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700-800 gaming rig with upgrade option in a year

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February 23, 2011 5:33:01 PM

Hey guys. This is a great community and I learned a lot by reading through the forums. I've put this build together (this will be my first one) mainly by researching topics like this and modifying the build lists to my own needs and modified prices. Would just like some of you experts' advice on this build.

Approximate Purchase Date: today or tomorrow

Budget Range: 700-800 bucks after rebates, flexible if I could get a big quality improvement

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (Star Wars MMO, competitive FPS, league of legends and other mobas, some RTS) / Movies and media / internet surfing and multitasking / microsoft office use, homework, etc.

Parts Not Required: Got a nice wireless mouse and keyboard and a Dell tv/monitor from a few years ago that will display in 1080p

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Got a coupon for RAM at Newegg 10% off but would look at other places

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: Absolutely. Never done it before but read some pretty detailed guides and chose a case w/ good airflow in expectation

SLI or Crossfire: Yes; a year down the road or so though I think.

Monitor Resolution: Not sure about this. I would expect to go at least 1600 x 1080

Additional Comments: I play sometimes when my gf is sleeping so super loud is not OK, but I'm going to put it under my desk so doesn't have to be silent...

ASUS 24X Burner Black SATA Model DRW-24B3LT LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100312SR Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

AND

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX

Combo deal : http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...


Like I said, right now I'm using a dell combo tv/monitor but 1-2 years down the road I hope to be playing on 2-3 monitors in Eyefinity. I'm graduating this May so will have more of a budget by next Fall so upgradeability is really important. I was planning on OC'ing the processor, the video card, and the RAM so that's why I have the monster power supply.

Thanks a lot for your thoughts guys.

Best solution

February 23, 2011 7:40:26 PM

Easy changes first. Swap the optical for the cheapest available. There is no real difference among brands or models, so don't pay more than the minimum.

PSU: I like Antec's units, but the XFX 750W is a better choice. It's similar in price, but has a lot higher efficiency.

RAM: There isn't any reason to need 8 GB. Drop that to the G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and save $35, and get faster sticks that are better for overclocking. Or drop it to some 1600 mhz/CL 9 sticks for about $40.

Case: I personally think the Rosewill Challenger is a better buy.

Now the big stuff:

I'd really suggest waiting around a month to buy/build. Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs (and accompanying boards) are due to be re-released then. The i5-2500K ($225) absolutely destroys anything AMD has. The boards run about $150-190 (I liked the ASRock P67 Extreme4 best at $150). So it is a bit more expensive, but it's worth it. The i5-2500K is easily 50% more powerful than the X4 955 at stock, and the i5-2500K has been shown to reach 5.0 GHz and be stable. Breaking 4.5 GHz is easy for it.

That would likely mean you need to get a cheaper GPU to afford it. I suggest looking at the GTX 560 first, then the HD 6870 if you still need to save money.

If you can't wait, the rest of the build is fine.
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February 23, 2011 9:00:02 PM

Thanks for the quick reply!

Will do as you say w/ the optical drive and the power supply. That's a big help.

I have 1gb of ram right now and my comp is very slow to handle multiple tasks (dell dimension 8400 super old) so I might have gone a bit overboard with 8gbs. Will 4 be fast enough to run an MMO + google chrome + vent/teamspeak + chat programs + music? That's what I'd like to be able to do.

Challenger seems to have better ratings and more fans so I'll change that as well. Thanks for saving me five bucks.

So yeah, I'm really anxious to get a new computer as I've just about had it w/ the one I have. I've had someone else recommend that I wait around for the i5 2500k. I've also heard that the motherboard problem would only effect 5% of users who use like 3 or more hard drives. Is there any way I can just order this thing anyway? I would only use my 1tb drive and upgrade it later with a big SSD.

Also, would this faster processor give me any advantage in gaming? Forgive my ignorance. My understanding is that most games are run on the strength of the video card, and that processor speed beyond 3.8 in 4 cores would really only be necessary if I were doing really CPU intensive stuff like photo or video editing. Is this correct? I'm wondering whether, for my purposes, the sandy bridge CPU would really be much better or whether its extra speed might go to waste.

Will the GTX 560 run the games I mentioned at max settings? Is it qualitatively "better" than the 6950? And can I flash the BIOS to get more performance like the 6950?

Thanks a ton for your time.
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February 23, 2011 9:07:17 PM

The overclockability of the 560 is really good which is why many people like it. However, stock. The 6950 1GB and 6950 2GB beat it out in any resolution above 1680x1050. For some reason the 560 Ti wins only at that resolution.

CPU-wise, games are getting more and more CPU intensive. That doesn't mean you have to get anything above a X3 450 though. That's only an 80$ proc. Most of the time, a person only gaming will AT MOST need a 955. That's really as far as it goes. The 2500K is just good because of the price on it currently. The reason more suggest the 2500K. It's because 32nm = beast OC's and low temps. The procs of 32nm get up to 4.6ghz only on the stock cooler.

955 would leave you with head room, but not upgradability through the CPU. You'd be able to upgrade GPU-wise with Crossfire. But it wouldn't allow room to move to Bulldozer (AMD's 32nm next month or April). Bulldozer is backwards compatible with AM3 but AM3+ isn't backwards compatible with AM3.

6950 EMPHASIS ON 2GB is unlockable to 6970. Not the 1GB version.
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February 24, 2011 2:12:56 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Easy changes first. Swap the optical for the cheapest available. There is no real difference among brands or models, so don't pay more than the minimum.

PSU: I like Antec's units, but the XFX 750W is a better choice. It's similar in price, but has a lot higher efficiency.

RAM: There isn't any reason to need 8 GB. Drop that to the G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 and save $35, and get faster sticks that are better for overclocking. Or drop it to some 1600 mhz/CL 9 sticks for about $40.

Case: I personally think the Rosewill Challenger is a better buy.

Now the big stuff:

I'd really suggest waiting around a month to buy/build. Intel's new Sandy Bridge CPUs (and accompanying boards) are due to be re-released then. The i5-2500K ($225) absolutely destroys anything AMD has. The boards run about $150-190 (I liked the ASRock P67 Extreme4 best at $150). So it is a bit more expensive, but it's worth it. The i5-2500K is easily 50% more powerful than the X4 955 at stock, and the i5-2500K has been shown to reach 5.0 GHz and be stable. Breaking 4.5 GHz is easy for it.

That would likely mean you need to get a cheaper GPU to afford it. I suggest looking at the GTX 560 first, then the HD 6870 if you still need to save money.

If you can't wait, the rest of the build is fine.


The 6950 1gb is the direct competitor to the GTX560, not the 6870. The HD6950 1gb is cheaper (about $20 with rebates) and faster than the GTX560 in most benchmarks and for about $10 more you can get the 2gb version.
Not to mention there is a 100% chance you can flash the 6950 into a 6970. There is no risk doing this because you can always go back to the regular bios at any time.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4137/amds-gtx-560-ti-coun...
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February 24, 2011 3:14:21 PM

^I was talking about the 6950 2 GB as a starting base, not the 1 GB version. Also, the BIOS flash trick only works with the 6950 2 GB. The other options aren't meant as comparable performance, but the next changes I'd make to get a cheaper GPU. If you can't afford the 6950 2 GB, I'd then look at the GTX 560, then the HD 6870.
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February 24, 2011 5:02:36 PM

Thanks for all the responses. You guys have been a great help. Was able to snag that shell shocker deal for huge savings and used the extra money to upgrade my other stuff. My mmo's and moba's clearly aren't going to need a 6950, upon further research. Here's what I ended up with.

ASUS 24X Burner Black SATA Model DRW-24B3LT LightScribe Support - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6827135221

ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813157198

LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX Black Edition P1-750B-CAG9 750W ATX12V v2.2 / ESP12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX


AND

SAPPHIRE 100290SR Radeon HD 5870 (Cypress XT) 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Eyefinity ...

Combo deal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

I know the case seems kind of silly in that its a sizable expense in relation to the other parts, but honestly its supposedly a bit bigger which I think could be good for me trying to put stuff in for my first time, I look the way it looks, and newegg had a deal on it today so was only like $20 more than the Rosewill.

Anything else you guys would change before I order this? I plan to put a mild OC on the processor to like 3.5 or so and then get a cooler master 212 plus a bit down the road before pushing it to higher speeds.

Oh and sorry, the total is 826.88 after rebates including tax and shipping.
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February 24, 2011 6:58:40 PM

I wouldn't bother with the WD drive. SATA III does nothing for mechanical drives. Instead, grab the Samsung SPinpoint F3 1 TB for a lot less. It's only a touch slower, but will save you at least $25.

I'd also check to make sure that optical drive is the cheapest you can find. There is no real difference between brands or models, so get the cheapest you can.

Those two changes will likely you get you under the $800 budget.
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February 24, 2011 8:39:54 PM

^What they said (Samsung F3 1TB, cheap DVD). Great 5870/955 combo!

Also make sure the Lian case fits a 5870. I think it will.
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February 25, 2011 1:13:54 PM

Ordered everything yesterday w/ the changes to the drive and DVD. Thanks a ton guys. Feel a lot better w/ the advice from this forum than I did with my original build. I'll probably be back here in a few months with OC questions :) 

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February 25, 2011 1:15:04 PM

Best answer selected by evanmayo.
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