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Advice for a $1400 gaming PC build

Last response: in Systems
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June 9, 2011 6:11:42 AM

I need some help planing out my desktop. I'm not that much of a hardware guy, and it's been awhile since I last built a PC. I wanted to get feedback to hopefully hammer out a good solid rig to bring with me to college.

Approximate Purchase Date: In about three weeks.


Budget Range: $1200-$1400 After Rebates


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, video, coding, internet surfing, word processing.


Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, Micro Center


Country of Origin: United States of America


Parts Preferences: I'd like to stick with Intel processors, unless someone can make a good argument otherwise.


Overclocking: Yes


SLI or Crossfire: Yes, as of now


Monitor Resolution: 1600 X 900


Additional Comments: I'm planing to buy a laptop later in the summer to bring to college as well. I don't want to hurt the quality of the desktop, but whats not spent here will help out my laptop fund. I'd rather go under budget then over, but I'll be fine as long as it stays below $1400. As stated before, I'll be bring this to college. If you have any advice for what would be good to consider in this sort of environment, I'd love to hear. Also, I'm not totally sure how powerful of a power supply I need. I think that one is enough, but it's probably best someone who knows what they are doing takes a look.

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Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) 4 x 256KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor
http://www.microcenter.com[...]=0354589
$179.99

Motherboard: ASRock P67 EXTREME4 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16813157229
$159.99

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMZ8GX3M2A1600C8
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16820233147
$84.99

Graphics Card: 2x XFX HD-685X-ZNFC Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit DDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=Radeon_HD_6850-_-14-150-505-_-Product
$166.99 and a $20 rebate ($333.98 and a $40 rebate total)

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16822148697
$59.99

SSD: Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16820148442
$219.99

Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 922 RC-922M-KKN1-GP Black Steel + Plastic and Mesh Bezel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16811119197
$99.98 and a $10 rebate

Power Supply: Silverstone Strider Essential 700w
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16817256072
$84.99 and a $10 rebate

Cooling: COOLER MASTER Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16835103057
$29.99

DVD Burner: LITE-ON 12X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 12X DVD-RAM 8X BD-ROM 8MB Cache SATA
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16827106348
$109.99

Total cost after rebates, but before shipping and taxes: $1262.88
Below budget, which gives me some breathing room in case prices shift in the next few weeks, and also saves me some money to spend on the laptop.

Nothing here is set in stone, and I'm willing to revise most anything. Knowing me, I've probably made some big mistake somewhere. If you need me to do anything else, just ask.
June 9, 2011 6:23:26 AM

why not get one 6970 and crossfire later?or even better the 6950?
June 9, 2011 6:45:43 AM

julzfromsa said:
why not get one 6970 and crossfire later?or even better the 6950?

I was going to do something like that, but I was doing some research and found this article. It claimed that a crossfire rig would be able to out preform a 6970 and do it at a fair price. Though, I guess going for a single GPU now would let me crossfire it later on, which could be a better long term solution. On the other hand, I could just wait, and get a better single card down the line when I need to upgrade from this. I'm not sure which is the smarter move.
Related resources
June 9, 2011 9:18:29 AM

Notf said:
I was going to do something like that, but I was doing some research and found this article. It claimed that a crossfire rig would be able to out preform a 6970 and do it at a fair price. Though, I guess going for a single GPU now would let me crossfire it later on, which could be a better long term solution. On the other hand, I could just wait, and get a better single card down the line when I need to upgrade from this. I'm not sure which is the smarter move.


Thats true, but i would still stay on single card as long as you don't need go CF from performance point.
You have less issues with games without CF, it takes less power, works with all games when CF does not support all and as you mentioned you can add another card later if you need it.

With 1600 X 900 resolution you would be happy with single card in any current and probably most of all future games unless you want crank it to HD textures and all stuff maxed out.
June 9, 2011 9:31:22 AM

6950 is a good value for it's offering of ~90% of the performance of the 6970, IMO....
June 9, 2011 2:52:26 PM

My suggestions:

1. Drop the blu-ray drive. Apparently the drive could or could not come with blu-ray software and even if it does come with it, it could or could not actually play all/most/any blu-rays. In either case, you'll probably have to purchase software or purchase an update to really play blu-rays. I've decided to just buy a standalone player since my monitor has another HDMI in. But I also have a receiver for sound, which you might not. So, if you don't have a way for sound for a standalone player, then I guess this suggestion is useless and just a head's up or warning.

2. Buy a reference 6950 as they can be unlocked to a retail 6970 easily and you'll have a 6970 at a $60 discount roughly. A reference 6950 is one of the cards with the single fan at the very end of the cooler. Search newegg and if it's unlockable, the reviews will be packed with comments about the card being unlocked. The unlock is easy and there's quick guides on how to do it all over the net. CF two of those 6950's unlocked and you'll be beastin' BF3 when it comes out. Or, just use one of them alone and still be just fine. I think both 1GB and 2GB versions can be unlocked.

3. Make sure you're positive you want to drop +$200 on an SSD. The only purpose of an SSD in my opinion, is for faster boot times. If my Word 2010 opens 14ms quicker, who gives a sh*t, you can still only type so f*ckin fast. If you do get a SSD though, might want to consider a smaller one like a 60GB or 64GB. You'll only want your OS and apps on it. Games might have quicker load times, like loading maps/stages, but not a FPS increase. So, games can be installed on your HDD since they usually take up so much space anyway. There's also the fact that SSD's have a limit of how many writes can be performed to the disc before it's done but I'm not sure how probable or just theoretical that write limit is.

4. Your PSU is more than adequate unless you CF 6970's or CF 6950's unlocked to 6970's. That CF setup will pull about 450W just from the cards alone and might be just enough for your system, I'm not really sure. However, if you run any single card, you're fine. If you do the CF setup I just mentioned, then you might want to bump up to a 800/850W PSU. Otherwise, you're fine.
June 10, 2011 3:36:35 AM

Alright, I've made two alterations.

1.) I'm going to follow your advice and drop the crossfire rig and get a 6950 that can be unlocked. At the moment, I think I'm going to go with this card, unless someone objects.

MSI R6950-2PM2D2GD5 Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16814127555
$ 279.99 and a $25 rebate

2.) What arson94 said has dissuaded me from the blu-ray drive. I'd like my PC to be able to function as a complete media hub, but it's not worth jumping though those hoops for functionality I will likely rarely use. I've replaced it with a simple CD drive.

ASUS 24X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/[...]=N82E16827135204
$20.99

3.) I'm going to do more research on the SSD. I'm planing to put applications like Photoshop and some 3D imaging software on the drive, and I've heard that those programs get a noticeable boost in speed with a SSD. I thought that a 64 GB drive would be too small, and I went all the way to 120GB because it's the supposed sweet spot between price and speed. This SSD boasts impressive read speeds that seem, if I'm reading everything correctly, to blow the smaller drives out of the water.

However, it's worth another look though to make sure it's worth the price. The drive is the second most expensive component, and may also be the most pointless. Removing that could allow me to upgrade another part, or maybe allow me to update something like my monitor so that I can take full advantage of all of this new hardware.

Current cost, with the reversions, is $1175.89. Far below budget, not that I'm complaining.
June 10, 2011 6:06:37 AM

You can always add a blu-ray drive later when they're cheaper and/or come packaged with blu-ray playing software that doesn't suck. You'll probably score a good deal soon if you keep an eye out. But, if you have setup that would allow you to add-in a stand-a-lone blu-ray player, then that's the better route for the time being.

But for a DVD burner drive, you can basically get the cheapest newegg has to offer. There's a samsung oem drive that's $17 with free shipping. Your asus drive is $21 + $7 shipping. The samsung is x2 slower (like x22 instead of x24) on a couple of burning speeds but the dvd and cd read speeds are the same and that's all that will matter to you unless you plan to burn alot of cd's or dvd's all the time.

If you plan to do alot of photoshopping and 3D imaging, then a SSD might be worth your while. But I agree with your decision to do some quick researching to make sure you'll actually benefit from it as the money saved could very well be put toward a 1920x1200 monitor to really take advantage of that 2GB video card and all those awesome games it'll be rockin. But for just Windows and Games, you're starting college so the few extra seconds it takes Windows 7 to load could be well spent shotgunning a beer lol.

It seems like you have a pretty solid system so far though. I'm an AMD guy myself but as things currently stand from my research, your CPU and board are definitely solid choices. You could shave off $10 with that DVD drive I mentioned earlier and if any little newegg deals come up with your current choices, then you'll be able to shave a few more bucks off. Also keep an eye out for Newegg having free shipping on any equal alternatives to your chosen parts. When buying this many parts, trust me when I say that their $7 shipping on every part will add up. Newegg keeps having deals on RAM from what I've seen recently too. You might also be able to save a few more bucks if any of the other 6950 reference cards come back in stock that are cheaper. It's likely that some of this will happen anyway by the time you purchase in 3 weeks. Also, watch out for Newegg combo deals! Every now and then they'll have a combo deal with stuff you actually wanted to buy lol.
!