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BF3/Dirt3 Targeted Build in the $2-2.5k Range

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September 24, 2011 5:27:33 AM

I'm upgrading from a very old tired laptop to a proper desktop gaming system, I want to take maximum advantage of Dx11 and if possible the AMD Eyefinity suite, but value is still a primary concern. Budget isn't that constrained, I can easily bump up a few hundred dollars by enduring the military an extra week, but I'm more interested in remaining value oriented than outright 'futureproof' - whatever that's worth.
I plan on purchasing this as soon as I'm done with this stupid deployment, so 2012Q1.

Primary goal is that I want high end gaming performance on current titles (BF3, Dirt3, Diablo 3, The Old Republic, F1 2011, Nascar 2012), and I'm still aiming for 60fps and reasonable power/temperature when playing games that are still a year off (Crysis 3, Portal 3).
My focus on game titles is going to be FPS and Driving games (on the top performance end), though I see plenty of RTS games where I could make use of the spare monitor space.

Other caveat is that I want to be able to handle somewhat extreme multitasking, and limited CAD function. I dabble in Solid Works and Autodesk stuff, and I want the ability to handle high end photoshopping and some limited video editing suites, if possible running that along with other productivity/media/internet simultaneously.
My media requirements aren't as huge as many, and if I'm intending to watch anything on BluRay I'd rather just use an existing huge CRT TV and a used PS3 in another room, but I doubt that the above wouldn't be up to the task.

Here's my intended build - I suspect I left at least something important out (cable, parts, tools, or something), or there are better items just a few dollars away, so ANY such suggestions would be highly welcome.

Case: Rosewill Blackhawk Mid-ATX Blue
PSU: Rosewill 850W Blue

CPU: Intel i7-2600k SandyBridge - I got to tour the facility Intel was building for these chips a few years back, I'm set on this
Mobo: Asus P8Z68-V Pro Blue
* I've been recommended to buy the Thermaltake Frio CPU cooler for this CPU since the OEM one apparently sucks - will this fit the RW case, or interfere with the side fan?

GPUs: Dual MSI Twin Frozr AMD R6950 running at 810MHz (weak OC)
Display(s): Acer S231HLbid Black 23" - THREE in eyefinity if that's practical.

RAM: Corsair 1600 DDR3. 4x4GB (16GB). Not sure how practical the last 8GB, but cost/value seems in line with what I'm after.

SSD: Patriot Pyro 60GB *I'm only planning on using this as a boot drive, and SSD/Mobo block flash unit, but would I be better served with a larger unit at twice the price?
HDD: Western Digital Caviar 2TB 7200RPM

OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit - good bundled price with the CPU, I don't see why not. I'll probably run a Linux partition down the road, but that's secondary to this tower's primary use.

Peripherals: Razer DeathAdder mouse and Lycosa Keyboard. Whatever Logitech 7.1 speakers I can con my wife out of.

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September 24, 2011 6:18:58 AM

Here's a few ideas for you to check out. Also stay away from Rosewill psu's. A solid 750w is more than enough to push to of those cards but that WD 2TB you have combo's with the Corsair HX 850w and the Corsair AX 750w to save you some money. These cases down below are new on the market...they just showed up on newegg last week, and they have gotten great professional reviews across the net. Built in fan controllers, dust filters, ..you name it they got it.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129.99 - $114.99 after mail-in rebate card FREE SHIPPING
Corsair Carbide Series 500R Black Steel structure with molded ABS plastic accent pieces ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

or that same case but in white....

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129.99 - $114.99 after mail-in rebate card FREE SHIPPING
Corsair Carbide Series 500R White Steel structure with molded ABS plastic accent pieces ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $129.99 - $99.99 after mail-in rebate
XFX PRO750W XXX Edition Semi-Modular 80Plus Silver 750 Watt Power Supply

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $279.99
ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $196.99 FREE SHIPPING
Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)


http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=Z68%20Extre... <----- a better look at that board

http://www.asrock.com/microsite/PCIe3/ <----- PCI-E 3.0

http://www.tweaktown.com/reviews/4272/asrock_z68_extrem... <----- review of that board

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut... <----- review done here on toms showing boards like the one above with the NF200 Bridge (dual cards @ x16 & x16) help to reduce micro stutter
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September 24, 2011 6:20:35 AM

Given that the 2600k doesn't have native support for PCI 3.0, and that Intel is looking to move away from the 1155 socket by the time PCI 3.0 becomes prevalent, is that really enough of a consideration for me to move up to that board?
I'm still not sure if I'd be ahead with the above mid-sized Asus Z68P board, or moving to their miniATX Gamer unit (that is cheaper for some reason).

TY very much for the case and PSU suggestions - I was torn between a case with fan control and front side USB3.0, but that solves both. I forgot to read up on the RW PSU's, but I figure I'll be happier with the XFX unit.

I'm probably too far behind the times to fully appreciate the issues of micro-stutter... running 2fps (3-5 on a good day) on free to play games at lowest graphics settings is my current reference point. Try not to laugh.


I forgot to add: comparison if I opt to go with a single display, and aim at the $2k end of that spectrum, I'd most likely bump it to a 27" 2ms LCD Monitor (still 1080p), and switch GPU over entirely, to the MSI NVIDIA GeForce 570 GTX unit, and drop the memory to 8GB and then consider doubling these later.
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September 24, 2011 6:38:58 AM

wow q1 2012, it is a bit early to call that now, i am also building a rig then, the new cards from amd should (hopefully) be out by then, and sandy-e so it is gonna be a different market.
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September 24, 2011 6:51:18 AM

TehLlama said:
I forgot to add: comparison if I opt to go with a single display, and aim at the $2k end of that spectrum, I'd most likely bump it to a 27" 2ms LCD Monitor (still 1080p), and switch GPU over entirely, to the MSI NVIDIA GeForce 570 GTX unit, and drop the memory to 8GB and then consider doubling these later.

With your budget you can fit a gtx 580 in the mix with the option to add another later on in SLI.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $683.98 FREE SHIPPING
CORSAIR Professional Series HX1050 1050W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Power Supply
MSI N580GTX Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

These monitors down below are 3D capable and have a 120HZ refresh rate.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $469.99
SAMSUNG S23A750D Black 23" 2ms Full HD 3D LED BackLight LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 DCR 1,000,000:1 (1,000:1)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $579.99
SAMSUNG S23A950D Black 23" 2ms Full HD 3D LED BackLight LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 DCR 1,000,000:1 (1,000:1)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $599.99
SAMSUNG S27A750D Black 27" 2ms Full HD 3D LED BackLight LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 DCR 1,000,000:1 (1,000:1

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $699.99
SAMSUNG S27A950D Black 27" 2ms Full HD 3D LED BackLight LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 DCR 1,000,000:1 (1,000:1)
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September 24, 2011 7:00:29 AM

TehLlama said:
Given that the 2600k doesn't have native support for PCI 3.0, and that Intel is looking to move away from the 1155 socket by the time PCI 3.0 becomes prevalent, is that really enough of a consideration for me to move up to that board?
I'm still not sure if I'd be ahead with the above mid-sized Asus Z68P board, or moving to their miniATX Gamer unit (that is cheaper for some reason).

TY very much for the case and PSU suggestions - I was torn between a case with fan control and front side USB3.0, but that solves both. I forgot to read up on the RW PSU's, but I figure I'll be happier with the XFX unit.

I'm probably too far behind the times to fully appreciate the issues of micro-stutter... running 2fps (3-5 on a good day) on free to play games at lowest graphics settings is my current reference point. Try not to laugh.


I forgot to add: comparison if I opt to go with a single display, and aim at the $2k end of that spectrum, I'd most likely bump it to a 27" 2ms LCD Monitor (still 1080p), and switch GPU over entirely, to the MSI NVIDIA GeForce 570 GTX unit, and drop the memory to 8GB and then consider doubling these later.

Ivy Bridge coming out in April/May is the upgrade path for socket 1155 seeing how Ivy Bridge cpu's can be and will be run on any 1155 mobo. It's also in that PCI-E 3.0 link I posted up above showing how Ivy Bridge supports the new generation vid cards in regards to PCI-E 3.0.

http://www.asrock.com/mb/index.asp?s=1155 <===== All the boards on there that say Gen3 next to their name are boards that have those PCI-E 3.0 slots

XFX psu's are manufactured by Seasonic as are the upper tier Corsair psu's.
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September 24, 2011 7:31:29 AM

Truth be told, I have every intention of keeping this system current for about a year, and then letting it age gracefully and saving up for the next one thereafter. The advantages of IvyBridge are certainly attractive if I were looking to keep this relevant a lot longer, and ensure that I'm not bottlenecking the GPU down the road, but either I'm misunderstanding the advantages of PCI3.0 in relation to gaming, or I'm simply not looking far enough ahead.
ASRock seems to be the leading answer for the 3.0 systems, but if I'm having to wait for the privilege to buy expensive hardware to use it, I probably just won't.

I'm now considering paring down the memory, and maybe keeping the smaller SSD so I can afford a larger single LCD, but if I'm not gaining resolution (30" 1600p is overpriced for my uses ATM) I don't necessarily see the point.
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September 24, 2011 8:06:18 AM

Revision 1

Case: Corsair 500R Black
PSU: XFX 750W
CPU: i7-2600k
Mobo: ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3
GPU: EVGA 580GTX
Mem: GSkill RipJaw 8GB
SSD: Crucial M4 128GB

Same cooling and peripherals.
With an ASUS 27" 1080p 2ms LCD Monitor.


A bit pricier than I originally envisioned, but I think I could go until late 2012 before I had to go SLI and start evaluating a CPU upgrade. The XF200 chip and greater ability to accept SSD/HDD in SATA3 RAID configs has me sold on that motherboard, though whatever marginal gains on the 2x16 PCI-E is dependent on getting a second 580GTX.

At this point, what stray cables/parts/thermal stuff/fans would be prudent to add?
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September 25, 2011 1:04:22 AM

Last question on expandability - since I am looking at adding a second 580GTX down the road, and probably a third NVIDIA card just for PhysX functionality, would I need to go much beyond an 850W PSU? A 1200W seems more sound when it comes to running three OCd GPUs and OC CPU, but would I be better served sticking with an 850W unit and limiting myself to dual SLI performance?
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September 25, 2011 1:38:48 AM

TehLlama said:
Last question on expandability - since I am looking at adding a second 580GTX down the road, and probably a third NVIDIA card just for PhysX functionality, would I need to go much beyond an 850W PSU? A 1200W seems more sound when it comes to running three OCd GPUs and OC CPU, but would I be better served sticking with an 850W unit and limiting myself to dual SLI performance?

I wouldn't try running dual 580's on an 850w psu. It's doable but that psu is going to be running balls to the walls with two of those cards and it's going to run hot. I wouldn't even want to bet what the lifespan of a 850w psu would be pushing two of those cards. If you plan on going with three cards then I would look at that 1200 you have up there or that new Enermax that just came out.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... <---- combo with that Corsair 1200w

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... <----- That's the Enermax that just came out.
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September 25, 2011 3:55:19 AM

That's all the affirmation I could hope for on the last change I made to my cart - I had already chosen the Corsair 1200W, so I'm set for that.

Thanks again for all your help.
S/F
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September 25, 2011 3:57:14 AM

Best answer selected by TehLlama.
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December 20, 2011 4:27:57 AM

Obligatory Box Arrival post:

I wound up settling on the following, thanks to much assistance and the articles here.

Case: Corsair 500R Black
PSU: CoolerMaster 850W Gold
CPU: Intel 2600k
GPU: Asus 580GTX DC2
Mobo: Asus Maximum Gene-Z
Mem: GSkill 16GB 1600
HDD: Seagate 1TB
SSD: Kinsgston HyperX 128GB

Monitor: Samsung 27" 2560x1440

I'm in the process of assembling this now.

The case is awesome - stylish, feels a touch light empty, but no complaints.

I went with the GTX580, for the available prices the Asus aftermarket cooled system looked the best. I suspect it'll run a little bit on the low end running titles like BF3, Skyrim, Metro2033 at that resolution with MSAA cranked, but without going SLI this is the option I can afford while keeping a scalable setup.
16GB RAM - yeah, I know, but why not.
The Kingston SSD is pretty well reviewed, and a bit cheaper - not sure if it's worth the slight speed bump over the Crucial.

I decided to go single GPU for now and focus on how much usable play I can get out of that crazy resolution, and then look down the road for whatever comes after X79 to do a complete refresh.

Thanks again!
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