Building Computer for Friend

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Comments on the build?

Case: NZXT Tempest or Antec 1200, not sure yet ~$160
CPU: i5-750, will be OC'd $200
Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard $170
RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit - $90
CPU Fan: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro $35
HD: a 1tb HD... ~$80
Video: 5970 when released... ~$480
Monitors: 2x Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms $310x2 = $620
Speakers: Logitech G51 155 watts RMS 5.1 Surround Sound Speakers -$150
PSU: Thermaltake W0116RU 750W $120

Total: $2105


I'm drooling already.
 
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Get it built and send it to me and I will test it out for you. :p
 
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get him an i7 (1156), other than that, nice :p
 
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Coolermaster Storm Sniper $130 (I'm digging the Coolermaster ATCS 840 atm, nice case and is $50~ more, worth considering IMO)
Intel Core i7 920 $290
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO CPU Cooler $75
MSI x58 PRO Motherboard $190
G.Skill Ripjaw 6GB 2000MHZ CL9 1.6v DDR3 $170
Sapphire Radeon HD5870 1GB GDDR5 $390
AuzenTech X-Fi Forte 7.1 PCI-E Sound card $140
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB cache $85
Coolermaster Silent Pro 700w PSU $100 (Apparently theres a Coolermaster Case bundle offer)
Lite-on 24x DVD-RW $34


Sub total: $1604

Up to you if you choose to stick with the screens and speakers.

X58 is much better suited to a multi-GPU platform when compared with the Lynfield chips thanks to the QPI bus. QPI gets a lot more bandwidth compared to the Lynfield's subsystem.

The Coolermaster PSU listed above has 50a on a single 12v rail, which is better then what the 750w TT PSU can provide.

The faster memory should allow you some headroom while ocing the i7 920.

If your friend is serious about gaming, he might want to consider something better then typical onboard realtek crap, hence why I included a X-Fi forte in my config.

The artic freezer pro is getting dated and compared to newer coolers is a POS when used on i5/i7 chips, which is why I've recommended a different hsf.
 
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Coolermaster Storm Sniper $130 (I'm digging the Coolermaster ATCS 840 atm, nice case and is $50~ more, worth considering IMO)
Intel Core i7 920 $290
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 120mm SSO CPU Cooler $75
MSI x58 PRO Motherboard $190
G.Skill Ripjaw 6GB 2000MHZ CL9 1.6v DDR3 $170
Sapphire Radeon HD5870 1GB GDDR5 $390
AuzenTech X-Fi Forte 7.1 PCI-E Sound card $140
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F1 HD103UJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB cache $85
Coolermaster Silent Pro 700w PSU $100 (Apparently theres a Coolermaster Case bundle offer)
Lite-on 24x DVD-RW $34


Sub total: $1604

Up to you if you choose to stick with the screens and speakers.

X58 is much better suited to a multi-GPU platform when compared with the Lynfield chips thanks to the QPI bus. QPI gets a lot more bandwidth compared to the Lynfield's subsystem.

The Coolermaster PSU listed above has 50a on a single 12v rail, which is better then what the 750w TT PSU can provide.

The faster memory should allow you some headroom while ocing the i7 920.

If your friend is serious about gaming, he might want to consider something better then typical onboard realtek crap, hence why I included a X-Fi forte in my config.

The artic freezer pro is getting dated and compared to newer coolers is a POS when used on i5/i7 chips, which is why I've recommended a different hsf.

You make some good points, but I have some issues with them...

1) I've heard contradictory things about i7 vs i5. Yeah, x58 is supposedly better for gaming due to the QPI boost, but is the jump in price really worth upgrade (CPU and mobo price increase)? There's a lot of nonsense out there about how getting this expensive upgrade does wonders for your system, but in reality, it has little effect. I've seen benchmarks for single gpu systems running various i5 and various i7 CPUs, and the difference between the bunch is underwhelming. I agree with Tom's Hardware in their CPU reviews that say anything past about $200 for a CPU is "past the point of reason." So, unless QPI makes a huge difference, I think I'll stick with i5. Show me some benchmarks that factor in QPI that say otherwise!

EDIT: Turns out I found some fairly perfect benchmarks: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i5-lynnfield,2379-7.html .
Compare the i5 1 x 4870x2 vs the i7 1 x 4870x2 FPS at 2560x1600 resolution. There is no real difference. The video card I chose is the 5970 which is a duel gpu card on 1 PCIe slot, so it would theoretically perform identically to the 4870x2 in terms of relative performance. I think we both made the mistake of forgetting the fact that the 5970 uses only 1 slot. Using only 1 slot means there is no need for QPI since the slots are not going to be x8 each, but in fact, x16 for both. Any extra 'talking' from the interconnect wouldn't make sense since they are still techniquely 1 video card. Therefore, QPI cannot have any tangible effect.

2) That RAM is amazingly overkill. I looked up benchmarks earlier because I wanted to know the tangible difference between 1333 and higher. Turns out that there is barely a difference between even 1066 and 1333. The difference is so minor that no person can even differentiate it. I chose 1333, so I can play around with its settings and timings and trying to maximize the FPS I get.

3) The PSU is something I didn't look in to yet. I posted this, and then realized I forgot the PSU. I picked the first one I saw, lol.

4) I feel the Artic Freezer is still reliable, and half the price of the one you suggest. I've honestly never had any issues with CPU heatsinks that are considered 'decent' by the general public. The OC on the CPU is not going to be like 4.2 GHz, so I feel like it is not a major issue.

5) I have an extra sound card that is still only a year old that I'm giving him. Xi-Fi is overkill, imo anyway. I've never heard a noticable difference between a $30 video card and a $200 one, but that's just the way my brain is wired, I suppose.

6) From my experience, it is better to funnel as much as is reasonably possible into the video card and monitors. When it comes to monitors, the bigger the better for gaming. Color accuracy and contrast ratios, as long as they arn't retardedly bad, do not make a big difference. That 5970 is going to dominate duel screens (it is just two 5870s strapped together with a gig of memory each). This is because when you are running at such high resolutions (1920x1200 and up), the CPU/RAM bottleneck is not what you need to worry about, it's the video card bottleneck. By opening that bottleneck as much as you can, you can actually raise your FPS by a great amount. OCing a CPU or RAM at high resolutions has nearly no effect on FPS. I've seen it over and over again in many benchmarks and through personal experience.

7) That is a nice looking case (in that ugly big black box sort of way). Hm, I did also find a deal for an Antec 1200 + an Antec powersuppy 750w that I might look into as well.
 
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I'll agree that the ram is overkill, but given the fact that you did state that he'd be ocing his system and that both i7 1156/1366 platforms overclock exceptionally well, I thought it might be a better idea to get some better ram depending on how fast you wanted to run the BLCK.

Yes, 1333mhz and 1600mhz ram comparisons show little difference (i7 1366 platform only officially supports 1066mhz spec according to intel anyway), but some 1600mhz kits are very close in price to some of the 1333mhz kits that you might as well get them instead especially when considering what sort of overclock you are aiming for.

In the case of the above for the X58 platform, triple channel ram provides slightly more bandwidth but the QPI bus is theoretically the main advantage. It gets around 20gb/s (assuming with 1333mhz ram), compared to the DMI interface which only gets 2gb/s, which is only 10% of X58's bandwidth. With today's cards, it might not make the biggest of differences, but scaling as you add more GPUs would theoretically be better on X58 then P55 (Having said that though, the PCI-E controller does help in compensating the lack of QPI).

To shortly summarize what I'm trying to say is that QPI may have better future potential and minimize bottlenecks today and when it comes to future GPUs when compared to Bloomfield. Simply because of the the bandwidth offered on X58's QPI, its one of the reasons we'll see a 6-core, 12threaded variant of Nehalem on it in future (not that everyone will need it, but it gives you an example of why intel is doing it, they've also said that 3 cores is enough to saturate the DMI bus)

While benchmarks do show that the both i5/i7 platforms have little differences among themselves, consider the fact that turbo mode on the 700 and 800 series chips is better then the implementation that is on the 900 chips, but this doesn't allow for fair clock for clock comparison. If anything, one might assume that it takes some higher clock speed ramping in order to beat Bloomfield based 920. If compared clock for clock in the here and now, we'd see some close results, but the i7 920 would still come out on top.

As for bottlenecks and overclocking, I'd have to disagree there. With more modern systems today the theory may not apply as much as it did back in the days of P4s, Athlons and when Core 2 first came out, but we can clearly get some decent boosts across the board (even say if the max fps count didn't go up, but the average went up slightly and the minimum rose significantly, we'd already have worthwhile gains).

If hes getting a sound card from you than that's okay. As long as its better then using realtek stuff (To be fair, onboard has come a long way but stills lacks in a few areas, especially annoying signal noise on analog).

As for my choice of case, the Antec 1200 is good (I use one myself), but does have its short comings (It can get cramped in there and the back panel where you route the cables through has limited clearance and will flex most of the time you put it with a nice cable job). Its also a bit noisy for my liking and the side panel window is a bit flimsy and can be easily scratched. Also, having to take apart the case just to clean dust filters is an annoyance when compared to some newer cases that have them external.

In regards to the 5970, it most likely has a modified PCI-E controller on it you'll find, so both GPUs should run at 16x bandwidth on the PCB (IIRC). It'll surely be a good card, but will supposedly be 13 inches long, so make sure you have a case with enough room to fit it.

As for monitors, I'll have no disagreement with you there. I myself am looking at moving to an IPS panel based screen when money allows me to do so.

The artic freezer 64 pro is starting to show its age, so that's why I'd recommend something better, especially if the machine is going into a room with a higher then average room temperature.
 
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I'll agree that the ram is overkill, but given the fact that you did state that he'd be ocing his system and that both i7 1156/1366 platforms overclock exceptionally well, I thought it might be a better idea to get some better ram depending on how fast you wanted to run the BLCK.

Yes, 1333mhz and 1600mhz ram comparisons show little difference (i7 1366 platform only officially supports 1066mhz spec according to intel anyway), but some 1600mhz kits are very close in price to some of the 1333mhz kits that you might as well get them instead especially when considering what sort of overclock you are aiming for.

In the case of the above for the X58 platform, triple channel ram provides slightly more bandwidth but the QPI bus is theoretically the main advantage. It gets around 20gb/s (assuming with 1333mhz ram), compared to the DMI interface which only gets 2gb/s, which is only 10% of X58's bandwidth. With today's cards, it might not make the biggest of differences, but scaling as you add more GPUs would theoretically be better on X58 then P55 (Having said that though, the PCI-E controller does help in compensating the lack of QPI).

To shortly summarize what I'm trying to say is that QPI may have better future potential and minimize bottlenecks today and when it comes to future GPUs when compared to Bloomfield. Simply because of the the bandwidth offered on X58's QPI, its one of the reasons we'll see a 6-core, 12threaded variant of Nehalem on it in future (not that everyone will need it, but it gives you an example of why intel is doing it, they've also said that 3 cores is enough to saturate the DMI bus)

While benchmarks do show that the both i5/i7 platforms have little differences among themselves, consider the fact that turbo mode on the 700 and 800 series chips is better then the implementation that is on the 900 chips, but this doesn't allow for fair clock for clock comparison. If anything, one might assume that it takes some higher clock speed ramping in order to beat Bloomfield based 920. If compared clock for clock in the here and now, we'd see some close results, but the i7 920 would still come out on top.

As for bottlenecks and overclocking, I'd have to disagree there. With more modern systems today the theory may not apply as much as it did back in the days of P4s, Athlons and when Core 2 first came out, but we can clearly get some decent boosts across the board (even say if the max fps count didn't go up, but the average went up slightly and the minimum rose significantly, we'd already have worthwhile gains).

If hes getting a sound card from you than that's okay. As long as its better then using realtek stuff (To be fair, onboard has come a long way but stills lacks in a few areas, especially annoying signal noise on analog).

As for my choice of case, the Antec 1200 is good (I use one myself), but does have its short comings (It can get cramped in there and the back panel where you route the cables through has limited clearance and will flex most of the time you put it with a nice cable job). Its also a bit noisy for my liking and the side panel window is a bit flimsy and can be easily scratched. Also, having to take apart the case just to clean dust filters is an annoyance when compared to some newer cases that have them external.

In regards to the 5970, it most likely has a modified PCI-E controller on it you'll find, so both GPUs should run at 16x bandwidth on the PCB (IIRC). It'll surely be a good card, but will supposedly be 13 inches long, so make sure you have a case with enough room to fit it.

As for monitors, I'll have no disagreement with you there. I myself am looking at moving to an IPS panel based screen when money allows me to do so.

The artic freezer 64 pro is starting to show its age, so that's why I'd recommend something better, especially if the machine is going into a room with a higher then average room temperature.
NERD BONER.

1) Ram: I don't see the need to spend extra money for no reason.

2) The only situation I see that QPI helping is with an overclocked CPU with duel video cards. That will not be happening with this system. I just see it as an extra ~$150 down the drain for future proofing hardware that will be replaced by the time the future arrives. A 5970 will last until at least 2 video card generations down the line. At that point, it would make more sense to buy a new generation video card, not a second 5970.

3) The bottlenecks are very much real even today. Look at GPU and CPU benchmarks. You'll notice GPU benchmarks are always using high resolutions where CPU benchmarks use low resolution. They are making sure they are GPU/CPU bottlenecked to determine the power of their hard ware.

If you overclock an CPU when running at high resolutions when you have hit the GPU bottleneck, then you will not see an appreciable difference (sometimes you see a mild gain of 1 FPS when you are already in the 200 FPS range, but that is insignificant). Trust me on this, you can see it any benchmark out there. Take a Pentium 3, throw in a 4870, run a benchmark. Overclock the 4870 as watch as your FPS doesn't change.


4) I've never had an Antec 1200. I have an NZXT Tempest. The only issue with it is the god awful hard drive cages. My hard drive right now is not locked in place. If I were to knock over my case, my HD would probably slam into the motherboard. It is very roomy, cold, silent, and cheap, however.

5) Antec 1200 is supposed to have tons of room. I'm more worried that the card will cover something on the motherboard that I need, like SATA connectors.

6) You going to do graphics work with that IPS?
 
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NERD BONER.

1) Ram: I don't see the need to spend extra money for no reason.

2) The only situation I see that QPI helping is with an overclocked CPU with duel video cards. That will not be happening with this system. I just see it as an extra ~$150 down the drain for future proofing hardware that will be replaced by the time the future arrives. A 5970 will last until at least 2 video card generations down the line. At that point, it would make more sense to buy a new generation video card, not a second 5970.

3) The bottlenecks are very much real even today. Look at GPU and CPU benchmarks. You'll notice GPU benchmarks are always using high resolutions where CPU benchmarks use low resolution. They are making sure they are GPU/CPU bottlenecked to determine the power of their hard ware.

If you overclock an CPU when running at high resolutions when you have hit the GPU bottleneck, then you will not see an appreciable difference (sometimes you see a mild gain of 1 FPS when you are already in the 200 FPS range, but that is insignificant). Trust me on this, you can see it any benchmark out there. Take a Pentium 3, throw in a 4870, run a benchmark. Overclock the 4870 as watch as your FPS doesn't change.


4) I've never had an Antec 1200. I have an NZXT Tempest. The only issue with it is the god awful hard drive cages. My hard drive right now is not locked in place. If I were to knock over my case, my HD would probably slam into the motherboard. It is very roomy, cold, silent, and cheap, however.

5) Antec 1200 is supposed to have tons of room. I'm more worried that the card will cover something on the motherboard that I need, like SATA connectors.

6) You going to do graphics work with that IPS?
No he just sits around playing CSS. :p
 
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I agree with Quagmire about the HSF, the Freezer may be decent but Noctua's HSF are great, as is the build quality, whereas the Freezer's build quality aint so good, so I'v read.

I also saw somewhere that the mounting system for the AC Freezer can be akward. I have used a couple of Noctua HSF's and once it's mounted properly it's pretty solid. I don't think the Freezer has a backplate, Im not sure how heavy it is but I'm not sure how comfortable I would be with putting it in my system. Also I'm not sure but I dont think you can use third party fans with the Freezer, meaning if the fan ever dies, you'd have either order the same model fan or replace the heatsink.

Don't get me wrong I'm not putting down the Freezer I would just with something more reliable and flexible.

For the HDD I'd probably go with this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136284
 
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The artic freezer 64 pro is starting to show its age, so that's why I'd recommend something better, especially if the machine is going into a room with a higher then average room temperature.
The 64 Pro is for AMD platforms. I think you're thinking of the 7 Pro, in which case there's a newer, highly versatile revision for all socket types:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186134

It's pretty much the best you can buy right now.
 

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