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Looking at a new build.

lilreap2k3lilreap2k3 Member UncommonPosts: 353

So my current build is around three years old now. I am thinking it is about time to do a new one. I would like to reuse my tower (Antec900), hdds, dvd drive, and my psu (modular750w), but everything else can go.

My old build includes:
Core2Duo e6400 2.13ghz
Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 MB
Zalman 9500 cooler
Geforce 8800 GT 512mb
Corsair DDR2 800 ram 4gigs

So I am looking at:
Video Card
CPU Cooler

The new build will be for gaming as well as frapsing. I have around $1000 for the parts needed, which should get me a pretty good setup. What would you guys suggest?

Playing - Minecraft, 7 Days To Die, Darkfall:ROA, Path of Exile

Waiting for - 


  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,094

    I assume that you don't need to keep the old computer in working order, if you're salvaging parts from it.  I also assume that you're keeping your old peripherals (monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, surge protector).  I also assume that you're in the United States, and can assemble parts yourself, as it sounds ilke that's what you're planning on doing.

    An Antec Nine Hundred can certainly be reused, especially if all of the fans still work.  If the optical drive is SATA (which it probably is) and still in working order, then go ahead and reuse it; a brand new optical drive only costs around $17 anyway.

    I'd like to know exactly what power supply you have, not just the nominal wattage.  Give the exact brand name and model.  If it's something good, then you could reuse it, but you don't want to reuse a cheap junk power supply.

    I'd be leery of reusing hard drives, as they're likely pretty old by now.  Newer ones may be significantly faster, and on your budget, you should probably consider a good SSD, which will be really a lot faster.  You could get a new SSD and keep your old hard drives, I guess.

    I'm also going to assume that you're not into massively overclocking parts.  If you are an overclocker, then let me know and I'll change some things for you.  I'll pick stuff that can handle a modest overclock, but not a large one.

    CPU/heatsink combo:  $236, including shipping


    Sandy Bridge is the thing to get, and an aftermarket cooler is vastly better than Intel's awful stock coolers.

    Motherboard/video card combo:  $498, including shipping


    Nice motherboard that fits the processor, and the availability of a combo deal makes the GeForce GTX 570 arguably a better value than the Radeon HD 6970.  If you happen to prefer AMD to Nvidia, I can pick something different.

    SSD:  $115, before a $15 mail-in rebate


    Install your OS and main programs on the SSD, and put everything else on hard drives.

    If you don't know what an SSD is and why you need one, then ask yourself how often your computer makes you sit there and wait before it does something.  If you'd rather it just do what you tell it when you tell it, rather than sometime later, then you need an SSD for that.


    See the WD VelociRaptor at the bottom of those charts?  That's faster than your hard drive, and probably a lot faster.  And it's still slow, because hard drives are an intrinsically slow technology.  SSDs are faster.

    Memory:  $48


    4 GB is enough.  1600 MHz is nice, and 1.5 V is good, too.

    Operating system:  $100


    That comes to $997, including shipping, and before rebate.  If you need a new power supply, too, then one way to fit in into the budget would be to break the combo deal on the video card and get a Radeon HD 6950 1 GB instead.

  • lilreap2k3lilreap2k3 Member UncommonPosts: 353

    Thanks for the suggestions Quizz. Since you asked about the power supply, here is a link to what I have: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817159058

    The setup you listed seems nice, but I failed to mention a couple of things.

    I have already purchased the Win7 OS software, and that's why I didn't include that in the list. Sorry I just wasn't thinking about that. =p

    I also would like to have a motherboard that will last through at least two builds along with great overclocking ability. In addition to that I would like at least 8gigs of ram for now because I sometimes multibox on mmorpgs along with having multiple other programs going at the same time.

    Here is what I came up with earlier today before anyone had a chance to respond:

    That setup comes to $943. I had a hard time deciding between a better graphics card versus a better processor. So I could drop down the I7 to grab a better card instead. I also didn't think about the SSD. I just bought http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136073 not long ago. What makes the SSD so good as far as gaming? Please tell me what you think, and keep the suggestions coming.

    Playing - Minecraft, 7 Days To Die, Darkfall:ROA, Path of Exile

    Waiting for - 

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,094

    Hoping for a motherboard to last you multiple builds probably isn't realistic, with how fast Intel goes through sockets.  They've introduced 3 new desktop sockets in the last 2 1/2 years.  If you get a Sandy Bridge quad core, there probably won't be any point in upgrading it for several years anyway.

    You're looking at entirely the wrong platform.  The Core i5 2500 above is vastly superior to the Core i7 950 that you linked.  It's also cheaper, and takes a cheaper motherboard.

    If you want to bump the voltage up a bit, overclock the processor to around 4.3 GHz, and call that good enough, then the motherboard I linked above would still be fine.  If you've got ideas about pushing the processor as hard as it can go, knowing full well that it will probably fry sooner or later, then you might want a motherboard that can deliver more power, like this:


    I'd advise against that sort of severe overclocking, though.

    And if you've got a bunch of liquid nitrogen that you're waiting to use in an overclocking attempt, then I'd have to dig further.

    For a large overclock, you'll need an unlocked multiplier from this processor, which is equivalent to the one I linked above except that it allows you to overclock it further:


    You pretty much need a new power supply.  Try this:


    The CPU cooler you picked would be appropriate for a large overclock.  It will be noisy, though.

    Don't get a GeForce GTX 470, as that's a bad card.  If that's your desired budget and performance level, then try a Radeon HD 6950 like this:


    Or, if you happen to prefer Nvidia, a GeForce GTX 560 Ti like this:


    Either of those will be significantly faster than a GeForce GTX 470, and without the overheating problems.

    On your budget, I'd still advise trying to squeeze in an SSD.  Otherwise, you'll end up with an expensive computer that feels sluggish.

  • lilreap2k3lilreap2k3 Member UncommonPosts: 353

    Thanks again for the suggestions. I took your advice and switched out some stuff. Here is my updated list:


    New total comes to $1,047 after shipping, which I can live with. Will this setup run the newest games on full settings with fraps running? If not, what would I need to change?

    Also if I do get that SSD, do I just install the OS and whatnot on that with all the games and such on the HDD? I am trying to get the best performance possible on the newest games without spending thousands extra on the best of the best equipment.

    Playing - Minecraft, 7 Days To Die, Darkfall:ROA, Path of Exile

    Waiting for - 

  • QuizzicalQuizzical Member LegendaryPosts: 22,094

    If you want to overclock the processor very far, you'll need a 2500K with an unlocked multiplier.  The Sandy Bridge architecture has only one clock generator for the the proecessor and everything on the motherboard, builds that into the processor, and locks it down so that you basically can't overclock it.  Overclocking with Sandy Bridge basically means you have to increase the multiplier.  Most of Intel's processors make it so that you can't increase the multiplier very far.  Ones ending with a K have an unlocked multiplier, which will let you clock them as high as 5.7 GHz and see what happens.  Realistically, that's not a meaningful restriction for overclocking on air or water, though it would be on liquid nitrogen.  But if you want to overclock the processor very far, you'll need a Core i5 2500K, not just a 2500, for an extra $15.  Here's the same combo deal as before, but with the 2500K:


    I should warn you that, while the cooler in that combo deal is decently nice, it's not the sort of high end cooler that will allow for maximum overclocks.  If you want to bump the voltage a bit and clock the processor at 4.3 GHz or so, the cooler will probably be fine for that.  If you want to see if you can reach 5 GHz on air and likely fry the processor eventually, you'd need a better heatsink and fan.

    Also, I'd advise against overclocking the processor as soon as you get it.  If the computer is fast enough that your processor never meaningfully holds you back, then the only difference overclocking will make is more power consumption, more heat, and a greater chance of frying parts.  Note that it does use "turbo boost" to overclock a single core as high as 4.1 GHz for short periods of time, or all four cores as high as 3.7 GHz indefinitely if it thinks you need the extra speed.  That's at stock speeds, without you having to do anything special.

    If you run into something where you decide that you do need a faster processor, then you can overclock it at that time.  Overclocking a Sandy Bridge processor with an unlocked multiplier is easy to do, at least as compared to older processors with locked multipliers.  You change the multiplier and maybe the voltage, and see if it's stable.


    For memory, Sandy Bridge officially only supports up to 1333 MHz, but has an unlocked multiplier, so it will let you clock the memory as high as you want and see what happens.  I'd expect the memory controller to almost invariably work fine up to about 2000 MHz, though some motherboards and most memory can't handle that sort of clock speeds.  Anything over 1600 MHz simply costs too much for not much benefit, so the real choice is between 1600 MHz and 1333 MHz.  My expectation is that some programs would benefit a little bit (e.g., 3% or 5%) from clocking memory at 1600 MHz rather than 1333 MHz, but it will never be an enormous difference, and some programs won't benefit at all from the higher memory speed.  I don't have hard data to base that on, but I'm only extrapolating from memory speed scaling on Lynnfield and Phenom II processors.

    For 4 GB, the price difference isn't very much, so I'd go ahead and get 1600 MHz.  For 8 GB, the price difference is much larger, so personally, I'd just get 1333 MHz memory and call it good enough.  It's up to you what you want to do, though, and the higher memory clock speed might offer more benefit if you're going to heavily overclock the processor.  It's a difference of $25 as compared to this:



    I should probably explain the point of a solid state drive.  If your computer needs to get a bit of data out of L1 cache, it takes about 1 ns.  For L2 cache, about 4 ns.  For L3 cache, about 15 ns.  For system memory, about 50 ns.  Those times are meaningful architecture restrictions that AMD and Intel try to plan around, but they're far too small to be perceptible to humans.

    If you need to get a bit of data off of the hard drive, on the other hand, it takes about 15000000 ns.  In more convenient units, that's about 15 ms.  If a program has to constantly stop to grab stuff off of the hard drive, it really kills your performance.  Whatever instruction the processor needs to execute has to sit there and wait about 50 million clock cycles before it can get the data it needs in order to proceed.  That's why you try to make sure you have enough system memory for that to not be a problem in normal operation of a program.

    But that's not always possible.  Your hard drive will have tens or hundreds of gigabytes of information on it, which is vastly more than will fit in system memory.  Furthermore, everything in system memory gets wiped out whenever you turn off the computer.  So the computer has to guess what you'll need, and try to load it into system memory before it needs it, so that it can be accessed very quickly.  Sometimes it has a pretty good idea of what you'll need.  If you run a program, the computer can often load everything that you need for that particular program into system memory.  Windows will try to guess which programs you're going to run and load them into system memory before you run them, but there isn't a whole lot of space in system memory for this.

    But sometimes accessing the hard drive is unavoidable.  Sometimes you run a program that Windows hadn't anticipated that you would, and then you have to sit there and wait a while for it to load.  Many games are too large to load the entire thing into memory, so it has to only load the part relevant to you, and then you have to sit there and wait a while for it to load a different part, such as at a zoning screen.

    Now, if the computer only has to access one file off of the hard drive, it might have to wait about 15 ms for the disk and drive head to physically move to the right spots before it can do anything.  But once it gets to the right spot, it can read at about 100 MB/s until it has to stop and physically move to a different spot.  If you have one large file to load, then maybe you only pay the 15 ms penalty once, and then after that, it's pretty fast.  If you have hundreds of small files to load, then it has to stop and reposition after every single one.  That can make you wait for several seconds to get the information off of the hard drive.

    The solution to this is a solid state drive.  If you need to get a bit of data off of an SSD, it takes about 0.1 ms.  That's about two orders of magnitude faster than a hard drive.  Now, that's still 100000 ns, so system memory is still needed so that you're not constantly trying to grab things off of an SSD.  But if you need to load hundreds of small files at once, if they take 0.1 ms each, it only adds up to tens of milliseconds.  That's basically imperceptible, and an enormous improvement over having to sit and wait a while.

    So when does a computer have to load things off of a hard drive or SSD?  Basically, whenever you tell it to do anything that it wasn't expecting.  That can be loading a program, zoning in a game, loading a web page, booting the computer, or a lot of other things.  You've surely noticed that when you load a program, the computer sits there for a while before the program loads and is ready to use.  Most of the time, it's waiting on the hard drive.

    The point of getting an SSD is that you don't have to wait.  With most programs, you click the program, and it fully loads and is ready to use in under a second.  The delay is perceptible, kind of like when you alt+tab between programs.  But the program is often ready about as fast as you are, so you don't have to wait for it.  Large programs, such as many games, will still make you wait.  But even there, the waiting time might be 1/2 or 1/3 as long as with a reasonably fast hard drive.

    In practical use, the SSD means that your computer does what you tell it to do when you tell it, rather than sometime later.  This makes programs feel much faster and more responsive.

    For example, when you boot your computer, presumably at some point it comes to a screen where it asks for your password.  After you enter your password, how long does it take to finish loading Windows?  You can get out a stopwatch and time it if you like.  With an SSD, I can start clicking on programs and they'll open and respond about 3 seconds after entering my password, though it's not as fast while Windows is still loading things in the background.  If I let Windows load whatever it wants before I do anything, it takes about 10 seconds before Windows is completely done and idle.  For most programs, getting a good SSD is the biggest, most noticeable upgrade you can get, more so than a faster processor or video card, or more memory.

    So what about gaming?  That games will load faster, and you'll zone much faster, is pretty noticeable.  But an SSD usually won't improve your frame rates in games.  There are two major exceptions to this.  One is that some badly coded games aren't able to hide the hard drive accesses very well, and load things while you're out and about in the world, sometimes making you wait for something to load.  This causes hitching, where a game stops rendering for a fraction of a second while loading things.  Vanguard had a severe case of this.  An SSD completely fixes the problem, as rather than taking a noticeable fraction of a frame, the game can load whatever it wanted in less time than it would have rendered a frame, so it isn't noticeable to you.

    The other benefit of an SSD for gaming is if something other than the game decides to do something stupid and access your hard drive a bunch.  This could mean Windows causing trouble.  It might be anti-virus software, or something else you have running in the background.  This can kill your frame rate until the other program has done what it wanted, or until you find out what program is causing trouble and shut it down.  If this happens at an inconvenient time in a game, you die.

    Unless, of course, you had an SSD.  Then Windows or whatever program does something stupid, but it grabs the data it needs off of the SSD so quickly that you don't notice any change in the frame rate.  The game keeps running smoothly, and you don't even notice that anything was amiss.  A sufficiently stupid program might hog processor cycles or Internet bandwidth and still cause problems that way, but that's far less common.

    So the main advantage of an SSD is speed.  There are other advantages, too.  First, an SSD is nearly indestructible.  A hard drive has a drive head hovering nanometers above platters rotating furiously at 120 revolutions per second.  If the drive head runs into the platter, it's called a head crash, and the hard drive is dead and your data is gone.  If that sounds precarious, then that's because it is.  Don't shake it while in use.

    An SSD has no moving parts, and hence, no moving parts that can fail.  You can shake an SSD or drop it or whatever while in use and it doesn't matter.  This is a huge deal in laptops which tend to get dropped every now and then.  In desktops, it's not so important, as you usually don't drop a desktop case while the computer is running.

    Another advantage of an SSD is that it is dead silent.  Being free of the annoying hum of a hard drive appeals to some people and not others.

    Yet another advantage of an SSD is that they use virtually no power.  In a desktop, this doesn't matter so much.  In a laptop, using an SSD instead of a hard drive might extend the battery life by half an hour.

    So if solid state drives are so wonderful, then why doesn't everyone use them?  As you've presumably seen, the issue is the price tag.  Hard drives can be had for around $0.07/GB.  Solid state drives cost closer to $2/GB.  Still, even if you need 1 TB of storage, you don't need a 1 TB SSD.  What some people do, and what I'm recommending for you, is to get a small SSD for the OS and main programs, and a large hard drive for whatever else you need.

    Anything on the SSD will get all of the speed benefits, while anything on the hard drive won't.  For files that are generally only loaded one at a time, such as videos, music, or pictures, being on a slow hard drive doesn't matter.  For programs that you hardly ever run, being on the hard drive won't matter so much.  Put the OS, web browsers, and whatever programs you commonly run on the SSD, and they'll be fast.  I'd put whatever games you play the most on the SSD, too, though you might have to economize and uninstall a game you haven't played in a few months to make room for others.

    You could, if you like, install a program on an SSD and use it for a while, then uninstall it and put it on the hard drive, and use it for a while again.  For a lot of programs, you'll be amazed at the difference.

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