It has been at least 3 years since my last PC build. My rule of thumb is to build a new PC with at least twice the capacity at the same price. A lot has changed in 3 years so it’s pretty easy to find new parts with at least 2x the power. From my shopping list, I received the parts from NewEgg, and various other stores:
- CPU: Intel E7200 Core2 Duo 2.53 Ghz Socket 775 1066 Mhz FSB
- Motherboard: Asus P5Q Pro LGA 775 Intel P45 -2 PCIe 16x with 8x Bridge
- Memory: 4 Gigs (2×2) Patriot DDR2-1066
- Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 500 Gb 7200 RPM 32mb Cache SATA
- Video Card: Powercolor ATI Radeon HD4850 Crossfire
- CD/DVD Drive: LG 20X DVD/CD Burner SATA
- Case: Antec Three Hundred
- Power Supply: Cooler Master 750W-80Plus Crossfire Ready
The difficulty, of course, is to find bargains for the new parts. In order to stay a little ahead of the technology curve, I have to spend a little bit more on parts like the video card, power supply, motherboard, and memory. In my setup, the standard is set with the ATI HD4850 video card. The Crossfire capable card enables me to gain more speed by piggybacking another of the same card to boost performance. To have dual cards, I need a half decent motherboard, like the Asus P5Q Pro, with two 16x PCIe slots. The potential bottleneck is the 8x bridge between the two PCIe slots, but tests revealed the speed gained is quite good – almost comparable to X38 and X48 boards. In addition, the HD4850 has high power requirement (at least 325W), and dual cards setup needs another 150W. This is where the behemoth 750W power supply comes in.
The choice for a Core2 Duo, instead of a Quad, is more towards pricing. The Intel Q6600 is $190 vs. the E7200 $120. A $70 difference for a questionable performance increase (in most applications) is not worth it. I may end up trying to overclock the E7200 to 3.0 Ghz to increase performance.
Another potential upgrade is the memory. The board has room for another 4Gb (2×2) of RAM. I’ll get some more when the prices for PC8500 memory go down below $50. It’s currently hovering around $100.
Also, with hard drive prices falling down so fast, there’ll be a chance to upgrade to terabytes of disk space. So it looks like for the next 3 years or so, I’ll have plenty of opportunity to tweak this new build.