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Here's my next build - any suggestions?

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May 24, 2012 5:29:26 AM

So, I've been a custom PC builder since I was 12 (I'm now an old duff at 28) and once again it has come time for me to build a new machine. My current one is pushing 6 years old and has expended it's reasonable upgrade potential, so I'm saving up my pennies and have picked out the following parts (all off newegg).

I'll provide a link to each part and a brief (ish) description of why I picked each and any concerns I might have. I am seeking any sort of comments or advice, but to give some specific examples, I'll ask the following few questions. Are these parts cost-effective, and does my reason for choosing each make sense? I forsee some potential space issues, do you think this will be an issue or no? Will this machine be good enough to play new high-end games? Is it adequately cooled?

On to the parts...

1) Motherboard - MSI Z77A-G43

Chosen for durability (military-class specifications), because I like MSI when it comes to making motherboards, and because it was compatible with the other parts I wanted. Also, because I could overclock the RAM to a reasonable level (with the appropriate CPU).

2) CPU - Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz

Chosen because I wanted a 3rd-gen i7 processor, but don't have gobs of money to spend on anything 'extreme'. On my new computer builds I always try to go with one of the newer techs and spend more money on the processor, as I prefer not to have to upgrade it too soon (as compared to simpler things like RAM or video card). I chose not to get the k version because I am generally not a fan of overclocking.

CPU Cooler - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO

Had good reviews, and the logic behind why it works better than others (direct heat-pipe transfer) seemed to make sense. Good price, and seemed tall rather than wide to help accommodate tall RAM heat fins. I am concerned whether it would fit in the mid-size tower though, but my math says it should with just a half inch to spare (or so).

Video Card - GV-R685OC-1GD Radeon HD 6850 1GB

This was actually a Tom's Hardware recommended good value for this month (May). As I haven't had much hands-on experience with the newer series of video cards (my current one is woefully old) I defer to the wisdom of others on this choice. I expect that I may upgrade this part at a later time, but for now I want something good enough but with cost in mind. It seems you can go pretty crazy spending on video card(s) nowadays.

RAM - CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB)

Good reviews, runs at a reasonably OC'd speed, 1.5v (recommended for Ivy Bridge), nice big heat spreader. However, the height of these things is a concern, and I hope it wont get in the way of anything else (most notably, the CPU cooler). As I picture things visually in the case and looking at the mobo picture, I think it will be ok, especially if I can place the CPU fan on either side of the fins. Perhaps someone more familiar with either this RAM or the cooler could give their insight.

Power Supply - OCZ Fatal1ty 750W Modular

I wanted something modular with flat cables, and the wattage should be more than enough. Seems to have a bit more 'flair' than I need (red LEDs, etc.), but I can live with that.

Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003

Good speed for a non SSD hard drive, and I decided not to go SSD because of cost and storage space. I like to have lots of room for media and games, as I've currently nearly filled my two 320Gb ones. I will probably get just one of them, but am considering 2 or possibly 4 (for raid 1 or 10). The extra data protecting would mean I don't have to continue my current backup method of keeping important stuff (family photos) on both mine and my wife's PC's. The 4 HD's would boost data transfer rates, but it probably isn't worth the cost to me.

Case - Diablotek REACTION CPA-8817D3

I wanted a no-flair mid-size case that was functional and effective. I haven't heard of this company so I'm a little weary, but reviews seem good (if few). Also, it is a top-mounted PSU case, which was recommended for the PSU I have picked out. Mathematically, I should be able to fit all the parts (notably, the CPU cooler) in this mid-size case, I'm just hoping that this comes true during actual assembly.


So, those are the parts I have picked out. Have any suggestions for different parts, or maybe have reasons I shouldn't choose any of the above? Let me know what you think.

More about : build suggestions

May 24, 2012 5:52:26 AM

Idk about that PSU, but I do know OCZ ZS is a great quality unit.
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May 24, 2012 6:04:14 AM

You really dont need anywhere near that many watts on the psu. I would recommend this one, if you can order by 5-28 (good sale&rebate)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

At 600 watts even that is a bit of overkill, since a good 450-500 watt unit would be fine. Ocz is a pretty good psu, and actually owns PC Power & Cooling. A lot the psu's share common parts and PC P& C is top notch.
I have no idea about Diablotech cases, but avoid their power supplies like the plague.
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May 24, 2012 11:56:10 AM

The 750w power supply is overkill for sure, and I may go with the PSU you suggested instead GI_Jones. It seems much the same, but $25 cheaper and 150w less. As long as 600w would be enough no matter what video card I decide to add to it in the future. I will most likely stick to just one video card though, as I'm not a huge fan of dual video card setups, so that saves some power.
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May 24, 2012 12:02:55 PM

I recommend that you try to scrape some money from mobo and maybe get a H77 instead of a z77 since you arent oc'ing and get a 560 ti or a 7850 for gpu. That will yield much better gaming performance and give the same performance in everyday tasks.
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May 24, 2012 1:45:20 PM

I want to stick with the mobo I picked out, even though I know it's more than what I need. I like to overdo it when it comes to the mobo and CPU, to leave room for improvement later (and because I prefer to run hardware at less than it's maximum potential in hopes for a longer life). I like your GPU recommendations, but they are about $100 more than the one I picked. If you think it's worth the extra $100, then it certainly isn't out of the question. I'm just trying to get a good value in the video card, as I could always upgrade it later. Doesn't mean I wont consider upgrading my choice at the outset, I just want to know if the 40% or so price hike gives a 40% or more increase in performance. I want the most performance per dollar for the initial video card, so whatever card that might be, I am indeed looking for recommendations.
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May 24, 2012 1:51:41 PM

Mune said:
I want to stick with the mobo I picked out, even though I know it's more than what I need. I like to overdo it when it comes to the mobo and CPU, to leave room for improvement later (and because I prefer to run hardware at less than it's maximum potential in hopes for a longer life). I like your GPU recommendations, but they are about $100 more than the one I picked. If you think it's worth the extra $100, then it certainly isn't out of the question. I'm just trying to get a good value in the video card, as I could always upgrade it later. Doesn't mean I wont consider upgrading my choice at the outset, I just want to know if the 40% or so price hike gives a 40% or more increase in performance. I want the most performance per dollar for the initial video card, so whatever card that might be, I am indeed looking for recommendations.


Im not sure if this matters but Ive heard that haswell will be a different socket anyways so future proofing a mobo isnt really gonna get you anywhere..but here are some benches of a 7850 vs 6850..its a decent boost in performance.
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May 24, 2012 3:08:34 PM

Indeed, the socket on the motherboard means I wont be getting a new CPU for it in the future, but such would be the case pretty much no matter what socket I chose. I read that the 2011 sockets aren't a significant improvement over the 1155 at the moment, so decided to stick with the slightly dated 1155. Any reason you guys might know of to go with the 2011, or should I stick with 1155?

I had actually picked out that mobo when I was considering overclocking the CPU (and getting the k series to accommodate as such) which I have currently decided not to do but may reconsider (again). I might spend the extra $40 to get the k series, then not overclock it right away and see if I need to or not (or if it gets too hot when overclocked, which I'm trying to avoid). I don't like pushing my hardware at the expense of it's longevity, which is why I have avoided overclocking in general with my past builds. Seems much more common nowadays though to have everything overclocked; perhaps the hardware has adapted to be better able to handle OCing in the last 5 years? Anyway, the overclocking potential, the support for faster RAM speeds, and the durability (military class) of the motherboard is what lead me to choose it. That, and I always buy MSi mobo's, I like them best. It's only about $40 more than a bare-minimum type socket 1155 mobo anyway.

You mention some benchmarks between the two GPU's; should there be a link somewhere in that post? I can always Google it anyway, but I am indeed interested in some real user feedback on video card comparisons. I don't want top of the line, where the price vs effectiveness ratio drops, but I want a card that gets the most performance per dollar. It is okay with me if I will be wanting to upgrade it 3-5 years down the road, as that's typical for my builds. I initially set a personal limit of $200 to spend on the GPU, but I could probably convince myself that up to $300 is acceptable if the performance increase is proportional to the cost. I'll just have to convince my wife of such also... :) 
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May 24, 2012 3:25:02 PM

Mune said:
Indeed, the socket on the motherboard means I wont be getting a new CPU for it in the future, but such would be the case pretty much no matter what socket I chose. I read that the 2011 sockets aren't a significant improvement over the 1155 at the moment, so decided to stick with the slightly dated 1155. Any reason you guys might know of to go with the 2011, or should I stick with 1155?

I had actually picked out that mobo when I was considering overclocking the CPU (and getting the k series to accommodate as such) which I have currently decided not to do but may reconsider (again). I might spend the extra $40 to get the k series, then not overclock it right away and see if I need to or not (or if it gets too hot when overclocked, which I'm trying to avoid). I don't like pushing my hardware at the expense of it's longevity, which is why I have avoided overclocking in general with my past builds. Seems much more common nowadays though to have everything overclocked; perhaps the hardware has adapted to be better able to handle OCing in the last 5 years? Anyway, the overclocking potential, the support for faster RAM speeds, and the durability (military class) of the motherboard is what lead me to choose it. That, and I always buy MSi mobo's, I like them best. It's only about $40 more than a bare-minimum type socket 1155 mobo anyway.

You mention some benchmarks between the two GPU's; should there be a link somewhere in that post? I can always Google it anyway, but I am indeed interested in some real user feedback on video card comparisons. I don't want top of the line, where the price vs effectiveness ratio drops, but I want a card that gets the most performance per dollar. It is okay with me if I will be wanting to upgrade it 3-5 years down the road, as that's typical for my builds. I initially set a personal limit of $200 to spend on the GPU, but I could probably convince myself that up to $300 is acceptable if the performance increase is proportional to the cost. I'll just have to convince my wife of such also... :) 


Lol i follow. O and sorry about the link..it must not have stayed, here it is...its like 30% at least...maybe more

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/549?vs=539
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May 24, 2012 3:45:14 PM

Nice benchmarks, it's useful to have some real-world numbers to look at (as in, comparison of FPS in games, etc.). Seems to have a generally 30% to 40% boost in performance, with more significant differences when AA is enabled. Also seems to run cooler (?) than the 6850, which is nice, just not sure if that comes from better tech or a better cooling unit. As mentioned, I am rather 'behind' when it comes to video cards, as I haven't gotten to play with any of the new ones.

What I think it has shown me is that the 6850 might be slightly below my personal minimum requirements in terms of quality gameplay. I think you have indeed convinced me that the 7850 is the way to go, and perhaps saved me some disappointment along the way. It's one thing to have to justify an extra $100 expense, but it would be even less cost effective if I ended up replacing the video card within the first year or so.

EDIT: Any thoughts on my concerns for physical space? I did the math out and I believe everything should fit snugly, but math and real life don't always line up. I'm concerned if the CPU cooler will fit nicely in the mid-size case, and also whether it will be in the way of the large RAM coolers.

I'd upgrade to a full-size case, but that would require getting a PSU with longer cables, spending more money, and having an even bigger monster sitting on my desk. I think if I make my machine too big and beastly, my wife would be quicker to claim it excessive, and she wouldn't be wrong. Most big cases I find come with a lot of flair I wouldn't find appealing, and an excessive number of huge fans that make only a minimal temperature difference.
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May 24, 2012 4:40:43 PM

Mune said:
Nice benchmarks, it's useful to have some real-world numbers to look at (as in, comparison of FPS in games, etc.). Seems to have a generally 30% to 40% boost in performance, with more significant differences when AA is enabled. Also seems to run cooler (?) than the 6850, which is nice, just not sure if that comes from better tech or a better cooling unit. As mentioned, I am rather 'behind' when it comes to video cards, as I haven't gotten to play with any of the new ones.

What I think it has shown me is that the 6850 might be slightly below my personal minimum requirements in terms of quality gameplay. I think you have indeed convinced me that the 7850 is the way to go, and perhaps saved me some disappointment along the way. It's one thing to have to justify an extra $100 expense, but it would be even less cost effective if I ended up replacing the video card within the first year or so.

EDIT: Any thoughts on my concerns for physical space? I did the math out and I believe everything should fit snugly, but math and real life don't always line up. I'm concerned if the CPU cooler will fit nicely in the mid-size case, and also whether it will be in the way of the large RAM coolers.

I'd upgrade to a full-size case, but that would require getting a PSU with longer cables, spending more money, and having an even bigger monster sitting on my desk. I think if I make my machine too big and beastly, my wife would be quicker to claim it excessive, and she wouldn't be wrong. Most big cases I find come with a lot of flair I wouldn't find appealing, and an excessive number of huge fans that make only a minimal temperature difference.


I have a full size case and it keeps everything very cool...but it is huge. And i would recommend low profile ram for a cm 212. Tall heat sinks wont fit. Also the cm 212 should fit in a mid case.
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May 24, 2012 5:45:02 PM

How about these?

RAM - Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB)

Lower profile heat spreaders, and has mostly good reviews. I'm not familiar with Mushkin but it seems like others certainly are and think highly of them.

I had been assuming that I would need/want a large heat spreader for my RAM, but perhaps it would be more effective to use something like this and go with a more robust CPU cooler instead.

Would the size of these RAM sticks allow me to choose any CPU cooler? I could potentially upgrade to a better cooler, which would make me more comfortable overclocking the CPU. I've heard the 22nm tech of the Ivy bridge equates to a lot of extra heat when overclocked. Any max load temps approaching 65°C would likely make me turn it back down.

Anyone out there familiar with the 212 Evo? I'm curious about it's potential for overclocking.

Here's a huge high-end CPU cooler I was looking at last night.

CPU Cooler - Phanteks PH-TC14PE_BK

Think this might fit in a mid-size case with those Muskin RAM sticks? I'd imagine it's one of the best air-cooled systems for overclocking, but if anyone has any first hand experience I'd be interested to hear.
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May 24, 2012 6:31:28 PM

Mune said:
How about these?

RAM - Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB)

Lower profile heat spreaders, and has mostly good reviews. I'm not familiar with Mushkin but it seems like others certainly are and think highly of them.

I had been assuming that I would need/want a large heat spreader for my RAM, but perhaps it would be more effective to use something like this and go with a more robust CPU cooler instead.

Would the size of these RAM sticks allow me to choose any CPU cooler? I could potentially upgrade to a better cooler, which would make me more comfortable overclocking the CPU. I've heard the 22nm tech of the Ivy bridge equates to a lot of extra heat when overclocked. Any max load temps approaching 65°C would likely make me turn it back down.

Anyone out there familiar with the 212 Evo? I'm curious about it's potential for overclocking.

Here's a huge high-end CPU cooler I was looking at last night.

CPU Cooler - Phanteks PH-TC14PE_BK

Think this might fit in a mid-size case with those Muskin RAM sticks? I'd imagine it's one of the best air-cooled systems for overclocking, but if anyone has any first hand experience I'd be interested to hear.


Those look like they are low enough...and the cm 212 is amazing. Im fairly sure I heard someone getting near or at 5 ghz with a 2500k with a cm 212.
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May 24, 2012 7:15:59 PM

I got my 3570K to 4.4GHz with the Evo, stable, at 60C max (one core floated between 59 and 60 - rest were a little less). Well below the thermal limit of 105C.
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