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Custom B - Gregg's new rig
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geggis
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May 26, 2011 - 7:43 pm
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Over twelve years PC gaming and I've never bought (or built) myself a new computer. I've had three in my lifetime: the first two were bought by my parents (one for Lew and myself when we were at school, and one for me later on when I went to uni), the third is my current machine and formerly Lew's which I bought as a temporary measure (it's getting close to eight years old now and sounds something like this).

It's been nearly two years now since me and my girlfriend bought our house and nearly every penny has gone into renovating it so obviously I've had to bite the bullet and wait till our finances would allow for such necessities luxuries. The wait is finally over and after spending a few weeks getting up to spec and researching each component I think I'm ready to take the plunge, order my parts and put them together. Or at least try to.

Here's the spec:

Case: Fractal Design Define R3 (very purdy)

Mobo: Asus P8P67 Rev3

RAM: 4GB (2x2GB) Corsair XMS3 Classic

CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K Unlocked, Sandy Bridge, Quad Core, 3.3GHz

CPU Cooler: Scythe Mugen 2

GPU: 1GB MSI GTX 560 Ti Twin Frozr II/OC

PSU: 650W Antec TruePower New, Modular, 80Plus Bronze

Storage: 1TB Samsung Spinpoint F3 7200rpm

[Image Can Not Be Found]
Scout
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May 26, 2011 - 8:42 pm
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Nice system, Greg. Bet you'll be pretty happy with it. It looks pretty bullet proof to me. Well balanced and hits the sweet spot cost-wise. And you'll be able to upgrade as you go from now on.

The Fractal Design case is great looking. Nice choice.

The one thing I did see was that on NewEgg a lot of people had to return that model MSI 560 GPU because it crapped out on them within the first 30 days.  (All the more reason to run this thing day and night for the first 30 days just to make sure. "Sorry honey…I need to push this thing hard." [Image Can Not Be Found])

Can't wait to hear back on how well it performs.

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geggis
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May 27, 2011 - 8:18 am
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Yeah I've read a lot worse stuff regarding the Asus motherboard on Newegg. I've been looking at the Asrock P67 Extreme 4 (or Pro3?) as an alternative but the problem is that everyone (including the IT specialist next door to where I work) says Asus is a better, more reliable brand than Asrock but the customer reviews on Newegg say otherwise. What do you do? At the moment the deciding factor for the Asus is that it's £20 cheaper, much more readily available, has received numerous plaudits and has hitherto a fine reputation.

And now it seems the same goes for the MSI GTX 560 Ti which has been getting solid reviews and recommendations across the board. I can only guess that these issues are to do with both the card and mobo being very popular and by extension increasing the number of the pissed off vocal minority. I dunno. I sure as hell hope so.

The Scythe Mugen 2 is a huge CPU cooler that is apparently one of the best heat sink fan coolers for the money, balancing price, performance and quietness (my sort of balance). If I ever get into overclocking, an extra fan can be fitted for a pull/push configuration which apparently delivers incredible quiet cooling. I was told by the IT guy next door that I don't need to buy a new CPU cooler because the stock Intel fan should be quiet enough. If I get my computer all built and find that the Intel stock fan is too noisy I've got to order the Mugen 2, take the computer apart, fit it and put the whole thing back together again. I'd sooner sink a modest £30-40 on a cooler that I'm 99.9% confident is great out the box and future-proof, than risk the aforementioned inconvenience. The cooler can't be any worse than the stock Intel fan.

Quick question: if the mobo has 6 SATA ports and comes with an eSATA and USB bracket, does that mean that the eSATA port on the Fractal case can be linked up to the mobo directly somehow? Or does it have to be linked via the bracket? I'm a little unsure how that works.

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Steerpike
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May 27, 2011 - 10:15 am
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Very nice rig, Gregg! I'm eager to hear about your adventures in building.

In my experience, Asus makes the best motherboards from both a performance and price perspective. They charge a premium, but they're usually outstanding. Gigabyte, EVGA, and MSI have also been good to me, but nothing beats an Asus.

Be sure you get a good power supply. Nothing's more important!

 

Regarding your SATA question, I believe you can do both: both the case and bracket jacks will plug into something on the mobo, presumably the internal SATA ports. For some reason eSATA connectors are not physically compatible with regular SATA ones on the device end. 

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

Scout
Portland, Oregon
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May 27, 2011 - 11:57 am
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I had an Asus mobo before this last iteration. It was solid, though I could never get it to overclock for crap but then that's probably more reflective of my lack of skill than anything Asus did. Now I have a Gigabyte P55-UD3R with an i5 CPU. I'm not doing any overclocking this time around. CPUs are getting so fast out of the box I just don't bother anymore. 

I think you're right that all those negative reviews of a product are often just because it's popular. For every negative review of that video card I bet there are 10 people perfectly happy. Happy people tend not to bother to post as much.

You might be able to get away with using the stock CPU cooler. I always just pop on my Thermaltake monster with a single fan. I have a very quiet Yate Loon fan on it. Being able to swap out  cooler fans is something to consider. I eventually swapped out all the fans on my case (a Lian Li 201 server case) with Yate Loons as I got a bunch cheap on sale many years ago. 

One thing that niggles at me is the size of the power supply you listed. Have you looked at the Antec 750watt? Is it much more expensive? 650watts seems a little close to the edge these days though it's better than buying some 1,500 watt monster you'll never, ever come close to using. It's probably fine for the system you're building as long as you don't start adding cards and drives like a crazy person.

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geggis
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May 27, 2011 - 2:37 pm
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I agree Scout, I don't really intend on overclocking but if I do then the option's there with the Mugen 2. I've heard a lot about the Yate Loons but I can't buy them over here unfortunately. Apparently though, the Scythe Slip Stream fans are very good, of which there are plenty available and the best in the series is apparently attached to the Mugen. I don't think I'll ever need to overclock my system anyway because the highest resolution my HDTV can run is 1360 x 768 (!). The big plus with that is that my system will keep fairly cool and quiet, and most games will run like silk.

From what I gather most tech in a modern computer is pretty efficient so I'm not expecting my rig to go anywhere near 400-500w on load (I bloody well hope not because that's a lot for the frequency I'm likely to use it!). I don't really like the idea of dual GPUs and don't store enough shit to warrant having any more than two hard disks tops. I could possibly stretch to the Antec TruePower 750w just to be sure though.

Is that the Thermaltake Frio per chance Scout?

I think Steerpike, a SATA slot can be 'hot-swapped' or something to be used as an eSATA, but hey I haven't really a clue.

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Helmut
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May 27, 2011 - 4:19 pm
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Here's a site for PSU calculations, there are others of course.

http://www.thermaltake.outervi......com/Power

 

It comes up with roughly a 400 watt suggestion for your system, without any aging or various modifiers. I would think 650 should be fine for now, but it also should accommodate all your future doodads and sparklers.

Lot of negative comments about the mobo with regards to overclocking on newegg, yet Anandtech is pretty happy with the series (if not the exact board). http://www.anandtech.com/show/.....e-at-190/2. Might just be the haters.

I see the cpu frequency is going up again, after two or three years of stagnation.

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

Scout
Portland, Oregon
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May 27, 2011 - 7:14 pm
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Greg, it's a Thermalright (not -take...I always get that wrong) Ultra 120. I don't even know if they make it anymore. It's from two builds back. At one time it was top of the line.

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geggis
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May 28, 2011 - 10:01 am
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Ahh, ThermalRIGHT. Yeah I've been looking at their Ultra eXtreme 120 heatsinks but I don't fancy buying a heat sink and fan separately just in case I get the fan type wrong. The Mugen 2 seems a convenient and cost effective way of eliminating that possible issue!

What's the word on grounding yourself and antistatic mats and crocodile clips and bracelets etc.? Am I going to blow up my components if I don't use these things?

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Helmut
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May 28, 2011 - 12:11 pm
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I have a grounding strap that I connect to the chassis.  This latest build I was fed up with the thing and looked around on the net for stories. In retrospect, I think the only part that is 'mildly' static sensitive is the hard drive. I thought that the RAM and processor would be the killers but didn't find any reports like that. But it's not my system [Image Can Not Be Found]. I think you'd be ok if you leave your wool sweater/socks in the drawer, stay off the rug, keep  your cozy polyester clad bum from rubbing on your poly covered chair and the parts in their anti-static bags until ready to go in, touching the case before inserting things. Spiling a pint of lager into the half finished end product is a no-no.

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

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geggis
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May 29, 2011 - 5:23 am
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I've made a few changes to the spec.

I'm not going for the Fractal Design Define R3 case any more because it's very similar in cost to the Antec P183 which is apparently built better (we have one downstairs at work and it is very solid). It also has the massive benefit of being compatible with Antec's proprietary CP-850W PSU. This CPU is reckoned to be one of the best up there with the Signatures and Seasonic X-series, it's also very cheap as well for the extra 200W.

My only gripe now is with the hard drive. The Spinpoint F3 seems to be getting criticism for its noise, something I want to avoid if possible. Then again, WD's Caviar drives get the same criticism as well. Which drives have you people had the best experiences with? And any advice on how many drives I should have? I really don't think I need more than 1TB so do I put all my eggs in one basket and go for a single drive or split it between two?

Scout
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May 29, 2011 - 3:32 pm
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That's definitely a way better power supply. One of the best. I thought about getting one of those when they first came out because of how quiet they are and fitting it into my case. It's a big server case and the back cutout for the PSU is removable so I could put in a modified plate but then I read that the cables are a bit on the short side. Apparently this thing fits the Antec cases and that is that.  Hopefully someone will make a less proprietary supply in this form factor someday. I like that you can slap a 120mm fan on the end of it.

 

I have a WD Caviar Black 1TB drive in an Rocketfish enclosure on top of my computer (eSata connector) that I back up to weekly and it does make some noise. Clickity click a lot. I keep thinking I'm going to put it further away from the desk but never do. Inertia sets in quickly once I put everything in place.  Interior drives are a couple of no big deal Maxtor 500 gigs. I don't notice noise from them like I do the WD. I don't have a RAID array or anything. I just have everything on one of the Maxtor drives and back that up to the big Caviar. The second Maxtor is pretty much a dumping ground for stuff. I would definitely have a second drive somewhere in the system to back up to. I have two interior drives and two exterior drives at this point.  (I know...big server case that can take like 12 drives and I start plugging in exterior drives instead...)The Rocketfish enclosure is a nice way to go as it gives me two more USB slots and even an SD slot.

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geggis
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May 29, 2011 - 4:07 pm
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Thanks for the advice everyone. Unless something dramatic occurs, I'll be ordering this build as soon as my pay check hits. The company I'm using have a 'Scansure' service which goes like this:

"Scansure protection has been specifically designed to reduce the risk of accidental component damage during installation. Our aim with Scansure to encourage people to build their own PC confidently.

PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE THIS WITH THE "UPSELL EXTENDED WARRANTIES" OFFERED BY YOUR TYPICAL HIGH STREET RETAILERS. To learn more, click here.

Scansure is an insurance policy provided by Lloyds' of London. For an extremely small charge, if you damage or break goods during installation Scan will replace them.

The usual Manufacturer's Warranty only covers the replacement of faulty goods, not damaged goods. If you were to drop or break an item then only Scansure would provide you a replacement item.

Even our most experienced customers know how easy it is to bend connecting pins, snap internal cables and fixings or simply items falling off a work-surface.

Accidents do happen. Give yourself peace of mind.

The policy summary is available here.

Making a claim is simple, call our usual customer service number and we will do the rest."

That piece of mind will cost about £24. They're a very reputable company in the UK (my current machine was made by them for my brother). So in a word, WOO!

lakerz1
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June 4, 2011 - 9:31 pm
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That seems to be a lot of system for a not so bad price Greg.  Glad to hear you will finally be getting your dream system.  My last two PCs have been custom built rigs from various online shops.  I've had good luck going that route thus far as I don't particularly like building the system myself.  Did that once, and by some miracle the system still runs (Win98).  Still, too much work for me.  

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Steerpike
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June 4, 2011 - 10:28 pm
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So Gregg, what are you going to play first on your new computer? What game have you held off on but pine for more than anything? I'm curious!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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geggis
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June 5, 2011 - 5:59 am
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It's funny, over the years of being unable to play the latest and visually greatest I've built a natural barrier so the hype and excitement doesn't get to me so much. With the house and refurbishment and all, I've had to be like that or else I would have had no money left or time to crack on with jobs! I'll be playing what my head tells me to rather than my aflutter heart, and in truth that's what my selection process has become these days. More than anything I'm looking forward to the added kick my system will have and at a much lower volume!

So what's my head saying game-wise?

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky and Call of Pripyat — God Rays hammered my current rig and it'll be great to head back into the Zone. It's been a long time since release day SoC. The Complete mod will allow me to avoid all the hassle that Morrowind gave me too!

Bioshock 2, Metro 2033, Bulletstorm, Fallout 3 and New Vegas (we'll see how I go though), maybe Mass Effect but I'm not sure, Crysis and/or Warhead, Mount & Blade: Warband (not visually stunning but a bit flaky on my current rig), Brink depending on which platform I decide to sink it on, maybe Shogun 2, oh and Freespace 1/2 using the Open Project overhaul.

That should do for the immediate to distant future. There's Battlefield 3 on the way as well, and Rage looks interesting.

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geggis
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June 9, 2011 - 8:01 am
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I fucking built it!!

Okay, so after about 4 hours carefully putting it all together, reading (nearly) all the instructions and being content with the state of it, I went to turn it on and... nothing. Not a sound. No fans spinning. No bleeps. Just the green LED on the mobo saying that it was receiving some sort of power. Great. A dark mood took me and I sat there on the cold tiled kitchen floor (where I built it) staring at the thing. I'd done everything right, everything was seated properly and in the right place but none of the manuals said anything about this happening.

Hailey said it seemed like a power issue because nothing was firing up. I continued to sit there. I didn't want to take the whole thing apart because I would only end up putting it back together in exactly the same way. That and it was 22:30 and I really didn't want to be starting the process again that late.

I turned the thing off at the back and then turned it on again and hit the power button one last time and it briefly fired up and cut out. Power was going in but not being sustained. I hoped it wasn't a PSU issue. So I went further back and plugged the mains cable into a different socket on the (old) surge protector. Turned it all back on and VROOOM everything started up beautifully. Goddamn dicky surge protector.

Then I spotted 'CPU fan error' on start up. Looked at my open case and sure enough, the fan was spinning but ever so slowly. So I went into the UEFI BIOS and saw pretty much this (BIOS has never looked so good). What was going on? Why was my fan causing an error?

Turned out that the gigantic heat sink was going such a good job that the fan was barely having to do anything so BIOS thought the fan was malfunctioning. I lowered the warning threshold and voila! no more warning. Windows 7 is now installed and everything else is ready in waiting for tonight's Mega Install effort.

So, aside from the mains socket hiccup and the CPU fan quirk, everything (so far) has gone very smoothly indeed. Here's hoping I run into no other problems.

I'll post some pics up later today; I'm not one for techno-PC-porn but, y'know, I'm excited and need to show it to somebody.

Hurrah!

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Steerpike
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June 9, 2011 - 8:33 am
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OUTSTANDING! There's nothing as satisfying as building your own rig, and nothing as scary as ironing out those last-second issues that crop up. Congratulations Gregg!

Life is the misery we endure between disappointments.

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Helmut
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June 9, 2011 - 12:14 pm
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There's nothing as good as when it doesn't run and the sweat starts to bead a little and you start to hate these fuckin' PCs and why didn't I just buy one I'm so stupid and then you solve it and it was great man piece of cake and only losers would go to a store to buy something lame...

Glad it worked out. But that's not a real BIOS, heck that's a... why back in the day we had to...

My Dark Souls single player sensibilities are protected by a +10 GfWL Firewall of Ineptitude

Scout
Portland, Oregon
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June 9, 2011 - 4:17 pm
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That always happens to me too. I forget to plug something in or grab a bad power cable out of the heap in the garage.  Congrats on the new rig. And, yeah that is one fancy pants BIOS. I like the flames on the little fake analog dials. [Image Can Not Be Found]

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