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Gaming Build $800 or Less

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November 18, 2010 4:19:17 AM

Greetings! I'm looking for advice on a new gaming build - nothing too fancy or exciting. I don't tend to play much in the way of cutting edge games, but I also don't know a ton about parts and what-not, so any recommendations are greatly appreciated -- especially if I can easily get by for less $$$.

All that being said, here's the standard template:

Approximate Purchase Date: Before the end of the year.

Budget Range: $800 or less would be fantastic. How low can you go? (And still meet my criteria ;)  )

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, browsing, having music playing in the background, and some limited office-type applications (Word, Excell, etc).

On the gaming end of things, the types of games I'll be playing over the next year or two will probably be things along the lines of World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III (Blizzard games aren't too system taxing, but I definitely want these to run on max settings), Civilization 4/5, Total War games, Dragon Age, and the like. I'm really not into FPS, except on rare occasions.

I generally pick one (maybe two) games at a time for a stretch of several months, and then switch to something else. For that reason, I'm thinking an SSD might be good to install my current game of choice.

Parts Not Required: I won't need a keyboard, mouse, monitor, or speakers. I've got a 5-year old Thermaltake Tsunami Dream case that I love and will re-use unless there's a good reason not to, and I'll probably use an existing HDD for the OS and miscellaneous programs.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I've used Newegg in the past and have been happy with them. But I may also just go to my local Frys to get everything. That way my Wife can go along for the ride and feel like she's contributing to the project.

Country of Origin: US of A

Parts Preferences: I do prefer Intel and Nvidia. What can I say, Intel is a major employer where I live, and I've always had a thing for Nvidia.

Overclocking: Extremely unlikely.

SLI or Crossfire: Probably not, unless it makes sense (though I doubt the stuff I play would benefit much from it, but I'm open to suggestions).

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 is what my current monitor is running at, and I'm happy with it.

Additional Comments: A quiet PC is definitely a good thing. I've had a couple of video cards the last few years develop cooling-fan problems.

So here's some of the components I'm thinking of:

  • Processor: Intel i5 760. I would like the processor to last a good long while so that hopefully the only thing I'll really need to upgrade over the next couple of years will be the GPU. But is an i5 more processor than I'll really need? Would an i3 be good enough for now but have more upgrade potential for later?

  • Motherboard: No idea on this one, and completely open to suggestions.

  • RAM: Also no idea on this one. Probably what, 4 gigs worth?

  • HSF: Since I won't be overclocking, would the stock fan be good enough? Or should I get a something along the lines of a COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler?

  • HDD I'll probably put the OS and other miscellaneous programs on a HDD I already have, but am thinking about getting a SSD just to hold my current game of choice. Based on that, I'll only need enough storage space to hold one or two games at a time, so max size needed would probably be what, 60 gigs or so? Or is an SSD just a silly extra expense that isn't needed for what I'm doing?

  • PSU I'm really not sure how much juice I would need, or what brand to go with, so open to suggestions.

  • GPU: This is one area where I don't want to spend a ton, want to have something good enough for now, but am willing to upgrade to something better later. I'm thinking something along the lines of a GeForce GTS 450 (~130) or GTX 460 (~$170) as recommended in the November 2010 guide.

  • Optical Drives: No need for a DVD burner or BluRay, but burning CD's is nice. I might be able to get away with using an old existing drive.

  • Case Again, I'll probably just re-use my old Thermaltake Tsunami Dream. It's pretty and I like it, unless there's some sort of inherent risk or problem with using a 5-year-old case.

  • Operating System: Yes, this will need to be part of the package. Windows 7, and I'll assume the way to go is Home Premium?

    One combo package I saw while browsing on Newegg that looks like it's kind of along the lines of what I'm looking for is a Core i5-760/H55/4GB/SSD Upgrade Kit. Any thoughts on going with something like that? Or are there better packages / combo deals that can be put together?

    Again, I'm very open to suggestions and information, and greatly appreciate any and all responses.

    Cheers!
  • More about : gaming build 800

    a b 4 Gaming
    November 18, 2010 4:56:03 AM

    i5 760 + ASUS P7P55D-E LX LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    Mushkin 4GB DDR3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    PSU -
    SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    SSD
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Video card - Get the GTX 460
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    CPU Cooler - If running at stock speeds, then no issues with the stock cooler...

    DVD - Depends if you want a new one or not...

    Total - ~$726
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    November 18, 2010 5:44:02 AM

    Thats a nice build, and if you want to go even lower on the money you can go with AMD cpu And still meet your criteria :p 
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    November 18, 2010 4:22:15 PM

    Actually, the more I think about it, I'm considering going with an i3 of some sort. This may be a dumb question, but will basically any 1156 socket Mobo be able to run an i5 or even i7 down the road when the prices of those processors go down?

    On the other hand, I guess the total cost of getting an i3 now and an i5 later would probably end up being the same as just getting an i5 now . . .
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    a b 4 Gaming
    November 19, 2010 1:54:52 AM

    ^ Why not instead go with the AMD Phenom ? You get better performance than i3s and they are not much more costlier...
    But if you will be overclocking, then the i3s might be a good choice as they overclock very well...
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    November 19, 2010 5:20:54 AM

    the i3 is only dual core, that i5 is quad. RTS games make more use of multi-threading than most other types. (A generalization, but usually the case due to AI, pathfinding, etc) You'll be much happier with the i5 760.

    I'm much more of a fan of the 1GB GTX460 than the 768MB personally, but as long as you are sure 1680x1050 is the biggest monitor you'll use the 768MB version will be ok.

    Since it's within your budget, I'd stick with the Intel over the AMD also, it is a bit more expensive, but the performance is usually worth it. And if you do decide to overclock later (A mild OC is very easy, and almost 0 risk) you'll have more room to do so on the Intel processor. (Lower starting clock, 2.8 vs 3.2ish. 3.6 is a good beginner OC on both.)
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    November 20, 2010 5:19:54 AM

    Yeah, the more I think about it the more I'll probably want to go with an i5. Whether I go 750 or 760 will probably depend on what I can find a better combo deal for.

    One budget issue I'm starting to see already though is that when I factor in the Operating System, I'm having a hard time staying under budget.

    And actually, speaking of the OS, I'm a bit confused on what exactly I should get. I'm pretty sure Windows Home Premium is the version, but can I get away with doing Upgrade or will I need to get a Full version since it's a new computer build? I guess I could install XP first using the license from the computer I'll be taking apart, but is it necessary to install XP first?

    And as for the Windows 7 install, should I do the 32 bit version or the 64 bit version. I just read somewhere that if you won't have more than 4 gigs RAM, then 32 bit is all that's needed. That true?
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    November 20, 2010 12:09:30 PM

    yeah thats true, you cant fully utilize your 4gb RAM if you're going to install a 32bit
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    November 20, 2010 1:12:10 PM

    Also when going for the os, go for the OEM version. It is only like 100 bucks
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    November 20, 2010 1:23:51 PM

    Here is an AMD alternative

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    November 22, 2010 5:15:07 AM

    Well, I've decided on a few items, but am still on the fence for a few others.

    I'm definitely going to go with an i5 for the CPU. 750 or 760, depending on best combo deal. I really like the i760 / ASUS P7P55D-E LX combo that gkay09 linked, and have it sitting in my NewEgg shopping cart. I figure it's time to take the overclocking plunge, so I'll get a Cooler Master Hyper 212 heatsink/fan as well.

    I'd also really like to go with a GTX-460 video card, and will be looking for good combo deals with RAM or something else. Does brand really make that much of a difference for video cards these days? The last one I bought was a PNY 9600 GT, and the cooling fan has some serious asthma sometimes. Before that I had a BFG 7800 GT that also had a fan crap out on me.

    Are video card brands like EVGA, Palit, OCZ, Asus, etc all more or less pretty comparable?

    As for hard drive, I'm thinking of dropping the SSD for now and either getting a Spinpoint or just recycling an existing hard drive. I figure if I'm going to try to save money anywhere, this is the place to do it from a performance standpoint.

    PSU wise, how much power will I need? Anything over 550W (good brand) going to work fine? I may just recycle an Antec TruePower 550W that I bought about 2 years ago that seems to be going strong. Thoughts?

    I'm planning on buying all the parts in about the next 7 to 10 days, so any help I can get narrowing down the specifics is much appreciated, especially if you can explain the method behind the madness!
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    November 25, 2010 3:17:01 AM

    Well, with Black Friday just around the corner, here's the build I've come up with:

    CPU + Motherboard Combo - Combo Price: $254.98 w/ $10 rebate card: Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80605I5760

    ASUS P7P55D-E LX LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    PSU + Video Card Combo - Combo Price: $299.98 w/ $45 of rebate cards: CORSAIR CMPSU-850TX 850W ATX12V 2.2 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Active PFC Power Supply

    EVGA 768-P3-1362-TR GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) Superclocked 768MB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video ... (with HAWX 2 game lol)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    Memory - $69.99:CORSAIR XMS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 Ultra Stable Desktop Memory Model CMX4GX3M2A1333C8

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Operating System - $129.99: Microsoft Windows 7 Family Pack/ Home Premium Upgrade - Retail 3 PCs. I've got a couple systems that are about due for an upgrade from XP.

    Total basket price: $754.94 less $55 of rebates = $699.94

    This build doesn't include a hard drive, as I'm still on the fence if I really need a new one right now, but being $100 under budget certainly leaves lots of options open.

    Thoughts?
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    November 25, 2010 3:08:25 PM

    Yeah, I guess that PSU was overkill. It just seemed like such a good deal!

    How about this instead:

    PSU + Memory - Combo Price: $129.98 w/ $20 rebate card: OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W ATX12V v2.2 / EPS12V SLI Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply

    OCZ Signature 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model OCZ3SG1600LV4GK

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    Video Card - Price: $199.99 w/ $25 rebate card:MSI N460GTX CYCLONE 1GD5/OC GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Those substitutions bring my cart price to $714.94 w/ $55 of rebates for a final cost of $659.94.



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    a b 4 Gaming
    November 26, 2010 3:39:54 AM

    ^ Single card config, then the HD 5850 would be better overall IMO...Also it would be cheaper...
    Also I would prefer not to go OCZ for RAM as of now as there are many stability issues reported in many customer reviews...
    Or if you still want Nvidia, then the deal on the GTX 470 is good
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
    And get the RAM that I have linked...
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    November 26, 2010 6:23:28 PM

    I think I'll stick with the MSI Cyclone GTX 460. My biggest gripe with my last few video cards has been the noisy fans. Switched to the GSkill RipJaw RAM you linked earlier, popped in a 650W Corsair PSU, added a CPU cooler and optical drive, and here's my final build:

    CPU + Motherboard Combo - Combo Price: $254.98 w/ $10 rebate card: Intel Core i5-760 Lynnfield 2.8GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80605I5760

    ASUS P7P55D-E LX LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

    CPU Cooler - $29.99 w/ $15 rebate card: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 compatible RR-B10-212P-G1 120mm "heatpipe direct contact" Long life sleeve CPU Cooler

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Video Card - Price: $199.99 w/ $25 rebate card: MSI N460GTX CYCLONE 1GD5/OC GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card (with HAWX 2 game lol)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Memory - $49.99:G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    PSU - $79.99 w/ $25 rebate card:CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Optical Drive - $17.99: ASUS 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 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    Operating System - $129.99: Microsoft Windows 7 Family Pack/ Home Premium Upgrade - Retail 3 PCs. I've got a couple systems that are about due for an upgrade from XP.

    Total basket price: $762.92 less $75 of rebates = $687.92
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