Advice on $500-$600 Gaming PC

I've been wanting to build a gaming PC for a long time, and I'm finally getting my chance, I've been doing excessive research, and have finally come down to a build that should meet my needs. I appreciate any advice. I am a first time builder.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Hopefully this week, because of the deals, but if not now, most likely mid-April

BUDGET RANGE: $500-$600 (After Rebates and Shipping)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (TF2, L4D2, decent Crysis performance, Fallout 3, MW2, Bioshock 2, World in Conflict, Starcraft II, most FPSs etc), HD Video, Music, Web Surfing

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor (Suggestions are welcome though, I'm just not factoring them into price now)


PARTS PREFERENCES: Preferably AMD CPU, because of the bang for buck, and a mid-ATX case

OVERCLOCKING: I don't plan major overclocking, maybe just a few boosts from AMD's OC tools, but a MUST for the build is unlocking the extra cores on the chosen Phenom II x2 CPU. Overclocking might become more important in the future when I need to catch up without spending excessive $ on upgrades.



ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'd like an easy to use, stylish case, preferably with a window. The one I selected seems perfect, but I may be wrong.

Here are the parts I researched with prices:

Biostar TA790GXB3 with AMD Phenom II x2 555 - $150.98 after MIR

XFX HD-477A with OCZ 2x2GB RAM DDR3 1600 - $179.98 after MIR

OCZ ModStream 500W PSU with LG DVD-RW SATA Drive - $44.98 after MIR

Seagate 500GB HDD $54.99

RAIDMAX Saggita 2 Case $44.99 after MIR

Shipping: $32.70

Total: $508.62

If you have any suggestions or advice, or find any potential compatibility issues, the help will be greatly appreciated.

Edit: Also, if you could find a good N wireless adapter, it would be great.
9 answers Last reply
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  1. The case should work in terms of everything fitting (unless you go with the longest GPUs) . . . BUT . . .

    Because gamers often add a 2nd gpu and (therefore) because power supplies typically exceed 640W in an SLI system, a mid tower (in general) does not provide the physical or thermal space which most experienced techs would recommend.

    If you have your heart set on those RAD looks, tho, your chosen case can be made to work.

    Well designed FULL towers have more room to see, to work, to add long cards (most often) and to add special cooling options ... they usually also have provisions for water-blocks and hoses.

    The CoolerMaster "HAF" towers are a good example of what tech purists like to see in a well designed tower.

    Sometimes those cores will not unlock or will not run stable ... I would recommend the fastest P-X3 you can afford, just to guarantee that third core.

    The video card should be the center of your build and at the top of your budget expendiatures ... build the system around it. RADEONS are the only DIRECTX-11 cards available on this planet, right now, and the 5870 is the most highly recommended single card option, with the 5850 close behind ... these 5000 series cards are considered to be "competitive" in terms of single card performance.
    It is usually advised to get a single 5870, first off and wait to see if that will suffice .... while you are waiting to see if a 2nd card will be needed, prices are coming down.

    Here are a couple of interesting monitor options:
  2. I'm not as pessimistic about the case as Alvin there ^. The case should be fine though I would recommend replacing the cheap fans it comes with in order to increase air flow. I see that for the GPU you are going with the 4770 because you can combo it with the RAM. I would recommend going with a 5750 instead though. As for the CPU don't depend on the core unlocking. If you can unlock them it's a nice bonus, but it's not guaranteed by any means. If you really want a quad core then get a quad core.

    As far as future upgrades go Biostar isn't really the best at providing BIOS updates meaning that your board may not be able to support more advanced AMD CPUs latter on thus limiting your upgrade options compared to if you had gone with an ASRock or ASUS board. No one can really predict the future, but it's just a prediction judging by past behavior. The PSU is good enough to support two 4770s, but I would still recommend using a higher quality unit for efficiency and life expectancy, but that's just me.
  3. Try this:

    Case ($70 - $10MIR):
    Picked this case because it has plenty room, looks cool and is cool. Has 5 case fans!

    Hard drive ($55):
    Same hard drive as you selected.

    RAM/GPU ($273-$20MIR):
    Its a 5770 gpu, better than any of the gpus suggested, has DX11, and runs cool! That 5770 has a CuCore which increases performance but is just a bonus. I cahnged the RAM because the gold doesnt have good reviews and the AMD black editions are more trusty than the gold.

    PSU/DVD ($70-$25MIR):
    Same combo as yours but I would recommend not getting an OEM driver/burner because they dont come with cables or software. Plenty of power from PSU to power 5770.

    Mobo/CPU ($183-$10MIR):
    Single GPU motherboard, has 3.0 usb and SATA 6gb/s. Probably one of the best single GPU motherboards. CPU is a phenom ii X3, has 3 cores and you can unlock the 4th but thats just a bonus (if it works) but it is an OEM so you will probably have to get your own heatsink for it but it is a good cpu which could be a 4 core.

    Total $651 - $65 Mail In Rebates = $586 + $0 SHIPPING! No shipping for this build.
    I dont trust MIRs too much but its really on the provider, some companies are easier and better at it than others.
    So for a cheaper price you get a better motherboard, graphics card, cpu, case, and ram.
    Enjoy :)
  4. The case does look really cool GAdamp (the raidmax) I was thinking for getting for my first build but the case I provided does have much better cooling. Cases are more personal preference though. But the case you chose is killing you with the shipping ($18).
  5. Thanks for all the advice, I'm definitely going for a better GPU, but as for the tri-core CPU you guys suggested, It doesn't come with a fan (~$20), and has a lower clock speed. After more research, I realized that games only really benefit from Clock speed and not so much cores, so unlocking quad core will be a bonus. For the case, I am looking into the Quantum that was suggested, and for the Mobo, I'm still undecided. I might want the onboard video, because I might not be getting a video card in this initial purchase. Do you think I should get the onboard video and wait for GPU's to go down in price?
  6. Thats the thing nothing is certain. I honestly think that the fermi series that is coming out will compete with the ATI 5770, 5850 and 5870. I doubt they would compete with the 5970 but they might have one thats a little bit better than the 5850 but the price wont (like $50 more or something). The fermi's will release for some high price and will get sold out just because theyre new and theyre nVidia. But price wise I dont see the fermi's competing with ATI's on initial launch, the ATI cards wont have any reason to lower their price because the nVidia cards will come out over priced.

    Unless nVidia comes out with competitive quality cards and a bold price, ATI wont do anything. Prices wont drop for at least a couple months after the fermi releases. Thats just my prediction but everyone has an opinion.

    You could try and get away with the onboard graphics and wait which isnt a bad idea and you can save up some extra money for a better video card but its really your decision.

    If you cant decide this week what to get, your better off not buying anything and reposting in mid april or so and that way the market could be different from the fermi or it might not. Hope this helped.
  7. Considering the budget, I think Manx has the best take on your getting adequate, best value.

    The core-unlock mobos cost lots more and the unlock is iffy at best.
    Get the fastest 3X (or 4X) core you can afford, a conventional mobo (without the latest chipset and future ports) ... The case you chose is fine ... Maybe a thermaltake PSU or some "cost-reduced" quality Crossfire ready ~650W.

    5770 ain't no slouch but I would not go lower. Forget nVidia.

    = Alvin =
  8. Thanks for all the advice, but it looks like I'm going to wait until April or so, for all of the prices to go down a little. I'm definitely going to pick a CPU next time keeping in mind that unlocking will be a lucky bonus. Once 5xxx series cards go down, I'll repost a new build.
  9. Rarely a bad idea to wait until you know you are "solid". I am doing the same thing.

    I am waiting on several newly realeased products to hit the channel and for the "1st adopter pricing" to settle down to "main street pricing" ... this used to take 90 days but I can see that the industry is well primed and pushing lots of good "stimulus" out the door ... I am expecting "prime visibility" by july. But, I could by everything but drives and monitors and WS-GPUs before mid May. Storage and displays will have a flurry of releases in H2-2010.

    = Alvin =
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