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1st time build, 2000 USD budget max, help!!!

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September 3, 2012 11:08:44 PM

Hello, this is my 1st time building a computer... scared as hell here but excited as well.

Computer is used for entertainment ie movies, musics, web browsing, gaming (BF3, Guild wars 2, upcoming Mech Warrior Online), video edittings/photoshop

I already had a 30'' monitor with 2560-1600 resolution, so I would like to get at least 60 fps with everything maxed out (AA,AF) please.

Location: U.S.
Close to Microcenter, Frys: Yes
Prefered retailers: Amazon, Tigerdirect (no CA tax)

AMD/Intel: No preference
Nvidia/ATi: No preference

Parts already had: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, OS (Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit w SP1), 5.1 Home theatre Computer sound system (Logitech)
Parts needed: Everything else
Brand preference: Although price/performance is high on my priority list, but given the choice, I prefer high quality/high reputation brand to avoid hassles since this is my first build.

SLI/CF: not sure, do I need this to get at least 60 fps highest graphics settings for those 3 games listed above and for future games as well?

Overclocking: Yes (looking at 4.5+ Ghz or higher)

Budget: 2000 USD, can accomodate about 300 dollars more if needed (I love custom made bike/cars and thus custom made computer is a plus hence I'm willing to spend extra if needed for custom water cooling).

Btw, I was gonna go for Apple Desktop for roughly the same amount of money, but my buddy convinced me to build a PC for myself because he told me I can get much better hardware for the same amount of money. So here I am :) 

More about : 1st time build 2000 usd budget max

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September 4, 2012 12:33:30 AM

Here is a build that you may like. I opt for the high quality/brand instead of the cheap stuff per your request.

Mainboard/CPU combo $509.98
i7 3820
Asus Sabertooth X79
http://cart.microcenter.com/cart.aspx?RedirectUrl=http:...

Memory $32.99 x 2 = $65.98
Crucial Ballistix Tactical 16 GB (4x4 GB) DDR3 1866 Mhz CAS 9-9-9-24 1.5V
http://www.frys.com/product/7147542

Case $149.99 - $30 MIR = $119.99 <----- Best case for watercooling at this price range (room for 420 mm radiator + 280 mm radiator internally)
NZXT Switch 810 Black or White
http://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?N...

PSU $145.99 - $10 coupon code EMCNBGN37 - $20 MIR = $115.99
Corsair HX 750W Gold Modular
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?SID=b372pPYp...

Graphics Card $439.99 - $20 MIR = $419.99 x 2 = $839.98
Gigabyte HD 7970 OC (1Ghz Core) Windforce 3 x2
http://www.amazon.com/Gigabyte-Radeon-Mini-Displayport-...

SSD $154.99
Scandisk Extreme 240 GB Sandforce 3 Toggle Nand
http://www.frys.com/product/6989047

HDD $139.99
Seagate Baracudda 3TB 7200 RPM 64 MB Cache SATA 3
http://www.amazon.com/Seagate-ST2000DM001-Barracuda-3-5...

CPU Watercooling $229.99
XSPC Raystorm EX 240 complete watercooling kit w/ DDC pump
http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_p...

Blueray Burner $59.99 - $5 coupon code BEMCNBKK31 = $54.99
http://www.neweggbusiness.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item...

Total = $2230 which include high end custom watercooling kit

Please note that this system is the highest end system you can ever get (except for the 6 cores CPU) and you can also overclock that i7 3820 to 4.3 ghz (by simply changing CPU ratio to 43 manually in the bios). If you want higher overclocking, change the Strap frequency to 125 Mhz and choose the appropriate CPU ratio (38 to 40) to get the desired speed. If you choose CPU ratio 40 and Strap frequency of 125, you will get 5 Ghz effective CPU clock, which you will need to select appropriate voltage for it (usually 1.45V or higher). I highly recommend you read on overclocking guide on X79 before you play with this to avoid damaging your CPU.

Read watercooling sticky in the watercooling subforum before assembling watercooling kit, this is VERY IMPORTANT to avoid waterleak/damage.

Also, the reason why I don't go for the Z77 system with i7 3770k is because you will pay about the same amount of money for a high quality Z77 motherboard plus a 3770k, so instead of going for Z77 Ivy which is a dead socket, it would make more sense to go for the X79 system and you still can get the option to upgrade next year when Intel release IvyBridge E, which is compatible to the current X79 LGA 2011 socket.
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September 4, 2012 1:42:31 AM

WoW jacknhut I wouldn't think that I can afford that X79 system with a custom watercooling kit with the budget I have. I do have some questions though... How good is that HD 7970 1 ghz core in crossfire? Is 1 enough to handle games at 2560-1600 resolution with max graphics detail or do I need 2?

Reading these posts, I see lots of people suggesting 2 GTX 670 in SLI, is it comparable to 2 HD 7970 1 ghz you suggested? Considering both are about the same price I would rather get the 3 GB memory HD 7970 1 Ghz and overclock them further instead of the 2 GB GTX 670? But I'm new here so I don't know if that is a wise choice?

Also, does that Corsair HX 750W provide enough power for my entire system? Don't I need like 1000W PSU or something for 2 video cards?

Last question, I see that you suggest a custom watercooling kit for me. I'm wondering if the Corsair H100 is better or worse than that kit? I also would like to watercool both of my video cards in the future and so is that kit expandable to video card watercooling?
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September 4, 2012 1:58:48 AM

azeem40 said:
The 7970 is worth the price over the 670 now.

http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7970-crossfire-...
All test runs have enabled:

DX11
Ultra mode
4xMSAAAA enabled
16x AF enabled
HBAO enabled
Level: Operation Swordbreaker

http://www.guru3d.com/imageview.php?image=35483

As you can see, you will get great fps.


Damn that BF3 game is a beast... only 64 fps at 2560 1600 res even with 2 HD 7970... Would I get more fps though since the HD 7970 in that review is at stock and the HD 7970 in jacknhut post is an overclocked one?
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September 4, 2012 2:05:10 AM

Yes, you would, since the one in jack's build is a non-reference card that can be OCed quite a bit further.
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September 4, 2012 2:19:41 AM

After reading jack's post more carefully, I got more questions... What do you mean by "Z77 socket is a dead socket"?

Also, I now understand why you said i7 3770k plus a high quality Z77 motherboard would cost about the same amount of money as the X79 system linked above. I just looked the price of i7 3770k and a Asus Z77 mainboard... they cost around 500 bucks lol... I guess X79 is the way to go for me then.
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September 4, 2012 2:21:22 AM

Z77 is a chipset. LGA 1155 is a socket. Z77 is an Ivy Bridge chipset and after it, there is no more new chipsets for the LGA 1155 socket. It will be replaced by Haswell next year.
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September 4, 2012 2:24:02 AM

azeem40 said:
Z77 is a chipset. LGA 1155 is a socket. Z77 is an Ivy Bridge chipset and after it, there is no more new chipsets for the LGA 1155 socket. It will be replaced by Haswell next year.


Ah so if I want to upgrade my CPU later on, I would have to replace the motherboard as well if I go with Z77. Got it, thx azeem.
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September 4, 2012 2:44:38 AM

Quantum01 said:
WoW jacknhut I wouldn't think that I can afford that X79 system with a custom watercooling kit with the budget I have. I do have some questions though... How good is that HD 7970 1 ghz core in crossfire? Is 1 enough to handle games at 2560-1600 resolution with max graphics detail or do I need 2?

Reading these posts, I see lots of people suggesting 2 GTX 670 in SLI, is it comparable to 2 HD 7970 1 ghz you suggested? Considering both are about the same price I would rather get the 3 GB memory HD 7970 1 Ghz and overclock them further instead of the 2 GB GTX 670? But I'm new here so I don't know if that is a wise choice?

Also, does that Corsair HX 750W provide enough power for my entire system? Don't I need like 1000W PSU or something for 2 video cards?

Last question, I see that you suggest a custom watercooling kit for me. I'm wondering if the Corsair H100 is better or worse than that kit? I also would like to watercool both of my video cards in the future and so is that kit expandable to video card watercooling?


You need 2 HD 7970 1 Ghz to play those games (BF3, Guild Wars 2 etc) at 2560-1600 res with max graphics details to sustain minimum frame rate at 60 fps. You have a very nice and expensive monitor btw. Congrats.

2 GTX 670 in SLI is also very fast, but at the resolution (2560-1600) you are playing, HD 7970 is a bit faster (with recent CAT 12.8 driver), especially with this non reference Gigabyte HD 7970 1 Ghz edition I linked above. Another advantage of the HD 7970 is that it is voltage unlocked in contrast to the voltage locked GTX 670 (except for the MSI GTX 670 PE, which allows you to add 100mV to the core). Anyway, with the Gigabyte HD 7970 OC, you can further overclock it to 1200 Mhz or higher (with voltage increase, 1250-1300 Mhz is not unheard off, although rare). At this frequency, GTX 670 need to overclock to at least 1400 Mhz or higher to compete and it is VERY rare.

That PSU Corsair HX 750W is a high quality PSU, it can handle your system just fine.

For the custom watercooling, that kit can be expanded to include video card watercool later on if needed, you just need to buy video card waterblock (make sure you research carefully which full cover GPU waterblock will fit the Gigabyte HD 7970 since it is a non reference card). Corsair H100 is a close loop watercooling kit, it does not come even close to the kit I linked above and it is not expandable. That is why I suggest you spend a bit more for it and thus have the option to expand later on to video card if needed.

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September 4, 2012 2:45:47 AM

Not even 2 7970 GHz Edition cards can play at min 60fps.
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September 4, 2012 2:57:55 AM

I forgot to mention some of the deals I linked above such as memory, PSU, SSD etc only last today, so you better buy them quick before the price is changed back up again. The rest of the component can wait.
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September 4, 2012 3:02:18 AM

azeem40 said:
Not even 2 7970 GHz Edition cards can play at min 60fps.


With the updated Cat 12.8 driver and if he overclocks those 2 HD 7970 to 1200+ mhz or higher with a 7 ghz memory overclock, It should be pretty managable on BF3. He probably won't be able to sustain 60 fps minimum at all times, but most of the time it should be ok. The other 2 games are pretty new and need further optimization, especially Guild Wars 2.
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September 6, 2012 7:35:56 AM

Bought all of the components! Can't wait to build them this weekend!! Thanks so much everyone, especially jacknhut for the insightful recommendation.
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September 6, 2012 7:37:11 AM

Best answer selected by Quantum01.
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September 6, 2012 7:41:02 AM

You are most welcomed. Let me know if there is any issue installing that watercooling kit. Enjoy your new "super liquid cooled computer"!!!
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September 6, 2012 7:46:03 AM

Now that I think about it, I have no regret buying that full custom liquid cooling kit at all. Gonna save up some money and gonna add the 2 video cards into the liquid cooling loop for sure hehe, probably this Xmas season.

This computer turns out to be much better than the Apple desktop I originally planned.... Guess I gotta take my buddy out for lunch or something this weekend to express my gratitude for saving me money on that Apple for without him, I wouldnt be able to get this kick ass computer.
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