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Need Help Building a $350 Gaming(lol) PC

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July 2, 2013 10:15:05 AM

Hey everyone!
This is my first post (yay!). A friend recommended that I post this question on Tom's Hardware for expert advice.
So my situation is that I want to build a new computer to replace my 6 year old laptop (this will be my first build). I had originally finished picking out my parts for a total cost of around $700, not including a monitor, but then it turned out that my parents would not end up subsidizing my purchase, and I only have around $350 saved up from my job.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a week or two from July 2, 2013. The timing is somewhat flexible though, since I want to catch any big sales (like Newegg's 4th of July Sale) to get the cheapest prices possible. Do you guys know of any sales or discounts that usually take place around summer time?

Budget Range: (e.g.: 300-400) $350 after rebates, and after shipping. I already have a copy of Windows, and a spare mouse and keyboard. I also have an old 10-year-old Dell monitor, which I might be able to reuse (if that is a good idea).

System Usage from Most to Least Important: I want to get at least 60 fps in Call of Duty 4, my favorite game of all time. I barely lasted 6 years getting 20 fps on my old laptop with every setting set to the lowest possible lol. I originally wanted this computer to be a gaming PC, but I realize that I won't be able to get much with a $350 budget. Other than gaming, I most often use my computer for surfing the internet, scripting in Wolfram Mathematica (a statistical programming interface similar to Matlab), editing video, and watching movies.

Are you buying a monitor: As I mentioned before, I have a 10-year-old Dell monitor I might be able to reuse, but I don't know if that is a good idea or not (I am pretty sure the screen is an LCD,and it has significantly faded over the years).

Parts to Upgrade: N/A

Do you need to buy OS: Nope

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: At this point, I would be happy if I got parts from a random site in China lol (albeit the shipping would go way over my budget).
I do care about the quality of my parts though. I would like all my parts to be from solid brands, if that is possible.

Location: Boston, MA, USA. There is a Microcenter that I know about which is really close to my apartment in Cambridge.

Parts Preferences: no preference i guess. I would like all my parts to be from reputable brands, if possible. I don't want to deal with any failures on a first build.

Overclocking: Maybe, if I can get a processor that can easily be overclocked.

SLI or Crossfire: Sure!

Your Monitor Resolution: The old Dell monitor that I might be able to use has a standard aspect ratio (that's how old it is lol), and definitely has less pixels than 1024x768

Additional Comments: As I mentioned before, I would like CoD4 to be playable.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: My old laptop is too slow
;-(

Thanks in advance for your help. I really appreciate it!

More about : building 350 gaming lol

July 2, 2013 10:20:35 AM

You'll want to upgrade the monitor at some point in the future, but there's no point using up your PC budget on one now. Let me see if I can price out something decent for you.
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July 2, 2013 10:36:18 AM

There will be no way to get a monitor into your budget unless you buy something used.
I'll check the cheapest thing I'd build...
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July 2, 2013 11:00:12 AM

Ok, this is the cheapest I'd build in your case. There is nothing here I would not buy myself.

CORSAIR CX430M 430W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
Model #:CP-9020058-NA
Item #:N82E16817139049
Mail in Rebate Card
$69.99 -$20.00 Instant $49.99
The non-modular CX PSUs are a little cheaper, but are made with some inferior capacitors; only the modular ones use all Japanese capacitors, even though they're all built by the same company (CWT) for Corsair. This PSU will support a midrange video card later.

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT
Model #:F3-10600CL9D-4GBNT
Item #:N82E16820231253
$36.99 $36.99
8GB would be nice, but on a budget, this will have to do.

AMD A8-6600K Richland 3.9GHz Socket FM2 100W Quad-Core Desktop Processor - Black Edition AMD Radeon HD 8570D AD660KWOHLBOX
Model #:AD660KWOHLBOX
Item #:N82E16819113333
$119.99 $119.99
The IGP in this AMD APU should be able to play games pretty well on your old monitor. When you get a new monitor, you can also drop in a new graphics card like a HD7850 or GTX650Ti Boost to go with it.

Western Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
Model #:WD5000AAKX
Item #:N82E16822136769
$59.99 $59.99
Standard, consumer drive. I prefer WD Black, but this will do.

Athena Power CA-GSB01DA Black 0.8mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - OEM
Model #:CA-GSB01DA
Item #:N82E16811192289
$29.99 -$7.00 Instant $22.99
0.8mm is exceptionally thick for a cheap case.

ASRock FM2A75 Pro4-M FM2 AMD A75 (Hudson D3) SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Model #:FM2A75 Pro4-M
Item #:N82E16813157334
$74.99 $74.99
I've had good results from ASRock boards.

Subtotal: $364.94
There's a $20 rebate on the PSU, which you said could be counted. By all means check Microcenter, since they often have good CPU+mobo deals.
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July 2, 2013 11:38:11 AM

This is about as good as it gets in your price range.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2020 2.9GHz Dual-Core Processor ($61.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-DGS R2.0 Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: PNY XLR8 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($30.17 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($67.97 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($43.98 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Source 210 (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $354.07
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-07-02 14:35 EDT-0400)

Note that it's still not really good.
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July 2, 2013 11:52:34 AM

The HD6670 in Kamen's build uses DDR3, so it is no more powerful than the IGP in the A8-6600K. The Pentium CPU however is weaker, particularly in well-threaded titles. If you were at some point interested in upgrading the CPU as well as the graphics card, it does offer much more future potential (you could put an i5-3570K or i7-3770K on that mobo, which AMD can't touch).
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July 2, 2013 4:50:04 PM

I can't do $350 in a build I'd actually recommend you buy.

CPU + Case: Intel Core i3-3220 + COOLER MASTER Elite 431 Plus $159.98 (before $20 off w/ promo code EMCXPVM33, ends 7/4 and $10 MIR)
GPU: HIS iCooler Radeon HD 7750 $89.99
Mobo: ASRock B75M-DGS R2.0 $49.99 (before $4.99 shipping)
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 $35.99
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM $69.99
PSU: COOLMAX ZX-500W 80 PLUS Certified $34.99 (before $5.25 off w/ promo code PSJUNE13, ends 7/8 and $10 MIR)

Parts: $440.93
Shipping: $4.99
Promos: -$25.25

Total shipped: $420.67
Total after MIR: $400.67

A Radeon HD 7750 and a 4-thread CPU is the absolute lowest you'll want to go in a PC used for playing video games (you'll be disappointed getting anything less) -- so you're looking at about $200 just for those parts. This AMD FX-6300 CPU + case is $3 cheaper, but the motherboard will be more. You could save $10 getting a 500MB HDD, but I don't think the savings are worth it.

My advice is see if your parents will lend you $70 by Thursday so you can order what I listed, or wait until you have enough to buy something you'll be satisfied with.
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July 2, 2013 6:13:26 PM

Onus said:
Chokemax offers PSU-shaped objects. That one being 80+ should be a good sign, but until it's been reviewed, I would not trust it: http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1764642


I think you're being overly negative -- like you said, it's 80+ certified. It's also active and has 4 eggs on newegg (with 46 reviews). I can't vouch for it personally, but I did not see any negative reviews on the first page.
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July 2, 2013 7:16:43 PM

That Chokemax is not listed at http://www.plugloadsolutions.com/80PlusPowerSuppliesDet... so the 80+ label is apparently fake. It also isn't listed on the PSU database sites I typically use. I believe I could hurl it farther than I would trust it. The PSU is the heart of any system; a bad one can doom it to a life of instability at best, or die [randomly] and take other parts with it.
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July 2, 2013 8:12:36 PM

Edited by Moderator: Check out the deals threads. You may find something of interest there.
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July 3, 2013 7:13:53 AM

Thanks for the advice guys!
Do you think it would be wiser for me to hold on to my money, and perhaps start my build in a month or so when I have a more effective budget?
BTW, has AMD run out of keys for their Never Settle Reloaded bundle? Is the bundle worth buying my GPU now, before I buy my other parts?

EDIT: I also found a power supply at Microcenter for $28 (after rebates, etc.)
http://microcenter.com/product/365237/TR2_Series_500_Wa...
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July 3, 2013 7:39:33 AM

That Thermaltake PSU is pretty bad. With the exception of the Antec VP-450 (and possibly some of the Enermax NAXN units), a little voltage switch indicates an obsolete, inefficient design on a unit that is probably overrated. OTOH, the Antec VP-450 is efficient enough for 80+ (possibly bronze) but is disqualified for not having active PFC. It is usually fairly inexpensive too.
Looking at Newegg, it looks like only a few HD7770 and higher are still being offered with bundles. If you want any of those games, and you want an AMD card, getting that now probably makes some sense. Otherwise, I do believe you'd do a lot better if you could raise your budget, at least to $500.
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July 3, 2013 7:28:22 PM

So I convinced my parents to lend me $200, so my budget is now $550 (I promised them I'd use my rig to mine Bitcoins and give them the 1 bitcoin I'd find in 10 years LOL).
I finished choosing parts, what do you guys think? I'll probably be ordering sometime this week

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1d3sA
CPU: Intel Core i5-4570 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($159.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: Asus B85M-E/CSM Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Corsair XMS 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ Microcenter)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7790 1GB Video Card (Purchased For $99.99)
Case: Apex Vortex 3620 ATX Mid Tower Case ($29.99 @ Microcenter)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($29.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $529.93
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-07-03 21:59 EDT-0400)


Since this is my first build, I had some questions. I am particularly concerned about temperature. Will I need to buy any aftermarket coolers? I don't plan on overclocking (and I don't think OC is unlocked anyways on the Haswell card I chose).

I am also concerned about the motherboard, as there are no reviews yet for most Haswell mobos. Is my motherboard compatible with my parts (i.e. BIOS, sockets, chipsets)? Will it fail? I'm purposely buying my motherboard from Microcenter, since they have a brick and mortar store down my block. It seems to me that motherboards are the most failure-prone PC parts.

Speaking of the motherboard, PC Part Picker generated a warning along the lines of: "the motherboard has an onboard USB 3.0 header, but the case does not have front panel USB 3.0 ports." Is that okay, and will my PC still work?

Also, for the RAM, I only have one stick of 8gb ram, but I also read somewhere that you need two sticks of RAM to run in "dual channel mode." Do you guys think I should buy 2 sticks of 4gb instead of 1 stick of 8gb?

Lastly, I had some concerns about my power supply. Will my power supply be able to handle the wattage of my parts? Will it work with haswell (I read somewhere that older PSUs do not work with Haswell processors due to low idling wattages)?

Sorry for the question bombardment and thanks again for all you guys' help! Hopefully this computer will last me another six years :-D

Cheers!
pluto
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July 3, 2013 7:41:58 PM

Not a bad build! I would invest in a better case because I don't like the brand (Apex). Get something like a NZXT source 210 with window to show off that hardware! It's $39.99 on Newegg.

ASUS mobos are good. You're in good hands there.
Don't worry. Everything's compatible. Motherboards are fail prone because of their socket - the delicate pins on Intel motherboards has caused headaches the world over.

There's not alot of performance difference between 8GB Dual vs Single - You wont' really notice the performance at all. With a larger first DIMM, you could expand to 32GB potentially - now that's future-proofing! Of course, for aesthetic reasons, you might want dual channel, though that isn't a practical solution.

430W is plenty for the HD 7790 and i5. Don't worry. However, if you want a beefier upgrade in the future, you need a better PSU.

Six Years is pushing it but it depends on your expectations. Congratulations on your new build! Good Luck!
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July 3, 2013 8:11:32 PM

I think I'll post a new thread, since the $350 Gaming PC title is no longer relevant. Thanks to all who helped!
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July 3, 2013 8:34:26 PM

Make sure to get the MODULAR version of the Corsair, the CX-430M ($30 after MIR). Although they are all built by CWT for Corsair, the non-modular ones use some inferior Samxon capacitors that don't like heat and are known for early failure. I would not put one in a gamer.
If it were me, I would get 2x4GB of RAM rather than 1x8GB. The performance difference isn't huge, but probably on the edge of being noticeable.
I agree with Basch99 about the case. Cases with front panel USB 3.0 are not much more expensive any more than those without.
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July 3, 2013 8:36:00 PM

Aight. Will do.
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