New gaming machine specs

I have now the full specs for my suggested new gaming PC. Here is a quick rundown (skip this if not interested in current gaming PC gear; this is written mostly just as my own review notes):

A Data Vitesta memory

The memory: two 1GT DDR2 800MHz, Vitesta, 240-pin DIMM from A-Data. It appears to have a lifetime warranty, which is encouraging. The full product specs from Taiwanese manufacturer are here: http://www.adata.com.tw/adata_en/product_show.php?ProductNo=AD2800U

EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS

The graphics card is another key element. That is coming from a company called EVGA, and the full title of the model is e-GeForce 8800 GTS 640MB/320Bit DDR3, PCI-E. Also this manufacturer claims to offer “lifetime warranty” for registered customers. The manufacturer specs are here: http://www.evga.com/products/moreinfo.asp?pn=640-P2-N821-AR&family=23 and the PDF spec sheet here: http://www.evga.com/products/pdf/640-P2-N821.pdf

The essential facts are: DirectX 10 (for Windows Vista Premium), SLI capable (good if you want to plug in another one and really go for the overkill), 240 Hz Max Refresh Rate, 2048 x 1536 x 32bit x85Hz Max Analog, 2560 x 1600 Max Digital; PCI-E 16X, two DVI-I outputs, and one HDTV (through a DVI-I, also a S-Video output in DIN-style, but not a HDMI). They also link to one online review: nV News’ EVGA GeForce 8800 GTS SLI Review (done in February, they were running two of these in SLI parallel mode): http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/evga_geforce_8800gts_sli/index.shtml

They conclude: “I won’t lie: when I first saw the (seemingly) “crippled” specs of the 8800 GTS, I scoffed at the thought of using one or two of those cards when the GTX has SO much more power. But after using these for the past few weeks, I can say without a doubt that these cards are amazing. The almost-free antialiasing in a number of games, the overall amazing picture quality and DirectX 10 support are just three of MANY reasons you should own an 8800-based card.” Well, ok, I think I can live with that for a while. Btw, if you want to see the tester being killed by a troll in The Dark Messiah, here is a video clip: http://www.nvnews.net/reviews/evga_geforce_8800gts_sli/video/dark_messiah.mpg

This is clearly mainly built to be a gamer’s card; the HDTV side is crippled since HDCP protected content can only be output in single-link DVI mode and only 1280×800 resolution is supported, which is a bit disappointing.

The disk will be a Samsung: 500GB Spinpoint T166, 3.5″, SATAII/300, 16MB, 7200RPM. The manufacturer specs are here: http://www.samsung.com/Products/HardDiskDrive/SpinPointTSeries/HardDiskDrive_SpinPointTSeries_HD501LJ.asp
It is a rather cheap drive, hope it will last (no lifetime warranty here…) There seem to be no real reviews, but see e.g. http://www.pricegrabber.com/rating_getprodrev.php/product_id=29867541/id_type=masterid/

The optical reader / writer would be a LG: DVD+-RW DL LS, GSA-H12/22/42LRBB, 18x8x8x. They claim that this would burn a regular DVD in 5 minutes and support also burning dual-layer (8,5 GB) DVD burning (which is nice, because my stand-alone dual-layer burner is now broken). It is really difficult to find anything from LG’s own pages, but previous models have fared well in reviews. Here are some specs from a British store: http://www.pixmania.co.uk/uk/uk/539205/art/lg/gsa-h42lrbb-internal-writ.html#

LG's CD/RW/DVD reader/burner

The CPU will an Intel: Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz, 4MB, FSB1066 Boxed (Conroe). Tom’s Hardware Guide is a good resource of information when you want to know more about processors; here is an Intel platform overview (dated, 2004): http://www.tomshardware.com/2004/07/19/looking_ahead_to_intel/

In 2006 they announced Core 2 Duo as the new king of the hill: http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/07/14/core2_duo_knocks_out_athlon_64/

In a more recent article they compare Core 2 Duo to the Core Duo Extreme: http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/01/11/core-2-duo-overtakes-core-2-extreme/

This one is mostly interesting for those who will go into the overclocking game, but it appears that these “older” CPUs can actually outperform Intel’s top processors (in 1000-dollars range) by some proper overclocking. Hmm.

Core 2 Duo processor

Game PC took a closer look at E6600 in last October:
http://www.gamepc.com/labs/view_content.asp?id=e6600&page=1

Their verdict? “The Core 2 Duo E6600 mixes together excellent performance at stock clock speeds, low power consumption, a robust feature set and lots of overclocking potential all at a very tolerable price point.” Nice.

Then into the motherboard: this will be an Asus P5B I965P S775 Core 2 Duo SATA2, FSB1066. A motherboard is a crucial component since it pretty much sets the limits for the peripherals, extendibility and overall reliability you can expect from your PC. The integrated audio chip and connectors might be setting limits to your audio experience. Tom’s Hardware gives you the quick overall idea: http://www.tomshardware.com/2006/07/26/beginners_guide_to_motherboard_selection/index.html

Asus P5B from top
Asus P5B from back

As to this specific MoBo, you have the ASUSTeK manufacturer specs here: http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=11&l3=307&model=1178&modelmenu=1
They also advertise the silence and power-saving features of P5B in a flash show from a “lifestyle” (home theatre) perspective: http://event.asus.com/2006/mb/P5B/index.html
The board also supports something called AI NOS (Non-delay Overclocking System) to boost performance: http://event.asus.com/2006/mb/P5B/ainos.html
The noise filtering system claims to rely on a bundled “Superbeam Array Microphone”: http://event.asus.com/2006/mb/P5B/crystalsound.html (wonder whether that will come bundled with my system?)

The audio part is important for my media room setup (as are of course the system bus, integrated chipset, processor and memory supports, heat control solutions etc.), and even if any serious audiophile would probably upgrade for a separate hi-fi audio card, I will be happy to test the integrated “8 channel HD audio” — at least it has the digital sound output through an optical/coaxial connector so that is a plus.

The motherboard is nothing spectacular, but again another pretty reliable-looking mainstream solution. More on different P5B versions: http://event.asus.com/2006/mb/P5B/models.html

Antec Neo HE from back

Antec makes good power sources that I have been using also earlier, so I am happy this one also comes with one; Antec 430W, NeoHE 430, ATX2. This one won the MikroBitti 2/2006 power source comparison, so it should be ok (Antec has more efficient models these days, though). Powerful processors and particularly the graphics cards demand loads of electricity very fast, so this is another crucial, backbone part. The manufacturer page: http://www.antec.com/ec/productDetails.php?ProdID=05430# and see also Hardware in Review which writes about its energy efficiency in positive terms: http://www.hardwareinreview.com/cms/content/view/37/1/

CoolMaster Elite 300 from inside

The chassis is that part of PC that you will actually be looking and handling, so it would be good to have solid, well-equipped and well-designed one for my new system. In Jimm’s PC Store’s updated offer I have a newcomer specified: CoolMaster Elite 330 ATX. This is a rather basic case, but it has some nice details like the “tool-free” internal design and washable air filter: http://www.coolermaster.com/index.php?LT=english&Language_s=2&url_place=product&p_serial=RC-330&other_title=+RC-330+Elite%20330 and here’s the product sheet: http://www.coolermaster.com/installation_manual/Product_Sheet_(Elite330)_0328.pdf

I was long contemplating about getting a slick HTPC case with some proper AV style controls and connectors, but the price was in most cases ugly and there would have been some compromises in other areas (like expandability of the system) that made me finally go for a basic mini-tower.

Ok, that is pretty much it. The OS will be a MS Vista Home Premium Edition, but as I wrote earlier, there will probably be some multi-boot tweaking for this one. Or then I will just give up for all kind of tweaking altogether, and spend all my hard-earned summer vacation days (apart from the family business) just gaming, gaming, gaming! 🙂

Author: frans

Professor of Information Studies and Interactive Media, esp. Digital Culture and Game Studies in the University of Tampere, Finland.

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