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Old March 23, 2011, 03:00 AM
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Hi All,

I'm new to this forum and I'd like to get an opinion on whether or not all these bits and bobs will work properly together. I've been researching this build for about two weeks, tweaking and all that, and this is what I've come up with:

  • Antec Nine Hundred Two V3 ATX Mid Tower
  • Cooler Master Silent Pro 1000W ATX
  • GIGABYTE SKT.1366 Intel X58 DDR3 ATX (Man. ID: X58A-UD3R)
  • Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8MB LGA1366
  • Corsair DDR3 PC3-10666 3 X 4G memory, triple-channel (total: 12 gb)
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 470 1280MB GDDR5 320-bit PCI-E
  • Western Digital WD5002AALX 500GB Hard Drive *W3 (x 2)
  • Samsung SH-S243D/BEBE 24X DVD-RW SATA
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit DVD English OEM

The system will have two uses. My wife will be playing WOW and I will be creating 3D animation using Messiah and various other 3D apps.

1) My main concern is not that this is the fastest system around, but that all the parts are matched to each other. I won't be overclocking, so I haven't listed a CPU cooler.

2) My aim is to eventually upgrade this system without having to replace anything already bought. First upgrade will be to double-SLI, second to triple-SLI. Final upgrade (if there ever comes a need) will be to 24gb RAM.

4) Have I missed anything?

5) Has anyone had a less-than-happy experience with anything on this list?

I'll be buying all my parts from PC Cyber here in Ottawa and having them do the assembly (I'm a bit nervous, what can I say? I haven't done a build since 1999).

Any and all advice/opinion will be very much appreciated.
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Old March 23, 2011, 03:24 AM
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Welcome! I haven't been here long either but would like to help. What's your budget?

While 1366 is being phased out, 1155 is becoming mainstream, performs better, more efficient. GTX 560 performs better and consumes less power than 470. These changes alone will bring down your wattage needs to below 550W. Add another card and then it should be 650.

You mentioned a 3D App, does it only work on Nvidia cards?

If you like the price of that PSU, then a warning is due. You get what you pay for.
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Old March 23, 2011, 03:40 AM
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My personal opinion - PC Cyber has pretty mediocre pricing. I personally prefer to just pricematch everything at NCIX, free shipping is usually fairly easy to get and you save a ton on the overall cost of the build.
I'd also suggest Sandy Bridge, but I'm unsure of the specific memory usage of your apps, so I'm assuming triple channel memory is going to be needed. If you can live with 16gb of non triple channel ram, go for Sandy Bridge.

Things you might want to get rid of:

Coolermaster 1000W PSU - you won't need one of these unless you decide to run 4 GTX 470's, not to mention it's the worst unit in its class, ok maybe not absolute worst, but it's pretty far down there. If you want a cheap, high wattage, gold, and modular PSU, the OCZ ZX (NOT Z) is a much better choice, if you don't want to cheap out, go with Corsair/Seasonic/Antec.

GTX 470 - I have one, it's loud, hot, and power hungry, if you can live with it that's perfectly fine as it's still a powerful card, however it's older tech and only worth ~$200+taxes/shipping IMO. If you're paying the $259 PC Cyber has listed, I'd consider it overpriced, you can get a similarly performing 560 Ti for less or a superior 570 for ~$300.

500GB Caviar Blacks - you can get more storage with better performance for less, you'll probably need a LOT more than 1tb if you're doing 3D animation professionally. I would suggest Caviar Blues or Hitachi's of higher capacity. Good performing 1tb drives can be had for $40-$60. An SSD might be nice too.

Antec 900 - well I guess this isn't a valid point since you won't be building it and will probably never open it up...
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Old March 23, 2011, 06:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
Welcome! I haven't been here long either but would like to help. What's your budget?
Hi Luay79; thanks for the welcome!

Budget is ~$1500 before taxes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
While 1366 is being phased out, 1155 is becoming mainstream, performs better, more efficient.
While I was on the Intel site checking out CPUs, it looked like all the 1155 (Sandy Bridge, if I understood correctly) use only double-channel RAM. Doesn't triple-channel give higher performance? So far, I haven't found a site giving across-the-board benchmarks on RAM. I've also found no comparisons between double-channel and triple-channel performance. Do you know about this stuff or know of a web site that can give me an overview/benchmarks?

Also, my assessment so far hasn't included the new Sandy Bridge motherboards because I haven't found a local retailer who has any listed.

The Sandy Bridge i7's aren't listed on retailer sites either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
GTX 560 performs better and consumes less power than 470. These changes alone will bring down your wattage needs to below 550W. Add another card and then it should be 650.
Well, the idea is that I buy the power supply now and don't have to replace it when I upgrade to two video cards nor when I go to three.

But, that said, do you know what the minimum size of power supply would be for triple-SLI with the 560 Ti?

Also, going by the benchmarks on the PassMark site, the 560 Ti looks a fair bit slower than the 470. I realize their tests may not be oriented toward final in-the-box performance. Also, I don't know what the practical difference is between the 3384 rating given the GTX 470 and the 2874 rating of the GTX 560 Ti. For all I know, it could be so small a person would have to be doing speed AND Jolt to see the difference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
You mentioned a 3D App, does it only work on Nvidia cards?
There seems to be some debate on this point with a lot of 3D apps. It seems the safest bet for a video card is nVidia. I didn't get into the details of why, so I can't give specifics, but frankly, I'm willing to take the word of those who did all the hard work. So I didn't bother doing any deep research on this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Luay79 View Post
If you like the price of that PSU, then a warning is due. You get what you pay for.
Could you elaborate on this, please? Mostly I'm going for modular with enough power so I don't (as mentioned above) have to replace the power supply when I eventually go triple-SLI.

Thanks a lot for responding. You've given me lots to think about!

-RiViT
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Old March 23, 2011, 06:47 AM
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Hi ilya. Thanks for responding!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
My personal opinion - PC Cyber has pretty mediocre pricing. I personally prefer to just pricematch everything at NCIX, free shipping is usually fairly easy to get and you save a ton on the overall cost of the build.
I'll have to check the NCIX site. Thanks for pointing it out.

The main reason I was going PC Cyber is for convenience. I can order the machine and pick it up locally. And if there are any problems, I can drop it off for repair locally as well, within the first 30 days anyway.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
I'd also suggest Sandy Bridge, but I'm unsure of the specific memory usage of your apps, so I'm assuming triple channel memory is going to be needed. If you can live with 16gb of non triple channel ram, go for Sandy Bridge.

Things you might want to get rid of:

Coolermaster 1000W PSU - you won't need one of these unless you decide to run 4 GTX 470's, not to mention it's the worst unit in its class, ok maybe not absolute worst, but it's pretty far down there. If you want a cheap, high wattage, gold, and modular PSU, the OCZ ZX (NOT Z) is a much better choice, if you don't want to cheap out, go with Corsair/Seasonic/Antec.
Thanks for pointing this out. The OCZ ZX850 looks good.

As for cheaping out, I'm trying to but not trying to... if you know what I mean. I'm willing to spend what it takes to get something that will do triple-SLI or Crossfire (a friend has convinced me to look into AMD/ATI) but I don't want to have to compromise too much on other things in the system to stay within budget.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
GTX 470 - I have one, it's loud, hot, and power hungry, if you can live with it that's perfectly fine as it's still a powerful card, however it's older tech and only worth ~$200+taxes/shipping IMO. If you're paying the $259 PC Cyber has listed, I'd consider it overpriced, you can get a similarly performing 560 Ti for less or a superior 570 for ~$300.
Oooo, that's good to know. Thanks! Funny how they don't mention heat and noise in the ads, eh?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
500GB Caviar Blacks - you can get more storage with better performance for less, you'll probably need a LOT more than 1tb if you're doing 3D animation professionally. I would suggest Caviar Blues or Hitachi's of higher capacity. Good performing 1tb drives can be had for $40-$60. An SSD might be nice too.
One drive is for the OS and any installed software, the other for data. You're right; I'll eventually be putting a third drive in, but that's mainly for data separation. I have an external 1tb for data backup, although it's dead-dog slow.

As for 3D animation... at this point, I'm only beginning to learn the software, so short videos will be about all I'll be doing for a while. I don't really know yet what kind of storage requirements I'll need.

I read somewhere, however, that the failure rate for drives 1tb and over is 30% higher than for those under 1tb. Have you heard anything about this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ilya View Post
Antec 900 - well I guess this isn't a valid point since you won't be building it and will probably never open it up...
Is the 900 easier to work on than the 902?

Again, thanks for all the info, ilya!

-RiViT
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Old March 23, 2011, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Doesn't triple-channel give higher performance?
That is a tough one. Memory drives the performance of your system but does not perform by itself. So there is a performance advantage within some applications, but with most, triple channel memory does not drive higher performance because this could be the way these applications are structured to not lend themselves triple channel configurations, similar to how single threaded applications don't show a boost with a quad core. The advantages are minimal.

The actual performance of your system depends on your CPU and that is where Sandy bridge CPUs beat (smoke) similarly priced LGA1366 CPUs, regardless of how many channel memories are used. Higher instructions-per-cycle allows them to perform more work at any given frequency, a more mature 32 nm manufacturing process allow these to clock to higher frequencies, while consuming less power and producing less heat. A double channel memory driven i7 2600 will outperform a triple channel memory driven i7 950 while using less power.

As for motherboards, that's a tough one too. If you are planning to go Tri SLI, then you won't have restrictions on LGA 1366. As for Sandy Bridge, you are restricted to the higher end boards that carry the nf200 chip, which enables 3 cards @ x8 lanes ot two cards @ x16 lanes each, such as Asus P67 revolution for $270 or other ones that should appear in shops before the month end.

and with graphics cards in Tri SLI, you are restricted to GTX 570 and above because GTX 560 and below support a maximum of 2 cards in SLI. As with the memory issue discussed above, difference between LGA 1366 native 2x 16 lane support and 2 x8 is minimal compared to the huge advantage of sandy bridge cpus.

Now before we get to the meat of this system you want, what resolution will your display be? If you're really going to go TRI SLI, then you have enough power to drive pixels on three screen surround, and that would be overkill if you are using only one display.

for $1500 my build would look like this:
Asus P8P67 Pro $200 (for triple SLI you need something better, there will other boards available soon)
i7 2600 $330 (add $20 to get the unlocked version for overclocking)
G.Skill 4x2 8GB 9C $100
WD caviar Black 1TB $100
Adata Sandforce SSD or OCZ Vertex2 $150
Corsair TX850 V2 $115
XFX HD 6950 2GB $310 or any card of your choice
Asus DVDRW $25
Inwin Dragon Rider $150 or Corsair Graphite T600 $170 (case is all up to your preference)

Prices may be lower if you price match, but total is under $1500
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old March 23, 2011, 10:53 AM
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Triple channel would definitely offer some performance gains over dual channel but it is subjective as it depends on whether you're actually doing OC or benchmarking then the performance gain would be very obvious. On a day to day use you won't notice significant performance gain for triple channel memory.

SB has been out since January but most probably your local retailer does not have it currently due to most possibly they had to return all affected Cougar Point chipset bug board back and get them replaced with the fixed B3 stepping board. Wait a little while longer as I heard that the fixed boards will go into full production by April but definitely there are B3 boards out there already.

A safe PSU that I think might suit your needs if you go for a HD6950 CF or a GTX560 Ti SLi is a 700W unit from Silverstone. That would be sufficient as SB motherboards are limited to only 2 PCIE lanes with 8x8x. It cannot do triple CF/SLi or a 4 way SLi like the X58 boards can. Besides a GTX560 Ti is not able to triple SLi as it has only a single SLi connector. You need at least 2 SLi connector to go beyond dual SLi.

AMD is far behind the game when it comes to using GPU power to render but they are improving over time and they are on the right path with OpenCL. They should be good in a few more years time as their software development matures.

Cooler Master's PSU are cheaper than most but they are also prone to issues as they do not make their own PSUs and therefore end up with substandard products. I do not consider CM's to be cheap when put side by side with other PSU brands but I suggest that you stick to using Silverstone or Seasonic.

AMD graphic cards are one of the cheapest around and offer good price/performance and performance/watt. Triple SLi is totally unnecessary if you want to SLi 3 GTX470 on a X58 motherboard it would be a lot better to SLi 2 GTX580's on a P67 SB motherboard but to do a dual SLi GTX580 a 800-1000W PSU is necessary.

For the 3D animation you could use the SSD as a scratch disk where you load your files into the SSD as a temporary storage to render your animation faster from the performance gain from the SSD. A 60GB SSD does not cost that much these days. Failure rate of HDDs are common and purely dependent on luck and how well you take care of the HDD.
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Old March 23, 2011, 02:33 PM
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Wow. So much to consider...

After reviewing all your replies and doing a bit more digging into reviews and test reports, I'm thinking SLI/Crossfire is not the way to go for me. Instead, I'm thinking of going with just a single nVidia GPU, whichever one best fits the budget.

As to motherboards, Luay79, you mentioned the P8P67-Pro. I had a look at this one as well as the others in the P67 family and I'm thinking one of them is the way to go.

Even the P8P67-M, although a microATX, does overclocking. Would there be any drawbacks to going with a board of this form factor? You know, power issues? It seems to be designed to handle the i7 2600K as well as having a nice compliment of SATA 2/3, USB 2/3 and all that.

If I go with only one GPU, I won't need extra PCIe x16 slots, so a microATX should be okay for that as well.

I also found several Antec, Cooler Master and In-Win mid-tower cases that take microATX, so I won't have to deal with a cramped case either.

And the upside for me is that by saving some rather significant bucks on the case and motherboard, I can put more into the GPU and CPU.

As to RAM, DMA0991, I read a couple of reviews/articles today that support what you're saying about the differences between dual-channel and triple-channel. So I'm thinking 1155 boards aren't at a disadvantage on this score.

One thing... All the 1366 boards I read about seem to have a data throughput rating in MT/s, but I haven't found anything about that for any 1155 boards. Does anyone know of a source for this info? Even the Asus site doesn't mention it. Or is it one of those things that, because it's always the same or whatever, that everyone knows what it is, so no one mentions it?

Again, thanks for all your help/advice. My head was spinning for a while this afternoon, but I think I'm okay now.

-Ron T.
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Old March 23, 2011, 05:31 PM
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I pretty much started over from scratch based on advice and more research. Also, PC Cyber finally have 1155 motherboards listed.

Here's the build list in its current incarnation:

  • ANTEC Dark Fleet DF-30 Mid Tower Black
  • OCZ StealthXStream 2 700W Power Supply
  • ASUS P8P67-M (Rev 3.0) S.1155 INTEL P67, M.ATX *W3
  • Intel Core I7 2600K 3.4Ghz 8MB LGA1155
  • Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8 Memory (8 gbs)
  • Gigabyte GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI-E
  • Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALX 1TB (data drive)
  • Samsung SH-S243D/BEBE 24X DVD-RW SATA
  • Microsoft Windows 7 Home Prem 64 Bit DVD English OEM
  • OCZ Vertex 2 3.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (system drive)
I cut back on the OS (Pro to Home Premium) and the amount of RAM to accommodate the SSD. I switched to an 1155 board and cpu and also changed the WD black to a WD blue.

I read in a review that the GTX 560 Ti needs about 500 watts (plus 100-150 overhead for the rest of the system) so 700 should be sufficient, right? It's not a gamer's PS, but I gather that OCZ makes a pretty solid PS from your feedback and readings elsewhere.

Anyway, if no one can see any glaring errors in this set-up, this is what I'll be going for.
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Old March 23, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Buy a Seasonic, Corsair, Silverstone or Antec PSU.

That's my opinion.

I used to use OCZ, but too many have blown up and taken out MB's with them. OCZ is also harder to RMA though compared to other manufacturers (more hoops to jump through)
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