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Building a Maingear F131--Need Some Help

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February 25, 2013 2:11:19 PM

Hello, fellow PC fans! This is my first post here on Tom's Hardware. I've encountered this Web site a lot when I've been Googling various questions about what kind of PC and PC hardware I should get. So I figured I might as well head to the source and stop trying to find questions that are similar to mine. Why not just ask my questions to this helpful forum instead to get personalized guidance?

First off, a little bit about myself. I'm 25, looking to go to law school in the next 2 years (currently studying for the LSAT), and I want a top-of-the-line gaming PC that will last me years. Because I work 60+ hours a week at a law firm currently and study for the LSAT in my free time, I have absolutely zero interest in building a PC by myself right now. I'm also somewhat of a novice when it comes to PCs. My current computer (its specs are AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4850 video card) was built several years ago by a friend and coworker. I wanted to go the cheaper and customizable route of having a personally-built PC, but I ended up being frustrated that there wasn't one kind of customer service I could go to if it wasn't working, and because I changed jobs, I stopped being in contact with the person who built it, so I was basically left alone. This made me long for having a pre-built PC from a company that I could actually talk to if I had problems.

Now I'm full aware that I would save tons of money by building this fancy gaming rig I want myself, but I've decided against this option and that's not going to change. Like I said, I work all the time, and if I'm not working, I want to be focusing on studying for the LSAT. I've settled upon Maingear from a few sources, but mostly I was intrigued by CNET's review of it here. I wanted to get an absolutely top-of-the-line computer, but I am only planning to game on one monitor (I decided on this monitor, the Dell U2713HM, 27", extreme-definition monitor, which CNET also sold me on), which I've already ordered and should be in the mail by now. So I don't need 3 video cards or the extremely high-end kind of hardware that, say, a Falcon Northwest Mach V offers. I'm pretty much sold on a Maingear F131 at this point.

What I am not finalized on is the set-up of my rig. I will post a rough list of what I've decided on for my F131 so far, but quite a few things are open to debate. I will post the set-up and then talk about some of my questions below.

By the way, if anyone wants to look at the options on Maingear's Web site for the F131 with a Z77 "chipset", here is the link: https://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/configurePrd.asp?idproduct=1243.

Chassis: chassis-F131m - F131 with VRTX Cooling Technology

Exterior Finish: ext-blackbrushedaluminum - Black Brushed Aluminum

Chassis Modification: mod-acoustipak - AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening

Chassis Modification: fans-silenx-f131-2x120-2x80 - SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm)

Motherboard: mb-asus-maximus-v-gene - Asus® Maximus V Gene Featuring Lucid Virtu MVP, SupremeFX III Sound, CrossFire and SLI

Processor: cpu-intel-i7-3770K - Intel® Core™ i7 3770K 3.5GHz/3.9GHz Turbo 8MB L3 Cache HD 4000

Processor Cooling: cooler-epic120mm - MAINGEAR EPIC 120 Supercooler

MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking Service: redline-turboboost - Intel® Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking

Memory: mem-corsair-CMD8GX3M2A1600C8x2 - 16GB Corsair® Dominator™ Platinum DDR3-1600 Extremely Low Latency 1.5V (4x4GB)Graphics and GP

GPU Accelerator: gpu-2x-evga-04G-P4-3688-BR - 2x EVGA® GeForce™ GTX 680 Classified 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI [ULTIMATE - OC+]

SSD Caching For Faster System Response: caching-corsair-accelerator-60GB - 60GB Corsair® Accelerator™ SSD Caching Drive

Hard Drive Bay One: hdd-seagate-ST2000DM001 - 2TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G

Power Supply: psu-corsair-aX-850 - 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS

Optical Drive One: od-slimline-8x - 8X Dual Layer DVD RW Drive Slot Loading SATA

Optical Drive Two: optical-blu-ray-asus-BW-12D1S-U - 12X Asus® Blu-ray Burner External USB 3.0 with Cyberlink PowerDVD

Audio: asus-xonaressencestx - Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1-channel ONLY PCI-E [AUDIOPHILE]

Ethernet Adapter: nic-onboard - On-board Gigabit EthernetWireless Network Adapter:wireless-killer-1103 - Atheros® Killer™ 1103 802.11n MIMO 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator

Operating System: os-windows8 - Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit

Security Software: security-MSSEssentials - Microsoft Security Essentials


First question: 8 GB RAM or 16 GB? I've read a lot online that one totally doesn't need more than 8 GB to game on, as no games even use this much, but would it be smart to make this thing future-proof and purely top of the line by getting 16 GB? Other things I plan to do with my computer include watching movies (Blu-rays, which is why I'm getting that pricey, $179 second optical drive Blu-ray burner--I can't believe they don't offer that as the first optical drive!!!) and mostly basic tasks, so I will never be doing anything fancy like video editing, programming, or any other sorts of graphic design. But I do want a computer that will last me a long time before I need to upgrade it again, since I will be in law school and very broke.

Secondly, do you think the AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening and Silenx 15dB Fan Package add-ons are worth it? They are about $85 apiece.

Also, should I do the Intel Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking (standard option) or the "Redline Overclock My System!" options? Both are free of charge. I'm assuming the Redline version makes it go even faster? Just don't really know much about this....

I am trying to get my Maingear F131 similar to the CNET review model (although with several changes). On theirs, they said they had two hard drives--the 2TB Seagate Barracuda traditional hard drive, and the 60 GB SSD one. I chose the 60 GB SSD "Caching For Faster System Response" option, but I didn't pick anything for "Hard Drive Bay Two" (there wasn't even a 60 GB SSD option on there). Is this the same thing as what they have in the CNET review right here?

Another question: I'm choosing the Intel Z77 "chipset." I decided on this over the Intel X79 "chipset." If I'm only planning on having at most 2 video cards and gaming on 1 monitor, do you think this is the right move? CNET's review had the Z77 it looks like, and the X79 is so very expensive.... I definitely like the Intel I-7 3770K quad-core processor.

Because I like good sound and also have an expensive pair of Astro A50 headphones, I decided I definitely want a sound card with 7.1 surround sound capabilities. There are only two options for audio: the "Audiophile" option, which is the Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1 channel ONLY PCI-E, and the basic option, which is the Asus SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio. Is that second option the built-in sound card? Is that junk compared to the Xonar Essence? Not really sure what to buy here.

I also have no clue about which kind of wireless network adapter to get. I definitely want a computer with built-in WiFi capability, since my current computer always signs offline whenever the ethernet cord slips out, which is a lot. Here are the options for network adapters (along with prices):

1.) Atheros Killer 1103 802.11n MIMO 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator ($59)
2.) Atheros Killer 1202 802.11n + Bluetooth Wireless Accelerator ($49)
3.) Bigfoot Networks Killers Wireless-N - Ultimate Wireless Network Accelerator! ($49)
4.) Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11n + Bluetooth ($49)
5.) Linksys AE 1000 802.11n Wireless [EXTERNAL USB] ($69)

Should I just get the most expensive wireless adapter (the Linksys one)? I noticed that is external and the others are not.

I went with the most expensive power supply option (although 800W as opposed to 850W is almost $100 cheaper), just because I heard that running two video cards can suck up a lot of power.

One thing I'm actually not completely set on yet, which is a huge deal, is what kind of video card to get. Which is better? Twin GTX 680s or one GTX 690? Or a GTX Titan? I am looking to spend right around that price range and get that kind of card, but I'm not sure which of these to get. Also, I could pay another $100 to get 2 GTX 680 FTW+ 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI w/PhysX's, instead of my current option (2 GTX 680 Classified 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI). Is the only difference there the PhysX? One is a GTX 680 FTW+ and one is a GTX 680 Classified, but the Classifieds are $100 cheaper, which is quite a bit. My only hesitation about buying the GTX 690 is that it is only 4 GB total, although it says it has "3D Vision Surround w/PhysX (as does the GTX Titan). Can the 680s not do 3D? And what is the downside of not having this PhysX? I thought all NVIDIA cards had PhysX? I've heard some people say that there are problems with SLI/dual-cards for beginners. Should I be wary of this? If I don't get the dual 680s, which should I get--the 690 or the Titan?

Another question: What the hell is "RAID"? Here are the options for that (none seem to cost any additional money):

RAID
RAID 0 - Increase and speed up your storage array (requires 2 or more identical drives)

RAID 1 - Data Redundancy and Protection (requires 2, 4, or 6 identical drives)

None (what I have selected now)

At the moment I've decided to keep my old keyboard (which works fine) and my old speakers (which work fine), especially as I will probably be gaming with my Astro A50s on, so that saves me some money. Still, my current set-up is running around $4,000, which is a lot more than the $3,000 that the CNET review model costs (I'm not sure why my costs are so much higher? I guess stuff like the audiophile sound card? Pretty much everything else is the same as the CNET review model).

Definitely decided not to get the Web cam, since they are charging a full $100 for that. I figure I can get a much cheaper one elsewhere.

I'm sorry for pestering you guys with so many questions, but even if no one answers, it helps to get all of my questions out onto writing somewhere so that I can organize my thoughts and research elsewhere if I get no answers here. Anyone who answers is a Godsend! I know this is a lot to take in, but I'm a relative novice when it comes to this stuff, and this seemed like the best site to turn to with my PC needs.

Thank you!

Edward

More about : building maingear f131

February 25, 2013 3:38:44 PM

I'm adding in this info from a sticky on top of the page, so you guys have more information:

Approximate Purchase Date: Next 2 months

Budget Range: $3000-$4000

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, home usage/school usage, watching movies

Are you buying a monitor: No (already bought it--Dell U2713HM)

Parts to Upgrade: Entire PC minus keyboard, mouse (?), and speakers (?)

Do you need to buy OS: Yes (is Windows 8 ideal? If so, what kind?)


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Maingear.com

Location: Washington, DC, USA

Parts Preferences: Would like an Intel CPU, probably an NVIDIA video card (although this isn't necessary). Otherwise, no preferences.

Overclocking: I don't know anything about overclocking.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe (I'd like to know the risks and benefits associated with it)

Your Monitor Resolution: Goes up to 2,560 x 1,440p, so that's what I'd like to game in (hence why I'm willing to drop $1,000+ on video card)

Additional Comments: I want to be able to play the newest games and future games with the highest settings and highest resolution for A LONG TIME TO COME (within my price range, obviously, which is pretty damn high).

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: I have an outdated computer (its specs are AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4850 video card) and I want to play new games!
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February 25, 2013 4:03:33 PM

- 8GB is plenty but if within budget, 16GB is certainly reasonable (however, there's really no appreciable difference between platinum and standard 9-9-9-24 RAM for gaming - save the money)

- if in the budget I'd go with the better accoustics

- if it's free, have them overclock it as long as it's covered under the warranty

- don't bother with the SSD cache - get a real 180GB or bigger SSD as the primary boot/game device - put music/movies/documents on the HDD

- if you need 7.1, don't go with the Xonar if that's the only option - try the onboard and if you hate it, install your own soundcard

- there is going to be a heat problem running two GPUs on that Gene mobo (it's a smaller form factor with hampered airflow to the upper card - would need to periodically go in and manually swap them to keep one from taking the beating all the time) - look for a standard ATX board

- i'd look for a cheaper board that supports SLI/CF - there's a not a lot to be gained from the really expensive boards (and you can't use X79 with a 3770K since you mentioned it - the X79 is for the Sandy Bridge-E and some day Ivy-E)

- don't need more than 850W on the PSU and the price of the Gold or Platinum level doesn't pay for itself (over Bronze) unless you are going to run this at full load 24/7 for years) - inshort, get Bronze if it's cheaper

- wireless is not good for online gaming but if you must, get the $59 killer

- no need for raid in a game rig, especially if you get a nice SSD (840 Pro probably)

- there can be issues with SLI - sometimes takes AMD or nVidia a while to get good drivers for new games but it they come along eventually - just have to be able to put up with the annoyance from time to time

- I'd get a pair of 7970GHz since they have 3GB RAM - enough to drive your display with mods in a game like Skyrim (or a pair of 670s - don't think the price of the 680s is worth the minimal improvement)
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Related resources
February 25, 2013 4:14:35 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- 8GB is plenty but if within budget, 16GB is certainly reasonable (however, there's really no appreciable difference between platinum and standard 9-9-9-24 RAM for gaming - save the money)

- if in the budget I'd go with the better accoustics

- if it's free, have them overclock it as long as it's covered under the warranty

- don't bother with the SSD cache - get a real 180GB or bigger SSD as the primary boot/game device - put music/movies/documents on the HDD

- if you need 7.1, don't go with the Xonar if that's the only option - try the onboard and if you hate it, install your own soundcard

- there is going to be a heat problem running two GPUs on that Gene mobo (it's a smaller form factor with hampered airflow to the upper card - would need to periodically go in and manually swap them to keep one from taking the beating all the time) - look for a standard ATX board

- i'd look for a cheaper board that supports SLI/CF - there's a not a lot to be gained from the really expensive boards (and you can't use X79 with a 3770K since you mentioned it - the X79 is for the Sandy Bridge-E and some day Ivy-E)

- don't need more than 850W on the PSU and the price of the Gold or Platinum level doesn't pay for itself (over Bronze) unless you are going to run this at full load 24/7 for years) - inshort, get Bronze if it's cheaper

- wireless is not good for online gaming but if you must, get the $59 killer

- no need for raid in a game rig, especially if you get a nice SSD (840 Pro probably)

- there can be issues with SLI - sometimes takes AMD or nVidia a while to get good drivers for new games but it they come along eventually - just have to be able to put up with the annoyance from time to time

- I'd get a pair of 7970GHz since they have 3GB RAM - enough to drive your display with mods in a game like Skyrim (or a pair of 670s - don't think the price of the 680s is worth the minimal improvement)


Thanks for the response. I will go in-depth a little more when I get back from the gym, but I'm about to head there.

If you say that running 2 GPUs on that motherboard is going to be a problem, I might switch to a single GPU, like the GTX 690 or the GTX Titan, since that is the only motherboard offered on Maingear.com for the Z77 chipset.

Interesting response about the SSD cache. What's the difference between an SSD cache and a full-size SSD hard drive? I might follow your advice here. Here are the various options for my 2nd hard drive:

512GB Samsung® 840 Pro SSD SATA 6G [540MB/s Reads]

512GB Crucial® M4 SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [500MB/s Reads]

480GB Corsair® Neutron GTX SSD SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [555MB/s Reads]

480GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G w/TRIM [550MB/s Reads]

256GB Samsung® 840 Pro SSD SATA 6G [540MB/s Reads]

256GB Crucial® M4 SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [500MB/s Reads]

240GB Corsair® Neutron GTX SSD SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [555MB/s Reads]

240GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G w/TRIM [550MB/s Reads]

180GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G w/TRIM [550MB/s Reads]

120GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G [550MB/s Reads]

3TB Seagate® Barracuda™ XT 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G

2TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G

2TB Western Digital Caviar Black SATA 6G 7200rpm 64MB Cache

1TB Western Digital VelociRaptor SATA 6G 10,000rpm 64MB Cache

1TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G

1TB Western Digital Caviar Black SATA 6G 7200rpm 64MB Cache

500GB Western Digital VelociRaptor SATA 6G 10,000rpm 64MB Cache


I could get one of the 256GB SSD ones.

I will overclock it then if it's under the warranty.

I will keep the acoustics packages.

The Xonar is the only option other than Asus® SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio. Not sure if that is onboard or not. Why do you think the Xonar Essence isn't good? Just curious.

Here are the processors available, just so you have an idea what my choices are:

Intel® Core™ i7 3770K 3.5GHz/3.9GHz Turbo 8MB L3 Cache HD 4000

Intel® Core™ i7 3770 3.4GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 8MB L3 Cache HD 4000

Intel® Core™ i5 3570K 3.4GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 6MB L3 Cache HD 4000

Intel® Core™ i5 3550 3.3GHz/3.7GHz Turbo 6MB L3 Cache HD 2500

Intel® Core™ i5 3450 3.1GHz/3.5GHz Turbo 6MB L3 Cache HD 2500


All of the memory options on there other than 32GB (way too high) are "Platinum" options.

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February 25, 2013 4:27:45 PM

- the cache is a solution for a cheaper system and is rapidly becoming a leftover from the days when SSD were *very* expensive and smaller - basically the intel chipset just watches your usage habits and copies the most-used files to the SSD for faster access - it's faster than just a HDD but not as fast as a pure SSD (since any miss still has to go be looked up on the HDD) - now that SSDs are much more reasonable, the fastest solution is the entire OS and your most-used games/software on the SSD

- 256GB would be plenty, since from the sound of it you don't have time to play 10+ games at once...

- only reason I'd go with the onboard is you specifically said you wanted 7.1 and the Xonar says it's only 2.1 (targeted at people listening to music)

- I'd go 3770K since hyperthreading in games may take on more importance over the next few yeard

- then platinum it is :) 
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February 26, 2013 7:26:21 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- the cache is a solution for a cheaper system and is rapidly becoming a leftover from the days when SSD were *very* expensive and smaller - basically the intel chipset just watches your usage habits and copies the most-used files to the SSD for faster access - it's faster than just a HDD but not as fast as a pure SSD (since any miss still has to go be looked up on the HDD) - now that SSDs are much more reasonable, the fastest solution is the entire OS and your most-used games/software on the SSD

- 256GB would be plenty, since from the sound of it you don't have time to play 10+ games at once...

- only reason I'd go with the onboard is you specifically said you wanted 7.1 and the Xonar says it's only 2.1 (targeted at people listening to music)

- I'd go 3770K since hyperthreading in games may take on more importance over the next few yeard

- then platinum it is :) 


Thanks for the response! I will definitely spring for the 256GB SSD drive and get rid of the caching option. Very helpful advice. Do you think I should do the Samsung or the Crucial SSD? Or does it not matter? Definitely planning to do the 2TB Barracuda hard drive, since I've heard some bad things about Western Digital (I see one of their options is "Caviar"--what is with the fish obsession and hard drives?! :pt1cable:  ).

I'll definitely get the 3770K, as that's what I was leaning towards anyways.

Don't you think it's crazy that Maingear computers (one of the highest-end boutique PC manufacturers there is) doesn't offer a 7.1 (or at least 5.1!) sound card option for their F131 line? Anyone else think this is crazy? :fou: 

My biggest question remaining is what video card to get. GTX 690 vs. GTX Titan vs. SLI-GTX 680s.... More and more I hear about problems with SLI cards, but I usually see them testing better than both the Titan and 690. What do you think is better? The GTX Titan or the GTX 690? They're identical in pricing on Maingear.
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February 26, 2013 8:44:07 PM

- They're both reliable SSDs, but I'd spring for the Samsung if it's in the budget

- I've had both WD and Seagate drives and no issues with either - there's nothing wrong with getting a HDD as well, but you'd need a lot of games, word docs, and powerpoints to fill up that SSD - now, if you have ripped music you need to store then it's probably a good buy

- Didn't research it but they must feel the onboard audio is really good to not offer 7.1 card - I'd give it a go and see what you think

- The choice of a higher resolution monitor for gaming drives the need for multiple GPUs - don't think there's any way around it - the Titan is good in most titles but not all - this article about says it all"
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-titan-p...
- For BF3 at 1600p either turn down some settings, live with drops to less than 60fps, or get two cards (still think that a pair of 7970s is good since it gives 3GB VRAM) - dual cards stay keep ahead of the pack longer for less - if power draw is a concern tho, the 690 will use less
- Crazy that a 690 can't pull 60fps at 1600p on FC3...
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February 26, 2013 9:06:09 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- They're both reliable SSDs, but I'd spring for the Samsung if it's in the budget

- I've had both WD and Seagate drives and no issues with either - there's nothing wrong with getting a HDD as well, but you'd need a lot of games, word docs, and powerpoints to fill up that SSD - now, if you have ripped music you need to store then it's probably a good buy

- Didn't research it but they must feel the onboard audio is really good to not offer 7.1 card - I'd give it a go and see what you think

- The choice of a higher resolution monitor for gaming drives the need for multiple GPUs - don't think there's any way around it - the Titan is good in most titles but not all - this article about says it all"
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-titan-p...
- For BF3 at 1600p either turn down some settings, live with drops to less than 60fps, or get two cards (still think that a pair of 7970s is good since it gives 3GB VRAM) - dual cards stay keep ahead of the pack longer for less - if power draw is a concern tho, the 690 will use less
- Crazy that a 690 can't pull 60fps at 1600p on FC3...


Yep, I'm planning to get both an SSD and a HDD (two hard drives).

Interesting point about the sound card. I will research the onboard one and see if it offers good sound, and I might get that.

The GTX 690 seemed to rock the BF3 tests in the link you sent. Seems like a better card than the Titan in all honesty, which is surprising considering it came out a while ago.

I see your point about a pair of 7970s being better than a pair of 680s. What's different about the 3GB VRAM that makes the 7970s better than the 680s?

I agree that it's crazy that a $1,000 graphics card can't run a game from almost 2 years ago at above 60 FPS (granted, I will never be playing at that resolution, since I only have 1 27" screen with a max resolution of 1440P). Given that I am only going to have one monitor (at most 2, with the second one being used for other tasks than gaming), I am not sure I need the fanciest graphics card options (definitely don't need 3 cards), but I do want something that can play games like Crysis 3 and Metro 2033 and their equivalents for the next few years at 1440p at close to 60 FPS. Know what I mean?

A pair of 7970s costs $800. Not a bad deal. A pair of GTX Titans is $2,218 (crazy). A pair of GTX 680 Classifieds (do you know the difference between the various brands of GTX cards?) with 8GB total is $1,176 (previously what I was swinging towards). A GTX Titan has apparently lowered in price since I went on here last, dropping to $890 (it's the 6GB version). A 4GB GTX 690 is $990. Just giving you an idea of the price scheme here. Do you think that dual 7970s are better than GTX 680s? Not just price-wise, but in terms of which is objectively more powerful? Is it more powerful than a GTX 690?
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February 26, 2013 9:42:07 PM

- When you SLI or CF you only get the equivalent of one card (since it's duplicated across cards) so still only 4GB - the deal with the 7970s is the memory interface is "wider" than the 670s/680s

- Here are some comparisons:
http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/graphics/39605-nvidia-gef...

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_6...

Here some head to head:
http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/feature-nvidia-geforce-g...

And the CF drivers have improved greatly since that was written.

And I thought you had 1600p not 1440p - a single Titan might be the way to go after all! And you get to say "Look at me e-peen, it's a Titan!"
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February 28, 2013 1:43:04 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- When you SLI or CF you only get the equivalent of one card (since it's duplicated across cards) so still only 4GB - the deal with the 7970s is the memory interface is "wider" than the 670s/680s

- Here are some comparisons:
http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/graphics/39605-nvidia-gef...

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/NVIDIA/GeForce_GTX_6...

Here some head to head:
http://www.hardwarezone.com.sg/feature-nvidia-geforce-g...

And the CF drivers have improved greatly since that was written.

And I thought you had 1600p not 1440p - a single Titan might be the way to go after all! And you get to say "Look at me e-peen, it's a Titan!"


Nope, I only have 1440p (single 27" monitor).

I'm still torn between those video cards. I think I might get a GTX 690 over a Titan, but I am kinda interested in the 7970s since you brought them up. You get the following games for free if you get dual 7970s: BioShock Inifinite, Tomb Raider, Fary Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman Absolution, and Crysis 3. It's kinda hard to turn that down! The NVIDIA equivalent seems to only be "in-game dollars." Who the hell cares about that in comparison to 6 AAA titles?!

Ugh, but I still want whatever is the fastest out of all of these. You seem to think that 7970s work faster than GTX 680s (both in Crossfire/SLI mode). I will read the links you sent in a minute--maybe they will help me sway towards one way.

Also, is an 800W power supply enough? It's either that or 850W, and that one costs almost $100 more.
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February 28, 2013 2:33:12 PM

I must say, at least between the NVIDIA cards, I'm leaning more towards the GTX 690 over the GTX 680 SLI ones. They seem to be very similar, but the GTX 690 is $186 or $283 cheaper than dual-680s (depending upon if I get the FTW+ version with PhysX or the Classified version, which is cheaper--still not really sure about the differences between these 2). Dual GTX 670s is probably the smartest move price-wise, but I think I want a little more performance than that, irregardless of the price. Of course, if I had infinite money, I'd get the 2x NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan 12GB Total GDDR5 in SLI 3D Vision Surround w/PhysX option, which is somewhere around $2,100.

So now, the battle is somewhat between a GTX 690 4GB and dual Radeon HD 7970 6 GB total (although, I could still be sold on the SLI GTX 680s). Do you think the 3GB VRAM memory of the Radeon cards would show any noticeable differences in gameplay?

Still torn on the sound card issue as well. I looked up some info about both the Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1 (the "audiophile" option) and the Asus SupremeFX III card, which is the onboard sound card. The Xonar Essence seems to be primarily a high-quality stereo sound card for listening to music on, although I've heard various people say online that it can play in surround sound as well, through something like a "digital output," whatever that means. The onboard Asus SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio does offer 5.1 sound (sadly, it's not 7.1 sound), so I might swing that way, especially as it's $235 less. Still, like I said, I dropped $300+ on a pair of Astro A50 headphones recently, so I want the best possible sound I can get. Do you think it'd be impossible to take advantage of that surround sound capability with the "audiophile" option--the Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1-channel ONLY PCI-E card ($235)? Why would one make an "audiophile" card that didn't have surround sound capability? I guess there really wouldn't be much of a difference between 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound on headphones (even if they're good ones), considering I'm sure very few games even offer 7.1 sound (same story with Blu-rays).

One thing I'm shocked about is that it costs $179 to even get Blu-ray capability on a Maingear "supercomputer." Why wouldn't a BR drive be the main optical disk option on this computer? Is there really anything to lose? I'd expect nothing less if you're paying over three-grand for a computer. But the optical drive one option is only the 8X Dual Layer DVD RW Drive Slot Loading SATA. The second drive, which is optional, is the 12X ASUS Blu-ray Burner External USB 3.0 with Cyberlink PowerDVD. I've decided I want that, since of course I want to watch some Blu-rays on my nice 27", extreme-definition monitor.

Still not sure if I should get new speakers and a new mouse and keyboard or not. Do things like the mouse and keyboard even really matter? I've never really had a problem with my current keyboard. I can't imagine what a nicer one would really do different.

I have solid speakers. It's a 2.1-setup with a subwoofer. Don't really want to take the effort to set up surround speakers for my PC, since it's already in the same room as my TV and the surround speakers of that. Plus, like I said, it'd be fun to play with headphones.

So you said no RAID, right? It is free, though, so keep that in mind. The options are RAID 0 - Increase and speed up your storage array (requires 2 or more identical drives) AND RAID 1 - Data Redundancy and Protection (requires 2, 4, or 6 identical drives).
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February 28, 2013 3:10:24 PM

- think if you played skyrim with lots of texture packs you could make use of the 3gb vram, 4 seems a little overkill - plus, if those are games you'd play anyway that's $300 worth

- no idea if you can tell 5.1 from 7.1 with headphones but for me it wouldn't be a deal breaker - like I said, you can always add the sound card of your choice later for a lot less if you hate it

- there is a move away from physical media like BR disks so that might be their thinking - still too steep a price tho - again, could buy your own for $60-70 and install it in a few minutes - I'm not down with watching BR on a screen that small but of course that's personal taste and living circumstances

- if you are happy with your peripherals no point in replacing them - I did trade up from a standard optical mouse to a Razer Imperator tho and like it for switching between DPIs on the fly in BF3 (lower for sniping, higher for everthing else)

- a single 256gb ssd will be blazingly fast - two drives in raid0 will be... blazingly fast - it's up to you, but for me the risk of losing the entire array if something goes wrong with either drive is not worth the very small every day difference - I'm standing around waiting for the start timer to tick down in BF3 and I have an "old" sata2 ssd

- raid1 you only have the capacity of one drive since it's mirrored - nice to have from an availability standpoint but costly in terms of lost storage space and it still doesn't replace the need to back up the array to another drive (I keep docs, photos, etc on a raid1 hdd array and back up to an external drive weekly or after major changes - have it set to add new items but not delete anything from the backup since that helps prevent accidental deletions being replicated to the external)
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February 28, 2013 4:27:55 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- think if you played skyrim with lots of texture packs you could make use of the 3gb vram, 4 seems a little overkill - plus, if those are games you'd play anyway that's $300 worth

- no idea if you can tell 5.1 from 7.1 with headphones but for me it wouldn't be a deal breaker - like I said, you can always add the sound card of your choice later for a lot less if you hate it

- there is a move away from physical media like BR disks so that might be their thinking - still too steep a price tho - again, could buy your own for $60-70 and install it in a few minutes - I'm not down with watching BR on a screen that small but of course that's personal taste and living circumstances

- if you are happy with your peripherals no point in replacing them - I did trade up from a standard optical mouse to a Razer Imperator tho and like it for switching between DPIs on the fly in BF3 (lower for sniping, higher for everthing else)

- a single 256gb ssd will be blazingly fast - two drives in raid0 will be... blazingly fast - it's up to you, but for me the risk of losing the entire array if something goes wrong with either drive is not worth the very small every day difference - I'm standing around waiting for the start timer to tick down in BF3 and I have an "old" sata2 ssd

- raid1 you only have the capacity of one drive since it's mirrored - nice to have from an availability standpoint but costly in terms of lost storage space and it still doesn't replace the need to back up the array to another drive (I keep docs, photos, etc on a raid1 hdd array and back up to an external drive weekly or after major changes - have it set to add new items but not delete anything from the backup since that helps prevent accidental deletions being replicated to the external)


Thanks for all your detailed responses, by the way. You're going a long way towards shaping my final purchase. I'm glad you are so quick with your responses.

Yes, those are definitely games I want, all 6 of them. What has the 4 GB VRAM that you mentioned? Is that a reference to NVIDIA cards?

Would it be hard to install a BR drive myself? I honestly might just get the BR drive, because I'll never want to install a BR player myself. So I might just settle with that. I, for one, am not happy with the turn away from physical media, but I know I'm in the minority there. I still own hundreds of music CDs myself.

Is 800W a big enough power supply for this computer? Like I said, it's either that or the $87 more expensive 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS (the current one I have is: 800W Corsair® Gamer Series 80 Plus Certified PSU ).

For the RAID option, don't you have to have 2 identical hard drives? I'm getting the 256GB SSD and then the 2TB HDD, so I'm assuming RAID wouldn't even work for me? Wooh, this RAID stuff is starting to confuse me again. I should probably just stick with "None."

Here are the mice options:

Logitech M110 Optical USB Mouse

Logitech® G9x Laser Mouse

Logitech® Gaming Mouse G500

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 9 Wireless Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 7 Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 5 Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 3 Gaming Mouse

Logitech® G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse

Logitech® G400 Gaming Mouse

Logitech® T650 Windows 8 Touchpad

Microsoft® Touch Mouse (Recommended for Windows 8)

Microsoft® Wireless Mouse 2000

Anything stand out?


Here are the keyboard options:


Cyborg® S.T.R.I.K.E. 7

Logitech Classic K120 Keyboard

Cyborg® V.5 Gaming Keyboard

Corsair® Vengeance K90 Gaming Keyboard (Cherry® MX Red mechanical keys)

Corsair® Vengeance K60 FPS Gaming Keyboard (Cherry® MX Red mechanical keys)

Logitech® Gaming Keyboard G510

Logitech® Illuminated Keyboard

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February 28, 2013 4:34:21 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- think if you played skyrim with lots of texture packs you could make use of the 3gb vram, 4 seems a little overkill - plus, if those are games you'd play anyway that's $300 worth

- no idea if you can tell 5.1 from 7.1 with headphones but for me it wouldn't be a deal breaker - like I said, you can always add the sound card of your choice later for a lot less if you hate it

- there is a move away from physical media like BR disks so that might be their thinking - still too steep a price tho - again, could buy your own for $60-70 and install it in a few minutes - I'm not down with watching BR on a screen that small but of course that's personal taste and living circumstances

- if you are happy with your peripherals no point in replacing them - I did trade up from a standard optical mouse to a Razer Imperator tho and like it for switching between DPIs on the fly in BF3 (lower for sniping, higher for everthing else)

- a single 256gb ssd will be blazingly fast - two drives in raid0 will be... blazingly fast - it's up to you, but for me the risk of losing the entire array if something goes wrong with either drive is not worth the very small every day difference - I'm standing around waiting for the start timer to tick down in BF3 and I have an "old" sata2 ssd

- raid1 you only have the capacity of one drive since it's mirrored - nice to have from an availability standpoint but costly in terms of lost storage space and it still doesn't replace the need to back up the array to another drive (I keep docs, photos, etc on a raid1 hdd array and back up to an external drive weekly or after major changes - have it set to add new items but not delete anything from the backup since that helps prevent accidental deletions being replicated to the external)


Thanks for all your detailed responses, by the way. You're going a long way towards shaping my final purchase. I'm glad you are so quick with your responses.

Yes, those are definitely games I want, all 6 of them. What has the 4 GB VRAM that you mentioned? Is that a reference to NVIDIA cards?

Would it be hard to install a BR drive myself? I honestly might just get the BR drive, because I'll never want to install a BR player myself. So I might just settle with that. I, for one, am not happy with the turn away from physical media, but I know I'm in the minority there. I still own hundreds of music CDs myself.

Is 800W a big enough power supply for this computer? Like I said, it's either that or the $87 more expensive 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS (the current one I have is: 800W Corsair® Gamer Series 80 Plus Certified PSU ).

For the RAID option, don't you have to have 2 identical hard drives? I'm getting the 256GB SSD and then the 2TB HDD, so I'm assuming RAID wouldn't even work for me? Wooh, this RAID stuff is starting to confuse me again. I should probably just stick with "None."

Here are the mice options:

Logitech M110 Optical USB Mouse

Logitech® G9x Laser Mouse

Logitech® Gaming Mouse G500

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 9 Wireless Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 7 Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 5 Adjustable Gaming Mouse

MadCatz® Cyborg® R.A.T. 3 Gaming Mouse

Logitech® G700 Wireless Gaming Mouse

Logitech® G400 Gaming Mouse

Logitech® T650 Windows 8 Touchpad

Microsoft® Touch Mouse (Recommended for Windows 8)

Microsoft® Wireless Mouse 2000

Anything stand out?


Here are the keyboard options:


Cyborg® S.T.R.I.K.E. 7

Logitech Classic K120 Keyboard

Cyborg® V.5 Gaming Keyboard

Corsair® Vengeance K90 Gaming Keyboard (Cherry® MX Red mechanical keys)

Corsair® Vengeance K60 FPS Gaming Keyboard (Cherry® MX Red mechanical keys)

Logitech® Gaming Keyboard G510

Logitech® Illuminated Keyboard

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February 28, 2013 4:57:50 PM

- my bad the 690 4GB actually only has 2GB usable just like two SLI 2GB cards, so the 7970 3GBs will actually have more available vram - but, the 7970s will use more power and generate more heat

- power off, open side and front of case, slide BR drive into open slot, click or screw it in place, connect two cables, boot, windows installs driver, done - I'm thinking the high cost of the drive is coming from the BR player software bundled in to make it work - you might have to buy player software if you do it yourself anyway...

- 800W is plenty

- yep you need identical drives for raid

- you'd have to check reviews of the peripherals - no experience with those

- don't forget to make a system image (acronis, easus todo, or win 7's built in option) first thing if they don't send disks - would hope for the amount this will cost they do

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February 28, 2013 5:25:59 PM

Here's another option - just get a $100 standalone BR player on sale somewhere and watch it on your monitor (TV, whatever) via HDMI - it would be quieter, draw less power, and is more portable - also cheaper than the Maingear solution and about the same price as getting a drive from newegg and having to buy the CyberLink software ($50) to make it work
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February 28, 2013 11:12:09 PM

I could've sworn I answered this already (and it was a long answer), but I don't see it on here. Well, I've been at work (again) for 12 hours, so I'm a little too exhausted to write a full post right now, but let me simplify it to the few things I can remember from my other post that were important.

Should I get Windows 8? If so, what kind of Windows 8? Pro? Other kinds? I'm thinking I should probably get the newest kind of Windows. I'm going to get the Microsoft Security Essentials option, since it's free.

16 GB DDR-1600 RAM. Is DDR-1600 okay, or do I need a "higher latency" or whatever that is?

Thanks again so much for your help, Jed! (Obviously anyone else can chip in if they want, but they don't seem to want to.)

This is how I feel right now from work: :heink: 
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March 1, 2013 12:15:33 AM

- may as well go with win 8 pro and if you miss the start button can install start8 or startisback

- 16gb of 1600mhz is fine - timings should be 9-9-9-24 or lower (8gb is plenty if u want to cut it down some)

- any time! Suprised no one else is weighing in
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March 1, 2013 12:27:00 AM

I'm surprised, too! Maybe people don't like Maingear?

After reading lots of stuff online tonight, I've decided I'm settling on the most expensive (almost, not quite as expensive as SLI GTX 680 FTW+) option, which is SLI GTX 680 Classified 8GB total (4GB per card). That extra 2GB per card over the GTX 690 is what lured me in, plus reading about how hot and non-efficient and prone to non-smoothness the Crossfire 7970s are (I'm sure they're great cards, but I've ultimately decided on the GTX 680 Classified SLI).

Need to figure out a few more things tomorrow. I will post them then. Almost finalized on this computer!
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March 1, 2013 9:30:29 PM

Random, dumb questions. Is it worth it getting "productivity software" from the Maingear site? It costs $100 for a Office 365 Home Subscription, and more for Office Home & Student and Home & Business (I think I can get MS Office for cheaper through my work, so I should probably do that).

You had said earlier that Wi-Fi is bad for gaming. I don't need either of these to use plug into the Internet/ethernet, do I?

Asoka Powerline Networking and Accessories
A minimum of two Asoka Powerline Ethernet Adapters are required for creating a powerline network.
Asoka® 500mbps Powerline Ethernet Adapter with pass-through plug $89.00
Asoka® Portable 300Mbps Wireless-N Repeater (PL9561-WNR) $89.00

It says the computer comes with an "On-board Gigabit Ethernet" adapter, which I'm assuming is just the ethernet plug so I can plug into my home Internet (directly into the modem, instead of through WiFi)?

I'm going to get the 800W Corsair Gamer Series 80 Plus Certified PSU. I hope this is enough to support the SLI GTX 680 Classified 8GB total set-up. From what I've read, Classified is even better than FTW+, so it's amazing that it's cheaper!

Guess I'll go with the Redline Overclock My System! option as well.

And I kinda want both of these:

Chassis Modification
AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening $89.00
SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm) $69.00

That's pretty much finalized it after these things. All I need to do now is save up the money (I already have enough, but I want to have a little bit more of a cushion after I buy it) and purchase the thing. Hopefully it won't distract me too much from my LSAT studying in the next few months. I got my Dell U2713HM 1,440p monitor in the mail yesterday. Haven't opened it yet, but I might just keep it wrapped up till I get my new Maingear F131.

Anyone else who wants to weigh in on this set-up, be my guest. I'm still open to suggestions. :hello: 
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March 1, 2013 10:27:08 PM

- better to get Office through work if offered

- if your PC is within reach of an ethernet cable off the modem or router that is the best way to go (thought you were getting wifi because you were not near a cable)

- 800 is more than enough for two of those cards plus an overclocked CPU

- congrats :) 
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March 1, 2013 11:56:13 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- better to get Office through work if offered

- if your PC is within reach of an ethernet cable off the modem or router that is the best way to go (thought you were getting wifi because you were not near a cable)

- 800 is more than enough for two of those cards plus an overclocked CPU

- congrats :) 


I'm borderline far away from my modem, which is why it's a little easier to do WiFi, but I currently do run an ethernet cord to this computer--it just gets unplugged a lot (I have cats, and this crappy ethernet cord always comes undone way too easily).

Oh well, I'm off to play the Black Snow mod. I love horror, so I read a review that there was a free horror mod in PC Gamer, and I thought, Why not play it? I'll report back on how good it is.
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March 5, 2013 5:07:07 PM

J_E_D_70 said:
- may as well go with win 8 pro and if you miss the start button can install start8 or startisback

- 16gb of 1600mhz is fine - timings should be 9-9-9-24 or lower (8gb is plenty if u want to cut it down some)

- any time! Suprised no one else is weighing in


I'm a little confused by the Windows 8 Pro comment here? Does Windows 8 Pro really not have a Start button? Does Windows 8 (non-Pro) have it? You think I should spend the extra $50 to get Pro instead of normal Windows 8 (free)?

I remember before out of this list:

Wireless Network Adapter
Atheros® Killer™ 1103 802.11n MIMO 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator $59.00

Atheros® Killer™ 1202 802.11n + Bluetooth Wireless Accelerator $49.00

Bigfoot Networks® Killer™ Wireless-N - Ultimate Wireless Network Accelerator! $49.00

Intel® Centrino™ Advanced-N 6230 802.11n + Bluetooth $49.000

Linksys® AE1000 802.11n Wireless [EXTERNAL USB] $49.00

None

You chose the top one (the Atheros Killer 1103 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator). Did you have any reasons for this? Is it considered the best? Any reason why the Linksys one is the most expensive? Is that because it's an external USB thing? Is that better?

Also, I'm guessing I don't need "Asoka Powerline networking and Accessories." It says that a minimum of two ethernet adapters are necessary for "creating a powerline network." No clue what that means....

I was SO close to pulling the trigger and ordering my computer yesterday. It's just SO expensive. The dual-GTX 680 4GB Classifieds are the killer item, price-wise.
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March 5, 2013 6:07:26 PM

The only big things Pro has over standard is Bitlocker encryption, remote desktop, and ability to join a corporate domain so pass if that doesn't interest you. Not even sure why I said Pro now...

Same goes for the Killer, but I think I was going for the 3-antenna thing and if you have to use wireless may as well go big (Tom's had a review and said it works well). About that, and your cable coming loose, could you run a new cable (sounds like the latch is broken) and shove it under baseboards to get it away from the cats? (Not sure on your Linksys question)

If you are going to go wireless or go wired with a long cable, you don't need powerline. If you went powerline, you'd go Cat5 cable from your router to the first powerline adapter, then Cat5 cable from the second powerline adapter to your PC's Ethernet jack. I just runs the signal over your home's electrical system. Can't plug them into an UPS or surge supressor, has to go straight into the wall. It's still a newer tech but some of the 500Mb-rated units are getting good reviews. Have not tried it yet.
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March 10, 2013 5:18:40 AM

echamberlin8 said:
Hello, fellow PC fans! This is my first post here on Tom's Hardware. I've encountered this Web site a lot when I've been Googling various questions about what kind of PC and PC hardware I should get. So I figured I might as well head to the source and stop trying to find questions that are similar to mine. Why not just ask my questions to this helpful forum instead to get personalized guidance?

First off, a little bit about myself. I'm 25, looking to go to law school in the next 2 years (currently studying for the LSAT), and I want a top-of-the-line gaming PC that will last me years. Because I work 60+ hours a week at a law firm currently and study for the LSAT in my free time, I have absolutely zero interest in building a PC by myself right now. I'm also somewhat of a novice when it comes to PCs. My current computer (its specs are AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor, 4GB RAM, ATI Radeon HD 4850 video card) was built several years ago by a friend and coworker. I wanted to go the cheaper and customizable route of having a personally-built PC, but I ended up being frustrated that there wasn't one kind of customer service I could go to if it wasn't working, and because I changed jobs, I stopped being in contact with the person who built it, so I was basically left alone. This made me long for having a pre-built PC from a company that I could actually talk to if I had problems.

Now I'm full aware that I would save tons of money by building this fancy gaming rig I want myself, but I've decided against this option and that's not going to change. Like I said, I work all the time, and if I'm not working, I want to be focusing on studying for the LSAT. I've settled upon Maingear from a few sources, but mostly I was intrigued by CNET's review of it here. I wanted to get an absolutely top-of-the-line computer, but I am only planning to game on one monitor (I decided on this monitor, the Dell U2713HM, 27", extreme-definition monitor, which CNET also sold me on), which I've already ordered and should be in the mail by now. So I don't need 3 video cards or the extremely high-end kind of hardware that, say, a Falcon Northwest Mach V offers. I'm pretty much sold on a Maingear F131 at this point.

What I am not finalized on is the set-up of my rig. I will post a rough list of what I've decided on for my F131 so far, but quite a few things are open to debate. I will post the set-up and then talk about some of my questions below.

By the way, if anyone wants to look at the options on Maingear's Web site for the F131 with a Z77 "chipset", here is the link: https://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/configurePrd.asp?idproduct=1243.

Chassis: chassis-F131m - F131 with VRTX Cooling Technology

Exterior Finish: ext-blackbrushedaluminum - Black Brushed Aluminum

Chassis Modification: mod-acoustipak - AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening

Chassis Modification: fans-silenx-f131-2x120-2x80 - SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm)

Motherboard: mb-asus-maximus-v-gene - Asus® Maximus V Gene Featuring Lucid Virtu MVP, SupremeFX III Sound, CrossFire and SLI

Processor: cpu-intel-i7-3770K - Intel® Core™ i7 3770K 3.5GHz/3.9GHz Turbo 8MB L3 Cache HD 4000

Processor Cooling: cooler-epic120mm - MAINGEAR EPIC 120 Supercooler

MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking Service: redline-turboboost - Intel® Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking

Memory: mem-corsair-CMD8GX3M2A1600C8x2 - 16GB Corsair® Dominator™ Platinum DDR3-1600 Extremely Low Latency 1.5V (4x4GB)Graphics and GP

GPU Accelerator: gpu-2x-evga-04G-P4-3688-BR - 2x EVGA® GeForce™ GTX 680 Classified 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI [ULTIMATE - OC+]

SSD Caching For Faster System Response: caching-corsair-accelerator-60GB - 60GB Corsair® Accelerator™ SSD Caching Drive

Hard Drive Bay One: hdd-seagate-ST2000DM001 - 2TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G

Power Supply: psu-corsair-aX-850 - 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS

Optical Drive One: od-slimline-8x - 8X Dual Layer DVD RW Drive Slot Loading SATA

Optical Drive Two: optical-blu-ray-asus-BW-12D1S-U - 12X Asus® Blu-ray Burner External USB 3.0 with Cyberlink PowerDVD

Audio: asus-xonaressencestx - Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1-channel ONLY PCI-E [AUDIOPHILE]

Ethernet Adapter: nic-onboard - On-board Gigabit EthernetWireless Network Adapter:wireless-killer-1103 - Atheros® Killer™ 1103 802.11n MIMO 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator

Operating System: os-windows8 - Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit

Security Software: security-MSSEssentials - Microsoft Security Essentials


First question: 8 GB RAM or 16 GB? I've read a lot online that one totally doesn't need more than 8 GB to game on, as no games even use this much, but would it be smart to make this thing future-proof and purely top of the line by getting 16 GB? Other things I plan to do with my computer include watching movies (Blu-rays, which is why I'm getting that pricey, $179 second optical drive Blu-ray burner--I can't believe they don't offer that as the first optical drive!!!) and mostly basic tasks, so I will never be doing anything fancy like video editing, programming, or any other sorts of graphic design. But I do want a computer that will last me a long time before I need to upgrade it again, since I will be in law school and very broke.

Secondly, do you think the AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening and Silenx 15dB Fan Package add-ons are worth it? They are about $85 apiece.

Also, should I do the Intel Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking (standard option) or the "Redline Overclock My System!" options? Both are free of charge. I'm assuming the Redline version makes it go even faster? Just don't really know much about this....

I am trying to get my Maingear F131 similar to the CNET review model (although with several changes). On theirs, they said they had two hard drives--the 2TB Seagate Barracuda traditional hard drive, and the 60 GB SSD one. I chose the 60 GB SSD "Caching For Faster System Response" option, but I didn't pick anything for "Hard Drive Bay Two" (there wasn't even a 60 GB SSD option on there). Is this the same thing as what they have in the CNET review right here?

Another question: I'm choosing the Intel Z77 "chipset." I decided on this over the Intel X79 "chipset." If I'm only planning on having at most 2 video cards and gaming on 1 monitor, do you think this is the right move? CNET's review had the Z77 it looks like, and the X79 is so very expensive.... I definitely like the Intel I-7 3770K quad-core processor.

Because I like good sound and also have an expensive pair of Astro A50 headphones, I decided I definitely want a sound card with 7.1 surround sound capabilities. There are only two options for audio: the "Audiophile" option, which is the Asus Xonar Essence STX 2.1 channel ONLY PCI-E, and the basic option, which is the Asus SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio. Is that second option the built-in sound card? Is that junk compared to the Xonar Essence? Not really sure what to buy here.

I also have no clue about which kind of wireless network adapter to get. I definitely want a computer with built-in WiFi capability, since my current computer always signs offline whenever the ethernet cord slips out, which is a lot. Here are the options for network adapters (along with prices):

1.) Atheros Killer 1103 802.11n MIMO 3-Antenna Wireless Accelerator ($59)
2.) Atheros Killer 1202 802.11n + Bluetooth Wireless Accelerator ($49)
3.) Bigfoot Networks Killers Wireless-N - Ultimate Wireless Network Accelerator! ($49)
4.) Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 802.11n + Bluetooth ($49)
5.) Linksys AE 1000 802.11n Wireless [EXTERNAL USB] ($69)

Should I just get the most expensive wireless adapter (the Linksys one)? I noticed that is external and the others are not.

I went with the most expensive power supply option (although 800W as opposed to 850W is almost $100 cheaper), just because I heard that running two video cards can suck up a lot of power.

One thing I'm actually not completely set on yet, which is a huge deal, is what kind of video card to get. Which is better? Twin GTX 680s or one GTX 690? Or a GTX Titan? I am looking to spend right around that price range and get that kind of card, but I'm not sure which of these to get. Also, I could pay another $100 to get 2 GTX 680 FTW+ 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI w/PhysX's, instead of my current option (2 GTX 680 Classified 8GB Total GDDR5 in SLI). Is the only difference there the PhysX? One is a GTX 680 FTW+ and one is a GTX 680 Classified, but the Classifieds are $100 cheaper, which is quite a bit. My only hesitation about buying the GTX 690 is that it is only 4 GB total, although it says it has "3D Vision Surround w/PhysX (as does the GTX Titan). Can the 680s not do 3D? And what is the downside of not having this PhysX? I thought all NVIDIA cards had PhysX? I've heard some people say that there are problems with SLI/dual-cards for beginners. Should I be wary of this? If I don't get the dual 680s, which should I get--the 690 or the Titan?

Another question: What the hell is "RAID"? Here are the options for that (none seem to cost any additional money):

RAID
RAID 0 - Increase and speed up your storage array (requires 2 or more identical drives)

RAID 1 - Data Redundancy and Protection (requires 2, 4, or 6 identical drives)

None (what I have selected now)

At the moment I've decided to keep my old keyboard (which works fine) and my old speakers (which work fine), especially as I will probably be gaming with my Astro A50s on, so that saves me some money. Still, my current set-up is running around $4,000, which is a lot more than the $3,000 that the CNET review model costs (I'm not sure why my costs are so much higher? I guess stuff like the audiophile sound card? Pretty much everything else is the same as the CNET review model).

Definitely decided not to get the Web cam, since they are charging a full $100 for that. I figure I can get a much cheaper one elsewhere.

I'm sorry for pestering you guys with so many questions, but even if no one answers, it helps to get all of my questions out onto writing somewhere so that I can organize my thoughts and research elsewhere if I get no answers here. Anyone who answers is a Godsend! I know this is a lot to take in, but I'm a relative novice when it comes to this stuff, and this seemed like the best site to turn to with my PC needs.

Thank you!

Edward


I did a Google search regarding the F131 and saw this post on Tom's Hardware pop up on the first page. So here I am!

My background, I built a gaming rig from Micro Center back in April 2008:

* Processor: i7 920
* Mobo: ASUS Rampage Extreme
* Graphics Cards: 2 x Nvidia GTX 260 SC (Upgraded to 2 x Nvidia GTX 550 Ti since then)
* PSU: 850W Black Widow
* Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM (Upgraded to 16GB since then)

I just ordered my F131 and should be receiving it by the end of the month:

ORDER DETAILS
======================================================================
PRODUCT: F131 Super Stock [X79]
PRICE: $2,234.00

* Exterior Finish: Black Brushed Aluminum - Included
* Chassis Modification: AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound - $89.00
* Dampening Chassis Modification: Silent X 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm) - $69.00
* M.A.R.C. Laser Engraving - N/A
* Processor: Intel® CoreT i7 3930K - $418.00
* Overclocking: Intel® Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking - Included
* Memory: 16GB Corsair® Dominator Platinum DDR3-1600 1.5V (4x4GB) - $107.00
* Graphics and GPGPU Accelerator: 2x EVGA® GeForce GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 6GB Total GDDR5 in SLI - $564.00
* Hard Drive Bay One: 240GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G w/TRIM [550MB/s Reads] - $191.00
* Hard Drive Bay Two: 3TB Seagate® BarracudaT XT 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G - $85.00
* Power Supply: 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS - $93.00
* Optical Drive One: 8X Dual Layer DVD RW Drive - Included
* Audio: Asus® SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio - Included
* Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit - Included

Subtotal: $3,850.00

======================================================================

My biggest challenge for this build was weighing the options between the 3770K vs. 3930K (there's tons of posts regarding this topic). I opt'd for the 3930K (hex-core) because the 3770K is the end of the line for quad-core (unless you count the 3820K but that processor uses the X79 and not Z77 mobo). I reasoned: If I'm going to spend between $3-4K, I might as well spend an extra $600 and future-proof to the best of my ability without going crazy and staying below $4K.

Currently, I have 3 x 24" monitors so having an SLI set up is necessary but I also knew that I wanted to OC my system and from what I've read, doing it with the 3930K will make it easier and safer than the 3770K.

I opt'd for the sound proofing and silent fans because from what I've read the system can be noisy and from what other customers and other review sites have claimed, the extra noise absorbing material plus quieter fans does make a difference. My current system is relatively loud with over 10 fans (no liquid cooling) and I would like to enjoy gaming without having the extra noise. Yes, I could've done it myself and probably saved a few bucks but I'm lazy and don't feel like messing with glue and since professionals are building--why not? For an extra $160, it'll be worth it from where I stand.

16GB is plenty of RAM for me, going 32GB is insane and 8GB is not enough.

For video cards, I went with the 2 x EVGA GTX 660 Ti FTW (6GB) (best middle-of-the-road option), could've have gone with 2 x Titans but from past experience, getting the top-of-the-line video cards makes little to no sense, considering that by next year there'll be a new generation of video cards that will out class it anyway. I can always upgrade cards down the road and that's what I plan to do but two 660s will hold me over comfortably for the next couple years before upgrading.

For audio out-put I could care less, I put away my desktop speakers a long time ago and use a USB wireless gaming 7.1 headset so that's a moot point in my book.

Already have a gaming keyboard and mouse, no need to buy.

Not concerned about having a Blu-ray drive, I have a 52" HDTV with a 5.1 surround sound system--no need for watching it on a gaming desktop PC.

The 240GB SSD was the best value for size vs. money. I have no plans to RAID my HDD or buy a SSD to replace it for now (perhaps when the price comes down, I'll transfer everything off but at the moment, I don't see that happening for awhile).

Regards to the PSU, for an extra $100, why not--it's certified and more power is better for more stable rig when OCing.

For the OS, I went with Windows 8 64-bit and not the Windows 8 64-bit Pro since I have no intentions in ever using any of the features of the pro-version.

Having said all of this...

If you do decide to go with the 3770K for the processor, I would strongly encourage you look at the Maingear X-Cube. And here's why:

http://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/configurePrd.asp?id...

You automatically get $100 off (not a big deal but every dollar counts) and it's free S&H for $2,500 or more.

Comes with a different mobo (for form factor) but has the same processor, 3770K.

Using the same specs that I choose for my F131 on the X-Cube (Super Stock):

Default price: $1,365.00

* Processor: 3770K - $191.00
* Memory: 16GB (Dominator platinum) - $160.00
* Graphics Card: 2 x MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition (4GB) - $397.00 (You can buy the 2 x Titans but obviously the price would go way up)
* Hard Drive Bay One: 240GB Intel 520 - $245.00
* Hard Drive Bay Two: 3TB Seagate Barracuda - $185.00 (You could by this yourself for cheaper price)
* PSU: 850W - $131.00
* RAID: N/A
* Optical Drive: N/A
* Audio: N/A

Upgrades: $1,209.00

Subtotal (minus S&H): $2,574.00 (shipping is free since it's over $2,500)

If I was in your shoes and I knew I was gonna go with the 3770K, I'd go with the X-Cube and save a huge chunk of change. I did a similar build comparing the price of an F131 3770K build vs F131 3930K build, it came out to ~$600 difference. However, comparing the F131 3770K build $3,800+ vs X-Cube 3770K build $2,500+ that's a ~$1,300 difference in price.

From a financial investment perspective, consider the two options.

Best of luck and don't lose any sleep, material things can be replaced.
m
0
l
March 10, 2013 7:45:45 PM

MightyTiki said:
I did a Google search regarding the F131 and saw this post on Tom's Hardware pop up on the first page. So here I am!

My background, I built a gaming rig from Micro Center back in April 2008:

* Processor: i7 920
* Mobo: ASUS Rampage Extreme
* Graphics Cards: 2 x Nvidia GTX 260 SC (Upgraded to 2 x Nvidia GTX 550 Ti since then)
* PSU: 850W Black Widow
* Memory: 8GB DDR3 RAM (Upgraded to 16GB since then)

I just ordered my F131 and should be receiving it by the end of the month:

ORDER DETAILS
======================================================================
PRODUCT: F131 Super Stock [X79]
PRICE: $2,234.00

* Exterior Finish: Black Brushed Aluminum - Included
* Chassis Modification: AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound - $89.00
* Dampening Chassis Modification: Silent X 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm) - $69.00
* M.A.R.C. Laser Engraving - N/A
* Processor: Intel® CoreT i7 3930K - $418.00
* Overclocking: Intel® Turbo Boost Advanced Automatic Overclocking - Included
* Memory: 16GB Corsair® Dominator Platinum DDR3-1600 1.5V (4x4GB) - $107.00
* Graphics and GPGPU Accelerator: 2x EVGA® GeForce GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 6GB Total GDDR5 in SLI - $564.00
* Hard Drive Bay One: 240GB Intel® 520 Series SSD SATA 6G w/TRIM [550MB/s Reads] - $191.00
* Hard Drive Bay Two: 3TB Seagate® BarracudaT XT 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G - $85.00
* Power Supply: 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS - $93.00
* Optical Drive One: 8X Dual Layer DVD RW Drive - Included
* Audio: Asus® SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio - Included
* Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit - Included

Subtotal: $3,850.00

======================================================================

My biggest challenge for this build was weighing the options between the 3770K vs. 3930K (there's tons of posts regarding this topic). I opt'd for the 3930K (hex-core) because the 3770K is the end of the line for quad-core (unless you count the 3820K but that processor uses the X79 and not Z77 mobo). I reasoned: If I'm going to spend between $3-4K, I might as well spend an extra $600 and future-proof to the best of my ability without going crazy and staying below $4K.

Currently, I have 3 x 24" monitors so having an SLI set up is necessary but I also knew that I wanted to OC my system and from what I've read, doing it with the 3930K will make it easier and safer than the 3770K.

I opt'd for the sound proofing and silent fans because from what I've read the system can be noisy and from what other customers and other review sites have claimed, the extra noise absorbing material plus quieter fans does make a difference. My current system is relatively loud with over 10 fans (no liquid cooling) and I would like to enjoy gaming without having the extra noise. Yes, I could've done it myself and probably saved a few bucks but I'm lazy and don't feel like messing with glue and since professionals are building--why not? For an extra $160, it'll be worth it from where I stand.

16GB is plenty of RAM for me, going 32GB is insane and 8GB is not enough.

For video cards, I went with the 2 x EVGA GTX 660 Ti FTW (6GB) (best middle-of-the-road option), could've have gone with 2 x Titans but from past experience, getting the top-of-the-line video cards makes little to no sense, considering that by next year there'll be a new generation of video cards that will out class it anyway. I can always upgrade cards down the road and that's what I plan to do but two 660s will hold me over comfortably for the next couple years before upgrading.

For audio out-put I could care less, I put away my desktop speakers a long time ago and use a USB wireless gaming 7.1 headset so that's a moot point in my book.

Already have a gaming keyboard and mouse, no need to buy.

Not concerned about having a Blu-ray drive, I have a 52" HDTV with a 5.1 surround sound system--no need for watching it on a gaming desktop PC.

The 240GB SSD was the best value for size vs. money. I have no plans to RAID my HDD or buy a SSD to replace it for now (perhaps when the price comes down, I'll transfer everything off but at the moment, I don't see that happening for awhile).

Regards to the PSU, for an extra $100, why not--it's certified and more power is better for more stable rig when OCing.

For the OS, I went with Windows 8 64-bit and not the Windows 8 64-bit Pro since I have no intentions in ever using any of the features of the pro-version.

Having said all of this...

If you do decide to go with the 3770K for the processor, I would strongly encourage you look at the Maingear X-Cube. And here's why:

http://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/configurePrd.asp?id...

You automatically get $100 off (not a big deal but every dollar counts) and it's free S&H for $2,500 or more.

Comes with a different mobo (for form factor) but has the same processor, 3770K.

Using the same specs that I choose for my F131 on the X-Cube (Super Stock):

Default price: $1,365.00

* Processor: 3770K - $191.00
* Memory: 16GB (Dominator platinum) - $160.00
* Graphics Card: 2 x MSI GTX 660 Ti Power Edition (4GB) - $397.00 (You can buy the 2 x Titans but obviously the price would go way up)
* Hard Drive Bay One: 240GB Intel 520 - $245.00
* Hard Drive Bay Two: 3TB Seagate Barracuda - $185.00 (You could by this yourself for cheaper price)
* PSU: 850W - $131.00
* RAID: N/A
* Optical Drive: N/A
* Audio: N/A

Upgrades: $1,209.00

Subtotal (minus S&H): $2,574.00 (shipping is free since it's over $2,500)

If I was in your shoes and I knew I was gonna go with the 3770K, I'd go with the X-Cube and save a huge chunk of change. I did a similar build comparing the price of an F131 3770K build vs F131 3930K build, it came out to ~$600 difference. However, comparing the F131 3770K build $3,800+ vs X-Cube 3770K build $2,500+ that's a ~$1,300 difference in price.

From a financial investment perspective, consider the two options.

Best of luck and don't lose any sleep, material things can be replaced.


Thanks for all of your comments, Mighty Tiki! I might consider the 850W PSU instead of the 800W one, although I don't plan to do any overclocking of my own, since I have no idea how to do that at all.

I have a question. Why didn't you decide to do their Redline overclocking? Is that because you wanted to do them yourself. I'm wondering if I should do the Redline OCing or not....

Stuff that I've changed since my first post: I'm not getting a SSD caching drive anymore, but a full-blown 256GB Samsung SSD drive, in addition to the 3TB Seagate Barracuda HDD. I've also decided to get the onboard audio, since I too have 7.1 surround sound headphones (Astro A50s). It looks like the audiophile card is only 2.1, which I find to be pretty crazy, but I guess it's a card for music-listening?

Let me price the X-Cube now with my specs and see what the price comes up to. That's a possible idea, although I do like the look of the F131....
m
0
l
March 10, 2013 7:57:02 PM

So I went to look at the X-Cube. Interesting stuff. Indeed it is several hundred dollars cheaper, but one thing that you can't get on the X-Cube that I was going to get on the F131 are the two 4GB 680s. It looks like you can only get two 2GB 680s. Thoughts on how much this affects gameplay? I kinda wanted to get those fancy, 4GB 680s, since they will likely be a good bit stronger than a single 690 or TITAN.

I do like that you have the option of getting a 7.1 soundcard for the X-Cube, instead of just the "audiophile" 2.1 card. Still not completely sold on the idea because of the smaller SLI 680s, though.

JED, as always, thanks for your comments. Yes, I think the issue with my cats is that a latch is broken on the ethernet cable--I've just been too lazy lately to get a new one. Doesn't sound like I need a powerline cable. If you read a good review of the Atheros Killer wireless adapter, I will trust you and get that. Thanks again!

Screw Windows 8 Pro, too! I'm definitely just getting the normal Windows 8 edition.

Now time to go back and play some Call of Duty: Allied Assault from 2004. Haha, see the type of games I play on my older computer now? Even this game lags a lot for some reason. I have an ATI Radeon HD 4850 and an AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor. I wonder what's causing bottlenecks with my gaming now. My CPU or my card? I have 4GB RAM, by the way.
m
0
l
March 11, 2013 12:23:48 AM

echamberlin8 said:
Thanks for all of your comments, Mighty Tiki! I might consider the 850W PSU instead of the 800W one, although I don't plan to do any overclocking of my own, since I have no idea how to do that at all.

I have a question. Why didn't you decide to do their Redline overclocking? Is that because you wanted to do them yourself. I'm wondering if I should do the Redline OCing or not....

Stuff that I've changed since my first post: I'm not getting a SSD caching drive anymore, but a full-blown 256GB Samsung SSD drive, in addition to the 3TB Seagate Barracuda HDD. I've also decided to get the onboard audio, since I too have 7.1 surround sound headphones (Astro A50s). It looks like the audiophile card is only 2.1, which I find to be pretty crazy, but I guess it's a card for music-listening?

Let me price the X-Cube now with my specs and see what the price comes up to. That's a possible idea, although I do like the look of the F131....
So I went to look at the X-Cube. Interesting stuff. Indeed it is several hundred dollars cheaper, but one thing that you can't get on the X-Cube that I was going to get on the F131 are the two 4GB 680s. It looks like you can only get two 2GB 680s. Thoughts on how much this affects gameplay? I kinda wanted to get those fancy, 4GB 680s, since they will likely be a good bit stronger than a single 690 or TITAN.

I do like that you have the option of getting a 7.1 soundcard for the X-Cube, instead of just the "audiophile" 2.1 card. Still not completely sold on the idea because of the smaller SLI 680s, though.

JED, as always, thanks for your comments. Yes, I think the issue with my cats is that a latch is broken on the ethernet cable--I've just been too lazy lately to get a new one. Doesn't sound like I need a powerline cable. If you read a good review of the Atheros Killer wireless adapter, I will trust you and get that. Thanks again!

Screw Windows 8 Pro, too! I'm definitely just getting the normal Windows 8 edition.

Now time to go back and play some Call of Duty: Allied Assault from 2004. Haha, see the type of games I play on my older computer now? Even this game lags a lot for some reason. I have an ATI Radeon HD 4850 and an AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor. I wonder what's causing bottlenecks with my gaming now. My CPU or my card? I have 4GB RAM, by the way.


I opt'd for the Intel program over the company's because: Intel > Maingear

1. It's Intel's processor, not Maingear's
2. Intel is a bigger name when it comes to hardware and software, I trust Intel over Maingear.
3. Should anything go wrong with OCing, Intel has a lifetime warranty on their processors.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gaming/overclock...

Let me explain why getting two mid-range video cards makes sense.

Let's assume you get a single Titan, it will perform very similarly to two 660s. You can Google and find all the benchmarks comparisons (I did before buying my system). You've now spent an extra $326 versus the best two 660s offered in the Z77 F131 build. (2x EVGA® GeForce™ GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 6GB Total GDDR5 in SLI)

Okay, not a big difference in price but if you plan to buy another Titan, it will set you back another $1,000-1,200ish (give or take).

Next year, they unveil the 700-video cards that destroys the current 600-series and the following year they come out with the 800-series and so forth. You could've been satisfied with two mid-range video cards and saved a considerable amount of change over time and upgraded only when the games you are playing can no longer keep up with your aging video cards (that's what I did when I stepped up from two GTX 260s to two GTX 550's).

I don't see you needing a Titan (or two) unless you're playing the latest intensive rendering games out there and you have a rig that can get the most out of it. http://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/viewconfig.asp?conf...

I would argue that getting the top-of-the-line video cards is similar to getting the best top-of-the-line performance racing tires on a 4-door mid-size sedan. Okay, you have Z-rated tires rated at over 149 MPH but if you never go above 90 MPH so getting a S-rated tired at 112 MPH would have been more than sufficient for your vehicle.

Getting a 670 or a 680 would make more sense to me but I personally would opt for two 660's. Your money, your rig.
m
0
l
March 11, 2013 12:02:31 PM

MightyTiki said:
echamberlin8 said:
Thanks for all of your comments, Mighty Tiki! I might consider the 850W PSU instead of the 800W one, although I don't plan to do any overclocking of my own, since I have no idea how to do that at all.

I have a question. Why didn't you decide to do their Redline overclocking? Is that because you wanted to do them yourself. I'm wondering if I should do the Redline OCing or not....

Stuff that I've changed since my first post: I'm not getting a SSD caching drive anymore, but a full-blown 256GB Samsung SSD drive, in addition to the 3TB Seagate Barracuda HDD. I've also decided to get the onboard audio, since I too have 7.1 surround sound headphones (Astro A50s). It looks like the audiophile card is only 2.1, which I find to be pretty crazy, but I guess it's a card for music-listening?

Let me price the X-Cube now with my specs and see what the price comes up to. That's a possible idea, although I do like the look of the F131....
So I went to look at the X-Cube. Interesting stuff. Indeed it is several hundred dollars cheaper, but one thing that you can't get on the X-Cube that I was going to get on the F131 are the two 4GB 680s. It looks like you can only get two 2GB 680s. Thoughts on how much this affects gameplay? I kinda wanted to get those fancy, 4GB 680s, since they will likely be a good bit stronger than a single 690 or TITAN.

I do like that you have the option of getting a 7.1 soundcard for the X-Cube, instead of just the "audiophile" 2.1 card. Still not completely sold on the idea because of the smaller SLI 680s, though.

JED, as always, thanks for your comments. Yes, I think the issue with my cats is that a latch is broken on the ethernet cable--I've just been too lazy lately to get a new one. Doesn't sound like I need a powerline cable. If you read a good review of the Atheros Killer wireless adapter, I will trust you and get that. Thanks again!

Screw Windows 8 Pro, too! I'm definitely just getting the normal Windows 8 edition.

Now time to go back and play some Call of Duty: Allied Assault from 2004. Haha, see the type of games I play on my older computer now? Even this game lags a lot for some reason. I have an ATI Radeon HD 4850 and an AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor. I wonder what's causing bottlenecks with my gaming now. My CPU or my card? I have 4GB RAM, by the way.


I opt'd for the Intel program over the company's because: Intel > Maingear

1. It's Intel's processor, not Maingear's
2. Intel is a bigger name when it comes to hardware and software, I trust Intel over Maingear.
3. Should anything go wrong with OCing, Intel has a lifetime warranty on their processors.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gaming/overclock...

Let me explain why getting two mid-range video cards makes sense.

Let's assume you get a single Titan, it will perform very similarly to two 660s. You can Google and find all the benchmarks comparisons (I did before buying my system). You've now spent an extra $326 versus the best two 660s offered in the Z77 F131 build. (2x EVGA® GeForce™ GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 6GB Total GDDR5 in SLI)

Okay, not a big difference in price but if you plan to buy another Titan, it will set you back another $1,000-1,200ish (give or take).

Next year, they unveil the 700-video cards that destroys the current 600-series and the following year they come out with the 800-series and so forth. You could've been satisfied with two mid-range video cards and saved a considerable amount of change over time and upgraded only when the games you are playing can no longer keep up with your aging video cards (that's what I did when I stepped up from two GTX 260s to two GTX 550's).

I don't see you needing a Titan (or two) unless you're playing the latest intensive rendering games out there and you have a rig that can get the most out of it. http://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/viewconfig.asp?conf...

I would argue that getting the top-of-the-line video cards is similar to getting the best top-of-the-line performance racing tires on a 4-door mid-size sedan. Okay, you have Z-rated tires rated at over 149 MPH but if you never go above 90 MPH so getting a S-rated tired at 112 MPH would have been more than sufficient for your vehicle.

Getting a 670 or a 680 would make more sense to me but I personally would opt for two 660's. Your money, your rig.


Thanks again for the response, Tiki. You migh've swayed me on the Intel vs. Redline OCing. I'm assuming Redline is Maingear's in-house OCing option? And Intel itself does the other option. I wonder what the differences are in terms of speed? I don't know very much (i.e., anything at all) about overclocking, so I can't really weigh in much more than that.

The video card question is what's haunting me right now. Getting a Titan isn't very high on my list, unless I could afford a Titan SLI set-up (and I probably can't, or at the very least, shouldn't). I'm really torn between SLI GTX 680 4GBs, a GTX 690, or Crossfire 7970s. The Crossfire is the cheapest option, by a decent margin. The GTX 680 4GBs are quite expensive (almost $1,200, versus a little under $1K for the 690 and $900 or so for a Titan), but I've heard they have the best performance.

I understand that these cards will probably be outdated in two years (although I'd hope they could last a bit longer, since I'm geting the absolute top-of-the-line cards out right now), and I see your point about not spending huge amounts of money on something that can be upgraded in the future, but ideally I won't have to upgrade this computer for a while. Do you think when I do want to upgrade the graphics card, I could send the system back to Maingear and they could do it for me? I've never updated a video card myself, and might not trust myself.

You said this would be like getting very expensive tires in a not-so-expensive car. Do you think that the grahpics cards are that much nicer than the rest of my build? I mean, a i7 3770K is, from what I understand, one of the very nicest processors out there, behind only those six-core cards, which are a bit out of my price range. I ended up getting the Z77 instead of the X79 because of price reasons, because I heard there isn't much difference for gaming, and also I have 16GB of RAM in my set-up, which is pretty nice. So I'm thinking with a decent video card option, this computer could last quite a while. After all, I'm going to be dropping close to $4,000 on it, so I hope it would last a while.

Still, the video card question haunts me. I wonder if it would be simpler to just get a GTX 690 and then upgrade to another one in the future if I need more power. But then I hear people like JED in this thread saying that there is more video memory in a GTX 680 4GB than there is in a GTX 690, so that is the smarter option when it comes to "future-proofing" (and don't worry, I know it's impossible to fully future proof). And then there are the Crossfire 7970s with 3GB VRAM, which is right between the GTX 680 4GB and the 2GB per card GTX 690. Ugh, the choices!
m
0
l
March 11, 2013 2:33:14 PM

echamberlin8 said:
MightyTiki said:
echamberlin8 said:
Thanks for all of your comments, Mighty Tiki! I might consider the 850W PSU instead of the 800W one, although I don't plan to do any overclocking of my own, since I have no idea how to do that at all.

I have a question. Why didn't you decide to do their Redline overclocking? Is that because you wanted to do them yourself. I'm wondering if I should do the Redline OCing or not....

Stuff that I've changed since my first post: I'm not getting a SSD caching drive anymore, but a full-blown 256GB Samsung SSD drive, in addition to the 3TB Seagate Barracuda HDD. I've also decided to get the onboard audio, since I too have 7.1 surround sound headphones (Astro A50s). It looks like the audiophile card is only 2.1, which I find to be pretty crazy, but I guess it's a card for music-listening?

Let me price the X-Cube now with my specs and see what the price comes up to. That's a possible idea, although I do like the look of the F131....
So I went to look at the X-Cube. Interesting stuff. Indeed it is several hundred dollars cheaper, but one thing that you can't get on the X-Cube that I was going to get on the F131 are the two 4GB 680s. It looks like you can only get two 2GB 680s. Thoughts on how much this affects gameplay? I kinda wanted to get those fancy, 4GB 680s, since they will likely be a good bit stronger than a single 690 or TITAN.

I do like that you have the option of getting a 7.1 soundcard for the X-Cube, instead of just the "audiophile" 2.1 card. Still not completely sold on the idea because of the smaller SLI 680s, though.

JED, as always, thanks for your comments. Yes, I think the issue with my cats is that a latch is broken on the ethernet cable--I've just been too lazy lately to get a new one. Doesn't sound like I need a powerline cable. If you read a good review of the Atheros Killer wireless adapter, I will trust you and get that. Thanks again!

Screw Windows 8 Pro, too! I'm definitely just getting the normal Windows 8 edition.

Now time to go back and play some Call of Duty: Allied Assault from 2004. Haha, see the type of games I play on my older computer now? Even this game lags a lot for some reason. I have an ATI Radeon HD 4850 and an AMD Phenom(tm) 9350e Quad-Core Processor. I wonder what's causing bottlenecks with my gaming now. My CPU or my card? I have 4GB RAM, by the way.


I opt'd for the Intel program over the company's because: Intel > Maingear

1. It's Intel's processor, not Maingear's
2. Intel is a bigger name when it comes to hardware and software, I trust Intel over Maingear.
3. Should anything go wrong with OCing, Intel has a lifetime warranty on their processors.

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/gaming/overclock...

Let me explain why getting two mid-range video cards makes sense.

Let's assume you get a single Titan, it will perform very similarly to two 660s. You can Google and find all the benchmarks comparisons (I did before buying my system). You've now spent an extra $326 versus the best two 660s offered in the Z77 F131 build. (2x EVGA® GeForce™ GTX 660 Ti FTW+ 6GB Total GDDR5 in SLI)

Okay, not a big difference in price but if you plan to buy another Titan, it will set you back another $1,000-1,200ish (give or take).

Next year, they unveil the 700-video cards that destroys the current 600-series and the following year they come out with the 800-series and so forth. You could've been satisfied with two mid-range video cards and saved a considerable amount of change over time and upgraded only when the games you are playing can no longer keep up with your aging video cards (that's what I did when I stepped up from two GTX 260s to two GTX 550's).

I don't see you needing a Titan (or two) unless you're playing the latest intensive rendering games out there and you have a rig that can get the most out of it. http://www.maingear.com/boutique/pc/viewconfig.asp?conf...

I would argue that getting the top-of-the-line video cards is similar to getting the best top-of-the-line performance racing tires on a 4-door mid-size sedan. Okay, you have Z-rated tires rated at over 149 MPH but if you never go above 90 MPH so getting a S-rated tired at 112 MPH would have been more than sufficient for your vehicle.

Getting a 670 or a 680 would make more sense to me but I personally would opt for two 660's. Your money, your rig.


Thanks again for the response, Tiki. You migh've swayed me on the Intel vs. Redline OCing. I'm assuming Redline is Maingear's in-house OCing option? And Intel itself does the other option. I wonder what the differences are in terms of speed? I don't know very much (i.e., anything at all) about overclocking, so I can't really weigh in much more than that.

The video card question is what's haunting me right now. Getting a Titan isn't very high on my list, unless I could afford a Titan SLI set-up (and I probably can't, or at the very least, shouldn't). I'm really torn between SLI GTX 680 4GBs, a GTX 690, or Crossfire 7970s. The Crossfire is the cheapest option, by a decent margin. The GTX 680 4GBs are quite expensive (almost $1,200, versus a little under $1K for the 690 and $900 or so for a Titan), but I've heard they have the best performance.

I understand that these cards will probably be outdated in two years (although I'd hope they could last a bit longer, since I'm geting the absolute top-of-the-line cards out right now), and I see your point about not spending huge amounts of money on something that can be upgraded in the future, but ideally I won't have to upgrade this computer for a while. Do you think when I do want to upgrade the graphics card, I could send the system back to Maingear and they could do it for me? I've never updated a video card myself, and might not trust myself.

You said this would be like getting very expensive tires in a not-so-expensive car. Do you think that the grahpics cards are that much nicer than the rest of my build? I mean, a i7 3770K is, from what I understand, one of the very nicest processors out there, behind only those six-core cards, which are a bit out of my price range. I ended up getting the Z77 instead of the X79 because of price reasons, because I heard there isn't much difference for gaming, and also I have 16GB of RAM in my set-up, which is pretty nice. So I'm thinking with a decent video card option, this computer could last quite a while. After all, I'm going to be dropping close to $4,000 on it, so I hope it would last a while.

Still, the video card question haunts me. I wonder if it would be simpler to just get a GTX 690 and then upgrade to another one in the future if I need more power. But then I hear people like JED in this thread saying that there is more video memory in a GTX 680 4GB than there is in a GTX 690, so that is the smarter option when it comes to "future-proofing" (and don't worry, I know it's impossible to fully future proof). And then there are the Crossfire 7970s with 3GB VRAM, which is right between the GTX 680 4GB and the 2GB per card GTX 690. Ugh, the choices!


Upgrading your video card, RAM and storage device (hard drive) is one of the easiest things you can do. YouTube "how to" and you will get a ton of videos showing you step-by-step. Video cards can be replaced, I have no intentions to replace my 660's for at least 3+ years to get my money's worth out of them and if I'm at a point where I can no longer keep up with the latest games. Makes no sense to replace video cards that run $1,000+ a pop every year unless you're making bank and don't care about constantly upgrading your computer just so you can say you have the latest and greatest.

In regards to the processor, the 3770K is based on the Z77 board and that's the end of the line. Yes, it's the best processor for the Z77 and "no", there aren't any games coming out within the next 6-months that will be utilizing all 4-cores or even 6-cores but who knows where the gaming industry is going to be at in 3-5 years out from now. That's why I decided to get the 3930K X79 hex-core over the 3770K Z77 quad-core. Again, for future-proofing the best of my ability. You'll just have to wait and see, who knows if I just wasted $600 on the processor upgrade but only time will tell. I'd rather be running something that is the "next generation" than the top-of-the-line for the older technology. That's why I didn't upgrade from my Core i7 920 (the first generation of quad-cores) to the 3770K because I didn't see a need to upgrade the processor with my current rig until now where there's a definitive leap in technology from the quad-core to the hex-core.

When I ordered the 660, I went with the 3GB RAM per video card for a total of 6GB for both 660's. Whatever you decide, general rule of thumb: "What you pay is what you get". There's a reason why certain video cards (660/670/680/690's) cost more than others when comparing within the same "series" of cards. For example, comparing an EVGA 660 Ti (4GB) $379 vs. MSI 660 Ti (2GB) $315-- just an example, I pulled the numbers out of thin air and I'm sure those numbers are even right but just to illustrate that the more expensive video card is going to out perform the other and it's generally better to get the more expensive video card within a series.

Make a decision and pull the trigger, not that difficult. You're building a PC, not a Scion sports car.
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March 11, 2013 2:42:51 PM

Just a point - you still only have 3GB of VRAM since the cards mirror the contents. If you had three cards, you's still only have VRAM equivalent to the smallest card.

The X79 hexa-core setup cost $740 for the CPU and cheap mobo (if you bought them yourself). My CPU and mobo cost a total of $270 (given, it was in-store combo at microcenter). In 4 years or so I'll get the follow-on to Haswell with DDR4, Thunderbolt, and whatever else is new at the time for another $400-ish and combined with the cost of the current build spend less than the hexa X79. It's not a bad platform, there's just not a lot of bang for the buck.
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March 12, 2013 8:49:42 AM

Yeah, I see the appeal of the X79/hex-core route, but I think it's a little too expensive for me on Maingear. You could make a case that I could get a fair price if I were to get that X-Cube, but ultimately I think I will stick with the F131. Call me an idiot, but I like the look. ;) 

One thing that is good news is that now you can configure your F131 to come with a Blu-ray optical drive as the FIRST port, instead of being an expensive, $179 add-on. It still costs $80 more, but that's totally worth it. So I'm happy I waited for that price drop.

At the moment I'm still swaying towards those SLI GTX 680 4GB Classifieds. I've read quite a few negative things about the HD 7970s, especially since the ones on Maingear don't seem to be GHz editions.
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March 12, 2013 9:58:04 AM

Wow, so I just went onto the Maingear site and clicked on X79 to see what my options are. They have a frickin' 8-core processor on there, which is pretty cool (although very expensive):


Intel® Xeon™ E5-2687W 3.1/3.8GHz Turbo 20MB Cache 8-core (add $1,856!!!!)

Intel® Core™ i7 3970X Six-core 3.5GHz/4.0GHz Turbo 15MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading (Add $901)

Intel® Core™ i7 3930K Six-core 3.2GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 12MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading (Add $418)

Intel® Core™ i7 3820 Quad-core 3.6GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 10MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading (base processor)

If I did go this route (not saying I'm going to, since it's pricy, but if I ended up getting a GTX TITAN instead of SLI GTX 680s, that would save me a ton of money that I could use on this processor), would it be best to get the 3930K? I don't know much about these ultra-advanced processors.

I priced everything, and going with the 3930K and a single TITAN, the pricing comes out to $4,134, which isn't bad. Could always add another TITAN in SLI later, but I really wonder if this X79 route would be that worth it for me or not. I'm so happy they allowed us to get a Blu-ray drive as our first optical drive. I just thought that was insane before you could only get a DVD drive.
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March 18, 2013 8:14:52 AM

I'm beginning to think I'm going to get a single GTX TITAN instead of the SLI GTX 680 4GB Classifieds. I'm doing this because A) it's cheaper and B) I can upgrade to a SLI TITAN config. when I get more money, which is a much faster option than the SLI GTX 680s. And the TITAN should be able to play any game at max or pretty close to max settings right now anyways. Win/win?

What do you guys think? Should I go the X79 or Z77 route?
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March 22, 2013 8:15:54 PM

I ordered an f131 that will be arriving mon (est delivery 3/21)

It's a 3930k w/ maingear overclocking (they have a good warranty for the three years ill be using the computer)

I originally purchased a single titan with it but have since ordered another to run in sli.

Chassis Modification: AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening
$89.00
Chassis Modification: SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm)
$69.00
Motherboard: Asus® Rampage IV Gene Featuring USB 3.0, SATA 6G, SLI and CrossFire
Included
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 3930K Six-core 3.2GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 12MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading
$418.00
Processor Cooling: MAINGEAR EPIC 120 Supercooler
Included
MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking Service: YES! - Redline™ Overclock My System!
Memory: 16GB Corsair® Dominator™ Platinum DDR3-2133 1.5V (4x4GB)
$216.00
Graphics and GPGPU Accelerator: NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX TITAN 6GB GDDR5 3D Vision Surround w/PhysX [ULTIMATE]
$890.00
Hard Drive Bay One: 128GB Crucial® M4 SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [500MB/s Reads]
Included
Hard Drive Bay Two: 1TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G
Included
Power Supply: 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS
$93.00
Optical Drive One: 6x Blu-ray Burner/8x Super Multi Combo with playback software
$80.00
Audio: Asus® SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio
Included
Ethernet Adapter: On-board Gigabit Ethernet
Included
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64-bit

I wanted a PC that can handle coloring and rendering my RED footage as well as play bleeding edge games at ultra settings.
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May 29, 2013 1:50:53 PM

Junethebee said:
I ordered an f131 that will be arriving mon (est delivery 3/21)

It's a 3930k w/ maingear overclocking (they have a good warranty for the three years ill be using the computer)

I originally purchased a single titan with it but have since ordered another to run in sli.

Chassis Modification: AcoustiPack Ultimate Sound Dampening
$89.00
Chassis Modification: SilenX 15dB Fan Package (2x120mm, 2x80mm)
$69.00
Motherboard: Asus® Rampage IV Gene Featuring USB 3.0, SATA 6G, SLI and CrossFire
Included
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 3930K Six-core 3.2GHz/3.8GHz Turbo 12MB L3 Cache w/ HyperThreading
$418.00
Processor Cooling: MAINGEAR EPIC 120 Supercooler
Included
MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking Service: YES! - Redline™ Overclock My System!
Memory: 16GB Corsair® Dominator™ Platinum DDR3-2133 1.5V (4x4GB)
$216.00
Graphics and GPGPU Accelerator: NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX TITAN 6GB GDDR5 3D Vision Surround w/PhysX [ULTIMATE]
$890.00
Hard Drive Bay One: 128GB Crucial® M4 SATA 6G (w/TRIM) [500MB/s Reads]
Included
Hard Drive Bay Two: 1TB Seagate® Barracuda™ 7200rpm 64MB Cache SATA 6G
Included
Power Supply: 850 Watt Corsair® AX850 80+ Gold Certified Modular Power Supply ROHS
$93.00
Optical Drive One: 6x Blu-ray Burner/8x Super Multi Combo with playback software
$80.00
Audio: Asus® SupremeFX III X-Fi THX TrueStudio Pro Premium Audio
Included
Ethernet Adapter: On-board Gigabit Ethernet
Included
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 Pro 64-bit

I wanted a PC that can handle coloring and rendering my RED footage as well as play bleeding edge games at ultra settings.


Junethebee, how did you end up liking the F131? I never ended up ordering mine, mostly because I ran out of money, but also because I'm telling myself to wait for things like graphics cards to go down in price (ultimately I decided I wanted to get a GTX TITAN and then get a second one either at the same time or sometime in the future when I had the money, since nothing seems to be close to SLI TITANs, and even a single TITAN can run basically anything), and for the new graphics cards to be released.

So do you think it was worth it getting the X79 config with the fancy six-core processor? I was set on the i7-3770K, but I'm wondering if by the time I get this computer (end of summer? Early fall?) that will still be the right option....

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