Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

G.Skill recommends 1.6v to run at 1600. They're pretty good at helping out with specific questions on their forums.

garion333 wrote:
G.Skill recommends 1.6v to run at 1600. They're pretty good at helping out with specific questions on their forums.

Thanks Garion, that is 'zactly what the doctor ordered.

Edwin (or anybody), have you had any problems with the Crucial RAM on your P55 board? The reviews on Newegg are mostly saying that these modules cause frequent reboots on a P55 board, but I'm tempted to notch those reviews up to user error.

If Tom's saw fit to recommend it for a P55 and the Crucial website says its compatible, is there something a majority of users might be doing wrong?

Personally, I'd trust warnings that are that specific. When you have multiple posters saying that this specific RAM doesn't work in a particular board, and they all agree, I'd say the RAM probably doesn't work in that board.

I'd suggest perusing the Qualified Memory List(warning: PDF) for your specific board. I see lots of different kinds of RAM on it, including Corsair, which is my favorite Tier 2 vendor. Both my personal server and workstation are presently running Corsair.

I like Corsair, too. Might be safer to just go with their set, but if Crucial is T1 and Corsair T2, does that make a serious difference?

Problem is, that particular model is listed on their QML. But some more digging has brought us to this article.
Would it just be a lottery then, when you order from Newegg? And if I got the wrong set, would Crucial send me the right set if they didn't work?

but if Crucial is T1 and Corsair T2, does that make a serious difference?

It all depends on the testing. Corsair buys memory chips in large lots from the the three or four T1 manufacturers, and then assembles them into actual DIMMs. If they're willing to reject (and eat the cost of) a high enough percentage of what comes in the back door, then the RAM going out the front door can be just as good or better than the T1 vendors. I tend to assume that the T1 guys will cherry-pick the best stuff for themselves, but Crucial certainly seem to have screwed something up this time.

If I were you, I'd go ahead and buy the Corsair. That's what I'm running in my personal systems. You KNOW that many of the Crucial chips don't work, so buying those strikes me as just asking for trouble.

(I feel like I've said this before.) I tend to only ever buy Mushkin, even if I have to pay a bit more. Part of it is that they're located in the same state I'm in, but also because the quality control they have is pretty damn impeccable. Of the 20 or so sticks I've bought from them I've only had one stick that had issues and the rma process was a breeze. I sent it to them, they took it out, tested it and sent me a new one. I think it took a week total.

Muskin is tier 2. My point is that a good company still puts out good product regardless of the tier.

Malor wrote:
If I were you, I'd go ahead and buy the Corsair. That's what I'm running in my personal systems. You KNOW that many of the Crucial chips don't work, so buying those strikes me as just asking for trouble.

Yeah, you're right.
Looks like there are a spread of different 4GB options with Corsair as well, though only one is on the QML for the Gigabyte board (fwiw):
XMS3 1600 - $93.99
XMS3 DHX 1600 - $119.99 (1333 version is on the QML)
XMS3 1333 - $114.99
and standard Corsair 1333 - $99.99

I'd probably go with the $93.99 chips as they're 1600 and the reviews are positive for the chipset.

The $93.99 chips are specced for 1.65v, where the $99.99 slower ones are rated for 1.5v. I'm not sure which of the two is the default for i5/i7 offhand. You might have to set your BIOS to run it at 1.65v if it doesn't do that automatically.

Other than that, it should be fine.

Does anyone have any thoughts on USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s? I've noticed that Gigabyte's new "P55A" boards feature both of these, but they seem very early-adopter at this point -- I can't actually find any devices for either yet. The P55A boards aren't much more expensive than Gigabyte's existing P55 range, so I'm guessing it might be worth the extra just for the potential future-proofing, but are there any gotchas that I should know about?

Most tests that I have read have shown that SATA drives don't go above current SATA speeds.

6-gig SATA will probably be handy in a year or so for the next generation of SSDs, but mechanical hard drives won't really need it. You get occasional improvement when reading stuff that fits within the cache memory on the drive, but the platters themselves can't even saturate the current 3-gig speed. SSDs, however, should easily be able to.

USB3 is likely to be quite good, but it'll need new cables, and USB3 devices are likely to be fairly expensive at first. It's 4.8Gbps, and has extra signaling overhead, so realistically it'll be maybe as fast as current SATA 3gig, but that's still a vast improvement over USB2. Assuming that the USB3 spec is finalized, and that these ports will work with the later devices (I haven't checked), it might put off the need for a later upgrade fairly substantially.

Hey All,
So largely due to listening to GWJ I've decided to make the leap from being solely a console gamer to a being a bonafide PC gamer (Dragon Age 360 was also a deciding factor here - can't wait to try it with mouse and keyboard like it was intended.) The only sticking point is I need to build my first ever PC prior to doing so (yep I've always been a Mac guy as well.) My questions for the group are the following

I've been basing my build off of Ars Technica's budget box guide as I can't drop a whole lot of money on this venture initially. However Black Friday over this past weekend allowed me to save a bunch of money on components (and even move a step or two up in some cases) leaving me with a bit extra I can spend on core components (MOBO, CPU, and Graphics Card.)

My main question is with a bit more money to spend where should I put it. Based on things I've been reading it sounds like the graphics card is likely to be where I'll see the biggest performance boost but I'm unclear as to whether a Radeon 5850 or 5870 would run well with my planned MOBO/CPU combo (see list below for my originally planned spec list including what I've already purchased.) On the other hand, would I be better off going with an slightly more expensive Intel mother board and a core i5 processor while sticking with the Radeon 4870 graphics card I had originally intended to get? Or am I better off just going with what I already had spec'd out and saving the $150.00-$200.00 for some other frivolous expenditure.

Thanks in advance for your help

This is what I purchased over Black Friday:

Case : COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

Power Supply : COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-500-PCAR-A3 500W ATX12V V2.3 Power Supply (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

Hard Drive : Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

Monitor : Acer P235Hbmid Black 23" 5ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

the rest of my planned spec (I haven't purchased any of this yet):

MOBO: Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

CPU:AMD Athlon II X4 630 Retail (Socket AM3) (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

Graphics:Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1gb (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...)

as well as 4gb 1333 DDR3 RAM, a DVD Drive, Mouse, Keyboard, etc...

Hmm, at that resolution, I think you'd be happiest putting the money into a video card, instead of CPU. The 5850 should be fine. It's a little bandwidth-constrained, so you may not be able to crank up the FSAA all the way on that 1920x1080 screen, but it should be great otherwise, able to take very high settings on almost anything. A 5870 would let you go hog wild with FSAA, and would drive multiple monitors or a 30" screen, but it's very expensive.

You may not, however, be able to find either one before Christmas. They're in very short supply right now. ATI/AMD is just kicking the crap out of NVidia in this generation, and everyone knows it.

The 4870 would work okay at 1920x1080, but you might have some trouble with very high settings on the more advanced 3D engines. It's about half as fast as the 5870.

Oh, I just noticed: that's a slightly oddball screen. It's 16:9 instead of the more normal 16:10. (it's 1920x1080 instead of 1920x1200.) It'll be a little better for movies, but inferior for computer gaming; you won't have access to 1600x1200 resolution for older games that didn't know about widescreen.

I also just noticed: you're gonna have to be a little careful with that power supply. It has two rails, so you won't be able to use high-end video cards. Each of the 12v rails provides 18A, so you absolutely can't use a video card that exceeds 216 watts. The 5850, at 150 watts, will work comfortably; the 5870, at 188, is pushing it awful close. Power supplies lose some power over time, and that's not a known-good brand, so you probably don't want to crowd it that much. Crossfire and SLI are very unlikely to work.

Were it me, I'd return the power supply, and I'd think about doing so with the monitor, depending on what it cost.

RE: Malor

Thanks for the advice. I also wasn't too certain about the monitor and PSU. The deals were too good to pass up however - the PSU came in at $16.99 with the new egg sale price and a manufacturer rebate and the monitor was $139.99. Both of them had a significant number of four and five egg reviews, which is what made me take the leap on them. I think I'll try to track down a 5850 which based on your advice sounds like I should be able to manage quite well with this PSU but may have to swap it out sometime down the line if I want to upgrade (at the price I think I can probably manage it if I decide to drop some money on upgrades in the future.) The monitor does concern me a bit more. You mentioned not being able to access 1600X1200 as a resolution option. Will that mean that I won't be able to play any games that fall into that pre-widescreen criteria or will I just have to suffer some scaling artifacts. If that is the case I may consider returning it.

RE: Malor

I was just doing a bit more research into the PSU and I'm now thinking your "return it" advice may be a good idea. I'm not certain however (this is my PC building neophyte side speaking.) I was checking the power requirements for both the 5850 and the 4870 and found this

"500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX technology in dual mode)" for both."

Looking at the PSU I purchased it indicates only 1 6-PIN PCI connector. Am I correct in my thinking that this power supply will not function for either of those chipsets.

I did note that the Radeon 5750, and 5770 cards (from XFX) require only a single 6 pin connector and have lower wattage requirements (450watt supply according to the manufacturer.) Anybody have any thoughts on these cards. The reviews out there are pretty mixed but mostly fall on the side of it being a good starting chipset which I would be okay with.

Thanks
Mark

You won't, as far as I know, be able to set 1600x1200, period. Nearly any game that supports that will support 1280x1024, though, and your monitor should scale it up. It'll look okay.

For those prices, I'd probably keep them too.

Ratings don't always tell the whole story, especially with power supplies and gaming. The 12v+ rail is super important to push graphics cards as Malor mentioned.

If you do plan on going AMD I personally wouldn't get that processor. I'd rather get a X3 720 BE or X2 550 BE. See this. They may not be quad cores, but they provide better gaming results.

headleym wrote:
RE: Malor
"500 Watt or greater power supply with two 75W 6-pin PCI Express power connectors recommended (600 Watt and four 6-pin connectors for ATI CrossFireX technology in dual mode)" for both."

Looking at the PSU I purchased it indicates only 1 6-PIN PCI connector. Am I correct in my thinking that this power supply will not function for either of those chipsets.

Thanks
Mark

You can get an adaptor to change one of the molex (hd power) connectors to connect to the the graphics card. Depending on the setup of the PSU that could mean you are drawing power from both 12v rails. I don't know enough about circuit design to know if that would double the voltage load or split it though.

Ah, Fry's how i love thee...

They had a one day sale on Saturday. I picked up an AOC 21.5" widescreen 1080p monitor for $100.

As a matter of fact, I'm using its lusciousness right now. Ah, sweet 1080p!

The components I just purchased for my new rig:
1 COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - $139.98
1 ASUS P7P55D EVO LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$186.99
1 EVGA 01G-P3-1180-AR GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - Retail
$369.99
1 COOLER MASTER Silent Pro RS850-AMBAJ3-US 850W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active ... - Retail
$149.99
1 Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail
$199.99
1 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail
$124.99
1 Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives -Bare Drive
$109.99
1 Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 28" 3ms Widescreen HDMI LCD Monitor - Retail
$299.99
1 SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model SH-S222L LightScribe Support - OEM
$31.99
1 CORSAIR Cooling Hydro Series CWCH50-1 120mm High Performance CPU Cooler - Retail
$77.89
1 Logitech G500 10 Buttons Dual-mode Scroll Wheel USB Wired Laser Gaming Mouse - Retail
$56.99
1 Creative Fatal1ty Gaming USB Headset - Smaller Box
$34.99
Keyboard - the only thing that I already have...

Whoa, 28" monitor. That'll be huge.

Just out of curiosity, why the GTX 285?

I've always been a Nvidia guy and I didn't feel like dropping the extra $200 on the 295. I was happy to get the 28" because I'll be sitting back in a recliner about 3' away from the screen.

Just as a note.. be careful getting Video Cards these days... it used to be that the majority of manufactures had lifetime warranty's now its the minority. AFAIK the ONLY ATI manufacture offering lifetime warranty's is XFX.

Some of them are really bad...like 1 year only... if you plan on keeping the card for 2-3 years (which is a real possibility these days) make sure to double check the warranty before clicking that buy button at newegg.com

Thanks for the help guys. I'm going to RMA my CoolerMaster PSU in favor of a more established 600W OCZ unit with 2 PCIe connectors and 25a off of the 12v rails. I figured it wasn't worth the risk just to save $20-$30. I am however going to keep the monitor the set of features it has is too good a deal to pass up on for the price.

Also I've decided to go with the Radeon 4870 over the 5850 primarily to save a bit more money and also I don't think I can stand to wait until the supply channel on the 5800 models increases.

Other than that I'm still trying to decide between the 3 core vs. 4 core AMD CPUs as per garion333's comment above. The spec's seem pretty straight forward but I can't help but feel that within a year to 2 years, which is probably my upgrade timeline, greater usage of all 4 cores will become a more regular occurrence.

Thanks again - the help is definitely appreciated

You might find this recent article at Tom's Hardware about AMD cpus and gaming helpful.

If you can find one you like, a single-rail supply is usually better. 2 25A rails is probably enough for most uses, but 1 50A rail is better, because you can just plug anything in anywhere, and it will work, no questions asked.

Malor wrote:
If you can find one you like, a single-rail supply is usually better. 2 25A rails is probably enough for most uses, but 1 50A rail is better, because you can just plug anything in anywhere, and it will work, no questions asked.

A huge "This" to..well..this. It has been The sticking point among some local hardware forums I've asked around regarding my build (which is on hold due to budget constraints). They all insist that I really don't need a US$120, 700W, single 12V 50A rail PSU with rubber gaskets.

But, by goly, I've gotten sick of worrying over power requirements or sticking in a new piece of hardware, especially GPUs, and then getting paranoid over each weird issue I face for the next few weeks.

With this, I'm sure that my system can still support the next gen of GPUs that come out within the next 2 years. Maybe without an option for SLI, but that's not really important so far.

Big props to Malor for drilling in the fact that while it's easy to focus on the holy trinity of PC components, the PSU is something you really don't want to skim on as well.

On the CPU front

It's interesting how convoluted this can become. garion333 I read the article you linked (great read by the way I learned a lot in general) as well as this article
Does your CPU need an L3 Cache

From what I can gather the L3 cache associated with the Phenom II chips increases performance a bit (more in some places than others) but overall is a fairly minor gain over the Athlon II lacking the L3 cache particularly at the clock speeds I'll be running (it may change later but currently I'm not planning on overclocking.) The main benefit from the Phenom x3 720 appears to be due to the L3 cache and as such only rears its head in a few situations (notably Left 4 Dead anybody know if valve specifically optimized for L3 cache usage.)

My gut feeling at the moment is to go with the Athlon II x4 630 and hope down the line as multi-threading gets more sophisticated I'll see some performance gains, and if not the current performances are close enough I won't really be losing out. Definitely thanks for the advice I learned a huge amount by researching this aspect.

Okay, so I may be having a bit of an issue with my new build. I bought a case with a 140mm fan, but my CPU cooler is a water cooled unit (CORSAIR Cooling Hydro Series CWCH50-1 120mm High Performance CPU Cooler). I didn't realize that the CPU cooler needs to hook up to the case fan. Does anyone have any ideas on adapters?