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$1-1.2k Gaming build - questions/advise needed

Sorry for the long post and so many questions, I tried to give as much detail as I could. I’m looking to build a gaming desktop for a friend and am just starting to gather ideas and read up on stuff…any thoughts would be great.

Approximate Purchase Date: end of February, <2 weeks
Budget Range: $1000-1200 After Rebates (rebates are fine)
System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming in high resolution for Starcraft 2, WOW-Cataclysm and Guild Wars 2 as the major games, streaming video (netflix), web browsing, MS Office stuff
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers, 2nd hard drive 500GB (as backup)
Monitor? He wants to use his 37” vizo LCD TV for his xbox360 and desktop, he currently has a Dell 22” LCD (E228WFPWide, max res 1680x1050), either way he has a screen to reuse.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com or other non NY sites to avoid tax
Country of Origin: US
Parts Preferences: no real preferences, I’m kind of partial to XFX graphics cards as I’ve had great results with them in the past
Overclocking: Maybe CPU?
SLI or Crossfire: Don’t know?
Monitor Resolution: max 1920x1080

Questions:
1) CPUs - AMD vs. Intel??? AMD x4 vs x6? I’m cheap so I was thinking best bang for your buck would be an AMD Phenom II X4 955 BE @ $140, but would that be enough CPU for the games he wants to play on high res? and what would be its longevity, ie. still viable in 2 years? Any thoughts would be great…I haven’t read any on the Sandy Bridge or AMD bulldozer…
2) GPUs - I don’t know, picked one that had good reviews fairly far up on the performance list but before getting really expensive. Any other suggestions would be good.
3) Motherboards - I don’t know? Picked one with a combo deal.
[answered] 4) RAM - I think 4GB should be fine, I don’t see a need for 8GB yet, plus if the motherboard has 4 slots he can always upgrade down the line…
[answered] 5) HD - for just gaming is it worth the expense of going to an SSD as the boot/progs and a regular HD for media and data? Any articles to read or thoughts on that?
[answered] 6) Networking - He running a wifi G pci card now, he has a N router, probably should upgrade to a N pci card (ie. I don’t want to run 100+ feet of cable lol)


BUILD 1-AMD more budget oriented, @ about $922 or $852 after rebates…

OS - $70.00
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (best student discount I’ve found so far)
CASE - $69.98 (69.99 + 9.99s/h - 10rebate)
RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WB Black 1.0mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811156063
DVD - $39.98 (2x drives)
LITE-ON Black DVDRW
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106334
CPU- $139.99
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor HDZ955FBGMBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103808
MB - $89.99
ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157198
RAM - $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=N82E16820231277
GPU - $219+$10GC (249 - 30rebate + 10gift card)
XFX HD-687A-ZNFC Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150506
PS - $89.99 (109-30rebate) ? Maybe step up to a modular PS?
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W 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=N82E16817139006
HD1 - $64.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185
NETWORK - $19.99
Rosewill RNX-N180PCe IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE802.11n Draft 2 PCI Express Revision 1.1 Wireless Adapter Up to 300Mbps Wireless Data Rates WPA, WPA2, Open/shared key, and pair-wise
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166063

BUILD 2 - i5 2500K close to maxing out budget, @ about $1130 or $1060 after rebates…

OS - $70.00
Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (best student discount I’ve found so far)
CASE - $69.98 (69.99 + 9.99s/h - 10rebate)
RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WB Black 1.0mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811156063
DVD - $39.98 (2x drives)
LITE-ON Black DVDRW
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106334
CPU- $229.99
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
COOLER- $29.99
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 Compatible with Intel Sandy Bridge
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
MB - $150-175? Unknown currently
RAM - $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=N82E16820231277
GPU - $219+$10GC (249 - 30rebate + 10gift card)
XFX HD-687A-ZNFC Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150506
PS - $89.99 (109-30rebate) ? Maybe step up to a modular PS?
CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W 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=N82E16817139006
HD1 - $64.99
SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185
NETWORK - $19.99
Rosewill RNX-N180PCe IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE802.11n Draft 2 PCI Express Wireless Adapter Up to 300Mbps Wireless Data Rates
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166063
12 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about gaming build questions advise needed
  1. Your MB choices has 2x PCI-e x16 slots but the 2nd slot is x4 for a 2nd video card (CFX). Which is not ideal. Check out the Asrock Exteme3 870 which does CFX @ x8 x8.

    1. Yes
    2. Best Graphics Cards For The Money: February 2011
    3. See above
    4. 4GB is fine. You can also add more down the road.
    5. Can you fit an extra $100~$120 part into your system budget? Computer will work & run games fine without a SSD.
    6. Your network card choice is good.

    You might be about five weeks early if you're buying in six weeks.
  2. WR2 said:
    Your MB choices has 2x PCI-e x16 slots but the 2nd slot is x4 for a 2nd video card (CFX). Which is not ideal. Check out the Asrock Exteme3 870 which does CFX @ x8 x8.

    1. Yes
    2. Best Graphics Cards For The Money: February 2011
    3. See above
    4. 4GB is fine. You can also add more down the road.
    5. Can you fit an extra $100~$120 part into your system budget? Computer will work & run games fine without a SSD.
    6. Your network card choice is good.

    You might be about five weeks early if you're buying in six weeks.


    WR2 - Thank you for your reply!

    Sorry wasn't sure what his exact timing was at that point, he is looking at the end of February to start buying parts so <2 weeks
    The graphics card link was just what I was looking for thanks...now some reading. After reading a bit more on SSDs, I think for the games he plays he won't really notice much of a difference.

    Motherboard choice looks good, and is just about the same cost, will change that above:
    ASRock 870 EXTREME3 AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157198

    How good is the stock cooling on the AMD Phenom II X4 955?
    Thinking mild over clocking might not be bad so cpu might still be fast enough in 2-3 years?
    Is arctic silver worth doing?
    Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007
  3. Stock cooler is pretty good. Some x4 955BE owners have managed 3.8Ghz on the stock cooler with just a small voltage increase.

    Mild as in 3.2Ghz to 3.4~3.5Ghz? Stock cooler and no AS5 required.
    Anything more probably falls into the medium range and now you can start talking about aftermarket coolers and high performance thermal compound, depending on where your definition of medium ends (maybe 3.8~4.0Ghz?)
  4. Since your friend plays Blizzard games I would suggest a Nivida GPU. I don’t know about SC2 but I do know that WoW will be better utilized with a Nivida set up. Maybe the GTX 560 $250

    World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-cataclysm-directx-11-performance,2793.html

    Benchmark Results: World Of Warcarft: Cataclysm <<<< newer benchmarks includes the 560 ti
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-gtx-560-ti-gf114,2845-12.html
  5. WR2 said:
    Stock cooler is pretty good. Some x4 955BE owners have managed 3.8Ghz on the stock cooler with just a small voltage increase.

    Mild as in 3.2Ghz to 3.4~3.5Ghz? Stock cooler and no AS5 required.
    Anything more probably falls into the medium range and now you can start talking about aftermarket coolers and high performance thermal compound, depending on where your definition of medium ends (maybe 3.8~4.0Ghz?)


    Anonymous said:
    Since your friend plays Blizzard games I would suggest a Nivida GPU. I don’t know about SC2 but I do know that WoW will be better utilized with a Nivida set up. Maybe the GTX 560 $250

    World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm--Tom's Performance Guide
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/world-of-warcraft-cataclysm-directx-11-performance,2793.html

    Benchmark Results: World Of Warcarft: Cataclysm <<<< newer benchmarks includes the 560 ti
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/nvidia-geforce-gtx-560-ti-gf114,2845-12.html


    WR2 - Thanks for the quick reply!
    Hadn't thought what I meant by mild? Overclocked at a level which the system would remain stable. 3.5Ghz seems fairly easy to hit, would it be worth the investment of say a $29 cooler/$7 for AS5 to keep the temps down prolonging the life of the cpu?

    BUT...I need to keep reminding myself this is for my friend and not me. He is not much of a computer person so it might be better left stock...

    ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro Rev.2 92mm Fluid Dynamic CPU Cooler
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186134

    l2p_iwin - Thanks for the links on graphics cards with wow, I'll check out the Nvidia, wouldn't have guessed there would be a big difference between Nvidia and Radeon.
  6. 3.5Ghz is OK with the stock cooler, if you want 3.8Ghz you need more cooling.

    The AC Freezer 7 Pro has pre-applied thermal compound to the heatsink. They use AC MX-2 which is just as good as AS5. This 92mm fan CPU cooler is the type of medium range option I was thinking about.

    A better cooler at the same price. CM Hyper 212+ has it's own thermal compound in the accessory pack.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
    There is an issue with the big 120mm fan CPU cooler fitting though.
    NewEgg Customer comments:
    Cons: The door won't swing open with the COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Heatpipe Cooler attached. It's not a huge deal it just means I have to take off the entire side panel to access that side. I usually just open the other one since both swing open.

    Other Thoughts: I had to remove both fans from the side panel because my heatsink is too big (hyper 212), but using the same screws, I was able to mount the lighted fan on the outside of the case.
  7. WR2 said:
    ...A better cooler at the same price. CM Hyper 212+ has it's own thermal compound in the accessory pack.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
    ...


    WR2 and l2p_iwin - Thanks for the thoughts and links

    After much reading the comparisons and benchmarks for cpus/gpus, wow reviews and about the new sandy bridge i5 and i7 processors, it looks like if I pushed towards the upper end of his budget he could do an i5 build and with the benefits I think he would be willing to wait under the motherboards are re-released.

    I think the i5 sandy bridge would have more longevity than the AMD and if I selected a motherboard that does SLI or crossfire then down the road he upgrade to dual graphics cards. Below I made a 2nd build and could even move up to a 6950 or consider a nvidia GTX 560, now I need to read about dual cards.

    Is $150-175 reasonable for a sli or crossfire sandy bridge motherboard, there are no prices to look at...


    BUILD 2 - i5 2500K close to maxing out budget, @ about $1130 or $1060 after rebates…

    OS - $70.00
    Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (best student discount I’ve found so far)
    CASE - $69.98 (69.99 + 9.99s/h - 10rebate)
    RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WB Black 1.0mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB Computer Case
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811156063
    DVD - $39.98 (2x drives)
    LITE-ON Black DVDRW
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106334
    CPU- $229.99
    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
    COOLER- $29.99
    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 Compatible with Intel Sandy Bridge
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
    MB - $150-175? Unknown currently
    RAM - $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=N82E16820231277
    GPU - $219+$10GC (249 - 30rebate + 10gift card)
    XFX HD-687A-ZNFC Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150506
    PS - $89.99 (109-30rebate) ? Maybe step up to a modular PS?
    CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W 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=N82E16817139006
    HD1 - $64.99
    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152185
    NETWORK - $19.99
    Rosewill RNX-N180PCe IEEE 802.3/3u, IEEE 802.11b/g, IEEE802.11n Draft 2 PCI Express Wireless Adapter Up to 300Mbps Wireless Data Rates
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166063
  8. Best answer
    m715 said:
    I think the i5 sandy bridge would have more longevity than the AMD and if I selected a motherboard that does SLI or crossfire then down the road he upgrade to dual graphics cards.
    I think so too.
    The 1155 Sandy Bridge motherboards should have an upgrade path into the next gen Ivy Bridge CPUs.
    1156/1366/AM3 motherboards don't have an upgrade path to the next gen CPUs. The AMD Bulldozer CPUs will require an AM3+ board.
  9. ASUS P8P67 and P8P67 Deluxe Intel Sandy Bridge Motherboard Review

    The Crossfire only Asus P8P67 should be around ~$160. The Crossfire or SLI Asus P8P67 PRO ~$190.
  10. Best answer selected by m715.
  11. This build is set up to add another one of those O/C gtx 560's for SLI later on if you so choose. Just add the case to it.


    http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Truepower-TP-750-BLUE-Management/dp/B001RTPMM4/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1298395469&sr=1-1 $89.99 & this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping
    Antec Truepower 23754 TP-750 BLUE LED 750-Watt PSU NVIDIA SLI Certified 80 Plus Bronze Advanced Hybrid Cable Management Power Supply

    http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=P67%20Extreme4 $152.99 @ newegg
    ASRock P67 Extreme4

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.593413 Combo Price: $251.98
    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
    COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel ...

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231427 $49.99 FREE SHIPPING
    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBXL

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827118039 $17.99 Free shipping w/ promo code EMCKHHF38, ends 2/26
    Sony Optiarc 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 CD/DVD Burner - OEM

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125363 $244.99
    GIGABYTE GV-N560OC-1GI GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

    Total: $807.83 *not including shipping, rebates, etc...


    ***Reviews/Benchmarks of that cpu (2500K)

    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/desktop-cpu-charts-2010/Gaming-Left-4-Dead,2432.html

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/sandy-bridge-core-i7-2600k-core-i5-2500k,2833.html

    http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i5-2500k-and-core-i7-2600k-review/

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4083/the-sandy-bridge-review-intel-core-i5-2600k-i5-2500k-and-core-i3-2100-tested

    ***Reviews/Benchmarks of that Asrock motherboard up above

    http://www.asrock.com/news/events/201102ex/warranty.html <----- Look for the B3 Stepping Chipset Logo/Sticker on the new boards

    http://www.madshrimps.be/articles/article/1000116#axzz1EqpvWFEN <---Review on that Asrock motherboard after the latest bios

    http://www.hardwareheaven.com/reviews/1098/pg2/asrock-extreme4-p67-and-fatal1ty-professional-p67-vs-x58-with-core-i7-950-review-asrock-p67-extreme4.html <---Review on that Asrock motherboard after the latest bios

    http://www.anandtech.com/show/4080/welcome-to-sandy-bridge-with-the-asrock-p67-extreme4 <--- Review before the latest bios...and it still stomped the Asus and Gigabyte boards :)
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