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Feedback for $1500 - 2000 all-round gaming build (first build)

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August 15, 2011 3:13:30 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: 1 month from now.
Budget Range: $1500 - $2000
System Usage from Most to Least Important: I will be using this system for gaming, programming, some graphical manipulation(not much) and regular use of virtual machines (Using VirtualBox).
Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, disc drive
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: None really, I'll find some danish webshop where I can get my parts the cheapest.
Country of Origin: Denmark
Parts Preferences: Nothing is set, except for perhaps the CPU being Intel.
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: No
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 (ASUS PA246Q)
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Initial thoughts
I've never put together a computer from scratch.
My primary concern is a rookie mistake and picked up some components that don't fit with the other components or because the size of the component wont fit into my case.
My goal is a system with a good balance between noise and performance.
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CPU: Intel Core i5-2400
It seems to me that the i5-2400 is where I'll get the most out of my money.
Should I rip off the default cooler and get my self a new? How much noise do the preinstalled cooler make, and when I'm not going to overclock the system, will it make sense to get another cooler just for the noise?

Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 PRO
I went for the P67 chipset because I didn't need any onboard GFX, and I wanted the SATA 3.0 so I could utilize the full throughput of the SSD.
The reason I'm going for the PRO instead of the regular is the Intel network controller, I recently had to get a seperate network card for 2 boards running with Realtek. I know this might just be bad luck, but I got spooked and with a $25(regular ~ $190, pro ~ $215) difference I would rather pay and not worry.
I've also been looking at the Sabertooth P67 which is about $10(sabertooth ~ $225) more than the PRO. But I can't really figure out the difference, except for the shielding which is suppose to give a better cooling. Does it really give better cooling or is it just a gimmick. I don't mind paying the extra $10 for a cooler system.

Memory: Corsair Vengaence 12GB Triple Channel Kit or Corsair Vengaence 8GB Dual Channel Kit
Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 16GB Dual Channel kit
This is where I get confused.
These modules should be the fastest (Hz) for my selected motherboard (since I have no intention of overclocking). But when I look at the Intel Core i5-2400 specifications it says "Memory Types: DDR3-1066/1333". Does this mean I might as well go for the 1333 Hz versions because my CPU will force the Hz down anyway?
The 8GB set is CL8 where the 12GB set is CL9, but what exactly does the "Triple Channel" and "Dual Channel" means? Do I get 3x the bandwidth with the triple ones and only 2x the bandwidth with the dual?
If anyone could explain this I would very much appriciate it (or get me a link to a simple overview, I've searched and read but I still don't fully get it).

Craphics card: Gainward GTX 580 3072MB "Phantom"
Gainward GTX 570 "Phantom"
I got a bit carried away with the graphics card. I'm looking for a card that don't get to hot and doesn't make to much noise. I've also looked at the "Phantom" 560ti and 570 versions, but I can't seem to find any reviews matching the 3 cards against each other with performance and noise (and tempature although I'm not all that worried about the tempature).
My thought was if the noise was to annoying I could underclock the GTX580, and get the performance of a 570 but making less noise, am I all wrong in this assumption?
I'm more than willing to look at other cards (Radeon as well), it just seems to me the Gainward "Phantom" cards have a good synergy between performance, noise and temperature.

SSD: Corsair Force Series 3, 120GB
I've seen the Crucial M4 recommended a lot of places, but when I look at the specs the Force 3 seems to be far superior and $20 cheaper (where I'm looking).

PSU: Fractal Design Newton R2 650W
650W should be more than enough for my setup (used a PSU Calculator, but I would love for a more), I've chosen the Newton R2 because its very quiete (looking at the spec page on Fractal Design, haven't really been able to find any reviews to confirm this).
But I feel like I'm missing something about the PSU, does this have all the right cables I would need, and is 650W in fact enough to run my setup?

Case: Fractal Design Core 3000
Fractal Design Define R3
Seems like a good case, it should be big enough for my components.
August 15, 2011 5:05:54 PM

I think if you are concerned about noise then it does make sense to replace the stock cooler. I don't have personal experience of what the Intel stock cooler sounds like, so I don't know if you should automatically buy an aftermarket heatsink or test the stock cooler first, before replacing it, if it isn't good enough for you. It should be easier to just install an aftermarket heatsink during the initial build, rather than trying to do it when everything is installed in the case.
This is a good one:
Noctua NH-U12P
http://www.komplett.dk/k/ki.aspx?sku=496004

If you aren't going to overclock then I would be skeptical that the Sabertooth offers anything else advantageous over the P8P67 Pro.

Theoretically triple channel memory offers three times the bandwidth of single channel, similarly dual channel offers double the bandwidth.
The Sandy Bridge memory controller only supports dual channel, so if you bought a triple channel set then it would run in single channel mode. So I would suggest going for an 8GB set.
If you do go for an aftermarket CPU heatsink then to avoid any issues with the RAM it is a good idea to get RAM without tall heatspreaders, otherwise you'd have to do all kinds of checking to make sure that they won't interfere with the heatink. Tall heatspreaders, if they are useful at all, aren't really necessary these days as DDR3 RAM with low voltages runs quite cool.
As for the speed/frequency you should get, 1600MHz is usually seen as the sweetspot, quite a few tests have shown that in some programs (and games) the gains from going above 1600MHz aren't usually worth the extra cost. However if the programs you run really do benefit from fast RAM, then you should get RAM with as high a frequency as you can get into the budget.
Sandy Bridge's memory controller makes it quite easy to install and use memory with frequencies above 1333MHz, you will have to go into the UEFI to set the correct frequency and timings, but this is something you should probably do anyway and will be easy.

I'd suggest getting the Gainward Phantom 580 with 'only' 1536MB of VRAM. You don't need 3GB unless you want to game on three monitors/extremely high resolutions.
Personally I wouldn't choose a GTX 580 for any kind of quiet build, unless I was watercooling it.
1920x1200 is not a very demanding resolution, anything from a 6870/GTX560Ti and up will have very playable framerates and high quality details in most games.

Yes a 650W PSU is plenty for a system with a GTX 580. And the Newton R2 has all the connectors you'd need.
http://www.sweclockers.com/recension/6233-nataggregat-i...
This review shows that the performance is decent and that the fan speed only gets up to ~1100RPM - it would have to be a terrible fan to be noisy at only 1100RPM.
The only question mark remains about the build quality/reliability.

Yes the Core 3000 will accommodate the components you have chosen so far, and can take quite large heatsinks and graphics cards: 160mm HSF clearance, 27/42cm GPU clearance.
Again, its probably not the best choice for a quiet case.
August 16, 2011 1:38:43 PM

Thank you very much for the memory walkthrough, cleared things up!

I think I'll try out with the stock cooler for the processor. The whole process of replacing the actual cooler kind of scares me, afraid I'll destroy something pulling the stock off or applying to much or to little thermal paste.
But I'm changing the memory to Corsair Vengeance Low Profile 16GB Dual Channel kit instead, so I got the option of replacing the cooler without having to worry about the memory. The 16gb might be overkill, but it's so cheap and I could use the extra ram for virtual machines and ramdisks.
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The graphics card has been downgraded the GFX to a Gainward GTX 570 "Phantom" instead of the 580. With the games I'm playing I should be able to manage with the 570, and hopefully the 570 is less noisy. And well most importantly I save some money on this downgrade.
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Quote:
Yes the Core 3000 will accommodate the components you have chosen so far, and can take quite large heatsinks and graphics cards: 160mm HSF clearance, 27/42cm GPU clearance.
Again, its probably not the best choice for a quiet case.

I've also been looking at the Fractal Design Define R3 (which should be quieter), and after changing the GFX (and gotten some money "back"), the Antec P183 V3 and NZXT H2. But when I compare the 3, I can't really decide, I like the design of the R3 better, the P183 and H2 has USB 3 support on it's front, on the inside the P183 seems to be the best case and the one with best noise reduction. The obvious price difference of course favors the R3 and is the one I favor out of the 3, with the P183 comming in on a very close second.

Anyone has anything to add on my thoughts above or a suggestion for completely different case? I'm open for anything the only deal braker is the design, to many shiny leds, windows and other bling gimmicks scares me off.
August 16, 2011 3:06:46 PM

The R3 is a good and popular choice. Many people are happy with it, so you would be justified in choosing that.

I think with the P183 you would have to remove the HDD cages next to the graphics card for a card that is 26.7cm long to fit. This would help in getting fresh air to the graphics card and rest of the system.

I don't think the H2 would be the best choice if you wanted to use up a lot of the HDD bays, as it might be more challenging to keep the cables tidy in that area of that case.
The H2 also gets criticised for not letting enough air in at the front, this can be rectified by moding as illustrated by SPCR: http://www.silentpcreview.com/nzxt-h2

I'm not 100% sure, but I would think that the stock heatsink doesn't come preinstalled, so you wouldn't have to remove it during the initial build if you did decide to use an aftermarket cooler.
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