Help me pick my next build

Hello everyone,

Long time reader, but first time poster to the forums. My MOBO on my home-built system just crapped out on me, and I'm taking the opportunity to upgrade from my current AMD Athlon 64 X2 6400+ setup to an LGA 1366 Core i7 rig. I accidentally ripped the door off of my old XG Quantam case a while back too, and now the front panel LCD doesn't work anymore, so I'll be building in a new case as well. Hoping to target somewhere around the $1000 price point for the rebuild. I don't exactly have a tight budget, but am looking for "best value" gaming rig (don't plan to do much overclocking now, but may in the future as a cheap "upgrade").

At any rate, I've put down a couple of options for each component along with the price, and wanted to get your guys opinion on which way I should go. I've already got a preference, but thought I'd put it out there for public consumption. See below for the complete list of alternatives, and then vote in the poll for one of each component that you prefer. I've also given the option to vote for "other". If you do that, then please post a comment with your suggestions.

Here are the current components that I'm transferring over to the new rig:

EVGA 01G-P3-1373-AR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) Superclocked EE 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card


1 x Corsair P128 CMFSSD-128GBG2D 2.5" 128GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
2 x Western Digital Caviar SE WD2500JS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Optical Drives:
2 x SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223Q LightScribe Support

I'm pretty sold on going over to the dark side of Intel, but I've had an AMD rig for the past 6 years, so I'm a little remiss to leave them. But from what I've seen, it's pretty clear that Intel has taken over the title for best CPU. Would like to hear your OBJECTIVE thoughts between the two (leaving the fanboyisms at home).

That being said, I'm going to proceed assuming the CPU and MOBO are set (though feel free to suggest alternatives if you have an opinion either way.

$299 Intel Core i7-950 Bloomfield 3.06GHz LGA 1366 130W Quad-Core Processor

$209 GIGABYTE GA-X58A-UD3R LGA 1366 Intel X58 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

So here's the components I'd really like your opinion on:

$399 CORSAIR DOMINATOR 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory


$239 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 12GB (3 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory

I usually buy Corsair, but the cost difference between the two, and the fact that I've heard 1600 doesnt' make that much of a difference over 1333 has me leaning towards the GSkill. What do you guys think?


$169 CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-850HX 850W ATX12V


$129 Thermaltake Toughpower XT TPX-775M 775W ATX 12V



I plan to upgrade my GPU to an SLI setup sometime within the next two years so I want to build in room for expansion with my PSU. The $109 Corsair isn't modular which kind of sucks, but given the other specs is it worth saving the $60? What about the Thermaltake? Let me know what you think.


$139 NZXT Phantom PHAN-001BK Black Steel / Plastic ATX Full Tower


$154 Thermaltake Element V Black Edition Steel Full Tower

I actually like the looks of the NZXT case, and the features on it look spectacular (wire management, tooless drive bays, space, etc.). But the Thermaltake was voted best by Tom's...but not tooless...don't know. Leaning very heavily towards the NZXT. Any other thoughts?

CPU Cooler:

Like I said, I don't really plan on overclocking immediately, but considering I may do it in the future and I've heard the stock heatsink and fan for the Core i7 950 is pretty bad, I've thought about getting an aftermarket CPU Cooler. I'm concerned about space on the MOBO with an aftermarket CPU Cooler, but wanted to see what you guys thought.

$0 Stock Intel heatsink and Fan


$45 XIGMATEK Intel Core i7 compatible Dark Knight


$70 Prolimatech Megahalems Rev.B CPU Cooler (cost includes fan not included)

I could definitely stay stock at first, but how much of a pain woudl it be to install one of these aftermarket coolers at a later date? I'm thinking that would be a mess, which is why I'm considering going toward the "value" option of the Xigmatek. But the Prolimatech is at the top of nearly every review I saw and it's only like $30 more which is pretty small pickings considering the performance difference.

Any thoughts on this? (I ran out of space in the poll for the CPU Cooler)

Thanks in advance for all your help. I know this is a LOT of information, but thought I'd throw it out there and get some feedback from the experts before I dropped $1000-1300 on my next computer build.
11 answers Last reply
More about help pick build
  1. Oh, I forgot to mention that I also use this computer for intensive engineering CAD programs, rendering, and video editing/compiling
  2. Thanks to the few people that have voted. But for anyone picking "Other" can you post a message with what your other suggestion actually is?

    Also, if anyone wants to weigh in on the CPU Cooler issue that would be much appreciated. Thanks again,
  3. 12 gb of ram is super overkill get 6gb 3x2gb modules, 6 gb is more than enough for your use, also dont get OCZ ram, go for some gskill or something, good choice in motherboard and cpu, best cpu cooler price vs performance in my opinion is the coolermaster hyper 212+, if you want to spend more look at the thermalright silver arrow, nooctua NH_D14 or the megahalems etc
  4. sir philus said:
    12 gb of ram is super overkill get 6gb 3x2gb modules, 6 gb is more than enough for your use, also dont get OCZ ram, go for some gskill or something, good choice in motherboard and cpu, best cpu cooler price vs performance in my opinion is the coolermaster hyper 212+, if you want to spend more look at the thermalright silver arrow, nooctua NH_D14 or the megahalems etc

    Thanks Sir Philus. The reason I went for 12GB is mostly because I thought DDR-3 required triplets instead of pairs, and I wanted to leave room for future expandability.

    I have 8GB of DDR2 right now, and even with that, the heavy 3D-CAD applications that I use hold up on occasion. So I didn't want to go down to only 6GB, and anything betweeen 6 and 12 didn't seem to be an option because they came in sets of 3 sticks. I agree that 12GB is more than I need, but 6GB didn't seem to be enough. This way I still have 3 slots open 5 years from now when I'll need more (and hopefully the 1366 socket is still relevant then)

    Thanks for your recommendation on the Coolermaster Hyper 212, I had actually done more research since I posted, and that one came up in my searches as well. So glad to hear someone else confirm that.

    Any recommendations on the PSU or case?
  5. Oh just cleared all the votes for some reason. Dang. Well hopefully people will continue to vote on their picks. Curious to see what the consensus of the majority is.
  6. Links no worky

    Here's a nice modular PSU, Seasonic inside
    CPU cooler:

    For the RAM if you're getting 4G sticks better check with the mobo producer memory list.

    The case is about personal taste, I'm partial to Lian-Li myself.
  7. mosox said:
    Links no worky

    Thanks mosox. Links should work now.
  8. If you're doing a lot of CAD work, I would consider an Nvidia Quadro or ATI FirePro GPU, since they are optimized for CAD-type calculations. Nvidia's new Quadro 600 is only $200, so reviews should be out soon.

    Also, AVOID CORSAIR RAM for your X58 chipset. There have been many issues getting the RAM up to 1600+ MHz (depending on the model) using the i7 CPUs. I have Patriot's Sector 7 1600MHz RAM and it is amazing, but G.Skill and Kingston's HyperX are also good sets.
    As a note: The RAM comes in triplets, and you have 6 RAM slots, so you can either get 2 3x2GB sets or 1 12GB set. It's your call.

    If you're looking for a high airflow case, you'll want a full tower. Something like the Cooler Master HAF 932 or the Raven RV02 (my personal favorite). Lian Li also makes some tasteful (and some tastefully expensive ;)) stuff, but it's pretty good too. At any rate, you'll want lots of fans.

    Stick with a Corsair, Antec, XFX Black Edition or Seasonic PSU. As a note, you'll want at least a 750W. For reference, I have 2 GTX 460s in SLI + OCed in my i7 rig running on a 650W (continuous power) Antec PSU.
  9. Man, 100+ views and only 10 votes? Who would've thought an internet message board without people with strong opinions.

    Thanks to everyone who's helped out so far. Let's hear from some more. Strength in numbers, after all.
  10. $240 vs. $400 for RAM!?! $240. The performance difference is NOT worth $160. Either of the Corsair PSUs will be good, but you don't need 850W at your current specs. 750W is even overkill but will leave you plenty of room to SLI and then some (2x the 460 = 650W). For cooling, another vote here for the CM Hyper 212+.

    Cases are fairly personal, although you'll see a lot of the same recommendations around here, just check out others' threads.
  11. Great. Thanks for the help everyone.
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