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Progressive System Overhaul, ~$450 to start

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Last response: in Systems
January 7, 2012 6:31:20 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: January 10th, 2012...

Budget Range: >$450 before rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming (MMOs, BF3 / MW3, Skyrim), streaming and movies (either on the PC, or via HDMI to my 42" plasma), web surfing, home office tasks

Parts Not Required: keyboard & mouse, speakers, monitor, case, hard drive, PSU...

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, open to suggestions at other high-reputation sites

Country: Indiana, USA

Parts Preferences: I'm partial to ASUS, Gigabyte, G.Skill, Logitech - companies like these. See below for the parts I have researched and desire feedback for...

Overclocking: Not immediately; considering for the future

SLI or Crossfire: Not right now. But I want the ability to expand to dual video card.

Monitor Resolution: 1680 x 1050

Additional Comments: As the post title says, this will be a progressive build. I'm starting with the core components listed below and will expand the overhaul as money and cost permits me.
I'm using a Maxtor 1TB drive, partitioned into: OS, Programs, Games, Media, and backup pre-staging (for burn to DVD - I do this semi-yearly). Eventually, I want to get a SATA-III SSD for OS-only (i.e. 32GB, maybe larger) and reuse the Maxtor for everything else.
My current PSU is a Thermaltake toughpower (I think) 680W. I am eye-balling a replacement, the OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W.
I also eventually want to upgrade to a higher-resolution display. But the monitor will have to fit on my computer desk (it has a hutch which will only allow a maximum width of 22.5"). I'm completely willing to take suggestions as I have not researched this yet (it's not mentally slated for a few more months).

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Parts List -- Total Cost, newegg: $449.96

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 960T Zosma Socket AM3
Newegg.com - $124.99 (-$15 promo code, ends Jan. 10)

Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 AM3+ 970 northbridge
Newegg.com - $99.99

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 2x4GB DDR3 1600, F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
Newegg.com - $44.99

Video: XFX HD-687A-ZHFC radeon 6870 1GB
Newegg.com - $179.99 (-$20 M.I.R., Dirt3 download coupon)


I initially wanted to go Bulldozer (FX-4100), but I like the specs of the Zosma and potentially unlocking to 6-cores. (Suggestions for an aftermarket CPU heatsink/fan for AM3/AM3+ would be appreciated...) Regardless of that, I love ASUS motherboards and I'm leaning to the M5A97 to allow for future CPU upgrades without necessitating a new mobo too. Is there a better option for a similar price that will also allow a future upgrade to Crossfire? And for that matter, is there a better option for a similar price than the XFX video card?
Lastly, I'm more concerned with whether or not Thermaltake 680W will run the upgrades here until my next paycheck... And/or if the OCZ 700W will allow for future dual-video card expansion. I'm willing to spend up to $100 (or so) on a new PSU, so long as it's 80+ certified and has modular connections.


So, THG community: thoughts, suggestions for improvement? Thanks for any and all feedback and criticisms.

More about : progressive system overhaul 450 start

January 7, 2012 6:43:43 PM

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I initially wanted to go Bulldozer (FX-4100), but I like the specs of the Zosma and potentially unlocking to 6-cores. (Suggestions for an aftermarket CPU heatsink/fan for AM3/AM3+ would be appreciated...)


I would definitely not be inclined to go for Bulldozer right now. It's a great start but AMD still has a long way to go before they perfect it.

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Regardless of that, I love ASUS motherboards and I'm leaning to the M5A97 to allow for future CPU upgrades without necessitating a new mobo too.


Asus does make some excellent boards, no question.

Quote:
Is there a better option for a similar price that will also allow a future upgrade to Crossfire? And for that matter, is there a better option for a similar price than the XFX video card?


Pretty much all motherboards now have some Crossfire and SLI options even the less expensive ones.

Quote:
So, THG community: thoughts, suggestions for improvement? Thanks for any and all feedback and criticisms.


I would be more inclined to suggest something based off of SB but it'll be significantly more expensive unless you'd be willing to use an i5-2400 or an i3-2120, but those can't be overclocked. Maybe if you want to hold off on the GPU until you can get a 7770 instead of a 6870 it would be worthwhile.

So far most of what you have is really good - I like the 970 as it's far more recent than older AMD 880/870/770 chipsets and it will support the FX, X6, and X4-960 and pretty much any newer CPUs that will be released. Where AMD does excel better than Intel is the fact that you can use newer chips with older boards, where Intel seems to use a new socket with each generation.

The only thing I might suggest - XFX is a good brand and their double lifetime warranty can't be matched anywhere, but I really like the quality of Sapphire cards - I've owned a few of them and they all have held up really well. Try this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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January 7, 2012 6:49:38 PM

g-unit1111 --
Indeed, I've been looking at a handful of 6870's -- Sapphire included. I didn't know AMD/ATI had their next line so close to market though... Shame on me. About how long until that will be? My 9800 GTX (yes, I know, I know, shame on me even more) is on its last legs.

Also, yes, I reeeeally wanted to go Sandy Bridge. But for my future-overclocking endeavors, I can't afford the price of the 2500K. My rationale is: get the right chip at the right price that will allow me to overclock if I want and last me ~2 years.
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January 7, 2012 6:52:11 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, sosofm. I should have known to look to Cooler Master, lol.


OH, and I should have specified about video cards: I don't know it it's "standard," but I do want HDMI-out to connect to my Plasma.
However, as g-unit noted, would it be worthwhile to wait a bit longer to buy the video card with a new line of Radeon's slated to debut soon?
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January 7, 2012 7:02:08 PM

Jerath said:
g-unit1111 --
Indeed, I've been looking at a handful of 6870's -- Sapphire included. I didn't know AMD/ATI had their next line so close to market though... Shame on me. About how long until that will be? My 9800 GTX (yes, I know, I know, shame on me even more) is on its last legs.

Also, yes, I reeeeally wanted to go Sandy Bridge. But for my future-overclocking endeavors, I can't afford the price of the 2500K. My rationale is: get the right chip at the right price that will allow me to overclock if I want and last me ~2 years.


Well the 7970 drops this week from what I've heard. And so far it's been owning 3-D Mark records left and right, and every benchmark thrown at it. I imagine most of the 7XXX line will be no different.

Yeah SB is amazing but it's far more expensive than the rest of the competition. If you want to overclock that's definitely not the way to go.

Quote:
That Thermaltake 680W is good for your build.


Thermaltake makes excellent PSUs from what I've heard. I think the OEM on those is Seasonic but I'm not entirely sure.

Quote:
However, as g-unit noted, would it be worthwhile to wait a bit longer to buy the video card with a new line of Radeon's slated to debut soon?


Well like I said the Radeon 7970 drops this week from what I've been hearing but I don't know when the rest of the line will be out - probably within the next month or so. Unlike the 6770 (which is just the same as the 5770), the 7770 is a new GPU from the ground up with 1 and 2GB options so that would probably be the best option for the price range.
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January 7, 2012 7:13:12 PM

Well, if you want the ability to go multi-card latter on this board is a better investment for only $10 more

ASRock 970 EXTREME4 $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Even if you wait for the newer cards, you won't really see a replacement for the 6870 till around March. If you want something now a 6870 is still good, or you could even just get another 9800 GTX from eBay to run in SLI
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January 8, 2012 6:09:11 PM

megamanx00 - I'm fine with the 6870 for now... But I'm open to suggestions for other brands, or even something different than the 6870. I just happened to land on those specs and pricing.

Tentatively, I'm willing to spend up to $180ish before rebates on a video card if anybody else has thoughts
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January 8, 2012 7:06:56 PM

Jerath said:
megamanx00 - I'm fine with the 6870 for now... But I'm open to suggestions for other brands, or even something different than the 6870. I just happened to land on those specs and pricing.

Tentatively, I'm willing to spend up to $180ish before rebates on a video card if anybody else has thoughts


The only NVIDIA equivalent to the 6870 is the 550TI but even the 2GB model doesn't perform nearly as well as the 6870 does for the price range.
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January 8, 2012 7:12:22 PM

I'd actually suggest this motherboard.
Asrock Extreme3 870
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It's cheap @ only $80 but it'll do the job. It gives you the ability to CF at 8x/8x and it's not a bad board. It has USB 3.0 and SATA 3 plus it'll perform similarly to the 970 you chose mainly because from the 870 to 970 chipset AMD didn't change much performance-wise and overclocking wise (As told by THG)
Oh, and the 870 is AM3+ capable.



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