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Need advice for gaming build for university

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July 20, 2012 2:58:30 PM

Hey guys, I was thinking of building myself a PC for university, which is capable of handling medium-high gaming on 1080p, as well as the other requirements of university work, and I was hoping for some solid advice from the more experienced builders here. This will be a first time build, so please forgive me for any naïve mistakes I make! More details below!

Approximate Purchase Date: By the end of 2012, preferably after Windows 8 is released.
Budget Range: Less than SGD2000/USD1600 (SGD converted to USD and rounded up slightly)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watching HD movies, internet surfing, Word/Powerpoint/Excel document processing, Photoshop, video editing
Parts Not Required: GPU, Storage, PSU
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I prefer to buy from local shops as far as possible to save on shipping costs. I'm not too sure which websites offer good deals and shipping rates to Singapore, but I would be fine with ordering online if any of the components aren't available locally.
Country: Singapore
Parts Preferences:

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H-WB WIFI
CPU: i5-3570K
GPU: Palit GeForce® GTX 560 Ti Twin Light Turbo (1024MB GDDR5) Bought
PSU: COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M2 620W Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply Bought
RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM Low Profile Desktop Memory Model
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14
Storage: 1x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bought
Case: NZXT Phantom 410 Gunmetal Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Black Trim Computer Case
Fans: 4x Noctua NF-P14 FLX 140mm Case Fan
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit Bought, going to upgrade to Windows 8

Overclocking: Mild CPU OC for normal use (~4.2GHz), heavier CPU (~4.5GHZ/highest I can OC i5-3750K without touching VCORE) and GPU OC (~900MHz, up from 835MHz core clock) for gaming
SLI or Crossfire: Unlikely
Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080, single monitor (this is unlikely to change)
Additional Comments: I would prefer a quiet PC that doesn't take up too much real estate (due to university dorm space restrictions) and is able to handle the heat from the OC that I plan to carry out without the CPU and GPU core temperatures exceeding 70°C. I was contemplating going for a Mini-ITX gaming build, but I'm not sure if I should.

Mini-ITX build:

Mobo: ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe
CPU: i5-3570K
GPU: Palit GeForce® GTX 560 Ti Twin Light Turbo (1024MB GDDR5) Bought
PSU: COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M2 620W Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply Bought
RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM Low Profile Desktop Memory Model
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14
Storage: 1x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM 3.5" Internal Hard Drive Bought
Case: Cubitek Mini Tank (I have trouble finding this case locally, so I will have to order it online.)
Fans: 2x Noctua NF-P14 FLX 140mm Case Fan and 1x Noctua NF-P12-1300 120mm CPU Cooler and Case Fan
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 32bit (Bought and currently using), going to upgrade to Windows 8

Last Questions

1. I don't go for LAN parties, so my PC won't be lugged around very often. However, I will be building it before entering university, and a small sized build would be a boon for when I move it into my dorm at the start of semesters and out at the end of every school term. This is in addition to the benefits of saving room space. Also, young and enthusiastic guy that I am, I intend to carry out LED (+LED control panel in place of the second 5.25" bay if possible) and etched acrylic side window modifications to the case. A particularly sexy example of what I had in mind is available here . Scroll down for pictures!

Now, this all seems to point to a Mini-ITX build (I hesitate to label the Cubitek Mini Tank as 'SFF' due to its humongous proportions compared to other truly small Mini-ITX cases.).

My concern is that even with the Mini Tank, I would not be able to ensure sufficient airflow to support my heat management needs. Another consideration is that, ceteris paribus, the Mini-ITX build above actually costs about SGD70 more for the mobo/CPU and SGD40 more for the case (which has to be shipped), while the Noctua fans cost from above are about SGD35 less. This adds up to about SGD75/USD60 more in total for the Mini-ITX build.

Question: Taking into account cost, space savings, cooling capabilities and modding opportunities, is it more worth it for me to go for the ATX (NZXT Phantom 410) or Mini-ITX (Cubitek Mini Tank) route?

2. I want a quiet PC, hence the Noctua fans and CPU cooler (which I heard are very effective and practically silent). I don't mind spending more on a good cooling solution for both CPU and case, as I want to be able to bring the fans and cooler over to my next build (probably in 4 to 5 years time). Question: Is my current choices of fans and CPU cooler overkill for my OC and heat management needs? (I don't plan to do extreme OC now or in my future builds, but I read that Ivy Bridge CPUs have overheating issues.) If so, how could the choices be improved?

3. I also considered the Lian Li PC-Q08 case for the Mini-ITX build, but I'm not sure my choice of CPU cooler can fit inside it. If a better choice of cooler can be used with the Lian Li, then I'd be glad to consider it (smaller and less pricey than the Mini Tank, albeit less sexy as well). Question: Are there any improvements that could be made to my list of parts?

4. Question: Considering the possibility of price drops and line refreshes (I'm not well versed in this area), would it make a lot more sense for me to put off my purchases till after Windows 8 is released, or would it be fine for me to go ahead and buy the parts ASAP and upgrade to Windows 8 when the time comes?


Thanks for all your help, guys. I realise that I can be verbose at times, and I appreciate all the help!
July 20, 2012 7:20:45 PM

Sell the 560Ti, Im honestly kicking myself in the butt for getting mine. I was sunk into Nvidia brand and hype. It plays games well, but uses too much electricty and generates more heat that it can handle. Honeslty I would have went back and got a 6850 if I had the ability.
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July 20, 2012 7:38:33 PM

Or you could get the Hyper 212 and put the extra $50-$60 into returning the 560 ti and get something better.
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July 20, 2012 7:51:27 PM

question 2) yes, it is overkill if you are not max overclocking.
As you know, games are mostly videocard limited, so overclocking is just for status more than for actual game improvements.
if you enjoy overclocking then yes it is money well spent, if you have some jobs for the computer where that oc will actually be well used (producing benchmark numbers do not count).

Silence:
212evo (or 212+)is cheaper and these are quiet at idle/low speed. Your choice of having a HDD already makes this louder than 212evo. If the rest of your system is not silent, then spending money to silence CPU cooler is somewhat wasted. Your system will only be as quiet as loudest component. 212evo is quiet enough to be under the harddrive spinning noise ceiling.
That being said, other than price, the d14 is better. so if you're going to *maybe* push it in the future, or reuse it, and the extra charge is not important go ahead and get it now.

Question4) This comes down to if you want to use your computer now or later.
Stuff will always goes down in price, but maybe slowly. If you don't need it, and money (or time) is important, then wait till later.
Windows8 release maybe a factor if you really want that.

Windows 8- if you buy windows7, windows8 will only cost you a small token fee to obtain once it releases.
Your decision here is more along the lines of do you want to go through the trouble to upgrade(or reinstall). And do you trust that all the drivers and things of that nature will be ready and bug-free on windows8.
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July 20, 2012 9:57:29 PM
July 20, 2012 9:58:39 PM

I would get the RC of Windows 8 just save the money now and get a full version when it comes out.
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July 22, 2012 12:04:51 PM

Hmm okay. Thanks for your help, guys.

@JefferyD90: I'm not particularly sold on AMD products, but thanks for your suggestion anyway. I'm interested in why you regret getting the GTX 560 Ti though. Does it really produce too much heat? I plan to OC it during gaming sessions for the slight boost in FPS, and I thought that solid airflow through the case would be able to disperse the heat. What are your thoughts?

Is a Mini-ITX or ATX build better for my needs, though? I don't think I'll be going SLi, and I plan to use an external Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) and amplifier for audio instead of onboard audio/sound card. If I get the Cubitek Mini Tank, I could save some space, though perhaps at the cost of some cooling capabilities. And frankly, aesthetics does matter, and the Mini Tank looks pretty darn sexy to me.

Lastly, is a SSD (say, 120GB) worth getting? They're kinda pricey at local shops. For example, the OCZ Vertex 3 120GB SSD that you recommended costs USD135 here as opposed to USD99.99 in your link. Does, in your opinion, a 120GB SSD's capacity and improved read and write speeds justify the extra expenditure?

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July 23, 2012 5:55:20 AM

Yes, it produces a lot of heat... My computer room is constantly 6-8 degrees hotter than the rest of my house... Not to include it honestly doesnt perform that much better, to the naked eye, than my 2 9800GT's did...

I would get a Mid ATX at least. Especially considering this is your first build, you dont want to be cramped up inside a small case trying to work.

And YES SSD's increase your overall system performace DRAMATICLY. If you play a game with a lot of loading screens it is more than worth it... In WoW I spend about 12-15 seconds at a loading screen, when I was testing a Agility 2 from OCZ it was around 7 seconds. And keep in mind that still a lot of that was interent connection, actual HD access time would have been around 3-4 seconds, AND it was a Agility series (slower) and it was just SATA 3.0 not SATA 6. What I am trying to say is it the one I linked you would have cut down 12-15 seconds to like 5 seconds...
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July 23, 2012 5:58:36 AM

First AMD is still good, now 560ti sucks? Just get a Radeon 7850.
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July 23, 2012 6:33:16 AM

Yea, I honestly dont like my 560T, its a good card and all but, I know dude that has a 6850, it performs MUCH better than this heater does not to include it has a lot better features.

PS, if you keep trolling my post like this, I will be reporting you.
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