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Building a computer. Thoughts.

Hardrive

Contributor
Hey guys. I'm looking at building a computer again, but I haven't been looking at hardware much, and I was wondering if I could get your thoughts (especially Torch's :)).

As for budget, I'm thinking somewhere in the range of $1000-$1500. I'd like to build a good one (obviously).

Right now, I'm leaning towards i7 Sandy Bridge because those things seem to be the shit. But I'm open to suggestions. I have no idea what's good in the land of video cards anymore. All I know is anything will be an improvement over the 9600's I'm running right now!

I'll probably be ordering the parts this weekend because I'm going out west for an internship and plan on just building the thing out there.

Edits (from posts below):

Also, something I forgot to add is whether now is a good time or if I should wait? I know the Ivy Bridges are supposed to be 22 nm, but most reports are saying that this isn't going to happen (the die shrink doesn't seem feasible according to some reports). I can wait as long as I'd like, but now is a semi-opportune time for me.

I'll be using this computer primarily for development and Virtual Machines, but I will be playing the occasional game on it. I think the i7 will help in compiling, which is why I am leaning towards that over the i5.
 

El Diablo

Member
What do you want to do with it? If you're looking at using it for gaming I would recommend the 2500k over the 2600k, you won't notice a difference in games with the i7. Also I think the ASRock P67 extreme4 is the best motherboard you'll find for that price until you start looking at 200+ dollar ones.

Edit: But SB is the way to go for sure, whether you go for the 2500k or 2600k they're the best out there right now there's nothing else worth buying.
 

Hardrive

Contributor
Also, something I forgot to add is whether now is a good time or if I should wait? I know the Ivy Bridges are supposed to be 22 nm, but most reports are saying that this isn't going to happen. I can wait as long as I'd like, but now is a semi-opportune time for me.
 

FrozenIpaq

Justin B / Supp. Editor
Enforcer Team
Agree with El Diablo, I wouldn't bother with an i7 unless you want bragging rights because that's all they're really good for these days. I just built a configuration, not sure what others will think of it (there's some room for negotiation of course, you could pick a different SSD for about 50-70$ cheaper although performance won't be as great but still really good. The case is really personal preference though and I would assume you'd want to or could re-use your DVD drive from your current computer). Think I got all the parts necessary though:

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=20295887

EDIT: As far as waiting goes, Ivy Bridge probably won't be out until the end of this year at the earliest.
 

El Diablo

Member
Ivy Bridge is supposed to work in socket 1155 I believe meaning you will still have an upgrade path if they are actually better and worth the upgrade and you think you need it. They won't be out for a while though so I wouldn't recommend waiting for them unless you're okay with waiting until the end of 2011/early 2012.
 

Hardrive

Contributor
I'll be using this computer primarily for development and Virtual Machines, but I will be playing the occasional game on it. I think the i7 will help in compiling, which is why I am leaning towards that over the i5.
 

El Diablo

Member
Yeah, if you will be using programs like that that will use the HT then definitely getting the i7 would be the better decision. For most people though it's not worth it.
 

FrozenIpaq

Justin B / Supp. Editor
Enforcer Team
Yeah, if you will be using programs like that that will use the HT then definitely getting the i7 would be the better decision. For most people though it's not worth it.
Yeah if that's the case then you can and will benefit from an i7
 

Adiuvo

Active Member
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=16093365

Then pick the case you want. I recommended this. It's the best air cooling case on the market and is cheaper on Amazon than Newegg.

If you want to get it for gaming a 6950 would be the better choice. That one can overclock quite well bringing it within 3% of a 6970s performance, and if you need more power you can crossfire it sending it far past the power of a 580. Furthermore very very few programs use hyperthreading short of a few video converters, so make sure the programs you want to use support it if you even think about getting an i7. An i5 2500k, especially with a NH-D14 on it, will overclock to the extreme so you'll have substantial headroom.
 

Trigun

That guy, who Records Music.
i7's will perform far better in Workstation applications and in Emulating things like the PS2 via PCSX2.
I don't know about SB i7's but my 950 hardly ever gets hot in all of the CPU intensive things I do and the usage rarely gets very high at all.


I think it's definitely a CPU you will want to have to avoid Future CPU bottlenecks as it will be still great 3, 4 years down the road.
Plus the Sandy Bridge versions i hear overclock much more insanely than 1366 i7's did.
 

El Diablo

Member
I would definitely agree with the 6950, it's an amazing high end video card for a great price. When I got mine it was 300 bucks with a 30 dollar MIR (which I forgot to use like a ree ree) but even for 300 I'm extremely happy with it. Plays everything I've thrown on it at the highest settings except Metro 2033, which it can do but I just don't like gaming with 25-30 fps. As adiuvo said it can also be OC'd pretty close to the 6970, and you can even put the 6970 bios on it and unlock the card to a 6970 (well, just slight slightly under it, but you can OC from there). Personally I haven't done this because I've read of some people having their cards die after doing this, but quite frankly it's because I don't need to to run everything.
 

Trigun

That guy, who Records Music.
If your hardware set up is anything to go by. The 6950 is overpriced.

My GTX460 1GB cost me 140$ used and it is only shy of 6950's 3DmarkVantage Pscore by 2000 points
and it gets nearly the same 3dmark06 score.
From this review http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/HIS/Radeon_HD_6950/26.html
and others.
It also performs only 4FPS less on average in Uningine 2.0 @1280x1024 and about 8Less @ 1680x1050 4xaa

For the price of the 6950 you could get 2 GTX 460's(even cheaper if you bought the 768Mb version for resolutions up to 1080p) in SLI that would far outperform it and would be slightly faster than a 580.
(or two other slightly lower tier AMD cards)

That's just what I think.
 

Hardrive

Contributor
Here's what I have so far: http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=23572928

I have a Vertex 2 and a DVD drive from my old rig that I will be using. I realize the Vertex 2 is not SATA 3, but I'm waiting for SSD prices to fall before I buy another.

I know you all will probably balk at the RAM and the i7 choice because games won't perfectly benefit. I do a lot of compiling and virtual machine work on my computer, which is why I made those choices.
 

El Diablo

Member
I like the video card. That thing will be such a fucking beast you will dominate anything.
 

x3sphere

Administrator
Staff member
Enforcer Team
If your hardware set up is anything to go by. The 6950 is overpriced.

My GTX460 1GB cost me 140$ used and it is only shy of 6950's 3DmarkVantage Pscore by 2000 points
and it gets nearly the same 3dmark06 score.
From this review http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/HIS/Radeon_HD_6950/26.html
and others.
It also performs only 4FPS less on average in Uningine 2.0 @1280x1024 and about 8Less @ 1680x1050 4xaa

For the price of the 6950 you could get 2 GTX 460's(even cheaper if you bought the 768Mb version for resolutions up to 1080p) in SLI that would far outperform it and would be slightly faster than a 580.
(or two other slightly lower tier AMD cards)

That's just what I think.
I tend not to gauge a card's performance by benchmarks since the scores can fluctuate heavily based on drivers used but looking at those Uningine charts, there is quite a big difference between the 460 and a 6950 @ 1080p. Enough of a difference to make or break playability.

Also I would not recommend going SLI or Crossfire over a single-card solution, had lots of issues with my past multi GPU setup. Probably the biggest deal breaker for me was the erratic FPS rates (apparently this is known as 'microstutter'). Basically when I was getting around 45 FPS in a game it felt like 30. VSync alleviated it to some extent but the frame output still didn't feel as smooth as a single card if the FPS was under 60.

I'm surprised reviews never touch on this because I've seen A LOT of multi-GPU owners report the same issues.
 

Trigun

That guy, who Records Music.
Well I wasn't using those 460 scores. I was using my own 460 scores.

That said, what you said is indeed the truth.

However, i've heard of lots of people who've never really had problems with microstuttering.
So I guess it's pretty much luck whether you get it or not.


Does Forcing Vsync(if you have a 60hz monitor) not solve it with multi-GPU's?
when I don't use Vsync in a lot of games I get a lot of Stuttering myself because the frame rates fluctuate so much.
In games like Aion though, Vsync is broken and I've gotten worse performance with it on.(Despite the fact i'd be getting 150+FPS without it on)


What about Dual-GPU GPU's like the 6990 or 590 or 460 2WIN?
have any experience with those? I've read that with the 460 2WIN that it doesn't show it as SLI in GPU-Z , that it's just 2 seperate GPU's or something. I'm not sure.
 

x3sphere

Administrator
Staff member
Enforcer Team
Well I wasn't using those 460 scores. I was using my own 460 scores.

That said, what you said is indeed the truth.

However, i've heard of lots of people who've never really had problems with microstuttering.
So I guess it's pretty much luck whether you get it or not.


Does Forcing Vsync(if you have a 60hz monitor) not solve it with multi-GPU's?
when I don't use Vsync in a lot of games I get a lot of Stuttering myself because the frame rates fluctuate so much.
In games like Aion though, Vsync is broken and I've gotten worse performance with it on.(Despite the fact i'd be getting 150+FPS without it on)


What about Dual-GPU GPU's like the 6990 or 590 or 460 2WIN?
have any experience with those? I've read that with the 460 2WIN that it doesn't show it as SLI in GPU-Z , that it's just 2 seperate GPU's or something. I'm not sure.
I had the 5970, same issues there. Prior to that I had dual GTX275s for a short while. I'd imagine it's no different with the 6990/590 since all of them use AFR rendering by default. There are different types of multi-GPU rendering, one is SFR. Apparently microstutter is less noticeable with SFR but the downside is it doesn't scale nearly as well, and many games don't support it at all.

I usually leave VSync on in all games, and still noticed it. But only when my FPS dropped below 60. Unfortunately at 2560x1600 it's just not realistic to stay above 60 at all times so the dual GPU setup wasn't enjoyable for me.

Compared to the 5970, the 6970 I have is about 30% less powerful on average yet almost every game feels smoother, despite the lower FPS. I'm sticking with single cards until this is sorted. Until they move away from AFR it'll likely remain an issue.

Personally - I think multi-GPU owners who don't notice it aren't stressing their system hard enough. At 1080p with dual 58xx or 69xx cards, you get ridiculous frames on almost any game.
 

Trigun

That guy, who Records Music.
Yeah, I was aware of the different rendering modes.
One of them Renders half a frame depending on the geometry and the other Renders the other half. And I can't remember the other method.

You think they would've solved it by now since SLI has been around since what, the Nvidia 7XXX series?
Same thing with crossfire which came out around the same time didn't it?
 

LocutusEstBorg

Contributor
Hey, haven't been reading through all the forums in a while. Thought I'd chime in in case you still haven't bought the PC yet.

The 2500K and 2600K CPUs are both insanely fast and value for money. The concept of extreme edition CPUs has pretty much lost all it's value nowadays if you ask me. If you are going to be running VMs, then get the 2600K as the HT will help a LOT.

Memory speed and latency has also become insignificant now. Anything in the range of the Corsair XMS3 series is MORE than sufficient. The XMS3 is actually overpriced, so just use the specs as a reference and buy the same thing from G.Skill.

Generally you have to get a P67 (not H67) board to overclock using the unlocked multipliers on the K series CPUs. There is no real world benefit to overclocking the RAM and risking instability. I can't recommend a specific board as I haven't looked into all of them. OTOH you can blindly buy something like the eVGA P67 FTW. Having at least two true 16x PCIe slots is important if you ever buy a RAID card or something. With non-GPU PCIe cards there are random problems like the second slot running at only 1x with a 16x GPU in the first slot, even if the board can theoretically run them at 16x and 8x. Do some reading on the board though.

If you don't have an SSD, get one! I'd say an Intel 510 120GB. There is no other upgrade you can perform that will improve your daily computer usage so greatly. Make sure you have enough space to install Maya/3DSMax/Adobe/iTunes and other bloatware to the SSD.

I've never even considered any other brand of SSD than Intel. It seems like there is too much BS in the market that gets obsolete too soon; like I don't have the patience or time to review all the HTC <Random word from dictionary> Android phones which don't receive any updates. I'd know enough about the next iPhone before it's even released; I'd know the mod community is thriving; I know I'd be able to customize it to my liking; so it's blindly going to be my next phone. Same thing seems to apply to all the random SSDs being released.

As for the GPU, depends on what resolution and quality YOU are comfortable playing at. I don't play games below native resolution and less than 4xAA/16xAF without vSync. I'll never buy a mid-range GPU again. I'll keep my obsolete high-end GPU until I can afford the next one. Whatever you do, no SLI/Crossfire/6990/590 etc. This is a personal opinion from experience, but I'm never going to back to ATi again. nVidia is consistently better in almost all areas, at least with their high-end GPUs: Games working properly on launch day, quick driver releases and bug fixes, frequent noticeable performance boosts in each driver update, etc.
 

El Diablo

Member
There isn't much of a difference between ATI and nvidia now, in fact I think ATI is actually ahead atm with "the best cards".

Also not sure if you bought it yet but if you do get an SSD and not the one Torch linked, at least make sure it's a Sata 3 one.
 
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