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Help with Building/Buying a budget Gaming PC

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July 14, 2013 8:49:16 AM

Hi all, I am interested in either purchasing a pre-made gaming desktop and upgrading video card (or the like) or building my own desktop. I am on a budget of about $500-$600, however I would be willing to go over a little bit if it was really worth upgrading the specific parts. The main games that it would need to handle are sc2 and CS:GO, and other than that I am a university student so need it to handle all of the basic stuff. I would like to be able to play sc2 on medium settings (doesn't have to be high or ultra) and really just have smooth game play under those settings. Also, I do not have a monitor or keyboard and have excluded them from the price range of the computer itself; I was thinking of finding one off craigslist or something like that but if anyone has some recommendations on good items for the price I would greatly appreciate it.

I have done some research on different setups from around the price range I am looking at, however I have very little knowledge of computers I was hoping to get some advice from people who know what they are talking about. I am not opposed to building my own from parts, however if possible I'd like something that is rather easy to do (I'm not even sure if that point is applicable; all I mean is that if it's easy/requires some work I can figure it out, but nothing that is very advanced).

I would like to build the pc/buy one this summer as I would need to have it done by the time the fall semester rolls around in early September. If you would like more information don't hesitate to ask and I am very excited to get my hands dirty getting a new pc together.

Thank you for your input!

Marcus
a c 285 4 Gaming
a c 77 U Graphics card
July 14, 2013 9:25:28 AM

if you dont mind, please fill this form so we can help better suggesting build for you
--------------------

Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: this week (the closer the better)

Budget Range: (e.g.: 300-400) Before / After Rebates; Before / After Shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (e.g.: Folding@Home, gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies)

Are you buying a monitor: Yes / No



Parts to Upgrade: (e.g.: CPU, mobo, RAM) **Include Power Supply Make & Model If Re-using**

Do you need to buy OS: Yes / No
Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: (e.g.: newegg.com, ncix.com -- to show us selection & pricing)

Location: City, State/Region, Country - we need to know where these parts are being assembled and whether there are good store-only deals available

Parts Preferences: by brand or type (e.g.: I would like to upgrade to Intel CPU)

Overclocking: Yes / No / Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Yes / No / Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: (e.g.: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200 or if you're upgrading please state what you'd want to get)

Additional Comments: (e.g.: Need to have a window and lots of bling, I would like a quiet PC. Please also list specific software or games you're using)

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: (e.g. I'm having trouble running game X or my PSU broke)
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2013 9:27:55 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($75.66 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($62.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card ($134.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Cooler Master NSE-200-KKN1 MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($15.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $595.56

Here you go :) 

Now, before everyone blazes me for going Intel rather than AMD, allow me to explain why.

As I am also a University student, I know better of the situation you find yourself in.

Intel CPUs use less power than AMD, and therefore electricity bills are cheaper. Assuming you pay your own bills (like I do), keeping them as low as possible is pretty important, as we students don't have much money in our pockets.

Going with Intel has also allowed for a compact MicroATX format, compared to ATX that would've been necessary with AMD (there are no good MicroATX AM3+ motherboards) - if your apartment is as small as mine, this is pretty important (to me, anyway. You may feel differently)

I've gone with NVidia, as SC2 favours Nvidia cards compared to AMD (so I've heard).

Hope this helps :) 
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Related resources
July 14, 2013 10:19:21 AM

Updated:
Approximate Purchase Date: Want to have everything purchased by August 1st

Budget Range: 400-600 After Rebates; After Shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming (sc2, CS:GO), surfing internet, watching movies, university student so other basic stuff.

Are you buying a monitor: Yes (was not included in 400-600), looking for decent midrange one.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes
Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, ebay, anything us-based really

Location: upstate ny

Parts Preferences: by brand or type (e.g.: I would like to upgrade to Intel CPU)

Overclocking: dunno what that is... so I'm going to guess not

SLI or Crossfire: same as previous answer.

Your Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024 I think.

Additional Comments: games would include sc2 and CS:GO.

Thank you!
AMD Radeon said:
if you dont mind, please fill this form so we can help better suggesting build for you
--------------------

Approximate Purchase Date: e.g.: this week (the closer the better)

Budget Range: (e.g.: 300-400) Before / After Rebates; Before / After Shipping

System Usage from Most to Least Important: (e.g.: Folding@Home, gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies)

Are you buying a monitor: Yes / No



Parts to Upgrade: (e.g.: CPU, mobo, RAM) **Include Power Supply Make & Model If Re-using**

Do you need to buy OS: Yes / No
Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: (e.g.: newegg.com, ncix.com -- to show us selection & pricing)

Location: City, State/Region, Country - we need to know where these parts are being assembled and whether there are good store-only deals available

Parts Preferences: by brand or type (e.g.: I would like to upgrade to Intel CPU)

Overclocking: Yes / No / Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Yes / No / Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: (e.g.: 1024x768, 1280x1024, 1440x900, 1600x1200, 1680x1050, 1920x1080, 1920x1200 or if you're upgrading please state what you'd want to get)

Additional Comments: (e.g.: Need to have a window and lots of bling, I would like a quiet PC. Please also list specific software or games you're using)

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: (e.g. I'm having trouble running game X or my PSU broke)

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July 14, 2013 10:21:10 AM

Thank you for your response! Fortunately, the apartment I rent has electricity included so that is not a problem, however I do have a relatively small apartment so thank you for your response. Would that change any of your recommendations?

Marcus
JRAtk94 said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($75.66 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($62.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card ($134.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Cooler Master NSE-200-KKN1 MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($15.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $595.56

Here you go :) 

Now, before everyone blazes me for going Intel rather than AMD, allow me to explain why.

As I am also a University student, I know better of the situation you find yourself in.

Intel CPUs use less power than AMD, and therefore electricity bills are cheaper. Assuming you pay your own bills (like I do), keeping them as low as possible is pretty important, as we students don't have much money in our pockets.

Going with Intel has also allowed for a compact MicroATX format, compared to ATX that would've been necessary with AMD (there are no good MicroATX AM3+ motherboards) - if your apartment is as small as mine, this is pretty important (to me, anyway. You may feel differently)

I've gone with NVidia, as SC2 favours Nvidia cards compared to AMD (so I've heard).

Hope this helps :) 


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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2013 10:33:28 AM

Since your electricity is covered, you may wish to go for AMD instead. I would indeed recommend it. However, you'd have to forgo the smaller MicroATX size for the larger ATX format.

That being said, there are MicroATX motherboards for AMD's AM3+ format, but I wouldn't personally recommend any of them.
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2013 10:39:01 AM

Here is an AMD MicroATX build. As you can see, it's slightly cheaper than the Intel option, although it will not perform quite as well.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($92.13 @ TigerDirect)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($49.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($62.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB Video Card ($134.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Case: Cooler Master NSE-200-KKN1 MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($15.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $552.03

There are only 2 MicroATX AM3+ motherboards that support USB3, this one is the cheapest - the other one is 80$.

As it's cheaper than the Intel build, you can use the savings to invest in a better GPU or you may wish to upgrade the CPU to an FX 6300 - I didn't include it in the list, as I reckon the 965 will be more than sufficient for SC2 and CS:GO.

If USB3 isn't a massive deal to you, there are other MicroATX motherboards available which are cheaper.
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July 14, 2013 12:25:04 PM

So you think something like this would be more than adequate for my needs? http://pcpartpicker.com/user/Depren/saved/1XtE

If I was to get these parts, this would be all I would need to have a fully functional computer? Also, am not completely sold that I would need usb 3.0 so is there any recommendations you have for other CPUSs? I mean if it is worth it, i. e. I really dont save that much money for stepping that down then I am fine with a nicer one. Furthermore, if I was instead going to upgrade GPU instead of CPU, do you have any recommendations for other GPUs (hahaha there really is just so much choice...)? Also, I have found I can also get windows 8 at a reduced price as a student but I was also wondering if you could recommend any cheaper monitors?
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 14, 2013 1:26:33 PM

For GPU upgrade, GTX 660 would be good. HD 7850 would be more affordable, but not quite as good as the GTX 660.
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July 15, 2013 6:48:27 AM

So after doing some research, I have somewhat hesitantly landed on this setup:

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1gH1w
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1gH1w/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1gH1w/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($49.99 @ Microcenter)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($194.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Asus PCE-N10 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($19.26 @ Amazon)
Case: Cooler Master NSE-200-KKN1 MicroATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX ProSeries 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer ($15.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $633.16
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-07-15 09:46 EDT-0400)

It is a little bit over my original price range but I am able to convince myself its close enough. What do you think, any changes you would make?

Thank you for your help!

Marcus
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2013 6:49:33 AM

Looks good to me :) 
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July 15, 2013 8:04:15 AM

Okay hahaha, I have one more question. I was doing more reading on the different types of network adapters, and I am now thinking going with wired just may be a smarter choice as I can thread an ethernet cord to computer area no problem. I don't know too much about the different adapters but I was looking at these four, any recommendations on either of them http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1683...
or a different one? I have been reading reviews of other wireless and wired network adapters and have seen that some have trouble with win8 os just want to make sure that when I do install it I will have no problems.

Thank you again.

Marcus
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2013 8:08:16 AM

You don't need one - your motherboard has a LAN port on the rear I/O.



Just there, above the 2 USB 2.0 slots, on the right-hand side.
:) 
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July 15, 2013 8:15:01 AM

ahhhhh brilliant. Thank you very much, glad I asked. Do you know if there are decent wireless adapters in the $20 range; the only reason I ask is because since I am putting the money into it, if it's not too much for a good wireless adapter I would definitely install it. However, if the one's in those range aren't reliable or very good I will just forego wireless adapters and keep the wired connection.

Thanks again,

Marcus

JRAtk94 said:
You don't need one - your motherboard has a LAN port on the rear I/O.



Just there, above the 2 USB 2.0 slots, on the right-hand side.
:) 


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July 15, 2013 8:18:48 AM

Okay will do. Thank you again!

Marcus
JRAtk94 said:
It'll have to be a PCI card (NOT a PCI Express x1 card - as that slot will be blocked by the graphics card)

Check PCParkPicker :) 

There might be some good USB ones.


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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 15, 2013 8:27:16 AM

No worries :D 

Good luck with your build :) 
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July 15, 2013 10:13:41 AM

Okay I have another question. The memory that was selected, Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($65.99 @ NCIX US), says DDR3 1600, however the motherboard Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($49.99 @ Microcenter), says that it supports DDR3 1333+ (O.C.)/1066. Does that mean that these two aren't compatible or that I won't get all that I can get out of the RAM? Also is that still okay and still the best choice for my needs?

Thank you again,

Marcus

UPDATE: whoops just read some more and found that that amount of RAM will still be supported, only difference is that will automatically put speed at most motherboard can handle. Do you recommend putting on O. C. with that choice of RAM or stick with the normal 1066? I guess what I'm really asking is is there much of a difference between 1066, 1333, and 1600?
JRAtk94 said:
No worries :D 

Good luck with your build :) 

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July 16, 2013 2:26:14 PM

I would also like to know about this mobo and ram question :) 
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a b 4 Gaming
a b U Graphics card
July 17, 2013 12:33:27 AM

Depren said:

Do you recommend putting on O. C. with that choice of RAM or stick with the normal 1066? I guess what I'm really asking is is there much of a difference between 1066, 1333, and 1600?


Hmm, it might be worth finding a motherboard that supports DDR3-1600. I didn't realise it only supported 1333mhz :( 
In reality, you won't notice much difference between 1333mhz and 1600mhz, but you will notice a difference between 1066 and 1600 - 1066 will seem slow. The fact that you need to OC the RAM to get to 1333mhz isn't ideal.

And yes, G.Skill is a good brand :) 

This is a great motherboard, with USB 3.0 as well. Unfortunately, it's pretty expensive :(  - http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-motherboard-m5a78lmus...
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July 17, 2013 8:07:58 AM

Awesome, thank you for your response. I ended up going with http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-motherboard-m5a97ler2... ... hope I made a good choice.

JRAtk94 said:
Depren said:

Do you recommend putting on O. C. with that choice of RAM or stick with the normal 1066? I guess what I'm really asking is is there much of a difference between 1066, 1333, and 1600?


Hmm, it might be worth finding a motherboard that supports DDR3-1600. I didn't realise it only supported 1333mhz :( 
In reality, you won't notice much difference between 1333mhz and 1600mhz, but you will notice a difference between 1066 and 1600 - 1066 will seem slow. The fact that you need to OC the RAM to get to 1333mhz isn't ideal.

And yes, G.Skill is a good brand :) 

This is a great motherboard, with USB 3.0 as well. Unfortunately, it's pretty expensive :(  - http://pcpartpicker.com/part/asus-motherboard-m5a78lmus...

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July 17, 2013 8:10:25 AM

For my full build (which I ordered last night because of one of the parts had a rebate that was about to expire and I just really wanna get started putting it together) I ended up going with http://pcpartpicker.com/p/1hCmk . I am now in the market for a monitor, haha sticking to craiglist and ebay becasue I spend a tad more money on the build than I had originally planned, but am very excited.

Thank you for your help in putting the build together, you were a big help!

Marcus
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!