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New Computer Specs - Input?

melon

MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
#1
I had my thread earlier about getting a Mac Pro or not. I've thought very long and hard about it, and I just don't think I can swing it right now; and if I want to start doing more freelance work, like I want to pursue in 2008, I need something faster sooner rather than later (maybe once I get paid for a nice project, I can switch to a Mac Pro; Intel's Nehalem with hyperthreading makes Penryn seem less enticing anyway ;) ).

Anyway, so my budget target was around $2,000, and here's what I came up with:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 2.4 GHz (Kentsfield) CPU - $280
MSI NX8800 GTS (G92) video card - $385
Asus Striker Extreme (nForce 680i) Motherboard - $300
8GB (4 x 2GB) Corsair XMS2 240-Pin DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) SDRAM - $198 (after rebates)
Thermaltake W0131RU ATX12V / EPS12V 850W Power Supply - $209 (after rebates)
Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM - $175
Western Digital Caviar GP WD10EACS 1TB 5400 to 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM - $270
Logitech G9 Gaming Mouse - $55 (after rebates)
LIAN LI PC-A10B Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $260
M-AUDIO Studiophile AV 40 40 Watts 2.0 Speaker - $150
Creative SB X-Fi Xtreme Audio 7.1 Channels (PCI Express & Vista Certified) - $66

Total: $2348.00

And, last but not least...

Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit) - Full Retail - ~$230 (I get a discount through work ;) )

A few notes:

1) I thought that the CPU was a good balance of price versus performance, so that's why I went with that. Comments and recommendations, though, are welcome.
2) I'm iffy with the specific video card. On one hand, I'd like to start PC gaming again. On the other, I've been using an ATI FireGL card over the last few years, because I do 3D modeling/animation. Does anyone think that a gaming card like that would be a problem, in terms of 3D work? My general instinct is that it shouldn't be a problem at all, as I used to do 3D perfectly fine on an old 128 MB GeForce4 card. I might add a second card later in 2008 for SLI...or maybe I won't. Also, what do you think of MSI as a brand?
3) I know that a lot of people don't like Vista, particularly the 64-bit version, but I also know that if I want to use all 8 GB of my RAM, I need a 64-bit OS. With that, should there be any problems? I think all of the hardware I'm using is compatible with it.
4) As for the power supply, I used to use Antec exclusively, but I get the impression that they have completely gone to hell since I used them last. I get the impression that Thermaltake is a good brand, plus I can get that 750W PSU with a $50 mail-in rebate. Should this PSU suffice, including if I decided to add a second video card later, or should I go for something even beefier?
5) Is the case acceptable? A mid-tower would be nice, because it wouldn't be so large as the full-tower I have now, but I'm willing to bump back up to a full-tower if it would be advisable (that particular case design, which I like quite a bit, also has a full-tower version).
6) The speakers I've chosen are probably a bit unconventional, but I'm tired of these 5.1+ setups, where I feel like I'm being strangled with cords everywhere. I have a pair of these with my Avid Adrenaline that I use at work, and I quite love the sound quality.
7) The Creative sound card I chose, because it was Vista certified, and I hear that onboard audio tends to suck your system resources a bit. I'd like to avoid that this time around.

Just as a summary, I will be using this machine as a general purpose computer that will be doing video editing, motion graphics, and 3D animation/modeling/rendering, with some web development and will have a Linux installation on it too (probably virtualized, rather than dual-boot).

So what do you think?
 
Last edited:

melon

MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
#2
I noticed a lot of computer threads in "Benchmarks and Performance." If I put this in the wrong forum, I apologize and feel free to move this. :p
 
#3
The 8800 GTS is lasts years tech. The 8800 GT is cheaper, faster and quieter. It will shave ~$100 off your price.

Skip the aluminum case. Aluminum is just a scam. The cooling is no better for the system you are building. You need fans, the aluminum thermal conductivity advantage is negligible on a power system. I'd also be leary of putting a high performance system in a mid-tower case. The system needs room for airflow. You can save $160 there.

Antec gone to hell? I am a former Antec fanboy. You are right. avoid them.

Don't sweat the Vista version. With an Ultimate you can install any version you want, including dropping back to XP PRO! (Somebody check me on this I have not read the EULA in about 3 months.)

You probably don't need to go so overkill on the powr supply. Video and CPU power consumption is actually dropping, but on the other hand skimping on PSU's is a bad idea.
 

melon

MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
#4
The 8800 GTS is lasts years tech. The 8800 GT is cheaper, faster and quieter. It will shave ~$100 off your price.
I am aware that Nvidia made the fairly unconventional move of doing a shrink/performance boost and then giving it the same name, but I do think that this GTS card I've chosen is also a shrink/performance boost just like the GT (hence, the "G92" disclaimer). Even with that, would you think it is worth it? The GT is nice, if only because a lot of them seem to only take up a single slot.

Skip the aluminum case. Aluminum is just a scam. The cooling is no better for the system you are building. You need fans, the aluminum thermal conductivity advantage is negligible on a power system. I'd also be leary of putting a high performance system in a mid-tower case. The system needs room for airflow. You can save $160 there.
Admittedly, I was going for the "look" along with the "utility," which is why my case was so expensive. I was trying to go for something kind of minimalist and sleek like one would expect from a Mac Pro (without looking like a clone of one). I'm trying to avoid the PC case archetype, which is usually very bright and gaudy (i.e., like Alienware). Your comments in favor of a full-tower is definitely noted. Maybe I'll do more shopping for a case before I commit to this.

Antec gone to hell? I am a former Antec fanboy. You are right. avoid them.
Good to know.

Don't sweat the Vista version. With an Ultimate you can install any version you want, including dropping back to XP PRO! (Somebody check me on this I have not read the EULA in about 3 months.)
That's interesting. I hadn't heard of that. The reason I was thinking about Vista versus XP x64 is the fact that I imagine that the latter has no drivers.

You probably don't need to go so overkill on the powr supply. Video and CPU power consumption is actually dropping, but on the other hand skimping on PSU's is a bad idea.
What kind of PSU would you think that I'd need with this setup? Admittedly, I don't know what I'd need here.
 

melon

MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
#5
I decided to go to a Thermaltake 700W PSU from an 850W PSU. I dropped more than $100 off the cost, and, looking at reviews, people with far beefier hardware than mine are able to run it well (and it still came with a mail-in rebate).

I'm also thinking of going to a 8800 GT, instead of the GTS, because I'll be able to save some costs, it appears that the new GT is pretty much just as fast as the new GTS, and it will be single-slotted, so it means I won't have to cram as much in.
 
#6
The creative X-Fi doesn't work on vista systems with more than 3GB of ram last time I checked. The Auzentech Prelude has (had) the same issue since it uses creatives drivers. It's worth checking the creative forums to see if this has been fixed.

I can recommend the Asus Xonar D2 in its stead though :)

Edit: Asus have a DS3D to OpenAL/Dolby translator that redirects all audio calls to provide surround too. Creative Alchemy is application specific.
 

melon

MS-DOS 2.0
Political User
#7
The creative X-Fi doesn't work on vista systems with more than 3GB of ram last time I checked. The Auzentech Prelude has (had) the same issue since it uses creatives drivers. It's worth checking the creative forums to see if this has been fixed.

I can recommend the Asus Xonar D2 in its stead though :)

Edit: Asus have a DS3D to OpenAL/Dolby translator that redirects all audio calls to provide surround too. Creative Alchemy is application specific.
That's very interesting, and really makes no logical sense. Why have 64-bit drivers that can only handle 3GB of RAM?

The Xonar D2 looks very interesting, but probably out of my price range for now. So I guess I would be using the onboard audio for a little while, which is not the end of the world!
 
#8

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