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Computer Construction Advice

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
Hey, guys.

I've been trying to figure out which parts I should use to build a top-of-the-line computer, but, since I have no experience working with custom computers, I need some advice.

I realize that this probably isn't the appropriate forum to post this in, but I couldn't find a better one to post this topic in. I didn't want to split this post into a bunch of different parts (one part per component), because a lot of it wouldn't really make sense without the rest - a lot of my questions have to do with component compatibility, you see.

I used Macs for about ten years (primarily for work), but I eventually got disgusted by their distinct lack of upgradability and gaming limitations. I then went and bought an Alienware M17x, but I've come to realize that was a mistake - I could have bought a dekstop three times more powerful for the same price (or less!). So, here I am trying to build a custom computer instead of buying pre-made ones. Maybe there's still some hope for me.

I've done a whole lot of research and have been able to narrow my choices down a lot, but some things are just out of my league - compatibility between parts, for instance, reference or non-reference graphics, etc. I would greatly appreciate it if you folks could tell me why you recommend something over everything else, as opposed to just saying that I'm a moron and posting a link to some random component.

I should note that I'm not overly concerned with budget, so I'm looking for the best parts available. However, I'd rather not pay $1000 for a very minute performance upgrade over a part that normally costs, say, $200-$500. I plan on overclocking the computer significantly, and am aiming for a 3-way-SLI or tri-fire configuration.

Without further ado, let me jump into my selections, my reasoning behind them, and my boatload of questions.
  1. The Case

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811119225

    I picked out the HAF-X because it looks like I can fit pretty much anything I want in there (and it looks pretty neat). I'm planning on going tri-fire or 3-way-SLI, so I'm going to need all the room I can get. The case has 6x 5.25" drive bays, 5x 3.25" drive bays, and four large fans.

    I couldn't really find a better case out there, but I am certainly open to recommendations.

  2. The Power Supply

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139014

    I picked out this power supply because I'm going to need a lot of juice to run everything I want, but, from what I can tell, getting a 1500w power supply is rather pointless. It's also nice that it's power efficient, I guess.

    The only thing that I'm concerned about is that it may not have enough PCI-E connectors for a 3-way GFX solution.

    What do you guys think?

  3. The Processor

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115070

    From what I've been able to deduce from my research, this is the best processor on the market, what with the whole sandy bridge shenanigans.

    I'm under the impression that the Extreme i7-975 processor isn't worth the $700 upgrade from the 2600K.

    Also, do I need to get a processor cooler?

  4. The Memory

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820145330

    I'm not really sure if 8GB of memory will be enough for really intense gaming - would 12 be more appropriate?

    I mean, I realize that not many programs will realistically ever use 8GB of RAM, but I've never tried running most games on the highest settings, so I'm not really sure.

    The same thing goes for the 2000MHZ speed - I don't believe anything will really be able to take advantage of more (or need more, really), so I just went with this RAM.

    Do I need to use a cooler for the RAM?

    Also, I can't really tell whether the HAF-X will have enough space for a 3 GFX cards, the processor, 12GB of RAM, the power supply, numerous harddrives, a cooling solution, and so on. I just don't have the experience to be able to tell one way or another.

  5. The Video Card(s)

    Okay, so here's one of the primary parts I've been stumped on.

    If I went with ATI, I'd go with three 6970s in a TRIFIRE configuration.

    If I went with NVIDIA, I'd go with three GT580s in a three-way-SLI configuration.

    I'm not sure which of the two cards beats the another out, since I believe the 580 is better than the 6970 alone, but the 6970s scale better in a multi-card configuration. The information I've been online has been rather contradictory, and I can't really tell either way.

    As a result, I've been leaning towards the company that I'm more familiar with, ATI.

    This, however, leads me to yet another question: should I go with non-reference cards, or reference cards? Note that I don't want to go with a reference 6950 and unlock it to a 6970 - I'd rather just go with the more expensive 6970.

    There are a few non-reference designs that I've been looking at:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814127581

    It's overclocked to 940MHZ vs the standard 880 MHZ, and has two fans built in.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814121430

    It's slower than the MSI card, but also has two fans.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814102918

    You know, I can't even tell if this one is reference or non-reference, to be honest. I've just heard that SAPPHIRE, MSI, and ASUS are the holy trinity of non-reference 6970s, so...

    Obviously, the warranty is different between the three companies and whatnot, but I'm not sure if they get rid of anything (or use lower-quality components) from the reference design (the voltage controller, for instance).

    Also, I'm not sure whether it's more efficient cooling-wise to go with the dual-fan non-reference design, or to go with a reference design and use a waterblock or something.

    I don't even know if it's possible to tri-fire three non-reference 6970s, since the dual-fan designs probably take more space.

    Also, do I need to use a waterblock for every card if I decide to go with a reference design (or even a non-reference design)? Will they fit?

    There's just too many options and different configurations for me to be able to sort through without any previous first-hand experience.

  6. The Motherboard

    I'm not really sure what mobo I should use, since I need it to be compatible with everything else that I want to use. I really have no clue as to which parts are best used together.

    I've been looking at the following motherboard, but I really am not sure whether it's the best, given my desires:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-701-_-Product

    I've also heard that a P67 motherboard is best... does the P8P67 count, or is it better?

  7. The Harddrives

    Okay, so I'm a little stumped here.

    What I've been thinking about doing is using one small SSD for the boot, using 1-2 more for anything gaming-related, and using some 7200RPM 2TB drives for everything else. What do you guys think?

    The HAF-X has 6x 5.25" drive bays and 5x 3.25" drive bays. I'll probably leave a number of them empty at first and fill them out as needed.

    So does this mean that my 2TB drives would take up the 5.25" bays, and the SSDs (probably 2x 500GB and 1x 100GB (maybe? for the boot partition)) the 3.25" bays?

  8. The Cooling Solution

    I'm stumped.

    The HAF-X has four large fans. Do I need to worry about anything else?

    Do I need waterblocks for the video cards, or a separate cooling unit for the processor, RAM, or HDDs?

    Should I be worried about water cooling?

    How am I supposed to manage the in- and out-flows of everything? All the fans will be dumping in different places (for example, the video cards may dump into the case, or something)... I just have no idea how to get the cooling to be efficient.

    Do I need to worry about getting heatsinks or supplemental fans?

    I have no experience whatsoever in this field, so... heh.

  9. Miscellaneous

    I'm going to go with one or two blu-ray readers/burners.

    What networking card should I use?

    Which cables do I need?

    Is there anything that I'm forgetting?

    Did you actually read this entire post?

Thanks for all of your time, guys.

I've done as much research as I can, but I simply don't have the experience needed to deal with a lot of these problems.

Respectfully,

-13ack.Stab
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post #2 of 26
Regarding the list its very good Go with nvida's 580's!

Regarding the hdd's the 2tb hdds will take up the 3.5inch bays

and your ssd will take up the 2.5inch bay (floppy bay) "eww I said floppy" haha

12gb of ram allways sounds nicer than 8gb, Look into some dominator Gt ram (red) they are simply the best!

power supply is very good will last you some years

love the haf x so good choice there too,

Get one blue ray drive pref samsung/lg

and one normal dvd bay.

And network card the onboard will be perfectly fine

and if the budget is no option

get 3x nvida 590's PURE WIN
Edited by ryanbob1234 - 5/15/11 at 4:26am
post #3 of 26
OP, ask yourself a question, would you take advice from some one with the mentality that finds the word "floppy" amusing?
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post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by purpleannex View Post
OP, ask yourself a question, would you take advice from some one with the mentality that finds the word "floppy" amusing?
No I dont find it amuzing I hate floppy drives and when ever I come accross them I set out to destroy them!
post #5 of 26
Hi,

you have picked out a rather nice system yourself.

Yes i would advise you to take an aftermarket cpu cooler, though a 2500K cpu run rather cool you still want to overclock it and it not beeing to noisy.
I Would advise you something like an XSPS RASA kit with 240mm rad or 360 rad if you can fit it. On aircooling i could advise you a Thermalright Silver arrow or Prolimatech Megahalems with push/pull gentle typhoons 1850rpm

For the Graphic cards i would go with 3x 6970, not becuase its better but becuase the performance is almost the same but its cost ALOT less.

also would go with 2x 4GB of ram, this way you only use 2 slots and can help make overclocking easier then with 4 slots in use. trust me 8GB is more then enough for gaming.
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post #6 of 26
Actually your 2TB drive will take up a 3.5" drive. Floppy drives also take up 3.5" bays. SSD's usually take up 2.5" bays but will usually come with an adapter to fit them inside the 3.5" bay.

Also don't get 12gb of ram. Sandy Bridge 1155 uses dual channel so get either 2x 4gb sticks for 8gb or 4x 4gb sticks for 16gb for optimal performance.

8gb should be fine for most tasks, I myself upgrade to 16gb for bragging rights lol.
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post #7 of 26
Alright here goes...

Case: HAF sounds good. A lot of people have them and love them. There's a good amount of space and decent options.

Power Supply: You shouldn't need a 1500w Power supply unless you intend on running a lot of raid drives in addition to your triple graphics setup... With that said, I have the corsair tx750 and it has enough wire leads to support three cards. I would suggest either 1000w without raid or 1250w with raid. Brand is up to you they pretty much all do the same exact thing and don't have the ability to boost your benchmark or speed. Look for reliability and power efficiency (I choise corsair)

Processor: I have the i7 2600k and like it so far. Everything is very fast compared to my previous Core 2 Duo. For me, I wanted the best CPU as well. However, the small amount of speed increase you get with the extreme edition CPUs wasn't worth the money for me. I would go with the 2600k, I don't think you will be disappointed. MAKE SURE you get the 2600k and not just the 2600 if you plan to OC.

Memory: You will get thousands of answers on what is best. If you are going for a benchmark then get the lowest latency you can find 7-7-7. If you work with professional software like I do and game on the side...get more for less. I chose 16GB g.skill ripjaws 1600MHZ. When you game though, more memory doesn't mean more speed. I have seen benchmarks that show that two 4GB memory sticks were comparable to four 4GB memory sticks. I chose to get more just because of utilizing production software.

Video Card: If you use professional software at all get the NVIDIA. Adobe uses CUDA cores. I made a mistake of buying the ATI card (Which I actually like) and can't take advantage of Adobe's mercury playback engine. Oh well. NVIDIA currently benchmarks the highest. The card with the highest benchmark to my knowledge is the GTX 580. According to a recent article the ATI HD 6990 is supposed to be the fastest card out at present. I would stick with the NVIDIA 580 or 570 for professional application and ATI if you want bang for your buck. I can't answer for the SLI or Crossfire though...sorry.

Motherboard: P8P67 Deluxe is a good choice, and was the best choice a month ago when I bought mine. I will say, if you intend on buying a case with more than two USB ports and then intend to connect a Flash card reader...beware! There are only two USB 2.0 hookups. My case had four ports on the front and I had to get a PCI card to plug in the last connector (I wasn't real happy). At present, I couldn't find any other accessories that connect to the USB 3.0 port on the board other than the supplied box. Other than that, I like the board for the most part. If you will be using any accessory cards (PCI, PCIe), just know that your graphics cards will cover all of the accessory slots except for one. All in all, it's a good choice.

Hard Drive: Do yourself a favor and don't get anything other than an SSD for your main drive. HUGE increase in speed...I mean monumentous! I went with the Intel 510 serries which was the fastest a month ago or so. The OCZ Vertex 3 is the fastest at present. If you go the intel route though MAKE SURE you get the 510 series and not the 320 series because it's older and slower.

For storage I went with four Samsung F3's in Raid 5 Config. They were about the best bang for buck I found. The P8P67 was easy to set up with the raid 5 config and it works very well. Just make sure swappable is OFF in your bios, and you will need a few extra SATA3 cables.

As far as cooling...I have used everything in stock config...for now. I will say the CPU heatsink intel provides has crappy thermal compund on it and I ended up replacing it with IC Diamond (I wasn't happy). If you intend to overclock then watercool your system (I'm not the guy to ask). If you aren't overclocking, then the case and included fans should be suffice. (They were for me) The ASUS bios will tell you the temp of the CPU and Motherboard. Sorry I coulnd't be of more help in this area.

Optical Drive: I chose the LG Blu Ray RW (they all do the same thing find the one for the best price) UNLESS...you want 3D. Then pick your favorite. Your second drive (allthough not necessarry if you have a lot of hard drive space because you can image a BR DVD or CD to the hard drive and then copy it from there) can just be a regular bluray drive.

Network Card: Unless you are going to utilize wireless (which is exponentially slower then a hardwired eithernet connection) you will not need one. The ASUS mobo has dual eithernet adapters.

Other than that...you should be good.

I also got a memory card reader, had to buy thermal compound (IC Diamond), and bought 2 extra sata3 cables. The ASUS mobo comes with several cables but you will also need cables for SLI or Crossfire (The ASUS only came with one I believe)

Happy shopping man and good luck to ya!

EDIT: My RAM is 9-9-9 I forgot to tell ya...oh and I heard rumor that the new NVIDIA cards aren't far off (600 series)...just fyi (May want to get something that will get you by until those come out...
Edited by firedude721 - 5/15/11 at 6:21am
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post #8 of 26
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all of the responses, guys.

I'm going to begin compiling a more 'final' parts list, and update it as necessary.

I still have plenty of questions, though.

I'm going to call this revision 1.0:
  1. Case: HAF-X http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16811119225

  2. Processor: Intel i7-2600K http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16819115070

  3. Aftermarket CPU Cooler: Okay, this is a little bit controversial for me. I'm planning on overclocking (to at least 5 or 5.5 GHz), so I assumed that the stock aircooling solution wouldn't be sufficient (right?), but I've never dabbled in watercooling before. The thought makes me somewhat nervous (electricity + water = lots of money gone bye-bye). I'll check out the watercooling FAQ we have here on OCN, but in the meantime, Farih recommended the XSPC RASA 750 RS360 (read: http://www.overclock.net/water-cooli...-rs-rx120.html ).

  4. Power Supply: Corsair AX1200 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817139014

  5. Motherboard: ASUS P8P67 Deluxe http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-701-_-Product

  6. Memory:

    Corsair Dominator GT (2x4GB, Dual-Channel) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820145330

    OR

    G.SKILL Ripjaw X + Turbulence II Series (4x4GB, Quad-Channel) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820231452

    Note: Bangforthebuck said that the optimal RAM configuration for the 1155 Sandy Bridge is dual-channel... does this also apply to quad-channel RAM (4x4GB)? And if so, is the above selection appropriate (I thought it was sexy, but maybe I'm crazy).

  7. Video Card(s): 3x ATI Radeon HD 6970s (Trifire Configuration)

    Note: I'm still clueless as to whether I should go reference or non-reference; see first post for full explanation.

  8. Hard Drive:

    1. Boot Drive: OCZ Vertex3 120 GB SSD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-706-_-Product
    2. Secondary SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 240 GB SSD http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-707-_-Product
    3. Primary Storage: Seagate Barracuda XT (3TB, 6.0Gb/s) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148748
    4. Secondary Storage: Seagate Barracuda XT (3TB, 6.0Gb/s) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822148748

    Note: Okay, so I'm not sure if the 3TB drives are worth it - is going from 3.0Gb/s to 6.0Gb/s worth it? And I'm not sure if I will even ever be able to use the total 6TB worth of space.

    Note 2: I've never used raid before, so I'm not sure if it's worth it (and which configuration is best). I could use some advice here in laymen's terms (I checked out the raid tutorial we have here on OCN, but it went over my head).

  9. Optical Drive:

    I can't decide between two drives (and I'll probably use 2 drives of the same type total - someone mentioned using one blu-ray and one dvd drive, but the blu-ray drives I've selected both read and write to both blu-rays and dvds, so...).

    Option 1: ASUS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827135248

    Option 2: LITE-ON http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16827106348

    It looks like the ASUS can't write to BD-RE DL discs, while the LITE-ON can. They looks pretty much the same other than that - maybe they just forgot to list that under the specs or something.

  10. Wireless Cards: I want the computer to have the *option* of using wireless, even though it'll most certainly be wired. That said, I'm having trouble finding any wireless cards on Newegg. Are wireless adapters the same thing?

    Here are two different adapters:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...imate-n%206300

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16833156310

  11. Sound Card: ASUS Xonar Essence STX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...-010-_-Product

Does anybody see any compatibility issues or upgrades? Also, I wedged a few questions into the above categories.

Finally, do I have to worry about purchasing heatsinks or thermal paste? I've never dealt with that kind of stuff before.

Thanks for your time and patience.

Best regards,

-13ack.Stab
Edited by 13ack.Stab - 5/15/11 at 9:56am
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Behemoth
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post #9 of 26
Thread Starter 
Bump for great justice.
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Behemoth
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WD Black 2TB ASUS Black Blu-Ray Burner Noctua NH-D15 Windows 10 Pro 64-bit 
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BenQ XL2420T BenQ XL2420TE Topre Realforce 104UB EVGA Supernova 1000P2 
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post #10 of 26
here is what im seeing.

1) the board you got will run trifire but at 8x/8x/4 dont know if that 4x is going to hurt the performance. if you want to tri fire then you may have to go with a i7 970 1366 socket.

2) tri fire on that board would also only give you a single pci slot open as nearly all gpu's now days use duel slots. so that means ether choose a pci wireless adapter or pci soundcard.
Edited by bobfig - 5/16/11 at 8:00am
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Main Rig
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