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*Updated* School / Gaming PC on a budget!

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March 13, 2011 8:13:17 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: 10 April 2011

Budget Range: Before Rebates $500-$1000.00


System Usage from Most to Least Important: School / Gaming


Parts Not Required: Mouse, Keyboard, NIC, 5.1 Speaker System, Monitor, Case (currently have a )

Parts REQUIRED- CPU, Motherboard, Power Supply, Graphics Card, RAM, Hard Drive, Optical Drive (DVD read/write), Operating System

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Wherever the deals are. I've been looking at newegg, and I'd prefer to stick with one website.

Country of Origin: California, USA: about 2 hours from the nearest microcenter :( 


Parts Preferences: Lovin' that i5 2500k. I'm on a budget, but last time I built a PC I was on a budget too... and I didn't end up getting the PC I really wanted. Not sure I want to make the same mistake this time.

Overclocking: No, bordering on Maybe. Will pay the extra $10 or $20 for a "k" model or AMD equivelant just in case.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe. Probably not, but if it's not super expensive, would like to retain the option.

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 - might upgrade current monitor in the next year. Depends.

Additional Comments: Thanks to all who have responded. I'm editing this first post to be shorter then the original.

Here's the skinny; I'm on a budget. I top out at $1000.00, but the less I spend, the better. It seems as though the extra $200.00 between some of the AMD builds I've seen, and the proposed Sandy Bridge build I have below would be well spent. What are your thoughts? I'm setting a buying deadline for this build; about a week before I go on spring break, so I can order the parts and have oodles of free time to put together my build and revel in its awesomeness. Also, another month's time will change prices. I have high hopes that intel and Nvidia will drop their prices substantially on the i5 and gtx 400 series respectively.

Proposed Build:

Product Description Savings Total Price

Optical Drive ASUS 24X Burner Black SATA Model DRW-24B3LT LightScribe Support - OEM $21.99

HDD Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $59.99

GPU EVGA 01G-P3-1366-TR GeForce GTX 460 SE (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card -$10.00 Instant $20.00 Mail-in Rebate Card $159.99

Free Crap NVIDIA Free Just Cause 2 + Mafia II Coupon don't care, don't care, but free stuff. yay.

Power Supply Antec TruePower New TP-750 750W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ... $99.99

MOBO GIGABYTE GA-P67A-UD3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $134.99

OS Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM $99.99

CPU / Memory Combo Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model 996770
-$15.00 Combo $286.98

Subtotal: $863.92

More about : updated school gaming budget

March 13, 2011 3:35:31 PM

Lots of folks are really into Sandy Bridge right now. Yeah, it's faster than AMD, but your really not going to need it for school or games unless your looking for a Really high end rig. You can save a lot of money going with AMD and you wouldn't be disappointed....

The case you have is perfect. You could use that old 9800 for awhile, and upgrade the GPU later....

Be Certain you buy the 64 bit version of Win 7.........



This isn't so much a build to price recommendation but more of a guide. You can always find deals on certain parts and even some great bundle sales to get you exact system...

AMD PC:
You need a quad core, a six core is a waste as nothing currently uses it, a dual or triple core is simply not adequet
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I prefer either ASUS or Gigabyte mother boards, period...(better parts & power regulation than most all the other brands)

This motherboard for Nvidia, supports SLI in the future.....
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This motherboard for AMD, supports Crossfire in the future.....
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Operating system there's only one choice 64 bit version of Win7....
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU if you want to start & stick with one something like: 5870, 6850, 6870, GTX 560 Ti, or 570..
If your planning to start with one but upgrade to two in near future you can go for 460's or 560's (hey, SLI just scales better than Crossfire...)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Too many people under estimate the importance of a strong, quality power supply. Choose one from Corsair, Antec TP, or Seasonic... 650watts will work for any single GPU system. 850Watts will work for all but the highest end dual GPU systems.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM this is pretty much a commodity, I prefer Corsair, Crucial, or G. Skill. Get 4Gb, DDR3, 1600.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Disks commodities too, I prefer Western Digital. Many on this board like Samsung. Any size between 500Gb & 1Tb will work great.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD / CDROM drives any will do I prefer Samsung
March 13, 2011 4:43:57 PM

jb6684 has the right idea - you need to get used to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and Pabst Blue Ribbom beer. An AMD quad core falls nicely into that "inexpensive, but it does the job" category.

Here are a few alternatives:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 840 3.2GHz for $110 Do not get a BE (Black Edition) chip - that costs a premium to be able to overclock.

Motherboard: BIOSTAR TA870U3+ AM3 AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 for $70 After Rebate I like this selction because it is 1) cheap, 2) it has sata 6 GBS and usb 3.0 and 3) it can crossfire, so when your rich uncle dies and leaves you some coin in his will, you can buy another GPU.

Speaking of Graphics: SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB for $155 AR/promo.

Power Supply: OCZ StealthXstream II OCZ700SXS2 700W for $51 AR. Seriously, this is too much wattage, but let's prep for that uncle (rest his soul), and did I say it was CHEAP?

Hard Drive: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB for $55. Yip, lots of people prefer Samsung over WD, because you get twice as much storage for $5 less, and no noticible loss in performance. I am one of them.

DVD: HP Black 24X DVD for $21. This one is cheaper when you consider shipping. All my quotes include shipping, btw

RAM: jb6684 picked a good set of RAM: $45 after promo.

OS: 64 bit, or else you won't see all your RAM: $100

Total: $607 - almost $200 less than the Intel machine, and it will still play games at reasonable settings.

Edit: Had to change recommendation on the Graphics card, because a 6950 is too long to fit in a CM Storm Scout case (unless you own a Dremel)
Related resources
March 13, 2011 5:06:19 PM

Check with your school to see if you can get discounts on the OS. I know that at UW Madison you can get it for $70, or if you are an ECE major and a member of the IEEE, you can get free OSes through the MSDN Academic Alliance
March 13, 2011 5:46:34 PM

Quote:
Had to change recommendation on the Graphics card, because a 6950 is too long to fit in a CM Storm Scout case (unless you own a Dremel)


Yikes, I had been under the impression that the storm scout was begin enough for darn near any card! I'd better double check that when I do my final build...

Also, thanks to all three of you for the replies. On balance, as much as I'd LOVE to have a Sandy Bridge machine, I think i'm going to go with amd to save some cash.

Edit: Gah, see, I keep going back and forth! I see the AMD build, and it looks really good- I'd change up that biostar motherboard for one with more "bells and whistles" (I have a 5.1 logitech computer speaker system).

What are you guys running for your main gaming computers, and how satisfied are you with your experience?
March 13, 2011 6:59:59 PM

$588AR

March 14, 2011 12:23:43 AM

I think if you cut about a half inch chunk out of the hard drive cage on your Scout, you could fit the 6950 into it. Otherwise, it is a beautiful case in several ways.

Ah, I do not game; just love building machines and overclocking them. That is why I listen to batuchka :D 
March 14, 2011 5:47:30 AM

I was so in love with the 460 gtx... until I saw THAT.

Thanks for taking the time to post the build; although I do not need a case... I think I saw that in the combo, and I do need the OS.

So, the 560 ti eh? Shiny. Honestly, in the end, this is all going to boil down to where prices are at in a little under a month from now, but I'm really leaning towards intel. Also, I think I'm just going to forget about trying to create an SLI system.

It seems like most of the time, you can accomplish with 2 cards SLI, a comperably priced single card, so, unless I want to buy a card and hope that in a few months, once I've saved up the money, the same card is still available somewhere... I might as well buy one card that I'm happy with. I'll save money of the power supply as well.

So, I've narrowed my search down to this;

CPU:i5 Sandy Bridge: Price difference between 2300 and 2500k is pretty small, but I honestly doubt I'll ever overclock...
one GPU, no need for motherboard with SLI.
Motherboard: Only 1 16x slot necessary. Overclocking not necessary, as long as it's a stable board, I'll be happy.
GPU: Nvidia. Sorry, I'm a fanboy, and if I upgrade my monitor soon, it'll be one that supports 3dvision.
Memory; Seems like I'll pay a premium for a board that supports 1600, vs 1333. So, 1333 it is. Question here is still, 4 gigs or 8?
Hard Drive: Probably going to want one that takes advantage of the new 6gb sata connection. WD has a 500gb "cavier black" drive for $59.99
Power Supply: Question for the community: how far SHOULD I overestimate the wattage that I'll need? I doubt I'll have the ocassion to upgrade any of the pieces, outside of memory and possibly a SSD in the future. I'm thinking a 550 watt (or so) should be fine for 460gtx/560 ti gtx and 4-8gb ram.

MUST run games; team fortress 2 smoothly. I'm rather competative. World of Warcraft MAX settings. Starcraft II max settings, and hopefully Diablo III at high / max settings.

Thanks again, all that have taken time to reply. This build is something I've been looking forward to for months... years even, and I'm not taking it lightly. It's a shame I'm on a budget, I'd love to put together an i7 system with 32gb ram, two nvidia cards in SLI with a 32 inch monitor and 3dvision, but that's just not in the cards for me at this point in my life!
March 14, 2011 10:21:29 AM

You are thinking correctly at 550 W, and could even go as low as 500 W. That still leaves plenty of room for capacitor aging over the life of the machine. Also, an SSD takes less power than an 80 mm fan, so no worries there.
!