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Author Topic: Buying a fast new PC, anyone have a favorite US system builder?  (Read 2865 times)
JavaJones
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« on: October 06, 2011, 04:50:33 PM »

I've decided to buy a kick ass new gaming and 3D render box. I've got most of the parts picked out but, while in the past I would have built it myself, I'm not going to bother this time. One reason for that is I am hoping to get it overclocked from the system builder. I've never really messed with overclocking seriously and I'd rather have it arrive at my door in a known-working overclocked state.

I'll get to my parts list in a minute, which I'd welcome feedback on. But since I'm going to have the thing built for me, my biggest decision at the moment is what system builder to go with. I have a number of options I've found mostly through looking at Reseller Ratings' top rated businesses but would appreciate some more personal recommendations from DC-ers. Remember I'm hoping to have it overclocked by the system builder so they'll need to be experienced with that. They'll also need to carry the critical components of my build, of course. Finally, they should be US-based and ideally not located in California (for tax reasons).

Here are the retailers in current consideration, in no particular order. All have an 8 out of 10 or above on ResellerRatings.com and at least 20 reviews each:

  • AVADirect
  • Puget Systems
  • Digital Storm
  • Main Gear
  • Stealth Machines
  • CyberPowerPC
  • Origin PC

Parts List:
  • High quality case, good cooling, preferably no side windows or front door (cases available depend on system builder)
  • 700W+ PSU with 80+ cert (Antec, Enermax, Silverstone, PC Power and Cooling, Thermaltake, Coolermaster)
  • Decent, reasonably priced socket 1155 motherboard with USB3 and eSATA (ASUS, Gigabyte, etc. - not too particular about this)
  • Core i7 2600k overclocked 20-50% (promised overclocking level available depends on system builder)
  • Liquid or high-end quiet air cooling (noise is a definite factor)
  • 16GB RAM (4x4GB, preferably 1600Mhz)
  • 120GB or larger SSD (probably Intel 510, though possibly OCZ Vertex 3, Crucial M4, or Kingston HyperX)
  • 2-3TB 7200RPM SATA HD (Western Digital Caviar Black or Seagate Barracuda XT, the latter being available in 3TB so preferable)
  • Geforce GTX 570
  • Basic SATA CD/DVD-RW
  • Onboard audio
  • Built-in memory card reader supporting SD and Compact Flash

As I said, noise is a consideration, so whenever possible I'm adding quieter case fans, fan gaskets, etc.

So far Puget is looking pretty strong. They have an excellent rep, great customer service (one of their reps contacted me directly via email after I saved a quote on their site to see if I had any questions and he was able to bring down my build cost a few hundred with some intelligent suggested changes), and while they're more expensive than some other options, they're definitely not out of the park on that. They also offer 30-45% overclocking, among the highest available that I've seen so far. Cyberpower is less well rated, but definitely comes in with the best price and options, including superclocked graphics card and some other freebie extras.

Edit: Any info on the imminent release of new hardware that may affect price or ideal components in this price/performance bracket is also useful. I know the i7 2700k is coming soon but from what I hear it will not slightly more expensive than the 2600k and as a result won't necessarily affect the latter's price. The 2600k has a known OC capability and I don't see it worth taking a risk nor waiting for the 2700k in that regard.

I also know AMD's new Bulldozer is coming out in just a week or so. From what I can see the fastest available version initially will be 3.6Ghz and will be a little bit cheaper than the 2600k. But judging by preliminary benchmarks I don't think it will reliably topple the 2600k, especially when the latter is overclocked. It does have an interesting "all cores turbo" feature that's sort of like built-in overclocking, but I haven't seen much as far as detail or performance on that. Also new AMD/ATI graphics card, the 7000 series, but I don't know much about it...

All feedback is welcome!

Thanks,

Oshyan
« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 05:42:05 PM by JavaJones » Logged

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nudone
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« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2011, 05:15:01 PM »

I hit the buy button earlier today on a very similar build to what you are looking at. I've gone for the ocz ssd as the comparisons I read convinced me the compression it uses to gain speed isn't a trick. The store will be over clocking the chip to 4.5 though 4.7 was available with higher spec and price components.

Not sure if that helps.

Edit:
Case - get something with padded sides to help soften the noise, doesn't have to be expensive to have this feature.

Cooling - I've stuck with air, not heard much to make me want to mess around with anything else.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2011, 05:23:28 PM by nudone » Logged
JavaJones
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« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2011, 05:45:19 PM »

Thanks nudone. The OCZ seemed like a slightly better option, but much less available at the system builders I've seen. The difference from the Intel 510 didn't seem huge in real world benchmarks, though in synthetic benches it was more noticeable.

Interesting that they'll OC to that level on air cooling, that's roughly 30%. You sure it won't have to be noisy? As for foam padding, yeah that's an option at some places, I'll definitely do that if available.

- Oshyan
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nudone
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« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2011, 06:12:31 PM »

Hmm, not sure what to expect about the fan noise. If it's really loud then I'll resort to my plan of putting the tower in the room next door (I've got the extra long cables ready). I recently decided that a bit of noise is good as it drowns out even more annoying noises around me that I can't do anything about.

I'm actually worried that if I put the tower in the adjacent room, it will be too quiet in the room I'm working so I'll then have create a constant background "ambient" noise. Something loud enough to drown out the external sounds but pleasant enough to have on all day - is there anything like that I wonder, music wouldn't be appropriate.

I'm hoping the store are going to put a big fan on the cpu so it will be bearable. I'm probably being a bit naive in that respect.

P.s. For some odd reason Intel SSDs never seem to be offered much over here (uk), I've heard they are good but they simply aren't an option for me.
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Stoic Joker
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« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2011, 06:45:55 PM »

FWIW I've had one of these Antec 900 cases for years and love it. It's well built solid and whisper quiet because the 8" fan in the top doesn't need to spin that fast at all to keep things cool. I don't even have the two front fans connected as they just aren't necessary.

The top front USB, audio, & FireWire ports are handy as hell and the built in tray is perfect for holding a phone or MP3 player. It sits on the floor next to me and everything is in easy reach. If you're woried about the positioning of the power button (I was initially), don't be. It has proven to be next to impossible to actually hit it by accident due to being quite small and flat.
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JavaJones
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« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2011, 03:41:39 PM »

Thanks for the input guys. I'm guessing people here tend to either build their own fancy machines, or just get something a bit more stock/standard from a more major vendor. My primary interest was in finding out about people's preferred system builders, but I think I've got a decent handle on my options at this point. Puget is courting me pretty well still, there's a few hundred dollar price premium, but their OC offering combined with incredible ratings and good customer service vs. the major cheap competition of CyberPower and iBuyPower probably means they'll get my business.

I'll be sure to come back and post details of what I actually end up with, especially in terms of the from-the-factory overclock. They promise 30-45% which could be up to 4.9Ghz on the i7 2600k. Sweet!

- Oshyan
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Ath
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« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2011, 04:19:58 PM »

I'd be sure to get some kind of guarantee that the system you receive is according to the specs you ordered and expect. Sounds silly maybe, but managing expectations on both sides in any commercial deal can be quite a challenge.
Your requirements are pretty accurate but there's still room for interpretation, and once the system is built and delivered, their interpretation could be "we're done, you pay now", and a conflict is near.

This is another good reason to have a supplier at reasonable traveling distance, if possible, so you can go there and evaluate before delivery. It's top dollar your paying, and a classy system you're expecting, so some 'quality assurance' is required.
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40hz
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2011, 07:17:41 PM »

I'm actually worried that if I put the tower in the adjacent room, it will be too quiet in the room I'm working so I'll then have create a constant background "ambient" noise. Something loud enough to drown out the external sounds but pleasant enough to have on all day - is there anything like that I wonder, music wouldn't be appropriate.

A subdued 'pink noise' generator, possibly with added environmental sounds might work for you. Many people swear by it. Enough that they're popular New Age yuppie boutique items.

Everybody's tastes are different when it comes to ambient sound. My GF is partial to the sound of a running brook. (All that one does to me is step up the number of times I need to use the bathroom.)

I personally find the soft sound my aquarium pump makes very conducive to concentration. Plus I get to look at the pretty fish when my eyes get tired of staring at a screen. Fish tank: Highly recommended!
 smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2011, 09:14:58 PM »

Something loud enough to drown out the external sounds but pleasant enough to have on all day - is there anything like that I wonder
There is; you need a large diameter cooling device in your machine that emits the sound of applause. Apart from any other benefit, you'll find that it's a big fan of yours.
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Chris
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« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2011, 03:50:22 AM »

Heheh, 40 and cran, both good suggestions. I didn't realise you could buy pink noise boxes -maybe there's a web streaming station that provides something similar. As for biggest fan, well, that's my mother - and also a source of the background noise I'm trying to drown out.  smiley
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cranioscopical
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« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2011, 08:44:35 AM »

also a source of the background noise I'm trying to drown out.
Grin

You could always try the Van Gogh method.

I've had system-silent environments and you're right, a lot depends on the amount and types of background noise. I think the soundproofing discussion's been around before  —  it's very difficult to do properly with a retrofit. Pink noise is probably a good solution. I'm with 40HZ, though, avoid running water at all costs... unless your office is of the smaller variety and furnished with porcelain Grin
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Chris
JavaJones
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2011, 01:54:04 AM »

Looks like I'll be going with Puget Systems for this one. I'll be sure to let you all know how my post-purchase experience goes, but so far the pre-purchase service has been great.

Can't wait to play with this thing. Anyone else looking forward to Battlefield 3? cheesy

- Oshyan
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