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  1. #1
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    Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    I’m replacing a computer I built in the fall of 2004! At the time it was a beast of a system that tore up Half-Life 2 and Far Cry and everything else for a few years. It’s still a great machine but definitely showing its age. I’m finally in a position to build a new rig, so...

    Goals:
    • Under $2000
    • Quiet
    • Rock-solid stability (*)
    • Capable gamer
    • Capable photo and video editor
    • Blazing fast system start
    • Everything mail-order from Canada (**)


    (*) I enjoy tweaking for performance on a new system but I leave things alone after I get it stable.

    (**) I live in a remote community in northern Ontario, so *everything* has to be shipped.

    Here is my proposed build:
    Code:
    Motherboard	ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
    CPU		Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core
    Cooler		Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B
    Thermal Paste	Arctic Silver 5 HIGH-DENSITY Polysynthetic Silver Thermal Compound 3.5 Gram 
    Memory		G.SKILL Ripjaws X F3-10666CL9D-8GBXL 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1333 CL9-9-9-24 (qualified for board and cheaper than the 1600 set)
    SSD (pri)	Corsair Force Series 120GB 2.5IN SATA2 Solid State Disk Flash Drive SSD Sandforce.
    Hard Drv (sec)	Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB SATA2 7200RPM 3.6MS 64MB 3.5IN Dual Proc Hard Drive OEM
    PSU		Corsair TX750 V2 750W ATX 12V Single Rail 60A 24PIN ATX Power Supply Active PFC 80PLUS Bronze
    DVD Drive	ASUS DRW-24B3LT 24X SATA DVD Writer OEM Lightscribe Black
    Operating Sys	MS Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM
    Case		??? (see below)
    Video Card	??? (see below)
    All of the above, estimating $160 for the case and $300 for the video card, comes to $1864 if purchased a la carte from NCIX.

    Omissions:

    Video Card – I estimated $300, but really I want to be able to play any new FPS game with a good amount of detail and edit photos and videos. I don’t want to skimp, but the $819.99 Asus ENGTX570 is out of the question! How about:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 570 HD Fermi 732MHZ 1280MB GDDR5 2XDVI HDMI DisplayPort PCI-E Video Card for $339.99?

    Is this a reasonable card for the proposed rig? Would another $100 toward the video card be worthwhile? Will this card be reasonably quiet?

    Case – I’ve looked at so many and I just don’t know! I estimated $160 in the budget. I’d like to have an eSATA and some USB ports out front (or on a front panel). Ideally it will fit the Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B cooler I selected. The old rig sits in an Antec P160 and I like the look of it but it seems to amplify fan noise. I don’t want glowing fan lights (they look good on *other* builders’ rigs). I’ve been looking at the Corsair Graphite 600T. I was also looking at the Antec P183. Suggestions?

    Cooling – I value QUIET, and would be willing to put more of the budget toward it. Would a liquid cooler kit such as the Corsair H60 or H70 be worthwhile?

    PSU – I chose the Corsair TX750 V2 750W, but could I safely use a 650W unit? The “modular gold” version of this PSU (AX750 CMPSU-750AX is another $50. Given that I’ve never had any trouble neatly bundling unused cables, is there any other reason to go with the higher cost unit?

    I welcome your comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, and questions. Thanks for your help.
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-07-2011 at 01:20 AM. Reason: Fix typo.

  2. #2
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    On the PSU front, I have made some progress. I found a review on hardocp.com that is similar to my proposed build that used an ASUS ENGTX570. Power maxed at 468W of which 141W was the card (overclocked). Idle was 107W. Thus the 750W supply is plenty, and even has capacity for a second video card later. The same article shows an ATI HD 6970 system maxed at a substantially lower 327W, though the card wasn't overclocked.

    Video Card
    Still sorting it out, but I'm leaning toward one of these:
    ASUS Radeon HD 6970 890MHZ 2GB 5.5GHZ GDDR5 DVI HDMI 2x Mini DisplayPort HDCP PCI-E Video Card $388.72

    ASUS GeForce GTX 570 Fermi 742MHZ 1.28GB 3.8GHZ GDDR5 2XDVI Mini HDMI PCI-E DirectX 11 Video Card (ENGTX570/2DI/1280MD5) $360.82

    But... perhaps one of these if get a few deals in the ordering:
    ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II Fermi 782MHZ 1536MB GDDR5 2XDVI Mini-HDMI PCI-E DX11 Video Card (ENGTX580 DCII/2DIS/1536MD) $548.73
    I'm trying to figure out if "triple slot" "DirectCU" cards can still be used in SLI because I really don't want to rule it out.

    Cooling
    I've decided to stick with the Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B cooler just because a heatsink+fan is something I know. I can always upgrade later.

    Case
    Still looking, but some of the more interesting cases are closer to $200.
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-07-2011 at 01:21 AM.

  3. #3
    Joined
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Central NJ
    Posts
    10,466

    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    Case: I've recommended the 600T in previous threads, not for the looks, but for the functionality. Functionally it and the 650D are pretty much identical, but the 650D is a lot more expensive (and looks alot nicer IMO). Lots of good cable management, the ability to swap HSF's without removing the mobo, good cooling etc.

    PSU: the 750TX v2 is a good choice. The AX is more than a modular version, it actually uses a different power topology and is more efficient (80Plus Gold) than the TX. Is it worth $50?.. meh

    6970 or 570 is kind of a toss-up. They're pretty much identical in terms of performance, trading blows in many different games. The 6970 uses much less power though:
    http://www.hardocp.com/article/2011/..._card_review/1
    http://www.pcper.com/reviews/Graphic...ed/Conclusions

    If you're thinking SLI, I'd avoid a triple slot cooler just becuase you immediately kill your flexibility


    Trust me, I do science
    My Hardware, Past and Present

  4. #4
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    EDIT: Well it turns out the cooler has some problems. See the end.

    Here is my finalized proposed build:

    Motherboard ASUS P8P67 Deluxe $245.10
    CPU Intel Core i7 2600K $336.93
    Cooler Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B $45.99
    Thermal Paste Arctic Silver 5 3.5 Gram $9.99
    Memory Corsair CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B Vengeance Blue 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 CL9-9-9-24 $111.01
    Video ASUS GeForce 570 GTX DirectCU II Fermi 742MHZ 1280MB 3.8 GHz $359.99
    SSD (pri) Corsair Force Series 120GB 2.5IN SATA2 SSD Sandforce $232.82
    HDD (sec) WD Caviar Black 1TB SATA3 6GB/S 7200RPM 64MB Cache 3.5IN $87.98
    DVD Drive ASUS DRW-24B3LT 24X SATA DVD Writer OEM Lightscribe Black $29.98
    Case Corsair Obsidian Series 800D Full Tower $269.99
    PSU Corsair TX750 V2 750W ATX 12V Single Rail 60A 80PLUS Bronze $124.99
    Wireless D-LINK DWA-556 Xtreme N Desktop Adapter 802.11B/G/N 3X3 PCI-E1 Adapter $54.99
    OS Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM $123.98
    Total $2,033.74


    I went a bit over my $2000 budget guideline, but I’m comfortable with the final price and I expect to take advantage of “bundle discounts” when I order.

    Changes

    The Corsair Vengeance memory was just a few dollars more than the G.Skill and I’ve used their memory in previous builds so I decided to be brand-loyal. The hard drive went from 2TB to 1TB to save over $100 after I realized that it will take me another year to put a serious dent in 1TB and I can always get another drive.

    Considerations

    The case was a tough choice because it is something I will look at and interact with every day after the system is built. After looking very closely at many higher-end cases, I narrowed things down to the Coolermaster HAF X and the Corsair Obsidian 800D. Initially, the $100 price difference caused me to choose the HAF X, which is a great case, but I really like the simpler look of the 800D. The 800D is on sale for a couple of days at NCIX, and there is a meaningful bundle discount with the PSU I want. One small compromise is that the 800D has no front eSATA connection, so I will have to get/make a drive-bay box.

    The choice of the ASUS GeForce 570 GTX DirectCU video card is the result of a lot of research. The DirectCU system is said to be very quiet. It is a triple-slot card, which would seem to preclude future SLI however, the P8P67 Deluxe board *is* capable of handling two DirectCU cards (and there are plenty of reviews of this setup). Honestly, I’m more of a “build a new rig” enthusiast than an “upgrade old rig”, so SLI is a long shot.

    Upgrade Priorities

    I’m willing to spend all of the $2000 in my budget, so if I can find some savings with bundle deals as I’m ordering the parts, I’ve set up some priorities for component upgrades:

    Video Card -> ASUS GeForce 580 GTX DirectCU (extra $188.74). This is a worthwhile upgrade for the system.
    Memory -> 16GB. I didn’t find much information comparing 8GB and 16GB on SandyBridge systems. The price difference is about $100 and I would expect it to speed up photo and video editing.
    HDD -> 2TB. The 2TB version of the drive I specified is included in some bundles with a meaningful discount, so I might get it.
    PSU -> 850W. I’m not even sure this is a worthwhile upgrade, but a higher PSU can never hurt.

    Loose Ends

    Cooling - Again
    I’m intrigued by the plug-and-play liquid cooling kits from Corsair and both cases will handle it. It gives a very clean look to the finished system. The cost differential isn’t much and with the H50 or H70 showing up in every bundle, it is a wash with the price of the heatpipe+fan cooler. I’m still looking at it, particularly the durability.

    Case lighting
    What can I say… I watched a review of a system that had some pleasantly glowing lights in the case. It gave the window a reason for being and piqued my interest. I still don’t like fan lights.

    Conclusion

    I really appreciate and value the wealth of knowledge that is shared on the Internet. I always try to do my part to give back, even if it is just to explain my choices to help future builders. I welcome your comments and ideas.

    EDIT:
    I have to revisit the choice of the Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B cooler. It turns out the back-plate is incompatible with this specific model of P8P67 motherboard. There is a replacement back-plate available, but I would have to get it from the company directly.

    Another issue (that I sort of knew about) with both the Scythe Mugen-2 Rev. B and Noctua NH-D14 performance coolers is they only clear "standard height" memory modules in the first two memory slots. Standard height memory is not performance memory. The mind boggles. True, I probably won't use more than 2 slots on the initial build, but I definitely want to have the option to fill all four slots.

    So... the Corsair H70 looked like a good solution until I started reading about fishtank noise and watching videos of squealing, clanking pumps.
    The heatsink profile on Ripjaws memory does fit under the NH-D14 (per the company's list), so they are a possible solution.
    Finally, there are a couple of coolers I evaluated that are tall within the CPU area of the board. I will give them another look.

    I'm looking for ideas.
    I'm also waffling a bit on the case... the HAF X ships with USB 3.0 and eSATA on the front panel, while the 800D doesn't (USB 3.0 is an upgrade and eSATA is ???).
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-09-2011 at 01:37 AM.

  5. #5
    Joined
    Aug 2004
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    Sioux Lookout
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    160

    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    All the parts are ordered! This morning NCIX had a great offer on both shipping and the mobo/processor combo. As I expected, I got several bundle deals on the other parts, so I upgraded to the ASUS GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II GPU and still came out under my budget at $1,985.18 for everything.

    I went with the Cooler Master HAF X case. Due to compatibility issues with the Scythe Mugen-2 Rev B cooler on the Deluxe board, I got the Prolimatech Megahalems Rev B. My "excessive" cooler choice is aimed at getting a quiet system. For max flexibility, I went back to the G.Skill Ripjaws memory. The only parts I had to get elsewhere were the Akasa Viper PWM cooler fans and the PWM splitter cable, which I ordered from FrozenCPU.

    There was a strange glitch with verifying my phone number and a not-too-reassuring conversation with someone at NCIX, but hopefully it is all worked out and I will still get all the offered deals.

    I'm looking forward to building this thing and I'll post pictures to help pay back all the help I got from reading about other enthusiasts' builds.

    ETA: My order issue with NCIX has been resolved and I'm just waiting for the order status "shipping" section to turn green :{)>

    I'm committed now because I bought some new expensive PC Games that won't even run on any computer I own!
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-16-2011 at 05:30 PM.

  6. #6
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    Parts are en route. It would be nice to have everything for the upcoming long weekend, but who knows. Meanwhile, I'm been preparing a build/configure guide. For example, there is a setting in the BIOS to ensure stable operation of the memory kit I selected.

    ETA: Everything arrived except the memory and CPU fans. I will see how much of it I can assemble this weekend.
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-20-2011 at 04:44 PM.

  7. #7
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    Thumbs up Notes on the Build of my Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    Well anyway, I built as much as I could this weekend, which turned out to be quite a bit. I don't have the memory kit or the cooler fans, so I prepped the mobo as usual but stopped after I got the cooler retention bracket attached to the board as I don't think I could install the memory with the cooler in place. One thing that surprised me is that the processor has to be in place before the cooler retention bracket is installed. Seeing that naked processor has been bugging me all weekend. It just looks “wrong” without the cooler .

    The HAF X case is beautiful to work in, though it is very heavy. I bolted in the motherboard and installed the Asus GeForce GTX 580 DirectCU II GPU triple-slot beast. BTW, the “manual” for this $500+ GPU card was written in 2009 for cards and mobos of that era, plus there was no case badge. Grrrr. Anyway, I put it in slots 2, 3, 4. Neither the GPU duct nor VGA bracket features of the HAF X case will work with this GPU. Of course, they’re not needed, as the GPU brings its own dual fans and gigantic heatsink to the party. I did work out that there is room for a second triple-slot card, should I decide to go SLI at some point. It would live in slots 5, 6, 7. Of course, I’d need a bigger PSU and…

    I installed the D-Link DWA-552 Xtreme N Desktop Adapter for wireless. It is a PCI card, and the only free PCI slot is #6. For now, it will be fine, but if I ever went for SLI, I would need to find a “PCI Express” wireless (do they even make them?), or some USB-based solution. I did have to loosen the bracket and wiggle the card to get it to line up with the backplane. For now I left off the antennas - all three of them!

    My storage devices went in fine. I put the DVD in the top 5.25” bay, the HDD in the internal bay #2 (to be in the full air flow of the front intake fan). I put the SSD in bay #3, under the HDD and its heat. To mount the 2.5” SSD in the 3.5” bay, I used the adapter that came with it. The HAF X case only ships with one 2.5” internal bay drawer, and this keeps it free.

    The PSU went in the bottom of the case and I wrestled with power, data, and front panel cables for a few hours. I dressed everything with split wire loom from Canadian Tire. There aren’t enough tie-downs on the HAF-X mobo tray, but I made a few anchors using a screw hole and a looped tie-wrap (AKA cable-tie). Both the case and the motherboard came with spindly little black tie-wraps so I supplemented things with some big beefy black ties.

    I did have some fun when I went to plumb the SATA cables to the motherboard. It turns out that the triple-slot GPU sits smack over most of the SATA connections. I tried a few things, such as taking the front panel off the case, but I just couldn’t see well enough to make the connections, so I took the GPU out. After I got the SATA wiring sorted out, the GPU went in much quicker the second time around.

    When I went to install the “USB 3.0 Box” that comes with the Asus P8P67 Deluxe mobo, I found a problem… the cable is waaay too short to mount the box in any drive bay. In fact, I could not find a satisfactory place to mount it. The HAF X case has two USB 3.0 front panel connectors that are wired by routing long USB cables out the back of the case to connect to the rear I/O panel. This was a work-around until they built proper adapter cables to get USB 3.0 from the motherboard connector. This cable has just become available (since May 13th) and I put in my parts request for it on the Cooler Master website. For this reason, I left out the Asus USB 3.0 box.

    With everything done except the fan wiring and the wheels, I tackled the wheels. The HAF X is a big, heavy case and I enjoyed having the wheels on it… for 30 seconds until one of the wheels split in two! Yes, it happened. The plastic neck of the wheel split like a banana, leaving behind a lonely metal peg. Apparently this happens (per the Cooler Master support forums), so I filled out a parts request on the Cooler Master website. In the meantime, I used a small cardboard box to make a prothstetic to slip over the peg and I can wheel the case around on my worktable. The wheels are so nice that next time I build with a wheeled case I’ll put the wheels on FIRST! (I have no excuse, the wheels were on the last page of the manual, and I just assumed it was last for a reason).

    We have a long weekend here in Canada, so I’ll wrap up the fan wiring tomorrow. When I finally get the memory kit and CPU fans next week, it should be just a few minutes work to wrap things up and commission this rig.

    Finally, an amusing discovery about the Intel Inside™ case badge… First, you should know that I like case badges and always find a spot to put them on my rig (they may well be passé now, but I’m old-school). Second, the HAF X front bezel doesn’t have any obvious flat area for case badges, so I was planning to put them on the side panel. So… I’m looking for the case badge for the Intel Core i7 2600K processor and found it attached to the last page of the “installation instructions” booklet. The top of the page says “Attention: Authorized use of Intel® Logo”. The important line is “…Intel grants you a limited, non-exclusive permission to place the enclosed logo label on the FRONT bezel of a single computer system…” [emphasis added]. In other words, when we slap that case badge (AKA “logo label”) on the SIDE or TOP of our enthusiast rigs and post pictures on the Internet, we risk some non-specified legal action from Intel. I just thought it was funny (and sad) that Intel sells a processor aimed at enthusiasts but their lawyers haven’t a clue.

    I welcome your questions and comments.

  8. #8
    Joined
    Aug 2004
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    Sioux Lookout
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    I'm typing this from my new rig. I received one memory kit and my fans yesterday. It started right up and I had Windows 7 installed in short order. The most tedious part was moving my User files from C: the SSD to D: the hard drive. In the end, I had to change the location of each directory (e.g. My Documents, My Music, etc) using the Properties dialog. It also took me a bit of research to find out how to move the Firefox online and offline caches. You can see the path by typing about:cache in the address bar. You can set them with about:config. The two strings you want to set (or add by right clicking in the about:config window) are:
    browser.cache.disk.parent_directory
    browser.cache.offline.parent_directory
    I set these both to:
    D:\Temporary Internet Files
    Which I had already set in Windows 7 Internet Settings. ETA: at one point a double-backslash "\\" was needed, but as of Firefox 6.0.2 a single backslash works fine.

    This new rig is blazing fast and eerily quiet! I'll try out some of my new games tonight.

    ETA:
    On the build side, I can confirm that the G.Skill memory does just clear the bottom of the fan on the Megahalems Rev B. I did have to remove one of the fans to install the stick in the slot nearest the processor when my second kit finally arrived. If taller memory were used it should be possible to offset the fan enough to clear it in slot 1.

    At idle the two Akasa Vipers spin at their lowest RPM and Megahalems is literally cool to the touch!

    I welcome your questions and comments.
    Last edited by Gollan; 09-10-2011 at 02:46 PM. Reason: Updated info

  9. #9
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    Sioux Lookout
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    I closed up the HAF X case last night and connected the side fan directly to 12V. It was interesting to me that this change reduced the mobo temperature from 28°C to 25°C and the CPU idle temp from 34°C to 33°C. Unfortunately it also made things a bit noisy. I have a bit more testing to do.

    I spent some time cleaning up the software that Asus provides with the P8P67 Deluxe mother board. Basically *I* want to control if software starts at boot. I'm certain I'm not alone in this.

    Asus Smart Doctor is listed in services as ASDR. Set it to manual to make it stop launching with Windows. It still works from the menu.

    AI Suite II is listed in Windows Scheduler. Disable it and you can launch it when you like.

    I played around with the BT Go! Bluetooth connectivity function and my iPod, but I didn't get any further than establishing a music remote control. I'm more interested in the remote monitoring function.

    I did some benchmarking with 3DMark11. It is quite a change from the familiar 3DMark05! A 600Mhz overclock of the CPU did nothing to the score. An update to the latest NVIDIA drivers gave a the biggest gain. At stock settings for CPU and GPU I'm now getting an overall score of P6224, which reveals some unmet potential. Over the weekend I will install NVIDIA Tools and see what the the DirectCU II card can do.

    Finally, I played some games! I loaded up Crysis, which I missed when it came out because I was working up north and only had a laptop. Crysis is a lot of fun and reminds me of FarCry. It seems to work just fine in 1680x1050 and 2xAA. I've never run games using AA before, even when I had my BFG 6800 Ultra OC! I also loaded up Half Life Lost Coast and enjoyed stutter-free play at the same settings.

    I still have some tinkering to do, but I'm very happy with my new rig and with the parts choices I made. I appreciate the help I got reading posts by other enthusiasts.
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-26-2011 at 06:26 PM. Reason: Add new info.

  10. #10
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    With the SSD boot drive and the BIOS set to "full screen" (so there is no post delay), my rig boots and is ready to surf or work in under 40 seconds. I especially appreciate the fact that as soon as I see the Windows 7 desktop, it is ready to go!

    ETA:
    There are a *lot* of reports of issues with sleep mode and SSDs, but I can report that sleep mode is working perfectly with my P8P67 Deluxe/Corsair F120 combo.

    I've been looking at Windows 7 optimizations for a system SSD. Much of the information online is very old and obsolete. The Win 7 installer recognizes an SSD target and makes the changes recommended in the old guides. For example Windows does not defragment SSD drives and turns off superfetch. Microsoft recommends that the pagefile reside on the SSD, so I left it.

    The only SSD optimizations I've made are:
    • Moved my user folders. It turns out you can "drag and drop" these! I spent many tedious minutes with "change location" on each folder.
    • Moved the indexing file. I went to Indexing Options, Advanced, and moved it to D:/index.


    I'm making a backup and system repair disc for my new rig at this very moment.

    I've had a bit of a struggle to get my data transferred from my old Windows XP system. I'm documenting it here in case it helps someone, because if this was a disaster recovery situation it could be vexing. My 3rd party backup utility (Genie Backup Manager Pro 8.0) made some extremely long path names. I had my user directories on a second disk and I think this is confusing the backup. It is adding a prefix that includes my full very long name, like: "Documents and Settings/Suzette Lulu Schwartzinfaler's Documents/My Documents/...". Then we have a very deep directory structure at "...". There were hundreds of files that were not restored.

    Then I tried the Windows XP system backup and had to download the special "restore only" tool for Win 7. This produced similar results - hundreds of files not restored.

    The ultimate resolution will be to take the drive out of my old system and make use of the "hot swap" drive bays in my new rig.

    I installed some of the games I bought and thus my productivity has taken a hit! Crysis in particular! I got three "free" game certificates along with my parts. I somehow downloaded one, HAWX2, from the ridiculous UBI website, made an online account just to play the single-player campaign and then found that the game is kinda fun in an arcade-ish way. It got much better when I dug out my old Saitek Aviator AV8R-01 joystick. I also made the mistake of buying Portal (the original) on Steam. I sure missed a lot of great PC gaming when I was living up north for four years.

    Next up: some careful overclocking!
    Last edited by Gollan; 05-29-2011 at 08:28 PM.

  11. #11
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    Sioux Lookout
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    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    After three months, I’ve made some upgrades to my rig and had a surprising failure.

    CoolerMaster HAF-X Case Upgrades and RMAs
    I added a Lamptron FCS V2 fan controller and swapped the side panel fan for a CoolerMaster Red LED Megaflow. I also put a Red LED Megaflow in the top front fan bay. The red LED effect looks great. BTW, the fans are mostly for show – my testing revealed that they have NO meaningful impact on CPU temp. I haven’t tested GPU yet, but I suspect any effect will be small.

    Unfortunately, one of the wheels snapped the first time I stood the HAF-X case up (Google shows that this has been an issue). It took about three weeks to get the new wheels. They are definitely needed - this is a beast of a case!

    CoolerMaster also sent me an adaptor that connects the front panel USB3.0 ports to the USB3.0 header on the Asus P8P67 Deluxe mobo. You just request it through the RMA system, though I would think they are being included with the case by now.

    Even with the RMA, I am absolutely thrilled with this case! I got some red vinyl lettering and put the computer’s name on the side panel.

    A Man-on-Mouse Crush!
    During a brief visit to a computer store in Ottawa, I found the “Cyborg R.A.T.7 Mouse”. It was on sale and still expensive. For reasons I can’t even fathom, I took to this strange looking mouse and bought it after doing only 3 minutes of research on my iPad. Summary: this is the best gaming mouse I’ve ever used. It is completely customizable – width, height, length, button angle, weight. It even offers an optional “pinkie rest”, which seemed like a dumb idea until I started using it... Anyway, I’m smitten with it, and I don’t “smit” easily!

    Corsair F120 SSD Fails and I add another hard drive
    After working flawlessly as my system drive for three months, my Corsair F120 SSD failed. It got into a funky state where it would disappear from the system after about two minutes of operation. Corsair asked for some troubleshooting and then they approved my RMA. I'm going to be shipping it off this week.

    When the SDD failed, I was a bit stuck as I only had the one hard drive with one big partition holding all my data (I usually build systems with two). I ended up repartitioning the drive, which took a ridiculously long time, but reinstalling Windows 7 was a cinch. After going through that, I ordered a second WD Caviar Black 1TB HDD. These drives are a bit noisy when they are being accessed but the price-performance point is acceptable to me.

    Summary
    With the F120 SSD, my system took 45 seconds to start from power-button to browser open. On the WD hard drive it now takes 75 seconds. It turns out that the main impact of the SSD is overall system responsiveness. I had Windows, my browser and productivity software on the SSD and everything seemed to open instantly. I wouldn't call my system sluggish now, but it is noticeably less responsive.

    When the replacement F120 SSD arrives, I’m willing to try again. Windows 7 install doesn’t take long and I am running a pretty lean software environment on this rig. I’ve also been looking at the reliable but expensive Intel SSDs. Perhaps that will be my backup plan if the F120 doesn’t work out.

    Until the SSD failed, my new rig ran for 3 months, 10+ hours per day with not a single issue. I’ve been gaming way more that I should, and I love it.

    Regrets? None. The Z68 mobos came out the day I ordered the parts, but I’m happy with the P67 board. I should have ordered two HDDs, but I have now addressed that oversight.

    I’ll check back in when I get the replacement SSD. Feel free to ask me questions or make comments.
    Last edited by Gollan; 09-10-2011 at 02:29 PM. Reason: Fix typo

  12. #12
    Joined
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Sioux Lookout
    Posts
    160

    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    While I am waiting for the Corsair F120 to return from RMA, I ordered and received an Intel 510 120 GB SSD. This is a "SATA 6.0 Gb/s" drive rated for 450 MB/s read and 210 MB/s write. The larger 250 GB version of this drive has slightly better performance, but I just couldn't justify spending double the money. As it is, my "$2000 Gamer" is more like a $2500 Gamer!

    I installed the Intel 510 as my system drive, starting from scratch. Along the way I did a little testing and I am sharing the results. The Asus P8P67 Deluxe board has these SATA ports:

    2 x Marvell 6.0Gb/s
    2 x Intel 6.0Gb/s
    4 x Intel 3.0Gb/s

    There are wide reports of unspecified "issues" with the Marvel controller (or drivers) on this mobo that make me reluctant to use it. My two WD Caviar Black 1TB HDDs and the Intel SSD are all 6.0Gb units, so without the Marvell I'm out of 6.0 ports. This issue didn't come up with my previous build as I only had one 6.0 HDD and the 3.0 Corsair SSD.

    I decided to do some testing on the HDDs using ATTO 2.46. I have screenshots of the ATTO output for all of these tests, contact me if you would like to see them.

    Code:
     
                            Read  Write
     Mfr    Drv     SATA    MB/s  MB/s           Notes
    ------  ---  ---------  ----  ----  ----------------------------
    WD HDD  C:   Intel 6.0  140   122   WD Caviar Black (4 months old)
    WD HDD  F:   Intel 6.0  132   125   WD Caviar Black (1 month old)
    
    WD HDD  C:   Intel 3.0  135   122   WD Caviar Black (4 months old)
    WD HDD  F:   Intel 3.0  131   126   WD Caviar Black (1 month old)
    
    In SDD  C:   Intel 6.0  469   228   Intel 510 SDD (new) system
    The performance hit to using the HDDs on the 3.0 Gb/s Intel SATA controller is so small that I just left them. (I have to remove the video card to access the SATA ports on the Asus board).

    I haven't decided what I will do with the Corsair F120 when I eventually get it back from RMA, but I definitely want to keep it in service. Perhaps I'll install my games on it!

    As always, I welcome questions and comments.

  13. #13
    Joined
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Sioux Lookout
    Posts
    160

    Some Photos

    Last edited by Gollan; 09-11-2011 at 10:26 PM.

  14. #14
    Joined
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Sioux Lookout
    Posts
    160

    SSD Performance Comparison Between Two Versions of RST Driver

    Well, this was interesting...


    Comparing Intel RST 10.1.0.1008 and 10.6.0.1022
    Last edited by Gollan; 09-12-2011 at 12:53 AM.

  15. #15
    Joined
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Vegas
    Posts
    1,972

    Re: Quiet, Capable Gamer, $2000

    A slight difference but I am sure that the difference in negligible.

    BF3 Dino:
    i7 2600k, ASUS P8Z68-V Pro, 8GB Corsair, X-25M 120GB, WD 300GB Raptor, 2xEVGA GTX570HD 2.5GB, X-fi Titanium, Antec 1200W.
    Monster: i7 930, MSI X58 Platinum, 9GB Corsair, WD 74GB Raptor, WD 2TB, Palit GTX460 1GB, PCP&C 750W.
    Beast: AMD4400+, Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe, 2GB Corsair, 2x 1TB WD Green Raid0, 2TB WD Green, KFA2 9600GT, Dynex 500W.
    Relic: Intel P4 3.2GHz, Asus P4SD-LA, 1.5 GB PC2700, 160GB WD, 120GB Maxtor, ATI 9600Pro, Dynex 500W.

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