Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Building a new system? Need help choosing between parts? Then step in and let our trained gerbils assist you.

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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:00 am

mickey6688 wrote:I don't want to be a gigantic bother, but I had another question! Could anyone tell me what exactly differs between branded video cards like Gigabyte and XFX, and the standard ATi cards? I'm at the buying stage now, and I want to make sure I grab the right stuff.


Main differences are sometimes the different brands come with higher than stock clocks, different cable bundles, occasionally a bundled game different "Awesome" sticker on the card, and most importantly different warranties.

In terms of good places to find pc parts:
-PCCG http://www.pccasegear.com.au
-MSY http://www.msy.com.au (Cheap, but depending on your store location, nasty service - the Chipping Norton, NSW store is actually very good)
-ARC http://www.arc.com.au (If you are in NSW at least)

also visit http://www.staticice.com.au, and search through the [url]whirlpool.net.au[/url] forums to see if the seller is particularly dodgy.

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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:49 am

Hey guys, thanks for all the advice. Today I hashed out all of the components, and thought I'd list them for you guys. Most of them are what have been recommended to me, but some have been changed. This was usually for expediency and convenience based on my local retailers.

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600k ($367)

Mobo: ASUS P8P67-Pro V3 ($248) - I believe the V3 refers to the revised edition, as all of the specs match the ASUS P8P67 Pro

GPU: 2x XFX ATi HD 6950 2GB ($664)

Memory: G.Skills DDR3-1600 16GB Quad Kit Ripjaws ($241)

SSD: OCZ Vertex 2 (Only component I'll have to buy at a different retailer)

HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB, 7200RPM, SATA-III ($82)

Sound: Asus Xonar DX PCIE ($104)

Cooling: Corsair H70 ($154) - My concern with this is that it doesn't say it's compatible with a 1155, only a 1156. Is that going to be a problem?

Case: Corsair Obsidian 700D ($335)

PSU: Corsair HX-750 ($200)

All prices are in AUD, but AUD is close to parity with USD, so you shouldn't need a currency converter if you're from the States.

I really like the look for this, but I had some other questions besides the ones listed next to parts. Mainly, I need to know what cables to buy so that I can be 100% sure I'm ready to go when I pick everything up. Also, if any of those parts don't fit due to my newbishness and poor oversight, I'd love to know. In any case, I'm interested to hear what you guys all think. Just remember that some cheaper options were foregone due to convenience.

Edit: Put the wrong thing in the SSD category.
Last edited by mickey6688 on Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:24 am

Looks good. Couple of comments:
SSD: Samsung Spinpoint. Isn't that a HDD? Good SSDs are the OCZ Vertex and Crucial RealSSD ranges. Edit - you've edited this now!
CPU cooling: Antec have just introduced an integrated water unit which is quieter than the Corsair - I saw a review a few days ago but can't remember where.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:01 am

Here's the review for the Antec H20 620 I was remembering.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:20 am

For your hard drive edit: Seagate = no! For whatever inexplicable reason, Seagate drives have seen a higher failure rate since the introduction of the 7200.11 drives, which were also louder than previous generations; this has been going on for years. Newegg is a great source of reliability trends for these sorts of things, and will very quickly show you what I mean. The recommendation is to stick to WD first, and Samsung second, for secondary storage needs.

I'll echo the vote for the Spinpoint (or WD Green). The WD Black is the fastest (and by informal vote the most reliable of the faster drives), but it's also the hottest and by far the loudest- it's seek noise is downright harsh. The Samsung is nearly as fast and comes with a shorter warranty (3 years to the Black's 5 years), but it's definitely cooler and quieter, and the seek noise while still more than audible is muted in character. The Green drive (bear with me!) is quieter than either during seek, also with a muted character, and is even cooler.

I have used all three of these drives in personal systems, and if I were in your situation with an SSD, it would be a vote of Samsung for secondary speed or the WD Green for overall system noise, and would hinge on whether or not you feel that you could comfortably fit the files and applications on the SSD. If you can get applications and most used games on there, keep in mind that you can use Symlinks to move things around as needed, then I'd recommend the Green, but if you feel that you will be running performance sensitive applications or storing files such as Photoshop/Premiere workspaces on the mechanical, then I'd recommend the Samsung.

Personally, I steer towards silence after my performance considerations have been met, and my wish list includes only an SSD and WD Green drives for that reason. Moving on:

'V3' on the motherboard would seem to indicate the 'B3' stepping for the fixed P67 chipset.

Make sure that those XFX Radeons use the stock HSF or similar design that intakes as far into the case as possible and exhausts only through the slots and out of the case, as otherwise the top card's intake will be inhibited by the bottom card.

You're building a gaming build, so consider Auzentech's wares if available; their Forte', while more expensive, provides full hardware acceleration along with all the usual X-Fi features, and a decent headphone amp as well. No complaints on Asus' Xonars though. Also consider Creative's new (Titanium something?) card, if you'd like. After years of crabs, for which I have nothing but praise for given their price, the idea of software sound and dropped voices/sounds in games is starting to get to me.

For the 1155 vs. 1156 compatibility concern- don't be, they're the same dimension.

For the H70- consider either the Antec mentioned above, or Corsair's forthcoming H60, if available. Both the H50 and H70 are very effective coolers, but they're also marginally louder than they need to be, and more expensive than air coolers which cost less and produce less noise, and have a lower potential for failure without the pump and tubing. The other watercoolers mentioned (Antec and H60) are both quieter than Corsair's first forays and worth the price, in my opinion.

Further note on the self-contained water coolers- these are designed to be installed as intakes, not exhausts. Your selected Corsair case appears to be set up for bottom to top airflow, with a negative pressure setup (more exhaust than intake), so this configuration would seem to work well for you; the radiator and fan would be mounted on the rear 120mm fan mount, and the air it pulls in would be immediately exhausted by the top three fans, by my observation.

Your PSU is exactly the unit I would specify for your build, with the exception added that if either an HX850 or AX750 or AX850 were to be available for a small additional investment, I'd probably make the jump.

Let us know what you think and if you have any further questions!
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:26 am

mickey6688 wrote:Cooling: Corsair H70 ($154) - My concern with this is that it doesn't say it's compatible with a 1155, only a 1156. Is that going to be a problem?
No worries. Anything that works on LGA-1155 will also work on LGA-1156.

mickey6688 wrote:I need to know what cables to buy so that I can be 100% sure I'm ready to go when I pick everything up.
The SATA cables that you'll need should be included in the box with the motherboard. The Crossfire-X bridge is in the box with the graphics card.

I also prefer the Samsung HD103SJ over a Seagate hard-drive.

I linked to a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card earlier in the thread. I have the Fatal1ty Professional version (picked up at half price refurbished from Creative via Amazon).

I notice that your build is missing an optical drive. Have you given up on Blu-ray?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:47 am

Ah, not at all! I'm afraid I left it out. I'm getting a cheap model, the Samsung SH-B123A. It's a Bluray reader/DVD burner drive. 5.25" internal SATA, 12x.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:51 am

I would strongly recommend against the Seagate HDD. As Airmantharp said they've experienced high failure rates. Go for the Samsung SpinPoint F3 or a Western Digital Caviar Green HDD if possible.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:06 am

The SATA cables that you'll need should be included in the box with the motherboard. The Crossfire-X bridge is in the box with the graphics card.


That is great news! So hopefully I don't need to buy any cables at all. As far as the HDD is concerned, I will definitely switch back to the Samsung (I like the idea of quietness).

I've been reading reviews on water cooling and given the availability of the H70 at my retailer of choice, I'll probably stick with it. Hopefully the noise won't be too god awful.

One more question for you tech savvy individuals! I assume that the connectors and such I need to Crossfire the two Radeons I buy will come with them in the box?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:21 am

mickey6688 wrote:
The SATA cables that you'll need should be included in the box with the motherboard. The Crossfire-X bridge is in the box with the graphics card.


That is great news! So hopefully I don't need to buy any cables at all. As far as the HDD is concerned, I will definitely switch back to the Samsung (I like the idea of quietness).

I've been reading reviews on water cooling and given the availability of the H70 at my retailer of choice, I'll probably stick with it. Hopefully the noise won't be too god awful.

One more question for you tech savvy individuals! I assume that the connectors and such I need to Crossfire the two Radeons I buy will come with them in the box?


The H70 will not disappoint!

All cables for Crossfire seem to be included in the graphics card boxes (it's a ribbon in between two plastic connectors for the gold fingers on top of the cards). Also, did you make sure you are getting the stock/fully exhausting version?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:37 am

This is the link to the card I'm getting from the store: http://www.skycomp.com.au/item/XFX-ATI- ... 1--Fa.aspx

In the description it mentions a 'cooling fansink'. I'm not sure about whether that's standard or not. Any ideas? I'll keep looking into it.

Edit: http://xfxforce.com/en-us/products/grap ... ndard.aspx - This is the link on XFX's website.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:49 am

Using Newegg as a reference, I'm unable to tell- the model numbers don't match up. The boxes look identical from a distance. On the XFX website, the one you'd want is the top one- I see the middle on on Newegg as well, and it is a prime example of 'doing it wrong'. These cards are usually quieter and better overclockers in single card configuration (the two are closely related), but when you imagine a pair of them sandwiched together, you realize that the intake for the top card will be completely facing the bottom card and at the least restricted enough to cause a noticeable difference in temperature between the two. At worst the top card dies, which has been reported by both reviewers and members on various forums. Don't think I can stress this idea enough :).

Something else to consider- given the Corsair's relatively large, open, negative pressure design, I have another case to recommend for your consideration- Silverstone's Fortress FT-02. It's on my wishlist in particular because it has a massively positive pressure setup, where three 180mm fans at the bottom push air up, with only the video card(s) and the top 120mm fan exhausting. This has shown to have the effect of providing the best possible situation for multi-GPU cooling.

Your Corsair 700D on the other hand appears to be ripe for high level liquid cooling- something like the H70 on the CPU, and then a 3x140mm radiator dispensing with the heat from any number of GPUs in a watercooling loop. Cool, but if this isn't your purpose, then switching to something more focused on air starts to make sense!
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:52 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:I linked to a Creative Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium sound card earlier in the thread. I have the Fatal1ty Professional version (picked up at half price refurbished from Creative via Amazon).


I was pretty sure you had JAE- I was actually thinking of it's newly minted replacement, the Titanium HD. Seems to be of higher quality on the analog circuits, though I'm not sure of the other differences. It's price is very close to the Auzentech Forte though, and that card adds a real headphone amplifier to list.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:00 am

I believe the XFX card I listed earlier on my retailer website was this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814150518 . If so, is the onboard cooling sufficient enough not to go crazy in Crossfire?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:05 am

mickey6688 wrote:I believe the XFX card I listed earlier on my retailer website was this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814150518 . If so, is the onboard cooling sufficient enough not to go crazy in Crossfire?


That's the card I'm recommending, out of the available HD6950 2GB cards I can find, so you should be good. Just make sure that the fan is at the end, and not the middle!
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:07 am

I'm going to call the place tomorrow to ask a few questions, and where the fan is located will be on the top of my list. Any other suggestions from anyone about anything specific, or anything in general that I should inquire about?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:52 am

Hey guys, in limbo right now (waiting for some things to come through before I actually order everything, hopefully I'll have all the parts by early next week). I've been reading about the Radeon 6950, and I've heard that it can be 'unlocked' to become a 6970. Can anyone explain how that works, what the process is, and whether it's worth doing?

As always thanks for your replies, they are really helpful to a noob like me.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Mar 24, 2011 3:34 am

Here's the info on the 6950-6970 BIOS flash. AFAIK this still works on the vast majority 2GB 6950 cards, but not at all on the 1GB versions.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Mar 24, 2011 6:44 am

Thanks for the link. Is this sort of unlocking method accident-prone, or relatively safe? I'd hate to do some irreversible damage and lose my warranty at the same time. Also, does an XFX count as a 'reference card', or is there a different process for them?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:50 pm

Read the TechPowerUp article very carefully and study the massive forum thread over there as well. On the face of it this seems fairly low risk, but you have to be clear in your own mind about the risk/reward payoff before deciding to do something like this. If BIOS flashing is something new to you, then a brand new $250+ graphics card might not be the best thing to learn on.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:59 pm

Hey guys, I've looked further into flashing the BIOS to turn the cards into 6970's, and I'll probably give it a shot. If I do, will that increase the power draw to a point where I need a bigger PSU?
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:08 am

750 watts is plenty for that system. Actual system draw from the wall with one Radeon HD6970 while gaming will probably be less than half of that.
http://techreport.com/articles.x/20629/11

Adding a second Radeon HD6970 in Crossfire-X configuration comes closer to using the capacity, but you should still be fine with the 750-watt PSU.

TR's Crossfire-X test system was using only about 608 watts AC x 82% PSU efficiency = 500 watts DC = 42 amperes on the +12V line. Even if we add a 25% safety margin, you wouldn't need more than 52 amperes on the +12V rail. The Corsair HX-750 that you've selected can provide a stout 62 amperes at +12V. TR's dual Radeon HD6970 Crossfire-X test system was averaging about two thirds of that rated capacity.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:47 am

While the 6950 BIOS flashing seems to be fairly safe I'm not so sure it's worth it. In your case you'd have to successfully flash two cards; even if that works out fine good luck getting the things replaced under warranty if one (or both) dies later on. You'll also have hotter, louder, and more power hungry cards that will only get you a few more frames per second in games that are safely over the playable limit anyway, even at that resolution with all the eye candy turned up.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Mar 25, 2011 12:55 am

That is a very good point. I probably won't flash these cards, but it's an option I'll consider for further down the track if I ever come across a game that needs a bit of extra juice. Thanks for all of the help folks! Hopefully I'll be back next week using my new system! Though I'm sure I'll think of some more inane questions to ask you guys before then... :)
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:54 am

You can avoid any possible change in maximum power use by leaving the Powertune settings alone (read the atricle again), at the possible cost of some performance under maximum load.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:43 am

Hey guys, sorry I haven't updated in so long. My parts were delayed, but are now all ordered and should be arriving here early next week. I'll let you all know how it turns out, hopefully from my new rig.
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Wed Apr 13, 2011 7:38 pm

Hello good people,

I write to you from my new computer! Most everything seems to be working swimmingly with the exception of multiple failed Windows 7 updates (which are VERY annoying). I'm about to run my very first graphics test, and it's going to be awesome I'm sure. Thanks for all of the help deciding on parts, it made a huge difference.

Until next time!
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 1:30 am

Thanks for getting back to us, glad it worked out well! For the Windows Updates (and I'm probably being redundant) just keep trying them. I'm never sure why they fail, but I'm always able to get them eventually when starting from a clean system. Getting service packs on an old Vista install however always required a nuke...
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Re: Building My First Custom Rig, Need Advice!

Postposted on Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:32 am

I figured out my problem... I hadn't authenticated my Windows 7! Silly me. Everything is going so smoothly. I literally salivate when I think about the insides of this machine.
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