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1000-1300$ build

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December 23, 2011 6:28:58 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as I can make up my mind about what parts to get.
Budget Range: 1000-1300$ after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, pretty much it.
Parts Not Required: Keyboard/mouse/monitor/speakers (I wouldn't mind advice on a good deal for some epic speakers though)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg/tigerdirect or any other reliable seller.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Currently I don't have a preference, just a basic idea, open to advice.

Overclocking: Definetly preferred.
SLI or Crossfire: Definetly preferred.

Monitor Resolution: Currently 1280 x 1024 but I sometimes prefer to decrease it.
Additional Comments: I don't care about looks or noise, I just want the most bang for my buck.


I was recently looking into just how much a decent pc would cost by loading one pre built on ibuypower and customized it how I wanted. I came out to spending 1150$ which I'm sure is overpriced as hell for this list of parts:

CPU : AMD FX-4100 CPU (4x 3.60 GHz/4MB L2 Cache)
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
120$
Motherboard : GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 AMD 900 Series Motherboard and AMD FX-8120 3.10 GHz Eight Core AM3+ Unlocked CPU Bundle
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
360$
Memory : 2x Corsair CMZ4GX3M1A1600C9 Vengeance Desktop Memory Module - 4GB, PC3-12800, DDR3-1600MHz, 240-pin DIMM, 1.5V, CL9, Non-ECC, Unbuffered (So only 8 GB of RAM)
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
52$
Power Supply : Couldn't find the one they had listed vaguely as "1000 Watt - Extreme Gaming Series". So I picked a decent looking one on tiger direct.
Cooler Master RS-A00-80GAD3-US Silent Pro Gold 1000W Power Supply - ATX, Modular, 1000 Watt, SLI, CrossFire X, 80 Plus Gold Certified, 135mm Ultra Silent Fan
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
170$
Processor Cooling(This was an option that I'm iffy about for building on my own since I've never built a pc with liquid cooling) : Another vague one on their site I couldn't identify so I picked this cheap one that looked like it on tigerdirect.
Corsair CW-9060001-WW Hydro H40 CPU Liquid Cooler - Socket LGA775, LGA1155, LGA1156, LGA1366, AM2, AM3, FM1
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
60$
SSD(I plan on using just a SSD since I don't need much space and whatever I need can be stored online or on external/cheap gimmick HDD's) : Again another vague part I've never seen called 120 GB ADATA S510 SSD so I picked out the cheapest 120 GB SSD drive with SATA III and 6 gb/s
OCZ SLD3-25SAT3-120G Solid 3 Series Solid State Drive - 120GB, 2.5", SATA III, 6Gbps
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
155$
GPU : AMD Radeon HD 6950 - 2GB-Single Card thats what was listed so I found the most reasonably price one on tigerdirect
MSI R6950 Twin Frozr II/OC Radeon HD 6950 Video Card - 2GB, GDDR5, PCI-Express 2.1 (x16), Dual DVI, HDMI, 2x Mini Display Port, DirectX 11, Dual-Slot, Overclocked
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
270$
Case : The case was another generic brand they probably made so I picked this one out
Aerocool VS-9 Mid-Tower Case - ATX, PCI, Front USB and Audio, 1x 120mm Fan, 3x 120mm Fans Slots, 3x 120mm or 140mm Fans Slots, Black
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
50$
Optical Drive : Looked pretty random to me too so I picked a dual layered DVD burner out, I have no need for blu ray.
LG GH22NP21R 22x Internal DVD Burner - DVD±R 22x, DVD-R Dual Layer 12x, DVD-RW 6x, DVD-RAM 12x, DVD+R Dual Layer 16x, DVD+RW 8x, CD-R 48x, CD-RW 32x, PATA
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
30$
OS : Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64BIT Operating System Software - OEM DVD, English
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...
80$

Total : 1347$

I take into consideration with most of these items that were listed on the site I would have got 180$ worth of free games and 3 year warranty as well as some speakers and a mouse/keyboard essentially free with it. The deal on the site wouldn't be so bad but I have to take into account the slight upgrade I did on the videocard from what was listed on the site. Either way I thought that was a decent setup to start off of.

I'm looking for advice most of all on the CPU/GPU, I've heard so many mixed reviews on which to get (AMD/nvidia) AMD seems to have the best bang for the buck though. I figured I'd go with a single powerful card like the 6950 since I can just crossfire it later on when I need a performance upgrade, especially considering I can use the 6950 and upgrade it to crossfire with a 6970 or 6990 later one since crossfire works with the same series (I assume SLI doesn't which is a con to nvidia GPU's afaik). I was also considering going nvidia and getting 2 decent cards like the 550 ti's SLI'd and maybe upgrading to a 3 way SLI compatible motherboard to leave room for improvement. Back to the processors though, I don't know whether to just go for an AMD 3.6 ghz quad core or go for a ix processor.

I basically need advice whether it be completely changing the motherboard and cpu/gpu's or however to save money and improve performance while remaining in a reasonable price range. Oh and I could use some tips about whether or not a basic processor cooling system is hard at all to implement.

More about : 1000 1300 build

December 23, 2011 6:55:33 AM

1000w PSU too much for your build, you can save here by picking 750-800w.
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December 23, 2011 7:01:04 AM

I only picked the 1000w in consideration for potential upgrades to sli/crossfire demanding more power in a year or two, I'm not too dismayed by my money spent on that.
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December 23, 2011 8:05:33 AM

850w is enough for a crossfire 6950 + i5-2500k + overclock.
I'm just trying to say that you do not need 1000w.
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December 23, 2011 9:52:38 AM

650W can run two 6950 without an overclock and even in a build where you need 1kW you want to get a quality 1kW unit. The Corsair HX750 is an excellent unit with plenty of power for two 6950's. I'm not an expert in crossfire, but I don't see many people putting two different cards in crossfire. Two 6950's with different brands is fine, but I've never 6950 and a 6970. Also, they're not going to keep making 6990's so they'll be hard to find soon.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you're going to put $480 into a CPU and motherboard (which you shouldn't do), you can do MUCH better than bulldozer. For your budget there's really no better choice than an i5-2500K (as long as you're overclocking). The ASRock Z68 Extreme7 has everything you could want in a gaming motherboard including x16/x16 SLI. However, a more appropriate motherboard for a gaming build on this budget would be either the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 or the GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3 - both of which offer x8/x8 SLI (which is just as good as x16/x16 for two 6950's). I lean toward the Extreme3 but it only has a two year warranty (as opposed to the GA-Z68XP-UD3 which has three) which pushes some toward the more expensive Gigabyte.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Don't buy two separate sticks of 4GB RAM - instead buy one 2x4GB kit. It will be a little cheaper and perform a little better. Also if you get the Corsair Vengeance (which are good kits) then make sure you get the low profile version so they don't interfere with CPU coolers.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I recommend the Crucial M4 64GB over the OCZ you linked. It's more reliable and considerably cheaper ($110).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I wouldn't spend money on the liquid cooling unless you're going for a very high overclock. At moderate overclocks air coolers perform just as well for half the price.
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Best solution

December 23, 2011 10:07:49 AM

Here's what I would do for $1172. The choice of case is up to you - I picked my favorite $70. I added an HDD because 64GB is not enough for your entire system. Also I picked a 6950 1GB card because it's cheaper and they perform the same as the 2GB cards. The only value of the 2GB 6950's is if you can flash them to a 6970.

($220) i5-2500K: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($125) ASRock Z68 Extreme3: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($240) Gigabyte 1GB HD6950: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($42) Corsair Vengeance 2x4GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($150) Corsair HX750: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($110) Crucial M4 64GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($80) Hitachi 500GB 7200RPM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($35) CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($70) Antec Three Hundred: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($20) Whatever DVD drive you want
($80) Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Adding a second 6950 to that build would put you at $1412 but you can definitely cut a few corners to add that second 6950 under your budget. You can get rid of the SSD if you want. You'll lose overall system performance, but an SSD doesn't do anything for your gaming performance. You can find a cheaper case - I like the NZXT Gamma for $35.
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December 23, 2011 10:15:15 AM

Oh, I forgot to mention the most important thing I wanted to say. If you're gaming at 1280x1024 then any card will do - that's a really really low resolution. I would definitely spend $150 on a 22" monitor that supports 1920x1080 before you buy that second 6950. 1280x1024 won't see any difference at all between one and two 6950's.
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December 23, 2011 4:38:54 PM

Well I'll definetly change my motherboard over to that ASRock Z68, and my cpu I suppose to an i5. The only thing I'd worry about is having to learn how to overclock the cpu (I've been running on a 10 year old rig thats only had minor upgrade to the graphics cards over the years, I still have an AMD Athlon 64 processor. So needless to say I've never had any firsthand experience overclocking a cpu).

I can't help but have noticed both of you linked a 64 GB SSD drive rather than the 120 one I posted, is there a specific reason for this that I'm missing?

I read on wikipedia(on the crossfireX page) that one of the advantages of crossfire compared to SLI was the ability to put two different cards in so long as they're in the same hundred series. I personally don't know the difference between a 1gb and 2gb card so I just picked the latter to prevent regretting it later. I'm guessing noone objects to my choice of an AMD radeon graphics card over nvidia or neglect to use my budget to get two less powerful cards crossfired to surpass the one?

Only other thing I question is the power supply. The main thing that worries me about that HX750 is that it says crossfire/sli ready rather than compatible. I'm not sure if its different for power supplies but what I've noticed on other parts is some say SLI/Crossfire ready while other say compatible meaning if you get the ready ones theres more steps you need to take to actually make them compatible..... Also you said a 650w would work for crossfired 6950's but what if I wanted to overclock them, is a 750 like that HX750 fine?
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December 23, 2011 5:17:35 PM

I must have misread your original post - for some reason I thought you had linked a 60GB drive. I definitely recommend getting a 120GB or 128GB boot drive if it's in your budget. I consider the Crucial M4 128GB to be a better drive than the OCZ Solid 3 120GB but $155 is pretty tempting. It's up to you.

An i5 without an overclock is still going to be an excellent performer. If you're not going to overclock then you should get the 2400 but if you want to leave yourself the option to overclock in the future then get the 2500K. It's up to you which you'd like to buy. I have a 2500K without an overclock but when it gets older and has trouble keeping up I'll overclock it. I have literally no idea how to do it, but everyone says that it's really as easy as changing a couple settings in the bios and I've seen tutorials that make it look incredibly easy. So to summarize, you shouldn't feel like you need to overclock but you also shouldn't be intimidated by overlocking, either.

The only reason there's a 2GB 6950 is because the 6970 uses 2GB and they just used the board from the 6970 to make the 6950. However 1GB is a better fit for a 6950 and the 2GB model actually performs a little worse sometimes. The 2GB model is more money and there isn't really an advantage to it (except in some very isolated situations).

I read the wiki article about crossfire and apparently you can use any 69xx cards together, which I didn't know until just now. So you could match it with a 6950, 6970, and theoretically a 6990. However, even if you can find a 6990 in a year (they're going to stop making them) I doubt it will ever happen that your 6950 along with a 6990 is going to be the best solution from an economic standpoint.

With power supplies if you have the connections and the power then you're good to go. I don't really know the difference between "compatible" and "ready" but I do know that the HX750 will give you the power you need for a 6950 and a 6970 (two 6950's would use less power). I'll explain all the math so it doesn't sound like I'm blowing smoke.

An HD6950 (without an overclock) requires two 6-pin connectors with 75W each. An HD6970 (without an overclock) requires a 6-pin connector with 75W and an 8-pin connector with 150W. These wattages are conservative and all of that power comes from the PSU's +12V rail. Additionally your processor uses about 100W on the +12V rail. Graphics cards and the CPU comprise almost all of the power from the +12V rail and (watts)/(volts)=(amps) so your graphics and processor would use (75*3+150)/(12) amps or about 40A on the +12V rail. If you look at the HX750's label you see that it will supply 62A on the +12V rail which is plenty of power with headroom for a healthy overclock and all the case fans you can add. The HX650 supplies 52A on the +12V rail which should be enough for a moderate overclock. Both the HX650 and the HX750 have four 6+2pin PCIe connectors (which means they can be used as either 6 pin or 8 pin connections) which means that both PSU's have the proper connections for crossfire (some even high-wattage PSU's have the power but not the connections so that's always something you need to check).

So then why did I say the HX750 over the HX650? Just for a little extra cushion. You can go with the HX650 - especially if you crossfire two 6950's (as opposed to the 6950+6970).
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December 23, 2011 5:23:23 PM

Oh, and there are certain video encoding applications that prefer nvidia cards, but for gaming it's really just personal preference. An HD6950 is pretty close to a GTX560ti and an HD6970 is similar to a GTX570 for reference. Also, you shouldn't crossfire anything until you get a new monitor. I definitely recommend getting the 6950, then a new monitor, then another 6950 as you can afford them.

I think I got all of the questions. Let me know if I missed anything.
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December 23, 2011 5:46:03 PM

I wasn't gonna add anything. i just wanted to log in and say that this guy (danraies) provided the most thorough and rational answer I've ever written to a component request. Nicely done :D 
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December 23, 2011 5:46:43 PM

Alright that should solve most if not all my problems, I'll probably end up sticking with the cheaper 150$ OCZ SSD. The only thing that had me worried was when I selected the HX750 on some of these build your own pc sites it'd come up as requring a 950w psu when I crossfired two 6950's but maybe their basic template isn't perfect. I've actually got an older 22" monitor but I'm not too big of a fan of high res and this one can't get to 1920x1080.

I was looking at upgrading the asrock motherboard from an extreme3 gen3 to an extreme4 gen 3 model just for the sake of not having to worry about upgrading it for longer. I was just wondering if that would be better.

Aside from all that I guess I'll go for the 2500k i5 and 6950 card, feels kinda wierd using a different brand CPU and GPU though. I suppose that should give me more than enough power to run games like TOR on high settings. Now I just have to make sure I can put all these newer parts together. (Not going to bother with liquid cooling considering how much more trouble it seems like it would be)

Oh and a last minute question, the intel smart response technology that needs a SSD to add, in your opinion is it worth getting for a gaming desktop or is it just a wasted expenditure for my purposes?

Before I forget my manners, thanks for all the help you've been dan~
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December 23, 2011 5:47:20 PM

Best answer selected by Kazara.
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December 23, 2011 6:14:45 PM

There's nothing wrong with gaming at low resolutions but most people generally consider higher resolutions to look subjectively better.

Sometimes it's easy to overestimate the amount of power that a system is going to need - especially if you try to use overall wattages. There are several PSU's that claim to be 850W total but supply less power to the +12V rail than the HX750. I've seen a lot of overestimations, too.

The upgrade from the Extreme3 to the Extreme4 gets you some extra features but not much extra performance. That is the Extreme4 has a larger port cluster and a USB 3.0 header in the motherboard that the Extreme3 lacks, but in terms of performance they're the same.

There was a time when an AMD card and an Intel processor caused some headache but that's not the case any longer. They work together just as well as an AMD card + AMD chip or an nvidia card + Intel chip.

You don't really have a use for Intel smart response technology. It's designed to use an SSD to speed up an HDD, but for most people (including you), if you're going to buy an SSD you should just use it as your boot drive instead of using ISRT.

Also, you're welcome - I'm happy to help. And thanks subliminalaffect, I appreciate it.
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