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Help w/ first time self-build $1300 gaming PC selection

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August 19, 2010 5:49:21 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP

BUDGET RANGE: $1300 (including monitor, not including mouse/keyboard)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (SC2/WOW/D3 at max settings), internet/movies, word processing/multi-tasking

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I've heard newegg.com is good.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel i-series processor, I prefer nVidia GPU but open to ATI

OVERCLOCKING: No

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Unsure what these terms mean

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080 minimum

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like a case with proper cooling to keep components from overheating (had issues with this in the past), Windows 7 Home 64bit. This will be my first time attempting to build my own machine, so any other advice appreciated. Thanks for the feedback.
August 19, 2010 6:10:04 PM

i7-870 $290 (You can get a i5-750 for $200 and OC it for the same result, but since you don't plan OCing)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2* GTX 460 $360 AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Lian Li case + XFX 650W: $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

EVGA P55 SLI + Seagate 7200.12 500GB $140AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Acer 24 inch 1080P monitor $160:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Windows 7 + 4OCZ 4GB DDR3 1600RAM: $165AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Total: $1225AR

Finally, do you live near a Microcenter?
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August 19, 2010 6:37:38 PM

I do not live near a Micro Center, I am in Juneau, Alaska so unfortunately not a lot of convenience. Thanks a lot for the build input, Timop.

Another question, I consider myself a slight above-average, moderate experience computer user. I have replaced components on my older PCs, but have never built my own system. I have a limited knowledge of current tech used. For someone of my skill level, is building your own machine recommended or should I use a manufacturer?
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August 19, 2010 6:42:48 PM

Laedryn said:
I do not live near a Micro Center, I am in Juneau, Alaska so unfortunately not a lot of convenience. Thanks a lot for the build input, Timop.

Another question, I consider myself a slight above-average, moderate experience computer user. I have replaced components on my older PCs, but have never built my own system. I have a limited knowledge of current tech used. For someone of my skill level, is building your own machine recommended or should I use a manufacturer?

As long as your comfortable with handling computer parts, building a computer is pretty simple. The skills involved with building computers haven't changed much, and configuration is much simpler, Mobos having "Optimized defaults" to load, and Win7 automating driver installs.

If you run into any problems, there are many guides to follow, like http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-g..." target="_blank">this/url]. You could also just post in the forums and I'm sure someones going to guide you through the process.


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August 19, 2010 6:55:54 PM

Some excellent combos found by Timop, though I'd look at making a couple of changes.

There's really no need for the hyperthreading provided by the i7-870. I'd just get an i5-760 for about $80 less than an i7-870. Very few (if any) games make use of hyperthreading.

The Asus P7P55D-E Pro is probably the best P55 motherboard out there right now. It does SLI, and has USB 3.0/SATA 6.0 Gb/s support. The SATA is probably less important, but USB 3.0 devices are already on the market and are likely to become mainstream within a year or two.
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August 19, 2010 7:03:50 PM

coldsleep said:
Some excellent combos found by Timop, though I'd look at making a couple of changes.

There's really no need for the hyperthreading provided by the i7-870. I'd just get an i5-760 for about $80 less than an i7-870. Very few (if any) games make use of hyperthreading.

The Asus P7P55D-E Pro is probably the best P55 motherboard out there right now. It does SLI, and has USB 3.0/SATA 6.0 Gb/s support. The SATA is probably less important, but USB 3.0 devices are already on the market and are likely to become mainstream within a year or two.

the 870 is just for the extra clockspeed, Id suggest him turn of HT actually, but since he doesnt plan to OC, I decided to max out the budget with a faster CPU to help out a bit with CPU intensive games/programs in case he plans to run them.

On the board, I thought about the ASUS, but I figured saving the money on the EVGA was smarter, as he could always get a USB3 add-on once he has the need, it should be cheaper also.

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August 19, 2010 7:18:36 PM

Well, YMMV, but spending $80 for the increase in clock speed doesn't seem that worthwhile to me...they both have turbo boost, which should more than take care of everything. $20, that'd be worth it for me.

I guess I'm saying that I'd take $$ away from the processor expenditure and get a more fully-featured motherboard, as .2 GHz or so isn't going to be all that noticeable in day-to-day usage. Combo with the P7P55D-E and a Ripjaws kit.

USB 3.0 addon cards run $20-30 right now, which is probably about where they're going to stay.

Just pointing out other options. The build is quite good as is, just saying what I'd do if it were my money. :)  My tastes run more towards making sure the build is future-resistant, rather than necessarily getting absolute maximum performance.
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August 19, 2010 7:22:01 PM

coldsleep said:
Well, YMMV, but spending $80 for the increase in clock speed doesn't seem that worthwhile to me...they both have turbo boost, which should more than take care of everything. $20, that'd be worth it for me.

I guess I'm saying that I'd take $$ away from the processor expenditure and get a more fully-featured motherboard, as .2 GHz or so isn't going to be all that noticeable in day-to-day usage. Combo with the P7P55D-E and a Ripjaws kit.

USB 3.0 addon cards run $20-30 right now, which is probably about where they're going to stay.

Just pointing out other options. The build is quite good as is, just saying what I'd do if it were my money. :) 

Thus I also recommended the 750, I would strongly recommend him to do a light OC.

But I think its up to the OP to decide which way he wants, Its really a matter of personal preference now, and your setup is great also. :lol: 
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August 19, 2010 7:33:03 PM

Great feedback guys, much appreciated. I am interested in the USB 3.0 ready motherboard, as I would like to be a little "future resistant".

As far as OC goes, I have very little experience with doing this and don't consider myself much of a power user, the idea of setting up the initial BIOS is already fairly intimidating to me lol ;) .

I looked at the case you linked, seems like a good one, and just wanted to make sure the factory cooling system on it will be sufficient for the hardware I would be putting inside it.

I will also need to pick up some heatsink compound correct? Is there a specific type that is important?

Also, a DVD drive will be important. I do not feel I need Blu-ray capability, so something standard and cheap would be great.
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August 19, 2010 7:44:53 PM

OCing an i5/i7 8XX is fairly easy, there are many guides around and all you really have to do for a modest OC is raise the FSB.
Heres some nice articles: http://techgage.com/article/overclocking_intels_core_i5...
http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/intel_core...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/core-i5-750-overclo...

Don't worry about cooler, for a light-moderate OC, the stock fan+TIM would be adequate, the i5 series doesn't run very hot. Neither does the GTX460s.

If you want a custom cooler anyways, heres a nice one that's not too expensive: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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August 19, 2010 7:48:32 PM

If you get the Asus P7P55D-E Pro, you'll need a hard drive, to make up for breaking the combo Timop found. Either the Seagate 7200.12 or a Samsung Spinpoint F3 at 500 GB or 1 TB would be ideal. $55 and $75 for either brand, last I checked.

If you just go with the stock cooler, you don't need to pick up any thermal paste. It should all be pre-applied and mounted and everything.

Cheapest SATA DVD drive with free shipping - $19.99. You can get one with $1.99 shipping for 1 cent less, either one would be fine.
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August 19, 2010 7:56:36 PM

coldsleep said:
If you get the Asus P7P55D-E Pro, you'll need a hard drive, to make up for breaking the combo Timop found. Either the Seagate 7200.12 or a Samsung Spinpoint F3 at 500 GB or 1 TB would be ideal. $55 and $75 for either brand, last I checked.

If you just go with the stock cooler, you don't need to pick up any thermal paste. It should all be pre-applied and mounted and everything.

Cheapest SATA DVD drive with free shipping - $19.99. You can get one with $1.99 shipping for 1 cent less, either one would be fine.

Tigerdirect has slightly chepaer HDD prices ATM:
F3 1TB $70:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

7200.12 1TB $65:
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

There has been recurring $15 sales on the Seagate 7200.12 500GBs however, if you see one and don't need a 1TB drive, get it over the F3s.
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August 19, 2010 8:04:49 PM

Thanks for the input on the HDD and DVD drive. I was reading through the link Timop provided for the home building, and it mentioned attaching the heatsink to the CPU with thermal paste. Is this step not necessary with the components you have outlined?

I have run into the issue of shipping rates to Alaska, which take things from a nice $5 3-day UPS to a $250 FedEX air fee, which is really going to cramp my ability to support a build of this type. If I wanted to trim the fat in some places, would stepping down the cpu to i5-750 and dropping to a single GTX 460 be the place to do it?
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August 19, 2010 8:13:14 PM

Yes, applying thermal paste and then the heatsink is only necessary if you're adding an aftermarket heatsink (or you have an OEM CPU that doesn't come with a heatsing). Any retail CPU is going to come with the stock cooler already attached.

Yes, that's what I'd cut to bring your price down. You can always order a second 460 later if/when you need to beef up your graphics.
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August 19, 2010 8:22:02 PM

Laedryn said:
Thanks for the input on the HDD and DVD drive. I was reading through the link Timop provided for the home building, and it mentioned attaching the heatsink to the CPU with thermal paste. Is this step not necessary with the components you have outlined?

I have run into the issue of shipping rates to Alaska, which take things from a nice $5 3-day UPS to a $250 FedEX air fee, which is really going to cramp my ability to support a build of this type. If I wanted to trim the fat in some places, would stepping down the cpu to i5-750 and dropping to a single GTX 460 be the place to do it?

It would work, but I would rather take out the monitor($50 to ship) and case ($100 to ship) and buy it local.

Heres a case you can do a local pickup at Wal-Mart: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Antec-Three-Hundred-Case-Blac...
And this monitor also: http://www.walmart.com/ip/Asus-VH236H/11084623

It takes about half a month (or may be a little more), and you'd have to pay taxes, but its a lot cheaper than $150 and you don't have to cut performance.
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August 19, 2010 8:32:43 PM

Seriously, listen to this guy. He is full of good ideas, and I'm just not paying enough attention. Stupid work. ;) 

(I would still drop down to the i5-760 anyway, though.) :D 
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August 19, 2010 8:40:26 PM

coldsleep said:
Seriously, listen to this guy. He is full of good ideas, and I'm just not paying enough attention. Stupid work. ;) 

(I would still drop down to the i5-760 anyway, though.) :D 

Ill agree on that, you'll still pay ~$100 for shipping which ups the cost and since your considering OC, an 750/760 is really going to be a great value. Stretching your budget for a 870 isn't worth it, I just put it there since you had $150 leftover. :lol: 
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August 19, 2010 9:12:02 PM

I can't thank you both enough for your responses, you have been extremely helpful. That is a good call on the larger items being the larger portion of the shipping costs, and that could be very helpful. I think I will attempt the i5-760, and look into getting the case and monitor here at Wally World.

For the Wal-mart links above, that case's fan setup should be adequate? And then I will need to order a power supply that will work, since the other was combo'd with that case. Any tips?

One more question, if I switch to the mobo/ram kit that Coldsleep linked, then I lose the combo with Windows 7. Do I need Windows 7 Premium Full or the cheaper "System Builder" one?
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August 19, 2010 9:20:09 PM

I would just get the OEM/system builder one. It isn't transferable to a new computer, and you can't call Microsoft for support on Windows, but I don't know anyone that has ever had to do that vs. just googling for the answer.

Transferring to a new computer should only be a concern if you expect to build an entirely new computer within a year or so, or 2 within 3 years, where licensing costs might start to become an issue.

EDIT: The XFX 650W Timop linked is quite good. It's $90 and there's 15% off with a promo code (sign up for newegg's promotional email newsletter to be able to use the promo codes).
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August 19, 2010 9:31:36 PM

Laedryn said:
I can't thank you both enough for your responses, you have been extremely helpful. That is a good call on the larger items being the larger portion of the shipping costs, and that could be very helpful. I think I will attempt the i5-760, and look into getting the case and monitor here at Wally World.

For the Wal-mart links above, that case's fan setup should be adequate? And then I will need to order a power supply that will work, since the other was combo'd with that case. Any tips?

One more question, if I switch to the mobo/ram kit that Coldsleep linked, then I lose the combo with Windows 7. Do I need Windows 7 Premium Full or the cheaper "System Builder" one?

The $99 systems builder one is fine, it bounds to your Mobo so its only for 1 machine, though if you switch Mobos you can call MS to reactivate and get a new key. However, are you or any immediate family members a college student? You could save $70+.

For the Antec 300, the included fans are perfectly adequate, the top fan and rear fans exhausts quite a bit of air so the meshed front can intake. For additional cooling you can order 2 140mm fans for the front, but you really don't have to.

Heres 2 alternative PSUs, the XFX linked above is a nice buy since its modular, but that if you can stand the lime-green:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Finally a 750+Win 7 Combo:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
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