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$1,000-$1,500 Gaming Desktop Build - Need Advice!

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December 25, 2011 7:57:07 AM

Hi there, I'm thinking of building a new gaming rig to replace my current gaming laptop. I'd like something that will last me for a while and is able to play the next-gen games (TERA, Diablo 3, GW2, and etc in 2012). I honestly don't know much about computer parts, let alone about processor stuff and graphic card stuff, as well what's good.

Approximate Purchase Date: Whenever I get enough information to get the parts and money, probably next year

Budget Range: $1,000-$1,500 CDN after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, surfing the net, photoshop, movies

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.ca, ncix.ca, canadacomputers.com

Country: Canada

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, Nivida graphic card, and an ASUS mobo

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: Anything is fine!

Additional Comments: I'm a newbie at these computer parts! With recent years I been only buying gaming laptops as I don't have the knowledge about computer components... I realize that the desktop is the way to go for gaming and for cooling purposes!

I'd like something with value and at the same time can handle them new games next year!

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CPU/Mobo

NCIX Bundle Deal Intel Core i7 2600K Quad Core Processor & Gigabyte P67A-UD4-B3 Motherboard

I was thinking this, since i7's are good? I'm not sure... I just want the best. I also read around that there are new processors that are coming out, should I wait or get what I can for now?

Thanks in advance!
a b 4 Gaming
December 25, 2011 1:07:03 PM

For gaming there is almost zero difference in almost every game between using an i5 and an i7 processor. You won't know the difference even if you have two machines running right next to each other to compare regardless of how sensitive you are.

I would definitely wait until later next year because yes new CPUs are coming out but so are new video cards too and that is most important from a gaming perspective.

Desktop machines are the way to go with gaming unless you are willing to spend 2, 3, 4 times (or more) what you would pay for a desktop system with much greater performance.
December 25, 2011 1:34:55 PM

I recently built my PC for around $1300-$1450. I can tell you this won't need an upgrade for atleast 3-4yrs. I've listed what I have and some other options you might use.

CPU i2500K- I7 is useless for gaming infact in some games hyperthreading causes 1-2 fps loss.
Cooler- Cm 212+ (buy a cheap 2nd fan)
Case- Cougar Evolution or CM 690 II or CM 932 or NZXT Phantom
Memory- Get the cheapest 8gb kit (4gb x2) that runs at 1600MHZ and has Cas latency of 9 or lower.
motherboard- Get asus p8p67 pro or EVO.....Asrock p67 Extreme 4..don't go the Z68s they have a premium...don't go for PCi Gen 3..its all pointless right now.
Video card- Get 2x 6970s for crossfire. These have 4gb of Vram and will let you max out all games when doing 1080P and even 2560X1600 on most. Focus your expenses on the GPU the most...a lot of people get the cool cases and cool motherboards...they add no value to gaming frames per second. You may prefer Nvidia too...however I have 1 big reservation about them right now...their GTX 570 is awesome but it lacks Vram...only has 1.3gb per card...so you can get 2x GTX 570s...however I doubt it will be awesome for all future games if you're like my and want to max out all settings....This doesn't mean its bad...just means that perhaps some Crysis 3 in the future might need a ton of vram so you may not be able to max everything out. This is a big IF..so its a solid choice nonetheless.

PSU- Get the cheapest 900-1000W PSU that has 3yr warranty and 80+amps on the 12v rail....The PSU pictures will display that....Please don't fall for the 80+ gold and all labeling...its total fraud...manufacturers can cherry pick a good PSU to get the sticker.
If you find yourself short on money...850W PSU with 70+amps on 12v rail will do just fine...I say 1000W because it gives you more flexibility for overclocking and stuff.

CD rom- Get the cheapest of whatever you want..bluray or just dvd writer. It all works the same.

hard disk- This has become a key component nowadays...you need to get Vertex 3 Max Iops 120gb or patriot Wildfire 120gb. These are the 2 best drives along with 1 from mushkin but thats too expensive...If you find yourself short on cash...Corsair Force GT 120gb or Kingston Hyper X 120gb is just a little below it. Please don't cut costs on SSDs...because they make the computer insanely fast...and even help games a little...like in Wow the stuff loads quickly when you join a server and stuff. You can add another traditional harddrive for storage...but all programs need to be on the SSD.

I think that covers it all. Now to get the most from your PC I suggest you overclock the CPU. This might seem risky and tough when you're new...I assure you with the new intels its not at all.

You need to change 3 settings in the bios...there are tons of guide on this. NCIX has that linus fellow who did some videos too. In bios...change CPU Vcore to 1.355v....change the CPU Turbo multiplier to 45...and change load line calibration to Ultra or Extreme or Level 4 or 5 (depending on motherboard). Your memory multipler should be on auto and the rest of the stuff should be on auto...Once you've done this...you will boot into windows. at 4.5GHZ..the cooler I've listed will never get you're PC over 70C...all ultra safe...IF you have issues then drop the turbo multiplier to 44 or 43 depending on what you feel safe with...these new 2500K from intel...90% of them hit 4.5ghz without issue. Do refer to videos online and stuff so you feel more confident doing this....its very easy even for a newbie.

Oh and if you want to wait..the new AMD 7000 series of video cards is due in JAn-Feb...it will give you much more value then 6900 series...So if you wait its better.

For the intel processor stuff..yea ivy bridge is due in Q2-Q3...but thats too far out..and for gaming you won't see much difference tbh so no need to wait for that. BUt if you can thats good...just keep in mind new CPUs will cost more than 2500k and new motherboards won't be as cheap as the p67 boards i listed. the prices of sandy bridge have come down over the past yr so take that into account if you wanna wait.
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a b 4 Gaming
December 25, 2011 2:04:06 PM

Intel said they were going to lower the prices of all sandy bridge CPUs (Intel started doing this with mobile CPUs this month but the desktop models haven't been lowered for this reason yet) so the new ones could be priced at the same points as the current ones. That means that the new Ivy bridge CPUs shouldn't be any more expensive than the models they replace.

The most important thing (as I see it) with Ivy bridge is the much lower power usage. That may allow more overclocking room for the consumer market and will definitely help with the enthusiast versions of Ivy bridge when they come out.

Anything you build today shouldn't need an upgrade for several years except maybe the video card(s). The CPU should be fine but it may need replacement sometime but any of Intels quad cores should be fine. The i7s are better for future proofing but in games today do not show a a considerable advantage over the much cheaper i5 series.
December 25, 2011 6:09:01 PM

Thanks for the replies, I was reading around the various topics about $1500-$2000 builds and i5's are the most popular and cheap as well. Are there any "cookie cutter" i5 builds that I can use? Is SLI/Crossfire really beneficial if I want the max performance for games? I'm just going to use only one monitor soo...

I'm not sure if the new Ivy Bridges are better than the old Sandy Bridges, but from what I'm reading they are almost the same?

Thanks in advance!

Edit - After a bit of more reading around the forums and following the above two posts and my own ideas here is what I have (after editing this like 2483247238 times!):

Case
NZXT Phantom 410 ATX Steel Computer Case 3X5.25 6X3.5 3XUSB3.0 Audio and Mic Input - Black

CPU
Intel Core i5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB

Mobo
ASUS P8P67 Evo REV3.0 P67 ATX LGA1155 DDR3 2PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 2PCI Sandy Bridge B3 Motherboard

Video Cards
2x XFX Radeon HD 6870 900MHZ 1GB 4.2GHZ GDDR5 2xDVI HDMI 2x Mini DisplayPort PCI-E Video Card
OR
1x XFX Radeon HD 6970 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E 2XDVI HDMI 2x Mini DisplayPort Video Card - One for now, another for Crossfire for later?
OR!
1x EVGA GeForce GTX 580 Fermi 772MHZ 1536MB GDDR5 2XDVI Mini-HDMI PCI-E Video Card - May be stretching a bit, extra $100 bucks?

Ram
G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Memory

Power supply
XFX 850W Core Edition Single Rail ATX 12V 70A 24PIN ATX Power Supply 80PLUS Bronze

HD
Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 500GB 3.5IN 16MB Cache SATA3 Internal Hard Disk Drive HDD

SSD
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB 2.5IN SATA3 6Gbps Sandforce SF-2281 Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD

DVD Drive
Samsung SH-S243D/BEBE 24X Black DVD Writer SATA OEM

Cooling
Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H60 High Performance CPU Cooler System LGA1155 LGA1366 LGA1156 AM2 AM3

The build in total is around $1,500 (+/- 20 bucks)! If there are cheaper but better alternatives do suggest!
a b 4 Gaming
December 25, 2011 11:58:54 PM

Performance wise Ivy isn't to much better than Sandy but Ivy uses much less power, possibly opening up more overclocking headroom.
December 26, 2011 12:16:47 AM

Thanks for the response! I think I'll stick with the Sandy Bridge processors in the meantime if the new processors isn't much of an upgrade. Anyone can critque or give suggestions on my revised build two posts up? Still can't make up my mind on the GPU!

Best solution

December 26, 2011 10:00:41 AM
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I must say NCIX is expensive...unless Canada has some hidden taxes for businesses. Those items can be bought for 70-80$ less in the US...especially if you have a microcenter nearby like me..then its 100-150$ cheaper. Doesn't NCIX do bundles where they give you 10-20 bucks off?

Either way you're build is solid. However you aren't maximizing gaming just yet. Go for a cheaper ram with the same specs...its all the same performance wise. You're hard disk...prices are very high right now..if you have an old one or can wait do that because 100 canadian dollars is too much...You're cooler..h60..people love it but its no better than CM 212+ and costs a lot more...the noise that it makes is high too when you want to get higher cooling. You're case is good but again you can cut corners there and go for something cheaper from coolermaster or Rosewill.

When you do all that..I'm sure you can afford 2x 6950s 2gb. These are a lot faster than a single GTX 580. You are running a single monitor so even 1.5gb is good today...but not in all games..for eg BF3 cannot be run at 60Fps with a GTX 580 if you do 1080P and all max settings...I think it hovers around 55 fps. Crossfire and SLI are needed for that. Now if you do want to keep the rest of the stuff as is..then amongst the choices you listed...2x 6870s will beat a GTX 580 (unless game favours Nvidia cards) and cost a lot less.

The 7000 series is very close as well...I think you can get a 7950 in your budget...its expected to be $450 retail and will surely be a little faster than GTX 580.
December 26, 2011 6:54:32 PM

Thanks for the responses!

The reason why I used NCIX is because everything was on one site, haha. I definitely will be buying from different sources, which ever is cheaper :) . If the 7000 series are coming out soon, then I definitely will wait for it, if it is close. I read a review on it here and it looks promising. If I do get the new 7950, would I need a new mobo or can keep the one that I listed? Can the mobo I picked support the new Ivy Bridges if I want to upgrade in the future?

Here's an updated build with the suggestions.

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.69 @ DirectCanada)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ NCIX)
Motherboard: Asus P8P67 EVO (REV 3.0) ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($194.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($33.49 @ NCIX)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.99 @ Buy.com Canada)
SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 Series – MAX IOPS Edition 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($199.99 @ NCIX)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($139.99 @ NCIX)
Video Card 2: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($139.99 @ NCIX)
Case: NZXT Phantom 410 White ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ NCIX)
Power Supply: XFX 850W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ NCIX)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-222AL/BSBS DVD/CD Writer ($18.99 @ Newegg Canada)

Total (before mail-in rebates): $1363.08
Mail-in Rebates: $-120.00
Total: $1243.08

It's alot cheaper than I saw when I am using NCIX instead of PCPartPicker with rebates it went down by alot! I definitely can upgrade to a 7950 since I'm under budget.

Thanks for the advice again!
December 27, 2011 11:16:00 AM

i saw this on newegg.ca and it is a good choice too...

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 - $150 (the best value z68 board

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
CORSAIR CAFA70 - $32 after rebate (comes with 2 fans)

after i revisit the ncix i couldn't find the kingston hyperx memory that you've listed with the price... so i searched from newegg.ca and found this one... while being expensive compared to kingston but still a good deal...

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...
G.SKILL Sniper Low Voltage Series 8GB - $48.5

mind you... on sandy bridge platform it is advised that you use memory that runs at 1.5v and below... check it before you buy it...

for ssd... since the ocz model that you've listed already costs $200 at ncix... there is one model that i recommended... i ain't too fancy about sandforce controller after its initial problems... this model is using marvell controller which has known for its reliability....

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1682...
Plextor PX-M2P Series PX-128M2P 2.5" 128GB - $195

on graphics cards... hd 6870 crossfire is a good choice for folks whose want to try some multi-gpu configuration without breaking the bank... but something to point out... the xfx 6870 cooler while give you better thermals... and since it is exhaust heat inside the case... once you add in second card for crossfire.... it will start creating alot of heat inside your pc... leading to neccessary of having lots of airflow inside your case to exhaust all the heats created inside... which isn't the case if you use a pair of cards which its cooler exhaust all its heat at the back of the case...
after some searching... i found a model with this type of cooler... while each is $30 more expensive than the xfx... but it is well worth the price should you really decide on going for 2 6870 in crossfire...

http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
HIS IceQ H687Q1G2M Radeon HD 6870 1GB - $170 after rebate
December 27, 2011 6:51:16 PM

Thanks for the reply. I think I'll go with this:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.69 @ DirectCanada)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ NCIX)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($129.99 @ Canada Computers)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Low Voltage Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($48.49 @ Newegg Canada)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.99 @ Buy.com Canada)
Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.69 @ DirectCanada)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($179.99 @ NCIX)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($179.99 @ NCIX)
Case: NZXT Phantom 410 White ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ NCIX)
Power Supply: Corsair 850W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($144.88 @ TigerDirect Canada)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-222AL/BSBS DVD/CD Writer ($18.99 @ Newegg Canada)

Total (before mail-in rebates): $1407.67
Mail-in Rebates: $-80.00
Total: $1327.67


Switched the PSU and decided to go with Corsair since it's more reliable and more room to overclock the CPU and GPU (if desired in the future). As well, went with a Crucial M4, again reliable and saw good reviews on it. I can grab an extra fan somewhere for the CPU cooler so that's a no brainer.

I'll be waiting for the new 7000 series of course, but I may stick with the crossfire setup if anything the 7000 series does not do good in the reviews in the times to come.

Nevertheless, thanks for the advice, will be sticking to this build and maybe changing it a bit when the time comes!
December 27, 2011 6:52:20 PM

Best answer selected by xshinsou.
December 27, 2011 11:29:53 PM

Nice build for sure...I do think that if you can get Vertex 3 max iops for $10 extra then you need to get that. Sure Crucial M4 is more reliable..but the Sandforce 2281 drives got the new firmware recently..all the BSOD issues are gone so every negative review no longer applies..my brother has had one for months and it is insanely fast....The m4 is good but why get something weaker for the same money.

Another thing...the Ram..people say 1.5v is required...there's nothing like it...1.65v ram works just fine..I have it running on my and my bros comp..and this is cheap patriot ram too. Everything works fine....lots of sites have confirmed it. No need to spend extra money on 1.5v ram...its 10-15$ but its all adds up.

The cooler is good..but if you can get corsair A70 for same price..go with that..it performs a lot better. Corsair has been giving rebates for it to build their reputation on air coolers..it certainly beats the CM 212+ and comes with 2 fans already.
!