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Building My First Rig - Need Advice


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#1
SalmonGod

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I'm a gamer and digital artist working primarily with ZBrush, and I'm in the market for a new computer. To keep costs low, I really want to build my own, but I'm not very hardware savvy. I'm having a lot of trouble finding a good starting point for comparing components and their compatibilities.

Could anybody recommend some basic components for me, or at least point me to a well organized and up-to-date hardware guide?

I'd like to keep my budget under $1600, and performance with ZBrush is my #1 priority. Other than that, I'd just like to run games decently well for the next couple years. Maxing stuff out is fun, but not a priority for me, except in ZBrush of course. Word in the ZBrush community is that RAM is essential. The number of polygons I can push in my digital sculpting is directly related to my RAM. With this in mind, I'm planning to make the jump to Vista x64 in order to break the ~3 GB RAM ceiling. ZBrush also has great support for multiple processors (they were boasting support for 256 cores with their latest release), and supposedly makes no use of graphics cards.

I'd also like my computer to be quiet, as my current system is pretty loud and has been driving me crazy, plus I keep my sugar gliders in the same room. I sometimes wonder if the never ending whurring and buzzing causes them stress.

Any help is greatly appreciated.
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#2
SalmonGod

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I've done some reading and searching and here's what I've come up with so far... my biggest problems are going to be case, motherboard, power supply, and cooling as I know nothing about the specs or compatibility issues for those markets

Hard Drive $180
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Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache Serial ATA150 Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136012


Memory $120
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G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231122


CPU $270
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Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
http://stores.tomsha...sterid=31693422


Video Card $250
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PNY XLR8 GeForce 8800 GT Video Card
http://stores.tomsha...sterid=53144561

any comments/suggestions?
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#3
jackflash1991

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Hard Drive $180
------------
Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache Serial ATA150 Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136012

The 10,000 RPM hard drives are not worth the money I would stick with a 7,200 RPM one. In fact some 7,200 RPM drives outperform the 10,000 RPM Raptor drives.

CPU $270
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Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
http://stores.tomsha...sterid=31693422

A lot of applications are just not ready for Quad core processors. You could save some dough and go with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 or E6850. In a lot of applications they even outperform the Q6600.

Video card is good.

PSU: ~650W. I like the Brand Antec but just make sure you have a quality brand PSU. http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817371001

PS: Welcome to Geeks to Go.

Edited by jackflash1991, 20 November 2007 - 10:58 PM.

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#4
SalmonGod

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the customer reviews typically reported a good reduction in loading times with the 10k rpm hard drives... what should I look for then, besides storage capacity?

I'm going with a quad core because ZBrush has a good reputation for multi-core support, and looking at the comparisons on tomshardware, programs with proper support got a really good boost out of quad core... plus I'm sure that support will become more widespread in the 3 years or so that I'll likely have this computer

thanks for suggesting a power supply... any recommendations for a good case, motherboard, or cooling system?
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#5
SalmonGod

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my wife and I have done some more shopping, and this is what we have so far... current total = $1270

am I forgetting anything or making any bad decisions here?

Hard Drive $175
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Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD7500AAKS 750GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16822136131


Memory $120
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G.SKILL 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231122


CPU $270
-------------
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
http://stores.tomsha...sterid=31693422


Video Card $250
-------------
PNY XLR8 GeForce 8800 GT Video Card
http://stores.tomsha...sterid=53144561


Power Supply $115
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Antec True Power Trio TP3-650 ATX12V 650W Power Supply with Three 12V Rails 100 - 240 V
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16817371001


Motherboard $205
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ASUS P5N32-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131073


Case $135
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Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811129021

Edited by SalmonGod, 21 November 2007 - 02:25 AM.

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#6
jackflash1991

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The stock cooling system will be fine. Fans in the case and a fan and heatsink comes with the Q6600 so you are good.

the customer reviews typically reported a good reduction in loading times with the 10k rpm hard drives

http://www23.tomshar...om/storage.html
There is a marginal difference in performance. In fact, you can see the fastest preforming drives are 7,200 RPM.

The Antec 900 is a good case. The case is mainly just personal preference. Just be sure you get a big one so that you do not have to worry about things fitting in and the PC will run cooler with a bigger case.

Mobo:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813127031
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813128059
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131189

I think a lot of people prefer GIGABYTE boards on the forum but I do not really have a preference.

Although you could get an SLI board if you want to go SLI with the 8800GT in the future but I think you will good with any of the the P35 boards.

Edited by jackflash1991, 21 November 2007 - 02:47 PM.

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#7
james_8970

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I think a lot of people prefer GIGABYTE boards on the forum but I do not really have a preference.

They are really all the same. Generally speaking, from those how have used the various brands it goes as follows in terms of overclocking.
Asus - beginner overclocker
Gigabyte - Intermediate overclocker
DFI - Very experienced overclocker

I personally like Gigabyte because of the solid state capacitors and chokes on the board to regulate power and avoid ripple issues (longer CPU life, more stable overclocks).
Though this is slowly becoming the standard now and I have seen it poping up on Asus boards as of late.
James
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#8
Troy

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Also Abit motherboards use solid-state capacitors, they are also an excellent brand and I was very nearly tempted to get the IP35-E instead. If I was purchasing right now, I would have, as it's currently $10 cheaper :) But when I purchased, the Gigabyte was $7 cheaper... :)
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#9
SalmonGod

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after further reading into motherboards based on your responses, I've come across this Gigabyte which seems highly recommended tomshardware and various customer reviews... plus sporting a nifty looking feature set... I really like the prospects for future upgrades... any comments?

my biggest question is -- will this motherboard support DDR2 RAM or would I have to upgrade to DDR3?

$300
GIGABYTE GA-X38T-DQ6 LGA 775 Intel X38 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813128068
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#10
Troy

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Very good board, but takes DDR3 at the moment... Currently an expensive option, and performance is not really justifying the high prices of DDR3 modules as yet...
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#11
jackflash1991

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Yeah as said by Troy DDR3 is not that much faster then DDR2 at the moment and is a lot of money. Later next year DDR3 will be worth the upgrade.

Edited by jackflash1991, 22 November 2007 - 09:46 AM.

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#12
SalmonGod

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are there any good X38 motherboards that support SLI?

if not, how do the P35 or nForce 680i chipsets measure up?
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#13
james_8970

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nVidia will not licence the technology to intel.
So if it's a intel chipset, there will be no SLI support. Therefor P35 does not have SLI support either.
If your looking for a board that supports SLI, you are stuck with the 6x0i boards at the moment.
The 780i boards are going to be released some time next month, though it'll be really hard to find till January.
James
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#14
Troy

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I just remembered that I'd read about that exact board before, it comes in two versions:

GA-X38T-DQ6 = DDR3 version
GA-X38-DQ6 = DDR2 version ($30 cheaper on Newegg)

Depending on exactly how ZBrush works, it may pay to look into a RAID 0 configuration for your hard drives...

Also, I don't think you should be looking into an SLI configuration, you'd be better off getting a single card system - SLI is very extreme for the price/performance ratio. If you want the system to be capable of SLI in the future (buy one card, buy another later), then there's no guarantee that you'll be able to find the exact card you need down the track. You're better off just grabbing the nicest card you can now.
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#15
SalmonGod

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I was considering SLI as a future upgrade option partly because the 8800 GT looks set up to be the staple card of this generation, which I'm guessing will still be around as a cheap low-end card a couple years from now and an easy upgrade if I begin falling behind in game performance... if these are bad guesses or likely unnecessary considerations, then I'll definitely change my mind

what are the other pros and cons of that ASUS 680i board vs the Gigabyte X38 board?... I'm nearly convinced to stick with the Gigabyte, as long as it supports DDR2 RAM... I'm definitely not ready to jump into DDR3 yet

as for RAID 0... is it expensive or difficult to set up?... do you buy hard drives in sets that are pre-configured for it or is it something you just have to know how to do or buy special software for?
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