Core i7 System Buyers Guide

by Wesley Fink on 2/5/2009 3:00 AM EST
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  • Tacoeater - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    I am thinking about building a system very similar to this. However, I want to break away from MS licensing and tax. If I install a Linux distribution, am I neutering the video card? In particular, I play 2 games: WOW and Civ4. I see that WINE will run these games in linux, but I suspect not at the quality I could play the games at in a Windows environment.

    Does it make sense to install a premium video card in this kind of systemd if I am going to be using Linux as my main OS?

    I am also considering virtualization or dual booting with a min install of WinXP just for these 3 applications. However, I am a noob to virtualization.

    And no, I do not want MS as the main OS while using something like Cygwin or virtualizing a unix environment in Windows. The point is to minimize my use of MS to hopefully get off it completely at some point and choose to use it based on its merits versus needing it for DirectX. For instance, Windows seems to make a media

    BTW, what is the advantage of Vista versus Linux anyways aside from DirectX? Is it driver support?
    Reply
  • nycter - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    I built a very similar system last week and ended up returning that power supply unopened for the smaller one. (850W) The box on my GTX295 recommended a higher amps rating on the 12v rail than this 1000W ps provides according to its box. FYI correct me if I was wrong. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, February 10, 2009 - link

    The GTX 295 has a recommended minimum 12V rating of 46 Amps, the 1000HX is a dual rail design with each rail providing 40 Amps or a total of 80 Amps. The Corsair 850W is a single rail design with a specified 12V rail of 70 Amps.

    The GTX 295 is a dual GPU card and I really doubt there would be any issue with the dual rail 1000HX which has a total 12V Rail capacity of 80 amps. You may want to check out our review of the Corsair 1000HX at http://www.anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.a...">http://www.anandtech.com/casecoolingpsus/showdoc.a....
    Reply
  • MadBoris - Sunday, February 08, 2009 - link

    Thanks for the guide AT & Wesley!
    Glad to know what good components are around today and their prices.

    Core I7 is too prohibitive in price even on Entry for the performance gains I would get. The motherboard and CPU are generally just plain too expensive still.
    $200 - $300 for a mobo, got to still be kidding me.

    I really chose a great time to pull the trigger for my last upgrade, a couple years ago, got a great Gigabyte 965p DS3 mobo and C2D 1.8 w/ 4GB DDR2 for very little $. Updated to a Q6600 quad about a year ago at $200 and am at 3GHZ OC.

    Core I7 performance is not that attractive compared to when I was going from a P4 to C2D. Maybe when the next USB spec and next SATA spec comes out and next gen SSD's are attractive enough then upgrading to a new mobo will be worth considering. I will be tempted around Windows 7 release time, I hope the landscape changes significantly with an upgrade making more sense then.

    There's no reason for me to consider an upgrade until the next "sweet spot" to upgrade comes up. But these articles all help someone hone in on knowing when the next sweet spot with performance/price and longevity comes up.
    Reply
  • Bolas - Saturday, February 07, 2009 - link

    Maybe it would look something like this. I'm thinking I would probably want a larger case and larger power supply, though.

    From Newegg:

    Qty. Image Product Description Unit Price Savings Total Price

    Update SILVERSTONE FT01-BW Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Uni-body Computer Case - Retail
    Model #:FT01-BW
    Item #:N82E16811163121
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $239.99 -$10.00 Instant $229.99

    Update ASUS P6T6 WS Revolution LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    Model #:P6T6 WS Revolution
    Item #:N82E16813131358
    Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    Out Of Stock
    ETA: 2/9/2009 12:00:00 AM
    Auto-Notify
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $369.99 $369.99

    Update EVGA 017-P3-1291-AR GeForce GTX 295 1792MB 896 (448 x 2)-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
    Model #:017-P3-1291-AR
    Item #:N82E16814130449
    Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $504.99 -$15.00 Save $979.98

    Update CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX 1000W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
    Model #:CMPSU-1000HX
    Item #:N82E16817139007
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Mail-in Rebate

    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $279.99 -$20.00 Instant $259.99

    Update Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 965 Nehalem 3.2GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601965 - Retail
    Model #:BX80601965
    Item #:N82E16819115200
    Return Policy:Processors (CPUs) Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $1,009.99 $1,009.99

    Update Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH160G1C5 160GB SATA Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail
    Model #:SSDSA2MH160G1C5
    Item #:N82E16820167015
    Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $779.00 -$50.00 Instant $1,458.00

    Update mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 998679 - Retail
    Model #:998679
    Item #:N82E16820226030
    Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $204.99 $409.98

    Update Western Digital WD20EADS 2TB SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
    Model #:WD20EADS
    Item #:N82E16822136344
    Return Policy:Limited 30-Day Return Policy
    Out Of Stock
    Auto-Notify
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $299.99 $599.98

    Update Logitech G15 2-Tone USB Wired Standard Gaming Keyboard - Retail
    Model #:920-000379
    Item #:N82E16823126034
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Mail-in Rebate

    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $89.99 $89.99

    Update LG W3000H-Bn Black 30" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor - Retail
    Model #:W3000H-Bn
    Item #:N82E16824005115
    Return Policy:LCD Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $1,249.99 -$150.00 Instant $1,099.99

    Update Logitech G5 2-Tone 7 Buttons 1 x Wheel USB Laser Mouse - Retail
    Model #:910-000093
    Item #:N82E16826104076
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $49.99 $49.99

    Update LG Black LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD Burner SATA Model GGC-H20LK - OEM
    Model #:GGC-H20LK
    Item #:N82E16827136154
    Return Policy:Limited 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $124.99 -$15.00 Instant $109.99

    Update LG Black 6X Blu-ray Disc Burner & HD DVD-ROM Drive SATA Model GGW-H20LK - OEM
    Model #:GGW-H20LK
    Item #:N82E16827136155
    Return Policy:Limited Non-Refundable 30-Day Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $199.99 $199.99

    Update ASUS Xonar D2 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Ultra Fidelity Sound Card with Complete Dolby/DTS Sound Technologies - Retail
    Model #:90-YAA021-1UAN00+
    Item #:N82E16829132001
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $179.99 $179.99

    Update Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate SP1 64-bit for System Builders - OEM
    Model #:66R-02034
    Item #:N82E16832116493
    Return Policy:Software Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $179.99 $179.99

    Update Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm Fan CPU Cooler Socket 1366 Ready - Retail
    Model #:CLT-M3LT
    Item #:N82E16835702007
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $63.99 $63.99

    Update Logitech Z-5500 505 Watts 5.1 Speaker - Retail
    Model #:9701150403
    Item #:N82E16836121120
    Return Policy:Standard Return Policy
    In Stock
    Note (Add)


    Save Cancel $302.99 $302.99
    Subtotal: $7,594.81

    Reply
  • Bolas - Saturday, February 07, 2009 - link

    Alternately, you could just about configure what you wanted from cyberpower, if you don't feel like building it yourself, I would think. Their high end system seems price competitive with what anandtech recommended for a dream system, if you aren't good at system builds yourself I would think this would be another way to go. No I don't work for newegg or cyberpowerpc, just web sites I like, that's all. :)

    http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Gamer_Xtreme_XI...">http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/system/Gamer_Xtreme_XI...
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    but you never listed the price of the LG Blu-Ray HD-DVD reader. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    The LG Blu-Ray Reader/16X DVD Writer varies between $99 to $115 depending on when it is on sale. It was $105 when the Guide went to press. The 6X LG Blu-Ray writer has been around $250, but recently settled in at $200. It was on sale for $190 as the guide was posted. Reply
  • JonnyDough - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Alright, well it's in the chart...but not in the article. You mentioned raising the price to $200 by adding BR burning capability but failed to mention the drive price prior to that. Reply
  • aigomorla - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    My current machine would stomp that dream machine. :X Reply
  • Burrich - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    If I was to configure a system for overclocking or a "dream system", performance would be my highest priority. Why does this review stop short of offering items like RAID0 or RAID5?

    Considering that you're using the X58 chipset, including the ICH10R southbridge, why aren't you exploring the Intel Matrix RAID solution? With two disks you can set up a RAID0 and RAID1 array. Sure, it might not currently be extremely flexible (and may not be for everyone), but it can be a very good solution for someone with 2 1TB drives that are interested in both performance and redundancy.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Since I'm in the midst of dealing with a RAID disaster, let me just say that I'm not fully convinced that I will never bother with onboard RAID solutions ever again. My motherboard crapped out on me, and thus until I can get a new board with the appropriate controller, I can't get at my data. Since the board is two years old, I need to find something with ICH7R - easier said than done. Obviously, that's not an issue if you have a RAID card, but I'm totally done with RAID0 going forward! It may be slightly higher performance, but it's also high risk. I'd much rather have two separate drives these days. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Erm... "I'm fully convinced that I will never bother..." Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Does the Asus Revolution not support the Thermalright Ultra120 Extreme? I don't know why this wouldn't have been selected instead, other than the Dream System is not meant to be OC'd or an incompatibility due to the size of the Ultra120?

    The Vigor Monsoon to my best ablility doesn't even show up in your cpu cooling reviews. Is it another cooler (like the Xigmatek Rifle 120) that you tested but never released results for?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    Anand, Gary Key, and I have all three used the Vigor Monsoon III to cool an i7 system with good results. The Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme-1366 only recently was available as a Socket 1366 kit. Both have done well in cooling a Core i7 system, and both will fit the Asus board used in the dream system. The Monsoon II and Thermalright have both been very good performers in early testing.

    We have not added to our cooler testing in a while, but we are working on new cooler tests for Socket 1366. This is mostly because the stock 1366 cooler barely goes beyond rated speed and does not provide the reserve of past stock cooling from Intel.
    Reply
  • bijeshn - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    another howler:

    Intel Core i7 965 Socket 1366
    (3.2GHz Quad-core, 4x256MB L2, 8MB L3 Cache)

    4x256 MB?!!
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Sorry for the typo - now corrected. The first two table listings were correct at 256kbx4 L2, but the third table entry, as you pointed out, stated 256MB instead of 256kb.

    Lots of things must make you laugh if this typo has you howling with laughter :)
    Reply
  • Doormat - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Two questions...

    1) Are the big 700W+ PSUs required? I'm not going to do SLI/CF or a multi-gpu card. Just a 920 overclocked with 6GB of RAM and a couple HDs.

    2) Is there a problem overclocking the cheap GB board from the value config? I was looking at that and was curious why it isn't in the OC rig...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    The Power Supply Question does not have an easy answer. One of the Editors sent me an email with PS recommendations for the Core i7 guide and the smallest PS he recommended was the Corsair 1000HX. Almost all the Editors at AT are overclockers to one extent or another and we have all destroyed power supplies - some used to do it almost daily. All of us also build systems and the first component to go is usually the crappy PS if we go too small or the quality is not up to par.

    With that kind of experience we have all learned it is very bad to chintz on a power supply - particularly if you overclock. You did say you planned to overclock so I would say get the OCZ 700W or perhaps even the Corsair 850W. You won't be sorry and it will serve you for a long time.

    Is 700W required - NO. Is it a good idea - YES.

    As for question #2 the Gigabyte is not the best OC board we have tested, but it is decent and should do what you want if the $300 price tags of the best X58 OC boards turn you off. For $185 it is very capable and should carry you to reasonable overclocks.


    Reply
  • jky - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Why do you have different video card recommendations then the $1000-$2000 guide. There you recommended EVGA 01G-P3-1282-AR GeForce GTX 280 SuperClocked Edition 1GB and that card does not appear in these systems? Just curious since I just ordered most of what you recommended - except I bought the ASIS P6t mb. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    The $1000 to $2000 Guide was published 1/12/2009. At that point the best ATI drivers with the Core i7 were a special beta set of 8.12 drivers. On 1/29/2009 ATI released the 9.1 drivers, which are much better with the ATI cards on the Core i7 than earlier drivers.

    Our issues before were the ATI drivers and not the cards. We explained in today's guide that the ATI drivers were headed in the right direction and we could no longer ignore the better value of the 4870 1GB.
    Reply
  • cajones - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    So three weeks ago in the $1000-$2000 buyers guide, it was stated to stay away from the ATI cards on X58 systems due to problems. So last night I bought a system with a Nvidia GTX 260 (55nm). Now I see the board of choice with X58 in this guide is the 4870! What changed? Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I run the GTX260 216 in my personal systems even though I have a couple of HD 4870s laying on the floor right now that I purchased for our Phenom II comparison articles. If it were not for the recent price drop and improvement in drivers, I would not have even considered the HD 4870 1GB as an option. However, all of us on the staff agree it must be seriously considered now. At the same time, we all agree the GTX260 216 is still a great card, just the cost/benefits ratio has changed significantly this last week. The short story is that you cannot go wrong with either card. :) Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Newer drivers have helped, but honestly you don't have to feel bad about the GTX 260 - it's really something of a toss-up. I have a 4870X2, but honestly I wish I had waiting for the GTX 295 instead. CrossFire still doesn't live up to its potential in games more often than not, and without profiles you're stuck waiting for hacks or new drivers - usually 2-3 months after a game is released, unless it's a major title like Far Cry 2. Funny enough, Fallout 3 seems a major title and it still isn't properly CF enabled. Reply
  • shatteredstone - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    You mention that the ASUS P6T6 Revolution (btw, there is a typo in the article (P5T6)) would be the optimal board for Triple-SLI. As somebody who is seriously considering going that route in the near future, I will have to disagree.

    With three two-slot graphics cards, you will be constrained to using onboard-audio -- all 6 slots are used/unusable, and there is no 1-lane PCIe slot to accomodate the audio solution. The Asus II Rampage Extreme supports triple-SLI as well, but actually offers such a slot (it comes with their custom X-Fi, but you can use a Titanium or the recommended card here as well -- although you may have to remove 3-4 fins from one of the passive chipset coolers; if you are going to go with watercooling, this is naturally not a problem).

    Furthermore, "fastest triple-SLI setup possible" should be taken with a grain of salt. It is true that the 3 PCIe slots will all be x16, but that does not necessarily make this the fastest possible solution. Two of those three slots will terminate in the NF200, which will combine those 32 lanes to 16 which can actually reach the CPU (and therefore main memory); furthermore, only the communication between the two cards terminating in the nf200 will actually be able to communicate with eachother at x16 bandwidth; connectivity with the third card will still be constrained by the single x16-connection from the NF200 to the X58.
    In essence this means that this setup will only really have benefits if your application is constrained by two of the three cards talking to eachother. Available bandwidth to memory remains about the same (assuming you actually utilize the cards in parallel, otherwise you really don't need three of em on there anyway). I would also not be surprised if the NF200 introduces some latency into the whole thing, and I would be thoroughly surprised if you could see the difference in today's GPU-killer games (Crysis, say).

    One other nitpick would be the choice of Vista Ultimate OEM instead of Vista Ultimate FPP. Since this is the dream system, it may see a lot of tinkering over the years; I am not 100% current on the US-American license terms for Vista Ultimate, though from what I understand, your OEM version will be tied to that one computer (or whatever Microsoft may deem that to mean), while you can legally transfer the FPP from one computer to another (though you might have to call them to get it activated, anyway).

    One other nitpick : in the article, you link to the p6t6 on newegg (as well as one or two other things). I did not look at the link before opening it in the background, so it was quite counterintuitive to find it bringin me to NewEgg instead of a review or content on Anandtech (especially since most of the other components are /not/ linked that way, and there is no indication of this link actually just directing you to a store).

    Thanks for the guide; My dream system is close (currently thinking of the rampage ii extreme instead of the p6t6, even though I really couldn't care less about those onboard buttons and LEDs; probably some higher speed memory (if it is at all available; the nice-looking ocz blade 2kmhz/cl7 kits look lovely on paper but probably will never ever reach the retail channel), water cooling for most of this stuff (been meaning to play with that for a while), gtx285 instead of 295 (the memory does it for me), and some as-yet undecided storage decisions.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    If you want to run triple SLI and retain a half slot (without mods), then the Rampage Extreme II is a better choice or the upcoming EVGA Classified. Personally I would never run triple SLI for any reason except trying to get a good 3DMark. Even then you would need LN2 and a hand picked i7 from Intel to have a possibility in being near the top of the Orb. 3 way-SLI is just not worth the hassle and cost, same goes for tri-Crossfire.

    I suggested this board to Wes since it is now rock solid. I prefer workstation level quality in my main home system and this board offers it. It took a few BIOS releases to get there, but this board does offer the ability to overclock with lower voltage, VTT, and VDimm rates than the other boards we have tested, with the exception of the DFI UT board in the overclocking section.

    Yes, the NF200 on-board does not guarantee "the fastest SLI" setup possible, but it does not hurt that much either and you know this board will never have any driver or BIOS incompatibilities with SLI. It is just another assurance that you pay for going this route.

    Overall, I think Wes went with this board in the Dream System more for the quality and features of the board than worrying about gaming or pure overclocking performance. If you wanted to save some money, there are other options like the ASUS P6T Deluxe, Gigabyte UD5, or the EVGA X58 SLI for feature rich boards that over a great overclocking experience.

    If overclocking is not at the top of your list, the MSI Eclipse X58 has turned into a really balanced board as of late. Down the ladder there is the Asus P6T, DFI DK X58, and MSI Platinum SLI that still offer SLI and very good quality/performance metrics.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Unfortunately spelling and grammar checks do not catch incorrect model numbers. We got it right 3 of the 4 times and the incorrect 4th reference is now corrected.

    Gary Key is our Motherboard Editor and he very passionate about the P6T6 WS Revolution. I have linked him to your comment.
    Reply
  • tretchie - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I don't think the LG GGW-H20LK mentioned in this article can burn 50GB BD-RE discs as claimed by the author. I think it is limited to 25GB BD-RE discs. Can someone in the know comment on this? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    The LG burner supports writing double-layer (50GB) Blu-Ray disks. I have burned a 50GB with the LG in my own system. Reply
  • iregulate - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I can verify that it does burn DL BD-RE discs. Reply
  • tretchie - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I'll answer my own question. It does, for about $200 less than the Sony BWU300S. Reply
  • lanned - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I realize $/gb would be shot, and that you begin to approach the price of an SSD setup especially doing a Raid 0.

    But while waiting for the SSD situation to stabilize and for prices to drop, I'd be content with Velociraptor drives.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Monday, February 09, 2009 - link

    RAID 0, 1, or 5, or a Velociraptor Boot Raid are all good choices for the dream system depending on your needs. We mentioned that all those options were considered, but we ran up against the $5000 self-imposed cost wall.

    At present we lean toward a boot SSD Raid with a couple of the cheaper SATA II compatible SSD drives like the $129 G. Skill 64GB and the latest Patriot or OCZ SSD drives. However, we have seen enough issues with older SSD drives that we are not prepared to recommend a specific SSD drive at this point other than the expensive Intel SSD.

    Since we are testing SSD drives you can expect more info on SSD choices at AnandTech in the near future.
    Reply
  • greyscale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    With out benchmarks, this article is a complete waste of time. I too can sit around and spec systems on Newegg. What I can't do is test them all to see what type of performance increase the extra money gets me.

    You owe me ten minutes.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    As we point out every time we publish a Buyers Guide, we have tested and benchmarked almost all of the recommended components at AT. The Guides reflect those experiences, comparisons, and published results. Where we do not have a recommended item available in our offices we research user eperiences with that component.

    We also try to point out when we do not have direct experience with a particular item - like the 30" LG S-IPS panel - and why we still selected that item. You may also want to take a closer look at the evolving Bench comparison you can access by clicking Bench (under Home) at the left of the AT page. While it is still in Beta it is a direct comparison of the performance of almost every CPU you can buy in a variety of benchmarks.
    Reply
  • greyscale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Wesley, the charts do little to no good in this case. For one, I can't even find the original i7 920 review so I have no idea what GPU, RAM and mainboard were used. I'm sure it's here, the data is so it has to be, but I can't find it. But unless the parts are the same as one of these builds it's kind of irrelevant. Individual reviews don't tell me anything about synergy.

    CPU charts don't tell me how an Entry, OC and Dream system will perform or what value each offers. They don't tell me how the Entry will overclock compared to the OC-centric build. There's a nearly $700 price difference, but who's to say it won't do just as well with the addition of a $50 cooler?

    I know there are endless variables and results will vary but it seems like it would make sense to actually build and test recommended (suggested) configurations to give readers an idea of what kind of performance they can expect for the dollar. Price to performance ratio is where it's at, yo.

    Tom's does it. Just sayin'.

    Reply
  • C'DaleRider - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    The original review of the 920? It's in this article: The Dark Knight: Intel's Core i7, and the URL is:
    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc...

    Only took about 5 seconds of scanning the CPU/Chipset section to find it.........


    Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I was wondering, how come Anandtech did not recommend Enermax Revolution as the PSU for the Dream System? It's got the highest rating among its class everywhere. Thanks. Reply
  • greyscale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Jacko: the Corsair is cheaper and better. Deal with it. Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Uh... Cheaper? Yes. Better? Anandtech says otherwise. Check your facts b4 making yourself look like a fool. Reply
  • greyscale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    "In voltage distribution, we don't see really much difference between the Revolution 85+ and many of the competing units tested this year. The Corsair HX1000W has a very good regulation as well, so the Enermax unit has no advantage in this regard. However, when it comes to efficiency there's not much to compare -- after all, we already said the Revolution 85+ is the most efficient power supply we have tested to date. The HX1000W achieves up to 86% and the Cooler Master UCP is close with up to 89% efficiency."

    When you factor in the price of the Enermax, it is clearly an inferior product. I feel sorry for people running them.
    Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I feel sorry for you because you are probably too cheap to buy one of those Enermax Revolutions. Money should be no concern for Dream System buyers to begin with. Without regard for cost, Enermax clearly is a better PSU. Reply
  • greyscale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I actually used to run the Enermax. I swapped it out for the Corsair and I got like, 7 extra FPS in Crysis. It's science, don't shoot the messenger.

    Corsair > Enermax
    Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    LoL... Science? Read the empirically backup benchmarks. Reply
  • whatthehey - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    "I actually used to run the Enermax. I swapped it out for the Corsair and I got like, 7 extra FPS in Crysis. It's science, don't shoot the messenger."

    WTF!? Are you just a complete moron, merely a troll from a competing web site, or are you paid by Corsair? Okay, sure, Anandtech selected the Corsair PSU and it seems liek a fine choice, but seriously, don't give us any bullshit about your PSU making a game run faster.

    Since you're just spewing out random garbage with little to no factual evidence, let me join in for a second. I when by greyscale's home and discovered that he is still running an old Athlon XP system in his mother's basement. He hasn't seen any hardware released in the past three years in person (except at a store), and he certainly has never owned, tested, or used a modern Enermax or Corsair PSU.

    For that matter, he can't come up with anything other than the old "we need benchmarks for a buyer's guide" comment that we've all seen in the past. RTFW (read the fraggin' website) and you would have a good idea of how the various CPUs perform. There was an article just a week or two back showing overclocked Core i7 performance, but clearly your attention span didn't last that long without a graph.

    Would it be nice to see some benchmarks of the systems in this guide? Sure it would. I don't think I've ever seen a buyers guide bother to try and assemble and test the systems, though. That's pretty much putting two or more articles in one, which just means we get less content. I for one enjoy the articles, and the selections look good for what they are - though I wouldn't even think of spending over $2000 on a new system.

    "I too can sit around and spec systems on Newegg... You owe me ten minutes."

    Great. Let's see your guide, and then we can bitch about it. My bet is it takes more like 10 to 20 hours to research a quality buyers guide, and all you can do is whine about ten minutes. But you know... I read pretty fast and it took me at least 20-30 minutes to actually READ this whole guide. 10 minutes means you probably looked at the tables and then started complaining. Internet anonymity is a godsend, isn't it?

    Go back to Tom's (a.k.a. complete sellouts) - we other readers don't want you cluttering up the comments.
    Reply
  • 7Enigma - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Nope, pretty sure there was dry sarcasm there. Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Well said. Reply
  • whatthehey - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Thanks. Just to point something else out, the motherboard reviews have pretty much shown time and again that the only real difference these days is in BIOS quality, features, and overclocking. A cheaper motherboard might overclock well or it might not... I don't test motherboards, so I'm certainly not qualified to say which is the best. Considering the rant posted here a while back about the state of motherboard releases (http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3279)">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3279), I'm inclined to go along with what Anandtech/Gary recommends. I find it interesting that some of the boards that have had major BIOS problems often end up being praised at places like HardOCP and Tom's. It's almost like they purchased a review and editor's choice award - say it isn't so!

    What was the board a month or so back where the reviewer at HardOCP complained about all sorts of problems and then Kyle came in and said, "it's a great board - here's a silver award!" Must have needed to get more advertising revenue or something. Anyway, I haven't seen anything at Anandtech to make me suspicious of their editorial content. Let's hope it stays that way.

    Oh, and don't get me started on the Intel, NVIDIA, etc. bias crap. I've been reading Anandtech for years, and when the Athlon 64 beat the tar out of Intel we read all about it here. When Intel surpassed them, we read all about that as well. Smae goes for NVIDIA and ATI: praise for the 9800 Pro/XT back in the day, slamming the 5800 FX, praising the 6600 GT, complaining about SLI and Crossfire drivers... it all goes in cycles. ATI is doing well with their GPUs, but I would be wary of running more than one ATI GPU in a system. AMD is also doing better with Phenom II, but it's more like catching up with Core 2 Quad than actually beating Intel in any meaningful way.
    Reply
  • j@cko - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I was wondering, how come Anandtech did not recommend Enermax Revolution as the PSU for the Dream System? It's got the highest rating among its class everywhere. Thanks. Reply
  • garydale - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    OK, so you have to use something to measure value against, but let's face it, these are game machines. That dictated the choice of the OS - Vista - when for other applications you may want Linux, OpenSolaris or something else.

    I do some video editing, DTP and web development so for me, Linux would make a lot more sense. I get a pure 64-bit OS and 64-bit applications to really take advantage of what the CPU can do. This isn't a huge concern for games which push the GPU more than the CPU, but other applications use the CPU more.

    Next, for better disk performance, how about a 3 or 4 disk software RAID array (no need for a hardware RAID adaptor with today's CPUs)? Add some hot-swap adaptors if the case doesn't have them. Just watch read performance go through the roof!

    For me, RAID isn't usually a nice-to-have. Video takes up too much space to keep backups of everything. I need the safety of RAID to guard against the inevitable disk failures. And the extra performance is a real bonus.

    With respect to speaker, surround sound is great if you are a gamer or trying to challenge Hollywood, but some people prefer stereo for music or just to not have to run wires everywhere. So how about some stereo speaker recommendations?

    OK, they're minor quibbles. But there's more to high performance than games.
    Reply
  • cjcoats - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Only 6GB RAM for the dream system surprised me. IIRC, there are benchmarks showing >10% performance improvement for some games when you went from 6GB to 12GB. Similarly, I have Linux benchmarks showing >15% improvement for large-RAM Opteron systems.

    FWIW
    Reply
  • Finally - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    ...as in "nightmare", I guess.
    If you buy that, you can hear your money burning as a background noise...
    The entry level one, on the other hand, is interesting.
    But you should clarify who in the world really would benefit from that kind of thing...
    Reply
  • Kroneborge - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Benefiting is all subject. Most people think the benefit of choosing real high end compenents is not worth while. But for those with too much cash, why not get what you want?

    I personally wouldn't spend that much, but I'm not going to knock the people that do. It's no different than the people that spend hundreds of thousands extra on peformance between say a Ferrari, and a corvette.

    It's all personal preferences.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Would it be possible to list the price of all "in the tower" components and sum their cost before adding monitor/speakers/etc? On the concept of selling off a complete C2D tower and replacing it with an i7 tower?

    I would have liked to see a less gaming, more workstation oriented choice. For example, for photoshop a 4870 isn't needed, but more RAM is. Is a 3+ GHz overclock on a 920 possible with 6GB and 12GB RAM configurations? And if so, how good a RAM kit and motherboard are needed?

    I agree with the previous poster that a Blu-Ray drive isn't necessary on the i7 entry system; each user will know if they need Blu-Ray and budget accordingly. Personally I don't plan on jumping on the Blu-Ray train until the burners can be had for under $100.

    Will there be a power consumption guide for i7 coming? All your power supply recommendations are 700W and up, but in the Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P test, your published power draw at load for the 920 system is 264W at the wall (which I'm guessing is for a 6GB/single 4870 1GB configuration). Would be nice to know what kind of power is actually drawn when overclocking and such.
    Reply
  • paradoxnighthawk - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Good job on the entry system. For the dream system, whats with the Evolution X58 mobo. I would much rather have an Asus Rampage X58 or MSI Eclipse X58 mobo. Reply
  • Anonymous Freak - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Uh... Dare I ask why this Core i7 build guide has pictures of a boxed Core 2 Quad, and a picture of a Socket 775 motherboard on the 'entry' system? (Shouldn't it use the same Core i7 boxed pic as the 'thumbnail' for the article uses; and shouldn't the motherboard picture be a picture of the motherboard the build uses?

    In addition, for the 'Dream' system, there should be a picture of the Core i7 965 Extreme box, not a non-extreme box.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    You have great eyes. The links and images have been corrected. Thanks for helping us out. Reply
  • Anonymous Freak - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    [quote]You have great eyes[/quote]
    Why thank you! (Blushes and bats eyebrows coyly.)
    Reply
  • Concillian - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Quote: "This Core i7 Overclocking System leans toward the value side of the overclocking equation. Generally parts were selected, like the Core i7 920, because they are a good value that becomes an outstanding value when overclocked."

    I'm confused by this. A Value based overclocker would spend $50 more on a case than the entry case just because he's overclocking? And would buy a Blu-Ray instead of a DVD player?

    I think the sections are fundamentally flawed. A 'value based overclocking option' should be a minor part selection difference on top of function based categories.

    There should be major categories like:
    - Entry
    - Video Encode / Decode
    - Mild Gamer
    - Hardcore Gamer

    Then there should be two or three components for an overclock recommend on each of those sections. You don't need a better case to overclock. You will want a better HSF, might need better memory and in rare cases a PSU upgrade is warranted, but you do not need a Blu-Ray instead of a DVD player or a 3" larger monitor in order to overclock.
    Reply
  • Hxx - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Actually a better case will help your overclock. An aluminum case will disipate heat much better than a metal/plastic case. Reply
  • KorruptioN - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Not really. Aluminum does indeed dissipate heat better than steel or plastic would, but seeing how none of the major heat-producing components (CPU, GPU, PSU) are connected directly to the outer shell of the case, the benefits of an aluminum case on temperature (airflow aside) is negliglble. Reply
  • Hxx - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    "the benefits of an aluminum case on temperature (airflow aside) is negliglble"

    that's true but airflow + aluminum case is what you want. Not all hot air gets ventilated outside of your case, in fact most of it will not, which is why an aluminum case is highly recommended. It will help out dissipate the remaining hot air across its surface. Your system will run much cooler. An extra $50-100 spent on an aluminum case is worth it.
    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Have any tests to back that up? a 10-20 degree difference between internal and external temps won't produce a lot of driving force for heat transfer. If you were talking 50-60 degree internal temps and 20 or under external, then maybe, but I would have to run the calculations to check. Reply
  • Concillian - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Uhh... if it was an aluminum vs. steel thing, I'm pretty sure the recommend would have been an aluminum case instead of the steel 900. Airflow is mildly important, but even cheap-ish cases are decently designed these days. It's not like they picked some terrible case for their entry system.

    I believe this is the difference between value based overclocking and "all out" that they mentioned in the article. Value based is getting more for your money, while all out is spending an extra $50 on a case to get 10 more MHz.

    I just do not believe that their recommendations are in line with their stated goal of providing a "value based" overclocking system that costs nearly $700 more than the entry system, that could provide virtually the same actual performance as spending ~$200 over the entry level system price.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Obviously you can drop back to the "Entry" components for areas you don't feel the need to upgrade. We could have used the same components elsewhere, but figured people would appreciate reading some of our minor upgrade ideas - i.e. 24" instead of 21.5", BD-R instead of BD-ROM, upgraded case and PSU, etc. The point is this is "value overclocking" in that we aren't trying for the most expensive, highest possible overclocking components.

    For overclocking, you need the right motherboard first and foremost, then RAM and CPU. Some will say the i7 965 is a "better overclocking" choice, but that's because they want maximum possible clock speed without regards to price. Almost invariably, an i7 965 will reach a higher maximum clock speed with the same cooling and other components... it's probably only going to be 200-400 MHz higher, but it's still higher. Some will say that makes it a better overclocking solution, but it's really just a different goal in overclocking.
    Reply
  • Holly - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Honestly, putting 850W PSU on the overclocking PC seems a bit over to me. Counting the fact you get the best effectivity and PSU lifetime at about 50% PSU capacity, you should be very well with about 650W or 700W unit. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Saturday, February 07, 2009 - link

    On the surface you are certainly correct. The problem is the X58 chipset and the Core i7 CPU combo is extremely demanding of both high power and quality power for proper operation. You might check out the user comments at buying sites like Newegg to see what users are experiencing.

    Check out comments on the Gigabyte we used in the Entry Core i7 system at http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?I...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?I... for example. Users are reporting it takes 650W to 750W just to make sure the 920/X58 will boot. Then you need a reserve for OC.
    Reply
  • Holly - Sunday, February 08, 2009 - link

    If that is true, either Anandtech or people from newegg are very wrong. In Q9550s test I found out the one taking the highest power load and even i7-965 doesn't get to 300W. Running at half capacity should give you perfect voltages void of any sinus. Ofc unless you use some kind of lol-PSU. See http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/intel/showdoc...
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I would much rather have a nice set of 2.1 speakers than a sub-par 5.1 set. Not everyone has a room dedicated to computer gaming or space for the rear speakers. Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    http://www.google.com/search?q=Logitech+Z-2300">Logitech Z-2300 gets my vote!

    Reply
  • Hxx - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I agree, with the right sound card, a good 2.1 would prove a much better investment than an entry level 5.1 surround. But of course, there's also the logitech g51:-) Reply
  • goinginstyle - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I was thinking the same thing about the audio choices. They are all over the map and no options for home theater or gaming in the dream system. On the budget or overclocking system I would much rather have a great sounding 2.0 or 2.1 setup or even headphones than a cheap 5.1 system.

    Of course it totally blows the budget point here but a set of Swans M10/M12 would work on the low end system and blows away just about everything in the under $100 market, D1080MKII for midrange at $125 now and they sound almost as good as the next choice, which is the M200 MKII at the high end ($189) for the more musically inclined. Or something similar to those choices from another decent supplier of audio, even the Klipsch ProMedia 2.1 can be had for around a $100 now or the M-Audio AV30s at $99. A good sound card is needed to get the best out of these speakers but they will even make onboard audio sound better.

    I will not argue too much about the dream speaker setup considering the emphasis is on PC audio that includes games but why not consider the Auzentech X-FI Forte for the sound card then or the X-FI HT HD for both gaming and home theater.

    It just seems as if the audio section was slapped together as an after thought. At least give some alternatives for each setup to mix and match, that holds true for the other stuff as well. List a primary setup in detail like you have and then have a separate box for alternatives. One would have to assume that there is at least two choices in the best of categories listed in the article.
    Reply
  • Kinshinlink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    this is insane. i thought an entry system would have fewer luxuries than this build would. a 1080p screen? a 1 TB drive, who uses that much storage? i have about 30 dvd quality movies, tons of music, and a bunch of modern games installed, some of which have multiple installation folders and i am only using 200 GB at most. the video card is good but is it entry? more like a 9800gt id think. surround sound? a 700 watt power supply powering one card? and an expensive optical drive. i didn't know everyone was a gamer or multimedia enthusiast these days....oh excuse me i used the term lightly, because i didn't mention quad sli or cfx when referring to gamer. some people have budgets, and when they do i doubt they look for an article like this relating to "entry", when you could easily save hundreds of dollars if your just wanting to taste i7. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    With 2TB drives launching soon I never imagined the selection of a $95 1TB hard drive would be called extravagant. By all means refer back to the Under $1000 guide if that better meets your needs and save $30 by choosing a 500GB drive instead.

    I don't see the point of buying a Core i7 if you don't need or won't use the power of the CPU. Saddling even the Entry i7 with a sub-standard graphics system is poor value. If the cheapest 1080p monitor on the market at $190 is too much you can crank down the monitor and select a cheaper video card. Then, why bother with an i7 - buy a cheaper and capable CPU and upgrade your monitor and video to improve overall system performance.

    I confess that I really don't understand why you would buy an house in Beverly Hills, even the cheapest house in Beverly Hills, and fill it with K-Mart knock down furniture.
    Reply
  • Tacoeater - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Really? You can't imagine someone buying a house in Beverly Hills. It is called house rich, cash poor. But really? Wouldn't the equity you create in a house in Beverly Hills be worth it. I think this is a bad example since houses are investments and people buy too much house all the time. Consider the current times as evidence of this fact. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    On a related note, it's worth noting that CUDA for NVIDIA GPUs and other GPGPU tools (OpenCL, DX11) are really starting to show promise (i.e. Photoshop CS4 uses some GPU acceleration), so at some point you may seriously consider buying a cheaper CPU with a top-end GPU for computational work. That's what Tesla is targeted at, for example. A $200 GPU for a Core i7 makes perfect sense; if you don't need a $200 GPU, I can't imagine why you'd really need eight logical cores. Maybe all you do is 3D rendering or video work... but don't those benefit from a decent GPU as well? Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I was going to state that prior to the release of CS4, I had zero use for 3D capabilities higher than that provided by integrated graphics. If I were going to build a system today, I would aim for under $100 on the video card and see if it actually helped much, if some killer app for GPGPU does actually come out can always upgrade. Reply
  • just4U - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    One thing I'd require in a build, is atleast 4gig's of ram. If your forking out 1000+ it should be manditory... Or with the case of i7 6gigs. Reply
  • Spivonious - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I agree. The "entry" system is more like a "under $2000" system. I bet with some effort you could build a solidly performing i7 system for under $1000. Reply
  • crimson117 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    If you want the cheapest possible system that for some reason still uses a high end processor like the Core i7, then just take the http://www.anandtech.com/guides/showdoc.aspx?i=348...">Intel Entry Level PC and swap in the cheapest x58 motherboard and cheapest DDR3 ram.

    It's not a common or realistic scenario to budget for a top-end processor and skimp on everything else. For the money, a decent core 2 duo setup at the same budget will provide a much better overall computing experience than a gimped core i7 system.
    Reply
  • Hxx - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    They are referring to an "entry" system in the high end area, which is why its priced under 2000. For $1000 you will not build a core i7 gaming / multimedia... system which again, is what they're referring to. A corei7+mobo+ram+videocard will be about $1000. Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Umm, no. The exact corei7+mobo+ram+videocard they chose is $755. Switch to a cheaper video card (under-100 gets you less gaming, but fine for entertainment or other non-gaming use) and that leaves you $350 short of $1000, meaning you can easily add DVD burner, case, hard drive, and PSU for under $1000. Depending on how small a HDD and monitor you choose, you might be able to sneak a complete system under $1000. Obviously this provides lots of processor power relative to everything else, but if that is your need then it works. Reply
  • frozentundra123456 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    How can you even fit the OS on your 1 GB hard drive mentioned in the final words??? (LOL) There is a typo there, obviously should be 1 TB. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Corrected to 1TB. Thanks for letting us know in good humor. Reply
  • H8ff0000 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I think the HT Omega Claro Halo XT would be a better choice for a dream system sound card. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I agree the HT Omega Claro Halo XT is a superb audio card, and it is one I would choose for my own system. The C-Media CM18788 chipset is a spectacular performer.

    However, at $250, we believe the top HT Omega card should be matched with much better than powered PC speakers. If we use the HT Omega and then pare it with audiophile grade amplifiers and speakers we are are completely busting our self-imposed $5000 budget. In addition we didn't want the selection of audiophile audio components to become the focus of the comments and discussion - so we chose a more conventional high-end computer audio solution. We did mention Option #2 - we just didn't flesh it out.

    We also thought that most of our readers, who mostly believe on-board sound is more than adequate, would have a tough time swallowing a $250 audio card and associated components. For those who can appreciate its virtues the HT Omega Claro cards are a superb choice.
    Reply
  • AmbroseAthan - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I was actually going to say the same thing. How is it that the Xonar made it and Creative/Asus got honorable mention, but nothing towards the HT Omega line?

    In almost any test, the Omega lineup blows the doors off the other cards in almost all categories and the Halo XT would be perfect for anyone who wants an amazing sound system. If I was dropping this much money on a system, you can gaurentee I would be making sure I had a sound system to match the rest.
    Reply
  • reform - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    How about Remote Desktop? An essential feature not available on Vista Home Premium.... an interesting fact I found out to my dismay after installing Home Premium recently! Thank the lord for LogMeIn... a good alternative. Reply
  • Spivonious - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    There's also FreeVNC. I don't think the lack of Remote Desktop server (the client is in all versions of Vista) is a reason to avoid Home Premium. Just how often are you logging in remotely anyway? Reply
  • Lord 666 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    While the guide was well thought out and generally explained, the one part lacking was a full explainantion on the different hard drive selections... Specifically the WD Black. For only $15, it was passed over for the first two systems, but then used in the dream system with out proper justification.

    IMHO, $15 is insignificant and if its good enough for the dream system, it should be used across the board.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    We consider the Seagate and Western Digital equivalent choices, as long as the Seagate is the latest 1TB with the latest model number as detailed in the OC system. We have tested both and both perform very well. We have not tested the Samsung selected, but we have tested a similar drive. The Samsungs are generally reliable and selecting it for value at $95 was easy in the Entry i7 system where every dollar counts..

    For the Dream System we wanted to use a 2TB drive with an SSD boot RAID, but it is a few more days until they hit the market so we didn't believe we should recommend something you can't buy quite yet. The higher the density on drives the more data that can theoretically be written or retrieved in the same rotational space. Since the 2TB drives will have even denser platters than the 1TB, they should be even faster in a system - all else being equal.
    Reply
  • goinginstyle - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    If you are trying to save every penny in the entry level system then why not drop down to the WD 640GB caviar black drive at $70. That is close to 1TB in storage at just about the same performance. The $25 could have been spent on a better case like the lian li pc7b or antec solo or a better audio setup. Reply
  • sinnerman13 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    I am certainly nitpicking here, but I would never buy a Logitech Speaker System for my dream system. I could just as well hook the soundcard to the pc speaker... I would choose something more like the Motiv 5 from Teufel (http://www.teufel.eu/PC-Multimedia/Motiv-5.cfm)">http://www.teufel.eu/PC-Multimedia/Motiv-5.cfm). So much better...
    Reply
  • chrnochime - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    For that amount of money I'd go buy studio monitors and build myself a 5.1 system that'll outperform 5.1 in a box.

    Reply
  • strikeback03 - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Not that I have ever heard of that system or company, but for $650 you could also start thinking about jumping up to real home theater components. Reply
  • PrinceGaz - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Exactly, rather than buying "computer" speakers, pop down to your local hi-fi store and buy a quality surround-sound system. It is likely to be at least as cheap and sound better than "quality computer speakers". They might not come with all the cables you need to hook it up straight out the box, but a few high-quality Monster Cable leads later, you'll be up and running, and it will sound perfect, thanks to the combination of high-quality speakers and amplifier, and the best quality Monster Cable leads to connect them.

    Actually you might want to skip the Monster Cable and just buy ordinary leads unless you want to waste money on something worthless. But Monster Cables do come in nice packaging, so don't be put off by the over-inflated price-tag.
    Reply
  • Tacoeater - Tuesday, March 03, 2009 - link

    Why would you waste your money on Monster cable? Can you show that they are better than a pair of radio shack audio cables?

    I had an acquaintance that was a speaker manufacturer in Colorado Springs, Colorado( he died a few years back). He, arguably, manufactured the best speakers in the market with a very flat frequency response. He tested monster cable versus radio shack and found that radio shack cables were fine. Maybe the price tag on Monster makes it legit, but from what I understand, you are paying for branding. It really is amazing that alchemy is alive and well today and thriving in the audio industry. People with too much money gobbling up marketing.
    Reply
  • sinnerman13 - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    If you would configure a HTPC for a home theater, you might be right. But for a "gaming/office dream machine" a PC 5.1 system is just perfect because you don't need to buy an AV receiver, so you save space, cables etc. and your workplace looks more organized (something I always prefer ; )). Also I wouldn't underestimate the system I recommended,the sound is really great and the boxes have an applelike look and feel.
    And although we are disussing a "dream machine" the price point is always important to me, and buying a AV 5.1 system with a receiver and cables would be a lot pricier, for almost no gain.
    And btw I would never throw my money away for monster cables its really not worth it, at least for me.
    Reply
  • Jaramin - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Having separate Core i7 and Phenom II guides is good idea, much more interesting in this situation than a pointless head to head for products that don't really compete each other in pricing. Well done! Waiting impatiently for Feb 8th now! Reply
  • BSMonitor - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Ummm actually the entry system does compete in price against a Phenom II.

    CPU - 295 vs 230
    RAM - 70 vs 50
    MB - 185 vs 100

    ~ $150-175 difference?? I love how AMD fans tout the price difference.. But uhh, not really.

    And the i920 Nehalem will crush that $150 price difference...
    Reply
  • JonnyDough - Saturday, February 07, 2009 - link

    The main reason for buying an AMD system is to keep Intel from price gouging when they become a processor making monopoly. Reply
  • MonkeyPaw - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    Man, if $150-175 is what you consider a small difference, I hate to think what you'd call a big difference. If you actually think about your comparison, the i7 costs 45% more than Phenom II. Will you see 45% more performance in everything you do by buying the i7? Will you feel 45% better?

    You assume that everyone has $600 to spend on CPU+Board+Ram. I can at least assure you that I don't.

    (I'm typing this on an Intel laptop, btw.)
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, February 05, 2009 - link

    You have to also look at the total platform cost. If you're spending $1000 for a system and jumping to Core i7 increases the cost by $150, that's really only a 15% increase. Is the Core i7 15% faster than Phenom II? In the vast majority of cases, yes - unless you're running games that are GPU limited, of course. Both are viable options (and Core 2 is still viable as well), which is why there will be a separate Phenom II Guide. Reply
  • harshbarj - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    Your forgetting that with the i7 you need ddr3 ram and that cost significantly more that ddr2. i7 boards also cost a lot more than am2+ ones. SO if your just buying a CPU to set on your desk it will cost you 15% more but if you want to build a system the numbers are far closer to 40-45% Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, February 06, 2009 - link

    DDR3 prices have come down quite a bit of late. It's still twice as much in some cases, but you also need to consider that twice $50 isn't all that bad. So:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">2x2GB CL4 DDR2 = $50; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">2x2GB CL9 DDR3 = $76 (Yes, you could get cheaper DDR2 or more expensive DDR3, but these are at least somewhat "equivalent".)

    X58 motherboards are very high-end right now, so it's only fair to compare them to X48 options - and if you get DDR3 on X48, the RAM comparison can go away, other than the fact that you need tri-channel.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">DFI LANParty DK X48-T2RSB PLUS = $200; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD3R = $200.

    Then you have CPUs. They simply won't be "equal" - Core i7 is better in some areas to the point where Penryn and Phenom II don't stand a chance, and in other areas it's pretty close to a tie. Let's just say Core i7 920 has an edge in overall performance, but if you don't do 3D rendering, video encoding, or other highly threaded tasks it may not matter. If you're one of the "won't matter" crowd, you should probably look at Core 2 Duo and forget the Quad parts as well. Anyway, we'll go for a reasonable matchup:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">Core i7 920 = $290; http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N8...">Core 2 Quad Q9650 = $345.

    On, snap! What just happened!? Yes, that's right: a similar performance Core 2 Quad can actually end up costing *more* than Core i7 and offer worse performance. So you grab a more competitively priced Core 2 Quad like the Q9300, but now the i7 920 has a much greater performance advantage.

    The problem is people aren't comparing apples to apples. Core i7 is a high-end setup, so the motherboards are all top quality. Yes, you can get decent motherboards for Core 2 for a lot less money, but none of them match X58 across the -ahem- board. Dual x16 slots? What about the potential for SLI and CF support on a single board? For gamers, that might be enough reason alone to get an X58 (though you'd want to get a different board than the Gigabyte I listed above).

    You *can* build a very good Core 2 system for a lot less than you can build a Core i7 system, and more likely than not most people will be very happy with performance. Here's the thing, though: *most* people will be more than happy with the performance of an older Athlon X2 socket 939 or AM2 setup, which you can easily assemble for $300-$400.

    If you need or want more performance, don't sleep on Core i7. The net performance boost can be quite substantial, the platform does have some very compelling features, and for an upper midrange to high-end system it's really hard to claim equal performance. An overclocked Phenom II or Core 2 Quad might match a stock clocked i7 920, but that's hardly a fair comparison. Once you http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=3506">overclock both platforms, even traditionally GPU-limited things like gaming can see a clear benefit. A $280 Q9550 with DDR2 and X48 compared to i7 920 with DDR3 and X58 will be a price difference of around $100, even counting the extra 2GB for a 3x2GB DDR3 memory kit.
    Reply
  • Souka - Sunday, February 08, 2009 - link

    Blah blah...Cire i7.... Phenom II

    My P4 AGP system runs just fine...plays games just fine too...and it's approaching it's 6th birthday...



    Reply

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