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Considering Upgrading Sandy Bridge Build

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May 4, 2012 2:21:32 AM

Hi all,

I built my current Sandy Bridge rig back in March of 11. I'm currently considering doing some upgrades, but I'm kind of all over the place with where to go. I don't have a set budget, but I'd like to keep it fairly reasonable (interpret that how you will).

Here's the current set up:

Intel i7 2600k
ASUS Sabertooth P67
8GB (2x4GB) G.SKILL DDR3 1600 - (which for some reason is showing as 1333 in BIOS and I have to "OC" to 1600???)
EVGA GTX 570
HAF X 942

I'm planning on keeping the case and probably the GTX 570, but a buddy of mine is considering buying the basics of my rig to build his, and if he buys the GTX 570 I might either buy two new 5 series and SLI or a single GTX 6 series.

So I guess what I'm looking at for options is the following:

1.) Keep the current setup, add another GTX 570, possibly another 2x4GB of G.SKILL DDR3 1600 - I'm also quite interested in moving to liquid cooling, but I've never attempted it and would be quite hesitant to try it.
2.) Sell the MOBO/RAM/CPU, buy a Z77 board (suggestions for model?), an Ivy or Sandy i7 (I'm not fully up to speed on the benefits of Ivy with respect to SLI'd cards), and 8-16GB of DDR3 1600 or 1866. As I said before, I'm not sure if I would also sell the GTX 570, but I'm really curious to know the benefits of an Ivy chip versus a Sandy in terms of GPU performance, both in single and SLI mode.

I'm obviously keeping all my hard drives/monitors/peripherals (OCZ Agility 3 120GB, Crucial RealSSD C300 120GB, and various traditional storage drives).

Thanks for giving this a read. I know I'm kind of all over the place, but I appreciate any thoughts, opinions, etc.

Best solution

May 4, 2012 2:45:50 AM

Depends on what you use your rig for. If you're like me and do mostly gaming, there's absolutely no reason to move to Ivy Bridge. You won't see any performance difference. I have the i7-2600k and a GTX 570, as well. If I were to upgrade anything I would buy a new video card. The 1280 mb of VRAM is adequate currently, but several games are getting really close to maxing it out (Skyrim is o so close). I'd buy one of the new 600 series (if you can find them anywhere) or an AMD 7950 or 7970.

That being said, if you use your rig for other productivity/computing tasks, you might get a tad more performance from Sandy Bridge, though I still don't think it would be worth it. Check these out to see what you think:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ivy-bridge-benchmar...

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/04/23/intel_ivy_bri...
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May 4, 2012 2:50:58 AM

I use it mostly for gaming, but I also run a dual-monitor setup and am always browsing the internet, have music/movies going, etc. on the other monitor and I do notice that it weighs heavily on the system. But in general, I do agree that my performance is adequate, which is why I'm most likely leaning towards just adding another GPU and possibly more RAM to help keep up with all the crap I have running at the same time.

The room I have my PC in also is frequently much warmer than the rest of my house, and after some heavy gaming, I get a warning from ASUS' built in monitor that my USB temperature monitor is high, so I suppose this is what led me to consider some liquid cooling. But in all likelihood, I would be fine adding some more case fans.
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May 4, 2012 2:55:28 AM

Seems hard to fathom that you could be having heat issues with that case. How hot does it get in that room? What kind of overclock and voltages are you running?
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May 4, 2012 3:01:03 AM

The room frequently is in the upper 70's to low 80's Fahrenheit. Perhaps I've missed something in my setup or my fans simply aren't running fast enough. It does feel quite warm when I stick my hand behind the case (as I frequently am having issues with my mouse "acting up" and briefly disconnecting and reconnecting - still haven't figured this one out).

Would I notice much of a difference by keeping the 2600k but simply upgrading the board to a Z77 in place of the P67 in regards to GPU performance, both in single and SLI mode?
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May 4, 2012 3:04:01 AM

At time of writing, it's 80F in my room, and my USB3.0-1 Temp is 55C, USB3.0-2 is 56C, and SATA6g Temp is 57C, while all other monitors are showing under 50C.
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May 4, 2012 3:06:25 AM

No I don't see that making any difference. Performance should be the same in single and SLI modes between the Z77 and P67.
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May 4, 2012 3:11:47 AM

Not really sure what those temps are and I'm not familiar with that program. Seemed like I used some kind of Asus temp monitoring before and it gave me bogus readings. I would suggest this:

http://www.cpuid.com/downloads/hwmonitor/1.19-setup.exe

It's small and non-invasive. Gives all kinds of temps and voltages and seems to be pretty accurate in my experience. Load that up and see if any temps seems out of whack. Even in an 80 degree room your rig should be ok unless your pumping a lot of voltage through the CPU. Are you overclocking your CPU?
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May 4, 2012 3:17:53 AM

Thanks, will give that a try.

I am overclocking, but only slightly, to around 4.3.
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May 4, 2012 3:24:12 AM

Yeah, unless something is wrong I imagine your temps are acceptable. I have no experience in watercooling so I couldn't help you there. It can get very expensive and there's always the risk of leaks (although I hear with current setups this is rare). But if you have the funds and the will you could give it a shot.
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May 4, 2012 3:25:10 AM

Guess I should also ask: What vcore are you running and what CPU cooler do you have?
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May 4, 2012 10:59:00 PM

Just keep an eye on the temp of your CPU cores and make sure they don't get too hot. They shouldn't given your voltages and cooler, even though your ambient is a tad warm. The whole watercooling thing is your call. I don't think it's entirely necessary, but others would point out that the cooler you keep the CPU, the longer it'll last, so there ya go. I've always been under the opinion that watercooling is really only needed if you live in a crazy hot climate or if you're going for crazy high overclocks.
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May 4, 2012 11:25:03 PM

I'd been considering watercooling so that I could overclock a tad more, but honestly, I think it looks so much better in the case with watercooling. Just looks nice. But I don't know if the reward is worth the risk.

Assuming I ended up selling the basics and buying new parts, any suggestions for a Z77 board? Since Ivy is priced so close to Sandy, I don't see any reason not to take the minor upgrade, assuming I'm buying new parts anyway.

I'll probably at the very least throw a few more case fans in to ease my mind about cooling. If I were to take the plunge into watercooling, any tips/suggestions or links to up-to-date guides?
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May 5, 2012 2:29:56 AM

I read this a couple weeks ago:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a-beginners-guide-f...

And this guy seems to have thrown together some in depth videos:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5U_Ui8H4dRs

But I would suggest opening a separate watercooling thread because my watercooling knowledge probably isn't much higher than your own.

As far as Z77 boards, I can only suggest what I know, and I like ASUS. But, I think ASRock and Gigabyte are all pretty solid, too, from what I hear. My last two builds have had midrange ASUS boards, and that's what I would recommend. I bought a lowend ASUS board once, and it just didn't have what I was looking for in terms of overclocking. You can look this over:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z77-extreme6-z77a-g...

Though in that article the ASUS board didn't look to be the best value. It also all depends on the features you want/need.

Now, looking at your voltages, it looks like your vcore is spiking to 1.37 volts. That seems awfully high for a 4.3 ghz overclock. That's what mine spikes to to get 4.6 ghz, and my chip isn't a very good overclocker. What voltage do you have set in BIOS?
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May 5, 2012 4:01:09 AM

If I recall correctly (as I'm a bit occupied at the moment, I can't shut down and find out) I didn't set a specific voltage in BIOS. I used a built in ASUS BIOS feature that ramps up the CPU voltage under higher loads for you. I should probably go in and figure out how to set and limit the voltage, but I'm not 100% sure what the exact setting is that I'm looking for. If I do find and change the setting, will it do the same thing it does currently, where it only reaches that voltage under load, or will it always be at that voltage?
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May 5, 2012 9:47:32 PM

You need to adjust the voltage offset. That way the voltage still powers down at idle, and ramps up when needed. You just don't need to ramp it up that much. That'll take care of a lot of that heat.
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May 11, 2012 12:01:33 AM

Best answer selected by jsbailey.
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May 11, 2012 12:02:33 AM

Thanks for all your replies. In case you're interested, I've held off on upgrades and am currently considering trying out watercooling. If I don't do that, I'll consider adding some fans to try and reduce temperatures.

In the meantime, I've reduced my OC'ing to alleviate the issues.

Thanks again!
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