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Critique my next 4-year-old computer!

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June 3, 2012 8:57:04 AM

It's finally time to take the big leap, as I have pushed my current CPU/MB/RAM as far as it can go (without overclocking). I have a new bunch of parts waiting to leave newegg already, but first, what is getting replaced:

Intel Core2Quad Q6600
EVGA 780i motherboard
8GB DDR2 1066MHz RAM
Memorex PATA DVD+-RW drive
Lite-On PATA DVD+-RW drive


The Q6600 came from a gateway computer that I bought close to 5 years ago (maybe 4 years? It's been so long I can't remember). This is the way I tend to be with my computers. I buy what I can afford and every time I come up with a bit of money, I upgrade what I can. That's how that old box lasted so long. Here are the parts from the old computer that are going to make it over in to the new computer:

EVGA GeForce GTX 470 SuperClocked 1280MB GDDR5
4 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200rpm HDs (RAID10)
3TB Maxtor external usb3.0 hard drive
Cooler Master Storm Scout - Mid Tower ATX case
Some off-brand 650w modular PSU
this will be the first thing that gets replaced (next month when I get my paycheck)

What I have purchased to breathe new life into my old box:

Intel Core i7-3930k
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO
Asus P9X79 Deluxe motherboard
16GB (4x4GB) Patriot Viper Extreme Div. 4 (PC3 12800) RAM
LG SATA Blu-ray burner (14x BD-R)


In the past, this has always been my gaming machine. Also, in the past, there has not been as much separation in what CPUs one would use for productivity and gaming, but these days, it seems that Intel has three processor architectures on the market that each have their specific use. If I was building a gaming box, I would have stopped at a Sandy Bridge Core i7-2500K. Because I always run a 2-core Ubuntu VM in Virtualbox, and often spin up other VMs for tesing purposes, it seemed that having 6 cores would be useful. I also found from reviews that the i7-3930K blew the competition away when it comes to Photoshop and Handbrake. I suspect that this upgrade will blow my mind in comparison to my old system. I just hope that it will provide me with the same longevity that my old Q6600 has enjoyed. (Hopefully I'll be able to retire the Q6600 to an extra case I have when I come up with some hard drives to use as a linux-based NAS/Home Server/DLNA box).

Aside from desperately needing a trustworthy new high-efficiency PSU to replace my old one, does anyone see any flaws in my logic when it comes to choice of components for the tasks I plan to use the computer for? Any components that will not be compatible? Did I get a CPU cooler that is too big to fit in my case?

Thanks for looking!
-- Matt (N0BOX)

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June 3, 2012 10:35:03 AM

Hi there

I have a very similar setup. I run a lot of virtual machines on my SB-E rig as well as a lot of development applications, it's very well suited. With that said, I have a few recommendations

First, you might want to get a new case. The X79 boards are about an inch wider than standard ATX boards which puts them within the realm of EATX (although they don't use EATX standoffs). They also require a lot more wiring due to the added power requirements, you need to make sure that your case is wide enough to fit the motherboard and still run cables comfortably. You may not need a full EATX case such as the Corsair Obsidian 800D but you should check

Second, the Hyper 212 EVO is decent enough cooler but it is a bit weak for the beastly power consumption of the SB-E processors. I suggest a Corsair H100 for sustained loads

The Asus X79 motherboards also run DRAM well above 1600Mhz without issue. I'm running 8x4GiB DIMMs at 2133 using just an XMP profile. The P9X79 Deluxe has 8 DIMM slots, if you feel that you would rather have 32GB of DRAM then you should have no issues running it so long as the DIMMs are all the same type (preferably 2 matched sets of 4 DIMMs). Keep in mind though that adding more RAM or running RAM at higher speeds will put further stress on the CPU. If you do this I highly recommend that you get a liquid cooler such as the Corsair H100.

EDIT: get a nice 800+ watt Seasonic PSU

good luck
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June 3, 2012 11:36:10 AM

Thanks for the suggestions, Pinhedd!

I was so concerned about getting the cost down that I chose the 212 EVO simply because it was relatively cheap and it was recommended a few times in the user reviews of the 3930K on newegg. I am scared of liquid cooling systems because I am extremely absent-minded. If I am required to check the fluid levels and keep a supply of it on hand at all times, then I'm afraid that my CPU would end up very melty in places. I also leave my PC running 24/7, which would require that I be that much more attentive to the fluid levels. I don't have a need to overclock aggressively, so I can put off getting a better-suited cooler until I can put in the proper research and figure out how to teach myself to take care of it.

The main reason I like the case I have now is because it is one of the few cases I have seen that I not only appreciate the looks of, but that also has a sturdy handle (and is also reatively small). I have always wanted a computer that was easier to carry around, and when I found this case, I fell in love with it. If the motherboard doesn't fit or is impossible to route cables around, then I have an unused Lian Li full-tower case on hand (and it even has the Linux penguin, "Tux", sandblasted into the clear side panel!) that I can use instead.

With the memory, again, I was just buying the cheapest stuff I could find. My plan is to save up to put 32GB (4x8GB) of 2133MHz or 2400MHz RAM with lower latency in to replace it. I would then have 4 slots left to upgrade to 64GB in the future. For the time being, 16GB of 1600MHz RAM is light-years beyond the 8GB of 1066MHz DDR2 in my current system.

I haven't heard of Seasonic (granted, I've been out of the PC-building game for quite a while, now). Is it a highly-regarded brand, now? I had been looking at Corsair and Antec PSUs, getting ready for next month's purchase. I definitely want something that has the ability to handle 4 to 8 hard drives, an overclocked CPU, and two high-end Nvidia GPUs, and I desperately want one that is modular. I have been concerned about getting the best efficiency that is possible out of a power supply, because I am already using a huge amount of power fueling a tremendously power-hungry CPU and GPU, not to mention a 4-disk array of 7200rpm HDs. (It has been extremely hot in my room compared to other rooms because I leave my PC on all the time, and I am one of those people who really hates a hot room :??:  )

Thanks again for your suggestions, and especially for the luck. :) 
-- Matt (N0BOX)
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June 3, 2012 12:00:31 PM

The H100 is a sealed cooler. It's nearly impossibe to break open and requires no maintenance aside from the initial install. The only downside is that it is a bit expensive at around $100.

Seasonic has been around for almost 40 years. Their primary industry is the manufacture of PSUs. They have their own lineup of PSUs and are also the manufacturer for many high end OEMs such as Corsair, XFX, and Antec. You may have owned a Seasonic manufactured PSU and not even known it because they are often sold under other labels. If you want something that can handle a huge amount of output power without flinching you will definitely want to get a SeaSonic X series

I leave my PC on 24/7 and thanks to AMD's zero-core it actually runs cooler than my older 2600 and QX9650 rigs
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June 3, 2012 12:00:51 PM

if you ask me, i would get 1.5v ram. it will make your memory controller lst a bit longer and wont void your warranty (if intel didnt change the specs). 2133mhz or 1866mhz from corsair is the way to go. just get low profile versions to fit it under heatsinks

2: if you are scared of liquild cooling, then go with a noctua nh-d14 or a thermlright silver arrow. but bear in mind that these heatsinks are MASSIVE and you need low profile ram and lots of height

3: seasonic is the best. they make corsair power suppplies and xfx stuff. get the seasonic 1000w. its 80+ platinum=most efficent. if it is too high fro the price, get the xfx rebrand version
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June 3, 2012 12:06:29 PM

TheBigTroll said:
if you ask me, i would get 1.5v ram. it will make your memory controller lst a bit longer and wont void your warranty (if intel didnt change the specs). 2133mhz or 1866mhz from corsair is the way to go. just get low profile versions to fit it under heatsinks

2: if you are scared of liquild cooling, then go with a noctua nh-d14 or a thermlright silver arrow. but bear in mind that these heatsinks are MASSIVE and you need low profile ram and lots of height

3: seasonic is the best. they make corsair power suppplies and xfx stuff. get the seasonic 1000w. its 80+ platinum=most efficent. if it is too high fro the price, get the xfx rebrand version


Intel's internal engineering allows for DDR3 DRAM voltages up to 1.8 volts on the sandybridge and sandybridge-E chips (sourced from the datasheet). The recommended 1.5 volts comes from the JEDEC specifications only. Compatibility with DRAM outside of the JEDEC specifications is not guaranteed but Intel has confirmed that running DRAM outside the JEDEC specification but below the maximum limit will not void the warranty.
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June 13, 2012 3:22:09 PM

Best answer selected by N0BOX.
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