Building a new PC. Thoughts? Suggestions?

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#1 Edited by Robo (889 posts) -

As the title says, I'm building a new PC. It will replace my old OC'd Q6600/Abit IP35 Pro/4GB DDR2 1066/5870 setup.

I've been doing quite a bit of research and tech forum browsing for the past month or so catching up on new developments since the last time I built a PC. I'm looking to spend around $1200 now and another $4-500 most likely whenever I get around to a new video card in a few weeks.

I'll be using the computer for both gaming and as a graphics workstation. I don't do much 3D, video or motion graphics at the moment. Mainly dealing with very large photos, multi-layered PSDs, and complex vector work in Illustrator.

Here's the basic part rundown so far:

The case has been a bit of a dilemma.

Ideally, I'd like something quiet. Or at least quieter than my current build. My preference ranges from something monolithic and simple like my current Antec P182 SE to something like an NZXT Phantom. Mid to reasonable Full ATX towers.

Here are some of the cases I've looked into. Again, any input or suggestions are welcome:

BitFenix Ghost

I read quite a few reviews complaining about the build quality and materials feeling relatively cheap. Also, I'm not particularly in love with the features, given other mid tower options in the price range.

Fractal Define R4
Strong contender. The main issue with this case and other mid towers is that the ASUS M5 Formula is considered an extended ATX motherboard (barely, as it's only .5" deeper...but that could be all it takes to not fit).
I've seen pictures of installs with standard ATX mobos in this case, and several of them mentioned it already being a little tight. So I'm not sure if the mobo would fit comfortably while still allowing easy wire management.
Perhaps if I went for the Gene instead.
Also, I'm hearing conflicting reports on whether a 240mm closed loop liquid cooler can fit without removing all the HDD bays.
Fractal Define XL
The R4's bigger, older brother. It definitely has more room than the R4.
I've heard some horror stories about that angled exhaust fan in the top butting up against some mobos.
Another thing to consider is yet more reports of trouble with liquid cooling systems in this case.
Corsair Vengeance C70
I usually prefer doors on my cases instead of visible ODDs, front fans, and empty bays, but I really like the look of these.
It doesn't quite provide the same sound dampening of the others but I've seen some really good looking builds using this.
Also that H100i would be basically guaranteed to fit. Not really blown away by the rest of the interior, though. And it seems kind of small.
The green one looks kinda badass.
CM Storm Trooper
I think I'd have to see this one in person. Seems like I could get tired of that look pretty quickly. I've already mentioned my thoughts on doors.
Also, I really don't need a handle. The case will be tucked away beside my desk and rarely--if ever--moved from that position.
Antec P280
A direct upgrade from my P182. Unfortunately the design and features of this case seem a bit outdated. I've also read plenty of people saying the quality of materials Antec used for this are crap compared to 180s and 182s.
Weird thing: The front panel cables on these are apparently almost too short for most motherboards.
Nanoxia Deep Silence 1

or Deep Silence 2
Sexy and silent.
I love the design of these cases.
Too bad I'd have to import this from across the pond, possibly pushing the price up to $200 for a case that seems amazing from the pictures I've seen...but I really don't know much more about.
If anyone has any experience with these or read any trustworthy reviews they'd like to share, I'm all ears...or eyes.
I wouldn't necessarily mind importing one. Quiet PC seems to have them for decent prices with reasonable shipping. I'm guessing that estimated 1-4 days is not at all accurate for overseas shipments though.

Looking into these more, I'm not as impressed by the build quality. Yeah, they use a ton of dampening material, but aside from that there are some odd cut corners and design decisions.
NZXT Phantom 630
Possibly my strongest contender. It's the latest entry of NZXT's Phantom line of cases. I actually really like the look. Reminds me of my car. And like my car, I'd probably tint that side window.
It's also got a really nice interior and some great little features like that tilting fan mount and the fully modular drive bays with two more 2.5" SATA spots behind the mobo.
The main problem is it's kind of huge, apparently. A full 4" or so taller and a bit deeper/wider than my 182. At least I definitely wouldn't have to worry about space.

Also, it's obviously no silent case. Although from what I understand, given the impressive air flow you can achieve with this, it's pretty quiet for a performance PC.

Another debate was whether or not I should wait for Intel's Haswell line later in June or just upgrade now.

Everything I've read about Haswell is promising better performance, of course, but nothing mind-blowing. I'm thinking I'd be perfectly fine with the overclocked 3770K rather than waiting for Haswell and undoubtedly spending quite a bit more than planned on a higher-priced mobo and memory. I've already waited close to a year to do this. There's always going to be something else on the horizon.

EDIT: Corrections/updates. I was off in my understanding of ASUS' EATX dimensions.

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#2 Posted by Ravenlight (8057 posts) -

Bullet points!

  • It seems like you know what you're doing for the most part. I'd spring for the roomiest case within your budget and go off reviews in the case of a tie.
  • I know this is a real divisive topic, but is there any particular reason you're going with Windows 8 instead of Windows 7? Just wondering for my own edification.
  • I'd go for the upgrade right now if you've already got the budget set aside. If you wait for Haswell to launch, that'll just take you close to waiting for something else to launch and you get stuck in a never-endingwaiting period. The only reason I'd actually suggest waiting if is you're after a price drop in current hardware.
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#3 Posted by WasabiCurry (442 posts) -

If you are still open about the closed water cooling, I would suggest this one. I will be bias and say, go for the NZXT Phantom 630, just love that case a lot.

The old saying comes to mind, if you keep on waiting for new parts to arrive. You will be waiting forever. X3

I say bite the bullet and by the 3770K.

Other than that, you really do know your stuff.

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#4 Edited by crusader8463 (14757 posts) -

@WasabiCurry: Maybe the 630 is different then the 640, but I hate the case. It has way too many pointlessly bright LED lights and most annoyingly of all the computer has a slight vibration to it that causes the side panel to vibrate very LOUDLY all the time. No matter what I do I can't get it to go away and it's driving me nuts.

Any who, your build looks great. You seem to be getting some of the same parts that I got when I built mine a while back. Maybe I'm not doing the right things but I wouldn't bother OCing that Proc as of yet. I'm running it standard and I have not had a single need to make it go any faster since I got it.

The only thing I would suggest to change is in the PSU. I too went with a corsair semi modular PSU and wished I had of went with the fully modular one. I'm really picky when it comes to keeping the case clean inside and I found that it was tough trying to hide some of the extra cabling coming out of it that I didn't need.

EDIT:I was getting the case numbers mixed up on that phantom. I have the Phantom 410. Same opinion, but I just wanted to correct the numbering mistake.

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#5 Posted by Robo (889 posts) -

@Ravenlight said:

Bullet points!

  • It seems like you know what you're doing for the most part. I'd spring for the roomiest case within your budget and go off reviews in the case of a tie.
  • I know this is a real divisive topic, but is there any particular reason you're going with Windows 8 instead of Windows 7? Just wondering for my own edification.
  • I'd go for the upgrade right now if you've already got the budget set aside. If you wait for Haswell to launch, that'll just take you close to waiting for something else to launch and you get stuck in a never-ending waiting period. The only reason I'd actually suggest waiting if is you're after a price drop in current hardware.

More bullet points!

  • That's part of why I'm leaning towards the Phantom. I know for a fact that whatever I want to put in there will fit, and I do have the space for it next to my desk.
  • Absolutely understandable question. I used the preview version for quite a while on a crappy laptop/tablet thing I had lying round and even there it was fine. I've had to use it working on a lot of clients' PCs at work lately as well, and I have had no real problems with it. It seems to perform quite well even on modest hardware and really the main gripes I've heard about it or had myself, I've already gotten over just by using it and getting used to it. Also, a friend of mine decided to upgrade to it on his build and it's insanely quick. All that said, I will need to look into whether there are any compatibility issues with Adobe CS6, my Wacom tablet, and my printer before making the jump. Oh, also I may get a copy of it free from work.
  • Yeah, that tax return is burning a theoretical (as I have yet to actually receive it) hole in my pocket.
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#6 Posted by shinboy630 (1386 posts) -

As per cases, I say go with the NZXT one. I just built a PC inside a phantom 410 like a month ago. As a first time builder it was fantastic to build inside, and I think the 630 looks just as good.

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#7 Edited by Robo (889 posts) -

@WasabiCurry: I have heard good things about their coolers. Plus I suppose that would definitely fit in the 630.

@crusader8463: I actually didn't even notice the PSU was just semi-modular. I just dropped it down from a different, considerably more expensive model and missed that detail. I'll have to look into it again and see whether those cables will be a problem. I'm going for as clean and open as possible. I may need an extender or two anyway. If so, I should be able to tuck most of the extra stuff away.

About the case; judging from opinions here so far, as well as reviews and other forums, no wonder the 630s pretty much immediately went out of stock on Newegg after release. I may have to jump on one quick. I already have it in my cart with the intention of simply returning it if I have an issue once I see it in person.

When I initially put together plans for a new computer a while back, I had the 410 in mind. Hell, that red version still looks kinda awesome.

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#8 Posted by AlexW00d (7509 posts) -

@Robo: I personally would go for the Ghost from all of them. I really don't like NZXT and can't honestly recommend anything they do to anyone, but I might just be over exaggerating, I'm not entirely sure. But I don't trust 'em either way.

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#9 Posted by Jnal (307 posts) -

@robo: I own the NZXT Phantom and love it. The only addition you may need to add is a fan near the HDD if you want to go all out on cooling, but it does a good enough job with the 4 in it. I'll beat the age old drum and say drop down to an i5-3570k it saves $100 and you can still overclock. The i7 is only useful in video and Photoshop or anything that can take advantage of Hyperthreading. To my knowledge no games really take advantage of it. You could use the extra money to bump the GPU up which will really help out your gaming. If you are planning to edit video and photos heavily I totally understand the i7.

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#10 Posted by iceman228433 (743 posts) -

March is when new cards come out I would wait till then.

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#11 Edited by BlatantNinja23 (931 posts) -

Good thing you are waiting on the GPU, though it kind of sounds like not much will be happening this year, especially on AMD's side. After a couple months and there's still nothing I'd say pick up a 670 and not a 680. It doesn't seem like the difference is really worth it, NVIDIA went kinda crazy with the 670.

I'd also suggest avoiding cases with a lot the mesh. My Cooler Master is a dust magnet because of that. Really wish I had gone with the cleaner looking corsair and will be going there when it's time to replace my mobo/cpu. Hmmm I wonder how long my i5 750 will really last me.

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#12 Edited by squiDc00kiE (464 posts) -

I have a 3770k I've overclocked to 4.5GHz while using a H100 cooler. It can absolutely handle the temps. The highest I've seen is 59C after playing maxed out BF3 for 3 hours straight. For context, the safe zone is under 80C.

I also have a CM Storm Trooper case. It was a breeze to build in, and the cable management it allows is gorgeous. However I do take my PC over friends places on a weekly basis so the handle was the biggest selling point for me.

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#13 Edited by Robo (889 posts) -

Hmm, I had another post with a few updates but I suppose it got lost in the transition to the new site. I went ahead and bought everything.

Went with the NZXT Phantom 630 in matte black, upped the SSD to the 256GB version of the 840 Pro, Kraken X60 for the cooler, and a Seasonic SS-660XP PSU. I'm waiting on Titan's official roll out to see if other cards drop in price.

So far, this thing is a beast. It's so goddamned quick. I realize much of that has to do with the freshness of the OS, but even with that in mind it's still ridiculous. Even without overclocking.

It's also far quieter than I imagined. Sure, I can crank all the fans all the way up and start to hear it, but that shouldn't be necessary. Even if I did, it'd still be quieter than the old rig. The airflow and cable management you can achieve in this case is outstanding.

I'm looking forward to loading up a bunch of stuff from my previous computer (the one I'm on now) but I'm having a hard time finding the free time to do so. I've had this thing set up just the way I wan't it for years now. There are a lot of little tweaks and programs that went towards that. I guess I'll start bigger and whittle down to the smaller tweaks and whatnot later.

The first step of that is organizing and making note of all the files I have on this, then going through and seeing which programs I actually need/don't need. Then it's on to re-installing CS6 and importing all my settings/brushes and whatnot. Always more of a headache than it needs to be. After that, I'll tackle Steam and Origin. Hopefully just porting over the files and having them verified or whatever will work. I REALLY don't want to have to download all that shit again. Then the great file migration begins...ugh.

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#14 Edited by Dauthi693 (131 posts) -

I find cases are usually very subjective to the person so not bothering to comment on it.

For the motherboard what do the $300 ones offer that the $150 ones? Because i usually find myself cutting back to these to put funds into other components.

Also Cosair aren't as great as they were like 2-3 years ago but still a solid choice if other brands offer a better deal its worth considering.

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