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Would appreciate 2nd opinion on ~$1500 rendering/gaming rig

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May 10, 2011 2:03:05 PM

Purchase Date: By the end of this month

My budget is ~$1500 before tax/shipping. I've always built/upgraded my computers for mid/upper lvl gaming, but now I'm in unfamiliar territory. I'm going to start school in game design this fall & currently a modder for Fallout3 & Fallout New Vegas. I run the current games I mod pretty well, but using developer's resource programs (ex. G.E.C.K & nifskope - gamebyro engine) photoshop, gmax - my system slows down to a crawl. I currently work with 2048 x 2048 .dds files in photoshop (4096x4096 forget about it) & in nifskope, more than 2 high poly .nif files will slow down my computer considerably. Basically, I need to restart my comp very often.

It's time for a new rig as my components are getting pretty old. Current rig main components:

-E8400 oc'd 3700
-4GB 1333mhz ram
-gtx260 core 16
-700watt psu
-COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 (non plus ver. came w/ 2 fans)
-2x 250gb sata 1 Drives I believe in Raid
-Vista Home x64
-Antec P160 Case (should I still use this case? It's a couple years old & looking/reviewing today's cases, ventilation seems a lot better)


Proposed system after micro analyzing/reading reviews/forums on components.

Preferred Website: Newegg/Tiger Direct
Country of Origin: US

Rosewell RX850-S-B
Intel i7-2600K Sandy Bridge
MSI N580GTX Lightning
ASROCK P67 EXTREME4
G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB 1866mhz
WD Caviar Black 1TB WD1001FALS
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212+
ASUS Black 24x
Cooler Master HAF 932
Windows 7 Home x64 OEM

Subtotal comes out to $1620.

Overclocking: No plans to right off the bat or very minor at the most.

SLI: No plans right now, but put together the list for potentially doing so in the future.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200for apps 1920x1080 for games (windowed mode)

Again, I'm trying to build a setup more for the rendering softwares (Maya/3Dmax Soon) I will be using & photoshop, so I'm not sure if I skimped out somewhere. I know this rig will be sufficient for my gaming needs. Next game that I will purchase that has modders resource = Skyrim coming out later this fall.

Any insight would be helpful! Thx!

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May 10, 2011 2:20:15 PM
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sounds like a good system
Obviously an amazing CPU, i don't know for rendering... but for gaming, there is almost no difference between the i5 and the i7 sandybridge chips.

The card is def. the fastest single GPU card out there.
If your software uses CUDA, then its a good choice, if not, then i'd maybe look @ getting 2 Radeon HD 6870 cards in CrossFire. It'll be a little cheaper, and similar performance.

8gb of RAM seems like it should be enough. I've used 8 for AutoCAD, and never had an issue.

You'll love the motherboard, its great, there are some heatpipe things over the northbridge that can make installing a CPU cooler a bit difficult, but not a real problem.
If you overclock, i'd suggest you don't use the auto OC feature. It usually adds more voltage than neccesary to get the job done.

Since your a student, you should go w/ the Win7 Student Upgrade
http://www.microsoft.com/student/en/us/software/windows...
for 29.99
May 10, 2011 2:36:25 PM

Thx for the link about the student upgrade! :)  It's been awhile since the last time I was in college.

I was a little worried about ram, since my current comp quits on me with texture & normal map files in 4096x4096 resolution, but people's opinion seem to say 16gb ram is overkill. Some of my .psd files have over 150 layers before I merge & save under dif name.

If the Antec P160 case is still solid for today's parts, I can save $154 to either get SSD drive, another Caviar drive, or more ram. Is having a SSD drive the be all/end all of all other drives like it's claimed to be for apps or is my money better spend elsewhere with this $1500 budget?

Also, with the money I save from the OS & potential case, I could get x2 6970s in crossfire. I haven't owned an ATI card since the x800xl. Was never a big fan of their driver support. Hrmm, will need to look up some benchmarks with x2 6970s vs gtx580 & if a 850psu is enough to power the x2 6970s.

Thx for the reply!
Related resources
May 10, 2011 2:52:42 PM

That MSI Lightning card is a marketing ploy. The MSI Twin Freezer is the same card, it's just not over clocked as much. MSI has a free proggy called "MSI Afterburner" that's about the best out there atm. Use that to over clock your vid card.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001EPUQAE/ref=ox_sc_a... $154.48 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 - (RC-932-KKN5-GP)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $119.99 - $109.99 after mail-in rebate
XFX Core Edition PRO850W (P1-850S-NLB9) 850W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $449.98 FREE SHIPPING
GIGABYTE GA-P67X-UD3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-Spinpoint-3-5-Inch-Intern... $59.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Samsung Desktop Class Spinpoint F3 1 TB SATA 3.0 Gb-s 32 MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare-OEM Drives, HD103SJ

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $21.99 FREE SHIPPING
LITE-ON Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $499.99 FREE SHIPPING
MSI N580GTX Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

May 10, 2011 2:53:19 PM

with your budget... its hard to tell to be honest. A SSD makes launching apps quicker, i have the Crucial RealSSD C300 128GB and i love it. But you prob. don't need something so large. A-Data makes some good drives that are less expensive w/ a lower capacity... 64 GB.

If your nervous about RAM, you can always get 2 4GB sticks, and see if its enough. The motherboard has 4 RAM slots.

If your don't allot of work on your PC, i always recommend a way to back things up. Either a NAS box (i have a Windows Home Server) or just taking an old large HDD and putting it in a case and backing up all your important data daily.
May 10, 2011 3:05:58 PM

@arges86 - thx for listing some alternate components/combo deals.

@arges86 - yah I'm thinking of skipping on the SSD for now to apply it somewhere else. It's probably a luxory for me atm. As far as the ram, I meant from 8gb ~> 16gb might be overkill, but again I'm in unfamiliar territory with building a rig with the software I am using & will be using.

I think I'm still leaning towards the gtx 580 & potentially sli in the future, unless someone can explain to me why 2x 6970s will greatly benefit me now for software applications vs gaming applications vs adding a 2nd gtx580 in the future. Frame rates on the 2x 6970xf on games are quite impressive at 1900x1200 resolution with AAs up though.

Again thx for the responses as I now have more options to configure things than my initial setup with my budget.
May 11, 2011 3:15:51 AM

well, if you have $ in the future, the gtx 580 in SLI will obviously be better than the 6970 in Crossfire.

As far as i know 16 GB is overkill, but i've never really used the software your talking about. So you can figure out if your RAM is a bottleneck, and upgrade. Obviously just make sure you have the x64 bit version of Windows. W/o it, your 8 GB would be useless.

May 25, 2011 5:34:04 PM

Best answer selected by cwu.
May 25, 2011 5:50:13 PM

Went ahead and got my system. Just finished building it. I partly used the suggestions here (thx for the added insight). Final tally price was a little higher than my 1500 pretax/pre-shipping budget. Final price after ship/tax came to $2000.

Mobo - Asrock p67extreme 4
CPU - Intel I7 2600k
GPU - MSI GTX580 Lighting
Ram - Corsair Vengeance 8-8-8-24 x 16gb
PSU - Cougar SX-850
Cooling - Corsair H60
Radiator Fans - Cooler Master Excalibur x 2 (push/pull as exhaust)
Case - Haf X (added 2nd 200mm exhaust fan)
HD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB x 2 (raid 0)
DVD - Asus 24x Black
OS - Windows 7 Pro x 64 student upgrade

Other Thoughts:
System was setup smoothly & was able to easily OC to 4.7ghz without messing around with voltage. CPU temps @ 46~48C idle/program install & haven't tested system under load yet. Asrock EUFI is a really refreshing program to use vs the typical bios setup. Haven't really got to mess around with it as I'm currently transferring & setting up software to this new rig.

Haf X case for the price is quite awesome. Great airflow & cable management. Only other case I was looking into was the raven 02 case (looks nicer for similar price) but ultimately decided on the Haf X.
May 25, 2011 10:18:41 PM

glad to hear your build went well
!