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New Gaming Rig Advice Needed

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April 11, 2013 4:20:04 PM

Hi all,

I'm hoping to build my first rig from the ground up by taking it slow and using web guidance. I was hoping someone here might not mind giving the following some consideration and helping me identify any issues or clashes. Advice on better component choices or good suppliers would be appreciated too! :) 

Case

I currently have the Antec 900 case which I love, but it’s the old school version and the wire management looks a bit of a nightmare, especially as this will be my first build. Is it worth the extra to buy the much newer Antec 902 V3? This apparently comes with wire management channels etc (plus USB 3.0) which might help a noob like me.

Are there any other similarly priced options I should be considering? Or should I be looking to go up a level to the full tower Antec 1200 or Super-mid 1100 even if they cost a bit more, in order to adequately contain the following proposed build?

Mobo and CPU

Mobo: I’m currently using an E6700 on an ASUS P5N32e so am I right in thinking I need to replace the mobo with an LGA1155 socket model to get an up-to-date chip?

A recommendation for a mobo with a good balance of price to performance would be appreciated as I don’t want to spend a fortune but don’t want to bottleneck other components somehow either. Thinking maybe Asus P8Z77-V LX? I will be trying my hand at overclocking if that has any impact on choice.

As far as the chipset goes I’m mainly wanting a gaming rig that will be used for some light video editing and/or photoshopping – just hobby level, nothing professional. So I’m thinking i5-3570k *Still really tempted by the i7-3770k though…)? I have an Arctic Pro Freezer 7 CPU cooler from an old PC but it was a 750 socket mobo – will that still be usable or do I need a cooler too?

PSU

Antec TP-750? This one is bronze rated – is gold rating really worth paying a premium for? Will the round cables pose a major issue in terms of cable management and/or case airflow?

I was looking at some other possibilities but I really want a decent PSU that isn’t going to adversely affect overall build performance and I’ve found that it can be really hard to find a decent online supplier in the UK. Any other easily found suggestions would be appreciated.

GPU

I’m thinking one of the following:

Sapphire HD 7950 Boost 3072MB PCI-Express (found for £239.99)
Or
Sapphire HD 7870 XT rev2.0 2048MB GDDR5 (found for £209.99)

The second option seems like a really good card for the price. Is the performance of the former worth the extra £30? Or am I completely gimping my system with either of those choices?


RAM

Corsair Vengence Low Profile White 8GB (CML8GX3M2A1600C9W)

Sound Card

No idea really. My old desktop has a cheap as cheap can be sound card in it and I never had any issues I can think of. Is this somewhere I can save money?

HDDs

I have no idea on HDDs really although someone at work suggested a SSD to contain my OS so I would consider that option. I do have old HDDs to move across for general data storage but I think they run at the lower RPMs – will this gimp game performance if game data is on those drives?
April 11, 2013 6:48:45 PM

Mobo:If you have the cash, go ahead and get a new case. I own the Antec Eleven Hundred, and the cable management capabilities of it are outstanding.

Mobo and CPU: Yes, you will need a new motherboard. Find one with a Z77 Chipset. Check out this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z77-express-ivy-bri...
Don't bother with a 3770k if your not doing pro editing. The 3570k will be more than enough.

PSU: That Antec is a pretty nice unit. No, don't bother paying >$160 for a PSU. Get something around $100 or a bit less from a reliable company like Seasonic, Antec, or XFX. 80 Plus Bronze is fine.

GPU: Go for the 7870 XT. The 7950 is really not worth the extra money. With just a little overclocking, the 7870 XT will perform just as well as the 7950. Even without OC'ing, though, the 7870 XT is your best option.

RAM: Looks good!

Sound card: Any new motherboard you get will typically have rather good 7.1 surround onboard. Unless you are an audiophile, a sound card is really unnecessary.

HDDs: Yes, it will slow down your games if you use the older drives (depending exactly how old they are). If you have the cash, get a small SSD for your OS and a larger HDD for your data and games.

Good Luck!
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a b 4 Gaming
April 11, 2013 8:16:26 PM

Lakesky said:
Hi all,

I'm hoping to build my first rig from the ground up by taking it slow and using web guidance. I was hoping someone here might not mind giving the following some consideration and helping me identify any issues or clashes. Advice on better component choices or good suppliers would be appreciated too! :) 

Case

I currently have the Antec 900 case which I love, but it’s the old school version and the wire management looks a bit of a nightmare, especially as this will be my first build. Is it worth the extra to buy the much newer Antec 902 V3? This apparently comes with wire management channels etc (plus USB 3.0) which might help a noob like me.
Are there any other similarly priced options I should be considering? Or should I be looking to go up a level to the full tower Antec 1200 or Super-mid 1100 even if they cost a bit more, in order to adequately contain the following proposed build?
If you can afford the new case, go with it - both the cable management and the USB 3.0 will be nice features. As for other features, cooling and silence should both be kept in mind - dust filters especially, on all the intakes, are very very very nice.


Mobo and CPU

Mobo: I’m currently using an E6700 on an ASUS P5N32e so am I right in thinking I need to replace the mobo with an LGA1155 socket model to get an up-to-date chip?

A recommendation for a mobo with a good balance of price to performance would be appreciated as I don’t want to spend a fortune but don’t want to bottleneck other components somehow either. Thinking maybe Asus P8Z77-V LX? I will be trying my hand at overclocking if that has any impact on choice.

As far as the chipset goes I’m mainly wanting a gaming rig that will be used for some light video editing and/or photoshopping – just hobby level, nothing professional. So I’m thinking i5-3570k *Still really tempted by the i7-3770k though…)? I have an Arctic Pro Freezer 7 CPU cooler from an old PC but it was a 750 socket mobo – will that still be usable or do I need a cooler too?
You're correct for the motherboard - I highly recommend an AsRock z77 Extreme 4 or 6, both for their features and for their overclocking capabilities. As for the CPU, you hit it head on with the i5-3570k; there's no point in spending more money on the i7, as it doesn't help gaming ANY, and doesn't make that large of a difference for video or photo editing; it just reduces the render time or the time taken to apply filters. As for the CPU cooler, that's not going to have the adapter required to mount it. I'd suggest a $30 Hyper 212 EVO, which will be cooler and quieter anyways.

PSU

Antec TP-750? This one is bronze rated – is gold rating really worth paying a premium for? Will the round cables pose a major issue in terms of cable management and/or case airflow?

I was looking at some other possibilities but I really want a decent PSU that isn’t going to adversely affect overall build performance and I’ve found that it can be really hard to find a decent online supplier in the UK. Any other easily found suggestions would be appreciated.
There's no need to pay for a gold rating as long as the bronze rated PSU is of good quality. However, paying for a modular or semi modular PSU is absolutely worth it, and makes building way, way easier, as well as helping case airflow significantly. Refer to the power supply tier list for reliability, and then look on pcpartpicker for Bronze or Silver rated power supplies that are modular or semi modular. That link will only give you 500-600w PSUs, but that's because if you're only using a single graphics card, you only need a reliable 550w power supply. As for where to buy from, I'd suggest Amazon.co.uk.

GPU

I’m thinking one of the following:

Sapphire HD 7950 Boost 3072MB PCI-Express (found for £239.99)
Or
Sapphire HD 7870 XT rev2.0 2048MB GDDR5 (found for £209.99)

The second option seems like a really good card for the price. Is the performance of the former worth the extra £30? Or am I completely gimping my system with either of those choices?The 7870XT is absolutely an insane card when it comes to value, and will get you medium-high settings in modern games. However, the 7950, if you're willing to overclock it, will max out most games, if you can keep it sufficiently cool. That being said, I would suggest a 7970 or 670. They'll both max games with ease, and to me, are a better investment. Which one you should get depends on if you see yourself upgrading your monitor in the future - the 7970 gives a higher framerate, and deals with multiple monitor or high-resolution scenarios better, but it also has frame latency issues, which means the 670 is better if you foresee yourself upgrading to a 120Hz monitor in the future. If you don't see yourself doing either, I'd probably go with the 7950, since it's only 30 pounds more than the 7870 XT.


RAM

Corsair Vengence Low Profile White 8GB (CML8GX3M2A1600C9W)
Not much to say here. Good pick - I wish there were more white components on the market. (I think the mac edition 7950 is just bloody beautiful; it's a shame it's mac branded and, of course, more expensive.

Sound Card

No idea really. My old desktop has a cheap as cheap can be sound card in it and I never had any issues I can think of. Is this somewhere I can save money?If you get a decent motherboard, it'll have a pretty decent onboard sound card. That being said, I'd swap over your old sound card and do a comparison between it and the onboard codecs.

HDDs

I have no idea on HDDs really although someone at work suggested a SSD to contain my OS so I would consider that option. I do have old HDDs to move across for general data storage but I think they run at the lower RPMs – will this gimp game performance if game data is on those drives? As for the SSD, it's an AMAZING thing, if you can afford it. Just grab a 120GB Samsung 840; they're pretty cheap now, and represent good value. As for the hard drives themselves, I'd be wary of them both for speed and for reliability. You can pick up a Western Digital Blue 500GB or 1TB for $60 or $70, here in the states, and those are amazing drives. (Take them over a seagate barracuda, even though the seagate will be slightly cheaper. The western digitals are cooler, less noisy, and have a better warranty.)
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April 12, 2013 12:57:16 AM

Thanks for the answers so far :) 

Regarding the graphics cards - the reason I shied away from the 670 is just outright the issue of cash really as I'm trying to build to a budget of £1000-£1200. From what I'd read I was hoping that the 7870XT or 7950 would max out all current games with 1920 x 1080 res. I currently use a 40" HDTV from Samsung as my monitor and I believe it IS 120Hz - does that mean I'll have major problems using a Radeon card with it? I definitely wont be using multiple monitors...
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April 12, 2013 2:39:13 AM

I've just been doing some more research and it actually looks like the frame latency issues have been resolved using driver updates, and there seems to be a consensus that with a moderate overclock on top of the Boost Edition's stock speed it can actually rival an overclocked 670. So given the price difference I think my choice is made for me on the gfx card front.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 12, 2013 2:46:31 AM

The AMD cards are a great choice don't worry.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 12, 2013 12:22:36 PM

Just two things to note - your "120Hz" TV is, more likely than not, 60Hz with interpoling, which means that you aren't actually going to be playing with a 120Hz input. (And if it is true 120Hz, the 7870XT would choke and die trying to max games; it'll max a lot of games at 1080p and 60Hz, but don't be expecting it to just max any game you put in there.)

The frame latency issues have been resolved to the point where they're unnoticeable on a 60Hz screen - if you're playing on an actual 120Hz screen, they're still noticeable.
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April 15, 2013 2:20:25 PM

DarkSable said:
Just two things to note - your "120Hz" TV is, more likely than not, 60Hz with interpoling, which means that you aren't actually going to be playing with a 120Hz input. (And if it is true 120Hz, the 7870XT would choke and die trying to max games; it'll max a lot of games at 1080p and 60Hz, but don't be expecting it to just max any game you put in there.)

The frame latency issues have been resolved to the point where they're unnoticeable on a 60Hz screen - if you're playing on an actual 120Hz screen, they're still noticeable.


Looks like you're right - I'm no TV expert so I don't really now what they mean but a bit of reading around reveals the TV has a 'True panel refresh' of 50Hz but is advertised as 100Hz so I guess it's a software solution to refresh rate. Still, this TV works an absolute treat on my current laptop and my new machine will be a beast so fingers crossed. I've gone for the 7950 boost so I will be pretty disappointed if I can't max just about everything out there at the moment as I'm only running a single display.
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April 15, 2013 2:51:26 PM

I went for this system in the end:

Antec 902 Nine Hundred Two (V3) Ultimate Gaming Case (with USB3.0 Support)
Asus P8Z77-V LX2 Intel Z77 (Socket 1155) DDR3 Motherboard
Intel Core i5 3570K 3.40GHz @ 4.40GHz DDR3 Ivybridge with Corsair H60 Watercooler
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-Bit
Samsung 250GB SSD 840 SATA 6Gb/s for OS and gaming drive.
Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB SATA 6Gb/s 16MB Cache for data drive
Sapphire HD 7950 Boost 3072MB PCI-Express Graphics Card
Corsair GS 600w PSU
8GB-Kit Patriot Viper3 Venom Red, 1600MHZ, CL 9-9-9-24

Here's hoping for some max-settings for the first time in years! (and more than 3fps in a 25-man WoW raid! >.<)

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a b 4 Gaming
April 15, 2013 3:36:55 PM

Looks pretty good - you should be happy with it!

And don't worry, you'll get your max settings AND plenty of fps in wow.
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