My first build: an attempt at excellence

By baN893 ยท 51 replies
Dec 20, 2011
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  1. Hello TechSpot Forum,

    First of all, thank you for taking your time for reading, and hopefully responding to this thread. :)
    During this past summer I started developing an interest in building my own desktop and have since been on a steep learning curve. Due to this, I'm trying to make this build something special. I have been reading the guides and reviews from TechSpot regarding building my own desktop and have been able to construct something I am satisfied with now. No purchases have been made so far, and therefore I am here to ask you for your advice regarding my choices.

    I'm building this desktop as a gaming computer that will tackle anything I throw at it for hopefully the next two years. I'm looking to spend less than CAD$2,000 since I am located in the Vancouver area. I'm also willing, actually expecting, to buy the components online. I have keyboard and mouse but will buy a nice monitor as you can see below. All listed prices are from

    Newest/Updated build on page 2

    1 x Intel Core i5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB $240
    1 x ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 ATX LGA1155 DDR3 3PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 SATA3 USB3.0 SLI CrossFireX Audio Motherboard $204
    1 x Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E Dual DVI HDMI DisplayPort Video Card $289
    1 x Corsair CML8GX3M2A1600C9 Vengeance Lowprofile 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 Dual Channel Memory Kit $51
    1 x Corsair Carbide Series 500R Mid-Tower Gaming Case ATX 4X5.25 6X3.5INT USB 1394 No PS Black $130
    1 x Corsair Enthusiast Series TX850M 850W ATX Modular Power Supply Active PFC 120MM Fan 5 Year Warranty $142
    1 x Noctua NH-D14 LGA1155/1156/1366/AM3 I7/I5/PHENOM Heatpipe Cooler W/ NF-P14 140MM & NF-P12 120MM Fan $90
    1 x Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200RPM 64MB SATA 6Gbps 3.5IN Internal Hard Drive - OEM $160
    1 x LG GH22NS70 Super Multi 22X SATA DVD Writer Black OEM $25
    1 x Viewsonic VP2365WB 23IN E-IPS Widescreen LCD Monitor 1920X1080 14MS 1000:1 DVI-D VGA HDCP 4PORT USB $317

    Now is the time for me to make some comments regarding my above choices. With the new AMD Radeon 7000 series around the corner, I will of course wait for the release to take place and replace the above listed 6950 with its equivalent successor. However, this "waiting" ordeal leads me into asking if I should even wait for Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge CPUs to be released in April (if all goes well). Will there be a significant increase in performance regarding the 3570K over the 2500K just based on architecture? Again I'm still a noob at this. Unfortunately, during the summer of 2012 I will be absent for three months, so even if Ivy Bridge is worth the wait, I wouldn't be able to make a purchase until August 2012. Which of course makes the above build irrelevant and probably new hardware will be available by then. On another thought, HDD prices might have recovered from the Thailand flooding by then, which would hopefully make this build another $100 or so cheaper. Do excuse me, I'm getting a little side-tracked. I went for the ASRock Z68 EXTREME4 in combination with the Corsair Enthusiast Series TX850M hoping to throw in two AMD 7000 series cards in CrossFire since the motherboard has dual 16x, 16x capabilities which would hopefully make this build last much longer than the above stated 2 years. Of course, a SSD is also planned to be added to this build at some point, but not at the time of purchase. The Noctua CPU cooler is as far I am concerned the best air cooling fan I could want for my needs and the Viewsonic VP2365WB 23IN E-IPS Widescreen LCD Monitor is a screen that is a year or two old, but should provide me with plenty of "eyegasms" for the future.

    Phew. If you really managed to read all of this congratulations and thank you for doing so. :) I would love to read what you have to say regarding my choices and I am curious to know what you think regarding the Ivy Bridge CPUs and whether it is worth the wait.

    Thank you,

  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,715   +3,693

    Nice build!! :)

    I think it is still too early to know what if any performance gains will be with Ivy.
  3. Broeci

    Broeci TS Member Posts: 27


    This will keep you happy for several years :) The power supply could easily handle a crossfire of the 6950, when your pc can't handle the games anymore on ultra, but that's in the far future.

    Good luck with gaming on your rig.
  4. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    There's no point waiting for Ivy Bridge, most games don't utilize the full power of the 2500K so you should be fine for at least a couple of years. Especially if you overclock it, you have a very good cooler there.

    However I would wait for the Radeon 7xxx series, they're just around the corner (to be released in a month or so), so when they're released you can either pick up a 7xxx card or buy the 6950/6970 which should fall in price.

    I would suggest you get a 120GB SSD now for your OS/applications/games and re-use an old hard drive for storage purposes, then you can buy another hard drive for storage once prices stabilize. Otherwise you'll be paying through the nose for a HDD now, and when you upgrade to an SSD you will have to re-install Windows again.
  5. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Thanks for the confirmation people :)

    You bring up a good point that hadn't occured to me previously. Thanks for pointing that out. I might indeed do exactly that.
  6. earth8ound8

    earth8ound8 TS Rookie

    Looks like a nice machine, save one detail.

    You have picked out some really sexy components and paired them with 'meh' memory. If you spend just a little more you can get better RAM. Something like; G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH.
    Maybe? Sorry, I am AMD and a bit intel ignorant to their restrictions. But look for a lower cas latency.

    My motherboard also has Realtek ALC892 on board sound. There are some compatibility issues with this in both linux 32 bit and windows 7 64bit. If you plan on using this motherboard for gaming and voice programs such as teamspeak or vent I would recommend a sound card.

    I agree with SSD as well. If you really want that uber machine. =)

    Also, shop around if you can, I found that mobo for $175 ;p

    Best of luck with your BEAUTIFUL rig!!
  7. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Also thanks for that, I've been discussing my ram choice with a friend of mine who was kind enough to explain the principal of RAM latency to me :) I originally picked those Corsair RAM because of the "low profile". Merely because I have no actual conception of how much my cooler will lean into the memory slots. I wanted to be on the safe side of things. Am I going to run into any clearance issues with the G.SKILL Ripjaws and the Noctua cooler?

    Thanks for the remarks and suggestions! :) It's much appreciated on my behalf.


    EDIT:I have changed my build a little bit, expecting that I will buy a completely new set in two years when moving to Europe. I have changed the case, the motherboard, the RAM, HDD to an SSD, and just downgraded the PSU by 200W since I won't be using CrossFireX. I underlined and italicized changes:

    Newest/Updated build on page 2

    1 x Intel Core i5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB $240
    1 x ASRock Z68 EXTREME3 GEN3 ATX LGA1155 DDR3 2PCI-E16 2PCI-E SATA3 USB3.0 SLI CrossFireX Motherboard $156
    1 x Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB GDDR5 PCI-E Dual DVI HDMI DisplayPort Video Card $289
    1 x G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-12800CL7D-8GBXH 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL7-8-7-24 1.5V Memory Kit $108
    1 x Fractal Design Define R3 Black ATX Mid Tower Silent Computer Case 2X5.25 8X3.5INT USB3.0 No PS $110
    1 x Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650M 650W ATX Modular Power Supply Active PFC 120MM Fan 5 Year Warranty $112
    1 x Noctua NH-D14 LGA1155/1156/1366/AM3 I7/I5/PHENOM Heatpipe Cooler W/ NF-P14 140MM & NF-P12 120MM Fan $90
    1 x Mushkin Chronos 120GB 2.5IN SATA3 Sandforce SF-2281 SSD Solid State Disk Flash Drive $192
    1 x LG GH22NS70 Super Multi 22X SATA DVD Writer Black OEM $25
    1 x Viewsonic VP2365WB 23IN E-IPS Widescreen LCD Monitor 1920X1080 14MS 1000:1 DVI-D VGA HDCP 4PORT USB $317

    Did I create any bottlenecks by changing these components? The motherboard is just tier below the one first posted, and tbh I cannot explain to myself how the ASROCK EXTREME 4 is $50 more expensive then the ASRock EXTREME 3. Can you tell me?
  8. Buckshot420

    Buckshot420 TS Enthusiast Posts: 301

  9. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Thanks for the links :) I might take advantage of this offer.
  10. earth8ound8

    earth8ound8 TS Rookie

    The memory may not fit. I looked into the cooler and other options on memory. It is hard to tell.
    Mushkin Enhanced Radioactive 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 997006 (), This is a similar product with a lower profile.

    As for the motherboards, the extreme3 has less usb's, less connection in general, and it appears there is onboard graphics. The specs I read specifically stated no video, however there are DVI and HDMI ports. Beyond that I am not sure. I am unable to tell which chipset is generally accepted as better.
  11. slh28

    slh28 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,706   +172

    I would avoid the RAM with the huge heat spreaders, they may look cool but your Noctua cooler is massive and they probably won't fit. Tbh I think your original choice of RAM is fine, you can spend quite a bit more money on faster speed or lower latency but at the end of the day it's going to be hardly noticeable.
  12. PC nerd

    PC nerd TS Booster Posts: 317   +41

    Excellent build

    8GB RAM

    And you're worried about the future?

    That rig will run anything.

    My Phenom 955/4GB RAM/6850 will run most games at high spec.
  13. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Haha I guess I'm trying to do everything right ^^' Thanks for the feedback
  14. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Not wanting to be pedantic here, but that is subjective at best. Yes it will run most things, but if the OP wants to play BF3 at ultra it won't exactly provide the best experience now will it?

    Before building its important we know what a customers expectations are, and what it will be used for. For example, this build would be useless for eyefinity gaming. Also, dependant on desktop activities like Photoshop usage there would also be instances where a user would benefit from a i7 2600K, or even a LGA2011 setup.

    The build is good, but I would mirror concerns about the RAM as well. You want really low profile RAM sticks in order to clear that cooler. Might be best to stick to something like Corsair's XMS3 DDR3-1600 Sticks. They're pretty much the height of OEM sticks, and offer the same frequency and timings. I use them myself and they're considerably smaller than an ideal spec set I have from G.Skill from their RipJaw range.

    Also, you have SATA 3 (6Gb/s) ports, I would strongly advise you purchase a 6Gb/s capable SSD as the performance is considerably faster. Prices aren't a lot different. With the right SSD you could be seeing twice the performance over your current SSD choice.
  15. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Could you elaborate on that please? I was expecting this build to run bf3 on ultra without a hassle.

    I have no intentions of spending money on an eyefinity gaming setup. Also, for the one youtube video I might render a month I'm not willing to pay for a 2600k. This build is basically for gaming on one screen, doing my homework on Excel and Word and watching YouTube videos.

    Thanks for your input on this, I may just buy those Corsair XMS3 sticks. I believe as the novice I am, I will not know what the difference would be between a set of Corsair XMS3's and G.Skill RipJaws. I'm able to aknowledge that one is better/faster than the other, but personally i don't know how much difference there is between the two. I believe as long as my RAM fits under my cooler and does what it is meant to do, I will be satisfied.

    Thanks for looking out for me, but I double and triple checked this and I am sure you are mistaken. The Muskin Chronos SSD I selected is guaranteed a SATA 3 6Gb/s SSD.

    Thanks for your input, I really appreciate it.

  16. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +117

    Sure thing.

    BF3 running a full HD display (1920x) and a HD6950 will see around 37FPS on average. Our BF3 ultra performance tests comparing various graphics cards at ultra and 1920x resultions will give you an idea of what you need.

    Most people will require a minimum of 50-60FPS in order to fully enjoy the gaming experience. So basically you need at least a GTX580, a dual-core GPU (HD6990 or GTX590), SLI GTX570/580 or at least 2x X-Fire HD6970's in order to get the best from the game. The new HD7970 has just taken the fastest single core GPU title from the GTX580 as well, so that is an option once it becomes available.

    They were examples to illustrate my point. I'm not suggesting you should.The point was to explain that its always a good idea to find out the users requirements of the new computer before suggesting the build is perfect. As the BF3 issue has clearly pointed out.

    They're the same speed in this case. Basically identical specs.

    Here is the Corsair XMS3 DDR3-1600 RAM:

    Here is the G.Skill Ripjaws:

    Note the increased height due to the "fins" on the Ripjaws. These are what will cause clearance issues. The Corsair XMS3 RAM has low profile heatsinks, and therefore clears larger coolers much better.

    Your are indeed correct, it is 6Gp/s and therefore ideal. Sorry for the confusion, I must have scanned the first hard disk choice after seeing SSD in the second as it is pretty clear with SATA3 in the title that it is correct. :haha:
  17. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Thanks for linking the BF3 Ultra performance test. I've been planning on waiting for the 7950/7970 to come out. What I've seen from the reviews on 3dguru etc. I feel that it's going to be a great card. However, because I'm not going to use eyefinity with my build, wouldn't I just not be using the card for what it is meant and built to do? If I would get a 7970 (or 7950 with a bios switch to OC it to a 7970 ^^' like it is the case with the SAPPHIRE 6950) I feel like I wouldn't be using the card to its full potential.

    On another note, would I be bottlenecking a 7950 or 7970 with the current build I am talking about above?

    Cheers for the input
  18. PC nerd

    PC nerd TS Booster Posts: 317   +41

    The XMS3 corsair modules will fit under a Noctua NH-D14. I've got 4 XMS3 modules chilling under my Noctua. Both the fans on the Noctua are adjustable, so It's easy to fit it around the other components.

    I hope you've got a massive case though. The NH-D14 barely fits in my NZXT hades. I had to take the side 200mm fan out to get the side panel to close :D
  19. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Good to hear that someone else is using the XMS3 modules ^^.

    Thanks for mentioning that, however I believe I'm good with the case I selected. The Fractal Design R3 Midi Tower shown here with the fan installed
    It's obviously a close call, but I believe it should work, maybe might still be able to install the side panel fan.
  20. PC nerd

    PC nerd TS Booster Posts: 317   +41

    The Fractal R3 is lurvly :D
  21. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    Updated my build again

    Merry X-mas to all of you!

    Hope you have had a great x-mas. So far it has been great to me, allowing me to go the extra mile with my computer build. $.$ :D

    1x CORSAIR Carbide Series 500R Black Steel structure with molded ABS plastic accent pieces ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $109 Purchased
    1x ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $150 Purchased
    1x Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 $209 Purchased
    1x AMD Radeon HD 7970 :D $550
    1x CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9 $48 Purchased
    1x CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650M 650W ATX12V v2.31 / EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular High Performance Power $110 Purchased
    1x Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe MKNSSDCR120GB-DX 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $215 Purchased
    1x ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM $23 Purchased
    1x Asus VE248H Black 24" Full HD HDMI LED Backlight LCD Monitor w/Speakers, VESA Compatible $189 Purchased
    1x CORSAIR H100 (CWCH100) Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler $89 Purchased
    1x Logitech G110 Black USB Wired LED Backlighting Gaming Keyboard $64 Purchased

    A total of $1756 without 12% taxes. Which when added totals to $1966 making this build just sub the $2000 mark.

    Hope this will be some good ****.

    Let me know if there are any flaws / what you think


    EDIT: I just purchased the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos Deluxe SSD. It was too good of a chance to let a 20% sale go by ^^

    EDIT #2: Just decided I would use the Corsair H100 instead of the Noctua NH-D14. After thinking about it for a while, it seems to make more sense to me to have the CPU cooler to be able to directly exhaust hot air out of the case instead of move air around the inside of the case. This move would allow me to use other lower CAS RAM that have high fins. Since it appears that I'm turning into a Corsair fanboi (LOL ^^') I decided to choose some Corsair Vengeance RAM while I am at it. LOL.

    Any objections?
  22. Dannyk0ed

    Dannyk0ed TS Member Posts: 63

    Looks good man, good Choice of GPU
  23. Buckshot420

    Buckshot420 TS Enthusiast Posts: 301

    some prices seems high, have you shopped around? I know you're in Canadia but I doubt the dollar exchange is that different. If you don't mind paying the extra than go for it, but I think you could save close to $100 and put that $ back into your build (maybe upgrade your MB for that nasty gpu)
  24. baN893

    baN893 TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 83   +10

    No I haven't shopped around much yet. I'm just posting the prices from
    It's still something I should do.
  25. PC nerd

    PC nerd TS Booster Posts: 317   +41

    Holy ****. I'm bloody jelly :D

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