$2,500 Total Awesomeness Build - Need Advice

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 19, 2003
Messages
4,172
1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc
Competitive gaming, video editing, watching high quality movies, filestoring, benchmarking, programming, and future-proof activities.
2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?
$2,500 maximum, everything included.
3) Where do you live?
Massachusetts.
4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. Please be very specific.
Everything - complete new build. I am also seeking a FULL TOWER case. Finding a good one that would leave plenty of room for a crossfire set up is difficult. I want at least 8 GB of RAM. I was hoping triple channel with at least 8GB but I can't find the right et up. AND... I want a monitor that is 120hz, 0ms input lag, and is over 22" or 24".
5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.
Completely new build - I have been playing on a 5 year old computer.
6) Will you be overclocking?
Yes, I will be benchmarking and experimenting. I will overclock.
7) What size monitor do you have and/or plan to have?
This is the tough part. I have been playing with a CRT all my life. All LCD displays disappoint me with their high input lag! I want a beautiful monitor that is at least 22" (24" preferred) that has 0 ms input lag and can run 120 hz. Is there any such monitor?
8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?
ASAP.
9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? etc.
RAID, Crossfire support, plenty of USB, firewire if possible, just about everything to be future-proof. The more, the better.
10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license?
Will get Windows 7 Home Premium.


The current work-in-progress build:

Working Build:

MOBO - EVGA E758-A1 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 Intel X58 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131359 (I like EVGA).
CPU - Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202
HSF - Tuniq Tower 120 Universal CPU Cooler 120mm - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835154001 (Good? Bad Mounts?)
RAM - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231304 (BUT I WANT MORE RAM).
HDD - (2 RAID0) OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227395

OR

(2 RAID0) OCZ Vertex 30GB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227393

OR

(2 RAID0) Intel X25-M 80GB?

NOTE: I would like RAID0! I read here that it is very fast. But I want to have decent sized space for my boot/gaming/apps drive. What should I go for?

(1) Western Digital Caviar black WD6401AALS - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319
Drive - LG Blu-ray Burner Model BH08LS20 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136164

OR

Pioneer Blu-ray Burner Model 205BKS - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827129051

GPU - (CROSSFIRE) XFX HD-587A-ZNF9 Radeon HD 5870 1GB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150443
Monitor - ViewSonic FuHzion X Series VX2265wm Black 22" 3ms 120Hz - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824116402 (But it has backlight bleeding and a whole lot of crap. Anyone have better recommendations? Newer displays?)
PSU - Corsair 850HX
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium

Request: I would like a top choice and an alternative choice, if anything!
 
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Silver5656

Limp Gawd
Joined
Feb 10, 2004
Messages
238
any reason why everything is from newegg? or are the links just for reference. Since you seem to be going for air cooled, i would recommend the megahalems b or true (screw the cogage true spirit). And for a case, the 800d seems to be the popular one to go for. Our builds are pretty similar. You also forgot to include a power supply (unless im blind). I personally went for the corsair 850hx, which would be plently for your build. If you need an actual blu ray burner to burn blu rays, i would also recommend the 8x pioneer. A little more expensive, but burns great.
 

koda_

n00b
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Messages
43
Well, I put a list together, but I couldn't do it without going over budget. I always seem to have that problem, especially when I'm buying for myself. Without the monitor it seems pretty easy to go all-out for 2.5k, though.

Oh, and I just noticed that the Intel X25-M's went up like 80 bucks on Newegg... grrr...
 

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 19, 2003
Messages
4,172
I am flexible. Share it with me, if you can. I am willing to do $3,000 with the monitor.
 

koda_

n00b
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Messages
43
Well, all right. I'm going to be doing a similar build in about a month.. I'm not spending quite as much, due to the fact that I'm migrating a few components over from my old rig... but by-and-large, if it were my money, this is how I'd do it.

In a full tower, I'd probably get the Corsair 800D myself. Maybe I could suggest the Cooler Master HAF 932? It costs significantly less, and I prefer the 800D myself, but maybe you like this one more. It's still a very popular choice. I'm not sure what you're looking for in a case, stylistically.

For an SSD, I usually see people going with the Intel X25-M for a single drive or OCZ Vertex for RAID0. For the power supply, if you know that you're going to overclock and run Crossfire in the future, having 1000W at-hand is probably a good idea. Plus, this one will have two 8-pin connectors for the motherboard that I suggest, and the smaller Corsairs only have one. This is only relevant if you plan on OC'ing hard, though, which is pretty much the point of this particular board. You'd probably want watercooling+ at that point, but it gives you room to expand if you decide you want to.

$139.98 - Cooler Master HAF 932 Full Tower
$239.99 - Corsair CMPSU-1000HX 1000W Modular Power Supply
$288.99 - Intel Core i7-920 Bloomfield 2.66GHz LGA 1366 CPU
$404.99 - EVGA E760 Classified LGA 1366 E-ATX Motherboard
$249.99 - Mushkin Redline 998691 6GB (3x2GB) DDR3-1600 6-7-6-18 Memory
$409.99 - Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 1GB Video Card
$79.99 - Prolimatech Mega Shadow (Megahalems) Nickel Plated "Black Edition" CPU Heatsink
$5.99 - OCZ Freeze Extreme Thermal Compound
$299.98 - 2x OCZ Vertex Series 2.5'' 30GB Solid State Drive
$19.98 - 2x OCZ SSD 2.5'' / 3.5'' Adapter Bracket
$109.99 - Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB Hard Drive
$119.99 - LG Black 8X BD-ROM, 16x DVD-ROM, 40X CD-ROM SATA Optical Drive
$139.99 - Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM

Total: 2,394.85

There are some mail-in rebates here-and-there, too, but I didn't really take the time to record them.

I think that covers everything... all you'd have to do is pick out a monitor and a couple 120mm fans that you like for the heatsink (Delta, Scythe, Xigmatek, or Noctua fans all come recommended... depends on how much airflow/noise you want). You can add another 6GB of memory in the future if you feel like you need it... same with adding a second 5870. You should be able to crank your CPU pretty high if you feel so inclined. You could spring for bigger SSD's if you want to be able to store more programs on them, but they get very expensive very quickly as you get higher and higher in capacity.
 
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Master Bob

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
378
I feel that with this memory, you are paying an extra $100 for the low timings (which, frankly, do not provide much of a performance benefit) and for RAM that runs at 1.65V. For the i7/i5s 1.65V is the absolute maximum voltage you can use, any higher and you run a serious risk of frying something.

I'd rather get either the 3x2GB DDR3 1600 G.Skill for $149 or the 3x2GB DDR3 2000 G.Skill for $199+FS, There isn't much of a performance benefit to getting the lower timings, especially for $100 more.

I'd rather spend that $100 on getting a cheap Nvidia 9XXX series card for dedicated PhysX.
 

koda_

n00b
Joined
Aug 17, 2008
Messages
43
I feel that with this memory, you are paying an extra $100 for the low timings (which, frankly, do not provide much of a performance benefit) and for RAM that runs at 1.65V. For the i7/i5s 1.65V is the absolute maximum voltage you can use, any higher and you run a serious risk of frying something.

I'd rather get either the 3x2GB DDR3 1600 G.Skill for $149 or the 3x2GB DDR3 2000 G.Skill for $199+FS, There isn't much of a performance benefit to getting the lower timings, especially for $100 more.

I'd rather spend that $100 on getting a cheap Nvidia 9XXX series card for dedicated PhysX.
It's true that you could spend less on the memory, definitely. Just so you know though, even with that first set, G.Skill themselves recommend feeding them 1.65v and claim that it's the optimum voltage for those modules. I feel like those might not have as much headroom. I guess I like the Redlines because I've seen them used in a lot of stable high-OC configurations -- you can run them as rated for fast timings, or loosen the timings up a bit and run them at a higher frequency. If I was going to go the G.Skill route I might look into the Pi Black modules, though, I've heard good things about those. In general, I picked the Mushkin ones with the idea of creating a good overclocking environment more so than just 'more money for less latency'.

I don't have a whole lot of first-hand experience here, but I've done a lot of reading, and I generally just try to pay close attention to users' configurations and results. So, take my advice with a grain of salt, or don't, I'm not really sure. :p
 

86 5.0L

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
7,069
Havent done a build list like this in awhile :p If I would build a $2500 rig this would be it

$426.98 - i7 920 + OCZ Gold 3 x 2GB 1600

$399.98 - EVGA X58 SLI LE + Corsair 850HX

$409.99 - XFX HD5870 - Doesn't have to be this specific 5870

$299.99 - Intel X25-M 80GB

$109.99 - Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB

$304.98 - Pioneer 12x Blu-Ray burner + Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

$77.89 - Corsair H50

$239.99 - Lian Li PC-A71F

$229.99 - ASUS VH236HL-P 23" 2ms - I would let 120Hz trickle down to mainstream monitors first

$2,499.78
 

Alanstein

Limp Gawd
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
378
If you're going for competitive gaming and are a fan of overclocking, there's no reason you should limit yourself to one 5870.

This is how I'd do it:

SSD (250$)
1TB of storage (100$)
2x 5850 (600$)
Win7 64bit (120$)
Megahalems (70$)
HAF 932 (130$)
i7 920 (280$)
1000HX (220$)
EVGA 3 way SLI motherboard (300$) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...3188039&cm_re=evga_x58-_-13-188-039-_-Product
And two nice dell 24" monitors for 600$

600+600+130+120+250+100+70+280+220 = 2400.

What to do with that extra 100$?

Accessories, cd drive....

or a 9600GSO to enable physx on your games.

Either way, I'd choose a dual monitor and crossfire solution over a 5870 and single monitor any day of the week. Don't spend a boatload of money on a motherboard when you could put that money into things you'll see a noticeable improvement on.

Oh. or RAM. Forgot that part.
 

[X]eltic

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 24, 2007
Messages
289
I'm going to build a computer in a similar price range. This is what I am going for:

Code:
Enclosure ---------- : SilverStone Temjin Series TJ04B
Power Supply ------- : Seasonic X Series SS-750KM
Processor ---------- : Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz D0
Memory ------------- : Corsair Dominator GT PC3-12800 7-7-7-20 6GB
Videocard ---------- : Sapphire Radeon HD 5870 Vapor-X 1GB
Soundcard ---------- : Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1
Networkcard -------- : Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter
Motherboard -------- : Asus P6X58D Premium
Primary Harddisk --- : Intel X25-M Postville 160GB
Secondary Harddisk - : Western Digital RE4-GP 2TB
External Harddisk -- : Western Digital Elements Portable 500GB
HD Writer ---------- : Pioneer BDR-205
CPU Heatsink ------- : Prolimatech Megahalems
Harddisk Heatsink -- : Zalman ZM-2HC2
CPU Fan 120mm ------ : Noctua NF-P12
Case Fan 140mm ----- : Noctua NF-P14 FLX
Case Fan 120mm x2 -- : Noctua NF-P12
Monitor ------------ : LG W2600HP-BF 26"
Keyboard ----------- : Logitech Illuminated Keyboard
Mouse -------------- : Logitech G5 Laser Mouse (Rev. 2)
Speakers ----------- : Creative GigaWorks T40 Series II
Headphone ---------- : Sennheiser HD 448
Gamepad ------------ : Logitech Dual Action
Printer ------------ : Canon Pixma MP990
Operating System --- : Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

I'll expain some of my choices:

-Power supply: The Seasonic X Series SS-750KM because it is 80 Plus Gold certified, therefore super efficient, and extremely quiet. It's got very good reviews as well.

Silent PC Review
JonnyGURU Review
HardOCP Review

-Videocard: For me, crossfire is overkill so I went with a single HD 5870. The Sapphire card is nice because it has a great aftermarket cooler that is better than the reference one. Provides a quieter and cooler card.

bit-tech.net Review
Legit Reviews Review
Hardware Canucks Review

Soundcard: Went with the Auzentech X-Fi Forte 7.1 because it is basically a Creative X-Fi Titanium Fatal1ty Professional with better audio components.

Guru3D Review
Elite Bastards Review
XSReviews.co.uk Review

-Motherboard: I'm waiting for the Asus P6X58D Premium because it is one of the newest X58 boards with USB 3.0 and SATA 6 Gbps support. It is out of the box also ready for the 6-core Gulftown processors.

Dailymotion Videoreview
Newegg User Reviews

-Harddisks: The Intel X25-M Postville 160GB for my operating system, applications and games and the Western Digital RE4-GP 2TB for storage. Both harddisk are best in class: Intel is on top in the SSD consumer market, and the Western Digital drive is the fastest 2TB currently available. It's also an enterprise drive, and that's important, my storage drive should be reliable.

Intel SSDs in Raid 0 - Conclusion? It's not worth it.
WD RE4-GP 2TB Review - PC Perspective

HD Writer: Went with the Pioneer BDR-205 since I want to be able to play Blu-ray discs on my computer. The BDR-205 is the one of the few drives on the market that can burn Blu-ray discs at 12x speed. Its predecessor, the BDR-203, won the Cdrinfo.com 'Editor's Choice Award', so it should be a solid drive.

Cdrinfo.com Pioneer BDR-203 Review
Newegg Pioneer BDR-205 User Reviews

CPU Cooler: The Prolimatech Megahalems is one of the best air coolers on the market. It's also very good in low airflow situations, so it's quiet.

Silent PC Review
Hardware Canucks Review
Bigbruin Review

Monitor: I didn't want to go with a TN panel (poor colors, poor uniformity, poor viewing angles) and PVA panels have pretty high input lag. So I went with the LG W2600HP-BF 26" which is an IPS panel. According to Prad.de, it's very good for the occasional gamer and good for the hardcore gamer.

Prad.de Review
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
If you're even considering dual 120GB Vertex, ditch the dual 30GB instantly. The Intels would be faster for everything except large sequential writes. So... how often do you write large, sequential files to your OS/Apps drive aside from installing games/apps/os itself? :p More info on my SSD page: http://ssd.alphaq.org

For storage, I'd go for a 1TB Green instead of a 640GB black.

If the price difference between CL7 and CL9 is negligible to you, then go for the lower latency, of course. However, the performance difference isn't typically worth a noticeable price difference. Get RAM rated for the speed of your OC goal. If you plan for 4Ghz on the 920, get DDR3-1600.

Tuniq is old, ditch it -- its time has come and gone (conroe era). The CoGage True Spirit is made by Thermalright, so it performs similarly (but not as good) as the TRUE nor the Megahalems. H50 would be great if you don't plan on breaking OC'ing records, especially if you can find one for $55 (@ fry's last week, deal's dead now though, unfortunately).
 

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 19, 2003
Messages
4,172
Your page does not include the newer X25-M drives. From RAID0 benchmarks from searches (for X25-M) there shows little improvement in RAID0. But for the Vertex, are you saying there are significant improvements? What makes a single X25-M better than the Vertex and vice versa when in RAID0?

Thank you for all the suggestions!
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
Little improvement? In which? Random access? yes. In sequential write speeds? it doubles. How is that little improvement? :confused: G1 performs similarly to G2, no real huge performance difference. Read the anandtech articles.

The answer to your last question is on my page. As standalone drives, the Vertex can't keep up with the small random/sequential write speeds of the Intel. In RAID0, the Intels can't keep up with the Vertex drives' large sequential write speeds. So again, how often do you write large, sequential files to your OS/Apps drive aside from installing games/apps/os itself?
 

GeForceX

Supreme [H]ardness
Joined
Mar 19, 2003
Messages
4,172
Ah, I understand. Thanks for the explanation.

I have a question - I am considering both a sound card and an HDTV tuner. The problem is that require 1X Express interface. All motherboards on my wish list has only one. I am unable to have both. What should I do?
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
You can use a PCI-E 1x card in any size PCI-E slot, 1x or larger. If you have no available PCI-E slots, use the onboard HD Audio instead of a soundcard. The only thing you would really need a soundcard for is probably EAX. What speakers do you have?
 

PhantmShado

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 17, 2009
Messages
355
Spins down fully a lot more than it should, wears it a bunch quicker. I forget the actual physics of it, but I stopped questioning it after I heard about it when I lost one inside of a month without warning.
 

Sungaisu

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 18, 2009
Messages
416
Spins down fully a lot more than it should, wears it a bunch quicker. I forget the actual physics of it, but I stopped questioning it after I heard about it when I lost one inside of a month without warning.

Hes right. I just recently lost my green 1TB, granted after about 4-5 months. I lost 920GB of stuff. It's a PITA to wait for it to spool back up as well. Even to access a .txt file, if it was spooled down, you would have to wait 2-4 seconds for it to "Catch up". It's just a marketing tool I think they're using to pass something off that seems "Energy efficient".

Anyone actually know the power difference between the two?
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
Spins down fully a lot more than it should, wears it a bunch quicker. I forget the actual physics of it, but I stopped questioning it after I heard about it when I lost one inside of a month without warning.

Hes right. I just recently lost my green 1TB, granted after about 4-5 months. I lost 920GB of stuff. It's a PITA to wait for it to spool back up as well. Even to access a .txt file, if it was spooled down, you would have to wait 2-4 seconds for it to "Catch up". It's just a marketing tool I think they're using to pass something off that seems "Energy efficient".

Anyone actually know the power difference between the two?

Got any links?
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825

wow... another forum post, lol. i'll take that as a no? lol.

So, according to that thread, everyone is complaining about an old issue thats really a non-issue. Only the older drives are affected, and its not even a widespread issue. Therefore, I see no reason to stop recommending WD Green drives as storage drives... or am I missing something?
 
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Sungaisu

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 18, 2009
Messages
416
If you back your storage up then I suppose it won't be a problem. But for me, personally, I'll stick to something with a longer lifespan. I access my storage devices far to often, so a green drive for me is not needed.

Plus, I had my TB Shared on the network, if I was in the middle of playing a game, and someone on my network accessed the drive, it would freeze my entire PC for 3-5 seconds while it spun back up. Extremely annoying.

If someone who only needs to get on their storage device once and a while, then Green drives might be the way to go.
 

Roliath

2[H]4U
Joined
Aug 2, 2005
Messages
2,914
Your page does not include the newer X25-M drives. From RAID0 benchmarks from searches (for X25-M) there shows little improvement in RAID0. But for the Vertex, are you saying there are significant improvements? What makes a single X25-M better than the Vertex and vice versa when in RAID0?

Thank you for all the suggestions!

Little improvement? wrong buddy
I saw a huge increase going from one single x25, to two, to three in raid 0.
Three 80gb g1's in raid 0, cap out the ich10r controller at 670ish mb / sec
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
If you back your storage up then I suppose it won't be a problem. But for me, personally, I'll stick to something with a longer lifespan. I access my storage devices far to often, so a green drive for me is not needed.

Plus, I had my TB Shared on the network, if I was in the middle of playing a game, and someone on my network accessed the drive, it would freeze my entire PC for 3-5 seconds while it spun back up. Extremely annoying.

If someone who only needs to get on their storage device once and a while, then Green drives might be the way to go.

It seems that its only on the older EACS drives w/ 16MB cache, and only a small subset of those drives -- there's already a firmware fix. You're over-reacting as far as I can tell.
 

4LC4PON3

DERP!
Joined
Jan 18, 2005
Messages
4,230
seems like a waste of money for SSD drives for the small amount of space you get.
 

Shalafi

Fully [H]
Joined
Nov 6, 2009
Messages
22,928
while i agree, it's his money

he's better served just getting one SSD and saving the cash, but if he wants to spend it on that, more power to him
 

enginurd

Fully [H]
Joined
Jul 17, 2006
Messages
21,825
seems like a waste of money for SSD drives for the small amount of space you get.

You're not paying for space, you're paying for speed. Your computer is as fast as your slowest component, which is typically the HDD. You can read all the articles I linked to on my page for more info.
 

RandysWay

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Mar 5, 2004
Messages
1,595
I'd highly recommend that you check out this case:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811215012

It's basically a Lian-Li PC-X2000 and simply rebranded as an "ABS Canyon 695". I bought this case over a year ago and absolutely love it. A bit on the pricey side, but I plan on reusing this case throughout future builds. It's incredibly roomy and incredibly quiet. There's so much room, in fact, that it dissipates the heat very well with a 4.0-4.2ghz Core i7 overclock. They have a deal going on with a free copy of Windows 7 too, so that sweetens up the deal even more IMHO. :)


-R
 

MJZ

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Oct 25, 2009
Messages
1,200
An SSD in a new build is an absolute must-have in my opinion.

It is the single largest difference between a fast overall system and slow overall system.

My suggestions:

X25M G2s in RAID-0 over the Vertexes.
 

Squalish

Gawd
Joined
Aug 23, 2002
Messages
647
My aims are very similar to yours and around this pricepoint.

IMO you need a bit more money to achieve 'total awesomeness'. Unless you care about boot time or have some specific professional needs (uncompressed movie editting, lots of IOPS to a large database), you're better off saving the SSD for an upgrade in a year or two. Small SSDs just aren't a match currently for large ones - when hardware makers double the size of an SSD they are basically raid 0'ing or raid 5'ing it internally, without the need for any dedicated software/hardware... so don't bother doing it yourself. You can't afford a large one on $2500 unless you're willing to sacrifice gaming ability.

An i7 920 is preferable to i5 750. Phenom chips are unacceptably slow at the moment, and none of the other Intel chips are cost-effective yet. While the i920 itself is comparable or slightly inferior to the i5 750, it allows you to use an x58 motherboard. That x58 motherboard has space for two 16x PCIE slots, an x4 slot, and six sticks of RAM.

One of those PCIE slots is reserved for a 256GB SSD once prices come down to $2/GB and there are more competitors in the PCIE space. SATA just doesn't make sense for the low latency and high bandwidth that is the point of SSDs, and even then, SSDs are too expensive right now.

The six slots for RAM should be filled from the start with 3 packages of 2x2GB DDR3-1600. 12GB is cheap, it's more than you want for most anything at the moment in normal memory space, and currently it allows what have been described as spectacular results when a RAMdisk is used for something like a Photoshop scratch disk. This winter is a bad time to buy memory, but for an extra $200 over 4GB, you'll get something vastly superior to an SSD for accessing <10GB files, and you will not feel you're lacking anything RAM-wise for at least five years. The 4GB DIMMs are still unacceptably expensive, unfortunately. Skip the expensive gold-plated low-latency stuff - memory bandwidth is not generally a limiting factor in anything, DDR3-1600 just gives you the headroom to overclock your processor as you like without bothering you.

Corsair is the name you should trust with regards to affordable PSUs - do not skimp here, get 750 or 850 watts. Modular cables... meh. Won't help you when you're gaming, will it?

Other than WD Green on Linux or Seagate 7200.11 without an updated firmware, any of the hard drive lines are Good Enough for bulk storage.

USB 3.0 is many, many steps above USB 2.0. Strongly consider picking an x58 mobo that supports it, even if there's a premium. I'd also like to recommend a dual GigE board attached directly to a fileserver for backups (which itself is definitely part of future-proofing).

Watercooling is too expensive to justify even at this price. A quiet Xigmatek heatsink is not. This is another future upgrade point: if you can deal with the maintenance of a watercooled system, the quiet and overclocking headroom may be worth it to you at some point in the future. Watercooling really only becomes advisable if you're running a 5970 you want to overclock badly or back-to-front dual-slot cards - a situation which ruins airflow. With three or four PCIE slots, you shouldn't need it, though - you can space things well enough.

I was lucky enough to pick up a Rocketfish case on clearance at Best Buy for $50, equivalent to one of the Lian Li PC-70-line full tower cases. Look for cheap Lian Li rebrands if possible - they don't tend to last long once gamers discover them on sale.

There are a very small number of screens that can do true 120hz (IIRC two?) at twice the normal price, and they are TN panels with bad off-angle viewing (particularly in portrait) and 'adequate' in other categories. The newer VA and IPS screens which incorporate overdrive are also twice the normal price, but are beginning to approach the gaming performance of TN. Input lag, which is distinct from response time, is a crap-shoot for all techs, dependent on scalers and hidden internal elements: read several different reviews before you buy, buyer beware. Keep in mind that at 60hz one frame is 17ms, so that's the minimum increment you can measure reliably. If you can afford the power bill, are attached to a single monitor setup, and have tried and found unacceptable LCDs that are well-regarded, there is still a huge following for the 24" Sony FW900 CRT.

Myself, I am attached to the idea of an Eyefinity 5x1 portrait setup. I am still waiting for one HD5870 Eyefinity Six, however painful that wait is. While my present goal may prove too expensive to implement, particularly in the IPS screens that are much preferable for portrait work, this may change over time(start off with 3x1, uprade later) and a 2GB 5870 is still a damn fine card. In multimonitor setups, the 5970 only turns on its second core for 22 games at launch - after six months of driver development it may be worthwhile... but in a year or two when crossfire+eyefinity has been polished so will a second 2GB 5870, which can slot into the other PCIE slot. 2GB usable video memory will extend the life of these cards substantially - current games are hitting 700-800MB at times. The 5970 only has 1gb of usable (mirrored) memory. I would argue that for all but a few current games, the 5970 is overkill on one monitor.

Corsair CMPSU-850TX Cheap, reliable, ugly
3x CORSAIR XMS3 DHX 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 TW3X4G1600C9DHX
Xigmatek Dark Knight - direct heatpipe to CPU heatspreader contact seems to make the difference despite a smaller/lighter profile, and this line is legendary
i7 920
GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD7, or something $100 cheaper if you don't see yourself using anything over USB3 in five years.
2GB HD5870 Eyefinity Six Output Edition - You Know You Want It
 

wicked_chicken

Limp Gawd
Joined
Nov 30, 2009
Messages
299
My aims are very similar to yours and around this pricepoint.

IMO you need a bit more money to achieve 'total awesomeness'. Unless you care about boot time or have some specific professional needs (uncompressed movie editting, lots of IOPS to a large database), you're better off saving the SSD for an upgrade in a year or two. Small SSDs just aren't a match currently for large ones - when hardware makers double the size of an SSD they are basically raid 0'ing or raid 5'ing it internally, without the need for any dedicated software/hardware... so don't bother doing it yourself. You can't afford a large one on $2500 unless you're willing to sacrifice gaming ability.

An i7 920 is preferable to i5 750. Phenom chips are unacceptably slow at the moment, and none of the other Intel chips are cost-effective yet. While the i920 itself is comparable or slightly inferior to the i5 750, it allows you to use an x58 motherboard. That x58 motherboard has space for two 16x PCIE slots, an x4 slot, and six sticks of RAM.

One of those PCIE slots is reserved for a 256GB SSD once prices come down to $2/GB and there are more competitors in the PCIE space. SATA just doesn't make sense for the low latency and high bandwidth that is the point of SSDs, and even then, SSDs are too expensive right now.

The six slots for RAM should be filled from the start with 3 packages of 2x2GB DDR3-1600. 12GB is cheap, it's more than you want for most anything at the moment in normal memory space, and currently it allows what have been described as spectacular results when a RAMdisk is used for something like a Photoshop scratch disk. This winter is a bad time to buy memory, but for an extra $200 over 4GB, you'll get something vastly superior to an SSD for accessing <10GB files, and you will not feel you're lacking anything RAM-wise for at least five years. The 4GB DIMMs are still unacceptably expensive, unfortunately. Skip the expensive gold-plated low-latency stuff - memory bandwidth is not generally a limiting factor in anything, DDR3-1600 just gives you the headroom to overclock your processor as you like without bothering you.

Corsair is the name you should trust with regards to affordable PSUs - do not skimp here, get 750 or 850 watts. Modular cables... meh. Won't help you when you're gaming, will it?

Other than WD Green on Linux or Seagate 7200.11 without an updated firmware, any of the hard drive lines are Good Enough for bulk storage.

USB 3.0 is many, many steps above USB 2.0. Strongly consider picking an x58 mobo that supports it, even if there's a premium. I'd also like to recommend a dual GigE board attached directly to a fileserver for backups (which itself is definitely part of future-proofing).

Watercooling is too expensive to justify even at this price. A quiet Xigmatek heatsink is not. This is another future upgrade point: if you can deal with the maintenance of a watercooled system, the quiet and overclocking headroom may be worth it to you at some point in the future. Watercooling really only becomes advisable if you're running a 5970 you want to overclock badly or back-to-front dual-slot cards - a situation which ruins airflow. With three or four PCIE slots, you shouldn't need it, though - you can space things well enough.

I was lucky enough to pick up a Rocketfish case on clearance at Best Buy for $50, equivalent to one of the Lian Li PC-70-line full tower cases. Look for cheap Lian Li rebrands if possible - they don't tend to last long once gamers discover them on sale.

There are a very small number of screens that can do true 120hz (IIRC two?) at twice the normal price, and they are TN panels with bad off-angle viewing (particularly in portrait) and 'adequate' in other categories. The newer VA and IPS screens which incorporate overdrive are also twice the normal price, but are beginning to approach the gaming performance of TN. Input lag, which is distinct from response time, is a crap-shoot for all techs, dependent on scalers and hidden internal elements: read several different reviews before you buy, buyer beware. Keep in mind that at 60hz one frame is 17ms, so that's the minimum increment you can measure reliably. If you can afford the power bill, are attached to a single monitor setup, and have tried and found unacceptable LCDs that are well-regarded, there is still a huge following for the 24" Sony FW900 CRT.

Myself, I am attached to the idea of an Eyefinity 5x1 portrait setup. I am still waiting for one HD5870 Eyefinity Six, however painful that wait is. While my present goal may prove too expensive to implement, particularly in the IPS screens that are much preferable for portrait work, this may change over time(start off with 3x1, uprade later) and a 2GB 5870 is still a damn fine card. In multimonitor setups, the 5970 only turns on its second core for 22 games at launch - after six months of driver development it may be worthwhile... but in a year or two when crossfire+eyefinity has been polished so will a second 2GB 5870, which can slot into the other PCIE slot. 2GB usable video memory will extend the life of these cards substantially - current games are hitting 700-800MB at times. The 5970 only has 1gb of usable (mirrored) memory. I would argue that for all but a few current games, the 5970 is overkill on one monitor.

Corsair CMPSU-850TX Cheap, reliable, ugly
3x CORSAIR XMS3 DHX 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 TW3X4G1600C9DHX
Xigmatek Dark Knight - direct heatpipe to CPU heatspreader contact seems to make the difference despite a smaller/lighter profile, and this line is legendary
i7 920
GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD7, or something $100 cheaper if you don't see yourself using anything over USB3 in five years.
2GB HD5870 Eyefinity Six Output Edition - You Know You Want It

That was a fantastic post. I'm looking at building a similar machine in a few weeks. Consider this bookmarked.
 
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