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First system I'm building, ~1K(?) budget for modded out Skyrim

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  • Skyrim
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February 12, 2013 7:24:10 PM

Not to beat a dead horse, I know I've seen a few threads already for a new PC build for playing a well modded Skyrim, but after reading the expertise of the replies here, I'm hoping I can start a thread here as my budget is a bit bigger and I could use some clarification from other posts. Here is a link to the same basic thing I posted on Eggxpert yesterday: http://www.eggxpert.com/forums/thread/877526.aspx if it helps, though it's really long at only 8 posts so far...

I'm going to try and follow FinneousPJ's template to make things easier on everyone.

Right now I've only gotten pricing info off of newegg, though I know I can likely get some better prices from other posts I've seen. I'm ultimately trying to keep this build around 1k.

Approximate Purchase Date: likely mid to end of April (just starting my research early)
Budget Range: 1k to 1,500 MAX, would REALLY like to keep it to the lower end though as much as possible, before rebates and shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: This is two fold...

1) gaming, building to handle a heavily modded Skyrim with textures, etc, and run at highest setting within reason-e.g., ultra settings, 1920*1080, reasonable AA, AF, MSAA settings (NOT fully maxed). I want it to look great, be able to handle the texture, lighting, flora mods and the like with playable fps while understanding that my budget will only get me so far

2) just as important as number 1, I'd like this to be a system I can use to upgrade in the future as I need to without having to replace more parts than needed. I'll be enjoying other titles besides Skyrim as well, that's just the game that's prompting to use my tax return to finally do this.
Are you buying a monitor: monitor is taken care of already

Parts to Upgrade: the whole enchilada, minus mouse, KB, and monitor

Do you need to buy OS: yes, I hear Win 7 Home Pro is better than Win * for gaming still

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I love newegg's service, but with this many parts, I will be shopping around for competitive pricing as well (ncix, microcenter are two I've learned about in reading through posts here)

Location: Amarillo, TX

Parts Preferences: would prefer to stick to intel i5-3570K CPU, and possibly Nvidia GPU as I seem to hear AMD GPUs crash more in Skyrim Not sure how accurate that is though.

Overclocking: not at first, but I definitely want the option ready in this first build for when I've learned how to and I'm comfortable trying it

SLI or Crossfire: If not in this first build, I definitely want this first build ready to do so when that time comes.
Your Monitor Resolution: will likely keep it at 1920x1080 and will likely opt for my SONY Bravia 32" (24Hz, 1080p) for primary monitor (unless this is a bad idea)

Additional Comments: Airflow is crucial to me, might try Liquid cooling down the road, but not on this first build. I haven't had a capable gaming rig in 10+ years, Skyrim and the ability to mod games in general are what's making me do this. I still want to play other titles, and be able to use this first build as a springboard for future upgrades into a more powerful rig.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: see above :) 

Parts I'm considering currently are as follows:

CASE: CM HAF 922

PSU: Corsair HX750
(Only considering a 750W for future SLI/XFire configs, If I can safely go lower, I would definitely consider it)

ASRock Z77 Extreme4 or Extreme4-M
(I'm told this is good for OC'ing, not sure about the Extreme4 vs. the 4-M, though, or how this would work for SLI/XFire set-ups... also should I be looking for PCI-E 3.0 x16 slots? This has been the most difficult part for me to consider)

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB
(I'm told this will fit under the AM CPU fan)

Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo)

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler

SAMSUNG 840 Pro Series 2.5" 128GB SATA III
(unsure about this as well, I've heard that it does/doesn't help with gaming performance-yes, in that it has faster access... no, in that this only applies to boots and OS operations, not gaming)

SAMSUNG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM SATA Model SH-224BB - OEM

EVGA 04G-P4-3687-KR GeForce GTX 680 FTW+ w/Backplate 4GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
(This is alo very confusing to me and a HUGE issue: I've read that >2Gb of VRAM is a must for a well modded Skyrim to keep frames playable, and then I'm also told that only a triple monitor set up would need that much RAM, but again, I've read stuff that seems to strongly suggest otherwise when it comes to playing a modded out Skyrim... HELP!!! this is my most expensive peice of hardware and I DEF want to get this one right... Who's correct in this matter? Would and SLI config be better?)

You guys are awesome, and thanks so much in advance for your help :) 

More about : system building budget modded skyrim

February 12, 2013 10:00:15 PM

The 4GB is fine, as it not only helps in skyrim, multiple monitors, but it also helps in future games that MIGHT go over 2GB without mods at 1080p+. I would personally not go with the reference design but that's up to you, but if you go with non-reference, it will be cooler under load and idle. Gigabyte and MSI make good 680s with high factory clocks. IF you want a better one (not being an AMD fanboy), I would go with a Sapphire Vapor-X 7970 3 GB or a Gigabyte 3GB. In most games, I've seen that it performs better than the 680 and at a cheaper price.

You really don't need an SSD for gaming. I only use a hard drive, specifically this one: http://pcpartpicker.com/part/toshiba-internal-hard-driv...
It works good for me and at that price, it's hard to beat. It's a difficult decision if you want an SSD, since you don't need one, but that's up to you.

PSU, Disk Drive and Memory is fine (I would have went with Corsair, personally).

CPU is fine, but do you do 3D rendering, etc? If not, just leave it.

The MoBo is fine, as I have the normal version and it works fine.
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February 12, 2013 10:14:14 PM

Thanks Seafire,

Let me follow up with what I think is going to be a REALLY dumb question here, but I'm going to ask anyway. By reference design, I'm not exactly sure what you mean. I don't think I've seen anything like this on Newegg yet (which is where I'm just starting my price comparison shopping for now) but I assume you mean if it's not along the lines of a Gigabyte, MSI, Saphire, etc, that it is likely a ref design?

I'm also curious, since it's the first time I've looked at a HDD vs. a SSD, given that the Toshiba HDD is SATA 6Gb/s (I didn't realize HDDs had this connection until now) I am guessing this is way above the days of IDE. The last time I looked into anything hardware related was well over 10 years ago, but I seem to remember then that RAID configs were a big deal. Does this matter anymore, is that where the SATA bus comes into play? Just asking for my own edification. :) 
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February 12, 2013 10:19:19 PM

You see the one fan on an EVGA? The fan at the back is reference. The others, such as the Gigabyte, are not reference.

It depends. I've seen builds in RAID and through the SATA bus. It doesn't matter as most of the builds that I've seen are through the SATA bus and they seem to be faster.
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February 12, 2013 11:31:52 PM

Thanks again :) 
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February 12, 2013 11:43:11 PM

No problem. If you need any more help email me at: jordan.scruggs@chesnet.net

Be sure to send me pictures of the build!
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February 12, 2013 11:46:16 PM

I'm going to throw a couple things out here.

1) DO NOT buy a 680. It's only 5% faster than a 670, but is 25-30% more expensive. Don't waste the money, even if you have it - you wouldn't set it on fire, so why spend it on something that gives you no benefit?

2) Consider AMD. I haven't heard anything about how they run Skyrim in particular, but the normal AMD cards have 3GB of VRAM, which is plenty, and have more than enough overclocking headroom to compete with Nvidia.
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February 13, 2013 12:32:17 AM

Thanks, I'm asking on boards where Syrim mod users frequent about the option of the 7970 Radeon and waiting to hear back concerning their experience/advice concerning this. So far, I've only heard that Nvidia is the best choice, but without too much to back that up (at this point and time anyways.)

If I were in fact going for an Nvidia, I believe the 670 GTX 4 Gb is around the same price comparably as the Radeon 7970 (about $100 less than a 60 GTX). I mention this because I still seem to be hearing that the VRAM being >2Gb is important.

Any thoughts as to the efficacy of a 4Gb 670 GTX vs. the 4Gb 680 GTX?
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February 13, 2013 12:42:14 AM

I have the 680 and a friend has the 670, mine is significantly better and for a little more that reference price. He even has the FTW and I have the Galaxy 68NQH6DN6DXZ at 1.11GHz, to me, it's worth the money, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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February 14, 2013 2:25:46 PM

Thanks Seafire!

I am curious though, when you mention this comparison, my brain is kicking up this quetion at the back of my mind, "is this performance comparison with all else being equal?"

Specifically, I'm curious about the difference b/t the CPUs and maybe even more so, the VRAM of each card. I'm going to assume (just to keep things on the simpler side) that drivers, etc are up to date.

I ask b/c other posters on other forums continue to make a big deal out of the 4Gb 680 GTX for a modded out Skyrim being the equivalent of owning a corvette to drive to work. I know it's a good card, and I'm taking their point to heart that it may indeed be more than I need, especially wth budget considerations.

It's also still being stressed that the VRAM for a modded out Skyrim is quite important, and that >2Gb is a must if you planning on running some of the more intensive mods.

This has lead me to consider the Galaxy GTX 670 4Gb as an alternative that would save me $100 on the card, and allow me to lower my PSU to something b/t 550W and 650W an save a bit of cash there as well.

I'm also still wondering about the ASRock Z77 Extreme4 or Extreme4-M concerning which is preferable, specifically in regards to whether or not I would need the PCI-E 2.0 slot on the 4-M for anything I'm not thinking of right now, though I know you've said the normal is just fine (I'm just wondering about the extra slot is all.)

Also, your HDD is a nice pick, wondering if dropping to 1TB right now would save any reasonable cash, and if so, what might you consider.

And finally, I'm looking at the Rosewill HIVE Series HIVE-650 as a possible adjustment to the PSU. With this current comp build in mind, I've heard I could even drop down to a 550W. Is this true? Could it still handle this config with some extra fans added into the case down the road? I definitely don't want to skimp here, and I honestly don't know what a good model would be for either a 650W or a 550W PSU.

So I was just hoping to follow up on this all a bit more and get some further thoughts :p 
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February 14, 2013 3:17:47 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($129.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($53.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($274.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 922 ATX Mid Tower Case ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1048.88
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-14 12:16 EST-0500)

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February 14, 2013 5:04:02 PM

Thanks Sam!

To be honest, I think I'm leaning towards the Nvidia card based on what most Skyrim mod users are telling me here and elswhere. Sadly I don't have a micro center that's less than 6 hours away from me, so I can't take advantage of the MC awesome 189.99 price on the CPU, but I will check around here in Amarillo to see if any suppliers might be able to get closer to that price.

I like the PSU you recommend, but what is the diff b/t that and Cosiar HX Series HX750. Obviously there's something, but I can't pick it out.

Nice call on the Optical drive, definitely worth the few extra bucks from the samsung.
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February 14, 2013 6:37:16 PM

Hmm since you re up for a Nvidia card try picking up a GTX660Ti or if possible a GTX670. Since microcenter isnt an option, i think amazon has that processor. for 220 bucks, not sure tho.

The difference between the HX750 and the CX750 is that the HX750 is semi-modular ( that means that you only plug in the cables you need to, which makes cable managament easier and gives the system a clean look ). Also the CX750 is BRONZE 80+ while the HX750 is GOLD 80+ so the HX is a little bit more efficient.

Honestly, both PSU's are great, and they will deliver the power you need. They re very efficient, tho the HX750 wins on that a little bit. Personally i would NOT spend the extra money on the HX750 because its not gonna give you any better performance, so you can spend the money on a processor/gpu etc .... Just to keep you safe, BOTH psus WILL WORK GREAT, so dont worry.

I cant do it ATM, but im going to try to make you another build with a Nvidia card etc etc =)
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February 14, 2013 7:01:51 PM

Thanks again Sam :)  and Yeah, I think I'm definitely gonna roll with the Galaxy 670 GTX 4Gb (I've seen enough peeps posting that they are def using in excess of 2Gb of their VRAM for their Skyrim mods, so that will be a biggie.)
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February 14, 2013 7:13:10 PM

Hmm are you sure? I dont think ive seen anyone use over 2GB of VRAM on 1080p. Tho Skyrim's mods are pretty intensive.

Oh and btw, are you sure you wanna go with a Nvidia card? Right now i feel like AMD has the best cost/benefit of the market, and their cards are BEAST overclockers, and they re a lot cheaper too! Its up to you, but my recommendation goes to AMD, specially because RIGHT NOW you might only play Skyrim, but we got Crysis 3, FarCry3 and a lot of games coming out, so maybe its worth to think a little bit on the future !

Glad i can help anyways, im working on ur build right now
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February 14, 2013 7:18:37 PM

I'm going with sam. The 7970 drivers are great along with the price/performance. If you go with the GHz edition or the lightning edition, it will most likely be better in skyrim. If you go with the base version, the only difference will be a few FPS.
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February 14, 2013 9:04:10 PM

Skyrim plays like silk on my 7970 with every texture pack I can find, lighting mods, flora mods, etc. Shadows, water, details, everything is set way above "Ultra" settings and I never dip below 60fps or use more than 2.5gb of vram at 1080p.

AMD's recent driver releases have fixed frame latency and DX9 texture flickering, the two main issues some people were experiencing.
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February 14, 2013 9:12:12 PM

LOL... Now you've got me second guessing myself lol... If I could save a pretty penny I'd like to, but I'm trying to keep as much in perspective as I can here...

Let me tell you why I've been trying to avoid an AMD card (though I've still heard it's a good card)
-I hear reports of it crashing out more so in Skyrim (can't be too sure of this though)
-I hear driver support is much later than those of Nvidia (I *think* this could be true, just from the amount of times I've read this, but....)
-when I ask this in other threads, I get a lot of "Go with Nvidia!" posts (though in all fairness, little reason as to why, beyond what I've already listed. Could be fanboi-ism, I know, I just seem to see it A LOT...)

Here's where a lot of where the emphsias on >2Gb of VRAM I've seen has been posted (though I've seen it in other places, I'm just too lazy to dig them all up again, but here is this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=14-162-... Let me be clear here however. I'm listing this not as an argument for or against either card, just to give a peek at what I've been seeing in terms of the importance of a higher VRAM for modding Skyrim and what has factored into my lean towards an Nvidia card. To be perfectly honest, it's the MODS that draw me back to PC gaming the most (for any title I want to play in addition to Skyrim too) vs. the limitations of console gaming, which I've been relegated to more or less for the las ten years or so. So with MODS in mind, it's not just Skyrim I'm after, but other titles as well (I'm referring to Skyrim so much b/c it's the first title I'm drooling over to get my grubby PC paws on, but it is in fact the mods in general that I really really miss about PC gaming, hence my obsession with VRAM.)
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February 14, 2013 9:37:05 PM

Well i finished up on making your build, let me know what you think.

Ah and about your questions:

- The drivers with AMD are fine, specially for the 7900 series. They used to be bad in previous generations but right now, nvidia and amd have good drivers.
- "Go with nvidia" is pretty much a fanboy thing. RIGHT NOW, in the 7000 Series ( against the GTX600 ) AMD is way ahead. Low power consumption, great OC, and the cards run on very low temperatures.
- About the crashes, i cant confirm, or deny, but as "helz IT" said the drivers were fixed.
- Also the GPU i put into this build has 3GB of VRAM so dont worry bout that!
- I didnt put in any microcenter components, since you dont live near one. So if you want to buy everything from the internet, you can just follow the links.


PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($223.79 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($93.99 @ Adorama)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7970 3GB Video Card ($359.99 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Tempest 410 Elite (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 750W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $1142.68
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-14 18:35 EST-0500)
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February 14, 2013 10:53:09 PM

m3dicat3d said:
LOL... Now you've got me second guessing myself lol... If I could save a pretty penny I'd like to, but I'm trying to keep as much in perspective as I can here...


I hear you. Not trying to make you second guess, but nobody had responded to you with a 7970, so I figured I'd chime in. I agree with you about the mods, too. I'm not sure if I've spent more time playing Skyrim or modding it tbh :pt1cable: 

I didn't start playing Skyrim until I built my new PC in December, so I imagine most of the issues that everyone else went through were already ironed out by then. As it is, the only crashes I've suffered have been due to various mod conflicts or more commonly bad .ini tweaks. I eventually broke my first install throwing everything I could find at it and a lot of trial and error, but now have Skyrim running flawlessly with even more mods and config changes than before. BOSS and Skyrim Configurator are my friends.

I was happy with the way Skyrim ran out of the box, but there have been several patches that have improved performance even more since then. If the prices were equal, it'd be a toss up for me, but at $100 less I'd take the 7970 without hesitation.
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February 14, 2013 10:58:31 PM

I'm impressed with this build :D 

I've noticed that the first two vendors for the Radeon are out of stock ATM, but I'm sure that's bound to restock (a good sign perhaps?) I'm about two months or so out from ordering, just started doing my homework extra early here, but just for kicks, what other card manufacturers might you recommend for this chipset?

The case caught my eye too. I love the amount of fan vents in this thing (the top two appear to be able to handle 200mm if I'm not mistaken). Dumb question incoming: the two front fans appear to be in front of the drive bays, which I assume is meant to just provide more cooling in the event you're not using those bays, and I imagine are removable if you decide you want to use them?

The only thing that I could see is off with this build (and this is nit-picky to be sure) is I believe I need the Ripjaws Series X DIMMs to fit with the CM Hyper 212 EVO.

Also, I will in fact need a wireless adapter for the time being anyhow, and was wondering if there was any input for a reliable one someone knows of.

And one last thing...

Sam, are you seriously 14 or is that a typo? If so, I'm impressed! Keep on doing what you're doing, I can't imagine you'd be anything but an incredible success down the road. And if you're 41, well, what the hell I'm still impressed :pt1cable: 

And thanks for the comments Helz IT, especially coming from a PC user that's doing exactly what I pln to be doing as well, your comments are very well appreciated and help set me at ease much more so...
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February 14, 2013 11:13:53 PM

Don't go with powercolor.. Go with Sapphire, MSI or Gigabyte. I've read a lot about powercolors quality control and it's not exactly up to par.

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February 14, 2013 11:15:21 PM

EDIT: just saw seafire's message, hm i always heard that powercolor has some nice cards to be honest. But i do think brands like gigabyte and MSI have some better cards, so if they dont cost A LOT more it might be a good deal to spend those extra dollars.
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Well, first of all, im pretty sure those cards will restock, since they re the new gen cards and usually there is a big demand for those.
The brands i recommend are ( In order ) Sapphire, MSI, Gigabyte, Asus, HIS, XFX (XFX's usually dont have phenomenal coolers but they got some solid cards all around ) .

Oh, and yes the fans are removable if you want to install something on the bays, tho im not even sure you NEED to remove the fans to install something like an ssd for example ( Im not sure since i dont have that particular case )

About the RAM's + Hyper 212 EVO from what i know it depends on how you configure the fan on the Cooler and what DIMMs slots you use. Just in case here is the link for some low profile ram :

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

Also i dont understand a lot about wireless adaptors, so i cant give you a recommendation =(



And yes, im really 14 haha. Im happy to hear you re impressed. I've been using PC's since i was a little kid and i always liked hardware stuff in general. Sadly i live in South America and here everything is 70% more expensive, so i still havent built my own gaming rig. Actually i was going to build a gaming PC for Xmas but im still trying to sell my Xbox ( i dont even know why i bought it anyways ) so i can have the money for it. I did grabbed a GTX650Ti for my old rig so at least i can play some games !

If you have any other questions or something feel free to ask, im no hardware expert but i wanna help. I actually really liked to build that rig haha !
:D 
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February 15, 2013 2:01:30 AM

Ugh... I guess this likely happens to most people on their first build when trying to config, but now I'm stumped again on the GPU. Been reading that the 7970s are pretty much voltage locked now, and from what I've read to this point, the highest I've read anyone OCing this card is 1080 when it's 1000 out of the box. That's concerning me now b/c if I want to OC the card at some pont (and at some point I'm sure I will) that seems like a bit of a factor. I do however like the ~50% higher bus at 384, where as the Nvidias all seem stuck at 256, so that's the turn off their as well. Any thoughts AMD and Nvidia owners? Oh man, this is getting agonizing lol... :cry: 
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February 15, 2013 9:50:50 AM

Well, the 7970 CHIP isnt really 1000MHz, thats the GHz edition of it, factory OC to 1000MHz, tho overclocking depends on luck of getting a good chip, and on a good cooler. The bus will help you with the memory bandwidth of the card, which means its better for running skyrim's mods, since they use a lot of the gpu memory...

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February 15, 2013 2:20:12 PM

Haha, just when I thought I was starting to learn a thing or two :??: 

So what you saying then is that if I'm seeing cards with clocks listed at 1000 MHz in the specs, then that is an already OCed card by the manufacturer? If that's the case, and combined with what I hear about Radeons being great for OCing, this confuses me. I would assume being great for OCing implies that it's great for the end user's OC attempts, and not neccessarily the manufacturer's before they ship it to you.

It's obvious I'm missing something here, what is it exactly?
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February 15, 2013 3:18:47 PM

Well, when i say the 7000 are great for overclocking i mean that the CHIP used on the REFERENCE MODEL cards are great for ocing. With the 7000 series AMD introduced the called GHz Edition, which are pretty much cards that come with a higher stock speed, at 1000MHz ( 1GHz ).

Most brands usually OC their cards on manufacturing because it gives users free extra performance compared to the stock cards, so its a win-win situation for the brand: more performance and obviously a higher price.

So if you buy a factory OC card you will already HAVE an IMPROVEMENT over the STOCK CARD, so if you OC it even more you can have even MORE performance.


I hope i havent made you confuse, that was not my point at all. Just in case , here is a simple explication:

AMD Stock 7970 Chip = Great for ocing
Brands = take the chip and OC it for more performance " out of the box " and more money since OC products are usually a few dollars more expensive.

So a 7970 clocked at 1GHz its like buying a 7970 and manually OC'in it, the difference is : On overclock you void your warranty , so you get more performance and keep your warranty. Obviously you can OC the card even further for more performance. Also factory overclocks are tested and 100% safe, which is definetly a plus.

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February 15, 2013 9:49:57 PM

OK, so this is a case of buying a "pre-overclocked" card so to speak, vs. buying a ref card which you would want to OC yourself, with possibly bad results, and voiding your warranty in the process.

So when I hear get a GHz card, this means get a card that it is factory OCed, and IF you decide you want to roll the dice on OCing it more, you take the chance, but it's not really necessary to since it's been done at the factory and comes with a warranty.

Am I grasping this now?
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February 15, 2013 9:53:23 PM

Yep you got it! I do recommend you get the GHz edition tho, as i said before the 7000 OC like beasts, the performance diference is worth the money, since its only a few dollars more expensive.
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February 16, 2013 2:13:54 AM

Thanks Sam, you've been a real big help to me with this.

I'm stilla couple moths out from ordering (I like to start my homewok early on this kinda stuff) but I'll be back to post more questions as the come up, and when the final build/order happens I'll be sure to update s well :) 
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February 16, 2013 10:24:33 AM

hehe no problems man.

Good luck with your build!
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March 14, 2013 1:12:19 PM

OK, after going through a bit more searching and other boards over the past month, here is the build I'm ready to order a week from now

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JGXp

I wanted to post this here to see if anyone can see if there would be any compatability issues that I can't right now. Every thing seems like it will play nice, but since I received so much excellent input here a month back I wanted to check one last time with your expertise. This build will obviously go beyond 1k and pretty much top me out at the upper end of my price range, but luckily I've been putting in extra hours and savingup for the difference and I feel that this configuration will get me off the ground with plenty of room to grow.

Thanks so much to everyone who helped me out with this :) 
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