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Need Advice for New Gaming Build

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July 12, 2012 1:31:38 PM

I'm looking to build a gaming desktop and have been using Battlefield 3 as my benchmark. I've been doing a ton of research, trying to balance budget with value and longevity should I want to add some additional components down the line. It seems that no matter what I find, there's something better for $50 more or not quite as good for $50 less where you won't notice a performance difference. I have an $800 budget, though I'd like as far below that as possible. Here's what I'm looking at so far -

Sentey Extreme Division GS-6600 - $124.98 Newegg

CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W - $64.99 Newegg w/rebate

ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 - $127.86 Newegg

Intel i5-2500K - $169.99 Microcenter

Kingston Technology Hyper X 8GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP X2 Grey Series - $52.98 Amazon

XFX Double D HD-695X-CDFC Radeon HD 6950 - $229.99 Newegg w/rebate

A few notes -
1. I'm only looking for the components above. Hard Drive, CD Drive, Monitor, OS, Keyboard, Mouse, etc. are taken care of.
2. I'm not planning to overclock (right now anyway)
3. The case may be overkill in size, but I really like it, so I'll go for it unless I find something better. Plus it has room for future growth.

Questions -
1. Is a 650W power supply sufficient?
2. Is the motherboard a good choice?
3. Does PCI-e 3.0 perform much better than 2.0?
4. Is the graphics card a good choice?
5. Are there any potential bottlenecks?

Appreciate the advice!

More about : advice gaming build

July 12, 2012 1:44:45 PM

1. Yes, more than enough.
2. Yeah, best value IMO.
3. Not really on current hardware at least.
4. Yup, though last gen. Have a look at 7850s too.
5. Nope.
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July 12, 2012 2:19:36 PM

ItsAboutTheGame said:
Thanks, that helps a lot! I'm looking at the 7850s and if I can nab one at a good price, I'll probably go with that over the 6950.

Could I get away with a 600W PSU?

Also, there's one other motherboard I've been looking at -

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157265

Thoughts on that one?



A 600W PSU is plenty of power for a single GPU system.

That mobo is also a good one, but if you are ever planning on adding a SSD to your setup (you didnt add which hard drives you have to your listing) it would be better to go with the Z68 mobo.
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July 12, 2012 2:40:19 PM

dalmvern said:
A 600W PSU is plenty of power for a single GPU system.

That mobo is also a good one, but if you are ever planning on adding a SSD to your setup (you didnt add which hard drives you have to your listing) it would be better to go with the Z68 mobo.


One more PSU question: How much power would I need if I were to Crossfire x2 7850's? I'm trying to get a feel for power requirements.

Ah, I missed that the P67 was incompatible with SSD. I currently have a regular 500GB 5400rpm HDD, but I'm waiting for Black Friday to get an SSD. I'll just go with my Z68 choice then.
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July 12, 2012 2:58:28 PM

dalmvern said:
Well, P67 is not incompatible with SSDs, its just that Z68 allows SSD cacheing...here read this. http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/forum/hardware-canucks-r...


Caching isn't better than using the SSD as a boot drive. Caching is an economical way to speed up a HDD-based system since 20-40GB drives are recommended for caching. Now that you can get a 128GB SSD for under $100, it's really irrelevant in a desktop like this one.

@OP - there have been some pretty good sales on SSDs if you're a subscriber to their emails. There's a Mushkin Callisto SATA III drive on sale for $90 today, and Crucial M4s have dropped in price to ~$100. Literally watch the prices every day, as the sales are at seemingly random times; 2 days ago the Samsung 830 128GB went on sale for $90 and were sold out very quickly.

I would recommend Intel, Crucial or Samsung drives rather than OCZ or some other Sandforce drives.
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July 12, 2012 3:10:37 PM

boiler1990 said:
Caching isn't better than using the SSD as a boot drive. Caching is an economical way to speed up a HDD-based system since 20-40GB drives are recommended for caching. Now that you can get a 128GB SSD for under $100, it's really irrelevant in a desktop like this one.

@OP - there have been some pretty good sales on SSDs if you're a subscriber to their emails. There's a Mushkin Callisto SATA III drive on sale for $90 today, and Crucial M4s have dropped in price to ~$100. Literally watch the prices every day, as the sales are at seemingly random times; 2 days ago the Samsung 830 128GB went on sale for $90 and were sold out very quickly.

I would recommend Intel, Crucial or Samsung drives rather than OCZ or some other Sandforce drives.



Yeah I agree that Cacheing isnt better than using the SSD as a boot drive, im just throwing out some options and a reason why to use the Z68 chipset rather than P67. Im of the school of thought that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish he will never go hungry.

And yes, if I were to recommend a SSD, I would say Crucial or Samsung as well. Sandforce has gotten better, but people still have a lot of issues with them and Intel is just too expensive IMO.
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July 12, 2012 3:24:12 PM

I've not looked much into SSD's in the past, so I was unaware of the Cacheing feature. Even if I don't use it, from reading that article, I'd still probably go with the Z68.

I am planning to use an SSD as a boot drive, but considering I'm a PC gamer among all my other computer related work, I could fill a 128GB pretty quickly. Really to use a straight SSD, I'd need 512GB at least, which is far out of my price range.

So is it possible to partition an SSD to use part as the boot drive and the rest for Cacheing? That would probably be the best solution for me until prices on higher capacity SSD's get more reasonable.

@boiler1990 - Thanks for the input. I wish I'd known about that sale, I totally would have picked one up! I'll be sure to keep an eye out.

Quote:
Im of the school of thought that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish he will never go hungry.


I pretty much live by that saying :) 
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July 12, 2012 3:37:13 PM

ItsAboutTheGame said:
I've not looked much into SSD's in the past, so I was unaware of the Cacheing feature. Even if I don't use it, from reading that article, I'd still probably go with the Z68.

I am planning to use an SSD as a boot drive, but considering I'm a PC gamer among all my other computer related work, I could fill a 128GB pretty quickly. Really to use a straight SSD, I'd need 512GB at least, which is far out of my price range.

So is it possible to partition an SSD to use part as the boot drive and the rest for Cacheing? That would probably be the best solution for me until prices on higher capacity SSD's get more reasonable.



Personally I never had that option to use cacheing since im using a 1156 socket CPU (as you see in my sig) but I bought an 80 GB SSD, installed my OS and key programs, then everything else I install to my HDD. All of my games are on my HDD. I mean honestly you wont see a big difference in any gaming with it installed on a SSD, but the boot time of your OS will go WAY down if you use it as a boot drive. The larger drives typically have faster read/write speeds, but im more than happy with my 80GB drive.
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July 12, 2012 3:47:02 PM

dalmvern said:
Personally I never had that option to use cacheing since im using a 1156 socket CPU (as you see in my sig) but I bought an 80 GB SSD, installed my OS and key programs, then everything else I install to my HDD. All of my games are on my HDD. I mean honestly you wont see a big difference in any gaming with it installed on a SSD, but the boot time of your OS will go WAY down if you use it as a boot drive. The larger drives typically have faster read/write speeds, but im more than happy with my 80GB drive.


Well I'm (more) convinced about getting an SSD. I'll definitely do a full OS install then I suppose I'll try the cacheing if I'm able. I do realize it won't really affect much besides load times, but hey, if I can gain a few seconds per program, might as well.

I guess my only other question at this point is what is an SSD's lifespan, considering it's flash memory and all?
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July 12, 2012 3:47:55 PM

Yes you will see a significant difference in level load times in games. I would sometimes enter a level to be shot by somebody that had already loaded and found me. Now I have no probs with the games on my 3GB ssd. BTW it is an OCZ Agillity 3 that was on for just over $200. And as far as bashing Sandforce - Intel also uses Sandforce in their 520 series.
-Bruce
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July 12, 2012 4:01:24 PM

dish_moose said:
Yes you will see a significant difference in level load times in games. I would sometimes enter a level to be shot by somebody that had already loaded and found me. Now I have no probs with the games on my 3GB ssd. BTW it is an OCZ Agillity 3 that was on for just over $200. And as far as bashing Sandforce - Intel also uses Sandforce in their 520 series.
-Bruce


I dont think we were quite bashing Sandforce, just not recommending it. Personally my SSD is an OCZ Agility 2 SATA 3.0 GB/s drive and it seems like I am one of the few people who has never had an issue with their drive. Statistically there have been many more issues with Sandforce SSDs than the non-sandforce ones.
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July 12, 2012 5:47:00 PM

I like the build. Though the case seems like an odd choice, I'm not a huge follower of cases, but the one you linked is 110$ and i've never heard of the manufacturer, and it has 4 reviews. It could still be fine, by try searching newegg for Most Reviews (http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategor...)
Most of the cases that have 500+ reviews and 4.5+ eggs are worth considering as replacements, usually they get to that point by being well designed cases at their price point; but the case you chose does seem pretty cool, I've just been burned a few times by cases which aren't all their cracked up to be (I own an Element G, and dread having to add things to my PC, so much hate for my case, next build I am replacing it for sure).

Now, regarding SSDs, if you make effective use of the mklink command (or use SteamMover), you can use your SSD to store a handful of games that you play actively, while leaving the rest of the library on your HDD, making it much easier to use a small SSD for gaming.
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July 12, 2012 7:08:33 PM

djscribbles said:
I like the build. Though the case seems like an odd choice, I'm not a huge follower of cases, but the one you linked is 110$ and i've never heard of the manufacturer, and it has 4 reviews. It could still be fine, by try searching newegg for Most Reviews (http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategor...)
Most of the cases that have 500+ reviews and 4.5+ eggs are worth considering as replacements, usually they get to that point by being well designed cases at their price point; but the case you chose does seem pretty cool, I've just been burned a few times by cases which aren't all their cracked up to be (I own an Element G, and dread having to add things to my PC, so much hate for my case, next build I am replacing it for sure).

Now, regarding SSDs, if you make effective use of the mklink command (or use SteamMover), you can use your SSD to store a handful of games that you play actively, while leaving the rest of the library on your HDD, making it much easier to use a small SSD for gaming.


I've had the worst time settling on a case. My two biggest preferences are having all of the front bay connections vertical on top and no swinging door on the front. Due to room constraints on my desk, my PC sits on the floor, and having front bay connections horizontally in the front is just asking for an accident. I use front USB and audio connections often, so it's an important consideration on my part. As for the door, I have one on my current build, and I just find it a nuisance.

I've looked through hundreds of cases on Newegg, and narrowed it down to 4 or 5, the GS-6600 being my top choice so far. The Newegg review video certainly helped me to get a better feel of the case. I like the look, size, fan placement, front-top ports, filters, etc. If I had $200+ to spend on a case I'd pick something else, but I really don't want to spend that much.

Maybe I'm just being nitpicky lol Suggestions are certainly welcome.

And yes, thank you, that's probably what I'm going to do. I researched partitioned SSD Cacheing, and while it works, it's not necessarily all it's cracked up to be. I'd rather have more control over what actually loads faster by just installing specific games and programs to the SSD. Plus Cacheing can lower the life of the SSD...
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July 12, 2012 8:33:08 PM

If you're looking at a case in that price range, I would recommend the Silverstone RV02. It has an extremely efficient cooling design, and the newest update has better 180mm fans. I'm not sure how well the RV03 does in comparison, but I had 3 GTX 470s and they ran at 65C max.

Z68 is a better choice simply because you get onboard video at the least, so if the GPU goes bad or something you can still use the PC, just not for games.

Intel's drives are great and worth the price difference IMO. They use customized controllers and drivers, thing that make their Sandforce drive (520) more reliable than most of the others (namely OCZ). It seems like OCZ has had more issues than anyone else, even with the Indilinx controller, so I wonder if they just have a bad design or manufacturing process.
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July 12, 2012 9:59:19 PM

boiler1990 said:
If you're looking at a case in that price range, I would recommend the Silverstone RV02. It has an extremely efficient cooling design, and the newest update has better 180mm fans. I'm not sure how well the RV03 does in comparison, but I had 3 GTX 470s and they ran at 65C max.

Z68 is a better choice simply because you get onboard video at the least, so if the GPU goes bad or something you can still use the PC, just not for games.

Intel's drives are great and worth the price difference IMO. They use customized controllers and drivers, thing that make their Sandforce drive (520) more reliable than most of the others (namely OCZ). It seems like OCZ has had more issues than anyone else, even with the Indilinx controller, so I wonder if they just have a bad design or manufacturing process.


What I meant was I saw a few over $200 that were really nice, but I'd never pay that much... I don't want to go over $125 for a case and even that's pushing it... nonetheless, the RV02 is pretty sweet O_o

Ah, good to know about the Z68.

Well, I'm pretty much settled now on everything but the case. I'm going to get the 7850 instead of the 6950 and I'll pick up an SSD eventually. I'll probably get a Samsung as I've had plenty of good experiences with their products. Intel's just a bit overpriced for me.
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July 12, 2012 10:11:29 PM

Cases are hard man. You've got a lot of solid choices in the $50-100 range too. The Cooler Master HAF 912 and 922 are fairly large for midtowers, and have some nice cable routing unlike Antec's cheaper cases.

Corsair's cases are nice, but very pricey. Not worth the price difference honestly.

If you prefer a smaller case/build, you could easily go with a mATX board rather than a full ATX board and get a smaller case. You'll still be able to have a good CPU and GPU onboard, it will just be a smaller package.
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July 12, 2012 10:48:07 PM

boiler1990 said:
Cases are hard man. You've got a lot of solid choices in the $50-100 range too. The Cooler Master HAF 912 and 922 are fairly large for midtowers, and have some nice cable routing unlike Antec's cheaper cases.

Corsair's cases are nice, but very pricey. Not worth the price difference honestly.

If you prefer a smaller case/build, you could easily go with a mATX board rather than a full ATX board and get a smaller case. You'll still be able to have a good CPU and GPU onboard, it will just be a smaller package.


Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that cases are difficult. I'd prefer to get a midtower. I'll just need to keep looking. I'll probably need to lean towards budget over looks. I noticed lots of cases have bottom mounted PSU slots now. Are you supposed to mount the PSU fan up or fan down? And if down, wouldn't that give very little breathing room?
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July 12, 2012 11:28:22 PM

It depends on the case. The PSUs with the fans mounted down have mesh to pull air in, and it exhausts out the rear.
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July 12, 2012 11:57:30 PM

I would get an aftermarket cooler first so I dont struggle getting off the thermal compound
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July 13, 2012 12:49:27 PM

ItsAboutTheGame said:
Glad I'm not the only one who thinks that cases are difficult. I'd prefer to get a midtower. I'll just need to keep looking. I'll probably need to lean towards budget over looks. I noticed lots of cases have bottom mounted PSU slots now. Are you supposed to mount the PSU fan up or fan down? And if down, wouldn't that give very little breathing room?


Yeah, I hate buying cases also; it's too easy for really annoying design aspects to be hidden. If you have a good local PC store, buying in person can be much better because you can actually look at the thing and make sure you like the design, plus you get free shipping which can save a bundle.

The last two purchases I've made were the HAF922 for a friend build, liked it enough I put my wife in an HAF912, which I also liked (but not quite as nice as the 922). The HAF922 is a seriously nice case, worth considering if you like the front panel layout, it's got interior switches for turning off LEDs if thats not your thing, it was amazingly quiet for all the fans, and it's got lots of space behind the mobo to run cables, with loops to zip-em down to (and comes with zip ties). The 912 unfortunately lacks most of those features, but is a well setup budget case, easy enough to put together and no annoying features that I found (much better than my case).

Of course, your case may very well be fine, just from a quick flip through the pictures on newegg they have a lot of interesting ideas, however it's not a mainstream case, so it's hard to say if it's really well executed. It just sucks to get a nice looking case that you hope to use for a long time, and find out it's a PoS designed to induce rage as soon as you pull the side panels off.

On a last note: I'm so glad the whole 'door' phase in case design seems to be passing. At it's best, it's annoying and unnecessary, but I've seen cases where the power button is literally inside the damn door, WHO DOES THAT!!
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July 13, 2012 4:31:05 PM

djscribbles said:
Yeah, I hate buying cases also; it's too easy for really annoying design aspects to be hidden. If you have a good local PC store, buying in person can be much better because you can actually look at the thing and make sure you like the design, plus you get free shipping which can save a bundle.


Ah good point! I'm making a trip to a MicroCenter pretty soon, so I just looked at what cases they had in stock at the location closest to me. While they don't have the one I listed, they do have several that I came across on Newegg, including this one:

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0328082

which is on Newegg here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119216&Tpk=cm690

Not as pretty as the GS-6600, but it's $50+ cheaper with rebate, perhaps more functional, and has loads of good reviews. There's another version of the case with 2 USB 3.0 ports added and 2 less fans for $20 more... not sure if that would be worth it.

Seeing the cases in person will help a lot, so I appreciate the suggestion!

djscribbles said:

On a last note: I'm so glad the whole 'door' phase in case design seems to be passing. At it's best, it's annoying and unnecessary, but I've seen cases where the power button is literally inside the damn door, WHO DOES THAT!!


^This.
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July 13, 2012 4:41:31 PM

Hey my case has a door and I love it because it gives it a smooth and elegant look! It's not like I need to use my DVD drive more than once a year anyway :lol:  Or even the power button more than once a week though in this Fractal the buttons are on top.
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Best solution

July 13, 2012 5:18:56 PM

Quote:
Ah good point! I'm making a trip to a MicroCenter pretty soon, so I just looked at what cases they had in stock at the location closest to me. While they don't have the one I listed, they do have several that I came across on Newegg, including this one:

http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0328082

which is on Newegg here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119216&Tpk=cm690

Not as pretty as the GS-6600, but it's $50+ cheaper with rebate, perhaps more functional, and has loads of good reviews. There's another version of the case with 2 USB 3.0 ports added and 2 less fans for $20 more... not sure if that would be worth it.


You might find a different board at Microcenter - they generally have pretty good CPU/Mobo combo deals, so keep your eyes open for any potential good ones.

The CM 690 II is a classic case. Very solid choice, and I've seen many good builds in them. If they have it, definitely take a look at it and consider it. I've seen a lot of them modded for watercooling.

Unless you have or plan to invest in USB 3.0 devices soon, there's no real reason to buy the one with the 3.0 front panel. You'll have USB 3.0 ports on the motherboard if you do end up using it in the future.
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July 13, 2012 5:58:31 PM

Awesome, thanks for the advice everyone, this helps a lot!
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July 13, 2012 5:58:49 PM

Best answer selected by ItsAboutTheGame.
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