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First build gaming PC

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June 26, 2012 3:12:05 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: July or August.

Budget Range: $1000-$1400, before rebates.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming and surfing the internet.

Parts Not Required: Mouse and OS.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon and Newegg, although if a better deal can be found elsewhere at a reputable site, I'm happy to chase it.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, and completely unrelated, I want to avoid a rig that relies on RAID.

Overclocking: Yes, hopefully 4.5+ ghz.

SLI or Crossfire: Yes, for the future.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I'm a gamer, and I'm looking for smooth performance out of this rig on games such as Skyrim, Diablo 3, Watch Dogs, etc. I also plan on using my monitor as a TV for watching movies on. The thing is, I've designed two similar builds (one as a more budget-conscious version of the other), and I'm not sure how large the difference in performance between these two builds is, both in terms of gaming experience and overclocking ability. I'm hoping that one of you great folks here can educate me on that! :D  Also, almost all of my games are bought and run via Steam, if that makes any difference for my HDD/SSD options.

Higher-value build:
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($169.89 @ TigerDirect)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Mushkin Chronos Deluxe 240GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($377.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Storm Enforcer ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Keyboard: Lite-On SK-1788/BS Wired Standard Keyboard ($14.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $1372.33

Lower-value build:
CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($22.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($127.86 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Scorpio Black 160GB 2.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($48.21 @ NCIX US)
Hard Drive: Mushkin Chronos 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($92.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($246.97 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Storm Enforcer ATX Mid Tower Case ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Asus VS228H-P 21.5" Monitor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Keyboard: Lite-On SK-1788/BS Wired Standard Keyboard ($14.97 @ Newegg)
Total: $1078.93

More about : build gaming

June 26, 2012 3:24:44 AM

I'm talking about the first build.

i5-3570k can't overclock to the same extents of the 2500k, but is 10-15% faster per core, your pick.

Get a Z77

Spend $30 more and get a Geforce GTX670: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/550?vs=598&i=468...

You could drop the SSD down to 120/128gb.

You shouldn't go with a $15 keyboard, get something better. It will obviously work fine, well if the reviews have anything to say, but it looks really cheap.

Get a $90 1tb hard drive.
June 26, 2012 3:25:23 AM

Here's one that will be a good balance between the two:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 - $59.99
PSU: Sewasonic S12 II 620W - $86.99
Motherboard: Asrock Z77 Extreme 4 - $134.99
CPU: 3.4GHz Intel Core i5-3570K - $229.99
Cooler; Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo - $34.99
RAM: 8GB Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 1333MHz 1.5V - $44.99
SSD: 128GB Crucial M4 - $124.99
HD: 1TB Seagate Barracuda ST - $99.99
Optical: Lite On DVD Burner - $17.99
Video Card: EVGA Geforce GTX 670 - $399.99

Total: $1,234.90
Related resources
June 26, 2012 7:02:57 AM

Patflute: Thanks for the tip on IB. I looked into it, and although it was a tough choice, I think I'll stick with SB. Also, what's so good about Z77 compared to Z68? Apart from the PCI boost for GPUs, I mean. Also, I only used 100gb of my current hard drive over the past year (including space dedicated to the OS), so I have reservations about whether or not a 120gb SSD will offer me enough space. On the other hand, upping the SSD size to 240gb for an added $100 is easily more than enough for me, and costs the same as a SSD/HDD combo. As for the GPU, that's a great suggestion, but I feel like I'm stretching my budget as is with the 7950, so I'll have to think about it. For the games I play, at 1920x1080 resolution, how large is the performance difference between the 7950 and the 7850 (overclocked)?

g-unit: Thanks for the build! I'm definitely going to incorporate some components into my build. I'm loving the specs on the case, but it looks like I'll have to get a couple of 3rd-party fans to fill in some of the optional fan slots, especially the 200mm slot. I know next to nothing as far as fans go, but would any 200mm fan fit in the case, or do I need to look for a special frame? As for the motherboard, I've heard that specific model uses terrible MOSFETs. Do you know if the Asus Extreme3 Gen3 uses the same make of MOSFETs?
June 26, 2012 6:50:19 PM

Quote:
g-unit: Thanks for the build! I'm definitely going to incorporate some components into my build. I'm loving the specs on the case, but it looks like I'll have to get a couple of 3rd-party fans to fill in some of the optional fan slots, especially the 200mm slot. I know next to nothing as far as fans go, but would any 200mm fan fit in the case, or do I need to look for a special frame? As for the motherboard, I've heard that specific model uses terrible MOSFETs. Do you know if the Asus Extreme3 Gen3 uses the same make of MOSFETs?


I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about there, but as far as fans go - I'd really recommend reading this before spending $70 - $80 on fans you don't need and don't have the mounts for: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cooling-airflow-hea...
June 26, 2012 8:36:32 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:
g-unit: Thanks for the build! I'm definitely going to incorporate some components into my build. I'm loving the specs on the case, but it looks like I'll have to get a couple of 3rd-party fans to fill in some of the optional fan slots, especially the 200mm slot. I know next to nothing as far as fans go, but would any 200mm fan fit in the case, or do I need to look for a special frame? As for the motherboard, I've heard that specific model uses terrible MOSFETs. Do you know if the Asus Extreme3 Gen3 uses the same make of MOSFETs?


I'm not entirely sure what you're talking about there, but as far as fans go - I'd really recommend reading this before spending $70 - $80 on fans you don't need and don't have the mounts for: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cooling-airflow-hea...


Thanks for pointing me to that article. It was an incredibly helpful read! If I go with a long graphics card (7950 or 670), that will cover almost all of the space lengthwise between the drive bays and the back of the case, although there will be some space to the side of it due to the width of the case. Just to clarify, even in this situation, those couple of inches of space will prevent hot air from building up in the case, right?
June 26, 2012 8:41:34 PM

capt_davy said:
Thanks for pointing me to that article. It was an incredibly helpful read! If I go with a long graphics card (7950 or 670), that will cover almost all of the space lengthwise between the drive bays and the back of the case, although there will be some space to the side of it due to the width of the case. Just to clarify, even in this situation, those couple of inches of space will prevent hot air from building up in the case, right?


That unfortunately is incredibly difficult to tell until you get your build up and running. The direction that your fans point in will ultimately determine how your air flows in your system. If there's an obstruction you need to find a way around it, if the card doesn't fit in the case you might want to put a bit more into your case and get a bigger and roomier one.
June 26, 2012 8:55:20 PM

g-unit1111 said:
That unfortunately is incredibly difficult to tell until you get your build up and running. The direction that your fans point in will ultimately determine how your air flows in your system. If there's an obstruction you need to find a way around it, if the card doesn't fit in the case you might want to put a bit more into your case and get a bigger and roomier one.


I was going to arrange it so the configuration should resemble either the 1st or 3rd diagram on this page: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/cooling-airflow-hea...
June 26, 2012 9:18:59 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Most cases anymore will use the bottom mounted PSU method - very few use top-mounted PSUs anymore.

I noticed that. Are you looking at the 2nd and 4th configurations on that page? The 1st and 3rd look to be bottom mounted PSU methods to me.
Anyways, after doing some more research, I've decided to go with this build for better cooling and better GPU, at the expense of a SSD. however, I just wanted to verify something. I know that SSDs significantly shorten the load times to launch games, but if I go into a new area in a game that requires the map to load and generate the new area, does a SSD shorten the load time of that?
June 26, 2012 10:29:21 PM

capt_davy said:
I noticed that. Are you looking at the 2nd and 4th configurations on that page? The 1st and 3rd look to be bottom mounted PSU methods to me.
Anyways, after doing some more research, I've decided to go with this build for better cooling and better GPU, at the expense of a SSD. however, I just wanted to verify something. I know that SSDs significantly shorten the load times to launch games, but if I go into a new area in a game that requires the map to load and generate the new area, does a SSD shorten the load time of that?


First off why would you go with a hard drive that small and why would you pick one that's made for laptops?

As far as SSDs go they do shorten load times dramatically due to not having moving parts however you're trading space for speed. And that's never a good thing especially when building new builds is all about maximizing efficiency. SSDs are great in that they're blazing fast, use less power and generate less heat than mechanical HDs do. However, the cost per GB once you get into the really high capacities is completely ridiculous when compared to their mechanical counterparts.

But on that build - go with the i5-3570K, Z77 motherboard, and the GTX 670 over that setup. The components are far newer and will generally work better together.

Try a build like this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($33.50 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($45.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.21 @ eCost)
Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($124.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 670 2GB Video Card ($417.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec Eleven Hundred ATX Full Tower Case ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 650W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($105.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1235.18
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
June 27, 2012 6:43:57 AM

Z77 is newer and is needed to support Ivy Bridge processors. You need a BIOS update for Z68 to use an Ivy Bridge CPU, but that requires an SB CPU already installed.
June 29, 2012 7:28:29 AM

g-unit1111 said:
First off why would you go with a hard drive that small and why would you pick one that's made for laptops?

As far as SSDs go they do shorten load times dramatically due to not having moving parts however you're trading space for speed. And that's never a good thing especially when building new builds is all about maximizing efficiency. SSDs are great in that they're blazing fast, use less power and generate less heat than mechanical HDs do. However, the cost per GB once you get into the really high capacities is completely ridiculous when compared to their mechanical counterparts.

But on that build - go with the i5-3570K, Z77 motherboard, and the GTX 670 over that setup. The components are far newer and will generally work better together.

Try a build like this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($33.50 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($45.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Green 1TB 3.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.21 @ eCost)
Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($124.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 670 2GB Video Card ($417.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec Eleven Hundred ATX Full Tower Case ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 650W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($105.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $1235.18
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)


Good point, now I see why so many people choose to upgrade to SSDs rather than make a build with them included from the start. I guess I'll see what losing the SSD does with my build prices. I went with a hard drive that small because that's all the space I'll ever need, and I don't see the sense in paying for more. Currently, I use a bit under 60 GB, all of my files and games included. As for the small physical size of the drive (laptop size), well, I didn't pay attention to that detail, and I'm still confused as to how that's a problem (then again, I've never actually built a system myself, so you tell me). As for the IB and Z77, I'm on the fence. I don't see any benefit of paying extra for Z77 over Z68, other than the fact that I can use IB with Z77 (can't with Z68, I'd need to have a non-IB processor to put into the mobo first, which I don't have). As for the 670, I'm sold on that. Is there a particular reason why you went with the EVGA one? The Gigabyte Windforce 670 is $18 cheaper.

azeem40 said:
Z77 is newer and is needed to support Ivy Bridge processors. You need a BIOS update for Z68 to use an Ivy Bridge CPU, but that requires an SB CPU already installed.

Ahh, now I see why Z77 was recommended with IB even though z68 supports it. The thing is, IB processors and Z77 mobos are more expensive than equivalent SB + Z68, and I see no gains other than IB. Tell me if I've got the picture straight here. I understand that IB at around 4.2 ghz = SB at 4.5 ghz, due to higher IPC. The thing is, SB processors get hotter and hotter as you push them to higher clock speeds (and correspondingly high voltages) from what I've read. Contrasting to this, IB processors run fairly cool until they need more voltage to run at higher clock speeds. Then the chip experiences thermal throttling and keeps trying to drop back down to the base clock speed. Since I'm only using air cooling, I'd have to run the IB chip at just below that point. I know that SB chips can have sizable differences in maximum clock speeds due to lack of binning, but about I've heard that 4.5 ghz is a fairly reliably achieved goal with the i5-2500k on air. What could I hold similar expectations to for an i5-3570k to achieve on air?

And I've revamped the build to this. I'm guessing that the general consensus is that I should go with the 670, but seeing how I'll never go beyond single-monitor, 1920x1080 at 1080p while gaming or watching movies, how much extra performance would I get out of it over the 7850? (Ideally I'd compare it to the 660, which comes out soon I think, and is supposed to be slightly better than the 7850, but I'd rather not jump to conclusions just yet)
June 29, 2012 7:40:18 AM

The Z77 Extreme4 is only $10-15 more than the Z68 Extreme3
June 29, 2012 5:52:56 PM

capt_davy said:
Good point, now I see why so many people choose to upgrade to SSDs rather than make a build with them included from the start. I guess I'll see what losing the SSD does with my build prices. I went with a hard drive that small because that's all the space I'll ever need, and I don't see the sense in paying for more. Currently, I use a bit under 60 GB, all of my files and games included. As for the small physical size of the drive (laptop size), well, I didn't pay attention to that detail, and I'm still confused as to how that's a problem (then again, I've never actually built a system myself, so you tell me). As for the IB and Z77, I'm on the fence. I don't see any benefit of paying extra for Z77 over Z68, other than the fact that I can use IB with Z77 (can't with Z68, I'd need to have a non-IB processor to put into the mobo first, which I don't have). As for the 670, I'm sold on that. Is there a particular reason why you went with the EVGA one? The Gigabyte Windforce 670 is $18 cheaper.


As far as the SSD goes, I'll admit I was a skeptic until I got my M4, now I won't build a build without one. The reason I don't suggest laptop parts on desktop builds is because you have to fiddle with adapters and mounts in order for the drives to work and that's never a good thing. Then laptop drives are often way slower than desktop drives despite that the speeds are rated about the same - with a build like this you don't want to have anything be a bottleneck, and as far as how much storage - there's no such thing as too much.

Then for the video card the reason I recommend EVGA is they have probably the best support department on the market and they give you a 10 year warranty as opposed to Gigabyte's 3 year warranty. They also include a lot of nice extras like their Precision overclocking tool. The 670 is the best bang-for-buck video card out there, on some tests it even beats the 680.
June 29, 2012 6:51:02 PM

capt_davy said:
I've heard that 4.5 ghz is a fairly reliably achieved goal with the i5-2500k on air. What could I hold similar expectations to for an i5-3570k to achieve on air?


You can OC to 4.2 GHz, which equals 4.5 GHz on an i5-2500k. Temps will be relatively similar.

[u said:
And I've revamped the build to this. I'm guessing that the general consensus is that I should go with the 670, but seeing how I'll never go beyond single-monitor, 1920x1080 at 1080p while gaming or watching movies, how much extra performance would I get out of it over the 7850? (Ideally I'd compare it to the 660, which comes out soon I think, and is supposed to be slightly better than the 7850, but I'd rather not jump to conclusions just yet)]And I've revamped the build to this. I'm guessing that the general consensus is that I should go with the 670, but seeing how I'll never go beyond single-monitor, 1920x1080 at 1080p while gaming or watching movies, how much extra performance would I get out of it over the 7850? (Ideally I'd compare it to the 660, which comes out soon I think, and is supposed to be slightly better than the 7850, but I'd rather not jump to conclusions just yet)
[/u]

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/598?vs=549

As you can see, almost every game has a big difference in performance.
June 29, 2012 7:30:24 PM

g-unit1111 said:
As far as the SSD goes, I'll admit I was a skeptic until I got my M4, now I won't build a build without one. The reason I don't suggest laptop parts on desktop builds is because you have to fiddle with adapters and mounts in order for the drives to work and that's never a good thing. Then laptop drives are often way slower than desktop drives despite that the speeds are rated about the same - with a build like this you don't want to have anything be a bottleneck, and as far as how much storage - there's no such thing as too much.

Then for the video card the reason I recommend EVGA is they have probably the best support department on the market and they give you a 10 year warranty as opposed to Gigabyte's 3 year warranty. They also include a lot of nice extras like their Precision overclocking tool. The 670 is the best bang-for-buck video card out there, on some tests it even beats the 680.


Aaah, now I see. I never knew about that disparity between desktop and laptop HDDs. Thank you very much! Considering this, I've swapped out that HDD for the 500GB Samsung Spinpoint F3. I agree with you fully that I don't want to have a bottleneck in my system, especially the HDD. I honestly have no idea how to compare HDD speeds with GPU/CPU speeds, so I have no idea how much I'm bottlenecking my system, but I can certainly compare to the boot and load times of a similar system with a SSD.

About the video card, thank you very much on that info! I surfed the internet a bit, and I've got to say, I'm impressed with EVGA's customer support. However though, I notice that the 2670 version of their GTX 670 card is $400, and the 2678 version is $420, and there is a 100 mhz difference in stock clock speeds between the two cards. Is this a noticeable difference? For that matter, do they both have the same overclocking potential?

azeem40 said:
You can OC to 4.2 GHz, which equals 4.5 GHz on an i5-2500k. Temps will be relatively similar.



http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/598?vs=549

As you can see, almost every game has a big difference in performance.


Hm alright, I guess I'll switch to IB then. As for the GPU, wow I'm a little disappointed in the results for the 7850. I'll definitely try to scrape together the money for a 670.
June 29, 2012 7:43:36 PM

capt_davy said:
Aaah, now I see. I never knew about that disparity between desktop and laptop HDDs. Thank you very much! Considering this, I've swapped out that HDD for the 500GB Samsung Spinpoint F3. I agree with you fully that I don't want to have a bottleneck in my system, especially the HDD. I honestly have no idea how to compare HDD speeds with GPU/CPU speeds, so I have no idea how much I'm bottlenecking my system, but I can certainly compare to the boot and load times of a similar system with a SSD.

About the video card, thank you very much on that info! I surfed the internet a bit, and I've got to say, I'm impressed with EVGA's customer support. However though, I notice that the 2670 version of their GTX 670 card is $400, and the 2678 version is $420, and there is a 100 mhz difference in stock clock speeds between the two cards. Is this a noticeable difference? For that matter, do they both have the same overclocking potential?
.


Yeah the primary HDs are almost always going to be a bottleneck unless you're using an SSD. And a laptop HD will even further be a bottleneck, that Samsung drive is a good drive, I have the 1TB version.

As far as the video card goes - I'm sure they both probably overclock about the same. The FTW versions are made for overclocking and have a higher threshold for higher speeds and things like that.
!