First Time Builder Needs Advice--$800 Gaming PC

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: In the next month

BUDGET RANGE: $800-$1000 Before Rebates for the machine (i.e. not including OS, monitor, speakers, mouse, or keyboard)
Around $1200 including the above.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Multimedia (i.e. Internet, word processing, movies, music)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Completely new computer, all parts are required.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I trust Newegg.com but if other websites come recommended I'll look into them.

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: US

PARTS PREFERENCES: Not looking for a killer screen, 19-20" would be ideal.

OVERCLOCKING: I don't intend to starting out but might after a few months.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Not initially but possibly as an upgrade.

MONITOR RESOLUTION:
1440x900, 1600x1200, or 1680x1050

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS:
Right, this is my first time building a computer and I've heard quite a few horror stories about DOA parts, incompatibilities, and cheap PSUs burning out so I'd appreciate it if people could double check my build before I start ordering parts. Any other advice for a first-time builder would be welcome as well.

I'm planning on this computer lasting 3-4 years, if not more. I'm not attached to running games at the highest graphics by the end of that lifespan--the goal is to be able to run new/intensive games (Bioshock, Crysis, Source games, etc.) at mid to high graphics right now and be able to run games that come out in the following years at low to mid graphics. In general I have a few questions:

AMD Phenom IIx4 955 or Intel i5-750?
Is it worth the extra $40 or so to go with the Intel?
Is the Radeon 5770 powerful enough to deliver the lifespan I want?
I'd prefer to avoid the Radeon 4890 because of its power draw and heat output but I'm not sure if it's worth giving up the performance. Likewise the 5850 is a bit out of my price range but again, I can be convinced otherwise.
What kind of power supply do I need?
I would guess that a 500W power supply might be close to my needs but I honestly have no experience in this area so I'm looking to you guys.
Do I have any bottlenecks?
Fairly self-explanatory
Suggestions for the case?
I was thinking either the NZXT Lexa S (for style and included fans) or the NZXT Hush (for style and quiet running) but I'm open to other suggestions.

Here are my tentative Intel and an AMD builds:

AMD Build

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz
GPU: SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770
Motherboard: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333
Hard Disk Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
Optical Disk Drive: Sony Optiarc Black 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner with LightScribe LightScribe Support
Case: NZXT Lexa S
Power Supply: ?

Sub-total: $740 without rebates, combos, or the power supply


Intel Build

Processor: Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz
GPU: Same as above.
Motherboard: ASUS P7P55D LE LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard
RAM: Same as above.
Hard Disk Drive: Same as above.
Optical Disk Drive: Same as above.
Case: Same as above.
Power Supply: ?

Sub-total: $785 without rebates, combos, or the power supply
15 answers Last reply
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  1. Either way it's a solid build. I prefer AMD just for sticking with similar sockets for so long but the core i5 system should perform a bit better, though at those resolutions it shouldn't matter (my rig games great @ 1680x1050 and many would consider it weak). I am a huge fan of thermaltake and corsair power supplies and anything from these or another major brand over 500 watts and 80 plus certified should keep your components fed. I like the NEXT Alpha case for it's small foot print and fairly efficient airflow. ACER makes great monitors for a cheep price. I don't see a bottle neck but I would urge you to invest in a high quality mouse, keyboard, and speakers. I have seen too many people spend a thousand dollars on a computer and end up with 17 inches of CRT screen real-estate, 2 watt speakers, a clunky windows 95 keyboard, and a ball mouse LOL.
  2. The AMD build is better as it stands as the mobo has 2 good PCI-E slots so you can put in another 5770 to beef up your gaming performance. In which case you'd need a 600W PSU at a minimum. Antec, OCZ, Cooler Master, Silverstone also make good power supplies. Then again I'd want a 600W PSU in the Intel system because you would probably need to think about upgrading from a 5770 in about 2/3 years time depending on what games you wanted to keep up with.
  3. I definitely agree with Silvune. A 5770 is good for now, and in the next few years you can always put another one in XFire, but on the i5 mobo there would likely be a bottleneck with the X4 bandwidth. You would want something that is at least x8/x8. As for everything else, it looks fairly decent. I have been told by some friends that they really don't like the NZXT cases just because they're hard to work with, but I have no experience with NZXT myself.
  4. Hey, AlphaBlue

    I'm looking at a build quite similar to yours, shooting for a similar life span, Core i5, here's a mobo that was recommended to me...

    ASUS P7P55D-E Pro
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131621&cm_re=Asus_P7P55D_Pro-_-13-131-621-_-Product

    $50 more, with the x8/x8, USB 3.0 and 6 GBps SATA ports...
  5. HD go with Spinpoint F3 $54.99 Current best performance mainstream HD and cheaper.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181&cm_re=spinpoint_f3-_-22-152-181-_-Product

    Case go with the HAF 922 for same price after MIR $80. This is an excellent case with very good airflow and tons of space, and a steal at this price.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119197&
    cm_re=haf_922-_-11-119-197-_-Product

    Monitor $149.99 Gateway 1920x1080 21.5"
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824113018&cm_re=gateway-_-24-113-018-_-Product

    PSU OCZ stealthstream 700W $50 after MIR
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341019&cm_re=ocz_stealthxstream_700w-_-17-341-019-_-Product

    Go with the i5 and the recommended MOBO change from above.
  6. If you wanna go AMD here's a complete build.

    Optical Drive
    SAMSUNG Black SATA $19.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151197

    Case
    HAF 922 $79.98 after MIR.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119197&cm_re=haf_922-_-11-119-197-_-Product

    HD $54.99
    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181

    Monitor $149.99 Gateway 1920x1080 21.5"
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824113018&cm_re=gateway-_-24-113-018-_-Product

    Mobo $99.99 after MIR
    GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128398

    PSU
    OCZ 700w $49.99 after MIR
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341019&cm_re=ocz_stealthxstream_700w-_-17-341-019-_-Product

    RAM
    G Skill Ripjaw DDR 1333 7-7-7-21 $99.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231276&cm_re=ripjaw-_-20-231-276-_-Product

    CPU $165.99
    AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674

    HSF
    CM Hyper 212 Plus $29.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065&cm_re=hyper_212%2b-_-35-103-065-_-Product

    GPU/OS $269.98
    SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.298113

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.298113

    Keyboard Saitek $39.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823175104

    Mouse MX518 $32.99 after MIR
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16826104178&cm_re=mx_mouse-_-26-104-178-_-Product

    Total $1093.86 after MIR. Before Shipping.
    $1,189.29 before MIR including shipping to NYC

    You can always go with a cheaper keyboard and mouse to save some money.

    The i5 equivalent build would be $115 more with the i5 and the USB 3.0/SATA 6.0 MOBO, putting you at $1208.84 after MIR before shipping.
  7. Oops forgot speakers.

    For $25.99 Logitech LS21 2.1
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836121019

    It'll put your total to $1215 including shipping before rebates.

    You can get a cheaper keybaord/mouse and for $49.99 go with these better ones.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16836113021
  8. Id go with a Samsung F3 for the HDD for sure not the WD.
    For the PSU I would go with the Corsair 550W, although it is not in stock at the moment on newegg.
    I would go with the GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H for the MOBO.

    And I would go with any of these cases:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133071
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119137
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119197
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066
  9. If you're willing to deal with MIR's then you can get an entire system including mouse, keyboard, etc for $1,200 that has a 5850, by abusing some very nice combo and rebates newegg currently has.


    Optical Drive
    SAMSUNG Black SATA $19.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151197

    Case/PSU HAF 922 and OCZ 700w $99.97 after MIR.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.314199

    HD $54.99
    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181

    Monitor $149.99
    Gateway 21.5" 1920 x 1080
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824113018

    Mobo/CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 955 and ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3
    $255.98 after MIR

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.315742


    RAM

    G Skill Ripjaw DDR 1333 7-7-7-21 $99.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231276&cm_re=ripjaw-_-20-231-276-_-Product


    HSF
    CM Hyper 212 Plus $29.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065&cm_re=hyper_212%2b-_-35-103-065-_-Product

    GPU/OS 5850 + win 7 premium 64 bit $394.98
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.298043

    Total $1105.89 after MIR. Before Shipping.

    This leaves you with $94 for mouse, keyboard, speakers and shipping (which to NYC was $20)

    A cheap combo keyboard mouse kit is $38.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16823109161

    $26 for the speakers from above post

    let's say $25 for shipping

    Total comes to $1170.88 after MIR. Gives you $30 more to play around with for speakers, mouse and keyboard.
  10. buy the setup i just did on newegg...crazy deals.

    1 COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case -
    Item #: N82E16811119197
    $99.98

    5 Rosewill 18" Serial ATA II cable Model RC-18"-SA-90-BK, Black - Retail
    Item #: N82E16812119229
    $9.95
    ($1.99 ea)

    1 ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813131402
    $119.99

    1 HIS H577FM1GD Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video
    Item #: N82E16814161317
    $162.99

    1 OCZ StealthXStream OCZ700SXS 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply -
    Item #: N82E16817341019
    $79.99

    1 AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819103674
    $165.99

    1 G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820231318
    $99.99

    2 SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    Item #: N82E16822152181
    $109.98
    ($54.99 ea)

    1 SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model TS-H663B/UOAH - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827151197
    $19.99

    1 Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
    Item #: N82E16835100007
    $6.99

    1 COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long ... - Retail
    Item #: N82E16835103065
    $29.99

    1 Rosewill RTK-002 Anti-Static Wrist Strap - Retail
    Item #: N82E16899261005
    $3.49

    1 DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #314199 -$30.00
    1 DISCOUNT FOR COMBO #315742 -$20.00
    Subtotal $859.32
    Tax $0.00
    UPS 3 Days $21.48
    Order Total $880.80

    +$50-60 in mail-in rebates...


    I'm in Nevada so no TAX!
  11. Um the MOBO comes with all the SATA cables you need, don't need to buy extra.

    Anti static wrist strap? >.< Useless, just touch anything metal to discharge yourself before working.

    Besides that it's the same build I linked minus the OS, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers and 5850.

    The current OCZ 700W and HAF 922 for only $100 is a crazy deal. That's basically a free PSU.
  12. Thanks for the replies everyone. I'm thinking of buying a setup similar to banthracis' within the next 1 or 2 days. As a question, since I'm not planning on overclocking is an aftermarket heatsink really necessary? Also, would an Intel build with the i5-750 and ATI 5850 and an AMD build with the PenomIIx4 955 and ATI 5850 really have all that big of a difference in performance (i.e. worth the extra $100 for the Intel build)?

    EDIT: Also, is a 700w power supply really necessary or was that just suggested because of the combo? And if I built the computer into a NZXT Hush, should I be concerned about overheating?
  13. 700W is cuz of combo. Won't need it, but the PSU is a dependable one and it's basically free with the combo and rebates.


    In terms of pure gaming, games are very much GPU limited. People will argue about the benchmarks and a couple FPS, but honestly at the end of the day the difference isn't noticeable outside a benchmark.

    CPU gaming comparison's are typically done at a a medium resolution and medium settings w/o AA/AF, and then paired with xfire or SLI top of the line cards in order to artificially create a CPU bottleneck.


    This article makes the point pretty clear. There's basically zero FPS gain from OCing an i5 from 2.66 to 3.8 ghz, and this is w/o AA which would reduce the difference even more.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5770,2446-16.html

    Once you throw in rendering, encoding and other non gaming benchmarks, it's a whole different story and the i5 is significantly faster. Your decision really depends on how important things besides gaming are to you, and if the performance difference is worth the ~$115 more.


    As for the aftermarket HSF, the AMD stock one really is kinda bad. It's only $30 for the CM Hyper 212 Plus, and the difference in temps it makes is incredible.

    After a 12 hr Prime 95 stress test my i5 OC to 3.6 ghz, runs at a very cool 47 C (temp of hottest core. Coolest core is 43 C). Ambient is 18C (I like my room cold =P).

    That's only a 29 C increase with both my CPU fan and Case fan's set to low (Element G). With everything on high, it's only 34C (coolest core 32 C) or 16C over ambient.

    In comparison you'd be lucky to get temps lower than 40C over ambient with a stock cooler on high.

    * Data taken using Everest Ultimate 5.30.1900
  14. banthracis said:
    Um the MOBO comes with all the SATA cables you need, don't need to buy extra.

    Anti static wrist strap? >.< Useless, just touch anything metal to discharge yourself before working.

    Besides that it's the same build I linked minus the OS, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers and 5850.

    The current OCZ 700W and HAF 922 for only $100 is a crazy deal. That's basically a free PSU.


    *i got the SATA cables because i need them to rebuild my old computer that i'm giving to my friend.

    *i know the wrist wrap is useless but when i learned how to build, my friend used one so now it's habit :kaola:
  15. Static wrist bands really are the biggest waste of money ever... just touch your case and don't wear socks or work with carpet under you and wear cotton..
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