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Complete System - Make Suggestions or Use my Spec

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August 12, 2012 12:14:27 AM

Edit 8/16: Updated motherboard, heat sink, HDD, PSU, and case based on recommendations and research. Updated the budget build to save another $134!

Hi everyone,

This is my first attempt at building a computer in probably over 10 years, and I've been working on this build and learning about current tech all this week. These forums and the Tom's Hardware reviews and charts have been immensely helpful, and most of my questions were already answered. Mad props to all of you.

Thus I present my build to you guys for critique and potential improvement. If you have suggestions for anything at all: matching relative hardware performance, potential bottlenecks, the case it all goes in, thoughts on how well the build fits the theme, please say what you will. If you just want someone to do the work for you to research a homebuilt machine, obviously feel free to use this one. I'll try to keep it updated with suggestions.

The theme of my build is a performance gaming machine with a few guiding principles:

1. Stock Cooling - I don't want to go crazy with cooling solutions on my first go. That means no SLI/Crossfire, no overclocking, and a case that will do most of the work for me. My intent is that stock fans should be sufficient. After multiple urgings to be more proactive, I decided that a minimal investment in additional cooling is a prudent move. Obviously you can invest more if you wish.

2. Tier 2-3 Components - This build does get a little greedy to get higher end gear and nice toys, but not so much so as to make the price tag completely unattainable.

3. Moderate Future-Proofing - Just because I don't want to overclock or multi-GPU now doesn't mean I won't want to later. Once I'm more comfortable with PC building, I'd like the option to start to go nuts with taxing my hardware and having the room to install the requisite cooling.

I also care not at all for Bluray and television hookups. I haven't bought honest to god physical media in probably ten years, and I don't watch TV much. Any compatibility with related technologies is purely incidental.

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 - $190
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz - $230
CPU Heatsink: Cooler Master Hyper 212 - $30
GPU: GIGABYTE GV-N670OC-2GD GeForce GTX 670 2GB - $400
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (8GB x2) - $105
SSD: Corsair Force Series GS 240 GB - $205
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black - $110
Optical: ASUS 24X DVD Burner - $19
PSU: OCZ ZX Series 850W Fully-Modular - $170
Case: Corsair Obsidian Series 650D - $180

Total Cost: $1639

The parts are fairly self explanatory, but I wanted to spend some time on the case and present options since the case is the most subject to personal preference. The 650D is a very solid choice for any high end build, with enough room to expand and cool in almost any way you like. allanitomwesh recommends the NZXT SWITCH 810 on which you can save $10 and have a very serviceable case with some unique features like an LED light for your back I/O panel. If you're feeling adventurous, however, you might try the AZZA Genesis 9000. The biggest noteworthy part of the case is the featured reversible ATX motherboard mount, allowing you to install upside down if you like. The advantage is that you get to pick which one of your CPU or your GPU gets more ready access to the cool intake air, and it has great cooling potential overall. I personally love the look and colors, and if you wish you can also get it in black and red. In either case (cwutididthar?) the motherboard is missing a few inputs, so the e-SATA port on the Genesis and the Firewire port on the 650D are both wasted and will go empty. Obviously if these inputs are important to you, you should seek another motherboard. Also don't miss any potential rebates on the hardware!

If you want to save a little money for a perfectly acceptable performance reduction, you can make these substitutions:

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V LX LGA 1155 - saves $50
CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz - saves $30
Forgoing the heatsink completely saves $30
GPU: GIGABYTE GV-N570OC-13I Rev2.0 GeForce GTX 570 (Fermi) 1280MB - saves $90
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) - saves $59
Forgoing the SSD completely saves $205
PSU: OCZ ZT Series 650W Fully-Modular - saves $70
Case: Rosewill Blackhawk - saves $90

Budget version: $1015

Obviously you're kind of rolling the dice without the aftermarket heat sink. Establish good airflow in the case, and make sure to monitor your CPU temp. If it's getting out of hand, $30 on a better cooling option is incredible value so don't hesitate.

The LX motherboard effectively trades down a PCIe 3.0 slot for another PCI slot, significant in certain setups. While the slots go unused in the base build, it does hurt a little bit in the future-proofing and expandability department, so mind your limits as you consider cards to fill those slots. You will also lose 2 SATA 6Gb/s hookups, though you retain all 4 SATA 3Gb/s. This limits your potential RAID options, though not cripplingly so. Two USB 3.0 ports become 2.0 ports, though the total number of all ports is the same. The biggest drawback is that this board will never support SLI or Crossfire. I wanted the option of using it later, but if you're ambivalent about it, you can use the P8Z77-V LX without looking back. And finally you will lose some optimization features of the P8Z77-V as well as the handy USB BIOS Flashback feature. These are niceties, but your system will perform admirably without them. If you absolutely must SLI/Crossfire with this build, a sound option might be the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155.

The 3450 CPU is fairly close in power to the 3570-K and will do well with one huge caveat: you cannot overclock the 3450 at all. If you never plan to do this, I actually recommend it over the 3570-K as did Tom's Hardware review.

And of course skipping the SSD means you can't make your OS and certain games super speedy. It should be noted that the only performance gains to be had with an SSD is load times - in game FPS isn't affected. Still, you only live once, and staring at splash screens is a pretty awful way to spend it in my book.

Once you downgrade to the P8Z77-V LX motherboard and lock yourself out of multiple GPUs, you probably don't need the Genesis 90000 or Obsidian 650D case, so the Blackhawk becomes an attractive, low cost option. It even has a very accessible SATA hot swap dock on the front I/O panel, same as the Obsidian 650D. Also the power requirements go down considerably as you don't have to plan for eventual SLI, so the 650W PSU will serve you more than adequately.

So now a few questions for the build:

I am least confident in my selection of PSU. I put in a 1000W supply for two reasons. I wanted to have future additions covered (like SLI or overclocking), and I wanted to make sure that I won't run into problems as the PSU ages. However the tool I used to rate power for my potential future conditions had trouble recognizing the CPU I'm using. I might be overstating even my future needs, or I might be closer than I think. Any recommendations are appreciated, and I consider modular power supply to be a must. Thanks to TechGuru1 of the NewEgg forums for helping out on this front!

Also the case I picked seems like it might be overkill for my setup. I picked it because I absolutely want easily removable dust filters for all my fan intakes, and having the room for future liquid cooling is nice as well. Also I really like the idea of a hot-plug bay for drives using eSATA (is that right? or is it regular SATA?). Will the eSATA for my motherboard hook into the hotplug drive bay at the top on this case? Or do I have a fundamental misunderstanding of how it all goes together?

I picked the cases for several reasons. I absolutely want easily removable dust filters for all my fan intakes, and having the room for future liquid cooling is nice as well. Also I really like the idea of a hot-plug bay for drives using Will the SATA for my motherboard hook into the hotplug drive bay at the top on this case? Or do I have a fundamental misunderstanding of how it all goes together? A little extra research and I'm good on this front except one other question. I've heard that the hot swap dock for the Genesis 9000 requires opening the side panel to access, making it significantly less accessible and convenient. Can anyone confirm?

In considering the Rosewill Blackhawk, the Tom's Hardware review mentions it does not provide an internal connector for USB 3.0. Does that mean that the cables for the front panel are patched through like in the Obsidian 650D? If so some extra gear may be necessary to connect the front panel to the motherboard headers. If you already have the solution, post it please, and I'll make note of it in the budget build.

Thanks all for reading my lengthy post and I appreciate all feedback given for any aspect of the build. I'll also answer questions about my selections for anyone curious.
a b B Homebuilt system
August 15, 2012 7:05:12 PM

Why lie about the extreme 4?It has quad sli,but only dual sli works flawless.Why not get the better force gt ssd?Also,mushkin cronos deluxe is that price. NZXT switch 810 is a better case. Lite on is a cheaper 24×
August 17, 2012 3:38:01 AM

I checked out the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 page again, and you're absolutely correct that it supports SLI and Crossfire. I guess that slipped past me, so thanks for pointing that out. All the same, after getting some recommendations from another forum and some friends of mine, I decided to switch to ASUS boards for their feature set. I'll still reference the Extreme 4 in the budget build for SLI/Crossfire.

Also after checking benchmarks and reviews, the Force GS series is benchmarking higher than the Force GT series and very well overall. The Force GS series is a newer release than the GT, so there aren't that many in the wild yet. While we don't know much about its longevity and reliability yet, I'm willing to give it a shot. The Cronos Deluxe also does very well, but my findings show it getting edged out. If you've got benchmarks that show better, I'd love to see them.

The Switch 810 is a pretty solid case, no doubt. I find it odd that the "hot swap" bay seems to require tools and screws which makes it quite a bit less hot, but I could be looking at the bay wrong. I'll add it to the case options, as I've found that the case is the hardest decision, and personal preference is pretty huge. Personally I'm probably going to instead opt for the Genesis 9000 for its interesting cooling options and reverse ATX install option.

Yeah, the Lite On is cheaper by like a dollar, I just went with ASUS because I like them. But if you gotta save the buck there it is. :)  Thanks for the response!
a b B Homebuilt system
August 17, 2012 4:07:09 AM

You might also want to consider either,corsair carbide 300r or antec three hundred two for the budget build.
I'm yet to research the gs cards,I personally like the mushkin for value/performance
The seasonic platinum 1000w is also $15 more.
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