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Help with gaming/media pc setup

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June 26, 2011 4:55:35 PM

Hello everyone.

I am a fairly novice computer user and I am trying to build a powerful gaming/home media pc on a budget. I’m trying to spend under $1200 to start and through finding various deals online I have come up with this setup. I was wondering if you could kindly look over my setup, point out any mistakes/bottlenecks/incompatibles, and give your approval or suggestions for improvement. I’m particularly interested in discussion about bottlenecks between the GPU's, RAM and CPU. I don't know as much about the relationships between those as I like.

Thank you!

Setup:

Azza Solano 1000r Black / Red Computer Case with Side Panel Window

Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz 1333MHz 6MB LGA775 AT80570PJ0936M OEM

Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2000 (PC3 16000) Desktop Memory Model 996991

XFX NVIDIA GeForce GTX 295 (I plan to add another one later to run quad sli)

XFX nForce 790i Ultra SLI - motherboard - ATX - LGA775 Socket - nForce 790i Ultra SLI - LGA775 Socket

Kingston SSDNow V100 Series SV100S2N/64GZ 2.5" 64GB SATA II Internal / External Solid State Drive (SSD)

Antec TPQ-1200 1200W Continuous Power with PowerCache Technology SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

I will also be using an old dvd/RW+ drive for now

In the future though I would like to grow the system and add another solid state drive ~128gbs for games, and up to six sata 7200 hds for movies and music in a raid setup. I understand I may need to use a raid card for the last two. I may also add a bluray drive. I tried using online power calculators and they came out at ~1100w for this setup, so I’m planning on 1200w to be safe.

More about : gaming media setup

a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:04:46 PM

How about swapping Core Duo to a i7 2600k 4 core? Games now need a minimum of 2 cores to play
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:12:40 PM

Hi there, welcome to the forums.

First thing, you have a VERY outdated platform right there. LGA 775 is 2 generations old, and very slow now. No reason to get it.

Might I make a suggestion? Look through this thread for info on the latest builds/good ideas for your budget. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/312822-31-bestconfigs...

I'll be glad to help you with any questions you might have, don't be shy!

And to elaborate on your bottlenecks question, here's how the money should go.
GPU>CPU>Mobo>RAM>HDD>case.
You will almost always have a GPU bottleneck. Rarely ever (except with old systems or crazy high power rigs) will you see a CPU bottleneck in a high performance system. Ram doesn't matter, as long is it's 4GB and 1333MHz or more.

P.S. no way you need 1200w. No way in hell.

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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:19:10 PM

striker410 said:
Hi there, welcome to the forums.

First thing, you have a VERY outdated platform right there. LGA 775 is 2 generations old, and very slow now. No reason to get it.

Might I make a suggestion? Look through this thread for info on the latest builds/good ideas for your budget. http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/312822-31-bestconfigs...

I'll be glad to help you with any questions you might have, don't be shy!

And to elaborate on your bottlenecks question, here's how the money should go.
GPU>CPU>Mobo>RAM>HDD>case.
You will almost always have a GPU bottleneck. Rarely ever (except with old systems or crazy high power rigs) will you see a CPU bottleneck in a high performance system. Ram doesn't matter, as long is it's 4GB and 1333MHz or more.

P.S. no way you need 1200. No way in hell.

It's either under $1000 for Intel 4 core or over $2000 for Intel 6 core
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June 26, 2011 5:30:12 PM

Thanks for the advice, I didn't realize that icore 7's were that close in price to the high end core 2 duos.

thinking of maybe switching the motherboard to something like this:

ASUS Socket 1366/Intel X58/Quad SLI & Quad CrossFireX/SATA3.0&USB3.0/A&GbE/ATX Motherboard s SABERTOOTH X58

http://www.amazon.com/X58-CrossFireX-SATA3-0-Motherboar...

with one of the icore 7's and then some triple channel ram...

...and for the graphics card, I can find the Geforce 295's for decent prices, (which is why I'm considering quad), but would it make more sense to get a board that can do triple SLI and then use newer cards? I'm trying to keep the costs of the cards under $200, but I would be willing to do three if could I space out the cost.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:32:26 PM

r0aringdrag0n said:
It's either under $1000 for Intel 4 core or over $2000 for Intel 6 core

No idea what you are talking about. Please elaborate.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:36:01 PM

5thingstomakereal said:
Thanks for the advice, I didn't realize that icore 7's were that close in price to the high end core 2 duos.

thinking of maybe switching the motherboard to something like this:

ASUS Socket 1366/Intel X58/Quad SLI & Quad CrossFireX/SATA3.0&USB3.0/A&GbE/ATX Motherboard s SABERTOOTH X58

http://www.amazon.com/X58-CrossFireX-SATA3-0-Motherboar...

with one of the icore 7's and then some triple channel ram...

...and for the graphics card, I can find the Geforce 295's for decent prices, (which is why I'm considering quad), but would it make more sense to get a board that can do triple SLI and then use newer cards? I'm trying to keep the costs of the cards under $200, but I would be willing to do three if could I space out the cost.

Umm, don't go X58. Don't. You need to go second gen Sandy Bridge, specifically the 2500k. You need a P67 or Z68 board for those.

Triple channel ram is a gimmick IMO. Dual is fine.
And Triple SLI does not make sense unless you are running 3 very big screens with very high end cards. It would be WAY better to get 2 higher end GPU's. Again, look at the thread I linked. Lots of great ideas.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:36:11 PM

striker410 said:
No idea what you are talking about. Please elaborate.

When your building a Intel computer, unless you're using the worlds best mobo, graphics card, RAM then the build won't be over $1000 but if you're going to use the 6 core Intel then its gonna be over $2000
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 5:38:45 PM

Ohh lol. When I said 1200, I meant 1200w PSU! I fixed that, thanks for pointing it out.
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June 26, 2011 5:57:34 PM

Okay I'm starting to learn a lot, Thanks Guys!

I like the look of the Z68, pretty reasonable price too.

How about these for the GPU's

EVGA 012-P3-1470-RX GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

although the ones I found at my price range are re-certified (is that a good idea?)

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

get one now, another one later, and maybe a third if I end up using more monitors (which may happen)

any input on what size and speed ram I should get? This one is still very confusing to me.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 6:08:17 PM

I would rather get a set of 2 really good GPU's than 3 OK gpu's. Look into a pair of GTX 560 Ti's or 6950's. I would go 560 Ti's if you overclock, 6950's otherwise.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 6:10:07 PM

5thingstomakereal said:
Okay I'm starting to learn a lot, Thanks Guys!

I like the look of the Z68, pretty reasonable price too.

How about these for the GPU's

EVGA 012-P3-1470-RX GeForce GTX 470 (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

although the ones I found at my price range are re-certified (is that a good idea?)

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

get one now, another one later, and maybe a third if I end up using more monitors (which may happen)

any input on what size and speed ram I should get? This one is still very confusing to me.


How bout AMD HD Radeon 6850 or 6870 for graphics (crossfire enabled)
you should use 1333 or 1600 RAM 6-8 gb (USE 64 BIT OS!!!!)
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June 26, 2011 6:13:45 PM

What is the benefit of having more memory on the card? would it be worth paying $30~50 more for each card?
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 6:15:07 PM

Unless going over 1080p, 1GB is all you need. The benefit is you can load more textures in the enviroment/more detail. if you wanted 3 screens with max AA, you'd probably need the 2GB 6950's.
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June 26, 2011 6:16:44 PM

so if this will be hooked up to a 1080p tv eventually would 1gb on each card be just fine?
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 6:36:51 PM

Yes. If you plan on going multiple monitors (3) we may have to change things up.
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June 26, 2011 11:36:01 PM

Thank you all for your input, especially striker410, you sir are awesome.


Here is my new setup:

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor

(any good reason to spend $100 for the core i7?)

2x Corsair 4GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory CMX4GX3M1A1333C9

Zotac ZT-50705-10M 1GB GTX 560 2GB DDR5 (second one will be added later)

Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Antec TPQ-1200 1200W Continuous Power with PowerCache Technology SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

AZZA Solano 1000 Black/Black Japanese SECC Steel/Metal mesh in front ATX Full Tower Computer Case

As you noted the power supply is well beyond what is needed right now, but I'm getting it to ensure I can add a second gfx card, and up to 7 more hardrives and a Blu-ray player later. If you think 1200w is too much for even that let me know. I would also be interested in changing the case if there is a comparable one without LED lights.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 11:52:51 PM

Not bad! You have a 560 there, you need a 560 Ti. Confusing, I know.

For an SSD, the M4 is slow. You should check the OCZ Agility 3's out. MUCH MUCH faster. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Might as well get some 1600MHz ram, it gives a tiny bit more performance for like $2 more.

Yes! 1200 is still WAY to much! Guru3D says that a 560 Ti setup will only use 450w, that's with a MUCH more power hungry CPU than you. I would get an 850w as that leaves you plenty of room for addons. There's no way 7 hard drives will use 400w lol.

For a case I like the azza. But if you want a more plain case, I have a list of stellar cases to check out.

On the low end, the HAF 912 gets my vote for budget case at $60: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But for $10 more this excellent Lian Li can be had: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And of course for $90 the CM 690 II, possibly the best looking case EVER: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

the AWESOME looking NZXT Phantom clocks in at $140 (multiple colors!): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

At $150 we have the Corsair 600T. A simple, elegant case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

And at the top of the list for $160, possibly the best, most elegant gaming case on the market, the Silverstone RV03B. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think that should help :D 
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 26, 2011 11:59:03 PM

Sorry to tell you but you only have 64gb of storage space...I have that much on my 2001 E-machine
I recommend adding a HDD, preferably a 1tb
so here would be my changed setup for you:
ASRock Z68 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor

2x Corsair 4GB DDR3 1333MHz Memory CMX4GX3M1A1333C9

Zotac ZT-50705-10M 1GB GTX 560 2GB DDR5 (second one will be added later)

Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Antec TPQ-1200 1200W Continuous Power with PowerCache Technology SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

AZZA Solano 1000 Black/Black Japanese SECC Steel/Metal mesh in front ATX Full Tower Computer Case

AND

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALX HDD
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June 28, 2011 5:10:58 PM

Good advice everyone , here is my new and improved (and cheaper!) setup.

ASRock Z68 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor

Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

eVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked Graphics adapter - 1 GB (2x eventually)

OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

RAIDMAX RX-850AE 850W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

NZXT Phantom PHAN-002OR Newegg Exclusive Black Finish w/Orange Trim Steel / Plastic Enthusiast ATX Full Tower Computer Case (looks awesome!)

r0aringdrag0n, I forgot to mention I have 3tb of external space which I will be using for now, but don't worry I plan on adding a lot more space later for all the movies, music and games.

Are there any other improvements I could make?

Thanks guys, you all have been awesome.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 28, 2011 10:02:50 PM

Loks pretty good! Might I make a few more suggestions?

While the ASRock Z68 is very pretty, it's also rather expensive. Check out the offerings from Gigabytes Z68X line.

Raidmax in general makes very low quality PSU's. That one seems to be OK, but I personally would not risk it. Get a nice, modular 750w for about the same price.

And lastly, Throw down a little cash for an internal drive. They are MUCH faster than any external drive, and it's a pain in the butt to have to wait on slow slow USB when you could have your common apps on a $60 speedy drive.

But that's about it! Excellent system.
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June 30, 2011 10:08:49 PM

Okay so I've made some more decisions and my setup has changed a little bit. Here’s why:

I would like to run emulators for ps2, gamecube and wii on the system. Check them out here if you are interested. Based on what I've read these can’t do SLI or crossfire so I will spend a little more to get a 2gb card.

I will probably eventually have three screens eventually when this thing becomes an office computer.

I will probably do a raid ? setup with 4-6 large hds (2tb or greater each , for movies, and music) in addition to the two solid state drives (for the OS, frequently used apps and games)

So here's a list of questions:

1)How many drives can I fit in the phantom case? Can I have a dvd + bluray + 8 sata drives or do I need to move up to a bigger case?

2)Is a pair of Radeon 6950 2b's a good enough setup for three screens? Would it be worth it to add a third? Or would that have severe diminishing returns?

2a) Does it matter what effective speeds the pci-e slots are on the motherboard ?(2 8x vs 1 16x and 1 8x vs 2 16x)

3) what would be the best raid setup?

4) How do I determine power supply requirements for this setup? Any recommendations for a power supply?

Thanks very much for your input, this newbie is getting smarter everyday.

Working setup:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard (for double) Or P8P67 WS Revolution (for triple)

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor

Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 991995

HIS Radeon HD 6950 Fan Graphics adapter - 2 GB - GDDR5 SDRAM (2x, or 3x)

OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Power supply? what do I need to look for?

NZXT Phantom PHAN-002OR Newegg Exclusive Black Finish w/Orange Trim Steel / Plastic Enthusiast ATX Full Tower Computer Case

Corsair Force Series 3 CSSD-F120GB3-BK 2.5" 120GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Probably 4-6 2tb sata 2 drives all in raid ? config
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 30, 2011 11:29:00 PM

Not sure how many you can fit. from this image http://www.overclock.net/attachments/computer-cases/170... It looks like you can fit 5 drives without adapters, another 3 more with.

2x in crossfire is your best bet. Should handle 3 screens well.

For PCI speeds, shoot for 8x8x.

Can't help on raid.

For a power supply, I would go with a nice 750w PSU, like the Antec Earthwatts 750w (in grey, the green cost more; idk why) or the TX750 V2 from Corsair.


Be sure to hit us up if you have any more questions!
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