New Ultimate Upgradeable Gaming/Graphics Monster


Jul 17, 2010
New build, gaming and high end visual effects/motion graphics.
All I need to know is if this system has the foundation to be supreme once I have fully installed the extra Radeon and GeForce cards. Will all of these parts work together in harmony to create an ultimate gaming/graphics rig?


BUDGET RANGE: Around $4000. This build is about $4200.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: #1 Gaming, #2 High End Visual Effects, Motion graphics, rendering, animation.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS.



PARTS PREFERENCES: See list below.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but need to learn how. If there is no sufficiently explained guide, I will not attempt it, but the threads here on Tom’s look like a promising place to start learning.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: CrossfireX. Soon I will add two nVidia cards and have SLI also. Soon after I will add two monitors to take advantage of Radeon Eyefinity 3 monitor viewing.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: As high as possible.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Need gaming rig to handle ANY game at top settings with no hiccups, including CRYSIS, Metro 2033, Bioshock 1 & 2, Singularity, Fallout 3, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2, Halflife 3 (or whatever they will call it, Episode 3?)—and any future games. Need it to handle Illustrator, Photoshop, Maya, Cinema 4D, Combustion, After Effects, and Final Cut Pro seamlessly. Need high level of upgradeability. Need low noise and lower temperatures.

Note: If ordered from Newegg, the motherboard and processor are a package deal and I save a couple hundred bucks. Other parts also have miscellaneous rebates and instant savings from there. Other vendors for parts may increase price, but sufficient persuasion that a part change is necessary would be enough to allow some extra costs—so if you see any parts that will jam up the gears of my monster rig, please suggest some better alternatives.

• [Chassis] -- LIAN LI PC-P80 Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case

• [Motherboard] -- GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD9 LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 XL ATX Intel Motherboard

• [Processor] -- Intel Core i7-980X Extreme Edition Gulftown 3.33GHz LGA 1366 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor

• [Graphics Card] -- *DUAL* ASUS ROG MATRIX 5870 P/2DIS/2GD5 Radeon HD 5870 Platinum 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

• [Power Supply] -- ENERMAX Galaxy EVO EGX1250EWT 1250W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Compatible w/Core i7 Modular Active PFC Power Supply

• [Memory] -- CORSAIR DOMINATOR 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMP8GX3M4A1600C8

• [Internal Hard Drive] -- OCZ Agility 2 OCZSSD2-2AGTE120G 2.5" 120GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

• [CD/DVD Burner] -- LG DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model GH24LS50 LightScribe Support

• [Display] -- HP 2509m Black 25" 3ms(GTG) HDMI Widescreen Full HD 1080p LCD Monitor

• [Processor Cooler] -- CORSAIR Cooling Hydro Series CWCH50-1 120mm High Performance CPU Cooler

• [Speakers] -- Creative Labs Inspire T5400 5.1 Surround Sound speakers (Do not need to purchase this item)

• [OS] -- Windows XP for now, as soon as I get the other two monitors for Eyefinity, I will have to upgrade to Windows 7.

$4000 for a build. Would you please mind cutting your budget by 1000 bucks and give it to me for a cheap build of my own! :bounce:

Well lets see....

To start off with i would like a Corsair PSU in my PC any day.

Would just an SSD do? Coz SSD's are generally small in capacity!

Monitor i would select something on an IPS panel, if you really want the images to come alive. Ditch the TN panels.

DVD drive, stick with Sony or Pioneer or Lite-On. They are better. LG has high failure rates!

RAM's should be these, lower CAS:


I have a number of concerns but let me try to list them in priority, most serious first.

- You can't have your cake and eat it too. Programs such as Maya run best with professional drivers, and that means professional hardware such as a Quadro FX 3800
Such a card and drivers will NOT play games well at all. You may be aware of ways to "hack" a gaming card to get it to use professional drivers... this can work and save money but will not resolve the primary issue.

IF your gaming needs are much more important than your 3D effects needs, the best video CARD to use would be the GTX 470. You may use two in SLI for gaming and a single for graphics work. About the best compromise. NVidia handles professional 3D programs better than ATI usually, when we are talking about GAMING CARDS. I hope that's clear.

CrossfireX. Soon I will add two nVidia cards and have SLI also. Soon after I will add two monitors to take advantage of Radeon Eyefinity 3 monitor viewing.
No you won't. They can't live in the same system. You have to choose, either ATI or NVidia.

- The Gigabyte UD9 might be a nice board for certain uses, but it's far from ideal, especially at 700 bucks. This board handles SLI/crossfire best in slots 1 and 3 according to the website. That means a ONE slot separation. That, in turn, means that the air cooled cards will be jammed together, decreasing airflow and increasing noise and heat. Anything beyond two cards is impractical, so get a well-spaced board that costs far less like this:
Or, if the above offends your desire to spend lots of money, maybe you would compromise on this ASUS... SLI is done in slots one and three, making this a good choice:

- If you insist on using an EATX MB get a better case: Corsair 800D
It's an excellent case regardless.

- You have dual channel RAM listed for a triple-channel board. X58 boards use RAM in sets of 3. Spend some money here where it will help your 3D Apps.

-Your SSD choice is very good and reasonable, but you do obviously need a storage drive.

So finally, my recommendation is to scrap this idea. Build two computers, one for gaming and one for graphics. Connect them to the same monitors and input devices using a KVM switch.


Jul 17, 2010
I really appreciate all the input--very useful. Been a long time since I ventured to make my own rig. Just have a few more clarifying questions if you don't mind. Oh and I dont want to spend a lot of money, I simply thought it would be necessary for such a magnificent machine. I am all for getting what I want as cheap as possible. And what I want is to run tons of awesome games and high end video and graphic editing programs.

Proximon, it states on the Gigabyte website that "For optimum performance, if only one PCI Express graphics card is to be installed, be sure to install it in the PCIEX16_1 slot; if you are installing two PCI Express graphics cards, it is recommended that you install them in the PCIEX16_1 and PCIEX16_3 slots. (Note 3) Each PCIEX8 slot shares bandwidth with the corresponding PCIEX16 slot (PCIEX8_1 with PCIEX16_1, PCIEX8_2 with PCIEX16_2, and PCIEX8_3 with PCIEX16_3). When a PCIEX8 slot is populated, its corresponding PCIEX16 slot will operate at up to x8 mode."

I believed that they were mentioning this in order to maximize airflow to each card, but also because the PCIE 8x slot below each PCIE 16x slot shares bandwith, and in order to use 2 cards at 16x you need to be sure not to occupy an 8x slot. Does using 16x slots as opposed to 8x make a noticeable difference, because the Gigabyte Mobo is the only one I have found with 4 PCIE slots that can all run simultaneously at 16x. Every other card says they support 16x, 16x/16x, 16x/16x/8x, or 8x/8x/8x/8x, but never 16x/16x/16x/16x. Does this even matter since the cards would be so close together? Since I so disappointingly cannot use both SLI and CrossfireX in the same system, is nVIDIA or ATI the better choice for games? With a Radeon, I could use Eyefinity and set up 3-6 monitors--does nVIDIA offer more?

Also, as you mention the Quadro is better for 3D programs--could I not get one badass ATI/nVIDIA card to play games and in a different 16x slot I could put the Quadro? Or even 2 game cards (for Crossfire/SLI) and one graphic card? I would rather not build 2 computers and have to use separate mobo's, RAM, etc. You mention that anything over two cards is impractical--forgive my ignorance, but why is that? What is the benefit of having 4 cards then, like some of these mobo's seem to advertise being capable of supporting?

As far as the SSD being reasonable but I still need a storage drive...I was under the impression that the Solid State Drives WERE storage. Am I missing something here? Seems like it. Why would I need a hard drive and a solid state drive? What is the benefit of an SSD over HD?

What's wrong with my case choice? 4 included fans, tons of interior space, easy modding, about the same price as your suggestion but with one more fan. Can you please tell me why your suggestion is better--you obviously know a lot more about this stuff than I do.
For your SLI/CF doubts, i think you should go through this.

After that if you have any questions, let us know.
for nVidia: You need to have two similar cards for an SLI. Like two GTX295 or two 9800GT or whatever. . You cannot have a GTX295 go in with a GTX275.

for ATI: You can have dissimilar cards in CF, but they have to be of the same series. Like you can CF two HD 4870's, a HD4870 with a HD4850, but not a HD 4850 with HD4770. Hope its a bit clear now.

I have no problems with your case. Somehow, i feel 800D is a bit too overpriced.

Get one GTX480 now. And add another sometime later!

The UD7 is a good buy! UD9 is tooo expensive!


You can't mix drivers. It might be possible to have different BIOS configs and different operating systems on the same rig, but that's just a theory I've never tried. In that scenario you might even use 4 cards.

That was why I carefully said "on the same system" :) You cannot have totally different video cards (operating as such) installed at the same time in the same OS. I believe you can use an NVidia card as a PhysX card with ATI video though, but to use newer drivers you have to jump through some hoops:
I'm just using that as an example of problems, I realize you aren't asking for PhysX.

As far as using more than two cards, it's firstly unneeded with modern GPUs. Secondly anything beyond two has rapidly diminishing returns and does nothing for some games.

Let me see if I can find last years Anandtech writeup....
bah site is down.

It's a series of articles Anandtech did on 2, 3, and 4-way SLI, and CF.

Now it's really past my bedtime.


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