TechSpot

Help picking new gaming rig components

By Shacster
May 18, 2008
  1. Hi all,

    Just came across these forums as am looking to buy a new top spec gaming rig which is fairly future proofed. I have just downgraded my car so have around 5k spare to spend on the rig. I realise that current games are still not using the full potential of the best components out there at the moment, but hence the future proofing bit for when they do (and now is probably the only time I will have the cash to buy then :D)

    I have been drawing up a couple of configurations on Alienware's site and have come up with two possibilities and was wondering if one of the helpful guru's here could advise me if either one is better than the other or if there is a better choice of any cmponents I can pick.

    OPTION 1 - Area 51

    • Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme QX9770 3.20GHz 12MB Cache 1600MHz FSB
    • Alienware® High-Performance Liquid Cooling
    • Alienware® Acoustic Dampening
    • Alienware® Approved NVIDIA nForce 790i Ultra SLI
    • Alienware® 1000 Watt Multi-GPU Approved Power Supply
    • Dual 1GB NVIDIA® GeForce™ 9800 GX2 – Quad GPU Technology
    • 4GB - 2 x 2048 MB - Low Latency 1333 MHz DDR3
    • Extreme Performance - RAID 0 - 600GB (2 x 300GB) Velociraptor SATA 3.0Gb/s 10,000 RPM 2 x 16MB Cache
    • 6x Blu-ray Disc (BD-ROM) Reader
    • 20X Dual-Layer DVD±RW with LightScribe Technology
    • Killer K1 Gaming Network Interface Card
    • AGEIA PhysX™ Physics Processing Unit PCI-E
    • Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi Xtreme Gamer

    OPTION 2 - Area-51 ALX CFX

    • Intel® Core™ 2 Extreme QX9650 3.0GHz 12MB Cache 1333MHz FSB - Overclocked to 4 GHz!
    • Alienware® ALX High-Performance Liquid Cooling
    • Alienware® Acoustic Dampening
    • Alienware® Approved X38 Motherboard
    • Dual 1GB ATI® Radeon™ HD 3870 X2 – Quad GPU Technology
    • 4GB Low Latency Dual Channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1333MHz - 2 x 2048MB
    • Alienware® 1000 Watt Multi-GPU Approved Power Supply
    • Extreme Performance - RAID 0 - 600GB (2 x 300GB) Velociraptor SATA 3.0Gb/s 10,000 RPM 2 x 16MB Cache
    • 6x Blu-ray Disc (BD-ROM) Reader
    • 20X Dual Layer DVD±RW/CD-RW Writer
    • AGEIA PhysX™ Physics Processing Unit PCI-E
    • Creative Sound Blaster® X-Fi Xtreme Gamer

    I'm thnking that the main differences (apart from option 2 being slightly more expensive) are Mother Board, Graphics Cards and CPUs

    I will be hooking up to my Denon AVR 4306 AV Receiver (guessing it's just a case of DVI - HDMI for video and Analogue for sound?) and using a 1080p plasma via HDMI. I have a set of 7.1 surround SVS speakers hooked up also which is why I have gone for the sound card rather than on board.

    Thanks in advance
     
  2. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 10,716   +6

    Were it mine, I would not use ANY of the Alienware components when there is much better equipment available. it just doesn't hold up. I would not want their power supplies, for sure. Nor their CPU cooling.

    Who is the maker of your Blu-Ray?
     
  3. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Thanks for that, can you recommend any other "build your own" websites? I just don't have the time to build my own any more so would rather just pay a recognised company that little extra as well as to guarantee the build and make the cabling look nice :D (although technically I'm very able, I'm a practical nightmare :p)

    It didn't specify the make on the site :S I have plenty of HD AV gear to watch movies so it will literally be just a gaming PC, again future proofing in case games start being made on that format.

    5 years ago I was the one helping others, but since changing jobs etc I have not managed to keep up with the times on what's leading the market at the moment so any advise would be much appreciated :D

    Many thanks
     
  4. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    i say screw alien ware!!!

    but their alien respawn is pretty cool..........thats it though.


    are you a mechanic or something? may be you should consider building your own?


    I say ditch the core 2 extremes.
    Power supplie is overkill and i say you should only need one high performance hdd and one or 2 storage drives.

    I just posted this on another thread with similar objectives:


    E8400 ≈ $230 (?)
    Gigabyte mobo ≈ under $300
    DDR3 1800 ≈ $250/500
    Case ≈ $200
    HDD ≈ $400
    Power supply ≈ $150
    GPU ≈ $400
    Sound Card ≈ $150
    Misc. ≈ $150

    All in all, it ends up under $2500 dollars, and thats being fairly generous in the amount of money stated.

    thats pretty close to the amount of money you would use in what you said above, yet this will perform better!



    oh i forgot, did you say you wanted it to last for a while? ok well maybe you should consider getting a Q9450 as i hope programmers will be paid enough soon to make stuff more optimized...
     
  5. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Hehe - ok ok so I clicked on the top link in google and ended up on their site :p Point taken - Alienware is no longer an option :D


    Errrm nope - I head a software development team. And thanks but I've spent my whole life building my own, wanna take the lazy but more expensive way this time :D

    why??? are they not the best?

    OK but I have a 650W at the moment and managed to blow that on my components that are 2 years old hehe, rather have too much than too little.

    For some reason I bought a 1TB drive last time and in 3 years have only used 25GB of it :p So storage is not an issue - but RAID is (I run a dev environment on it at times when I work from home)

    Yes indeed - and I should have mentioned that was £5000 not $5000 :D

    Thanks for the response - yes I tend to make all my gear future proof even if I end up "wasting" money (I bought both a HD and BD dvd player when the war was on hehe) . A 1080p plasma instead of one that was 720p for half the price etc. I am an extreme gamer and AV enthusiast and audiophobe so like to have the best that I can afford with my budget, but with a zillion and one bits of information on the net now days find it practically impossible to find somewhere that says "As of now this is the best XXXXX"

    I have just found another site and built this spec....any thoughts/advise/improvements?

    NEW OPTION

    • ThermalTake CASE SWORDM VD500LBNA SILVER/BLACK LIQUID COOLER
    • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (4 x 3.2 GHZ) 1600FSB - 12 MB
    • ASUS SKT-775 STRIKER II EXTREME
    • OCZ 8GB PC3-10666C7 1333MHz Platinum (4x2GB) DDR3
    • 2 x Asus NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1024MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI PCI-E (QUAD SLI SETUP)
    • ThermalTake W0171 1500W TOUGHPOWER CABLE MANAGEMENT RET
    • WD RAPTOR X SATA 150GB UDMA 150 10000RPM 16MB
    • WD RAPTOR X SATA 150GB UDMA 150 10000RPM 16MB
    • LG GGW-H20L Blu-Ray Disc Re-Writer & HD DVD-Rom SATA Black
    • ASUS DVD±RW 20x S-ATA DRW-2014L1T BLACK LIGHTSCRIBE (SATA)
    • Creative X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro 7.1
    • 4 Port Firewire IEEE 1394 PCI Card + FREE CABLE
    • KillerNIC M1 Network Card (Ultimate Online Gaming)
    • 10 X USB 2.0 Ports
    • Internal Card Reader 50-in-1
    • Speeze QuadroFlow VIII - Low Noise
    • Belkin Maximum 8 UK Outlet Surge Protection 2M Cable
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-BIT
    • LOGITECH W/L PRO 2400 KBD + MSE BLK/SIL RET
     
  6. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    google told me this. Is that right?

    UK£ 5 000 = 9 771 U.S. dollars
    Rates provided for information only - see disclaimer. More about currency conversion.


    Are you going to overclock?

    Well yes they are but they are maybe triple the price?

    They are only expensive because they are made with an unlocked multiplier, that just helps you overclock but i don't think its that useful. Really just intels way of making you pay more for the "best". Also they run at higher stock speeds so they look faster...but an overclocked Q9450 at 1/5 the price could easily be faster. Then again...if your professional enough not to overclock lol, the QX9770 is the best, even if it is made to overclock.


    Personally, i think the striker II extreme is also a waste of money. Its also more of an overclocking board. there are boards out there that perform jsut as good. What site are you using?

    wow 1500W you could run your comp at HALF those watts. I understand that you would want more power compared to less but really 900 watts is already way more than enough. Maybe you should just use 1000W?

    Not sure how your going to use 8 gigs but ok...I would personally buy maybe DDR3 1600 ram though. Nice bit faster.

    I prefer Evga for Graphics cards to Asus but asus is fine. Evga has this water cooler thingy for the 9800GTX.

    http://www.evga.com/articles/406.asp





    Everything looks "Fine" though. Nothing horribly bad. Except i heard that Creative purposefully crippled their either XP or Vista drivers (i think it was Vista) so everyone would have to buy their X-fi 2 card's when they come out.
     
  7. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Yes that is about right so we are looking at almost $10k to spend :D

    Am hoping that I wont need to OC for a while with this lot :p

    Possibly but I'll only end up wasting it down the pub otherwise :D

    Sounds like the one for me then :grinthumb

    What is the best motherboard you can get at the mo then?

    I got this one from http: \ \ www . computerplanet . co . uk

    Hmmmm....possibly - never really looked into the power side of things - does it matter if I over do it? I thought the power just got supplied as and when the components require it and as it's only a few quid more I just thought what the heck :p

    Wasn't an option on this site - maybe I'll buy the cheapest one from them and order the RAM seperately. The more RAM I have the better really so if it can go in then I'll always go for th most. I run a dev environment usually building 2 quite memory intensive applications at a time and (hope no-one from work reads this :p) play a game at the same time etc etc hehe

    Again the make wasn't an option, but it's something to bear in mind when/if I need to continue looking on where to buy, thanks.

    Hmmm that doesn't sound good - I have a couple of the SB Audigy 2 Pros laying around so maybe I'll just stick one of those in until the X-fi 2 arrives.

    OK - so I have maybe got a few of the components right then judging by your final comment. Maybe you could help me with updating the last list with the components you would use with a near on $10k budget? to produce a mouth watering PC rather than just a "Fine" one?

    Many thanks for your help.
     
  8. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    Well i ment "fine" as in its not going to blow up or something...


    ok i went to the site and HOLY CRAP thats alot of options.

    Maybe you want to use the

    EVGA SKT-775 (132-CK-NF79-A1) 790i ULTRA SLI 1600FSB

    mobo?

    It allows for faster ram and FSB too i think. Not that it would help unless you bought DDR3 2000 at $500+ per 2 gigs (US)


    Go for the
    ThermalTake Blue ORB II

    compared to the Speeze QuadroFlow VIII - Low Noise
    as it is actually pretty quite too plus extreamly powerfully. That or liquid cooling if you want.

    $10000 US is alot for just one comp! i have to idea how your going to blow off all that money!
     
  9. nickc

    nickc TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,634

    KillerNIC M1 Network Card (Ultimate Online Gaming) any of the killer nics are a waste of money, they cause more problems than they ever cured. I had one for 6 moths and it will not work at all now, they are fast while they work, that is just not long, and I am not the only one to have problems with them.
     
  10. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    OK - done :D


    That will teach me to read before posting - I actually picked the ThermalTake CL-W0075 BIG WATER 735 LIQUID COOLER, but for some reason they stuck the default back in on the summery :p

    A few pints left over then :grinthumb

    Thanks nickc, saves me £168!!! - I'll just go for the standard NIC then as my PC will sit next to my router so will be wired anyway.

    Am hoping to keep a closed box for as long as possible this time round as no longer have the time or patience to mess with hardware and swapping things about (unless for a huge performance upgrade of course :p)

    so now the config looks like:

    • ThermalTake CASE SWORDM VD500LBNA SILVER/BLACK LIQUID COOLER
    • Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 (4 x 3.2 GHZ) 1600FSB - 12 MB
    • EVGA SKT-775 (132-CK-NF79-A1) 790i ULTRA SLI 1600FSB
    • OCZ 8GB PC3-10666C7 1333MHz Platinum (4x2GB) DDR3
    • 2 x Asus NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1024MB GDDR3 TV-Out/Dual DVI/HDMI PCI-E (QUAD SLI SETUP)
    • ThermalTake W0171 1500W TOUGHPOWER CABLE MANAGEMENT RET
    • WD RAPTOR X SATA 150GB UDMA 150 10000RPM 16MB
    • WD RAPTOR X SATA 150GB UDMA 150 10000RPM 16MB
    • LG GGW-H20L Blu-Ray Disc Re-Writer & HD DVD-Rom SATA Black
    • ASUS DVD±RW 20x S-ATA DRW-2014L1T BLACK LIGHTSCRIBE (SATA)
    • Creative X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro 7.1
    • 4 Port Firewire IEEE 1394 PCI Card + FREE CABLE
    • Fast 10/100 Ethernet Lan (Broadband Ready)
    • 10 X USB 2.0 Ports
    • Internal Card Reader 50-in-1
    • CL-W0075 BIG WATER 735 LIQUID COOLER
    • Belkin Maximum 8 UK Outlet Surge Protection 2M Cable
    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-BIT
    • LOGITECH W/L PRO 2400 KBD + MSE BLK/SIL RET

    Thanks for your input so far guys, is much appreciated hearing your points of view and experiences - almost ready to click the order button now :D
     
  11. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    I'd recommend this motherboard instead.
    Throw in two QX9775 CPUs and four 4GB DDR2 800 FBDIMM kits, an SCSI card and some Seagate Cheetah drives and you've got the beginnings of a monster...
     
     
  12. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Drool!!!

    Sigh - looks like I'll be building my own again - can't find anywhere that will include that beast of a board in with a build. :p

    Edit: Just out of interest why is this using DDR2 instead of DDR3?
     
  13. Cinders

    Cinders TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,313   +12

    DDR3 offers no real performance increase over DDR2 for the price. The intel board trades SLI for potential over clocking, except motherboards made by Intel don't usually overclock like other OEM boards with Intel chipsets
     
  14. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    i didn't click on the link but im assuming that it is the skulltrail.

    I think it only supports DDR2 800 RAM.

    However, when i looked at it on newegg a long time ago, there was a combo deal for 2 sticks of 8 gig of DDR2 800 RAM for a total of 16 gigs. AND it cost either 11,000 or 110,000 dollars U.S.. LOL
     
  15. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    This one is the exception. Of the two reviews I've seen, both say the board has OCing potential. Also, the Skulltrail has SLI and Crossfire support.

    Yes, but it supports DDR2 800MHz FBDIMMs, which are used in server motherboards and are more expensive than regular DIMMs.
     
  16. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,573   +9

    Wow...

    Someone has alot of money to burn...

    I personally think this is absolute overkill, but its your money...


    Remember that the skulltrail is an eATX board, so remember to buy a case that will fit it. Regular ATX cases won't fit this board....

    Already included, but just to mention to others who might be following: all that computing power requires a beast of a PSU. Not sure about which plugs are needed for an eATX board, so thats something you might want to check up on as well if you're not sure.

    I think the latest 1TB drives outperform the old 150gb Raptors, so if you are really going to stick with fast SATA drives, go with the new 300gb VelociRaptors.

    Or just buy a SCSI board and put in those cheetahs.


    Also, after spending all that money on this hardware, you going to use a cheapass Bigwater 745 cooling system? Try the Swiftech H20-220 Apex™ Ultra+ for size.

    Thats all for now from me. If anything else comes up, I'll post :D
     
  17. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    Ah, thanks for reminding me about that CMH. The CoolerMaster Stacker 832 is a huge case with awesome airflow that will be perfect for that board.

    I agree, although I'd choose the DangerDen 4200 kit instead.
     
  18. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    OK, nice to know although it is a little confusing to me. If the skulltrail motherboard was DDR3 enabled then supposing one was to stick 16GB of DDR3-2000 compared to 16GB of DDR2 800 would it not improve performance?

    Would my chosen ThermalTake CASE SWORDM VD500LBNA SILVER/BLACK LIQUID COOLER not be big enough? If not than I will take the advice of Rage and swap it for the CoolerMaster Stacker 832.

    Like I said I have downgraded from a sports car to a family saloon for new baby on way reasons so yes I do have a lot of money to burn and apart from my family gaming and AV gear is my life :D I do of course budget for each item I buy and I am hoping that my budget of $10K/£5K ca buy me the best system currently available which is why I am asking for as much help as possible from you guys so that I don't go and make any mistakes and blow my budget on something that could have been better with the knowledge.

    Don't think PSU's are an issue as there are 1000W - 1500W available and I have had my sparky friend in when I built my AV system to ensure that I have pleant of power availble and plenty of protection :D

    Which Hard Drives would you suggest for the ultimate performance then bearing in mind I need no internal storage whatsoever so they could be 25GB for all I care as long as they have the fastest possible access times. Are the new 300gb VelociRaptors the best?

    Thanks - as my last PC I made was when water-coolers were not really mainstream retail I have only dabbled with the best kind of fans out there so this is an area I really need help with. I will have a look at both the DangerDen 4200 kit and the Swiftech H20-220 Apex™ Ultra+.

    I'll go back to the drawing board and draw up a new spec soon then and post it here for your reviews and comments. Again thank you all for your comments it is a huge help to me.

    Lastly I do apolgise for increasing the length of this thread but like I have said it is a huge help and really need to ensure I get the best components for the money I am spending.
     
  19. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    No, the Seagate Cheetahs are a better option, being 15000RPM drives. They only come in SCSI however, so you'd need a SCSI add-on card like this one along with this cable to connect the drive(s) to the card.

    It doesn't matter too much, since the DDR3 will have higher latency than the DDR2 anyways, which wouldn't give much of a performance increase. For the Skulltrail, I'd recommend this RAM kit.
     
  20. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    Excellent - thanks for the links :grinthumb

    I think I understand now because DDR3 is higher on the latency scale the timings are not as great as they should be therefore only behaving the about the same as an OC'd DDR2 stick for half the price :D

    I'll definitely go for your Cheetah idea with the cables and card you have suggested, thanks for that.
     
  21. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    OK - I've gathered up peoples comments and this is what the drawing board has come back with :D Does this sound ok?

    Case


    Motherboard

    • Intel® Desktop Board D5400XS

    Processor

    • CORE 2 EXTREME QX9775 3.20GHZ SKT771 FSB1600 12MB
    • CORE 2 EXTREME QX9775 3.20GHZ SKT771 FSB1600 12MB

    Memory

    • 8GB Kit (4GBx2), 240-pin DIMM, DDR2 PC2-6400 memory module
    • 8GB Kit (4GBx2), 240-pin DIMM, DDR2 PC2-6400 memory module

    PSU

    • Tagan Piperocks BZ 1300W

    Solid State Drives

    • MTRON MOBI 3000 32GB 3.5" SATA SSD (Solid State Drive)
    • MTRON MOBI 3000 32GB 3.5" SATA SSD (Solid State Drive)
    • RAID 0

    Optical Drives

    • Lite-on LH-2B1S-490C Blu-Ray DVD Writer Black BD-R/RE DVD +/-R/RW Retail + disc
    • Lite-on LH-2B1S-490C Blu-Ray DVD Writer Black BD-R/RE DVD +/-R/RW Retail + disc
    Cooling

    • Danger Den 4200 Kit

    Graphics Cards

    • NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1024MB
    • NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GX2 1024MB

    Sound Card

    • Creative X-FI Xtreme Gamer Fatal1ty Pro 7.1

    Physics Card

    • BFG Ageia PhysX Physics Card

    OS

    • Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-BIT


    Edit: Updated the CPU as per Rages post - well spotted :D
    Edit: Updated PSU
    Edit: Updated HDD to SSD
     
  22. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    That looks like a really fantastic PC. But I'd like to point out that you can't use the QX9770 in the Skulltrail since it's an LGA775 CPU. For the Skulltrail, you'd have to get this CPU instead. Unfortunately, all the stores I checked only have one each in stock. So you might have to either a CPU each from two separate stores or make do with a single quad-core CPU. It's your choice, so get whatever you want.
    Also, the FB-DIMMs and the Skulltrail's northbridge get pretty hot, so make sure these two are cooled sufficiently. The CPUs obviously run hot but since you're using watercooling and have used it before I assume you know that.
    Good luck with it and let us know how it goes. :)
     
  23. Shacster

    Shacster TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 17

    YAY - thanks for all your help guys, I will be building when I get back from my business trip and will let you know how it all goes and post some pics etc etc :D

    Definitely a forum I'm gonna be visiting regularly :cool:
     
  24. hellokitty[hk]

    hellokitty[hk] Hello, nice to meet you! Posts: 4,370   +125

    With your mass amounts of money, you could use a solid state drive!! at i think 32 gigs and (i think) no real access time...

    although its probably too late right now.




    how about saving a couple thousand and buy just ONE quad core. When you start running past something like 70% - 90% CPU proceses, then buy another......

    Also is there any real difference between the QX9770 and QX9775 except the socket type? it is about $100 more
    im pretty sure newegg has it on combo deal with the skulltrail.
     
  25. Rage_3K_Moiz

    Rage_3K_Moiz Sith Lord Posts: 7,286   +24

    No, there's no difference.
     
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