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Old 09-19-2011, 08:18 PM   #1
mfenn
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Default Attention Mid-Range System Builders - Updated 7/27/2014

Our very own Sleepingforest has written a nice guide that lays out what these parts do in simple terms.

Some terms for the uninitiated:
AP = After Promo (code)
AR = After (mail-in) Rebate

7/27/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 $324 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $75
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $260 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $110
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $954 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $148.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $345 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

7/20/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97-G55 $339
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $72
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $280 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $112
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $14 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $50 AR AP
NZXT H230 $40 AR AP
Total: $962 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $150.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $145 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $217 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $340 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

7/13/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97 Gaming 5 combo $360
ADATA DDR3 1600 8GB $73
HIS R9 280X 3GB $280 AR AP
Mushkin Chronos 240GB $100
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $60
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12G-650 $62 AR
Corsair 200R $40 AR AP
Total: $990 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $135.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $190 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the spectrum is the R9 290 4GB for $350 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $25 AR.

----------------

7/6/2014 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97 Gaming 5 combo $360
Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600 8GB $73
ASUS R9 280X 3GB $268 AR AP
PNY XLR8 240GB $100 AR
HGST Enterprise 7200RPM 1TB $50
Samsung DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12G-650 $70 AR
NZXT H230 $40 AR
Total: $976 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $138.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $145 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

6/27/2014 update:
i5 4670K $220 AP
ASRock Z97 Pro3 $100
Geil DDR3 1600 8GB $73
Gigabyte R9 290 4GB $320 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $110
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
Lite-ON DVD Burner $15 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $50 AR AP
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $993 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $133.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $139 AR AP and an R9 280X 3GB for $240 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $30 AR.

----------------

6/22/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z97X-SLI combo $339
Kingston DDR3 1600 8GB $70
XFX R9 280X 3GB $250 AR
Crucial M500 240GB $110
WD Blue 1TB $60
Samsung DVD Burner $15 AP
Rosewill Hive 650W $54 AR AP
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $948 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $137.
- There is a R9 270X 2GB available for $160 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $210 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the scale, you can get a non-reference cooler R9 290 4GB for $390 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30 AR.

----------------

6/15/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z97X-SLI combo $345 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $65
PowerColor R9 280X 3GB $258 AR AP
PNY XLR8 240GB $100 AR
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $15 AP
Enermax 650W $55 AR AP
NZXT H230 $40 AR
Total: $933 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $130.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $225 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the scale, you can get a non-reference cooler R9 290 4GB for $351 AR AP.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

6/8/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z97X-SLI combo $325 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $65
HIS R9 280X 3GB $245 AR AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $110
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
Samsung DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA NEX 650G $60 AR
NZXT H230 $40 AR
Total: $915 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $130.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the scale, you can get a non-reference cooler R9 290 4GB for $330 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Arctic Cooling i30 for $40.

----------------

6/1/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z97X-SLI combo $325 AR
Team DDR3 1600 8GB $65
PowerColor R9 280X $250 AR
PNY XLR8 240GB $100 AR
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55 AP
LG DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
NZXT H230 $50 AR
Total: $925 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $128.
- There is a R9 270X 2GB available for $150 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the scale, you can get a non-reference cooler R9 290 4GB for $380 AR.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Arctic Cooling i30 for $40.

----------------

5/25/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z87X-HD3 combo $310 AR
Kingston DDR3 1600 8GB $65
PowerColor R9 280X $270 AR
PNY XLR8 Pro 120GB $60 AR
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55 AP
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA NEX G 650W $70 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $895 AR AP

- The Crucial M500 240GB for $115 is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to 16GB of RAM for $130.
- There is a 7870 2GB available for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $200 AR AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance. At the other end of the scale, you can get a reference-cooler R9 290 4GB for $301 AR AP (be warned, high noise output). Thanks to NYF for pointing this out.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

5/18/2014 update:
i5 4670K + GA-Z87X-HD3 combo $327 AR
Kingston DDR3 1600 8GB $65
HIS R9 280X 3GB $270 AR AP
PNY XLR8 120GB $60
WD Blue 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA NEX G 650W $70 AR
Corsair 200R $60
Total: $927 AR AP

- The PNY XLR8 Pro 240GB for $110 AR is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is a R9 270 2GB available for $150 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $189 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212 EVO for $30 AR.

----------------

5/11/2014 update:
i5 4670K $220 AP
ASRock Z87 Pro3 $90 AR
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $70
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $290 AR
PNY XLR8 120GB $60
WD Blue 1TB $60
Lite-ON DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA NEX G 650W $70 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $925 AR AP

- The Crucial M500 240GB for $120 is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is a 7870 2GB available for $140 AR and an R9 270X 2GB for $190 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

5/4/2014 update:
i5 4670K + MSI Z87-G55 + G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB combo $404 AR
PowerColor R9 280X $280 AR
PNY XLR8 Pro $60 AR
WD Blue 1TB $60
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
XFX Core 650W $80 AR
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $949 AR AP

- The Crucial M500 240GB for $120 is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is a 7850 2GB available for $100 AR and an R9 270X for $200 if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

4/27/2014 update:
i5 4670K + MSI Z87-G55 + G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB combo $399 AR
Sapphire R9 280X 3GB $300
Crucial M500 120GB $67 AR
WD Blue 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $15 AP
Antec NeoECO 620C $55 AR
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $946 AR AP

- The PNY XLR8 240GB for $100 AR is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is a 7870 2GB available for $140 AR and a GTX 760 for $230 AR if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $20 AR.

----------------

4/20/2014 update:
i5 4670K + MSI Z87-G55 + G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB combo $369 AR
PowerColor R9 280X 3GB $300 AR
PNY XLR8 Pro $70
WD Blue 1TB $60
LG DVD Burner $20
Antec TP-650C $75 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $944 AR AP

- The Crucial M500 240GB for $115 is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is a 7850 2GB available for $110 AR and a R9 270X for $200 if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

----------------

4/13/2014 update:
i5 4670K + MSI Z87-G43 Gaming + G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB combo $409 AR
PowerColor R9 280X $310 AR
Crucial M500 120GB $76
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55 AP
Lite-ON DVD Burner $15 AP
Rosewill HIVE 650W $65
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $980 AR AP

- The trick with Newegg gift cards is to make an order with the gift card promo, wait until they email you the code, and then make another order.
- The PNY XLR8 Pro 240GB for $110 AR is a good alternative SSD if you want some more storage space.
- There is an GTX 750 Ti available for $130 AR AP and a R9 270X for $189 AP if you want to spend less but still get good gaming performance.
- If you intend to OC (the system is capable) grab an aftermarket HSF like the Hyper 212+ for $30.

Last edited by mfenn; Yesterday at 06:28 PM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfenn View Post
i5 2500K $220
ASRock Z68 Pro3 $105
G.Skill DDR3 1333 8GB $41
6950 2GB $240 AR
Crucial M4 128GB $200
Samsung F3 1TB $60
Samsung DVD Burner $18
Antec HCG-520 $58 AP
Corsair 400R $80 AR
Total: $1022 AR AP

$1000 for the second best Intel CPU, the second best AMD GPU, and a damn good SSD.

That is all.
Oops, lol I did it too.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:48 PM   #3
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That sums up my feelings.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:26 AM   #4
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ah, i remember when the reviewers put up buyer's guides every month

sticky this
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:27 PM   #5
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Stickystickysticky!
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Old 09-20-2011, 08:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spikesoldier View Post
ah, i remember when the reviewers put up buyer's guides every month

sticky this
Quote:
Originally Posted by T_Yamamoto View Post
Stickystickysticky!
/me takes a bow
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:24 AM   #7
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The build looks great. My only suggestion would be to get the GTX 570 instead of the 6950 2GB, since currently it is only $40 more.
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Old 09-21-2011, 11:28 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
The build looks great. My only suggestion would be to get the GTX 570 instead of the 6950 2GB, since currently it is only $40 more.
so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:02 PM   #9
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Also worth a look if you want a future-proof system:

Core i5-2500K: $220
AsRock P67 Extreme4 Gen3: $155
G.Skill 8GB DDR3 1333: $41
Sapphire Radeon HD 6870: $170; $150AR
Crucial M4 128GB: $200
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB: $60
LG DVD Burner: $17
XFX Core Edition Pro 650W: $90; $60AR
Antec Three Hundred Illusion: $70 or Corsair Carbide 400R: $100; $80AR
Total: $1023; $983 AR

If you don't need an extremely fast SSD but would still like to get decent capacity for a much lower price, you can take a look at the Kingston SSDNow V+100 96GB for $130. Going that route will still let you put important programs and some games on it and you can keep the $70.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:04 PM   #10
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so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
And that performance increase comes at the cost of 40% less VRAM. If they cost the same, I'd consider them equals.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #11
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so like 15% more money for about 5% difference in performance? Why?
Future proofing. In some of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
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Last edited by Xerin7; 09-21-2011 at 12:12 PM.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:07 PM   #12
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And that performance increase comes at the cost of 40% less VRAM. If they cost the same, I'd consider them equals.
With a 30% increase in power consumption
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Future proofing. In many of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
most of those evened out with driver changes, and there are plenty of games that favour ATI GPU's as well that's why you dont include outliars.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
Future proofing. In many of those benchmarks, the GTX570 is 40% faster, and games are only going to become more demanding with time. Well worth the extra $40 in my opinion, but YMMV.
The GTX 570 IS NOT 40% faster than a 6950 2GB. If you think it is, I have a tropical paradise I can sell you in Alaska.

It's 10% faster in most games, but looking at very recent ones it's around 15% faster.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:15 PM   #15
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to be honest 570 or 6950 it matters little, pick whichever performs best for the games you prefer.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:17 PM   #16
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The GTX 570 IS NOT 40% faster than a 6950 2GB. If you think it is, I have a tropical paradise I can sell you in Alaska.

It's 10% faster in most games, but looking at very recent ones it's around 15% faster.
15% faster for 15% higher cost, and potentially an even bigger difference depending on which games you play.

You do start to lose price/performance when you move to the GTX 580.

I'm not an Nvidia fanboi. I was seriously considering the 6950 2GB, but ultimately pulled the trigger on the GTX 570 yesterday for those reasons.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:22 PM   #17
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to be honest 570 or 6950 it matters little, pick whichever performs best for the games you prefer.
This
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:25 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xerin7 View Post
15% faster for 15% higher cost, and potentially an even bigger difference depending on which games you play.

You do start to lose price/performance when you move to the GTX 580.

I'm not an Nvidia fanboi. I was seriously considering the 6950 2GB, but ultimately pulled the trigger on the GTX 570 yesterday for those reasons.
Or even smaller. We can all cherry pick NVIDIA or AMD biased benchmarks, but what it comes down to is 10-15% faster on average.

And then what about 2560x1440/3840x1080 or higher? The difference between them both pretty much vanishes at very high resolutions and a 6950 2GB CF is a more viable route because of it, making the 6950 the better bang-for-buck. The 6950 1GB performs the same as the 2GB at 1920x1080 and can be had for less, making it a better value proposition given the 10-15% difference in performance and 30% difference in cost.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:35 PM   #19
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Thumbs up Mid-Range revisions for photographers?

This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:46 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Photomoe61 View Post
This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
If you aren't doing 3D work or anything like that then you could probably get away with integrated graphics as with photo work RAM and maybe some CPU power will be your biggest influence. And the PSU if going with integrated graphics is over kill by a LOT, you would only use maybe 200w if you really aren't going with a GPU then this would work fine.
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Old 09-21-2011, 12:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by titan131 View Post
This
At least someone gets it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:01 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photomoe61 View Post
This configuration fits into my budget (up to $1200 or so), but I won't be gaming at all, but will be a heavy user of Photoshop CS5 and Lightroom. All of my other computing will be done with an existing laptop.

I would double RAM to 16GB and probably double-up on the Samsung HD, with one HD as my scratch drive.

I won't be editing video, so do I really need a $240 graphics card for still image editing? If not, what would you recommend?

Is that case appropriate for this kind of use or would a lower-cost case work just as well? Which?

Is the power supply adequate for the additional RAM and HD, especially if a less expensive graphics card is more appropriate/adequate?

Thanks in advance for your wisdom/advice.
I would recommend getting a 30-60GB SSD for cache drive use with the Z68 mainboard.

The second hard disk and 16GB RAM sounds good too.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:01 PM   #23
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OP, thanks for the list ! Looks good for anyone that is looking for a Z68/2500k build.

I only have a part or two to go to finish off my build, but blew my budget in a hurry with a $285 case. I could have bought a second 6950 Toxic for that same price, but my Antec P180b was just not getting the cooling job done any more.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:51 PM   #24
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So Mfenn, on a scale of 1-10 how hard do you think it is for a 1st time builder to assemble the PC from parts using online guides.
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Old 09-21-2011, 03:19 PM   #25
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Can I answer? 4. Or, relatively easy. It's not something you can do with your left hand while watching a movie. But anyone who has at least a mild capacity for learning will comprehend the guides, and anyone who can concentrate for a few hours to work in a careful, organized, step-by-step manner on a task will not find the assembly process difficult.

As always when doing some task for the first time, you don't need to expect yourself to be perfect when performing the task in order to arrive successfully at the desired end result. I assembled a computer when I was 15 and I didn't know crap about PC components. I just tried to do what the guides told me and it was fine.

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