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Sub $500USD core component upgrade

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July 11, 2012 8:05:53 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: within 1 month

Budget Range: less than $500 USD before rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Folding@Home, Casual-moderate gaming (some older titles and some newer but don't need max FPS or resolution), productivity, media storage/playback

Parts to Upgrade:
I am looking to buy the following:
PCPartPicker.com list
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K
Cooler: Xigmatek Gaia
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-M
RAM: Patriot Signature (2x4GB)

Already have the following:
NZXT case
OCZ Vertex 3 120GB, Seagate 1.5TB 7200RPM, and WD VelociRaptor 160GB 10,000RPM I will probably use this to install programs that are not speed critical
PCI 802.11 g network adapter (will consider replacing)
XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB
DVD Combo drive
Antec SP-500 (500W total, dual +12v rails @ 17A and 19A).

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com, Amazon.com, TigerDirect.com, any brick-and-mortar store website or nearby location.

Location: Akron, Ohio, USA: 44319

Parts Preferences: Intel, ASUS, G.Skill, CoolerMaster,...

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: No/Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

Why Are You Upgrading: To replace AMD/ DDR2 system, nothing was wrong except age and I had an itch to upgrade.

Comments:
I have put a good amount of thought into this upgrade, I keep tabs on hardware and such on a regular basis, I mostly wanted to run my choices by some people who may have hands-on experience with what I am looking to buy.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 11, 2012 8:24:25 PM

The old Antec Smartpower PSUs were notorious for failed capacitors. I would replace yours.
I would also choose a Xigmatek Gaia for the CPU cooler, as I cannot with clear conscious recommend any product from a company proven to be dishonest.
Your graphics card should be fine for your games at that resolution. If your NZXT case is a full-size, you might consider getting an ATX mobo for a second PCIE x16 slot; not for Crossfire, but to add a second card for F@H. Just a thought, if you have a specific PPD goal in mind. It would also allow you to fold while gaming. Just a thought...
July 11, 2012 8:58:43 PM

Thanks for the input. The PSU has been something I have wanted to replace since I bought it second-hand, but have had no problems with it so never got around to upgrading. If I were to upgrade do you have any suggestions for modestly priced 400-500W PSU's?
I am not sure what you mean by "a company proven to be dishonest", not that I am a CM fanboy but rather I must be ignorant of what you are referring to.
The Xigmatek Gaia looks very comparable and slightly less expensive, while providing some of the features I liked with the CM Hyper 212 EVO such as direct touch heatpipes and push/pull compatibility. It also did well in the article Roundup: Six Sub-$40 Performance CPU Coolers Compared and so I will be glad to make the substitution.
My case is the Apollo Explorer Black, not nearly as "cool" as I thought it was years ago when I bought it, I am actually looking to get the Corsair 300R as it is a bit more modest but has good features. However, adding a second GPU is not in the game-plan as I am newly married with a job (another reason to go to the Corsair 300R, the wife hates the "flashy" look of the NZXT), F@H has become less of a priority and more of a background task yet remains a good measure of a computers computational ability.
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
July 11, 2012 9:57:23 PM

If you go to HardwareSecrets and go over all their PSU reviews, you will find that many Crappermaster PSUs are not good for what's on their label, or they claim to have certain protection circuits that are actually missing. Here are some sample links:
LL=Liar Label, MC=Missing Circuits

1. LL: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-Ex...
2. MC: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-El...
3. LL AND MC: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-El...
4. LL: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-eX...
5. LL: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Cooler-Master-eX...
July 12, 2012 12:47:20 AM

Good info on CM PSU's, although that is specific to that line of products. I like the direct contact which several Xigmatek coolers have as well as the CM Hyper 212 (+/evo), what makes the Gaia better than others or is it just price?
a b B Homebuilt system
July 12, 2012 1:11:41 AM

It is cheaper. The differences among coolers of the same style (e.g. 120mm direct-touch tower) are pretty minimal, affected by number of heat pipes but also fan type and speed. The Gaia comes with the rubber pegs needed to mount an additional fan if desired. Rubber pegs rather than metal clips may also let it run quieter (some with the clips use rubber pads between fan and cooler; some don't). The PSU issues show that Crappermaster is willfully dishonest, and I point it out because a rational individual does not support dishonesty.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 12, 2012 1:16:07 AM

A quality modern PSU has full range active PFC (no little voltage switch) and some level of 80+ certification for efficiency. Seasonic, Antec, Corsair, XFX, FSP, and Enermalx/LEPA are among the better brands. Two notable exceptions that prove my "rules" (one in each direction) are the Antec VP-450, a non active PFC unit (has a voltage switch) that nevertheless possesses a modern design and high efficiency; and the Crappermaster GX650, summarized by HardOCP in their review as a "polished turd in a box."
July 12, 2012 4:48:43 PM

That's what I figured, and are the features I tend to use to filter my search of potential replacement PSU's. I would like to hear some more discussion about motherboard, cpu, and RAM and possibly get more people in the mix.
a b B Homebuilt system
July 12, 2012 10:56:23 PM

Ok. I think the rest of your parts are solid, and any differences are likely to be little more than niggling. Asus mobos are good, and I also like ASRock. Component quality is similar, and features for the price tends to be a little higher.
!