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Need Help Designing my First Gaming Rig ($1200-$1800)

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January 13, 2012 3:13:13 AM

Hi all. My entire life (I'm 20 currently) I have wanted to have a beast of a gaming rig, and I've just recently finally acquired a job that pays well enough to make dropping quite a bit of cash on a PC possible. I've never built my own computer and am quite unknowledgable about PC hardware. I have a few contacts locally that would be able to actually help me assemble the machine, but after spending the past couple of weeks puzzling over hardware on newegg I've realized I need expert advice to decide what to go with.

Approximate Purchase Date: ~ a month from now

Budget Range: $1200-$1800, though I could be persuaded to spend more if it looks worth it and diminishing returns aren't a factor

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, browsing the internet

Parts Not Required: will get mouse, keyboard, speakers separately

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: whatever's cheapest

Country: US

Parts Preferences: no brand preferences

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Yes - Would like to start with one GPU on the unit, and buy another down the line when I can't handle the newest games on max graphics
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200

Additional Comments: I'm wanting to build a computer that can run BF3 and SW:o R on max graphics, and will be able to run future games very well. I'd like to get high performance hardware without breaking the bank--that is, I don't want to go beyond the price line of diminishing returns, if that makes sense. I don't want to pay twice as much for top of the line if doubling the price only means a 10% gain in performance. Also wanting this computer to be high tech enough to justify upgrading down the line. Plan to eventually get a second GPU when this rig can't handle the newest games on high or max settings.

Here's what I've come to so far.

CPU - Intel i5 2500K. From what I've read the HT that the i7s offer is pretty much irrelevant to gaming.
Motherboard - ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 . I am going to be adding a second GPU in the future definitely. However, I am undecided about getting a mobo that would support a third one. With a computer in this range of power, will there really be any need to add a third GPU if I'm only gaming in the future? Or by the point that that would be helpful would I just be better off upgrading my entire computer?
Case- Corsair Graphite Series 600T CC600TM Mid-Tower Gaming Case. Is this big enough for adding a second and possibly third GPU, as well as for the various parts I've selected?
GPU- I've been leaning towards the GTX 570, from what I understand it has the most bang for the bucks. I am leaning towards this card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . However sosofm recommended this card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... which appears to have less memory on board, but has superclocked in the title. Can someone explain the difference to me, and which card is better for my rig? Also, are there any cards maybe $100-200 dollars higher in price that would be worth the extra money? I am not opposed to spending more money if the performance increases are worth it.
RAM - CORSAIR Vengeance 1600 8 Gb (2 x 4 Gb). How important is memory speed?
PSU - CORSAIR TX850M. Will 850W be enough for a second GPU, and to overclock?
Disc Drive - DVD-RW ASUS 24x
SSD - Crucial M4 128GB. Is the OS the only thing that needs to go on the SSD? Someone told me the performance gains for putting the games you were playing on the SSD was minimal, I don't know how accurate this is. If it's true then I may go with a smaller SSD to save cash.
HDD - Seagate 500 GB
HSF - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Evo. Is this enough cooling to OC my system? Or are there other fans I should buy as well that go in different parts of the case? I know it sounds like a stupid question but I've never built my own rig so I don't have the slightest bit of a concept of what all is necessary.
OS - Windows 7 Home Premium
Monitor - Going with a 23" screen I think. Any recommendations on brands? I'll probably buy it from newegg along with the rest of my components.



Thanks all. I've been dreaming about doing this since my Diablo 2 days, and am really excited to hear back from knowledgable folks and make some decisions on some of these parts :) 

EDIT: Thanks a ton sosofm, I like your recommendations quite a bit. Still have several questions around a lot of the parts though, and I would love second opinions wherever any part may be debatable. I really want to get the best computer for my money possible, something that is powerful enough to last several years as well as being upgradable. I also had a very noob question--are there any other components that I will need to build a complete computer?

Thanks again those who gave their opinion. I would love to hear from others, I want to be 100% decided on every component I pick.

More about : designing gaming rig 1200 1800

January 13, 2012 3:37:59 AM

Starting off...The 1280MB GTX 570 is the standard reference design. 1280MB of RAM is good for a lot of applications however larger resolutions and SLI configurations can consume more. Therefore EVGA created a special 2560 MB edition.

Secondly, yes RAM brands do matter as everything else does. GSKILL & Corsair are probably some of the better RAM brands. Actually Corsair everything is good. The consistency of quality across there whole product line is impressive.

If brands don't matter in one particular area it would probably be DVD drives. They seem pretty much the same. Lite-on, samsung, sony, ASUS they are all good.

The Hyper 212 Evo is awesome. Highly highly rated. Just realize how big the thing is.

Walmart might not be bad depending on the model but probably would not be my first choice. I would not hesitate to get a monitor online. Often times the shipping is little or nothing and sites like newegg and amazon can have some pretty good deals.
I highly recommend newegg. I don't think anyone can match there customer service.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 13, 2012 9:04:52 AM
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January 14, 2012 1:16:30 AM

Thanks sosofm and rwayne for your feedback, it helped tremendously. I just don't have anybody knowledgable about PC hardware in my life at the moment. I edited my first post to update the parts and add a few more questions. Still undecided in a few places, any more opinions will be appreciated greatly :D 
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a c 288 4 Gaming
January 14, 2012 2:00:49 AM

Quote:
Case- Corsair Graphite Series 600T CC600TM Mid-Tower Gaming Case. Is this big enough for adding a second and possibly third GPU, as well as for the various parts I've selected?


I have the Graphite - it's big enough that it will literally handle anything you throw at it - the biggest video cards, the biggest CPUs, the biggest heat sinks (it fits my Silver Arrow with room to spare), it has mounts for liquid cooling units... you name it. The only downside to the case is that it's huge, heavy, and not easily transportable.

Quote:
If brands don't matter in one particular area it would probably be DVD drives. They seem pretty much the same. Lite-on, samsung, sony, ASUS they are all good.


I've never had good luck with Asus drives - I like Lite-On and Plextor the best, but Plextor generally runs like twice of what the next closest competitor runs.

Quote:
The Hyper 212 Evo is awesome. Highly highly rated. Just realize how big the thing is.


Totally agree. I have the regular Hyper 212 and it's been a great cooler so far, one of the best I've ever used (and I have used a ton of fans).

Quote:
PSU - CORSAIR TX850M. Will 850W be enough for a second GPU, and to overclock?


850 will be plenty. What you have to keep in mind when buying a PSU is that for one thing you want at least an 80+ bronze certification and UL rating (if it doesn't have those - don't buy). Silver or gold would be better. But after that it's simple math - motherboard and CPU account for main usage, the GPUs (add double wattage for SLI), add any and all drives you want to run (both HD and optical), and add the number of fans you want to use.

Quote:
Secondly, yes RAM brands do matter as everything else does. GSKILL & Corsair are probably some of the better RAM brands. Actually Corsair everything is good. The consistency of quality across there whole product line is impressive.


I'll actually disagree with this one. I use a lot of Corsair products, and I recommend a lot of Corsair products. I have not heard good things about their SSD line (especially the Force 3) and I've had plenty of dead memory modules from them. I'll definitely agree that memory brand is important and that you shouldn't get the wrong memory. You can't go wrong with G.Skill, some Corsair (the Vengeance line is excellent, XMS not so much), Crucial, and PNY. Kingston is really good, and I've heard some good things about Geil and Mushkin as well. You want to avoid OCZ and some of the smaller memory brands.

Quote:
However sosofm recommended this card http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] x15gstd5vx which appears to have less memory on board, but has superclocked in the title. Can someone explain the difference to me, and which card is better for my rig? Also, are there any cards maybe $100-200 dollars higher in price that would be worth the extra money? I am not opposed to spending more money if the performance increases are worth it.


I'd easily second this recommendation. The only way you'd go higher in this area would be to get either a 580, or a Radeon 7970. I've heard of a few issues with the 7970 though, particularly micro-stuttering. You might want to wait until AMD gets those issues ironed out before buying one.

Quote:
RAM - CORSAIR Vengeance 1600 8 Gb (2 x 4 Gb). How important is memory speed?


It's technically not that important. The speeds are there mainly as a guideline for OC'ers - you never want to go over the factory set speeds. But at the same time when running default settings your motherboard will always use the lowest speeds and timings it can handle. The speeds and timings are there mainly as a guideline for manufacturers. When buying RAM you always want to check your motherboard manufacturer's QVL (qualified vendor list) to see what they've tested and what they haven't.

Quote:

SSD - Crucial M4 128GB. Is the OS the only thing that needs to go on the SSD? Someone told me the performance gains for putting the games you were playing on the SSD was minimal, I don't know how accurate this is. If it's true then I may go with a smaller SSD to save cash.


Going with a smaller SSD won't hurt, but at the same time you'll also need a good secondary storage solution. Having all your programs and everything else stored on your secondary won't hurt the performance at all. What will hurt the performance of your SSD is formatting it and running it over 80% capacity because an SSD will only have a certain number of read/write cycles over the course of the drive's lifespan.

Quote:

Motherboard - ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 . I am going to be adding a second GPU in the future definitely. However, I am undecided about getting a mobo that would support a third one. With a computer in this range of power, will there really be any need to add a third GPU if I'm only gaming in the future? Or by the point that that would be helpful would I just be better off upgrading my entire computer?


Really only like the highest of high end motherboards will run more than 3 graphics cards in PCI-e x 2.0 x 16 for the best performance you can get out of these cards. There probably won't be any need for a third GPU and depending on which one you go with, some are already a dual GPU in a single GPU unit (like the Radeon 7970, or the EVGA Geforce 560 2 WIN) so you could only run one, possibly two of those in a setup. If you run SLI most will only allow for a dual GPU setup, only a few rare instances and high-end setups will allow for a third.
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January 14, 2012 2:07:53 AM

i5 2500K + Patriot 8GB DDR3 1600 $241
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Asrock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 $122
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Raidmax 850w 80+ Gold $102 ($20 MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Diamond 7970 3GB $550
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Crucial M4 64GB $110
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Corsair 400R + Seagate 500GB $165 ($10 MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Asus DVD Drive $19
http://www.amazon.com/Asus-24xDVD%C2%B1RW-24x8x16x-48x3...
Cooler Master Hyper 212+ $27
http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Hyper-Sleeve-RR-B10...
Total: $1336 before rebates

You'll get a PSU that can handle CF 7970 (Mainly because the 7970's TDP is about the same as the 6970, only increased a little bit) The Motherboard can overclock pretty well, plus it has Gen3 so when you use an Ivy Bridge chip you'll have PCI 3.0 to use.
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January 14, 2012 3:34:22 AM

Thanks again for the new replies, I'll update my build in a bit when I do some more reading and make decisions. I am curious though about which of these cards would be preferable. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . The second card has more memory it seems, but the first one has overclocked in the title and was recommended by sosofm, thus my confusion. I am also considering the 7970, so any further info would be appreciated. I'll be reading around on the site about these cards in the meantime.

EDIT: Also, how should I decide between the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 mobo and the Asus P8Z68-V/GEN3 mobo? What are the pros and cons of each? Again, price is really not a huge object if spending more has a linear model of benefits :p 
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a c 288 4 Gaming
January 14, 2012 4:40:35 AM

Gurb said:
Thanks again for the new replies, I'll update my build in a bit when I do some more reading and make decisions. I am curious though about which of these cards would be preferable. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... or http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... . The second card has more memory it seems, but the first one has overclocked in the title and was recommended by sosofm, thus my confusion. I am also considering the 7970, so any further info would be appreciated. I'll be reading around on the site about these cards in the meantime.

EDIT: Also, how should I decide between the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 mobo and the Asus P8Z68-V/GEN3 mobo? What are the pros and cons of each? Again, price is really not a huge object if spending more has a linear model of benefits :p 



The main differences between those video cards are that one has a native HDMI and DP port, the other only has a mini-HDMI.

As for the motherboard, the Asrock is about as basic of a board as you can get. It has the minimum features you need and nothing else, really. The Asus is a more well-rounded board for the money.

Quote:

Raidmax 850w 80+ Gold $102 ($20 MIR)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] %20raidmax


Raidmax is a really horrible brand. I've never had a product of theirs that I have liked and where I work we've bought a lot of their cases, and they're very cheaply constructed and lack tons of features and have no airflow. I don't know how their PSUs hold up but if their cases are any indication I wouldn't trust them.

I'd recommend one of these - they're a bit more, but certainly better than Raidmax:

- 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...

All of these are 80+ silver or gold certified and highly rated.
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January 14, 2012 4:51:50 AM

The 7970 is better than both of the cards you had listed. Obviously since it's more money, but it's the best card out at the moment, and if you can fit it in your budget, I don't see why you wouldn't put it in your build.
http://www.guru3d.com/article/amd-radeon-hd-7970-review...
570 vs 7970
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/508?vs=518
580 vs 7970
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/508?vs=517

The Asrock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 is a solid board for how much it costs, the P8Z68-V/Gen-3 is a pretty good board for the price too. Both are solid boards for the cost.

The Raidmax IMO is a solid buy for the money, in all the reviews I've seen it's not a bad unit. Certainly not a FANTASTIC unit, but for the price it's a really good deal. In fact, it stands to the 80+ Gold Efficiency, though not perform spectacularly, it does the job, keeps the efficiency and not that bad. Though I do agree the older Raidmax units were terrible, I do believe these new Andyson/Raidmax units are better than the previous PSUs. If OP doesn't like Raidmax I guess a few of these options are nice too.

CM Silent Pro 850 (Modular):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Silverstone ST85F-P 850w (Modular): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
XFX Core Edition 850 (Non-Modular): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I think these would be better buys than the Corsair and Seasonic mentioned just because of price/performance, the PC Power & Cooling is nice, too bad it's not modular.
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a c 288 4 Gaming
January 14, 2012 5:10:53 AM

Quote:
I think these would be better buys than the Corsair and Seasonic mentioned just because of price/performance, the PC Power & Cooling is nice, too bad it's not modular.


Maybe it's just me but I've personally come to prefer non modular PSUs over the modular ones. I've had a couple of modular PSUs and the one I was running in my system before I swapped it for a Corsair TX750 failed on me left and right.
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January 14, 2012 6:06:36 AM

Oh, well I like modular, easy cable management. Using the Silent Pro 700w right now, perfectly fine, no hiccups and it has been 2 years so if it failed it should've failed. It stays true to the name to, it truely is silent, can't hear it at all.
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