Jun 1, 2008

I figured it is time to upgrade from my 4 year old P4 with a whopping 1 gig of ram to something that can actually load a web page and found the wonderful Builder Marathon articles here. I am new to this as this is the first build AND the first time I am going to attempt an over clock. I will be building this system within the next 2-3 weeks, most likely starting to order parts in the next few days. I thought the 1300 machine featured in this month’s article would be a good starting point although I will not be going for a micro tower as the system does not need to be small. (I don’t really see how that is more portable anyway, I can lug a 3ft unit just the same as a 1.5 ft unit) I will be using this system primarily for gaming (mostly FPS and a little RTS) as well as a home theater system if I can get it to work properly. I like to store all my media on removable HDD's and archive the hardware. The OS will start with XP 64 as I have a copy of that already and will likely be upgrading to win 7 when the system comes out and is stable. I already own the mouse/keyboard and I already have two monitors for it but will be upgrading in the future as they are not all that great. I would like to hook up a third monitor (my TV) but that is not necessary as it will not be in use in tandem with the two monitors. Just simpler if I do not need to swap out cables. I am attempting to stay in the same budget ($1300) but would definitely like to cut cost if there is room for it without a major performance hit. Here are the components that I have and why I have them or any questions I have for each (mostly shamelessly stolen from the article :D )

Motherboard - obviously changed because I am not looking for a micro tower
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4 LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard $260
This here I have no clue about but read some suggestions for it in other forums. I have been reading Toms for a few months now and spent countless hours reading about motherboards and have no idea how to pick one. Maybe I am just dense, but it seems that there is no rhyme or reason in the naming or marketing of this particular component like there is with chips. I did not notice a difference form the UD5 except 2 more SATA slots and there are 8 anyway so I cannot see using more than that

Processor -
Intel Core i7-920
Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz 4x256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA1366 130W Quad-Core $280
This is another hard component for me as there seems to be a lot of talk for AMD and a dual core will almost certainly fit my needs better than the i7 but I chose it because, as you can tell from my old system, I am unlikely to do any serious upgrading for 3-5 years and newer games will utilize all four cores much more effectively. This is also some of the reasoning I am going for an i7 over the Phenom II. It seems that while not the absolute winner for most bang for the buck it will be the better performer and will be more of a cost effective solution considering the time I will be using it.

Memory - Slightly different as the timing are a little better and g skill went up to 100 bucks
Mushkin 3GB (3 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Triple Channel $77
There were no reviews on this product yet on Newegg and that makes me weary but I believe they are a trusted brand.

Video Card -
BFG Tech BFGEGTX260896OCE GeForce GTX 260 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP $340
I am wondering if this is a good choice. Everything I have read says there are diminishing returns in a dual card setup and it may be better to go with a single card solution. This is most likely the area I am looking for the most input on because it is the largest factor in performance and another area that is not a simple pro vs. con like the processor. Newegg shows 2 single units that are comparable price -
GeForce GTX 285 XXX 1GB 512-bit GDDR3
100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR5
coming in at a little more. Does anyone think this may be a better alternative, particularly if I can drop another one in after a year or so.

HDD $70
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache

DVD Drive $28
HP lightscribe DVD 22/6

Case - again different because I am not going the mini rout $40
RAIDMAX Tornado ATX-238WU Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
I was thinking of going with the 300 instead as that seems to be the preferred case here but I like the look of this one and it has 3 fans so....

PSU - different one as the one used in the builder was no longer available $110
PC Power & Cooling S75CF 750W EPS12V SLI NVIDIA SLI Certified (Dual 8800 GTX and below) CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS
Fairly cheap but it did not look like a bad deal. I don’t know much about power supplies except not to buy the bargain ones.

Cooler $63
COOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler
Expensive but I don’t think I like the cooler they choose.

Total: $1270

That about sums it up. Any/All suggestions are greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for the advice and remember the last time I was in the market for a computer, 1500 bucks did not even get you 2 gigs of ram.
Here are few changes you can consider...

CPU + Mobo

CASE - Stick with the Antec 300


Good CPU cooler alternatives...they would perform as good or better than the V8 for less...

RAM - 1600MHz + CAS 7 + 6GB for $100

And as for the graphics card, 2 GTX 260 would easily beat the GTX 285 no doubt...
But get the core 216 version...

But like you said 2 card there are diminishing returns but still if the price is same, then I dont think it holds valid...
And when new cards come out, they would be more efficient than even those single powerful cards...
And you can add one more GTX 260 later in tri-SLI, which would perform incredibly well...But you would have to have atleast 850W PSU for that...


Feb 9, 2009
If you get an antec 300 with a dual GPU setup it might be worth getting some more fans for it because 3 fans (inc CPU heatsink fan) for over 300w of heat dissipation is not the best idea.


Jun 1, 2008
@ gkay09

Thank you for the suggestions. I was wondering why you picked the components that you did however. The motherboards look mostly the same with the new one minus a PCI slot and 2 rear USB ports. The combo shaves 40 bucks off the purchase price which is nice. I was just wondering if that was any real difference between the boards other than price.

I did not really understand the comparison chart that you posted as it seems there is some missing data in the specs of these three. I am assuming that the first one on the list (the MSI) is the one I should be picking up but it is missing the shader clock and below info. This is just an omission as they all should have the same info here right?

As to the coolers, the Sunbeam CR-CCTF looked good but does not seem to match the socket so the Scythe looks to be a good choice for me.

Is the antec 300 really THAT good :( I was looking at all those flashy cases but I really don’t need any eye candy cases, the amazing looking games should be getting all the attention :)

Sorry for all the questions, as I said I am fairly new at this. It takes a lot for me to make such a large purchase.

Anyone else have any suggestions?
@ fa_q2
1. The reason why I chose that mobo is because of 2 reasons...
- It is one of the most commonly used mobo by the reviewers and has very good features...And the Gigabyte UD4P is overpriced at newegg...Try that at they have very good price....
- The combo is surely a very good deal...

2. Which comparison chart are you talking about ?

3. All those coolers are compatible with the LGA 1366...

4. The 300 has got enough space for the GTX 260 SLI and has very good build quality and nice airflow...


Jun 1, 2008
Sorry for the late reply but my laptop blew up and I no longer have an internet connection. Missed the motherboard combo you posted and now I don’t know what model you posted.
To #2
The link you posted brings me to three graphics cards and I was looking at them to see what one I was going to get. I was referring to the bottom of the charts which are missing some info (like shader clock speed). I was going to buy the GIGABYTE version but it does not say if it supports SLI. I assume that it does because the other two do and it is a similar model but wanted to make sure before I put the 360 bucks down for it. I could not find anything on the net for it yet.

Thanks for all the info and if there are no more suggestions from anyone I will be purchasing many of the parts tomorrow.
@fa_q2 The model that I had posted was the ASUS P6T...

But there is a new favourite though -
ASUS Rampage II GENE LGA 1366 Intel X58 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard ROG series extreme gaming motherboard at Micro ATX size
Reason -,2302.html

But even that UD4P is a good choice...

For the info missing, they are all the same...So the shader clock speed would also be similar...
The major differences that I see are
1. Overclock
2. Warranty

I hope you see this post before you order. :) That case you have chosen is a tight fit for dual 260's. This case down below gives you plenty of room to work with not to mention it has great cooling/air flow. The heat sink in this build is very good, and cheaper than the over priced (IMO) CM V8. 6 gigs is the standard, especially seeing how you don't upgrade that often and this GSKILL is solid memory. The best thing about this build is the new D0 stepping i7 920 cpu. It runs much cooler than the older C0 stepping i7 which means lower temps = longer cpu life. I threw in the Corsair seeing how it was the same price as the PC & P psu yet it has free shipping atm so it saves you a few dollars. Also if you google "ewiz coupons" you can take a few more dollars off that mother board....which is a steal at that price. $69.99
COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $109.99 ($99.99 after $10.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $219.99 | $204.99 after rebate
GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD4P Core i7/ Intel X58/ DDR3/ CorssFireX & 3-Way SLI/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard" $280
Intel Core i7 920 2.66GHz LGA 1366 Socket 8MB Cache CPU, 4.8GT/Sec, Soket LGA 1366 D0 stepping $39.99
XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail $4.99
Tuniq TX-2 Cooling Thermal Compound - Retail $94.99 Free Shipping*
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail $74.99 Free Shipping*
Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM $22.99
LG Black 22X (CAV) DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X (CAV) DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD±R DVD Burner - OEM $179.99 ($159.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
PNY VCGGTX260CXPB GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail $179.99 ($159.99 after $20.00 Mail-In Rebate) Free Shipping*
PNY VCGGTX260CXPB GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB 448-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

tOTAL: $1,277.90 | $1,212.90 w/mail in rebates <--- Save yourself some money on an o/s until March 2010 and dl the 64 bit version of Windows 7 <--- more pics, specs, and customer reviews of that Gigabyte UD4P mobo used in this build <---short review on that D0 stepping i7. It runs cooler than the older C0 stepping i7's <--- that's one way you can tell if you have a D0 stepping cpu or not


Jun 1, 2008
Yes I did see your post before I went and bought much. I already got the ram that is in the post by gkay, essentially same info as the ones posted above but crossair instead but I have not purchased the rest. Thanks for the post on the D0 however, I had completely forgotten about the stepping versions although I had read a lot about it earlier. For 10 bucks more I do not see how I can go wrong with picking it instead of new egg’s processor.
I was thinking about picking up thermal compound until I heard that there is some already on the processor! Is it better to clean off the thermal strips that come with the processor and put aftermarket compound on it or should the original be sufficient? All the reviews I have read to date seem to suggest using what already comes on the processor.
It looks like I will be sticking with the antec 300 case however. I like the 900 much better but it is a LOT more.
For the info missing, they are all the same...So the shader clock speed would also be similar...
Good, I was a bit worried because the BFG version did not have the same rear ports (missing the s video) as the other two so I thought that there may have been some other issues (as I mentioned SLI was not shown as supported on the card I was looking at)
Picked up the Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 as the cooler. The larger heat sink and the quieter operation looked like a good option.
Case and video cards are the only majors I have left. Putting those in tomarrow.
The required connectors that are not present on cards, can be got using adaptors...
But it is correct that you checked for them...
And all the cards are SLI enabled though they have not explicitly given there as that is a chip specific feature and not like the connectors...

And if you had noticed, the CCTF comes with the required thermal grease and it is better if you remove the factory one and apply that...


Jun 1, 2008
I had noticed the grease but did not know that it was better than the strips already applied on the chip. Everything is now ordered. I will let you know how it all turns out when I have it assembled. Thanks for all the help and info. It is really appreciated.


Ok here it is the bottom line with No sugar coating! I have a Tpower x58 with a i7 920 OCd @ 3.5Ghz (1.02-1.3 vcore) 100% stable 24/7 with muskin DDR3 1333 @ 1336mhz 6-6-6-18 1T (1.6v) with 2x 9800GT's factory OCd @700/1800/1750mhz Zalman cooled @42-52c in a Antec Skeleton open air case with Swiftech Ultima water cooling on the CPU @ 32-55c Prime95 100% all 8 cores tested. running in windows 7 RC X64 100% stable! with NO know issues in any software or games. This rig beats all my other rigs such as my P45/E8500@3.8ghz/GTX260 OC Edition Rig hands down in all games and bench marks. and yes 2x9800GT's in SLI beat out the GTX260 and use the same about of power and make alot less heat and are about 4 inches shorter making alot more room inside your case. If you are going to get an i7 and going to overclock it which I highly recommend, then NO air cooler on the market will do, I know Ive tried them all and for the money the Swiftech Ultima is your best bet even if you are a noob to water cooling. my temps with a Zalman 9500 which is a super cooler for any C2D but not the i7 where between 40c-90c @ 100% Prime95 within a matter of seconds! due to the fact that even though this is a 130w CPU at 100% load that is the factory 133mhz- 166mhz after that 167mhz and up this baby uses as much as 152 watts! and that with a 1.3v+ V core makes for alot of Heat that the best Air cooler can not handle. thus my choice to go water and the best investment I have made to date to protect my PC and to allow me safe OCing. Also do not forget that the memory controller is built in the i7 CPU which means you should not run the memory voltage higher than 1.65v or it will cause CPU damage, best to run it around 1.6 or lower if possible based on your memory and your timings. as you can see I get my DDR3 1333 to do 1336mhz at 6-6-6-18 1T with only 1.6v 100% memtest and Prime95 stable with zero BSOD. those are the lowest timings of any DDR3 on the market and are factory rated for the Muskin ram I use. I can even get higher OC even with the DDR3 1333 memory I have had it up over 4.4Ghz with the memory multiplier lowered to keep it within its operating range and still keep my low Lat timings amd was stable with temps no higher than the 70c's with is still under the max 100c. but until I need such power say another 5 years or so I keep my moddest OC @ 3.5Ghz. also note that my personal favorite for cooling compound is Arctic cooling MX-2 which never drys out and is non-conductive and works as good as any I have used on Air or Water cooling.