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$1000-$1200 Gaming PC, First Build

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December 11, 2011 8:07:48 PM

Hey all! My current system is a first gen Mac Pro, which I love. There are a bunch of games on the horizon that I'd like to play - The Old Republic, Diablo III chief among them. Taking everything else into account, I decided to keep my current Mac Pro as-is rather than flashing a PC card for use with these upcoming titles, and put myself in a decent upgrade position going forward. My plan is to keep the Mac Pro for general use, and spin up this PC whenever I feel like playing something.

This will be my first PC build, I've worked with Macs for years but have been out of the PC scene for so long that I was a bit lost coming back and looking over all my options. I was looking at the Ars Technica System Guide for guidance, but that is a bit outdated by now.


Approximate Purchase Date: Between now and early January - will be doing this as a gift to myself for Christmas.

Budget Range: $1000-$1200

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming. I'll be keeping my current Mac Pro for everything else.

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse (though I'm open to suggestions for a nice gaming mouse, I'm using a Logitech MX Rev for general use at the moment). I have a decent set of analog speakers, so as long as the mobo supports that I should be good.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: this is my first build, so I don't have much of a preference. I've ordered from Newegg before, and I like and trust them, but am willing to go to any reputable reseller. I suppose anyplace with a decent RMA process in case things go pear-shaped is fine.

Country: United States

Parts Preferences: About the only thing I am really leaning one way or the other on is that I'd like to use an Intel processor. I've read that an i7 over an i5 doesn't matter much for gaming, so whatever gets me the best bang for my buck.

Overclocking: Likely not at first, but perhaps down the line.

SLI or Crossfire: Again probably not at first, but it is something I am considering for down the line, unless a dual-GPU build gets me significantly better performance for the price than a single card build.

Monitor Resolution: My two current displays are a 24" DELL2407WFPHC and a 23" Apple Cinema display, both DVI. I'd like to run games at 1920x1200.

Additional Comments: My current Mac Pro is whisper quiet during general use. Given that I will keep that machine for general use, and only use this new build strictly for gaming, noise isn't too big a concern, so long as it doesn't drown out whatever game I'm playing. Given that I'm keeping both machines and plan on sharing the displays/speakers, recommendations for a good KVM switch that can also handle dual DVI monitors and analog input setups would be appreciated. They need not factor into the budget, I can go above to acquire these since they're not 'essential' - I can always swap cables manually until I can pick one up.

I'm aware that nothing lasts forever with regards to gaming, but a rig that will allow me to expand/upgrade for a few iterations would be welcome.

Thanks for your time, I welcome your suggestions.

More about : 1000 1200 gaming build

December 11, 2011 8:40:08 PM

This is $1220.

Case - $ 135 - Antec DF-85 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Case Fan - later - Antec Red 120 mm http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU - $ 115 - Antec CP-850 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
MoBo - $ 220 - ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CPU - $ 220 - Intel Core i7-2500K http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Cooler - $ 50 - Hyper 612 PWM http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
TIM - $ 5 - Shin Etsu http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
RAM - $ 46 - (2 x 4GB) Corsair Vengeance DDR3-1600 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - $ 230 - Asus GTX 560 900Mhz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GFX - Later - Same
HD - $ 140 - Spinpoint F3 1TB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
SSD - Later - Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 120 GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
DVD Writer - $ 59 - Asus 24X DRW-24B3L w/ LS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

-Case is usually $160. I usually present 5-6 case choices to prospective owners and this is by far the most popular selection (HAF-X, 1200, 500R, Level 10GT). Excellent cooling, great cable management, quiet, built in fan speed control. Most important it allows CPX form factor PSU's which are extremelt quiet and cool compared with smaller ATX models....Add case door fan when ya add the 2nd GFX card.
-PSU choice can easily be summed up by jonnyguru's comment in giving it a 10.0 performance rating "It is completely unmatched by any ATX unit on the market I can think of. You'd have to spend twice as much as this thing costs to find the next best thing, performance wise. "
-MoBo / CPU - Has all the bells, whistles and upgradability ya could ask for .,....and full 3 year warranty not available from cheaper vendors.
Cooler / TIM - The new champ in the $50 market segment.....and yes, you will OC your SB CPU...it would be a crime not to. The TIM matched As5's thermal properties but without AS5's curing headaches.
-RAM - It's low profile, it's cheap, it's got good specs and no silly toothed heat sinks to interfere w/ ya cooler
-GFX - Two factory OC'd 560 Ti's give ya 40% more fps than a single 580 and adding the 2nd 580 ($1000 investment) only gives ya 10% more fps than the twin 560's costing $460.....
-SSD is fastest 120 / 128 GB model available (see THG heirarchy chart) and it's cheaper than most competing brands in its size range....ad when ya have some extra dough.
-HD - get it before price goes up more.....if ya wanna spend more look at Momentus which has build in mini SSD.
-DVD has Blue Ray for movies


If ya replacing Mouse / KB ...

Keyboard - $ 100 - Logitech G510 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mouse - $ 50 - Logitech G500 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 11, 2011 11:07:19 PM

i7 is a waste of money if all your going to do is game with it. I would Suggest an i5-2500k or an AMD phenom II x4 975.
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December 11, 2011 11:33:41 PM

Thats what Jack has. He just misspelled. Excellent mobo and cpu.
Might as well go with silver arrow cooler. Also I would get arctic silver ceramiq thermal compound.
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December 11, 2011 11:54:29 PM

Also gotta make sure psu will fit ur case
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December 12, 2011 4:15:54 AM

Thanks for your input. I'll look over some of these parts tomorrow once I'm a bit less sleepy:)  Appreciate it!
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December 14, 2011 2:52:22 AM

Pulling together advice from all over, I've come up with this, and am wondering how it stacks up. Thanks for looking it over!

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($179.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD4-B3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($189.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($38.46 @ Amazon)
Hard Drive: Intel 320 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($184.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 570 1.25GB Video Card ($382.91 @ CompUSA)
Case: Antec Twelve Hundred ATX Full Tower Case ($160.51 @ Mac Connection)
Power Supply: Corsair 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7260S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($21.49 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1278.33

Couple notes:

I decided to go full tower because I like the room, the Antec 1200 had plenty of that, dust filters, and adjustable fan speed. I don't plan on using any mechanical HDDs (at first, anyway) so there's gonna be a lot of empty space, I am okay with this.

I was originally planning on doing 6870CF, then looked at 6950/6970s, figuring that a single GPU would reduce complexity and provide options for doubling up later. Nearly everywhere I looked suggested that that Nvidia 570/580s edged out the 6xxx series for my proposed use case (1920x1200, single monitor), and while dropping $500 on a 580 is tempting, I'd rather not spend just to spend and the 570 looked to be a good deal. If I did want to SLI these later, I've seen reports that the 570 with the Twin Frozr doesn't leave a lot of space between cards, was wondering if anybody had first hand experience with this.

I don't plan on overclocking the CPU yet, so I left a CPU cooler out for now.

About the power supply - will 750w be enough? I don't want to skimp here, but also don't want to get something that would be total overkill for my current needs.

Lastly, I was looking at this mobo and the ASUS P8Z68-V PRO (The one Jack mentions, as well). Felt like I was splitting hairs, but I liked the all black design, and this one was a few bucks cheaper - they seemed mostly equal. Any other guidance here would be appreciated - have I overlooked something?
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