Mar 31, 2009

I'm pretty new to home-built computers, and I'm trying to replace a system that recently died. I'd like to put together a gaming rig for relatively small monitors (1600 x 1200 or anything I can get in 19"). Processing speed and forward compatibility is a plus.

I can salvage some things from my old rig:

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD4000KS 400GB 7200 RPM SATA
Microsoft Windows XP Professional With SP2
Sony floppy (not sure if mobo's support these anymore)
Plextor CD burner
Plextor DVD burner

I guess booting off the old HD is out of the question since I won't have the right drivers on there or anything (I was running on an MSI AMD mobo), I'd actually just be happy enough getting stuff off the old HD.

The parts I'm looking at for the new system are:

ASUS P6T LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard
Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366
OCZ Flex EX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB 512-bit (256-bit x 2) GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP
PC Power & Cooling S75QB 750W ATX12V / EPS12V

... add to that some kind of cooler for the CPU.

I realize that I'll only see 3Gig of my 4Gig memory running WinXP, but I'm thinking I'll upgrade to a 64 bit version of Vista/Win7 at some point (unless this breaks all my old 32bit games). I also might one day buy a second graphics card (you never know).

So, does this seem like a wise choice? The total comes to around $1K which is about what I can afford.




Dec 24, 2008
If you think you will run 2 4850x2's in your system, you should get a Corsair 850tx PSU, I think the 750w PCP&C will be under a lot of strain with that kinda of GPU load.

Try to get a triple channel memory kit, in a set of three, that kit you selected is for dual channel. Something like this:

I'm betting your CD and DVD drives are you will probably need one of these to make them work with your new system as you will run out of IDE slots on new mobo's, most only come with one, if any IDE slots.

Try to fit vista 64 bit in there if you can so you can really take advantage of your memory and the i7 bandwidth, otherwise it kinda seems like a waste to me. You will only see 2gb of ram after you install that GPU...

Now on the GPU, if you will only use a 19" monitor, then the 4850x2 is way overkill, a single 4850 or perhaps 4870 if you play very demanding games will suffice. If you will upgrade to a larger 22 or 24"monitor with higher resolution in a few months then you might be able to justify a 4850x2.
You do not want to get that RAM. Standard issue for an i7 build is 3 x 2 gigs. Also I would look into getting an after market heatsink seeing how those i7's cpu's can run a bit hot. btw, that heatsink down below comes with MX-2 thermal compound. It's non conductive and no set up time. $94.99 Free Shipping*
G.SKILL 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail $265.99 Free Ground Shipping
Intel Core i7 Processor i7-920 2.66GHz 8MB LGA1366 CPU, OEM $32.64
Arctic Cooling Freezer XTREMERev 2 CPU Fan

Also here is something to think about. If you get a gtx 285 which is a low power using card now, you can run one later on in SLI with that PSU you have. One of those cards is almost on par with the 4820 x2, and two of them in SLI will eat it up and spit it out. $339.99 ($309.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate)
GIGABYTE GV-N285-1GH-B GeForce GTX 285 1GB 512-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail <=== gtx 285 review and benchmarks vs gtx 295, 4870 x2, etc...

+1 for the Vista 64. Also you must have been posting at the same time I were quicker on the reply button. :p
i7 uses a triple channel memory controller. You can use 3 x1 or 3 x2 gb of RAM .

I agree its a good idea to wait for Windows 7 . Vista just isnt that good , and is a lot slower than XP is and W7 will be .

You may be able to recover your drive and boot from it , but b4 you try connect it to another computer and use that to copy essential files to another , maybe external , hard drive .

Once you have the new comp together run a repair install of XP.

I'd do that with minimal hardware . If it doesnt need to be connected then dont connect it .

After that XP will not update thanks to microsofts programming brilliance till you do this

After that run the mb driver disc , windows update and the gfx card driver disc .

Then you should have your old system up and running on the new hardware


Mar 31, 2009
Thanks for all the great responses!

Okay, I'm thinking I should refine my build a bit. I'm a bit worried about price.

My monitor will probably be a 19" 1680x1050

I looked at the AnandTech performance review here, and it looks like at 1680x1050 the price performer would be a single 4850X2. That's in the $200-$250 range. I'm not keen on breaking $300 which is where the NVidia cards are going (except for the GTX 260, but that doesn't seem to perform as well).

So if I'm looking at running WinXP for the time being, with a single 4850X2 and I want a lot of compute, what would be a reasonable choice? The P6T and I7 look like a tempting combination price wise (about $520).

According to Asus' docs here, the memory I listed above should work in all supported configurations. I'm only buying 4Gig since WinXP can't use more than that. These have a reassuringly low latency as well, but the price is high compared to the G.SKILL you listed (about 3x as much for the same capacity). Maybe when I'm ready to go with a 64bit OS the price will drop.

Or is it better to use 3x1gig configuration if I'm sticking with 32bit OS' for the time being? These OCZ sticks are tempting:
OCZ Platinum 3GB (3 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ... OCZ3P1600LV3GK

Outlander_04, thanks for the info on reusing an existing install. That will save me quite a lot of time if it works out.

Thanks again for all the help! Any more feedback would be greatly appreciated,



Mar 31, 2009
Woops, my math is bad. If I'm thinking of a 6Gig configuration later on, then I probably just want 3x1gig now, and I can add 3x1gig later on. On the other hand, if I get 3x2gig now, I can upgrade to a 12Gig configuration later.

How much does CAS timing actually matter? Should I try very hard to get 7-7-7-20 instead of 9-9-9-20 DDR3-1600? Does the faster RAM have to run a lot hotter (I don't want to deal with liquid cooling)?

My understanding is that the total address space of 4gig is taken up by 3gig system ram and 1gig device address space. So a 2gig graphics card is a total waste under a 32bit O/S and a 1gig graphics card would still be pretty questionable.

I'm also wondering if I will run into performance issues sticking with a 32bit O/S if I go with a 1Gig graphics card.

So I guess those are the 2 choices I'm thinking about: 32bit windows, 3x1gig ram, or 64bit windows 3x2gig ram. Either one with a sing 8450X2.

Is the 64bit option a clear winner?


Mar 31, 2009
Sorry to keep responding to my own thread, but now I'm having second-second thoughts. Is the I7 really worth it? I'm wondering if I'd be happier with one of the intel dual core setups. I'm not sure where to begin with that (the I7 certainly limits configuration options).

My goal really is to be able to run games smoothly and to get by with WinXP(32) if possible. I probably won't do much if any OC'ing (at least until all the warranties have run out).