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***READ ME*** Buying/Posting Guide

Post Date: 2010-08-14

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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Topic: ***READ ME*** Buying/Posting Guide
    Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 8:55pm
*** THIS INFORMATION IS SLIGHTLY OUTDATED AS OF JULY 2011, BUT STILL OFFERS A LOT OF GOOD INFORMATION ***

 
 
Table of contents:
 
How to post for help (scroll down)
FAQ / Important Points (link)
SLI (page 2 FAQ) (link)
Solid State Drives (page 3) (link)
The Configurator (link)
Building / budget guide (link)
Order Stages Explained (link)
 
 
******************************************
******************************************
 
How to post for help:
The most effective way to ask for help on the forums is to post here in the Configuration section and to list:
 
Your budget
What does this include?
Shipping will be $65 in the US48
monitor / mouse / keyboard? Do you have or need these things?
 
Use for your computer
How you will use this computer, examples: 
"70% gaming 30% movies"
-or maybe-
"mostly 3d modeling with some light gaming"
 
Special needs:
You have a large library of movies and need a lot of space to store them...
You have an excessively dusty environment and need that to be considered when building...
You already have a 1tb storage drive and don’t need that included...

The more information you provide, the better we can advise you.

Your post should end up looking something like this:
Budget: $1600
have a monitor, need a keyboard and mouse
almost all gaming, use a little photoshop
becuase of my job, i need a seperate storage drive for large video files 
 
 
If you want to show us build you've picked / are looking at:
-Choose your options in the configurator
-Click Save & Email on the right side
-Copy the load ticket number, scroll up to the very top right of the page and click "Load Configuration"
-Paste your ticket number and Submit, you will be taken back to the config page, the url in your explorer bar will link to your specific config, so just paste that link in your post
 
You can alternatively just click Save & Email on the right side, then scroll all the way to the bottom and copy the entire text description, and paste that in your post. I think this takes up unnecessary room and can make threads harder to read, but it is quicker.



Edited by Craig - 21 Jul 2011 at 5:43pm
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 8:56pm


 
Performance & Cost – Building a gaming system isn’t what it used to be, we have long since put to bed the idea of buying the most expensive system will to last you the longest amount of time. The market moves too fast for this to work any more. Currently, the peak of cost : performance lands around $2300. After this point, your money stops going towards productivity and starts going towards preference. You can definitely improve on the performance of a system in this price range, but cost effectiveness takes a hit.

 
In-Game "Max" vs "high" Visual Settings: It has become increasingly common over the past couple of years for people looking for advice on a build to simply post: "budget = x and I want to play Crysis at max settings". The concept of "max settings" on any game has changed drastically, introducing settings such as 16AA and 8AF has changed the word "max" to really mean superfluous and ridiculous and the previous "high" is now what used to be called "max". High is the limit at which no matter what settings you increase, there will be no visual difference to the game. Of course, this could change per person, but the general population will fall within a pretty small range.
The reason this matters is the hardware necessary to play several games on their maxed out settings is typically going to be far more expensive than the hardware needed to play anything at the aforementioned "high" settings. This drastically changes the intent of the request to play a certain game at high or max settings.
Typically, the resources required to play newer games at all of their maximum visual settings will be very superfluous and wasteful overkill. Furthermore, some titles just make poor use of thier resources, games like Crysis and Metro2023 are good examples of this. Years ago, everyone used to call Crysis a crusher of performance PCs... now, several video card generations later, we pretty much find out that it does not matter what hardware you have because the game Crysis itself is unrefined, and will likely experience some kind of frame loss except for the most extreme builds. Many people get so caught up in numbers and words like "max" and "extreme" that they stop looking at the actual output of the game. Plenty of titles look very similar on thier maximum and high and sometimes medium settings, great news for gamers on a tighter budget, and something to consider strongly when shopping.
 

Buy now or keep waiting? Waiting can be effective in a few situations, but usually is an endless losing battle, there is always going to be tons of new tech right around the corner, the healthiest approach to this is to just grab your money when you have enough, buy a rig and don't look back. Its incredibly pointless to torture yourself by looking at the newer things that come out instead of just enjoying what you have while you have it.

 
LGA1156 Platform vs LGA1336 Platform: To anyone not versed enough to know or care, all you need to know for gaming purchases is that these are the 2 current mainstream “families” of mobo/processor setups. Playing a game you would never know the difference. On paper it boils down to memory bandwidth and better multi GPU support. I have not seen any quantifiable proof that 1336 can beat 1156 in a game's performance any more than it can lose. Because of this, I consider 1156 a very viable option for a gaming rig. Don't feel like you will be handicapped if your budget calls for an i7 750, the money is simply better spent on video power in a pinch.


Edited by !ender_ - 21 Dec 2010 at 11:34pm
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 8:57pm
(page 2)
 
Scalable Link Interface (SLI) 2x 3x 4x : For high performance gaming machines with the current market, SLI is your ticket to maximum gaming power. I used to be a huge supporter of single GPU solutions, but wether you want to blame it on lazy video card designers or overzealous gamer designers, the hardware is simply not keeping up with the software. This is not, by any means, to say you can not enjoy a gaming maching if SLI is not in your budget. Only to say that if you are building a gaming rig with a budget near or over $2300 then make sure you have your video power bases covered before you fill your case with extras. Also, SLI scaling has improved significantly; newer releases are showing above 80% gains from 2xGPU setups, so there is definitely a benefit to be enjoyed if you can fit multiple high end cards in your budget. Just do not buy 2 cheap cards and put them in SLI thinking that they will blow past the stronger cards. You will also need SLI if you hope to enjoy 3 monitors with an nvidia setup, such as with the new 3D Vision™ Surround setup now being offered.
 

"Add a second video card later for SLI"  This is a common topic of discussion on the forums, there are definitely different ways to look at this strategy. I personally find that this idea is go big or go home. If you want to use SLI, you will pay for a bigger PSU, a capable motherboard, and the first card… waiting to add the second card may save you roughly $100, maybe up to $200 if you wait for a long time. The way I look at it: with an SLI system... you're already spending at least $1900, you would rather spend that much money and then go without all the extra power you could be enjoying for a year or more just to save that last $100, or even $200?!
 

Single GPU solutions are always better than cheaper Multi GPU solutions the cake benchmarks are a lie! When looking up any comparisons for multi GPU vs single GPU cards... or any GPU benchmarks at all, you have to look for benchmarks that show more than just the average. Multi GPUs will freaking fly at low load parts of any benchmark test, which will skew the “average” fps numbers that so many articles love to focus on. What you need to look for is a combination of minimum FPS and average, and in several different applications. 2X weaker GPUs are will more frequently and extremely dip in situations that you need your card to work the hardest, and numbers aside, actually trying to play games with this will show you a noticeable difference in smoothness and consistency.
No your 460s in SLI are not faster than a single 480, don't take my word for it, listen to this [H] reviewer tell you (
link)



Edited by !ender_ - 21 Dec 2010 at 11:27pm
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 8:58pm
(page 3)
 
Solid State Drives or SSDs are the new hot item in the HDD world. No more spinning hunk, these will drastically improve the speed of most applications. Not intended to improve gaming performance, these will not boost your FPS much while gaming, but they can make your games start, save, load, change maps, etc much faster. SSDs really shine in applications such as business-related programs, movie/picture/sound editing, general use will speed up across the board, everything will open and close faster, anything that involves reading or writing to your hard disk will improve.
Because of these gains, the cost per gigabyte of storage is significantly higher than standard hard drives, for this reason, typical choices will be the 40 gb and the 80 gb versions to install your operating system(s) and primary programs such as photoshop, the adobe suite, office progams, etc. While you will normally want a secondary, cheaper, standard storage drive for all of your "stuff". (games, pictures, movies, music, etc)
 
 
Selecting a new monitor is a big part of moving to a new computer, several posters will ask what monitor they should buy with their order. First we have to separate what matters and what does not when monitor shopping. Most important is the resolution, with any budget under $350 or so, you need to look no further than a 1920x1080 tn panel monitor, which is the most common type. (the inch measurement of a monitor is personal preference, does not really matter) Brands that I personally trust for value are Acer and Asus, and brands where you may pay a little more for quality are LG and Samsung. Dell and HP are also good choices from what I hear. I would recommend, if it is at all possible for you, to go to a store where you can check out the monitors in person. Even if you don't buy from the store, everyone's eyes are different and you can at least get an idea of which brands have the best picture in your opinion. Do not get too caught up in the other stats listed with monitors, such as contrast ratio and brightness. Unfortunately, this is not well regulated so the numbers tend to get a little exaggerated, which again goes back to you seeing it in person. That really is the best way. Because this can be a dangerous field to buy in, take the time to read and understand the return policy wherever you buy your monitor. You can pick up a good quality 1920x1080 monitor for $150-$210. Even if you are using a gtx460, you might as well buy a less expensive 1920x monitor, since most lower resolution options cost the same or very close and, if needed, you can just set your games to run at a lower resoultion, but you can still enjoy the bigger resolution for everything but gaming.
If your budget for a new monitor exceeds $300-$350, you are not really buying on a budget any more, you may want to look at a higher end IPS monitor, if you want further information on these just include it when you post for help.
A final thought that I will add to this is that with even a slightly higher budget you may consider getting 2 monitors. The trend is increasing in popularity and, being a member of the group myself, I can very highly reccomend this. Dual monitors can be used even with a single gtx 460 and of course with any higher GPUs, since you will only be gaming on one of the two monitors, adding a second one does not add much stress for non gaming use such as photoshop, paperwork, watching movies, etc. 

Liquid Cooling: Its cool looking, its becoming a lot more mainstream, but this is not a solution to your need for no dust or no noise desires. It still uses fans, probably just as many or more and will still blow air through your case which means a similar amount of dust. You will have far lower temperatures, which will keep your hardware healthier for longer, and allow to overclock to much higher numbers. Upkeep is very simple and obviously DSO will do all of the set up and walk you through anything you may be worried about, but topping off the system typically the only thing you will need to do. You have to individually decide if these benefits are worth the price tag to you. It is commonly asked if you a system config “needs” liquid cooling. The answer to that is No: For gaming, liquid cooling is not required, however, to keep your hardware the absolute healthiest while hitting extreme numbers and looking really cool, it is. Personally, since GPUs are louder and more strained than processors for gaming, I would ask DSO about liquid cooling your video card(s) before your processor.


The "Asetek liquid cooling" seen in the configurator is not the same as real Liquid Cooling. Asetek calls this LCLC or Low Cost Liquid Cooling (link). The system does use water, but is not near the power level of the stage 3 and higher options. It is good for low profile cooling and cools decently for its price range, but it does not compete with the noctua coolers.
 

Windows 7 Professional "XP mode" don’t be fooled by the mention of this feature. The intention of this xp mode support is business oriented for those who have programs that rely on xp specifically to run. It is not a switch you flip, you are allowed to download XP virtualization software to support old non multi OS programs. A majority of the time, this will not apply to anything you use, especially not as a gamer. Windows 7 backwards compatibility is actually reported to be doing quite well. A simple google search should answer any questions you may have about a specific program working in Windows 7.
 
 
If you are very new to computers in general, this can help you when reading members posts:
Common terms / shorthand you will see:
Processor: Chip/processor/CPU
Motherboard: mobo/board
System Memory: RAM
Power Supply: PSU 750W 1000w 1200w
Hard Drive: HD / HDD / SSD (solid state drive)
Video Card: GPU
Fan/heatsink cooling (no liquid) “air” or “on air”
Liquid Cooling: lc / loop / water / liquid
Internal Lighting: LED / Cathode
Overclocking: oc oc'd
 
 


Edited by !ender_ - 21 Dec 2010 at 11:34pm
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 8:59pm
 
All of the advice here is given with a gaming build in mind. If you have specific needs that do not include gaming, be sure to tell us how you plan to use your computer. Line items with “luxury” in the description are left out of this discussion as they have no impact on the gaming performance of your machine. In these areas, just choose what you will use.

Chassis Model:
Digital storm offers a lot of good cases but it is very hard to beat the HAF 932 for cooling power and value. It is a big case, to be sure, but when you compare it inch for inch with most of the other cases, the difference is less substantial then you may think. It is however significantly heavier than several of the other cases.
All in all, unless you're really looking to reach the limits of air cooling, you can pretty much pick whichever case you want outside of the 310, 334, and 430. The price difference is your battle to fight, you will likely have to look at this case a lot, so better off picking something you do not hate and live with the extra 2 degrees difference it may make. I will mention that most of these cases are open air which means the amount of dust that will find its way in to you case will increase over that 6 year old closed dell case you are using. This is a necessary evil to have the best temps. You can look at the case in the configuration window, if it appears to have a lot of grills on it, such as the haf932 and the sniper, then it falls into this open air category. If the side is glass or closed with only a fan hole it can reduce the frequency of this chore by a small amount.

 
Exterior Finish: Luxury

Trim Accents: Luxury – but a pretty affordable and good looking one. Most of the pictures of the cases on the site are with the trim paint applied or with lots of cathode lighting from the inside, so consider googling your case before you buy, most of them will be all black.
No paint  
Paint
 
Processor: First you have to understand what you are actually looking at. Logic and marketing make you think that if you're looking at a chip called an i7 920 and another called an i7 930, that the 930 would be better. Right? Wrong.
Oh Intel, how you manipulate the uninformed. The Bloomfield 920, 930, 940, 950 are all the same chip. Intel just pre-tests groups of them to ensure that a designated group can overclock to a certain limit, and rename them accordingly.
Either way, you need to look no further than an i7 860 or i7 920.
The main chips still being sent to resellers are now only the 950 and 960, so that defaults your choice to the 950 for now. Intel is aware of people outing them and have very significantly dropped the prices, so the change in price is not much, its about $10 higher for a 950 now than a 920 used to sell for.

Unless you have specific needs, avoid all the other chips. The i5 750 can come in handy if you really need to save money, video power is more important for gaming. The 6 core(970 and 980) and xxxK chips are created specifically for extreme overclocking, for gaming requirements this straps overkill to a rocket and sends it out of sight. But for benchmarkers and entusiasts, these hold the key to top end performance. Furthermore the extreme edition chips take overclocking to the extreme, DSO reccomends these if you want to rock out over 4.2GHz, that is some real power. 
HyperThreading has effectively doubled the core count of the current Intel chips, so an overclocked 950 cam run 8 x 4.0 ghz which is already overkill for gaming, and is plenty for almost all other common uses, such a multimedia editing, photoshop, 3d modeling, etc etc. This in mind, buying a 6 core processor will have you paying almost $1000 more to let even more than the already 4-6 threads sit in the corner doing needlepoint while you game and hobby.
 
Lets have a look at a head to head of the mainstream choices:
 
 
But this is at stock settings.. who cares about that? We need to see what these look like overclocked in to DSO's free range of up to 3.9GHz
 
 
Interesting how much that changes the game huh? Now it must be said that these are synthetic scores, they are based off of a benchmarking program, not real life use. Unfortunately, there is no chart that can include everything you may be looking to do with your computer, so this is meant as a reference to see where the chips fall (pun intended) As you can see, the 860 and 920 950 fall in to about the same range, which is true for basically any application.
Now, what really matters for this guide is gaming performance. I'll save you the monotony of a chart where all of the numbers are close to the same. Gaming is based on video power, we talked about that. Around the 18,000 mark up you will stop seeing a difference in games. This will change slowly as the gaming market catches up with the hardware, but for now, even going down to a i5 750 will give you all that is required to game adequately. On the same note, while the 980X blows the rest out of the water on this chart, it wont make your games faster than an 860, which is great news: this means you can be at the gaming curve without spending an extra $950 on one of them.

Motherboard: Most current systems here are being built on 1366, so addressing those motherboards: its really hard to beat the super cost efficient evga boards, the EVGA SLI 3 is fully capable of meeting almost any need you could have. Pretty much any board more expensive than this and you are buying either a brand name, more SLI/Crossfire slots, and/or some extra overclock support. I usually suggest picking the mobo last to best suit your needs, but budget wise, its hard to justify going over the SLI 3. Definitely avoid spending more just to get “sata 6” or “usb3”, both of these are ill advised. See the explanation from our resident mobo/hd banhammer Dragoonseal

System Memory:  the standard 4gb-1600mhz or 6gb-1600mhz ram is plenty sufficient for the current market, specs on the DHX choices and the 2000mhz certified are both are very good, and yes they are better than the certified 6-1600. There are small differences in CAS settings and command rate which can make a difference in synthetic benchmark tests, but even then, I have only seen online differences of 3-6%, I plan to do some further testing on this soon. As far as GB amount, even going from 3 to 6GB shows almost no gain. I would consider the minimum for a gaming rig to be 3GB @ 1333mhz. On a similar note, going up to 12gb is extremely unnecessary. Unless you are working with video or very large pictures on an serious industrial level, going to 12 will show no difference and can make higher overclocks harder to stabilize.

*It should also be mentioned that the certified 2000Mhz choice has some very tall heatsinks, and could interfere with other things in the build such as the noctua 14 cooler.
 
Power Supply: the current choices are
750w TechNPS / Corsair1000w TechNPS / Corsair   1200w TechNPS / Cosair Gold
with the 750 and 1000w choices, corsair and DSO's certified PSUs are pretty close. The only significant difference with the 750w being mulitple 12v rails on the Techs and the fact that the Techs are modular,  basically this means they are neater for cable management for a small sacrifice in performance. This only applies to the 750w versions. The differences should not be too significant. The 1200w is another story. Corsair decides to pull a 180 on us, makes this PSU completely modular and adds an extra $100 to tech's price. I cant imagine a way to justify getting this over the certified alternative. Equally, I cant imagine a situation where you would need the 1500w Silverstone giant ( 9.3 pounds!? )
For any single video card build, pick one of the 750s, if youre looking at SLI,
nvidia says that corsair's 1000w is enough for 2x 580s. But if you have many extras in your case id probably go to 1200w, you want to run at around 3/4s of your power supply's rated wattage.
 
Expansion Bay: While none of these options have an affect on your gaming, I will at least address a frequent issue of selecting an internal floppy drives as these are no longer supported by most motherboards. Hot Swap bays will allow you to change storage HDDs on the fly, if you typically work with multiple drives for storage or security, this can be pretty handy. And the internal card reader, as it states, will disable two of your typical 4 front USB slots.

Hard Drive: There are many HDD choices, but the best are very simple and easy to pick out:
The standard WD 500GB @ 7200rpm
Hitachi/Seagate 1TB @ 7200rpm 32 mb cache (no, going up to 64mb cache will NOT show significant performance gains)
and the 40 / 80 / 160 gig intel SSDs
Dragoonseal says say NO to non intel SSDs

I have read a few things that say going over 1tb hurts a drive's performance, based on the mechanics, I tend to believe this, though I do not have proof, I'll be back to edit this when I get more information

The intelligent and increasingly common strategy here is to use a primary SSD and a storage HDD, this gives you ample storage room, but you can still take advantage of the speed of the SSDs. The standard approach to this is a 40 or 80 gb ssd in slot 1, and a 500gb or 1tb drive in slot 2, obviously you will need to tweak this to fit your budget and needs.

As a general safety tip, avoid anything besides these. Especially anything that has raptor or cheetah in the name.. unless of course you want Dragoonseal to pop out from behind a corner and drop the hammer.

Raid Options: I feel that luxury should go here, mainly because with SSDs the speed gain you could get with 2 standard HDDs in raid 0 becomes insignificant. Basically this is a special use option. If youre looking for blinding speed, you can run with a few intel SSDs in raid 0, but the gains would likely be intangible for gaming, and probably most other common pc uses, multimedia editing may see some advantage from this, but not a cost efficient one.

Optical Drive 1: beyond a standard cd/dvd read-write, choose what you'll use. The only points needed here are that the lightscribe can give you cool laser etching (yes you have to buy specific cds/dvds for it) and only choose bluray if you will definitely use it, because its not cheap.

Internet Access: the standard internet connection that comes with all the motherboards selectable here come is sufficient, Killer cards offer you advanced options which can be tweaked to improve your speeds by a measurable amout, but they are not simple plug-and-play. It should also be noted that you will only change your speed by a large amount my getting a better ISP or more bandwidth. The wireless cards are preference, choose it if you will use it, though wireless connections can be undesirable for gaming as they are not as reliable as a cabled connection.

Video Card: Video power is the absolute bottleneck for gaming. You should always pick your budget and work to fit in the most video power possible first, then build the rest of the system AROUND that. For simplicity I will tell you that the most attractive options I believe are:

The GTX 460 768MB is a great choice for budget builds, plenty of power there for someone on a tight budget. Then up to the GTX 470, again great power for its price and if you have any interest in overclocking, it can be tweaked to within arms reach of a 480, but you will definitely hear the fan moving. Then to the GTX 570, which pretty much removed the 480 entirely from the playing field. if you can fit it in the budget, it is the a great single GPU solution.
As far as the rumors about the heat and noise of the GTX 470/480, its ridiculous. I can speak from personal experience and the input of several forum members that
the cards work very well and do not produce any out of the ordinary noise or heat unless overclocked. The high temps comments that are made are even more ridiculous. The cards can easily be kept cool even under heavy benchmarking tests. The new 570 and 580 are showing even better results in the noise/heat/power consumption fields.
Avoid any of the "superclocked" versions of any card. This is exactly like intel's trick, they overclock the card, which is simple and costs no money, then sell it for more than its worth. Side note: EVGA cards are slightly more expensive becuase of the brand name and the "EVGA Step Up" program, which allows you to trade in your card for a newer one for the difference in price within a short window after your purchase.
 
Lets do another chart to show the price scaling here:
 
 
These are again synthetic scores, cards are different with different games, and in different situations, the chart is to give you a general idea. You can see here that the scaling is pretty uniform. The last jump from 470 to 480 is a costly one to be sure. Unlike our processor chart, these differences will directly and completely impact your gaming ability. The more video power you have, the faster FPS you can get at higher resolutions, period. I would call the 460 1gb a good solution for "mainstream" gaming: mild games at 1600x900 will do fine here. But for any more intense games or higher resolutions, I'd suggest a minimum of 1 GTX 470.
Again, the release of the 570 removes the 480 from the board, at least until the price comes down (if it does). Performance wise, it seems to be slightly better than the 480 in every way, including power draw, temp, and noise.. all while costing less than a 480. A 580 on the other hand is rocking a +$200 price over the 570, and while it is better, I find it impossible to reccomend for the price. Dual 570s are only $200ish more than a single 580, and far more powerful. So that would be the next logical step up from a single 570 in my opinion. 
Lets see how these cards scale with SLI
 
 
I know you are sick of hearing it, but let me remind you one more time. Synthetic scores. The average gain you see here is just over 60%, but that will be more and less true depending on the games you play. The most significant part of the scaling subject, in my opinion, is how close you can get do the power of dual 480s with dual 470s when you consider how much less they cost. Big price difference when you consider the numbers. The same idea holds true with the new 500 series cards, SLI 570s will give you the majority of SLI 580s power ringing in at nearly $450 less!
 
 
 
Add-on Card:
Luxury stuff, definitely avoid the phyx card.

Sound Card: a luxury in the sense that they do not improve your computer's performance. The idea of having one of these used to be to take the load off of the CPU, allowing its performance to not be hindered by having to process the sound and everything else. Currently, processors are ahead of where they need to be for gaming, and this does not really apply. Adding one can, however, vastly improve your audio experience if you have some quality headphones or speakers. They also add lots of customization options that most on board sound drivers will not. The bonus here is that sound cards are extremely easy to install, so if you are on the fence about it when you buy, you can always try out the onboard sound and make the decision to add a sound card later. Its difficult to quantify a difference sound, but I find it easiest to describe this way: with onboard sound, you can hear bass, with a sound card, you can feel bass. As far as choosing anything above the $100 Auzen / Creative option, you will probably not see a difference unless you edit and create your own audio.

Extreme Cooling: Its good that DSO has so many options here, but realistically, right now, you cant beat the noctua u12p. Its one of the best air coolers on the market, its priced very competitively, its not very pretty, but it gets the job done. It can easily cool an 860 or a 920 up to 4ghz, which is both over DSO's free overclock range and over the line of practically improving your computer use. Its not that the other choices are bad for air cooling, just that with all of the prices being so similar its very difficult to justify not getting the u12p. I will add that the noctua 14 is a good cooler as well, on top of the fact that it costs more, you will need to add another fan to it for it to beat the noctua u12p, even then, its likely you will not see a difference that can justify the money you spent. Maybe 1-3 degrees celcius.
Keeping this in mind, its for me to consider liquid cooling a viable option. Basically the only difference (as discussed above) is that liquid will give you lower temperatures at an incredibly high dollar per degree ratio.

Chassis Airflow: I'd say none of the cases currently offered need this. Definitely not 6 fans. If its the lights you are after, check out the next option down. I know there is one unfilled top slot in the stock HAFx, so you could add a fan to that, but just put it in the order notes for DSO, don't bother with this option.


Internal Lighting: a luxury to be sure, but at $10 per 2 tubes, its hard to ignore. DSO is currently carrying red/blue/green/white cathode tubes. This can solve all your lighting needs, you can check out my to see what multiple different color choices can do for you! DSO will gladly add more colors or more tubes of the same color to your build just add it to your build notes.
 
Enhancements: Luxury and kind of a bad one really. The intent here is to be able to turn your fans up/down for noise. Most of these cases are pretty quiet anyway, and if you are serious about keeping a case quiet, you are better off replacing the stock fans with quieter ones so it is always quiet, AND that would cost a lot less than $90.

Chassis Mods: These only apply to the hailstorm case, and most people who choose that case get liquid cooling, so its unlikely you would ever need to use this.

Noise Reduction:
Stage 1: Your case fans will have resistors installed by DSO to make them run slower, so that they produce less noise at the cost of some air cooling power. Again, the HAF cases are already quiet, if you are very serious about having a silent PC you could look into this I guess but you would probably be better off replacing the fans with still powerful, quieter fans.
Stage 2: A foam lining will be installed inside the case to damped exiting noise.  As logic would dictate it can hold in more heat at the same time, but no fan holes or vents will be blocked. It should also be noted that with any open air case, such as the HAF932 and the Sniper, this package will not help you, the metal is already slotted on the top and the side, so the sound is going to come out regardless of what else you put in the case. For this to help, you must choose a closed case, such as the assassin.

Boost Processor: A free boost to power and performance? Yes please!
We get posts occasionally that voice concerns with overclocking and its impact on how long hardware will last; what it comes down to is that even a processor that is overclocked to 4.0 or more ghz (higher than DSOs free range) under a noctua u12p this will last at least 4 years, after that you will be out dated anyway.
To clarify, I am not saying that on the last day of the 4th year the chip will just disintegrate, just giving you a minimum to put perspective on the “shortened” life your hardware will suffer from overclocking. This in mind, its completely senseless to not get an overclock, both the 860 and 920 overclock very well and digital storm offers this for free.
“Do I still need to get the noctua u12p if I do not overclock?” short answer is both yes and get the overclock. You wouldn't buy a car and only use the first and third gear would you? No.

Boost Video Card: Some people on the forums have discouraged this, and to clarify: I believe that DSO does not overvolt your video card which can limit its overclocking potential, but again this is free. Overclocking GPUs is not like processors, the curve to increase noise is a lot steeper and the power you actually gain from overclocking is substantially less. I will add that with a free program called MSI Afterburner, its pretty easy to overclock the video card on your own if you want to for certain games. You can have it set to only overclock the video card when you tell it to, which makes getting that little extra juice for certain games very easy.

Boost Memory: Under special ops builds, this only gives you an option for a ram fan kit. I have seen overclocks where DS will put the ram its correct place for the overclock and others were the ram was left on auto. I am not what the official stance on this is, but if it matters to you, you can always post in the Overclocking section and ask for help tweaking it, or put in your order notes that you want the ram overclocked as much as possible, and see if DSO will work out a price for you.

The memory fan itself is pretty cool looking but not all that effective. RAM cooling is passive, its just meant as assistance to you ram sticks heatsinks. Furthermore, the nocua coolers lay almost exactly on top of these heatsinks, so it will likely do just as good of a job.

Boost OS: This could show significant gains with past versions of windows, but Windows 7 is the new standard and it is already very snappy and lightweight. I advise not choosing this as services may be disabled that you wanted to or could have used and the computer's performance difference would be next to nothing by tweaking Windows 7.

Windows OS: Stick to Windows 7 Home as addressed above. Win 7 is reportedly doing very well with backwards compatibility, but if you have any questions about your specific programs a quick google search should be able to answer that for you.

Virus Protection: This is preference of course but there are lots of free alternatives to these programs now so if you are on any kind of budget you can avoid extra costs here.

Office: same as above, there are multiple versions of the MS office suite that are now free and compatible with the current MS office.

Install/Test Game: With any nvidia card you should currently be getting, you get a free game! I believe it is currently Just Cause 2. Additionally, any game you were planning to put on your new system anyway, you can have installed, tested, and updated for your convenience.. even to catch any potential problems so you dont have to deal with them!

Display / Surge Shield / Speakers / Keyboard / Mouse:
DSO has some good options in these areas but I feel it important to address that these are added for convenience and are typically advised against, even by DSO members. Anything you choose here will potentially add to your shipping costs  and will not be covered under your DSO warranty. This coupled with the fact that you can find wider selections and more competitive prices elsewhere, solidifies the good advise to shop around. If you have questions about where you can find these things, just post that along with your build and we can give you some options

External Storage:
Luxury

Exclusive T-Shirt: Its free, And it gives you special powers, so you should wear it everywhere!
 
 


Edited by !ender_ - 22 Dec 2010 at 12:00am
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 9:00pm

Starting points based on your budget:
Based off the majority of people posting for help, I have narrowed the prices down to 4 simple brackets, starting with the bare minimum that I would be able to personally recommend, the 2 mainstream price ranges, then 2200+, which ill address as basically an unlimited budget, since you are already clear of the sweet spot.
This guide has focused purely on gaming, so that will follow through to this section. The approach here is to get as much gaming power into your budget range as possible. Things like lighting, extra optical drives, extra storage, etc will all be left out.

 
As low as possible: Gamer on a really tight budget $1263
Its a tough spot to get out of because you need to bump up the power supply to a 750w to go to the next video card up. So I would probably say stick to this or spring for our next bracket, found below
 
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - HAF 922
Processor: Intel Core i5 760 2.8GHz (Quad Core)
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55 LX (Intel P55 Chipset) (Model: P7P55 LX)
System Memory: 4GB DDR3 1600MHz Digital Storm Certified
Power Supply: 750W Digital Storm Certified (Dual SLI Compatible)
Hard Drive Set 1: 1x 500GB  (7200 RPM) (32MB Cache)
Optical Drive 1: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card: 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 1GB (Includes PhysX) (EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1372-TR)
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: High Performance Cooler (Compatible With i5/i7/AMD Processors)
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Boost Processor: FREE: Stage 1: Overclock the processor between 3.3GHz to 3.9GHz
Boost Video Card: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
Boost Memory: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my memory
Boost OS: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Warranty: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty
 

Middle of the road, gamer with something of a budget, not much wiggle room: $1504
 
Still tough to upgrade out of this range, its great to have the 570 but you have to start eyeballing your CPU at this point if you are interested in anything outside of gaming. Still a solid gaming computer. Drop to the GTX 470 if you are close but can not make this work with your budget.
 
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - HAF 922
Exterior Finish: - Standard Factory Finish
Trim Accents: - Standard Factory Finish
Processor: Intel Core i5 760 2.8GHz (Quad Core)
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55 LX (Intel P55 Chipset)
System Memory: 4GB DDR3 1600MHz Digital Storm Certified
Power Supply: 750W Digital Storm Certified (Dual SLI Compatible)
Hard Drive Set 1: Operating System: 1x (500GB (16MB Cache) (7200 RPM)
Optical Drive 1: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card: 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1.2GB (Includes PhysX Technology)
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: Noctua NH-U12P SE Dual 120mm Fans High Performance Cooler
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Boost Processor: FREE: Stage 1: Overclock the processor between 3.3GHz to 3.9GHz
Boost Video Card: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
Boost Memory: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my memory
Boost OS: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Recovery Tools: Windows Recovery Toolkit (Bundled with Windows 7 CD)
Warranty: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty

Next up the sweet spot $1754
Congratulations! You made it to the line!   What I mean by that is more the “pyramid”.. the cost : performance ratio that I have been going on so much about reaches its peak here! After this build, your purchases (as far as gaming) will start to lose their cost effectiveness. First upgrade from here is to push up to a 1000w PSU, pick up a 2nd 570. If you still have money left after that, time to get an SSD!
 
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - Cooler Master HAF 932
Processor: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz (Quad Core)
Motherboard: ASUS Sabertooth X58 (Intel X58 Chipset)
System Memory: 6GB DDR3 1600MHz Digital Storm Certified
Power Supply: 750W Digital Storm Certified (Dual SLI Compatible)
Hard Drive Set 1: 1x (500GB (16MB Cache) (7200 RPM)
Optical Drive 1: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card: 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1.2GB (Includes PhysX Technology)
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: Noctua NH-U12P SE Dual 120mm Fans High Performance Cooler
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Boost Processor: FREE: Stage 1: Overclock the processor between 3.3GHz to 3.9GHz
Boost Video Card: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
Boost Memory: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my memory
Boost OS: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Warranty: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty
 
 

First of the Power Builds $2319
This means that you get to have your cake and eat it to, everything you need to game is covered, now its time to get some rediculous power under the hood.
570 SLI is a much cheaper alternative than 580 SLI and can give you the bear's sum of 580 SLI's gaming power. If you get this far, its a good idea to already have an SSD (40 or 80GB Intel, as discussed), maybe a sound card too. This lets you get some extra punch and sparkle out of your game audio (this is preference).
 
Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - Cooler Master HAF 932
Processor: Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz (Quad Core)
Motherboard: EVGA X58 SLI 3 Edition (USB 3.0 & SATA 6Gb/s)
System Memory: 6GB DDR3 1600MHz Digital Storm Certified
Power Supply: 1000W Digital Storm Certified (Dual/Triple/Quad SLI Compatible)
Hard Drive Set 1: 1x (500GB Western Digital/Seagate/Hitachi/Samsung (16MB Cache) (7200 RPM)
Optical Drive 1: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card: 2x SLI Dual (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1.2GB (Includes PhysX Technology)
Sound Card: Integrated Motherboard Audio
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 1: Noctua NH-U12P SE Dual 120mm Fans
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Boost Processor: FREE: Stage 1: Overclock the processor between 3.3GHz to 3.9GHz
Boost Video Card: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my video card(s)
Boost Memory: - No Thanks, Please do not overclock my memory
Boost OS: - No Thanks, Please do not tweak the services on the operating system
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium (64-Bit Edition)
Warranty: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty
 
We are now over the cost effecienty line, lets get wet!
If you have already added a SSD and a sound card to the last config, time to check out the stage 6 liquid cooling. Any hardware you are adding to this, like an SSD raid or BluRay are going to be up to your individual desires. Keep in mind, if you are shopping around the Nvida 3 monitor 3D, you need to factor in the amount of video power you would need to push 3 monitors at 1920x1080.. thats a lot of pixels. I'd reccomend a minimum of 3 570s if you expect to play this with good FPS.
Also, if you are in to extreme, make sure you check out the exciting new SubZero unique Digital Storm systems, find those at the bottom of this page:
 
 


Edited by !ender_ - 22 Dec 2010 at 12:34am
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 9:02pm
Stage 1:Payment Recieved
Money processed and accounted for / Parts list generated

Stage 2:Parts Gathered
All parts of the order are brought together and checked individually, they stay together from here on, no part is ever tossed in at the last minute

Stage 3:Test Bench
Everything is assembled outside of your case on a "test bench". Operating systems, drivers, testing programs are all installed here, the bench set up allows easy trouble shooting and individual hardware stress testing

Stage 4:To the case!
Everything is seperated and put in the case with long term cable management in mind (another reason the test bench is beneficial)

Stage 5:Retesting
The system is retested as a whole to monitor performance and temperatures.
If anything you wanted was out of stock, the computer can still make it this far so it shortens the wait. When the new part comes in it will be tested and installed individually.
 
Stage 6:Double check and triple check
Another seperate analysis to make sure all of the correct components are in place, all tests in each stage were completed properly, any special requests were properly completed, and any requested software is in place.

Stage 7:Pack 'n ship
Foam filling to keep the parts in place inside the case which goes in generous and overzealous packaging is sent out!
 
Stage 8(not real): Chomping at the bit
This is where we see what I like to call "im so excited i dont know what to do with myself" syndrome. It actually starts right after stage 1. You will be super active on the forums and ask tons of questions like "How could I go from stage 2 to stage 3 in 2 minutes then be on stage 4 for 2 hours?!"  or  "How could my package be in IOWA FOR 3 WHOLE DAYS IM SO UNNECESSARILY MAD" until you finally get your box, and we dont hear from you for several days.
 
 
------------------------------------------------------------------
8/14/10, beta posted, still art to add and im sure plenty of typos to find
             pictures added, some typos fixed!
8/15/10 added 1156v1336, monitor selection, added to video card section
8/17/10 tuned down the anti sli, adding bits of info to several sections
           more info across several posts, cleaned up video card section
8/18/10 some final touchups, updated ram section, added to noise supression
8/19/10 added stage layout
            added sli budget advice
9/18/10 reworded some parts, added and removed some sections to make more clear
9/21/10 updated to include charts for stock/overclocked processors and stock/SLI graphics cards


Edited by !ender_ - 28 Nov 2010 at 12:23am
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  Quote Raif Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 10:24pm
if i may post a edit....

when you talk in the hdd section udner the configurator.... the intel ssd line is 40, 80, 160 not 40, 80, 120. just trying to help great guide so far

i read somewhere on high density drives ( over 1tb) that they have higher failures due to issues with the density itself and that it should be fixed by next year. i fican find it again i will post.

adding something about the difference between evga brand and nvidia brand and the different models ( nvida, evga, evga superclocked ar for ex) would be nice. the same for the ATI brand as well. this way people know what is worth it and what isn't.


Edited by Raif - 14 Aug 2010 at 11:04pm
2.5 Ghz Core duo
Nvidia 9500 gt
3 gb 1033 Mhz ram

if we can't answer a question shoot a e-mail here.

sarah@digitalstormonline.com
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  Quote dranza Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 10:44pm
Although Window 7 Home Premium is good enough, might wanna add that you can't make some tweaks to windows without messing around with the registry in win 7 home premium and installing or updating drivers isn't a walk in the park for those that insist to "clean" update drivers such as display drivers since window 7 automatically installs the driver and there is no option to disable it in window 7 home premium.
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  Quote Raif Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 14 Aug 2010 at 10:58pm
bump
2.5 Ghz Core duo
Nvidia 9500 gt
3 gb 1033 Mhz ram

if we can't answer a question shoot a e-mail here.

sarah@digitalstormonline.com
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  Quote Ch3ssplay3r Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 12:09am
I must say, this most certainly needed to be posted. Did i catch a portal reference, or was it just my imagination? Nice work. Now we just need alex to come around and sticky it.

Edited by Ch3ssplay3r - 15 Aug 2010 at 12:12am
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  Quote mwilke Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 12:21am
!ender has my vote for President.
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  Quote Runes Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 12:40am
Honestly, this thread needs a link on the configurator.
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 12:52am

updated a bit, if ther are specific topics anyone wants feels should be added, feel free to suggest them, as long as they are in line with what somone needs to consider when picking a gaming config

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  Quote Runes Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 2:36am
Maybe add a section about monitor resolution, possibly suggesting that people consider upgrading their monitors if they're building a computer out of its league?

You could add it in under each of the budget sections, maybe something like this:

If you're using a monitor with a resolution of less than ---- x --- with this build, you should consider factoring a better monitor into your budget OR dropping [insert part here] to [insert other part here] and using the saved money for a fancy new display.



Edited by Runes - 15 Aug 2010 at 2:38am
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  Quote SemperFuzz Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 9:48am
Absolutely Incredible Post thank you Ender!  maybe you could elaborate on Memory section such as the need to go with DS Ram versus Corsair?  Does the Corsair tighter timing really make a difference in gaming?  Of course i am switching from 2 gigs of Mushkin Redline DDR1 500mhz to 6 gigs of either DS 1600 or Corsair 1600 so i am sure my jaw will drop either way.  Thanks Buddy
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 10:35am
the exact specs on all the ram im still waiting for, cant give a confident answer without those, but alex has gotten me all the other info quickly, so it wont be long
 
organised a little and added a "monitor" section
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  Quote Invader Mig Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 11:34am
Amazing job !ender. One quick question though. When you made the "middle of the road" config you upped the processor from a 760 to an 860. That adds on $76 to the price, but as far as I know adds no benefit to gaming with identical overclocks. I could be wrong, but I was just wondering.

Edited by Invader Mig - 15 Aug 2010 at 11:34am
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  Quote Dragoonseal Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 12:08pm
You can add a 40GB Intel SSD to the "Sweet Spot" config for a total of $1985, which happens to be my favorite build to suggest to people with a $2000 budget.
Lilim
Intel Core i7 920 @4.2GHz
HAF 932 - Dual SLI Nvidia GTX 480s
3x Intel X25-M G2 (80GB) SSD RAID0
R.I.P. Sinbad the cat (November 16, 1996 - April 18, 2011)
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  Quote sirsiddius Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 1:57pm
Nice guide, Read through all of it.
After seeing it being recommended left right and center in these forums, I gotta ask where's that king kong nh-d14? You show no love for said cooler, not even in the "unlimited budget' build.
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  Quote JJJJ_Shabadoo Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 2:01pm
Great stuff!

Under 'How to post for help', I'd tell people to post what resolution they plan on playing at.

Under 'Raid Options', you may want to post about RAID 1 being an option for those who want local data redundancy in case a hard drive fails. It's not something I'd recommend for most people, but it's good for those who will also use the system professionally and it'd be good for them to know the option is there.

Why the Auzen soundcard as opposed to the Creative Fatal1ty?

Also, under power supplies when you mention the Silverstone 1500, you may want to make a quick blurb that the Silverstone uses a proprietary cord, something most people don't know. If you lose that cord or leave it behind at a LAN, you're screwed and can't use your computer until you can order a replacement.
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  Quote JJJJ_Shabadoo Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 2:03pm
Originally posted by sirsiddius

I gotta ask where's that king kong nh-d14? You show no love for said cooler, not even in the "unlimited budget'

He mentions it under 'Extreme Cooling'
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  Quote sirsiddius Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 2:10pm
Originally posted by JJJJ_Shabadoo

Why the Auzen soundcard as opposed to the Creative Fatal1ty?


Because Creative driver's suck.
BOOM
But Auzentech uses creative chips, and their drivers are written by creative as well.
DOUBLE BOOM

TBH I don't know. But i do think you should note that if you are going to splurge for a soundcard you'd better have a decent 5.1 surround sound system or at least a good pair of cans.

No use buying a soundcard if all you're going to do is listen to audio through your monitor speakers.


Edited by sirsiddius - 15 Aug 2010 at 2:19pm
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  Quote Raif Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 3:17pm
GUIDE TO HELP YOU CHOOSE A MONITOR


PANEL TYPE:

Twisted nematic (TN): Panels are cheaper and can be tweaked to your liking , but the panels are not as good in terms of longevity. You can tell it is a TN by its unequal height anf vertical viewing angles. In the beginning TN panels suffered from ghosting and shadow-trail artifacts, however it was corrected in the new modern up to date models. TN's claim to fame is response time, however this varies with each individual color and transition. Most recently RTC (Response Time Compensation/ Overdrive) technology has been able to significantly increase performance in grey-to-grey (g2g) transitions while not making improvement on the rest or improvement the ISO response time.  TN's major problem is that it suffers from limited viewing angles, even more in the vertical direction. Colors them selves will change if you look at the monitor outside of its viewing radius, even more so from the vertical stand point that it will change into a completely different color.

Most TN panels display color using 6 bits per color (RGB) for a total of 18 bits. They are also unable to display 16.7 million color shades (24 bit True color) that are available with all modern cards today. If they can't do it how do they do it? the answer is simple. It uses a method that combines multiple adjacent pixels to create the desired color or shade. A more aggressive approach to this problem would be threw frame rate control (FRC). How does it work? it cycles different shades as with each new frame that passes to create the color or shade it normally can't. how can you tell it uses FRC? these are typically advertised as having 16.2 million colors. most people can notice the color simulation and some are highly bothered by this, it is also most easily identified in the darker tones, since you will be able to see the borders of the indivdual pixel if you look. As a result color and shade production is not very good and has short comings in display color gamut. Some the poor  color representation is a result of the backlight technology. Some use Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lamps (CCFL) as their backlight only being able to display 10% - 26% of the color gamut. However some using RGB backlights that can represent 76% to over 100% of the color gamut, which is very much noticeable to the human eye. what is the NTSC color gamut? it was developed in 1953 as a range of colors that we can possibly make.

a simulation of distorted color due to improper viewing angle would be this:
light red -> red -> dark red -> maroon -> brown -> black. however to get to maroon and darker you need to get 100 degrees or more past the preffered viewing point. ever feel like slouching maybe putting your feet up, wondering why your colored are screwed up and your image is distorted? now you know why. .


In-plane switching (IPS): Are more expensive, last longer, they have identical height and vertical viewing angles over 170 degrees (typically 178 degrees) and may also be tweaked. It was developed by Hitachi Ltd in 1996 to solve the viewing angle problems that the TN panels created. The difference between the two is that the light from pixels move side to side instead of perpendicular like the tn panels, which is how it got its name. as a result it reduces the amount of light scattering threw out the matrix. that is what gives IPS panels their very good color production and large identical viewing angle. At their start they had the same problems with ghosting, shadow-trails and poor response time, and  the poor contrast that TN did, although threw recent developments they have made incredible progress. Since it has great color production as well as large viewing angles ( only 2 degrees on either height or vertical may cause color shifting(178/180).) it is widely used in photography editing, graphic editing, video rendering/ creation/ editing and other professionals. Since it recent price decline it is now being seen more commonly in hobbyists, gamers and mainstream.

MONITOR RESOLUTION:

The most common that you will find will the be discussed below. each are different from the last the higher the resolution the higher the quality of the image, however it take more and more from your video card(GPU). you may combine multiple monitors to display different things for ultimate multitasking or use them to display a single image. it is common in current GPU technology to have a minimum of two ports to plug in your monitors on a single card.  A resolution example would be 3840 x 1080( two 1920 x 1080 monitors)  Using multiple monitors is also going to eat up your GPU power as well. The resolutions discussed below are all 1080p full hd.

Common resolutions:

1680 x 1050 - this is now a outdated platorm and is very cheap it does not require a lot of GPU power however that all depends on your individual demands
1680 x 1080 - this is replacing the previous resolution, it has slightly better visual quality costs only a fraction more and will be the new standard for now and in the near future
1920 x 1080 - the next step up, this requires a more powerful GPU to run again with each step up there is enhanced visual quality. this is common for photo/video editors and gamers.
1920 x 1200 -  another knotch on the belt, it is a little more demanding then the previous how ever you can use the same GPU
2560 x 1600 - this is something you would find only on the larger monitors and requires a lot more GPU power it may also require multiple GPU solutions ro run effecivly depending on your demands


THINGS YOU SHOULD IGNORE:

contrast ratio: there are many ways of getting the number and the manufacturer always puts up the higher one

dynamic contrast ratio: there are many ways of getting this as well and the manufacturer will alwyas put the number that suits them best.

response time: there are different methods like g2g, b2b, w2w, non accelerated and accelerated they will always post the best number and may not tell you what they measured and if it is accelerated or not.

PAY ATTENTION TO:

viewing angles: the higher the better quality the panel is , also identical is best

Response time: this is for IPS only, they currently don't have any acceleration, also you need to know this to find out what generation they are. they will have higher response times then TN however you want to try and get one of the faster IPS models to avoid potential visual artifacts discussed under the IPS section of panel types.

luminocity: some monitors are bright and some are dim

finish: some are matte some are glossy. matte  is a thicker finish and is terrible with glare and if light hits it will look like a giant smudge. glossy is thinner clearer finish if you have a light source behind you it could create problems making the image appear white. brighter monitors can also help off set the potential problems this is more so with matte over glossy.

colors: the more the better 16.7 m colors is standard

cord length: depending on if it is on the floor it may be a issue you may need a longer cord or a extension. most come with 6 ft cables

hdcp: this is important if you want to watch hd movies, with out it a blue ray player may not work. hdcp is hollywoods form of anti-piracy on blue rays, your player sends a code to the display device if the display device does not reply then the blue ray will not play.

pixel size per inch: the more pixels per inch the better

pixel patch: the smaller the better

www.newegg.com, www.tigerdirect.com, www.circuitcity.com, www.bestbuy.com have great selections. they don't carry all models of each brand for the ones they do not carry use the manufacturer website. the sites are in order that they came to mind not in order or price, they are usually equal or close some shopping around may be required for the best price.

Manufacturers:
list is in order of quality, ---- separates cost and quality tiers. all companies within their tiers are mostly equal in quality... otherwise it is just preferance in shape, color and style

Dell
HP
Gateway
----------------
BenQ
Samsung
LG
----------------
Hannsg
Asus
Acer

ATTENTION:

if it is possible to view the monitor in store before buying it would be good to do so, this way you know exactly what your buying. it is suggested you find a store that carries the particular model you want, further more the more expensive it is... the less likely you will find a instore demo.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

some manufacturers may have eluded me and some i have omitted like ezio and apple since their products cost so much more with out any increase in performance to warrant the extra money

for lower budgets on monitor start at the bottom work your way up, they tend to have better deals for the money spent then the guys at the top.

for people with larger budgets or who want the best start at the top work your way down.

please pardon the spelling errors and typos, i don't have spell check or a word processing app other then notepad and the post is too large to edit more then the first 3 paragraphs with the browser spell check

tn panel test done with my personal tn, family members tn panels as well, unfortunatly the only ips we had died after over 10 years of service two weeks ago so i was unable to test ips

monitor panel type information from wikipedia other then that it is from my own brain, even added things that wiki didn't know

Edited by Raif - 16 Aug 2010 at 2:27pm
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  Quote mrtanner69 Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 4:01pm
I think you SLI advice is flat wrong at this exact moment in history. With the latest Nvidia drivers 2*460 pretty much crushes a 480. ATI different story.

The Harcocp link is way out of date, they do nothing but recommend SLI at the moment, like every other credible site. The quote you chose smacked of trying to sell your point of view at the expense of pretty much all the data. Poor form.

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2010/08/09/geforce_gtx_460_1gb_sli_vs_radeon_hd_5870_cfx

Having being reading the forums here for a month (I just ordered a DS box) there is a clear single card bias on the config advice forums. The decision to choose SLI has many factors, but if you care about performance per $ you would never buy a 480 over dual 460. 480 was last months choice, not this months.

Here is a quote from Tom's

"The GeForce GTX 460 SLI configuration absolutely obliterates the GeForce GTX 480’s performance scores, landing a 26% performance coup de grace upon its big brother after continuously battering it with wins in every benchmark at every setting. That would put it in the same performance class as a certain $700 dual-GPU card, according to Don Woligroski’s recent review.  But—at less than $500—it doesn't even need to compete there. While far-more-expensive solutions do have their own particular strengths, what we really wanted to know was where our $460 would be best spent, and today’s test revealed that answer."

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-460-sli-geforce-gtx-480,2694-11.html
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 5:09pm
invader- you are exactly right, this is definitely a weakness of such specific price brakets, adding "just a little more to get this" game gets you way out of range very quickly, becuase of that, i tried to fit as much power as i could into the price range and not go too high. i did however edit to include this information
 
dragoon i agree, included
 
jjjj there is a lot of info on hdds that i had to leave out, while i agree with you, i left raid 1 out all together because i dont consider it related to building a gaming machine
 
jjj/sid - no reason on the Auzen .. to be honest i was pretty thrown when the $100 option wasnt there, my point was just to include a sound card, i didnt mean it as an individual reccomendation. hopefully the $100 option will come back
 
raif thanks for including some more entended monitor information
 
tanner, im not going to get into a debate about something i just explained. if you want to debate this, start a seperate thread, and maybe there you can explain why your "newer" review of gaming performance doesnt display or address any minimum fps which is exactly the weakness of comparing 460x2 to 480
 
 
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  Quote rayfinkle Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 6:02pm
I can't tell you how valuable this is to me. Thank you so much.
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  Quote Cretae Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 8:49pm
This is a superb guide and an amazing amount of work. You really touched all the bases. Kudos !ender_!
 
I must add, though, that I am not entirely comfortable with the inclusion of a particular sound card. It definitely appears as though that one (no matter which one it would happen to be) is being endorsed/recommended over the others. My personal view is that an audiophile has a pretty good idea what he wants. For the rest of us, I think the better choices are not necessarily currently found here at DS. The cards here are all quite high-end choices that IMO are overkill for all but the most discriminating.
 
Raif, really nice job on the monitor analysis!
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  Quote !ender_ Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 8:57pm
i agree, that seems to be the impression that most are getting, im going to take that out until the 100 dollar versions come back
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  Quote Raif Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 11:27pm
thanks for the kudos, it is still a work in progress i usually find one tidbit or another to add everyday. but then again in a tech world there is always more to learn and new stuff comming out.

a lot of people including some of our most knowledgeable don't even know what tn or ips means let alone how they work... it was work but i enjoyed it. i think the guide will be beneficial to all.

as i tweak my notepad version i will edit to keep it up to date, or if ender wants to put this in a specific part of the guide i can edit as posts and then they can be incorperated and deleted. also if i have missed something please let me know so it can be brought in,  again major kudos to ender!


Edited by Raif - 15 Aug 2010 at 11:31pm
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  Quote sirsiddius Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 11:30pm
@ Raif

Great write up, If you had done it yourself.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TFT_LCD#Twisted_nematic_.28TN.29
Look familiar by any chance?


Edited by sirsiddius - 15 Aug 2010 at 11:30pm
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  Quote Ch3ssplay3r Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 15 Aug 2010 at 11:58pm
Plagarism alert!!! *drops banhammer* jk Well, it's a fairly nice compilation of info. Rather useful i thought. A works cited would be nice, but hey, it's the internet.
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  Quote Raif Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 12:03am
i did copy some of it because it was extremely relevant how ever a good chunk of the work is my own

they explained the panels so perfectly that it is impossible to rewrite it and not lose any content, how ever that is a challenge i am tacking as we speak.

challenge complete it is now my own and in layman's terms muha ha ha ha ha

man i wish it wasn't so long so i can make it look all nice...


Edited by Raif - 16 Aug 2010 at 2:05am
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 2:35am
Very nice guide! Thanks for the hard work. We'll work this into the configurator directly soon, we're actually making a BRAND NEW, and AWESOME configurator that can easily hold all of the data, pictures, etc... I'm making this a sticky.
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  Quote Alex Quote  Post ReplyReply bullet Posted: 16 Aug 2010 at 2:36am
Originally posted by Raif


i did copy some of it because it was extremely relevant how ever a good chunk of the work is my ownthey explained the panels so perfectly that it is impossible to rewrite it and not lose any content, how ever that is a challenge i am tacking as we speak.challenge complete it is now my own and in layman's terms muha ha ha ha haman i wish it wasn't so long so i can make it look all nice...


If you could include your source in the post, that would be awesome bud!

Edited by Alex - 16 Aug 2010 at 2:36am
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