First, I have never built a computer, and a couple weeks ago, I barely knew what a motherboard was. That said, my 4-5 year old laptop perished in a car wreck (luckily I didn't) and I currently have no computer. So, between 4 and 6 weeks from now, I plan on building a "$700 budget gaming PC". Obviously, the most strenuous thing it will do will be games, however, it will also be my primary computer, and will thus have office, etc...
Before you suggest an i5-2500k - Yes, it's an amazing CPU, but I don't know how to fit it in this budget without seriously cutting elsewhere.
I would like to keep it under $700 (after rebates etc...), however if it would be more efficient to spend a little more, I won't cry too much.
The only component I already have is the mouse/mousepad, a Razor DeathAdder. (Didn't take it with me in the car) I DO NOT have a display, but that isn't included in my budget, although I will of course need one. Feel free to recommend a less than $200 monitor to me
I don't care where I buy the components... if I should, let me know.
I am in the central US
I have no preferences as far as AMD/Intel, I go for efficiency.
One thing I would like too add is that I definitely would like a setup where I could do some significant overclocking, I have never done it before, but I can/will learn and intend to get started with this computer.
As far as SLI/Crossfire... if it's the most efficient option, then yes, otherwise, I don't care. However, if it means I could just get another GPU in the future for an easy graphics upgrade, then yes, the option does look attractive.
I don't know what resolution I'll be playing at as I don't have the monitor yet. Probably be using a 19" monitor.
Emphasis on OC'ing and possibly in the distant future, water cooling. Anyways, this is what looks good to me right now.
CPU - Phenom ii x4 955 Black Edition - $120 Chose this because for $120, the only other possible option was an i3-2100, which I can't OC, and is a dual core, and I'm guessing the trend in games is going to be better and better threaded, thus favoring a quad core CPU. I also ruled out the 965BE and 975BE because they don't offer enough more to justify the cost increases.
GPU - Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB - $170 a competitive option was a GTX 560, which was a minimum of $27 more, and from what my research says, only better by a thin hair. There were others but I decided they were either too much or too little card for me; GTX 460, HD 6850, and HD 6950.
MOBO - ASRock 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX - $90 Not sure at all about this, I believe it's compatible with everything else, but am by no means sure. Help would be appreciated on this specifically.
CPU Cooler - Scythe Mine 2 - $63 I don't know specifically, but I know I will need a good cooling solution if I want to do alot of OCing. again, not sure about this model, but whatever I get, it shouldn't cost more than $50-75.
RAM - G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2GB DDR3 1333 CL 8 - $47 Quite sure I want dual channel DDR3, and (probably) 4GB of it, other than that I'm not so sure. I don't really know the importance relationship between latency, frequency, and capacity, or that it even matters overly much; and this just looked like a reasonable choice. Also I think having heatsinks on the RAM would be a good idea, but maybe not, I don't really know.
HDD - WD Cavier Black 640GB 7200RPM 32Mb Cache SATA 3Gb/s - $60 Looks like an all around great choice. Only thing I'm unsure about is the 3Gb/s vs. 6Gb/s deal. I don't know what it means, although I'm assuming something like a transfer rate? Would having 6Gb/s be a meaningful performance increase? Need help on that too.
Case - Antec Two Hundred S - $56 Honestly I just chose a good looking one. With my budget I think about all I can ask for in a case in holding my components and keeping the ambient temperature bearable. Open to suggestions.
Optical Drive - Asus 24x CD/DVD+RW - $29 Basically, it just needs to work, and I think this is a decent choice. Again, open to suggestions.
PSU - APEX 500w ATX12V - $42 VERY UNSURE. I assume 500w is sufficient, but I don't know for sure. bare in mind I do intend to OC everything I can, and maybe get another GPU in the future.
Total - $677
May get an SSD or two in the future, but not sure yet. And definitely not as a starting component of the system, as they are just to expensive. Thank you for your time and advice, it is much appreciated.
Also, sorry about the title, I hit "submit" before I meant to and don't see how to edit a title.
don't know anything about amd, personally i think intel owns the < $700 market. just remember to look at benchmarks and not specs for a cpu, the ghz don't translate into performance in any linear sort of way.
You should up your budget to allow for an i5, but if you can't, meh.
a 2GB 6950 is the best deal imo cause you can mod it to a fully functional 6970 ($70 more) with the easiest and most failsafe firmware update ever. But it's expensive and the 6870 is a very good card, so sticking with it is fine.
Not an expert on PSUs but i'm sure someone else will yell at you for that one cause it's not a reputable brand (at least i've never heard of it).
For you're HDD question, 3.0GB/s is SATA II and 6.0GB/s is SATA III. Your mobo has sata III so go for an HDD with 6.0GB/s (sataIII)
If its 4 - 6 weeks from now I 'd definitely see what the soon to be out Bulldozer has to offer to the market. In the mean time do some research on other components and on building a PC in general. Also try and gather as much funds as u can.
a 6870 is a great card at ur budget. But if u want this rig to last u a while try to squeeze in a 6950 2GB.
@slicedtoad +1 about the PSU.
Bad selection. Get a quality unit from one of the name brands. Check out the link in my sig for info about PSUs. A cheap PSU might fry ur system. Beware.
agreed with gamestr. At the moment, a locked intel: the i5-2400, will offer better performance than any heavily overclocked phenom. And when you count the cpu cooler youd be paying more for the amd system. So youd be spending more money, and putting effort into overclocking, and still have a slower computer than a stock i5-2400. So, if OC'ing is really your thing, wait for bulldozer, and see whats crackin.