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Old 04-26-2007, 09:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Lightbulb Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

I'm looking to build myself a new gaming rig to replace my ailing HP zd7000 laptop (it's had the mobo replaced once which took me 6 months to get HP to cop to the design flaw and do it for free, and it's barfing heat like a toaster again). I'd like to replace this thing as my main system before it craps out so I maybe have something to take with me when I need mobility.

I'm looking to build a gaming rig with the following:
OS: Windows XP Pro (Duh, Vista is a pile of crap)
(3) 19" lcd panels, prefer 1600x1200, 9ms or less
(would settle for 21" center and two 17's on their side for the right and left if resolution can't be met on all three 19's)
AMD processor, something better than Intel 3.2GhZ, prefer something in the dual core flavor, overclockable would be great as I plan on using water cooling
mobo with built in network, surround sound, RAID capable
2GB or better ram
dual video cards to support the 3 monitors (I've discounted the idea of the Matrox triple head nonsense as it won't go that high resolution.)
1TB RAID 5 array (3) 500Mb drives
power supply specified to be as low wattage as possible and still able to run everything (I don't want to have 350w of load on a 600w PSU)

I will be adding (internal to the case):
wireless mouse/kb antenna
wireless lan

The case will be scratch built from aluminum/plexiglass after dragging all the parts together. I'm considering running a water cooling system so I can minimize the amount of fans I have to mess with and because I think all the tubing would look pretty cool. (I've built a few customized systems for people lately and I want to take it up a few notches. The last one I built you couldn't even see any of the wiring and it was a cheapo $30 case.) This will definitely not be your standard run of the mill beige box. It won't even be completely rectangular. I'm thinking of something very futuristic with a clear center section showing all kinds of tubing inside, lots of metal, rust, corrosion, strange logos and writing... I might even go for a Halflife theme. (Hey, I'm a model builder too... I have to have some reason to dip into the scrap/spares box when it gets too full.)

I will have $1600 budget to start out, but will add to it as I get going and as I have some overtime checks from work. I think eventually I'll be up to around $2200 budget for the box itself. Monitors can be bought LAST, therefore don't need to be factored into the cost of the box. I'll also treat the kb/mouse as freebie. I can grab those separately once the system is up and running. Obviously, I'm not buying a case. I'll likely screw a bunch of standoffs to all the parts and screw them temporarily to a board on my desk just so I can get the system up and running, verify that everything works as planned, and verify what parts produce what amounts of noise and heat so I can plan the case around them. I will then figure out how to line up all the parts in such a way that I can stuff them into a pleasing shape, then design the case. Should be an interesting build.

Oh, and it's very likely the monitors/kb/mouse and everything will also recieve some case modding and theming tweaks. Nothing is safe around me! Will very likely start a new thread here when the beast is started so everybody can watch the buildup.

Any hardware suggestions would be greatly appreciated, as well as any suggestions for getting the most out of configuring this beast in Windows XP Pro. I'm only used to messing with single monitor, not super top of the line, systems for people on a budget of $750-1000 for the box. I definitely want something that's going to make suckers drool for a few years!

Games I usually play, but will likely grab others after putting together the beast:
Halflife (and 2)
World of Warcraft

I am also heavily into CAD work (Autocad) which definitely benefits from a second (and I figure a third) screen.
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Old 04-26-2007, 09:19 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

You do realize that right now Intel CPU's are pretty much the best price/performance except for a lower budget which you won't have. I suggest an E6600 clocked at 2.4ghz and is dual core.

With 3 monitors your not going to make anythign that will make suckers jealous as there goes almost 6900 bucks of budget right there and you wont be able to tget the top of the line card. At the res which you would play at your card that would only be able to afford would have a hard time handling it.
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Old 04-27-2007, 06:17 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

Woooo I like someone who enjoys the extreme like me this is my recommendation (Amd is only good with builds that are less then $700 intel gets you better performance in the end):


this build comes to $2,332 but I will tell you where you can spread the cost:
Mobo: Abit AW9D-Max
Cpu: e6600
Ram: G-skill 2x1gb hz's (this is possibly the best value for money overclocking ram but the value version is still good)
Harddrives. 3x500gb Seagate barracuda's (fast, reliable, long warranty) (also as your a modder perhaps you would like to try the hdd window mod so that you can see the harddrive working but practice on some old cheap hardrives first don't want to void your warranty and destroy your brand new shiny seagates)
Graphics card: 2x8800GTX (you can save money by buying 2x8800GTS 320mb by evga and then using the step-up program a couple of months later to buy the GTX unfortunately bfg are the only ones who make water-cooled 8800GTX's but you can mod kits so you will have to do it after market)
Psu: Thermaltake Toughpower 650W (your system will probably only use 550W but you will want a bit of headroom for upgrading or just to make sure you don't max out your psu and it surges destroying every other component )
HSF: Artic Cooling freezer 7

Monitors: the viewsonic X series ViewSonic: Products: Desktop Displays: LCD Displays: X Series: VX2245wm I have one 2245 and one 2235 I am currently going for the second 2235
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Old 04-27-2007, 08:04 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

I was looking at the 8800GTS cards. They're friggin' huge! Will two of them fit on a Abit AW9D-Max? I could very likely find some way to mod in a water cooling system onto the 8800's, although with a completely customized case, I can make those puppies barf their heat out anywhere I want them to go. I don't need completely fanless, but I'd like to minimize extra fans as much as possible.

Hard drive window?!?! Heck no... I don't wanna toast a HD, and I certainly don't have a cleanroom to do that in. Kind of scared to mess with that once. Acutally, pretty much the cases for the HD's are going to be not visible, probably will only see the board side facing up. Since I can't really hide a mobo in a case with a lot of clear stuff, I'll flaunt it a bit, but I'll choose the angles I want to see. If I run across a cheapo, I might try it sometime, but not on my RAID array... that's just asking for trouble. Would be fun though... especially if you could hack in an LED that would blink with HDD activity?

Now, one thing that would be absolutely awesome is if there was some way to mount the video cards in a way that is not perpendicular to the mobo. I realize adding length to the leads between the boards will likely cause a small amount of lag that wouldn't normally be there, but it would be nice to be able to place these cards into a case in any direction I want. I doubt there's something like that out on the market and I don't think I'd go to all the trouble to manufacture something like that, but if you see anything like that I'd certainly want a pair of them.
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Old 04-27-2007, 08:18 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

you can buy isolated watercooling kits which fit in a nearby pci slot for GTX's so I am guessing you may be able to use one on a gts aswell....

a cleanroom can just be a plastic box and two rubber gloves stuck and sealed in a hole I suppose if you wanted to be really thorough you get make a hole for vaccuum aswell... the amount of space between the platters and the casing is very small not even a cd case plastic could fit in for a few mods that I have seen people have used clear plastic folders and then cut out the needed shape so a led Inside is very unlikely.

You can't to my knowledge produce a pci-expressx16 extensions. I don't think there would be a large enough market to make it worthwhile too

you may consider a raptor X as that has a window built-in quite pricey though but very fast not really worth the money but seeing as your going all out you could easily make your case that it is displayed somewhere obvious
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:11 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

Might go for this case. I saw it before and had an interesting idea to upgrade it a bit... add a killer paint job with panel lines and low-vis markings like on a jet aircraft. Add rotating red beacon under the case. Add side marker lamps. Perhaps hack the front covers so they open automatically. I could chop up an el-cheapo CD drive and use it's tray to activate the doors. My buddy could easily enough hack me together a script that will auto eject the door control drive before any other drive is ejected.

Found all the other parts:
Mobo: Abit AW9D-Max $220.99 @ thenerds.net
Cpu: e6600 $233.00 @ newegg.com
Ram: G-skill 2x2gb $279.99 @ newegg.com
Harddrives: 3x500gb Seagate Barracudas $129.99 ea @ newegg.com
Graphics: 2x8800GTS $279.99 ea @ newegg.com
Psu: Thermaltake Toughpower 650W $144.99 @ newegg.com
HSF: Kingwin AWC-1 Arctic cooler $89.99 @ tigerdirect.com

Grand Total for the box (minus the case) $1919.00 plus shipping/tax

Not bad, just have to collect some monitors now.

I figure I'll go with one big one at the highest size/res I can afford for the center, and go with two smaller monitors for the sides. The 8800GTS runs a max. res of 2500x1600, so I figure I can get a couple decent LCD's and run them sideways. I figure the look of the case doesn't really matter all that much... I'll probably yank the panels out, build my own frame and recase them myself. I want those edges as close together as possible. With the plastic nonsense out of the way, I get less bezel between panels.

Now... if somebody would just buy my scooter off of Craig's List, I can get started on ordering those parts. Mua ha ha ha ha ha!
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Old 04-30-2007, 11:27 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

I would go single 8800GTX before you go SLI 8800GTS

Also There are better choices for a PSU such as the Corsair 620HX
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:38 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

Unless I'm mistaken, you can't run a single resolution across monitors in windows, each will have it's own. Also, 8800 GTS's are not that big.
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Old 05-01-2007, 12:52 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

I know you can run games on multiple monitors however you may be right....also I thought you couldn't run multiple monitors with SLI right?
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Old 05-01-2007, 01:00 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need spec input for new rig- triple monitor!

I know you can run unreal 2k4 across multiple monitors, but I think that was only in linux, but I could be remembering it wrong. Also, in the case you could run a single resolution across multiple monitors, you would DEFINITELY want the same resolution on each monitor or you won't be very happy.
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