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Just Looking For Suggestions to Tweak a New Build

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September 14, 2011 6:02:33 AM

I'm working on a new system which is going to almost be exclusively a gaming machine.

CPU: Intel i5-2500k
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212
Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 Pro
RAM: Corsair Vengeance 4 GB
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB
PSU: Corsair 750W, don't know the model#
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB
Case: In-Win Digital Lite BUC or Cooler Master HAF 922

Approximate Purchase Date: Within 2 months
Budget Range: ~$600
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Movies/Streaming TV
Parts Not Required: GPU, PSU, DVD, Sound Card, Network Card
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: NewEgg, Amazon or TigerDirect are the ones I'm familiar with
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Just Intel for the CPU, as I've decided on an i5-2500k, and so parts compatible to that.
Overclocking: Yes
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: I mentioned parts of what I was planning to use and someone said to get a different GPU, but I was actually given the listed card as a gift and am planning to cannibalize it. If it would be better to just outright replace it, I might consider it, but so far I haven't had any issues with it to begin with. I may crossfire it with another identical card, too. I don't know the model of the PSU, but I know it's Corsair and it's 750W, and I trust the guy who gave it to me that it's newish and I know Corsair myself, so I have no doubts that it will be a good supply.

I'm planning on keeping this build for between 3 and 5 years and it is almost exclusively going to be a gaming machine. In particular, I have these questions:

#1 - I see a Gigabyte Z68 board recommended most of the time, but from my understanding the only difference is that it can use the integrated video on the i5, which I don't care about, and SSD caching, which I may skip in favor of getting a moderately large SSD drive down the line. Given that, there doesn't seem to be a reason to get a more expensive Z68 board, or am I wrong? Secondly, if I need to down the line I can replace the 2x2GB RAM with some 2x4GB sticks, and it won't matter that the first slot is blocked by the cooler (From reviews I've read of the board). I understand that 4GB is enough for gaming now, and 8GB is overkill.

#2 - The Cooler Master HAF 932 was actually recommended to me, but I went to Fry's to actually see the thing, and I have to say - I'm not building a juggernaut here. The 922 was a lot smaller, but the case looked kinda cramped when I considered the 6870, which is a fairly large card. The guy at Fry's said he has a BUC himself and would recommend it instead of most of the other cases they carried, but they didn't have a display model and I can't really find any reviews or info about it. Mostly, I just want to be sure that the case can fit the CPU cooler and the GPU well.

#3 - I live in Arizona, so the ambient temperature here is generally a bit higher than average. Should I look at a liquid cooling system or, given that I'm designing (What I think is) a relatively simple machine, will air cooling be fine? The Hyper 212 comes up a lot, so I'm fairly comfortable getting that to cool the CPU.

And if anyone has a suggestion about a tweak or replacement part, I'm open to suggestions. I'm relatively at ease with computers, including BIOS/overclocking - I'm just not much of a system builder, so these are the parts I've come up with after diving into the abyss and mucking about for a while. More knowledgeable opinions are welcome.
September 14, 2011 6:30:33 AM

I own the Haf x "Juggernaut" as you put it... and damn glad to have it too. The Cable management is beyond perfect. It all goes out of the way where it should be. Leaving a nice empty cavern to install all your goodies. Plus it has wheels to push around and is very quiet. What's not to like.

Z68 and SSD's are nice together. I use the MSI Z68 GD65A with a bunch of OCZ Vertex 3's in Raid o off a i7 2600k CPU clocking in at 4.2 gig. Nice little system.

My previous builds were the antec 900 cases and I used to struggle, bleed and fix cuts and scrapes every time I build inside an antec. No more.

Also the Haf X gives you 5 bays on the bottom with hot swap racks that are NOT in the way of the video cards at all, no matter how big the GPU's are.

I don't think they make a CPU cooler taller than the HAF X.

There are bennies to having a Juggernaut. No worries about stuffing a tiny midtower.
September 14, 2011 7:51:57 AM

i don't think your build will cast $600 . the 6850 can overclock close to the 6870 overclocked , in a game like crysis the difference will be about 7 fps
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September 14, 2011 8:03:18 AM

Is 500GB enough storage for you?

This 1TB SpinPoint F3 is often recommended $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 6870 and 6850 are so closely priced its really not worth "downgrading"

Cheapest 6850 on NewEgg: PowerColor AX6850 1GBD5 $130 (after reabte)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Cheapest 6870 on NewEgg: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 $154 (after rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HAFX - Very unnecessary if your on a budget to be honest. Its super expensive, super big and I wouldn't advise it unless your on a more flexible budget or physically need the space for and E-ATX motherboard or watercooling. Just get yourself a nice mid-tower ATX case for around half the price and spend the money saved on a 60GB SSD, or upgrade your Graphics card choice. Either option will provide more performance than having a BIG case :) 

If you already have one 6870, grabbing another one and running them in crossfire would provide some awesome performance and that 750w Corsair PSU should easily be able to handle it :) 

RAM - 8GB 1600MHz CL9 1.5v is recommended: G.Skill Ripjaws $55 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard - Gigabyte Z68-UD3H $160 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The reason the Gigabyte board is more often recommended is because it offers the same features as ASUS at just as high quality, and z68 offer exactly the same features as p67 + a few more as well and to top it all off, its cheaper too!
September 14, 2011 11:27:41 PM

Thanks for the replies. It wasn't really how big the case was that I was concerned about, just that nothing in it gets in the way. The HAF 922, for example, was a decent size instead of being gargantuan, but it had such a massive internal drive rack that I could see it being a problem, unless part of that can be removed. Like I said, I'm not really a system builder, so I know essentially jack about cases.

I'm mostly concerned with the mobo: Things like changing out an HDD for an SSD or xfiring a 2nd card can be done down the line, if/when I need to. That's why the first and most important question was about the motherboard. :p  The last time I looked around at parts, I could have gotten a P8P67 for about $125, which is why I was tending toward that instead of the Gigabyte board. I guess the question now is, assuming that I have plans to get a moderate-sized HDD now and upgrade to completely using an SSD down the line, is throwing in a small SSD cache drive and getting a Z68 board a massive improvement in performance? It's been so long since I assembled a computer that I've only stayed quasi-current, and SSD caching is something new to me. From what I understand there's not much of a practical difference between something installed on an SSD and something installed on an HDD which is cached to an SSD.

Edit: I feel I should probably clarify. At the moment, at least, I view an SSD as an investment, being better to pay more for a good quality, say ~300GB drive when I have the chance to get one, or especially if I find an amazing deal on one, which will last not only through the machine I'm looking to build but probably through its successor as well. However, if a basic HDD and a small SSD cache drive effectively work the same, then I'm all for that 'cause I know it will be a lot cheaper.

A 500GB drive is enough, because I play both PC and console games and never really pushed past ~225GB on a drive, as I don't tend to buy a new game every single week. I tend to find games I like and play the hell out of them.
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