Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

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Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 11:45 am

Hello Tech Report community!

Back in 2006 you guys helped me pick the components for my first build and it is still going strong! Thank you very much! I always recommend this site when people are looking for hardware advice.

This new build is for my friend who has always dreamed of playing a game on high settings without lag as he has always had to settle for the lowest settings with lag. So after doing some research here is the build I came up with:

    AMD X8 FX-8350 (125W) Eight-Core Socket AM3+, 4GHz CPU, 8Mb Cache, 32nm (FD8350FRHKBOX)
    Sapphire (11210-01-20G) AMD Radeon HD 7790 OC with Dual-X 1GB GDDR5
    ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 Socket AM3+ AMD 970/SB950 Chipset
    Corsair Vengeance Blue 16GB (4x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL9, 1.5V DIMMs (CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B)
    Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD256BW)
    Corsair Professional Series Modular HX650 80PLUS Gold Certified 650W PSU (CP-9020030-NA/US)
    Asus Xonar DSX - 7.1 Channel (GX2.5 Audio Engine) - PCI-E Audio Card
    Corsair Obsidian Series 650D Mid Tower Case (CC650DW)

What is the general opinion of the system? I saw in other first timer posts that the ram might be overkill?
Should I look into getting a better heatsink for the cpu?

I should also mention, that I am an AMD fanboy so I'm worried my bais towards them may have influenced my decision. From what I read, that processor is great for it's price range.

Thank you for the advice!
m7jones
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 12:01 pm

I advise if you are already at budget with this build to drop the 16GB down to 8GB (can add more later down the line) and use the resources for a 7850 2GB or a 7870. The 7850 comes with an extra free game, and if you go a step further the 7870 dominates.

Is your friend a huge audio freak? He's going to have to have some good speakers hooked up for that card.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 12:22 pm

He isn't an audio freak but currently there is a sale that puts that card at the same price point as, Asus Xonar DGX - 5.1 Channel + Headphone Amp (GX2.5 Audio Engine) - PCI-E Audio Card. Would you reckon that onboard would be good enough? I am pretty sure he will either be using headphones or stereo speakers, and so the aim of the sound card is to produce great 3D sound through headphones while playing games.

Thank you for the other suggestion, I've edited the build to add these two items:
    Sapphire (11200-01-20G / 11200-14-20G) AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB GDDR5
    Corsair Vengeance Blue 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1600MHz CL9 1.5V DIMMs (CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B)

Saving 30 dollars on the total cost too!
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 12:33 pm

I have no problem with an audio card, they are great, I'd just advise just because it's on sale doesn't mean it's a must-have. I get what I perceive to be great sound from my integrated audio on my machine. That's just it, though - perspective. A sound card could add to the wow-factor.

Speaking of wow-factor, a triple-monitor setup is pretty amazing. Spreading a game across three monitors is breath taking, even on low settings. You could use the saved $30 to buy the StarTech Active DisplayPort to DVI adapter.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 1:21 pm

I recommend an i5-3570k and appropriate mobo. I am also an AMD fanboy who in the space of about a year went from all AMD to all Intel, the fact is AMD just isn't competitive right now. Not only are they slower, they run hotter and burn more power to do it which means the cost difference (which isn't that much on midrange i5s) goes away after a couple years of use. There's really no point in overclocking unless it's your hobby so the stock cooler will be just fine.

You say you want max settings but 7790 is a midrange card...how many displays and what resolution are we talking about here? That is really what determines how much GPU you can make use of.

I see no point in getting a discrete sound card, that requirement died in 1999. Depending on the headphones he may not even be able to leverage more than two channels, in which case even the $50 cheapo motherboards I tend to buy would be more than enough. Discrete audio is 95% marketing BS and 5% actual improvement.

I tend to recommend stocking up on memory but if you're on a tight budget you can scrimp some here especially if it means getting into a better CPU or GPU. Also, if he's on Windows XP still and does not plan to upgrade he can't use more than 3.5 GB of memory. If that's the case you may need to make sure you've got an IDE optical drive handy at least for initial system setup, as well.

Ditch the SSD and get a 7200RPM 1TB drive and use that $100 savings to upgrade the other stuff. 256GB is not enough space if it's your only drive which is why SSD fanboys all run an SSD plus a large capacity mechanical drive. IMO SSD is 50% BS and 50% improvement, which is obviously a better tradeoff than audio but still not a showstopper.

Do you really need a $200 case? I mean seriously, it's a big chunk of metal with some buttons and stuff that hasn't changed in over ten years. If there is one area you should cheap out on it's definitely this.
Last edited by NovusBogus on Sun May 05, 2013 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Sun May 05, 2013 1:22 pm

m7jones wrote: $200 -20 code "EMCXSTX24" AMD X8 FX-8350 (125W) Eight-Core Socket AM3+, 4GHz CPU, 8Mb Cache, 32nm (FD8350FRHKBOX)
?? Aftermarket cooling
$95 -10MIR ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 Socket AM3+ AMD 970/SB950 Chipset
$125 Corsair Vengeance Blue 16GB (4x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL9, 1.5V DIMMs (CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B)
$134 -10MIR Sapphire (11210-01-20G) AMD Radeon HD 7790 OC with Dual-X 1GB GDDR5
$220 Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD256BW)
?? Additional storage
?? Optical drive
?? Card reader
$95¼ Asus Xonar DSX - 7.1 Channel (GX2.5 Audio Engine) - PCI-E Audio Card
$190 -10MIR Corsair Obsidian Series 650D Mid Tower Case (CC650DW)
$120 -10MIR Corsair Professional Series Modular HX650 80PLUS Gold Certified 650W PSU (CP-9020030-NA/US) (54 A @ +12 V, Modular)
??? Operating system
======
$1,159¼ + ??? -40MIR

Could your friend wait a month until Haswell arrives? What would you think of these components?

$221 Intel Core i5-3570K or wait for Haswell Core i5-4670K
optional $30 -5MIR CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo
$130 -15MIR Asus P8Z77-V LK or wait for a Z87 LGA1150 motherboard

A quad-core Ivy Bridge processor provides excellent gaming performance while generating relatively little heat. The aftermarket heatsink isn't necessary, but it is quieter and more effective than the one that Intel includes in the box with the CPU. With a "K" processor and a Z77 motherboard, overclocking is effortless, if you need it.

$65 2x4 GiB PC3-14900 G.Skill F3-1866C9D-8GAB (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5 V)
or $70 2x4 GiB PC3-12800 Crucial BLT2K4G3D1608ET3LX0 (DDR3-1600, CAS 8, 1.35 V)
or $130 -19½ code "EMCXRXT33" 2x8 GiB PC3-14900 G.Skill F3-1866C9D-16GXM (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5 V)
or $125 2x8 GiB PC3-14900 AMD AP316G1869U2K (DDR3-1866, CAS 9, 1.5 V)

8 GiB of memory is sufficient for gaming. If the budget can stand it, there's no harm in getting 16 GiB. However, you're better off with 2x8 GiB than with the 4x4 GiB in your original list.

$184 HIS H785F2G2M Radeon HD7850 2GB
or $205 -15MIR Sapphire 100354OC-2L Radeon HD7870 2GB
or $212½ EVGA 02G-P4-2660-KR GeForce GTX660 2GB
or $260 -25MIR PNY VCGGTX660TXPB GeForce GTX660Ti 2GB

The graphics card has the biggest influence on gaming performance. If your friend's monitor runs at 1920x1200 or 1920x1080, any of these mid-range cards provides good gaming performance. If your friend doesn't already have at least a 1080p monitor, we should add one to the list.
optional $172 -10MIR 23" Asus VS239H-P 1920x1080 e-IPS LCD
or optional $147 21½" Asus VS229H-P 1920x1080 e-IPS LCD

$170 250 GB Samsung 840
optional $135 -15 code "EMCYTZT3391" 3.0 TB Seagate ST3000DM001
free with case $ 0 LiteOn iHAS124-04 DVD burner
or optional $70 LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray burner
optional $33½ 5¼" USB3 card reader
or optional $32 3½" USB3 card reader

Although the performance of the Samsung 840 Pro SSD is very good, the 840 is probably fast enough and it's considerably cheaper. Your friend will probably still want a mechanical hard-drive for storing stuff that won't fit on the SSD. You could re-use drives from his existing PC.

$70 Creative Labs Sound Blaster Recon3D THX PCIE Fatal1ty Pro
or $73 Creative Labs Sound Blaster Recon3D
or $ 0 Integrated Realtek ALC892 audio on the motherboard

$60 -10MIR Corsair Carbide 200R
or $60 Antec Three Hundred
optional $12 5¼" to 3½" drive bay adapter
$90 SeaSonic Gold SSR-550RM (45 A @ +12 V, Modular)
or $90 Antec EarthWatts Platinum EA-550 (43 A @ +12 V)
or $90 SeaSonic Bronze M12 II 650 SS-650AM (53 A @ +12 V, Modular)
or $83 -20MIR Corsair Bronze CX600M (46 A @ +12 V, Modular)

If the budget is limited, don't spend a fortune on a giant case and an overpriced power supply.

needed $100 Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit (16 GiB limit)
or $140 Microsoft Windows 8 64-bit Professional

You've got to have an operating system. It should be either Windows 8 or Windows 7, 64-bit edition.

======
$990 + added $283½ -30 MIR

Putting money into a better graphics card instead of an expensive case will provide much better gaming performance. The components that I selected are about $169 less expensive than the ones on your list. They should provide a better gaming experience.
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: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Mon May 06, 2013 1:00 am

m7jones wrote:Hello Tech Report community!
[...]
This new build is for my friend who has always dreamed of playing a game on high settings without lag as he has always had to settle for the lowest settings with lag. So after doing some research here is the build I came up with:

    AMD X8 FX-8350 (125W) Eight-Core Socket AM3+, 4GHz CPU, 8Mb Cache, 32nm (FD8350FRHKBOX)
    Sapphire (11210-01-20G) AMD Radeon HD 7790 OC with Dual-X 1GB GDDR5
    ASUS M5A97 LE R2.0 Socket AM3+ AMD 970/SB950 Chipset
    Corsair Vengeance Blue 16GB (4x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3 CL9, 1.5V DIMMs (CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B)
    Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" SATA 6Gb/s Solid State Drive (MZ-7PD256BW)
    Corsair Professional Series Modular HX650 80PLUS Gold Certified 650W PSU (CP-9020030-NA/US)
    Asus Xonar DSX - 7.1 Channel (GX2.5 Audio Engine) - PCI-E Audio Card
    Corsair Obsidian Series 650D Mid Tower Case (CC650DW)

What is the general opinion of the system? I saw in other first timer posts that the ram might be overkill?
Should I look into getting a better heatsink for the cpu?
[...]


Tell him to get half the RAM (i.e. 8 GB), lose the SSD, get a cheaper Bronze rated PSU around 500W, lose the audio card, get a cheaper case and pump the savings into a high end, custom cooled video card. For gaming a WD Caviar Black HDD will be good enough and he can buy an SSD later on. Also he should buy an after market CPU cooler from the get go.
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Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Mon May 06, 2013 2:04 am

FX6300 instead of FX8350 ($75 saved)
-- games dont need 8 cores
8GB RAM instead of 16 ($55 saved)
Regular Samsung 840 instead of the 840 pro ($70 saved)
-- I disagree with forgoing an SSD in favor of mechanical. SSD is just too good to pass on, and even a low-end SSD is still going to feel much more responsive than even a high-end mechanical.
That's about $200 saved.

Dump that money saved into a better GPU. The 7790 is $150, so an additional $200 will get you right into 7950 Boost territory.

As alternates, you can go i5-3400 or GTX670.
You can also cut even further down on the SSD, get a cheaper case maybe and go for a 7970.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Mon May 06, 2013 7:21 am

I think the build is sound - nothing wrong with it, but you could get a better gaming experience and save money by:
  • Upgrading the graphics card. 660Ti or 7950 would be worthwhile upgrades if he really wants high graphics detail
  • Going with 2x4 or 2x8 RAM instead of needlessly filling all four slots.
  • Going for an FX 6350 with higher boost clocks, or getting an i5 3570K for higher IPC (which games love) - obviously the 6350 saves some money.
  • Getting a Samsung 840 non-Pro. For a gaming build, the extra (and expensive) write-speed advantage of the 840 Pro is wasted.
  • Ditching the Xonar; Good onboard sound is usually better than desktop speakers and many headphones. He can always add a soundcard on later if he feels he wants one.
  • Buy a cheaper case. The 650D is expensive and you can save almost $125 by getting something like a 200R. Look for case/PSU combos - as long as the PSU is 80+ and 550W or more, you'll be fine.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Mon May 06, 2013 8:15 am

I see a lot of people talking about saving money, but no mention of budget from OP. Having a 840 Pro, 16 GB RAM, and the 650D case is really no issue so long as they still fit within the budget, but we would need to know what said budget is. Otherwise, some general points (also made by others).

Don't drop the SSD altogether (unless your budget is very strict). Even if 120 GB sounds small, you can still install the OS on it and get a major performance boost, then install/link games to the mechanical storage (and we're talking about twice that space on SSD)...speaking of storage, though, get a mechanical sidekick. 7200 RPM WD or Seagate @ 1TB should be pretty standard and have great value.

Audio cards are not important unless you have a nice audio setup. If he does have or plans to invest in a nice pair of audiophile headphones on this build, getting the card would be worth it, but if not, the value wouldn't really be seen. They're easy to install later, though. Side note: don't buy headphones/headsets tagged "gaming" or with surround sound. The "gaming" class is typically low quality and gimmicky, and games will have headphone settings that will provide surround sound effects.

1xDIMM/channel is optimal for RAM. If you want 16 GB, go 2x8 GB. If 8 GB is fine and budgets better, go 2x4 GB.

For AMD vs Intel, the Intel CPUs are running cooler, use less power, etc. Others have already pointed this out. A solid quad-core like the 3570k will be more than enough (and has easy overclocking potential). The FX-8350 is probably an okay alternative, but it will be hotter and have less overclocking potential, even though the base is higher than the Intel.

On GPUs, two points. First, the GPU typically is more impactful on gaming performance than the CPU. Second, GPUs are easier to change. I would balance the budget between the two since you can upgrade later. If you get something in the 3570k price range, a good GPU mate would be the Red 7950 or Green 660 Ti. Both should be solid for 1080p.

EDIT: cleanup.
Last edited by superjawes on Mon May 06, 2013 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Mon May 06, 2013 8:27 am

Additionally, we are extremely close to the launch of Haswell, which should improve CPU performance and run cooler. Since that's less than a month away, it's probably a good idea to wait and adjust the build to a newly released CPU (and any other deals that happen around then).

The monitor is also important. If your friend doesn't already have one, he should plan on getting (at least) a 23" 1080p IPS display. There seem to be several affordable displays that fit this bill. Getting something cheaper will typically require a switch to TN tech, and you'll lose the viewing angle advantage of IPS, and that's going to be a major usability factor in the long run. Acer and LG both have good offerings.

Be sure to seriously consider mATX for motherboards and cases. A full ATX board and Mid ATX case will often have a lot of unsued space, even for an enthusiast. If you aren't planning on putting more than one GPU into a board, mATX will have the additional space for an audio card. Even the smaller mATX cases have room for multiple hard drives and 5.25" bays (not that anyone seems to use more than one anymore...).

Don't fret over "special savings" either. Prices will always float a little bit, and there's almost always a new deal tomorrow to replace the deal of today. Well...maybe not that quick, but there will always be deals available, and if something new releases, that can reduce the price of existing product.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 12:03 pm

superjawes wrote:I see a lot of people talking about saving money, but no mention of budget from OP. Having a 840 Pro, 16 GB RAM, and the 650D case is really no issue so long as they still fit within the budget, but we would need to know what said budget is

1) Who doesn't like to save money without noticeably sacrificing performance?
2) Budget aside, there are certain things that typically don't get seen together very often, like a case that costs more than the GPU inside it.

Otherwise, same as everyone else has been suggesting: 120GB Samsung 840 (non-Pro) SSD + mechanical hdd, 8GB memory, no sound card for now (let him sample your sound card compared to your integrated audio to see if that's what he wants), and here's why everyone will recommend an i5 over AMD for a gaming build.

Also, do you live near a Microcenter? They have great CPU + mobo combo deals.
Last edited by DPete27 on Wed May 08, 2013 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Tue May 07, 2013 8:22 pm

True story, Microcenter has been running a good quad for about 50 bucks below street value for a while now--often they throw in a discount on a motherboard as well. A $230 i5+mobo deal is what kicked off my conversion to the dark side.
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Re: Second Time Builder back for the amazing advice

Postposted on Wed May 08, 2013 1:19 am

I'm with Chrispy_; I agree with all his recommendations.

superjawes - if the budget is not an issue, should go with a better GPU and an Intel CPU. But because of the CPU/GPU choices in the OP, I have a feeling there might be a budget in place
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