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Old August 7, 2008, 03:00 PM
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Post Slow development of a new system

Like everyone else who posts a new thread in this section, I'm working towards building a new system. (...and like nearly everyone who post a new thread in this section, I too am a recently registered user...)I haven't had a new desktop since 2003 and I'm looking forward to getting back to piecing together a system. Everyone's priorities when building a system are different, with some people trying to achieve maximum performance regardless of cost and others simply trying to create the least expensive system that will meet their needs as they can, with most people falling somewhere in between these two extremes. Personally, I feel the best measure of a system is a combination of cost/performance and future upgradbility. I tend to buy the second or third from "top-of-the-line" in an attempt to get the most value for each dollar. That is the m.o. I hope to follow for this build.

As I haven't made any meaningful upgrades to my now-ancient system and it wasn't cutting edge to begin with, I need to start from absolute scratch and purchase all-new everything, including monitor and probably UPS (the only possible exceptions are my mouse and speakers). I'm looking to spend around $1,500 before tax (including a new monitor, not including future upgrades I discuss throughout like additional ram and a second video card). I have previous experience refurbishing and rebuilding/upgrading older systems, but this will be my first from-scratch build. I also have no experience with liquid-cooled systems, so I was definately planning to stick to air-cooled, which I figure I can probably handle. (Note: I have purchased no parts so far.) I expect to do some beginner/intermediate overclocking, but have only "book-smarts" from reading about OC and have never done it first-hand. As such, I would not be opposed to some kind of auto-overclock functionality for on the system components, though it is by no means a requirement.

After digging around online and spending what felt like 2 months getting sort of up to date on new motherboard and graphics options, I came to 2 conclusions: 1) I don't care if the system is CrossFire or SLI-based; I'm no fanboy and am really just interested in bang-for-the-buck and 2) At some point in the future I am going to want to add that second video card and I want to get full power out of it without having to upgrade my motherboard, suggesting that 2x PCI-E 2.0 (16x) is probably the way to go. I found myself rather torn between going with a DDR2 and DDR3 motherboard and would ideally get a hybrid that can support either, making a future change smoother once DDR3 comes down further in price. The problem is, I haven't yet found a motherboard that has support for both DDR2 & DDR3 and is also 2xPCI-E (16x) enabled that wasn't outrageously priced. The first compromise I made was to drop the DDR2 & DDR3 hybrid and go with DDR2 in the form of the DFI Lan Party Dark X38-T2R motherboard.

NCIX.com - Buy DFI LP Dk X38-T2R ATX LGA775 X38 DDR2 2PCI-E16 3PCI SATA2 RAID Sound GBLAN Motherboard - LP DK X38-T2R In Canada.

As it is a CrossFire board, that leads me towards purchasing one of the HD4870s right away and then another in six-twelve months or so when everyone's forgotten about them and they're less than half the price...

NCIX.com - Buy Diamond Radeon HD 4870 512MB GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI-I Video Card - 4870PE5512 In Canada.

I do a bit of video and graphics editing and am looking to get back into gaming fairly seriously, so I figured pumping up a Q6600 processor would probably be sufficient. I have heard only good things about its overclocking potential, and I like the flexibility the quadcore appears to provide. The price on the Q6600s seems to have jumped back up this week in Canada, but I'm sure it won't last. I figured I'd go OEM and install my own fan/cooling system.


I expect to start with 4 gigs of PC2-6400 (800mhz) RAM and double to 8 gigs at some point in the future. Perhaps something like this: Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB 2X2GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-12 EPP

NCIX.com - Buy Patriot Extreme Performance 4GB 2X2GB PC2-6400 DDR2-800 CL4-4-4-12 EPP Dual Channel Memory Kit - PDC24G6400LLK In Canada.

I wasn't thinking that a screen larger than 22" made very good economic sense, so I was drawn to something like this Acer:

Acer X223WBD 22" Widescreen LCD Monitor - 5ms, 2500:1, WSXGA+(1680x1050), DVI, Black ET.EX3WP.001 in Canada at TigerDirect.ca

I haven't dug particularly deep into cooling options and deciding what needs to be cooled will sort of depend on what components I end up with, I suppose, so more research is definately needed there...

In terms of a case, I'm not too concerned with a flashy look to show off or having a particularly unique case, but there is always the question of fan volume, but I don't think I'll be watching any movies, so that's not too much of a concern. I haven't heard much in the way of criticisms of the Antec 900 other than they're too popular and everyone seems to have one, which I am okay with. I guess the only other issue is finding a case/motherboard combonation that won't have any issues with the physically large video cards I'm looking at buying... I haven't picked up the impression that a full-tower is likely necessary, and that a mid-tower will do, but I'm posting these musings in hopes of getting feedback, so I'd love to know if anyone disagrees.

NCIX.com - Buy Antec Nine Hundred Mid Tower Gamer Case 900 ATX 9 Drive Bay No PS Top USB2.0 1394 Audio - NINE HUNDRED In Canada.


For a power supply, I need something that will be able to deal comfortably with two HD 4780s at some point in the future. I was thinking a Power & Cooling or Corsair in the 750-1000w range, but I'm not sure if that's too much overkill... For example:
NCIX.com - Buy PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad 750W ATX V2.2 EPS12V 24PIN SLI Active PFC Power Supply Black - S75QB In Canada.


The hard drives I was looking at are pretty run of the mill. I couldn't really justify a Velociraptor, so I was thinking something pretty standard like a pair of 500 GB 7200.11 Barracudas or something...

NCIX.com - Buy Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 3.5IN 500GB SATA2 8.5MS 7200RPM 32MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive OEM - ST3500320AS In Canada.


I haven't really given much thought to optical drives other than that a Blu-Ray player seems rather unecessary, but there's so little difference any more that I'm not too worried about not having picked out my particular DVD+/-R yet...


Hopefully my verbosity has allowed readers (if anyone was actually willing to brave the sheer length of the post) to get a better idea of how I am thinking and what I'm looking to do (rather than being a complete and total waste of time).

Thanks for any help you choose to give, especially in the motherboard/ram/videocard realm, as nailing down what motherboard to use has been a most unpleasent experience so far. Talk about an orgy of choice; its really rather overwhelming to decied when one still figuring out what all the technological advances have been.

Best regards,

-Greg P.

(Edited for formatting & typos, because I'm annoyed by things like that...)

Last edited by gsp5322; August 7, 2008 at 03:18 PM.
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Old August 7, 2008, 03:32 PM
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Nice parts list Greg.

I have the PC P&C Silencer in a Antec 900, just rebuilt my system last night with a new mobo. I plan on posting pictures later when I get home, so you can see what I'm talking about when I say, "think about getting a modular power supply". The PC P&C has all the connections you'll ever need for a crossfire system, but the extra cables are hard to hide until you do put those other parts together.

For HDD's the fastest 7200 rpm drive out there is the WD 640 GB, available for about $75 each. Not knocking the seagates.

Are you planning to OC? What about a heat-sink? OCZ Vendetta 2.
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Old August 7, 2008, 03:51 PM
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I'd go with Mushkin Redlines or Ascents that are PC2-8000 or PC2-8500. Might as well have some headroom on your RAM for when you do decide to overclock. DDR2-800 would limit your OCing probably.

I'd go with a P45 or X48 motherboard over the X38 if I was in your position. Both perform better than the X38 and offer better OCing for 45nm quad-cores. The ASUS P5Q Deluxe could be had for about the same price as the motherboard you're looking at and it has better power delivery than the DFI.

The Antec TruePower Quattro might be a PSU to look at since it is modular. It works pretty well in my Antec 900.

And as the previous poster said, get the Western Digital 640GB drives. Faster and better cost per gigabyte ratio.
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Old August 7, 2008, 04:18 PM
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Have you looked at the CM690 as well?

I'd stick with JDroms suggestion on the RAM. The P5Q deluxe is also a very good idea for the quad, although I'm really quite into the DFI T2R LT X38 or X48 board for $30 or $60 more respectively. Personally I'd get a fast dual core too.

The 750 watt silencer is a great PSU for the price now, its up to you whether you want to spend time managing its cables.
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Old August 7, 2008, 04:59 PM
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I have read a fair amount this afternoon about cable management in the Antec 900, perhaps the C690 makes good sense... Why Mushkin RAM in particular? The P5Q Deluxe is certainly an option that seems to be worth seriously considering... I found AkG's review of the Vendetta quite convincing, I would almost certainly go that route for CPU cooling. Any reports of reliability issues with the WD 640s? I have paranoid issues with HD failure.
-Greg P.
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Old August 7, 2008, 07:18 PM
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Patriot, G-Skill and Buffalo ram sticks are all on my personal "more likely to be the subject of a troubleshooting/incompatibility thread" list. Whereas brands like Mushkin and Corsair seem less likely to turn up like that, as when they do, the thread starter is trying to do cruel things to them. Just my personal impressions, mind. Regardless, I wouldn't bother shelling out for DDR3 at this point. It's come down in price, but it still makes for pretty small real-world gains over good DDR2.

As for the Antec 900, I've heard a few criticisms about its airflow. It works, but more through brute force than any particular efficient setup. I dunno, different people's mileage will vary, I suppose.
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Old August 7, 2008, 10:06 PM
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That's a nice parts list, but I do agree with the Mushkin ram. If you want quiet and cool with good cable management, then I would have to recommend the Antec P182 over the 900. btw I've been working in Sylvan lake about 3-4 days a week for the last month or so. My employer set up it's main operations office there about a year or so ago. Also, welcome to HWC!

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Old August 11, 2008, 10:59 AM
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I bought the CM690 from a local retailer who I had a gift card for this past weekend. I also noticed this online: Canada Computers - LCD Monitors > Open Box/Refurbished : Acer X243WBD Widescreen LCD Monitor - 1920 x 1200, 5ms, 400cd/m2, 3000:1 DCR, VGA/ DVI-D (Factory Refurbished). It is factory refurbished, but are you going to find a 24" LCD for that price anywhere? Even with MIR or one-time deals?
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Old August 11, 2008, 03:37 PM
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I have the Antec 900 and I like it, but wouldn't mind a bigger tower for some room to work with. If I could get a case with a removable MoBo tray, I would be in heaven (since I like to tinker alot). If you do not have many devices then cable management is a breeze, but I have 3 HDs, a DVD drive and my 8800gtx...alot of power cables to hit. Sure a dremel takes care of the issue, but next time I get a case I will ensure its one with adequate space such that I do not have to perform surgery on it to hide my cables!

In short - Antec 900 is pretty good, and that is probably why it is so popular.
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Old August 14, 2008, 04:02 PM
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Default Here's the plan - I bought the CM690 case - what did I miss?

Samsung 203S TruDirect 20X SATA DVD Writer Lightscribe Black OEM W/ Software In Stock $24.99 VPN:SH-S203S/BEBN SKU:28610 Add Note

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Here's my plan. What do you guys think? The case fans in particular were a bit of a shot in the dark...
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