Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Ordered a new computer

Since decades now I buy a new computer every two years. I give my wife the 2-year old PC, and throw out her 4-year old one. The 2-year cycle used to be determined by the speed of technological development, and a necessity to play the latest games. That stopped to be strictly necessary a few years ago, but I'm keeping up the cycle out of self-indulgence. So I just ordered a new computer with the following specs:

Core i7 2600k 3.4G processor
Asus P8P67 motherboard
Geforce GTX 570 graphics card (1280 MB memory)
2 x 120 GB Vertex SSD HD in Raid 0
Western Digital 2TB Caviar Black HD
DVD recorder 12x SATA
800W PSU
NZXT Tempest Evo case
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

The most visible speed improvement of this new computer will be the 240 GB solid state hard drive as the system drive. Whenever you actually wait for your computer to do something, like booting up, chances are the hard drive is the speed limiting factor these days. Solid state drives are still rather expensive (the 2 TB regular hard drive costs only 30% of the 240 GB SSD), but easily cut boot time in half. And I took one big enough to enable me to put some games on it, reducing load times.

I also asked specifically for a larger case this time. The previous computer only had 8" of space for the graphics card, and the newer cards can be 10" to 12" long. That came to haunt me when I wanted to upgrade my graphics card, so this time I wanted to make sure I have room for improvement. Literally.

The CPU and graphics card are rather high-end. Which is a bit silly if I consider what kind of games I'm currently playing or planning to play. This is way beyond the system requirements for SWTOR. But with computers being my main hobby, I might as well spoil myself. So what do you think of this system configuration?
It sounds good! I just built one myself but more of a budget system with a GTX460 and an AMD 4xPhenom. I could not afford to get what you got. Sounds like you will be able to play whatever you want on max. for quite awhile!
Great looking build! What PSU are you using, by the way? 800W is all well and good, but unless it's 80PLUS B/S/G you might be doing something wrong.
The PSU is a Silent Pro M Gold 800W from Coolermaster.
You won't regret the SSD. Not only does it improve system performance hugely, it's good for games too.

When I got one during Wrath, all my Dalaran lag vanished instantly - it seems a lot of it was dues to the strain on the system of loading all those extra textures.
I woul dnever buy the high end components. Always buy th "high end" of the middle field.

This way you save a lot of money and can upgrade the next year to the next "upper middle field" component and still spend less on the total.

I agree however with the SSD's. I am never going back!
Just make sure the motherboard is not from the first production run. It's been quite awhile since it came out so they should all have been returned by now though.

Intel identified an issue in their chipset for the sandybridge processors when they were first released that would lead to degradation in the performance of the 3Gbps SATA ports that could eventually lead to them not working all together. I had to return my board in April due to this, as Intel recalled all boards from all manufacturers from the first run. The fixed versions filtered intothe system late may, but you just never know these days :)
I wonder : What is the DVD Recorder for ? Does people still burn DVDs ?
What is the DVD Recorder for ? Does people still burn DVDs ?

Well, I still have games and other software on DVDs, and it would be silly to buy a DVD drive that can't burn them as well, given how cheap they are. But you're right that I'm not burning all that much any more these days, mostly music CDs for my car CD player.
You should check if configuring those SSD drives as a raid array breaks TRIM support. It usually does, though there may be new drivers who can handle it.
If it does prevent TRIM, I would suggest keeping them separate, one for the OS and the other for games.
Ditto to all the people who love their SSD. I put an Intel 160GB SSD in my 2.5-year-old machine, and the WoW speedup is incredible, both in load times and performance. I can dual-box in full resolution on the same machine now. The only downside is that my machine crashes more frequently now.
Pretty much what I'm running - 2500K instead of the 2600K, but the same mobo (Extreme ed), same SSD's, HD, etc...

What CPU cooler are you going to use? I recommend the Noctua NH-C14, my 2500K over-clocked to 5.2Ghz with no issues on that thing ;) Scaled it back to 4.5Ghz to balance the voltage, but the Sandy Bridge overclocks like mental.
I think that an i5 2500k (I have this myself) is more than enough for gaming the next 2-3 years :P

As for the graphic card I could easily go for an AMD 6950 2GB except if you have plans for a 3d game experience.

but in overall is very powerful!I am like you, computer is my hobby and always have a powerful pc that don't need to...I play world of warcraft and I will play Guild wars 2 and swtor...

I think you will enjoy Kyrim and Battlefield 3 with this pc though :P Battlefield 3 it is said to be a next - generation pc game as regard to graphics
To be honest, 2 x SSDs in Raid 0 is a bit of overkill. The benefit will be very minimal. I would suggest using one of them in your wife's PC as the gain there will be much, much higher.
My PC has passed the 3 years mark but still plays all new games.

I'm planning to upgrade soon though. Especially SSD's look like a great new technology.
Is raid 0 necessary if you have SSDs? will it really improve performance? I have 1 ssd and find it fast (albeit not fast enough... i want instantaneous boots and loads)

Just wondering
I see that someone already touched on the TRIM issue. You will see a slow decline in performance. I don't know of any drivers that allow Windows 7 to do a TRIM on a RAID array.
Good idea going for a solid state drive!
I invested in an SSD around 2 years ago when i built my current build. Worth every penny the boot speed was and still is incredibly fast. Will be even better with RAID 0
Only question would be who built it and are they overclocking the CPU for you. I had mine shipped overclocked to 4.2ghz (still under warranty) and have not had a single issue.

Also I'm guessing you are going with air cooling rather than liquid?

Other than that a great system. Too bad Skyrim makes you sick, that would be a great "system test" game when it's out. I don't remember, but does Bioshock also make you sick? If not Infinity would work when it's out.
The system specs look good, but if you still have time:

Go with an i5 2500k instead.

Get this cpu cooler:

Either way you'll be destroying any games you come across for the next few years.
I like! I like! The only comment I had was whether or not you are using tri-channel DDR3 ram. If so, you would typically have 3 memory modules (e.g., 3x2GB, 3x3GB, etc.). Ignore this if you are using dual-channel ram.

You will LOVE the SSD more and more! Good choice on that purchase!
It's not bad looking, but there's a couple things to consider.

First, I wouldn't run the SSDs in RAID, because if you lose one, you'll lose everything. Buy one to put your OS on, and then look at platter drives along the lines of Western Digital Black series drives. I'd use the money saved here for another 8GB of RAM.

Next up, the 2600K. If you're not going to be doing any heavy video editing or processing, I'd drop it back to a 2500K. You can easily overclock the 2500K to 4.4Ghz, and it's more than enough for anything currently on the market. On the GTX570, I can't say much to that without knowing what resolution you're running, or how many monitors you have. If you're running a single monitor at 1920X1200 or 1920X1080, then I'd actually recommend swapping it for a 6970. They're similarly priced, but the 6970 generally performs better across the board. But if you're running at a lower resolution, you can go down to a 6950 or 560ti.

Next up, the PSU. Given everything you're running, you could probably scale back some and save here as well. Seasonic makes a well regarded 650W that can be had for not horribly much.

Last, the case. I'd recommend splurging here on one of the Corsair cases, either the 650D or the 600T. Both are fantastic to work in, and exceptionally roomy for accommodating the longer graphics cards.

Cheers, enjoy it :D
Looks good, Tobold! I'm actually building a new system in the next couple of weeks, too, that will be pretty similar.

I'm curious, though. Why did you opt for the i7 2600k? Don't get me wrong, that's a powerhouse of a CPU, but from what I've read the main benefit to that is hyperthreading, which isn't utilized much in games. The extra power will surely help in programs like Photoshop or Premiere, but for gaming the popular choice seems to be the i5-2500k.

I ask because I'm still undecided whether the extra $100 for the i7 will truly be worth it.
Looking sweet, i wanna hear what it can do with those 2 SSD drives, damn that should do a HUGE difference.

I bought a 1tb caviar black WD drive myself and the start up of my not january 2008 pc is significant better, less than 40 sec start up, it's so enjoyable to have a good HDD. I'm getting a new PC like every 4 years. Will be getting a new one this winter.

My last question/addition is, why get Geforce GTX 570 and not Geforce GTX 560ti? More bang for the buck and about the same speed.
Oh, thoughts on SSDs: In general, they do give a performance boost, but I wouldn't expect it to be as big an impact as you'd expect. For the most part, it'll greatly increase your boot speed, but beyond that, if you're running 8 or even 16GB of RAM, Win7's smart caching can dramatically lessen the impact.

@Syeric: That is indeed the case, and from talking with folks who do have an i7-2600K and have also used an i5-2500K, there's not enough of a difference to justify the extra money for the i7.
As an indulgence it is great. The main thing I would change is the 2600k. As someone else said, your not going to get any performance for gaming out of it versus the 2500k. The only difference is hyperthreading which only apply to floating point calculations, which isn't what games take advantage of. It really only kicks in when you do something you would consider a workstation tasks.
Sounds like a great setup, although I'd echo what others are saying and consider dropping back the processor to an i5 2500k. The motherboard is also a great choice as well.

Have you looked into the new Z68 motherboards? If you're going SSD you might want to look into the Smart Response technology and see if it's worthwhile for you.

Other than that, have fun with it! Of course, you may end up getting a new monitor to go with it ;)
Minor change: I called the guy building the computer for me and told him to not put the two SSD drives in raid 0. I'll just keep them as two separate hard drives, one with the operating system on it, the other with the programs. If one crashes, I only need to reinstall that one, not both OS and software.

I agree that the 2600k might me slightly over the top. But the argument appears to be that "hey, you could have gotten nearly the same performance for $100 less", not that anybody believes the 2500k is actually faster than the 2600k, right?

Same thing for the graphics card. I did not try to maximize bang for buck with this computer. I didn't go all out (no GTX 580), but often took the more expensive option for a not-so-huge benefit.

I'm not saying that this is ideal. Of course it depends very much on your personal financial situation. But I had the money, and the alternative (investing it in stock or bonds) didn't really look all that attractive at the moment.
I agree with not having the SSDs in Raid 0 - not worth it. Having them separate make much more sense.
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