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$2000~ Gaming PC - First time builder, need help.

Last response: in Systems
July 12, 2009 12:27:35 AM

Hey all,

I'm going to try and build my own gaming pc this summer and I need a lot of advice and I have a few questions on it all!

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within the next few months.

BUDGET RANGE: $2000-$2500


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, possibly Monitor.





MONITOR RESOLUTION: 2560x1200 (new monitor) or 1600x1200 (current monitor) :: Will explain later.


These are the parts I have already picked out and my biggest concern is compatibility. Will these parts work together? Besides that, I want to know if I'm missing anything, or if anyone has advice or different ideas on what I should get I would appreciate it!

Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

EVGA E758-A1 3-Way SLI (x16/x16/x8) LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

EVGA 141-BL-E757-TR LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX X58 SLI LE Intel Motherboard - Retail

EVGA 017-P3-1295-AR CO-OP Edition GeForce GTX 295 1792MB 896 (448 x 2)-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported ... - Retail

EVGA 896-P3-1171-AR GeForce GTX 275 Superclocked Edition 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI
Supported ... - Retail (x2)

ZALMAN ZM1000-HP 1000W Continuous @ 45°C (Maximum Continuous Peak: 1250W) ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire ... - Retail

CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80601920 - Retail

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8D - Retail

Patriot 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model PVT36G1333LLK - Retail

Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD6400AAKS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM (x2)

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM (x2)

LITE-ON Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDP118-08 - Retail

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model GH22NP20 - OEM

HT | OMEGA STRIKER 7.1 Channels PCI Interface Sound Card - Retail

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

Thermaltake CL-C0034 Copper Fan & Heatsinks - Retail

ZALMAN CNPS9500 AT 2 Ball CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink - Retail

Logitech S-220 17 Watts 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System - OEM

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM

Logitech Extreme 3.5mm Supra-aural PC Gaming Headset

OKGEAR 24" IDE round cable.dual device,Clear Silver Model RC24IDES - OEM (x2)

Nippon Labs 18" (1.5 ft.) SATA II Cable with locking latch Model SATA-L0.5-R - Retail (x2)

Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 27.5" 3ms Widescreen HDMI LCD Monitor - Retail

Total Price (Currently) - $2180.95

Total Price (With all the edits) - $2129.78


My questions:

1) Will all the parts work together?

2) Are the extra SATA II and IDE cables necessary?

3) Is there a major difference between the mobo I picked out (EVGA) and the ASUS P6T Deluxe? I'm not entirely sure what to be looking at for mobo's so I picked the one with the most reviews on newegg since they both have 4/5 stars...

4) Is 1000 watts necessary for this setup or can I go lower and be safe? If it is safe; should I go lower or just stay at the 1000?

5) I've been trying to read some articles and such but I'm still unsure about the memory (RAM) and the processor relation? I picked out 6GB 1600 DDR3; and from what I understand, I have to overclock the processor AND the RAM to achieve 1600MHz because it will start at 1333MHz or something like that?

6) I have no idea what to look for in a sound card and I don’t even know if it would be required? If it’s required, is the one I picked out OK or is there something better? Also, are the speakers I picked out OK? I'm not big on sound, but I want things to sound clear and be easy on the ears!

7) Can I still get the OEM versions of everything, including the operating system, even if I'm not a pc builder? I'll be using all these parts just for myself...

8) Is the northbridge heatsink/fan required? I believe I read somewhere that the x58 mobo's run hot at the northbridge?

9) Is it possible to have too many fans in a case? I know the case I picked out has like that too much?

10) And finally; I'm wondering if I should get a new monitor? My current monitor is:
NEC Display Solutions LCD2080UX-BK "20.1' LCD Multisync

I love it but I’ve had it about 4+ years now. Is it time to get a new one? If it is, I assume widescreen is the way to go? And if it is, does it distort the image/picture of older games such as Dungeon Siege/Diablo 2/Starcraft? I love these games and still play them.. and if I do need a new widescreen; I would prefer it to be 2560x1600; unless a lower resolution will suffice?

All my questions have been answered! :) 

I want this computer to last me a very long time.

Thanks for reading my long post and I appreciate any help and response!!! :) 
July 12, 2009 1:01:25 AM

Great Questions, answers follow:

1) Compatible, yes. Effective, no as you will see. mostly you got the questions right.

2) No they are not (usually) You are going to be using all SATA devices, just count up how many cables are included with your (Newegg) mobo and with the devices themselves. In the unusual case you need more, or think you need a special 90-degree connector because of how the parts fit togethe, order that only.

3) My personal preferences run to Gigabyte, but the EVGA is a good board.

4) No, 1000W is not required, and your psu choice needs further review.

5) Memory is OK, though you don't really need to go that high.,2...

The concusion page, though I recommend you at least skim the article.

6) Sound cards take up space, generate heat, block airflow, and are usually unnecessary due to mobo sound. Do not get one unless you know you need it, and not until after you have heard the onboard sound.

7) Yes

8) No

9) Yes. We'll look at your case, make sure you get one with good air flow, and *maybe* you might buy one more fan to start with. From there, you add/replace fans only as the need is shown.

10) The 295 (which you are *not* going to buy :)  ) is far more card than you need to drive your monitor. In fact, it may perform worse on that monitor than cards 100s of dollars cheaper. You should get a new one only if you are unhappy with yours. 1920 is a fine res, and can carry you up to 24" and even a 27" widescreen. If you are even THINKING about keeping your current monitor, a good 24" will look terrific.

Specific recommendations coming in another post.
July 12, 2009 1:42:34 AM

Thanks for the quick response!

So I'll cut out the sound card and extra cables.

Is 850 watts enough? I'm thinking of replacing it with:
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

Is that OK?

For the RAM; do you mean that the 6GB is too high or the MHz thing is too high? And whats the PC3 rating thats paired with the name of the RAM? Like...I'm looking at 1066MHz RAM (if I understand you correctly thats what you were refering too?) and they have 3 different types because of the PC3 number.

Can I please get the 295!? lol.

And I'm thinking of buying a new monitor because I looked and if I'm looking at the right things, they dont seem terribly expensive...
Is a resultion of 1920x1200 noticibly different then 1920x1080?
Related resources
July 12, 2009 1:48:03 AM

GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
(Includes 4 straight SATA cables)

An excellent mobo, will do all you want including OC

Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor - Retail

Easy to OC, your original choice

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 998706 - Retail

Lower latency memory, high compatibility

CORSAIR CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

All you need to power system with 2x275s

EVGA 896-P3-1173-AR GeForce GTX 275 FTW Edition 896MB 448-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

All you need for your current resolution and more. If you buy another screen, this should still work fine. If not, you buy another later when cheaper. Or you upgrade to DX11 board(s) when they come out.

OCZ Vendetta 2 OCZTVEND2 120mm Rifle CPU Cooler - Retail

Your cooler was good, this one is better.

Antec Twelve Hundred Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

Not my favorite case - heavy and a bit noisy - but if you like it, it will serve very well.


COOLER MASTER HAF 932 RC-932-KKN1-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail

Another case with terrific ariflow and some quietness.

2 x Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

Just a tad different than you chose, faster.

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD±R DVD Burner LightScribe Support - OEM

This does it all - actually any DVD/CD burner in this class is fine. Why get two devices, unless you have a specific need I can't think of (like planning to copy 5 DVDs per day)

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM

Always good to have around.

Rest of the stuff is really personal preference.

Prices above are around $1,300. Add your speakers, headset, mouse, kb, etc. You can shop around and look for combos, etc.

July 12, 2009 1:55:05 AM

Don't get the GTX295... really a waste of money. Putting 2 of those in SLI gives you a hit in performance over 2 GTX260 with the same cpu.

Get 2 GTX260... but forget the GTX295.
July 12, 2009 2:03:06 AM

lief said:
Is 850 watts enough? I'm thinking of replacing it with:
CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply - Retail Is that OK?
Close enough lol - see above. The Corsair I recommended will run cooler (more efficient) and cheaper (less power used at the wall).
lief said:
For the RAM; do you mean that the 6GB is too high or the MHz thing is too high? And whats the PC3 rating thats paired with the name of the RAM? Like...I'm looking at 1066MHz RAM (if I understand you correctly thats what you were refering too?) and they have 3 different types because of the PC3 number.
Read the review link I edited into my first post and you will see that (generally speaking) whatever performance increase you get out of memory depends more on latency than speed.
lief said:
Can I please get the 295!? lol.
As long as *I'm* not buying it for you, of course you can :) 

Seriously, the performance increase from this board comes at a real premium price. I'm making these numbers up, but its like getting a 20% improvement for 50% higher cost. The 275 will perform very well at your current res, and the same if you go 1920. If you can save the money now, you will have it to upgrade video next year when you *might* need it. Then again, all you might need next year is a second 275, which will be even cheaper then. Then again, you might need nothing for a couple of years.
lief said:
And I'm thinking of buying a new monitor because I looked and if I'm looking at the right things, they dont seem terribly expensive...
Is a resultion of 1920x1200 noticibly different then 1920x1080?
I'm not the one to ask about that - you might post a separate question about that and choices of monitors.

July 12, 2009 2:16:15 AM

Take a look at the frame rates across a variety of games in this review:

Above 25-30 FPS is playable, and anything above 60 FPS is unnoticable. In the cases where a slower, single board goes "unplayable" you can adjust settings, resolution, or buy a second card.

2x275 or perhaps even 2x260 (core 216) are better than a 295, so if you must have a "295" NOW, buy a pair of the others.
July 12, 2009 2:53:17 AM

Alright I switched the memory to

Patriot 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model PVT36G1333LLK - Retail

Not quite what you recommended as its a 7 latency not 6. Was worried about the 1/5 eggs that memory got? :/  And also cheaper!

And I have no idea what-so-ever how SLI works. No idea what I would need to know tech-wise to get it running, no idea how I would troubleshoot it, should problems arise. And are there any charts comparing SLI times with single card times? I wanna see what the actual performance difference would be with SLI 260's and one 295, etc.

Oh and I added a monitor!

Hanns·G HG-281DPB Black 27.5" 3ms Widescreen LCD HDMI Monitor 500 cd/m2 800:1 Built in Speakers - Retail

Is that a good pick?!
July 12, 2009 3:33:52 AM

295 is already "SLI" - it contains 2 x "275" chips, a little lower clock, on a single board.

To install two vid cards SLI, you insert each in its own slot, attach the included cable to connect the two, and load the drivers - same drivers you would use for 1 x 275, 1 x 295, 2 x 275. The same nVidia control panel you would use for settings on a single card, allows you to enable or disable SLI with a check box. If disabled, only one card runs 3D saving power and generating less heat.

At all times it appears as if you have one card.

Re monitor: I am not the guy to ask about monitors - I use Dells 27", 24", 22", and one Samsung 24" that everyone at Newegg raved about. Its not near as good as the Dell sitting right next to it :)  Monitors are a little like cases, everyone's taste is different.
July 12, 2009 3:41:09 AM

Here's a benchmark showing 2x260 vs. 295. A good way to go to save money. I didn't think that was your primary goal, so I suggested 1 x 275 followed by 2 x 275 as needed. More power up front in a single card, probably enough that you wouldn't need more, but kick the 295's ass if you did.
July 12, 2009 4:16:50 AM

Unless you are a serious resolution junkie (ie, you like everything SMALL) you might want to consider using a HDtv as your monitor. For the price of a good 27 - 30 inch monitor you can get a 32 - 42 inch HDtv. I made the switch from "monitors" to large HDtvs and I'll never go back. Games really immerse you more on a big screen, even if you sit a little farther back, plus it gives you a great all in one media solution.
July 12, 2009 4:26:03 AM

Oh...I forgot to answer your question about resolutions. A lot of double blind testing has been done with HD source material, and most people can not tell the difference between 1360 x 768 and 1920 x 1080, so its safe to say you probably will not notice any quality difference between 1080 and 1200, but there will be a slight change in the screen size you might find more appealing one way or the other....but as the other posters pointed out a lot of monitor choices just come down to taste. If you have someplace you can go check out several options try to ignore the specs, prices, and everything else and try to find which picture appeals to you the most. Then work backwards from there if that is not in your price range.
July 12, 2009 4:56:50 AM

I'd like to add to the resolution thing, as the rest of the OP questions seem to have been answered.

As for my experiences with 1920x1200 vs 1920x1080. I'd have to say 1920x1080 is the better choice, and i'll explain why i think so.

First off, you only lose a small amount of vertical pixels, 120 to be exact. So the monitor is slightly shorter, however it's also slightly wider. Since computer monitors are measured diagonally, a 24" 16:9 monitor will be very slightly wider then a 24" 16:10 monitor.

Also 16:9 monitor are noticeably cheaper, since they're more efficient to make. The reason being as a company can make a few more monitors per sheet of panel because of the slightly shorter height. A 16:10 monitor can be as much as $100 more for a 16:9 of the same size.

Additionally any 16:9 content is natively supported. For example the Xbox 360 and PS3 games. Minor perk, but i like it.

That being said i really enjoy my Dell S2409, which is a 24" 1920x1080 resolution. It was replacing a Samsung t240 which is a 1920x1200 monitor. The samsung has some backlight bleed, and scaling issues :( 

The picture on both was great, the samsung's was a little more vibrant out of the box. But i saved some money at the same time since the Dell monitor was less expensive. And with a little tweaking the Dell's picture is awesome.

So i'd recommend Dell, Samsung, and LG. Have had good luck, other then the bleed on the samsung, with them. As for the monitor you've chose. I have no experience with Hans so i can't provide a good review, however it looks to be a decent monitor at a good price.
July 12, 2009 5:34:20 AM

Just a note - text appears smaller at 1080 than 1200. Or readable text may take up more screen space from your game UI than you would like.

That was a problem for me particularly in MMOs. That's one reason I bought a 27" 1920x1200
July 12, 2009 3:56:45 PM

Thanks for all the replies! I'm going to edit my original post to show all the changes I've made so its more organized.

I switched the 295 with 2x275's like Twoboxer recommended.
I switched out the motherboard for something a little cheaper, but a little more expensive than the one Twoboxer suggested.

As for the monitor I'm still unsure about.
I don't want anything bigger than the 27.5" I picked out so the TV's are out, only because I don't have the desk space for anything larger.
I don't really do anything like xbox/ps3/movies on my computer except PC games.

I am however, going to go out and look at monitors to see what I like and see differences, etc.

Thanks all for the suggestions and advice! I'll update my list shortly in my original post and I would like some final suggestions/advice on building my first pc! :) 
July 12, 2009 8:24:17 PM

I noticed you still have 2 IDE CD-Drives chosen. I'd recommend switching those to SATA, which shouldn't cost any more. Maybe a couple bucks. But i personally hate that giant ass ugly IDE cable/ribbon. The tiny discrete SATA cables are so much nicer.
July 12, 2009 8:52:53 PM

the antec 1200 case is awesome, i have the 900 which is the "mid size tower" version, and it's plenty big for everything, you might want something smaller than a fridge in your office.

I'm pretty happy with my single evga 285 gtx ftw, if you are going to do two cards, id especially go with the 285 due to the unbeatable per-gpu performance, much lower thermal (due to smaller die size and one gpu verses two per card), and uses far less power, price is good on it vs 295 and two 275 as well. with one 285 (and two 1920x1600 monitors) I am able to run every single game at default monitor resolution (1920x1200) with the highest possible settings and without any choppiness or frame rate issues..... check out the video card ratings here and check the power consumption notes too. and two 285 cards (two gpu cores) beat two 295 cards (four gpu cores) in some of the tests. :) 

you get raid0 performance increases until the 4th or 5th drive. i have 4sata3.0 7200rpm drives and they just absolutely scream. I'd need at least TWO raid0 intel slc ssd drives to better the performance. search toms for the raid0 performance review/graphs.
Hard drive raid0 $
160gb $40 (qty4/640gb) =$160
250gb $45 (qty4/1tb) =$180
320gb $50 (qty4/1.28tb)=$200
500gb $57 (qty4/2tb) =$228

make sure you get the free win7 upgrade with your vista os.

the zalman snps9500 is terrific.

I'd go with a silver or gold (efficiency) rated power supply... remember a 1000w power supply that is 70% efficient gives less power than a 800w power supply that is 90% efficient.... also, 700w or 750 on a silver or gold should be more than enough for your needs, especially if you go with the geforce 285 graphics card instead.

re: resolution, 1920x1200 is a terrific resolution to pick; and i have two of those hanns-g 27.5in monitors on my wife's pc. no, nothing is distorted, and yes, games will support it since it's a common resolution.

corsair cmpsu-750hx is $165 (silver)
thermaltake toughpower w0295ru 700w is $155 (silver)
coolermaster ucp rs900-aaaaa3 900w is $175 (silver)
coolermaster ucp rs700-aaaaa3 700w is $130 (silver)
seasonic m12d 850w is $150 (silver)

thermal goop: Tuniq TX-3 is rated much higher than artic silver5.

re: sound cards... i remember the days when motherboard sound was abyssmal and you NEEDED a sound card to get decent audio. those days are long gone, and my current sb x-fi card is likely the last card i will buy. a contributing factor is also that vista and win7 are messing around with sound specs and my x-fi wont likely be supported.. i'd recommend sticking with the evga 7.1 on-board sound.

since you are going with ddr3, you'll probably get 2gb sticks; so 6gb will be more than you likely will ever need with xp64/vista64/win7. i have a ddr2 system with 8gb (xp64) and i've never exceeded 5gb, even with a stupid amount of things running at the same time as crysis...
July 12, 2009 10:03:12 PM

Are speeds for the IDE/SATA cd/dvd drives any different from each other? If not, how come the SATA drives are slightly more expensive?

I'm going to keep the 1200 case so I have room for improvement in the future should the need arise.

I looked at a bunch of different graphics cards and decided to switch out the SLI 275's and add one 285. If I find I need another card I'll just buy an extra 285 later.

XFX GX285XZWBF GeForce GTX 285 1GB Black Edition 512-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

For raid0: If one drive dies, doesnt the other? And is raid really necessary/does it make a noticible difference?

I think my power supply is OK..850watt/80% efficient with a +12v/70Amp rail.. or should I really change it..?

I'm having second thoughts on the 27.5" monitor. Is that too big? Would I be just as happy with a smaller one? And if so, how much smaller should I go? I don't want to be panning my head back and forth just to see everything lol.

EDIT: I've been trying to look for smaller monitors with the same specs of the 27.5" and I'm not having much luck..are there any other recommended websites to look at?

Thanks for the replies! :) 
July 12, 2009 10:30:25 PM

i just did the monitor purchase 6 months ago... ended up with a BenQ 24" and it's great. and 24" is pretty huge.
July 13, 2009 12:03:27 AM

I looked at dimensions for the monitor and they arent too much different than my current monitor so I think I'll get the 27.5" I picked out.

And new question:

For that RAM that was recommended earlier with the 6 CAS Latency; will those timings remain constant no matter the MHz its running? Like if it says 6 latency up to 1333MHz; but its running at 1066MHz; will it still have the 6 timings or will it be different because the MHz is different..?

I was also looking at two identical memory timings and stuff but the price was different and one of them said that it was bigger and wasnt built for the 6 memory module, or something like that.. Whats that mean?

July 13, 2009 1:10:29 AM

it should run at its stated timings at the stated speed, but once you start to overclock you might have to loosen the timings some. That is where the art of overclocking comes in, there is no one answer for that sort of thing, it all depends on your exact parts and luck.
July 13, 2009 3:31:49 AM

Alright thanks.. so if I were to get:

mushkin 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 998691 - Retail
Timing: 6-7-6-18

Then it will run at 6-7-6-18 clocked at 1600MHz? Doesnt it default to 1066MHz because of the i7 processor?
Will the timings be different or the same?
If they are different, does that mean I have to overclock the memory and processor to achieve the timings of 6-7-6-18?

And also, what is the difference between the first memory I listed ^ and this memory:
mushkin Redline 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 998692 - Retail

They are exactly identical in all the latency/timing etc. except that the Model 998692 says:
Please note modules are wider than standard memory and are not designed for a 6 module configuration. For 6 module configuration, please see part number 998691.

What does that mean? And if I were to purchase this memory, what model should I buy and why?

Sorry if I'm being difficult but I'm new to all this and unsure about a lot of the numbers all over.

Thanks for answers! :) 

July 13, 2009 4:41:19 AM

Get the cheaper memory considering they have identical specs
July 13, 2009 4:56:05 AM

don't get the wider may want to use all the slots some day. It just depends on your board, but you will probably have to set the memory speed and timings manually in the bios, or with some sort of bios manipulation software from windows.
July 13, 2009 4:57:46 AM

998692: the heat sinks are too wide to use two sticks in adjacent memory slots. They have better (?) heat sinks. While this part has a separate mfg's product page (as listed by Newegg), the company's product list does not include this part lol. I can't quickly identify from the company's product pages what makes them more expensive besides the heat sinks.