Looking for advice on first build before buying

The following will be a fairly detailed account of my abilities, limitations, and goals concerning PC's, particular the one in question I seek to build. (link and build at bottom) I would greatly appreciate some skillful individuals taking the time to assess this situation and share their guidance with me. <3

So, to begin with; I've been saving up for the past year since my last computer, a custom assembled rig from EcollegePC, suffered a critical failure. I tested the power supply first and it was dead, so I replaced it and it still did not work. I got a new motherboard and it still didn't work, so I tested the old motherboard with the help of a friends computer, and it was dead too, along with the cpu... I am still not quite sure what happened to it but... Yeah... I did have extremely high temps at one point when the cpu fan died, which I replaced on two occasions with stock replacements... Maybe it was power surged or something?

Some of the main concerns regarding my new rig:

1) Good ventilation and Dust filters. Also I read up on Silverstone's(tm) "positive air pressure" theory for case ventilation and it seemed to make sense to me... Is that a worthwhile concern when building my computer? Should I ensure positive air pressure in the chasis? If so, what is the easiest and most reliable way for a new builder to achieve that? (aside from buying silverstones cases, as I'm not convinced they have the other things I'm looking for.)...

2) Regarding the i7 line of intel cpu's... Is an aftermarket cooler necessary/recommended? I want it to be effective, quiet, and reliable, but overclocking won't be a concern for a while, if ever... Is the stock cooler adequate? Or should I invest in a cooler such as the 212 evo or other high rated aftermarket cooling?

3) I have read extensive amounts of reviews and forum comments from various sites, including this one, Yet, I am still torn on certain things.... At first I was torn between lga 1150, 1155, and 2011... I eventually decided on the 1150 socket.... Then it was between stock, aftermarket air, or water cooling... This one got me for quite a while, as I'm paranoid of durability issues, but I eventually was persuaded into trusting the stock cooler to do as it was intended.... Then I breezed through choosing ram, stumbled a bit on hard drives, am STILL half snagged on the choice of case. fairly wary of my choice of PSU, and undecided on the gpu still. Additionally, the old questions seem to call from their graves and I can't help bu find myself double checking the other socket types and processors for socket types....

4) CPU wise, I have become fairly certain on my choice of the i7 4770k... I started with passmark benchmarks as a starting point, then read extensively on the socket types, various features on the mobos, intels site for all the claims of the new cpu lines, and really just a lot of googling lol. Still, reviews, feedback, 2nd opinions, etc... All very welcome.

5) GPU wise I have pretty much limited it down to either the GTX 760, 770, or 780... What exactly can I expect realistically over the next few years with each of those? Would a 780 be tremendous overkill? Just enough to future proof? Inadequate for the top of the line maxed settings?... Would the 760 or 770 fall short and lead to disappointing quality in the newer games?

6) PSU wise, should I shell out for platinum rank? Or is gold enough?... What are the best and most trustworthy brands? And just how much power is enough? (I might plug in some cyborg gaming lights or crap like that too, how much do peripherals like that or others drain?

7) Overall, I want a PC that I can heavily customize with things like Stardocks suite, rainmeter, lots of custom plugins and etc, games, photoshop, screen recording, video editing, encoding, etc... I won't be using extremely intensive professional quality stuff or anything, just some basic stuff with intermediate level tools and options. In addition to that, alternative or virtual desktops are pretty likely, and I would also like to be able to try out a few mmo's, poorly optimized alphas, high end games/settings, etc without any heating or performance issues.

8) Under no circumstances do I want my GPU to ever overheat during gaming or anything else for that matter... What's the best way to make that happen with a stock clocked high end card such as the GTX 770 or 780? Good case airflow? Is that enough? Also, please define "good" airflow... Is there much of a difference between case fan types and etc? Do I need a ridiculous amount of them? What's a good number for what it sounds like I'll be doing?

Lastly, I picked up a companion laptop to go with my new PC, and it's in the mail now. This is what I ended up ordering:;jsessionid=78CF09BCF12BB5B60EF98BA79A52615F.bbolsp-app01-152?id=1219089114771&skuId=3215015&st=3215015&cp=1&lp=1

I'm curious what feedback you may have on it.... Should I get a cooling pad for it? Will heating be an issue? What kind of programs and tasking can I reasonably expect from this thing over longer periods of use? What should I stay away from to avoid overheating it or hitting performance bumps? Is it fit for any level of gaming?

Anyway, beyond that, here is the build itself:

Thanks again in advance for any help with this, it's a big decision for me... :x
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  1. It's a basic laptop,no need for external cooling.
    You have thoroughly equipped your rig to overclock,except you won't? I'd get the aftermarket cooler for peace of mind from lower temps,and that rare rare instance somewhere in the future where you decide to do it.
    Case is a personal choice ,pick one you like,or else you'll hate it was someone else's choice with "bad taste"
    For GPU temps you just get better cooling than stock,the card you buy depends mostly on budget and brand preference,in your case NVIDIA.
    So here you go,fixed choices.
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($339.99 @ Newegg)
    CPU Cooler: Xigmatek Dark Knight II SD1283 Night Hawk Edition 89.5 CFM CPU Cooler ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Hero ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($180.00 @ Amazon)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($159.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($154.95 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($87.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($86.47 @ OutletPC)
    Video Card: Zotac GeForce GTX 780 3GB Video Card ($491.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    Wireless Network Adapter: Asus PCE-N15 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($27.98 @ Best Buy)
    Case: Cooler Master Storm Stryker (White) ATX Full Tower Case ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
    Power Supply: Rosewill Capstone 650W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply ($99.64 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit) ($107.61 @ NCIX US)
    Monitor: Asus VX238H 23.0" Monitor ($167.58 @ Newegg)
    Keyboard: Genius Manticore Wired Gaming Keyboard ($72.39 @ OutletPC)
    Mouse: Verbatim 97473 Wireless Optical Mouse ($14.69 @ Amazon)
    Speakers: Logitech Z506 155W 5.1ch Speakers ($74.99 @ B&H)
    Total: $2276.21
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-02-07 05:05 EST-0500)
  2. Thank you very much, I know I type way too much and am probably overly paranoid about certain things, but talking with experienced people has always done wonders for me in the past, and I do greatly appreciate you sharing your knowledge(The more the merrier :) ... That being said, here's a few more questions:

    1) The overclocking thing will be down the road for sure, assuming the PC doesn't die early. My plan is to coast on it's stock settings for as long as possible, probably to ride out the warranties and such... Then down the road, 5 years perhaps, when it's performance starts to suffer, I was planning on giving it some cheap upgrades based on tomorrows tech and overclocking it to it's reasonable limit. So, with that in mind, do you still recommend the after market cooler? Is my plan flawed to begin with? Would a non-overclock ready rig be better suited for me? Or would it only limit the potential for a pittance of savings? It's not that I don't want to spend the extra money, I'm happy to spend what's needed to make the thing work well rather than skimp and suffer later on. That happened to me once and I don't wanna repeat that mistake. I'm just wondering if perhaps the guys who made the cpu itself, might be the ones to trust with it's cooler at least for stock settings? Or do the other guys simply do it better than intel hands down? Because from what you say, as well as what I've read elsewhere, it seems like the after market ones work better than the stock ones... I guess I had kinda thought the guys who made the cpu would have known best but apparently not, eh? lol... Is the cooler you selected both cool and quiet? Do you have any experience with it? I'll admit the cpu cooler is probably the one part I am most paranoid of, as I've had 3 failures in the past, from both stock and aftermarket coolers.

    2) Gpu wise, I see you picked out a gtx 780, so I take it you think that's the way to go?... But I've never heard of that brand... Is it a good idea to stick with the big name brands instead? I was kind of under the impression that evga and gigabyte were among the leaders, with msi and asus being close behind... Personally, I kind of like asus, I'm not sure why... Maybe because I originally switched from a pentium III hp pavillion prebuilt from way way back, to my last rig which was an asus based one mostly... I really liked all the features they added, so I was curious, how are the features of brands vs each other with gpu's? Cooling, silence, warranties, software, etc. Or is it really not that big a deal? Maybe I'm just a little paranoid after reading one to many one star reviews?

    3) And again, would you say the power supply is good at 650w? And are platinum certified psu's worth investing in? It's one of the parts I skimped on in my last build and I regret it. Live and learn though, so no more stock garbage psu's for me! lol.

    4) I agree with your point on the choice of case, but more so than shape or look, I'm concerned with air flow, features, dust filters, usb 3.0 front ports, stuff like that... Lights, color, design, all take a back seat. I do love customizing and all, but with the case I stick to function over form, as I can always just put a sticker or two on it down the road. I will admit that I'm hesitant about oddly shaped, gimmick based things like weird, rare, unusual built in fans, fins that eat dust into the rig, you know, those poorly made design choices that sacrifice function for cosmetics. If you know a solid, reliable, and exceptionally good choice of case for this sort of a rig, I'd be happy to hear it as I'm far from married to any specific style.

    5) Storage wise, I only have one small question... Should I go with the seagates I have selected, the +$50 western digital equivalents(are they more reliable?) or something else altogether? And is a 2hdd + 1ssd setup like that good to go for non raid use in windows 8.1 and virtual desktops? Or is there a better approach to desktop storage? I'm not -too- worried about raid for data security, as I have my own regular data backup routine for everything but bulk, low priority video media storage.

    At any rate, I apologize if I seem overly needy, but as I said I don't want to get this wrong. I've never put a PC together from scratch before, but I've researched the process and I want to learn it. I live in the usa's lower class, and I have to work very very hard to get ahead of my budget enough to save money at the end of the week. So obviously, I'm always on the lookout for valuable skill-sets to increase my value as a freelance worker, as manual labor only gets you so far lol. PC repair seems like a great one, not only for it's value to others, but so I can better maintain my rig, as well as friends rigs as I'm kind of the IT guy between us, so I'm always trying to learn more for that sake. As such, I'm more than happy to discuss any aspect of this stuff, and in fact I'd scrap the whole build and try again if I came to think there was a better design at my disposal. Point is, I fully respect the value of a hard earned dollar, I'm not looking to throw them away... BUT, saving money is not my priority here, with this particular budget, getting a good rig is.

    My absolute total budget for this thing is $3000... But I mean, money is probably the most easily recycled material in existence, so I never mind having left over lol. I did figure it was prudent to design with a bit of room for adjustments that would raise the price prior to posting it for review though, so I do have some room to work with.

    So... With that all being said, would you still say that revised build is the best tailored for me? If not, I welcome further suggestions....

    Oh and one more thing... I mentioned before programs such as stardock's windowblinds, or rainmeter... Do you by chance know of any other amazing programs these days for the sort of tasking I have in mind? Really any or all of your favorite programs would be welcome, as I've been out of the loop on software for a while... To give you an idea, I still use classic winamp for my music... lol x.x

    Current software I plan on getting, which I have a bit of spending money outside the PC budget to buy with(for non freeware/open source)

    Stardock Suite
    Windows 8.1
    photoshop... elements maybe?
    A dvd burner program
    A music/video media program
    a video editing/encoding program
    Various specialized tools, programs, etc...

    A non intrusive security solution.. Perhaps there is a more manual way to approach things safely? Sandbox environments maybe? Virtual machines to test programs? Are these good ideas? Or is there a comprehensive solution that ISN'T a bloated beast of annoying 'features', notifications, pokes, and etc?

    That about wraps it up. Sorry if I am rambling on too extensively. But as I implied, it's important to me, that I not only choose a good build, but also learn it inside and out, I want to know as much about as many things as I can with this. So again, I really do appreciate anyone who takes the time to help me review this rig... And, as I myself found lots of good advice on pages of this site, which I found through advanced google searches, again and again, I figured that maybe some other people who are looking for a little more depth and detail than the average builder, may stumble across this and find a trove. Hey, someone has to be the one to ask the questions for the answers to get out there! :)
  3. Best answer
    Quite the read,lol.
    1. The obvious implication of not overclocking would be instant savings.Parts that don't overclock ar cheaper. If you are really going to coast on stock for 5+ years maybe you should just as well save your money. The last time intel made a cooler compareable to aftermarket ones [quality ones anyway] was for the core 2 quad. Manufacturers had poor sales,so intel has let them look good ever since. Stock cooler does enough to not be crappy,but does not go above and beyond.The xigmatek cooler gets great temps,is all black[looks good],and is fairly quiet,for a low price. That's a lot of ticks in my book,but if money is no option,i'd fork for a Noctua cooler,for more cool and more quiet.
    2.Zotac aren't as famous as Evga but their AMP cooler is epic. They only customise NVIDIA cards.Most aftermarket coolers are within degrees of each other,so really it boils down to warranty,quality of the brand etc. Asus have good build quality,but they charge for it. Gigabyte's windforce 3 cooler is more silent than most others,MSI have a good cooler in Twin Frozr [two largeish fans instead of three,same effect],and Evga have those really beefy classified version cards. That's on the NVIDIA side. On the AMD side I find Sapphire and HIS also very good buys with the above named Gigabyte,MSI and Asus. The TriX cooler by sapphire is especially potent. I did not change your gpu choice as it is the one you had gone with,but if I were to spend more there I'd get a Sapphire TriX R9 290X.
    3.Rosewill Capstone is a very good buy,great value for the juice it gives. For any sane scenario you won't need more than 850w Gold,unless of course you decide to overclock three gpus to hell. PSU is definitely not the place to skimp,especially with powerful components,it might blow up,and take your thousand dollar rig with it.
    4.I'm more of a minimalist,so simple elegant designs row my boat,like Fractal Arc,Corsair Obsidian and Silverstone Temjin.Bitfenix Shinobi and NZXT Source 530 are also striking,hope you catch my drift.Silverstone and Fractal sell cases with fan filters included,not sure about other brands though.I also like smaller mid towers as opossed to behemoths.
    5.the Seagates are fine,never had issues with them or WD,set them up as 4TB and your good,no need to mirror the raid as 2TB.Put windows and your programs on the SSD from the start and you'll be good,it's a good setup.
    6 It is a very good rig. For further suggesstions i'd say
    Spend more for the Asus VG248QE monitor.
    Get Steelseries peripherals
    Bump up the gpu

    For software i'm a simple guy,I use fences to keep the desktop neat that's about it. I had Rainmeter a long while back but i took it down so i can't say i can help there.
    other stuff on my pc include
    KM Player
    VLC Player
    Revo Uninstaller
    AVG antivirus,it stays out of the way mostly.
    bunch of other small utilities i can't recall.
    Try Imgburn for DVD's works very well for me.

    With my recommendations it looks like this...
    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($334.29 @ Amazon)
    CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-U14S 55.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($73.98 @ OutletPC)
    Motherboard: Asus Maximus VI Hero ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($179.99 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($157.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($154.95 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($82.50 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($82.50 @ Amazon)
    Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon R9 290X 4GB Video Card ($684.98 @ SuperBiiz)
    Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill N600PCE 802.11a/b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($25.84 @ Amazon)
    Case: Zalman MS800 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: Corsair RM 750W 80+ Gold Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
    Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
    Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (32/64-bit) ($108.09 @ NCIX US)
    Monitor: Asus VG248QE 144Hz 24.0" Monitor ($263.98 @ Best Buy)
    Keyboard: SteelSeries Apex [RAW] Wired Gaming Keyboard ($52.49 @ Amazon)
    Mouse: SteelSeries Sensei RAW Wired Laser Mouse ($42.99 @ NCIX US)
    Speakers: Logitech Z506 155W 5.1ch Speakers ($74.99 @ B&H)
    Total: $2549.52
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-02-09 04:59 EST-0500)
  4. Thank you, that was very informative... Sorry I am a bit long winded lol, like I said it's a big call for me and I'm still getting familiar with tech info so I lack some confidence in my knowledge still. But advice like this goes a long way to clearing that up. :D

    I like the gpu info, all the different brands was at first very perplexing, but I feel like I'm honing in on it... Sapphire I used in my last rig with the hd 5850, and I was actually very pleased with the cooling promises they made, it actually did run very cool.

    EVGA I've heard a lot of raving about, msi and gigabyte seem reputable as well but I just don't seem to hear as much about them.

    Oh and last time I built a rig, I had it assembled from a site, and I skimped on the psu as I had a tight budget to work with, and kerploom, it all died at once lol... :/ So yeah, this time I would rather get a beast ass psu even if it's more than I need. Would be nice to have sli and upgrade options without switching it out anyway, but my main concern is getting one that won't implode my rig lol. Oh and also, do modern psu's have power surge protection? Or should I invest in a new power strip to go with this rig?

    As far as choice of case, I actually had some of the most trouble with that... Ultimately, I settled on a full tower, because the size isn't really an issue for me. I figure the extra airflow would be nice, more spacious to build it, and all the intakes are filtered on that particular case, one of the main reasons I opted for that one.

    I'm not so much a minimalist, as a customization fanatic. The sleek clean siding gives me great places to tack some decor stickers on, which I can custom make to size. The main concern i have with cases is filtration, airflow, features, and of least concern, price... A good case is a good case, and I can always reuse it down the road, so I'm not gonna skimp on it like last time, when I got an awful featureless foxconn lol... Overall I looked at a lot of cases, and I think I'm happy with this one... I will however take advice from silverstone, and install some aftermarket case fans to ensure the case has positive air pressure, a silverstone gimmick, that basically just says to have more intake than outtake air, so that the excess vent slots will exhaust hot air instead of pulling in dusty air and letting hot air linger in the case, out of the path of exhaust fans.... Seemed like a valid concept. Anyways, I do greatly respect the minimalist approach, it's a tempting one... But, ultimately, I feel the behemoth tower is more suited to my 6'2 stature as well as my PC's best interest....

    Thanks for the bout of confidence on the storage setup. And yeah I didn't plan on running raid, the 2 tb drives will be used for bulk media storage mostly, that and backed up games not in use, large/bulk temp data from projects, etc sort of stuff that takes a lot of space... If I have a drive failure, it's not the end of the world... All the sensitive, small, and important data would be on the ssd and/or backed up on other medium anyway. And yes I looked into the new windows structure for adding storage, and I'm very pleased. Seems like computers are getting pretty user friendly these days lol.

    Lastly and possibly most importantly... If I do run the 770, what can you foresee me being disappointed by? Are there 2014 era games that it won't play on good settings? Is it really worth it to go for the next step up? And is an amd card a good choice in an intel build? Or does it not matter at all?

    Anyway, I do really appreciate the help... I really feel like certain parts are 100% greenlighted at this point, like the storage, cpu/mobo/heatsink combo, ram, etc... And I'm honing in on the best viable options for the other parts, thanks to helpful folks like yourself. :)

    I will take another look at mid tower prospects, but I really do think I'm more suited to the full towers.

    The gpu is probably the single most prominent decision left, and I feel confident between 3 or 4 choices as opposed to seemingly thousands when I first started researching lol. So that's nice... Still, kinda torn... I mean, sure I could chip in more for the next step up... But that mentality is why my initial budget ended up a bloated $3,400 for just the rig lol.. After more research and honing in on what's for me and what's overkill, I cut it down to here. But, if it's a prudent choice, I'd be willing to doll out for the top of the line, which seems to be either the amd one you mentioned or the 780ti.

    What would REALLY be helpful for this last leg of the decision, is if I could find first hand accounts of where cards like 770 and 780 actually fall short. Like, I hear about how great they do different things, but what's their realistic limit that I can expect? That would be the best info to help me decide which to take.

    Oh and I'm actually not one for mechanical keyboards and fancy mice. I like less tactile feedback, and I play games usually with a gamepad and advanced custom button mappings. I am however keeping my eyes on the gamepad market, specifically the new steam controller. Looks interesting, I want one hehe. For the mouse I'll likely just get a pretty wireless one fairly cheap, say $20 ish... For the keyboard, I'm actually deciding on that still... Currently, I'm strongly leaning towards the genius manticore. I use a lot of custom hot keys and customization, so while I can appreciate that most users wouldn't be interested in this particular item, it has some features that strongly appeal to me.

    Additionally, I have autism and heightened senses as a result. I'm very sensitive to certain sounds, touches, etc... Tactile feedback isn't really a satisfying sensation for me as it seems to be for most users... I like a soft, quiet press that the bubble cap keyboards offer. I am also easily bothered by certain noises, and can hear some most people can't, so a quiet fan setup is essential, and the less quiet non mechanical keyboards are also a welcome thing, and I will be buying some case fans not listed here to spruce up airflow and possibly replace stock case fans if they make too much noise. With that said, I will likely pick up either the noctua or hyper 212 evo heatsink in hopes it's a solid quiet cooling solution.

    Anyways, thanks a bunch once again. And yes I know I talk too much lol... How?... Google adverts asked me if I need help publishing a book... lol x.x;;;;

    But the run around helps me mull things over. And again, I went from not having a clue to honing in on this build with a few choices left between key components... So I'm happy with the rate of progress, I'm learning a lot! :)
  5. If you have sensitive ears definitely pay more for the Noctua cooler. Comes with adapter cables that keep the fans running quietly constantly.Very handy.
    Difference between a 770 and 780ti/r9 290x is in the sheer performance at higher settings/resolutions. The R9 290X especially stays good for gaming up to 4K resolution [great for triple monitor setups that make funky "more than HD" resolutions],and can really crank up the eye candy at 1080p with it's 4GB of high speed memory. If you crank up the graphics the same way on a gtx770,you may hit a wall on its 2gb of memory,and get could always turn it down but where's the fun in that? You see the advantage of the more expensive cards pushing funky configurations like the asus monitor i suggested with 144hz refresh rate [where you can turn on vsync that high] and the 770 can't. Or running 6 monitors instead of 4. Haha. Or a $3000 4K monitor :O Anyways,most sane scenarios a 770 would suffice,it eats single monitor 1080p for breakfast,but if your dropping $2000 on a rig,I personally wouldn't settle for suffice,but that's just me.It's more a question of Ultra settings now,or Ultra into the future.Gtx 690 is still badass,Gtx 670,not so much now.
    The Corsair PSU is a good deal for $100,it's Gold rated,fully modular and gives a lot of good ol wattage.It does have the usual surge protections,but you can always add a UPS if you feel the need,especially if power is flaky where you live.
    Steelseries make good stuff,and they actually AREN'T fancy[what can i say,minimalist],but if the sound of a mechanical keyboard irks you then that's that.
    Maybe you should write that book. Glad I could help :)
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