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Need suggestions on gaming system

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March 8, 2011 4:08:51 PM

I built my current system about 5 years ago. Since then I haven't followed the computer industry at all. As a result, I have no idea what parts to put into a gaming system. So, I'm looking for advice.

I have a case, monitor, and a new 600W power supply. I will need everything else. I'd like to keep the budget to $600-700.

Anyone want to offer some suggestions?

Appreciate the help.
a b 4 Gaming
March 8, 2011 4:31:30 PM

What case and PSU do you already have? What extra parts do you need to get in that budget (OS, mouse/keyboard, etc.)? When are you planning to buy? Basically, we need the information found in the guidelines from the link in my signature.

Here's a very basic, good performing gaming build:

CPU: X4 955 $140 (with $10 gift card)
Mobo: ASRock 870 Extreme4 $90
RAM: Corsair XMS3 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 9 $40 after rebate
GPU: HD 6870 $185 after rebate
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB $65 (might be cheaper elsewhere. I've seen it as low as $55 before)
PSU: XFX 650W $67 after rebate and shipping
Case: Rosewill Challenger $70 with shipping (case prices are up right now. It's usually $55 with free shipping)
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner you can find <$20

Total: $677. If you need the OS, drop the HD 6870 to the HD 6850 or even as low as the HD 5770.

I really wish the budget was about $100 more, as you could then afford an i5-2500K build. If you do scrounge up some more cash, here's what would change:

CPU: i5-2500K $229
Mobo: ASRock P67 Extreme4 $150
GPU: GTX 460 1 GB $170 after rebate

Total: $811
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March 9, 2011 12:09:36 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Next month
Budget Range: $800
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming

Parts Not Required:
Case (Lian Li ATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...)
Powersupply (Thermaltake 600W http://www.thermaltakeusa.com/Product.aspx?C=1264&ID=19...)
O/S


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Any - except non ASUS mobo
Overclocking: No
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1280x1024
_______________________________________________________

Thanks Admiral.

Looking at your build, I can take about $200 off because I have a case, PSU, hdd, and optical. Definitely makes your i5 build doable.

If I do the i5 build and can afford an additional $100, what would you upgrade? Also, I notice that you went from an AMD/ATI build to an Intel/Nvidia build - was that a function of the different price points?

Thanks.

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March 9, 2011 12:33:11 PM

with the parts you already have.. you can fit a Sandy Bridge system into your budget:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- ASUS Black 24X DVDRW: $19

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB: $65

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- GIGABYTE GA-H67A-UD3H-B3 H67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0: $140 -> if you're not overclocking - then stick with the H67 chipset and save money

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz: $210 -> again.. if you're not overclocking (and using a discrete video-card), then get the non 'K' version and save money

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 1333: $83

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
- MSI R6950-2PM2D2GD5 Radeon HD 6950 2GB: $270 (before mir) -> best video-card option yet... and you're still under budget..!

TOTAL: $787 (before rebates)

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a b 4 Gaming
March 9, 2011 1:06:38 PM

^Not a great build. You've got an H67 chipset and a CPU that can't be overclocked, despite having a great GPU. While overclocking may not be desired by the OP, the H67's features are also useless. Considering that P67 boards aren't much more expensive (dual PCIe 2.0 8x/8x ones start at $150), and the "K" version is only $19 more, there is no reason not to spend the little extra for the option. Besides, overclocking the Sandy Bridge CPUs is so easy, you should always at least consider having the option. You may not want to overclock now, but it's a good option to have when you want to tinker a little.

Also, having 8 GB in a gaming build isn't necessary. Not only that, but those are slower sticks. If I was getting a 2x4 GB kit, I'd get this Patriot 2x4 GB 1600 mhz CL 9 for $80 with promo code. Or one of G.Skill's Ripjaws or Ripjaws X sets at $100.

The change from ATI to nVidia is based entirely on the budget for the GPU. The switch from AMD to Intel is due to the budget and the fact that the new Sandy Bridge CPUs offer amazing performance.

As for having the extra cash, I'd use what's needed on the i5-2500K and P67 board I mentioned. The LGA1155 boards are coming out slowly. MSI's already got several available on Newegg. If I had to buy a LGA1155 board now, I'd pick the $180 one.

The card I'd choose to fill out the build is the HD 6950 2 GB as well. You can flash the BIOS and make it an HD 6970.

So here's the full build (most links are above):

CPU: i5-2500K
Mobo: ASRock P67 Extreme4
RAM: Patriot 2x4 GB 1600 mhz CL 9. I know I said 8 GB isn't necessary, but it fits in the budget and there isn't anywhere else to spend that extra $40...
GPU: HD 6950 2 GB (the MSI one wasupmike linked to)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner you can find

That total is $789 after rebate.

I included a Crossfire enabled board, but the 600W Thermaltake (which isn't good quality) won't be able to handle that. You should consider upgrading that sometime. I'd suggest either Corsair's 750W (non-modular, $80 after rebate) or XFX's 750W (modular, higher efficiency, $106 after rebate and shipping).
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March 9, 2011 2:58:04 PM

MadAdmiral said:
^Not a great build. You've got an H67 chipset and a CPU that can't be overclocked, despite having a great GPU. While overclocking may not be desired by the OP, the H67's features are also useless. Considering that P67 boards aren't much more expensive (dual PCIe 2.0 8x/8x ones start at $150), and the "K" version is only $19 more, there is no reason not to spend the little extra for the option. Besides, overclocking the Sandy Bridge CPUs is so easy, you should always at least consider having the option. You may not want to overclock now, but it's a good option to have when you want to tinker a little.

Also, having 8 GB in a gaming build isn't necessary. Not only that, but those are slower sticks. If I was getting a 2x4 GB kit, I'd get this Patriot 2x4 GB 1600 mhz CL 9 for $80 with promo code. Or one of G.Skill's Ripjaws or Ripjaws X sets at $100.

The change from ATI to nVidia is based entirely on the budget for the GPU. The switch from AMD to Intel is due to the budget and the fact that the new Sandy Bridge CPUs offer amazing performance.

As for having the extra cash, I'd use what's needed on the i5-2500K and P67 board I mentioned. The LGA1155 boards are coming out slowly. MSI's already got several available on Newegg. If I had to buy a LGA1155 board now, I'd pick the $180 one.

The card I'd choose to fill out the build is the HD 6950 2 GB as well. You can flash the BIOS and make it an HD 6970.

So here's the full build (most links are above):

CPU: i5-2500K
Mobo: ASRock P67 Extreme4
RAM: Patriot 2x4 GB 1600 mhz CL 9. I know I said 8 GB isn't necessary, but it fits in the budget and there isn't anywhere else to spend that extra $40...
GPU: HD 6950 2 GB (the MSI one wasupmike linked to)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1 TB
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner you can find

That total is $789 after rebate.

I included a Crossfire enabled board, but the 600W Thermaltake (which isn't good quality) won't be able to handle that. You should consider upgrading that sometime. I'd suggest either Corsair's 750W (non-modular, $80 after rebate) or XFX's 750W (modular, higher efficiency, $106 after rebate and shipping).



yes, (you) would choose the P67/K series CPU... and (I) would too... but the OP clearly stated NO to overclocking in the 'request form'... so we have to help him choose the best options for his money. also he's using a discrete video-card obviously... so the better integrated graphics of the K series is also useless to him as well. -> so a non-K series /w an H67 motherboard = enough saved money -> which can go towards a 'higher-level' graphics card for example...

as for the 8GB of RAM... true, you won't (need) more than 4GB for gaming... however, having said that... RAM prices have never been better... good time to take advantage and occupy only 2 slots now when you build it... and already have the 8GB... which will be the new 'standard' anyways soon enough. as for (faster) RAM, unless you're benchmarking - you won't see any real-world difference in performance at all. however, you can see real-world performance increase with (more) RAM. here's some info of benefits of more than 4GB of RAM: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/ram-memory-upgrade,...

so if you're sure you're not going to manually overclock your CPU (remember - Intel has their Turbo Boost for all those who don't overclock)... save the bucks and put it towards something else... if you are going to, or may in the future... ya, get the P67 /w a K series CPU

+1^ on flashing the BIOS of the R6950 to a R6970 (to the OP -> you'll be able to find plenty of online help on doing this... it's very simple to do)
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a b 4 Gaming
March 9, 2011 3:09:03 PM

I understand that the OP doesn't want to overclock. However, if the main benefit of the H67 chipset, the integrated graphics, isn't going to be used, you might as well get the P67 and leave the option open. Given that the cost of doing so is negligible ($25 for both the P67 board and the upgrade to a "K" CPU), and the upgrade is still within budget, the potential performance gains far surpass the cost.
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March 9, 2011 3:22:32 PM

the average difference in price between the P67 motherboards and their H67 counterparts seem to be ~$40... add another $20 for the i5-2500K over the non-K... and you have a $60 price difference (not $25)

$60 in a tight budget can be used for LOTS of other beneficial stuff... So again, if you're certain no overclocking... no use whatsoever in wasting money towards options you'll never use (way too many people fall for that)

and again... if you are going to overclock (and only if you are - most people don't)... then those 60 bucks will most definitely be well spent towards the P67/K...
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a b 4 Gaming
March 9, 2011 4:24:00 PM

^You can't really make a price comparision without a lot of boards released right now. As far as I've looked, the only dual PCIe 2.0 slot board for sale on Newegg right now is MSI's P67A-GD65, and it's $180. Before the boards were pulled, there were several similar models for less, namely the ASRock P67 Extreme4.

The $25 I got is from the P67 board I recommended, which was $150 before the revision, and it's likely to be $150 after the revision, and the $140 Gigabyte H67 board you picked. That's $10. The CPU is $19 more, so I guess $30 would be closer to the guess. I'll even let you throw another $5-10 on top of that in case the price of the ASRock is a little higher.

Even then, the difference is at most $40. That's actually not a lot to throw at a potential improvement eslewhere that would have a significant a difference. I'll even throw in the extra $11 I had in left in the budget to make the total $51.

You're not going to be able to get the next largest GPU with that, as the step up from the HD 6950 2 GB ($270 before $25 rebate) is the GTX 580 ($495 before $25), since the 6950 2 GB is really equal to a 6970. So you'd need another $174 to get a better GPU.

The $40 is the difference between a 2x2 GB kit of RAM and a 2x4 GB kit, but I've already included 8 GB of RAM (despite gamers not needing more than 4 GB). Another $40 would buy a 2x2 GB kit, but that wouldn't work well with the 2x4 GB that's already in there. So the $40 can't be spent here, as you'd need another $29 over budget to afford a second 2x4 GB kit, which would also just be a silly waste of money.

You could throw in another HDD, but the cheapest, best choices, the Samsung Spinpoint F4 320 GB and F3 500 GB, are both around $50. That's under the $51, but it won't get you much besides more storage space. The F4 is a little faster than the F3s, but it's not worth $50.

After that, the only thing that might need an upgrade/replacement is the PSU. The budget for the added part would be the $51 that's left in the budget. That's not enough to get a quality 750W unit, which you would need to Crossfire the 6950 2 GB. A good 750W unit runs at least $90. It wouldn't even buy a high quality 650W unit (XFX's is the cheapest high quality one, and it's $65 after rebate).

The only other upgrade that's could be beneficial is going to the i7-2600, and that's a $100 jump. Again, that's out of budget.

Something that would be in budget is an aftermarket heatsink, such as the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus ($30) or the Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B ($40). However, you don't need a HSF if you're not overclocking, so it'd be pointless to buy one with the i5-2500/H67 setup.

So the choices are really between pocketing the $40 and never using the H67 primary feature, or using the $40 (while still staying in budget) and getting a potential performance boost. I'd go with the choice that gives me options, especially since OCing the i5-2500K is extremely easy and will give you massive performance gains.
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March 9, 2011 4:26:48 PM

Does overclocking a CPU give any added performance when it comes to gaming? Isn't most of the processing done by the GPU?
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March 9, 2011 4:31:08 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Something that would be $40 is an aftermarket heatsink, such as the Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus ($30) or the Scythe Mugen 2 Rev. B ($40). However, you don't need a HSF if you're not overclocking, so it'd be pointless to buy one with the i5-2500/H67 setup.


I meant to ask about this - you don't need a heatsink if you don't o/c?
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a b 4 Gaming
March 9, 2011 4:35:42 PM

Overclocking can add a lot of performance, depending on the game, settings, GPU and such. Check out AnandTech's reviews of various CPUs to see what you get from it.

EDIT: They usually have one, but I couldn't find it. Here's one from HardOCP instead. The resolutions they use are low, as it creates the biggest visual difference in the graphs. You can generally expect to get a 10-25% increase in performance by overclocking. The testing also used a GTX 470 as the GPU, which would be less powerful than the 6970, so the perfomance gains from overclocking would drop off a little bit.

You always need a heatsink for the CPU. However, most CPUs come with a "stock" fan included. It's generally not great, but it gets the job done. There are other HSFs out there that you can add later, hence the "aftermarket". You don't need an aftermarket heatsink if you're not overclocking. You also don't need an aftermarket heatsink if you're only slightly overclocking. So basically, until you decide to apply a significant overclock, you can put off buying a decent heatsink.
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