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The Ultimate 'Build-A-PC' Thread. Complete With Pricings & Recommendations (06/06/10)


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#2311 JBaz

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 01:23 AM

16GB is overkill for a gaming rig, you really don't need anything more than 4-8GB; Most PC games will only use 1-2GB of system ram with the few exceptions like Skyrim which can use up to 4GB.

And honestly... Can't wait till April 8th? Just over a week away. Honestly, I'd say grab a cheap sandy bridge chip like some crappy G530 or something for $40-50, then upgrade to Ivy Bridge the following week. I mean you are running an older budget gaming card so its not like the G530 will slow you down a lot.
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#2312 TheLongshot

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 03:11 AM

And honestly... Can't wait till April 8th? Just over a week away. Honestly, I'd say grab a cheap sandy bridge chip like some crappy G530 or something for $40-50, then upgrade to Ivy Bridge the following week. I mean you are running an older budget gaming card so its not like the G530 will slow you down a lot.


The question I have is will the price really drop all that much? Ivy Bridge sounds like it is going to be only a modest upgrade. Right now, I can get a i5-2500k w/ ASRock Z68 Extreme3 for $255 from Microcenter. I'll wait and see how much Ivy Bridge goes for, but probably not that cheap.
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#2313 dfg

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 04:23 AM

I've never set up a home network before (just connecting the modem to the PC via ethernet cable). Can anyone please recommend a setup for a small apartment that would allow 1 desktop PC to remain a wired connection, but also provide wifi access for a secondary pc and 2 smartphones? Even a link to something to read would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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#2314 TheLongshot

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 04:48 AM

I've never set up a home network before (just connecting the modem to the PC via ethernet cable). Can anyone please recommend a setup for a small apartment that would allow 1 desktop PC to remain a wired connection, but also provide wifi access for a secondary pc and 2 smartphones? Even a link to something to read would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!


Look into a wireless router. Connect your (cable, I assume) modem to the router and connect your PC to the router.

I'll let others recommend specific ones to you, since I haven't bought one since I went with Verizon. (They include their own router.)
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#2315 spoderman

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 04:53 AM

The question I have is will the price really drop all that much? Ivy Bridge sounds like it is going to be only a modest upgrade. Right now, I can get a i5-2500k w/ ASRock Z68 Extreme3 for $255 from Microcenter. I'll wait and see how much Ivy Bridge goes for, but probably not that cheap.


I really don't think you're gonna beat that microcenter combo deal. If I lived near a microcenter, I'd take that deal over waiting for Ivy Bridge, but then again I don't know how long it'd take for microcenter to have a combo deal including an Ivy Bridge CPU? That price is a steal IMO, and hard to beat.

#2316 dfg

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 04:58 AM

Look into a wireless router. Connect your (cable, I assume) modem to the router and connect your PC to the router.

I'll let others recommend specific ones to you, since I haven't bought one since I went with Verizon. (They include their own router.)


Thanks! Yes, I've got Comcast cable. I hope others might chime in with brand recommendations and such.
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#2317 JBaz

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 11:24 PM

The question I have is will the price really drop all that much? Ivy Bridge sounds like it is going to be only a modest upgrade. Right now, I can get a i5-2500k w/ ASRock Z68 Extreme3 for $255 from Microcenter. I'll wait and see how much Ivy Bridge goes for, but probably not that cheap.

Well, that piece of vital information would be vital... living next to a microcenter... Shit... Fuck Ivy Bridge at that price point then. I was assuming anyone who was looking to build right now were buying this at an online retailer at close to MSRP since most people don't live near a MC as its a very small chain store and most of their deals are B&M only.

And its not about price drops on SB chips, its about replacing the SB with IB at the exact same price points of SB with 5-15% improvement across the board. I mean if you can't wait and found a good deal that hits a good price/performance ratio, then it doesn't matter how good IB would be since it performs very similar for gaming.

However, SB chips are already an 18 month old design at this point; if you plan on doing more than just gaming, it would make sense to wait the week and see what the launch day prices would be even though intel says the MSRP are going to be the same as SB launch prices. Retailers are probably going to put a price premium but hopefully not by much. MC combo deals will still be there; they do it all the time.

So if you can wait, you'll be better set in finding a deal/chip/combo that hits your price point and performance needs. We aren't talking about waiting months... just 7 days for a chip that's 22nm, uses the first 3d transistors, and crazy potential for high overclocking (higher multiplier than SB) on a 77w TDP chip (less then that when you disable the IGP).
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#2318 TheLongshot

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:04 AM

So if you can wait, you'll be better set in finding a deal/chip/combo that hits your price point and performance needs. We aren't talking about waiting months... just 7 days for a chip that's 22nm, uses the first 3d transistors, and crazy potential for high overclocking (higher multiplier than SB) on a 77w TDP chip (less then that when you disable the IGP).


At the same time, my rig is 6 years old, running a Core2Duo 6600. The processor is the biggest thing holding this computer back, and it is showing its age.
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#2319 mattrobertsjr

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:25 AM

heres what I have so far:

case: (not sure yet which one):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119216 $79.99 after rebate its $69.99 or
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811146085 $99.99

hard drive:
http://www.amazon.co...33437098&sr=8-1 - $136.08

wireless adapter( is this one necessary, I live on first floor and the router is upstairs but on my laptop I usually lag when everyone is on) :
http://www.amazon.co...33437198&sr=1-1 - $39.39

Processor:
http://www.amazon.co...33437278&sr=8-1 - $204.99

Ram:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231546 $44.99

Dvd Drive:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827135204 - $19.99

Graphic Card:
http://www.amazon.co...33437407&sr=8-1 - $189.99

Motherboard(really don't know which one to get):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813130573 $159.99 after rebate its $129.99 or http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131773 - $132.99

Power Supply: http://www.amazon.co...33437606&sr=1-1 - $58.24

Sound Card:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102003 - $29.99

Cooler:
http://www.amazon.co...33337605&sr=8-1 - $22.99

Windows 7:http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116986 - $99.99

Fan Filter:
http://www.frozencpu...tl=g47c223s1024 - $9.99




total cost: About $1086.61

budget is around 800... I need some advice and what am I missing or is this a good gaming computer that will last me for a while.


Edited by mattrobertsjr, 03 April 2012 - 09:43 AM.


#2320 ZerotypeX

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:04 PM

heres what I have so far:

case: (not sure yet which one):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119216 $79.99 after rebate its $69.99 or
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811146085 $99.99

hard drive:
http://www.amazon.co...33437098&sr=8-1 - $136.08

wireless adapter( is this one necessary, I live on first floor and the router is upstairs but on my laptop I usually lag when everyone is on) :
http://www.amazon.co...33437198&sr=1-1 - $39.39

Processor:
http://www.amazon.co...33437278&sr=8-1 - $204.99

Ram:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231546 $44.99

Dvd Drive:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827135204 - $19.99

Graphic Card:
http://www.amazon.co...33437407&sr=8-1 - $189.99

Motherboard(really don't know which one to get):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813130573 $159.99 after rebate its $129.99 or http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131773 - $132.99

Power Supply: http://www.amazon.co...33437606&sr=1-1 - $58.24

Sound Card:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102003 - $29.99

Cooler:
http://www.amazon.co...33337605&sr=8-1 - $22.99

Windows 7:http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116986 - $99.99

Fan Filter:
http://www.frozencpu...tl=g47c223s1024 - $9.99




total cost: About $1086.61

budget is around 800... I need some advice and what am I missing or is this a good gaming computer that will last me for a while.


I dont think you need the sound card since it looks like both mobos have the 5.1 line outs, so that's $30 saved.

You might want to check newegg's combo deals. You can save a couple of dollars here and there unless those are the specific parts you want and newegg does not offer a combination of your parts
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#2321 JBaz

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 09:15 PM

At the same time, my rig is 6 years old, running a Core2Duo 6600. The processor is the biggest thing holding this computer back, and it is showing its age.

Yes, but the question is... can you dick around and play your n64 while you wait a week?

The E6600 isn't a bad chip, you can pair it with a modern gpu and play most modern games pretty ok, but yeah, its limiting graphics ability of an average of 64% in my tests compared to my current first gen i7 system. Its even worse if you have no physix dedicated card. But again, you really don't need anything more than a cheap i3 2100 series cpu for most modern games; they are mostly gpu dependent after a certain level of cpu computational power has been reached... unless you build a tri/quad sli/xfire setup in which the bottleneck would go back to the cpu.


heres what I have so far:

case: (not sure yet which one):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811119216 $79.99 after rebate its $69.99 or
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811146085 $99.99

hard drive:
http://www.amazon.co...33437098&sr=8-1 - $136.08

wireless adapter( is this one necessary, I live on first floor and the router is upstairs but on my laptop I usually lag when everyone is on) :
http://www.amazon.co...33437198&sr=1-1 - $39.39

Processor:
http://www.amazon.co...33437278&sr=8-1 - $204.99

Ram:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231546 $44.99

Dvd Drive:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16827135204 - $19.99

Graphic Card:
http://www.amazon.co...33437407&sr=8-1 - $189.99

Motherboard(really don't know which one to get):
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813130573 $159.99 after rebate its $129.99 or http://www.newegg.co...N82E16813131773 - $132.99

Power Supply: http://www.amazon.co...33437606&sr=1-1 - $58.24

Sound Card:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16829102003 - $29.99

Cooler:
http://www.amazon.co...33337605&sr=8-1 - $22.99

Windows 7:http://www.newegg.co...N82E16832116986 - $99.99

Fan Filter:
http://www.frozencpu...tl=g47c223s1024 - $9.99




total cost: About $1086.61

budget is around 800... I need some advice and what am I missing or is this a good gaming computer that will last me for a while.

You got a good idea on your build list, but like I said above, Ivy Bridge is a few days away. You'll need to figure out if you desperately need to build this now, you found good deals on cpu/mobo combo (like at microcenter or fry's) or wait a week and see what IB launch prices will actually be (Intel puts MSRP the same as current SB chips).

As for your choices, do note that the Asus P8Z68-V LE you linked above does not support SLI in case you were hoping to do SLI in the near future. It does support AMD xfire. The MSI board supports both and with the rebate, its the cheapest decent 1155 board that's actually feature rich with the usb 3.0 20 pin internal connector. Out of those two, I would pick the MSI P67A-GD55 (B3).

If you can't wait, here's an idea for a build:
Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ NCIX US; $179.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($22.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($104.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card ($159.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Cooler Master CM690 II Advanced ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS70 OEM DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $880.89
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-04 16:59 EDT-0400)

The notable changes is the cheaper Gigabyte mobo (still supports SLI/xfire) that's pretty decent, however I'd still say pick the MSI you selected above as it has a better power distro design for the cpu/vrm's; better if you plan on overclocking a bit. Still this cheap Gigabyte board will do some mild OC while being solid.

Don't really need to spend $$$ for WD black's, specially you can grab a seagate 2TB 7200 drives for cheaper. They aren't as fast, but its very relatively close and I just recommend WD black's since the Samsung F3's are much faster and they usually are cheaper (pre-flood prices that is); but good luck finding F3's. They've been crazy expensive and OOS most places. Seagate is still decent and I run four of these disks with no issues.

The other change is grabbing the Corsair 600 v2 instead of the 500 since they both are the same price and cheaper of what you found. Everything else is pretty much the same parts, just sourced at other places for cheaper price. Save you about $150-200.


And don't get a sound card, onboard is good enough and you won't notice anything different with the cheap SB cards; old chip, old tech. Shit, most mobo's has optical out, so you just do complete digital output and it really won't matter how good your DAC sound card would be... since you won't use it in that instance.

And don't bother spending $10 + Shipping for a fan filter. Waste of money. Go to home depot and make your own. You can get wire mesh for screens cheap and just cover your fan ports up. I don't do this since I got a 36 gallon air compressor and clean my pc's out every so often.
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#2322 mattrobertsjr

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 12:19 AM

for the sound part could you explain it in a easier way since I don't know what mobo and information your giving me xD. My friend help me pick theses out.

if I don't have a sound card how would I listen to music and such.

#2323 JBaz

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 01:12 AM

Pretty much 99% of today's motherboards come with onboard sound. They mostly use some form of realtek audio processor chip, but its nothing more than a simple DAC (digital to analog converter) as most of the sound processing is actually done by the CPU; of which most modern cpu's have more than enough power to process.

The downside is that since the DAC is on the motherboard, you have a lower quality sound output with a higher amount of electronic noise as you have EMI from nearby circuits. Your signal to noise ratio won't be as good if you were running a proper independent sound card that separates the audio circuits from power and other electronic noise; but it only matters if you are running a really good high end headphone/speaker setup and stuck on analog (1/8" jack) otherwise or you play your music/games really loud, even then, it will be hard to hear the difference/static. Still dependent on the source quality of the recordings and the precision of the outputting device, along with how good your hearing is since not everyone has a "normal" dBa range.

If you were outputting your sound completely digital, S/N ratio doesn't matter from your sound card and really matters of what your receiver/TV/speaker system can use (optical, digital, hdmi). The few exceptions you maybe missing is proper real-time hardware decoding for 5.1/7.1 setups like for Dolby Digital and shit like that for multimedia/raw audio processing.

#2324 TheLongshot

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 07:08 PM

Yes, but the question is... can you dick around and play your n64 while you wait a week?


I would have to wait anyways, considering my Microcenter is the wrong direction from where I currently work, and next weekend is packed.

The E6600 isn't a bad chip, you can pair it with a modern gpu and play most modern games pretty ok, but yeah, its limiting graphics ability of an average of 64% in my tests compared to my current first gen i7 system. Its even worse if you have no physix dedicated card. But again, you really don't need anything more than a cheap i3 2100 series cpu for most modern games; they are mostly gpu dependent after a certain level of cpu computational power has been reached... unless you build a tri/quad sli/xfire setup in which the bottleneck would go back to the cpu.


No, it isn't a bad chip, which is why it is going in my wife's system after I upgrade mine. (She's running my previous rig and she's having a lot of problems with it lately that is most likely software related, so might as well rebuild the whole damn thing.)

I don't really have that much of a problem with most games, tho some are not very playable on my system (GTA IV, I'm looking at you.) . No, the reason I'm looking to upgrade has to do with some of the things I do outside of the gaming world. Funny you bring up sound cards, since playing music seems to eat up more processor than it should. (JRiver Media Center seems to get worse the longer it is open.) I also do a lot of transcoding of music and video, so a faster processor would help with that.

Then there is Firefox, which seems to have finally licked the memory leak issue, only to seemingly have it take up more processing power. (It isn't uncommon to have it hang around 50% of the processor power, which combine with the 20%-30% JRiver typically runs at, it can slow things down.

But, I've lived with it for a while. Really the main motivation is that combined with my wife's computer issues, which is really struggling right now.
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#2325 JBaz

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 02:39 AM

JRiver Media Center is a shitty piece of software, if you just need to play videos and music, use VLC; shit even windows MP11 is much better. If you want a more HTPC friendly interface, then grab the open source XBMC media player; specifically designed to play on an HTPC setup and can run on almost every type of OS. They even have their own OS that's built around a custom ubuntu linux build. Even on my E2100, I have no issues surfing the web and playing music. MP3's are designed to require very minimal hardware to decode, thus why you can find mobile players the size of a coin.

As for transcoding, depending on how exactly you need this done, you can look at gpu accelerated transcoding or even server side transcoding if you have a NAS/home server box.

GTA IV will run dog slow on most systems since its a heavily CPU/RAM dependent video game. The engine was designed to run on a console (really was focused around PS3) and the PC port really isn't very good from a software standpoint. Going from 1600 to 2000 ddr3 Ram sticks has improved my frame rates significantly; the only game that really benefits from higher ram bandwidth.

#2326 kube00

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 03:11 AM

Thanks! Yes, I've got Comcast cable. I hope others might chime in with brand recommendations and such.


Wireless routers? Id say D-link/Buffalo. Others stand by Asus/Trendnet/TP-Link/Linksys

Speaking of routers I think its time I upgrade. Ive got a 20mb Cable connection. The router , a Linksys WRT54G sits in my office and I need a good wireless signal to reach the other side of the house, so I can stream stuff on the Roku, and the Kindle Fire and maybe the Wii. I get about a 3-4mb wifi connection right now and it works okay.

The signal has to pass through 2 walls and across the living. I could flash the router with Tomato and crank up the signal, or should I just buy a range extender?

I was also thinking its time to upgrade to something with N? I'd like to stay under $50 if I could.

This is what I've been looking at. Thoughts? Suggestions
TP-Link
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833704051
Trendnet
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833156258
Buffalo (Im leaning toward this one)
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833162033
Netgear
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16833122235

Thanks

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#2327 dfg

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 04:33 AM

^ Thanks for the recommendations! I actually forgot that it had been recently discussed in the Chicago local thread, and was looking at this Netgear one:

http://www.newegg.co...ROUTER WNDR3700
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#2328 JBaz

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Posted 07 April 2012 - 01:38 PM

Honestly, if you guys are willing to spend 50-100 for a good wifi, I'd look at an entry level Access Point; provided you already have a router. I just picked up a Unifi UAP for $60 after everyone on HardOCP suggested it for my needs (3 stories, thick walls). I was tempted to get a higher end version with a separated antenna, but I didn't feel the need to spend $150+ for something that would be overkill. I should be expecting it early next week so I can't wait to test it out.

My current setup was a wifi router with a 2nd wifi router turned into a AP, but both died on me two weeks ago from a storm, so I figured a commercial grade AP that has way more power output to be a better solution; while giving me a lot of network wifi management tools
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#2329 Gregalor

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 11:16 AM

I'm finally replacing my Core2 Duo E4500 / 2GB DDR2 800 RAM system that's been saddled with a shitty Micro-ATX motherboard for the past 4 years. The only thing I'm keeping is the DVD drive, the X-Fi card, and of course the mouse & keyboard. Everything else is a whole new computer, it's gonna blow the smoke off the old one. I've gotten tired of paying extra for old tech just because it's the only thing that will work/fit in this computer. I'm tired of buying games on Steam and not really knowing if they're going to work or not. Finally I can actually get something faster than a GeForce 240 card (because of space issues).

I was aiming for $1,000, which I went over slightly, but considering that I'm replacing EVERYTHING (case, PSU, the works), I'm not too disappointed. This is probably considered a mid-range or even a budget system nowadays, but consider what I'm coming from. I think I managed a pretty good bang for the buck.

I roll with horizontal HTPC cases, and I'm adamant about going full ATX so as not to create any upgrade roadblocks like last time. I found this snazzy-looking wooden case that's actually gotten good reviews:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16811204039

The case allows for two 92mm front case fans, which I'm electing to add:
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

My current PSU is actually from two computers ago. It's something like 7 or 8 years old and I have no idea what it's rated, so it's being replaced, no questions asked. In the interest of tidiness, I'm going modular for the first time:
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

I chose the Core i5 2550K because it was recommended by Tom's Hardware recently as a "best bang for the buck" processor. It lacks an integrated GPU, which is fine by me; why pay for what you're not going to use?
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Keeping that Core i5 cool is a Cooler Master Hyper TX3. I would have liked a Hyper 212 Evo but height restrictions made it impossible:
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

I decided on the Asus P8Z68-V Pro Gen 3 motherboard because it was described as a perfect pairing with the Core i5, and it still have an Ivy Bridge upgrade path if the time comes (although usually I just drive computers into the ground until it's time to replace them with new architecture):
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER


Going with high speed RAM since the motherboard supports it. Sticking with a pair of 4GB sticks for now, with room to bump it up to 16GB later if I feel like it:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820231476

It's time to experience the joys of an SSD boot drive. There's a major jump in price going past 128GB, so I'm staying there. Going with the OCZ Vertex 4 based on its performance reputation:
http://www.newegg.co...N82E16820227791

Complementing the SSD is a 2TB Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM:
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Last but certainly not least, the chosen GPU is a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 560 1GB, light years ahead of the 9500GT that I had until four months ago when I replaced it with a still-pokey GT 240:
http://www.amazon.co...m=ATVPDKIKX0DER

Throw in a few odds and ends like cable ties and a mini-HDMI adapter that the video card woefully doesn't include, and you have a $1200 gaming HTPC after rebates.

I haven't actually hit the button yet. It's past 4 in the morning, so I'm going to bed. I figure that anyone who has any objections they'd like to point out has about 12 hours to do so!

(PS - I game at 1920x1080 on a 42" TV)

#2330 JBaz

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 09:01 PM

Vegan, you do realize the new Intel i5/i7 series ivy bridge cpu's are literally coming out tomorrow right?

Here's what I selected if you can't wait 24 hours.

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ NCIX US; $179.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII S524 77.7 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($32.92 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($103.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($149.99 @ Amazon)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card ($159.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 8000 HTPC Case ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $1041.83
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-08 16:25 EDT-0400)


For case fans, don't bother with those 92mm Cooler Master fans. They are insanely loud compared to similar fan sizes and uses sleeve bearings. For the price of $10 per, I'd expect to get ball bearing or hydro dynamic bearings. And for your HTPC case, you really don't need a lot of cooling; not exactly need cooling for 1000w of removing heat. I'd go with the Antec 92mm TriCool fan for $7 each ($5 if you buy 2); pushes 38 CFM which is respectable for the size and almost 10 dBa quieter than the CM fan, plus it's double ball bearing so it'll last longer and not have any annoying noises.

For PSU, honestly the OCZ modx is only worth it if you get it on sale and $55 is kind high for such a product. Don't get me wrong, its a great product and works great; I have all the modx psu's and love them, but I spent $40 for my 700 and even cheaper prices for the 500/600 units. They go on sale all the time. Right now, the modx 600 is $45 on NCIX, while the modx 700 is $50.

I selected the Corsair 600w; even though its not modular, it uses better components and won't struggle to meet 80+ standards on higher loads even though you won't use half this wattage. For the same price, its a better product even though you have wires to deal with. The HTPC case you want isn't exactly small.

For CPU, the i5 2550k is NOT the best bang for buck processor... that still goes to the i5 2500k. It may have an IGP that you won't use, but why spend $30 MORE for something that doesn't have this feature with the exact same CPU cores? Both will OC the same and both have the same TDP.

For CPU cooler, I picked the CM GeminII since its basically the the 212 EVO on it's side. Works great, specially if height is an issue. The cheaper CM Hyper TX3 is a good alternative, but do note that it won't have as good cooling capacity as the GeminII.

As for the motherboard -- lot of options and as long as you stick with a modern 1155 board, the P67 and Z68 chipset will support Ivy Bridge if you can't wait for IB in the next few days. I picked the cheap Gigabyte D3H-B3 board since its a decent board that has a lot of features and still supports SLI/xfire setup. It doesn't have as good power distro/phase power design as the Asus board, so I'd still shop around in the $120-150 price point; but you don't need to spend $200 on a board for decent features. Shit if you don't plan on SLI, don't need to spend money on an expensive SLI board.

And for RAM, stick with any decent grade 1600 speed, cas9 or less, 1.5v or less sticks. Don't need to spend anything more than this for such a mid-range budget box. You will not notice any difference in most applications or games. We are only talking about a 1-3% increase in performance in select applications; that hits your margin of error band btw. Save 50% and stick with some cheap 8GB sets (2x4gb). I'd also recommend sticking with 1.5v instead of going with OC 1.65v ram sticks for better compatibility.

I love g.skill, but sometimes their 1.65v modules don't play nice with Asus boards without doing some troubleshooting; which usually requires you to have some more standard 1066/1333/1600 1.5v standard modules nearby to boot properly so you can address the settings manually.

As for SSD's, if this is your first intro into SSD's, don't exactly need to go balls deep and get the latest or greatest unit. Any modern SATAIII SSD will be way faster than conventional drives. I picked the Crucial M4 since its a great all around performer; specially with non-compressible files since it uses the more expensive sync NAND's; its also pretty cheap at $150 for the 128GB. You can also look at getting the cheaper Agility 3 or Pyro 120GB ($105 @ amazon) drives since those go for $1/GB or less most of the time. The cheaper asycn NAND's won't perform as good, but sequential reads/writes are plenty fast; it'll get bogged down in randoms and compression.

I'd also look around for sales on video cards. I selected the same gtx 560 for $30 cheaper; but shop around. That same GPU was on sale for $130 just last week and with the budget 600 series coming out this summer and steep competition with AMD, prices are dropping pretty fast. Not to mention, the gtx 560 ti 448 has been seen on sale under the $200 mark recently ($190 on amazon, deal is dead though).

#2331 Gregalor

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 05:38 AM

Vegan, you do realize the new Intel i5/i7 series ivy bridge cpu's are literally coming out tomorrow right?

Here's what I selected if you can't wait 24 hours.

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ NCIX US; $179.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master GeminII S524 77.7 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($32.92 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($103.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Crucial M4 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($149.99 @ Amazon)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 560 1GB Video Card ($159.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: nMEDIAPC HTPC 8000 HTPC Case ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $1041.83
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-08 16:25 EDT-0400)

For case fans, don't bother with those 92mm Cooler Master fans. They are insanely loud compared to similar fan sizes and uses sleeve bearings. For the price of $10 per, I'd expect to get ball bearing or hydro dynamic bearings. And for your HTPC case, you really don't need a lot of cooling; not exactly need cooling for 1000w of removing heat. I'd go with the Antec 92mm TriCool fan for $7 each ($5 if you buy 2); pushes 38 CFM which is respectable for the size and almost 10 dBa quieter than the CM fan, plus it's double ball bearing so it'll last longer and not have any annoying noises.

For PSU, honestly the OCZ modx is only worth it if you get it on sale and $55 is kind high for such a product. Don't get me wrong, its a great product and works great; I have all the modx psu's and love them, but I spent $40 for my 700 and even cheaper prices for the 500/600 units. They go on sale all the time. Right now, the modx 600 is $45 on NCIX, while the modx 700 is $50.

I selected the Corsair 600w; even though its not modular, it uses better components and won't struggle to meet 80+ standards on higher loads even though you won't use half this wattage. For the same price, its a better product even though you have wires to deal with. The HTPC case you want isn't exactly small.

For CPU, the i5 2550k is NOT the best bang for buck processor... that still goes to the i5 2500k. It may have an IGP that you won't use, but why spend $30 MORE for something that doesn't have this feature with the exact same CPU cores? Both will OC the same and both have the same TDP.

For CPU cooler, I picked the CM GeminII since its basically the the 212 EVO on it's side. Works great, specially if height is an issue. The cheaper CM Hyper TX3 is a good alternative, but do note that it won't have as good cooling capacity as the GeminII.

As for the motherboard -- lot of options and as long as you stick with a modern 1155 board, the P67 and Z68 chipset will support Ivy Bridge if you can't wait for IB in the next few days. I picked the cheap Gigabyte D3H-B3 board since its a decent board that has a lot of features and still supports SLI/xfire setup. It doesn't have as good power distro/phase power design as the Asus board, so I'd still shop around in the $120-150 price point; but you don't need to spend $200 on a board for decent features. Shit if you don't plan on SLI, don't need to spend money on an expensive SLI board.

And for RAM, stick with any decent grade 1600 speed, cas9 or less, 1.5v or less sticks. Don't need to spend anything more than this for such a mid-range budget box. You will not notice any difference in most applications or games. We are only talking about a 1-3% increase in performance in select applications; that hits your margin of error band btw. Save 50% and stick with some cheap 8GB sets (2x4gb). I'd also recommend sticking with 1.5v instead of going with OC 1.65v ram sticks for better compatibility.

I love g.skill, but sometimes their 1.65v modules don't play nice with Asus boards without doing some troubleshooting; which usually requires you to have some more standard 1066/1333/1600 1.5v standard modules nearby to boot properly so you can address the settings manually.

As for SSD's, if this is your first intro into SSD's, don't exactly need to go balls deep and get the latest or greatest unit. Any modern SATAIII SSD will be way faster than conventional drives. I picked the Crucial M4 since its a great all around performer; specially with non-compressible files since it uses the more expensive sync NAND's; its also pretty cheap at $150 for the 128GB. You can also look at getting the cheaper Agility 3 or Pyro 120GB ($105 @ amazon) drives since those go for $1/GB or less most of the time. The cheaper asycn NAND's won't perform as good, but sequential reads/writes are plenty fast; it'll get bogged down in randoms and compression.

I'd also look around for sales on video cards. I selected the same gtx 560 for $30 cheaper; but shop around. That same GPU was on sale for $130 just last week and with the budget 600 series coming out this summer and steep competition with AMD, prices are dropping pretty fast. Not to mention, the gtx 560 ti 448 has been seen on sale under the $200 mark recently ($190 on amazon, deal is dead though).


Thanks for looking at that.

I'm hesitant to wait for Ivy Bridge because I figure it's going to be more expensive than I want to pay for a processor. Am I wrong in that a Core i5 Ivy Bridge will cost a lot more than a Core i5 Sandy Bridge? Even $200 is more than I've ever spent on a CPU in my life. I know that this might seem budget to some people, but this is splurging for me.

Thanks for pointing out the case fans. I don't really have any frame of reference as to what's an unreasonable decibel level for how much air they're pushing. My 92mm fan choice was due to looking for PWM fans, to control the RPM automatically based on case temp. What are your thoughts on that?

I do agree on the 2500K being better than the 2550K now, though, as someone convinced me of elsewhere. It's slightly cheaper for only a clock speed hit of .1GHz, and it'll net me faster transcoding if I ever need it. You're right, after overclocking, it's not going to matter.

I'll take your advice on the GeminII. It's a bit pricier, but it'll give the CPU longer legs, has more clearance in case any RAM modules don't fit, and most importantly, it's quieter.

You probably have a point about overkilling the motherboard, but at this point I've done two days of research around the one that I picked, I think I'll just stick with it. Let's just call it future-proofing.

Someone else pointed out the RAM overkill (and unreliability) as well, so yeah, I'll be changing that.

Thanks again for looking this over. It's been a big help and I've definitely made some changes. Still, I don't think I did too bad after being completely out of the PC hardware loop for 4 years and doing a two-day crash course.

#2332 JBaz

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:57 AM

I'm hesitant to wait for Ivy Bridge because I figure it's going to be more expensive than I want to pay for a processor. Am I wrong in that a Core i5 Ivy Bridge will cost a lot more than a Core i5 Sandy Bridge? Even $200 is more than I've ever spent on a CPU in my life. I know that this might seem budget to some people, but this is splurging for me.

You are assuming a lot with this idea...

First, Ivy Bridge is completely replacing Sandy Bridge line up; first with the i5/i7 series while the i3 and G series will later come out in the Summer. They will hit the exact same price points of Sandy Bridge when they were first released 18 months ago. The i5 3750k, what would be replacing the 2500k, will be released with the MSRP of $225, but it will be up to the retailer of how they want to price it on launch. It could bloat to $240 from various retailers, just as SB chips did on launch, but this will also push retailers to dump their SB chips for cheap.

As for PWM fans, this is really only relevant for cpu fans because you need the 4th pin for the PWM function. Most motherboards only have the 4th pin for the cpu since there are temp sensors to actually use the feature; case fan's won't have this so its a useless feature. Besides, if you wanted a fan to adjust to temps in your case, you would use a fan controller; of which doesn't need PWM feature as they have their own temp sensors separated and controlled by the controller chip. Depends on what fan controller you get, so it can get a bit pricey of $25+ with this feature as opposed to simple fan controllers that are manual.

I do agree on the 2500K being better than the 2550K now, though, as someone convinced me of elsewhere. It's slightly cheaper for only a clock speed hit of .1GHz, and it'll net me faster transcoding if I ever need it. You're right, after overclocking, it's not going to matter.

100Mhz is not going to make a big difference, even with transcoding. You are still going to hit your margin of error if you see any difference at all with such a small difference in speed. It will really depend on what you are transcoding from and to, what application it is for, as well as what software as programming of the code is more important to use the processor; all about efficiency. Even then, you can do certain types of transcoding on your gpu that will be 32x faster. And it can really depend on what videos and how complex the images are.

You probably have a point about overkilling the motherboard, but at this point I've done two days of research around the one that I picked, I think I'll just stick with it. Let's just call it future-proofing.

Soo... you are willing to waste $100 on the idea that you may or may not use a feature that you will most likely never need or use in the first place? Are you expecting to add a 2nd or 3rd video card into this rig? For your budget, I'd save your money on something reasonable for your needs. Save the $100, or put it else where in your system.

I highly recommend the Asrock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 for $130. Recommended by many reviewers and a great value oriented board with lots of features; supports pcie 3.0 16x slots, SLI/xFire setups and uses quality components with a good power distro/phase design for good, stable overclocks. Known to handle stable 5Ghz.

Another board I'd recommend is the similar Asus board; the P8Z68-V LE for $130 as well. It doesn't support 3.0 pcie slots and it does lack SLI support, but it does support xFire and has a similar power distro design since Asrock is Asus; it just doesn't have a heatsink for the VRM's and caps on top. Still a good board and OC just as good, but it's also one of the cheapest modern 1155 boards with the 20pin usb 3.0 internal connector.

Honestly, if you want future proofing, you'd wait to get actual Ivy Bridge chips and the new Z75/77 chipset motherboards over the older p67/z68 chipset.

#2333 MSI Magus

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 04:51 PM

So my mother contacted me last night and asked me to help her pick out a new PC. She is in California and I am in Ohio, so I wont be building a PC or anything, but I was hoping someone here may have seen a decent deal recently.

She said she doesnt care if its a PC or a Laptop but that if its a PC she needs a monitor and she would love to get Office and a printer with it if possible. All she is really looking to use it for is my little brother to do homework on and her to work from home. So really she does not need some big beefy machine, just a basic rig for searching the net/writing papers. Her budget is $300-$400ish.

Any recommendations?

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#2334 TheLongshot

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:11 PM

Honestly, if you want future proofing, you'd wait to get actual Ivy Bridge chips and the new Z75/77 chipset motherboards over the older p67/z68 chipset.


I agree with him that if you are talking about "future proofing" (and that kinda flies in the face of your original statement that you pretty much run computers into the ground) you should be looking at the Z77 chipset. To be honest, I didn't even know that was coming until a few days ago when Rock Paper Shotgun was pimping them in their (rather weak) motherboard rundown.

BTW, I did see some benches comparing Z77 with Z68 with Sandy Bridge processors, and unlike RPS's claim, there isn't much of a speed difference at all between chipsets. It will be interesting to see how Ivy Bridge compares between chipsets.
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#2335 JBaz

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:18 PM

So my mother contacted me last night and asked me to help her pick out a new PC. She is in California and I am in Ohio, so I wont be building a PC or anything, but I was hoping someone here may have seen a decent deal recently.

She said she doesnt care if its a PC or a Laptop but that if its a PC she needs a monitor and she would love to get Office and a printer with it if possible. All she is really looking to use it for is my little brother to do homework on and her to work from home. So really she does not need some big beefy machine, just a basic rig for searching the net/writing papers. Her budget is $300-$400ish.

Any recommendations?

Get a laptop, even a decent cheapo laptop for $400 is more than powerful enough and give her the option to be mobile to do work while sitting on the couch and such. I'd keep my eye on slickdeals since you can find laptop deals almost every day.

BTW, I did see some benches comparing Z77 with Z68 with Sandy Bridge processors, and unlike RPS's claim, there isn't much of a speed difference at all between chipsets. It will be interesting to see how Ivy Bridge compares between chipsets.

In terms of performance, you really won't see much difference from the old 1155 chipsets to the new 1155 made for IB chips.

There's only two major difference:

1. PCIe 3.0 configuration now includes 8x/4x/4x dedicated graphics from the cpu; p67/z68 only allowed 8x/8x. The 3 card configured z68's use the extra 8x pcie 2.0 lanes that goes through the chipset, which is also shared among your other devices including the SATA, audio, LAN, and USB. Having SLI/xfire setup with the communications split like that can cause delay to the 2nd or 3rd card with alternate frame drawing, or in other words, really showcase the microstutter issues unless you calibrate your drivers

2. The new z75/77's will allow you to overclock the IGP core... whoohoo! useless feature! lol


Now, through all of the marketing BS from Intel; they swear that they designed the new chipsets to be better suited for SSD's and work better with power management drivers for devices on SATA. I have no idea if there is truth to this, but its notable.

Oh, and you get the ability to disable specific USB ports; a feature that finally trickled down from their server class chipsets. Worthless for most consumers, but its a nice security feature for public computers. They also add this feature for SATA and eSATA ports... in case you were worried about someone stealing your hard drive, replacing it with a fake drive with a hacked OS/spyware and steal your bases...
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#2336 Japakneez

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:17 PM

I'm upgrading from a Q6600 to a 2600k. Just started a thread in Deal Requests sub-forum for a motherboard. Looks like i'll be reading through this thread as well for some suggestions :)

http://www.cheapassg...ad.php?t=319376

Hey guys,
Microcenter happened to have the 2600k on sale today for $200. I price matched it at my local Frys. Anyone happen to have a suggestion on a motherboard and/or Ram to pair with it? Thanks!



#2337 TheLongshot

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 04:42 PM

So, given I haven't heard anything this week that would change my mind, I'll be heading over to Microcenter to do their deal. Checking online, it looks like the cheaper MBs are gone, so I'll be moving up to the ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 .

In the meantime, Newegg is doing 15% off of memory. I was already looking at the Patriot G2 Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 with a 10% off coupon and I'm glad I waited. Is 16GB overkill? Yes, but I've had bad luck upgrading memory in the last generation, and memory isn't always cheap so I might as well get what I can at a good price.

So, in summary:

ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3 : $124.99*
Intel Core i5 2500K : $179.99
Patriot G2 Series 16GB (4 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 : $76.49

* $50 discount included for bundling motherboard with processor at Microcenter.

Tax: $15.25
Total: $396.72

This doesn't include the $10 rebate on the memory. Overall, I think that's a good price to upgrade my rig. I'm keeping the hard drive, video card (Radeon 6670) case and power supply. Might eventually need to get another power supply to put the old stuff into my wife's system, since the one curently in there probably doesn't have the right connectors and power.
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#2338 JBaz

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 10:13 PM

I'd say go for it, really good price for the level of performance, quality and features; even when IB chips hit the shelves this week, they won't touch the price/performance of what you'll get at microcenter. As for ram, 16gb would be considered overkill for the average user, but since its uber cheap and they are expected to rise in price in the next 6 months, I'd say grab it while its on sale. 16gb won't be considered excessive in the next few years, specially if you do more than just simple office apps and gaming.

As for another power supply. I'd highly recommend the Corsair 430w v2 builder series when those goes on sale. I just bagged one for $17 AR two weeks ago and they were $20 AR at tigerdirect earlier in the week; might still be there. Really great quality and more than enough for a simple system.
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#2339 TheLongshot

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 07:24 PM

Just as an update, I got everything installed last night after spending most of the evening doing it. Did have a moment when Windows 7 refused to boot and remembered I needed to change the drive settings to EIDE instead of AHCI and that solved that problem. So far, it seems much snappier.

The only question I have is with memory timings. I noticed it came up as 1333 instead of 1600. Is that correct?
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#2340 FeuerFrei

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Posted 20 April 2012 - 09:36 PM

Just as an update, I got everything installed last night after spending most of the evening doing it. Did have a moment when Windows 7 refused to boot and remembered I needed to change the drive settings to EIDE instead of AHCI and that solved that problem. So far, it seems much snappier.

The only question I have is with memory timings. I noticed it came up as 1333 instead of 1600. Is that correct?


Is it 1600 Ram? If so, change the profile to XMP or you can manually set it to 1600. XMP is preferable if available. My 1600 Ram initially showed up at 1333 as well.