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Gaming Build - ~$1000 - first timer

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February 2, 2012 6:56:23 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: March 9th - Im going to ATL for the ACC bball tourney on March 9th, so I will be hitting the microcenter while im there, not opposed to buying parts that are on sale before then though.

Budget Range: ~1000 after rebates because I still need to buy an os and monitor, but I wouldn't throw a build out just because its $100 over budget

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Coding (nothing intensive), School Work, Internet

Parts Not Required: Just building the core system, Ill worry about the rest later

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: microcenter, newegg, amazon

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: dont care

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Yes eventually

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Here is what I'm looking at so far... trying to figure out if I can get it under $1000, any suggestions

processor - i5-2500K - 180 microcenter
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
This one is the no brainer I think, seems to be the sweet spot of price vs performance, especially with the microcenter deal.

motherboard -Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 - $100 microcenter with processor bundle

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Choosing between the options at microcenter this is what I came up with, seems to be best available as it supports 8x/8x crossfire.

graphics - Sapphire radeon HD 7950 - $450 newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
My thought process here is that instead of going for a crossfire solution now, like two 6950s, I can get the 7950 and then when my performance starts sagging in a couple years get another one for cheaper. Not locked into going this route, opinions appreciated.

memory - G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $47 newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
see this one recommended alot, so thats how I came up with it. Im assuming it works with the gigabyte MB no problem.

SSD - OCZ Vertex 3 120GB - microcenter 159 after rebate
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Up in the air on this one... probably the option I want most, but seriously considering dropping to save some money for other areas. My idea right now is that I will go with just a SSD and I have a 1TB NAS, and then pick up a HDD later if I really need it. Never used a SSD before, but the idea of it makes me want one.

case - HAF912 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case - $45 microcenter
http://www.microcenter.com
/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0343331
Seen it recommended a few times, open to other options. Being a midtower is it too small to run crossfire?

CPU fan - ~30
I know nothing about heatsinks... help! :) 

powersupply - Cooler Master GX Series 750W ATX Power - $65 after rebate
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...
Clueless here as well.. What I would want is a PSU that will be able to handle crossfire 2 years down the road. I don't know if 750W is big enough, but seems like a good deal.

TOTAL: $1076 (anything I missed? anything I can cut down on?)


Do i need additional fans for my case? First timer, so any thoughts are appreciated.




February 2, 2012 7:14:30 PM

Get a better case. HAF 912 is just a crazy beast. You can find nicer looking case with the same cooling. ALso get Corsair Vengence Ram. They are better.

A good heat sink would be hyper 212 plus or evo. You can go for Corsair A70 which is on sale.

I hope you include the cost of Win7 unless you plan to pirate.
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February 2, 2012 8:07:19 PM

Quote:
graphics - Sapphire radeon HD 7950 - $450 newegg
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814102962
My thought process here is that instead of going for a crossfire solution now, like two 6950s, I can get the 7950 and then when my performance starts sagging in a couple years get another one for cheaper. Not locked into going this route, opinions appreciated.


You might want to consider a lesser option like the 6950 and Crossfiring it in a year or so. I mean the thing I try to tell people here is that you really want to balance your build out over the motherboard, CPU, PSU, case, etc. This will ensure a longer lifespan for your build and less upgrade headaches down the road.

Quote:

powersupply - Cooler Master GX Series 750W ATX Power - $65 after rebate
http://www.microcenter.com/single_ [...] id=0328087
Clueless here as well.. What I would want is a PSU that will be able to handle crossfire 2 years down the road. I don't know if 750W is big enough, but seems like a good deal.


That's an iffy choice. A better one would be something like this as it's only $20 and it's bronze certified: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Quote:

CPU fan - ~30
I know nothing about heatsinks... help! :) 


If you don't get the 2500K you can use the stock fan. I like the Hyper 212 because if mounted correctly it will move the hot air out of your system and keep the cool air circulating. My i3-2120 idles at 21'C and never gets above 30'C thanks to this fan.

Quote:

SSD - OCZ Vertex 3 120GB - microcenter 159 after rebate
http://www.microcenter.com/single_ [...] id=0360159
Up in the air on this one... probably the option I want most, but seriously considering dropping to save some money for other areas. My idea right now is that I will go with just a SSD and I have a 1TB NAS, and then pick up a HDD later if I really need it. Never used a SSD before, but the idea of it makes me want one.


OCZ is not a reliable SSD vender - there's far better choices on the market. You could also drop the SSD to a 64GB and if you drop the video card to the 6950 you'll have money to get a better board, the 2500K, and the second HD.

Quote:
Get a better case. HAF 912 is just a crazy beast. You can find nicer looking case with the same cooling. ALso get Corsair Vengence Ram. They are better.


I'll second this recommendation. The HAF 912 is one of the best cases you can get for the price. I have one and it's been really great so far.

Quote:
I hope you include the cost of Win7 unless you plan to pirate.


Don't pirate Windows. Even an OEM copy is still more legal than a pirated version which will get you in serious trouble.

Try something like this;

Case: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $59.99
PSU: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $99.99
Motherboard: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $149.99
CPU: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $189.99
Fan: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $36.99
RAM: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $44.99
SSD: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $99.99
HD: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $99.99
Optical: http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml... - $17.999
Video Card: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - $279.99

Total: $1.079.99
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February 2, 2012 8:10:12 PM

I hear a lot of mixed views about OEM. What is the truth of it?
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February 2, 2012 8:54:22 PM

Thanks for the responses so far guys, some comments/questions:

1. re: graphics card :: this is a tough one for me to decide on, what I want is to be able to do high/ultra settings now @ 1080p , and hopefully for a year or two down the road. My question is, is a single 6950 even capable of producing those resolutions on current games? My hope with the 7950 is that I could do high settings as soon as I got the system, and the the price will eventual drop for the card giving me a clear upgrade path. Though I do share the concerns of not balancing my system and blowing over 40% of my budget on the graphics card.
2. re: power supply. Going the route of crossfiring eventually, I don't want to have to buy a new power supply later. What is the wattage that is required? Seems like the linked 650W would be to small and would have to be replaced? Seems that the PSU I linked probably isn't a reputable brand, but do you think a 750W of another brand would be sufficient for either 2x7950 or 2x6950 .. or am I going to have to jump to 850W?
3. re: the OCZ vertex 3.. I picked this SSD for two reasons: 1. It was a tomshardware 2011 recommended buy & 2. it was on sale with the rebate .... do you guys disagree with the recommended buy and think I should look another way?
4. I like the look of the Hyper 212, thanks Ill be adding that.
5. Good feedback on the case, think I will go that direction. Dumb question, but do cases include the fans, or are they purchased seperate? (seperate I asssume)
6. I forgot an optical drive in my build.. good catch!

BTW, not pirating windows, I figure that as a sunk cost so I didn't need to include it in the build.
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February 2, 2012 9:44:22 PM

Quote:
I hear a lot of mixed views about OEM. What is the truth of it?


That all depends on who you ask, pretty much all I've ever used are the OEM versions from XP on - 7 Pro and I've never had any trouble with any of them.

Quote:
Thanks for the responses so far guys, some comments/questions:

1. re: graphics card :: this is a tough one for me to decide on, what I want is to be able to do high/ultra settings now @ 1080p , and hopefully for a year or two down the road. My question is, is a single 6950 even capable of producing those resolutions on current games? My hope with the 7950 is that I could do high settings as soon as I got the system, and the the price will eventual drop for the card giving me a clear upgrade path. Though I do share the concerns of not balancing my system and blowing over 40% of my budget on the graphics card.
2. re: power supply. Going the route of crossfiring eventually, I don't want to have to buy a new power supply later. What is the wattage that is required? Seems like the linked 650W would be to small and would have to be replaced? Seems that the PSU I linked probably isn't a reputable brand, but do you think a 750W of another brand would be sufficient for either 2x7950 or 2x6950 .. or am I going to have to jump to 850W?
3. re: the OCZ vertex 3.. I picked this SSD for two reasons: 1. It was a tomshardware 2011 recommended buy & 2. it was on sale with the rebate .... do you guys disagree with the recommended buy and think I should look another way?
4. I like the look of the Hyper 212, thanks Ill be adding that.
5. Good feedback on the case, think I will go that direction. Dumb question, but do cases include the fans, or are they purchased seperate? (seperate I asssume)
6. I forgot an optical drive in my build.. good catch!

BTW, not pirating windows, I figure that as a sunk cost so I didn't need to include it in the build.


1. The 6950 will handle high resolutions with no problems, the thing is the GPUs are the one part of the build that's constantly changing, and what's out - say a year or two from now will be far more powerful. CPUs have pretty much bottomed out and what SB-E and Bulldozer proved is that having +-.2GHz and a couple of extra cores isn't really going to alter the landscape much. It's the GPUs that make all the difference.

2. You can calculate your needed wattage here: http://support.asus.com/PowerSupplyCalculator/PSCalcula...

Then if you want to Crossfire add about 100 extra W, then if you want to overclock (which you can do with the 2500K and not the 2400) add another 50 W. So you're looking at a 750 minimum, 800 just to be on the safe side.

The thing with PSUs is you really need to be very careful in what you pick. Some PSUs are excellent, others will be disastrous. If you get one like the Cooler Master that you linked to - which isn't certified and rated - bad things can happen. On most builds I really try to emphasize energy efficiency more than higher wattage. There's a couple of really good reference articles that were posted on the main page about picking a good PSU, and what can go wrong if you pick a bad one. I'd suggest reading these:
1. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-protec...
2. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/power-supply-psu-re...
3. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/low-cost-psu-pc-pow...

3. OCZ has a really iffy reputation. The major websites like Tom's and Anandtech like them because they're blazing fast - but if you look at the reviews a little bit closer - that's not always the case. OCZ is also a brand that gets a lot of complaints about their customer service and support department, and getting a defective drive replaced through them is a huge ordeal.

The best SSDs you can get on the market right now are the Crucial M4, Samsung 830, Intel 510, Mushkin Chronos, and Plextor PX-B3. As far as capacities go you have to keep in mind that a typical Windows install takes 16GB and any game you plan to run takes anywhere from 8GB (Skyrim) to 25GB (BF3). Which is why I recommend getting a lower capacity drive for your boot and then storing your games and other data on a secondary.

4. I have a Hyper 212 and really like it, be sure to get the Evo, which is the newest variation of it.

5. The HAF 912 only includes 1 x 140mm front fan and one x 120mm rear exhaust fan to start with. But it has mounts on the top all the way up to 1 x 200mm fan (or 2 x 120mm fans for a closed liquid loop radiator) and 1 x 140mm side fan. You don't really need to add the extra fans to start with as the 912 is incredibly well ventilated for its' price but adding extra fans is really easy.

6. A lot of people forget those - they're the new floppy drive. I always include good ones in my build since I use my PC a lot to manage my rather sizable media collection. :lol: 
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February 3, 2012 12:36:34 PM

Best answer selected by joshdforbes.
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February 3, 2012 3:05:37 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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