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Building my first gaming PC (Not a noob)

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March 11, 2013 12:51:02 PM

Hello everyone, I'm going to build my first PC in a couple of months. I've already done a lot of research on the subject and I've been a computer nerd since I was a little kid, I loved taking them apart and seeing what was inside. I know about making sure everything is compatible etc, all the basics I have covered and I believe I should have no problems figuring out how to piece everything together by myself. I know there are a bunch of threads asking questions about first time builds, but I didn't want to take over those threads with my abundance of questions :) 

So I'm going to center my build around a Core-i5 3570k CPU, with a GTX 660 GPU, and 16GB of RAM. My budget is preferably around 1000$ although I'm willing to spend a bit more to make sure I can play the latest games on the highest settings. I'll be buying it piece by piece as I can afford it so it'll take a few months to get all the parts I need to finally start building. Skyrim is a game I want to be able to run on Ultra with a bunch of mods making the graphics even better. The main games I play are Skyrim, Starcraft 2, Mass Effect, and Dead Space. I also like to dabble in Android development which is why I'm going to stick 16GB of RAM in my system. Being able to run a VM to build Android from source while still doing things on my host computer would be very useful so I can continue using the browser to look things up as I run into problems, edit files in notepad++, etc. I've never owned a high end PC before, so I've only been able to get a taste of what good PC gaming should feel like. I'm sure after I finally own a high end computer, I'll start buying and playing a lot more PC games on Steam.

Will a GTX 660 and Core-i5 3570k allow this on a 1080p monitor? I'm also looking for help in deciding on motherboard's, which is probably the piece I know least about (not to say I know nothing, far from it). The features I'm looking for are USB 3.0 support, SATA 6Gb/s, UEFI BiOS, and preferably with a good wireless chip build in although I'm willing to buy a seperate networking card to get the best Wifi performance possible. I already know I'll need an LGA1155 board to support the Core-i5 Ivy Bridge. Also, regarding the RAM - is it better to have 2x8GB or 4x4GB to make 16GB? I do plan on overclocking the CPU a bit, and installing a premade water cooler to help keep things cool. SLI support in the mobo would be optimal, since I may expand to dual monitors at some point in the future and it would be nice to have the option to SLI 2 GPU's to get the best performance possible. I was thinking I should get a 7-800 watt PSU, what do you guys think? I'm simply going to get a 1TB 7200 RPM HDD at first, and later down the road I'll add in an SSD for the OS and my most used programs. What would be the best bang for your buck HDD and SSD? Regarding the SSD, I'll probably get a 128GB SSD.

My budget of 1000$ is for the computer itself, not including the monitor, keyboard etc. If I can get a system for slightly cheaper that can still play the games I want to play at the highest settings, that would be best. I'm a 19 year old making 12$ an hour, so the further I can make my money stretch, the better, which is why I came here to ask experienced builders to recommend some builds/parts so I can get the best bang for my buck, while ensuring that all the chosen parts will be compatible with each other. I plan on running Windows 8 for the OS, and will probably also install Linux Mint in a dual boot.

Also, I live in Canada, is newegg.ca the cheapest/best place for parts?

Thanks for taking the time to read my abundance of questions!

More about : building gaming noob

March 11, 2013 2:18:25 PM

My advice to you is not to buy stuff bit by bit. In the computing world stuff changes fast, and if you buy stuff now, it's more likely than not to be outdated by the time you've actually got the build together.

In regards to your choice of components, why 16gb of RAM? Sure it's cheap, but $1000 is not a massive budget, so saving yourself a bit on that (gaming wise) pointless extra 8gb is money that can be put into a video card, which trust me will have a much more noticeable performance boost. Stuff like Android development really won't stress either 8 or 16gb of memory. I'd probably choose 2x8 if you wanted to get 16gb, it makes it easier to diagnose memory errors for starters.

Speaking of your video-card, I think there are much better cards to be had than the GTX 660, especially in the AMD camp. a 7870 XT or even 7950 would set you in a much better standing, esp. with a decent CPU like that. GTX 660s aren't going to scale anywhere as near as good as 7950s will in multi-gpu configurations either.

Most people recommend the ASRock Extreme4 as an all-round good motherboard, though it doesn't have built in wireless, I'd prefer to buy a dedicated modem.

750W is pretty much the sweet spot for SLI/Crossfire, so I'd recommend a Corsair/Seasonic/Antec unit at about this wattage.

I'd say most $1000 should include an SSD off the bat these days, they really have gone down quite substantially in price. Of course that's all up to you though, you might want more raw performance, but SSDs are great esp. from a development stand point and if you want to be switching OS frequently.

All the best,

M
March 13, 2013 1:05:48 PM

marshallbradley said:
My advice to you is not to buy stuff bit by bit. In the computing world stuff changes fast, and if you buy stuff now, it's more likely than not to be outdated by the time you've actually got the build together.

In regards to your choice of components, why 16gb of RAM? Sure it's cheap, but $1000 is not a massive budget, so saving yourself a bit on that (gaming wise) pointless extra 8gb is money that can be put into a video card, which trust me will have a much more noticeable performance boost. Stuff like Android development really won't stress either 8 or 16gb of memory. I'd probably choose 2x8 if you wanted to get 16gb, it makes it easier to diagnose memory errors for starters.

Speaking of your video-card, I think there are much better cards to be had than the GTX 660, especially in the AMD camp. a 7870 XT or even 7950 would set you in a much better standing, esp. with a decent CPU like that. GTX 660s aren't going to scale anywhere as near as good as 7950s will in multi-gpu configurations either.

Most people recommend the ASRock Extreme4 as an all-round good motherboard, though it doesn't have built in wireless, I'd prefer to buy a dedicated modem.

750W is pretty much the sweet spot for SLI/Crossfire, so I'd recommend a Corsair/Seasonic/Antec unit at about this wattage.

I'd say most $1000 should include an SSD off the bat these days, they really have gone down quite substantially in price. Of course that's all up to you though, you might want more raw performance, but SSDs are great esp. from a development stand point and if you want to be switching OS frequently.

All the best,

M


Thanks for the informative reply. I don't necessarily mind not having the absolute latest in hardware. As long as the components can handle my chosen games at the highest settings, I'll be happy. Yeah, I think your right, maybe I'll go with 8-12GB of RAM.

In my research I found some articles comparing the GTX 660 to the 7950/7970 and 660TI. I found that the 660 is supposed to offer the best bang for your buck, but I'll trust the advice of an experienced PC builder over that. When are the Radeon 8000 series cards due? I'm willing to spend up to 300$ for a GPU that can handle Skyrim/Dead Space etc on max, although preferably I'd like to spend a bit less than that seeing as how I'm a broke college student. The multi GPU configuration won't come right away, rather it'll come in a year or so when prices have dropped for the GPU that I've chosen (whether that be a GTX 660 or 7950). So for the time being, what single GPU will give me the FPS I'm looking for, in the games I want to play?

Cool, I'll look into those mobo's and PSU's, thanks for the recommendation. Regarding the SSD, I know they've fallen in price a LOT since a couple years ago, but I'd still rather spend my budget on raw performance to ensure I can play the games I want to at a decent FPS. Of course, if I can get the performance I'm looking for under a 1000$, then I'll reconsider getting an SSD right away since as you said, it's one of the best upgrades you can do to any system.

Thanks for your time.

Edit: Can someone recommend a premade water cooler that's relatively simple to install? I would like to OC my CPU to get the best performance possible. I know I'll have to do a lot of research to ensure I'm doing things properly and not screw up my system/CPU if I'm going to OC.
March 14, 2013 8:04:51 AM

The GTX 660 is definitely no competition for the 7950, the GTX 660 is somewhere in between the 7850 and the 7870 performance wise. Similarly in the majority of games the 660 Ti is somewhere between the 7870 and the 7950, depending precisely on what game you're looking at.

You must remember that the latest 13.2 Drivers for AMD cards have given a massive performance boost and pretty much eliminated the frame latency issues that were being reported before. For this reason a lot of the older reviews (often done on release of the GTX 660) aren't as valid due to driver updates. Of course the 660 GTX also has better drivers now too though. The other thing to consider is that the 7950 will almost certainly overclock better than the 660 GTX, and is stronger as a multi-GPU option, due to the higher memory bandwidth and 3gb vs 2gb of VRam. Here's a recentish review of a 7950: http://www.guru3d.com/articles_pages/his_radeon_7950_x_... Although all benchmarks are unfortunately at 2.5k resolution, you can still see that the 7950 is for the most part 30% or so faster than the GTX 660.

Radeon 8000 series won't be for quite awhile, perhaps not even until nVidia 700 series. I wouldn't wait if I were you.

I'm personally not a fan of prefilled watercoolers. I'd much rather take a cheaper and often better alternative, the Noctua NH-D14. It more often than not beats even the dual radiator prefilled loops in not only cooling performance but especially noise.

M
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