gaming / htpc system

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

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Darxus
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gaming / htpc system

Post by Darxus » Mon Dec 26, 2005 1:46 pm

http://www.chaosreigns.com/dancer/

There's my plans. I would love input.

I'd like to think I've been very thorough in explaining my selctions.

teknerd
Posts: 378
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:33 pm

Post by teknerd » Mon Dec 26, 2005 3:20 pm

a few tips:
cpu: spend the extra 20 bucks and get the dual core 3800+, the performance difference is wonderful (you'll really notice it even with small things like playing music while surfing the net). While the single core one is faster in sheer benchmarks and games, you'll notice the dual core's benefits more (its perceptively faster). Also the dual core will be good for htpc stuff, expecially if you do any post-processing.
graphics cooling: go for the zalman vf-700, it;s slightly better with a better sonic signature (keep in mind either one you get, you're gonna want to undervolt to keep really quiet)
hard drives: the hard drive choices are fine. but a few notes about raid. first striping is RAID 0, mirroring is RAID 1. Anyway, don't expect a super performance boost that will blow everything away. for a desktop user there really isnt a big difference, but you do run a higher risk of losing all your data, just something to think about.
btw, check out monarchcomputer.com. Their prices are better than newegg's.
[img]http://tinyurl.com/rqlff[/img]
[size=75]Main Rig: X2-4200+ | XP-120 | A8N-SLI Premium | 2GB RAM | XFX 6600GT w/VF700 | 74GB Raptor & 320GB 3200JD | P180 | SmartPower II 500W | 2x Dell 1704FPV (Digital)
Media Center: Athlon XP-M 2500+ @ 2.2GHz | ALX800 w/92mm Panaflo | 1GB RAM | 40GB WD | SLK3000B | Modulated, Fan-Swapped 380S PSU
[/size]

jackylman
Posts: 784
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Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Post by jackylman » Mon Dec 26, 2005 4:10 pm

Get a P150 and then you can get the Neo430 you want.

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Mon Dec 26, 2005 5:48 pm

teknerd:

Interesting, I didn't realize the dual core would be better in any way I'd notice. I'll probably go with that then, although of course I need to try to find smore more direct comparisons. HTPC in my case will probably mostly be playing DVDs (proper upsampling to 720p over DVI-D).

Venting directly out of the case is a large part of why I want the nv silencer.

I'm very glad to hear you don't think that pair of drives is a terrible idea. I realize striping/raid0 isn't going to give me huge throughput benifits and increases my risk of dataloss, but I've wanted to do this for so many years and this is the best excuse I've had (okay my raid1 web server was better).

I actually did try to check monarch's prices, failed to find compnents quickly, and then forgot about it. Thanks for the reminder.


jackylman:

I believe I'd rather have a pcp&c and a p180 than a neo430, but I will go read the review. I buy the thermal seperation concept.

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:07 pm

teknerd:

I checked the prices for the 5 most expensive components, monarch's prices were higher than newegg's or the same for all of them (graphics card, cpu, ram, case, motherboard).

teknerd
Posts: 378
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2004 5:33 pm

Post by teknerd » Mon Dec 26, 2005 6:09 pm

really, wow, usually when i buy from them they are 5-10% cheaper than newegg. well prices always fluctuate.
[img]http://tinyurl.com/rqlff[/img]
[size=75]Main Rig: X2-4200+ | XP-120 | A8N-SLI Premium | 2GB RAM | XFX 6600GT w/VF700 | 74GB Raptor & 320GB 3200JD | P180 | SmartPower II 500W | 2x Dell 1704FPV (Digital)
Media Center: Athlon XP-M 2500+ @ 2.2GHz | ALX800 w/92mm Panaflo | 1GB RAM | 40GB WD | SLK3000B | Modulated, Fan-Swapped 380S PSU
[/size]

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Mon Dec 26, 2005 7:09 pm

jackylman:

Wait, the P150 is only available in white? No freaking way.

AHjota
Posts: 27
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Location: SC, USA

Post by AHjota » Mon Dec 26, 2005 10:02 pm

If you like the P150 except for the color -- a little bit of paint shouldn't break the bank.
[size=75]KIWI: Abit KN8 Ultra | Opty 165 w. CnQ | AMD heatpipe@7V | 2GB DDR500 GSkill HZ | Samsung SP1614C | eVGA 7600GT | Audigy2ZS | Antec 3700AMB, rear YL12cm@12V | Enermax Liberty 400W
DURIAN: Abit IS7 (NB fan off) | P4 2.8C@3.4GHz | Zalman 7000AlCu@7V | 1GB DDR400 Geil Golden Dragon | Maxtor 6Y120P0 | ATI 9500Pro | generic ATX case, rear YL8cm@7V | Antec SP350, rear fan only[/size]

stupid
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Location: NYC, NY

Post by stupid » Tue Dec 27, 2005 7:32 am

I figured I will drop in my 2 cents since I am also building a new PC as well. First of all, if you are not in too much of a rush, the Athlon 64 X2 5000+ is expected to come out in Q1 2006 for a little more than what the X2 4800+ is selling for right now. Once it is released it is expected that all of the high end A64 and A64 X2 will drop in price. This is a link to a site which lists the expected price drops, but is unconfirmed since it is based on an internal document. The 13% expected drop on the X2 3800+ should help. I myself am eyeing the X2 4600+.

As for the video card, you can get a 7800GT for less than $300 if you are willing to stray away Asus. Two good cards are EVGA and XFX, both offer lifetime warranties, but XFX sweetens the pot a bit by offering "double warranties," which means that if you give/sell the card to another person, that new owner will also qualify for the lifetime warranty. This makes it easier to sell an older card. Wouldn't you feel more comfortable buying a used component while recieving a warranty? Many 7800GTs are already overclocked when sold as retail; in a normal 7800GT the core runs at 400MHz, the highest overclocked 7800GT that I've seen is running at 470MHz. Anandtech did a mini review of three different 7800GTs running at different speed. The reults were the 2 overclocked 7800GTs gave about 10% boost over the reference speed, and very little difference between the core speeds of 450MHz, and 470MHz.

I am not familiar with setting up a RAID, but were I to choose a hard drive I would select a Samsung Spinpoint since they are known for being very quiet. I would assume you can pair it up with the WD that you have, but of course it would be best to setup a RAID with two identical drives.

I think for the rig you want to build the PC P&C 360 should be fine. If and when you have an SLI set, you will need to upgrade the PSU since 360W is definitely not enough for two 7800GTs.

As for the motherboard, I would get the DFI LANPARTY UT nF4 SLI-DR Expert since it is designed for overclocking while still be capable of using Cool 'n Quiet. This MB is capable of doing both at the same time because of it's unqiue BIOS setup. Basically you assign a % increase to the CPU voltage when you OC the CPU to maintain stability. When Q'nC kicks in the voltage is decreased/increased based on the load plus % voltage, thus maintaining stability when CPU goes from mininum speed to maximum speed. Unfortunately for me this feature is only on this particular DFI MB, since I don't plan on building an SLI rig (I'm not addicted to games that much), I can't justify spending an extra $60 - $70 over a non-SLI MB.

Talorc
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Location: Perth, Western Australia

Post by Talorc » Tue Dec 27, 2005 8:49 am

Hey Darxus,

I am also building a new system, and a lot of your choices are very close to mine.

Some things I would suggest:

1. RAID 0 / striping. So do NOT bother. I did this a while back on an EpoX board that had a RAID controller. After the SECOND damn time the RAID wiped out and I had to reinstall everything, I didnt bother resetting up the RAID and just left them as two HDD. I noticed zero decrease in performance. There are some enthusiast websites out there that have done more scientific studies on this, and come to the exact same conclusion - RAID 0 / striping does squat for system performance. Plus every time the system blue screens or hangs you sit crossing your fingers hoping the RAID didnt wipe out.

RAID 1 / mirroring, I can agree with if you are worried about data loss. If 250gb is enough storage for you, and the very very small chance of data loss on a modern HDD you can live with, just stick with one HDD.

Also - Are you sure you can RAID together a Ultra ATA and SATA device? My previous experience with the EpoX board was that the RAID / SATA controller chip was quite seperate from the Ultra ATA controller. Perhaps this is different now, as the SATA was an "add on" to the base chipset, and now it is included in the chip set? Maybe something to check up on anyway.

2. SLI - I dont think you should regard SLI as a future upgrade path. If you want to SLI right now then go for it. If you think you might "in the future", I dont think it is worth it. Simply put a single 7800 GT or GTX right now out performs the previous generation 6800 Ultra in SLI. Fast forward to ~ 2 years from now (when I am guessing the 7800 GT will become more middle of the road and you need to upgrade to play Call of Duty 3 or whatnot), and whatever the next generation card is will probably also outperform 2 x 7800 GT in SLI. So you could just drop a new card in in place of the 7800GT. The other thing you have to worry about is actually being able to GET a 7800GT in 2 years time. It may be a discontinued part in favour of some other 7800 flavour. (7800 GS or something). I think some of the previous 6 generation owners face that problem now.

I guess though that a second 7800GT in 2 years time will be cheaper than a single "next generation", which is a point in favour of the SLI upgrade path.

3. Not going SLI means you can scale back on the cost of your motherboard. The NForce 4 Ultra Mobo chipset contains the same goodies as the SLI chipset, just no SLI :-). With this chipset you can either go for maybe

- a Asus A8N-E (which needs the screamer fan on the northbridge ripped off and replaced with a Zalman)
- an Abit AN8 Ultra (as suggested by depravedone in my system build post). This one comes with stock passive northbridge cooling, so an added bonus of no Mobo warranty voiding!

Plus, looking at the pic posted (on my thread) it should "fit" everything into/onto your board, provided a Scythe Ninjo doesnt take up a great deal more space than a Zalman 7700. (piccies at Big Heat sink pics)

- Gigabyte also makes some NForce 4 Ultra boards with passive cooling. I didnt really look into them though.
- Check the usual suspect enthusiast sites for other (non passive cooled) mobos. I keep seeing the MSI and Epox ones mentioned as pretty decent. I am on a personal EpoX embargo for an upgrade or 2 though, as the last 2 boards of mine by EpoX had the capacitors crap out. (And a friends as well)

4. I second the nod towards a cheaper 7800 GT, my personal choice is a XFX.

You have brought up some interesting discussion points re the Athlon 3500+, and how it aint much better than a 3200+ so save your cash... I will have to look inot this a bit further (or stretch to a San Diego core 3800+ or an X2)

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:22 am

stupid:

I don't think I want to wait months for the price drop. Hell, I think I'd be more likely to wait till Q2 for the socket M2 release, but I don't want to do that either. It's nice to see a date on when they're going to stop making the socket 939's though (early 2007).

Yeah, I've looked at other people's 7800GTs a couple times. Brand loyalty can be a pain, but I think I'm going to stick with it. Plus their blue cards are prettier. I'll read that anandtech article first though.
stupid wrote:of course it would be best to setup a RAID with two identical drives.
Only if you're doing RAID0/striping, for any of the redundant types it's better to have drives as different as possible to reduce the chances of them failing at the same time.

Thanks for the feedback on the PCP&C 360. Yeah I realize I'll need to replace it if I go SLI.

I've looked at the DFI Lanparties, and know about the CNC / overclocking thing - nice. But I'm not planning to overclock, I think the cpu placement won't be nearly as good for the P180 / ninja combo, and the colors are ugly.

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Tue Dec 27, 2005 9:25 am

stupid:

I don't think I want to wait months for the price drop. Hell, I think I'd be more likely to wait till Q2 for the socket M2 release, but I don't want to do that either. It's nice to see a date on when they're going to stop making the socket 939's though (early 2007).

Yeah, I've looked at other people's 7800GTs a couple times. Brand loyalty can be a pain, but I think I'm going to stick with it. Plus their blue cards are prettier. I'll read that anandtech article first though.
stupid wrote:of course it would be best to setup a RAID with two identical drives.
Only if you're doing RAID0/striping, for any of the redundant types it's better to have drives as different as possible to reduce the chances of them failing at the same time.

Thanks for the feedback on the PCP&C 360. Yeah I realize I'll need to replace it if I go SLI.

I've looked at the DFI Lanparties, and know about the CNC / overclocking thing - nice. But I'm not planning to overclock, I think the cpu placement won't be nearly as good for the P180 / ninja combo, and the colors are ugly.

Darxus
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Post by Darxus » Wed Dec 28, 2005 10:39 am

Talorc:

Thanks a lot for that particular input on striping. I'll at least put off getting another drive until I hear something good about the nforce4's raid0.

Yes, the nforce4 can raid across both. Not sure which review I read that in specifically, but it also says it in the manual if not as clearly. The nforce4 is the controller chip for both UATA and SATA, and also the RAID controller.

I'm not absolutely counting on SLI as a good upgrade path, but I'm happy to have the option, especially with the number of people I've seen picking this board without intending to ever do SLI, even people who get ATI cards. Man Call of Duty 2 looks pretty, hope they get the cheating fixed.

I'm really doubting that any of the passive northbridge coolers (other than the Premium and A8N32's stock heatpipes) are going to fit with the nv silencer.

Still a little unsure of which 7800GT to buy.


Thank you all very much for your input, I expect to be ordering in the next ~48 hours.

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