Help me build my PC 2015 Edition Catch All

I went Nvidia when AMD cards were still overpriced due to Bitcoin miner demand. Since I had it I tried streaming using Shadowplay but had issues with it dropping constantly. I ended up going with another option for Twitch streaming because it kept breaking.

TL;DR I wouldn't include Shadowplay in your purchase decision.

I would agree that Shadowplay isnt great yet as a streaming option but for recording game footage it's very convenient, capable, and the performance hit is much smaller for me than running something like fraps.

Because I'm thinking of going for a 'subtle' box in the corner of the entertainment unit I am looking for a very quiet set up.

I watched an overview/unboxing of the AeroCool Dead Silence Cube. It's an mATX case. From the video, it seemed to have a fair few options for getting more space inside, and for a good number of fans. I'm guessing the way to keep the insides quiet is to have more fans spinning less, than fewer fans spinning in a louder manner. Would that be a correct assumption? Also, any thoughts on the AeroCool as a case?

Here's the video that I watched.

I can't believe I sat still for 18 minutes watching some dude talk about an empty box... What have you people done to me?!?!?

Generally what you want is fewer large fans spinning slower. Looking at the specs on that case is has a very slow 200mm fan pulling the air in and fairly slow 120mm pulling it out which should be close to inaudible unless you have ears like a bat. As you add more fans, particularly if they aren't active you will increase the ambient noise of the system. Unless you put an uber beast of a card in there you shouldn't need extra fans, but if you do obviously you will want to look at bigger slower fans, and probably manual control.

2. Leather coated front and top panels with smooth surface finishing

Well that's different.

Are you definitely going mATX? Have you considered mITX. You are limited to a single PCI slot but if you're going for quiet that shouldn't matter as you'll only want one card.

My corsair 250d is my htpc and it's barely audible even when gaming.

At the moment I'm not tied down to anything.

My only real 'desire' is that I have a PC that is as 'easy to run' as a console, that plays big picture, and won't make me want for an XB1 or PS4 anytime soon. I was working to GGs Steam Box build in the OP, and just browsing possibilities at the moment, with a build closer to the end of the year.

I don't want a hulking behemoth with disco lights and mirror ball next to my TV, but being as this will be my first build, I don't want to be arse-ing around in too tight an area either.

Primarily a Mac man, the only building I've done is adding in a SATA HDD to a tower when Win95 was around, and swapping out my PS3 HDD.

This will only take up 8 minutes of your time

The audio in the Maximus is Realtek ALC 1150 based and is supposed to be pretty decent.

The 1150 is a good chip, probably made slightly better by the attention to noise isolation. You should be pretty happy with it. I have an older 898, and it's excellent. Motherboard sound used to be dismal, and even "good" discrete cards were mediocre at best. (the Audigy, for example, sounded absolutely terrible by pro standards. So did the X-Fi, unless you manually forced it into the dumbest mode possible, at which point it finally reproduced music well, probably the first Creative card that ever did.) But modern motherboard sound is almost always good, and sometimes it's great; I suspect the Maximus will be in the latter category.

So I would rather have a 850W quiet one that costs a little more than a 550W one that is at 75% capacity when gaming.

OK, that makes sense. The cutoff for Seasonic total-silence mode is 20%, so it'll probably still make a little noise, but you should barely hear it. They make outstanding gear; you'll like it.

That's a no-compromises build. There really isn't anything you can do better. You can spend more money, of course, but the improvement per dollar from where you are would be tiny. It's the 'best-of-everything-without-being-stupid' build.

edit: oh, don't forget you might need an OS.

second edit, the next day: rewrote the first paragraph a fair bit.

Nice, and now I have 10 minutes to spare

Another consideration deciding between mITX and microATX... you'll tend to find more boards with built-in Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in the mITX form factor.

Both are easily added with fairly cheap dongles, but I like having everything integrated.

2 more parts and my custom build is complete! Pics to follow.

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

FlamingPeasant wrote:

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

Thread for thread, the Intel is faster. And all games won't benefit from more cores, in fact, right now, most will still be faster on a 4 core Intel chip vs the 8 core AMD.

Will that change down the road now that consoles are running more cores? Probably some, but it's all speculation right now as to how much.

FlamingPeasant wrote:

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

The clock speed may be higher, but each of those cores is substantially slower than the equivalent cores in an i5. If you find a workload that makes full use of all 8 cores (something that's rare in the gaming world), then the 8320 will probably outpace the i5, but for most things, most of the time, the i5 is going to be faster, often hugely so.

The nicest thing you can say about the FX processors is that they're maybe more future-proof gaming CPUs than the i5, since they have 8 cores like the consoles do, and so in theory, as developers get accustomed to making the most of so many cores, it'll end up performing better in the long run than a current i5. I think all the current i5s have quite a bit more raw power than the 8-core console CPUs anyway, though (half the cores, but around twice the clock speed, and almost certainly higher performance per Ghz) so it's hard for me to buy that as a good reason to get an FX CPU instead of an i5.

Malor wrote:
how used was the 680?

It's been used for about two years, left on most of the time. (it's my understanding that power cycles are harder on electronics than just running.) It's been in a dust-filtered case, never overclocked, and always given all the power it needed. (an 850-watt supply, which is stupidly large, but it was on a killer sale.)

I see no particular reason why it wouldn't reach whatever the design lifetime is for the card (three more years??), but of course I have no way to guarantee that. If it breaks early, I didn't do anything to cause it.

@Malor, I was still considering your 680, but had a couple questions. Would it work ok in my current system until I upgraded everything else? I understand my Core 2 Duo 7400 would be a bottleneck, but what does that mean exactly? Would the 680 sill give me an improvement, just doing as much as it could with my CPU, or would it not work that well at all with my current system? I would probably buy the mobo/ram/cpu sometime in the next couple months or so.

Also, does it need any additional cooling, because I was hoping to build a PC without any additional cooling to save on costs?

The 680 does seem like a good deal. It's a much better card than I would be willing to buy new, and better than a new 760 for ~$70 more. I think my main hesitation is that since this is the first time I've upgraded/built a PC myself, it seemed like everything should be new.

So, I'm still thinking about it and trying to figure out my build.

FlamingPeasant wrote:

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

Additional question, if it draws more power, will it generate more heat, and therefore need more cooling, which in turn would make more 'noise' with increased fans, airflow, etc?

I only ask out of 'learnding'. This thread is like some amazing tech masterclass (especially for the uninitiated, like myself). Thank you all for your time, knowledge (and patience).

m0nk3yboy wrote:
FlamingPeasant wrote:

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

Additional question, if it draws more power, will it generate more heat, and therefore need more cooling, which in turn would make more 'noise' with increased fans, airflow, etc?

I only ask out of 'learnding'. This thread is like some amazing tech masterclass (especially for the uninitiated, like myself). Thank you all for your time, knowledge (and patience).

Yes, yes and yes. The last few AMD processors have needed more juice and generate more heat. They could get away with that if they were on par or better with the intel processors of today, but they haven't been competitive in the mid range for a while.

Also Flaming.... friends don't let friends buy AMD processors (these days at least)

WooHoo! I'm starting to 'get this'.

A friend of mine recommended the AMD FX-8320 as an alternative to the i5 440 in the sub $1000 build. Slightly faster clock speed and 8 cores versus 4, but it's drawing 125W versus 84W. It's $20 less, but that's pretty minimal. Significant gaming performance difference between the two?

To reinforce what others are saying: clock-for-clock, an AMD core isn't even close to an Intel one. Part of it is because the AMD cores are sharing physical resources, so that if one core is using part of the die, the other core can't. This means they don't scale as well; if you run two Intel cores, you can get almost double the throughput, but two AMD cores may only add about 50%, depending on the load in question. So I think of the 8-core AMD chips as 'really' being about six; that's just shorthand, but it's a reasonable approximation. And then the individual cores are slower, too.

Despite, however, the fact that AMD CPUs are so much slower on a per-core basis, you can still game on them. Most titles are bottlenecked on GPU, so it doesn't matter very much what CPU you use. An Intel core just waits faster, basically. But when the CPU does matter, it's almost always single-thread performance that counts, and that's where Intel chips rule the roost. If you're buying the computer to game with, for the relatively low number of games where the CPU matters, having Intel can matter a LOT.

There's one niche where AMD is really strong; if you can only afford a $150ish CPU, and you've got a lot of computational work to do, you can get a lot of bang for your buck on that side of the fence. You have to go up to a $300ish Intel chip to match them for total raw throughput. (and then, of course, they will issue an utter ass-whooping on single-thread stuff.) But I can't imagine very many people fit that profile.

@Malor, I was still considering your 680, but had a couple questions. Would it work ok in my current system until I upgraded everything else? I understand my Core 2 Duo 7400 would be a bottleneck, but what does that mean exactly?

It just means the 680 wouldn't be able to deliver all of what it could with a faster processor behind it. It will still be a massive upgrade from where you are. When you do replace the CPU/motherboard/RAM, you'll see another performance improvement in high-end games. The low-end games will get all they need from your Core 2, it's the monsters like Battlefield 4, Crysis (3 now?), Assassin's Creed 4, and Wolfenstein that need substantial CPU to run their best. Minecraft is another title that really likes CPU, at least if you're into the mod scene.

Would the 680 still give me an improvement, just doing as much as it could with my CPU, or would it not work that well at all with my current system?

As long as you're on a 64-bit OS, it'll be fine. (I think you said you're on 64-bit Win7.) The biggest difference will be the mid-tier games. Low-end ones, like, say, Plants vs. Zombies, aren't going to change at all, and the high-end ones will probably still give you framerate problems, but mid-tier games, especially shooters, will be enormously faster. You should be able to run them at much higher resolutions and settings levels.

With a modern CPU behind it, a 680 will drive 1920x1080 at maximum or near-maximum settings in most titles, although there are a few that will choke it up somewhat; you might have to dial things back a little, maybe dropping back on antialiasing. With the Core 2, you'll probably have to turn off more stuff, but which stuff, I'm not sure, as I've never actually run a 680 on a Core 2. No matter what, it will be WAY better than what you have now.

Also, does it need any additional cooling, because I was hoping to build a PC without any additional cooling to save on costs?

It has its own cooler, and exhausts to the outside of the case. But it is a 200-watt card, so it will need reasonable case temperatures and airflow to run well. It will add some heat to the case, because it gets plenty hot, and some of that heat radiates inward, but as long as there's reasonable airflow, most of it will go outside.

I was running it in a Corsair case with two 120mm intake fans and two exhaust fans, but all set to super-quiet mode, just a whisper of air coming out. I'm not an expert, but as a guesstimate, if you're exchanging the air in the case every five minutes or so, I suspect it would be fine.

edit: also, just in case, what's your current power supply again? I think you mentioned it, but it was awhile ago, and I've forgotten.

It's a Corsair TX 650 and a Lian Li PC-A05N ATX mini tower. Would that psu work with the 680?

A 650watt PSU is plenty for a 680.

Lian Li is a weird company. They make these cases that are very reliably super high quality construction... but they also kind of steadfastly ignore progress made in overall case design by other companies.

It's a Corsair TX 650

Yeah, that'll be fine. If you're not overclocking the CPU, a 430-watt supply is enough. With overclocking, I usually point folks to a 500 or 550 to give themselves headroom, and then a 750 if they want to run two (normal) cards. Your 650 is way plenty for any single-card build you'd do, but it might not be enough for two.

and a Lian Li PC-A05N ATX mini tower.

I looked up a review, and it looks okay, but I can't be certain. It looks like the clearance on the 680 would be tight. The card is 10 inches long, plus a tiny scoche, maybe 1/16th of an inch. The power cables connect on top, and the back end is plastic, so you'd need only the tiniest bit more room than that. From eyeballing the case pics in the review, I think it will fit, but I'm not certain, and you should probably measure it yourself.

As far as ventilation goes, that's something you'll have to decide. The 680 is a 200-watt card, and it needs a reasonable supply of fresh air. It will (quietly) dump most of its heat out the back, but it needs cool air to do it. You need at least some airflow in the case. If it's ventilated badly, you could have trouble, but that's true of any good video card. The 680 isn't special in this regard; any strong card you'll buy will take somewhere around 200 watts.

Basically, if you put your hand over the exhaust, and you can feel reasonable air movement across most of it, that'll probably be enough.

edit: I looked it up, and the existing card is a 55-watter, where the 680 takes 200. However, at least the model I'm looking at exhausts the heat inside the case. The 680 dumps it straight to the outside air.

At a guess, if your computer stays cool with the 4650 dumping 55 watts inside, it should be fine with the 680 dumping 200 watts outside. Some of the 680's heat will stay inside the case, but I bet it's not 55 watts' worth.

By that standard, Corsair is kind of the anti Lian-Li.... excellent design, but the materials aren't that great. The cheap cases have so many vents that they're more air than case.

I haven't, however, bought a high-end one. I imagine those are probably better.

Swapped out my HP Z30rw's for 3 BenQ BL3200PT's and its glorious.. enough has changed in the 3 years when I first got the HP's that I blown away at the PQ and clarity of these screens. The extra 2" of screen really makes a difference as well (didnt think it would matter as much as it does)

So nothing exceeds like excess..

IMAGE(http://imageshack.com/a/img661/4141/L2GGLo.jpg)

TheGameguru wrote:

Swapped out my HP Z30rw's for 3 BenQ BL3200PT's and its glorious.. enough has changed in the 3 years when I first got the HP's that I blown away at the PQ and clarity of these screens. The extra 2" of screen really makes a difference as well (didnt think it would matter as much as it does)

So nothing exceeds like excess..

IMAGE(http://imageshack.com/a/img661/4141/L2GGLo.jpg)

A. I have that exact same wallpaper
B. Do you have much of a problem with how far you have to move your head around to see from the left to the right?

Regarding the Lian Li case, I measured to check, and it's around 11 inches of space, so it should fit fine if I got it. And from my little knowledge, it is a weird case. The PSU's in the front. The intake fan's on the rear, with an exhaust fan up front by the psu. Also, the mobo is 'upside down,' I think. So I think the intent is for the intake to bring air in across the cpu, which is now closer to the bottom of the case, then over the psu and exhaust out the front? Most cases are the opposite of that, with the exhaust in the rear? I don't know if that's better or worse, but I do like the overall feel and look of the case.

Another question: Would I get the full Windows 8.1 retail version, or the OEM system builder? I found conflicting info online as far as how often and whether or not you could transfer the license to another build/mobo.

Also, thanks in general for everyone's replies. This has been a bunch of help so far. It feels like the planning phase of a new pc is more work than actually putting it together will be.

vlox_km wrote:

Another question: Would I get the full Windows 8.1 retail version, or the OEM system builder? I found conflicting info online as far as how often and whether or not you could transfer the license to another build/mobo.

From what I understand, Retail can be transferred, OEM can't (officially). Some get by the OEM transfer by calling MS and telling them they had to replace parts, though.

Do you have much of a problem with how far you have to move your head around to see from the left to the right?

You get used to it..and honestly when you are gaming you don't move your head that much. Most game focus the action to the center and thus the side monitors are more like peripheral vision.

Most people are initially somewhat overwhelmed when they first play a game on my setup..especially shooters..so it takes a bit of time.

As far as using for productivity it can get a bit much moving your head and eyes back and forth..thus at work I use 3 27" screens.