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April 16, 2011 3:04:53 PM

Hey everyone! Been lurking here for a few weeks while I researched my new pc. A little background: I've never owned a high end gaming pc before, but I've been a PC Gamer for almost two decades now. I have built one computer before, and that was back in high school with the help of a friendly neighbor, so my experience level is not very high. I'm looking forward to finally having a PC that I can turn up the resolution and the settings and enjoy the wonderment!

On to the fun stuff:

Approximate Purchase Date: April 18 - June or July (depends on a few personal matters)


Budget Range: Up to $2500, though I'd prefer to stick as close to $2k as possible.


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (WoW, Starcraft 2, tons of Source games, Shogun 2 Total War), some VMware use, and I dabble in audio and video editing.


Parts Not Required: I need everything (just have a laptop right now)


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: NewEgg, though I'm far from close-minded on this.


Country of Origin: United States


Parts Preferences: Preferably AMD CPU, had some bad experiences with Intel machines. Since I require both speakers and a headset (can't interrupt the wife's viewing of Next Top Model... :ange:  ) please recommend a good 2.1 set of speakers and some kickass headsets.


Overclocking: Definitely not. No experience, and the wife has already stated she would kill me if I screwed up the machine by OCing.


SLI or Crossfire: If it is truly beneficial, but from what I've read, its more cost effective to do single cards and just upgrade more often.


Monitor Resolution: Preferably 1900x1080, might be able to talk the wife into letting me buy a big screen as my monitor. :D 


Additional Comments: Also, if you could include your thoughts on how big of a performance jump I'll see from my current laptop system, I'd appreciate it. Specs are below.

Intel Centrino 2 2.1GHZ
Nvidia 9800m GS 512mb
4 gigs of ram (unknown make/model)

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I've done some parts picking on NewEgg, but this is more theorycraft than actual building, so change whatever you feel like.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 932

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition Deneb 3.6GHz

Mobo: ASRock 880G PRO3 AM3

GPU: Single Palit GTX 560 Ti (FERMI) 2GB

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) I almost went 16GB on this, due to VMware use I'll be giving this thing.

PSU: Antec EarthWatts EA750 I definitely understand the importance of a PSU, lost several frankenstien builds (HP/E-Machine builds with some custom parts) because of bad PSUs, so let me know if I'm not going quality here.

Optical Drive: ASUS Black 24x DVD Writer

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB -- Bare

Monitors: 3 x ASUS VW246H 24" LCD Widescreen

Mouse: RAZER Naga Molten MMO Expensive for a mouse, but I figure I'll have trouble finding a decent mouse, and why not shoot for the best while I'm able to!

Keyboard: Tt eSPORTS Challenger Pro I love the idea of the fan on this thing, my hands get really sweaty when I'm in an intense session, so that would be really helpfu -- I think. Let me know you're thoughts.


Again, the above is just a buddy and I doing putting some theories together and my mind remains open. I'm hoping to run three monitors with 3D Surround, or Eyefinity if you think AMD is better graphically, so I appreciate you input on that matter as well.


Thank you for your time!

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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 3:30:38 PM

The issue you have is that AMD is simply a poor choice to go with right now.

Bulldozer is due to come out this summer and it will NOT work in current AM3 motherboards. So if you want to go AMD, you should wait until BD and socket AM3+ comes out. Issue of course is that with no release date given, you may be waiting into the fall before the gaming oriented chips are actually released.

Also, with a $2k budget, you really should just be going Intel. Clock for clock I highly doubt AMD is gonna be close to performance of SB. Where AMD will regain momentum would be performance per dollar, which at this point is pretty grim since the $100-$150 SB CPU's are arguably a better value than AMD chips at that price point.


Couple other things.

1. If you want to go 3 monitor gaming with 3 1080p monitors, you're gonna need either a dual GPU on a stick or SLI/Xfire.

AMD does NOT support SLI with their CPU's so that effectively means not Nvidia is you go AMD. There are some 3rd party solutions, but without AMD support I wouldn't recommend going that route.

2. You need more VRAM on your GPU's. 1.5gb may not even quite cut it though that one is debatable. Best bet would be to go for Xfire 2gb HD 6950's. That'll give you enough performance to drive your 3 monitors.

3. You should throw in a SSD for that money. The vertex 3 is the best performance right now, but OCZ as a company has been having lots of issue's lately so I'm not a fan of them anymore. Also bear in mind that for a boot drive, you really don't care about sustained read/write, you're not going to be storing tons of huge files on a 120gb SSD. You care more about reliability and random read/write.

With those aspects in mind, I generally recommend Intel SSD's. In this case the Intel 320, 120 GB. Agility 2 and vertex are also possibilities, but again, not a big fan of OCZ. Corsair just lacks the low $/gb of the other two companies, though it's the same controller as OCZ.

3. PSU wise the top company right now is Seasonic. They also make Corsairs high end PSU (AX line) and the XFX black edition line. Best value for PSU ATM would be a 750 W XFX BE for $110 after rebate

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

In general you want a PSU that has active PFC and is 80 + rated bronze at least. Modular also makes life easier in terms of cabling.

4. Overclocking is pretty easy. With SB only thing you'd need to change is multiplier and voltage if you wanna fine tune.

Not sure about BD yet.

5. If you're running VM's and other workstation tasks, then Intel is the better choice right now, though early BD chips (the server oriented ones) may be very good for that task. Though no one really knows for sure right now.

6. Read up a bit on quick sync. Part of Intels Sandy Bridge, this hardware acceleration for encoding and transcoding wipes the floor with everything else out there.

7. Before getting any nonstandard mouse or KB, you should really try it out. These are VERY personal preference devices and one person may love the NAga while a second absolutely can't stand it,
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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 3:39:02 PM

You would only need a 750W PSU for a system with two GPUs, if you are only ever going to be running one card then it is extremely unlikely (IMO) that a good 650W wouldn't be able to handle it.
You can get more modern units, with higher efficiency at 650W for the same price (or less) as that Earthwatts 750W (which will sooner or later be replaced by an Earthwatts Green 750W).
Antec Truepower New TPN-650 80Plus Bronze Modular $80 ($2 shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX 650W XXX Edition 80Plus Bronze Modular $89 ($30 rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 932 is quite a tall tower, so I have slight worries about the ATX12/EPS12V CPU cables being able to be routed behind the motherboard tray to where they need to go in that case. You can buy extensions cable if this is important to you, or buy a unit with a long ATX12/EPS12V cable:
Antec High Current Gamer HCG-620 80Plus Bronze $90 ($6 shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The techpowerup review showed that the ATX12/EPS12V cable on this unit was 63cm, which I'm sure is long enough.

You will need an AMD GPU to be able to run more than two monitors off one card. You would need two Nvidia GPUs to do the same thing. As Banthracis said, performance is another matter if you are going to be gaming across all three displays.
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April 16, 2011 3:51:56 PM

@Banthracis -- You're gonna make me go Intel, aren't you? :kaola:  Well, I suppose I could start looking at the i5 -2500, though, I understand I don't need the 2500k if I'm not going to overclock, right?

@Silvune -- Thanks you for the cabling tip, I hadn't thought about that.


So the Antec Earthwatts is not recommended then? I'll take a look at that XFX and see what I can find there. And, I suppose I'll also give up the tri monitor idea. I don't want to have to SLI/Xfire just for that, if it comes with a major performance boost, so be it though.

I suppose I'll give Intel another shot, and see what kind of build I can get that way. I'm looking at Tom's 1k build from March, might make a few adjustments, since I won't be doing any overclocking.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 3:59:49 PM

I think the Antec Earthwatts 750W is fine if you already have it, but it's quite old and these days there are better options. I suppose if you really needed a ~700W PSU below $100 then you would consider it because there's probably only two or three other options.

The ATX12/EPS12V cable on the Antec Truepower and XFX are 54cm btw.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 4:09:16 PM

Well, one of the oddities is that the -K cpus in addition to OCing, have the best integrated GPU's, so they actually have the best quick sync performance. However, to overclock you need a p67 board, which can't utilize quick sync. If you want to use quick sync, you need to use h67 which you can't OC one. Don't ask my why, Intel does some really stupid things at times.

Fortunately, this will be fixed with z68's released early may.

AS for Intel, hehe it's really just that Intel makes more sense for your purposes and giving the current timing.

You can also consider a smaller case. The HAF 922 is a very good case and offers essentially the same performance once you add a side fan (the 922 is the size of most full tower cases already).
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April 16, 2011 4:40:27 PM

I'm sticking with the HAF 932, I want the big size case and I'm paranoid about airflow.

Would you suggest I get the p67 since I will not be overclocking? Maybe I could save some money on the h67, and get one that has only 1 PCIe 2 x16 since I don't necessarily want to use more than 2 monitors.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 5:23:03 PM

1 great 120hz gaming monitor > 3 monitors

NVIDIA sells a 3D kit w/glass and emitter on newegg, amazon, etc... that's compatable with that 120hz monitor down below. This build includes dual factory over clocked gtx 560's in SLI, an after market cpu h/s (thermal paste included), 8GB of low voltage RAM, Windows 7, gaming keyboard, gaming mouse, etc...

http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Advanced-Tower-Supe... $154.82 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Cooler Master HAF 932 Advanced Full Tower Case with SuperSpeed USB 3.0 - (RC-932-KKN5-GP)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$10.00 Combo Price: $174.98 $10.00 Mail-In Rebate Card Price After Mail-In Rebate(s): $164.98
CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power ...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$30.00 Combo Price: $244.98
ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Combo Discount: -$10.00 Combo Price: $464.98 $20.00 Mail-In Rebate Price After Mail-In Rebate(s): $444.98
MSI N560GTX-TI Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video ...
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K

http://www.amazon.com/MSI-PCI-Express-N560GTX-TWIN-FROZ... $249.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
MSI GeForce GTX560 1 GB DDR5 2DVI/Mini HDMI PCI-Express Video Card N560GTX TI TWIN FROZR II OC

http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Hyper-Sleeve-RR-B10... $27.21 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler, RR-B10-212P-G1

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $21.99
ASUS Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $99.99 FREE SHIPPING
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-G500-Programmable-Gaming... $61.17 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Logitech G500 Programmable Gaming Mouse

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-920-002232-Gaming-Keyboa... $64.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Logitech Gaming Keyboard G110

http://www.frys.com/product/6417522?site=sr:SEARCH:MAIN... $399.99
BEN Q XL2410T 23.6" LED Backlit Monitor (NVIDIA 3D Ready)

Total $1,965.29 *not including shipping, rebates, etc...

http://www.benq.us/products/product_detail.cfm?product=... <---- more info, specs, and pics of that BenQ monitor

http://apcmag.com/first-look-the-benq-xl2410t-.htm <---- review of that BenQ monitor

***Not included in this build but I would recommend for a decent headset set up

http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD515-Dynamic-Audiophi... $53.95 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Sennheiser HD515 Dynamic Stereo Sound Audiophile 500 Series Headphones

or...

http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD555-Professional-Hea... $84.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Sennheiser HD555 Professional Headphones with Sound Channeling

paired up with this....

http://www.amazon.com/Zalman-Microphone-Zm-Mic1-Sensiti... $12.21 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25
Zalman Microphone Zm-Mic1 High Sensitivity Headphone Microphone Retail
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April 16, 2011 5:39:06 PM

Thank Why_Me, I appreciate that. Definitely will help. Only problem, I'm one of the 3.5 or so percent that cannot see in stereoscopic, so I actually can't use the new 3D technology that is out. :)  It all looks the same to me.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 16, 2011 5:46:11 PM

Revil said:
Thank Why_Me, I appreciate that. Definitely will help. Only problem, I'm one of the 3.5 or so percent that cannot see in stereoscopic, so I actually can't use the new 3D technology that is out. :)  It all looks the same to me.

Forget the 3D. That monitor has a 120hz refresh rate, 2ms response time, and does everything but start up your pc. Check the links in regards to that monitor. It's not a monitor I would recommend for RPG's, but if your into action games like FPS, racing, etc... then that's the only way to go imo...especially with that much gpu fire power.

Myself...if I can't fly it, race it, stab it, shoot it, or blow it up...then I don't play it. I tried playing an RPG once, and then I decided I could just as easily take a bottle of downers and get just as much action out of life. :p 
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a b 4 Gaming
April 17, 2011 12:14:45 AM

Revil said:
I'm sticking with the HAF 932, I want the big size case and I'm paranoid about airflow.

Would you suggest I get the p67 since I will not be overclocking? Maybe I could save some money on the h67, and get one that has only 1 PCIe 2 x16 since I don't necessarily want to use more than 2 monitors.



Well if you aren't OCing, then going h67 allows you to use quick sync as well. You're fine with a 1 PCIex16 lane mobo. EX
Ga H67 ud3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you don't care about quick sync, then doesn't really mater which one you get. You can actually save a few bucks with P67
Ga - p67a ud3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for 120HZ monitor, you really don't need one unless you're a pro gamer who makes a living on it. Most of us don't actually have the visual acuity or reflexes to take advantage of the extra frames per second.
1080p blue rays run at 40FPS, Imax, at 48FPS, standard TV at 24FPS and you don't exactly see people complaining about the poor FPS in any of these cases.

For spending over $200 on a monitor, the only reason I'd do it is to grab an IPS monitor for the excellent viewing angles and true colors. Dell have their 23" ultra sharp for $250 right now for ex.
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?s...

In general though, most people are happy with their sub $200 1080p 21.5"-23.6" monitors.

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a b 4 Gaming
April 17, 2011 12:57:17 AM

banthracis said:
Well if you aren't OCing, then going h67 allows you to use quick sync as well. You're fine with a 1 PCIex16 lane mobo. EX
Ga H67 ud3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you don't care about quick sync, then doesn't really mater which one you get. You can actually save a few bucks with P67
Ga - p67a ud3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for 120HZ monitor, you really don't need one unless you're a pro gamer who makes a living on it. Most of us don't actually have the visual acuity or reflexes to take advantage of the extra frames per second.
1080p blue rays run at 40FPS, Imax, at 48FPS, standard TV at 24FPS and you don't exactly see people complaining about the poor FPS in any of these cases.

For spending over $200 on a monitor, the only reason I'd do it is to grab an IPS monitor for the excellent viewing angles and true colors. Dell have their 23" ultra sharp for $250 right now for ex.
http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/productdetail.aspx?s...

In general though, most people are happy with their sub $200 1080p 21.5"-23.6" monitors.

That Dell would be great for a work monitor like CAD, Video editing, photo shop, etc... but for gaming ...no way. It has a 8ms response time, and a 60hz refresh rate. The higher the refresh rate (120hz) the more fluid for movement...fast game play, etc... same with the response time. The lower the response time the less chance of tearing. Hence the reason they have monitors like that Dell, and gaming monitors.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 17, 2011 1:54:38 AM

Well manuf specs are not actually comparable from 1 vendor to another. 1 vendors 8ms response time is 5ms for another, kinda like how a 650W Diablotek PSU is very different from a 650W Seasonic PSU.

This article is a good read for understanding many monitor marketing myths.
http://www.maximumpc.com/article/features/display_myths...

They refer to what we call ghosting as motion blur
Quote:
For all of the tests—the DisplayMate test patterns, the moving photos, and the live video—we found that there was no visually detectable difference in motion blur for the mid- to top-of-the-line LCD HDTVs. This regardless of their claimed pixel response times, 60Hz or 120Hz refresh rates, strobed LED backlighting, or motion-enhancement processing. If you find this surprising then just re-read the classic tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes.

The underlying reason why higher refresh rates don’t mitigate blurring is that the true pixel response times of displays are considerably longer than the 60Hz video frame rate, so it doesn’t matter whether the screen refresh rate is 60Hz or 120Hz, or whether the LED backlights are strobed off during the frame updating.


In addition, response time measures can't be compared btwn IPS and TN monitors as the tech is different.

Remember, the 120hz monitors are TN panel's. TN are common because they are inexpensive and have fast response time. The fast response time, is actually critical for the TN panels, as they can only output 6-bit color per channel (red/green/blue are channels). What this means is that instead of producing 8-bit per channel like PVA and IPS panels for a nice TRUE 16 777 216 colors, it can only produce 262 144, and to produce the mention 16.7 million colors, it takes 2 colors from it's pallet and switch between them really really fast to trick your eyes. This constant fast switching tricks your eye into seeing the correct color. IPS and PVA panels on the other hand, can simply display the correct color. As a result, you need a far lower response time with a TN monitor to give the equivalent image as an IPS monitor. It's not a true 2:1 ratio since not all the 16million colors require 2 color switching, but a good approximation for 8ms on IPS would be equivalent to 5ms on TN.

Either way at <10ms you really don't see any difference, unless you're a trained professional such as an AV expert or professional gamer.

I'm not saying Why-Me is wrong for recommending a 120hz monitor, or that he wouldn't be able to tell the difference (he could be a pro gamer or AV expert after all), but it is important to understand the actual facts behind the marketing to make a good decision on the value of a product.

It's the same as with audio systems. Some really hardcore audiophiles will get $300 audio cards and $2000 7.1 setups. To most of us it seems crazy (and most of us probably couldn't tell the difference from a good $200 5.1 setup with onboard audio), but for them it's worth it.

As long as you understand the reality of what you're paying for, and not buying based on marketing tricks, it's really up to you to decide if you should get something.
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April 17, 2011 4:47:35 PM

Best answer selected by Revil.
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April 17, 2011 4:48:29 PM

Thanks everyone!

Putting together some theoretical builds again, on the drawing board so to speak.

Hopefully will be pulling the trigger soon. Thanks for the advice!
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