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Gaming Rig Final List - Need Confirmation

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July 24, 2010 7:24:32 AM

I'm getting ready to upgrade my gaming rig. Well, it started out as an upgrade but now I'm only keeping my old HDD's. I have all of the parts picked out, but with so many to choose from in every category, I want to make sure I'm getting the best bang for my buck and that I don't have any components that will overpower another, or one that will create bottlenecks in the system.

I don't hardcore PC game, but I do enjoy games like Portal, Diablo and Oblivion. I can run those games no problem with my current setup, but I'm trying to get ready for Portal 2, Diablo III and future games in general. I want to be able to max out all of the settings now, and hopefully stay in mid-range a few years down the road. Outside of gaming I really just mess around online, so I only really need to concern myself with the gaming aspect of this build.

So... here's my build/upgrade along with a brief description of what I like, don't like, and why I chose each component:

COOLER MASTER Storm Sniper SGC-6000-KXN1-GP Black Steel, ABS Plastic, Mesh bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case


I like the fan control on this one. I didn't like the fact that the front side USB ports are on top of the tower because I think that would make everything look like a mess of wires. Thankfully I don't use the front side USB ports so this won't ever be an issue. I would have liked to have seen a screen showing CPU temps instead of all of the front side hookups that I'll never use (a single front USB would be alright, but not necessary). Overall I gave the case the least amount of thought in this upgrade. I just want something that will allow proper cooling and give me plenty of room to work inside of and I think this case will do just that.

GIGABYTE GA-790XTA-UD4 AM3 AMD 790X SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

Unfortunately I'm not very hip on motherboards and chipsets, so I relied heavily on a review of this board. I don't have anything that I really like about this board, but I'm sure a lot of that has to do with my lack of knowledge about them. I don't like how close the RAM slots are to the CPU, especially since I plan on putting on an aftermarket heatsink which tend to be fairly large. I chose this board because I saw it on a forum somewhere else and it came highly recommended.

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ965FBGMBOX

This one was a tough choice because I have a bit of a brand loyalty to AMD. However, I try to look past brand loyalty and get the best bang for my buck. There are certain price ranges where I feel like you get more out of AMD for the money, but I was right at that limit where AMD and Intel were close enough that I could make the switch without really changing the cost. I ended up sticking with AMD because I think that AMD's HyperTransport technology will be more helpful in a gaming scenario than Intel's HyperThreading.

ZALMAN CNPS9900 NT 120mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler

I didn't put a lot of research into this one either. I narrowed down heatsinks by what would fit a socket AM3 processor and I only looked at the top 3 best/most reviewed ones. From there they all looked pretty equal so I grabbed my favorite looking one. It was also said to come with a thermal paste greater than Artic Silicone 5 (SG-2). I based that solely on a single review on newegg, but I don't really plan to OC or push this system all that hard, so I think just having a aftermarket cooler will be enough for my needs.

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM


I have used, and loved, G-Skill RAM in every build I've ever done. It's always been very good to me and I don't see a reason to go away from that. Originally I had DDR3 1333 for this build, but I saw a few other reviews that claimed to be using 1600. The only specs I've seen say it accepts DDR3 1866(OC)*/1333/1066, so I really hope that 1600 will work in it. This is my only compatibility concern and I'd really like it confirmed by a second source that 1600 WILL work on this board.

SAPPHIRE TOXIC 100282TXSR Radeon HD 5850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card


I like the specs on this GPU although I feel like it's about twice as powerful as I need it to be. If there's one place I feel like I'm overspending, it's here. I went with a more expensive card because I think that video cards tend to be the fastest outdated in the gaming world. I've had my PC for 4 years now and I've only made two changes. I replaced the original video card after mine burned out (I let dust clog up the fan until it stopped running which caused it to overheat) and I added 2gigs of RAM. Now I feel like I've outgrown my current one (nVidia GeForce 8600 GTS). That's 2 video cards in the life of one CPU. And quite frankly, my CPU still has a couple good years of decent gaming IMHO (AMD Athlon 64 X2 4400+).

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


PSU's are another one of those things that I'm not overly knowledgeable on. I feel like 850W will keep my system running without having to push the PSU (I imagine it will run at 60-70% at load). I've only ever had Antec PSU's and they've always been great, but I've heard good things about this specific PSU. The only thing I know for sure that I like is the 80+ certification.

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

I was torn on this one. I've NEVER had a CD/DVD player/burner that wasn't a complete piece of garbage. I've gone through just about every brand, every speed, every driver and yet every one of them seems to have a shelf life of about 2 years. The first 6 months they run fine, the next year or so they start to decline a little every month, and by the end of two years you end up making a lot of coasters and finding a lot of discs that they just won't read. Perhaps it's the nature of this beast as this component tends to be the cheapest. Personally, I would rather have a more expensive reliable optical drive than a cheaper disposable one. Especially because they always seem to fail right at the moment you really needed to burn that one important DVD, or really wanted to play that brand new game you just bought after anticipating it's release for years.

Let me know what you think. I hope to buy this stuff by Monday.

Thanks!
a b B Homebuilt system
July 24, 2010 9:11:31 AM

1600 MHz will work on that board, if it can run at 1866 MHz which is faster, no reason why it wouldn't run at 1600 MHz which is slower. You may need to overclock your CPU for it to run at that speed though.

Recommendations & Notes:
  • Want a fancier case? :D  Go for the Corsair Obsidian 700D for $179.99 after $40 rebate, only $20 more than the SS.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • I suggest the ASRock 870 Extreme3 instead of that board, simply because it is based on a newer chipset and offers pretty much the same features.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • Might as well get the AMD Phenom II X4 955, not much point for paying an overclock which involves upping the multiplier by one, and you're overclocking anyway.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • A better CPU cooler is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. It is overpriced on newegg currently however, you can get it for $20 less at other retailers.
    http://www.frys.com/product/5971334?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN...

  • The HD 5850 TOXIC is an overclocked HD 5850 Vapor-X which you can get for $30 less, and overclock it yourself.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • 850W is overkill. The Corsair HX650W is more than enough for an overclocked Phenom II X4 & HD 5850 CrossFireX system, and is much cheaper ($70 cheaper after rebate!).
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

  • I've got that DVD burner and it is quite nice. The retail versions don't offer much more, just a white faceplate and Nero 8 Essentials - the OEM versions might offer something similar.
    a b B Homebuilt system
    a b 4 Gaming
    July 24, 2010 9:49:06 AM

    I suggest single GPU solution all the way

    955BE
    870 chipset
    2 X 2 GB DDR3
    beefy 80+ bronze/silver 650W PSU
    HD 5870
    yada yada
    July 24, 2010 4:57:23 PM

    Lmeow said:
    1600 MHz will work on that board, if it can run at 1866 MHz which is faster, no reason why it wouldn't run at 1600 MHz which is slower. You may need to overclock your CPU for it to run at that speed though.


    I had not planned on OC this build for two reasons: 1) I'm not experienced with it (I've never done it) and 2) I like to keep my systems as stable as possible for longevity. However, this recommended fix is a fair amount cheaper and seems to be just as good in the end. I guess my questions are:

    Will OC this system rather than buying half of it OC (I didn't know that's what I was getting TBH) make it any less stable?

    Where is a good place to learn how to OC this stuff (If the answer to the first question is no)?

    I'm actually really considering OC now because your fix will bring down my price, and I was already over my budget ($1000).

    Recommendations & Notes:
    Lmeow said:
  • Want a fancier case? :D  Go for the Corsair Obsidian 700D for $179.99 after $40 rebate, only $20 more than the SS.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • I don't particularly care for the look of this case all that much. It seems very plain Jane. Also, I like the front side fan control on the front of the other one. Is this a better case, or is it just the look that you like better?

    Lmeow said:
  • I suggest the ASRock 870 Extreme3 instead of that board, simply because it is based on a newer chipset and offers pretty much the same features.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • This one confuses me. The only real "downgrade" I see in this board is the loss of a PATA connection (which really only means that I won't be able to use the 3rd HDD I have that I don't use anyways). If the chipsets are upgrades, and every other spec is either equal or greater, why is this board $30 cheaper ($35 After MIR/Instant Savings)? Am I really paying that much more just for the name (Gigabyte)? Also, I've never used an ASRock motherboard and there are only 4 reviews of it on newegg (granted they are all 5 star reviews). Is there a reason this board doesn't seem to be as popular? I hope your recommendation is better/equivalent for me not only because it's cheaper, but I wasn't digging the baby blue color of the Gigabyte board (not that that's a big concern, but every little bit helps).

    Lmeow said:
  • Might as well get the AMD Phenom II X4 955, not much point for paying an overclock which involves upping the multiplier by one, and you're overclocking anyway.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • My only concern here would be to ask if OC the 955BE vs not OC the 965BE will affect overall stability. I would gladly pay the extra $20 if it meant allowing the CPU to run at stock speeds with less heat. Also, if I did decide I really liked OC in the future, would I be able to push any noticeable extra out of the 965BE?

    Lmeow said:
  • A better CPU cooler is the Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus. It is overpriced on newegg currently however, you can get it for $20 less at other retailers.
    http://www.frys.com/product/5971334?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN...


  • This is the original cooler I had picked (I was not going to grab it on newegg though because of the price difference), but I read quite a few reviews that said it was difficult to install. People were pretty mixed on it actually being difficult, and the problem being the user though. A lot of reviews said "difficult to install, but all my own fault" and others just said "Pain to install, works fine, but a pain". I ended up with the Zalman because it seemed good enough, looked good and didn't have any reviews saying it was hard to install.

    I think I'll switch over to this one simply because it gets such a great review from everyone (even the ones who say it's hard to install) not to mention I completely forgot that this one is $45 cheaper because I was looking at newegg. I'll probably switch to Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste though just to try it out.

    Lmeow said:
  • The HD 5850 TOXIC is an overclocked HD 5850 Vapor-X which you can get for $30 less, and overclock it yourself.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • The same question I had on the CPU applies here. If I OC this one myself, am I losing any stability/longevity? $30 is a small price to pay for a board that is more stable and lasts longer.

    Lmeow said:
  • 850W is overkill. The Corsair HX650W is more than enough for an overclocked Phenom II X4 & HD 5850 CrossFireX system, and is much cheaper ($70 cheaper after rebate!).
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


  • This one I knew was overkill, but I like to keep my PSU's (along with everything else) running at half of what it can for future-proofing and stability. However for the $60 (not 70, but close enough) difference, I'm really considering this suggestion.

  • I've got that DVD burner and it is quite nice. The retail versions don't offer much more, just a white faceplate and Nero 8 Essentials - the OEM versions might offer something similar.

    As you can see, stability and longevity are critical to me. I know that when you OC (RAM, CPU, GPU in this case), or make a component run closer to it's peak (in the case of the PSU) you are not only creating additional heat that must be dealt with, but you are essentially shortening the lifespan, and eventually daily quality, of a component. I like to make sure my stuff will last me as long as I need/want it to, and that over time it won't degrade from pushing it too hard.

    I really am impressed at the total $185 savings from these suggestions though as it brings me just under my original goal of $1000 budget (from $1168.92 to $983.92). However, if the lifespan, stability, and heat (and in the case of the mobo brand name which SOMETIMES results in longer life just from a higher quality product, although I don't know much about ASRock) end up being an issue, $185 is a small price to pay in the course of the life of a computer.

    Seeing as how I don't ever OC though, I really don't know how much I'm actually affecting any of those things. I know that people OC all of the time. I also know that a lot of the people who do are either constantly upgrading (which makes lifespan less important) or seem to have stability issues (although it could just be that only the people who have problems because they're doing it wrong are the ones bothering to post anything negative).

    I guess it boils down to me not being all that savvy when it comes to OC'ing to make a good judgment call on it. Actually my lack of knowledge has gotten pretty extensive since I last built a PC over 4 years ago, which is half the reason I'm on here anyways.

    I'm really considering these suggestions though. Even if $185 is a small price to pay over the life of a computer (I make that much in a single day at work, although I do have bills to pay and a wedding to pay for soon making my actual spending money considerable less than that), every little bit still helps. Not to mention one day I'd like to have a shiny new SSD (WD SiliconEdge Blue SSC-D0128SC-2100 2.5" 128GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - OEM), and this puts me one step closer to owning it without all of the guilt.

    I can't thank you enough for the help! If I can just get the few questions/concerns I have answered I can finally put this build to rest and actually buy it!
    !