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Build Advice Building a new PC on a high budget, (Epicly long post...)

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Toploaded, 28 Mar 2010.

  1. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Hey guys. Thanks in advance to anyone that reads though my lengthy post. Before I drop this kinda money that's been a long time saving, I want advice from a well informed bunch like yourselves.

    I'm a long time PC user and game developer, but I've never been much of a tech-head. Honesty the main reason for this is because I've never been in a position where I could afford anything other then mid range pcs, and I'd just have depressed myself following the latest advancements that I thought I'd never get :)

    Anyway, lately I have gotten into a position where for the first time in my 15 years of computing I can have something cutting edge, and when I hit the net to start seeing what I should get, even after 2 days of reading, I still know jack s**t.

    So... I'd really like some advice. My budget is 2000-2500 (pounds) for the entire pc and monitor, mouse keyboard ect. I've found roughly what I want, but I would like some advice about some things and if it's going to be much more beneficial spending extra on newer versions of some hardware.


    Few points:

    -I'm using it for high end gaming, also much process hungry compiling ect. I multitask like crazy, often having 3 resource hungry apps open at anyone time (for game dev)

    -I don't mind spending x2 the amount for the next version of hardware up, as long as it's Significantly better and/or likely to future proof me drastically over the next 5 years or so. If it's an upgrade that means little or nothing in the real world, I'd rather avoid it.

    -I'm not that worried about noise... my current pc is so loud it probably damages my ears, and I guess I've gotten used to it

    -My PC stays on pretty much 24/7 due to the amount of compiling I do, and uploading of remotely done work.

    -Anything I've mentioned below, I'm open to suggestions if I've not listed a better alternative.


    Okay, so:

    Processor

    Having ruled out the overkill and massively expressive Corei7 i7-980X, I'm down to the

    Core i7-930 (around £240)

    or

    Core i7-960 (around £470)


    RAM


    If there is an area that confuses the hell out of me, it's Ram. Basically, would I ever even needs 12gig of ram?? or would 6 be enough to get the most out of my pc?

    Also is it would it benefit me to spend money on a 2000mhz dominator gt tri-ddr3 over, say 1333? Is there a cheaper make or type that does the job pretty much as well?


    GPU

    I'm getting an ATI as that was the one very clear consensus of all the reviews I read lately.

    I'm after top end, so its' either

    1gb ati radeon hd 5870 (£320)

    or

    2gb ati radeon hd 5970 (£540)

    I guess I just wanna know that, in your opinion, is it worth the extra for the 5970, and if not now, does the 5970 have any future proofing features I should be aware of?

    MotherBoard:

    I wanted one with usb 3.0 already part of it and good for future upgrading, so I'm thinking about this:

    ASUS® P6X58D PREMIUM: TRUE USB 3.0 & SATA 6.0Gb/s, 3-Way SLI (£240.45)

    Good choice?

    HardDrives


    So, I know my choices are between solid state, sata and serial. In a practical sense, I'm sure spending what is not a massive amount more for SATA over Serial should give me a notable performance increase (right? or?)

    But, what I really wanna know is, is the massive of a 250gig solid state even worth considering? I know it's more reliable with less moving parts ect, but I'm actually not so worried about that, what I am more focused on is raw speed of performance. I'm also not to bothered about less storage space per buck for my main drive.

    So would I be insane to get

    250GB OCZ VERTEX SERIES SATA II 2.5" SSD (£679.99)

    over a

    300GB WD VelociRaptor SATA (£220.99)

    or speed wise, would a

    250GB SERIAL ATA 3Gb/s HARD DRIVE (£84.53)

    surface even?


    Cooling.


    Well, it's very unlikely I'll go for the 1st option here unless I'm convinced otherwise, but is there a vitally important reason I should opt for a

    COOLIT FREEZONE ELITE CPU SUB AMBIENT COOLING UNIT(£225)

    over a

    COOLIT ECO A.L.C (ADVANCED LIQUID COOLER) (£59)


    Powerpack


    AT some point I will no doubt wanna run 2xGPU, what kinda powerpack should I get?

    Would 800w cover me for most things or should I get something closer to

    1010W Quiet Quad Rail PSU
     
  2. Ph4ZeD

    Ph4ZeD New Member

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    Right matey. Theres a lot of information there and I'll try to answer all your questions.

    CPU - Go for the i7 930. The 960 is an identical chip and your paying double for 400MHz when overclocking the 930 way beyond that is exceeding simple.

    RAM - I'm not a game developer, but my brother is and for him 6GB of RAM seems to be fine. 12GB would cost you a lot so it makes sense to start with 6GB then if you need to, add more.

    GPU - If your gaming up to 1920x1080 or 1920x1200, the 5870 will be sufficient. You've got a high budget, but I expect you want multiple screens for multi-tasking rather than one huge and expensive screen.

    Motherboard - The Asus P6TD Deluxe is considered the top i7 motherboard, but it doesn't have USB3, so I'm not sure which would be right for you.

    Hard drives - You seem to be a bit confused here. Theres two main types of hard drive, mechanical and solid state drive. Mechanical drives, which are all SATA these days, offer huge storage capacity cheaply. SSDs are in a different league of speed, but are expensive and low capacity. Do NOT go for the VelociRaptor - they have been made completely obsolete by SSDs. The 160GB Intel X-25M G2 is £350 and offers plenty of storage capacity and is lightning fast.

    Cooling - Just get a decent case and you shouldn't need to add many fans. The Antec 1200 is insane for cooling without adding anything.

    PSU - Corsair HX850W is a modular, stable and efficient with buckets of power, reasonably priced too.
     
    Last edited: 28 Mar 2010
  3. JaredC01

    JaredC01 Hardware Nut

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    Processor: Go for the i7 930... Not worth the extra cost for the 960 by any stretch. The 930 can be very easily overclocked to match the speed of the 960 on stock voltage. You SHOULD be able to get ~3.8GHz with near-stock voltage on the 930 if you want to do some real overclocking.

    RAM: Unless you're running benchmarks, I wouldn't go for anything over DDR3-1600MHz RAM. Even with 1600MHz, there's not a huge difference over 1333MHz RAM, but they're priced nearly the same, so the extra couple of pounds is worth the extra performance. As for amount, 12GB is usually overkill, and it can actually damage the memory controller on the processor if it's 1.65v RAM and you overclock your CPU. I have no problem with 6GB of RAM in my rig.

    GPU: My suggestion would be to pick up a single 5870 now, and expand to two cards later if you feel you need it. I've got a single 5870 powering my 30" monitor just fine in most all of my games. I may add a second card down the road for the extra boost in some of the games that struggle with 'ultra mega super stupidly-high' settings.

    For the record, the 5970 is nothing more than two 5870 cores, slightly underclocked, and put on the same PCB board. On top of that, since it's Crossfire on a single card, each card splits the X16 lane from the PCI-E bus into two X8 lanes (though the performance difference between the two is roughly 2%). You're better off, bandwidth and performance wise, to go for two 5870's in the long run.

    Motherboard: The Asus looks to be a good board, as does the Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD5. Either one would be good in my book. Both have SATA 6.0Gbps, and USB 3.0.

    HDDs: I think you're getting a bit confused here... Solid State Disks (SSDs) are a type of drive, as well as mechanical drives. SATA is the interface (Serial ATA) for them. When you say Serial, I'm assuming you mean Serial Attached SCSI (SAS), which is mainly used for enterprise level drives.

    As for SSDs, typically the higher you go in capacity the better the performance since the drive has more memory cells to write to. The down side to SSDs is that they aren't good for a lot of write cycles, unlike mechanical drives. The majority of the people who purchase SSDs buy a relatively small (in comparison to a mechanical drive) drive to use as a boot drive, then have a mechanical drive as a storage drive. So long as you can fit all of your important programs on the SSD, along with the operating system, lower space is typically not an issue. My personal opinion would be a 100~120GB SSD using the Sandforce controller for a boot drive, and a 1TB mechanical drive for a storage drive.

    Cooling: Go for the Eco A.L.C. over the Freezone. IIRC the Eco performs better than the Corsair H50, which is a great little water cooler itself.

    PSU: I'm personally a fan of Enermax PSU's as they've been good to me in the past, and their Revolution series PSU's are great. I would say for 'future proofing' go for something like the Enermax Revolution 85+ 1050w PSU (same one I'm running). It's got enough power for everything and then some, and is incredibly efficient when running from 50% and up. It will easily handle two 5870's an overclocked i7 930, and whatever else you want to throw at it.

    If not the Enermax, something good quality with a high 80+ rating. Seasonic has a 650w PSU that's completely modular with a Gold 80+ rating. 650w should be just enough to power the same system.
     
  4. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Great advice both, just the sort if guidance I needed thanks. Interesting you are both pretty much in agreement, and also thanks for other suggestions about alternative hardware, cases etc. You probably saved me a fair bit of cash that I can put into better monitors etc, as I was leaning towards the higher end of both GPU and CPU.

    And I was indeed confused on the Harddisk, that clears it up. I think I'll wait on the solid state for now, hell anything gonna feel speedy compared to my current 6 yr old IDE.

    Just wondering, upgrading a board without USB 3.0 will be as simple as getting a USB 3 card right? Or might there be a limitation on the board itself that will prohibit USB 3.0 working to it's potential? If not I'll probably be happy getting a (better for CPU) board without built in 3.0 and just get a card for it when I actually see a need in getting USB devices.
     
  5. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Sorry for the double post, one more thing I forgot to ask and my last post has not been approved yet to edit.

    Is the rather hefty price difference between Dominator ram and Corsair ram worth it you think?
     
  6. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    Here's my tuppence:

    Possibly wait for the Asus Rampage 3 Extreme, it's meant to be out over the next couple of weeks and it'll give you all the bandwidth you'll ever need for SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0, plus multi GPU's and overclocking. It's very pretty too :p

    As for the cooling, I've always heard bad thing about the CoolIT kits, here on Bit Tech they've had a couple break on them I believe. A better option would be the Corsair H50. I installed one of these for my best mate and it's a great little cooler, comparable to my TRUE 120. Just get some good fans for it, I got some 1850 RPM Gentle Typhoons not long ago and they push masses of air and are silent :)

    As for hard drives, I assume you'll be dealing with large files that you wouldn't want to loose, so possibly 2 Samsung F3's in a RAID 1 as a mass storage system with a Intel x25-M as your main boot drive. Thats the direction i'm going with mine as i game heavily but also use it for college work and my GF uses it for Uni work, so data loss would be a problem.

    And i'll give a +1 to the PSU above, it is the king, although is pricey. Just holding one you know it is a qulity piece of kit.

    The only thing you haven't mentioned is what case you'll be mounting all of this in, got your eye on anything? I'd suggest a Coolermaster ATCS 840, its a beautiful bit of kit.
     
  7. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Well, originally I was going to get the base unit pre-built from these guys

    http://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/computers/intel-core-i7-pc/

    As I was kinda scared to attempt it myself, although they do have limits on case selection (and other things) as seen in the link above. Also, after reading JaredC01's excellent post on building a PC yourself, and the point he makes on the manufacturers warrantys ect, I'm thinking about attempting it myself.

    Not sure though.
     
  8. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    I'd say build it yourself, as it'll be atleast £200 extra for them to do it. If you take your time and go slowly, you'll be fine :)
     
  9. Domestic_ginger

    Domestic_ginger New Member

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    Scan offer scansure insurance on their stuff which may offer you a piece of mind. Building a PC is not difficult although there are some watercooling horror stories.

    On this budget; prebuilt may not be such a bad idea for the warranty.
     
  10. C-Sniper

    C-Sniper Stop Trolling this space Ądmins!

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    Actually nowadays some components come with a lifetime warranty (memory, Graphics card in some cases) or a warranty that exceeds what the builders offer (most components come with a 3year std warranty).
     
  11. Baz

    Baz I work for Corsair

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    If you don't want to go for an SSD, the Samsung SPinpoint F3 1TB is the hard disk drive of choice - very nippy for a mechanical drive!
     
  12. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Yeah, I think I will give it a go myself, gives me more options on what to buy, will no doubt be cheaper, and I'll get that warm, fuzzy sense of 'I built that' for the next 5 years or so. The Scan site kinda confuses me a little to be honest when searching for exact parts on it, I'll take another stab at that later. I've got some time, I think I might take an above users advice and await the release of the Asus Rampage 3 Extreme. If nothing else, it might push down the price of the Rampage 3 Extreme.

    So yeah, the case, I'll give it some thought. I don't really care what it looks like, My pc will really only ever be seen by me. If I can cut a corner on the case but still get a practical one that has enough space and is good for cooling, I'm happy :) Water cooling just plan scares me, I doubt I'll go that road.

    Can anyone tell me if the rather notable price difference between the 6gb Dominator and the regular Corsair 1600 worth it? I guess from what's been said already probably not right now, but thought I'd ask.

    Thanks for the help all, much appreciated.

    EDIT: Thanks for the harddrive tip, although I'm edging back towards a SDD now, I will look into that one for storage.
     
    Last edited: 29 Mar 2010
  13. Domestic_ginger

    Domestic_ginger New Member

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    I doubt they offer it against physical damage though and warranties in the UK are shorter than the states.
     
  14. Bufo802

    Bufo802 Member

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    The standard warranties won't help against damage but scansure does, don't think it's that much extra for 30 days of complete cover in case you mess up installation. Might be good for a first time build especially with quite expensive hardware.
     
  15. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    The Dominator, more specifically , the GT varient is extreme overclocking RAM. The GT is hand tested and built, so it can reach very high clock speeds. I think you'll never need something like this. If you want RAM that has plenty of overclocking potential maybe look at some OCZ Reaper kits, as they're good as overclocking but wont break the bank. They look pretty cool too :p

    As with a case, it'd be silly to spend all this money on beautiful and expensive components and to sick them in a mid ranged case. Like taking a Ferrari's engine and drive train, and stucking a Ford Mondeo's body on it. it'll work fine, and doesn't look bad, but you'll wish it was a Farrari...

    Components come and go, but a good case is for life!
     
  16. JaredC01

    JaredC01 Hardware Nut

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    Couple more things I need to throw in...

    1. The Rampage 3 Extreme is an 'Extreme' overclockers board. 90% of the users out there won't make use of the extra features on the board, and it will come at a hefty premium. I would personally pick something in the 'standard' Asus line, such as the well favored P6TD Deluxe, or something from the Gigabyte line, such as the GA-X58-UD5. If you still want the USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0Gbps, the GA-EX58A-UD5 has both for 17 more pounds. (Also for the record, the '5' in the UD5 stands for a 5 year warranty.)

    2. The Dominator RAM is the same situation as the Rampage 3 Extreme... It's overclocker's RAM, and not necessary. Pretty much any DDR3 1600MHz RAM will do, so long as it's from a reputable company... Any questions on whether a kit will be okay, just ask. For the record, the i7 1366 socket boards are triple-channel, so you'll want a 3 or 6GB kit, running at 1.65 volts or lower. I think you knew that part already though. ;)

    3. IF you can afford it, a SSD is worth the price, so long as it supports TRIM, and so long as you're running Windows 7. Without either one of those, you'll have degraded performance after a relatively short period of time. As for the mechanical drives to choose, Spinpoint F3 all the way.


    If you want me to put something together for you that should be 'perfect' for you IMHO, I can do so. :)
     
  17. Bloody_Pete

    Bloody_Pete Technophile

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    Don't the current USB 3.0 S-ATA 6.0Gb/s boards suffer from lack of bandwidth though?
     
  18. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    That would be great infact, I'm just not decisive enough to be honest, and considering I'll be using your guide on building it, kinda seems fitting (yeah, I'm gonna go for it, but take a very long time over it....) I'll be sure to post a pic of the final product.

    A few more points, then

    -The budget is £2000, give or take £100. (excluding mouse and keyboard, I'll get that later on now)

    -I already have a genuine copy of windows 7 ultimate 64bit, all covered there

    -Although I get what Bloody_Pete says about the looks of it, I don't really care tbh, unlike a Ferrari, no one will see me in it, or even really see the pc full stop (none of my mates are PC lovers as such). If there are cases that are good and practical but cheaper and less stylish, that's cool with me.

    -For the mean time I'll stick with one monitor and get a second further down the road when my next work contract comes up, but I'm happy to pay more for a sharper, better screen (After all, THATS what I'll be looking at most of the time, not the case :) ) 24 inch should be fine for me.

    -I will, at some point, crossfire the recommend card, but not right away (might as well just enjoy the massive upgrade of the first card!)

    -As for SSD, I'm sold. I'm thinking I might need something rather big in that department. I will no doubt install a rather large games collection and many of them are tied to my steam account. Sadly with steam, I have to keep all the games from it on one drive.

    -1tb 2nd storage would be fine, but if it's only gonna be slightly more for 1.5 or 2, then what the heck.

    -USB 3.0, on reflection, is not that urgent, it's not like I have any 3.0 devices. As long as I'm able to upgrade with a card later, that's cool.

    -I'll need a wireless card or some kind

    -I don't really care about sound that much, I'll use headphones much of the time anyway.

    -The only overclocking I'll be doing is the really simple, none risky, software based kind...

    -If possible, I'd like to get all the parts from one place, such as scan.co.uk


    Okay probably information overkill, but there ya have it, and again thanks for ya time.
     
    Last edited: 30 Mar 2010
  19. masterjonny

    masterjonny New Member

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    I can relate to what your doing having literally just built a PC on the same budget myself. Personally can recommend the Gigabye X58A-UD7 motherboard, it's a rock solid over clocker and got a mind blowing feature set on it. Sata3, USB3, good PCI spacing. You many not want USB3 now, but this board doesn't run too much dearer than some of the other top end boards, so why not? :)

    Don't sacrifice PCI space on one, especially if your pondering CrossFire in the future. I got a 19.99 Netgear WG111v3 USB one, and I've given that thing more hammer in the last two years than most users would in a life time. This thing is beyond reliable.

    If your looking for a pre-specced, and what I consider perfect for £2000 build, mines in my sig (tower only, no peripherals such as sound, monitors etc), and I got 90% of my bits from Aria, with one or two from Scan.

    I'm REALLY swimming against the tide on this one. I'm like the only person on bit-tech anti SSD. Why? It's an immature technology, there coming on in leaps and bounds, faster than most other areas of computing and yours will feel old in no time. Controllers are getting better and better, and with Sandforce ones coming out soon taking advantage of SATA3 their only gonna get faster.

    More than anything though I think 300 quid - GFX Card or SSD. GFX controls the FPS which I will see 99% of the time in games, and and SSD controls the loading screen I see 1% of the time. In my eye's its a no brainer :)

    Like I say my perspective on SSD's is unique, and I except to be bludgeoned to death for saying that, but hey :p
     
  20. Toploaded

    Toploaded New Member

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    Heh, you do raise a good point though. I mean really I've never, even on this old PC cared too much about how long windows takes to get going, maybe just because I've become used to expecting windows to take a while to get going.

    I do care about how long it takes my programs to load, though, like 3ds max and photoshop take 2 mins sometimes. But I always put that down to CPU bottle necks more then the drive, but then again I'm also on a cheap, loud and crappy 5 year old 5400 160gb harddrive.

    That's my paradox I guess, I want a fast loading drive, but for it to be truly worth it, I would have to install many many gigs of programs and games, meaning I'm going to need AT LEAST 150gig for SSD, if not more. A 30 just for a few core programs and boot up could be okay, but from what was said here and in a review I read, they don't work as well if they are smaller, sooo....

    www.aria.co.uk seems an easier site to find what I'm looking for, could be an option too.
     
    Last edited: 30 Mar 2010

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