Advice on Starcraft 2 build

Hello! Could you please advise me on a budget "gaming" system? I have hardware experience, but am not familiar with new technologies and their capabilities/backwards-compatibility.

Approximate Purchase Date: This week

Budget Range: <$350 after rebates (but I welcome your advice on cutting costs, based on my expressed needs)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Starcraft 2 (smooth 4v4 games on High settings) while running Skype, watching HD movies (but not encoding/ripping them), basic school stuff (MS Office, Chrome)

Parts Not Required:
- all peripherals including monitor & speakers
- case (mid-size)
- OS
- my PSU, if you think I can keep it ( Antec Earthwatts 500W)
- my video card. I'll test my new rig with my old video card and see what kind of performance I get. I figure I can always upgrade the video card later (probably to the suggested GTX 460 as suggested by batuchka). Current card ( EVGA GeForce 7800GT, 256MB, 256-bit GDDR3 PCI-E (256-P2-N516-RX)

Preferred Website for Parts: newegg.com

Country of Origin: USA (California)

Parts Preferences: none

Overclocking: Yes, if relatively simple. I've been reading in newegg reviews that some mobo's are really easy to OC (i.e. flipping a switch, or adjusting settings from within Windows, even.). If you could recommend a mobo that you have experience with, that'd be great.

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

Additional Comments: This CPU seemed like a good start, but I'm not sure. I do like the price, as it's ~$40 cheaper than the i3-550 currently being sold on newegg. AMD Phenom II X2 555 Black Edition Callisto 3.2GHz (2 x 512KB L2 Cache, 6MB L3 Cache, 80W, Socket AM3 Dual-Core .

Also, I don't plan on playing any other games in the future besides SC2, so this is a "one-and-done" build.

Thanks for your help!
15 answers Last reply
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  1. I forgot to add that I don't need any new hard drives. I currently have 5 SATA drives + 1 IDE DVD drive, all of which I plan on keepin :)
  2. With your capable EA500, this is SLI capable so with single GTX 460 it would be fine but if u do plan to SLI in future upgrade ya PSU hehe

    $425AR
  3. Thanks for the feedback, batuchka.

    I don't need a case (edited the original post), so that should bring the total figure down to $415, but it's still over my $350 budget.

    I notice you suggested the Phenom 2 955. I have read that Starcraft 2 can't take advantage of more than 2 cores. Since my other uses will be basic stuff like Word/Excel/Chrome/music, I think dual core should be fine (i.e. Phenom 2 555). What do you guys think?
  4. Well if u plan to play more games i would actually go with a min of AthlonII X3 for best results so if u super tight for $$ replace that 955BE for
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103872
  5. Oh, I see. I don't plan on playing any other games besides Starcraft 2. I tried to keep myself from playing it, but I gave in after several months. And I really feel guilty about it ^_^ So aside from SC2, I'm going to try my best to be a good student.

    So yeah, I guess I should call this a "one-and-done" build.
  6. My suggestion:

    5770
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338&cm_re=5770-_-14-161-338-_-Product

    Athlon II X3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103886

    ASUS M4A77TD AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131603

    Ram:
    Sign up for new eggs email list and wait for some good 2x2 ram to go on sale. 1333 or 1600 Should be ~$40

    Can you salvage a DVD drive?


    Around $285 and you can rock out on some SC@
  7. flatbaler87 said:
    My suggestion:

    5770
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338&cm_re=5770-_-14-161-338-_-Product

    Athlon II X3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103886

    ASUS M4A77TD AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131603

    Ram:
    Sign up for new eggs email list and wait for some good 2x2 ram to go on sale. 1333 or 1600 Should be ~$40

    Can you salvage a DVD drive?


    Around $285 and you can rock out on some SC@



    Cool, thanks for the suggestions. Everyone seems to be suggesting the Athlon X3 over the Phenom X2. As I mentioned above, SC2 doesn't recognize/take advantage of the 3rd core, so I don't see a need for the 3rd core. Since Phenom is newer technology, and it's got 6mb L3 cache (Athlon doesn't have L3, but it's L1 & L2 specs are the same as the Phenom's), I am inclined to spend the extra $10 because I expect to get better performance in-game. Or am I totally mistaken here? Will L3 cache not matter that much?
  8. flatbaler87 said:
    My suggestion:

    5770
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338&cm_re=5770-_-14-161-338-_-Product

    Athlon II X3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103886

    ASUS M4A77TD AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131603

    Ram:
    Sign up for new eggs email list and wait for some good 2x2 ram to go on sale. 1333 or 1600 Should be ~$40

    Can you salvage a DVD drive?


    Around $285 and you can rock out on some SC@



    And yes, I can salvage the DVD drive. And I've signed up for newegg's email list, thanks ^_^
  9. I just recently built a couple of everyday use PC's with no intentions of gaming. I had someone contact me about purchasing one for starcraft 2. I d/l the demo on both and it ran great on low and medium settings. High was ok but could notice the onboard graphics starting to buckle and on ultra it got ugly. Both PC's had a athlon II x3 435 Oc'd to 3.2GHz on the stock cooler. One had HD 4290 and the other HD 4250 onboard graphic mobos. Had a earthwatts 380 & 500 in the two and both worked fine. With that in mind your current graphics card and PSU should be fine for now. From what I read SC2 is CPU heavy and a faster core clock helps FPS as stated here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainment-starcraft-ii-benchmark,2611-9.html You are correct that dual cores work just fine for SC2 so the phenom X2 555 should be plenty and maybe you could get lucky and unlock a core or 2.
  10. I really do not know if the Phenom II X 2 would be better than the Athlon II X3.

    I have used the Athlon II X3 & 5770 with SC2 and it ran at max graphics no lag at 2v2 max food games.

    The Athlon II x3 was a solid CPU for me.

    Also in all the Toms Hardware budget builds they suggest the Athlon II X3.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-overclocking-processor-recommendation,2866-2.html
  11. flatbaler87 said:
    I really do not know if the Phenom II X 2 would be better than the Athlon II X3.

    I have used the Athlon II X3 & 5770 with SC2 and it ran at max graphics no lag at 2v2 max food games.

    The Athlon II x3 was a solid CPU for me.

    Also in all the Toms Hardware budget builds they suggest the Athlon II X3.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-overclocking-processor-recommendation,2866-2.html


    Cool. I ordered the Athlon X3 450! I was able to find a coupon code for Office Depot too, so I pulled the trigger. Thanks for all your feedback thus far.

    Since this CPU sounds like it'll be able to handle max graphics/max food 2v2, I guess I don't need to worry about overclocking & buying thermal paste/CPU cooler, right? Thoughts?
  12. flatbaler87 said:
    My suggestion:

    5770
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161338&cm_re=5770-_-14-161-338-_-Product

    Athlon II X3
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103886

    ASUS M4A77TD AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131603

    Ram:
    Sign up for new eggs email list and wait for some good 2x2 ram to go on sale. 1333 or 1600 Should be ~$40

    Can you salvage a DVD drive?


    Around $285 and you can rock out on some SC@


    Darn, the mobo you suggested has a stock memory standard of 1066, and 1333 & 1600 are both listed as requiring OC'ing. Err, I don't have much experience with overclocking. Flatbaler87, what was your work-around like? Were BIOS changes straightforward? Did you have to change voltage settings or anything like that?
  13. When I had my Athlon II X3 & 5770 rig I was using this mobo http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131402

    Thanks for pointing out the memory standard issue! I was gonna buy that mobo for my new 5870 setup...

    Anyways I'm probably going to switch to this mobo
    ASRock M3A770DE AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157176

    It was used in this $500 build. They seemed to like it.
    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/build-a-pc-overclock-athlon-ii-x3,2811-3.html

    hope that helps!
  14. The Asus board accepts 1333 standard the O.C. is a misprint on the newegg page the manufacturers page has is right if I'm not mistaken.
  15. imaurer

    You are correct!

    http://usa.asus.com/product.aspx?P_ID=GRrtD7enpMkaVWV1

    4 x DIMM, Max. 16 GB, DDR3 1800(O.C.)/1600(O.C.)/1333/1066 ECC,Non-ECC,Un-buffered Memory
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