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Advice on new gaming rig (buying today)

Last response: in Systems
October 4, 2011 3:50:58 PM

Case: COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case ($188)
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard ($160)
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K ($220)
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-8GBXL ($80)
GPU: EVGA 015-P3-1580-AR GeForce GTX 580 (Fermi) 1536MB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card ($490)
PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V v2.91 SLI Certified
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Heatsink: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1
Optical: LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support
Monitor: ASUS VH242H Black 23.6" 5ms HDMI Full 1080P Widescreen LCD Monitor W/Speakers

Total: ~ $1,655 (includes a mouse and tool kit).

Now, my original budget was $2,000. I'm really considering throwing in the second GTX 580 which would put me right around my budget, I'm just not sure if it's worth doing so right now.

Not really interested in a SSD. I feel like they are too small right now and since I normally play multiple games at once, I don't think it could support my habits (sitting at 206 GB used on current HDD). Unless there was some magical way to fix this, not really interested.

So, this is what I plan on ordering today over Newegg. Any last minute suggestions before I commit?
October 4, 2011 4:27:26 PM

I wouldn't bother with the second 580. That video card is very good. Save the money and next year buy another 580 for half the price. Since your "only" gaming at 1080P, the second card won't do you much justice. SLI usually is good for above 1080P gaming.

Looks like a nice build, envy :) 
October 4, 2011 4:53:12 PM

Chainzsaw said:
I wouldn't bother with the second 580. That video card is very good. Save the money and next year buy another 580 for half the price. Since your "only" gaming at 1080P, the second card won't do you much justice. SLI usually is good for above 1080P gaming.

Looks like a nice build, envy :) 

That was my initial thought, just setting up for SLI and adding it in later when the price comes down. The card by itself would be able to play the newest game in max settings though?
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October 4, 2011 5:24:08 PM

Any interest in throwing in a couple more HDD's and raiding. Now I wouldnt recommend a R0 array ( did that once and lost a drive). Maybe try a R10 or R5 setup?

HD's are so cheap now a days.

Excellent build. Wish I had a 580. Only a GTX560ti now....

October 4, 2011 5:31:59 PM

chiptouz said:
Any interest in throwing in a couple more HDD's and raiding. Now I wouldnt recommend a R0 array ( did that once and lost a drive). Maybe try a R10 or R5 setup?

HD's are so cheap now a days.

Excellent build. Wish I had a 580. Only a GTX560ti now....


I've never tried it, nor do I know much about it. I know R0 is for performance, correct? I'll have to do some research into it.
October 4, 2011 5:43:54 PM

The machine that I am showing in my "more information" section is the first raid machine I have done. It is really easy and not much of a hassle setting up. All you have to do is load the drivers prior to the OS. Intel has a great program that handles the raid and does a good job of monitoring your hd's. It told me an old drive that I had was failling almost immediately after installing the drive.

R0 is a performance raid array but it has no redundancy or ability to rebuild it self if a drive goes out. That is why I went with a raid 5 array. In the machine I mentioned prior I lost a drive last week. The computer still functioned but since it was R0 when I replaced the drive I had to reinstall the OS and everything else. I did not have a backup or image of the array (completely my fault). With a R5 array you can use a min of 3 drives. Two of the drives add together, in may case I have 3 500gb drives. 2 of them add together and function like a R0 system (they add together for a total of 1tb. The third drive is a parity drive. You can lose one drive and be able to rebuild itself with a new drive. If you lose two drives you are toast. Back to reinstalling the OS. Now you can add more drives, but one is always reserved for the parity. With a R10 you get the functionality of a R0 and and R1 array combined. Minimum drives is 4 and two are used for R0 and two are used for R1. So you have the best of both worlds. R1 is a redundancy array setup. One drive is used for the OS and programs and the other is a mirror image of the other. So in that case you can use two drives but you only get the capacity of one. For example, one 500gb drive is for your programs and one drive is for the mirror. 1tb total only 500 mb usable.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 4, 2011 6:16:31 PM

1. Do you need Z68 ? If not, don't rule out P67 just cause Z is the "latest and greatest"

2. Case / PSU - Case is my 2nd fav but the TX850 isn't going to cut it w/ twin 580's. You;d need an HX1050 or AX1200 for that. However, if ya drop the GFX cards down a notch, an 850 is fine.....I'd consider the CP-850 w/ a compatible Antec Case (1200V3, P193, P183, DF-85) as an alternate. Read about the "unfair advantage for the CP-850" here:

3. GFX - For less than the cost of the 580, you could buy two 900MHz 560 Ti's resulting in a 40% performance increase over the single 580. Yes, two 580's will beat two 560 Ti's but only by 10% and at $1000 versus $410 - 4460 for is 10% worth more than twice the price.

The card by itself would be able to play the newest game in max settings though?

Metro 2033 @ 1920 x 1200

(1) 580 - 35 fps
(2) 900 Mhz 560 - 49 fps

....and the 850 watt PSU will do just favs in bold

1st tier - Corsair AX850 / HX850, Antec CP-850 / SG-850, Seasonic C850
2nd tier - Corsair TX850, Antec TP / TPQ / HCP / HCG, XFX Core Edition

4. Cooler - Hyper 212 is a great budget cooler, but all your other components are high end. I'd grab the Hyper 612 if it eve hits the shelves, the Thermaltake Silver Arrow or if ya like the seff contained water coolers, the Antec 620....also don't forget some Thermal Compound (Shin Etsu)

5. Since ya have the budget, might wanna consider a 120 Hz model

6. 120 GB models are not too small. Since ya only can play one game at a time and will rarely have more than 3 or 4 actively in use, you can swap these off and on ya HD when ya wanna play them. What my son does is install every game to its own folde ron root drive (C:\GameName). When he stops actively playing a game, he cuts / pastes it to the HD (no, it likely won't run from there but some do). When he wants to play again, he cuts / pastes it back to SSD.

OTOH, I have run tests on his box ..... keep in mind he has a very fast HD.

Boot to Windows from SSD - 15.6 seconds
Boot to Windows from SSD - 21.2 seconds

Load his fav MMO from SSD - 45 seconds
Load his fav MMO from HD - 45 seconds

a b B Homebuilt system
October 4, 2011 6:21:40 PM

In any system, the speed of the assembly will be limited by the slowest component or "bottleneck". In computers, this has historically been the storage subsystem. By splitting the load among two or more drives, a higher DTR (dist transfer rate) can be obtained. The simplest RAID 0 array is 2 drives, which theoretically would double the speed of the storage subsystem. The reality is however that only certain applications benefit much from this, the manipulation of large databases being the most common one discussed. In the consumer world, video editing is probably the most useful application. For gaming however, there really is no substantial ROI (return on investment)..... here's some sources:

RAID 0 is useful for setups such as large read-only NFS servers where mounting many disks is time-consuming or impossible and redundancy is irrelevant.

RAID 0 is also used in some gaming systems where performance is desired and data integrity is not very important. However, real-world tests with games have shown that RAID-0 performance gains are minimal, although some desktop applications will benefit.[1][2]
"We were hoping to see some sort of performance increase in the game loading tests, but the RAID array didn't give us that. While the scores put the RAID-0 array slightly slower than the single drive Raptor II, you should also remember that these scores are timed by hand and thus, we're dealing within normal variations in the "benchmark".

Our Unreal Tournament 2004 test uses the full version of the game and leaves all settings on defaults. After launching the game, we select Instant Action from the menu, choose Assault mode and select the Robot Factory level. The stop watch timer is started right after the Play button is clicked, and stopped when the loading screen disappears. The test is repeated three times with the final score reported being an average of the three. In order to avoid the effects of caching, we reboot between runs. All times are reported in seconds; lower scores, obviously, being better. In Unreal Tournament, we're left with exactly no performance improvement, thanks to RAID-0

If you haven't gotten the hint by now, we'll spell it out for you: there is no place, and no need for a RAID-0 array on a desktop computer. The real world performance increases are negligible at best and the reduction in reliability, thanks to a halving of the mean time between failure, makes RAID-0 far from worth it on the desktop.

Bottom line: RAID-0 arrays will win you just about any benchmark, but they'll deliver virtually nothing more than that for real world desktop performance. That's just the cold hard truth."
".....we did not see an increase in FPS through its use. Load times for levels and games was significantly reduced utilizing the Raid controller and array. As we stated we do not expect that the majority of gamers are willing to purchase greater than 4 drives and a controller for this kind of setup. While onboard Raid is an option available to many users you should be aware that using onboard Raid will mean the consumption of CPU time for this task and thus a reduction in performance that may actually lead to worse FPS. An add-on controller will always be the best option until they integrate discreet Raid controllers with their own memory into consumer level motherboards."
"However, many have tried to justify/overlook those shortcomings by simply saying "It's faster." Anyone who does this is wrong, wasting their money, and buying into hype. Nothing more."
"The real-world performance benefits possible in a single-user PC situation is not a given for most people, because the benefits rely on multiple independent, simultaneous requests. One person running most desktop applications may not see a big payback in performance because they are not written to do asynchronous I/O to disks. Understanding this can help avoid disappointment." [...] om_content
"What about performance? This, we suspect, is the primary reason why so many users doggedly pursue the RAID 0 "holy grail." This inevitably leads to dissapointment by those that notice little or no performance gain.....As stated above, first person shooters rarely benefit from RAID 0.__ Frame rates will almost certainly not improve, as they are determined by your video card and processor above all else. In fact, theoretically your FPS frame rate may decrease, since many low-cost RAID controllers (anything made by Highpoint at the tiem of this writing, and most cards from Promise) implement RAID in software, so the process of splitting and combining data across your drives is done by your CPU, which could better be utilized by your game. That said, the CPU overhead of RAID0 is minimal on high-performance processors."

Even the HD manufacturers limit RAID's advantages to very specific applications and non of them involves gaming:
October 4, 2011 6:41:18 PM


I like that idea of cutting/pasting from the SSD to another drive. Now that makes more sense with regards to storage issues. Hopefully SSD prices fall enough before armageddon hits. ;) 
October 4, 2011 7:12:16 PM

I have been running an 80gb intel ssd for about a year and half. It only has the OS and small apps and games on it. At any one time I can have 3-4 games installed on it. Does not help a whole lot with load times except on specific titles. Where you will really see the difference is in loading firefox, IE etc. daily apps. I highly recommend an SSD just for the snappy-ness (I know it is not a word) of using windows with an SSD. Also you may want to read some articles about optimizing an SSD if you get one. Turning off certain aspects of windows will free up space on your drive and keep it clean.

I buy the majority of my games online (Steam mainly with bf3 its Origin). You can control where the games are installed through both programs. With steam you can actually back up the game and save it over on your hd (I do this all of the time) then uninstall it from your ssd. If you ever want to play it again you can just reinstall it. If you just play a game every so often just install it on the hd. I have not messed with it lately but I believe steam will recognize your destination path on either drive you just may have to map it or run the find games application in steam.

Origin on the other hand I do not have an extensive amount of experience with but I would assume it is about the same as I do know you can configure where it is downloaded too, which I believe is also where it is installed. Anyways hope this helps you out.