Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

well, I think I'm about to bite on this deal as well as purchase a vid card from a goodjer (made my decision easier since it's cheaper)

I will of course be gaming with the machine, but I'll also be working in photoshop, and sketchup (3D modeling) and processing raw images from my camera, so.

Anyone have any input / warnings on the combo?

Intel Core i5 750
GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2
G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) (F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL) (thinking of upgrading to 8GB -any comments on that?)
Seagate Barracuda LP 1.5TB 5900RPM (ST31500541AS) - Will function as my secondary file hard drive, primary hard drive is a 7200.11 in my current computer with a currently empty 100GB partition
Rosewill Green Series 700W (RG700-S12) - It's a Single 12V Rail, so even though it's not the best of brands, and it's overkill, I'll take it. Plus I have a Rosewill that's been going strong in my current PC for about 2.5yrs now so they can't be all that bad.
NZXT LEXA S Series Black Steel Mid ATX Tower Case (LEXS-001BK) - eh, was gonna get an antec 200, this'll do, though.
Total: $551.99
Also, I'll add a copy of Win7 64-bit OEM.

I've already got optical drives laying around, and the main HDD as mentioned above, and will put in a used this]XFX ATi Radeon 4870 [/url] (thanks, Karmajay).

Is it better to buy the OEM (win 7)?

karmajay wrote:

Is it better to buy the OEM (win 7)?

If you like to save money, then yes. There's no difference otherwise, really.

@mrtomaytohead that deal looks good enough to me, with your caveats you mentioned (like not using that hard drive as your primary).

garion333 wrote:
karmajay wrote:

Is it better to buy the OEM (win 7)?

If you like to save money, then yes. There's no difference otherwise, really.

@mrtomaytohead that deal looks good enough to me, with your caveats you mentioned (like not using that hard drive as your primary).

Yeah, I've got a 500GB Seagate 7200.11 (2 platters) that will become my primary for the machine. I'm gonna go w/ 8GB RAM, too.

Gray screen vertical lines freeze! It only happened once while I was downloading a game in Steam. Hope it doesn't happen again. This is apparently a problem a few people are having with the HD 57XX and 58XX cards.

karmajay wrote:

Is it better to buy the OEM (win 7)?

Some reviews say that if you change the hardware around later, it may require you to call MS to reactivate the PC. Supposedly the retail box one doesn't make you do this.

I had that last night, bluish/grey vertical bars just appeared suddenly while I was reading an article. Steam was trying to download borderlands in the background... Hmm. Did you see anything about a cause or a fix Panda?

I'm using the 5770 and I've got the latest drivers, which I loaded up just half a day before Malor posted his ominous warning.

DanyBoy wrote:

I had that last night, bluish/grey vertical bars just appeared suddenly while I was reading an article. Steam was trying to download borderlands in the background... Hmm. Did you see anything about a cause or a fix Panda?

I'm using the 5770 and I've got the latest drivers, which I loaded up just half a day before Malor posted his ominous warning.

I've read a number of things. Installing the drivers without the HDMI audio driver, changing the voltage of the graphics card, reseating the graphics card, reseating the HSF on the graphics card, running the graphics card fan at 30%, and others.

People have reported the issue on a number of manufacturers over the past few months. Saphire, XFX, and mine was an HSI. Some threads point towards an issue that the manufacturers have admitted to off the record, but not publicly. Many of those people seem to have issues even with replacement cards even when their cards work fine in another persons PC. Some report issues after playing a game for a few minutes, I had it while the PC was pretty much idling, but downloading an update in Steam.

I get my copy of Win7 tomorrow and I'll install all the up to date drivers, etc. It has only happened to me once, although I left the PC running last night downloading in Steam and this morning I had a black screen. Pressing buttons on the keyboard and mouse didn't bring it up, but it's possible it was on standby somehow.

PandaEskimo wrote:
DanyBoy wrote:

I had that last night, bluish/grey vertical bars just appeared suddenly while I was reading an article. Steam was trying to download borderlands in the background... Hmm. Did you see anything about a cause or a fix Panda?

I'm using the 5770 and I've got the latest drivers, which I loaded up just half a day before Malor posted his ominous warning.

I've read a number of things. Installing the drivers without the HDMI audio driver, changing the voltage of the graphics card, reseating the graphics card, reseating the HSF on the graphics card, running the graphics card fan at 30%, and others.

People have reported the issue on a number of manufacturers over the past few months. Saphire, XFX, and mine was an HSI. Some threads point towards an issue that the manufacturers have admitted to off the record, but not publicly. Many of those people seem to have issues even with replacement cards even when their cards work fine in another persons PC. Some report issues after playing a game for a few minutes, I had it while the PC was pretty much idling, but downloading an update in Steam.

I get my copy of Win7 tomorrow and I'll install all the up to date drivers, etc. It has only happened to me once, although I left the PC running last night downloading in Steam and this morning I had a black screen. Pressing buttons on the keyboard and mouse didn't bring it up, but it's possible it was on standby somehow.

It's mentioned as a known issue in the 10.1 release notes. I'm assuming there will be a hotfix out for it before too long.

Thanks. Maybe it's a "You should be doing something else" feature.

I finally got all my parts, and put everything together earlier today. Win 7 HP 64-bit is running smoothly.
I did have the 4870 installed in my old desktop, but in the new machine it's idling ~20 degrees cooler. Hooray!
I haven't tried playing bluray movies yet. Does windows support that out of the box? Any suggestions there would be appreciated.

Once you do use the BD-ROM, let us know how the noise is..

Ok all my parts are here. I've decided to it would be easier to keep my hard drive with all my stuff as a secondary drive. Can I still play my games off of that drive? Like Steam games? How will the registry work, etc? Thanks!

karmajay wrote:

Ok all my parts are here. I've decided to it would be easier to keep my hard drive with all my stuff as a secondary drive. Can I still play my games off of that drive? Like Steam games? How will the registry work, etc? Thanks!

Will be no problem, just install Steam and point it to the right folder. I actually think you don't need to install steam, but I like to. Most other games will need to be installed again.

And remember, anything with various DRM schemes that needs to de-authenticate has to be uninstalled before you strip the existing PC down.

Ok, up and running, copying STEAM files now. Unfortunately I believe I lost all mt firefox bookmarks though

Time for a new build and I have some Motherboard questions.

Here are my proposed components so far:

Antec 902 mid-tower case
Intel Core i7-920
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB Video Card
Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB Hard Drive
Corsair 650w power supply
MS Windows 7 Home Premium for system buiders

Motherboards are where I am really have trouble catching up with today's technology. First off, I was a bit surprised at how expensive the new Core i7 motherboards are. Second, I am having trouble deciding what chipset I should be looking for. I am very much interested in advice from Malor and the rest of you who stay on top of this stuff.

I think the new H55 chips aren't really necessary as I don't need a graphics solution? That leaves P55 and X58 chipsets. It looks like the X58 is really geared towards the Core i7, but it also seems to be more expensive. Can anybody explain in a sentence or two (or point me to a good article) the difference between these two chipsets. I am also wondering about the new USB3.0 and SATA 6gb/s? Should I only look for boards that provide these solutions or are they years away from being widely implemented?

In any case, I believe the G.Skill memory I selected above will only work with the X58. I was thinking along the lines of the GIGABYTE GA-X58A, but my oh my do I cringe at spending $200 for a motherboard. The last few systems I've built, I've spent under $100 for motherboards. I just don't use all the bells and whistles that the enthusiast boards provide but I can't seem to find a cheap X58 board from ASUS or Gigabyte. The P55 boards are definitely cheaper.

EDIT: Upon further review, it looks like the i7-920 requires that I use a X58 board so perhaps most of my previous questions are mute. Should I consider the i7-860 and a P55 board? I'm so confused.

I'm looking for a low cost PC to play the new Battlefield Bad Company 2 and was looking at Ars Technica's budget box. It's based around the following with Windows 7:

AMD Athlon II X4 630 Retail (Socket AM3) ($101)
Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P ($75)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MB ($99)

Any thoughts about this combo? Better alternatives in the same price range? I don't do a lot of PC gaming anymore and don't want to spend a lot of cash if I can avoid it.

Copingsaw wrote:

EDIT: Upon further review, it looks like the i7-920 requires that I use a X58 board so perhaps most of my previous questions are mute. Should I consider the i7-860 and a P55 board? I'm so confused.

I'm not terribly helpful in terms of your motherboard questions, but why the i7 instead of the i5? The i5 game just as well.

Funkenpants wrote:

I'm looking for a low cost PC to play the new Battlefield Bad Company 2 and was looking at Ars Technica's budget box. It's based around the following with Windows 7:

AMD Athlon II X4 630 Retail (Socket AM3) ($101)
Gigabyte GA-MA770T-UD3P ($75)
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MB ($99)

Any thoughts about this combo? Better alternatives in the same price range? I don't do a lot of PC gaming anymore and don't want to spend a lot of cash if I can avoid it.

For gaming purposes only, the 550 BE is still a better option. It's slightly cheaper too. As the Ars article mentions, "If your applications prefer clock speed to more cores, the dual-core Phenom II X2 550 is a few bucks cheaper and is clocked faster (3.1GHz)." This is true of gaming. Only some games utilize more cores (Far Cry 2), but from benchmarks, the 550 still out performs the 630.

Oh, and being a Black Edition with unlocked multiplier, it's the simplest overclocking in the entire world. You could bump it to 3.2 ghz without seeing pretty much any real increase in cpu temps. As I've said earlier in the thread, if you go this route, I can walk you through the overclocking. It's super simple.

Edit: Otherwise, that's a good budget build.

garion333 wrote:

For gaming purposes only, the 550 BE is still a better option. It's slightly cheaper too.

I was thinking about the dual cores but was wondering whether over the next 3-4 years whether we might see more games or software that take advantage of the extra cores (I don't know anything about cores or software, so I'm in the dark about evaluating the two against eachother). Outside gaming, the computer would be used for the usual stuff like internet, streaming video, and digital photography.

New build is running great so far (my ATi card came with a 9.11 driver disk so I'm sticking with that for the moment).

Ran ME2 like a dream last night, 1680, zero stuttering

I'm not an expert, but I think the i7 860 and i7 920 are very similar except that the 860 uses the more common slot which means you can get a cheaper motherboard. I'm not sure about upgrading in the future though.

As Garion said, the i5 750 is very similar to the i7's and doesn't have the integrated graphics chip. It doesn't have triple channel ram support or USB 3.0 support either. Depending on where you want to go, the i5 750 and i7 860 can be similarly priced. I would check if you have a local Microcenter since their deals on those three processors are better than Newegg depending on which you go with and taxes.

Funkenpants wrote:
garion333 wrote:

For gaming purposes only, the 550 BE is still a better option. It's slightly cheaper too.

I was thinking about the dual cores but was wondering whether over the next 3-4 years whether we might see more games or software that take advantage of the extra cores (I don't know anything about cores or software, so I'm in the dark about evaluating the two against eachother). Outside gaming, the computer would be used for the usual stuff like internet, streaming video, and digital photography.

We will, though it remains to be seen just how much that actually happens. The problem to me is that the 620 and 630 are limited architecturally. If you look at the Far Cry 2 scores, which utilizes multiple cores, the 550 still slightly edges it out.

If you are concerned with future proofing, then you may be best just getting the 630. I myself went with the middle route and picked up a X3 720 BE (3 cores with good overclocking). Personally I'm not too thrilled with the 630 simply based on it's stripped down architecture, but it's a personal choice. I don't think you'd be wrong to choose the 630, but my personal preference in that price range is the 550 BE.

All the things you mentioned outside of gaming, there's really not going to be much difference with either two or four cores except with the digital photography. You might want to read over this article where Anadtech reviewed the 620 and 630. One caveat though. At the time they recommended the 620, but since then the price on the 630 has come down, so it makes more sense now than the 620.

Thanks for the feedback so far. I think I am ruling out the i7-920 (I'm not an extreme gamer so don't need the high-powered mb) and am researching the i5. It seems that, while the i7-860 is fater than the i5-750, perhaps not enough to justify an extra $75 or so.

Does anybody have any thoughts on the importance of USB 3.0 and Sata 6gb/s. Can I blow those off or will I regret it down the road?

I was thinking about the dual cores but was wondering whether over the next 3-4 years whether we might see more games or software that take advantage of the extra cores

Probably. As garion says, the 550 will run your existing games faster. However, since your stated game is BF2, as far as I know, your big limit there isn't CPU, but rather video card. I don't think you'll see any noticeable difference between the 550 and the 630 for that game, and the 630 potentially gives you more legs for later on. There's no doubt that the 550 will run current game code faster, but if you're choked at the video card anyway, it just ends up waiting more times per second. Going tri- or quad-core means it waits a little more slowly, but then offers more muscle for games that can take advantage of its architecture.

Cope: I just did a long involved post on i7 versus i5, but I'll be damned if I can find it now. Very short form: i7 has more bandwidth, so you can plug in a lot more PCIe stuff, and you can do serious number-crunching faster. Applications where you need to shovel in a crapload of data, massage it, and output a crapload of data are faster on i7 than practically anything else. (typical uses: video compression/movie editing, or analysis of multi-gigabyte data sets.)

For gaming, i5 is actually often faster. It has less memory bandwidth, only enough to run three cores flat-out, and can only drive 16 total PCIe lanes quickly... it can do them as 1 x16 or 2x8, no other options. Any additional PCIe lanes are attached to a much slower bus. However, it has an internal overclock that's much more aggressive than i7's, so when you're running games that use only 1 or 2 cores, it clocks itself up much higher.

Games are usually computation-intensive on limited datasets, and are usually single- or at most dual-threaded, so clockspeed is a really dominant force there, as long as you're not constrained by your graphic card. The aggressive i5 internal overclock ends up trumping the i7's other advantages. Its weaknesses, not being able to run all four cores flat-out, and not being able to use more than two PCIe cards at full speed, typically don't matter much for gaming.

You'd probably only want i7 if you wanted to put a LOT of RAM in the computer (for virtualization or analysis), or if you wanted to run more PCIe devices, like hardware RAID or specialized sound adapters or high-speed network cards.

Does anybody have any thoughts on the importance of USB 3.0 and Sata 6gb/s. Can I blow those off or will I regret it down the road?

USB 3 will be a big deal, eventually, but it's going to take some time yet. You should be able to add a full-speed USB3 controller to an i7 machine, but if you go i5 now, you may not have the slot free later. SATA6 will only matter with solid state drives; mechanical drives can't even truly saturate SATA3, and that doesn't look likely to change soon.

My guess is that USB3 will be start being important in about 18 more months, maybe two years. SATA6's importance to you will be essentially nil until you buy a solid state drive.

Thanks Malor, very informative! Working up a new component list and will post soon just to make sure I'm not making a stupid mistake.

karmajay wrote:

Ok, up and running, copying STEAM files now. Unfortunately I believe I lost all mt firefox bookmarks though :(

That's why I swear by Xmarks. Apparently Weave does the same thing, and more, but I haven't tested it properly yet. I have fully synced bookmarks on my laptop and desktop, and any reinstall is a slight speedbump.

Malor wrote:

There's no doubt that the 550 will run current game code faster, but if you're choked at the video card anyway, it just ends up waiting more times per second.

What level video card would end the choking? Should I be going with a better video card with a quad core processor?

Funkenpants wrote:
Malor wrote:

There's no doubt that the 550 will run current game code faster, but if you're choked at the video card anyway, it just ends up waiting more times per second.

What level video card would end the choking? Should I be going with a better video card with a quad core processor?

How much money are we talking about and what resolution are you planning on playing games at. The 630 and 4850 is a decent balance, though if you're playing at 1920x1200, the 4850 might be a bit underpowered as it's only 512mb.

garion333 wrote:

How much money are we talking about and what resolution are you planning on playing games at. The 630 and 4850 is a decent balance, though if you're playing at 1920x1200, the 4850 might be a bit underpowered as it's only 512mb.

The 4850 is around $90-$100. The 4870 is around $160. I can justify the extra $60, I think, if it's a better match.