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I5 Gaming System, [1200-1500] Advice?

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July 15, 2011 7:40:12 PM

Hey Guys,

So I've been doing a bit of talking to the computer people I normally do business with and am really quite confused and unsure what I should do. Basically, the system that I'm looking to buy is the first one listed below. This system will come to about $1200; I've got a budget of about $1500. I know next to nothing about computers, sadly, and am looking for a little advice.

I had a few questions for the knowledgeable. (I'm really grateful for anyone willing to take the time to answer any of these questions).

1. Are there any parts that stand out as being an exceptionally bad choice for a gaming system? Any parts I ought to upgrade, downgrade, swap?

2. How would this system stand up to A. Games that are currently on the market AND B. Would it last me any length of time, i.e., are games released in a few months going to be chugging at 20FPS.

3. Where would it stand in terms of upgrades? Would I be able to upgrade it in say, six months, without having to overhaul the whole thing and build a new system from scratch?

4. (This is kind of unrelated BUT I was wondering if there are any cases out there that'd help me deal with cat hair. I try to keep my system elevated off of the ground and keep the cat hair out of it but I find the grates still collect quite a bit of hair. The idea thing for me would be a finer kind of filter in front of the fans that I could clean off, rather than having to clean the fans themselves every couple of weeks.

5. Where would be a good place to start learning about hardware? I've always had an interest in it but feel kind of daunted by taking everything on at once. Anyone know of any good books, sites, etc, that'd provide an introduction?

6. Thanks in advance for taking a look at this system!

Coolermaster Haf 922 Mid Tower ATX Case Black 5X5.25 5X3.5INT Front Audio USB eSATA No PSU

Coolermaster Megaflow 200MM Red LED Case Fan 700RPM

XFX 750W PRO750W XXX Edition Single Rail ATX 12V 62A 24PIN ATX Modular Power Supply 80PLUS Silver

Gigabyte Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX LGA1155 Z68 DDR3 3PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 HDMI DVI SLI SATA3 USB3.0 Motherboard

Intel Core i5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB

Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus Direct Touch 4 Heatpipe Heatsink

G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Memory

Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 7200.12 1TB SATA 32MB Cache 3.5IN Internal Hard Drive OEM

ASUS DRW-24B1ST 24X SATA DVD Writer OEM Black

Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDMI DisplayPort Video Card

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM
July 15, 2011 7:54:10 PM

thats a great build. the only suggestions id give would be based on specific pricing of parts/ minor model preferences. Be aware that this build is set up for the addition of a second HD6950 card, which would fit in your budget or could be added at a later date, and would provide outstanding performance.
Sound like you do business with some good computer people.
There are cases with filters, and aftermarket fan filters, but i dont know enough to recommend one in particular, especially in regards to cat hair. have you considered shaving your cats?
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July 15, 2011 10:20:46 PM

The power supply is enouugh that the only upgrade you should need in 2-3 years is another gpu. you could bump it up the wattage to 800 to be a little ssafer but it should be fine. The single 6950 will play basically everything at atleast 60fps on the highest setting - it shouldn't be an issue unless your playing with extremly high resolutions.


I would recommend this case over that one (if you like the 922 more though than go for it) Lian Li PC-k62
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July 15, 2011 11:45:35 PM

Looks very good to me.
1) Parts are good. If you have the budget, consider a 80-128gb ssd for the os and apps.
2) at 1080P you will do very well. If you go to triple monitor gaming, or a 2560 x 1600 monitor, then you might want to go crossfire.
3) Your most likely upgrade would be a second graphics card. In time, the 22nm ivy bridge cpu's will be out, and they will work in your motherboard. But, I don't really see the need for that.
4) I think you would solve the problem with a case with a washable front filter. Antec makes several. The Antec 300, illusion model is a good case with those filters.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I used to have three cats that liked to sleep on top of my three CRT monitors:)  Since I now have lcd, they have been banned from the room:( 
5) I think there are some youtube video's of the assembly process. I suggest you download and read now, cover to cover, your motherboard and case manuals.
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July 16, 2011 11:52:18 AM

Hey Guys!

I'm on the verge of spending some cold hard cash on my new system. After sending this system to the people I do some business with they recommended two changes but I'm sure that I agree. I figured before I shell out 1.5k on a new system (That's with the second GPU) I would ask you guys for some final thoughts.

Basically I'm looking for a kind of pros and cons list of the two options that I have in front of me. The first option is:

1.Swap out the motherboard with:
Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3-iSSD Z68 1HDMI,xFire/SLI,4DDR3 w/Intel mSATA 20G SSD 311
And add a solid state hard drive:
CORSAIR FORCE 2.5" 60GB SSD 285MB/s READ 275MB/s WRITE

2. Keep the current setup but add a second (Either now or later):
RADEON HD6950

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So basically;

A. What kind of performance increase would I see with option (1) and option (2). Does one strike you as a better choice? With option (1) I'd be going a bit over my budget but I think the second card in option (2) would also put me very near the the same total.

B. Upgradability; is the possibility of upgrades significant enough to get the SSD Mobo? Would I be able to add a second card to that (1) Mobo or does that not have the ability to crossfire?

C. Thanks again for the advice; I've started looking though the manuals of some of the current hardware that I'm working with and basically googling anything that goes over my head.

Thanks,
G. Hatt

PS. Anyone who is a gamer have any advice on some games to test this bad boy out? I basically can only run WoW and some old shooters on the system that I have now? (Basically I'm a pessimest, I imagine shelling about 1.5k-1.8k and then installing a game and having it frameskip at anywhere near high settings.
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July 16, 2011 3:44:01 PM

To start off, all z68 mobos have SSD caching aka smart response. Basically an SSD can be used as a large cache for an HDD, which means that the SSD is used to automatically store commonly/recently used files from the HDD for quick access (since the SSD should be faster than the HDD) Files that are automatically stored in the cache will load faster. Take a look at this article here, as it actually benchmarks that mobo's onboard SSD:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-z68-express-s...

^The alternatives to ssd caching are simply using an HDD (seagate barracuda XT), or using a larger SSD to store your OS and program files (crucial m4). The latter is different from SSD caching because you are choosing what files to put on your ssd, and what files you store on your HDD. With ssd caching, certain files from a selected hdd will be automatically stored on the ssd.

What your pc dudes have suggested, im assuming, is that you would buy a 60gb SSD to store your OS and programs AND use the SSD caching feature of the iSSD to accelerate a storage HDD. The performance gains would be improved boot times, improved program loading (like game level loading), and file access times.

I personally dont think that these benefits are worth it at current SSD prices, especially considering that SSD is new tech, and there are alot of reported problems. And, if i were to consider an SSD, i certainly wouldnt use ssd caching, and it would only be a 120gb+ SSD (60gb is too tight imo) to insure that I could fit my OS and every program that I have on it.

The real gaming question comes down to: would you rather load the game and the levels faster, or do you want to play the game with better graphics and higher framerates.

Also, where are you planning on buying these parts? Listing prices would be helpful.

If you go the dual HD6950 route, which i would recommend, you will be able to max out almost every game except for the very latest, and those you will still be able to play at outstandingly high settings (just not full AA/AF) ie Metro 2033, The Witcher 2, Crysis 2. Frankly, it can be hard to tell the difference between the highest AA setting and the second highest, and these games will look AMAZING.

you will be able to add a second card to the ssd mobo.
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July 16, 2011 7:14:40 PM

a) Considering the extra $110 you pay for the ssd version of gigabyte mobo, I don't think it is much worth it. It would be better to get a larger ssd and use the whole thing for the os and apps. I think 60gb is cutting it a bit close. Look for 80gb or 120gb.

I would normally suggest the Intel 320 series, but they seem to have some issue if you should have a power failure. The faster, more expensive 510 series 120gb unit would work well. In the past, Intel has had the fewest returns:
http://www.behardware.com/articles/810-6/components-ret...

b) Tne Z68 chipset lets you use a ssd or part of a ssd for a cache to the hard drive. You could try it out. allocate a partition on your ssd as a cache, and see how it works for you. If you see little benefit, then remove it and add the space back into your C drive space.

I think you will do well with a 6950. If you want more, you will have options. No need to prematurely start with two.
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July 18, 2011 10:16:44 PM

Hey Guys,

So, for those of you who have been following this thread and answering my question, I figured I'd let you know what I finally decided to do. I've decided to go with the below listed system:

Coolermaster Haf 922 Mid Tower ATX Case Black 5X5.25 5X3.5INT Front Audio USB eSATA No PSU
Coolermaster Megaflow 200MM Red LED Case Fan 700RPM
XFX 750W PRO750W XXX Edition Single Rail ATX 12V 62A 24PIN ATX Modular Power Supply 80PLUS Silver
Gigabyte Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX LGA1155 Z68 DDR3 3PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 HDMI DVI SLI SATA3 USB3.0 Motherboard
Intel Core i5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus Direct Touch 4 Heatpipe Heatsink
G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Memory
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 7200.12 1TB SATA 32MB Cache 3.5IN Internal Hard Drive OEM
Asus DRW-24B1ST 24X SATA DVD Writer OEM Black
Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDMI DisplayPort Video Card
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM

I'm going to get this system and then plan on, for future upgrades, buying a second HD 6950 card and then after that probably a solid state hard drive. Of course, I play a lot of WoW, so depending on how bad it chugs with the single HD6950, I might see better FPS by getting the SSD instead of the HD6950.

The only other thing I'm still debating is 1. Which Case / Filters / Fans I'll get and 2. The PSU/Cooling System and 3. If I'm going to play with Overclocking.

I don't much about the relationship between hardware setups and performance (yet) but I thought you guys might find it interesting to see what my current system is and to give me any thoughts you might have about the magnitude of the upgrade. It's listed below:

INTEL Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz FSB1333MHz 6MB LGA775 Dual-Core
ASUS P43 P5QL-PRO 3PCI/ 1PCIE X16,4D.DDR2-1066MHZ 1333 /1066FSB,SATA GbL
OCZ XTC FATAL1TY OCZ2F8004GK 4GB DDR2 2X2GB DDR2-6400 800MHz CL 5-4-4-18 EPP Kit 2.1v
WD Caviar SE-16 / SATA-II 5000AAKS 500GB 7200RPM, 16MB, SATA-II
LG GH22NS30 SATA BLACK DVD±RW (22X+/-) DUAL LAYER w/ SW
Coolermaster eXTREME POWER+ 500W (RP-500-PCAR) 24/20PIN
ANTEC Three Hundred Mid Tower Gaming Chassis (No 3.5" Bay) w/Front USB & Audio, No P/S
MS Windows XP Home SP2 w/ 1 user License, CD & Manual
EVGA 01G-P3-1366-TR GeForce GTX 460 SE (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

Also; I'm thinking of selling the old tower + components for about $300. Too steep?
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July 18, 2011 11:54:05 PM

Also; are there any particular kinds of cases I should be on the lookout for? What makes one case more appropriate than another? I kind of want to get an exciting sort of case rather than the ol' bland one I have now.
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July 19, 2011 12:05:08 AM

again, it would be very helpful if you listed the prices, and from where you are buying.

heres a cool case from antec, with air filters that are extremely easy to access (its also just a great case):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
most of their cases have filters, i believe. if youre uncertain, google it.

that case can also be paired with this PSU, which is excellent and very well priced for a modular 850w:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...
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July 19, 2011 12:56:39 AM

your HDD can be faster, Samsung Spinpoint F3 is really quick, and it is at that price point, but with an SSD it probably doesn't matter... and you can get a cheaper DVD drive
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July 19, 2011 1:19:59 AM

I'm actually not going the SSD at this point; I will be in the future. Wenqi, are you saying I should go a bit faster on the HDD?
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July 19, 2011 1:25:26 AM

the spinpoint f3 1tb is by some measures, the fastest hdd available. but the 7200.12 is also a very fast drive.
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July 19, 2011 3:50:03 AM

genghiskron said:
the spinpoint f3 1tb is by some measures, the fastest hdd available. but the 7200.12 is also a very fast drive.


actually, the WD caviar black is the fastest drive, the samsung is as quick for about half the price. some 7200.12 are quick, but there are the entry level ones as well. i personally don't want to go with a seagate after 7200.11 but thats just me...
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July 19, 2011 11:32:00 AM

i said "by some measures"... do you know what that means?
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July 19, 2011 11:55:12 PM

opps sorry,
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July 20, 2011 12:18:38 AM

I was wondering about two other things; I know you guys have been more than helpful. But I was wondering if you had any thoughts on the performance increase I'll see (3dMark06 Benchmark = 17000 vs 30000 but I don't know what that'll amount to). Secondly, with: Antec DF-85 Black ATX Full Tower Computer Case (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) This case won't have any problems with two video cards / overheating? And do I "have" to have that PSU / how would the companion PSU match up to the one I was thinking of getting (performance wise).

- Greg
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July 20, 2011 12:42:14 AM

that case wont have any problems with THREE video cards, its enormous and well ventilated. dont think its the only choice, but i think its cool and has a good filter solution
pretty much any 750w or above psu made by Antec, XFX, Seasonic, Corsair, PC Power and Cooling will be a good psu.
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July 23, 2011 2:58:34 PM

Best answer selected by ghatt.
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