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Efficient Gaming System Build - First-timer Needs Help

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October 20, 2012 10:32:03 PM

New Efficient (Energy/$$) Gaming Computer Build

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next week

Budget Range: $700 to $900

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
Gaming, but must run all manner of graphics and productivity software (short of video editing).

Are you buying a monitor:
Not unless we really need one. Same with mouse and keyboard.
Currently has a basic Dell flat-panel display

Parts to Upgrade: New Build...Current system is a Dell XPS 400 with an Nivdia 9400GT with 512MB

Do you need to buy OS: Yes….Windows 7? 64-bit that can run our stock of legacy 32-bit software.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.com

Location: Hillsborough, NJ, USA

Parts Preferences: Open to all suggestions to meet the end goals described below.

Overclocking: Probably not necessary at this point.

SLI or Crossfire: Remain open as future expansion option.

Your Monitor Resolution: Currently at: 1280x1024 looking for better is possible.

Additional Comments:
We want a solid game-oriented system to meet the following goals:
1) High-rated, but energy efficient GPU
2) Energy efficient overall
3) Runs cool and quiet (low dB fans, etc.)
(My sons current system is very loud and is pumping out a lot of heat…even at idle…which is very concerning to me.)
4) Able to run the high-end games at higher resolutions and frame-rates (i.e. not a slouch)
5) Built on a solid base (CPU, case, motherboard) with flexibility to expand and enhance down the road with:
a) A second GPU?
b) Cooling system?
c) More RAM?

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading:
Current system is old and lame for the current desired and future games to be played.

Proposed Build List:
Not being experienced in selecting such equipment, I went with parts showing good positive reviews on NewEgg. I understand many of the parameters involved in each item, but with such a wide range of options I am sure I am not making the best selections for our needs. I don’t want to inadvertently put together a new system that is very energy wasteful and runs hot due to poor equipment combination. Substitutions at each level to help meet the listed goals most cost efficiently would be greatly appreciated. If we can save money while meeting all the goals listed and maybe seeing improved performance (over what I selected) that would be excellent.

COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic
ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $59.99

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

AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 3.1GHz Socket AM3+ 125W Eight-Core $159.99
Desktop Processor FD8120FRGUBOX
(I read this was an energy efficient CPU over the Intel i5...can we do better??)

G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 $54.99
(PC3 14900) Desktop Memory Model F3-14900CL9D-8GBSR

COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M600 RS-600-AMBA-D3 600W ATX12V V2.3 $99.99
SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Bronze Certified Modular ...

Intel PWLA8391GT 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI Desktop Adapter PRO/1000 GT - OEM $30.99

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM $19.99

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

GIGABYTE GV-R787OC-2GD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 $259.99
PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video ...
(Could really use help here.)

Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" $74.99
Internal Hard Drive - Bare Drive


Thanks to anyone who can help.



More about : efficient gaming system build timer

a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 10:43:59 PM

If someone told you the 8120 was energy efficient they were trolling you... It uses almost twice as much as a 3570K. The 3570K will perform better too, and it will work on the mobo you picked.

If you buy the mobo from Newegg they toss in 8GB ram free, which is all you need for a gaming build.

CM PSUs are crap; get one of these: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/pc-power--cooling-power-su...

You don't need a separate network adaptor; onboard is fine.

See if you can fit a 7950. The PSU will support a second later. One of these maybe:http://pcpartpicker.com/part/sapphire-video-card-100352...

If you don't want to OC you could get an i5-3450 and save some money.

CM HAF cases are generally fairly loud and full of fans. You might want to research alternatives, though cases are mainly up to you, as not everybody likes the same style.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 10:50:25 PM

AMD CPU won't work with that motherboard. Intel are MUCH more energy efficient than AMD. An Intel i5 normally has a TDP of 77w, compared to Zambesi's 125w. It will be tight to squeeze i5, into budget, with operating system, if you want overclocking. Power supply wants changing, Coolermaster are not reliable, when it comes to PSU's.
Fractal Refine R4 would be a good choice for a quiet case, although, in order to be quiet, ventilation is a bit limited, if you want to add 2nd graphics card, in future. Do you need wi-fi connection, for internet?
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Related resources
October 20, 2012 11:08:22 PM

Someone Somewhere - Thanks I will look into the recommended options. You've saved me a few $$ already. Are any of the GeForce GPU's comparable and worth considering based on our goals?

malbluff - Thanks also. Not really up on the whole overclocking option and what the impact would be for the system I am trying to build. I didn't think we would need that level of performance or complexity. Not even sure how to leave the "door open" at this point. RE wi-fi it's not critical at this point as our home hardwired throughout and this is static system.
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October 20, 2012 11:12:40 PM

hunterpostit88 said:
Just a question...How will you get an AMD CPU into an Intel socket? Here's a build:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/kUtI



Ah ha...got me. That's exactly why I stopped in here. Being really green I thought it prudent to run my plan by the experts. Sounds like I did the right thing. :??:  Thanks for the recommended build.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 11:17:09 PM

Put this foreward, as some possible options, to meet most of your requirements. At least a starting point, as to what can be done.
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3450 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($186.97 @ CompUSA)
Motherboard: Asus P8H77-V ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($115.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($244.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 400R ATX Mid Tower Case ($84.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS224-06 DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $894.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
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a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 11:28:13 PM

One point with my build. Your desire to have the option to add a 2nd graphics card does limit options, within the budget. Without that, it would be possible to use a cheaper motherboard, and lower wattage power supply. That would free up some funds, to possibly put towards quieter case, or more powerful graphics card. You could use funds towards an overclockable processor, although, to be honest, you would get more performance benefit, from a better graphics card, unless there were funds to do both.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 11:34:04 PM

Just get a Z77 Extreme4. Cheaper (as it comes with 8GB RAM saving you $40), plus it supports 2 GPUs.
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October 20, 2012 11:42:03 PM

malbluff - thanks for the update and system rec. I am learning as we go along and appreciate all the recs.

Don't the i5's have an on-board graphics card as well? If so, there a way to use that as a second GPU... with any real benefit?

Can anyone in nutshell describe what is involved in building a quiet system? Might help me pick a better case. All cases come with fans, right?
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a b 4 Gaming
October 20, 2012 11:51:00 PM

Pretty much all cases come with fans. Main thing is to ensure that the case doesn't have large areas of grill facing at you.

You can use Virtu to use the iGPU, but IMO it's probably more hassle than it's worth.
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October 21, 2012 12:07:42 AM

Someone Somewhere - OK. What controls when the fans come on and off...or... are they always on? Are there some kind of system controls for the cooling system. I understand some better fans run slower and quieter, but cost more. Is it worth considering upgrading to these type of fans? I see some cases come with sound deadening...I would think that would impede cooling. Seems like I highjacked my own thread...but I'm definitely learning something here.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 21, 2012 12:15:31 AM

Generally the motherboard will control the fans by changing the voltage going to them, based on how hot the system is. So when you computer is idling they are almost silent, when its working hard they spin faster and make more noise. Some are designed to be directly connected to the PSU and spin at a constant speed.

EDIT: You can also buy fan controllers (and some cases include them) that have a knob on the front of the case and you choose how fast you want the fans to run.
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October 21, 2012 12:47:20 AM

Thanks again. I've got some time this weekend to do some more research and look to further optimize based on your recommendations so far. You've already saved me some problems. Learning about cases and cooling right now. I will post an updated build sheet for a final once over.

If anyone else has a recommended build or thought...I'm all ears...er, eyes. Thanks.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 21, 2012 12:53:05 AM

Some case manufacturers make a bit of an effort to reduce noise levels, by good "housekeeping", like putting foam, or similar, between joined components, to cut down on rattling, and that sort of thing, but they all tend to use fairly cheap fans, which can be noisy. You can always take measures, to reduce noise, if that's important, like fitting better quality, quieter case fans. An aftermarket cooler, for CPU, will tend to be quieter, than the stock cooler. Some graphics cards are a lot quieter than others. Unfortunately quiet tends to cost money. It's usually best to just make sensible choices, to start with. Try it, and then decide if an part of the system is noisier than you want it to be, and then work out the best way to alleviate the problem. Unless you try to cram too much "power" in too basic a case, there are always fairly simple ways to make it quieter.
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October 21, 2012 1:04:42 AM

Can you go to a Microcenter store? Their cpu prices are usually 30+$ off retail.

You can get a 3570k for 190

Please leave overclocking as a future option, if you buy a 30$ hyper 212 EVO as a cpu cooler your temps will be cooler and your cpu will be faster and quieter compared to the stock fan.


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October 21, 2012 1:16:32 AM

malbluff - Cool...so to speak.

xTwiinky - Ironically, I was just reading the NewEgg reviews on the 212 EVO as you posted.

In doing my research I can see how $$'s keep inching upwards as you look into the next "must have" item.
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a b 4 Gaming
October 21, 2012 1:32:53 AM

That's always the case. At some stage, you have to draw a "line in the sand" Sometimes it's better to do it the other way round. Design for your ideal "wish list". See how far it's over budget, and then see the best things to cut, for minimum performance loss.
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October 21, 2012 1:41:55 AM

malbluff - "That's always the 'case'." I see what you did there. Sorry, getting punchie. Same deal with auto performance...too much stuff to have...too little cash to buy it.
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October 28, 2012 1:22:54 PM


Back on the Case (continuing my poor pun from the previous post)...

Thanks to all who have responded to my request for feedback. I appreciate it. Your input has allowed my to understand some of the tradeoffs at this level of gaming system and do some research. Based on this I've come up with the two alternate systems for final consideration...with your approval that is.

I've considered going up a notch in price and capability...to a i5 3570/Z77 based system. The two options listed below vary only in the GPU chosen. If you would provide a final check and feedback on my assumptions that would be great. Still looking for an energy efficient/low noise system with expansion possibilities... overclocking, second GPU down the line. I would appreciate any recommended improvements. I'm going with the concept that the right CPU cooler would actually make the system quieter due to more efficient cooling.
One question that arises between the two options...would it be better to save $100 on a lesser CPU or go with the lessor GPU.

Option 1:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/l7Nt

Option 2:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/l7H0

Thanks again. It's about time to order this sucker.
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October 28, 2012 2:25:22 PM

NJGamerski said:
Back on the Case (continuing my poor pun from the previous post)...

Thanks to all who have responded to my request for feedback. I appreciate it. Your input has allowed my to understand some of the tradeoffs at this level of gaming system and do some research. Based on this I've come up with the two alternate systems for final consideration...with your approval that is.

I've considered going up a notch in price and capability...to a i5 3570/Z77 based system. The two options listed below vary only in the GPU chosen. If you would provide a final check and feedback on my assumptions that would be great. Still looking for an energy efficient/low noise system with expansion possibilities... overclocking, second GPU down the line. I would appreciate any recommended improvements. I'm going with the concept that the right CPU cooler would actually make the system quieter due to more efficient cooling.
One question that arises between the two options...would it be better to save $100 on a lesser CPU or go with the lessor GPU.

Option 1:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/l7Nt

Option 2:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/l7H0

Thanks again. It's about time to order this sucker.


I would definatly go with option 2 the Asus Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card beats a GTX 680 and is alot faster than a 7870 :) 
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