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Yet Another Help-Me-Build-a-New-Computer Thread

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Case: $90 for COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP.
CPU: $220 for Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core.
GPU: $170 for ASUS EAH6850 DC/2DIS/1GD5/V2 Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16.
-Deozaan (July 21, 2011, 03:23 PM)
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I just went through this, and with a similar level of involvement.  I've snipped the areas I'll talk about...

1. I have this case, and it's awesome!  It's to a large extent plastic, but it doesn't have that plasticy feel; it's very solid, while not being as heavy as some other cases.  The lights are great(they aren't really christmas lighty, and can be turned off), and it was very easy to work on.
2. I got the i5-2400 for about $60 less.  I actually did some comparisons, and the difference between the two wasn't worth it to me, looking at the benchmarks.  Looking at newegg now, they don't have a deal like the one I was able to get, so I guess you're looking at a difference of $25 which isn't that much money.  But if you can find a similar deal, I'd say don't exclude that one.
3. I bought this exact same video card.  It's worked well in all of the games that I've played (and of course otherwise too).  It's in the sweet spot of price vs. performance for me; I benchmarked it also against similarly priced cards, and it compared favorably, even against higher priced cards.

but hyperthreading actually makes a real difference, sometimes as much as 20% additional performance for heavily multithreaded tasks.-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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It's definitely heaploads better than the HT from the Pentium4 days, but it's still not perfect - and developers still struggle to thread applications and games efficiently. I still haven't seen any games that have been able to efficiently use more than 2 cores, and I kinda doubt we'll see full quadcore parallelization before current i7s are old hat. It's a guess, and I could be wrong, but I wouldn't spend too much extra $$$ for 'future-proofing' in such uncertain areas.

You also have to keep in mind that i7 means triple-channel memory, which means changes in your RAM setup (IMHO 6GB is a bit on the low side for a powerhouse machine, so you'd start with 3x4GB instead of 2x4GB - not THE biggest cash difference, but it all adds up).

Since you mention 3D, this may well be applicable to you. I know it is for me. It is also becoming increasingly relevant for high-end games.-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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That's probably more likely to scale well than games :) - what kind of 3D soft do you use, and how much additional benefit do you see between HT disabled and enabled?

And, although upgrading later would be easy, unlike say a hard drive where you can have multiple and just upgrade and move your old one into a slave position for extra storage, when you do a CPU upgrade the old one is either wasted, sold *very* cheaply, or you need to buy a bunch more parts to make it useful.-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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Not to mention that socket types change, and when you're in the position where you want to upgrade, the old socket type has been phased out and you'll have to pay out of your nose for one of those "legacy" CPUs, unless you can find a demo model. (Friend of mine just upgraded his LGA775 to a Q9550 - he was lucky to find a demo model).

However I don't know if Intel's GPU tech in particular supports OpenCL, and it certainly doesn't support CUDA, so unless support for the integrated GPUs improves in GP-GPU apps it may never actually be that practical as far as actual applications that can use that config.-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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Intels integrated GPU is relatively low-end, and doesn't have a LOT of GPGPU muscle. It doens't support CUDA, but the jury is still out wrt. what's going to win (for a discrete card I'd get something with CUDA support, but the introduction of GPGPU capabilities in both GL and (especially) DX is reassuring). The intel GPU can deliver fast transcodes, though. I still don't see integrated GPU as a big selling point (except if your needs are modest enough to not need a discrete GPU), but it's a nice extra I wouldn't mind being able to utilize. Especially if "switchover" is supported on desktops like on some laptops (ie, let the discrete GPU go to power savings mode when graphics Ooomph isn't needed for great power (and thus heat) savings).

Faster RAM will make virtually no difference unless you're overclocking-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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Or are using integrated GPU, or are using a lot of CPU cores :)

They give you a nice tangible boost in some of the things that are most traditionally slow in computer use, so the improvement in "feel" is great. *But*, they will not do much to improve actual computational performance, e.g. game frame rates, 3D rendering time, etc. Neither will they make a big difference for dealing with large files unless the file happens to be on the SSD (and with price/GB at this point, that's unlikely).-JavaJones (July 22, 2011, 04:18 PM)
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Very true - but there's still something about SSDs that make your computing experience feel a lot different. A lot of minor load-time annoyances that are removed. It's stuff that's often in the half-a-second-saved range, and shouldn't matter that much, but I feel a lot happier when using a SSD-equipped system.

Of course it also depends a lot on your workload. If you mainly deal with large files and mostly sequential access, I'd say that a SSD don't make THAT big a difference. Sure, you'll get 200MB/s instead of a decent HDD's 100MB/s... but it doens't matter that much. I wouldn't put big data files on a SSD for 'normal' use. But for launching apps, compiling source code (and grepping through large code bases etc), and other scatter-IO tasks... zomg.

If I was going for the Core i7 2600 then the 2600K is only $15 more and I would probably just go for the 2600K.

But the upgrade from the Core i5 2500K to the Core i7 2600K is $95.

(And for the record, the i7 2600(K) processors appear to be dual-channel memory, since my mobo I have selected for the i5 also supports the i7)

However, if I cut my RAM in half down to just 8 GB, then that saves me about $65, which makes the Core i7 2600K "only $30 more" than what I was planning.

Also, I just remembered that I have $25 of NewEgg gift card. So that makes the Core i7 2600K almost exactly as much as I was planning to spend.

On the other hand, I could still save the $95 by sticking with the i5 and that would be about enough to buy an SSD/HHD or UPS or something else in the near future.

Decisions, decisions. . .

As for GPU. I have noticed that a lot of games I play show the nVidia/PhysX logo. On the other hand, it is nice to hear from wraith808 that the card I've pretty much settled on runs well in a similar setup. I like the card's output options (dual DVI, HDMI, and DisplayPort). It also has Eyefinity, which as I understand means it can support as many monitors/displays as it has outputs (so 4 monitors/displays in this case). I only have 2 monitors but the idea of getting a 3rd sometime down the road and being able to use all 3 of them is attractive.


HT is a great feature. I was not a huge fan of it for a long time, but they got it right on the "Core" series and it makes a big difference for my regular work now, which includes heavy 3D rendering with Terragen 2 (my company's software product), as well as just lots of multi-tasking. Multitasking is an area where it helps particularly well because you can have major CPU-using apps assigned to physical cores and still leave 4 "virtual cores" available for general system interaction, an approach which works great and balances performance for demanding tasks with system response nicely.

For Terragen 2, HT gives about a 20% speed boost, sometimes more, on an i7 with 4 cores and 4 HT threads. For gaming here's the theoretical performance benefit:,2418.html
Note the higher core CPUs are top of the list, including models older than the 2500k. 2500k does fairly well, but it's well below the 2600. Again this is theoretical. In most real games the difference is negligible. But since Deo wants this system to last for years, I guarantee you games will start taking more and more advantage of additional cores within its useful life span.

As Deo said, newer i7's are no longer triple channel. Same socket, same motherboard, same number of memory channels as the i5's.

I don't think Intel's current generation of integrated graphics will ever support CUDA, and that's what's used in the vast majority of current GPGPU implementations. Maybe OpenCL, maybe one of the GL or DX integrated versions (which are even further from maturity than OpenCL though, due to ubiquity of their parent standards, may be adopted faster).

You're right that SSDs change the overall experience. Ideally any new build would/could include one. But when price is an issue it's one of the biggest ticket items (to get a decent, performant one, and with reasonable capacity), and in a case like this where the upgrade in other areas is already so big, I think it will be a less important addition *initially*.

Combine that with the reliability issues which are a very important concern and I think going SSD is clearly a difficult and likely very personal decision. For some people it's A-OK to lose their system drive spontaneously and have to recover from backups; they have good backup methodology in place, they're comfortable with restores, they maintain appropriate backup hardware to restore to, etc. This does *not* describe the average person and, given the flakiness we've seen described and reported with SSDs pretty much across the spectrum, I think it's a risk that's honestly not reasonable to *recommend* to most people just yet, unless they're really prepared for and comfortable with the idea of dealing with a failure *and* the performance benefits are going to be noticed. Taking all that into account I see the number of people I'd recommend an SSD to right off as being fairly low for now.


8GB of RAM should be fine to start. $95 is going to quite get you a good SSD, but I assume you meant it would contribute toward saving for one, which is very true. It really depends on what your uses for the system are. If 3D rendering use is extremely minor, then maybe stick with the 2500. Just keep in mind the other points regarding upgrade ease and efficiency (save $100 now, but waste the $200 later if/when you upgrade the CPU, for example).

Most games that support computation on the GPU (for physics or otherwise) support Physx or CUDA only. That's just a simple, unfortunate reality. That being said even with that limitation ATI cards often top the charts for game performance, especially for price/performance ratio. The only time it really matters is with games that stupidly implement a "PhysX-only" mode which allows, for example, "10x the number of particles for explosions!". They look great in this mode, but it only works on Nvidia hardware, and it sucks because faster CPUs, improving graphics cards, etc. mean that high-end and later generation hardware should be able to run at that level just fine, but they can't because it's tied to a specific technology. I think fewer games are pulling that kind of stupidity though and instead just implementing PhysX support for acceleration of otherwise implemented physics systems that can be independently dialed up and down. Maybe some more current gamers can comment on that.

- Oshyan

I don't really do big time hard to do 3D rendering stuff. I play around with Blender from time to time and would like to get into (lowpoly) modeling. So I don't think I'll be too worried about the extra power an i7 could have on that.

I do tend to do quite a bit of multitasking (i.e. opening a bunch of different programs at once) so that might affect performance, but I'm having a hard time comprehending if I'll be able to notice the difference between 4-cores and 4-cores with HT coming from a single core machine. Don't get me wrong, I would really like to have that i7, but I'm still not sure the extra performance is worth the extra price. And if I need more performance I can always overclock the 2500K.

1. I have this case, and it's awesome!  It's to a large extent plastic, but it doesn't have that plasticy feel; it's very solid, while not being as heavy as some other cases.  The lights are great(they aren't really christmas lighty, and can be turned off), and it was very easy to work on.-wraith808 (July 22, 2011, 04:35 PM)
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Is the case noisy or quiet or what?


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