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Sanity Check -- new build configuration, any major problems?

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April 9, 2012 10:51:22 PM

(EDIT: Admittedly this got TLDR. Sorry about that, just trying to be thorough. Thanks in advance for any input and many thanks for all the great discussion available in these forums!)

I'm upgrading my nearly 3 year old gaming machine (Phenom II x4 955 BE, Asus 4870EAH 1mb CFx2) and hoping the forum community can help validate my build by pointing out any compatibility issues and/or suggested improvements. My budget is very flexible and I'm willing to pay another 50+% on any given component if there is something significant to be gained. I haven't kept up on PC components much since I built my last machine but have tried to review this forum (and several others) to get caught up on all that is PC tech in Q2 2012.

My goal is to create a system initially capable of max settings in Diablo 3 and Guild Wars 2 at 2048x1152 on my existing 23" monitor while running a second monitor for vent/mumble/ts and other stuff. I want the system to be upgradeable in the future to support the same games at an increased resolution around 2560x1440 by adding a second GPU in Crossfire config. In the near future I may upgrade to a larger monitor at higher resolution like the Dell 27" IPS monitor (U2711) or maybe a 120mhz at similar res (if/when they are available).

I plan to overclock the CPU for sure and maybe the GPU(s) if I can manage heat problems w/o liquid cooling. I'm not a hard-core OC'er though, mostly just like tinkering w/ settings to get a stable OC. And once stabilized I stop tinkering and just game (I know, wtf? ). I'm partial to ATI video cards and ASUS motherboards simply because I've used them before and am comfortable with the quirks, install, etc.

Here are the components I'm considering:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2550K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115230
- this seems like the de-facto standard for gaming rigs

CPU Cooling: CORSAIR CWCH60 Hydro Series H60 CPU Cooler
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835181015
- have an H60 in my existing machine; easy-install, fits Antec 900

GPU: XFX FX-797A-TNFC Radeon HD 7970 Core Edition 3GB
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814150585
- willing to invest in a top-tier card w/ intention of adding a second in CF/SLI eventually; worried about heat output though in compact case (Antec 900)

MoBo: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131790
- not sure about this choice; prefer ASUS but this version has raid support which I may never use?

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold 850W ATX12V GOLD Certified Full Modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139015
- would get PC Power & Cooling if they had modular option; *really* want modular given Antec 900 case size

SSD!: SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820147164
- not sure on this one either; don't need massive storage just need space for OS and a handful games; priority on performance

Using existing components:
- two Samsung 2343bwx monitors, 2048x1152 each
- Antec 900 case
- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
- keyboard, mouse, DVD-R, CD, etc.

Questions I have are,
- is there any benefit to a better CPU/Mobo? will the GPU(s) ever be bottlenecked?
- am I crazy for buying now instead of waiting for Ivy Bridge? are there better cpu/mobo options to buy now for better upgrade potential with IB?
- is there any advantage upgrading the SSDs to raid0 or one dedicated to OS and another to games/data?
- Sound card... do I need one? Will be gaming w/ a headset only.
- really not sure about the MoBo and SSD -- so many options. halp!

Again, thanks for reading and for any advice!
April 9, 2012 11:02:13 PM

CPU Cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Integrated Water Coolers like those aren't a great improvement to good air cooling.

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Questions:
1. No. Not with that combo.
2. If you're like me and couldn't wait, there isn't TOO much improvement on the CPU side, but rather on the graphics side (doesn't matter if you have 7970/680)
3. Not that I can think of.
4. Not really.
5. You probably don't need 256gb, 128gb SHOULD be enough, however, I don't know how many games you have.

Do you need a storage drive?
April 9, 2012 11:08:13 PM

Quote:
CPU: Intel Core i5-2550K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115230
- this seems like the de-facto standard for gaming rigs


Actually it isn't because you lose a diagnostic tool as it disables the onboard video - stick with the 2500K, don't get the 2550K.

Quote:

CPU Cooling: CORSAIR CWCH60 Hydro Series H60 CPU Cooler
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835181015
- have an H60 in my existing machine; easy-install, fits Antec 900


If you already have an existing H60 - no need to buy a new one, the mounting bracket should fit your new CPU.

Quote:

MoBo: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131790
- not sure about this choice; prefer ASUS but this version has raid support which I may never use?


If you're not using RAID, don't bother - you can get this and save some money: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:


PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold 850W ATX12V GOLD Certified Full Modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139015
- would get PC Power & Cooling if they had modular option; *really* want modular given Antec 900 case size


I'd just assume get a new case - I tried building a new build around an existing Antec 900 and wound up frying the motherboard on it, I wound up replacing that with a Cooler Master HAF 912 and it's been problem free ever since.

Quote:

GPU: XFX FX-797A-TNFC Radeon HD 7970 Core Edition 3GB
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814150585
- willing to invest in a top-tier card w/ intention of adding a second in CF/SLI eventually; worried about heat output though in compact case (Antec 900)


That is about as top tier of a card as you can get - but if you can find an EVGA 680 that would be ideal.

Quote:
- Sound card... do I need one? Will be gaming w/ a headset only.


No you don't.

Quote:

SSD!: SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820147164
- not sure on this one either; don't need massive storage just need space for OS and a handful games; priority on performance


256GB SSD is kind of pointless - get a 128GB and then get a secondary 1 - 2TB storage drive and store all your games and large files on it. Think of it this way - a full format takes 10% of your drive and then a full Windows install takes 20GB, then games can take anywhere from 25GB (BF3) to 16GB (Portal 2) to 8GB (Skyrim) then you're not left with much room for anything else.

Quote:
- am I crazy for buying now instead of waiting for Ivy Bridge? are there better cpu/mobo options to buy now for better upgrade potential with IB?


Not necessarily - Ivy's real only selling factor is a 15% increase in performance from Sandy Bridge and unlocks PCI Gen 3 but if you don't want to wait I don't blame you. :lol: 
Related resources
April 9, 2012 11:20:18 PM

For the IB... you're not CRAZY per se, but it's coming out April 29th. Is your PC in that bad of a condition that you can't wait 20 days? I'm really asking, not being sarcastic. The GTX 680 is (I think) the best GPU out there, so you're safe with that. Yes, a 256GB SSD is rather pointless unless you have like a bunch of games. If you DO buy the IB chip, then buy the ASRock Extreme4 Z77 motherboard. The Z77 motherboards are already for sale on newegg.
April 9, 2012 11:33:13 PM

gary1 said:
CPU Cooler: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Integrated Water Coolers like those aren't a great improvement to good air cooling.

GPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Questions:
1. No. Not with that combo.
2. If you're like me and couldn't wait, there isn't TOO much improvement on the CPU side, but rather on the graphics side (doesn't matter if you have 7970/680)
3. Not that I can think of.
4. Not really.
5. You probably don't need 256gb, 128gb SHOULD be enough, however, I don't know how many games you have.

Do you need a storage drive?


Thanks for the quick reply. I'll check out the Hyper 212 CPU cooler. I've seen it recommended in these forums but I'm concerned about room and/or obstructing air flow in the Antec 900 case. Kinda thought the Corsair all-in-one CPU coolers were an easy selection but maybe not!

I see you recommend the nVidia 680 which I knew was coming! There are other threads for the nVidia v. AMD/ATI battles but in the end if I'm familar and comfortable with ATI Catalyst and other tools does it really matter if I choose the 7970 or the 680?

Solid advice on the SSD. You are right, I probably don't need 256gb. The fastest 128gb will fit the bill.

Cheers,
JP
April 9, 2012 11:40:25 PM

Quote:
Thanks for the quick reply. I'll check out the Hyper 212 CPU cooler. I've seen it recommended in these forums but I'm concerned about room and/or obstructing air flow in the Antec 900 case. Kinda thought the Corsair all-in-one CPU coolers were an easy selection but maybe not!


They're not always - air is always safer than water but you do have clearance issues - I tried to install a Xigmatek Gaia in an Antec 900 and it barely came close to clipping the edge of the case. If you cut back on - say the SSD that would give you more than enough room to purchase a new case with more head room and better cable management than the 900 offers - I had a 900 but eventually had to chuck it for those reasons.

Quote:
I see you recommend the nVidia 680 which I knew was coming! There are other threads for the nVidia v. AMD/ATI battles but in the end if I'm familar and comfortable with ATI Catalyst and other tools does it really matter if I choose the 7970 or the 680?


You really can't go wrong either way - I just bought a Radeon 7870 for my system - the 680 was a bit too rich for my blood. NVIDIA has improved a lot of functionality on Keppler than previous generation cards - multiple monitor setups are easier to do than before, and the newer cards generate less heat and use less power. The ATI/AMD cards are very strong performers as well - for the price you cannot beat the 7870 as it outperforms the 570TI and even comes close to outperforming the 580TI in some tests. The brands make a lot of the difference too - NVIDIA has one of the best card makers on the market and that's EVGA. ATI/AMD have Sapphire and XFX - also excellent card manufacturers.
April 9, 2012 11:44:21 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:
CPU: Intel Core i5-2550K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115230
- this seems like the de-facto standard for gaming rigs


Actually it isn't because you lose a diagnostic tool as it disables the onboard video - stick with the 2500K, don't get the 2550K.

Quote:

CPU Cooling: CORSAIR CWCH60 Hydro Series H60 CPU Cooler
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835181015
- have an H60 in my existing machine; easy-install, fits Antec 900


If you already have an existing H60 - no need to buy a new one, the mounting bracket should fit your new CPU.

Quote:

MoBo: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16813131790
- not sure about this choice; prefer ASUS but this version has raid support which I may never use?


If you're not using RAID, don't bother - you can get this and save some money: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:


PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series Gold 850W ATX12V GOLD Certified Full Modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139015
- would get PC Power & Cooling if they had modular option; *really* want modular given Antec 900 case size


I'd just assume get a new case - I tried building a new build around an existing Antec 900 and wound up frying the motherboard on it, I wound up replacing that with a Cooler Master HAF 912 and it's been problem free ever since.

Quote:

GPU: XFX FX-797A-TNFC Radeon HD 7970 Core Edition 3GB
NewEgg: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814150585
- willing to invest in a top-tier card w/ intention of adding a second in CF/SLI eventually; worried about heat output though in compact case (Antec 900)


That is about as top tier of a card as you can get - but if you can find an EVGA 680 that would be ideal.

Quote:
- Sound card... do I need one? Will be gaming w/ a headset only.


No you don't.

Quote:

SSD!: SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III SSD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820147164
- not sure on this one either; don't need massive storage just need space for OS and a handful games; priority on performance


256GB SSD is kind of pointless - get a 128GB and then get a secondary 1 - 2TB storage drive and store all your games and large files on it. Think of it this way - a full format takes 10% of your drive and then a full Windows install takes 20GB, then games can take anywhere from 25GB (BF3) to 16GB (Portal 2) to 8GB (Skyrim) then you're not left with much room for anything else.

Quote:
- am I crazy for buying now instead of waiting for Ivy Bridge? are there better cpu/mobo options to buy now for better upgrade potential with IB?


Not necessarily - Ivy's real only selling factor is a 15% increase in performance from Sandy Bridge and unlocks PCI Gen 3 but if you don't want to wait I don't blame you. :lol: 


Thanks for the input! Yeah, I am a bit worried about the Antec 900 case. Love the compact size but it gets tight in space and heat w/ higher end components.

Regarding the CPU, didn't know that about the 2550. I'll look into the 2500.

As for storage, I'm really not planning on storing anything but OS and games. I'm going to forego the large HDD entirely and do a single SSD for everything I think. Crazy or am I just thinking too "cloud 2012+" versus all these SSD + 1TB builds I read about? :) 
April 9, 2012 11:58:44 PM

JPepperTH said:
Thanks for the input! Yeah, I am a bit worried about the Antec 900 case. Love the compact size but it gets tight in space and heat w/ higher end components.

Regarding the CPU, didn't know that about the 2550. I'll look into the 2500.

As for storage, I'm really not planning on storing anything but OS and games. I'm going to forego the large HDD entirely and do a single SSD for everything I think. Crazy or am I just thinking too "cloud 2012+" versus all these SSD + 1TB builds I read about? :) 


I'm 100% against cloud computing - I want my data stored on a drive locally where I can easily access it. Cloud computing makes you way more vulnerable to hackers and eavesdroppers. I always recommend the SSD + 1TB route because then you get the best of both worlds - a fast boot drive and tons of storage, I have that on both of my systems and it works great.

Yeah the 2550 disables onboard video and is a slightly faster clock, I don't know what Intel was thinking on that one.

If you want to reuse your Antec case, fine, I'm not stopping you, but if you want to get a new one - you will get better cable management and CPU retention which will mean that you can install any aftermarket fan without removing the motherboard - which is a huge pain believe me, if you've ever tried to do so.
!