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$2,000 Gaming/Rendering Build (Final revision before purchase)

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October 5, 2010 9:09:07 PM

NEW NOTE: I've updated the OP with my final intended build (see below). Please let me know if you see any problems I may have overlooked with this. I know I exceeded my initial $2,000 ceiling, but that is due (largely) to the added monitor.

OLD NOTE: I've updated the OP with my projected build (see below):

Salutations. I'm looking to build a new rig and would like your input. I'm looking for a system that will meet my primary need (gaming and media viewing/listening) but also affords some of my secondary artistic pursuits (rendering and digital production). I'm not going to ask for a system that lasts for years because tech doesn't work like that. I'd like the best I can get at this moment for what I'm able to currently afford ($2K).

Approximate Purchase Date: Current date


Budget Range: $2,000~ish (After rebates)


System Usage (ranked importance): Gaming (heavy 3D emphasis), Media (movies/music), Rendering (Poser), Digital Graphics (PhotoShop), Digital Media (light audio/video production), Standard usage (surfing, file maintenance, etc.).


Parts Not Required: Have Monitor (will be starting with a Samsung 941BW (19'' - 1440x900 (native)) but will upgrade a.s.ap.), G19 Keyboard, G5 Mouse, and speakers.


Preferred parts site: NewEgg (but willing to go elsewhere as needed).


Country of Origin: U.S.A.


Parts Preferences: Have no brand loyalty (Intel/AMD, nVidia/ATI, etc.). Have had positive/negative experiences from all sides so it's all good.


Overclocking: Provisionally. I'm not opposed to tweaking things up a bit, but I'm not looking to wring every last cycle out of everything. I like the idea of raising performance, but I don't want to constantly worry about heat, fan speeds, and reducing the life expectancy of the hardware.


SLI or Crossfire: Not opposed to multiple cards if the final build warrants it.


Monitor Resolution: Currently running 1440 x 900, but I'm not married to it. Will get a new monitor outside of this build to accomodate a higher resolution if necessary.


Additional Comments: Additional niceties I'd like to be taken into consideration:

Optical Drive: Will need at least a DVD-R. Would like a Blu-Ray burner, but not a must. Can get later.

SSD: Wouldn't be opposed to using as I prefer a speedier OS but a platter only system is fine.

OS: Will need Win7-64. Would be nice to fit this under the $2,000 ceiling, but not crucial.

--- FINAL REVISION START ---

Here is the build I'm currently working on (based largely on banthracis' suggestion):

CPU ($299.99):
1 x Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB ($209.99):
1 x 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...

HS ($29.99 + $9.99):
1 x 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...

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

PSU ($149.99):
1 x XFX Black Edition XPS-850W-BES 850W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM ($154.99):
1 x G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU ($609.98):
2 x EVGA 012-P3-1470-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD ($239.99):
1 x G.SKILL Phoenix Pro Series FM-25S2S-120GBP2 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD ($74.99):
1 x 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...

Optical ($19.99):
1 x ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS ($99.99):
1 x Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case ($129.99):
1 x AZZA Hurrican 2000 CSAZ-2000 Black SECC Japanese Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor ($189.99):
1 x ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Subtotal: $2,216.86 *

* Note: Prices and subtotal are based on all items as they appear on my wishlist. Actual pricing will change when I make the final purchase as I intend to find combo deals for some items. For example, I can save $10 using "Combo: 437504" for the case and OS.

---

Please review the above list and let me know what you think. Specifically, is any item in the list incompatible, problematic, or simply just a piece of garbage.

--- FINAL REVISION END ---

Closing comments: My main worry is putting together a system and cursing myself a few months later for going in the wrong direction. I have notoriously bad luck for backing the wrong horse. For example, I've lost every console war. I went with Intellivision over Atari, Colecovision over 5200, Genesis over Nintendo, etc.. I know.. ..mixed medium metaphor, but eh. I just want something current, solid, and worthy of taking the nuts and bolts route.

Thank you (in advance) for any assistance you can offer.

Best solution

October 6, 2010 8:10:39 PM
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Here's a full build, includes Windows 7, SSD, HSF and a monitor

OPtical $17
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

Monitor
Asus 23.6" 1920x1080 $190 w/ $20 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU
2 x EVGA GTX 470 $300 each w/ $30 MIR each
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU
XFX BE 850W $150
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM
G SKill Pi DDR3 1600 7-8-7-24 $155
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mobo
Ga x58-UD3R $180 w/ promo code EMCYTZT177, expires midnight today
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HSF
CM Hyper 212 + $30
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

solid performance and no blocking RAM slot issues.


Case/OS
HAF 922 and win 7 64bit premium $180
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

SSD/CPU
i7-950 and vertex 2 120gb $517 w/ $30 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Total: $2124
Shipping: $19
Rebates: $120
Promo discount: $20

Grand total after rebates and shipping: $2003.05

A few bucks over but I fit in a nice HSF, a 1080p monitor and the OS. Blue ray is really something that you only get if you're actually planning on using it.

If you really wanna make it under $2k, you can get the same SSD combo'ed with a i7-930 for $15 cheaper. No real diff if you overclock.

I'm not sure what games you actually play, but you can also get away with just 1 GTX 470. Unfortunately only Nvidia has CUDA so ATI is really out of the picture if you use anything with CUDA support.



October 6, 2010 9:09:58 PM

First off, big thanks to banthracis for the excellent reply. Very interesting setup. You seemed to encompass everything nicely. Since making the OP, I've read the following article (here at TH):

System Builder Marathon: TH's $2000 Hand-Picked Build
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/newegg-combo-toms-h...

The NewEgg combo for that system is viewable here:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

Viability of 6 cores under $2k? As I read the article, I tried to justify the expense of the i7-970 by measuring the perfomance increase, but the entire article seems to keep knocking the fact that they needed to stay under $2k. Statements such as:

"We didn’t have enough money left to buy the highest-end air cooling solution, let alone something more extreme like liquid cooling."

"Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any within our budget. Giving up our three-slot spacing desires, Gigabyte’s X58A-UD3R was the default choice."

...etc.. As you follow the article to the conclusion, it is loaded with additional statements reminding the need to cut corners. I started to wonder if shooting for the 6 cores meant shooting yourself in the foot with the rest of the system.

I guess what I'm leading to is whether or not it is better to:

A: Go with a 6 core solution with less than ideal secondary components which can be replaced at a later date.

B: Go with a solid 4 core solution that stands well on it's own (such as the build suggested by banthracis).

As it stands, I'm leaning towards option B.

Thoughts?
Related resources
October 6, 2010 9:16:50 PM

Depending on software, the advantage of GPU acceleration of parallel computations results in a 10x-100x speed increase over even the best Xeon processors.

Hence, for workstation builds, IF (key word here) your software utilizes CUDA, then it's a much better idea to put your money into a good CUDA GPU.

With proper coding, the GPU basically acts as a CPU with hundreds of cores.

For gaming more cores is useless as well. Nothing uses more than 4 cores, and AI, the most CPU intensive task, is restricted to 1 core because it's a nonparallel computation.
October 6, 2010 10:40:11 PM

banthracis said:
Depending on software, the advantage of GPU acceleration of parallel computations results in a 10x-100x speed increase over even the best Xeon processors.

Hence, for workstation builds, IF (key word here) your software utilizes CUDA, then it's a much better idea to put your money into a good CUDA GPU.

With proper coding, the GPU basically acts as a CPU with hundreds of cores.

For gaming more cores is useless as well. Nothing uses more than 4 cores, and AI, the most CPU intensive task, is restricted to 1 core because it's a nonparallel computation.


I value your input, but if what you're saying is true, then why is TH using up a coveted spot (such as the $2,000 Build) for either the AMD or the Intel 6 core solution if neither is a sensible solution? If 4 core is truly the way to go, then why not stick with a solid $2k build that includes 4 cores and beefy graphics as well as extra bells and whistles across the board rather than a 6 core option where TH makes apologies throughout the article for not being able to include more desirable options because an over-the-top CPU ate the lion's share?

Not trying to play Devil's advocate here. I'm just trying to make sense of it all.
October 6, 2010 11:13:14 PM

The TH builds aren't typically the 'best' options around, they're typically experiments at various CPU/GPU/Core budget balances.

In my opinion, you have 4 really good CPU (but only 3 platform) choices:

i7-950 (300$)
Amd 1055T X6 95 watt edition (~190$)
Quadcore 32nm Xeon (~340$)
Consumer i7-970 (~880$)

The 950 offers the best gaming price/performance, the 1055t offers the best price/performance, the Xeon offers the most reliable productivity, but cuts gaming performance and is expensive. The consumer hexacore eats up most of the budget, likely restricting the cash to spend on the gaming/core components.


Depends on your focus really. My personal choice would be the Xeon or 1055t, but they are not as strong gaming chips as the i7-950. The 950 would probably be your strongest gaming chip, while the 970 covers both bases but is expensive, meaning less for a gaming GPU.
October 7, 2010 2:14:41 AM

Tom's hardware builds are universally judged as crap by the people on these forums.

As mentioned above, they're usually, lets try a build based on some random idea theme we have for this marathon and see how it ends up. It was micro atx cases a few months ago, ONLY ATI a few before that, only Intel a few before that.

This time it was cheap CPU with as much money into GPU as possible. The 2k build you mentioned above is he opposite.

Basically, none of the builds are balanced. Tom's goal's in these article that performs the best on their benchmarks for the least money. This is a purely synthetic target and has nothing to do with real world applicability.

Classic example is that they love to sli/xfire GPU's right off the bat. It's a best immediate value, but by using two cheaper GPU's instead of 1 more expensive one, they kill any chance of future upgrade in most cases.
October 8, 2010 11:15:47 PM

Here is the build I'm currently working on (based largely on banthracis' suggestion):

CPU ($299.99):
1 x Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB ($209.99):
1 x 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...

HS ($29.99):
1 x 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...

PSU ($149.99):
1 x XFX Black Edition XPS-850W-BES 850W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM ($154.99):
1 x G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7T-6GBPI
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU ($609.98):
2 x EVGA 012-P3-1470-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

SSD ($239.99):
1 x G.SKILL Phoenix Pro Series FM-25S2S-120GBP2 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD ($74.99):
1 x 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...

Optical ($19.99):
1 x ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS ($99.99):
1 x Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case ($89.98):
1 x COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor ($189.99):
1 x ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Subtotal: $2,171.86 *

* Note: Prices and subtotal are based on all items as they appear on my wishlist. Actual pricing will change when I make the final purchase as I intend to find combo deals for some items. For example, I can save $10 using "Combo: 437504" for the case and OS.

---

Please review the above list and let me know what you think. Specifically, is any item in the list incompatible, problematic, or simply just a piece of garbage.
October 11, 2010 7:56:32 PM

Does anyone else have any comments/criticisms on my projected build before I hit the checkout button?
October 11, 2010 8:00:23 PM

I second the XFX PSU.
October 11, 2010 8:23:48 PM

sp12 said:
I second the XFX PSU.


Yeah.. ..my bad. I had changed that on my NewEgg wishlist, but forgot to edit the posts here. Updated now.

Here's one of my main worries. Is 850W enough to handle the 2 GPUs and still have enough left to handle one or two additional drives at a later date and other devices drawing from USB?

Also, I've been eyeing the following case:

AZZA Hurrican 2000 CSAZ-2000 Black SECC Japanese Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apcgot45Ql0

Thoughts/input?
October 18, 2010 5:11:38 AM

Okay. I changed the final intended build by swapping out the case:

AZZA Hurrican 2000 Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seems like a solid case and I like the look. If I'm going to be spending a lot of intimate quality time with this new rig over the next year or two, then I may as well buy it a decent dress.

The only thing I still feel a little uneasy about is whether or not 2 470's are going to burn up. I thought of going with water cooling or even dropping down to 2 460's or a single 5970. The Azza case is suppose to cool well. Not sure.

Additionally, the original optical drive is out of stock but I'm not worried about switching to a different one. If you can recommend a solid alternative then please do.

Please review my final build before I hit the "Lay it on me!" button within the next day or two. Much thanks; in advance.
October 19, 2010 7:50:59 AM

Best answer selected by Unperson.
October 19, 2010 8:01:47 AM

banthracis said:
Here's a full build, includes Windows 7, SSD, HSF and a monitor...


To banthracis,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my thread and for the great suggestions. I have purchased everything I need for my new system and am awaiting the shipment. The majority of the build is based off of your original suggestion. I'll reply to this post later with the final list of components I used once I have the final system up and running.

Again, big thanks!

Unperson
!