Help/opinion needed with new build :-)


Oct 19, 2005

Back at it Again, after a long time. I'm building a gameing rig for my son, and could use some inputs. So far I got this in mind:

Fractal Design ARC Mini R2
Silver Power SP-S650M 650W PSU
Intel Core i5-4670K Processor
Corsair H60 Hydro
Crucial DDR3 Ballistix Tactical 16GB
MSI GeForce GTX 670 2GB PhysX CUDA
WD Desktop Black 1TB

Any constructive advice, are welcome :)

Since I don't need SLi the following mobo's could be in play:
Gigabyte GA-Z87M-D3H

But I like the SupremeFX on Asus's MAXIMUS VI GENE
You like the SupremeFX. Does your son care? Don't get me wrong. I love the idea of the Gene boards, and have had them in socket 1366 as well as socket 1155. Problem is that right now I have in my living room a socket 1155 Z68 version and an ASRock Z77 Pro4-M that sells for $125. Intellectually I know that the Asus board is "better" in various ways. Functionally I have a tough time telling a difference between the two outside of a few more esoteric BIOS settings that I usually don't touch anyways. After the side panel seals up the system, I'm not sure how I can tell them apart. Granted I don't have any Z87 platforms so I don't know if this trend continues, but judging from past (current with "past" hardware) experience, once past the overclocking and fiddling-with stage, there is nothing in the user experience to set apart expensive boards and midrange boards. I can't even tell a difference with the different onboard audio chips, and I even use receivers and somewhat decent bookshelf speakers!

Besides gaming, what else does your son need? What's your budget? I see H60 so overclocking? What are the target clocks? Where are you buying from? Silver Power... those are sold in Europe, right?

That said/asked, here are my initial thoughts (some specific recommendations included, if they're available in your area).

Cooler Master N200 case has similar features and is much cheaper.

You only need a 450W PSU for the parts you listed. Reviews show a quad core with a GTX 670 to draw in the 300W range from the wall. 450W will give you plenty of overhead for overclocking and more drives. No need for a super duper awesome PSU, as long as it is a decent one and isn't crappy. Basically it needs to be reasonable efficiency (some kind of 80Plus), does what it claims on the label without blowing up, and meet ATX spec 2.X. Anything above that is diminishing returns. I personally would get a low end Seasonic G series, or a Rosewill Capstone, or an XFX Core Edition, or any number of decent quality and reasonably priced units on the market. The takeaway from this is that I don't marry myself to a brand or model. I keep in mind the specifications I'm looking for, which in this case would probably be 80Plus Bronze or better, 450W or better, passes professional 3rd party review. For all the PSUs meeting what I would look for, I would choose the cheapest one at time of purchase. For instance right now a modular Rosewill Capstone 550W is available for $72 after coupon code (printed right on product page). If I were buying this for myself right now today that may be what I would choose. Tomorrow, I may choose a different product as sale prices may change. Oh yeah, I personally also do not obsess over modular cabling. I like to "right size" my PSU wattage, and thus usually do not have too many cables (if any) unused. Nothing a cable tie can't fix. Typically the only reason someone ends up with a ton of unused cabling is they purchase way too much wattage for their needs. PSU makers tend to specify only the number of cables that the PSU can comfortably (with some overhead) power.

You've already read my thoughts above on motherboards. For a specific recommendation, maybe the ASRock Z87M Extreme4. I see it as only $8 more than the lower end Z87M Pro4 or the Gigabyte GA-Z87M-D3H you listed, but it has the higher end ALC1150 audio chip and an Intel gigabit LAN chip, plus all the overclocking your CPU can handle.

Good CPU choice for gaming and overclocking.

For cooler, unless you are looking for something specific, usually a mid-range air cooler (Cooler Master Hyper 212+ or 212 Evo) gives a lot more bang/buck. For half the cost, you get darn near the same overclock and noise levels. Liquid cooling only gets better for more extreme overclocking with slightly lower noise levels. If you are just aiming for a mere 1GHz overclock (say that out loud a few times and giggle) then you can probably save the money.

No PC game now, or in the foreseeable future will max out 8GB of system RAM, let alone 16GB. If RAM were as cheap as it was a year ago I wouldn't have as much problem with excess (and 16GB is definitely excess). These days I'd say go with 8GB. Also, very little real-world performance difference between "slow" RAM and "fast" RAM. I would recommend one of two things. One is go for the cheapest 8GB dual channel DDR3 kit that is 1.5v and 1600MHz. Two is go for the cheapest 8GB dual channel DDR3 kit that is LOWER THAN 1.5v. I often recommend the second choice for smaller ITX rigs, which of course if you don't go SLI and a ton of drives you can totally do for your son.

For graphics card, have you considered a GTX 760? It is around 17% cheaper, but only 3% slower (on average) than a GTX 670. It may come down to the resolution your son runs games at, plus what kind of sales pricing happens when you actually make your purchase. GTX 760 pricing is around $250 right now with ZERO sales pricing, since the card is new. GTX 670 is around $300, but that's only for the most heavily discounted brands trying to clearance them out. Personally I would get something like this because it is smaller than the usual card, but then again I would probably go ITX. Note that "smaller" just means the cooler doesn't stick out as far past the PCB, as the reference PCB of the GTX 760 as well as GTX 670 are both really short, and the coolers stick out a few inches PAST the card to make it look big and powerful.

For drives, I would actually go with an SSD and a cheaper HDD. I see the 1TB WD Blue at $65 and the 1TB WD Black at $90. I would go with the Blue, and then use a 120GB or 128GB SSD for the system drive. This is where all the money "saved" by using my suggestions can be put to better use. The SSD will hold Windows and even Steam. Steam now supports installing games on different drives/directories. Having Steam on an SSD makes it much more responsive, and the huge games can go on the HDD. Same thing with Windows. Install it on the SSD, and remap the user data directories (My Documents, My Music, etc.) to the HDD. This way you can easily get by with a smaller SSD while reaping the benefits of SSD performance where it matters the most. If you get onboard with this idea, someone can recommend specific brands/models. Just know that it matters a bit more than what HDD to choose, since performance can vary greatly between models while the performance between, say, a WD Black and WD Blue are almost the same.
I would first make sure your PSU is compatible with haswell first.

Using the H60 is usually a waste, either go H80i or go air cooling. Hyper 212 Evo are definitely good low budget but with a windowed case I usually lean towards making it look nice.

As for ram 8gb kits are enough for gaming.

GTX 760 is a better value then GTX 670.

I would probably go to a 250gb samsung 840 <- Non-pro version.

Asus does make good boards but if the supreme fx is the feature you are looking for I would just go with a matx board with a dedicated sound card. First, dedicated sound cards are almost always better than any integrated solution. Second, sound cards last long and there are rarely any real innovation so once this rig is gone you can still pull the sound card out for the next system.
It would help us to know:

- How much, at most (including shipping and taxes), are you willing to spend on this build?
- Where are you buying parts from? (Is it safe to assume that you haven't moved lately?)
- Are you (or your son) going to overclock the CPU (or GPU)? If so, how much?
- What games will be played? At what resolution? At what level of visual settings?
- Do you prefer micro ATX or mini ITX?
- Is there anything special that you need in this system (like more than four SATA ports, USB 3.0 support, or wi-fi access)?

I have a few parts recommendations in mind, but I first want to ensure that my thoughts are in sync with your preferences.
As guessed I'm in Europe, to be precise Denmark.
To answer some questions, there are no plans to OC'ing. For gameing questions... Battlefield, and some adventure games ,like League Of Legends, WOW and so on. Also he is playing around with some streaming.

My reason for looking at the H60, was the review's it had, and I never got around to try it out. But aircooling could be a good alternative. Maybe the Noctua NH-U12P SE2?

Regarding sound.... as I recall, there was a big difference between Realtek and Creative chipset's. Liked the sound of Creative better. So thats the reason for the Asus Maximus VI Gene. But I could go with the Asus Gryphon Z87 and a soundcard.

I prefere the mATX, have never tried a mini ITX board, and especially the space for a GFX in such small case. The Silver Power PSU looks good, silent and nice Price.

Budget.... hard to say, since prices ain't the same as in US. This build in the limit.
Maybe wait for the Impact from Asus? It has their sound card built in and you only have one pciex16 for the GPU. Best thing is it is m-ITX, so you could get a Node 304/SG08 and build a beastly system in a small space.

^because looking at your requirements you don't really "need" mATX, but if you plan on adding things later maybe you should go with the mATX.
I would first make sure your PSU is compatible with haswell first.
First, dedicated sound cards are almost always better than any integrated solution.

Haswell requires a PSU that meets ATX specification. The "special low power states" of Haswell AFAIK only apply to mobile chips.

Sound cards are one of those things... like expensive audio cables. As long as there isn't something wrong with it (crackling, hissing, background noise) it is purely in the ear of the listener. Some people can hear a difference between sound cards (regardless of onboard or discrete). Some people who hear a difference have a preference one way or another.

To answer some questions, there are no plans to OC'ing. For gameing questions... Battlefield, and some adventure games ,like League Of Legends, WOW and so on. Also he is playing around with some streaming.

No overclocking = no need for aftermarket CPU cooler (unless noise an issue, but graphics card will usually be as noisy), no need for expensive motherboard, no need for K series CPU.

Streaming = depends on the software, but usually modern high end gaming hardware shouldn't have a problem.

LoL and WoW aren't very demanding. Battlefield 3 is very demanding. Same recommendations apply.