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$850 Build, need RAM and PSU advice

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July 11, 2011 4:29:05 PM

I’m finally getting around to building a new machine and I’m discovering things have changed enough that I’m now lost on the config for a few items. Suggestions appreciated. I plan to start ordering parts within the next day or two.

How I use the system:
70% General purpose (including online flash games for the kid)
20% Video (XBMC)
10% Games

But that will change with the new machine (kid getting older, I have more time for games etc), so by winter I expect the distribution to be something like
50% General purpose
25% Video
25% Games

I’m also on a budget (would like to keep everything under $850 for now). I plan to upgrade the video later so for now I’m just keeping my old card (nVidia GT220). I’d like to update to something more impressive (which isn’t saying much given the current card) but that won’t happen until the fall.

I also plan to overclock but again, not until fall. Right now I just don’t have the time to do it and there’s hardly a point with the current GPU).

Planned Config:

Case:
Cooler Master HAF 912
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Tower-Case-RC-912-K...
$56

PSU:
(this was my initial plan but the more I look the more concerned I get that I have no clue what I’m doing with PSUs)
Corsair Builder Series CX600 600 watt
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Certified-Compatible-Plat...
$67

Motherboard:
ASRock P67 EXTREME4 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.amazon.com/ASRock-P67-Extreme4-B3-Motherboar...
$160

CPU:
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
http://www.amazon.com/Intel-i5-2500K-Processor-3-3GHz-L...
$220

CPU Cooler:
(I realize I don’t need it now but it’s fairly easy to install now and not worry about later when I get around to overclocking)
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Hyper-Sleeve-RR-B10...
$35

RAM:
(This is also one where I’m lost. Below is the original plan, but suggestions welcome)
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-8GBXH
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65 (after $15 promo code)

HDD:
Western Digital WD Caviar Black 750 GB SATA 3 7200 RPM
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Internal-3-5-Inch...
$60

Optical:
LG DVD±RW SuperMulti Drive 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model GH22NS50 Bulk – OEM (or any similar cheap burner)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$19

Fans:
TBD, but it looks like the case can use some help so I’ll probably get a couple of nice LED fans (green) so assume $25

OS:
Windows 7 Home Premium
http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Premium-64bit-System-Buil...
$100

GPU (holdover, listed for reference only):
EVGA nVidia GeForce GT 220 1 GB DDR3 DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card 01G-P3-1226-LR
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002SG7LUQ

Various things that plug in (keyboard, mouse, monitor, etc) are all holdovers so no need to burn money there.

TOTAL INITIAL OUTLAY = $827.

Questions:
PSU - The Corsair Builder Series CX600 seemed like a decent PSU but as I’ve read more I’m getting concerned that I won’t have enough power once I upgrade the GPU. I don’t know what the final GPU will be (won’t decide until I look at price/performance at the time) but either 1 screamer or more likely 2 slightly lower models (if I was doing it today, maybe Radeon HD 6850 1GB in Crossfire or GeForce GTX 460 1 GB in SLI). That suggests I’m way underpowered but it seems that the last TH system build marathon supported 2 6850s on a 650w PSU so maybe I’m close?

RAM - I initially picked the RAM based on price, latency and size (8GB seemed nice and roomy). Once again, as I dug deeper I realized I didn’t know what I was talking about. I read on Proximon’s “A Guide to Choosing Computer Parts” post that Sandy Bridge/P67 combos might place a higher premium on frequency rather than latency. I also looked around and everyone seemed to be suggesting 4GB for a build in this range so maybe 8GB is overkill? On the other hand, everyone else is worried about buying the GPU. I’m not. I’m going to stick with the old GT220 until fall then drop a few hundred on something nice.

Other Components - I'm much more comfortable with the rest of my selection but if someone has suggestions, I’ll listen (or read, technically, but whatever).

A few other notes:
I typically keep a machine for 4-5 years so I want something that will last (probably not going to want to save money on the CPU).

I realize the half-now/half-later build approach is odd but the inlaws’ PC is dying now so if I give them my old machine now, I have an excuse to build a new machine now - unfortunately I don’t have the cash for the GPUs I want yet.

I prefer ordering from Amazon since I have a Prime membership there (free, fast shipping) but I'll order from newegg.com as well.

Thanks.
July 11, 2011 5:09:40 PM

This should be a nice enough PSU for you.
XFX Core Pro650W $89.99 ( $59.99 after rebate )
Will easily run 6850 and pretty much any single GPU graphics card on the market.

Memory is cheap these days and the difference between 1600Mhz and 1333Mhz in both price and performance is small, so basically either one works. 8GB will mean that you won't have to upgrade for a while at least :) 
But for 3 bucks more get this one instead: Gskill sniper 2x4GB 1.5V CAS9 1600Mhz $67.99

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $54.99 ( $49.99 after coupon code )
Cheaper, faster, more reliable choice.

Since gaming is lower priority to you, I think you will do fine with those until you can upgrade the GPU to what you want.

July 11, 2011 7:19:37 PM

Thanks. The PSU and RAM reading I've been doing here had left my mind melting.

I'm a bit confused about the HDD suggestion. You describe the Samsung as "Cheaper, faster, more reliable".

Cheaper? Clearly.

More reliable? I don't have any data but I'll give you that it's at least plausible.

Faster? This is where I get confused.
The WD model I'd planned on using is 6GB SATA and the Samsung you suggested is 3GB SATA. I had simply assumed 6GB > 3GB therefore WD > Samsung but you're suggesting it's not that simple?

(Just trying to understand. This is my first build in 5 years.)

Thanks again.
Related resources
July 11, 2011 7:33:36 PM

The sata 3gb/s interface is not the limiting factor on HDD speed, so opening the bandwidth up to 6gb/s doesnt make the drives any faster.

Some ssd's, on the other hand, can transfer data fast enough that the 3gb/s bandwidth becomes the limiting factor, requiring a 6gb/s connection to improve speed.

I would say the speed difference is going to be largely unnoticeable, but the spinpoint is a very popular drive on these forums.
July 11, 2011 8:03:30 PM

Ok, that makes sense. It's probably the SSDs that got me off target. I was originally going to build with an SSD but couldn't pull the budget together and went with a normal HDD. Should have rethought the interface at that point.

Thanks.
July 11, 2011 8:55:52 PM

i wouldnt say you were off target at all, pretty much every observant person has that exact same question.

in terms of your build as a whole, an important question is whether you ever would like to upgrade to a dual card setup. it doesnt sound to me you will, but it matters for PSU and mobo selection.

July 11, 2011 10:45:32 PM

Good to know. Now I don't feel like a complete brick... ;) 

Regarding dual card setups, that's still in the air. Although I don't game extensively I do game intensively. I tend to prefer highly demanding (graphics-wise) games and I'm really looking forward to playing real games on my PC again (as opposed to game machine). Maybe I'm getting old but I still believe if God had intended me to play games on a dedicated box it would come with a mouse, keyboard and monitor. (And many of the games I'm seriously craving are PC-only.)

I'm generally inclined to get a top-flight single card but I'm also paying attention to the TH Best Graphics Cards for the Money series and it's looking like dual-card setups are ruling the higher echelons. That may change by Christmas or it may not. I'd prefer to keep my options open.

The spec page at ASRock.com insists the mobo is up to various multi-card GPU setups (xfire and sli) so I'm thinking I'm ok there.

rvilkman suggested the XFX Core Pro650w PSU and I was content to go in that direction. Do you feel I should buy a little insurance in the form of a different PSU? If so, which one?
July 12, 2011 12:30:53 AM

The mobo you have selected will definitely run SLI and Crossfire so you are good there.

The XFX 650W is enough for 6850 Crossfire, probably also 6870 Crossfire. It is also at kind of a sweet spot in price vs wattage.
It will run any single card with one GPU on it, so 6970 or GTX 580 will run on it.

If you want better future proofing a 750W psu from Antec, Corsair, Seasonic or XFX will get you to the next level, which is probably the highest you need to go, as I'm pretty sure you don't end up dropping $700+ on Video cards any time soon.

Corsair TX750 V2 $109.99 ( $94.99 after rebate )
XFX Core Pro750W $114.99 ( $94.99 after rebate )
Anter Gamer Series 750 $99.99
July 12, 2011 12:44:58 AM

Given the price difference, I'm going to stick with the 650w item you suggested earlier. And with that I think I'm done.

If I'd have had the sense to call this post a question I'd mark it solved.

Thanks to both of you for your help.

July 12, 2011 7:54:26 PM

A bit off topic, but do you have any idea what you're going to be upgrading to?
July 12, 2011 8:02:17 PM

farsuka said:
A bit off topic, but do you have any idea what you're going to be upgrading to?


Given the constant changes in GPU prices I'm not even thinking too hard about it right now.

The plan is basically to look at the TH Best Graphics Cards for the Money ( http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-graphics-card,... ) and decide what I can afford. And, of course what'll work with my PSU although I'm thinking if something really perfect falls into my price range and requires me to buy a new PUS I might still consider it.
July 12, 2011 8:09:21 PM

GSkill Ripjaw X 8gb 1600 is on sale for $60 on newegg.
July 12, 2011 8:53:40 PM

mojoe_24 said:
GSkill Ripjaw X 8gb 1600 is on sale for $60 on newegg.


well, that's about right. my ram should be on the truck on its way by now so naturally a lower price appears... fortunately it's only a few bucks.
July 12, 2011 8:57:16 PM

If you ordered from Newegg you can get them on a chat and ask for money back. I got the money back plus the free 4gb usb drive.
!