First time builder, gaming rig, need input/suggestions

Hello good folks at Tom's, been looking forward to making this thread for some time, so here goes.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the month, hoping to be able to last till black friday/cyber monday
Budget Range: soft cap of $1k
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Internet and gaming, mostly MMO's, SWToR in the near future, will prolly go back to Age of Conan to try max graphics, maybe Rift. As well as occasional RTS games
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, also have a microcenter within range
Country of Origin: NYC, US
Parts Preferences: Intel/Nvidia please
Overclocking: Not right away, but down the road when the build starts getting outdated I'll definitely give it a shot as practice for future builds with OC in mind.
SLI or Crossfire: No, not at all.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200, not sure which one to aim for

Additional Comments: Still trying to figure out what specs of parts I will have no use for. But in general, would like a reliable PC that I can put together and not worry about for at least 2-3 years, aside from general dusting/driver upgrades maintenance.
And most importantly, would very much like a silent system, which I hope can be accomplished with adequate cooling since I'm not OC'ing.

CPU: intel i5-2500k from microcenter

GPU: Set on the GTX560ti, need input on which brand/model. Like what I read about MSI Twin Frozr II, does it stand out or do most 2 fan designs do pretty much the same job with the cooling/noise ratio of performance?

Case: I do love that Cooler Master HAF 922 with the look, plenty of size and huge fans. Couple of things here
- Is it true that larger fans make less noise since they have to spin slower to push the same amount of air?
- Would I need more than 1in/2out fans to adequately cool single vid card and no OC? As in are there cheaper cases I could go with? (skipping Antec 300 due to absence of cable management)
- Looking for a steel case with power supply mount on the bottom, 2-3 max bays for optical drives/hdd, dust filters

PSU: Read enogh to know not to skimp here, will be getting an 80 silver/bronze certified unit from top brand like Antek, Corsair, Seasonic or CM, modular and everything, just need to know what Wattage I should be aiming for. Would like to futureproff a bit here, so what range should I look at for the single 560ti with i2500k and to make sure it would be enough for a higher end card such as 580, 590 or even a 6xx if I upgrade 2-3 years? Online calculators indicate at least 650W for the 590, so looking for advise here.

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1tb

RAM: Will get a set of 2x4gig sticks of 1600 with lowest latency to price ratio, right now it's
- Question - how much does latency matter in the lower end? Is it worth it to go from 9 to 8 or is it all the same when 10 and below?

Motherboard: Every newegg search I run I end up with the same Asrock Z68 Pro3 board
- search includes just 1 PCIe2, 4 memory slots, Z68, LG1155 and 1600 memory standard
- have read positive things about Asrock, but nobody seems to be too sure, so looking for confirmation on this selection
- the micro version costs $5 more, worh the smaller size? would it be less sturdy? i have no use for the extra pci1 slots and can't find any differences other than the actual board dimensions

Optical drive: will get a samsung/asus 20 dollar one when loading the cart, just need to read a cd/dvd every once in a while

Monitor: Was set on getting a Samsung 23inch widescreen at Costco nearby untill I saw that it was touchless/buttonless so looking for advise on reliable 23-24inch monitors for gaming. Probably <2ms response, not over the top contrast ratio and most of all actual buttons for power/options.

I think that about covers it. Basically need input on PSU wattage, case/vid card/monitor suggestions, mobo approval and 1900X1200 vs 1900X1080 breakdown. If anybody has thoughts like "not all 20 dollar optical drives are equal" i would very much like to hear them. Aside from that, thanks in advance.
21 answers Last reply
More about first time builder gaming input suggestions
  1. Asrock mobo is great. If you don't need the micro then save the $5.

    I love my MSI Twin frozr II, compared to my old 260 the cooling is great.

    you won't tell the difference in cas9 vs cas8 aside from benchmarks

    650W power should future proof your computer for future cards. I wouldn't expect cards to need too much more power in the next 2-3years.

    Your case is great.

    1920 x 1080 vs 1920 x 1200 really isn't a big deal. There are plenty of 24" 2ms monitors out there that would suit your needs like
  2. Thanks for the reply.

    Would still like more input on a silent/quietest GTX560ti and if the stock cpu cooler and case fans will be enough to keep the temps down after 5-6 hrs of gaming.

    Also, what would be the chances of me finding deals on all these components on black friday/cyber monday?

    And as far as 1920x1080 vs 1920x1200 go, is there anything specific I should look for in the specs of the monitors or is it just a matter of settings in windows?
  3. I am only going to point out the things i disagree on, the rest you can deduct that i concur.
    GPU - 6950 is faster, more budget, newer, does awesome OC and it's xfire won't have noticeable micro stuttering. 570 is also good if you are hell bent on nvidia.
    Case - While i dislike the moderate products of mediocre quality for the masses CM produces i won't say a direct no to this one. It is alright i guess for it's price, other cases offer more for less but you can't go against the fad people worship. Go for neutral pressure because surely the dust filters of the intake fans (which for your sake i hope you install) will create a slightly negative airflow. Yes it is true larger fans make less noise. 2exhaust on rear and top and 2intake front and bottom is the ideal after extensive experimenting for months. Don't install side fans as they intend to create turbulances. Your gfx cards may seem to benefit but treat air flow like water flow. Alternatives? Have a look at Antec and Thermaltake. Cases for the masses but 2 times the quality of CM.

    PSU - I don't believe you read enough if you include CM in that list. Within the first page of this forum there is one occasion of a guy having a 1k watt CM go pop on him. 650watts of a solid psu will be enough for what you want. (no dual gfx, no 6970 or 580 models). Enermax, Thermaltake (the toughpower), antec, seasonic, ocz, corsair. Search for reviews, make sure they got a rock solid 12v rail.

    Motherboard - Great but go for gen3. If you are sure you won't be upgrading to gen3 cards then go for gigabyte z68xp-ud3. If you are sure you aren't going to dual card and you dont want gen3 then the GA-Z68MA-D2H is for you.
  4. I'll look into 6950, just haven't heard anything bad about 560ti and not looking to OC or xfire/sli - will try OC way down the road before next build, but that's for practice, not to get 120%.

    As far as CM HAF 922, read that it has amazing air flow, thus the HAF. Aside from that, I narrow my search down in the following manner: mid tower, steel case, bottom psu, size/number of fans and look at dust filters, cable management and actual dimensions. 922 seems to be the largest mid tower, has ok cable management - Antec 300 doesn't have any and 900 costs more than CM - and can't find any other case with two 200mm fans anywhere close to my price range. Plus it looks pretty good. I'll revisit the Thermaltake cases i skimped through. Would like to hear more on why you feel CM lacks quality though - just a flimsy build or bad materials and ports?

    For PSU I'll be picking the best deal for 650-700W 80bronze/silver at the time of purchase. Will be sure to think twice about CM here.

    And not sure what you mean by gen3 cards - will this Asrock pro3 mobo not be able to handle the next level of gtx6XX cards due out next year? And does it have something to do with the PCI 3.0x ports?
  5. You seem to know what to look for in a case. Cable management is important of course but once you got the hang of how to move the cables out of the way and strap them together in order not to hinder air flow. I consider the most important factors when looking for a case to be in order of importance:
    -Space. (will cards fit? will the remaining space be enough to traffic air? Do i have any special needs on this build? Will it need extreme airflow? will it go in a desk so that i can forgo the side grills?)
    -PSU positioning. (Is it at the bottom? If i put a big psu will i have problems with ventilation? Does it have big grills with filter?)
    -Fan slots and grill mesh. (Can i achieve my favorite top+rear exhaust and front+bottom intake? Is the mesh too thick to create excess noise? Can it be cut out easily? Will the top exhaust hit the CPU heatsink? Will the front fan touch the hdd rack and cause vibrations?)
    -Motherboard windows. (how many? Can i route some of the wires on the right side?)
    -All the rest bonuses.

    After considering those things i view comments or ask people about the material. I don't mind light alloys, i am not going to play football with my rig. Just as long as the building process is flawless (pci cards sitting properly between mobo and chassis, alloy strong enough that won't bent with the pressure i will apply while building)

    Reviews lie a lot. For many reasons. What your eyes and experience can tell you no review can... for cases at least.

    Gen3 motherboards aka support for ivy bridge and pci-e 3 cards. Some boards have the pci-e 2.0 slots but will support pci-e 3 cards via a bios flash. Those are called Native Gen3. Some boards have pci-e 3 slots already and will support the new cards at their full potential. Those are called Gen3. The way i see it? Gfx cards change technology so fast that it doesn't matter what you bought today in 2 years time frame. CPU though? Heh, i5 2500k has been the best gaming cpu for how long? How long did it take for Athlon 64 x2 6000+ to become inadequate for gaming? I think gen3 motherboards are a good futureproofing without saying that once pci-e 3 cards are out they will saturate pci-e 2.0.

    I hope i didn't bore you much :p
  6. Bore - not at all, appreciate the input.

    Still confused about the gen3 mobo/gpu relationship tho - would I basically not be able to use GTX6XX or AMD 7xxx cards with the Asrock Z68 Pro3 in the future? And would that be due to the lack of PCIe 3.0 port because these new cards will not run on PCIe 2.0? Or is it that, AND the fact that the Asrock Z68 Pro3 mobo will not be able to do the bios flash thing you mentioned?

    I would prefer to stay away from SLI/Xfire for a single 23" monitor and hoping that the 560ti (or 6950) will be able to handle max settings in mmo's for 2-3 years and once that is no longer the case, an upgrade and OC of a 590 or AMD equivalent would extend the life of the rig for another 1-2 years (that is if I'm limited to this generation of cards). I'm getting 8gigs of RAM now, with the option to upgrade to 16 in the future, albeit that prolly will not be necessary and feel like i5-2500k will still be going strong in 2-3 years, especially with an easy OC to 4.0.
  7. Bump

    Would like input on weather or not i should worry about cooling w/o OC and hoping that the stock cpu fan will do the job and not be too noisy.

    Some more advice on 560ti/6950 models would also be appreciated - stock clocks ok, biggest concern is noise/cooling.
  8. I'm pretty sure the cards are backward compatible but you can't utilize the increase speeds. By using the gen3 you are set up to utilize PCIe 3.0 and won't have to worry about your PCIe lane bottlenecking your gpu.
  9. why get the i5 2500k and not OC? With a simple multiplier change of 33 to 44 you increase your processing by 33%! If you don't oc you won't need to worry about cooling. The stock fan is enough.
  10. Will OC down the line - wouldn't want to blow up new parts of the first build.

    And prolly gonna move up to Asrock Pro3 Gen3 seeing as it's the same price.

    Thanks for the info guys, very much appreciated.

    PS: Any1 know why the prices of 1tb 7200rpm HDD's doubled today on newegg? The Samsung Spinpoint 3 i mentioned earlier in the thread is like 150 now.
  11. Thailand flood.
  12. Ah yeah, it's all over the internet news. Guess microcenter's $90 is actually a good deal on that HDD now. Seeing as they say those factories won't be open for at least another 2-3 months, there is no reason to expect prices to drop back down anytime soon even with black friday?
  13. Go amazon it's only $72 right now.
  14. 1 TB Seagate barracuda on amazon
  15. I'll take a look at amazon, altho they're prolly all gone now.

    Got another issue now though. Began looking at Asrock Z68 Pro3 Gen3 and the memory support list only has these models of RAM that fit my specs.

    DDR3 1600 4GB G.Skill F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB G.Skill F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR2 DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB G.Skill F3-12800CL9Q-16GBXL DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB G.Skill F3-12800CL7Q-16GBXH DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB Geil GET316GB1600C9QC DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB Geil GVP324GB1600C9HC DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB Kingmax FLFF65F-C8MF9 MEES ORD77D9LGK DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX DS v 4pcs
    DDR3 1600 4GB Kingston KHX1600C9D3K3/12GX(XMP)

    However the only complete matches I can find on newegg are the Kingston KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX which apparently is a 1.65V RAM that does not play well with i5-2500k

    and GSkill F3-12800CL9D-8GBSR2 that is 1.25V RAM and thus costs a bit more.

    So how important is it to pick a RAM according to the memory support list? What would be the downside of going with a model that is not on that list?

    And is there anything other than efficiency and ability to OC when it comes to RAM voltage? As in what would I gain/lose by paying more for a lower voltage RAM?

    Thanks in advance.
  16. Any DDR3 SDRAM 240 1.5V will work. A lower voltage ram helps keep power use down and allows more overhead for overclocking the ram.

    I can't remember which voltage it is just the RAM voltage coincides with another and they both have to be within .05V of each other. It's why most get 1.5V ram since it's within that tolerance.
  17. I see. Any particular reason for the memory support list than?
  18. I think it's to give you an idea of what kind of memory is compatible.
  19. Got a set of Gskill sniper on sale last week on newegg, looks nice...

    Few more questions

    - Sata cables - do I need to buy my own or do I get a few with mobo? As far as I know I only need SATA II atm and only two of those - one for optical drive and one for HDD.
    - And looking for some reading/watching material/guides for putting parts together and what to do after the case is set up, especially the troubleshooting, as in how to figure out if a component is DOA and the like. I went through newegg TV on youtube, read some stuff here at toms, any additional recomendations on potential must see vids/reads would be appreciated.
  20. the motherboard will come with sata cables.

    as far as videos I don't have any :( Tom's has everything you need!
  21. First of all, thanks to all that have replied, I asked a lot of different questions so not sure if I want to select the "one best answer". I finally got the last of my parts last night and put them together - finished late so only installed basic windows 7 before having to go to sleep. Got two final concerns that I would like input on.

    - I picked up Gigabyte gtx 560ti (non OC) and went to check for drivers - GB tells me to download version 266.40 but nvidia is up to 288.xx - i assume nvidia kows a tad better but can gigabyte be that far behind? Or is there something else going on here?

    - And ended up getting CM HAF 922 case and Asrock Z68 Pro3 Gen3 mobo - quite a nice fit actually as I'm able to connect all 3 case fans to the mobo and set them all to automatic. First of all - are there any downsides to this? And if not, what kind of temperature settings should I use to get these case fans to speed up at? Better yet, what are some good temperature ranges to aim for with my components?

    The components are as follows, nothing is being OC'ed for the time being:

    GB GTX 560ti
    Samsung spinpoint 3f, 7200rpm, 1tb
    Asrock Z68 Pro3 Gen3
    G-skill Sniper X RAM - 8gb, 1600, cas 9

    Thanks in advance
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