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Planning a new PC. Update: Built, benchmarked, pictures!


Trent's picture
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Planning a new PC. Update: Built, benchmarked, pictures!
#1 Submitted: Thu, 09/06/2016 - 21:45

I might be building a new PC in the coming months and have been pricing up some specs for it but I could do with a bit of advice on what parts to get. This isn't the usual sort of "what GPU or CPU should I get, how much ram?" sort of post, I know the big bits already:

Core i7 6700K
GeForce 1080
32gb RAM
~500gb SSD
A few tb of HDD

So I'm clear enough on the big bits but I've not built a desktop in about a decade as my last couple of PCs have been Clevo-based notebooks, so I am a bit rusty on the other bits and bobs. Here's my questions:

What motherboard brands are good these days? Is there much difference between the expensive boards and the ones around £100? Any specific motherboards?

Any advice on cases?

What CPU coolers are good?

What PSU brand is reliable? Would 500w be enough? 750w?

Does the more premium brands memory really make that much of a difference?

Anything else I should consider?

Edited by: Trent on 14/07/2016 - 18:14

Tonrac's picture
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Submitted: Thu, 09/06/2016 - 22:32

Asus make great motherboard like the ASUS Z170 PRO Gaming. That allow easy OC of the cpu and support memory with xmp profile
A large choice for connecting a ssd (sata 3, M2, sata express )
And made with excellent electronic component.
It 's an exemple, some other brand are also good.

For the CPU cooler, the
Noctua NH-U12P SE2 is a good choice, keep your cpu cool, not noisy and not really expensive.

Good Ddr4 Memory xmp 3400mhz will give a little boost of memory bandwith to the cpu ... in game You will have almost zero gain. but it could give 5% boost on some application. My liking go to corsair memory cause i have compatibity issue with gskill memory in the past (but that's my humble experience, i had maybe a faulty ram).

For the PSU , buy a good 80% efficiency psu (seasonic, corsair, enermax) 550w is enough for a single Gpu ... if You want to make a sli configuration in the future ... it's better to have a 800W psu.

Like i play on a laptop for some years now, others could correct me if i am wrong ... (some brand could be good in the past and are maybe average or bad now).

I hope that it will help You a little. I wish that your new machine will boost all your project of mod for Carmageddon ;)

Edited by: Tonrac on Thu, 09/06/2016 - 23:05
lemonrev's picture
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Submitted: Thu, 09/06/2016 - 22:50

hey Trent, If your going to build a desktop from scratch, then remember that cpu's are just like what they where when they had pin's but now they are more flat square boards that just slot into the cpu part :P.

Power depends on what you really need for the titan gpu.

As for pc boards Tonrac has mentioned a few, but honestly there more mainstream computer sellers will only sell certain brands anyway and the rate at witch they get made i would say there all roughly the same, All boards can be good but it also depends if you want to go SLI and how the board handles say the ram and how many slots the things got. ie PCIe 2 / 3 slots

Memory can depend on mhz speed like Tonrac's post.

I personally think sata's are far too young to buy up, but as for using for os's apparently they are good. Have fun.,

Trent's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 18:21

Heh, yeah, the last PC I built for myself was a Pentium D which I think was the chip Intel introduced the pin-less design on so I'm prepared for that ;)

Thanks, guys, it's been a big help. The ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming was actually one of the boards I was leaning towards before I frowned and decided to ask for opinions, so I'm glad to hear it's recommended. Here's the complete spec list I'm currently looking at now:

CPU: Core i7 6700k
Motherboard: ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming Mobo
GPU: Zotac Geforce GTX 1080 AMP
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32gb (4x8gb) 2666mhz
CPU Fan: Noctua NH-U12S Slim Cooler
Case: Fractal Design Define R5 Case
PSU: Corsair CX 750W Wired PSU
SSD: SanDisk Ultra II 480GB
HDD: Toshiba X300 6TB
WiFi: TP-Link AC1900

I've tried to keep a balance between price and capabilities for most of it, given so much is being spent on the CPU and GPU, so going for the 2666mhz memory seemed to be the sweet spot, similarly the SanDisk seemed to be the best balance price and quality at that size, as is the toshiba at it's size.

I couldn't live without an SSD after using them in my current and previous machines, they really make the system boat along, but i do want to make sure ive got plenty of room on it as im constantly fighting for space with a 128gb SSD as so much software dumps all their data on C regardless of settings or space or where they are installed, it drives me insane. I had to manually set up symlinks to redirect itunes' iOS backups folders to E: because it tried backing up my 64gb iPad with only 20gb free on C: without checking for space or giving the option to use another drive, leaving no space for Windows to actually run properly. Then an iTunes update silently changed the backup location slightly so it backed up to C: again. Thanks apple. so, yeah 480gb should be a big enough SSD to avoid issues and let me stick some games on it.

I found a nifty power calculator online which takes your basic specs and it tells you what wattage you psu needs to be. According to it, 750w should be plenty if I decide to add another 1080 for SLI later on.

one last question: what thermal paste is recommended?

Tonrac's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 18:36

For the thermal paste, i use innovation cooling diamond 24 but the gelid extreme is good too ... you could make your choice by checking this

In desktop, like you have more space for the component to be cooled, the quality of thermal paste is less important* unless you oc your Cpu (*i don't say it's not important) ...

If you could spend some extra cash buy the sandisk ultra II 960Go to have the space to put in it some game that take advantage of the SSD ... (like Carmageddon R) ...

Edited by: Tonrac on Fri, 10/06/2016 - 18:57
Fr0nt's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 18:56

the only thing i wouldnt do, is that 6TB disk, if it dies, thats a lot of data gone, or if you get a warning it is dying, thats a lot of data to backup. I cant comment on that disk itself, but i have had my fair share of dying 3TB disks from WD, Seagate and Toshiba to know its a pain in the ass.

Unless you have a good backup system planned, then you're good to go.

just my 2 cents.

Tonrac's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 19:11

Hum! Fr0nt is right. Why not reducing the capacity of the hdd to 4 or 3 tb and make a Raid 1 for securing the Data ... or if you have gold in your hand buy a second 6Gb HDD to make your raid 1 (motherboard support it ) ... because it will be a disaster if you loose 6Gb of Carmageddon Mod ;)

Edited by: Tonrac on Fri, 10/06/2016 - 19:13
Trent's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 20:15

Hmm, I totally hadn't considered drive reliability. It certainly does suck balls when drives die, I guess it would probably be best to go for 3 2tb drives or 2 3tb to reduce the risk of it all dying at once and have some redundancy. Probably safest to go for the 3 drive setup.

The main reasons I was looking at a single big one instead of a few smaller ones were the extra power consumption, noise and heat of running multiple drive, with a side helping of having space to add more in the future. The one time I had major hard drive failure was pretty much due to having too many (I think 4 or 5) drives in the computer and not enough airflow between them to keep them cool, causing the big one (it was absolutely massive, a whole 300gb) to catastrophically fail due to the constant heat sandwiching it over a long period (it was almost never turned off).

But that was using a case which only had enough bays for that many drives and was not designed with especially good airflow so I'd guess it wouldn't be as big a problem with the Fractal case as it has a ton of bays so the drives could be spaced out and it's designed with airflow in mind.

Regarding the SSD, going for a 960gb is probably pushing past the budget a bit but I think 480gb should do me fine. If usage stays in line with what I currently have (it stays around 10gb free of 118gb as long as I keep on top of clearing temp files of certain software), then I should get between 300 and 350gb of spare space on the 480gb and I definitely won't be putting that many games on it, most will be on the HDDs.

Tonrac's picture
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Submitted: Fri, 10/06/2016 - 20:38

Don't forget also that Raid1 or Raid 5 is a security but will not eliminate all the risk ... the better way to avoid loosing data is to copy them in different media (external HDD ...), the difficulty is to keep all those data up to date ...

The new case will cool your Hdd efficiently i think.
The power consumption won't be a problem with the 750w psu. The noise depend of the drive ... but huge progress had been made since your 300Gb hard drive and the case should reduce it at the point You couldn't heard them.

Edited by: Tonrac on Fri, 10/06/2016 - 22:36
flynia's picture
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Submitted: Sat, 11/06/2016 - 00:17

For my desktop PC I am currently using two 3TB Drives in RAID 1 for Storage which gives me a quick easy backup of my data. A couple of Western Digital Blues is my personal taste of the manufacturer front however it comes down to personal taste really... long story short HDDs are generally only made by either Seagate or WD... so choices are limited.

I also have 2 512 GB Crucial M550 SSDs with the first running Windows and a few choice applications and then the other running a few of my favorite games.

As for PSU... anything around the 750W mark should be fine for what you have listed. Personally I go for the Platinum series but a Gold should be fine as well. I have had a good run with the Corsair HX750i and highly recommend one of those. They also have high Wattage ones should you require.

CPU: Intel i7 4770k
RAM: 32GB G.Skill TridentX
GPU: ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 Strix 8GB OC‎
STORAGE: 2 x Crucial M550 512GB and 3TB Seagate
SOUND: ASTRO A40 + MixAMP via Soundblaster Z
CASE: Thermaltake Armor Revo

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Submitted: Sat, 11/06/2016 - 13:45

Trent, will you be over clocking any components?

I've got an Asus sabre tooth z87 with a 4740k i7 plopped in it. Very good at controlling Temps with comprehensive temperature monitoring and a few nice features which I think come with Asus mobos in general. The AI Suite (I think it is called) is nice for controlling fan speeds and setting up custom fan profiles for your case and CPU and the USB bios flashing tool is quite nice and relatively risk free. The bios interface is really straightforward as well, nice UI, clearly set out and easy to use. I had some issues with mobo identifying correct Ram speed and it was a single click solution to set the correct timing. Additionally, really easy to overclock CPU if you are that way inclined, with the ability to save custom OC profiles.

In terms of CPU cooling I experimented with some water cooling which you can see in the video below but ended up using the stock CPU cooler in the end because the set up was a bit of an experiment and logistically a bit of a nightmare. Even so the Intel stock cooler wasn't actually that bad. Temps don't really go above 50degC but I think that's largely due to decent case ventilation and the little extra fans and airflow measures promoted by the mobo. Under water I wasn't exceeding 35degC at 4.6Gig, was really nice and stable.

Power wise I use a superflower platinum 1kW PSU. Looks great and has quite a sexy little illuminated connection where each cable is connected and in use. Although I've found over time this is a slight annoyance as there is no option to switch it off and it'd screw up any case lighting you might have in mind, again if that's your inclination. Came with a shit load of cables, although annoyingly could've done with an additional combined 6+2 6+2 cable for GPU's as I've got 2 GPU's in SLI. Mind you, this will be less of an issue if you're using a 1080 which I think is a single 8pin power supply?

Casewise I went for a Thermaltake Urban S71 (full tower) which looks good and is great for tool-less drive installation etc. Loads of space for fans as well so case can be kept cool easily. The only criticism of Thermaltake is their UK customer support is non existent. Like literally no-one around. I reckon if you kicked up enough fuss on social media they'd probably come back to you but I couldn't be bothered with that approach (I damaged the front door of the case with my huge ape feet - and considered a replacement).

That 1080 will mince anything though, nice choice. What resolution you looking at, or considering VR? Exciting spec there.

Edited by: RiOrus on Mon, 13/06/2016 - 09:46