Advice on a i7 3630k build vs a 2600k build?

Hello experts,

I am shopping to build my first desktop. I am trying to which of two possible builds to complete. One potential build is based on an Intel i7 2600k. The other potential build is based on an Intel i7 3630k.

I was hoping that one of the very helpful experts in this forum could point out any mistakes I might be making, or offer any advice about choosing between the builds.

I will have two main uses for the desktop:
- I am a grad student in the physical sciences, and I run a lot of python and compiled C++ code for my research. My analysis involves applying various selections to a large dataset, and extra cores help.
- I play video games occasionally. I like Civ 5, and I would like to play Skyrim.

I have a few restrictions for the desktop:
- I would like to overclock the CPU (maybe the GPU?) of whatever I build.
- I would like the PC to run quietly, if possible. I see a lot of comments along the lines of "Play with headphones if noise is a problem for you." I won't be the only person in the room, so that's not an option for me.
- I will buy the components in the USA when I visit my family for the holidays, but I will build the computer at my home in Europe, where prices are higher. I'll have to wait a year before my next trip to the US, so waiting for Intel ivy bridge CPUs or nvidia kepler GPUs is not an attractive option.

Both builds include:
- RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Z Series 16GB (4 x 4GB), DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) [USD 84.99]
- GPU: ASUS NVIDIA GTX 580 [USD 509.99]
- Power supply: LEPA G900-MA, 900W, 80Plus Gold PS [USD 179.99]
- Optical drive: ASUS DRW-24B3ST/LT DVD Drive [USD 29.99]
- HDD: Caviar Green 1TB SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive WD10EARS [USD 139.99]
- SSD: Vertex 3 SSD Series 60GB SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) with SandForce 2281 Controller [USD 119.99]
- Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower [USD 54.99]

The i7 2600k build includes:
- CPU: Core i7 2600K LGA 1155 [USD 279.99]
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 [USD 189.99]
- Cooling: Hyper 212 Plus Universal CPU Cooler [USD 29.99]
- Thermal paste: Artic 5 Silver [USD 9.99]

The i7 3630k build includes:
- CPU: Core i7 3930K LGA 2011[USD 599.99]
- Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 PRO Socket 2011 X79 [USD 319.99]
- Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H80 [USD 0 -- comes with the CPU]

Price difference between the two builds: ~USD 410.

Some specific questions:
- The power supply is rated for 900W, which might be a little bit too much... I just wanted to have room for expansion (maybe another GTX 580 for SLI someday?) and comfortable overclocking. Am I wasting money/energy?
- My impression from reading benchmarks on Tom's Hardware and elsewhere is that a single 580 GTX with a Sandy Bridge i7 2600k or better is more than enough power to run Skyrim or Civ 5 on ultra settings at 1980x1020. Has anyone observed differently?
- The motherboard I chose for the i7 2600k has four DIMM slots. Is there any reason not to use 4 memory sticks? Would two be better?
- The RAM I've chosen seems to be made for an x79 motherboard. Would it still work well in a Z68 motherboard? The part number for the RAM is F3-12800CL9Q-16GBZL, if it helps.
- I got an SSD so that I could take advantage of the SSD caching on the ASUS X79 and ASUS Z68 motherboards. Do I need to use RAID too? Or am I ok as-is?

Can any of the veterans here alert me to any potential pitfalls in advance? I would really appreciate it.

Thanks very much!
4 answers Last reply
More about advice 3630k build 2600k build
  1. i7-2600k. The new lga 2011 cpus are so weak for the price that it isn't worth it my friend.

    Don't get a GREEN hard drive btw. You should get a WD black or blue not green.
  2. my thoughts are these...
    -take the 2600k over the 3930k rarely does the 3930k beat the 2600k and when it does its not by enough to justify the cost.
    -ive never heard of LEPA for power supplies but if you know them well and trust them buy them.
    -you can get a 1TB drive cheap still at bestbuy/fry's/microcenter or most other brick and mortar stores.

    -running your power supply at 50% is ideal for power efficiency once you get over 80% or under 20% load your efficiency starts to suck.
    -i run skyrim on a much slower card at max settings but no AA and its smooth. a 580 would be awesome with skyrim.
    -go ahead and use 2 or 4 slots for ram. the only recent system that has issues with half full or fullly filled slots is the socket 1366 systems, for some reason they are slower with 6 slots filled than with 3. but only by 5% or so.
    -ive not set up ssd caching but my understanding is that you put your ssd/hdd into a raid type config then you install windows. you cant do it the other way around. unless you dont want it to be your boot drive. but again i haven't messed with it.
  3. Typically, for gaming, there isn't much benefit going for anything beyond 2500k. But since your use case is more towards data analysis, etc. the additional 2 cores of the 3930k would be worthwhile.

    The datasets that you analyze, will they be large files on the hard disk? If so, you'd do well to go in for a 7200 rpm drive like the Caviar Black, instead of the Caviar Green (which is quiet, needs little power, but has slow seeks).
  4. It sounds like your not a very heavy gamer, both civ 5 and skyrim do not really push a GPU that hard. I don't know if your trying to save money or your budget is set very loosely. But with that good of a processor you should be getting over 60 FPS easily in those games (and almost all games) even with a cheaper video card like a gtx 560 ti like this one :

    However, if you do intend to play new games in the future or your budget is not an issue definitely get the gtx 580 it is a beast.

    I would go with a different brand of power supply I've never even heard of them. Corsair is very good, and unless you plan to run SLI a 650 or 750 watt power supply should be fine. Most GPU cards can run SLI even on 650 or 750 watt power supplies, not sure about 580s though.

    Generally I feel it is better to use 2 slots of ram unless you need more memory. 8 GB should be enough unless you actually use more then that. Most people don't even go over 4 GB with games and multitasking. But if your doing some crazy ram intensive stuff get 16gb. But otherwise its better just 2 slots, uses less power, less heat, less complications etc.

    That ram should work on any ddr3 platform but it may be optimized for X79. If you don't go with X79 I would get something else just to be safe.

    And I would definitely recommend a 2600k. I just bought one and am waiting for it to come from new egg. If I am understanding your computer use correctly it should be a perfect fit for you. It is much cheaper, less power/heat consumption, and should be easier to overclock due to 4 cores. Either chip will get excessive frame rates in any game with a good GPU, so unless money isn't an issue at all I wouldn't recommend the 3630k for the current price.
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