PC build I plan on putting together - advice welcome!

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#1 Posted by twhalen (131 posts) -

Time for a new gaming PC! Up to now I’ve just purchased Dells or Alienwares (going back to before Dell acquired Alienware, just to clarify). My current gaming PC is an Alienware laptop circa spring 2009. I’ve been a PC gamer for a long time, and I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t built one yet. This time, I’m finally going to.

I’m not an expert when it comes to PC parts, though I am familiar with them from having upgraded video cards before, looked over my Alienware specs, read posts in forums like this, etc.

Please give me any advice on this build. Does it look good/compatible? (It checks out on PC Part Picker.)

And this isn’t intended to be budget!

-CPU: Intel Core i7-3770 Ivy Bridge 3.4GHz LGA 1155


-GPU: ASUS GTX660 TI-DC2O-2GD5 GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support


-RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance LP 16GB


-Hard drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 7200RPM


-SSD: Intel 520 Series Cherryville SSDSC2CW060A3K5 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC


-Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-V PRO LGA 1155 Intel Z77


-PSU: Corsair HX series HX1050


-Optical drive: Sony Optiarc drive


-CPU Coolant: XIGMATEK Dark Knight II SD1283 Night Hawk Edition CPU Cooler


-Case: NZXT Phantom Black Steel


-Monitor: Acer S220HQLAbd Black 21.5" 5ms LED Backlight Widescreen LCD Monitor


-OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

The main thing I’m worried about is cooling. Anything else coolant-wise I should get besides the CPU coolant?

Here's a screen capture of the build on PC part picker:


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#2 Posted by Mike (16844 posts) -

@twhalen:Is there any way you can go with a larger SSD? I assume you intend to put your OS and a game or two on the SSD and the rest on the platter drive, moving games back and forth as needed. 60gb isn't going to get you very far, especially with some games approaching 20gb.

I went with a 128gb Corsair Force 3 SSD, they can be found for $120-$130 or so now...I paid a lot more for mine a year ago, but it was well worth it.

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#3 Edited by Dauthi693 (131 posts) -

Just a few suggestions get a CPU withj the K suffex as it means it has an unlocked multiplier to allow overclocking. i.e 3570k or 3770k.

Thermal Paste - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007 - easy way to further reduce temps of the cpu.

PSU - Is overkill for the system and unless your planning to go and SLI 680s would suggest a more modest - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139010

SSD - 60GB can be small if you do anything that uses a large ammount of space. Given windows 7 is currently over 20GB on my machine. - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148529 (not up on which SSD are best).

GPU - Have you considered an AMD 7870 or 7950 given the current promotions for them are for Tomb raider & Bioshock infinite or Crysis 3 and Bioshock infinite.

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#4 Edited by WasabiCurry (430 posts) -

As for Thermal Paste, you could always go with Arctic Silver.

Since your i7 isn't a K series, you really do not need to worry about an after-market cooling, unless you were thinking about overclocking. If that is the case, you would need to pick up an i7-3770k series CPU to have that ability. If you wanted an after-market cooling, I suppose you want it to be air-cooled and Xigmatek has some really nice ones.

Anyways, a 60 GB SSD is a little small for putting an OS on it, so I would recommend like everyone else here and get at least a 128 GB SSD.

Everything else looks pretty okay to me, as @Dauthi693 the PSU is overkill. However, it seems that you are looking for a two-way sli and for that, proper fan circulation is needed for your imaginary setup.

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#5 Edited by Andorski (5475 posts) -

I'm assuming this build is going to be used for gaming and not any other intensive programs, such as video recording your gameplay sessions, video editing, or model rendering.

  • You can drop the i7 and go with an i5. Get the i5-3750k. The i7-3770k will give barely any performance boost when playing games. You can go with a non k model, but you will save only a few bucks. The motherboard you are going with makes overclocking easy, so do some research and overclock your CPU.
  • Drop the 16GB RAM and just go 8GB. You will get zero benefit from 16GB unless you go over 8GB of usage, which no game ever does.
  • You will need to make sure that this CPU cooler fits your case/motherboard, but you should get the Noctua NH-D14 instead. Hands down the best air cooler on the market. If aesthetics matter to you (because all Noctua fans are this ugly ass brown and maroon combination), then get the Phanteks PH-TC14PE instead. They come in a variety of colors, are only marginally louder, and offer similar performance. Both also come with good thermal paste so you will not have to buy a separate compound.
  • Unless you plan to later on go SLI with your video card set up, 1050W is overkill. A 550W can power a setup with a GTX 660ti setup, but more on that in the next bullet point.
  • Considering all the other components you chose, the GTX 660ti is a major bottle neck for gaming. For high budget gaming rigs, go no lower than a GTX 680 or an HD 7970. These would require a 600W PSU. Go SLI/Crossfire and bump the wattage up to 750W. If you truly mean that this is a no budget build, go for the nVidia Titan. Dual slot, $1000 GPU. Most powerful dual slot GPU on the market.
  • You have a few options with hard drives. You can go single SSD/single HDD and have your OS and programs on the SSD and your files on the HDD. To reap the benefit of the SSD on games, you can swap the games you're playing on the SSD and later store them on the HDD (which Steam supports in beta). If you do this, I suggest bumping up your SSD to 128GB minimum. Your other, more expensive option is to go dual SSD/single HDD. Have a 64GB SSD for the OS and programs, a 256GB SSD for games, and a 2TB HDD for your files. I suggest you do the former unless money is no real object.
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#6 Posted by CouldbeRolf (205 posts) -

Pretty much everything Androski said is right on the money. Except I'd go with a 128GB ssd for windows unless you want to install all programs on another harddrive (I prefer keeping all that in the default Program Files folder). I also have a 128GB ssd for games and don't really run into any issues, but that's because I don't need to have more than 5-6 large games installed at any time (bunch of smaller ones like Binding of Isaac etc. though) since I usually finish games then delete them. But if you play a bunch of games and switch between them (several MMO's a couple of multiplayer games plus some big singleplayer games) you might want a 256 for games. But in any case, get an SSD for your games.

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#8 Edited by SamStrife (1330 posts) -

At this point in time I can't recommend the GTX 660 Ti. This HD 7870 XT blows it out the water in terms of performance, is $40 cheaper and comes with Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider for free.

It's a no brainer.

Also this was my 1000th post, don't let it be wasted.

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#9 Edited by Kidavenger (4062 posts) -

Why build a great computer and hook it up to a shitty little monitor?

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#10 Posted by Dauthi693 (131 posts) -

Why build a great computer and hook it up to a shitty little monitor?

Ao he doesn't need to spend the money as per the advice below

@andorski said:

  • Considering all the other components you chose, the GTX 660ti is a major bottle neck for gaming. For high budget gaming rigs, go no lower than a GTX 680 or an HD 7970. These would require a 600W PSU. Go SLI/Crossfire and bump the wattage up to 750W. If you truly mean that this is a no budget build, go for the nVidia Titan. Dual slot, $1000 GPU. Most powerful dual slot GPU on the market.

He said it wasn't a budget gaming computer not there is no budget.

Yes i agree the GTX 660ti will be its bottleneck but wouldn't reccomend a 680 unless he needs a solid 60FPS on every game.

Its an unbalanced system It is geared towards not holding back a 680 or SLI/Crossfire system but instead has a 660ti. Why? Is it a stand in till you get the cash for the graphics solution you want?

If No i would get a 3570k CPU, a good (700-800w) PSU and a 128GB SSD. Then use the extra money to get a better graphics card.

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#11 Edited by VACkillers (1243 posts) -

thats not a shitty monitor, that monitor goes 1920x1080, which is plenty!!!

as for the build, very good build, but osme things in there a bit overkill, the power supply you really dont need all that WATT, a 750 or 850 will be MORE then enough to run 2 GTX 660 ti's in sli, if you planed on doing that at a later date... the motherboard is nice, but you could still find just as good motherboard from gigabyte/ASRock/MSI for the same performance at 139-150 instead of 200$. As suggested, I would probably go with a 120GB SSD, or at least a 90GB one anyway, just to give you a little more storage, 60GB will barely be enough to hold windows and other software, think my windows is around 30GB by itself.. Lastly the optical drive, you dont really need to spend that much when you can get just as good DVD-RW OEM drives for like 18$, been using my asus DVD-RW OEM for the past 5 years and still working perfectly today.. Just a few things to save yourself just a little extra money, and with that money you save, you could put towards another GFX card or something.. hope this helps...

Ps. dont need the 16GB of RAM, but I would still keep it... so your ready for next gen... crysis 3 uses 8GB of ram for example... things will start to use more as the next gen games start to come out over the next year or so...

Edit : just to clarrify, that 7870 XT simply does not blow the 660ti out of the water.. its neck and neck and in some games like FarCry 3, the 660 comes out on top, which doens't justify the 10$ cheaper price when you consider all the hassle and aggravation you get with ATI drivers, stick with the 660...

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1651/pg5/sapphire-hd-7870-xt-with-boost-tahiti-le-graphics-card-review-far-cry-3.html ATI 7870 XT benches..

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#12 Posted by Corvak (1776 posts) -

Since you mentioned this isnt a budget:

-Switch the i7 3770 to a 3770k, for overclocking. Even if you dont need to or want to now, its nice to have the option later, and the price difference is only ~$20 for a K model.

-Switch the 660ti to a 680 or a radeon 7970

(pick your company, their performance is very close - radeon pulls ahead by a touch when overclocked, but the price is a fan that sounds like its preparing for takeoff)

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#13 Edited by Dauthi693 (131 posts) -

@vackillers said:

Edit : just to clarrify, that 7870 XT simply does not blow the 660ti out of the water.. its neck and neck and in some games like FarCry 3, the 660 comes out on top, which doens't justify the 10$ cheaper price when you consider all the hassle and aggravation you get with ATI drivers, stick with the 660...

http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1651/pg5/sapphire-hd-7870-xt-with-boost-tahiti-le-graphics-card-review-far-cry-3.html ATI 7870 XT benches..

Would of given the point about AMD Drivers 3-4 years ago but even still calling it ATI drivers shows how old and ingrained your opinion is when these days they still have a slight edge but no where near as wide as it was.

As for just $10 yes it might not be worth it for some, but i don't think its just me that would find more intrest/worth in the Free games (Tomb raider&Bioshock infintie/Crysis 3&Bioshock infintie) AMD are offering compared to the F2P bundle Nvidia are currently offering.

{Speculation} With AMD being in both next gen consoles for both CPU/GPU could that be an advantage going forward.

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#14 Posted by twhalen (131 posts) -

Thanks for all the responses! A lot of good points raised.

-I chose the 660 ti early on before building the rest of it. I guess that’s why it seems a bit too low compared to the rest of the system—I should go back and rethink the GPU. As for the suggestions to choose an AMD card: up until now I have used (then) ATI cards, and it seemed like every time I had a problem with a game and looked it up online, it was something specific to ATI cards. So a couple years ago I resolved that when I got my next gaming PC I would go with Nvidia. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t used Nvidia that I’m not aware of those cards’ problems; regardless, I feel leery of getting an AMD card, just because of past frustrations. But reading SamStrife’s and Dauthi693’s posts, maybe I need to get updated on the current quality of AMD cards. I’m especially tempted by these mentions of Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider offers, as those are actually two of my most wanted games this year! I’ll check out AMD’s website, as I didn’t even go there initially, already having decided on Nvidia.

-As for all the comments on getting a bigger SSD; yeah, this was one area where I was at a crossroads. Originally I was just going to get a big hard drive around 3-4 TB, but then decided to downsize it to 2 TB so I could also get a small SSD. I should clarify that though I’m not going for a budget build, the sky isn’t the limit… what I have is around $1700 (or somewhat less) and I don’t want to go (much) higher. I’ll do some more price comparisons-I think I may cut elsewhere and get a 128GB SSD as some have suggested. As for cutting elsewhere…

-Yeah, I knew the power supply was kind of overkill. I guess I got too paranoid about ‘future-proofing’, for if I ever did get another GPU. Based on the advice given, and what I kind of was thinking myself, I might select one with less wattage.

-I do see the wisdom in going down to an Intel i5, now that I think I want to get a 128GB SSD and thus want to cut elsewhere. I think I’ll go with Andorski’s suggestions and go with an i5-3570k. And yes, this build is primarily for gaming. Although I assume if I were to record gameplay sessions, I might keep it at an i7? Not something I plan on, just asking.

-For now I think I’ll also go to 8GB of RAM, and just plan to upgrade when the time is right.

-As for the Thermal Paste, I’ll look into that.

The only thing I’m really afraid to change is to switch from Nvidia to AMD. As I noted, this is just from prior frustrations. Any reason to be afraid of AMD?

I’ll post my revised build when I’ve got it sorted out.

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#15 Posted by VACkillers (1243 posts) -

@dauthi693: well not really old thinking Dauthi693, I actually have a machine that has 2x 5870s in them and i've personally had nothing but issues with them, a friend of mine also has these 2 cards in crossfire, and another firend whos got the 5770s in crossfire also, and we've all had issues running games, drivers do get fixed, but its such a hassle over nvidia its just not worth it for me personally, and i agree, when you get the drivers sorted, and the ATI cards running brilliantly, they are absolutely as good as nvidia, but for me personally, definitely not worth the driver issues... i've had zero issues with my main machine using 2 GTX 560s in sli.. zero issues, for 3 years now... Thats why i said what i said in my comment, just comming from personal experience... but indeed you are correct Dauthi693, the next gen consoles are going all out AMD hardware, be it modified, but that is something to think about for sure, and the PS4 is not speculation now, not since the sony meeting the other day, confirmed using modified 7 series AMD GPU, and using modified AMD jaguar CPU...

twhalen, its just down to a personal choice of what you want as a GPU, I personally, prefer Nvidia, you pay a little more, but you get what you pay for with them, ATI little cheaper for almost just as good performance wise, but it might take some tweaking to get you to that performance, hell, might even be perfect first driver install, but who knows what the next driver might mess up? I think the rest of your build is pretty sweet and powerfull enough right now, did like the i7 you had, yes dont quite need all that power right now, but for future proofing might be could to stick with that as the next gen about to hit us...

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#16 Posted by Andorski (5475 posts) -

Comparing nVidia cards to AMD cards at similar price points depends on what price tier you plan to spend on the GPU. I always check Tomshardware to see what card gets the best performance/price ratio at certain costs. In my experience the cards that get driver issues depends on which GPU lines the developers optimized for. nVidia gained a reputation of working seamlessly with PC games because they spent resources working with developers during game development. AMD as of late though have been working with developers as well. This is what it seems like at least. A lot of the games I've been playing recently have had AMD's logo shown before the intro screen.

Also, in the games' fps benchmarks I have seen (which is what you should only look at; theoretical benchmarking tools will never be as accurate as real application use) for several games, the HD 7970 beats out the GTX 680 on most occasions. The difference was usually only a few frames though, and a notable exception was Borderlands 2 where the GTX 680 performed significantly better than the HD 7970. This is because the game uses a lot of PhysX effects, which is nVidia tech.

With AMD being the sole provider of GPUs for the next line of consoles, I'm guessing AMD support for PC ports will only get better. Don't factor that in too much into your decision though. Again, the best thing to do is to find out what price tier of GPU you are willing to spend and Google some video game fps benchmarks to compare performance. If it's a close call, just check which card you can save a few bucks on.

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#17 Posted by Devildoll (991 posts) -

regarding the harddrive, Newegg lists that drive as being sata 6 and having 64 MB cache.

But the same serial number on seagate's site points to a sata 3 drive with 32 MB cache, i noticed this just cause i havent seen a seagate drive with that lettercombination before.

Here's a proper drive though. Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5
Unless you have a problem with red, here's the same memory at a couple of bucks cheaper. CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (2 x 8GB) CML16GX3M2A1600C10

the 520 is a higher tiered ssd hence the price per GB, consider getting a 120 GB version of it, or if you cant afford that, get a 330 with 120 GB istead, it really sucks to run out of space on your OS drive, let me tell ya.

As people have pointed out, that power supply is fairly over dimensioned for your build, you can shave some cash of by getting a 6-700 watter instead.
spend the extra $5 and get a K version of that cpu wile you are at it, i mean, you are spending 40 buck's on a heat-sink that you wont need unless you are going to overclock or live on the sun anyway.

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#18 Posted by twhalen (131 posts) -

I've done some rethinking with my build: I've cut down to 8 GB of RAM, a 750 W power supply, and an i5 3570K. I've also gone up to a 120GB SSD. I'm still stumped on the GPU, though. From what I've read, at the price range of ~300 the AMD 7950 would be more bang for the buck (and I'd get Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3 free). But I came into this dead set on getting an Nvidia card, and the 660 ti still sounds like a good card. Then there's the AMD 7870, which is cheaper and seems comparable to the 660 ti (and comes with two free games I plan on buying anyway). As for cards like the Nvidia 670, at around 360 or more those are too much for my 300-or-less plan for the GPU. I'll keep looking up stuff online, but it always comes back to me wanting Nvidia or being tempted by AMD's free game offers. I know that game offers probably shouldn't affect my decision, but darn it.


Thanks for pointing that out about the Seagate drive, I'll bookmark your link.

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#19 Posted by Daveyo520 (7686 posts) -

@twhalen: This may help you decide on a card, Price vs Performance http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu_value.html or just performance http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html

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#20 Edited by Dauthi693 (131 posts) -

@VACkillers For multi GPU i agree AMD still need work.

As for going with an Nvidia card can't blame you i switched to nvidia last time i upgraded. Currently umming and ahhing over if to upgrade now or wait for next gen card myself but thats just the upgrade itch kicking in.

Best of luck putting it together.

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