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Feedback on new Z68 system requested

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May 20, 2011 10:34:39 PM

Hi; I've been a Tom's lurker for years; now that I have to buy a new PC, I'd like some feedback and suggestions about the system. My usual method is to sink as much as I can into a system at the time that I buy it, as I've been keeping my PCs for about 5 years on average. I'm comfortable, if necessary, replacing pretty much any component except motherboard, CPU, and CPU heatsink. As I am not comfortable building or replacing those components, I've decided to go through cyberpower for the build (and newegg for the monitor and UPS).

The main question I have is regarding the motherboard. Originally, I was pretty certain I would get the Asus P8Z68-V-Pro. However, after the review here, I've been having some second thoughts. I'll be sinking a lot of money into the discrete video anyway (see below, but SLI EVGA 580s) so the only reason at all to have integrated graphics is Quicksync, and I am not really much of a transcoder. Therefore, I am now a bit torn about the mobo, and am contemplating a Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD7-B3. That has the benefit of the bridge that allows for two PCI 16x, although I am still uncertain if I have two boards in SLI, will they both behave as 16s. Also, it has a ton more USB/eSATA slots in lieu of the video outputs.

I will post what I was going to originally have below, and then the specific parts for which I would like feedback. I understand that there may be a lot of overkill in the setup, but it's easier for various reasons for me to sink more money into a system every 5 years than less every 3. For what it is worth, the main use of the PC will be gaming.

  • Case: * Coolermaster HAF-X Gaming Full Tower Case w/ 1x230mm Red LED Fan, 1x200mm Fans, 2xFront USB 3.0 Port [+125]
  • Extra Case Fan Upgrade: Maximum 120MM Case Cooling Fans for your selected case [+9]
  • CPU: Intel® Core™ i7-2600K 3.40 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA1155 (All Venom OC Certified) [+110]
  • FREE! PCI Wireless IEEE 802.11b/g/n 300Mbps PCI Wireless Adapter Network Card
  • Cooling Fan: CoolerMaster V6 GT CPU Cooler (Nickle Plated Double-V Heatpipe w/ Color Changing LED Cap) [+22]
  • Motherboard: [CrossFireX/SLI] Asus P8Z68-V Pro Intel Z68 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard w/ BT GO! LucidLogix Virtu and Intel Smart Response Technology & 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, USB3.0, 4x SATA-III RAID, 3 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1 & 2 PCI (All Venom OC Certified) [+96]
  • Memory: 16GB (4GBx4) DDR3/1600MHz Dual Channel Memory Module [+145] (Corsair Vengeance [+39])
  • Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB 16X PCIe Video Card [+460] (EVGA Superclocked [+5])
  • Video Card 2: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB 16X PCIe Video Card [+519] (EVGA Superclocked [+5])
  • Multiple Video Card Settings: Xtreme Performance in SLI/CrossFireX Gaming Mode Supports Single Monitor
  • Power Supply Upgrade: * 1,200 Watts - CoolerMaster Silent Pro 80 Plus Gold Power Supply ( 80 Plus Gold) [+207]
  • Hard Drive: 120 GB Intel 510 2.5 inch SATA III 6.0G/S Gaming MLC Solid State Disk [+267] (Single Hard Drive)
  • Data Hard Drive: 2TB (2TBx1) SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [+119] (Single Hard Drive)
  • Optical Drive: Sony 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive [+3] (BLACK COLOR)
  • Sound: HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO
  • Speakers: Logitech Z313 2.1 DT speaker [+48]
  • Network: Onboard Gigabit LAN Network
  • Keyboard: Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard
  • Mouse: GigaByte GM-M6800 Dual Lens Optical Gaming Mouse [+13]
  • Operating System: Microsoft® Windows® 7 Home Premium [+104] (64-bit Edition)
  • Office Suite: Microsoft® Office® 2010 Home and Business (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook + OneNote) [+159]
  • Ultra Care Option: CoolerMaster Thermal Fusion 400 Extreme Performance CPU - Thermal Compound Optimized for
  • Thermal Dissipation [+10]

    From Newegg, I am uncertain as to which monitor to purchase, either the:
  • ASUS VH242H for 179.99
  • ASUS VW246H for 199.99
    I'm also planning on getting the CP1500PFCLCD UPS based on this review.

    So, my main questions are:

  • Should I get the ASUS board or spend another $134 on the UD7?
  • Is there a significant difference between the monitors (and I know 2 580s is overkill for one 24" monitor)
  • Any other suggestions (e.g. better UPS, other options, etc.)

    As my current computer (an AMD Athlon X2 4200+ in an MSI K8N Diamond plus [yes, it's that old, but I have a GeForce 9800 GTX+ in it :D  ) has finally given up the motherboard last week (memory unrecognized no matter what I do), the sooner I can decide the sooner I get a computer back in the house, so I very much appreciate your collective feedback. Thank you!
    May 20, 2011 11:44:22 PM

    The PCIe lanes avail for SLI/CF (16+16 vs. 8+8) for Z68/P67 is of little consequence, varying less than 1% and even then usually only in extreme multimonitor arrays.

    The only real benefit for non-videophiles for Z68 is SRT, a nice feature, but, other than getting the game started a tad quicker, will not really help in actual framerates.

    I'd compare cost/performance of 580's vs. twin 6950s as a potential way of knocking $500 off your cost but still able to deliver near 6990-like framerates....

    The 2500K lacks hyperthreading, but, still delivers 99.6% of the 2600k's performance at about $100 less....
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    May 20, 2011 11:50:45 PM

    ^+1
    All of mdd1963's suggestions are great. I'd go Z68 because it's backup video if your graphics break and it costs the same as P67 anyways.

    I'll be able to help a lot more if you can answer a couple questions. Please fill this out: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advic...

    FYI: You can play any game on max graphics on a single GTX 570 (really GTX 560Ti) at 1920x1080. You could achieve this with a $1000 system that you could replace in two years for a $1000 and it would be better than your super overkill system two years from now. Then you spend less money and don't spend the last three years with your system with it lagging behind. Your call, but that's my strategy.

    Also, if you are comfortable replacing graphics, hard drives (HDDs), solid state drives (SSDs), then you may as well buy the system with no graphics, no HDDs, no SSDs, and no Windows. That way you get to get a deal on your parts (like GTX 580's for $480 instead of $600) and make sure you get a good solid state drive (go for $210 120GB Corsair Force 3, OCZ Vertex 3, or OCZ Agility 3. No other SSDs compare to these drives at all!)
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    May 22, 2011 2:06:21 AM

    mdd1963 said:
    The PCIe lanes avail for SLI/CF (16+16 vs. 8+8) for Z68/P67 is of little consequence, varying less than 1% and even then usually only in extreme multimonitor arrays.

    The only real benefit for non-videophiles for Z68 is SRT, a nice feature, but, other than getting the game started a tad quicker, will not really help in actual framerates.

    I'd compare cost/performance of 580's vs. twin 6950s as a potential way of knocking $500 off your cost but still able to deliver near 6990-like framerates....

    The 2500K lacks hyperthreading, but, still delivers 99.6% of the 2600k's performance at about $100 less....


    Thanks you for the suggestions. I've never had a problem with NVIDIA, and have had friends who have had problems with ATI, so I shy away from them. Also as the motherboard is pretty much the one piece I dont want to have to deal with, I'd rather pay more for than now.

    dalauder said:
    I'll be able to help a lot more if you can answer a couple questions. Please fill this out: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/261222-31-build-advic...

    Thank you both for the suggestions. Here is the form:

    Approximate Purchase Date: This Week


    Budget Range: $3500-$3700


    System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Surfing, Matrix-algebra/Statistics (R, MATLAB etc.)


    Parts Not Required: None


    Preferred Website(s) for Parts: None, really. Cyberpower for the pieces I don't trust myself to build (CPU, Mobo, Heatsink), Newegg or manufacturer for those I do.


    Country of Origin: US


    Parts Preferences: Full Tower, SandyBridge, NVIDIA graphics (never had a problem with them and my first PC had the TNTs years ago :)  ),


    Overclocking: Most likely, but not extreme


    SLI or Crossfire: Likely

    Monitor Resolution:Most likely 1920x1080


    Additional Comments: Will likely be able to update parts OUTSIDE of Mobo and CPU a few years down the line.

    dalauder said:
    FYI: You can play any game on max graphics on a single GTX 570 (really GTX 560Ti) at 1920x1080. You could achieve this with a $1000 system that you could replace in two years for a $1000 and it would be better than your super overkill system two years from now. Then you spend less money and don't spend the last three years with your system with it lagging behind. Your call, but that's my strategy.


    I appreciate the idea, but for whatever reason, my spouse doesn't like the fact that the computer wont last 5 years, and I sort of have a pass now as the house PC is toast.

    dalauder said:
    Also, if you are comfortable replacing graphics, hard drives (HDDs), solid state drives (SSDs), then you may as well buy the system with no graphics, no HDDs, no SSDs, and no Windows. That way you get to get a deal on your parts (like GTX 580's for $480 instead of $600) and make sure you get a good solid state drive (go for $210 120GB Corsair Force 3, OCZ Vertex 3, or OCZ Agility 3. No other SSDs compare to these drives at all!)

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    May 22, 2011 8:34:23 PM

    OK, after thinking about the suggestions again, I think I'm going to the advice given about the 570 as opposed to SLI 580s, and mix and match a bit more. Unfortunately, cyberpower does not allow "bare bones" configurations, ibuildpower does not have a z68, and avadirect has had some very bad reviews, so I have to get some pieces (HDD, video card) from cyberpower, as dropping down to the lowest levelentry still does not make up the cost differential of getting the relative piece at newegg or buy.com. What I have now is the following, and unless someone points out a massive issue soon, I will likely buy this tomorrow:

    From Cyberpower (leaving out the "none" entries)

    Price: $1,650.00

    ______________________________________________________________________

    *BASE_PRICE:[+709]

    CARE1:Ultra Enhanced Packaging Solution - Protect Your Dream System During Transit [+19]

    CARE2:CoolerMaster Thermal Fusion 400 Extreme Performance CPU - Thermal Compound Optimized for Thermal Dissipation [+10]

    CAS:* Coolermaster HAF-X Gaming Full Tower Case w/ 1x230mm Red LED Fan, 1x200mm Fans, 2xFront USB 3.0 Port [+125]

    CD:Sony 24X Double Layer Dual Format DVD+-R/+-RW + CD-R/RW Drive [+3] (BLACK COLOR)

    CPU:Intel® Core™ i7-2600K 3.40 GHz 8M Intel Smart Cache LGA1155 (All Venom OC Certified) [+110]

    CS_FAN:Default case fans

    FAN:CoolerMaster V6 GT CPU Cooler (Nickle Plated Double-V Heatpipe w/ Color Changing LED Cap) [+22]

    FREEBIE_CU1:FREE Game - Shogun 2 Limited Edition Coupon: Total War [+0]

    FREEBIE_CU2:FREE! PCI Wireless IEEE 802.11b/g/n 300Mbps PCI Wireless Adapter Network Card [+0]

    HDD:2TB (2TBx1) SATA-III 6.0Gb/s 64MB Cache 7200RPM HDD [+51] (Single Hard Drive)

    KEYBOARD:Xtreme Gear (Black Color) Multimedia/Internet USB Keyboard

    MEMORY:8GB (4GBx2) DDR3/1600MHz Dual Channel Memory Module [+20] (Corsair Vengeance [+19])

    MOTHERBOARD:[CrossFireX/SLI] Asus P8Z68-V Pro Intel Z68 Chipset DDR3 ATX Mainboard w/ BT GO! LucidLogix Virtu and Intel Smart Response Technology & 7.1 HD Audio, GbLAN, USB3.0, 4x SATA-III RAID, 3 Gen2 PCIe, 2 PCIe X1 & 2 PCI (All Venom OC Certified) [+96]

    MOUSE:GigaByte GM-M6800 Dual Lens Optical Gaming Mouse [+13]

    NETWORK:Onboard Gigabit LAN Network

    OS:None - FORMAT HARD DRIVE ONLY

    OVERCLOCK:No Overclocking

    POWERSUPPLY:* 1,200 Watts - CoolerMaster Silent Pro 80 Plus Gold Power Supply ( 80 Plus Gold) [+207]

    RUSH:NO; READY TO SHIP IN 5~10 BUSINESS DAYS

    SERVICE:STANDARD WARRANTY: 3-YEAR LIMITED WARRANTY PLUS LIFE-TIME TECHNICAL SUPPORT

    SOUND:HIGH DEFINITION ON-BOARD 7.1 AUDIO

    USB:Built-in USB 2.0 Ports

    VIDEO:NVIDIA GeForce GTX 570 1.2GB 16X PCIe Video Card [+246] (Major Brand Powered by NVIDIA)


    Note: No monitor or operating system. Also, there is a 5% instant discount on systems over $999, which for this system would be $82.50, which defrays the $75 shipping cost (UPS Ground) and then some for a net cost of $1642.50

    From Newegg:

    Asus VE248H Black 24" Full HD HDMI LED Backlight LCD Monitor w/Speakers
    Item #: N82E16824236102
    Return Policy: Monitor Standard Return Policy -$50.00 Instant $249.99 $199.99
    Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business
    Item #: N82E16832116857
    Return Policy: Software Standard Return Policy -$69.00 Instant $279.99 $210.99
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit English 1-Pack Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit English 1-Pack
    Item #: N82E16832116986
    Return Policy: Software Standard Return Policy $99.99
    Linksys E2500 IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz / 5GHz Advanced Dual-Band Wireless N Router Linksys E2500 IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4GHz / 5GHz Advanced Dual-Band Wireless N Router
    Item #: N82E16833124414
    Return Policy: Standard Return Policy -$20.00 Instant $99.99 $79.99
    OCZ Vertex 3 Series – MAX IOPS Edition VTX3MI-25SAT3-120G 2.5 OCZ Vertex 3 Series – MAX IOPS Edition VTX3MI-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
    Item #: N82E16820227714
    Return Policy: Limited Replacement Only Return Policy -$30.00 Instant $319.99 $289.99


    There is no shipping on this, so the total is $880.95, of which, technically the router and MS office should not count, so the system additions are 589.97

    From CompSource (and, for better or for worse, this is already ordered, so if y'all have had horrible issues with compsource.com, I'm in trouble :??:  ):

    CYBERPOWER CP1500PFCLCD UPS 1500VA 510W PFC COMPATIBLE PURE SINE WAVE - 1500VA/900W - 1.98 MINUTE FULL LOAD - 10 X NEMA 5-15R - BATTERY/SURGE-PROTECTED
    Vendor Part #: CP1500PFCLCD
    Price: $189.00


    No shipping, so total $189

    Total expected out-of-pocket is 2712.45, more than 900 less than originally expected, and the system itself, I would consider $2421.47, as the router and MS office, while needed, are out of the scope of the build. I've seen it for less at sites like here or software-online.com but something strikes me as funny about those sites.

    Once again, thanks for the suggestions given and future :D 
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    May 23, 2011 3:25:18 PM

    OK, bought, although at the last moment I caved and spent an extra $42 on an EVGA overclocked 570. Thanks again!
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    May 29, 2011 2:44:53 PM

    Best answer selected by avi0013.
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    May 30, 2011 3:13:11 AM

    Sorry, I'm in a day ahead. So I went home for the weekend after your Thursday and didn't see your responses on your work computer.
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    May 31, 2011 12:08:34 AM

    No problem; you were very helpful as it was. Thanks!
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    !