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Seeking advice on my potential gaming build

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November 21, 2010 5:20:46 AM

I'm trying to decide on my final build I think I've got things pretty well narrowed down but I wanted to post here before I buy anything to see what other people think. Budget is beteeen 1,000 and 1,200$, the cheaper the better. Main things I'm wondering are #1) Will everything work well together and be compatible? #2) Are there any obviously clear cut better options for pieces that I have picked? #3) I keep going back and forth on picking either an Intel Core I7 950 or AMD Phenom x4 970 Black. The Intel seems to blow it away on all the benchmarks I've seen, but then again the AMD is $100 cheaper. So I guess what I'm wondering is the performance increase worth the extra $100? #4) Radeon 6870 vs. Nvidia GTX 470. Right now I'm leaning towards the Radeon, I can't really say why though. #5) Is the Ram I've selected a good choice and will it work well with everything else?

As for uses it mainly will be used for games (WoW, Civ 5, Diablo 3), general web browsing, a little audio editing/encoding, and some photo/video editing. Strong multi tasking performance would also be a big plus. I'd also prefer to buy everything either from Amazon since I have Prime and they don't charge sales tax or as a last resort at Fry's locally.

Resolution will 1920x1080, most likely only 1 monitor, I also don't think I'm planning on playing any of the current games that take advantage of physx.

Overclocking is a maybe and so is Crossfire but I definitely at least want the capability to do Crossfire in the future.

Here is what I'm currently looking at:

CPU - Intel Core i7 950 3.06GHz 8M L3 Cache LGA1366 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002A6G3V2/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

Cooler: Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002G392ZI/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=A2EUTVCJXLAJ4K )

GPU - XFX Radeon HD 6870 1 GB DDR5 Graphics Card (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0047ZH7GE/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER)

MOBO - Gigabyte LGA1366 SATA3 ATI CrossFireX ATX Motherboard GA-X58A-UD3R (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0034CSTFY/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

RAM - Corsair 6 GB PC3-12800 1600MHz 240-Pin DDR3 Core i7 Triple Channel Memory Kit (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002LZ1FPG/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

HD - Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0036Q7MV0/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

PSU - Antec EarthWatts 750 Watt ATX12v v2.3 Power Supply Unit (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001QZMBEQ/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

Case: NZXT Apollo CS-NT-APOLLO-U SECC Steel Chassis ATX Mid Tower (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000TUNKJ4/ref=ord_cart_shr?ie=UTF8&m=ATVPDKIKX0DER )

Still haven't picked a CD/DVD drive yet, but I'm not too concerned there since they are only like 20$.

What do people think about this setup?

Best solution

November 21, 2010 1:29:38 PM

get the samsung spinpoint f3 1tb, its faster and cheaper.

heres a much better cooler for $48. http://www.amazon.com/Scythe-Mugen-CPU-Cooler-Processor...
or get the hyper 212 + for $30
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November 21, 2010 9:37:39 PM

vindictive said:
get the samsung spinpoint f3 1tb, its faster and cheaper.

heres a much better cooler for $48. http://www.amazon.com/Scythe-Mugen-CPU-Cooler-Processor...
or get the hyper 212 + for $30



Thanks, I was actually looking at the spinpoint, I'll probably go that way then. Unfortunately the first cooler you recommended isn't available with Prime :(  The second one looks good though, I'll swap that one in instead.

How about my Ram is what I picked any good or is there something better in the same price range? How about any compatibility issues with anything I picked? That's probably what I'm most worried about since I'm just about to pull the trigger on buying these pieces.
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November 21, 2010 9:46:09 PM

Everything looks good, but the Cas of the ram is 9. I'd try to get 8 at the very minimum if you can fit it in your budget.
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November 21, 2010 9:48:35 PM

vindictive said:
Everything looks good, but the Cas of the ram is 9. I'd try to get 8 at the very minimum if you can fit it in your budget.


Thanks I'll look around a little bit, any recommendations?
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November 21, 2010 9:56:34 PM

G.Skill, Mushkin, Corsair. (thats in order of preference btw)
I've never looked for ram on Amazon so I don't know what brands they have.
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November 21, 2010 10:07:43 PM

JackNaylorPE said:
Have you checked the build section ? I'll bet there's a dozen $1000 - $1200 build that have been posted in the last 2 days:

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/298691-31-1200-gaming...

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/299225-31-1000-1200-g...

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/298566-31-gaming-buil...

Check these and the others out, I'm sure you'll come up with a lot of ideas.



Thanks! Yeah I've taken a look at them but it seems like none of them use the cpu/mobo combo I'm looking it (right now I'm almost 100% certain I'm going with the combo I listed unless there is something seriously wrong with them) and most of them use the nvidia 460 card which I'm not considering either.
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November 21, 2010 10:10:27 PM

vindictive said:
G.Skill, Mushkin, Corsair. (thats in order of preference btw)
I've never looked for ram on Amazon so I don't know what brands they have.


I think I've seen all of those on Amazon, stupid question probably but how do I go about finding the CAS? It doesn't seem to be listed on most of the product pages.
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November 21, 2010 10:13:47 PM

Cuz amazon sucks. But on the one you linked it was in the description not the product specs.
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November 21, 2010 11:22:28 PM

Get the 2nd one.
its weird that its cheaper than the first one but faster.

8-8-8-25 = Cas 8
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November 21, 2010 11:44:33 PM

vindictive said:
Get the 2nd one.
its weird that its cheaper than the first one but faster.

8-8-8-25 = Cas 8


Yeah unfortunately it looks like it doesn't ship for 2-4 weeks so I guess that one is out of the question. I'm going to take a trip to Fry's and see what they have tonight, hopefully they have the same Mushkin.
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November 22, 2010 12:11:26 AM

What states are Fry's in? I keep hearing about them on here.
I've never seen a fry's or MicroCenter in Florida (I know micro isn't here).
We have tigerdirect, which means I can't buy online from them because just for a processor I get taxed from $209 to like $225.
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November 22, 2010 12:16:33 AM

Fry's has about 30-40 stores and is largely out west, with a number of stores in Texas, and a few in other states. Microcenter is kind of all over, but only has about 20 stores.
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November 22, 2010 12:25:16 AM

Closest one is GA.
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November 22, 2010 1:14:23 AM

Yeah Fry's is mainly out west, I'm in Northern California so unfortunately no Microcenter within 100 miles.

Just got back from Fry's and it looks like they have a special combo price on the cpu and mobo I had listed for 450 + tax, should be about 13$ cheaper then Amazon when it's all said and done so that was good, they didn't have the Apollo case but they had this one that is supposed to be good: Cooler Master 912 HAF (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B003ZM7YTA) Any opinions on that case?

No dice on the Samsung Spinpoint 1tb though they claimed it was new and wouldn't be in for a few weeks so I'll have to keep looking I guess, I'm reluctant to get it from Amazon since according to customer reviews they ship Hard Drives pretty poorly.

As for RAM they don't carry G.Skills or Mushkin but they had some 6gb (3x2gb) 1600mhz CAS 8 Corsair Dominators for 149$. For someone that probably won't be over-clocking or if I do it would probably only be a little bit, do you think the performance increase from cas 9 Corsairs to the cas 8's is worth the roughly $40 price increase?
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November 22, 2010 1:19:52 AM

not that new.. like they should've had the f3.
haf 912 is a great case.

nah, I'd only do it if it was within 10-15$. The dominators have really tall heatsinks though, which might interfere with a CPU Cooler,
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November 22, 2010 1:28:06 AM

vindictive said:
not that new.. like they should've had the f3.
haf 912 is a great case.

nah, I'd only do it if it was within 10-15$. The dominators have really tall heatsinks though, which might interfere with a CPU Cooler,


Yeah it was pretty annoying that they didn't have it, I really want this thing built by Dec. 6 in preparation for the World of Warcraft Cataclysm launch so I'm not sure what to do now, I may just have to roll on the dice with Amazon. I can't really think of any other big chain stores that would sell Hard Drives, specifically the Samsung. I checked Best Buy's site it doesn't look like they carry them.

The only other 2 options I can think of would be to either just grab a different hard drive which I don't really want to do, or else maybe pick up a 64gb SSD drive, that way I could install Windows 7, a few necessary programs and then WoW if for some reason the Spinpoint I order is damaged, of course that adds about 120$ to my price which isn't good.

I'll probably just go with the cas 9 Ram then if it won't make a huge difference.

I really hope everything works because if I have to return anything to Amazon there is no way I can make my Dec. 6 due date.

Thanks again for all your help, I'm probably going to buy most of the pieces tomorrow.
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November 22, 2010 2:05:32 AM

CAS 8 vs. CAS 9 isn't worth $40. You're only likely to see the difference in benchmarks, I wouldn't expect to see any noticeable difference in gaming.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about the hard drive being damaged in shipment. I mean, sure, it could happen, but if it does, you always have the backup plan of heading over to Fry's or wherever last minute if you need to.

If you end up getting an SSD around 64 GB, you should go for any of the 60 GB SandForce-1200 drives as your first option.

Wow, I didn't realize how much the sorting on amazon sucks, though I guess I usually use it to look for specific things, not to sort through a pile of options. Still. I have $300 SSDs in the list when filtering the price to $100-200, come on.
SF-1200 SSDs:
OCZ Vertex 2
OCZ Agility 2
Mushkin Callisto
Patriot Inferno
G.Skill Phoenix Pro
Corsair Force
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November 22, 2010 2:12:09 AM

coldsleep said:
CAS 8 vs. CAS 9 isn't worth $40. You're only likely to see the difference in benchmarks, I wouldn't expect to see any noticeable difference in gaming.

I wouldn't worry a whole lot about the hard drive being damaged in shipment. I mean, sure, it could happen, but if it does, you always have the backup plan of heading over to Fry's or wherever last minute if you need to.

If you end up getting an SSD around 64 GB, you should go for any of the 60 GB SandForce-1200 drives as your first option.

Wow, I didn't realize how much the sorting on amazon sucks, though I guess I usually use it to look for specific things, not to sort through a pile of options. Still. I have $300 SSDs in the list when filtering the price to $100-200, come on.
SF-1200 SSDs:
OCZ Vertex 2
OCZ Agility 2
Mushkin Callisto
Patriot Inferno
G.Skill Phoenix Pro
Corsair Force


Thanks I'll take a look at that list. Yeah I'm just going to save the cash and get cas 9 maybe turn the savings into one of those SSD's! In regards to the shipping thing, according to a lot of amazon customer reviews apparently what they have been doing with OEM "frustration free packaging" hard drives is simply sticking them bare into their standard card board shipping boxes and sending them out. No bubble wrap, nothing to keep them in place or anything so they bang around in the box all the way.
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November 22, 2010 5:10:14 AM

Thanks again for all the help! I just placed half my order on Amazon, planning on picking up the CPU/MOBO combo tomorrow at Fry's as well as the RAM.

In the end it looks like I went with

Mushkin Callisto 60gb SSD - $119.99
Intel i7 950 - Combo with MOBO should be $490 after tax.
Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R -
XFX Radeon HD 6870 1 GB - 254.99

Either the Corsair 6 GB PC3-12800 1600MHz 240-Pin DDR3 or whatever I can find at Fry's should be $99-119$
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB - $65.66
HAF 912 case - $60.99
Antec EarthWatts 750 Watt ATX12v v2.3 - $89.99
Cooler Master RR-B10-212P-G1 Hyper 212 Plus - $25.74

Total - about $1,215.37 after all taxes.

Still need to pick out a CD/DVD drive and buy my OS, but with student discount Win 7 should only be 65$ and the drive shouldn't run more then 20-25$

So all together the grand total should be right about $1,300 which was about 200$ more then I wanted to spend, but I think it will really be worth it especially splurging for the SSD drive to use as a boot drive and there really isn't anything I could do about having to fork over for the OS.
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November 22, 2010 12:05:24 PM

Shin-Etsu TIM for $5 needs to be added for thermal paste for the Cooler or artic silver 5 I believe RadioShack carrys AS5
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November 22, 2010 12:12:26 PM

vindictive said:
Shin-Etsu TIM for $5 needs to be added for thermal paste for the Cooler or artic silver 5 I believe RadioShack carrys AS5


Is thermal paste 100% necessary? I was under the impression that when I removed whatever the default fan that came on the chip I could just re-use whatever was already on it.
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November 22, 2010 12:17:20 PM

I think the hyper 212+ comes with some but not sure, either way you can make do.

The shin-etsu has the best temp drop, but if your not into OCing it won't matter.
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November 22, 2010 12:20:19 PM

vindictive said:
I think the hyper 212+ comes with some but not sure, either way you can make do.

The shin-etsu has the best temp drop, but if your not into OCing it won't matter.



Ok, thanks for the heads up though just in case. Worst case if it turns out I do need some now I know a couple brands to look for and I'm sure I can find some locally in a pinch. If I see either tomorrow when I head back I might just buy some to be on the safe side.
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November 22, 2010 12:26:18 PM

Alright goodluck!
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November 22, 2010 1:50:37 PM

Don't reuse what's already on there. If you're installing from scratch, the thermal paste will be on the stock cooler, which won't be attached to the chip itself out of the box. If you put it together with the stock fan and run it some before installing the aftermarket HSF, make sure to clean off the thermal paste with isopropyl alcohol before putting the aftermarket HSF on.

Many coolers come with their own thermal paste, and there's no problem with using the paste that comes with the cooler. As vindictive mentions, if you're into serious overclocking, you should look into some fancy thermal paste, but you're not going to trash your rig by using whatever paste it comes with.
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November 22, 2010 2:15:14 PM

^thanks, forgot to make it clear not to use the pre-applied stuff with the HSF.
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November 22, 2010 9:09:02 PM

coldsleep said:
Don't reuse what's already on there. If you're installing from scratch, the thermal paste will be on the stock cooler, which won't be attached to the chip itself out of the box. If you put it together with the stock fan and run it some before installing the aftermarket HSF, make sure to clean off the thermal paste with isopropyl alcohol before putting the aftermarket HSF on.

Many coolers come with their own thermal paste, and there's no problem with using the paste that comes with the cooler. As vindictive mentions, if you're into serious overclocking, you should look into some fancy thermal paste, but you're not going to trash your rig by using whatever paste it comes with.


I looked into and I'm pretty sure the cooler I got comes with paste so I should be good there. I ended up getting the CAS 8 Corsair Dominators from Fry's, a friend ended up having an extra win 7 license I could have so I put the extra money towards the RAM. I wanted to get something locally in case I needed to return it (I typically have bad luck with RAM working right) and I didn't really like any of the cheaper options at Fry's. In a perfect world I would have put the extra money towards a bigger SSD instead but it already shipped.
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November 22, 2010 11:47:25 PM

Got another Win 7 code you wanna share :D 
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November 22, 2010 11:49:15 PM

vindictive said:
Got another Win 7 code you wanna share :D 


LOL I wish! It was like pulling teeth to get the 1 I did get that, luckily Christmas was close so I was able to play that card!
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November 22, 2010 11:54:41 PM

I can get the student price. $64 for windows pro edition. *high five*
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December 3, 2010 12:15:51 AM

Best answer selected by jimbodan1.
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