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Redo: SFF gaming rig for <1k

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June 2, 2011 11:26:06 AM

Due to sudden changes in personal matters, my original budgeted build (and the time to build it in) has gone straight out the window. I'm forced into looking into reducing my budget, and potentially, look for a custom builder. Time, money, and my burned mending hand say so :( 

Right, I'm looking forward for a nice 1920x1080 gaming rig that wont break the bank beyond 1,000$, includes s&h, and bonus to ones that I dont have to build myself. However, I cant decide on a custom builder. Multiple trips to the BBB website show that nearly all the ones I've run into, whilst have ratings that are impressive, have multiple ongoing BBB-filed complaints.

As much as I'd love to do the build myself, doing it one-handed is going to be a challenge, that could cost me more money due to being forced to do it one-handed. Hate to figure out that the HDD I got for a build is dead cause of me manhandling it beyond reason (done it before, other arm was in a sling, broke a HDD's SATA ports badly enough that it was ruined).

So again...

Approximate Purchase Date:June- very early July, sooner = better

Budget Range: <1k. Max $1300 including S&H, tax, etc. Before rebates.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Photoshop/Illustrator work, general multitasking/surfing.

Parts Not Required: Mouse. Using my LCD TV as a monitor till I can get one for dedicated PC use.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Tigerdirect is new to me, but what I've seen, I like.

Country of Origin: NY, USA, Will move back to Asia in the near future.

Parts Preferences: Prefer microATX and small form factor cases. Smaller = better. Not much space here. Asus microATX mobo's are feature-rich. Sandy Bridge CPU preferred. Always used Nvidia, however open to trying ATI. Require 8GB. Prefer Western Digital and Seagate for hard drives, like their 5-year warranty ones. Prefer a trusted PSU like Enermax, Corsair, Antec.

Overclocking: No. Worried about thermal issues with small form factor cases.

SLI or Crossfire: No. See above.

Monitor Resolution: already have a 1080HD LCD TV. Will replace later with a 1920x1080 actual monitor.

Additional Comments: Would like something that wont break the bank, wont cry for mercy with Crysis 2, Dragon Age 2, Arma 2 (and the upcoming Arma 3), in a small case, remains cool under heavy use, and isnt too shiny.

More about : redo sff gaming rig

a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2011 11:35:16 AM

Hello KazumaCTHDWE;

You might want to spend a few minutes on the phone calling local computer shops and see what they'd charge you to assemble a system from the parts you provide.
If you're not fussed about getting the system in a hurry (as in letting them work on the build over a day or two when they're not busy) and its been kinda slow at the shop you might be able to negotiate a $60~$80 build fee from the shop's tech staff.
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June 2, 2011 2:34:36 PM

I've been keeping my single hand busy with the phone and trying to type. It isnt easy.

Any help with components please? :( 
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a b 4 Gaming
June 3, 2011 12:10:51 PM

Have you found yourself a builder yet?
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Best solution

a b 4 Gaming
June 3, 2011 2:40:55 PM

KazumaCTHD,
The only decent uATX gaming rig I have seen from a dealer under $1K is the LAN Warrior from iBUYPOWER its the same NZXT case that i have my rig in, and it ain't that small.
http://www.ibuypower.com/Store/LAN_Warrior_II-67

Here is what I propose. I Hope you can find someone to build it for you. its all a tight fit, but it will be a killer rig when its done.

Optical (any will do, chose the best deal at the time)
LITE-ON CD/DVD Burner - Bulk Black SATA Model iHAS124-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16827106289
$20.99

CASE This is about the smallest Case you get has 4 slots and will hold a 9" GPU
APEX MJ-16 Black Steel MicroATX Mini Tower Computer Case ATX12V SFX 250W Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16811154085
$41.99

Additional Case fans (x2) the case fan that comes with the case sucks so replace it. and add an extra one next to it.
Dynatron DF126025PL-3/4G 60mm Case Fan - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16835114064
$11.98 ($5.99 each)

PSU the PSU that comes with the case is weak so we must upgrade to a bigger one to power the CPU/GPU
SILVERSTONE ST45SF 450W SFX12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16817256063
$10.00 Mail-in Rebate
$79.99

HDD (you liked WD and this is a well reviewed and fast HDD)
Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16822136284
-$5.00 Instant
$89.99
$84.99

GPU Chosen because its a well reviewed card and it very short (8.25") Palit NE5X56T01102-1140F is also small (7.4") same for $10 less.
SPARKLE SX560T1024D5MH GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16814187136
-$10.00 Instant
$35.00 Mail-in Rebate
$259.99
$249.99

RAM chosen for reliability and they don't have tall heatsinks on them (small Case)
Mushkin Enhanced Silverline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Model 996770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16820226095
$79.99

MB ( you liked ASUS and it has good reviews. chosen for the placement of the SATA ports
ASUS P8H61-M (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H61 HDMI Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16813131716
$84.99

CPU (sandy bridge quad core)
Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Processor BX80623I52400
Item #: N82E16819115074
$189.99

OS
Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit English 1-Pack - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Item #: N82E16832116986
$99.99
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$944.89 Shipping: $29.02 MIR = $45
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June 3, 2011 6:41:28 PM

thanks for the build. However I cant find a GTX560 Ti that had a blower-fan setup (sucks air from in the case, blows out the back). I'm going with a 6870, cheaper. Also several versions has a blower-fan setup. Should help with SFF heat issues.

Is downgrading to a I3 2100 too much from a 2400?

Whats the difference between Home and Proffesional for Win7? OEM vs Retail?
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June 4, 2011 6:05:23 AM

Lian Li PC-354A MicroATX case
(Chosen due to massive dual 120mm intakes front, 140mm exhaust top, and optional 120mm exhaust rear. Helps with thermal issues for SFF cases. Also forward-thinking because I'll probably head back home in the near future, hauling this with me. Helps its small, and already prepared for 100F+ heat)

ASUS P8H67-M LE (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H67
(I dont particularly know what the H61 chipset is, so I'm going with what I know)

Intel I3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1Ghz
(Still need info if this is lacking in grunt)

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)
(qualified memory for the MB. Past experience has taught me to check the QML for the motherboard always before buying RAM. Also, 8GB is forward-thinking)

SAPPHIRE Toxic 100315TXSR Radeon HD 6850 1GB
(Chosen due to blower-fan setup)

CORSAIR HX Series CMPSU-650HX 650W 80 PLUS BRONZE
(Chosen due to it being modular to help with wiring in such a small case, and a brand thats never failed me)

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive
(5 year warranty is a great security blanket. Never had a 5yr warranty HDD from either WD or Seagate fail me yet, beyond warranty)

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit 1-Pack - OEM
(I still need info between the differences from Home/Pro and OEM/Retail)

Rosewill RNX-MiniN1 (RWLD-110001) IEEE 802.11b/g/n, USB2.0 Wireless-N 2.0 Dongle
(Need options for wifi. Wifi's the only way this system is going to connect to the internet, both here and back home, due to how inaccessible the lan cable access will be.)

Totalling $996.91 on Newegg. Leaves some for shipping. Any tweaks?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 4, 2011 7:18:41 AM

KazumaCTHD,

Even with the modular PSU you will a lot of excess cable (length) and the HX 650 PSU is overkill for a small rig like that. I suggest:

SILVERSTONE Strider Plus ST50F-P 500W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Silverstone short cable set:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The difference between OEM and retail:

OEM versions of Windows 7 are identical to Full License Retail versions except for the following:
- no free Microsoft direct support from Microsoft support personnel
- licenses are tied to the very first computer you install and activate it on (this is debatable see note)
- allow all hardware upgrades except for an upgrade to a different model motherboard (see note)
- cannot be used to directly upgrade from an older Windows operating system

Note: you can "replace" the MB you just have to call MS to re-activate. So effectively you could do an entire upgrade on your computer and still use the same license. The OEM license that come from major OEM's (Dell, HP, Acer) are often locked down even further.

Home Premium vs Pro 64bit (32bit is limited to 4Gb) Max Ram addressable:
Professional 192 GB
Home Premium 16 GB
Home Basic 8 GB

Additionally Pro has:
Windows XP Mode
Automatic backup supports network shares as well as local hard disks
Domain network support

i-3 2100 (Dual Core) vs i5-2400 (Quad Core)
Basically 5 or 6 FPS on most games. Most game don't use more than one or two cores. The i5-2400 suggestion is more for future games (they will eventually start programming better)
Tom's review of these 2 CPU's
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...
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June 4, 2011 9:29:51 AM

500watt PSU? Wouldnt I be nearing topping out on that with a 560ti? Nvidia cards as far as I've read draw more than ATI's current offerings for the same performance bracket.

I'm considering getting the 560ti vs 6870. I however am pushing the upper edge of my max budget at this time as it is. Most I can push it is maybe 200-220$ for the GPU, and I'm all for blower-styled ones, to aid in airflow in such a small chosen case.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 4, 2011 2:20:37 PM

KazumaCTHDWE said:
500watt PSU? Wouldnt I be nearing topping out on that with a 560ti? Nvidia cards as far as I've read draw more than ATI's current offerings for the same performance bracket.

I'm considering getting the 560ti vs 6870. I however am pushing the upper edge of my max budget at this time as it is. Most I can push it is maybe 200-220$ for the GPU, and I'm all for blower-styled ones, to aid in airflow in such a small chosen case.

500 Watts is fine for anything but a GTX 580/480 SSC and maybe the GTX 590/HD6990 they would stress it out too much. 600W would be much better for these.

Tom's on GTX 560 ti OC's (Global Power draw charts)
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-560-ti-...
Tom's on the GTX 590/580/480/HD 6990/6970/5970 (Power Draw chart):
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-590-dua...

If you still think you want more power just in case you want to upgrade to a GTX 580, then just go with different Strider series PSU the short cable set fits all of that series:
600W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
750W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

As for GPU's I like nVidia, they have better driver support.
The Sparkle 560 ti is $250 with a $35 MIR on newegg right now. its one of the quietest 560 ti's in tom's 560 ti OC round up. Its only mildly overclocked, but its faster than stock.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 4, 2011 7:56:53 PM

great finds on the PSU's. Also, I took that specific GPU as well before you mentioned it.

Right, think the builds more or less set. Now to find either a miracle worker to heal my hand right up, or a shop that'll build it for me. Any recommendations for anyone living in NY?

Update: Current parts list

Lian Li PC-354A MicroATX case

ASUS P8H67-M LE (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel H67

Intel I3-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1Ghz

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)

SPARKLE SX560T1024D5MH GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 1GB
(Moving it up to a 560 ti. Moving up the PSU to follow, rather worried about lack of wattage when I upgrade)

SILVERSTONE ST60F-P 600W ATX 12V v2.3 / EPS 12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
(Chosen for additional wattage, and that Silverstone is a preferred brand by friends of mine)

Silverstone Short Cable Set For Silverstone Strider Series
(Short cable set, as recommended for SFF case use)

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

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit 1-Pack - OEM
(Sticking with Pro. Win XP mode is more of a requirement for me, as I would be still dealing with non-WinVista/Win7 ready programs for work)

Rosewill RNX-MiniN1 (RWLD-110001) IEEE 802.11b/g/n, USB2.0 Wireless-N 2.0 Dongle
(Still accepting recommendations for a USB wireless dongle. I hope I made the right choice. It isnt meant to be anything fancy. Heck, I dont need it to work for longer than 4-5 months really. Problem is, no one's got one here...)

Totalling $1,159.86 on Newegg. Leaves some for shipping, though I'm approaching my hard limit. Any tweaks?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 5, 2011 8:17:52 AM

Looks good to me. Time to lean on a friend or two to lend you their hands to build it.
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June 6, 2011 1:30:57 AM

just to add, I forgot to include the 2xScythe SY1225SL12SH 120mm "Slipstream" Case Fans currently on sale. Might as well wind-turbine the frontal fans, swapping one of the intakes for the optional exhaust. Positive airflow ftw :D 

Right, Now to hope for a miracle that I can find a trustworthy builder who wont charge too heavy in New York...
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June 6, 2011 5:51:00 AM

Best answer selected by KazumaCTHDWE.
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