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Tax Return Gaming Rig suggestions

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November 8, 2012 3:23:52 AM

So, I've been poking around and reading stuff for the last week or so and I think I've narrowed down what hardware I am looking at, and most certainly do I already know what kind of computer I want.

My end goals are a machine that can run the newest games on stupid high settings, of course, and I want to run a triple-monitor setup. I've wanted a build like this forever, and Ill be able to make it happen come February. What I want input on, of course, is where I can reduce cost without sacrificing quality on the build I've put together over at http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mUcX

A little about my priorities:

The case doesn't mean anything to me. In all reality, I would prefer a plain black case with great airflow as I intend to OC, and a more or less old Dell style appearance, or just minimalist in general.

I fully intend to run SLI GTX 670 4gb cards, but I may purchase a single GPU for the time being as I will need to acquire the 3 identical thin-bezel monitors and I honestly don't know the best ones for that yet, and will probably use a small HD TV I have as a monitor for a while.

I would like input on anything that seems out fo place, excessive, etc, and will give any details requested and answer whatever questions arise. Thanks in advance!
a b B Homebuilt system
November 8, 2012 4:20:46 AM

I hate the advertising on Tom's, I just lost my first post in progress to a popup ad getting in the way as I went to highlight some text. /hulksmash

Anyway, it's a pretty decent list, but I have some suggestions. First, the CPU cooler probably isn't ideal; if you aren't going to be doing an extreme overclock then a Cooler Master Hyper212 EVO should do you just fine for less money. If you do want to really push those temps, then a Noctua-NHD14 or a more serious watercooling solution makes more sense than the entry level H60.

If you go with one of the aforementioned air coolers, you'll want to get low profile RAM so as to not cause any conflicts. In particular, this G.skill kit has the same specs and is also a great deal on sale right now:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The WD Caviar Black runs very hot, and you don't necessarily need the highest speed mechanical drive for your secondary storage since your primary applications will be on SSD. A 'green' unit might be a better choice, they run cooler and are more power efficient.

Speaking of SSDs, the 60GB models are a very poor value. You can easily buy a higher quality 128GB for less than the combined price of those 2x60GBs. There are a number of advantages to going larger with your SSD, which I won't go into detail on, but you tend to get better performance and a longer lifespan.

For a 128GB model: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005T3GQM4/?tag=pcpapi-20

If you want to step up to a 256GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The EVGA 670s use the reference cooler, which tends to be louder and less effective than some of the 3rd party cooling solutions. If you want 4GB models, try these instead:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Someone will also tell you to get 7970s instead. They perform better and are in the same price range, if you are open to using AMD GPUs.

For a sleek, plain black case with fantastic airflow / thermal performance, the Antec Eleven Hundred is the obvious answer:
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=65171&vpn=ELEVEN%20HUN...

Hope this helps.
November 8, 2012 6:31:37 AM

This most certainly helps!

The big reason I wanted 2 60gig SSDs was for a RAID0 setup... would this just be stupid overkill for anything and far above the "noticeable performance" cap, or is it a marked improvement over the straight 128gb SSD? Looking at the Samsung, it specifies laptop. Is there an actual difference?

The SSD will only hold my OS and games, so I feel that a RAID0 setup would make those just blazing fast. Of course, I am certainly open to improvements or cost-effectiveness in general, so I will look into the possible differences between a 128GB vs 2x 60GB in a RAID setup. I do know that an SSD gets faster as it gets larger, so there's a good chance the 128 will be the better bet. (Info found suggests that a RAID0 setup would not be noticeable over a 128GB SSD, so I'll probably go with that. Thoughts?)

That case is exactly what I am in to, thank you very much! Beats the hell outta the Cougar!

With the Radeon cards, doing a cursory Newegg check shows that for the most part, they are a little bit cheaper, but only come in 3GB or 6GB of VRAM. Will this conflict with my having 3 monitors? I would hate to cap out and all, so I know 2GB is out of the question, but what of 3? I'm not a fanboy of either though I do have a preference for NVidia, historically.

Touching on Overclocking, I would absolutely love to OC the system. That's a big reason I'm switching to at least the Gigabyte cards referenced, even if I end up with a Radeon in the end, I'll need the cooling. It makes sense that the H60 is middle of the road, too good for one and not good enough for the other, which kind of sucks, but I picked it based on a review I read and hadn't really known about other sealed Water cooling systems before. I think for that end, even though it certainly wont be a wild crazy OC build, since I do want to OC I'll step up to the Noctua-NHD14 and see what we get with it. (Info found suggests that you, good sir, are quite correct. This H60 would be great for a non-OC system, absolute overkill, but not for a 4.5Ghz OC application. Don't know if I'll get that high, but if I do I'd rather be prepared.)

I think that's about it, http://pcpartpicker.com/p/mV1t has the revised list. Dropped south of 2 grand, too. Definitely looking forward to some more thoughts and feedback, keep it coming :D 
Related resources
a b B Homebuilt system
November 8, 2012 6:48:45 AM

That revised list looks basically perfect to me. :) 

I too was curious about SSDs in a RAID0 setup, but what little information I found seems to point to it not really being much of an improvement, if any at all. You lose the benefit of TRIM support, and as mentioned the larger drives tend to just perform better outright. I think the single 128GB is the clear choice for simplicity, stability, and price too. Also, there is no difference between laptop / desktop SSDs, they're all 2.5"; the specification is on there because most hard drives (3.5") don't fit in a laptop.

The Eleven Hundred posts phenomenal thermal results in benchmarks even with just the stock fans. You could load it up with some intakes on the front and side too. I like the simple and elegant styling too.

As far as I know, 3GB per GPU is more than sufficient for driving multi-display setups without issue. I can't speak absolutely definitively on this, but I think they'd be totally fine. I think you'd actually have a hard time coming anywhere close to utilizing 4GB even with high res texture packs. Maybe in the future?

The Noctua is a beast. To do significantly better you're looking at a total custom watercooling setup, which would also benefit your dual GPUs, but it gets pricey. The closed loop coolers are nice for simplicity, but they can't match the performance of a full kit.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 8, 2012 7:02:55 AM

The only thing I have to suggest to augment what has been said is that there should be a new generation of GPUs out by February, at least on the AMD side. So, if at all in doubt, (which you may not be) I'd save the GPU purchase until the last.
a b B Homebuilt system
November 8, 2012 7:03:32 AM

Raid 0 on 60GB SSDs will actually be faster and way less reliable than a single, larger SSD. SSDs do a lot of cashing / internal affairs that makes for very sizable performance gains as you step up till about half a gig.

I'm gonna guess you've never had an SSD... they ARE blazing fast. And for loading games / the OS, an SSD alone is just as fast as a RAID setup, which only help for long durations of sequential reads.

As for the case, I LOVE the Gamma Classic - it has the features of a $100 case for $40, looks amazing, and has great cooling if you throw an extra fan or two in there.

Go with AMD... 3GB of VRAM will be plenty, and the 7970 has a little more oomph than the 670. (I own a 670, and love it, but I got it before the driver release that changed AMD's performance so much.)

As for overclocking... don't ever buy a closed circuit water cooler. They don't cool very well at all, and have WAY more things that could go wrong. If you're doing water cooling, do it the real way or just don't.

Don't be surprised if you hit 4.5 GHz. The sweet spot on my 3570k (and it's a nice one) is 4.4GHz @ 1.18v. I'd be able to go way higher, I think, but I only have a Hyper 212+... so I can't push it as far as if I had a nice Noctua. (It's a shame - I haven't yet found the limit of my chip.)

I'd get the UD3H instead of the 5H - the tiny amount of extra features aren't worth the price.

Don't worry about 1833 ram - there'll be no difference between that and 1600 on an intel rig. I'd get 1600 with a lower CAS latence - 7 as opposed to 9, for example.

Good pick on the power supply, bad pick on the keyboard.

Now... this isn't something you'll find on newegg, aside from the Razor stuff, but...
There are basically three types of keyboards.

1) Perfectly suitable $20-$30 keyboards.

2) Rip-0ffs, usually with lights, that advertise themselves as "gaming"

3) Mechanical keyboards, which are the perfect deal.

If you're going to spend on a nice keyboard, don't get a piece of junk. Get a mechanical. (Do a little research. I can just tell you that once you try one, you'll never want a membrane keyboard again.)

I have a Leopold with Cherry MX browns... within 10 minutes after I got it, my Words Per Minute jumped up by 20 points. My gaming is more accurate, and it's easier on my wrists than my ergonomic keyboard. And all that is true.
November 8, 2012 8:14:43 AM

I'm running an Eyefinity setup aswell and am using 2 7950s for that (just 3GB models) and they do an absolutely fantastic job. I can still play everything maxed out (haven't tried Arkham City yet), can't be happier.

Therefore I personally recommend the 2 7970s, they'll do an even better job!
November 8, 2012 2:36:17 PM

Other than power supply everything looks solid to me :p , I would have picked AX over HX series because it's fully modular for cleaner cable management but that's just personal preference.
November 9, 2012 1:53:27 PM

So, a few questions and comments pertaining to the lot of info I've been sorting through!

Is there a reason that the keyboard I picked out (mechanical red wired w/o the numpad) is a bad item? The reviews all read stellar. I dislike what I've seen from the Sidewinder series form Microsoft as low-profile "skinny" or "thin" keyboards are terrible; they are what I use at work so I know. Also, I don't feel that $100+ is required of a keyboard.

Comparing the UD3H and UD5H, I agree with the selection of the UD3H. I like that it has a PS/2 port for the keyboard I have selected, enabling a lack of ghosting and all. I really don't need a dedicated sound card ever, so it doesn't hurt that the High Def Audio codec is on the UD3H, considering that's basically the same one I've had until now, I'm pretty sure.

If low-latency 1600 is better than 1866 with slightly higher latency, and I also noticed that my motherboard does NOT specify 1866 in the Memory Type, how is this selection: G.Skill 7-latency 2x4GB

Now the biggest questions of all. As stated, I am not a fanboy of either GPU maker; I've always thought Radeon was badass but NVidia was better, true or not. I spent a cool 4 hours on reading forum posts, reviews, etc on the 7970 and the 670, moslty NOT having them OC'd but there's no reason to think that an OC would affect onefmore than the other, I think. It really looked like the 7970 did very well (well, they both did!) across certain games, while lacking in others. The same can be said for the 670, and it just seems like a dead even split overall...

So here are some specific questions.
1) WTF is this card doing at this price HIS 7970 agaisnt this stat-for-stat far better Sapphire 7970?

2) If I went AMD, it would be the Sapphire, methinks, and looking at the differences between crossfire/eyefinity and Nvidia's offerings, I think I could deal with, or never notice, the dreaded microstuttering.

3)I'm having a hard time finding a good list dissecting which games prefer which GPU, as I know certain ones do. While I am now leaning pretty heavily to the 7970, I want to make sure that games optimized for NVidia won't play like garbage. Especially GTA V, Skyrim, Planetside 2, and a few others. I'm big into RPGs and open worlds, but am wanting to get into FPSMMOs as well.

For the power supply, I am fairly certain I'll be using all of the cables, so modularity isn't much of a concern for me.

Finally, here is a further revised list. I think that if I were to OC the Saph cards, especially at this price point, I would be very happy indeed.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/n3bf
a b B Homebuilt system
November 10, 2012 1:14:39 AM

I love that you're getting interested and reading up. :) 

For the memory, it's really not worth the extra expense to get the lower CAS latency RAM. The only reason I included the 1866 kit in the first place was because it was basically equivalent in price to similar 1600 kits at $35, so why the heck not? Take a look at this article to give you a better idea, it's very slightly dated but still absolutely relevant:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sandy-bridge-memory-...

I have no idea why HIS thinks that card is worth $650. The Sapphires look like a much better option. As for the micro-stuttering and benchmarks, you can find some useful tidbits in this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7990-devi...

They don't have a 2x670 SLI setup in their benchmarks, but the 690 will be pretty comparable for the nvidia side of things. For the amount of money you're spending on these cards, there shouldn't be any games that run like 'garbage', even if the other brand has an edge. The optimization war is more relevant for less powerful setups, or maybe if you play one particular game far more than others and choosing between otherwise comparable cards. AMD has also closed many of the previous gaps with their most recent driver release. Also later in the article they mention testing a 3rd party solution to fix the micro stuttering problem with excellent results, so that's worth looking into as well.

Basically you should be happy going either route. Sometimes you can find a really good deal on one particular card, and that's enough to push the win over to one side or the other. I recently saw a 670 going for $320, which would make a pair of those a no-brainer in my mind to give you nearly the same performance at almost $140 saved. I'm also an nvidia stalwart, so for my own builds I don't mind paying a bit of a premium to support a company that has earned my loyalty.

Overall, your build is looking very good right now. All I would change is the RAM. I can't really speak to the peripheral choices, as those are usually an extremely subjective affair.
November 10, 2012 7:09:18 PM

So, read through that RAM discussion last night, I was very very surprised. Its almost doesn't matter, so long as you have a speedy CPU. Blew away some preconceptions, there! In that case, I'll be going with the RAM initially recommended by yourself, though now I know that if I find 8 or 7 1600 Latency on super-sale, that that's quite alright to purchase as well.

Having just now finished the GPU article, that, too is close to mind-blowing. While I was mostly correct in my thinking NVidia's SLI had less micro-stuttering, once that third-party RadeonPRO comes into the picture, its effectively negated as a reason to pick one over the other, maybe even swinging in favor of the Radeon cards. That was just an entirely educational article, and I no longer have questions about how Crossfire and SLI work thanks to THIS link in it, specifically about microstuttering and how CF/SLI work. Thanks again!

So, in conclusion, here is my hopefully final list. Shaved about $200 off from the original, and I am far more confident in the items than before. Any other thoughts, folks?

One last thing, I've been seeing that the 7970's require the space of 3 slots. Does the UD3H have enough space to prevent an oven setup when both cards are plugged in?

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ncH8
a b B Homebuilt system
November 10, 2012 9:26:04 PM

Ah, hmm. Looks like the 1866 RAM is no longer on sale either. In that case you might as well just go with one of these kits:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for the video cards, it looks to me like the ones you have in your list are 2 slots each. :) 


Update: Looks like this kit is going for $35 right now with promo code:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
November 12, 2012 9:50:11 PM

I will be watching for good prices starting with my next paycheck; I'll probably be picking up some of the sub-$100 items before the return comes in, as they have great prices. Thanks again for all your advice and knowledge, it was a great read and I am highly confident in my build, and expect to be very satisfied int he end!
a b B Homebuilt system
November 12, 2012 10:03:09 PM

Happy to help!

Good luck with your build, feel free to come back and ask if you have any more questions. :) 
November 14, 2012 8:13:48 PM

Picking this up today:
Antec P280 Super Mid Tower case because its very similar cooling wise, I can add 4 mroe fans if I choose ot do so as compared to the 7 of the Eleveen Hundred, and its got a $25 rebate, dropping its price like a rock and making it under half price with free shipping. Huzzah!

And going with this RAM as well, since its a pretty decent price even without being on sale, though I will be waiting and watching for it to drop a wee bit before pulling the trigger on it

Also jumping on this PSU in the coming days:
Antec High Current Gamer Series HCG-750 750W BRONZE Cert
!