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First time gaming rig advice. [Updated]

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January 8, 2012 8:41:22 PM

[Updated to reflect developments.]

Approximate Purchase Date: A.S.A.P.
Budget Range: ~$2000-$2,200 after rebates.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming and home media, graphic design, constant multitasking, a bit of video editing (if possible). Hoping to use 42" 1080p LCDTV for display during gaming/video playback.
Parts Not Required: General peripherals (keyboard, mouse, display, etc).
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, Tom's Hardware(?).
Country: U.S.
Parts Preferences: Quad-core(+) Intel CPU, SLI-ready GPU, full tower case, reasonably quick storage drives/SSD primary, plenty of USB ports.
Overclocking: Yes, but not right off the bat.
SLI or Crossfire: SLI CrossFire eventually.
Additional Comments: Windows 7 Ultimate.

The ability to play 2011/2012 games with high visuals and performance is a must, as is handling many processes at once for graphic design purposes. I'll need good storage speeds for large file transfers. Overclocking and a second GPU for CF will come at a later date. This build will also serve as a practical lab for various certs/B.Sc IT courses.

Tower: Thermaltake Level 10 GT Super Gaming Modular Tower Computer Case VN10001W2N (Black)

Mobo: ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core

GPU: XFX FX-797A-TNFC Radeon HD 7970 (Eventually two for CrossFire)

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

PSU: Antec CP-1000

Fans and Heatsinks: Noctua NH-D14

Storage:
Primary/OS Intel 510 Series (Elm Crest) SSDSC2MH120A2K5 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC

Secondary Intel X25-M SSDSA2MH080G2K5 2.5" 80GB SATA II MLC

Internal Backup/General Storage Western Digital 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 3.0 (Already owned.)

Essentials Backup Western Digital My Book Essential 500 GB USB 2.0 3.5-inch External (Already owned.)

I'd very much appreciate it if anyone could point out any glaring issues with compatibility, bottlenecking, cooling, efficient power, etc. As the build stands now the price is a tad over $1,800 at $2,050 with the majority of components coming from Newegg and before rebates. I'm not stuck on Newegg as a vendor.

Thank you in advance! Any help is appreciated.
a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 9:46:25 PM

Motherboards with a Z68 chip set can use intels quick sync encoding technology and also have graphics cards installed .

A 750 watt psu will be more than enough for SLI gtx 560 ti's
January 8, 2012 10:11:15 PM

you need to hit the drawing board again big time.

for 2 grand you only have 1 560ti? you spend 210 on the case but only 170 on the motherboard? you get 16 gb of ram? you buy a mid level brand with 300 watts too much? and finally you only get a 30 dollar cooler?

you should go back and build your rig around two 6970's which should run around 700-800 for the pair. those will actually max every game out there for the next couple years.
Related resources
January 8, 2012 10:15:26 PM

Outlander_04 said:
Motherboards with a Z68 chip set can use intels quick sync encoding technology and also have graphics cards installed .


So the ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3 would be better for transcoding/encoding and, if I'm not mistaken, this board also allows the use of either the dedicated GPU or onboard Sandy Bridge GPU depending on the task at hand with the Lucid Virtu feature. All for a minimal +$14 price difference. Unless there's something that I'm missing here that makes the P67 mobo outshine the ASRock Z68 or causes me to drastically alter the rest of this build, I'll be going with the Z68. It also appears to be better suited for future upgrades. If anyone has any reasons why I shouldn't go with the Z68, please let me know.

Outlander_04 said:
A 750 watt psu will be more than enough for SLI gtx 560 ti's


Any suggestions on a brand?

Thank you very much.
a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 10:26:12 PM

Thats absolutely correct about the Lucid Virtu drivers .
Z68 is an update of P67 that includes all the features intel didn't have time to complete when they first released P67 . Performance is the same

Many of the builders here like the Asrock board you mention. I havent used one but they are a good brand .

Corsair have a modular TX 750 for $109 on newegg . If you dont need modular then the regular TX 750 is $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 8, 2012 10:30:43 PM

Quote:
you need to hit the drawing board again big time.
for 2 grand you only have 1 560ti?

Actually, it's a couple bucks over $1,800 before rebates and with nearly $500 of SSD storage. But I see your point.
Quote:
you spend 210 on the case but only 170 on the motherboard?

The GA-P67A-UD4 is very well reviewed and fits my needs quite nicely (I thought), and the GT 10 case happened to be the only one I could find that I'd consider buying.
Quote:
you get 16 gb of ram?

Is there any particular reason why 16GB of RAM is a bad thing in 2012?
Quote:
you buy a mid level brand with 300 watts too much?

That's certainly no good. I've never had to put much thought into what PSU I'd need and frankly don't know much at all about the brands, so any help there would be nifty.
Quote:
and finally you only get a 30 dollar cooler?

The cooling is probably what I'm most stumped with. I've no idea what I'm doing there and from what I read on it, the fan I linked was supposed to be a good choice for my CPU. Any ideas?
Quote:
you should go back and build your rig around two 6970's which should run around 700-800 for the pair. those will actually max every game out there for the next couple years.

That's something I actually considered before I decided on SLI over Crossfire. Now I'm not so sure that I'd rather SLI.

You've been very helpful and given me quite a bit to think on. I was afraid I had the whole thing off from the get-go. Thank you.
January 8, 2012 10:37:56 PM

Outlander_04 said:
Thats absolutely correct about the Lucid Virtu drivers .
Z68 is an update of P67 that includes all the features intel didn't have time to complete when they first released P67 . Performance is the same

Many of the builders here like the Asrock board you mention. I havent used one but they are a good brand .

Corsair have a modular TX 750 for $109 on newegg . If you dont need modular then the regular TX 750 is $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I think the ASRock board would be perfect then. As for the TX 750, that's $111 cheaper than the one I linked. A hundred bucks that can be spent somewhere else. A better mobo as cbrunnem prescribed, or maybe save it up towards a second GPU for SLI/Crossfire. Something to ponder.

Thank you.
January 8, 2012 10:47:30 PM

MisterDelano said:
Quote:
you need to hit the drawing board again big time.
for 2 grand you only have 1 560ti?

Actually, it's a couple bucks over $1,800 before rebates and with nearly $500 of SSD storage. But I see your point.
Quote:
you spend 210 on the case but only 170 on the motherboard?

The GA-P67A-UD4 is very well reviewed and fits my needs quite nicely (I thought), and the GT 10 case happened to be the only one I could find that I'd consider buying.
Quote:
you get 16 gb of ram?

Is there any particular reason why 16GB of RAM is a bad thing in 2012?
Quote:
you buy a mid level brand with 300 watts too much?

That's certainly no good. I've never had to put much thought into what PSU I'd need and frankly don't know much at all about the brands, so any help there would be nifty.
Quote:
and finally you only get a 30 dollar cooler?

The cooling is probably what I'm most stumped with. I've no idea what I'm doing there and from what I read on it, the fan I linked was supposed to be a good choice for my CPU. Any ideas?
Quote:
you should go back and build your rig around two 6970's which should run around 700-800 for the pair. those will actually max every game out there for the next couple years.

That's something I actually considered before I decided on SLI over Crossfire. Now I'm not so sure that I'd rather SLI.

You've been very helpful and given me quite a bit to think on. I was afraid I had the whole thing off from the get-go. Thank you.


the motherboard is fine that wasnt the point, my point was your spend a lot on a part that makes absolutely not performance difference. that money could be used for more gpu power.

again the extra ram isnt bad but the extra 8gb more then 8gb is not needed for gaming.

power supply wise youll need a 800 watt power supply if you dont go higher then sli'ed/cfx 570/6970's. try to stay with corsair,seasonic, antec, power supplies.

if your going to be doing any overclocking an after market cooler is basically required and your right that is a decent cooler but its a decent entry level cooler. if you want an overclock around 4.5 you will need a good cooler. with your budget id look into the noctua nh-d14 cooler. its about 85 dollars buts the best of the best air coolers and will be about 15 degrees cooler then the cooler master.
a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 10:59:17 PM

Yes, he's right. You should really not spend so much on parts that won't improve performance at all. The HAF 912/922 are good enough. The PSU should be about 900W and the SLI should be better than the 560 ti (fermi).

Since the 7970 AMD Graphics Card is out, I highly recommend you get that.
January 8, 2012 10:59:41 PM

cbrunnem said:
the motherboard is fine that wasnt the point, my point was your spend a lot on a part that makes absolutely not performance difference. that money could be used for more gpu power.

again the extra ram isnt bad but the extra 8gb more then 8gb is not needed for gaming.

power supply wise youll need a 800 watt power supply if you dont go higher then sli'ed/cfx 570/6970's. try to stay with corsair,seasonic, antec, power supplies.

if your going to be doing any overclocking an after market cooler is basically required and your right that is a decent cooler but its a decent entry level cooler. if you want an overclock around 4.5 you will need a good cooler. with your budget id look into the noctua nh-d14 cooler. its about 85 dollars buts the best of the best air coolers and will be about 15 degrees cooler then the cooler master.


You're right about the case. It's purely for aesthetic and size purposes. I wanted something that was roomy and looked good inside and out. I'm not one for the flashy LEDs and radically angled case designs, but I fell in love with that thing. Keep in mind that the build stands around $1,700 now with a $2,200 max; enough wriggle room for more GPU power there. Will update the original post to reflect changes.

The extra RAM is for video editing and "future proofing". If 8GB would be enough for vid edits, I can certainly hold off on the extra and just upgrade when needed.

How many watts would you suggest for SLI'd GTX 580's?

4.5 OC was exactly where I was aiming. Will definitely go with the Noctua you mentioned after checking it out. If I fried my first ever OC'd rig I'd never forgive myself lol.


a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 11:02:06 PM

Right now, the 7970 can be more powerful than the dual 580s, since not every game gets a performance boost in Crossfire/SLI.
January 8, 2012 11:02:28 PM

azeem40 said:
Yes, he's right. You should really not spend so much on parts that won't improve performance at all. The HAF 912/922 are good enough. The PSU should be about 900W and the SLI should be better than the 560 ti (fermi).

Since the 7970 AMD Graphics Card is out, I highly recommend you get that.


The HAF cases I've heard a lot about and I'm considering one. As long as it's huge. I'm just infatuated with the five removable storage drive bays on that overpriced case.
a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 11:18:19 PM

Unless you have a big heatsink and fan, you won't need to remove any drive bays. As for the 7970, it should allow BF3 to run on Ultra with no problems.
January 8, 2012 11:19:35 PM

Thermaltake Level 10 GT case.
ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 GEN3 mobo.
Intel Core i7-2600K CPU.
EVGA 015-P3-1580-AR GeForce GTX 580 (x2 at a later date).
Corsair 800 watt PSU?
Noctua NH-D14 cooler.
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 16GB.
Storage listed above.

That puts me at a better mobo, GPU, PSU and cooler for just under $2,000 with $200 to max out the budget. Can anyone suggest a PSU wattage for this with SLI GTX 580's?
a b 4 Gaming
January 8, 2012 11:21:55 PM

Like I said, the 7970 is out if you want to take a look at that. :) 
January 9, 2012 12:10:16 AM

azeem40 said:
Like I said, the 7970 is out if you want to take a look at that. :) 


This 7970 appears to be fully compatible with the above mentioned setup. I think I'll go with that, then.

Thank you!

Updated first post to reflect the changes made so far. I'm very happy with how it's turning out. How does it look?
January 9, 2012 1:45:53 PM

you cant buy one now. they are all out of stock, atleast on newegg they are. but i would seriously just wait for them to come back in stock its worth it.
a b 4 Gaming
January 9, 2012 4:56:20 PM

Yeah, just put the one you want on auto-notify.
January 9, 2012 5:01:02 PM

its on stock at amazon also your $200 is a bit overboard but if thats what you want for the looks then ok also get 7970 its on stock at amazon and for cooling the hyper evo 212 if your going to overclock
!