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My First Build, but Maybe I Should Have Bought Off the Shelf?

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Last response: in Systems
November 1, 2012 10:07:35 PM

After spending a lot of time hunting through forums, reading reviews, comparing parts, and collecting my paychecks, I finally have all the parts to build my first computer. But, I am having a hard time seeing that I saved a lot of money vs "off the shelf" at Alienware (or something like that). This build is primarily a gaming computer.

I am sure there are plenty of "noob" mistakes I made, but I would like some input from more experienced builders. Where should I have made some different decisions? Is this build better than similar parts in a pre-built machine? Any input to guide future builds would be desired.

My Parts List:

Case: Coolermaster Cosmos II http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Cosmos-II-RC-1200-K...

Monitor: Viewsonic 24" LED http://www.amazon.com/Viewsonic-VX2453MH-LED-24-Inch-Ul...

Input: Logitech Keyboard/mouse http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-Desktop-MK120-keyboard-9...

Power Supply: Corsair 1200W http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Professional-Series-Modul...

Optical Drive: Blu-Ray Drive http://www.amazon.com/LiteOn-iHBS112-29-Internal-Blu-Ra...

Optical Drive: DVD Drive http://www.amazon.com/Lite-On-LightScribe-Layer-Drive-I...

Card Reader: Rosewill Multi-in-1 plus USB http://www.amazon.com/Rosewill-RDCR-11004-Multi-Interna...

Motherboard: Sabertooth X79 http://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Sabertooth-X79-Intel-Motherb...

RAM: 16GB DDR3 1600 http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-Vengeance-Desktop-Memory-...

CPU: i7 Quad Core 3820 http://www.amazon.com/Intel-i7-3820-Quad-Core-Processor...

CPU Cooler: Phanteks 140mm http://www.amazon.com/PHANTEKS-PH-TC14PE-Heat-Pipes-Pre...

WiFi: TP-Link Wireless N http://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Wireless-Express-Adapter-...

Graphics Card: GTX 680 Classified 4GB http://www.amazon.com/EVGA-GeForce-Classified-Graphics-...

HDD: WD Caviar Green 3TB http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Green-Desk...

SSD (for OS): Crucial 128GB http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-2-5-Inch-Solid-State-CT12...

SSD: Crucial 256GB http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-2-5-Inch-Solid-State-CT25...

OS: Windows 8 Pro http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Professional-System-Build...

More about : build bought shelf

a c 108 B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2012 10:16:25 PM

Looking through the components, you did make a pretty common new builders mistake. Assuming that more performance = more performance.
Games will never require the computation grunt of an i7 (especially an X79 i7), nor will a single GTX680 and 3820 require 1200W of power.

In a nutshell, the PSU, RAM, CPU (and by extension motherboard) are way overkill for gaming. You could have easily gotten less expensive parts and enjoyed the same performance (if not more since you could use the saved cash to SLI/Crossfire and a multi-monitor setup).

To buy an equivalent rig off the shelf would have been more expensive than building it. From what I have seen, when a pre-built is properly thought out, the parts balanced (which you have done except for the PSU) and of good quality, it will cost significantly more than a custom built rig.
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Anonymous
a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2012 10:34:03 PM

Even though you did go a bit overkill. It does make your system more future proof. I use that word with caution. But an i7 and a gtx 6802gb will be able to murder games on max settings for a couple years.
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a b B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2012 10:42:07 PM

^No better than an i5 and a 680 would.

Wellssh, you saved a LOT of money over a prebuilt with the same parts, but... you went way overkill. Your power supply, your RAM, your CPU... hell, your video card is only 5% more powerful than a stock 670.

But yes, it was a lot cheaper than a comparable pre-built. Is there one you're referring to in particular that you're thinking about?
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November 1, 2012 10:48:25 PM

Aswell, you only need the 128GB SSD, not a 128 AND a 256, the 128 will suffice for your OS, Every application, and a game or two that you play most frequently.

I also facepalmed at this, A Blu-ray drive can read Dvd's and CD's aswell.

The case.... You do NOT need to blow $300 for a giant piece of aluminum.

The CPU is useless, especially seeing as you again went overkill for an aftermarket cooler on a LOCKED CPU!

The i5-3570k is $100 cheaper, and is unlocked. A cooler such as the Hyper 212 will easily be sufficient aswell. This would require a different motherboard, which again has been overspent on. And 2x8GB sticks of RAM rather than 4x4gb.

For a PSU a 700w would do.

"But, I am having a hard time seeing that I saved a lot of money vs "off the shelf" "
This is because simply put, your part selection is crap. For lack of a better phrase.
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November 1, 2012 10:50:42 PM

Aye, many mistakes. First is to save your money and get all the stuff at once. Everything in computerland goes down in price and up in performance over time, everything. If you saved and waited, you could have bought those older items for less money or better items.

Yes, 1200W is over kill for all but a 4X SLI system.
Your blu ray burner can burn CD's and DVD's too.
For gaming all you need is a 3570K wit the associated cheaper motherboard.
With a 1920X1080 display, the 4GB 680 is a waste of money and memory. It would only help with a triple monitor setup.
The "green" WD HDD's are a waste too. They take longer to do anything so if you muliply timeXpower, they actually use more power for a given job.
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November 1, 2012 10:54:33 PM

manofchalk said:
Looking through the components, you did make a pretty common new builders mistake. Assuming that more performance = more performance.
Games will never require the computation grunt of an i7 (especially an X79 i7), nor will a single GTX680 and 3820 require 1200W of power.

In a nutshell, the PSU, RAM, CPU (and by extension motherboard) are way overkill for gaming. You could have easily gotten less expensive parts and enjoyed the same performance (if not more since you could use the saved cash to SLI/Crossfire and a multi-monitor setup).

To buy an equivalent rig off the shelf would have been more expensive than building it. From what I have seen, when a pre-built is properly thought out, the parts balanced (which you have done except for the PSU) and of good quality, it will cost significantly more than a custom built rig.


Thanks for the response, manofchalk. Even if I saved only a bit of money vs a store-bought machine (and certainly I did waste money here and there especially at the PSU), having a machine I built is a nice feeling. The Cosmos II is a show stopper when friends come over!

I felt that the Power Supply was a mistake after getting it, but I had read some misleading things (and here's a heads up to other new builders). The GeForce Website claims Minimum System Power Requirement for the GTX 680 =550 W http://www.geforce.com/hardware/desktop-gpus/geforce-gt.... So I figured 1200W would leave room for twin 680s in SLI needed for the Surround set up. Eventhough I shop on amazon, I should have tried the power calculator on Newegg http://images10.newegg.com/BizIntell/tool/psucalc/index...

Even with a future SLI build, 1000W appears to be plenty.

The decision for twin 680s down the road for Surround is largely based on the review at http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/graphics/43109-evga-gefor... that really showed not a single card could get framerates above 30 on BF3 with 3 monitors.

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a c 108 B Homebuilt system
November 1, 2012 11:03:33 PM

A good case is definitely where money cant be spent without issue. It will last longer than the stuff inside it and wont become obsolete. Also getting one you like is important since it is going to around for a while.

Overestimating power usage is another common mistake. The power requirements on cards include the CPU (worst case AMD CPU's with their 125W draw) as well as a bit of headroom and assume their talking to Joe Average and their generic quality PSU. A 680 will never consume 550W on its own, more like 200W.
For a dual card setup + 2011 CPU (overclocked everything), I would recommend an 850W at most.

Suspect a 690 could, but thats a $1000+ card so it better :lol: 
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November 1, 2012 11:06:14 PM

DarkSable said:
^No better than an i5 and a 680 would.

Wellssh, you saved a LOT of money over a prebuilt with the same parts, but... you went way overkill. Your power supply, your RAM, your CPU... hell, your video card is only 5% more powerful than a stock 670.

But yes, it was a lot cheaper than a comparable pre-built. Is there one you're referring to in particular that you're thinking about?



The video card was largely purchased with the hopes of a future Surround set up (and to be honest, picking a graphics card is VERY difficult. There is a lot of information out there. Eventually I put both the 680 and 690 in my cart and decided that my wife would kill me if a $1k part came in the mail!).

My point of reference has been Alienware. A colleague has an alienware that he "customized" through their website. But I know it ran almost $4k (it is a good looking machine, and runs great...but I cannot put that much on a cc all at once) .
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November 1, 2012 11:09:56 PM

I designed another build for comparison, for informative purposes.
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mbDW

This build will actually OUTPERFORM what you had chosen, whilst only being 54% of the cost.

When you're spending Thousands of dollars on anything, you should always check around to see if others have any suggestions for improvement before being committed to a purchase.
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November 1, 2012 11:11:30 PM

wellssh said:
The video card was largely purchased with the hopes of a future Surround set up (and to be honest, picking a graphics card is VERY difficult. There is a lot of information out there. Eventually I put both the 680 and 690 in my cart and decided that my wife would kill me if a $1k part came in the mail!).

My point of reference has been Alienware. A colleague has an alienware that he "customized" through their website. But I know it ran almost $4k (it is a good looking machine, and runs great...but I cannot put that much on a cc all at once) .


NOOOOOO! Dell Computers cost a good 2X over building one yourself through newegg.
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November 1, 2012 11:14:03 PM

azathoth said:
Aswell, you only need the 128GB SSD, not a 128 AND a 256, the 128 will suffice for your OS, Every application, and a game or two that you play most frequently.

I also facepalmed at this, A Blu-ray drive can read Dvd's and CD's aswell.

The case.... You do NOT need to blow $300 for a giant piece of aluminum.

The CPU is useless, especially seeing as you again went overkill for an aftermarket cooler on a LOCKED CPU!

The i5-3570k is $100 cheaper, and is unlocked. A cooler such as the Hyper 212 will easily be sufficient aswell. This would require a different motherboard, which again has been overspent on. And 2x8GB sticks of RAM rather than 4x4gb.

For a PSU a 700w would do.

"But, I am having a hard time seeing that I saved a lot of money vs "off the shelf" "
This is because simply put, your part selection is crap. For lack of a better phrase.


A lot of the "cooling" decisions I made were based on the only guy I know who built from scratch his own rig. It runs so hot that he has the sides of the case off and runs a box fan into it.

So, I did not want that. I figured the Cosmos II's fans would be like having a box fan without having a box fan.

It really is amazing how options are out there. And I know (at least for this noobie) when confronted with so many models where $20 more and you get X or Y features I often thought to myself "what the hay, a few extra for a nicer x or y".

And am I crazy, but I have seen a LOT of computers at box stores with a BR and DVD drive?
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November 1, 2012 11:25:59 PM

azathoth said:
I designed another build for comparison, for informative purposes.
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mbDW

This build will actually OUTPERFORM what you had chosen, whilst only being 54% of the cost.

When you're spending Thousands of dollars on anything, you should always check around to see if others have any suggestions for improvement before being committed to a purchase.



Wow! I like what you did with a number of your choices. The only places where I would question would be the GtX 680 2GB (would not 4gb handle a Surround set up in the future better?). And the case...yes the cosmos is a little ridiculous, but my wife actually thinks it is a sexy case :o 

I think a major piece of advice is to SAVE $ first and BUY second. I have been picking up parts for the last 6 months. So I had almost no idea what the finished product would look like back in June. I started with a Cosmos II case, because it looked big enough stick anything I wanted inside. And followed with the PSU using similar "logic" (again D'OH)

Buying all at once hurts, but I agree maybe lends itself to more planning. As it is, I was at least able to keep everything paid off as I went along (a small upside)
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November 2, 2012 12:30:43 AM

2791151,12,1392523And am I crazy, but I have seen a LOT of computers at box stores with a BR and DVD drive?[/quotemsg said:


Strange that they would have both, but I have a Blu-Ray drive in my PC and it reads/writes all media perfectly.
HOWEVER... Blu-ray movies must be played with either Cyberlinks PowerDVD, a program which does the job but is lacking in advanced options.
The other alternative is to rip the blu-rays to your computer before playing. It's an issue with the protection methods used on the Blu-Ray discs, quite a hassle.

I have actually started to not even include Physical media drives into my personal computers, everything can be done through Digital downloads, or USB drives now.
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November 2, 2012 3:46:24 AM

azathoth said:
Strange that they would have both, but I have a Blu-Ray drive in my PC and it reads/writes all media perfectly.
HOWEVER... Blu-ray movies must be played with either Cyberlinks PowerDVD, a program which does the job but is lacking in advanced options.
The other alternative is to rip the blu-rays to your computer before playing. It's an issue with the protection methods used on the Blu-Ray discs, quite a hassle.

I have actually started to not even include Physical media drives into my personal computers, everything can be done through Digital downloads, or USB drives now.


So I am distilling your (and many others') comments--Thank you all for your input-- and the gist is that I have overbuilt this computer on a number of levels. To take this in a constructive direction, let's say there is about another $1.5k-$2k and a two-month to 3-month time frame. What purchases/additions would best enable me to take advantage of some of the parts I already have?

For example, my family would love photoshop http://www.amazon.com/Adobe-65158237-Photoshop-CS6/dp/B... $550. Would this program benefit from an i7 more than BF3? Or (more obviously) 2nd and/or 3rd monitor.

All idea are welcome. And again thank you for the help.
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November 2, 2012 3:52:55 AM

babernet_1 said:
Aye, many mistakes. First is to save your money and get all the stuff at once. Everything in computerland goes down in price and up in performance over time, everything. If you saved and waited, you could have bought those older items for less money or better items.

Yes, 1200W is over kill for all but a 4X SLI system.
Your blu ray burner can burn CD's and DVD's too.
For gaming all you need is a 3570K wit the associated cheaper motherboard.
With a 1920X1080 display, the 4GB 680 is a waste of money and memory. It would only help with a triple monitor setup.
The "green" WD HDD's are a waste too. They take longer to do anything so if you muliply timeXpower, they actually use more power for a given job.



Yeah, I'm gathering that I have landed between overbuilt and WAY overbuilt. To take this in a constructive direction, let's say there is about another $1.5k-$2k and a two-month to 3-month time frame. What purchases/additions would best enable me to take advantage of some of the parts I already have?

4xSLI is something you suggest above to utilize the PSU... Would you recommend a dedicated PhysX card and an additional 680 to go with a multi- monitor set up?

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November 2, 2012 4:16:34 AM

wellssh said:
Yeah, I'm gathering that I have landed between overbuilt and WAY overbuilt. To take this in a constructive direction, let's say there is about another $1.5k-$2k and a two-month to 3-month time frame. What purchases/additions would best enable me to take advantage of some of the parts I already have?

4xSLI is something you suggest above to utilize the PSU... Would you recommend a dedicated PhysX card and an additional 680 to go with a multi- monitor set up?


You have an interesting way of looking at things! Just get more 680's, they will do the physix for your automatically if enabled. If you have the money, either get two more displays for a total of three and go for 3X 1920X1080 for gaming. Or else get a massive 2560X1600 display. For the 3X 1920X1080 you would need 2 SLI 680's with 4GB each memory, perhaps even 3 680's for max everything in all games.
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Best solution

a c 108 B Homebuilt system
November 2, 2012 4:20:37 AM

For good gaming on multi-monitor setups, its almost a requirement for dual cards. Don't bother going with more than dual, as performance doesn't scale very well after the 2nd GPU and you get less for your money each time.
Also there's no point for a dedicated PhysX card. Too few games use it, and to pair a low end card with your 680's will likely lead to worse performance than just the 680 alone.

There's not anything you can buy to utilize what you have. Rather just what you use it for.
If you want to take up a sudden hobby in video editing or intensive number crunching, your all set.

Wow, how the hell does Adobe make money off their suite at those prices. $100 I could understand, but $550 just for Photoshop?! At those prices, they would be driving their potential customer base to piracy.
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November 2, 2012 3:49:59 PM

manofchalk said:
For good gaming on multi-monitor setups, its almost a requirement for dual cards. Don't bother going with more than dual, as performance doesn't scale very well after the 2nd GPU and you get less for your money each time.
Also there's no point for a dedicated PhysX card. Too few games use it, and to pair a low end card with your 680's will likely lead to worse performance than just the 680 alone.

There's not anything you can buy to utilize what you have. Rather just what you use it for.
If you want to take up a sudden hobby in video editing or intensive number crunching, your all set.

Wow, how the hell does Adobe make money off their suite at those prices. $100 I could understand, but $550 just for Photoshop?! At those prices, they would be driving their potential customer base to piracy.


Ok a 2nd GPU and 2 more monitors seems like the closest I'll get to utilizing some of these components. Im planing a second 680 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008HZ53ZC/ref=ox_sc_s... , a 2nd viewsonic http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004LXK8LI/ref=ox_sc_s..., and touchscreen acer for the center monitor to get the most out of the windows 8 http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00966IW6I/ref=ox_sc_s... . At $600 + $700 + $200 (ish) that gets really close to the $1.5k more that I am willing to put into this build. Everything I'm reading suggests the Surround is worth it.
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November 2, 2012 5:36:48 PM

Best answer selected by wellssh.
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November 3, 2012 2:00:26 AM

That rig is more than enough for gaming haha wow man that was a pretty penny! Enjoy it! I got into photoshop myself now that the rig i have now is so fast its click and done...same with video..click..done. Its very nice :) 
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