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First Build [Improvements and Suggestions]

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July 11, 2012 1:57:12 PM

This is going to be my first computer build and I just basically want some opinions on the components I have chosen/improvements I could make. I have done a fair bit of researching, looking for the best performance/quality I can get for my budget. I'm off to uni next year and have been given a budget for a new computer build, so even though I'm not a PC gaming enthusiast, I still want a very capable and reliable system that will last me for quite a few years. I have decided to make it a Micro-ATX build so it is easier to transport to and from uni. Any help you be greatly appreciated!

**********************************************

Approximate Purchase Date: Next Month

Budget Range: Around £900, about $1,400

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Internet & word processing/ Gaming/ Movies/ Downloading and extracting large files (ISO's mainly)

Are you buying a monitor: No, I have already bought a very good monitor for £60 in a deal. I have taken this off the budget already.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes, Windows 7. Hopefully I can get a student Windows 7 Professional upgrade for about £50, to upgrade from an old copy of XP.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon.co.uk. I have only ever had exceptional service from Amazon, so I am sure they will RMA any defective products with no questions - I don't mind if it is a little bit more expensive for the service (although they're usually cheapest anyway).

Location: Norwich, UK. No good PC component stores near me, online is generally cheaper.

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU and MOBO. Seasonic or Corsair PSU. Nvidia is preferable, but it looks like AMD have the best 'bang for buck' cards atm.

Overclocking: Maybe. Might slightly overclock my CPU (although not really needed), will probably overclock my GPU at some point, especially if I get a HD 7850 because of the massive OC headroom.

SLI or Crossfire: Possibly in the future.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

***********************************************

Build:
I will include links to Newegg although I won't be buying from them because they usually have detailed info.

CPU: i5 3570k, £177 at Amazon + Slightly better than stock cooler (£11)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005J2IS3U/ref=ox_sc...

Case: InWin Dragon Slayer Micro-ATX, £54 at Amazon
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: Undecided between ASUS P8Z77-M PRO (£107) and ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M (£101). The ASRock board is recommended a lot in the US because of the price, but in the UK the difference is negligible, so it comes down to which is the better board? I'm inclined towards ASUS, but opinions would be appreciated. I may also consider the ASUS Maximus V Gene for £149 at Amazon, if the price difference is actually worth it?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM: Either Corsair or G-Skill (probably corsair), whichever is cheapest really (both around £40 at Amazon)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: I was considering the GTX 560 ti Twin Frozr for £167 at Amazon, but now I think the performance increase for the HD 7850 (+OC) is well worth £20 more. I would probably get the Asus Radeon HD 7850 DirectCU II for £187. Any suggestions? Should I wait a bit to see what the 660 ti offers (use integrated in the mean time)? Is it even coming out soon?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD: Samsung 830 256GB, £157 at Amazon
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Undecided between Seasonic M12II-620 (£79) and Corsair CMPSU-650HX (£83.5) - the Corsair PSU has recently dropped in price. I may push the boat out and get a Seasonic X-660 (£124) if the benefits warrant it. Any other suggestions?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B004DRZI4Y/ref=ox_sc...

- I probably also need to factor in around £40 for a 120GB Sandisk Ultra SSD for my netbook that I will be using in lectures.
- With any left over money I could probably throw in a few of these fans for my case (4 additional fan slots):
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003S4XOB2/ref=ox_sc...
- I have an optical drive already

I think that's everything? Have I forgotten something.
Any help would be absolutely awesome; I'm new to this and very excited about my first build, but I want to make sure I make the most out of my budget! :D 
July 11, 2012 6:48:34 PM

I know it's a lot to read, but any input at all would be super! Thank you =)
July 11, 2012 6:54:27 PM

pretty decent build... i use integrated graphics till i get money for gpu :D 
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July 11, 2012 7:46:22 PM

I'm considering doing that too =) I really want to know what the GTX 660 ti will have to offer, but it was meant to be released ages ago! If it's to expensive it should also hopefully push down the prices for AMD cards too.

I think I have decided on the PSU now, so that's one less thing to think about; the Corsair HX-650 looks like the best option.
July 11, 2012 7:57:28 PM

Get a hyper 212 + or evo instead of that heatsink you have there.
July 11, 2012 8:09:57 PM

DarkOutlaw said:
Get a hyper 212 + or evo instead of that heatsink you have there.


Thanks for the input =) I'm not sure if them coolers would fit in my case as it's micro-ATX? Also, as I will only at most be doing a mild overclock and Ivy bridge runs cool, would a good third party cooler still be necessary?
What's the difference between the 212+ and Evo?
July 11, 2012 8:41:57 PM

I am a big fan of small cases.

I highly recommend the Silverstone TJ08E(see my sig) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The front 180mm fan is all I need for cooling, undervolted at that.
The case is a bit wider, and will hold any 160mm cpu cooler. It is virtually silent.

I strongly suggest at least a decent aftermarket cpu cooler. One with a slow turning 120mm fan will keep your rig cooler and quieter. I use a Prolimatech megahalems and a noctua fan. The cm hyper212 is inexpensive and will do the job.
The downdraft type cooler you linked to will not be much better than stock. It's 92mm fan will still be noisy.

I think I would go with the asus motherboard. The predecessor, P8P67-M pro has been good for me.

You will never make up the difference in cost of a gold rated psu. One good reason for gold rated is that it will be quieter because the fan will rately spin up. For the silverstone TJ-08E case do not buy an over length psu. There is limited room.

Love the ssd; samsung and Intel make the best.

As to which graphics card, I see no problem in using integrated graphics until you know exactly what you need.
In general,you will get what you pay for; the market is very competitive. Word is, that the GTX660 will be here early August.
For gaming, it is the graphics card that is all important. If your budget can handle a $400 GTX670, do that.
July 11, 2012 9:07:31 PM

geofelt said:
I am a big fan of small cases.

I highly recommend the Silverstone TJ08E(see my sig) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The front 180mm fan is all I need for cooling, undervolted at that.
The case is a bit wider, and will hold any 160mm cpu cooler. It is virtually silent.

I strongly suggest at least a decent aftermarket cpu cooler. One with a slow turning 120mm fan will keep your rig cooler and quieter. I use a Prolimatech megahalems and a noctua fan. The cm hyper212 is inexpensive and will do the job.
The downdraft type cooler you linked to will not be much better than stock. It's 92mm fan will still be noisy.

I think I would go with the asus motherboard. The predecessor, P8P67-M pro has been good for me.

You will never make up the difference in cost of a gold rated psu. One good reason for gold rated is that it will be quieter because the fan will rately spin up. For the silverstone TJ-08E case do not buy an over length psu. There is limited room.

Love the ssd; samsung and Intel make the best.

As to which graphics card, I see no problem in using integrated graphics until you know exactly what you need.
In general,you will get what you pay for; the market is very competitive. Word is, that the GTX660 will be here early August.
For gaming, it is the graphics card that is all important. If your budget can handle a $400 GTX670, do that.


I love smaller pc's and think they're the way forward. With the amount of features they can cram on a micro-ATX board nowadays I don't think there is much need for ATX IMO.

I really do love that case and was considering it at one point, but it is £90 in the UK, so I'm not really sure it warrants the extra price tag just for extra room for a CPU cooler?

As for a cpu cooler, would a low profile one be sufficient? The Zalman CNPS8900 Extreme is very well praised at FrostyTech.com:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Zalman-CNPS8900-Extreme-Heatsin...

Do you think that this cooler would be a good choice?

Thanks for motherboard input; that's been a tough choice I have been debating for a while, so I think I will finally just bite the bullet and go for the ASUS. (I think I partly wanted the ASRock because its colour scheme would look awesome in my black case with yellow fans ^_^ I have heard better things about the ASUS and it's not like you see the inside of the internals regularly).

I think you might be right there; bide my time and wait until the 660 ti is out or other cards drop in price.

Thanks so much for all your help!
July 11, 2012 9:18:17 PM

I do not much like the proprietary fans of many zalman colers. But at 110mm, it is better than stock.
One problem with downdraft coolers is that they do not send the heat anywhere, and depend on case cooling to do the job.

Can you supply a web site from which you will purchase?
Perhaps we canfind a different case.

With your budget, I think it may be penny wise and pound foolish to not gat a good cooling case.

Have you considered the ITX format?
July 11, 2012 9:31:43 PM

geofelt said:
I do not much like the proprietary fans of many zalman colers. But at 110mm, it is better than stock.
One problem with downdraft coolers is that they do not send the heat anywhere, and depend on case cooling to do the job.

Can you supply a web site from which you will purchase?
Perhaps we canfind a different case.

With your budget, I think it may be penny wise and pound foolish to not gat a good cooling case.

Have you considered the ITX format?


I will be buying from Amazon.co.uk because I have only ever had excellent service from them and it is generally cheapest. Other places such as NovaTech or Scan may have occasional cheaper deals, but their customer service does not compare.

What about a Scythe Shuriken? They're meant to be OK. Or any other low profile cooler?

I have read many reviews on the InWin Dragon slayer and it is supposed to have exceptional cooling; it has 8 chassis fans with dust filters. I am more than willing to search for another case that may be better quality/cooling though.

I haven't considered ITX, have you had a positive experience with it? It's smaller than Micro-ATX, right? That could be another possibility + would be excellent for portability =)
July 11, 2012 9:51:37 PM

I am using a lian li Q08 ITX case as my backup pc. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
The red color, if you can find one, is stunning.

It holds a full sized graphics card and psu. I am contemplating using it on the next upgrade as my gaming pc.
The stock 140mm intake fan provides plenty of cooling.
It does need a low profile cpu cooler.
The scythe big shiruken is one good one that I know will fit.
The Noctua NH-L12 is supposed to fit. The thermalright AXP140 has a 140mm fan that also fits.
July 12, 2012 3:03:07 PM

That does look like a really cool case, but looking at the dimensions it's not exactly small compared to other micro-ATX cases, just shorter. Definitely a good possibility though; what are the limitations of ITX boards over Micro-ATX, is there not much in it?

Do you know of any decent sub £30 coolers that are <100mm? I know that's a big ask, but I don't really want to spend much on a cooler because I will be barely overclocking.
July 12, 2012 3:42:06 PM

I'm actually seriously considering a mini-ITX pc now for it's portability. I'm not a massive PC gamer, so I could ditch the discrete graphics card and just use integrated for a very small form factor PC. How do you think this would affect overall system performance? Obviously it won't be good for gaming, but what about everything else? Does the gpu play a huge role in windows responsiveness? Sorry about all the questions :na: 

I could use this board which is apparently very good: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Any other mobo's you recommend?

I would then get:
- Ivy bridge i5 3570k
- Probably lower power PSU
- Same RAM?
- A very small case
- Single SSD
- Low profile CPU cooler

I have a dell inspiron 580 desktop atm, so I could upgrade the PSU and GPU slightly to allow for decent gaming on lower resolutions. This mini-ITX pc would then be good for taking to uni & hopefully be very fast

Does this sound like a good idea?
July 12, 2012 4:13:10 PM

don't forget to pick me as best answer ;) 
July 12, 2012 5:01:00 PM

Haha sorry mate, I can't choose any best answers because this is a discussion thread ;)  I just wanted opinions and helpful suggestions for improvements, but now it turns out I may be starting by build anew with a ITX form factor xD
!