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$2500 Gaming Build: Final Parts List

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November 14, 2012 3:22:40 AM

Hi All,

I wanted to run by a somewhat finalized build for last minute critiquing by the brain trust here. I'd gotten some really good advice from the community concerning a performance gaming rig I'm building for my uncle, and we made some necessary tweaks to the shopping list, so I thought I'd let you guys have one more chance to help me make the best decisions.

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

Budget Range: $2000-2500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watching movies, surfing the internets, recording music, CAD, running old as dirt programs he refuses to part with, etc.

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

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

Location: Sacramento, California, U.S.A

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, ASUS or ASRock MoBo, Coolermaster case

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Probably

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080


Here is the list:

COOLER MASTER HAF X RC-942-KKN1 Black Steel/ Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case

ASRock LGA1155 DDR3 SATA3 USB3.0 Quad CrossFireX and Quad SLI A GbE ATX Motherboard Z77 EXTREME4

SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100351VXSR Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card X 2 - Crossfire

SeaSonic X Series X-850 (SS-850KM Active PFC F3) 850W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply

[http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007SZ0EOW/?tag=pcpapi-20]Intel Core i7-3770K Quad-Core Processor 3.5 GHz 8 MB Cache LGA 1155[/url]

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

Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5in SATA3 MDX Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD

Western Digital Caviar Green 2 TB SATA II 3.5-Inch Internal Desktop 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

Sound Blaster Audigy SE PCI Sound Card


Here are my last few questions:

1) He would really like it if this was as quiet PC as is possible, but we decided that conventional cooling was where we wanted to start things. Hence the Zalman over a H100. Water cooling sounds intriguing, but if we get a bad pump it sounds like trouble. Are we liable to destroy/damage the CPU if we decide later that the water cooling is something we want to do?

2) It's been a while since I built anything, and I've never built anything this modern/high end. From any of you that build these hardcore gaming rigs, any sage advice on a build like this? Any parts/tools/random necessary goo or gadget that I can't put it together without (minus the obvious thermal compound, screwdrivers, etc.)?

3) Am I missing any components that a really comprehensive machine could use? Monitors, keyboard, mice et al are either existing or will be priced and purchased later. We've got a little midi card form him to record music with, and I don't think he's really gonna use this as a HTPC on the side, but any other good ideas are welcome.

4) Are we safe at around 100 watts over hardware demand? PC Part Picker says the draw is about 745 watt, so I upped our power supply to an 850 Gold. Good enough? Should I be paranoid and run up another 100 watts? That's already a lot of juice to pay for month-in month-out, so if it is overkill let me know.

5) Anyone have a better suggestion for the motherboard, or is this one OK? The low price tag gives my uncle pause, but it seems popular and capable of what we need from it. I'm no MoBo enthusiast, anyone?

Thanks a lot, I look forward to your responses.

Best solution

November 14, 2012 3:37:42 AM

The H100 isn't worth the extra cost. High-end air coolers like the Silver Arrow and NH-D14 pretty much matches its performance. If you're going water cooling in the future, I suggest looking into custom water loops.
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=58634&vpn=Silver%20Arr...

I think you're good to go. Though for your budget, I would get the Extreme6 - but that's just me. :lol: 
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It also complies with the standard size of ATX boards. The Extreme4, I believe is 1" off.

I don't understand the i7 though. There is little to no performance difference from the i5-3570k in gaming, and you'll only need the i7's hyperthreading on CPU-heavy workloads like video rendering.

850w should be good. If you're going to do a lot of OC'ing on CPU and GPU though, or you would feel more comfortable with higher wattage for efficiency and safety reasons, 950w won't be such a bad choice.

I would get this.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003U29C40/?tag=pcpapi-20

One of the top brands for PSUs at a very affordable price.
Also, the power output is actually MORE than what they advertise. If you look closely at the specs, you'll see it's actually a 1000w unit.

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November 14, 2012 3:53:38 AM

I think we'll look into water cooling later. We picked the Zalman over the NH-D14 for noise reduction (not sure if it is a big difference).

OK, I'll take your advice and switch out the Extreme4 for the Extreme6. I've got loads of room in the case.

The i7-3770k is a compromise already. Originally it was a 3930, but we were convinced to be a little more realistic. A little. I know it sounds implausible, but my uncle could decide he wants to try video rendering out. I see no harm in it, and he has the dough.
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November 14, 2012 3:56:10 AM

Not sure about Zalman performance, I suggest the Silver Arrow then. It's quiet and it's on par with the NH-D14(some even say it performs better).
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November 14, 2012 3:56:16 AM

excella1221 said:
The H100 isn't worth the extra cost. High-end air coolers like the Silver Arrow and NH-D14 pretty much matches its performance. If you're going water cooling in the future, I suggest looking into custom water loops.
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=58634&vpn=Silver%20Arr...

I think you're good to go. Though for your budget, I would get the Extreme6 - but that's just me. :lol: 
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
It also complies with the standard size of ATX boards. The Extreme4, I believe is 1" off.

I don't understand the i7 though. There is little to no performance difference from the i5-3570k in gaming, and you'll only need the i7's hyperthreading on CPU-heavy workloads like video rendering.

850w should be good. If you're going to do a lot of OC'ing on CPU and GPU though, or you would feel more comfortable with higher wattage for efficiency and safety reasons, 950w won't be such a bad choice.

I would get this.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003U29C40/?tag=pcpapi-20

One of the top brands for PSUs at a very affordable price.
Also, the power output is actually MORE than what they advertise. If you look closely at the specs, you'll see it's actually a 1000w unit.


Hi excella, actually if his uncle is a professional then he would need the i7 for his CAD work. Having a friend who's an architect and he tells me how hyper threading of the i7 makes his work faster with AUTOCAD.
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November 14, 2012 3:58:24 AM

^True. Yeah, the i7 would benefit them good. The budget is more than capable of it anyway. :) 
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November 14, 2012 4:02:01 AM

excella1221 said:
^True. Yeah, the i7 would benefit them good. The budget is more than capable of it anyway. :) 


Yeah, although I really don't think he needs high end stuff. 2k for a build?? It's kind of hard to imagine what his uncle is doing or I think his budget is just being maxed out.
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November 14, 2012 4:05:50 AM

He's not a professional anything anymore, but he likes to play at everything. Having run AutoCAD drafting construction plans for a few years myself, I doubt that he would go far enough into it to necessitate the extra CPU. I'm having trouble locating the Silver Arrow for comparison, could I get a link please?

EDIT: Sorry, scratch that, was in the first response. Sorry, thought it was custom water cooling related.
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November 14, 2012 4:08:38 AM

Hi, I would suggest dropping down to an i5-3570k and an Asrock Extreme4 motherboard. So that you can save a bit money with no significant impact on the performance.
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November 14, 2012 4:20:30 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($26.55 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($398.14 @ Amazon)
Case: NZXT Phantom (White) ATX Full Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($62.50 @ NCIX US)
Total: $1382.12
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-14 01:19 EST-0500)

I didnt' put a sound card since I didn't know much about it. I put only 1 7970 because 2 7970 is really not needed right now. I don't think your uncle really needs 2 because he seems to know only a bit about computers. It's a $1500 build. Also, I've met a lot of enthusiasts in various boards and I don't think you or your uncle will be OCing past the point that you need water cooling.

Good luck. A 7950 can easily max most games out there right now. A 7970 should be better. Lastly, the case also has black but it seems that the white is very popular.
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November 14, 2012 4:24:55 AM

...hun, you completely threw out his "finalized" build.
He was almost set with all those and he just wanted a few final opinions.
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November 14, 2012 4:30:28 AM

excella1221 said:
...hun, you completely threw out his "finalized" build.
He was almost set with all those and he just wanted a few final opinions.


Well, it was too expensive. I'm not saying it's a bad build but 7970 on crossfire is kind of a waste of money since he would maxing most of the games right now with only 1 7970.
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November 14, 2012 4:39:53 AM

Funny as this sounds, we're not really into saving money! I'm relatively sure we're not going any lower than the i7-3770k, but I do appreciate the advice. Almost everyone who looks at this build picks that out (and they are right to do so) as the part we need to toss. Just not gonna happen.

Would the Extreme4, which was explained to have a smaller form-factor, limit us in any way in a Crossfire set-up, considering that we have a couple more PCI cards going in? I was actually toying with the idea of this extended ATX board. Would this one give the Crossfire setup room to breathe?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Again, I have tons of space and an open budget.

What is the deal on the Extreme9?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Am I screwed if he wants to use an older PCI card with any of these? The midi card he has is ancient. Looking at all of the boards, i guess the sound card is pretty unnecessary, huh?
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November 14, 2012 4:43:17 AM

OC Formula would be good.
It's Tom's recommended buy for a high-end motherboard.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z77x-up5-th-z77a-gd...

It has no PCI slots though so any ancient card would have no place in it. You'll also have to be careful when buying them since PCI and PCI-E cards aren't backwards compatible.
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November 14, 2012 4:48:52 AM

cutebeans said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($26.55 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1.5TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 830 Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($189.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($398.14 @ Amazon)
Case: NZXT Phantom (White) ATX Full Tower Case ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($62.50 @ NCIX US)
Total: $1382.12
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-11-14 01:19 EST-0500)

I didnt' put a sound card since I didn't know much about it. I put only 1 7970 because 2 7970 is really not needed right now. I don't think your uncle really needs 2 because he seems to know only a bit about computers. It's a $1500 build. Also, I've met a lot of enthusiasts in various boards and I don't think you or your uncle will be OCing past the point that you need water cooling.

Good luck. A 7950 can easily max most games out there right now. A 7970 should be better. Lastly, the case also has black but it seems that the white is very popular.


Yeah, kinda looks like a completely different computer now, doesn't it? No offense, but this looks like a build you keep saved on Parts Picker as a "Go-to gaming rig". :??: 

Just to clear something up, my uncle knows a great deal about computers, just not how to build one. He's the type that still gets misty about MS-Dos and how he wishes the file paths were right out there like they used to be. His last PC was still running 95 because he liked it, not because he was too cheap to upgrade!
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November 14, 2012 4:50:27 PM

Best answer selected by Mr_SelfDestruct.
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