New Gaming Build - $2500

Please review my new gaming build. I am a novice so any feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


BUDGET RANGE: $2500 including monitor

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: storage hard drive, speakers, OS, BluRay player







ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Along with the obvious gaming performance a very quiet computer is important to me. Also, I know I went overboard with an expensive mouse but I have been very happy with Saitek products in the past and just wanted to have some fun with a cool mouse.

2 X GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - $459.98

CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - $169.99

Intel Core i7-930 Bloomfield 2.8GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80601930 - $289.99

Saitek Eclipse II Illuminated Keyboard - $52.99

Intel X25-M Mainstream SSDSA2MH080G2R5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - $199.99

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory - $189.99

ASUS P6X58D Premium LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $309.99

ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 2 Ball Low-noise Blue LED CPU Cooler - $59.99

Antec P193 Gunmetal Gray Aluminum / Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $184.99

Saitek CCB437090002/02/1 Black Wireless Laser Cyborg R.A.T. 9 Mouse - $129.99

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $9.99

Dell UltraSharp U2410 Monitor - $499.99

Total Build Cost - $2,557.87
21 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Not quite. I'll leave out the monitor, since I'm not great at that. I do think that paying $500 for one is insane, especially since it's not even a 2560x model. I'll throw a standard recommendation in at the bottom, just for a comparision.

    Here's what I'd build:

    CPU/Mobo: i7-930 and Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R $484. Cheaper board, but still loaded with features. It beat out the Asus Premium according to Tom's.
    RAM: Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 2000 mhz CAS Latency 9 $175. Faster, cheaper.
    GPU: HD 5970 $650
    SSD: 2x Intel X25-M 80 GB $400
    Case: HAF 922 $90. A bigger/better case, though it's definitely ugly.
    PSU/Optical: Corsair 850W Modular and free SATA DVD burner $150 after rebate
    HSF: Noctua NH-D14 $90

    Total: $2,039. Could save $50 by dropping the Noctua to a Sycthe SCMG-2100. It's still a great HSF. If you absolutely must buy an overpriced gaming keyboard and mouse, leave out the second SSD.

    Monitor: Asus 23.6" 1080p $180 after rebate. I believe this one is actually a 24" model, or it's as big as Asus's 24" model. For the $500, you could almost get three of these for Eyefinity.

    Or if you insist on a 1920x1200 model: Asus 25.5" 1920x1200 $260 after rebate.

    If you get either of those, I'd consider dropping out the second SSD (possibly both, depending on the keyboard/mouse) and picking up a second 5970, but that'd be certifiably insane without at least three monitor and unnecessary without six.

    EDIT: Adding up the costs for the dual 5970s puts the total at $2,469 without the SSDs, but with the 1080p monitor. It's possible there are some tweaks to be made to the build to make it a little closer to realistic. I know you could shave $25 off with this RAM: Corsair XMS3 3x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7. It's also possible some better combos exist. I didn't really look that hard.

    Getting three of the 1080p monitors brings the total to $2,599, so a tad over, especially with needing a keyboard and mouse. That is an option though. The 5970 will certainly handle playing everything with max details with three montiors, and it'd be awesome to game on.
  2. Thanks for your comments MadAdmiral.

    I read the same article where Toms Hardware recommended the Gigabyte board over the ASUS. However, I have had ASUS boards in the past and I'm used to the interface so I'm partial to them. I am also a novice at overclocking and from the reviews I have read it seems like the ASUS is easier to use for novices. That being said I may switch to the Gigabyte board if you think it's a much better choice.

    Good advice on the RAM.

    As far as the monitor, I have read that the IPS panel monitors were much better and that's why I chose the Dell Ultrasharp even though it comes at a premium price. I originally wanted a 2560x model but couldn't find one that fit my budget. Do you have any recommendations for a 2560x model?

    I really wanted to build an SLI or Crossfire system. I know the 5970 is a beast but sticking with the dual card theme, do you think the dual 460s is a good choice?

    Do you see any obvious bottlenecks in my build?
  3. I'm not much of a monitor guy. From what little I know, IPS doesn't really make a difference for gaming. If you were doing a lot of very detailed photo editing or video editing work, it would be a very good idea. However, for gaming, it's not that useful. Of course, I could be wrong about that.

    Dual 460s is an alright choice. I never think it's a good idea to start a build with dual cards simply because there is no upgrade path then, or at least not a good one. That said, the 460s in SLI perform great.

    I don't see any real bottlenecks. Obviously, gaming performance is always going to be held back by how much graphics muscle you've got, and 460 SLI is pretty far up there. For raw power, it contends with the 5970 at stock. The 5970 should overclock better and still has the option to add a second and get good scaling (65-70%), while there really isn't any where to go after the second 460. A third won't get very good returns (I think it's around 55-60%), which is largely why I recommend the 5970, despite the added cost.
  4. You could switch to a more modern SSD. Any of the SandForce-1200 controller SSDs will provide better read & (MUCH better) write performance than the Intel X25-M. This includes the OCZ Agility2/Vertex2 (but not the original Agility/Vertex), Mushkin Callisto, G.Skill Phoenix Pro, the Corsair Force, and probably a couple more.

    Right now, the G.Skill Phoenix Pro and Corsair Force 60 GB drives are the least expensive, at $155. At 120 GB, the Mushkin Callisto is the least expensive, for $260.

    Other than that, I think MadAdmiral's build is pretty great, as always.
  5. coldsleep definitely knows more about SSDs than I do. I haven't really paid attention to them yet because they're way too expensive to be included in most builds.
  6. The Intel X25-M is still a great buy if you only need 80 GB. If you can get away with less, or you need more, it's mostly the SandForce drives right now. Unlike other SSDs, they don't lose speed between different size drives (120 GB vs. 60 GB, etc.), which is a pretty big deal. The X25-M is still reasonable to recommend at specific price points if you need to fit an SSD into a tight budget, but in general it's outclassed by the more recent stuff.

    If you have money to burn and you want a lot of capacity, the 256 GB Crucial C300 SATA III SSD is technically the fastest out there, but it is $600ish. Unfortunately, the 128 GB version is usually priced about the same as the 120 GB SandForce drives, but the SF drives tend to perform a little better on most measures.
  7. 460 SLI would be my preference over a 5970, outperforms it for ~200$ less.

    IMO the IPS monitor makes sense, especially for your budget, they keep their value much better than high-end vidcards like the 5970 to say the least.

    However, there's currently a sale for the monitor one step down for the 24 -- the u2311h for 230$ IMO getting 3 for Nvsurround would be a better gaming setup by far.

    The PSU/OD combo.

    This is 105$ and just as nice, while a litescribe OD (nicer) is only 20$

    Saves you 30$.

    RAM is meh, I would not buy 1.65 voltage ram. 1.5 voltage or less is where the price/performance for overclocking is, as 1.65 is worse for your IMC's lifespan/CPU overclocking.

    Dual SSDs makes little sense when the 25nm refresh is set for late Q3.
  8. Thanks for the comments on the SSD coldsleep. Very helpful. I don't need any more than 128GB but I love the idea of SATA III. I think I am going to replace the SSD in my current build with this SATA III drive. What do you think?

    Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC128MAG-1G1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    Also, if anyone else has comments regarding the monitor I would appreciate it. I'd love to find a good 2560x option for less than $500.

  9. Sp12, do you have a recommendation for which 1.5 volt or less RAM is best for my build? I admit that of all the components I am least comfortable with the RAM choice. I have never fully understood the speeds and timings and there are too many
  10. Best answer
    I have that SSD myself, but like I said, at that size, it doesn't really beat the SandForce drives. There weren't really any/many SandForce-1200 controller SSDs out when I bought mine, otherwise I probably would have made a different choice.

    I'd suggest reading this Anandtech article about the C300's value compared to other drives. If you still want to buy the 128 GB C300 after reading that article, go for it, but I'm going to reiterate that it doesn't really offer better performance in most areas.

    sp12, that is an excellent deal on the 23" Dells. I've been thinking about getting 3 IPS monitors myself, but a) don't have the space for the right now, b) have to shell out for a new set of tires. Oh well, next time around.

    If you're looking for solid low-voltage RAM, check out the G.Skill ECO Series. Generally the 1600 MHz CL7 RAM is available at a good price.
  11. First I want to know what your thoughts on the monitors are? There exists no 2560 monitor for less than 1000$. Those Dell 23in IPS I linked are normally 330$.

    I'm a fan of the G.skill ECO series.

    Timings have minimal impact on performance, as does speed. However, 1600 speed is generally the most flexible in terms of dividers for overclocking, while some games like L4D2 do see a small performance increase past CAS timings of 9.

    460 sli vs. 5970:

    And if you do go for 3 monitors, the 460s end up WAY (20%+) ahead.

    Cheapest 5970: 650$

    Nice 460: 230 each or 460$ total: Can be had for 200$ if you're willing to go with worse models.

    190$ cheaper (at least) for very competitive performance, beating it sometimes, losing sometimes, and matching often.
  12. Sp12, I didn't realize that 2560x monitors started at $1000 or more. That would definitely blow the budget so I'm just going to stick with 1920x1200. Thanks for clarifying.
  13. IMO for a 2500 build.

    i7-930 270$
    GA-X58A-ud3/p 210$
    G.skill eco series 4GB 102$ *2 (could be dropped, no real issues with dual channel however)
    XFX BE 850watt PSU 104$
    Generic litescirbe OD 20$
    Crazy mouse+keyboard 53+130$
    Haf 922 90$ (or other nice case)
    Noctua 14D 75$
    Samsung F3 1 TB 75$
    Corsair 50GB SSD 150$
    2x 470 540$ OR 2x GTX 460 420$

    3* Dell u2311h for 690$

    2436$ with 3 monitors.
    Nvidia cards are better triple monitor cards.
  14. The problem with that build is that you've got 8 GB of RAM, and it's not triple channel.

    Also, Intel builds only have issues with RAM above 1.65 V, not 1.5 V. Pretty much every kit except OCZ ones run at 1.65 V normally.

    As stated in many, many threads, the 460 SLI is nice, but it doesn't leave you any where to go. I'd stick with the 5970, especially since it can overclock higher. In my opinion, paying the extra money for the 5970 to get the future proofing is definitely worth it.
  15. And? It'll just run in 2+2. The performance loss for triple-->dual channel is less than a percent.

    Yes and no. 1.65 volts limits your overclocking. Voltages above 1.65 are dangerous.

    5970 has no future more future than a 460. Quad/Tri fire does not an upgrade path make. Not that SLI does either.
  16. Yes it does. As I've said several times before (might not be in this thread though), the 5970 scales about 65% with a single 5870 (TriFire) or a second 5970 (QuadFire). I'm not positive as to why this is, but my guess is either that it's because ATI doesn't lose scaling over multi-cards (unlikely) or that the 5970 isn't really treated as Crossfire to begin with.

    As for dual vs. triple, it's a little more than that. I'd still not spend an extra $30-50 to get an extra 2 GB of RAM that will slow it down and be completely pointless. Might as well just spend the $150 (1600 mhz CL 7) or $175 (2000 mhz CL 9) for triple channel.

    As for the RAM, the limit on Intel boards is 1.65V period. While it's nice to have that head room on voltage, you'll rarely need it. Especially if you've got a set that runs at 2000 mhz CL 9 at 1.65 V, you really don't need to go over the recommended voltage. You won't be able to push the sticks any further than that and won't need to either. You'd have an argument if the sticks were 1333 mhz 1.65V ones, but not at any speeds higher than that.

    It's rare that you even need to push sticks above 1600 mhz. I recommended the 2000 mhz ones because they'll run at CL 6 at 1600 mhz and are cheaper than many of the kits rated at 1600 mhz CL 6 (Mushkin's Enhanced Redline and G.Skill's Tridents, mainly).
  17. From a strictly price/performance standpoint, the ECO is matched with the 150$ (32% less expensive for 33% less, but faster ram) kit and 175$ kit. It won't slow you down (more than a percent), but I agree 4GB is more than sufficient for gaming.

    IMO, it makes just as much sense to get 1 kit or 2. There's little to no performance benefit from triple channel. There is, however, a disadvantage for running a mismatched set (2+1 or 3+1).

    1.65 is the limit, but it's nice to be under, especially for CPU overclocking. IMO overclocking ram is silly as it's so volatile and has so little impact on performance.
  18. Best answer selected by jsimpso55.
  19. I have updated my original build based on everyone's feedback, some additional research and very good timing on the i7 950 price drop. See below and thanks for everyone's help.

    Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor BX80601950 - $299 As I mentioned, due to the price drop this seems like a much better choice than the 930.

    MSI Big Bang-XPower LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $299 I'm interested to hear some feedback on this motherboard because I don't see too many people using it in new builds. However, I read a really good review of it on HardOCP and Tom's gave it a pretty good review as well. I'm not planning to use the 4 x SLI which is one of the only negatives that Tom's mentioned.

    CORSAIR DOMINATOR 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model TR3X6G1600C8D - $185 (after mail-in rebate) I know that several people suggested different RAM but it doesn't seem like anyone agrees on which one is best. I like the Corsair brand and have had luck with them in the past. I still don't feel great about this choice though.

    2 X GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card - $460 I know that many people are choosing the Palit 460 over this card because the Palit is overclocked and has been very fast in tests. However, the Palit brand and warranty scare me. If anyone would like to comment on these two cards I would appreciate it. Also, I did consider the 5870 but I like the performance of the SLI 460s better and I really wanted to experience SLI. I know the 5870 gives me more flexibility for future proofing but I'm ok with that.

    CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - $150 (after mail-in rebate) This one seems like a no-brainer. Everyone seems to agree that this is a great power supply.

    Crucial RealSSD C300 CTFDDAC128MAG-1G1 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - $276 I know that the Sandforce SDDs are a bit faster but I really wanted the SATA 6 and couldn't afford the 256GB version which performs even better.

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive - $75 Decided to add this to the build for more storage. Honestly didn't do much research on this one because so many people have it in their builds that I figured it must be good.

    LITE-ON Black Blu-ray Disc Combo SATA Model iHES208-08 LightScribe Support - $99 Tom's is very high on this drive but I read a lot of bad reviews on Newegg. Is there a better option for a DVD burner/Blu Ray player?

    COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case - $199 My only concern with this case is noise. I really want a quiet case that can still effective cool an OCed system. Anyone that has experience with the HAF X please comment on noise levels. I am also very intrigued by the Antec Dark Fleet line of cases but haven't been able to find many good reviews.

    ZALMAN CNPS9900ALED 120mm 2 Ball Low-noise Blue LED CPU Cooler - $75 I like the look of this Zalman better than the Noctua D-14 and it still got better than average reviews on cooling. Plus is has a VRM fan which I really wanted.

    Dell 24 inch UltraSharp U2410 Monitor - $450 (with Dell coupon) If I could spend less on a 24 inch monitor with 1900 x 1200 resolution I would like to but I can't seem to find a great recommendation on a monitor.

    Total Price $2567
  20. Bump for additional comments on my updated build before I actually make the purchase this weekend. I'd love some feedback on my updated motherboard, case and the GPU question.

  21. The Gigabyte UD3R should do just fine, for $210.

    For memory, I would get the least expensive 1600 MHz CL7 or 2000 MHz CL9, either way, it's not the Dominators. Lower voltage is nice too, for overclocking. This G.Skill PI series kit would be my choice at $150. It's 1600 MHz, CAS 7, and runs at 1.5V, all for $150.
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