Designing Computer, Parts Advice?

I've designed a radass computer I'm probably going to get soon, with the following parts:

MSI nVidia 660
MSI Intel Z77 Motherboard
Intel i7 Core
2 4GIG RAM sticks
Corsair 750W Power
Coolermaster HAF 932 Case
Western Digital 2TB Hard Drive
Cooler Master Fan
LG BD reader/CD/DVD ROM Burner
ASUS 21.5 inch Monitor

The keyboard and mouse and speakers aren't something to make a big deal out of. But something I didn't list is that I'm getting Windows 7 Professional. I don't think I'll need Ultimate, but I didn't want Home.

My price point is around $1600 at this point, but I'd really like to save some money if possible. What do y'all think of my setup? Anything need improvement? Anything I can save money on? I'm pretty inexperienced when it comes to building machines.

You could probably save a bit by getting the Windows 8 upgrade rather than buying 7 if you have any old windows keys to use. I've also been told that i7 is unnecessary for gaming and an i5 will do the job just as well (but I'm still on a core2quad so I wouldn't know).

If you're only gaming, drop down to the i5 3570. The i7's only real advantages over the i5 (hyperthreading and slightly larger L3 cache) don't make any real difference in game performance. Look for the 'k' version of those CPUs if you intend to overclock, the regular versions have locked multipliers which prevents you from doing any real overclocking. You can use that extra $100 for an SSD or a better video card.

You are probably going to want to get a second hard drive, an SSD, or at the very least a faster hard drive to boot your operating system from. Caviar Green drives are slow, so you will be waiting longer for Windows to boot up and for programs to load using a green drive. The Caviar Blue and Black lines from Western Digital are a good deal faster.

If you don't intend to run multiple video cards, drop down to a 550 Watt power supply from a reputable brand like Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, or XFX. A 550 Watt will power any system with a single GPU, anything above 550 from a quality brand is really only needed for multi-GPU setups.

For the video card, I would recommend the Radeon HD 7950 over the GTX 660Ti, Nvidia's sub $400 offerings are rather unbalanced products, they perform well in certain games, such as Battlefield 3, but in other games they are crippled by their 192 bit memory bus and perform poorly if you crank the anti aliasing up past 2x. Ultimately, the 660Ti is overpriced for how it performs, costing as much as the 7950 but performing somewhere between the 7870 and 7950, in some games the 660Ti even falls behind the $250 Radeon HD 7870, especially when the AA is cranked up.

Everything else looks good. Home version of Windows is adequate for most people, the advantages Pro has is the ability to use more than 16GB of RAM, and Windows XP mode, which helps support legacy business applications. Ultimate's only real advantages are better support for multiple languages and Bitlocker Drive encryption, not really worth it for a home user.

Supernova1138:
If you're only gaming, drop down to the i5 3570. The i7's only real advantages over the i5 (hyperthreading and slightly larger L3 cache) don't make any real difference in game performance. Look for the 'k' version of those CPUs if you intend to overclock, the regular versions have locked multipliers which prevents you from doing any real overclocking. You can use that extra $100 for an SSD or a better video card.

You are probably going to want to get a second hard drive, an SSD, or at the very least a faster hard drive to boot your operating system from. Caviar Green drives are slow, so you will be waiting longer for Windows to boot up and for programs to load using a green drive. The Caviar Blue and Black lines from Western Digital are a good deal faster.

If you don't intend to run multiple video cards, drop down to a 550 Watt power supply from a reputable brand like Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, or XFX. A 550 Watt will power any system with a single GPU, anything above 550 from a quality brand is really only needed for multi-GPU setups.

For the video card, I would recommend the Radeon HD 7950 over the GTX 660Ti, Nvidia's sub $400 offerings are rather unbalanced products, they perform well in certain games, such as Battlefield 3, but in other games they are crippled by their 192 bit memory bus and perform poorly if you crank the anti aliasing up past 2x. Ultimately, the 660Ti is overpriced for how it performs, costing as much as the 7950 but performing somewhere between the 7870 and 7950, in some games the 660Ti even falls behind the $250 Radeon HD 7870, especially when the AA is cranked up.

Everything else looks good. Home version of Windows is adequate for most people, the advantages Pro has is the ability to use more than 16GB of RAM, and Windows XP mode, which helps support legacy business applications. Ultimate's only real advantages are better support for multiple languages and Bitlocker Drive encryption, not really worth it for a home user.

Wow, you really know what you're talking about. Mind if I ask you some more questions?

-That "Caviar Green" thing actually meant something? I had no idea. I always just assumed a hard drive is a hard drive. This is the fairest-price one I can find for "Black". Does that look good?

-What are "hyperthreading" and "L3 cache"? And what do they do?

-I don't really care about doing overclocking. I heard that can decrease the lifespan of your machine, and I want this thing to carry me for a long, long time. Is overclocking that much of a deal?

-I heard about the issues with the 660 Ti when it comes to AA, but I'm not sure I care about AA. And I also heard AMD was really bad at making drivers for their cards. Unstable updates and all that. Is the HD 7950 known to have any issues in that regard? Or compatibility issues with any games? If you still insist I should go 7950, which one should I get? (Overclocking isn't important to me.)

-Is it safe to go down to a 550 power supply? I figured the extra watts would give me some breathing room.

-If I did go for the i5, which of these would you recommend? I honestly can't tell them apart.

-Oh, I forgot about wireless internet cards. What should I do about one of those? (My bedroom is nowhere near the router in my house, so this is a necessity if I'm getting a desktop.)

Note: 420 posts! Yeah mon!

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Your link for the hard drive isn't working, so I can't comment on pricing, the Caviar Blacks do tend to be more expensive, the Blues offer better value if you are looking to save money.

Hyperthreading is an Intel technology that allows the CPU to push some extra instructions through while it's doing other stuff. Hyperthreading adds four virtual cores to the CPU to accomplish this, note that these virtual cores equate to 30% of a real core at best. Almost no games utilize more than 4 cores, making hyperthreading pointless for a gaming system. Battlefield 3 can use more than 4 cores in larger multiplayer maps, but the performance gain it offers is not worth the extra $100.

L3 cache refers to memory kept on the CPU to speed up retrieving data for frequently used instructions, leading to better performance. The i7 has an extra 2MB of that cache. For games, it makes no real difference in performance. The only game that benefits from the extra cache on the i7 is StarCraft 2, and even then it is only a very slight boost (2 or 3 FPS if you have a very high end GPU)

I personally have not had any issues with AMD drivers. Both Nvidia and AMD can have bad drivers from time to time. The current AMD drivers are actually quite good, and have offered some nice performance gains to certain titles. If you really want to go with Nvidia, I would say spend the extra $100 for the GTX 670, it is a more consistent performer all around. The 660Ti is just too heavily cut down for how its priced at the moment to be worthwhile. If all you care about is Battlefield 3 performance, then the 660Ti isn't bad, but its performance is highly variable based on which settings you use and which games you play, no sense in buying a card that sometimes performs worse than a card priced $50 lower.

As for AA, even at 1080p it can make a big difference in image quality. Without AA jagged edges are still quite noticeable on a 1080p screen. You don't need to crank the AA up to 8x at that resolution, but 4x provides the best balance between quality and performance.

As for brands, if you don't care about overclocking, most of them are decent. MSI, XFX and Sapphire are all good. Asus is normally a good brand, but their HD 7000 series cards have had problems, so you may want to avoid them. Even cheaper 7950s do have really good overclock potential though if you want more performance, AMD was a little too conservative with their stock clock speeds.

It is safe to go down to a 550 Watt PSU as long as it is good quality. You don't need to go beyond that if you don't want to run multiple graphics cards, and/or a large array of hard drives (say 5 or 6), while heavily overclocking your system. I believe with a 7950 and a current Intel quad core CPU, a typical system's maximum power draw would be 400 Watts at most. That leaves you with plenty of headroom if you wanted to add more hard drives or any non graphics expansion cards.

As for i5s, stick with the 3000 series i5s as they are the most current, having better memory controllers and PCI-E 3.0 support. The 3570 being the fastest, with all the lower models being the same CPU with slightly lower stock clock speed. Any of them will be viable gaming CPUs for the next few years.

Check to make sure you can even get Wifi in your room, you may have to get a repeater if you are too far from the router, or if your house has materials that interfere with the signal. You can get an internal card, or a USB stick. They both perform the same for the most part, though the USB sticks may be a little flakier. If you get an internal wireless card, make sure it is PCI-Express, the motherboard you have chosen has no PCI slots, so a PCI wireless card will not work.

Supernova1138:

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-The black hard drive is 1 TB for $100.
-The 660 doesn't seem to have problems running Crisis on 4x AA. Although the 7950 does seem to work better on most other games that site displays.
-Are PCI regular cards of great importance, or will PCI express be adequate? Is there any particular reason I should be worried if I only have PCI express?
-What's the difference between this one and this one?
-I can get Wifi in my room. My 360 (and this laptop) are both getting Wifi. I was thinking about using this but if a card would be better than I'd better go with a card.

Belated:

Supernova1138:

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-The black hard drive is 1 TB for $100.
-The 660 doesn't seem to have problems running Crisis on 4x AA. Although the 7950 does seem to work better on most other games that site displays.
-Are PCI regular cards of great importance, or will PCI express be adequate? Is there any particular reason I should be worried if I only have PCI express?
-What's the difference between this one and this one?
-I can get Wifi in my room. My 360 (and this laptop) are both getting Wifi. I was thinking about using this but if a card would be better than I'd better go with a card.

$100 for 1TB is a bit on the pricey side, though typical with the post flood hard drive prices, if you want to save some money, you can get the Blue for a bit cheaper, it is also reasonably fast.

As I said, the 660Ti is inconsistent, for some games it works okay, but in other games, it will choke if you use certain settings, in Batman Arkham City for example, if you push the AA above 2x it performs poorly. It seems to depend on how demanding the game is, if the game is very demanding in ways that doesn't tax the memory bus, that can mask the bottleneck that the narrow memory bus creates. However, in games that are less demanding overall, you hit a bottleneck if you crank the up the AA and other options that tax the memory bus and get poor minimum framerates as a result. As such, the 7950 is a better card all around for roughly the same price, with the 660Ti's only real advantage over the 7950 being slightly better performance in games that heavily favour Nvidia like Battlefield 3.

PCI and PCI-Express are entirely different standards, they are not interchangeable or interopable. A plain PCI card will not physically fit into a PCI-Express slot, and vice versa.

The difference between the 3570 and 3570k is that the 'k' version has an unlocked multiplier, which allows for overclocking. The 3570k also has better integrated graphics, but that isn't relevant on a gaming system. If you don't care about overclocking, you can save a few bucks and get the plain 3570.

USB wireless will work okay. Some USB wireless adapters aren't necessarily the most reliable though, so you may be better off getting a card if you want to ensure that you maintain connectivity at all times. As said above, it will have to be a PCI-E card.

Supernova1138:

Belated:

Supernova1138:

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-I found this one, what do you think? Also, I found this one but it costs a little bit more even though the cache is half as big. Why would it cost more? Is there something about it that makes it perform better than the 64MB cache one?

-Does the K version have overclocking already done? Or is it just available if you want to do it? Because I know I said I wouldn't, but I'd like to have the option in case I want to some time down the line. If it doesn't come that way by default, maybe the K would be better.

They both appear to be similar drives, they both have the same regular price, Newegg has just chosen to put a slightly bigger discount on the one with the 64MB cache. Go for the one with the 64MB cache, as it's a bit cheaper and should perform a bit better.

The 'k' CPUs do not come factory overclocked, that only happens on certain graphics cards. The 'k' version just has an unlocked multiplier which allows for overclocking if you want to, as well as better integrated graphics. If you aren't interested in overclocking you can save a few bucks by getting the 'non-k' version.

Supernova1138:
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Before I settle on the i5, let me just ask, do you think the i5 will cover me if I want to do media editing, such as 3D animation, flash animation, or video editing? Also, are you sure I don't need an i7 for future proofing? I heard hyperthreading is going to be big again this next gen.

Belated:

Supernova1138:
snip

Before I settle on the i5, let me just ask, do you think the i5 will cover me if I want to do media editing, such as 3D animation, flash animation, or video editing? Also, are you sure I don't need an i7 for future proofing? I heard hyperthreading is going to be big again this next gen.

Depending on which programs you use for those applications, hyperthreading can help you with those. The i5 will do those tasks fine, but the i7 will be a bit faster at it due to hyperthreading. If you do that stuff professionally, it may be worth spending the extra $100 for the i7. If it's just a hobby and you are looking to save some cash, the i5 will be fine.

As for games, there are only two games out there that benefit at all from hyperthreading. Battlefield 3 on larger multiplayer maps, and Flight Simulator X. In those games the performance gain with hyperthreading is very small, so it's not really worth spending the extra $100 for hyperthreading. Most games aren't even using 4 cores yet. Most developers don't want to put in the work to make their games heavily multithreaded, so it's unlikely that hyperthreading will be hugely relevant for gaming, even after the next generation of consoles hits.

Supernova1138:

Belated:

Supernova1138:
snip

Before I settle on the i5, let me just ask, do you think the i5 will cover me if I want to do media editing, such as 3D animation, flash animation, or video editing? Also, are you sure I don't need an i7 for future proofing? I heard hyperthreading is going to be big again this next gen.

Depending on which programs you use for those applications, hyperthreading can help you with those. The i5 will do those tasks fine, but the i7 will be a bit faster at it due to hyperthreading. If you do that stuff professionally, it may be worth spending the extra $100 for the i7. If it's just a hobby and you are looking to save some cash, the i5 will be fine.

As for games, there are only two games out there that benefit at all from hyperthreading. Battlefield 3 on larger multiplayer maps, and Flight Simulator X. In those games the performance gain with hyperthreading is very small, so it's not really worth spending the extra $100 for hyperthreading. Most games aren't even using 4 cores yet. Most developers don't want to put in the work to make their games heavily multithreaded, so it's unlikely that hyperthreading will be hugely relevant for gaming, even after the next generation of consoles hits.

This is what I ended up settling on. I know you recommended the 7950 over the 660 Ti, but I've read that the 660 Ti is better when not overclocked, and I don't plan to do any overclocking. I had a really hard time making this decision. However, I did take your advice on dropping down on the power and the core. I also dropped down on the case:

MSI nVidia 660
MSI Intel Z77 Motherboard
Intel i5 Core
2 4GIG RAM sticks
Corsair 600W Power
Coolermaster HAF 912 Case
Western Digital 1TB Blue Hard Drive
Cooler Master Fan
LG BD reader/CD/DVD ROM Burner
Wireless Card

Now what I want to ask you is:
-Will this run?
-Will the case adequately keep the computer cool?
-Is 600 really enough watts?
-Even though the case doesn't have USB 3.0, the motherboard does. Will I be able to use USB 3.0?
-Does this mouse look adequate?

That system will run fine. The HAF 912 is a decent case, so no problems there. 600 Watts is indeed enough unless you plan on getting a second 660Ti for SLI down the road.

That case doesn't have USB 3.0 ports, so if you do want to run a USB 3.0 device at USB 3.0 speeds, you will have to connect it to the USB 3.0 ports on the back of the system. Alternatively you can look for USB 3.0 add-on panels for the front of your case. There are a few of them around, they replace one of the 5.25 inch faceplates on your case, simply attach it to the front of the case, and connect the wire to the USB 3.0 header on the motherboard.

That looks like an okay basic mouse, if you are a more competitive FPS player you may want to spend more on something better, but it will get the job done.

xXSnowyXx:
You could probably save a bit by getting the Windows 8 upgrade rather than buying 7 if you have any old windows keys to use. I've also been told that i7 is unnecessary for gaming and an i5 will do the job just as well (but I'm still on a core2quad so I wouldn't know).

Don't tell people to get windows 8. Installing that is just asking for trouble.

Belated:
Now what I want to ask you is:
-Will this run?
-Will the case adequately keep the computer cool?
-Is 600 really enough watts?
-Even though the case doesn't have USB 3.0, the motherboard does. Will I be able to use USB 3.0?
-Does this mouse look adequate?

1. Yes.
2. More then enough.
3. Enough for one graphics card. If you SLI in the future I would go with 750 - 800 Watts.
4. Only USB 3 on the back. The front will be USB 2. When USB 3 is the norm going around the back WILL be a pain in the ass.
5. That mouse looks good enough.

Overclocking a graphics card is easier then you think it is. You just slide the sliders over bit and there ya go.

shameduser:
Don't tell people to get windows 8. Installing that is just asking for trouble.

Only from parrots who've never used it, my friend.

xXSnowyXx:

shameduser:
Don't tell people to get windows 8. Installing that is just asking for trouble.

Only from parrots who've never used it, my friend.

I've used it and when the first public test was put out before I read any reviews of it. It was the very epitome of shit that and OS can possibly be.

shameduser:
I've used it and when the first public test was put out before I read any reviews of it. It was the very epitome of shit that and OS can possibly be.

From what I can tell the interface then was really only suited for tablets, making you perform gestures with the mouse and such...it's more desktop friendly now.

 

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