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First time builder- suggestions / advice welcome

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November 30, 2010 2:26:56 AM

So I've been asked by a friend to see if I can build them a new gaming system for ~$2000 Australian, because they're sick of using poor quality off the shelf systems. I've never actually built a system from scratch before (I've only upgraded / fixed existing ones), so I figured this would be a good time to learn how without having to invest my own money. I've spent about 10 hours researching with the aim of finding a powerful, balanced build, hopefully with no bottlenecks or unecessarily powerful components.

Here's what I've currently got planned:

CPU: Intel Core i5 760 @ 2.80GHz
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U9B-SE2
Video: x2 Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB 715 / 3600 MHz, in SLi
RAM: 8GB Corsair Twin3X DDR3 1333MHz
Motherboard: Asus P7P55D-E PRO
HDD Primary: 60GB Corsair Force Series SSD 285 MB/s read 275 MB/s write
HDD Storage: 1.5TB Western Digital IntelliPower 64MB cache WD15EARS
Optical: Pioneer BDR-205BK 12X BD R/W
PSU: 850W XFX Black Edition
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922 (x1 front 200mm fan, x1 top 200mm fan, x1 rear 120mm fan, x1 side 200mm fan)
OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit

This system comes out to just under $2,100 Australian- I had to do a lot of shopping around to find the lowest prices though.

My friend already has a decent mouse, keyboard and 22" 1680x1050 monitor.

My main concerns regarding the above would be:
a) Are all the components compatible (pretty sure they are, but I might have missed something)
b) Is the cooling sufficient? I've found it hard to find consistant information about how much heat 2 GTX 460's would generate
c) Are some of the parts - particularly the PSU, motherboard, RAM and CPU cooler - overkill?
d) Are there any system bottlenecks? I'm aware of the 8x / 8x split on the PCI-E lanes, but from what I've read this doesn't create a huge loss in performance, not enough to warrant moving up to an X58 chipset at any rate. The other concern would be if the CPU would bottleneck the 2 460's (from what I've read it shouldn't)
e) Are there any other potential problems / issues with the system that I haven't even thought of?

Any finally...

Would it be possible to overclock the CPU with the above equipment (esp. regarding cooling and power supply measures)? There are a lot of resources on the internet relating to overclocking the i5 760, typically to around 3.8-4.0GHz. I have very little practical experience in overclocking, but am fairly well versed in the theory and methodology behind it- would you recommend a newbie stay away from overclocking, especially if it's not really worth it for the system? I'd be keen to give it a shot if it's not too much of a risk and it provides some benefit- I've gotta learn sometime :) 

Advice, suggestions or comments of any kind are most welcome :) 

More about : time builder suggestions advice

November 30, 2010 2:41:42 AM

I don't see any real problems with your component selection.

The HAF cases have very good airflow through them and, therefore, very good cooling.

Because this is your first build, you should get the system built before you work on overclocking it. Here's two threads that will help:
Step by step directions:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/274745-31-step-step-g...

The following thread is primarily for troubleshooting boot problems, but the first part contains a checklist that should catch most of the noobish mistakes:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261145-31-read-postin...
November 30, 2010 3:21:30 AM

first off ask your friend to see if he can wait till january 5th, Sandy Bridge launches
(Edit: sorry for long post.... lol)


Quote:
CPU Cooling: Noctua NH-U9B-SE2
I'd buy the Hyper 212 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~ 30$
Quote:
HDD Primary: 60GB Corsair Force Series SSD 285 MB/s read 275 MB/s write
IMHO, Mushkin, OCZ, G.skill are all better then Corsair.... I'd get this SSD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~ 129.99
Quote:
CPU: Intel Core i5 760 @
750, no point really to buying the 760....
Quote:
RAM: 8GB Corsair Twin3X DDR3 1333MHz
You don't need 4 gigs of RAM... at least not for gaming... =p... this G.skill 4 gigs of ram would be better.... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~ 77.99
Quote:
HDD Storage: 1.5TB Western Digital IntelliPower 64MB cache WD15EARS
WD is all well and good.... but Spinpoint F3s are so much better =p.... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~ 69.99
Quote:
Optical: Pioneer BDR-205BK 12X BD R/W
add a DVD burner... Blu-ray Burners usually are slow on DVDs/CDs.... just advise...

Quote:
PSU: 850W XFX Black Edition
make sure it is certified... bronze or higher..... Or you CAN get lower... I'd say this system would draw around 650 Watts... including Case fans, case lights, ect.... soo 850 gives you a larger size, so you can upgrade/future proof... =D
Quote:
I'm aware of the 8x / 8x split on the PCI-E lanes, but from what I've read this doesn't create a huge loss in performance, not enough to warrant moving up to an X58 chipset at any rate.
The X8 perfomance loss is, at most 2Frames... nothing you will notice... as far as the X58 goes, if he wants this to last a long time, then I'd move up to X58...
Quote:
22" 1680x1050 monitor.
I'd get a monitor that is at 1080P.... ASUS VH236H monitor http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... ~ 189.99
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Video: x2 Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB 715 / 3600 MHz, in SLi
since it looks like you are pushing your budget, get rid of one of the 460's and tell your friend to buy another later on....

Quote:
Would it be possible to overclock the CPU with the above equipment (esp. regarding cooling and power supply measures)? There are a lot of resources on the internet relating to overclocking the i5 760, typically to around 3.8-4.0GHz. I have very little practical experience in overclocking, but am fairly well versed in the theory and methodology behind it- would you recommend a newbie stay away from overclocking, especially if it's not really worth it for the system? I'd be keen to give it a shot if it's not too much of a risk and it provides some benefit- I've gotta learn sometime
Take it easy and watch your temps... PC wizard 2010, or Speccy... Stress test it with Prime 95, and watch the multipliers with CPU-Z....

Hope that helps!
Related resources
November 30, 2010 6:52:57 AM

Thanks for the advice guys, it's been very helpful. JSC, thanks for pointing me to those threads, I'll definately use them.

Atotalnoob,

Firstly my friend is actually a she (not that I'd expect you to guess that :p  ), and she's not necessarily after the latest and greatest- jus powerful system using whatever fits in the budget. Plus, her current computer is in it's death throes, so there's not much advantage for her to wait for Sandy. I on the other hand am awaiting with eager anticipation :) 

I agree the Hyper 212 will be better if I run the 760 at stock, however general opinion on multiple forums seems to be that in order for it to handle a 4.0GHz overclock it needs to be modified with extra fans- I'd personally rather just buy a better cooler. If I can cut corners in the budget somewhere else, I might even consider getting the Noctua NH-D14- just makes the whole process a little easier, even if it's a little overkill. So my decision here depends on whether I choose to OC, and I'm still undecided.

I've changed the SSD to an OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Capabilities- multiple sources state that performance between the 60GB Mushkin, Corsair and G.Skill is pretty much the same, whereas apparently the OCZ has access to better firmware due to some deal with Sandforce. The OCZ is only $20 dearer where I'm buying from (I'm in Australia, so I can't use Newegg :(  ), so I'll go with that.

In my own system I recently went from 4GB to 8GB of RAM, since I managed to get some for free from a friend, and I did notice a small difference in certain games- you're right though, in that it wouldn't be worth having 8GB for double the price of 4GB. As far as I can tell there's no difference between the Corsair and the G.Skill- same clock and latencies- any reason why you recommend the latter?

The Spinpoint looks pretty good, the main reason I picked WD is because I've always used them and had no problems. A bit of research shows that one of the 2TB WD models has 500GB platters like the Spinpoint, which is seemingly the reason for its superior performance. So I'll ask my friend if she's happy with a 1TB HDD, in which case I'll get the spinpoint. Otherwise I might do some budget fiddling and accomodate the 2TB WD- it'll be slower, but I doubt overly noticable.

Thanks for reminding me about slow BD burner performance- I'd forgotten about that. Will save a bit of money if I can persuade her to not get a Blu-ray burner, I seriously doubt it'd get used much anyway.

The 850W XFX is rated at 80+ Silver, and it gets a very good review from Jonny Guru (www.jonnyguru.com), which seems to be one of the few sites that actually tests PSUs thoroughly. So I'm sure it will be more than adequate.

As for the monitor, she's hoping to get one for her 21st b'day- otherwise it'll be a future purchase I imagine. The Asus looks like a very good choice, although I can only find one store in the country that sells them... between low availability and massive price mark-ups living here can be a pain when it comes to obtaining quality hardware.

With the overclocking, I'm still undecided- but if I do it it will certainly be in ultra-tiny baby steps. The main reason I'm considering doing it is for the experience anyway, so when I build my next system I've got a much better idea of the whole process.

Thanks a lot for your advice, definately some good recommendations there. Sorry for the long reply :p 
November 30, 2010 7:51:16 AM

Quote:
Firstly my friend is actually a she (not that I'd expect you to guess that ), and she's not necessarily after the latest and greatest- jus powerful system using whatever fits in the budget. Plus, her current computer is in it's death throes, so there's not much advantage for her to wait for Sandy. I on the other hand am awaiting with eager anticipation
You can probably expect a price drop on at least the i5s....

Quote:
I agree the Hyper 212 will be better if I run the 760 at stock, however general opinion on multiple forums seems to be that in order for it to handle a 4.0GHz overclock it needs to be modified with extra fans- I'd personally rather just buy a better cooler. If I can cut corners in the budget somewhere else, I might even consider getting the Noctua NH-D14- just makes the whole process a little easier, even if it's a little overkill. So my decision here depends on whether I choose to OC, and I'm still undecided.
Welll.... my friend has an i7 950 @ 4.2 with a 212, he gets around 60C with his... as opposed to mine on a 120MM Liquid cooling 930 @ 3.7 I get 64C.... Your choice... =p

Quote:
I've changed the SSD to an OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Capabilities- multiple sources state that performance between the 60GB Mushkin, Corsair and G.Skill is pretty much the same, whereas apparently the OCZ has access to better firmware due to some deal with Sandforce. The OCZ is only $20 dearer where I'm buying from (I'm in Australia, so I can't use Newegg ), so I'll go with that.
Well, the benches they ahve on Newegg and other sites, are usually based off of "perfect" drives.... soo expect 20MBs difference.... (I knew you were from down under, I just didn't know any sites to link to, so I decided Newegg would be the best....)
Quote:
In my own system I recently went from 4GB to 8GB of RAM, since I managed to get some for free from a friend, and I did notice a small difference in certain games- you're right though, in that it wouldn't be worth having 8GB for double the price of 4GB. As far as I can tell there's no difference between the Corsair and the G.Skill- same clock and latencies- any reason why you recommend the latter?
The G.skill is 1600 MHZ, CAS 8, and you stated above the Corsair was 1333 MHZ, meaning it is probably CAS 9.... Plus G.skill is the forum's RAM.... everyone recommends it (ok now everyone, but enough) and they are a nice company, and the RAM OCs nicely....
Quote:
The Spinpoint looks pretty good, the main reason I picked WD is because I've always used them and had no problems. A bit of research shows that one of the 2TB WD models has 500GB platters like the Spinpoint, which is seemingly the reason for its superior performance. So I'll ask my friend if she's happy with a 1TB HDD, in which case I'll get the spinpoint. Otherwise I might do some budget fiddling and accomodate the 2TB WD- it'll be slower, but I doubt overly noticable.
get 2 spinpoints and put 'em in raid =p..... (nah it won't fit in the budget, but you can always do it later....) I can't see anyone using more then a TB.... sheesh, even I don't and I usually have 500+ gigs of video (the sad thing is it is like 5 minutes... curse you 1080P.... lol )... it is mostly gameplay I am to lazy to turn into montages/commentaries....lol...
Quote:
Thanks for reminding me about slow BD burner performance- I'd forgotten about that. Will save a bit of money if I can persuade her to not get a Blu-ray burner, I seriously doubt it'd get used much anyway.
do they even SELL Blu-ray discs =p (yes I know they do....) a reader would be cheaper... and that is all you are really going to use it for... lol, I have only burned 2 DVDs/CDs in the past 4 years.... and those were Linux OSess for my file server..... (I still can't get it to install the OS....=/ doesn't matter the thing is soooooo old... I just put XP on it....)
Quote:
The 850W XFX is rated at 80+ Silver, and it gets a very good review from Jonny Guru (www.jonnyguru.com), which seems to be one of the few sites that actually tests PSUs thoroughly. So I'm sure it will be more than adequate.
Just makin' sure.... my friend bought a 1k watt PSU that wasn't certified (I was surprised to know they sold ones not certified, especially that large) it can't run anything.... he is RMAing it..... lol

Quote:
As for the monitor, she's hoping to get one for her 21st b'day- otherwise it'll be a future purchase I imagine. The Asus looks like a very good choice, although I can only find one store in the country that sells them... between low availability and massive price mark-ups living here can be a pain when it comes to obtaining quality hardware.
I know! my friend's uncle lives there.... my friend says that you need to be a millionaire to live there.....

Quote:
With the overclocking, I'm still undecided- but if I do it it will certainly be in ultra-tiny baby steps. The main reason I'm considering doing it is for the experience anyway, so when I build my next system I've got a much better idea of the whole
I just recently did my first OC (not counthing the ones at work, were we were trying to break the computers[long story, don't ask].... I took it slow.... started at 930 stock, somewheere in the 2.8 region... went to 3.0, 3.4, 3.6... now I'mma go try and hit 4.0... soon.... hopefully thursday when my case fans come (hurry up UPS... I don't care it has to ship internationally!!!!)

Quote:
Thanks a lot for your advice, definately some good recommendations there.
No problem.... thanks for taking me seriously.... alot of people ignore me, since I editorialise... annnnd behave "unprofessionally" by going "lol" and making faces.... buuuuut IMHO, if you can't have fun..... g'way! =p
Quote:
Sorry for the long reply
nooooo problemo! (I started the long post war anyway =D)


Edit: I htink this thread is the second(wins in longest posts in a row... =D) longest one ever(I've been in).... lol..... the longest had like 200 replies, but the sad hting is, it was me, the Opener, and one of the TH addictz...
!