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Sunday 19 August 2007

PE0N spec 1.1 (Final?) - Goodbye AMDEEEEE! [Brit]

As you lot know I've been spending some time spec'ing up my new rig; codename PE0N. I'm starting to vibrate with excitement over the release of Team Fortress 2, Duke Nukem Forever and the mighty Unreal Tournament 3.

My current rig, an Athlon 2.something with 1.5 GB RAM and a 256MB ATi X8500 series is just about keeping up with GRAW (even with the addition of a Physx card) so I'm looking at PE0N to provide me with at least 18 months of quality gaming support.

That said, here's the spec I've arrived at:
  1. BFG nForce 680i SLi (Socket 775) PCI-Express DDR2 Motherboard
  2. Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 "LGA775 Conroe" 3.00GHz (1333FSB)
  3. GeIL 4GB (4x1GB) PC8500C5 1066MHz Black Dragon DDR2 Dual Channel Kit
  4. BFG GeForce 8800 GTX OC2 768MB GDDR3 HDTV/Dual DVI
  5. Western Digital Raptor X 150GB WD1500AHFD 10,000RPM SATA 16MB Cache(2 of these)

The intent is to combine these items with a new high end PSU, existing Plextor optical drive, existing Physx card (also by BFG), any my Samsung SyncMaster 213T to deliver the complete system, looking to replace the monitor as it is starting to show it's age, withapair of Samsung 24" Widescreen jobsa short while down the line. The whole lot will sit inside a new Coolermaster RC-1000 Cosmos Silent Full Tower Case

I've deliberately not shoved loads of disc space in, and I'm probably taking a punt on the Raptors and hoping they don't have a working life measured in weeks, but I'm also not intending to overclock or do anything crazy; hence wanting the fastest components within reason (DDR3 is stupidly expensive for example, so I'll stay with DDR2 for now).

I'm looking at complementing the 2 HDDs in that list with an external big-ass NAS, such as the 2TB Lacie rig which we use at work and which performs flawlessly if a little noisily. Docs, photos, "stuff to keep" etc will sit on something like that, and I can also ensure the fella has his stuff on there too.

Anyhow, thats how PE0N looks and if anyone can see any glaring errors please shout out; the driving principle behind this build is speed (win/apps/games/etc), gaming experience, and as far as possible, a degree of future proofing. The whole lot will come to just under £1,400 when I add in a the PSU and a few other bits and pieces.

Oh, and finally, XP Pro or Vista?! Thats the one thing I can't decide on (I run both - as I type I'm on XP, my lappy is on Vista Home Premium) but I figure the forthcoming games will all support Vista properly?


  1. I don't think I'd buy a Raptor now. There's very little performance difference between that and the latest fanny perpendicular recording ultra-high density drives. Except of course one of those drives will hold vastly more data and make a lot less noise when doing it (seeks on the Raptor are quite loud).

    I'd do XP myself. Vista is still a bag 'o shite really. Oh and I quite like Overclockers, despite the fact they deleted my forum account for daring to post that people could return products under the DSR regulations if they so wished... They just tend to deliver and not muck you about. That said, that monitor is nearly 40 notes cheaper from ebuyer which may stretch your loyalty a little too far...


  2. £40? Ebuyer it is then!*

    I tend to use OC for pulling together lists of things because I find their webby infinitely easier to use than EBuyer's which tries to be too helpful and goes the other way.

    I'll stick with XP for now - it means I don't have to worry about splashing an extra £100 or so on an O/S that I have multiple copies of already - which is a good thing.

    Will revisit diskage.


  3. So youll not be knowing that 4GB of Ram is only for those using a 64bit OS then? not to mention that Raptors are outperformed by Samsung Spinpoint 500GB drives, imo if youre not using DDR3 then id recommend the Q6600


  4. Not exactly mr 'RotflCopter'. You can use 3.5GB on XP. Sure it's some wasted but it's definately better than 2GB if you can afford it. As for the Spinpoints, I use them myself but the only people that would ever claim they're actually faster than Raptors is Custom PC. And they're wrong. I also know this because I've got a Raptor and a 500GB Spinpoint in this very machine I'm using and I've compared them. There's not much in it though, so the point stands - it's not really worth looking at them these days.

    And in *my* opinion, quad core processors are tosh. It's lower clocks and more heat for less game performance, which is what's on the cards here. Dual core all the way.


  5. Actually, you can use up to 4GB RAM on Vista 32bit editions, and 128GB on 64bit editions. As for XP Pro, it also supports 4GB according to Microsoftbut the caveat there is you may have to fiddle around a bit to get it all working.

    Thanks for the attitude though!


  6. It doesn't all work though. You lose 0.5-1GB of RAM. The situation is identical on XP and Vista 32-bit.


  7. Have to make further comment here, as a user of 3Gb Ram, I have to say that Ive not found a situation where the computer is more responsive than back when it had 2Gb. Even running BF2 and 2142 which are ram-whores doesnt make any noticable difference, especially since the page-file cannot even be disabled :(

    Its not just CPC that state the Spinpoint series is faster, every review ive read says the same, all i have is a standard seagate sata II drive and a clanmate with a faster CPU and Raptorwill only beat me in server by less than a second. Definately not worth the premium price.

    Lower clocks and less heat may be valid but since both Valve and Epic are heading in that direction a quad core may well prove the better buy especially for someone whos looking at Valve games.


  8. >2GB seems to have more of a point on Vista when it's whoring up a bit more for itself. The only game that I know of that would really benefit from >2GB on XPis SupCom which actually crashes out because you've used more than that AND your virtual memory in big games. Really that's a case of GPG needing to sort their lives out than SupCom. I suspect, but cannot authoritively say either way, that Vista and games you might start to see some benefits of extra memory. Kind of hard to tell though, on XP you'd know because your HD would trash less but Vista thrashes anyway, doing random 'things' so it's harder to tell when your machine starts using VM :)

    As for the Spinpoint drives, sorry you're wrong. I've got both drives in this PC, I've benched them both, there's not a single test that the Raptors are slower. I even linked you a lengthy comparison of someone else doing the same. So I don't know where these 'every reviews' are, but they're not on the Net. CPC doesn't really know what they're doing when it comes to HD reviews. Spinpoints, even the latest T166, seems to have some issue with IO transactions per second on single user systems, Eg anything practical including gaming. They're not even anything like as fast as the other 7,200 RPM drives on the market for this stuff, let alone a Raptor. Here's Storage Review looking at it.

    But in the end I'd agree with you regarding Raptors not being worth the price. When they came out there was nothing around offering that kind of performance, now things have moved on. They are not faster in any meaningful way, but you pay a heavy price in cost per GB and noise.

    Regarding quad core, in my view you ought not to buy a quad core processor because it *might* give you some extra performance down the line over a dual core. Right now, fact is, it doesn't. Even on current (the only?) highly threaded game, SupCom, it runs faster on a dual core for the same sort of money (because it's clocked higher) amd that's after you run a core re-balancing hack to make all the threads spread across cores evenly. If it turns out quad core gets faster, fine - ebay the dual core and upgrade but you'd be stupid just to buy it on the promise of performance given what computing is like. Core2 dual core nicely overclocked is currently the way to go in my opinion.


  9. (Random person wanders by)

    I know you can play the waiting game forever with PC parts, but have have you considered waiting until November before buying?

    AMD's new chip aside, Intel are set to launch the X38 'enthusiast' chipset on September the 9th, their chipsets tend to be the industry benchmark for memory, I/O and RAID peformance. Nvidia's 680i chipset (even the mk2) have a bad repution for overclocking quads (and well they are the future).

    Then it's expected that in November (just before Crysis is released if they have any sense), Nvidia will launch the Geforce 9 series graphics cards.


  10. You're never very far away from the 'next' thing in computing....

    .... my big question now is to Vista or not to Vista - I have a dx10 compatible card and so in theory I should move to Vista but there are questions about crashes, games running slower and the differences being relatively negligible (the only thing that is really different in Bioshock for instance is smooth smoke and shadows).



  11. I don't see any reason not to change to vista, other than the slight decrease in performance or perhaps some driver issues (which will be resolved sooner or later). Alas, I see no clear reason to do so either. There's very little in Vista that I find to be clearly superior to XP. Nonetheless, I've been running Vista for a couple of months now and I've experienced no crashes or hangups or anything. There's a bit of a learning curve to Vista as, for example, the control panel is a tad different than it used to be, but you'll change to Vista eventually so why not do it now?


  12. I'd tend to Vista really. When I first tried it, stuff was bad. Now things seem better. Bioshock, on my system is *only* stable on Vista which I probably put down to being a fresh install, rather than an inherent problem with XP. Played a WoW raid last night on Vista, was fine. Played SupCom and appart from some bug where you can't see the colour of starting positions on the lobby mini map, it also played fine.

    As for DX10, yeah it's still not a big deal at all. If you're happy on XP I'd stay there, I'd just put Vista on if you happen to be reinstalling anyway.