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$1200 gaming/multimedia machine advice

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October 4, 2012 4:29:12 PM

Hi all. My first post here. I have loosely followed suggestions on the site for many years now, but finally find myself in the position to put together a new (budget) dream machine.

Here are my parameters...

Approximate Purchase Date: Over the next few weeks
Budget Range: $1200
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Adobe CS6 Photoshop/Illustrator/InDesign, AutoCAD
Are you buying a monitor: No
Parts to Upgrade: Case, Motherboard, Power Supply, CPU, GPU, RAM, SSD, BD Optical drive, after-market cooling.
Do you need to buy OS: No (plan on running Windows 8 beta for a bit)
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon, Newegg, Tigerdirect
Parts Preferences: Intel, Nvidia, EVGA.
Overclocking: Yes
SLI or Crossfire: No
Your Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

What am I doing exactly? I am upgrading from my Dell XPS 700 that I purchased over 5 years ago. I have been playing HL2 engine games with little difficulty, but want to be able to run newer titles (such as MechWarrior Online, MW2, Guildwars 2). I do a lot of multimedia work (photo, video, audio) and need to have the headroom to run multiple programs working in large-format design projects. I also plan on starting my M.Arch next fall and will need the graphics processing power to do high-end renders. Bottom line, I want to be able to run games and graphics-intensive programs with minimal bottlenecking.

Here is my build thus far:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($25.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($94.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($41.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card ($289.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Rosewill BlackHawk ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($51.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($62.39 @ Newegg)
Total: $937.30
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

Not quite sure which video card is the best value, but the GTX 660 Ti is in the correct price range. However, I still have another $200 of headroom. Any recommendations there? Look forward to whatever help you can all give me!

Thanks!
October 4, 2012 11:28:39 PM

Looks good to me, since your only gaming at 1680x1050 you wouldnt need more than a 660ti anyway even that is overkill. I would put that money towards a better PSU though possible an corsair TX650.
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October 4, 2012 11:39:50 PM

I'd go for a stronger PSU than a Builder series on a $1K budget. 500W would be like the bare minimum with a 660TI as that system would most likely use around 381W and 500W would be cutting it close. Here's what I would get for that money:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($229.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($30.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($142.86 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($297.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($81.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS224-06 DVD/CD Writer ($27.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $1026.32
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

The 7950 is a far better value in that range, and the Corsair 300R is a better case than the Rosewill Blackhawk.
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October 4, 2012 11:39:55 PM

Final build looks like this.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($25.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($41.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($297.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Rosewill BlackHawk ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($81.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1007.46
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

G-unit- why the 300R over the Blackhawk? The Rosewill seems to be a better all around case according to newegg reviews. I always read the negatives :p 

Edit: I think the Radeon will be a better deal. I included it in this build.
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October 4, 2012 11:47:25 PM

eliasmoose said:
Final build looks like this.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($25.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($41.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($229.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Rosewill BlackHawk ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($95.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On ihes112-04 Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $953.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

If I choose to upgrade to a 1920x1080 monitor, will I have any problems with newer titles at max settings? I suppose I could always go for an SLI build because of the case room/cooling and a 650W supply
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If you're set on spending ~$250 on a video card the Radeon 7870 GHz edition would be a far safer bet than a reference 660 would be.

Don't settle for SLI - one solid, strong GPU is *ALWAYS* better than two weaker ones. There's always a few exceptions but that deals with the much higher priced models. Dual 670's will match a single 690's performance while dual 7970's will beat it.
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October 4, 2012 11:51:26 PM

I dont mind shelling out a little more for more longevity on my gpu since I'm ruling out SLI. The 7950 looks like the right deal.
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October 4, 2012 11:53:16 PM

Quick thoughts:

1. I have the cpu & mobo. I love them, but I would consider your original MOBO for $50 less ... I think you would be just as happy with it and the $50 in your pocket.
2. Microcenter often has CPU & mobo combo deals. got my 3570k & extreme 4 for just under $300 this summer. Only catch: gotta go to store to pick up
3. Love my SSD !! I'd get the cheapest of Crucial M4, Samsung 830, or Intel 330.
4. Case: HAF 912 has all the room you'll ever need, thrifty - if you got the space.

Good luck !!
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October 5, 2012 12:05:45 AM

odiervr said:
Quick thoughts:

1. I have the cpu & mobo. I love them, but I would consider your original MOBO for $50 less ... I think you would be just as happy with it and the $50 in your pocket.
2. Microcenter often has CPU & mobo combo deals. got my 3570k & extreme 4 for just under $300 this summer. Only catch: gotta go to store to pick up
3. Love my SSD !! I'd get the cheapest of Crucial M4, Samsung 830, or Intel 330.
4. Case: HAF 912 has all the room you'll ever need, thrifty - if you got the space.

Good luck !!


Thank you very much! Ill be on the lookout for combo deals both on Newegg and microcenter.

The reason I went for the Extreme4 over the Pro3 seemed to be reliability more than anything else. Nothing like having your first build delayed indefinitely by a string of DOA motherboards.

Im also a bit of a stickler for quick load times, and the OCZ seems to be a faster drive according to TH and others. Only seems to be a marginal price difference for the best drive on the market.

Cases seem to be a personal thing, and I'm enamored with both the Blackhawk and the 300R at this point. Will be sure to check out the HAF 912.

Edit: The Corsair 650W supply also comes in a semi-modular design, which is worth another $20, yes?
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October 5, 2012 12:14:33 AM

Sounds like you've did your homework. You'll do great. I was a complete noob - 1st build in June. Newegg computer build parts 2& 3 made it very easy to build and OS install.

Samsung has a new SSD (follow on to the 830 ...) 840 that's got great reviews as well and is very fast - but more expensive.

HAF 912 is very basic ... if you're happywith the Blackhawk & 300R - stick with em. the HAF is the thrifty version ... Good Luck !!

I got a PC Power and Computer Mk III, 600w PSU - and yeah - I like the modular aspect. My only concern is my disorganization. If I ever need another cable (pcie comes to mind) chances of finding that cord are gonna be 50/50 ... but mayb that's just me. Bottom line: yes on modular.
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October 5, 2012 1:56:15 AM

Best answer selected by eliasmoose.
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