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Comments on my proposed build please

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November 1, 2010 2:22:33 PM

Hi everyone!

I am looking to build my own PC for the first time ever. I'd really appreciate your thoughts on the setup below. In particular, are there any compatibility issues with these components, and have i made any blindingly stupid decisions?!

Case: Cooler Master HAF 922
PSU: Corsair 650w
Mobo: MSI 890FXA-GD70
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2GHz
GPU: My current NVidia GeForce 9600GT (I'd dearly love to upgrade this, but GPUs are so damn expensive!)
RAM: 4GB, 240-pin DIMM, DDR3 PC3-10600
HDD: My current ST3250820AS ATA 250GB and also a Iomega 1TB external drive.

Will using my current GPU and HDD make upgrading the rest a waste of time?

Thanks!
November 1, 2010 3:04:59 PM

What are you currently running? What problems are you trying to resolve by building a new machine?

If you're trying to improve gaming performance, assuming your current PSU can handle it, you might be better off upgrading the graphics card before upgrading the rest of the system. Alternatively, if you can afford to save for a little longer, the new 6850 and 6870s aren't that pricey, at around $200 (give or take).

If you can afford to wait until the end of the month, there should be at least a few good deals over Thanksgiving weekend (Black Friday/Cyber Monday).
Related resources
November 1, 2010 7:28:01 PM

Thanks for the super-fast replies.

Links:
Mobo - http://www.ebuyer.com/product/221880?utm_source=google&...
RAM - http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/listparts.aspx?model=V6...

I am currently running a budget PC I bought a while ago, with a graphics card and some RAM I put in at a later date. Specs:

PSU: Bestec ATX-300-12EB3 150w
Mobo: Elitegroup 945GCT-M3
CPU: Intel Core 2 duo E4500 2.2ghz
GPU: NVidia GeForce 9600GT
RAM: 2GB DDR2-1110 555mhz

The reason for upgrading is general low performance - I use my PC for gaming and it just isn't up to scratch anymore.

I'm in the UK so no Thanksgiving deals here! I'm not in a rush but I want to get this done before the new year as tax rises over here mean everything will be 5% more expensive in 2011.
November 1, 2010 7:54:21 PM

Possibly look at an Athlon II X4 and then look into a Radeon HD6850, save a little cash on the CPU and go for a graphics upgrade. You will need PSU upgrade. Possibly come down in price a little bit on the mobo(it seems a little more than you need) and there is the cash, along with the minor CPU downgrade for the better graphics card!

In summary
Athlon II X4 3.0 ghz
Less expensive motherboard
Go for Radeon HD6850!

Definate PSU upgrade needed (the one you're looking at is fine).
November 1, 2010 8:00:48 PM

No Guy Fawkes Day sales?

For gaming, the first thing you want to upgrade is the GPU. Upgrading your CPU/mobo/RAM isn't going to provide a big boost for most games.

If you could provide a budget, it might be easier to make recommendations. fullcircle_bflo's suggestion is where I'd start, Athlon II X3 or X4, probably an 870 series mobo, 4 GB RAM, a good PSU, and possibly a 6850 or 6870 (or GTX 460/470 if the prices are competitive).
November 2, 2010 6:38:05 PM

Thanks fullcircle and coldsleep. Could you suggest an 870 series mobo? I'm not really sure what the pros and cons of each are.

What I was trying to achieve with my original setup was to get a system which is good value; performance per pound/dollar is more important to me than a strict budget. I want to build a system which will last a long time in its current form, but also be easily upgradable in the future. This was what led me to the expensive motherboard and processor. I'd rather pay more now and get a system that lasts an extra year or two, than pay less now end up building a whole new system earlier. My technical knowledge is obviously not that great, so if you have better suggestions for components I'm happy to hear them!
November 2, 2010 7:46:54 PM

I completely understand the performance per pound, what I think a lot of people don't realize is that while the motherboard holds everything together, paying more for a motherboard rarely results in a direct increase in your day-to-day computing experience. Yes, more expensive motherboards can be better for overclocking, they have more room for expansion, but really, most people don't need 7 or 8 PCI slots. At best, buying a $200 motherboard instead of a $100 motherboard (without any overclocking/tweaking) is going to result in a 1% difference in benchmarks.

Spending more on your graphics card is going to result in a much more noticeable difference to your daily experience. For a gaming machine, your priorities are:
1) GPU (appropriately sized for your monitor)
2) CPU
3) Disk (only affects level/save loading times)
4) everything else - power (as long as it's adequate), mobo, peripherals, case, etc.

That being said, are you sure you can't wait for the next generation of processors to be released? I hate recommending that people wait, but with both Intel & AMD releasing new processors in the next month or two, it seems a shame to build right now.

The most full-featured 870 motherboard I'm aware of is the ASRock 870 Extreme3.

The 890FX series is significantly more expensive for a small increase in expandability. The ASRock board linked above can still CrossFire (at 8x/8x), and has SATA 6 Gb/s and USB 3.0, at half the price (in the USA at least) of the MSI board you initially linked. In all likelihood, you won't need to CrossFire, but even having it as an option at this price is a big bonus.

If ASRock isn't available, you might consider an MSI 890GXM-G65 for about 60% of the price of the 890FX board, or this Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H for about 70% of the price of the original board.
November 2, 2010 9:05:36 PM

I understand what you're saying about the motherboard, I'll certainly take your advice and go for the ASRock 870 Extreme3.

The deeper I get into this the more questions I have - I'm now wondering about RAM. If you look at this link: http://www.crucial.com/uk/store/listparts.aspx?model=87... you'll see there is a whole load of 4GB RAM kits ranging from ~£50 to ~£125. I'm wondering what the performance difference is between all these different options, and how worthwhile more expensive options would be (again, bearing in mind performance per pound and longevity).

From the information on this site it seems 2x2GB is preferable to one 4GB module. Also, it seems that a 32-bit OS doesn't get the same performance out of your RAM as a 64-bit OS would (I'm currently running Vista 32-bit). Any thoughts on these two points?

I'm also now looking at the choice of case. I basically want the same as everyone else - good cooling and enough room. I don't really know how to judge these factors from looking at the specs of different cases.

I really appreciate the advice I'm getting from you guys, if you could continue to help me I'll promise to send you my deepest thanks (or some similarly intangible reward) when this is all done and dusted :-D
November 2, 2010 9:15:51 PM

I forgot to mention your point about waiting for the new processors to be released - do you say this because the prices of the processors I'm currently looking at may fall when the new ones are released, or because the new releases may be in my price range and a better buy?
November 2, 2010 9:23:02 PM

In general, the sweet spot for RAM is considered to be CAS 7 1600 MHz. In the US, that had been going for around $100, but seems to have dropped recently. Unless you're going to be seriously overclocking, I wouldn't pay for better specs than CAS 7 1600 MHz. If you find CAS 6 RAM or 1800 MHz RAM for about the same price, you could consider it, but it's not worth paying a lot more to get those tighter timings or faster clock speed. At best, you're going to see between 1-5% difference overall (probably less) by spending 50-100% more on the RAM.

2x2GB with a 64-bit OS is preferred these days. A 32-bit OS can't access all of the 4 GB, and there are very very few problems with compatibility these days (unlike when Vista was released).

The most recommended case around here is the HAF 922. I think it's ugly as sin, however. Don't pay more than $100 (about 65 pounds?) on a case unless you really love it.
November 2, 2010 9:27:19 PM

Mandolista said:
I forgot to mention your point about waiting for the new processors to be released - do you say this because the prices of the processors I'm currently looking at may fall when the new ones are released, or because the new releases may be in my price range and a better buy?


Either/both. I haven't read much info about the pricing on the new processors, but based on past experience, the current generation should be reduced in price a little, and there is likely to be something in the same price range in the new processor line. Both CPU and GPU companies follow a fairly predictable pattern of how they market their products.

If the releases were 4-6 months away, there would be no reason to wait. With it being 1-2 months or so...it's something I'd consider waiting for, unless your current computer won't boot or exploded or something. Again, I generally do not recommend waiting, but if you can afford to, you're likely to see either a benefit with reduced prices (on the current chips) or better performance (from the new chips).
November 2, 2010 10:57:59 PM

I'll definitely consider waiting - is there any info out about possible release dates, specs or prices?

Thanks for your RAM comments, I'll see what prices I can get for CAS 7 1600Mz.
November 3, 2010 10:38:07 AM

One more thing regarding the case - I agree with you that the HAF 922 is ugly as sin, and also I don't seem to be able to find a good price for it. Are there any other good options you're aware of?
November 3, 2010 2:53:06 PM

Both Intel & AMD's new chips are supposed to be out by Q1 2011, last I checked. Intel's Intel's Sandy Bridge is supposed to be out first, possibly even in December this year. Unsure of the most recent estimate on AMD's Bulldozer.

The Antec 300, 300 Illusion, 900 and 902 are supposed to be quite good. If you're looking for something more minimalist, Lian Li has well-regarded cases, but they're usually more expensive.
November 4, 2010 6:09:00 PM

Thanks very much for all your help - I decided not to wait. If you're interested this is what I ended up going for:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 922
PSU: Corsair 650w
Mobo: ASRock 870 Extreme3
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 3.2GHz
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB
RAM: Corsair DDR3 1600MHz 4Gb kit of 2x240 pin DIMM
HDD: My current drives
OS: Windows 7 64bit

This ends up a bit pricier than what I originally planned, but i'm going to try and sell my old RAM and graphics card to make up some of the difference.

Thanks again!
!