A lot of people want to build there own custom gaming pc, the options are endless. This article will be an extensive guide on what I used to build my own extreme custom gaming desktop and how to guides on choosing your own parts, as this build is a rather high budget one. Towards the end of the article I will list different game benchmarks, cpu benchmarks and do some runs on different applications to see everything is running smoothly.
I always wanted to get the best hi-end processor on the market, but after testing the (i7 3960x which is the most powerful cpu for 2012) and the i7 3930k (half the price), the differences where only around 10%, so I decided to settle with the 3930k, overclock it and get better performance. You might not have the money to shell out for a 6 core beast, but the intent of my build was to render videos and add multi gpu’s for gaming.
The i7 3930k is a Lga 2011 socket processor, so my only option is to go with a x79 motherboard with Pci-E 3.0 compatibility. The good thing here with the Pci-e 3.0 compatibilty and the 40 Pci-e lanes is that I will have a great boost at resolutions over the 2560×1440 mark on two or more graphic cards. The new Ivy bridge processors like the i5 3550 the i7 3770k and other versions from Intel which are 4 core processors also support Pci-e 3.0 compatibility if your looking to go for a cheaper route. With these 2 processors you will have to choose the z77 motherboard to have all the bells and whistles of a great gaming system. The only reason to choose a 6 core over a 4 core would be for rendering images or videos. In games with resolutions under 2560×1440 like the common 1920×1080, the difference between my hexa core vs quad cores is nominal to non. Even the 2nd generation i5 2500k can give you enough performance(doesn’t have native pci-e 3.0 support). Now that we have chosen our processor we have to choose a motherboard. I was looking over the Asus Rampage Extreme X79, this board is for people looking into going fully watercooled. With all the waterblocks for the motherboard piping ,reservoir and other watercooling parts this would just lead me to go overboard on the price. Also overkill, as a 4ghz-4.6ghz overclock I want to achieve can be done on a simple closed loop watercooler no maintenaince and a lot more hassle free. It didn’t have wireless compatibility so I opted to get the Asus P9x79 Deluxe model. This model supports tri-sli/crossfire and has both bluetooth and wifi support. Another great option I was looking at was the Asus X79 Sabertooth which falls in at around the same price, this one has a small cooler on the vrms to handle stability at high overclocks (4.6ghz+ mark).
The cpu comes with no cooling , so I opted for Corsair’s H100 and I added another 2 fans in a push-pull configuration to keep the temperatures even lower as the 6 core produced a heft load of heat. For other processors a good air-cooler can do the job but opt for a closed loop watercooled cpu or a custom liquid-cooling loop for extreme overclocks.
Supporting up to 64gb ram the P9x79 Deluxe motherboard would be great for setting up a ram drive. I opted to get 8x4gb Kingston ram which are affordable at a 1600mhz frequency. This was overkill as you won’t notice any difference after 8gb but they were cheap so I said why not ?. A lot of benchmarks especially in games show that 8gb is way more than enough and sometimes over that will actually give you less performance, as the motherboards lanes are getting packed sending data to and from the cpu and graphic cards. After testing I didn’t see any issues either in loading nor in the benchmarks. The only difference was with temperatures on the motherboard being 2-3c higher and overclocking being a little harder. The ram frequencies either be 1600mhz or 2133mhz gives no sufficient gain either and using xmp profiles to overclock lower rated ram is a good option.
So far we have the cpu motherboard and ram. Next up the graphics card.
This year Amd’s has been slow on production, releasing some lower end cards and word has it that a dual gpu 7970 was going to come out. November and nothing till now. Nvidia on the other hand has released a handful of powerful graphic cards with some great features from the Gtx680, then the Gtx690 a cheaper Gtx670 and now the Gtx660Ti,Gtx660 and the Gtx650 Ti low-mid range versions. It was difficult to get two Gtx680’s to review for HardwarePal.com as stock was running out very quickly until 2 or 3 months ago. I got my hands on one Gtx680, then a Gtx690 and later on a gtx670 and reviewed them. I opted to get the Gtx680s for my system as I was surprised by the performance the monster Gtx690 (2xGtx680 on one chip) had on three monitors at ultra settings on stock frequencies . It was either these or the Hd Radeon 7970 (I’m one of the Nvidia fan boys). The performance of the Gtx680 was good enough on a single card and the Gtx670 wasn’t bad only trailing behing 5-10% on the benchmarks. The only reason I opted towards the Gtx680’s and not the cheaper Gtx670’s was because of the higher framerates it “could” achieve if I get some golden chips and overclock them to the maximum . Ofcourse the Asus vanilla model was my top choice and I went after the cheaper 2gb versions and overclocked myself. I also ordered some hi-flow air brackets and 2 backplates to drop my temperatures.The logic with adding these two extra parts for cooling is because of the auto overclock boost the new 600s gpu’s have. As soon as they hit 60c the autoboost drops 12-13mhz the higher the temperatures get the lower it drops. You might ask why I didn’t opt for gpu waterblocks ? The added cost of getting these would hit the $200+ mark plus all the money to install the watercooling kit parts, would sky rocket my budget.
Here its all up to your budget again. Getting a 7200rpm is a no brainer , adding a ssd will help a lot on boot times and loading time. I got a cheap 60gb Ocz Ssd for the operating system and added a 2gb 7200rpm Western Digital hard drive for storage.
The Dvd-Rom drive was easy to choose anything can do the trick.
To be able to boot this beast I would need something with 80+ certification and over 800w just to be safe. I opted for the corsair Ax1200w just in case I get future proof crazy and throw in a third gpu later.
Quite a lot of hardware here so we will want to choose a case with good airflow and have a stylish design . For the huge Gtx680’s the I ended up getting a Haf 932 Advanced as it’s a full atx gaming case, space for the h100 radiator(push pull setup) and red led lighting for the alien like feel. Theres space left inside the case to do some good cable management and have the air evenly flow from the front of the case to the rear and out.
After getting everything together the end result is this (no cable management done so mind the mess)
Getting down to the peripherals a gaming keyboard with a Lcd display was a must for me. After reviewing a few my verdict went to the Logitech G19. Great design, illuminated keys , different profile settings for macrokeys and the best part the customizable full color lcd Display. The lcd’s possibilities are endless with applets. Applets are little programs that are build to have the lcd monitor show you stats from games,playing videos, having skype chats and alot more. It really helps me out when benchmarking as it shows gpu temperatures, framerates from fraps and cpu load. All this without installing anything extra other than the normal desktop apps. You can go even further by installing special applets for a game like Crysis 2 or Bf3 where it shows you health, bullets and so on. Alot of game manufacturers are adding game compatibilites with the monitor. Other than this its a great keyboard and has good functionality.
I bought 2 as my brother needed one as well. The first is a Cyborg Rat 5 mouse and the second one is a Corsair M60 Fps gaming mouse. Design wise the Rat 5 looks out of this world and has some great customizable features. The bad though is that I claw grip my mouse and was having difficulty pressing the left mouse button as its a long mouse even when adjusting it to the smallest size. The M60 is big aswell but feels more natural to me. It has a special sniper button, the feel when moving it around is smoother especially at its full 5700 dpi , it doesnt slip as the sides have a rough surface and its alot easier to just plug it in and play rather than fiddle with settings.
As the Gtx680′s have support for 3 monitors I decided to build a Nvidia Surround experience to play at a massive 5760×1080 . Three budget 1920×1080 21 ” Acer monitors later and a custom built 3 monitor stand and Im ready to go. The thing here is to find small bezel monitors to not interfere with your gameplay. If you can, go for more expensive monitors like some Dell’s available, as my monitor picture quality is not perfect but its “ok-ish” at $400 total. The good thing with Nvidia Surround is the immersive feeling you get when playing, believe me you have to try it to understand.
So as you can see we have already put together my whole system.
I wanted to overclock only over 3.9ghz as that would give me the performance of the expensive 3960x at half the price. All I did was get into the bios and put the cpu multiplier (By all cores) to 40 and rebooted, giving me a 4ghz speed.
Now all thats left is to run some stability tests, benchmark some games and synthetic benchmarks. I will also be making some gameplay videos to see what this beast can do.
Part 3 : Game Benchmarks
Part 1 : Custom Gaming Pc Build (Your Here)