Greg’s Rig (High End) : 11 June 2011 – 6 October 2011 (latest build here)

I spend most of my spare time at home in front of one PC or another but I make sure I have a dedicated machine for gaming. I am what you would call a benchmark junkie; I frequently upgrade my components to the latest spec to eke out those extra few points in the latest benchmark (although not always the highest spec; I look for value for money – but sometimes this rule gets thrown out of the window). I generally sell off any old kit to help pay for the upgrades.

I like playing mainly FPS games, I am a Battlefield Veteran dating back to 1942 (the game not year lol) and I like my gaming experience to be as ‘smooth’ as possible and will drop some of the high end in-game settings to attain this if necessary.

My core eight components are detailed below (this PC was spec’d up a few weeks after the Intel Sandybridge launch at CES 2011 and just as the Cougar Point bug was announced which nearly scuppered my upgrade).

The main aim for the upgrade was to at least double my old rigs performance.
(Abit IP35 Pro, Intel Q6600 @3.6ghz, 4gb Ram, Ati 5870)

All of my testing/gaming will be carried out on a Hanns-g HZ281 28″ Widescreen LCD Monitor.

  • Current Rig Settings/Benchmark Results:
  • CPU Speed – 4.6GHz CPU Voltage – Manual (1.395v) CPU Base Clock – 100MHz CPU Multiplyer – 46
    Memory Speed – 1600MHz Memory Voltage – Manual (1.5v) Memory Timings – 9-9-9-24-2T
    GPU Speed – 783MHz GPU Memory Speed – 2010MHz


    3DMark 11 – 11379 Unigine Heaven – 1411 Metro 2033 – 48.67 FPS



    The 8 components of the gaming rig:
    Case Coolermaster Haf 912 plus
    Coolermaster HAF 912
    I’ve never been one for spending a lot on cases, previously I have even had them stored out of sight! For my latest build however I did do a lot of research as I knew I was going to have a lot of hot equipment inside so cooling performance was crucial. My final choice was a Coolermaster Haf 912 plus, this came with an excellent quiet 200mm fan at the front and was in my price bracket. To boost cooling I have added an additional 200mm fan on the top and 150mm on the side to cool the graphics cards. O did I forget to mention the standard 120mm at the back and 120mm in the PSU!
    Power Supply Coolermaster Silent Pro Gold 1000W Modular
    Coolermaster Silent Pro Gold 1000W
    Normally I would go for a cheap well known brand, but knowing I was going to need to power not one but two 580’s I decided this time to go for Gold… Coolermaster Gold 1000W – A THOUSAND WATTS!!
    Motherboard Asus P8P67 Deluxe Intel P67 DDR3 (Sandy Bridge Socket LGA1155)

    Asus P8P67 Deluxe
    ‘Deluxe’ – What more can I say? – Well it’s a slight improvement over the Pro actually; but it was available in a bundle with the CPU and memory so why not? Supplied with an external USB3 connector that was handy as my new case was not USB3 ready, it also sports additional ‘phase power’ for additional overclocking potential; but will this really make a difference? Time will tell. In June 2011 I updated to the B3 Revision board using Asus’s own Swap out program which I blogged about here.
    CPU Intel Core i7-2600K 3.40GHz (Sandybridge Socket LGA1155)

    Intel Core i7 2600K
    To achieve my upgrade plans to ‘double everything’ I just had to go for the 2600k over the 2500k, just so that I could see 8 cores in windows task manager (Even if they are virtual and maybe are not so useful in gaming) -That’s it really – Currently I am running with a nice moderate overclock @ 4.6Ghz.
    CPU Cooler Noctua NH-D14 Dual Radiator and Fan Quiet CPU Cooler

    Noctua NH-D14
    My last machines overclock, stability and cool running I believe was down to my choice of a superb cooler (ThermalRight Ultra 120) – I even went to the extreme of lapping both the CPU and cooler. – This time around I wanted to top this and what bigger a heatsink could I choose? The Noctura NH-D14 – it’s the size of my head! Not only is it big but it’s quiet too, helped by the fact it has 2 massive 120mm fans and 6 heatpipes. The only downside is you have to be careful with your choice of memory/motherboard to make sure you have enough clearance headroom!
    Memory (RAM) 8gb Corsair Vengeance DDR3 PC3-12800 (1600), Non-ECC Unbuffered, CAS 9-9-9-24, XMP, (1.5V Sandy Bridge compatible)

    Corsair Vengeance DDR3
    The Corsair Vengeance was chosen as one of the newly supported memory modules that ran at 1.5v especially suited for Sandybridge – Again I was looking for 8gb to obtain my goal of ‘doubling my last rig’. These run at 9,9,9,25 timings; not the quickest but due to the new method of overclocking memory speeds are no longer as essential as they used to be, we shall see?
    Graphics 2x Gainward GOOD edition nVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 1536MB GDDR5 PCI-Express in SLI configuration
    Gainward GTX580 Good EditionGainward GTX580 Good Edition Holy cow batman – how much? And you want to put 2 of them in? – That was my first reaction to Eric and James build specs; but then I sat down and thought about their reasoning – nope I still could not believe it! – But in the end I fell to peer pressure (no not really!) ; I saw some benchmarks that showed that the 580’s in SLI were an awesome combination. I chose the Gainward Good edition cards as they had a better cooling solution which I believe will help alleviate some of the heat problems I may have with choosing a smaller case.
    Storage (HDD/SSD) (OS / Core games)
    Vertex 3 120GB SSD 2.5″ SATA (550MB/s read, 500MB/s
    (Data/other Games)
    2 x Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA-II 32MB Cache Raid 0 (240MB/s read)

    Vertex 3 120gb SSD
    After switching to my first SSD the Corsair X64, there was no going back for me, and when I was lucky enough to review the Vertex 3 120gb drive I was so impressed that I took the opportunity to upgrade. (Some may say I have an SSD fetish – we shall see!)- for now I am satisfied that I have one of the best performing drives out there and that my games load super quick.

    Samsung F3 1TB
    The Samsung F3 1Tb drives are among the fastest out there, not to mention a very large drive to boot.<Excuse the pun>. I was previously using a Raptor X which was not only small (150gb) but noisy too. These drives in Raid0 put even the Raptor to shame.
    Monitor Hanns-g HZ281 28″ Widescreen LCD (1920×1200)

    Hanns-g HZ281
    Bigger the better they say; well I’ve been playing with a 24″ for a while and found the font size (dpi) just a little bit to small for my liking. Then I saw this monitor and thought it would be a great upgrade. Now I have it; well it’s enormous on my desk so maybe I’ve gone and overdone it ? – perhaps a nice 26″ would have been better?
    Keyboard Wolf Claw
    Wolf Claw
    Ever since getting my Wolf Claw I cannot imaging gaming without it. Yes I’ve been tempted away with the likes of the ZBoard, but once you get used to one layout the last thing I want to do is learn another one. I don’t mind spending a few minutes re-mapping keys within a game to match my always consistent layout. Having a proper Qwerty keyboard alongside also helps when I need to have an in game chat, or end of game shout out ‘gg’.
    Mouse Logitech MX 518

    Logitech MX 518
    The moment I held the 518 I was in love, it seems to have been built around my hand! it’s so comfortable. With <the now standard> additional side buttons that I generally use for ‘Reload’ or ‘Use’ it also has adjustable dpi buttons which is useful in games like Battlefield when you jump into a tank and find the turret movement incredibly slow for example, I cannot fault it at all; but then again I’ve not tried many other mice so I’m willing to be shown ‘the light’ and you never know it might improve my kill to death ratio?
    Sound/Headset Asus Zonar DX 7.1 Audio Card Goldring NS1000
    Goldring NS1000
    I take my sound seriously, and am a believer that good ‘Hifi’ headphones are always going to be better than your average ‘gaming headset’ – well at least that has been the case for the last few years; but manufactures have finally cottoned on to the fact and are now beginning to produce better sounding headsets so watch this space; I could be tempted to switch! The same can be said for on-board sound; a dedicated sound card with quality amplifiers and ‘gold’ connectors was always thought to be the best solution, but motherboard makers are now raising their game and including some pretty high end spec kit; another reason to change my thinking maybe?

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