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Ivy Bridge build, need GPU help

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Last response: in Systems
March 22, 2012 1:51:18 AM

Long time reader, first time posting.

Approximate Purchase Date: May 1st (enough time to build it for the release of Diablo 3)

Budget Range: $2,500.00 USD, but complicated

System Usage: Diablo 3, Skyrim, Dragon Age 2

Preferred Website for Parts: Newegg

Country: USA

Overclocking: Yes (nothing crazy)

SLI or Crossfire: Yes (in the future)

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (3 displays in the future)

I have built one system previously, an old core2duo with an 8600 gts video card. Yes this system was built a long time ago. I have been waiting a long time to build a new system (1.5 years). I kept waiting for the next game I wanted to play to come out to justify spending money and I guess Diablo 3 is it. This game is not taxing by any means, however I want a system that can play any game I throw at it at maximum settings on a 3 monitor 1920x1080 setup. I received a promotion and now have the money and desire to build the new system. The stars seemed to align with both ivy bridge and new graphics cards coming out in april but I now am slightly doubting myself with nvidia not releasing GK110 till Q3.

Parts already purchased
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 850 OCZ power supply 80+gold fully modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 16 gb of Gskill sniper ram 2133
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 120 gb Sandisk SSD (boot/program drive)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 750 gb HD for storage

What I need help with:

I have been planning on waiting for Ivy bridge to buy if for no other reason than PCIE 3.0 is natively supported. I have been planning to buy the top of the line graphics card at the time of purchase but it seems like that card is now a mid-range card (if you can consider a $500 card mid-range). I have been considering options for a filler card to buy in May or possibly a justification for buying the gtx 680 or hd 7970 then and leaving it to cf/sli later. What card should I use for filler now or should I just go ahead and buy the best that is available now(I feel like they are overpriced for the minimal gains over other, less expensive options). If i choose a filler card it will be sold when I buy the GK110. Suggestions for the rest of the build are appreciated as well.

More about : ivy bridge build gpu

March 22, 2012 2:29:34 AM

For 3 displays, not even the new Nvidia GPUs will the beat 7970. Other than that, get reasonable RAM (8GB of 1600MHz) and spend the money on a bigger SSD. You will see zero difference with 16GB of 2133MHz RAM; but you will appreciate being able to put more than 3 games on your SSD at a time, and bigger SSDs are faster besides. The Crucial M4 256GB is awesome.
March 22, 2012 2:44:16 AM

Thanks for the reply, you may have missed the part where I said I have already purchased the parts with links. I bought each of those parts on shell shocker days for ridiculous deals and I don't really regret the money spent on them. I don't really see the need for a bigger SSD at the moment but if I do need one I will suck it up and buy one in the future.

I have been under the impression that NVIDIA saw the 7970 as puny compared to what they will release with the GK110, am I wrong? The real question I'm having now is about the video card that will be bought for the system on May 1st. As always critiquing my build is appreciated; I have a lot to learn.
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March 22, 2012 3:01:50 AM

jnbryan21 said:
Thanks for the reply, you may have missed the part where I said I have already purchased the parts with links. I bought each of those parts on shell shocker days for ridiculous deals and I don't really regret the money spent on them. I don't really see the need for a bigger SSD at the moment but if I do need one I will suck it up and buy one in the future.

I have been under the impression that NVIDIA saw the 7970 as puny compared to what they will release with the GK110, am I wrong? The real question I'm having now is about the video card that will be bought for the system on May 1st. As always critiquing my build is appreciated; I have a lot to learn.

Oh, sorry about that.

I'm sure the 680 will be faster than the 7970 at 1920x1080, but with multiple monitors the situation will flip because of the latter card's huge frame buffer. That's usually how it goes, anyway. But wait and see what happens, there might be price changes.
March 22, 2012 3:05:43 AM

jnbryan21 said:
Thanks for the reply, you may have missed the part where I said I have already purchased the parts with links. I bought each of those parts on shell shocker days for ridiculous deals and I don't really regret the money spent on them. I don't really see the need for a bigger SSD at the moment but if I do need one I will suck it up and buy one in the future.

I have been under the impression that NVIDIA saw the 7970 as puny compared to what they will release with the GK110, am I wrong? The real question I'm having now is about the video card that will be bought for the system on May 1st. As always critiquing my build is appreciated; I have a lot to learn.


Get a 6870 when AMD slashes their old cards and new cards when Keplar is released. You said you don't have 3 monitors YET, and intended on a filler card. A 6870 can run MAX settings for 1080p gaming, especially for the 3 games you listed. Buy your nVidia GK110-based card in Q3/Q4 when it is available and you upgrade to a triple-monitor setup. You'll save a shovel-load of money in the process. I definitely agree another SSD would be in order. I'm running a 120GB as my main drive, but I can't stuff many things on it. I've chosen to keep most large-compressed-single-file games (like anything Blizzard makes for instance, see MPQ file format) on normal spindles instead, since they have nominal gains in performance during play. However, a 256GB would have allowed me to benefit from fast level load and game load.

Other parts to consider would be keyboard (recommend wired, perhaps Logitech gaming keyboard), mouse (recommend laser, preferrably wireless and rechargable), case makes a difference (mine's in a AZZA Hurrican 2000, but a HAF case would be nice too), blu-ray drive if you're a movie buff. Do your research on a CPU heatsink. Noctura makes some nice ones. Mine's using the no-longer-available Scythe Mugen 2 RevB (can overclock nicely, short of water cooling, but without the headache). Be sure to get a motherboard with all your desired connectivity. Pay attention to PCIe x16 spacing, you would be best having 3 slots with a space in between.
March 22, 2012 3:29:06 AM

I hate quoting quotes of quotes so I decided not to do so.

To Ammaross, thanks for the information about the SSD, to be honest they are new to me and I bought one based off of tom's suggestion that they are the best money you can spend on a computer to speed up every day life. I will probably only put games that are single player like skyrim and DA 2 on the ssd. Online games don't seem to give that give that much of a gain.

I'm in love with the silverstone fortress ft02b-w: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If there is another case that is cheaper with minimalistic features I would be interested considering the cost of the ft02 never seems to go down. Not sure why I love this case so much.

Color scheme for the build will be red and black and I am waiting on the ivy bridge motherboards to see which one will give the spacing i need for proper breathing on my video cards when i cf/sli. Cooler will probably fit the builds color scheme since current chips are easily overclocked and I'm assuming Ivy bridge will be even better with a lower TDP.
March 22, 2012 3:53:00 AM

jnbryan21 said:
I hate quoting quotes of quotes so I decided not to do so.

To Ammaross, thanks for the information about the SSD, to be honest they are new to me and I bought one based off of tom's suggestion that they are the best money you can spend on a computer to speed up every day life. I will probably only put games that are single player like skyrim and DA 2 on the ssd. Online games don't seem to give that give that much of a gain.

I'm in love with the silverstone fortress ft02b-w: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If there is another case that is cheaper with minimalistic features I would be interested considering the cost of the ft02 never seems to go down. Not sure why I love this case so much.

Color scheme for the build will be red and black and I am waiting on the ivy bridge motherboards to see which one will give the spacing i need for proper breathing on my video cards when i cf/sli. Cooler will probably fit the builds color scheme since current chips are easily overclocked and I'm assuming Ivy bridge will be even better with a lower TDP.

That's a great case. You could also look at the Corsair Graphite, Obsidian, or Carbide. I have the Cooler Master 690 II and like it a lot.
March 22, 2012 4:51:56 AM

jnbryan21 said:
I hate quoting quotes of quotes so I decided not to do so.

To Ammaross, thanks for the information about the SSD, to be honest they are new to me and I bought one based off of tom's suggestion that they are the best money you can spend on a computer to speed up every day life. I will probably only put games that are single player like skyrim and DA 2 on the ssd. Online games don't seem to give that give that much of a gain.

I'm in love with the silverstone fortress ft02b-w: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If there is another case that is cheaper with minimalistic features I would be interested considering the cost of the ft02 never seems to go down. Not sure why I love this case so much.

Color scheme for the build will be red and black and I am waiting on the ivy bridge motherboards to see which one will give the spacing i need for proper breathing on my video cards when i cf/sli. Cooler will probably fit the builds color scheme since current chips are easily overclocked and I'm assuming Ivy bridge will be even better with a lower TDP.


There's plenty of "minimalist" cases you can find. I personally look for features and arrangement. Here's two examples:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Each have USB3 front ports, plenty of other front-port options (additional USB, some eSATA, headset/mic, etc). AzzA packs removable hard drive bays, which has come in handy for me on a few occasions. The Cooler Master case has a larger viewing port, since you are a bit concerned about the appearance of internal components. That said, the SilverStone FT02B-W is a nice case when it comes to build quality and installation.
With the heatsink, check the reviews. You'll hate yourself if you get a cooler that "looks cool" but ends up being a screaming banshee of a noise maker, and doesn't give you a solid overclock to boot. If you go with a massive tower cooler, you're likely in good hands, and it will be up to the quality/quiet of the fans that go on it that you'll need to worry about. Here's a good one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
paired with one (or two) of these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
and you'll be in fair shape for a quiet overclock. Just be sure to have a Full Tower with proper clearance for the heatsink/fans.
March 22, 2012 5:11:16 AM

The Noctua NH-D14 is arguably the best air cooler around and comes with fans.

As for cases, I don't need to tell you that the ones ammaross recommended are a major step down aesthetically. Each case I recommended has removable hard drive bays if you want that feature, and there are versions with side windows. The Noctua fits in each one; ammaross is wrong when he says you need a full tower.
March 22, 2012 5:58:34 AM

Get the Radeon 7970 and CF it later. This will allow Eyefinity to run on high with 3 monitors.
March 22, 2012 6:06:47 AM

Going to bed I will check back later and see what others have to say.

Back to the main point, If i go for the 7970 now and cf it later I know I won't really be wasting anything, however the appeal of buying a cheap filler card, selling it later and buying a GK110 card sounds simply awesome given the fact I can spend less now given my needs(im only playing diablo 3 skyrim and DA 2 on a single 1920x1080 screen). With the hype Nvidia has behind their "next-gen" card, is it worth buying the lowest I need now and waiting for that card?
March 22, 2012 6:19:37 AM

I highly doubt NVIDIA Surround will get much better with the GK110, but if you really want to wait, do just that: get a filler card for now.
March 22, 2012 9:06:44 PM

jnbryan21 said:
Going to bed I will check back later and see what others have to say.

Back to the main point, If i go for the 7970 now and cf it later I know I won't really be wasting anything, however the appeal of buying a cheap filler card, selling it later and buying a GK110 card sounds simply awesome given the fact I can spend less now given my needs(im only playing diablo 3 skyrim and DA 2 on a single 1920x1080 screen). With the hype Nvidia has behind their "next-gen" card, is it worth buying the lowest I need now and waiting for that card?


It's really up to you. A 7970 is overkill for a single 1080p monitor playing Diablo3 and Skyrim (Skyrim runs great on a 5770 honestly). However, the ability to crossfire it with another 7970 later is nice. How much better will Keplar be in Q3/Q4 with the GK110? That's anyone's guess. The nice thing about waiting is your more likely to get the "fastest" if you do. Or, you can get your extra power of a second 7970 at a cheaper price when you need it.

Oh, and it seems I have to explain my "full tower" recommendation, as another poster feels it necessary to say it's "wrong." The SilverStone FT02B-W that you're eying is a Full Tower (size-wise), being 24" long and 19.5" tall (a full 1.5" taller than a large mid-tower, and only 2" shorter than a full tower, but is a full 2-3" longer than a full tower). The width (and length) of a full tower will ensure you can fit a full-length video card (think 7990/6990-class 14" deep card, and easily a 10.5" deep card with additional depth for PCIe connectors off the end). The width of the case is important when looking to air-cool an overclock as well. Fitting a mammoth heatsink into some mid-towers is impossible, so it is VERY important to look at the dimensions (height in particular) of your heatsink and consider that vs your clearance from the motherboard to the side of the case. The SilverStone case you like should give you decent clearance in this regard. I agree that the Noctua NH-D14: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is an awesome heatsink. So no, you don't have to choose a full tower, but they are nice to build in, and easy to make sure your heatsink fits.
March 23, 2012 1:42:10 AM

Thanks for all of the replies, I will probably just sit on this question and see how prices fall once May hits. If there is a really good deal on a "filler" card at that time ill probably buy it and wait. If not Ill either purchase a 7970 or 680 to cf/sli later when I need that much muscle.

The ft02b has the clearance for every part I have considered, even the phanteks coolers will fit in the case with low profile memory. I will buy a full tower case if for no reason other than ease of build and cable management.