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Building a Top of the Line Desktop!


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#1 cap2587

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 06:38 AM

I am strongly considering building my own desktop computer! My first question is: Can I build one less expensive than the equivalent machine bought from a manufacturer. I am looking for a high end Desktop in the range of $1000-$1500. What is the 1st component I need to think about, the most important. If I am guessing the motherboard, power supply and the Processor are the key components. I have the peripherals, operating system, monitor already. I have just started the ball rolling with some components below from a Machine advertised at Tiger Direct. http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/Se...YRuF_J8ENvqyT6w

Can someone steer me in the right direction. Is there some good articles, forums to read on what I am trying to do. My goal is the build a computer that is quick, long lasting, and has very solid components that can be upgraded eventually if needed. I there any other websites besides Newegg that you would recommend buying the individual components from? Thanks for the advice in advance.

ASUS P6T SE LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Ultra LSP750 750-Watt Power Supply
Intel Core i7 920 Processor BX80601920
Ultra M923 ATX Black Full Tower Case

(2 Sets of) Patriot Viper Tri Channel 6GB PC10666 DDR3 Memory

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#2 DJBPace07

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 02:24 PM

Through building your PC, you will get more for less. You can get a higher performing i7 PC by ignoring the barebones systems at TigerDirect. Keep in mind that you can save money by going for a Phenom II 955, and it's easier to overclock than the i7 920, but you will sacrifice some performance. However, the i7 950 and 975 are much more powerful and will easily blow the 955 away. Though they do cost far more. Here is an excellent article from Anandtech explaining the differences and considerations between the two CPU's. CPU and GPU performance does vary based on the application, so two similar components can have drastically different performance due to architecture or drivers. Remember, if you are using an OEM copy of Windows you cannot install it on another PC. As for components, I strongly suggest Newegg, TigerDirect to cluttered for my tastes.

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#3 stealthchicken75

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 03:04 PM

I'd agree with DJ on the Newegg. IMHO it's the best site by far for getting individual components. If you want a good site for finding info on various components, I'm also a fan of Tom's Hardware. Personally I'd go with a Core i7 920 system and overclock it as much as you can. While the Phenom can reach Ghz speeds similar to the Core i7 without increasing voltage, it still ends up losing in performance while only being abour $40 cheaper. It's motherboard cost is a lot less than an X58 board however. But if you're budget is 1000-1500, you won't really have an issue there.

For your GPU, I'd recommend going for two Radeon 4850s in crossfire or two Nvidia GTX260s in SLI (if you go this route, make sure you get the 216 core models). If you'd prefer a single card configuration then I'd go with a Radeon 4870X2 or Nvidia GTX285/295. It's really all a matter of preference as they offer similar prices and varied performance depending on which game you're playing. I personally prefer the single card route as dual card systems don't scale well across all games, how much performance you get out of a dual card setup is entirely dependant on the game and drivers you're running.

#4 cap2587

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 03:51 PM

Thanks for the good advice. The i7-950 and i7-975 maybe a little out of my price bracket at $500 AND $1000 respectively. Is it possible that the 950 could come down in price. What about the Intel Quad Core i7 Processor 920. Will there be much of a drop off in this processor. THe best price for the 920 is $269 ebay and $279 NEgg. Does the motherboard I go with depend on what processor I choose? Will the same motherboard be good if I choose the 920, 950, or 975? Are the following components all I need to build my system: I already have OS, Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard.

Processor
Motherboard,
Case,
Graphics Card,
RAM,
Hard Drive
Optical Drive

I really appreciate your help. I am really going to take my time with this and make sure I understand the best components and what would work well with each other. Any suggestions on good tips for any of the above components would be a big help.

#5 stealthchicken75

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 06:52 PM

All Core i7s work with the same board and no, you're not likely to see a huge price difference between the 920 anywhere. It'll all be around the same price. As far as some recommendations go:

Motherboard- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813130226
$189.99

CPU- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16819115202
$279.99

RAM- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16820227365
$124.99

GPU- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16814150391
$349.99

PSU- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16817139005
$99.99

Total- $1044.95

Case, Hard Drive, and CDROM are all up to you as there is no real "best" one for each. All really boils down to preference there. As for a recommendation, I really like my RAIDMAX Smilodon Mid-Tower. It's not the most sturdy case on the planet, but I love it's tool-less design and the two latched sides. Makes setting things up or getting in the case a breeze. If you want to cut cost down a bit, go for a less beefy GPU such as the GTX260 series or two Radeon 4850s in Crossfire configuration.

Edited by stealthchicken75, 12 August 2009 - 06:54 PM.


#6 DJBPace07

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 09:43 PM

Actually, since you brought it up, the Phenom II 955 is $80 cheaper than the i7 920 and the newly launched Phenom II 965 at 3.4GHz. is $40. Regardless of which processor you choose, you will have a solid PC. I strongly suggest not going with an ATX mid-tower for the case. Some of the larger graphics cards have issues with the smaller case. I suggest going for the full-ATX case due to its added depth and thermal levels. Here's an alternative setup if you want to go AMD.

Case: Thermaltake Eureka VC8000BWA Black Chassis Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - This is a large Full ATX case that can handle the long GPU's. I personally think the aluminum cases are better made. You can reuse the case on any build. $109

Motherboard: ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - This motherboard supports the latest AMD processors and uses DDR3 memory. The motherboard also comes with Crossfire. Since I'm looking at the Phenom II 965, I have to use this board since the BIOS already supports it, but it is a good board. $139 (Before $15 mail-in rebate)

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - The motherboard requires DDR3 memory. If you want to go wild, you can two of these kits. Remember, you need a 64-bit OS to use 4GB or more of RAM. $79

GPU: XFX HD-487A-CDF9 Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB - This is one of the best performing ATI cards around, it also comes pre-Crossfired. If you bought two of these cards, you would have a quad-Crossfire system. $369 (Before $10 mail-in rebate)

PSU: OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W - This PSU is modular and can easily power everything in the case. Plus, it is by a good company. $99 (Before $20 mail-in rebate)

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green WD7500AADS 750GB 32MB - This is a good SATA HDD. $69

Optical Drive: SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - You only need a basic optical drive. $28

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz - This is the newest addition to the Phenom II family, taking the crown from the 955 as the best AMD CPU. This CPU closes the performances gap, slightly, between the i7 920. Since this processor is Black Edition, it has the multiplier unlocked, making overclocking very easy. If you want to save some cash, you can go for the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz. $249

Operating System: You need a 64-bit OS to run all the RAM. You can also download the Windows 7 RC or you can use Vista. Remember, unless your old copy of Windows is retail, you cannot reuse it on a new PC.

Total Cost: $1,147 (Before Rebates)

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#7 cap2587

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 09:48 PM

I appreciate all of your input on my topic of building my Computer. I like the below specs from what I have researched so far and really liked all of your feedback. I don't really play any games on my computer. Just looking for something fast, that won't be outdated to quickly. I don't think I can justify spending $349 on the GPU despite the fact that the GTX 285 being a great card. The I7- 950/975 are incredible CPU, but the price jump from the i7-920 is a huge difference. Any other suggestions on cases besides the RAIDMAX Smilodon Mid-Tower? Is there any slight downside to the system I am planning to build with the below specs or is it a very good system for the money. I'm already enjoying following your posts and reading up on the products below. Stealthchicken75 - thanks for the links on newegg.

MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard ($189)

Intel Core i7 920 ($279)

6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ($115)

CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX 12V ($80)

Evga GeForce GTX 260 Core ($170)

Total $833

#8 cap2587

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 09:52 PM

After I posted my last response I noticed that DJBPace07 had posted a very good alternative with links and descriptions. Thanks so much. I will look through all of it and see what might be good to choose for components. I learn so much from all of your advice/opinions and reading reviews on products. DJBPace07 - How do you think your system you just listed stacks up to my one I just posted totaling $833? Thanks

#9 DJBPace07

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Posted 12 August 2009 - 11:19 PM

That $833 is just for core components, not for the entire package. Oh, if you're not playing games, that card I suggested is way too overkill for you. I assumed, given your budget, that you were a high-end gamer. The GTX 260 is a decent card, for $170 it is a reasonable mid-level card. That card is similar to the ATI Radeon HD 4870 in terms of performance. Depending on the application, the HD 4870 could run a little faster. You could get the SAPPHIRE VAPOR-X 100269VXL Radeon HD 4890 1GB which is a refresh of the HD 4870 or you can get a SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 4870 1GB for $149. Also, since you will most likely not be using Crossfire as you don't game much, a mid-ATX case can work. However, many graphics cards are very long and can encroach into hard drive cages on mid-towers. The LIAN LI PC-7B plus II Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case or the Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000BWA Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case are alternatives. Both of these cases will fit the longer cards, with a bit of work. That power supply you posted is good. It's from a respected company and can power the PC, but if you later decide to Crossfire/SLI or get one of the dual-GPU graphics cards, you may find yourself underpowered. One of the advantages of an AMD system is the lower cost. Since you don't play games on your PC, the i7 may be a little overpowered. Comparing the motherboard I chose to yours is simple. The MSI allows for the i7 CPU's, triple channel DDR3, and both SLI and Crossfire. The Asus I chose allows for AM3 CPU's, dual channel DDR3, and Crossfire only. If you are planning on using two or more graphics cards, which is unlikely since you don't game, then the SLI or Crossfire option is negated as you won't use it. Both boards use DDR3, but one uses triple channel or three identical sticks in unison. In gaming, the differences, though slight, between dual and triple channel are a bit more obvious. But if you have the same memory capacities in both boards, the difference would be minor. Additionally, the Asus I selected is about $40 less for many of the same features. Next is the CPU. Once again, there are differences as noted in an article I posted earlier. At higher clock speeds, the Phenom II can almost match the i7 920 in performance. If you play first person shooters, like Crysis, the five or so extra frames per second you get with the i7 920 could be beneficial if you play alot. Of course, the actual performance varies based on the application running, most obviously games. One major difference between the two CPU's is their multiplier. The Phenom II has an unlocked multiplier making overclocking extremely easy whereas the i7 920 does not. The i7 975 has overclocking abilities of its own, for a very high price. The price is also a major difference, $40 cheaper if you want the Phenom II 965 or $80 cheaper if you want the 955. As for the RAM, the MSI will downclock the RAM to DDR3-1333 since DDR3-1600 is not supported. As for the GPU, the Radeon HD 4870 can also give similar performance to the GTX 260 for less cash.

Here are some hot-off-the-presses reviews of the 965.
I4U News - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Review
Tom's Hardware - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Review
HotHardware - AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition CPU Review

Edited by DJBPace07, 12 August 2009 - 11:21 PM.

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#10 cap2587

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:38 AM

DJBPace07, Thanks for all the good info on components for my PC Build. I have decided to go with the i7-920 CPU instead of the AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz. I like all the reviews on the i7-920 and I think that would be a good choice for my system. I think the i7-950 would be slightly more geared towards gaming and a little too expensive for what I am trying to build. Can anyone suggest an alternate motherboard besides the MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard that would go with the i7-920. Do you think I would need a full ATX tower or would a midtower be ample. I think the GTX 260 is the front runner for the Video Card. Is there any negatives to a full ATX tower? Would the Mid tower be okay to fit all of the components and leave me enough room to maneuver inside? Is this power supply CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX 12V sufficient enough to power u this system. Any alternatives? Sounds like Corsair is a great brand for Power Supplies, but suspect rebate program. Thanks.

#11 cap2587

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:57 AM

How does this motherboard ASUS P5Q-E LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard stack up against the MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366? $128 after rebate vs $189. What are the important factors when choosing a motherboard?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx...N82E16813131296

#12 dpunisher

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:02 PM

How does this motherboard ASUS P5Q-E LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard stack up against the MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366? $128 after rebate vs $189. What are the important factors when choosing a motherboard?


You are confusing sockets there. Socket 775 is for Core2/P4 CPUs, socket 1366 is for the i7 CPUs.

As far as factors for choosing X58/i7 boards, the main differentiating points are the feature set. I haven't really seen a "bad" motherboard yet with an X58 chipset. The overclocks, with rare exceptions, are CPU dependant, not motherboard dependant. Look around the forums, Tweaktown/Overclocker's Forum are a couple of places to get info. A fair number of manufacturers are building good X58/1366 boards. I usually buy Asus/Gigabyte boards just out of habit, but that doesn't mean much nowadays.

I am a retired Ford tech. Next to Fords, any computer is a piece of cake. (The cake, its not a lie)

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#13 DJBPace07

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:27 PM

The entire line of i7's is designed for gaming, that's why people are buying them. The yet-to-be-released i5 will be designed for more mainstream use. That's a decent motherboard, but, unless you're gaming, you don't need all the extra features. That Asus P5Q-E motherboard is socket 775, which is what the Core 2's use. The LGA 775 socket is going to be replaced by the LGA 1156 and the i5 processors. The i7 requires LGA 1366 and is likely going to remain priced and designed for enthusiasts and gamers even after the i5 launches. I'm not sure if i5's will be usable on the i7 platform, but since the i7 uses triple channel memory, backwards compatibility would be limited if it were. Remember, an i7 platform will be more expensive than an AM3 so plan accordingly. The motherboard you choose must match the socket of the processor you wish to use, so a LGA 1366 will only take a socket LGA 1366 processor. One of the lowest priced i7 motherboards at Newegg is over $150, which is expensive for a lower-end board IMO. The EVGA E758-A1 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 is considered one of the best i7 boards, but is also expensive at $299. The GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 is a good alternate board at $189. I would like to add something to a previous post. Since you looked at the Phenom II 955 and not the 965, an alternate board can be suggested for the 955. This is because the 965 is so new and motherboard manufacturers need time to update their BIOS, and the Asus I suggested was the only one that supported the processor. Anyway, that alternate board is the ASRock M3A780GXH/128M AM3 AMD 780G for $90.

Edited by DJBPace07, 13 August 2009 - 06:28 PM.

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#14 cap2587

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:13 PM

DJPPace07,

Thanks so much for all of your help. I know your big on the AMD CPU and it's good to have you giving me another option. I really am partial to the i7-920 as all the reviews on Newegg are so positive. I am learning alot about what goes well together, the best bang for your buck and many other things from this post.

What motherboard do you like out of these two boards: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 ( the reviews are so good for this motherboard) vs MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard

EVGA 512-P3-N871-AR GeForce 9800 GTX ($129) vs Evga GeForce GTX 260 Core ($170) vs XFX HD-487A-ZHFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB ($144)

Anyone that has input is much appreciated.

#15 DJBPace07

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 12:08 AM

I admit I am partial to the AMD line in this situation. My reasoning is thus: You're not a gamer and the i7 would be overkill for most standard computer operations. For gamers with $1,500 to $2,000 to spend, I would easily suggest the i7 950 or 975, but for mainstream users it just doesn't make much sense. Combine that with the lower price points of the equipment and the fact that the PII 955 or 965 are just as capable in typical computing tasks as the i7 920, and I'm a little baffled at your choice here. The reviews on all products at Newegg should always be taken with a grain of salt, people usually post with problems, don't go in-depth, or gush with praise. Most CPU reviews, both Intel and AMD, are usually very positive because a defective CPU is extremely rare. I suggest reading recent (within the past three months or so) editorial reviews of newer processors to get a better handle on the situation as opposed to reading a Newegg review. Regardless, I will continue to assist you here as I enjoy doing it. Between the two motherboards, the Gigabyte I suggested and the MSI, I suggest the Gigabyte. Both get good reviews, but the Gigabyte has had ten times as many as the MSI and it has a rebate. Both motherboards are very similar since they use the X58 chipset though the Gigabyte has an additional PCI-E x4 slot, which few people use. As for graphics cards, there is a very handy website called GPUReview that posts the specifications of the cards and you can compare two to see which one is more powerful. Keep in mind that the comparison uses theoretical specs and an in-depth review comparing the cards while they are being used in games would give a better picture of their performance since applications and drivers influence the outcome. The GeForce 9800, also known as the GTS 250, is a card that should be considered if you have budgetary concerns or don't do any gaming. I'm running two 9800 GTX+ cards in SLI with an Intel Q9450 CPU. As for the GTX 260 and the Radeon HD 4870, they both offer very similar performance but one costs less. The Radeon HD 4890 can also be considered as it is a refresh of the 4870 at between 5% to 10% more powerful. For the graphics cards, I would go for either the HD 4870 or the HD 4890.

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