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Building my first gaming PC

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Last response: in Systems
August 22, 2011 8:33:01 AM

Hi, so I'm a long-time pc gamer but first-time builder. I've upgraded pieces to premades before but always been too afraid to take the plunge and build one myself. I've finally decided to do it. I'm building this computer to share with my girlfriend, the primary purpose is gaming, including streaming and recording video of myself playing/turning them into vods with audio and editing. I have a few questions, the first is just if everything seems fine with my choices so far or if there's anything I should know/have missed:

NZXT Tempest EVO Enthusiast Mid Tower Case

Asus P8Z68 Deluxe Intel Z68 LGA1155 Motherboard

Intel Core i7 2600k

16 GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 RAM

Radeon HD 6970

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB Hard Drive

Cooler Master Silent Pro M 850W Power Supply

A few notes:

1. I don't care for advice on an Nvidia vs ATI GPU. If there is some issue I might have with compatibility, then I would be happy to hear about it. Also, as far as an actual company from which to get the HD 6970 (I had chosen Visiontek simply because they had a reasonable price for one that I could get shipped to Europe, but advice on this would be welcome). Other than that, no thanks.

2. I chose an i7 2600k over an i5 2500k even though I know that for gaming they would be practically identical and the latter would be significantly cheaper because I plan on using this for a while and I have no idea what future applications it might be used for, so in this instance I'd rather just spend more now. Similarly, I chose to go with 16 GB of RAM even though I probably wont use all of it just because of how cheap the difference between 8 GB and 16 GB is that I'd rather just go for more now, so money-saving tips in these two regards aren't needed. Advice for different brands of RAM is still certainly welcome though.

3. I'm not getting an SSD. I love them, they're awesome, and I can't wait to have one, but I'm not satisfied with the price for capacity right now so I wont be getting one at this time (not even to use as a boot drive with a larger hard drive for storage). That said, I'm not very content with my choice in a hard drive, so suggestions here are definitely welcome.

On anything beyond these notes, all suggestions are definitely welcome. A few more specific questions though:

1. I don't want to go with the stock cooler on my CPU, but I have no idea what to do as far as upgrades to that. I'm not really wanting a huge water-cooled setup, I haven't heard amazing things about the small self-contained loop water-coolers, and I don't know what air cooling I could use that would be good while overclocking my CPU (not extreme overclocking, but I'd like to at least get it over 4 GHz). Help?

2. Should I bother with a fan controller?

3. With everything I'm going to have running, my big GPU, and the 6 fans in the case, will an 850W PSU be fine?

4. I don't know anything about monitors, just that I want a flat-screen that will be good enough to let me enjoy my GPU, but not extremely expensive. I also will only be going with 1 monitor regardless due to space issues in our apartment.

5. If you have any good places to buy computer parts online that ship to France I would certainly welcome any suggestions. I already have tigerdirect, dabs, maplin, skinflint. Thanks.

Approximate Purchase Date: The closer the better.

Budget Range: Under $2000.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, the internet - streaming, work.

Parts Not Required: All parts required.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I would love newegg, but they don't ship to France. As is I've been looking on tigerdirect primarily as well as the other ones I've listed above a bit.

Country of Origin: France.

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU (not actually, but with Sandy Bridge...), AMD GPU.

Overclocking: Probably.

SLI or Crossfire: Not at this date, possibly in the future if necessary.

Monitor Resolution: No idea, see monitor question further up.

Additional Comments: Quieter would be ideal, although I'm willing to accept if some of the things I've chosen wont be very quiet and there are no really quieter alternatives.

Any help in general or answers to my specific questions will be hugely appreciated. Thanks in advance!

More about : building gaming

a b 4 Gaming
August 22, 2011 2:33:33 PM

One comment about the memory. Those heatsinks are really high so they will interfere with most CPU coolers.
Try checking out for the VengeanceLP series that has much lower profile heatsinks.

1. CPU cooler:
I myself use a Scythe Mugen 3 and it is effective and quite silent. So I can recommend that. $50 or so in the US
Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is also cheap and effective. $30 or so in the US

2. Only if silence is key for you, so that you can adjust the fan speeds. Generally the 120mm fans are not loud or you can get ones that are adjustable.

3. When you have a good PSU, yes 850W is enough. Even if you Crossfire the 6970.
However pick a better PSU.
The seasonic X850 would of course be great but at $200 it is hardly cost effective.
So instead look for ones such as:
Corsair AX850, Corsair HX850, XFX XXX 850.

Here is a reference. If the PSU you are looking for is not in Tier 1 or Tier 2, you don't want it for this kind of a build.
Newegg tiered PSU list

4. Go to a computer store and check out the monitors, buy what looks and feels good.
Samsung is a pretty safe bet, but there are several other manufacturers which work just as good. AOC, Dell, LG, Viewsonic etc.
For gaming use you should have fast response times <5 ms.

IPS panels generally are the best with the best viewing angles and color accuraccy. But generally more expensive. With the response times usually being between 5-7ms.
So for gaming use the other panels might be better, but generally most types work fine.

5. Well check out amazon as well, some of their prices are ok. Although you might have to stick to the european amazon sites.
August 22, 2011 3:08:57 PM

Antec or Corsair PSUs are better than the CM one.
CoolerMaster makes top-notch fans, but not great PSUs.
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August 23, 2011 12:18:59 PM

First of all, thanks for all the feedback. So I'll definitely be going with LP versions of the Vengeance, thanks for the tip.

As far as the PSU goes, would a Corsair AX750W be enough for overclocking, my single GPU, and the fans assuming that I don't decide to ever go with 2 GPU's in Crossfire? More importantly, would using a smaller wattage PSU decrease my energy costs, or not really if the consumption is the same (I don't mind a slight increase in cost now to get a more capable PSU, but lower energy costs in the long run would be preferable)?

As far as the cooling goes, both the Scythe Mugen 3 and the Coolermaster Hyper212+ look like great options, my only concern is will they fit into my case (a NZXT Tempest)?

Also, one last question that I forgot earlier: do I need any sort of software (other than Windows 7) to format my hard drive? It's been a while since I've replaced a hard drive, but I remember previously I had to use something when I did it, but that's possibly because I was copying over my old hard drive.

Thanks again for all the help.
a b 4 Gaming
August 23, 2011 4:01:22 PM

Yes AX750 is just fine for OC and a single 6970. The wattage doesn't have much impact on the energy bill, since it only draws what it needs from the wall. So if your computer needs 400W the 750 or 850W psu only draws that much from the wall.

They should fit just fine. The mugen is quite big and i was able to fit it to Antec 300 illusion just fine.
Check the tempest comments from, they might list used configurations for fitting.

You should be ok with just Windows 7.