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Mid-Range Gaming PC (first build, did part selection, please advise)

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April 14, 2013 5:01:58 PM

This is my first build, based primarily off of Zared619's build from the Budget Intel Gaming PC BestConfigs competition.

PCPartPicker Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($209.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($32.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($72.37 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($259.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec Eleven Hundred ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($135.98 @ Amazon)

Total: $1105.76

Approximate Purchase Date: Hopefully this week, the sooner the better. There's also a pretty appealing deal for some free games when buying an AMD GPU right now, so it would be great if I got in on that, but I'm not sure when the deal expires.
Budget Range: My target was $1100 (after rebates), and going a few dollars over isn't the end of the world. Still, if there's a way to reduce the cost a bit without sacrificing much, I'd definitely be interested.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, web browsing, working with OpenOffice programs, using GIMP, and will probably also run Folding@home just because there's little reason not to.
Are you buying a monitor: No
Parts to Upgrade: None
Do you need to buy OS: Yes.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I'd prefer to stick to newegg and amazon, but if there's a particularly good deal to be found elsewhere, I am interested.
Location: Flemington, NJ, USA
Parts Preferences: Going with an Intel CPU. Other than that, don't care.
Overclocking: Unsure
SLI or Crossfire: Possibly in the future? No real plans, though.
Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Since this is my first build, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I screwed something up, even though I was mostly working from Zared619's build. If I did, please let me know.

I'm a little unsure whether to go OES or not, or whether to go with Windows 7 or Windows 8. Right now I'm inclined towards Windows 7 Professional (OEM), but I'm open to suggestions and advice. I also plan to get an SSD at some point in the future, but I've heard that you can get OEM versions of Windows onto new hard drives as long as you have the same motherboard, so I don't imagine that should be a problem. Am I right?

I'm a little confused about why there's such a significant price difference between the Asus Radeon HD 7870 GPU that I'm planning on using, and the EVGA GeForce GTX 670 GPU that locke9342 used in his build in the BestConfigs contest. Numerically, they seem pretty similar, except for the 670's significantly faster clock speed. Is the clock speed important enough to warrant such a price increase? If so, is the clock speed of the card I'm planning to get going to hold my system back?

Thanks for any answers these questions, and any other advice you may be able to provide. I'm a little lost with this stuff, so any help will be much appreciated.
April 14, 2013 5:14:26 PM

Your build looks solid :)  nothing wrong with it.

As to your GPU question, the GTX 670 naturally has a higher clock rate and clock rates do demand a big premium even though you could overclock to the same speed, an overclock isn't guaranteed. Also the GTX 670 also has other features which also demand a premium such as being Nvidia which is usually more expensive than AMD and it is also has more shaders. It also gives more FPS in games. Sorry the explanation is brief but I'm pretty sleepy :p 
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April 14, 2013 5:23:41 PM

When it comes to evaluating graphics cards, one pretty much needs to benchmark them and just see how it performs on multiple games. Things like V-RAM, clock speed, etc. in theory help the video card perform better, but in the end there are just to many variables happening. Toms hardware does a lot of benchmarks, check them out. Do a search for CARD A versus CARD B and usually something will turn up, especially if the cards were released close together and at about the same price point. Just be aware that different games will favor different cards.

Beyond that, Windows 8 versus 7 is pretty much an individual's choice that no one can help you with. In theory Windows 8 is a little faster on boot up, and is identical for gaming. However, it comes with Metro which people like me hate. What I will say is "professional" is not needed for gaming. The "home" version of Windows is all you need and can put money in your pocket.

Minor Nitpicks: I'd prefer Corsair RAM over G. Skill. 620 Watt PSU is more power than you will use, maybe you can find another good one for less. Still, nice power supply.

Also, any chance you'd be wiling to give up the overclock to land a Solid State Drive in about the same budget? It makes the general computing experience much, much better.

In general, though, this looks like a very solid build.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 14, 2013 5:24:00 PM

I think you have a very good build.

1. If you love the antec 1100, buy it. But, a $50 case can save you a bit.
2. The motherboard is fine, but look at a M-ATX Z77 motherboard which will be closer to $100
3. A 7870 needs only a 500w psu. But Seasonic is top quality and a bit of overprovisioning is a good idea.
4. Consider buying a 120gb ssd up front. It is much easier to install one now, compared to reinstalling windows and your games later. Perhaps defer on the hard drive. 120gb will hold the os and a handful of games. You can more easily add a hard drive later for storage and overflow.
5. Is there some feature of windows 7 pro that you need? For a home user, home premium should be all you need.
6. If you live near a microcenter, they will sell you a 3570K for $190, and have some deals on motherboards.
7. Try windows 8 at a local store. I did not like the user interface which works more like a phone app.
8. If you have a previous version of windows, you could be qualified to buy windows upgrade. It is considered as retail and can be transferred in the future. The price will be similar to OEM.
9. Graphics cards are sold on a market demand basis. Benchmarks seem to favor amd, but consistency favors nvidia.
Here is an interesting article on that:
http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-ge...
10. Take the time now to download and read the motherboard and case manuals.
-----------good luck---------------
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a c 214 4 Gaming
April 14, 2013 6:09:54 PM

RAM - Go "low profile" w/ the RAM....in other words, lose the tall, toothy heat sinks whose only function is to "look cool".

GFX - http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-ge...
Quote:
Pop back and forth between the 99th percentile and average FPS plots, and you'll see two different stories being told. The FPS average suggests near-parity performance between the 7950 and the GTX 660 Ti, with a tiny edge to the GeForce. The 99th percentile frame time, though, captures the impact of the Radeon's frame latency issues and suggests the GTX 660 Ti is easily the superior performer. That fact won't be a surprise to anyone who's read this far.


And it's same price
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With the 660 Ti having a slight fps edge, the 670 will obviously be significantly faster. the 7870 is 77% as fast as fast as the Asus 670

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/GeForce_GTX_670...

Consider the Seagate Momentus 750 GB hybrid SSD / HD. I have several of them and, w/o benchmarks, they are indistinguishable in performance from the hi end SSD and HD combos side by side ... for example Momentus boots in 17 secs to SSD's 16 secs...check the review on benchmarkreviews.com to verify.

You're paying $200 for case and PSU
This will cost ya $30 less, is far superior and will allow CF or SLI w/o PSU change

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$220 - $30 MIR - $20 off w/ promo code EMCXSXL29, ends 4/15

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April 15, 2013 12:35:58 AM

You should try and put a SSD in that build. Also, you probably won't need a DVD drive ever.
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April 15, 2013 6:08:55 PM

EDIT: Forgot to include my updated build. Here it is.
EDIT 2: It just occurred to me to wonder whether I need any extra fans. The case comes with one 120mm in the back and one 200 mm up top. Is that enough?

Wow, thanks for all the responses! Everyone has been really helpful, and I feel like I'm now much closer to getting the maximum bang for my buck. I did not expect to get so much quality advice, and especially not this fast.

Greatatlantic said:
When it comes to evaluating graphics cards, one pretty much needs to benchmark them and just see how it performs on multiple games. Things like V-RAM, clock speed, etc. in theory help the video card perform better, but in the end there are just to many variables happening. Toms hardware does a lot of benchmarks, check them out. Do a search for CARD A versus CARD B and usually something will turn up, especially if the cards were released close together and at about the same price point. Just be aware that different games will favor different cards.


Alright, will do. I'll definitely look into benchmarks more before making a final decision.

Greatatlantic said:
Beyond that, Windows 8 versus 7 is pretty much an individual's choice that no one can help you with. In theory Windows 8 is a little faster on boot up, and is identical for gaming. However, it comes with Metro which people like me hate. What I will say is "professional" is not needed for gaming. The "home" version of Windows is all you need and can put money in your pocket.


Yeah, Metro doesn't appeal to me, so I'll probably just stick with Win 7. I've also downgraded to Home Premium. I got XP Pro with the laptop I'm using now, so for some reason I decided that I should get Pro on this computer too. However, looking at the actual features I don't really have much need for any of them. Thanks for pointing that out - it freed up a good chunk of change.

geofelt said:
1. If you love the antec 1100, buy it. But, a $50 case can save you a bit.


I actually looked at this case comparison, and then followed up by watching videos of people going over the cases quite thoroughly. The 1100 looked like a good case, and seemed easier than the others for an inexperienced PC builder to put together a computer in. I know there are cheaper ones out there, but I'm willing to pay a bit more for a case I think I'll be comfortable with.

Quote:
2. The motherboard is fine, but look at a M-ATX Z77 motherboard which will be closer to $100


Would that be a downgrade? Would it have any downsides performance-wise?

Quote:
3. A 7870 needs only a 500w psu. But Seasonic is top quality and a bit of overprovisioning is a good idea.


Yeah, I think I'll stick with this PSU.

Quote:
4. Consider buying a 120gb ssd up front. It is much easier to install one now, compared to reinstalling windows and your games later. Perhaps defer on the hard drive. 120gb will hold the os and a handful of games. You can more easily add a hard drive later for storage and overflow.


Thanks a ton for this suggestion. I've now swapped out the HD for a 120gb SSD, and will probably grab an HD at a later date. Not to mention I have a 1tb USB external HD I can plug in as needed, so really storage space shouldn't be a big concern.

Quote:
5. Is there some feature of windows 7 pro that you need? For a home user, home premium should be all you need.


Yeah, I'm downgrading that. Definitely a good idea.

Quote:
6. If you live near a microcenter, they will sell you a 3570K for $190, and have some deals on motherboards.


Nearest one is a bit too far for it to be worth the trip, sadly. Ah well.

Quote:
9. Graphics cards are sold on a market demand basis. Benchmarks seem to favor amd, but consistency favors nvidia.
Here is an interesting article on that:
http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-ge...


I have now switched out the 7950 for the GTX 660. Thank you very much for pointing this out.

Quote:
10. Take the time now to download and read the motherboard and case manuals.
-----------good luck---------------


Will do.

Thanks for all your advice.

JackNaylorPE said:
RAM - Go "low profile" w/ the RAM....in other words, lose the tall, toothy heat sinks whose only function is to "look cool".


Well, I certainly wasn't seeking fancy heat sinks. Is there an actual disadvantage to them, though? Do they cost more?

Quote:
GFX - http://techreport.com/review/23981/radeon-hd-7950-vs-ge...

And it's same price
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With the 660 Ti having a slight fps edge, the 670 will obviously be significantly faster. the 7870 is 77% as fast as fast as the Asus 670

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ASUS/GeForce_GTX_670...


Between you and geofelt, you have definitely convinced me. I've switched to the 670. Thanks for linking to that article.

Quote:
Consider the Seagate Momentus 750 GB hybrid SSD / HD. I have several of them and, w/o benchmarks, they are indistinguishable in performance from the hi end SSD and HD combos side by side ... for example Momentus boots in 17 secs to SSD's 16 secs...check the review on benchmarkreviews.com to verify.


Huh. Those seem pretty cool, but I think my new plan for storage is pretty good. SSD now, already-owned external USB HD to supplement, and maybe get an internal HD later.

Quote:
You're paying $200 for case and PSU
This will cost ya $30 less, is far superior and will allow CF or SLI w/o PSU change

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
$220 - $30 MIR - $20 off w/ promo code EMCXSXL29, ends 4/15


Hmm. Well, honestly the case I'm planning to get now appeals to me. I watched a video where the guy went over the 1100 quite thoroughly, and it seems good for a first-time PC builder. That's definitely a good deal, but unfortunately I'm too comfortable with the idea of the 1100 to want to change.

batuchka said:
Hmm for my sub $1k configs i suggest making things simple and go for that one beefy HD 7970 GHZ ^^ Just for the one 1080p display it is a beast
http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...


Heh, well unfortunately the 7970 is a pretty significant jump up in price. The cheapest one is about $100 more than what I'd be paying for the 670. Wish I could make that switch, though!

Gammyduck said:
You should try and put a SSD in that build. Also, you probably won't need a DVD drive ever.


Yup, the SSD is coming out, and the HD is going in.

As for the DVD drive... well, I still have DVDs. Hell, I still have some CDs. Paying $15 to be able to watch them on my new computer seems worth it to me, even if those technologies are rapidly becoming antiquated.
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