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Opinions wanted on my £600 gaming PC!

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November 16, 2013 4:47:51 AM

Hey guys, i'm planning on building my first PC this christmas, aiming for a £600 gaming pc. I'm a mac user so am a sucker for the Prodigy M case. So that was my starting point (treason!). Anyways, below is the build. I'd really appreciate any suggestions/comments/compatibility issues etc that you have - this is all new to me!

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor
Motherboard: Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard
Memory: Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory
Storage: Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk
Storage: Western Digital WD Blue 1TB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card
Case: BitFenix Prodigy M Arctic White MicroATX Mini Tower Case
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer

Cheers!

EDIT:
Swapped out the PSU for Corsair Builder Series CXM 600W Modular PSU.
Swapped out the HDD for Western Digital WD 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Blue Cavier
November 16, 2013 5:07:12 AM

HDD - 5400rpm is quite a slow drive. You'd do better getting a Seagate hybrid drive and letting it decide what to store on it's internal SSD.
SSD - see above
PSU - 520W is pretty marginal for a 7850, I'd use a 600W ie a CX600M
GPU - An R9 270X is the same price but better, personally I'd go for a different and cheaper case and then buy an R9 280X.
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November 16, 2013 5:11:45 AM

You've got a lot right, but there's a few things I'd look into.

Generally speaking, if you want to go mATX or ITX, Intel is probably the way to go. They just have a much better selection of chipsets and motherboards to chose from, AM3+ is too big for ITX and quite limiting for mATX.

Having said that, there is nothing wrong with what you have chosen really, it'll do the job fine but it's not the most feature rich board.

I'm not sure if you've gone for a 2.5" secondary drive for a specific reason (like case layout), but generally 3.5" drives are a better bet, better speed and value usually.

For graphics you might want to consider that the direct replacement to the HD7850, the R9 270, has just been launched so the prices in that bracket are probably going to be a bit fluid for a while. In fact, right now its hard to argue against the value of a HD7870XT for £135 but the R9 270, R9 270X or GTX660 are all potential options as prices shift around.

My biggest reservation is the case. I own a standard Prodigy and while I'm a fan, it does have some shortcomings. From what I've seen of the Prodigy M, it has removed several of the advantages of the Prodigy, and gained several not insignificant disadvantages. It still looks the part, but for me they are kinda a big deal.
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November 16, 2013 9:37:31 PM

Thanks for the fast replies, this community is awesome.

I've switched out the HDD for a 3.5", 7200rpm Western Digital 1TB internal Hard Drive - Caviar Blue. You think this is a better choice?

Regarding switching to intel, for a similar price i could get the intel i3 3220 with a Asus P8H77-M LE mobo. As a noobie to this, it feels like i'm losing a lot going from 6-2 cores! But could this actually be better for me? I'm not looking to play super intensive games (Starcraft 2, leagues, DotA).

For graphics card, it's really a case of cost. I can get the MSI 7850 for £100 which may just be too good value for money to turn down, but i will look into the R9 270. One thing about the MSI 7850 is that it's single fan (some other 7850s seem to offer two). Is this a big issue and generally with this build, would it be wise to get a CPU cooler/additional fans? I am not looking to overclock really.

Once again, thanks for the help!
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November 16, 2013 11:23:21 PM

HDD swap makes a lot of sense. If there was a reason for using 2.5" drives (like removing all drive bays) then there is no major harm in doing so, but proper 3.5" desktop drives are better.

Your biggest issue is the SSD imo. £600 is a solid budget, but it's not super friendly towards a luxury like an SSD. It's not going to help game performance outside of loading times (which may or may not help you, in online gaming). In terms of gaming, an extra £70 to spend on graphics would make a world of difference.

Also, the case is still a sticking point for me. Things like optical drive blocking PCIe slots, inherant wobbliness, PSU at the front, and seemingly poor airflow don't endear me to it. A potential change of case might have significant impact on your budget/build implications.

As a direct price comparison to the FX6300, you are looking at i3s yeah. What you said isn't "noobie" at all, it's intuitive. In recent years Intel has been a decent way ahead of AMD for gaming, pretty much regardless of where you are in the range, but they've caught up a bit lately. Given how more and more games will use the additional cores/threads, things like the 8 core FX8*** range are coming into their own on stuff like BF4. Having said that, all the games you mentioned, Intel has generally been better on, as they are games built for accessibility. It's definitely worth consideration.
At that price, the ASRock H77 Pro4-M is very well priced and compared to pretty much all of the AM3+ boards, very well featured (Crossfire support, 6Gbps Sata ports, front USB3.0 header).
You could also make an argument for the newer i3-4130 and an H87 chipset, or for pairing either with a B75/85 bargain bin motherboard, as they retain a surprising amount of features.



To totally throw a spanner in the works, here's a couple of slightly random builds which hopefully illustrate my point.
Build 1 i5, GTX760, still got the Prodigy look.
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-4430 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor (£134.39 @ Aria PC)
Motherboard: Asus H81I-PLUS Mini ITX LGA1150 Motherboard (£61.37 @ Dabs)
Memory: GeIL Enhance CORSA 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£40.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£42.00 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (£190.99 @ Dabs)
Case: BitFenix Prodigy (Orange) Mini ITX Tower Case (£65.12 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£54.61 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Total: £601.83
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-11-17 07:11 GMT+0000)
Notes - reason for Orange Prodigy and Seagate Barracuda over Caviar Blue? Helped me come in (just about) on budget.

Build 2 Kept the FX6300 but paired it with a decent motherboard and a GTX760 (You could just as easily go with a HD7950 and save some cash). Disadvantage - you lose the Prodigy case. Advantage - you get to keep the 120GB SSD
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor (£83.99 @ Aria PC)
Motherboard: ASRock 970 PRO3 R2.0 ATX AM3+ Motherboard (£55.54 @ CCL Computers)
Memory: GeIL Enhance CORSA 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£40.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Crucial M500 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (£69.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£42.00 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 760 2GB Video Card (£190.99 @ Dabs)
Case: BitFenix Shinobi ATX Mid Tower Case (£49.99 @ Aria PC)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£54.61 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Total: £600.46
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-11-17 07:20 GMT+0000)

Hopefully that gives you something to think about.
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November 18, 2013 8:03:32 AM

I actually love you a bit dude. I've been pondering your two builds for a couple of days, and come to some conclusions - and some more questions! Firstly I forgot that i'm going to have to buy an OS, which takes £70 out of the budget. Secondly, I've decided against the prodigy case. I'm realising how much you can lose even if your GPU/CPU budget is £40-50 lower. Having said that, I do still want a small form factor, as i'm gonna be moving around a bit and don't have the biggest room (student living).

Anyway, this had led me to draft two new builds: one AMD and one intel. Apologies in advance for the worst GPU, I just really cannot justify spending £200 on one currently. You said previously that micro-ATX and intel go hand-in-hand, so maybe this is a no-brainer for you, but i'd love to get one final opinion out of you if possible! I guess the main differences are 6300+SSD vs i5 and GTX 660 vs radeon 7870. On that, how easy would it be for me to transfer my OS from HDD to SSD if i bought an SSD later?

Intel build:
PCPartPicker part list: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gxl
Price breakdown by merchant: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gxl/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gxl/benchmarks/
CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor (£136.06 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard (£59.36 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory (£50.06 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£47.35 @ Amazon UK)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card (£148.59 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£34.99 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£54.61 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Total: £543.38

AMD build:
PCPartPicker part list: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gRM
Price breakdown by merchant: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gRM/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/24gRM/benchmarks/
CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor (£84.96 @ Amazon UK)
Motherboard: Asus M5A78L-M/USB3 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard (£50.24 @ Amazon UK)
Memory: Kingston 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory (£50.06 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Kingston HyperX 3K 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk (£68.99 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£47.35 @ Amazon UK)
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card (£152.00 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£34.99 @ Amazon UK)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£54.61 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Total: £555.56

EDIT:
A variation on the AMD build would be to drop the SSD and make the following changes:
CPU: AMD FX-8320 3.5GHz 8-Core Processor
GPU: Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 270X
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November 18, 2013 9:15:53 AM

Part of the reason I got a Prodigy case was size, but it's wider than most full towers, so it's not a fantastic space saver. If you do want a compact system, I definitely think Intel has the better selection of options, but it's worth remembering that the footprint of a small tower is often the same as a larger one, so you might not save a lot of space by having a smaller case.

There's nothing wrong with a GTX660/HD7870, they can play all modern games at 1080P, you just might need to tweak a couple of high end settings to get the framerate. They'll easily eat the games you mentioned above. You can pick up a HD7870XT for cheaper than both of the cards you have above though, and it's a decent amount better than both.
Generally I'd say go for 1600Mhz ram (as its usually the same price as 1333) but for some reason the price has jumped a little. The best value ram I can find is actually 2133Mhz and while it might work, it's not officially supported.
Also, I'd swap the H77M for the H77 Pro4-M. Same price, better features.

You can get an SSD later, but it'll require a windows reinstall.

Personally, I'd go with the Intel build (or a variant of) for small form factor, in almost all cases. If there were 970 or 990 chipset boards in mATX, then it'd be a different story as you'd have an overclockable processor to extend the value potential.



I took the Intel build, and whittled away at everything to get the best value I can find. This is pretty basic in some areas, but in terms of pure gaming potential, it's very well priced. It also includes an OS, and still comes in under budget.
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3330 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor (£125.99 @ Aria PC)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M R2.0 Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard (£47.47 @ CCL Computers)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2133 Memory (£53.49 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£42.00 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7870 XT 2GB Video Card (£133.99 @ Aria PC)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 USB 3.0 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£29.99 @ Ebuyer)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply (£39.50 @ Ebuyer)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) (£59.99 @ Aria PC)
Total: £544.78
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-11-18 17:07 GMT+0000)

I'd probably take the hit and go for the 3470 over the 3330. £10 for 0.2Ghz and a better turbo mode.
Also, the ram is effectively a placeholder. I'd assume you'll see 1600Mhz kits at that price again soon. While the faster ram is great, its not officially supported and I wouldn't like to recommend something that doesn't work (though there are enough 2133Mhz kits on the supported memory list to make me comfortable that it probably would be fine).
Motherboard is about as cheap as you can get, but it still has plenty of ports etc, it won't run the processor any slower.
PSU is incredibly well priced, and solidly reviewed.
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November 18, 2013 9:39:54 AM

That build looks really perfect for what i'm looking for. I was siding with intel myself, for the reasons you said and also that I will be using the computer for Adobe Illustrator work, and have heard that intel really shines with single-threaded applications (never thought i'd hear myself saying that a couple of weeks ago). I think i will put an extra £20 into the CPU and go for the 3470 or 3570 if i'm lucky. I think the graphics card will be perfect for my level of gaming. I'm spent the last 4 years gaming on a 2010 macbook pro so I have a feeling i'm not going to be disappointed.

Is there a reason you went for the fractal case over the coolermaster case besides price?

I will post my final build here before i buy, but you've been an amazing help dude - thanks again.
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November 18, 2013 9:58:15 AM

Yeah I'm actually surprised at how cheap you can get a build like that down to these days. If you think about it, even 6months ago, an i5 3570K and HD7970 would have been a common recommendation for a proper high end gaming machine. This one effectively uses versions of the same CPU and GPU, just at lower speeds, so it has some decent pedigree.

I agree the 3470 is probably the one to go for as the 3570 is over £150 and doesn't really justify the price hike.
I like the aesthetics of the Fractal Design case a bit more, and it saved a couple of pounds so it seemed a good bet. There's nothing wrong with the Coolermaster one, seems very well priced.

Happy to help. Good luck with the build.
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November 21, 2013 2:57:07 PM

So here is my final build! Heavily based on Rammy's final intel build, with a few slight upgrades:

PCPartPicker part list: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/26d0r
Price breakdown by merchant: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/26d0r/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://uk.pcpartpicker.com/p/26d0r/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor (£136.06 @ Ebuyer)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4-M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard (£54.99 @ Ebuyer)
Memory: Kingston Blu Red Series 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory (£55.38 @ Amazon UK)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive (£46.45 @ Aria PC)
Video Card: Sapphire Dual-X Radeon R9 270X OC 2GB (£150 @ Amazon UK)
Case: Cooler Master N200 MicroATX Mid Tower Case (£30.99 @ Ebuyer)
Power Supply: Corsair CX 600W 80+ Bronze Certified Semi-Modular ATX Power Supply (£54.62 @ Amazon UK)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS95 DVD/CD Writer (£12.36 @ Amazon UK)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8 (OEM) (64-bit) (£69.99 @ Dabs)
Total: £601.85
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-11-21 22:52 GMT+0000)

Let me know what you guys think of the build? upgradability? future directions? cpu cooler needs? I've spent a good month researching this, and am very happy with what i've managed to achieve with a £600 budget, but there is always room for improvement!

Once again thanks to rammy for the majority of help on this build.
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