System rebuild

Hello, all! First post.

I was planning on buying a new box next year, but circumstances have dictated that I buy early, meaning I don't have the budget I would like. In other words, money is definitely an object, but my use dictates that I get something reasonably powerful and long-term.

So I'm looking at saving money in three ways for the time being:

(1) reusing a nice Antec case & optical drive from a music computer that died a couple years ago after relatively little use;

(2) holding off on SSD until later; and

(3) trying to get away with using Intel's HD3000 integrated graphics until I can afford a decent card.

I do a lot of graphic design (mostly CS3, but will be upgrading to CS6; I use all the major apps in the Web & Design Premium suite) as well as a fair bit of 3D rendering (Poser Pro).

Here's what I'm presently looking at:

Power supply: Corsair Builders Series CX500 500W (54.99 with free shipping from & even a $20 rebate)

CPU: i7 3770 ($304.99 from with free shipping)

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H ($151.98 from with free shipping)

RAM: 32GB G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 1600Mhz (109.49 + 9.99 shipping from

Hard Drive: Western Digital 600GB VelociRaptor 10000RPM (99.99 from with free shipping)

OS: Win 8 Pro full (144.99 from

This manages to keep me in the $900 range; when I look at prebuilt stuff, I can decent power for $900 and up, but not to my particular specs (e.g. unknown/low grade mobo; no choice for Win 8 Pro; only 16GB RAM).

Anything I'm overlooking, or any "gotchas"?

Note that I am in Canada, so don't have all the purchasing options of USA builders.

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  1. Scrap the Windows 8 and get a 64gb Patriot Zephyr SSD from ebay for CA$69.22 inc shipping or for CA$95.32 you can have a 128gb Patriot. You seem firm on the Windows 8 thing? I'd opt for the SSD for your OS and Photoshop needs keeping the 600GB for everything else.
  2. bluerotkev, thanks for answering.

    While I don't particularly care for the Win 8 interface at first glance:

    - My only Windows licenses are OEM, so I need a full license, regardless (and I've been running XP Pro, so I'm a fair ways behind)

    - In my line of work, the advanced virtualization of Win 8 Pro is a very attractive feature

    As I implied earlier, I likely will get an SSD for the OS and some key apps, but next year when the money is less tight. Given how the tech is going, I suspect I'll get better bang for my buck then too.

    I should add that I do have two external hard drives which I mostly use for backup (one is 1TB; the other is 500GB), and the old case has a 320GB drive that probably still functions (the old computer had two drives; I'm pretty sure I fried the main OS drive and perhaps the PS by leaving the computer on for months on end, including through a couple nasty thunder/lightning storms). On my current computer, I've only got a 300GB drive, and through deleting some redundant files I recently managed to get my occupied space down to 200GB. So I think 600GB will do me at least long enough to give me time to save up again for a decent, sizeable SSD. From my reading the SSDs are usually higher performance just by being bigger, so I don't really want to waste time with a 60GB.

    A bit further info:

    1. The case is an Antec Sonata III from around 2006-2007; I had the box specially built for my home recording studio. I'm guessing that the power supply is shot, but I've never taken the computer in to see exactly what went wrong with it. In any case, the computer doesn't have the power to meet my present needs. But the case is in excellent condition, and is pretty nice. Probably my biggest question regarding it is whether I can use the new motherboards' USB3.0 capability through the old Sonata III USB inputs, since USB3.0 wasn't around back then.

    2. I do zero gaming. As noted, I am heavy into graphics-oriented stuff. If I get XP virtualization running, I can run my old soundcard (no drivers past XP) and do audio editing again (Sonar X1).
  3. One thing I also intended to ask about is cooling. Like I said, I don't game, and I know the new systems are more energy efficient and thus cooler. Can I get by with stock cooling?
  4. Best answer
    Yeah, stock cooling will be fine. Its not very good, but will keep it within spec. An SSD does make a lot of things faster, I really think its worth it. I like Samsung 840Pros or Crucail M4s (cheaper, but not as fast). It would save you some dough to go with an ASRock Extreme 4, which is a very good motherboard for the money. You may want to consider getting AMD's Radeon Ramdisk since you are going with 32GB. I am testing it out and it makes a great scratch disk with speeds up to 6000MBs. When running CS6 I set it to 15GB and run my images from it too. Nvidia's cards speed up Photoshop CS6 too using CUDA. I picked up a 570GTX recently just cause of that. Its fast at rendering and encoding and it was only 200 bucks.
  5. Thanks, maestro. I just learned about Ramdisk this week, and was contemplating just that. From what I'm hearing, I probably won't be tapping into much more than 16GB of the RAM, anyway, so using some of the rest for the I/O bottleneck sounds logical to my limited understanding. I understand it's actually considerably faster than SSD, although of course the sheer space isn't there.

    As far as the ASRock Extreme 4--where I'm at, the Gigabyte seems to be equal or cheaper. (151.98 + free shipping from vs 154.99 +11.99 shipping for the cheapest Extreme 4)

    The crowd I've been reading lately (web server guys) always talk up the Samsung 830s, but they seem to be on the pricier end. Like I said, I'll hold off on that one for a few months or a year. This system will already be infinitely more powerful than the box I'm leaving....

    Any comments on the power supply? After some further research, I'm also contemplating the 575W Thermaltake Toughpower XT, which is the same price as the Corsair (except that the Corsair has a rebate). Leaning that way because it's modular. I think the few reviews I've seen for both are decent, particularly given the bang for buck....
  6. Best answer selected by timg65.
  7. You get HD 4000 not 3000 with that i7, and the i7 hyperthreading will take care of speeding things up.

    Now, me being a guy who thinks 16GB isnt overkill thinks 32GB is overkill, you can save SO much money by getting 16GB because the mobos for 32GB are expensive as hell while 16GB are nice and easy (I got one for $45 that runs my i7 3770k+7950 3GB+16GB ram fine)
  8. Oops, mistyped that. Yes, I was aware that Ivy Bridge is HD4000.

  9. Well, just a follow-up. I couldn't get Newegg's cart to work, so the specs changed a little bit. I bought the CPU and mobo from; the rest I just ordered from NCIX. So here's what it comes to:

    Power supply: OCZ Z-Series 850W 80+ Gold
    CPU: i7 3770
    Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H
    RAM: NCIX Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 32GB 1600Mhz 11-11-11
    Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 64MB SATA 6Gbps
    OS: Win 8 Pro OEM full

    So I ended up with a conventional hard drive, after all, but got a decent deal on everything. Hope to add an SSD and GPU sometime next year, but in the meantime, this should be nicely robust.

    Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts!
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