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NewEgg Build to compare with 2 PreBuilds

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April 14, 2012 12:38:41 AM

Total Budget: $2500ish
Purpose: Gaming only. Nothing else. No overclocking (maybe). Hooking up to 64" 1080p plasma TV.

Sorry for wall of text.

Why I want a prebuild...
You can read why I am/was wanting to purchase a prebuild (Digital Storm's Epoch or Falcon Northwest's Talon) here.

It comes down to a few reasons:
(1) never built a PC before
(2) I want it ASAP before Diablo III comes out
(3) GTX 680s are out of stock at all/most places

Prebuild still appeals to me despite having some experience tinkering with computer guts. I've upgraded a PSU and added some memory in a previous desktop PC. I've also taken apart my laptop to clean the GPU fan and reapply thermal paste to the GPU and CPU. Everything was working fine after I was done, but I had two extra screws in the end.

Why I MIGHT consider building my own...
Asides from actually building it, custom builds seem daunting because of not knowing which parts to choose (performance and/or compatibility. After reading "System Builder Marathon, March 2012: $2600 Performance PC", I noticed that is just above my prebuild budget! Hmmm...



Prebuild vs Custom Build...

Prebuild
As my prebuild choice, I used Digital Storm's Epoch with some upgrades (Falcon-NW's Talon is very similar):

Chassis Model: Special Deal Hot Seller - Corsair Carbide 300R
Processor: Intel Core i7 2700K 3.50 GHz (Unlocked CPU for Extreme Overclocking) (Quad Core)
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 (Intel Z68 Chipset) (Features Intel Quick Sync Technology)
System Memory: 16GB DDR3 1600MHz Digital Storm Certified Performance Series (Highly Recommended) (Hand Tested)
Power Supply: 850W Corsair TX850 V2 (Dual SLI Compatible)
Hard Drive Set 1: Operating System: 1x (240GB Solid State (By: Intel) (Model: 520 Series)
Optical Drive 1: DVD-R/RW/CD-R/RW (DVD Writer 24x / CD-Writer 48x)
Internet Access: High Speed Network Port (Supports High-Speed Cable / DSL / Network Connections)
Video Card: 1x NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB (Includes PhysX) (EVGA)
Extreme Cooling: AIR: Stage 2: Corsair A70 Dual 120mm Fans High Performance Cooler
Chassis Airflow: Standard Factory Chassis Fans
Noise Reduction: Noise Suppression Package Stage 2 (Optimized Airflow & Fan Speeds with Noise Dampening Material)
Boost Processor: Standard Intel Turbo Boost 2.0 Automatic Overclocking
Windows OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64-Bit Edition)
Recovery Tools: Windows Recovery Toolkit (Bundled with Windows 7 CD)
Exclusive T-Shirt: FREE: Digital Storm T-Shirt - Black (Large)
Warranty: Life-time Expert Customer Care with 3 Year Limited Warranty

Custom Build
After browsing the article, I used it as a template. Some of it started to make sense. However, choosing a motherboard and a CPU cooling fan are still cryptic to me. In any case, here is my PC build via Newegg's Public Wishlist feature with my added notes.

Questions:
1. Overall, how is this build?
2. Is choice in CPU cooling fan okay?
3. How about the motherboard?
4. Am I forgetting anything?


Prices, Pros and Cons...
Which should I choose?! Both are similar in price.

Digital Storm's Epoch: $2316 Total; $2518.65 after CA tax (before shipping)
Pros
3 year warranty
Life-time tech support
They'd build it faster and more reliable than me (offset by shipping time)
Cons
People on Tom's Hardware shaking their head at me
Stuck with their choices of parts/components; Limited variety
Price

Newegg PC Build*: $2384.41 Total; $2593.05 after CA tax (local pickup; no shipping)
*If I get a non water cooled GTX 680, it drops total by $200; $217.50 after tax.
Pros
Local pickup; no shipping fees!
I assume better parts for better prices
More options to choose from
Cons
GTX 680 is out of stock!
I have to build it myself or with a friend...or pay someone.
If something goes wrong, it's my responsibility
No official tech support

Best solution

April 14, 2012 1:17:55 PM

Being that I am here, I would argue for you to build it yourself as you would expect. Most high level support staff here are so familar with computer hardware that nothing at all intimidates us even as a first time attempt. In fact, we tend to not be able to understand how anyone could be intimidated by it due to our understanding.

While I do understand more than most that it can be intimidating, I do however maintain that the pros still outweigh the cons. It really is not as hard as most people think it is. I have seen like 1 or 2 people out of many hundreds break hardware when left to their own devices.

Based on that, I would say the chance you do something permanently damaging to your own computer parts is south of 0.5%.

The biggest risk most people have when building new computers is that they pick some part that is lower quality than another available part and the lower quality part fails or causes troubleshooting headaches from day 1.

The risk of that is much lower with companies like that Digital Storm company who (should, if they are doing their jobs right) turn the computer on before they ship it to the consumer.

So, yes, you are right that buying from this company does help you to avoid the biggest problem in new builds. Based on that, they will have a large value to you as someone who needs a working computer from day 1.

It is indeed as you say though, that if you take the Digital Storm computer you are going to get worse parts for the same amount of money than if you went with a self built computer.

That isn't always the case, but in this case it is certainly so. I don't think anyone would seriously try to compare these two computers to each other in an overall sense, although some may compare them to each other purely from a gaming perspective.

As for me, I would suggest that you not pick either one.

The newegg open wishlist PC just seems to be people looking up what the highest priced part in each category is and putting it on there regardless of how much value it has against the next lower part that costs much less.

On that basis, I really can't recommend following the newegg open wishlist.

I would rather give you a list of parts that will do what you want for a lot less, or do a lot more than those computers for the same amount of money. I would lean towards the former rather than the latter, but switching to the latter would just involve adding a 2nd video card.

What I would suggest you get would be
HAF 932 Case
GIGABYTE GA-Z68XP-UD3P LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
i5-2500k Processor
HD 7970 Video Card
XFX 850w PSU
Crucial M4 256 GB SSD
Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB Hard Drive
RAM CT2KIT51264BA1339
Asus DRW-24B1ST DVD Drive
Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler

OS - Are you a student or do you know someone with access to a student email address? If so you can get the same OS for $65 that is on there $300. Also, if you have a computer you are going to quit using after you buy this one you can get the same thing for about $100 too.

Anyway, that is how I would construct a "dream" build. It probably costs like $500 - $1000 less than either of those. and it should do pretty much the same when gaming.

If you wanted better graphics performance, you would get it by adding a 2nd HD 7970 and still come in under either of those other computers you listed.
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April 21, 2012 5:46:32 AM

Yup. I used yours as a template. Bought my own. Went smoother than I thought until I got my GTX 680. Had issues getting it in slot, but reseating the motherboard helped. Then HDMI cable wouldn't fit right, so now I'm using DVI adapter. Now I just need to figure out how to get sound from my optical output from motherboard to my receiver.
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April 21, 2012 5:46:42 AM

Best answer selected by BlueberryCake.
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April 21, 2012 3:09:41 PM

It sounds kinda weird to me that you would have such troubles with the 680 not fitting in the slot right and the HDMI not fitting right and everything.

That is the highest of the high end, you would think Nvidia would get it right.

Shouldn't $5 cable work for the audio thing? I am no expert on audio and don't know too much about your setup or anything.
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April 23, 2012 6:02:11 PM

In regards to fitting it into the PCIe slot, loosening the screws on the motherboard and nudging it to one side was the fix. Only took a few minutes.

As for not getting any sound out, I over-thought it. Turns out that it was my receiver since my assignable optical input was incorrectly assigned...by me hehe.

The only actual issue is the HDMI output connector on the back of the card. Something is either misaligned or bent preventing me to easily plug in the cable. I'm sure I could've used a little elbow grease or tinkering with the slot to fix it, but I didn't want to chance it. Returning it and waiting for a new card would suck. Using a $30 DVI adapter from Best Buy (ugh) was the fix.
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April 23, 2012 6:16:54 PM

More expensive than I thought a converter cable would be. At least its working now.
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