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Pre-sales config questions

Post Date: 2007-09-17

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Stonevulture View Drop Down
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  Quote Stonevulture Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: Pre-sales config questions
    Posted: 17 Sep 2007 at 11:18pm
I am in the market for a high-end gaming computer, and I've been shopping around online at about 10 different integrators.  I want a system that can play today's bleeding-edge games at the highest settings, because (even though that's pretty cool in and of itself) in 4-5 years I want this same system to be able to play new games at moderate settings.  In other words, I want to be somewhat future-proof and know that my investment is going to last me a while.  I've almost settled on Digital Storm, but I have a few questions before I make my purchase.

I currently own a 3-year-old system from a very well-known (if not the best known) gaming integrator, and quite honestly the only reason I've had it this long is because I am trying to eke out something close to my money's worth.  From an integration perspective, service has been horrible, the build time was over 10 weeks, and in terms of both theoretical (3DMark) and real-world (frame rates, loading times, etc.) performance, the system is actually SLOWER than computers that were thrown together by folks I know using similar parts.  Stability has been decidedly average and the only way my gaming room could be any louder from spinning blades is if I tried to fire up a passenger helicopter in here.

I only bring up my last experience with getting a gaming computer because I want to learn from my mistakes.  From reading testimonials here, at reseller ratings, etc. I feel pretty comfortable that my support experience with DS would be a good one.  But I ask those of you who own and have been using a DS system - how do you feel about the value-add of having DS build your system for you?  What is your experience with DS giving you a fast, quiet, and stable build?

For DS (or anyone else who wants who wants to answer), I have some technical config questions as well.

* In addition to pretty hard-core gaming, I also have some computationally intensive apps that I'd like to run on this machine.  Will DS overclock an Intel QX6850 to 3.67GHz (if liquid cooling for the CPU was purchased)?  Would such a system still qualify for 3-year parts warranty and the 24x7 phone support?

* If I do plan to overclock a quad-core CPU but don't plan to overclock the video cards, is liquid cooling for a 8800 SLI system "overkill", "nice to have", or "required"?

* There's an 850-Watt "8800GTX SLI Certified" power supply to pick from, but other integrators make a big deal about providing kilowatt power supplies in their SLI systems.  Given my potential power-consumption situation (overclocked quad-core, non-overclocked SLI video, 1 hard drive, 1 optical drive), what should I consider when deciding between 850W and 1KW?

* I'm definitely going with 32-bit Vista (I can't believe what I'm willing to do for DX10 Confused), and I understand that a 32-bit OS can't fully address 4GB of RAM.  But it should be able to address well over 3GB, shouldn't it?  My current usage profile looks something like... a really demanding game, TeamSpeak, iTunes, antivirus, and sometimes even IM and a browser open on a second monitor.   For people who run a few other background apps like I do when they're gaming, is 2GB enough or do you still page to disk a lot?  I'm trying to figure out if I should invest in the extra RAM to get the boost above 2GB in my 32-bit OS now, or if should I wait until I actually get a 64-bit OS to go all the way to 4GB instead.

* Does DS offer some sort of price/config guarantee like some of the other integrators?  I understand prices and configs change, but even a 30-day or 60-day guarantee against dramatic price drops on existing configs to prevent customers from getting "iPhoned" would make me feel a whole lot more comfortable about purchasing now as opposed to later.

* Finally, any other comments/recommendations based on what I've said so far?

Thanks a lot for reading through this novella and any feedback would be greatly appreciated.  It's a great feature to be able to tap into the forum community like this before I'm even a customer!
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skyR View Drop Down
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  Quote skyR Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 12:10am
The QX6850 is a overclocking monster. It can easily go to 3.6GHz with liquid cooling, you can probably go higher.

Definitely stick with liquid cooling if you are going to overclock a QX and SLI Ultras =\ It will get pretty dam hot in the case.

If you have the money to get the top of the line CPU and GPU. You should invest in a top of the line PSU as well. The thermaltake 1000W is certified for Ultra SLI. QX = 150W, SLI Ultra = 500W (estimates)

You will have to invest into x64 if you want more than 2GB. Your system will have just a little over 2GB of addressable memory. iTunes and AVs are resource hogs but other than that 2GB should be fine. I get by fine with 1GB having a tons of stuff opened.


Edited by skyR - 18 Sep 2007 at 12:17am
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  Quote Stonevulture Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 12:34am
Sorry, I should have phrased my question about the cooling better:

* If I do plan to overclock and liquid-cool a quad-core CPU but don't plan to overclock the video cards (due to stability concerns), is adding video card liquid cooling for a 8800 SLI system "overkill", "nice to have", or "required"?

It's good to know that the QX6850 may even go higher than 3.67Ghz; I guess now I need to know if DS will do it (and still cover it via warranty).

I trust the recommendation about the power supply, but I am still not sure I understand why you recommend the 1 kilowatt over the 850 watt.

Thanks for the help so far!
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  Quote Stonevulture Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 12:35am
Sorry for the unclosed bold tag in the previous post; I guess I should register so I can edit my posts.
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  Quote commast Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 12:52am
Liquid cooling is a Nice to have option and not required if you don't plan to an insane amount of OC. You can choose to liquid cool the CPU only or both cpu and video card. DS will OC your system to a stable point and i think they will cover it for 3 years. For a non SLI system, you don't need 1 KW power supply, a 850W is plenty. Go online and sites that has the online power calculator and you'll see what you need. Most of the SLI requirement is a little off since people want to be safe. The 1K MAYBE needed for the 8800ULTRA in SLI and for future upgrade. If you wnt a 1K PS, go with the PowerPc&Cooling PS instead of the Thermaltake---It's the best power supply there is. I still have a PcPower&Cooling PS unit from the days of Win95 and it still works fine to this day.
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  Quote Bill the Cat Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 1:00am
Originally posted by Stonevulture

I want a system that can play today's bleeding-edge games at the highest settings, because (even though that's pretty cool in and of itself) in 4-5 years I want this same system to be able to play new games at moderate settings.
 
Sorry, If the next five years are like the last 5 years, you're not going to be really content with your 2006 2007 machine. Four years shouldn't be too bad with one or two significant upgrades.
 
Originally posted by Stonevulture

From reading testimonials here, at reseller ratings, etc. I feel pretty comfortable that my support experience with DS would be a good one.
 
Nobody here is going to disagree with that.
 
Originally posted by Stonevulture

But I ask those of you who own and have been using a DS system - how do you feel about the value-add of having DS build your system for you?  What is your experience with DS giving you a fast, quiet, and stable build?
 
I have assembled computers in the past and could have assembled this one. However, unless I screwed up the calculation, the cost of buying the bag of parts and the price of the assembled,  tested, warranted, and tech supported  DSO machine, amazingly, were not substantially different.
 
I agree with skyR on just about all the tech stuff.
 
According to recently published reviews, you should be able to overclock the E6850 to 3.6 MHz on air. The warranty is a good question, but I'd assume so. Alex?

I doubt you need to liquid cool the GPUs, but if you've already chilled the CPUs might as well hit the GPUs while your at it.

850 Watts is probably good enough. More is better.
 
Two 8800 GTXs, each with 768 Meg of VRAM, only leave 2.5 Gigs of memory space remaining for system RAM in a 32-bit OS.


Edited by Bill the Cat - 18 Sep 2007 at 9:08am
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 1:58am

Everybody has been on the ball, just for clarification purposes:

As of right now, we are able to overclock the QX6850 to 3.67GHz with our liquid cooling setups, and yes, any machine that leaves our facility will be covered with our three year warranty. That includes the E6850 running at 3.6GHz Bill the Cat.
 
A Thermaltake 850W will do the job for a quad-core machine running even two 8800GTX cards since they have a high efficiency rating. However, you will be near the maximum potential of the unit. Going with a 1KW or above will future proof your system for a better setup down the road.
 
Go with a 2GB setup of Corsair 1200MHz memory if your budget can go that car versus a 4GB setup of 1066MHz.
 
Like Bill the Cat said, your computer is only going to see about 2.5GB of memory, so out of a 4GB setup, 500MB isn't worth it, unless your going to a 64-bit OS. Even then, for a gaming system, a 64-bit OS is not your ideal choice due to the lack of proper driver support and games taking advantage of the technology itself.

If I missed anything, please let me know, I will be more than happy to answer any other questions.

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  Quote Stonevulture Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 9:53am
Alex, thanks.  I think that answers most of my questions - stick with 2GB RAM and a 32-bit OS, get a 1 kilowatt PS - now I just have a couple of additional minor questions:

* Overclocking the QX6850 doesn't appear to be an option on the web configurator; if I wanted to request this, would the right procedure be to place an order online and then call in with the order number to request the overclocking?

* I plan to save a bit of money by limiting the liquid cooling to CPU-only.  Since I'll be air-cooling my GPUs, the descriptions of the various cases make it sound as though the Twister Extreme case is the best choice.  The Twister Ultra looks a little bit more visually interesting; is there a significant difference in noise (or, more importantly, cooling effectiveness) between the two?  I don't want to sacrifice stability for a somewhat flashier case,  but all other things being equal, I like the Twister Ultra case better from an aesthetics perspective.

Thanks again to Alex and everyone for all the informative responses.  They've really helped crisp up the config that I am looking at (listed below):

Case: Digital Storm Twister ULTRA (Black Anodized Aluminum Finish)
Power Supply: 1000W PC Power & Cooling (8800 GTX SLI Compatible) (Turbo-Cool Edition)
Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad QX6850 Extreme 3.00GHz (1333MHz FSB)
Motherboard: nVidia 680i Core 2 Quad (By: eVGA) (nForce 680i SLI) (A1 Revision)
Memory: 2GB DDR2 Corsair at 1066MHz Dominator (Dual Channel) (Extreme-Performance)
Floppy / Media: - No Thanks
Hard Drive 1: 250GB (Western Digital / Seagate) (16MB Cache) (7200 RPM) (SATA)
Hard Drive 2: - No Thanks
Raid Option: - No Thanks
Optical Drive 1: DVD±R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 20x / CD-Writer 48x)
Optical Drive 2: - No Thanks
Network Card: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Modem: - No Thanks
Video Card: 2x SLI Dual (nVidia GeForce 8800ULTRA 768MB (By: eVGA / Asus) (PCI-Express)
TV Tuner: - No Thanks
Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer (Up to 7.1 Channel) (Recommended)
Physics Card: - No Thanks
Cooling: Liquid Chilled CPU Only (TwisterBoost Overclocked) (Madusa Purple Liquid)
Case Lighting: Blizzard Internal Lighting (Blue Edition) (Cold Cathode Tubes)
Round Cables: Enhanced Interior Air Flow (Optical Drive & Floppy Cables (Blue Edition)
User Manual: Personalized Platinum Digital Storm Binder (Includes Paperwork/Benchmarks/CDs/Manuals)
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate
Restore Kit: Digital Storm Specialized Recovery System (DVD Image Based)
Protection: - No Thanks
Office: - No Thanks
LCD Display: - No Thanks
Surge Shield: - No Thanks
Speakers: - No Thanks
Keyboard: - No Thanks
Mouse: - No Thanks
Warranty: 3 Year Platinum Care Extended Parts & Labor Warranty
Support: Lifetime Toll-Free Platinum Care Technical Support



Edited by Stonevulture - 18 Sep 2007 at 10:06am
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Tyler Lowe View Drop Down
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  Quote Tyler Lowe Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 11:43am

It can be a bit confusing at first, but the overclocking feature is combined with the cooling selections. In the cooling selections, when it says "twisterboosted" that means the cpu is going to be overclocked.

Nice config btw Thumbs%20Up

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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 18 Sep 2007 at 8:49pm
Tyler is on the ball, since you have our "Liquid Chilled CPU Only (TwisterBoost Overclocked) (Madusa Purple Liquid)" cooling system, we will be pushing it to 3.6GHz. No need to worry about that.
 
The ULTRA series and the EXTREME series cases are both excellent choices. We mainly have both options for certain tastes. You will be happy with both. Noise levels, cooling, etc, is very similiar on both of them.


Edited by Alex - 18 Sep 2007 at 8:50pm
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