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< $2100 Gaming Rig (Opinions and Advice Much Appreciated!)

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December 17, 2010 7:41:43 PM

Hi guys, I'm planning on building a new rig by the end of this month. It would be great if I could get some suggestions and opinions from you guys.

I came on to the forum in the past asking questions about my last build and the feedback was amazing. I received a lot of informative and great suggestions. Everything turned out great so coming back here again and seeking advice from you guys seemed like something I had to do. :lol: 

Since I've been saving up money quite some time in order to buy a new rig, I was hoping I could get the most out of it. Although not realistic, I do wish that my build would be a bit "future-proof" as I plan on using it for the next 4-5 years. Also, I love gaming, and am currently playing on 1920X1200 resolution.

I have a basic list in my mind, but please feel free to help tweak it if you find that it is needed. I currently reside in Toronto, Canada so the prices I quote will be in CAD. Since I'll use NCIX to price match, prices below will be using the prices on BestDirect.ca.


CPU:
Intel Core i7 950 Nehalem 3.06GHz --- CAD 289.99

CPU Cooler:
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 --- CAD 79.99

Motherboard:
ASUS Rampage III Formula --- CAD 289.79

Video Card:
2X EVGA GeForce GTX 570 Superclocked --- CAD 379.99X2 = 759.98

Memory:
I haven't really decided about the ram yet. Actually I have no idea about it, and is it worth getting 12GB vs 6GB?

SSD:
Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB SATA3 6Gbps --- CAD 134.58

Hard Drive:
Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB SATA3 6GB/S --- CAD 85.68

DVD Burner:
Not sure about this too. Should I get a Blu-Ray Drive? I don't really plan on watching Blu-ray movies, but will installation discs in the future switch to Blu-ray?

Power Supply:
Corsair Professional HX850W 850W ATX12V --- CAD 170.54
*Will 850W be enough to run my system considering it will have 2 GTX 570 SCs?*

Case:
Coolermaster Storm Sniper Black Edition --- CAD 121.83


In order to make things more simple, assuming CAD to USD is 1:1, the total now is CAD 1932.38, which leaves CAD 167.62 for the drive and Ram.

Thanks in advance guys. I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and giving me suggestions. :sol: 
December 17, 2010 7:55:32 PM

FIrst of all pretty good build.

Here are some changes: Drop down the mobo to a sabertooth x58, unless you know you really need the features of the formula.

You're ssd is also pretty small IMO get either a 120gb or a very fast HDD setup. I run caviar blacks in raid0 and they are very fast, I think it's a better option than a very small ssd and fairly slow HDD.

Yes 850w will be enough.

Blue-ray drive? heck no. If you ever need that just buy it then, no need in wasting money now seeing as prices will only drop(I've had a blu-ray drive for 2years know and.. eurm... I've never used it)

Ram: for gaming and general usage 6gb is technically enough. However some games and apps will benefit from the extra ram espicially compared to the rest of the horsepower you'll be packing. However the improvement isn't worth the price. If you ever really need more ram buy it then as it'll be cheaper.

also forget the superclocked GPUs it's an absolute waste compared to the originals.

ohh and the noctua d14 is a far better cooler than the u12p

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December 17, 2010 8:03:24 PM

Somebody_007 said:
FIrst of all pretty good build.

Here are some changes: Drop down the mobo to a sabertooth x58, unless you know you really need the features of the formula.

You're ssd is also pretty small IMO get either a 120gb or a very fast HDD setup. I run caviar blacks in raid0 and they are very fast, I think it's a better option than a very small ssd and fairly slow HDD.

Yes 850w will be enough.

Blue-ray drive? heck no. If you ever need that just buy it then, no need in wasting money now seeing as prices will only drop(I've had a blu-ray drive for 2years know and.. eurm... I've never used it)

Ram: for gaming and general usage 6gb is technically enough. However some games and apps will benefit from the extra ram espicially compared to the rest of the horsepower you'll be packing. However the improvement isn't worth the price. If you ever really need more ram buy it then as it'll be cheaper.

also forget the superclocked GPUs it's an absolute waste compared to the originals.

ohh and the noctua d14 is a far better cooler than the u12p


Thanks for your suggestion!

A friend of mine did suggest me in buying two 120 GB SSDs and running them in RAID 0. However, that is quite pricey. I was just intending to use the 64 GB SSD as a boot drive at first.

Good advice on the Ram. But what Ram should I get? Corsair? G-Skill? OCZ? And which model? I haven't really looked into the Ram area.

The Noctua D14 is better, but will it fit in the Storm Sniper?

Anyways, thanks again. I will take all of them into consideration. :) 
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Related resources
December 17, 2010 8:18:48 PM

Yeah 2 120gb SSDs isn't the cheapest. Also I find that a little overkill on storage space. A 60gb is easily filled with your OS and like 1 large game/app. A 120gb ssd has enough room for all your apps though(in my case anyways) with some clever data management you can have all your daily proggrams on the SSD. So I stick with what I said before: 64gb isn't worth it IMO then it's better to go with two hard drives in raid0. 120gb is optimal though. There are also some somewhat unorthrodox solutions which can provide both speed and bang for buck when you think outside the box:

HDD boost + 60/64 or even 32gb ssd + 1tb hdd which makes the SSD act as a large cache. Performance is the same as you would have with the ssd and HDD seperate exept the hdd boost organises everything so you'll make optimal use of the 60gb. Very worth compromise between size and speed.

Recently they released something called a hybrid drive which is what I mentioned above with the hdd boost, but at a lower cost and smaller size. Those two means only one thing: you can buy many of them and put them in raid0 :D . http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 2 of those perform like this http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/seagate_momentu... as you can see that's one very fast 1tb partition considering you're regular hdd will as slow and as the 7200.11 in the tests and the ssd which is the fastest will be full with you're OS. Personally I find this a perfect choice, for anyone wanting the speed of an ssd ,but not quite ready to pay the full price of a very fast and adequatly large setup.

Ram brand? G.skill, Corsair, mushkin, kingston they're all good(not OCZ they've been having trouble lately). And which model? Something with heatsinks at around 1600mhz and a CL of 7 or 8 or 9 is more than good enough.

My d14 fits in my element G so yeah I'm pretty sure it fits.
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December 17, 2010 9:43:29 PM

If you're spending that much money, I would consider waiting for Intel's new Sandy Bridge to be released in early January.
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December 17, 2010 9:57:50 PM

coldsleep said:
If you're spending that much money, I would consider waiting for Intel's new Sandy Bridge to be released in early January.


+1 waiting a few weeks if you can
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December 18, 2010 4:53:47 AM

coldsleep said:
If you're spending that much money, I would consider waiting for Intel's new Sandy Bridge to be released in early January.


jasonh8806 said:
+1 waiting a few weeks if you can


Yes I've seen and read some articles about Sandy Bridge.

Forgive me if I'm wrong because I only scratched the surface, the Sandy Bridge that will launch in January 2011 wil be based on the 1155 socket. I think I read somewhere that the launch in January will be aimed at mainstream users. However, if one were to have two or more video cards (enthusiasts), they should stay with Nehalem or wait for the LGA 2011 socket, which will launch in Q3 2011.

But please correct me if I'm wrong.
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December 18, 2010 4:58:23 AM

Somebody_007 said:
Yeah 2 120gb SSDs isn't the cheapest. Also I find that a little overkill on storage space. A 60gb is easily filled with your OS and like 1 large game/app. A 120gb ssd has enough room for all your apps though(in my case anyways) with some clever data management you can have all your daily proggrams on the SSD. So I stick with what I said before: 64gb isn't worth it IMO then it's better to go with two hard drives in raid0. 120gb is optimal though. There are also some somewhat unorthrodox solutions which can provide both speed and bang for buck when you think outside the box:

HDD boost + 60/64 or even 32gb ssd + 1tb hdd which makes the SSD act as a large cache. Performance is the same as you would have with the ssd and HDD seperate exept the hdd boost organises everything so you'll make optimal use of the 60gb. Very worth compromise between size and speed.

Recently they released something called a hybrid drive which is what I mentioned above with the hdd boost, but at a lower cost and smaller size. Those two means only one thing: you can buy many of them and put them in raid0 :D . http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 2 of those perform like this http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/seagate_momentu... as you can see that's one very fast 1tb partition considering you're regular hdd will as slow and as the 7200.11 in the tests and the ssd which is the fastest will be full with you're OS. Personally I find this a perfect choice, for anyone wanting the speed of an ssd ,but not quite ready to pay the full price of a very fast and adequatly large setup.

Ram brand? G.skill, Corsair, mushkin, kingston they're all good(not OCZ they've been having trouble lately). And which model? Something with heatsinks at around 1600mhz and a CL of 7 or 8 or 9 is more than good enough.

My d14 fits in my element G so yeah I'm pretty sure it fits.


Thank you for all your great feedback!

Very interesting information regarding the HDD Boost. I will surely look into that.

And I guess I'll get the D14 instead then.
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December 18, 2010 5:03:47 AM

jedi940 said:
Looks like you're off to a great start. With your budget, I would definitely get an SSD. However, don't get the Crucial you listed. Get one based on the sandforce controller. They are much better and cost the same.

OCZ Vertex 2
http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/227728/OCZSSD2-2VTXE6...


Thanks!

Actually I'm really new to the whole SSD area. I will surely look into the SSD that you mentioned. I think the only review of SSDs that I read was here on Tom's Hardware: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-7-ssd-trim,...
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December 18, 2010 5:07:10 AM

thats a great place to start. That article shows the strength of the ocz vertex against the crucial. While the crucial is not bad, the 256 GB Crucial is much better, but it still doesn't match the ocz.
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December 18, 2010 6:12:55 AM

jedi940 said:
thats a great place to start. That article shows the strength of the ocz vertex against the crucial. While the crucial is not bad, the 256 GB Crucial is much better, but it still doesn't match the ocz.


Not quite true. The 256 GB C300 has faster reads than the SF-1200 drives, and is worth it if you're going up to that capacity (though the SF-1200s are slightly faster at writes). At any lower capacity, however, the SF-1200 drives are the way to go right now. The 64 GB and 128 GB C300s are definitely slower than the 256 GB.

From the conclusion of Anandtech's C300 comparison: "If you’re running Windows 7, have a 6Gbps controller and want a 256GB drive, go Crucial. If you’re running any other OS, are using RAID or can only afford a 128GB drive, go SandForce."

Either way, SSDs are significantly faster than traditional hard drives.

As far as Sandy Bridge, yes, it's expected to be a "mainstream" chip. That means, however, that it's replacing the i5, which is Intel's current best CPU for gaming. Even right now, there's not a signficant difference between multi-GPU setups on 1156 vs. 1366. At most, it's 3-5% difference between 8x/8x and 16x/16x.

The processor performance from Sandy Bridge is expected to be similar to or better than today's i7 processors.

You can certainly afford to buy a 1366 system if you want, though they're strictly overkill for gaming builds. I just think that unless you're pressed for time, Sandy Bridge is one of the infrequent technologies that it's worth waiting to at least see what it can do, whether or not you actually end up buying it.

While Intel's marketing makes nothing truly future-proof, it seems like buying the tail end of a processor that they will be obsoleting in 6-9 months is not going to help the matter. Getting in on the ground floor of a new release should at least allow you to stay current a little longer.
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December 18, 2010 7:00:31 AM

I wouldn't get a 27" monitor. The ppi is pretty bad. 24" is probably th highest you should go for full hd.

I also prefer the 570gtx over the 6970 because of the increased amount of albeit usless features, lower temperatures and obviously lower price(it also performs similarly).

And as I stated above I'd get 2 momentus XT drives in raid0 or HDD boost with a small ssd unless you're going with a 120gb+ ssd.

But I don't understand all the c300 hate?? It's an extremely fast drive. I mean yes it has horrible writes compared to sandforce drives, but reads are far far more important on a boot drive(or so I find anyways). And yes it's slightly more expensive but look at how it dusts the competition. http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/storage/2010/10/12/cru...
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Anonymous
December 18, 2010 8:08:29 AM

@somebody 007 i did not recommend 5970 its 6970
and both the cards are of somewhat equal prices
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December 18, 2010 8:28:46 AM

oops typo there anyways I still prefer the 570 but either will do great.
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December 18, 2010 8:54:19 AM

Vinsanity said:
Thanks!

Actually I'm really new to the whole SSD area. I will surely look into the SSD that you mentioned. I think the only review of SSDs that I read was here on Tom's Hardware: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/windows-7-ssd-trim,...


You want to know SSDs, hit up Anandtech. Anand loves the things and reviews a large number of them. Both the Crucial and Sandforce drives are a helluva lot faster than any HDD.

I will also advise seeing what Sandy Bridge can do. You've waited this long. You can wait another month. With the motherboard budget you're talking, you can even get a high end P67 board with an NF200 for extra PCIE lanes.

However, to be bluntly honest, the difference between x16/x16 and x8/x8 is overblown. [H] looked at it with GTX 480s a while back on a P55 platform, and until they moved up to 5760x1200, they couldn't actually feel any difference (it was benchmarkable though, about 3-5%). They also found that even x4/x4 didn't make much of a difference at 2560x1600. Yeah. x4/x4.
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December 18, 2010 8:56:31 AM

Samsung Spinpoints (f 3 or f4) are better than the Cav Blacks and cheaper too.
2 x 570's is good =)
If you can't wait processor is nice. However, the sandy bridge ones coming out even in January (Middle of the line ones) are comparable to the i7 980X and thus will blow your one outta the water so worth the wait... and probs cheaper than your current mobo/processor. If not you can always get $$ savings on the 950 etc.
120GB SSD is good with the spinpoint.
For Dual 570's I'd recommend a 30" monitor if you can fit it in because realistically theres not much that even a single 570 wont do at 1920x1200 res.
850 W is OVERKILLLLL for 2 570's so keep that if you want, unless there is significant savings on a similiar 750W PSU.
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December 18, 2010 9:05:56 AM

vibhas said:
Samsung Spinpoints (f 3 or f4) are better than the Cav Blacks and cheaper too.
2 x 570's is good =)
If you can't wait processor is nice. However, the sandy bridge ones coming out even in January (Middle of the line ones) are comparable to the i7 980X and thus will blow your one outta the water so worth the wait... and probs cheaper than your current mobo/processor. If not you can always get $$ savings on the 950 etc.
120GB SSD is good with the spinpoint.
For Dual 570's I'd recommend a 30" monitor if you can fit it in because realistically theres not much that even a single 570 wont do at 1920x1200 res.
850 W is OVERKILLLLL for 2 570's so keep that if you want, unless there is significant savings on a similiar 750W PSU.


First off all people let this go caviar blacks are the fastest 7200rpm boot drives out there. F3s are quieter, cooler and cheaper, but not faster. The caviar black also has twice the cache size.

a 30" monitor takes up more than half of this budget so that isn't an option. 3 24" full HDs is quite a good idea though.

And 850w is not overkill. 570 sli + an i7 950 with a decent overclock consumes around 700w or more. Add in upgrades, extra drives, gpu overclock and aging and you're already way over the 750w psu you mentioned.
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December 18, 2010 2:00:08 PM

Yes, the 256GB Crucials are much better but he is looking in the 64GB range. For that that, the sandforce is a better deal.
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December 18, 2010 3:03:39 PM

Quote:
instead of GTX 570 SLI go for 6970 Crossfire
They scale better Proof
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1488/6/


Yes I've read about it. Actually I've been keeping a very close eye on the GTX 570 and HD 6900 series prior to their launch and the reviews after.

Long story short, let's just say that I've had very bad luck with ATI cards. So that's why I'm choosing to go green this time around.
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December 18, 2010 3:20:22 PM

jedi940 said:
Yes, the 256GB Crucials are much better but he is looking in the 64GB range. For that that, the sandforce is a better deal.


Yeah at first I was just planning on getting a small SSD and use it as a boot drive, pairing it with a HDD for storage and stuff.

But now I'm really considering getting a slightly bigger SSD, such as a 128GB one. Or getting to 60-64 GB ones and run them in Raid 0. But from what I've been reading, it seems that TRIM is not supported in Raid and that might cause a problem?

Someone please enlighten me while I go do some reading on Anandtech.
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December 18, 2010 4:38:54 PM

Somebody_007 said:
But I don't understand all the c300 hate?? It's an extremely fast drive.


It's not hate. I actually have a C300 128 GB myself.

It's just that the SF-1200 drives offer better & more balanced performance...and most of the time, they're significantly less expensive. If I had the information now that I had when I was buying, I would buy a SF-1200 drive.

Right now, the C300 128 GB is $275. An Agility 2 is $215, and a Vertex 2 is $220 ($190 after MIR). Spending $60 more for a relatively minor increase in read speeds and much slower writes is not the best way to allocate one's funds.

Like I said in my post though, with either a C300 or a SF-1200 drive, it's going to be fast...you won't be disappointed either way.

And somebody_007, look back 1 article in the storage section on bit-tech and you'll find one of my staple SSD articles: bit-tech's SSD Buyer's Guide, which recommends the C300 at 256 GB, but SF-1200 drives at 120/128 GB. :) 

P.S. From the conclusion of the article you linked: "However, the competing SandForce drives, while slower in real world circumstances and reliant on a compressable workload to achieve their best speeds do have one major advantage now; price."
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December 18, 2010 4:47:51 PM

coldsleep said:
It's not hate. I actually have a C300 128 GB myself.

It's just that the SF-1200 drives offer better & more balanced performance...and most of the time, they're significantly less expensive. If I had the information now that I had when I was buying, I would buy a SF-1200 drive.

Right now, the C300 128 GB is $275. An Agility 2 is $215, and a Vertex 2 is $220 ($190 after MIR). Spending $60 more for a relatively minor increase in read speeds and much slower writes is not the best way to allocate one's funds.

Like I said in my post though, with either a C300 or a SF-1200 drive, it's going to be fast...you won't be disappointed either way.

And somebody_007, look back 1 article in the storage section on bit-tech and you'll find one of my staple SSD articles: bit-tech's SSD Buyer's Guide, which recommends the C300 at 256 GB, but SF-1200 drives at 120/128 GB. :) 

P.S. From the conclusion of the article you linked: "However, the competing SandForce drives, while slower in real world circumstances and reliant on a compressable workload to achieve their best speeds do have one major advantage now; price."


Aaah I see here in Belgium the price is almost the same per gigabyte(-/+ 10euros) so that's why I was so confused.
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December 18, 2010 7:10:41 PM

After thinking more about it, I'm now intending to fork in a couple more bucks and buy two OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Sandforce 120GB instead. Is this a wise choice?

I do plan to run them in Raid 0. However, I've seen many posts regarding problems with Raid and SSDs. The problem that comes up the most is Trim is not supported in Raid.

Will running 2X OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Sandforce 120GB have any other issues or problems at all?

Thanks in advance.
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December 18, 2010 7:20:37 PM

Vinsanity said:
After thinking more about it, I'm now intending to fork in a couple more bucks and buy two OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Sandforce 120GB instead. Is this a wise choice?

I do plan to run them in Raid 0. However, I've seen many posts regarding problems with Raid and SSDs. The problem that comes up the most is Trim is not supported in Raid.

Will running 2X OCZ Vertex 2 Extended Sandforce 120GB have any other issues or problems at all?

Thanks in advance.


I wouldn't do that. without trim sandforce controllers degrade very rapidly(the others not so much from what I heard). And if you want two sandforce controllers in raid0 just get a revodrive(revodrive x2 if you want 4 controllers). From the reviews I've read it seems that the revodrives regenrate very quickly from degradation if they are left to idle for a bit whereas this isn't nearly as much the case as with two seperate sandforce drives in raid0. Thus if you want 240gb of sandforce raid0 goodness I'd get this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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