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Gaming desktop help $1700 budget

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June 17, 2011 7:14:54 PM

I'm building a gaming desktop on cyberpowerpc, and I have some questions. Keep in mind the most important thing for me in all of this is to have the best gaming performance possible, I want to be able to play the upcoming Battlefield 3 on Ultra High settings 1920x1080 resolution with zero lag! I just want to get some opinions before I make a big purchase.

Here is my starting point build I put together and the end price with a 5% off coupon was $1666 (includes shipping). http://www.cyberpowerpc.com/saved/1DAGWP

Things I must have:
1. A graphics card that is amazing! I'm thinking dual cards or something with at least 1.5 GB DDR5 dedicated memory.
2. Solid State Hard Drive for the OS and my main games.
3. Was recommended to get a sandy bridge processor for optimal gaming performance.

Questions:
1. Do you think cyberpowerpc is giving me a good deal or would something like buying the parts on newegg and gettin a tech friend to put it together a better option? (I'm open to newegg if they can give a better deal.)
2. Is investing in an extra case fan and noise reduction technology a good idea?
3. Do you have another suggestion on graphics card selection? I'm willing to switch to running two cards in SLi if you think that is better. (I'm willing to pay alittle more to upgrade the cards if you think it is necessary)
4. Do you suggest a different power supply?
5. Any other ways to improve this build or save money would be appreciated!
6. Is there any reason I should wait? I'm lookin to get this new computer here by october.

Starter Build Specs:
Intel Core i7-2600 3.40 GHz 8m Intel Smart Cache LGA1155
8GB DDR3/1600MHz Dual Channel Channel Memory
Motherboard: (SLI/CrossfireX) GigaByte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB 16x PCIe Video Card (EVGA Superclocked)
800 Watts - XtremeGear Gaming Power Supply
128 GB ADATA S501 V2 Sata 3 6.0G/s Gaming MLC Solid State Disk
1.5 TB Sata-II 3.0 Gb/s 32MB Cache 7200RPM HDD(data drive)
High Definition On-Board 7.1 Audio
PCI Wireless 802.11n 150Mbps NIC
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
Planning on running a single 22-24 inch monitor.


The monitor I'm not worried about, I will choose their deal or get a discount since I work at Best Buy. Thank you for your time and help!
a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2011 8:03:40 PM

You can build it yourself it's easy.

For gaming get the i-5 2500K, here's an idea:

Intel Core i5-2500K + GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD4
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS 24X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SAPPHIRE 100311-2SR Radeon HD 6970 2GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
XFX PRO850W XXX Edition Semi-Modular 80 Plus Silver Certified 850 Watt
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$1,449.91

Some cases:
COOLER MASTER HAF 932
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Antec DF-85 Black
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Get a 23.6 or 24" monitor
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June 17, 2011 9:33:19 PM

thank you for taking the time to find those parts! So I trust that I won't notice a difference between that i5 and the i7 I chose, and that's what a few people have been telling me. I was also thinking of saving by getting 6GB of RAM, what brand do you think I should go with?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2011 10:11:53 PM

The RAM is cheap, you can save a lot by buying a 320-500GB HDD now for the OS and leave the SSD for later, the SSD prices will drop.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2011 10:58:23 PM

Hi, I hope this info helps. i recommend COPYING it to a text file and carefully reading. I've discovered that the most important points are:
a) NOISE
b) BACKUPS
c) QUALITY (esp PSU and motherboard)

Quick points:
1) Always build yourself if possible. It will be cheaper even before you consider many parts such as the motherboard and Power Supply will be of superior quality.

2) A high-end gaming PC is almost always limited by the graphics quality.

3) Noise level and Graphics quality is always a trade-off.

4) Most games have little graphics benefit above a GTX560Ti.

Other points:
1) I recommend building a Sandy-Bridge based system (1155 motherboard etc)
2) For graphics I recommend an SLI, 2x560Ti setup.
3) Create three backups using a program like Acronis True Image (free version if a Western Digital hard drive is installed:
Backup #1- Windows 7 x64 is Activated (nothing else is done; ALWAYS keep this version)
Backup #2- all drivers and Microsoft Updates are installed (ALWAYS keep this version as well)
Backup #3- This backup is the one you update periodically. I recommend weekly backups. Create (always VERIFY) the new backup then delete the other full one.

4) Noise is important. I'll list recommended cooling info at the bottom.
5) Cases. I ended up disliking the "fancy" cases. They had too many issues. I absolutely LOVE my Antec 100 which is on sale at NCIX for only $40. *Instructions were not included, but it's important to know that you can pop off the entire front of the case to add a fan (snaps in) and access drives.

If you don't like the Antec 100 there are other options. I like cases with cable management. Make sure the case fits. Hard drive trays which holds multiple drives can be problematic if your graphics card is in the way. MEASURE EVERYTHING!!

There are some slightly OVERSIZED cases which are taller than normal and meant for SLI. I probably wouldn't get the Antec 100 for SLI/Crossfire but it's doable.

The CASE is the trickiest part to choose. Think carefully about space. I recommend ignoring "fancy" stuff like removable hard drive bays.

If price was no object, here is one of the very best cases. It turns the motherboard by 90deg (cables go up into the cable manage). It has three HUGE slow fans at the bottom. At least read about why it's such a great case if you want a different case.
http://www.silverstonetek.com/raven/products/r-photo.ph...
(Silverstone RV02E)

6) CPU heatsink/fan. Always get one of these instead of stock. Measure carefully for case and motherboard. Try to get one with a fan inline with your case fans (to rear or top). BIOS settings may not be correct for non-stock (mine needed "voltage" to be set; it was set to "Auto" which did not work). Use any CPU program to test the CPU. If the fan varies, it's working properly. $40 is about the right amount to spend.

7) Gigabyte, Asus and MSI are good motherboards. I like either Gigabyte or Asus usually.

8) PSU's. Do a lot of research. Take what you need from this link:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/306040-28-500w-suffic...

9) CPU: about $300. Probably this one:
Intel Core i7 2600K Quad Core Unlocked Hyperthreading Processor LGA1155 3.4GHZ Sandy Bridge 8MB

10) RAM: DDR3 1600MHz, 8GB (likely 2x4GB modules)

11) Windows 7 Premium x64 OEM (remember to Activate BEFORE creating a backup. You do NOT wish to reinstall Windows from scratch as it's not only a pain but you have a limited number of Activations. RESTORING an Activated backup of Windows does NOT reduce your number of Activations.

12) SATA DVD burner (choose the best recommended. They're very cheap now). I recommend waiting for BluRay drives AND discs to get cheaper and faster.

13) Sound: I recommend waiting. Onboard sound is usually adequate but there is a noticeable difference. I'm happy with this:
- Auzentech X-Fi Forte, and
- M-Audio AV40 stereo speakers

I recommend the M-Audio AV40's if the thumping of bass is a concern. If not, I recommend researching a good 2.1 sound system (2.1 means stereo + subwoofer). Aside from quality speakers, get a volume control which can turn OFF the speakers (or a front-mounted OFF button on a speaker as well as a headphone AND auxiliary input. I plug my iPod into my AV40's with my PC off and have a nice stereo system.

There are some good audio cards out there that aren't too expensive. I haven't done research in a while. Again, I'd wait until your system is optimized unless you're sure. I've heard Asus has some good cards. I'd ignore EAX support via Audigy (not a big deal now).

14) headphones: do research.

15) drives:
a) 120GB OCZ Vertex 2 or 3 ("3" is more expensive but 2x the speed. personally I recommend gen 2 especially with reliability of gen 3 not yet proven), and
b) 2TB hard drive (do research into reliability of 2TB hard drives. my WD Green failed, but I don't know how that compares overall to other drives.

16) investigate Virtu for Sandy Bridge motherboards. I haven't investigated yet but I heard briefly something turning off graphics cards/Switchable graphics? Not sure.

Summary:
- building yourself is fun, less expensive, and gives you quality options you normally do not have with pre-builts
- building yourself has no added software that people dislike so much
- plan carefully. I recommend building a system based around an 1155 motherboard and CPU
- motherboard must support SLI if you wish to use multiple NVidia cards (Crossfire for AMD).
- noise is a serious issue. If you must go SLI, the GTX 560Ti is probably your best bet.
- research EVERY part, especially the Power Supply
- the most important detail with PSU and Graphics compatibility is the Amperage (current) on the 12V rail(s). Example, a 500W PSU has 22A per rail and two rails, however it has a COMBINED maximum of 36Amps. A GTX570 requires 38A. Does it work? No.
- look for sales. NCIX is a GREAT PLACE and most prices are very, very good. (in contrast TigerDirect is often very expensive).

**Airflow design:
Airflow design for computers is broken into two main aspects:
1) quick removal of heat from hot components (heatsink first, then heatsink fan)
2) overall air flow to remove case heat (120mm or greater case fans)
3) heat rises, in general air flow should come in the bottom-front and be removed at the top-rear though it's impossible to do this exactly (especially with bottom-mounted PSU's which I like because they do pull in CPU heat which is very stupid if you ask me)
4) large holes in cases (fan mounts with no fan installed) reduce air flow and overall effectiveness. Always tape over these holes. I use thin cardboard with packing tape and install on the inside.

There is an optimal balance between noise and heat removal, here's an example of one setup:
1) Case fans (120mm front-bottom and 120mm top-rear)
2) PSU (auto fan control)
3) graphics card (auto fan control)
4) CPU (large heatsink + 92mm or higher fan(s))

Other fan details:
1) case fans are usually very low-flow. I recommend 500 to 800RPM fans with ONLY ONE SPEED BY DESIGN (plug into the PSU's molex power connector)
2) CPU fan should be configured to spin at its lowest speed when idle. Usually, one need change the BIOS setting to Auto, Voltage or PWM. Test with any CPU stress benchmark and listen for fan to change. If it does not, change the BIOS setting.
*CPU fan must be plugged into the correct motherboard CPU fan slot.


**I hope this has been useful.

Summary #2:
1) start with NCIX
2) make a list of parts based on 1155 setup
3) research each component carefully
4) Measure carefully where needed (motherboard, fan, case, PSU)
5) TAKE YOUR TIME!!
6) backup Windows 7 as recommended and have a plan for various failures such as SSD, hard drive complete failure, software corruption etc.)

Some of my information may have changed, but this is a guideline.
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June 18, 2011 12:22:26 AM

Thank you for the guide! that gave me alot of helpful information. I put together another build on newegg and wanted to know your opinion. The main reason I put it together on newegg is that they gave me a great combo deal, and they offer financing!

Bundle Deal: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?I...

Here are the specs I have so far:
1. Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
2. ASUS P8Z68-V LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
3.Thermaltake TR2 RX 750W Bronze W0382RU ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular ...
4. G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL8D-8GBXM
5. Thermaltake Armor A60 Gaming Mid-Tower Chassis With Cable Management Water Cooling SSD Support And Tool-Less Installation ...
6. Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
7. SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black EIDE / ATAPI Model SH-S222A - OEM

Outside of the bundle I chose 1 EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1563-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support ...
I plan on getting a second one in the future for Sli. Does it come with everything I need to setup Sli?

A few questions:
1. What Cooling fan do you suggest? I have no idea where to begin with cooling fans. I definitely want to find a good value and something that will fit in that case.
2. Is the 750w power supply enough to support a futur SLi setup?
3. Is there anything else that is important to purchase for when I first setup the computer?

I decided to wait on the SSD for now.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 18, 2011 1:23:00 AM

Ignore that stuff above, get the 2500K as I suggested and the rest. Don't buy two video cards, the 6970 can run anything for now and the new 7xxx series is around the corner.
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June 19, 2011 12:35:54 AM

mosox said:
Ignore that stuff above, get the 2500K as I suggested and the rest. Don't buy two video cards, the 6970 can run anything for now and the new 7xxx series is around the corner.


ok got it, what cooling fan would you suggest?
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June 19, 2011 10:55:54 PM

oh no worries, you were not to harsh. I appreciate all the advice!
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!