First Time Builder - Gaming/Photoshop ~$675-875

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 1-2 wks. Hoping to snag up some deals on Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

BUDGET RANGE: $675-$875, Before Rebates. I can probably stretch it a little further though.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (would like to do most recent games at mid to high settings), Web Development (mostly working in Photoshop for now), streaming video, basics (word processing, internet, etc.)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Speakers and OS (getting Win7 Pro at student discount). I'll need the other peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse) so that's why I say I can stretch the budget if need be. If I can grab those on BF/CM, then I don't want them to really play a part in the system budget. But I'd still really like some recommendations. :)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I'll be basing most of it on newegg, but before I purchase I'll be comparing prices at a few other places (tigerdirect, amazon, etc.) It was just easier for now to look them all up from the same place.


PARTS PREFERENCES: Not really, but see add'tl comments.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but nothing hardcore.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Probably later on down the line.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I still need a monitor.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Here's the thing. I was all excited about an i5 750 build because of the research I'd done. But then when I started putting the system together, it was kind of breaking the budget. I'm probably doing something wrong (adding something I don't need/missing something I do), and my eyes are bigger than my wallet. And since this is my first attempt at building my own system, I'm willing to completely scratch what I've got so far if anyone can recommend a comparable build with something cheaper. I'm not married to any of these parts.

Also, I know I said I need a monitor, but I don't want that to knock me down a whole tier as far as system performance goes. I can always call in a favor or two and get my Christmas/birthday present early. ;)


CPU: Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail $199.99

MoBo: GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $104.99


GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD4 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $149.99


GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $169.99

(Not really sure which is better suited to my budget/purpose. I'll pay the extra money if it's worth the upgrade.)

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBRH - Retail $104.99

GPU: SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $179.99

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $54.99

-or if those don't restock soon, is this other one worth it?-

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $74.99

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $98.99 ($88.99 after MIR)


Case: COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $64.99 ($39.99 after MIR)

-is on sale but I kind of like this one better-

Thermaltake Element G VL10001W2Z Black ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $129.99 ($109.99 after MIR)

(If it's not a case that's worth the extra money, then I don't mind using those funds towards other components.)

Monitor: Acer X223Wbd Black 22" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2500:1 - Retail $159.99

(I'll be keeping a lookout for monitor deals this weekend. If I can't find this exact one, what are the recommended specs/monitors for my build so I can find an alternative?)

Cost: $804.99~$969.92 + monitor, depending on the -or- options.
10 answers Last reply
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  1. You're not doing anything wrong. It's a pretty good build. The Antec 300 Illusion is a very good case that is also on sale for $50. I would also go up to the UD4 mobo. It's got a second PCIe 2.0 slot that operates at 8x. This will allow Crossfiring later.

    The reason the i5 is breaking your budget is because its expensive. Compare it to AMD's top-of-the-line offering at $170 the X4 955 Black Edition (yes, the 955, not the 965. The 965 is just a factory overclocked 955). Not only that, but the good mobos for the i5 are all around $40-50 more than those for AMD.

    EDIT: It is worth it to wait for the Spinpoint...
  2. If you like the red & black case then check out the Coolermaster HAF 922.

    Rather than a Caviar Black 640, the Samsung F3 1TB is only $10 more.

    If you go with a microATX motherboard, you might as well go with the cheaper one and drop the PSU to a 550 or even 450. The 650 and the most expensive motherboard linked will let you crossfire two 5770s.
  3. As a guy that favors Intel, with your budget you may want to at least consider AMD's line. In particular the 720x3 Black Edition ($120 2.8 unlocked multiplier) and the 955x4 BE ($169 3.2 unlocked multiplier). Both are great budget minded cpus that will handle your tasks quite well. Although not as well as the i5-750, but still good for less money.

    Another thing I am unsure about is multi gpu boards. Having always opted for them myself, I can say that I have never opted for a second card as an upgrade. By the time I am ready to upgrade, new cards have better features and more power for not much more money. Plus I don't have to hassle with the extra power requirements and hoping the game I want to play has good support (drivers) and optimization for a multicard setup. If you can find a good board that is cheaper due to being single gpu suport only, I would consider it.

    In the end, it's all about your true needs and true budget. The i5 is a step up so long as your budget can handle it. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  4. I agree with jjknoll about upgrading by getting a new card. It's only really useful to get a second card soon after the build (like within a year). If you wait longer, it will be cheaper to replace the card.
  5. Not to beat a dead horse or anything, but this seems like a pretty good combo deal.

    Good oc'ing mobo, good cpu, 4gb 1600mhz ram. Reviews on the mobo look good. Under $400 before $40 in MIR's. Puts you well within your budget. It's a shame the 5850's are so expensive right now and Nvidia doesn't even have any dx11 cards to look at.
  6. I agree the CPU and mobo in that combo are good. The RAM leaves much to be desired. You can get some CAS 7 RAM for not much more. Also, it appears it's not quite as stable as one would hope.

    The new card being so expensive does have some perks. All the other cards are so much cheaper by comparison...
  7. Sorry, All. Got called in.

    Heh, now I'm second-guessing myself and seriously considering the AMD route. Probably makes more sense for my needs/budget. Wasn't planning to crossfire until this one was obsolete, so you're right in that by then, I could probably just get a new card. So I updated the build. Only thing is, I feel like I'm back to square one and need to know if all of this is compatible.

    Sticking with the Spinpoint 500gb and Antec 300 Illusion case.

    CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail $168.99

    MoBo: GIGABYTE GA-MA785GMT-UD2H AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $89.99


    ASUS M4A785T-M/CSM AM3 AMD 785G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $84.99

    (I seem to have a really hard time figuring out the best mobo. If there's something better out there, let me know.)

    RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996657 - Retail $119.99


    Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996601 - Retail


    Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996652 - Retail $114.99

    (Since RAM is kind of dependent on the mobo, I'm kind of lost here as well.)

    PSU/Drive Combo: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail $89.99

    Sony Optiarc Black 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD/CD Rewritable Drive - OEM $25.99

    Combo Discount: -$10.00
    Combo Price: $105.98 ($95.98 after MIR)

    Anything I'm missing? Thanks for all the help everyone has given so far. Sorry to keep asking about things but I want to make sure I get it all right. :)

    EDIT: Ooh, forgot to say I was probably going to stay with the 5770. I might be able to wait a bit for the 5850 to become available, since I have to wait for the Spinpoint anyway. Or would this system bottleneck performance? Thoughts?
  8. Both of those boards would work. The difference is the number of SATA connections and number of rear connections. Is there a reason why you went microATX? It doesn't really matter, but you've got an ATX case (which will fit either) and an ATX board could give you a little more room between components, meaning better air flow.

    Mushkin RAM is really expensive and not that much better than other types. Here's a set from Crucial that's $20 cheaper than all of those and has just as good performance. It is a slower speed, but that doesn't really have a noticable affect (see this article)
  9. Looks pretty good to me. Good to see you be able to get a sweet system more in your budget. As far as the bottleneck question on a 5850, that's quite often an application specific question. Some games are a bit more cpu dependant and some are more gpu dependant. But.... if you plan on oc'ing, I think it will still be "fairly" balanced. At stock the 955 might not be able to keep up completely to a 5850 - again, only in some games - but I think you'd probably find that where you should be able to get 85 frames/sec you only get like 78. That processor, even stock, with a 5850 will crush most tiltles out there today.

    I hope it all comes together great for you and you have a great holiday season!
  10. Wow. I just caught this deal on Newegg. I don't know how long it will be up, but includes the 965 BE (3.4ghz) and a nice atx mobo for $260. Might only go through today or tomorrow, so I hope the OP catches it. Quite a deal.
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