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My Dream Machine - let me know what you think

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June 20, 2011 6:38:36 AM

Ok, so I am planning to finally start building my rig :) 

First, I should state that I plan to buy only the essential components first, and then buy the additional parts. The reason for this is that I am broke! Yea for being out of college with a lot less job than I had hoped for... Anyways, I plan to buy only the CPU, motherboard, RAM, HDD, case, opitcal drive, PSU, and monitor now; adding the rest later as the budget permits. Heres the component list:


Dream Machine
CPU: i5-2500k - $220
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68 - $180+8 S&H
RAM: Corsair XMS 4GB (2x2GB) 1.5V DDR3 1600 CL9 - $46
GPU: 2x MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II 2GB - $280 each
HDD: Samsung F3 Spinpoint 1TB - $60
SSD: OCZ Agility 3 120GB - $230
Case: NZXT Phantom (red) - $140+3 S&H
PSU: LEPA 700W SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
- $100+6 S&H

CPU cooler: Spire Thermax ii Eclipse - $55 S&H
Optical Drive: SAMSUNG Black 1.5MB Cache SATA CD/DVD Burner - OEM - $20+4 S&H
Display: Acer 21.5" 1080p LCD monitor - $130

Reasons:

CPU - easily overclocks to 5Ghz, best microarchitecture in the world, all around the best? hyperthreading and 2MB of L3 cache aren't worth $95 more for me.

GPU - at this price point, theres nothing better. For $560 you could get a GTX 580, but its gets eaten alive buy the 6950s. And I should have no problem unlocking them to virtual 6970s, which makes them even more dominating. Also, I think they will be able to handle the triple monitor setup, even at the final resolution of 5760x1080. As for the particular 6950s I chose, after reading that I should be able to unlock almost any 6950 (minus a few particular ones), it came down to choosing the best reasonably priced cooler for them, and of course avoiding significantly bad review.

Motherboard - Originally I had planned to use a P67 board, but then It occurred to me that I could get started $280 sooner if I got a Z68 (by not needing a graphics card right away), as well as getting access to Quicksync, and if I wanted it, SSD cacheing. This was one of the very few boards that could support 8x/8x Crossfire, and still have a PCIe 4x slot for a RAID controller or a PCIe SSD or something in the future. This board also has excellant connectivity, although only three ratings. And I wanted a quality board, because I plan on taking that 2500k as far as it can go on air, which will likely be 5.2Ghz, although my everyday OC will be alot less.

CPU cooler - It tops FrostyTech's charts for thermal performance, and costs only $55, not to mention it looks very slick:) 

RAM - After considerable research, I came to the conclusion that the best RAM option was 4GB of 1600Mhz CL9 1.5V, so I found a reputable and inexpensive kit, and added it to the list.

HDD - According to the charts on this site, its the fastest 7200rpm drive out there. And it has flawless reviews/reputation, as well as a $60 price tag. No-brainer.

SSD - OCZ really does lead the way. After perusing the lists on Newegg, it's just kind of a no-brainer again. and I wanted plenty of space, 60GB just sounds like I would feel guilty every time I installed something on it.

Case - Major splurging here. I just couldn't not buy something that sexy. The other strongest contender was a HAF 912, as it offered a ton of value for $50, and with a few add-ons (fans etc...) it would make a great case. But I really like to the Phantom, and it is a very nice case, having excellent airflow, cable management, space, etc...

Optical drive - its works...

PSU - 80 PLUS Gold, fully modular, 700W, and SLI/Crossfire ready for $100? Yes.

Display - I am actually not entirely set on this part. But $130 is a pretty awesome price for a 1080p 21.5" display. My other choice was a 27.5" for $270, but I figure a triple monitor setup has two primary advantages: a lot more screen once I get the other two screens, and I can get started for less than half the price of the 27.5".



Now, as I previously stated, I will be buying only the CPU, motherboard, RAM, HDD, case, PSU, optical drive, and monitor to start off. However, I intend to buy two more of those monitors later for a triple monitor eyefinity setup, and another of those 6950s to crossfire with the first one. Does everything look fine here? Will it be a problem adding the CPU cooler later, or should I get it immediately? Please voice all you comments, concerns, opinions, etc...

More about : dream machine

June 20, 2011 7:07:23 AM

So you're buying only one GPU initially?

Your CPU is a good choice, well done.

I don't like Asrock, but that's no reason for you not to get that. It seems a good board, and the Z68 will be better for OCing than a P67.

4GB RAM is great - you could go up to 8GB, but that's just nitpicking really.

Nice GPU, and you can possibly flash that to a 6970. I was going to suggest you could get a single 6990, but looking at the prices that's an extra $200 than your Crossfire setup, so not really a great choice. Do consider that Crossfire/SLI setups can have compatibility problems, and of course generate more heat and consume more power.

Bog standard HDD and SSDs. They both rate well and run fine.

Your case is pretty, and the fan controller on it is nice. Perhaps you could switch it out to the Coolermaster HAF X for better overall cooling, but I have a suspicion you chose the Phantom for it's looks as much as it's features, as I did with my case, so power to you.

Your PSU is okay. I'd recommend you changed to a more trusted brand such as Antec or Corsair, and perhaps upped the wattage a bit if you planned to Crossfire. Someone will tell me it's adequate for 6950 Crossfire, but I'd have to argue that where PSU's are concerned, it's usually better to overcompensate, and it'd cost you less overall to get a better PSU now and leave it rather than have to upgrade later.

Your cooling choice is well rated and fits. However every reviewer comments on how large it is, so be prepared! I have a Thermaltake Frio, which is cheaper, and performs admirably at stock speeds (cores never go above 42°c at full load) but then again I have a lot of case cooling which could be compensating. Just check it out before you buy for sure.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Looking at the reviews for Thermaltake Frio, it gets A higher user review rating than the tuniq.

Or the Scythe Mugen is a very popular choice here at Tom's Hardware. You could consider that, especially as it's cheaper.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anyways, just my two pence. Good luck :) 

-Nih
June 20, 2011 7:36:20 AM

Nihilis said:
So you're buying only one GPU initially?

Your CPU is a good choice, well done.

I don't like Asrock, but that's no reason for you not to get that. It seems a good board, and the Z68 will be better for OCing than a P67.

4GB RAM is great - you could go up to 8GB, but that's just nitpicking really.

Nice GPU, and you can possibly flash that to a 6970. I was going to suggest you could get a single 6990, but looking at the prices that's an extra $200 than your Crossfire setup, so not really a great choice. Do consider that Crossfire/SLI setups can have compatibility problems, and of course generate more heat and consume more power.

Bog standard HDD and SSDs. They both rate well and run fine.

Your case is pretty, and the fan controller on it is nice. Perhaps you could switch it out to the Coolermaster HAF X for better overall cooling, but I have a suspicion you chose the Phantom for it's looks as much as it's features, as I did with my case, so power to you.

Your PSU is okay. I'd recommend you changed to a more trusted brand such as Antec or Corsair, and perhaps upped the wattage a bit if you planned to Crossfire. Someone will tell me it's adequate for 6950 Crossfire, but I'd have to argue that where PSU's are concerned, it's usually better to overcompensate, and it'd cost you less overall to get a better PSU now and leave it rather than have to upgrade later.

Your cooling choice is well rated and fits. However every reviewer comments on how large it is, so be prepared! I have a Thermaltake Frio, which is cheaper, and performs admirably at stock speeds (cores never go above 42°c at full load) but then again I have a lot of case cooling which could be compensating. Just check it out before you buy for sure.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Looking at the reviews for Thermaltake Frio, it gets A higher user review rating than the tuniq.

Or the Scythe Mugen is a very popular choice here at Tom's Hardware. You could consider that, especially as it's cheaper.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anyways, just my two pence. Good luck :) 

-Nih


Thanks for the fast reply :) 

regarding the case, yeah, the choice was based largely on looks, but it should have more than sufficient airflow.

As for the cooler - the only thing I have against the Frio is the noise. the FrostyTech charts show it to be significantly louder than anything else. although it's thermal performance is unquestioned.

I pretty much agree with everything you said lol. Except for the part about the 6990. I wouldn't buy one of those... apparently they are a bit loud. And ~$730 is a lot to pay for that performance, even if it is the best in the world.

Related resources
June 20, 2011 7:59:28 AM

^ Yea, I'm sorry about the card, but I for some reason thought that 6990 was cheaper than that :s as for sound, I didn't know that (I'm a Nvidia fanboy, so only ever had one AMD) but I guess that's another good reason not to get the 6990.

Cooler is up to you again :)  usually you get what you pay for, and all 3 coolers we've posted in this thread will do a good job regardless.

It's a good case nonetheless. Phantom, BitFenix Colossus and HAF X often trade blows in that price range. Phantom is a good balance between the style of the Colossus and the performance of the HAF X, so I can see why you chose it.

Whatever you choose, I wish you the best! :) 
-Nih
June 20, 2011 9:46:42 AM

I think you should dream about girls , instead
June 20, 2011 4:57:13 PM
June 20, 2011 5:40:19 PM

Outlander_04 said:
I think you should dream about girls , instead


Thanks for that:) 
June 20, 2011 5:41:39 PM

mjmjpfaff said:
cpu cooler- http://www.amazon.com/Noctua-Heatpipe-Bearing-Cooler-NH... this is better than that tuniq also the scythe mugen is a good choice- cheaper and

case- http://www.amazon.com/NZXT-Crafted-Tower-Steel-Chassis/... no shipping costs

now this is a good motherboard- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

gskill makes better ram- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

is this the ssd you were talking about- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... the link isnt to its page

psu- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or a high quality corsair- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

dvd burner- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

monitor- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... only 10$ more and its a quality asus



All you say is "this one is better" You have any reasons why they're better?
June 20, 2011 6:01:39 PM

for which products?

the noctua is hands down a better cooler meaning it can keep the temps of your cpu lower

the gigabyte motherboard is cheaper and is from gigabyte so you know it is quality.

people here prefer gskill ram. i personally cant tell a difference in performance so i will go with other people's judgement which is usually better than my own :D 

thermaltake doesnt make the best psu's. corsair, antec, xfx, ..... do make quality psu's

June 20, 2011 6:33:41 PM

Many websites state that you get much better performance for the dollar going with the Vertex 3 or Vertex 3 Max Iops over the agility. Try to get a deal on that. I'm pretty sure that graphics card is "non-reference" meaning you can't unlock them but I could be wrong. I thought it explained why all the "reference" cards were out of stock and so rare... I would love to know if it can be done though. I highly recommend 8gb Ram - I agree with the general rule that you should not ever need to use more than 50% of your ram.
June 20, 2011 6:44:09 PM

mjmjpfaff said:
for which products?

the noctua is hands down a better cooler meaning it can keep the temps of your cpu lower

the gigabyte motherboard is cheaper and is from gigabyte so you know it is quality.

people here prefer gskill ram. i personally cant tell a difference in performance so i will go with other people's judgement which is usually better than my own :D 

thermaltake doesnt make the best psu's. corsair, antec, xfx, ..... do make quality psu's



As for the cooler, heres a link to frostytech showing it trailing the tuniq tower 120 extreme by .4C, and being 5dBA louder, as well as costing $30 more. I'm not sure where you get that it's better. If I got a different cooler, it would be the Spire Thermax ii Eclipse.

http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleid=252...

The motherboard you mentioned is a valid option, but it has only two PCIe slots, and I would like to have a 4x slot.

Corsair makes great RAM... as does G.Skill...

As for the PSU, I read the reviews on newegg and they could be better. I'll look into choosing a better one.

June 20, 2011 7:20:08 PM

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2... - i trust tomshardware over frosty tech
notua nh-d14: "Yet, while the NH-D14’s sheer size will put off many buyers, class-leading performance and the ability to install and remove the sink from inside a traditional case is sure to put it on the wish lists of many extreme-air enthusiasts."

the scythe mugen 2 even beats that cooler and it is 20$ cheaper

there has been real reviews (not ones on newegg) that say the tr2 is a bad psu

i know corsair makes great ram I said that

i see your point on the motherboard
June 22, 2011 1:06:31 AM

I read that whole article that you linked. The D14 is also $90, although I don't know what to say when I have one source saying one thing, and another saying something else. Obviously I trust Toms, but I also trust FrostyTech, after all, the site is completely dedicated to CPU cooling...

That said, any of the coolers mentioned would be great, and my OC will likely be limited by other factors, not temps.

As for the PSU, I will be changing that part out. I did a bit of research, and decided I agree with you (and others) that I should choose something better. I'm thinking strongly about this one. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As always, thanks for the input:) 
June 22, 2011 7:46:20 AM

changed motherboard, PSU, and cooler out. will be ordering parts middle of next week (June 28-30)
June 22, 2011 6:55:16 PM

just read a review of that lepa it can pull 980w at 83% efficiency. that is pretty amazing.
June 25, 2011 4:31:49 AM

Thinking about switching the Phantom out for a BitFenix Shinobi, a move which will save me $73. Where do you guys think that $73 would be best spent?
June 25, 2011 8:38:06 AM

A combination of a $15 price drop on the i7-2600k and Free S&H on the DVD burner I had chosen are meaning I am probably going to switch to an i7-2600k :love:  Don't know where else to spend the $80, and having a top of the line CPU for once sounds sooooooooo tempting...
!