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Advice on a £1,200 Gaming PC/HTPC

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June 13, 2010 9:38:34 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next two weeks :bounce: 
BUDGET RANGE: £1,200+ (~1,700 USD)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, watching/ recording TV, watching movies/ dvds, surfing the internet.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Monitor (Using 1080p 40" HDTV, Samsung LE40B530P7WXXU)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: scan.co.uk, dabs.com, ebuyer.co.uk, amazon.co.uk, (any suggestions of recommended websites?)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: England, UK.

PARTS PREFERENCES: As below ;) 

OVERCLOCKING: Yes SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920 × 1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Ideally would like this to be a quiet, elegant, yet powerful beast :D 

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After about a month of investing time reading articles on this website, I've come to the conclusion that your recommended build basically fits my specifications, and consists of the components that I would have put together anyway based on what I have read recently lol.

However, I have made a few specific tweaks here and there to suit my needs and wanted to check that I'm not making any fundamental errors in my decisions before I buy buy buy!

Ideally, I'd like to source all the components on my wishlist :love:  from one website (as far as I know there aren't any decent local retailers in the UK!) to reduce the shipping costs, but would settle for 2 (or 3 when push comes to shove).

So, on to the list:

CPU: BX80605I5750 - Intel Core i5 750, Lynnfield 45nm, Quad Core, 2.66GHz, 8MB Cache, 95W, Retail Planning to o/c this to 4GHz (if poss :) )

CPU COOLER: Thermalright MUX-120 i5 (Socket 1156) inc 4x6mm Heatpipe, 48 Alum Fins cooled via X-Silent 120mm Fan (not too sure on CPU coolers/ heat sinks - any thoughts?)

M/B: Asus P7P55D PRO, Intel P55 Express, S1156, PCI-E 2.0(x16), DDR3 2200(OC), SATA 3Gb/s, SATA RAID, ATX

SYSTEM MEMORY: CMX4GX3M2A1600C9 - 4GB (2x2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600), Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 9-9-9-24, XMP, 1.65V

GRAPHICS: HD-585X-ZABA - 1GB XFX HD 5850 Black, PCI-E 2.0(x16), 4500MHz GDDR5, GPU 765MHz, 1440 Cores, DP/ 2x DL DVI-I/ HDMI :D 

H/D: 1TB Seagate ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200rpm, 32MB Cache, 8.5 ms, NCQ

PSU: 750W Corsair CMPSU-750TX, SLi, Single 12V Rail, Quiet & Cool 80%+ Eff

DVD: Samsung SH-D163C Black, 48x CD-ROM 16x DVD-ROM, SATA, OEM (not too bothered about BluRay, its not very well established IMHO)

CASE: Silverstone Fortress FT02B, Black Full Tower 4.5mm Aluminum Case, w/o PSU (I *heart* this case, looks sleek and stylish, and like the engineering behind the design ;)  unfortunately, I may have to resort to overclockers.co.uk to get this which have a bad rep :(  )

KEYBOARD/MOUSE: (I already have a wired setup for teh gaming ;)  ) for sofa control:
Keysonic KB-ACK-540RF v2 Notebook Cordless Keyboard, Touch Pad Mouse Included, Silver/Black


TV CARD: Either TWO Prof Red Series DVB-S2 7300 PCI (One for recording, one for watching) or TWO Compro VideoMate S350 Digital Satellite TV Analog Tuner + Video/Audio Capture Card

Right! That's the list done with! Now on with the questions:

-Not sure about the memory and what's important in choosing it, are there any considerations on brand, or is it a much of a muchness? Is there much point in getting better spec memory, or is this about right? I'm concerned about the cooling fins interfering with other components (in terms of space) could this be an issue on the ASUS MB with the heat sink specified?

- I assume the CPU cooler is OK with the o/c I am planning on doing (temps range between 18~28degC at home) and the desired case? What's the deal with thermal paste? Is it necessary and can it all go horribly wrong in the wrong hands :o  ?

- In terms of sound, I've got the impression from the site that onboard ought to be just fine for gaming/entertainment, and there's not *much* point in getting a dedicated soundcard (oh, I feel the trolls stirring already :p ). Bearing in mind my last impression of onboard sound was back in the day you *needed* soundcards, I'm suspicious. Can anyone offer some advise in this area? Bear in mind I'd rather have the extra slots than have the creme de la creme of sound candy ;) .

- For TV, I'm planning on getting two DVB-S 1/2 (satellite) tuners to run in MediaPortal (not bothered about Media Centre) in order to record and watch at the same time. Not too sure what's the best option. S2 is the new standard, and I've only found a card from Hong Kong that fits the cost/performance bill, but aren't confident that its for real... The DVB-S 1 option might get out dated fairly soon (depending when/if the standard changes) but seems more reliable. Also concerned about compatibility issues here with PCIe1/2 and drivers etc.

OK. Thanks for listening and feel free to comment on other aspects of the build in general, hope I haven't lost you all :sleep:  !


Kat.







More about : advice 200 gaming htpc

June 14, 2010 12:59:03 AM

You won't need a dedicated sound card unless you work professionally with sound, have very high standards for your sound, or want to take the miniscule amount of work off the CPU.

You say that you don't want to crossfire/SLI, yet both mobo and PSUs choices to me, would suggest that you do, in the future at least. A more appropriate PSU choice to support a single graphics card: Antec Truepower New Modular TP550 £68. Also you'd be perfectly fine on a 650W PSU for two 5850s.

I thought the only thing OCUK had a semi-bad rep for was after sales support? It doesn't matter to me, maybe it does to you.

Quote:
-Not sure about the memory and what's important in choosing it, are there any considerations on brand, or is it a much of a muchness? Is there much point in getting better spec memory, or is this about right? I'm concerned about the cooling fins interfering with other components (in terms of space) could this be an issue on the ASUS MB with the heat sink specified?
Maybe you would like to see what I usually recommend for RAM:
Crucial 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1333MHz/PC3-10600 Ballistix Memory Kit CL7 (7-7-7-24) 1.65V £89.50
G-Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR3 1600MHz/PC3-12800 Ripjaw Memory Kit CL7(7-8-7-24) 1.65V £101.51
Ideally what you will want to get is at least 1333mhz and tight/low timings/CL/Cas Latency, and in the case of Intel CPUs, voltage rated at 1.65V or below. The Crucial set above would probably be similiar in speed to the set in the OP, whereas the G.Skill set would be faster. The Crucial set with shipping would probably cost the same, whereas the G.Skill would cost more, so I'm leaning towards thinking it's not worth changing to either of those.
The only real brand issue you should take into account is that OCZ are known for having difficult to set up RAM atm.
The set you linked doesn't have cooling fins, but if you were to select such a set, then you'd would be problem free if you orientated the heatsink to blow air (in the case of the Silverstone Fortress FT02) up.

Here is a comparison of the Thermalright MUX 120 and some other coolers on a LGA 1156 system:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/lga-1156-heatsink,2...
One cooler it doesn't show which is bound to be competitive in temps and noise (if you pick the right fans) is the Prolimatech Megahalems Rev B which you also probably need to get off OCUK.
Yes you will need some thermal paste. You just need a tiny amount spread very thinly over either the CPU or the base of the heatsink. I think problems occur when electrically conductive paste is over applied and seeps onto the mobo.
June 14, 2010 9:51:51 PM

Thanks for the quick reply Silvune!

I feel re-assured about the sound issue, I think I'll stick with onboard ;) 

My bad on the memory fins, if they're not required I think I'll steer clear just to be sure of no space issues :) . Might have another look into my options in terms of spec, starting with your suggestions!

In terms of heat sinks, there appear to be a lot of options, the reason why I'm leaning towards the Thermalright MUX 120 is because of the noise performance, though I'm guessing the GPU fan will probably drown out everything else at full load, heh. I'll have to check out some reviews of the one you suggested, I'm interested in how the two perform against each other. Considering the Thermalright heat sink gave a temperature of 61 degC above ambient, do you think it's a safe choice (given temperatures here are unlikely to exceed 30degC). Cooking my CPU wasn't on my list of things to do :lol:  !

Quote:
You say that you don't want to crossfire/SLI, yet both mobo and PSUs choices to me, would suggest that you do, in the future at least. A more appropriate PSU choice to support a single graphics card: Antec Truepower New Modular TP550 £68. Also you'd be perfectly fine on a 650W PSU for two 5850s.


Truth be told, I am considering crossfire/SLI in the future, though can't say for def the if/how/when atm. I didn't realise I overspec'd the PSU by such a degree... I assume an 750W supply would consume as much power as a 650W unit, only it would be capable of supplying more if required, is this correct? I'm tempted by the potential saving, especially if it will save on the electricity bills!

Quote:
I thought the only thing OCUK had a semi-bad rep for was after sales support? It doesn't matter to me, maybe it does to you.

Yeah, hit the nail on the head there! I guess it's fine so long as nothing goes wrong, but would rather steer clear if I can :) . Looks like most sites sting you for shipping costs at the very least if something comes damaged / DOA, it would be useful to know who offer the best customer service when things *do* go south! I guess you could say I'm paranoid, but I like to play things safe ;) .


Thanks for the help!
Anyone got any advice on the TV cards? :p 

Kat.

Related resources
June 16, 2010 6:34:11 PM

kittykat1999 said:
In terms of heat sinks, there appear to be a lot of options, the reason why I'm leaning towards the Thermalright MUX 120 is because of the noise performance, though I'm guessing the GPU fan will probably drown out everything else at full load, heh. I'll have to check out some reviews of the one you suggested, I'm interested in how the two perform against each other. Considering the Thermalright heat sink gave a temperature of 61 degC above ambient, do you think it's a safe choice (given temperatures here are unlikely to exceed 30degC). Cooking my CPU wasn't on my list of things to do :lol:  !
Yea it should be fine. And with the airflow of a good case, it's likely to be less over ambient, which reviews often don't have. With something like the Prolimatech Megahalems you can choose the fans, so you might be able to get even quieter fans, but that is another area of research.
I have high expectations of the fan on the 5850 you linked, and 5850s are generally quite quiet for the power they give - altho you are right it will be the loudest thing in your case.

Quote:
Truth be told, I am considering crossfire/SLI in the future, though can't say for def the if/how/when atm. I didn't realise I overspec'd the PSU by such a degree... I assume an 750W supply would consume as much power as a 650W unit, only it would be capable of supplying more if required, is this correct? I'm tempted by the potential saving, especially if it will save on the electricity bills!
Another advantage of a higher wattage PSU than you 'need' is that it will be stressed even less and potentially be quieter. Altho you'd hardly have been stressing a 650W PSU with two 5850s anyway.

Quote:
Yeah, hit the nail on the head there! I guess it's fine so long as nothing goes wrong, but would rather steer clear if I can :) . Looks like most sites sting you for shipping costs at the very least if something comes damaged / DOA, it would be useful to know who offer the best customer service when things *do* go south! I guess you could say I'm paranoid, but I like to play things safe ;) .
Scan seem to have the best reputation for that.

Hopefully this bump will get someone else's attention for the TV bit.
June 17, 2010 8:10:06 AM

Right, I'll do this to a £1000 quid build, as the SS FT02 will cost you close to £200 anyway.

At 19*12 res, Crossfire / SLI is the best way to get the perforamace you need at a sensible price.

Back in 20 with a build
June 17, 2010 8:48:32 AM

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This build gives you the processor you wanted. You will have to buy the TRUE and the FT02 from Scan. But has Crossfire and RAID incorporated, with a power supply that supplies 4 * 6 Pin PCI power leads (hard to find a good make power supply around the 650watt range with 4-6Pin Leads). 4GB of CL8 RAM from Crucial and a MB that will not only allow OC to 4.0 GHz, but PCIe Lanes in x8-x8.

Quick note on the GPUs, you can buy cheaper 5770s, but with the FT02 case design you will have alot of air going from bottom to top of case, these GPUs have the shrouds on them, that will allow this air flow to work as a 'air tunnel' through the GPUs and will severly decrease the temps to which they run at.
Let me know what you think
June 17, 2010 1:28:36 PM

The better motherboard is this: ASUS P7P55D-E PRO And the non 'E' version has two PCI-E slots at dual x8. And this one doesn't have any problems when using the second slot and using USB3/SATA 6Gbps devices, unlike the Gigabyte board you suggested.
Quote:
(hard to find a good make power supply around the 650watt range with 4-6Pin Leads).
Here's four: Corsair HX 650, Antec Truepower New TP650, Antec Earthwatts EA750 (which only has 670 watts on it's 12V rails, so I believe counts as a 650W PSU, it is also priced similiarly) and the XFX 650W XXX Edition. Also if you are suggesting that she run two 5770s, she would only need a good 550W PSU for that.
Quote:
At 19*12 res, Crossfire / SLI is the best way to get the perforamace you need at a sensible price.
Her monitor is 1920x1080... which a 5850 is perfectly capable at, and only slightly worse than two 5770s. Also by staying with a single card you don't have to worry about the vagaries of crossfire drivers or games being crossfire optimised, and you have two upgrade options when that one card becomes insufficient - replace with a more powerful single card or buy another 5850. Rather than being forced into replacing two cards or build a whole new rig.
Quote:
Quick note on the GPUs, you can buy cheaper 5770s, but with the FT02 case design you will have alot of air going from bottom to top of case, these GPUs have the shrouds on them, that will allow this air flow to work as a 'air tunnel' through the GPUs and will severly decrease the temps to which they run at.
Like I said above I don't think getting 5770s is a good idea. The only advantage getting one or two 5770s is maybe less noise. If you're going to pick a 5770 because it is quiet then get the Vapor-X version as those only produce ~30dBA on loud and idle. However I don't know what the impact would be of having two of them.
June 18, 2010 7:07:03 AM

Some interesting posts here :) . Thanks everyone!

I have to agree with Silvune in terms of getting a single 5850. Going for a dual card setup for a small gain in performance/ saving probably doesn't justify the extra setup time and potential compatibility issues. I think the single card setup will provide more options in the future, especially if crossfiring becomes more mainstream by then.

Interesting point about the orientation of the airflow helping cool the GPU, Cygone. If this is significant, would this ultimately reduce the noise of the GPU? I am assuming the fan speed is proportional to temperature, not load. Is this the case?

Looks like Scan or Aria are my primary options for buying in the UK then, thanks guys :D .

Quote:
With something like the Prolimatech Megahalems you can choose the fans, so you might be able to get even quieter fans, but that is another area of research.


He he, more research, there's always more research!

Quote:
The better motherboard is this: ASUS P7P55D-E PRO And the non 'E' version has two PCI-E slots at dual x8. And this one doesn't have any problems when using the second slot and using USB3/SATA 6Gbps devices


So, the 'E' version has no problems with running dual PCI-E slots at 8x and SATA 6Gbps/USB3, whereas the non-'E' version does?

Quote:
You'd hardly have been stressing a 650W PSU with two 5850s anyway.


Looks like a 650W PSU seems like a more sensible option then :) .

Thanks for your continuing efforts guys, I'll try to keep up, bit overloaded at work ATM.

Kat.

June 18, 2010 1:29:27 PM

The Asus P7P55D Pro doesn't have SATA6Gbps/USB3. If both slots are filled they will run at x8 speed no problem. The Gigabyte P55A series of mobos have a bad implementation of SATA6G/USB3, which means that you can only use either a second graphics card or SATA6G/USB3 without getting reduced bandwidth to those devices.
The E version has also done away with the foxconn sockets which people have had problems with when OCing. The last time I brought this up someone said that it was only an issue when OCing past 4Ghz. I haven't read any follow up articles about it, so I don't know if is a long term problem or not. And some people did notice small 'burn' marks on the socket even tho they didn't OC.

Pretty sure that you would have to control the fan speed manually via CCC or a third party OCing tool like Rivatuner to reduce the fan speed. I think it would be worth a shot in a well ventilated case.

A note on harddrives. The majority of the Caviar blacks have platters below 500GB in size, it is usually a good principle to buy drives with high areal density. The Samsung Spinpoint F3, Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 use 500GB platter(s) along with the Caviar Black 1TB FAEX and 2TB. The SS and SB are pretty much the best choices as they are faster, quieter and cheaper usually than WD drives.
June 19, 2010 11:42:33 AM

Good point on the SATA6/USB on the GByte boards, they steal PCIe lanes that would other wise be used by the GPU sub-system.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5770,2446...

^^ Shows benchmarks of 5850 vs 5770 crossfire, the 5770 are significantly faster at the 19*12 res (about 25%).

In reference to the power supplies noted by Silvune above, I couldnt find the spec sheet on the Corsair HX 650 (infact it was the PSU i was going to suggest). This would be the best of the power supply mentioned.

However, your point about no upgrade path from 2x5770 is mute, because ATi are more flexible than nVidia, you can crosfire any 5xxx series card with any other.

Nice point on the HDD tho Silvune, you certaintly want a disc (s) that incorporate only 1 platter (basically 1 write platform like a CD, rather than multiple platters- 2 CDs on top of each other)
June 23, 2010 7:21:15 AM

Interesting point about crossfiring being more flexible, that does open up more upgrade options, assuming they don't discontinue the 5xxx series before I decide to upgrade! The 5770s do look like they equal/beat the 5850 in that comparison. Need to look at the price difference/ power consumption and make a decision based on that.

Currently, I'm looking to get a latest gen 1TB HDD in order to have space for recording TV. Not sure if any manufacturer makes a HDD with that capacity on a single platter (it seems unlikely from what you say), but in terms of price per Gb I don't think I could justify the cost of 2x 500Gb drives over buying a single 1TB HDD for an increase in performance (if there is any in this comparison).

As for motherboard choices, I think I'll stay clear of the non 'E' version (burn marks eeeee :o  !) and the Gigabyte offering and go with the Asus P7P55D Pro E :) .

The Corsair HX 650 was an option I was considering, and if you guys think that 750W is unnecessary, then I think I'll go for that over my original choice.
June 23, 2010 1:17:00 PM

Ok now I'm going to need clarification of this crossfiring thing. Can you put a 5870 and 5770 together and have the 5870 not downclock? What's the point in buying a more powerful card to go with a less powerful one if you don't get the speed out of it that it is capable of?
I reiterate what I wrote before, buying one card now gives you more flexibility.
I believe that the only game in those benchmarks where the crossfire 5770s provide playable framerates where the single 5850 did not is in the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. - Clear Sky DX10 4xAA test.

ATM 500GB is the highest areal density available in the consumer market.

The XFX 650W PSU is quite a bit cheaper on ebuyer and is just as good quality as the HX 650.
June 23, 2010 4:29:49 PM

Silvune, yes with ATI, and 2 of the 5xxx series card can work in crossfire and you get the speed of A+B (little less due to scaling of course), however with nVidia you must have the same e.g 2x260s or 2x275s and 260 + 275 will not work.

500gb platters are the biggest, basically 1 500gb drive reads faster than 1tb drive, but its milliseconds difference
June 23, 2010 4:37:54 PM

I did not know that thank you.
!