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First time build! Please help! Any criticism welcome :-)

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January 31, 2013 5:14:32 PM

Ok so I’m doing tons of research and planning my first build on a budget (really trying to stay below $700 but would consider maxing at $800 if a good case was made for the additional money spent). Wanted to know what you guys think. I have listed the parts I’m pretty set on, but will have a list of components at the end for possible upgrades. I’m trying to keep my build under $700 with plenty of room to upgrade gradually later on, so I’ll pose the question (for the list at the end) as: “If you had to choose one component to upgrade, which one would you choose?” Also, any compatibility issues you guys might notice from my build, ie: Are there enough power connecters on the PSU, did I budget enough wattage for all my components, will the motherboard support all the SATA connections I need, is there a glaring issue that I have overlooked, etc… My biggest fear is that I get all my parts and one tiny thing works against all my research on the other components. So please, don’t be shy and give me all the constructive criticism I need. Thanks in advance!

Ok Here’s my prospective build (with prices recently found online in USD):
CPU
o Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz 6MB Cache Quad-Core ($214.63)

Motherboard
o GIGABYTE GA-Z77-D3H (Intel Z77, 2xPCI-E, 6xSATA, 4xDDR3) ($104.99)

Memory
o 8GB (4GBx2) Corsair Vengeance DDR3 1600Mhz ($42.99)

Hard Drive
o 1TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 32MB Cache SATA3 6GB/s ($73.51)

2nd Hard Drive
o 64 GB Samsung 830 SSD ($61.24)

CD/DVD/CDRW1
o Cannibalized from a previous desktop

CD/DVD/CDRW2
o Also cannibalized from a previous desktop (I do some very light video editing and DVD ripping so I like having two DVD-ROM’s, plus they’re free )

Video Card
o Gigabyte 1GB GeForce GT 620 GDDR3 PCI-E DVI/HDMI ($52.88)
o Side note: I know I really skimped on GPU’s here but this was one of the few components that I felt like could be easily upgraded in the future without having to change many other components (ie CPU, MOBO, etc..). And having to do this on a budget, I thought getting bigger/better MOBO, CPU, & PSU’s makes for an easier base machine to easily upgrade later.

OS
o Would love any suggestions here, I am stumped on whether I should just use an old version of Windows Vista and try to upgrade to Windows 8, try to buy Windows 7 from the MOBO manufacturer, or just buy Windows 8 outright, this unfortunately, might greatly influence my budget,

Case
o Corsair Carbide 200R ($49.99)
o Corsair Vengeance C70 ($89.99) (I know I should only have one case listed here, but the C70 just had such a great price on Amazon…)

PSU
o 650 Watt Corsair CMPSU-650TX V2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE CERTIFIED ($69.99)


And here’s the list of upgrades I mentioned (can’t afford more than 1 or 2 max)

CPU
o Intel Core i7-3770 3.4GHz 8MB Cache Quad-Core ($289.98)

Motherboard
o ASUS P8Z77-V (Intel Z77, 3xPCI-E, 8xSATA, 4xDDR3) ($189.90)

Memory
o Same as above, any other suggestions are welcome, but I really liked the Vengeance for the price, and I know for sure my MOBO is compatible with the 1600mhz DRAM’s

Hard Drive
o 2TB Western Digital Black 7200RPM 64MB Cache SATA3 6GB/s ($159.99)

2nd Hard Drive
o 128GB Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 SATA3 SSD ($104.99)
o 128 GB Samsung 840 SSD ($139.99)

Video Card
o EVGA 2GB GeForce GT 650Ti GDDR5 PCI-E DVI/HDMI ($162.00)
o Again, can’t get too overzealous here, but ideally later on I’d love to make this a hardcore gaming machine so I wouldn't want to spend more on the GPU now if later on i can afford to drop $300 on a really nice GPU. As far as I know this is a pretty solid middle of the road GPU but could easily be outmatched with a better one, or even a double-card setup using SLI or Corssfire. Let me know your thoughts.

Case
o Corsair Obsidian 550D ($129.99)
o Love this case, but can’t justify going all out on my very first build. I just want it to be uber-functional and don’t need any fancy neon lights or crazy fans etc… on a very practical level I just need the case to look decent, have great features like tool-less building, maybe rubber grommets, fits all my components, and have decent airflow.

PSU
o 750 Watt Corsair CMPSU-750TX V2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE CERTIFIED ($98.00)
o 850 Watt Corsair CMPSU-TX850M V2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE CERTIFIED ($128.98)
o How much benefit does a modular PSU give? If you had to choose between a modular kit or an upgrade to efficiency (ie Silver/Gold/Platinum) which is favorable?

Anyway guys, thanks a bunch for your input and let me know what you think!

More about : time build criticism

January 31, 2013 5:36:58 PM

Hello... there is no SLI support with the GTX 650 TI... Crossfire is for ATI cards only.
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January 31, 2013 5:37:19 PM

For a non-gamer, a weak GPU is ok, but if you even might play games, either get a HD7750, or get the GTX650ti now.
You can run that on a good 400-500W PSU; I'd recommend anything built by Seasonic, new FSP, or Super Flower.
If you're going to get a SSD, get at least 120-128GB at the outset.
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January 31, 2013 5:41:04 PM

So far so good. On the CPU vs GPU issue: how important is playing Battlefield 3 and Starcraft3 going to be to you?

I use those two because they are fairly CPU dependant for frame rates. I5’s are very good quad core CPU’s. i7’s are also very good quad core (mostly) CPU’s BUT they have hyperthreading, which makes them perform more like an eight core. Are you going to be crunching some serious numbers, or just gaming and using your computer on line? Is that difference worth $120 extra to you?

If not be happy with the i5 and over clock the holy crap out of it.

Motherboard choice is good. If you want to save some money go with an ASRock. They are made by ASUS.

Memory choice is fine. I prefer GSkill or Corsair, but most memory these days is made well and is compatible. Make sure your timings for 1600 ram are 9 or lower.

GPU: You are being wise here. Many of my snooty compatriots here will tell you to spend $300 on a 670ti or HD 7950. If it’s not important to you, don’t. Upgrade from your chosen mid- market GPU when you are ready. (agreed, a 7750 is a very good mid range card.)

Get the Samsung. Crucials can be buggy. Bust for a 128gb, minimum.

I am curious why you need two DVD’s, but it’s just a curiosity, not a concern.

OS… there is a big thread here on eight vs seven.
I use seven. There are some games and some applications that are tuned for, and therefore perform up to ten percent faster on eight. I don’t get all excited about ten percent. Seven works like vista and XP. You will be able to operate it immediately. There will be a learning curve on eight and the apparent inability to do some routine tasks in eight will infuriate you. But the learning curve is pretty fast and its cheap… right now. If you go for eight, get the 64 bit.

Case choice is very good. If you are looking for something a bit cheaper in the same line look at the Antec one, the NZXT 210 or the CM 212.

Your power supply choices are good, both are made by Seasonic. The 650W should be fine. Modular PSU’s make cable management easier. I have an Antec HCG620M and LOVE it.
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January 31, 2013 5:48:27 PM

Ironsounds said:
Hello... there is no SLI support with the GTX 650 TI... Crossfire is for ATI cards only.


Thanks for the heads up. Because I am planning to wait a little longer to fully commit and upgrade to a high-performing GPU, I haven't done all the necessary due diligence on SLI vs Crossfire, and what is compatible with what.
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January 31, 2013 5:52:32 PM

Here's my take on various items:

Go with the 3570K instead of the 3770, they both have 4 physical cores, the main difference is hyper-threading which doesn't add much performance for your money. The Gigabyte motherboard is fine, as long as you aren't going to run 2 video cards. If you want to preserve the option to do so, you'd need to get the next model up, the GA-Z77X-D3H. The Corsair Vengeance RAM is good as well. Windows 7 is still the OS of choice if you ask me. To be honest, I don't think that the motherboard even supports Vista...

Your PSU selections are overkill for any single-GPU system, especially since the GA-Z77-D3H motherboard doesn't do SLI. You need at most 550w for high-end models (e.g. GTX 680), and 450w for mid-end cards like the GTX 660. A good semi-modular 550 PSU (Rosewill HIVE-550) can be had for about $70 @ Newegg and get the best of both worlds (i.e. quality and modularity).

Don't bother with getting a GT 620 as a stop-gap video card. The integrated graphics in the 3570K (Intel HD 4000) are about on par with that card and are essentially "free".

I wouldn't go with a SSD under 120GB right now, the price/capacity ratio isn't optimal below that point. You can get some decent 120GB SSDs for $100 right now, such as the Samsung 840 (non-Pro) @ Newegg.

As for the HDD, I'd recommend the WD Blue WD10EZEX over the 1TB Seagate drive ($75 @ Superbiiz). It's a single-platter drive and thus inherently more reliable.

Lastly, I like the Corsair 200R. Decent quality and cable routing options plus 2 fans for under $50 = WIN in my book.
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January 31, 2013 6:04:48 PM

groundrat said:
So far so good. On the CPU vs GPU issue: how important is playing Battlefield 3 and Starcraft3 going to be to you?

I use those two because they are fairly CPU dependant for frame rates. I5’s are very good quad core CPU’s. i7’s are also very good quad core (mostly) CPU’s BUT they have hyperthreading, which makes them perform more like an eight core. Are you going to be crunching some serious numbers, or just gaming and using your computer on line? Is that difference worth $120 extra to you?

If not be happy with the i5 and over clock the holy crap out of it.

Motherboard choice is good. If you want to save some money go with an ASRock. They are made by ASUS.

Memory choice is fine. I prefer GSkill or Corsair, but most memory these days is made well and is compatible. Make sure your timings for 1600 ram are 9 or lower.

GPU: You are being wise here. Many of my snooty compatriots here will tell you to spend $300 on a 670ti or HD 7950. If it’s not important to you, don’t. Upgrade from your chosen mid- market GPU when you are ready.

Why do you have your hard disk as #1 and the SSD as number 2? Your SSD should be your C drive. That’s where you will get the bank for your buck. The one TB drive should be where you install all of your games and other applications. Only the OS, your Anti-virus and maybe MS Office should go on the SSD. Get the Samsung. Crucials can be buggy.

I am curious why you need two DVD’s, but it’s just a curiosity, not a concern.

OS… there is a big thread here on eight vs seven.
I use seven. There are some games and some applications that are tuned for, and therefore perform up to ten percent faster on eight. I don’t get all excited about ten percent. Seven works like vista and XP. You will be able to operate it immediately. There will be a learning curve on eight and the apparent inability to do some routine tasks in eight will infuriate you. But the learning curve is pretty fast and its cheap… right now. If you go for eight, get the 64 bit.

Case choice is very good. If you are looking for something a bit cheaper in the same line look at the Antec one, the NZXT 210 or the CM 212.

Your power supply choices are good, both are made by Seasonic. The 750W should be fine. Modular PSU’s make cable management easier. I have an Antec HCG620M and LOVE it.



Thanks for the detailed critique! I will never claim to be an expert cause like my dad always said "Humility always makes the best PC build" lol. Ok let's address some of your questions:

Although I'd love the i7, from what i read in many forums, the i5 performance has minimal limitation (aside from the hyper-threading tech). This would be my second future upgrade (when funds become available) but I also fear that by the time i have some money to upgrade the CPU, there might be some newer tech available, or at the least, the i7 will be significantly discounted. both of which work in my favor.

Also i know next to nothing about OCing but with the i5 i was definitely keeping it my main purchase option with the intention of learning how to do it well and applying it to my build.

My idea behind the more expensive mobo was to afford the ability to easily upgrade future CPU and GPU, so I'm ok with having a few extra unused slots for now, because i hear the you can disable them in the BIOS system until you need them, and that doing this keeps the system from slowing down unnecessarily.

as for the memory, i thought the Vengeance was a Corsair product? if you prefer a different Corsair DRAM stick, let me know which one and i'll compare prices. Also i have heard equally good reviews for Gskill, but wondered what the detailed pros & cons were vs the slightly more expensive Corsair?

the HDD was mislabeled as #1. I completely agree that the 1st HD should be the SSD as your primary boot disk.

2 CD drives are for my occasional (though consistent) ripping and burning DVD's (legally of course). and since i already own two, why not put them in? :-) actually that doesnt need to be rhetorical, are there any reasons why this would be a waste of 5.25" SATA space?

Thanks for the case suggestions, I'll look into them.

And so are you saying that modular PSU's are worth the additional $$?

Thanks again for the info!
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January 31, 2013 6:14:54 PM

Corsair is a more general-computing brand, whereas G.Skill is more gamer-oriented. I'd trust Corsair if I had to make a choice. Corsair's Vengeance (and its low-profile "Vengeance LP" variant) RAM kits are very popular and reliable.

As for the modular PSUs, it's a matter of opinion. My thought is that if you're going to use a relatively small case like the 200R, it's better to not have entire unused cable strands (like 3x molex cables) cluttering up the interior of your system. There's usually a 10-20 dollar premium over similar non-modular models, but I think it's worth it...
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January 31, 2013 6:37:49 PM

svengeguttensen said:
Here's my take on various items:

Go with the 3570K instead of the 3770, they both have 4 physical cores, the main difference is hyper-threading which doesn't add much performance for your money. The Gigabyte motherboard is fine, as long as you aren't going to run 2 video cards. If you want to preserve the option to do so, you'd need to get the next model up, the GA-Z77X-D3H. The Corsair Vengeance RAM is good as well. Windows 7 is still the OS of choice if you ask me. To be honest, I don't think that the motherboard even supports Vista...

Your PSU selections are overkill for any single-GPU system, especially since the GA-Z77-D3H motherboard doesn't do SLI. You need at most 550w for high-end models (e.g. GTX 680), and 450w for mid-end cards like the GTX 660. A good semi-modular 550 PSU (Rosewill HIVE-550) can be had for about $70 @ Newegg and get the best of both worlds (i.e. quality and modularity).

Don't bother with getting a GT 620 as a stop-gap video card. The integrated graphics in the 3570K (Intel HD 4000) are about on par with that card and are essentially "free".

I wouldn't go with a SSD under 120GB right now, the price/capacity ratio isn't optimal below that point. You can get some decent 120GB SSDs for $100 right now, such as the Samsung 840 (non-Pro) @ Newegg.

As for the HDD, I'd recommend the WD Blue WD10EZEX over the 1TB Seagate drive ($75 @ Superbiiz). It's a single-platter drive and thus inherently more reliable.

Lastly, I like the Corsair 200R. Decent quality and cable routing options plus 2 fans for under $50 = WIN in my book.


Thanks, I'll definitely consider upgrading to the Z77X, as I was unsure on the many differences between the subtle letters (Z77, Z77X, Z77 LE, Z77 LX, Z77M, etc)

The one question I had about PSU's was this: If i really want to keep this available for future large upgrades (ie two GPU's in the future), wouldn't I want a higher PSU that could last me through multiple builds? I did some basic websearching for PSU requirements for my potential build and used http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.js...
they recommend adding up to 25% additional wattage as a safety cushion over the recommended wattage, and also I think that using two CD-ROM's might draw a decent amount of power as they are drives with physical parts, right?

The consensus on the stopgap GPU is that you are probably right. I think i'd rather just save the money now and keep from getting a discreet GPU, and just save my money and get a powerhouse later.

Also thanks for the recommendation on the Samsung 120gb and WD blue, those have great reviews, and I do like the security of the single-platter layout.

Thanks for all the great feedback!

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January 31, 2013 8:42:58 PM

If you want to leave the door open to getting a 2x GPU setup down the road, then by all means get a ~700 watt PSU. It's just that some people knowingly buy overly-powerful PSUs that are double what their rigs could possibly need even after factoring in future expansion, possibly as some sort of "e-peen proxy", so to speak. Since you're on a pretty tight budget, I was trying to save a little cash for you.

Two more things: DVD drives use a negligible amount of power, no more than a couple of watts each, even less when idle. The power usage for the HDD and SSD models you're looking at should be on their respective websites' spec sheets. Also, PSU calculators often include a bit of an additional "fudge factor" in case someone goes and buys some no-name piece-of-crap PSU that fraudulently inflates its power rating claims.
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January 31, 2013 11:30:57 PM

If you're not going to play any games initially, the Intel HD4000 IGP will be fine to start; getting a low-end card that can't play games either becomes a waste of money.
A HD7750 should allow you to "sample" any game, although some of the latest and most demanding will be on very low settings. Groundrat is absolutely correct about how preposterous it is when someone suggest you "need" a $400 graphics card to enjoy games. Around $150 will buy a GTX650Ti, and around $200 will buy a HD7870; the former should play most games on "High" settings (possibly with no, or "only" 2xAA), and the latter should play most games on "Max" or "Ultra" with perhaps 1-2 settings turned back to "High." The HD7850 is somewhere between them in price and power.
If you anticipate getting two graphics cards, then a 650W-750W PSU is a reasonable choice; make sure it has four PCIe power connectors, not just two. For a single card, 550W is enough for all but the most powerful cards
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