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$1700 long-life gaming build - last-minute advice welcome

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January 6, 2012 6:25:40 PM

Goal: A powerful, fast, well air-cooled and reasonably future-proof machine.

I've built a couple machines before, but with over-the-shoulder help from IT guys. This time I'll do it alone.

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Timeframe: Monday or Tuesday? I'd like to pull the trigger on it now, but I'm also wondering how much the 7970 cards are going to be.

Budget: No particular budget, but I think I've hit a good price point... Basically I don't mind paying more for excess power without doing something ridiculous like getting a $1000 Gulftown or $700 6990.

Purpose: Gaming (some work too, but this'll be more than enough for work); mostly SWTOR and WoW, as well as some Skyrim, BF3, MW3, SC2, Diablo3.

Part not needed: Mass storage; I've already got a spare 1TB WD Caviar Black I'll use for main storage.

Country: The People's Republic of Chicago, USA.

Parts prefs: Intel/AMD Radeon... No particular reason but that it's what I've used in my previous builds. Never had a problem with them.

Overclocking: No, but if my skill level increases in a few years and I want to try ekeing out a few more cycles to extend its usefulness, the option would be nice.

Crossfire: Also not at first, but as an option for later to extend the life of the machine.

Display: I'll be using my 24" Dell at 1920x1200 (DVI)

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The Build:

Full Wishlist

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz**

Mobo: ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68

GPU: HIS IceQ Turbo H697QT2G2M Radeon HD 6970 2GB

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold AX850 (CMPSU-850AX) 850W

Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

Sys HD: Corsair Force Series GT CSSD-F180GBGT-BK 2.5" 180GB SATA III SSD

**After much back-and-forth and reading some advice here, I've decided on the i7 because I won't replace it with an Ivy Bridge and I don't mind paying the extra hundred for the built-in boost over the i5. I know it's not as cost effective, but I'll feel better knowing I got the best CPU I could for now.

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I mainly want to know what you think of the build, but if you have a minute, I also have a couple Questions:

Looking at the specs on the mobo: what's the difference between a "chassis fan connector" and "power fan connector"? Will I need to do anything special to power the 4 fans in the case as well as the CPU cooler?

Is there a good way to move my whole Win7 Pro 64 installation on my current machine onto the SSD, or do I have to cope with reinstalling everything? I suppose since I'll want most things on the storage drive and not the SSD, it's reinstalling for me, huh?

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Thanks for your input!

More about : 1700 long life gaming build minute advice

January 7, 2012 12:05:59 AM

Quote:
Looking at the specs on the mobo: what's the difference between a "chassis fan connector" and "power fan connector"? Will I need to do anything special to power the 4 fans in the case as well as the CPU cooler?


They're both the same connector. Most motherboards - even the top of the line models - will only have 2 or 3 plus the CPU fan. You may need to get a couple of Y splitter cables or PSU adapters.

Quote:
Is there a good way to move my whole Win7 Pro 64 installation on my current machine onto the SSD, or do I have to cope with reinstalling everything? I suppose since I'll want most things on the storage drive and not the SSD, it's reinstalling for me, huh?


No. You will need a clean install with new hardware, and it's mainly due to driver conflicts.

Quote:
Purpose: Gaming (some work too, but this'll be more than enough for work); mostly SWTOR and WoW, as well as some Skyrim, BF3, MW3, SC2, Diablo3.


If gaming is a high priority you don't need the 2600K or the full 16GB of RAM. You can get by with 8 and be perfectly acceptable, and then the 2500K is pretty much the defacto standard for gaming right now. Spend the difference on getting a better CPU cooler and a better GPU - the 6970 is great (but I prefer Sapphire to HIS but that's just me), but maybe go for a GTX 580 or use onboard video and wait and get the Radeon 7970 when it's available and that should be in just a week or two.

Quote:
Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO


The HAF 932 is a good choice but it's big and heavy and not easily transportable. Go with something slimmer like the Carbide 500R or the NZXT Phantom, and spend a bit more on the cooler and get something like the Noctua NH-U9B or EVGA M020.
January 9, 2012 1:49:32 PM

Thanks for the advice! Now that the pricing is up for the 7970 at NewEgg, I'll give it some more thought and make adjustments.

I appreciate the suggestions.
January 9, 2012 4:46:24 PM

The Hyper 212 is quite noisy, I would suggest the BeQuiet CPU coolers. The HAF 922 is just as good as the 932.

Don't get 16GB RAM, 8GB is more than enough.

Consider a 7970/7950?
January 9, 2012 4:47:53 PM

gooseta said:
The Hyper 212 is quite noisy, I would suggest the BeQuiet CPU coolers. The HAF 922 is just as good as the 932.

Don't get 16GB RAM, 8GB is more than enough.

Consider a 7970/7950?


I'm using a Hyper 212 and I've never noticed any noise. I don't think those coolers are available here - I've never seen them listed on Newegg.
January 9, 2012 5:17:47 PM

gooseta said:
Check out the Gaia, it performs WAY better and is cheaper + quieter

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I do not like that fan - I owned one and there's way too many loose parts and it comes with incredibly cheap thermal paste. When I installed it I got frequent CPU temperature read errors and my motherboard eventually died as a result.
January 9, 2012 5:33:13 PM

I decided since I'm not going to be overclocking, I'd get the 212 Evo because it appears easy to install... If I were OCing, I'd be more concerned about noise because I'd be more likely to drive the fan harder, but this one seems adequate for my skill level.

I seriously considered holding off for a 7970, but decided the $200 wasn't worth it to me. I switched to the Sapphire 6970, though (my current GPU is Sapphire and has been problem-free).

I also dropped to 8GB of memory.
January 9, 2012 5:39:00 PM

If you aren't going to overclock, why buy the K version CPU?
January 9, 2012 5:46:55 PM

Andre2807 said:
If you aren't going to overclock, why buy the K version CPU?


I agree with this - if you're not going to OC, go for the i5-2400.

Quote:
I decided since I'm not going to be overclocking, I'd get the 212 Evo because it appears easy to install... If I were OCing, I'd be more concerned about noise because I'd be more likely to drive the fan harder, but this one seems adequate for my skill level.


Not necessarily, your motherboard automatically determines the CPU fan speed, and there generally isn't a way to control it in the BIOS.

Quote:
I seriously considered holding off for a 7970, but decided the $200 wasn't worth it to me. I switched to the Sapphire 6970, though (my current GPU is Sapphire and has been problem-free).


Sapphire makes excellent cards, my 5800 has held up quite nicely over the last year that I've owned it.
January 9, 2012 7:20:26 PM

Well, as I mentioned in the OP - overclocking is something I can see getting into as my skill level increases. I'm taking a couple extra steps learning with the initial build (never used a modular PSU or a third party CPU cooler before) and will eventually explore OC'ing, and I'll probably get another 6970 when the prices drop and do my first Crossfire config.

So that's why I'm spending a bit more than I need to - it'll pay off eventually. :) 

Thanks for the advice!
January 9, 2012 9:06:56 PM

reitoei said:
Well, as I mentioned in the OP - overclocking is something I can see getting into as my skill level increases. I'm taking a couple extra steps learning with the initial build (never used a modular PSU or a third party CPU cooler before) and will eventually explore OC'ing, and I'll probably get another 6970 when the prices drop and do my first Crossfire config.

So that's why I'm spending a bit more than I need to - it'll pay off eventually. :) 

Thanks for the advice!


If you're a beginning OC'er you might want to take a look at this cooler - it's a few bucks more than the Evo but it performs about the same as a closed 120mm liquid loop like the H80 does. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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