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Is this an okay budgeted gaming build?

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October 26, 2010 2:24:02 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: May 2011

Budget Range: 1600

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Watching Movies, Work, Video Encoding

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: ncix.com, price matching with bestdirect.ca, directcanada.com, memoryexpress.com, canadacomputers.com

Country of Origin: Canada

Parts Preferences: No real preference

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Yes, eventually

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Quiet and good air flow. I would also like to set up multiple large storage hard drives to be shared on my local network.

Long time lurker, I have finally decided to sign up with toms hardware because of the great community associated with this website. I have a current build in mind, I am aware by the time I would like build the PC a fair amount of the parts will either be replaced with cheaper and improved alternatives, however I would like to get any feedback on my current choice of parts and any thoughts as to which components will most likely be replaced with better parts in the coming months. I am also unsure if I should add a 40-60GB SSD for the OS for faster boot times, I am unsure of the benefits. If its only a few seconds faster I dont think it would be worth it. But if it is alot faster it is something to think about. Also I chose a fairly high wattage power supply because down the road I would like to add another video card. Also my budget is around $1600 CAD tax included.


Case: Cooler Master HAF912
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=55583&promoi...
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD6870
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX30918(ME).aspx
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/223993/AMD/HDZ955FBGM...
Heatsink: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/218427/COOLERMASTER/R...
Motherboard: Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H 890GX
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/227460/Gigabyte/GA_89...]
Ram: Corsair XMS3 4GB DDR3-1600 CMX4GX3M2A1600C9
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=42530
Power Supply: Corsair TX950W
http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=11180AC9542&v...
Hard Drives: 1x Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX27676(ME).aspx
5x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/225943/Western_Digita...
1x Corsair Force Series 60GB SSD (unsure)
http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=53423
DVD Drive: Samsung SH-223L Sata Black DVD Writer Lightscribe
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX25485(ME).aspx
Sound Card: HT Omega Striker 7.1
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/114624/HT_Omega/STRIK...

More about : budgeted gaming build

October 26, 2010 5:44:16 AM

For a May 2011 build,
CPU - Intel Sandy bridge/ AMD Bulldozer
Mobo - Corresponding mobo...
Graphic card - ATI HD 69xx series/ Nvidia GTX5xx series

So I wouldnt start planning from now on as many things would have changed then,...
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October 26, 2010 11:35:16 AM

Do not get a Caviar for HDD, get the Samsung Spinpoints, amazing HDD, anyone will back me up on that

I dunno if you need 950 W but if you can afford it and wanna upgrade later on, no biggie

and please next time check your links to make sure they work, we dont wanna copy and paste all this stuff
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October 26, 2010 12:15:36 PM

6 months is a long time in tech. A lot would have changed by then. So I wouldn't start planning anything as yet. Intel, AMD, Nvidia are all coming up with new-gen stuff so I'll definitely wait especially if I have a decent enough budget.

@ gkay - AMD has dropped the ATI brand. So these are AMD Radeon HD 6850/70 etc :) 
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October 26, 2010 12:35:26 PM

why do you have five 2TB Hard drives?
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October 26, 2010 6:36:06 PM

@ gkay09 - Ok thats something I will definitely keep in mind when I build a new system a few months from now.

@ Reaper2794 - Hmm I knew about the samsung spinpoints but I didn't know they were better than western digital caviar's. I may consider changing my HDD choice then. Do they also have a 2TB 5400 rpm variant for mass server storage?

@ calguyhunk - I do realize 6 months in tech is a long time, I would just like to have an idea what a decent budget is for my purposes and if the majority of the components I have chosen would be good choices for my uses.

@ ScrewySqrl - I have 5 2TB hard drives because I would like to set up a Raid 5 shared network storage in my pc, where all my family members can access the drives through the gigabit/wireless N network at home.
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October 26, 2010 8:16:04 PM

if you reall want 2 TB Hard drives, I'd point to teh Samsun F4 as well, its VERY fast and $99.99 ea
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Best solution

October 26, 2010 9:00:51 PM

If you want a rough idea 'bout the components then by today's standards -

The Spinpoint F3/F4's are significantly faster than the Caviar Blues & 'bout at par/slightly faster than the Caviar Blacks. But the WDCs are just as reliable. The Caviar Greens by the way are storage grade stuff so you might wanna seriously reconsider those.

The fastest SSDs are the OCZ Vertex 2 Pros & Intels.

Do you really need a 890 GX/FX NB Chipset? Look for 870/880G. It will be significantly cheaper & will support USB 3.0 & SATA/eSATA 6 GB/s + 8/8 Xfire.

Corsair XMS3's are plenty good, but try to get a C7 kit if they are not significantly more expensive. They are gonna be slightly faster.

Also if you're not looking to XFire that 6870, the 950 Watt PSU will be a bit of an overkill even for a RAID 5 system.

Are you sure you want a $75 Sound Card? In any case, I've only worked with Creative so I don't know a whole lot 'bout HT Omega.
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October 26, 2010 9:18:34 PM

I would just like to thank everyone for their helpfulness.

@ ScrewySqrl - I originally only had WD or Seagate in mind for hard drives, but after hearing great things about the samsungs. I will most likely change my HDD choice to samsungs. Do the F3's or F4's have better performance and are samsungs as reliable as WD?

@ Calguyhunk - After reading great things about the samsung spinpoints, I will most likely consider either the F3 or F4 samsung's as my HDD storage choice

What capacity SSD is good for mainly an OS as well as a few applications? I was also considering the 40 GB X-25M.

I actually don't know too much about chipsets and what benefits the 890 GX/FX chipset provides over the 870/880G but I can definitely do some research. However by the time I do end up purchasing my system, a new chipset will be released for the new bulldozer/sandy bridge platforms.

I will try to find a well priced C7 kit, however will I see noticeable improvement if they cost roughly $30 more?

I was actually planning on crossfiring the 6870 when prices go down and it makes economical sense to purchase a second video card, thats why I was looking for a more powerful power supply to handle any additions I would like to make in the long run. I do realize for a single GPU system it is an overkill though.

I have read good things about the HT omega, however I am not limited to a choice in sound cards. If it is a good card and has good value I will definitely consider it. I am planning on hooking up my bookshelf speakers, subwoofer and receiver to the sound card through either optical/coaxial/analog so I thought having a decent sound card would be a good idea
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October 26, 2010 10:02:32 PM

SSD - For the OS + few apps, 40-60 GB should prolly suffice.

Mobo Chipset - Absolutely. The new Bulldozer range is gonna use the new AM3+ socket which will obviously come with a new chipset. But for the Phenom II 955, the sub 100 dollar 870/880G is prolly the way to go.

RAM - The speed is what matters more. $30 is way too high a price to pay IMO for a CAS 7 kit instead of 8/9 for the same speed 9 (DDR3 1066/1333/1600/2000 Mhz). My rule of the thumb is $5 extra for every GB of RAM (max) for mainstream (non-fanatical OCD) users.
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October 27, 2010 1:31:24 AM

The Samsunf F4 drives are very fast, with 300 Mb/sec transfer speeds on the 2 tb model. Comparable to most 7200 RPM 1 TB drives
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October 27, 2010 1:53:55 AM

@ calguyhunk - Is the performance increase for an SSD above a 7200 rpm HDD noticeable for the difference in price?

I also checked the ram prices, and unfortunately for faster speeds it would cost $40 more.

@ Screwysqrl - I have changed choices of my 2TB storage HDD's to the samsung spinpoint F4 HDD's. However the only retailer that seems to be carrying them at the moment is newegg.ca, ncix.com only has the older F1 HDD. Hopefully in the future ncix will carry them because it will be easier to just pick it up locally then have to wait for it to be shipped to me. Are these drives fairly new? Also the price of the samsung is 114.99+2.99 shipping so hopefully in the future it goes down in price!
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October 27, 2010 2:01:03 AM

they came out about 3 months ago.
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October 27, 2010 4:17:08 AM

Yes definitely go with F4 then, they're great
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October 27, 2010 4:47:17 AM

The performance increase for CL7 as opposed to CL9 is mostly academic (provided the speed remains constant). Stick with your kit if it's that much more expensive in Canada. In most places (including the US) it just costs a few bucks extra.

As far as the SSD's are concerned, the difference in speed between a regular 7200 RPM HDD & an SSD is H-U-G-E. Forget 'bout a 7200 RPM drive, even a 10,000 RPM Velociraptor is no match for a regular SSD, which can have a sequential write speed in excess of 275 MB/s. But personally I don't use one 'coz shaving off a few seconds off of my boot time is not worth a 100 bucks to me, I don't think.
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October 27, 2010 12:19:42 PM

@ calguyhunk - Great thanks for the info, I may just splurge on the SSD because my university provides my department free copies of windows 7. Therefore I dont need to spend an extra $120 on an OEM OS. I will also most likely stick with CL9 to save the extra bit of money.
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October 27, 2010 3:49:35 PM

Yeah stick to CL9, not a huge biggie, although I highly recommend you stay away from SSDs. You gain a bit of a speed boost at a hefty cost, 1-2 years and those things will cost half of what they do now the way I see it /:
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October 27, 2010 6:22:01 PM

@ reaper2794 - oh okay I will probably stick with a 7200 rpm drive. Do you think 8GB of ram is a noticeable improvement over 4GB?
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October 27, 2010 7:15:45 PM

8gb vs 4gb will show no appriciable improvement in games. In other applications (Virtual machines, movie creation, 3d rendering) yes, you'll see improvement.
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October 27, 2010 8:48:29 PM

^As sqrl said, Photoshop, Vegas etc will need a a lot of RAM. More the layers, the more the memory required. Gaming however will see barely any improvement with anything above 4GB. And to use even that, you'll need to install x64 Windows.
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October 28, 2010 11:59:24 AM

@ calguyhunk - interesting, I will be installing x64 windows 7 but curious if 8GB will help if im running matlab for computations.
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October 28, 2010 12:09:40 PM

I use Matlab myself on my 6GB system. My cousin uses it on his 2GB Lenovo laptop. His is a trifle slow sometimes. But mine works fine. You're pretty well covered with 4GB IMO.

Btw, one word of caution though 'bout installing x64 Windows - Make sure all your hardware - especially if you plan to recycle any older components - are driver supported.
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October 28, 2010 1:39:44 PM

@ calguyhunk - I am planning on waiting till the new sandy bridge/bulldozer cpu's and new mobo's supporting those cpus arrive which will allow me an upgrade path in the future. How do I check to see if all my hardware is x64 supported?
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October 28, 2010 2:27:16 PM

if you wait the 3-5 months for Sandy bridge/bulldozer and use all new parts at that time, you'll have no problem
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October 28, 2010 3:56:19 PM

@ screwysqrl - Great to hear, I was also wondering about the new samsung 2TB F4 drives. Are the WD Caviar Green 2TB drives much worst if being used solely for storage purposes? I plan on having a dedicated 1TB drive for OS and such
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October 28, 2010 4:49:52 PM

reaper2794 said:
Do not get a Caviar for HDD, get the Samsung Spinpoints, amazing HDD, anyone will back me up on that

I dunno if you need 950 W but if you can afford it and wanna upgrade later on, no biggie

and please next time check your links to make sure they work, we dont wanna copy and paste all this stuff


Agreed Spinpoints are duh bomb.
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October 28, 2010 5:14:47 PM

the samsung Spinpoint F4 uses a trio of 667 GB platters, the WD greens uses 4 double-sided 250 GB platters.

The F4, because of the shorter seek times on its higher capacity platters, is MUCH faster than the WD Greens, its comparable to much smaller drives.
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October 28, 2010 5:31:58 PM

@ screwysqrl - Oh ok, thats something I was unaware of on the WD greens. Are there any 2TB drives comparable to the samsung spinpoint F4 in terms of performance and price?
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October 28, 2010 5:33:13 PM

right now, no. the F4 is the faster 2 tb drive around right now
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November 4, 2010 12:08:06 AM

Best answer selected by 1-anh.
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November 4, 2010 5:02:11 AM

Thanks, man. Cheers :) .

I really hope you're waiting for sandy/bulldozer though at your budget. Not that you've got to get it, but it'll be nice to have options, IMO.
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