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~$1000 Gaming/Audio Recording Build

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December 21, 2012 9:18:06 PM

Hello, first time poster, long time lurker. I've never built a computer before, and have strictly used laptops up until this point.


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Approximate Purchase Date: Soon, within the next month or two I'd like to have it up and running.

Budget Range: Somewhere around $1000. If it comes out cheaper, great, and if it's 2-300 more, that's not a huge problem.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Most important - audio recording and production. That's my day job. I would love to be able to game on it at night as well.

Parts Not Required: Software, mouse, keyboard, displays, soundcard, hard drives

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU would be best, beyond that, I'm not picky.

Overclocking: Probably at some point, not opposed.

SLI or Crossfire: Not sure.

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050, maybe higher in the future.

Additional Comments: I need at least 1 firewire port to run my audio interface. I also need a lot of storage with fast access times, ideally, without breaking the bank. I have been running all of my audio files off 6 external USB 2.0 hard drives, and it's barely fast enough. If I can move a drive or two to the inside of the case, that would be best. I also need to be able to support two displays, preferably digitally, for the audio work. I would like the machine to be quiet-ish when not using the graphics card(s) heavily, though that isn't a *huge* issue.

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I have probably left out something, so let me know if any questions need to be answered. Also, I came across this case:

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

Would that be a good buy for what I need? Is that a good size? I'm assuming it is big enough for what I need (too big isn't an issue). Thanks so much in advance for your help. I've done a lot of reading about building a system, but want to check with people who know much better than myself before I begin.

Any advice would be much appreciated!

EDIT:
I forgot to mention - in case it matters, I'll be running Windows 7. Also, most of the audio programs I use support more than 2 cores.
December 21, 2012 11:55:38 PM

Okay, so I just parted out something like I think I want. As it's my first time doing this, I am definitely open to any suggestions.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($79.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($237.28 @ CompUSA)
Case: Cooler Master NV-692A-KWN2 ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.57 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 750W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($110.50 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.89 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $855.20
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-21 20:53 EST-0500)

The only change that I am making to the above list is to get this case:

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

instead of the one listed. They look to be the same case, only the one I'm getting will have USB 3.0 instead of e-SATA or something like that.
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December 22, 2012 12:09:56 AM

Just get 8GB 1600, it will be more than enough : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/mushkin-memory-996995

Also if you want to overclock the cpu get an aftermaket cooler cooler : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/cooler-master-cpu-cooler-r...

And if you need a mobo with firewire port : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asrock-motherboard-z77extr...

Also the psu is overkill, just get a good quality psu with 550w : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/xfx-power-supply-p1550sxxb...

Almost at that price range, the 660ti is better for a few $ more : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/gigabyte-video-card-gvn66t...
or a cheaper 660 gtx : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-video-card-gtx660dc2o...

Also don't you need hdd or ssd ?

If you need a lot of space get this : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seagate-internal-hard-driv...

If you want a ssd get this : http://pcpartpicker.com/part/sandisk-internal-hard-driv...
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December 22, 2012 12:14:23 AM

Okay, the power supply was what I was really wondering about, thanks for clearing that up. Also, I have one of these laying around:

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

So I'll probably just stick with the motherboard above and save a few bucks.

I don't need hard drives, as I'll be migrating 3 or 4 3.5" drives over from my old computer. They should be more than enough on all fronts.

Thanks for the tip on the graphics card as well - I am totally lost when it comes to comparing them!
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December 22, 2012 12:18:50 AM

Oh, and I forgot to mention - 16GB ram will really help me out on the pro audio front. Many of the apps I use every day load multiple gigs of audio samples into the ram just to operate properly.
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December 22, 2012 12:20:40 AM

Yes, you could do that, just pointed out the asrock extreme 6 which has a lot of features, including the firewire, also has more quality and it's larger mobo, more like a standard atx vs somewhat short extreme 4.
Don't forget the cooler if you plan to oc.
Also if you want 16GB get this : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 22, 2012 12:25:56 AM

I definitely will invest in a cooler. Also, I didn't notice the size difference between those two mobos, I'll definitely do a bit more poking around before pulling the trigger.

What about that case, does that look alright to you?
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December 22, 2012 12:09:18 PM

timothyarcher said:
Oh, and I forgot to mention - 16GB ram will really help me out on the pro audio front. Many of the apps I use every day load multiple gigs of audio samples into the ram just to operate properly.


The 16Gb for sample libraries is perfect but you might want to checkout the 1600MHz versions as opposed to 1866MHz to save a few more $$. You won't see a noticeable change in performance - once they're loaded off your HDD they're more than capable. If you need those sample libraries to run quicker I'd suggest getting a seperate SSD which would drastically reduce loading times (Could become costly though...)

Just a thought about the case, if the PC is in the recording area you might want to invest in a more silent case. The fractal R3 is very effective as it has sound dampening material and it also looks quite elegant :) 
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December 22, 2012 6:31:48 PM

Thanks so much for the input! I actually went ahead and bought the CoolerMaster case listed above from newegg when it was $39 yesterday. Noise isn't too much of an issue for me, as I'm usually running the tower in a separate room for noise reasons. And I'll definitely be making the SSD switch soon.

I also went ahead and went with 1600MHz ram, as both of you guys suggested. Thanks for the tip! I grabbed the 550 watt power supply djangoringo recommended as well for $39 post rebate and saved a sizeable chunk.

One more question - I was sold on the 660ti that djangoringo recommended, but now I'm considering going for the Radeon 7870 HD listed here for $199 post rebate:

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

Does anyone have any thoughts about that? I'm pretty new to buying graphics cards.
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December 23, 2012 10:07:03 AM

Both cards should handle any game you throw at them especially at your resolution. From what I've seen the GTX 660Ti is a slightly faster card on average but personally I'd just go with what's cheaper. At that res there won't be any noticeable difference.
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December 23, 2012 6:57:45 PM

Great, thanks so much for clearing that up. I went with the XFX radeon card, as it was under $200.

I actually just saw that the i7 3770k is on sale at a micro center near me (tx) for 229.99. As I use one application heavily (Pro Tools 10) for audio work that utilizes hyper threading, I think I'm going to spring the extra few bucks for that as well. I realize that it won't really make a difference for gaming, but from poking around a bit, it seems like it will help audio rendering speed along.

Any thoughts about that, or does that aound like a good idea? From everything I can tell, it has the same power consumption and should work well with the asrock z77 extreme boards.
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December 23, 2012 7:20:21 PM

Yeah the i7 sounds like a sensible suggestion.

16GB sounds good but I agree on getting 1600Mhz. Make sure it is 1.5V or less as well.

The ideal GPU would be a GTX 660 or HD 7850 2GB in my opinion. Both cards are very efficient which is helpful in this type of build to reduce heat/noise. Even at 1080P, both of these are more than fine unless you insist on ultra high settings on the most demanding games with ultra high framerates or something. They're both plenty of mere mortals :p  (Just for a bit of perspective, I still play anything on high/very high settings at 1920x1200 and those cards I suggested are about 80% better than mine.)

350W would actually be fine for the PSU if using GTX 660/HD 7850 with an i5/i7 if not overclocking. To allow for overclocking and a bit of headroom, I'd look at 450W+ though. Here's a good one.

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

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December 29, 2012 11:11:30 PM

Thanks everyone for all the help! Here's what I ended up with, though plenty of it was on sale/rebate:


PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.98 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($78.98 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Western Digital Scorpio Black 750GB 2.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($77.68 @ SuperBiiz)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 250GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($171.00 @ Adorama)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($217.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master NV-692A-KWN2 ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.57 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 Professional (OEM) (64-bit) ($127.28 @ CompUSA)
Other: Siig Firewire PCI card ($15.00)
Total: $1354.97
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-29 20:10 EST-0500)


It came out to just under $850, as I already had the firewire card, hard drives, and os. The only discrepancy on that list is the case, which is just the USB 3.0 frontpanel version of that case. Thanks everyone for your help! Now I'm just waiting on the shipping..
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December 30, 2012 4:39:59 AM

Great :)  Hope you enjoy your new build!
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!