Do-It-Yourself PC Suggestion Corner

Discussion in 'Games' started by The_Chim, Nov 15, 2011.

  1. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    I have recently decided to take the plunge into building my own PC. Some of you may laugh (Flarestorm especially) that I could ever accomplish such a feat but that was the old me. The new me needs a new Speak'n'Spell as it were. It has been a while since I had a PC capable of handling games less than five years old and I can no longer ignore the onslaught of great and hardware demanding games on the market. I have spent long nights scouring the internet for reviews on components and decided that instead of buying a Gaming rig outright it would be better, more cost efficient and fun to build it from scratch. So I am looking for any advice or tips any of you out there may have on this first timer.

    I am buying it components by component at about $200-300 chip as I can afford them from Tigerdirect currently. Two months into it I have my...
    Corsair Graphite 600T Mid Tower, Corsair GS 800 Power Supply, Corsair H80 Liquid CPU Cooler and Corsair Force GT SSD.

    Possibly a random assortment of components to get but I bought them in this order because they went with the sales and rebates going on with Tiger. Because of this I have about $90 in rebates heading my way in the next few weeks, which I will in turn funnel back into this machine. I have the majority of the rest (Mobo, CPU, RAM, Bluray Drive, HDD and Windows) already picked out as follows...again open to suggestions.

    Motherboard
    I am trying to 'future' proof my machine as much as possible so I am going with a higher end ASUS P8Z68 Deluxe Intel Z68. I have heard nothing but good things from Asus and their BIOS features but I am open to suggestion and recommendations.

    CPU
    I think it should be Intel Core i7-2600K, the current finest. Was thinking of getting an i5 but I don't know. Might as well splurge and go all out for once in my life. I'll watch prices and make a game time decision.

    RAM
    Memory I was looking to use all my mobos RAM slots so probably 16 gigs, something like Corsair Vengeance 16GB DDR3 RAM. They make such quality and reasonably priced components I can't resist.

    Asus has a nice Bluray drive on sale I'll probably nab for $80, Windows 7 64bit is $80 as well, and something in the 1-2 TB region for a secondary HDD (Western Digital or Seagate..whatever is tickling my fancy).

    Graphics Card
    This is really the area I need a lot of help on. I am really torn on what GPU to get, Hell I don't even know what manufacturer to go with. I want a Nvidia but also open to suggestion, they just seem better right now. Plus there are a lot of nice card makers out there, at first I was strictly looking at EVGA and now I am kind of shopping around again. Seeing some nice deals.

    So do I get the most expensive card I can afford? Do I get two medium or lower end cards and SLI them? I want something preferably with 2gigs GDDR5 on it so that slims the playing field by a good margin. All the talks of GTX XYZ Ti, Superclocked, Overclocked, wth is all of this? I am leery of anything overclocked because heating then becomes an issue, friends say he had an overclocked model and it pooped out within a year. So after that wall o
  2. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I built my own PC earlier this year, though I'd say my budget was about half yours from the looks of it. :p

    CPU - I went with an i5 personally, as games aren't generally CPU-bound. You'll probably hit the limits of your graphics card and RAM before you start thinking it's time to upgrade your CPU - I've got friends who pair high-end graphics cards with midrange CPUs like the i5 without any trouble (and one friend who decided to go with an i3, though I'm not so sure how that turned out). That said, if your budget can fit it in, why not?

    Graphics - I'd just check out a chart like the one on Tom's Hardware and keep going down until you hit one that fits your budget. I don't know anything about SLI vs getting a better card (I was building a mATX and could only fit one), but that website will probably have arguments for and against as well. And AMD vs nVidia is more of a religious issue than anything else, in my opinion.

    Hard drive - have you considered getting a SSD? They're a little on the pricey side, maybe $200 for a 120GB model, but that was the best upgrade I've ever made. Everything loads in no time at all, it's amazing. (You'll run out of space fast if that's your only drive, of course - I have a 2TB hard drive as well, and regularly swap out games I'm not currently playing.)
  3. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    Oh yeah I have an SSD set up right now. This little guy right here, and also yes I do plan on having another 1-2 TB HDD as the backup for the games and programs and junk but I don't need that right now so I'll snag it after the holiday sales hit. I am excited to see how fast the SSD is so I'll propbably keep Windows and a minimum of things on it until I figure out the best route to take.

    Purchase update
    11/20/11
    Tiger is running a nice rebate/appreciation sale starting this week and into 12/15/11. I am buying 64x Home Windows 7 and with it 16GB of Corsair RAM so it activates the $20 rebate for Windows and the $20 instant Holiday Appreciation rebate code they'll email me at the end of the month. THEN sometime in the next two-three weeks I am going to use that extra $20 to get my mobo.
  4. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    If you're going to stick with an i7, the 2600k has been replaced by the 2700k, it was released pretty quietly after AMD released their most recent chips.

    16GB is more than you'll need for a while, 4GB is still plenty.

    What are you looking at as budget for GFX? AMD's HD 6970 is probably the best p4p card at the moment, stick with the 1GB version as there is no impact on performance, it goes as hard as the 2GB version.

    What I've heard is that nVidia's cards are good but they run quite hot, though I've never had problems with them myself.

    SSD - wise decision, keep your 'flavour of the month' games on there, loading textures etc is quick-as then.

    How about PhysX? May it be worth having a less expensive secondary/tertiary GFX card as your dedicated PhysX card? > http://uk.geforce.com/hardware/technology/physx

    Mobo - If you run SLI / Xfire, rather than PCIe 2.0 x16 the two cards will run at x8/x8. Just letting you know, not sure if you can get mobo's that do both at x16 without spending much more.

    Also... PCIe 3.0 is available now, it might be worth going for a mobo supporting that tech?
  5. The Loyal Imperial Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 19, 2007
    star 6
    Never had any problems with NVIDIA, and my current card does fine with every game I've got (and they usually do pretty well with games with requirements they don't quite meet, too).
  6. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    4GB is not "plenty", not really - I mean, it's a good amount to have, but you can max it out real quick and not notice because Windows does a good job of swapping things in and out of virtual memory. I have 4GB, and when I once turned off the page file to reorganize my hard drive (long story) I had a game crash on me when I forgot to turn it back on. You can get away with it, you don't need more than 4GB, but if your budget can fit it in there's no reason not to go up to 8/12/16. It sounds to me like you're building your dream machine, so why not?

    Re graphics, have you seen Tom's Hardware's Best Graphics Cards For The Money list? I find their recommendations are usually pretty good, and they also have a quick one-paragraph dual-vs-single card rundown on the page.
  7. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    What I meant was that there aren't many applications that will utilise more than 4Gb, and page files are on by default for a reason, turning it off is always going to cause issues.
  8. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    It's true that any given application probably won't require more than 2-3GB RAM. I think it's because adoption of 64bit OSs is still not widespread, and requiring more than that amount locks out everyone with a 32bit OS. (And there's the odd game that deliberately restricts the amount of RAM it can use, like Skyrim, which has to be modded before it'll use more than 2GB. Not sure why they did that.)

    Which is why I say you don't need more, but it's good to have, especially if you have a habit of running many things at once (like I do). You don't need an i7 or the most expensive video card you can afford, either, but if you're future-proofing you might as well go all the way.

    As for pagefiles, if you have enough RAM, you don't need a page file. The purpose of a page file is to increase the amount of available RAM beyond what you have physically installed, so you could conceivably turn it off and run solely off installed RAM, if you have enough of it. It'll be faster, too. Using a page file is always going to be slower than having more RAM because using it involves swapping things in and out of your hard drive. (Which is also why I say a decent compromise is setting your page file to run off a SSD, as it's flash memory and therefore fast, but I'm not 100% sure if this is a good idea as I think SSDs have a lifespan measured in read/write accesses so paging off it might reduce the SSD's lifespan.)
  9. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    There we go, yeah discussion! This is exactly what I was looking for because I need help deciding.

    As far as budget for my GPU... well that has changed around A LOT. I originally was looking at a single GTX 550. Then I thought well, why not two? Then I thought well I will get the most expensive card I can that is 2GB. But after research it seems that a single beefier card (ie GTX 580) is a better way to go, plus later on I can SLI them if I need more. So with that in mind I am looking at an EVGA GTX 580. Ideally I would like a two gig card, so I was also looking at this same EVGA 580 only...more expensive, thoughts there?

    As for the nVidia cards running hot I was also looking at PNY's GTX 580. I like that idea a lot actually. The liquid cooling/fan/radiator combos on processors seem very worth it, so the same for GPUs are probably even better.

    Yes the Mobo I ordered can in fact use PCIe 3.0, should that also influence my GPU purchase decision?
  10. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    It kind of does and it kind of doesn't.

    To the best of my knowledge, there are no PCIe 3.0 graphics cards on the market right now. Best-case scenario, the next generation of video cards will support it, but at the moment that's wishful thinking and nobody knows for sure yet. And of course nobody knows how good these hypothetical PCIe 3.0 cards will be, how much better they are compared to 2.0, etc etc...

    So it's all about whether you want to bet on there being awesome PCIe 3.0 cards in the new future, or not. You could (1) buy a midrange graphics card now and hope they'll release PCIe 3.0 cards in the near future so you can upgrade (and "suffer" with midrange graphics in the meantime); (2) buy a top-range graphics card now and not upgrade until it's outdated, as usual; or (3) buy a top-range graphics card now, and upgrade anyway when PCIe 3.0 cards are out (that's not as expensive as it sounds, because you should be able to resell the card you're replacing).

    I would personally go with a great card right now, and not worry about PCIe 3.0 cards at all until it came time to upgrade. I think the current generation of graphics cards haven't really been pushed to the limits yet, not really, because most games nowadays are cross-platform with consoles and the current-gen consoles are 5 years old. Besides, every single top-end component you buy today will be eclipsed by a new release within six months anyway ... if you start planning your purchases with an eye for stuff that's yet to be released, you might end up with a crippling case of buyer's remorse. :p Might as well buy the best right now and enjoy it.
  11. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    Yeah it was my understanding that nothing really needed the PCIe 3.0 yet. I was hoping that having anything in a PCIe3.0 slot would improve the performance of the 2.0 device, it is my impression that is not the case so as for now it is solely there for future proofing so I am hoping this is one of the components I won't need to replace in the next 2-5 years.

    I need to do some more research I think. This SLI or single discrete card has me going back and forth a lot. I have been thinking that for the time being just getting a GTX 550 or two or maybe a single 570 and using that for a while to enjoy games I have been wanting to play then upgrading later to two 580s or 590s. This is my first build after all and I want it to be an enjoyable experience and not too frustrating and all I have heard is horror stories with SLI/crossfire setups....not sure I am up for that right now.
  12. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    What about buying one 580 now, and then buying another one later on? That gives you a clear and simple upgrade path as well - one graphics card now, another (identical) one in a year or two when you start hitting the limits of what one card can do. You'll also have a better handle on how your build fits together by then.

    edit: The GTX 580 got a favourable review, but the conclusion notes that AMD might be releasing a new graphics card before the end of the year as well, if that affects your decision.
  13. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    That Tom's Hardware article regarding GFX cards was really good Xan, thanks.

    I would go with what Xan suggested, a single GOOD card, this will give you the expansion capability going forward.

    FYI - The page file is also used for dump files if the system crashes so always keep a smaller page file on your system drive (2% of total RAM with Server 2003, IIRC, so not a lot) and your main page file on a separate physical disk.

    According to some digging I was doing yesterday, the i7-2700k I recommended is actually just a 2600k with it's multiplier bumped up by 1. They are supposed to be the best of the bunch and offer increased stability when overclocked so it might not be worthwhile. The 2700k can surpass the magic 5 ghz mark but, if you're not overclocking why bother?

    Use good thermal paste when installing the heat sink, Arctic Silver 5 is awesome, I also used this when I fixed my RROD Xbox > http://www.arcticsilver.com/as5.htm

    There's a test of 80 (lol) different ones and also links to a guide on applying > http://benchmarkreviews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=150&Itemid=62

  14. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    Getting the GTX 580 seems like the best choice really. I'd only do the lesser two SLI cards to put a rush on my gaming because I can afford the $300 over $500 right now, especially with Christmas coming up I'm going to have to wait. But the wait will be worth it, especially with the main idea being to SLI two 580s. That said I hope they do release a new GPU in that time so it drives the price down on the 580s. I have no intention on getting it this year so feel free AMD!

  15. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    If you haven't bought a CPU yet, this article has a compelling argument for not buying anything better than an i5-2500k.

    ... I know this is the third or so Tom's Hardware article I've posted. :p They're the tech site I like best, because their articles are generally clear, concise, and realistic in terms of what people might find important. And they have nice cheat sheets like this one if you're just interested in "what can I buy for $X?" (I usually find myself in this situation, TBH)
  16. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    I was thinking just that but based on SSD purchase, GFX, 16GB RAM etc I didn't bring it up :p
  17. FlareStorm Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2000
    star 6
    I bought that same CPU cooler, works great

    My most recent upgrade I worked a lot on cooling and read about it. Most important is airflow, rather than just shoving fans in. That cooler blows out, so you want a 120mm fan in front blowing in (if the case supports it)

    I also got a ram cooler, fan for a front case slot, and a chipset fan. However, mobos only have 2 3 pin fan power slots, so I'm looking for adapters so I can run it off the power supply.

    That case doesn't look like it has a front usb port. I use mine all the time with thumb drives. Get an expansion for that

    120 gb ssd is going to be filled up in like five minutes. I guess you could install Windows on it and run other stuff off a regular drive, or put your current game on it. That's a bother though. IMEO they are too expensive and small to bother with at this time

    Storage, 1tb is plenty for me (and I have a LOT of porn). If you shop around you can find 2 tb for <$150. I wouldn't spend more than that though, you'd just be paying for gimmicks.

    Always include a floppy drive. When everything breaks, it will save your butt

    Video cards...meh, more expensive the better. To do SLI, both cards must be IDENTICAL. So if you are filthy rich, and the board has the right slots...have at it. Otherwise get the best NVidia you can afford. I've always used Nvidia cards, the drivers are easy to find. Cant say I have experience with other brands though.

    Get a card with two monitor outputs, and get two monitors. Cuz it's awesomesauce. Even with two cheap monitors

    And I recently upgraded from 4gb RAM to 8gb and saw no performance increase in anything with Windows 7. I guess there is stuff I can do with my cache and stuff, but I don't see it helping a lot. IMEO investing in more than 8 gigs is a waste of money. By the time stuff actually uses 8 gigs, we will be at DDR4 or 7 or something

    You mentioned rebates. If you get those at all, its going to be 2-6 MONTHS. No amount of calling customer service or investigating is going to help. Don't depend on that money. It's intentionally set up to be a quagmire and really slow so they don't have to pay it out.
  18. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    Yeah airflow is important, intake at the front and side, exhaust at the back and top of the case if possible for the best effect (from what I've read).

    The SSD - Windows 7 requires an HDD with at least 20gb to install, more for future updates etc. Seriously though Flare, it makes things awesomely good. I/O is nearly always the bottleneck with gaming, loading textures and the like. As I said, keep it for your favourite couple of games / apps and use the standard HDD as your file store.

    I have an external (USB) floppy disk if I ever need one, luckily there haven't been many situations where my Ubuntu disk hasn't been able to resolve the issue.

  19. FlareStorm Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2000
    star 6
    ok ok, I'll admit I haven't used one. Too expensive for me.

    Be awesome to make this though: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96dWOEa4Djs
  20. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    Ooh, I remember that video! It came out a couple of years ago and everyone was all "omg".

    Same. :p I ended up linking it because that article is also an argument for getting an even better CPU.
  21. FlareStorm Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2000
    star 6
    so not to hijack Chim's thread, but I will

    Spend $120 on a SSD, put Windows on it and whatever game you are playing...it should run like gold, right? Has anyone actually tried this in real life?

    And about the page file. Trust me, I worked at Microsoft. There is no way you can tweak your computer to put the page file in memory, to not have a page file at all. The page file is sooooo ingrained in Windows, that no amount of Ram is going to alleviate you of it. It must be

    You COULD put it on a separate fast SATA drive, if you have a spare. It would improve Windows performance
  22. FlareStorm Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 13, 2000
    star 6
    Also Chim, you can't "future proof" your motherboard and processor. I'm sure while searching around got confused on what slots the motherboard supports, and which processor is that slot. Your LGA1155 processor is not going to fit in anything but a motherboard that supports LGA1155

    LGA1155 will be gone in a year. There will be LGA3325 or something. Jerks intentionally keep changing the slot types so when you want to upgrade, you have to do both the motherboard and processor.

    Get a decent motherboard/processor, should be good for years. Just a heads up
  23. DarthXan318 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Sep 12, 2002
    star 6
    I have - well, I don't have Windows on my SSD because I was too lazy to reinstall it, but I really should get around to that one of these days. My friend did and his boot times are insane.

    Games runs like a dream. Seriously, loading times are completely nonexistent (I'm more constrained by the movies they overlay loading screens with) to the point where, say, I start up a new game of Civilization V and the voiceover only has time to say "HAIL GLORIOUS LEADER" before the start button appears. Zone transitions in RPGs are seamless. It's lovely. Best purchase ever.
  24. The_Chim Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 16, 2001
    star 6
    Hijack away friends! I need all the discussion I can get. Tom's Hardware articles have actually popped up in the top 3 Google searches more often than not and I agree with you. They have good articles written for people that kinda know what they are doing but at the same time they aren't babbling about computers constantly.

    I have you're airflow right here. Screw 120mm.... This case came with TWO 200mm fans (one intake in front and one on top) then the two 120mm on either side of the radiator for the liquid radiator and finally a side fan on the mesh right by where the video cards will go. Also the front has one, two, three... FOUR USB 2.0 and one 3.0 5 USB ports total, as well as the fan control dial, among other things on it. Not too worried about anything with the case.

    Perhaps future proofing is the wrong term. I went to best buy today and looked at the specs on Skyrim, The Witcher 2, Crysis 2, etc and they don't even come CLOSE to any i7, 16GB RAM, GTX 580, or any of the stuff I want and have in this machine. So my plan in 'future proofing' is to make it last until the games start having this rig's stats as minimum requirements, feel me? I don't care if 1155 is gone in a year, the processors they release with whatever new socket isn't going to be better than 3.7 gigglehertz or overclock to 5.0 for that matter. The Motherboard I am going for has room to grow with PCIe 3.0, USB 3.0, SATA RAID, all that. I actually hope they come out with a new socket and processor before I can get my i7 so it is cheaper.

    EDIT: Oh and I am counting on the rebates for probably getting the final components or the games themselves. I have $95 $50 of which has been received, processed and sent so...yeah. Let them drag their feet, I am in no rush hence why I am buying it chunk by chunk.
  25. Jedi_Matt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 11, 2002
    star 4
    I might be wrong, but AFAIK LGA1155 is going to be around for the new IvyBridge processors.

    They've come up with LGA2011 for the new extreme processors that cost shed loads but I think we're safe with LGA1155 for a couple of years.