Nikc10’s System building guide for JV (both folding rigs and non-folding rigs)
CPU: The design of the computer will often revolve around this choice, so it is one of the most important you can make. The first choice you will have to make is between AMD and Intel. For gaming purposes, there won’t be much of a difference, as long as you get at least a 3GHz dual core. For folding, its less of a wash, since intel is generally better, but only in the $200+ price range. Below that, AMD CPU’s will tend to edge out Intel ones. Here’s a list by price:
- AMD Athlon II X3 455
- AMD Athlon II X4 645
- AMD Phenom II X4 975
- Intel Core i5-2500k
- Intel Core i7-2600k
- Pretty much any hexacore on Intel’s Sandy Bridge-E platform, but if you are at this price range, you should know what you are doing already
CPU Cooling: If you are not going to overclock, there’s no need to get anything beyond the stock heatsink that comes with the CPU. If you are planning on getting very much overclocking out of your system, your best bet is with an aftermarket CPU cooler. If you are planning on getting one of these, you should check to see if it comes with thermal paste. If it doesn’t, then you will need to get your own.
Good CPU coolers (by no means a comprehensive list)
- Artic Cooling Freezer 7 pro
- Cooler master hyper 212 Plus
For not cheap:
- Noctua NH-D14
- Zalman CNPS9900
Closed loop water cooling:
- Antec Kuhler 920 (what I have)
- Corsair H70 or H50
- Artic Silver 5
Motherboard: This is heavily influenced by what you really want out of your system. If you are just getting a simple system with a non-overclocked CPU, a single GPU, and not much else, pretty much any motherboard that has the same socket as your CPU will do. However, as soon as you start putting in multiple GPUs and overclocking the CPU, things get more complicated. I won’t list models and price ranges here, since there are so many motherboards around, but I will list some general guidelines:
- Don’t buy MSI motherboards. They tend to fail.
- If you are going to overclock, make sure the board your getting supports it. (i.e. P67 or Z68 for LGA1155)
- If you are going to overclock, make sure the board you are getting has high quality VRMs that won’t fail when you push a lot of power through them.
- Look at the ports on the motherboard, and make sure it has what you need.
- If you are planning on running multiple GPUs, make sure that the motherboards supports it, and that there are at least two slots of space between the PCI-e slots so that you can actually put more than one double wide card in.
- Make sure the motherboard has the same socket as the CPU
RAM: This is one of the easier components to buy these days, since its so cheap. Generally, just go with any 8GB kit of DDR3-1600 that you can find. In general, you don’t need either faster RAM or more RAM. Anything beyond DDR3-1600, and you will not really notice the difference in everyday usage. Also, if you are going to buy more than 8GB of RAM, you should really have some sort of particular use in mind, otherwise you are just wasting your money.
PSU: The important thing here is not to cheap out. It may be tempting to buy the $50 PSU over the $80 one, but you don’t want the PSU to fail and either have to buy a new PSU or a whole new computer if it damaged your parts. If you go with pretty much anything by corsair, PC power and cooling, or seasonic, you will be fine. To calculate your power usage, and find out what kind of power supply you need, this is a good tool: http://www.thermaltake.outervision.com/. Another thing to note: if you are going to put multiple GPUs in your computer, make sure that not only does the PSU have enough wattage, but that is has enough 6 or 8 pin PCI-e connectors as well.
Hard Disk/SSD: Currently, hard disk prices are very high, so if you have a hard drive from an older computer, you might consider using that as a holdover until prices come back down again, which they will. In general, for hard disks, just get whatever capacity you think you will use. For SSDs, you may want to put a HDD in as well for storage of larger items like videos. In terms of brands, for hard disks, it doesn’t really matter that much. However, there is a much bigger difference in the SSD world. If you want the greatest performance, get one of the latest generation SSDs from either Crucial, Intel, or OCZ.
Case: This is another area that its tempting to skimp on, but it can have a big effect on how easy the computer is to build, and also on overclocking, since a better case will have lower temperatures. There are two main types of cases that you might consider, ATX full tower and ATX mid tower. A mid tower case will generally be cheaper, smaller and be harder to build in than a full tower case, but those tradeoffs may be worth it if you are not building a machine with multiple large GPUs.
Here’s a list of some pretty good cases
- Corsair 800D (I have this one)
- HAF X
- Silverstone Tejmin 07
- Antec 900 ( I have this one too)
- Corsair 600T
- HAF 922
- Antec 300
- Rosewill Challenger
Optical Drive: This one’s pretty simple. If you don’t want to watch blu-rays, get any SATA DVD burner that you can find. If you want to play, blu-rays, find a blu-ray reader that comes with software so that you can watch blu-rays, since some drives don’t come with any software and you would have to buy the software yourself.
Operating system: This will be Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit for pretty much everyone, unless you have a special case that calls for another operating system, in which case you should already know what operating system you are going to use.
GPU: Along with the CPU, one of the most important components in the system. You have a few things to consider here. First, are you going to go with one GPU, or multiple GPUs. Then you have to consider if you are going to go with ATI or Nvidia. Note: if you are going to do F@H, you are much better off getting an Nvidia GPU at this point, but this may change in the future. Another note: for the most part, GPU memory doesn’t matter much past about 1GB these days, unless you either have a 30” monitor, or you are going to use multiple monitors.
- Radeon 6790
- GeForce GTX 560 (not ti)
- GeForce 560 ti (a Radeon 6950 would work here as well, but if you are doing F@H, it will be worse, and this is also true with the rest of the price ranges)
- GeForce GTX 570
- GeForce GTX 580 (though, at this point, you are getting really diminishing returns.
I don’t think I forgot anything major. This is still very much a work in progress, so feel free to make any suggestions. Over the next day or so, I’m going to try to put estimated ppd next to the GPUs and CPUs in case you are planning on building a machine for F@H. Also, its late, so I'll finish formatting tomorrow.