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Torn between two options: Liquid cooled GTX 580s and cheaper GTX 570s

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
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October 14, 2011 4:47:00 PM

My i7-920@4GHZ/GTX295 system is nearing three years old and I figure it's time to upgrade. I tend to upgrade my computer only every three years so want to get a system that will last a while. I've been looking at the reviews for a few months now contemplating what I should put into the build and have most of it figured out. I'm starting with an i7-2600k. I'm definitely going with a 240-256GB SSD (there's a Corsair Force 3 240GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... on sale on Newegg right now for $320 so probably will go with that one). I'm looking at http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for a power supply. I'll probably go with 16GB of 1866 ram because it's so cheap: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168....

The problem I'm having, primarily after seeing the build article regarding the small case with water cooled GPU/CPU (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/microatx-gaming-ove...), is whether I should go with the smaller case and better cards or go cheaper and go with dual-570s instead. First of all, the article lists that pair of PNY closed loop liquid cooled cards (one with and one without the CPU block) at $1080. I can't find that price at any online vendor I've ever heard of for less than an additional $150 beyond that, $1230 (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... + http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...). Regardless, I'm still considering the build since it would be nice to have a smaller case for portability and the better graphics cards are clearly better.

The problem I'm having is that going with a dual-580 build comes out something in the area of $500 more than going with a traditional air cooled dual-570 build in a full tower case. Using the same components but replacing the Gene-Z (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...) with the Gigabyte board (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...), swapping to a full tower case, adding a decent $30 aftermarket CPU heatsink, and obviously using a pair of GTX 570s instead of the pair of water-cooled GTX 580s comes out at $2000 whereas the liquid-cooled build comes to around $2500 for my chosen components.

I guess the question here is whether I actually need the power of the dual-580s for the next three years and whether this liquid-cooled system should be expected to last as long as an air-cooled system. I run a single monitor at 1920x1200 for gaming (plus a second monitor for web-browsing while my game takes up my primary screen). I want to run everything at max settings. Even Metro 2033 runs at like 54 fps at this resolution on dual-570s (according to guru3d's VGA charts) so it seems like the 580s may be overkill. However, I would also like this computer to last 3 years (yes I know it would be likely less expensive to use less expensive cards and just upgrade them later instead of buying high-end right now but my financial situation means I have money to spend right now and may not later). So, in the interest of "future-proofing" (lol) and the cool-factor of the smaller form-factor, should I drop $500 more on the dual-580 liquid-cooled build?

Edit: I'm purchasing this weekend. I'm not carrying anything over from my old system except a 1TB storage drive. I prefer intel/nvidia. I do overclock though usually not aggressively. I almost exclusively order parts from newegg though would order from tigerdirect or amazon if the deal was good. All other info should be in the post above. Thanks!
a c 1407 U Graphics card
October 14, 2011 7:47:05 PM

Upgrading from your current I7 to 2600K might be disappointing. On the GPU's though 2xGTX570 in SLI would be a great upgrade.
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October 14, 2011 9:34:19 PM

Yeah, I doubt I'll see any real improvement from the CPU but I want my current system to still be usable since I'm giving it to someone to replace their current gaming computer (e5200@3.75ghz/gtx260). Since I'm getting all new stuff anyway, I figure I may as well go with the sandy bridge.

And yeah the GTX 570s would be a nice upgrade, especially for directx11 support. The question is more whether I should drop the extra $500 to get the small size (which I count as a benefit) and the significantly better graphics cards (including more headroom for overclocking due to the liquid cooling) compared to the GTX570 build.
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