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$1100 Sandy Bridge Gaming PC

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December 20, 2010 5:07:46 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Acquiring parts between now and early January

Budget: <$1100 after rebates.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Games, programming, general snappy computing.

Parts Not Required: Monitor, speakers, OS.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Microcenter (within driving distance)

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: AMD graphics.

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe as an upgrade down the line. I would prefer to start with a single GPU setup.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: My monitor does not support HDCP, so I won't be needing a Blu-Ray player. I have an eSATA backup drive, so I definitely want a motherboard that supports that.

I'm looking to build a solid, reasonably well balanced system that can game well at 1920x1200 and be very responsive in general. If it turns out Intel left a lot of headroom on the lower spec i5s, I'll go with one of those instead of the K. I've already bought the case, PSU and H50.

I'd like to put the H50 in a push-pull configuration, but I really don't know where to start for an extra fan for it.

Currently looking at something like this:

CPU: i5 2500K ~$225

Motherboard: Gigabyte P67-UD4 ~$160

RAM: Crucial 2x2GB DDR3-1333 CAS 9 CT2KIT25664BA1339 $52

GPU: XFX Radeon 6950 $300

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $60

SSD: Microcenter's store SSD (rebranded A-Data 64 GB Sandforce drive) $100

Optical: Samsung S223F $18

Case: Antec 300 Illusion $65->$45 after rebate

Cooling: Corsair H50 $72->$57 after rebate

PSU: Antec True Power New TP-550 $81->$61 after rebate

Total ~$1133, ~$1078 after rebates.
December 20, 2010 4:56:31 PM

A single 6950 is a nice card, but, might be pushing it for 1080P in some games unless AA/AF is kept low, or off...a pair of 6950s in CF however, are quite formidable for the medium high price...

(Compare the cost/performance of single 6950 to framerates cranked out by pair of $160 each GTX460s...; I do not know for sure that the SandyBridge mainboards will support Crossfire or SLI for certain)
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December 22, 2010 7:46:25 AM

Thanks for the feedback.

The UD4 supports both Crossfire and SLI in the same x8/x8 setup that P55 offers. The only thing that might turn me off from that motherboard is if it doesn't offer UEFI support, a useful bit of future-proofing. If they have it, they aren't flaunting it (at least not on the Gigabyte website).

I just don't want the hassle involved in dual-GPU setups right now. I could cram a pair of 460s onto that PSU for some truly ludicrous framerates, but I'd prefer to go with a single, powerful card, at least for now. If I feel the need for more oomph a year or so down the line once I'm out of college and have time to figure out the kinks, I'll pick up another 6950 cheap secondhand and a beefier PSU and laugh at every game that comes out for the next 2 years.

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December 22, 2010 8:09:54 AM

^ Nice setup,...

But why not go with a more powerful PSU right now ??
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also why a H50? You should know that big air would perform better than small water,...
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December 22, 2010 5:23:17 PM

I'll see if I can return the TruePower and swap up to that EarthWatts. I went with the TruePower over a 650W Corsair for modular cables, but I see that's got them as well, and it'll power 6950 Crossfire with headroom. It's Newegg, they should be pretty good about switching them.

The H50 was on a nice sale, but the main reason I got it was transportability. I'll be moving this from house to apartment and probably back (possibly a few times) and don't want to crack the motherboard if I take a bump the wrong way. I figure I can just leave the H50 attached without problems, since the water block is fairly light compared to big air and sits flush on the motherboard. It wouldn't matter as much with a high-end case where I can take out the cooler without removing the motherboard, but IIRC the 300 doesn't have the nice backplate hole. If I didn't have to move this thing, I'd be a lot more keen to hang 2 pounds of aluminum off the motherboard.

I haven't moved anything with large tower heatsinks before (except the Dell that this will replace, and it literally braced the heatsink), so if I'm completely off base here, tell me.
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December 23, 2010 2:42:25 AM

^ No, you are pretty much right about the cooler, the H50 is a good one for a closed loop water cooling, so no issues,...
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December 23, 2010 4:41:15 AM

Turns out shipping the TruePower back and the restocking fee would be something like $23, which completely eats the rebate on the EarthWatts. I'll keep the TruePower for now. I'll find a use for it if I need to replace it later (it'd be perfect for file server duty, loads of SATA connectors on that).

Keeping the PSU kills 460 SLI. It only has 2 PCIe power connectors, 460s take two 6 pins each. While I could probably use Molex adaptors, I think I'll just take the simpler route and snag a 6950. The shoddy wiring in my apartment will thank me.

I think I'm going with the build pretty much as is (maybe bump the RAM to some 1600 or some CAS 7 1333). Thanks for the advice and aid, even if I was a bit too impetuous on the PSU purchase to use it.
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December 23, 2010 4:46:53 AM

^ The expense is pretty high, so its fine you stick with that 550W...
RAM is very good for overclocking, And Yes the HD 6950 would be better for a single card config,...
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December 23, 2010 6:09:15 AM

Best answer selected by dertechie.
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