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First computer build, looking for help and advice

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July 18, 2013 2:23:13 PM

I am looking for advice and suggestions on building my first computer (a desktop).
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Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: I plan to purchase everything within the next month or so (probably around beginning of August as I think there may be a tax free weekend where I live at that time).

Budget Range: Budget is about $1000, right now am a bit over with the parts I have so I would be welcome to any suggestions for alternative/cheaper parts. No need to worry about shipping as long as I get stuff from Amazon. Willing to go to $1100 but not much higher.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming would probably be most important, followed by schoolwork and streaming/ general internet usage. Video editing also happens, but I don’t do it often.

Are you buying a monitor: No
Parts to Upgrade: All of them/New build
Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon is preferred as I get free 2 day shipping from them, but if I can get a significantly lower deal somewhere else I don’t mind.

Location: Massachusetts, America

Parts Preferences: Nothing that I prefer in particular, just stuff I’ve heard of before like Intel, MSI, etc. Already found most of the parts I think I will want, and also already have a Mouse/Keyboard/Monitor

Overclocking: Not right at the start but I might want to experiment later, so I chose a processor to reflect that.
SLI or Crossfire: SLI, not right at the start but I may want to later so I chose a capable motherboard

Your Monitor Resolution: I can’t get to it right now but I believe its somewhere in the 1280x1024 range. It’s definitely bigger than a 15 in laptop screen, but not all that huge.

Additional Comments:
Since I will be living in a college dorm with a roommate it should not be super loud...but at the same time it’s a college dorm so it does not have to be dead quiet (and I can always turn it off a night if I have to). I think I might like a window case just so I can look inside the computer without opening it up, but it’s not a huge issue. I do recognize that having a window may mitigate any sound dampening qualities of a case somewhat.
As far as software I want it to be able to play games like Skyrim and Fallout 3, although other than that much of my game collection contains much more dated games like Oblivion and old Star Wars games. Skyrim is probably the most demanding thing I will be doing with this computer at the moment, but I want potential for more demanding as necessary. As far as online games go, SWTOR is probably the most demanding one I would play. For software, aside from MS Office, I would probably be using Photoshop and Premiere Elements (but it’s an old version, at least like 5 years old).
One big thing that I had in mind with this build is I don’t really want to be removing big and critical parts such as the motherboard, case, cpu, and PSU (although its less of an issue with Modular I suppose) if/when they become too dated to perform what I need. That’s why I picked stuff that could Overclock (as long as I get adequate cooling) and SLI if I decide I want to do so. At the same time, I recognize that I am going with last year’s processor in the parts that I listed, but from what I was reading Haswell did not seem to bring much more than Ivy Bridge for desktops aside from its larger price tag (although I would be welcome to differing opinions). I recognize that the older CPU socket will not allow me to upgrade to future processors when the time comes, but I doubt I will go through the hassle of a CPU upgrade just for the latest tech. From what I have read the older Sandy and Ivy are still competitive, just slightly dated.
I also hope to be using this computer for the next 3-5 years for the abovementioned tasks. Keep in mind that in terms of games a lot of the stuff I play is older and doesn’t need very good hardware, but some of the stuff I want to still needs decent hardware.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: There are some games that I know my current laptop cannot handle well. And it would probably boost the life of the laptop a bit if I was not using it for all my hardware-heavy tasks like games.

Include a list of any parts you have already selected with descriptively labeled links for parts:
**note that rebates listed here I have heard are a pain to actually get, so I’m not factoring this in to the grand price total, all came from Amazon

MSI Z77a-GD65 Gaming Motherboard
Price: $175 (option for 10$ rebate post-purchase)

Intel Core i5-3570K Quad-Core Processor 3.4 GHz
Price: $210

Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - CPU Cooler
Price: about $35-ish

Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600 MHz (no big heatsinks model)
Price: about $70

MSI NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB
Price: $215 (option for 10$ rebate post-purchase)

WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache
Price: about $65 (I probably would have wanted the black, but it seemed like too much money for not such a boost a performance and I have heard of noise issues..plus I plan to get an SSD as soon as I can afford and will likely boot up from there)

Sony Optiarc High Speed SATA DVD RW Burner Drive

Fractal Design Define R4 Cases
Price: about $90 (as I said I prefer window, fortunately with vs w/out is same price)

Finally, the PSU. I don’t really know very much about what I need here, other than that you definitely don’t want to skimp on it. While I might not initially do so, I want a PSU that can handle CPU overclocking, but not necessarily for anything crazy high, just a modest overclock (and I admit that I will do a lot more research into how it works before even attempting it). At the same time I also want the potential to do an SLI with 2 graphic cards. I might also decide to add a cheap sound card and/or wireless card into the open PCI slots at some point (although definitely not a priority, and certainly not for a while).
Putting all that into a PSU calculator I found online, accounting for 1 HDD, 1 SSD, all the above listed parts including SLI and modest basic overclock, and more PCI cards and USB devices than I figure I will every have hooked up, and calculating power needed when the hardware is pushed to max capacity, I got around 580 W. (Although it’s very possible I did not use the calculator correctly, so just assume a slightly overclocked CPU, SLI GPU system is the type of thing I’m looking at, with the parts listed above as what I plan to put in there)
With that in mind would a 750 W power supply be enough or should I get bigger? Below are 2 Corsair 750W Corsair PSU I found.

Corsair Professional Series HX 750 Watt ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Gold
Price: $120

Corsair Professional Series AX 750 Watt ATX/EPS Modular 80 PLUS Gold
Price: $150

Obviously I would want the cheaper PSU for financial reasons. But I’m not entirely sure what the difference between HX and AX models are, aside from that 1 of the HX cables are not modular. Is there any real quality difference? Does anyone have a suggestion of AX vs HX or will I be just fine with either one (will go HX if there is no appreciable difference).

And a copy of Windows OEM (both 7 and 8 are same price, will decide which one later): $90

Assuming ordering from Amazon, I would get free 2 day shipping. And because I think my state gets a tax free weekend in August, I plan to order parts during then and hopefully avoid an extra $50 or so in tax
Grand Parts Price Total (approximate, prices often vary):
With HX PSU: $1100
With AX PSU: $1130
*I planned to also get some IC Diamond 7 as thermal compound for the CPU, if anyone has any suggestions for or against this feel free to give advice.
**I also don’t know very much about cooling options (aside from that I need it). Could advice be given on just what cooling options I need, in particular for what I need right now(meaning no SLI or CPU overclock as of yet), aside from the CPU cooler I’m buying and any case fans that come with the Fractal R4 case (I assume it comes with about 2)?

Thank you for those that bothered to read through this rather long-winded build post. Please respond with any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas for improvements. In particular anything that can reduce my total cost, such as special sales, part combo deals, and such things. Also, any good online guides for how to assemble everything properly and generic tips/advice/knowledge would also be appreciated.

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July 18, 2013 2:26:18 PM
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July 18, 2013 3:31:05 PM
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July 18, 2013 3:48:52 PM

Why are you going for the nvidia 600 serie and not the new 700 ? It will increase your gpu perfomance.
For the psu i thought the ax is made by seasonic and the hx by another OEM. My personal prefferences go to seasonic but i don't know it's worth that extra 30$. With the cooling options just make sure there are more fans blowing air in then out. This will stop dust coming into your case.
Hope it helped gr neus
Ps your motherboard is pretty high end. Do you really want that expensive board?
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July 18, 2013 7:01:45 PM

I went with 600 series it did everything I wanted and was cheaper, and I figured that of all the parts I may need to upgrade in the future that would likely be an easier one.

Regarding the motherboard.. I think I found it from a suggestion in another build and after looking into it decided that it had what I wanted and liked. I would like a quality motherboard that does what I want it to and will not have to be upgraded for a while due to any possible issues it may have, but i am not necessarily dead-set on the MSI I picked out. I just felt it would be best not to skimp on the thing that binds the entire computer together. Do you have another board to suggest that might be a better value?
- Edit: I found MSI's G45 version of this board, which is basically the same thing but with only 2 PCI 3.0 slots instead of 3 (I can't imagine needing the 3rd for anything that the lower ranked slots couldn't handle) and with less SATA 3 connections (but aside from the 2 hard drives I plan to have, I won't have need for more I don't think), and all for around $30-40 cheaper (price fluctuates). Assuming there are no serious issues with it I might just go with that.

*You are right about the AX being Seasonic. It seems the HX unit I am look for is made by Channel Well. After looking a bit more than that, it seems like they have a decent reputation as well, especially since they teamed with Corsair for the PSU, just not as well known as Seasonic
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July 19, 2013 2:09:43 AM

I can understand your choice in gpu.
-that msi g45 is a great board for your system. It's still the quality you are searching for but cheaper because it don't have that extra pci. I will go with that mothetboard.
- it's your choice which psu you want. The HX model is as good as the AX model not much different. But the AX is the top series of crosair and for that extra 30 $ i would go with the AX. It's a very hard choice! More people are asking question about these products( on forums) so it's up to you.
I think you got a great build so far. Maybe you can save 15 $ in the dvd player i've seen cheaper which performe the same.
Hope i helped so far ! More questions are welcome
Gr neus
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