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First Time PC build (need help getting the system within budget

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June 19, 2012 4:05:28 AM

This is my third post to Tom’s Hardware, seeking advice to be used to build a PC. Pulling the trigger to get a PC built has been delayed twice due circumstances involving college, and research in determining the parts I need as it had been a long time since I kept up with PC hardware developments. I am finally close to pulling the trigger on buying the parts I need to build my next personal computer. What I have left to do is to get the total price of the computer within an established budget and ensure compatibility between the components. This comes into addition to making sure that the system is highly expandable and has a long useful life. You can review my previous two posts with the following links.


http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom...

Approximate purchase date- This summer

Budget Range: My budget limit has established at approximately $2200. I need help getting my build from its current total price to comfortably within this price with minimal performance and functionality sacrifices with respect to system usage.

System Usage: Gaming (including modding PC games), game design, graphic design (including Adobe CS6 applications such as Photoshop & Illustrator) 2D/3D modeling & animation (I plan on installing the Autodesk Entertainment Creation Suite programs and Pixologic Z-brush), regular school work, and general entertainment (music, films etc.)

Parts not required: speakers

Preferred website(s) for parts: newegg.com

Parts Preferences: Intel for CPUs. I have no specific preference for the other components.

Overclocking: This may be a compelling project to try at some point in the future. The prospect of it happening though is unlikely

SLI or Crossfire: I plan on starting with a single graphics card. The possibility of setting up multiple graphics cards down the road depends on if I can do this with a dedicated sound card occupying on of the PCI Express 1x slots.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 is the optimal resolution I am aiming for. I cannot go higher as a result of budget constraints.

Additional comments: The computer system that I am looking for must be able to comfortably play bleeding-edge games at rock solid frame rates and their complete visual glory (60 frames per second at max settings is highly preferable). I am concerned a certain tinting issue that affects the monitor I am learning towards potentially rendering it useless for serious graphics work. One area I think I could cut to get the cost within budget is the SSD. This depends on how much storage I would need to store my Windows 7 installation, Microsoft Office, and content creation apps. I plan on using the mechanical hard drive to store my games and media files. Could I store my games on a mechanical hard drive and use the SSD caching to improve load times? I also ask about the possibility to store everything on the mechanical hard drive, use a lower capacity SSD and just use the SSD caching ramp performance in my content creation apps to keep the cost of the system down. What performance sacrifices will have to be made in these programs if I was to rely on SSD caching? Could I drop down to 8GB of RAM and still be in good position for system usage or should I have 16GB out of the gate? What about dropping the graphics card down to a GeForce 670 based card and still be able to game at the desired frame rates and graphics settings? I would grateful for any other suggestions in getting the cost of my system within budget.

Current component selection:

CPU- Intel Core i7 3770k- $349.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU Cooler- Zalman CNPS9900MAX $64.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard- Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H- $189.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory- CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB)- $134.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive- Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB- $99.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD- OCZ Vertex 4 128GB- $129.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive- ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS- $19.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Graphics Card- EVGA Geforce GTX 680- $499.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor- Dell Ultrasharp U2410- $529.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=24-260-...

Case- Corsair 600t- $159.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply- SeaSonic Platinum-860- $209.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Keyboard- Microsoft Sidewinder X4 Keyboard- $46.99 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mouse- RAZER Abyssus- $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Operating System- Windows 7 Professional 64-bit OEM- $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total- $2616.86
June 19, 2012 4:42:04 AM

The zalman cpu cooler is an older design , not that quiet , not that good
Save $30 and use a CM Hyper 212

There are cheaper Z77 motherboards that will have idenitcal performance . Save $40 or more

Use a 64 gig SSD as a cache drive Save $50

Antec 300 two case saves you $80 or so and probably cools better
http://www.anandtech.com/show/5462/antec-three-hundred-...

Why do you need win 7pro? Nothing you have mentioned makes that important . Save $40

A GTX 680 needs a 550 watt psu
http://www.realhardtechx.com/index_archivos/Page362.htm
The corsair TX 650 gives you plenty of head room . Save about $120

I havent checked latest prices on the items I have mentioned , but I have tried to indicated what i think is wasteful spending if you want to hit your budget

June 19, 2012 4:59:44 AM

I see no problem with using a 128GB SSD.
Related resources
June 19, 2012 5:22:50 AM

azeem40 said:
I see no problem with using a 128GB SSD.


Me either , but using one half that size as a cache drive will give almost identical performance and allow for easier installation of programs ... and it will save money .
June 19, 2012 5:35:48 AM

I'm going to use what I know to help you

Could I store my games on a mechanical hard drive and use the SSD caching to improve load times?

Yes, usually this is the most reliable way of balancing speed and storage. There is no real reason to store games on an SSD as it will yield little to no detectable performance gains. Storing the OS on your SSD would yield WAY better results as far as loading into windows and loading Windows Native apps like Office. Futhermore, if you want your Creation apps opening up quick and responding better - get the bigger SSD and load them onto it as this will give you a SIGNIFICANT boost in speed.


What performance sacrifices will have to be made in these programs if I was to rely on SSD caching?

The real gold comes out when you use an SSD as a boot drive or to store your creating apps as speeds will skyrocket. I mean for instance if it took 10 to load up your system(hypothetical), SSD could shorten it down to about 2. I'd say for future-proofing, get the bigger 128GB SSD as you will really see the benefits.

Could I drop down to 8GB of RAM and still be in good position for system usage or should I have 16GB out of the gate?

If you do LOTS and I MEAN LOTS of multitasking(playing BF3 WHILST rendering a video) go for 16GB as it will be able to run a plethora of files whilst keeping your system running speedy. But if you going to be doing standalone gaming or standalone editing, got for 8 or 12GB as games only use about 4GB max. The rest will be extra just in case.

What about dropping the graphics card down to a GeForce 670 based card and still be able to game at the desired frame rates and graphics settings?
I'd say stay with the 670 at it will give you just about the same performance ( 5% decrease at average, 10% at MOST) as the 680 -- and you save 120$ for a bigger SSD or whatever you want.

Here are some benchmarks 670 vs.680: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/598?vs=555

_____________________

Dude, your system is a KILLER. Trust me after around 1500$ the only detectable performance increase a PC can achieve is through SSD usage, which, can DRASTICALLY improve performance if utilized correctly. Get a GTX 670, which can be SLI'ed real good and will keep cool and run more efficiently because of the architecture NVIDIA manufactured it with, and save 120$.

You'll be golden on gaming don't worry about that.

With the extra money from the GPU downgrade(not really), invest more in SSD storage, a video editor like you can use all the speed SSD's can comfortably provide, and that's a lot of speed.

_____________________

Good Luck !
June 19, 2012 7:05:49 AM

Yes, get the GTX 670. It is better worth it as far as price/performance.
June 19, 2012 7:44:43 AM

Also is the 3770k a must for this build or is it strictly for gaming?
June 19, 2012 8:20:08 AM

bctande1 said:
I'm going to use what I know to help you

Could I store my games on a mechanical hard drive and use the SSD caching to improve load times?

Yes, usually this is the most reliable way of balancing speed and storage. There is no real reason to store games on an SSD as it will yield little to no detectable performance gains. Storing the OS on your SSD would yield WAY better results as far as loading into windows and loading Windows Native apps like Office. Futhermore, if you want your Creation apps opening up quick and responding better - get the bigger SSD and load them onto it as this will give you a SIGNIFICANT boost in speed.


What performance sacrifices will have to be made in these programs if I was to rely on SSD caching?

The real gold comes out when you use an SSD as a boot drive or to store your creating apps as speeds will skyrocket. I mean for instance if it took 10 to load up your system(hypothetical), SSD could shorten it down to about 2. I'd say for future-proofing, get the bigger 128GB SSD as you will really see the benefits.

Could I drop down to 8GB of RAM and still be in good position for system usage or should I have 16GB out of the gate?

If you do LOTS and I MEAN LOTS of multitasking(playing BF3 WHILST rendering a video) go for 16GB as it will be able to run a plethora of files whilst keeping your system running speedy. But if you going to be doing standalone gaming or standalone editing, got for 8 or 12GB as games only use about 4GB max. The rest will be extra just in case.

What about dropping the graphics card down to a GeForce 670 based card and still be able to game at the desired frame rates and graphics settings?
I'd say stay with the 670 at it will give you just about the same performance ( 5% decrease at average, 10% at MOST) as the 680 -- and you save 120$ for a bigger SSD or whatever you want.

Here are some benchmarks 670 vs.680: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/598?vs=555

_____________________

Dude, your system is a KILLER. Trust me after around 1500$ the only detectable performance increase a PC can achieve is through SSD usage, which, can DRASTICALLY improve performance if utilized correctly. Get a GTX 670, which can be SLI'ed real good and will keep cool and run more efficiently because of the architecture NVIDIA manufactured it with, and save 120$.

You'll be golden on gaming don't worry about that.

With the extra money from the GPU downgrade(not really), invest more in SSD storage, a video editor like you can use all the speed SSD's can comfortably provide, and that's a lot of speed.

_____________________

Good Luck !



you obviously dont play battle field 3 in multi player .. installed on my western digital black drive with a 64 MB cache and hooked up to a serial ata 3 port it took almost 2 times longer to load the map also while the fps benefit is negligible 1 - 3 fps difference load times are cut significantly you might say im a bf3 fanboy and you would be right but i know im not waiting on the map to load or update changes .. and typically im in the map before any one else.. by the way the drive he picked is a good drive but there are better drives wildfire pro.. or wildfire se a bit more exspensive but offer great performance.. Im not bashing ocz just saying my personal preference.. and i only instal stuff i use every day on my ssd bf3 is one of them.. lol
June 19, 2012 1:57:45 PM

FlintIronStagg said:
Also is the 3770k a must for this build or is it strictly for gaming?


If you look closely at what I have put down for system usage (which includes running graphics applications from Adobe, Autodesk, and Pixologic), I do believe that a 3770k is highly desirable for this build.
June 20, 2012 2:04:41 AM

The most expensive items on this system include the monitor and graphics card. My next question is whether I can find alternative monitor that is less money than the Dell Ultrasharp U2410 that I picked and is still great for both gaming and graphics work. That said I am willing to prop the native resolution of my monitor down to 1920x1080. I know that Dell has a cheaper 23in and 24in alternatives. These include the Dell UltraSharp U2312HM and Dell UltraSharp U2412M. These however use the E-IPS technology which might be less suitable for graphics work (particularly graphic design in Adobe CS6). I also just discovered the ASUS PA238Q. The monitor looks good except that there have been widespread reports of backlight bleeding and a number of other problems which are outlined in the following link. http://neb.frikafrax.com/2012/03-7315-asus-pa238q-proar... Any assistance with regards to this particular issue is greatly appreciated.
June 25, 2012 12:39:28 PM

goodguy713 said:
you obviously dont play battle field 3 in multi player .. installed on my western digital black drive with a 64 MB cache and hooked up to a serial ata 3 port it took almost 2 times longer to load the map also while the fps benefit is negligible 1 - 3 fps difference load times are cut significantly you might say im a bf3 fanboy and you would be right but i know im not waiting on the map to load or update changes .. and typically im in the map before any one else.. by the way the drive he picked is a good drive but there are better drives wildfire pro.. or wildfire se a bit more exspensive but offer great performance.. Im not bashing ocz just saying my personal preference.. and i only instal stuff i use every day on my ssd bf3 is one of them.. lol


I know that SSD's help with loading times -- they load the data onto the RAM faster than HDD so the "loading" times are faster. But I don't know if the minor FPS differences are enough to justify the price of an SSD, even with the faster loading times.
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