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Advice on $1600 mostly gaming build

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March 30, 2012 4:08:29 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month

Budget Range: $1600 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, general productivity, media usage/encoding

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, RAM, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: NewEgg fan, but ultimately no preference

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: N/A

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 2560x1440

Additional Comments: I tend to keep my builds 3-4 years and recycle the usable parts in the next cycle. As such, I'm looking for component longevity over immediate speed (ie. not really interested in overclocking).

The i5-2500k was selected based on it's current price, not overclocking ability. It's currently cheaper than the 2500 non-K (after promos/rebates) and a negligible amount over the 2400/2450.

I'm also a digital "hoarder", hence all the storage. The 1TB drive will be used for gaming, etc. and the slower drive will be the media dump.

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CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz Processor
MB: GIGABYTE GA-Z68AP-D3(R2.0) Motherboard
RAM: Team Elite 8GB DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 - Already Purchased
GPU: EVGA 02G-P4-2680-KR GeForce GTX 680 2GB (or whatever is in stock)
SSD: Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 64GB SATA III SSD - Boot/system drive only
HDD1: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
HDD2: Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB 5900RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2
ODD: LG WH12LS39 12x BD-R w/ Lightscribe
SND: ASUS Xonar DG Sound Card - For Dolby Headphone
CASE: This will likely be a personal choice, but I'll welcome any suggestions. I've budgeted $150.

Total: ~$1500 with shipping (could drop to ~$1400, depending on case selection and promos/rebates)

That still leaves $100-200 to play with, if there are any glaring areas that need improvement. Otherwise it gives me a nice overhead to pick up an external HDD and some games on Steam to enjoy the new machine!

Advice/suggestions?
March 30, 2012 4:18:06 PM

hi
Case- Corsair 400 R Mid tower(75-90$)
Psu- Corsair TX-850

*Why are you choosing a sound card i think that mother board does have a Dolby digital support chip.
well other parts are great
Best of luck with your rig
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Related resources
March 30, 2012 4:32:26 PM

Why_Me said:
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Carbide-Series-Gaming-CC-... $118.98 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Corsair Carbide Series 500R Mid Tower Gaming Case CC-9011012-WW

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $128.99 FREE SHIPPING
Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR120GB 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)


I'll second this choice and add a couple of suggestions:

- Fractal Design Arc MIDI: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Antec 1100: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Azza Hurrican 2000: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:
That still leaves $100-200 to play with, if there are any glaring areas that need improvement. Otherwise it gives me a nice overhead to pick up an external HDD and some games on Steam to enjoy the new machine!


The motherboard definitely needs improvement (especially if you're going to be running a 680 - that board you selected does not support Gen 3) and I'd suggest adding a good CPU cooler to the mix.

- Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3H
- Cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Cooler Master X6

I'd also suggest dropping the sound card as you don't need it - the onboard audio will work fine.
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March 30, 2012 4:35:12 PM

Thanks for the quick responses!

To my knowledge, the onboard sound card on that motherboard does not support Dolby Headphone - at least it doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere.

The Corsair Carbide series cases (both the 400R and 500R) are on my list. Others include:

Cooler Master HAF and Storm series
Fractal Design Arc Midi
Antec Nine Hundred (my current case)
A few Rosewills that have tested well - the THOR V2 and the BLACKHAWK.

Most seem to be well under $150.

Do you think I need the 850W PSU over the 650W? My understanding is that the 680 is fairly resourceful for what it is, othewise we're looking at an SSD, 2 HDDs and an optical drive.

Why_Me, other than the storage increase, is there a reason to go with the Mushkin SSD? My understanding is that they aren't as reliable as the Crucials and the regular Chronos is slower than the "Deluxe" models.
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March 30, 2012 4:40:42 PM

Quote:
Do you think I need the 850W PSU over the 650W? My understanding is that the 680 is fairly resourceful for what it is, othewise we're looking at an SSD, 2 HDDs and an optical drive.


I've been told repeatedly that the new 6XX series is far more energy efficient than previous generations so the 650W will work fine for a single but if your long term plans will include SLI - you will need the 850.

Quote:
Why_Me, other than the storage increase, is there a reason to go with the Mushkin SSD? My understanding is that they aren't as reliable as the Crucials and the regular Chronos is slower than the "Deluxe" models.


It's mainly the Sandforce controller that will determine whether or not the drive is reliable. I have a Sandforce-based SSD (the Intel 320) and I still have problems with it, but my Crucial M4 - which uses the Micron controller - has been problem free from day 1.
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March 30, 2012 4:49:45 PM

g-unit1111 said:

The motherboard definitely needs improvement (especially if you're going to be running a 680 - that board you selected does not support Gen 3) and I'd suggest adding a good CPU cooler to the mix.

- Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3H
- Cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... - Cooler Master X6

I'd also suggest dropping the sound card as you don't need it - the onboard audio will work fine.


Nice catch! I did not even realize that about the motherboard and 680, but that's exactly why I posted - to find out what I may have overlooked.

This Gigabyte supports PCIe 3.0 and comes in a little cheaper, would it suffice?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm not trying to be a miser on the motherboard, but at the same time, any of the overclocking, SLI/Crossfire, etc. benefits would be wasted, as I'm not interested in those. If there are major upsides to the board you posted, I'm more than happy to go that route - just asking for knowledge sake.

That said regarding overclocking - do you think I need that kind of cooler? It seems a bit overkill for stock settings.

As I mentioned - the sound card is there for Dolby Headphone support (which I'm a big fan of). It's $20, so really a non-factor with the rest of the system.
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March 30, 2012 5:13:19 PM

LugNutX said:
Nice catch! I did not even realize that about the motherboard and 680, but that's exactly why I posted - to find out what I may have overlooked.

This Gigabyte supports PCIe 3.0 and comes in a little cheaper, would it suffice?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm not trying to be a miser on the motherboard, but at the same time, any of the overclocking, SLI/Crossfire, etc. benefits would be wasted, as I'm not interested in those. If there are major upsides to the board you posted, I'm more than happy to go that route - just asking for knowledge sake.

That said regarding overclocking - do you think I need that kind of cooler? It seems a bit overkill for stock settings.

As I mentioned - the sound card is there for Dolby Headphone support (which I'm a big fan of). It's $20, so really a non-factor with the rest of the system.


Two things - one is that board only has 1 x x16 lane so you can only run one GPU at a time. The UD3H includes 2 x16 lanes so you can run SLI. The Asrock board is fine as well but I personally like Gigabyte - I've had good luck with their stuff so far. If your long term plans include SLI then you'll definitely need the UD3H.

You only need the cooler if you plan to overclock otherwise the stock cooler is fine.
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March 30, 2012 5:19:39 PM

Excellent info and great suggestions!
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March 30, 2012 7:52:56 PM

The single PCIe lane should be fine, as I have no plans for SLI. Typically, by the time I notice that I need a faster graphics card, 2-3 generations have passed and the price vs. performance of the new equipment makes adding another (older) card for SLI difficult to justify.

Other than the motherboard and some case recommendations, the rest of the build appears to be fairly solid?

One question I've always had about SSDs...

I typically leave my computer in "Sleep" mode all the time. It's essentially powered off, with the exception of the RAM holding the system state, which seems to use about 4W - good enough for me. When I press a button to wake it up, it takes less than 5 seconds in most cases.

One of the biggest benefits the SSDs flaunt is the boot up/shut down time, but this doesn't really apply in my case. On top of that, my games and applications will be running on a standard HDD.

Is the SSD still beneficial in my case? I would imagine it still does a great job managing system files, etc. quickly - but is that a visible difference from, say, a 7200RPM drive once the system is already up and running? I know the SSDs blow the HDDs out of the water in benchmarks, just want to make sure I'll notice a real world difference (in my situation) before I definitely commit.
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March 30, 2012 8:12:44 PM

Quote:
The single PCIe lane should be fine, as I have no plans for SLI. Typically, by the time I notice that I need a faster graphics card, 2-3 generations have passed and the price vs. performance of the new equipment makes adding another (older) card for SLI difficult to justify.


Other than the motherboard and some case recommendations, the rest of the build appears to be fairly solid?


Yeah really solid choices all around for the most part. I try to future proof my builds as much as possible which is why I usually plan for SLI in case I can afford to.

One thing I would suggest is if you have a few extra bucks to consider upgrading your PSU to this if you plan to use a 680:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:
One question I've always had about SSDs...


I typically leave my computer in "Sleep" mode all the time. It's essentially powered off, with the exception of the RAM holding the system state, which seems to use about 4W - good enough for me. When I press a button to wake it up, it takes less than 5 seconds in most cases.


That won't affect your SSD at all. What will affect your SSD is anything that drastically distorts it's read - write cycles - such as full formatting, running CPU-intensive benchmarks, things of that nature. An SSD only has a limited number of read-write cycles through the course of the drives' lifespan and you don't want to do anything that will distort it - which is why I generally recommend a second or third storage option on most higher-end rigs.
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March 30, 2012 8:58:08 PM

g-unit1111 said:
That won't affect your SSD at all. What will affect your SSD is anything that drastically distorts it's read - write cycles - such as full formatting, running CPU-intensive benchmarks, things of that nature. An SSD only has a limited number of read-write cycles through the course of the drives' lifespan and you don't want to do anything that will distort it - which is why I generally recommend a second or third storage option on most higher-end rigs.


Right - I understand the read/write cycles gradually degrading the drives.

My question is regarding the speed of SSD vs. HDD once this system is powered on. I rarely shut down, so the boot speed is a moot point. In addition, a lot of the important stuff gets pushed to memory anyway once Windows is up and running, so will general system tasks really benefit from a SSD?

Again, all apps and games will be on a separate drive, so I know I'm not going to see improvements opening a Word document or loading Skyrim, for example.

Basically, I'm double-checking myself to make sure I can actually benefit from the SSD in my particular situation, rather than my techno-lust of owning one. :D  I figure if I can't make an easy justification, I probably don't need it, despite how bad I might want it.
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March 30, 2012 9:33:32 PM

Quote:
Right - I understand the read/write cycles gradually degrading the drives.


My question is regarding the speed of SSD vs. HDD once this system is powered on. I rarely shut down, so the boot speed is a moot point. In addition, a lot of the important stuff gets pushed to memory anyway once Windows is up and running, so will general system tasks really benefit from a SSD?


Absolutely - at work I use Adobe Acrobat heavily and on my old system reducing a PDF file to something that's easily able to send through e-mail would take like 10 minutes per sheet from a high quality scan. Now with my SSD it takes a matter of seconds.

Quote:
Again, all apps and games will be on a separate drive, so I know I'm not going to see improvements opening a Word document or loading Skyrim, for example.


Yeah I have an old 320GB HD that I salvaged from an old build that I use just for Steam and it works perfectly fine.
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