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Is a new gaming build worth the trouble here?

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July 18, 2012 7:31:50 PM

Hello, I have a 3 year old Dell XPS 630i that has two GeForce 9800GT 1 GB GPUs and an Intel Core Quad Q6600 2.40 GHz CPU, 4 GB memory, 1600 x 900 display. It's been (and still is) a fairly decent gaming rig for me. I use my PC mostly for shooters like Mafia 2 and GTA4, also do some occasional video editing, encoding and DVD burning.

Lately, I've gotten the itch to build my first PC, but ONLY if I can significantly improve on the gaming/encoding performance of my current machine. Being my first build, I'm trying to keep it simple (one GPU, with expandability to add another later) and under $1000 or so.

I can use an Intel i7-2700K 3.5 GHz CPU and a GTX 570 1.25GB GPU and stay on budget, but I have NO IDEA what kind of performance increase I can expect to see. As much as I would looove to build a new machine myself, it doesn't make sense to spend a bunch of money unless I get a noticeably better rig out of the deal.

Any informed opinions youse guys might have to offer would be greatly appreciated. The level of expertise available in these forums absolutely dwarfs mine, and I know when I'm getting in over my head and need to ask for help. Thanks very much!
July 18, 2012 7:34:50 PM

You wouldn't need an i7 as it won't give you an increase in performance for games.

Do you have a nearby microcenter? If so, it would make it easier to fit things in your budget. Do you plan on reusing the old HDD on your current setup? Monitor, keyboard, mouse?
July 18, 2012 7:58:10 PM

Personally, if I had your set-up, I would simply replace the two 9800 cards with the GTX 570. You may be able to take the money you would save and go for an even more powerful card.

What are the full specs of your system?
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a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2012 8:11:25 PM

it's not just a processor and video card. it's motherboard and ram too. how's that on your budget ?

i don't know the difference ( $ ) between the 2700k and 2600k but the 27 probably isn't worth it.

what's the memory in your current system and what opsys do you have/and 32 or 64bit ?
July 18, 2012 8:18:50 PM

The I7-2700k (or 2600K) would be overkill for gaming over the I5-2500K, however it would improve your encoding times as most encoders take advantage of hyperthreading (games don't).
July 18, 2012 8:21:12 PM

ohhgourami said:
You wouldn't need an i7 as it won't give you an increase in performance for games.

Do you have a nearby microcenter? If so, it would make it easier to fit things in your budget. Do you plan on reusing the old HDD on your current setup? Monitor, keyboard, mouse?


Not clear here. Are you saying an i7 is no better than my current 2.6 GHz CPU? Or that it's overkill compared to, say, an i5? It's generally been my impression that one should buy the best CPU they can afford (delayed obsolescence and so on).

Nearest Microcenter is 50 miles away, I'm in the boonies southeast of Atlanta. If I can get good price & selection online, I'm fine with waiting a few days for parts. Not reusing any components. If I do build a new machine, the old one's going to my grandson.
July 18, 2012 8:25:43 PM

joecole1572 said:
Personally, if I had your set-up, I would simply replace the two 9800 cards with the GTX 570. You may be able to take the money you would save and go for an even more powerful card.

What are the full specs of your system?


So, all things being equal, the GTX 570 will give better performance than two 9800s? That's good to know; I've read that the primary advantage of an SLI setup really comes into play only under a heavy load. I'm not interested in upgrading my Dell though, I want the experience of building a new machine from scratch. Thanks for the suggestion though.
July 18, 2012 8:26:21 PM

Falcon66 said:
Not clear here. Are you saying an i7 is no better than my current 2.6 GHz CPU? Or that it's overkill compared to, say, an i5? It's generally been my impression that one should buy the best CPU they can afford (delayed obsolescence and so on).

Nearest Microcenter is 50 miles away, I'm in the boonies southeast of Atlanta. If I can get good price & selection online, I'm fine with waiting a few days for parts. Not reusing any components. If I do build a new machine, the old one's going to my grandson.

When it comes to gaming, you won't see any difference between an I5-2500K and a I7-2600K. the only real difference is the I7 has Hyper-threading while the I5 does not support Hyper-threading. The Hyper-threading lets one physical core appear as two logical cores. Video encoding and other software of this type can take advantage of this, while games don't.
July 18, 2012 8:32:20 PM

swifty_morgan said:
it's not just a processor and video card. it's motherboard and ram too. how's that on your budget ?

i don't know the difference ( $ ) between the 2700k and 2600k but the 27 probably isn't worth it.

what's the memory in your current system and what opsys do you have/and 32 or 64bit ?


Not planning to skimp on mobo or memory. Currently looking at ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 though I'll spend more if I need to. I'll use 2 x 4 GB memory, leave 2 slots open for future. My Dell has 4 GB memory, Win XP 32 bit.
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2012 8:39:37 PM

then the 2600k will be fine. 4core/8thread may come in handy. I would wait at least to see the price of the new 660's before buying a card.

the operating system.......... 4gigs of ram will be all you could put in it. it'll only recognize about 3.25 and only use that much. Work a 64bit of W7 OEM into your budget or the ram will be of no benefit and will do nothing to help you or your programs that will need it.
July 18, 2012 8:41:47 PM

clarkjd said:
When it comes to gaming, you won't see any difference between an I5-2500K and a I7-2600K. the only real difference is the I7 has Hyper-threading while the I5 does not support Hyper-threading. The Hyper-threading lets one physical core appear as two logical cores. Video encoding and other software of this type can take advantage of this, while games don't.


That's very helpful, thank you! The hyperthreading sounds pretty attractive, since I do video projects on a regular, if not frequent, basis. Of course the i5 will leave me an extra $50-$75 to spend.
July 18, 2012 8:45:58 PM

swifty_morgan said:
then the 2600k will be fine. 4core/8thread may come in handy. I would wait at least to see the price of the new 660's before buying a card.

the operating system.......... 4gigs of ram will be all you could put in it. it'll only recognize about 3.25 and only use that much. Work a 64bit of W7 OEM into your budget or the ram will be of no benefit and will do nothing to help you or your programs that will need it.


New 660s, eh? Hadn't heard of that, appreciate the heads up.

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but are you saying that Windows 7 can only use 4 GB RAM? I know XP is limited to 4 GB. Was planning to use W7 64 bit with 8 GB memory in the new build.

Thanks.
July 18, 2012 8:50:54 PM

clarkjd said:
The I7-2700k (or 2600K) would be overkill for gaming over the I5-2500K, however it would improve your encoding times as most encoders take advantage of hyperthreading (games don't).


I'm pretty spoiled, my current machine can encode and burn a DVD in under 2 hours. I'd hate to build a new machine and find out that it encodes/burns slower than my old one! Thanks for the info.
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2012 8:56:21 PM

Falcon66 said:
New 660s, eh? Hadn't heard of that, appreciate the heads up.

Perhaps I misunderstand you, but are you saying that Windows 7 can only use 4 GB RAM? I know XP is limited to 4 GB. Was planning to use W7 64 bit with 8 GB memory in the new build.

Thanks.


you said you xp and were going to buy 8gigs........ would have been useless.

and that's W7 64bit ...........NOT 32bit.
July 18, 2012 9:07:47 PM

swifty_morgan said:
you said you xp and were going to buy 8gigs........ would have been useless.

and that's W7 64bit ...........NOT 32bit.


Sorry if I confused you, I should have explicitly stated that I was going to use W7 for the new build. Thanks again.
July 18, 2012 9:13:28 PM

Falcon66 said:
Not clear here. Are you saying an i7 is no better than my current 2.6 GHz CPU? Or that it's overkill compared to, say, an i5? It's generally been my impression that one should buy the best CPU they can afford (delayed obsolescence and so on).

Nearest Microcenter is 50 miles away, I'm in the boonies southeast of Atlanta. If I can get good price & selection online, I'm fine with waiting a few days for parts. Not reusing any components. If I do build a new machine, the old one's going to my grandson.


If you are around the area, buying your CPU and mobo can potentially save you ~$100. That is why I mentioned that.

So if you don't do any encoding, an i5 will perform exactly the same as an i7 for games. There is currently a good deal on an ASRock Z77 board that is probably better than the Z68 board you mentioned earlier.

The current generation of CPU are very different from that of your current one. Your 2.6ghz CPU is not even close to the same performance as a 2.6ghz of today. Even a current gen i3 completely blows away your chip. The current gen i3 is as fast as the pre-Sandy Bridge i5s.

At your price range, I would try to squeeze a GTX 670 if possible, but you haven't specified if you require a monitor or any other peripherals. Please tell us.
July 18, 2012 9:35:22 PM

Unless you upgrade that display, a new system will be total overkill. If you get the upgrade, be sure to throw in a new display(or 3) to push your system a bit.
July 18, 2012 9:55:12 PM

ohhgourami said:
If you are around the area, buying your CPU and mobo can potentially save you ~$100. That is why I mentioned that.

So if you don't do any encoding, an i5 will perform exactly the same as an i7 for games. There is currently a good deal on an ASRock Z77 board that is probably better than the Z68 board you mentioned earlier.

The current generation of CPU are very different from that of your current one. Your 2.6ghz CPU is not even close to the same performance as a 2.6ghz of today. Even a current gen i3 completely blows away your chip. The current gen i3 is as fast as the pre-Sandy Bridge i5s.

At your price range, I would try to squeeze a GTX 670 if possible, but you haven't specified if you require a monitor or any other peripherals. Please tell us.


Good info, I didn't think I could save that kind of money at a brick & mortar retailer. Never too old to learn!

Nice to know that an i5 or i7 is that far superior to the CPU in my old Dell. Sounds like I will indeed get a pretty nice performance bump with the new build.

I'd love to have a GTX670, but it seems out of my price range. The build I'm currently considering is about $1100 as it is: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/cpE8
Don't need a monitor or peripherals, but I don't see how I can get the price down too much further, if the listed prices are truly competitive (something I haven't really researched). Need the 750W PSU in case I add another GPU later, the other components don't leave much wiggle room at all.

Thanks!
July 18, 2012 10:14:23 PM

math1337 said:
Unless you upgrade that display, a new system will be total overkill. If you get the upgrade, be sure to throw in a new display(or 3) to push your system a bit.


Being old has its advantages. My 22" monitor is perfect for my 55 year old eyes! 1600 x 900 works quite well for me personally. Doesn't a somewhat lower resolution translate to a higher gaming frame rate?
July 18, 2012 11:20:59 PM

Like many of us already said, you don't need an i7 unless you do encoding. If you don't, an i5 would be more than enough for you. That extra $100 is better off spent on an SSD where you would actually see and feel an extra boost in performance for daily use.

If you get that ASRock Z68 mobo with an i5-2500k or 3570k, you are looking to pay only ~$260 after tax at Microcenter. Those are significant savings!

If you aren't getting a new monitor, even a GTX 560 would run everything on ultra. There is actually a very solid deal on newegg on a GTX 560Ti 448 cores for $200 after rebate. This is the MSI Twin Frozr version which OCs very well and runs much cooler and quieter than a reference card. And since you don't plan on getting a new monitor, you won't ever need to SLI so you can save yourself some cash on the PSU too. A quality 650W should be more than enough.

Do you even plan on overclocking your CPU? If you do, you better get an aftermarket cooler. If you don't, you might as well get the entry level i5 and save yourself some cash there too.

You may also want to aim for a ram that is 1.5V, not 1.65V as 1.5V is optimal for intel. This ram is much better and cheaper than the one you selected: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can overclock it to 1.5V and lower the timings. I currently have mine at 9-10-10-28 1T @2133MHz with 1.5V. Those are killer timings for that speed.
July 19, 2012 8:51:45 PM

ohhgourami said:
Like many of us already said, you don't need an i7 unless you do encoding. If you don't, an i5 would be more than enough for you. That extra $100 is better off spent on an SSD where you would actually see and feel an extra boost in performance for daily use.

If you get that ASRock Z68 mobo with an i5-2500k or 3570k, you are looking to pay only ~$260 after tax at Microcenter. Those are significant savings!

If you aren't getting a new monitor, even a GTX 560 would run everything on ultra. There is actually a very solid deal on newegg on a GTX 560Ti 448 cores for $200 after rebate. This is the MSI Twin Frozr version which OCs very well and runs much cooler and quieter than a reference card. And since you don't plan on getting a new monitor, you won't ever need to SLI so you can save yourself some cash on the PSU too. A quality 650W should be more than enough.

Do you even plan on overclocking your CPU? If you do, you better get an aftermarket cooler. If you don't, you might as well get the entry level i5 and save yourself some cash there too.

You may also want to aim for a ram that is 1.5V, not 1.65V as 1.5V is optimal for intel. This ram is much better and cheaper than the one you selected: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You can overclock it to 1.5V and lower the timings. I currently have mine at 9-10-10-28 1T @2133MHz with 1.5V. Those are killer timings for that speed.


It would be nice to have the hyperthreading but the savings using an i5 are hard to ignore, all right. Scaling back to a GTX560/Ti is also tempting for the same reason. Doing both would bring my cost down to under $900:

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($126.04 @ NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($45.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($84.98 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: Antec 550W ATX12V Power Supply ($57.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($46.75 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($90.65 @ Amazon)
Keyboard: Logitech K200 Wired Standard Keyboard ($14.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Mouse: Logitech B100 Wired Optical Mouse ($7.99 @ Mac Mall)
Total: $863.34

Sounds like I can get my desired performance bump, stay within budget, and get the pleasure of building my first PC! I think this preserves the ability to overclock at some point in the future (once I learn what I'm doing there). That could somewhat make up for the downgrade from the i7 and GTX570.

Appreciate the heads up about the memory voltage, I had NO idea. Thanks very much, your advice has been most helpful! :D 

July 19, 2012 9:02:11 PM

If you are heading to microcenter anyway why not pick up a motherboard with $50 off! That is their promotion when you buy a 2500k! And since you plan to OC, you will need an aftermarket CPU cooler. Something budget like a CM Hyper 212+ would do fine an usually runs for ~$20 when on sale. The stock heatsink and fan would not cut it for OC.

Also, you can easily fit an SSD in there which would make your computer SUPER snappy! Every 1k computer should have an 128gb SSD.

Do you really need a blu-ray drive? I personally think it's a waste of money. Actually any optical drive is. You can install windows with a flash drive so no need. Any games or entertainment can be easily downloaded. Use that money for a nicer mouse and keyboard (quality mechanical one).
July 19, 2012 9:30:49 PM

ohhgourami said:
If you are heading to microcenter anyway why not pick up a motherboard with $50 off! That is their promotion when you buy a 2500k! And since you plan to OC, you will need an aftermarket CPU cooler. Something budget like a CM Hyper 212+ would do fine an usually runs for ~$20 when on sale. The stock heatsink and fan would not cut it for OC.

Also, you can easily fit an SSD in there which would make your computer SUPER snappy! Every 1k computer should have an 128gb SSD.

Do you really need a blu-ray drive? I personally think it's a waste of money. Actually any optical drive is. You can install windows with a flash drive so no need. Any games or entertainment can be easily downloaded. Use that money for a nicer mouse and keyboard (quality mechanical one).


Saw that Microcenter ad, going to check that out if I pull the trigger on this project. Turns out they're only about 30 miles away, not too horrible a drive in ATL traffic.

I'll add an aftermarket cooler later, if/when I decide to overclock. I'm not knowledgeable at all on the subject at present, so I want to move up the learning curve before I do anything potentially dangerous to my new baby.

Have read great things about SSDs improving boot times & reliability, but not sure if the bang for the buck is there for me quite yet. Being a first build, my instinct is to keep things really simple.

The Blu-Ray is kind of a splurge but it's only an extra $30ish. I've always liked having 2 optical drives. It's one of my loveable old geezer quirks! :D 

Thanks again, my good man. Cheers!
July 19, 2012 9:47:18 PM

Putting in an SSD now can save you some trouble later on as you will want to backup files and what not for a fresh install. Really up to you. I see good 128gb SSDs going for $90 all the time if not $100 for regular price. After getting my first SSD, there was no going back to it. I only have SSDs on my rigs as they make no noise.

Well whatever you do, get yourself a mechanical keyboard later down the line. It is probably the most used object on your desk and way too many people overlook this. Even the cheapest mechanical board (Rosewill) will give you a typing experience no rubber dome board can (includes fancy $100+ non-mechanical gaming boards). If you got no idea what I'm talking about, you better look that up and give one a demo.
July 19, 2012 11:15:07 PM

ohhgourami said:
Putting in an SSD now can save you some trouble later on as you will want to backup files and what not for a fresh install. Really up to you. I see good 128gb SSDs going for $90 all the time if not $100 for regular price. After getting my first SSD, there was no going back to it. I only have SSDs on my rigs as they make no noise.

Well whatever you do, get yourself a mechanical keyboard later down the line. It is probably the most used object on your desk and way too many people overlook this. Even the cheapest mechanical board (Rosewill) will give you a typing experience no rubber dome board can (includes fancy $100+ non-mechanical gaming boards). If you got no idea what I'm talking about, you better look that up and give one a demo.


$90-100 isn't too bad to buy the speed & reliability of a SSD, I'm convinced of the advantages. I'm not sure about the marginal value added on this particular budget build, though. Is it worth adding 10% to the project cost? That's probably a call best made on a case by case basis. Also, since I'm going to have an internal HDD anyway, it does add to the complexity of a first build.

Are you saying that the Logitech KB I selected is not a real keyboard w/moving buttons, and more of a keyPAD? If so, I'll shop around; it appears mechanical to me, if not too fancy. I may not even need a KB anyway; I've got 2 Dell SK8135 multimedia KBs that work fine. Guess I can try a few different models out when I'm at Micro Center. After typing on a traditional keyboard for 40 years, there is no way in Hades I'm using some kind of pressure sensitive pad, by cracky!!!
July 20, 2012 7:14:46 AM

Of all components in a computer, SSDs add noticeable performance boost in daily task. There is no way to deny that. All my very cynical friends didn't think SSDs were worth the money until they finally tried one and can't go back to regular HDDs.

I don't think you know what a mechanical keyboard is. I'll leave this link here for you to read: http://www.ergocanada.com/ergo/keyboards/mechanical_vs_...

Mechanical KBs are generally higher quality and weigh ~3lbs since they require more parts (individual switch for every key). I highly recommend demoing the few they have at microcenter. The only type of key switch they seem to be missing is Brown, which is my fav.
July 20, 2012 6:41:47 PM

ohhgourami said:
Of all components in a computer, SSDs add noticeable performance boost in daily task. There is no way to deny that. All my very cynical friends didn't think SSDs were worth the money until they finally tried one and can't go back to regular HDDs.

I don't think you know what a mechanical keyboard is. I'll leave this link here for you to read: http://www.ergocanada.com/ergo/keyboards/mechanical_vs_...

Mechanical KBs are generally higher quality and weigh ~3lbs since they require more parts (individual switch for every key). I highly recommend demoing the few they have at microcenter. The only type of key switch they seem to be missing is Brown, which is my fav.


Thanks again for the heads up on the Micro Center deals! I just reserved an i5 2500K CPU and ASRock Z77 Extreme4 mobo for $270 w/tax. The cheapest I can get that combo elsewhere is $315. Oh, happy day...

SSDs are certainly useful in their own way right now, but they're not cost effective replacements for HDDs yet. Hopefully that will happen in the near future, by the time I do my next build after this. In the meantime, I keep my cost down on a project that is not strictly needed, and keep my bride/CEO happy!

My personal concept of a mechanical KB is one that has spring loaded actuators under removable keys, that's all I was saying. I cut my teeth using electric typewriters in the 1970s, so I'm used to that kind of springy tactile feel. As long as the keys have the right size, form & amount of travel, I'm happy. It's been my personal experience that many common KBs tend to fit my preferences just fine. Should be interesting to see what Micro Center has to offer, there's no substitute for "hands on" testing with keyboards!

Cheers!


July 20, 2012 7:36:31 PM

Well you don't need to store everything on SSDs. Just use it to boot and install commonly used programs, shove the rest of your stuff into the HDD. That is currently the most cost effective way while getting a significant boost in performance. The only reason why I only run SSDs is because HDD noise gets on my nerves.

Yup mech KBs are supposed to have spring loaded actuators. Most common keyboards use rubber domes which feel pretty awful to type on. I'm currently typing on a rubber dome KB at work and I'm in total disgust!

Microcenter has the Corsair K60 and K90 which use red switches. They also carry the Razer Blackwidows which use blue switches. Blue at THE tactile switches, but don't work as well for games. Mech KBs don't require you to press completely down for a key to register, only about halfway down. So bottoming out keys means you aren't using a mech KB correctly. Just an FYI.

Enjoy your time at MC!
!