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$4000 Gaming PC Build - Novice needs advice! Check out my spec so far...

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June 18, 2013 11:39:13 AM

Hi Everyone, I'm looking for advice and comments on building a gaming rig.

I have a big budget, but very little experience. I haven't decided to self-build or get pre-built yet but that's another question for another day. The build below totals $3300 but i could do higher if given good reason to. I'm not interested in cutting corners and putting savings towards a vacation, etc ;) 
At the bottom of this post I shall list various thoughts and questions I'd like to focus on.

The main purpose of my rig will be to play Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4 with graphics on Ultra and achieve 120FPS. I may also do a little game recording, lots of photo editing, and a minimal amount of video editing/rendering. It would also be nice to futureproof the system as much as possible.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus SABERTOOTH Z87 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($247.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($179.99 @ Best Buy)
Storage: Corsair Neutron Series GTX 240GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($209.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
Sound Card: Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium HD 24-bit 96 KHz Sound Card ($139.98 @ Amazon)
Wireless Network Adapter: Asus PCE-N15 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($24.99 @ Microcenter)
Case: Cooler Master HAF X ATX Full Tower Case ($179.99 @ NCIX US)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF120 Performance Edition (2-Pack) 63.5 CFM 120mm Fans ($27.33 @ NCIX US)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF120 Performance Edition (2-Pack) 63.5 CFM 120mm Fans ($27.33 @ NCIX US)
Case Fan: Corsair Air Series AF120 Performance Edition (2-Pack) 63.5 CFM 120mm Fans ($27.33 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 1050W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($55.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Other: Internal Chassis Lighting (Red) ($10.00)
Other: Overclock CPU (to between 4.0GHz & 4.4GHz) ($0.00)
Other: Surge Protector ($15.00)
Total: $3310.80 (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.) (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-18 10:48 EDT-0400)

Peripherals: I currently game on a medicore laptop and have a monitor/keyboard/mouse already:
Monitor: BenQ 24” XL2420T 120Hz 1920x1080
Keyboard: Razer Black Widow
Mouse: Cyborg RAT 7
Headset: Astro A40 wired with Mixamp 2013
Approximate Purchase Date: Aug-Oct 2013
Budget Range: $3500-$4500
System Usage: Gaming- Battlefield 3 and Battlefield 4.
Location: Maryland, USA
Overclocking: Yes
SLI: Yes (2 Cards)

Thoughts/Questions:

  1. CPU - I have listed an i7 4770K. Concensus seems to say it is a (slightly) better option than the older 3770K. But what about a hex-core 3930K - I don't think I need one, but should I consider it?
  2. Graphics cards - I'm going for 2 x GTX 780's. Looking at EVGA Superclocked versions - will their stock cooling fans be enough, or do I need to look at extra fancy water cooling or anything?
  3. Graphics - connecting to monitor: What is the best cable to use? Display port? HDMI?
  4. RAM - Is it worth getting higher than 1866MHz? Will 2133MHz offer big benefit/future proof?
  5. RAM - What's best: 2 x 8Gb or 4 x 4Gb?
  6. Sound Card - is it worth getting one? My headset is an Astro A40 with mixamp and I'd like to run an optical cable into it (well, into the mixamp section of it).
  7. I think this system will have the grunt to record with software such as Fraps, but is it worth getting a dedicated capture card? Any recommendations?


  • Thank you for any help and suggestions :) 
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    June 18, 2013 11:46:36 AM

    If you got the budget, (Which you do) grab that damn 2011 socket with the hex core. You get more PCIe lanes, as well as more RAM options. Needless to say, more upgradeability in the future (quad SLI anyone?). I see you want to go down the more competitive route, with that 120Hz monitor. That system will wreck any game you can throw at it at any setting.
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    June 18, 2013 11:49:30 AM

    Quote:
    If you got the budget, (Which you do) grab that damn 2011 socket with the hex core. You get more PCIe lanes, as well as more RAM options. Needless to say, more upgradeability in the future (quad SLI anyone?). I see you want to go down the more competitive route, with that 120Hz monitor. That system will wreck any game you can throw at it at any setting.


    Nope. That won't make a build "future proof". You do not come out ahead buying X79 for a gaming rig. It's way too much investment for almost no payoff. Quad SLI? Unless you're running like 10 monitors you'll never need quad SLI.

    To answer your questions:

    1. No, the better option is the i5-4670K, you do not need to pay more for the i7-4770K, and an i7-3930K is simply not needed for gaming.

    2. Not really, unless you want to to a full CPU - GPU custom loop, then you don't need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on it.

    3. DVI D-Link is the best, I feel. I've never found HDMI to be really effective or reduce refresh rates.

    4. No. Not to mention 2133 MHz, and the Corsair Dominator Platinum are gigantic wastes of money. Fancy RAM is not worth it, especially with RAM prices as volatile as they are.

    5. For gaming actually you don't really need anything more than 2 x 4GB, anything else is a waste.

    6. No.

    7. I don't know, I've never really recorded myself playing games, or seen the need to. But everything on that build is massive amounts of overkill - especially the Dominator Platinum and all those extra case fans. You could spend 1/2 of your planned budget and then put the rest of that money in the bank. Recording games is not that intensive. The Sabertooth is horrible, there's better coolers than the H100i, and all the extra case fans and useless accessories (surge bar, internal lighting) are wastes of money. You don't need all those extra hard drives either. Get one to start with and add more as you need them. You'll also never need 1050W for any build - even dual 780s don't put out more than 700W max. You could pay 1/2 that and save the rest:

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i5-4670K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($239.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U9B SE2 37.9 CFM CPU Cooler ($60.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock Z87 Extreme4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($149.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: OCZ Vector Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($144.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($663.98 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($663.98 @ Newegg)
    Case: Fractal Design Define R4 w/Window (Titanium Grey) ATX Mid Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk III 750W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $2366.86
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-18 14:48 EDT-0400)
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    June 18, 2013 12:04:41 PM

    Yes, I like the 4770K. Some future proofing in that.

    No, don't like the Sabertooth motherboard. The shroud traps heat and collects lint. Go with this, note the nice audio and included wireless:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    For absolutely best cooling, the H100i is it. I'd recommend the air cooler Noctua NH-C14, but the H100i is better. Just be darn careful with water cooling. A mistake can cost you a thousand dollars of ruined components.

    With your budget, you almost have to go with a cool 500GB SSD. Plenty of room for everything. The larger size will make it faster and more reliable. go with a Samsung 840.

    Not sure why you have two 1TB HDD's. One 2TB would be cheaper. Are you thinking Raid0? If so, forget it. Just go with the 500GB SSD and you are good to go with a single HDD.

    For a single 1920X1200 display, I think the 780 is perfect.

    Recommended motherboard has sound and wireless adapter.

    With your budget, you have to go Platinum supply. It will run cooler and quieter:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    You don't need water cooling for your graphics cards. Just make sure your side fans are blowing cool air onto them.

    Use Display Port for HDMI doesn't go to 120Hz.

    With Intel, anything faster than 1600 helps very little, as in about a percent and only in some conditions.

    Go 2X8. It will save power.
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    June 18, 2013 12:33:03 PM

    I like most of G's advice. A few differences I'd recommend you at least think about though:

    1) An i7 does have benefits, but not for everyone. If you were to run some professional type applications, the hyper-threading will help. As for gaming right now, no, the i5 is all you need. It is possible that games in the near future will start using more than four cores, but then again they might not. Your call. Just don't bother with the 3900 series.

    3) I'd stick with DVI-D or Displayport.

    5) Similar to #1, more than 8GB of RAM is mainly for more professional type apps, 3D design, video editing, etc. If you want to go 16GB, feel free, just know you may not actually utilize it for a while.

    As for G's part list, I like it, but if you've got the money, I'd strongly recommend a 256GB SSD, maybe even a 512GB if you really want to spend the money. It gives you more room for games so they load faster. Also, I'm rather partial to Silverstone Raven 3 case ( RV03 ), though the Define is a great chassis too. The Raven's rotated mboard tray and airflow will really help cool your SLI setup.
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    June 18, 2013 12:42:15 PM

    Thanks for the comments so far.

    I note your points, in particular about the RAM. Ok so 2 x 8Gb saves power, but is there any performance pros/cons between 2 x 8Gb and 4 x 4Gb?

    CPU - I think the i7 4770K is the best choice. Easily within budget and I shall be using Adobe Photoshop and some video editing, so would benefit from it.

    If the fans that come with the case are sufficient then I’ve no problem sticking with them.

    Motherboard- I didn’t realize the Sabertooth was that bad. I shall consider the alternatives mentioned.

    A surge bar protector seems worth it to me. It’s very little cost, and we get frequent lightning storms and a few power outages a year – seems sensible to give the PC this protection.

    Optical – definitely want a blu-ray player/DVD writer.

    Storage – I was not thinking about Raid. I wanted separate drives because I could almost fill one 1TB with music and movies. The other would be for general files and recording to. Maybe I could get 1 x 2TB though, instead of 2 x 1TB. Thinking about it, I’ll probably upgrade to 3TB of storage (however I do it).
    SSD – I see no reason to go lower than 240Gb, at the very least because my budget allows for it. I could easily see 100Gb of games going on to it, then O/S, etc. Perhaps 500GB is preferable.

    I appreciate that the build seems overkill, but I really want a beast rig that will eat any current games and do very well for a number of years ahead. I have the money for it NOW. That may not be the case in 2-3 years. So lets get spending :) 
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    June 18, 2013 12:44:53 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Thanks for the comments so far.

    I note your points, in particular about the RAM. Ok so 2 x 8Gb saves power, but is there any performance pros/cons between 2 x 8Gb and 4 x 4Gb?

    CPU - I think the i7 4770K is the best choice. Easily within budget and I shall be using Adobe Photoshop and some video editing, so would benefit from it.

    If the fans that come with the case are sufficient then I’ve no problem sticking with them.

    Motherboard- I didn’t realize the Sabertooth was that bad. I shall consider the alternatives mentioned.

    A surge bar protector seems worth it to me. It’s very little cost, and we get frequent lightning storms and a few power outages a year – seems sensible to give the PC this protection.

    Optical – definitely want a blu-ray player/DVD writer.

    Storage – I was not thinking about Raid. I wanted separate drives because I could almost fill one 1TB with music and movies. The other would be for general files and recording to. Maybe I could get 1 x 2TB though, instead of 2 x 1TB. Thinking about it, I’ll probably upgrade to 3TB of storage (however I do it).
    SSD – I see no reason to go lower than 240Gb, at the very least because my budget allows for it. I could easily see 100Gb of games going on to it, then O/S, etc. Perhaps 500GB is preferable.

    I appreciate that the build seems overkill, but I really want a beast rig that will eat any current games and do very well for a number of years ahead. I have the money for it NOW. That may not be the case in 2-3 years. So lets get spending :) 


    Thats the spirit! 2x8 is better than 4x4 in this case because only 2011 can take advantage of quad channel RAM configs. (4x4)
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    June 18, 2013 12:47:10 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Thanks for the comments so far.

    I note your points, in particular about the RAM. Ok so 2 x 8Gb saves power, but is there any performance pros/cons between 2 x 8Gb and 4 x 4Gb?

    CPU - I think the i7 4770K is the best choice. Easily within budget and I shall be using Adobe Photoshop and some video editing, so would benefit from it.

    If the fans that come with the case are sufficient then I’ve no problem sticking with them.

    Motherboard- I didn’t realize the Sabertooth was that bad. I shall consider the alternatives mentioned.

    A surge bar protector seems worth it to me. It’s very little cost, and we get frequent lightning storms and a few power outages a year – seems sensible to give the PC this protection.

    Optical – definitely want a blu-ray player/DVD writer.

    Storage – I was not thinking about Raid. I wanted separate drives because I could almost fill one 1TB with music and movies. The other would be for general files and recording to. Maybe I could get 1 x 2TB though, instead of 2 x 1TB. Thinking about it, I’ll probably upgrade to 3TB of storage (however I do it).
    SSD – I see no reason to go lower than 240Gb, at the very least because my budget allows for it. I could easily see 100Gb of games going on to it, then O/S, etc. Perhaps 500GB is preferable.

    I appreciate that the build seems overkill, but I really want a beast rig that will eat any current games and do very well for a number of years ahead. I have the money for it NOW. That may not be the case in 2-3 years. So lets get spending :) 


    +1 Good point about the money. It does indeed come and go. I was a millionaire in 2000, and declared bankruptcy in 2002.

    There is no speed change going from 2 channel to 4 channel.
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    June 18, 2013 1:07:53 PM

    babernet_1 said:
    Yes, I like the 4770K. Some future proofing in that.

    No, don't like the Sabertooth motherboard. The shroud traps heat and collects lint. Go with this, note the nice audio and included wireless:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


    Spending an extra $100 isn't going to make a build future proof. It just means you spent an extra $100 on a CPU when you didn't need to.

    Quote:
    For absolutely best cooling, the H100i is it. I'd recommend the air cooler Noctua NH-C14, but the H100i is better. Just be darn careful with water cooling. A mistake can cost you a thousand dollars of ruined components.


    The D14 is great, but the H100i is nowhere near the best in terms of even closed liquid loops. That iLink software is extremely gimmicky, and the Swiftech H220 is far better since it does something the H100i can't do and that's link to a GPU in addition to a CPU.

    Quote:
    Optical – definitely want a blu-ray player/DVD writer.


    If you're buying one because you want to watch movies, don't. The playback software you need isn't included, is crazy expensive (we're talking $100 per license), and doesn't always work.

    Quote:
    As for G's part list, I like it, but if you've got the money, I'd strongly recommend a 256GB SSD, maybe even a 512GB if you really want to spend the money. It gives you more room for games so they load faster. Also, I'm rather partial to Silverstone Raven 3 case ( RV03 ), though the Define is a great chassis too. The Raven's rotated mboard tray and airflow will really help cool your SLI setup.


    The Silverstone RV03 is a great case suggestion, but you don't really need a 256GB SSD. At least right now they're far more expensive in terms of cost per GB.
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    June 18, 2013 1:43:24 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Thanks for the comments so far.

    I note your points, in particular about the RAM. Ok so 2 x 8Gb saves power, but is there any performance pros/cons between 2 x 8Gb and 4 x 4Gb?

    If the fans that come with the case are sufficient then I’ve no problem sticking with them.

    A surge bar protector seems worth it to me. It’s very little cost, and we get frequent lightning storms and a few power outages a year – seems sensible to give the PC this protection.

    Optical – definitely want a blu-ray player/DVD writer.

    Storage – I was not thinking about Raid. I wanted separate drives because I could almost fill one 1TB with music and movies. The other would be for general files and recording to. Maybe I could get 1 x 2TB though, instead of 2 x 1TB. Thinking about it, I’ll probably upgrade to 3TB of storage (however I do it).
    SSD – I see no reason to go lower than 240Gb, at the very least because my budget allows for it. I could easily see 100Gb of games going on to it, then O/S, etc. Perhaps 500GB is preferable.

    I appreciate that the build seems overkill, but I really want a beast rig that will eat any current games and do very well for a number of years ahead. I have the money for it NOW. That may not be the case in 2-3 years. So lets get spending :) 

    You'll only benefit from four RAM sticks if you've got a quad-channel controller. You might find 4x4GB kits cheaper than 2x8GB kits as well. The drawback there is that if you ever want to upgrade your RAM ( unlikely since you'll have 16GB, ) you'll need to get four new sticks. A 2x8GB kit leaves two open slots for RAM upgrades if you ever want/need it ( again, very unlikely. )

    Yes, the Raven's fans are more than sufficient. It's got two 180mm fans at the base that blast air all across the mboard and out the top. Even GPUs that recirculate hot air into the case are no match for it.

    ALWAYS get a quality surge bar. I'm not saying you need to be stupid and grab a $200 Monster bar, but why would you plug in a $2000 machine into a $5 Walmart surge strip? Get a nice ~$50 A/V bar that has room for transformer plugs.

    As G said, BD drives for computers just for movies are hit and miss in price. I'd use one in case BD media becomes an option for media distribution ( I can see games distributed on BD-ROMS pretty soon. )

    I heartily disagree with G on the SSD size. I've got a 128GB and it's hard for me to keep more than 50GB free ( SSD performance tends to plummet if you fill them too much. ) A 256GB gives you room to put your games on without worrying about performance. 512GB might be overkill, but I wouldn't say no to it if you had the money. Larger drives can more thoroughly saturate the BUS so they tend to have better performance too, though that difference between 256GB and 512GB drives is pretty small.

    You can also try a three tiered storage approach like me: SSD, high performance spindle, low power spindle. The SSD is for my main games and most time-sensitive apps; the performance spindle ( mine's a leftover 250GB WD Black ) is for all other games and apps; the storage is a large 2TB 5400 drive for files and media.
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    June 18, 2013 1:50:25 PM

    Quote:
    ALWAYS get a quality surge bar. I'm not saying you need to be stupid and grab a $200 Monster bar, but why would you plug in a $2000 machine into a $5 Walmart surge strip? Get a nice ~$50 A/V bar that has room for transformer plugs.


    Well if you need anything more than a standard surge bar get an uninterruptable power supply. A $200 surge bar won't do anything that a $20 surge bar will.

    Quote:
    As G said, BD drives for computers just for movies are hit and miss in price. I'd use one in case BD media becomes an option for media distribution ( I can see games distributed on BD-ROMS pretty soon. )


    It's not the price of the drives, it's the price of the playback software, and the fact that the playback software is incredibly finicky with displays. Games won't be distributed on BD-Rs anytime soon. Like it or not, this is the end of physical media as we know it. Everything is moving toward cloud computing and online distribution. Even the new XBOX One is relying less on physical media and relying more on cloud computing.

    Quote:

    I heartily disagree with G on the SSD size. I've got a 128GB and it's hard for me to keep more than 50GB free ( SSD performance tends to plummet if you fill them too much. ) A 256GB gives you room to put your games on without worrying about performance. 512GB might be overkill, but I wouldn't say no to it if you had the money. Larger drives can more thoroughly saturate the BUS so they tend to have better performance too, though that difference between 256GB and 512GB drives is pretty small.


    I don't store my games on my SSD. I use mine for OS and main programs only. What you have to keep in mind is that they slow down after you load them over 80% capacity. That's why I recommend at least a 1 - 2 TB hard drive in addition to the SSD. 64GB definitely won't cut it anymore.
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    June 18, 2013 2:10:32 PM

    Some great debate here guys. Thanks, it's helping me a lot.

    So 2 x 8GB of RAM it is.

    A cheap surge bar is all I wanted, hence pricing a $15 one I the build.

    Comments noted about blu ray drives. Very interesting. I definitely want a DVD burner so may as well get a blu-ray reading one. Maybe it will come in handy once or twice. I had no serious plans to watch movies with it. It may not get used but may as well get it since there's no big cost saving not to.

    I do want to store at least the last 3 Battlefield games on SSD. I know it improves loading times well. 256Gb is the minimum I'd be comfortable with I think.

    Points taken about other drives to get. I shall consider options.

    Thanks
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    June 18, 2013 2:22:02 PM

    g-unit1111 said:
    Well if you need anything more than a standard surge bar get an uninterruptable power supply. A $200 surge bar won't do anything that a $20 surge bar will.

    Some higher end surge bars also have power conditioners in them ( not something everyone needs, but those in rural areas can benefit from them. ) I've also had el-cheapo power bars continually trip on me when drawing a heavy-ish load. I simply recommend something between this and this. NOT this.

    g-unit1111 said:
    I don't store my games on my SSD. I use mine for OS and main programs only. What you have to keep in mind is that they slow down after you load them over 80% capacity. That's why I recommend at least a 1 - 2 TB hard drive in addition to the SSD. 64GB definitely won't cut it anymore.

    I and a lot of others do store games on the SSD. No, it doesn't help in-game performance, but I love loading save games and launching maps in under 10 seconds instead of 20-30. Just personal preference. And actually the higher capacity drives are cheaper per GB. 256GB drives are around $0.75 / GB while 64GB are around $1.20 / GB or more.
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    June 18, 2013 2:23:37 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted about blu ray drives. Very interesting. I definitely want a DVD burner so may as well get a blu-ray reading one. Maybe it will come in handy once or twice. I had no serious plans to watch movies with it. It may not get used but may as well get it since there's no big cost saving not to.


    My PC is hooked up to my 42" Vizio monitor. When I try to watch movies on it, I get all kinds of errors that the display is not HDCP compliant, and search after search on Google and other tech forums has yielded nothing about how to fix this menace. I use mine more for backups than I do watching movies. And like I said - games will most likely never be released on BD-R. Even the new consoles are relying less on traditional media and more on cloud computing and online distribution.
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    June 18, 2013 9:28:22 PM

    g-unit1111 said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted about blu ray drives. Very interesting. I definitely want a DVD burner so may as well get a blu-ray reading one. Maybe it will come in handy once or twice. I had no serious plans to watch movies with it. It may not get used but may as well get it since there's no big cost saving not to.


    My PC is hooked up to my 42" Vizio monitor. When I try to watch movies on it, I get all kinds of errors that the display is not HDCP compliant, and search after search on Google and other tech forums has yielded nothing about how to fix this menace. I use mine more for backups than I do watching movies. And like I said - games will most likely never be released on BD-R. Even the new consoles are relying less on traditional media and more on cloud computing and online distribution.


    Bro, bro, bro, bro.
    Take out your GPU or set the integrated one to be used by default
    Enjoy movies!

    If your integrated one sucks and won't play a blue ray disc at a steady FPS,
    Get a VGA to HDMI box. (Any input output that suits you is OK, just make sure its a analog to digital one.)

    Use your high end GPU to watch
    ****DO NOT PLAY GAMES WITH THIS. IT CAN CAUSE A HUGE LATENCY AND FRY YOUR BOX*****
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    June 18, 2013 10:37:17 PM

    William Longstreet said:
    g-unit1111 said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted about blu ray drives. Very interesting. I definitely want a DVD burner so may as well get a blu-ray reading one. Maybe it will come in handy once or twice. I had no serious plans to watch movies with it. It may not get used but may as well get it since there's no big cost saving not to.


    My PC is hooked up to my 42" Vizio monitor. When I try to watch movies on it, I get all kinds of errors that the display is not HDCP compliant, and search after search on Google and other tech forums has yielded nothing about how to fix this menace. I use mine more for backups than I do watching movies. And like I said - games will most likely never be released on BD-R. Even the new consoles are relying less on traditional media and more on cloud computing and online distribution.


    Bro, bro, bro, bro.
    Take out your GPU or set the integrated one to be used by default
    Enjoy movies!

    If your integrated one sucks and won't play a blue ray disc at a steady FPS,
    Get a VGA to HDMI box. (Any input output that suits you is OK, just make sure its a analog to digital one.)

    Use your high end GPU to watch
    ****DO NOT PLAY GAMES WITH THIS. IT CAN CAUSE A HUGE LATENCY AND FRY YOUR BOX*****


    Really? I shall have to check this out.
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    June 19, 2013 3:17:58 AM

    RedJaron said:
    g-unit1111 said:
    Well if you need anything more than a standard surge bar get an uninterruptable power supply. A $200 surge bar won't do anything that a $20 surge bar will.

    Some higher end surge bars also have power conditioners in them ( not something everyone needs, but those in rural areas can benefit from them. ) I've also had el-cheapo power bars continually trip on me when drawing a heavy-ish load. I simply recommend something between this and this. NOT this.

    g-unit1111 said:
    I don't store my games on my SSD. I use mine for OS and main programs only. What you have to keep in mind is that they slow down after you load them over 80% capacity. That's why I recommend at least a 1 - 2 TB hard drive in addition to the SSD. 64GB definitely won't cut it anymore.

    I and a lot of others do store games on the SSD. No, it doesn't help in-game performance, but I love loading save games and launching maps in under 10 seconds instead of 20-30. Just personal preference. And actually the higher capacity drives are cheaper per GB. 256GB drives are around $0.75 / GB while 64GB are around $1.20 / GB or more.


    The map loading time is a big deal to me. At the moment on my crap laptop it can take 2 mins to load a BF3 map. A quick start into a map makes a big difference to gameplay (vehicle availability, base captures, etc) so a bigger SSD is very important to me.
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    June 19, 2013 8:01:17 AM

    I also meant to ask: is there a consensus among you experts on whether its worth getting Windows 8 for a gaming rig?

    I have Win 8 on a small laptop and don't like it. The new layout does nothing for a non-touch device.

    So....7 vs 8. What should I get?
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    June 19, 2013 9:19:30 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    I also meant to ask: is there a consensus among you experts on whether its worth getting Windows 8 for a gaming rig?

    I have Win 8 on a small laptop and don't like it. The new layout does nothing for a non-touch device.

    So....7 vs 8. What should I get?


    Don't listin to haters. Windows 8 is OK on my desktop, works better then 7 as far as hitting that pesky windows key. The tiles are nice to have and you can search things in eight by hitting win and w. Not that it takes up less ram and around 256 mb of vram.
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    June 19, 2013 9:31:00 AM

    g-unit1111 said:
    William Longstreet said:
    g-unit1111 said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted about blu ray drives. Very interesting. I definitely want a DVD burner so may as well get a blu-ray reading one. Maybe it will come in handy once or twice. I had no serious plans to watch movies with it. It may not get used but may as well get it since there's no big cost saving not to.


    My PC is hooked up to my 42" Vizio monitor. When I try to watch movies on it, I get all kinds of errors that the display is not HDCP compliant, and search after search on Google and other tech forums has yielded nothing about how to fix this menace. I use mine more for backups than I do watching movies. And like I said - games will most likely never be released on BD-R. Even the new consoles are relying less on traditional media and more on cloud computing and online distribution.


    Bro, bro, bro, bro.
    Take out your GPU or set the integrated one to be used by default
    Enjoy movies!

    If your integrated one sucks and won't play a blue ray disc at a steady FPS,
    Get a VGA to HDMI box. (Any input output that suits you is OK, just make sure its a analog to digital one.)

    Use your high end GPU to watch
    ****DO NOT PLAY GAMES WITH THIS. IT CAN CAUSE A HUGE LATENCY AND FRY YOUR BOX*****


    Really? I shall have to check this out.



    This http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0016SN49Y/ref=aw_d_img_b...

    N this http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B0032JAG4G/ref=mp_s_a_1_1...

    Will do you good. Don't buy a VGA to HDMI cable, you need a box. The second item is unnecessary if you don't want audio from your TV.
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    June 19, 2013 9:44:34 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    I also meant to ask: is there a consensus among you experts on whether its worth getting Windows 8 for a gaming rig?

    I have Win 8 on a small laptop and don't like it. The new layout does nothing for a non-touch device.

    So....7 vs 8. What should I get?

    I've been using Win8 on my work computer for months now and haven't had a problem with it ( admittedly I'm not running games at work either. ) In terms of usability, I don't have complaints. Yes, a few features and settings are moved around from where we've become used to them ( Shut Down is now under Settings? ) but overall it's a minimal learning curve for the tech-savvy. Win8 does run more efficiently than Win7 and I haven't had any problems with compatibility. If you need to buy a new OS license, I'd just go with whatever is the cheaper option.
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    June 19, 2013 10:02:43 AM

    William Longstreet said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    I also meant to ask: is there a consensus among you experts on whether its worth getting Windows 8 for a gaming rig?

    I have Win 8 on a small laptop and don't like it. The new layout does nothing for a non-touch device.

    So....7 vs 8. What should I get?


    Don't listin to haters. Windows 8 is OK on my desktop, works better then 7 as far as hitting that pesky windows key. The tiles are nice to have and you can search things in eight by hitting win and w. Not that it takes up less ram and around 256 mb of vram.


    I'm going to put it this way - I don't hate Windows 8, but at the same time I do have a lot of complaints about it. Auto update has become a complete nuisance and I'm not the biggest fan of the cell phone interface and app store. The desktop is fine.
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    June 19, 2013 10:10:05 AM

    Comments noted guys. Think I'll stick with Windows 7 for the gaming rig.

    I have updated my build spec a little bit. Changed motherboard to ASUS Deluxe...and because this has built in wi-fi and optical audio (I presume this gives 5.1 audio??) I removed the wireless and sound cards.
    Changed hard drives. Removed extra fans-I realize now that the fans that come with the case are just fine.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
    CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus Z87-DELUXE ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($289.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($187.37 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($216.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($142.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Cooler Master HAF X ATX Full Tower Case ($169.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair Professional 1050W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
    Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($55.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Total: $3083.23 (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.) (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-19 13:05 EDT-0400)
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    June 19, 2013 10:11:30 AM

    g-unit1111 said:
    William Longstreet said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    I also meant to ask: is there a consensus among you experts on whether its worth getting Windows 8 for a gaming rig?

    I have Win 8 on a small laptop and don't like it. The new layout does nothing for a non-touch device.

    So....7 vs 8. What should I get?


    Don't listin to haters. Windows 8 is OK on my desktop, works better then 7 as far as hitting that pesky windows key. The tiles are nice to have and you can search things in eight by hitting win and w. Not that it takes up less ram and around 256 mb of vram.


    I'm going to put it this way - I don't hate Windows 8, but at the same time I do have a lot of complaints about it. Auto update has become a complete nuisance and I'm not the biggest fan of the cell phone interface and app store. The desktop is fine.


    1 I never use the appstore
    2 you can still use it as a start menu, its the same thing as haveing a windows 7/vista menu just blow up to fit the screen.
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    June 19, 2013 10:23:56 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted guys. Think I'll stick with Windows 7 for the gaming rig.

    I have updated my build spec a little bit. Changed motherboard to ASUS Deluxe...and because this has built in wi-fi and optical audio (I presume this gives 5.1 audio??) I removed the wireless and sound cards.
    Changed hard drives. Removed extra fans-I realize now that the fans that come with the case are just fine.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
    CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus Z87-DELUXE ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($289.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($187.37 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($216.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($142.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Cooler Master HAF X ATX Full Tower Case ($169.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair Professional 1050W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
    Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($55.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Total: $3083.23 (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.) (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-19 13:05 EDT-0400)


    Not a bad build. Have you considered going with a platinum supply? Assuming your rig draws 800W, your silver supply will be throwing away 141 watts as waste heat. A platinum supply will only be throwing away 99 watts of heat. Have you ever seen a 40W light bulb? You cannot touch it, it gets so hot and you can feel the heat coming off it. With your budget, I'd strongly recommend one. It will keep your case and everything that much cooler, and quieter.

    Windows 8. There is Windows 8.1 coming out where I believe they take care of the "Start Button" fiasco. I'd recommend Win8 but mostly because it is faster and will be supported longer and has more safeguards against viruses etc.
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    June 19, 2013 11:11:38 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Comments noted guys. Think I'll stick with Windows 7 for the gaming rig.

    I have updated my build spec a little bit. Changed motherboard to ASUS Deluxe...and because this has built in wi-fi and optical audio (I presume this gives 5.1 audio??) I removed the wireless and sound cards.
    Changed hard drives. Removed extra fans-I realize now that the fans that come with the case are just fine.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks
    CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($279.99 @ Microcenter)
    CPU Cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus Z87-DELUXE ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($289.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: Corsair Dominator Platinum 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($187.37 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($216.99 @ NCIX US)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($142.99 @ Newegg)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card (2-Way SLI) ($659.99 @ Amazon)
    Case: Cooler Master HAF X ATX Full Tower Case ($169.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair Professional 1050W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
    Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($55.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
    Total: $3083.23 (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.) (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-06-19 13:05 EDT-0400)


    Hmm, I'd change a few things, starting with the HDDs. I just can't see the need of two 7200rpm drives if not a RAID. You said you've got a lot of media and need storage space. Fine, get a 2TB 5400 rpm drive for that and save some coin. Then use a 2TB 7200rpm drive for anything that needs speed but isn't important enough for the SSD.

    Your PSU ( and CPU ) is priced from Microcenter, so unless you can pick it up in person, you'll need a different vendor. The PSU is also way overkill in wattage and price. This one is more than enough for SLI 780s and is gold rated: FSP Aurum 750M. If you're planning on three-way, then yes, you'll need a beefier PSU.

    The HAF X is a nice case with LOTS of space inside, but I'm just not a fan of it. I'm biased to the Raven 3 ( since I have one ) and I find it more practical in cooling and noise. And with it, I'd argue you don't need a liquid cooler on your CPU. But that's strictly your call.

    Yes, your mboard has the Realtek 1150 so you should be able to to get 5.1 over the fiber optic.
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    June 19, 2013 11:42:59 AM

    Hmm...maybe Windows 8 is a better idea. The downsides aren't deal breaking, and it does seem faster. My major worry (perhaps unfounded) was that it might cause driver/compatibility issues with my hardware. If I can be reassured I'm safe there then I'd probably go for it.

    PSU- I'm definitely noting the comments on this. For what it's worth- I am actually near a Micro Center if I need them, but I'm not actually paying any attention to the specific retailers at this point. Once I've got the parts nailed down I'll look at that.
    As I mentioned in my original post- I'm still not decided whether to self-build or get pre-built (eg, from Digital Storm). With this in mind, I was trying to keep parts chosen in line with what they offer (which is a pretty big choice but not everything). As far as PSU's go they mostly only offer Corsair, and it was a pretty big jump to a Platinum one, however, I could do it. I think I'd like to stay at or above 1000W to give me room to add another card in the future if I want to.
    I know very well buying pre-built is more expensive...... any advice welcome, but I've heard enough "do it yourself, it's easy" comments ;)  I don't have the experience, knowledge, time, or will to do it myself. Especially not for a big-budget build like this.

    Hard Drives - I appreciate I'm slightly overkilling with hard drives, but as I'm not 100% certain exactly how I'll use them I thought it best to have the power on tap. I may end up doing game recording, video editing, etc and didn't want restricted to a particular drive for this function.

    Case - I did look at suggested cases, including the Raven. Personally I just preferred the look of the Coolermaster and the space it offers. However, the jury is still out, I shall consider again before I take the plunge.

    Audio- "Yes, your mboard has the Realtek 1150 so you should be able to to get 5.1 over the fiber optic." Thanks, that's what I thought. So....... just what do dedicated sound cards do, that this motherboard can't do? (if anything).
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    June 19, 2013 12:31:54 PM

    I also meant to ask:
    Hard drive: what difference does it make: 32mb vs 64mb cache? What does it do?
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    June 19, 2013 1:54:00 PM

    Quote:


    PSU- I'm definitely noting the comments on this. For what it's worth- I am actually near a Micro Center if I need them, but I'm not actually paying any attention to the specific retailers at this point. Once I've got the parts nailed down I'll look at that.
    As I mentioned in my original post- I'm still not decided whether to self-build or get pre-built (eg, from Digital Storm). With this in mind, I was trying to keep parts chosen in line with what they offer (which is a pretty big choice but not everything). As far as PSU's go they mostly only offer Corsair, and it was a pretty big jump to a Platinum one, however, I could do it. I think I'd like to stay at or above 1000W to give me room to add another card in the future if I want to.


    Get a Seasonic X1050 Gold, that would be a better purchase than a Corsair, although most higher end Corsairs are essentially rebranded Seasonic units.

    Quote:

    Hard Drives - I appreciate I'm slightly overkilling with hard drives, but as I'm not 100% certain exactly how I'll use them I thought it best to have the power on tap. I may end up doing game recording, video editing, etc and didn't want restricted to a particular drive for this function.


    You can always add more drives as you need them. That's the beauty of most modern ATX cases.

    Quote:
    Audio- "Yes, your mboard has the Realtek 1150 so you should be able to to get 5.1 over the fiber optic." Thanks, that's what I thought. So....... just what do dedicated sound cards do, that this motherboard can't do? (if anything).


    Sound cards can handle more than a 5.1 channel setup and can connect to higher quality output devices.
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    June 19, 2013 1:55:45 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Hmm...maybe Windows 8 is a better idea. The downsides aren't deal breaking, and it does seem faster. My major worry (perhaps unfounded) was that it might cause driver/compatibility issues with my hardware. If I can be reassured I'm safe there then I'd probably go for it.

    PSU- I'm definitely noting the comments on this. For what it's worth- I am actually near a Micro Center if I need them, but I'm not actually paying any attention to the specific retailers at this point. Once I've got the parts nailed down I'll look at that.
    As I mentioned in my original post- I'm still not decided whether to self-build or get pre-built (eg, from Digital Storm). With this in mind, I was trying to keep parts chosen in line with what they offer (which is a pretty big choice but not everything). As far as PSU's go they mostly only offer Corsair, and it was a pretty big jump to a Platinum one, however, I could do it. I think I'd like to stay at or above 1000W to give me room to add another card in the future if I want to.
    I know very well buying pre-built is more expensive...... any advice welcome, but I've heard enough "do it yourself, it's easy" comments ;)  I don't have the experience, knowledge, time, or will to do it myself. Especially not for a big-budget build like this.

    Hard Drives - I appreciate I'm slightly overkilling with hard drives, but as I'm not 100% certain exactly how I'll use them I thought it best to have the power on tap. I may end up doing game recording, video editing, etc and didn't want restricted to a particular drive for this function.

    Case - I did look at suggested cases, including the Raven. Personally I just preferred the look of the Coolermaster and the space it offers. However, the jury is still out, I shall consider again before I take the plunge.

    Audio- "Yes, your mboard has the Realtek 1150 so you should be able to to get 5.1 over the fiber optic." Thanks, that's what I thought. So....... just what do dedicated sound cards do, that this motherboard can't do? (if anything).

    You're using new and current hardware, meaning driver support won't be an issue at all. If you can get Win8 cheaper than Win7, I'd go that route.

    A few boutique dealers kinda make it worth the price premium to buy their systems. I've shopped at some that offer full system warranties with no-questions-asked lifetime support. You crash your drive, they'll fix it for free. If something breaks, they'll either repair it for free or give you trade-in value toward an upgraded replacement part. For some people, that kind of service is great and worth it. However, any shop assembling this high-end of a system will mark-up the parts quite a bit. Even then, they may not have the part selection you're looking for. Assembling them yourself isn't that hard to do so long as you take some care and don't resort to brute force at any point.

    Hard drives, I think a lot of people overestimate their storage needs. Unless you're storing a LOT of uncompressed media, raw video footage, or hi-res Photoshop projects, I just don't see how you will fill a 2TB storage drive. Likewise, unless you keep every game over the last five years installed, you won't fill up a 2TB application drive either. Maybe I'm in the minority, but my entire music library is 30GB at most, and that's stored at 256 bit-rate ( I can barely hear the difference between 192 and 256 but can't tell between 256 and higher. I think FLAC and lossless codecs are extremely overrated since you'd need studio equipment and ears like a dog to hear the difference. ) And I don't have more than 10 games installed at once ( a max of 200GB assuming a 20GB / game, though most come in under 10GB. ) I've used my current storage for two years ( 128GB SSD, 250GB 7200rpm, 2TB 5400 rpm, ) my application drive is under 50% utilization and my storage drive isn't even 30% full. My only complaint is I wish I had a bigger SSD, something you won't have a problem with. Worst case, down the road you get an external storage drive over eSATA or USB 3.0 for your data files. I REALLY think you'll have a hard time filling a 2TB application drive.

    Yes, there's no accounting for taste between cases and what each person finds good looking. If you don't like the look of the Raven, SilverStone makes the more expensive Fortress 2 that operates nearly the same ( you lose the eight card slot though. ) Tom's also ran the HAF against the Raven, if you want to compare them directly.

    Add-on audio cards were much more impressive when mboards had much weaker audio processors. Years ago if you wanted environmental effects, virtual surround, etc, you had to get a nice aftermarket card. Now the on-board processors are much more capable. Yeah, a SoundBlaster has superior audio quality and processing to on-board audio, but like lossless digital media, you've got to have sharp ears and really nice speakers to hear and appreciate that difference. A few games do have extra coding to take advantage of some aftermarket cards, so those will have better audio processing and sound effects. But by and large the on-board audio is more than sufficient for most games and even Blu-ray viewing.
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    June 19, 2013 6:52:45 PM

    Thanks again guys for some detailed comments and advice.

    I'm taking it all on board. Short reply right now as I'm out and using my phone.

    Hard drives- I could fill up 2TB right off the bat I think. I do a lot of photo editing with high res files, tons of music and movies, home videos etc. So my thinking was get 4TB to start with.
    Right now I have files scattered over laptops, external HDs, and optical storage. It would be nice to bring it all together on one HD. I'm pretty sure I'm not wildly overestimating my needs. Tell me, how hard is it to put an extra HD in the case? Just screw it into the tray, connect power, connect data cable, and its good to go?

    Ill have to look into the sound card debate. The minimum acceptable to me is have optical feeding into my Astro mixamp/headset. It looks as though the ASUS Z87 Deluxe motherboard can do this.

    The pendulum is swinging back towards Windows 8.

    Case- I'm going to have a thorough look over that review and some other reviews and see where I end up

    Buying prebuilt- it sure is more expensive. What would be a $3500 self build would be about $4100 prebuilt. That said, it almost seems worth it to me. Once I've ran this beast rig for a while I shall learn, and upgrade it myself. Then next full build down the road i may do myself.
    Next year we may build my wife a budget gaming rig- I'd be happier trying my building skills on a $1000 dollar rig than I would on a $4000 one.
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    June 19, 2013 7:18:46 PM

    Storage: To answer your question, yes, it is just that easy to add a drive. Open the case, connect the power and data cables, lock it in the bay, close the case. But if you've seriously got that much data, then just get a second 2TB 5400rpm drive right now. You don't see any performance increase using speedy drives for storage files unless you're constantly loading or moving data in the hundreds of MB. A 5400 drive also runs cooler, quieter, and on less power than 7200 drives in addition to costing quite a bit less. You can also use an external storage drive if need be. Get one with USB 3.0 or eSATA and it will function just as fast as your internal drives.

    You also asked on cache size impact. The answer now is "not much." When files tended to be much smaller, often read files could be cached and read at much faster speeds than getting them off the platters every time. But as file size has ballooned and drive read speeds increased, larger caches haven't really helped much. You're fine with a 32MB cache ( even some 16MB drives aren't bad. ) If you can get a 64MB drive cache for cheap, fine, but I wouldn't pay extra for one.

    Sound card: Yes, the on-board audio has a fiber optic output so you'll be fine. The ALC1150 even has DTS codec support ( I believe. )

    Pre-built: If you're willing to spend the extra $600 on a pre-built system, stop. There are plenty of good tutorials online that go into great detail on how to assemble a computer. Read those first. Then you can put that $600 toward your wife's computer.
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    June 20, 2013 12:08:52 AM

    RedJaron said:
    Storage: To answer your question, yes, it is just that easy to add a drive. Open the case, connect the power and data cables, lock it in the bay, close the case. But if you've seriously got that much data, then just get a second 2TB 5400rpm drive right now. You don't see any performance increase using speedy drives for storage files unless you're constantly loading or moving data in the hundreds of MB. A 5400 drive also runs cooler, quieter, and on less power than 7200 drives in addition to costing quite a bit less. You can also use an external storage drive if need be. Get one with USB 3.0 or eSATA and it will function just as fast as your internal drives.

    You also asked on cache size impact. The answer now is "not much." When files tended to be much smaller, often read files could be cached and read at much faster speeds than getting them off the platters every time. But as file size has ballooned and drive read speeds increased, larger caches haven't really helped much. You're fine with a 32MB cache ( even some 16MB drives aren't bad. ) If you can get a 64MB drive cache for cheap, fine, but I wouldn't pay extra for one.

    Sound card: Yes, the on-board audio has a fiber optic output so you'll be fine. The ALC1150 even has DTS codec support ( I believe. )

    Pre-built: If you're willing to spend the extra $600 on a pre-built system, stop. There are plenty of good tutorials online that go into great detail on how to assemble a computer. Read those first. Then you can put that $600 toward your wife's computer.


    if he is SET on a prebuilt, he should get a Falcon Northwest, much better then a AW.

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    June 20, 2013 6:25:28 AM

    William Longstreet said:
    if he is SET on a prebuilt, he should get a Falcon Northwest, much better then a AW.

    I'd never use Alien Ware.
    Just checked out Falcon Northwest. They look good but are more expensive than Digital Storm and offer much more limited customization options.

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    June 20, 2013 6:30:40 AM

    RedJaron said:

    Sound card: Yes, the on-board audio has a fiber optic output so you'll be fine. The ALC1150 even has DTS codec support ( I believe. )

    Pre-built: If you're willing to spend the extra $600 on a pre-built system, stop. There are plenty of good tutorials online that go into great detail on how to assemble a computer. Read those first. Then you can put that $600 toward your wife's computer.


    Yep I know, and I can assure you it is tempting to do it myself, however I don't have much time and can do without the hassle of ordering all the parts, watching tutorials and then attempting it all myself. And with overclocking, setting up SLI, CPU cooling, etc, not to mention cable management and all the rest.... I'd just be more comfortable leaving it to the experts. It's worth $500-600 to me to just not worry and simply press the On button when my machine arrives..... but from that point on I shall incrementally increase my knowledge through use and upgrading, with the hope of a year or two down the road being happy to self-build.
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    June 20, 2013 12:25:46 PM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    RedJaron said:

    Sound card: Yes, the on-board audio has a fiber optic output so you'll be fine. The ALC1150 even has DTS codec support ( I believe. )

    Pre-built: If you're willing to spend the extra $600 on a pre-built system, stop. There are plenty of good tutorials online that go into great detail on how to assemble a computer. Read those first. Then you can put that $600 toward your wife's computer.


    Yep I know, and I can assure you it is tempting to do it myself, however I don't have much time and can do without the hassle of ordering all the parts, watching tutorials and then attempting it all myself. And with overclocking, setting up SLI, CPU cooling, etc, not to mention cable management and all the rest.... I'd just be more comfortable leaving it to the experts. It's worth $500-600 to me to just not worry and simply press the On button when my machine arrives..... but from that point on I shall incrementally increase my knowledge through use and upgrading, with the hope of a year or two down the road being happy to self-build.


    Good thing you posted this on toms hardware. Build it yourself, I finished my most recent one last night. Took me >3 hours. If you need help, just Skype someone. If you got a good case, I use a crosair carbide seres, very nice management. Sli is so easy to set up, install one GPU, power on system, installs DVD drivers. Power off. Push in 2end GPU, attach ski cable that came with your mono. Attach second pci-e power cable. Power one and click on the use ski thing in nvidia crtl panel. Its REALY not that hard. Everything is clearly labeled on the cables and hopefully on your mobo's booklet. I can't tell you how fun it is to build one. If you feel you are stuck anywhere, look in your manuals. If you really need help you can always do a video call with someone like me ;) . If you still want a prwbuilt get a falcon northwest tiki or a bigger one or a cyber power PC. And its 600+ shipping 40 pounds.
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    June 21, 2013 3:28:57 AM

    It's tempting, William. Very tempting. I'm looking to get the new PC in a couple of months.. So i have some time to think about if I want to attempt it myself..... It could happen ;) 
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    June 21, 2013 3:38:15 AM

    For aio-watercool kit, get swiftec h220

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    June 21, 2013 4:04:55 AM

    What's the difference between the Swiftec H220 and the Corsair H100i?

    On a quick look they look the same to my untrained eye. Corsair seems to have a higher top speed and airflow. But not sure how relevant that is.
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    June 21, 2013 6:34:10 AM

    H220 has a stronger pump, you can expand it to the gpus, change loops ect.
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    June 21, 2013 9:20:30 AM

    Marcopolo123 said:
    H220 has a stronger pump, you can expand it to the gpus, change loops ect.


    cooler master: high power, single part.
    Swiftrc: less oower, more serviceable Components. With sli cards you will want this one.

    If your getting two cards get 3 avoid stutter and lag spikes. Go for a MSI z87 gd65
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    June 21, 2013 9:38:47 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Get 3 video cards instead of 2 ??????


    With AMD cards, microstuttering occurs when running dual crossfire, but mysteriously runs perfectly fine in triple crossfire.
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    June 21, 2013 9:39:16 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Hmm...maybe Windows 8 is a better idea. The downsides aren't deal breaking, and it does seem faster. My major worry (perhaps unfounded) was that it might cause driver/compatibility issues with my hardware. If I can be reassured I'm safe there then I'd probably go for it.

    PSU- I'm definitely noting the comments on this. For what it's worth- I am actually near a Micro Center if I need them, but I'm not actually paying any attention to the specific retailers at this point. Once I've got the parts nailed down I'll look at that.
    As I mentioned in my original post- I'm still not decided whether to self-build or get pre-built (eg, from Digital Storm). With this in mind, I was trying to keep parts chosen in line with what they offer (which is a pretty big choice but not everything). As far as PSU's go they mostly only offer Corsair, and it was a pretty big jump to a Platinum one, however, I could do it. I think I'd like to stay at or above 1000W to give me room to add another card in the future if I want to.
    I know very well buying pre-built is more expensive...... any advice welcome, but I've heard enough "do it yourself, it's easy" comments ;)  I don't have the experience, knowledge, time, or will to do it myself. Especially not for a big-budget build like this.

    Hard Drives - I appreciate I'm slightly overkilling with hard drives, but as I'm not 100% certain exactly how I'll use them I thought it best to have the power on tap. I may end up doing game recording, video editing, etc and didn't want restricted to a particular drive for this function.

    Case - I did look at suggested cases, including the Raven. Personally I just preferred the look of the Coolermaster and the space it offers. However, the jury is still out, I shall consider again before I take the plunge.

    Audio- "Yes, your mboard has the Realtek 1150 so you should be able to to get 5.1 over the fiber optic." Thanks, that's what I thought. So....... just what do dedicated sound cards do, that this motherboard can't do? (if anything).

    Get a MSI z87-gd65 or mpower mobo. They have optic for 5.1 channel. They don't have that stupid thermal "armor" (it holds heat on your mobo parts).
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    June 21, 2013 9:42:46 AM

    expl0itfinder said:
    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Get 3 video cards instead of 2 ??????


    With AMD cards, microstuttering occurs when running dual crossfire, but mysteriously runs perfectly fine in triple crossfire.


    Sli has the same issue. Way reduced though. In some.games micro stutter comes back into play, and can ruin the game for you. Flase positive heat spikes can occurred in 2way sli, and will happen in cross fire. Get 3 GPUs. Get another ski cable if they don't come packaged
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    June 21, 2013 9:45:11 AM

    Guys, it's somewhere in this expanding thread but i'll remind you:
    I've already change the mobo from the thernal armor crap to an ASUS Z87-Deluxe - this has optical out (for 5.1 channel). So the question now could be: MSI GD65 vs ASUS DELUXE.

    The cards I'm getting are 2 x EVGA GTX 780 Superclocked.
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    June 21, 2013 10:01:28 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Guys, it's somewhere in this expanding thread but i'll remind you:
    I've already change the mobo from the thernal armor crap to an ASUS Z87-Deluxe - this has optical out (for 5.1 channel). So the question now could be: MSI GD65 vs ASUS DELUXE.

    The cards I'm getting are 2 x EVGA GTX 780 Superclocked.


    The gd65 wins. Has click bios and awesome oc capabilities. because you don't need a ton of ram (most game engins use 4-6) save money with the MSI.
    Other then that it the MSI has no wireless but the Ethernet is very good, it redirects game data to the game and then everything else to well.... Everything elsewhere.
    If you can only get two GPUs I say.get the water cooler. Over kill is a liiquid nitro one.
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    June 21, 2013 10:26:31 AM

    Thanks for the info. I shall look into the MSI. It may be a better option considering:

    1. I was told today that for gaming I'm much better connecting via Ethernet instead of wireless. Is that right? And is a 15ft ethernet too long? (is shorter cable better?)
    2. I thought the Asus Deluxe mobo having an optical out would be all I needed to power surround sound in my Astro Mixamp (connected to Astro A40 headset)but that's now questionable. I think I do need a dedicated sound card with Dolby Digital Live on it. Agree? (see this thread if you want more on that specific debate http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1710173/sound-ca...)
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    June 21, 2013 11:54:31 AM

    ScottishBattleAxe said:
    Thanks for the info. I shall look into the MSI. It may be a better option considering:

    1. I was told today that for gaming I'm much better connecting via Ethernet instead of wireless. Is that right? And is a 15ft ethernet too long? (is shorter cable better?)
    2. I thought the Asus Deluxe mobo having an optical out would be all I needed to power surround sound in my Astro Mixamp (connected to Astro A40 headset)but that's now questionable. I think I do need a dedicated sound card with Dolby Digital Live on it. Agree? (see this thread if you want more on that specific debate http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1710173/sound-ca...)

    Yes, wired connection is preferable to wireless. Wireless is getting better, but it can still go up and down, suffer interference, etc. The CAT5e cable standard allows for cables up to 100m without loss of signal. Get whatever length you need, it won't impact network performance.

    However, if your computer is far away from your router/modem and you don't want cables dragged all across your house, you can look at other methods. I use two wireless access points to make a wireless tunnel from my router to my office where my computer and PS3 are ( 8-port switch is on the office side. ) It works well enough for me, though I'm sure some purists would complain non-stop about it. You can also look at some products that transmit network signals across the power lines in your house. I've never used them so I can't say how well/bad they work.

    As for dual vs triple GPUS, personally I don't go higher than one. Yes, nVidia right now has better multi-card support and performance. AMD has improved their Crossfire drivers, but it still isn't as smooth as SLI. That being said, multi-card setups have limitations.

    First, you're using twice the power and heat for about 50% - 70% performance increase. That means you need to pay extra for a beefier PSU and need a case with plenty of airflow ( usually meaning more noise. ) If you're gaming across multiple displays, you need that extra performance regardless what you have to pay to get it. But on single displays, a single high-end card will be more than sufficient ( only extremely hi-res displays like 2560x1440 begin to tax these cards. )

    Second, not all games support SLI and/or Crossfire, or that support is spotty. Sometimes, using the second card causes problems with the game because the drivers aren't fully cooked yet. Sometimes the game just ignores the second card so your money spent on the second card is going to waste.

    Now these are kinda worst-case scenarios, but they're things that I just don't want to deal with. Yes, I'm biased and I may recommend a single high-end card, but dual-GPUs is not a "bad" way to go if that's what you decide. If it was me, I'd put the money from the second GPU into a nice 27" hi-res monitor instead. And instead of dual 780s, I'd just get dual 770s.

    I'll repeat again, you don't need a secondary sound card. Your MixAmp will connect to your mboard over fiber optic. The on-board audio will send whatever digital signal to the MixAmp ( most likely Dolby Digital 5.1, though older or simple games will likely be Dolby Pro Logic. ) The MixAmp will take that signal and emulate a virtual surround effect to your stereo headset. Worst case, try it out first. You can always add in a Sound Blaster later if you decide the audio isn't as good as you want. Just be ready to accept that the audio limitations may be your headphones and not the sound card.

    Now, to everyone telling him to liquid cool, just stop it. He's already said he's uncomfortable with the idea of building a basic system on his own. Now you're suggesting the extra complexity of water coolers? No. Don't do it, it's not worth the time and money most of the time.
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    June 21, 2013 1:01:38 PM

    Okay, I can definitely set up a wired connection. The router is only about 15 feet across the room and I don't mind hooking up the cable when I want connected.
    With this in mind, the ASUS Z87-Deluxe motherboards onboard wifi is no longer an important feature for me. William mentioned I should consider the MSI Z87-GD65 motherboard and on a quick look it does look like a good option for gaming (things like dedicated ports for mouse, and network traffic priority for gaming). I haven't done a thorough comparison yet, but if anyone has opinions on either of the boards I'd be glad to hear them.
    MSI Z87-GD65 GAMING http://us.msi.com/product/mb/Z87-GD65-GAMING.html
    ASUS Z87-DELUXE https://www.asus.com/Motherboards/Z87DELUXE/

    Multi GPU's - thanks for the comments. My case is huge and should have powerful airflow. I will also have a (more than enough) 1200W Platinum PSU to power multiple cards. I appreciate that 2 x 780 SLI is overkill for 1 display (although it IS needed to get 120FPS even on 1 display) I want to retain the option for multi-monitor gaming in the future. 95% of my gaming will be on Battlefield which I know supports SLI well.

    Audio - what you say is how I understood it.... until I got all confused again today. I was on other forums, but here's one thread on here I started ( http://www.tomshardware.com/answers/id-1710173/sound-ca... ). I was led to believe that just because a motherboard has optical out does not necessarily mean that it's transmitting Dolby Digital or any type of 6 channel audio through that port- it could be transmitting some other codec (??). I don't know exactly what the Astro mixamp needs fed in vs what it sends to headphones. The mixamp claims to (however it does it) emulate 7.1. I also read somewhere that practically no motherboard will transmit Dolby sound, and if they did they would specifically state it (as well as paying a licence to offer it!). Therefore I was led to believe I would be better off with a sound card that specifically stated it produces Dolby Digital Live, etc.

    Thanks again to all for the advice, I do appreciate it.
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