$2000-$2500 Gaming rig, newbie builder w/ questions

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Dec 22, 2011
So I need a new computer and figured I'd try building one. I've been researching and reading for about a month and think I've come up with a good build but I want a few people to look it over and give me the OK. I'd also like to get some advice on places I might have gone overboard, like the PSU. I also have some questions but I'll give my info and the build first then ask at the bottom.

When I started writing I didn't think this post would be so long, so a big thanks to anyone who reads through it and a bigger thanks to anyone who helps.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next month. Depending on feedback I might order the parts this weekend. I've entered the TH give away for the 3930k, motherboard, and SSD so I kinda feel I should wait to see if I get lucky but waiting is killing me.

Budget Range: I'd like to keep the hardware at or below $2000, but I am willing to go higher for longevity or performance. I'd like to keep the next $500 for things like OS, Windows Office, and anything else I've forgotten or don't know I need.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, streaming Netflix/watching movies, surfing the internet. I'm also going back to school next year for engineering so I might need it to handle some CAD work, but this is secondary. I plan to play mostly strategy games, i.e. Civ 5 and StarCraft 2, but I might give BF 3 a try. Not sure what is out there really. I haven't had a PC that I was happy with for gaming in a couple years. I want to get more into PC gaming and want this computer to run everything. One goal I have is to run Civ 5 on the largest map with max players on the highest settings without a hiccup. This build might be overkill for that, but I also want it to last awhile.

Parts Not Required: I'll need pretty much everything including OS. I plan on getting a new monitor and trying a gaming keyboard and mouse, but I don't want to include those in the budget for the system. I want to get the computer first, then the bells and whistles.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Not too concerned about this but I would prefer to get everything from the same place unless there are big savings elsewhere.

Country: US

Parts Preferences: I personally prefer Intel and NVIDIA. I don't want to start a AMD vs. NVIDIA war, I just prefer NVIDIA.

Overclocking: Not immediately but I would like to try a small overclock, maybe taking a i7-2600k to 4.0 or 4.5 depending on what it does to the life of the processor and the necessary cooling.

SLI or Crossfire: Yes, I'll explain my dilemma in a bit.

Monitor Resolution: Currently 1280x1024 but I plan on getting a Dell U2412M which runs at 1920x1200 so the system should be planned for that.

Build so far:

Case: SILVERSTONE RAVEN Series RV03B-WA Matte Black with Gray Trimming, Steel / Plastic ATX Full Tower Computer Case


Corsair Special Edition White Graphite Series 600T Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALX 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Video Card: EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1563-AR GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

I plan on using two of these in SLI, but I some have questions about that.

PSU: CORSAIR Professional Series HX1050 1050W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Power Supply

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68 DELUXE/GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I72600K

Cooler:COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7

Blu-Ray: SAMSUNG Black 12X BD-ROM 16X DVD-/+R 48X CD-ROM SATA Internal Blu-ray Combo Model SH-B123L/RSBP LightScribe Support

SSD: Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

That's what I have so far. I'd welcome any suggestions on the case. I like the 90 degree motherboard in the Silverstone but I prefer the looks of the Corsair. Also I wouldn't mind a smaller case but I haven't found one I like. I want a little more than a black box but not something weird like the Level 10gt.

For the HDD I don't really know if I need that much space. I don't have hardly any music and no videos. I only have a 250GB hardrive right now with no other storage and I still have 60 GB free on it. I'm thinking about dropping from a 1 TB to 500 GB for storage since I have the SSD for OS and games and getting more in the future when I need it or when prices come back down.

My graphics card dilemma bleeds into my questions about the processor and mobo as well. A couple graphics specific questions first. Can you mix different cards in SLI? For example could I get a GTX580 now and drop in a GTX6xx when they come out and have them play nice together? What exactly is the x16 and x8 when looking at PCI slots? Do I really need to find something with dual x16 to take advantage of SLI? I was trying to find this, preferably in PCI 3.0 (hence the motherboard), but then I read that it is hard to bottleneck a card even on x8. Also, how important is PCI 3.0 support, both now and going forward? My original plan was to get one 580 now and drop in another in six months or so. Then I read that the GTX 600 series is expected next year and you can get better performace from twin GTX 560 TI's for the same price as a GTX 580. Now I'm thinking about going with the 560's and when the GTX 600 series comes out swapping for one or two of those. Any thoughts?

For the CPU and mobo I have a few questions. My big dilemma with this isn't so much 2600k vs. 3930k, which are what I'm debating between, but more LGA 1155 vs. LGA 2011. I know Ivy bridge will be on 1155 but those supposedly won't have much of a performance boost so I'm not sold on that route. I'm more concerned that the Z68 platform and the LGA 1155 won't be able to support things in two or three years. I'm not sure whether to bite the bullet now and get the 3930k for longevity or go with the 2600k for the savings, and get a new mobo and CPU in a couple years.

As for overclocking, I don't know anything about how to overclock so that is not on my immediate horizon, but I am interested. My big concern is what it does to the longevity of the CPU and other parts. If you just cool it enough will it last as long as a non overclocked CPU? And at what point would I need to switch from air to water because I'm not sure that is a line I'm willing to cross just yet?

Also, like I said, I entered the TH giveaway so I would like to select parts that, if I win, I can simply move everything over and have it work, maybe returning the other CPU and mobo.

As for the PSU I erred on the side of bigger is better. I would like it and the case to last me for as long as possible. I also went with something north of 1000w because I could see myself running three video cards at some point. Also, I don't know what is coming down the road and would like this to work with as much of it as possible.

I don't know much about RAM but the vengance was TH approved so I went with that. What is the difference, if any between the colors? Is there any tangible benefit with stepping up to 1866 that would make it worth the extra $70? I also thought about going with 2x8gb sticks in case I went with the 3930k but I decided it wasn't worth the extra $100.

Don't know much about coolers but this one seems popular. What is the difference between this one and the EVO hyper 212? I would like to stay away from water because it scares me and I don't think I need it since I won't be aggressively overclocking. Do I need more cooler than this if I do decide to overclock somewhere a little north of 4.0 on a 2600k?

I don't have my heart set on Blu-ray but I figured what the hell and threw it in.

I was looking for an SSD in the 120GB neighborhood. I plan to use it for my OS, common apps, and games. I figured this would be more than enough. The Crucial seems really popular so that's what I picked.

Any suggestions on a thermal compound would be helpful. I've heard the Artic whatever has curing problems so I'm not sure if I want to go with that.

I plan on running Windows 7 Home Premium as I've heard there is no real benefit to Professional or Ultimate for me.

Like I said, I'm planning on getting a Dell U2412M either with my system or shortly there after. I'm also looking at a Razer Black Widow Ultimate Keyboard:

and either a Logitech G9x mouse:

or a Razer DeathAdder:

I'd like to try a R.A.T. but I'm not sure I want to spend that much without getting my hands on one first. I don't know much about gaming keyboards and mice and I don't have anywhere I can go play with them so any help is awesome. And again, I don't want to include the price of monitor, keyboard, or mouse in my system budget.

Is there any thing I'm missing that I need? Like I said this is my first build so any feedback is welcome.


Oct 30, 2011
[quotemsg=5351122,10,636096]I think I'm gonna stick with the 2600k. I know I won't get much for gaming but I like the hyperthreading. I tend to have several windows open at a time and I'm hoping it will help with that.

I looked at the 7970 and it is nice but it didn't beat a 580 by that much. And I can't get it till the ninth at the earliest. AMD always strikes me as second fiddle and if I'm going to spend this much I'd rather just go with the company with a track record for better performance over all. Sorry AMD guys.

I have zero interest in 3d gaming. That is something I will have to see in person or have it become so common as to be mandatory before I will likely use it.

What is ubersampling? Do other games use it? Could I max out with a pair of superclocked 570's? I'm starting to hesitate on getting 580's if NVIDIA's new cards are so close. I kinda doubt they will let AMD sit at the top of the sinlgle GPU card pile for long.[/quotemsg]

honestly, i think you're wrong about the 7970. it blows the 580 out of the water in most tests. the fact that it got 20 FPS more than the 580 on BF3 (arguably the most graphically intense game on the market atm) should be enough proof. not only will it be a bit more futureproof than the 580, but it will run at lower wattage and it could only become stronger since it was tested with beta drivers.

also, for a mouse, i would suggest the logitech G400 is amazing. it fits your hand very well and the adjustable DPI are good for any type of gaming. fast and responsive too.


Dec 22, 2011
You're probably right about the 7970. I should have added the caveat that it didn't excite me much for what I intended to play. I'm not that thrilled with AMD so I wasn't too interested to begin with. I just scanned the game benchmarks on TH and only really looked at Skyrim, which they said was CPU bottle necked anyway. I was trying to look at the review at work so I didn't even scan the non game benchmarks. I also skipped them because I'm still getting back into PC gaming and don't really understand them that well yet and their particular relevancy. Actual FPS in game matters more to me than the synthetics right now.

It is already a powerful card to be sure. However, for the only game in the benchmark I am currently interested in, Skyrim, the cards weren't really allowed to run. Yes given time, better drivers, and manufacturers tweaking the card and it should be damn nice.

That being said, I'm not an AMD guy, at this point mostly for personal preference. If I'm looking for future proofing, which I am to an extent, I would much prefer to get what I have decided on to get me by comfortably and see what NVIDIA comes out with than rush out and get the newest thing.