#1 Edited by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

Alright, guys. I've been looking at putting a new PC together. I have some specific things I want to be able to do with it, and so I'm trying to be careful not to rush into any components that aren't going to work for me. I figured I'd get some of your opinions. Additionally, I feel like some people may need a break from the internet ridiculousness that's resulted from all of the E3 madness. (I certainly do.) Let's talk about PCs, shall we?

The Endgame

When discussing PC builds, it's important to outline the things we want our computers to do, so here's a quick breakdown:

  • This will be a gaming machine, primarily
  • I want to play games at 1080p, 60 frames per second
  • I want to begin experimenting with overclocking
  • I want this machine to last at least three years or so
  • Room for future expansion is key
  • I'd like for my total cost to stay under $1,500

The Tentative Build (**UPDATED)

So this is what I'm thinking right now:

ComponentSpecificsReasoningPrice
CPUIntel Core i5-4670K Haswell 3.4GHzI realize that Haswell brings minimal improvements at best to gaming, but it's the latest and greatest, and I feel like thirty or so more dollars isn't going to kill me. I'd rather have the latest tech. Unlocked multiplier for overclocking purposes.$249
GPUEVGA SuperClocked GTX 770According to several articles I've read, including one by the trustworthy Loyd Case over at Tested, the new 770 seems to be the best card for the money right now. Since it just came out, I feel like there's no better time to jump on it. Seems like it should do real well with 1080p, 60 fps gaming for a good couple years.$419
MotherboardMSI Z87-G45This is where I'm less sure of things. This seems like a decent board, and of course supports Haswell's 1150 socket. It has lots of features including, but not limited to: a built-in headphone amp, lots of USB3 ports, crazy RAM OC support, and some "OC genie" thing that makes overclocking simple. I'm not sure about MSI as a brand, though. I'd like to avoid spending $250+ on something like a Sabertooth when I don't feel like I'll necessarily be taking advantage of something more high-end like that.$159
**MotherboardASUS Maximus VI HeroA little bit expensive, but the components are of higher quality than the previously listed MSI and seems worth it. I currently have an ASUS board and trust the brand. Also, this is an overclocking-focused motherboard, so it should do whatever I need it to in that regard.$229
PSUCORSAIR TX Series 650WThis is the real questionable spot for me, which I'll elaborate on below. 650 Watts is certainly enough oomph to run these components—if not for my urge to overclock. It currently sits in the "probably enough" group, which concerns me. Not to mention I'm a SeaSonic fan.$79
**PSUSeaSonic X Series X650Feeling confident in a 650W power supply, I've decided to go ahead and swap to this SeaSonic, as it's a brand I know produces high-quality products. The X Series is by all accounts excellent, so I hope it works out.$119
RAMG.SKILL Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3 1866Highly-rated RAM with a high 1866 frequency. As I understand it, Haswell better takes advantage of frequencies greater than 1600. Eight gigs seems like a great starting point. Cool? Cool.$72
CoolerCORSAIR Hydro Series H100i Water CoolerDo I need this? I'm not totally sure. I just want to make sure my overclocked CPU stays cool, and watercooling seems like a good option. Not to mention it's way more awesome than latching a giant heatsync onto the poor motherboard. My chosen Corsair case would fully support the large radiator via a hidden top fan mount area, so it'd be nice and sleek.$109
CaseCorsair Carbide Series 500R Arctic WhiteIt's a case. Perhaps a bit expensive, but I want something that's easy on the eyes, and this fits the bill. It also goes nicely with Corsair water coolers. Very open to changes here, though.$129
~$1,326

I already own both a large HDD and an SSD with Windows installed, so I'll be dropping those in.

Here's a Question

My largest concern at this point is selecting an appropriate power supply for what I'll be doing with this build. As I understand it, overclocking can really increase the amount of power needed. From what I gather, the power increase resulting from overclocking is linear (and therefore fairly minimal) until you start to adjust voltages, at which point power usage grows exponentially. That sounds terrifying. It makes me think that I may need to jump up to the 750 or even 850 Watt range of PSUs if I want to do any overclocking that requires a voltage bump. I don't know a lot about overclocking, so I'm not even sure if I'll need to be messing with voltages. This is where I hope some of you guys can really shed some light. What should I be aiming for in terms of wattage given my overclocking plans and current components?

I'd be glad to hear thoughts relating to anything else as well. And hey, if you guys would like to straight hijack this thread for your own PC-related nefarious means, have at it.

In the wake of new consoles, let's talk about PCs.

#2 Edited by Nephrahim (1154 posts) -

I know that intel motherboards can be a little expensive, but I would still be a little wary of MSI boards. The're just not as reliable as a Gigabyte or an Asus.

Your PSU should be much more then enough. I'm just eyeballing it and not putting it into a calculator, but unless you do some SERIOUS overclocking I've never seen the increase matter enough to go over 600 watts.

Water cooling is nice, as long as you want to deal with it. I think a nice big air cooler is fine, but that's just preference.

#3 Posted by Korwin (2903 posts) -

The H100i is pretty magic for a closed loop solution, Haswell does run quite hot thanks to it's low die size and integrated VRM's. I'm running my 4770K at 4.6ghz and it's pushing the limits of my custom loop.

Corsair are my current go to for power supplies, that unit will serve you well although personally I would use the HX if only to take advantage of the reduced cable mess you get using modular units.

I haven't seen much on MSI's z87 offerings yet, I can say however that Asus have done a good job out the door (the z87 Deluxe I'm using is rock solid and the UEFI feels amazing mature for a new release).

The OC GTX770, yep no brainer. Best card to buy at the moment unless you're a lunatic like me.

#4 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@samdrugbringer: Yeah, I'm still very much undecided on that mobo. I currently have an Asus, so perhaps I'll go back to that. Thing is, there don't seem to be a ton of 1150 socket motherboards out there yet, so my options are somewhat limited, but I'll keep looking around a bit.

Well, that GTX 770 lists 600 Watts as the baseline requirement. I know they tend to overestimate to be safe, but going only a bit higher than that and then overclocking things doesn't seem like the smartest idea in the world. Especially if I'll be adjusting voltages. It'd still be awesome if someone could tell me if I'll even need to be messing with that level of overclocking. I mean, I guess it's my choice, but I don't necessarily want to wring every last ounce of power out of these parts, but more just get my feet wet with overclocking. So maybe voltages won't come into play?

Also worth noting I suppose is that I'm aware that only running about half of your PSU's maximum wattage is smart, as to not overwork the thing. But there's also the factor of higher wattage PSUs not being quite as efficient, so it seems like a tough balancing act to find something that's just right. I guess what I need to know is if I'll be able to run these components and overclock them while staying around 325 Watts, or if my peak would reach out to the 375-400 Watt range. That seems a little crazy, and I don't think it would, but unfortunately it seems kinda tough to know.

Earlier, I plugged a device into my outlet that tells me how many Watts are passing through it at any given time. With my current PC plugged in, I was drawing about 85 on startup and 65 at idle. I ran Tomb Raider to try to push my GPU and CPU a bit and see how much power I'd draw. Seems that my current max while running a game like that is ~180 Watts, which is way lower than I'd have expected. But then the GTX 770 (as opposed to a 6870) and i5 (as opposed to an i3) will draw significantly more power. Still, you may be right that I'd still be fine with a 650W PSU. I just don't know for sure!

#5 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@korwin said:

The H100i is pretty magic for a closed loop solution, Haswell does run quite hot thanks to it's low die size and integrated VRM's. I'm running my 4770K at 4.6ghz and it's pushing the limits of my custom loop.

Corsair are my current go to for power supplies, that unit will serve you well although personally I would use the HX if only to take advantage of the reduced cable mess you get using modular units.

I haven't seen much on MSI's z87 offerings yet, I can say however that Asus have done a good job out the door (the z87 Deluxe I'm using is rock solid and the UEFI feels amazing mature for a new release).

The OC GTX770, yep no brainer. Best card to buy at the moment unless you're a lunatic like me.

Good to hear about the H100i.

I was looking at an HX model earlier, but it had lots of reviews complaining about an infamous chirping sound issue. Apparently it's quite annoying, and I didn't want to have to deal with that. I don't know, maybe I'll try my luck. Still very undecided on my PSU situation. So as someone who overclocks, you'd say a 650W power supply would do just fine?

I'll definitely look into Asus mobos, as I like my current one (despite it being super cheap).

Oh, and, holy crap—that specific 770 just sold out on Newegg. Ha. Well alright.

#6 Posted by Korwin (2903 posts) -

650 watts should be more than adequate for that setup, you may need to reconsider if you ever go multi gpu since you would be throwing another 200ish watts on top again. I'm not aware of said chirping sound, I'm using a first gen HX (the current model is the V2) and it's been dead quiet. Still if it's a concern then by all means check out some other vendors (just be sure to check that the units are Haswell certified).

#7 Posted by Shivoa (635 posts) -

That looks a fine build. Very high end, gaming focus list of key parts.

I'm an air-cooler guy myself (because water + computers = expensive if mistakes happen, also I was about for the early watercooling kit that ate the metal after a while - I'm sure these modern closed loop coolers are totally fine but I'm sticking with air and cheap & cheerful stuff like the CM Hyper 212 Evo).

You have more than enough power from that PSU (Core i7-3960X @ 4.3GHz, GTX770 overclocked as far as one can overclock a card that has a thermal/power limit sucking 400W or less at the wall when being tested in-game) but I'm not going to call you insane if you look at 750W (I've had good experience with CoolerMaster GX PSUs, Corsair is the brand a lot of people put at the top of their cheap but dependable list) and say you want to make sure you have plenty of headroom and maybe in a few years can use if for the next PC (even if the trend for a few years has been using less total power and not more, someone with a high end PC from 5 years ago needed more of a PSU than you need today). I think the driver/support headache of SLI/CrossFire isn't worth it but a 750W PSU means you can get a second GPU in there if you want at a later date. As I say, not what I'd recommend but if a CM GX 750W is only $60 on NewEgg with rebates then it saves a few pennies and gives you more scope to mix it up later. Deals on Corsair PSUs also seem to pop up all the time.

A few years ago I would say make sure the onboard audio on the motherboard has optical out and could do real-time Dolby Digital encoding (DDLive was the old brand, for DTS is was called DTS Connect) for any AV Receiver / 5.1 system you want to run with perfect digital signals to avoid any quality issues. Today then the best way to get good multi-channel sound out of the PC is via the HDMI cable coming out of the graphics card and AV Receivers are designed to expect that type of input so you paid for the audio chip on the graphics card rather than buying a non-bad motherboard audio solution. I don't have a problem with MSI and that is certainly the right price range for a motherboard but you might want to check out the other suppliers (ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte, etc) and see if they've got some good alternatives, I know MSI have a reputation for coming in on the cheap side rather than the dependable, works first time side of the equation.

For RAM I'd say we're about ready to say consoles have 8GB and no massive block of Windows memory sitting in the background as you game (at least not on PS4). It might be time to target $120 to get up to 2 x 8GB sticks. 8GB will be more than fine today. In 2 years maybe it is nicer to have 16GB.

Finally on the point of future-proofing, there are 4GB GTX770 cards coming. They won't be horribly more expensive ($20-30 possibly) than the 2GB models. AMD at anything close to this price range have been giving gamers 3GB of RAM for their GPU. The consoles both having unified pools of 8GB RAM means developers are going to be less concerned about being careful about textures and working out performance vs load times vs how detailed they can make 1080p games as the generation progresses. The PC will have plenty of settings for GPU RAM way down into 512MB and below for a few years but the really nice, this is how the devs want it to look stuff may benefit from looking out for those 4GB models to hit and grabbing those ones. Like the system RAM, this is speculation about the future and today you will not find a single game that gives a damn (especially as 1080p isn't a terrible large frame buffer - even if stuff like implementing AA (especially with deferred rendering) makes it a lot larger than you expect) about the 2GB or 4GB version of that card but if you want at least 3 years of good service it might be worth throwing a bit of extra change at making sure you're not caught short by cross-platform developers expecting quite a bit of RAM within reach of the GPU.

#8 Edited by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@shivoa: Thanks for the lengthy reply.

You make a good point about power usage trending lower as opposed to higher. I also just read a bit more about ideal headroom with PSUs and realized that I was misunderstanding a bit. I was under the impression that you never wanted to go much higher than 50% load, but really your average load should be around 50% for peak efficiency. I guess depending on the certification of the PSU, you can safely push the thing up towards 85-90% of max load? Seems to be the case anyway. That makes me feel a lot better about going with 650 Watts.

I'm not completely sure what my needs are in terms of audio. I have a decent 2.1 system right now, but it's analog and plugs into my mobo. I don't have a receiver of any kind. Maybe it would benefit me to buy a sound card somewhere down the line. But honestly, I'd probably have to buy better speakers to hear a difference. I just liked the idea of a built-in headphone amp in the MSI board, but it's by no means a deal maker.

You're probably right about more RAM becoming more of a standard in a couple years, but I figure when the time comes I'll buy two more 4 gig sticks and be good to go. I don't really see a reason to go beyond 8 at this point when it'll be so easy to upgrade when I need to.

With that 770 now being sold out, I guess I'll have a good bit of time to look around, or wait for the 4 gig version.

@korwin said:

650 watts should be more than adequate for that setup, you may need to reconsider if you ever go multi gpu since you would be throwing another 200ish watts on top again. I'm not aware of said chirping sound, I'm using a first gen HX (the current model is the V2) and it's been dead quiet. Still if it's a concern then by all means check out some other vendors (just be sure to check that the units are Haswell certified).

I'm not too concerned with ever wanting to run an SLI setup. I've heard nothing but middling things. Seems like the better route to just eventually upgrade to a better single GPU than trying to SLI.

Oh, and I was looking at the reviews for the HX again, and it is indeed the V2 version which people complain about the chirping. Kind of unfortunate.

Anyway, I was thinking about maybe going with this.

#9 Posted by Shivoa (635 posts) -

@jjweatherman: Another thing to remember with PSUs is there are two power figures you'll be jumping between. There is power at the wall, which is what most reviewers use and is a device between the power cable and the outlet that works out how much Wattage is going through the wires. And then there is power used by the PC, the sum of all the power drains made by components connected to the PSU. These are not the same thing.

PSUs are given in the power they should be able to provide to all components on the different voltage rails they provide to. If you connected components to each rail to the maximum the PSU can feed you could run 650W of components on a 650W PSU but at the wall it would be taking that power plus whatever inefficiency is in the PSU doing the conversion of mains to 1.XV, 3.3V, 5V and 12V (the voltage rails). You are looking at 80-90% efficiency so at the wall that 650W PSU would be drawing 812W (for an 80% efficient PSU) and be within spec. Do not run PSUs at 100% because the numbers are sometime a touch optimistic (buying a good brand protects you from buying one where they outright lied about the sustained Wattage it can provide). That 400 Watts of power draw I linked to above for an overclocked system means that (even with a 90% efficient PSU) the components were only actually drawing 360W. Those 80PLUS metals are giving you the efficiency levels of the PSU but it doesn't really matter because you're getting the specified output Wattage so that's just paying more for very slightly cheaper electricity bills.

Of course, you probably aren't going to be giving a PSU the ideal mix of components for each of the maximum power output of the individual rails so the maximum power you can get out of a PSU isn't going to be the number on the box. But you're buying something that with a reasonable overclock will barely be asking for half of the power of a 650W PSU so that isn't a major concern, but it is why you don't add up the draw of all your components and then buy the lowers rated PSU above that. A bit of headroom isn't a bad plan and 550-750W PSUs from reliable brands often drop down into the $50 area that's good value and make buying a lesser Wattage a bit of a pointless mission to save cents.

#10 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@shivoa: Right. I actually own a "Kill-a-Watt," so that's what I was talking about using before.

Anyway, thanks for the further info. I'd never really had a reason to dig too deeply into how all this stuff actually works before, but it's good to have a better understanding.

#11 Edited by Devildoll (899 posts) -

if you plan on keeping the entire rig for 3 years without upgrading anything, and a 4 GB model is actually just 30 bucks more than the 2 GB ones, I'd take one of those,
Even thought a 770 Probably isn't powerful enough to crank out enough frames per second for a pleasant experience on a scene that requires 4 GB's of memory by itself.

#12 Posted by Colourful_Hippie (4425 posts) -

The one thing that has been making me go for an i7 for my upcoming build is for emulation but it looks like I won't get that much of a boost over that i5 so I'm thinking about having a pretty similar build to this except have a 780.

#13 Posted by Shivoa (635 posts) -

if you plan on keeping the entire rig for 3 years without upgrading anything, and a 4 GB model is actually just 30 bucks more than the 2 GB ones, I'd take one of those,

Even thought a 770 Probably isn't powerful enough to crank out enough frames per second for a pleasant experience on a scene that requires 4 GB's of memory by itself.

I load up 4GB of textures and depending where you look I use a different set of textures. The 2GB card requires me to page out 2GB of textures and saturates that PCIe connection trying to shuffle the right textures to the GPU's RAM when the player is looking in the direction that uses them. At no point would even a much slower card than the blazing GTX770 run out of performance to hit 60fps for each frame, the issue is taking a performance hit from throwing new textures at the card when they're needed over the lifetime of the level.

These are really fast cards with double the pixel fill rate and almost triple the texel fill rate of something not all that old like the GTX570. Not conclusive but I feel that scenes with more than 2GB of texture data aren't going to be rare or a problem for this level of GPU, especially as you don't need to eat the most of the memory for each culled view (just at a very basic level you don't need to worry about reading most of the memory because texture filtering is only looking at a few samples and depending on the distance to surface and texture scale the mipmap levels are doing the sampling work at compile time - most of a texture data is not read to render that texture as it stores every single detail level and with Anisotropic even takes three different angling options to find the best sample mipmap). A lot of engines stream in and out data and that is a great solution, for the games that don't use it then we're going to look at dumping all the level's texture assets into the GPU's RAM at the load and with these consoles offering large RAM pools I think the next 3 years is a good window in which to say buying a $400 card you should expect 3GB at least.

Is this certain that 2GB will be a roadblock for games? Dunno (I'm a coder but rendering tech is a hobby curiosity not my research focus). Would someone primarily concerned with consoles with a 5-7GB (accessible) unified memory pool worry about this when developing their tech? Possibly not until they wrote a low quality pass mode for lesser hardware where the focus was getting towards what their original intent was, maybe by only using 25% of the memory with halving the textures.

If this was a $200 card then I'd say it was more of a toss-up and companies dump too much slow RAM into the cards lower down because marketing thing people select GPUs based on the big numbers (assuming some people think the RAM quantity is a proxy for performance - I hope every person who does thing that has a friend who can give them buying advice) but this is the fastest frequency RAM you can find (256bit bus vs 384bit so it isn't ideal but 7GHz with overclocking to possibly hit 8GHz is crazy and takes back some of that disadvantage in width) and at the very sharp end of performance. If this was my money, I would wait out the 4GB cards and see if they can hit a $20-30 premium over these 2GB models.

#14 Edited by OldManLight (893 posts) -

my rule of thumb has always been spec my PSU to whatever the graphics card + CPU require plus another 100W or so for head room, more if i'm ever planning on doing an SLI or Crossfire setup. Good luck with your build. I'm sure all of us could share tons of stories from builds past if you have more questions.

side note, saw that same case in the moneysaver on kotaku earlier today for $70. http://kotaku.com/the-moneysaver-lost-planet-3-arkham-origins-two-soul-513164594 think the deal is expired now though :(

#15 Edited by VooDooPC (333 posts) -

I have an H100i on my i7 3770k running at 4.7ghz. It's pretty sweet!

#16 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@shivoa: @devildoll:

It's a good thing to consider. And wow, that's a lot to take in, Shivoa, ha. I had to read that over a couple of times to feel like I mostly grasped what you were saying.

I looked into it a bit, and it seems that the 4GB version of this card is actually going for $510, at least on Newegg. Also it's sold out. But that seems to be a bit much, especially considering the uncertainty of whether or not it'll really make too much of a difference on a single monitor 1080p setup. I wish Nvidia wouldn't skimp so much in this area. Make it easier on us and just put 4GB in all of your higher-end cards! If only.

The one thing that has been making me go for an i7 for my upcoming build is for emulation but it looks like I won't get that much of a boost over that i5 so I'm thinking about having a pretty similar build to this except have a 780.

Nice. I just don't feel like I can justify the extra money for a 780. That would be nice, though, and I'm sure you'll be super happy with it for quite a while.

Do you have any specific motherboard in mind for your build? I seem to remember you posting about a build before, but it's quite possible that things have changed. I've been considering spending a bit more and going with something like the ASUS Maximus VI Hero. Apparently the theoretical build quality is very high. Not to mention it's designed with overclocking in mind, which is what I'm wanting to explore.

my rule of thumb has always been spec my PSU to whatever the graphics card + CPU require plus another 100W or so for head room, more if i'm ever planning on doing an SLI or Crossfire setup. Good luck with your build. I'm sure all of us could share tons of stories from builds past if you have more questions.

side note, saw that same case in the moneysaver on kotaku earlier today for $70. http://kotaku.com/the-moneysaver-lost-planet-3-arkham-origins-two-soul-513164594 think the deal is expired now though :(

I feel pretty okay about 650 Watts now. What I think I'll end up doing is plugging my system into my Kill-a-Watt and measuring the wattage before pushing it at all. Then of course measure it while I stress test, and then as I overclock. I'll just take it slowly and make sure I'm not overdoing anything.

But anyway, I'm not sure I have any more specific questions, but I'd always love to hear stories! Tragic cautionary tales, stories of sweet success, or anything else, ha. But this'll be my second build, so I feel like I more or less know what I'm doing.

And there is a deal on that case now, but seemingly not for as low as $70. Ah well.

@voodoopc said:

I have an H100i on my i7 3770k running at 4.7ghz. It's pretty sweet!

Good to hear! Seems like it'll be perfect for me. I've been watching a few videos on how to install the thing, and while it certainly looks like more of a pain than the stock Intel stuff, it doesn't seem too tough. The one aspect that seems a little iffy is the way the pump slides around on top of the CPU when you're first getting the screws in and tight. I guess I'll just be careful and try to hold it on place as best I can. I'd definitely listen to any tips regarding installation if you have any.

#17 Edited by Zlimness (564 posts) -

@jjweatherman:

I have the exact same case with a H60 cooler. The case is spacious and easy to work in, so it wasn't a big problem to mount the cooler. But yeah, be careful once you've applied the paste and stick the cooler on the CPU. It will squirm a bit :) but it's a lot easier with the Intel brackets. I had a AMD CPU first and it was much more difficult to get that in place. I also changed the fans to Noctua. The 500R case is open and noisy as it is without the stock Corsair fans. Other than that and some cheap plastic parts, the case has a nice quality feel. It feels future proof as well. You can mount a lot of massive GPUs in there if you remove the storage trays. The storage trays are designed for both 3.5 HDDs and 2.5 SDDs.

#18 Posted by Daveyo520 (6872 posts) -
#19 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@jjweatherman: Get good stuff.

Helpful! I'll do my best.

@zlimness said:

@jjweatherman:

I have the exact same case with a H60 cooler. The case is spacious and easy to work in, so it wasn't a big problem to mount the cooler. But yeah, be careful once you've applied the paste and stick the cooler on the CPU. It will squirm a bit :) but it's a lot easier with the Intel brackets. I had a AMD CPU first and it was much more difficult to get that in place. I also changed the fans to Noctua. The 500R case is open and noisy as it is without the stock Corsair fans. Other than that and some cheap plastic parts, the case has a nice quality feel. It feels future proof as well. You can mount a lot of massive GPUs in there if you remove the storage trays. The storage trays are designed for both 3.5 HDDs and 2.5 SDDs.

Nice.

So you applied your own thermal paste? I know they pre-apply some stuff, and I wouldn't be sure how to safely remove that to put on my own. Seems easier to just use the pre-applied.

As far as the Noctua fans, I didn't know those existed until now. And now I want a couple. I'll try out the stock fans to test the noise level and see if I want to upgrade from there. Fan swaps on a radiator would be simple to do down the line, after all.

#20 Posted by Hunter5024 (5849 posts) -

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

#21 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

I've found that when it comes to PC building, it's a deep hole, but you can largely choose how deeply you want to go down it. If you want to build a simple machine that'll play awesome looking games, that's pretty dead simple. It's only when you start wandering down darker, more obscure paths that things can get complicated in a hurry.

Anyway, when are you planning to build a PC? Any time soon?

#22 Posted by Hunter5024 (5849 posts) -

@hunter5024 said:

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

I've found that when it comes to PC building, it's a deep hole, but you can largely choose how deeply you want to go down it. If you want to build a simple machine that'll play awesome looking games, that's pretty dead simple. It's only when you start wandering down darker, more obscure paths that things can get complicated in a hurry.

Anyway, when are you planning to build a PC? Any time soon?

I'm actually looking up parts now, trying to learn about them, and planning to buy one part each pay day as soon as I get a job. So hopefully I'll be beginning within a month or so.

#23 Posted by Dalai (7048 posts) -

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

I had a similar mentality when I was building my new PC last week. It's definitely an interesting project to undertake and it's not as difficult as it seems. You'll eventually learn what some of these terms mean and there's always people to help and criticize your choices.

#24 Posted by PillClinton (3291 posts) -

This is gonna be a sweet rig, gettin' in right at the start of a new Intel "tock," and a new gen of Nvidia cards. Enjoy, man, this'll demolish anything at 1080p for quite some time. Also, while that case is a bit pricey, it's a good one. Corsair's gotten quite good at cases with the Carbide series.

#25 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@jjweatherman said:

@hunter5024 said:

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

I've found that when it comes to PC building, it's a deep hole, but you can largely choose how deeply you want to go down it. If you want to build a simple machine that'll play awesome looking games, that's pretty dead simple. It's only when you start wandering down darker, more obscure paths that things can get complicated in a hurry.

Anyway, when are you planning to build a PC? Any time soon?

I'm actually looking up parts now, trying to learn about them, and planning to buy one part each pay day as soon as I get a job. So hopefully I'll be beginning within a month or so.

Cool. You may have already, but you should watch some PC build videos. Tested has some great ones, of course. I find those to be pretty informative. Also do some Googling for different levels of PC builds, like by budget for example. That way you can see what people are recommending at varies price ranges. They'll usually explain specifically why they've recommended their chosen parts, so it's a good way to learn what aspects people value in different components, and to generally get a feel for the vast hardware landscape.

#26 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@dalai said:

@hunter5024 said:

I don't know what half of these words mean. I am going to be in way over my head when I begin building my PC.

I had a similar mentality when I was building my new PC last week. It's definitely an interesting project to undertake and it's not as difficult as it seems. You'll eventually learn what some of these terms mean and there's always people to help and criticize your choices.

You should write a blog (or something) about your new PC! With pictures!

Oh god, I'm like one of those people who gets way too excited about a new baby, except with PCs.

This is gonna be a sweet rig, gettin' in right at the start of a new Intel "tock," and a new gen of Nvidia cards. Enjoy, man, this'll demolish anything at 1080p for quite some time. Also, while that case is a bit pricey, it's a good one. Corsair's gotten quite good at cases with the Carbide series.

Good to hear your opinion on the case, as it's the one piece I've already ordered, ha. I decided a bit after posting this that it was the one I wanted. Now I have to make sure everything else is what I want. I'll likely be changing my listed motherboard and power supply. In fact, I should probably update the list.

#27 Edited by Hunter5024 (5849 posts) -

@dalai: @jjweatherman: Cool, thanks guys. Maybe I can get some advice on the parts I choose once I set my budget.

#28 Posted by Zlimness (564 posts) -

@zlimness said:

@jjweatherman:

I have the exact same case with a H60 cooler. The case is spacious and easy to work in, so it wasn't a big problem to mount the cooler. But yeah, be careful once you've applied the paste and stick the cooler on the CPU. It will squirm a bit :) but it's a lot easier with the Intel brackets. I had a AMD CPU first and it was much more difficult to get that in place. I also changed the fans to Noctua. The 500R case is open and noisy as it is without the stock Corsair fans. Other than that and some cheap plastic parts, the case has a nice quality feel. It feels future proof as well. You can mount a lot of massive GPUs in there if you remove the storage trays. The storage trays are designed for both 3.5 HDDs and 2.5 SDDs.

Nice.

So you applied your own thermal paste? I know they pre-apply some stuff, and I wouldn't be sure how to safely remove that to put on my own. Seems easier to just use the pre-applied.

As far as the Noctua fans, I didn't know those existed until now. And now I want a couple. I'll try out the stock fans to test the noise level and see if I want to upgrade from there. Fan swaps on a radiator would be simple to do down the line, after all.

Yes I have a tube of paste because I fiddle with CPU fans now and then, and once you've removed the CPU fan, you need to apply some new paste. It's good to change paste now and then as well, since it dries up after a few years. Especially if it's cheap, pre-applied paste.

I assume you're going to order parts and assemble the computer yourself? Then you don't need to remove the paste, because the pre-applied paste is on the stock fan that comes with the CPU. You still need to apply new paste though. I use this. You don't need a special tool for this. An old plastic card is what I use.

If you ever need to remove paste, use some sort of industrial solvent. I use acetone or clean alcohol. Dip a Q-tip and gently rub off the paste.

Removing thermal paste and applying new can seem a bit messy, since it involves liquids on computer parts. But you only use these liquids on metal surfaces, so you won't damage anything.

Noctua make some of the best fans. Quite expensive but definitely worth it. The Corsair fans are OK, but after switching to Noctua, I've become really sensitive to loud fans. And they still do their job of moving a lot of air. Not a priority at this point, but after a while the noise of a gaming PC will probably drive you nuts :)

#29 Edited by Devildoll (899 posts) -

@shivoa said:
@devildoll said:

if you plan on keeping the entire rig for 3 years without upgrading anything, and a 4 GB model is actually just 30 bucks more than the 2 GB ones, I'd take one of those,

Even thought a 770 Probably isn't powerful enough to crank out enough frames per second for a pleasant experience on a scene that requires 4 GB's of memory by itself.

I load up 4GB of textures and depending where you look I use a different set of textures. The 2GB card requires me to page out 2GB of textures and saturates that PCIe connection trying to shuffle the right textures to the GPU's RAM when the player is looking in the direction that uses them. At no point would even a much slower card than the blazing GTX770 run out of performance to hit 60fps for each frame, the issue is taking a performance hit from throwing new textures at the card when they're needed over the lifetime of the level.

are you referring to any particular game here? most situations ( in games ) that utilize that much vram, have so much complexity that it just obliterates the frame rate , even though the scenes don't completely fill up the 4 GB framebuffer, but more because the card was sweating to keep 60 fps at the lower setting, and the compute power it houses simply does not suffice to draw up enough frames at this new complexity.

if you had 2 or 3 cards however, you could get an edge with 4 instead of 2 GB's.

here is a test on the 670, pitting a 4 GB model up against a 2 GB one. in these games, the 4 GB's are completely wasted.And as i said earlier, if you would try to turn up the resolution enough for the 2 GB to run out, even if the 4 GB card could house it all, the framerate would be unplayable/suboptimal cause of the lacking compute power.

Nvidia would have put more memory on the stock model, had it actually needed it.

#30 Posted by subyman (647 posts) -

That looks like a good rig for sure. A few suggestions would be to go with 2x8GB sticks. It may not matter right away, but I've used way over 8GB on my computer several times. I know you said 1080p, so the question is whether you are going to be gaming on a monitor or TV. If you are gaming on a monitor then you may end up wanting to upgrade to a 1440p or even 1600p monitor in the future, in which case the 4GB 770 model would be the one to go with to future proof your build. Anandtech said they are only $20-30 and would be worth the extra expense if you have any inkling at all of going higher res in the next few years.

Just so you know, the 770 is not a killer over clocker or anything. If you are wanting to get into overclocking, the 7970 would be more fun. I had a 680, then sold it for a 7970. The 770 is just a slightly boosted 680. I'm on water, but I run my 7970 at 1200mhz without a sweat. If you want plug and play, the 770 is the way to go, if you want to tinker then get the 7970 which allows voltage tweaking. Again, only if you are wanting to get in deep with OCing, otherwise the 770 will be better out of the box.

If you do go with the 770, try to find one with the Titan cooler. It may be tough, but that cooler is overrated for the card's TDP, which is great. All the others use last year's coolers, which aren't bad but... Titan cooler... Come on!

As for the case, I've personally used the 500r and it is a solid case. Anything from Corsair is going to be a good case. If you want a quieter case with better quality, I'd recommend the 550D. Its a minimalist case, but working with it is wonderful. I have an 800D as well and the 550D is made just as well only smaller. It also allows room for a 240 rad and such for watercooling.

Lastly, both the Seasonic and Corsair PSUs in the 600-750W range that are modular can exhibit coil whine. This affects the X-Gold series and Platinum series from Seasonic and the AX series from Corsair. My 660-SP Platinum from Seasonic has coil whine and there are threads about it on other forums. Some do not get the whine and some can't hear it enough for it to bother them, so you may be fine. Just something to think about. Silverstone makes great modular PSUs that I haven't heard any complaints about.

#31 Posted by subyman (647 posts) -

Oh, also about the motherboard. In an interview with Anandtech, an Asus rep explained that overclockability is consistent across their entire Z87 lineup. So, you need to look at individual features to determine if the Maximus is worth the premium. When asked if the higher end components matter, the Anandtech said it was for people that want the "peace of mind" so, no probably not. The "TUF" series offers a 5 year warranty, so that may be something you are interested in.

The Republic of Gamers adds an overclocking external dongle, ROG skinned bios, liquid nitrogen mode, ROG software, upgraded FX3 audio, and upgraded VRMs over the normal range. You'll have to answer if that's worth the extra $80.

Here's the interview: Anandtech Asus Interview

#32 Edited by Jams (2962 posts) -

@shivoa: What do you think about using AMD products in the near future? Could using an AMD GPU and CPU help in any way if when game got ported from console to PC? I've been thinking about what one developer said about how since the two consoles are developed using their tech that the games themselves will always run better and also have better support if you have their card.

I like that AMD's seem to be cheaper for more (but the CPU's in particular only seem to work better if you stream you games). But I wonder if using a specific brand might help in the long run?

#33 Edited by Shivoa (635 posts) -

@jams: As far as the CPU goes, both consoles use Jaguar setups (and non-standard ones at that) so you can't go out and buy something that is a good match for what is inside either console beyond being x86. The Kabini CPUs that just came out that are Jaguar for PC are low end and come as 4 cores (or 2 cores at the very low end). That's a block for Jaguar. These are the low end cheap x86 cores that make sure AMD can get down towards tablet power loads (and fight ARM's top end designs) and both consoles were designed to have all the CPU and GPU resources in a single chip so needed a lean CPU to fit in the thermal and desirable die size headroom. They took two 4-core Jaguars and stuck them together. The high end AMD CPUs use a strange design where you get two integer blocks and a float block in each unit and then they sell them by counting the number of int blocks (so an 8 core AMD FX chip only has 4 float blocks) so despite being a cheap way to buy 8 cores they are kinda 4 cores in some ways. Of course Intel are the major player for PCs and so most tweaking to a PC port will be done on Intels (see some reviewers complaints about AMD machines and crashes in review code) but their mainstream prices (like the new i5 listed above) use four very fast (compared to Jaguar) cores.

This shouldn't matter. Games should be getting built with a job system that loads however many cores you have available and lets things take up space on spare cores depending on the variable load of the frame. Especially with the Xbox One being a virtualised environment where some of those cores may not be available due to background tasks, assuming X cores and only using exactly those ones doesn't seem like how you'd build an engine, especially one which you know will be cheap to port to x86 PCs and there you may have 16 cores or maybe as low as 2, depending on spec. The basic issue is that a gaming PC has 60-130W of performance CPU with the most common config being 4 cores, the consoles have possibly 30W over 8 cores. There isn't a good way to buy a PS4/Xbox One CPU and even if you could, the current desktop performance CPUs are much faster.

The GPUs are standard GCN blocks (12 for Xbox One, 18 for PS4) which means you're looking at roughly the compute power of a $150 AMD card on the Xbox One and a $300 card for the PS4. The Xbox One uses a large (1.6bn transistors) block of cache to get past having DDR3 RAM and the PS4 uses a nice 256bit wide GDDR5 interface (but remember both share this bus with the CPU's needs). That does mean that coders will be tweaking their code to get the most out of that style of architecture. Does it matter? The benchmarks do the talking here, nVidia and AMD designs that average out to about the same performance give significantly different performances in individual games and on synthetic tests. Of course, some of that difference is the 256bit wide GDDR5 connection (now at 7GHz on that GTX770) while AMD use a 384bit wide bus on their high end (which is why they have 3GB, 50% more width gives a different balanced number of RAM chips and 1.5GB on a top end part would be crazy) and we just said that even the good RAM on the PS4 isn't a wide bus (and isn't 7GHz either) so if any of those benchmarks are showing the advantage of the AMD memory advantage then neither consoles will be able to teach coders to expect that.

nVidia have a large team of engineers who do outreach (The Way It's Meant To Be Played programme) and put out a range of papers and code samples explaining how to get the best out of their designs, along with the driver tweaking that makes less-worse any game that is doing things in a way that doesn't work well on their implementation of the standards. They have the dominant position in desktop and laptop graphics and don't seem to be moving away from that with their expansion to mobile (even moving their GPU designs to their mobile parts with the 2014 chips and leveraging their video encode chips to do personal Cloud gaming like Vita remote play with an Android device). They may be in a bit of a hole when everyone is building engines for GCN architectures but I doubt they'll be crushed by it. These $400 cards we're talking about are already significantly faster than the silicon in the SoCs of the consoles (and eat up to 250W of power on their own, beyond the power budget of the entire box for the consoles) so for raw power these are probably both going to come in ahead of the consoles and so enjoy the consoles being pushed towards their desired performance area rather than asked to do something beyond them.

The final caveat on that general sentiment: the Xbox One doesn't have a whole lot of general-purpose compute (because it doesn't have a whole lot of GPU power in general) but people coming from the PS3's Cell are used to using those vector units and that is all going to happen on the GPU with these new designs. nVidia used to be fighting hard for general purpose compute but that stuff is all now in the Titan/GTX780(capped)/Tesla stuff, the consumer cards are built to be lean and power efficient and don't really give you a lot of compute. AMD switched with GCN and moved to adding much more general purpose compute performance to try and fight against nVidia's control of that market (and design wins in supercomputers where you sell thousands of chips for $3000 a pop in a single sale) so they are very much leading that fight today. If things go really heavy in that direction then nVidia cards from the last 18 months will struggle more than older nVidia card or current AMD cards. I can certainly see the case for buying AMD to be on the safe side, I'm not a fan of their software team myself and think nVidia have the edge for drivers and features (YMMV). You are certainly not screwing up if you buy a similarly priced AMD card rather than the GTX770 in this sort of build, the 7970GHz is a hell of a card.

#34 Posted by Shivoa (635 posts) -

@devildoll: As I said, not current games. Those will not show a difference as they will all be designed considering the low RAM of typical systems. This changes when Christmas happens and millions of gaming rigs appear with 8GB of unified RAM. If a game had anything like a 4GB framebuffer then we would be looking at seconds (minutes?) per frame, not frames per second. At 1080p, even with a complex deferred, AA buffer then the big block of the RAM is not the buffer to which it is writing the output. The RAM is used for the source assets needed to be read in to generate the buffer. The diffuse and specular surfaces, the normal and gloss values. The current and upcoming engines need quite a bit of data to paint a single pixel in that framebuffer (and some intermediate buffers and storage blocks for their raytrace touches and reflection cubemaps - stored and real-time generated).

The assets you need to be able to stand face to face with a wall and resolve to crisp surface representation are influenced by the output resolution but that is not going to be the limiting factor (see Rage and the 720p pass they did on their asset database to create the GBs of texture pages that shipped on the final game - never even getting to the disc with an asset in more detail than could be used in a 720p render at the minimum distance the player could be from the surface that used it). Whatever the resolution you're gaming on, you want textures (of all the types listed above) at all mipmap levels in your GPU's RAM and not being throw at the thing via the PCIe connection from the system RAM.

Looking forward and noting how these new consoles are both 8GB unified models, I'm going to say if the availability of 4GB GTX770s improves (and drives the prices down the the expected premium that and extra 2GB of GDDR5 should force) then people expecting to hold onto a card for 3 years should get the 4GB model and there isn't a game today that needs it but we can find out in 3 years if I'm right about the games coming out designed for the new consoles. Will all games designed for the new consoles suck on a 2GB card? Nope. Will there be at least a few that would otherwise be awesome but are busy throwing texture data to the insufficient RAM because the level has over 2GB of texture assets? I'm betting yes. If it was my money, I'd wait out a $30 more expensive 4GB edition of this card.

I'm not the only person to have expressed this viewpoint.

#35 Posted by JJWeatherman (14560 posts) -

@subyman: Thanks for the suggestions. You make an interesting point about the 770s overclocking ability. I guess for one, I'd already be buying the superclocked card, so it may already be pushed to the limit. But I don't know. I own an AMD card now and have been pretty unimpressed with the software side of things. I've heard Nvidia does a lot better job in that regard, so I'd like to jump the fence and see for myself.

I hope I don't have those noise issues with that power supply. It seems like a really solid choice otherwise, so I may take a chance on it. In SeaSonic I trust. That failing, in warranties I trust.

I'll keep thinking the motherboard over, but the higher quality components and the peace of mind that comes with that is actually something that's swayed me. I'm happy to pay a little more to know I'm getting something that's built with quality materials. And hey, the other stuff sounds cool, too. I don't know.

@zlimness: Of course I'm going to be building this myself! Is there any other way? I mean, there are other ways, but are there really?

Anyway, yeah, I've heard all about how great Arctic Silver is, but Corsair does indeed include pre-applied paste on their water coolers, so I'm just gonna stick with that.

Also, @shivoa, I again only understood about half of your last couple posts, but they were interesting to read, ha.

#36 Posted by Zlimness (564 posts) -

@jjweatherman: Ah, well if the cooler already has pre-applied paste you don't need to apply new one. I don't remember if my H60 had, but I probably removed it if it did. Pre-applied paste is usually not as effective as aftermarket paste, so I make a habit of always changing it.

No there certainly isn't any other way. Never let anyone else touch your PC.

#38 Posted by Andorski (5346 posts) -

I'm a bigger fan of Corsair's Graphite Series 600T White Edition case. Best looking case by Corsair IMO. Another great looking case is the Corsair 350D, but that can only fit mATX boards. I only go with mATX as I value having a smaller case and would never go more than dual SLI/Crossfire, but you may want to stick with ATX mobos if you plan on going +2 multi-GPU or use a PCI-e slot for a sound card/WiFi card.

Also, if you can, wait on getting Haswell. I've been reading that Intel cherry picked chips to send to tech review sites and that the initial batches of CPUs run hot and cannot overclock as well as Ivy Bridge. Getting a good, overclockable -k chip is always a bit like winning the lottery (overclocking potential is never a guarantee), but Haswell in particular has not been performing well overall in it's initial release.

#39 Posted by Eanan (15 posts) -

Hey is it safe to mix 2x2GB CL9 and and 2x2GB CL8 G Skill sticks of ram on an AMD system MSI mobo? Or will I run into major issues?