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Old 06-27-2012, 11:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Need some advice for a first build (REALLY EXCITED!)

Hey everyone!

So happy I found this forum!

Ok, so my current workhorse has been my Asus M50VMB1 notebook. It's a beast of a computer from 2008. I'm telling you, this thing is amazing, but sadly it's starting to get a little tired. I knew it was time to move on when it couldn't comfortably run BF3... way too laggy at the lowest settings. I'm still amazed at what I can throw at this thing and run at once, but I have been wanting a desktop for a while. It's been a while since my last desktop, a Gateway 500GR.

My friend has been telling me to do a custom build for my next computer so I think this might finally be the time.

If I wasn't going to build, the pre-built model that I like is the Gateway FX6860-UR10P. What I like most about it and want in a computer: Hot swap bays, Intel i7, multiple USB 3.0s, and good GFX (AMD Radeon HD 7770). The cost for this is about my budget limit: $1,200.

So I'm a little lost on what to look for in a build. I know I want to spend $1,200, less if possible.

The only thing I've picked out so far is the computer case, the Thermaltake Level 10 GT. When I first saw it, I hated it... but after I looked at it some more and what it can do... I knew I had to have it. I really like the hot swap bays. I'm a professional photographer and I work with some pretty massive files. Backups are beyond important and to be able to swap drives quickly and efficiently will be so valuable. The cooling looks pretty swell too.

SO that's just the case... not much of a computer. Also, if someone here feels that there is a better option, let me know! I'm open to opinions.

CPU-wise, I know I want an i7. I can't decide between the 3770K or 3820. It seems like people who like the 3770K point out that it can be OC'd and is good for gaming. The 3820 camp says that the 3820 is good for production (video and photography) and also better for future-proofing (whenever hex cores come out), but can't really be OC'd. I'm not sure I'd want or need to OC. The 3820 costs less than the 3770K at my local MC. Any thoughts or ideas?

After the CPU, I need to find a motherboard. I read that the 3820 boards cost more than the 3770K boards. Is there any truth to this? It seems like that's hard to say considering how the prices vary so much. What I want in a motherboard: as many USB 3.0s as possible (some USB 2.0s are fine, but I want to start buying 3.0), eSATA (2x would be nice, but 1 is good too), and I feel like I'd want as many PCI slots as possible (whatever the case will accommodate). I want a good motherboard that goes nicely with the case.

I don't know much about the Cooling for CPU options. I don't want water cooling, nor do I think I can afford it, but it's nice to know the case can handle it. Need some help on this one.

Graphics cards are one thing I have no opinion about. What I know is that I'd like to be able to play BF3 at (dare I say) high settings. I do a lot of photoshop (CS5), DxO Optics Pro (batch photo processing), Lightroom (batch photo processing and organization), PTGui (massive photo stitching), AVID (video editing), Pinnacle Studio (video editing) etc. I am very much into multimedia and I need a work horse. I would like HDMI output... I think that's pretty standard though. Of course VGA is a must too.

Truthfully, anything I get will be better than my current notebook, but I want to get good hardware regardless.

For the Hard drive I am thinking a SSD would be nice, but if it helps me save cost, I'm willing to sacrifice. I've actually been looking at the hybrid drives, offering a best of both worlds option. I would like at least 750GB with a maximum of 1.5TB. I recently read an article that SSD prices have finally started to go down and they will continue to go down this year.

RAM would be nice around 12GB for now. Along the lines of a mobo, I'd like to eventually be able to upgrade. Ram will be important for my programs and games.

Optical drive: I'm looking at getting a blu-ray reader/burner combo. I like the idea of being able to burn b-ray discs. I will admit that I don't know how well a b-ray burner compares to a DVD-burner at burning regular DVDs. I will continue my research unless someone knows.

Ah, Power supply needs to be something good for the mobo, gfx card, and case cooling systems. Is a 650W PS a good option?

I know I'm missing something here... OS? Windows 7 64bit, I think I'll get an OEM disc to try and save.

Here's a list of what I mentioned above:
  • CASE - Thermaltake Level 10 GT
  • CPU - ?
  • Motherboard - ?
  • Cooling for CPU - ?
  • GPU - ?
  • HDD - (SSD or hybrid. If hybrid, 750GB minmum) ?
  • RAM - (12GB minimum) ?
  • Optical Drive - (Blu-ray burner) ?
  • Power Supply - ?
  • OS - Windows 7 64bit

That's all I can think of for now. I really appreciate any advice! The CPU and motherboard have me the most confused right now...


I've been searching and shopping around. I've learned a lot a long the way. I have done most of my searching at micro center (online).
Here's what I've come up with so far (some of this may not work or be foolish, please feel free to share):

  • CASE - Thermaltake Level 10 GT

  • CPU - Intel Core i7 3820 LGA 2011 Boxed Processor

  • Motherboard - ASUS P9X79 Socket 2011 X79 ATX Intel Motherboard

  • Cooling for CPU - Cooler Master X6 Elite Universal CPU Cooler

  • GPU - STILL DON'T KNOW... I think my limit is about$150-$170 since my cost is starting to grow too fast. Is this any good? SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (100314-3L ) (For BF3 on ultra etc?)

  • HD - OCZ Technology Vertex 4 VTX4-25SAT3-128G 128GB SATA 6.0GB/s Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) with Indilinx Everest 2 Controller (I guess I'll do SSD... I'll buy a secondary 500GB drive for now, like the Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive WD5000AAKX - OEM)

  • RAM - HyperX blu 12GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Triple Channel Desktop Memory Kit (Three 4GB Memory Modules)

  • Optical Drive - LG 12X SATA Blu-ray Burner with 3D Playback

  • Power Supply - Thermaltake TR2 Series 600 Watt ATX Power Supply (Will this work???)

  • OS - Windows 7 64bit

  • Internal Card Reader - Rosewill RDCR-11003 74-in-1 USB3.0 3.5" Internal Card Reader w/USB Port

So far, my total (without tax... or shipping... or GFX OR Window OS) is almost $1,300...

I wish I could cut this down a little and still get close to what I want. I am a sucker for the "well, for $50 more you could get____". It all adds up fast... and I'm sure there are still crucial things missing from this setup.


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Old 06-28-2012, 10:28 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need some advice for a first build (REALLY EXCITED!)

Drop the X79 rig, as there is absolutely no point in having one of those unless you get either the hex for serious multi-tasking, or have a stupid amount of money to blow on 4 cards for SLI. That will save you some money right there. Also, I shall point out that the 3820 is a quad core, and there are hex cores out already but the cheapest one on that platform is 500 bucks. Those can't OC very well, but the 3820 can average around 4.6 on good cooling. Again though, absolutely no point in that, so grab a 3770k.

Why the Level 10? It's expensive and absolutely pointless. If you want it for hot swap bays then why not just get an external enclosure that you can hot swap with and actually get a decent case?
Motherboard, you don't need eSATA if you want to have a ton of USB3. eSATA is kind of going the way of the Dodo because USB3 is simply much better of an interface now that it has matured. Why so many PCI slots? Too many questions need to be answered before recommending a board, but it will be a Z77 board for the 3770k.
GPU, the 7770 and 6870 wont do maxed settings in BF3 because if I guessed it, you have a high resolution monitor for your photo work. With the money you will save not buying an X79 setup, you can buy a 7850, or 670. I highly recommend the 670.
SSD, I like what you chose there but for your secondary drive make sure it's a WD Black if you go that route.
RAM, I need to correct something here. Since you chose an X79 setup as your initial choice this RAM kit is totally wrong. The triple channel kits were meant for the X58 platform, and quad channel kits for the X79. Since we are going with the 3770k, you need a dual channel kit. You can get 16GB rather cheap compared to say a quad channel 16GB kit.
PSU, you want something bigger than 600w. 650w is more like it.

To make up for the hot swap stuff you can get something like this, which would run much better on the USB3 interface. - Mediasonic HF2-SU3S2 3.5" Black USB3.0 & eSATA 4 Bay External Enclosure

CPU: - Intel Core i7-3770K Ivy Bridge 3.5GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 4000 BX80637I73770K

Motherboard: - ASUS P8Z77-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

Cooling: - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 2011/1366/1155 and AMD FM1/AM3+


RAM: - G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9D-16GXM

PSU: - CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power Supply

Even with the lower parts that I edited my post with it still cuts your budget after adding the drives, case, and enclosure. You could always get a 2600k, but it wont exactly help your budget much.

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Old 06-28-2012, 04:58 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Need some advice for a first build (REALLY EXCITED!)

Thanks for the reply PP Mguire, you're knocking some sense into me!

I'm going to sound stubborn here, but the one thing I feel sold on, and may still be wrong, is the case. As a pro photographer, I have so many external HDDs and enclosure-less HDDs lying around. I really don't want to add more externals to a computer, I have enough already. I like the idea of having the drives inside the computer, connected directly via SATA, and easily swappable. I think the Mediasonic device you sent me is way cool, but it prevents me from keeping everything together. It seems like the cost of that is the additional cost I'd pay for the Level 10 case. I can get the Level 10 for about $220. The case is absolutely more than I need, but I like that. I like the idea of being able to keep the case for a future build/remodeling. I might get a lot of heat for saying this, but to me, too many of the computer cases look cliche. This is different. It looks like techno art. I do plan to look at it in person to really judge it. You seemed to say that the Level 10 isn't a decent case. I wouldn't say it isn't decent, I would say it might be a little much, if anything. It's really highly reviewed and, while expensive, people still feel worth the money. I'm open to see some other case options. Any alternative ideas? I need hot swap

OK so the CPU issue. You make VERY good points. I do some pretty insane multitasking because of work. I'd like a chip that can handle what I throw at it. I'd like to be able to run batch processing or video rendering and still have speed/fluidity to work on images in CS5 while they come out. Right now, I can do that, but it's pretty slow. If I can do more than that, I'll be really happy! The files I work with range from 6mb-20mb on average per image file. I'll typically work on a batch of 150-200 images at a time, but I've done close to 1000 in a single sitting... it takes hours... processing them by the computer takes longer too. I'm sure that both the 3770K and the 3820 would be fine for that, but you feel the 3770K would be better? I don't plan to OC at all. Also, the 3820 costs a lot less than the 3770K. It does seem that the boards cost more for the 2011 configuration so I don't know... in the end, it may even out. I've read that the 3820 is more future-proof if hex cores come down in price. Who knows though. If anyone says "who needs hex core" I'm pretty sure they'll eat their words in a few years. Not too long ago, people thought 1GHz was more than anyone would ever need. Look where we are now. I tend to keep things for a while. I drive a 12 year old car and have a lot of "old" photographic equipment... both of which can do circles around some of today's offerings because they were purchased to last.

The cooling fan you picked looks awesome. Wicked good price and reviews are awesome. Obviously that works for the 3770K config. only.

Motherboard. So the reason I said I want extra PCI slots is purely for future-proofing. I'd love to have at least 2 free spaces after the basics are filled. Basics would be: GFX card, sound card, wifi (unless the board has it). I do some work with video and have a couple cards I may want to put in (video input/output cards). I'd also like to get a tuner card down the road when I can justify the cost. The eSATA is really important. I'd like 1 or 2. I have a few external HDDs that don't have USB 3.0, but do have eSATA. I use a WD mybook studio edition regularly that has eSATA and I can't imagine using it with a usb 2.0 (it doesn't have 3.0).

I had a feeling that the memory I picked out was wrong... I was looking too quickly. Obviously this depends entirely on the motherboard.

GPU is sadly where I know I'll suffer. It's so important, but it's pointless without the core of the computer. I may have to cut costs on the video card for now. I really want to be between $150 and $170. I need to find a way to keep the cost down. The card you sent me is too out of reach right now. Aren't there any cards with HDMI out that can run BF3 at ultra with around 40+fps for less than $200? Obviously I can upgrade this in a year. $270 is an easy pill to swallow when it's the only thing I'm buying. This build is already over $1,300... My goal was $1,200.

Thanks again for the advice and input! I really appreciate it!!!
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