motherboards, graphics cards... help required on spec

Discussion in 'Gaming and Software' started by TopBadger, Jan 3, 2008.

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  1. Dear All,

    The time has come for me to buy a mooosive PC for gaming. Thanks to previous posts on and around this subject i reckon yoyotech is my chosen complany to purchase from (unless a majority have terrible things to say about them).

    I reckon i'll be going for customised Viper III:

    Antec Nine Hundred/Ultimate Gamer Case- no PSU
    Corsair 750W TX Series Powersupply (not much extra cash for the extra power in case of future upgrades).
    Intel Core 2 Quad-Core Q6600, S775, 2.40 GHz, 1066MHz FSB, 8MB Cache CPU - Retail - G0 Stepping
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler Intel Celeron (Skt 775)
    Patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800Mhz Extreme Performance Memory (or should i stick to Corsair?)
    Samsung 500GB HD501LJ Spinpoint T, SATA300, 7200 rpm, 16MB Hard Disk Drive
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-Bit Edition (well, we'll all have to bite the bullet eventually)

    So, so my problem with motherboards, the options are:

    Abit IP35-E Intel P35, Dual DDR2, Sokcet 775, 7.1 Audio, PCI-E, SATA 2, ATX Motherboard
    Abit IP35 Intel P35, Dual DDR2, Sokcet 775, 7.1 Audio, PCI-E, SATA 2, ATX Motherboard [+£14]
    MSI P35 Platinum Socket 775, DDR2, SAT2, ATX Motherboard [+£33.03]
    Asus Commando Socket 775 P965 DDR2 3X PCI-E Vista Ready Motherboard [+£36.12]
    Asus P5N32E-SLI 680i 1066FSB Socket 775 Dual DDR2 PCI-E SATA2 DUAL GLAN USB2.0 Motherboard [+£56.11]
    XFX MB-N680-ISH Socket 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard [+£56.56]
    Abit IX38 QuadGT Socket 775, Dual DDR2, SATA Raid, IEEE 1394, HD 7.1, Vista HW Ready Motherboard [+£72.24]
    Asus Striker Extreme Socket 775 680i QUAD Core Ready DDR2 3X PCI-E Vista Premium Ready Motherboard [+£90.14]
    Abit IN9 32X-MAX Nvidia® NF680i SLI Triple PCI-E, DDR2, DUAL GLAN, HDMI, 1394, WiFi Module, 5-phase Digital PWM Motherboard [+£98.64]

    Now, firstly, is the default board a good one? Or is it worth the cash to go for the Asus P5N32E or even up to Abit IX38 (vista ready)? They all seem to have the same number of USB, PCI... all i want is something with decent on-board audio that won't compromise the graphics cards/processors without costing too much (i'm trying to keep the total under £1000 inc VAT but minus perhiperals).

    The next bit i'm a bit stuck with... i want one of the 8800GTX cards, choices are:

    MSI 8800GTX 768MB DDR3, Dual DVI, Overclocked Memory, Graphics Card [+£80.41]
    Asus EN8800GTX/HTDP/768M 8800GTX 768MB DDR3, Dual DVI Graphics Card [+£83.6]
    XFX GeForce 8800GTX XT 768MB SLI HDCP Enabled Dual DVI PCI-E Graphics [+£125.4]

    So two at about £80 extra and one at £125 extra! The Asus is the one i'm drawn towards at the moment , perhaps because it comes with ghost recon game and i can't really tell the difference between them!

    So, if you've read this far then thank you very much, your comments/help will be appreciated!

    TB
     
  2. Only options id change would be:

    CPU cooler - Zalman CNPS9700 NT (cheaper than the tuniq but a bit noiser, gives off a whooshing noise due to the shape of the cooling fins, i have it and would go for the tuniq in hindsight) or even better the Tuniq Tower 120. Better cooling, especially for a quad core.

    RAM - If you want to change this to 4x1Gb feel free, good bit cheaper with no real difference in speed (1% if that)

    Hard Drive - Try to get a Seagate or Western Digital, Samsung are ok but from personal experiance they dont last as long as the other two makes. Seagate do a 500Gb HD with a 32Mb cache SATA2, i have it and theres a noticable speed increase compared to 16Mb cache models.


    Motherboard - The list you have are all good makes and boards, so only minor differences. However the Abit IP35-E seems to be the slightly budget version, so id go for the IP35. Though the MSI P35 is also an option, slightly better manufacturer than Abit. I wouldnt go for the Asus Commando and upwards, not worth the extra cash, plus that asus commando is using a cheaper main chip than the abit and MSI (P35 is better than the P965).


    3d Card - Either the MSI or Asus will do, not much difference performance or price wise. Id avoid the XFX though, never been a fan of them considering they made their name by using very sub standard components, compared to others, when they first appeared.
     
  3. Seems like a reasonable setup good info from HBM.

    I would add that in my experience XFX are pretty reasonable cards but not necessarily worth paying that much more for a fairly small performance increase.

    Something to bear in mind (and this isn't a real problem) is that there are some problems with some of the factory overclocked versions of the 8800 cards.

    It's easy to rectify and doesn't cost anything or compromise the card/performance. Some have problems with GPU temperature and this is due to the stock cooler not being up to scratch when set to automatically adjust fan speed. This can cause graphics crashes etc. To fix just download the NTune utility from NVidia website (its free) and it allows you to do more indepth tweaks to your card. You can set the fan speed to manual and fix to ensure cooling is sufficient.

    This is quite common (had the problem myself and investigated), fixed it in no time and works like a dream now.
     
  4. Thanks for the advice so far!

    I was a bit worried about the cooler, yoyotech's options are:

    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler Intel Celeron (Skt 775), Intel P4(Skt 775), Intel Pentium D
    Zalman CNPS9500-LED Aero Flower Cooler, Copper [+£15.31]
    Zalman CNPS9700 NT CPU Cooler [+£25]
    Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme CPU Cooler All Sockets [+£31.25]

    Think the CNPS9500 will cut it?

    As for the harddisk, i'll attempt to source the 32Mb Cache 500Gb seagate, i wonder how flexible yoyotech are at bespoking these things.

    Edited to add, they have the following option i missed:

    Hitachi 750GB SATA 2 32MB 7200rpm Hard Disk Drive [+£41.25]

    Cheaper than sourceing the seagate, even from overclockers!

    i'll probably stick with the Asus graphics card as my upgrade route might be SLI, so they need to be identical cards to work... trying to find another overclocked card or doing it myself may prove hazardous in the future! SLI seems a bit indulgent at the mo but who knows eh?

    Does anyone know if the board from MSI supports SLI, it supports crossfire, not sure if the two are mutually exclusive? The board is the only real decision left.

    TB
     
  5. Crossfire and SLI are 2 different technolgies, Nvidia use SLI, ATI use Crossfire, so depending on your card depends which one to go for. In your case it will probably be SLI you want (though I personaly think its just not worth the bang per buck, but if you have the cash, hey :D )

    In terms of cooling, whilst not an overclocker and not up to speed on the different makes of coolers, I do have a viper II based system and can say that with the 4 case fans of the Antec case and the Zalman cooler I have, the CPU was idling at 26 degrees. So unless you are an extreme overclocker, I wouldnt worry.

    One thing to mention about the Yoyotech machine and the Abit motherboard specifically, is that Yoyotec loaded the AGuru temperature monitoring tool set to auto run. At first glance it looks nice, can configure all your fan speeds etc. What I failed to realise at first is that the Antec case fans are not connected to the motherboard, so the only fan you can control with this utility is the CPU one, so I disabled the utility

    And lastly in terms of memory, I would stick with 2 x 2Gb. You seem to be intrested in a bit of future proffing, and Vista 64 will support more than 4Gb so might as well keep 2 slots free just in case.
     
  6. Yep, 2x2Gb so i can expand later, my thoughts exactly. The case does have 3 fans, so i wondered about the CPU cooling required, nice to hear an owners thoughts. I'm going quad core though... Whats yours?

    Yeah, i was thinking of an SLI board... just wasn't sure if the non-expensive boards supported it... i'm not going SLI at the moment (not worth it if your screen resolution is less than 1920x1200 so i'm told) but may do in future!

    64 bit supports 18 ExaBytes in theory (Thats 18,000TB)... like to see a PC with enough slots for that!

    TB
     
  7. I have exactly the same cpu as you are going for.

    The Antec case actually has 4 fans, 2 at the front, 1 at the rear and a HUUUUGE 200mm one top mounted, but I believe there are also slots for 2 more side mounted ones if you want :D
     
  8. Ohh, sorry forgot to say, I went for the 8800 Ultra pre overclocked, but other than playing Bioshock, I havent really benchmarked it other than to say "oooo that looks nice" :D
     
  9. Useful thread Because No1 son is expecting a late Crimbo/birthday pressie of a new PC that he will part fund. Been looking at this outfit and they appear to have some reasonable gaming rigs as well but all gets a bit confusing.

    http://www.pcoption.co.uk/pcbaseunits/index5.htm

    Questions

    What is the practical advantage/disadvantage of speccing twin Graphics cards?

    How much difference do the various motherboard options really make?

    The Antec 900 case looks like it might do a pretty damn good cooling job alone:

    • 1 top 200mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
    • 1 rear 120mm TriCool fan with 3-speed switch control
    • 2 front 120mm special black TriCool blue LED fans with 3-speed switch control to cool HDDs
    • 1 side (optional) 120mm fan to cool graphic cards
    • 1 middle (optional) 120mm fan to cool CPU or graphic cards

    Would you need a CPU cooler with something that sounds like it is capable of hovering?
     
  10. One final thing to say about Yoyotech from my personal experience: I have been a tad unlucky with my PC in that several things have gone wrong with it, but I dont attribute any of the blame for that to Yoyotech and their customer service has been excellent. I had to send my system back as a result of a faulty power supply (No quibbles from them, they arranged and payed for courier pickup and return at their costs etc), it was returned to me early december, but I just noticed before Chrsitams that the Cooling fan was out of line and the fan was actually not spinning. It would appear it was damaged in transit on the way back the second time (I only know this from my wifes description of the couriers delivery, and the fact the case was marked). I posted a post on their support forum (as it was late evening) and the next morning before I could ring them, they rang me. They have collected my machine again, are going to completely replace the case (even though the damage was minor) and obviosuly replace the CPU cooler, in addition they are refunding me my build costs for my troubles)

    When a company sells you a product that works flawlessly, its nice, but often you dont get a true sense of how good the company is. It is a measure of a company in how they deal with you when things go wrong, and I think Yoyotech are an excellent company.
     
  11. See my post above about my CPU cooler not working. I ran it for almost a month without realising the CPU cooler was not working, after I found out, I checked the cpu temp and found it was still idling at only 39 degrees (as opposed to the 26 degrees with the CPU cooler). So whilst it is not advisable to not have a CPU cooler, it is possible. I must point out that the Q6600 G0 stepping variant is well known for being a cool running chip.
     
  12. Well the graphics cards thing i've looked into extensively. Essentially ATi have 'Crossfire' and Nvidia have SLI (scalable link interface).

    What both things do (by slightly different methods) is share the workload of rendering the screen over two graphics cards.

    A new single graphics card is just as capable (or more capable) than twin older cards... there are literally tons of web pages comparing different graphics set-ups... but almost all the authors seem to have an ATi or Nvidia leaning bias.

    But, it seems to be the case that one new card is worth two older ones, and that two new cards (expensive) are only required at mega high resolutions (higher than 1900x1200). Most monitors don't even support this! I started with a monitor i'm interested in and worked backwards, figured out i shouldn't need two cards. So i'm going to one new one which leaves me room to upgrade in future (by which time the second card should be cheaper).

    I'm not too clear about this myself but i've read that SLI motherboards don't support ATi, though some ATi boards will support SLI. Also the SLI route requires the graphics cards to be absolutely identical. But if the crossfire cards are different (as they can be) then the graphics run at the speed of the slowest card.

    Confused? Yeah, so was i, so i'm going for Nvidia to keep it simple!

    TB
     
  13. Some of the reviews I have seen about even twin Nvidia 8600 cards do not put them on a par with a single 8800's performance, sadly, 2 cards do not equal double the speed :(
     
  14. Sorry, I should have spotted this, as Tango Six has pointed out, Nvidia have updated their 8800GTS card and the price for performance is supposedly a lot better. (PC Format are also raving about this card as it can be had for around £200, yet delivers performance almost equal to and in some cases better than the GTX cards) So if you want to save a few punds, thats the way to go. I am not so sure about holding off until March, becasue as we all know, there is always something better on the horizon. Just go with the best you can afford now and dont be upset that it will be superceeded very soon :D
     
  15. Well the 8800 series seem to be the best out at the moment... and you can hold off a purchase forever thinking that the next model will be better!

    Never heard of a 8900... rumours about the 9800 series have circulated for a while, some mentioning a release date of Nov 2007... which was missed. Nvidia won't release a 9800 spec card until ATi produces something that can beat it.

    TB