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Build vs Buy? How should a PC n00b approach the world of gaming?

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April 27, 2013 4:24:56 PM

What's up Tom's Hardware? PC n00b here. I've got a bit of a conundrum. Here's my story, tl;dr, sorry. But I think that it will give perspective into my situation.

Basically, kid is geeked on Transformers. Wanted to play Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. I'm a Mac household. Fall of Cybertron doesn't run on Mac. It's going on 5 yrs old and has been giving me problems, so I didn't want to use Parallels. I had a work laptop that is basically borderline in terms of hardware needs. So I chanced it. It has processing power, just no graphics. FoC plays, but when things get graphics intensive, it will crash. Not all the time though, and we can limp along. But it gets terribly frustrating at times.

I'm a mechanic by trade, so I'm not all thumbs. But it really doesn't matter when you don't have any experience in whatever it is you want to do. After going over numerous threads this past week concerning the Sticky's on builds, parts choosing, components, etc., I have a small idea of what it will take to build a basic gaming rig. I've read numerous threads on "$500 gaming pc advice." I hate to add to that collection. So while this is sort of a "$500 gaming pc advice" type of thread, it also has a 2nd part to that question.

I've gone to pcpartpicker.com and threw a build together which fits into my budget. But at the same time, since I've never built a PC before (Although I would love to. It seems extremely fun and a bit of a challenge. Something I'm very open to, and actually would really look forward to), would buying something like THIS be a better option?


Approximate Purchase Date: Doesn't have to be right away. Within a month, at least.

Budget Range: MUST come in under $750

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, internet, DL'd movies.

Parts Not Required: Monitor, keyboard, mouse.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: pcpartpicker.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Whatever works best together.

Overclocking: Would love to, but I think it's outside my budget.

SLI or Crossfire: Outside my budget.

Monitor Resolution: My 1080p flatscreen.

Additional Comments: As I've stated, I've never built before. So there's a bit of apprehension in that regard. I threw together a build, not sure if it's good or not. Comments, bad or good, would be GREATLY appreciated. I have no problem just buying something from BestBuy or private. I just thought it would be a great project that I could gain some experience on, as well as build upon/upgrade in the future.

Thoughts on my pcpartpicker.com build?

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TYM0
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TYM0/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TYM0/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3350P 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.32 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($207.55 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N250PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($22.19 @ Amazon)
Case: Zalman Z5 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $720.98
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-30 02:59 EDT-0400)

Thanks for all your time and efforts in reading this long arse post and putting up with my n00b-ism. I appreciate all feedback, good or bad, and if buying is better, don't be afraid to say it. Thank you to all you people do to help this community and further the knowledge of pc-illiterate individuals, such as me. ;) 
April 27, 2013 4:47:28 PM

The video card in the computer of the link you provided the lowest(worst) in the GT6xx series, the GTX650Ti will be much better(Don't expect much from a $30 card). The i3-3220 is a decent processor with hyperthreading so it would be better than the AMD. You may want to get a 500 watt power supply from these brands: Corsair, Antec, Seasonic. The problem with buying a PC is that they have bad quality parts most of the time, especially the power supply which is very important. Another weak point is, in the sub $1000 price range, most of them have a bad video card. For example, they put in a Core i7 but only a GT610. The i7 would basically be wasted.
And building the computer is also a great learning experience, and you will feel a (Quote) 'sense of achievement'.
Also, the individual parts should be covered by warranties from their respective manufacturers.
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April 27, 2013 4:56:32 PM

That prebuilt system you linked to is a bit of a rip-off. The one you put together is MUCH better.

Even so, you could perhaps change some things around. Like spending less on the motherboard since you won't be overclocking. Finding a cheaper GTX 650 Ti should be possible, or if not, then the faster GTX 650 Ti Boost is in the same price range.
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April 27, 2013 4:57:45 PM

Matsushima said:
The video card in the computer of the link you provided the lowest(worst) in the GT6xx series, the GTX650Ti will be much better(Don't expect much from a $30 card). The i3-3220 is a decent processor with hyperthreading so it would be better than the AMD. You may want to get a 500 watt power supply from these brands: Corsair, Antec, Seasonic. The problem with buying a PC is that they have bad quality parts most of the time, especially the power supply which is very important. Another weak point is, in the sub $1000 price range, most of them have a bad video card. For example, they put in a Core i7 but only a GT610. The i7 would basically be wasted.
And building the computer is also a great learning experience, and you will feel a (Quote) 'sense of achievement'.
Also, the individual parts should be covered by warranties from their respective manufacturers.


Thanks for the quick reply. I guess the CL PC is out of the question, lol. I take it that building would be a much better avenue? BTW, what are your thoughts on my build, besides the under powered PSU? Are there any revisions you would make?
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April 27, 2013 4:59:40 PM

Sakkura said:
That prebuilt system you linked to is a bit of a rip-off. The one you put together is MUCH better.

Even so, you could perhaps change some things around. Like spending less on the motherboard since you won't be overclocking. Finding a cheaper GTX 650 Ti should be possible, or if not, then the faster GTX 650 Ti Boost is in the same price range.



Thanks for the reply. Won't be replying to that post. Appreciate the feedback!

I chose that motherboard with the intention of leaving the upgrade window open. But, it may be smarter to downgrade the mobo and use the GTX 650 Ti Boost like you said.
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April 27, 2013 5:01:33 PM

Gaming console?

That transformers game is also available on consoles as well and the cost of entry is lower, such as the XBOX 360. If that game isn't an absolute must, perhaps getting a PS4 for Christmas (quantity depending) is a good alternative?

The PS4 is going to be quite awesome so before completely investing in a gaming PC with all its issues, you may wish to read about it. Cost of the console is expected to be between $400 and $500 (including peripherals). The PC will end up costing close to 2x that once you add the controller, Windows etc.

PC's are also not really ideal yet for the living room (you mentioned a Flatscreen). The PS4 would be quieter, support BluRay, remote control and is simply easier and simpler to setup.

*I'm a hardcore PC gamer but it is frustrating how you seem to need to upgrade the graphics card etc every few years to play the latest game properly. The PS4 won't necessarily have the same quality as a high-end PC, especially in a few years, but for many that's not a big deal. Fun and simplicity is.

FANS:
To keep your gaming PC as quiet as possible, you're going to want to:
1) get a good CPU cooler
2) ensure the CPU cooler fan is PWM and that the motherboard BIOS/Windows software supports this and is setup properly
3) case fans are also speed-controlled
4) quality PSU
5) *Graphics card cooler is quiet (sometimes the noisiest component)
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April 27, 2013 5:07:53 PM

roadster99 said:
Sakkura said:
That prebuilt system you linked to is a bit of a rip-off. The one you put together is MUCH better.

Even so, you could perhaps change some things around. Like spending less on the motherboard since you won't be overclocking. Finding a cheaper GTX 650 Ti should be possible, or if not, then the faster GTX 650 Ti Boost is in the same price range.


I chose that motherboard with the intention of leaving the upgrade window open. But, it may be smarter to downgrade the mobo and use the GTX 650 Ti Boost like you said.

Upgrading to newer CPUs won't be possible with current Intel motherboards anyway, since Intel are changing to a new socket. Which, by the way, will happen in June. Unfortunately, they won't release new budget processors (like a new Core i3) at that time.

If you are interested in having an upgrade path, you could go with an AMD system instead, with eg. an FX-6300 CPU.
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April 27, 2013 5:10:38 PM

Sorry, Correction: Your PSU will be able to power the GTX 650Ti as it meets the 400W requirement. Just make sure it has a 6-pin PCIe power connector and you are good. Since you are not oveclocking, you do not have to buy an expensive motherboard like Sakkura said with Z77. H77/B75 is suitable. You might want to get a faster card like the GTX 650Ti Boost or even a GTX660/7870 if you can afford.

Alternatively, you may be able to wait for the new Haswell processors from Intel. Otherwise I would suggest maybe a FX-4300 from AMD? Not the FX-41xx/61xx/81xx models. Then you also get the benefit of an unlocked multiplier, which means you can overlcock with a good cooler (Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO)
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April 27, 2013 5:24:40 PM

photonboy said:
Gaming console?


Well, I already coughed up the $$ for the PC version. Plus we have a PS2 (yeah, yeah, it's a dinosaur) that NEVER gets played for some reason. May be the games I have, they are a bit old and are played on an extremely outdated console, but there's no interest right now with the console. I really don't know why that is. Plus, maybe I'm oldschool, but I have some sort of impression that PC gaming > console gaming. Derp.

photonboy said:

FANS:
To keep your gaming PC as quiet as possible, you're going to want to:
1) get a good CPU cooler
2) ensure the CPU cooler fan is PWM and that the motherboard BIOS/Windows software supports this and is setup properly
3) case fans are also speed-controlled
4) quality PSU
5) *Graphics card cooler is quiet (sometimes the noisiest component)


So I'm missing a good CPU cooler in my build? I was under the impression that it is not needed for basic builds unless you're overclocking. Maybe I misunderstood?
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April 27, 2013 5:25:28 PM

A good cooling system is required when there is bad airflow inside your case. Speed-controlled case fans are not a necessity, but there's no harm in getting them. Sometimes the stock heatsink is a bit noisy. Some case fans (at least 1 if the case is small) are required ALONGSIDE the CPU cooler for an optiml cooling system.
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April 27, 2013 5:33:40 PM

Updated the build in my post. Sorry for the confusion.

Downgraded Z77 Mobo to H77 Mobo, upgraded GTX 650 Ti to GTX 650 Ti Boost, changed case & PSU. Added some case fans.
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April 27, 2013 5:35:15 PM

Here is a build with a case; you can do some overclocking with this too
PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Thermal Compound: Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Polysynthetic Silver 12g Thermal Paste ($15.23 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($73.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card ($128.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($8.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Power Supply: Antec Basiq Plus 550W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($90.91 @ Amazon)
Total: $736.97
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-27 20:34 EDT-0400)

I put in DDR3-1866 because the FX series can take advantage of it.
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April 27, 2013 5:39:06 PM

roadster99 said:
Updated the build in my post. Sorry for the confusion.

Downgraded H77 mobo to Z77, upgraded GTX 650 Ti to GTX 650 Ti Boost, added CPU cooler, changed case & PSU.


Since the i3-3220 cannot overclock third-party coolers are not exactly necessary; and you downgrade from Z77 to H77 (Z77>H77>B75) not the other way around.
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April 27, 2013 5:48:50 PM

Matsushima said:
Here is a build with a case; you can do some overclocking with this too
PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TsMO/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Thermal Compound: Arctic Silver 5 High-Density Polysynthetic Silver 12g Thermal Paste ($15.23 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($73.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card ($128.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($8.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Power Supply: Antec Basiq Plus 550W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($69.99 @ Amazon)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($90.91 @ Amazon)
Total: $736.97
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-27 20:34 EDT-0400)

I put in DDR3-1866 because the FX series can take advantage of it.


Sick build. Still under budget. I'll have to weigh my options, Intel vs AMD. I might enjoy the OC ability of AMD. Otherwise, if I were to stick with Intel, no other problems with the build list? Thanks for putting in the time.

And yikes. There's my n00b-ishness on display. Fixed post to make sense.
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April 27, 2013 7:13:57 PM

Theoretically, there should be no problems. Just check your power supply has the PCIe connector. The ASUS mobo has native support for AM3+ processors, but if you're not sure replace the FX-6300 with the 6100. There is not much difference.
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April 27, 2013 8:18:20 PM

Edit - The FX 6100 is guaranteed to work with the Asus motherboard so get that instead
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April 27, 2013 9:18:53 PM

roadster99 said:
photonboy said:
Gaming console?


Well, I already coughed up the $$ for the PC version. Plus we have a PS2 (yeah, yeah, it's a dinosaur) that NEVER gets played for some reason. May be the games I have, they are a bit old and are played on an extremely outdated console, but there's no interest right now with the console. I really don't know why that is. Plus, maybe I'm oldschool, but I have some sort of impression that PC gaming > console gaming. Derp.

photonboy said:

FANS:
To keep your gaming PC as quiet as possible, you're going to want to:
1) get a good CPU cooler
2) ensure the CPU cooler fan is PWM and that the motherboard BIOS/Windows software supports this and is setup properly
3) case fans are also speed-controlled
4) quality PSU
5) *Graphics card cooler is quiet (sometimes the noisiest component)


So I'm missing a good CPU cooler in my build? I was under the impression that it is not needed for basic builds unless you're overclocking. Maybe I misunderstood?


Stock coolers are much noisier than even a good $20 CPU cooler. It's about noise, not overclocking potential. Same for graphics cards. Some are far noisier than others when gaming. ASUS has good coolers for example.

PSU's generally have the fan at the lowest speed until 50% load then RAMP UP getting noisier. Even if you can get away with a 500W quality PSU you may wish to consider a 650W instead.

I think you implied this would be in the living room so the noise level is even more important.
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April 27, 2013 10:27:03 PM

Too true. I had to underclock and undervolt (must change signature) my processor to decrease the speed of the stock heatsink fan and keep it within acceptable temps. As for PSUs you really do not 650 watts. From experience, PSU fans are not that noisy compared to others. However, some models especially from quality manufacturers have speed-controlled fans that spin up when there is load.
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April 27, 2013 10:38:42 PM

Watercooling is quiet; you can find some closed loop watercoolers for the price of a decent air cooler that does not require a lot of maintenance.
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April 27, 2013 10:38:43 PM

Watercooling is quiet; you can find some closed loop watercoolers for the price of a decent air cooler that does not require a lot of maintenance.
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April 27, 2013 11:32:46 PM

Welcome to the world of DIY PC building

I recommend building your PC; the customization options are endless and it's quiet easy to do! This is what I would suggest:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-4300 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($109.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: Asus M5A97 LE R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($73.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($60.30 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.22 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($190.00 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($90.91 @ Amazon)
Total: $698.36
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-28 02:23 EDT-0400)

The FX-4300 is a great AMD CPU. It's a cheap quad-core CPU that can be overclocked. It also runs on the cheaper AM3+ platform. All in all, it's a good buy. I have an older system running on an AMD CPU and it's still doing great!
Take a look at http://cpuboss.com/cpus/Intel-Core-i3-3220-vs-AMD-FX-43...
The intel CPU has much better efficiency per core and consumes less power, but the FX 4300 has better overall performance and is overclockable.

Motherboard is solid, Asus is known for high-quality motherboards.

The RAM is super-fast, which will help speed up the FX 4300 (marginally)

An okay hard drive.

A great GPU for an amazing price. The 7870 GHz edition will surely last you a long time and will be able to max plenty of games.

The case is very good. For a first build, you want a good case that won't cause your problems.

The PSU is very stable. It is also semi-modular which will help make wiring easier.

Optical Drive and OS, nothing special.

With the remaining ~$50, you can choose between a small SSD for your OS (64GB), a cheap CPU cooler such as the 212 +/evo or a GPU upgrade, e.g. http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-video-card-hd7870dc22...

Good luck on your build!
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April 28, 2013 12:56:11 AM

In regard to an AMD build (since I have my Intel build SET), what are the benefits of fx-4300 vs x4 965 BE? I put this together (tweaked Matsushima's build a bit):

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TBau
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TBau/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/TBau/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 975 3.6GHz Quad-Core Processor ($97.99 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock 970 EXTREME4 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($98.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($66.47 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.22 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost 2GB Video Card ($174.98 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($8.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Rosewill REDBONE U3 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($8.99 @ Mac Mall)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($93.31 @ Amazon)
Total: $709.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-28 13:29 EDT-0400)

Thoughts on fund allocation? I figured that I would go with the slightly better mobo and the x4 965 BE (If I go with AMD, I will be overclocking this CPU). I also went with the GTX 650 Ti Boost, as I thought it was a "best bang for your buck (as well as having to take advantage of the current discounts and rebate for the 7870; See below)," and Corsair RAM.

I guess the questions are, X4 965 BE vs FX-4300 & GTX 650 Ti Boost vs HD 7870? I feel like I'm kind of skimping on the GPU, which I really shouldn't do, but I am only running FoC at the moment (for my kid). Plus, I won't get my "bonus" that will make this all possible until next month and the promo that allows me to buy the 7870 for dirt cheap won't be available next month. But, that isn't to say I personally won't get into other games, such as Modern Warfare or BattleField. Sigh. What to do...
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April 28, 2013 1:19:42 AM

Getting a bit into the underlying CPU architecture here, but a Phenom II X4 965 is a true quad core while the FX-4300 is kind of between a dual and quad core*. I suspect the Phenom II will perform better in what your after (games) since the Bulldozer/Piledriver architectures arent that great for single threaded performance.
Your comparing the higher end of the last gen with the low end of this gen.
I suggest if you can stretch the budget, get an FX-6300. After a bit of overclocking, its a very good chip at its price point.

The 7870 is a better card outright and comes with free games (Bioshock Infinite, the new Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3: Blood dragon from memory), go for it. Its also a beastly overclocker.

*Explanation of what I mean.
A "Core" has been traditionally defined as a memory cache and a processing unit paired together. All CPU's up to this point have used that. AMD with its Bulldozer architecture decided to do something different, and they have two processing units paired with a single dedicated cache in whats called a "Bulldozer Module", which translates to their marketing team as a Dual Core. The FX-4300 has two of these modules, hence its marketed as a Quad core, despite it not really by the true definition of a "Core".
What you need to know is, this allows greater multi-threaded performance while reducing single threaded performance. Games are largely single threaded applications.
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April 28, 2013 1:31:24 AM

manofchalk said:
I suggest if you can stretch the budget, get an FX-6300. After a bit of overclocking, its a very good chip at its price point.


Since I will mainly be using this system for gaming and internet use, I had understood (and correct me if I'm wrong) that a hexa core CPU will basically be a waste. What I mean is that I won't be using it's threading capabilities to it's full potential. Therefore a quad core processor will be ideal for my application, so long I don't choose the Intel build.

Is my logic correct?

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April 28, 2013 1:37:52 AM

Again, the Bulldozer modules used in current AMD chips aren't true "Cores". An FX-6300 is between a Core i3 (Dual) and i5 (Quad) for gaming performance, and an i5 is whats typically recommended for gaming purposes.
If you apply that Hexa core rule to the Intel lineup, then your looking at $500+ CPU's, where you definitely don't need the performance they offer for gaming and internet browsing.

Its not just core count that dictates performance.
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April 28, 2013 1:54:51 AM

After taking into consideration all of the feedback, I have my 2 builds here:

Intel (budget based?)

VERSUS

AMD (performance based?)

Thoughts/opinions/feedback in regard to either build and/or which you would choose on a personal basis?

Time to mull over my options. Thanks, everyone, for the time and effort into helping me find the light at the end of the tunnel.
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April 28, 2013 1:57:35 AM

manofchalk said:
Getting a bit into the underlying CPU architecture here, but a Phenom II X4 965 is a true quad core while the FX-4300 is kind of between a dual and quad core*. I suspect the Phenom II will perform better in what your after (games) since the Bulldozer/Piledriver architectures arent that great for single threaded performance.
Your comparing the higher end of the last gen with the low end of this gen.
I suggest if you can stretch the budget, get an FX-6300. After a bit of overclocking, its a very good chip at its price point.

The 7870 is a better card outright and comes with free games (Bioshock Infinite, the new Tomb Raider and Far Cry 3: Blood dragon from memory), go for it. Its also a beastly overclocker.

*Explanation of what I mean.
A "Core" has been traditionally defined as a memory cache and a processing unit paired together. All CPU's up to this point have used that. AMD with its Bulldozer architecture decided to do something different, and they have two processing units paired with a single dedicated cache in whats called a "Bulldozer Module", which translates to their marketing team as a Dual Core. The FX-4300 has two of these modules, hence its marketed as a Quad core, despite it not really by the true definition of a "Core".
What you need to know is, this allows greater multi-threaded performance while reducing single threaded performance. Games are largely single threaded applications.

If I am correct, only some 970 chipset motherboards support native Piledriver without updating BIOS?
An i5-3350P would ideally suit your purpose, but it is a little over budget

To clarify things:
Phenom II=for example, quadcore 4MB cache=1024KB for each core.
Bulldozer=quadcore 4MB=4 cores, 4MB SHARED cache
A Phenom II will work with any AM3 motherboard unless the wattage is higher than 95 watts. Always check the CPU support list.

A 7870XT/LE will be better; it is essentially a crippled 7970.
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April 28, 2013 2:04:11 AM

Matsushima said:
An i5-3350P would ideally suit your purpose, but it is a little over budget


The i5 forces me to spend a bit more than I would like to. I know that it is the way to go in regard to CPU's (Intel vs AMD), but I don't think I can afford the i5 series and spend what I want to spend. I guess if I was backed into a corner I could pull a bit more $$ out of the wallet, but that's something I really don't want to do. I'm trying to balance budget vs performance, hence the GTX 650 Ti Boost and i3/AMD FX-6300, but it's difficult to do with a limited budget. I guess all in all, I'm looking for the best bang for your buck.

Your thoughts on my Intel vs AMD builds and which you would choose and why?

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April 28, 2013 2:13:29 AM

Of the two builds, would go with the AMD build. Though I suspect either would perform fine for the level of games your playing.

Not as well versed on AMD hardware as I am with Intel, but as far as I know all the 900 series chipsets support Piledriver and Bulldozer just fine. Its only the older chipsets that require a BIOS update.
In regards to wattage I think that's to do with AM2 and AM3 compatibility.

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April 28, 2013 2:24:11 AM

manofchalk said:
Of the two builds, would go with the AMD build. Though I suspect either would perform fine for the level of games your playing.

Not as well versed on AMD hardware as I am with Intel, but as far as I know all the 900 series chipsets support Piledriver and Bulldozer just fine. Its only the older chipsets that require a BIOS update.
In regards to wattage I think that's to do with AM2 and AM3 compatibility.



The 965 BE is a true quadcore, you may want to consider using that. Some budget 'black socket' (AM3+) motherboards (760G chipset) do not natively support AM3+ processors and can only support >95W TDP processors however all 9xx chipset motherboards should work with Bulldozer and AM3 processors.
On some 970 motherboards, Piledriver still needs a BIOS update
I would change the FX-6300 to a Phenom II 955/965 BE
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April 28, 2013 2:27:45 AM

Matsushima said:
I would change the FX-6300 to a Phenom II 955/965 BE


Why though?
Despite the FX-6300 not using true cores, it will still outperform a Phenom II by a large margin.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/102?vs=699
And thats at stock speeds, and the FX-6300 benefits a lot with some overclocking.
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April 28, 2013 2:36:36 AM

The Piledriver would sometimes need a BIOS update on 970 chipsets-check the CPU support list. Bulldozer's performance was disappointing, though you could take the chance

The AMD Athlon II 750K on the FM2 platform is a good overclockable budget quadcore that can also support DDR3-1866. You will need a different motherboard (FM2 socket) though and dedicated graphics.

However in terms of raw performance the FX-6300 will beat any of them.
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April 28, 2013 2:54:00 AM

Matsushima said:
The Piledriver would sometimes need a BIOS update on 970 chipsets


Yeah, you're right. I did some digging and it's not compatible by default. I'll most likely do better with a 990 chipset. I guess the x4 965 BE would be best. At least to stay within budget. I guess I'm going against the "build for the future" mantra and opting out for "build for the now." Ah well, what can you do with limited funds?

Posts updated to reflect X4 965 BE CPU (actually, X4 975 since it's a few bucks more).
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April 29, 2013 1:05:07 AM

roadster99 said:
Matsushima said:
The Piledriver would sometimes need a BIOS update on 970 chipsets


Yeah, you're right. I did some digging and it's not compatible by default. I'll most likely do better with a 990 chipset. I guess the x4 965 BE would be best. At least to stay within budget. I guess I'm going against the "build for the future" mantra and opting out for "build for the now." Ah well, what can you do with limited funds?

Posts updated to reflect X4 965 BE CPU (actually, X4 975 since it's a few bucks more).


Some motherboards support flashing the BIOS without having a CPU present. I know some of the ASUS boards support this. It's not important if you're certain your motherboard will support your CPU without a BIOS update.
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April 29, 2013 2:53:57 PM

photonboy said:

Some motherboards support flashing the BIOS without having a CPU present. I know some of the ASUS boards support this. It's not important if you're certain your motherboard will support your CPU without a BIOS update.


I've updated my BIOS on my laptops numerous times. I don't recall it being very difficult besides basically running the BIOS update.exe. Is it that much more difficult when jumping from CPU to CPU?
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April 29, 2013 2:59:55 PM

It's not difficult as long as you already have a CPU that works in it. It's only a problem if you buy a motherboard and CPU that aren't compatible until the BIOS has been updated - because updating the BIOS in many cases requires a compatible CPU installed. So you run into a chicken and egg situation... unless you have another CPU that the motherboard is compatible with out of the box.
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April 29, 2013 4:10:58 PM

Sakkura said:
It's not difficult as long as you already have a CPU that works in it. It's only a problem if you buy a motherboard and CPU that aren't compatible until the BIOS has been updated - because updating the BIOS in many cases requires a compatible CPU installed. So you run into a chicken and egg situation... unless you have another CPU that the motherboard is compatible with out of the box.


Thanks for the feedback in regard to this thread. Appreciate it. BTW, you aren't interested in giving your opinion toward my Intel vs AMD builds? They're actually quite similar. Just wondering about people's opinions concerning CPU/motherboard combo's and/or deficiencies in certain aspects of the build(s).

Otherwise, thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the thread and expand my knowledge in regard to my first attempt at a PC build. I truly appreciate it.
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April 29, 2013 4:37:09 PM

roadster99 said:
Sakkura said:
It's not difficult as long as you already have a CPU that works in it. It's only a problem if you buy a motherboard and CPU that aren't compatible until the BIOS has been updated - because updating the BIOS in many cases requires a compatible CPU installed. So you run into a chicken and egg situation... unless you have another CPU that the motherboard is compatible with out of the box.


Thanks for the feedback in regard to this thread. Appreciate it. BTW, you aren't interested in giving your opinion toward my Intel vs AMD builds? They're actually quite similar. Just wondering about people's opinions concerning CPU/motherboard combo's and/or deficiencies in certain aspects of the build(s).

Otherwise, thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the thread and expand my knowledge in regard to my first attempt at a PC build. I truly appreciate it.

So if you're not updating BIOS the traditional way, make sure the motherboard has that feature. Sometimes they do have a feature that allows you to do this, but some motherboards you need to enable it in the BIOS first(For example: my motherboard)... lol So it's always good to check the manufacturer's website first and find out what you can about flashing BIOS and that stuff.

Also, you can buy a really cheap processor like the Sempron 145 that is AM3 to update BIOS, but this will cost you at least $40.
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April 29, 2013 4:49:15 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($109.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($47.98 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card ($235.66 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Tempest 410 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $754.55
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-28 21:03 EDT-0400)

Just $4 above budget, but I assume that wont be a problem. First of all, i5 3570k, king of gaming CPU. Got you a decent motherboard that can overclock. Bagged you a great video card, the 7870LE is basically a 7950, because it uses Tahiti architecture.
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April 29, 2013 5:14:31 PM

ballerslife said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($109.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($47.98 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card ($235.66 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Tempest 410 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $754.55
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-28 21:03 EDT-0400)

Just $4 above budget, but I assume that wont be a problem. First of all, i5 3570k, king of gaming CPU. Got you a decent motherboard that can overclock. Bagged you a great video card, the 7870LE is basically a 7950, because it uses Tahiti architecture.


3570K, overclocking Z77 board... Did you not forget something? A Hyper 212?

If you are not overclocking then the 3350P(non overclocking CPU) is the king of gaming processors. $40 cheaper and is really the same. (3.1GHz vs 3.4GHz)
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April 29, 2013 5:19:12 PM

ballerslife said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Pro4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($109.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($47.98 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card ($235.66 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Tempest 410 ATX Mid Tower Case ($59.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($17.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $754.55
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-04-28 21:03 EDT-0400)

Just $4 above budget, but I assume that wont be a problem. First of all, i5 3570k, king of gaming CPU. Got you a decent motherboard that can overclock. Bagged you a great video card, the 7870LE is basically a 7950, because it uses Tahiti architecture.


Won't be a problem, but the build is on the upper limit of my budget. Thanks for the input.

Quick question in regard to the build, you don't recommend a CPU cooler when overclocking? Or case fans? Or do fans come with that case?

Matsushima said:
So if you're not updating BIOS the traditional way, make sure the motherboard has that feature. Sometimes they do have a feature that allows you to do this, but some motherboards you need to enable it in the BIOS first(For example: my motherboard)... lol So it's always good to check the manufacturer's website first and find out what you can about flashing BIOS and that stuff.

Also, you can buy a really cheap processor like the Sempron 145 that is AM3 to update BIOS, but this will cost you at least $40.


Ahh. I see. I think I have some research to perform on the parts I've picked for the virtual builds I've made. Thanks, as always, Matsushima.
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April 29, 2013 5:44:00 PM

roadster99 said:
Thanks for the feedback in regard to this thread. Appreciate it. BTW, you aren't interested in giving your opinion toward my Intel vs AMD builds? They're actually quite similar. Just wondering about people's opinions concerning CPU/motherboard combo's and/or deficiencies in certain aspects of the build(s).

Otherwise, thanks to everyone who helped contribute to the thread and expand my knowledge in regard to my first attempt at a PC build. I truly appreciate it.

The Intel build is a little better when it comes to games that require high performance per core, but the AMD build should catch up in games that are more efficient at utilizing extra cores.

I'd suggest an Intel build with a Core i5-3350P though. And also a cheaper motherboard. The Asrock Z75 Pro3 is pretty decent, and would even allow you to overclock that 3350P if you should feel like it at some point. There are also even cheaper H77 and B75 motherboards.
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April 29, 2013 6:00:40 PM

With the mail in rebates you receive, buy a 21 EVO for $30
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April 29, 2013 6:58:54 PM

Sakkura said:
I'd suggest an Intel build with a Core i5-3350P though. And also a cheaper motherboard. The Asrock Z75 Pro3 is pretty decent, and would even allow you to overclock that 3350P if you should feel like it at some point. There are also even cheaper H77 and B75 motherboards.


Is the 3350P worth trying to OC? I was under the impression that it doesn't OC very well.

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Best solution

April 29, 2013 7:06:26 PM

It's limited unlocked, so you can get 4 bins (400 MHz with stock BCLK) from it. It's extremely simple, just input the new clocks in BIOS and done. You won't need to upgrade the cooler for that, you won't have to increase the voltage, and stability is virtually guaranteed.
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April 29, 2013 7:18:05 PM

Sakkura said:
It's limited unlocked, so you can get 4 bins (400 MHz with stock BCLK) from it. It's extremely simple, just input the new clocks in BIOS and done. You won't need to upgrade the cooler for that, you won't have to increase the voltage, and stability is virtually guaranteed.


Sick! I think you may have just earned the "solution" tag!

Thanks, everyone, for all of your input in getting me off the ground. Hopefully I'll be able to report back and let you all know how it went. I truly appreciate everyone's involvement and opinions. Thanks again!
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April 29, 2013 7:24:54 PM

No problem, who's build are you going to use?
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April 29, 2013 7:27:36 PM

The i5-3350P, an unsung hero. Most people don't realise its full potential as a budget gaming processor.

Good luck with your build!
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April 29, 2013 7:31:03 PM

ballerslife said:
No problem, who's build are you going to use?


This one:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/U6uz
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/U6uz/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/U6uz/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3350P 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($179.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($76.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($66.47 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.01 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($189.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N250PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($22.19 @ Amazon)
Case: NZXT Source 210 Elite (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case Fan: Antec 75024 79.0 CFM 120mm Fan ($12.98 @ Outlet PC)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($74.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $758.57
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-05-01 21:50 EDT-0400)
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April 29, 2013 7:55:31 PM

Matsushima said:
The i5-3350P, an unsung hero. Most people don't realise its full potential as a budget gaming processor.

Good luck with your build!


Thanks a thousand for all your input ITT!
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