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What GPU to get?

Last response: in Graphics & Displays
October 1, 2012 3:56:34 PM

Hi There,

I am attempting my first pc build so I am a bit of a newbie!! I have some general questions to ask and if you can help I would very much appreciate it!

Sorry if my descriptions are to vague as I am a noob you will have to bare with me :-)

So it here it goes...

So far I have obtained the following:

- 3770k cpu
- Asus P8Z77-V Premium motherboard

and soon will be getting the following: (unless you suggest otherwise)

os = windows ultimate
ram = 4 x 4gb corsair vengeance
ssd = 1 x 256gb crucial m4 ssd drive
psu = I am thinking corsair 800+

I will be using the rig for things such as:

- Adobe CS6 master suite 64bit apps
- Gaming
- Video editing rarely
- Developing
- Day - to - day stuff

So the questions I have are:

What GPU will suffice? Considering the PSU, mobo (ATX) compatibility and that I would like multiple screens set up?

Is 4 x 4gb DDR3 corsair 1600mhz overkill? Considering the CPU capability and the GPU's electricity consumption?

Is it worth getting a hdd drive and using the in-built ssd 32gb cache drive in conjunction?

Is it worth getting two ssd drives and setting up raid level 0 ? as far as I can tell it is only to boost the performance of a normal spindle drive?

What PSU shall I get? Considering the $$ I will be spending on the electricity bill each month :-)

And finally fan cooling or watercooling? I know that if I will be overclocking then I will need to use watercooling right? And quite frankly it looks a bit daunting to build my own water cooled system


More about : gpu

October 1, 2012 5:13:04 PM

You want a good GPU to have multiple screens as you've said, so I'd advise either 7870, or a 7970 depending on budget, or for Nvidia, a 670, or perhaps even a 680 if the budget allows it.

16GB of RAM is not overkill, especially for CS6 and encoding, and for the spec of the rest of the build it's quite suitable.

Personally, I'd recommend getting a Corsair Force GS: 360GB, with very high read/write speeds, and 1 high capacity HDD, like a 640GB 7200RPM, so games/programs/OS can go on the SSD, but everything else not as commonly used can go on a large HDD. Spending more on a second SSD for Raid isn't really enough to warrant another £200-ish spent.

A decent PSU with high wattage is suitable, such as a Corsair CX600, or a TX750. Higher spec GPU's need better PSU's, that need at least 2 PCI-E power slots. If you wanted potential CrossFire or SLI ability in the future you might to get 4 PCI-E slots. I'd advise 600W minimum, but more like 700. Higher wattage PSU's are always good, best to have more than needed than be tight on power.

Water cooling isn't unnecessary, but is very good, but needs more maintenance. You could just jump the gun and get much better CPU compounds and a high quality aftermarket CPU cooler. Depending on how much overclocking you want to do.
a c 291 U Graphics card
October 1, 2012 5:21:39 PM

Higher wattage on power supply will not increase your electricity bill - as its wattage is maximum power it can use, not the power it uses continuously. If anything, higher wattage power supply might actually save electricity, due to having higher quality components.

As for the graphics card, considering other components you've chosen, I'd suggest GTX 670. It will support 4 monitors, and is a very powerful AND well priced GPU.

Thirdly, you don't need water cooling to overclock. A decent heatsink fan will be good enough.

Lastly, I would not invest in Windows 7 Ultimate. Get home premium, and an extra SSD instead for the price difference :) .
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a c 85 U Graphics card
October 1, 2012 5:35:36 PM

A higher wattage PSU will not have better components than an equally costing, lower wattage PSU by a good brand. You should go with a name brand, always. [For example, a Corsair HX650, which is their best line of PSUs, can regularly pull 900 watts when needed, even though it's advertised as a 650w.]

The recommendation for the GTX 670 was spot on. If you can't afford it, since it's costly, you might want to look at ATI for bang-for-buck. [Do NOT buy a 680 - they're pointless, because the 670 is 95% of the performance for $100 less.]

As for the heatsink, I'd recommend the Hyper 212+ or eco. Wonderful cooler for $30.

I second Sunius on not having a need for Ultimate, and disagree with a lot of what Noodl said. I do some extremely RAM heavy stuff, and have never noticed my 8 gigs getting pushed at all. If you're watching budget, which it looks like you are, then a small SSD will be fine. Just make sure it's SATA 6GBs compliant and has enough room for your OS, Photoshop, and possibly some of the larger image files.

I'd recommend a 120/128 GB one. It's seriously worth it - the biggest improvement you could notice in a new rig, aside from upgrading from DDR2 to DDR3 memory.
a c 291 U Graphics card
October 1, 2012 6:37:28 PM

DarkSable said:
A higher wattage PSU will not have better components than an equally costing, lower wattage PSU by a good brand. You should go with a name brand, always. [For example, a Corsair HX650, which is their best line of PSUs, can regularly pull 900 watts when needed, even though it's advertised as a 650w.

I never said same price. I meant TX 750 will have better components than CX 600.
a b U Graphics card
October 1, 2012 8:01:54 PM

As far as your SSDs go, stick with the single biggest SSD you can stomach. RAID in ssds will disable the trim feature, causing your SSDs to slow over time as garbage accumulates; meanwhile, larger size will typically allow more free space, increasing the amount of free space improves wear leveling and write speeds.

A 670 is probably your best buy if it's in your budget. The 7870/7950 are good runners up; however what you need is pretty subjective. I run a 7870 and am happy with it, it works pretty smoothly for me at 1080p; though it's a bit underpowered for smooth 3d (aka 120fps) in some high end games.

For a single card, a 650W PSU would be fine. Corsair is a good brand (CX is their budget line, it is ok, but TX/HX/AX are better built); Seasonic and PC Power & Cooling are other good brands to look for. An 80plus rating is a good idea to get, but usually higher than bronze ratings really aren't worth the extra cost (if you pay 20$ more for it, and it saves you 3$ a year by being 4% more efficient, you didn't save anything). The higher ratings are more important when you have 100s of computers.

The hyper212 evo/plus is most frequently recommended cooling; reportedly one of the best and a steal at 30$ish; the Noctua D14s are supposed to be a bit better and probably quieter, but at more than double the price. Water isn't worth it for the most part unless you build your own.

October 1, 2012 8:17:23 PM

Would not recommend a 7850 or 7870. Get yourself a GTX 660, non TI version. They are $229 and can be overclocked to be super fast.
October 2, 2012 9:10:02 AM

Thanks guys for you detailed and quick responses!! It's very helpful!!

So from what I have gathered from you guys is that:

- GPU 660, 670 & 680 GTX NVIDIA GPUS or a 7850, 7870, 7950 ATI'S will do...

But any branded GPU specifically??

Currently I have my either on a these items:

- EVGA Gigabyte Superclocked Graphics Card GeForce GTX 680 GTX680 2GB w/Backplate
- MSI GTX 680 Twin Frozr III OC 2 GB
- Gigabyte GTX 680 graphics card
- Asus Nvidia GeForce 2GB GTX 680 DirectCU II OC Graphics Card (A7-M-011)
- Sapphire VAPOR-X Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition - Graphics Card.

Any of them good? In terms of up to date drivers and such ??

- OS you have suggested Home Premium which is fair but the reason I suggested the ultimate version was that I was under the assumption that home premium can only support up to 16 gb of RAM??

If not then great!! But if so then for the future upgrades it's not ideal! But as I said I am new at this so I might be talking BS :-)

- RAM capacity and number of modules you seem to agree on...

- 1 X SSD with bigger storage capacity and an external HDD seems to fit especially that I already have a 1TB external HDD that hasn't been used :-)

Do you guys know if I can use the onboard 32gb ssd on the mobo as an extra physical drive??

- PSU any of the corsair hx/tx/ax 650w + series will do?

I currently have my eye on these:

- Corsair Builder Series CX 750W '80 Plus Bronze' Power Supply
- Corsair Gamer Series GS 800W '80 Plus Bronze' Power Supply
- Corsair Enthusiast Series TX850M High Performance 850W '80 Plus Bronze'

and finally cooling!

The groups consensus being a heatsink with a good fan will do but again I ask you :-) any branded cooling fan ??

I have heard that corsair h100 series are good but I might be wrong!

Thanks again guys for your input!!
a b U Graphics card
October 2, 2012 12:33:27 PM

BigMack70 said:
If you're shelling out this much cash for high end parts, in my opinion you should also shell out some decent cash for a high end power supply. I'd recommend Corsair's AX850 or HX750.

For triple screen gaming, you do NOT want the 660 or 660ti from Nvidia. Get a 7950/670/7970. Anything below those cards will have major trouble at 3-screen resolutions.

I'd highly recommend the 7970 over the 670, as it will perform a tiny bit better and has an extra GB of vram which can come in handy for triple-screen gaming. It also overclocks like a champ and will leave the 670 in the dust.

As for a CPU heatsink, the H100 isn't really worth it IMO. It's not real water cooling, and the Noctua NH-D14 will offer similar cooling performance for less hassle and less money. I'd say if you want a good budget cooler, get the Hyper 212 Evo, if you want a high end cooler, get the NH-D14.

+1 to all that. To reiterate, don't spend the extra on a 680, it's not worth the 100$ over a 670 for a slight performance boost. If you are doing 3xmonitor gaming, you should plan for adding a second video card in the near future; the 7970 and 670 would both be good choices (don't get MSI though), BigMack's suggestion on VRAM is also a very good idea for triple monitor gaming; if you are only gaming on 1 monitor, though 2GB is plenty for 1 gaming monitor and 2 desktops.

A hyper212 evo or a noctua NH-d14 are your best air coolers. I've always heard the H100 isn't worth it.

I'm unsure whether or not you can use the 32gb cache drive as a physical disk. I kinda suspect that you cannot, but I've never used anything similar. I personally would consider having an internal HDD, it helps to be able to offload files onto; but depending on how much you keep on your PC you may be fine with a 256G drive and an external for music and such. If you do want an internal HDD, a Samsung Spinpoint F3 or WD Black or Blue drive are great choices.

Of the PSUs you listed, I would go for the GS800 or TX850, either is fine. A TX750 would probably be fine as well, even for SLI/Crossfire, but you may want to double check your cards to be sure.
October 4, 2012 4:08:56 PM

Thanks for your responses guys!! Much appreciated!

So I haven't really got an update yet....

PSU - I will be going for one of the PSUs you recommended most probably a TX850 or GS800 or higher for SLI/Crossfire as you suggested.

GPU - I will either go for a gtx 670 or the 7970 like Bigmack suggested and overclock.. Most probably the 7970 for the extra vram as I will have multiple screens

I have my eye on the: Sapphire VAPOR-X Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition - Graphics Card.. Have you guys heard good things about it?

I will let you know if the onboard ssd shows as a physcial drive.. but as you said probably not..

The cooler seems like a really good piece of kit and I will be going for that in the future after I got the expensive items out of the way..

I am not sure by what you meant noodl :

"Water cooling isn't unnecessary, but is very good, but needs more maintenance. You could just jump the gun and get much better CPU compounds and a high quality aftermarket CPU cooler. Depending on how much overclocking you want to do."

Ram - I will be going for 4 x 4gb corsair vengeance 1600 modules

Am I right in saying my board is quad channel compatible?? so that will be 4gb module to every core of the 3770k?

SSD - I will be taking your advice and obtaining a bigger capacity ssd but I am not sure about having an internal hdd unless I use the onboard ssd cache drive as I already have an external 1tb drive

CD/DVD drive - do you guys know of any good makes? I have no clue what so ever about them.

Case - I know that I will need a ATX form factor case but do you know of any good cases out there that will hold all of the components I have mentioned??

Fans- Depending on what case I aquire I guess?? But do you guys know of any good branded ones that last and have warranty??

I don't think I have missed anything right?? :-)

Again thanks for the input guys!!
October 8, 2012 8:59:38 AM

Thanks BigMack!! I'm sorry to hear about your horse :-)

I will be going with an AX850 seeming as they are top of the series and fully modular.

I have just purchased a GPU it was the 7970 Vapor-X Ghz edition :-))

So after I have bought the PSU as I mentioned I will be getting an ssd and I will take your thoughts in to consideration... As I said I already have an external 1TB hdd but you may be right in getting an internal in case.

As for the case seeming as it's a full ATX board and I don't mind in size really a Full tower probably is the way to go...but I could be wrong

I have heard that the Cool Master haf x and 932 are both good?

Great call on the fans Big Mack!! But if I do get one of the cases above I am pretty sure they come with their own fans right?

So to sum up I am one step closer to building the rig with a new GPU bought and a PSU on its way!