The Final X-Ray
We have been talking off and on about the various components we used in building the X-Ray but at the end of the day a computer is not it’s parts. As we take this final look at the completed X-Ray we will begin by giving you a breakdown of the final parts used.
- Case: Thermaltake Spedo Advance Package
- PSU: Antec Truepower New 750 Blue
- CPU: AMD Phenom II 1090T Six Core
- Motherboard: Asus Crosshair IV
- RAM: Kingston Hyper-X DDR3 1600, 8 Gig
- Storage: Kingston SSDNow V Series 128 Gig
- GPU: Powercolor PCS+ 5870
- Cooling: Corsair H50
- OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Bit
The idea was to build the biggest and baddest AMD based computer we could put together. At stock speeds this system flew through everything I threw at it but that was not enough. Since we had excellent cooling with the case the the liquid cooling for the CPU we pushed this system farther by overclocking.
Because the 1090T is a Black Edition processor it has an unlocked multiplier, this means it is easy to overclock. Now doing this has voided the warranty on the chip but with a little caution a safe overclock is possible. To ensure there was little chance of damaging my chip I set a limit to the overclock of not raising the chip voltage. Putting more power in the chip, Tim Taylor style, is one of the techniques used to push an overclock higher. Doing so however can put a nice heat bump on the chip.
With the chip left at stock voltages I was able to push all six cores to 3.8Ghz. However I had to turn off Cool n Quiet as well as Turbo Core to achieve this level. The boost however gives a nice rise in the raw power the chip can deliver.
Testing of the chip at stock and overclocked levels showed no real difference in everyday use, but this is meant to be a lean mean gaming machine. The overclock did give a boost in a few RTS games but overall the boost was not really noticeable without benchmarking.
I chose to run this system with 8 Gig of RAM to push the build beyond the typical build. For a long time I said that 8 Gig would not give a boost over 4 Gig so we out this to the test. We also tested speed. In the picture of the X-Ray you will notice that there is Corsair RAM in the system. This was 1333 RAM and we used it to set the 4 Gig low speed base line. We then tested with 4 Gig of the Kingston Hyper-X and then moved to 8 Gig.
As we reported on the show last week the move from 1333 to 1600 made NO difference in performance of real world usage. I threw quite a bit besides games at the system and could never tell the difference. What about the jump from 4 to 8 Gig? Well again there was no difference until I edited some large audio files and then the extra RAM showed up. The editing process sped up noticeably. However outside of that one application the difference did not exist.
I could talk about the performance advantage an SSD provides but I think you know how I feel on that from the last few shows. I will say however that I was able to do a direct comparison of the Kingston V Series to the Patriot Torqx. Now on paper and in every benchmark the Torqx was faster than the V. However in real world usage the differences did not exit. At no time could anyone see in their use of the computer a difference between the two SSDs, they did however see a huge difference between these and any spindle drive.
The 5870 may not be the pure top of the line for AMD but it is right up there and I have to admit it is amazing. At 1680×1050 this card has a ton of power to spare. There was NOTHING I threw at it that did not run perfect at near maximum detail levels.
In case you not notice yet I did not list an optical drive in the parts. The reason was I had made a comment a bit back that it was possible to prepare your software in advance and then live without an optical drive on the PC. With the X-Ray I have proven this. I was able to install the OS from a flash drive courtesy of a MS utility. Office can be installed via downloads and games can easily be gotten via Steam or Impulse.
So we have all this monster system but at what cost? Well lets compare, the X-Ray comes in at a price of $2100 if you build it yourself. The system was fun to build to be honest, most fun I have had building a system in a long time and it delivers amazing performance. But is it worth the cost?
I have a more mainstream build sitting on my work desk. Based on a 1055T and a 5770 for video this system comes in at $950. Without overclocking, running at stock the 1055T is a very capable chip. I could not find anything we threw at it that it could not deliver good performance on. In fact if you take out the benchmarks it was doing good enough to be indistinguishable from the 1090T except in heavy audio and video editing.
The 5770 of course lacks the horsepower of the 5870 but still delivers a good gaming experience at 1680×1050. Note I said good. The 5770 could not hope to match the detail level that the 5870 could reach and keep up the speed. This resulted in the 5870 presenting a better looking game during play. To more casual gamers the difference was not big enough to justify the cost but to the more hardcore of us we just got spoiled by the better image quality and could not see going back.
The difference in the cases, the mainstream machine uses an Antec Three Hundred was noticeable. The Spedo was a ton easy to build in with a lot more room and an amazing system for cable management. However with the dual 120mm fans in the front of the Three Hundred it did not fall as far behind the Spedo as you might expect in cooling. The Spedo’s massive size though comes at a price, the size makes it hard to find a good place to put it. It barely fits under my desk, in fact it actually fits only well enough for one USB and the ESATA port to be used, the others are blocked.
The Corsair H50 proved itself to be worth the extra cost without reservation. The opening of the motherboard makes it easy to work than the results of the better air cooling systems. In fact I now consider this cooler an essential part of all my future personal builds.
I could go on about the advantages of SSDs but I think over the last few weeks I have made my position clear. I can tell you however that like the H50 if it is a build for me then I will spend the money, the performance boost is just that nice.
The Crosshair IV motherboard is a work of art. It looks amazing and has a great feature set, but like any work of art it comes at a price and I question if that price is worth the results. The board is beautiful but lets face it the case will set under a desk and a work of art that no one sees is meaningless. As for the features many of the same features can be found on less expensive boards and the ones that cannot be found are just not worth the cost difference.
At the end of the day the X-Ray is a great machine. It has enough horsepower to handle anything I throw at it and not break a sweat. I can say as well that this is most fun I have had building a PC in a long time. I took the time to throw in some lights and it has a nice red glow beneath my desk on a dark night. However at the end of the day one question must be answered, if I had been forced to buy these various parts entirely with my own money would I have done so?
I think I am going to leave everyone in suspense on that answer. On the show tomorrow we will be discussing the value of a high end machine over a mainstream build and talking this question, which I promise to answer at the end of the show. For now however I am going to take the X-Ray out for some gaming runs and enjoy this monster build.