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$400 Gaming PC

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April 24, 2011 8:03:55 PM

Hello folks, need your advice =)

I want to put together a gaming (mostly) PC for under $400. The most demanding application is going to be StarCraft 2, though I want to run it on Ultra settings at 1280:1024 / 1440:900 resolutions. I want to take the TH's Current $500 Gaming PC System build except for the CPU and GPU. Currently, I have Radeon 5670 GPU in mind, and am completely undecided as to the CPU. To me, Athlon II x2 240 (2.8 GHz) looks sufficient. Do I really need a quad for playing SC2? Or is a dual-core CPU all that slow for todays tasks? And I would like to get some insight on the CPU cache. Does it matter all that much if I do not perform anything heavy duty?

Thanks in advance!

P.S.: Oh, any suggestions as to shopping parts at reasonable prices in Europe? Shipping from the US is a pain!

More about : 400 gaming

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April 24, 2011 8:30:07 PM

First, what is your budget in Pounds or Euro's, and secondly, Starcraft 2 is a very CPU demanding game.
April 24, 2011 8:34:15 PM

check out some numbers: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/129
for mainly SC2, i would say get the i3-2100. to fit your budget you would have to get a h67 mobo, which means no overclocking but ability to use onboard graphics (wont get you very far in SC2).
SC2 also slightly favors NVIDIA gpus, so take note of that
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April 24, 2011 9:05:47 PM

attackllama

Following that benchmark link... is that FPS? Funny how Athlon II x2 265 reaches Phenoms' productivity. That benchmark doesn't tell me much, though. How can they test CPU separately, not mentioning GPU and RAM, and what the hell, 34 FPS at 1024:768? :o 

Yummerzzz

According to Google:
400 U.S. dollars = 274.951883 Euros
400 U.S. dollars = 242.204057 British pounds
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April 24, 2011 9:16:26 PM

Siggy, 450$ build should be sufficient for you.

The i3 2100 kills the AMD chips up to the 955.
April 24, 2011 9:38:17 PM

No useful comments so far... A doubtful benchmark and a recommendation to go Intel =/
So far it is clear to me that SC2 is clock-speed dependent, and doesn't benefit from extra cores all that much. No insight on cache though. Comparing my expected build (see post #1) to one in this TH review, my build has 1gb more RAM, and matching CPU clock-speed. At 1280:1024 Radeon 5670 512 mb shows up to 35 FPS (would a 1gb version perform better?), and no difference between Radeon and GeForce spotted. Any comments on the expected build?

EDIT:

Well, i3 2100 & H61 does sound interesting, I just never looked into it, really :9
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April 24, 2011 9:55:16 PM

^ What are you talking about.
955 vs 2100
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/88?vs=289
The 2100 doesn't kill the 955, but it beats it none the less.

It's a common known fact that Blizzard games favor Nvidia cards. This doesn't apply to all of them, but it is the case most of the time.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainm...
As you can see the usual thing is 5850>GTX 260. However it is apparent in SC2 the 260=5850. That is why Blizzard games favor Nvidia a bit more than ATI, you'll find the same experience though.

You are correct, it's not more cores more perf necessarily for all RTS games, a dual core would be sufficient, but the i3 2100 is a good CPU and should last you in SC2.
"The good news is that any modern dual-core CPU over 2.0 GHz should be able to run the game acceptably, and more megahertz will only help."
Source: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/blizzard-entertainm...

Cache matters none at all in gaming, more cache doesn't mean more perf. It helps in certain games, but the only game that's really gained A TINY BIT from cache is Alien vs. Predator.

As for builds, MY SIGGY has a 450$ build, I know it is your ideal 400$ but it'd last you a long time. To cheapen it, here is a combo to make use of.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
This'll total to around $425, since you pay less for the mobo/cpu.
April 24, 2011 10:02:25 PM

I'm gonna be buying in Europe, Newegg doesn't ship internationally, not that I would ship from US anyway. I was basing my build on the latest TH 'best for the money' articles. Sadly, they seem to be outdated already, no mention of i3 2100 and so on. :( 
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April 24, 2011 10:18:52 PM

phreek said:
I'm gonna be buying in Europe, Newegg doesn't ship internationally, not that I would ship from US anyway. I was basing my build on the latest TH 'best for the money' articles. Sadly, they seem to be outdated already, no mention of i3 2100 and so on. :( 



they really are not if you read the full article
April 24, 2011 10:21:02 PM

phreek said:
attackllama

Following that benchmark link... is that FPS? Funny how Athlon II x2 265 reaches Phenoms' productivity. That benchmark doesn't tell me much, though. How can they test CPU separately, not mentioning GPU and RAM, and what the hell, 34 FPS at 1024:768? :o 




the test is kept equal by using all of the same other components. It is meant to just compare the CPUs so it each test system has the same GPU, ram etc. And ultra is well... ultra!
at 1024x768 it is bottlenecked by the CPU more than the GPU
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April 24, 2011 10:22:06 PM

Ohhhh.... Yeah your budget of $400 mislead me to assume US. Sorry I didn't read your PS.
April 24, 2011 10:41:13 PM

Can I assume from this benchmark that at 1440:900 / 1280:1024 the core i3 2100 will give crappy FPS paired with any GPU? (Ultra settings)
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April 24, 2011 10:44:22 PM

^ How can you assume that, the 280 is old tech, they just use it to keep consistant. And if you see, the 2100 still beats the AMD chips (All the Phenom X4's, the Athlons)
April 24, 2011 10:48:36 PM

aznshinobi said:
^ How can you assume that, the 280 is old tech, they just use it to keep consistant. And if you see, the 2100 still beats the chips you chose. (All the Phenom X4's, the Athlons)


I see that core i3 beats those, I meant to say that if even i3 2100 gives that low FPS... Oh, and how about core i3 550?
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April 24, 2011 10:57:43 PM

^ The i3 550 is old tech, it's of the last generation so that is not even related to the i3 2100. As for low-fps, just know that it wouldn't apply for all cards. It only applies to the old 280.
April 24, 2011 11:02:26 PM

Okay, to the GPU... 5670 and GT240 are attractive price-wise, I cannot find any benchmarks for those, however. Are these any good, and if so, which is preferable?
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April 24, 2011 11:09:01 PM

GT240<5670.
April 24, 2011 11:33:53 PM

Well, i3 2100 + 5670 looks great. This build is going to cost around 430 to 450 (depending on the mobo with or w/o U3S3), though. :( 
Any ideas how to shrink it down? Or where to find good deals in Europe?
April 25, 2011 8:17:47 AM

hi there im not sure you need a i3 for sc2, here is what i recommend (it is in british pounds)

AMD Athlon II X2 250 3.00GHz - £42.98
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/237554

Biostar NF520D3 Socket AM3 - £36.60
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/255212

G-Skill 4GB DDR3 1333MHz - £34.98
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/226283

XFX HD 5830 XXX 840MHz Edition 1GB DDR5 - £83.99
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/263858

Seagate 500GB 3.5" Barracuda SATA-III - £26.99
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/252857

Samsung SH-S223 22x DVD±RW - £15.47
http://www.ebuyer.com/product/145450
this build equals £241.01

this should run any games on very high settings and get you good results
April 25, 2011 10:18:39 AM

The build above is not complete :)  And I dunno if I need a GPU faster than 5670, really (correct me if I'm wrong).

Right now I have these two builds in mind.

1.
AMD Phenom II x2 560 BE
ASRock M3A770DE
Radeon HD 5670
4GB RAM
Any decent HDD
Budget PSU & any decent case

2.
Intel Core i3 2100
ASRock H61M-S or H61M/U3S3

The latter looks darn good but is exceeding my budget :(  :(  :( 
April 25, 2011 11:48:25 AM

my friend has that phenom CPU with 4GB ram and a 5770 and his system is system on benchmark is similar to mine on cpu tests (i have a athlon II x4 620 @ 3.2GHz )
my laptop came with a core i3 380 m, i know that laptop cpus are different than desktop ones but my i3 performs just about less than my quad core athlon II

so both choices are good, but amd could save you money, i3s pretty expensive right now.
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April 25, 2011 10:37:43 PM

Drop the Phenom II X2 for an Athlon 445.
April 26, 2011 10:01:50 PM

Radeon 5670 comes in DDR3 and DDR5 options, is DDR5 worth extra money?
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April 26, 2011 11:15:06 PM

At a lower end card, it's hard to see any real benefit. But it could benefit, I haven't really seen any reviews saying otherwise.
May 1, 2011 3:21:34 PM

Does anyone know if ASRock H61M U3S3 supports Kingston DDR3-1333 4096MB PC3-10600 (KVR1333D3N9/4G)?
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May 1, 2011 5:37:45 PM

It should, any H61 chipset should be using DDR3 memory.
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May 1, 2011 6:34:49 PM

^ +1

Any board supporting DDR3 should support any ram. The support lists for mobos, I tend to just disregard them since they suggest ram that is above the premium price.
!