System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2009: $2,500 Performance PC

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rubix_1011

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I stopped commenting on anything Crashman replies to simply because he has an issue of always having to control the sandbox. No matter what argument you present, he seems to have an inappropriate and immature response to the poster, usually with a 'nyah, nyah, I do what I want' overtone in his replies. I do believe that at times, he makes good points, but the way in which he interfaces with readers is horrible.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]zelannii[/nom]Toms, thanks for the Data. Lessons learned: 1) x58 MB would have been well worth it for the small price difference2) waiting 1-2 months to upgrade my rig and get the 5970 would be well worth it.3) If you maxed out the wattage running full load at about 600w, using 2 cards wich draw more than the 5970 alone could, then a 700w modular would be fine if one did not intend on buying a second one vid card later. 4) better case cooling is a must. Next time try an Antec nine Hundred or other case with a nice 200mm top side ehaust fan. My current overclocked rig never gets more than a few degrees over room tepm and is dead quiet running some of the fans at low speed and the top and medium. 5) For a full rig at these levels, $2500 is a bit on the low end, but $3K would have been the sweet spot. With minor alterations and 1-2 months waiting I'll end up with a nearly identical performance system for about $2K, and could easily add a 2nd Vid card, more RAM, and a better CPU next year for less than $500 more as a nice upgrade. Personally, I'm looking much closer to $1200-1500 price points, so i can't wait to see what you can do with a small step down, that's also a highly upgradable system. I'd really love to know how a mid range box on a build like that, adding in a nice IPS display panel, would compare to a 27" iMac i7... (yea, the iMac saccrifices the upgrades, and the overclocking, but it seems a DAMNED nice price point for that much power and features, I thus far can't match it's specs on new egg for less if I'm honest and include an OS license for Windows.[/citation]

The case was OK, but most importantly it was the cheapest "OK" case to support graphics cards that long. The original price list was only $5 under the budget limit. The big problem was that around 1/3 of the graphics card exhaust goes out the top vents, inside the case, and that little issue wasn't accounted for in case selection. The case would be fine with any cards that don't have an internal vent...but for the price of upgrading the case fans a switch to the lower-quality, better-ventilated NZXT case of the previous SBM would have been made instead.

As for power, the system would have needed far more power had it been overclocked higher. The overclocking on this particular CPU was a complete flop: Even in open-air the cooler couldn't keep it stable at 4 GHz. Had cooling been sufficient for this ultra-hot (compared to the site's other Lynnfield sampels) processors, power could have easily been pushed by another 100W.
 

masterasia

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I would have picked a different case. Top mount PSU is not good for air flow. I would have rather have 2 SSDs also. But overall, very nice build. They should have chosen Gigabyte's new P55A boards that come with SATA 3 (6gb/s) and USB 3.0
 

zelannii

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SSDs? It's a $2500, and the price point of SSD's is plumeting. Clearly this system has massive performance already. Putting a 5970 in the "notify" queue and waiting a few weeks to catch one in stock would have been well worth it. Saving %40-50 on the PS to drop to a 750 would have covered the difference in a better case, and an upgrade to x58, which would also have played nice with tripple channel RAM. Also, drop the HDDs to 1.5TB drives instead of 2.0s. the 0.5GB won't matter that much and the price difference is big. Anyone who needs more than 1.5TB is a cnadidate for NAS technology, unless you only have 1 PC, and in any case, with that much raw data, it's time to go RAID 5 if you have the space capacity in the case. This also takes the load off you machine having to run media servers and what not, and more importantly lets you power down when idle and streaming those videos to your living room TV, and saving 400w that many hours of the day is a HUGE savings, and would easily cover the cost of the NAS chassis in a yer or two.

A few commented on USB3 mainboards, but why if you have a few eSATA ports already, especially since we won't see USB3 devices of any worth for quite a while and adding a USB3 card in a slot would be a sinch later.

Such a system would have come in closer to $2200, especially if you nitpicked for better deals. Pocket that difference, and in 6 months throw in 2 80GB SDDs for less than $300 and get a nice performance boost. A few months later you could drop in a second 5970 for probably $200-250 and call it a real nice upgrade for next Christmas doubling your graphics performance (though to plan for that, sticking with a 850w or higher PS would be a requirement).

 

zelannii

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[citation][nom]Crashman[/nom]The case was OK, but most importantly it was the cheapest "OK" case to support graphics cards that long. The original price list was only $5 under the budget limit. The big problem was that around 1/3 of the graphics card exhaust goes out the top vents, inside the case, and that little issue wasn't accounted for in case selection. The case would be fine with any cards that don't have an internal vent...but for the price of upgrading the case fans a switch to the lower-quality, better-ventilated NZXT case of the previous SBM would have been made instead.As for power, the system would have needed far more power had it been overclocked higher. The overclocking on this particular CPU was a complete flop: Even in open-air the cooler couldn't keep it stable at 4 GHz. Had cooling been sufficient for this ultra-hot (compared to the site's other Lynnfield sampels) processors, power could have easily been pushed by another 100W.[/citation]

well, since it stayed under 600w anyway, a 750 would STILL have been sufficinet even with 100w more. Also the TFA stated the cooler that they WANTED was not in stock, so they chose an alternate (which turned out inferior). And seriously, another 100w? The vid cards met their overclock max, you're not getting another 100w into that CPU to only go another 400mhz... Switching to liquid cooling might draw that much more power, but that would have easily been a $3000 bidget system, not $2500.

This is not "build the ideal system" this is build a great sub $2500 system... Had they switched to a 5970, and left the 850w supply, they could upgrade in the future to 2 of them easily. We're commenting on what could be adjusted to suit certain categoris while still staying within the confines of the $2500 limits imposed. Adding SDDs would have required a complete saccrifice in other areas that would have made the build slower for a gain simply in level load times (which is irrelevent to framerate and playability).
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]I'm disappointing in you guys Tom's! You totally could have gotten a better build for the same price!Also, definitely no need for $600 worth of HD for only 2tb of storage performing worse than 1 SSD!MOBO- Gigabyte P55A-UD4P $184.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813128409No idea why you guys didn't suggest the board a few bucks more that has USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0...[/citation]Sorry, but that board doesn't support two graphics card, USB 3.0, and SATA 6.0 Gb/s simultaneously. If you install two cards, it disables those controllers. Read the article:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/usb-3.0-performance,2490.html


[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]PSU- Corsair 750TX $109.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139006You guys said in your own review that a 5970 system can totally easily run on a 750W PSU!![/citation]

Sorry banthrasis, but the 850W power supply was picked for its ability to support the CPU and the graphics cards at full overclock levels. It wasn't known until after the system was built that the CPU cooler wouldn't support a full CPU overclock.

[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]GPU- Diamond 5970 $669.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814103088There are also ones for sale outside of newegg, but in the spirit of the build rules, just put on auto notify and you'll bag one w/in a week.[/citation]

No appologies here, the HD 5970 didn't exist when the system was ordered. It would be a great money-saver for a future build however!

[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]RAM- 2x 4gb G Skill Ripjaw DDR3-1600 7-7-7-24 $249.98http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231279Tighter timings, better performance, faster speed and better OCing.[/citation]And far more expensive. Read a few of Tom's Hardware's memory timing articles and find out that it isn't worth it to pay "anything" to go beyond 1600 CAS 8, which the cheap modules did fine.

[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]Optical Drive- LG Black $169.99http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6827136176Storage- Intel X25-M G2 160gb $539.002[/citation] That is a great drive, but Tom's would have picked two 80GB X25-M's for similar money and got even better performance, had the rest of the system not limitted the drive budget to $600 max (including SSD's and mass storage)

[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]Samsung Spinpoint F3 1tb $169.98 Can totally fit a $160 gb G2 into the budget. With 2 Samsung Spinpoint F3's which are about = Velociraptors in performance.Total of 2.16 TB of storage. With a SSD.[/citation]
Yes, those are decent drives for the money. If Tom's would have had the budget for both SSD's and HDD's, it would have probably put in two 80GB SSD's (RAID 0) and two 1TB HDD's (RAID 1) for a total of 1.16TB

[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]HSF- CM Hyper 212 Plus $28.83http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6835103065Cheaper, easier to mount and better performance than the V8. Common guys![/citation]...and totally not available when the system was ordered. What you're presenting isn't a list of what they should have used (not available then), but what they should use now. And those are some great suggestions for anyone who wants to place an order today.
 

banthracis

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Sorry, but that board doesn't support two graphics card, USB 3.0, and SATA 6.0 Gb/s simultaneously. If you install two cards, it disables those controllers.
Which is why I went with the 5970. Same performance once you OC and doesn't run into that issue.

Sorry banthrasis, but the 850W power supply was picked for its ability to support the CPU and the graphics cards at full overclock levels.
Look at their numbers. 560W socket draw and full CPU + GPU load. Think 200W overhead is more than enough. Especially since that 560W is socket draw, not actual usage.

HD 5970 didn't exist when the system was ordered. It would be a great money-saver for a future build however!
Actually, they said in the article they choose not to go with 5970 due to how hard they are to get. 5870's aren't much easier...either way, auto notify and you can get either in ~week.

Read a few of Tom's Hardware's memory timing articles and find out that it isn't worth it to pay "anything" to go beyond 1600 CAS 8, which the cheap modules did fine.
I have read them. However, the point of this build is to spend as close to $2,500 as possible. Not save as much as you can. Those perform better, however marginally, and fit in the budget. Outside marathon rules, I'd totally recommend the new Eco series from G skill.

That is a great drive, but Tom's would have picked two 80GB X25-M's for similar money and got even better performance, had the rest of the system not limitted the drive budget to $600 max
Well Tom's said in the article they thought 80gb was too small, so I acquiesced to their complaint and fit in a 160gb one instead. But yea, I agree 2 80gb's would have been better.

Also, I know this build was made last month, however, last month everything I suggested was available, AND the 5970 and X-25M's were actually cheaper than they are now.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]Which is why I went with the 5970. Same performance once you OC and doesn't run into that issue.Look at their numbers. 560W socket draw and full CPU + GPU load. Think 200W overhead is more than enough. Especially since that 560W is socket draw, not actual usage. Actually, they said in the article they choose not to go with 5970 due to how hard they are to get.[/citation]

The parts were purchased a week before the 5970 launch date...and you really want to feed a 5970 with only eight lanes?

System power consumption on a single card (idle) and single hard drive with that particular processor went from a little over 200W at 3.6 GHz to around 320W at 4.0 GHz at full CPU load, nothing else loaded. The CPU would go farther than that, approaching 400W system load at 4.4 GHz.

You have a real treat coming tomorrow, Don Woligroski built a system with i5-750 that overclocks to 3.6 GHz at LOWER THAN stock voltage!
 

theLaminator

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I'd like to see the price points stay the same, maybe go to a $5,000 dream pc, but after the holidays and Nvidia's dx11 release prices should drop back down within reason
 

KT_WASP

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[citation][nom]Crashman[/nom]You're completely wrong, not just a little wrong, it's like what you're saying is the opposite of the truth. I know some of you kids like plastic panels, lights, air scoops and scallops, but "Transformers" cars and cartoons were targeted at eight-year-olds.[/citation]

LOL.... Voted for the best response of the year... You made it just under the wire ;)

I won't knock people for their case choices, after all, they have to look at it. But,I will say that some of the new cases coming out are a bit far fetched in their designs. Being of the older crowd, I would rather have a nice refined, nondescript black case over some of these absurd "Frankenstein" cases out there.

I bought a lighted monstrosity once.. and after a month I had to get rid of it. Sure, it looked good at first.. but once the novelty wears off you realize how childish and goofy some of these cases can be.

I would rather have a beast of a computer wrapped inside a downplayed case, then a mediocre computer inside of a "look at me" case. I would liken it to a sleek BMW with 550 HP to a stock Honda Accord with a six foot wing on the back.
 

banthracis

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well
The problem, of course, is price--two Radeon HD 5870s are an awesome performance combination, but similar performance can be had for much less money in the dual-GPU Radeon HD 5970. The Radeon HD 5970 does require overclocking to exactly match a pair of Radeon HD 5870s, but both the single- and dual-GPU cards have similar overclocking limits imposed through card BIOS. Our only excuse was availability, but anyone who has tried to purchase ATI’s most recent graphics technology will likely tell you that this is a darned good excuse.
Not sure what the actual story here is, but earlier they say they weren't in stock yet, but in the conclusion they admitted there they could have gotten 5970, but chose not to.

Power wise I'm looking at their own numbers in the article. Based on that, even with a full OC they wouldn't have gotten close to 750W. Bear in mind the stock system was only 471 W total system power at full CPU + GPU load. 300W of room for OCing.

I've currently got an i5 system w/ xfire 5850's, with i5 OC'ed to 4.0 ghz using the CM Hyper 212. Admittedly I haven't bothered OC'ing the 5850's, but power wise they're about the same as a 5970. 10w less at load.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5970,2474-15.html

I run all this fine using a 750 =D

Also, with only 1 card installed, the MOBO runs at full X16 lanes.

Per manufacture's own product page.
http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/Motherboard/Products_Spec.aspx?ClassValue=Motherboard&ProductID=3238&ProductName=GA-P55A-UD4P

Also looking forward tomorrows system! I wanna know what setting Don used to get that i5 to 3.6 at lower than stock. Mine ended up using a ton of power to OC. I got mine as high as 4.3, but it was at some pretty ridiculous voltages.
 

coldmast

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I kinda saw the cooling problem when the two 5970s and the overclocked i7 860 thrown into a budget case.

Perhaps 2x 1TB WD Caviar Black HDDs would have been more economical and allowed for an SSD as well.

Excellent choice on the Power Supply, but does it really supply adequate power at "full" load (can we see some numbers?).

Also how is all that extra case heat going to affect the ram, which doesn't have any heat-spreaders/sinks, in the long run life of this desktop computer.
 

terr281

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I have to agree with the trend that, despite current graphics cards showing that they have a difficult time over-taxing the 8x/8x of the LGA 1156 MBs, any system over 2k$ should have been on the X58 chipset. It would have cost more, yes.

But, for a system of this price, and with the current generation of games, I would have opted for 2 5850s in Crossfire on a MB capable of 3x Crossfire as an upgrade in the future. And, yes, the i7-920 is an older processor, but that could be resolved with an upgrade late next year when the 6 physical cores are released. (And drop in price in a bit.)

Lastly, I would stick with the 850w minimum PSU for a system at this price. Why? Again, future upgrades. Any PSU bought new should be able to survive a "minor refit"... then a "new system" imho.

With the use of the 5850s, your case selection in the sub $100 dollar range would have opened up as well. (Allowing the use of a Antec 900... or even 300 Illusion from Newegg, etc. with a top/rear mounted exhaust fan, and an extra 120 mm intake fan blowing onto the video cards from the side panel.)

Disk space, mentioned by others, I would have resolved with a 4 x 1 GB WD Caviar Black in a Raid 1+0. Speed and redundancy. (And, the i7 920 providing CPU cycles to handle it.)

In the end, though...to each their own, I just believe any system meant for gaming and for anything other than "light gaming NOW" use should be upgradable for a year or two.
 

Crashman

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[citation][nom]banthracis[/nom]with only 1 card installed, the MOBO runs at full X16 lanes. Per manufacture's own product page. http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Product [...] -P55A-UD4P[/citation]You'll have to take that error up with the manufacturer. Like I said, please read the article:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/usb-3.0-performance,2490.html

The USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0 Gb/s controller steal pathways away from the upper graphics slot. You can have either sixteen lanes and no new controllers, or eight lanes with the new controllers, not both. So, with a 5970 you have to disable those controllers to get 16 lanes. With two 5870s the two controllers are automatically disabled. With the P55A-UD4P you pay for controllers you don't use...and Tom's had a lot of experience with the P55-UD4P even handing it an award that motherboards don't get often.
 

coldmast

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I kinda saw the cooling problem when the two 5970s and the overclocked i7 860 thrown into a budget case.

Perhaps 2x 1TB WD Caviar Black HDDs would have been more economical and allowed for an SSD as well.

Excellent choice on the Power Supply, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the full load still having ample power reserved.

Also how is all that extra case heat going to affect the ram, which doesn't have any heat-spreaders/sinks, in the long run life of this desktop computer.
 

coldmast

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shoot, I commented too soon; wow I can believe there's still lots of overhead on the power supply, and it's 80-plus gold certified too ;)
 

doron

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[citation][nom]Crashman[/nom]It's a nice case and has two intake fans. With the power supply, it also has two exaust fans. I can't understand why people keep getting those crappy huge cases with vents that serve no other purpose than to let noise out.[/citation]

Because then ambient temp won't be as high as here.
 
G

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Should the next marathon include a dream system at twice the price?
How many people would really be able to purchase that kind of machine? I'd say stick with what gives value

Should we instead adjust every system budget by a smaller amount to align with recent price increases?
Nah, you're doing fine about it

Should we stick to gaming or general-purpose power machines, rather than trying to create the best of both worlds?
In my mind, you should stick to gaming machines. Why? The "best graphics card/cpu for the money" monthly article states why.

Also, you should probably keep a more pragmatic mind about it. New and shiny (also expensive) doesn't always mean better. As stated by some other before me, a core i7 920 could've made a better job. Unless you are doing some benchmarks of how would this build would work against a similarly priced one using different parts I find this month's 'expensive' build to be quite dissapointing.
 

banthracis

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[citation][nom]Crashman[/nom]You'll have to take that error up with the manufacturer. Like I said, please read the article:http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,2490.htmlThe USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0 Gb/s controller steal pathways away from the upper graphics slot. You can have either sixteen lanes and no new controllers, or eight lanes with the new controllers, not both. [/citation]


Well from the article

At two-thirds of the price of its Asus rival, Gigabyte’s P55A-UD4P cuts costs by using the processor’s PCIe 2.0 connections to host its high-bandwidth controllers. Two of the primary graphics card’s 16 PCIe lanes supply its USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0 Gb/s controllers, and Gigabyte disables six more lanes to make the upper slot an effective x8 interface. The USB 3.0 and SATA 6.0 Gb/s controllers revert to the chipset’s 2.5 GT/s lanes whenever two graphics cards are installed, to preserve the x8 transfers each graphics card needs for optimal CrossFire or SLI performance.
The article talk about the upper slot specifically being limited to x8 in the case of 1 GPU. However, it doesn't mention about the other slot. Is it possible it still steals the 2 lanes and can run 1 gpu at x14 if it's in the second slot?? Dunno, Tom's or manufacturer is gonna have to clear this up.
 

arges86

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Cool build.

I Think it would be neat to see a System Builder based on specific performance goals (ie the high end system achieving a certain frame rate in Crysis, or a certain score in a synthetic benchmark).
I think that would give you more room to play with, and let the readers see what it takes to have a purpose built machine.
 
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