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Synchronous Failure (1147)
||23 entry(ies) in this category
| Did this gaming machine jump the shark? (Three) (4 comments )|
by: jacobvandy (1636) | Posted in cluster Final Round FiringSquad-Intel Editors Challenge
Posted 73 months ago ( edited 73 months ago ) in category DEFAULT
You've seen the parts, you've seen the tests, and now you want to know if they're worth buying? Okay, you asked for it... 48 hours in the making, here is your wrap up. Continue on to my final thoughts on each component and consequential percentage score. Prepare to enter the no-spin zone and all that jazz.
|» MEDIA (9)|
Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 (86%)
Thermaltake Blue Orb II (82%)
EVGA e-GeForce 7900 GS KO (76%)
EVGA nForce 680i LT (90%)
Corsair Dominator DDR2 (88%)
Thermaltake Kandalf LCS (94%)
Thermaltake ToughPower 1200W (91%)
Figure 1: Corsair Dominator Airflow RAM Cooler
Figure 2: Side Panel w/ 25cm Fan (different Kandalf)
» LO, HOW THE MIGHTY HATH FALLEN
Everything you love about Intel's Conroe architecture is present in the Core 2 Extreme, though it's a shame they have to charge so much for an unlocked multiplier. One look at the test results proves the E6600 at 3GHz performs as well as, if not better than, the X6800. Unfortunately, I do believe they were being held back by the graphics cards they were coupled with. This is most evident in Supreme Commander, where even the stock E6600 generated numbers similar to the X6800. If you're planning a new system with an X1900 XT or worse, a Core 2 Duo E6600 would be more than powerful enough, even without overclocking.
At $975, the X6800 simply isn't worth the price of admission. For the same amount of money, you can get the QX6700 and be ready for applications that take advantage of four processing cores. Better yet, save yourself about $400 and get the Core 2 Quad Q6600; the only difference between the two is a few hundred megahertz. If you aren't quite ready to take the plunge into quad-core, the new Core 2 E6320 is an amazing value for overclockers. Rumor has it that it can reach 3GHz on stock cooling with no problem, and who knew you would be able to get that coveted 4MB L2 cache for $168?
The bottom line is that you really can't go wrong with any of the Core 2 line of processors. Each and every last one of them will knock your socks right off. Alas, the only extreme thing about the X6800 is its price.
The Verdict: 86%
» IF ONLY LOOKS COULD CHILL
As per my recorded figures, the Blue Orb II isn't terribly effective in reducing the CPU temperature. Of course, your results may vary based upon ambient room temperature, overall case environment, and the thermal interface material used. Nonetheless, the fan is much quieter than the X6800's retail solution. At 1700 RPM, it isn't much louder than the 120mm fans that come with the Kandalf case.
If I were to purchase an aftermarket heatsink/fan combination, it probably wouldn't be this one. For a bit more green, you can get some serious cooling hardware with heatpipes that would perform a lot better. Throw in a silent 120mm fan and you're golden. Regardless, in its own right, the Thermaltake Blue Orb II is a nice mix of a quiet fan and efficient heatsink which is completely worth using over a stock cooler if you happen to have one lying around.
The Verdict: 82%
» THE LITTLE GPU THAT COULD
Surprisingly, the e-GeForce 7900 GS KO still has some spunk left in it. It's capable of maxing out F.E.A.R., Company of Heroes, and Counter-Strike: Source while maintaining a smooth framerate in the forties, provided you have sufficient CPU muscle behind it. Newer games should run at a respectable clip, though substantial amounts of eye candy will need to be disabled.
From my brief experimentation, I could tell that the 7900 GS KO has plenty of overclocking potential. Even though EVGA sells them clocked a bit higher than other versions of the 7900 GS, it took the 10% boost in clock frequencies without missing a beat. This resulted in proportional increases in both 3DMark graphics tests. I have no doubt that, with the proper cooling and technique, it could be pushed even higher.
At this point in time, I canít recommend a 7900 GS over a similarly priced card from the GeForce 8 series. If youíre looking to spend less than $200 on a video card, Iím guessing you want something that will last you a good while, and buying dated technology would defeat that purpose. An 8600 with its expanded feature set Ė DirectX 10, Shader Model 4.0, OpenGL 2.1 Ė and improved shading capabilities would serve you well in keeping up with future games. However, the 7900 GS KO exceeded my expectations performance-wise, so if you can get a really good deal from a friend or clearance sale, a 7900 GS might be worth picking up. Otherwise, there are better alternatives.
The Verdict: 76%
» THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID
Though you won't think twice about cool abbreviations, the EVGA nForce 680i LT SLI is a "lite" version of a much more feature-rich motherboard. The regular 680i has improved heatpipe cooling on the chipsets, a 1x PCI-E graphics slot, POST-code LCD display, on-board speaker, and integrated power and reset buttons. One of the more important differences I noticed is that the 680i supports SLI-Ready memory up to 1200MHz, far beyond the 680i LT limit of 800MHz. Specific note should be made if you are considering faster RAM to pair with a 680i-based motherboard.
The 680i series does not have a parallel port or serial port on the back I/O panel. This is alright with me because I havenít used a device that requires such an interface in quite some time. But it makes me wonder why they continue to include PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports. The last time I owned a keyboard that used PS/2 instead of USB was, well, around the time I used a printer that plugged into a parallel port! Call it a pet peeve, but you would think they could utilize that space much more efficiently.
On-board audio chipsets are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The Azalia high-definition audio codec on the 680i LT sounds very good and supports up to 7.1 surround sound. The software even knows when you plug a device into the rear ports and can notify you if youíve connected something wrong. For gaming and casual music or movies, I donít think an add-on sound card is necessary.
The EVGA NVIDIA nForce 680i LT is a very capable motherboard available at a decent price. The basic chipset cooling and limited RAM speed support leave something to be desired, but overall, it is worthy of any high-end LGA 775 rig.
The Verdict: 90%
» SLI AIN'T JUST FOR VIDEO CARDS
I agree, this particular aspect of the Dominator's repertoire bears a strange namesake, but hear me out. Corsair and NVIDIA developed SLI-Ready memory to be able to utilize a small bit of unused read-only memory on the RAM module. This storage space is used for what are called Enhanced Performance Profiles. When memory with EPP is used in tandem with supporting motherboards, the BIOS can read the information and adjust system settings for peak performance. This essentially allows the user to tweak the RAM timings, clock frequency, and voltage by changing just one setting. It can also alter the CPU multiplier and FSB frequency, though you will need to manually increase the CPU voltage if needed. Advanced overclockers may wish to have complete control over every aspect of the memory's configuration, but this baseline for optimal performance may still be of use.
The Corsair Dominator RAM is a bit expensive for my taste, but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Seeing as how the 680i LT does not natively support memory speeds higher than DDR2-800, you may want to opt for something cheaper if you do not need the headroom. If you are overclocking, you will enjoy the most elaborate cooling scheme I have ever seen in a RAM module. Don't forget the optional, tri-fan device pictured in Figure 1 to keep your memory as cool as possible.
The Verdict: 88%
» AT DAWN, LOOK TO THE EAST
Lacking any magical abilities to speak of, the Thermaltake Kandalf LCS must impress through more conventional methods. With its all-aluminum construction, ample workspace, tool-less peripheral installation, and built-in water-cooling equipment, it aims to please. There is room for improvement, though. I would like if it would more easily accommodate physically larger power supplies. Right now, the PSU support bar and ceiling-mounted 90mm fan are unusable in conjunction with the ToughPower 1200W. Also, since the plastic clips that secure PCI devices don't fit onto dual-slot video cards, I removed the entire mechanism and haven't looked back. Thankfully, only screws held it to the back panel. If these issues were dealt with, my experience would have been quite smoother.
Including several high-quality fans is a pleasant trend featured in the more expensive cases. Not only does it save you the hassle of planning to purchase various case fans, but it is probably much cheaper than buying them separately. I like having the option of adding an additional intake fan, even though it may not be necessary. When searching for user reviews on Newegg, I came across a side panel with a 25cm fan built into the center window. Yes, a 250mm fan in the middle of the panel that would blow air directly onto the CPU, RAM, north- and southbridge, and video card. Less than $40 gets you silently increased overall system airflow and a replacement side panel, if you need it. I will definitely pick one up for myself. See Figure 2.
There are no noise-dampening accoutrements, something I would expect from such an expensive case, making silent cooling even more desirable. With a mounted hard drive in direct contact with the metal frame, the vibrations caused by heavy disk activity seem to be amplified. This is a stark contrast to the Antec P180 that I have been using for a little over a year, with its rubber grommets and plastic-layered outer casing. Depending on the environment in which you plan to use the system and the level of noise you are comfortable with, you may want a case better suited for quiet operation.
All in all, the Thermaltake Kandalf LCS is an excellent case and will most likely become a part of my main rig. Figuring in the cost of buying all the water-cooling parts separately, this is actually quite a bargain. If youíre looking for a roomy, stylish case and perhaps an introduction to liquid-cooling, this is worth your while.
The Verdict: 94%
» POINT-OH-OH-TWELVE GIGAWATTS
The modular cable design featured in the Thermaltake ToughPower 1200W is becoming more popular than ever. It nicely removes a large amount of clutter and clears a path for hot air to rise through the Kandalfís ceiling vent. There are those that would have you think that the extra connection creates additional resistance and could alter the voltage. Judging from how many power supplies implement a modular system, I would tend to believe that it isn't as big of a problem as they make it out to be.
Every cable is sheathed for tidiness and color-coded so that it is easy to tell where they plug in to the unit. Also, each socket is labeled to show correspondence with a +12V rail. The manual specifies that the 24-pin main and peripherals share the first rail (20A), the CPU uses the second (20A), and graphics cards use the third and fourth (both 36A). This information is very important for planning how a high-end system goes together.
Multiple +12V rails in a PSU can cause problems. When one component doesnít use as many amps as a rail is capable of providing, the leftover amps are wasted because the rail is not connected to the rest of the computer. Then there is the threat of increasing power requirements of processors and video cards. If a component attempts to draw more amps than a single rail can supply, the PSU will shut down. For these reasons, many of the more expensive power supplies utilize a single +12V rail with a large amount of amperage. With 36A on each of two rails dedicated to whatever multi-GPU setup you throw at it, I doubt it will be much of a problem for the ToughPower 1200W.
Though it may not last its advertised life span of well over a decade, the Thermaltake ToughPower 1200W wonít have me worrying about watts or amps for a good long while. Let's face it, there aren't many people that need 1200 watts of power. However, if you can scrounge up the extra dough on top of that beast of a system that merits such a PSU, itís a swell choice.
The Verdict: 91%
Upon receiving the components, one thing that came to mind almost immediately was that this video card is out of place. I don't want to sound ungrateful, because I really do appreciate all that the guys at FiringSquad have done to give me this opportunity and all this free stuff. Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is that there is no realistic explanation as to why someone would put together a gaming rig like this. Everything is such top-notch equipment... the case, CPU, motherboard, RAM... I hadn't even heard of a 1200W power supply until now! It would be much more practical to spend less on the CPU, PSU, and RAM so that you could afford a better graphics card.
Unfortunately, I didn't receive the Kandalf's pump and reservoir in time to include more details about the liquid cooling system in my article. Perhaps I will post my findings at a later date if there is interest.
Once again, I'd like to thank FiringSquad for running this contest and everyone who has read (and hopefully enjoyed) my entries. It's been fun and I've learned a lot. :)
|4 User Comment(s) • 3 root comment(s)|
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