Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

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Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:19 pm

Hello all!

I need some help putting the "final touches" on this build. That's in quotation marks because based on your comments, any component may change at any moment.

Considering I already have an Asus VE278Q monitor with a native resolution of 1920x1080, I think the GPU choice may be overkill. I'm pretty happy with the rest.

I decided in favor of the Samsung 840 Pro over the 256GB OCZ Vector equivalent because here in Switzerland, the former is about 30 bucks cheaper and the performance is about the same. By the way, the site I use for price comparison is http://www.toppreise.ch. You can switch to English in the top right.

I don't have a strict budget set for this. I don't want to go overboard and get what makes sense with good price/performance. I decided to pick the best possible parts given these constraints and worry about the money later. That being said, I definitely do not want to exceed 2,000.

On to the build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($329.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Asus SABERTOOTH Z77 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($258.49 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($239.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition 3GB Video Card
Case: Corsair 600T White Graphite ATX Mid Tower Case ($149.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1268.43
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-22 17:14 EST-0500)

This is a slightly edited thread based on one I already made over at Tom's Hardware forums. I've gotten a few comments there already. I decided to also start a thread here because, frankly, TH's forums are driving me nuts. I'm shocked by how clean and fast techreport.com is, including its forums. It's far nicer to look at and, perhaps more importantly, use, than any of the other high profile hardware sites such as Tom's Hardware, Anandtech, HardOCP and all the rest.

Alright then. Looking forward to your comments!
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:34 pm

Why not get 2 x 8GB sticks of ram?
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:39 pm

w00tstock wrote:Why not get 2 x 8GB sticks of ram?

Oh. Good question. Would make more sense for the Z77. I started out with a X79 build, where 4x4GB made sense due to quad channel memory support. Mid-way and after some reading, I decided on a Z77 instead, but the ram choice stuck. You're right. Should change it to 2x8GB. Thanks!
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:43 pm

Welcome to TR!

One of the first things you should check out here is the latest System Guide, which will outline a set of parts for a given price point. I know that prices will probably be a little off (the guide took holiday bundles into account), and I see you have already spotted a deal on a SSD, but it still offers a good guideline and explanation for each component choice.

I do have a couple questions, though. Are you planning on turning all the settings up in your games? And do you want to continue to do so for a few years? If you are, then something like the 7970 probably isn't as overkill as it might seem, especially if you upgrade to a higher resolution monitor.

Next, are you using basic speakers or headphones, or something really nice? If you have a nice pair of headphones, you might also want to add a sound card.

Also, I do see that you already covered the 2x8 GB vs 4x4 GB.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:59 pm

http://www.toppreise.ch/prod_273618.html i5 3570k should save you some coin and will be nearly as fast as your selected processor in games. If you have other uses like encoding or something that benefits from the extra cores then the 3770k makes sense. For just gaming there is a negligible difference between the two, though.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:05 pm

Hi superjawes!

Thank you! It's nice to be here.

I did read the whole thing prior to posting here, actually. This would be my starting point. I loved the article. It was full of great recommendations for all sorts of hardware. Given that I put a bunch of hours of reading and research into my own build, however, I wanted to hear your opinions on it rather than just running with the TR suggested build.

One thing I don't understand from the system guide is the GPU choice. While the GeForce GTX 660 Ti is by no means a bad card, I am looking to put something considerably beefier in my rig. The GPU is where I want to save the least and get the best performance I can while respecting a sensical price/performance ratio.

Naturally, I'm planning on maxing games to make them look the best they can. So you might have a point there. Since I already own the mentioned monitor, I'm not dying to upgrade right now. Might make sense to do so at some point this year, however.

Something I had most trouble with in my research is choosing the *right* manufacturer and model of the graphics card. Also, I don't know if I shouldn't just get the Ghz edition of the HD 7970 while I'm at it. Is the performance bump worth the extra money? Another option I considered is the Asus GTX670-DC2T-2GD5. Still undecided on this arguably single most important front (for a gaming system!).

I'm a headphone guy. I proudly own a set of Astro Gaming A50's, which I use for console gaming but which can very well be used on the PC as well. Question is.. will it be worth getting a dedicated sound card for that? I think I'll reserve judgement until after I do some testing. I see no reason to jump in and spend money on a dedicated sound card right now.

Over at Tom's hardware, a helpful user suggested I drop to 8GB of RAM. The justification for that was that most modern games don't even use 6GB of RAM, let alone 8. What's your take on this? In the same vain, he suggested I drop to the Intel i5 3570K instead of going with the i7 because the performance difference does not justify the price--despite the inclusion of hyper threading on the i7.

Last thing he suggested was to get a much cheaper mobo. He suggested this one: http://www.toppreise.ch/prod_271701.html
I'll just quote his reasoning:
You don't really need to pay tons of money for a motherboard since you'll be replacing it within two-three years if you want to keep up with the changes in hardware. I have the UD3H which is another variant of that board but pretty much anything Gigabyte makes is good.

-g-unit1111 at Tom's Hardware Forums
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:13 pm

1) I think you would be well served starting with a base config of TR's Sweet Spot build. A 7950/660Ti is all most people will need for 1080p gaming at high detail levels. Playing BF3 at 1900x1080 and Ultra detail settings at 50fps is no joke. TR has done a lot of testing on those two cards.
2) Is there a reason you chose the Asus Sabertooth mobo? One thing I've learned is that you can spend an awful lot of money on mobo's that don't offer any real feature benefits you would use over cheaper models. The P8Z77-M and P8Z77-LK go for $125 and $135 (after MIR) respectively and have great feature sets.
3) Have a read through TR's Inside the Second testing of CPUs. It's easy to see that you get almost the same exact gaming performance out of a quad core Ivy Bridge (i5) as you would with an i7 for roughly $100 less.
4) Being in Switzerland, are you shopping from newegg or will you be using another retailer/etailer? This info will help as we get the build narrowed down.

[Edit] 8GB is really all that you need for games currently. That being said, it's not a bad idea to think ahead and get a 2x8GB kit so you wouldn't have to upgrade RAM in the forseeable future. Having less dimms is optimal since it puts less stress on the memory controller.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:22 pm

DPete27 wrote:1) I think you would be well served starting with a base config of TR's Sweet Spot build. A 7950/660Ti is all most people will need for 1080p gaming at high detail levels. Playing BF3 at 1900x1080 and Ultra detail settings at 50fps is no joke. TR has done a lot of testing on those two cards.
2) Is there a reason you chose the Asus Sabertooth mobo? One thing I've learned is that you can spend an awful lot of money on mobo's that don't offer any real feature benefits you would use over cheaper models. The P8Z77-M and P8Z77-LK go for $125 and $135 (after MIR) respectively and have great feature sets.
3) Have a read through TR's Inside the Second testing of CPUs. It's easy to see that you get almost the same exact gaming performance out of a quad core Ivy Bridge (i5) as you would with an i7 for roughly $100 less.
4) Being in Switzerland, are you shopping from newegg or will you be using another retailer/etailer? This info will help as we get the build narrowed down.

Hello Dpete27! Many thanks for your post.

1) While I get your point, I'm not dismissing the possibility that I might upgrade to a higher-res version within the next year or so. I admit that the monitor I already own is sort of a bottleneck--at the moment. What happens if three months from now, I decide to grab a monitor with a far higher pixel-count than the 1080p monitor I currently own? I'm keeping that in mind.
2) Not particularly. Mobos I found extremely hard to research because there's a ton of choices for the Z77 chipset. My main concern with the mobo is great performance. I can't think of any special extras I really want/need. I'll take a look at those two alternatives, thanks!
3) Will do. Thank you. I'm sold on the i5 as I've gotten recommendations from multiple sources now that the i7 simply isn't worth it considering my goals with this build.
4) Newegg unfortunately does not ship internationally. I mentioned in the first post that I'm doing price comparison here: http://www.toppreise.ch (you can set it to English on the top right). Some might consider http://www.digitec.ch to be Switzerland's Newegg. They consistely have great prices and a huge selection. But in essence, I'll order from wherever toppreise.ch says is cheapest.

Edit: regarding 1), I realize that the term "bottleneck" is a terrible choice of words for the monitor. I don't mean it's holding back the system... if anything, by virtue of this limitation, it's giving me better performance and piece of mind at the moment. NOT having to worry about performance at something like 2560x1600 might be a blessing in disguise. Still, I'd like to keep the door open for the possibility that I might get a much higher resolution monitor within the next year or so.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:06 pm

After reading some more and considering what has been suggested, here's the updated build:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($124.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($93.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($219.99 @ Adorama)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 670 2GB Video Card ($437.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Corsair 600T White Graphite ATX Mid Tower Case ($148.15 @ Mac Connection)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($109.98 @ NCIX US)
Total: $1325.07
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-22 20:06 EST-0500)

This is starting to shape up.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:10 pm

You missed the mechanical drive?

Since you are buying a K processor, does this mean you are going to overclock? If that's the case, you should get a decent cooler, even if it just means to lower the noise level compared to the stock one. The Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO is standard recommendation these days.

What about the OS?

Time for new keyboard/mouse?
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:12 pm

I'll support what everyone else has suggested.

The difference in gaming performance between the Core i7-3770K and the Core i5-3570K isn't much, and you'd save $100 by giving up hyper-threading.
The Asus P8Z77-M Pro or P8Z77-V LK motherboards provide everything that you need for less than the Sabertooth motherboard.
Have you considered a third-party CPU cooler like the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo? The stock Intel cooler works acceptably, but the third-party cooler will be quieter.
I agree with 2x8 GiB of PC3-12800 or PC3-14900 memory (CAS 9 or faster, 1.5 V or less) instead of 4x4 GiB.
The Caviar Black is a fine drive, but why stop with only 1 TB? Consider a 2 TB or larger hard-drive.
Your graphics card is a bit of overkill. One of the hot-clocked Radeon HD7950 or GeForce GTX660Ti cards would be sufficient.
Will you be installing a Blu-ray drive so that you can read shiny discs?
If you've got good headphones, do consider a sound card.
Do you need a new keyboard, mouse or speakers?
You'll need an operating system. Windows 8 Professional 64-bit should do the trick.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:45 pm

Flying Fox wrote:You missed the mechanical drive?

Missed that on purpose for now. Figured I could add it later. The reasoning being that this machine is purely for gaming. My main every day computer is a 2011 15" Macbook Pro. But while we're on the topic, what's a good mechanical drive? In earlier build configs I had one in and it was a 1TB WD Black.

Flying Fox wrote:Since you are buying a K processor, does this mean you are going to overclock? If that's the case, you should get a decent cooler, even if it just means to lower the noise level compared to the stock one. The Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO is standard recommendation these days.

Well, I don't intend to OC currently, but I would like to have the option if I decided to do it. I'll be experimenting for sure. Thanks, I'll take a look at the EVO.

Flying Fox wrote:What about the OS?

I'm thinking Win 8 x64 Pro. Makes sense.

Flying Fox wrote:Time for new keyboard/mouse?

Don't know! You tell me! I have a Logitech G5 and the Saitek ECLIPSE II I bought waaaay back in 2007 :roll:
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:51 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:I'll support what everyone else has suggested.

The difference in gaming performance between the Core i7-3770K and the Core i5-3570K isn't much, and you'd save $100 by giving up hyper-threading.
The Asus P8Z77-M Pro or P8Z77-V LK motherboards provide everything that you need for less than the Sabertooth motherboard.
Have you considered a third-party CPU cooler like the CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo? The stock Intel cooler works acceptably, but the third-party cooler will be quieter.
I agree with 2x8 GiB of PC3-12800 or PC3-14900 memory (CAS 9 or faster, 1.5 V or less) instead of 4x4 GiB.
The Caviar Black is a fine drive, but why stop with only 1 TB? Consider a 2 TB or larger hard-drive.
Your graphics card is a bit of overkill. One of the hot-clocked Radeon HD7950 or GeForce GTX660Ti cards would be sufficient.
Will you be installing a Blu-ray drive so that you can read shiny discs?
If you've got good headphones, do consider a sound card.
Do you need a new keyboard, mouse or speakers?
You'll need an operating system. Windows 8 Professional 64-bit should do the trick.

CPU: Got it. I'm sold on the i5.
Mobo: Sold on the LK.
Cooler: Looking into it. You're the second to suggest the EVO, so there must be something to it.
RAM: This is my pick, CMZ16GX3M2A1600C9. Any need to change that choice?
GPU: It is with the current monitor, I agree, but as I've stated before, I might upgrade to a 2560x1600 or similar monitor within a year. In that case, I'm not sure it'd still be overkill. I want to leave the door open for an increase in resolution while retaining great performance. Agree?
Optical drive: No need. Haven't used a CD or Bluray in ages. I stream/DL everything I need.
Sound: This is something I need to look into. The TR System Guide suggests the Asus Xonar DSX. I did absolutely zero research on this, so I'm guessing this should be a solid choice.
Mouse/keyboard: Covered that in previous post.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 8:54 pm

Considering the EVO seems to be so popular, I'm a bit surprised not to find it here: http://www.frostytech.com/top5heatsinks.cfm
What gives?
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:21 pm

automaticus wrote: What gives?
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.c ... 655&page=3

The CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo is quiet, effective and affordable. You can find CPU coolers that do a better job, but they're all more expensive than this one.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 9:46 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
automaticus wrote: What gives?
http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.c ... 655&page=3

The CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo is quiet, effective and affordable. You can find CPU coolers that do a better job, but they're all more expensive than this one.

Ok, great. I need not know more than that. Thanks!
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:08 pm

I haven't really heard anyone complain about the CM Hyper 212 Evo. I'm one of those people who use one and I'm satisified with it for the price.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Tue Jan 22, 2013 10:21 pm

automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:You missed the mechanical drive?

Missed that on purpose for now. Figured I could add it later. The reasoning being that this machine is purely for gaming. My main every day computer is a 2011 15" Macbook Pro. But while we're on the topic, what's a good mechanical drive? In earlier build configs I had one in and it was a 1TB WD Black.
If you don't need the speed for a 7200rpm drive and just for storage, then you can get the slower spinning drives, such as the WD Green or Red. I prefer the Red mainly for their longer warranties. The faster drive will make a bit more noise, but the 1TB Black is sort of acceptable to me. Noise is highly subjective and dependent on your setup. You can get the Green/Red drives cheaper for larger capacities. 1TB is fine for starter storage, but if you download a lot of stuff, then no amount of storage is ever "enough". :P

automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:What about the OS?

I'm thinking Win 8 x64 Pro. Makes sense.
Make sure you are ok with the drastic UI changes. We have many bitching threads about this already. ;)

automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:Time for new keyboard/mouse?

Don't know! You tell me! I have a Logitech G5 and the Saitek ECLIPSE II I bought waaaay back in 2007 :roll:
If they are still working for you, sure. There are always new models. These days the mechanical keyboards are being touted as "gaming keyboards", so you may want to look at those.

automaticus wrote:Sound: This is something I need to look into. The TR System Guide suggests the Asus Xonar DSX. I did absolutely zero research on this, so I'm guessing this should be a solid choice.
How are you connecting the sound? Is it through the optical cable to your headphone? Or direct USB to the computer? If it is through the analog plugs, then you may need better sound. But if you are doing sound digitally, either through optical cable or HDMI, then I don't think you need a discrete sound card. The description on your A50 is a bit confusing to me.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 4:17 am

Flying Fox wrote:
automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:You missed the mechanical drive?

Missed that on purpose for now. Figured I could add it later. The reasoning being that this machine is purely for gaming. My main every day computer is a 2011 15" Macbook Pro. But while we're on the topic, what's a good mechanical drive? In earlier build configs I had one in and it was a 1TB WD Black.
If you don't need the speed for a 7200rpm drive and just for storage, then you can get the slower spinning drives, such as the WD Green or Red. I prefer the Red mainly for their longer warranties. The faster drive will make a bit more noise, but the 1TB Black is sort of acceptable to me. Noise is highly subjective and dependent on your setup. You can get the Green/Red drives cheaper for larger capacities. 1TB is fine for starter storage, but if you download a lot of stuff, then no amount of storage is ever "enough". :P

Thing is, I plan on gettnig a NAS to store my stuff. Been eyeing this one for a while. In light of this, my choice of larger, mechanical drive for this build loses importance. 1TB should be plenty. It's just a matter of picking one at this point.

Flying Fox wrote:
automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:What about the OS?

I'm thinking Win 8 x64 Pro. Makes sense.
Make sure you are ok with the drastic UI changes. We have many bitching threads about this already. ;)

I've had a chance to test-drive it at work. I'll get used to the UI. I want to get the benefits of faster booting and the added Explorer features, among other things. Only makes sense to get the latest :)

Flying Fox wrote:
automaticus wrote:
Flying Fox wrote:Time for new keyboard/mouse?

Don't know! You tell me! I have a Logitech G5 and the Saitek ECLIPSE II I bought waaaay back in 2007 :roll:
If they are still working for you, sure. There are always new models. These days the mechanical keyboards are being touted as "gaming keyboards", so you may want to look at those.

From TR's latest system guide, Das Keyboard sounds excellent. Sadly, I can't find it for sale in Switzerland. So for now, I think I'll stick with my Saitek. It's not clicky at all, but I always liked it. This is something I can change/upgrade at any point so I'm not too worried about it now. Same goes for the mouse.

Flying Fox wrote:
automaticus wrote:Sound: This is something I need to look into. The TR System Guide suggests the Asus Xonar DSX. I did absolutely zero research on this, so I'm guessing this should be a solid choice.
How are you connecting the sound? Is it through the optical cable to your headphone? Or direct USB to the computer? If it is through the analog plugs, then you may need better sound. But if you are doing sound digitally, either through optical cable or HDMI, then I don't think you need a discrete sound card. The description on your A50 is a bit confusing to me.

Definitely optical. I'll leave the sound card out and if I notice quality problems, I'll simply add one later.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:41 am

There are other mechanical keyboards out there that you might look into. I'm typing on a Razer Blackwidow, which uses the same Cherry Blue switches as the Das. Corsair also has mechanical keyboards, I think WASD Keyboards is another option, and I am sure that a few other people can make suggestions as well.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 7:55 am

The motherboard I picked seems to be terribly stocked in Switzerland at the moment. Not sure why. If I look thoroughly enough, I can probably still get one within a week. If I do end up having trouble finding one, can anyone suggest a solid alternative?

Also, while I love the look of the Corsair 600T case I picked, I'm wondering whether it's a bit overkill for the components. Any comments on that? Another case that I read a lot of good things about is the NZXT Phantom 410. Might be worth looking into.

Other than that, I think I'm set for the moment. I'll stick with my G5 mouse and the Saitek Eclipse II keyboard for the moment and upgrade if I feel I should. No sense in throwing money at a new mouse/keyboard when the ones I have are good and still work, I figure.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:11 am

Do you need a full ATX mobo or is mATX all you really need? I am very happy with my AsRock Z77 Pro4-m.

AsRock makes some good products these days. The AsRock Z77 Extreme 4 is a full ATX mobo in the same price range as the Asus P8Z77-LK and is very feature rich. (Review 1 and Review 2)
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:30 am

DPete27 wrote:Do you need a full ATX mobo or is mATX all you really need? I am very happy with my AsRock Z77 Pro4-m.

AsRock makes some good products these days. The AsRock Z77 Extreme 4 is a full ATX mobo in the same price range as the Asus P8Z77-LK and is very feature rich. (Review 1 and Review 2)

I wouldn't say I *need* a full ATX mobo. Is there an important difference between ATX and mATX? Aside from size, I mean. Functionality-wise, the smaller boards retain everything from full ATX, no?

I'm going on a 4-day trip starting tomorrow, so I won't be ordering any of these parts before Sunday night anyway, so the issue of having to wait up to a week for the Asus board may be a non-issue after all.

Edit: another thing I'm wondering... would a higher-tier mobo bring an appreciable performance boost to this build, considering the chipset obviously stays the same? Asked differently, are there significant performance differences between same-chipset-motherboards that can be differentiators or is it mainly on-board features that set the higher tears apart?

Thanks!
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:41 am

The size differences between "full" ATX and mATX basically determine how many expansion slots and SATA ports you get. If you will only ever put one video card into your board and maybe one sound card, then mATX is all you need. You should even be able to get the same number of RAM slots.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Wed Jan 23, 2013 2:16 pm

automaticus wrote:another thing I'm wondering... would a higher-tier mobo bring an appreciable performance boost to this build

MultiCore Enhancement comes to mind but it's just a BIOS setting that the manufacturer either enables or not by default. All Z77 mobos should be able to enable MCE even if it isn't already on.

Things like PLX chips and more power phases could technically raise performance if you need them. (aka 3+ GPUs or extreme overclocking respectively) In the end, you're really paying more money for "better quality components", more/expanded functionality, and aesthetics. The reason I mockingly quote "better quality components" is because this is a relative term that is very hard to quantify. Sure, an Asus ROG board has better quality components than the P8Z77V-LK for example, but that doesn't mean that the LK won't last just as long and/or be just as stable under typical usage.
I pick motherboards based on features: How many of each PCI slot types do you need? Do you need the ability to run SLI/Crossfire? Does the rear IO port include everything you need? I like to buy mobos with VRM heatsinks for peace-of-mind. After that, things like fan control options, UEFI maturity, reliability reputation, etc come into play. The most important thing is to not overestimate your needs, especially when you're an enthusiast. An extra $100 is better spent on a graphics card than a mobo.
i5-3570K, ASRock Z77 Pro4-m, Asus GTX660 TOP, 120 GB Vertex 3 Max IOPS, 2 TB Samsung EcoGreen F4, 8GB G-Skill @1.25V, Silverstone PS07B
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Mon Jan 28, 2013 4:05 am

Thank you both for the detailed answers.

I have two more questions:

1. How do I know the CPU cooler will fit with the RAM sticks on the board I chose? The RAM sticks I picked have heatspreaders on them that make the sticks significantly taller. It's hard to tell whether that will be a problem judging by just pictures on the web.
2. What's the standard way of hooking up a monitor to a modern graphics card? DVI? HDMI? Does it matter?

Thanks!
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:21 am

automaticus wrote:Thank you both for the detailed answers.

I have two more questions:

1. How do I know the CPU cooler will fit with the RAM sticks on the board I chose? The RAM sticks I picked have heatspreaders on them that make the sticks significantly taller. It's hard to tell whether that will be a problem judging by just pictures on the web.

Thanks!


1: You could take a look at pictures of similar builds. Many people have probably used the 212 EVO combined with RAM with heatspreaders, if possible. You could also choose RAM without tall heatspreaders. According to this review, RAM speeds at 1600 MHz is all you need for gaming and many RAM sticks at this speed don't need heatspreaders.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sand ... est-ddr3/6

If I were you, I'd simply choose standard-sized RAM to avoid any compatibility issues.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:26 am

automaticus wrote:Also, while I love the look of the Corsair 600T case I picked, I'm wondering whether it's a bit overkill for the components. Any comments on that? Another case that I read a lot of good things about is the NZXT Phantom 410. Might be worth looking into.


The case is really a matter of taste and preferences. If you like the looks and everything else about the Corsair 600T, then go for it. But if you just need a decent gase capable of handling all the heat from the GPU and CPU, then there are many cheaper alternatives.

NZXT Source Elite 210
NZXT Source 220
Fractal Design Core 3000
Fractal Design Arc Mini
Fractal Design Arc Midi
Fractal Design Mini
Fractal Design Define R3
Corsair 200R
Corsair 300R

... And the list goes on and on. With the money saved by not going with the expensive Corsair 600T you could easily afford additional fans to aid the GPU & CPU. But personal preferences mean a lot when it comes to picking the right case! No one would blame you for choosing the 600T if that's the case you want.
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:23 am

Just an update from my side on where I stand regarding this build. I don't think anything has changed since I last pasted the setup:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V LK ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($124.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($93.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($235.55 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 670 2GB Video Card ($437.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Corsair 600T White Graphite ATX Mid Tower Case ($148.15 @ Mac Connection)
Power Supply: Corsair Professional 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1330.64
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-28 05:58 EST-0500)

I'm just about ready to buy. I'm hung up on the motherboard and the GPU. I'm not sure why but I keep googling and searching for head-to-heads and reviews to convince myself that the two choices I made there are good. The rest I really am happy with.
The case may be a bit large, but it's an investment and I don't know what I'll be putting in it a year or two down the road. And I just love the aesthetics of it, so that's sold.
The CPU we've discussed and the i5-3570K just makes sense.
Ditto for memory and SSD.
I could arguably go with a lower-voltage power supply, but the one I picked is unanimously loved around the web and gives me some breathing-room for potentical over-clocking and additional components, so I'm confident it's a good choice.

Which leaves the GPU and the motherboard.

The way I understand it is that a factory OC'ed GTX 670 approaches GTX 680 speeds but is cheaper. And even a stock GTX 670 is plenty fast. So I think the choice I made here makes sense. Not sure why I'm still not 100% on the choice. I suppose it's a matter of being happy with the brand and I picked the Asus GTX 670 based on this Tom's Hardware article: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gef ... 17-16.html

I'm probably in overthink-mode at this point. Without question, the card I picked is a solid choice.

Which leads me to the last thing... the motherboard. Somehow I can't shake the feeling that I'm missing something with the P8Z77-V LK from Asus. I have no idea why. By googling, it doesn't show up that often in round-ups, though reviews on Newegg and Amazon are largely positive. The motherboard represents the single biggest uncertainty for me in this build at this stage.

I might be dug in too deep and I also keep reaching the same round-ups and reviews I've seen before by googling. Just trying to make the right choice for my money.

It appears the one motherboard that seems to get mentioned a lot as a direct alternative to the Asus mobo in the build now is the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD3H. It's just a tad more expensive than the Asus here in Switzerland. I keep seeing universal praise about Asus' UEFI. Then I've seen claims that Gigabyte boards at the same price-range are better overclockers. Argh.

Any last comments on all of this?
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Re: Need help fine-tuning this Z77 gaming build

Postposted on Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:54 am

According to this review, ASUS generally makes great GPU coolers.

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1325-page6.html
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