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System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby ReiToei on Tue Dec 27, 2011 1:49 pm

POSTED ON THE WOW SIDE HERE IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE/SHARE FEEDBACK OVER THERE

Hey there! So I'm thinking about building a whole new box in the next couple months and wanted to get some feedback from the system builders in the crowd. My level of expertise in this area is pretty low, relatively speaking. I've built two other PCs, one in my last job (prolly 5-6 years ago) and the one I play on at home now (3 years ago), but in both cases I had a sysadmin nearby to ask stuff. I plan to do this one at home by myself.

My goals in this build are 1) Power, 2) More Power, 3) Flexibility, 4) Good air cooling. I kind of feel like I took a less-than-optimal route with the LGA 775 platform in my last build, but the i-series processors were still just too expensive. So while I think this platform will be better for component upgrades in the future, I'm also hoping that it's powerful enough to have a longer useful life than my current build.

Here's the build in Newegg WishList form.

The only thing you'll notice missing is a storage drive; I've got a spare 1TB WD drive sitting around that I'll use. Which brings me to a couple questions I've got for the experienced builders:

    1. In my experience, Windows really wants everything to be on the boot drive; how easy and reliable is it to keep all applications on a second drive? Is it seamless, or are there apps that demand to be on the OS volume?

    2. What's the best way to get my existing data onto the new machine? I guess I could conceivably reinstall everything, but that'd be kind of a PITA and I wonder if there's an easier way (having never done it with Windows before). I have some work things like VPN setup, testing apps and the like that I'd really rather just move.

    3. Does that modular PSU come with all the cables I'll need to power everything, including all the case fans? What if I wanted to buy a couple more fans as well?

    4. I'm mainly getting that case because if its reputation and the fact that it appears large enough to accommodate the giant CPU cooler and the giant video card... It is the one component I'm most open to suggestion on, though - anyone have any other favorite cases?

    5. All the comments on this Mobo talk about how easy it makes overclocking... Is OC'ing really that easy, and do you think I need to bother with it? If I DON'T need to OC, should I not bother with the unlocked CPU? (Prior to my writing this, the locked CPU was a little cheaper than unlocked, but right now they're the same price.)

Any feedback is welcome... Like I said, I'm a little ways off from actually doing this (I'll pay off my Christmas presents first), so I'll revisit the list when I actually place the order, but wanted the thoughts of some experienced people first.

Cheers, and thanks!
Rei
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby SKoss on Tue Dec 27, 2011 5:52 pm

I regularlly build machines for friends so, I have a good amount of experience doing this sort of thing.

So I have a ton of comments to make regarding your build and it needs to be considered in light of what you are trying to do long term.

Q1: How long do you go between builds, do you make changes every couple of years, or do you hold a machine for about 5-6 years between changes.

Q2: What do you play besides TOR, perhaps WoW or other MMO's. Do you play a lot of FPS?

Q3: What is your goal with this machine, do you want to fastest coolest machine capable of showing off for friends or are you just looking for something to get you by and enjoy playing.

Now for my personal opinion and build style. I personally run an Intel i7 box, and chose to do so because I was able to get a great deal on the chip. I however, for gamers typicaly recommend AMD boxes for 2 reasons. First, they are a hell of a lot cheaper to build, AMD is very good about maintaining its socket size for the longer period (with Intel you are never going to upgrade the box without all new components other than a Graphics card). So without having answers to your questions here are my opinions.

1. Cool master cases are wonderful it is primarly what I recommend, I love the HAF 932 it is a fantastic box..its huge. . .the scout will save you $75.00 and works great unless you absolutely plan to have 2 crossfired cards.

2. I personally love ASUS motherboards. This one is a good board, a bit pricy and make sure you need everything on the board, but you will be pleased with it.

3. Obviously the chipset and MB are tied together along with the RAM, personally, I would suggest the AMD 970 Phenom X4 or even the X^ if you want that. Realize that most games including TOR is not optimized to run quad cores. You will likely be only hitting on 2 of your processors anyway, and you will tax your RAM and graphics card more than anything else. Personally, I think your choice is fine, but you are overspending and will not see any gaming increase. Better to get the X4 970 with an AM3+ motherboard and get a second card if you are so inclined.

4. On the Powersupply, if you stay with the intel chip go up to a 1000W power supply, not becuase it is absoultely necessary, but why get tight if you plan to add a second graphics card. If you go to AMD, 850 W is fine.

5. 16GB rRAM. . .perfect you can never have too much RAM. But I will tell you that you will rarely if ever hit more than 10 of it. Also make sure you bios is updated, as ASUS had a bit of an issue running to 16GB Ram on a few of thier MB early this year, but it was fixed with the Bios update.

6. SSD...they are cool, they work fine, they are stupid expensive and are rarely the throughput bottlenexk in a rig. Personally with the price of drives as high as they are at right now. . .I would just get a 1TB WD with 6.0 GB cache and call it a day and save $150.00

7. Windows 7 Home is fine, but if you want pro. . .no issue there.

8. Finally the Graphics card. Go to Tom's Hardware and look at their reviews on cards. Personally, I think a HD 6870for $200 will do you just fine and you iwll have no issues with everything maxed out in TOR even on a 24 inch screen at 1080p. But, if you are fixated on huge power a HD 6950 with 2GB of RAM will work too. and 2 of them in crossfire. . .wll be nuts. You can also look at the EVGA GTX 560 Fermi which is probably around $250 and save yourself some cash there too.

Hope this helps
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby SKoss on Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:01 pm

To answer your specific questions.

1. In my experience, Windows really wants everything to be on the boot drive; how easy and reliable is it to keep all applications on a second drive? Is it seamless, or are there apps that demand to be on the OS volume?

No issues with apps on the C: and data on another drive, you can even configure it in a raid format if you want to backup data, but that is your call

2. What's the best way to get my existing data onto the new machine? I guess I could conceivably reinstall everything, but that'd be kind of a PITA and I wonder if there's an easier way (having never done it with Windows before). I have some work things like VPN setup, testing apps and the like that I'd really rather just move.

Reinstall apps is the only effective way without a bunch of headaches especially if you are moving from XP or Vista to Win7. As far as data. .. use a portable USB drive that will cost you $100 for a 200GB and is nice to have around or a USB thumb drive.

3. Does that modular PSU come with all the cables I'll need to power everything, including all the case fans? What if I wanted to buy a couple more fans as well?

Decent name brand power supplies will come with all the cables you need as long as you dont have 2 DVD's 2 bluerays, a media panel and a crap load of other things to hookup. Also be care the HAF932 has long runs due to the size of the box, but you should still be fine.

4. I'm mainly getting that case because if its reputation and the fact that it appears large enough to accommodate the giant CPU cooler and the giant video card... It is the one component I'm most open to suggestion on, though - anyone have any other favorite cases?

Size only matters here if you are getting two video cards and need lots of air flow, otherwise the Scout case might serve you just fine and save money.

5. All the comments on this Mobo talk about how easy it makes overclocking... Is OC'ing really that easy, and do you think I need to bother with it? If I DON'T need to OC, should I not bother with the unlocked CPU? (Prior to my writing this, the locked CPU was a little cheaper than unlocked, but right now they're the same price.)[/list]

Don't OC, it will wreck havoc if yoiu have issues trying to fix the problem and it only takes one evening of problem solving to convicne you its not worth it.

Any feedback is welcome... Like I said, I'm a little ways off from actually doing this (I'll pay off my Christmas presents first), so I'll revisit the list when I actually place the order, but wanted the thoughts of some experienced people first.

Cheers, and thanks!
Rei[/quote]
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby ReiToei on Tue Dec 27, 2011 6:22 pm

Cool - thanks for the feedback, Koss; Ceno had some good feedback on the WoW side (the top link in my post) and seems to agree with you about AMD. As you can see in that thread, I historically prefer, but I'll look at the AMD configurations you mention.

One observation: Tom's Hardware did an analysis of SWTOR's system performance and their conclusion was that while it runs alright on a dual core, it does actually benefit from a quad-core chip. My current dual-core 2.7 GHz Wolfdale isn't helping any more than my Radeon 4870. :)

To answer your questions, my current build is almost 3 years old. I'd like this one to last longer, which is why I'm kind of taking it to eleven without much regard to cost.

I use the machine's muscle for games (my work use of it wouldn't tax a P4 with on-board video ;) ) - mostly MMOs, but also some FPSs, and other things like SC2 and Diablo 3. I run a 24" display at 1920x1200.

My goal for this build is for it to be overpowered for current games so I can continue to use it for a while without having to upgrade anything, and also for it to run as cool and efficiently as possible (while still using air cooling because liquid is more than I want to deal with).

Thanks again for your thoughts!
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby SKoss on Wed Dec 28, 2011 12:00 pm

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/star-wars-gaming-tests-review,3087-8.html

Above is a link to the Tom's Hardware sight that looked at CPU's for TOR.

They used Max Detail, ASA, 4X, 1920x1200 using a Radeon HD 6970.

In Summary:

i5 Sandy Bridge @ 3.7Ghz generates 79.3fps and is $219.00 on newegg.
AMD Phenom II X4 970 @ 3.5Ghz generates 73.5fps and is $139.00 on newegg.

I would suggest that the Intel total package might run an additional $150-180 more when the CPU and MB are combined. In eaither case, they did not show the i7 CPU's as they are overkill. So your savings compared to what you had on your wishlist should be dramatic.
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby ReiToei on Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:53 pm

Well, the Radeon 7970s are up at NewEgg and they're just a little too spendy for my taste right now. An additional $200 for a brand new card when the one on my list is overpowered enough doesn't seem justifiable. (I did switch from HIS to Sapphire for the 6970, though.)

So I ordered the wishlist as updated. Wahoo!

Hopefully I get the parts by Friday so I have a 3-day weekend to put it together and start playing with it. :D
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby SKoss on Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:42 pm

Rei so now you deserve a bit of grief. .. all that coin and a very nice build and you put in a DVD burner and not a blu-ray burner. . .oh the shame. . . :lol:
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Re: System Builders: Advice wanted!

Postby ReiToei on Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:58 pm

SKoss wrote:Rei so now you deserve a bit of grief. .. all that coin and a very nice build and you put in a DVD burner and not a blu-ray burner. . .oh the shame. . . :lol:


Hahaha - I actually had a BDB in there originally. When I started to trim the fat I just thought: "when the hell am I even going to put a Blu-Ray in there, let alone burn one?" So I backed off and went with the negligibly-priced DVD drive.

I play BDs on a PS3 and stream HD from a MacPro server to a MacMini attached to my receiver... So putting Blu-Ray technology in the PC was just unnecessary.

But thanks for keeping me humble. :P
Reitoei: 50 Sorcerer | Rei-Toei: 50 Mercenary | Reiz: 13 Juggernaut | Rei'd: 7 IA
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