Specing Out a PC

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Specing Out a PC

Post by Black Six » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:37 pm

I'm looking to build a PC with two main purposes in mind: 1) playing Star Wars: The Old Republic, and 2) running Mac OS X. It's been a while since I've built a machine so I'm a bit out of the loop on things. I'm thinking a quad-core Intel chip and video card with 1GB or so of VRAM, maybe SLI or whatever if they're cheap enough. My budget is $1000-$1500.

Please help me out with component suggestions, especially motherboards and video cards. I'm also looking for a good keyboard and mouse for the rig too, so let me know what you guys use.

Thanks!
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by lifeisbetterwithketchup » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:21 pm

Well, using the compatibility lists here as a starting point:

Mobo: ASUS SABERTOOTH P67 (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard LGA1155 (Sandy Bridge), listed as compatible with OS X, quite nice all around, has SATA III, supports up to 32GB of RAM, some nice bells and whistles. $200

CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K Sandy Bridge 3.4GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I72600K i7 Sandy Bridge quad-core. Overclockable. Delicious. $319

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B 8GB of RAM. RAM has gotten so cheap. $42

SSD: OCZ Vertex 3 VTX3-25SAT3-120G 2.5" 120GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) Super fast and super awesome. SATA III. $189

I'd get an extra mechanical HDD for storage outside of the SSD, but hard drive prices have tripled in the past few weeks due to the flooding in Thailand messing with production. For example, I bought this drive this spring for $65 and now it is $160. In other words, either wait it out (estimates on prices returning to sanity vary from January to June), or use a drive you already have lying around. The other possibility is finding somewhere locally that hasn't caught on to the production issues yet, and snagging one for cheaper there.

Moving on:

Graphics card: GIGABYTE GV-N560UD-1G GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card Going by the magical nVidia chart of deciphering their naming scheme this card is pretty much the sweet spot these days in terms of price vs. performance. Anything more powerful and you're entering the land of diminishing returns. Also, it is listed on the compatibility page for OS X. $219

This brings you in around $969, assuming you don't need a case or power supply. If you do need a power supply and case, I've had good luck with Seasonic PSUs ($130) and Antec cases($100, $80 with current promo code).

This would bring your grand total to $1200. You mentioned SLI, so if you want to chuck another GTX 560 Ti in there for fun and profit, that would bump you up to $1420. (However, from my brief perusing, there is not a way to get SLI working in OS X.)

Mouse and keyboard: I am very non-picky when it comes to these, so I can't really help you there. I'm currently using a Logitech keyboard and Microsoft mouse that I bought a few years back. They probably didn't have a combined cost of more than $15.

Hope this helps!

Sidenote: If you plan on getting this soon, I'd wait until Black Friday, when Newegg tends to have fantastic deals on things. Could easily save you a few hundred dollars.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by jdmlight » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:56 pm

What ketchup said, but I'll make a few comments/additions:

Motherboard: That looks pretty nice, and it's listed on the osx86 project compatibility page.

CPU: Whee fast.

CPU cooler: Don't use Intel's stock one, it sucks. I have the unfinished version of this guy, and it's awesome (black chrome plus LEDs make it even awesomer): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835233029

RAM: Newegg had a 16gb DDR3 kit on sale for $65 not too long ago, so that would be something to look for on Black Friday.

SSD: Sandforce is the fastest, but there are reports of some reliability issues. I have an OCZ Vertex 2 in my Mac Mini that has given me zero issues, so YMMV, but it doesn't matter as long as you have some form of a backup solution (which you should anyway). Another option is the Crucial M4 (Marvell-based, not Sandforce): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 20-148-442

HDD: Wait if you can, though last week Best Buy had the WD Green 2tb on sale for $80. Keep a look out for non-ridiculous prices.

Graphics card: Yep, that's fine, unless you prefer AMD. If so, I can make a recommendation.

PSU: Corsair PSUs have Seasonic internals as well. Look for a single rail because it makes it easier (you don't have to worry about balancing the load across rails). You can't go wrong by picking a power supply on the silentpcreview.com recommended PSU list.

Case: Antec cases are nice. I was actually incredibly surprised at how nice the Antec 200 is. (My dad just bought one from Newegg for $25 after rebate) I was expecting it to be a budget-quality case, but it's not. I have an Antec 900, which is also nice. Cooler Master also makes good cases. I'd look at the various Cooler Master and Antec cases and find one that you like the look of.

Mouse/Keyboard: Depends if you're picky or not. If you're not, a $20 Logitech mouse/keyboard combo will be fine. If you are, I've read that the Rosewill mechanical switch keyboards are nice. There's a video on the product page that describes the differences between the color of switches: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6823201040 Another excellent option would be the older IBM Model M. In general, the higher-quality keyboards have mechanical switches, so that's something to look for.

I have two of this mouse, and I like it a lot. No-lag wireless plus a ludicrously-small receiver and fantastic battery life (i.e. I've had mine for a few months and haven't needed to replace the batteries yet): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6826104382

Yep, think that's about it.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by Black Six » Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:29 pm

Thanks for the info guys!

Regarding the processor - I was looking into that a bit earlier, and I was considering the i5 2500K. From what I've read the main difference is Hyperthreading and a little more cache on the i7 2600K, and the difference isn't big enough to be worth the $100.

I was definitely planning on SSD, especially with the flooding. Prices are so ridiculous now. Thanks for the rec.

I used to be an ATI guy, but I haven't looked at any benchmarks recently to see how AMD compares to nVidia. Looks like there's compatibility on both sides, so I'm open to other suggestions.

I wasn't planning on rushing out tomorrow to buy anything, I've got a month until the game comes out. So I was definitely going to see what kind of sales game around after Thanksgiving and see what I could grab. That's why I want to start researching now, so I know what to look for and what's a good deal.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by Black Six » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:28 pm

So, in addition to what's been posted here's some other components I've been looking at. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions:
Mobos:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO

Video card:
MSI N560GTX-TI GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB

Case:
Antec Three Hundred
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by jdmlight » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:52 am

Black Six wrote:So, in addition to what's been posted here's some other components I've been looking at. Please feel free to comment and make suggestions:
Mobos:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3
ASUS P8Z68-V PRO

Video card:
MSI N560GTX-TI GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB

Case:
Antec Three Hundred
Mobos: You pretty much can't go wrong with an Asus or GIgabyte mobo. I have Gigabyte mobos, ketchup has Asus, and I think Squintus also has Asus, though he might have Gigabyte, I don't remember. No issues. (Obviously read the reviews, occasionally there'll be a dud) ECS mobos are terrible, I'd avoid them.

Video card: http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/high_end_gpus.html. Granted this is only one benchmark suite, but it gives you a good idea of how the various cards compare in the same system. So a GeForce GTX 560 Ti would be similar in performance to an AMD 6850 or 6970. And a 6850 is about $70-100 cheaper, like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6814161363 But therefore you could keep the GeForce 560, GeForce 560Ti, Radeon 6850, and Radeon 6970 in mind depending on what sales are going on.

Case: That's a good case. Though, cases are just about guaranteed to go on sale on Black Friday. The Antec 900 will probably be $60 again, it seems to have been that for the past couple of years (I bought mine when it was $60 on Black Friday years ago).
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by jaqiefox » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:58 am

the only problem with asus motherboards is if you dont fuel them with a high end power supply they slowly die over time. a couple years and they go splat and usually take something with them. Ive been a PC tech first as a livelihood and now as a hobby/enthusiast/my obsession in life for about 16 years now, and Ive lost count of the number of asus boards that have crapped themselves after 1 and a half years of use because the psu wasnt a really overbought high end one.

if you want to try to save a bit and go with a budget but quality psu (like I do, using a pc power & cooling, fortron source products, or sparkle power international psu thats around 400w) you should go with gigabyte, they dont die under those conditions, and are just every bit as good otherwise.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by jdmlight » Thu Nov 17, 2011 1:05 pm

jaqiefox wrote:the only problem with asus motherboards is if you dont fuel them with a high end power supply they slowly die over time. a couple years and they go splat and usually take something with them. Ive been a PC tech first as a livelihood and now as a hobby/enthusiast/my obsession in life for about 16 years now, and Ive lost count of the number of asus boards that have crapped themselves after 1 and a half years of use because the psu wasnt a really overbought high end one.

if you want to try to save a bit and go with a budget but quality psu (like I do, using a pc power & cooling, fortron source products, or sparkle power international psu thats around 400w) you should go with gigabyte, they dont die under those conditions, and are just every bit as good otherwise.
400w (even single-rail) is a bit small for a computer with the specs that Black Six is looking for. I wouldn't disregard Asus motherboards since they are one of the more commonly-supported for OSX86. Also, on a $1000-1500 DIY PC budget, an overbought high-end power supply makes sense. Especially since tighter voltage regulation present on the more expensive power supplies will extend the life of all components, not just the motherboard. $100-200 for a power supply is only about 10% of the cost of the whole build, which is appropriate.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by jaqiefox » Thu Nov 17, 2011 8:54 pm

*shrug* it was just fair warning for anyone reading this thread, and 400w was just an example.

when I post it's not just for the OP, but for general knowledge.

If you notice the wording, I said it's what I do, as in for my own systems.
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Re: Specing Out a PC

Post by Black Six » Fri Nov 25, 2011 9:31 pm

Woo! I've got a build log now.
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