January 30, 2011

New Sandy Bridge PC

*Update* (9 Mar 11) OK, Well that went faster than I thought. On Friday I got the notice about the replacement motherboards being available. Filled in the Paperwork, the replacement was shipped on Monday, got it at 1 PM on Tuesday and did the transplant. It only took about 2 1/2 hours. Computer fired back up with no problems. Packed up the old board and got it to our local UPS store in time for the 4:30 PM Pickup. Newegg.com (our board vendor) rocks! Total cost to us, $0 (not counting 7 miles worth of gas to get to the UPS store)! 
I've also updated our Bill of Materials to show our system as it now is.  Click Here to see the "As Built" Bill of Materials

*Update* (1 Feb 11) Well it seems that Intel has a bug in their P67 & H67 "Cougar Point" Chipsets for their new line of "Sandy Bridge" series CPUs  Click here for the Geeky Details.  As a result, all boards with these chips are being recalled and replaced.  Also, all the distributors have stopped shipment of new motherboards containing these chips.  So the system I'm building is basically unaffected as I ordered everything before the shipping halt. I did however upgrade to the ASUS Maximus IV Board, which is a slightly higher priced "Enthusiast" Board, but has sufficient SATA III and non-Intel SATA II ports to meet our needs now and in the foreseeable future.    The vendors have also promised to exchange the motherboard with an upgraded one when Intel ships the "fixed" chip in about the April or May timeframe.  So it will cause me some extra work to swap MOBOs, when the new ones are available.

It seems that around $2,000 is a sweet spot for "Non-Extravagant",  "Enthusiast" PC builds. 
Back in 2009 when I built our prior PC (see our July 2009 Core i7-920 SFF PC Build article), the entire build totaled $2,208.70
The parts we ordered for this build totalled $2,295.89 (if we bought everything from Newegg.com, our favorite vendor).  We didn't though,  we bought some parts on Amazon.com (click here to see their prices on our build parts).  It turns out that we can buy from Amazon using our Prime account, get two day free shipping.  Note that not all the parts are currently available on Amazon - so I've made some substitutions.
Prices on Amazon  were lower for some items and Newegg's were lower for some others, so we bought each part where the net cost to us was lower.  Another useful thing about Amazon is that you can now use American Express Membership Rewards Points to buy items, since we had a pile of those, this PC only cost us a few hundred dollars.  If we paid for everything (no points) we would have saved about $200 by buying some parts at Amazon. 
If you do buy any of these parts from Amazon, please use our link above - then Mary and I will earn a few bucks commission (thank you!).

In our June 2009 PC, the CPU we used was the Core i7-920 Nehalem 2.66 Ghz processor which cost $280.  At the same time, the absolute top of the line was an i7-9xx (I forget the xx number, Intel changed that part soon after) and it cost just over $1,000.  In early January 2011, Intel launched the "Sandy Bridge" family of processors and now the top of the line i7-9600k can be purchased for $330. 
Today (Jan 30, 2011), the top of the line i7 Gulftown Part is the i7- 980x and cost $999.99 - it has a Passmark CPU Mark rating of 10,466.  The i7-9600k's rating is 9,331.  Not bad for a part that's 1/3rd the cost!  Just for comparison, the 2009 i7-920 has a CPU Mark rating of 5,554.  Moore's Law Rocks!
Video cards have come a long way too.  The Radeon HD 4890 card from 2009 cost $215 and has a Passmark G3D Mark rating of 1,941.  Our new Radeon HD 6950 cost $290 (Amazon) and has a G3D Mark rating of 3,038.
Hard drives improved too!  Our storage drive is now 3 TB (instead of 1.5) and instead of a fast hard drive, we've moved (in speed, not size) up to a 120 GB Solid State Drive for our boot device.  The OCX Vertex 2 120 GB SSD drive is really fast.  Our Western Digital 300 GB VelociRaptor drive in our 2009 system has a Passmark Disk Mark rating of 758, our new SSD Drive's rating is 1,712, Wow!
Click Here to see the Bill of Materials for the parts that we're using to build our new PC.  Drop me a note if you have any questions or see me on Facebook!
  • The Zalman CPU Cooler is not currently available on Amazon, so I've substituted the Cooler Master Hyper 212+.  It performs nearly as well, is less expensive, and would have been our backup choice.  We looked at water cooling, but (in my opinion) it wasn't worth the expense or bother for the incremental cooling it provides.
  • I've used the Passmark Ratings for speed comparisons above.  There are lots of measures of performance,  different benchmarks can report different results (your mileage may vary!).  I've used them solely for rough comparative purposes.  You can access all their benchmarks at http://www.cpubenchmark.net/
  • Building your own PC isn't too difficult, but if you're a N00B, you should review the outstanding resources online on how to do it before you proceed.