Help me with my i7 Gaming Rig Build

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Junior Member
Mar 19, 2014
Hi All -

I'm anticipating XP's End of Life next month on my i7-920 dual-SLI rig, and could use your help with a new build. The PC is used for everything, but the performance-intensive tasks are 1) video ripping and conversion, and 2) solo gaming on a 1080p monitor. I have probably three dozen game titles installed including very heavily-modded Fallout 3, New Vegas, Oblivion and Skyrim, and I want to have some degree of future-proofing for new games. I don't think I could have picked two hobbies that conflict more when it comes to CPU/GPU demands, but there it is.
I'll be cannibalizing whatever I can from the old rig. My budget permits as much as $2500 USD, but I'm working hard to keep it at $2K.
It appears that most of Haswell's 22nm of real estate is allocated to a crossover into mobile platforms rather than on-board graphics or computational firepower, so I'm operating on the assumption that this may well be my last desktop build. I hope to get 3-5 years of use out of this drive-train.
So far, these are some of the components I've researched. Can you help with advice?

I'm using the Haswell i7-4770k as my benchmark for this build but have had server processors in previous workstations, and love them, so I'm paying close attention to Xeon; in addition, I've always bought over-clockable components, but I've never actually performed an overclock, so the 'K' suffix isn't really essential to this build.

LGA 1150 - Haswell i7-4770k [FONT=Times New Roman, serif]@ 3.5 GHz - $340 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]LGA 1150 – Haswell Denlow Xeon E3-1270 v3 or E3-1275 v3 @ 3.5 GHz - $350 USD[/FONT]
LGA 2011 – Ivy Bridge-EP X[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]eon [/FONT][FONT=Times New Roman, serif]E5-1620 v2 @ 3.7 GHz - $310 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]LGA 2011 – Ivy Bridge-E i7-4820k @ 3.7 GHz - $325 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]MAINBOARD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]I've done no real research into the LGA 2011 boards yet; it's all Z87 at this point. I've used ASUS boards with no complaint on my last few builds, but have Gigabyte, MSI and ECS on my list. I couldn't bring myself to include ASRock products in my final break-down – NewEgg reviews are brutal![/FONT]
Specific MB features?
AUDIO: Not an issue; I'll throw a board in later.
WIFI & Bluetooth: I'd prefer none; Better to upgrade via PCIx rather than be dependent upon MB chips.
PCIE3 LANES: I honestly think I'll just use one good GPU this time instead of fiddling with SLI. Right?
NIC: Some of these Gigabyte & MSI products are using the Qualcomm E2200-Series 'Killer' NIC chips on their boards – an itch in the back of my head tells me that this driver's traffic-shaping ambitions are more trouble than they are worth. I really want an out-of-the-box network solution. I do a lot of file-sharing, but absolutely no on-line gaming. Your thoughts?
HDMI & DISPLAY-PORT: These are future-proofing features for me; when this PC reaches End-of-Life as my gaming rig, it would become an HTPC – it looks like HDMI v2 and D-PORT could be vital.
Can I use one monitor passing-through 4k video from the CPU and one monitor using the PCI16 GPU card. Will the BIOS permit both inputs?
I'm also seeing 'Lucid Virtu MVP2' on the MSI boards promising cooperation between the on-chip GPU and the PCI GPU – I'm not prepared to accept this at face value - comment please!
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]Looking at:[/FONT]

[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Z87-Pro (V-Edition) - $195 USD[/FONT]
[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ECS Z87H3-A4 (1.0) - $80 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Maximus VI Hero - $200 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]MSI Z87-GD65 Gaming - $190 USD[/FONT]
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[FONT=Times New Roman, serif]ASUS Sabertooth Z87 - $240 USD[/FONT]
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Gigabyte G1.Sniper Z87 - $165 USD
ECS L337 Gaming Z87H3-A3X Gank Drone (v1.0) - $95 USD

I think I will stick with DDR3-1600 memory here. I can't discern whether the Xeon platform permits memory overclocking; ARK just lists 1600 as top-speed, and the NewEgg reviews confuse me! Perhaps I can just load this initial build with 32GB of top-notch DDR-3 at spec, and upgrade later. All I really see at this point is that all of a sudden G.Skill is the boss. True that?
How about two sets of these?

G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) F3-1600C9D-16GXM - $320 USD

I'm not well-informed about SSDs yet but will certainly be using one for the OS and game installations. My current PC takes exactly one zillion years to boot to desktop. It looks like my present system partition is using about 300GB; I would like to future-proof a bit here since it looks like games like Titanfall use as much as 45GB for a base install.
I'm presently using a partition on a second disk for my page file, and a partition on the main disk for scratch files. I guess I'm looking at two discrete SSDs for these functions, 128GB for scratch, and 64GB for page file. It's been a while since I've done this math, so please give me your advice. If I go with the Z87 platform, and I'm sure I will, I will have 32GB of memory on-board.
Having been so long on 20th-Century XP, I'm accustomed to using mechanical drives for my data storage. Is it going to be okay for me to move my Data partition to a platter or hybrid drive, or will I be defeating the whole purpose of SSD boot?
I also don't use much of my present secondary mechanical hard drive, aside from swap; my music and video files are on bare drives I access through a caddy, so I am not even sure I need a platter drive in this rig. Comments?
That said, here are some of the solutions I'm considering:

Samsung 840 EVO 1TB - $480 USD
Crucial M500 960GB - $440 USD

Kingston V300 120GB - $75 USD

SanDisk ReadyCache SDSSDRC-032G-G26 32GB - $45 USD

2T, Seagate Barracuda ST2000DM001 2TB 7200 RPM 64MB - $90 USD
2T, Seagate Hybrid Drive ST2000DX001 2TB MLC/8GB 64MB - $120 USD
3TB, Western Digital Red NAS Hard Drive WD30EFRX 3TB IntelliPower 64MB - $135 USD
3TB, HGST Deskstar NAS H3IKNAS30003272SN(0S03660) 3TB 7200 RPM 64MB - $150 USD
3TB, Seagate Barracuda 7200.14 ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM 64 - $110 USD
4TB, Seagate 4TB Barracuda 64 MB Cache – ST4000DM000 -$150 USD
4TB, WD Red WD40EFRX 4TB IntelliPower 64MB - $185 USD
4TB, WD Purple WD40PURX 4TB SATA - $190 USD – [Out of Stock]

I've been using a pair of EVGA GTX260s in SLI on my current PC, but I'm anxious to see heavily-modded Skyrim and Oblivion on a better set-up. I think maybe my money is better spent on one very good GPU, and I can abandon the dual-card set-up. True?
My shopping so far:

ASUS GTX780-DC20C-3GD5 GTX 780 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 - $520 USD
EVGA SuperClocked 03G-94-2783-KR GTX 780 3GB 384-bit GDDR5 - $530 USD

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-bit OEM - $190 USD

I'm using a Prolimatech Megahalems CPU Cooler on my present i7, with lots of good fans in push-pull in an Antec 900 case, with no complaint; the system is operated at stock speeds, and SpeedFan shows 145F as I write this. I know that's high but I probably have several rabbits worth of dust and debris in the case. I haven't considered water-cooling until now, and haven't done much research yet, but would welcome your advice on the best inexpensive cooling solution for the new build.
I'm looking at:

AIR, a repeat of my existing Prolimatech Megahalems Rev C Intel - $60 USD
AIR, Prolimatech Pro- GNSS Genesis Universal - $72 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-U12S 120x120x25 (NF-F12 PWM) SSO2-Bearing - $70 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-U14S 140x150x25 (NF-A15 PWM) SSO2-Bearing - $76 USD
AIR, Noctua NH-D14 120mm & 140mm SSO - $86 USD
AIR, Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 120mm PWM Fan - $35 USD
AIR, SilenX EFZ-120HA5 120mm Fluid Dynamic - $26 USD
WATER, Corsair Hydro Series H75 CW-9060015-WW Water/Liquid 120mm - $70 USD
WATER, Corsair Hydro Series H80i High Performance Water/Liquid 120mm - $90 USD

I'd like to use my existing Corsair TX750W in the new build; since I'm dropping down to one CPU, I hope this will be adequate. I think mine is probably revision 1, but here is a rev2 item -

I'd also like to use my existing Antec 900 case for the new system; mine was bought in 2011 so I'd be sacrificing USB3 on the front ports, but I can run a hub off the back ports – no biggie. Here is the upgraded version -

I don't want to upgrade this component yet either, but it is vanilla SATA. A dozen of my games still run off DVD – will I encounter a bus problem? I don't care about cinematics.
My device is the Pioneer 12X SATA Blu-ray Burner BDR-206BKS

Thanks very much for looking at this very long post. I look forward to hearing all your good advice.
Last edited:


Elite Member
Sep 1, 2002
There is a sticky on the top of the General Hardware section for system builders. Put you info in a new thread over there and you will get the best exposing for this type of thing.
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