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New gaming build, please review/input!

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Last response: in Systems
October 22, 2012 7:19:00 PM

I have a semi-solid list of parts for my new gaming build, but I would appreciate some input and review since it's been a while - my current machine has been running strong for a long while, but it's finally time to retire it in favor of something more powerful.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions/critique/input/etc!

And now for the template:

Approximate Purchase Date: This week

Budget Range: Up to ~$2000

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Primarily gaming, some 3d rendering/photoshop

Are you buying a monitor: Yes, but maybe not initially. Currently using a Samsung SyncMaster 2243, want to change to a dual-monitor setup

Parts to Upgrade/Tenative Parts List:


Mostly happy with the look of this case, but would be open to considering others based on input.

MOBO: ASUS P8Z77-V PRO LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

I waffled on Z77 vs Z68 for a while; ended up picking this Z77 in the end. Thoughts?

GPU: EVGA 04G-P4-3685-KR GeForce GTX 680 FTW Standard, w/Backplate 4GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16

I've had great experiences with EVGA's support, so I'm sticking with them. Getting the 4GB FTW version instead of going SLI. Pretty solid on this part.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge 3.5GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor

Opted for this instead of a slower 6-core; pretty solid here too, but I'd appreciate input if there's something people feel is clearly better - dont want to wait for Intel's next Tick!

CPU Cooler: CORSAIR Hydro Series H80 (CWCH80) High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler

Reading reviews/comments on the i7-3770K suggests that a H80 or H100 will handle its heat issues, and the H100 looks too big for the case. If there's an equivalent/better air cooling solution I'll consider it - I'm not confident in my ability to set up a DIY watercooling system. My main question is how the H80 fits into the case, and/or which fan I should hook the radiator to.

RAM: 2x G.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866 (PC3 14900) - i.e. 2x (2x4GB) = 16GB

Pretty sure about the 16GB quantity - better to get it all at once and it's cheapish anyway. I picked 1866 instead of 1600 for a little boost, but I could use more detailed input on the pros/cons of doing so. I did check that this ram is listed on ASUS's page for the above mobo:

SSD: OCZ Vertex 4 VTX4-25SAT3-256G 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

SSD from the recommended builds page, bumped it up to 256GB; looks pretty solid to run the OS and a few games.

HDD: Western Digital WD Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

Could use some input on the HDD selection - I'm not familiar with the 'Intellipower' option, so I've selected this for now. I figure this will be where most games (Steam) get run from, with a few exceptions.

PSU: CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular

The 680 is pretty hefty so I'm opting for a slightly larger PSU for safety's sake. I had an OCZ one before, but I dont see them on newegg in the 600-700W range anymore. Thoughts?

Optical Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

I still want to include an optical drive for redundancy/safety's sake, but could use input on this part beyond 'cheap/SATA' if anyone has pointers.

Peripherals: TBD
Need to pick out a new USB keyboard/mouse - been a while. Any suggestions?

Monitor(s): TBD
This is one area where I haven't been looking too hard yet. I'd like to set up two monitors, but could use some recommendations - it's been a while since I've gone shopping for these and I'm not sure about quality in current offerings.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: - used them before, decent experience

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU & EVGA NVIDIA GPU

Overclocking: Maybe - I dont know if I'll go beyond BIOS-supported Auto-OC tweaks, but I'd like to keep that option open.

SLI or Crossfire: No - single GPU preference

Your Monitor Resolution: I've been using 1680x1050, but want to upgrade to something larger when I get new monitors - specifics TBD

Additional Comments: Prefer performance without excessive noise. Games I'm playing at the moment include Borderlands2, X-COM, Starcraft2, FEAR3.

Beyond immediate needs, I want this to be a machine that will keep me gaming for a while - my old machine lasted me 6 years and kept running well with most of what I threw at it, with only upgrading the graphics card via EVGA's RMA process when it eventually went bad.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Per above my old system is old; it's time to finally make a new box that will hopefully last me another 4-5 years.

Again, thanks for any input/response!

More about : gaming build review input

a b 4 Gaming
October 22, 2012 7:51:49 PM

I'd think twice about the dual monitor gaming setup. You will have that black vertical bar right in the middle of your screen. Either go with triple 1920X1080's or a large 27 inch 2560X1440 or 30 inch 2560X1600 monitor. You can get the large monitors on EBAY for about half retail. Just be sure they are "perfect pixel" ones with no dead pixels.
October 22, 2012 8:16:06 PM

The h80 (and h100) are usually regarded as equal to air in cooling performance. DIY loops or air cooling are what I see recommended, and people are steered away from the h100s. The NH-D14 or the Hyper212 Evo are the two highest recommendations.

The HAF 922 is a really nice case. I wouldn't shy away from it if you like the look. I almost bought one for myself after building one for a friend.

If you aren't considering multi-GPU, a 600W PSU would be more than enough. If you want to leave the door open for SLI/CF then grab a 750W or so. Seasonic, XFX, PC Power & Cooling, and Corsair are all good brands. Here's a couple that jumped out at me on newegg (since you don't have one listed):

The i7 isn't really needed for gaming, since gaming isn't very heavily threaded, hyper-threading doesn't do much.
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a c 418 4 Gaming
October 23, 2012 3:18:14 AM

the h100 and h80 will get you better temps than even the best aircooling. People usually avoid them for other reasons.

Really? Where? I've checked tons of reviews and I've never seen anything that says the H100 and H80 are worth the money. The fans included are poorly made and poor quality and are often replaced with better fans - which can add up.

The 680 is pretty hefty so I'm opting for a slightly larger PSU for safety's sake. I had an OCZ one before, but I dont see them on newegg in the 600-700W range anymore. Thoughts?

OCZ PSUs are not that great. Unless you get one from PC Power & Cooling - they make excellent PSUs. Seasonic is another one that makes really rock-solid power supplies.
October 23, 2012 11:11:50 PM

Following up - Thanks to you all for the input/sanity checking!

@jrgong, I looked at your notes for the noctua d-14 - after a lot of waffling I ended up going with that option since its performance looks very comparable to the H80 - saves me the trouble of wondering if those closed-liquid hoses will ever crack, especially if I take this machine to LANs.

@babernet_1, good call on the vertical bar; I'll probably look for a single large monitor as opposed to a 3-monitor mount. My current monitor isnt HORRIBLE in the short term anyway.

@djscribbles, Yeah I cant believe I originally left a PSU off my list! I was probably in the process of editing it to add one in there as you were responding. I ended up going with a Corsair 650 PSU - I dont realistically see myself going SLI in the future, so that'll be sufficient. I was looking at the PC Power & Cooling one you linked, but I hadn't heard of that brand before so I stuck with someone I knew.

@g-unit1111, I'd gotten good use from my OCZ PSU in the past, but for some reason I'd thought they were a better supplier than you suggest they are. In either case I can't find many/any of their PSU offerings anymore, so that mostly speaks for itself.

Again thank you all for your input, especially on short notice!
a c 418 4 Gaming
October 24, 2012 5:48:36 AM

@g-unit1111, I'd gotten good use from my OCZ PSU in the past, but for some reason I'd thought they were a better supplier than you suggest they are. In either case I can't find many/any of their PSU offerings anymore, so that mostly speaks for itself.

They still make PSUs - some are good. Others not so much. However they have a huge stake in PC Power & Cooling who is known for producing high quality units. Here's the one I use and it works great: