in the reviews: Zalman CNPS10X Performa for $40

If I added it all up correctly, the total here after rebates, and including shipping, the DVD, and $100 for the case is $1066. You have enough to do an SLI with a second graphics card if you want - that would give you an premium gaming rig.





September 26, 2010 2:21:24 AM

Thanks Eloric. Unfortunately, nothing like a Frys or Microcenter around here. All of the good little tech centers have closed up thanks to the Walmarts and Bestbuys of the world while the big guys are useless for this kind of work.

I must have mis-read the mother board specs. That would have been a bad screw up.

I always love the idea of combo deals though I try to plan a system without the discounts in case they run out before I get to buy the components. (For example, the Samsung/Corsair combo seems to be up to $144.98 now)

That said, running down the list....

It looks like i can do a bit better than your cpu/MOBO desl with the ASUS P7P55D-E + i7-875 for $449.99. :)  This way I get the perks of simple future overclocking but save more cash.

Even in a side to side I haven't seen anything yet that says that the 870 is worth it over the 860 except in very high end work. You (anyone else) know any different?

I've seen a bunch of people recommend the Spinpoint F3 ($74.99 base) though its only benefit looks like ~1 ms on Latency. With the same seek time (but slower spin speed), I'd have thought the main difference would be in noise level and power draw, except (of course) during program load or intensive hd r/w. Am I missing something on the Spinpoint? (Of course for the right price there's nothing wrong there either....)

Thanks for the tip on the memory. The base price was above where I was looking (hence the 4GB G.Skill at $89 base vs this one at $92).

I like your video card (I was also looking at the Sapphire Radeon HD 5850 for $279 but went with mine based on price vs. performance. I think I'll have to try mine for now but put something like that on the "upgrade to" list for a few years from now. The performance reviews I saw of the GTX 460 do put the Radeon 5770 back to ~80% performance but that still not too bad for the $80 off. (http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zotac/GeForce_GTX_460_1_GB/31.html)

I am a sound guy but its def. not hard to add it later if I needed to so I think that's a good point to get rid of that card for now.

That Rosewill is a nice case and just made my list. It's just what I wanted to find.

How can I argue with a faster SSD at 2x storage for <$20 more.

I've always been on the fenceon using aftermarket coolers (particularly before I overclock) but its good to have one on the list for if/when I decide to overclock.

So all put together I get: $1021 before rebates and $940 afterwards.

MB/CPU:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.495060
Mem:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220436
Video:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102873
SSD:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227461
DVD (x2):http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827135204
Case:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147153
Supply/HHD:http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.492764

Let me know if you or anyone else things I've made any big mistakes here or really have overlooked something great in a video card or something else. Taking a $2400 commercial PC to $~1200 down to $940 is a great thing.

Thanks.
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September 26, 2010 1:24:23 PM

Glad I could offer some useful suggestions.

The i7-860 and i7-870 are the same price on Newegg. Unless there is a better combo deal on the 860, you should go for the higher stock clock speed on the 870, especially since you are unclear on whether you want to change the clock speed yourself.

Now let's take a moment to nudge you off the Overclocking fence. High end motherboards today are overengineered specifically to handle the additional stress of overclocking. If you look at the ASUS site for the P7P55D-E board, you will note there are extra phases for power conditioning, stack cooling, fan expert and an overclocking setting on the memory. These features are in addition to the 8 specific references in their overclocking section, one of which prevents you from causing harm with the wrong settings. The days of frying your equipment with one mistep are pretty much over. In fact, the board you are looking at has a utility to bump the clock speed without even having to go into the BIOS. To put it simply, why buy a sports car if all you are going to do is drive it like an old lady?

Now for the final word on this: the CPU combo you selected is not for an i7-870 or an i7-860, but an i7-875! That's Intel themselves charging $50 more for an unlocked chip, which means you can change the CPU speed without affecting other components like memory. I am starting to get jealous here, so I will just shut up :( 

As for hard drives, I cannot explain why the access and latency specifications are so misleading realtive to performance. Here is a fairly typical example of a benchmark: THG HDD comparison As you can see the Green models fall to the bottom of the charts.

The velociraptors, spinning at 10,000 rpm, almost always top these lists, but of course they are alomst as expensive as SSD prices, which are in a whole other league. The WD Caviar Black comes next, followed by Samsung Spinpoint F3. Seagate and Hitachi are usually not recommended because of issues with noise, vibration, reliability, etc.

The Samsung Spinpoint F3 drives also have high marks for temperature and power consumption - typically right below the "green" models. I have been recommending them because the WD Caviar Blacks have been more costly as of late. The prices, however, have just recently adjusted closer to par, so if you are not purchasing right away, then you should look again before you buy. For the same price, I would select Western Digital.

For the video, I agree with your 5770 choice. Graphics are in flux, and new cards are coming out soon. Prices for existing tech are going to continue to drop faster than usual here.

I am just starting to dabble in sound so can't advise on the card, but if you will find it useful then I say buy it.

You have a great configuration picked out here. Good Luck.

Edit: fixed hyperlink, minor spelling/grammar corrections.
September 26, 2010 5:44:42 PM

Thanks again for the help. I suppose with what I've got saved here another 40 on the heatsink isn't a big deal (so long as it passes the wife test). Maybe I'll give it a shot. Lets say I got a little gun shy back in the days of toasting your chipset with a small error or at least significantly reducing its life.

This will be a big step up from the old system I have at this point and will be great to build. :hello: 
September 26, 2010 5:50:37 PM

If you're planning on overclocking your i7 I would spend a bit more to get lower voltage ram.
September 26, 2010 11:20:43 PM

Why do you say that sp12? I'd expect the psu to have more the enough headroom on the voltage rails I'm using.
September 26, 2010 11:38:25 PM

:p  Low voltage ram doesn't save much power, it might save you 10$ over the lifetime of a build.

However, now that the IMC is integrated on the CPU, lower voltage ram can help you overclock in that it's less of a voltage requirement/stress on your IMC, meaning you can theoretically hit higher clocks at the same Vcore.
September 26, 2010 11:42:16 PM

How much of a drop do I need to be useful or is this a "anything is better than nothing"? I might spend an extra $50 for a big win but barring that a small reduction in (over)clock speed doesn't seem worth much cash.
September 27, 2010 12:32:02 AM

Hey sp12, are you thinking something like these little numbers? Mushkin Enhanced 4GB DDR3 1600 CAS7 1.35V for $96 These are sold out at the moment, but Newegg expects to restock on Tuesday.

techtest, I think you are reasonable in your assessment. This memory is $24 more than the Patriot, and it may gain a couple of hundred Mhz on the high end of your overclock. For everyday usage, it most likely will not matter much, especially since you have the unlocked CPU.

I have my i7-920 overclocked to 3.33 Ghz for everyday use. It runs relatively cool and is stable at this speed even though I have 1.65 V, CAS 9 DDR3 1600 memory. I hit a wall at 4.2 Ghz, however, and I suspect because of that very same memory. If I had known when I bought my machine how much I was going to enjoy overclocking, I would have paid the extra for the lower voltage and lower latency RAM, but that is just me.


September 27, 2010 12:52:21 AM

I was looking at a G.Skill equivalent (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231321&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-RSSDailyDeals-_-na-_-na&AID=10521304&PID=3463938&SID=5496bqihx4 but yeah it was a ~$30 price up for an (apparently) small reduction in voltage. My guess is that (like most electronics) small changes in component reliability due to small differences in power draw can be more than made up for with improved cooling in a system and the case and fans should be way more than needed for the challenge unless the system was somehow border line anyways or there was just a very steep performance curve.
September 27, 2010 2:07:02 AM

There are a lot of people that swear by G. Skill. The stuff you found has CAS 7 which is good. 1.35 V which is really low. These should work just fine - they are actually qualified for your motherboard on the G.Skill website.

Memory is a funny thing if you are trying to squeeze as much performance as you can out of your system. I think with RAM, if you start with lower voltages, you can push them further. It is the same with latency - the lower the initial CAS value, the higher you can push the speed as you increase the lag.

Don't mean to get into a full blown RAM OC lesson here - plenty of time later, and there are dozens of articles explaining everything you will need to know.
September 27, 2010 2:27:17 AM

Ha ha... Maybe leave that lesson to another post another time.

For now, I think I've made out ok with the build above + hs with a basic oc on the cpu. I'll have to start digging up info on how much I can safely oc this cpu.

I'll have to look at oc-ing the ram. I've never really considered that before. Could be fun for another day but seems a little too price risky for now (in case I blow the ~$80-$100 boards).
April 23, 2011 2:48:07 AM


Hi Everyone,

Sorry to resurrect such an old thread but thanks to some changes at home it took me longer than I wanted to save up for this computer. In looking over the old build some of the components (i.e. the cpu) isn't sold anymore while others have changed prices (some down some up). Since hardware doesn't stand still I thought I'd re-post my old build and the one one I'm working up based on what I think the newest equivalents are.

Hopefully someone can spare some time to look over it and let me know what I can tweak before I start buying and building. At this point I am pretty well limited to ~$1000 for this rig. I'm still shooting for something that will work well as a gaming machine and that will have some legs (even if I end up needing to swap out some things or add some memory in the future.

Thanks.

Original Build: (Prices from NewEgg)

Motherboard:
1x ASUS P7P55D-E
LGA 1156 P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
$139.99
CPU:
1x Intel N82E16819116368
i7-875K Lynnfield 2.93GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Unlocked Desktop Processor BX80605I7875K
$329.99
Memory:
1x Patriot N82E16820220436
Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model PGV34G1600ELK
$92.99
Video Card:
1x Sapphire N82E16814102873
Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
$139.99
SSD: (primary/boot drive)
1x OCZ Agility OCZSSD2-1AGT60G
60GB SATA II MLC
$109.99
DVD:
2x ASUS N82E16827135204
$18.99
Case:
1x Rosewill N82E16811147153
CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, option Fans-2x Side 120mm Fan
$44.99
Supply:
1x Corsair N82E16817139005
Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V
$89.99
HHD:
1x Samsung N82E16822152185
Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$74.99

Total (ignoring rebates): $1060.90


New Build:

Motherboard:
1x ASUS P7P55D-E
LGA 1156 P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
$129.99
CPU 1:
1x Intel BX80605I7870
Intel Core i7-870 Lynnfield 2.93GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor
$289.99

OR:
Motherboard:
1x ASUS Sabertooth X58
LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
$194.99
CPU 2:
1x Intel N82E16819115224
Intel Core i7-960 Bloomfield 3.2GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
$289.99


Memory:
1x Patriot N82E16820220436
Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model PGV34G1600ELK
$49.99
Video Card:
1x Sapphire N82E16814102873
Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
$114.99
SSD: (primary/boot drive)
1x OCZ Agility OCZSSD2-1AGT60G
60GB SATA II MLC
$119.99
DVD:
2x LITE-ON N82E16827106289
$19.99
Case:
1x Rosewill N82E16811147153
CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ,comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm Fan, 1x Rear 120mm Fan, option Fans-2x Side 120mm Fan
$54.99
Supply:
1x Corsair N82E16817139005
Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V
$89.99
HHD:
1x Samsung N82E16822152185
Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$54.99

Option 1 $944.90
Option 2 $1,009.90


So overall, if my equivalents are good then I'm in about the same place I was cost wise with a few better components. So what do you all think? Thanks again.
April 23, 2011 5:38:14 AM

Uh buddy, you are a bit behind the times, new technology has been released in processors, sandy bridge, where you really ought to get the i5 2500k , as functions like the i7 980X for just $225.. and so much better than the i7 870.

Your GPU is a 5770.. old and really slow and expesnive. The GTX 460 768mb is a much better 'old' buy etc etc. Make a new thread please, noones going to scroll down at such an old thread, except for me tehe :D . Good luck, ill put in more effort once i know what your current situation is, in a NEW THREAD :D .
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