2.5-3k budget, 6 weeks of research my build with questions/advice pls

I really appreciate you taking the time to review my system and comment on my questions, I know it's long but I've put in 100+ hours of research after a 6 year absence from PCs.

My 6 year old desktop died and this hopefully will be my desktop for the next 5 years. The priority of usage is online reading, photoshop, media, gaming last (only BF3 interest). I've put brief comments on my reasoning behind my choices. I've dozen of pages of hand written notes for each component :lol:


1. Do I need to buy anything extra (specifically extra long sata cables given chassis is xigmatech elysium to put this system below together? Don't want any downtime as no local pc shop if I'm missing something...I always miss something.... :lol:

2. Should I buy other fans to replace stock fans, I've no reference point and official owners thread on xigmatech elysium talks of watercooling (unsurprisingly) rather than fans. The side fan for graphics card on the case will go on top so I can fit the NH-D14.

3: I'm hoping the noctua D-14 will fit the motherboard with the RAM, their website confirms this....don't want clearance issues, have read threads that say it's no problem but feel more comfortable asking the question.

4. Does the system look okay for what I want, I'm going for reliability & performance within a reasonable budget, the monitor is the exception given photoshop is priority.

Computer Build

CPU : i5 2500k

Best performance value for money intel chip, good overclocking potential (will be first time I overclock)

CPU Cooler : Noctua NH-D14

Best air cooler. 5 year warranty. No interest in water cooling for the time being.

Motherboard : P8P67 Pro rev 3.1

A very popular board for overclocking the cpu, has features I want, I don't need SSD cache or HT of Z68 chipset (not getting i7 2600k anyways) Photoshop CS4 doesn't use HT anyways.

RAM : Corsair vengence, 1.5v low profile 1600MHz (PC-12800)

It's 1.5volts and reliable brand, noctua d14 will clear it with lots of space

PSU : Seasonic x-850

Reliable top brand and they make their power supplies. I don't want to skimp on power supply and make a rookie mistake. It has enough juice to crossfire two 6950s if I do this later on.

Graphics card : ASUS Radeon EAH6950 DCII/2DI4S/2GD5

It's quiet and meets my price/performance ratio. I plan on buying a second one to crossfire later at x8 / x8. when new generation gpus comes out in Jan/Mar 2011 from AMD/Nvidia or even a year from now.

Chassis : Xigmatech Elysium

Massive space for price. Good fan options. Don't have to worry about size of future graphics cards, watercooling possible if I want later, great cable management, can use it as a home server case later on if I get fed up of it.

HDD : WD Caviar Green 2TB x 2

will RAID 1 to store RAW format of photos.

SSD : Crucial M4 - 128GB

It appears to be most reliable, cannot afford Intel, will store operating system, photoshop/program storage

Optical drive : Samsung SH-B123L
last burner from them was reliable, good reviews.

Monitor : NEC PA27W
photoshop is main priority, hence significant % weighting of overall budget. Only wish I could afford amd workstation gpu for 10bit and an Eizo. No interest in dell, hp, fujitsu ips monitors.

Mouse : G-500
my bf3 excitement(last serious gaming I did was BF2), open to suggestions if something more appropriate is suitable from comfort perspective. I ran out of energy to research.

Keyboard : G-510
bf3 excitement, definitely open to suggestions. I want a new keyboard, must be USB connection, don't like wireless. Emphasis would be comfort/responsiveness over gaming.

Fan controller : Lamptron FC Touch
6 channels, attractive display with good alarm settings.

3.5" to 5.25" adapter : Lian Li 3.5" to 5.25" MF515b
only thing in all black I can find, it's cheap fix for 3.5" card reader below into chassis's 5.25 bay.

cardreader : Ultron 75 in 1: reads everything I need it to and has good reviews.

Win 7 64bit

Soundsystem I will use onboard sound and my old Logitech speakers for now, monitor ate budget for sound card and speakers. I'll get something 6-12 months from now.

I'd love to be able to wait for Ivybridge and next generation graphics cards but really need a desktop. I've been 6 weeks without a desktop and I will buy it this weekend. Thanks again for taking the time to read. :love:
4 answers Last reply
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  1. You've done your research well and mostly everything looks good :)

    A few comments:

    Cable lengths - I've not owned a SeaSonic PSU before so I'm not too sure on their cable lengths, there's a good chance though, if your looking for optimal cable-management in a full tower case, cable extensions will be required.

    HDD - Despite that the Caviar Greens will only be used for storage, id recommend 7,200 rpm drives. The price difference is very minor and you should notice considerably better performance. 1TB SeaGate Barracuda or 1TB Samsung SpinPoint F3's are both worth looking into.

    Sound Card - You really shouldn't need one. The on-board sound for motherboards is generally very good quality.

    Motherboard - Id recommend checking out the ASRock Extreme4 Gen3. Personally I don't believe it's worth NOT buying a GEN3 motherboard in a new build. This at least gives the best option to upgrade to IvyBridge at a later date if you ever wanted to. Not to mention the board is well priced, and feature-rich.
  2. OMG, you really did a very good job in your research indeed.

    I would only recommend you to do some research about Photoshop plugins, tools + Nvidia Cuda.
    Some photoshop functions can be GREATELY accelerated if you use a Cuda capable Nvidia video card instead the CPU. Like (using a quad-core: 16min 30 sec vs using Cuda: 3 min only)

    Here's a link from Toms Hardware that explain this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/adobe-cs5-cuda-64-bit,2770.html

    Saying that, if it's possible to use this, I recommend to exchange the AMD video card for a Nvidia video card.
  3. On your budget, with the 850w PSU you already have listed, GTX 570's in SLI might be a great option ^^ based on the above comment :)
  4. Thanks for taking the time to read and reply!

    I wanted to do my homework as much as possible rather than be a complete newb with my first post....technology has changed a lot in 6 years since my last build :D

    Ironic I get NH D-14 right but cannot get the year, I meant 2012 for the new graphics cards :lol:

    cable extensions

    could you please show me roughly what I should be looking at from this website link


    any good manufacturer to look out for, I know it's just copper/plastic wiring but don't want a dodgy cable as a build problem, could be difficult to diagnose given my lack of build experience. I really have no idea on what to get here given my power supply in terms of the end of cable name, male/female adapters. My lack of research shows....

    Does an 8pin 'bridge connection' exist to close gap between bottom placement of PSU to top left corner of ATX motherboard in the Elysium and similar for 24 pin main connection on right side of board.?

    Graphics Card

    I understand fast CPU especially overclocked i5 2500k to 4GHz, SSD and lots of RAM are the biggest impact on CS4 performance (Given my prior system anything will be an upgrade though) and the Graphics CPU to a lesser extent.

    I cannot justify to myself a 570 and certainly not a quadro/nvidia or fire gl/amd workstation cards, photography is a very keen hobby but it is by no means anything professional. I also feel I'm buying in at the latter end of life of these products, cpu and gpu but cannot wait 5-6 months until Mar 2012...I will feel the pain when prices drop in buying a 570.

    I'd love to get dual 580s for BF3 but gaming in general isn't my thing (I did clock 900 hours on BF2 though :o ) and I feel the 570 is at the wrong side of the price/performance ratio for me personally....originally I was going to go 6850 as best value for money card. From what I understand an overclocked 6950(I can no longer unlock it though) compares with a 6970 which is close to a 570....yet it is a fraction of the price in Europe. I think a 6950 is a good compromise given my urge to play BF3 and I can always upgrade my card in Mar 2012 if I get into it the way I did with BF2. AMD scales better also from what I've read and they seem to have driver issues worked out with this card.

    Truth be told the monitor also cut into this area.

    Hard Drive

    I was going to use an older (6 years) 7200rpm 400GB WD drive with SSD for image processing and the RAID I for storage of final images.

    I should have researched this more but 'guessed' a mechanical 7200rpm drive would be the same in terms of read/write values and getting a new one wouldn't change anything? Am I wrong? I will change for a new 1GB if it's better.


    I thought the easier overclock for a newb like me would be with the Asus bios....lots of guides given its popularity.
    I thought reliability would be best served by either an Asus or Gigabyte board although I know ASrock was a subsidiary of Asus until 2008 and currently are the 3 largest motherboard manufacturer. I read about driver issues and ASrock boards. For a gamer it makes definite sense... I have no loyalty to anything, just want a proven track record of reliability and my desktop life cycle is 4-5 years.

    Also in relation to PCIe 3.0, is it only recent cards that have broken the bandwidth of PCIe 2.0 such as dual 580s in a 590 card??

    This entire research project/desktop replacement makes me want to shorten my replacement/upgrading cycles...there is a ridiculous amount that has changed since I built my last system and I should really stay more in touch with technology.

    I will research the suggested motherboard more. I'll take onboard any suggestions. I know you get these posts all the time but it really helps me 'bounce' this suggested rig off people that follow technology. It helps a lot!!

    Thanks again for your time and replies!!
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