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A new PC - lots of hard choices

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
June 28, 2005 6:58:48 PM

Hi, I'm going to build a PC soon and came up with the following hardware. Lots of hard choices as usual, mostly on CPU and Graphics Card department:

CPU: AMD Athlon64 X2 4400
Mobo: Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe (Socket 939)
RAM: Corsair 2x512MB TWINX-3200XL
GPU: NVidia 7800 GTX
HDD: Samsung 160GB SATA II (two of these)
DVD+-RW: Plextor PX-716SA (Dual layer, SATA)
CPU Cooler: Titan Vanessa L-Type
PSU: Enermax EG701AX (600W)
Monitor: ViewSonic 19'' TFT VP191B

Obviously, the first four entries are the most crucial and hard to choose. I'm reluctant to buy a single core CPU since the dual core seems to be the new way. I do not get DDR2 because I'm limited to Socket 939 mobo's. I also don't wanna buy an older graphics card but am not entirely sure if NVidia 7800 will do for the time to come ... will it? I'll appreciate any comments, suggestions, anything. My greatest trouble right now is choosing GPU and RAM, I settled on NVidia 7800 and Corsair's 3200XL for now, but maybe ATI X850XL Platinum is more adequate? What is the best cards manufacturing company to go in any case? How about the Corsair's 4400C25 (DDR-550)?

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by AINTD on 06/28/05 03:23 PM.</EM></FONT></P>

More about : lots hard choices

June 28, 2005 8:54:47 PM

If you're getting a SLI mobo you have to get an Nvidia GPU.
If you get the 850XL get an nforce 4 ultra mobo (Epox or DFI)
If you still want to get the SLI board the best choice is the DFI one, I don't remember the exact model but you could do a search in newegg.

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June 28, 2005 9:04:14 PM

-Mobo go with the DFI UT SLI-DR
-Ram go with another brand, corsairs tends to be overpriced
-Video card is a good choice
-Harddrive go with Seagate ones with NCQ, i personally have this thing against Samsung drives, well not without reasons, they do die more frequent than other manu.
-Cooler go with the Thermalright XP120 with a Silverstone 120mm 12fin fan.
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June 28, 2005 10:19:21 PM

Guys, thank you for replying, I'm sure to take your advise.

What do you think of the Thermalright XP 90-C (All copper) and a 90mm fan for it?

What NVidia 7800 brand should I get (or avoid getting?)? I understand that quality of components matters but haven't really been following it to know to see a difference.
June 29, 2005 1:33:12 AM

7800GTX i'd recommend going with EVGA/XFX, those 2 i've seen great review for so far.

For the heatsink, the XP120 is a better performer and it's lighter, so it's a better choice.
June 29, 2005 2:04:37 AM

scottchen, Thank you a lot for your advise. I have a slight problem though: I live in Germany right now and am ordering components online. So far there are only 6 manufacturers of 7800 GTX cards I have found:

ASUS Extreme 7800GTX/TD
MSI NX7800GTX/T2D (V801-009)
PROLINK Pixelview 7800GTX (PV-N70GXE)

They all cost more or less the same, so I really don't know how to choose. Any of those you could consider as good? They all are GeForce 7800GTX / 256MB GDDR3(430/1440MHz) PCI-Express 16x.
June 29, 2005 2:37:11 AM

If they all cost about the same, then i'd go with the Asus, just because they have a longer warranty. Galaxy is a company i've heard of using Arctic Cooling heatsink solutions, but beyond that their cards are ok. Gigabyte and MSI are always above average, they carry same length of warranty as Asus(3 years) but it's much harder to actually speak to a customer personnel. Leadtek is a good brand, a bit shorter warranty 2 years, and bad support. I have no personal experience with Prolink, so can't really comment on that.

If Asus cost about 10 dollars or so than the Gigabyte or the MSI, then go with the Asus, all the brands are fine, with exception of Galaxy and Prolink, which i have no personal experiences with.
June 29, 2005 4:08:52 PM

I would get the Asus

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June 29, 2005 5:03:35 PM

Cool, thank you, I'm getting the Asus then. But overall, do you think that it is OK buying the 7800GTX now? I'm building my PC right now, do you think it's better to go for it and put the best card available? Or put a modest one and wait for several months? Then again, the "modest" one would only cost some 100 Euros less (7800GTX costs 540 Euros), it would have to be quite a modest one to be a reasonable move ...
June 29, 2005 5:12:45 PM

Well I myself picked up the X800XL, where i live is less than half the price of the 7800GTX, reason being, i built a transitional PC, using a 3000+, waiting for price to drop on 4400+, and i got the x800xl, waiting for pricedrop of 7800 series cards and waiting for ATI's product line to come out.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2005 5:53:06 PM

If you can afford it go with a 7800GTX, its the best card around right nowand you can always pop a 2nd on in later(altough thats generally not the best upgrade path).

As for ram I recommand getting OCZ Gold VX, performs really good on nf4. dont get anything over PC3200 if you dont plan on ocing(even if you do the VX will oc well over 500).

Otherwise nice setup you can also consider the seagates barracuda 7200.8/7200.9 good drives.

What case are you goin to use?

Asus P4P800DX, P4C 2.6ghz@3.25ghz, 2X512 OCZ PC4000 3-4-4-8, MSI 6800Ultra stock, 2X30gig Raid0
June 29, 2005 6:24:59 PM

I've been thinking about it. I really want a good PC, but I do not want to make stupid decisions which I will later regret and as much as I like 7800 GTX and its power, I do feel that it's kind of wrong to buy it right now. I have a reasonable big range X800XL cards available at a price which is roughly half the price of 7800 GTX (just like in your case). Any recommendations you could offer?

ATI Radeon RX800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/2xDVI - PCI Express 16x

SAPPHIRE Atlantis X800XL
ATI Radeon RX800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - TVO/DVI - PCI Express 16x

GECUBE Radeon X800XL (GC-X800XL-D3)
ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/1000MHz) - TVO/DVI - PCI Express 16x

ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/2xDVI - PCI Express 16x

ASUS Extreme AX800XL/2DTV
ATI Radeon EAX800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/2xDVI - PCI Express 16x

ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/DVI - PCI Express 16x

GIGABYTE X800XL (GV-RX80L256V) Passiv
ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/DVI - PCI Express 16x

ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/DVI - AGP 8x

ATI Radeon AX800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/DVI - AGP 8x

SAPPHIRE Atlantis X800XL Ultimate Edition
ATI Radeon RX800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - TVO/DVI - PCI Express 16x

ATI Radeon X800XL / 256MB GDDR3 (400/980MHz) - VIVO/DVI - AGP 8x

There are more, like HIS, but their more expensive, these few I mentioned are all within +/-20 Euros range.

By the way, any alternative to Seagate HDD's? We're kind of backward here, they still do not have the latest Barracuda 7200.9 models (3GB/s) and I'm kind of reluctant buying the 7200.8 (1.5GB/s). Or maybe I'll just wait a couple of weeks and see if they bring the new ones in.

Sorry for so many question, I just don't want to screw up building my first PC. :)  I appreciate your help.
June 29, 2005 6:29:35 PM

labbby, I was thinking about a RAID 0 setup using a couple (or maybe 4???) Barracuda's 7200.9 (at 3GB/s), but they only have the 7200.8 drives here, what's your opinion on it?

As for RAM, I can either go for OCZ Plat PC3200 Rev.2, OCZ Gold PC4000 Rev.2 or OCZ PC3200 Gold VX, I have hard time picking. :) 

As for the case, there isn't that much choice here. I wanted and aluminum case and a big one, so I decided on Thermaltake Kandalf. It's pricey but looks good, both aesthetically and functionally.
a b U Graphics card
June 29, 2005 7:10:12 PM

I wouldnt put 4 IDE in raid 0 thats just too risky. If one fails you loose all the information so you have 4X as amny chance to losse all your data!
Rai 0+1 is nice with 4 hd or if available raid5 would be the best solution(if the controller supports it)

I just bought a 7200.8 and it does perform really well alotugh I use it as storage so I didnt really test it touroughly.

Go with the gold VX among the best ram around!
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Asus P4P800DX, P4C 2.6ghz@3.25ghz, 2X512 OCZ PC4000 3-4-4-8, MSI 6800Ultra stock, 2X30gig Raid0
June 29, 2005 7:24:40 PM

Stay away from those thermaltake cases, they tried to copy the Coolermaster Stacker, but failed, so go with the Coolermaster Stacker, it's cheaper and cools a LOT better.
June 29, 2005 7:25:06 PM

Video card go with the Powercolor X800XL.
June 29, 2005 7:26:23 PM

Actually Club3d makes good X800XL too, so i really don't know which 1's better, Club3d or Powercolor, whichever is cheaper.
June 29, 2005 7:27:33 PM

For good performance, i have a pair of 15kRPM SCSI drives, but those cost a lot, so just go with a pair of 76G Raptors on Raid0, that's plenty of speed, then a 200G drive for storage.
June 29, 2005 7:29:02 PM

:(  The prob is there is NO Gold PC 4000 VX. It's either Gold PC 4000 Rev.2 or Gold PC3200 VX. Or Plat PC3200 Rev.2

Yes, it's a DFI UT nF4 SLI-DR mobo, it has RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 for SATA at speeds up to 1.5GB/s (Via Silicon Image Sil 3114 chip). For SATA at 3GB/s it "only" has the RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 (no 5). Do you think I should go with Seagate's 7200.8 then?
June 29, 2005 7:50:37 PM

Go with 4000 if you want highest possible frequency, but there's no way you can get those 2-2-2-7 timings.
June 29, 2005 7:51:40 PM

You're using the onboard controller?! Well you'll get a performance gain, but don't expect any miracles, I personally only use Raid controllers with its own processor, don't like the idea of my CPU power being jacked by the harddrives.
June 29, 2005 8:11:15 PM

Does RAID consume CPU power? It's a dual core afterall. I was kind of thinking that there is an extra chip on mobo that does the RAID thingie, independent from CPU. Any OK controller you'd recommend? That would be too expensive? By the way, should it be the RAID 0 or RAID 5? RAID 5 gives security, RAID 0 - speed, what in your opinion is more critical? RAID 5 needs 3 drives and not all controllers support it I guess.

Then I'm going for OCZ PC4000 Gold Rev.2. I just need to decide, I think there won't be any GREAT difference in either case (Plat PC3200 or Gold PC4000), since I'm a newbie at this, I take your advise with my thanks. :) 
June 29, 2005 9:52:08 PM

By the way, regarding the Thermalright XP 120 cooler: on their site, there's a compatibility page which shows if the coller causes any problems - and it actually does cause troubly for DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 boards - heatpipes abstruct the "first PCI-e slot" as they say, must be the PCI-e x 4 one. Also, I'm not sure, all photos look the same, is the XP 120 actually universal and fits all boards?
June 29, 2005 10:05:40 PM

Hmmm, then it'll have to be XP 90C, for some extra performance ... and a good 90mm fan. Would any fan do or they need to jave a specific design? Also, how is a fan mounted on top of the heatsink? Any special parts needed?

Sorry for never-ending questions and off-topic in this section.
June 29, 2005 10:08:48 PM

Yeah it's true that good controllers are expensive, the SCSI 1 i got costed about 400CDN, but it does come with its own 200mhz processor:D , and my SATA controller has a 133mhz processor, costing just under 300CDN.

In my opinion go Raid0, I have all my harddrives on Raid0, i really don't care if i lose all my data, but that's just me, since all i got on my pc's porn and games:D  (BTW all my important documents are on my notebook and flash drives)
June 29, 2005 10:10:43 PM

Come on just go straight to watercooling, it's only 2x the price of the XP90C, it'll perform much better, and it doesn't require replacement when comes socket upgrade.
June 29, 2005 10:22:47 PM

:D  OK, I guess a 512MB Flash drive would keep all of important stuff, porn and games are indeed expendable. :)  How about Samsung Spinpoint drives then? Like 2 of 160GB in RAID 0 setup? Or I could try and go with a RAID 5 setup (3x100GB) if those Samsung are so bad? Actually, 3 of 160GB Samsung drives will cost me almost the same as 2 of Seagate 7200.8 250GB drives. 500GB in RAID 0 ... or 320 in RAID 5, I guess two Seagates in RAID 0 will do better than 3 Samsungs in RAID 5?

Will the dual core actually help with any possible performance decrease associated with RAID (if I do use the mobo controller)?
June 29, 2005 10:27:18 PM

:D  As for water cooling. Here I'm an absolute newbie once again. If I go for the Coolermaster Stacker tower, is it water cooling ready? What do I need? A pump, some liquid, tubes? Man, it's embarassing, but I just have been way too long away from all the recent technology movements. Water cooling does sound reasonable to me, it's a buy that will last, I just need to know a good value for the money water cooler. I have looked around, nothing specific yet.Besides, an XP 90-C plus a decent fan already come at some 70 Euros for me, so it's not that long of a way towards water cooling ... is it? :) )
June 29, 2005 10:50:10 PM

Hehe, the stacker case is the best case for modding/watercooling, it's designed so you could mount 4 or more radiators without physically modding the case itself. I'll list some things that are cheap and good.

Swiftech MCW6002-64 CPU waterblock
Black Ice Pro 2 radiator
Swiftech MCW50 GPU waterblock
You can pick up all of those from

It's best to have a second heat exchange for your video card, so pick something that can use 120mm fan, like a chevette heatercore, or Dtek Procore.

2 Hydor L35 pumps, you can get them at Wal Mart for about 25USD

Tubings, you just need 1/2 clear vinyl tubing, get 20-30 feet of it from Home Depot or Lowe's they go about a few pennies per foot.

When you get all your parts, i'll give you more detailed instruction on what you need to remove from the case, and what you need to do to get all the radiators mounted.
June 29, 2005 11:28:41 PM

I don't know if to laugh or to cry. :D  The problem is that I live in Germany and am buying online here - i.e. reduced availability compared to US or Canada. I have found a good site that deals with all case modding, it's good but even this site has its limits. I have found components that "sound" like those you mentioned. If you have some time and good will, could you just look at these pages? You don't need to read any German, it's got pics and specs are pretty much readable too.


CPU Water Blocks:

GPU Water Blocks:



This is a site dedicated to everything related to PC cases and case modding, everything I'm getting for my new PC case related, I get it from here. I'm appreciating your time and help, thanks man. This is not urgent, I haven't placed a single order yet, will start doing it in a few days after I finally find a compromise for a good system.
June 30, 2005 12:37:32 AM

Near silent, Hydor pumps makes next to no noise, and the fans i have all make 25dB or less.
June 30, 2005 12:41:55 AM

LOL wtf r u talking about, that site has such a great selection, better than most US sites.

Just took a quick look, there doesn't seem to be too many extreme ripoffs, so just add up what's best for your budget. Just a couple pointers, for radiator go with a thick 1 that takes 2 or 3 120mm fans, The pump go with a 220V pump, rather than a 12V one, The waterblocks selection seems kinda short, and i've never seen those blocks in the store where i get my stuff.
a b U Graphics card
June 30, 2005 1:08:46 PM

I'd say of the X800XL's at his disposal the Sapphire Ultimate would be the best choice. It's quieter, OCs pretty good straight out of the box thanks to the Zalman cooler it comes with, and they come with factory installed ramsinks that actually seem to work for a change.

Just my personal preference. The biggest advanatage of the PC would be the 1.6ns memory, the big drawbacks for me are the power connector of course, and then the noise from the fan (it's on all the time).

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a b U Graphics card
June 30, 2005 2:45:12 PM

I think for your HD setup you should go(like scottchen said) with 2 raptors 74 or 36 for that matter in raid 0(I dont know about you but around 80 gig is plenty for my programs/games/pr0n and other sh1t). And a large storage HD.

BTW Raid 5 is security+ speed(specially when reading). It puts the data on at least 2 drive all the time, you loose space because of parity information too...the more drive you have the better raid5 is. And onboard controller does rely on the cpu but as you mention with dual core it shouldnt matter.

As for ram all the 3 mentionned earlier are good and you wont notice a huge difference but I recommand the PC3200VX as it will OC past PC4000 no problemo!

You gonna have one hell of a rig when your done =)

Asus P4P800DX, P4C 2.6ghz@3.25ghz, 2X512 OCZ PC4000 3-4-4-8, MSI 6800Ultra stock, 2X30gig Raid0
June 30, 2005 4:38:30 PM

Club3d also has some cards with 1.6ns, and i believe all of their VIVO versions comes with the power connector.
a b U Graphics card
June 30, 2005 5:04:08 PM

Club3D = Powercolor, they are both owned by ColourPower and their boards are made by Foxconn. Basically they are the same board.

- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red></A> GA to SK :evil: 
June 30, 2005 5:10:40 PM

Ok, but i still don't recommend the Sapphire card to other people, i got a Sapphire X800XL, 2.0ns ram, no power connector, 425/550 is the highest it'll go, but i've noticed how the core is only get 1.22V, when it should be getting 1.3-1.35V. Planning to volt mod as soon as i get the time.
a b U Graphics card
June 30, 2005 6:34:10 PM

Yes I would agree with most sapphires, especially the regular X800XL, it's HSF is the worst (left over from X700XT). But the Ultimate is a pretty nice card, and it's been reviewing well.

- You need a licence to buy a gun, but they'll sell anyone a stamp <i>(or internet account)</i> ! - <A HREF="" target="_new"><font color=green>RED </font color=green> <font color=red> GREEN</font color=red></A> GA to SK :evil: 
June 30, 2005 7:02:17 PM

Well if the ultimate gets different bios than the standard ones, fine, but the 1.22VVPU is too weak, some Asus X800XL hits 1.41V at stock.
July 1, 2005 10:43:42 AM

Thanks for so many replies and advises, I now have my sytem almost complete ... almost: watercooling is left. :) 

I have a question though - is there a real difference between having two of everything (two radiators, two pumps, two water tanks) for CPU and GPU or you can combine CPU and GPU cooling into one?

What do you think of this setup:

- Hydor Pump L20 / 220V / 700L/h
- Black Ice Pro III Radiator / Fits 3x 120mm fans
- Some water tank
- Thermaltake 208 Copper CPU-Waterblock - Universal (The ONLY one that would fit socket 939 I have available!!!)
- A GPU Waterblock (here I have my doubts - there's a specific X800 (not X800XL, is there a difference physically?) waterblock and then there are a couple of "universal" VGA waterblocks. I'm reluctant buying a specific one since I'll be changing card in a few months, what do you think?)
- 10mm Tubes
- Extra stuff like flow indicator and thermal sensor.

This all can be combined into a single watercooling system that would cool both CPU and GPU. Do you think it will be effective? Or two systems are a must? I know - "the more the better", but this stuff occupies space (there is no way I can see two radiators THAT big fitting into the box) and two complete systems obviously cost a lot more (like almost twice as much :)  ...). So, speaking reasonably, would one system for both CPU and GPU do?

Another question, kind of stupid, yet important: how is all this stuff fixed inside the case? Does the case have any specific holes or holders for this? For instance, how do I fix a radiator or a pump or a water tank? I mean, they won't be just liying around, will they?

That's it, I have found Raptor 73GB HDD's at 10000rpm, SATA 1.5GB/s, will put them in RAID0 then (are they reliable?).

By the way, do I need a Northbridge cooler? A fan for it? Or maybe watercooling?
July 1, 2005 7:21:23 PM

By the way, where does the 220V pump get connected to (power source wise)?
July 1, 2005 8:36:22 PM

That single huge radiator is more than enough, The raptor 74G drives are very reliable, they have 5 years warranty.

Your pump is too weak look for a stronger one, waterblock is okay, but i can't believe they don't have dangerden or swiftech where you live. The GPU block, if it fits X800, it'll fit X800XL, if it says it's universal, it'll fit all ATI cards with mounting holes.

These will all fit in the stacker case, and you don't need a reservoir, you can build it inline to save space like the way i have mine.
July 1, 2005 9:17:55 PM

It's the most powerful 220V pump available. There is a 1500 l/h 12V pump which has a x4 price of Hydor. What's better, to have a water tank and the 700 l/h Hydor pump, or no water tank and a 1500 l/h pump? The 12V one is some 21-25 dBa loud.

Edit: How powerful should it be? 700 l/h is like 3 gallons per minute.
July 1, 2005 9:49:09 PM

water tank is useless...

you should simply buy 2 Hydor L20's and hook them up in a link, and that'll perform very nicely. I myself hate 12V pumps, stick with 220V ones.
July 1, 2005 10:21:02 PM

OK, then the pumps and the radiator are decided. The CPU waterblock has no alternatives. The GPU, the are two "universal" GPU blocks:

You were right when you said the selection is poor.
How strong should the fans be? Considering there'll be 3 of them, in rpm, how much? Like 1500rpm? Or 2000rpm? I'll most certainly connect them to the fan controller, so maybe I slow them down when I do Word typing and turn them up when gaming.

I've also been thinking about putting a thermal sensor to measure the water temperature. It'd be a T connector, the sensor sticking into the free space, I guess I should place it somewhere after the water leaves CPU waterblock?

Also, the whole system will be based on 10/8mm tubes, that' right isn't it?

Should the pumps be connected an outside mains or something?
July 1, 2005 11:40:40 PM

Go with the first block, make sure the tubing size is correct, i'm too lazy to do the conversions, but in imperials, the radiator is designed for 1/2 inch tubings, so is the pump, therefore your blocks must also be designed for 1/2 inch tubing.

There's a quality of fans, some fans can push 110CFM at 30dB, while some can only push 50CFM at 30dB. Get some Panaflo fans at medium rpm if you're getting a fan controller.