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New build

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October 26, 2010 9:10:08 PM

Hi. Inventive title, eh? I'm building a general-use and heavy gaming PC for the first time after putting it off last year and have been checking out components. I don't really intend to do much upgrading and will probably just build another computer in a few years. I don't want to break the bank but I do want to be able to play anything for the next few years on pretty high settings. I have little experience in overclocking, but I'll probably experiment.

I've basically assembled two totally different builds that I'm considering. A central difference between them is the CPU: as you probably know, the i7-930 is available for only $40 more at microcenter.com (the same price as the i5-750), but then the mobo costs more. This also changes the RAM, but from what I've read it's negligible for my purposes. I'm not really sure which build to get: if the first one would actually be worth it, I'd buy it.

Probably, an i5-750 build with P55 is a good alternative to both. However, it and i7-930 are available for the same price, so I might as well step up to i7-930 then.


Build 1 (rebuild in 4-5 years)

CPU Core i7-930 $200
Mobo Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $210
RAM G.Skill 6GB DDR3 1333 (triple channel) $105
PSU Antec TruePower New TP-750 $115
Total $630


Build 2 (rebuild in 3-4 years)

CPU AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE $160
Mobo ASUS M4A79XTD EVO $110
RAM G.Skill 4GB DDR3 1333 (dual channel) $80
PSU CORSAIR CMPSU-650HX $120
Total $470


For either build, I have two GPU choices (and an infinity of small modifications that could be made, say a GeForce GTX 465 instead of 460):

SAPPHIRE 100282-3SR Radeon HD 5850 $270
GIGABYTE GV-R585OC-1GD Radeon HD 5850 $260
MSI N460GTX CYCLONE GeForce GTX 460 $200



What do you think?


General questions:

#1: Builds: As for non-gaming tasks, I am fond of doing many things at once. Say I'm downloading something, watching a high-res movie, browsing Flash-wasteful websites, and for mysterious reasons archiving things in WinRAR all at the same time. Is this going to show a fair difference between the builds?

#2: Build 1 mobo: Would I be all right dropping to the ASRock X58 Extreme 3? From the description, I'm not sure if I'd lose hyper-threading support by dropping down to something like the ASRock X58 Extreme.

#3: Build 2 PSU: Is the PSU sufficient? I'll be running two 1TB HDs on either build as well.

#4: Noise and heat: I'm a little concerned generally about this, and haven't made any cooling selections yet: GPU-wise, after a lot of scouring the net, I've determined that different people disagree on which card would be better along even these lines.

#5: Radeon HD 5850: Is there any point going Gigabyte instead of Sapphire? The only difference I can see is that the "Core Clock" is 765MHz over Sapphire's 725MHz. Is that a real difference, or is that just a tweak? It also has a longer warranty, which is probably more important.


Thanks very much for reading!

More about : build

October 27, 2010 2:43:03 AM

Agree with mosox.

the x6 is a great buy, and will ensure maximum futureproofing. the 6 series cards are also excellent, and really worth going for.
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October 27, 2010 4:09:58 AM

I'm going to ask you to look at 6 cores vs 4 from a different perspective.

Assume for a moment that the 6-core would help your muti-tasked projects finish faster. Would you notice? Maybe you're busy looking at something else, and if one of those relatively brief multi-tasks finishes faster . . .

The best use of a 6-core is when you are doing one or two multi-threaded tasks, and waiting on the outcome. Then the seconds saved add up.

Finally, take a look at the comparison between the 1090 and the 750:

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/146?vs=109

You are in the best position to judge whether you want stronger performance in games, or whether you can take advantage of areas where the 1090 is stronger.

As for the 9XX series, you can plug 920/940/950 into the comparison above and see the difference. Are those differences worth the extra money to you?

Long way of saying, multi-tasking doesn't necessary profit from 6-cores vs 4. But when it does, it is important.
October 27, 2010 4:26:03 AM

This is a killer X6 combo albeit with a lower clocker non-BE processor:

AMD Phenom II X6 1055T (Thuban) 2.8GHz 6 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor (Model: HDT55TFBGRBOX)
GIGABYTE Socket AM3 AMD 870 Chipset SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Motherboard (Model: GA-870A-UD3)
Kingston 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Desktop Memory Kit (Model: KVR1333D3K2/4GR)
Antec Nine Hundred + EA650 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 650W Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...
Combo Discount: -$44.97
Combo Price: $478.99
$458.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate(s)

I'd then get one of the new AMD 6870 ($239) GPUs

FWIW, the mobo in the combo will not Crossfire (x16, x4)
October 28, 2010 7:26:59 PM

Thanks for the replies. I've been going over CPU comparisons, but in the meantime, I was a little surprised to hear recommendations for the Radeon HD 6870. Based on a couple early reviews, it seems to be slightly better than the 5850 (plus cheaper), but it's an extremely new card with almost no reviews or benchmarks.

Even in the charts I can find, such as in this topic, the difference between the 6870 and the 5850 is small.

Wouldn't it be better to go for a card that's had time to be thoroughly tested and possibly gone through manufacturer revisions? Is that a stupid question? Or is the idea just to send it back to the manufacturer for one of the new revisions should it start exhibiting problems?
October 29, 2010 12:18:23 AM

Here are the reviews (conclusion pages) at Anandtech and Tom's:

http://www.anandtech.com/show/3987/amds-radeon-6870-685...

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-6870-rade...

As for buying "serial number one" of a vid card, the history of hardware performance is pretty good. If there's an issue, its usually driver-related. In my experience, nVidia drivers are better quicker than AMD. But in both cases the problems/performance issues usually get fixed.

There are two anomalies in 68XX reviews so far. The first is one normally reliable site showing greater than 100% scaling in crossfire. Since they didn't mention the anomaly, my guess is they were in a hurry and got it wrong. The other one may be more important, showing crossfire minimum FPS lower than a single card.

But nothing that would affect single card performance.

If you choose a "proven" card, your choices are 5850, 460, 5870. ATM, there's an OC'd Gigabyte 460 priced at $180 after $20 MIR.
October 29, 2010 5:11:40 AM

Thanks. I'll go over some of the data and probably get the HD 6870.

CPU-wise, i7-930 vs x6 1090T: I've gone over more articles, forum topics, and debates than I care to admit and come out with a decision, pretty much. Both are clearly great processors and have slightly different applications. I would go for the x6 regardless except that I happen to be in luck with a Micro Center being within driving distance: this leaves the i7 available at a lower price than usual, making the options more competitive, with the more expensive X58 mobo factored in. (Skip to the end of the post for the thrilling conclusion.)

The results of my investigations, in case they help anybody else:

From the many reviews, benchmarks, and flame wars I've scanned, the i7 often posts 10-15 FPS more in games; in numerous tests, the advantage is lower or negligible. It's a little suspicious how the values seem to go back and forth depending on the review source: one source shows decisive (10 FPS, say) i7 leads in most benchmarks, another source shows relative equality across the board.

Anyway, obviously, with components of this quality, FPS is often irrelevant now, but in a year or two with the latest games at high settings, it won't be. Hopefully with the HD 6870 or a similar card, things won't be GPU-limited (or bottlenecked, a term which everyone seems to misuse or misapply, me included).

I don't do much video editing/encoding/3D modeling, so those, which tend to favor the x6 by variable margins, aren't factors for me. WinRAR fared a little disappointingly with the x6. Finding good Photoshop stats was frustrating but it seems to slightly favor the i7 as well, though it doesn't matter.

The main mark against the i7 is the prohibitive price of its mobos. Upgradability probably throws its weight behind the x6 due to AMD's smart AM3 policy, whereas the LGA 1366 is a total dead end, but again, that's not really a factor for me.

Summary: Frankly, I should just flip a coin. However, I'm probably going for the i7-930.

This is a good topic.
October 29, 2010 1:54:58 PM

I too am lucky to have a MicroCenter right near where I work. They have great deals on CPUs. I still can't believe I could get my FIL a dual-core 2.5GHz Intel processor for $40.

I got this email this morning with these deals @ MicroCenter on the i7-950:

BUNDLE #1 - SAVE $215 OFF our regular price
Intel® Core™ i7 950 3.06GHz Processor
ASUS P6X58-E LGA 1366 X58 ATX Motherboard
BUNDLE SAVINGS -$40.00
BUNDLE TOTALS $419.98

BUNDLE #2 - SAVE $235 OFF our regular price
Intel® Core™ i7 950 3.06GHz Processor
ASUS P6X58D Premium Socket 1366 X58 ATX Motherboard
BUNDLE SAVINGS -$40.00
BUNDLE TOTALS $474.98
October 29, 2010 5:39:51 PM

Interesting. How does one go about cashing in on one of those Micro Center combos? I was planning on getting the ASUS P6X58-E anyway. I can't find any info about it on their site, or even a reference to the combo in question.
October 29, 2010 6:05:02 PM

How much is the Intel Core i5 760 in there? The i7-875K? Are there any combo deals with them?

LE The 760 is $169.99 and the other one $249.99.
October 30, 2010 3:08:17 PM

According to my local Micro Center... they're only doing a bundle on AMD processors, not Intel. Weird.
October 31, 2010 1:52:40 AM

Both the i5 7XX and the i7 9XX are better gamers than the 1090T. The i5 does it for about the same total cost, the i7 often costs more. There may be a lot of threads, flames, etc about it, but there's no doubt.

Anyhow, good luck with the 930. Enjoy the build.
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