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Old April 22, 2009, 10:41 AM
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Default New i7 $2000 Build - Feedback Appreciated!

Hi everyone,

I've been reading the forum for a while now and have found it an amazing resource. I'm now about to build a new system and would be grateful for any feedback on my proposed build.

Intended usage: This will be my day-to-day work system (Excel, Word, software development, etc.) as well as a gaming system. I'll also do some video editing, CS3, etc., although only periodically.

General preferences: The system needs to be very fast on start-up, smoothly handle multiple applications running at once (when working I have waaaay too many windows open at once), as well as having good gaming abilities. I'm not the gamer I once was (getting old, alas! <g>) but still like grade A eye-candy and responsiveness when I do play.

Proposed System:
Processor:
Intel Core i7 920 LGA 1366
NCIX.com - Buy Intel Core i7 920 Quad Core Processor LGA1366 2.66GHZ Bloomfield 8MB LGA1366 4.8GT/S - BX80601920 In Canada. ($409.99).
The i7 940 would be nice, but I don't think the price difference is justifiable for me.

Heatsink:
Noctua NH-U12P SE1366
NCIX.com - Buy Noctua NH-U12P SE1366 LGA1366 i7 Heatpipe Cooler W/ 2XNH-P12 120MM Fan - NH-U12P SE1366 In Canada. ($79.99).
I'm not expecting to do a *huge* amount of over-clocking, but I will be doing some. This unit is supposed to be quiet, which is a bonus.

Motherboard:
ASUS P6T X58 Deluxe
NCIX.com - Buy ASUS P6T Deluxe V2 X58 ATX LGA1366 DDR3 LGA1366 3PCI-E16 PCI-E4 2PCI CrossFire SLI SATA2 Motherboard - P6T Deluxe V2 In Canada. ($379.99)
From what I've read, this board is stable / reliable while still offering good tweaking flexibility.

Memory:
Corsair XMS3 TR3X6G1333C9 3 x 2 GB DDR3-1333 CL 9-9-9-24
NCIX.com - Buy Corsair XMS3 TR3X6G1600C9 6GB DDR3 3X2GB DDR3-1600 CL 9-9-9-24 Core i7 Memory Kit - TR3X6G1600C9 In Canada. ($131.95)
I am very hazy on the pros / cons of different memory kits. For example, what (in practical terms) does Corsair's Dominator line offer that the item listed above doesn't to justify the much higher price? Any suggestions (with rationale) on alternative memory kits?

Graphics:
Need help on this one. I'm leaning towards the GTX 275. Fast, but still affordable. Later on, I might add a second one as two-way SLI. However, I am not opposed to ATI's cards either, such as the 4890.

Do either of these cards offer advantages over the other outside of gaming (for my general business use)?

Some options I've looked at:

a. EVGA GeForce GTX 275 633MHZ 1792MB 2.26GHZ DDR3 PCI-E
NCIX.com - Buy EVGA GeForce GTX 275 633MHZ 1792MB 2.26GHZ DDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDTV Out Video Card - 017-P3-1175-AR In Canada. ($379.99).
The double RAM looks promising (didn't know that was an option on 275s!) -- but I haven't been able to find any reviews on this unit.

b. BFG GeForce GTX 275 OC 896MD GDDR3
NCIX.com - Buy BFG GeForce GTX 275 OC 896MB GDDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDTV Out Video Card - BFGEGTX275896OCE In Canada. ($349.99)
I don't really need to pay BFG to overclock it for me, but I don't see a 275 model from them that isn't OC.

c. XFX Radeon HD 4890 1 GB 850MHZ 1GB 3.9GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDTV:
NCIX.com - Buy XFX Radeon HD 4890 1GB 850MHZ 1GB 3.9GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDTV Video Card - HD489AZDFC In Canada. ($329.99 less $20 rebate)

d. Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1 GB 850MHZ 3.9GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E
NCIX.com - Buy Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB 850MHZ 1GB 3.9GHZ GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDTV Video Card - 21150-00-40R In Canada. ($329.99).
Does Sapphire deliver a better unit to justify the higher price (assuming I would ever actually get the rebate money on the XFX)?

Any feedback on these specific models? Any other specific models worth recommending in the same price range?

Case:
Coolermaster HAF 932
NCIX.com - Buy Cooler Master Haf 932 Full Tower Black EATX Case 6X5.25 1X3.5 5X3.5INT No PSU USB eSATA 1394 Audio - RC-932-KKN1 In Canada. ($177.99)
What I've read about this case sounds great. I'm not overly concerned with the external look of the case (though it looks OK anyway in a harsh sort of way) - what matters is the air cooling, internal space, and 'little' functional details. Dust worries me, though, but I should be able to fudge up some sort of solution. Or I'll just keep my vacuum cleaner handy... lol

Power Supply:
Corsair TX850W ATX
NCIX.com - Buy Corsair TX850W 850W CMPSU-850TX 12V 70A 24PIN AT Power Supply Active PFC 140M Fan Powersupply - CMPSU-850TX In Canada.($184.99)
More power than I need right now, but if I add another GPU later on (especially something like a 295), the power will come in handy. Plus, I'll be adding 2 or 3 more HDs that I already have, so I'll need spare power for them. I'd rather spend a little extra now and be safe.

Hard Drives:
2 X WD Cavier Black 640MB 7200RPM.
NCIX.com - Buy Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM 32MB Dual Proc 3.5IN SATA Hard Drive OEM 5YR Mfg Warranty - WD6401AALS In Canada. ($102.40 each)
Will probably set these up as RAID 0 for speed. Will add additional drives (that I already have) for data storage. Would love to go with an SSD for the OS drive, but I don't think I'm ready for the additional cost just yet.

Optical Drive:
Samsung SH-S223Q/BEBD TruDirect 22x DVD+R/-R Lightscribe
NCIX.com - Buy Samsung SH-S223Q/BEBS 22X DVD+-RW SATA DVD Writer Black Lightscribe OEM - SH-S223Q/BEBS In Canada. ($34.99)
Any feedback on this unit?

Flash Card Reader:
Kingston FCR-HS219/1 19-in-1 Card Reader
NCIX.com - Canada's Premier Computer Store - Great Technology, Service and Selection. ($21.80)
Any feedback on this unit? Alternatives - especially a good internal unit?

Sound Card:
Will use integrated. Any feedback on the sound quality of the ASUS motherboard I've selected?

Network Adapter:
Need help on this one. I'll be connecting to my router wirelessly. I can simply pick up a USB wireless adapter (I'm sure I have spares already lying around actually). But is a non-USB wireless adapter better?

Operating System:
Vista 64-bit.
NCIX.com - Buy Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM - 66I-01939 In Canada. ($148.99)
I haven't used the 64-bit OS before. Any issues with standard business usage (I know it is all the rage for new gaming systems)?

*** I haven't done price-shopping yet. The above prices are simply today's prices from NCIX, without any PM-ing. Obviously, I'll check all the usual suspects before actually purchasing.

Baseline total price: $2,125.48 (allocating $350 for the GPU and not including anything for the wireless network adapter). Taxes / shipping not included.

General Questions / Comments:
1. Do all of these parts work together correctly? Any likely 'gotchas' such as wrong memory type, etc.?

2. Do any of the above components cause unusual complications for installation / setup? My system-building skills are a tad, um, 'rusty' (as in "20 years out of date"...).

3. Am I forgetting anything? (always harder to notice what isn't there! <g>)

4. I don't need a mouse or keyboard.

5. My current monitor is a 21-inch Samsung WS 1600 x 1050. I'll likely pick up a new 24-inch monitor very shortly, though. Any suggestions on affordable models (max $450-ish)?

Thanks in advance for suggestions and feedback!

Last edited by Strato; April 22, 2009 at 02:18 PM.
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Old April 22, 2009, 11:04 AM
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My System Specs

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I don't see any problems with the build, but a few comments:
Graphics: You might want to think about whether you want/need the little bit of performance the 275 and the 4890 offers, in comparison to the 260s and 4870s, since they cost more than $100 (or 50%) more. For the price of 2 275s or 2 4890s, you could go tri-SLI or three-way CrossFireX with 260s and 4870s. I personally don't think the 275s and 4890s justify their cost. And seriously, at this moment, a single 260 or 4870 can run almost any game at highest settings easily (except, of course, Crysis).

Hard drives: The Blacks in RAID0 will give you faster sequential read and write, but they're not going to give you significant faster booting time. In fact, I didn't notice any change in my booting time since I went from a single 500gb Seagate to my RAID0 double Blacks. I think you're going to have to get a SDD as the boot drive if you want a significant speed up in boot time. You can get a 60gb Vertex for $280 (tax and shipping included), or a 30 gb for $180 if you're willing to add in abit more money.

Sound: The quality of the onboard sound on the P6T Deluxe is not crap, but it does have issues. First of all, there's still a difference between the quality of the onboard solution vs a decent dedicated sound card, but htat's subjective. More annoyingly, however, is the fact that when I first bought my system, I went with the on board sound as well, and whenever I plug my headset into the front ports, it would always make pops and static sounds. The back ports are significantly better, but there was still interference from time to time so I went with a dedicated sound card.
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Old April 22, 2009, 11:33 AM
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I'm surprise they have not release the wi-fi version , forgot the raid 0 , you will not see so much improvement,
I will forgot 30 GB SSD, they are slow , too small, and they will be full, meaning shorter life. Build your system and in few months look again the SSD will be cheaper, faster and more reliable. For now buying a SSD remind me when I purchase my first PIV with RamBus.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Strato View Post
Network Adapter:
Need help on this one. I'll be connecting to my router wirelessly. I can simply pick up a USB wireless adapter (I'm sure I have spares already lying around actually). But is a non-USB wireless adapter better?

!
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Old April 22, 2009, 12:55 PM
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My System Specs

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Quote:
Originally Posted by dataxpert View Post
I'm surprise they have not release the wi-fi version , forgot the raid 0 , you will not see so much improvement,
I will forgot 30 GB SSD, they are slow , too small, and they will be full, meaning shorter life. Build your system and in few months look again the SSD will be cheaper, faster and more reliable. For now buying a SSD remind me when I purchase my first PIV with RamBus.
RAID0 isn't useless. It almost doubles sequential read and write, so when dealing with large chunks of data, there will be a very significant difference. It just doesn't help boot time.

I find wi-fi integration on the motherboard pretty useless. Adapters are not expensive, and if they fail they're easily replaceable.

And everything in technology gets cheaper over time. In my opinion SSDs are already pretty cheap, but that doesn't even really matter. The question is whether or not the OP thinks cutting boot up time in half (and faster application loading time, if he installs applications on the SSD as well) is worth the money.
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Old April 22, 2009, 01:28 PM
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Come on 640 Gb on raid 0 is 640 Gb of data lost in case of problem.... I have no problem if the OP use it but he need something to back-up the files. If you want performance, use smaller partition and put the swap on another drive. Now software raid 0 solution, like the one use on motherboard, come with a price, it's load the CPU . Real achievement need a card with is own processor.

For the Wi-fi I will also never purchase a MTB with it, for the simple reason I don't need it, but still I'm surprise why Asus have not produce one yet , since many years they do so ..

The vertex 30 is really not a good choice... too small , a SSD have to be twice the capacity you need to be reliable....

My sugestion, use the 640 with the first partition for the OS , the rest for the data , and partition the other HD like this , first partition , very small, to place the swap.and use the rest of the drive to make a clone of the system also backup of files. It will be pretty fast, and the OS partition will not became to much fragmented. It's very important to place the swap in the first partition of the HD
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Old April 22, 2009, 02:27 PM
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If you price match everything, you may have spare $$ for watercooling
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Old April 22, 2009, 02:37 PM
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I just read CS3, definitivelly you need a second hard drive for the scratch files, it will be better than a Raid 0
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Old April 22, 2009, 03:07 PM
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Thanks for the feedback so far, everyone - much appreciated.

The raid 0 isn't for boot speed, just general speed increase. Boot speed is important to me, though, and I hope the Blacks will help there compared to slower drives.

I've thought about a Raptor for the OS drive, but it's a big price jump for not all *that* much increase in performance. I may still go for an SSD, but probably I'll start with the Blacks and maybe upgrade during the summer.

Note - there will be other drives in the system for data storage that I already own. The two Blacks will just be the OS drives.

One option: adding a third Black and going RAID 5??? Speed plus data security... I've never done RAID 5 before - am reading up on it.

Dazmode - I'm not ready for water cooling (I'm too rusty on building my own to attempt that).

Dave - Good point about the graphics cards. That is something I'll give some thought to doing. I am still leaning to the 275 though.

Any suggestions on the memory? I'm out of my depth on that still (though I've been reading a lot on it today).
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Old April 22, 2009, 03:49 PM
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Raid 5 is ok if you purchase a board to drive it, if you make video editing and photoshop, the CPU will be enought load without give him the raid to handle too. I'm affraid it will not result in performance gain. I make CAD work, I use a Dual Xeon with a Adaptec Raid card and 3 cheetah 34 or 36 Gb in Raid 5 (I have to check ) .. the system is a way over $ 6000 . and perform not much better than my quad core Q6700 Dell XPS, I regret so much that build, not too mention my wife comments. What is important is to not have the swap files partition on the same drive.....
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Old April 24, 2009, 11:40 AM
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I've placed my order!

I went as I listed it above, except:

1. I changed the memory to OCZ Platinum 6 GB as they were on heavy sale and got good reviews.
2. I chose the EVGA GTX 275 video card.
3. In addition to the 2 Caviar Black 640MB drives, I picked up an OCZ Vertex 60GB SSD. It was priced at C$229 at NewEgg.ca -- just barely cheap enough to get me to splurge. 60 GB should be enough for an OS drive (hopefully...). Rationale -- if I don't like it on the desktop system I can always use it on my Thinkpad T61 (it's a 2.5" drive so I can swap it for my current one). I have never used an SSD before, so this is really just something to try-and-see.

I ordered most of my kit from Direct Canada. It is inching its way towards Toronto now. I got the Noctua heat sink from CNIX (and it has already arrived - they sent it by air, even though I didn't pay for air!). The memory and the SSD are coming from NewEgg (everyone else was sold out of the memory) and are at the border now according to the tracking system. I should have all the kit by Wed / Thu of next week according to the trackers.

I still have to pick up a new monitor - but that probably won't happen until next month (I'm thinking of a 30" model).

Thanks to everyone who offered feedback (in the forums and privately). And thanks to everyone who simply helped anyone in the forums -- I learned a lot just reading all the different builds and feedback on those builds.
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