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Building 1st PC, could use some advice

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June 11, 2013 12:53:07 PM

Ok, so it been about 5 yrs since i last got a PC, mine still works fine but is slow on most modern games. I am completely not tech savvy so i could use some help on checking what i got so far, and some suggestions on where/how i can improve. BTW this is almost strictly for gaming/web surfing, maybe a touch of game recording-via Fraps.. This is what im looking at so far:

Processor: i5 3570k quad (dont know if im going to OC but would like the option if i decide to)

MoBo: thinking something w/z77 (heard its best for gaming. suggestions welcome. (possibly something SLI)

GPU: Nvidia GTX 670(x2/SLI) unless u think i could game max settings easy with something else. (perfer to stay w/Nvidia, not a fan of AMD)

Storage: 128 SSD & 1TB HDD, (i heard using both will decrease load times, could use some clarification on this)

RAM: 16 GB DDR3

Cooling: Thinking Liquid, not sure though (always been skeptical of Liquid in electronics)

PSU: not sure here, could use some advise.

OS: Win7 (64bit) could use recommendation on what kind IE: Ultimate, Pro, Home Prem. etc (not sure if this would effect gaming at all)

If there is anything i am missing or something i could improve/change please let me know. This will be used 95% for gaming, and im looking to run games in Max settings for some time (atleast 5yrs to come). I would also like it to be fairly quiet.

Thank you for help in advance =)

More about : building 1st advice

June 11, 2013 1:00:58 PM

RAM: "95% gaming" = 8GB will be enough (2 x 4 GB).
SSD: Having the OS and most of your often used applications on it makes the PC scream. Doesn't really affect game play while in the game, but overall the whole PC feels (and is) much snappier.
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
Cooling: Unless and until you get to the far reaches of overclocking, air will be cheaper, easier, and do the job.
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June 11, 2013 1:06:18 PM

USAFRet said:
RAM: "95% gaming" = 8GB will be enough (2 x 4 GB).
SSD: Having the OS and most of your often used applications on it makes the PC scream. Doesn't really affect game play while in the game, but overall the whole PC feels (and is) much snappier.
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
Cooling: Unless and until you get to the far reaches of overclocking, air will be cheaper, easier, and do the job.


Any suggestion on air cooling? like brand, what to look for, what to stay away from?
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June 11, 2013 1:55:14 PM

KloudZero said:
USAFRet said:
RAM: "95% gaming" = 8GB will be enough (2 x 4 GB).
SSD: Having the OS and most of your often used applications on it makes the PC scream. Doesn't really affect game play while in the game, but overall the whole PC feels (and is) much snappier.
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
Cooling: Unless and until you get to the far reaches of overclocking, air will be cheaper, easier, and do the job.


Any suggestion on air cooling? like brand, what to look for, what to stay away from?


I only have one data point (mine) but the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Plus or EVO is excellent. Under 100% CPU load, as close to silent as you can be. I literally had to take the side cover off and stick my head under the desk to hear it. Max temp was I believe ~68C. This on a i5-3570K.

They're large, but work oh so well.

I've heard good things about Noctua, but have never used them.
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June 11, 2013 2:05:51 PM

CPU: i5 is a great choice. I doubt it would be necessary to overclock.

MoBo: If you're going to SLI, LGA 1155 platform is a little weird. You'll have two PCIe x16 lanes populated, but they will only function as x8 lanes since the LGA 1155 boards don't actually have 32 lanes. In order to get the proper number of lanes, you have to ugprade to a 2011 socket x79 chipset board (which is ~ $200) and the cheapest 2011 processor, the i7 3820 (~ $300). That's about a $200 premium over an LGA1155 setup in order to get the full performance out of an SLI. You'll notice that when Tom's Hardware does an SLI review, their test setup always involves an x58 or x79 board, otherwise performance will be limited. How much is it limited? Maybe not enough to merit the additional $200 that it would take to upgrade to a x79 chipset.
This Tom's Hardware article investigates performance differences in SLI when using two x8 lanes vs two x16 lanes, but it's for older tech (GTX 400 series).

All of this is to say that you could avoid the problem altogether by getting one GTX 690, which packs the performance of two 680s in SLI and perhaps save a little on your PSU (Newegg calculator says 622W for a system with a 690) and eliminate an additional point of potential failure.

If you do buy an LGA 1155 board for whatever reason, a $100 Z77 board is more than sufficient for the uses you described.

Storage: No idea about the benefit of using both a HDD and an SSD--(I assume the game would live on the HDD and your OS on the SSD). But as for benefits of an SSD, it will reduce dropped frames on games with high resolution textures like Skyrim. I went from playing BF3 on a 7200RPM HDD to a Samsung 830 series SSD and noticed a much smoother experience, but no quantifiable jump in fps. If you don't really need the space I would consider ditching the HDD and buying a 250GB SSD instead of 120GB SSD + 1TB HDD. Keep your current HDD and stick it in the new system for storage.

Cooling: I've never done liquid. I'm very happy with a Noctua NH-D14 cooling a 4.6 Ghz OC on an i5-2500k.

PSU: Get one made by Seasonic. Calculator says ~675 watts for a 670 SLI setup. If you need to OC two 670s down the road, get 800 watts.

OS: I'm really happy with the cheapest version of W7 I could find.
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June 11, 2013 3:34:09 PM

drewhoo said:
CPU: i5 is a great choice. I doubt it would be necessary to overclock.

MoBo: If you're going to SLI, LGA 1155 platform is a little weird. You'll have two PCIe x16 lanes populated, but they will only function as x8 lanes since the LGA 1155 boards don't actually have 32 lanes. In order to get the proper number of lanes, you have to ugprade to a 2011 socket x79 chipset board (which is ~ $200) and the cheapest 2011 processor, the i7 3820 (~ $300). That's about a $200 premium over an LGA1155 setup in order to get the full performance out of an SLI. You'll notice that when Tom's Hardware does an SLI review, their test setup always involves an x58 or x79 board, otherwise performance will be limited. How much is it limited? Maybe not enough to merit the additional $200 that it would take to upgrade to a x79 chipset.
This Tom's Hardware article investigates performance differences in SLI when using two x8 lanes vs two x16 lanes, but it's for older tech (GTX 400 series).

All of this is to say that you could avoid the problem altogether by getting one GTX 690, which packs the performance of two 680s in SLI and perhaps save a little on your PSU (Newegg calculator says 622W for a system with a 690) and eliminate an additional point of potential failure.

If you do buy an LGA 1155 board for whatever reason, a $100 Z77 board is more than sufficient for the uses you described.

Storage: No idea about the benefit of using both a HDD and an SSD--(I assume the game would live on the HDD and your OS on the SSD). But as for benefits of an SSD, it will reduce dropped frames on games with high resolution textures like Skyrim. I went from playing BF3 on a 7200RPM HDD to a Samsung 830 series SSD and noticed a much smoother experience, but no quantifiable jump in fps. If you don't really need the space I would consider ditching the HDD and buying a 250GB SSD instead of 120GB SSD + 1TB HDD. Keep your current HDD and stick it in the new system for storage.

Cooling: I've never done liquid. I'm very happy with a Noctua NH-D14 cooling a 4.6 Ghz OC on an i5-2500k.

PSU: Get one made by Seasonic. Calculator says ~675 watts for a 670 SLI setup. If you need to OC two 670s down the road, get 800 watts.

OS: I'm really happy with the cheapest version of W7 I could find.


thnx for all the good info on Mobo/SLI, ill prolly take ur advice and just opt for a better GPU. i was looking at the 690 but idk if i can take a $1000~ hit on GPU (looking @ 500-700 GPU budget). i might just wait a little while for the price to drop or try to find a good steal on one. i was also looking at the 770 or 780. a bit cheaper, but sacrificing memory for core clock. (dont know how that would relate to performance for gaming) as far as PSU im prolly gonna go for a 800watt it should be more than i need which is fine because i dont think there is any real drawback to having more than enough power right? imma have to go back through everything and see where im at again after all this good advice.
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June 11, 2013 4:32:51 PM

OK after review and moving some things around here is what ive come up with:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor

Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler

MoBo: MSI Z77A-G41 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard

Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
(wasnt sure on the diffrence between 1066 to 2133, so i picked a middle ground)

Storage: Samsung 840 Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk

GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 690 4GB Video Card
(went for it anyways =P)

PSU: SeaSonic Platinum 860W 80 PLUS Platinum Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
(was a $20 diff between 760 and 860w)

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit)

Sound: Asus Xonar Essence STX 24-bit 192 KHz Sound Card

only need to find a Box and a Optical Drive. Do you think i would need a full size box or would i be fine with a Mid. Also any suggestions on a decent Optical Drive? and would this set up be able to run any current game Max settings?

thnx again for the help.
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June 11, 2013 8:47:02 PM

Even if you're playing on 2560x1600, this rig is going to blow away any game on any setting.

Mid Tower is fine, and even a micro atx mid tower would be fine (provided you picked an mATX Z77 mobo). I would look for a Lian Li, Fractal Design, or Silverstone case. I installed a three slot 11.5" x 5" ASUS 570 Direct CU II in this NZXT case (the 690 is smaller than that card in every dimension)

There are even micro atx mini towers that could fit it easily, once the removable HDD cage is removed (SSDs don't actually require a 2.5" slot since they don't generate heat or have moving parts. My SSD OS drive is taped to the bottom of my case underneath my HDD cage.)

This Micro ATX Mini Tower Fractal Design case
"Supports graphic cards with lengths up to 400mm (15.7") when upper HDD-bay is removed"

That MoBo only has 2 6Gb/s SATA ports, which is fine, just make sure your SSD is installed in one of them (usually SATA0 and SATA1) and in case you aren't familiar with SSDs, there are several guides on this site to optimizing them that you'll want to follow. Biggest rule to follow is change your storage mode from IDE to AHCI or you'll only see about half of what your (absurdly fast) SSD can do.

FWIW I think the best configuration would be to install the sound card in the x1 slot above the GPU so the 690's fan isn't obstructed from sucking in air.

Reviews for the Vulcan case and the Fractal Design case indicate that the CPU cooler you chose will fit with an inch to spare.

As for optical drives, I've bought the $20 LG or ASUS for the builds I do for friends/family.

Well that's all I can think of. That's a sick build for gaming. Do post some fps stats on whatever you play! I'd love to see how it handles Crysis 3.

Edit: re: the memory, 1600MHz is great. I never found a reason to go for a higher speed.
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June 12, 2013 3:47:12 PM

drewhoo said:
Even if you're playing on 2560x1600, this rig is going to blow away any game on any setting.

Mid Tower is fine, and even a micro atx mid tower would be fine (provided you picked an mATX Z77 mobo). I would look for a Lian Li, Fractal Design, or Silverstone case. I installed a three slot 11.5" x 5" ASUS 570 Direct CU II in this NZXT case (the 690 is smaller than that card in every dimension)

There are even micro atx mini towers that could fit it easily, once the removable HDD cage is removed (SSDs don't actually require a 2.5" slot since they don't generate heat or have moving parts. My SSD OS drive is taped to the bottom of my case underneath my HDD cage.)

This Micro ATX Mini Tower Fractal Design case
"Supports graphic cards with lengths up to 400mm (15.7") when upper HDD-bay is removed"

That MoBo only has 2 6Gb/s SATA ports, which is fine, just make sure your SSD is installed in one of them (usually SATA0 and SATA1) and in case you aren't familiar with SSDs, there are several guides on this site to optimizing them that you'll want to follow. Biggest rule to follow is change your storage mode from IDE to AHCI or you'll only see about half of what your (absurdly fast) SSD can do.

FWIW I think the best configuration would be to install the sound card in the x1 slot above the GPU so the 690's fan isn't obstructed from sucking in air.

Reviews for the Vulcan case and the Fractal Design case indicate that the CPU cooler you chose will fit with an inch to spare.

As for optical drives, I've bought the $20 LG or ASUS for the builds I do for friends/family.

Well that's all I can think of. That's a sick build for gaming. Do post some fps stats on whatever you play! I'd love to see how it handles Crysis 3.

Edit: re: the memory, 1600MHz is great. I never found a reason to go for a higher speed.


you just brought up a good point i hadn't thought of, my monitor is 1680x1050 60Hz, thats prolly somthing i should upgrade as well. what Res should i go for?

you also stated that i only had 2 6gb SATA ports, is this something i should improve upon? because i would definitely want to leave room for upgrades, possible SLI way later in future.

one last question as well. With this build will there be bottlenecking? From what ive read about the GPU its pretty much Overkill for most games right now.

still in the air on a box, just soooooo many options out there lol.
i will most certainly post some stats for u once i get it all together. (might take a few months though) but i think it will be worth the wait.
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June 12, 2013 10:40:14 PM

Re: 6gb/s SATA ports
This will only limit you if you want to connect more than 2 SSDs. I didn't mean to imply that you should fix that, because IMO it's totally fine. If you want to build a crazy SSD RAID0, buy a $200 PCIe x8 software RAID card and go to town.

Re: bottlenecking
In some sense there always has to be a bottleneck, but with your current build I don't think you're ever going to think "gosh I wish I had gotten an i7." For gaming, TMK, there's not a lot of use in eliminating bottlenecks because GPUs work so well regardless of the system they're in.

Re: the box
Maybe watch some installation videos on some cool cases to help inform your decision. It's hard to decide based on specs alone. Seeing the case "in action" might help.

Re: Resolution
Oh man. If you're on 1680x1050, I would go for a 2560x1440 (WQHD). They're expensive, but let me put it this way: if I had your budget, I would play on medium with a QHD monitor rather than ultra on a 1920x1080 (FHD). Plus, if you're only playing at 1650x1080, it will be years--literally--before you start to see the benefits of a 690 vs a 660, because even a 660 is going to pwn anything on ultra (maybe not Crysis 3) at the resolution you're using now.

The market for WQHD screens is getting much more competitive, so prices are coming down. At least once a month, I've seen a Tom's Hardware Daily Deals for [insert date] article where you can get a WQHD monitor for under $600. I think some companies are even going lower than that. The reason some of them are so highly priced is that they use a different technology than 95% of FHD monitors. It's call IPS (In Plan Switching). The corresponding tech for lower cost monitors is "TN" which stand for Twisted Nematic. Every stupid company has their own "version" of IPS and it's really annoying to keep track.

Only a few WQHD monitors do true IPS. IPS allows for full display of the Adobe RGB colorspace, which has a MUCH wider gamut than TN, which only manages most of the sRGB colorspace. True IPS displays 1.06 Billion colors. TN displays 16.7 million. Adobe RGB is really important to designers (like me!) who are working on things that will be printed because Adobe RGB corresponds to the printing colorspace CMYK.

The biggest difference you'll notice if you get a real IPS monitor is in the greens, which is a glaring weakness of TN (and sRGB for that matter). Any FPS with foliage is going to look *stunning* on IPS.

But anyway, regardless of whether your QHD monitor is true IPS or H-IPS or whatever, you will absolutely keel over once you see how glorious video games look on WQHD instead of 1650x1080. FWIW I used an LG 1650x1080 monitor before I upgraded to what I currently have, which is a Dell U2711 (WQHD) (which I was thrilled to find on sale for $850 about a year ago). Now you can get the successor to my model for under $600 with a promo code here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sidenote: until recently, the only WQHD monitors available were made by Dell, HP, NEC, DoubleSight, and Viewsonic. Now LG, ASUS, and Samsung have entered the mix, bringing aggressively priced monitors.
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June 17, 2013 9:08:53 PM

Update:
So after all the wonderful info i got from you guys, i have decided to completely rethink building a new PC, i have decided to hold off a while longer and just make an insane build, ( i got an extra bonus check from work this month =D)
This is what ive come up with:

Case: Thermaltake Chaser MK-1 Full Tower Gaming Case W/ Side Panel Window

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.40 GHz 6MB Intel Smart Cache LGA1155

Cooling Fan: Thermaltake Frio OCK CPU Cooler

Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard

Memory: 16GB (4GBx4) DDR3/1866MHz Dual Channel Memory (Corsair Vengeance)

Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 690 4GB 16X PCIe 3.0 Dual GPU Video Card

Power Supply Upgrade: SeaSonic Platinum 860W 80 PLUS Platinum Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply

Hard Drive: 128GB Corsair Force GS Series SATA-III 6.0Gb/s SSD - 560MB/s Read & 535MB/s Write

Data Hard Drive: 1TB SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 32MB Cache 7200RPM HDD

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer

Sound: Asus Xonar Essence STX 24-bit 192 KHz Sound Card

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Ultimate (64-bit Edition)

looking like ill be spending around $2500~, according to the website it has me at 270~FPS(w/slight OC 10%~)(FurMark Benchmark)
hoping to try and "future proof" a bit. an impossible task. but it never hurts to try =P cant wait to actually see this thing in action. I will be posting some Crysis 3 Bench marks once she is up and running!
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