Built for Expansion - recommendations and optimization help!

mlcloud

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Mar 16, 2009
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Western Digital Caviar GP WD7500AACS 750GB 5400 to 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
$69.99
SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
-$30.00 Instant
$309.99
$279.99
Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
$8.99
CZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail l
-$30.00 Instant
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate
$139.99
$109.99
EVGA 132-BL-E758-TR LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$20.00 Mail-in Rebate
$269.99
Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case
Antec CP-850 850W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

-$35.00 Instant
-$50.00 Combo
$364.94
$279.94
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920
Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366 Ready

-$14.00 Instant
-$15.00 Combo
$355.98
$326.98

Total: $1366.86, 1326.86 with rebates, all on newegg.com

I originally started out with a computer around $1100 with an i7 and gigabyte 4870 and x58 mobo with an xclio case and power case, but I decided to try and fork out a few extra hundred's to get some products with some reliability. I was debating between the Asus P6T and the Evga 3way-SLI board, but I decided that the power consumption of the ASUS P6T didn't outweigh its overclocking potential for me (after reading the $200-300 x58 motherboard review)

The requirements I had in mind while assembling this:
1. Capable of upgrades without sacrificing parts. Would 2x 4850x2's scale well enough to be worth the upgrade in the future? If not, should I opt for a different card combination? The Evga board is 3way SLI capable so maybe three 4870's or something... (No, I have nothing against Nvidia cards, recommendations welcome!)

2. Complete air cooling for optimum overclocking. I want to be able overclock everything here without anything going above sixty. I want the i7 to reach 3.6ghz, optimally 3.8ghz, and I wonder if the 4850x2 is reasonable overclockable? If not, what would be an appropriate card for this cooling? Is the PSU an overkill at 850W? What if I crossfired 3 4870 1g's or 2 4850x2's?

3. Monitor bottlenecking? Currently I only have a 19" and 17" monitor, although I will expand to larger monitors soon (looking at a 27.5 inch right now for sub $400) is it worth getting the 4850x2 for such small resolutions? What would be recommended if I were to say I was going to keep these monitors? If I got the 27.5" monitor, what would be reasonable then? What options are there for me if I wanted to use all three monitors? I plan to game intensively on this machine, so keeping that in mind;;;

4. Cost Efficiency . Are all these parts worth the money? I could build a similar system at much lower costs, but what would be the consequence in quality? I want to keep a LOT of leg room for future upgrades and expansions, and the i7 must stay, because I am unreasonable and I like the idea of having the i7 :lol: but in terms of graphics card and motherboard, what could I do? PSU and case? Or do these selections give a good bang for the buck deal?

Basically I guess I just want to optimize this system in terms of costs while being very upgradeable and remaining strong even without the upgrades. My goal is to keep the same machine for 5 years at least, maybe even 6 or 7 with a few upgrades here and there. Once we reach that 4-5 years mark, I won't be so obsessed with maximizing detail and FPS (I'd be reasonable), so I'm not looking to "futureproof" my computer to run the next generations video games at some 60 fps, but just something to reasonably last half a decade. (the Pentium 4 3.0ghz (dual thread) I'm using right now is reaching 6 years. It actually played Bioshock at reasonable frames with just 1.5g ram and a heavily OCed 7600 GS, hahaha! That's the kind of thing I hope to get out of this machine when it begins reaching 5, 6 years! The Pentium 4 has reached its limit though, and I do need to replace it =/)

And this was a really long post... Hopefully I don't chase anyone away >_>.
 

JaredAudiophileGamer

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1. Capable of upgrades without sacrificing parts. Would 2x 4850x2's scale well enough to be worth the upgrade in the future? If not, should I opt for a different card combination? The Evga board is 3way SLI capable so maybe three 4870's or something... (No, I have nothing against Nvidia cards, recommendations welcome!)
Id hold out till next month with the new line up of ati cards and all, also some new phenoms are coming out so i'd wait to see if a little price war starts going possibly.
 

mlcloud

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That's always very sound advice, but I'm scared that if I don't put my foot down somewhere I'll be waiting forever :lol:



1. Sounds good. 7-7-7-24 versus 8-8-8-24, I'll take that for 5 dollars.

2. Black series? Aren't they the same, SATA running at 3.0gb/s and 7200 RPM?
 

Oakley707

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No they aren't the same, the Black series has a 32MB cache, and doesn't change from 5400 RPM to 7200RPM. Also, try to stick to the 640GB version the way the platters are setup it is faster than the 750GB version.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319&Tpk=640 black caviar

Also, the 4850X2 is most definitely overkill for a 19" monitor. These days a 4850 will provide excellent results @ 1920 X 1200 or 24" monitors. You might want to snag a 4850 for now, and simply sell it when you buy your monitor. The resale is still pretty high on the cards right now because of the high performance numbers.

The rest of the build looks good, from what I've read the V8 Coolermaster is a good choice for cooling off the i7.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103055&Tpk=v8 coolermaster
 

mlcloud

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Cool, convinced - Black Series and V8 Coolermaster it is.

The thing is, I definitely don't plan to stay with 19" for much longer, and if I just wanted temporary performance, I'm sure the 4850 would serve me fine even at higher resolutions (it really is an interesting card, isn't it?)... except I'm trying to avoid abandoning any parts while remaining relatively future-proof. From here on out, I just want to add on instead of replacing. I might be unreasonable in demanding six years of excellent performance out of a computer, but this clunky pentium 4 did it with just a few cheap upgrades here and there.

What would be your opinion on getting one 4870 now, and then adding another one crossfire down the line? Is the 4850x2 still an unreasonable purchase considering what I want to get out of the machine? What I'm mainly worried about is that two 4850x2's won't scale very well in 4-way Crossfire, so maybe a 4870 + 1 in the future would be a smarter choice? If I do choose a 4870, whose brand do you recommend?

Ah... so many questions. Lol.
 

Oakley707

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I completely understand where you are coming from. Having said that, I think the 4870 is an excellent option for you at this time. It will absolutely DOMINATE your 19" resolution and quite honestly probably do just fine on your upgraded monitor until later games come out. I think this is definitely the best way to go. If you are looking for 4870's and future proofing please make sure to snag the 1GB version vs the 512MB version because of the higher resolution of your "new" monitor.

I think the one with the best price is the one I have listed below.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102801

For under $200 a 1GB 4870 with almost 400 positive reviews you can't go wrong.

Having said that, I know for a fact that XFX provides the best customer service along with a Double Lifetime Warranty.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150352

I personally would go with the Sapphire one, but it is really a personal decision at that point.

You won't be disappointed with the black series or the V8 cooler.
 

mlcloud

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Awesome, thanks a bunch. I think I've finalized my build and future plans =).

Wondering between--
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102825
Vapor X cooled Sapphire 4870 1GB.

and the sub $200 4870 1GB you mentioned. I'll probably have to do some research to see if the Vapor X model is really worth the thirty extra dollars, but when I'm already spending 1.4k on this machine, I'm thinking that thirty dollars for a potentially cooler system (and potentially cooler xfire in the future!) is a deal no matter what.

Unless there's a GPU cooler you recommend for the 4870, in terms of being adequate for future crossfire cooling?

Edit: Apparently the Vapor X really is a step above the reference cards in terms of heat removal. But now I'm wondering if the 2GB version would be a smarter purchase... boy this world is crazy. Maybe I should sit down and wait for some new releases and price changes.
 

Oakley707

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I hate to keep going back and forth. That is not a bad idea either... The new ATI cards will be released in the beginning of April and will likely be in your price range. If you can wait that long, you may want to wait until these cards come out. I'm glad we at least got the other things iced out. Good luck on your build.