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Gaming PC Build: Need Help!

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November 4, 2010 10:21:09 PM

Hello! I am doing my first gaming build and I need help! I have been lurking on the forums for the past couple months doing some research, but there are definitely still component and compatibility issues that elude me. I am looking to play games such as Dragon Age 2, Diablo 3, Starcraft 2 and Civilizations V. I have an idea of what hardware I'll need, but could certainly use this community's recommendations. You'll find the components I've selected listed below. Please note that some of the components have already been purchased (I couldn't pass on Newegg's combo deals and stackable Black November coupons...), so please work them in to you suggestions.

So here goes...Please make suggestion regarding components and any incompatibility issues that you are aware of. Thanks so much in advance!

Approximate Purchase Date: Throughout November 2010

Budget Range: $1500 max (Cheaper than this is encouraged; "bang for buck")

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Surfing, Professional Accounting/Database Software

Parts Not Required: OS, keyboard, mouse, speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any safe/cheap website.. such as Newegg, TigerDirect and Amazon

Overclocking: Maybe the CPU... although, I have no prior experience.

SLI or Crossfire: I am planning to add another EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked EE 1GB when a good deal arises.

Monitor Resolution: 1080p or better

Parts Preferences:

ALREADY PURCHASED PARTS:

Hard Drive: Spinpoint F3 1TB

Case: HAF 912

Power Supply: Corsair 850TX

GPU: 1 EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked EE 1GB (waiting for a deal to pick up another for SLI)

Total Cost of Parts Already Purchased: $380 after rebates

PARTS STILL NEEDED:

Motherboard: ??? Please make suggestions. (I'd like something semi-"future proof")

CPU: Intel Core i7-930 Microcenter ($200)

Ram: G.SKILL PI Series 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600, Timing: 7-8-7-24-2N ($150)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: - Another EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked EE 1GB ($200 at newegg)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner: ASUS DVD-Burner 24x ($19)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Heat Sink: CM Hyper 212 Plus ($30)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: ??? I'm looking for a 1080p or better resolution, around 24" low response time for FPS's.

Additional Questions/Thoughts:
Are their any components I am missing that are necessary. Do I need any cables (SATA cable for HD) or will they come with the parts? network card? sound card? solid state drive? additional fans for the Haf 912? I am clueless... :??:  Thanks again.

More about : gaming build

November 5, 2010 1:43:54 AM

If you want to save money then go for a Lynnfield i5. This is the best bang for buck you will get right now. I would also question your need for an SLI kit at this point. SLI takes up a lot of room, generates more heat and eats more power. If you must have SLI then switching to the i5 will leave you the cash to do so. I believe the i5 and one GPU at GTX 460 will give you a great gaming experience. Your proposed configuration is overkill for what software is actually capable of these days. 4 GB RAM Dual Channel is more than enough. SSD drive is a nice thing to have but hardly necessary. Network Cards are built into the Motherboards these days. Sound Cards like Creative or ASUS are the way to go.
November 5, 2010 3:07:00 AM

First off, thanks for the reply Wamphryi! The boards don't seem to be real active tonight.

I've seen alot of recommendations for the i5 over the i7 on the Tom's boards which seems justified when I look at the price difference on Newegg. However with a price difference between the i5 and i7 930 at MicroCenter being only $30, it seems that the i7 930 would be pretty good dollar for value (I'm thinking the i7 will be negligibly faster for gaming, faster for running various accounting software, but will also give the CPU and motherboard a longer shelf life with the 1366 socket over the 1156 socket found on the i5.)

Regarding the the additional GTX 460, there's no rush to get SLI, but I would like to factor it into my budget in case an awesome GPU deal presents itself during the holiday season that I cannot resist (black friday or cyber monday?).

Regarding the the RAM, if I stick with the i7, would 4 GB of RAM still be enough?

Any recommendation on a SSD one way or another?

Good to know about the network card!

Regarding the the sound card, I am noticing a lot of builds leave it out. Is it necessary? Or is there somewhere else I can plug speakers in?
Related resources
November 5, 2010 3:20:33 AM

most motherboards some with integrated sound nowadays (good enough sound) could get one of you wanted but I wouldn't bother. The 4gb of RAm is perfect. Can always upgrade later right?
November 5, 2010 3:48:28 AM

If you do live near a Micro Center then yea go for the i7, but you need triple channel memory to get the most out of it. So find a 3x2gb kit
November 5, 2010 5:35:14 AM

Just another note on the CPU's... I don't have any plans to 3x SLI (I obviously cannot with the gtx 460's anyway). After looking closer at MicroCenter, they have a i5 760 for $170 and the i7 930 is $200. Would the savings on the motherboad and memory from going with the i5 be significant? Any specific recommendations?
November 5, 2010 11:51:17 AM

Yes in the end the i5 will be cheaper, Not to mention you don't really need more than an i5 for gaming.
November 5, 2010 2:57:42 PM

Thanks for the follow up. So the i5 760 it is... So to recap, here is what I am looking at:

Parts Already Purchased:

Hard Drive: Spinpoint F3 1TB
Case: HAF 912
Power Supply: Corsair 850TX
GPU: 2x EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked EE 1GB (waiting for a deal to pick up another for SLI)

Parts to Purchase and Finish my Build:

CPU: Intel Core i5-760 ($170 MicroCenter)

Motherboard: Please make suggestions. (Needs to support sli, have sound and network capabilities, maybe they all do these day??? I have no idea?)

Ram: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600, 7-8-7-24-2N ($95 at newegg) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: Another EVGA GTX 460 Superclocked EE 1GB ($200) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner: Asus ($19) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Heat Sink: CM Hyper 212 Plus ($30) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case Fans: Noctua 120mm (x2) ($50) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms Full HD 1080P LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 20000 :1 (ASCR) Built-in Speakers ($169 after mail in rebate) - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Questions:

Can someone please recommend a Mobo? I have no idea what I should be looking for (I'd like it to be sli capable, have onboard network card and sound).

Also is there any other components I will need to build (SATA Cable, Thermal paste, etc.)? Please make recommendations.

Is everything compatable and will it all fit in my HAF912? Will to the 2 more noctura 120mm fans be enough?

Thanks gain for all your help!

November 5, 2010 4:06:57 PM

I would recommend going with either Asus or gigabyte for mobos, they offer great value and functionality for their p55 chipset mobos. You can probably get a well equipped sli capable mobo for approximate 160. I would link the board but I'm on edge right now and the connection is so slow :( . I can link one later if u are still interested.

You probably won't need any sata cables as they come bundled wih the mobo. But you will need thermal paste. My suggestion would be arctic silver 5 which will most likely run you about $5.

Everything looks to be compatible and ur CSS is fairly spacious and will fit almost all video cards. And if you have to remove the hdd cage to fit in extra long cards such as the gtx 480 or the radeon 5870 you still can. But for sli gtx460 it will be fine.

I was also considering getting the 912 as well but the 922 looks so much sexier IMO.

Good luck and if u need more help just ask.

Best solution

a b 4 Gaming
November 5, 2010 4:23:26 PM
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I'd highly recommend avoiding Intel CPUs right now. The new sockets (LGA1155 and LGA1365) are due out soon, making all of their CPUs obsolete. I beleve the replacement for the i5 is supposed to be due out before the end of the year with the replacements for the i7 soon after. In addition, AMD's new Bulldozer CPUs are due out soon as well.

Both of those facts make this a very poor time for building. At least with the AMD route you'd have the ability to upgarde the CPU alter, as the socket isn't being replaced. That said, AMD doesn't have as much CPU power, not that it really matters for gaming. The problem there is that AMD boards don't natively support SLI, so as much as I'd prefer to recommend them, it's not a good option with already having the 460.

I honestly can't recommend doing anything with Intel right now. You'll spend around $350-400 on the CPU and board alone (i5, if you get the i7 add another $100-150) only to have it be obsolete in a matter of weeks. Considering that AMD isn't a real option either, I'm essentially recommending that you should wait for a few months before building.

If you're absolutely set on going ahead with the build now, I'd honestly go with the i7-930. While more expensive and only slightly better for gaming, the i7 isn't the typical recommendation for mid-to-high budget builds. However, given the upcoming changes, the i7 will at least leave you with the ability to drop in the i7-980X down the road when you need an upgrade. The i5 has no upgrade path at all. As for the board, I'd grab etiher a Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R or ASRock X58 Extreme 3 for the i7.

If you really want to go with the i5, the Asus P7P55D-E Pro is easily the best board out there. Avoid Gigabyte's P55 boards. They won't let you use both SATA III/USB 3 and SLI at the same time.

For the heatsink, the Scthye Mugen 2 Rev. B is a bit better than the Hyper 212+. It's also roughly the same price. That said, both are excellent, so go with whichever one you like better.

For the RAM, if you're going with the i5 (dual channel), these G.Skill Eco sticks are better. They have lower voltage and the same specs. They're also cheaper. The triple channel sticks you choose above are fine for the i7.

Everything else you need should come with the above parts. All cables wil come with the board and thermal paste will come with the HSF. You could pick up some better paste, but it's not necessary unless you're trying for a truly massive overclock, at which point you'd need something better than the Hyper 212+ or Scythe Mugen.
November 5, 2010 5:54:07 PM

Thanks so much both of you for the recommendation and explanations!

I'll go with the RAM and heat sink suggested and look into an Asus Mobo.

In the case that both the i5 and i7 have virtually no upgrade path, I think I will go with the i5. It offers nearly the same gaming performance. I'm thinking I'll be able to save $200 (on CPU, Mobo an Memory) going with the i5. At MicroCenter I can get the i5 760/motherboard combo for around $300 and i7 950/motherboard combo for around $450.

Based on the rate at which I upgrade my computer (every 5 or so years, I am still running a Pentium 4) I'll likely be replacing both the CPU and Mobo anyway when the time comes (and likely be looking for a more substantial upgrade than a i7 950 to a i7 980X). I am thinking with the the i5 I'll be getting the best value for my money right now and have $200+ interest to put toward the new CPU/Mobo in 4 to 5 years :) 
November 5, 2010 10:53:43 PM

Asus mobo's are great, have a look at this one http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/224525/P7P55D-E%20PRO.... I also really like gigabyte mobo's http://www.bestdirect.ca/products/223282/Gigabyte/GA_P5.... Both offer great feature sets and are priced very well. And if you can get both the mobo and cpu for $300 what a steal!

Haha I am also like you, I am currently running a 5 yr old pentium 4 and it still works fairly well. Gonna give it to my mom once It dies or use it as a server.
a b 4 Gaming
November 5, 2010 11:01:59 PM

The P55A-UD4P doesn't allow using SATA III/USB 3 and Crossfire/SLI at the same time. That's why I recommend avoiding Gigabyte right now for a LGA1156 build.
November 5, 2010 11:13:52 PM

Thanks for the heads up. I'll keep an eye out for a good price on a Asus P7P55D-E Pro over the next month.
November 6, 2010 2:01:18 AM

id recommend you just dont go sli, keep it as a single vcard and save another $180-$200+ interest for the next upgrade.
I dont think its a good idea to buy a SDD just now, with some time they will drop in price and go up in storage capabilities. another $150+interest in savings.
then you have a really nice PC that its able to run any single game right now, and will be able to run most (if not all) games for 2-3 years...


After that you have around $550+ interests saved, and you can buy a new rig. :pt1cable: 

Today i dont think its a good idea to think in future proof builds, tech goes so fast that its better just to have an OK machine able to make anything right now, and then have a new one every 2-3 years.

GL with your build anyways.

a b 4 Gaming
November 6, 2010 12:58:27 PM

I also wouldn't start a build with SLI. I would've just bought the biggest GPU you could get (i.e. instead of two $200 ones, one $400), then planned to add a second later. That way the build would likely perform at a high level for a lot longer.

However, considering that you already have a single GPU, you almost need to pick up the second soon to get really good performance. You kind of locked yourself in to a build that won't last as long by buying some parts ahead of time.
a b 4 Gaming
November 6, 2010 1:12:42 PM

Boogie Woogie said:
Thanks so much both of you for the recommendation and explanations!

I'll go with the RAM and heat sink suggested and look into an Asus Mobo.

In the case that both the i5 and i7 have virtually no upgrade path, I think I will go with the i5.


A few things u should know about SATA/USB 3.0 tech and mobos as shown by our very own forums here
USB 3.0, SATA 6Gb/s, Motherboards, And Overcoming Bottlenecks
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/usb-3.0-sata-6gb,25...
Not All USB 3.0 Implementations Are Created Equal
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nec-controller-usb-...
Also note that LGA 1156 shall be usurped by LGA 1155 as soon as end of this year/possible Q1 next year if u intending to sink a wee bit on chip + board FYI.. with no backwards/forwards compatibility
http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2010/04/21/intel-...



Also if u merely game and dun do render/encode note that at Full HD + AA/AF bottleneck passes back to GPU ..not that games are quadcore optimized anyway


The Game Rundown: Finding CPU/GPU Bottlenecks, Part 2
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/game-performance-bo...
Quote:
Conclusion: A Trend Toward 3+ Cores

The average optimal number of CPU cores suggested by the test results is 2.75, showing a clear trend towards at least three CPU cores.The question of whether the CPU or GPU is most important is easily answered. If you don't have a multi-core CPU, then upgrade it. If you have a dual-core CPU at around 3 GHz, then invest your money into a graphics card, as most games are GPU-limited. This is not something that will change with new DirectX 11 games.

November 6, 2010 1:19:02 PM

second what is here for the most part. problem i ran into with upgrading to a second card later is that by the time i wanted to add another gtx 280 of the same speed, i couldn't find one. i went with the fastest gtx 280 money could buy the day they came out and i'm still happy with it. the only reason i'm going to go to two gpu's next upgrade is because my monitor runs at 2560x1600 native and the gtx 460 seems to finally have some nice gains at that resolution. i'd second the idea to get one of whatever the best card you can afford is.

also agree that if you have some of the parts, buy sooner rather than later. tech moves so fast, you can't have parts sitting around waiting for other parts. if you have some parts, buy what you want on the deals over the next month and enjoy. it sounds like you can't go wrong with a new build after what you have to work with right now.

one more thought, i built the same way originally, and then had to come up with about $5000 to put my last build together. needed a monitor too as i was working with a crt so that was about $2000 of that. now, i put away a little money twice a month out of my paycheck and i'm putting parts in every six months or so. just replaced my old, old, old antec case with a lian li x900. next step is two new gpu's, probably this spring. it's not quite so painful that way.
November 6, 2010 7:04:43 PM

Best answer selected by Boogie Woogie.
November 6, 2010 7:49:08 PM

Quote:
Axlrose:

second what is here for the most part. problem i ran into with upgrading to a second card later is that by the time i wanted to add another gtx 280 of the same speed, i couldn't find one.


This was kind of my justification for the x2 GTX 460 now... I could get a good 5870 or these x2 460s for around the same price. At the rate I upgrade (every 4-5 years), it may be tough to find the same speed 5870 or I might be looking for a bigger improvement than the addition of a 5870. With the rate at which GPU's are advancing, chances are I'll be dumping whatever GPU's I have in 4 to 5 years.

Lately it seems to me that trying to future proof a build can be losing man's game what with Intel always changing sockets and new generations of GPU's appearing semi-annually...

So I figure if I am getting the best bang for my buck st each upgrade interval (every 4 -5 years), I'll be alright.

So with "bang-for-my-buck" in mind, benchmarks here at Tom's seem to favor x2 GTX 460's over the single 5870. I've read a lot of good reviews on them... run cool, stable and quiet in SLI (And a lifetime warranty!!!).

Then again, I might just be trying to justify my mistake... :D 

Thanks for all the information and advice guys. I would have been a fish-outa-water without you. I'll certainly heed your advice MadAdmiral and consider getting one GPU on my next build/upgrade (but too late for me now... :(  ). Hopefully building goes smoothly this next month. I'm sure you'll all hear from me if it doesn't!
December 24, 2010 6:08:04 PM

Just stumbled on this thread. Everyone involved in helping this person with the build is top notch. Good to see everyone helping each other. Salutes to all of you. =U-BYTE= <---- no offense intended,,,Just a screen name. :) 
!