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Gaming Machine - Advice needed

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January 2, 2013 12:18:48 PM

Hello all

I'm looking into buying a decent gaming PC, and would love to hear from you. The budget is difficult to estimate in USD, because I'm in South Africa and prices tend to differ greatly compared to US stores.

Approximate Purchase Date: End of January / Early February

Budget Range: Approximately $1200

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, EDA software, general entertainment

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: Everything inside the chassis

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Does not really matter, Amazon or Newegg should be fine

Location: South Africa

Parts Preferences: None really, will comment on availability of certain manufacturers (e.g. XFX products are not available here)

Overclocking: Yes, but not right away

SLI or Crossfire: Probably not

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: [/b]Desktop broke down about 7 months ago, dying to replace it. (Gaming on an E-450 notebook T_T)

Here are the components I have chosen thus far:

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570k
Motherboard: MSI Z77-G43
PSU: Antec HCG-520M
RAM: Corsair Vengeance LP 1x8Gb
Graphics: MSI R7870 Twin Frozr 2GD5/OC
Chassis: CM Storm Scout II
HDD: WD Caviar Blue 1Tb

This configuration along with a basic optical drive costs about $1210, but the exchange rate and price differences will cause this to differ greatly to what is available. (although I have found the graphics card for much, much cheaper at another place).

Regardless, would like to hear advice from more experienced and informed users :) 

Jaco

January 2, 2013 12:38:23 PM

Here's what I'd get for $1200 with no OS (or $1300 with OS):

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($204.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LE ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($45.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($407.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($114.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1206.46
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-02 09:42 EST-0500)

Edit - Accidentally picked the wrong SSD.
January 2, 2013 12:41:02 PM

I've toyed with a lot of nvidia chipset cards, and can give you a gist of at least that.

First of all though, break the ram into 2x4gb. That seems to be the way.

Secondly, you may want to invest in a 32/64gb SSD boot drive. I'm hearing crazy startup times with those. After Christmas deals you can probably get one for <$80.

Third, if you're interested, look into the 7950 instead. I'm looking at about a 10 fps improvement. Seems to beat the nvidia chipset for the price.
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January 2, 2013 1:07:28 PM

First of all, thanks for the input.

@JMER806 The difference in prices is what's killing me :/ 

For that rig, from the cheapest local online store would cost ~$1650, if directly translated from Rands. Crucial products aren't available here, so I used the 120Gb Agility 3's price as reference.

I also left out the cooler since I figured the stock cooler will be sufficient until I decide to OC.

@darkhelmet41290

I left out the SSD in order to upgrade from a 7850 to a 7870.

The 8Gb DIMM would work out cheaper, but is there a specific reason to rather buy 2x 4Gb?

And finally, the 7950 is ridiculously overpriced here, for the minute increase in FPS I'd rather opt for the 7870.

---

My greatest concerns are the motherboard, graphics card and PSU at the moment; torn between Z77/H77 chipsets and which manufacturers are better in terms of build quality and value for money.
January 2, 2013 1:13:53 PM

We're reaching past where I feel comfortable in my knowledge, so I'm going to resign here. Best of luck. I do remember that breaking them into two is preferable though.
January 2, 2013 1:29:09 PM

For MOBOs, go for Asrock, Gigabyte, and Asus. If you ever intend to OC the CPU, then you need the Z77. H77 doesn't allow OCing. Since you're getting the "k" CPU, definitely get a Z77. The one I listed is a great one, but as I said the Gigabyte and Asrock Z77s are also good.

So regarding price differences. Which components do you generally find are more expensive or less expensive? If you use my build as a template, can you find similar products? For example, here there are a number of SSDs that are all in around the $90-110 range that are 120 or 128 GB. There are five or six of these (OCZ Agility 3/4, Intel, Samsung 830/840, Crucial M4, Corsair, etc). RAM is the same way. I like the Corsair brand, but you can also get Mushkin, G.Skill, and so forth.
January 2, 2013 1:39:58 PM

darkhelmet41290 said:
We're reaching past where I feel comfortable in my knowledge, so I'm going to resign here. Best of luck. I do remember that breaking them into two is preferable though.


Thanks in any case mate. Have a good one :) 
January 2, 2013 1:54:44 PM

JMer806 said:
For MOBOs, go for Asrock, Gigabyte, and Asus. If you ever intend to OC the CPU, then you need the Z77. H77 doesn't allow OCing. Since you're getting the "k" CPU, definitely get a Z77. The one I listed is a great one, but as I said the Gigabyte and Asrock Z77s are also good.

So regarding price differences. Which components do you generally find are more expensive or less expensive? If you use my build as a template, can you find similar products? For example, here there are a number of SSDs that are all in around the $90-110 range that are 120 or 128 GB. There are five or six of these (OCZ Agility 3/4, Intel, Samsung 830/840, Crucial M4, Corsair, etc). RAM is the same way. I like the Corsair brand, but you can also get Mushkin, G.Skill, and so forth.


Alright. I can get the ASRock Z77 Pro3 for a much lower price, compared to the Asus and Gigabyte Z77 offerings, but the MSI board I listed is still the cheapest. I don't know ASRock and their reputation that well though, that's why I was hesitant to add it to the list.

The specific ASUS board you listed is not available here, the closest models being the P8Z77-M and the P8Z77-V LX, priced at ~$175 and ~$200 respectively.

Regarding the SSDs, the cheapest 128Gb is the KINGSTON SV200S37A, for ~$120, with the OCZ vertex 3 120Gb at almost the same price. As I told darkhelmet, I removed the SSD from the rig in order to upgrade from a 7850 to a 7870; and I was looking at an OCZ Agility 4 64Gb (~$85).

The RAM isn't really an issue, but I definitely prefer Corsair in that department.

Is the Antec PSU I listed sufficient? The one you recommended costs ~$175 here; compared to ~$95 for the Antec one. I have read that there are some issues concerning Corsair's CX series of power supplies, so I decided to steer clear of them in the PSU department.

Concerning the graphics card, the cheapest 7970 here is ~$615 (I know, right?); and it's a Club3D HD7970.

Edit: Generally, everything is more expensive. There doesn't seem to be a pattern with specific components or manufacturers. Even the 3570k CPU costs ~$280.


January 2, 2013 3:56:03 PM

Wow, yeah those are high prices.

MSI boards are decent, from what I read, but I don't have any experience with them. If they review well, then go for it.

Avoid the Vertex 3 - they had some problems. Agility 4 is a good SSD, and 64 GB is sufficient for your OS, but they fill up fast and over-filling the SSD can be detrimental to its lifespan. Kingston hasn't gotten great reviews. I'd say get the smaller, newer SSD and make sure to be careful with the space.

Assuming your Antec PSU is 520 W as the name implies, it should run the system. You're right that there have been some problems with the CX series for whatever reason, but you might consider a TX-650, as it is a good compromise between price and power. You want a PSU that is around 550-650W to run that system comfortably with some overhead (you would likely need 750 to SLI). Good brands are Corsair TX and above, Seasonic, XFX, PC Power and Cooling... check those out and see if you can get a bit more wattage in your price range.
January 2, 2013 5:51:52 PM

Thanks a lot for the advice JMer806, I found a Corsair TX550M PSU for only slightly more expensive than the Antec one; but they both have modular cable management, the same protection circuitry as well as the 80+ Bronze certification, together with a 5 year warranty. I just need to figure out and decide if the extra 30W is really necessary.

Another option is the Antec Earthwatt EA-550, which has the 80+ Platinum certification but no modular cable management, at a price point below the TX550. I've read the PSU guides available here extensively, so it's like you said - seeing if I can get a bit more wattage at that price point.

I was not aware that over-filling an SSD can lower its lifespan, that's definitely something I'll look into.

The MSI board did not review that well, although I could only find one review; and since the ASRock board is only slightly more expensive I'd rather opt for that one. Luckily I have a few more weeks to do some research and comparisons :) 

Thanks again!

January 2, 2013 7:51:17 PM

Antec is a reputable brand for power supplies. As for splitting the ram that's so it can run in dual channel mode.
January 4, 2013 4:57:46 AM

mlcaouette said:
Antec is a reputable brand for power supplies. As for splitting the ram that's so it can run in dual channel mode.


Ah of course T_T thanks.

I found a decent MSI 7950 Twin Frozr III 3Gb at only a tad more expensive than the 7870, so for now I'll opt for that one rather.

There's a promotion for a 7870 Twin Frozr III 2Gb for R2800 (~$325, over $100 cheaper than the one I looked at previously), but I doubt that will last until I can buy the whole machine.

Either way, it looks like I'll have to jump between online shops due to the price differences between distributors, but anyways.

Thanks for the advice guys!

Cheers
!