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Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
11-15-2011, 10:43 AM,
#1
Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
Hello,

I’m about to build my first computer and definitely looking for some advice. I have been doing a bit of research over the last week (still have plenty left to do I’m sure) but I think I have a rough idea of what I am looking for. Overall I am looking to build a mid-range gaming computer for roughly $1000 (less would be great). What do I mean by mid-range, well as of now, my demands are simple, Starcraft II, Fallout 3, etc… with decent if not high graphics on a roughly 22” monitor. In addition, it would be nice to have a computer that would also be able to keep up with future games… Since I like the idea of keeping this as a kind of a running project I would like to invest in parts (i.e. a motherboard) that can easily support future products like higher speed memory, etc... And finally as we are all going green, if ever possible it would be nice to get parts that consume less energy rather than more. Aesthetics and sound do not faze me in the least. Planning on running Windows 7 (considering dual boot with Ubuntu just for fun).

Here’s roughly what I’m thinking now:

CPU:
At present I am looking at the AMD Phenom II 4X 965. I have always been a bigger fan of AMD than Intel, but more specifically I like the backwards compatibility of AMD boards, so that it is more likely to upgrade in the future without having to swap out the board and the cpu at the same time. I have heard that for gaming there is really no need to have more than 4 cores and that it is possible to “unlock” Phenom 2Xs, but as a novice I am not sure of my ability to do this. I am looking at the Phenom serious over the FX series because it has a longer track record and, I hope, more reliability.

Motherboard:
This is perhaps the most daunting part for me as so much goes into its selection. At present the only requirements that I am looking for is AM3+ so it can be upgraded to FX technology someday in the future, two PCI-E X16 slots so that I can run crossfire or SLI someday when I choose to amp up the video capacity of the computer, SATA III capable (I hope to get a SSD) and memory slots that are set to upgrade to whatever memory they may be using in the future (thoughts on dual vs. triple channel?).
Sorry for it being so general, but I was a bit stumped in where to begin with this one and thought I would just ask for some suggestions. (Also I am for AMD at the moment but if there are very compelling arguments for Intel I could be persuaded).

GPU:
At present I am considering the Radeon HD 8700 but have not narrowed down the exact model (actually I would be interested to know if people prefer specific manufacturers: i.e. ASUS, SAPHIRE, HIS, etc…), I have also heard very good things of SAPPHIRE Toxic 100312TXSR Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP, but it seems to have gone up considerably in price since I read about it. As a point of interest if I were to put out the money for a Radeon 6900 serious would it just be held back by the phenom II 4X 965? I suppose ideally it would be nice to keep the video card around $200. In the future as whichever card I choose begins to become out of date my thinking is to buy a second and hook them up via crossfire.
The only real reason for Radeon over Nvdia is that I am under the impression they are fairly comparable but radeons consume quite a bit less power. Does anyone know if they also pair better with AMD processors since they are both AMD? Again open to suggestions here or definitely deals as they come up (I have my eye on black Friday).

Hard drives:
I am thinking two… I really like the effects (as I’m sure everyone else does) of an SSD and so I am looking at getting one SSD and one HDD, with operating system and games on the SSD and all other documents, movies and music on the HDD. How does that sound? I was looking at 120GB for the SSD and 1TB for the HDD. How does 120GB sound for my plans? (too big/small?) And again here looking for suggestions, I have heard great things about Intel SSDs and not as good of things from OCZ, but would be interested to hear feedback. Looking for info on suggested SSD size, speed, etc… At present I am thinking 2nd generation and SATA III. And for the HDD if anyone has any specific suggestions that would be great, but I would also be happy with suggestions for a quality/reliable brand.

Memory:
This one sounds pretty strait forward, but I am looking for suggestions on quantity of memory for a decent gaming computer (8GB?) I am also thinking about DDR3 1600 memory, but I would be interested to hear thoughts on the different memory speeds (i.e. 1333/1600/2000) and gaming performance. As always if anyone has any suggestions on lower power consuming memory I am all ears.

Case:
As for this I was hoping to actually reuse my old case, it is a decent size and has served me well in the past, it’s about ten years old though… Is there any reason I would have to upgrade to a newer case?

Optical Drives:
These to I am hoping to re-use from my old system for now, they play DVDs great and I don’t own a single blue-ray CD and until I do I couldn’t think of a reason to buy a blue-ray reader.

Power Supply:

I’m thinking I am going to have to upgrade this, at present mine is 450w but since I hope someday to do crossfire I am thinking that I’ll need one closer to 750w? Suggestions on wattage and quality brand?

Heat-sink:
For this I am looking for recommendations… use the stock or upgrade? I was thinking it might be worth it to get a $30 one, but I’m not sure if this would be excessive?

Monitor:
I am also hoping to upgrade my current monitor from an old CRT to an LED (again going green Wink) looking for 21”-23”, Aspect ratio 16:9, Contrast ratio: >25,000, brightness: >350cd/m2, and HDMI. Not sure if anyone has a monitor that falls along those lines that they absolutely love? Also any suggestions for quality brand is very welcome!

I think I’ve covered it all, but knowing me I’ve forgotten something… Any advice or suggestions would be great! Not to mention if anyone knows of any Black Friday deals coming up. Also I am still doing as much research as possible and welcome any links to articles or guides that you think might be useful.
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11-15-2011, 11:57 AM,
#2
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
CPU:
Are you planning to overclock? If not the i3 2100 is cheaper and faster for gaming. If you are going to overclock, the Phenom will likely be faster. Then again, you will need to spend more money on fans and heat sinks if you overclock.

MOBO:
If you choose the i3 2100, you could get an Ivy Bridge compatible board, use it with the i3 2100 for now, then upgrade to Ivy Bridge when you can afford it. If you are looking to upgrade to FX, according to Anandtech's bench, you wont see much of an improvement from Phenom II, sometimes even being slower in games.

GPU:
As of what bottlenecks another component, it all depends on what game you are playing. In SC2 most likely the the Phenom will bottleneck the 6950. In FPS most likely the GPU will bottleneck the CPU. If your looking for video card in the ~200$ price range, then get the GTX 560 Ti, if not then spend a little more for the 6950 Toxic 2gb and unlock it to a 6970.

Drives:
If you just want your OS and one or two games in a drive, then 60gb is plenty. Yes, get 2nd gen as they cost only a bit higher than 1st gen SSDs.

Memory:
If it were me, I'd save money by getting 1333 speed with value ram sticks and spend that money on a bigger gpu, cpu, or mobo. 8gb is fine for anything today.

Case:
Upgrade to a better case if your looking to overclock and or Xfire/Sli in the future for better airflow.

PSU:
If you plan to get the 6950, unlock it to 6970 and then Xfire it. I'd suggest atleast 850W maybe even 1000.

Heatsinks: If you don't overclock, stock is fine. If you overclock, make sure to have a nice heatsink/fan combo.

Monitor:
For >350cd/m2, your looking at at least $800 for a decent one. If your willing to do <300 then Newegg has plenty under $200.

Open for fixes and mistakes. Thanks.

Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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11-17-2011, 04:05 AM, (This post was last modified: 11-17-2011, 04:07 AM by CCOULON.)
#3
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
Thanks for your very quick response!
I've taken some of what you've said and managed to piece together a few components for two prospective systems (AMD and Intel)

The AMD System I am looking at:
AMD Phenom II X4 965 ($129.99)
Radeon HD 6870 1GB ($169.99)
ASUS M5A99X EVO AM3+ ($144.99)
OR
Sabertooth 990FX AM3+ ($189.99)
Both of these boards looked good, but I was not sure If I would be losing anything important with the cheaper board while the more expensive one was very highly recommended.

Intel system:
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge ($214.99)
SAPPHIRE 100312-3L Radeon HD 6950 2GB ($264.99)
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO LGA 1155 Intel Z68 ($209.99)


The rest of the two builds will probably be the same parts so right now I'm looking at roughly a $200 difference and both can be overclocked in the future. At this point I am a bit of a novice and it would be nice not to have to overclock right away but it is something that I would like to learn how to do. You mentioned as long as I am not overclocking, stock Cpu fans are acceptable is this the case only with AMD or also with Intel Processors? (I have read many negative reviews about stock Intel cpu fans) Is the Intel system worth the $200 extra?

I also saw this memory and was wondering if it is a good deal:
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ($29.99)

Is there a noticeable difference in CAS latency 7 vs. 9 for gaming?

For the Drives I think I will wait until January to order since Flooding has risen current prices.
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11-17-2011, 01:11 PM,
#4
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
For the two AMD boards, the only real difference I see is that the Sabertooth is tougher and deals with heat better. If you plan to overclock down the road, spending $45 more might be a good idea. Assuming you will buy the Phenom to overclock, I'd suggest getting the Sabertooth.

Unless you want the extra features of the ASUS Mobo, or want Intel's SSD Caching and Quicksync, you can get a p67 board such as the ASrock extreme4 gen3 for $40 less. The extreme4 even has PCI 3.0 so you can be more future proof if you ever want to upgrade to Ivy Bridge and PCI 3.0 Video Cards.

I have the i5 2500 non k version with a P67 board. With turbo boost, it is more than enough overclocking than I need. I figured most games are bottlenecked by the GPU anyways, so overclocking wasn't going to be much help for me. This also saved by money by not needing to buy a separate heatsink and cooler right away. (Though I eventually bought one.) I think many of the bad reviews come from people trying to overclock with then stock fan. If you want to overclock later on, get the i5 2500k but remember it is pretty much required that you also buy a better heatsink/fan later on when you overclock.

If you overclock your i5 2500k, and unlock your 6950 to a 6970, the Intel build would kill the AMD build.

Here is Anand's bench on 6970 vs 6870
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/292?vs=290

i5 2500k vs Phenom II X4 965
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=288
These are non-overclocked results.

Lower RAM CAS latency is usually better. If they are same price, same amount of memory, then get the lower CAS latency. I wouldn't spend more money on a 7 compared to a 9 though. Though you wont need more than 8gb of ram right now, you might want to buy sticks of 4gb instead of 2gb sticks for future proofing. 2 sticks of 1600 heatsink 4gb RAM will cost as low as $45. Its totally your call though, those RAM sticks look fine too.
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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11-17-2011, 03:13 PM,
#5
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
Thanks, does Intel's SSD Caching contribute much to running an SSD more efficiently? I do plan to have one for my boot and game drive.

Thanks again.
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11-17-2011, 03:39 PM,
#6
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
I'd say its less efficient with SSD Caching. According to,
http://www.anandtech.com/show/4329/intel...g-review/5
It is more consistent with SSD being stand alone. While SSD caching does help the speed of programs, it does so with less consistency meaning sometimes it will give you HDD performance. I think its easier to install programs you want to run at full SSD on the SSD without caching, and storage on a HDD. Also, especially if this is your first build, its easier and simpler to troubleshoot if your having problems.
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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11-18-2011, 12:42 PM,
#7
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
Thanks yet again, the motherboard you suggested is awesome! I read up a bit on SSD caching and it seems as though inconsistency only occurs if you are accessing more than 20GB (the capacity of Intel's cash) at any one time, since I don't usually run many programs at once and certainly, when I am gaming I only have the game running, doesn't sound like the inconsistency should be an issue, I was looking at the Asrock z68 extreme4 cen3 board, still cheaper than the Ausus but allows me to use the caching feature.

I think I'm pretty set on most of the parts now, and I was hoping to pick up parts if I see any great deals over the next few months and if not probably ordering the remainder until mid January. I won't be able to test any products until end of January-Possibly even early Feb. Are there any parts I should definitely not order months in advance no matter the deal so that I can test them before 30 days are up? Sounds like this would be the smart thing to do with SSDs.
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11-18-2011, 02:14 PM,
#8
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
I think with an SSD, you can hook it up to your current PC and tinker around with it there, but I don't know the process of transferring your windows onto the SSD and how that all works out.
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11-18-2011, 11:56 PM,
#9
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
The z68 version of that board is also a nice choice, just a tad bit more expensive. Though all the parts should have warranties, it takes a while to get your items back if they are defected. I wouldn't get any parts yet if you can't test them. If you can't resist, you risk the chance of dealing with the manufactures instead of newegg or amazon.
Desktop: CPU: Intel Core i5 2500 3.30GHz RAM: G.Skill 8GB MOBO: ASRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3 Video Card: SLI MSI Nvidia GeForce GTX 460 768 SSD: Corsair Force 3 60GB HDD: Samsung F3 1TB Sound: Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Mouse: Storm Sentinal Z3RO-G Keyboard: Das Keyboard Silent/Filco Majestouch 2 Speakers: Behringer MS-16 Headphones: Alessandro MS-1/Shure SRH440 modded Router: D-Link Xtreme DIR-655 Monitor: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM De-anti-glared Laptop: Lenovo Thinkpad X120e/Thinkpad T430
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11-19-2011, 01:29 PM,
#10
RE: Build suggestions and Advice (First build)
Thanks for all the information it was very helpful!
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