Final questions before a first-time build

Hi guys, I recently sought your advice on a first-time build (thread here), and now I have some final questions before I order the parts in a week. I think I've got the general 'shape' of the build sorted, but I need some advice on the specifics. First off, here's the current parts list:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($233.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($139.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($47.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($105.00 @ Scorptec)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($415.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Case: Antec Eleven Hundred ATX Full Tower Case ($125.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($85.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($22.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 3-Pack (64-bit) ($99.00 @ Scorptec)
Monitor: ASUS VS248H 24in ($189)

Total: $1538.00

I'll run through the parts list and comment on the things that are causing me problems. For reference, I will be buying the majority of my parts from PC Case Gear, an Australian website.

CPU: Fairly standard, everybody recommends it. I'm leaving the possibility to overclock open, but won't be doing so immediately.

Motherboard: Same as CPU. I know nothing about motherboards, but the consensus in the initial thread was to run with this one.

Memory: Same as above

Hard drive: I'm not using it for anything fancy, so I'm just getting a cheap and reliable hard drive

SSD: Here's my first real dilemma. I was initially convinced to go with a Samsung SSD on the basis that they're reliable and good quality, however the new Tom's Hardware SSD guide that just came up today suggests that the OCZ Vertex 4 is also good in this regards. However, it also seems to say that you need to manually install firmware updates to make it so, and I'm not sure I really want the extra hassle and possibility of something going wrong in a first-time build. Thoughts?

Video Card: I'm pretty set on the HD 7970, but I'm not sure which type to get. The recent guide on this site suggests the Ghz edition may not be worth the cash (and I'm well over budget as it is), so I think I'll just get the standard version and possibly overclock some time down the track. More of a decision is which brand to get. Does it make much of a difference? The options I'll be choosing from are here, for reference.

Case: It's probably more expensive than I really need, but seeing as this is my first time building I want to have a lot of room to work with, and for all the parts to fit neatly.

Power Supply: I'm not quite sure about this one. Suggestions around the A$100 price point are more than welcome.

Optical Drive: Nothing to say here, just went with a suggestion in the initial thread

Monitor: This is another part I would really welcome suggestions for. I'd quite like a 24 inch monitor, and preferably around the $200 mark or below. I keep seeing debates about IPS vs. TN in the monitors forum, and I'm not sure which the monitor I picked out is, or even if it really matters. I just need a nice, reliable monitor, without the need for any particularly fancy features or an ultra-fast response time (I don't play FPS's on my PC).

Speakers: I am completely in the dark in regards to speakers. I literally don't know whether I should be looking in the tens of dollars or the hundreds to get a standard set for my computer. Help!

And that's it! Any help whatsoever is greatly appreciated - I'm rather excited to begin building in a week or two, and this is all helping me get closer to it :).
8 answers Last reply
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  1. Good to see a fellow Aussie in these forums.

    SSD: Both the Vertex 4 and Samsung 830 are great drives, you will be happy with either.
    With the Vertex 4 needing firmware updates, that is true, but it isnt a complicated process. All you have to do is connect it to a computer that's already running, and use the OCZ Toolbox to update it to the latest firmware.

    GPU: While the Ghz edition does give some benefits over a vanilla 7970, the performance boost does largely come from a stronger "stock" speed and the 12.7 driver updates. After some overclocking and a driver update (great timing on the build as well, the 12.11 driver is coming soon and is bringing massive performance boosts) you should be fine.
    That Gigabyte card is pretty good, no need for anything more expensive.

    PSU: That supply will be fine, if a bit feature less.

    Monitor: That is a TN panel monitor. In a nutshell, TN panels are cheaper and faster, IPS have better colour reproduction and often higher resolutions.
    That monitor will be good for gaming.

    Speaker: I also have no idea with speakers. Used headphones for the last 3yrs and didnt know anything about speakers before that.

    EDIT: That RAM has massive heat-spreaders on them, potential for issues with aftermarket coolers later. I suggest a low profile kit.
    G.Skill Ares 8GB (2x4GB) 1600Mhz CL9 1.5v. $45
  2. Wouldn't greatly disagree with anything, there.

    For GPU, of the ones on offer, I would say the basic Gigabyte one is probably best value.
    Hard drive- Seagate Barracuda has good performance. There have been some issues, of reliability/warranty support. As you have an SSD, highest performance, with HDD, is not critical. WD Caviar Blue would be ok (the Black is good, but more expensive) Hitachi Deskstar, or Samsung Spinpoint, also good.
    Case- The Antec is a nice case, but you really don't need anything that size. Big doesn't necessarily make installation easier. Corsair Carbide 500R is excellent mid-tower, and very good to work with.
    Power Supply- you don't strictly need 600w+. 550w would be adequate, although no reason not to get 600w. Antec are OK. Confess I'm not familiar with that one. The high current gamer version is 80 Plus Bronze, and may be better. Corsair also do a 600w gamer version.
    Monitor- can't see you've listed your choice TN is ok for gaming only, but suggest you get reasonable quality IPS (the really cheap ones tend to be c**p). Dell monitors are good, if not cheap. Asus offer a huge choice, some better thn others. Best way is to pick a couple that "look" good, then find some decent EXPERT reviews. You should be able to get something decent, for $200.
    Speakers- Suggest you start with reasonably cheap ones (I don't mean $10). Upgrade later, if you find you want better, at least you'll have a better idea of what YOU want, and won't have wasted a fortune.
  3. SSD: You should be fine even with having to update the firmware. Some updaters are boot disks, others are windows based. What you should do is make a CD with the update, either ISO or just file (depending on what type of updater it is), using another computer. If you boot to the CD, then do that right after making sure the PC posts and you will be fine, then install OS. If it's a windows installation, when you install the OS, leave it disconnected from a network connection so that Windows can't register at that time. Then update the SSD. The only possible thing would be the SSD losing information, but it won't matter if the OS isn't registered with Windows, cause then you can simply re-install.

    Case: Don't get a cheap case, you'll regret it for a while. Also, I wouldn't write off a mid tower case. They are smaller, but you're not doing SLI or custom liquid cooling or anything that requires a lot of space in there. The full cases are nice to work in, but bare in mind that sometimes that means that the wires inside the case must be on the long side to accommodate for this. You should be fine no matter the size, just don't get a cheap one. IMO - full tower cases are HUGE, but doing SLI in my mid tower case was a VERY tight fit.

    Monitor: just don't get a sucky brand. ASUS, LG, and Samsung are good. Scepter is on the cheaper side. They're hit and miss... Just check resolution, contrast, response time, etc.

    Speakers: same as monitors and case, just don't get a sucky brand. Logitech, Sony, and Altec lansing are good.
  4. Get the LP versions of the Vengeance and get a 212 evo to go with the 3570k. Otherwise it looks great.
  5. That build actually looks pretty much flawless to me, you got some great advice. I wouldn't change a thing except for what the erudite Manofchalk already pointed out. Those G.skills he linked would be great, and Corsair also makes a Low Profile version of that same Vengeance RAM, either would fit nicely under any 3rd party CPU cooler you might decide to add later on.

    Speakers, like monitors and other peripherals, are extremely subjective. It's best if you can get some first-hand experience with a few different models, but that's not always feasible.

    I used to have a monstrous 5.1 home theater speaker system hooked up to my PC and it was, quite frankly, overkill. I eventually just bought a set of Logitech 2.1 THX speakers and I've been perfectly happy with them ever since. The latest variant of those can be found here for reference:

    I wouldn't spend more than that, and honestly most people would probably be happy with less. If you were a really picky audiophile type you'd most likely already know it and wouldn't need any advice, so there's a good chance that a basic $40 set would suit you fine, like the Z313s:

    Many people would recommend just buying cheapo speakers and instead get some really nice headphones for gaming, but since you mentioned you don't play FPS type games, there may not be much of an advantage there. I personally hate wearing headphones, but I love my Sennheiser HD280 Pros:

    Again though, it's all subjective and I can't give you any definitive answers there, just point you in a general direction. What sounds 'good' can vary quite a bit from person to person.
  6. Thanks guys, you're all champions - everything was answered in a very helpful manner. Here's what I'm going to go with:

    Video Card: I'll get the Gigabyte 7970 that you all recommended. I wouldn't need an after-market cooler because it's factory overclocked, would I?

    SSD: After significant internal debate, I'll run with the OCZ Vertex 4 - the general consensus seems to be that the quality is significantly improved from the previous OCZ SSDs, and what are the odds I'll get a ddodgy one? (*knock on wood* :))

    Power Supply: Seeing as nobody found anything really wrong with it, I'll stick with the Antec 620W one.

    RAM: I'll take manofchalk's suggestion here

    Monitor: Having checked out what reviews I could find the ASUS VS248H doesn't appear to have anything actively wrong with it, and that's all I really need in a monitor.

    Speakers: Turns out PC Case Gear has a rather limited selection of cheap speakers, so I'll get ckholt's suggestion of the Logitech Z313.

    Case: I do like the look of the Antec 1100, so I'll just stick with that.

    As you can see you've pretty much answered all my queries, so I just have one final question - when it comes to actually putting this all together is there any particular step-by-step guide you'd recommend? Obviously there are several thousand I can get by googling, but if there's a nice, easy to understand one that I know will be accurate that would really help.
  7. You can get aftermarket GPU coolers, but there isnt much point to them unless you go all out with watercooling. The custom cooling that comes on the Gigabyte 7970 (Windforce 3x I think) will be plenty sufficient.

    I recommend watching the NCIX Tech Tips build guide and the Newegg Build Series on Youtube.

    And the cable management video from NCIX Tech Tips is pretty good.
  8. Yeah, the custom cooling solution that Gigabyte puts on their windforce cards is fantastic, you have nothing to worry about there.

    Manofchalk already suggested the videos I was going to link. :)
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