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Author Topic: Building a new rig  (Read 625 times)
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ScubaV
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« on: May 05, 2012, 07:30:14 PM »

I'll be building a new gaming rig when I go home in two weeks and I just ordered the parts on Newegg today. I thought I'd show off my new purchases here for critique or for anyone else thinking of upgrading to get ideas from. For basic research I highly recommend RPS's new hardware series Hard Choices. The author boils down all the gibberish into just the essentials and offers a handful of recommendations if you really just need to be told what's the best bang for the buck. After that it just a matter of reading reviews on specific parts or using basic Google-fu to compare one option versus another.

For reference I will be upgrading a 4-5 year old PC that was running on Core2Duo 2.66Ghz, Nvidia 8800GT, 2Gb RAM, and Windows XP with a 500Gb hard drive. I'm keeping the same monitor, peripherals, case, power supply, DVD drive, and the hard drive for a backup. However, I may consider upgrading the case and/or power supply if I think it's needed once I get home. It's doubtful though. I also plan to do simple overclocking of my new processor and hope to do it with the stock cooler, but if I can get significant gains by using an aftermarket one I might do it.

Processor: Intel i5 2500K. Pretty simple choice. This seems to be almost universally considered the best for your money even after the new Ivy Bridge came out. Easy to overclock and will be the first CPU I do so.

Motherboard: This Asus Z68 board. Quite a bit cheaper than the Z77 options, well reviewed, and one of the boards mentioned in the RPS article.

Video Card: XFX Radeon 6950 2Gb. Very slightly cheaper than the other equivalent option Nvidia's GTX 560 Ti and heads-up comparisons seemed to give it a very slight edge in performance. Both were the top two choices in the video card RPS article.

RAM: Patriot 8Gb. The general consensus seems to be that 16gb isn't really necessary over 8gb and this was 1/3 the cost of a 16gb setup.

SSD: OCZ 120Gb drive. This will be my first SSD and I'm excited. Apparently OCZ doesn't have the established reputation of some other SSD brands, but this drive was well-reviewed and had the best price point at purchase. It also met all the checkboxes that the SSD RPS article said to check for. It will be my OS and games drive with my old 500Gb platter as backup.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. The only thing about Professional I may have wanted would be the XP compatibility mode, but I already own XP so I can just do a dual-boot setup if I run into legacy issues with certain games.

Total cost after promo-codes and rebates: $750 with no tax and free shipping. Normally I aim for the $500-600 mark when I upgrade, but this includes an OS and a hard drive which I usually am not upgrading. Not bad. I can't wait to get home and put this baby together. Also, making my dad and brother jealous isn't a bad perk either. With the hardware slow-down that seems to be the trend nowadays I predict this system should easily last me another 4-5 years.
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TheAtomicKid
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« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2012, 12:09:32 AM »

I liked the RPS articles, appreciate the link.

CPU choice, solid. Mobo choice, decent, ASUS not my favorite, but the price is definitely economical. Ram, I'm a Corsair guy myself (but I do like Patriot USB flash drives, no reason to doubt their ram products),and yes, 8GB is PLENTY of ram, unless you have something particualr in mind.  GPU choice is decent, although with 7xxx stuff solidly on the market, I'd go that route instead for the performance/power advantages. Not to mention driver focus will be on that now.

SSD choice, meh. Not too trusting of OCZ after all their undocumented product changeups. The RPS article listed good choices, with one honorable non-mentioned, and I'm surprised they missed it. The Corsair Performance Pro series, uses a Marvell controller with Toshiba 32nm toggle mode nand, which is more durable than the more common 24nm nand you find in most drives these days. (there are several other drive variants that use this combination, and a couple that use a Sandforce controller and 32nm toggle mode as well. Patriot Wildfire drives come to mind as an example)

Basically, if I were getting Sandforce drive, I'd either get an Intel 520, or I'd find one of the drives that also sport the toggle nand. You'll pay a little more either route, but Sandforce has had some problems with the last batch of controllers, and Intel is the only manufacturer that has solidly whooped the issue... and to my knowledge, that firmware is NOT available for other manufacturers at this point in time. So either get that, or the extra performance/durability from the toggle nand.

If I were NOT getting a Sandforce drive, my next choice would either be Marvell controller plus toggle mode nand, or just plain Marvell controller with regular synchronous nand (think crucial m4).

I recently bought two of the samsung drives, and they're solid drives. BUT. They're lousy about cleaning up after themselves. Admittedly I run mine in a raid0, so trim is currently not functional. But my boot drive is a pair of intel x25's in raid0, and my games drive is my pair of samsungs in raid0.

Guess which set is more fragmented? You betcha, it's the samsungs. Even after moving the games off the drive once to get rid of some previous fragmentation (and it did work, btw, dropped fragment to nearly zero)... after installing TERA afterwards, and even letting the drives sit idle during the day, which lets garbage cleanup do its thing... the volume is... 46% fragmented, last time I checked. Vs 4% for the intel volume.

With trim enabled it will probably do better, but there's a gigantic difference between the two. And even with SSD's, fragmentation is detrimental. In particular, it will eventually start increasing write amplifcation to the volume, which can wear your drive out substantially faster.

I like the sammy's, but I sometimes wonder if the crucial m4's might have been a better choice.

OS: Solid bullseye. I run it... XP compatibility mode has been unnecessary for me to this point.

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Calavera
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« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2012, 01:10:51 AM »

Quote from: ScubaV on May 05, 2012, 07:30:14 PM

Video Card: XFX Radeon 6950 2Gb. Very slightly cheaper than the other equivalent option Nvidia's GTX 560 Ti and heads-up comparisons seemed to give it a very slight edge in performance. Both were the top two choices in the video card RPS article.

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. The only thing about Professional I may have wanted would be the XP compatibility mode, but I already own XP so I can just do a dual-boot setup if I run into legacy issues with certain games.

I'd go with the 560Ti over the 6950. I had a 5770 and switched to a 560 Ti 448 core (based on the 570). AMD's drivers have gotten ...questionable... again. As a bonus, you get PhysX for the games that use it. GPU Offload support is also MUCH better on nVidia than AMD.

You won't need XP compatibility mode. I'm yet to run into something that doesn't run on Windows 7 because of a compatibility problem.The big advantage to Pro is the dynamic discs which lets you have a single logical drive that is JBOD, Encrypting File System and Network Backup. With Home Premium you can't set the built in backup to backup to a network location.
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« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2012, 07:35:59 AM »

Quote from: Calavera on May 06, 2012, 01:10:51 AM

AMD's drivers have gotten ...questionable... again.

yeah, they were great for a bit but it seems like they're hit their off cycle; I think I was using 7-8 month old Catalysts when I retired my 5870's.  on the other hand nVidia takes forever to officially update their drivers unless you like taking a chance on beta versions.
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Knightshade Dragon
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« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2012, 04:52:23 PM »

The Asus motherboard could go either way - I've had fantastic Asus boards, and I've had boards that make me want to rip my hair out.  Right now I'm rocking a Gigabyte board and I'm happy.  Is there a specific reason you picked that board? (features, memory capacity, etc.)
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ScubaV
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2012, 05:12:11 PM »

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on May 06, 2012, 04:52:23 PM

The Asus motherboard could go either way - I've had fantastic Asus boards, and I've had boards that make me want to rip my hair out.  Right now I'm rocking a Gigabyte board and I'm happy.  Is there a specific reason you picked that board? (features, memory capacity, etc.)

I've had good experience with other Asus products (although not a motherboard), so I felt comfortable with the brand.  Mostly I picked it because of price.  I was going to go with a Z77 model instead of Z68, but those were all around $50-100 more except for a few Z77's that either had poor reviews or only a handful.  I was suspicious of a cheaper, supposedly more advanced board without sufficient reviews to vouch for quality.  The particular motherboard I bought was specifically mentioned in the Hard Choices article and reviews held up, so I felt comfortable with it.  If I had a choice, I'd pick a board that didn't have any Realtek integrated components, but they all do so that's a non-factor.

Same thing with the SSD.  The price was low enough and the reviews supportive so I felt comfortable taking a chance on OCZ.
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Knightshade Dragon
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2012, 09:54:33 PM »

Quote from: ScubaV on May 06, 2012, 05:12:11 PM

Quote from: Knightshade Dragon on May 06, 2012, 04:52:23 PM

The Asus motherboard could go either way - I've had fantastic Asus boards, and I've had boards that make me want to rip my hair out.  Right now I'm rocking a Gigabyte board and I'm happy.  Is there a specific reason you picked that board? (features, memory capacity, etc.)

I've had good experience with other Asus products (although not a motherboard), so I felt comfortable with the brand.  Mostly I picked it because of price.  I was going to go with a Z77 model instead of Z68, but those were all around $50-100 more except for a few Z77's that either had poor reviews or only a handful.  I was suspicious of a cheaper, supposedly more advanced board without sufficient reviews to vouch for quality.  The particular motherboard I bought was specifically mentioned in the Hard Choices article and reviews held up, so I felt comfortable with it.  If I had a choice, I'd pick a board that didn't have any Realtek integrated components, but they all do so that's a non-factor.

Same thing with the SSD.  The price was low enough and the reviews supportive so I felt comfortable taking a chance on OCZ.

Totally understood - for me, I'm attached to a few brands, but reviews tend to trump that loyalty, with some exceptions.  (I only buy Corsair memory for instance).   On the OCZ - I'm running a pair of them and couldn't be happier. 
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 05:01:07 AM »

Very similar to the system I just built in March (I went with a 6970, a smaller SSD, and an Asus ROG mobo, and our old machines are also nearly identical (I had a quad 2.4 OCd to 2.9 and dual 8800GTs). I had a detailed thread at http://gamingtrend.com/forums/hardware-software-hell/quiet-but-deadly-(pc-build)/

I think you'll be very happy with it.
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