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Rookie seeks thoughts/advice on first-time build: >$1,500 gaming rig

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Anonymous
July 14, 2010 5:53:30 AM

Hello everyone,

After 5 years culminating in some actually pretty good performance on Crysis, my Dell 8300 desktop finally stopped being able to run the latest games (the bottleneck being the single core P4 3ghz CPU).

After a lot of thought, I've decided to build my own rig in the hopes of getting the best specs on a price of >$1,500. I'm kinda nervous about doing so since it's my first build and I can't really afford to purchase replacement components if I fry one on the first go, but Dell's prices are overinflated and their quality is FAR from what they used to be, and while IBuyPower offers some good rigs at surprisingly good prices (nearly on par with a homebuilt with Newegg components), I've heard mixed reviews about their workmanship and quality.

I have some do-it-yourself experience; a couple years ago I upgraded my Dell 8300 with a new GPU (the last of the AGPs), added in a couple bars of RAM and a second hard drive, and swapped the power supply for a stronger model. I managed this without frying anything and got good performance with no issues right up until about last year when games requiring duel-core CPUs started showing up. However, I've never installed a motherboard or CPU before, but have seen instructional videos on youtube that seem to be a good guide to doing so.

Anyway, my proposed rig is:

CPU: Intel i7-930 2.8ghz LGA 1366 - $290

GPU: XFX Radeon HD 5850 - $295 (going with XFX due to their lifetime warranty)

Motherboard: ASUS P6T LGA 1366 X58 - $200 (or Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R for $210)

RAM: Corsair XMS3 6gb DDR3 1600 - $155

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 1.5TB 7200rpm w/ 64mb cache - $110

Power Supply: Kingwin Lazer 1000w - $160 (best rated value for money 1000w unit I could find)

Soundcard: Creative Soundblaster X-Fi Titanium Fatality Pro - $110

Case: NZXT Tempest Evo ATX Mid-Tower - $90 (large and hopefully roomy for a mid-tower, with 5 case fans)

CD-Drive: Whatever is on sale

Operating System: Windows 7 Home 64 bit - $100 (I'm using XP right now, so I need to buy a new OS)

The total runs to $1510 with Newegg components, and the build seems to be reasonably future-proof and upgradable at least for the next few years.

Anyway, I've got two general sets of questions; regarding the build itself, and also regarding whether or not I should be attempting this at all.

I'm mostly wondering if I'll be OK going with the stock CPU cooling unit if I'm not planning to do any overclocking. The NZXT Tempest Evo comes with 5 built-in fans, so I figure I'm good as far as heat goes. Is that a good idea? Is it worth it to spend an extra $50 for a low-to-mid end third-party CPU heatsink/fan and some artic silver? Is installing the stock cooling CPU heatsink/fan w/ thermal pad easier and less hassle, or is it pretty much the same as installing a third-party cooling unit?

I'm also kind of wondering if I'll have any issues with the P6T motherboard; I chose it because it seems to be one of the most used/recommended for a i7 build, but I've heard it has issues detecting RAM under certain circumstances. Of course, people seem to have serious complaints about pretty much every motherboard out there, so I have to go with something.

Finally, given my level of experience (have swapped out GPU/power supply/hard drive/RAM without destroying my pre-built system) is building my own a good idea at all? I think I'm aware of most necessary precautions (beware of static, take care when installing the CPU) and am planning to make extensive use of included instructions, online guides, and youtube videos.

How much margin of error do I have? Will most components work fine as long as I'm not recklessly careless, or will one single slip of the hand (i.e.accidentally tapping the side of the motherboard against something inside of the case while trying to slide it into place) fry my $200+ components?

I guess my main, overarcing question is: if I follow the instructions and work carefully, will building a new system be relatively straightforward? Or are major issues (failure to start, faulty components, etc.) that require a good degree of time and expertise to fix pretty common when homebuilding?

Any advice or general thoughts about my proposed system anybody has would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, everybody.
July 14, 2010 7:36:36 AM

Whew- well... first off, stock cooling is FINE at stock speeds.
You don't need a sound card these days, as the built in motherboard sound is HD.
Your power supply is way overkill... as you should be loking at a 650-700watt.
GTX460 is by far a better bang for buck GPU than that. Its essentially the same performance but $100 less.

Also, I personally perfery gigabyte mobos. Had great results.
July 14, 2010 4:49:49 PM

I second the gigabyte board.. I am using the X58A-UD3R and have been very impressed with it. more options in the bios for overclocking ( if you choose to) and support for sli/xfire depending on which way you want to go
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July 14, 2010 4:56:19 PM

460 is actually equivalent of a 5830. 786mg GTX 460<5830<1gb GTX 460

Second change to GA board.

As mentioned, PSU could easily be 650-750w instead.
Corsair 750TX is $110 atm
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Could also consider xfx 750w for $120. $10 more for modular and silver rating isn't too shabby a deal.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As mentioned, sound card not needed.

Case wise, a HAF 922 is the same price and considered better.
July 14, 2010 5:01:41 PM

I just got the gigabye UD3R as well, great board. Also, look at microcenter for the i7 930, I got it there for $200 a couple weeks ago and I believe the price still stands:

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

also, corsair makes just about the best PSUs, look at the 750 TX:

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

going with these two would save you about $150 you could put into possibly upgrading the the Radeon HD 5870 or getting a SSD
July 14, 2010 5:12:43 PM

Ah, forgot the i7 930 is instore only, so I guess that only works if you have a microcenter nearby
July 15, 2010 3:10:06 AM

hello there and i see it as try to get your money worth but dont rape your own pocket if you can do all that for at least $200-$300 cheaper go for it but if you feel u need to spend all that for gaming you've come to the right place for answers
July 15, 2010 11:43:28 AM

I will also throw my support behind the Gigabyte board and address your more general questions a bit.

You should be a bit cautious when putting things together, but this can be a fun process. It isn't like a game of operation where one mistake, the buzzer goes off and you are screwed. If you do you homework on parts selection (and let others check your work) you should have no problem getting a great system for a sizable discount over a pre-built.

I would advise waiting to have a celebratory beer until after it is all buttoned up, though. A Solo cup full of Coors can really destroy a motherboard. My buddy will never live that down as long as I live.
July 15, 2010 3:49:54 PM

I have no idea how peeps get this impression that brand A > B when they have not even gotten their hands dirty actually building with brands A-Z out there. The truth is all/any brand of mobo has both gems and lemons in their lineup as per various price points That said at 1st impression your config offers rather poor frames/$$ for a gaming rig if u ask me...
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