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New Gaming/Music Prod. Unit from Scratch (~$1200)

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August 19, 2012 6:48:48 AM

Hellos Tom's Hardware! So I'm finally ready to build a unit from scratch, including the monitor and all. I'm going to be buying it over the course of 1.5-2 months as I simply can't afford to buy all the parts at once, but I'll be ordering my first set of parts as soon as I have confirmation from some people here that everything looks good.

Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: Starting tomorrow and up to 2 months from now

Budget Range: Approx. 1100-1300 after rebates, but I can be persuaded to spend more or less if there is clear value.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: High end games on highest settings (BF3, D3 and future games), music production (Reason), media center usage (netflix, Hulu etc.), internet browsing.

Are you buying a monitor: Yes

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg

Location: Springfield, Missouri, USA

Parts Preferences: Leaning towards AMD for the sake of price, but I am not very knowledgeable about hardware so this is not set in stone.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080 (23" screen)

Additional Comments: Want to be able to run games on very high settings, while not getting hardware that is far more powerful than necessary. Would like computer to perform very well for several years, at which point mobo/CPU/GPU can be upgraded. Willing to invest extra money in parts like a screen, power supply, case etc. if it means it lasts l onger. Also only need one HDMI output, I don't mind unplugging my monitor to plug in the TV if it saves money.

Monitor - $149.99 ($159.99 before rebate) ASUS VS Series VS238H-P Black 23" 2ms HDMI LED Backlight Widescreen LCD Monitor 250 cd/m2 50,000,000:1

Case - $59.99 Antec Three Hundred Two Gaming Case, Black (Anyone have any good or bad information on this case?)

Motherboard - $134.99 ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Power Supply - $79.99 CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
[/url] (Read around a bit and heard Corsair was a good PSU brand, I assume 600W should be enough for this build. Anyone disagree?)

Memory - $40.99 Wintec One 8GB (2 x 4GB)16009U9H-8GK (Went down from 2133 to 1600, this negligible dfference is worth saving $30 from what I understand)

Processor - $229.99 Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I53570K

SSD - $92.99 SanDisk SDSSDP-128G-G25 2.5" 128GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) (I've heard you have to be careful about certain brands of SSDs, is this a good one?)

GPU - $249.99 ASUS HD7850-DC2-2GD5-V2 Radeon HD 7850 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (Still open to improvements here if they seem worthwhile.)

Windows - $99.99 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM

As much feedback as possible is appreciated, I'm not too terribly hardware savvy. If this is overkill for games, by all means let me know, I'd certainly appreciate spending less money. On the flipside however, if this isn't quite fast enough to play new games on really high graphical settings, I'm willing to pony up the extra dough. My first build-your-own computer, I'm very excited as I've wanted to this my entire life (I'm 21 and finally have a decent enough job to support buying parts in phases.) Also, is anything I selected a bad choice?

Thanks in advance, I know I've asked a lot but when you're spending over a grand it can't hurt :p 


-Gurb
August 19, 2012 9:12:31 AM

At this point, having spent several hours researching GPUs, it would seem the 7850 is worth the extra dough. I suppose my main concern is the processor, Tomshardware's list for best gaming CPUs for the money was pretty much exclusively intel-- so I'm leaning towards the i5-3570K now.
August 19, 2012 9:22:17 AM

The CPU could be better, as you stated the i5 3570K would be the better choice. Honestly you have made some solid choices but IMO, you can do better.

Check out my $1000 build here:
http://www.squidoo.com/electronicandmore
OS (+69): www.softwaresupplygroup.com/microsoft-windows-7-home-pr...
Monitor (+140): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Total: $1240

OS site is BBB approved with A+ rating based in Utah. As for the build, you'll get a better GPU, you'll be getting a more reliable PSU (The older CM units like the Extreme series were not so great), you'll get a better CPU and the SSD is still there.

I personally like the Mushkin Chronos 120GB but that's just me:
http://www.amazon.com/Mushkin-Chronos-2-5-Inch-Solid-MK...
Related resources
August 19, 2012 10:47:32 AM

A few things. That Cooler Master Scout is a great looking case but it's only two flaws is no front 3.0 USB ports and any decent sized after market cpu h/s will cause you to lose the top exhaust fan due to it's layout and size. You can get a 3.0 USB panel that snaps onto the front of that case for about $20 (Biostar under case accessories @ newegg). Also I wouldn't touch an OCZ SSD with a 10 ft. pole...especially the Vortex 3 series. And as far as Cooler Master psu's go they aren't one to be recommended on here for quality. With that said here's a build to take a look at. That MSI GTX 660 ti down below is factory over clocked with more headroom for future over clocking.


http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Three-Hundred-Two-Gaming/dp... $63.21 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Antec Three Hundred Two Gaming Case, Black 2 x Front USB 3.0

http://www.amazon.com/XFX-ATX-550-Power-Supply/dp/B004R... $65.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
XFX ATX 550w 80+ Bronze Power Supply - P1550SXXB9

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $84.99 FREE SHIPPING
ASRock Z75 Pro3 LGA 1155 Intel Z75 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $531.98 save: $8.00 - $10.00 Mail In Rebates
Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I53570K
MSI N660 Ti PE 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $34.99 - $29.99 after $5.00 rebate FREE SHIPPING
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Fan (RR-212E-20PK-R2)

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $43.99 FREE SHIPPING
G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9D-8GAO

http://www.amazon.com/Sony-AD-7280S-0B-Internal-Drive-B... $17.99 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25
Sony AD-7280S-0B 24x SATA Internal DVD+/-RW Drive (Black)

http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-Barracuda-3-5-Inch-Intern... $86.63 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Seagate Barracuda 7200 1 TB 7200RPM SATA 6 Gb/s NCQ 64MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST1000DM003

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $92.99 FREE SHIPPING
SanDisk SDSSDP-128G-G25 2.5" 128GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Premium-64bit-System-Buil... $90.63 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit (Full) System Builder DVD 1 Pack

http://www.amazon.com/VS228H-P-21-5-Inch-Full-HD-Monito... $136.40 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
ASUS VS228H-P 21.5-Inch Full-HD LED Monitor (Black) | 5ms; 50,000,000:1 ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio; Full 1080P with HDMI

Total: $1,249.79 *not including shipping & rebates


http://usa.asus.com/Display/LCD_Monitors/VS228HP/#overv... <----- another look at that monitor

http://www.asrock.com/mb/Intel/Z75%20Pro3/ <----- another look at that board along with a link to the latest bios
August 19, 2012 10:56:57 AM

First, the HD7850 is definitely worth the extra.

The i5-3570k is also probably better, as aznshinobi said, but wont fit with your first motherboard. I reccomend this (AsRock z77 Extreme4) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Another case that i really like is the bitfenix raider for only $10 more. It has great cooling and 4xUSB 3.0 ports. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

That memory seems pretty expensive, even if it is good quality. G.Skill RAM such as Ripjaws or Ares seem to be pretty good value IMHO.

Also, if you are gonna buy a 1Tb HDD later, do you really need to SSD? You could just get a 1Tb Seagate Barracuda for a bit less than the SSD you have listed. SSD's areof most use for boot times, so if you are happy to wait an extra 30-40 seconds every time you turn on your computer, i would recommend the HDD instead. The money you save there you can use for a better PSU, or upgrade GPU to HD7870 (its about $300 instead of $250). Or otherwise, you could just keep it in your pocket :)  .
August 19, 2012 11:07:39 AM

Hiya, why waste money on a factory OC GPU? Surely you are better of just buying a cheaper one and OC'ing it yourself.
August 19, 2012 11:31:14 AM

Tankata said:
Hiya, why waste money on a factory OC GPU? Surely you are better of just buying a cheaper one and OC'ing it yourself.

Because it's a difference of less than $10 and that's made up with that combo not to mention the $10 rebate which makes it even cheaper than the stock 660 ti hence the reason that card I linked is combo'd with that cpu.
August 19, 2012 11:39:31 AM

K sorry, didn't actually compare the prices on newegg and notice the difference provided by the combo
August 20, 2012 4:44:17 PM

Thanks for the infoz people! Tankata, I'm sticking with SSD+HDD because I don't have a backup drive, and I shouldn't have more than 80GB that I would want to access on a daily basis. I've updated several of the parts in my build, but am still unsure on what I ought to change the PSU to, and I'm now looking at other cases as well. My big questions currently --
if that memory isn't worth the extra cash, what's everyone's opinion on where I draw the line on RAM in terms of speed/timing?

Also, for the GPU, I assume it's worth spending the extra $40 to get the 2GB GDDR5 model, is this correct?

Still open to suggestions on other parts as well--thanks a ton guys, I'm not exactly rich so this is a big investment for me and I want to get the most for the money.
August 21, 2012 4:23:57 AM

I'm still not sure what PSU to go with as I really know nothing of the reliability of the brands--beyond that, I can't find the watt usage of that 7850, and I'm not sure what else has a significant amount of power usage--would 550W suffice or do I want to go with 650W? As well, is the performance difference in the RAM i selected not worth the extra $30?

Would still like some recommendations for brand of SSD (is Sandisk reliable) and especially a case, as I've been notified that the one I selected does not have frontside USB 3.0 ports, which is something I would prefer, and that if I get a non-stock CPU HS and fan I may have space issues, and I do plan to overclock fairly soon. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated, my level of knowledge is lacking and I'm going to start ordering parts tomorrow. Thanks again for all the assistance, the responses have already been a massive help. Thanks! :hello: 
August 21, 2012 5:09:25 AM

550W for one 7850 (could go on less like the Seasonic M12II 520W) and 650W for 2 7850s.
August 21, 2012 8:07:46 AM

Yeah, 550w if u don't want to upgrade, 650 if u are maybe going to add another 7850 in future.

Corsair HX-650w is a really great PSU, even though it costs a little extra.
Otherwise TX-550m is good for 550w. Both of these are also modular :) 
August 21, 2012 8:17:02 AM

550w is fine especially since you don't seem like you'll need to Crossfire in the future. It's worth the extra money to get more ram if you'll render/create a lot of things with this Music Production computer. I know that video and photo editing take a lot, I don't know that Music/audio would take as much RAM but possibly. Ask around friends, but try for google. Google the program you use and its forums, usually those people will have a better idea.

Sandisk is fairly nice, Mushkin as well. All are solid.l
August 26, 2012 7:04:51 PM

Thanks for the information aznshinobi, so for this build 520W should be sufficient? I know the CPU I got is only pulling 77W but I'm not sure how much a 7850 pulls, nor the rest of the system. Leaning towards that Rosewill one for sure, definitely a good price.
August 26, 2012 9:10:51 PM

Yep it's fine! The 7850 pulls, I believe... 130w at its stock. That's going to be 207+ MAYBE 50w for the system. You'll be fine. The only real power guzzlers are the GPU and CPU, the rest of the system even with a crazy water cooling loop should only run you about 100-150w. A normal person with a few cathodes probably around 50w.
August 30, 2012 11:22:37 PM

Just ordered my board, now looking at PSU, memory and HDD to have a semifunctional rig this check. Most recommendations are listing 1600 MHz RAM, is it worth the extra money to go with 2133? I could really use addition information on memory.
August 31, 2012 12:05:09 AM

No it isn't worth it to go for 2133. Speeds above 1333 or at 1333 will not vary too much in performance. The difference will be unnoticeable.

Lower clocks (CL9 vs CL8 vs etc.) the lower the number the faster the ram but the less stable when you overclock. However stray away from 10, CL9 is good enough.
!