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  1. #1
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    Red face Computer/Wacom/Laptop/Monitor Guide

    Hey.
    I was wondering what computer or laptop would you guys reccomend for an artist thats going to be attending art school soon (2009) and will be continuously uploading art onto CA. My computer recently died [ RIP ], yeah, it was a DELL......I wonder why it died within a period of four years....hmmmm .

    anyways. your reccomendations are greatly appreciated!

    PS: thats the reason I havent been uploading into my sketchbook for soooo long. No computer. scanner works fine. I have to use my dads computer every now and then when he isnt on it doing his dental/medical work.

    Last edited by Odayga; August 13th, 2008 at 10:41 AM. Reason: fixies
    Talent and Creativity are yours to use and keep

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  3. #2
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    I have a Fujitzu and have had it for several years and have never really had any problems with it at all, aside from the battery life which is sucked dry by the 19'' monitor. I'd recommend Fujitzu laptops.

    "I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
    --- Frank Herbert, Dune - Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear

    Check out my Sketchbook! Critique and Criticism welcomed.

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    Well it totally depends on what kind of artwork are you doing. For 3d and other work that needs lots of rendering focus on very fast processor (intel quad cores are must). 4gb of ram is minimum if you are running with vista and using photoshop and other pretty heavy softwares. I just draw few lines in photoshop and RAM usage went to 1gb prety fast. 500gb hard disc maybe? Depends again what are you gonna put in your computer. Good motherboard that supports the stuff that you are buying . Decent 3d-card if not playing good if you are. And buy the parts in computer shop and if you or your friends don't know how to build comp. most of the shops will build it for small fee.

    I hope this helped at all and i can recommend some parts if you want.

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    not to derail the thread, nor take a stab at you Odayga (not my intent to offend), but if anyone reads this and has a solid handle on the current tech out there - inc average stats, prices, etc - could you please compile it into the one "Computer/Laptop/Wacom/Monitor Guide" thread and have a mod sticky it to the top? again, this is directed at nobody in particular, and not intended to cause outrage, but it just seems that everyone's been starting up their own threads asking exactly the same question, re: computers or wacoms or screens.. surely we can consolidate all that helpful energy into the one thread? i would do it, but i dont exactly have a finger to the virtual pulse of technology..

    /idea

    ps. good luck finding a package to suit you, Odayga

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    Thanks stoph.

    Now since I'm an illustration major i'm most likely going to be using illustrator/photoshop on there as well as uploading high def paintings and drawings from the scanner. I was looking into a Sony Vaio which currently are at a good price from Best buy and Costco.

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    I try my best to keep up with technology. So here we goooo....

    Well, I'm hearing that CS4 is going to be borrowing processing power from the GPU, so it might not hurt to get a decent one.

    It's hard to recommend computer specs without knowing your price range.... IMO mid-range is always the best way to go. If you spend $4000 on a computer today you'll only gain 20-30% gains on a computer half the cost. Well, that might be an exaggeration, but the point remains the same. You're much better off buying a $1500-2000 computer today and then upgrading it in a couple years. Diminishing returns really hurt, and unless you're really willing to putz around with your computer trying to get it to work really well, it's just not worth it.

    Here are some suggestions with that in mind:

    A 2.5 ghz Quad Core will run you about $270. It's not amazing, but in the 45nm die shrink it doesn't generate a lot of heat and it's overall a very solid CPU. (edit again) It's also worth noting that Intel is coming out with the Core i7 (formerly Nehalem) in early October. It's a hyper-threaded quad core (8 threads) and available in a wide range of costs from $284-$999 (2.66 GHz to 3.2 GHz) it should kill any multi-threaded application... Like photoshop.

    Do NOT buy nvidia currently. I know there's a lot of nvidia fan boys out there, however I actually keep up with performance benchmarks and nvidia cards are not worth the cost in the mid to high end market . The 8800 GT used to be the best bang for your buck but ever since ATI came out with the Radeon 4000 series it has become very stupid to buy anything but one of these if your budget for a GPU is above ~$170. (Which is the price of a 4850) If your budget is below that, only then would I recommend an nvidia card. They have some great low end cards. (edit- important!) Apparently all nvidia G84 and G86 based chips are defective. These are the low end (8600 and lower) models. The low end 9 series models should be fine... probably.

    DDR3 is only worth it if you're planning on buying a higher end PC. DDR2 does just fine when you're on a budget, especially because the stuff practically comes as a cereal box gift. I'd recommend DDR2 1066, 4 GB will run you around $100... Give or take.

    Something to keep in mind about RAM.... 32-bit processors can only address 4 GB of RAM (2^32 = 4GB). Windows uses a virtual memory system in which everything from the 3 GB - 4 GB addressing range is reserved for its kernel and non-user space drivers and such. So, in essence, you max out at 3 GB for programs.

    IMO anything more than 4 GB is a waste of money. You'll be hard pressed to use all that up. Photoshop is currently only a 32-bit program (although that too will change in CS4) so the most memory it will take up is 1.5-2 GB. Besides, 64-bit OSes are not worth the hassle of compatibility.

    If someone else builds the computer for you, you shouldn't have to worry about things like motherboards, power supplies, cases and cooling... That sort of stuff typically isn't a good idea to leave to a consumer who doesn't understand the technology. Unfortunately they're also the most underrated and important parts of your computer.

    In case you're interested, here's my computer specs:

    2.5 Ghz Yorkfield (45nm) Quad Core
    Asus P5E Motherboard
    ATI Radeon HD 4870
    4 GB DDR2 1066 Corsair dominator RAM
    750W PC Power & Cooling Silencer PSU
    500 GB HDD
    DVD writer
    Antec 900 case
    Vista 32-bit (mistake, should have bought XP)

    Total cost: around $1400.
    I just bought it a couple weeks ago, so the price should still be pretty similar. I also built it myself.

    I get very little brush lag even with really big brush sizes and canvases in Photoshop CS3.

    I can almost play Crysis on full spec, too.... Almost.

    Anyway, I'd be here all day if I tried to write about every little piece of hardware. The computer I bought works very well.


    P.S. I'm a HUGE NERD. Ask me anything and I'll try my best to answer it in greater detail.

    Last edited by Gory; August 13th, 2008 at 04:39 PM.
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    Gory has pretty much everything you need to know about current tech. Tho there are a few aspects you need to look at for future technology that will get you thinking.

    I don't know how long you wish to hold out but the new Intel processors are right around the corner which are going to be a huge boost for us graphic workers. This is a whole new architecture (that means a whole new socket for the cpu) so if you upgrade now you'll be missing out on the new motherboards who are also backward compatible as they will be handle the new and the old processors.

    As for graphics Gory has it right when he says don't buy any Nvidia cards right now but don't be making the jump to Ati either as their new GPUs out now (4870x2) which are top of the line are power hungry hot and massive!! We have to wait and see what their partners are going to do to change these aspects of this great GPU and also wait to see how Nvidia is going to answer back. Yet this is also subsequent of you waiting a couple of months before buying.

    RAM is pretty much stable right now. Being that DDR2 is still the preferred all rounder in the market due to the fact that you wont see any major changes with the faster and more expensive DDR3. But yet again due to the great changes in processors (that will actually make use of DDR3 greatly) coming from Intel and the constant drop of prices in the DDR3 section of the market this will be the RAM of choice for the upcoming rigs of next year. As for what brands to look at there are a number of manufacturers but the one you should be looking at is OCZ.

    Motherboards are the main aspect of your rig and will define what hardware you'll be able to get. As the market hasn't changed as for yet I will update this section when as the new stuff appears tho the motherboard of choice whether you're an avid gamer or power hungry user as most of us on here are then the ASUS 790i ultra edition seems to be the motherboard of choice but the ASUS Extreme Striker II is also a great choice. Other manufacturers such as Gigabyte also offer great Bang for Buck products but this will need a more indepth look at what each Company offers on their boards. remember that this will all change in the upcoming transition from the old processors to the new.

    Hardrives are very important as going for cheaper makes other than the big names would spell disaster. Western Digital make the fastest right now with their 300GB Velociraptor drives running at 10000RPM in contrast to the normal 7200 drives. Samsung makes the best 1 Terabyte drives currently so a setup consisting of WD for you're core programs and the 1 TB Sammy for your final storage space is I think a good option to opt for. Future tech shows Toshiba using hardrives on PCI express cards (which what you're sound and GPU cards are based on) to exceed greater transfer rates but these are greatly overpriced and not aimed at the pro-sumer.

    The most piece of hardware that your rig will rely on and that most consumers neglect is the power supply. A good power supply will not only give your rig a constant healthy supply of power but it will also protect it from surges. Also think of investing in a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). Good brands for PSUs are Thermaltake and Coolermaster.

    I will not go to an in depth discussion of Cases as they are pretty straightforward. But remember that a good case has to have 3 things going for it. 1) Most important is how good it dispels heat from you're rigs innards. 2) If its noisy or not. 3) If it's easily accessible for you to change hardware from inside the case. 4) good price and good looking.

    Now we come to what I think is the most important piece of hardware a person in our range of work could possibly own. The Monitor. The age of CRTs is nearly gone, some say they are still the best displays for colour critical work. I say sure but at what cost? Huge, heavy, insane power consumption, insane heat radiation and the fact that they really look ugly (My opinion of course). LCD displays have come along way since the olden days where looking at one caused major headaches and bad diarrhea. They are now the kings undisputed. What you have to know about LCDs is the differnce in their panels. (ie what you see in front of you). There are 3 types of panels and each one serves different purposes depending on what you're using the screen for. The three panels are: TN (Twisted Nematic), VA(Vertical Alignment), and IPS(In Plane Switching). The differences are listed as follows.

    (Taken from the Hardforums website.)

    TN film (Twisted Nematic)
    - low manufacturing/retail costs
    - restrictive viewing angles
    - fast pixel response times
    - dead pixels display white. Stuck pixels display RGB colors
    - lower contrast levels means blacks are not as dark as VA based panels
    - lower color reproduction

    IPS (In Plane Switching)
    - improved viewing angles over TN
    - very good color reproduction
    - slower pixel response times than TN
    - dead pixels display black
    - lower contrast levels means blacks are not as dark as VA based panels

    Super-IPS (S-IPS)
    - same as IPS except ...
    - likely best color reproduction of all TFT
    - less expensive to produce than IPS
    - improved pixel response

    VA (Vertical Alignment) Technologies

    MVA (Multidomain Vertical Alignment)
    - compromise between TN and IPS technologies
    - superior color reproduction over TN but not as good as IPS
    - very good viewing angles but less than IPS
    - higher contrast than TN or S-IPS means very good blacks
    - dead pixels are black
    - slower pixel response than TN or IPS
    - details can be lost when directly viewing dark areas

    Premium-MVA (P-MVA)
    - same as MVA except ...
    - "overdrive" technology increases pixel response but still slower than TN
    - may have slightly degraded color reproduction due to "overdrive" process

    PVA (Patterned VA)
    - same as MVA except ...
    - larger viewing angles
    - higher contrast levels means darkest blacks

    Super-PVA (S-PVA)
    - same as PVA except ...
    - “Magic Speed” (the Samsung equivalent to Overdrive) improves pixel response
    - slightly improved color reproduction
    - slightly improved viewing angles

    There is also and updated IPS Panel called Hyper IPS which is the latest in this category of panel make, and as you can tell offers greater colour reproduction and includes Overdrive Technology.

    Obviously the screen to go for is one with any of the SPVA or HIPS panels as they are the best in their class. TNs are reserved for gaming and multimedia only. The companies to look for are either NEC or Eizo and I hear Planar offer a great set of Colour Critical LCDs and so does HP. Dell would be more for the amateur rather than someone looking to get into the field. Now the size to go for depends on what you need really. i say going bigger is better for the obvious fact of greater workspace. Lower than a 24inch would be milking especially in current pricing as they've become incredibly cheaper. HP has Introduced a DreamColour Display that shows 1 Billion colours. But the price point sets it above any student/just starting out artist.

    A few models to consider are:

    NEC LCD2690/2490.
    Any Eizo CG class LCD.

    The latter being more expensive.

    I've ranted quite enough but this is a very small breakdown on current and future tech and I hope I've made it a bit more clear rather than more complex.

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    wow, this is a good idea for a thread, definitely should be a stickie.
    another thing to mention that people sometimes overlook is having backup storage - right now I use 2 hdds, one as main drive with system and files on it, and another as backup with all the files copied daily. I'll also hook up my third drive via usb externally soon enough and backup onto that as well. hdds just die sometimes, and viruses or system crashes can be an issue also, so having a separate physical storage is crucial.
    another thing is that you hardly need the latest and greatest in hardware in order to work efficiently. when my motherboard died a few weeks ago, it cost me under $500 to put an entirely new system together (all the hardware was too old, the only things that stayed were the sound card and the case) and it works very well with CS3. it's not a gaming rig (only onboard video) but a workstation doesn't need it to be.
    as far as CS4 is concerned, just don't see the point. what will it do that CS3 can't?

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    Yutani: The fact that it can utilise more than 3 gb of ram and actually make use of the graphic cards computing power. No longer do you have to wait 5minutes to save a huge file, instantaneous brush strokes and filter application!!

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    one thing that i think is important is not to go cheap on power supplies, if you go cheap it can cost more in the long run. get a good brand and if you get a good one it means you can upgrade more in the future. if you install new graphics cards and stuff you have to be sure your power supply can handle them.

    if you want to know how much power your computer needs or if it can handle an upgrade theres a power calculator here

    http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp

    instead of going for a high end computer i think its better to go mid range but upgradable. have a good psu, and make sure the motherboard can handle upgrading.

    pre cs4 for 2d, it has been more important to have a good processor and ram rather than a graphics card. im interested to know how much cs4 will utilize the gpu.

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    Whees... One day off and here comes pretty solid technological information. Only that sticks out was Gory's
    IMO anything more than 4 GB is a waste of money. You'll be hard pressed to use all that up. Photoshop is currently only a 32-bit program (although that too will change in CS4) so the most memory it will take up is 1.5-2 GB. Besides, 64-bit OSes are not worth the hassle of compatibility.
    There ain't any hassle between 64bit OS and 32bit programs that i have noticed on using vista64 about four months now. Its true that 3GB is max with 32bit but why use one when you can buy working Vista64 and pump it up with cheap as soap ddr2 ram? I bought 8gb on about 150 euros. Only once i have noticed problem and that was due 3Dcard and its drivers. Its still important to remember that every software uses its own RAM and you can have multiple programs open at once without freezing the whole comp. Not important to person who uses only photoshop, but anybody else that's doing flash, video editing/animation, in example keeping After Effects, photoshop, Illustrator and Flash on in same time.

    And in case you are interested my build up is this:

    Intel CoreDuo 2,66 GHz
    Nvidia Geforce 8800 GT
    Gigabyte GA-P35C-DS3R
    8GB ddr2 800mhz
    500GB HDD
    DVD R/W
    Antec Sonata III case (best price/power inside 500w) little bit small but got all in it
    Cooler Master Hyper 212
    Vista64 Ultimate

    And this is i got for video editing mostly. It costs about 1k euro about 4 months ago. I know its not the best one and CPU needs maybe overclocking but it have worked without any complaints. Photoshop and other softwares have run smoothly as ever.

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  13. #12
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    Video editing is a whole different animal than strict digital painting only. What I said is still true. Also, you might not have any problems but there still remains a fairly large segment of software and hardware that does not have 64-bit support. It's a lot better than it used to be but I'd still say it's a year or two from becoming more mainstream. If any of you *do* decide you want an ungodly amount of RAM, you should really research to make sure all of your hardware is compatible with it.

    When CS4 comes out, the extra memory might be worth it... Although we'll have to wait and see.

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    Core 2 Duo E7400 (2.53 Ghz)
    Nvidia 9600 GT
    2 gig of DDr2 ram
    320 gig HD
    and some MSI mobo of wich i dont know the name.

    ~350 euro's (took the parts and threw it in my old case).

    Cod 4 everything maxed out on a 1.2kx1k rez at 90 Fps.

    So if you really got a tight budget...

    (23:41:52) (ArneLurk) I woner of there are people who have hairy penises
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    Guys, figured I'd ask this in this thread, as it's turned into a general computer issues thread?

    I lost my wacom tablet pen and need to get a replacement... anyone know the easiest/cheapest way to do this? I can't really afford to shell out for another tablet. :/

    (In Canada, preferably? If not I'll just order one of their site, but... shipping...)

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    very helpful thread, and instead of creating a new one i figure I'll just continue here. I've gotten a lot of great advice here and think i've made my choice but just wanted to post it here and see if I could get any advice before hitting the buy button, especially since its been almost a year since the last post in this thread and obviously tech moves fast.

    USE: for digital painting, 3D apps, video editing and I suppose some gaming as well

    the desktop i'm looking at is:

    iBUYPOWER Gamer Supreme 928i Intel Core i7 920(2.66GHz) 6GB DDR3 1TB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit - Retail $1,299.99

    * Recommended Usage: Gaming
    * Processor: Intel Core i7 920(2.66GHz)
    * Processor Main Features: 64 bit Quad-Core Processor
    * Memory: 6GB DDR3 1333
    * Hard Drive: 1TB SATAII
    * Optical Drive 1: 22X DL DVD+/-RW Drive
    * Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 285 1GB Video Card
    * Audio: Realtek chipset
    * Model #: Gamer Supreme 928i
    * Item #: N82E16883227146
    I'm sure this will do everything that i need but just curious what your thoughts are, it seems to be geared more towards gaming, not sure if that makes a difference.

    Monitor:
    Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP-recieved great reviews my only concern is that i couldn't find what sort of panel it was...va, s-pva, s-isp, etc, at least when i called them, they couldn't answer that question for me for some reason...
    also i was looking at the dell ultrasharp 2709wfp seems like the same thing but larger, however its the same resolution as the 2408 just stretched to fit the additional 3 inches and it isn't getting the good reviews that the smaller one did. should i go with the larger or smaller more popular version?

    and just adding to some of the info i found on here:
    http://www.lcdresource.com/lcdtech/
    http://www.flatpanelshd.com/panels.php (type in the panels (tn,isp,etc) to get a list of those monitors types)

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    The PC you chose is a really good choice indeed. If you could find out what ram your using and what Hardrive is being supplied as well as what type of MB we can better assess your part choices.

    In the monitors case Review Apparently it's using a PVA panel. A good choice tho again not an IPS panel. Still an insanely beter choice than a TN.

    I've got the i7 965 in my PC. There is no processor out there that can beat the i7's. I also own 2 GTX 285's in SLI. CS4 and Zbrush run like a dream. No hiccups, no lag, and no stuttering.

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    hey thanks for the info brashen
    I'm not positive if each one comes with identical parts as it was mentioned that two different MB's were used, apparently based on what ibuypower has at the time the computer is being built (just stating what was mentioned in a review, I myself have no idea how it works) but this is what one of the reviewers said was in the one he purchased:
    Intel Core i7 920
    Asus P6T Motherboard
    Gigabyte GTX285 - GV-N285-1GH-B
    DATA 6GB DDR3 1333 RAM
    SIGMA 800W PSU
    Hitachi HDT721010SLA360 ATA Device - 1TB HD
    HL-DT-ST DVD-RAM GH22NP20 ATA Device - CD/DVD-ROM

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    @James wolf

    Check if you can upgrade the heatsink. The stock fan come with i7 920 run pretty hot. My friend has overheat problem when playing games. I had coolermaster v8 myself and the cpu run around 25c when not loaded.

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    Then you're fine. You have a really great system there and you'll enjoy it %100.

    As pencilkiller said you may need to change the stock heatsink on the CPU. Either get the Thermalright 120 with 1366 bolts or the Coolermaster V8 with 1366 bolts.

    Congrats on the purchase.

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