Help Me Build My PC Catch-All

Save the $100 and get a Corsair 550D or even just the 500R. Its a great case that should last a long time.. and with the extra $100 you can upgrade to the 670.

The 550D didn't review terribly well on AnandTech, so I wasn't sure. Maybe I'll go see if there's one on display at Fry's.

complexmath wrote:

The 550D didn't review terribly well on AnandTech, so I wasn't sure. Maybe I'll go see if there's one on display at Fry's.

yeah if you werent really looking at a case that tries to dampen sound then I would get the 500R over it... The 650D is also really nice at $179. But then you arent really saving $100.

complexmath, you don't really need an 850W Power Supply. I just did a power supply calculation with lots of extras and 660 Ti SLI. I overclocked the CPU to 4.5 Ghz. The minimum power supply wattage came up as 591W and the recommended came up as 641W. So, a 750W power supply would be just fine and save you some bucks. I actually have a Corsair 850W and run 2 680s. I had bought it for the previous generation of cards which used a bit more power, so even with 2 680s, I would only need a 750W power supply. 600 series cards use much less power. You could get the Corsair AX series 750W or the SeaSonic X750 ($149.99). I have the Corsair AX series 850W PSU and really like it for what it's worth.

So it seems like the haswell architecture doesn't come out for like 7 months-ish. Is it worth it to wait for that?

tuffalobuffalo wrote:

complexmath, you don't really need an 850W Power Supply.

I'd been wondering about that. It seemed like the "SLI" tag on PSUs was based on the power requirements of last-gen GPUs, but I wasn't able to get any real numbers. I'll definitely drop to the 750 then.

TheGameguru wrote:

yeah if you werent really looking at a case that tries to dampen sound then I would get the 500R over it... The 650D is also really nice at $179. But then you arent really saving $100.

Hm. I found the FT02 on Amazon for 230 with free shipping via Prime, and the 650D is 160, also with free shipping. Sounds like I may move to the 650D if it will save me 70 bucks. Either way, I want a cast that will last, so saving a bit to get the 550 isn't worth it to me in the long run.

650D for $160 shipped free is a killer deal for an awesome case.. its roomy and should last you for 7-10 years easy.

Queueball wrote:

So it seems like the haswell architecture doesn't come out for like 7 months-ish. Is it worth it to wait for that?

It is never worth it to wait because something better is always just a few months off.

When Haswell arrives is still very much up in the air, and apparently OEMs are whining about the price of (some variants of?) chips as intel is putting memory and more GPU stuff on the chip. Go with what's available now, unless you've got a specific reason to wait or you've got concrete date/price information that works for you.

I'm leaning very heavily towards the SilverStone Fortress FT02

I have one, and I hate it. The design is terrible. Everything runs into everything else. If you want, for instance, to use the top 5.25 bays, it will block motherboard slots. If you want to use the "SSD bay", which is literally a piece of plastic they tacked onto the case so they could have a bullet point, it blocks several of the screw holes for the 5.25 drive bays, so you can't attach or detach any drives without first pulling the SSD out. Supposedly, you don't need those screw holes, because of a screwless retention mechanism, but like everything else in the case, it's crappy and doesn't work well. The 140mm fans are loud, and one of mine is nearing death already. You only get one 'hotswap bay' for 3.5" drives, they charge like $40 for each additional one, and they are flimsiest pieces of crap imaginable... and don't naturally take SSDs.

I think I'll probably be junking this thing soon. By far, it's the worst case I've ever owned. I bought it because it looked kind of cool and seemed like it would be quiet, but it is neither.

The rest of your list looks fine to me. My only caveat is the motherboard, which is Micro ATX (aka, very small) and thus doesn't have many PCI/PCIe slots. It also comes with Realtek networking, which I don't like -- I've never had good luck pumping any kind of serious bandwidth through one of those, they're noticeably pretty crappy in a home gigabit environment. But all the motherboards that come with Intel to start with are $100 more expensive, so you could always just add a $30 aftermarket PCIe network card if you ever need the bandwidth.

If you know you want the high network speed, and don't want to burn a slot, going up into the $200 motherboards might be preferable. Assuming you want to stay down in the $125ish area, something like this ASRock board might suit better. It's regular ATX size, and has more slots, but is otherwise quite similar to what you picked.

I'm finally going to do the build I've always wanted to tackle...a water-cooled rig. I've watched and read lots of guides and whatnot so I'm not looking for references. Rather, I'd appreciate any personal experience, preferences, etc from the goodjers here. Especially when it comes to cases and cooling component brand(s).

Water cooling with the latest Intel processors doesn't really seem to buy you as much as it used to. They overclock really well on air already, and you don't have to run a high speed fan to keep them cool with modern HSFs so you aren't getting a big advantage in sound levels with water.

Just my take. Sounds like a fun project.

Bishop, what specific problem are you trying to solve by going water-cooled? Water cooling primarily moves the heat-exchange problem, it doesn't solve it, because you still need to radiate the heat into the air somehow. By moving the problem, you can move the heat exchange a long way from your ears (for quiet) or use an extremely large exchanger (for either efficiency or quiet), but that's mostly it.

Current-gen Intel chips are cool enough (typically 77W TDP in the Ivy Bridge units) that you can usually handle the heat dissipation quietly inside the case, without adding the complexity of water.

Malor wrote:

Bishop, what specific problem are you trying to solve by going water-cooled?

I'm just doing it because I think it would be fun to do.

Oh, well, in that case, have fun with it.

Koolance has really good gear for that; they're expensive, and the heat exchangers are noisy, so you want long tubing loops so you can move it a long way from your PC, but the actual cooling power in the thing is amazing.

In the Athlon 64 system I was using it in, I was cooling the CPU, the video card (an 8800GTX? I think?), the motherboard chipset, and three hard drives, and the water would get up to about 40C and just stay there, no matter what I did with the machine. But I had no airflow in the case, and, eventually, ended up cooking the RAM. I had to add another set of coolers for RAM as well, to take care of the replacements.

Again, it was very noisy, it was VERY expensive, and the tubing they used at the time would slowly transpirate water vapor, so it had to be topped up on a fairly regular basis, about once a month. (I think they use better tubes now, ones that don't let water through.) But it was, by far, the best cooling system I've used. If you wanted to get into extreme overclocking, that would be one good way.

Many companies have gotten into that market since, and there may be much better solutions, that's just the one I know about.

So I've reached that point were my computer's slowing performance is bugging me. I've got a bit of disposable income at the moment soI feel it's time for an upgrade. I would like to decrease the boot time and improve the responsiveness of windows. The time between pressing the power button and when I can start doing things can be as much as 5 minutes some days, and as long as 10 before everything is fully spun up and smooth.
As well, I've been playing a lot of Guild Wars 2 at a mix of low and medium settings and I get frame rate drops when things are hectic. I'd like to be able to bring up the settings and keep the frame rate at 30+ fps.

My current setup:
650 W PSU
radeon hd 5770 1GB
1080p Monitor
Intel Core 2 Duo e8400 @ 3.0 Ghz
xfx 750i Intel 775 ddr2 motherboard
4GB PC2-6400 800Mhz DDR2 ram (ocz2n800sr4gk)
2TB 7200RPM HDD

I’m not particularly sure which way I should go with it. Upping the ram to 8 or 12gb seems obvious. I could get some better cooling and start OCing. Getting an SSD is appealing, but I don’t have any experience with them. My GPU is underpowered for the resolution I’m using, but I torn between getting a second one in crossfire (They go for $100-150 online) or just replacing it. If I go crossfire I’m fairly certain I’ll need to replace the motherboard, which wouldn’t be too bad since it was a cheap buy that gave me all sorts of headaches. Crossfire and OCing likely means a new PSU, and if I’m replacing the motherboard I might as well get a new processor while I’m at it. So now I’m in brand new build territory and maybe I should just sell my old system as is.
(/stream of consciousness)

So I have a spectrum of options before me on a sliding price scale. My max budget is ~$1000, but like anybody I don’t want spend money unnecessarily. Thoughts?

After more research, it seems my options are more limited than I originally thought, as motherboards with the LGA 775 socket aren't generally available other than a handful of miniATX boards. So the most I could push my current rig is 4 more GB of ram and OC the CPU to 4.4 GHz if I get better cooling (according to the guides). Crossfire isn't going to happen. SLi could in theory, as the MB actually supports that.

Still can't decide if I should upgrade or cut my losses and sell, start another system from scratch. I could get a good GPU now and use it again later I guess...

DanyBoy wrote:

The time between pressing the power button and when I can start doing things can be as much as 5 minutes some days, and as long as 10 before everything is fully spun up and smooth.

Good lord. I would have gone insane after a week.

I would say reuse your case, power supply, keep your monitor and the 2TB HD.

I think you can easily squeeze a new mobo, an i5-3570k, a better cpu cooler, 8gb of ram, and either a GTX 660Ti or an AMD equivalent (which will be better with one card than the SLI setup you mentioned trying) for under $700.

It will be a, IMO, a fairly massive difference. If you're comfortable going up higher, throwing an SSD in there as an OS/Application drive for another $150 or $200 wouldn't be a bad choice at all.

*Just remembered the KBMOD build guides. This is their $800 guide. If you pull parts from it you can come a bit over $600 for all the parts I just mentioned.

Thin_J wrote:
DanyBoy wrote:

The time between pressing the power button and when I can start doing things can be as much as 5 minutes some days, and as long as 10 before everything is fully spun up and smooth.

Good lord. I would have gone insane after a week.

Part of this is due to having an unusual setup for my boot drive. It was a stopgap solution due to a lack of funds that was suppose to be temporary, and then ended up last 3 years.

Thanks for the pointers. I'll be doing a lot of guide scouring and price comparisons for the next while.

DanyBoy wrote:

After more research, it seems my options are more limited than I originally thought, as motherboards with the LGA 775 socket aren't generally available other than a handful of miniATX boards. So the most I could push my current rig is 4 more GB of ram and OC the CPU to 4.4 GHz if I get better cooling (according to the guides). Crossfire isn't going to happen. SLi could in theory, as the MB actually supports that.

Still can't decide if I should upgrade or cut my losses and sell, start another system from scratch. I could get a good GPU now and use it again later I guess...

I've looked into it for mine, I don't think there's that much headroom in LGA775 chips that will make an appreciable difference in stuff like GW2.

The other thing to consider for GW2 is that hardware capability aside, it's currently in need of a load of optimisation. I'm not saying that as a "developers should have some magic dust they can use on the code to make it awesome" or "if only they did a DX11 version it would fix everything", but there are issues right now, especially with this week's patch, that affect loading, loading a massive crowd of people and what the game chooses to display at any time. However, fixes to those issues won't be coming down fast, and even so you're not going to pull a rabbit out of a hat. I don't think there's a "I'll just comment out UselessCPUHoggingDebugFunction();" they've forgotten about that will make a drastic improvement.

That said, I do wonder exactly what is hogging the CPU, is there a load of critical game logic that's run on the client, is it doing physics calculations for clothes or spell effects, collision detection for a few dozen characters, etc.

I don't play GW2 myself, but it's my understanding that the program is a serious CPU hog. Ideally, they'd improve that, but there's no way to tell when or if that will happen, and you'd probably like to play now, while it's popular.

There's nothing really wrong with a 3GHz Core 2 Duo, but GW2 apparently likes quadcores real well, and retrofitting a quad on that board may not work; there were many generations of LG775 chips, and they often didn't work in older motherboards. You could always plug old chips into NEW motherboards, but who the heck does that, you know? So one possibility would be to look on the manufacturer's web site for the most recent/fastest quadcore that board will support, and buying that. This would improve things, but you'd have to luck into the right processor, and you'll probably spend too much for it.

I'd suggest, instead, replacing the CPU/motherboard/RAM/video card. This will be well under your budget range. You can look back in this thread for some suggestions. The i5-3570K is a good choice if you don't want to mess with the system much; it's pretty fast out of the box, and can be overclocked somewhat. $230. The prior gen's i5-2500K has been quite the darling of the tech enthusiasts, as it overclocks like a beast. It starts slower than a 3570K, but almost all of them seem to hit 4.4Ghz in Turbo mode. In most cases, it ends up working out that the two chips are about the same speed at their max OC, although the 2500K, if you get lucky and get a really good one, can potentially be faster. But it can also be slower. The 3570K has a nice solid minimum that's a fair bit ahead of the 2500K, and takes no thought at all, and then a relatively modest overclocking capability.

Basically, if you're a computer-style gearhead, the 2500K is attractive; if you just want the computer to run fast, a 3570K is a good choice. Don't worry about overclocking it now, just remember that it's possible. Late in the computer's life, when you're getting frustrated with it for being too slow, an OC will give you some extra headroom, and you won't care anymore about the potentially reduced lifespan.

Basic Z77 motherboards are $100-$120ish, luxury ones are $200ish. The CPU is about $230, 16 gigs of RAM is about $100, Windows 7 Home Premium OEM version is $100, and then however much you want to spend on the video card. The 660Ti is usually pretty solid at 1920x1080 or 1200, $300. You can splurge a little by going up to a 670, $400. This probably isn't necessary for the games this year, but might be nice for next year.

SSDs are getting cheap enough to be interesting; you can help pay for one by dropping back to 8 gigs. The big reason to go to 16 is for drive caching, but if you've got an SSD, you don't need that nearly as much, so you can put that $50 toward the drive.

Oh, and I'd suggest just skipping SLI. It's more trouble than it's worth, usually. If you can make a single card work well, and you can at that resolution, that's almost always a better idea.

edit: oh, and as a sanity check, what specific PSU do you have? That one's probably just fine, but I'd like to make sure.

So I just took back a Corsair Force 3 180gb to Fry's today with my dad. We got it for his desktop only 2 or 3 weeks ago. Put it in, installed Windows fresh, and it worked fine. Last week he started getting blue screens, then got errors trying to boot it. At first I thought that maybe his RAM had gone, because of the blue screen issue. I went over today, I tried formatting and installing Windows 7 from a DVD, then a USB stick, and got errors while it was unpacking. \

Ran Memtest86 as well just to make sure. No errors.

Finally took the SSD out and put it in my laptop to make sure it was nothing in his desktop that was causing problems. The Windows installation errored out there as well.

I haven't had a piece of equipment fail like that so quickly. I guess I take that back, the first computer I put together have the motherboard fail within a month or two, I took it back to the local computer shop and they sent it in for me, and I had to wait for it to come back... It's strange though, I would have expected the SSD to either be DOA or have problems right at the beginning, not work for 300 or so hours and then fail.

Oh well, Fry's refunded us for it, he picked up a Corsair 240gb GS for only a bit more, as well as a 120gb Corsair GT for his laptop. As much as he hated the experience, he loves the speed.

Ouch. Thanks for the heads-up, Citizen86.

Malor wrote:

Ouch. Thanks for the heads-up, Citizen86.

It wasn't really a warning, I was sort of curious if it had happened to others in a similar way. I haven't lost much faith in Corsair, I have a 120gb Force GT in my work laptop that's on all day, been going very steady for the past 9 or so months.

I just thought it was funny that it worked for 2 weeks, then basically blew up. Actually a once or twice it wasn't even recognized by the Windows installer. And the last time I tried it, I formatted it, tried the install, it failed, then it disappeared from the list of drives to install to.

Malor wrote:

edit: oh, and as a sanity check, what specific PSU do you have? That one's probably just fine, but I'd like to make sure.

Sticker says it's a CoolerMaster RP-650-PCAR

Malor wrote:

Oh, and I'd suggest just skipping SLI. It's more trouble than it's worth, usually. If you can make a single card work well, and you can at that resolution, that's almost always a better idea.

This 100%. A lot of the time you aren't saving anything in cost-performance as two of smaller card X is darn close to the price of bigger card Y. Load up enough games where SLI support is poor or missing and you'll tire fast at getting half performance at full price.

You should only need SLI if you game on a 1440P+. Even then a single high end card should be acceptable with most games. Triple displays though you will probably want an SLI or Crossfire setup

Sticker says it's a CoolerMaster RP-650-PCAR

Well, I looked it up, and the part we care about with current machines:

+12V1@18A,+12V2@18A

Those rails are a little weaker than I like -- I strongly prefer seeing 20A rails. Modern machines pull almost all their power from 12V. If the supply runs one rail for the motherboard, and one rail for everything else, then you're good for any overclock on an Intel chip, plus a medium-grade video card. (A 660Ti would be okay; a 670 or a 680 would not.) But if they split the rails in any other way, you could end up with the motherboard and half the video card on one rail, meaning it would be safest not to overclock at all. I don't know how to tell what they did when splitting the rails.

If you plan on doing any kind of major overclocking, you might want to just pick up a single-rail unit for peace of mind. A current single-rail 550 will usually put out 34A on the single 12V line -- and since all the power is available on all the connectors, you just add up your power draws, and if it's less than 34, you're good.

If you stick with stock speeds, though, you should be okay with what you have, no matter what they did with it.

Thanks Malor, there's a lot of thing like what you mentioned that I only have peripheral knowledge of. That said I don't think I'll be over clocking, at least not at first.

I put in an order last night, this is what I ended up getting:
i5-3570k, unlocked version, 3.4 GHz
MSI Z77A-G45 atx motherboard
Xfx radeon HD 7870
16gb (2x8gb) 1600mhz ddr3 ram

Before taxes and shipping, it ran me ~$650.