CPU/Motherboard/RAM Combination -- low-end gaming

Hi! I tried to follow the template as well as I could where it made sense to. Here it goes:

Approximate Purchase Date: Soon. Before Christmas, anyway. I was hoping to leverage some holiday-type sales in order to get good prices

Budget: I'm not trying to stick to a budget so much as I'm trying to figure out what I need, and some components that are good choices. Then I'm going to try to get stuff for as cheap as possible, maybe leveraging some holiday sales. If I had to throw out a number, I'd say ~$500, I guess.

System Usage: light gaming: WoW, Starcraft II, Portal, Half-Life 2

Parts I already have:
Thermaltake TR2 W0070RUC 430W ATX12V V2.2

XFX Radeon HD 5770



Parts Needed:

CPU/Motherboard/RAM combination
I was thinking about basing this around a Core i3 ($100 at Microcenter) unless somebody can give me a reason not to.
Probably 4GB of RAM -- I don't really know what I require speed-wise...
Monitor -- Something bigger than 20'' with at least 1920x1080 resolution. I'm open to the idea of a refurb here (I've heard that Dell's Outlet is good for monitors?)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg I guess. I'm open to others.

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: I don't really have a preference... Looking to get good performance for my money, and was thinking about an Intel Core i3 initially.

Overclocking: Probably--light, using stock cooler

SLI or Crossfire: No.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 or better
19 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    At your budget, stick with an AMD system. You get more bang for your buck. Also, it's better to get more real cores than just 2 with hyperthreading. For gaming, Tom's has tested that you would need on average about 2.75 cores at most and at all other times you would have a GPU bottle neck.

    ASUS VH236H Black 23" 2ms(GTG) $169.99 after $20 mail-in rebate card

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333 $79.99

    Athlon II x3 445 and ASRock 870 Extreme3 $163.99

    Total: $413.97

    Alternately, you can go with the costlier option if you feel you need more CPU power: Phenom II x4 955 and Asus M4A89GTD PRO $255.98

    With same ram and monitor, it would be a little over $500.
  2. +1 to Kureme
  3. Awesome, thanks for the input guys. I will definitely take a closer look at the AMD route... One question about the motherboard though. Is there any room in there for even more savings? I realize that $99 is pretty damn cheap, but I thought I'd ask since it seems like it has lots of bells and whistles that I won't necessarily use (2xPCIe, USB 3.0, SATA 6.0, optical audio, etc.)
  4. Nah, 99 is good for a mobo, if it HAS the extras, keep it =p....) most of those are given they all have....
  5. Okay cool, that's kinda what I figured. Any gut feelings on what kind of performance I could get overclocking it? I'm going to do some googlin' to see what I can find, but I thought I'd ask if anybody here has success.

    Also, do you think my 430W Thermaltake PSU will hold up?
  6. No, I doubt it..... sounds a bit like a case PSU.... so definitly not...
  7. What atotalnoob said. Although you probably won't use the extras immediately, they provide much room for expansion and futureproofing. If you'd rather not, here's an even cheaper cpu/mobo combo that's just as good. It has an older chipset so you may not be able to unlock the 4th core on the Athlon. You need one of the newer chipsets with core unlock and also a bit of luck to get the 4th unlocked, then you'd have a Athlon II x4 for the price of a x3.

    Athlon II x3 445 and ASRock M3A770DE $118.99
  8. unlocking is like 50% chance either way, don't count on it for 100%
  9. Just for my reference, can you recommend a comparable motherboard for the Core i3? Currently the 540 is only $99 at my local Microcenter, so I may still explore that option

    Thanks again for all of the input =)
  10. it is pretty good, but you have no chance of it being a Quad core.
  11. Here are some recommended intel boards..

    ASUS P7P55D-E $139.99 after $10 mail-in rebate card ($144.99+tax at microcenter)

    GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD3 $129.99 after $10 mail-in rebate card ($129.99+tax at microcenter)

    It would bring your total to around $230-240 before tax which in this case you'd be paying the same with tax as the AMD 955. Keep in mind if you're not in california you don't pay tax on newegg.
  12. 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 HDZ955FBGMBOX

    Motherboard:ASRock 890GM PRO3 AM3 AMD 890GX HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX AMD Motherboard

    Memory:G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL

    Monitor:Acer G235HAbd 23'' 5ms 1920x1080 WideScreen LCD monitor 300 cd/m2 1000:1

  13. The only thing I would add to sr26 's post and something no one has really addressed is his power supply. I think this should do the trick at a reasonable cost.


    Certfied and only $80 bucks, $60 after the MIR.

    This will be over budget by $60 bucks, but without solid power, nothing else really matters.
  14. I didn't realize that Thermaltake PSUs were considered to be such crap. Pretty sure the thing had excellent ratings when I bought it, or I wouldn't have. I haven't had any issues with it running a slightly older Athlon CPU and Nvidia GPU.
  15. Hey guys, can somebody field a quick RAM compatibility question? If I get this motherboard (from the combo deal), will it work with this RAM?

    It says the motherboard supports 1600 overclocked, but I'm not entirely sure what that means. Thanks!

    Motherboard says: DDR3 1800(OC)/1600(OC)/1333/1066/800
    RAM says: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
  16. They'll work. :)
  17. Hey guys, just wanted to let you know what I went with:

    CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz -- $73.99
    Mobo: ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard -- $79.99 with a Black Friday deal
    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) -- $49.99
    Monitor: eMachines E233Hbd Black 23" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 DC 80000:1(1000:1) -- $119.99

    Added up to $313.97 after the -$10 for the combo discount.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions!
  18. Best answer selected by triviallytravis.
  19. Happy gaming, and Building!
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