Final draft of gaming pc

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Solumnant
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Final draft of gaming pc

Postby Solumnant » Tue May 03, 2011 7:34 pm UTC

So this is basically the final draft of the pc I'm going to be building: http://amzn.com/w/TCA5IT4QKXOV

I'm planning on splitting the cost 3 ways with my younger brothers. I've already purchased windows 7 64 bit.

I'm going to be using this computer to play relatively modern games, like lost cause 2 and crysis 2, along with the next Elder scrolls game when it comes out. I'm planning on buying the motherboard after the z68 comes out because I'm hoping that will drive the price of the p67 down. I'm also planning on buying another gtx 560 ti and running it in SLI once the next generation of graphics processors come out, because that should double the performance with a slightly lower cost- I'm hoping the new graphics cards will drive the price of the 560 down a little.

The two things I'm worried about are, one- whether the power supply will work with my setup, and two, whether I can go with ram at 1600 mhz or whether I should stick with 1333 mhz, because they both come at the same price. I'm also wondering whether I'll need any extra items for cooling or whether the stock coolers will be enough.

I am not planning on overclocking.

Suggestions welcome.
Last edited by Solumnant on Wed May 04, 2011 1:34 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

2.71828183
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby 2.71828183 » Tue May 03, 2011 11:45 pm UTC

Why do you need the sound card? The motherboard has perfectly serviceable onboard audio.

That motherboard seems expensive to me, but I guess that's what you have to pay for x8/x8 PCI-E slots. I'm not a gamer, so I don't feel qualified to comment.

I don't see why 1600 MHz RAM wouldn't work with that setup, but I wouldn't pay any more for it. Outside of synthetic benchmarks, RAM speed has very little performance impact, particularly so if the timings are relaxed to make the higher frequency.

The stock cooler will be fine if you don't overclock in terms of thermals. I've always found them to be a bit whiny and annoying, though. If you care about acoustics (and if the SLI'ed video cards don't completely overwhelm everything else . . .), then you might spring for an aftermarket heatsink with a nice quiet 120mm fan. This will give you room to overclock if you decide to in the future, though you'd have to move up to the 2500k to get much out of it. The internet says there's lots of overclocking performance on the table for SNB, but I don't have experience with them.

Oh, and that power supply looks fine. I'm not sure whether the higher efficiency will ever pay for itself (it's a lot more expensive than the 80+ Bronze one), but if you keep it through several builds it might.

GeorgeH
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby GeorgeH » Wed May 04, 2011 12:06 am UTC

A lot of this will just echo the above, but I typed it so it's going to get posted:

PSU will work fine. Spending that much I'd prefer a Seasonic for no good reason other than I like the brand, but that Corsair is a very nice unit. You could also easily step it down to a 550-650W unit, as even with two 560s in SLI you're not going to be even coming close to 750W.

1333 vs 1600 is academic; there will be no noticeable performance difference. Get whichever looks shinier.

Stock coolers work just fine. After you put the machine together you might want to stop the case and CPU HSF fans for a few seconds (use a pencil or your finger to gradually slow then stop the fan) to see if quieter fans and/or a fancy HSF are worth it to you.

Other thoughts:
If that motherboard is what you really want, keep in mind that in SLI it looks like only 1 PCI slot will be available, so either the soundcard or the wireless card will have to go (or change it to PCIe.) Personally I'd boot the soundcard; like most "audiophile" stuff it's easy to convince yourself that discrete sounds better, but blindfolded you might not be able to tell. My ears can sometimes tell that they sound different, but it's been a very long time since I've used an integrated solution that I thought sounded worse.

It wasn't clear to me whether or not you might be interested in a Z68 board, but one of Z68's features is SSD caching (transparently using a small SSD to speed up a HDD.) It's anyone's guess how well it'll work at this point, but if it's anything like the boost Seagate got from their Momentus XT it'd be well worth paying a little extra for.

I know you said no overclocking, but I'm going to throw out the 2500K one last time. OC'ing that chip isn't like it has been in the past, where you sometimes had to mess with graphite pencils, fiddly voltages, FSBs, and other "arcane" tweaks perhaps best left to the adventurous. With the 2500K all you literally have to do is click a couple of buttons and enjoy a very healthy speed boost - it's so easy that your grandmother could do it (incredibly cheesy video, but it gets the point across.) For an extra ~$30 you'll get a CPU that's easily 20%+ faster; there are no guarantees, but ~4.5GHz should be trivial to achieve. Even if it's not "worth it" today, in a few years when SB isn't the new hotness anymore you'll be able to crank up your clockspeed and keep your PC relevant.

If Newegg isn't a problem for you they might have slightly better deals on some of those parts, and have a store and customer service that's second to none. If you live near a MicroCenter, they also have fantastic CPU+Motherboard deals - but they're in-store only.

I'd rather see you get a 6950 2GB if you have plans of doing a multiple GPU setup. The 1GB framebuffer on the 560 is on the cusp of being a limitation in SLI, and if you're keeping the rig for at least 3 years it'd be wiser to spend a little more now.

Parsifal
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby Parsifal » Wed May 04, 2011 11:16 am UTC

That's a decent build and the PSU will be sufficient. I wouldn't pay more for a 750W one just for a more efficient unit because in all likelihood it will still fail before the upgrade pays for itself. Also, I agree that a $30 sound card like the Xonar is a waste of money compared to using the onboard audio, especially with a beefy CPU. In fact, I don't plan to purchase a sound card with my next System even though I am using an X-fi platinum PCIe card now - the support for EAX has been diminishing year by year and it simply isn't worth the hassle of upgrading the drivers anymore.

Finally, you can still have a few bucks off by eliminating redundant or overpriced parts
- the $100 headphones, especially if you've never tried them in person
- the flash card
- the cheapo speakers
- the sound card - you can ditch it, gain a free slot for SLI later and I strongly doubt you will notice a difference in audio fidelity

I'd still advise trimming some fat and going for an i7 over the i5.

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GenericAnimeBoy
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby GenericAnimeBoy » Wed May 04, 2011 2:43 pm UTC

The quality of sound on the integrated card isn't really going to be any different from a cheap discrete sound card. However, the quality of the sound chipset's physical connections might have sufffered considerably from the manufacturer's careless design choices, which often raises the noise floor siginificantly on the analog outputs. My box has a nasty whine in the front headphone port because of this issue. YMMV if you're using Analog outs.
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EvanED
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby EvanED » Wed May 04, 2011 3:09 pm UTC

At the very least you can plan on using the onboard sound, and if it sucks then go out and get another card. I have an Audigy 2 ZS Platinum in my box, and I don't use it because I couldn't tell a difference between it and the onboard one, and unlike the A2, the onboard sound continues to work after being woken up from suspend.

(Also, unless you've tried your headphone selection and know you like them, I'd recommend looking at either the Senn HD-280s or the Grados SR-60i or SR-80i. See if you can find a local audio shop that sells them, and try them out in person. If you do this, and like the Grados, you might as well buy there; they'll be the same price as any place you can find that sells them new. I have the SR-80s and love them, and lots of people recommend the HD-280s. Except for the SR-80i, they are less expensive than the ones you selected based on current Amazon prices, and the SR-80i is only slightly more expensive.)

GeorgeH
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby GeorgeH » Wed May 04, 2011 4:49 pm UTC

Parsifal wrote:I'd still advise trimming some fat and going for an i7 over the i5.


The only 1155 i7 is the 2600, and its only real advantage over the 2500 is hyperthreading. Hyperthreading can be nice, but it has a nasty habit of slowing down your PC in certain cases. Right now gaming can be one of those; in AnandTech's review, the 2600 was slower than the 2500 in 4/10 tests. This is despite the minor clockspeed and cache advantage that should have put the 2600 just over the 2500 in every single test. If the 2500 had been given a tiny 100MHz bump to match the 2600, it'd probably have been an even 50/50 split as to which one is faster.

It's really not worth spending ~50%/$100 more on the 2600 just so you can have an "i7" sticker and a 50/50 chance of being marginally slower in games.

Parsifal
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby Parsifal » Wed May 04, 2011 8:49 pm UTC

To clarify - I'm not necessarily suggesting sticking with the 1155. If there is a reason to do so other than price, I didn't catch it. In fact, weren't a sizable batch of Sandy Bridge motherboards recalled due to faulty SATA ports? Other than power consumption, I doubt there is any reason to go for the 2600 over the similarly priced 960 (see link for suggested pricing).

http://ark.intel.com/ProductCollection.aspx?familyID=28037&MarketSegment=DT

GeorgeH
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby GeorgeH » Wed May 04, 2011 9:35 pm UTC

Stock, the 2500 is faster than a 960 (and a 2600 is faster than a 990X.) If you throw overclocking into the mix, it's not even close; a typical overclocked 2500K will wipe the floor with a typical overclocked 960. The SATA bug has been fixed.

LGA-1366 (the 960's platform) is dead. The 1366/1156 dichotomy will be replaced with a 2011/1155 split sometime later this year.

KingofMadCows
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby KingofMadCows » Fri May 06, 2011 8:30 pm UTC

SLI is not worth it. That card will last you a long time. By the time you want to SLI, you'll be better off buying a new video card.

You don't need 8GB of RAM. You can either get 2 x 2GB or one 4 GB stick and get more later if you need to.

Parsifal
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby Parsifal » Sat May 07, 2011 1:14 pm UTC

GeorgeH is correct. I have been out of the market since building my stock i7 920 (which has had great longevity for the price), but I I ran the benchmark most favorable to my system, multithreaded Cinebench r10 64 bit, and it comes in ahead of all the i5s except the 2500k and 2600k, but significantly behind those.

KingofMadCows
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby KingofMadCows » Sat May 07, 2011 10:08 pm UTC

The X58 motherboards are still significantly more expensive than the P67 motherboards.

In terms of gaming. The Phenom II X4's will have no problem with any game out now or even games that are on the horizon. We'll probably have to wait until the next generation of consoles comes out before getting games that require a state of the art computer.

GeorgeH
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby GeorgeH » Sat May 07, 2011 11:53 pm UTC

That's not entirely true. With a GTX480 at 1080p with alll of the eye candy turned on, a Phenom II X4 970 gets ~32fps in Starcraft II while an i5-2400 gets ~45fps - Source. Phenom II really competes with Intel's Core 2 line; while both can still hold their own decently enough, they're getting pretty old.

KingofMadCows
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby KingofMadCows » Sun May 08, 2011 2:57 am UTC

RTS's are more CPU dependent so they are an exception, as are some crappy console ports. Although I don't think there are that many big budget RTS games coming out any time soon other than the Starcraft 2 sequels and I think a new Age of Empires game. Heck, a lot of games are limited by poor optimization rather than hardware. Plus the Phenom II's are pretty easy to overclock. Most 955's can be overclocked to 4 GHz with a good case and aftermarket cooler.

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CHR1110
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Re: Final draft of gaming pc

Postby CHR1110 » Mon May 16, 2011 10:39 pm UTC

KingofMadCows wrote:SLI is not worth it. That card will last you a long time. By the time you want to SLI, you'll be better off buying a new video card.

You don't need 8GB of RAM. You can either get 2 x 2GB or one 4 GB stick and get more later if you need to.


I completely agree on both of these points. Any "current" game is going to pull 2, maybe 2.5-2.75 GB of RAM. I just did a gaming rig build for myself, and I used 4. No difference in performance at all. In fact, I'm not even using all four while I'm gaming, I usually have about 1GB sitting empty. Save yourself the money, and either pocket it, or put it into something else.
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