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Help needed for first homebuild - ~£2000/$3000 workhorse

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Anonymous
June 25, 2010 11:42:57 AM

Hey,

I'm planning to build my first PC with a budget of around £2000 ($3000) including monitor and mouse keyboard etc. I'm looking for a multi-purpose PC with some pretty top-notch and future proof specs.

Things i will be using the Pc for:
- Some gaming (possibly with 3d capabilities)
- Photo (and a little video) editing
- Some fairly serious multi-tasking, downloading, webbrowsing etc
- a base for a HTPC (possibly with a 3d projector somewhere down the line...)
- Quiet!! i really want this PC to be as quiet as possible.

I've got afew ideas with regards to parts, but im pretty clueless in some areas, so any suggestions would be great :) 

CPU: Thinking of Intel i7 930 for high performance. Quite tempted by the 980x but cant really justify the price.

GPU: a single ATI 5970 seems like a pretty darn good start. Leaving the option for buying another for x-fire if the need arises further down the line. Is it worth the money?

MOBO: Gigabyte seems like a good choice but can anyone recommend a specific one? Looking for all the usual top-end features plus a fair bit of room for upgrades.

PSU: Probably looking for slightly over-powered unit for upgradability but any suggestions?

HDDs: Looking for a large (2tb ish) drive for storage plus one or two velociraptors for boot and apps. Dont think SSDs are quite there yet in terms of price to performance bt could be a future upgrade. Any tips?

Cooling: Thinking of going down the water-cooling path to minimise noise maybe a kit like Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT Liquid Kit?

RAM: At least 6gb ddr3, which brand is good?

Case: Probably looking at a full tower to fit in watercooling etc with space for upgrades. Nothing too flashy or covered in LEDS.

Monitor: 24" LCD possibly with 3D capabilitites? i think Acer have a model out?

Sounds card: I'm quite into my music so thinking it might be worth investing in a separate sound card with at least 7.1, afew inputs etc. any thoughts?

Quite afew question marks in there... I'd be really grateful for any tips/knowledge you guys could impart!

Thanks
James
June 25, 2010 1:50:26 PM

CPU: Definitely the i7-930. You're doing absolutely nothing that the 980X would be useful for.

GPU: The 5970 is good, but it doesn't support 3D very well. However, the alternative (GTX 480) is a bad choice as it's underpowered, overpriced and a power hungry beast. It's not anything close to quiet. To put it another way, if gaming and quiet are more important to you than the 3D and editing, go with the 5970. If not, get the 480.

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R. It's the best out there, very future proof and fairly cheap.

PSU: Depends on the GPU. If you get a 5970, you'd want a 850W. If you gt the 480, you'd want a 1000W. Just make sure it's from any of the following: Corsair, Antec, SeaSonic, and Silverstone.

HDDs: VRs are completely worthless right now. The 500 GB platter models (Samsung Spinpoint F3, Seagate 7200.12, some WD Caviar Blacks) are just as fast and a third of the price. I'd personally go with several Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB to hold your data and a single 80 GB or 128 GB SSD (or two 80 GBs in RAID 0). SSDs are expensive, but they're ridiculous in terms of performance. With your budget, you'd be remiss not to get a SSD. Stick with Intel or OCZ for the SSD, as they're currently the best (Intel's 80 GB is the best on the market right now).

Cooling: Water cooling is generally a waste of money. Doing it cheap means cutting corners, which is just asking for something to go wrong. Doing it right means spending $300ish on the system and an extra $100 on the GPU. I'd recommend grabbing a good HSF (like the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus, Prolimatech Megahalems or Sycthe Mugen) and going with air cooling.

RAM: G.Skill is excellent, but can be hard to find outside the US. Really, the only brand to avoid is OCZ, as they have compatibility problems, especially with Intel systems. Make sure to get 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 sticks (or if you can find them, G.Skill Trident 2000 mhz CL 9 are a little better).

Case: HAF 922. It's one of the few cases that don't cost an arm and a leg that will fit massive cards. It is pretty ugly looking though. Another one of my favorites is the Coolermaster Cosmos, but it can be pricey.

Monitor: No idea here. I tend to look at the 23" sizes as once you get above that the price becomes unreasonable. I also don't personally think 3D is going to be that big for several years. I'd say it's likely still five years from being desirable.

Sound: Most boards have great onboard sound that supports 7.1. Chances are good that you won't be able to tell a difference. Cheap cards aren't going to be better, so it'll cost you. I'd try it out first before shelling out for a discrete card.
June 25, 2010 2:06:33 PM

actually, if you arent going to be a fanatic gamer, i would go with the 1090T over the i7 930. but madadmiral is right, 980x is a waste either way. soooo:

CPU: id go with the 1090T

GPU: Go with the 5970, better overall, and for the reasons he said.

MOBO: Go with the MSI 890 FX, or this:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MB...

PSU: needs to be atleast 750 watts, preferably a corsair, antec, ocz, silverstone, seasonic, or seventeam.

HDD: +1 to madadmiral, get the samsung F3:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD...

and a good ocz ssd:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=HD...

Cooling: water cooling is the best, but its also expensive and a hassle. if you want super over clocking, its may be worth it, but if u want an easy setup that can achieve a very close oc, get a good air cooler. however, if you want quite, water cooling mya be the way to go.

RAM: get good 1600 MHz, as close to 7-7-7, and low voltage ram, like this:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY...

Case: hahaha, the HAF 922 is like the pickup truck of cases, UGLY, but good and gets the job done very well. if it were up to me, id get one of these 2:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA...

Monitor:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MO...

or any 23-30 inch monitor (probably 23-27) that has a response time at or under 5 ms, HD, and good contrast ration/LED backlight.



Related resources
June 25, 2010 2:11:13 PM

btw, personally, i dont like gigabyte, i perfer MSI, and ASUS as far as mobos. also, when u say you dont think ssds are there yet as far as performance, ur kidding right??? ssds are so far past hdds and veloraptors as far as performance its crazy. the raptor is a MASSIVE waste of money, i cant see any useful application for one.
June 25, 2010 2:13:30 PM

MadAdmiral said:
CPU: Definitely the i7-930. You're doing absolutely nothing that the 980X would be useful for.

GPU: The 5970 is good, but it doesn't support 3D very well. However, the alternative (GTX 480) is a bad choice as it's underpowered, overpriced and a power hungry beast. It's not anything close to quiet. To put it another way, if gaming and quiet are more important to you than the 3D and editing, go with the 5970. If not, get the 480.

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R. It's the best out there, very future proof and fairly cheap.

PSU: Depends on the GPU. If you get a 5970, you'd want a 850W. If you gt the 480, you'd want a 1000W. Just make sure it's from any of the following: Corsair, Antec, SeaSonic, and Silverstone.

HDDs: VRs are completely worthless right now. The 500 GB platter models (Samsung Spinpoint F3, Seagate 7200.12, some WD Caviar Blacks) are just as fast and a third of the price. I'd personally go with several Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB to hold your data and a single 80 GB or 128 GB SSD (or two 80 GBs in RAID 0). SSDs are expensive, but they're ridiculous in terms of performance. With your budget, you'd be remiss not to get a SSD. Stick with Intel or OCZ for the SSD, as they're currently the best (Intel's 80 GB is the best on the market right now).

Cooling: Water cooling is generally a waste of money. Doing it cheap means cutting corners, which is just asking for something to go wrong. Doing it right means spending $300ish on the system and an extra $100 on the GPU. I'd recommend grabbing a good HSF (like the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus, Prolimatech Megahalems or Sycthe Mugen) and going with air cooling.

RAM: G.Skill is excellent, but can be hard to find outside the US. Really, the only brand to avoid is OCZ, as they have compatibility problems, especially with Intel systems. Make sure to get 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 sticks (or if you can find them, G.Skill Trident 2000 mhz CL 9 are a little better).

Case: HAF 922. It's one of the few cases that don't cost an arm and a leg that will fit massive cards. It is pretty ugly looking though. Another one of my favorites is the Coolermaster Cosmos, but it can be pricey.

Monitor: No idea here. I tend to look at the 23" sizes as once you get above that the price becomes unreasonable. I also don't personally think 3D is going to be that big for several years. I'd say it's likely still five years from being desirable.

Sound: Most boards have great onboard sound that supports 7.1. Chances are good that you won't be able to tell a difference. Cheap cards aren't going to be better, so it'll cost you. I'd try it out first before shelling out for a discrete card.


I pretty much agree with everthing above (really nice rig), go for a 5970 card, it is way quieter than a 480, uses less power,and runs alot cooler, (Which is important if you want a quet case)
If you really must go for a 480, then this is the best version, as it does not run hot , even if it does cost a bit more.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/graphics/2010/06/21/zo...

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=GX...

Case wise, the Haf 922 is fantastic (i have one) but it really isnt quiet, its designed for max cooling and min temps.

If you want a super quet case, then go for this Fractal Design R2 case. The review says that it is really quiet, but does run hotter. (whis is to be expected as it is covered in sound insulating foam.) If you want to keep the temps down, add even more fans)

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2010/01/15/fractal-des...

http://www.quietpc.com/gb-en-gbp/products/ultragrade/fd...
June 25, 2010 2:19:09 PM

Good recommendations by MadAdmiral - I wish to add my experience with X-Fi - because of problems, I reverted to the on-board integrated sound which was fine in the first place.

All high end boards have excellent on-board sound.
June 25, 2010 3:29:47 PM

Be wary that the fan on the 5970 at higher rpms is quite loud- imagine an xbox 360 fan but a little louder :) 

My advice for the SSD is to start with an intel 80gb boot drive (and primary programs) only for now. The cost is simply too high per gb to be worthwhile for gaming and general data storage. SSDs are advancing extremely rapidly, so expect bigger (and cheaper) SSDs to be released constantly over the next year.
June 25, 2010 3:57:46 PM

@ares: The 1090T is a horrible CPU for gaming. It's worse than the X4 955. It also wouldn't be any better than the i7-930 at anything...

I'd also say the general consensus is that the two top board manufacturers are Gigabyte and Asus, followed by MSI and EVGA. Gigabyte consistently gets the recommendations from Tom's too. Specifically, the UD3R beat out several other Asus boards when the did the last review.
June 25, 2010 3:59:18 PM

the 1090T is not horrible for gaming, its just not as good. its pretty much a 955 in gaming. and funny, since it actually IS better than the 930 in things, A LOT of things.
June 25, 2010 4:03:53 PM

It isn't better than the i7-930 in many things. Did you even look at the reviews? The X6 1090T was better in was some of the synthetic benchmarks, which unless you can tell by the name, mean absolutely nothing. Even then, it was consistently being beaten by the i7-920 (which is worse than the 930). Outside of the synthetics, a X6 victory was rare, and mostly in programs that don't make use of hyperthreading. Even then, when it is in front, it's by a margin that's basically nothing.

Regardless, the X6 CPUs are on par (for gaming) with the X4 955. That right there makes the statement that is is horrible for gaming true. The X6 1090T costs $300. The X4 955 cost $160. So for your extra $140, you get NOTHING. That's not even considering that for $290 you can get the i7-930, which is better in pretty much every way.
June 25, 2010 4:23:29 PM

yes, i looked at ALL the benchmarks. i see the 1090T winning in more than half of those, and losing in most of the gaming, but not by a terribly large margin. considering the 1090T is more future proof, cheaper, cooler, and uses less power than the i7, its overall better, or at the very worst equal to the i7.
Anonymous
June 25, 2010 4:46:50 PM

Thanks for the replies, some really useful info.

In terms of cooling, im pretty keen to go down the water cooling route mainly for noise reduction. I dont mind spending abit extra for this and figured the best route for my first build would be getting a kit. Anyone got any experiences or recommendations? Swiftech H20-220 Ultima XT seemed to get some good writeups.

Ok so velociraptors not a good idea, can anyone persuade me that SSDs are a mature enough tech to warrant taking the plunge? i can afford it, i was maybe thinking higher capacity prices might be coming down in the near future so to hold out for a bit?

Does anyone have any experiences with 3d monitors? i'm quite keen to try out the possibilities?

Cheers
June 25, 2010 9:08:00 PM

@ Jim:

1) Water cooling isn't going to do any better than air unless you throw about $300-$400 into it. Much more risky than air as well.

2) At this price range, you should get an Intel 80gb boot drive. Anything over than that is not worth it for gaming at the current market prices. This is especially true as SSDs are advancing in size and speed very rapidly, and prices will steadily decline (faster than other products) for another year or two. The price/GB is simply too much right now to be worthwhile.

3) Don't invest too much in 3d monitors yet; it's a new technology, not many games/apps will support it, and much higher quality goods will come out here in the next few years.
June 25, 2010 10:22:43 PM

I did a pretty rough build earlier before this thread had any responses and I was at £1600, without monitor, peripherals, SSD or WCing. A good SSD will be £200, so £200 for everything else is nothing.

I wouldn't convince someone to get an SSD when their budget is getting pressurized like that.
June 25, 2010 10:47:26 PM

No reason he can't fit an 80gb SSD into a $3,000 build.
June 25, 2010 10:59:41 PM

You pretty much can't spend more than $2,000 without including a SSD. Unless you're buying extremely massive HDDs or more RAM than you'll ever actually need. A build with this budget would be severely lacking if a SSD wasn't included...
June 25, 2010 11:14:59 PM

but he's going watercooling :]

but i agree, ssd would be nice in a build like this.. get another f3 hd for other program/games storage

i have no idea on the corsair water cooling that you referenced since i built a custom loop on my comp
June 26, 2010 2:39:26 AM

Quote:

I'm planning to build my first PC with a budget of around £2000 ($3000) including monitor and mouse keyboard etc. I'm looking for a multi-purpose PC with some pretty top-notch and future proof specs.
:


I agree with most of what the Mad Admiral said, he's pretty spot-on. Personally, I was in about the same position as you earlier this year, trying to figure out what to buy among the thousands of options available. I narrowed it down to an ASUS P7P55D-E mobo with an overclocked i7-860, runs like the wind. Your hard drive choice will greatly affect the performance of your system, since that is hands-down the bottleneck in many operations (app loading, saving, etc). SSDs sound great, but are very expensive as everyone notes... I went with a RAID-10 mirror of stripes, re-using 4 x 500GB enterprise Barracudas for a very fast, mirrored terabyte of storage.

Anyway, I blogged about it, including the tradeoffs between the i7-860 and the i7-920/930, and the selection and runners-up of all the components I used: http://bit.ly/9weyOT

I also wanted my system to be quiet. Check out fans by Nexus and SilenX.

Hope it's helpful... Keith
June 26, 2010 5:05:03 AM

Remember that this is a 2000 pound budget, rather than a 3000 dollar budget, makes quite a difference. The only major saving to get proper WCing and an SSD into the budget would be to get a 5870 rather than a 5970.
!