Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question
Solved

~$1800 Intel i7 Gaming System

Last response: in Systems
Share
October 14, 2011 9:00:05 PM

Intro

Hello – let me start by saying this will be my first-ever build, and I’ve done quite a bit of homework to prepare for it. If you would like to leave a comment / suggestion about the build, it would be greatly appreciated.

If you see any component that is “missing,” please check the closing notes section to see if it was intentionally omitted. I may opt against a component based solely on personal preference (i.e. alternative chassis model + hardware color.) Although I am open to any well-reasoned alternatives, please respect my preferences.

I also have a few ideas open to discussion at the end of this post, if you are interested (e.g. building a rig w/o an HDD.)

Thanks for your time and insight.
-Enigma
October 14, 2011 9:00:26 PM

Summary

Approximate Purchase Date:
- Within two weeks

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
- Newegg.com
- Amazon.com (if not available on Newegg)

Country of Origin:
- United States (East Coast)

Overclocking:
- Yes, something stable ~4.5GHz

SLI:
- Yes (eventually)

System usage priority (descending):
- Gaming (primarily StarCraft II, all video settings max @ 1920x1080p)
- Programming (Visual Studio 2010)
- Video playback (streaming 1080p via TwitchTV / Netflix / etc.)

Build priority (descending):
- Performance (at reasonable Db levels)
- Silence
- Minimalist design
- Build quality

Color preference:
- Black
- White / gray
- Sapphire / ice blue

Parts not required:
- Mouse (Logitech Performance MX)
- Monitor (Hannspree 25” 1900 x 1080p)
- Keyboard (Logitech K800)
- OS (Windows 7 Professional)
m
0
l
October 14, 2011 9:00:39 PM

Components

CPU:
$315 – Intel Core i7-2600k 3.4GHz

GPU:
$330 – EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD w/ DisplayPort (Fermi)

RAM:
$50 – 8GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600 (2 x 4GB)

Mobo:
$160 – Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3
$125 – ASRock Z68 Extreme3
$200 – ASRock Z68 Extreme4

SSD:
$180 – 120GB Corsair Force Series 3 (Sata III)
$205 – 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 (Sata III)

HDD:
$80 – 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black 7200RPM (Sata 6.0)

PSU:
$130 – Thortech 850W (80 Plus Gold)
$145 – Corsair HX850 (80 Plus Silver)

Chassis:
$110 – Fractal Design R3 (mid-size)
$170 – Fractal Design XL (full-size)

Cooling:
$40 – Cooler Master Hyper N 520

Bluetooth Adapter:
Bluetooth capability required (open to suggestions) - prefer internal Bluetooth to an external dongle.

Wireless Adapter:
Wireless capability preferred, but not mandatory (open to suggestions) - prefer internal Wi-Fi to external dongle.
m
0
l
Related resources
October 15, 2011 4:17:53 PM

Closing Notes

Missing components:
  • Sound card, CD drive, etc.
  • I do not currently see a pressing need for any of the above components, as their functionality does not seem integral to the system. Anything that would require a CD can be done via USB 2.0, and on-board sound seems sufficient. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

    SDD for OS + games vs. SDD as caching buffer (for Z68 mobo):
  • I know the Z68 mobos are able to utilize SDD caching for improved HDD write speeds – would I be able to use my SDD as my boot-drive / game drive AND as a cache for writes to an HDD? Or are the two mutually exclusive?
  • If they are, is it worth it to pick up a second SDD (say 20gb) for dedicated caching?

    Cable Sleeving:
  • Although my system will be windowless, I would like to sleeve all internal cables either in black or in white / gray sleeving. I have never done anything of the sort, and have no idea what tools / kits are required. Any links / tutorials would be useful (I’ll be looking this up this week.)

    Liquid Cooling
  • As I understand it, Corsair’s H80 contained loop performs very well for CPU cooling. If I were to look into a system like this, how many fans would the case need for acceptable internal temperatures? (I know the Fractal Design R3 has quite a few options for intake / exhaust.)
  • Thoughts on quietest fans? I've heard good things about Scythe's Gentle Typhoon / Kaze + Yate Loons

    Skipping an internal HDD (Gasp!):
  • One idea I am kicking around is skipping an internal HDD (radical, I know) and opting instead for a wireless 2TB+ NAS drive, for example:

    3TB Seagate BlackArmor NAS

    3TB Western Digital MyBook Live NAS

  • I really like the idea of a personal cloud at home, and the potential to downsize the case required for my build by assigning the OS / Programs to the SSD while migrating the HDD requirements to this external drive is interesting. Better still, I would be able to synchronize multiple PC’s to a centralized location. Has anyone tried anything like this before? I would really like to know your thoughts on this possibility.

    HD Video Capture Card:
  • I may be interested in streaming content from my PC / Xbox360 @ 1080p via TwitchTV. I have not done nearly enough research on viable capture cards and this is not high-priority, but would appreciate any insight into the procedure if anyone has some experience with live-streaming.
    m
    0
    l
    October 15, 2011 4:25:27 PM

    first off, you don't need an i7 for gaming. get an i5 2500k, and you'll be just fine.
    i'd keep an internal hdd, but that's your choice.
    get the corsair psu, and 850w will be fine gtx 570 sli.
    Consider an asrock extreme3 gen3 z68 board, as it has pci-e 3.0.
    a cd drive is $20. they're so cheap you might as well buy one.
    a sound card isn't needed unless you have surround sound or something like that, cause the onboard is pretty good.
    ssd caching isn't really worth it, i'd just stick with the one ssd.
    m
    0
    l
    October 15, 2011 4:39:25 PM

    morgoth780 said:
    first off, you don't need an i7 for gaming. get an i5 2500k, and you'll be just fine.
    i'd keep an internal hdd, but that's your choice.
    get the corsair psu, and 850w will be fine gtx 570 sli.
    Consider an asrock extreme3 gen3 z68 board, as it has pci-e 3.0.
    a cd drive is $20. they're so cheap you might as well buy one.
    a sound card isn't needed unless you have surround sound or something like that, cause the onboard is pretty good.
    ssd caching isn't really worth it, i'd just stick with the one ssd.


    - I'm using the i7 to take advantage of its hyperthreading for workspace applications.
    - I'm just kicking around the idea of an external HDD right now (I'll probably get an internal, either way.)
    - Any reason for the Corsair PSU specifically (as it's higher price point + lower rating?)
    - I'll definitely look into the Gen3 board, thanks
    - I know they're cheap, but I don't ever see myself needing a CD for something that a USB couldn't handle
    - I'm using surround sound headphones via a ToSlink cable (although I can route it through traditional 3.5mm as well)
    - I'm still learning about SSD caching, although I'd have to expect it would have some benefit. Any more insight on this?

    Thanks for the reply!
    m
    0
    l
    October 15, 2011 4:48:26 PM

    corsair always has good power supplies, as i'm sure you know that a bad power supply ruins the rest of the system.
    with ssd caching, i'm pretty sure you can use a partition on a larger ssd for it, but i'm not sure
    the i7 makes sense then, so go for it. you may want to see what sandybridge-e has to offer, cause they should do better in workstation apps than the 2600k, but I think they're going to be ~$500 each.
    I think you should be fine with the onboard audio, though
    m
    0
    l
    October 15, 2011 5:02:14 PM

    morgoth780 said:
    corsair always has good power supplies, as i'm sure you know that a bad power supply ruins the rest of the system.
    with ssd caching, i'm pretty sure you can use a partition on a larger ssd for it, but i'm not sure
    the i7 makes sense then, so go for it. you may want to see what sandybridge-e has to offer, cause they should do better in workstation apps than the 2600k, but I think they're going to be ~$500 each.
    I think you should be fine with the onboard audio, though


    - The Corsair PSUs have earned solid reviews, although the Thortech stood out as a possibly better deal
    - I've researched the Sandybridge-E processors as an alternative, but I think they are due Q1 2012 (and at a markedly higher price point.) I think the i7 is a safe bet for now.
    - I'll do some more homework on SSD caching. Since it's such a "new" technology, information / metrics are somewhat lacking.

    I really appreciate the responses though, thanks!
    m
    0
    l
    October 15, 2011 5:36:43 PM

    onewingedenigma said:
    - The Corsair PSUs have earned solid reviews, although the Thortech stood out as a possibly better deal
    - I've researched the Sandybridge-E processors as an alternative, but I think they are due Q1 2012 (and at a markedly higher price point.) I think the i7 is a safe bet for now.
    - I'll do some more homework on SSD caching. Since it's such a "new" technology, information / metrics are somewhat lacking.

    I really appreciate the responses though, thanks!

    yeah. besides, when the sandybridge-e cpu's come out, it's not like the i7 is going to b e a bad processor. It'll still be amazing.
    m
    0
    l
    October 16, 2011 1:57:49 AM

    morgoth780 said:
    yeah. besides, when the sandybridge-e cpu's come out, it's not like the i7 is going to b e a bad processor. It'll still be amazing.


    Excellent point on the mobo, bit of an oversight on my end - thanks. Updated my components list to reflect the change, but I'm a bit torn between the Extreme3 and Extreme4 (only real difference seems to be a few extra Sata ports on the Extreme4?)
    m
    0
    l
    October 16, 2011 3:32:34 AM

    I don't know the difference between the two. if you're right about the sata ports, and you can use them, get the extreme 4.
    However, it's only a $25 difference, so you could always just get the extreme 4 and see if you need it.
    m
    0
    l
    October 16, 2011 3:51:26 AM

    Glad to see you're still with me, Morgoth. It's a $75 price difference - so it's a bit more significant - but it seems the Extreme4 also has:

    - DisplayPort (useful, as my work laptop also uses DisplayPort, i.e. one connector)
    - 2 x PCI-e 2.0 slots

    Not sure if this justifies the price difference, but I'm inclined to get the newer board as I'll upgrade my rig periodically over the next few years.
    m
    0
    l
    October 16, 2011 1:38:32 PM

    onewingedenigma said:
    Glad to see you're still with me, Morgoth. It's a $75 price difference - so it's a bit more significant - but it seems the Extreme4 also has:

    - DisplayPort (useful, as my work laptop also uses DisplayPort, i.e. one connector)
    - 2 x PCI-e 2.0 slots

    Not sure if this justifies the price difference, but I'm inclined to get the newer board as I'll upgrade my rig periodically over the next few years.

    upgradeability is extremely important when building a computer, so i'd recommend the extreme4
    m
    0
    l
    October 16, 2011 4:23:29 PM

    morgoth780 said:
    upgradeability is extremely important when building a computer, so i'd recommend the extreme4


    Yeah, I'll definitely go with the Extreme4 - updated the list.

    Also, good morning, Tom's Hardware... and bump.
    m
    0
    l

    Best solution

    October 16, 2011 5:28:50 PM

    onewingedenigma said:
    Glad to see you're still with me, Morgoth. It's a $75 price difference - so it's a bit more significant - but it seems the Extreme4 also has:

    - DisplayPort (useful, as my work laptop also uses DisplayPort, i.e. one connector)
    - 2 x PCI-e 2.0 slots

    Not sure if this justifies the price difference, but I'm inclined to get the newer board as I'll upgrade my rig periodically over the next few years.



    Hello - welcome. You have posted a very thorough and thoughtful thread request, that is rare. I have a few thoughts.

    1. I own the AsRock Extreme 4 Gen 3 mobo and I can recommend it. I have had no problems with it. Whatever board that you get, I would make sure it is gen 3 - compatible with the new Ivy Bridge CPUs coming out soon and PCI-e 3.0 compliant

    2. Though the GTX 570 is an excellent card, I think it is overpriced. The ATI 6950 is $100 less in many cases and it nearly equals it in performance. Still the 570 is an amazing card.

    3. Go with 1866 RAM - you can get it for $65 on Newegg. There is a noticeable improvement in speed. 2 x 4GB is enough. CL8 or CL9 is sufficient. This is the sweet spot of performance vs price. You might also want to keep a look out for 2133 RAM on Newegg - I saw some 2133 Gskill 2 x 4GB RAM on sale for $75 the other day - a screaming deal

    4. I own the HX 850 and it is an absolutely superb PSU - and this is from first-hand experience actually using the PSU. It is far better than your other choice for the following reasons:

    a) It has a seven-year warranty backed by the legendary customer service of Corsair

    b) Your build will max out at 400W - 500W load if you go SLI. In that capacity range, the HX 850 is close to 92% efficient, which is nearly platinum level. It actually is more efficient than the gold rated Corsair AX 850 up to about 75% capacity

    c) It is modular and includes an amazing selection of connecting cables. This makes the unit a joy to build with

    d) It will be silent and not heat up your case. I am not sure I have ever heard my HX 850 fan even come on. I have never heard the PSU once in my 2600K build. Many PSUs are noisy and hot.

    e) It is by far one of the most stable PSUs in existence. The power over the various rails displays almost no ripple and variation

    f) If you do overload it, this PSU can handle it. In one professional review it put out nearly 1100 W before it lost stability - this is amazing

    5. I would suggest that you go with the Noctua NH-D14 for your CPU cooler. It is perhaps the highest rated, best reviewed air cooler in existence (I also own this). It is about $40 - $45 more than the CM cooler that you list but it will perform better.

    The D-14 is about equal with the Corsair H80 and actually beats it in several reviews. It is quieter than the H100 and the H80. You listed silence as a requirement. You can run the D-14 at low fan and it will be silent and STILL deliver amazing cooling. I run mine at high fan and I cannot hear it over my case fans when the side cover is on.

    Also the mounting hardware and the fans with the D-14 are superb. The fans are ball-bearing and are widely considered to be among the best of the best by nearly all professional reviewers. The mounting hardware is easy to use strong and pretty much idiot proof.

    6. The Corsair 650D is a conservative design and is fairly quiet (not as quiet as the Fractal case that you list). It does have the same look that you are after. The 650D offers many advantages as it cools better, it has quick release side panels, it is USB 3.0 compliant, it is tooless (a joy to build in), it has a Sata III hot-swap bay, it has a built-in fan-controller and it is very high in quality.

    I own this case and if you run the fans on low it is nearly silent and it is still very good at cooling. On high fan, if you remove the top HD cage (the HD cages are removable by loosening two thumb screws), the case becomes a top cooler, but you can hear the fans when they are set to high speed (the air makes noise because your are moving a lot of it)

    7. You do not list an SSD - having just built my computer and used a Corsair Force 3 GT (emphasize the GT) SSD 120GB for the operating system I would strongly recommend you consider using an third generation SSD with your system.

    The Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB is that baddest, fastest SSD on the market right now but look at the Corsair GT, the Kingston Extreme Hyper X and the Patriot Wildfire also. The Kingston Hyper X is on sale at Newegg for $180.

    8. Go with the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB HDD. I own it and it is very fast. I got it for $50 on Newegg with free shipping. It regularly goes on sale for $50. This will save you some money

    9. Amazon regularly has better prices for the 2600K CPU than Newegg. I got mine for $292 on Amazon

    Good luck with your build
    Share
    October 18, 2011 2:13:17 PM

    flong said:
    Hello - welcome. You have posted a very thorough and thoughtful thread request, that is rare. I have a few thoughts.


    It's rarer still to get a well-composed, articulate response (although Morgoth has been very helpful, thus far.) Sorry, both, for the delay; busy week at work, already. I'll try to respond to each point, individually.


    flong said:

    1. I own the AsRock Extreme 4 Gen 3 mobo and I can recommend it. I have had no problems with it. Whatever board that you get, I would make sure it is gen 3 - compatible with the new Ivy Bridge CPUs coming out soon and PCI-e 3.0 compliant


    This will be my mobo, unless another member posts something that specifically trumps this board at the same price-point.

    flong said:

    2. Though the GTX 570 is an excellent card, I think it is overpriced. The ATI 6950 is $100 less in many cases and it nearly equals it in performance. Still the 570 is an amazing card.


    I'm particularly interested in Nvidia, as a number of my peers have seen excellent results from their 560ti cards. I am going with the 570 as I will eventually use SLI, and would like to stay with a card I have personally seen work magic.

    flong said:

    3. Go with 1866 RAM - you can get it for $65 on Newegg. There is a noticeable improvement in speed. 2 x 4GB is enough. CL8 or CL9 is sufficient. This is the sweet spot of performance vs price. You might also want to keep a look out for 2133 RAM on Newegg - I saw some 2133 Gskill 2 x 4GB RAM on sale for $75 the other day - a screaming deal


    In my original build, I had selected a 2 x 4GB 1866 RAM setup, but after reading more on the subject (Tom's Hardware, Anandtech, Overclock.org, etc.,) a consensus seems somewhat lacking for the appreciable gains that come with the higher modules (and price.) I'll keep an eye out for a deal, regardless.

    flong said:

    4. I own the HX 850 and it is an absolutely superb PSU - and this is from first-hand experience actually using the PSU. It is far better than your other choice...


    Similar to the mobo, this will be PSU for my upcoming build, barring a better suggestion / specific flaw. Thanks for the insight on this point, specifically.

    flong said:

    5. I would suggest that you go with the Noctua NH-D14 for your CPU cooler. It is perhaps the highest rated, best reviewed air cooler in existence (I also own this). It is about $40 - $45 more than the CM cooler that you list but it will perform better.

    The D-14 is about equal with the Corsair H80 and actually beats it in several reviews. It is quieter than the H100 and the H80. You listed silence as a requirement. You can run the D-14 at low fan and it will be silent and STILL deliver amazing cooling. I run mine at high fan and I cannot hear it over my case fans when the side cover is on...


    I'm still waffling between a few coolers. The air cooler I have selected currently seems to be the runner up (at its price point) behind the D-14. While I've seen amazing reviews for the D-14, I'm a little gun-shy about the color (the design team really should get fired, in my opinion...) and about the sheer size of the cooler (although I believe it will fit in the Fractal Design R3 case.)

    The H80 definitely appeals most to my aesthetic preference - again, somewhat ironic since I'm really aiming for a windowless case - but I've also heard of stable O/C bordering on 5GHz with the watercooling system. I'll have a clearer decision after another day or two, as I'm shooting to order the parts this weekend.

    flong said:

    6. The Corsair 650D is a conservative design and is fairly quiet (not as quiet as the Fractal case that you list). It does have the same look that you are after. The 650D offers many advantages as it cools better, it has quick release side panels, it is USB 3.0 compliant, it is tooless (a joy to build in), it has a Sata III hot-swap bay, it has a built-in fan-controller and it is very high in quality.

    I own this case and if you run the fans on low it is nearly silent and it is still very good at cooling. On high fan, if you remove the top HD cage (the HD cages are removable by loosening two thumb screws), the case becomes a top cooler, but you can hear the fans when they are set to high speed (the air makes noise because your are moving a lot of it)


    I was laughing reading through your post, as each point is spot on. I had actually looked at the 650D at length, before deciding against the windowed design. I have not ruled the case out, yet - but I would prefer Fractal's windowless, noise-dampening design, if it meets my needs.

    flong said:

    7. You do not list an SSD - having just built my computer and used a Corsair Force 3 GT (emphasize the GT) SSD 120GB for the operating system I would strongly recommend you consider using an third generation SSD with your system.

    The Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120GB is that baddest, fastest SSD on the market right now but look at the Corsair GT, the Kingston Extreme Hyper X and the Patriot Wildfire also. The Kingston Hyper X is on sale at Newegg for $180.


    Your only miss (haha,) I had originally listed the the 120GB Corsair Force 3. I have since updated it to the 120GB OCZ Vertex 3 (Sata III) (which received higher speed benchmarks / reviews, at about a $10 premium.) It seems to be the best value SSD in the same tier as the others you listed.

    flong said:

    8. Go with the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB HDD. I own it and it is very fast. I got it for $50 on Newegg with free shipping. It regularly goes on sale for $50. This will save you some money


    I have actually looked this hard drive a number of times (TH seems to be a cult, at times, regarding the drive,) but I would prefer something that is Sata 6.0 compatible. I believe the Samsung Spinpoint is only Sata 3.0?

    flong said:

    9. Amazon regularly has better prices for the 2600K CPU than Newegg. I got mine for $292 on Amazon


    I will definitely keep on eye on Amazon as well for each part before pulling the trigger. I have Amazon Prime too, so this may even be preferred for certain parts.

    Thanks again for the response.
    m
    0
    l
    October 18, 2011 5:26:29 PM

    Just one quick point. I have a SATA III compatible Hitachi 1.5 TB HDD and the Samsung F3 which is only SATA II compatible. In ATTO scores the F3 outperforms the Hitachi by abut 5 mb/s.

    Take a look at the Kingston Hyper X SSD. It is faster than the Vertex 3 and it is on sale at Newegg right now for $180 after rebates. The V3 is a great SSD also.

    If your case is closed, consider the Noctua NH-D14 - yes I think it is ugly also and I own it ha, ha. But its performance is truly amazing. You would have to spend $40 more and go to the H100 to beat it. If you are going to seriously overclock than the best way to go is the H100 with the D-14 following as your second choice.

    There is a performance difference with the 1866 RAM - I have read two reviews that compared Sandy Bridge RAM. One put the difference at 3% the other at 5%. This is worth the extra $15 - 1866 RAM has dropped significantly in price in the last few months.

    Good luck with your build :) 
    m
    0
    l
    October 27, 2011 4:28:00 PM

    Best answer selected by onewingedenigma.
    m
    0
    l
    !