Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

MannishBoy wrote:

I always assume anybody getting just two screens (like me) does not plan to actually output games on both screens at the same time. Just never made any sense to me to have the bezel right in the middle.

I assume screen 2 is for secondary stuff like Vent, media programs, maybe communications clients like email or twitter. Not gaming.

There just aren't that many games that work well with two screens. Three makes more sense if you want multimonitor gaming.

The comment I'd have about the monitors is that if you're looking at TN monitors (the cheaper/faster type), going from 22" to 23.5" or 24" isn't that expensive, and is probably worth it.

Yeah, the multi monitors is not to play a game across two monitors. More to have one program on one and a couple more on another.

I know less than nothing about monitors, so any guidance/advice would be appreciated. For example, what do you mean by TN monitors? I couldn't find that using the PCPartpicker interface.

Thanks for the suggestions Malor. I took all of them into account.

One thing that I found weird was the RAM. I don't know if it is the PCPartpicker programming or what, but I couldn't find any 8GB sticks of RAM. If I wanted 16 I had to grab 4x4. Is that because of the motherboard or do they just not make 8GB sticks?

Okay, then either a 560Ti if you're skimping a bit, or a 660 (Ti? Not sure, it's a brand new card) if you really want to do it right.

Thin_J seems pretty up on monitors, he might chime in.

Here is what I am looking at with the most recent set of modifications.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($219.99 @ NCIX)
CPU Cooler: Enermax ETD-T60-VD 76.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($49.99 @ NCIX)
Motherboard: MSI Z77A-GD65 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($159.99 @ Canada Computers)
Memory: Patriot G2 Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($99.99 @ Canada Computers)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($179.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Storage: OCZ Vertex 4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($99.99 @ Canada Computers)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card ($284.79 @ DirectCanada)
Case: Corsair 500R Black ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ NCIX)
Power Supply: Corsair 750W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($149.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Optical Drive: Plextor PX-L890SA R DVD/CD Writer ($36.99 @ Newegg Canada)
Monitor: ViewSonic VA2231wm-LED 22.0" Monitor ($140.99 @ Computer Valley)
Monitor: ViewSonic VA2231wm-LED 22.0" Monitor ($140.99 @ Computer Valley)
Total: $1673.68
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-08-26 14:09 EDT-0400)

The SSD would be primarily for Windows, and maybe Photoshop as well. (not for heavy photo editing, mostly low-end stuff.)

I dropped the CPU, upped the Videocard. Haven't touched the monitors because I know nothing. Would like two monitors if possible.

Malor wrote:

Okay, then either a 560Ti if you're skimping a bit, or a 660 (Ti? Not sure, it's a brand new card) if you really want to do it right.

Thin_J seems pretty up on monitors, he might chime in.

My favorite monitor was discontinued a few weeks back and I haven't read anything about them for a few months now so I'm really not up on new models or what's good or not anymore.

I'm a pretty big fan of Asus' monitors. I picked up a pair of 21.5" 1920x1080s with my new build and they're pretty solid.

AnimeJ wrote:

I'm a pretty big fan of Asus' monitors. I picked up a pair of 21.5" 1920x1080s with my new build and they're pretty solid.

For the cheap TN stuff (not IPS or similar), I've had OK luck with Asus, and they definitely offer a good deal for the money.

Is there any hint if Intel is going to release an Ivy Bridge version of their low powered desktop chip? I'm thinking of an update to the i3 2120T (Sandy Bridge). Or even an update to the G630T.

Thinking a little bit about updating my HTPC. I'm not sure that one of the AMD chips might not be a better deal right now, although even the A4's are 65W chips. I'm running a 65W chip now with passive air cooling, so that wouldn't be the end of the world. But I would like to cut power use a bit if possible.

At this point I wonder if they're just going to skip Ivy Bridge on these and wait for Haslam. I was just thinking this would be a place where the better graphics processor and some of it's encoding stuff might be better than Sandy Bridge.

I'm currently running an e8500, and while it's not overly taxed, I'd like to add a bit more memory to see if my guide and recorded TV metadata might not load in a bit quicker. And that board is using DDR2.

If it's just an HTPC, and you're not really gaming with it, the Ivy Bridge chips are fine. Very good, in fact. And Intel just wrecks AMD in terms of heat efficiency. You really don't want an AMD chip for that purpose.

They don't get a lot of press, but it's my understanding that the cheapo Pentium-branded chips are very strong, almost the same as the i-series. If they've got a reasonable level of integrated graphics (I haven't looked) you could definitely consider one of those.

The e8500 is pretty fast, though. A 3.1Ghz Core 2 Duo is actually quite good. You might just want to add some RAM. How much do you have now?

mudbunny wrote:

I dropped the CPU, upped the Videocard. Haven't touched the monitors because I know nothing. Would like two monitors if possible.

Monitors are hard to shop for because the manufactures don't list input lag in the spec sheet.

The Dell U2312HM is the one with the lowest input lag they've ever found and it's a reasonable $269 at Dell.ca.

More resources.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display...
http://www.tftcentral.co.uk/articles...

Here are the changes I made MudBunny. Let me explain the changes.

  • CPU Cooler - More airflow, less money.
  • SSD - I upped the SSD and in effect doubled its cost since you really do need more than 128 GB of space especially when you start installing games. I also choose this one because there are only three SSD's that we really trust at work since we go through a lot of them. Crucial M4's, Intel 520 Series Cherryville and Samsung's 830 series. But you can use any SSD that has a SandForce controller and be fine. though there are a lot of OCZ haters at work due to how many dead OCZ drives we have. It's not a matter or if, but when.
  • Video Card - I posted earlier about how this Galaxy 3 GB 660Ti is the best of them all.
  • Power Supply - Cheaper, Modular for better airflow and less cables to manage, lower wattage since you only have one video card and two hdds, and one optical and this should be enough. The video card can live on a 450 watt psu so you should be fine on a 650. Also this one is rated 80 plus bronze certified (guaranteed 82% efficient at peak load). If you find an 80 plus gold rating, grab it.
  • K/B - Adding one if you didn't have one already.
  • Monitor - See above.

The monitors will probably through you over budget.

That CPU cooler is fine, but airflow isn't the only thing you're buying a cooler for; actual ability to transfer heat (which is different), noise levels while removing that heat, and durability are all part of the solution. The CMs are cheap, and have a big hunk of metal for the price, but the fan is relatively noisy, and has a sleeve bearing, meaning it will generally only last two or three years. I'd thought about mentioning one as an option in my original reply, but the cost of adding a good fan to the CM gets it pretty close to the Enermax cooler, and I'm interested in feedback on that unit, because it looks both very quiet and very well-built. Plus, that specific CM unit is $30, and I think they're really only worth $20, with the crappy fans they have.

I did think about recommending doubling the SSD size, because with a 256-meg unit, you don't have to think too much about space. With only 128, it's a constant issue. But mudbunny sort of pushed back, and said the idea was to install just Windows and Photoshop onto the SSD, and have everything else on the spinning drive. So I sort of shrugged and went along with it, on the assumption that he knows what he wants to do.

I agree that he's overbuying on the power supply, unless he's planning to add a second video card, and suggested a 550 instead. I'm uncomfortable with your suggestion; Antec build quality and component selection has been pretty so-so for a long time, in my experience. Plus, that supply is claiming almost 100 amps of 12V power on its four rails, which is physically impossible on 650 watts. (100 12V amps would take 1200 watts to provide... at least a 1450 watt wall draw). This means that the individual rails can provide that much, but the supply only has about enough power to truly load two rails. Load down a third, and you could end up with a very dead computer. There's not a lot of point to having four rails if you can't actually power them, you know?

I think he'd be better off with a single-rail unit; all the power, all the time, no funky games with numbers to make the supply look better than it actually is. A Corsair 550 will probably be cheaper, and will work just as well for any single-CPU, single-video-card setup. If he wasn't overclocking, a single-rail 430 would be enough. But most 430s provide 28 amps, and that's not enough to run both a 20-amp (ie, strong) video card, plus an overclocked CPU. Most 550s have 34 amps, which leaves 14 amps free for the motherboard/CPU/RAM, and that's enough to cover even a giant overclock.

Good points all over. I grabbed the PSU only because it was the cheapest one with a certified 80 plus rating, but yeah I would grab your recommendation instead. I recommended the 212 EVO since I have first hand experience with it. It's quiet, and efficient from what I saw.

I posted photos here of when we built my buddy's PC the other weekend.

One more comment: there's nothing inherently wrong with quadrail. It's actually, arguably, better than a single rail, because if one of your rails goes out on a quad, it should only fry the stuff that's attached to it. Safety is a fair bit better. But inadequately provisioned quadrail seems like a bad idea to me. It's too easy for people to see 22/22/25/25 amps on four rails, which is what the Antec unit is claiming, and think they can actually pull 94 amps out of the supply.

I wish video card makers would specify amperage, instead of wattage. Watts aren't precise enough.

Malor wrote:

If it's just an HTPC, and you're not really gaming with it, the Ivy Bridge chips are fine. Very good, in fact. And Intel just wrecks AMD in terms of heat efficiency. You really don't want an AMD chip for that purpose.

They don't get a lot of press, but it's my understanding that the cheapo Pentium-branded chips are very strong, almost the same as the i-series. If they've got a reasonable level of integrated graphics (I haven't looked) you could definitely consider one of those.

The e8500 is pretty fast, though. A 3.1Ghz Core 2 Duo is actually quite good. You might just want to add some RAM. How much do you have now?

I was wanting Ivy Bridge for GPU upgrades to video quality in the drivers and encoding help. It's a step up from Ivy Bridge in those areas, which is still behind AMD's solution.

My current setup includes an Nvidia 9300 chipset, and there's a kind of nasty bug with surround sound and DTS that requires me to never upgrade drivers. There's also a problem with 7MC that some cards and drivers work with and some don't that causes flickering on certain TV encodes depending on how it's done. It's quite complicated all the workarounds I have to do to have mute work in 7MC while still having 5.1 sound and mute CC on TV content along with no flickering, and I'm stuck with one set of drivers where I've found it works. If I ever upgrade drivers, it breaks everything. I'm not going to go to Sandy Bridge as there really isn't that big of a need, it's more of getting around a couple of annoyances. If I do upgrade, I want to get the improvements to image quality, etc that came with Ivy Bridge.

I've got 4GB of RAM. I could add 4 more for $60 or so, but if I do that then decide to upgrade down the road, that would kind of be a waste. Also, the G630T is Sandy Bridge Pentium chip. I mentioned it as an option above.

I think I just want to tinker. I'll probably hold off. It's just odd they never released the Ivy Bridge chips in this category.

Just saw there are 2.5 hours left on a 1saleaday.com deal on an OCZ Vertex 3 120GB, $54.99 after rebate.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Just saw there are 2.5 hours left on a 1saleaday.com deal on an OCZ Vertex 3 120GB, $54.99 after rebate.

Holy sh*te. That's a massive deal. I have that, a Vertex 2 120 GB and a Vertex 60 GB. They're all great and I paid way the hell more than that for all of them.

Intel's Next Gen Haswell CPU and GPU Details Revealed - Legit Reviews - http://www.legitreviews.com/news/14000/

I thought they were saying they were going quad core for all the desktop chips. I can't say it's a bad thing though to add some differentiation in their lines where they need it though, for normal running around my desktop stuff I'm not feeling cramped with 2 currently.

Overall though, unless you're using the integrated graphics it seems like more of a incremental refresh, rolling in the new tech. I guess this is one half lack of competition, one half lack of pressure from mainstream apps (or games) that use stupid amounts of horsepower.

Personally, I'm now thinking I might just go for a good offer on an IB chip when I see one, rather than waiting.

Scratched wrote:

Overall though, unless you're using the integrated graphics it seems like more of a incremental refresh, rolling in the new tech. I guess this is one half lack of competition, one half lack of pressure from mainstream apps (or games) that use stupid amounts of horsepower.

If the graphics improvements are really 3x or so HD4000 levels, that's huge for laptops and even cheap commodity PCs.

Until AMD gets it together (if ever) welcome to competing with yourself.. Unless ARM gets so powerful that we reach the point where we have maxed our "processor" requirement for games.

Yeah, now that AMD has crippled itself by switching to using automated tools instead of engineers, the gravy days of fast advances in computing are over. Get used to keeping computer hardware for long periods of time.

It's not just that though, there's many aspects to what decisions a company like intel (or other processor designers) make. I can see a good few other reasons besides AMD's competitiveness on just one of their markets.

Malor wrote:

Yeah, now that AMD has crippled itself by switching to using automated tools instead of engineers, the gravy days of fast advances in computing are over. Get used to keeping computer hardware for long periods of time.

I've always done this, so it's nice to be in the right for once

AMD has also announced Steamroller, FWIW.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6201/a...

still using automated designs though.

Sounds like the AMD chips might finally be as good as the Phenom IIs. Yay for automated tools, able to do what human designers could do four years ago, in a larger and cheaper process.

If you could get any of these which would it be and why?
www.newegg.ca/Product/ProductList.as...

After a frustrating weekend of dealing with AMD drivers and software installed and uninstall I'm going to go back to nvidia. I just want to understand what to look for in these cards.

I assume the clock speeds are what I'm looking at in the cards. Anything else? It looks like they are all 2gb. I did see at another store that a 3gb version is out there.

Because ATI, now owned by AMD, is turning into a slow-motion train wreck, I'd probably go for the 3-gig EVGA version, on the theory that graphic card generations are going to slow down a bunch, and that the card would have longer legs with the extra VRAM.

Note that this could be utter, complete crap, however, and it may just waste $40.

As an aside, note that you absolutely must have a 64-bit OS to use 3 gigs of VRAM. You can run a 2-gig card in a 32-bit OS, but the machine will be crippled, with only about 1.5 gigs of RAM free for programs.

I'm pretty happy with my low end Radeon 7750, runs most games well enough for me at 1280 x 1024. But Catalyst is a chicken f*ck of note and installing drivers was a serious pain. I eventually had to cancel the driver installation and do it through the device manager.

I wouldn't ever bother with a higher end Radeon card though.

On another note, my CPU fan seems to be acting up. Guild Wars 1 kept giving me a 'There's a problem with your CPU or memory' error and shutting down,* so I ran Memtest with no errors, then I took a look at my fan speeds. The fan was running at 1200 rpm wasn't increasing under load, I ran OCCT to stress test and the CPU shot up to 85C within a minute and the fan didn't speed up at all.

Fiddled around with SpeedFan, but can't seem to get the speeds up. Went into the BIOS, disabled the fan control, then re-enabled it and the speed went to 2200 rpm, but under stress didn't speed up either.

I'm thinking it's dead, Jim. Anyone have any other input?

*Why don't more games run a built in diagnostic?

Guild Wars conducts system tests while you’re playing the game to verify that your computer is operating properly. When Guild Wars runs, it continually tests your computer by performing a set of common mathematical operations, such as addition and multiplication, and then checks the results against a table of correct answers. When the game detects an incorrect answer, that answer may reveal a problem with your computer's processor or memory.

Great, thanks for the advice. I'll see of our can find a good deal on it.

groan wrote:

Great, thanks for the advice. I'll see of our can find a good deal on it.

Someone's been hanging out with kexx it seems.

MrDeVil, that sounds like a loose heatsink on your CPU, at least for the heat problems. The CPU fan not speeding up might be because you've got it plugged into the wrong port, maybe, or you may have not have the port configured for temp-related speed adjustments. ASUS, for instance, calls this "Q-Fan", and you have to specifically enable it on a port for it to change the speeds.

Could also be a dying fan, but I'd check the heatsink seating before anything else. 2200RPM should be just fine to keep it cool.