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/ [Almost Solved] $1,500 - $2k Gaming/Rendering Rig - GPU Question?

SEE MY SECOND POST FOR QUESTIONS/CONCLUSIONS ON A NEED FOR 4GB OF VRAM @ 2560x1440
^^I'd like to make this card last.

First things first:

Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: Within next 30 days

Budget Range: $1,500 - $2,3k I can break the budget for shipping and taxes

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
1. Gaming
2. Adobe CS6 compatibility PS/AE/PR
3. Programming (I could code on a toaster if need be, more of a screen real-estate thing)


Are you buying a monitor: Yes
Preferably a WQHD 2550x1440 27" Shimian Catleap - Although I'm worried that 27" is too big. (I live by a Frys electronics, I'm going to check out and compare it to similar monitors there.)
If not, a Dell UltraSharp U2412M Black IPS Panel 24" will do. 1920x1200 is what I currently use on my iMac.


Parts to Upgrade: Everything.

Do you need to buy OS: No, I can get Windows 7 through my school for free.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com / Frys (In store) / Amazon

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada. I live ~2 miles from a Fry's. (Lucky, I know)

Parts Preferences: Intel, nVidia, and I do like Asus, but that last one is totally flexible. First two are not.

Overclocking: No / Maybe. In the future I will. I've never been an O/C'er.

SLI or Crossfire: Yes / Maybe. In the future I'll SLI a second and third video card.

Your Monitor Resolution: 1x 23.5" 1920x1080 / DOWNGRADING (Loosing a) 1x 24" 1920x1200 from my iMac. So I'll need a monitor to replace the iMac screen.

Additional Comments: I'm debating on liquid cooling and if I should buy a big PSU now, or wait and upgrade the PSU when I buy a second video card.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: A long time ago, on an Intel Core 2 Duo far far away...
I'm currently running a late 2007 24" WUXGA Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz iMac running 10.6.8 (Screw Lion/ML) with an ATI Radeon 2600 HD 256MB that was given to me in 2009 when my cousin upgraded to a Core based 27". Previous to that I ran a Pentium 4 3GHz w/WinXP from 2002 with a GeForce 7600GS 512MB and was in dire need of an upgrade, so even though I was never fond of Apple products, I welcomed a new computer. I honestly got use to OS X and really like it and I don't have a huge problem with switching back to Windows. (Although Win8 sucks, but so does OS X 10.7/8) - P.S. I'm not an ignorant Macs don't get viruses OS X user.

The biggest issue with upgrading is that I'll be dropping my iMac's 24" WUXGA display, which I LOVE. I'm either going to buy a Shimian WQHD 2550x1440 or a Dell UltraSharp WUXGA. The Shimian might be too big and it comes with risk, (No warranty) but I really think it'd be nice to bump my resolution up. Plus, the DPI is higher, even at 27".

I really need a bump from the puny 2600 HD I have, the thing lags in Minecraft on Windows 7. I also push my Intel Core 2 Duo to its limits on Adobe CS6. I've sworn to NEVER edit a FHD (1080) res video EVER again on my iMac just because it's so hard to do. Next month Guild Wars 2 comes out and both my buddy and I are building new computers so we can play it. The game isn't super demanding, but I'm also an FPS lover, so BF3 in Ultra at QWHD is something I'd love to be able to pull off. Sub 60 FPS I can live with, but not sub 30fps.


---


So with that in mind, here's the build I've come up with:

[HD1 - SSD]
Crucial M4 256GB 2.5" SATA III Solid State Drive - $174.98 Already purchased (w/ taxes & Shipping)

[HD2 - HDD]
Seagate ST2000DM001 Barracuda 7200RPM 2 TB - $109.99

[Motherboard]
GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UP5 TH - $249.99 I'd really like a Thunderbolt connector, especially since it'd have to give up a PCIe if I wanted to upgrade later.

[CPU]
Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge 3.5GHz - $349.99 I need an i7 because processing power is something I'm going to be utilizing with Adobe CS6.

[CPU - Cooler]
ZALMAN CNPS9900MAX-B 135mm Long life bearing CPU Cooler Blue LED - $70.99 Okay, I'm going to be honest, I just winged this. As far as heatsinks go, I just sorted by most review and best rating on NewEgg and picked something that I figured would work best. My ONLY concern is that perhaps I should do liquid cooling (See GPU)

[GPU]
Okay, I'm kind of torn here. First of all, cooling is a HUGE issue for me. I almost want to do a liquid cooling rig, but for a single GPU non-OC set up it's not completely necessary. But down the line I will probably SLI a second and later a third GPU. So maybe I should just do a liquid cooling from the start?
Also, since I'm going to be gaming on a QWHD display, perhaps I should invest in a 4GB card, because 2GB may not cut it in the future. Here's the toward cards I'm looking at.

- [GPU 2GB]
GIGABYTE GV-N680OC-2GD GeForce GTX 680 2GB - $524.99 Great cooling options, this would be my choice hands down if it had 4GB of VRAM
or

- [GPU 4GB]
- EVGA 04G-P4-3685-KR GeForce GTX 680 FTW Standard 4GB - $579.99 4GB of VRAM, "meh" cooling, I'd probably go liquid cooling if I chose this card. Which irks me, seeing as I'd have to void my warranty off the bat by dissecting the card and adding a liquid cooling block. But that 4GB of VRAM is probably worth it. Although, the cooling block would cost me an extra $80-120.

[RAM]
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - $114.99 I want 8GB sticks, so this works great.

[DVD Drive]
ASUS 24X DVD Burner - $19.99 To be honest, I almost forgot to include a DVD drive. I haven't used a disk in over 2 years.

[PSU]
CORSAIR Professional Series HX750 - $145 I could probably go with a 525w (600w to be safe) But I chose the 725w for the SLI I'll set up later. Should I perhaps bump it up even further seeing as I may add extra Hard Drives and other accessories down the road?

[CASE]
I reallllyyyyy want a white case.

- Rosewill THOR V2-White Edition - $139.99 I'm leaning towards the Thor.
or
- NZXT Phantom 410 - $99

[FANS]
??? - Should I do a PCI fan for the video card? The Thor case comes with 4 fans. Do I need more?

In total, with the Gigabyte GTX 680 2GB, the cost is around $1,901. Or $2,301 with a monitor. +$
I plan on selling my iMac on Craigslist (I don't want to ship it with eBay) for $700/800, so I'm looking at $1,500/1,600 (w/ monitor) in costs after I sell my iMac.

Suggestions?

This also isn't the PC I've ever built, but it's the first PC I've ever built for myself. I want high quality and super upgradability. My old Pentium 4 computer is still in use today, over 10 years after I first built it. Gave it to my parents as a Facebook/Email machine, runs Windows 7 with ease. So I'd like to do the same thing with this rig. Spend a lot of money up front, but have it last for a long long time.

P.S. Any thermal paste recommendations? Arctic Silver? Do I need more diamonds? :P
11 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about almost solved gaming rendering question
  1. Best answer
    All your choices look great. Unlike some you actually do your research beforehand, lol.

    Here's a case recommendation, though...

    Corsair Vengeance Series C70
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139014

    Corsair Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139005

    I'll also recommend a few air coolers if you go the air cooling route...

    Noctua NH-D14
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608018

    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099

    ZALMAN CNPS12X 120mm
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118097

    Also, 2gb Vram is plenty...especially if you plan to do SLI in the future. The only real reason you'd want more vram is for a multi monitor setup...or possibly with screens that exceed 1200p resolution.

    You're gonna have to make a few sacrifices here. Adobe applications typically like cuda cores, so the 3gb 7970 would be out of the question. I'd recommend you use a single 1920x1200 res screen with the Gigabyte gtx 680 2gb.

    I recommend this thermal paste...
    ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Cooling MX-4
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186038
  2. The Catleap is in no way too big for 2560x1440 gaming. You will see a HUGE difference in how the game looks on that Catleap. 1080p on 27" is A LOT worse.
  3. DeusAres said:
    All your choices look great. Unlike some you actually do your research beforehand, lol.


    Good to know, haha.

    I've spent the two months going back and forth between a tower/gaming laptop. Even though I really need a new laptop (Old one is a netbook) the gaming laptop is just an overall bad choice because of the failure rate of laptop parts. I was going to buy a laptop with an MXM video card and swappable CPU, this way, if either burnt out, I could replace it. But the thermals are terrible (90*C+ during gaming) and most of the "decently priced" nVidia cards were still Fermi based, not Kepler. The 660m is Kepler and only has 1GB of RAM for its MXM based variant. 670m/675m are both Fermi based (NOPE) and the Kepler based 680m is a $400+ upgrade from the 660m. So my only choice was the 7970m, which has TERRIBLE driver support, Enduro is broken and it runs hot, 10*C hotter than Kepler cards. And finally, the idea of lugging around my "life" in a laptop scares me. If I drop it, or it gets stolen or something spills on it, my life is gone and I'm out a $1700 investment.

    So I learned a lot in that time, I've spent at least 48 hours in total researching what's good and what's not.

    DeusAres said:

    Here's a case recommendation, though...

    Corsair Vengeance Series C70
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139014

    Corsair Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139005


    I can't say that I find that C70 attractive in the least, lol.
    The 600T looks great, but I forgot to mention one thing, which is something I personally keep forgetting about. I'm going to try and set up my computer on my desk (For better cooling capabilities) but it has an overhanging shelf. The desk has 21.8" of clearance, but there's an extra 2" of clearance if the case is smaller than 25" length wise. (Decorative bezel on my desk) The Thor V2 is a tight squeeze, at 21.89" but it makes the sub 25" length requirement so it'd fit, but I'd have a hard time accessing the top panel and it'd nullify the case's top fan. The 600T is 20" tall, so it'd fit more easily and I'd be able to access the top panel without a problem.

    Concerning the Thor V2, I was counting on the side fan for cooling my computer. Because depending on where I place it, I'll have less than a foot (perhaps 6"?) of clearance for the back panel to circulate air. If anything, I was hoping the side far would compensate for that. The 600T doesn't have a side fan, but because of that, the air flows more naturally through the case, so, win?

    Cases are a tough thing to benchmark, because hardware is always changing as does the ambient temperature of a benchmark.
    I found a Thor V2 benchmark as well as a 600T benchmark. They are both rated, "Alright." As in not the best, but pretty good. So I'm kind of stumped. the 600T had lower thermals, but it was also rocking a totally different set of hardware.

    It seems to be a preference war. I like the 600T because it's only 20" tall, so that's a big plus. I won't have to wedge it under the overhand on my shelf. (Thor V2 looks better in my opinion, but function wise, due to the size, the 600T might be best) Thanks for the recommendation.

    DeusAres said:

    I'll also recommend a few air coolers if you go the air cooling route...

    Noctua NH-D14
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608018

    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099

    ZALMAN CNPS12X 120mm
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835118097


    I keep seeing that Noctua thrown around. My god is that thing ugly. I wish it came in black. It looks to be the best though. I checked the size recommendations fir RAM and the Ripjaws X fits under the Noctua. I need 44mm of clearance for my PCIe slot and I honestly cannot tell if it'll fit or not. That looks like the best CPU heatsink/cooler option though.

    Also, I found this PCI cooling fan:
    [PCI VGA FAN]
    Vantec Spectrum Fan Card with Dual 70mm Adjustable UV LED Fans - I think this might help with the cooling. (See below)

    DeusAres said:

    Also, 2gb Vram is plenty...especially if you plan to do SLI in the future. The only real reason you'd want more vram is for a multi monitor setup...or possibly with screens that exceed 1200p resolution.

    You're gonna have to make a few sacrifices here. Adobe applications typically like cuda cores, so the 3gb 7970 would be out of the question. I'd recommend you use a single 1920x1200 res screen with the Gigabyte gtx 680 2gb.


    UGHHH. I really want that Catleap. WQHD is something I've been dreaming about. I need to check out a 27" WQHD monitors before making this decision. For programming, the extra pixels would be a god sent. But I want PPI more than I want size. So I'm back and forth between the two. And seeing as I already use a WUXGA (1200p) monitor, it'd be nice to upgrade to something better.

    WUXGA @ 24" = 94.34 PPI.
    WQHD @ 27" = 122.38 PPI.


    With that, I'd need a 4GB video card so I don't don't bottle necked in two years when more demanding games come out.
    So it's either the:
    EVGA GeForce GTX 680 FTW 4GB
    or
    Galaxy GeForce GTX 680 GC 4GB - $569.99 @ Amazon

    The EVGA looks like my best bet, but the default cooling option worries me.
    The Galaxy seems to have a better cooling solution, but I only found one review for the card. (There's no user reviews on Newegg/Amazon... scary)

    Here, they touch on thermals, but just barely. The review mostly goes on about power consumption for O/C'ing. There's no comparison to the EVGA 4GB or thermals other than "70*C after 10 minutes of Furmark."

    DeusAres said:

    I recommend this thermal paste...
    ARCTIC COOLING Arctic Cooling MX-4
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186038


    Exactly what I was looking at, thanks!

    Anonymous said:
    The Catleap is in no way too big for 2560x1440 gaming. You will see a HUGE difference in how the game looks on that Catleap. 1080p on 27" is A LOT worse.

    It's the size in general, 27" is big. If I don't do 1440p on 27", I'll be doing 1200p on 24". See above for my PPI comparison. (Huge difference) That's what I care about most of all.
  4. 122 PPI is not too big for 27" 2560x1440.
  5. Yeah, I have to agree...the noctua is one ugly cooler. If you want to spend the extra money, you can buy some separate fans for it. Just make sure the fans you grab match the size of the original fans that came with the heatsink. I think one fan is 120mm and the other is 140mm.

    As for the GPU and monitor, I honestly don't know what to tell you. The design of the EVGA completely blows, whereas the Galaxy isn't very popular and offers little information. I would just go with the Galaxy card for now since you want that higher res monitor. This way you won't have to void the warranty on the EVGA by adding a watercooling block. If something happens, and that EVGA card dies, you're out of nearly $600. I'd play it safe and grab the Galaxy card. It looks as though the cooling would be decent. I'd just recommend you add more case fans, if possible. I'm sure there's plenty of unused fan mounts in the Thor and 600t case.

    Hope this helps; good luck!
  6. Best answer selected by B3RL1N.
  7. I would get the evga card you chose and not use water cooling block on it. The standard air cooling for that card has evga's vapor chamber already installed with it and it should handle temperatures cooler than most other 680s, definitely better than the galaxy one
  8. DeusAres said:
    Yeah, I have to agree...the noctua is one ugly cooler. If you want to spend the extra money, you can buy some separate fans for it. Just make sure the fans you grab match the size of the original fans that came with the heatsink. I think one fan is 120mm and the other is 140mm.

    As for the GPU and monitor, I honestly don't know what to tell you. The design of the EVGA completely blows, whereas the Galaxy isn't very popular and offers little information. I would just go with the Galaxy card for now since you want that higher res monitor. This way you won't have to void the warranty on the EVGA by adding a watercooling block. If something happens, and that EVGA card dies, you're out of nearly $600. I'd play it safe and grab the Galaxy card. It looks as though the cooling would be decent. I'd just recommend you add more case fans, if possible. I'm sure there's plenty of unused fan mounts in the Thor and 600t case.

    Hope this helps; good luck!


    If I end up getting the T600, I'll end up buying a bunch of fans regardless, because it seems as if the T600's fans blow. *Pun intended* Lack of blow, really.

    Paying $85 for a heat sink and $179 for a case then shelling out an extra $10-20 per extra fan is pretty crappy. This is becoming more and more expensive... I'm at the point where I could care less about the color the fan, lol. (I'm OCD, but I'm also lazy/cheap)

    I'm surely going to buy a PCI fan and concerning the case, the T600 lists on newegg: "Side panel with cutout for window AND mesh with room for four 120mm fans — both included!" So it comes with a mesh with fan mounting capabilities. So this means I'm probably going to purchase four more fans and do a air circulatory system with two air in/two out system.

    Honestly, I really care about thermals. I have a 2tb external hard drive that I use, it came with a dinky 40x40x10mm fan which ended up dying on me. So instead of replacing the small fan in the back, I did this:

    Twp usb powered 80mm fans. One sucking air in, the other out. - Now, I know hard drives operate "better" at higher temperatures, but I'd rather shoot for longevity and keep the air circulating.

    In other words, I'll go to an extreme to keep my tech cool.

    Now concerning the Galaxy or EVGA, [i]see below. I think I'm just going to make a post in the GPU section of this forums for advice.

    juno77 said:
    I would get the evga card you chose and not use water cooling block on it. The standard air cooling for that card has evga's vapor chamber already installed with it and it should handle temperatures cooler than most other 680s, definitely better than the galaxy one


    I looked up the vapor cooling on the EVGA and you're right. But again, that single fan scares the heck out of me.

    Another thing to note is that the FTW (I don't want to shell out the extra cash for the FTW+ [Although I will for the Galaxy? Derp@me]) is it's base clocked at: 1006MHz, the Galaxy: 1110MHz. Nice little bump, but again, I could probably OC is myself, plus, that 104MHz jump probably adds thermals to the Galaxy. Either way, there are NO stats on either card. I'm totally taking a shot in the dark here. I don't like that in the least.

    Also, the Galaxy thermals I posted earlier were from Furmark, which apparently (Thank you Google) is a terrible way to test thermals because nVidia cards will throttle the fans and give improper results. :|

    EH! - I guess I'm off to the GPU forums to make a post.
  9. Hey as a random suggestion why not go for a h80 hydro pump or other simple to install hydro pumps for your cpu. I got my h50 when there was no h80 and it's still cooling my cpu strong after 2 years and no hiccups to my OC i7 930 oc'd to 3.8 from 2.8 and it wasn't anymore expensive than that heat sink you had listed up

    I am very conscious about heat and watt usage from my computer too, my main reason is because my room is small and it sucks to be in the same room as my computer if it ran too hot and or used too much wattage. So I recently bought that exact same video card as it appealed to me that I didn't have to OC it for any real reason while playing games at great settings with 1920x1200 res meaning it wouldn't get hotter, and at the stock fan rate it was playing at really low recorded temps.


    EDIT: also if you are looking for a specific kind of fan, I was going crazy as I always did with all everything I was buying for my rig and ended up buying about 7 of these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129056

    and one of this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129058
  10. juno77 said:
    Hey as a random suggestion why not go for a h80 hydro pump or other simple to install hydro pumps for your cpu. I got my h50 when there was no h80 and it's still cooling my cpu strong after 2 years and no hiccups to my OC i7 930 oc'd to 3.8 from 2.8 and it wasn't anymore expensive than that heat sink you had listed up

    I am very conscious about heat and watt usage from my computer too, my main reason is because my room is small and it sucks to be in the same room as my computer if it ran too hot and or used too much wattage. So I recently bought that exact same video card as it appealed to me that I didn't have to OC it for any real reason while playing games at great settings with 1920x1200 res meaning it wouldn't get hotter, and at the stock fan rate it was playing at really low recorded temps.


    EDIT: also if you are looking for a specific kind of fan, I was going crazy as I always did with all everything I was buying for my rig and ended up buying about 7 of these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129056

    and one of this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129058


    Because the Corsair all in ones kinda suck. Not so much performance wise, but because of leaks and noise. Lots of people have had to RMA them.
  11. juno77 said:
    Hey as a random suggestion why not go for a h80 hydro pump or other simple to install hydro pumps for your cpu. I got my h50 when there was no h80 and it's still cooling my cpu strong after 2 years and no hiccups to my OC i7 930 oc'd to 3.8 from 2.8 and it wasn't anymore expensive than that heat sink you had listed up

    I am very conscious about heat and watt usage from my computer too, my main reason is because my room is small and it sucks to be in the same room as my computer if it ran too hot and or used too much wattage. So I recently bought that exact same video card as it appealed to me that I didn't have to OC it for any real reason while playing games at great settings with 1920x1200 res meaning it wouldn't get hotter, and at the stock fan rate it was playing at really low recorded temps.


    EDIT: also if you are looking for a specific kind of fan, I was going crazy as I always did with all everything I was buying for my rig and ended up buying about 7 of these:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129056

    and one of this:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129058


    I appreciate the response. I honestly was considering doing an all in one cooling option, but I'm a bit of a sucker for top quality. While the H80 and H100 do their job, if I was to do a liquid cooling system, I'd rather go all out and build my own system with a GPU block. But that's just the kind of person I am. (Overachiever?) And as Deus Ares stated, there's a high RMA level. Although, I'm sure that for every person who complains, there are 10 or 20 people who were shipped a working product.

    I found this post by AMD4ME (dat name) and he makes a good point about closed loop systems versus open air coolers, bigger = better. In one of his links I found this chart that puts the H100 above the rest. Such a closed loop system does provide excellent cooling.

    BUT, I did find something pretty awesome on that page. The Phanteks PH-TC14PE 140mm UFB. It's nearly identical to the Noctua NH-D14, but it comes in colors other than poop brown and is the same price with better cooling. I just need to make sure that my RAM will fit, it should seeing as it's low profile, but the Phantek is slightly larger than the Noctua.

    I think I just completed my build.

    Those AeroCool fans look pretty cool and I like the blue LEDs. I found this thread here which notes to cut the front grill out of the 600T, the guy doesn't provide any pictures, but it apparently lowered his temps by 20*C... Which I almost have a hard time believing.

    Also, I made a post in the GPU section and got some good responses. I'm probably a week from buying everything. Looks promising. Galaxy GTX 680 4GB looks like a keeper.
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