Building my first gaming rig! Noob with questions!
I'm building my first gaming rig to play some BF4 when it comes out. As of right now, I haven't played a PC game since D2:LoD p1.08. For those that don't know, that is cobwebs of the past!
I don't have much experience building a computer ever but I kind of understand how they work. I have a set rig with components ready, but I'm wondering whether I should buy some parts that are on sale now, or just wait completely til the release date of BF4? How will price fluxuate (sp), will there be new, faster, affordable hardware later in the fall quarter of this year?
That last question is my main concern and if anyone has any information or input than please do so!
With all that said here's my choice of hardware so far:
If you're interested in saving some cash, BM stores have great loss leader CPU deals. I found the CPU you're using in a Micro Center BM for $159 OEM. Also, Intel CPUs do not become much cheaper over time. For example, Lynnfield parts (Core i7-980X, for example) are not cheaper than they were 24 months ago. However, AMD parts (CPU is not that important in gaming) do go on clearance. For example, Phenom II X4 parts are about $90 these days.
There will be newer, faster hardware in the Fall but likely at the same price points. Intel's Haswell architecture should arrive this summer as a replacement for Ivy Bridge.
Intel usually doesn't clearance out older stuff so it's likely you won't find too many deals on prices. If you are interested in used stuff, those prices usually are forced down.
I would wait until Haswell comes out before deciding anything; unless you just cant' wait that long.
I also think there is definitely better stuff for the money than what you've listed. I'd stay away from Thermaltake PSUs. You shouldn't need a separate NIC since they are almost always integrated into the motherboards. The Cooler Master Hyper 212+ is a cheaper HSF that gives good performance. I have a tendency to go with ASUS motherboards myself but there are a lot of people with positive and negative experiences with any of the manufactures.
There will always be newer and faster hardware out there. At this point, I say wait at least until Haswell comes out so that you can get some deals on the current generation when they go on clearance. If you want the latest in technology, then you can wait til then but you will likely pay more than the former due to early adoption of the new tech.
Point is... the build that you currently have listed in the OP will cost you less than what they would right now. It's just up to you on whether you want to spend the extra money or if you would like to get the latest when it comes out, etc.
As for which graphics card you'll need, it will really depend on what resolution and what settings you will want to play them on. I'm assuming 1080p resolution and the highest settings possible? I would think that you would need at least a GTX 670 to even think about maxing out the graphics and still get 50-60 fps.
Corsair 800D Case ~~ Intel 3770k CPU @ 4.5 Ghz ~~ EVGA GTX 690 ~~ G.Skill Ripjaws X 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) 2133 RAM ~~ Asus P8Z77-V Premium Motherboard ~~ Intel 520 240 GB SSD ~~ Western Digital Caviar Black 1 TB HDD
Corsair HX850 850 Watt Power Supply Unit
- - - - - - -
FrozenQ Liquid Fusion V UV Blue Helix Reservoir ~~ XSPC Raystorm Intel CPU Water Block ~~ XSPC Razor GTX 690 Full-Cover Water Block ~~ Swifttech MCP655-B High Flow Pump
XSPC RX360 Radiator V2 (3 x Yate Loon 120mm fans @ Med Speed)
et me breakdown in detail what I think you should do:
I have built numerous (5-10 at this point) gaming PC's in the past few years. A couple were for me, a couple for friends/family and I even build some to sell on craigslist if I find great deals on parts). So I have some good experience on the matter, but judging from your post you seem to have a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a nice gaming computer- so trust in whatever you feel is best.
The first thing to consider if do you live near a Microcenter? If you do then it opens up some more possibilities for you in regards to CPU and MOBO. If you don't then I would suggest making some changes.
CPU: That i7 is very nice, for sure, but really overkill for gaming needs. What you want is an unlocked CPU chip, which would be the i7-3770K <-- the K is how you know. It just means that it makes it much simpler to overclock the processor. Again though, an i7 is overkill. If you live near a MicroCenter then maybe it isn't as they have some very good i7+Mobo deals (I've seen the i7 be only $40 more, well worth it, but at $100 more, no way), but if you are going to be ordering online the added performance for cost is just not worth it.
I recommend going for the Intel i5 3570K. Even if you live near a Microcenter, you can get the i5 3570K for $180 and as part of a combo for $260, so if money is tight- don't worry about upgrading to an i7 for even $40 because the money is better spent elsewhere. See a comparison in gaming performance between the i5 and i7. Here's the review techpowerup.com did just last month [techpowerup.com]
As you can see, literally no difference in performance. Now the i7 will beat the i5 out in other tests like computing applications and other junk that I personally don't use, I'm only a gamer. i7 might do a bit better in Battlefield 3 online since that can utilize the 6 cores, but it's still not going to be much of a difference in FPS. It's like how the AMD FX cpu is up to 8 cores, still not as good as an i5 for gaming because almost all games only use 4 cores and that wont be changing for a few years at least, and the i5 has 4 cores as good as anything you can get.
Next up is Motherboard: Again, if you live near a Microcenter you can usually get a nice deal on an i5 3570K and ASRock Z77 Extreme 4 motherboard like this deal from two weeks ago for $265+tax That is going to be your best bet as far as performance and money is concerned.
Now the Z77 platform is going to be the one you want, because of PCIE 3.0, and the Mobo you listed the ASUS Sabertooth is definitely a good one-it certainly looks cool. If you have the money then go ahead and get it, but you won't be seeing any performance increase over the Extreme 4 which is normally $135 verus $240. I like the cooling on the Sabertooth better, but a cpu cooler is more important that the passive motherboard cooling. Another great budget option is this: Biostar Z77 XE3 for $125 [newegg.com]or XE4 for $150. [newegg.com]. I have seen the XE3 for cheaper than $125, I think it was about $100 which makes it an amazing price to performance choice. Biostar doesn't have as good of a name as ASUS or ASRock, but I have used the XE3 and it worked great and I also had a 990 AMD board from Biostar that was great.
So if you have Microcenter you could be at $265 right now, if not.. well I paid $230 for my i5 3570K new from Newegg and $140 for my ECS Z77 Black Edition board used off ebay. You should be able to get an i5 and Z77 motherboard for slightly less now online. I just found this slickdeal for a 3570K+Asus Z77 from Newegg for $285 AR Looking for a deal like that would be your best bet. The motherboard may not look as cool, but it will perform just as well.
Now here is what is literally 4-5X as important as your CPU/MOBO: the Video card. A 660 is alright, but it's not going to blow your socks off. Especially if you are using an i5 or i7 it's going to be the weakest part of your build, actually if you have at least an i5 the graphics card will almost always be the weakest point because it's more of a CPU than you will ever be able to pass its limitations on with current games.
So If you are 100% committed to Nvidia then I suggest you wait to find a good deal on slickdeals for a 660-Ti or better. Ideally nothing less than a 670. The reason why is because of the VRAM and the Bus size of the memory. 2GB VRAM is good, but if you like modding games like Skyrim to have excellent graphics you can really still run out. Newer games will use more VRAM as the graphics look better and better using bigger sized texture files. The 660-Ti has a 192-bit bus size which limits its performance, especially in gaming, when compared to the 670 which has what is commonly accepted as a "standard" 256-bit memory bus size. Having a larger memory bus size will really help with anti-aliasing and other graphical goodies, here's a quick explanation of why bus size matters [hwcompare.com]. Now if you compare the prices between a 660-Ti and 670 I'm seeing slickdeals average about $250-270 versus $330-$350. That's not a tiny price gap, but is well worth it. When you factor in the money you will save going with an i5 and lower budget z77 board (again, I cannot stress enough that doing so will result in almost no difference in gaming performance) which is about $100 from i5 to i7 and over $100 for a ASRock/Biostar compared to Sabertooth z77 you can see that the overall build is still coming in cheaper so far. Giving you enough money to upgrade your video card which again is easily 4-5X more important than your CPU, Especially if you can afford an i5- you don't need to put any more money into upgrading cpu or mobo. you want to focus it on video card.
If you aren't stuck 100% on Nvidia (which there really is no reason to be, unless CUDA cores and PhysX are worth paying more $$ for a card that's still not even as powerful as a similar priced ATI when overclocked) Then I HIGHLY recommend you take a loot at a 7950 or 7970. Doing a quick slickdeals search I see the average deal for these is running about $270 and $360, pricing seems way more consistent than Nvidia card sales. Now the advantage with picking one of these ATI cards if you will get much more VRAM and a much higher memory bus width. Here's a general comparison of 660-Ti to 7950 Specs (not actual benchmarking) [hwcompare.com] Where you can see 7950 destroys 660-Ti. How does this play out in the real-world out of the box? a little differently.. Here's a benchmark of the 660-Ti, 7950, 670, 7970 cards performing in various games [techspot.com]. As you can see the 7000 series are actually better than the Nvidia in Battlefield 3 which was for so long much more favorable to Nvidia cards, why is that? Well most Nvidia fans will tell you that AMD isn't as good as Nvidia when it comes to driver support BUT that saying has been put on its head by this generation of cards where AMD driver support has been tops, so well that they come out on top in Battlefield 3 with even the 7950 beating the 670, which is $60 cheaper. Again, a lot of that is due to the specs. More VRAM, wider memory bus, etc. There is definitely something suspicious about the Borderlands 2 at 1600p benchmark though as the 7000 series should excel at higher resolutions due to the higher VRAM as evidenced in Battlefield 3, so I suspect it's a software issue that hopefully AMD will fix (or has already possibly). You can see it bears out in the other tests that AMD consistently tops more expensive Nvidia cards, especially at the highest resolutions, I play Skyrim a lot and AMD is king there, with the 7950 beating even the 680. [techspot.com]
So here's what you might be wonder: WTF is the 7950 Boost edition? Well it's just a plain 7950, but it comes with an adaptive automatic overclock. Meaning it will overclock itself in situations where there is a lot of demand being put on it, as long as it's within the thermal guidelines. Same thing with the 7970 Ghz, it's a regular old 7970 but overclocked higher out of the box (some say it has better binned memory so should be able to overclock higher, but that has been proven to be a myth or just not a big difference as many people get the same overclock on regular 7970). Now why the hell would AMD release that as a whole new card? Because they made a HUGE MISTAKE when they released the 7950/7970 in setting the core and memory clocks to VERY conservative numbers relative to it's potential Nvidia on the other hand overclocked their cards almost to the max and so the results tend to look favorable when you compared an nvidia and non-ghz/boost AMD card fresh out of the box.
Here's the problem though: you can only overclock a 660/670 an addition maybe 10% from what I've seen from most users. On the other hand I can overclock my MSI R7950 Twin Frozr [newegg.com] which is already overclocked from the reference 7950 a little bit, by another 40% core clock speed without raising the voltage at all! which gives it the juice to outperform the 670 when both are overclocked to the max. Even beating out the 680 in the Skyrim benchmark and I'm pretty sure my overclock is higher than the 7950 Boost goes to at it's max. Now sure, it uses more power when overclocked (about 5-10% if you don't up the voltage) but that puts it in similar range to the Nvidia cards that have similar performance.
Long story short, get what you want BUT the BEST VALUE is a $270 7950 (I would look at the Sapphire brand one, they have one with an upgraded cooling system for $290 two days ago that I would go for over the basic $270 one. MSI Twin Frozr is my favorite cooling solution, but the Sapphire Vapor-X is my second and MSI doesn't seem to have cards available right now, at least on sale.
BUT if you can afford it and want even more performance (about 10-25% more depending on game) you should go for the 7970, but the only ones I see on slickdeals recently have been XFX Double D for $360 which may not be worth the premium over the Sapphire 7950. I greatly prefer MSI and Sapphire as brands over XFX (nothing wrong with them, just think MSI and Sapphire are TOP NOTCH).
So let's say best case scenario you get that i5 3570K and Asus Z77 for $285, now you add a Sapphire Vapor-X 7950 for $290 which is inbetween a 660ti-670, but better than both in specs and performance in most popular games. That puts you at $575. Much cheaper than your original i7, Sabertooth, 660, but already a huge boost in gaming performance (thanks to the video card and no loss of performance by CPU/Mobo).
Next up is RAM: and this one is EASY: Forget about any other RAM than this stuff:
Samsung 30nm RAM [microcenter.com].. Yikes after posting this I tried to find some and its out of stock everywhere and I cannot figure out why. I got 16GB for $61.18 with a newegg code, but now the prices are outrageous and/or out of stock from all major retailers. I have no idea why because this ram has super low voltage when at 1333 or 1600, but can overclock to a solid 1866 or 2133 easy.. I'm glad I got it while I did. I would look out for these sticks to come back in stock, but otherwise RAM is RAM. some of it wont overclock for shit, but it's not a huge deal in the grand scheme of FPS anyway. 8GB is best, 16GB cant hurt. 1600 is best, but 1333 isn't going to lose you much. Either way just grab 8GB of 1600.. I've used G.Skill Ripjaws X [newegg.com] to great results before I found the samsung 30nm and used those exclusively since. Shame seems Samsung has just decided to switch over to providing server RAM only or wtf ever happened. Corsair Vengeance will work good too, just try to get whatever is the best deal I would say $45 for 8GB 1600 is fair, putting you at $610
Solid State Drive: You're right about the Samsung 840, but I would go big and get the 840 Pro 256GB if you can afford it. If not, the 840 is still an amazing drive. You likely wont see a big increase (if at all) in gaming from the 840 to 840 Pro. I just enjoy having the fastest possible drive. Here's a deal for 250GB for $160 w/ adapter for the 840 Putting you at $770
Hard Drive: I've really only needed a 1TB, but get whatever you want. You can find a Seagate Barracuda or WD Red for a good price. I'll say $80 for a 1.5TB drive. Putting you at $850
Power Supply: Hands down I recommend the SeaSonic X750. You could go bigger, but I use the 750 without any problems on a similar set up to what I've laid out. It has a gold rating giving good power efficiency which is a major bonus. I don't see a current deal, but I got mine for $100 and there was another deal a couple weeks back for the same So another $100 puts you at $950.
Case: I would recommend going with a roomy mid-tower or even a full tower if you have the space. I actually have a CoolerMaster Storm Trooper I got for $80 that included the Storm Inferno gaming mouse. Here's the more portable Storm Scout for $41 putting you at $991.
CPU Cooler: Now I can't speak to this much, but I know you can get a nice air cooler like the CoolerMaster 212 Hyper Plus for $20 or 212 Hyper Evo (idk which is better, I've heard both opinions) for $25 Otherwise I personally use a Antec Kuhler 620 which is a comparable to a Corsair H70 [newegg.com] I got it for $40. It works as well as the air coolers and is quieter. The top of the line option would be the Corsair H100 or H100i, the cheaper of which is about $80 on sale.
Case Fans: Now you are going to want to replace whatever fans (if any) come with your air cooler and case. The best ones I have found are the Cooler Master Blademasters [amazon.com]. I think I got mine for like $5 each maybe off a slickdeal. I'll go ahead and say $15 in case fans. Just do research to find out about the noise and air movement. Blademasters are great, but a little expensive if you cant find a sale on them.
Thermal paste: good thermal paste pays for itself in spades. While this stuff is a little more expensive, it's only a couple bucks and I've gotten the greatest performance from it. GELID GC-Extreme [newegg.com] so another $12.
Assuming you go with air cooling I would put it around $50 for the CPU cooler/fans/paste all told. Leaving you around $1050.
Now that might seem like a lot but it's a top of the line PC that will destroy all current games at even 1440p or 1600p resolutions at over 60hz. That's pretty damn future proof. It should also be amazing with photoshop or any other rendering software.
You're right that specific benchmark I posted is from November (just under 6 months though, might want to check your math of almost a year).
I fail to see what your contention with it is though as the link you posted clearly shows the 7950 being the best card in the $300 range while the 670 is $375. But there are in fact... no benchmarks? The only thing I'm seeing that shows a comparison of the two is the very last page that shows performance per dollar.
In that comparison the 7950 Boost is a much better option. It shows the 7950 having a 51% rating while the 670 has a 52% of power in the extreme category (verus the 690 100%). At the lowest, entry, category (which isn't really relevent as either card way more than needed) the 7950 is 64% vs 67% with 670. at the performance level the 7950 is 59% to 61%.
So at most we are talking a 3% difference and at the highest settings we are talking a 1% difference, but the price of the 670 is 24% more than the 7950 Boost.
I'm not sure if you are agreeing with me or disagreeing with me, but I think we can all agree that a 1-3% better performance is not worth 24% more in cost and the graph you linked shows that the performance per dollar is significantly worse on the 670 than the 7950 Boost.
or maybe Skyrim's pretty CPU intensive, with Mods bringing up GPU usage?
I would go so far as to say my 7950 is magical. I have the MSI R7950, which comes with the 7970 PCB which has been shown to increase overclocking capability some. The card comes overclocked from stock specs with these speeds: 830MHz core and 1250MHz memory clock. This is NOT a Boost edition card (which means it lacks the auto overclocking feature, but is otherwise the same)
I was able to easily manually overclock my card, using MSI Afterburner, to these speeds:
1150MHz core and 1750Mhz memory, without touching the voltage. Now- that does seem magical doesn't it? Thats a 40% overclock from the already overclocked speeds. It plays super smooth and is super awesome. How much did I pay for my card? $309 AR with 3 free games, this was over 6 months ago.
The 7950 has certain hardware specs that are superior to the 670:
-384-bit bus, meaning better AA/AF, CF Scaling, multimonitor/high res support.
-3GB memory vs 2GB.
-7950 is around 20% cheaper than the GTX670
Now the benchmarks have always bore out the superior workspace computing, the much larger bus width is indisputable, the VRAM is indisputable, the price is indisputable. You can feel free to dispute the overclocking part.
Care to tell me what kind of overclock you have achieved on your 670's? I frequent overclocking forums and I know for a fact that the 670's don't overclock well, Nvidia actually locked the voltage settings on your card to keep you from overclocking, does that make you happy?
And like the guy before you said of my reviews (that aren't even 6 months old) the reviews you posted are OVER 1 year old. Two are from March 2012, and one from July. The ones I posted were from November with much newer drivers than you posted. What was the stock criticism that Nvidia fanboys always went to about Radeon cards? oh yeah, that they don't have good driver support. Well AMD has proven that to be very much a myth with the 7000 series.
I don't really card what Video card others have and I'm not trying to rag on you for picking a more expensive card with less power, it has some nice niche features like PhysX, but it's not worth the extra cost for me to have my GPU run the physics engine when my CPU can do it just fine without sweating. I don't cared about the extra features it can provide of which I see only two examples such as tearable cloth and dynamic smoke. I don't know of any game with tearable cloth in it and dynamic smoke is so small I never noticed the difference going from my 560-Ti with PhysX to my 7950. I did notice a huge improvement in power and smoothness.
I'm simply stating what I see from all the information out there and my own experiences. I'm not trying to be a fanboy, but the numbers don't lie.
or maybe Skyrim's pretty CPU intensive, with Mods bringing up GPU usage?
I forgot to answer your last question about Skyrim.
You can see in the benchmarks that the resolution is very high at 2560x1600 which is the 16:10 ratio of 2560x1440. Both resolutions are very popular nowadays with serious gamers as you might be aware of the large market for 1440p and 1600p IPS monitors through Apple Cinema Displays, High-end Dells, Microcenter, Monoprice, Overlord, Ebay. It is approximately twice the resolution of 1080p (4,096,000 pixels for 1600p compared to 2,073,600 pixels for 1080p). Now the reason that the 7950 is so much better than the 670 at this resolution is because of two reasons: It's memory bus width and its VRAM, Given equal power and equal clock speeds the Radeon would still perform better because of these two things.
For example your 670 has a 256-bit bus width on 2GB of GDDR5 memory
My 7950 has a 384-bit bus width on 3GB of GDDR5 memory.
The hardware allows the Radeon to process more data faster and really shows its advantage over the Nvidia in higher resolutions aka more hardcore gaming.
For funsies here is your cards clock speeds:
1006MHz core, auto overclocks to 1084Mhz and 1552MHz memory clock, compared to
850MHz core, auto overclocks to 925Mhz and 1250MHz memory clock for a standard 7950 Boost card. Yet I can overclock my card to:
1150Mhz core and 1750Mhz memory.
It's simply that the hardware is better suited on Radeon than Nvidia to handle very high resolutions. The benchmark was a non-modded game, when you start modding Skyrim by adding in more high resolution textures than yes it will make an even bigger difference.
I've had many Nvidia cards and many AMD graphics cards over the years and if there's one thing I learned from it all is that AMD cards can pack a huge punch in terms of price/performance but Nvidia generally offers a much more stable driver environment. It's the same scenario as AMD CPU's. You get a good amount for the money but in the end, Intel is overall more stabilized.
It all depends on what the OP can afford but I would shell out the extra bit of cash for the 670. Most of the reviews/benchmarks that I've seen are in favor of the 670 in terms of it having higher fps on average. Of course, that higher fps comes with a higher cost.
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