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Multipurpose Haswell Build: Best Bang for Buck? $800-$900 budget

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June 15, 2013 5:07:28 PM

Hey All,

Now that Haswell is out, I am going to construct a multipurpose desktop, which I would like to use for a bit of everything: gaming, programming, and some simulation and multimedia editing. And I am also hoping that outside of the upgrading the graphics card and adding more RAM, it will last quite a while.

I already have an SSD, monitor (1900x1200), keyboard, mouse, and copy of Win 8. I also have been monitoring sales while waiting for Haswell, and have pre-purchased a few components including a PSU & HDD.

My budget for the system is $800-900, with a soft upper bound if there is a good enough reason to break it.

I do plan on air overclocking.

I live near a Microcenter and they have a sale this weekend with $40 off Haswell chip + any Z87 motherboard. If I were to order my system this instant, it would probably look like this:

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme6 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance Pro 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 Already Bought)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($169.00 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 650W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 Already Bought)
Sub-Total: $783.93
Microcenter sale: -$40
Total: $743.93

I originally was going to go for the Extreme4, but the Extreme6 is only $10 more at Microcenter, thus appearing to be the best deal. I also was originally going to go for a 650 Ti Boost, but the 660 isn't too much more (my main gaming is SC2, Total War, etc, although I will probably get BF4 when it comes out).

I would prefer to stick with Nvidia for CUDA, Physx, and historic driver stability (I am aware that AMD has made great strides in the past few years).

Given the multipurpose use, I would rather put money in non-easily upgradeable components--thus not getting the fastest GPU possible--given I will have to upgrade the GPU in ~3 years time anyway.

Which leads to my questions:

First: given my multipurpose use, would paying the extra $80 for the i7-4770K over the i5-4670K be worth the multi-threading increase? (It costs $279 @ Microcenter). Day to day use, and with most gaming, I know I wouldn't notice the difference. But it would make a difference in multithreading heavy work like multimedia and simulation.

Second: is 1866 RAM worth it over 1600, and what about the timings? C9 vs C8, etc? What's the best bang for the buck here?

Third: Any reason not to get the Extreme6?

Fourth: Any case recommendations?

Any other thoughts or critiques are welcome. Thanks in advanced.
a b K Overclocking
a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2013 5:25:12 PM

For multi-threaded programs an i7 is head over heels over the i5. Most games only use 4 cores at most, which is why an i5 and i7 are neck and neck for gaming.

1600 speed for your RAM should be more than adequate for your needs.

I recommend a 7870 over a non ti 660. They're priced the same and the 7870 outperforms it. AMD has changed the way it releases its drivers, so they tend to be much more stable than in the past.

For case recommendations, for flash NZXT phantom 410. For regular looks, try the Thermaltake Urban series or Corsair Carbride.
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a b K Overclocking
a c 277 4 Gaming
a b å Intel
a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2013 5:56:26 PM

I would recommend the Fractal Design Define R4 case. Really nice case and the quietest case out there.
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a b K Overclocking
a b 4 Gaming
a b å Intel
a c 82 à CPUs
a c 79 V Motherboard
June 15, 2013 7:08:23 PM

Pairing an i5 or i7 k with a WD Green drive is a little odd. You will lose a lot of the responsiveness of the computer with that as the primary drive. If you can spare another $100 for a 120 or 128 GB SSD that will be a huge boost in performance.

Samsung 840, 840Pro, Crucial M5, OCZ Vertex 4, Kingston HyperX are all decent models.

Whoops, missed the part at the top where you mentioned having an SSD, disregard. For other readers, look a list of SSDs...
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June 15, 2013 8:02:35 PM

@Eximo: If I didn't already have one, I definitely would add an SSD :) 

I switched over to 1600 RAM, CAS 9. I'm assuming paying an extra ~$30 for a CAS 8 without large coolers that might get in the way of the Evo isn't worth it.

However, looking at Ivy Bridge, I see some threads that say it runs best with 1833, despite Ivy Bridge being native 1600. I looked for some Haswell reviews on this, but haven't been able to find any. For overclocking the CPU, would the faster RAM timings make a difference?

The Fractal Case does look nice. Also looks like it gets plenty of airflow. It is large enough to fit the bigger air coolers like the Evc, right?

The last Best GPU for Money article had the 660 over the Pitcairn-based 7870s, which I am assuming are the cards closer in price to the 660 I have listed. Unless I am missing something, the specs listed don't make it super easy to determine whether the cards are Pitcairn or Tahiti.

CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme6 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Green 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 Already Bought)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($169.00 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Black Pearl) ATX Mid Tower Case ($84.99 @ Microcenter)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 650W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 Already Bought)
Sub-Total: $846.91
Microcenter sale: -$40
Total: $806.91

Hmm. With ~$100 to spare, I'm still tempted by the i7. Or I still have room for the 1833 RAM.
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a b K Overclocking
a c 277 4 Gaming
a b å Intel
a b à CPUs
a b V Motherboard
June 15, 2013 8:52:11 PM

7870 XT (using the Tahiti Le architecture): http://pcpartpicker.com/part/sapphire-video-card-100354...
The Fractal Design Define R4 is big enough for the Hyper 212 EVO.
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June 17, 2013 3:53:02 PM

I ended up going with the i7, which if you are following along is not the optimal choice for a pure gaming machine, but it appeared to fit my multipurpose needs better.

As such, I opted not to attempt to squeeze the Tahiti-based 7870 recommend by realchaos in my budget and went with the 660 I originally listed. This also has the side benefit of not having to pick between a faster card and one the supports CUDA, since CUDA was a preferred want for my multipurpose use.

Microcenter ran out of their Fractal Design cases (and they were on sale too, pity), so I'm waiting to see if a re-stock will occur and if the sale price will be retained.

Thanks for all your help.
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June 27, 2013 1:04:38 PM

computatorium said:
I ended up going with the i7, which if you are following along is not the optimal choice for a pure gaming machine, but it appeared to fit my multipurpose needs better.

As such, I opted not to attempt to squeeze the Tahiti-based 7870 recommend by realchaos in my budget and went with the 660 I originally listed. This also has the side benefit of not having to pick between a faster card and one the supports CUDA, since CUDA was a preferred want for my multipurpose use.

Microcenter ran out of their Fractal Design cases (and they were on sale too, pity), so I'm waiting to see if a re-stock will occur and if the sale price will be retained.

Thanks for all your help.


In case you haven´t gotten the chassis yet I can highly recommend the Phantom 410. I have it and I love it.
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June 28, 2013 4:01:01 PM

good deal. unfortunately i already bought the case. thanks though.

computer's working great, haven't had a chance to overclock due to some UEFI stability issues that were recently fixed with the latest firmware.
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