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£1500 Sandy Bridge Gaming System

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January 6, 2011 8:50:09 AM

So after a wait for Intel's new processing beauties and some excess money from a recent house move, it's time to build myself a new gaming PC. I think I've picked out a pretty solid build and I'd like to think I'm quite knowledgable about these things, but I always figure it doesn't hurt to gather a few extra opinions. I'll run through each of the components I've chosen with a little explanation and in some cases a few questions, so you can see what I'm thinking about each part.

Approximate Purchase Date: ASAP really.

Budget Range: £1500.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Primarily gaming. Aside from that just the usual things, so nothing special.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, 2.1 Speakers, Monitor and Sound Card (see below)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: www.scan.co.uk Scan offer a collection service and are only 30 miles away. So I can collect everything and save myself the postage. For items Scan doesn't have then I'd use www.dabs.co.uk if absolutely necessary, but it would need to be something special.

Country of Origin: UK

Parts Preferences: As long as it's high quality and reasonably price I'm pretty flexible.

Overclocking: Nope

SLI or Crossfire: I've not had great experiences with dual-GPU's before, so I won't be using them this time either. So let's focus on single card solutions.

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 on a Samsung 22" LCD Monitor (SyncMaster 2232BW)


The Build

CPU Either an Intel i7-2600 or a Intel i5-2500. I won't be overclocking so the K model seems redundant. I've yet to see a price for these on Scan yet, but I've allocated around £250 for one and I have a little excess from other components being cheaper than expected, so I should have enough to cover the cost.

Motherboard Asus P8P67 Pro. Not much to say here aside from I've had good experiences with Asus motherboards.

Asus P8P67 Pro

Memory 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600mhz. I have a choice of two here. Either:

Corsair 8GB 1600Mhz 9-9-9-27 1.65v

or

Corsair Vengeance 8GB 1600Mhz 8-8-8-24 1.5v

My question is whether it's worth getting the Vengeance for the better timings and if it will make any tangible difference. And whether it's worth the extra £33. Also it's really ugly memory!

GPU Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 1536MB I like the look of this card. Although I've not found many reviews of it, they're all positive, but has anyone had an direct experience with it? Also I know this is complete overkill for the resolution of my monitor, but with the size of my desk and the distance I sit from it anything larger will equally be complete overkill. Anyways, I'll get great frames!

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 1536MB

HDD I thought long and hard about getting a SDD, or combining a smaller SDD with a regular HDD. In the end, due to the extra cost and smaller size of SDD's, I opted for a normal HDD. A SDD can wait for the next PC I build!

Western Digital 640GB HDD

CPU Cooler Based on advice in this thread I've opted for a Thermalright 120-Ultra with additional mounting bracket.

Thermalright 120-Ultra

Mounting Bracket

PSU I've opted for a 750w Antec model here. I'm not sure if 750w is far more than I need, but I'd like a little head room just in case.

Antec 750W PSU

Sound Card I'm currently using a Creative X-fi Gamer card. It gives great quality sound and I don't really see the need to buy a newer card since I only use 2.1 speakers.

Optical Storage A bog standard DVD-RW. Nothing to say here really.

Regular DVD-RW

Case I already have the case. I bought it from ebay since I couldn't get it from Scan and it was cheaper than Dabs. Here's the link for reference.

Thermaltake Element-G Case

OS and Software Windows 7 64bit Home Premium. I've also bought a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 since I figure it was time to stop borrowing other peoples!


I think that's everything. Overall I like this build. I think it's pretty solid and will last a good few years before it needs replacing. I generally aim for three to four years, and with this build I think I'll try to make it last as long as possible. Obviously the older it gets the less impressive it's going to be. That's fine though. I'd love to hear anyones thoughts or criticisms on this, so fire away!

Thanks for reading.
January 6, 2011 8:54:21 AM

Fixed the links.
January 6, 2011 11:15:13 AM

isn't your sound card PCI and your MB lacking any PCI slots?
Related resources
January 6, 2011 12:02:34 PM

phil_h_99 said:
isn't your sound card PCI and your MB lacking any PCI slots?


It has two PCI slots.
January 6, 2011 7:55:42 PM

I highly advise you to take the K series as it costs only a few $ more that the 2600 or the 2500 but it can really help you out on a future upgrade:

Suppose 1-2 years from now,you want extra horsepower.If you have the K series,you can buy another gtx 580, OC the CPU(with sandy bridge its as easy as pressing 1 key) and tadaaaaaaa, you have a brand new system. If you're unable to OC the CPU,that might create a bottleneck,so you would be forced to get a new CPU and/or mobo
a b B Homebuilt system
a c 213 4 Gaming
January 6, 2011 8:22:36 PM

MoBo - I'd opt for the Sabertooth P67

GFX - If the Asus 580 is close in price, it generally overclocks higher and it will at least limit any tech support issues if they arise as they can't pawn you off and blame the GFX card manufacturer when you call w/ MoBo issues. And not to change your mind but perhaps ease your concerns, running two GFX cards today is a hugely easier than it was years ago. Now its plug in the cards, plug in the bridge and run. However even a single 580 is totally wasted at your resolution.....a 460 would be way more than enough.

HD - Why a SATA III (6 GB/s) HD with a max speed that can't approach half of SATA II speeds if not being used in a RAID configuration ?

Cooler - Scan sells a lot of coolers better than the Antec's (i.e. Megahalems). Grab one from the "Top Performers" list or at least the "highly recommended"

http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_conten...

Top Performers

* Prolimatech Megahalems
* Thermalright Venomous-X RT
* Scythe Mugen 2 SCMG-2100
* ProlimaTech Super Mega
* Cogage Arrow
* ProlimaTech Armageddon
* Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme
* Cogage TRUE Spirit
* Xigmatek Balder SD1283
* SilenX Effizio EFZ-120HA4
* Titan FENRIR TTC-NK85TZ

Highly Recommended

* Noctua NH-D14
* Zalman CNPS10X-Performa
* Coolink Corator-DS Heatsink
* CoolAge CA-X120TF Wind Tunnel
* Tuniq Tower 120 Extreme
* Thermolab BARAM
* Xigmatek Thor's Hammer S126384
* Scythe Yasya SCYS-1000 Cooler
* Noctua NH-U12P
* Cooler Master V6 GT Heatsink
* Thermaltake Contac-29 CLP0568
* Zalman CNPS10X-Quiet

On board sound is gonna be more than fine, I'd say better than an older sound card.

PSU - Size it

http://www.antec.outervision.com/

An Antec EA-650 for just about any single GFX card provides more headroom that ya need....and 850 would handle anything SLI or X-fire pair except for twin 580's








January 6, 2011 8:49:39 PM

Godhatesusall said:
I highly advise you to take the K series as it costs only a few $ more that the 2600 or the 2500 but it can really help you out on a future upgrade:

Suppose 1-2 years from now,you want extra horsepower.If you have the K series,you can buy another gtx 580, OC the CPU(with sandy bridge its as easy as pressing 1 key) and tadaaaaaaa, you have a brand new system. If you're unable to OC the CPU,that might create a bottleneck,so you would be forced to get a new CPU and/or mobo


Thanks for the advice. I'd considered getting the K for a just in case scenario, but I still can't find prices for any Sandy Bridge chips in the UK. Once I do I can look at the exact price difference and make a decision.
January 6, 2011 9:04:47 PM

@JackNaylorPE:

Thanks for the advice.

Mobo: I've yet to see the Sabertooth P67 for sale over here yet, so I've no idea of relative price to the Pro. Also I can't really see any major differences between the two. There's certainly not anything that jumps out at me. Also that Thermal Armour looks awful! I know though, what does it matter if it's locked away in a case! :) 

GFX: The Asus version is another £80 is it's out of budget really. I've never quite been able to get my head around this whole smaller resolution/wasted GPU scenario. Maybe you can help me, but surely a more powerful graphics card provides better overall FPS at all resolutions? I understand that at higher screen sizes you can get more out of the card and monitor combination, perhaps that's the point I'm not getting. Remember I'm looking to get a good three or four years use from this, so I'm after a long term solution.

HDD: I was really after the 64MB cache on the HDD, but I see now you can get that on a SATA II drive and for a little less money as well. Thanks for mentioning it.

Cooler: Cheers for the list. I'll have a good look through it in the morning.

PSU: You're right. A 650W PSU will be more than enough. Again I'll take another look at that in the morning.


Thanks for the advice so far JackNaylorPE, you've been most helpful.
January 7, 2011 7:52:35 AM

I've made modified the CPU cooler based on JackNaylorPE's advice.

I choose this Thermalright one instead:

Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme

I'm correct in assuming that I'll also need a mounting bracket for this as well?

Mounting Bracket

I'm correct in assuming that socket 1156 is identical to 1155?
January 7, 2011 11:32:57 AM

I'm building a very similar rig in a few days, here is what i'm getting.

CPU
- i7 2600k

MOBO
- Asus P8P67 Deluxe

RAM
- Corsair Dominator 1600 C9 8GB kit CMP8GX3M2A-1600C9 (4GBx2)

SSD
- Crucial C300 128GB

HDD
- WD black sata3 1TB (another popular option is the Samsung spinpoint drives which are great aswell and cheaper i think)

Graphics Card
- Asus Nvidia GTX 580

Power Supply
- Corsair HX850

DVD
- HP 24x litescribe dvd drive

Cooler
- Noctua D-14 or Coolermaster hyper 212+(if you need to meet budget)

Case
- Cooler Master 690 II Advanced (personal choice, you can go for the HAF series)


I would highly recommend going for the unlocked 'k' version of the 2600. You can easily overclock and get similar performance of the 980x six core processor which costs $1000!!
!