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Future Ready Gaming Rig

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July 12, 2011 12:27:52 AM

I'm looking at replacing my Toshiba Qosmio X300 by building a gaming rig from scratch, with the exception of my current peripherals:

Monitor - Dell U2410 running 1920 x 1200
Keyboard/Mouse - G15/G9x respectively
Audio - Sennheiser HD558 headphones (no mixamp at the moment) or Altec Lansing 2.1 (may use my 5.1 system from time to time)

Aside from web browsing and productivity apps, the most demanding functions will be running Blu-Rays and my gaming, which I want to run smoothly with FULL features at the above monitor res. I may want to run an HDMI to my 52" LCD HT System from time to time to watch movies or game in glorious surround sound with a huge screen. :) 

The games that I would run are:
Shooters - BF3, COD series, Crysis 2, etc.
RPGs - Elder Scrolls V, Dragon Age series, etc.
Racing Sims
MMOs - WoW, SWTOR, especially RIFT all on highest settings

*PRICE is a semi-consideration, but I have no set budget in mind. I am prepared to pay for quality components and the right configuration, but don't want to overkill/overspend with features I won't need or diminished returns. I wouldn't need to post this thread if that was the case!

I've been out of the PC component game for a while. From what I have read on forums, here is what I am considering:

Option 1 @ CDN$1,300:

i5-2500K 3.3GHz
(A) ASRock P67 EXTREME4 (B3), (B) ASUS P8P67 PRO B3 (Which is better of these 2?)
EVGA GTX 560 Ti 1GB, GDDR5, 900/1800 MHz Superclocked (I would consider running Dual SLI down the road when more performance is needed)
2 x 4GB Corsair XMS3 Dual Channel PC12800, 1600MHz
Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III
Seagate ST31000524AS Barracuda Hard Drive - 1TB, SATA 6Gbps, 7200 RPM, 32MB
Samsung 12X/16X Blu-Ray/DVD
Thermaltake V9 or Rosewill ARMOR Case
Corsair CMPSU-800G Gaming Series GS800 800W
COOLER MASTER V8 RR-UV8-XBU1-GP 120mm


Option 2 @ CDN$1,750:

i7-2600K 3.4GHz
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO
EVGA GTX 570 1280MB (012-P3-1570-AR)
2 x 4GB Corsair XMS3 Dual Channel PC12800, 1600MHz
Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III
Western Digital WD2002FAEX Caviar Black Hard Drive - 2TB, 3.5", SATA 6Gbps, 7200 RPM, 64MB
Samsung 12X/16X Blu-Ray/DVD
Corsair Obsidian Series 650D (CC650DW-1)
CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-850TX 850W
Corsair CWCH50-1 Hydro H50 CPU Liquid Cooler

Question #1: Is paying the extra $450 for something similar to option 2 really worth it or even necessary?

Question #2: I am going to be building this system by the end of the summer. Would it be wise to wait for prices to drop with new component releases in Q3 or is there no compelling reason to wait? I have been watching a few sites for promos and tempted to pick things up piece by piece as they go on sale or offer rebates.

You can see that I opted for the Nvidia cards, which is based on majority of use in the gaming community (Steam user data) and sales data from online sites. I'm open to ATI/AMD or any other suggestions in tweaking either build. Keep in mind that I live in Toronto and would prefer to avoid duties from the U.S., which can make it more expensive than buying from a store like TigerDirect.ca or online at NCIX.com or Newegg.ca. The online sites seem to be a bit cheaper... before shipping.

LMK if I am missing any info. Thanks in advance for your help and feedback!
a b 4 Gaming
July 12, 2011 9:27:22 AM

I would go with option 1
the i5-2500 is all you will need for gaming. the only difference in the two CPU's is Hyper-threading (i7 has it) and the i7 seems to OC's a little better.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu,297...

MB's are equal in performance. so its all about the features you need/want and reliability. some MB OC better than others because of the Voltage Regulator's (both your choices are good in this area). both are good MB's

GPU: I like the 570 of Option B. If I went with a GTX 560 Ti I would get the EVGA 2GB version. a AMD solution would be the HD 6950 2GB. I'm on team nVidia for there better driver support.

Good choice on the M4 SSD. you might think about the 128GB version though. its speed will spoil you and you'll want to load all your games on it.

all the HDD's are good picks, as is the BRD.

Ram is a good choice, make sure they are 1.5v not 1.65v. Gskill RipJaw X's would the another good pick

Either PSU is good. Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, XFX Core series, SilverStone are all good brands. and 850w is plenty for 570's in SLI. I run them on my HX-750 with no issues

The case is a personal choice, both are quality.

CPU Cooler.... I like air, but not the V-8. it does look nice. I like these HSF's because they are quiet and are top-down cooler, cooling the ram and mb chipset also. Noctua NH-C12P SE14, CM GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP.

I don't advise picking it up piece by piece unless you have a way a testing the parts. it would suck to have a DOA and not know it for a month or two and not be able to RMA it where you bought it. Manufacture RMA takes longer.







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July 12, 2011 5:22:49 PM

Almost anything you can build using today's high performance components will run PC games at full resolution because the games themselves are dummed down to run on consoles which are running 5 year old CPUs & GPUs. If you are concerned about upgradeability (as your headline suggests) I would consider building an AMD machine since Intel is infamous for obsoleting their own platforms at the drop of a hat and AMD is less so.
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July 12, 2011 8:51:14 PM

JD - Thx for the detailed reply and recommendations. I am glad that my research panned out well and you make a good point about buying everything within a short enough time frame to make sure I don't have DOA product.

RE: GPU - I'm definitely convinced that goingt to a 570 is a good idea, especially after I read this article on Cyrsis 2 running DX11 today:

Do you have any specific recommendations on which 570s to consider? Is the EVGA 012-P3-1572-AR (overclocked to 797MHz) worth considering over the referece 1570 model for an extra $25?
I had read somewhere that the Superoverclocked 560 Ti at 900/1800 MHz was almost equivalent in performance to a reference 570. It would be cheaper to run 2 x 560s, too. Then again, I also read on these forums that a single card was more stable and better than running SLI at the moment.

SSD - I haven't seen many options for Sata III SSDs yet. I was just thinking of running the OS only on the 64GB SSD and that way I can flash the drive and re-install the OS without disrupting my installed games and programs. You make an interesting point about being spoiled. I like to treat myself to the goodies, but I was hoping for prices to drop before I got a larger SSD. Would the MBs I chose support two separate SSDs, should I pony up for a gaming drive down the road? I can see these dropping to half it's value next year when more people adopt SSD.

Water cooling - is it excessive or not? If I am running both OC'd GPU and CPU, wouldn't I get better performance and longer life out of the rig over fan based cooling?

Thanks again for your advice. I feel like I am getting closer to pulling the trigger on the whole setup.
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July 12, 2011 9:56:26 PM

ram1009 said:
Almost anything you can build using today's high performance components will run PC games at full resolution because the games themselves are dummed down to run on consoles which are running 5 year old CPUs & GPUs. If you are concerned about upgradeability (as your headline suggests) I would consider building an AMD machine since Intel is infamous for obsoleting their own platforms at the drop of a hat and AMD is less so.



As a console owner (both PS3 and 360), from what I understand the PC version's graphics options differ from the console versions, as the devs tune the finished product for each platform. In essence, a PC game is created, then re-purposed for consoles to run cleanly. Certainly, there is a difference between Crysis 2 on the PC vs. consoles. Especially considering the latest DX11 upgrade on Crysis 2.

As for AMD, I know the new A6/A8 CPUs just launched and they're cheaper, but the consensus seems to be on Intel's side in the gaming community, so I'll stick with the masses. Aside from the CPU, do you have any comments on the build components selected?

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a b 4 Gaming
July 13, 2011 4:52:20 PM

karpundir said:
JD - Thx for the detailed reply and recommendations. I am glad that my research panned out well and you make a good point about buying everything within a short enough time frame to make sure I don't have DOA product.

RE: GPU - I'm definitely convinced that goingt to a 570 is a good idea, especially after I read this article on Cyrsis 2 running DX11 today:

Do you have any specific recommendations on which 570s to consider? Is the EVGA 012-P3-1572-AR (overclocked to 797MHz) worth considering over the referece 1570 model for an extra $25?
I had read somewhere that the Superoverclocked 560 Ti at 900/1800 MHz was almost equivalent in performance to a reference 570. It would be cheaper to run 2 x 560s, too. Then again, I also read on these forums that a single card was more stable and better than running SLI at the moment.

I'm running 2 EVGA 012-P3-1572-AR in SLi, so I would recommend them - very fast and not too loud.

Quote:
SSD - I haven't seen many options for Sata III SSDs yet. I was just thinking of running the OS only on the 64GB SSD and that way I can flash the drive and re-install the OS without disrupting my installed games and programs. You make an interesting point about being spoiled. I like to treat myself to the goodies, but I was hoping for prices to drop before I got a larger SSD. Would the MBs I chose support two separate SSDs, should I pony up for a gaming drive down the road? I can see these dropping to half it's value next year when more people adopt SSD.


If a bigger one is not in your budget right now, there will be no issue if you add a second one later. I don' t know that prices will drop that much. my 240Gb Phoenix Pro is $20 more on newegg than what i paid for it 8 months ago. I did pick my up on sale though. The M4's at newegg are priced really well at $1.71-1.80 a GB.

Quote:
Water cooling - is it excessive or not? If I am running both OC'd GPU and CPU, wouldn't I get better performance and longer life out of the rig over fan based cooling?


I wouldn't say excessive, the new sealed kits are about the same price as a top end air cooler like the Noctua I recommended. I haven't seen any reviews that show Liquid (Stock kits) cools significantly better than air in most situations. custom liquid, yes, but then you are shelling out a few Ben Franklin's for that.

Quote:
Thanks again for your advice. I feel like I am getting closer to pulling the trigger on the whole setup.


No Problem, thats what the forum's for.

BTW the new APU's from AMD are for entry level system's and don't make good gaming processors.
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July 13, 2011 7:56:12 PM

Thanks again!

I think I will start with the single 570 OC GPU and then add a second down the road unless I am hungry for a better framerate once I get BF3 in the fall.

For the SSD, I saw a decent deal on an OCZ 3 (120GB) unit for only $70-80 more, so I may go for that after all. Then down the road, I can add a larger one when prices ease.

I'll stick with air cooling since it does make me a bit nervous about the prospect of a leak in coolant and I haven't handled water cooling before.


ONE MORE QUESTION:

On Anandtech, there is an article that comments on running a Z68 over a P76, especially when using an SSD. Check here for the article:

If you agree that I should go that route, then I would possibly consider this one: which has 4 x SATA 3 slots and better for future expansion where I expect I will be running 2 HDDs and 2 SSDs

So far, the new build is running about CDN $1400-$1500 + tax, which is what I figured I would spend from the outset. Once I finalize the specs, I will post it for final thoughts.


P.S. I don't know why my links aren't working!?!
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a b 4 Gaming
July 14, 2011 8:54:24 AM

karpundir said:
ONE MORE QUESTION:

On Anandtech, there is an article that comments on running a Z68 over a P76, especially when using an SSD. Check here for the article: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4456/sandy-bridge-buyers-...

That article is asuming that Smart Response Technology (SSD caching) is a good thing, which it isn't a big a deal as it was made out to be. SSD caching uses a small 20-30GB SSD to pre-cache from a regular HDD or other slower media. Here is THG's take on it: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-z68-express-s...

Quote:
If you agree that I should go that route, then I would possibly consider this one: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681... which has 4 x SATA 3 slots and better for future expansion where I expect I will be running 2 HDDs and 2 SSDs

THG didn't especially like that ASUS MB, they liked the ASRock Z68 Extreme4 http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/asrock-z68-extreme4...

the above article also shows that the is little to no difference in the performance of the P67 and Z68 chipset, unless you are AV encoding, in which case the Z68 kicks butt because of Virtu.

I have been eyeing this one for my son's build:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD4
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
if fixes the only issue THG had with the Gigabyte Z68X-UD3H-B3 in the above review, OC. they it goes from a 7 phase power to a 16 phase power VRM.

Quote:
P.S. I don't know why my links aren't working!?!

just copy/paste the link, don't us the "insert a url" icon on the editor.
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