First build- Gaming/workstation PC

Hi everyone! Gonna be doing my first build pretty soon and I’m real excited to be taking my first steps into the awesome world of PC enthusiasm! I’ve been doing research and parts selection for a number of months now. I have most of the components picked out at this point, however there are still a number of things that I’m not sure about and could use some advice/opinion on. First things first though, a bit about my prospective system:


Parts I plan to add after initial build:

PCI-E cards: AverMedia Live Gamer HD, discrete sound card (model undecided), possibly others (more Ethernet ports! :P)

Mechanical drive if storage space runs low (right now looking at Western Digital WD Black)

More fans for better airflow: 3x 140mm (model undecided), 1x 230mm (BitFenix 230Mm Blue Led Case Fan)


This computer would be used mainly for content creation (digital painting in fairly large formats, 3D modeling/sculpting, and eventually video editing and/or online streaming) as well as gaming. Some of the programs I plan to use include Photoshop CS6, autodesk maya, mudbox, and UDK. I have no plans to overclock my system right out the gate, however I would like to have it as an option if I want to attempt overclocking in the future. With all that out of the way, here are my questions/concerns:


Motherboard: I’m a little confused about compatibility with the NZXT case. PcPartPicker says the two are not compatible, but I have seen contradictory claims. While SSI CEB is not a listed form factor supported by the case, I have read elsewhere that it uses the same standoff points as a standard ATX mobo and, while wider, would still fit in the case; which answer would be correct in this instance? My other motherboard concerns fit better in other sections, namely the CPU cooler and RAM, so I’ll put them in there.

----------CPU cooler: not really sure here, though I know I’m looking for a good air cooling unit. From what I’ve seen on the net and in forums my chosen ram seems to be low enough profile for some of the bigger heatsinks that reach into the ram slots, though I’m worried about a bigger heatsink making contact with whatever I put in the first PCI-E slot and causing a short. Any recommendations on an electrically non-conductive something-or-other I could stick between a PCI-E card and the CPU cooler to give me worry-free use of the first PCI-E slot (would the backplate on the Asus DCU II fulfill this purpose)? Can a smaller heatsink still provide good cooling for a slight to moderate overclock (around 3.8-4.2GHz)? Right now I am looking into Phanteks PH-TC14PE as a larger option, smaller options being Noctua NH-U12S and Dark Rock Pro 2 (width is only 225mm w/o middle fan).  Also, how likely is it that one of these heavier cooling units will bend my motherboard?

----------Ram: My chosen RAM’s speed is listed as an overclock speed on the P9X79, how confidant can I be that my ram would be stable at the factory default speed of 1866?

Storage: What is the average lifespan of a modern SSD’s in comparison to a mechanical hard drive? How about the failure rate of the Crucial drive listed above compared to another brand/model (say, Samsung 840 EVO 1tb)? Does putting them in RAID do anything to increase or decrease failure probability of the individual drives? Finally -and more out of curiosity than anything else- would SSD caching provide any improvement on a system that exclusively uses SSD storage?

PSU: I plugged the specs for my planned initial build as well as specs for what I plan to add in my future system into (I did not include any CPU overclock numbers), the calculator tended to give results from around 900-1100 recommended wattage depending on whether or not I included parts from the expanded build. I really have no way of knowing how accurate these calculations are, so I figured I’d get a second opinion. Is the Antec PSU overpowered, underpowered or in a good range for my build? If it is overpowered, how much farther down can I go in capacity and still have room to add to my system?


Well I think that’s all of it. If I could get all of my questions answered that would be awesome, though I had a lot so it’s understandable if this doesn’t happen. Thanks for taking the time to read through my wall of text… and apologies for the aforementioned wall of text XD

Finally, if you see any obvious bottlenecks/compatibility issues in my proposed build that I overlooked please let me know.


Bump :)


Where do I start?  How about SSDs.

Your fear of SSD life expectancy has become mute in recent years.  You can reliably expect your SSD to live longer than the life of your computer.  No worries!

I'm not familiar with the SSI CEB form factor, or the NZXT case.  However, if your research is correct, then what will probably happen is the end of your board could extend over the cable routing grommets a little, or maybe even a lot.  If you're seriously worried about it, what you could do is buy a Corsair RM series PSU which has flat cables instead of the thick round braided ones you normally see.  Which leads to my next point, PSUs.

You're definitely not gonna reach 1300W with this system, so you can safely lower your sights to something in the 850W range.  If you go with one of those Corsair RM series PSUs, they have one nestled spot on at 850W here:

For a CPU cooler, the de facto choice is naturally the Noctua NH-D14, and your RAM can sit safely without worry.

Storage.  Gosh.  I've wanted to buy a 1TB SSD for a long time, but I never fathomed anyone buying one as a boot drive.  If anything, I'd say buy a 256/512GB SSD as a boot drive, and then store all of your files on mechanical blue or black Western Digital drives.  THEN, if you want too, put all your games on a 1TB SSD.  But that's still only something I'd do if I had money to throw at that large of an SSD.  But hey, maybe you do.  If so, go for it.

Oh and if you buy case fans, take a look at Noctua's Nf-F12s:

Thanks for the response, that's a lot of questions I can check off my list!

I think I will stick with the phantom 630 as my case. If cable routing is the main issue here I don't see the ~1-inch size increase from ATX being too problematic in a case that supports XL ATX.

I will definitely be going with a lower wattage power supply after hearing this, the wattages coming out of the calculator honestly looked a little ridiculous.

The NH-14D seems like a great option, but it still looks like it would get close to the first PCI-E slot. How would I go about guarding against the metal on the cooler shorting the graphics card or whatever else I put in slot 1, if I should even try using that slot at all. While access to the slot isn't an absolute must, I'd like to keep it available as an option if possible.

The 1TB SSD would be used as both the boot drive and storage, the reason being to keep my drive setup as simplified and streamlined as possible wile maintaining both high speeds and high capacity. I was only going to add a mechanical drive if space started getting limited on the SSD (I usually have many large files on my system at any given time, and my data-hoarding tendencies don't help matters either). It also seems that the lager SSD's have better performance overall. Would this performance increase be counteracted by the fact that I have everything on the same drive?

I have been looking at Noctua for case fans lately, specifically the NF-A14 FLX (higher CFM and larger compared to NF-F12), I only wish they weren't so... brown XD

My only other question remaining is about the RAM speeds; is it likely to be stable at 1866 or will I have to lower it to a non "O.C." speed.

Again, thanks a bunch for answering my questions so comprehensively, this has been a huge help! :D