Friday, December 26, 2008

What would you build if money was no object?

I've been asked this question a few times over the years, and my current answer would look something like this:

I would start off with an Antec Twelve Hundred case. There are more expensive cases I could choose, without a doubt, but anyone can simply choose the most expensive items they can find. The Twelve Hundred has all of features that I would want in an expensive case - tons of fans, for good cooling, lots of room, and I like the power supply being located on the bottom. I just wish it had a left side motherboard mount option - but I've only seen that in one case and it's no where near big enough for what I would pack into this beast.

Antec Twelve Hundred - $159.99

To power this machine I would need one serious power supply - the only choice for me in this case would be a PC Power and Cooling 1200W power supply. You'll see why later on.

PC Power and Cooling 1200W power supply - $449.99

Now for the motherboard. Intel socket 1366 is a no brainer, for the new Core i7 processor, but which one? The most obvious choice would be the ASUS Rampage II at 398 dollars, but I'm just not a fan of ASUS - honestly, I think the Evga board is a better product here mainly because of the top-notch customer service from Evga. The difference in customer support is eye-opening when you read the customer reviews. All of the ASUS manufacturer responses were essentially 'canned' answers directing the reviewer to visit the ASUS tech support website, and signed 'The ASUS support team'; while the Evga responses were all personally written and signed by Jacob, in one instance asking for the name of a tech that gave less than stellar customer service!

Evga X58 chipset motherboard - $299.99

There are three Core i7 processors to choose from - since this is a 'money is no object' build, the natural choice is the Extreme Edition.

Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 3.2 Ghz Quad Core processor - $1012.99

Next comes the RAM. This beast uses DDR3, and is easily capable of 1600 mhz memory bus speed. Its 'triple channel' as well so its best to get 6 identical modules and populate all 6 memory slots. I decided to choose some memory with a little headroom and selected Corsair Dominator DDR3-1800 2x2GB module pairs (three of them) for a total of 12 GB of RAM.

12 GB (6x2GB) Corsair Dominator DDR#-1800 RAM - $987

Next comes the reason for that 1200W power supply - VIDEO CARDS! This motherboard supports 3 way SLI. That means 3 Geforce GTX-280 1GB Video cards from Evga. I would have preferred two or three Radeon HD 4870x2 cards but this board only supports SLI. The next generation of these Core i7 boards will likely suport both SLI and CrossfireX.

3 Geforce GTX-280 1 GB Video cards - $1199.97

Next comes our hard drives. At first I considered a four WD Velociraptors in RAID 0 for the boot drive, but after looking at SSD's they are definitely the way to go if you have the money. The read performance is far faster then anything else available. Users typically report boot times for Vista at under 8 seconds - and thats just using ONE! The best performers seem to be made by Intel, so thats what I selected for the boot drive - four of them actually, in a RAID 0 array for positively insane program loading loading speeds. Don't blink or you'll miss the Windows splash screen.

4 Intel X25-E Extreme High performance solid state 32 GB drive - $2876.00

Since these drives are only 32 GB each for a total of 128GB for the boot drive, we're going to need some insanely huge storage drive to match. This one is actually an easy choice to make - Seagate's 1.5 TB Barracuda SATA 3.0 Gb/s hard drive. We can alway add more when this one fills up.

Seagate 1.5 TB hard drive - $139.99

Next we need an optical drive - Of course we are going to want a blu-ray drive here. I'm not really into multiple optical drives so one is all I need.

LG Blu-ray burner - $249.99

Well, that takes care of the internals, and we're only up to $7,375 - what a bargain! Now for some peripherals that can really take advantage of all this computing power. First thing is a monitor - a really BIG monitor, otherwise the $1200 spent on video cards is wasted. Heres a nice one:

30" HP LCD monitor - $1259.99

I'm not really into fancy keyboards, but a nice wireless heyboard and mouse would be sweet. Logitech makes a nice set with a curved ergo design similar to the MS comfort curve keyboards that I like.

Logitech Wave Pro Desktop wireless keyboard and mouse - $129.99

Last but not least is a killer set of speakers. I would have liked to get a speaker set from Bose, but they don't have a 5.1 configuration available. So the next choice was Logitech's top end Z-5500 surround sound system.

Logitech Z-5500 5.1 surround speaker system - $302.99

Total cost for this entire dream system? a mere $9,068.88 before shipping and taxes. about 3 months pay for me. Next time I'll put together a serious high performance system thats actually affordable.

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