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Need Advice/Rating for a $1100 gaming computer

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April 6, 2011 2:26:33 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Next Week (Sometime between April 11-16)
Budget Range: $1000-1150 (including tax and shipping) (ignoring mail-in rebates)
System Usage : Strictly gaming
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers, OS, sound card
Preferred Website for Parts: newegg.com
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: Intel i5-2400 SandyBridge Cpu / Radeon 6950 2gb
Overclocking: In general, NO. However, I am planning on unlocking the shaders on the 6950 to match a 6970. Also considering overclocking the video card clock speeds ONLY.
SLI or Crossfire: No.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I would like a desktop solely dedicated to gaming. I mostly play strategy games and rpgs like starcraft II and dragon age II, but I do enjoy the occasional FPS. I would like this system to be easily upgradeable in the future (perhaps adding another radeon 6950 in crossfire setup)

Here is what I have so far:

Seagate Barracuda 7200.12
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HIS Radeon HD 6950 2GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-P61-USB3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel H61 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (buying 2 of these for a total of 8gb)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 PSU
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS VH242H Black 23.6" 5ms HDMI Full 1080P Widescreen LCD Monitor
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill RNX-EasyN1 IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Wireless-N 4.0 Dongle
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Grand Total: $1,111.54 Including Tax and Shipping

Please let me know if there is anything wrong with this setup or if there are better deals out there. I would like to save money if possible! :) 
April 6, 2011 5:18:05 PM

Well, first of all, I'd probably get the i5 2500, because right now you're bottlenecking your system right now. The 6950 is perfect (that's what I use.) For the RAM, I'd look at 2 x 4GB instead of 4 x 2GB cards. The less slots used, the faster it'll be. I'd get at least a 750 watt PSU but thats being safe. Lastly, you said this was strictly for gaming, but you have a 5 ms monitor. Try and find a 2ms monitor.
April 6, 2011 5:38:21 PM

I'll agre with everythng EP said, except one thing. Get the XFX 550W PSU. its 80+ Bronze an has 42 Amps on the 12v rail. PLENTY for a 6950. Also you can save $10 with an AS Rock H61M/U3S3 if yyou need USB 3 and SATA 3. If you don't need those, you can save $30 with the H61M-VS at $59.99
Related resources
April 6, 2011 10:54:27 PM

Thank you for all of your comments so far guys.

However, i did extensive research on 5 ms vs 2 ms and people say our eyes can't tell the difference (maybe it adds a framerate or 2). Also monitors that advertise 2ms are most often measured in grey to grey(GTG). From my research I learned that a 2 ms GTG equals 5 ms and it is most often used as a marketing technique. So, I am happy with my monitor choice thus far.

Also, using two 4gb sticks of ram is what i had originally planned to use. (sorry if i was unclear about that!)

Additionally, I have a few questions:

1. Does the i5-2400 really bottleneck my system right now? Can anyone confirm this??

2. Is the 650W Earthwatts Antec PSU not good enough for my rig?
How do these compare with the one I already have?

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Is single rail PSU better than multi rail for my system? why?

3. Is Asrock a good brand for motherboard? I wen't with Gigabyte because I heard it was a very reliable brand. Also, I thought I should get a normal ATX motherboard since I am going with a Mid-ATX case. What are the positive/negative aspects of having a microATX case?

4. I am thinking of dropping my case and buying a refurbished CM 690 II Basic Black ATX Mid Tower Case from http://cmstore.coolermaster-usa.com

Is there anything wrong with buying a refurbished case? The cm690 refurbished is the same price as the Antec 300, but people tell me its far superior.

Once again, thanks to both of you for your advice/comments!!

April 6, 2011 11:20:06 PM

A good base for bottlenecking is you want to spend close to the same amount on your GPU and CPU. Right now, you'll be spending ~$200 on your CPU and ~$270 on your GPU. If you get the i5 2500, you'll have more than you need for a couple years to come.

Asrock is an amazing motherboard brand. They already sold out on newegg.com but you can still get them from here: http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-P67X4B3&c=fr&p...

Everything else looks good.
April 6, 2011 11:24:48 PM

Micro ATX cases are generally smaller (naturally), but if you get a mini-tower instead of an HTPC type case, really you lose some of the 5.25 and 3.5 slots you werent using anyway.

a micro ATX board is usually cheaper, and smaller. All micro ATX boards will fit in larger cases (mid towers, full towers) as well

you tend to lose some of the expandability (fewer PCIe slots, sometimes only 2 memory slots), but again, for a gaming PC, you'll only add a video card anyway.

One limit of My Micro ATX case is a limit on video card size, 9.5" max. Not a problem for a GTX 460/560 or weaker cards, or the 6850. 6950 at 10.5" won't fit though.

As for the Antec 650, its Perfectly fine for your build.

I was suggesting the XFX550 as a slightly less expensive alternative that still had all the power you need
April 7, 2011 12:19:38 AM

Wow thank you guys so much! Everything has been so informative thus far!

Sorry to keep bothering you guys so this is my last question (i swear!)


Which Mobo should i go with? (Must be able to fit a radeon 6950!)

ASRock H61M-VS LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-P61-USB3-B3 LGA 1155 Intel H61 USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock P67 EXTREME4 B3 LGA1155/ Intel P67 B3/ DDR3/ Quad SLI & Quad CrossFireX/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard
http://www.superbiiz.com/detail.php?p=MB-P67X4B3&c=fr&p...

Right now I am leaning towards buying the 1st AsRock one because its the cheapest. However, If the Gigabyte one is any more reliable, I am going to go with that.

The third one is the one recommended to me by EPbaseballer14 and I noticed that it was a P67 chipset instead of the 61 chipset used on the other two. Is there a reason for this? Is the P67 better? If so, why?
April 7, 2011 12:35:17 AM

Sorry, the P67 i recomended to you if you were to get the i5 2500. Truthfully, I'm really not very farmiliar with the P/H 61. I'll be away from my PC for about a day, so good luck!
April 7, 2011 1:01:06 AM

the H61 is the H67, cut down to bargain basement (only 4 SATA 2 connectors, no USB 3, that sort of thing. I have an H61 and its just fine for gaming). the P67 will allow overclocks, basically just a couple steps with most sandy bridge chips, but quite high with the K-series chips, the H-series doesn't allow any overclocking, but that really isn't necessary.

April 7, 2011 1:40:19 AM

ahhhh it seems i still have one final question ( for real this time! )


I am going to get this one then! i hope to god AsRock is as good as they say!

ASRock H61M-VS LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Will this fit a radeon 6950 and would a i5-2500 work on it??
April 7, 2011 2:07:57 AM

it'll fit on the board. The question is more will it fit in the CASE. a 6950 will need a case with a bit more room. something like the Rosewill Challenger or Antec 300 Illusion will be fine.
April 7, 2011 3:36:22 AM

ScrewySqrl said:
it'll fit on the board. The question is more will it fit in the CASE. a 6950 will need a case with a bit more room. something like the Rosewill Challenger or Antec 300 Illusion will be fine.


Do you know that for a fact? I can't seem to find a definitive source of whether or not the 6950 will fit in the Antec 300...I've read both that it will fit and other sources say it won't fit, regardless you wouldn't be able to use the top 1 or 2 HDD slots. I've got an Antec 300 and am looking to possibly get a 6950 so just wondering.
April 7, 2011 5:00:37 AM

Hey Bacillus I have just the link for you! Like you I have been wondering the same thing!

http://www.semiaccurate.com/forums/showthread.php?t=397...

Check out those pictures and it will answer your question. Yes, it will fit but barely! (keep in mind 6950 and 6970 are the same size)


Antec 300 case is $55 right now at newegg.

If you don't mind a refurbished case, you can get a
Refurbished CM 690 II Basic Black ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 + $10.54 shipping = $55.53)
for the same price at the CM store!

Here's the link for that
http://cmstore.coolermaster-usa.com/advanced_search_res...

Supposedly the CM690 has superior cooling, more room, and much better cable management than the Antec 300!

I for one am going to grab the CM690 no doubt.
April 7, 2011 5:12:12 AM

I just saw a combo that saved me some money so I switched out my processor and C43 in my cart for this combo. So I get a nicer motherboard at save $10 in the process. Check it out OP.

Newegg CPU/Board combo: Intel Core i5-2500K + MSI P67A-G43 = $340
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

You could overclock the CPU to 4.2GHz just by touching a button on the mobo before you boot with their OC Genie.

MSI P67A-G43 Pics/Features:
http://www.msi.com/product/mb/P67A-G43--B3-.html
April 7, 2011 6:27:09 AM

hmm thanks for that info xgrunty. atm I am about to get

the regular i5-2500 (not k version) ($209.99 free shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

and ASRock motherboard H61 Motherboard ($59.99+$6.98 Shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

For a total of $276.96

However, this is because I have no prior overclocking experience and I don't want to mess with adjusting voltages and hurt my system.

Is it worth it for me to shell out the extra $63 and get the 2500k with the MSI P67 motherboard and attempt overclocking for the first time? If its too much of a hassle, I am not interested; however, if it is as easy as you say then it certainly catches my interest!
I am just going to use the stock fans on "CM 690 II Basic Black ATX Mid Tower Case" and 2 additional 120mm regular fans as cooling.


I wouldn't mind the extra cpu power especially for an eyefinity setup if I am to get one in the future.

Can anyone tell me if its that easy to overclock a 2500k and if its worth the extra $63 dollars?? :ouch: 


April 7, 2011 6:51:19 AM

Is manually overclocking to 4.5 ghz or 4.7 ghz tedious or difficult? will it shorten the lifespan of my cpu?
April 7, 2011 7:00:11 AM

Above 4.2ghz you would need to replace the stock heatsink (not every expensive) to get to 4.5ghz.

COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus 120mm CPU Cooler ($35 + shipping)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Anything above 4.5ghz though you'll start needing decently expensive cooling setups and I don't think it would be worth it unless you want bragging rights. If you are trying to save money though, you can do 4.2ghz with a button-push and the stock heatsink.
April 7, 2011 7:05:17 AM

Also i know you can not overclock that motherboard. But if your not going to that is a good deal. You can also add another 4gb memory later if needed.
April 7, 2011 7:16:31 AM

hmm thats kinda funny i noticed something about that johnnyb.

It says that Gigabyte mobo supports DDR3 1333/1066/800.

The CORSAIR Vengeance Ram they're selling it with seems to be DDR3 1600.

I'm wondering why would they choose to sell those two as a combo?

Would that ram even work in that mobo??
April 7, 2011 7:19:19 AM

It would work it would just turn itself down to 1333 automatically.
April 7, 2011 8:57:40 AM

Looks like MSI fooled me with false advertising and in-turn I gave you bad information. Looks like OC Genie is only available on their gd65 model which is $180......... Yeah that's kind of annoying.

It looks like the Overclocking section is pretty easy to navigate though. I'm going to head over to the Overclocking section of the forum to figure out the best way to OC to 4.5ghz
April 7, 2011 9:06:28 AM

Awwwwww thats horrible! I was really really looking forward to the oc genie button because I am a complete noob at overclocking!

I really hope I can learn to manually overclock...

A quick question guys. Does motherboard model matter for overclocking an i5-2500k or should I just buy the cheapest one i can find??
April 7, 2011 9:49:28 AM

I edited my last message because I did some research and the overclocking section of the bios looks pretty straightforward but still requires manually overclocking. I'm a newb at overclocking as well. I've just been reading up on what temperatures are safe and how to stress test the processor. I'll read up more on how to overclock but I really don't think it'll be that hard as long as you do it a little at a time then run a stress test to make sure the temperature doesn't go too far above 60 degrees
April 7, 2011 10:02:45 AM

yeah. well all this is discouraging me from overclocking. i mean even if i get a cheap h61 mobo and a i5-2500 (non-k version) and leave everything stock, it should still be super fast right?
April 7, 2011 10:38:50 AM

yeah it will be super fast anyways without overclocking.
April 7, 2011 8:56:14 PM

Sorry to double post but want to bump and let you know if you go for the MSI c43 (instead of g43) it has OC Genie in the BIOS according to user reviews on NewEgg :) 
!