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Old September 3, 2008, 03:37 PM
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Default New Gaming Rig - Asking Advice on Hardware

OK, so I'm winding up to build a new gaming rig and I have an overall idea in mind. I've played around a LOT with different hardware configurations and this is what I've tentatively settled on:

Case - SilverStone TJ09 Black W/Clear Side NCIX.com - Buy Silverstone Temjin TJ09B-W Black E-ATX Case 4X5.25 1X3.5 6X3.5INT No PS W/ Window - TJ09B-W In Canada.

PSU - OCZ StealthXStream 600W NCIX.com - Buy OCZ StealthXStream 600W ATX12V 20/24PIN Active PFC ATX Power Supply 120MM Fan Black - OCZ600SXS In Canada.
Or BFG ES800 800W NCIX.com - Buy BFG ES800 800W Power Supply ATX V2.2 EPS12V 20/24PIN 80PLUS Active PFC Dual 8PIN PCI-E 138MM Fan - BFGR800WESPSU In Canada.

MB Foxconn X38A ATX LGA775 Crossfire NCIX.com - Buy Foxconn X38A ATX LGA775 CrossFire DDR2/DDR3 3PCI-E16 2PCI SATA2 HD Sound GBLANX2 1394A Motherboard - X38A In Canada.

CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHZ Yorkfield 1333FSB 12MB NCIX.com - Buy Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 Quad Core Processor LGA775 2.83GHZ Yorkfield 1333FSB 12MB Retail Box - BX80569Q9550 In Canada.

Video 2x Sapphire radeon HD4850 512MB NCIX.com - Buy Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MB GDDR3 PCI-E Video Card - 100242L In Canada.

RAM Buffalo Firestix 2x2GB DDR2-1066 4GB Kit NCIX.com - Buy Buffalo Firestix FSX1066D2C-K4G 4GB 2X2GB PC2-8500 DDR2-1066 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit - FSX1066D2C-K4G In Canada.

HDD 2x Seagate Barracuda 500GB 7200RPM SATA II 32MB CACHE NCIX.com - Buy Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 3.5IN 500GB SATA2 8.5MS 7200RPM 32MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive OEM - ST3500320AS In Canada.

Optical Drive - LG GH22NS30 Black SATA NCIX.com - Buy LG GH22NS30 Black DVD+RW 22X8X16 DVD-RW 22X6X16 DL 16X/12X 2MB SATA OEM - GH22NS30 BLACK In Canada.

Accessories

CPU Heatsink Thermalright TRUE Black 120 CPU Cooler NCIX.com - Buy Thermalright ULTRA-120 Extreme Black Edition 6 Heatpipe Cooler LGA775 Heatsink *Fan Not Included* - TRUEBLACK120 In Canada.

First thing's first, if anyone knows any reason why any of these parts are a bad choice, either because they don't play well with others or they're simply bad products/brands, PLEASE speak up and let me know what I should be swapping out, what product would be a better choice, and WHY the product is a lemon.

Secondly, I'm really not shooting for the stars on the latest and greatest technology. (Obviously) I'm more shooting for that 'cost to performance sweet spot' where the price is reasonable but the performace is still nice. Please keep that in mind when recomending products. My price is flexible for sure, but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a skulltrain would be higher performing, but there's a reason it's not on my list.

This system is moving in a whole new direction for me. It'll be my first Intel based machine since a P2 for starters. I'm not an AMD fan-boy or anything, but for gaming they ruled the roost for a long time, and they pushed for gamers. That's earned a checkmark in my book up till now. With the latest developments, however, AMD has pulled a few nasty tricks (tri-core resails, rigged performance testing, etc.) that have really brought my love for the company down a few rungs. So with Intel being the new king, I thought I'd give it a shot. This being said, I'm only vaguely familiar with the Intel lineup at best. A little advice on the best choice of processors would be heartily appreciated. My decision to start out by looking at the Q9550 is mostly because of the 12MB of cache.

Also, this will flat out be my first time choosing ATI over nVidia. After doing a lot of extensive reading and research on the subject, it very clear that ATI is absolutely dominating the 'performance to dollar' area of the video card market. So I'm very gung-ho for trying out the 48xx series cards! (Yes I know AMD owns them now, which makes this seem contradictory to my processor comment, but you just can't argue the numbers.)

Crossfire... another first for me. Actually, running multiple GPU's in any format is a first for me! When SLi was introduced, and ran buggy as all get-out, it really made me stick to the 'one PC, one video card' idea. But, again, you just can't argue with numbers. both the 4850 and 4870 running in Crossfire are absolutely stunning in their performance! And with increased support for multi-GPU's from both manufacturers and Windows... I'm ready to take the plunge. However, this brings up a question I'm really struggling with: power consumption. I'd really rather not have to go with a 1000W PSU if I can avoid it. But can I get away with a 600W instead of an 800W?

For answers and/or advice on all these questions, please keep in mind that I am NOT an avid overclocker. I firmly believe in running hardware at it's intended output with few exceptions.

Also, the case is a firm choice. I have a case mod I'm designing specifically for this case, and once I get the hardware purchased, I will be posting my worklog on the project. Although, I can't see any problems with the case at all, since it's simply a marvel of case technology and innovation. =)

Last edited by Caldezar; September 3, 2008 at 03:44 PM. Reason: edited for spacing
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Old September 3, 2008, 03:59 PM
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Why did you not go with an 4870x2? I would get a cheaper case (and/or dump a hard drive) if I did not want to spend the extra $200. The x2 units are basically just crossfire in one slot and perform as such. If you get two boards you will not be able to upgrade in the future; with an x2 board you can put in another in 18 months when the price comes down and your needs ramp up.
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Old September 3, 2008, 04:19 PM
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From my understanding, the 2x HD4870's outperform the 4870X2, which is only slightly better than 2x HD4850's. The performance jump seems minimal for the cost, although I was considering 2x HD4870's. The reason I opted for the HD4850's was the performance increase was all in the 'undetectable by the human eye' realm. If I can play a game at 90 FPS, do I really care about the jump to 110? You can't even notice that! (Everything I run is in 1680x1050 btw. That's native for my monitor.)
And as stated before, the case is non-negotiable. Although I could save a bit by removing a HDD, I've always preferred running 2 HDD's. First, I can set to page off the second drive for performance, and second because it only takes one dead HDD with all your music, photo's, etc. to learn your lesson... backups on a seperate drive are a must. (And no way am I burning 70+ GB of music on to DVD's)

Last edited by Caldezar; September 3, 2008 at 04:29 PM.
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Old September 3, 2008, 05:58 PM
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Case: case closed.
PSU: since you're going for dual 4850s, possibly a Quad and for future upgradability, go for the BFG 800W. Or even the Corsair TX750W.
MB: interesting choice - are you going to overclock? Another choice could be the Gigabyte GA-EP45-DS3P, or the Asus P5Q-E.
CPU: fine, I swear by my Quads; but what about an E8400?
GPU: great choice. I had 4870s in Crossfire that worked right out of the boxes. I'm now using GTX280s for Folding.
Ram: I've read about many issues with the Firestixs. If you want some good ram, with no incompatibility, choose Mushkin - the Ascent 8500 sticks are great.
HDD: fine. The WD 640s are a good choice too.
DVD: fine. Some may say that the Pionners are better, but I always choose LGs personally.
HSF: fine, Thermalright make great products. But you're missing some fans: Scythe SFF21Fs, in push-pull config.
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Old September 3, 2008, 06:25 PM
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I personally would go for the Vendetta 2 or even a Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer instead of the Thermalright. I'm not saying its not a good cooler, hey its was the king of air coolers for a while, but not anymore. Besides the Vendetta with the Thermalright Bolt through kit included will be cheaper.

I'd have to agree with Charlie on the board, I know your doing a CF which would run slightly better on X38 or X48 board, but the P45 isn't all that behind, the performance of CF on a P45 board is quite good too.

Best bang for the buck on hard drives is the Seagate 640GB, its only like $6 more, but you get 140GB more. NCIX.com - Buy Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 640GB 3.5IN SATA2 7200RPM 32MB Cache NCQ Hard Drive OEM *5YR MFR Warranty* - ST3640323AS In Canada.

Oh and I hope your going to Price match..
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Old September 3, 2008, 07:44 PM
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From my limited knowledge of ATI graphics, I would have to agree with Jack Rabbit on the 4870x2 idea. I'm looking at that as a possible upgrade before I have to change mobos.


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Old September 3, 2008, 11:06 PM
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Charlie:
I chose the MB for a few reasons; first is because it's amongst the highest performing MB's in the X38 line. It has some incredible overclocking features to it, and although I'm not much of an OC'er, products made with OC'ing in mind tend to be extremely dependable when run in stock configuration. Another great thing about this motherboard is that it supports both DDR2 and DDR3 RAM. So if I decide to upgrade in a while, it's as easy as switching one out for the other. And lastly, the dual digital audio feature is huge for me. I run a few audio mixing programs as a hobby, and this is something I'd use for sure.

As stated before, I'm new to the Intel lineup, so I don't know what the performance is like across the table. I was under the assumption that Intel was more or less phasing out the dual cores in favour of the quads. I just figured it was the way to go with Intel. How's the performance on the E8400? The price is certainly attractive at $100 less than the quad.

Issues with the Firestix? Bummer, I was actually choosing Firestix because I'd heard they were more stable. Although Mushkin has really been thrown around a lot on the forums, so there must be some substance to it. I'll look into it for sure. Thanks for the tip.

I'm actually looking at the LG's based on noise level alone. I mean, let's face it... Samsung, LG, Pioneer... they've all pretty much mastered the DVDRW by now. I know that SATA optical drives are slightly newer on the technology timeline, but I don't really think I'd be dissapointed too much with the performance on any of them. From what I've read though, LG is pretty much the quietest of the bunch. Which suits me just fine since I've been using LG Opticals for as long as I can remember assempling my own systems.

I didn't mention fans because I'm still looking in to that. A lot of those decisions will depend on how I decide my case mod to shape up as far as LED's vs. Black fans, etc. There will be plenty of air movement when I'm done though.

Miggs:
The TRUE Black 120 was chosen 50% because it's a very good heatsink, and 50% because it's black, which fits in perfect with my mod ideas. So barring finding one that's red with equal or better performance, I'll likely stick with this one, even if it means not getting quite the best bang for my buck.

Again with the MB, see the above comment to Charlie. Although the input is fantastic, and thanks to both of you. I'm not dead set on it yet, and I'm looking in to the options you two have mentioned, but we'll see.

Great tip on the Seagate 640GB! Thanks a lot! 300GB for $12, can't get much better than that!

And price matching is a for sure. I live in Vancouver, so the ability to pick up my orders here from NCIX, Atic, will be taken in to account. But I only linked the NCIX products for the convenience of the links, not because I'd decided to buy everything from them. Incidentally, if anyone knows of some good places I should be looking at in Vancouver for hardware, let me know. Sometimes the best deals come from places that don't have online ordering, and I'm perfectly capable of walking in to the store.

Larry:
As I said before, I'm looking at price vs performance, and I can't think of anything that 2 HD4850's can't do very well. I know that upgrading is made easier by going with the 4870X2 since I can just drop another card in for CF, but realistically, by the time I had to upgrade 2 HD4850's, I'd be looking at a whole new generation of cards. However, with a second person urging me to look in to the 4870X2, I'll certainly do more research on it before making a purchase.

Thanks to everyone so far for the feedback, and keep it coming. I'll look in to the various hardware suggestions and post an updated list of choices.
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Old September 4, 2008, 11:22 AM
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OK, so the updated list so far looks like this:

Case - SilverStone TJ09 Black W/Clear Side
Here's a more in depth look at the case

PSU - BFG ES800 800W
(I honestly believe that the Corsair PSU's are the best bang for your buck, but the thought of those hideous stickers they plaster on their PSU's makes me want to gag. And with my case choice, I'd have to stare at it all the time.)

MB Foxconn X38A ATX LGA775 Crossfire
(I looked in to this MB and it's competition quite a bit. I'm not set in stone on this choice, but I'm really not seeing much out there that gives the same performance and features as this board for even remotely the same price.)
CPU - Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83GHZ Yorkfield 1333FSB 12MB
Or - Intel Core 2 Dual E8400 3.0GHZ Wolfdale 1333FSB 6MB
(I'm still looking at the cost vs performance between the dual and quad CPU's.)

Video 2x Sapphire radeon HD4850 512MB
(I looked at 2x HD4870's and the 4870X2. There's no denying they're better performing, of course. But I can't seem to justify spending an extra $200 when 2x HD4850's have no problems crushing everything I could throw at them.)

RAM Mushkin Ascent PC2-8500 2X2GB DDR2-1066 4GB Kit

HDD 2x Seagate Barracuda 640GB 7200RPM SATA II 32MB CACHE

Optical Drive - LG GH22NS30 Black SATA
(Chosen almost purely on drive volume, so if anyone knows of a good deal on a silent drive, let me know.)

Cooling

CPU HS - Thermalright ULTRA-120 Extreme Black Ed.

Fans - I'm looking for fans of various sizes for the case, CPU-HS, etc.. They must be either black, or have red LED's. (Or interchangeable LED's that I could swap red ones in for.)

Last edited by Caldezar; September 4, 2008 at 02:01 PM.
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Old September 4, 2008, 11:47 AM
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As a side note, I'm also looking for an external readout (LED, digital, whatever) for monitoring case and cpu temp. Something minimalistic would be preferred, I'm not in to crazy bright flashing lights on my machine.
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Old September 4, 2008, 12:00 PM
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These are pretty neat. they remind me of my old tomytronic scramble video game

NCIX.com - Buy Scythe Kaze Master 5.25IN Bay Fan Controller Backlit VFD Display Fan Temp Black - KM01-BK In Canada.

it's kinda expensive though and you lose a 5.25" bay

this one fits in a 3.5" bay, but i think it only controls 2 fans and temp sensors as opposed to 4

NCIX.com - Buy Scythe Kaze Master 3.5IN Bay Fan Controller Backlit VFD Display Fan Temp Black - KM01-3.5-BK In Canada.
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