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Iorwerth
Posted: Fri 05 Jan 2007 11:54 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 13 Nov 2006 Posts: 179 Location: Jax, FL
I'm looking to build a new PC. The purpose of this thread is to present my plans and encourage discussion about the various design choices I face. It has been a long time since I've built a machine, so I'm having to reconnect with current technology. Like all such projects I undertake, I plan to obsess over minutiae for at least a month before I begin purchasing the components. Nothing, here, is set in stone--if you want to challenge any of my decisions, please do! However, this is my machine to build, so don't be too disappointed if I reject some suggestions. Smile
Design Principles
  • The machine is for gaming, primarily.
  • The machine should give years of service before becoming obsolete.
  • The machine should cost less than $3,000.00.
Design Decisions
  • With Windows Vista on the horizon, the machine should be Vista-capable. Additionally, the machine should never have any older OS installed, since the upgrade to Vista has proven to be less reliable than a clean installation (as has been true for every other version of Windows, with the possible exception of Win ME). Thus, I won't be looking to purchase some components until after Vista becomes available on Jan 30, 2007 so I can purchase an OEM version along with the hardware.
  • The Intel LGA 775 Duo Core and Quad Core are the current processor performance champs (which makes an AMD fan a sad panda). My best price point is likely the E6700 Conroe 2.66GHz 4M sharing L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor ($509.00 from Newegg).
  • The NVidia 680i SLI chipset is the first chipset for this architecture that allows dual x16 PCI Express SLI graphics card setups, so the motherboard used should have this chipset. The Asus Striker Extreme ($409.99 from Newegg) is the current champ, though other mobo's are due out shortly (Abit's IN9 32X-MAX, for example). Given the newness of the chipset, I'll wait til much closer to build time before I really decide on a board.
  • To help forestall obselescence, the video card(s) must be DirectX 10 capable. Currently, there are two cards on the market that meet this requirement, both from NVidia. The GeForce 8800GTX ($589.99 for the eVGA from Newegg) is the top video card, though a cheaper 8800GTS ($429.99 for the eVGA from Newegg) offers excellent performance at a much more reasonable price. I may go with the cheaper card, with the idea that I could install a second of the same later in an SLI setup if needed.
  • 2Gb should provide sufficient memory for Vista. The Corsair site recommends the TWIN2X2048-6400C4 ($276.00 from Newegg) for the Striker Extreme, and I expect that should hold true for any of the 680i mobo's. I'll take a much closer look at this when I've chosen the mobo.
  • An SLI setup requires a power supply that can drive two graphics cards. One that is shown as SLI-approved is the Cooler Master Real Power Pro RS-850-EMBA ATX12V/EPS12V 850W Power Supply ($269.99 from Newegg).
Undecided
  • RAID 0 SATA Raptors?
  • New case, or cannibalize my wife's old Antec case?
  • Onboard sound (all mobo's seem to come with sound these days), or dedicated sound card?
  • New speakers?
  • What about that physics processor (Ageia PhysX)?

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Tetsuos
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 1:40 am Reply with quote
Joined: 17 Jul 2005 Posts: 1537 Location: Virginia
mmmm antec cases are good. why go through buying a new case when one works already?

onboard sound is fine unless you are a fps player and need to hear a footstep 5.3m away that is 3.6 degrees NNE of you.

new speakers are always a plus.

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Elerine
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 1:55 am Reply with quote
Officer Emerita Joined: 23 Jun 2005 Posts: 2877 Location: The Exodar
While I am certainly no techy genius, I have heard that onboard sound (which I have!) actually puts a bunch of stress on your CPU so you get lower performance or whatever! Confirm/deny!

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Allegiance
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 2:08 am Reply with quote
Draconomaniacon Joined: 29 Jun 2005 Posts: 1927 Location: The other dark corner
Onboard sound cards are crap in my experience, more often than not. But I'm something of a purist for sound quality.

Depending on how far you go with your stereo system, you might also want to think about that onboard sound also rarely supports true 5.1 systems.

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Nightbreeze
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 2:45 am Reply with quote
Affinity for Tigers Joined: 22 Sep 2005 Posts: 973 Location: Forest full of Trees
When i rebuilt my machine i was worried about cooling and ended up getting a Luan Li p-60 case. It is amazing, and after looking at the fans i would need to put in or replace in the other cases i liked, it was well worth it to get the Luan Li. Also Removable Motherboard tray FTW!

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Rylle
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 3:20 am Reply with quote
ZOMG! Orange Hammer! Joined: 22 Jun 2005 Posts: 3574 Location: THE DUNGEON OF BEARS
Onboard sound is for suckers. A quality gaming sound card will run you less than $100; you'll get better quality and (don't quote me on this) less CPU load, like Elerine said.

I honestly haven't heard much about seperate physics processors yet. I'd think they're only useful for the bloodiest of the bleeding edges, though, and that most games aren't being made in such a manner to take advantage of a physics processor yet.

Honestly, I think getting one at this point is just buying into sinister marketing designed to take advantage of gamers. Shocked In a few years, though, maybe. (Unfortunately. Like we need another $300 piece of crap to replace every few years.)
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Varali
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 8:35 am Reply with quote
Joined: 10 Oct 2006 Posts: 138
Iorwerth wrote:
I'm looking to build a new PC. The purpose of this thread is to present my plans and encourage discussion about the various design choices I face. It has been a long time since I've built a machine, so I'm having to reconnect with current technology. Like all such projects I undertake, I plan to obsess over minutiae for at least a month before I begin purchasing the components. Nothing, here, is set in stone--if you want to challenge any of my decisions, please do! However, this is my machine to build, so don't be too disappointed if I reject some suggestions. Smile
Design Principles
  • The machine is for gaming, primarily.
  • The machine should give years of service before becoming obsolete.
  • The machine should cost less than $3,000.00.
Design Decisions
  • With Windows Vista on the horizon, the machine should be Vista-capable. Additionally, the machine should never have any older OS installed, since the upgrade to Vista has proven to be less reliable than a clean installation (as has been true for every other version of Windows, with the possible exception of Win ME). Thus, I won't be looking to purchase some components until after Vista becomes available on Jan 30, 2007 so I can purchase an OEM version along with the hardware.
  • The Intel LGA 775 Duo Core and Quad Core are the current processor performance champs (which makes an AMD fan a sad panda). My best price point is likely the E6700 Conroe 2.66GHz 4M sharing L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor ($509.00 from Newegg).
  • The NVidia 680i SLI chipset is the first chipset for this architecture that allows dual x16 PCI Express SLI graphics card setups, so the motherboard used should have this chipset. The Asus Striker Extreme ($409.99 from Newegg) is the current champ, though other mobo's are due out shortly (Abit's IN9 32X-MAX, for example). Given the newness of the chipset, I'll wait til much closer to build time before I really decide on a board.
  • To help forestall obselescence, the video card(s) must be DirectX 10 capable. Currently, there are two cards on the market that meet this requirement, both from NVidia. The GeForce 8800GTX ($589.99 for the eVGA from Newegg) is the top video card, though a cheaper 8800GTS ($429.99 for the eVGA from Newegg) offers excellent performance at a much more reasonable price. I may go with the cheaper card, with the idea that I could install a second of the same later in an SLI setup if needed.
  • 2Gb should provide sufficient memory for Vista. The Corsair site recommends the TWIN2X2048-6400C4 ($276.00 from Newegg) for the Striker Extreme, and I expect that should hold true for any of the 680i mobo's. I'll take a much closer look at this when I've chosen the mobo.
  • An SLI setup requires a power supply that can drive two graphics cards. One that is shown as SLI-approved is the Cooler Master Real Power Pro RS-850-EMBA ATX12V/EPS12V 850W Power Supply ($269.99 from Newegg).
Undecided
  • RAID 0 SATA Raptors?
  • New case, or cannibalize my wife's old Antec case?
  • Onboard sound (all mobo's seem to come with sound these days), or dedicated sound card?
  • New speakers?
  • What about that physics processor (Ageia PhysX)?


... Shocked

*brain explodes*

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rhynn
Posted: Sat 06 Jan 2007 11:21 am Reply with quote
Kitty on a Smoke Break Joined: 23 Jun 2005 Posts: 971
People, even Microsoft, are really upplaying the requirements for Vista. Vista isn't quite as hardware heavy as people say it is... in fact, it runs beautifully on 1gig of RAM...
That out of the way...

Yeah - onboard sound is shite... I'd toss an X-Fi card in there, but avoid the el-cheapy $80 one - it lacks a LOT of the features of the next step up.

The current crop of DX10 cards that are out, honestly, are a waste of money. Since -nothing- currently supports DX10, not even Vista (it doesn't do anything with it.) You're best of sticking with a PS3.0/DX9 card for now - because when there are actual games for Vista in another year or so, the DX10 card today will be available for half the price, and there'll be ones out with twice the power in the current price point.

2G of memory is always good though. ^^

Raid 0... *twitch* Maybe I've spent too long in the enterprise world - but raid 0 is a f'n waste, and SATA Raid 0 isn't all that impressive anyway. Better spent throwing up a raid 1 for redundancy, or if you're going to be spending the money, spend the cast on a -good- SATA raid controller, and since HDs are cheap enough, grab a third and go for a raid 5.. of course, you'd be adding a nother HD into the system, adding more heat, and more power requirements, etc.

Instead of bothering with a RAID 0 at all, why not just get a 10K SATA drive?

In addition, I'd think of like, an external firewire drive for backups.

Hmm... and the only game I know of that even -supports- physics processors yet is City of Heroes. That's one of those peripherals that would be -awesome- to have, but like Directx10, IMHO, you're best off waiting until there's more support for it.

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Caladine
Posted: Sun 07 Jan 2007 7:28 pm Reply with quote
That Guy Who Married Lacia Joined: 31 Oct 2005 Posts: 1589 Location: Yeah, those are the Rockies.
The Raptor SATA drives are amazing.
However, I'm with Rhynn on the Raid 0, why bother.
Same sentiment on DX10 and physics processors - wait for now.

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Khyr
Posted: Mon 08 Jan 2007 7:37 pm Reply with quote
Horde Spy Joined: 07 Nov 2005 Posts: 458 Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Time for computer nerd dick waving! By the way, is you spending limit including a monitor or not?


Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first:

- Raid0 = LoL0
- PhysX = LoLX
- Onboard soundcards are way, way better than they used to be. Don't waste 100$ on a useless card with retardedly bloated and retarded drivers (Creative, anyone?)
- The SATA-II 150Gb Raptor is the sexiest enthusiast drive available. Get one.
- You'll want after-market cooling. Quality stuff. Period.

Moving on to the likely but not obvious choices:

- Memory's going to be tricky, but one thing's for sure: 2x1GB sticks for now, with the possibility of 2 more in the future. Get some brand name hotness, and I highly recommend either Corsair or Crucial for compatibility and quality. Ideally, go for something with higher clock speed (PC8500 or higher), and keep an eye out for the timings - lower is better, but also way more expensive. Get some 4-4-4-12's, budget permitting.

- $400 for a motherboard is downright retarded if you're not a world-class gamer or you're purposely trying to waste money. See quad-core rant in the CPU analysis below, as well. Also, while you seem to have your heart set on SLi, remember that your CPU becomes the bottleneck at some point. If you don't have a top-of-the-line CPU, you ain't takin' full adavantage of even a single card sometimes, much less 2. I'd advise putting some serious though into that, and looking at the $200 range instead for the mobo.

- Antec cases are generally pretty darn sexy. With your budget however, I'd look into something new, simply because you'll be generating a ton of heat. More specifically, something with 120MM brackets all over, ideally 2 in and 2 out. Aluminium, if you plan on moving it and/or working inside it regularly.


The toughies:

- PSU: Tricky. 500W+, ideally dual 12V rails and ATX2.0+ compliant. 800W-1000W PSUs are generally unnecessary, but brand name here means quality. Once again, Antec makes retardedly amazing PSUs, and they've got my vote - however, I've lost touch with the new wave of enthusiast PSU manufacturers, such as OCZ, CoolerMaster, and BFG, to name a few. I'd recommend looking into some reviews for those.

- CPU: Multi-core CPUs are flat out barely better than single-core CPUs when it comes to gaming, which is why I'd say screw quad-core. you'd be wasting ALOT of money on simply trying to get the newest (and not necessarily the best). Need to look at processor roadmaps here. AMD's AM2 socket is fairly new, while Intel's S775 has endured for a while now. Which one will carry on the longest should be your primary decision here, especially if you plan on getting a 2nd vidcard in the future, where you'd likely wanna max out your CPU speed according to your socket and chipset limitations.


Assuming you need a solid LCD monitor, and if someone put a gun to your head and you had to order tomorrow, here are my pics from NewEgg.

- Case: LIAN LI PC-G50A - $90
- PSU: ENERMAX Liberty ELT620AWT 620W Modular - $150
- Mobo: ASUS P5N-E - $150
- CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6700 Conroe - $510
- Memory: CORSAIR TWIN2X2048-8500C5D 2x1GB PC8500 - $390
- Vidcard: BFG Tech GeForce 8800GTS (BFGR88640GTSE) - $450
- HDD: WD Raptor X 150GB 10K RPM (WD1500AHFD) - $230
- CPU Cooling: Swiftech MCX775-V - $43, +fan of your choice
- Cooling Fans: 2x Scythe 4710KL-04W-B19-VB2 120mm - $28

That's just over $2000, leaving you with ample room for a very, very nice 20"+ LCD, taxes, shipping, and the possibility of a few goodies such as rounded cables, maybe a northbridge cooling unit, aftermarket video card chipset cooler, some new hotness speakers (OMG Klipsch) etc.

I'm not 100% sure all these parts are compatible, but I'm 85% sure off the top of my head.

Apologies to ABit fanboys.

Hope this helps Very Happy

- Teh Khyr.

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Caladine
Posted: Mon 08 Jan 2007 8:42 pm Reply with quote
That Guy Who Married Lacia Joined: 31 Oct 2005 Posts: 1589 Location: Yeah, those are the Rockies.
Khyr wrote:
- Onboard soundcards are way, way better than they used to be. Don't waste 100$ on a useless card with retardedly bloated and retarded drivers (Creative, anyone?)

Agreed.
Unless you're a complete audiophile, you'll never notice the difference on the newest crop of on-board sound.

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Khyr
Posted: Mon 08 Jan 2007 9:04 pm Reply with quote
Horde Spy Joined: 07 Nov 2005 Posts: 458 Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Caladine wrote:
Khyr wrote:
- Onboard soundcards are way, way better than they used to be. Don't waste 100$ on a useless card with retardedly bloated and retarded drivers (Creative, anyone?)

Agreed.
Unless you're a complete audiophile, you'll never notice the difference on the newest crop of on-board sound.


Via's Envy24 series on-board sound chip is dead sexy. Based off their Vynil series, it feels like the modern equivalent that nVidia's SoundStorm brought to the on-board audio stage. If you can find a 'board with all your other requirements *and* an Envy24 chip? you're golden.

Also EDIT:

Monitor: SAMSUNG 215TW Widescreen 21" - $470

Why? I chose Samsung 'cause well, they make the best consumer-grade LCDs, bar none. Funny what owning a shit-ton of LCD patents will do for a company eh? Very Happy I chose the 21" over the cheaper 22" SAMSUNG 225BW 'cause the brightness and contrast ratios on the 21" 215TW are wayyy closer to the mark for its size, for only 90$ more.


Last edited by Khyr on Mon 08 Jan 2007 9:13 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Shillandy
Posted: Mon 08 Jan 2007 9:05 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 22 Aug 2005 Posts: 1066 Location: New York
the PhysX card only works if the devs program for it, and it's so rarely used at the moment that it's not worth the price.


However, the the Killer NIC as a network card has been shown to be very very useful, not only for improving gameplay, but also for network stability and security, and it's not unbelievably expensive (well, compared to onboard NIC i suppose it is, but it seems like a pretty solid investment)

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Iorwerth
Posted: Tue 09 Jan 2007 1:37 am Reply with quote
Joined: 13 Nov 2006 Posts: 179 Location: Jax, FL
First off, I'd like to thank everyone for the feedback, I really appreciate it! Smile

Rather than try to quote a bunch of stuff, here are some refinements based both on your feedback and further contemplation (zomg cue the bulleted list):
  • I'm going to cannibalize my wife's Antec case for the new machine. I just love these cases, and Antec has always offered plenty of room for fans.
  • I may swap out PSU's and move my Antec TrueBlue 480 to the new machine. If I decide to do SLI down the road, I'll have to buy a new one, but if my current PSU is good enough, there's no reason to spend that extra $$ right now. I'll verify, though that 480 *will* be enough before I finalize that inclination--I agree that it might be borderline.
  • Oh yes, I'll be getting the Raptor. If it isn't enough, I'll get a slower larger drive for media storage, but 150GB should keep me golden for quite some time. My sole interest in RAID was for the performance gain, rather than the data security--a single Raptor should do, and I can always think about adding a second one down the road if I deem it necessary.
  • I'll skip the PhysX--if I ever really need it, I can buy it later.
  • I <3 both Asus and Abit mobo's--the most trouble-free machine I ever assembled was built on an Asus A7N266-E, I basically just chucked all the components in the box, shook it up, and it all worked. Regardless, I'm still going to wait to see if more of these 680i SLI chipset boards becme available and drive prices down. I agree that $400 is too much for a mobo.
  • Regarding monitors, I'm still using a Cornerstone 21" p1600 (yes, it is a CRT and it weighs more than your dog), but I'll likely pass that on to my wife since her 21" Dell-branded Trinitron is misbehaving. Tom's recent review of the Samsung didn't particularly impress me though, so I'll keep looking.

Keep 'em coming, and thanks again for *all* the feedback! Smile

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Nightbreeze
Posted: Wed 10 Jan 2007 1:36 am Reply with quote
Affinity for Tigers Joined: 22 Sep 2005 Posts: 973 Location: Forest full of Trees
If you do need a new PSU, i got a Hyper 580w from newegg, and the thing is amazing. Nice stable and quiet, and looks awesome for a PSU They make some bigger ones too, but i am not sure of the exact wattage. Check them out if you decide you need a new PSU.

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