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A good gaming computer build for $1,200 or under

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April 11, 2013 11:36:02 AM

About me/ lifestyle:
Gaming, Photo/Video Editing and Recoding/ Music maker

Games I like and play:
Borderlands II
Minecraft
Torchlight II (and 1)
Bioshock (All)
Command and Conquer III w/ Kane's Wrath Expansion
Sims 3

Would like to play at 1080p w/ "High" to "Ultra" Settings with about a 20-24" Display (Preferably a 24")

What I am looking for is probably an I5 or I7 as I plan on doing some video editing as well, but primarily gaming, so if the money goes towards an I5 and a really good discrete gpu that is fine.

Idea for specs:
CPU: I5 or I7 open to AMD builds as well, but from what I understand the AMD cpu can be a bottleneck with higher end gpus?
RAM: 8GB to 16GB (Extra ram for future proofing if possible, but won't mind 8GB if the extra money can make the difference between a higher end gpu or cpu.
GPU: AMD or Nvidia I am not a fanboy, whichever gives me best bang for buck and can still play all my games fine. (Something on par or better than my Nvidia GTX 675M in my laptop)
PSU: Enough to power everything (I've read to go about 1.5x or more of the requirements for the build.
Would love a blu-ray drive but can live with a DVD drive if the budget calls for it.
HDD: 1TB or more, I really don't wish to buy an SSD right now as the machine will be on most of the time anyhow.
Keyboard: would love something that is backlit since my room is semi-dark most of the time.
Case: something that permits airflow (I'm kind of looking at the HAF XB (I think, it's the LAN box version.)
OS: Windows 7 x64 (I can get a cheap version from my school so this isn't included in the costs. I'm just saying which OS I will be using.)
Monitor: 20"-24" 1080p LCD/LED Display (24" is preferable)
Wireless Adapter G or N will work fine for where I am located, preferably N though
Cooling: Wouldn't mind using a Corsair Hydro Cooler on the cpu if the Case allows it, as I may overclock the cpu from time to time. But for the most part case cooling should be at max. (Fans in every slot the case has is preferable)
Computer sound: I am hard of hearing so the loudness of the computer isn't a big deal to me.
I already have a decent set of 2.1 speakers and a decent mouse so no need for those.

Cost: $1200 for everything may be able to go over by about $100 if it's worth the upgrade.

Purchase where: I would prefer from 1 of the following: Amazon, Newegg, Microcenter (There is one close to where I live.) Would prefer from 1 store for paperwork's sake.

Timeframe: 2 weeks from now to as far as a month from now. (Depends on if I can get help for the build from Family.) It is a school project I need to do for Summer time which is in about 2 weeks. (It won't be due for at least a month, but I can get started on it sooner.

I do NOT expect anyone to fully do my "Homework" for me, I will be looking at building my own machine and will have my own ideas to toss in, which will be updated on this post. But I would love ideas from others for a full build. As ideas arrive my build may/will be modified so make sure to check out under the heading of "current build idea" below. I just want opinions and ideas. I will also try to put the current cost in my list as will as the total. That way there is a breakdown of what cost what and to see if there is any area that could be modified to better another area without compromising the entire build.

Current Build Idea

Intel I5 3570K 3.4GHZ-$189.99
ASRock Z77 Extreme4 $134.99-$40 for Bundle with CPU
8 GB Crucial Ballistix Sport Ram PC3-12800 CL9- $59.99
Asus HD7870 2GB Card 2x free games as well- $254.99-$20 rebate 2x6-pin power
Antec High Current Gamer 750W Gamer Power Supply HCG-750- $89.99
1TB Seagate Barracuda SATA 6.0Gb/s- $74.99
LG 14X Blu-ray Burner Bare Drive- $59.99
Acer 24" 1080P LED Display Model S242HL- $111.99
Wireless-N- $24.99
Media Keyboard-$ 20
Cooler Master HAF XB Lan Box- $94.99

Total- $1,149.58 after taxes

Still have a $20 rebate on the gpu, and $15 rebate on the Case, so take off $35 from that total (Once I get the rebates back.) But I can't count the rebates as they aren't upfront savings.

Trying to go cheap, but not so cheap it will hinder my gaming.

The 7870 should be fairly better than my laptop's GTX 675M I would think, according to the Hierarchy on this website the 7870 is about 2 tiers above the GTX 675M. As long as it's equal, I think I would be happy for the time being. Plus since it is a desktop I can always upgrade the gpu or crossfire when it does slow down.)

This was all at Microcenter by the way.

If I could cut back on anything to save a little dough. Ram, HDD? Anything? Note: My laptop has a GTX 675M in it and does decent on gaming so anything equal or slightly greater would do me for now.

Thanks for the help!!
a b 4 Gaming
April 11, 2013 12:26:32 PM

Forgive the sloppy reply, but I'd definitely recommend shopping around (vs. buying in 1 single place).

Good on ya' for being close to a MicroCenter, they're the best place to buy your CPU+Motherboard. Always have lower prices than online folks for CPU alone, and offer great bundles on mobo+cpu. From my experience, NewEgg and TigerDirect ALWAYS have better prices on GPUs.

Check out Tom's Hardware charts, then start shopping. If I were buying on that budget, I'd give the 7950 a chance...great performing card for the money. 279.99 after rebate with 2 FREE Games

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...
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a b 4 Gaming
April 11, 2013 7:09:52 PM

You look fine other then the PSU. That is probably junk. MC has great CPU+mobo combos, but in store only. Definately plan to get your CPU and board there. Get the other stuff online from newegg probably. I went with a 7950 myself. Mines needs an 8pin PCIe plug. So if yours does, make sure your PSU supports it.

Don't forget about your copy of windows. Other then that you look good. Do you really need the wireless card?
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April 11, 2013 7:26:34 PM

4745454b said:
You look fine other then the PSU. That is probably junk. MC has great CPU+mobo combos, but in store only. Definately plan to get your CPU and board there. Get the other stuff online from newegg probably. I went with a 7950 myself. Mines needs an 8pin PCIe plug. So if yours does, make sure your PSU supports it.

Don't forget about your copy of windows. Other then that you look good. Do you really need the wireless card?

Wireless? Most definitely, otherwise I won't have internet, the router is too far.

Any GPU that's better than my GTX 675M would do it in all honesty. I go by the it's not out of date until it's out of date for me. And some things still work fine for me. Heck probably the older gtx 550 ti 2GB version would work fine for me. But at the price point I'm sure there are better ones than that. According to: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...

The gtx 550 ti would be a tier better than my laptop's gpu. I can always upgrade the gpu later on. Though I would like to go better than a gtx 550 ti.

Windows has been taken care of thanks to my school's program. So that's done. :) 
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a b 4 Gaming
April 11, 2013 7:55:57 PM

It shouldn't be. If the 5850 is level with your laptops GPU, then the 550TI is for sure behind it.

For the PSU stick with a 500W Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, or XFX. And watch out for any 8pin PCIe connector you might need.
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April 11, 2013 7:59:38 PM

4745454b said:
It shouldn't be. If the 5850 is level with your laptops GPU, then the 550TI is for sure behind it.

For the PSU stick with a 500W Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, or XFX. And watch out for any 8pin PCIe connector you might need.


Ok, will I updated the gpu, it says it needs 2x 6-pin power connectors. (Updated in the main post as well) I will also look into the power supplies, since it's less wattage it may just help in the cost a little as well. specially since I know which brands to look into. :)  Will update my main posting with my finding on psu.
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April 11, 2013 8:04:23 PM

I can help you out with parts. I may be selling my MOBO CPU and PSU, I also have a spare case I can throw in. I have a Asus p67 sabertooth, i7 2600k sandy, and an antec 900w, the case is a cooler master elite 430 mid tower.
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April 11, 2013 8:07:49 PM

tougas said:
I can help you out with parts. I may be selling my MOBO CPU and PSU, I also have a spare case I can throw in. I have a Asus p67 sabertooth, i7 2600k sandy, and an antec 900w, the case is a cooler master elite 430 mid tower.


While it looks good, I don't know how my parents would feel about it. They require a receipt for like EVERYTHING. Since they are helping I'm not 100% certain if they would help me buy your stuff. No offense meant at all man. I do appreciate the help. :)  I can ask them and PM you from there if it's cool.

Also I updated my psu on the main posting.
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April 11, 2013 8:09:33 PM

I only work through pay pal and I have a heatware account which is a trade protection website so there is a paper trail.
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April 11, 2013 8:11:21 PM

tougas said:
I only work through pay pal and I have a heatware account which is a trade protection website so there is a paper trail.


Cool, I'll check and PM you an answer in 24 hours then we can just go from there ok man?
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April 11, 2013 8:14:33 PM

No problem. I may not be able to ship immediately due to the fact they are still part of my system but I will definitely be able to when I get confirmation on my parts coming in that are replacing them.
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April 12, 2013 9:56:34 AM

I updated my system a little with an option, if anyone wants to chime in. :) 
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April 12, 2013 4:38:51 PM

I'm looking at the same budget and here is what I came up with...

You'd prob want to change the storage as my needs do not warrant what you require. I would suggest getting a card with 2GB VRAM as from what I've read, more than that would only be needed for multiple monitor set ups. On top of that, the 660 GPU, from what I've read, the 660 is one of the best bang for the buck cards not to mention NVIDIA supposedly has better driver support for games. Not sure about that though. RAM is so cheap and easy to install, I'd save a few bucks and only go with 8. You can always add on later if needed.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Thermal Compound: Arctic Cooling MX-2 4g Thermal Paste ($4.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($63.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150HG 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter ($13.32 @ Amazon)
Case: NZXT Tempest 210 ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: Enermax UCTVD12A 71.8 CFM 120mm Fan ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Asus VS247H-P 23.6" Monitor ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Speakers: Creative Labs A60 4W 2ch Speakers ($19.55 @ Amazon)
Total: $1076.69
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-12 19:38 EDT-0400)
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April 12, 2013 4:44:17 PM

Just curious you guys do know that most of micro centers items are in store only and cannot be ordered over the internet right. If you near one thats great. I just dont want you guys to get your hopes up.
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April 12, 2013 4:48:36 PM

William Reed said:
I'm looking at the same budget and here is what I came up with...

You'd prob want to change the storage as my needs do not warrant what you require. I would suggest getting a card with 2GB VRAM as from what I've read, more than that would only be needed for multiple monitor set ups. On top of that, the 660 GPU, from what I've read, the 660 is one of the best bang for the buck cards not to mention NVIDIA supposedly has better driver support for games. Not sure about that though.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Thermal Compound: Arctic Cooling MX-2 4g Thermal Paste ($4.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($63.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Samsung 840 Series 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($179.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150HG 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wi-Fi Adapter ($13.32 @ Amazon)
Case: NZXT Tempest 210 ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Case Fan: Enermax UCTVD12A 71.8 CFM 120mm Fan ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Monitor: Asus VS247H-P 23.6" Monitor ($129.99 @ Newegg)
Speakers: Creative Labs A60 4W 2ch Speakers ($19.55 @ Amazon)
Total: $1076.69
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-12 19:38 EDT-0400)


only one case fan? that case can hold six. also your PSU is not modular, meaning the cables are permanently attached to the PSU. This means the extra rails that you dont use will have to be consolidated in your case, and in a mid tower this can be a problem. and 120 GB will disappear fast after windows 7 is installed and patched. youll be looking at around 50-70 GB for actual storage. I also did a quick calculation on your total PSU draw and you looking at around ~330w. that 500w psu will be ok but its not very future proof in my opinion.

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April 12, 2013 4:49:00 PM

tougas said:
Just curious you guys do know that most of micro centers items are in store only and cannot be ordered over the internet right. If you near one thats great. I just dont want you guys to get your hopes up.


I'm about 40 mins tops (with bad traffic) from Microcenter. I have bought from them before, so it's nothing new. Just trying to get a decent build going.
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April 12, 2013 4:50:13 PM

I'm an idiot when it comes to PSU's....I'm sure changing to a modular one is not all that more expensive.
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April 12, 2013 4:56:59 PM

William Reed said:
I'm an idiot when it comes to PSU's....I'm sure changing to a modular one is not all that more expensive.


I also did a quick calculation on your total PSU draw and you looking at around ~330w. that 500w psu will be ok but its not very future proof in my opinion.
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April 12, 2013 5:04:07 PM

I'm willing to bet 500W will last me 18-24 months which is fine for the price point I'm looking at. I have no issue with upgrading my power supply if I want to. I've posted my list to maybe give you ideas.

On your other point, I do not need a bunch of storage myself. On my current lap top with Windows seven installed and a 320GB hard drive I still have 175G free. While that exceeds the storage on the computer I'm buying, its only purpose will to be play games and if I do run out of memory, its not very expensive to get more memory.

I appreciate the criticism and you identifying the issue with PSU was a big help but please remember, this was only an idea for you and it is built to my specific needs which are a little different. The issues you pointed out can be upgraded with in your budget.
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April 12, 2013 5:19:47 PM

I usually avoid the no name power supplies but Its received good reviews so I am sure its safe. Do you plan on upgrading this thing at all because you are close on the optimal ratio for the PSU. The general rule of thumb that Ive learned is that the PSU should be around 1.25 to 1.5 times the need and thats where you are at now. So if you plan on upgrading down the road and you use this psu you could be putting life reducing stress on it. Im just saying it may be better to spend a little more now rather than pay twice if you know what I mean. But its entirely up to your plans with the pc.
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April 12, 2013 5:36:42 PM

I've actually changed again....(and BTW they are all no names to me) to this one SeaSonic SSR-550RM

My budget will not allow me to spend over $100 on PSU and it does not seem I could get a worthy PSU that is "future proof" or has the modular convenience for less than or equal to that. As far as upgrades go...My budget will be better in 1-2 years right at the point I'll start to think about upgrading and to me, $100 for more than 1-2 years of use is fair for what I'm trying to do. Seems at this price point most all of the PSU's only come with two PCIe connectors. I imagine if I upgraded, I'd first go with a SLI set up.
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April 12, 2013 5:49:58 PM

seems good. just read the reviews. its one of those youll know when you know situations. but always refer to the reviews, but keep in mind every product is bound to have a lemon.
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April 13, 2013 8:12:11 AM

I updated my original post. I decided to downgrade a few parts to save. I figured out I needed only 8GB of ram instead of the 16GB as when I am gaming, between my background stuff and game and such I use about 6GB of Ram. Some of the money saved may go into a better cooler for the cpu and such. I personally know the Hydro series coolers are good. (Owned 2 before on previous builds before I got my laptop.) So the money saved may go into that to allow for possible overclocks on the cpu. I also plan on putting in a few more case fans so that will add in, but those are minor and I am not worried about the cost, I have enough to take care of that.
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April 13, 2013 12:42:04 PM

finally made it over here. looks like some good progress. the 8 gigs of ram is a great idea. I run many programs while also keeping games like civ 5 running(I run 3 monitors) and 8 gigs is plenty. the hcg 750 is the same power supply that i have and it is a very good supply at that price. i believe it is a 40+ amps per 12v rail and it will power almost any rig you can throw at it.
most importantly i will direct you again to this graphics card.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
this is based on the 79xx (tahiti)series cards with a 78xx (Pitcairn) labeling. this card overclocked gets the same benchmark scores as a 7950. I just received mine a couple of days ago and it runs everything at ultra and at $235 with Free FC 3 Blood Dragon, Bioshock & Tomb Raider it is a good deal and the consensus best bang for the buck.
lastly the case you picked out seems really nice but for $50 you can get a widely accepted as very good case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I have looked over all the other components and they all get good ratings and you have good prices on everything also.

take the money you save on the case and buy this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
you can go to 5ghz with this cooler and it is only $20 right now. even $100 top of the line coolers will only perform 4-8 degrees better than this cooler and will have no advantage if you only overclock to 4.5-4.6 as my i5 is.
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