Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

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#1 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:08 AM

So, as the title says, I'm speccing out a new gaming rig. It's been about 2 years since I built my last machine and I only did that because a friend of mine who works at Intel tossed me a free CPU that only required me to get a mobo and some memory to upgrade my machine at the time.

I need info/opinions on 4 choices I need to make:

  • Which CPU to buy. My choice is between a 3.3GHz Core i5 or a 3.4GHz Core i7. The difference in price is about $100. Is the difference in performance worth the extra benjamin?
  • Which mobo to buy. I was originally looking at an Asus P8P67 Deluxe but read some reviews on the ASRock P67 PRO3 and that board comes in around $80 cheaper. I know the Asus has a bunch of nice features but I have an Asus now that has lots of nice stuff...and I've never used it. I might OC the proc a little bit but what I'm really looking for is opinions about other boards (Gigabyte, MSI, etc)
  • Video card. I'm not interested all that much in going with a dual card setup so I'm looking at either a XFX Radeon HD 6850 or a MSI NGTX560 Ti Twin Frozr. There's about a $65 difference between the two and again, is the XFX that much better to justify the price?
  • Finally, memory. I'll be getting a copy of Win7 Professional 64 bit and I'm not sure how much memory is enough for that OS. My current XP rig runs with 4Gb and I was originally thinking of putting 16Gb on this machine...but now I'm not sure. My current spec has 8Gb but I'm kinda lost on how much is enough to compensate for what is surely a greater memory demand by the OS.

I also have a 750W PSU specc'd out and I'm pretty sure that's enough juice...but I'm told the newer Intel procs don't need near the power of the old quad cores they replaced...so maybe 750W is overkill?

I'm trying to keep this build below $900 (spec'g everything except peripherals and a case) and it'll need to last me around 5 years or so if possible. Thanks in advance for any and all learned opinions/experiences anyone wishes to share with me on this.

This post has been edited by Craig328: 03 October 2011 - 06:10 AM


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#2 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:26 AM

If you're not running dual cards or a dozen hard drives then 750 Watts should be ample.
I like Asus motherboards and have owned several, but one time I did buy an ASRock board because I was in a pinch and it was dirt cheap and I was pretty impressed by the quality of it, that board lasted me several more years and was a solid performer, so on that front I'd say if it has all the features you want then save yourself the $80.
On RAM, I'd say unless you're using a lot of virtual machines, 16GB is overkill, even 8 is a little excessive, but who knows about 5 years from now, I would start lower with the RAM, and then add more if you feel like you need it. Have you ever managed to use all of your 4 GB with XP?
I'm no authority on the performance difference between the i5 and i7, so you might wanna look up some benchmarks, in the low end you can get bug jumps in GHz for not a lot of money, but in the high end a tenth of GHz can get pretty pricey, if it was me, and assuming it is a pure gaming rig, I'd probably go with the i5 and spend an extra hundred on the graphics, if you really want to get 5 years of fragging out of it.

Them's my opinions, fwiw.
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#3 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:36 AM

When the i7 chip came out I immediately bought the 2.93 ghz i7 940 back in October/Novemeber 2008 (it was around my birthday which is at the turn of Nov). I paired it with 12 gigs of RAM and a Geforce 9800 and I still romp with this set up to this day. I've only upgraded one thing, that being the video-card to the 460 (just as the 500 series came out bringing the 460's price down). I have them running together as I have a 3 monitor set-up.

Oh and clear up something. Is this the i5 2500k and i7 2600k, both of which run on socket 1155, that you are talking about? I'm assuming they are because of your mobo choices.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 October 2011 - 06:44 AM

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#4 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 06:57 AM

View Postlordofduct, on 03 October 2011 - 09:36 AM, said:

Oh and clear up something. Is this the i5 2500k and i7 2600k, both of which run on socket 1155, that you are talking about? I'm assuming they are because of your mobo choices.


Yeah, those are the procs I'm looking at.

I hadn't mentioned that I run two monitors so I suppose that's something I'd need to keep in mind for a vid card.

Oh, something else: the last major build I did, I bought a sound card but I've been hearing that that piece is probably superfluous anymore given the integrated sound quality on most boards anymore. Anyone have any thoughts on that? The sound card I have I'd probably not buy again as it doesn't play well with the chat on any game I run so I spec'd this build without a sound card.

On a couple of occasions, I have been glad to have the memory I have on the XP rig...but that was for things like database dev which I've since moved off onto a dedicated DB rig. Since then, I haven't bothered to monitor memory usage other than to see what was taking so long with certain apps. The XP upper limit was 4GB I believe...so that's what I slapped in there.

This post has been edited by Craig328: 03 October 2011 - 06:59 AM

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#5 Gavisann  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:00 AM

705 watts is fine just don't sli or crossfire your cards. I would buy the $100 for the i7, you will not regret it. So for RAM, it depends on what you play on doing. If you are going to run 3 VMs as well as a few games, go for 16GBs, if your 8 GBs worked well for you, stick with it. Here is a great deal on some slower RAM.Here for 8 Gbs.

I have always been a Nvidia fan so I would say the 560. It will play just about any game you throw at it on high settings.
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#6 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:13 AM

I have 4 gigs in my work machine running Win7 32-bit, 4 gigs shows up as 3.5 gigs (the max in all Windows 32-bit OSs). I cap mine out with my work all the freakin' time, it really annoys me that they gave me 32-bit Win7 instead of 64-bit, at least then I could up it. But yeah, just 2 or 3 projects open in Visual Studio caps my memory out. Right now I have 2 projects and my usual apps running and I'm at 72%.

The 12 gigs at home though. It's a bit over kill for every day stuff and even a good deal of work stuff. It's only those few occasions that I use the 12 gigs, and that's usually art software related. I'm happy I have it when I need it, but 6 or 8 gigs would do me fine outside of those scenarios, and probably same for you. But hey, like when I bought my 12 gigs, the price difference was like 40 bucks and I was like "meh, that's just a handle of vodka... might as well".


Sound cards really depend upon what you want to do. If you prefer universal support for the most part I'd stick with onboard. Sound-cards can give you a boost in this specific area, or that... but can hurt you with stupid technicalities. Personally I have a separate receiver and just feed a optical cable to it and direct passthrough... let the receiver figure everything out for me. EVERYTHING has worked this way.

One nice thing I have noticed about having the extra sound card though. I can pair it to specific programs like VirtualBox, Skype, VLC, etc. So then I can have sound device serving to my surround sound system (music and games usually) and simultaneously pipe other stuff to a headset (skype or ventrillo for chat) and I can manipulate each volume independently.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 October 2011 - 07:17 AM

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#7 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:25 AM

Yeah, I prolly won't be doing stuff like that but the "routing it all through a receiver" notion is intriguing. I have an old receiver we don't use. I could re-purpose that easily enough. Could be interesting...
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#8 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:42 AM

It's only useful if your receiver does audio processing. If it's just an analogue stereo receiver your computer will still need to do most of the work, but if it has digital input and like digital stereo processing (and DD or DTS is a plus) it's fairly straight forward. All audio just gets pushed out the optical out and you by-pass most of the processing.

And it's not like you need special drivers or anything. Just plug-in and go. All my gamer friends rav about stupid Creative Labs sound cards and etc with their 2 and 3 hundred dollar price tags. And well they pail in comparison to a quality receiver and AMP with big ol' speakers. I srsly put mine together from spare parts I've collected over the last decade.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 03 October 2011 - 07:46 AM

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#9 hookiethe1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:50 AM

That would be one thing to consider with you choice of mobo, you can get some really good quality sound on some motherboards, just make sure it has what you want. The only time I've ever used a dedicated card was for splitting between apps like LoD said, back when I had 5.1 speakers and 5.1 headphones. I've always been happy with the sound on Asus boards I've owned, the sound never worked on the cheapo ASRock board that I mentioned before.
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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 08:47 AM

the memory demands of 7, while higher than xp, seem to be less than that of vista, so i dunno, the 4 sounds fine. i think that's all i have in my desktop and it runs fine (also the 64bit version)

i'd verify for you, but that machine is still in my parents garage :\
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#11 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:10 AM

Hm.

It's sounding more and more like I can go with my more affordable spec and probably be just fine then. The Core-I5 on the ASRock board, the 6850 vid card and 4Gb memory sounds like it'll prolly do me fine. I can always drop more memory into the box should it prove to be underpowered that way.
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#12 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:13 AM

And don't forget the overclocking options on the gpu and cpu if you decide they're a little weaker than you anticipated after the rig is put together.
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#13 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:16 AM

Indeed. I've only ever overclocked one proc and can't say that I noticed a huge difference...but that was a long time back...a P3 proc I think it might have been.

I'm told the Bios options on mobos these days make OC'g fall-off-a-log easy so I'll prolly try it.
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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:17 AM

4 is fine; I run Windows 7 on 6 and never approach full memory utilization or even 75%. The current i5s are awesome, you wouldn't regret going that route.

This post has been edited by xclite: 03 October 2011 - 09:18 AM

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#15 Craig328  Icon User is offline

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Re: Building a new gaming rig...need some opinions

Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:22 AM

I'll admit that I'd been relying on MaximumPC for a guide to this point and they had nice things to say about the I5.

The build I'm anticipating now will come in just over $300 under my maximum, balls out configuration, so this is a good thing.

Oddly enough, it's also around $200 less than my last full build which was around 6 years back. This time round I'm recycling a case and buying an OS whereas last time I had the OS and was buying a case.
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