Building top end PC, need some advice.

By CMH · 19 replies
Jun 8, 2005
  1. First, I'd like to say that I've built a considerable number of PCs before (including the 3 currently running), so I do have some background knowledge in PC building. But the last I've built was 2 years ago, and I haven't been keeping in touch with the tech till now (I just found out its possible to have 2 graphic cards!).

    I've now got tons of cash to splash around, and I want to build the fastest PC possible (box only)

    Okay, maybe not tons of cash, but a considerable amount.

    Here are the guidelines of what I'm thinking of:
    1. NO dual graphics. Tech is too new for me, and it'll blow the budget without too significant performace increase. Plus, don't need all that graphic processing. Won't budge from this decision.
    2. Must run RAID 0.
    3. Must be able to run 24/7, with occational full CPU load for up to 48 hours non stop. (cooling is the concern here)
    4. Need to be upgradeable (extra RAM slots, extra SATA slots, don't want an extra AGP tho.)
    5. Must last for 3-4 years.
    6. Performance comes first, noise second, cost last. But even then, I want some value for money, I don't mind paying 50% more, but I'd want a significant increase in performance.

    Most of these should be standard in most computers, but better to state them first.

    The current config on the drawing board:
    AMD 939 3500 (might go to 3700, but not any higher. Will overclock this if neded, but thats a different topic altogether)
    Gigabyte’s GA-K8NF-9
    2x GEIL 512MB DDR400 CL2.5
    Asus 256mb Radeon AX800 PRO w/VIVO
    2x Maxtor 200gb SATA
    LG DVD-RW 16x

    What is missing:

    Not sure if I'm missing anything else.

    Soundcard: I'm thinking of extracting my Audigy2 Platinum from my other comp, so its not really missing.

    Maxtor HDD: I've read a review in a mag, and it says that the Maxtor is surperior over Seagate by a fraction. Can't remember what about it thats superior, will dig up the mag and post here again. Also, dual HDD for RAID 0.

    Only 1gb RAM: 1gb sticks are still too expensive. Will add more RAM when the price of 1gb sticks drops. QUESTION: Will performace increase if I have 1.5gb RAM, but its not running dual channel? Also, heard that GEIL is better than Corsair. Not sure about that.

    Graphics: Asus might not be the best for this card, will need some feedback, and will consult more sources about the best available.

    Casing: I can't find a suitable casing. I want 5 x 5.25' bays, or 6 if thats possible. I'm currently looking at some LianLi and Thermaltake casings, and an iCute casing. I need something that has good heat management (a side fan is compulsory). Size doesn't matter, but since I need that amount of 5.25' bays, we're looking at the biggest around. I know this won't come in cheap, and am prepared to pay for it.

    PSU: Hopefully comes with the casing, but if it doesn't, here's what I need. I'll need at least 400W, and preferably something quiet.

    Cooling: I'm looking at watercooling, but I'll probably have to hold that off for a couple of years (never maybe).
    Being an AMD system, the stock HSF is definately gonna be chucked away (more likely reused elsewhere). For now, I'm probably going to buy Thermalright SP-97 heatsink, and attach a Thermaltake UFO on that. Thats probably it, unless someone can recommend a better heatsink and/or fan. And also have some test results to back it up.
    Probably will change to Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer ATI 4, Rev2 (is there another revision?). I haven't looked at many others, and this is the best so far. I need something that doesn't cause the bottom (and preferably also the top) slots unuseable.
    I won't be installing these in a hurry, but I'm considering the options first. CoolerMaster CoolDrive 5 seems like a good solution, a little pricey though.
    Haven't had problems with chipset temperatures before, so I'm not looking into anything.

    Will use Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste on all applicable cooling products.

    More explanations:
    Seems like I'm blowing away quite a bundle on cooling, but I feel that it is important to do so since my comp is going to be heavily taxed, and I hope I don't have to buy a new comp for another 3-4 years. What this comp is going to be used for, you'd probably be able to guess from what I've already said. If not, don't worry about its use.

    I've done quite abit of research, but before I run out in a hurry to buy the set, I'd like to have some ideas on improving what I've curently got. Basically brand changes, or cooling items. Or if there's something I've missed completely. I always miss something (or feel that I do) and probably will have to come back here with another post to add to this already lengthy post.

    Post if you think something else will work better, or if this is the best configuration I can get.
  2. rv13uk

    rv13uk TS Rookie Posts: 88

    Hi, im building my first PC soon (starting probs in 3 weeks) and i found the hi end buying guide (from this very site) useful, but if you live in the UK you might have a bit of searching to get the english prices, the link is so you dont have to go searching for it. If youve got a lot of money then Ive heard the Athlon 64 FX55 is very good, especially for gaming, but its pricey. Also on the case im going with the A-top x-blade ultimate, it comes out later this month and (seemingly) it ships with a 580W hiper PSU, which would be more than enough im sure, but ive heard that it may be a false claim. Also if you did go with the Athlon 64 FX55 you'd have to buy a skt 939 compatible motherboard (trying 2 not go on about wot im gettin but ive bin lukin 4 pretti much the same stuff as u for the last 2 months now, so it may help) im gettin the Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe motherboard. It supports RAID0 but I dont think it has any AGP support, only PCI. Finally for the graphics card depending on if you want gaming or not the best card ive found is the Geforce 6800 ultra, again its quite expensive but if money isnt an issue then Ive heard its the best around so far.
  3. Masque

    Masque TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,058

    For CMH....

    .....I've got a couple theories that some may slam me on but it's how I go....and don't look back.

    1. The majority of the time, I DO use stock cooling on my systems (check my profile for the current setup......the reason for this? See #2.

    2. I rarely overclock....not that I can't, but in my case (and I know it's not the same with all) if I want more speed, I'll buy it....period. No need to risk good hardware that I've just sunk some good money into.

    Like I said, this doesn't apply to all but it'll give you some food for thought.

    On some of the others, I've found Fortran Source to make some very good power supplies...especially the models with dual 12V rails....helps split the power up nicely.

    Sapphire is a great manufacturer of ATI chipset products if you don't want to pay for built-by-ATI...very solid and in some ways, can be better.

    I use an Antec Super Lanboy side fan, but I love the layout of the drive bays....nice and light as well.

    Hope this all helps.
  4. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    "QUESTION: Will performace increase if I have 1.5gb RAM, but its not running dual channel? Also, heard that GEIL is better than Corsair. Not sure about that."

    It depends on what your doing. Most things, 1gb will be enough.
    I like corsair, geil is good from what I've heard.

    Here's a psu I like, for the price/peformance ratio.

    Get a venice core cpu to support more ram configurations(dual sided dimms in all 4 slots). Plus they oc well.
  5. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    Thanks for all that.

    And yes, I did post this thread before reading the top end guide, and after reading it I found it helped a little.

    And I need all the cooling, especially in summer, Australian summers really heat things up at its peak. I might be overdoing it, but I am also interested in overclocking it once in a while. Which will be explained later.

    More reason for cooling: need to increase the life of my comp. I just had a comp die on me due to summer heat, and I don't want a repeat of that. Also includes excessive shutdown numbers. Again, the reason why I bought the golf 325 + Tt UFO for my current setup. Doesn't help that I need my comp running 24/7. Basicaly, I can't afford not to ignore the heat generated.

    I will be doing some video editing, which is why I'll need the huge (400gb is huge for me) and fast HDD. And also all that RAM. I'll need to OC it whever I do the rendering, or it'll take forever to render. Of course, I'll only be tinkering with the CPU speeds, as thats the main problem. I can't stomach paying double for an extra few mhz, its just too much to pay.

    thanks for the PSU, I'll take a look into it. I'll also take a look at the Antec case, although the lack of a side fan seems like a problem. If the positions of its fans are good, I might go for it.
  6. rv13uk

    rv13uk TS Rookie Posts: 88

    Not sure if youre interested or not, but the PSU (580W hiper PSU) gets a great review and normally sells for about £70, so to get it free with a case I feel is quite good. The review is at and if your interested you can buy the case for £105 here Personally I think it looks awesome, there are some pictures of it here, again if your interested The case also comes with 2 12cm case fans, so personally I reckon its a great deal (im not trying to promote it or anything, well I am, but not for the company :), its just Im going to be buying one in a couple of weeks and I rekon it seems like a bargain). Good luck with the build.
  7. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    not sure if I can get the same thing in australia though. Will see if I can find it. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Can't really tell if it has 5x5.25' bays. From the first look, I think I like this case, especially with the extra 80mm fan behind the HDDs. Not sure how effective that is though because of cramped conditions in the room (I've got 3 pcs all lined up side by side, I know its bad, but I can't afford a few hundred ks to move to a bigger house). Can't see the right side of the case (the right side of where this case is going is gonna be a wall, any ventilation holes will be more or less useless).

    Also, love the blue :p
  8. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    It has 4 5.25 bays.

    For good views of cases check which is mentioned above. I found several cases with 5 X 5.25 bays and several with 6X. I realize that since you are in Australia you won't be buying from them (they are in USA and they don't ship internationally anyway) but for each case there are several views shown and their site has a good search function. You will likely be able to find a few to your liking. Armed with this knowledge, you can look around locally to see if you can find them or find them on a local online outlet.

    BTW, I've used Newegg for some of the components of my recent PC build and they're a good outfit to do business with.
  9. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    Does Newegg ship internationally?

    Also, I have some waranty issues, especially with disaster prone items, so if I'd have to buy internationally, I'd only buy the casing. I've been checking newegg, but checking each individual case out thoroughly does take some time and effort, plus there's a ton of different ones out there, and hoping some guy will have seen something that'll fit what I need....

    and I've seen some 6x5.25' cases, those are HUGE. I'm even considering server size cases at the moment. But those cost an extra 100 bux or so over the already pricey ones, and I'm finding that hard to swallow. But then again, considering the total cost of the pc....
  10. vnf4ultra

    vnf4ultra TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,388

    No, afaik, newegg only ships to the us.
  11. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    As noted in my previous post, Newegg does not ship internationally, only the U.S. I checked before I posted last time.

    My point in bringing them up was so you could see which cases had the 5 or 6 5.25 bays you wanted. They're different in other ways so if you saw them and their specifications and their relative prices, you could better decide which you like best. Yes, it does take some time and effort. It's called shopping. :)
  12. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    I've just checked some sites, and saw this great 11 x 5.25' bay case. I know this is way more than I need, but the price isn't too bad, and I don't mind its design. I can add another few bux to get a PSU.

    Can you guys spot any problems with this case?

    Also, is it possible to add a 1.44FDD in that monster? I'll need at least one slot for that, and its mainly for backup purposes (starting up Norton Ghost). I'm aware that I can burn it into a CD or something, but I'd prefer a diskette, old habits die hard...
  13. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    Certainly has looks. :grinthumb

    Drive Bay Kits: Relocate-able HDD & FDD rack 3 x 3.5" HDD module with 12cm LED fan

    It comes with a 430w PSU - this won't be enough when its full. See here when you need to upgrade.
  14. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    Never seen that before.

    Thanks for bringing that up.

    "I think for this crowd, if you recommend any of the Thermaltake ATX12V models, but none of the TruePower 480W PSU's, you wouldn't be doing anyone any disservice"

    This quote seems to be talking about the PSU that is going to be bundled with the casing. Sorry if my English is that poor, but I found that line quite hard to understand (seriously, English is NOT my first language). Is he trying to say that the TruePower 480W is crap?

    thanks for that site though, it does list some really good PSU's. I'll take a look at them. I'd prefer not to change the PSU once its in, alot of trouble re-connecting (gonna strategically place those leads).
  15. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    English is my first and only language; not that that helps . :D
    I think your take on it is right.

    My main machine PSU is an Enermax which I'm happy with. Check the specs before you buy - make sure is good amperage on the 12v line. HardForum has all the info you need.
  16. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,188   +470

    The specifications for that case say it has two external 3.5" bays so you should be fine for the floppy drive you want.
  17. BrownPaper

    BrownPaper TS Rookie Posts: 407

    CHM, I think that person is saying that the TruePower 480W is good because Thermaltake is in "the list of Un-reccomended and Unscrupulous Power Supply Companies." Later in the thread, he recommends multiple Antec TruePower PSUs including the TruePower 480W. Basically, he is saying Antec is one of the good brands. The guy who wrote that post did not have the best English either. ;)
  18. IronDuke

    IronDuke TS Rookie Posts: 856

    Perhaps if I'd bother to follow the link I'd have got it right. Cheers BrownPaper. :blush:
  19. Tedster

    Tedster Techspot old timer..... Posts: 6,002   +15

    After burning up a good CPU by overclocking, I don't think I'll ever overclock again.
    Cost me $150 to replace it.
  20. CMH

    CMH TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 2,039   +9

    Is the Tt 480W considered good? cos its sure alot cheaper than the other recommended 480W PSU's out there.....

    Better still, it come pre-sleeved, saves me the time from sleeving them.
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