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~$1600 Performance Machine (1st time builder)

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November 10, 2012 5:32:20 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Before Christmas. It's a Christmas present to myself and I'm hoping to get some good Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals :) 
Budget Range: ~$1600
Typical use: Will have a small VM server running in the background, using he internet, software development.
Max usage: Loading up ~5 VMs of various flavors of Windows/Linux and creating my own internal network for pentesting/learning purposes.
Do you need to buy OS: No
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon. Really just wherever has the best deals.
Location: Colorado
Parts Preferences: None
Overclocking: No (I just have never done it before, but would be willing if it's not too complicated)
SLI or Crossfire: No
Are you buying a monitor: Yes. Planning on going dualscreen. Was looking at this one since there tends to be deals for it. Thoughts?
Your Monitor Resolution: Not sure.
Additional Comments: Don't want it to be super loud. Will be running in my room and don't want it annoying me at nights.
Why You Upgrading: I want to learn how to build a computer and I need a desktop (My laptop can't handle what I'd like to do).


To further elaborate on my needs, I want to learn how to build a computer. I'm a college student studying information security, and as such I'll often be spinning up various VMs in order to test out various environments. I'm thinking an Intel i7 processor would be wise to support this load and around 16GB RAM. I plan on placing the OS on an SSD then all my files on a 1TB drive. My biggest problem is I don't know what specific parts to actually get. I'm not familiar with hardware brands and have never built a computer before, so I don't know which motherboards, power supplies, RAM, case, etc I should get I'm also planning on doing a little bit of bitcoining/password cracking, and am planning on getting a Radeon HP 7970 graphics card to support this unless anyone has other comments here. With Black Friday/Cyber Monday around the corner I'm hoping to get some good deals to help offset the costs. Any comments/suggestions on parts?

Much thanks!

Best solution

November 10, 2012 6:04:43 AM

Here you go:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.93 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.88 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card ($409.66 @ NCIX US)
Case: Fractal Design Define R4 (Titanium Grey) ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.46 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($81.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G245HQAbd 23.6" Monitor ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G245HQAbd 23.6" Monitor ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1582.85
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-10 03:07 EST-0500)


Tried to just pick good brands in general rather than whatever the best current sales are necessarily, since you aren't buying it right away. Still under budget and should have everything you want in there. :) 

Overclocking is pretty easy these days, and this build will allow for you to play with that a bit as well.

There are a couple options for your secondary storage drive. A 'green' unit would run a bit slower, but also cooler and more efficient. I often recommend this for data drives. If you're planning to pull from it regularly though, a 7200 RPM unit is a good idea.
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November 10, 2012 6:33:44 AM

blazorthon said:
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/western-digital-internal-h...

Somewhat faster and more reliable 1TB hard drive for only a slightly higher price.

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/gskill-memory-f314900cl10d...
Slightly faster memory (otherwise the same) for a considerably lower price.

Otherwise, I think that the above build is an excellent option and won't bother posting my own because I agree with every choice, although I'd probably go for a cheaper case.


Yeah I would choose a cheaper case, but honestly the OP can pick his own case.
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November 10, 2012 6:34:06 AM

blazorthon said:
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/western-digital-internal-h...

Somewhat faster and more reliable 1TB hard drive for only a slightly higher price.

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/gskill-memory-f314900cl10d...
Slightly faster memory (otherwise the same) for a considerably lower price.

Otherwise, I think that the above build is an excellent option and won't bother posting my own because I agree with every choice, although I'd probably go for a cheaper case.



Yeah, like I said, I didn't capitalize on all of the current sale items because I don't expect the promos to still be the same when OP is purchasing. Those are both valid changes, but I'd personally disagree on the Caviar Black. They run very hot, and for secondary storage in a rig designed to run quiet, it's not worth the trade off in my opinion.

My job entails handling a few thousand hard drives full of data, and we've used a whole range of different models with the highest failure rate among WD drives, so I tend to prefer Seagates. I will say that the WD RMA program is better than Seagate's though, interpret that how you will. :p 

OP also mentioned he'd like a quiet rig, which is why I picked a case that's a bit pricier but also designed for acoustics. There are a few other options in the same range as well, like the NZXT H2 and the new BitFenix Ghost. Probably any of these would benefit from some extra fans if you plan to overclock, btw.
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November 10, 2012 12:55:49 PM

Just out of curiosity, what are some of the current deals out there that might make it cheaper (I'm all for saving money :)  )? Do you expect that any of the current deals are as good if not better than what the black Friday deals will be?

Also, does this have pretty good upgrade potential in the future? I'd like to do continuous upgrades over time rather than shelling out another 1600 when I want a new computer.


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November 10, 2012 1:02:41 PM

I doubt that current deals are as good as Black Friday and Cyber monday will give, but they're fairly good right now.

This build is quite expandable. You can throw in a second 79xx card for Crossfire and the i7 can be overclocked.

Also, I just looked and since you'll be doing virtual machines, you may want to get the non-K edition i7-3770 instead of the i7-3770K. Sure, not as much overclocking headroom, but it'll work with virtual machines a lot better because the K edition lacks some virtualization performance features that the regular 3770 has.
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November 10, 2012 3:26:27 PM

Caviar black does not have a lot more performance than a Seagate barracuda + SSD

WD is much more reliable but get this to save money
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/western-digital-internal-h...

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 612 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($127.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.88 @ Amazon)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($352.00 @ NCIX US)
Case: Corsair 500R White ATX Mid Tower Case ($101.93 @ Mac Connection)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 750W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G236HLBbd 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Acer G236HLBbd 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $1551.71
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-10 12:25 EST-0500)

the monitor you have does not have backlight so i choose a monitor that does(just better color in general) a bit smaller and thats about it. i got a 750W incase you want to SLI or not but you can lower it to a 500-600W if you want.
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November 10, 2012 3:31:41 PM

Don't get the Cooler Master Hyper 612. It's doesn't have Direct Touch Heatpipes. That's really helpful for Ivy CPU overclocking and a lower end cooler such as the Hyper 212 Evo or Zalman Optima may best the 612 on Ivy CPUs because of it.
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November 10, 2012 6:10:43 PM

blazorthon said:
Don't get the Cooler Master Hyper 612. It's doesn't have Direct Touch Heatpipes. That's really helpful for Ivy CPU overclocking and a lower end cooler such as the Hyper 212 Evo or Zalman Optima may best the 612 on Ivy CPUs because of it.


http://www.overclockersclub.com/reviews/cm_hyper212_evo...

hyper 612 beats hyper 212 evo not by much but it is a combo deal i put out making it almost the same price as as a hyper 212 evo
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November 10, 2012 6:12:36 PM

That's not with an Ivy Bridge CPU. Trust me, the 612 is not better than the Zalman Optima and Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo for Ivy Bridge CPUs. Ivy likes Direct Touch Heatpipes and the 612 doesn't have them, but those other two do and they're otherwise already great coolers.
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November 10, 2012 9:49:16 PM

tifkin said:
Just out of curiosity, what are some of the current deals out there that might make it cheaper (I'm all for saving money :)  )? Do you expect that any of the current deals are as good if not better than what the black Friday deals will be?

Also, does this have pretty good upgrade potential in the future? I'd like to do continuous upgrades over time rather than shelling out another 1600 when I want a new computer.


Honestly if you want good upgrade potential, you should wait until early next year when the new Haswell CPU's come out from Intel. Otherwise your CPU will last 5 years easily in my opinion, and everything else should be easily upgraded.
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December 6, 2012 1:28:25 PM

Best answer selected by tifkin.
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