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~$550-650 Budget Gamer (L4D2) Critique

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January 26, 2011 5:53:37 PM

Hey all
Approximate Purchase Date: week to a month (probably before the end of Feb, unless someone here says something to convince me otherwise)
Budget Range: $550-$650 After Rebates,
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (L4D2, Audiosurf), programming, web surfing
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg only
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: AMD CPU, other than that just something with decent quality...
Overclocking: Maybe
SLI or Crossfire: Not now (upgradability would be nice)
Monitor Resolution: Not sure yet, at least 1440x900. He will probably be getting one used from his parents
Additional Comments: This is for one of my roommates. He wants a computer that can run games like Left 4 Dead 2 at good frame rates and also be able to run new releases in the future (not at max settings or anything too crazy, just playable (>30) frame rates at decent settings)

Here's what I was thinking:
CD/DVD: LG DVD Burner - $15
Case: Antec 200 ATX Mid Tower - $50 - $10 MIR
PSU/HDD: Cooler Master 750W + Seagate Barracude 1TB 7200RPM - $150 - $20 MIR
GPU/RAM: Radeon 5770 1GB GDDR5 + OCZ DDR3 1600 8-8-8-24 - $170 - $35 MIR
CPU/mobo: Phenom II x4 955 (3.2GHz BE) + Gigabyte 880GA AM3 mobo - $240
This totals to $625 with a total of $65 worth of MIRs, so $555 after MIR (+ $5 shipping)

My rationale:
CD/DVD: Cheap, highly rated
Case: Antec makes good cases, and the 200 is cheap
PSU: 750W leaves room for upgrading
HDD: Combo with PSU, also has decent reviews
GPU: Good combo with RAM (saves $45 after MIR)
RAM: Fast, decent timings, combo with GPU
CPU: OCable, good value
mobo: combo with CPU, other than that this one leaves room for expansion being a full ATX board, also has USB 3.0

On a side note has anyone ever bought anything like this? It seems like it should work just fine if your case only supplies a limited amount of USB front panel ports and you want to get some more in back... Or is there something similar that could fit in a 5.25" bay

Best solution

January 26, 2011 6:04:33 PM

Case: Here's a better one for the same price. Rosewill Destroyer.

PSU/HDD: I hate that combo. The PSU is a POS and the Seagate's not the best either. The price sucks too. Instead, grab the Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB for $60 and the XFX 650W for $74 after rebate and shipping. That totals $134, but that $4 is well worth the added quality and performance. The F3 offers better performance (though very slight), but it's also considered higher quality. Seagate's previous generation, the 7200.11, had a widespread issue of turning into a brick. Cooler Master PSUs are just plain crap. I wouldn't trust it at all. Besides, 650W is enough to Crossfire the 5770.

RAM/GPU: Hate it. Period. OCZ's DDR3 sucks really bad right now. Their sticks are so bad that OCZ is getting out of RAM entirely. The sticks have been known to have compatiblity issues with a wide variety of motherboards. I wouldn't chance it. Instead, pick up the Corsair XMS3 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 9 for $40 after rebate and this HD 5770 for $100 after rebate.

CPU/Mobo: I'd really like to squeeze an i5-2500K into the build, but it's probably not happening. That CPU is $225, and the best cheap board for it is $153. So instead, switch the board for a ASRock 870 Extreme3. It's $1 cheaper, and it allows you to Crossfire later on. The Gigabyte's second PCIe 2.0 slot only runs at 4x, making it useless.

On the topic of adding USB ports, they make a wide variety of card readers that fit in a 5.25" (or 3.5") bay. Almost all of them include a couple of USB ports in addition to a number of different SD card readers and such.
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February 2, 2011 3:20:25 PM

All right. The wonderful month of February has arrived, and with it, new deals. (my roommate also got his money transferred to the right account now so he can actually buy the parts now)
Here's my current thoughts:
CPU: AMD Phenom 965 BE (3.4GHz)
MOBO: Asus M4A79XTD AM3 790X
RAM: PNY 4GB DDR3 1600 CAS8
PSU: Cougar 700W (not modular but has lots of SATA (8) and PCI-E (2x6, 2x6+2)
CASE: Antec 300
GPU: XFX Radeon 5770 1GB
HDD: Samsung 500GB 7200RPM
CD/DVD: HP DVD Burner

The price breakdown is:
CD/DVD: $20
CASE: $60 - $15 MIR
HDD: $50
GPU: $150 - $20MIR
CPU+MOBO: $244 - $15MIR
PSU + RAM: $145 - $20MIR
So that totals to $669 - $70MIR = $599 + $8.71 shipping = $608.70
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February 2, 2011 5:16:46 PM

Most of the stuff has a 3 yr warranty except for the DVD drive which has 1 yr and the RAM and GPU, which have limited lifetime warranties
AFAIK all of these brands are relatively highly reliable. The ASUS is the only one without a 5 egg review, and that's sitting right at 4 eggs.
Doing the math, I think there should be about ~65% chance that one or more component will be DOA or fail quickly (based on the percentage of 1 and 2 egg reviews, assuming that all of those are DOAs)
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February 2, 2011 5:22:17 PM

Did you bother to even look at my recommendations or the reasons behind them? You did end up changing the HDD to what I suggested and the RAM is better, but the PSU is another POS and the case isn't that great. It's kind of expensive for only having a single fan. I still recommend everything I had in the first post.

Also, Newegg reviews are a horrible way to gauge quality in most cases. If a product haven't been out as long, it will have a worse rating because negative reviews are more likely (in all cases). In addition, you have the morons on there giving amazing products 1 egg reviews for not getting a rebate within a few weeks or Newegg being slow to ship it. They mean nothing about the actual product in most cases.
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February 2, 2011 6:18:22 PM

I would make a few changes. First off, I recommend upgrading to the 300 Illusion, upgrade to the samsung 1TB, upgrade the ram and dump the HP CD/DVD.

CPU: AMD Phenom 965 BE (3.4GHz)
MOBO: Asus M4A79XTD AM3 790X
RAM: G.SKILL F3-12800CL7D-4GBRM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PSU: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CASE: Antec 300 Illusion
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GPU: HIS H577FK1GD Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
CD/DVD: Lite-On iHAS124-04
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Comes to $679.93 - $65MIR = $614.93 no shipping
You get a better case, memory, Burner, PS and upgraded hd for $36 more dollars.

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February 2, 2011 6:44:53 PM

I'm wary of the Corsair "Enthusiast" series PSUs. I know that a while ago Corsair began getting 650W units from a lower quality source than they used to, and around that time the Enthusiast series was launched. I'd avoid them, especially when XFX's 650Ws (modular, more efficient) are within $5 of it's price.

I'd also switch back the X4 955. It's the same CPU as the 965, just without a slight factory overclock. At $21 less (counting the $10 Newegg gift card that comes with the 955), there is no reason to buy the 965 when the 955 is the exact same.

I like the 300 Illusion, but I can't get behind it when either the Rosewill Destroyer or Challenger is $15 cheaper and is just as good or better. Tom's review of the $50-60 cases came away recommending the Challenger.

I'll also reiterate that the board chosen above, while a good one (I'm using it now), is an older model. You don't get USB 3/SATA III support or support for dropping in the X6 CPUs. I highly recommend considering the ASRock 870 Extreme3. While ASRock may not be as big a name as Asus or Gigabyte, all they do is win awards and recommendations for pretty much everyone. Their boards are low priced, but high performance and packed with features.
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February 2, 2011 7:20:22 PM

I would rather stick with Corsair or buy Antec before I would by a PS by XFX.

I see your point about the 955 vs 965. But there is no combo offer with the 870 Extreme and 955. The price for both is $258.98 vs 243.99 with no rebate. Not saying it's a huge deal breaker but it is a $30 difference.

If USB 3/ SATA III support is a huge concern to the OP then I would go with the 870 extreme. If it isn't I would stick with the Asus combo. The OP will be fine with either board. I am using the Asus board with the x6 1055T CPU and have no problems with it.
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February 2, 2011 7:49:52 PM


Yeah I don't think that USB3/SATA3 would be used with this computer. The processor will probably never need to be upgraded (but you never know), and even if it is, 6 cores is probably excessive anyways. That's the main reason why I went with the ASUS (besides the fact that it's about $25 cheaper)...

The main reason that I went with the 300 is that it's 10 bucks cheaper than the challenger, and you really can't go wrong with an antec 300..

The only reason I took the 965 was that before the $10 gift card, its $15 combo savings with the mobo were worth it.

You know what the warranty is on the HIS?

Swapping the PSU for the XFX, dropping the CPU to the 955, swapping the GPU to the HIS 5770 brings the price to $666 - 110 MIR = $556.
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February 2, 2011 8:12:35 PM

Awesome job on the build. His GPU's come with a 2 year warranty.

I recommend sticking with the Corsair Pwr supply over XFX. You can go to any website or any blog and if you ask what's the best 650W PS, Corsair would win hands down. I would have gone with the Corsair but the Antec EA 650 (2nd rated PS) was $20 dollars cheaper with a $15 or $20 rebate. But that is just 2 cents :p 
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February 2, 2011 9:05:45 PM

XFX is just as high quality. Their PSUs have gotten extremely good reviews. The company just doesn't have the history of Corsair. I'd venture a guess that it's definitely higher quality than the Enthusiast PSUs.
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February 2, 2011 9:13:14 PM

Then I stand corrected :D 
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February 2, 2011 11:40:45 PM

Best answer selected by killersquirel11.
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February 2, 2011 11:52:34 PM

I used the Rosewill Destroyer for my 1st build and would highly recommend it. Plenty of room to work in, pretty decent cable management, and came with lots of screws some zip ties and decent tool less parts for your drives. I've used a few different 50 dollar range cases(whatever has free shipping and or a rebate) since the 1st build and always end up wishing I just ordered the Destroyer as soon as I open up the case. Haven't tried a Antec case yet tho, might be as good or better than the Rosewill. I've been using the Antec green series PSU's they have had a nice discount up until just recently. This Antec has good reviews and a nice discount/MIR/promo at it atm: Antec NEO ECO 620C 620W.

As for memory I haven't had any problems with the Mushkin Wintec or G.skill memory I've used, see Cosair recommended a lot but def stay away from PNY and the OCZ much better stuff out there. The Asus board looks good and the Asrock MadAdmiral suggested is good also. He gives really good advice I would take his opinion almost any day of the week. From the suggestions I've read in the threads on here haven't seen him steer anyone in a bad direction form my experience.
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