System Builder Marathon: The $5,000 Extreme PC

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jcknouse

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I went and priced out parts...and I could only get to $4650, and that was with 2 24" monitors, 1350va UPS, dual 256GB MLC SSDs, dual 150GB WD velociraptors, 8GB DDR3-1600, 8x BD Burner, 1200W PS, etc etc etc.

I admire you guys for not only the article now, but how you managed to spend $5000!!!

Dang man...i gotta go look at your spec list again and see what costs so much lol
 

jadedgamerx

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$5k would be a down payment on a 3rd gen BMW M3. I can live with playing games at 1680x1050 on high details without AA or AF. I would definitely like to build a monster system some day if I ever fell into a pile of benjamins though. Then again, knowing my spending I would probably buy a custom turbo setup and dyno time for the M3 I used the first $5k of extra cash I had laying around ;)

Lotta Muscle Car guys on here... I have no idea what I would ever need 383/400/bigger cubic inches of motor for... the way I set things up (normally boosted) that would not be streetable at all. Not with DOT legal tires anyway.
 

Pei-chen

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[citation][nom]jcknouse[/nom]Nice article.Question for the writing staff:Have you thought about taking all your review statistics, and assembling an "uber system" based on the best parts based on what you have found in your review tests?Just curious…..[/citation]
What so you think you have just read?


Thomas, do you have a theory as to why the 920 is drawing so much more current vs. the 965? Both chips are running at similar speed, similar voltage so why is one so much more power hungry than the other. If voltage stabilize the clock speed, current should be direct proportional to performance.
 

gim159

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[citation][nom]jadedgamerx[/nom]Have you been living under a rock for the past 3 years? Seriously?!? I have built a TON of AMD opteron based server/blade systems and have been building a LOT of Intel based gaming rigs ever since the Core2 architecture hit the market. Even the Pentium D 805s were good performers albeit very very hot. Time to catch up with the times sir. Both chip makers see a fairly good amount of market share from all over the board. Some of the fastest supercomputers in the world are also utilizing Opteron/CELL setups. AMD tends to hold down the performance per watt in the server sector pretty well.I think in those kinds of scenario's you will always see a GPU ran out of power or CPU ran out of power depending on what you start with. THG has actually covered that quite a few times with their TRI-SLI / QUAD-CrossFireX tests. Generally you start at X, and you either run out of general computing horsepower or visual horsepower and it can be predicted only if you have some practical knowledge and experience with the hardware. Or if you just sit and read THG all day like me[/citation]

I was speaking generally... I am well aware that AMD makes Server processors, But almost no AMD processors use SMP. Making then weak as a server base. Intel chips are more stable and whatnot, Making them great for Multi-processor bases!

Its nice to see that A-holes skulk this site waiting for people to not spend an hour typing out every little detail of their thought and pounce on them the moment they don't. I hope you die of dysentery...
 

bornking

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[citation][nom]rodney_ws[/nom]There's no way that sound "card" is up to the level of a $5k rig.[/citation]

I thought the same thing initially but a proper review needs to be done with a similar X-Fi in the third slot rather than this add-on X-Fi. Probably not more than a frame or two on average at 1920X1200.

But when you think about it, at that price you would plug it into a sound system that is worthy of a $5,000+ PC...like Wilson Audio speakers. Watt Puppy 5 is my fav.

So I would argue that the optical out on the mobo is enough for the best experience.

 

gim159

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[citation][nom]bornking[/nom]I thought the same thing initially but a proper review needs to be done with a similar X-Fi in the third slot rather than this add-on X-Fi. Probably not more than a frame or two on average at 1920X1200.But when you think about it, at that price you would plug it into a sound system that is worthy of a $5,000+ PC...like Wilson Audio speakers. Watt Puppy 5 is my fav.So I would argue that the optical out on the mobo is enough for the best experience.[/citation]

I always recommend headphones... True, you can't replace a blown headphone speaker.
1.) The cost. [as opposed to buying a full 5.1-7.1 speaker system]
2.)If you live in a(n) apartment/not alone and you're a late night gamer, but don't want to wake people up with gunfire.
3.) Already have a pair that are broken in for LAN parties!
 

bornking

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^
Wilson Watt Puppy is 2.0.
You won't need more speakers.

They cost more than a good pair of headphones, but again, for the caliber of the system, why not?
 

jadedgamerx

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[citation][nom]gim159[/nom]I was speaking generally... I am well aware that AMD makes Server processors, But almost no AMD processors use SMP. Making then weak as a server base. Intel chips are more stable and whatnot, Making them great for Multi-processor bases!Its nice to see that A-holes skulk this site waiting for people to not spend an hour typing out every little detail of their thought and pounce on them the moment they don't. I hope you die of dysentery...[/citation]

Anything either chip manufacturer has made in the server segment with more than a single core has been SMP compatible, this information has been available in white sheets for a very long time. Early opteron adopters were fussy because of virtualization problems since AMD was not licensed nor had they implemented any type of "vanderpool" technology. Supercomputers would not be based on Opteron clusters if they were not capable of SMP and PMP computation.

Stability is a relative term, I have seen both Intel and AMD become unstable and crash dependent on load, heat, age, etc. Just as some processors overlock easier than others in a given chip range, so do they fail more or less easily than one another. The days when AMDs catch on fire while Intel trudges along without a phase are over, the standings are pretty much even now.

An A-Hole as you so lovingly put I may be, but this is what I do for a living. I'm paid to know these things so I can make educated decisions when I decide to re-purpose old systems and build new ones for a given architecture in a datacenter. It's not my problem that you base your statements more on opinion than fact. Go read a tabloid or something.
 

Tindytim

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If I were going to spend 5k on a Build, I would at least consider a gas compression cooling system.

Although, that might be for a difference article. Not so sure you could get it running in the time frame needed for the marathon.
 

RJ

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[citation][nom]jadedgamerx[/nom]RJ - you make some good points, but this is all about a dream system. It's not meant to be something the every day user could build, it's information and comparison. What happens when you throw 5 grand at something, do you hit a performance ceiling? They answer that question for us so we don't have to question it and become obsessed and figure it out at our own expense. Obviously most people are going to put a lot less money into their system, and most people will have a regular DVD-RW combo drive for their daily tasks that don't involve blu-ray. Regarding the Killer NIC card, granted it has it's purpose, it's not a necessity, and there is no public outcry for them to bring it into the comparisons.[/citation]

Why can't a "dream system" be built with practicality? A while back, I had 3 Raptor drives in Raid0 and was always the first on the board in BF2. It wasn't planned, using the 3 Raptors, but it was a nice side effect. I had the ability to get those few extra steps before anyone else did and get the jump on my opponents. I often got accused of cheating because of it, but I doubt having better hardware is "cheating". That's why I brought up the Killer NIC.....does it give that slight advantage? That's why I asked if SSD's have a substantial advantage over SATA II or SAS drives. It's all about practicality. If I'm looking for gluttonous overspending, I'll watch MTV Cribs!
 

Spathi

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Those SSD's are way faster than most disks, 1,000,000% more reliable, quiet and many times less watts, they use more CPU but only because they are pumping more data, so it is worth it by a mile.

No point in buying a system though until 32 or 48 core Larrabee @ 2000+MHz, you could get almost Intel everything with new Hynix memory and it will be many times faster than everything else ez pz and 100% compatible with any future versions of DX, then you will also probably be able to pick up 300 or 500 gig SSD's as well... and wait then another 7 years till you need your next PC ;oP
 

dragonsprayer

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Don't blame the cpu try the unmatched water cooling componets. wrong pump with the right cpu cooler - too big a pressure drop? cooling with hot air? reverse the air flow? solid state drives? good raid card and batch of 300GB raptors would smoke that set up or even 1TB spinpoints on raid card? nice article crappy pump - flip the fans!
 

gorilla_cooch

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That case is crap, the best one by far is the Xclio Windtunnel. 2x 250mm fans on the side, one that covers the entire motherboard, pci cards, ram, chipsets, cpu etc.. and the other covers the harddrives and optical drives. Also get rid of that seagate because that thing has a high failure rate not to mention random slow downs that last a minute or two, loud, and output lots of heat. Stick with western digital 1 TB or their 2 TB. Also 2 gtx 295s in sli have been proven in many tests to run slower then a single one. Would probably be better just to run one. Also sound card wise, forget X-fi seeing as how eax 5 is obsolete in vista. Asus Xonar D2X is a much better card or even the latest one they released which is the STX or something. Their software forces EAX 5 to work in vista. The Cooler master powersupply although very good should be switched with a PC Power and Cooling, Silverstone, or a CORSAIR. Corsair is amazing. SSDs have problems with writing multiple things at one time, so probably better to use 2 velociraptors RAID 0 and a western digital 2 tb. I'd probably switch that mushkin with some Corsair Dominator stuff and get 12 gigs then turn off paging file index in vista 64 bit, you get a significant boost in performance. Although the Sflex fans are good but the ENERMAX UC-MA12 120mm are even better. Forget watercooling, with this case you wont need water cooling, and with a good cooler master hyper tx or artic cooling fan, your set. Quient fast and gorgeous. Also the motherboard is a waste of money. You would be better off with the gigabye board, they have the perfect PCI layout. No company has nailed the pci slot layout like gigabyte has. If you see that they start with a pci express 1x slot, then pci express 4x slot then start with the 16x slots and pci, 16x, pci, 16x. That is the best layout. Also get a Hanns-g 28" LCD monitor or a Panasonic Viera 1080p 42" plasma tv for $900 bucks and your set. Or even a digital project with a 100" screen and you can use nvidia 3d glasses with that. Now that would be the ultimate setup.
 

gorilla_cooch

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That case is crap, the best one by far is the Xclio Windtunnel. 2x 250mm fans on the side, one that covers the entire motherboard, pci cards, ram, chipsets, cpu etc.. and the other covers the harddrives and optical drives. Also get rid of that seagate because that thing has a high failure rate not to mention random slow downs that last a minute or two, loud, and output lots of heat. Stick with western digital 1 TB or their 2 TB. Also 2 gtx 295s in sli have been proven in many tests to run slower then a single one. Would probably be better just to run one. Also sound card wise, forget X-fi seeing as how eax 5 is obsolete in vista. Asus Xonar D2X is a much better card or even the latest one they released which is the STX or something. Their software forces EAX 5 to work in vista. The Cooler master powersupply although very good should be switched with a PC Power and Cooling, Silverstone, or a CORSAIR. Corsair is amazing. SSDs have problems with writing multiple things at one time, so probably better to use 2 velociraptors RAID 0 and a western digital 2 tb. I'd probably switch that mushkin with some Corsair Dominator stuff and get 12 gigs then turn off paging file index in vista 64 bit, you get a significant boost in performance. Although the Sflex fans are good but the ENERMAX UC-MA12 120mm are even better. Forget watercooling, with this case you wont need water cooling, and with a good cooler master hyper tx or artic cooling fan, your set. Quient fast and gorgeous. Also the motherboard is a waste of money. You would be better off with the gigabye board, they have the perfect PCI layout. No company has nailed the pci slot layout like gigabyte has. If you see that they start with a pci express 1x slot, then pci express 4x slot then start with the 16x slots and pci, 16x, pci, 16x. That is the best layout. Also get a Hanns-g 28" LCD monitor or a Panasonic Viera 1080p 42" plasma tv for $900 bucks and your set. Or even a digital project with a 100" screen and you can use nvidia 3d glasses with that. Now that would be the ultimate setup.
 

WheelsOfConfusion

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[citation][nom]The article[/nom]The only people who can truly understand the logic behind spending a month’s pay on a computer are those who have actually used such a system.[/citation]
Actually, the $1,250 PC would be my month's pay. That is, if orders hadn't dropped to zero and everybody on the production floor (including me) hadn't been laid off.
 

jcknouse

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[citation][nom]Pei-chen[/nom]What so you think you have just read?[/citation]

Not at all what was included in the $5000 Tom's enthusiast PC has been rated/charted "the best".

For example:

In the Jan 19, 2009 article, the Crucial Ballistix 1600 BL3KIT25664BN1608 was rated higher than the Mushkin used...correct?

Using a WD velociraptor drive instead of Barracuda 7200.11 for conventional drive (better scores on most charts).


Just a couple of examples.

Anyways, it is a moot point now. The $5k dream PC seems (by comment) to be a thing of the past, which makes sense. You can put together a top quality machine for $3-4k using common sense and pricing out the best parts and getting great suggestions from reviews and forums.

But, I was basically getting to the point of: Tom's rates/charts all these products...so if they put together a "Dream machine" once a year, I would think it would be cool for them to show what happens when they put all the top ranking hardware together from their own charts.

It was just a suggestion anyways, Pei.

Oh btw...I have a 150GB velociraptor and a 500GB 7200.11 in my machine ^_^
 
G

Guest

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Note that you couldnt install the Xonar in the top 1x pcix slot. The card is too long and will hit heat sinks on the motherboard. Found that out the hard way.

Also, for the person who asked about the killnic, alas, there is not room for it with the 2 vid cards taking the space.
 

Hothr

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Why do you use awful color schemes like this in your graphs? Yesterday's $1,250 machine benchmark graphs were the first I had actually been able to easily read. Light/Dark + Blue/Green/Red makes SO much sense. I can easily tell which system is which, and which bar is the overclocked bar. Blue, Green, Red, Purple shows no information on whether it is overclocked or not, and does not provide an easy way to tell which system is which.
To make things worse, the key at the bottom of every graph (that I have to look at every time) is always in a different order.

Can we please have more graphs like the $1,250 build?
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-2-overclock,2146-12.html
 
All I can say is, holy crap. I'm glad they went with two 295s instead of three 280/285s. Even though such a tripple SLI can win out in the highest settings, thanks to the slightly higher memory and full 512-bit bus, I don't think it justifies the cost. Love the selection of the Case, the cosmos is awesome. I would have taken a motherboard without the X-Fi to go with an ASUS Xonar myself, if I had the money to spend on this insane system anyway :D. I'm also not too fond of the Intel SSDs and would have rather built a system with a RAID 5 array of WD 1TB Cavalier Blacks, but that's just being greedy since I don't even fill up the 1TB drive I got, not by a long shot, yet ^_^.
 

barrychuck

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You should have include the Hardware raid controller Highpoint 3510 sold on Newegg at just over $300. I running 4 x Samsung SSD SLC drive and getting much better write performance at 380mbs. read is 437mbs. You have the budget and Newegg sells it!. Do not go with the higher model using the 1.2 ghz 348 IOP controller, as all controllers using this chip have long controller intialization times. Intel provided the reference code, so it is common problem with all cards using this chip. The HPT 3510/20 uses the 800 mhz version and boots rapidly. Even with regular drives, I would strognly recommend the 3510 or 3520 for a monster machine. The 256mb cache makes a huge diference in performance over the ICH10!!!!!
 

rangers641

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I'm not a big fan of limiting the price. I'd like to see benchmarks from a state-of-the-art build. I think this is what we should be comparing our systems to, not a $5,000 price limited PC. I'd like to see benchmarks on 64GB of RAM (RAM is sooo cheap nowadays). What does this do to gaming and productivity compared to a common everyday PC?
 
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