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System Build, general questions

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August 10, 2011 12:40:53 AM

Hey all,
I have spent a decent amount of time on these forums reviewing advice and whatnot over the last few years. I've been planning to build a gaming rig/workstation for a while now, and I finally have the money, and I had a few questions about my build.
This is not the first computer I've built, but it is the first one I'm building for me. :bounce: 
Uses are primarily gaming and engineering work (Aerospace Student).
Battlefield 3 is the big game I'm planning for, but want some future proofing, I probably wont be updating for several years.
Price for build shipped is ~2.3k, which is a bit higher than hoped, but manageable.
Advice I'm looking for is a basic review for anything I might be missing, places where I could save some money without losing performance, and any comments on the build in general, whether it should serve my purposes, quality of components etc.
Note: Already have a laptop for basic word processing, etc.


3
Nippon Labs 19.7" SATA III Flat Cable with Left Angle Model SATA3L-0.5M
$6.99 -$0.50Save $19.47

1
LG DVD±RW SuperMulti Drive Black SATA Model GH22NS50 Bulk - OEM
$18.99 $18.99

1
NZXT Phantom PHAN-001BK Black Steel / Plastic Enthusiast ATX Full Tower Computer Case
$139.99 $139.99

1
Western Digital VelociRaptor WDBACN3000ENC-NRSN 300GB 10000 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
$149.99 -$10.00 Instant $139.99

1
Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
$64.99 -$5.00 Instant $59.99

1
SAMSUNG P2770HD Rose Black 27" 5ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor Built-in HDTV Tuner & Speakers
$369.99 -$70.00 Instant $299.99

2
EVGA 012-P3-1571-AR GeForce GTX 570 HD w/Display-Port (Fermi) 1280MB 320-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support ...
$329.99 -$10.00 Instant $639.98

1
PC Power and Cooling Silencer Mk II 950W High Performance 80PLUS Silver SLI CrossFire ready Power Supply
$169.99 -$20.00 Instant $149.99

1
Microsoft SideWinder X6 Black Keyboard Win USB English
Model #:AGB-00001
$69.99 $69.99

1
Mionix NAOS 5000 7 Buttons USB Laser Mouse
$89.99 -$20.00 Instant $69.99

1
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
$59.99 $59.99

1
Mionix Propus 380 Mouse Pad
$19.99 $19.99

1
BIOSTAR TP67XE (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Model #:TP67XE (B3)
$139.99 -$15.00 Instant $124.99

1
Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I72600K
$314.99 $314.99

1
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM
$99.99 $99.99

1
NZXT FN-140RB 140mm Case Fan
$9.99 $9.99

2
NZXT FS-200RB-BLED 200mm SILENT Blue LED Fan with ON/OFF Switch
$22.58 $45.16
Subtotal: $2,283.47

I've already dropped a blue ray drive, went with 8gb of ram instead of 16gb, staying with stock cooler for the moment, as I don't plan on OC'ing much if at all at first.
I know the blue led fans are unnecessary, but I want the additional cooling, and they are only slightly more expensive than the standard NZXT fans. (I'll pay $10 or so for bling :sol:  lol)
Mouse and keyboard are flexible, but I want good performance, and I have big hands (palm a basketball easily) and usually palm the mouse, and this mouse seems good for that--recommendations would be appreciated though.
I would really like SLI unless someone can offer a good reason not to, would be helpful for all applications I'm considering. (Plus, good future proofing... and sexiness :love:  lol)
The monitor is big, I know 24" would be cheaper, but this seemed like a really good deal, and I could get rid of my 720p tv, saving myself precious room in my room (umm... :ouch:  wording lol).
I know i5 is good enough for gaming, but other applications (3d modeling, code compiling, rendering, etc.) the i7 is advantageous.
I've read good reviews of the biostar online (including on Toms), but haven't used anything by them before, not sure how good the board really is--price is right though.
Thanks all! :hello: 
August 10, 2011 1:01:13 AM

Hello Diablosangelis;

Good looking stuff there. Keeping the initial costs down by skipping things you can 'add later' can be a useful strategy.

Sure, that monitor might be big - but it's still only 1920x1080 resolution.
Pass on the 2x GTX 570s for a single GTX 580. Add one down the road or sell the 580 and get a next gen video card when you 'feel the need'. (that's what I call future proofing - a future GPU)

You (and your games) aren't likely to notice the difference beween the i5-2500K and the i7-2600K.

Maybe drop the 'slow' VelociRaptor for a 'fast' SSD boot drive. ntel 320 Series 120GB SSD $225 or similar performance part. A net increase in cost but a boost in performance.
For a cost neutral part: Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III Solid State Drive (SSD) $114

You could get by with a one notch lower PSU (850W class) but that's not a major savings. Silencer Mk II 950W was on sale a while back for $109. I like that price better for this model.
PC Power & Cooling Silencer MkII 950W PSU Review @ HardOCP

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August 10, 2011 4:36:08 AM

Hey, WR2, thanks for the advice.
Sticking with the single GTX 580, or even a single GTX 570, would save money now, its a good idea, but I was hoping to be able to max out BF3 with eye candy, and I wasn't sure on a single card, but I could always upgrade, you're right... could save me a few hundred right now.
The monitor was appealing for the additional real estate and the HDTV tuner, plus the good price. I know resolution is only 1080p, but I haven't seen better resolution for anywhere near that price.
I know games wont notice the difference in CPUs, but my other apps will appreciate hyper threading, etc. (Modeling, rendering, compiling, etc)
As far as hard drive, I hadn't seen that intel--my concern with SSDs is that I was planning on using the Raptor for a boot drive, as well as for games and certain programs that could benefit, and size was a concern. Again, I hadn't seen that intel, its out of stock, that might be why, so I'll have to think on that a bit more closely. I do know I don't want less than 100gb though, which is pricey. I also had a few concerns about lifetime of SSDs, although Intel is supposed to be fantastic. It does seem from reviews that there is really no comparison of speed though, so that it seems like a smart play...
I like that price better too on the power supply, maybe we can convince newegg to bring it back lol.
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Related resources
August 10, 2011 2:49:46 PM

1) Good points by WR2.^

2) Almost all monitors made today are 1080P(1920 x 1080) regardless of the diagonal dimension. 27" is a good size which keeps text items a bit larger so you can read without zooming. Only a 2560 x 1600 30" monitor would be better, but they are >$1000.
If you want more real estate, add another identical monitor. You will find it to be one of the most useful additions.

3) A GTX580 will run anything at 1080P well today, even with dual monitors. If you should ever need more, there is a GTX590. But, in 6 months, we will see 28nm parts from AMD and Nvidia, and that is a more likely upgrade. It would be simplest to upgrade by selling your current card in favor of something stronger. I doubt that you will want to do that. I don't like sli when a single card will do the job. You pay more for a psu, motherboard, and cooling. It is more complex, and some games do not respond well to multi gpu's.

4) To run a GTX580, you need a 600w psu, a GTX590 needs 700w.
My short list of quality psu's would include PC P&C, Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, and XFX.
That silencer950w is on the egg at $130, but it is strong enough to run two GTX580's.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5) The 2600K is as good as it gets. If $100 is important to you, the 2500K will be better for gaming. If you anticipate using apps that can utilize more than 4 cores, then spend the extra $100 for one. Games hardly ever use more than 2 or 3 cores.

6) The velociraptor is a fine conventional hard drive for the OS, or at least it was before the SSD arrived. Today, the SSD is about 10x faster in the things the OS does, and I love them for that; everything you do will feel quicker. A 80gb to 120gb SSD will hold the os and a number of apps. Today, I like Intel for the reliability, either the 320 or 510 series is good. Pay little attention to synthetic benchmarks, that is not what we do. Most SSD's will perform about the same as an OS drive. Do not worry about SSD longevity. The Intel 320 has a 5 year warranty, and it will be obsolete long before that. Intel is taking no risk, heavy daily use will not use up the write capacity for 10 years. Even if it did, the drive remains readable, so you can still rcopy it to a new device.

7) You get a "K" so you can overclock. It is really simple, at least for something modest like 4.0. Just up the multiplier to 40 and leave everything else on auto.

8) I suggest you get an aftermarket cooler up front when it is easier to install. I hate to rip apart a working pc to do it later. A cooler will keep your cpu cooler, and the large fan will be quieter than the stock intel cooler. It need not be expensive. $30 will get you a Xigmatek gaia, or a cm hyper 212.

8) If you have big hands, like me, look at the logitech G500 lazer mouse:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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August 10, 2011 3:13:25 PM

Diablosangelis said:
I know games wont notice the difference in CPUs, but my other apps will appreciate hyper threading, etc. (Modeling, rendering, compiling, etc)
Really, how much of that kind of stuff do you do? Five hours a week? Ten?
It's not like the 2500K won't run that stuff, and run it VERY well.
You can get 2600K hyper-threading performance levels out of 2500K with a reasonably mild overclocking.

If you're planning on making a living (earning money) with modeling, rendering, compiling, audio/video editing then of course you want the 2600K. For a casual or hobbyist dabbler, it's a luxury you can easily get by without.


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August 10, 2011 7:23:54 PM

Thank you all very much for the advice. I'm definitely dropping the SLI, and a couple other minor changes, got me down to 2k with a GTX 580, but only one 1TB WD Caviar Black--I read that they are essentially the same performance as a raptor, but much better price for capacity.

As far as the CPU, I agree the i5 is a great chip, but as an AE student, I'll be doing CFDs (Computational fluid dynamics), solid modeling, surface modeling, compiling etc on a very regular basis, especially with my heavy interest in propulsion and high speed aerodynamics. I'm getting into the 4k level courses on flows, propulsion etc, and I just feel the i7 is a worthwhile investment given the amount of CPU intensive work I will be doing over the next few years (planning on Masters as well). It just seems like a worthwhile investment, although I do agree that its overkill for many things.

I definitely like the hyper 212, nobody has anything bad to say about it, but it seems like it will interfer with my side fan in the NZXT phantom... Same thing with the Xigmatek... I was originally thinking a corsair h60, and could probably do it now that my costs are down... Still not sure though, so if anyone has any better alternatives, let me know. I also was under the impression you could hit ~4 on stock cooling pretty easily, please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm still looking at SSDs, I'll probably end up with one, but trying to decide capacity for OS, a couple games, etc. Plus, I kind of like the new price, so I'd have to find a good deal on one...
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August 10, 2011 8:59:47 PM

A little more research shows the corsair line interfers with the side fan as well... which is really annoying, it seems like it interfers with most coolers...
looks like the Noctua NH-U9B SE2 92mm SSO CPU Cooler would fit, and performs well, but it is kind of expensive...
How effective are side fans for cooling? I'm assuming it will have some significant effect on GPU temps, and is worth the hassle of finding a CPU cooler that will fit... Which may not be accurate.
I'd be glad to hear opinions on going with a different cooler and losing the side fan vs. keeping the side fan with the above cooler or similar.
Thanks!
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August 10, 2011 10:33:11 PM

I've not been impressed with side fans. You can make a case for them in CFX/SLI setups as they can help prevent 'dead zones' of air movement between dual GPUs. We've seen quite a few people testing with, and without side fans over the years and the performance never seemed significantly different.

Another great 92mm cooler at a reasonable price: XIGMATEK LOKI SD963
XIGMATEK LOKI review
It's certainly a major step up over the stock fan that will allow 4Ghz OC but at higher temps. The Loki is a good compromise in cooling in a case with tight clearances.
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August 10, 2011 11:04:15 PM

I also am unimpressed by side fans; I think they disrupt the natural front/bottom intake to top/rear exhaust.

The NZXT phanthom is 8.74" wide, that is 221mm. Most good tower coolers, including the hyper212 will be about 160mm tall.
They should fit , at least without the optional side fan. A tower cooler is more effective than top down coolers because it directs the heated air out the back or top of the case. If you want the best downdraft cooler, look at the noctua nh-c14:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You must get the case you love, but personally I think the phantom is high on style, and lacking on cooling functionality.
But, it will have sufficient cooling without optional fans to do the job.
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August 10, 2011 11:21:52 PM

Yeah, that does seem to be the consensus when it comes to side fans, at least from forum posts and reviews I've read... I'm now thinking Hyper 212+, without side fan, which basically eliminates the cost of the cooler... Win-win in my book.
Thanks again everyone for the help/advice!
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