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Please help with parts and budget - AU $3500 first time builder

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January 27, 2012 3:40:03 PM

Hi guys,


I want to start by saying this site is full of helpful and wonderful knowledgeable people. I am glad to have found Tom's Hardware. I go by the name JoeKR and I am a 21 yr old male residing in Australia. I have recently decided to build my first computer. Even as an extensive user, I am completely new to computer building and systems. Computing terminology, parts, etc. are new to me (about a week), so there is a lot going through my mind. Please help me in designing a high end build and give advice on any modifications you see fit.


There are A LOT of questions I need answered so please try and answer all of them.


I would like to state my goal is to build a computer that is adequately future proofed (please give estimate of when it may become obsolete) and run future released games on ultra settings without overheating. Overclocking is certainly a possibility, but not a definite, hence the appropriately selected parts.


Here is the stock info from "How to Ask for a New Build Advice" thread:


Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as Corsair website restocks their K90 keyboard. No response from them yet, regardless, I am guessing all the parts (with your feedback) will be bought and ready within 4 weeks time.

Budget Range: 3.5K is probably most appropriate to build a high end computer without going overboard. There is leeway to increase if I'm convinced I need it for my purposes. Please tell me if I'm going overboard.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Ultra settings gaming adequately future proofed, HD movies, extensive web surfing and general use. Most demanding tasks will pretty much be Diablo III and all future games played in between, e.g. Crysis 3, MW4, BF4, etc on ultra settings. Without gaming, I actually only need a core i3 laptop..

Parts Not Required: All required, as building from scratch.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Corsair (currently) - majority of parts from Corsair. Buying only CPU, motherboard & graphics card locally from MSY Computers as it is the cheapest I've found so far locally. Check out the hard to decipher parts list (at least for me).

Country: Australia

Parts Preferences: Intel processor, Nvidia graphics card, Corsair everything else (because Corsair has a good reputation and I have limited knowledge of computer brands), NZXT Phantom case (absolutely love this case, however read about problems installing parts like Corsair H100 Liquid CPU Cooler)

Overclocking: Yes if it doesn't cause complications and isn't too complicated to do

SLI or Crossfire: Unlikely due to tradeoff of price vs personal benefit

Monitor Resolution: Have no idea about monitor resolutions but would like the best. Pretty much the only part I haven't looked into yet.. I think. Considering getting three and putting them together. Not sure what that's called.

Additional Comments: Thats the stock sections filled out, here is the current parts list I've come up with on my own:




Parts List


Processor: Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E AU $669 - MSY Computers.
Is there a point in waiting for the cheaper (pretty much half the price) Intel Core i7-3820 for my purposes of ultra setting gaming? Claimed to be released Feb 13 but then who actually knows, could be delayed another month.

Motherboard: Asus Rampage IV Formula AU $399 - MSY Computers.
I want to get Asus Rampage IV Extreme, however its not included in MSY's parts list, so Ill have to research another shop.

RAM: Corsair Vengeance 16GB Quad Channel DDR3 Memory Kit (CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9R) US $199.99 - CORSAIR.
Is there a point in getting the Dominator version of Corsair's 16GB RAM? I'm not sure it will make a significant impact and the Vengeance series Memory Kit seems good enough.

Graphics Card: Have not looked into this much and graphics cards confuse me a lot, however currently sitting on Asus Matrix GTX 580 P/2DIS/1536MD5 AU $558 - MSY Computers.
Need help with graphics cards. How good is the GTX 580? If I get one of these, when will I need to upgrade to a better graphics card?

Hard Drive: Want SSD but turned away due to tradeoff of cost vs. benefit. Really not bothered by harddrive. Why do people get more than one hard drive? How many hard drives should I get and of how much memory? If you go with only reputable brands, does brand of standard SATA Harddrive make a difference in performance?

Power Supply: Corsair Professional Series Gold AX 1200 – 80 PLUS Gold Certified Fully-Modular Power Supply US $299.99 - CORSAIR.
Applied logical thinking albeit with my limited knowledge: Invest in a good power supply and don't have to worry about any future activities such as overclocking and parts upgrades. I feel like I'm really gonna get into computers in the coming years.

Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H100 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler US $119.99 - CORSAIR.
Do I need to get any other cooling apparatus if I choose to overclock in the future? Will this be enough with a well air ventilated positive air pressure geared case? Or do I need to go all out water cooled rig?

Case: NZXT Phantom Full Tower White Locally bought for around AU $200 not including optional extra fans. I absolutely love and want this case, however, I have heard problems with it installing various parts, such as NZXTs unique size of 140mm fans, and fitting in Corsair H100 Liquid Cooling. I will begrudgingly and disappointingly get the Corsair Obsidian 800D if NZXT Phantom cannot accommodate to all the needs of a high end gaming rig.

Monitor: I have no idea. Please recommend me most suitable size in high end. Brand preference is Samsung.

Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate AU $429 – MICROSOFT.
I want to have the best available Windows OS. I want things to run super smooth. And I want it to say ultimate when it loads up, not home or professional.. LOL

Keyboard: Corsair Vengeance K90 Performance MMO Mechanical Gaming Keyboard US $129.99 – CORSAIR.
Take a look at the linked review. It's what got me sold, not the pictures from the Corsair website.

Mouse: Corsair Vengeance M90 Performance MMO and RTS Laser Gaming Mouse US $79.99 - CORSAIR.

Speakers: Corsair Gaming Audio Series SP2500 High-Power 2.1 PC Speaker System US $249.99 - CORSAIR.
There are likely to be better and cheaper speakers out there, but haven't researched at all with speakers as I am content with Corsair's reputation.

Headset: Corsair Vengeance 1500 Dolby 7.1 USB Gaming Headset US $99.99 - CORSAIR.
Seems like it'll do the job, and will look quite nice with the keyboard and mouse - brushed aluminium, black and blue LED lighting theme going on.

DVD Burner: Ancillary part to me so haven't looked into it. Recommend reputable+best available within reasonable price range.


As you have noticed, I have a brand preference for Corsair, this is due to the company's reputation and I am shipping from overseas directly from Corsair so I am trying to minimise shipping costs by not ordering from all different retailers.

If I have missed a part I need, please let me know. Not sure if I need a networking card or if I've missed any parts?



THE 3.5K BUDGET


Doing the maths, not including hard drive(s), monitor, DVD burner, shipping from Corsair, and any parts I've missed and ancillary parts like extra fans etc., the total price of the current list comes to roughly $3434.93 (combined US and AU, but they're similar so doesn't bother me at all). Like I said, there is a leeway to go over 3.5k but I think it's enough to make a decent build.

As you can see, I've pretty much hit my budget already and I'm missing essential parts - I still have to include in the price of a hard drive(s), monitor and DVD burner. I know I can cut a huge amount by getting a cheaper keyboard, mouse and speakers, but I really want to get the ones from Corsair. Also I can get Windows 7 Home or Professional instead of Ultimate.

Please help me appropriate the budget with the parts list. If I want a moderately future proofed high end gaming computer, Is there no choice but to go just over the AU $4000 mark? And even in the gaming community, isn't it considered overboard to spend that much on a computer? I am trying to justify me spending over 3.5K on a computer, just to play games over the next 2/3 years at high settings. Otherwise, like i said, I actually only need a core i3 laptop. Big budget difference just for games. Convince me.


Conclusion


As I don't trust anyone else to build my computer for me (and I want to learn) here is probably the most important question: If I get all these parts, will I be able to build this computer with no help except from help online (building guides + videos) and info booklets from manufacturers? How complicated is the actual process and what extra tools do I need? I'm spending so much money on parts I don't want to botch it up, so I'm thinking of paying a pro to do it..


I know I have about 50 questions, but If you can kindly take some time to help me, I will appreciate your helpful input.
January 27, 2012 4:07:55 PM

Well unless you are gonna do SLI later on i would instead get a TX 850M from corsair, couldn't agree with you more on corsair. Cooler master is ok with their cases. The NZXT phantom. ha make sure you don't get a white one. Because unless u wanna wipe it down everyday it will end up like Spungebob bright yellow eventually so get one of the black colors. the Liquid cooler should work with your case. As for your video card yea the Matix will be ok. But if you are ordering within the next few months.....you sir should get kepler. the 600/700 series will be out. everything else you look set for a few years.

Woops forgot the monitor.
If you want to do 3D Surround which is NVIDIA's multiple monitor technology, your gonna want to get 3 of these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

of course not from newegg. but that could be the model you get.

Or just get one big screen, i know they get up to atleast 32 inch
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
thats is a decent deal, and LG is the brand i use
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January 27, 2012 5:08:39 PM

First, let me say that there are some things that are future-proof, and other things that are not.
Future-proofable items are your interface; Keyboard, mouse, monitor, case, power supply, speakers, sound card, etc. They will work, and work like they did from day 1 until the day that they break (generally by the abuse of the owner). Spend good money on these parts as they can last for several builds.
Non-Futureproof items are your processors; CPU, GPU, RAM, Mobo. Buy something that works well for your use, but understand that no amount of money is going to make it futureproof, and you will have to update every 3-5 years to keep the system up to date to run newer games and software. It is far better/cheaper to plan on updating these items every 3-5 years and get 'good enough' parts than it is to spend an arm and a leg for an extra 6 months of use.
simi-futureproof items are things that tend to die before they are 'obsolete'; hard drives, SSDs, optical drives, fans, etc. The connectors dont change often, and they tend to work great until they die, but they tend to die within 3-6 years with regular use. This is where getting things with a good warranty, or purchasing an extended warranty is sometimes helpful. Also, never trust these items! Hard drives die, so always have a backup plan for your important documents, or at least a RAID1 array so that if one drive dies you can still have your data available!

Video games do not take advantage of anything more than 4 physical CPU cores (and not hyperthreading), the only advantage of going with the SB-E processor and mobo is to have all of those glorious PCIe3 lanes to run 3-4 GPUs without bottleneck. If you are doing a single GPU there is no need to go with this setup and you would be just as well served with a 2500K with a good OC, and save some money to upgrade the CPU, mobo, and Ram in 3-5 years.

Tripple head gaming (using 3 monitors instead of 1) is very GPU intensive, and will work best with a SLi or Crossfire setup. This is especially true if you want to run 3 high res screens with max settings. I would suggest getting 2 'next gen' GPUs like the 7970, or the 680 when it comes out in a few months if this is something you really want to do. This would also be where going with the SB-E setup (like your current build) would be useful over a standard 2500K. But again, the price adds up quickly for 3 good quality screens and 2 high end GPUs ($550 USD each). You can do this with current gen hardware like the 6970 or 580, but with limited success as the hardware was not designed with this in mind like the new cards are.

For this price range there is no excuse to not have an SSD for the system drive. Hard drives are the bottleneck of any high end system, and SSDs really unleash the true potential of a computer for loading times. I would highly suggest getting a minimum 120GB SSD. Use the bulk of it for the OS and often used programs, and then set 40-60GB asside to use as a SSD cache for a large traditional hard drive. You are right in that SSDs are generally too expensive to use exclusively, and there is little advantage to use them for video and audio storage, but for program loading it is hard to describe the performance difference as it is just in a whole different league than a traditional HDD. good brands are Intel, Samsung, and Crucial. OCZ is also good, and are actuially faster than the 'good' brands for many uses, but their quality is questionable, so be ready to RMA if you get one. That said I have an OCZ and have had no problems with it (crosses fingers).

For your storage you will still want a traditional HDD. I would suggest going with a 5900RPM drive like the Samsung F4. They are still rather fast, but they are also very quiet, and don't eat much in the way of power. If you want performance from them then buy 2 in RAID 1 or 0. Using SSD caching can help a lot too, but only for files that you often access. 1-2TB is plenty of space for most people, going with more is good if you are a videophile or video editer, but wasted for most people.

DVD burner; get a cheap one, they are all pretty much in the same league unless you want a blue ray player, in which case you want one with bundled software.

Audio; If you are going to spend $250 on speakers I would highly suggest going with a more traditional home stereo approach. Especially in a world where people have gone mad replacing high end stereo equipment for crappy 5.1 and 7.1 systems and you can get such good quality and mint condition used equipment for $1-200. Just make sure that the reviever can do at least 96KHz optical (preferably better if you are a true audiophile and can tell the difference) and 80-100W per channel in stereo over 8ohms. If that is too much work for you I am sure that the speakers you picked will do quite nicely, but I just wanted to throw it out there that you can do better for less $ if you look around a little.

Win7 Ultimate is essentially the same thing as win7 Pro except that it was supposed to come with some neat software that never turned up. Save a few $ and get Win7 Pro OEM
($140USD), I guarantee you will never know the difference. If you do not need to add your computer to a domain you would have no problem sticking with win7 Home ($100USD). Gone are the days of XP where there is a huge difference between the flavors of Windows. It is just Home or Pro, and the only practical difference is the network options.

While a good power supply, this should be the last item purchased and picked. Once you are firm on the GPU/GPUs that you will be purchasing, then get the suggested Wattage, or make 50-100W more than suggested, for your setup. Going too high will up the power bill, and just make it more likely to take out parts if the PSU dies on you. An under-utilized PSU is put under stress which will shorten it's life, so pick one that fits your needs, and do not go nuts with it.

Ram, I have 16GB of Ram because I do video editing (and 16GB really isnt enough for me lol). But for gaming (granted I am not an extreme gamer, but I do enjoy playing) I have never seen my Ram use go above 4GB. I would purchase 8GB just to be safe (and because it is dirt cheap), but I am serious when I say that 4 is plenty of ram for gaming. Also, I would avoid the vengeance series as the high profile heat-sinks it uses can interfere with aftermarket coolers, go with XMS3 or gSkill sniper ram. Having too much Ram actually hurts performance in games, so seriously stick with 8GB in a 2x4GB configuration. You can always add more later if it bothers you. Also, for gaming there is no advantage of duel channel vs quad channel, so don't be too worried about using 2 sticks instead of 4.

Case, I am not a fan of the one you picked out for the looks, but it is otherwise a great case, so enjoy it.

You do not need a $400 mobo. That is simply a sickening waste of money for someone who thinks that SSDs are too expensive. The brand and series is good, but I would look in the $150-200 range for a SB mobo, or $250-300 range for a SB-E board (again, that is USD, not AU). Keep in mind that SB-E is the extreme end of technology, so even the 'cheap' $200 boards are of amazing quality.


Lastly, to answer your question; Yes, building your computer is quite easy these days, and has only gotten easier with time (no more silly jumper settings, yay!). For the most part things only fit one way, and if you have to force anything then you are doing something terribly wrong. Higher end equipment (like what you have picked out) tends to have very good documentation and instructions. There are only 2 exceptions to this. 1) if you get defective parts it can be difficult to troubbleshoot and make sure that you RMA the correct parts. 2) SSD setups can be a pain as there are a lot of optimization to make to get the most out of these beautiful drives. But so long as you disable write caching in the OS, and you set the mobo controller to AHCI mode, you cannot go too far wrong.

Good luck!
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January 27, 2012 5:37:36 PM

If I might make a suggestion:
Ivy Bridge will be coming in a few short months. These will be in a similar price range to today's SB products ($150-300 for CPU, and ~$150-200 for a more than decent mobo), but will have one particular advantage over today's hardware: PCIe3. This would let you run 2 extreme high-end GPUs without bottleneck for a fraction of the price of the SB-E series which would keep you in budget. Plus IB will have options like thunderbolt which is not currently available.
Also, the more I think about it, plan on a single high end GPU like the 7970 (out now), or 680 (coming out around the same time as Ivy Bridge), and get a PSU big enough to support 2 of them so that you can add a 2nd GPU down the line if you find that you need it.

You would have to wait a few months for it to come out, but if future-proofing is that much of a concern then it will be worth the wait while trimming off a few hundred dollars off the budget for similar performance (well, similar gaming performance, video editing and other production oriented software will run much faster on SB-E than IB, but games simply don't use the hardware so you are paying for features you will never use).
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