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Thread: New Build - Advice Please

  1. #1
    Not Very Senior Member RavenNight's Avatar
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    New Build - Advice Please

    Hi! I've been out of the Hardware game for far too long, and now I've got some money it's time to massively improve on my existing system (see sig for details!). My current prospective line up is below, I don't need a case or sound card as I'm carrying those over from my current system. Everything will be from Scan, apart from the Graphics Card (which I'm very unsure about!). Requirements are to rock current games at 1280x1024, especially with a view to Empire: Total War, manage a bit of 3D Modelling and Fluid Analysis and some Photo Editing on the side. I'm running Windows Vista Ultimate.

    CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 Here £136.83
    Motherboard: Asus P5Q Pro Turbo, Intel P45 Here £118.44
    Memory: 2x4GB (2x2GB) Corsair TwinX DDR2 XMS2, PC2-8500 (1066) Here £84.76
    HDD: 1TB Samsung HD103UJ Spinpoint F1 Here £76.92
    PSU: 550w Corsair VX Series Here £69.93
    GPU: ATI 4970 1GB ~£150

    Total ~£650

    Thoughts on the general setup? Is that PSU meaty enough? Alternative GPUs in that price benchmark are welcome!

    Thanks guys!
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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    I would go for an AMD based build TBH!!

    It would be faster for the same price.


    This is what I would go for:

    AMD Phenom II X4 920 ~ £159

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=924551

    Alternatively you could go for an X3 720 for £121

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Product.aspx?WebProductId=965904

    The Phenom II X4 920 is much faster than a Q8300 and is between a Q9300 and Q9400 in speed:

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/16147

    The Phenom II X3 720 is also very fast for the money:

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/16382

    Some people have unlocked the fourth core. The Phenom II X3 720 also has an unlocked multiplier too.

    Basically it is a Phenom II X4 920 with one less core and DDR3 support. AM3 processors will fit in both AM2+ and AM3 motherboards. The benefits of DDR3 do not seem great though with the Phenom II so far.



    Asus 790GX ~ £103

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Asus-...A-RAID-ATX-VGA

    If I was going for 8gb of RAM I would go for PC2-6400 as it will stress the memory controller less!! However you will need to have 2 64bit version of Vista though!

    I would go for the following RAM:

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/s...tml?GEL-BD644G

    Two sets should set you back around £69. I use that RAM and it is great!!

    HD4870 1gb for £155:

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/s...html?SAP-48701

    GTX260 216 shader version for £151:

    http://www.novatech.co.uk/novatech/specpage.html?GW-265

    Both graphics cards are similar although the GTX260 is meant to be slightly ahead. They are quite similar though so it comes down to personal preference really!!

    Both would be overkill at your resolution though. However it does mean at 1280x1024 most games should be able to be set at high quality settings for a while(hopefully). It also means that if you upgrade your monitor too you should be able to play many games at 1680x1050 and 1920x1080 at decent settings too!!

    I would go for this Enermax modular PSU:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/525W-...uard-SafeGuard

    They also have UK based support.

    Also make sure you use your free Scan postage and check Today Only for special deals. Also Novatech do free postage too!!

    This should keep you to your original budget. You will also have a faster system to boot(no pun intended)!!
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 04-04-2009 at 01:20 PM.


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    Not Very Senior Member RavenNight's Avatar
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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Thanks for that, I'll do some research on the AMD side of things. The Graphics cards do seem very even, with the GTX260 winning slightly on a lower res (like mine) and the ATI doing better on a higher res.

    I've been looking at some benchmarks, and would I see a return for the extra £150 that Core i7 would cost?
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  4. #4
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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RavenNight View Post

    I've been looking at some benchmarks, and would I see a return for the extra £150 that Core i7 would cost?
    You are looking at more than that!! You are looking at around £200 once you include the extra cost of 6gb of 1600mhz DDR3.

    Also if you do not intend to try unlocking the Phenom II X3 720 or doing a mega overclock on the Phenom II X4 920 you can go for cheaper 780G based motherboard for around £60.

    This Asus will do the job nicely for £61:

    http://www.ebuyer.com/product/150278

    This 790GX motherboard for £91 would be also good:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/JandW...Board-Graphics

    Whether you go with Core i7 depends on whether the software you use for your 3D Modelling and Fluid Analysis will benefit from it and how much you do.

    If the build is mostly for gaming then the Phenom II is fast enough. The extra £200 could mean that you could get a higher end graphics card for instance or it could go towards a graphics card update in two years time.

    Here are some reviews of the AM2 Phenom II processors:

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpu...-920-review/14

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-ph...review-test/21

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/16147

    Here are some reviews of the AM3 Phenom II processors:

    http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpu...10-am3-cpus/13

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-ph...-review-am3/26

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/16382


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    Not Very Senior Member RavenNight's Avatar
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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    There's a rather handy comparison here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=81&p2=52#

    The current heirarchy at around this price point appears to be:
    CPU____________________Individual___Bundle (CPU, Mobo and RAM)
    Intel i7 920________________£242___________£500
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550_____£212___________£398
    AMD Phenom II X4 940_______£192___________£370
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400_____£186___________£372
    AMD Phenom II X4 920_______£160___________£338
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200_____£132___________£322

    It should be noted that the performance increase is pretty small from the Q8200 to the Q9550, while the i7 is miles out in front. The big benefit of the i7 is that is a little more 'future-proof' than the others, and it overclocks well (I'm happy to OC) any thoughts on where the value points are in that little list? The only thing I can see that is glaringly obvious is that the Q9400 is overpriced.
    AMD 3700+ San Diego @ 2.8GHz | Zalman CNPS 9500LED + Arctic Cooling MX-1 | Asus A8N-SLi Deluxe + Zalman Northbridge | 1024MB DDR RAM (2 x 512MB Corsair XMS Pro TwinX) | Leadtek nVidia 6600GT 128MB | Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Music | 2x80GB Hitachi Deskstar SATA-II (RAID 0) | Gigabyte 3D Aurora Case | Hiper Type-R 580W Modular | Enermax Ultimate Fan Controller| Microsoft Nautral 4000 | Logitech G5 + fUnc 1030| Ideazon Fang | SpeedLink Medusa 5.1 Surround Headset | Samsung SM913N 19" TFT | Compro DVB-T200

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RavenNight View Post
    There's a rather handy comparison here:

    http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=81&p2=52#

    The current heirarchy at around this price point appears to be:
    CPU____________________Individual___Bundle (CPU, Mobo and RAM)
    Intel i7 920________________£242___________£500
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550_____£212___________£398
    AMD Phenom II X4 940_______£192___________£370
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400_____£186___________£372
    AMD Phenom II X4 920_______£160___________£338
    Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200_____£132___________£322

    It should be noted that the performance increase is pretty small from the Q8200 to the Q9550, while the i7 is miles out in front. The big benefit of the i7 is that is a little more 'future-proof' than the others, and it overclocks well (I'm happy to OC) any thoughts on where the value points are in that little list? The only thing I can see that is glaringly obvious is that the Q9400 is overpriced.
    There are also cheaper 790GX motherboards avilable too:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/search.aspx?q=790GX

    You can save another £30 on the price. Also with the Phenom II X4 940 with its unlocked multiplier you can use a 780G based motherboard to overclock with as opposed toa 790GX A decent 780G based motherboard is around £60.

    Also do consider the Phenom II X3 720 too!! The Phenom II X3 720 and X4 940 an be overclocked to 3.4ghz+ easily due to their unlocked multipliers even with cheaper motherboards. Many people have unlocked the fourth cores on X3 720 processors using 790GX motherboards. Some Hexus members have done this.

    However TBH if you have £150 to £200 extra then get the Core i7.


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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Rememeber when a basic Corei7 build when i was released was like £700 (with 6gb 1600mhz). £500 seems like a pretty good deal now.

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    It seems to me you don't actually need to spend so much money. Why are you buying a new PSU? Whats wrong with your current one? Why do you need 8 GB of RAM? Why, why why! You’re running a 1280x1024 system and you’re not doing anything out of the ordinary! You havent even mentioned if you will be overclocking or not, so I presume you wont be, which means you dont need a top of the range motherboard.

    This system below would be a great improvement on your current one, and its rock solid.

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720 = £119.26Here
    Motherboard: ASUS M3A78 PRO 780G = £66.91 Here
    Memory: OCZ 4GB Kit Reaper 1066MHz = £50.81 Here
    HDD: Spinpoint F1 1TB = £77.89 Here
    GPU: Asus HD 4850 512MB DDR3 = £113.99 Here 512MB is more than enough for you.

    TOTAL = £428.26

    The performance difference from the system you originally quoted would barely be noticable, if you even notice at all.
    Last edited by DeludedGuy; 06-04-2009 at 11:23 AM.

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RavenNight View Post
    ... manage a bit of 3D Modelling and Fluid Analysis and some Photo Editing on the side.
    Quote Originally Posted by DeludedGuy View Post
    You’re running a 1280x1024 system and you’re not doing anything out of the ordinary!
    Depending on the modelling, analysis and photo-editing software the OP is using, he might see a significant improvement in some applications with a more powerful system. Just because he is gaming @ 1280 x 1024 doesn't mean he doesn't need the power for other types of activity.

    As far as bang for buck goes, a Phenom X3 in a 790GX mobo would rock on toast - based on Hexus reviews you could probably overclock the graphics core sufficiently to use the onboard graphics for gaming @ 1280 x 1024 (tbh, that might be an exercise in hyperbole!): although I am once again going to point out the Gigabyte GA-MA790X-UD4, which for £93 provides CrossFire, SB750, PWM cooling, numerous expansion capabilities and strikes me as a good balance between performance and price - a worthy considerstion since you're definitely going for discreet graphics. As CAT has mentioned, some Phenom II X3s can have a fourth core unlocked just by enabling ACC in the BIOS, and they overclock very well.

    For raw power, i7 is obviously the way to go, and the X58 chipset supports both SLI and CrossFire giving you more options for expanding your graphical capabilities in the future, whether you go for ATI or NVidia now. The down side is the entry costs, although as previously mentioned they are on the way down now.

    The other thing to consider is longevitiy. An AMD AM2 or AM3 platform looks likely to be upgradeable through a couple of generations of processor (Gigabyte do an AM3 version of the board I linked to earlier) as AMD seem to be concentrating on socket compatibility at the minute - a S775 system will be EOL very quickly as none of Intel's next generation processors will be using it; and there seem to be some questions as to how long S1366 will be around too. It may be that if you bought AM3 this year, AMD could release a new generation of processors next year that are as good as, or better than, i7: and you could just drop one in as an upgrade...

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    Depending on the modelling, analysis and photo-editing software the OP is using, he might see a significant improvement in some applications with a more powerful system. Just because he is gaming @ 1280 x 1024 doesn't mean he doesn't need the power for other types of activity.
    He would only see a significant improvment if he went for an i7 build, if he went for anything else there would be little gain. Personally, either go for a bang4buck build, which means a Phenom II X3 720, or go all out and buy an i7 build.

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by DeludedGuy View Post
    He would only see a significant improvment if he went for an i7 build, if he went for anything else there would be little gain. Personally, either go for a bang4buck build, which means a Phenom II X3 720, or go all out and buy an i7 build.
    Isn't that pretty much exactly what I said?

    Anyway, the accretion of small improvements can make a big difference over the course of year. Even saving "just" 5 minutes per working day will add up to effectively getting 2.5 extra working days in a year - so improvements don't *have* to be "significant" to provide long-term gains...

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by DeludedGuy View Post
    GPU: Asus HD 4850 512MB DDR3 = £113.99
    I'd swap this out for a 260GTX, since they have the EVGA SSC one of Scan today only for just £140

    Edit: Ah balls, just noticed it is the 192 core one

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Take a look at the Q6700 - which is a great deal on Scan at the moment. Will overclock beautifully to around 3.4-3.6GHz.

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by scaryjim View Post
    For raw power, i7 is obviously the way to go, and the X58 chipset supports both SLI and CrossFire giving you more options for expanding your graphical capabilities in the future, whether you go for ATI or NVidia now.
    Not all the x58 motherboards can do this. I assume that the OP is looking at the Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R and this is Crossfire only.

    TBH I think that the OP should either go for a Phenom II X3 720 or X4 920 for best value for money or spend the extra and get a Core i7.


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    Not Very Senior Member RavenNight's Avatar
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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Thanks for all the input guys! It does essentially boil down to the two options, the Fluid and FEA work will kill whatever processor I throw at it, that's a given. But quad-core is a definite advantage for that (provided I get the program to ask the CPU nicely...) 8gb doesn't cost that much compared to the rest of the build, I'd rather have the headroom.

    I can/do overclock, my beloved 3700 San Diego is still thumping away so i'm not averse to tweaking a system, but I'm not going to go for any records and a solid base speed is more desirable than

    So it's either the Bang4Buck build using the cheap AMD setup or the BangMaBudget and get the i7. There's not much point going anywhere inbetween.
    AMD 3700+ San Diego @ 2.8GHz | Zalman CNPS 9500LED + Arctic Cooling MX-1 | Asus A8N-SLi Deluxe + Zalman Northbridge | 1024MB DDR RAM (2 x 512MB Corsair XMS Pro TwinX) | Leadtek nVidia 6600GT 128MB | Creative SoundBlaster X-Fi Xtreme Music | 2x80GB Hitachi Deskstar SATA-II (RAID 0) | Gigabyte 3D Aurora Case | Hiper Type-R 580W Modular | Enermax Ultimate Fan Controller| Microsoft Nautral 4000 | Logitech G5 + fUnc 1030| Ideazon Fang | SpeedLink Medusa 5.1 Surround Headset | Samsung SM913N 19" TFT | Compro DVB-T200

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    Re: New Build - Advice Please

    Quote Originally Posted by RavenNight View Post
    Thanks for all the input guys! It does essentially boil down to the two options, the Fluid and FEA work will kill whatever processor I throw at it, that's a given. But quad-core is a definite advantage for that (provided I get the program to ask the CPU nicely...) 8gb doesn't cost that much compared to the rest of the build, I'd rather have the headroom.

    I can/do overclock, my beloved 3700 San Diego is still thumping away so i'm not averse to tweaking a system, but I'm not going to go for any records and a solid base speed is more desirable than

    So it's either the Bang4Buck build using the cheap AMD setup or the BangMaBudget and get the i7. There's not much point going anywhere inbetween.
    If you can afford it go for the Core i7. However if you cannot go for the Phenom II. Make sure you keep the build to what you can afford. It is always easy to say "if I spend X amount more I will get Y amount processing power" and so before you know it you will have spent hundreds of quid more.

    £200 for example can go towards a nice 24" monitor with a PVA,MVA or IPS LCD for example. If colour accuracy is not important then you will be able to get a 24" TN LCD for around £200!


    Those despicable Elk,stealing the pond weed!

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