Terry’s Rig (Mid Range) : 20 July 2011 to August 31 2011

 
My original Gaming Rig used to be a multi purpose machine running email, web access, photo editing, video editing, you name it, my Rig would be doing it…

This all changed with my introduction as a contributor to this website! I now have a lovely (mid range) dedicated Gaming Rig. The reasoning behind this shift is explained here so I won’t bother to go into it in this text, suffice to say that having a machine dedicated to gaming makes a LOT of sense.

I spend a fair amount of time gaming, mostly First Person Shooters (Stalker, Metro 2033 and CoD), and would class myself as an average player. Sometimes I can have an amazing round other times it just doesn’t come together at all and I get pwned badly. Quite often I seem to end up acting as the “support crew” for my squads, choosing to be a medic, or even ferrying my squad around in transport (mainly helicopters if the game has them).

My choice of Gaming Rig is based on my getting best gaming experience for reasonable money, and to that end I usually have a mid range machine, good enough to turn on most of a games graphical detail but never really powerful enough to turn everything on. I personally don’t see this as a problem as I look more for the gameplay aspects of a game as opposed to the graphical bling provided by high end rigs like Eric’s and James’s.

All of Terry’s testing/gaming will be carried out on a Asus MW221u Widescreen (1680×1050) LCD Monitor.

  • Current Rig Settings/Benchmark Results:
  • CPU Speed – 4.4GHz CPU Voltage – Auto (1.284v) CPU Base Clock – 100.8MHz CPU Multiplyer – 44
    Memory Speed – 1600MHz Memory Voltage – Auto (1.65v) Memory Timings – 9-9-9-24 1T
    GPU Speed – 880MHz GPU Memory Speed – 1375MHz

     

    3DMark 11 – 5608 Unigine Heaven – 700 Metro 2033 – 27 FPS

     

    The 8 components of the gaming rig:

    Case Cooler Master HAF 912

    Cooler Master HAF 912
    Before this case I had a ThermalTake V9 (and in fact this is now being used as my “general purpose” machine case), I normally look for a case with good air flow and although I have read some issues with the HAF 912 being on the warm side, I felt that with the minimal components I had inside I could keep everything cool enough. I liked the layout of this case during my build especially the ability to remove the additional HDD bay and improve the Airflow through the front (it’s designed to allow you to rotate it 90 degrees but you can also just remove it and leave it out). Additionally the cable routing on this case was made easy by the space between the motherboard tray and the back panel.
    Power Supply Cooler Master Silent Pro Modular 850W

    Cooler
    I wanted a power supply that was Cheap but Powerful, I opted for this PSU as it was modular (allowing only the SATA/MOLEX cables that are required to be routed in the case), and had the power output that I felt would fulfil the power requirements of my components. I’m all for buying enough power without going “all out” and I felt that this PSU was the happy medium between cost and performance.
    Motherboard Gigabyte P67A-UD4 Intel P67 (Socket 1155) DDR3

    Gigabyte P67A-UD4 Intel P67 (Socket 1155) DDR3
    This motherboard using the P67 Chipset should allow me to dabble in the “dark art” of Overclocking (that it appears on Sandy Bridge is actually just a matter of changing the Multiplier and watching the Core Voltages!!), bear in mind that I have never as of yet Overclocked my previous rigs. However, I think now may be the time to give it a go.
    CPU Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30GHz (Sandybridge) Socket LGA1155

    Intel Core i5-2500K 3.30GHz
    Based on my want to try some form of Overclocking, I had to go for a K series CPU (with Multiplier unlocked), This processor seemed to be the best bang for buck from a Overclocking point of view. Should see some nice speed increases on this CPU in conjunction with my Gigabyte P67 motherboard.
    CPU Cooler Akasa Venom (AK-CCX-4002HPV2)

    Akasa AK-CCX-4002HP Venom
    For Overclocking to work well you need to keep your CPU cool. None of these stock coolers for me, I need something a bit more “robust”. Enter the Akasa Venom cooler. This cooler utilises a 12cm fan to really move the air through the heatsink. Something we all noticed, when we were building our rigs together was the size of the Heatpipes on the Asaka compared to the Corsair A50, they are HUGE and there are FOUR of them (as opposed to the Corsair’s three). Add to this the ability to add a second fan on the other side of the heatsink in a push-pull arrangement and you are looking at one serious cooler.
    Memory (RAM) Corsair Memory XMS3 4GB DDR3 1600 MHz CAS 9 XMP Dual Channel

    Corsair Memory XMS3
    Memory for me is chosen to be reasonably priced, but also reasonably quick. I aimed at the 1600 Mhz level as I felt that this would be a nice middle ground for a Gaming Rig. This Corsair Memory fitted the bill perfectly.
    Graphics XFX ATI Radeon 6950 2048MB GDDR5 PCI-Express

    XFX ATI Radeon 6950
    Graphics cards to me are a bit of a difficult issue. Remember I’m the “mid range” rig builder and so although I know that graphics cards are the bread and butter of a Gaming Rig, I just can’t afford to get the latest and greatest SLi’d or Crossfired cards, (buying a pair of cards even, is just well out of my budget). With this in mind I decided to get the best card I could for the money I had to spend (which turned out to be an ATI 6950). Of course the fact that you can re-flash these cards to 6970 specs/timings and that there is a nice twin switchable BIOS (in case something doesn’t quite work right) had nothing to do with the choice ;o).
    Storage (HDD/SSD) 2 x Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB SATA-II 32MB Cache

    Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB
    Hmmm SSD’s. They would be lovely. But the price for me as “mid range” rig builder is just too high. So HDDs it is then. I decided to go for a pair of Samsung SpinPoint F3s as they are cheap and can be made to perform well using “Short Stroking”. These drives perform really quite well in my Gaming Rig after being optimised with the Short Stroking process, and for the money fit perfectly into my rig building approach and budget.
    Peripherals:

    Monitor Asus MW221U 22 inch Widescreen LCD (1680 x 1050)

    Asus MW221U
    Have I looked at a new larger monitor? Yes… Can I justify the price to go from 1680×1050 to 1920×1080? Not at the moment…
    Keyboard Steelseries Merc Stealth

    Steelseries Merc Stealth
    After finding my ZBoard’s forward key sticking on a fairly regular basis, I though it was time for a change and so I brought James’s hand me down Merc Stealth into play. Initially I found the key layout a little hard to get used to, but now it seems like a very nice gaming keyboard. My daughters all love the glowing keys and the fact that you can change the colour of the keyboard at the touch of a button.
    Mouse Logitech G5

    Logitech G5
    Ahhh… my G5 mouse… a hand me down from James (thanks James)… I have had some shockingly rubbish mice in the past, but this was my first step into a true “gaming” mouse… I like it… very much… not really looked to change it as it works… (am I missing out on all these new Razer DeathAdder things?)
    Headset Roccat Kave 5.1

    Roccat Kave 5.1
    These are great Headphones (if you don’t have a wide flat head, Eric), good bass, good sound quality, nice microphone, but must admit to not really picking up on the Separation part (surround sound), maybe it’s my duff hearing…


     
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