The PC Build Thread

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
*Updated PC Build Thread found here*
*For quicker responses click here*
Guide to PC Bulding
Cases

Choosing a case :
Picking a case reflects what you are looking for, and your personal tastes. Note that some cases might not be able to fit taller rifle coolers, like the Noctua NH-14, or a ThermalRight Silver Arrow and/or longer video cards like the 6990/GTX 580

Basic Options :


R300-R500
  • NZXT Source 210
  • Gigabyte X8
  • Cooler Master HAF 912
  • Aerocool X Warrior
  • Coolermaster Elite 430

R600-R1200
  • Cooler Master CM 690 II Advanced
  • Aerocool Cyborg X
  • Antec Eleven Hundred
  • Silverstone RV02W
  • Corsair 400R

R1300-R2400
  • Corsair Graphite 600T
  • NZXT Switch 810
  • Corsair 800D
  • Coolermaster HAF X
  • Coolermaster Storm Trooper
  • Antec LanBoy

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Processors

Current Mainstream Sockets:
Intel: LGA1155/2011
AMD: AM3/AM3+

CPU Benchmarks :
PerformanceTest Benchmarks
Anandtech Benchmarks

This should help with deciding which processor to choose, take note though that some tasks work better on one setup than another or favour one setup to another

Overclocking:

Is it safe? Mostly. Computer parts are pretty damn durable and there are a ton of safeguards in place to auto throttle down a CPU, increase fan speed, and even shut down before any harm happens.
How hot is too hot? In general it is wanted to keep temperatures under 65C using a CPU stress program, such as Intel Burn Test and Prime 95 (see utilities), but most processors will run at temperatures up to 110C before safeguards come into play/hardware failure . Idle temperatures are not that important and are often reported inaccurately. Temperature variation across cores are normal.
My CPU is not fast as others It happens. Every person is not going to get the exact same clocks from the exact same type processor.

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Motherboards
What to look for in a Motherboard


- Socket Type : Make sure the motherboard compatible with the CPU you are buying.
- Chipset : Different chipsets will be able to make use of the CPU in different ways, such as overclocking and integrated graphics
- Memory : Does it use DDR2 or DDR3? 1.5V or 1.65V? Most use 1.5V DDR3 today
- Expansion Slots : How many expansion slots are needed?
- Connectors/Features : Do you need HDMI out? USB 3.0 ports? On board digital out?
- Form-factor : Your case will have room for a certain formfactor of motherboard e.g. uATX/micro ATX, ATX, XL-ATX, HPTX
- Brand : Is there a specific band that you prefer, or not sure to buy from
- Quality : Higher end boards will also have more power regulations, use less power, and keep voltage in check more than cheaper boards
- Overclock-ability : Usually nearly equal across the board. If you want a slightly higher overclock, you can pay more for a motherboard with better power regulation
- Price : Always try to find the best bang for your buck, never buy a motherboard with features that you will never use

Points to follow when buying a motherboard

1. Determine the platform (Chipset / Socket)
2. Determine what functions you deem necessary for the motherboard to have
3. Make a shortlist of all motherboards that have your demands
4. Pick the board that has good reviews and has the best price

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GPU

When in a market for a GPU/Graphics Card there are 2 main manufacturers AMD & Nvidia, but there are many OEM's with far different versions/models of the GPU. Here are some tips how to choose the rights one.

GPU Benchmarks :
PerformanceTest Benchmark
AnandTech Benchmark

This should help with deciding which GPU to choose, take note though that some tasks work better on one setup than another or favour one setup to another

OEM Classification

Right now there are basically three classifications of cards to choose from. These classifications generally only exist in the top 4 or 5 best performers from either AMD or Nvidia. For budget type cards, there may be only a few non-reference designs if any at all. For clarity, we will be using an EVGA line of GTX 580's to compare the different models


The first is standard reference design. These are built to Nvidia’s spec with the standard design cooler on it. In the past, this was a good thing as when manufacturers deviated from reference, it was to add in sub-par capacitors and parts to make the card less expensive. Currently, the only solid reasons to buy a reference card is because you just simply can not wait for the non-reference designs to come out, or you want ease of compatibility for after market coolers and water blocks.

The current trend on reference coolers is a ‘blower’ design where the fan sucks air in from the front of the case, pushes it over the heatsink, and exits out of the back of the case. Though it tends to cause higher noise levels and a reduced cooling capacity over many non-reference cards, it has the added benefit of keeping the hot air created by your video card out of your case. This type of card can also sometime include factory overclocks applied, which to be honest, is almost always a complete waste of money. The settings are at levels that are easily achieved in thirty minutes of your own tweaking in programs like MSI Afterburner or Sapphire TriXX (see utilities)


The second class is the non-reference designs. Each third party manufacturer generally has their own proprietary cooler which requires a specific PCB (Printed Circuit Board – the silicon portion of the card) making aftermarket coolers and water blocks generally incompatible. Depending on the brand and quality of the cooler though, this is a minor drawback. Almost all of the non-reference coolers handily outperform the reference coolers.

The better coolers have two major benefits, the first being a much quieter card due to increased fan size and cooling performance. The second is increased overclocking headroom. It’s the same principle of buying a big heatsink for your CPU. More volts means more heat, and with an increased ability to dissipate heat, you can achieve higher clocks.

Some manufacturers go a step further in adding improvements like higher quality capacitors and better voltage regulation. This again leads to higher clocks. If you want to get a great performing card, overclock to higher levels, and keep the noise down in an air-cooling build, this is generally the type of card you want.


The third class of card is a heavily modified version of the base card meant entirely for enthusiasts and overclockers. We’ll call these the ‘extreme edition’ cards. The Classified GTX 580 pictured above takes the original PCB and completely throws out the reference design, keeping only the base chip and memory. Everything from the capacitors, it even accepts a third PCI-E power plug to put over 1000W through it to feed voltage levels that would otherwise brick most cards.

Needless to say, these cards have features that generally won’t be taken advantage of by the vast majority of gamers, instead aimed at the overclocking and benching crowd. If you absolutely must have the top of the line card where money is no concern, these can still outperform even the non-reference cards fairly easily even in the hands of an amateur.

Keep in mind, these classifications are generalizations. ASUS’s DCII and MSI’s Twin Frozr cooler designs are also great performers. In some cases the aftermarket coolers can perform worse than the reference design, such as the new XFX R7950 BEDD.

Points to follow when buying a GPU


1. Determine which GPU's and how many of them would be able to run games at your desired resolution
2. Make a shortlist of all the GPU's that will be able to run games at your desired resolution
3. Check performance in Crossfire/SLI in case you need to upgrade in the future
4. Pick the GPU that has good reviews and has the best price/performance ratio

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Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
*Updated PC Build Thread found here*
*For quicker responses click here*
Memory

How to choose RAM

Speed and latency for RAM (e.g. 1333 9-9-9-24 vs 1666 8-8-8-24) aren't a very a big deal. In many cases it is just 1-5% difference. 1333Mhz DDR3 is perfectly fine for most. Save your money unless a sale is on, our you want to buy cool looking RAM. Just make sure the tall RAM heatsinks don't block your CPU heatsink. DDR3 prices are currently quite low and shouldn't drop much farther. For gaming 8GB is enough but 16GB/32GBwould be the wiser option if you do a lot of multitasking or video work.

Guides for RAM

Tighter Timing vs Higher Speeds
DDR2 vs DDR3
Memory Overclocking

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PSU

Which Brand to buy from?

The most reliable and arguably the best brands to buy are :
  • Antec
  • Corsair
  • Seasonic

How much power do I need?

The easiest way to work out how much power you need is by using a PSU calculator and here is the best one that I know of PSUCalc. The current version only allows for 2-way Crossfire/SLI, but will be updated to 4-way Crossfire/SLI in future versions. Just download, install it, enter your system specs in and let it work your power consumption

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SSD's & Storage

What is an SSD?

SSD is a abbreviation for 'Solid State Drive': a 'drive' with no mechanical parts, but with a conventional disk-interface (usually SATA).
A SSD contains memory chips (flash memory) to store the data.
The biggest advantage is data is almost immediately available, without the need of moving a mechanical head to the area on the hard drive where the desired data is stored.
At this moment pc-components such as the processor, memory (ram), graphics processor and other components, perform well enough to meet the demand of the most users. If it's faster load times that you want the answer is to get a SSD. Take note though that an SSD will not increase your frames per second (fps) in games.

Terminology

- Garbage collection: Part of the functionality of the firmware of ssd's that automatically merges fairly unused memory blocks for better performance
- Under-partitioning: Leave blank space for better performance
- Wiping: OCZ method/tool used to improve performance
- Aligning: creating a partition with a size that is exactly the cluster size multiplied by a factor
- TRIM: An ATA (contoller) command from the operating system to an ssd, that can tell that a memory block on the ssd can be erased to improve write performance - It's a feature of Windows 7 but keep in mind that your SSD must support it!
- Wear leveling: Spreading write-actions on memory cells evenly over the whole ssd - this prevents wear of the flash cells increasing their lifetime
- MLC / SLC: Multi Level Cell or Single Level Cell - the latter lasts longer, is theoretically faster but more expensive, so mlc-based SSD's are now sold more, especially to consumers.

How to check if TRIM is enabled in Windows 7?

Go to the command prompt (run -> CMD) and key in "fsutil behavior query DisableDeleteNotify" if you get a 0 (zero) TRIM is working. To enable it key in "
fsutil behavior set disabledeletenotify 0"

Tweaks for your SSD

WARNING as always be careful what you change, most of these are quiet harmless but there are never guarantees. These tweaks are for SSD's with a Windows based system

Disable indexing
Description: Indexing creates and maintains a database of file attributes. This can lead to multiple small writes when creating/deleting/modifying files.

Searching for files will still work.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services - > Right-Click Windows Search -> Startup type: Disabled -> OK

Disable Defragmentation
Description: Defragmenting a hard disk's used space is only useful on mechanical disks with multi-millisecond latencies. Free-space defragmentation may be useful to SSDs, but this feature is not available in the default Windows Defragmenter.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Services and Applications -> Services - > Right-Click Disk Defragmenter -> Startup type: Disabled -> OK

Disable Write Caching (Depends on SSD)
Description: There is no cache on the SSD, so there are no benefits to write caching. There are conflicting reports on whether this gains speed or not.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Manage -> Device Manager -> Disk drives -> Right-Click STEC PATA -> Properties -> Policies Tab -> Uncheck Enable write caching -> OK

Firefox - Use memory cache instead of disk cache
Description: If you use Firefox, there's a way to write cached files to RAM instead of the hard disk. This is not only faster, but will significantly reduce writes to the SSD while using the browser.
Instructions: Open Firefox -> Type about:config into the address bar -> Enter -> double-click browser.cache.disk.enable to set the value to False -> Right-Click anywhere -> New -> Integer -> Preference Name "disk.cache.memory.capacity" -> value memory size in KB. Enter 32768 for 32MB, 65536 for 64MB, 131072 for 128MB, etc. -> restart Firefox

Free up extra drive space
Description: Eliminate writing memory to the SSD, free over 2GB of disk space. Warning - If you run out of memory the program you're using will crash.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Settings (Performance) -> Advanced Tab -> Change -> Uncheck Automatically manage -> No paging file -> Set -> OK -> Restart your computer
Alternatively, if you want to play it safer, you can set a custom size of 200MB min and max.

Disable System Restore
Description: Don't write backup copies of files when installing new programs or making system changes. Can free up between a few hundred MB to a couple GB. Warning - Although unlikely, if a driver installation corrupts your system, there won't be an automatic way to recover.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Right-Click Computer -> Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> System Protection Tab -> Configure -> Turn off system protection -> Delete -> OK

Disable Hibernate
Description: You may free up 1GB of space on the SSD if you have 1GB of memory, 2GB of space if you have 2GB memory. You will lose the hibernation feature which allows the equivalent of quick boots and shutdowns.
Instructions: Start Menu -> Type cmd -> Right-Click the cmd Icon -> Run as Administrator -> Type powercfg -h off -> Type exit

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Quotes

If you want a quote or help with a build fill out this :


  • Your Current Specs: CPU / RAM (DDR2/DDR3) / Motherboard / GPU / PSU / Case / HDD
    [*]Budget: Price Range
    [*]Main Use: Gaming/Emulation/Video Editing/HD Streaming/3D work/General Usage
    [*]Monitor Resolution: What resolution will you be playing your games at? Are you going to upgrade later? Are you buying a new monitor?
    [*]Are you going to re-use any parts?: Specify make and model
    [*]When do you need your build by? : What time frames are preferred?
    [*]Are you going to overclock? : Yes, No, Possibly

*Updated PC Build Thread found here*
*For quicker responses click here*
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juBa

Senior Member
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Nov 24, 2011
Messages
682
Awesome idea man! this will def help ppl looking to buy a new PC
 

hj2k_x

Honorary Master
Joined
Jan 22, 2006
Messages
30,810
Now all you need to do is start adding some links to quality places where we can buy the parts, and prices etc :)
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
Now all you need to do is start adding some links to quality places where we can buy the parts, and prices etc :)
Starting to do that now, hopefully I will have all the prices up and running by midnight
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
hj2k_x, sorry bud, your 1st post will need to be deleted, since I don't have any space left for the text for various prices. Is that okay with you?
 

Sapphiron

Centadel
Company Rep
Joined
Jan 29, 2004
Messages
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A suggestion

rather than large disk arrays for workstation, how about using say a 120GB Sandforce 2 SSD (like the Adata S511 or Corsair Force 3) along with 1 or 2 large disk for storage.

Editing photo's, videos, or compiling code is so much quicker when your software and project files are on an SSD. Use the large disks for storage only.
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
A suggestion

rather than large disk arrays for workstation, how about using say a 120GB Sandforce 2 SSD (like the Adata S511 or Corsair Force 3) along with 1 or 2 large disk for storage.

Editing photo's, videos, or compiling code is so much quicker when your software and project files are on an SSD. Use the large disks for storage only.
Will edit that as well, workstation without an SSD will run very slowly on drive intensive tasks.
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
Updates will follow tomorrow, waiting for mods to delete a post so that I will have enough space to enter in the text for the prices.
 

CataclysmZA

Expert Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2010
Messages
4,237
A suggestion

rather than large disk arrays for workstation, how about using say a 120GB Sandforce 2 SSD (like the Adata S511 or Corsair Force 3) along with 1 or 2 large disk for storage.

Editing photo's, videos, or compiling code is so much quicker when your software and project files are on an SSD. Use the large disks for storage only.
Its a nice idea, but like Duff said, drive-intensive tasks will suffer. I don't recommend SSD's in my NAG Buyer's Guide as System drives anymore, but rather as cache drives for the best of both worlds. Granted, you'll get a loss in certain programs, but things like Photoshop would only really show benefits in starting up, saving and exporting projects and so on, doing the same things over and over.

Mind you, an SSD system drive is awesome, but its just too expensive these days for most buyers and they'll all inevitable complain about space issues. PC's that I built and recommended to clients and small businesses had RAID of some sort in them for better performance and redundancy, and that equaled the performance benefits of the SSD for most. Not all though (some people are just too damn picky!).

Updates will follow tomorrow, waiting for mods to delete a post so that I will have enough space to enter in the text for the prices.
Why not just linky your prices, or add in general rough budgets for each part? Like if a GTX560Ti is in a Core i5 rig, buyers should use about R2300 for a decent model. I'm going to start doing that, gives people more leeway when they mention "but this one's cheaper!" and "AMD has the better price".
 
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Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
Right starting to update now, had a hectic morning, running all over the place.
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
Prices for the Intel based rigs and AMD Llano based rigs have been done. Have temporarily removed the workstation rigs. Just to check, would anyone be interested if they were added?
 

Duff-Man

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 17, 2012
Messages
564
Why not just linky your prices, or add in general rough budgets for each part? Like if a GTX560Ti is in a Core i5 rig, buyers should use about R2300 for a decent model. I'm going to start doing that, gives people more leeway when they mention "but this one's cheaper!" and "AMD has the better price".
I wanted to show the links to the parts, so that buyers could see the best prices available for various items of hardware. Sure it may take some effort to keep the prices up to date, but it's worth it for the buyers.
 
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