Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

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Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:34 am

I'm ordering new parts next week, how does this look? I think more gamers should build Ivy Xeon machines.

SilverStone SST-PS07B Black Steel / Plastic with Aluminum Accent MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case
ASRock H77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
GIGABYTE GV-N66TOC-2GD GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
KINGWIN STR-500 500W ATX 12V v2.2, EPS 12V v2.91 and SSI EPS 12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Modular Active
Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 69W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80637E31240V2
(2x) Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K2/8G
SanDisk Extreme SDSSDX-480G-G25 2.5" 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 Channels PCI Express x1 Interface Audio Card
Antec TrueQuiet 120 120mm Case Fan
http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Publi ... r=20105285

PS07 case is a Micro ATX case and the extra 120mm fan is for a rear push fan (case comes with 2x front 120mm pull fans). H77 chipset board which officially supports the Ivy Bridge Xeon E3-1240V2 and has linux-friendly networking and audio chips. The Gigabyte 660 Ti is supposed to be the quietest 660 Ti out there (perhaps equal with the MSI) and is factory OC'd (also like the MSI). 500W PSU should be sufficient and this version is fanless, modular, and well-reviewed by HardOCP. Ivy E3-1240V2 CPU gets you i7 power at i5 price. 16GB of RAM on the ASRock's approved memory list. SSD is one of the best reviewed by storagereview.com and also only $0.80/GB. Xonar DSX is something I think might be nice but could do without (anyone use this card?).
Last edited by chem on Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:07 pm

GPU will be the limiter for fps/image settings in a higher end system, you've got the CPU and SSD angles covered.

Consider a 79xx? They've dropped a lot lately.

I see some 7950 getting near $300

7970 for $350 AR:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814202008

With already 3+ fans in the system why go fanless PSU? The nicer regular PSUs don't run their fan at low load anyways, could get a good ~750W modular for same price.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 1:24 pm

Bauxite wrote:With already 3+ fans in the system why go fanless PSU?


Reliability. In years of system building I've found CPU/PSU fans to be the most frequent point of failure (even more than hard drives). The case fans are quiet and adjustable speed models, but if one fails the system isn't hosed. PSU fan starts dying and you're SOL.

Regarding ATI vs NV, I have a 4870 now and want to go back (my main games bench better on NV). I may also do some CUDA programming.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:13 pm

chem wrote:Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 69W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80637E31240V2

Why Xeon? Any quad-core Ivy is going to be overkill for gaming, and HT is pretty useless for games anyway (sometimes even negative gains and microstuttering). You're not even buying ECC RAM, which is the main reason to choose a Xeon over an i5 or i7.

If you do want the CPU power though, what you also can't do with a Xeon is overclock. Get an i5-3570K (or an i7-3770K if you must have HT) and crank it up to 4GHz (practically guaranteed). At 4GHz the i5-3570 will smoke the Xeon and save you money. You're likely to reach 4.5GHz with a decent cooler, anyway.

chem wrote:SanDisk Extreme SDSSDX-480G-G25 2.5" 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

There are faster SSD's than this at lower cost. Is it on offer, or are you deliberately avoiding the Samsung 830 which is generally better all-round but also MUCH faster on compressed data, such as the art assets which make up the vast bulk of almost every game. Samsung also have a cleaner track-record than Sandforce, as well as lower RMA return rates.

Everything else I either agree with or is down to personal taste. If it were my build I would leave the Xonar out for now - see how you get on with the integrated audio. If you don't like it you can always pop a Xonar in later.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:26 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:Why Xeon? Any quad-core Ivy is going to be overkill for gaming, and HT is pretty useless for games anyway (sometimes even negative gains and microstuttering). You're not even buying ECC RAM, which is the main reason to choose a Xeon over an i5 or i7.


I don't plan on overclocking, so H77/Xeon is an option. The E3-1240V2 has basically the same specs as an i7-3770, but without the on-chip graphics (so it also has a lower TDP, which is nice). But, it costs as much as an i5. Lower price, i7 performance. Seems like the chip to go for if you're not overclocking.

chem wrote:SanDisk Extreme SDSSDX-480G-G25 2.5" 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

There are faster SSD's than this at lower cost. Is it on offer, or are you deliberately avoiding the Samsung 830 which is generally better all-round but also MUCH faster on compressed data, such as the art assets which make up the vast bulk of almost every game.


I'd be open to changing here, but according to storagereview.com this particular sandisk (which is on the latest sandforce controller iirc) just smokes the Samsung 830 or Crucial m4. Check out the direct benchmark comparison to a Samsung 830 here:
http://www.storagereview.com/sandisk_extreme_ssd_review
at the "Storagemark 2010 Gaming Disk Capture" part. I'm totally open to changing the SSD if there really are better options, but is there something showing a Samsung 830 or Crucial/etc smoking the Sandisk for gaming?
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:06 pm

Fair enough about the Xeon. You might want to save even more and get a non-HT variant, if they're available. The i5's typically make better gaming chips that the i7's at the moment.

The benchmarks that show Sandforce drives in good light are not using real-world imcompressible data. Sandforce drives choke on things like PNG, JPG and AVI files. That 550MB/s number will drop to 350MB/s on most gaming PC workloads. Sandforce controllers are very Jekyl and Hyde in this respect.

I use a couple of Sandforce drives at home, and I just plugged an 830 into my laptop a month ago. Don't get me wrong, the Sandforce drives are fine, but I won't be buying one again unless it is significantly cheaper than an 830. The difference in game load times is tangible, and the results are glaring if you use pure-random benchmarks on the drives.

Syncronous Sandforce vs Samsung 830
Last edited by Chrispy_ on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:53 pm

Chrispy_ wrote:The benchmarks that show Sandforce drives in good light are not using real-world imcompressible data. Sandforce drives choke on things like PNG, JPG and AVI files. That 550MB/s number will drop to 350MB/s on most gaming PC workloads. Sandforce controllers are very Jekyl and Hyde in this respect.


That benchmark was pretty interesting. I presume you were referring to the AS-SSD Incompressible Sequential tests? The read performance of the SF-2281 drives was about the same as others, but the write performance was poor compared to Samsung or Indilinx controllers. I'm surprised you saw such a dropoff in gaming load times... those should be mostly read, not write.

But, the write performance difference is large enough that I may look around and try to find a deal on a Samsung, new Corsair Neutron, or OCZ Vertex 4 (barf, I know OCZ's rep is bad but maybe the 4-series is different). This is disappointing because I do not think those drives are competitive with the Sandisk Extreme on $ per GB. Or I just bite the bullet on sequential write performance and settle for something "only" as good as the latest and greatest from Intel.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 6:08 pm

They trade blows, because the Samsung has a slightly slower sequential speed than the Sandforce, but much more consistent performance.

I notice the difference in games, and it's quite stark; Write performance isn't that important for gaming, but if you look at those graphs for sequential reads, you'll see that the Samsung does much better at small filesizes from 4KB to 1024KB. It's only in the very largest reads that the Sandforce can pull ahead. At less than 4K, the results are irrelevant (unless you format the drive differently).

Another way of looking at it is two cars; The Samsung V8 has better acceleration but the Sandforce I-4 turbo has a slightly better top speed. On those very rare long-straights you want to be in the Sandforce, but for everything else the acceleration is what matters. Unfortunately benchmarks focus too much on maximum read speeds when you rarely get a chance to reach them with either drive in real-world situations.

The most important results are probably "disk busy times" since that proves that in everyday, real-world use you'll spend less time waiting for the Samsung than the Sandforce.
The Neutron looks good as well, but prices are high and the technology is still unproven in terms of reliability.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 9:47 am

chem wrote: http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Publi ... r=20105285
$97 SilverStone SST-PS07B Black Steel / Plastic with Aluminum Accent MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case
$97½ ASRock H77 Pro4-M LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
$307½ GIGABYTE GV-N66TOC-2GD GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Have you considered a Radeon HD7950 for $305?

chem wrote:$163 KINGWIN STR-500 500W ATX 12V v2.2, EPS 12V v2.91 and SSI EPS 12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Modular Active (41½A @+12V, fanless)
That's a fairly expensive fanless power supply from a second-tier manufacturer. Have you considered an Antec Earthwatts Platinum Series EA-650 (48A @+12V) for $124 or SeaSonic SS-660XP (55A @+12V) for $161 or SeaSonic SSR-550RM (45A @+12V) for $110 -15MIR? Even the Antec EA-430 Green (35A @+12V) for $60 -20MIR would probably be sufficient.

chem wrote:$296 Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 69W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80637E31240V2
When the Core i7-3770 is $6 less expensive, why choose the Xeon? For that matter, your gaming isn't likely to benefit much from hyper-threading, so why not choose the Core i5-3570K for $215 or Core i5-3570 for $215?

Where is your aftermarket CPU cooler? Consider something like the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo for $32. Do some checking to be certain that it will fit in your chosen case. I know that it fits into an Antec NSK3480 but you may find that something like the CoolerMaster GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP for $40 would work better in your case.

chem wrote:$82 (2x) Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K2/8G
I strongly suggest 2x8 GiB instead of 4x4 GiB. How about 2x8 GiB PC3-14900 G.Skill F3-1866C9D-16GXM (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5V) for $75?

chem wrote:$380 SanDisk Extreme SDSSDX-480G-G25 2.5" 480GB SATA III Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
$60 -10MIR ASUS Xonar DSX 7.1 Channels PCI Express x1 Interface Audio Card
$13 Antec TrueQuiet 120 120mm Case Fan
You might have a quieter system overall if you selected a motherboard with good PWM (pulse width modulation) fan controllers like the Asus P8Z77-M Pro for $140 and then used PWM-controlled fans for your case cooling. The motherboard's temperature controller will speed up the fans when things get warm and turn them down to a whisper when you don't need massive amounts of cooling. A splitter like this one for $4 can let you run three PWM fans off of a single motherboard PWM controller if your motherboard doesn't have enough. That Asus motherboard with Fan XPert+ has four PWM connectors. One controls the temperature of the CPU and the other three can control the temperature of the chassis in independent profiles.
i7-4770K, H70, Gryphon Z87, 16 GiB, R9-290, SSD, 2 HD, Blu-ray, SB ZX, TJ08-E, SS-660XP², 3007WFP+2001FP, RK-9000BR, MX518
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:56 am

Hey, thanks for the quite thorough reply. Appreciate it.

JustAnEngineer wrote:Have you considered a Radeon HD7950 for $305?


Nah, see my ATI vs NV comments above. It's just that for my games, NV tends to have an edge in support (see: Eve Online). I have an ATI card now but want to go back.
chem wrote:$163 KINGWIN STR-500 500W ATX 12V v2.2, EPS 12V v2.91 and SSI EPS 12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Modular Active (41½A @+12V, fanless)
That's a fairly expensive fanless power supply from a second-tier manufacturer. Have you considered...


HardOCP really loved the STR-500: http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/10/ ... ly_review/ , so I don't have any worries about its quality. I also really want to try a fanless power supply since I've had issues in previous machines with the PSU fan becoming really noisy in a pre-fail state. Those PSUs you linked would be perfectly good choices for a w/ fan substitute.

chem wrote:$296 Intel Xeon E3-1240 V2 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 69W Quad-Core Server Processor BX80637E31240V2
When the Core i7-3770 is $6 less expensive, why choose the Xeon? For that matter, your gaming isn't likely to benefit much from hyper-threading, so why not choose the...

Techreport has a nice skyrim CPU benchmark showing differences (albeit small) for i7-3770 vs i5-3570 in 16.7ms frames. I'd like to get i7 quality (I'm a L3 cache whore). The E3-1240V2 just recently had an instant rebate on newegg which seems to have disappeared, so I could consider getting the E3-1230V2 (.1GHz less) for something more like i5 price. If the i7-3770 is the same price as either Xeon, of course, no big deal. Wasn't the case when I spec'd the system :(


Where is your aftermarket CPU cooler?

Are there known problems with the Ivy generation of Intel stock HSFs? I haven't had any problems before with Intel stock when not OC'ing and was probably just going to use stock. I might look into one just to get something quieter (anyone know the intel stock HSF size? 100mm?).

chem wrote:$82 (2x) Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3K2/8G
I strongly suggest 2x8 GiB instead of 4x4 GiB. How about 2x8 GiB PC3-14900 G.Skill F3-1866C9D-16GXM (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5V) for $75?

This choice was based on the approved memory list for the mobo since I wanted no surprises. There weren't any approved 8GB DDR3-1600 chips which newegg had in stock, so I went with 4x4. Elsewhere, someone did comment on the Kingston being 1.65V and that being undesirable. First I'd heard of that being an issue but it may be something to consider. If not OC'ing, is there any reason to get DDR3-1866? I thought DDR3-1600 was appropriate so that the CPU was not starved.

You might have a quieter system overall if you selected a motherboard with good PWM (pulse width modulation) fan controllers like the Asus P8Z77-M Pro for $140 and then used PWM-controlled fans for your case cooling. The motherboard's temperature controller will speed up the fans when things get warm and turn them down to a whisper when you don't need massive amounts of cooling.

The ASRock Pro4-M claims to do something similar:
- CPU/Chassis Quiet Fan (Allow Chassis Fan Speed Auto-Adjust by CPU Temperature)
- CPU/Chassis Fan Multi-Speed Control

But, if I end up switching CPUs to the E3-1230V2 or an i7 I could switch to an ASUS mobo if it has a killer feature.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 12:44 pm

Scrolling through- let's see:

Nvidia VS. AMD- I give this round to Nvidia, but AMD had the last one overall. Nvidia is more power efficient, better driver compatibility (see Skyrim and BF3).

I don't consider the [H] to be the end-all of PSU reviews, but they sure do beat the hell out of them, and have managed to physically destroy more than a few. Given that there aren't any moving parts, and assuming that your case's airflow is properly filtered (extremely important!), it could last over a decade without issue. That said, I have a number of PSUs with fans that have lasted a very, very long time. It's usually the super cheap ones that die out- and I stopped buying those in the Windows 98 era.

If you're not overclocking, getting HT might be worth it. Just remember that you may have to turn it off for something that doesn't play well with it.

Intel's aftermarket coolers are decent, but you have to consider your total system's airflow. A Hyper 212 Evo is inexpensive, and should be dead silent at any load from a stock-clocked CPU. The Intel cooler will most definitely spin up under stress.

'Approved memory lists', as nice as they are, are about as useful as shooting yourself in the foot. Don't expect them to resemble retail availability in the slightest. The G.Skill mentioned by JAE is likely your best bet in capacity, flexibility and performance. You do want 1.5v memory (1.65 is the 'safe maximum' for Intel chips), and speed isn't an issue- but if slightly faster memory is only insignificantly more expensive, why not? At worst, you can lower the clockspeed and lower the voltage.

With my ASRock Z68 board, they made me a believer, but I'd still pick Asus if they had the best product at a particular price and capability point. They didn't when I was picking up my parts below, but I'd strongly recommend them for yours given how the market has filled out.
Canon 6D||[24-105/4L IS USM|100/2.8L Macro IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
For sale!|24/2.8 IS USM
|
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 7:14 pm

I updated the newegg wishlist link with the following changes:

CPU: downgrade to E3-1230V2
RAM: change to Mushkin CAS9 1.5V 2x8
GPU: upgrade to EVGA 670 GTX 02G-P4-2678-KR (factory OC, exhausts out rear)
SSD: change to OCZ Vertex 4 "M" as in micron NAND 512GB

SSD was a really hard choice. The Plextor M5 Pro and Samsung 840 Pro are the leading alternatives, but their 512GB variants are just way more expensive than the OCZ. I've seen some benchmarks of the OCZ Vertex 4 M version and speeds are still great, nearly the same as Intel NAND. Vertex 4 and its custom Indilinx/Marvell controller seems to actually be an ok SSD, not like Vertex 3.

edit: forgot to mention, but I also removed the Xonar DSX (which put $ towards the 670). I will give the ALC892 a try before getting a sound card.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:48 pm

Looking at pictures, I just now realized how the 212 EVO mounts and that it will push air toward the rear. That explains some of its dimensions and I understand why people recommend it so much. I may add that.
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:43 pm

Looks good!
Canon 6D||[24-105/4L IS USM|100/2.8L Macro IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
For sale!|24/2.8 IS USM
|
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Re: Micro ATX gaming build - comments?

Postposted on Sun Oct 28, 2012 5:30 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Looks good!


Thanks for your help, guys. If anyone has parting comments I'll continue to monitor the thread until I order.
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