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Need advice and answers on building a budget 500-600$ gaming PC.

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June 14, 2011 4:16:40 PM

First, sorry for my bad English, as its not my native language, so please try to understand, if need be I will edit and rewrite some parts.

Goal: Gaming PC that will last for at least 8 years, and be able to play most of the current games at least on 30 FPS on 1024x768.

Please read all and give me advice, if this isn't the correct forum then I am sorry but I felt that people replying in this section are the most experienced.

Approximate Purchase Date: next week if everything goes smoothly (there are no second thoughts about the decisions I will make.

Budget Range: 500$ - maximum 600 if I can get a better component that will last longer

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, videos stream - HD, multitasking (unzipping, burning cd, downloading film, game running in background)

Parts Not Required: (monitor, Optical, mouse, keyboard, speakers, network card (i plan on reusing the old one)

Parts Preferences: Read below in questions

Overclocking: Yes, but after 2-3 years use

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe, because in future i might want to upgrade, and there is not any downside of having one.

Monitor Resolution: 1024x768 at first (maybe 3-6 months) and later when I get a new monitor it will most certainly be 1920x1200 - BUT if FPS drop is too high in games I might use the old monitor instead.

Additional Comments: OK I have been reading alot on this site and on many others about AMD vs Intel, about graphic cards ATI - Nvidia, PSU importance, parts compatibility etc.

And I have a few questions:

1. The PC build below is from TH article "System Builder Marathon 500$". I choose that PC because it's been put together by an expert who has a lot more experience than many of us.

But my goal is to have a PC that will not just give a good performance at the present because the parts are compatible and nit-picked, but will also perform good after 4-5 years later.

What I want to know what is the longevity of that build - will it last long or is it only a short period high performance build?

2. From reading through I came to this conclusion - that the CPU and the Motherboard are the two most important parts of any build. My reasoning is this:

If for example I want to have a good PC after 10 years from now which parts would I choose best so I can upgrade in future:

- motherboard with newest chipset and good CPU,
- I can always upgrade the GPU,
- I can always buy more RAM if there are many slots (even if new type of RAM memory comes out, if i have 4 slots or more for DDR3 for example that would be 8 GB RAM memory.),
- I can buy higher-capacity HDDs even if new type comes out, 2 connectors for SATA 2 on the motherboard and at least 2 TB of hard disk space.
- And after all that I can still get a newer CPU which will be released for the new chipset I have on my motherboard, that way I can upgrade it in the future.

I am saying all of this because I have an old Pentium 4 1.8 ghz - GeForce mx 440 - 512 DDR1, 40GB HDD.

And this PC has been upgraded because when it was bought it had a good motherboard with good chipset,

-now it is still 1.8 GHZ processor,
-GeForce 5200 FX - upgraded later to GeForce 7300 GT.
-2 more slots for RAM which got it up to 1 GB.
-I got ATA 133 320 GB WD hard disk and everything was smooth but now even that is old.
-And although I rarely use the PC for gaming now, my much younger brother does, so I thought he should have new PC just like I had from 2001.

Is this conclusion wrong are CPU and motherboard (with chipset) the two most important parts and should I be looking to invest more than the below cheap 60 dollars motherboard?

3. Is Intel better in the long run then AMD?
____________________________________________________________

CPU AMD Phenom II X4 925

Motherboard ASRock M3A770DE

RAM G.Skill 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 (PC3 10600) Model F3-10666CL9D-4GBNS

Graphics Sapphire 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1 GB

Hard Drive Samsung Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320 GB SATA 3Gb/s

Case Xigmatek Asgard II B/O CPC-T45UE-U01

Power Antec EarthWatts Green EA380D 380 W

The parts are from the article I mentioned and they can be easily found on most hardware parts online websites, but I plan on buying them locally because I am from Europe.

Any last tips, advices, anything is welcome.

Thanks in advance - I hope you will read through and answer. I value greatly your comments and advices, there are not many experts around here, otherwise I wouldn't bother writing on a forum. Your advices will greatly influence my decisions and choices.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 14, 2011 4:39:56 PM

Hi there. Welcome to the forums. First I'd like to talk about something. You specified that you want a gaming computer, for $500, that can run the latest games 8 years from now? I'm sorry, but that is going to be nigh on impossible.

You see, 8 years ago all we had was windows XP. Direct X 7 and 9 were prevalent. Now, there are games being released exclusively on dx10 and dx11, meaning old video cards are no longer compatible. Even the OS isn't compatible! I'm sorry, but im my opinion it's not going to be possible because of the way technology works. Maayyybee 5 years, maybe.

And you also state that you are using a 10 year old computer. That's great, but you still had to upgrade it over the years. You can expect the same with this computer. It will be full of old and outdated tech in 2-3 years.

With that being said, any computer you build now (as long as it has reasonable parts) should be able to keep up with games for at least 2 years.

And I notice you don't you already have OS. This essentially gives you $400, which is NOT enough.

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I hope it helps :) 
June 15, 2011 2:13:40 PM

I am sorry if I wrote it wrong but that is not what I meant. I don't plan to build a PC for 500-600$ that will run games after 10 years. I know that is hardly even possible for 2000$ PCs.

I know that it will run games for 2-3 years max and then FPS drop will be around 30 for the normal games. Games with heavy graphics requirment will have to be run on lower resolutions and with low settings to get to even 20-30 FPS.

But what I wanted to say is I need a PC that will have good life - that the parts will last long enough for example 10 years.

PC that might have a better motherboard and CPU just - to be able to upgrade it in future. Because if I get an LGA 775 chipset now with 500$ build for example that PC will be outdated soon.

And about the OS - I didn't think that was necessary to mention since the "how to thread" didn't mention it also. I can simply use my old OS XP SP3 upgraded so it won't be a problem.

Thanks for the advice.
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a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 15, 2011 6:07:34 PM

Ok, went a little over. This should be an excellent build, even BF3 ready most likely.

CPU: i3-2100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $125

Mobo: Gigabyte Z68: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $130

HDD: Seagate Barracuda http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $40

RAM: G.skill ripjaws 1333MHz http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $42

PSU: XFX 650w modular http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $90

Case: Xigmatek Asgard II http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $30

GPU: XFX 6870 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $185

That comes to $640 in my cart.

I hope it helps!
June 15, 2011 8:46:52 PM

Striker thanks for your quick reply.

I have been reading some of your suggestions on other topics. And your suggestions seem pretty good, and the askers are more or less leaning towards your suggestions than the others.

Obviously you have experience.

That's why I think you would be the best person to ask this.

Now when I am buying something I try not to rush things.

I don't think there is future proof build - because all get outdated after several years. But a PC that will be upgradeable is what I want.

Your CPU recommendation is on the chart of May for best CPUs for the money on TH article's page.

"the budget Core i3-2100 is a surprisingly capable force in the gaming arena, able to beat the powerful quad-core CPUs that have traditionally dominated this price segment. And with budget LGA 1155-based motherboards readily available below $70, this processor is a great starting point for folks who want to enjoy fast gaming now with an option to upgrade to Core i5 or i7 CPUs in the future."

And I have compared this "Intel Core i3-2100" with the "Intel Core i5-2400" - the next in line which is recommended on anandtech.com

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/289?vs=363

I haven't been following chipsets technology recently. But I think the AM2 for AMD processors and the LGA 775 for Intel chipsets were and are still used today, there are a lot of good processors for these chipsets so anyone who has bought motherboard with LGA 775 back in 2005 will be able to upgrade to much better CPU or not?

What are the today's substitutes for these 2 very popular chipsets?

Also I read an article about 2 SLI graphic cards versus 1 single graphic card, and the 2 cheaper ones outperform the more expensive one at least in games.

And in future I might want to get another graphic card as a way of upgrading. I see that the motherboard supports ATI CrossFireX on on the PCI x16 slot with x4 speed.
___________________________________________________________

If you remove the DVD burner - which i listed previously as an unnecessary component. And also replace the 1TB HDD with 500 GB one.

And to that add a 50$ more to the overall budget for a better motherboard.

Now I wanted to ask you:

1. Can I get a better motherboard -

why: as I said in future - I will most certainly upgrade the PC with newer parts - that is after 2-3 years of use and after that I plan on overclocking if possible.

So a slightly better motherboard for

- overclocking in future (3-4 years from now)
- better speed gain of the Crossfire technology - maybe more PCI slots
- other additional features (one in particular which I am interested in if it will support old DDR2 ram sticks - and an old ATA 133 connector?) if these are too specific then i wouldn't sacrifice something new just to have them.
_________________________________________________________

Why on tom's hardware on 500$ budget machines - they always put an AMD processor?

Ok thats all. I hope to hear from you soon.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 16, 2011 12:27:37 AM

Ok, huge post. Sorry if I miss some stuff.

LGA 775 processors are slow/expensive. No use upgrading really.

AM2/775 are last gen. The current gen is LGA 1155 and AM3/AM3+

With the i3-2100, there is no room to overclock. It doesn't have the capability.


If you want to SLI or Xfire, you need a better mobo. This one is micro ATX, so a little cramped.

If you want to do dual cards, you probably need a case with better ventilation.

You don't want DDR2. OLD OLD OLD! Right now, it's like $40 for 4GB DDR3. It's significantly faster, so just get it.

If you want an old IDE connector, there are many IDE to USB adaptors out there. But I will warn you, DO NOT use IDE as a boot drive. It's SLOW.

And they had an AMD processor in the last budget build because I believe Sandy Bridge was not fully deployed yet, meaning it was untested tech. Better to be safe. Plus Sandy Bridge probably costed more.

Let me know what you think of my answers. I'll get back to you soon!
June 16, 2011 3:03:14 AM

Your answers clarify things for me. Thank you very much again.

Can you please in your configuration you posted in this topic - tweak it a bit and put in a better motherboard. Remove that DVD RW from the build and reduce the HDD space to 500 GB.

That should be 30$ from the parts and + 50$ increase in budget = 70$ - So for 70 $ more can you put some other better motherboard with the same processor?

If possible I want it to support SLI or Xfire so I can upgrade it in future.

Waiting for your reply impatiently.
___________________________________________________________

If this works well, after I buy the final parts and put together the system I will post pictures here if possible.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 16, 2011 3:17:07 AM

Edited. Went over budget, but it's fully SLI/CrossfireX capable. Had to swap PSU for one with correct connectors.

EDITED AGAIN: Put in better case. Put in better GPU, was able to fit it with budget. And you can easily go 1TB, the Spinpoint f3 is $10 more. But whatevs.
June 17, 2011 3:08:36 PM

I have been checking stores and so far 3 of the components I found just as the same as you suggested.

166$ GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3
150$ Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz
52$ Seagate Barracuda ST3500413AS 500GB

The other componets I have had more trouble:

GPU: XFX 6870 - can I instead use the same graphics made from Sapphire?
________________________________________________________

PSU: XFX 650w modular - I have hard time finding parts made from XFX - so could this PSU be used instead

Corsair TX Series, 650 Watt, ATX, PS/2, Power Supply, CMPSU-650TXEU?
________________________________________________________

Or if it's not too much of a trouble just find one on the list below - the site is not in english but the model's names are universal. And there are prices in euros too.

http://www.set.com.mk/setClient/productgroups.asp?group...
____________________________________________________________

For RAM i might find G.Skill but it might be harder - can i instead use Kingston HyperX 2x2GB ?

And for case I will try searching abit more.

Thanks a lot so far.
a b B Homebuilt system
a b 4 Gaming
June 17, 2011 3:33:03 PM

Ahh ok. Those components are a bit overpriced, but not real bad.

A Sapphire 6870 is fine.

And yes, the Corsair TX 650 is your bet option.

For ram, anything will work from Kingston, G.Skill, Corsair, Crucial, Patriot, PNY, or Mushkin will work. You want it to be a 2x2GB kit, rated for 1600MHz.

!