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First custom build - $800 budget - help please!

Last response: in Systems
May 13, 2011 7:50:40 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: within the next two weeks

Budget Range: $800 After Rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: surfing the internet, gaming, watching movies, matlab/homework

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, spreakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I'm most comfortable with newegg or amazon, but I'm not opposed to better deals from other sites

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: prefer intel, but open to suggestions

Overclocking: probably not

SLI or Crossfire: maybe in future upgrades

Monitor Resolution: best possible?

Additional Comments: I'm looking to build a cost efficient PC that plays games like the Sims and Spore flawlessly. I'll likely upgrade in a few years after I get my degree :)  and I don't mind if that upgrade has to be a major overhaul. For now I'm looking for a solid PC on a budget.


Here's what I picked out, all suggestions/criticisms are welcome:


Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz - $170

- I shouldn't need more than two cores, so why pay more? :) 


GIGABYTE Intel G31 Micro ATX - $47


G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR2 800 - $65


MSI GeForce GTX 460 1GB - $180 (after rebate)

Hard drive:

WD Caviar Black 640GB - $60

- I've read some about more platters being faster, but would such a difference be noticeable? I definitely don't need 1TB of space.

Optical drive:

Samsung DVD + RW SH-S223L - $28 (inc. shipping)

- I'm not looking to do anything fancy with Blu-ray or 3D


Cooler Master Storm Scout - $80 (after rebate)

Power supply:

Antec 550W ATX 12V modular -$60

- Will this supply enough power?

Operating system:

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit - $100

May 13, 2011 8:14:16 PM

A core 2 duo is no longer relevant. It's slow and expensive. You'd be better off with a Sandy Bridge, they are much faster and actually cheaper! Check out this build:

CPU: $125

Mobo: $90

PSU: $60

HDD: (faster platter like you mentioned, and it's same price) $60

Case: $60

GPU: $230 after rebate

DVD drive: $28

RAM: $40

OS: $99

That puts us at $790 if I did my math right :) 

P.S. Here's a benchy of the 2100 vs E8400
May 13, 2011 8:22:21 PM

^btw, that build is probably overkill. We can get it down to $600 or so if you only plan on playing games like spore and the sims. This is more like for BF3 and SC2 lol.
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May 13, 2011 8:27:21 PM

THANK you!

Just curious, why go with the GTX 560 over the Radeon 6850?

And you're right, it's probably overkill, but I have my pride :) 
May 13, 2011 8:27:31 PM

Striker410, has done a good job for building a system that will fit your needs and budget while still giving you room that you can grow in. I have to echo him on advising you to move up to the Intel® Core™ I3-2100 and an H67 board. If you can squeeze a little bit more out of your budget you can move up the Intel Core I5-2400 and give yourself full quad core support.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team
May 13, 2011 8:38:26 PM

kripple said:
THANK you!

Just curious, why go with the GTX 560 over the Radeon 6850?

And you're right, it's probably overkill, but I have my pride :) 

This is why my friend:
As you can see, the 560 stomps the 6850 into the ground. A better comparison would be the 6950:
As you can see, the 560 and the 6950 are very evenly matched, with a small advantage to the 6950.

I would also keep in mind the fact that some 6950's can be unlocked to a 6970, although it's not guaranteed.
May 14, 2011 12:33:51 AM

What's the least expensive videocard that would still be overkill for my needs (and quiet)? This is how I see my options:

Option 1 -- GeForce GTX 560

-really awesome GPU, probably better than what I need AND it will likely be bottlenecked by my i3 processor anyway

-a bit pricey at $230 after rebate

Option 2 -- Radeon 6850

-better priced at $175

-still better than what I need?

Option 3 -- GeForce GTX 460 1GB

-even cheaper at $145 after rebate

Option 4 -- other? lol
May 14, 2011 12:37:20 AM

A 560 ti will not bottleneck with the i3, as the i3 is pretty much a quad since it has Hyper Threading. Hyper Threading makes it a sort of "virtual quad" since each core can handle 2 threads at a time.
The question is, how hardcore do you intend to game? any of these cards can max games out now, but to do it in a year? likely the 560 ti will be the only one left standing. It's up to you. I personally would go 560ti vs 460, as the 6850 is weaker than both.