Questions about computer components

hello everyone,

first of all, I apologize if this is not the place to ask these questions, I'm relatively new to this website, and to hardware in general

I'm currently looking into buying/building a custom system, and I have several questions about the components

I have done some research, but I have to admit I'm not very tech-savvy, I know the basics, and after dismantling/rebuilding my old computer i'm also fairly confident that I can put the pieces in the right places (if I end up building it myself)

as for my purposes, I mostly plan to play games (Dark Souls when it comes out, Crysis 2, The Witcher 2, Skyrim (with the enhanced texture pack) and several online games)

in the background I would probably run several instant messengers, a music program and my Razer drivers (keyboard, mouse, etc.) and some misc. programs

I have about a 3000 dollar budget (preferably under 2750 dollars)

now onto the questions


IF I'm going for AMD, would an FX-6100 with a higher clock rate be better then an FX-8120 with more cores? I read something about that, but I didn't fully understand (keep your advice to these two processors, please)

IF I'm going for Intel, can someone explain to me what the differences are? they look a lot more confusing to me, I understand that the Ivy bridge and Sandy Bridge are the latest, but at a glance, they look identical, what am I missing? (could be I'm missing the stuff I don't understand)

Motherboard: no idea what to look for in one of these, any and all advice is welcome

one thing I did understand was that they only support a limited amount of RAM (the one I was looking at had 4 slots and could only support 32GB..., I assume that's plenty, but if I wanted more, would there be a way to increase this limit? since Windows 7 Pro can support a LOT more, and I think it's odd that an OS would be able to support more than the actual hardware)

Graphics Card: a Radeon HD 7850 was my first choice, is it worth upgrading to the 7950/7970? what are the differences performance-wise? (again, keep it between these cards, please)

I was told by someone that "Radeon Cards tend to fail a lot" is this true? and if so, would the card specified below be an equal or better alternative?

I also saw the GeForce GTX 680, would this be a enough, or would an upgrade to the GeForce GTX 690 be recommended?

on a sidenote, I noticed that there are a lot of different "versions" of the same card..., I saw an ASUS variation of the GTX 680 card, an EVGA version, and several others, what gives? what are the differences?

RAM: I was looking at 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 RAM (PC17000, at 2133MHz or something? what are these specs anyway?) would an upgrade to 16GB (4x4GB) give me a noticeable increase in performance? (Mushkin Enhanced, Redline series)

also, would 32GB(4x8GB) of RAM at 1600Mhz (PC12800) be better or worse? (G.SKILL, Ripjaws series)

Power Supply: would 750W suffice? or would it need a bit more oomph? I might consider upgrading to 850W if necessary (Corsair brand)

Case: I was considering the NZXT Gamma Classic (mid-tower) but I have some space in my budget to play with other ideas, I don't need flashy exteriors or LED's and such

Cooling: liquid cooling would be a big plus, and I like the thought of a zero-maintenance liquid cooling system, is there anything you can point me to? (did some browsing at Antec and Cooler Master)

Hard Drives: I read about SSD's and their superior speed, so I wanted one to install windows on, and maybe my favorite games and my general programs, but that's it, so 120GB would suffice, however, that's just the capacity, what are the other things I need to pay attention to when making my selection?

I also wanted a secondary normal Hard Drive (preferably several TB's in size) to install the rest of my games on, and my videos and music, capacity I know, but again, what are the things I need to look out for in terms of performance?

now for a general performance: SSD vs normal HD, are there any drawbacks? will an SSD last just as long as a normal HD? will the performance stay the same?

Network: what are the differences between an integrated network card and a dedicated one? won't they both work just as well?

Sound Card: same as the above, is it worth getting a dedicated sound card (I do want 7.1 surround sound)

thank you all, I hope you managed to struggle through the wall of text and I hope you can show me the ropes to building my own custom gaming rig!

friendly greetings,

14 answers Last reply
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  1. ok, so I also apologize for not using the correct template, but I didn't notice the guide thread until after I posted it, and I don't see an edit button (I used the "ask the community" box on the side of a different thread before registering)
  2. MSI Z77A-GD65 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS - $180

    Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Quad-Core Desktop Processor - $230

    CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler - $115

    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 2133MHz Desktop Memory - $60

    Crucial M4 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) - $210

    Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $120

    GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 SLI Support Video Card - $400

    ASUS DVD Burner Black SATA Model DRW-24B3ST/BLK/G/AS - $27

    SeaSonic M12II 750W SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply - $130

    Corsair Carbide Series 300R Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $80

    Total: $1552 :)
  3. The Noctua is better price/performance and is only 1C less in cooling. Not worth the price difference.
  4. @ujaansona: though I appreciate the full build, it doesn't answer any of my questions (aside from recommendations, perhaps) I'll look at the components and see what I can learn

    if there is anyone who can answer any of my other questions, I'd be happy to hear it
  5. CPU
    - no clue on AMD
    - the 3570K is the newer, die-shrunk version of the 2500K and is *very* roughly 10% faster clock for clock
    - for gaming, you don't need hyperthreading (and a 3770 or 2600)

    - depends on which CPU you get

    - 8GB (2 x 4GB) is recommended, 16GB is overkill but reasonable for the future given current prices
    - there's no noticable difference going above 1600MHz (you will see it in benches if that's your thing)
    - if you go with intel, they like 1.5V ram the best

    - given what you listed, I'd get a 7970 with a non-reference cooler assuming you get a well ventilated case
    - never seen evidence of radeon failing more

    - 750W on a good one (Seasonic, Corsair, XFX) is plenty even to SLI/CF modern cards
    - get modular to reduce clutter in the case

    - Carbide 500r is roomy and solid, good acoustics and thermals
    - if you want quieter and don't plan to run multiple cards or overclock a lot, the Fractal Define R3 looks like a winner

    - unless you plan to build a very expensive custom loop, don't bother
    - a good air cooler (even cheap like Evo) are very effective - think Noctua DH-14 is the higher end air alternative to the H100 self-contained water unit

    - Samsumg 830, Crucial m4, Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe all get praise on these boards for speed and reliability
    - any SATA3 drive (heck even my SATA2) will feel much, much faster than a HDD
    - check the interwebs for SSD setup tips - too many to list here
    - hard to say about how long an SSD will last - it depends on how you use it but my theory is that by the time mine wears out I'll be able to get a bigger, faster one for cheaper so it's not a big deal

    - caviar black, spinpoint F3 (I think), or a barracuda in whatever capacity you need

    - integrated is fine, no tangible benefit from a separate card

    Sound card
    - ear of the beholder but if you're going to use it as a home theater would think a Creative or Asus Xonar would be a safe bet

    You ask too many questions...
  6. @J_E_D_70: yeah, I ask a lot of questions, it's because I'm new to hardware, what I cannot learn myself, I have to ask others

    thank you for answering so many of them though (I'll have to check and filter the unanswered ones) your advice is appreciated

    <filtering ensues>

    then a starting build would be as follows:

    -Intel 3570K or AMD FX6100/8120 (advice on AMD would be appreciated, 6 or 8 cores? IF it's going to be AMD)

    -still looking for advice on this

    -8GB DDR3 (2x4GB) 1600MHz (possible to upgrade to 16GB)

    Graphics Card:
    -Radeon HD 7970 with an aftermarket cooler (any products that fit the bill?) or GeForce GTX 680 (experiences or advice, as always, are appreciated)

    Power Supply:
    -750W bronze/silver/gold certified (modular)

    -NZXT Gamma Classic (own choice, no positive or negative comments here?) or Corsair Carbide 300R/500R, I'm not planning to expand a whole lot, maybe another HD once the first one starts filling up

    -Corsaid H100, not to reject any advice, but I'd prefer liquid cooling

    Hard Drives:
    -SSD, Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe 120GB (maybe a higher capacity)
    -HDD, Seagate Barracuda 2TB

    -integrated network card

    Sound Card:
    -I have a surround sound headset (Razer Megalodon) so unless the motherboard supports 7.1 surround sound, I'd get a dedicated sound card


    that would be a build I have in mind, any comments? I'm afraid I can't link anywhere at the moment, since this computer will crash if I open more then one tab (my own computer died, hence I'm looking for a new one, to avoid using this one that can't handle anything)

    if someone would be willing to spend a little time on researching a rough pricetag, I would be grateful (I'm trying to find an opportunity to do it myself)
  7. quick question, if I buy these products, will the wiring come with it, or will I have to get that seperately?

    I'd hate to get all the components and find that there is nothing to connect them with...
  8. Was just teasing there.

    At any rate:
    mobo (no clue on AMD)
    - ASRock Z77 Extreme4 if you don't have a ton of USB devices and don't use the dying Firewire connector
    - if you are afraid of the newcomer, most any Z77 from Asus, Gigabyte, or MSI -- the key is to review the types and numbers of connectors that meet your needs

    GPU (again, assuming a good ventilation like a 500R)
    would get the same type Gigabyte 670 if you go that route (680 is not worth the $100 premium)

    Looks like you're on the right track.

    Yes, all the components *should* come with everything you need (check to see if any drive you buy that is OEM still comes with cables - some don't).
  9. @J_E_D_70: had me worried there for a second, glad I wasn't being a bother

    for the motherboard, more USB ports would be a plus, since everything I have is connected through those (this PC is stuffed to capacity with 6 back and 2 front ports)

    I haven't even heard of FireWire, so I doubt that's going to be an issue, but types and connectors? I know in practice where my video card goes, and where the other connections go, but what they're called, no idea, the motherboard presents the most issues for me, the others I can roughly judge as "the higher the numbers, the better" (note: ROUGHLY)

    the graphics card, Radeon HD 7970, you mentioned a "non-reference cooler" I would have to buy one seperately? or is that the one you linked?

    I did have another question about graphics cards, how come there are different variations? Radeon is an AMD product, right? how come Gigabyte, MSI and other companies release variations? what are the differences?

    the fact that the cables are included helps

    once I have my final build, and the components, I take it there's a guide on here that helps with installing everything properly? I have confidence in putting everything in the right place, but I'm not sure what to look out for with a system that isn't dead or supposed to be dead (that, and how to install windows on the correct drive)

    anyway, with this, most of my questions have been answered (aside from these new ones)

    I'll do some more research with the mentioned parts as a reference, and make a more detailed build, in the meantime, if there is anyone who knows anything about AMD, please let me know
  10. The ASRock z77 Extreme6 has more USB ports so I'd go that route (I use three so it wasn't an issue).

    Yep, the video card I linked is "non-reference." The reference models typically have an enclosed shroud the length of the card and a fan in the back that blows the hot air out of the case. That's great, but they are noisier than the card I linked.

    The variations are in clock/ram speed (some are overclocked out of the box with a factory warranty), cooling design, length of the card, quality of the parts. It's a big game to differentiate their card from other manufacturers. It does get highly confusing.

    Check youtube for how-to videos or snag a copy of Maximum PC off the newsstand (check inside first to see if that issue has a build guide in one of the articles - most do).
  11. 1.CPU: The key difference here is how much work each CPU can get done per clock cycle. Intel's Ivy Bridge/Sandy Bridge CPUs are much more efficient at that than any of AMD's current processors. The result is when running at the same clockspeed, the Intel CPU will be about 25%-35% faster than its AMD counterpart.

    If you are looking strictly for a gaming CPU, get the Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge.

    2.Motherboard: It's got Tom’s Hardware Award, Militarily Class III. So it's durable for heavy duty use. It has 14 USB ports! I doubt very much, that you'll ever need more than that!

    3.Cooler: You wanted good liquid cooling solution, hence you got it.

    4.RAM: For your purpose, 8GB is plenty. If you ever need more, just drop in two sticks or buy 16GB kit (4x4GB), though it's really overkill.

    5.GPU: GTX670 is one of the most powerful top tier graphics cards, fully comparable with the radeon HD7970. It competes almost neck to neck with GTX680, which costs $100 more!

    6.PSU: If you want to SLI later, I have listed new PSU above in my build.

    You don't need Network & Sound Card. The motherboard comes with Realtek ALC898 Audio Chipset & 8 Audio Channels + onboard LAN.
  12. Quick note on MSI and military spec - that's just marketing. We rarely buy milspec anything as far as components, we just get commercial items that are ruggedized. If MSI's components were tested to higher levels that old milspecs called for they would cost significantly more. That being said, Asus, Gigabyte, ASRock, and MSI all make acceptable hardware.
  13. right, those are some comprehensive answers, I'm, VERY, slowly looking for my build (both for Intel and AMD, see which one would get the best "grade")

    I'm not looking for a computer that is 100% focused on gaming, I also browse the web a lot, chat, watch videos, etc. so I don't know if that makes a real difference?

    my next reply will come with a build (hopefully) that I'm looking at, including links and a price, I did notice that newegg doesn't ship to Europe (specifically, the Netherlands) so does anyone know a good shop that ships there? (doesn't need to be in dutch)

    I'll use ujaansona's build as a reference, with both your suggestions (maybe change a few things if I find what looks like a better product within the budget)

    thank you for your input up til now, and I hope you can criticize my build when it's done
  14. well, with a lot of patience, I managed to come up with a build (with options for both Intel or AMD / Radeon or GeForce)

    could someone tell me if every component is compatible with the others? (I won't run out of slots on the motherboard or anything? and no issues with the case either?)

    I didn't like the Carbide series for some reason, so I dropped those, and instead I have several other options

    once I have decided on my case, I would also like to fill all optional fan slots, but I'm not sure what the maximum fan size is for each case, I'd be grateful if someone could help me with that:

    -COOLER MASTER HAF XM RC-922XM-KKN1 Black Mesh, Plastic, Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    -Antec Three Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case with Upgraded 2 x USB 3.0

    -NZXT GAMMA Classic Series GAMA-001BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case


    -GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD5 AM3+ AMD 990FX SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

    -GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard


    -AMD FX-6200 Zambezi 3.8GHz (4.1GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Six-Core Desktop Processor FD6200FRGUBOX

    -Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I53570K


    -GIGABYTE GV-R797OC-3GD Radeon HD 7970 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

    -GIGABYTE GV-N670OC-2GD GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    Hard Drive:
    -Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    I would only pick one of these

    -Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe MX MKNSSDCR120GB-MX 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    -Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR240GB 2.5" 240GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

    -CORSAIR Professional Series HX750 (CMPSU-750HX) 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    -G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000) Desktop Memory Model F3-17000CL11D-8GBXL

    I'm not sure which of these would be the best, I have heard, and read good things about all of them (both the brands and the products)

    -Thermaltake CLW0217 Water 2.0 Extreme/All-In-One Liquid Cooling System

    -CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

    -Antec KUHLER H2O 920 Liquid Cooling System

    Optical Drive(s):
    - 2x ASUS DVD Burner Black SATA Model DRW-24B3ST/BLK/G/AS

    -Asus VH238H Black 23" Full HD HDMI LED Backlight LCD Monitor w/Speakers

    Wireless Network Adapter:
    -ASUS USB-N53 Black Diamond Dual Band (2.4GHz 300Mbps/5GHz 300Mbps) Wireless-N USB Adapter, Graphical Easy Interface, Live Signal Monitor

    price would be between 1765 dollars (AMD+GeForce) and 2025 dollars (Intel+Radeon)
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