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New Builder with Specific Needs, Overdue Upgrade

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September 16, 2011 6:54:58 PM

Hello! Another newcomer here.

And right off the bat, I'm afraid I've got a lot of questions--some already answered, but there are always more.

To start things off, this will be the first computer I've picked out, let alone assembled. I've only used entry-level, hand-me-down types. I've made a few "upgrades," but nothing considerable. That said, I have been doing a considerable amount of research; going through dozens of other users' threads has also helped.

Additionally, I'd like to mention that I've been using my computer for eight, going on nine years. It boasts a clunky CRT, no support for SATA, integrated graphics (no AGP, even), and less than 200 GB of space. It works, but not well enough for what I try to do.

I'm not sure how feasible it is, but I would like to continue using this new computer for quite some time, even if some of its initial uses diminish over time (e.g., gaming requires lower settings).

Please forgive me if I'm overly specific in places. I thought it might help narrow things down. Anyway, I'm sure there's enough to read, so I'll just continue.

Approximate Purchase Date: This week (sooner the better)
Budget Range: $1000-1200 after rebate ($1500 maximum, but I'd prefer to avoid getting close.)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Programming, 3D modeling/rendering, virtualization, gaming, image editing, encoding (mostly audio, some video in the future), web browsing, watching movies, office
Parts Not Required: CPU (see below), motherboard (see below), mouse, keyboard, and speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, Micro Center (only if there's a great deal), amazon.com, tigerdirect.com [Anyone have any trouble with parts through Amazon?]
Country of Origin: United States
Parts Preferences: Intel, NVIDIA (see below), 21.5-23" LCD/LED (loose), mid tower case
Overclocking: Maybe (Down the line, and as allowed by air cooling.)
SLI or Crossfire: No (Down the line, if at all, but unlikely barring fortuitous circumstances.)
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (Not set in stone)
Additional Comments: Would like to have a quiet/cool computer that I can use for a number of years.

Note:
Recently I came across a sale and ended up getting my CPU and motherboard. I know that limits the purpose of asking, but I felt I couldn't pass up the price since I was already looking at them. But on the bright side, I have time to get a complete refund, if need be. That said, I left the original concerns (I wrote this days ago).

TL;DR warning: You can skip to the label "Current Build" if you're not up for a read.
---

Parts (preferred parts listed first):
CPU:
Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge $314.99
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge $219.99/$204.99
---
Pending a change of heart on my part, I will have the i7-2600K (have to pay for it and pick it up). I know, I know; the i5 is highly recommended for gaming builds, but I think the i7 would be more appropriate for my needs (and it was on sale). Plus, I consider this a long-term investment (not future-proofing, per se). My concern here's more of a waiting game (as in, will there finally be a larger price decrease (read: come on, competition)). But from what I can tell the decreases are usually over time, unpredictable, and when finally worthwhile, there are new toys available. Considering I'll be bumping up from a Pentium IV, though, anything I get will be worlds better.
  • I have the i7-2600k now.

    Motherboard:
    ---
    I was all set for a P67 or Z68 ASRock motherboard until I noticed the 1-year warranty, whereas the industry "standard" seems to be 3. Given that I would like to use this for a while, should I consider ASUS, Gigabyte, or MSI instead? From what I read ASRock's quality has increased over the past few years, so I'm not sure if it's possible to gauge that sort of long-term durability yet. I don't need a heap of features right away, but I would like to have some options for the future.
  • I have the ASRock Z68 Extreme 4 now.

    GPU:
    MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC $244.99/$224.99
    ASUS ENGTX560 TI DCII TOP $249.99/$229.99
    ---
    I'm open to suggestions here, but as my main OS is GNU/Linux, it seems that NVIDIA is the "winner" due to the (reported) better driver support. I realize I'll probably dual-boot Windows as I currently do, but if there are better options for a comparable price, please let me know. Again, common theme, I'd like something that can stay quiet/cool and consume less power than its similarly priced competitors. The reviews for MSI's Twin Frozr II/OC and Hawk trouble me, though, with a seemingly high rate of failure. Seems like that's just how it is. I listed the ASUS because I hear, though the MSIs have great cooling, they can be quite noisy. I'm also considering an EVGA because of the warranty and the time for which I'll likely keep this build. The games I'm able to play now are very, very limited (read: 2D). While I wouldn't consider myself a gamer by any means, I would like the chance for once (and at decent settings... *drools* BF3 looks nice). Would it be a bad idea to leave this out for a while? I know it's a waiting game, just wondering given the time of year.


    Case:
    Cooler Master HAF 912 $59.99
    Cooler Master HAF 922 $89.99
    Rosewill CHALLENGER $54.99
    Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 with USB 3.0 $59.99
    Rosewill Future $69.99
    Rosewill BLACKHAWK $99.99
    LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black $99.99
    LIAN LI Lancool PC-K59 Black $89.99
    ---
    I'm really not sure here. My first thought was the 912 for the great price, but then I saw the other options. Again, I'd like to be able to have a cool and quiet case, that also comes with easy-to-access air filters, for a modest price (< $100).

    If my research has been at all productive, I think that means a few things.

  • To keep things quiet and cool, I'd want to have larger, slower-moving fans. I can either have my fans controlled by my motherboard (if possible), by a fan controller, or always on with a direct connection to the PSU.
    Is this mostly user preference?


  • If I want to keep more dust out of the case, I'd want positive pressure with air filters on all intake fans.
    Based on the debates I encountered, some people seem to suggest neither setup will edge out the other in terms of dust control. I will still be cleaning my case regularly, but in anyone's experience, will I be disappointed with this combination? My current case is quite small, unfiltered, and impeded by IDE ribbons. When I clean it I find a reasonable amount of dust, but admittedly it's in a bad location. The new one won't be.

    I also saw mixed feelings about air filters so I was also wondering if anyone's had any trouble with cleaning for any case listed. What I read of the 912 (or was it the 922?) says that I'd have to remove the side panels to get at the bezel, and from there I'd still have to remove screws to get the filter out. Ideally I'd like to keep dust out while not hampering air flow too much. One final thing on the matter: do I only need filters for intake fans? For instance, the 912 seems to be meshed for a fan at the top but doesn't come with a shield/filter there. I get that I'd still have to clean, but if it's easier to clean filters and less dust inside the case, I'd prefer that.


  • Vented expansion slots could help GPU cooling in a positive pressure case.
    Are vented expansion slots that important for GPUs? If I go with a negative pressure setup, would I risk recycling hot air through those vents? I was reading about partially and completely sealed GPU coolers, so that's why I'm unsure. Many of the ones I'm considering don't seem to have that feature anyway, but I'm wondering. It seems like I could remove those slots--then I'm back to thinking about dust.


    Other than that, I'd really like a spacious mid ATX tower. My current computer only has space for four devices (two external 5.25", one external 3.5" (broken floppy), and one internal 3.5") without modification.


    PSU:
    650W
    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W $84.99/$69.99
    XFX Core Edition PRO650W $89.99
    Antec True Power New 650w $84.99/$59.99
    750W
    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750W $109.99/$99.99
    Antec High Current Gamer HCG-750 750W $84.99/$69.99
    Antec True Power New 750w $109.99/$89.99
    ---
    As I understand it, for light overclocking and the GPUs I'm considering, a good 650-W PSU should be more than sufficient. But I've read a little bit about capacitor aging--still not sure if I should worry about it--and my computer tends to be on a lot (not always under load, but nonetheless on). I think the chances of SLI are slim to none, because I figure by the time I will consider a second GPU I could get a cheaper and more efficient single card instead, possibly updating the PSU if needed. Beyond that, I can only see the addition of optical or storage drives in the future, like SSD. For all those reasons, I was considering the highly rated SeaSonic X 650, but then I saw its price. But if I hold off on a GPU, would a 650-W PSU be sufficient for any single card?
    750 seems like overkill, but I just included the ones I was considering.

    Storage:
    Mechanical:
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB $59.99
    ---
    This drive is just recommended so much. Open to suggestions for a similar price. I have about 200 GB of (IDE) storage right now; when my needs exceeded that I just used DVDs.
    SSD:
    I know this is like the poster boy for quiet and cool, but I'd like to wait for lower prices.

    RAM:
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 CL9 $51.99
    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 CL9 $51.99
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 CL9 $49.99
    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 CL9 $99.99
    ---
    I'm considering up to 16 GB because of virtualization and the other non-gaming needs, but it seems the prices for 8 GB are quite nice now and would give me the option to upgrade down the road. Based on the HSF choice (below), it seems that I also need to make sure I choose something with a low profile? I think I want 1.5V, just a little unclear on the speeds (I'm using DDR RAM right now).

    Aftermarket HSF:
    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus 120 mm CPU Cooler $29.99
    ---
    This one seems to be highly recommended. As I understand it, this would be needed for overclocking, but would it be a good investment nonetheless to keep things quieter at normal speeds? According to what I read at FrostyTech it's a bit louder at higher speeds, but compared to the stock? I also think it would fit in the cases I've listed, recalling the dimensions.

    Monitor:
    ASUS VH226H 21.5" 2ms(GTG) HDMI (1920x1080) $149.99/$129.99
    Asus ML228H 21.5" 2ms Full HD LED BackLight (1920x1080) $154.99/$139.99
    Asus VE228H 21.5" 5ms Full HD HDMI LED BackLight (1920x1080) $154.99/$144.99
    Acer G235HAbd 23" 5ms WideScreen LCD (1920x1080) $149.99
    Asus VH238H 23" LED HDMI 2ms Black Full HD (1920x1080) $179.99/$169.99
    ASUS VH236H 23" 2ms Full HD LCD (1920x1080) $179.99/$159.99
    ASUS VW224U 22" 2ms(GTG) LCD (1680x1050) $149.99/$129.99
    ---
    I'm at a total loss when it comes to monitors because I've only had two CRTs (including my current beast (1024x768)). I ended up compiling a list using Newegg. It seems that my build will necessarily be more expensive because of the need for a monitor. I was hoping I could find an old one not in use, but haven't so far, and am starting to think it'd be simpler to finally buy one. These "choices" are mostly based on resolution, price, and reviews. I'd really appreciate suggestions. And as I've never used a higher resolution, I'm wondering if something smaller will be suitable for me (which might also help me curtail the GPU budget). I do find myself wishing I had more screen real estate, but just kludge around it using workspaces.

    Optical:
    The only drives I have are IDE devices, since that's all my computer supports, so I'll probably get at least a $20 DVD burner combo--no need for Blu-ray. I figured I'll add this in once everything was settled.

    Current Build (GPU excluded):
    Component...........Model...............................Price/Rebate
    CPU.................i7 2600k............................N/A
    Motherboard.........ASRock Z68 Extreme4.................N/A
    Case................COOLER MASTER HAF 912...............$59.99/$49.99*
    PSU.................CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2..$84.99/$69.99
    RAM.................G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB (2x4GB) 12800...$51.99
    Storage.............Samsung Spinpoint F3 1-TB HDD.......$59.99*
    HSF.................COOLER MASTER Hyper 212.............$29.99*
    Optical.................................................$20.99*
    Monitor.............ASUS VH226H 21.5" 2ms(GTG)..........$149.99/$129.99*

    Sub Total (before shipping/tax/rebates): $457.93
    This still leaves me more than enough for a GPU budget in the $185-240 range, if I want to add it now. Without it I can still do almost everything I need. I know I excluded the CPU/motherboard prices, but together they were much less than the above parts.

    I'm sorry for writing a lot. I wanted to avoid bothering anyone, but the more research I conducted, the more bogged down I got in details and choices. It's my nature. Earlier I went through this process and ended up saying "forget it." Also, I know I mentioned having something quiet a lot throughout, and this is because the computer is in a bedroom. I might just have to get used to turning it off more.
    Anyway, thanks!

    Edit: Doh. Didn't realize two of the power supplies were the same.
    September 16, 2011 8:40:37 PM

    CPU : i7-2600K
    Programming, 3D modeling/rendering, virtualization, image editing, encoding
    Those are good reasons to go with i7.

    GPU: Whatever, 560Ti is a 560Ti...
    Asus one is a tiny little bit better.

    PSU: 650W with A-PFC
    Minimum Recommended System Power for video card(W) : 500 W
    Supplementary Power Connectors for video card : Two 6-pin connector!!

    Storage: okay, i understand your point of view!!

    RAM: Should be largely enough 8GB.

    Aftermarket HSF: the best for the price!

    Monitor:
    - 2ms
    - LED backlight
    (I'm still using a five old LCD, can't get rid of it. 1280x1024 seems a good resolution to my eyes)

    Optical: SATA drive to follow SATA HDD
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    September 17, 2011 5:08:17 PM

    Quote:
    PSU: 650W with A-PFC
    Minimum Recommended System Power for video card(W) : 500 W
    Supplementary Power Connectors for video card : Two 6-pin connector!!


    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 $84.99/$69.99
  • Active PFC
  • 2 x 6+2-pin

    XFX PRO650W - $89.99/$59.99
  • Active PFC
  • 2 x 6-pin, 2 x 6+2-pin

    Antec True Power New 650W - $84.99/$59.99
  • Active PFC
  • 2 x 6-pin, 2 x 6+2-pin

    I was also reading that the XFX PRO and the Enthusiast share basically the same internals, with some small differences, like the fans. Seeing as how the XFX has more PCIe connections, would that be the better choice? I'd have liked to get something modular, but the ones in my price range don't seem to be fully modular.

    Quote:
    Monitor:
    - 2ms
    - LED backlight
    (I'm still using a five old LCD, can't get rid of it. 1280x1024 seems a good resolution to my eyes)


    As I said, I'm really at a loss for monitors. If I could I would stick with this one, but that seems like a mistake. I don't know resolutions beyond the one I've used all these years, so even 1280x1024 is a big improvement to me. Is the LED backlight a must have?

    Quote:
    Optical: SATA drive to follow SATA HDD

    These were the ones I quickly made note of:
    ASUS 24X DVD Burner - 24X DVD+R/8X DVD+RW/12X DVD+R DL/24X DVD-R/6X DVD-RW/16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-R/32X CD-RW/48X CD-ROM Black SATA $19.99
    LITE-ON DVD Burner - 24X DVD+R/8X DVD+RW/12X DVD+R DL/24X DVD-R/6X DVD-RW/16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-R/32X CD-RW/48X CD-ROM Black SATA $17.99
    Sony Optiarc CD/DVD Burner 24X DVD+R/8X DVD+RW/12X DVD+R DL/24X DVD-R/6X DVD-RW/16X DVD-ROM/48X CD-R/32X CD-RW/48X CD-ROM Black SATA $18.99

    Thanks again.
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    Related resources
    September 17, 2011 9:13:32 PM

    PSU
    two PCI-E 6+2 connectors are more than suffisant.

    Monitor
    Games are build for 1080p, so I recommand a 1080i/p screen.

    LCD Led backlighting monitors are very good in black/white ratio. LED broke less than TFT.

    BUT!! you can buy a smaller screen of you doesn't want big screen.
    Old 19in screen resolution was : 1280x1024
    New 19in : 1440 x 900 because they are widescreen

    I think this is kind of screen you are looking for :
    Asus VE198D 19" LED BackLight - 100$
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Wide screen is very popular in the latest video games.

    Optical
    You can go with all these ones
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    September 17, 2011 11:04:50 PM

    Okay, so I'm just trying to wrap my head around everything. Though I have the CPU and motherboard already, I just want to make sure it's a good idea to stick with them before I buy anything else.

    RAM, HDD, HSF, Optical, Case:
  • It seems like everything here is okay. I'm a little concerned about the clearance of the 212 if I decide to add a top fan in the case (912). I was also considering the Storm Enforcer, but the difference in price seems a little odd. Excluding the case, can I go ahead with purchasing the RAM, HDD, and HSF as mentioned in my first post?

    PSU, Monitor, GPU:
  • Okay, so between the XFX and the Corsair I'm a little torn. The price difference doesn't seem like much, but the XFX's fan is reportedly quieter, yet I've read of "legendary" Corsair customer service. Can I go wrong with either?

  • I wouldn't mind a large monitor. When I'm editing images or working in Blender I often wish I had a second monitor or more horizontal area. I don't quite have the desk area for a second monitor, though. For gaming I've gotten used to the idea of playing in windowed mode, so even the ability to go fullscreen (at any resolution) is a great step forward for me. If I do lower the screen size, and likewise the resolution, should I reconsider my PSU and GPU? In the future I see more storage devices (my backups are currently on DVDs, so that is obviously not optimal), so I like the idea of extra room on power.

    And just to check again, has anyone had trouble buying certain things from Amazon? I'd like to get some things from them to save on shipping/taxes if possible, seeing as how will-call still requires a lengthy drive.

    Sorry, I'm a little nervous about all this since it's a big investment for me. Just want to make sure I don't regret anything.

    Edit: Typo, clarification.
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    September 18, 2011 2:54:47 AM

    I've purchased a lot if things on amazon (all kinds not only electronics). They're the first i check if i want something. Great prices, great return policy.
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    September 19, 2011 12:21:36 AM

    Sky03: Thanks, just had to check. My experience with Amazon has been okay, just had to exchange things quite a bit.

    So I'm looking to order in the next few hours. If anyone has a moment, could I get a review?

    i7-2600k
    ASRock Z68 Extreme4
    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1600 CL9
    CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 (Bump up to 750?)
    Cooler Master HAF 912 (I really can't figure out if I'll need more fans/filters, in which case I should be getting a different case to begin with.)
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 1-TB HDD
    Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus
    Sony Optiarc AD-7260S-0B

    MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin Frozr II/OC (Going to wait)
    Monitor (I'm more confused than ever.)

    I'm going to place orders on the RAM, HDD, HSF, and optical drive while I continue to research the monitor.
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    !