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Building a [Budget] Modular Gaming Desktop (Need Help Please)

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June 13, 2013 9:21:10 PM

Hello all,

This is my very first adventure into building a desktop all on my own! Well, not entirely... First I would like some help on deciding the right parts to get! :)  I am fairly familiar when it comes to custom PCs, but with so many options I do not know where to start and am unsure if everything will be compatible.

So my question to you is to help me create a desktop that will start off strong and has room to grow in the coming years. I will break everything down as far as my needs and wants with the machine:

Main Goals:

    + To build an upgradable and future-ready workstation/gaming rig, under $1100.
    + The desktop can and will be upgraded in the future, but I would prefer for it to be able to stand on its own as soon as it is built.
    + I want enough room inside to add additional hard drives, cards, whatever necessary to keep it up to date and current as the years go on.
    + I am hoping to at least get a solid 4 years of heavy use with it.


Other Goals:

    + I plan to use it for gaming and hope to run Battlefield 4, Watch Dogs, SimCity, Starcraft 2, and other next-gen games at maximum settings.
    + I will also use the desktop for coding projects and heavy photography editing. (I know the former will not require a lot of power, just gauging my usage).
    + I would also like HDMI-out ports. (Not sure where to look)
    + Additionally, a Blu-Ray drive would be a nice feature to watch high-definition movies.



After browsing through the forums and before creating my account, I have come up with this build from PC Part Picker:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($385.38 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Arc Midi R2 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($55.98 @ Outlet PC)
Keyboard: Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Wired Gaming Keyboard ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Mouse: Microsoft SideWinder X3 Wired Laser Mouse ($14.77 @ Mac Mall)
Total: $1081.06
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-14 00:08 EDT-0400)

Please Note:

    + I would also like to add a nice, 1080p monitor to go along with the new desktop :) 
    + I also do not need an operating system as my university provides my department free copies. :D 
    + I am open to consider a SSD for the main drive to store the OS and other essentials, but what size is recommended?
    + I am also willing to price stretch if necessary
    + I realize I may be missing a few parts here or there and I may have things that do not match or are unnecessary. Please guide me in the right direction, I am open to ALL feedback :) 


One Last Thing:
THANK YOU!
As a showing of gratitude and appreciation for this community, I would be more than willing to post back build updates accompanied by pictures of my construction progress. I'd be more than willing to give back to such a nice community. Thank you in advance for reading this and your help :D 

Best wishes and I look forward to hearing your suggestions.

Best solution

a b 4 Gaming
a c 84 U Graphics card
a c 91 à CPUs
a b B Homebuilt system
June 13, 2013 11:13:49 PM

I am impressed with your thread mate. Its been ages I have not read such a detailed and nice thread. :) 

Well, lets come to the point -

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 45.0 CFM Fluid Dynamic Bearing CPU Cooler ($20.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($78.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($297.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Fractal Design Core 3000 USB 3.0 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SN-208DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($18.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1081.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-14 02:09 EDT-0400)

Cost is exactly same but I have thrown in an SSD (128 GB is enough to store OS and all that stuff along with it) at the expense of video card.
Actually HD 7950 can max out almost all the games out there at 1440p display, let alone 1080p. The card is way stronger than you think it is. You won't face any sort of performance problems with this card.

Much recommended in any case.

Also, here I have changed CPU and motherboard to 4th Gen Haswell to ensure you stay up to date. Its around 15% faster than Ivy Bridge.

Overall, this is a better deal. I have to say that your is pretty good too, just an SSD would make it better only. :) 
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June 14, 2013 11:56:44 AM

Wow, thank you very much for the feedback! I am taking this build-your-own computer thing seriously, so it is very nice to see that you appreciated the extra details. :) 

I completely forgot about the new Haswell updates! That will be a new addition to the build for sure. And I am very glad you were able to fit the SSD in too! (While also finding a better HDD, very nice)

I guess I am still curious on two things: the HD 7950 and keeping the system cool. Overall, the HD 7950 sounds like a great bang for its buck. And if it can max out most games from 2013-2014, then I am well pleased. What if I would want to double my graphics cards in the future? Say I get a new graphics card in addition to the HD 7950 or get a newer model altogether. As log as they are Cross-fire compatible they should work, right? I imagine I would run into PSU issues and such then :(  But I was just curious! Two HD 7950s down the road would be more powerful than one HD7970, right?

I also found a HD 7970 for $50 more than the HD 7950 that you found. Is the difference between the two cards worth $50? Or is it best to spend that on a new game or other hardware?

And lastly, I want to be sure that my system will stay cool and not overheat. Will I be required to buy extra fans?

Again, thank you so much for the helpful reply! I am learning new things already! :) 
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
a b à CPUs
a b B Homebuilt system
June 14, 2013 12:27:47 PM

I guess you dont overclock

If you plan to add a second card, get a gtx 770. sli is overall better

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($209.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus H87-PLUS ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($111.00 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 770 2GB Video Card ($395.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: NZXT Phantom 410 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG UH12NS29 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($49.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1131.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-14 15:39 EDT-0400)
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June 14, 2013 12:30:44 PM

Marcopolo123 said:
I guess you dont overclock

If you plan to add a second card, get a gtx 770. sli is overall better


It's not so much that I don't. I just haven't done it before and don't know how to. Aren't there risks to running it over the suggested clock rate?

Thank you for your feedback though. I will look into the GTX 770!
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a b 4 Gaming
a c 84 U Graphics card
a c 91 à CPUs
a b B Homebuilt system
June 15, 2013 12:04:47 AM

That is pretty good. :) 

So lets come to the answers -

1) You would have to buy another HD 7950 in that case, but in some games you can see crossfire issues. Two ATI cards don't get along very well, Nvidia is better in that case but damn thing costs $100 more straight away.
You are better off with a single HD 7970. You won't feel the need to crossfire anytime in future with that and you are also getting never settle bundle. That makes it a better deal than GTX 770 in all cases as the cards give almost same performance with no noticeable difference at all.

2) I made sure that PSU is capable of handling both the cards. No issues there. :) 

3) Two HD 7950 = Double frame rates than a single HD 7950 in almost every criteria as long as CPU is not bottleneck (which it isn't in this case by any means).

4) Yeah there is difference between two cards. If you can spend $60 more, its a good idea to go for HD 7970 instead.

5) Everything can run at stock coolers if you do not overclock too high. After that if you see high temperatures and stability issues, buy water cooling or a good CPU cooler. :) 

6) Overclock CPU only, don't overclock GPU. Its already strong enough so its not a good idea to overclock it unless necessary.

7) Overclocking forces PC components to run at speeds higher than what is suggested for them by company. As long as you do not overclock things too high and go very slowly in raising clocks (and stopping and reverting immediately as you see stress tests are not stable) things should be alright on normal cooling. You would eventually find a stable clock for your CPU.

Last but not the least, Haswell is not a good overclocker. But I guess you won't need to overclock that CPU too. Its already very strong and overclocking is not needed.
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June 15, 2013 6:48:14 PM

Thank you so much for all the help!

I think ultimately I will save up a little more and go for the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition. It should easily be worth the extra money. The current setup, from what it seems, should be more than enough to provide maximum settings for the next year or so. I am not aiming to max out every game, but the good performance will deliver. :) 

After about four years I could experiment with over-clocking to get the last bit from my machine and then eventually upgrade again to newer components.

Luckiest Charm, you easily deserve the Best Answer. Thank you so much for helping me along my first build :)  If it isn't any extra trouble, can you look over my revised build? I will post it below as soon as I finish it.

This will be a fun project and I will continue to watch part prices closely to get the absolute best deals. :) 

Best wishes and many thanks!
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June 15, 2013 8:25:48 PM

Here is the updated build. I opted for the 950MHz 7970 instead of the 1GHz. I figure I could always over-clock it to 1GHz if I wanted to. :) 

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 45.0 CFM Fluid Dynamic Bearing CPU Cooler ($20.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme3 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 8GB (4 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($78.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($349.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Core 3000 USB 3.0 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SN-208DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($26.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $1141.88
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-15 23:24 EDT-0400)
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a b 4 Gaming
a c 84 U Graphics card
a c 91 à CPUs
a b B Homebuilt system
June 15, 2013 11:19:00 PM

Yeah that is a perfect build. :) 

You would be able to play almost all games on very high - ultra settings except a few (2-3) extra demanding games which even Titans can't help out like Crysis 3, etc.

If you want to get 60 FPS on Ultra on that game, that is not possible as even 4 x GTX Titans can not get you that.
Other than that, most of the newer titles would give you very decent frame rates on very high settings. :) 

Go for this one.
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