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$2400 Gaming Powerhouse

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November 7, 2012 4:29:03 AM

Hi All, this is my first post on Tom's, so tell me if I've run afoul of any forum rules. An uncle of mine recently lost his machine to some dreaded motherboard/cpu terminal illness. It was a seriously ancient frankenbuild (15 years old at minimum!), which I'm pretty sure was still running Windows 95. Being the only person he knows with some rudimentary knowledge of PC building, he has enlisted me to help him replace his 'Old Yeller' with something new, slick and expensive. He wants the best of the best here, with fairly little concern over the price vs. performance fall-off. I'm attempting to convince him to let me build his new machine from scratch (I've put together some MUCH lower budget builds for friends and upgraded my own HP a few times), but he is also considering top end models at Alien and BestBuy.com. I came up with a build that I think is equal if not superior to the pre-built models, for less money, but I need some assistance from the Tom's community to convince him it is the way to go. I'd also appreciate suggestions for things I might have missed and opinions on the sealed water-cooling systems available. I'd say the GPU and CPU are his only "untouchable" components, but I'd take a limited amount of suggestion on changing other components out. The build was very similar to the System Builder Marathon $2000 Performance PC build from June 2012, with a few tweaks because...well, why not? Here's the nitty-gritty, have at it! :D 

Approximate Purchase Date: This month or next (maybe take advantage of Cyber Monday/Black Friday deals)

Budget Range: $2000-2500 (he'll go as high as needed, but I'm trying to rein him in)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watching movies, surfing the internets, recording music, etc.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Midi-card (for recording)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect if necessary

Country: U.S.A

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, Gigabyte or EVGA Video Card, ASUS or ASRock MoBo, Coolermaster HAF 932 case

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200, I don't have the monitor sitting in front of me

Additional Comments: He would really like it if this was a quiet PC, seeing as though his last one sounded like a jet fighter taking off during its last few years of life.

Here is a list of parts I've already selected for it:

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

EVGA 02G-P4-2680-KR GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73930K

G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C8D-8GAB

Corsair Force Series GS CSSD-F240GBGS-BK 2.5" 240GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Western Digital Caviar Black WDBAAZ0020HNC-NRSN 2TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-Ray Burner with SW, 3D Play Back - BH14NS40

ZALMAN CNPS12X 120mm Long Life Bearing High Performance Triple Fan CPU Cooler

I know that some of the components of the System Builder Marathon build were selected for fit rather than best performance (eg. the memory needed to fit under that gigantic CPU cooler), so I didn't stray too far there. I figure the HAF 932 has plenty of room for a water cooled system, and a ton of other upgrades to boot, so if anyone has a better cooling option I'm definitely open.

I don't personally believe that he needs this high end of a system, but you try telling the guy that!

I'd really appreciate some knowledge being dropped if there are system vitals that I've left out. I'm sure I'll be running to Fry's Electronics at least a couple of times to grab the minor bits that I usually forget.

Thanks Guys!

More about : 2400 gaming powerhouse

November 7, 2012 4:54:44 AM

Mr_SelfDestruct said:
Hi All, this is my first post on Tom's, so tell me if I've run afoul of any forum rules. An uncle of mine recently lost his machine to some dreaded motherboard/cpu terminal illness. It was a seriously ancient frankenbuild (15 years old at minimum!), which I'm pretty sure was still running Windows 95. Being the only person he knows with some rudimentary knowledge of PC building, he has enlisted me to help him replace his 'Old Yeller' with something new, slick and expensive. He wants the best of the best here, with fairly little concern over the price vs. performance fall-off. I'm attempting to convince him to let me build his new machine from scratch (I've put together some MUCH lower budget builds for friends and upgraded my own HP a few times), but he is also considering top end models at Alien and BestBuy.com. I came up with a build that I think is equal if not superior to the pre-built models, for less money, but I need some assistance from the Tom's community to convince him it is the way to go. I'd also appreciate suggestions for things I might have missed and opinions on the sealed water-cooling systems available. I'd say the GPU and CPU are his only "untouchable" components, but I'd take a limited amount of suggestion on changing other components out. The build was very similar to the System Builder Marathon $2000 Performance PC build from June 2012, with a few tweaks because...well, why not? Here's the nitty-gritty, have at it! :D 

Approximate Purchase Date: This month or next (maybe take advantage of Cyber Monday/Black Friday deals)

Budget Range: $2000-2500 (he'll go as high as needed, but I'm trying to rein him in)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watching movies, surfing the internets, recording music, etc.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Midi-card (for recording)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon, TigerDirect if necessary

Country: U.S.A

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, Gigabyte or EVGA Video Card, ASUS or ASRock MoBo, Coolermaster HAF 932 case

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200, I don't have the monitor sitting in front of me

Additional Comments: He would really like it if this was a quiet PC, seeing as though his last one sounded like a jet fighter taking off during its last few years of life.

Here is a list of parts I've already selected for it:

COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Advanced RC-932-KKN5-GP Black Steel ATX Full Tower Computer Case

ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

EVGA 02G-P4-2680-KR GeForce GTX 680 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

CORSAIR HX Series HX750 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

Intel Core i7-3930K Sandy Bridge-E 3.2GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 2011 130W Six-Core Desktop Processor BX80619i73930K

G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C8D-8GAB

Corsair Force Series GS CSSD-F240GBGS-BK 2.5" 240GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Western Digital Caviar Black WDBAAZ0020HNC-NRSN 2TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.5" Internal Hard Drive

LG Black 14X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM 4MB Cache SATA BDXL Blu-Ray Burner with SW, 3D Play Back - BH14NS40

ZALMAN CNPS12X 120mm Long Life Bearing High Performance Triple Fan CPU Cooler

I know that some of the components of the System Builder Marathon build were selected for fit rather than best performance (eg. the memory needed to fit under that gigantic CPU cooler), so I didn't stray too far there. I figure the HAF 932 has plenty of room for a water cooled system, and a ton of other upgrades to boot, so if anyone has a better cooling option I'm definitely open.

I don't personally believe that he needs this high end of a system, but you try telling the guy that!

I'd really appreciate some knowledge being dropped if there are system vitals that I've left out. I'm sure I'll be running to Fry's Electronics at least a couple of times to grab the minor bits that I usually forget.

Thanks Guys!


A 7970 GHz is cheaper and stronger than a 680. A 670 is just flat out cheaper and about the same performance. Why 680?
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November 7, 2012 5:05:16 AM

You know, I cant really say why he is so in love with the 680. I suggested the 670 to my uncle if he was hot on the Nvidia cards, but he wasn't having it. I personally prefer the ATI/AMD stuff myself, but this is a build for a guy who wants what he wants.
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November 7, 2012 5:08:05 AM

Mr_SelfDestruct said:
You know, I cant really say why he is so in love with the 680. I suggested the 670 to my uncle if he was hot on the Nvidia cards, but he wasn't having it. I personally prefer the ATI/AMD stuff myself, but this is a build for a guy who wants what he wants.

so why bother posting here just buy him what he wants and slap it together.
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November 7, 2012 5:17:25 AM

Mr_SelfDestruct said:
You know, I cant really say why he is so in love with the 680. I suggested the 670 to my uncle if he was hot on the Nvidia cards, but he wasn't having it. I personally prefer the ATI/AMD stuff myself, but this is a build for a guy who wants what he wants.


God nothing annoys me more than this. He/she asks you for help on something you know more about, and yet he/she tells you what parts to use. Honestly I would either build him what I think is best, or tell him to build it himself.
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November 7, 2012 5:21:02 AM

You can definitely save a lot of money by building it yourself rather than going to a boutique.

It's funny that you say the CPU and GPU are the two things you're absolutely set on, because those are the two things I think most need to be changed. An i5 3570k gives you pretty much the best gaming performance possible right now, a Sandy Bridge E is a complete waste of money. Tom's Gaming CPU Buyer's Guide even lists them in the same top tier, and has this to say:

"CPUs priced over $230 offer rapidly diminishing returns when it comes to game performance. As such, we have a hard time recommending anything more expensive than the Core i5-3570K, especially since this multiplier-unlocked processor can be overclocked to great effect if more performance is desired."

"Our tests demonstrate fairly little difference between a $225 LGA 1155 Core i5-2500K and a $1000 LGA 2011 Core i7-3960X, even when three-way graphics card configurations are involved. It turns out that memory bandwidth and PCIe throughput don't hold back the performance of existing Sandy Bridge-based machines."

Basically the only way a 2011 build is worthwhile is if you're planning on running 3-4 GPUs in SLI. I guess you could do that if he really wants the absolute best of the best / bragging rights, but then you're talking about ramping that budget back up again. Otherwise, for anything less than that kind of insane setup, you're basically just setting your money on fire.

Speaking of setting money on fire, the 680 is also a ripoff. A 7970GHz edition gives you more performance for less money, and if you're an nvidia stalwart then the 670 just gives you far better returns and you can SLI either of these options with ease and put that money to good use elsewhere.

For $2400, here is what I would do:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Asus Maximus V Formula EATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($259.00 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Gaming Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB 3.5" 5900RPM Internal Hard Drive ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($269.00 @ B&H)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($409.66 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card (CrossFire) ($409.66 @ NCIX US)
Case: Cooler Master HAF X ATX Full Tower Case ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: LG WH14NS40 Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($68.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $2016.26
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

The rest could then be spent on a pretty extravagent custom watercooling kit, which you mentioned that you wanted even though you included an air cooler for the CPU in your build.

Notes on other changes:

16GB of RAM because of future proofing and it is cheaper than dirt.

The Samsung 940 Pro is just about the best SSD on the market. You could bump it up to the 512GB model if you felt so inclined.

The WD Caviar Blacks run HOT. For a secondary storage drive, you're better served by a quieter, cooler, and more efficient unit.

Bumped up the case to the 942 instead of the 932, because for this budget you might as well go big or go home.

As mentioned, a single GE 7970 is better than a 680, so two of them in crossfire will knock it out of the park. A pair of these will can run a 3-monitor setup with ease, and if you are watercooling then you don't want to fiddle with upgrading the card or adding another one later. Might as well double up now and give yourself untouchable performance for many years to come.

Hope this helps.
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November 7, 2012 5:47:19 AM

Thanks for the response ckholt83! And to the rest of you.

I had actually put an extra set of the RAM in my basket/wish list, can't remember if the MoBo can take 4 sticks of 4, but I agree on the 16gb of RAM.

I'll revise the list for a cooler Seagate Green HD. I picked the Black because of it has faster write speed and had been recommended as a more reliable storage drive. I can see why saving a little there is a valid change.

I'm not sure if I want to mess around with a custom water cooling system, nor do I trust that my uncle won't mess with it somehow down the line, possibly ruining it all in the process. Simplicity is my goal. Anyone know about the sealed systems?



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November 7, 2012 6:20:59 AM

I'm telling you, jsut get the hyper 212 EVO, it'll do everything you need. and if you're not satisfied with that, just go for the H100, from corsair. lol
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November 7, 2012 6:47:20 AM

The H100 is pretty popular and low maintenance, as long as you get one with a solid pump.
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November 7, 2012 7:12:09 AM

GreedFusion said:
I'm telling you, jsut get the hyper 212 EVO, it'll do everything you need. and if you're not satisfied with that, just go for the H100, from corsair. lol

Lol bit of a performance gap between the H100 and the 212 EVO
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November 7, 2012 2:34:47 PM

Yeah, for just an extra few bucks over what I was already gonna spend on the Zalman cooler, I don't see any reason not to try the H100. Is the H50 a legit option? That radiator on the H100 seems a bit of overkill (I know, this whole build seems a bit of overkill. Don't blame me, I'm just the messenger)
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November 7, 2012 3:37:22 PM

Keep in mind, if you build the machine for him, then you will be the go to support guy, including dealing with warranty issues. If that's OK, go for it. If not, send him to the store for a pre-built and let them deal with it.

I'm sorry for being such a pessimist, but I'm speaking from years of experience with this type of issue. It's the same reason that I have never told any of my friends that I know how to fix cars.
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November 7, 2012 3:58:47 PM

Quote:
Keep in mind, if you build the machine for him, then you will be the go to support guy, including dealing with warranty issues. If that's OK, go for it. If not, send him to the store for a pre-built and let them deal with it.

I'm sorry for being such a pessimist, but I'm speaking from years of experience with this type of issue. It's the same reason that I have never told any of my friends that I know how to fix cars.


Good advice, Max. In general I would agree with you, but this is a good guy who has helped me a lot over the years. I actually want to help him. It's not just a PC for him, it's a chance to try my hand at building something really nice for me, which otherwise I wouldn't have an opportunity to do. I've been bugging him to upgrade for years, so now that he's ready I'm gonna make sure he gets the best of what's around.
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November 7, 2012 4:22:32 PM

Mr_SelfDestruct said:
Quote:
Keep in mind, if you build the machine for him, then you will be the go to support guy, including dealing with warranty issues. If that's OK, go for it. If not, send him to the store for a pre-built and let them deal with it.

I'm sorry for being such a pessimist, but I'm speaking from years of experience with this type of issue. It's the same reason that I have never told any of my friends that I know how to fix cars.


Good advice, Max. In general I would agree with you, but this is a good guy who has helped me a lot over the years. I actually want to help him. It's not just a PC for him, it's a chance to try my hand at building something really nice for me, which otherwise I wouldn't have an opportunity to do. I've been bugging him to upgrade for years, so now that he's ready I'm gonna make sure he gets the best of what's around.

It sounds like you guys have a good relationship and it would be a rewarding experience for the both of you. Go for it!
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November 7, 2012 4:24:11 PM

Whenever I'm helping someone with computers I make it clear that if anything breaks or doesn't work, it's not my fault (probably lol) and THEY are paying for it. xD
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November 7, 2012 4:49:25 PM

if he is just gaming, stick with an i5 3570k. if he does a lot of workshop such as photoshop, video editing, etc get a i7 3770k. also if he does do video editing and such get 16GB of ram, 8GB of ram is more than enough for general purpose/gaming though.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($219.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($80.77 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($180.48 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($33.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3R 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.37 @ Amazon)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card ($444.98 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 500R White ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Total: $1435.55
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

this is a build not for looks but easy to build inside and mostly price to performance kind of build. it also has the option to CFX for more performance and has a nice but ugly aftermarket CPU cooler.

my next build will cost more but will focus on some of the eye candy is he likes that kinds of stuff.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($219.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Corsair H100 92.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler ($114.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UP4 TH ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($180.48 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Tactical Tracer 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3R 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($65.37 @ Amazon)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card ($444.98 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Switch 810 (White) ATX Full Tower Case ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1519.76
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

same build pretty much, changed case to have a clear side window and it is now a full tower, another option is to change it into phantom 820 which has LED lighting preinstalled and has a HUE changer to make it the color you wish to have it

changed Ram into something that has LED lights for eye candy(doesnt make much more of a performance) of course you can download Cruicals software to make the LED light up differently.

also if he is into Blu ray, you can always add that blu ray burner.

these builds leave a good space on what you want to add on or change

Note: change mobo won't really make much of a difference. only thing i would change would be getting a bigger SSD or add a 120Hz monitor
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November 7, 2012 4:59:35 PM

Are there any potential clearance issues if I was to make these changes (provided I can convince the buyer, of course):

- Swap out the 680 for the HIS 7970s in Crossfire
- Swap out the i7-3930 for a i5-3570 or an i7-3770
- Swap out the the MoBo for an ASUS or ASRock Extended ATX
- Keep the Zalman or Swap out for a Liquid cooler - Corsair H100/80/60/50?
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November 7, 2012 5:08:32 PM

it should fit, only thing that wouldnt fit if you kept a 2011 mobo and changed the CPU into a i5 3570k or i7 3770k. for the i5 3570k and i7 3770k you will need a 1155 mobo
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November 7, 2012 5:12:02 PM

These are great looking builds, Boulbox. The second one is a nice glamor for value build, but remember we're not terribly concerned about that price to performance ratio. He wants something that is as future-proof as possible (really doesn't exist in computers, but we try), because in all likelyhood he will not replace/upgrade this one for quite some time. I'd like to see somebody's current "dream build", you know?
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November 7, 2012 5:22:20 PM

boulbox said:
it should fit, only thing that wouldnt fit if you kept a 2011 mobo and changed the CPU into a i5 3570k or i7 3770k. for the i5 3570k and i7 3770k you will need a 1155 mobo


Yeah, that one is a given. I should have been more clear though.
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November 7, 2012 5:55:14 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($80.77 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($179.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($389.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: NZXT Phantom 410 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 750W 80 PLUS Gold Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-222BB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ CompUSA)
Total: $1578.68
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
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November 14, 2012 2:21:46 AM

Best answer selected by Mr_SelfDestruct.
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