Another new gaming box thread

By fenris
May 18, 2008
Topic Status:
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  1. I will be in the market to purchase a new gaming box in the next month or so. I checked out the prebuilt stuff but I think I can do it cheaper and better myself . I haven't built a computer in eight years though. My tentative budget is around $2000 for everything. I have never overclocked a thing in my life so I'm a little hesitant to do so. I'm a OC noob so I guess it's something I need to read up on before diving into it.

    A lot has changed hardware-wise since I last cracked a case for a build. My googlefu led me to some of the more recent "help me build a gaming rig" threads here (phenominal advice from the forum members btw) and I have composed the below list of items (previously recommended to another poster by Rage_3K_Moiz) to purchase. I'm still a few weeks away from having the moola but I wanted to see if you guys see anything that I can tweak/change. Any input is appreciated.

    CASE: Antec 900 ($120)
    PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply - Retail ($120 >mir)
    MOBO: ASUS P5E LGA775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard Retail ($225)
    CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale 3.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80570E8400 - Retail ($195)
    CPU COOLER: ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 120mm 2-ball UFO Bearing / Transparent CPU Cooler - Retail ($40 >mir)
    MEMORY: X2 - Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2-1066 CL5-5-5-15 Dual Channel Kit Retail BL2KIT12864AA1065 ($100 >mir for 4GB total)
    GPU: XFX GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB 2x256bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP & SLI Ready Video Card Retail PVT98UZHF9 ($520 >mir)
    HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3500320AS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM ($100 >mir)
    MONITOR: 2253BW Black 22" 2ms(GTG) DVI Widescreen LCD Monitor with HDCP Support 300 cd/m2 DC 8000:1 - Retail ($270 >mir)
    KEYBOARD: Undecided
    MOUSE: Undecided
    MISC: Undecided

    All items tentatively priced from newegg for a total of $1690. I know I can get some of the components cheaper (i.e. case from Amazon) but I just wanted a ball park tally while I decide on the specific components. Some of the prices are listed after the mail in rebate (mir).

    NOTE: I have a copy of XP Pro for right now and I already have a DVD+RW drive. I'm not 100% sold on Vista at the moment so I'll wait before shelling out more money on another OS.

    I've read some of the reviews for the Antec 900 and they mention space issues for some of the video cards. Does anyone know for a fact if the GeForce 9800 GX2 will have problems fitting in the case?
  2. mako man

    mako man Newcomer, in training Posts: 100

    You are probably refering to my build. I have the two front mounted fans installed along with the top fan and I installed one side fan on the plexiglass side. The builder had to remove the braket and fan in the middle because the video card did't have enough clearance. So in total four fans, and one in the Psu and it runs very cool. I wouldn't change anything it is super fast, cool and suprisingly quiet. I played two hours of COD and none of the fans had to speed up to cool. The only things I did different than you is I added 4X1GB ram and I used a 1000 watt PSU. I don't think you need 1000W but I wasn't going to argue with the builder.

    As for Vista 64 bit I was really concerned that I may have made a mistake since I heard so many negative things about the program, but I have to tell you it has worked flawlessly and my printer and scanner hooked right up without any problem. The one problem that I have is my wifes invoicing program doesn't work with 64 bit Vista, but it will work with 32 bit Vista. If you have any important programming that you need to run and you are stuck on using that brand you better make your OS a priority. Get this computer build and you wont be unhappy. Just don't tell anyone what you have I don't need any more competition on COD. Good luck I'm sure others will chime in and help you. The Antec 900 will work.
  3. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    If it were possible I'd replace that CPU with the slightly faster E8500 for a superior OC.
    The 9800GX2 will be a tight fit in that case and may heat things up in there, for the worse. I'd recommend getting a bigger case.
    For your mouse, pick one that is comfortable to use for long periods of time. For the keyboard, any will do, although I'd recommend staying away from those curved keyboards, since they make typing a chore.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes. :)
  4. SittingDuckie

    SittingDuckie Newcomer, in training Posts: 60

    I have a 9800gx2 in the antec 900 and its not a problem. It fits well enough without a squeeze.

    To throw in some doubt though (just to make it interesting for you) I haven't stress-tested my machine yet, so can't speak truly for overheating, but I really doubt you (and me) would have problems, antec is a very cool case.
  5. fenris

    fenris Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 31

    Mako - Glad to hear that your new box is up and running fine. I based my tentative build on the recommendations made in your previous thread.

    Rage/SittingDuckie - Thanks for the input. I may bump up the processor to the E8500. I'm interested to see how your stress test went though :)
  6. SittingDuckie

    SittingDuckie Newcomer, in training Posts: 60

    mm, I'll let you know in a week (the reason why is a long story...)
  7. Mictlantecuhtli

    Mictlantecuhtli TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,916   +9

    Why four 1 GB modules instead of two 2 GB? Then you could buy another 2 x 2 in the future.
  8. mako man

    mako man Newcomer, in training Posts: 100

    You need the four 1 GB because crucial does'nt make a single 2 GB that would be compatible with that motherboard. Hows that Rage? I'm learning for an old man.
  9. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    Not really, they do make a 4GB kit that's compatible, but it's an ordinary RAM kit that is not really suited for use in gaming systems unlike the Ballistix kit.
    The fact is, Crucial doesn't make any 2GB DDR2 1066MHz Ballistix modules. They only make ordinary 2GB DDR2 modules at those speeds which are rated at 1.8V and have a CAS Latency of 7, compared to the Ballistix's rated voltage of 2.2V and CL of 5. This makes them a poor choice for a high-end system IMO.
    I'd always go for the Ballistix modules for this reason and advise others to do the same. Besides, it's not like you'd really need more than 4GB of RAM at the moment and the 4GB kit is almost double the price of two of those 2GB kits.
  10. fenris

    fenris Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 31

    I'm not 100% up to speed on crossfire and SLI configurations but I have been trying to read up on the topic and I have a quick question. I checked the manufacturer's specs on the ASUS P5E LGA775 mobo and I noticed that it supports crossfire but I don't see anything that states that it supports SLI. I know that the video card that I selected (GeForce 9800 GX2 1GB) is a more high end one and I shouldn't need anything else for a while. However, am I limiting my upgrade options down the road by not being able to use two video cards?
  11. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 4,262   +41

    Of course you're limiting your ability to upgrade to 2 cards, unless you're an AMD fanboy that is...
     
  12. SittingDuckie

    SittingDuckie Newcomer, in training Posts: 60

    Found this on wikipedia:

    ATI has opened the Crossfire architecture to Intel, allowing CrossFire to be enabled on certain Intel chipsets which boast two 16x PCI-E slots. SLI, however, requires a motherboard which is SLI certified (usually based on nForce chipset, such as the nForce 590 SLI and nForce 680i SLI).

    If I'm interpreting that correctly, thats a negative. I wish someone had pointed this out to me when I bought a p5e3 and a geforce9800gx2 :(
  13. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    No. SLI and Crossfire are useful only for system with monitors that are able to run resolutions in excess of 1600x1200, since dual-GPU performance gains are most significant at these resolutions. Beyond that, it's a waste. Two video cards also require more power and produce more heat than a single more powerful video card. So there will always be a single card that is able to perform on par (or possibly higher than) with a dual-GPU solution, so you're not really limiting your upgrade options in any way IMO.
    Also, dual-GPU performance is problematic with new games, so if you buy games as soon as they're released, SLI is not a great option. BioShock is a notorious example of this. It's your choice though. If you want to go SLI, the MSI P7N SLI is a good choice.
  14. fenris

    fenris Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 31

    That begs a potentially stupid question. Why even go down the duo-gpu route then? Increased heat, no guarentee to increase performance in less than ideal circumstances, etc. I'm a total crossfire/sli noob but I'm trying to read up on the topic so please bear with me. It just seems that more and more new pcs are being built with this configuration in mind.
  15. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    Bragging rights mainly, as well as faster performance when using extremely high resolutions like 1920x1200. Also, bear in mind that dual-GPU performance gains are present, but it doesn't deliver the 100% boost in performance you'd theoretically expect. This is basically useless IMO. Also, a dual-GPU, single card solution like the 9800GX2 doesn't need an SLI-enabled motherboard unlike two 8800GTSs, which provide the same amount of pixel-pushing power as the 9800GX2.
  16. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 162

    Because at higher resolutions SLI increases performance by a fair gap of FPS. Many benchmarks show SLI improving gameplay in 1440+ resolutions, I noted an extra 15 FPS myself having two GT in SLI in some games.

    If you have two GTS in SLI for instance, they equal the GX2 at a much cheaper price, etc. Not to mention I am going to attach LCS to my two GTS in SLI, meaning heat won't be a problem at all and I can overlock them even more.

    So SLI is mostly a system for enthusiasts. But also, if you already have a GT or GTS say, and you want more video power, but don't wanna have to pay a hefty price for a new top card, buying a second GT/GTS will increase your performance to possibly match it and you didn't have to spend much.

    It's like overclocking a cheap CPU to match the high-end ones, same principle.
  17. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    Not really, since you do pay more for a good SLI board as opposed to one with a single PCI-E slot. That basically negates the price difference between the cards. For an example, two eVGA 8800GTS 512MB cards cost about $480 after rebates on Newegg, while a 9800GX2 from the same company costs $500 after rebate. The MSI P7N, one of the more affordable and recent SLI motherboards, costs about $150 compared to the Gigabyte P35-DS3L, which has only one PCI-E slot. The price difference between the cards after rebate is relatively small, but after you factor in the motherboard, it becomes larger.
    Also keep in mind that SLI causes poor performance on newly-released games, which usually needs a patch or two to fix. BioShock and Crysis are examples of this. So if you're into buying new games as soon as they're released, I'd advise against SLI.
  18. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 162

    Yeah but if you bought a SLI board and had it for a long time, then it doesn't negate the price at all. I can get a SLI board for $150 here, that's the same price as a P35 board, so it's not expensive at all. 750i costs $250, same cost as X38 - so it doesn't negate the price at all in that respect.

    Must be Australia then. Here, two GTS cost $450, and a GX2 costs $800. So it's much, much cheaper to own two GTS here.
     
  19. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 162

    Yeah but if you bought a SLI board and had it for a long time, then it doesn't negate the price at all. I can get a SLI board for $150 here, that's the same price as a P35 board, so it's not expensive at all. 750i costs $250, same cost as X38 - so it doesn't negate the price at all in that respect.

    Must be Australia then. Here, two GTS cost $450, and a GX2 costs $800. So it's much, much cheaper to own two GTS here.
  20. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,280   +23

    I also think it has to do with the pricing. Because a USD20 difference between two 8800GTS cards and a single 9800GX2 is not much to make you want to buy the two cards and an SLI motherboard.
  21. fullmetalvegan

    fullmetalvegan TechSpot Enthusiast Posts: 162

    Yeah but like I said - SLI boards go for the same price as their P35/X38 cousins and do all the same things, EXCEPT you have the extra option to do SLI and all the extra NVIDIA features to fine tune your GPU/etc. So it's actually better to own an SLI board if you're a gamer.

    ASUS gaming boards come with excellent bios features for overclocking as well, I love my Striker II NSE. I find non-sli boards to be very basic things in terms of what you can do with them, very little drivers/utilities for nice extra gaming features.

    So really in terms of price, it's a redundant statement. You have to own a motherboard to game ANYWAY. So either you're buying a P35/X38 board or you're buying a nForce 6/7 series board. Either way you pay the same price, and on nForce boards you're guranteed to have at least two PCI-E slots whereas P35 for the same price often don't. And you never have the option of SLI up your sleeve on Intel chipets but uyou can always do it if you want on SLI.

    So no, SLI boards are better to own as an NVIDIA gamer.
  22. SittingDuckie

    SittingDuckie Newcomer, in training Posts: 60

    So, in conclusion, go with whatever is more cost effective for you, be it 2x cheaper card & sli mobo or 1x expensive card sli-less mobo.

    On the future upgradeability thing though, I guess you have to consider whether you really will be looking to add a second card in a few years. I don't imagine I personally would look to get a second card. I would predict that my current setup will be more than I need for about 2/3 years at which point I'll probably replace the core components. Its likely that any extra money over that period would be spent on peripherals or software.

    I guess the ability to ugprade is really a budgeters tactic i.e. just to keep ur specs' neck above the water as it were. As you're looking to buy a 9800gx2, I'm guessing your not on a tight budget. So perhaps have a think about whether you'll be adding a component or replacing the whole thing in a few years when the technology has moved on.

    Or just switch to an SLI mobo and don't worry about it for now ^_^

    Fascinating argument btw lads, thanks, its been a good read
  23. HaMsTeYr

    HaMsTeYr TechSpot Maniac Posts: 387

    as a personal opinion, i would think that its more of a trade off. Generally said, the direct nForce counterpart of an P35 board would be a lot more expensive for the price.

    Taking a look at P35 boards, you have 6 Sata Controllers, support for the latest 45nm chips natively, 8 back panel USB ports and DDR2 1066 ram support.

    Its counter-part around that price range its a nForce 650i board with 4 SATA controllers, supports 45nm through a bios upgrade which can get messy, even then might not support 45nm Quad Cores, 4 USB ports up the rear and up to DDR2 800 Ram support.

    Neither one are explicitly good i guess if you ask me. It once again depends on personal preference. Its not really boasting rights either.

    Lets say you build a computer with a nForce 650i board, and pair two 9600 GSO's together instead of getting a single 8800 GT. I'm not saying that i've tried, but i think its perfectly possible for two 9600 GSO's to have on par if not better performance than a single 8800 GT

    Also, regarding buying an SLi board, its not always a waste of money. Given that if someone is an avid gamer but doesn't have the cash on him, he can buy an SLi board with lets say a 8800 GT.

    In the future, if he decides he wants more performance into his system, he can just slap on another 8800 GT in SLi without the need to swap out his card, saving money in the long run.

    I myself am a fan of the intel chipset for now, maybe because of the 45nm native support but might consider getting a 750i board in the future.

    Just my thoughts on the subject :)
  24. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] I'm a TechSpot Evangelist Posts: 4,316   +116

    So just take one out :)


    750i FTW!! i think its good for what your looking for + 8800GT or GTS. (i still like SLI 9800GTX's)


    i think they would definatly surpass the GT with latest drivers. Except maybe at low resolutions.
  25. fenris

    fenris Newcomer, in training Topic Starter Posts: 31

    I'm leaning towards picking a mobo that supports SLI just in case I need to drop in another video card down the road. More than likely, by the time a 9800 GX2 doesn't provide enough graphic horse power, I'm probably going to have to build a new box though.
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