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$800 i3-2100 Gaming Build, tell me what you think

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May 26, 2011 7:56:17 AM

Over the last couple weeks I have been looking hard at CPUs (among other things) and there have been three that stand out to me as being superb "value" options; meaning cost : performance ratio. The first was AMD's Phenom ii x4 955 Black Edition, which I posted a build on a couple days ago, the second and third are Sandy Bridge CPUs, specifically the i3-2100 and the i5-2500k. This build is for the i3-2100.

*** Yes I am aware that some things will likely change when Bulldozer comes out in a few weeks, and I won't be buying anything until then. But that doesn't mean I can't plan ;) 

These three builds are designed to be value oriented (primarily) gaming computers.

Some obligatory questions that should probably be answered:

Parts that I already have: only the mouse/pad. monitor will be included in the cost.

Location - US (stateside)

Site for shopping - Newegg

Overclocking - everywhere possible

SLI/Crossfire - not on the Phenom or i3 builds, yes on the i5 build

Resolution - 1920x1080


The Second Build


CPU - Intel i3-2100 - $125
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Why this CPU? Because it is $125 and it outperforms the Phenom ii in many areas, and because it is not OCable, it will not need a aftermarket CPU cooler, saving $50-70. If they made a "k" version, for $15-30 more, I would probably choose it.

Motherboard - Asus P8H67 LGA 1155 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - $81
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Basically I was looking for the least expensive MOBO that had everything I wanted. I was not looking to buy a high end MOBO because this CPU isn't going to be OCed, and I do not intend for this build to support multiple graphics cards. the primary reason this board was only $73 (+8 S&H) was that it has only 2 RAM slots, only recommends up to 1333Mhz RAM, has 1 PCIe slot, has the H67 chipset instead of the P67, and only two SATA III connections. None of those limitations are detrimental to this build.

CPU Cooler - the boxed heatsink/fan - $0
Because it won't be OCed

RAM - Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 4GB(2x2GB) 240 pin DDR3 Dual Channel 1.5v 1333Mhz(PC3 10660) CAS 9-9-9-24 - $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Basically looking for passable RAM here, since we won't need to OC it, and buying better RAM is a really cost ineffective way to get more performance. It just needed to be 4GB of DDR3 dual channel 1333Mhz CL9 RAM. The only real constraint was that it needed to be 1.5v, which makes it slightly more expensive.

GPU - Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB - $180
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
When I chose this particular 6870, it was $170, after it went up in price $10 for no apparent reason, I still think it's the best option before a $250+ 6950 2GB. If you can suggest a better Nvidia card, I'm all ears. Same as the Phenom ii build here, because the two are largely the same outside of the platform.

HDD - WD Cavier Black 500GB 7200RPM 32Mb Cache SATA 6Gb/s - $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822136319
Flawless name/reputation, enough capacity, SATA III, 32Mb cache... can' think of a better option unless I went with a Velociraptor, and this is a budget computer. I don't think buying a cheap HDD would be worth it, if it fails, I'm f*cked. SAME AS PHENOM

Case - Antec Three Hundred Illusion - $70
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 0q13315kbj
Again, when I chose this, it was $55 due to a no longer existent MIR, and when I went back to chose something else, I didn't see anything better than this case for $70, I could get by with a $50 case, but I really like the fan configuration and looks of this case. The HAF 922 was nice too, but also $100. SAME AS PHENOM

Optical Drive - Asus 24x CD/DVD+RW - $29
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] DRW-24B1ST
Boring. Could maybe save a max of $10 buying something without a name like Asus on it, if you can suggest a better option I'm open to suggestions. SAME AS PHENOM

PSU - Corsair Builder Series cx430 430w ATX 12v 80+ certified active PFC PSU - $27
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817139026
430w should be good for this build shouldn't it? I will never be adding another card. Let me know if I will need more power. SAME AS PHENOM

Display - Acer 23” 1920x1080 Widescreen LCD Moniter - $159
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6824009266
I just chose something here, tell me if you know of something better, or if this is a bad choice. SAME AS PHENOM

All that comes to $771, $39 less than the Phenom build, mostly because of the omitted CPU cooler. The question is whether or not the i3-2100 can beat the Phenom once it's been OCed to 3.8+Ghz. Overall I think the differances will be fairly marginal, but they will matter, as the prices of the two builds are so similar. Again, thanks in advance for your opinions and advise:) 

Side note, if you could add between $50 and $300 to this build, where would you put it? Would you drop the platform altogether and upgrade to an i5, or buy an SSD? What about other options? Do you think this build could support a better graphics card without any sort of bottleneck? Which card would you get, a 6950, and mod it to 6970 stats? if so would more than 430w of power be needed? Tell me what you think :D 

More about : 800 2100 gaming build

May 26, 2011 8:10:05 AM

add some $ and go for a i5 2500k.....and a hyper 212+.....and a 560ti(fermi) it will make it hyper build.....rest all is fine..............
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May 26, 2011 8:18:05 AM

i5-2500k build is coming, but there are much better CPU coolers out there than that, and better graphics cards for your $ than a 560ti (like a 6950).
May 26, 2011 8:38:31 AM

yup there r many but........212+ is best bang for the buck............and 6950...is also good.........
a c 104 à CPUs
May 26, 2011 5:36:00 PM

The 430W Corsair has received favorable reviews, but may turn out to be a little too weak, especially if an upgrade is desired in the future. A quality model in the 500W-550W range (e.g. Antec, Seasonic, Corsair, XFX, Enermax) might be more prudent.
I've seen the benchmarks on how strong the i3 is, but I have a hard time with it being hyperthreaded rather than a true quad. This might be something to re-examine once Bulldozer is out. An i5-2400 might be a suitable choice.
On the GPU, check benchmarks for the specific games you want to play, and take into account if PhysX matters to you (it probably won't, but it might). For example, if Civilization V is an important title, you'll want nVidia. Blizzard games also seem to prefer nVidia; for anything else, AMD looks to me like the [slightly] better choice.
Antec cases are sturdy and high quality, but appear to offer poor cable management. Check out Rosewill's cases. No, they're not as sturdy, but the quality is decent, and they offer many other commonly desired features.
A $35 air cooler probably offers much higher bang/buck than a $70 air cooler. Furthermore, the Xigmatek Gaia appears to be essentially identical to the Hyper 212+, but is still only $30.
May 26, 2011 7:28:11 PM

Thanks for that jtt283, I am looking in to making this build crossfire capable, and thus would need more PSU. I'll check out Rosewill's cases and check Frostytech's review on the 212+
a c 104 à CPUs
May 26, 2011 7:34:34 PM

If you want to be Crossfire-capable, you'll likely want 650W-750W.
HardwareSecrets also does cooler reviews, and they always include a chart comparing the performance of whatever is under review to quite a few other coolers. Most of them end within a few C of one another, which hardly seems worthwhile unless you are going for an extreme overclock: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Prolimatech-Gene...
a c 188 à CPUs
May 26, 2011 7:54:00 PM

Use this tool to find out what you need in a power supply for a minimum http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp. So if you want to upgrade into the future you will know what you need. But as things stand right now with the Intel® Core™ i3-2100 in this build the 430w Corsair power supply should do the job and keep you within your budget. Otherwise your build looks really good and I don’t see any issues. If you could find it within your budget I wouldn’t change to a Z68 board not because of what it can do right now but the options that it gives me in the future.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team
May 27, 2011 5:45:37 AM

Onus said:
If you want to be Crossfire-capable, you'll likely want 650W-750W.
HardwareSecrets also does cooler reviews, and they always include a chart comparing the performance of whatever is under review to quite a few other coolers. Most of them end within a few C of one another, which hardly seems worthwhile unless you are going for an extreme overclock: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Prolimatech-Gene...


I checked out the 212+, and while it is undoubtedly good performance for $35, it falls 7c short of the cooler I had chosen, which is still only $55. Although I'm not sure why we're talking about CPU coolers on this thread, as I won't be using anything other than the boxed cooler with this build. The cooler we're debating is for the Phenom build.

The PSU I would get if I wanted to be able to crossfire would be this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?cm_mmc=BAC-T... which is a Corsair Enthusiast Series 650w SLI/Crossfire ready 80+ certified active PSU

May 27, 2011 5:49:48 AM

IntelEnthusiast said:
Use this tool to find out what you need in a power supply for a minimum http://extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp. So if you want to upgrade into the future you will know what you need. But as things stand right now with the Intel® Core™ i3-2100 in this build the 430w Corsair power supply should do the job and keep you within your budget. Otherwise your build looks really good and I don’t see any issues. If you could find it within your budget I wouldn’t change to a Z68 board not because of what it can do right now but the options that it gives me in the future.

Christian Wood
Intel Enthusiast Team


You mean you would change? wouldn't isn't making much sense lol
!