Gaming PC Build Advice

(All Prices in AUD [Aussie Dollars])

I'm thinking of buying a new PC as my current one is struggling these days.

I was wondering what you thought of this build and the associated prices for a gaming PC.

I intend to assemble it myself and will not use overclocking or liquid cooling.

Intel Core i7 3930K $669 (no fan):

Gigabyte GA-X79-UD3 Motherboard $285:

Corsair Dominator CMP32GX3M4X1600C10 32GB (4x8GB) DDR3 $399:

Gigabyte Radeon HD7970 3GB $749:

Noctua NH-D14 SE2011 LGA2011 CPU Cooler $95:

CoolerMaster HAF X Case $209:

+$62 Shipping


The following i will salvage from my current PC:

Windows 7 Home Edition 64bit
Blu Ray/HDDVD Drive
Truepower Quattro 850W PSU


Total: $2468 AUD inc gst, P&H etc

Thanks in advanced,
27 answers Last reply
More about gaming build advice
  1. If you haven't had a chance, Tom's review of the Sandy Bridge-E lineup may be informative. The general consensus seems to be that SBE/x79 is worth the price for content creation, but may not be as price/performance competitive for gaming.

    Best of luck with your new build!
  2. Agreed. Get an i5 2500k or an i7 2600k, a sub-$200 Z68 board such as an AsRock Z68 Extreme4, only 8GB of ram (32 is waaaaaaay overkill), and you can get a second 7970 :D
  3. fb39ca4 said:
    Agreed. Get an i5 2500k or an i7 2600k, a sub-$200 Z68 board such as an AsRock Z68 Extreme4, only 8GB of ram (32 is waaaaaaay overkill), and you can get a second 7970 :D

    An i7-2600K on a Z68 board with two 7970's is absolutely the way to go here - I totally agree. 16GB of RAM is probably justifiable but either way 32GB is far too much. You might want to get a higher quality motherboard than the $200 ones, though. That's normally the highest I go, too, but if there is a card that can make use of x16/x16 crossfire over x8/x8 then it's the 7970 so I think I'd make sure to get one that supports x16/x16. The parts below should be around the same price as the original SB-E build. I'm not going to find links and everything because I have no idea where to shop for Australian shipping.

    ASRock Z68 Extreme7
    16GB RAM 1600mhz 1.5V CL9
    2x 7970
    HAF X

    If you're not overclocking then you don't need the Noctua fan. You should get an aftermarket cooler, but it doesn't have to be that big or expensive. Half that much money should do just fine.

    Now, a build at this price point should really consider an SSD. If you can throw a 256GB SSD on top of that then you will have built about the fastest machine possible today. If you can't afford it on top of the ~$2500 then you might even want to consider some downgrades to make room. I have an SSD on the computer I use now and I will never build a $1200+ machine again without one. If you're interested, I recommend the Crucial M4 and the Samsung 830.
  4. Thanks for the quick replies,

    CoolerMaster HAF X Case

    Intel Core i7 2600K

    ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 Motherboard

    Crucial M4 SSD 256GB

    Corsair Dominator GT CMT16GX3M4X2133C9 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3

    Arctic Cooling Freezer 13 Pro CPU Cooler

    So if i was looking at this setup, what would you recommend as a graphics card (or two), from this site:

    What do you think of that choice of RAM?

    And what is the value of an SSD, for example do i install my games on the SSD or just the OS? In which case i might cut back to a 128GB

    Will the HAF X case be to much for what i need it to do? For example would the Coolermaster Sniper Black be better?
  5. I think that the dominator RAM is overpriced and you DEFINITELY don't need 2133mhz RAM. In USD a 16GB (4x4GB) for sandy bridge should be under $100.

    An SSD is just much faster at everything than a standard HDD. To be clear it will not increase your FPS, but it's a huge overall system upgrade. Boot times are faster and applications load incredibly fast. You can skip an SSD and still be fine, though. You would want to install your OS, your most essential programs, and then whatever games you can fit on your SSD because those things will benefit the most from the extra speed. Mass storage of things like media, on the other hand, don't get the extra benefit. 128GB is fine (that's what I use) but keep in mind that if you install a lot of games you won't be able to fit them all on the SSD. That's not a big deal except that it requires some prior planning.

    What is your budget for the graphics card recommendation?

    Is any of the RAM listed in those links something you'd recommend?

    I'll knock back to a 128GB SSD.

    As for a Graphics card budget recommendation, i'd say try and keep it below 800 total (so for two cards below 400)
  7. Final cut, are all parts comaptible/reasonable?

    1X CoolerMaster HAF X Case

    1X Crucial M4 SSD 128GB

    2X ASUS GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II 1280MB
    $(778 total for both)

    1X ASRock Z68 Extreme7 Gen3 Motherboard

    1X Intel Core i5 2500K

    1X Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4X1600C9 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3

    1X Noctua NH-U12P SE2

    Already have:

    Windows 7
    Antec Quattro 850W PSU
    LG BR/HDDVD drive
    WD 1TB HDD
    600mb HDD

    $1987 AUD including postage/handling

    How many years do you reckon this beauty will last?

    Thanks everyone for the help!
  8. Your most recent list is really good. You picked the right RAM and two 570's is the most powerful graphics configuration under $800 - it will last you a really long time.

    Unrelatedly...where did you get a 600mb HDD and what do you do with it?
  9. I meant to say 600GB, my bad.
    Also, the case on that list is now the Thermaltake level 10 GT, because it looks beautiful.

    A friend of mine has suggested the following; what do you think?

    1) Intel Core i7 3930K ($669 MSY)
    2) MSI X79A-GD65 (8D) Motherboard with Thermaltake Frio Advanced CPU Cooler ($339 MWave) Note: I believe this is a limited offer by MSI and Thermaltake!!
    3) Kingston HyperX Memory KHX1600C9D3K2 8GB x 2 = 16GB ($110 MSY)
    4) SapphireHD 7970 ($729 MWave)
    5) Corsair CC600T-White ($208 MSY)
    6) Crucial M4 SSD 128GB ($229 MWave)
    7) Thermaltake Frio Advanced CPU Cooler (included with the motherboard)

    for the following reasons:

    Intel Core i7 3930K $669 (no fan):

    Good choice. Stick with it! FYI, I am running a i7-3930K and a HD 7970.

    For anyone who says it matters little in gaming, well they are right and yet also wrong.

    Look at the last graph, which shows i7-3960X vs i7-2600K in Skyrim performance.

    the i7-3960X pulls in 84 FPS (avg) vs i7-2600K of 70 FPS (avg).

    The i7-3930K is not that much behind the 3960X (at stock speed wise)

    They are right though in that a number of old and current games don't take much advantage of the extra capability of the SBE CPU. But you shouldn't constraint your purchase on what games are out on the market now. Look ahead instead.

    If that is still not convincing, let me just say the following:
    1) i7-3930K unofficially supports PCIe 3.0. So there is no need to wait for Ivy Bridge.

    2) If you go for a Sandy Bridge now, you will likely want to upgrade to the Ivy Bridge some point in the future. That is going to cost a bit of money. Ivy Bridge is expected to give a maximum of 20% gain. The i7-3930K is already 40% more powerful than the fastest Sandy Bridge. So with that in mind, it will still be more powerful than Ivy Bridge!

    Reference: See the CPU Benchmark link I have provided.

    Another note, Ivy Bridge is more geared for notebooks than desktops. For anyone who wants to argue, I ask you please check the new features, most of which focus on better mobility solutions, e.g. better built-in Intel GPU which is a waste if you are planning to run a dedicated GPU, lower power consumption – not going to make too much difference if you are going to use a high-end GPU, DDR3L (low voltage for mobile processors).

    3) The Z68 chipset that runs the 1055 socket and the motherboards will be superseded by a newer chipset around mid-year. Are you sure you want to spend over $2000 for a system where its core part will be superseded in under 6 months? Whereas the X79 will last a lot longer. Hopefully as long as the X58 chipset has lasted.

    In my opinion, for the amount of money you are willing to spend, I think you are better to get the newest CPU, chipset and a single graphics card. And when the HD 7970 price drops, get a second one and crossfire it.
  10. Your new list is good. Again, you don't need such an extreme cooler if you're overclocking. Also, two 570's will be more powerful than the 7970's but if you get a single 7970 then you can add a second later.

    Your friend is not wrong, but he's not looking at all the data. If you're benchmarking a lot of different games over various hardware configurations, Skyrim is going to be a bit of an outlier because games like Skyrim use a lot more of the CPU than some others. If you're playing first person shooters you will not see as big of a difference. I'm not saying that SB-E is not better than SB, I'm just saying that it's not worth the additional price. You generally get more gaming performance out of putting that money toward your graphics card - especially when you're looking at a 2500K/2600K.

    I don't agree that you're going to want to upgrade to ivy bridge as soon as it comes out. And even if that is true, a 2500K plus the ivy bridge upgrade is still going to be about what the SB-E costs now. Also, I haven't heard that SB-E supports PCIe 3.0 but even if that is true, I will conjecture that you are going to need a new CPU anyway by the time someone comes out with a card that can actually reach PCIe 3.0 bandwidth to avoid a CPU bottleneck.

    I also don't accept the premise that you'll want ivy bridge as soon as it comes out - mostly because they'll be geared toward mobile users and they only have a 20% gain over SB.

    A SB-E machine with a single 7970 is not a *bad* choice, I just think there are better ways to spend the money on this budget.
  11. Cheers for the reply,

    After what you've said I'm planning on sticking with the I5 2500k, and i'm just concerned that if my system gets old (3 or so years) i'll want something powerful protecting my CPU, hence the cooler? Although i could be wrong?

    As for the 570's vs the 7970:

    I feel a single GPU will last me into the future, and prevent problems associated with dual cards that i've experienced in the past and know can often occur.

    I trust AMD, using a pair of 4870's at the moment, although NVIDEA had a GO card in my old laptop that died after about 3 years.

    And SLI 570's i feel would be smart if i already had a 570. I think that if i get a single 7970 (as it is more or less as powerful as the SLI 570's minus the dual card asociated problems) then in the future it'll be a more viable long term option, and as you said, i could potentially get a second when the price drops.

    I'm trying to get some new components to dabble with the older ones to help stay the three year period before the next upgrade.

    Please advise if this isn't the case?
  12. What if, as a hypothetical, i went for 2x 7970's in crossfire and cut back across the board on the rest of the PC to maximise gaming performance?
  13. You will then be bottlenecked by the CPU.
  14. Hmm, ok, cheers.

    Now some are suggesting the single 7970 setup would be more future-proof in that it is designed as a single card yet is almost on par with the SLI...

    For my gaming needs, and as a person that will hypothetically not reopen his PC until i sell it, which should i go for?
  15. First of all, a pair of 570's will be more powerful than a 7970 (I think - haven't seen that benchmarked comparison yet), but there are SLI problems - one of which is that SLI doesn't always work in every game. A single 7970 is certainly not a bad choice by any means. I do agree with fire r a g e, though, that if you go with a weaker CPU to get a second 7970 then you'll probably see a bottleneck.

    Now, if you go with one card and you don't ever plan on adding a second one (which I get from "will not reopen his PC until I sell it"), then you can really cut back on your motherboard. Basically every motherboard will run one card at x16 mode but if you want two at x16 then you've got to go closer to $300. For one card I would say something like the ASUS P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3 ($200 US) or the Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD4 ($195 US) and you can go even lower than that if you want. Those boards still give you the option to SLI at x8/x8 if you want which isn't much of a downgrade from x16/x16.

    The benefit of a CPU cooler is lowering the temps of the CPU. However, there's a limit to how low you can get them with air cooling and I don't think the $95 noctua is going to get the temps any lower at stock clock speeds than a $40 cooler will. Now, if you ever want to overclock (which is SUPER easy with a SB chip that has an unlocked multiplier) then a quality CPU cooler will make a difference. It's up to you, really - there's nothing wrong with paying a little more for a little peace of mind. The EVO that you linked, however, is the cooler that I almost always recommend for your middle-of-the-road overclocker. If you're going for really high clocks (around 5ghz) then you would need something better but the EVO is great at moderate speeds (up to maybe 4.2ghz or something).

    I guess what I would say after talking about all this is to go with the following:
    ($235) i5-2500k
    (~$220) ASUS P8Z68-V Pro/Gen3
    ($110) 16GB of whatever RAM
    ($750) HD7970
    ($230) M4 128GB
    ($300) Level 10 GT
    ($40) CM EVO

    That's $1855. If you want to add a hundred more right now you should go with the 2600K. If you want to add a couple hundred more right now you can upgrade the SSD to 256GB (so you can store a lot more games). If you want to save up for that second 7970 then upgrade the motherboard to the ASRock Extreme7.
  16. Would the 2600k be able to handle a pair of 7970's in the future?
  17. Would you go with Saphire, HIS or gigabyte for the 7970?

    I'm thinking of going with the upper tier MOBO with the hope that a 2600K could handle a second 7970 in the distant future.

    That said, i found a site closer to me where i can pick up the components, saving money on shipping, so i could accomodate a 2600k as well if that would better handle a second GPU in the future?
  18. And someone suggested perhaps this MOBO, as it still does what i need it to at 100 dollars less, what am i missing out on if i go with this one?
  19. Here's what i'll probably order, Final thoughts?
    **Is the MOBO compatible with the other components as well as the 3.0 ports on the front of the case?

    Crucial M4 SSD 128GB $229"_SATA3_MLC_SSD_up_to_415MB_s_Read_&_175MB_s_Write_

    Intel Core i5 2500K $235

    Corsair Vengeance CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9 16GB (4x4GB) DDR3 $109.99

    Saphire Radeon HD7970 3GB $729

    CoolerMaster Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler $49.99

    Thermaltake Level 10 GT Case $295"_&_1x_3_5"_Dr

    ASUS P8Z68-V Pro Gen3 Motherboard $245*_Intel_LGA1155_Intel_Z68_Chipse

    Total: $1892 pick up + $40 Credit card surcharge.

    Already own:

    Windows 7
    truepower quattro 850w PSU
    1TB HDD
    600GB HDD
    Logitech G19
    Logitech G35
    Logitech G13
    Logitech G9
    BenQ 24" monitor.
    1TB External HDD
    2TB External HDD USB 3.0

    Once again, thank you everyone so much for your help, this is completely different to my initial pondering and far more suited to my needs.

    Cheers! Stay tuned for pics.
  20. A 2500K and a 2600K should both handle two 7970's just fine. It looks good - enjoy!
  21. ArtisanBlade said:
    And someone suggested perhaps this MOBO, as it still does what i need it to at 100 dollars less, what am i missing out on if i go with this one?

    Just curious, have you assembled your build yet and what is the opinion you have concluded on the on the Asus (P8Z68) mobo linked above?
  22. That board is said to be a great overclocker along with the Asus p8p67 pro

    If you don't need the cpu graphics option on the z68, the p8p67 pro should be cheaper and have about the same performance. I have the P8p67 ws revolution (similar to the p8p67 pro) and am very happy with it. Great at OCing.
  23. Actually, 2 570s are the same performance of one 7970, but the 7970 is better to get cuz it will be ~$100 cheaper. 2 580s beat 1 7970 though.
  24. vollman1 said:
    That board is said to be a great overclocker along with the Asus p8p67 pro

    If you don't need the cpu graphics option on the z68, the p8p67 pro should be cheaper and have about the same performance. I have the P8p67 ws revolution (similar to the p8p67 pro) and am very happy with it. Great at OCing.

    What do you think of the Asrock Z68 Extreme4 Gen 3? It seems, to me, that there are a lot of Asrock fans here. I too will get 2 HD 7970, but the second in 4-6 months. What do you think of that?
  25. Asrock has 8+4 power phases and the p8z68 has 12+4

    More phases = better ocing in general
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