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Advice on a Budget Gaming Build

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November 23, 2010 9:45:40 PM

-= UPDATED 11/24/2010 =-

Hey guys. Some of you may remember me from the Graphics card forum where I asked about a new card for my Dell GX280. Well, I got sick of looking for compatible parts for my computer and finally decided to build my own.

I've wanted to build my own computer for several years now (I still have a "Build Your Own PC" instructional VHS/manual set way back from early 2000-01), mostly because I want more control over what I have.

I've been researching for half a day (granted, that's not enough time) and I've come up with this setup. My budget is $500, $600 if need be (yes, I'm another budget gamer; I plan on asking for most of these parts for Christmas, anyway) I don't know if I'm much of a "hardcore" gamer (though "hardcore gamers" nowadays seem to consist more of graphics hounds then gamers); as stated in my previous thread I tend to run games at low settings (1024x768, no AA or AF, no bloom, no shadows, high/medium models and textures, etc.) even if my computer can handle it.

Also, I tend to find bloom ugly and only use AA if the graphics look particularly jagged. I like good graphics but not enough to make my eyes bleed with the awesomeness.

Specifically, I want a PC that handles Source and Unreal Engine 3 games well. I'd also like to play Modern Warfare, MAYBE MW2, and MAYBE Far Cry 2, but not Crysis.

So, here's what I came up with. Please keep in mind that this is my first time ever building a computer, and even though I can tell my motherboard from my mother, I'm pretty clueless on hardware specs. Some parts may not be compatible with others, but I tried to make sure they were.

Anyway, here's what I decided upon. All of these parts are from Newegg, and I haven't really found any combo deals that I'm fond of.

Before I start though, I'd like to say that I don't need a hard drive (I have one which is SATA), an optical drive (all three I have are IDE, one being a DVD-ROM drive), a montior, a keyboard, or a mouse. I'm also going for cheap parts because if something breaks I won't be out so much cash.

CPU: AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor ) ($73)

- I'm going with AMD, because they're cheaper. I realize that some of the Intel multiple-core chips are faster, but I'm willing to sacrifice quality for price. I probably could get a quad core for a bit more, but I don't know if I need an extra core.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3 AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard ($63)

GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard ($94)

- Switched the previous one for the slightly more expensive GA-870A-UD3. Has all the ports I need, but the MOSFET chip is reported to have very high temps under full load. I don't know if that should be a concern to me.

Case: COOLER MASTER Elite 430 RC-430-KWN1 Black Steel / Plastic Computer Case ($50)

- There's another CM Elite case that's $10 less, but some Neweggers mention that the corners inside the case are sharp, and considering I have big hands, I don't want to kill myself.

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-500-PCAR-A3-US 500W ATX12V v2.3 Power Supply ($40)

SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply ($60)

- This one is apparently better and more reliable than the Cooler Master. Plus it has 20 more watts, 40A on the 12V rail, and is from a respected PSU manufacturer.

GPU: VisionTek Radeon HD 4850 ($87) -OR- XFX Radeon HD 5670 ($100) -OR- XFX Radeon HD 5770 ($154)

- Won't go with these three. Might go with the GTX 460 or perhaps a Radeon 6xxx series, depending on what is compatible with my Mobo, what won't bottleneck my CPU, and is the most inexpensive.

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBRM ($64)

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK ($64)

- Switched the previous memory out for this one, which is compatible with my mobo.

Speakers: Logitech S-220 17 Watts 2.1 Multimedia Speaker System - OEM ($25)

- The speakers I have now are some dinky Polk Audio speakers that came with an old HP computer. These speakers, however, seem to have bad sound quality.

I can probably survive by using the Audio Out port on the front of my case with headphones, which is what I do now.

The total (with S&H and Taxes) comes to around $390 or so. This is, of course, without the video card, which will increase the budget.

Anyway, that's the build. If you guys can suggest anything better within my price range, I'd be grateful. Thanks!

EDIT: Oh yeah, and I don't plan on overclocking anything. I can also get Windows 7 64-bit through the Microsoft Academic Alliance program. Then again, I may still have to buy a license-key.
November 23, 2010 11:04:11 PM

I think you've made good enough choices. AMD is the right processor choice in your budget range, IMO. I would suggest you also consider a GTX 460 756 MB GPU as well, though. Evan at the lowered 768 MB VRAM value, it will outperform all 3 cards you had listed, and they can be found incredibly cheaply, well below $150 very frequently (I got 2 in SLI for just $245 total with free shipping). I think this card has dropped in price radically enough that it is a really good way to go right now.
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November 23, 2010 11:20:16 PM

AdamOnFirst said:
I would suggest you also consider a GTX 460 756 MB GPU as well, though. Evan at the lowered 768 MB VRAM value, it will outperform all 3 cards you had listed, and they can be found incredibly cheaply, well below $150 very frequently (I got 2 in SLI for just $245 total with free shipping). I think this card has dropped in price radically enough that it is a really good way to go right now.


But would an NVidia video card work well with an AMD-based motherboard?

Also, I guess this thread should be in the New Build section. Could someone move it, please?
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 23, 2010 11:58:04 PM

A SINGLE 460 would be fine. But not in SLI. Defiantly not in SLI. I recommend going with the 5770's just because you'll be able to CF in the future. But if you can pitch some money it, go with the 6850. In the future you'll be able to CF, plus they're OC beast.

Another input, if you can I suggest getting this mobo. Mainly the reason for this mobo is because it has USB 3 and SATA 6 support. But also has another PCI 2.0 16x slot for CF so you can always add that extra 5770. (btw I really suggest putting some more into the budget and adding a 6850 not a 5770. The 6850's OC better and scale better in CF.

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

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November 24, 2010 1:29:31 AM

Thanks for your responses.

Hmm... I'll consider the motherboard. It has a better chipset than the one I currently have. Only thing is that the board you suggested doesn't have an IDE/ATA connection, and I think I need one for my optical drive.

Also, is ASRock a respectable company? I've never used any of their products before.

As for the 6850, I don't know. As I said, I don't plan on using CF any time in the future. I might just settle for the 5770 now and consider upgrading later. I don't know if that's such a wise idea, but right now I'd like to get all the right parts in order before I consider all the big stuff.

I do have concerns about the PSU, though. Is it adequate? Upon further researching I feel it isn't. Can you guys make a suggestion for a better budget PSU? I'll probably have to shell out a little more, but with PSUs you pretty much get what you pay for.
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 24, 2010 2:39:40 AM

That PSU is a bit iffy, Extreme series from CM was kind of a failed product. In the sense it died alot on people. I'd consider the Seasonic S12II 520, it's 20$ more, but it's a respectable company and great psu's come from them. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Uhh Yes ASrock is a respectable company, they used to just aim for budget boards (they still do) but now their company is way better than it was. The boards are very nice, and for the price better than Asus boards.

Umm if you don't plan on CFing then you aren't planning to dual card soon either. At the sound of this, a 460 is a better option than the 5770. The 460 can OC better than the 5770 and has better stock performance if you don't want to OC. Soo... Yeah... I suggest this model. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It's only 15$ more than the 5770 and has incredible OCing ability and at stock. The cooling is really great performance as well as quiet. Plus there is a 20$ MIR.
Review: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1369/9/
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November 24, 2010 3:43:51 AM

Hmm...

I'm probably going to switch the PSU to the Seasonic you suggested. It costs more, but I'd rather not deal with a bunch of burnt out components.

The video card I'm still debating on, so I'll get back to you on that one.

Quote:
Uhh Yes ASrock is a respectable company, they used to just aim for budget boards (they still do) but now their company is way better than it was. The boards are very nice, and for the price better than Asus boards.


Sorry. I've never heard of ASRock before so I didn't know if they were good or not. I might switch to the ASrock Mobo you suggested, but I want to keep my options open.


Currently, with your suggestions, my setup is around $517 (not including tax and shipping) on Newegg, which isn't too bad. I don't know if I can do better at this point without sacrificing quality. I'll probably be able to get some of these parts on Amazon without the tax.

Aside from those things (and the speakers, which I might either ditch or switch), are the RAM and case okay?

Man, I rushed into this too fast; should've done some more research beforehand. Luckily I don't really have a deadline (aside from Christmas), but I don't want to get obsessed with this.

Thanks for the suggestions, though. I'll browse the forums some more, and I'm hoping some other people will weigh in.
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 24, 2010 3:53:24 AM

Lol, Umm here's a review on the 870. Asrock has been a big mobo player for a while now... I'm surprised you haven't heard of them... They made AM2 and 940 boards too, that was like forever ago.

http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/asrock_870...

Great things are said about this board.
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November 24, 2010 6:19:59 AM

To be honest, I'm not that tech savvy. All the PCs I've ever used up until now were pre-built, so I never paid any attention to the components, except when they broke...or when I break 'em. That's probably why I'm having difficulty finding the right stuff.

Anyway, I think I've got it all set. I'm going with the Seasonic PSU, and I found a GTX 460 by Gigabyte on Amazon for $160. All I need to do is add a SATA-compliant optical drive to the mix and I think I may be good to go (hopefully). I'll keep looking for some less expensive parts, though.

Thanks again.
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November 25, 2010 1:21:13 AM

Meh. That rebate ends later in the week, and I was planning on asking for most of these for Christmas, as I said.

Anyway, I've spoken too soon, and have changed some parts. For one thing, I've found this motherboard on Newegg, and it seems to have everything I want (especially the IDE port for my Optical Drive, a port the ASRock didn't have). It's also $6 cheaper.

GIGABYTE GA-870A-UD3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard

It's gotten decent reviews, but most say that the MOSFET chip on that motherboard gets up to 80 degrees Celsius under full load. I don't know if that should be a concern to me.

Also, I've switched the memory because the Ripjaw I had wasn't compatible with the mobo (at least according to this.)

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL8D-4GBHK

What do you guys think of these (and by "these" I mean both the RAM and the MOBO).
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2010 1:29:05 AM

That mobo is pretty good. I mean It's all you decision in the end, we're just your helpers or guiders. Uhhh ram wise, and mobo wise both are good.
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November 25, 2010 2:03:06 AM

Yeah, I know, but it's my first build, and the first time I've ever found the need to get into the nitty-gritty of computer hardware, so I guess I'm overwhelmed by it all. I sort of feel like I wandered into a village of people whose culture and language I don't understand.

My family is planning on helping me build this thing, though, so I won't totally lost.
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a c 91 B Homebuilt system
November 25, 2010 2:12:18 AM

It's easy, just go on Youtube haha. TBH, that's how I learned to do my cable management, applying TIM, and building a computer. Youtube is a great source.
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