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Fancy $2500 upgrade to 8,000$ system

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July 25, 2012 5:02:50 AM

With a $2500 budget, how would you upgrade this system to be more impressive? (Should be fun!)

alternatively, what would you do with 2,500$ for graphics cards, accessories, peripherals and monitors

Purchase Date: Must be built and running before August 17

Budget: After shipping, before rebates: $2500. Any parts linked below are to be considered "free".

Usage (most to least important): Web browsing, PuTTY, Minecraft, Visual Studio, Eclipse, Gaming, Media Center
Most demanding applications: Not. Games; random graph search programs I write are more demanding.
This will be a personal computer for which I will spend a majority of my day in front of.

Are you buying a monitor: No, I've got 4... (This, combined with the motherboard, makes it impossible to do SLI*)

Parts to Upgrade: Graphics card, RAM, CPU, possibly power supply

Do you need to buy OS: No, will be getting Windows 8 in October.

Website(s): newegg.com or amazon.com

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Parts Preference: Intel, nVidia

Overclocking: No

SLI: Not possible.

Monitor Resolution: 1x 1280x1024, 2x 1600x900, 1x 900x1600

Why Are You Upgrading: Why not? :)  I would like to be able to run anything, at maximum settings, for the next 4 years, by spending at most 1000$ per year.

Additional Comments:
These parts have already been purchased and are available to me at no cost:

What I've already put together
ASUS Z9PE-D16 motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel Xeon 2687W - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OCZ Vertex 4 128GB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2x 8GB (16GB total) DDR3 1600 RAM (blue) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2x 8GB (16GB total) DDR3 1600 RAM (red) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
2x EVGA GTX 460 1GB - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
80+ Gold 850W PSU - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Pheonix Pro 60GB SSD - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CoolerMaster Cosmos II Case - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006P88VNE/ref=oh_deta...
600W UPS - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
5.1 Surround Sound

SilenX EFZ CPU Cooler - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ASUS PIKE SAS card - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0055EJIZY/ref=oh_deta...
1x Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB HDD - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004VFJ9MK/ref=oh_deta...
Logitech G700 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
7.1 Sound Card - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0017DJXG6/ref=oh_deta...
BlackWidow Ultimate - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
4 Monitors, including - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Power cables - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000RXWGJS/ref=oh_deta...
USB 12-port Hub - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0051PGX2I/ref=oh_deta...


These are lying around
SATA III PCI-E card - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Ergonomic Keyboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel 2700K - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
EVGA GT 520 - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00549HZ7S/ref=oh_deta...
CCFL Lights - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
EL lights - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0041HE3ME/ref=oh_deta...
"A boat load of 120mm, 140mm, 80mm fans"

These are in use, but can be moved
6x Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
4U ATX Chassis - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
AsROCK Z77 ATX motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Intel 3570K - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007SZ0E1K/ref=oh_deta...
HIGH Power 620W PSU - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006QYJQMM/ref=oh_deta...

* SLI is possible by switching out all dual slot cards and replacing with single slot water-cooled cards, and purchasing an additional Xeon 2687W processor.
However, the processor is 1900$. Water cooled cards start at 600$, and at least 3 will be needed. This already puts me over budget.




TL;DR:
What would you do with 2,500$ to spend on graphics cards, peripherals, accessories, monitors?
July 25, 2012 6:45:16 AM

If you already have a good setup, agree to spend it on monitors and accessories.

Monitors is the overlooked link between you and your computer that you just spent a boatload of money on..
But, also, monitors definitely are an area which won't go obsolete since your eyes aren't going to upgrade. So if you have the budget, blow it there, and don't feel bad about it.
There has not really been orders of magnitude of difference in high-end monitors as there has been in computers. If you still are running budget-level monitors get something that would make a graphic's designer's happy, such as the dell U series that pinhedd mentioned.

Part of acccessories (keyboard,mouse, beverages) is personal preference, so we can't really advise there.

All the other parts in your actual computer has a much more limited useful lifespan before functional obsolescence. Basically you just need to make sure whatever game or app you are doing is functional. Then upgrade when you can't run something anymore
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July 25, 2012 6:50:11 AM

heck jsut thought of it.

How is your desk/ chair?

get yourself a fancy chair. (currently on a herman miller aeron)
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July 25, 2012 12:21:30 PM

Ordinarily, I'd agree with you on getting a fancy chair. But, I'm still in college, and it's hard to ship fancy chairs to the dorm room. I use Herman Miller chairs at work though. :) 

I was pondering grabbing a GTX 670 or 680, and a 3D monitor. Or maybe some Christmas lights (o more CCFL's and EL wire) to annoy the roommate with..
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
July 25, 2012 12:44:23 PM

A much better quality PSU. RAIDMAX are effectively generic, I wouldn't advise them in a budget rig. This PSU is much better quality and will supply infinite more power than you could need on this rig.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

A good set of headphones so others can sleep when your working (or watching Youtube late at night).

A HD7970 considering you have 4 monitors (so a triple monitor gaming setup). Though they should all be 1920x1080 to take full advantage of it, but I think by that point it will be choking on its own blood trying keep up since you cant Crossfire.

A water cooler to replace the $30 heatsink you'v got in there. The Corsair H100 or a custom loop is what I'd recommend.

Some LED strips to replace your outdated cold Cathodes. Led strips are much brighter, efficient, reliable and dont take up as much room.

More SSD? Maybe use that 60GB one as a cache device for a commonly accessed HDD.

Fan controller for the million fans that Cosmos II undoubtedly has.


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July 26, 2012 2:37:42 PM

manofchalk said:
A much better quality PSU. RAIDMAX are effectively generic, I wouldn't advise them in a budget rig. This PSU is much better quality and will supply infinite more power than you could need on this rig.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I've been pretty satisfied with the RAIDMAX PSU. At maximum load, my system draws 650W from the wall outlet, including monitors.

A good set of headphones so others can sleep when your working (or watching Youtube late at night). said:
A good set of headphones so others can sleep when your working (or watching Youtube late at night).

Any recommendations?

A HD7970 considering you have 4 monitors (so a triple monitor gaming setup). Though they should all be 1920x1080 to take full advantage of it, but I think by that point it will be choking on its own blood trying keep up since you cant Crossfire. said:
A HD7970 considering you have 4 monitors (so a triple monitor gaming setup). Though they should all be 1920x1080 to take full advantage of it, but I think by that point it will be choking on its own blood trying keep up since you cant Crossfire.

I prefer nVidia, as I already have all the software necessary to develop GPGPU applications. I've been considering a GTX 580, however I am not entirely sold on if I will even notice an improvement over a GTX 460.


A water cooler to replace the $30 heatsink you'v got in there. The Corsair H100 or a custom loop is what I'd recommend. said:

A water cooler to replace the $30 heatsink you'v got in there. The Corsair H100 or a custom loop is what I'd recommend.

Water cooling is not an option. This rig will be transported several hundred miles a year (between college and home), in a car, and I'd hate for there to be any leaks. I won't be able to afford replacement components. Especially if the processor is fried (1900$ processor, too high of a risk.)


Some LED strips to replace your outdated cold Cathodes. Led strips are much brighter, efficient, reliable and dont take up as much room. said:

Some LED strips to replace your outdated cold Cathodes. Led strips are much brighter, efficient, reliable and dont take up as much room.

I like the look of CCFL's as they are a continous light source, and infinitely more annoying to roomates when mounted externally. I've already wired up 8 of them to the LED controller in the Cosmos II. I'm currently looking into EL wire to light up the exterior, however I am unsure if the power draw is too high for the LED controller to handle (max is 100 mA).

More SSD? Maybe use that 60GB one as a cache device for a commonly accessed HDD. said:
More SSD? Maybe use that 60GB one as a cache device for a commonly accessed HDD.

Why use an SSD as a cache device when you can use RAM? I currently have 32GB, but I can expand up to 256GB with 1 processor, 512GB with 2.

Fan controller for the million fans that Cosmos II undoubtedly has. said:
Fan controller for the million fans that Cosmos II undoubtedly has.

The fan controller that comes with the Cosmos II has enough channels on it to control the dozen fans, plus since it's integrated with the case, it looks pretty cool too.
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a c 105 B Homebuilt system
July 26, 2012 10:21:31 PM

The Razer Carcharias is what I use and recommend. No doubt there are better but its pretty good. $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I recommended the HD7970 because of its 3Gb of VRAM, which is important for a triple screen gaming setup. It also trades blows for performance with the GTX680.

A pre-made loop will never break, and its warranty will cover any parts damaged if it does. Plus, if the system isnt powered on when theres a spill, there is no damage as theres no current to short out. Just wait till it dry's. If you go custom, you could just drain the loop whenever its in transit.

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July 27, 2012 12:41:34 AM

manofchalk said:
The Razer Carcharias is what I use and recommend. No doubt there are better but its pretty good. $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'll look into it if my roommate hates my music when I move in to the dorm next month.

I recommended the HD7970 because of its 3Gb of VRAM, which is important for a triple screen gaming setup. It also trades blows for performance with the GTX680. said:
I recommended the HD7970 because of its 3Gb of VRAM, which is important for a triple screen gaming setup. It also trades blows for performance with the GTX680.

If all I did was gaming, I would be considering this, but alas, I also program. It's harder to program on a portrait oriented screen, and annoying if there's 2 vertical bars in the middle of the text.


A pre-made loop will never break, and its warranty will cover any parts damaged if it does. Plus, if the system isnt powered on when theres a spill, there is no damage as theres no current to short out. Just wait till it dry's. If you go custom, you could just drain the loop whenever its in transit. said:

A pre-made loop will never break, and its warranty will cover any parts damaged if it does. Plus, if the system isnt powered on when theres a spill, there is no damage as theres no current to short out. Just wait till it dry's. If you go custom, you could just drain the loop whenever its in transit.

My system is on 24/7, so there goes that idea, and even if the system isn't powered, there is still +5V on the 24 pin connector to the motherboard, capable of at least 10mA, and power supplies which can be used with wake on LAN, supply 720mA. Worst case is if water conducts between pin 14 and ground, turning the power supply fully on.

If a premade loop does break, I imagine it'd be a hassle to replace the entire setup, or even to convince the manufacturer to cough up server-level components.

Not to mention that I'd be risking the uptime of my public servers.

Water cooling isn't for me, sorry. :( 




What about 3D monitors? Are they fun?
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a b B Homebuilt system
July 27, 2012 2:49:34 AM

Interesting. With such a high budget, why don't you just throw a GTX 680 in it? You'll definitely see a performance increase from what you've got.

Also, why such a high-end computer? $8k or whatever for light gaming and programming, plus four monitors? Seems a bit excessive TBH.
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July 27, 2012 5:29:16 AM

Mainly just the WOW factor. All I've been doing the last two weeks is web browsing. We'll see what happens when I get back to college.
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