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[Solved] A few questions about my new system

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July 13, 2011 3:14:48 AM

Hi!

I'm looking to build a new system in the near future and I'm hoping someone can help me with a few questions, and any general advice on the parts I've chosen.

For reference (will be needed to answer questions below), my current PC is:

Processor: Core 2 Duo E7200, 2.53ghz
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-P35-S3G LGA 775 Intel P35
RAM: 4gb (on an x86 system)
Graphics Card: GeForce 9800 GTX
Power Supply: RAIDMAX AURORA 2 RX-600F 600W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V

And the parts I've chosen are:

Processor: Intel Core i5-2400 (I'm not really into overclocking) - $194.99
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3-B3 (part of a combo deal with the CPU) - $111.99
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $59.99
Hard Drive: Possibly an SSD, but none for now as I plan to just use one of the HDDs I have in my current PC
Case: Antec Three Hundred - $59.45
Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-750TX - $119.99
DVD Burner: ASUS 24x DVD Burner - $20.99

Total: $567.40

So the questions I have are:

1) You'll notice there's no video card listed in the parts I've chosen. Should I upgrade my current video card? Basically, I'm worried that right now, it's my CPU that's holding me back in games, so I'm going to see an improvement just from upgrading that. Once I upgrade that, though, I'm not sure if I upgrade to something like a GTX 560 Ti, GTX 560, or HD 6870, would I see an improvement over my current 9800 GTX? [for the record, I'm planning to play Battlefield 3 and Skyrim on this new machine] For what it's worth, I prefer to play games at 1920 x 1200.

1a) If I were to upgrade my video card, are AMD cards "stable"? By this, I mean that everyone I know who's ever had a problem with drivers or game compatibility has had an AMD (or ATI) card. Maybe this isn't the case any more, or maybe it was just observer bias on my part.

1b) Should I consider an SLI/Crossfire setup? I've never done one, and I really have no idea which is more cost effective. Is it worth the hassle? Also, is the motherboard I've chosen actually able to handle it? Some of the people who left feedback say it is and others say it's not.

2) One thing I'm really worried about is the power supply. On my current set up, I can't use external HDDs and I can't even sync my iPad. I've narrowed it down to being a problem with either the power supply or motherboard, and I'm leaning toward power supply because from what I can tell, the problem is that the external devices aren't getting enough power. I'd really like to avoid this situation in the future. And of course, I may be adding a higher power video card, so I've tried to account for that. Also, I may be adding an SSD and/or an HDD, which would be a total of two HDDs and one SSD - is the power supply I've chosen enough for all of that? I've spent the last two hours reading about power supplies and my mind is basically fried at this point.

3) In general, does this new computer seem like it will be good enough to play the games I want (Battlefield 3 and Skyrim, for now)? Or am I grossly underestimating the requirements that these games are likely to have?

If there's any other info that would help in answering my questions, I'll be happy to provide it! Thank you in advance!

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July 13, 2011 6:12:50 AM

New gfx card, yes
Amd stable, yes
Sli/crossfire depends on your resolution, no point wasting money if your on low res, and different mobos support either sli,crossfire or rarely, both, as a general guide sli tend to be intel boards and amd=crossfire although there are some that will do both, the mobo you selected will sli at 16/8 speed, and I'll let another member explain that, I'm off to sleep, nightshifts :-p
Moto
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July 13, 2011 5:10:34 PM

I'm in agreement with Moto. AMD has gotten a lot better with drivers and even crossfire has made great improvements with the HD 6000 series. Nvidia also has quite a few good offerings as well like the GTX 560 Ti.
July 13, 2011 6:42:23 PM



Build looks pretty solid so far.


Quote:
1) You'll notice there's no video card listed in the parts I've chosen. Should I upgrade my current video card? Basically, I'm worried that right now, it's my CPU that's holding me back in games, so I'm going to see an improvement just from upgrading that. Once I upgrade that, though, I'm not sure if I upgrade to something like a GTX 560 Ti, GTX 560, or HD 6870, would I see an improvement over my current 9800 GTX? [for the record, I'm planning to play Battlefield 3 and Skyrim on this new machine] For what it's worth, I prefer to play games at 1920 x 1200.


We need more information about your budget and the like, which is what Why_Me was getting at when he asked you to fill in that form he linked.

In general, I would recommend an upgrade if you can afford it. 1920x1200 will definitely require a good GPU for these newer games.

Quote:
1a) If I were to upgrade my video card, are AMD cards "stable"? By this, I mean that everyone I know who's ever had a problem with drivers or game compatibility has had an AMD (or ATI) card. Maybe this isn't the case any more, or maybe it was just observer bias on my part.


ATI had some driver issues a while ago, but they've been long since fixed. Some games do favor NVidia over AMD (new Crysis 2 patches...) but for the most part the benchmarks are close. The 6950 tends to outperform the 560Ti, and the 6970 bests the 570.

Quote:
1b) Should I consider an SLI/Crossfire setup? I've never done one, and I really have no idea which is more cost effective. Is it worth the hassle? Also, is the motherboard I've chosen actually able to handle it? Some of the people who left feedback say it is and others say it's not.


I don't know why everybody thinks SLI/CF is a hassle. You just drop in the new GPU and connect the SLI/CF Bridge, let the driver update, restart, and go.

CF requires x16/x4 (dunno about x8/x4) on the PCI-E slots, and SLI requires x8/x8. Since this board runs at x16/x8, it will handle both SLI and CF.

Quote:
2) One thing I'm really worried about is the power supply. On my current set up, I can't use external HDDs and I can't even sync my iPad. I've narrowed it down to being a problem with either the power supply or motherboard, and I'm leaning toward power supply because from what I can tell, the problem is that the external devices aren't getting enough power. I'd really like to avoid this situation in the future. And of course, I may be adding a higher power video card, so I've tried to account for that. Also, I may be adding an SSD and/or an HDD, which would be a total of two HDDs and one SSD - is the power supply I've chosen enough for all of that? I've spent the last two hours reading about power supplies and my mind is basically fried at this point.


I believe what you've experienced is a motherboard problem; newer drives and devices (specifically newer Apple products) require more power from the USB ports than the older boards can supply.

The 750W should be plenty for a single 6950 or 560Ti. The HDDs don't use a significant amount of power compared to the GPU/CPU.

Quote:
3) In general, does this new computer seem like it will be good enough to play the games I want (Battlefield 3 and Skyrim, for now)? Or am I grossly underestimating the requirements that these games are likely to have?


If you pair the right GPU with your resolution, yes, it will handle the games just fine.
July 13, 2011 10:11:33 PM

Thank you all for the replies so far!

Here is the filled out form that Why_Me mentioned:

Quote:
Approximate Purchase Date: Preferably before the end of July

Budget Range: I'm trying to stay around $800 (after rebates), but could be talked into going higher if there is a significant performance increase to be had for a few dollars more

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, browsing, a little bit of "work" (some web development stuff and use of Microsoft Office)

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, hard drive

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I prefer Newegg only because I've always ordered my stuff from them in the past and I suppose their customer service for RMAs and such is decent enough. I'm not married to them though. ;) 

Country of Origin: U.S.

Parts Preferences: I'd prefer an Intel CPU. I've always used Nvidia cards in the past just due to the problems I mentioned before, but apparently those problems aren't bad any more.

Overclocking: Maybe. I would have said no before I read Proximon's guide to choosing parts, but now I'm not so sure. Does overclocking really help that much? I had always thought that it provided a relatively small increase in performance. On a side note, Proximon's guide now also has me rethinking that Z68 motherboard.

SLI or Crossfire: From what I read in the "Best Graphics Card for the money - July" article, it looks like single cards are recommended at the price point I'm looking at (which is about $230, since my budget is around $800 and I've already used up $567 of it). Does this sound right?

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200


Some other questions I thought of today:

1) As far as board manufacturers go (for both motherboards and graphics cards), are some better than others? Are there some I should really avoid or try to get? I think after reading these replies and looking at prices on Newegg, I'm looking for an HD 6950 - could someone please recommend a good one? I see that this one has a good rating on Newegg, for whatever that's worth.

2) I see some of these graphics cards say PCI Express 2.1 on them. The motherboard I've selected is PCI Express 2.0. Does this mean those graphics cards are incompatible with this motherboard?

Quote:
I don't know why everybody thinks SLI/CF is a hassle. You just drop in the new GPU and connect the SLI/CF Bridge, let the driver update, restart, and go.
Oh, hah, I didn't realize it was that easy. Just another misconception on my part, I guess.

Again, thank you all very much for the feedback! I've been wading through articles for weeks trying to educate myself but I still had a lot of questions, and you guys have helped a lot to put my mind at ease.
July 13, 2011 11:31:55 PM

For mobos, I'd get an Asus, Gigabyte, or ASRock. EVGA is also a good brand, but their P67 boards are far too expensive and their whole team went to Sapphire prior to the release of their P67 boards.

I like my Gigabyte's port layout; it's extremely efficient and allows me to run 2 PCI-E x1 cards, a PCI sound card, and my 6950 dual slot GPU. I could still add a second GPU and still keep the other expansion cards.

MSI, Sapphire, HIS, and XFX make good AMD cards, with Sapphire making some of the most reputable cards.

The PCI-E 2.X is all intercompatible. PCI-E is an industry standard, and the versions are backwards compatible (to some degree) to v1.0.
July 14, 2011 5:03:12 AM

boiler1990 said:
For mobos, I'd get an Asus, Gigabyte, or ASRock. EVGA is also a good brand, but their P67 boards are far too expensive and their whole team went to Sapphire prior to the release of their P67 boards.

I like my Gigabyte's port layout; it's extremely efficient and allows me to run 2 PCI-E x1 cards, a PCI sound card, and my 6950 dual slot GPU. I could still add a second GPU and still keep the other expansion cards.

MSI, Sapphire, HIS, and XFX make good AMD cards, with Sapphire making some of the most reputable cards.

The PCI-E 2.X is all intercompatible. PCI-E is an industry standard, and the versions are backwards compatible (to some degree) to v1.0.

Ok, cool. Thanks again for the info.

So I think my last question is: should I consider overclocking? I was always under the impression that overclocking didn't really increase performance very much.

I can get this combo deal at Newegg with a 2500k instead of a 2400. Would I see much of an increase in performance if I got that 2500k and overclocked it, or should I just stick with the 2400?
July 14, 2011 8:18:44 AM

Overclocking is being made much more accessible these days, and its comparable to tuning up a car or motorbike,
you can O/c a little (add Performance airfilter)
or a lot (No2, lots of No2 :p )
the 2500k is made for clocking and if you spend a bit of time getting comfortable with the whole process, you wont regret the choice or blow anything up
my advice? 2500k mate, all the damn way
Moto
July 14, 2011 7:17:35 PM

If you you get an HD 6950 2GB you could also consider flashing it to 6970 specs. However, that does carry some risk, but it's something to think about. I'm not a huge fan of Intel but you gotta admit the i5 2500k is a beast of an overclocker. If you can afford it, it is worth getting.
July 16, 2011 12:39:45 AM

Parts have been ordered. Thanks again, everyone!
July 16, 2011 12:40:17 AM

What did you end up getting?
July 16, 2011 12:44:55 AM

I went with the 2500k and everything else mentioned above except for a video card (I'm going to wait and see exactly what the games I want to play require before making a decision), plus a CPU cooler. I figure I'll give overclocking a try at some point, and I'd rather install the cooler at the beginning instead of having to take everything apart a year from now.
July 16, 2011 12:47:10 AM

Yeah, for the extra ~$30 the 2500K is worth it. I wasn't thinking straight but I'm glad Moto pulled you in the right direction.
July 16, 2011 12:49:33 AM

Your input was also much appreciated, so thanks again! I figured it's worth a little bit extra to have the option in the future.
July 16, 2011 7:36:56 AM

I may favour Amd (albeit unwittingly) but when the clear chioce is an Intel chip, I'll tell you so much :) 
Moto
!