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Thread: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

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    Question i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Hello Hexus community!

    I am a computer enthusiast who is currently in the final stages of preparing a gaming rig that has been in planning for almost a year. My current system from 2003 is still doing me proud for day to day tasks but it’s not up to scratch for the latest games. Thus I am looking to replace it with a new machine that I will build myself. Though I am confident that I have the skills necessary for the task, I have not built a modern machine so there may be some areas I have overlooked. Anyway, I'm hoping to make a purchase within the next two months so I thought it was about time I post on some forums to get some feedback before splashing the cash!

    I have been revising the spec each month as I read more reviews and new products come out to replace old ones. For the past few months I've been waiting to see what the Nvidia Fermi cards have to offer before I decide which GPU I am getting but I'm starting to veer towards the ATI side of things now due to their efficiency and the fact they've had more time for the drivers to be refined.

    Below I will outline my methodology, my budget and I have linked to the excel spreadsheet which contains my proposed spec.

    Usage Scenario/Requirements:

    • Gaming - Must play all the latest games (FPS, RTS etc) at top settings and with some Anti-Aliasing.
    • General Enthusiast Stuff (Video Encoding, Distributed Computing etc).
    • System Speed & Responsiveness - I have to feel a definitive leap over my existing rig. A SSD for a boot drive/app drive is a must here.


    Methodology:

    In previous systems, I have always gone for a "one mark below best approach" in order to maximise value for money whilst retaining enthusiast performance. Back when I bought my 2.8GHz Pentium 4 in 2003, the 3.06Ghz was available but for almost double the money. A similar situation currently exists with the i7 chips so obviously I will be going for the 920. I'm not too fussed about the 930 as I plan to overclock between 3.60-4.00GHz anyway and both chips seem equally capable of that. As you may have gathered, I usually design my systems to last at least 5 years and so ensuring that I am getting the latest tech is important but has to be balanced with overall budget. I'm still tempted by the 5970 so that I can put silly amounts of Image Quality (AA, AF) into each game I play but I'm not sure I could justify £570 on a GPU and it would also be going against my proposed methodology that has worked so well for me. It will probably depreciate like hell too!

    The System:

    Copy & Paste for Excel 2007: faintestclue.com/Future Computer Spec - March 2010 Prices - Hexus.xlsx
    Copy & Paste for Excel 97-2003: faintestclue.com/Future Computer Spec - March 2010 Prices - Hexus.xls
    Copy & Paste for OpenOffice Calc: faintestclue.com/Future Computer Spec - March 2010 Prices - Hexus.ods

    The budget for the system is between £1500-£1850 inc. VAT.

    There are two tabs. The spec is nearly identical but with slight variations in the storage drives used.

    Exclusions:

    I will be keeping my existing peripherals (keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers) and I already have the OS so this is not included in the specsheet.

    Final Thoughts:

    Aside from discussion of the core specification listed here, I would like to hear from anyone who has recently built a similar system who may be able to share any tips/gems/nuggets of information. Things such as required or useful cables that aren't included in the box or useful installation techniques are also welcome and may be of use to others who are considering a similar system.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this LONG post and I look forward to your constructive criticism
    Last edited by scottismo; 07-03-2010 at 07:54 PM. Reason: Included links to Excel 97-2003 & OpenOffice Calc for people without the latest version of Office.

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Bump.

    I don't have anything to say on this particular setup but would also be interested in others' comments as my current systems is in the process of dying a noisy death and I'd be looking for something similar.

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Can't seem to get to the links...am I just supposed to be able to click on them?

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Quote Originally Posted by kmac View Post
    Can't seem to get to the links...am I just supposed to be able to click on them?
    Nope - new users can't post links, but I guess in his excitement the OP forgot to read that bit

    OP, please detail spec in your post rather than external links, thanks

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    I read the forum rules completely; it did indeed say no links which is why I was a bit cheeky and put them up as copy and paste items instead. Simply copying "faintestclue.com/Future Computer Spec - March 2010 Prices - Hexus.xlsx" into your browser address bar takes you to the complete spec for example. No http or www required. I figured you would be able to tell by the detail in my post that it was not a spam link lol...

    Anyway you don't get the same level of information but I have posted the spec here as bullet points for added convenience...

    Thanks for reading so far

    • Intel Core i7 920, D0 (SLBEJ) - S1366 (B), Nehalem, 2.66GHz, 8MB Cache, 20x Multiplier, 130W, Retail
    • HD-587A-ZND9 - 1GB XFX HD 5870 XXX, PCI-E 2.0(x16), 5200MHz GDDR5, GPU 875MHz, 1600 Cores, DP/ 2x DL DVI-I/ HDMI
    • 6GB (3x2GB) Corsair XMS3 DDR3, PC3-12800 (1600), 240 Pin, Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 7-7-7-20 1T
    • Asus P6X58D Premium, X58, SATA 6Gbps, USB3, GbE Lan, 3 way SLi/Xfire, DDR3, 8Ch Audio
    • 850W Corsair 850HX PSU, ATX, EPS12V, Modular, UK Version
    • 1TB Samsung HD103SJ Spinpoint F3, SATA 3Gb/s, 7200rpm, 32MB Cache, 8.9 ms, NCQ, OEM
    • 80GB Intel MLC-Flash, 2.5" SSD, SATA 3Gb/s, Read 250MB/s, Write 70MB/s, OEM
    • Sony AD-7240S-0B 24x DVD±R, 12xDVD±DL, DVD+RW x8/-RWx6 ,12xRAM SATA, Black, OEM
    • Silverstone Fortress FT01B-W Tower Case Black Aluminum with Window w/o PSU
    • Prolima Megahalems Black Anodised Mega Shadow 6xHeatpipe Tower CPU Cooler for 1156 & 775/1366
    • 120mm Noctua NF-P12 Vortex-Control Quiet Case Fan (Using Vortex-Control Notches)
    • Arctic Cooling MX-2 High Performance Thermal Compound (it's what arctic use on their Coolers)


    TOTAL: £1,613.21 (March 2010 Prices)

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Wow, didn't realise RAM was so expensive

    Also, what are you getting for the modo to be £236? I know there's SATA 6GBs and USB 3 but apart from that what feature do you need that makes this mobo so expensive?

    Good choice of HDD - I have two of those, silent and fast
    The Sony Optiarc is also a decent optical drive, also silent and fast
    The Megahalems will come with thermal grease so you can save yourself £3.40
    You could save about £100 by getting this Lian Li case instead ( I assume you want a side window)
    http://www.scan.co.uk/Products/Lian-...Window-w-o-PSU
    Good heatsink, will be cool n quiet
    Last edited by kmac; 09-03-2010 at 09:45 PM.

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    My apologies...the excel file has my rationale behind picking each part but I did not include that in my previous post.

    • CPU - Cheap, fast and highly overclockable
    • GPU - Fastest DX11 card except 5970
    • RAM - Low Latency (CAS7)
    • MOBO - USB 3, SATA 6Gbps & Asus Reliability
    • PSU - Roomy enough for future expansion, modular for tidiness
    • HDD - Ample storage and speedy
    • SSD - Boot Drive/App Drive/1-3 Games I'm currently playing
    • OPTICAL - Based on NEC/Optiarc and good review from myce
    • CASE - "Good looking, good reviews and room for a 5970 if I choose to get one but not massive like the Corsair Obsidian"
    • COOLING1 - Best performance under heavy load
    • COOLING2 - Goes well with the Megahalems apparently
    • COOLING3 - Good performance according to hardocp.com and easy to get hold of in the UK
      Not sure if I need this though with a Retail CPU?


    I have always owned Asus boards and that particular board is the latest x58 board I've seen and the only one they do with the features you mention (USB3 etc). With the 16+2 phase stuff, I would hope it to be an excellent overclocker, though I don't know how much of that is a marketing gimmick. I have to admit though I haven't really bothered to consider boards from other brands because most of them are still expensive - I've not seen one that was so cheap that it would be worth my while forfeiting Asus for. If you know of one however, please don't hesitate to point me in its direction so I can check out some reviews

    The RAM is ~£40-50 more expensive than usual because it is CAS7 latency rather than CAS9 which most DDR3 is (excluding Corsair Dominators and such).

    EDIT: I just realised that you have seen the prices so you must have read the excel file and therefore seen my rationale behind each part hehe.

    I see you edited your post so I will comment here rather than a new post. The case looks interesting and I will definitely look for some good reviews on it but I'm not sure how it is saving me £100? The FT01 is just over £50 more expensive!

    With the DVD Writer, it's either going to be the Optiarc or the Lite-On iHAS524; I've not decided yet.

    Good to know the heatsink comes with some paste, any idea if it is of similar quality to what I have specified rather than some cheap ole stuff!? Also, as I am buying a retail CPU, will there be paste already applied (I've not bought retail before)? If so, I will have to investigate how to remove it cleanly and apply the presumably better stuff...

    Do you have your F3's in RAID? If so, any idea what kind of read/write's you get on them? I'm trying to work out if its worth doing that instead of going for the 1TB drive which is a little bit faster than a single 500GB drive apparently.
    Last edited by scottismo; 09-03-2010 at 10:02 PM.

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    BUMP

    Hmm I am surprised there is not more interest on this here at Hexus. Maybe the subject has been done to death or there are not many system builders on here

    Regardless, I welcome more comments

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Frankly, if you can afford the best (i.e. the spec you've outlined above) there's not an awful lot left to say! You'd get far more response if you were trying to get a bang-for-buck build, where the little tweaks to spec can make a proportionately greater cost saving / performance difference. If you're looking for out-and-out performance whatever the price, and you can afford all of the above, then good on you

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Well I'll give you that point my friend I've always had the perception that there was greater interest in the high end, even if you couldn't afford it, as it was more fun to speculate. For example I'd love a six core CPU and a couple of 5970's. I can afford them but I can't justify them, but still one can dream!

    I was hoping for some little tips such as my uncertainty regarding thermal paste and if 2x 500GB F3's in RAID would be significantly faster than 1x 1TB F3 drive which in itself performs better than a single 500GB F3. Regardless, these are minor points so I suppose you are correct, there is not much to say here.

    It is probably worth waiting until April in the hope that prices of the GPU might come down a bit due to Nvidia competition and then I will make a purchase. I'll post on some other forums as well and I will endeavour to upload some pictures of the rig once it is up and running

    Again, feel free to add suggestions ppl!

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Why core I7 920, when you can get a 930 for almost the same price?
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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    The 930 is ideal if you're staying at stock speeds, but it seems to me it's just a 920 with a different multiplier? I plan to overclock above 3.6Ghz and I'd expect the 920 to perform identically to a 930 at 3.6Ghz. It would be an interesting comparison to see. If there is evidence that the 930 performs better at the same clockspeed then I agree it would be a better buy. If not, then I'd rather save a few £££'s!

    Perhaps a google search is in order

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    The 920 and 930 perform the same clock for clock but for practically the same price you might as well get the higher multiplier (Makes clocking slightly easier)
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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Would you be able to elaborate on that? Wouldn't it just be a difference between setting the BCLK at 190 (for the 930) instead of 200 (for the 920) if I was aiming for 4GHz? Or does having the 21 multiplier help in some other way?

    I would have thought it makes it more difficult. I only have a really basic understanding of this due to not having the machine to try it on but:

    Assuming a memory multiplier of 8 (I get the impression this is default - I don't know why) then...

    i7 920
    200 (BCLK) x 20 (Multiplier) = 4000MHz
    200 (BCLK) x 8 (Memory Multiplier) = 1600MHz

    i7 930
    190 (BCLK) x 21 (Multiplier) = 3990MHz
    190 (BCLK) x 8 (Memory Multiplier) = 1520MHz

    In the first example we have the CPU at precisely 4GHz and the memory at 1600MHz which is what the memory I have chosen is specified to run at.

    In the second example, the numbers are not as neat; the cpu is just under 4GHz and the memory is running slightly slower.

    Am I missing something here? Like I say this is just a basic understanding I have based on the Overclocking i7 guide at Hexus and a few other sites I've read

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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    The memory multiplier doesn't have to be 8 (its actually 4 but that's another matter).

    Basically your overclocking the BCLK - the higher it goes the more extra voltage this will need. Keeping the BCLK as low as possible is highly desirable for increasing your CPU speed as it means with a higher multiplier you don't have to increase the BCLK as much. The BCLK effects your RAM, QPI, and the Un-core as there speed are all decided by a multiple of the BCLK so keeping it as close to specification (133MHz) will help with gaining stability a lot.

    So a 133MHz BCLK;

    CPU: x20 multiplier = 2.66Ghz
    QPI: x18 multiplier = 4.8GT/s
    RAM x8 multiplier = 1600Mhz

    You can see all the stuff that is effected when you increase BCLK, having an extra multiplier (and in the 930's case an extra multiplier that only costs a fraction more) is a god send.
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    Re: i7 Gaming/Enthusiast New Build - Purchasing Advice/Discussion

    Thank you for your detailed response! Essentially what you are saying is it doesn't matter if the numbers are slightly out - the memory might operate slightly slower at the numbers I gave - but I shouldn't need to up the voltage as much, therefore affording me more stability and a safer overclock for the components.

    Am I right in saying though that a 920 at 4GHz might be slightly faster than a 930 at 4GHz in terms of memory speed, QPI etc. Obviously the difference would be so small that you would only notice it in artificial benchmarks and in the real world the extra stability would be a more significant factor...

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