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Combo Gaming/Workstation build, under $750

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December 21, 2011 7:00:55 PM

Hi all,

Its been 5 years since I built my last computer so I am in major need of an upgrade. I am a senior Mechanical Engineering student and I spend a lot of time running SolidWorks (CAD) and Star CCM+ (CFD) and my old dual core, which is fine for CAD doesnt really cut the mustard for CFD (or gaming). So here is what I am looking at so far:

Purchase Date Before 12/25

Budget Under 750 after rebates

Hardware not needed Monitors, mouse, keyboard, hard drives

Websites Newegg, Amazon (I have a prime account)

Country USA

Usage Gaming, Worstation Media center

Parts preference I plan to drive 2x 19in monitors and a 1080p TV all at once. So I think that limits me to AMD cards.

Overclocking Yes

SLI/Crossfire maybe

Resolution 1440x900 primary, being able to game my 32in 1080p TV would be nice but isnt critical.

Comments I expect to see about a 50/50 split between gaming and workstation use, and when I get out of school it will be mainly gaming and media. My computers stay on 24/7 so quiet is a bonus. I am an undergraduate engineer doing work for my school's Formula SAE team, so I am NOT in need of any professional level hardware (no quadro), I just need something that can solve CFD problems faster than what I have now and can play BF3.

Anyway here is what I have speced out:


ASUS 24X DVD Burner ($20)

ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 Intel Z68 ($125, $115 after MIR)

CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 1600 ($63, -15 combo with CPU)

Intel Core i5-2500K ( $220)

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO ( $34)

XFX Double D Radeon HD 6870 1GB ($180, $160 with $20 MIR)

Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower ($60)

XFX Core Edition PRO650W ($90, $60 with $30 MIR)




All told this comes out to $792.42, after rebates I get $732.42, below where I was targeting (which is good!). Based on the comments in the thread this is pretty closed to finalized. Just debating on if I should save a bit of money and go with a 6850

I want all of this ordered so I can cash in on some of the Christmas sales and now seems like as good a time to order as any (barring the hard drive nonsense). My intent is to upgrade to Ivy Bridge maybe 1-2 years from now so whatever MOBO I get should be compatible with it or be cheap enough to not feel bad about replacing with something else. Same thing would go for any AMD builds.

And for the old timers here is what I run now:

AMD Opteron 175@2.4ghz (Started as an AMD 3700)
4x 1gig DDR400, 2-3-3-5 (started off as 1gig)
Asus A8N-E
XFX 8800gt (started as 7800gt)
Antec NEOPOWER 480
Coolermaster Centurion 5 (Acrylic window version, extra fan added on side)
DVD Drive (single layer)
Soundbalster Audigy 2zs
500gig WD (data)
250gig WD (Win 7 install)
160gig Seagate (XP install)


Thanks all!
December 21, 2011 9:17:28 PM


Definitely use an NVidia card, better OpenGL drivers. An Nividia gaming card is of course not going to be approved for Solidworks, but its the best you can do on your budget.
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December 21, 2011 9:33:33 PM

Ok, I will look inot NVIDIA cards. Generally though making this some sort of screaming CAD demon isnt a major priority, I am much more interested in CFD and gaming.
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December 21, 2011 9:47:36 PM

I hate to say this but ivy bridge isnt going to be much of a upgrade if noticable at all for you if you go with the i5. Dont confuse intel with amd. You will have to upgrade your mother board everytime you want a decent cpu upgrade with intel.
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a b 4 Gaming
December 21, 2011 9:51:37 PM

500W, if it's a good PSU, is plenty for almost any single graphics card.
With a PSU, it's not just a question of wattage. It's got to be a good brand. There are plenty of "700W" PSUs out there that will literally explode before they pull 500W. Good companies: Antec, Corsair, Silverstone, FSP, XFX, Seasonic, OCZ. Throw in Thortech, NZXT, Ultra and a couple of others at high wattages, but that doesn't concern this build.
With that said, a Modxstream 500W would be fine.

Here's a 560, $160 after rebate: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It performs similarly to the 6870.
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December 21, 2011 10:04:42 PM

I can't find any information on whether STAR CCM+ uses GPU acceleration or what kind it uses, sorry.
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December 21, 2011 10:32:29 PM

Go with a 650 watt power supply, using the ps calculator with your setup including hard drives shows you pulling 551 watts. As a general rule of thumb you discount the first 100 watts a ps is rated for as a safety buffer.
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December 21, 2011 10:36:26 PM

Dont sweat it. At present I dont think there are any commercial CFD codes that use GPU acceleration. CFD is very memory bandwidth intensive. That said when I start the code I baiscally tell it how many threads I want it to run and it breaks the problem up into a number of parts equal to the number of threads.

Noted on the upgrade path. I had read that Intel was expecting a performance boost with Ivy bridge and that it would be compatible with hardware that runs i5 with just a BIOS update. I guess it wont be major boost?

I see that the Nvidia is slightly lower performer in terms of gaming compared to the ATI, and it is more expensive. Compared to the 8800gt I have now will CAD be any slower? The 8800gt is more than fast enough to do anything I need CAD wise.
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December 21, 2011 10:43:22 PM

Personally i prefer nvidia right now over ati simply because there is driver support shortly after a game launches if not b4. With that said, nvidia drops the ball on a number of occasions and you are forced to roll back. With that said a 8800 gt isnt gonna make you happy in bf3. Anything below a 9800 gt is being glitchy with drivers right now, i have a 8800 gts 512, which if you remember was just a few frames slower then the 8800 ultra, and i still havent bought the game yet because i dont want to be disappointed to know it runs like junk.
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December 22, 2011 12:18:00 AM

I've been reading up on the OCZ stuff and it seems to be just ok. I love my current Antec, has taken everything I have thrown at it in spades. This was the one item I was really unsure on. I'll keep looking. I am read the xfx article now.

I like the illusion but do I have to run those LEDs? I use it in my dorm and it is on 24/7. LED fans arent really conducive to sleeping lol. If I cant the I'll just get the regular 300 and grow into it cooling wise.

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December 22, 2011 3:47:00 PM

If lights bother you can can always just pop out the leds, its pretty simple- As for ocz personally id stay away from them, ive had some issues with there products in the past. If your looking for the reliability of your old antec ps, i would run corsair, they have been getting praises for the products as of late.
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