New gaming PC for Grandchildren

Approximate Purchase Date: April 2011

Budget Range: $1200-$1500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Grandchildren gaming (Need for Speed, Spiderman, Portal) and surfing the Internet

Parts Not Required: Need everything

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: None

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: I need advice on the resolution and monitor I would need to run the games (Need for Speed, Spiderman, Portal)

Additional Comments: This is my first build. I have listed two options below, one for ATX and one for micro ATX. Also, I would like a quiet PC.

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500k LGA 1155

MOBO: Asus P8P67 Pro LGA 1155 STX Motherboard (B3 Revision)

Video: Asus GeForce GTX 560 Ti

RAM: Gskill Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2X4) DDR3-1600 Dual Channel Memory

SDD: Intel 510 Series (Elm Crest) 250 GB SATA III

Optical: LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support

Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus


Case: Thermaltake Armor A60 Gaming Mid-Tower Chassis

Monitor: ASUS VH238H Black 23" Full HD HDMI LED Backlight LCD Monitor w/Speakers

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit Edition

OPTION 2 - I'm using micro ATX since I don't seem to need much space. The same components above with the following exceptions:

MOBO: Asus P8P67-M Pro LGA 1155 STX Motherboard (B3 Revision)

Cooler: COOLER MASTER GeminII S RR-CCH-PBU1-GP 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler (Not sure if hyper 212 plus will fit in micro atx case)

Case: Lian Li PC-A04B Black Aluminum Micro ATX Mini Tower Computer Case


All advice will be greatly appreciated. I have racked my brain doing research on this site and I need help at this point to see if my components will all work together. Thank you.
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  1. Hello jmoran567;

    A $615 Intel 510 250GB is probably overly extravagant.
    Corsair Performance 3 64GB SATA III SSD $175
    and a WD Caviar Blue 500GB HDD $40 would be
    a nice balance between performance and being budget friendly.

    A 1920x1080 resolution monitor and a GTX 560 Ti or Radeon HD 6950 is an excellent match for high performance gaming.
    THG: Best Graphics Cards For the Money: March 2011 The latest edition of the THG recommendations suggests a HD 6950 @ the $250 price point:
    XFX Radeon HD 6950 1GB Video Card $255 & $20 rebate
  2. Thanks for the tip on the Radeon HD 6950. I will definitely swap the 560 ti out. You also make a great point on the drive. Your recommendation seems to be the best of both worlds. By the way, do you see any problem if I go the micro ATX route? Thanks.
  3. Micro-ATX and a single video card isn't a problem in a well ventilated case.
    I've been looking over the other uATX cases since your first choice is currently out of stock.
  4. Is this going to be a build-it-together project?
  5. Yes. The oldest of the bunch is 10 years old. I told him I was going to build a gaming PC for them when they come to visit and he immediately asked if he could help me build it. He is so excited, and so am I. It should be fun! Thanks again for helping me.
  6. It's more fun with 'help', no doubt about that.
    While we're looking for the options in cases and other good deals some background tips on building.

    Here is a Step-by-Step Guide to Building a PC

    Look over the forum's "System won't boot" checklist to see some of the common build errors and how to avoid them.

    -> The usual advice; read the manual / install guide; look at the parts, read the manual again and if everything makes sense and looks right - then go ahead with the install.

    While you're waiting you can download the online version of the motherboard manual and start getting familiar with it. Same for the other parts you want to order if they have install guides or manuals available.
  7. Excellent advice. I will print out some of that documentation and begin reading tonight. I already printed and reviewed the manuals for the p8p67 Pro and p8p67-M Pro. Just trying to decide which one would suit my needs better. With your advice, I should have a good little library for when my actual build comes.
  8. I'd recommend that you use the money you save by not buying the Intel SSD to perhaps buy a GTX 570 or the ASUS ENGTX560Ti DirectCU II. The ASUS card is a factory overclocked model, which delivers performance near that of a GTX 570, but at a far lower price point.

    If you want to stick with the 6950, I'd recommend flashing it to a 6970 using this easy guide. Since the 6950 has dual BIOS, you aren't really running any risk!
  9. Thanks for the input PudgyChicken. The ASUS ENGTX560Ti DirectCU II was on my original list. However, after reading the article that WR2 pointed out (THG: Best Graphics Cards For the Money: March 2011), I think I'll give the 6950 a try. Thanks for pointing out the ability to upgrade it. I will keep that in my pocket for now. Thanks again.
  10. I've been through a bunch of micro-ATX tower and cube tube type cases looking for something that would be:
    1. Easy to work inside (& not cause knuckle busting bad word usage)
    2. Quiet with adequate cooling for a high performance gaming setup
    3. Looks like a 'high performance gaming PC'

    So far I haven't found anything that covers all 3. LIAN LI PC-A04B has the first two covered I do believe.

    For the full size case I'm suggesting a change to the Cooler Master Storm Scout $90 & free shipping
    Customer feedback @ NewEgg confirm its a quiet case. & CM Storm Scout review
    While it's $10 more the overall cost will be less than the Armor A60 which has that $20 shipping charge.
    CM Storm Scout has all 3 criteria covered nicely. And maybe a bonus point for #3.

    Since you can get extra bonus points for improving #3 I'm also suggesting a fan change on the CM Hyper 212+.
    It 'matchs' the red theme of the Scout, spec'd to run quieter and move more air. CM website info.
  11. I really like the looks of the Storm Scout, I know the kid's will absolutely love it. I didn't realize that you can change the fan on the Hyper 212+, but I agree that would be a nice touch. Is it as simple as unscrewing the original fan and replacing with the new one? Again, thanks for your assistance WR2.
  12. I've printed the review of the Storm Scout for reading in detail tonight. I briefly looked it over and it was enough to replace the Thermaltake in my newegg shopping cart! Thanks for the pointer to the review.
  13. A note about the monitor and it's $10 off special expiring tomorrow. No reason not to jump on that bargain.
    100% 4&5 'egg' rating from NewEgg owners. That might be the highest rating I've seen.

    Fan change is easy. The kit arrives without the fan attached. The accessory pack comes with two fan clip mounts - those black rails on the left and right side in the picture. You screw the mount to the fan and then you can clip the fan to the heat sink itself.

  14. Thanks for the heads up on the monitor special WR2. I went ahead and pulled the trigger for $179.99 at Newegg. I've added the fan instructions to my three ring binder with the other documentation you have pointed out to me. I should be in good shape when time comes to build.
  15. You don't happen by chance to live near a MicroCenter store?

    Here is a combo deal on the CM Storm Scout and Windows 7 - saves $5

    As you get ready to make the purchases you can check for other combos and specials.

    Last time we saw all the P67 motherboards available the prices looked like this:
    ASUS P8P67-M $150
    ASUS P8P67 PRO $190
    Either one will work well in the Storm Scout case.

    The SSD recommendation is a 'luxury item' and not essential to making
    the system really excellent @ gaming.

    Suggestions for the peripheral devices:
    A basic keyboard and mouse would be an option. Your monitor choice has basic speaker function as well.

    Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Keyboard $53
    Microsoft SideWinder X3 Black 5 Buttons USB Wired Laser Mouse $40
    Logitech G110 Black USB Wired LED Backlighting Gaming Keyboard $65
    Logitech MX 518 Gaming Mouse $37

    Logitech F310 Gamepad $25

    Creative Inspire T3130 2.1 Speakers $50

    RAZER ORCA 3.5mm Circumaural Headphone $50

    THRUSTMASTER 2960697 Ferrari GT Experience Racing Wheel $50
  16. A wr2 can u take a look at my post and give me some good suggestions
  17. WR2 said:
    You don't happen by chance to live near a MicroCenter store?

    Here is a combo deal on the CM Storm Scout and Windows 7 - saves $5

    As you get ready to make the purchases you can check for other combos and specials.

    Last time we saw all the P67 motherboards available the prices looked like this:
    ASUS P8P67-M $150
    ASUS P8P67 PRO $190
    Either one will work well in the Storm Scout case.

    The SSD recommendation is a 'luxury item' and not essential to making
    the system really excellent @ gaming.

    Suggestions for the peripheral devices:
    A basic keyboard and mouse would be an option. Your monitor choice has basic speaker function as well.

    Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Keyboard $53
    Microsoft SideWinder X3 Black 5 Buttons USB Wired Laser Mouse $40
    Logitech G110 Black USB Wired LED Backlighting Gaming Keyboard $65
    Logitech MX 518 Gaming Mouse $37

    Logitech F310 Gamepad $25

    Creative Inspire T3130 2.1 Speakers $50

    RAZER ORCA 3.5mm Circumaural Headphone $50

    THRUSTMASTER 2960697 Ferrari GT Experience Racing Wheel $50

    I live about an hour from the Micro Center in Rockville, MD. I went there a few weeks back to see an in-store clinic on "Building your own PC". It was OK, but very superficial. Do you recommend them for some of my components over Newegg? Also, thanks for the great list of peripherals, I completely forgot about those. Do you have an opinion on the Microsoft Xbox 360 controller versus the Logitech F310 Gamepad and Thrustmaster Racing Wheel? I'm not sure what I really need, I'm starting out with Need for Speed Shift 2 Unleashed, Portal 2, and Microsoft Flight. Which controllers, keyboard, mouse would you choose? Thanks again.
  18. Xbox 360 gamepad = Logitech F310 Gamepad, either one will be fine. If you already have the 360 gamepad you have all you actually need for game controllers. And the basic keyboard/mouse are always a workable option. The 'game gear' is usually a little tougher for the extra pounding they can take.

    I personally would have a hard time using MS FSX or MS Flight without a joystick controller but I've used the gamepad and they do work for those SIM type games. If one of the kids shows a specialized interest in a game over a long period you might want to think about a specialized game controller at that point.

    MicroCenter can have some killer deals - maybe not enough for a special trip but if you happen to be down that way it's worth checking to see what's available.
    One of the other forum members picked up a i5-2500k for a outstanding price of 179.99 and got an Asus P67 Sabertooth motherboard last night.
  19. Hello WR2. I've made some real progress since you have been helping me.

    1. Purchased monitor (Asus special coupon offer).
    2. Purchased case (Scout with Windows 7 combo deal).
    3. Purchased initial games on preorder: Need for Speed Shift2 Unleashed and Portal 2. Waiting for more info on release of Microsoft Flight.
    4. Purchased Microsoft Xbox 360 controller, Microsoft Sidewinder X4 keyboard, Microsoft Sidewinder X3 mouse. I'll decide on more specialized controllers after gauging kid's interest, as you suggested.
    5. Decided on combo ssd and hdd (Corsair and WD) over Intel 510 SSD.

    I still need to pull the trigger on CPU (i5 2500k), ssd and hdd, HFX 6950 video card, Gskill 8gb RAM, Lite-On DVD writer, cooler, and PSU.

    Still undecided on which motherboard is best fit, p8p67 Pro or p8p67-M pro. I need to read manuals some more or find some direct comparison. Also, I'm not certain on the power supply. Do you think I should look at Silent Pro Gold series or stick with Silent Pro M, or maybe consider Seasonic? Is the 600W sufficient?
    As always, your experience, time, and effort are really appreciated!
  20. Not trying to steal WR2's thunder, but I would recommend going with a 650-750 watt Seasonic, Corsair, Antec Earthwatts, or possibly the XFX:|17-151-088^17-151-088-TS%2C17-207-009^17-207-009-TS%2C17-139-021^17-139-021-TS%2C17-371-015^17-371-015-S01

    I would go for the 750watt just for the additional headroom, but the 650Watt Antec would also work just fine!

    A good power supply is the heart of your system. It's the only part that should it fail, can take out all of your other components.
    Never go for a no-name unit!
  21. Thanks for the input clarkjd. The power supply and the motherboard are my last two main decisions. Thanks for the product comparison link, I will do some reading on that.
  22. With the help I've received so far, my shopping cart at Newegg is almost complete. I've added the items mentioned in my last post and was able to get some instant savings, a $20.00 mail-in rebate on the video card, a nice combo deal on the case and OS, and a free usb flash drive. Just need to decide on the Power Supply and the motherboard. Many thanks!
  23. PSU =

    MB = Do you plan to crossfire/sli in the future?
  24. Hi christiangordo. The initial games are Need for Speed-Shift 2 Unleashed, Portal 2, and Microsoft Flight. I am not sure if I will need crossfire/sli at this point. What would determine if I would need that feature? Thanks for you reply.
  25. What model of SSD did you decide on?
  26. The PSU requirement for a system with a single HD 6950 is an 'average' 500W PSU. Bumping up the size lets the PSU keep running in it's quieter fan zone.

    That 'single HD 6950' is a key decision point. There are two upgrade paths to keep a gaming system fresh.
    Once is to replace the video card about every two years. That XFX 'double lifetime warranty' covers you and the cards next owner if you resell it - a large benefit at upgrade time. ASUS P8P67-M is ideal for this method.
    The 2nd method to upgrading is adding a 2nd video card (CrossfireX for AMD/ATI cards or SLI for Nvidia cards). The ASUS P8P67 PRO is ideal for this method. ASUS P8P67-M can also do CrossfireX (but not SLI) at a slight disadvantage (x16/x4) to the PRO (x8/x8).

    For top performance on a 1920x1080 monitor some games do require more graphics power than a mid-range graphics card can pump out IF you want to keep all the 'eye candy' graphics options turned way up. Turn down the graphics options till the game runs well is the single card solution. Adding a second card is the 'enthusiast' gamer's method of coping with the more demanding games.

    A single HD 6950 video card PSU in the 600~650W range: You picked a good 600W PSU in the CM Silent Pro M600 review: Coolermaster Silent Pro M600 @ JonnyGuru
    The Silent Pro M series is a couple years old now and Im looking for other good options in that same general range.

    Dual HD 6950 video cards PSU in the 750W range: XFX Black Edition P1-750B-CAG9 750W ATX12V v2.2 / ESP12V v2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply $130 & $30 rebate review: XFX XXX 750W PSU @ JonnyGuru
  27. I decided to take your advice:

    "Corsair Performance 3 64GB SATA III SSD $175 and a WD Caviar Blue 500GB HDD $40 would be a nice balance between performance and being budget friendly."

    I think that makes more sense than the original Intel I had in mind. Now, I can install OS to the SSD and I guess the programs and data to the HDD.

    If I may impose further, what are your thoughts at this point regarding the motherboard(P8P67 Pro vs P8P67-M Pro) and the PSU (Cooler Master vs SeaSonic)? It's 69.99 versus 139.99, but quality and future crossfire/sli may be an issue? I don't know if I will need crossfire/sli. The links for the two are below.

    COOLER MASTER Silent Pro M600 RS-600-AMBA-D3 600W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80


    I did have a question regarding the motherboard. I believe the P8P67 Pro has usb 3.0 connections for the front panel. Would I need some type of adapter to make them available on the front of the Scout case?
  28. SeaSonic S12II 620 Bronze 620W is the only 600-650W PSU that I liked a bit better than then CM 600. And the shipping fee takes it to within $10 of the XFX 750.
    All the other excellent choices I looked at were too close in price to the XFX 750 to not recommend that instead.
  29. Review: Seasonic X-650 650W @ JonnyGuru is a really excellent PSU.
    It's got almost identical review scores as that XFX 750W which has a bit more power and costs less.
  30. Good choice on the SSD/HDD. ;) When you said 'combo' I went looking for a NewEgg combo deal and ended up confusing myself.

    I'll try and find out a good SSD install & tweak guide. My suggestion is use only the SSD at first. Plug it into the first SATA 6GB/s port and configure that port to ACHI in the motherboard BIOS. Install Windows 7 there. Then attach the WD HDD.
    Your SSD will have enough room for the OS, a couple of your favorite, frequently used programs and a couple 'games de jour' (depending on the size of the game of course).

    I thought for sure there would be someone out with a USB 3.0 front panel adapter by now.
    But all the 'usual sources' including the specialized case mod sites like and don't have any. Looks like a need going unmet as yet. More likely just an indication that USB 3.0 hasn't hit the main stream yet.
    Since the all motherboards you're thinking of have USB 3.0 on the back panel I think you can set this aside for a 'rainy day project' next year.$S640W$
  31. Way to go WR2! You've given me some more excellent advice. First, a good explanation of the upgrade path to keep a gaming system fresh. That cleared things up for me on the crossfire/sli issue. I may want to reserve the right to add a second video card. Therefore, I think I will choose the P8P67 Pro as my motherboard, as soon as they become available.

    Second, I loved the review of the Seasonic X-650 650W @ JonnyGuru that you pointed me too, but I don't know if it has enough power to potentially run two video cards. Do you think I should go with the XFX Black Edition P1-750B-CAG9 750W which also got a great review at XFX XXX 750W PSU @ JonnyGuru?

    Thanks for the info on the SSD install. I printed those pointers out for my build manual. It would be great if you find a good install and tweak guide to assist me. Also, thanks for the info on the USB front panel adapter question.

    Finally, down to one last question on which power supply :)
  32. Also, I just noticed the XFX has an additional $20 mail-in rebate bringing it's price down to $99.
  33. Best answer
    To support the option of 2x video cards the SS X650W PSU has a rating of 54Amps of +12volts. The XFX model is rated for 62Amps +12volts.
    That power rating, the price difference and the equal reviews points at the XFX.

    We haven't talked about the CPU upgrade path. It should be very good. That i5 2500K CPU can be easily overclocked to around 4.2~4.5Ghz. Maybe around the time you need a video card upgrade. Beyond that it should also take one of the next gen Ivy Bridge CPUs - maybe out there about three-four years from now.
  34. Great, I was leaning toward the XFX for the price/performance. I printed the review for some light reading tonight. Thanks for pointing out the upgrade path for the CPU. I have read a bit about over-clocking, but I'm not quite sure how to go about it with the P8P67 Pro motherboard I selected. Maybe I can find some information on that. Also, curious about how to connect the internal USB 3.0 ports to the front panel. Like you said, a good rainy day project.

    Just wanted to thank you again for the tremendous amount of help you provided. I never expected I would receive this kind of helpful assistance. This site has been a Godsend on my quest to build my first PC. :)
  35. Best answer selected by jmoran567.
  36. I haven't found any tweak guides I really like yet.
    The good news is that you don't need to do any tweaking right away. For a few weeks or months, even.

    The Corsair forum has a FAQ on SSDs:
    First and fourth cover install and Corsair's point of view on tweaking.
    1st. ACHI set in BIOS after first boot, before OS install. Window 7 will 'recognize' the SSD and should do some basic tweaks itself during install.
    You're good to go at this point. Nothing more needs doing right away.

    4th. Corsair is careful to say "No settings within your operating system need to be adjusted for a Corsair SSD drive to run at optimal performance"
    Which is not the same thing as saying there aren't some tweaks that will make Windows run better. Or reduce the write cycles on the SSD which is what will determine it's lifespan. The usual recommended tweaks aid there.

    Two guides that I thought were OK. And they lay out the areas where tweaks are suggested.
    Not worth printing out yet IMO, just for a quick review to get familiar with the idea for a later project.
  37. Thanks for the follow-up. I'll definitely give this information a read.

    For an update on my build, I've ordered everything except the power supply and motherboard. I figured I'd order the two together when the board becomes available. I received the monitor today, the rest is in transit. I'm thinking I will unbox the components, read over the instructions, and then schedule some time with my son and Grandson to come over to assemble the parts. Hopefully, it will go a little smoother that way. I'm really looking forward to this, I think it will be challenging but I plan to keep a positive attitude when we encounter any setbacks. I have a nice binder going with much of the information you pointed out to me.
  38. To help maintain that positive attitude you're doing the right thing by being well prepared.
    Part of that should also be knowing not to panic if you first push the power button and nothing happens. 'Cause it does happen.
    I know you'll have followed the guides and have a good understanding of the common problems and how to avoid them.

    No doubt you've noticed a fair number of 'Help' topics relating to build problems. (not everyone knows about that build or troubleshooting guide, for example)

    Having a backup 'plan b' will take a lot of stress off if that does happen. Lots of time the forum here is a part of plan A ver 1.1.
    After you've checked everything over and you've reached the point where you might have started to panic - pull out that plan b. Find a local computer shop and figure out where they are and what the hours are. If you can find out anything out the shop online, do so. Or call them explain what you plan and see if maybe they'll give you a quote on how much it would cost to troubleshoot a problem you can fix yourself. They usually have two prices, the one they usually use and the 2nd for 'panic cases' ;). Ok not all shops do that but it's one reason to check 'em out. They might not have a P67 board of Sandy Bridge CPU in stock but if there is a bad part they can likely figure out which one it is.

    The odds are greatly in your favor. You're geting top quality parts and you'll be well prepared. And you'll have a 'plan b'.
    So unless the UPS funky gorilla handles your packages you fun should be uninterrupted.
  39. Thanks for the heads-up WR2. I will keep a close watch for the P8P67 PRO to make it's appearance. By the way, I'm sitting here now reading over the P8P67 PRO motherboard manual. Highlighting areas of concern, waiting for the real action to begin.
  40. If the others are there hopefully it won't be long now.
  41. A correction on how the CM Hyper 212+ arrives in it's shipping configuration.
    The fan & rails are already mounted and clipped to the heat sink. I watched an 'unboxing' video on YouTube tonight and noticed that.
    I guess the 'exploded' view from NewEgg was just to show the contents of the whole package.

    Of course knowing that I was able to find a picture of how it arrived in the box.

    Everything else is pretty much the same. Easy to unclip and there is the second set of rails to mount to the LED fan.
    Save the original fan. It can be dismounted and used as case fan or as a 2nd CPU cooling fan in a push/pull arrangement once the overclocking starts and some extra CPU cooling is called for.
  42. Thanks for the correction WR2, I've updated my binder accordingly.
  43. WR2 said:

    No, I've been checking Newegg several times a day, but it shows sold out on every P67 model. MicroCenter is about an hour drive from me, I haven't checked with them yet. Their telephone support is pretty bad, I'd hate to drive an hour and them not have it in stock. What do you think I should do, wait it out? Thanks for checking in with me.
  44. You can try and grab it on the website. They showed 5 in stock a while back.
    If you're successful in placing the order you can give them a call and confirm.
  45. Showing 3 in stock now.
    You could have it shipped to your address as well.

    Lets take a look at what PSUs they have on offer.
  46. WR2 said:
    Showing 3 in stock now.
    You could have it shipped to your address as well.

    Lets take a look at what PSUs they have on offer.

    I already pulled the trigger on the XFX PSU that we talked about, it came to 99.99 with mail-in rebate. The link you provided to MicroCenter does not specify B3 revision. When I search the site for asus p8p67 Pro I can't seem to locate it. How did you locate that link? I was searching under asus, motherboards, p67.
  47. If you can order on NewEgg without paying tax it looks like your best deal is still that XFX 750W PSU we talked about.
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