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Photo / Full HD editing rig, $1,500 new build, feedback appreciated!

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November 10, 2010 1:18:23 AM

Hi, everyone. I've been lurking for years, but just signed up to get some advice on my upcoming PC build, so I'm a newb here. Please forgive me if I break etiquette, or have missed any info -- just let me know, and I'll fix it. :) 

I'm looking to replace an aging Core Duo notebook with a decent desktop, as follows:

-----------------------------------------

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next fortnight.

Budget Range: Up to ~$1,500, hopefully including Tennessee sales tax / shipping if applicable. I am eligible for student discounts if available, and have a current .edu email address.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3, Adobe Photoshop CS5, Adobe Premiere Pro CS5 for Full HD video editing, various gaming on Steam (mostly racing games and first-person shooters), Dreamweaver CS5, web browsing with Google Chrome, also occasionally use other apps in CS5 Master Collection, and Office 2007 for email and light spreadsheet / word processing.

I'll interject here to be more specific. I'm mostly a stills photographer shooting ~15 megapixels, but that's mostly because my past hardware hasn't been up to video editing. Hence I want something that won't be limiting for editing extremely large Full HD video in a variety of formats. My current camera is a Pentax K-7 which isn't quite Full HD -- it's 30fps 1,536 x 1,024 Motion JPEG, but I'm intending to upgrade to a Pentax K-5 with 25fps 1,920 x 1,080 Motion JPEG. I also occasionally shoot Full HD with other cameras I'm loaned by work, so need to be able to handle MPEG-4 / AVCHD and AVCHD Lite at up to 30p / 60i.

Parts Not Required: Monitor (I have a wide gamut Dell U2410), keyboard, mouse, speakers unless they're dirt cheap but reasonable (I have some aged Harmon Kardons that sound fair). Also don't need software, except for OS -- which I'd like Windows 7 Professional. I can get that fairly cheaply with student discount from Microsoft, I believe?

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Wherever's cheapest, so long as they're somewhere reputable. Don't want to be stuck on backorder for months, or get stuck with restocking fees if items are DOA, etc. Remember that if the retailer charge Tennessee sales tax, it'll cost me more. (Love NewEgg, for example, but I have to pay sales tax there so seldom shop with them any more.)

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: I understand I need to go with Nvidia for Mercury Playback Engine support in Premiere Pro CS5. It's also my understanding that Intel is better than AMD in Adobe's apps, even when AMD's hex-core chips are the same price as Intel's quad-cores. So probably Intel / Nvidia, but correct me if my understanding's wrong! :)  I'd also like to be able to upgrade to a hex-core CPU from Intel in the future, if the prices become more reasonable.

Overclocking: Maybe slight overclocking, but system stability is more important to me than outright speed.

SLI or Crossfire: Not for now, as it's my understanding that Adobe doesn't take advantage of it, and I'm not a hardcore gamer. It'd be good to be able to do it in the future if I change my mind, though.

Monitor Resolution: 1,920 x 1,200.

Additional Comments: Could care less what it looks like, but I don't have a huge amount of space in my desk, so prefer a mid tower to a full tower. I have a toddler who likes to push buttons, so leaving a larger machine next to my desk isn't an option. ;-) I would like a couple of front-accessible USB inputs and mic / headphone jacks though, and if there's a space to set small items on top of the PC that'd be useful. Ditto if the front USB ports can supply power while the PC's shut down, that's a bonus.

Also note, there's a possibility I'll be moving overseas within a couple of years, and it'd be good if the system could move with me. That means smaller / lighter is a good thing, so long as I'm not sacrificing cooling. AFAIK power supplies are generally 110-240V 50-60Hz so I don't think there'd be any issues there, but correct me if I'm wrong. (The monitor would likely be sold before I moved, and replaced at the other end.)

-----------------------------------------

So -- that's my needs out of the way. I've come up with a build based on reading these forums, as well as the advice in the Adobe forums. My understanding from the Adobe forums in particular is that Adobe will take all the RAM I can throw at it, and it's a good spend because it'll minimize swap, so I've favored spending money on RAM, processor, a fast hard disk for OS, and a slower / larger one for storage, but skipped an SSD for now. I figure when they're a bit more affordable I can move OS to an SSD, and use the fast hard disk as a swap drive for Photoshop, instead.

Here's what I've come up with. Prices are from NewEgg right now, just because their site's quicker to browse and compare. I'm thinking I'll likely be able to manage similar prices elsewhere, so this build is reasonably close to my target price:

-----------------------------------------

ASUS P6X58D-E LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard -- $239.99

Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950 -- $294.99

Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme Universal CPU Cooler 120mm Magnetic Fluid Dynamic LED Fan and Fan Controller/Heatsink Rev.1 with TX-3 & 1156 Brackets -- $62.99

MASSCOOL G751 Shin-Etsu Thermal Interface Material -- $4.99

EVGA 012-P3-1472-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) SuperClocked 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card -- $242.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9T-12GBRL -- $269.99

Western Digital VelociRaptor WD1500HLFS 150GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive -- $129.99

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive -- $89.99

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support -- $25.99

COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN2 CM690 II Advanced Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case -- $79.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply -- $109.99

Grand Total -- $1551.89

-----------------------------------------

And that's it... As you can see, I'm still a little over budget, but at least pretty close. Suggestions gladly accepted for whether anything won't fit together in this build (the CPU coolers in particular seem difficult to judge without seeing the PC in person, I chose the Tuniq over a Scythe Mugen 2 Rev B. on the basis that it seemed a bit higher from the board, and less likely to block DIMMs, etc. Also, any suggestions for anywhere you think I'm wasting money, and where the money could be better spent, for my intended usage. And if you have any suggestions on where would be good to buy stuff, that'd be a great help, too!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read all this. :) 

---
Mike / gweilo8888
November 10, 2010 1:59:21 AM

CPU Cooler is way overkill if your not going to OC.
get the Cooler Master Hyper 212 + $30.

PSU is also overkill if not going to SLI. 650W should be enough.

Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB is cheaper and faster than the WD. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185 $75.
You probably just got fooled by the "SATA 6gb/s" being advertised by WD.
sure it can run on SATA 6, the only problem is that write/read speeds don't even max out SATA 3GB/s so its an advertising scheme.
November 10, 2010 2:22:32 AM

Thanks for the reply! I really didn't know what might be necessary with the CPU cooler, had read that the Nvidia GTX 470 puts out a lot of heat, and so thought better safe than sorry since I'm aiming for a smaller case than many folks are using.

With the $30 saved on the cooler, I'm wondering if maybe I should upgrade to a 2TB drive instead of the suggested Samsung 1TB model? My Pentax K-7 burns through storage like there's no tomorrow -- 350MB a minute at the highest quality, and when I upgrade to the K-5 it'll be even higher.

How's this drive look instead?

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD204UI 2TB 5400 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive -- $109.99

Does the rest of the build look OK to you?

Thanks again!

(Just saw your sig, btw, and got a chuckle out of it. Sorry if I tipped you over to the 51st time of the day recommending the Samsung... ;-) )
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November 10, 2010 2:53:11 AM
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Good build...
Some suggestions -
1. Mobo - Check this one...though might be not as overclocking friendly as the -E, but is better in terms of features and warranty...
ASUS Sabertooth X58
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2. RAM - I doubt if you wont overclock, you would notice any difference between this RAM and the one you have chosen
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

3. Why the Velociraptor ?? IMO not worth it, instead you can opt for a SSD for boot and apps...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mabye a smaller SSD as a scratch disk(would significantly help)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And as for the 2TB, it would good as a storage drive...

4. PSU - Like vindictive said, you wont need a 750W PSU if you wont be going SLI...
This is a very good PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 10, 2010 3:34:36 AM

gkay09 said:
Good build...
Some suggestions -
1. Mobo - Check this one...though might be not as overclocking friendly as the -E, but is better in terms of features and warranty...
ASUS Sabertooth X58
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Thanks! I took a look at some reviews, and the Sabertooth looks like a very good choice. I've swapped that into my plan, instead. Great $40 saving! :) 

gkay09 said:
2. RAM - I doubt if you wont overclock, you would notice any difference between this RAM and the one you have chosen
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Good point, I'd meant to check on that, and forgot. I think I read somewhere in Asus' forum (or maybe it was Gigabyte's, I considered one of their boards too, but a friend told me he had issues with it) that 1600 DIMMs weren't officially supported for 3 x 4GB on that board. So yeah, no point spending the extra. That's another $75 saved, or will be if I can find that RAM in stock. ;-)

gkay09 said:
3. Why the Velociraptor ?? IMO not worth it, instead you can opt for a SSD for boot and apps...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I did look at SSDs, but couldn't find anything I was happy with. 60GB seems small, remembering I've got to fit Win 7 Pro, CS5 Master Collection, Microsoft Office 2007, and some Steam games on there. Looking at my current setup on my notebook, I've got two OS partitions as I'm dual-boot XP (with CS5 and Office) at 70GB used, and Vista Ultimate (with Steam and I think Office there too) at 84GB used. There's a little of my own data on each partition too, but not much -- most of that's on another partition. So I'm thinking with Win 7 rather than dual boot, probably still somewhere around 100GB+ used just to get OS, apps and games on there.

I'd been considering this SSD, which I liked for the capacity and read speed, but couldn't stretch the budget to it:

Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC128MAG-1G1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) -- $269.99

Was thinking to get the Velociraptor in the meantime as a "large enough, fairly fast" OS / apps drive, and then switch it out for the Crucial SSD when I can afford it a few months down the road.

I'm completely inexperienced with SSDs, though. How much of a speed difference would there be between the Velociraptor and a cheap SSD? And what's the least I could expect to pay for around 120GB in a worthwhile SSD?

gkay09 said:

Mabye a smaller SSD as a scratch disk(would significantly help)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Good idea, I could add that in with the savings on the RAM.

gkay09 said:
4. PSU - Like vindictive said, you wont need a 750W PSU if you wont be going SLI...
This is a very good PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Great, thanks. I'm not exactly sure how I calculate the power requirements, ran NewEgg's estimator with something along the lines of my system, and it suggested a 650W PSU, so I stepped it up to a 750W to give myself a margin of error.

How much would adding a few more drives / several USB devices drawing power add to the power drain? I'd like to be sure I have enough in reserve that I won't need to upgrade the PSU if I add 2 or 3 drives in the next year or two.
November 10, 2010 4:08:44 AM

^ Current gen HDDs like the WD Black, Samsung F3s and the Seagate 7200.12 drives have performance which is comparable to that 150GB raptors,...
Also as for the SSD, check this one -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU - The main parts that pull more power are the CPU and the GPUs...
So if not going to add multiple cards, then a 600W could handle you setup with additional devices without any issues...

GPU - If you are not a hardcore gamer, why not the GTX 460 ? IMO it is a very good card and can handle most of the games @ that resolution at Medium-High settings...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 10, 2010 4:40:01 AM

gkay09 said:
^ Current gen HDDs like the WD Black, Samsung F3s and the Seagate 7200.12 drives have performance which is comparable to that 150GB raptors,...
Also as for the SSD, check this one -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Looks like a good option to consider -- obviously only manufacturer specs, but much faster sequential write at the expense of some sequential read. That's only $10 more than the Velociraptor plus 30GB SSD. If it were up to you, would you opt for OS and apps on a fast HDD, then a small SSD for swap, or put OS / apps / swap all on a larger SSD of similar cost?

So there's no performance advantage for a 10k rpm drive over a 7,200 rpm drive with current tech? I didn't realize that -- thought faster rpm automatically meant faster transfer speed / lower latency. What would you consider to be the best value for an HDD where speed is the main factor, and capacity only needs to be ~120GB?

gkay09 said:
PSU - The main parts that pull more power are the CPU and the GPUs...
So if not going to add multiple cards, then a 600W could handle you setup with additional devices without any issues...


Great, ta. So I'd only need to upgrade PSU if I decide to add another GPU, which I'm unlikely to want to do until Adobe takes advantage of SLI in their apps.

gkay09 said:
GPU - If you are not a hardcore gamer, why not the GTX 460 ? IMO it is a very good card and can handle most of the games @ that resolution at Medium-High settings...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Mercury Playback Engine support in Adobe Premiere Pro CS5:

http://www.adobe.com/products/premiere/performance/

The GTX 470 is on the supported list; the GTX 460 isn't. Yes, I know you can add the GTX 460 manually by editing cuda_supported_cards.txt, but there's nothing to say that Adobe won't decide to close that door, particularly if Nvidia asks them to do so. I'd rather not risk it, when the difference between the Superclocked GTX 460 and GTX 470 is only $50...
November 10, 2010 5:09:39 AM

HDD/ SSD -
Having the OS and apps on the SSD would offer significant reduction app load and boot times, so they would be snappier...
But take a look at this drive -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for the higher rpm drives, they do offer better performance than the standard drives, but mainly where there is high i/o such as database work,...

Mercury playback support - I still dont understand why they do that,...
But anyways like you said, sticking to the GTX 470 is fine and why pay extra for the overclocked one(that too its not overclocked significantly, you can easily overclock that card by your own)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-470-480-revie...
Just stick to normal overclock,...
November 10, 2010 5:31:53 AM

gkay09 said:
HDD/ SSD -
Having the OS and apps on the SSD would offer significant reduction app load and boot times, so they would be snappier...
But take a look at this drive -
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for the higher rpm drives, they do offer better performance than the standard drives, but mainly where there is high i/o such as database work,...


OK, great. I've dropped the 30GB SSD and Velociraptor from the spec, and added the 120GB OCZ SSD from your last post in their place.

gkay09 said:
Mercury playback support - I still dont understand why they do that,...
But anyways like you said, sticking to the GTX 470 is fine and why pay extra for the overclocked one(that too its not overclocked significantly, you can easily overclock that card by your own)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.guru3d.com/article/geforce-gtx-470-480-revie...
Just stick to normal overclock,...


Yeah, I'm not entirely sure myself. Could by they're limiting the list of cards to those they've tested and are happy with, to those they feel like supporting, or it could be that Nvidia's offered them implementation help in exchange for restricting the list mostly to their expensive cards. If the former, the loophole will probably stay, but there'll be no support or guarantees you won't hit issues. If the latter, Nvidia might ask them to close the loophole.

Re: the extra for the overclocked card, it was only $10 difference -- and for that, I figured it was worthwhile just on the basis that if I had any issues with it, they couldn't say "Well that's because you're overclocking", if they sold it that way. ;-) Tiny bit more speed, for an equally tiny bit more cash.

Yeah, it's probably lazy of me, but $10 against the $1,511.64 we're currently at on NewEgg ain't too much to sweat over.

So, to update the list, here's where we're at:

-----------------------------------------

ASUS Sabertooth X58 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard -- $199.99

Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950 -- $294.99

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler -- $30.74

MASSCOOL G751 Shin-Etsu Thermal Interface Material -- $4.99

EVGA 012-P3-1472-AR GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) SuperClocked 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card -- $242.99

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9T-12GBRL -- $194.99

OCZ Agility 2 OCZSSD2-2AGTE120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) -- $229.99

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD204UI 2TB 5400 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive -- $109.99

LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support -- $25.99

COOLER MASTER RC-692-KKN2 CM690 II Advanced Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case -- $79.99

COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M600 RS-600-AMBA-D3 600W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply -- $69.99

Grand Total -- $1511.64

-----------------------------------------

Not bad -- we've cut the price $50 and hopefully boosted the overall performance a bit in the process. That G.Skill RAM seems only to be available from NewEgg though, and they're out of stock. Any recommended alternatives? How about this one?

Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 998770 -- $194.99

The price is the same, and the specs look the same. Only noticeable difference is smaller heatsink, which could be a good thing in terms of fitting them under a CPU cooler, but I don't know if they'll cool as well. Thoughts?
November 10, 2010 11:46:10 AM

^ That PSU has about 40A on the 12V rail, which would translate to about 480W of power, and out of which the GTX 470 would pull at the max 215W only @Full load,
And it is not always that you could continuously max out the power consumption graphic cards in real time,...
So it still would have enough room for multiple drives(assuming multiple drives doesnt mean more than 4-5 drives)

But if you still are skeptical, then there is a good deal on the Antec EA 650
10% off with promo code Apsu10, ends 11/11
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 10, 2010 2:42:02 PM

gkay09 said:
CPU Cooler - Cheaper here
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-RR-B10-212P-G1-Univ...

RAM - That Mushkin is also fine..., check out this combo with the Gigabyte board...
Even this is a good board...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


Thanks! As I mentioned at the start of the thread, I listed NewEgg prices just because they were convenient for finding and comparing everything in one place. I'll probably have to order somewhere else, because NewEgg charges sales tax in Tennessee, which adds nearly $150 to my total. :/ 

Hopefully I can now find one or two places that have all the same items at similar pricing, but without sales tax for me...

If you had to choose between the Gigabyte and the Asus Sabertooth, which would you go for? I'm brand agnostic on motherboards, because I've not assembled my own rig for a good ten years or more. I'm familiar with both brands, and both seem well reviewed to me, but the Asus seems maybe to have a slight edge in benchmarks?
November 10, 2010 7:07:26 PM

Thanks to gkay09 and vindictive for the help! I went ahead and placed my order, taking all but the RAM and paste from Amazon. The rest came from NewEgg.

I changed to the Mushkin RAM on the basis it'd be less likely to have fit issues, and the pricing being identical to the G.SKILL. Since I'd saved a fair bit elsewhere, I felt it worth not skimping on the PSU, and spent an extra $30 to get a modular 650W unit, the Corsair HX650W, which seemed well reviewed.

All-in, my total was pretty darned close to budget, at $1,555.66 with tax, 5-day shipping, and rebates.

Thanks to you both again for your time and shared knowledge. :) 
November 10, 2010 7:08:04 PM

Best answer selected by gweilo8888.
November 10, 2010 7:18:31 PM

I am very interested in this type of build as well: Glad to see that someone else is looking to build specifically for Adobe apps, especially photo editing. I have nothing against gaming per se, but just don't play them...it's very frustrating that it's difficult to find prebuilts (e.g., Dells) with high quality Nvidia cards.

One point about this post: a lot of the links are dead, such as for the PSU:

gkay09 wrote :

4. PSU - Like vindictive said, you wont need a 750W PSU if you wont be going SLI...
This is a very good PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817171036

Is having a hogher-rated PSU a bad thing? Or is this just a cost issue? I was leaning toward a 750W just to have the headroom.
November 10, 2010 10:38:26 PM

dg27 said:
I am very interested in this type of build as well: Glad to see that someone else is looking to build specifically for Adobe apps, especially photo editing. I have nothing against gaming per se, but just don't play them...it's very frustrating that it's difficult to find prebuilts (e.g., Dells) with high quality Nvidia cards.

One point about this post: a lot of the links are dead, such as for the PSU:

gkay09 wrote :

4. PSU - Like vindictive said, you wont need a 750W PSU if you wont be going SLI...
This is a very good PSU...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817171036

Is having a hogher-rated PSU a bad thing? Or is this just a cost issue? I was leaning toward a 750W just to have the headroom.


Simply a cost thing. You can only have to much when you can't pay the bill when you get it :p 
November 11, 2010 2:11:42 AM

^ Well you can say partly a cost thing, but also efficiency...
A PSU is most efficient at ~50% and ~75% load, but even @~20% some have shown good efficiency, so if the PC that you will be building will pull about say 200W, then you need to get either a 250W PSU(~75% load) or 400W PSU(50% load) or max 1000W PSU(20% load),...
November 11, 2010 3:13:37 AM

gkay09 said:
@gweilo8888 both ASUS and Gigabyte are very good, but ASUS has 5 year warranty, which also would be a deciding factor if you might keep the PC longer than 3 years...
As for the PSU, you cant go wrong with the Corsair unit, nice choice...

Good luck with your build, and these articles would help...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-g...
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-perform-ste...


Great links, thanks! Hopefully I'll be back to drop by in a week or so, once the parts have all shown up, and I've had time to assemble and test them. :)  I'm not completely new at this, but I lack any recent experience, last PC I put together from scratch was 10+ years ago. I'm sure I'll do fine if I take my time, and use my brain, though. ;-)

Incidentally, I went for the Asus, on the basis of the warranty, and maybe a tiny edge in the reviews. :) 
November 22, 2010 2:40:02 AM

As promised, I figured I'd stop back by and report on the build. All went well, and I've been using my new PC for a couple of days now. Took my time, followed the first guide referenced by gkay09 carefully, and only had two issues during the build -- the first being the realization I was short one cable. I'd been intending to leave my speakers connected to my Dell U2410 monitor, allowing me to switch back and forth between my PC and Xbox 360 using the same speakers. I *believe* if I wanted audio over HDMI from the PC, though, I needed an internal SPDIF cable to connect the motherboard to the graphics card.

That said, it simply hadn't occurred to me that my monitor only has two inputs that are audio capable -- one HDMI, and one DisplayPort -- and neither the Xbox nor the graphics card I chose offer DisplayPort. Much digging confirmed that while there are DisplayPort to HDMI adapters, there's no such thing as an affordable HDMI to DisplayPort adapter. (The reason being that DisplayPort automatically falls back to HDMI when an adapter is detected, so that direction is just a dumb cable -- but in the other direction you need some electronics to convert HDMI to DisplayPort. Worse still, the existing expensive adapters seem not to allow conversion of a signal above 720p resolution, or at least I couldn't find any that would do higher.)

No biggie, though. I just changed my plan to now use HDMI for the Xbox, and DVI for the PC. Hence no need for the internal SPDIF cable, or for an expensive DisplayPort adapter. Instead I put the money into some nice new speakers instead, a purchase I'd almost been looking to justify, since my existing speakers were well over ten years old and the (fixed in place) cable partly chewed up by a pet cat some years ago. No room for a subwoofer or to run cables around me, and I have nice Sennheiser cans anyway for gaming etc., so I went for a 2.0 setup. Chose a well reviewed Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II system, which should be here in a few days, and has dual inputs -- allowing me to connect the PC directly, and the Xbox via my Dell monitor's output to the aux input on the speakers.

Only other slight issue I've not yet figured out is that my USB keyboard won't work if I plug it into the USB ports nearest to the PS/2 jack, which seems odd. It works in the other ports, and I'll get around to testing the ports it won't work in with another device shortly to be sure they're good.

Beyond that, really no issues at all. Cabling the PC was a little challenging and it's not the prettiest affair beneath the motherboard, but looks very tidy indeed from in front. Stability seems good after a couple of days use, and MAN does this thing shift. The SSD was a very good choice to add to my build, and I highly appreciate that advice.

I'm chuffed to bits with this new rig, and looking forward to trying Premiere Pro (not yet used it except to confirm it recognized the video card for hardware Mercury Playback). It's taking me a while to transfer my life from the laptop to the new PC, then I can get down to some video editing. ;-)

Thanks again to all for the help!
November 22, 2010 3:29:05 AM

^ Nice speakers...And glad that your build turned out well... Have fun :) 
!