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Old 09-19-2011, 09:18 PM   #1
mfenn
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Default Attention Mid-Range System Builders - Updated 02/22/2015

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

02/22/2015 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI combo $325 AR
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $55 AP
Gigabyte R9 290X 4GB $290 AR
Crucial BX100 250GB $100
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $51
ASUS DVD Burner $20
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
Corsair 200R $60
Total: $966 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Team DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $105.
- There is an R9 270 for $130 AR and an R9 280X 3GB for $190 AR 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $23 AR

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

02/15/2015 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI combo $320 AR
Kingston DDR3 1866 8GB $61
MSI GTX 970 4GB $310 AR AP
Crucial BX100 250GB $95
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $51
Samsung DVD Burner $16 AP
EVGA SuperNova NEX 650 G $70 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $973 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this G.Skill DDR3 1866 16GB kit for $113.
- There is an R9 280 3GB for $170 AR and an R9 290 4GB 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $23 AR

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

02/08/2015 update:
i5 4690K + Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z97 combo $320
Mushkin DDR3 1600 8GB $60
MSI R9 290X 4GB $280 AR
Crucial MX100 256GB $105
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $53
Lite-ON DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec TP-750C $50 AR
NZXT H230 $60
Total: $942 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Team DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $115.
- There is an R9 270 2GB for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $160 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $23 AR

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

02/01/2015 update:
i5 4690K + MSI Z97S SLI Krait $295 AR
Crucial DDR3 1600 8GB $64
MSI GTX 970 4GB $320 AP
OCZ ARC 100 240GB $80 AR
WD Blue 1TB $55
LG DVD Burner $15 AP
Seasonic S12II 620W $65
NZXT H230 $60
Total: $954 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Mushkin DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $120.
- There is an R9 270 2GB for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $170 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

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

01/25/2015 update:
i5 4690K $240
ASRock Z97 Killer $95 AR
Kingston DDR3 1866 8GB $67
Zotac GTX 970 4GB $320 AP
Crucial MX100 256GB $109
WD Blue 1TB $55
Samsung DVD Burner $14 AP
Antec TP-650C $50 AR
NZXT H230 $55
Total: $1005 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Team DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $120.
- There is an R9 270X 2GB for $150 AR and an R9 290 4GB 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $18 AR.

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

01/18/2015 update:
i5 4690K + GA-Z97X-SLI + G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB combo $411
Zotac GTX 970 4GB $330
Crucial MX100 256GB $109
WD Blue 1TB $55
ASUS DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 650 G $60 AR
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $1030 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this G.Skill DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $120.
- There is an R9 270 2GB for $130 AR and an R9 280 3GB for $150 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $18 AR.

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

01/11/2015 update:
i5 4690K $240
ASRock Z97 Killer $90 AR
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $69
Zotac GTX 970 4GB $330
Crucial MX100 256GB $111
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $55
Lite-ON DVD Burner $15 AP
EVGA SuperNOVA NEX 650 G $75 AR
NZXT Source 220 $50
Total: $1035 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Team DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $125.
- There is an R9 270 2GB for $140 AR and an GTX 760 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $18 AR.

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

01/04/2015 update:
i5 4690K $230 AP
ASRock Z97 Pro4 $95 AR
G.Skill DDR3 1600 8GB $66
Zotac GTX 970 4GB $330
Crucial M500 240GB $80
Seagate 7200RPM 1TB $54
Lite-ON DVD Burner $13 AP
Antec NeoECO 620C $50 AR
Corsair 200R $50 AR
Total: $968 AR AP

- For multi-tasking and productivity applications, you might want to also upgrade to this Team DDR3 1600 16GB kit for $123.
- There is an R9 280 3GB for $150 AR and an R9 280X 3GB for $215 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 Zalman CNPS10X for $18 AR.

Last edited by mfenn; 02-22-2015 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:26 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, 10:48 PM   #3
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That sums up my feelings.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:26 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, 04:27 PM   #5
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Stickystickysticky!
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Old 09-20-2011, 09:17 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, 12:24 PM   #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, 12:28 PM   #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, 01:02 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, 01:04 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, 01:07 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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Old 09-21-2011, 01:07 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, 01:09 PM   #13
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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, 01:12 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, 01:15 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, 01:17 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, 01:22 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, 01:25 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, 01:35 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, 01:46 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, 01:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
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This
At least someone gets it.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:01 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, 03:01 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, 03:51 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, 04:19 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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