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Higher end, non-gamer PC build

Last response: in Systems
October 25, 2012 2:48:16 AM

I've built a few systems over the years and have found that doing one's homework really pays off when you finally start building. I built my last PC 5 years ago and it has served me well but it's starting to get tired. Most of the components I chose were somewhat overkill but I've been very happy with the results so I will most likely spend a few hundred more than I have to this time in order to build a really solid system.

I use my PC mostly for web surfing, e-mail, watching movies and working on my web site (Lightroom/.GIMP). I'm planning on going with 64 bit Windows 8 (currently running XP Pro) and also Ubuntu. I'd prefer to run both in a VM unless there are compelling reasons not to. I'm a *NIX guy so I am loathe to reboot.

Probably not a major issue as far as hardware selection but I am very big into computing security.

Also looking into on-line streaming movie capabilities

CASE: Cooler Master HAF-X case
There are several other choices that look good as well. I like a big, roomy case with mega airflow. A cold computer is a happy computer. I also don;t want to have to fight tight clearance problems hence the ATX form factor. There may be cable length issues though, especially since this box puts the PSU on the bottom.

PSU: Thermaltake SP 850M 850w
I prefer a modular PSU. 850W is obviously more than I need but I have an Antec 850W PSU in my current machine with zero problems. Never skimp on motor oil or power supplies.

MOBO: ASUS Sabertooth X79
I want to be able to run Ivy bridge which will probably still provided decent performance 5 years from now when I build my next PC. I'm a 65 YO Geezer so me lasting as long as this new PC is not so certain.

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge
A little pricey but....

Was thinking 16 GB since it's only $50 more compared to 16 GB. Had good results using G.Skill in the past. I'm hoping (perhaps someone knows) that Win8 and VM Managers can utilize the full 16 GB (or perhaps even more).

SDD (for the VM and OS's):
Intel 330 Series Maple Crest SSD 120 GB

A couple of SATA3 2TB drives

DVD burner:
LG Black. I'd like to be able to watch Bluray movies since I don't have a TV.

Corsair H60 Liquid Cooling
There seems to be a decent array of coolers on Newegg in the $50 range.

Logitech Z623 THX Speakers
My current speakers were VERY high tech when I bought them nearly 20 years ago.

Haven't looked at any and maybe I don't need one but music quality is important to me.

I'm sure I've forgotten something but thanks very much in advance for thoughts, advice and so on. Due to our wonderful economy, I'll probably build this one in stages. First step will be to buy a case and PSU that will fully support the end game.

More about : higher end gamer build

October 25, 2012 3:28:40 AM

lt_dan_zsu said:
you can't use that mobo.
also you still might want a video card, it will help the system run well. also you might want to look a the vishera 8cores.

The HD4000 will be more than suitable for his needs. Even if he did wish to do light gaming the HD4000 would suffice.
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October 25, 2012 3:52:07 AM

lt_dan_zsu said:
you can't use that mobo.
also you still might want a video card, it will help the system run well. also you might want to look a the vishera 8cores.

I can't use the Sabertooth X79 because...?

When I built my last PC I put in a very high end at the time GeoForce 8800 video card. I'm not at all unhappy with the video but I don't know that it's noticeably better than what I would have gotten out of a much less expensive card. I figured I'd try the Intel HD on-board stuff and then look around at video cards later on if there seemed to be a need.

I am not in the gaming generation... will never be doing that. Watching DVD/Bluray movies, Photoshopping and possibly streaming video movies is about it. No complaints with what I have for video now.
October 25, 2012 3:56:13 AM

I have picked two options out for you.

Build A

This build has a Dual core ivy bridge processor, Unless you do HEAVY multitasking such as having multiple VM's all open at once. It will be perfectly suitable for your needs.

Build B

This Build ups the CPU to a Quad core 3770k, complete with an aftermarket CPU for the purpose of overclocking. If you do believe you will need a Quad core CPU, might as well throw in a smidge more to be able to overclock the processor as well.
October 25, 2012 3:59:13 AM

It is a different socket type. x79 chipset is 2011 socket and the 3770 is an 1155 motherboard. The reason for a video card though is it makes everything faster. Intel 4000 is probably sufficient, it was just something to consider.
October 25, 2012 4:29:26 AM

I highly suggest getting a discrete video card even if you're not gaming.
The ones on the ~$60 range should be just fine.

Turning on the integrated graphics more or less doubles the strain given on the CPU, and your goal is to make it last for a long time.
October 25, 2012 4:51:08 AM

lt_dan_zsu said:
It is a different socket type. x79 chipset is 2011 socket and the 3770 is an 1155 motherboard. The reason for a video card though is it makes everything faster. Intel 4000 is probably sufficient, it was just something to consider.

That's certainly a compelling reason :) 

And a good video card could well be in my future depending on how the on-board video performs.

Much obliged for the BOMs, Azathoth. With all due respect, some of the components are a little bit on the low end for what I'm trying to accomplish. I want to build something fairly state of the art so that it will perform well as future operating systems and more resource hungry software comes along. My current machine was a rocket when I built it. But it's certainly slowed down over the years. The performance is still "acceptable" but had I used less expensive parts that would probably not be the case. In fact, the only thing that's really driving a new build is that the disk drives are probably getting close to end of life. But it's just a matter of time before MS quits supporting XP and I'm thinking this PC probably wouldn't run Win8 that well (although it runs Ubuntu 12 ok).


I've been reading really good reviews on the Sabertooth MOBOs so maybe the Z77 instead? I would have thought that the newer Z79 would have supported the newer Ivy Bridge CPUs but I suppose if I actually looked closer at the socket type I would have known that without being told...

Or perhaps the ASUS Maximus V EXTREME LGA 1155? I don't know that one PCIe slot would be enough. I like having the option of adding more stuff if I find I need to.

This isn't a "money is no object" situation. But on the other hand, I tend to buy really good parts that will perform well for a looooong time (my VERY old Pentium III PC is still running). I'm sure a < $100 MOBO would be just fine but since this is the most important part in the box, I generally use something that is REALLY good. Paying $90 for a MOBO that's going to run a $300+ CPU seems a little convoluted to me. I don't think I've ever paid less than $250 for a motherboard.

$300 is about the most I'd want to spend on a CPU so that (and the fact that Ivy Bridge is the current technology) is mostly driving the MOBO choice.
ATX, full tower because I like a LOT of room and a LOT of airflow with LOTS of fans.

Much obliged for steering me to a MOBO that would actually work in my application! :) 

October 25, 2012 4:55:12 AM

Then you are probably aiming for something CLOSE to Build B, just change the Mobo and Case to something you would prefer instead.

Best solution

October 25, 2012 5:23:08 AM

if you want a non gaming system, why are you looking at gaming boards?

if the sabertooth looks good, though over hyped and overpriced, take a look at the P8Z77-V or better yet the P8Z77 WS.
October 25, 2012 5:32:31 AM

azathoth said:
Then you are probably aiming for something CLOSE to Build B, just change the Mobo and Case to something you would prefer instead.

Yes, there were some good items in the build lists you referenced. I very much appreciate the time you took to pass that info along. But at this point, nailing down the best MOBO, case and PSU is my main objective. Once I get those decided on, I'll just wait for each to go on sale and then pounce on them. I'm guessing that this system won't be completed until around the first of the year (although I'd like to at least get the case and PSU asap).

I initially liked the Dark Force 85 case. But people who bought them had problems. So far the HAF cases seem to be pretty good and the "X" model is close to the top of their line. I haven't read anything negative about it for any issue that I care about. I'm a little concerned about the bottom mounted PSU though (airflow) + (cable lengths).

I always get way bigger PSUs than I need and have never had a problem. Of course all of these Vendors don't actually make their own PSUs so it's hard to know what to get unless something has been out there for a while and has gotten a lot of reviews. Any really good modular in the 850-1kW range for $150-$200 ought to be fine, I'd think. I'm really happy with the 850W Antec in this PC and certainly would use it again but they discontinued it.

I'm fairly convinced that the Ivy Bridge 3770 is what I want to build this PC around. Have had disappointing results with Intel MOBOs in the past and their support has always been "disinterested" even when reported problems are clearly product bugs. No such issues with ASUS. I don't have any hands on with the other players. I'm not against using a non-ASUS MOBO. I'd just need compelling reasons to do so.

Video card comments duly noted. I'll most likely stuff in something reasonable for the reasons mentioned.
October 25, 2012 5:53:48 AM

Anonymous said:
if you want a non gaming system, why are you looking at gaming boards?

if the sabertooth looks good, though over hyped and overpriced, take a look at the P8Z77-V or better yet the P8Z77 WS.

Probably for the same reason I've been riding 100+ HP motorcycles for decades even though I ride like an old lady (well, most of the time anyway).

There's nothing "wrong" with either of your suggestions although on-board WiFi is a no op for me as is the heavy weight LAN capabilities. The Sabertooth is more or less in the middle of your suggestions. I haven't even looked at PC hardware in years so I don't know if this particular board suffers from over hype or not. Price-wise, it seems lower than competitive products that have similar features.

The problem with MOBOs is, and always has been, that no matter what you select, it will have features (which are often flash in the pan fads) that most people could care less about. Like most things, you have to draw the line somewhere, assuming that you don't have unlimited funds to spend. The Sabertooth seems to have a lot of expandability in case I want to add stuff to it in the future. That and the fact that I haven't read any credible, seriously negative reviews on this product is what's steering me in that direction. There are a lot of Sabertooths out there... not so with some of those other models.
October 25, 2012 2:01:13 PM

the biggest reason i pointed out look at gaming boards is they are configured for multi grx card set ups. since you no concern for gaming; seems it would be useless for you.
October 25, 2012 2:14:13 PM

Anonymous said:
if you want a non gaming system, why are you looking at gaming boards?

if the sabertooth looks good, though over hyped and overpriced, take a look at the P8Z77-V or better yet the P8Z77 WS.

+1 on this sabretooth is paying a premium for a name and looks you can do as well cheaper or better for similar
October 25, 2012 8:45:10 PM

Contributors to this thread have certainly given me a lot to think about. I am much obliged and this sort of feedback is exactly what I was looking for. Since I only build a PC every 5 years or so, I tend to go through a well researched and well thought out process before actually starting the build.

I guess one basic question I need to get a handle on are comments about buying a gaming board when I will not be doing any gaming. It's a fair observation and question. Here are my thoughts. Feel free to take shots at them if you think they are bogus. I would particularly value input from folks who have built several PCs over the years and have had to live with the consequences of good and bad parts selection decisions. As an example, I no longer use Intel MOBOS because over the years they have done a dismal job supporting their products. My 5 year old, high tech at the time Intel MOBO is considered obsolete by Intel today. The last soft/firmware update was ages ago. And it had some MAJOR bugs when I got it that Intel refused to acknowledge but then quietly fixed many months later. In contrast, I built several servers using Tyan MOBOs ten years and they still actively support those products. So for me, it's more about whether the parts I select will work for me in the long term. I prefer to pay extra to buy really good parts versus saving a few bucks to get something "that will work" (but perhaps not for 5-7 years which is the minimum lifespan I expect). The ability to upgrade and add parts (primarily on the MOBO) is important to me as is active Vendor support and a strong customer base. One of the reasons for leaning heavily toward the Sabertooth is that there are a LOT of them out there. This means strong peer support and a product that would be difficult for the Vendor to ignore if problems crop up.

Of course I could be all wet here and I'm happy to consider contrary points of view.

My opinion (which could well be incorrect) is that higher priced MOBOs are generally manufactured better, use better components and blah, blah, blah. Of course you eventually get to the point of diminishing returns.... But $150 for a very good quality MOBO seems reasonable to me. I happen to want/need a LOT of expandability, especially for USB 3.0 and PCI express capabilities. The more expensive boards tend to offer this.

I absolutely don't mind paying $100 or even $150 more for a REALLY good MOBO even if it has a pile of capabilities that I don't care about (for the process and component quality reasons stated above). Amortized over 5-7 years, the extra bucks comes to around $20/year. Saving $20/yr buying something that could be questionable makes zero sense to me. On the other hand, paying $150 more for a board that is just as good quality and has all of the features I care about in a less expensive board is certainly silly.

It may be my imagination but some of the recommendations in this thread seemed more like a challenge than an actual recommendation. No offense intended if I'm wrong about that. I was hopefully fairly clear about what I need and hope to accomplish. Some of the recommendations did not take my stated end goal into consideration.

Again, I could be totally off base here but the Sabertooth seems like a reasonably "safe" choice. Folks on here may know about MOBOs that will do what I want, are very reliable and cost less and I'm happy to hear those recommendations (although it won't break my heart to pay $250 for a MOBO that will definitely do the job). On the other hand, it's certainly possible that the Sabertooth may fall short in one or more areas that I care about and if that turns out to be the case I will be very unhappy that I paid $250 for a board that DOESN'T do the job. This is the most important thing I am hoping to get from the expertise of folks who contribute to this forum.

Again, many thanks in advance to all who unselfishly pass along their experience and wisdom.

October 25, 2012 8:55:57 PM

Excuse the UK link but it's late and I dont feel like wading through neweggs lousy menus.

If somebody came to me with your brief I would build with that board as

Gigabyte have never given me an issue in any build I have used them with ranging from budget to decent

The board will do anything you want except a massage with happy ending

ASUS will offer near identical features at the same pricepoint it's a case of brand preference there. You could spend even more but gain nothing of worth.

Those are the only 2 brands I would consider and I would loudly advise against the sabertooth its gimmicky cr@p for kiddies wanting to sound "uber 1337"

October 25, 2012 9:11:27 PM

All I have to say is. I don't think that asus is worth getting. THey are super overpriced. I would get an asrock board, or msi board.
October 25, 2012 10:14:02 PM

i do not understand sabertooth being so popular(?). you do know there are several sabertooths out there; the X79, Z77 P67, and 990FX. (sandy bridge-E, ivy bridge, sandy bridge and AMD 3+ platforms). it is just a "brand" and not necessarily better in performance.

here is a bit of a summery from a review:
ASUS Sabertooth Z77 Motherboard | Hardware Secrets
In summary, the SABERTOOTH Z77 is an excellent motherboard, but unless you really like the plastic cover, you should pick the P8Z77-V PRO, which is a little less expensive and has a few more features, or the P8Z77-V DELUXE, which costs a little more but offers a lot more.

it is a good board but there are several less expensive and better options. but if you are set at getting it . . .
November 13, 2012 1:33:50 AM

Best answer selected by jones0610.
November 13, 2012 1:39:40 AM

I haven't purchased it yet but after exhaustive research, the Asus P8Z77-V looks like the board I want to build my next PC around.

Just ordered the Corsair 600T SILVER RT case for $162 (Newegg) which includes a very nice $20 fan and a $20 rebate card. Looks like a killer case at a very decent price.

Now I go shopping for power supplies :)