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Old February 6, 2013, 03:42 PM
Strato Strato is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posts: 15
Default Gaming / Work Build - ~$2000 Budget

Hi everyone,

It is time for me to replace my existing PC (and do a hand-me-down of my trusty current system -- my daughter will be pleased! LOL).

When I bought my last system a few years ago, the feedback I received from this forum was hugely helpful. I thought I'd run my plans by everyone this time too... :-) I'd be grateful for any feedback on my proposed build. In particular, does everything I've selected work *together* nicely? Am I missing anything or are there ways to improve the overall build?

I'm flexible on the budget, but have assumed somewhere between $2,000 and $2,500 - though obviously lower is better. Bang-for-the-buck is my main consideration.

Intended usage: This will be my day-to-day work system (Excel, Word, software development, etc.) as well as a gaming system. I'll also do some video editing, CS3, etc., although only periodically (hobbyist only). I tend to pretty well live on my computer and I do push it hard -- way too many apps running at once, etc. It is important that my system boots quickly and is very responsive. I won't be water-cooling, so air-flow is important.

I still love gaming, but don't play anywhere near as much as I used to (pushing fifty... soon I'll be practicing my "get off my lawn you damned kids" snarl...). When I do play, it's mostly Oblivion / Fallout-type RPGs. That said, I do like the eye-candy when I play so want a good video card.

Note - the pricing I've shown below does not account for any price-matching or discounting. I'll look for deals once I've finalized the component list.

Proposed System:

PROCESSOR:
CPU: Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($319.99 @ Amazon Canada)
I've opted for the i7 over the i5 mainly for the greater processing speed on non-gaming apps. Any thoughts on whether the performance improvement on programming, video editing, etc., is enough to justify the extra $100 cost? I've opted for the 'k' version so that I can do some light overclocking.

CPU COOLER:
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 65.0 CFM CPU Cooler ($84.99 @ Memory Express)
I'll be doing a bit of overclocking, but nothing aggressive. This unit is supposed to be quiet, which is a bonus. That said, this isn't a cheap unit. Is it overkill for my purposes? Alternatives???

MOTHERBOARD:
MSI Z77 MPOWER ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($194.99 @ Canada Computers)

or

ASUS Maximus V FORMULA/ASSASSINS Creed III E-ATX LGA1155 Z77 DDR3 SLI 3PCI-E16 SATA3 Motherboard [NCIX: $279.99]

I've used Asus before and quite liked them, but the reviews I've read have spoken highly of the MPower, especially for the price. Any feedback / thoughts? I overclock a bit, but I don't push the boards much at all. Mostly, I'll likely just use 'safe' oc recommendations for the board. More important to me is overall stability / reliability, lots of USB 3.0 and 2.0 ports, lots of fast SATA connections, good BIOS, etc. Any suggestions on alternative boards to the two above?

MEMORY:
G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($196.99 @ Memory Express)

Need recommendations on good RAM for this build. Am probably going to get 32gb (4x8), but have no idea what is the best bang-for-the-buck RAM that suits one of the mobos listed above. Any help in this area would be greatly appreciated. I know that 32gb RAM is overkill. However, I want it partly for a RAMDrive and partly for helping with video editing. I may end up only getting 16 gb, though, so if anyone has any recommendations it would be appreciated.

Any suggestions on ideal timings for the memory sticks? Any better sticks to get for the proposed mobos?

GRAPHICS:
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 670 2GB Video Card ($374.99 @ Canada Computers)
I don't think I need to pay the premium for a 680, though it is tempting. Any suggestions on a better-value high-end GPU than this one?

CASE:
Haven't decided on a case yet. I'm thinking of the Phantom 630, based on the reviews I've seen. However, so far I cannot find it available online anywhere in Canada. Neither NCIX or Amazon has it yet. Alternatives I'm looking at are the Corsair 650D, the NZXT Switch 810, or the Phantom 820. I also like the HAF full towers (I have a HAF 832 already, actually) -- I'm indifferent on the look, but really like the air flow, drive bays, cord management, and general build quality of of the HAF). I'm partial to a full tower or large mid-tower with lots of room to work (big clumsy hands with pathetic dexterity...). Any suggestions / recommendations?

POWER SUPPLY:
Corsair Professional 850W 80 PLUS Silver Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($144.88 @ Canada Computers)

or

Corsair Professional HX850W 850W ATX 12V 70A 24PIN ATX Modular Power Supply Active PFC 140mm Fan [NCIX: $174.99]

I plan to have a fairly heavy duty collection of hard drives in the unit (most of which I already have), so I want plenty of power available. Also, I like a solid, reliable PSU. Any thoughts on these units? Any alternative recommendations?

One key question - are the cords (ie the 8-pin connector) long enough on these PSUs given my preference for over-sized cases???

STORAGE:
Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5IN SATA3 Mdx Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD [NCIX: $289.99]

and

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($149.79 @ DirectCanada) (qty = 2)

The SSD will be the boot drive, of course. The Black would be my main storage drive. I'll install additional drives I already have for storage of raw video files, etc.

Any suggestions on alternate SSD options?

OPTICAL DRIVE:
Any suggestions on a good DVD burner? I don't use BR, so just need solid, reliable CD / DVD.

I'm almost tempted to simply omit the optical drive, since I have a USB burner available (laptop doesn't have an optical drive). However, having it always in the system is simply more convenient.

SOUND CARD:
ASUS Xonar Essence STX PCI-E1 SPDIF Sound Card 124DB SNR W/ Headphone AMP [NCIX: $199.99]

I'm not really an audiophile, but I do like decent sound. This is pretty well the max I'm willing to spend for an audio card. Any suggestions on something good, but a bit cheaper?

OPERATING SYSTEM:
Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit

I hate Microsoft. Gnaws at me to send them my money...

TOTAL PRICE:
The above items roughly total $2,500 before price-matching or looking for better deals. Ideally, I'd like to bring the total down at least a few hundred bucks since the price does not yet include taxes or shipping. Suggestions welcomed!

Thanks in advance for any and all feedback!

Last edited by Strato; February 6, 2013 at 03:48 PM.
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