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First Time gaming/media/htpc build, picked out parts, but could use some confirmation and guidance

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January 13, 2014 8:31:02 PM

So this is my first time building a pc as well as my first time posting a link; I will go ahead and apologize for any broken rules. I tried to read up on the guidelines first. I'm just tired of the console circlejerk and feel like I could get more use, longevity, and power out of building my own gaming desktop. I intend to use it as essentially a new console, but I will also use it for general entertainment purposes (browsing reddit, watching videos, watching movies, writing papers, listening to music, etc.).
I wanted to build a pc that would be powerful enough to last me for several years before upgrading anything, and several more years adding new parts as need be. I intended on hooking it up to my tv and surround sound instead of using a simple monitor.
TV is a Samsung UN65ES8000
http://www.samsung.com/us/video/tvs/UN65ES8000FXZA
Surround Sound is a 5.1 Yamaha YHT 497
http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/hometheater...
My Budget on the build is $2000, but being under that would be great as long as performance isn't sacrificed. The TV is an active 3D TV, and when I last searched, I had a hard time finding information on using an HTPC as a 3D bluray player. My understanding is that is more about the software than the hardware, but still I'm not sure what requirements need to be met besides a bluray optical drive. As for the sound, my understanding is that the appropriate motherboard should take care of getting it in 5.1, or a soundcard if need be. I didn't know if it would be as simple as just plugging an optical audio cable in, or if I could even run the sound out of the HDMI with the video.
I had fiddled around with picking parts on pcpartpicker.com, and i had come up with a few (3) slightly different builds. Here are some links to those:
http://pcpartpicker.com/user/graymjones/saved/2zyU
http://pcpartpicker.com/user/graymjones/saved/3lHE
http://pcpartpicker.com/user/graymjones/saved/3pT3 (This one is the one listed below)
As of right now, the following is the most expensive build and the one that seems the most promising to my untrained eye in terms of power and longevity.
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770k 3.5Ghz Quad-Core $324.99
CPU cooler: Corsair H100i 77.0 CFM Liquid $99.99
Motherboard: ASRock z77 extreme6 ATX LGA1155 $153.99
Storage: Samsung 840 EVO 120GB 2.5" SSD $88.99
Add'tnl Storage: Hitachi Ultrastar 1 TB HDD 3.5" 7200RPM $47.92
RAM: Corsair XMS 32Gb (4x8Gb) DDR3-1333 $279.96
Video Card:Zotac GeForce GTX 770 2Gb (2x in SLI) $629.98
PSU: Corsair 760W ATX12V / EPS12V $137.99
Case: BitFenix Shinobi Window (White) ATX Mid Tower $74.76
Optical Drive: Asus BW-14D1XT Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer $104.98
OS: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro - OEM (64-bit) $137.97
Wireless Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N250PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 $15.99
Keyboard: Corsair Vengeance K70 $119.99
Mouse (already owned): Logitech G700s
and a Microsoft Xbox360 Wireless Controller Receiver $18.88
This totals to $2236.38
So if you guys think all that sounds good and that is a reasonable price, great! However, I suspect that won't be the case, so if you have suggestions, let's have them.
And if anyone thinks it's prudent, here are some videogames I intend to play:
Crysis 1,2,3
Mass Effect 1,2,3
Bioshock 1,2,3
Skyrim
Universe Sandbox
Kerbal Space Program
Assorted Splinter Cell games
Assorted Arma games
Assorted Counter Strike games
Garry's Mod
Minecraft
The Witcher 1,2
Dark Souls 1,2
Slender: The Arrival
and many more. I also intend to look in to Oculus Rift, so basically I would really like to be able to play any game I want on it's Ultra settings, and for it to be able to run simulations and handle plenty of physics computing. I'm also an engineering major, so I will probably use this desktop for running any sort of simulation and programming I may need in the future. If you all think this would be a satisfactory build, great. If you see a way to cut down the cost and keep up the performance, excellent. I honestly have only a sliver of an idea of what I'm doing, so any sort of feedback would be greatly appreciated.
January 13, 2014 9:46:06 PM

Good build overall, but it could be improved. Save some money with my suggestions and put it elsewhere (like the GPU, the case or the sound card). If you have questions, feel free to ask them.

- First of all, you need a Core i7 and 32 GB of RAM for what you are trying to do, unless you more intensive tasks like rendering and video/photo editing. A Core i5 and 8 GB of RAM would be plenty to run everything. Plus, you got a last generation CPU and motherboard (Ivy Bridge). You should pick an Haswell CPU and a Z87 board for better performances.

- I'm not a fan of watercooling, especially all-in-one solutions like the Corsair H100. Have you consider an air cooler ? Because they are some solutions like the Noctua NH-D14 and the Phanteks PH-TC14PE that cools better than the H100 and are far more quieter. They are also cheaper and you don't risk any liquid leaking into your computer if they break.

- You don't specify the model of your power supply. Just make sure that it has a good certification and, if possible, modular cabling as it reduces the mess inside the case and improves airflow. Your wattage is good tough. It is always a good thing to have a more powerful PSU than you already need because it makes the unit run cooler and quieter.

- If you plan to put a stereo system on your HTPC with like 5 or 7 speakers, I recommend you buy a good sound card. Otherwise, if you use an headset, the onboard audio card on your motherboard will do just fine.

- The case is a personal choice, but personally, I don't like Bitfenix cases. For better quality enclosures, take a look at Corsair and Fractal Design. I like cases with acoustic foam as they make the PC quieter during use. Go check the Define R4 (Fractal Design) and the Carbide 330R or Obsidian 550D (Corsair).

- The GTX 770 is an excellent video card, but Zotac make cheap card in my opinion. I suggest you pick one from a more trusted brand like ASUS, Gigabyte or EVGA. They are among the best manufacturers.

Have fun building !

January 13, 2014 10:57:03 PM

It's massive overkill for 1080P gaming. However you look at it, it really isn't likely to be worth spending that much money when you are limited to a single 1080P display. If you were trying to run sound from your tv, then HDMI should provide this, but when using speakers you just have to plug into the jack. Onboard audio is sufficient for most people and a cheap sound card is probably pointless. It's always something you can add later if you feel the need.

The i7 may well have a purpose for any simulation stuff you run, though it's worth looking into whether or not the programs you use can exploit it. For gaming, as was already mentioned, an i5 makes a lot more sense.

Haswell Vs Ivy Bridge is a non-argument really. You can sometimes pick up Ivy Bridge CPUs for a nice amount less than their Haswell equivalents, and that comfortably offsets any performance advantage. In this case, the Haswell CPUs are priced very close to their Ivy Bridge counterparts, I'd probably go with the Haswell. You don't really lose/gain much either way though.

How much you spend on a motherboard and CPU cooler is mainly dependant on how far you want to push it. Something like an Extreme 4 and a Hyper 212 Evo are plenty for most people really, but as you have a really generous budget you can really spend what you want here. Closed loop coolers are certainly improving, and if it's a system you plan on moving around a lot then it can make infinite sense to dispose of the heavy heatsink. In terms of value, they are still quite a long way behind air coolers though.

Your memory selection doesn't make a lot of sense. As was already mentioned 8Gb is plenty for gaming, and if you go for an ATX motherboard then you'll have 4 DIMMs so it's a really easy thing to double up on later if you feel you need it. If your simultation stuff is particularly memory intensive then 16Gb might be sensible, though it's hard to see 32Gb having a purpose. Also, 1333Mhz is pretty slow by modern standards. 1600Mhz is effectively the "standard" speed as it's supported by all modern chipsets, and on a Z77/Z87 you can start to make a case for stepping up to 1866Mhz or beyond, if the price is right. If you are in any doubt, a CAS8/9, 1.5V, 1600Mhz, 2*4Gb kit is what the vast majority of people will be buying right now, and it's great value/performance.

I'd ditch the Hitachi drive for a 1Tb Barracuda or WD Caviar Blue. They are a bit more expensive, but I think the cost is justified.

The PSU situation confuses me. You have three builds, two GTX770 with a Corsair AX760, two GTX770 with a Coolermaster Silent Pro 850 and a single GTX780 with a Corsair AX760.
For a SLI GXT770s, you should probably go with a 750-800W PSU. The AX760 is suitable, but it's pretty expensive. I'd go with the XFX Black 750 Gold, though there are three Rosewill PSUs, the Capstone M-750, Lightning 800 and Tachyon750 which are similarly priced and really nice.
For a single GTX780/GTX770, a 550-600W PSU is sufficient. I'd be looking at the Antec HCG-620M, Seasonic G-550 and M12II-620 or the Rosewill Capstone M-550/650.

For graphics cards, there is a limit to how much it makes sense to spend. At 1080P, I'd say the current limit is probably around the ~$300 mark, though that's a personal opinion not a fact. The reason is that something in the GTX760 range can play any game on the market with more or less every setting turned on and still get decent framerates. When you step up to the GTX770/R9 280X niche, you give yourself a bit more of a buffer, and after that it's mainly spending money you won't really be able to exploit. Now, new and more demanding games will come, and any system will have to gradually adjust settings downwards in it's lifetime, but it's worth remembering that you have an extra $300+ in your pocket which you could always spend on a new card somewhere down the line if performance falls below a level you deem acceptable. Obviously the decision is ultimately down to you, but I'd say the GTX770SLI setup is definitely overkill. You could potentially make a case for the GTX780 if it was a bit cheaper, but there's a pretty huge price gap between the 770 and 780 (supposed to be a 770Ti at some point I think).

I actually really like the Shinobi case. I built a friends PC in one last year and was amazed at how nice it was finished for the price, it can look surprisingly high end given it's fairly budget-y price tag. Having said that, if I was spending $2000 on a PC, I'd probably want to spend proportionately on a case. There's no point telling you what to buy as cases are entirely subjective. The previously mentioned Corsair Obsidian+Fractal Design Define series are a fairly similar aesthetic with a bit more quality, though the price tag will shoot up.
What I would say is that most people who build PC of this nature usually want to keep it reasonably discreet, so SFF or alternative layouts are fairly common. It's worth a think if you really want a big tower, or if you want something that's a bit more compact.
January 14, 2014 3:03:13 PM

Thanks for the input! Like I said, I wasn't 100% sure what I was doing, so thanks for pointing me in the right direction. I really appreciate the input
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