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Advice/Critique on New Under-$2k Build

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Last response: in Systems
November 23, 2010 9:19:03 PM

Hello Everyone,

Considering a new home build, looking for advice or critique as this is my first gaming pc build. Goal was to stay under $2k with sweet-spot components. Any/all suggestions are much appreciated!

Intel Core i7-950
Dual AMD Radeon HD 6870 (Crossfire)
CoolerMaster HAF X
Antec TPQ 1000 PSU
WD 640GB Caviar Black SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 64MB Cache
WD 1TB Caviar Black SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 64MB Cache
Patriot Viper Xtreme 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) 7-9-7-21


More about : advice critique build

November 23, 2010 9:55:14 PM

I'm planning a similar build so any suggestions people have will influence my design as well. I was undecided on a case until I checked out the CoolerMaster HAF X and I love it. What type of monitor do you have?
November 23, 2010 10:15:19 PM

Awesome - are there any components you've chosen that are different but similar in price to the ones on my list? If so, why'd did you choose them?

I currently have a dual monitor setup with two 22" ViewSonic VX2262wm monitors. They are a bit outdated considering their resolution is 1680x1050, but for now I will keep them.
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November 24, 2010 5:39:58 PM

Thanks for the suggestions! I know that the power supply is overkill, but I am anticipating adding some hard drives and/or optical drives in the future, so I thought I'd get the larger PSU just in case.

As for the SATA 6.0Gb/s drive, you make a really good point...but with 2 such ports on my motherboard, is there any reason not to take advantage of it?
November 24, 2010 5:42:02 PM

Other than throwing away money for the more expensive HD that won't take advantage of it? No.
November 24, 2010 6:20:14 PM

you have a 1366 motherboard (core i7 900s)
you need triple channel memory

you dont need 8gb anyway

6 should be fine

i would recommend this one:
CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMP6GX3M3A1600C7
November 24, 2010 6:28:38 PM

whats funny is Toms did a review yesterday and are now suggestiong 8GB for a minimum :o .
although they did say for lga 1366 triple channel 6 should suffice.
November 24, 2010 6:48:01 PM

Gryphon_, looking at the kit you suggested, I'm saving $25 to go from 8GB (2x4GB) to 6GB (3x2GB)...isn't it worth it to have the extra RAM? Or is the issue more that I want to have triple-channel? The only other way to get to 8GB of total RAM would be 4x2GB - is that a good option?

I apologize for my ignorance here, I'm definitely looking to understand better as I'm not a pro.
November 24, 2010 9:25:43 PM

I'll try to clear this up..
Lga 1336 operates in triple channel mode meaning it needs to go up in sets (sticks) of 3.
3x2GB= 6gb
3x4GB= 12GB
3x8GB= 24GB


all of those use 3(or 6 a multiple of 3) sticks of RAM.

Get 6GB as 12GB is way more then you will need.
November 24, 2010 10:44:24 PM

Got it - thanks vindictive! Although I realize it's a bit overkill, I just found a great deal on Corsair 12GB (6x2GB) DDR3 1600 CAS 9 for $199.99 - aside from it being a lot of RAM, any issues with this choice?
November 25, 2010 12:26:05 AM

nope thats fine. question: are you planning on doing an OC on your cpu?
November 25, 2010 5:21:20 AM

I wanted it to be an option, although I've never OCed my comp before - I heard the adjustments are easier to perform with the motherboard I chose (ASUS P6X58D-E), which is another reason I opted for it.

This will be my 24/7 machine used for work (data analysis) as well as gaming.
November 25, 2010 12:57:47 PM

Okay then your choice is good.
I was going to say, if you weren't going to OC you could drop to DDR3 1333 to save some $
November 25, 2010 3:46:00 PM

That was actually going to be my plan as well, but it seems like that's a great deal for 12GB of Corsair DDR3 1600 - you agree?
November 25, 2010 3:49:06 PM

thats a great deal, considering the 8GB ddr3 1333 Cas 9 I'm planning on getting cost $105.
November 25, 2010 5:13:40 PM

What Vindicative said,
Get a more reasonable PSU and the Samsung drive.
November 26, 2010 3:15:42 AM

What are your thoughts on the Corsair 850HX PSU?

Would this work well in my system? I apologize if this is a dumb noob question, but is it a big deal if a PSU is not Crossfire Certified or Crossfire Ready? Do those actually have any real meaning?
November 26, 2010 1:12:19 PM

750 will be more than enough.
650 is actually enough but a little room is good.
and no not really, that just means it has more than 1 pci-e cable. which most of them do.
you just gotta find out what plugs the 6870 need then make sure your PSU has 2 of each of them to CF
November 27, 2010 12:22:47 AM

Thanks again vindictive...I didn't think it meant much to be "Crossfire-ready" either, but just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something.

What are your thoughts on SSDs? I know they're pricey, but from a performance perspective, are they that much of an upgrade over regular hard drives?
November 27, 2010 3:18:39 PM

If you can afford it a ssd will greatly improve your boot times and game loading
November 30, 2010 12:52:56 AM

Is it ok to have an SSD for a computer that will be on 24/7? I pretty much leave my computer running moreso than not - is that a problem for SSDs?
November 30, 2010 1:11:52 AM

lilbat23 said:
Is it ok to have an SSD for a computer that will be on 24/7? I pretty much leave my computer running moreso than not - is that a problem for SSDs?

November 30, 2010 1:15:05 AM

^whatever you do don't buy 100GB for some weird reason they cost like $20 more than a 120GB.
sweet spots are 120GB and 90GB price wise.
November 30, 2010 2:01:29 AM

@joelmartinez - no it's not ok, or no it's not a problem?

I have my eye on the OCZ Vertex 2 120GB...seems like one of the better ones based on the reviews.
November 30, 2010 2:04:33 AM

yup yup. good there.
OCZ Vertex > OCZ Agility 2 > G.Skill Pheonix (sp?) > Basically any new SF controller SSDs
November 30, 2010 2:11:15 AM

Awesome, thanks again vindictive! Do you have any thoughts about leaving an SSD on 24/7? I probably reboot once every week or two.
November 30, 2010 2:19:01 AM

Nah, don't got one yet so not sure, I know the deteriorate with more use apparently?
November 30, 2010 2:30:47 AM

It's fine to leave it on 24/7. SSDs have a limited number of writes, but leaving a system on doesn't necessarily mean data is being written to disk.

And when "limited" ~ 10,000 , rough math suggests that limit will outlast your current computer.

Just make sure to read up on how to tune your SSD (and/or download the SSD Tweak utility), and leave about 20% free so it has room to shuffle 1s and 0s around properly.
November 30, 2010 6:00:12 AM

Good info, thanks coldsleep! I checked my data usage on my current desktop, and my programs take up about 20GB of space. Add in the 20GB or so that is needed for Windows 7, and I still have plenty of room for additional programs.
November 30, 2010 6:07:19 AM

OK - I think I'm ready to purchase everything! Final roundup:

Intel Core i7-950
Dual AMD Radeon HD 6870 (Crossfire)
CoolerMaster HAF X
Corsair CMPSU-850HX
OCZ Vertex 2 120GB SSD
WD 1TB Caviar Black SATA 6Gb/s 7200rpm 64MB Cache
CORSAIR XMS3 12GB 6x2GB DDR3 1600 (HX3X12G1600C9)
Lite-On LightScribe 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive IHAS424-98

So aside from my possibly going overboard with RAM and having my data drive be SATA 6.0, any final egregious mistakes or changes needed here? (FYI - total is just under budget at $1,985)
November 30, 2010 1:44:46 PM

Stupid 6.0 HD :p .
thats all I'm saying.
November 30, 2010 2:09:11 PM

What vindictive is trying to say is that mechanical hard drives don't saturate SATA 3 Gb/s, much less 6 Gb/s. You could switch the WD hard drive to a Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB or Seagate 7200.12 1 TB and save $20-30 without losing any performance.

Looks good overall.
November 30, 2010 2:15:46 PM

we discussed it above is why I didn't restate it lol.
Get the samsung Spinpoint f3 1tb instead of the 1TB you have selected [...] 822152185.
The "sata 6.0" crap is useless on a mechanical drive because SSD's are just starting to go over the 300mb/s limit and buying that sata III HD is wasting some $
November 30, 2010 4:19:35 PM

OK OK OK - I'll look into SATA 3.0 hard drives (mech). What about the cache? That F3 you suggested has only 32MB of cache, vs the 64MB offered in other drives.
November 30, 2010 4:25:57 PM

Cache size doesn't really matter. The difference between 2 MB and 64 MB might make a difference, but 32 MB vs 64 MB doesn't seem to affect performance.

If you want to buy the WD, go ahead, it's your money. :) 
November 30, 2010 4:58:27 PM

IMO they'd probably perform about equally. The only difference is that WD one costs more. Which is a unnecessary expense.
What I did and is the best thing to do, look at the Spinpoint f3 1tb and the Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1tb and buy the cheaper one.
I bought a HD on BF and te 7200.12 was $50 and the f3 was $70, I got the 7200.12.
November 30, 2010 5:12:14 PM

Well I tried to post the comparison of the WD, 7200.12, and F3 but even using the own websites "generate bbc link (forum)" gave me a link that wouldn't work on their own forums. Way to fail THW.
November 30, 2010 5:16:22 PM

Haha no problem, I checked out the graphs and narrowed it down to (what I think) you meant to show me - thank you! OK, you convinced me, F3 it is!
December 1, 2010 4:22:48 PM

OK - I purchased everything this morning! Thank you to all the contributors, I appreciate all the help and advice!