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  1. #1

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    Default Building a gaming computer...again

    A couple years ago I made a fundamental change in my computer and gaming setup, and I've decided that I want to go back to a computer for my gaming needs. A bit of background and then my planned setup.

    So up until a couple years ago I'd always been an avid PC gamer, used the console for racing games and the like but all my 'real' gaming was done on a PC, I always preferred the more precise controls and superior graphics a PC offered.. I spent years and lots of money constantly tweaking and upgrading...and troubleshooting, lots and lots of troubleshooting. I hit a point a couple years ago where I decided I'd had enough and wanted to simplify things, so I decided to buy products better suited for my individual needs of gaming and computing.

    I bought an iMac for my computing needs (and specifically photo and media work) and bought an xbox and PS3 for my gaming 'needs'. This was a really tough decision for me because I was such an avid PC gamer and completely anti-Mac for such a long time, but I figured products that were more tailored for their purpose would serve me better, and I was half right.

    The iMac has been a great machine and has exceeded all my expectations, I've never been happier with any computer than what I've been with the Mac. It also led me down the path of Apple-tizing my setup and now I have several Macs, an Airport Extreme, several Apple TVs, iPhones, iPads, Airport Express and all the accessories tied to all that stuff. It's not cheap but I love the way everything plays together, so worth it to me.

    BUT, the Macs don't do gaming, not really. They CAN play games and the iMac even has the hardware to run games at decent quality, but that's not their purpose and they're really just not a substitute for a proper gaming rig. So enter the Xbos and PS3.

    I've played games on both systems for several years now, but before the change I'd always much preferred the vast majority of games on a PC. But as part of this change I decided to give the consoles an honest attempt for gaming. In the last two years I've purchased quite a few games on both platforms, everything from the entire Call of Duty series to Battlefield to Skyrim and of course the racing games. I'd say two years is a pretty damn honest effort to acclimate to console gaming, and it just ain't workin' for me. I have enjoyed Skyrim on the Xbox but that's honestly about the only non-racing game I've enjoyed on either console, that and Red Dead Redemption. I just CANNOT do FPS games on the console though, I feel very disconnected from the game and it doesn't work for me.

    So, I've decided to build another gaming PC, but this time I"m going to do things differently. Part of where I went wrong before was that I tried to build PCs that were all-purpose machines (general computing, media servers, photo and video editing, and of course gaming) and when you want an all-purpose machine you end up with compromises that affect the end result. This time around I"m building a dedicated gaming rig. All my other computing needs are being handled well by the Macs, so this computer is ONLY for gaming, I'm gonna install Windows, drivers, games and THAT'S IT.

    Simple is the name of the game and there will be no mechanical drives of any kind, so no hard drives and no optical drives. That's going to allow me to build out a smaller form factor gaming rig, I"m thinking a small-sih itx setup.

    Case - Bitfenix Prodigy
    It's a mini-ITX case, but a bit larger than the other options out there so I'll have more room to work with. I'll be able to install a full size video card and watercooling for the CPU in this case. If they had it in aluminum finish like the Mac Pro I'd be thrilled, but as is I'll go with black.

    Power Supply - Corsair AX750
    Nothing super fancy here. Since I've got no mechanical drive and only one video card this 750 watt PSU should be plenty to run the rig, is efficient and is small enough to fit in the case.

    Motherboard - Asus P8Z77-i Deluxe
    The Z77 chipset is the way to go on this mini build, it has excellent performance and good overclocking ability. It's almost like the chipset was built specifically for what I'm wanting to do. There are several boards out there, but two that are really geared more towards performance, the eVGA Stinger and the Asus. The Asus is cheaper and gets better reviews, and even though I"ve had excellent results with eVGA in the past I'm going with Asus here.

    CPU - Intel i5 3570K
    I was debating between the i5 and i7 and every bit of evidence I could find says that for strictly gaming, the i7 doesn't really improve on the i5. The i7 is better for media editing and such, but for gaming the i5 is on par with the i7. I'm going with the 3570K because they're readily available and unlocked for overclocking.

    Cooling - Corsair H100i in push-pull configuration
    I'll use the fans that come in the case for overall system cooling, but am going with a liquid cooling system in the H100i for the CPU. There's room in the case for the 240" radiator, so the H100i is the perfect fit. Since the case is small cooling is going to be a key factor, and seems like the H100i is good. It's a fully self contained cooling system which is a must for me, if there are better options than the H100i let me know.

    RAM - Corsair Dominator Platinum DDR3
    This is one area I could use some advice, don't really know much about memory these days.

    Graphics Card - eVGA GTX 670 Signature 2
    This is the part of the system where there's probably the most debate and discussion. The prevailing opinion seems to be that the 670 is a better value than the 680 since it can usually be clocked to near 680 speeds. The bigger argument seems to be on these cards vs the AMD 7970. It's a tough decision, but since it's so close the tie breaker for me is eVGA, I've had excellent service with them and all other things being near equal I'll go with them over another company. If anyone has a compelling argument against the 670 I'm all ears.

    Drive(s)
    This is the area where things have changed the most in the last couple years I've been out of the computer game, and where I could use some help. I need to hit up Anandtech and get my read on, but I'm probably going to start with a single 256GB drive and then when that drive reaches 70% capacity or so I'll add in a second drive. There are tons of options out there, but there seem to be a handful of chipsets, some of which are better than others and some seem to be better suited for certain things. So I've got some research to do here...

    With those parts I should be able to reach a 4.5Ghz overclock fairly easily, so that's my goal. I think that covers it. If all goes well I should end up with a very capable gaming computer that's also fairly small and portable.

    Thoughts? Feedback?
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
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  2. #2

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    Motherboard: Be aware it has only 1 PCIe slot so no SLI, unless you get a nvidia 690 (which is a dual GPU card).

    CPU: Should be fine, games are not able to take advantage of Hyper-Threading.

    Cooling: Looks good but you do put in any fans your self the fluid bearing fans are considerably quieter.

    RAM: The CAS latency is 9 on that ram, you can get dominator with a CAS latency of 7, the lower the better. Some cheaper ram is as high as 12.

    Video: That is a great card.

    Drives: I run two SSDs, one to run my OS, the other to backup that drive daily as an image using Acronis. If drive dies or OS gets messed up you can be back online very quickly. Both being SSD is not necessary but with my work I jump between various OSs and configs and saves time. You could get the 256GB SSD and a 7200rpm 1TB for backup / music storage to save space on the SSD.

    Case looks fine, not used it myself.
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  3. #3

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    Samsung Pro 840 SSD drive for OS, anything in the 2tb range for secondary.
    Shoot the jumper.....................BALLIN.............!!!! !

    Home Theater Pics in the Showcase

    http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/show...p?userid=73580

  4. #4

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    Yeah I've done SLI and Crossfire both previously and it was just never worth the trouble to me. I've even run the dual GPU cards before and had issues, single GPU is probably all I'll ever use. For the price of that 690 I could go with the new Titan, which is the fastest single GPU card by a good margin right now, but not looking to spend $1K on a video card right now.

    Do you have a link to better RAM, I'm open to any brand if it's better?
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherardp View Post
    Samsung Pro 840 SSD drive for OS, anything in the 2tb range for secondary.
    Those Samsung drives are rated quite well, but I'm still anti-Samsung so those are out. I'm not adding a mechanical drive in this computer, really for two reasons:

    1 - I'm going to pull out all the drive bays so there'd be no place to mount one
    2 - I'm not housing any data on this system other than games so don't need the space.
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  6. #6

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    Considered the AMD 8 cores? I've got the 8120 and like it quite a bit. From what I remember, its about on par with the i5's and usually can be found at a cheaper price. I picked mine up from Microcenter for like $120 and got the mobo for $30. They also had a MB free with purchase but I opted to pay for a few more features.

    I've always been more intel but the AMD fx series isn't a bad choice if the i7's are out of the picture. The stock fan is LOUD though. I ended up getting a water cooler for the CPU and have no issues with sound now.
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

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    Sounds like a good build and maybe something I would be into as I am just getting into this whole pc gaming thang for 3D mostly. Can you tell me what that kind of build would cost roughly?

  8. #8

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    I've not looked at AMD in years, will have to poke around and see if they have a competitive product in the itx size
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    Sounds like a good build and maybe something I would be into as I am just getting into this whole pc gaming thang for 3D mostly. Can you tell me what that kind of build would cost roughly?
    Depending on where I source all the parts, roughly $1500
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  10. #10

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    Its not so cool looking and not great for OC but Corsair Vengence LP 4GB is a decent DDR3 1600 that is very cheap, $43. Unless you want faster and plan to OC.

    With your setup a 750 watt power supply is really overkill. At most the video card won't even use 200 watt at full load. That leaves 550 watts for a ITX, low wattage CPU and SSD drive. Its nice to have ample power, just something to consider.

    The Intel 520 is a nice SSD:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820167086
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  11. #11

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    I've not overclocked on this new platform, but back in the day you had to OC the proc and ram together, so assuming that's the same and I want to OC the cpu I'll need ram that can roll with the OC. Like I said though, I'm not sure how it works on Z77.

    With the power supply, I've picked a decent unit but I figure at best I'm going to end up with 600 of that 750 watts that's usable (~80% efficiency), and then only a portion of that gets routed to the PCIe rails, so just wanted to make sure I ended up with enough juice for the GPU. The video card actually pulls over 300 watts at full load according to anandtech and I plan to OC on top of that so 'd rather have more. Plus it leaves me headroom to upgrade the video card to the Titan when it comes down to a reasonable price.

    I've been looking at that Intel drive, I've had good luck with their SSDs before so think I'm gonna go that route again with the 520
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
    27" iMac w/Amarra, AudioQuest Dragonfly 1.2, Focal XS Book, Schiit Valhalla, Cypher Labs Theorem 720, Philips Fidelio X1, Sennheiser HD600, HiFiMan HE-500, B&W P7, LG 47LM7600, Sony PS3, Apple TV

  12. #12

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    i wouldn't bother with the AMD FX.... if you look at all, the 8350 is really the only choice right now as it does game decently, but the I5 will still be a better choice, especially if you even do just a mild overclock. plus, the FX 83xx chips are 125W and if overclocked are just power hogs, and difficult to cool.
    i would stay on target in your current direction... and this coming from a guy who hasn't had an Intel rig since Pentium 4 days...
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  13. #13

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    I added everything mentioned in the thread except the water cooling system and so far its at $1423 :eek Would I really need to go that high for 1080p gaming on my 3D pj ? What would be the cost for a system like this that was already put together... significantly more ?

    I dont mean to thread jack but this is all very interesting and no one cares about me so they dont respond to my questions in the help thread I posted
    Last edited by polkfarmboy; 03-04-2013 at 09:34 PM.

  14. #14

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    PFB...PM me. Again, I do this not only as a hobby but also as a living. Not looking to make any money off of you but I think if we put our heads together, I can get you down the path you want to go.

    I agree with Steve. AMD is slowly but inevitably losing the battle to Intel. It's unfortunate but true.

    Your PSU will be fine. Better to have too much power and not need it than not enough power. Plus it gives you an upgrade path.

    Most RAM these days is VERY underrated. You COULD pay 3 to 4 times as much on 2133 RAM or you can OC some 1600 to 1850 or 1900 and never see a difference outside of memory specific benchmarks. In fact, I am currently running the RAM Kelly suggested at 1850 24/7 without issue. Needed a lower profile RAM with the CM Hyper 212+ with a pair of Scythe fans.

    As long as you stick with the Intel, Crucial or Samsung for an SSD, you will be fine. I was an OCZ guy from day one and never had an issue through ~2 dozen Vertexes from the originals to 3s, about 10 Revo Drives and several Agility series. My first Vertex 4 was a DOA, the replacement drive lasted 7 days before it died and then its replacement lasted 3.5 days. I have lost faith in OCZ's QC department these days.
    The 520 is a good solid choice.

    As for Titan...you're going to wait. Titan is a serious ball kick to AMD and Nvidia knows it. They know people will buy it at their current price point and until AMD can come up with something that can catch up to it, Titan's price will hold tight. It is already rumored that AMD's next "generation" is nothing more than a die shrink and not new tech.

    Kelly, there are games that utilize multi-threading...quite a few actually. But most can get by with 1 to 2 cores with the "average" GPU. Any game that can address multi core CPUs can address hyper-threading since this is merely virtual cores.
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    funny thing is... i dropped my FX-6100 and am back to a 1090T overclocked to 4.1 ghz with 1600 7-7-7-24 OCZ Platinums (from the old days of OCZ... 1st gen DDR3). feels faster, benches faster, is faster than my FX at 4.55 /2000 mhz CAS9....

    next rig will be Intel.

    i have used Corsair SSDs and currently have two Mushkins installed. no complaints with those, and their customer service is difficult to beat.
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  16. #16

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    Two gaming rig threads now...

    I will say, Assimilated, that you arrived very close to where I am now with my current gaming rig:

    Asus P8Z77-M Pro (Micro ATX opposed to ITX)
    i5 3570K
    cooled by a low-profile Scythe Big Shuriken 2
    reused my previous power supply, Hiper 880W
    evga GTX 660
    Sound Blaster X-Fi Fatal1ty PCIe gaming sound card (for EAX)
    Vista View Saber DA-1N1-E ClearQAM tuner card
    reused my previous hard drives, 2x desktop drives in RAID 0 for system partition, 2x 2.5" notebook drives in RAID 1 for %system%\Users
    Plus an added Sandisk Readycache 32GB SSD for caching for the entire system (see the other gaming rig thread for my thoughts here)

    All shoved in a Silverstone small form factor SG04-FH.

    Yeah, that's 2 notebook drives, 2 desktop drives and an SSD, along with a full-size PSU and GPU all in an SFF case. I should take pictures--it's pretty insane.

    Anyway. Thoughts on your build...

    I really like the design and layout of the case--except that it's essentially an open air box. Silence has always been a top priority to me when building a PC, even a gaming PC. The most basic concept when building a silent case is to make sure there are no holes pointed in your general direction. That means no exposed front vent, side vent or top vent.

    The Silverstone case I have now has a front door blocking the front intake, which I have lined with neoprene foam to prevent reflection, and vents to the rear. No top vent, no side vent. Well, there was a side vent which could optionally be used to allow the PSU to intake from the side, but I don't have it set up that way, so it's blocked by the PSU.

    Anyway. If you want your PC to be quiet, might reconsider the case/form factor. I'm not sure if you'll find anything like that in Mini-ITX. I think it's pretty clever how the Bitfenix uses a standard PSU with a horizontally mounted mobo... I really do like the layout, just don't like all the holes. If they had eliminated the side vent and put a door on the front, I would like it much more. Maybe even more than my current case.

    But if you do decide to go Micro-ATX/SFF instead, I would actually steer you away from the Silverstone SG-04FH. It works now that I have it all set up, but I seriously have never had as difficult a time of building a PC as I did with this case. The main problem is the placement of the PSU, which is directly over the CPU. That's why I had to use a low-profile cooler, which is blowing into the PSU, which is venting out the rear. It's a pretty clever setup and it works well, but holy crap was it a royal pain in the ass to set up. The amount free-air space in this machine is what I would consider to be the lowest possible for a gaming rig, so the biggest problem was getting all the various cables routed, as there was no space behind the mobo at all for that. Nearly every single cable that is in my PC had to be manually shortened. I think the only ones I didn't shorten were the SATA cables. All the PSU cables, fan cables, USB cables, case cables... All shortened. As a result this is the first PC I have built that involved a great deal of soldering.

    On to the mobo/cpu/RAM. Since we're both basically using the same thing, good choices. ;) However, the P8Z77 board is notoriously picky about what RAM you put in it, and in what configuration! I absolutely would not use anything other than the RAM in the ASUS Qualified Vendor List:

    http://usa.asus.com/Motherboards/Int...7I_DELUXE/#MSL

    I haven't looked to see if the RAM you picked out is on that list or not. But basically, for RAM, look through the list and find a RAM configuration you like, and buy exactly that. Do not stray from the list! I have largely ignored QVLs in the past, but not this time. If you look for negative reviews on the P8Z77, you'll notice that many of them are from people who cannot get theirs to boot--because they used RAM that was not on the QVL.

    Liquid cooling IMO on an Ivy Bridge CPU is a waste of money unless you are just wanting to see how far you can OC it (also a waste of time, IMO). You're still going to have the noise of the pump and the fans, so you're not gaining anything there. But with a 22nm 77w TDP CPU... It's just not necessary. You've got plenty of room for a full-sized cooler in that Bitfenix case. If it were me, I'd take advantage of that and throw a passive heatpipe/fins tower on there, something like a Prolimatech Megahalems. Could probably still overclock the heck out of it with just that.

    Graphics card is fine as long as you stick with your current case. The one thing I looked for when choosing a GPU for my current case was a cooling system that vented out the rear. In an open-air case like yours that's not terribly important, but if you do change your mind and go with a quieter layout (with less vents) you'll want it to vent out the rear, essentially acting as another case fan, instead of just stirring the air around the card. The eVGA GTX 670 Signature 2 may look like it vents out the rear, but if you view closeup images of it you'll see that the shroud is not an air duct--it's basically just there for looks. Again, not an issue with your Bitfenix case--but it will be noisy.

    Anyway I hope some of this has given you some things to think about, even if you don't agree with them. Many ways to skin the cat!

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    Thanks for your thorough response Syndil, good points in there. At the very least you helped me avoid a mistake on the RAM, and gave me a few other things to think about. I"ve also never worried about the QVL lists for RAM and have always had very good luck with anything I threw into an Asus board, good to know that this one is different and I need to pay attention to that.

    When I decided to build this gaming rig I had a few things in mind. Since it would ONLY be used for gaming that meant two things right off:

    - I don't need or want anything in the machine that isn't directly tied to increasing game performance, so if it doesn't increase performance I don't want it in my rig. That means no mechanical hard drives (don't need one of those for gaming as my games will fit on a decent size ssd), no RAID (because there isn't data on this machine to back up, I'll probably have an external drive that I image to occasionally), no optical drive (all my games are on steam, I'll have an external drive on hand should I ever need one, but that would be extremely rare if ever), and finally no extra software (no Adobe or Office, just Windows and games and that's it)
    - Noise isn't a factor, mostly. The machine is going to be turned off most of the time, I'll only turn it on when gaming, and is in my office so noise isn't really going to be a factor as long it's not jet engine loud. In my experience there's always a juggling act between noise, temps, and performance. Water cooling has mostly resolved the issues, but outside of that you typically have to compromise on one of the three factors. Well I want ultimate performance, and want to keep things as cool as possible in order to prolong the life of my components, so I'm compromising a little on noise

    I also don't intend on this being a mid-level gaming rig, I don't really want to half-ass this. If I'm not happy with the end result, I don't want that to be because I cut corners. The two 'exceptions' that I'm making to this rule are SLI (I've never had a great experience with SLI and don't want to mess with it) and full on water cooling (because I'm scared and don't want the hassle). Other than those two, I want this to be a high end gaming rig that will play anything out there on max settings.

    To that end I'd originally planned on building out a full ATX style case, and then stumbled across a couple itx builds in this Prodigy case. Given what I'm willing to give up in terms of mechanical drives, RAID, and SLI it appears that I can get the exact same performance out of this itx build that I could out of a full tower case, so that's what swayed me in this direction even though it'll cost me a little more to do it.

    In the spirit of building a high end rig though, I plan on overclocking, that's a must have. The Asus I've chosen has a separate card just for PWM and apparently overclocks like a champ, so that's a huge plus. Overclocking may not be necessary, but I want to do it on both the CPU and GPU, as alot of data I've seen suggests that it makes a difference. I've used those giant coolers in the past and they've worked well but they're a pain to install and have almost always been the single point of most frustration for me in computer builds. With the H100i I get something that's easier to work with, has some of the advantage of water cooling, and really none of the typical hassle that comes with setting up a water cooling system since it's self contained. It's a bit of a compromise over a true water cooling setup, but to your point the Ivy Bridge isn't that bad to begin with so I think it's perfect for me.

    Somehow I missed looking at the mATX option. I need to review that options and go through the same process I did with the itx (research cases, motherboards, etc). I"m not sure which I'll end up with, but at a minimum I"ve got more research to do. I can tell you that I don't want exert the same amount of effort into mine as you did yours, you lost me at soldering. I want something that essentially just bolts together. Again, for me noise isn't an issue (as long as it's within reason), performance and temps are priority in this rig though, so doesn't sound like your setup is exactly what I'm looking for. I'm certainly not questioning the performance of your system, but unless you've found a way to bypass the laws of thermodynamics I don't think you'll have the overclock and temps I want in that setup, and if you have I'd unlikely be able to recreate that.

    So while your particular setup may not be for me, your suggestion of mATX may indeed change my setup.

    Your point on the video card is a good one, I'd just assumed the eVGA I'm looking at was a blower design but apparently not. It may still work for what I want to do, but I'd rather have a blower design if possible so I'm off to research more options.

    Thanks again for taking the time to write up such a detailed response, definitely a big help.
    Main HT
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    I just peeked at the QVL for the ITX version and noticed it is much, much shorter than that of the mATX version, so that might be enough to sway you there. Basically it looks like the ITX version only supports a maximum of 2 DIMMs (despite 4 slots) in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB configurations, with the Kingston KVR1066D3N7/4G x2 the only 8GB choice. 8GB is more than enough for a gaming rig, so maybe not a deal breaker, but then again it doesn't seem to mesh well with your no-compromise approach.

    I'd at least want an extra PCIe slot for a gaming sound card. If you play any games that use EAX, you'll need a Sound Blaster card to hear the EAX.

    BTW the quality of 3D sound has gone sharply downhill since Creative Labs killed off Aureal, but that's another topic. Aureal's A3D 2.0 is unmatched, even today. Creative Labs acquired Aureal and with it the rights to A3D, but they have done nothing with it, despite it being far superior to EAX or anything else. If you want a demo, check out http://vimeo.com/3843200 . While you're watching it, keep in mind that the sound is coming from only your front stereo speakers.

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    Actually the motherboard only has 2 RAM slots, so that's all I'd have anyway. My 'no-compromise' approach only applies to the extent that gaming performance is impacted. Everything I've been able to find online indicates that there's zero performance gain when gaming in going from 8GB to 16GB, I don't have personal experience here so that's all I have to go on. So I was really thinking only 8 anyway originally, now that seems to be more the case given the QVL for my board.

    Your point on an extra slot for the sound card is a good one. I use a USB headset for gaming that I really like and figured that would bypass the sound card issue altogether, but that's something else I need to consider, I'd like to have a good sound card for when I game without my headset. Maybe there's a decent USB option?

    So yeah, definitely need to look further into mATX, see what my options are for cases and motherboards.
    Main HT
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    I had not considered a USB Sound Blaster. Actually I just looked over at their site and they have two new series, the Recon3D series and the Z-Series, but I can't find a definitive comparison of them all. Anyway, the newest Z-series does not offer a USB verison, and the Recon3D USB device only has a single output: 3.5mm stereo. No optical digital or multi-channel out. It's meant for headphones only, apparently.

    So really your only option would be an X-Fi Surround 5.1 Pro, but from what I am reading in various forums, it seems X-Fi is the best choice for gaming anyway. The consensus seems to be that the newer Recon3D series is actually a step down from X-Fi with several important features removed, including EAX support, which is the entire point of getting a Sound Blaster for gaming in the first place. The Z-series is just a tarted up version (higher SNR) of the Recon3D, minus THX branding. The consensus there seems to be that the Z-series, which was released very shortly after the Recon3D series, was a result of Creative Labs no longer wanting to pay for THX certification and not really a new generation of hardware.

    Regarding RAM, gobs of RAM is not crucial to a gaming rig. 4GB would be adequate, 8GB more than adequate, and anything over that would never even hope to be utilized. RAM really only has an impact on the performance of a machine when there is not enough. It's a huge performance increase going from not enough RAM and having to use a disk-based page file to having enough RAM, but once you reach that point, adding more RAM beyond that has zero benefit. Which is kind of why I roll my eyes when I hear about people building rigs with 12GB or 16GB or more RAM. Unless you have a specific piece of software that calls for that much RAM (i.e., virtualization software), it's pointless. I've got 8GB in mine and have never gone over 50% utilization. I've gotten close enough to where I want the extra buffer that 8GB provides over 4, but in all likelihood I'll probably never actually need it. But hey, RAM is cheap.

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    Wow, thanks for doing my homework for me on the sound card, that X-Fi Pro looks like exactly what I'd need. I used the X-Fi series before when I was a PC guy and always had great results wit them. I ended p with better 2 channel music performance out of the Xonar series but always kep coming back to the X-Fi because they were more stable and better for games and eventually went the way of a USB DAC for music. So it sounds like the Pro is right up my alley, and inexpensive as well.

    I did some looking around at a MicroATX option last night and the Silverstone SG09 looks like it might be a nice option, doing research on that now.
    Main HT
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    Just curious (haven't done much research), but aren't most of these newer motherboards capable of passing audio over the HDMI output? Aren't most of the new games done with multichannel PCM or Dolby Digital? Is an EAX sound card really needed for modern gaming?

    Seems that for the cost of a sound card, you could just get a basic home theater receiver (especially used) to do the decoding, which I'm sure would totally blow away any sound card and give you more power as well. Even if they weren't in Multichannel PCM, or DD, I would think PLIIx would do just as good a job of surround as the outdated EAX.

    But like I said, I haven't done any research.

    The only reason I'm still using a sound card is for recording vinyl and its not a gaming card, its a pro audio card (Delta 66).

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    Has anyone checked out the new drives from LSI?

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    So I'm ealning more and more towards a MicroATX setup in the Silverstone SG09 case. It doesn't look like I can do water cooling in that case which is the one drawback that I'm having a tough time getting over. But I like the idea of having a better selection of motherboards and an extra PCI slot...
    Main HT
    Magnepan 1.6QR fronts, POlk R15 surrounds, Pioneer SC-25, Parasound Halo A23, Oppo BDP-105, Panasonic TC-P60ZT60, Sony PS3, Apple TV

    Bedroom System
    Polk Blackstone TL3, Polk PSWi225 Wireless Sub, HK 3490 Integrated, Oppo BDP-103, Sharp Aquos 32" TV, Apple TV

    Office Rig
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    Quote Originally Posted by Polkie2009 View Post
    Has anyone checked out the new drives from LSI?
    LSI makes consumer drives? I thought they were the parent company for Sandforce, ie: they make the control chips (and a bunch of enterprise products).

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    Quote Originally Posted by billbillw View Post
    Just curious (haven't done much research), but aren't most of these newer motherboards capable of passing audio over the HDMI output? Aren't most of the new games done with multichannel PCM or Dolby Digital? Is an EAX sound card really needed for modern gaming?
    This is a complicated topic, actually. In the days of XP, before Vista, games were coded for a specific surround sound API, the most common one being Creative Labs' EAX. And the only way you could hear games that utilized EAX was of course by using a sound card from Creative Labs. No other sound cards could do EAX. There used to be a competing API (that was better IMO) from Aureal, but no need to be concerned with that now.

    When the new, current generation of Windows OS came out, starting with Vista, MS changed DirectSound so that vendor-specific property-set extensions were no longer possible. In other words, they disabled the possibility of an API being tied to a specific card. This was the death of EAX (and any other competing API, but the rest were dead before then anyway).

    However, there were/are still a lot of games people play today that were designed for EAX. TF2 is probably the most-played game on the PC today, and it can take advantage of EAX. But in order to do so, you still need a Sound Blaster card, along with an app Creative Labs provides called ALChemy, which translates EAX calls to OpenAL calls on the fly.

    So if you don't play any games that utilize EAX, then there's really no need for a Sound Blaster card, but if you have a game that was programmed for EAX, just using multi-channel PCM or one of the other options will not get you the full 3d sound effects that you would experience with EAX.

    Personally I am very disappointed with the direction things have gone with 3D sound, starting with the death of Aureal's A3D, and then the death of 3d sound APIs in general. Two giant steps backwards, IMO, but MS is stacking the deck in their favor, as always. It's their OS, after all. If you want to see what 3D surround sound could and should have truly been like, build a Windows 9x machine with an Aureal Vortex 2 PCI sound card, and load up the original Half-Life or Counter Strike series on it (they supported A3D). Using this setup, I was frequently banned from servers for hacking, because I was able to pinpoint exactly where people were just from the audio. People could not understand how I was able to swing my crosshair directly onto a person so quickly without some sort of cheat being involved. That level of spatial recognition just does not exist today in games. It's very saddening to me that the pinnacle of 3D surround sound for games was reached in the mid-90s, and we've been going downhill since then. Aureal still has a strong following of die-hard fans (like me) regardless.

    If you want to know WTF I'm talking about with A3D, check out this page: http://toni.org/a3d/

    RT-12, CS350-LS, PSW-300, Infinity Overture 1, Monoprice RC-65i
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    Quote Originally Posted by AsSiMiLaTeD View Post
    So I'm ealning more and more towards a MicroATX setup in the Silverstone SG09 case.
    Interesting design, with the PSU at the front of the case. Haven't seen that before.

    Since you're not as concerned about noise as I was, check out the Silverstone Fortress Series FT03. I was seriously considering going that route myself because it's such a cool design, but the big gaping hole at the top nixed it for me.

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    I would say you should consider the ASUS MAXIMUS V GENE.Its a matx and has Great reviews
    You will need to get QVL memory.
    I started a new build a few days ago and guess what.The memory I got (GSkill ARES)would not work.NO POST.So I RMAed it and have a set of GSkill Sniper on the way which is on the QVL list..Fingers crossed.Oh I got the asus P8Z77-V board.I now regret that I did not go with the GENE.I may try to get my money back for the P8 and order the gene.Anyway my build consist of the following
    P8Z77-V
    i7 3770k
    Gskill sniper 8 gig kit
    Noctua DH-14 cpu cooler
    EVGA GTX 680
    VelociRaptor 150
    Xfi fatal1ty gamer
    NZXT M59 case
    I would go with the Maximus V Formula Thunder FX if it would fit and didnt cost so much.It even comes with a DAC.
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  29. #29

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    SDA-2BTL with custom IC
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    Theta Data Basic Transport--Camelot Arthur DAC--Camelot Dragon Pro2 MK III
    Harman Kardon T-55c TT
    DH Labs Q-10 Signature Speaker Cables With Furez silver plated copper bananas
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver Reference AES/EBU
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver i2s digital cable
    4 Furutech FP-314Ag with FI-11cu Plugs/FI-11AG IECs--- Power Cords
    DH LABS REVELATIONS ICs-amps
    Revelation Audio Labs Paradise cryo-silver ICs-Source to pre

  30. #30

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    Default Gight on I still hace my vortex card.And half life.

    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    This is a complicated topic, actually. In the days of XP, before Vista, games were coded for a specific surround sound API, the most common one being Creative Labs' EAX. And the only way you could hear games that utilized EAX was of course by using a sound card from Creative Labs. No other sound cards could do EAX. There used to be a competing API (that was better IMO) from Aureal, but no need to be concerned with that now.

    When the new, current generation of Windows OS came out, starting with Vista, MS changed DirectSound so that vendor-specific property-set extensions were no longer possible. In other words, they disabled the possibility of an API being tied to a specific card. This was the death of EAX (and any other competing API, but the rest were dead before then anyway).

    However, there were/are still a lot of games people play today that were designed for EAX. TF2 is probably the most-played game on the PC today, and it can take advantage of EAX. But in order to do so, you still need a Sound Blaster card, along with an app Creative Labs provides called ALChemy, which translates EAX calls to OpenAL calls on the fly.

    So if you don't play any games that utilize EAX, then there's really no need for a Sound Blaster card, but if you have a game that was programmed for EAX, just using multi-channel PCM or one of the other options will not get you the full 3d sound effects that you would experience with EAX.

    Personally I am very disappointed with the direction things have gone with 3D sound, starting with the death of Aureal's A3D, and then the death of 3d sound APIs in general. Two giant steps backwards, IMO, but MS is stacking the deck in their favor, as always. It's their OS, after all. If you want to see what 3D surround sound could and should have truly been like, build a Windows 9x machine with an Aureal Vortex 2 PCI sound card, and load up the original Half-Life or Counter Strike series on it (they supported A3D). Using this setup, I was frequently banned from servers for hacking, because I was able to pinpoint exactly where people were just from the audio. People could not understand how I was able to swing my crosshair directly onto a person so quickly without some sort of cheat being involved. That level of spatial recognition just does not exist today in games. It's very saddening to me that the pinnacle of 3D surround sound for games was reached in the mid-90s, and we've been going downhill since then. Aureal still has a strong following of die-hard fans (like me) regardless.

    If you want to know WTF I'm talking about with A3D, check out this page: http://toni.org/a3d/
    I still need to get another copy of win 98se so I can enjoy the A3D in half life.Nothing compares,,,even today
    SDA-2BTL with custom IC
    Adcom 565 monoblocks--Monarchy Audio M-10 preamp
    Theta Data Basic Transport--Camelot Arthur DAC--Camelot Dragon Pro2 MK III
    Harman Kardon T-55c TT
    DH Labs Q-10 Signature Speaker Cables With Furez silver plated copper bananas
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver Reference AES/EBU
    Prophecy Cryo-Silver i2s digital cable
    4 Furutech FP-314Ag with FI-11cu Plugs/FI-11AG IECs--- Power Cords
    DH LABS REVELATIONS ICs-amps
    Revelation Audio Labs Paradise cryo-silver ICs-Source to pre

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