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Need GPU advice, general advice welcome

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This is my first time making a hack, I've wanted to for years, and after building computers for other people I finally decided to bite the bullet and do it for myself, without compromising having OS X. I need something that's not so falling-apart as my 2011 MacBook Pro, won't struggle with new games, and I miss dualbooting for games and work. I'm going to stick with El Capitan for the foreseeable future.

This is what I have planned for purchase so far

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5 (undecided on UD5 TH or not), or potentially Gigabyte G1 GA-Z170X-Gaming 7(Maybe Gaming 5?)
CPU: i5-6600K (I would do the 6600 non-K, but the price is negligible rn)
RAM: Crucial 8GBx2 (obviously 288 2133, the basic SKU)
SDD: Samsung PRO/EVO 256GB (whichever is a better deal when I buy it) EDIT: input on how good using an M.2 port for this would be helpful as well

And I'm not decided on the HDD right now but that's not really as critical, and is more of a value at the time of sales kind of thing.

What I need help with is figuring out the graphics card. The finickiest decision. I guess my options for the time being are GTX 960-980, but 980 prices a bit extreme. And there are so many models and variations within that spectrum. Please help me demystify this part a bit more!

(If you have any suggestions for parts I haven't picked yet, case, psu or cooler, I'd love to hear it)
 
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As far as m.2 is concerned, you look at what controls it (controller) and what, if any, SATA ports are disabled when m.2 is enabled. If the ASMedia chip controls it, that may not be a good thing, and if installing a m.2 drive disables SATA0, that also may not be a good thing. For example, https://techreport.com/review/29072/gigabyte-z170x-gaming-7-motherboard-reviewed/2 and https://techreport.com/review/29346/gigabyte-z170x-gaming-g1-motherboard-reviewed/2

Which of those mobos have Intel NICs? Those are the ones to get. The Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5 has an Intel NIC, but you should read all the reviews on all of those mobos to get an idea of their reliability.

Personally, I don't like m.2 drives. Being so small they can be a pain to replace. And you had better use an anti-static strap when handling them, making sure not to touch any pins, etches or chips. ymmv, but I like being able to quickly change a drive, which means 2.5" or 3.5" drives. Imagine 6 months from now you decide to install a bigger m.2 drive... You may have to remove the video card and the CPU heatsink. You install it only to find out it's defective. So you remove the GPU and the heatsink again. Now you find out that you ran out of CPU thermal paste... They're okay in small enclosures like NUCs and SFFs, though. But on the two laptops I repaired today I had to remove the whole motherboard to get to the m.2 drives mounted on the underside. pain.
 
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pastrychef

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Recently, there have been some very good sales on GTX 970s and these give performance that's very close to GTX 980s. But it really boils down to what kind of apps you run. That will determine which video card would be best suited to you.

For maximum compatibility, Nvidia 600-series cards mostly out of the box with Apple's built-in drivers.

M.2 AHCI and M.2 NVMe are PCI-e devices. Whatever SATA controller you have will have no effect on them. They will give you the best single drive performance you can currently have. If you intend to use it for your OS X boot drive, try getting M.2 AHCI as that won't require any special drivers where NVMe will.

M.2 SATA doesn't make sense unless you are pressed for space and need the smallest drive possible.

M.2 drives are no more fragile than any other component. If you can handle installing a CPU and heatsink, you can install an M.2 drive. I've never used any anti-static straps in my decades of handling components and have never had a problem. Use common sense and you'll be fine.

I use a Noctua heatsink/fan in my system and think it's fantastic. Extremely quiet and great cooling ability. If/when it comes time for another build, I wouldn't hesitate to purchase another.

When I was looking for a power supply, Seasonic was the brand that was recommended most to me. I'm currently using an X-series which is compact and silent.

Cases are largely personal preferences, all I can suggest is to look for one that will give good cooling. Ideally, fan mounting locations that allow for air to travel straight through in one direction help maximize cooling for the system.
 
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Thanks so much for both of your replies!

I've definitely fried parts before, but that was when I small kid and insisted on helping my dad build computers, sorry dad.
I've got the wrist strap whatsit and I like to use it just to be sure.
I'm still debating M.2, but I'm fine getting an 840 Samsung Pro, which isn't M.2 anyway. The 950 Pro is the M.2 one, and it's NVMe.

I think I've settled on either Gigabyte GTX 970 4B or MSI GTX 970 4GB for the GPU just because they're two of the cheaper 970s right now. I don't care too much about overclocking bells and whistles, but the possibility of it also isn't something that detracts from a part.
Would it be worth it to get a weaker GPU for now, and wait and see about the 1000 GTXs?

I was considering just getting the Noctua NH-L9x65 33.8 CFM CPU Cooler.
SeaSonic is hard to find in Canada right now, but I'll keep the recommendation in mind

Definitely going with the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5 motherboard, LEANING towards Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5 TH since I do have have some TH stuff already, and don't want to let the TH dream die, even though I will likely almost never use it. As far as I've seen, it really checks out for both general use and hacks. And I definitely do want to be running Windows off of this set up as well (though not the same SDD)
 

pastrychef

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Samsung SM941 and SM951 have AHCI version. SM951 is newer and faster of the two.

If you can wait and just use the built in graphics for now, that's always best.

I don't have any experience with Thunderbolt on hackintoshes. So, I can't comment on that, only to say that you should do lots of reading on that matter before making the decision. From what little I've read, it can get a little tricky.
 
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M.2 drives are no more fragile than any other component. If you can handle installing a CPU and heatsink, you can install an M.2 drive. I've never used any anti-static straps in my decades of handling components and have never had a problem. Use common sense and you'll be fine.

Lots of people don't have common sense. How could they if they don't have experience?, or were never taught how to do things correctly? Trust me, I've replaced a lot of RAM, a lot of disk drives, a lot of blown mobos - all because the tech wasn't properly grounded, or he just didn't care. (What do you say to a guy who disconnects disk drives while they're powered up? When I told him not to do that he screamed back, "I know what I'm doing!" Okay... Another guy pulled a fuser from a printer while it was powered up. I basically prohibited him from ever touching a printer. What do you do when you get a laptop from the field and there isn't a single screw in the unit? Not one! Ever had to replaced every single piece in a laptop - bad mobo, bad display, bad disk drives, bad CPU heatsink, bad DVD burner, bad battery, bad wireless card? - every single piece was bad. You know what happened don't you - the guy used one machine to fix others then sent it to me to be repaired. I couldn't be restrained...

It took a long time to convince my boss to use an anti-static strap. We went out a server bad mem call. He replaced it and just looking at how he handled it I said, "This call will come back in 9 months..." Sure enough, 9 months later the RAM went bad. He did it again, and I said, "Well, this call will come back in about 9 months." Sure enough, about 9 months later the RAM went bad. This time he came prepared and used an anti-static strap and now handles the RAM correctly. It's been over three years without a memory error. (Out of 10 sites one site has an inordinate amount of bad RAM calls. I figure the tech didn't handle the mem sticks correctly. I just get to repair his carelessness...

Common sense? While you and I may have it don't expect others to have the same knowledge, the same professionalism, the same drive and passion. A lot of today's generation just don't care. They break something - it isn't their money... One guy actually said that to me, "Ask me if I care..." I wanted to wring his neck. But he was connected. Now when he sends something in I make him wait about 8 weeks before he gets it back. Everybody else gets it in a week.

An m.2 SSD is an electronic device - it has memory chips on it, it has controller chips on it, it has gold fingers, it has etches on it. All are susceptible to static. And it's precisely because of that that I will never buy a returned item at my local Frys Electronics - you never know if the guy before you blew it out or weakened it. Weaken the SSD and when it goes you have to send it back or eat the cost.

Ever wonder why some mobos advertise USB ports that are protected against static electricity? Ever see someone plug in a cell phone into a USB port to charge it and then find out that they have blown all the USB ports on the mobo? Common sense doesn't come into play then.

There are times when my body is over charged. I can be wearing thick work gloves and static will go right through it. Live in a low humidity place like AZ and it shouldn't be long before you realise that you're causing a lot of sparks.

Me, I'd rather use an $8 antistatic strap than potentially harm a $300 SS drive or a memory stick.
 
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pastrychef

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It took a long time to convince my boss to use an anti-static strap. We went out a server bad mem call. He replaced it and just looking at how he handled it I said, "This call will come back in 9 months..." Sure enough, 9 months later the RAM went bad. He did it again, and I said, "Well, this call will come back in about 9 months." Sure enough, about 9 months later the RAM went bad. This time he came prepared and used an anti-static strap and now handles the RAM correctly. It's been over three years without a memory error. (Out of 10 sites one site has an inordinate amount of bad RAM calls. I figure the tech didn't handle the mem sticks correctly. I just get to repair his carelessness...

I find this hard to believe. If he zapped the RAM with static, it should have manifested itself immediately. This is especially true with ECC RAM which would show errors.

How is it possible to visually tell when RAM can go bad from static?

Common sense? While you and I may have it don't expect others to have the same knowledge, the same professionalism, the same drive and passion. A lot of today's generation just don't care. They break something - it isn't their money... One guy actually said that to me, "Ask me if I care..." I wanted to wring his neck. But he was connected. Now when he sends something in I make him wait about 8 weeks before he gets it back. Everybody else gets it in a week.

It takes no effort to ground yourself on a case before handling a component. If you're really paranoid, keep the computer plugged in with the physical power switch off for even better grounding.
 
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No, zapping doesn't necessarily cause it to die immediately.

I worked in a computer factory for one whole day - you would not believe the precautions they took against static electricity. Shoe? off; booties on. Walk over to work station. Anti static mat on floor. Step on. Add wrist strap. If a boss saw you not properly grounded when you touched any piece of equipment (like taking RAM out of the tray) you were summarily shown the door.

You and I know how to work around electronics, but not everyone else does. I have seen techs install PCI cards with the power cord connected and then they were surprised that it powered up all by itself. It happens. I just read a guy said that the chances of killing a piece of electronic equipment, like RAM or a CPU, is the same as being hit by lightning. Someone should tell him that people get hit by lightning all the time. (I've been thinking of adding lightning rods to my house. My friend said that houses seldom get hit my lightning. That very weekend a house was hit by lightning, burning it down. I don't know if I could live in a place like Florida...)

Anyway, it's cheap insurance to take static precautions. I'm sure that there must be videos on it on YouTube. Maybe they'll even have one where the guy warns against ever letting your cat near your PC. :D

And as it concerns laptops - if I walk into a site and I see a laptop that has been taken apart, I write down the model, serial number and asset tag number. I then inform the tech that since he has taken it upon himself to do his own repairs he has also taken it upon himself to pay for the parts. I tell him that he and his boss will be getting the memo shortly. In the case of the aforementioned laptop without a single screw and all the parts bad, it cost more to repair it than to buy another one.

Common sense? Common sense says not to put a laptop to the side and then send it in for repairs two weeks after the warranty has expired. Common sense says that if you see that the colour laser printer box is all smashed up you don't wait over a year before opening the box. Try convincing UPS that it was their fault a year after they delivered it.

--------------------------------- "Stay on target... Stay on target...." ------------------------------

M0stlyharmless,

The right time to buy electronics is at Christmas time. So, if you can wait until then you should be able to save some serious bucks. You just know that Newegg will have some great sales. As far as your memory choice goes, why not go with 64GB of DDR4 2133 for about $220? The good stuff can cost about twice that, but ~$225 for 64GB seems cheap enough.
 
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Samsung SM941 and SM951 have AHCI version. SM951 is newer and faster of the two.
If you can wait and just use the built in graphics for now, that's always best.

I don't have any experience with Thunderbolt on hackintoshes. So, I can't comment on that, only to say that you should do lots of reading on that matter before making the decision. From what little I've read, it can get a little tricky.
SM951 is the Samsung 950 PRO, right? That's NVMe, or at least was intended to be. I saw something about it actually coming out with a AHCI version initially. I'd stick to an 850 PRO or EVO, or the 840 PRO.
On the GPU front, I think I'll go with one of those two 970, since I don't want to finally upgrade to customized computer and not be able to get back to computer gaming. I might regret it, but I don't think the 1060 is especially necessary for my uses. I don't need 4K ultra quality games or new-gen VR. Just trying to decide on whether I want the slightly faster clock rate or more diversity of ports.

Yeah, thinking that Thunderbolt would just plug and play, especially 3, was a overeager mistake on my part. Going to go for just the Gigabyte GA-Z170X-UD5. I still have a working thunderbolt macbook pro anyway.

The right time to buy electronics is at Christmas time. So, if you can wait until then you should be able to save some serious bucks. You just know that Newegg will have some great sales. As far as your memory choice goes, why not go with 64GB of DDR4 2133 for about $220? The good stuff can cost about twice that, but ~$225 for 64GB seems cheap enough.

64 GB is a bit much for me! Was going to upgrade from 16 GB to 32 GB. Not especially interested in waiting until Christmas to put this together, Crucial isn't that pricy for the 32 GB range. I know for 16 GB, 2x8 is better, but is 4x8 or 2x16 better for 32GB?
 
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SM951 is the Samsung 950 PRO, right? That's NVMe, or at least was intended to be. I saw something about it actually coming out with a AHCI version initially...
The Samsung 950 is the M.2 NVMe SSD while the 951 model is a M.2 ACHI SSD.
 
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