New Gaming Comp Builder - $1500ish

I've had two laptops over the course of the last 7 years and have finally decided it's time to get that desktop I've always wanted that can handle games at a very high level, though not the highest break-the-bank level. The problem is that I have never built my own system before, though I know a lot more now than I did a week ago, having researched this quite a bit lately.

I'm looking to be able to play games like Dragon Age, The Elder Scrolls V (when it comes out), Diablo III (same), Oblivion, and games that would come out over the next 3 years or so with the settings up really high, close to maxed out if possible, but not required. I would like to play multiplayer games with the graphics turned up fairly high, but I don't need ultra-incredible precision. I just need enough to get by without lag interruptions whenever things get really involved due to there being several hundred units on the screen (something I've struggled with and accepted for years). I don't have any other major needs for my computer such as graphic design or anything like that. It would just be basic web browsing, some movie viewings, stuff like that, probably with multiple applications open at once (though not while gaming).

After discussing this with some other people, this is my proposed final build. I'm most concerned about the parts being compatible and ensuring that I haven't selected some well-known-to-be-inferior product or made any fundamental building errors.

Edit: After reading some other posts, here is some other info you might want:

Purchase Date: 1 week
Budget Range: $1500 (might be able to squeeze an extra hundred or so out if it's worth it)
Parts Not Required: Mouse
Preferred Websites: Newegg, TigerDirect, Amazon
Country of Origin: US
Overclocking: Maybe
Crossfire/SLI: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080


I was going to get the cheaper HAF 912, but then I realized that I was going to buy rather expensive 200 mm fans for the cheaper one that come standard on the bigger HAF 922, which also has a few more drive clips or whatever standard. Therefore, I went with this one. The LED on the front fan turns off, so no worries there (I'm not huge on the LEDs).

Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD80 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

I went round and round and round trying to pick a motherboard, but it was hard without a lot of reviews out there. This is one of the most expensive z68 motherboards, but it seems to be of reasonable quality as well as being crossfire capable, should I decide to pursue that in the future. I have also been considering a SSD and the Z68 apparently has this "SSD caching" feature that can be taken advantage of, but I don't really know a lot about what that is. Help in the motherboard department would be really appreciated.

CPU: intel i5-2500K

I am probably not intending to overclock the processor at any point, so I could potentially get the cheaper i5-2500 for $15 less. On the other hand, $15 is not much and it leaves the door open for the future.

GPU: XFX HD-695X-CNFC Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

I selected this video card because it was my sweet spot of price and quality. The next best card seems to be about $100 more.

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

I knew I wanted 7200 RPM and a lot of cache, so this got the nod, though it's a little more than I wanted (I've been told the 6 Gb/s is basically useless relative to the 3 Gb/s). I guess this does not come with a SATA cable, whatever that is. Do I need to buy one of those separately or will that be included somewhere else in my pile of parts?

Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBRL

Went with 4GB over 8GB, as recommended by pretty much everybody I talked to. It is 1600 though.

CD/DVD: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk – OEM

Just your standard CD/DVD drive with the best ratings. This apparently also does not have a cable. Again, do I need to get one of these on my own and if so, what would be that cable?

PSU: Thermaltake Toughpower XT TPX-775M 775W ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Certified 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply GeForce GTX 470 Certified

I think this power supply is a little much, but I wanted one that was 80+ certified. It was also drilled into me to not skimp on the PSU, so I picked this one.

OS: Windows 7 full home premium

The choice here is whether I get the full home version for $100 more than the OEM version. I understand that they are basically the same except for the fact that the OEM version essentially becomes permanently wedded to the motherboard once installed, so I foresee my screwing up the installation or frying the motherboard accidentally and ending up with no OS. I've also read installing the OEM version has its own problems potentially.

I think that is it. I was going to buy cable ties in addition to Arctic Silver 5 (though I've read elsewhere that I don't need this). Is there anything else I am going to need to build this thing (other than a lot of patience)? I presume all the cables and stuff I need are going to come standard. Yeah, I am getting a monitor (this one), keyboard, speakers, and all that, but I figured they did not need to be posted.

Any help or advice you could give me, even if it's just "Yes, if you put these parts together properly, the computer will run" would be appreciated. Alternatively, if I'm spending way too much or far too little on a particular part, given my goals, I'd like to know that as well. Thanks.
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  1. Case - No front USB 3 port would knock it off my list.....2 years ago 922 was one of my fav cases but hasn't been upgraded with current features. Consider Antec 902 V3

    GFX - At 1920 x 1200, the 560 is cheaper and faster. Guru3D uses the following games in their test suite, COD-MW, Bad Company 2, Dirt 2, Far Cry 2, Metro 2033, Dawn of Discovery, Crysis Warhead. Total fps (summing fps in each game @ 1920 x 1200) for the various options in parenthesis (single card / SL or CF) are tabulated below along with their cost in dollars per frame single card - CF or SLI:

    $245.00 6950 (479/751) $0.51 - $0.65
    $220.00 560 Ti - 900 Mhz (495/862) $0.44 - $0.51


    RAM - The 8 GB is worth it .... 100% more RAM for 50% price increase.

    PSU - While doing well in most performance categories, the XT has been noted for poor voltage regulation .... a concern if your OCing. get something else. This will handle a 2nd GFX card later on and has a 9.5 jonnyguru performance rating

    I understand that they are basically the same except for the fact that the OEM version essentially becomes permanently wedded to the motherboard once installed.

    That's the official MS mantra but not "necessarily" true. Haven't seen one published for Win 7 so don't know what's changed from here .... there's math involved :)

    I foresee my screwing up the installation or frying the motherboard accidentally and ending up with no OS. I've also read installing the OEM version has its own problems potentially

    FUD...... you are permitted to replace failed components ..... the main difference is this....the retail version lets you call MS for tech support....with the OEM you have to go to your builder for support (that's you)
  2. ^ I totally agree with Jack. One of the questions you asked was do you need cables for your DVD drive. The answer is no. The motherboard comes with SATA cables (usually 4) that can be used to connect your DVD and HDD drives. I would also suggest a HDD swap to a samsung spinpoint f3, they keep up with the WD blacks in speed and are much cheaper.
    I also suggest getting a p67 board, as they are tried and true while the z68 is new and untested. A good one is the ASRock extrem4 P67, good featureset for the price.


  3. Great help here.

    Do I really want to give up the Z68 mobo? My friends seem to be all about it, though I'm not sure I can take advantage of its newer features. Am I locking myself out future-wise by not going Z68? I am willing to spend a little more for a better board. Also, looking at the reviews for this board, it seems like it is not necessarily the most novice friendly.

    Have a suggestion for a case that doesn't have LEDs? I would prefer a more reserved/professional look.

    Do I need Arctic Cooler (perhaps along with some sort of remover for whatever comes stock)? What about a HSF?
  4. You will not miss anything by going p67, the only difference for gamers in Z68 is SSD caching. Look into it and determine whether you want it.

    Here's my case suggestion: It's a roomy case, and a super cheap price.
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