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Homebuilt [Approx $1500 Budget]

Last response: in Systems
October 9, 2011 12:50:56 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: 4-6 weeks (End of Oct. or early/mid Nov.)

Budget Range: Approx. $1500 before rebates. This is flexible, and probably unrealistic.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, downloading, music editing, browsing, movies on an hd tv.

Parts Not Required: This is a true from scratch build.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: USA (Michigan)

Parts Preferences: Utility is preferred. I'm thinking Intel chip with Nvidia for now with surround using three monitors eventually.

Overclocking: Yes, first time. Will definitely be exploring overclocking everything possible.

SLI or Crossfire: Yes, planning to put in 2 GeForce GTX 460s right from the go.

Monitor Resolution: I don't have a monitor, or monitors, yet. Will need to work on an hd tv supporting up to 720p.

Current parts...subject to change - push your favorite brand with a good argument:

GPUs: EVGA 01G-P3-1370-TR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

After reading a bunch of articles with heat benchmarks, GPUs consistently run hotter than CPUs. This leads me to seriously consider liquid cooling the GPUs. Thoughts? Links to great articles on this? Also, are these GPUs too bare-bones for this type of build?

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K

I really don't see why I should cough up another $100 for marginal gains from an i7. Persuade me or confirm my choice?

SSD: ADATA S511 Series AS511S3-120GM-C 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

I'm hoping the firmware is fixed to the point this hard drive is a solid option when I'm in actual build mode. This drive is lightning fast when it works I understand. Your preference for SSD?

Mech HD: Affordable 1 TB - Will pick based on price when I get to actual build stage.

RAM: 2 x 4 DDR3 1600 Cass 9 kit. Again, will pick based on price and brand when I get to actual build stage.

Optical: SAMSUNG Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray Combo Model SH-B123L LightScribe Support - OEM
Basically the cheapest blue ray reader, it does not have to burn blue rays.

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Intel Core i7 compatible
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R1 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 1366/1155 and AMD FM1/AM3+

Why should I buy one of these over the other? Is the more expensive, larger at 120 mm, model any better at CPU cooling?

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series HX750 (CMPSU-750HX) 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Will 750W of power be enough to run all of this gear. Is there a good way to tell what your power consumption will be before you order all the parts and measure wattage?

Mobo: I really don't feel I understand these well enough to make a good decision. Should I just pick a Z68 board that has the voltage regulators, usb 3.0 ports and number of 6 GB/s slots that I want? Surely there is more to it than that? A link to a good explanation or article on mobos would be very welcome. (As in why some cost $120 and some cost $220. Would it make sense for me to purchase a cheaper P67 board?)

Case: There are so damn many... Again, a good link would be very, very welcome. I lean heavily towards minimalist aesthetics (why do cases need to glow?), but utility in terms of cooling, space and noise reduction are far more important. I would love to be able to get away with a mid-tower, but full-size isn't out of the question at all. I've read almost all the recent articles by tom's, but those tend to just generate more questions.

General Questions:

1. With most all of these pieces of hardware, is it necessary to have any temperature or speed measurement devices that aren't already bundled into the mobo, cpu, gpu, etc...?

2. Does someone have a link to a good list of benchmark/tweaking software to get those temp/speed readouts without having to run tons of individual pieces of software?

3. Windows 7 32 or 64? XP? I have a number of older games (Baldur's Gate 1 & 2, heroes, age of empires, total war) that are designed to work specifically in 2000/XP. Will putting Windows 7 disallow these games to work on this machine? If so, is there emulation software that effectively dumbs down your system to allow these to work?

4. Peripheral suggestions? Monitor(s), keyboard and mouse. Speakers and headset are taken care of.

If you read this far, thank you very much for the time and consideration in helping me build this thing. I appreciate it a great deal.
October 9, 2011 1:24:38 PM

No, I don't. I'm looking through the build you newegg linked right now.
October 9, 2011 1:37:34 PM

Why did you pick the 90 GB SSD from Corsair?

Why did you pick the EVGA mobo you did?

Why did you pick the case you did?
Will it do an adequate job noise and cooling-wise? I like the style of it :) 

From what I've read, it seems that liquid cooling the GPUs is far more important than LCing the CPU. Your link is for a CPU LCer.

Why do you advocate a single graphics card? It was my understanding that you can not use Nvidia surround without 2 GPUs in SLI. Is this true?

You skipped an optical drive ;) 

Thanks for the suggestions. Explain them though...
Related resources
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 9, 2011 6:21:44 PM

Honestly, I'd wait. Bulldozer coming out soon and expected to be cheaper than SB. It'll be out in 3 days and so I'd just wait for it to come out.

You could also checkout my $1000 build here:
Just pick up a Crucial M4 64GB for $106.
You can always get another 560 Ti or 6950 since I've allowed that much. It's really not worth the 580 since for the same price you can get 2x560 ti's or 2x6950 and those perform WAY better, plus you won't have to get another card for at least 2-3 years.

The H100 is a piece of crap for the price, if you want to overclock get the NZXT Havik 140. $60 vs $120.

Practically performing at the level of real water cooling.
October 9, 2011 11:16:10 PM

Thanks for the feedback from both of you.

I'm not going to get a liquid cpu cooler because the 2500k i5 doesn't seem to need it in the least. I was only considering LCing GPUs. It doesn't seem cards equipped with coolers are available, so I believe I will still opt for a pair of 460s with air cooling. It seems for the price ($300, possible less by the time I purchase), they're a better option than paying a huge premium for a single 580.

I appreciate your builds aznshinobi, but I think a decent portion of your article is outdated, and the parts that aren't, the i5, etc... I've already decided on.

The Corsair 400R seems like a slick case, and I don't mind the mesh on top, so thank you very much for that suggestion 384. I believe I will go with it when I start purchasing parts.

The crucial m4 does not use Sand Force controllers. I'm going to opt for something that does, like the Corsair Force Series GT you suggested 384. Hopefully there is some review of how well the Sand Force update performs by then.

I realize the EVGA board you suggested is pretty much the best available atm. However, do you think that's necessary in a build like this? Or, am I being stupid trying to save some money on a mobo?

Can either of you, or anyone else, comment on any of the general questions at the end of my original post?


a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 9, 2011 11:21:15 PM

^ The M4 is actually more reliable though. The Corsair SSDs have faced constant problems. Also a Firmware update to the M4 makes it a great SSD giving it a suggested "20%" performance increase. So that said, it's a bit better than the SF Controller SSDs

EVGA boards may have "quality" but so does the Extreme3 Gen3 Z68, it's infact a better deal. EVGA boards are just overpriced. The Asrock board will perform the same since mobos don't really perform THAT much different.
October 9, 2011 11:35:41 PM

I like the 570 idea, and the price seems much more compatible with my estimate for a starting gpu. Am I wrong to think the 570 is a decent bit inferior to the 580 due to less GDDR5 RAM on the board?

azn, do you have a review or a link to the Asrock mobo you're suggesting?

Any thoughts on versions of windows, modding software/hardware or perfernce on peripherals? Or do you suggest I just go with whatever the current Newegg or other site special is?
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 9, 2011 11:43:38 PM

I'd get the 560 Ti actually. An OC'd one (The Gigabyte 560 Ti SOC) is equal if not better than the 570 but also runs cooler and is cheaper by about $70

As for the board, no I don't have one. But this is a review of the Extreme4 not the Extreme3 I'm suggesting.
As you can see no matter the price deviation, the boards perform pretty much the same.
October 9, 2011 11:56:38 PM

I'm convinced. I'm going to go with a single 570 for now and plan to purchase another to SLI with in the future.
October 10, 2011 12:06:50 AM

"However, these improvements haven't been accompanied by solid performance, as the Extreme4 Gen3 lags behind the best Z68 and P67 motherboards currently available."

That's from the review on the Asrock board.

Can you guys come up with something that doesn't have all the bells, whistles and price tag of the EVGA, but performs better than this Asrock?
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 10, 2011 12:10:57 AM

Well to that.
Both praise the Extreme4 and I would as well, the P67 (Not Gen3) was excellent, better than most P67 boards but for much cheaper.

The Extreme3 will perform roughly the same. I don't get why it matters so much that the motherboard has to be to this exact specification. Most people wouldn't even notice the difference in the real world.
October 10, 2011 12:28:57 AM

The idea of a mobo not being out of date for a couple years is rather attractive to me. So, I think I'm going to go with the Asrock. It seems like the MSI board has some serious quality control issues if you read the comments. Either golden or something simple was just broke...

Asrock seems like they have crap service though...

Either of you have any other suggestions? I'd probably be happy with either mobo, but if there is one out there in the same range with less quality control issues, or customer service issues, I'd rather go that route.
October 10, 2011 12:45:15 AM

It seems like all the boards have issues of some sort or another. The Gigabyte board looks solid.
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 10, 2011 12:55:46 AM

384-bit there is a forum tool called editing. Instead of triple posting.
October 10, 2011 1:08:44 PM

azn, the more I read about Asrock, the more I like them, barring their apparently *** customer service.

Could you comment on whether you think the z68 board you suggested is worth the extra $35 over this board?:

ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

z68 reference board: ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Newegg's prices are starting to drive me nuts...they're listed differently one page to the next for the same damn product...
October 10, 2011 1:11:16 PM

Another question just popped up:

Do I need to have an antivirus installed on the pc before I connect for the first time? I'd love to not have to make an AVG free disc...
a c 91 B Homebuilt system
October 10, 2011 2:00:33 PM

Since you really don't need Z68, the P67 Extreme4 Gen3 is fine. The Z68 version is great too, but you don't really need it so. Just go with the P67 version.
November 3, 2011 10:35:23 PM

Hey guys,

I wanted to check back in after buying parts.

First, I have a major question. I have carpet and am concerned about not getting the proper air flow along the bottom of the case. Do you have any suggestions on solutions for this issue?

Anyways, I've ordered all the following parts, and they've arrived. I'm waiting to put it together in one go this weekend, starting tomorrow. I'll add a few pictures then.

Corsair Graphite Series 600T CC600TM Mid-Tower Gaming Case

Following your original case suggestion, I started looking at the Corsair line of cases and managed to convince myself the extra money was worth spending for two 200 m fans and plenty of room to expand.

ASRock P67 EXTREME4 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

After looking at numerous reviews from PC sites and a ton of product reviews, your ASRock suggestion seemed spot on, so we'll see how it performs :) 

EVGA 012-P3-1570-AR GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi)

Solid GPU! Plan to pick up another for SLI when I have some extra money.

CORSAIR Professional Series HX750 (CMPSU-750HX) 750W ATX12V 2.3 - 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Figured I'd stay with Corsair, and they get phenomenal reviews - MIR and discount on this guy.

Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K

Couldn't justify spending an extra hundred or so for an i7. I plan to experiment with ocing. Likely just mild ocing.

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B

Picked this up at 10% off, so 16 GB of ocable RAM for like $85.

Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F120GBGT-BK 2.5" 120GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Despite my concerns over reliability, I picked this SSD because it was super cheap for the size and it received really good reviews on read/write speeds. After MIR it will have cost $154.99.

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R1 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler

This seemed like the best blend of performance and quiet.

I ended up paying about what I expected for all the PC components: ~$1500. With peripherals, including 2 23" LED monitors, the total came to ~$2007. I'm waiting on $70 in MIR.

Thanks for your help in picking out components!

a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 4, 2011 1:11:13 AM

Sounds good, Good luck, the 600T is a bit expensive though, I suggest looking at the 500R, it's just as good, cheaper and still nice. Just a suggestion though.

I wouldn't suggest 16GB just because of cost. 8GB is plenty but this is your decision.

everything else looks good.