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Best Gaming System for $1500

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June 29, 2011 7:57:06 PM

Hey guys and gals,

Long time user of Tom's Hardware but first time forum post. I'm a medical student looking to build a gaming system this summer. It's my first build from scratch but it seemed like a fun challenge for the summer plus gaming really helps de-stress after a long day of research, lectures, and clinic. I'd really appreciate the community's input regarding the components I've selected. The set up I have is literally a few cents under my $1500 cap so if you recommend a part that is better but more expensive than one I have listed please be sure to list another part that I can get cheaper to keep under the $1500 limit because obviously I understand that there are better components out there looking at things individually but when building a system you have to compromise in some places to get better performance elsewhere right?

My intentions for this system are for it to serve as a reliable, high-performance gaming rig. Eventually, I want to triple monitor and get a second card. And yes, being my first build, I do like the cheesy LED lights on stuff. When I turn this thing on, I want my room to light up like the fourth of July :)  That actually isn't that important to me, but my point is that I'm not specifically looking for low-profile components.

Prices listed from newegg.com
Processor: $219.99 Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor BX80623I52500K
Motherboard: $179.99 ASUS P8P67 PRO (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
Graphics Card: $279.99 SAPPHIRE FleX 100312FLEX Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with ...
Power Source: $129.99 Rosewill BRONZE Series RBR1000-M 1000W Continuous@40°C, 80Plus Bronze Certified,Modular Cable Design,Active PFC"Compatible ...
Memory: $79.99 Kingston HyperX T1 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3T1K2/8GX
Storage: $109.98 (For two in RAID 0) SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
DVD/CD Drive: $19.99 ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
Case: $159.99 Antec Twelve Hundred V3 Black Steel ATX Full Tower Unbeatable Gaming Case
Monitor: $199.99 SAMSUNG BX2331 Glossy Black 23" Full HD LED Backlight LCD Monitor Slim Design
Keyboard: $59.99 Logitech G110 Black USB Wired LED Backlighting Gaming Keyboard
Mouse: $59.99 Logitech G9x Black Two modes scroll USB Wired Laser Gaming Mouse

Total Cost: $1499.88 < $1500 limit

Thanks in advance for all your time and advice.

More about : gaming system 1500

June 29, 2011 8:13:43 PM

You only need a 750 watt psu maybe 850. If you plan to OC the CPU you will need to get a Cpu cooler.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 29, 2011 8:18:55 PM

Rosewill doesn't have the best reputation as a PSU maker. and 1000 watts is way overkill. I would recommend a 700-750 watt unit from Corsair, Seasonic, Antec, PCP&C, or Enermax.
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June 29, 2011 10:08:34 PM

Thank you so much for your input guys, especially for the combo deal on the board and processor I have listed!

If you don't mind, I do have some questions. Specifically, I've heard that if I want to crossfire having only a 750W power supply won't be enough. Is this true?

Also, my understanding is that a RAID 0 setup will offer me better performance than a single drive. Is it worth it for me to give up the RAID 0 setup to get that combo deal with the 1TB Samsung and Corsair 750W PSU?
a b B Homebuilt system
June 29, 2011 10:16:29 PM

750w is enough for 6950 crossfire.
well you wouldnt have to give up the raid setup to get the combo deal. you could get the combo deal and then you buy the other one separately..... i still wouldnt recommend it though, i dont think the performance increase is worth the extra money or the extra risk, the drive is very fast as is.
June 29, 2011 10:55:24 PM

What are the risks associated with RAID 0?
June 29, 2011 10:55:51 PM

Ok first of all, as far as the PSU goes, if you are definitely planning on going crossfire or SLI with 6950s, you have a quad core processor, 8gb of ram, and multiple hard drives, I would say you want an 800 or 850 watt PSU. That should be quite cheaper than the 1000 watt one you have. And I agree with the prior post about Rosewill not having the best rep when it comes to PSUs ( or anything else for that matter).

Secondly, not doing RAID because of the increased "RISK" is a statement that people have been repeating for ages yet most people don't even understand why. You would be surprised how many people believe that RAIDing drives actually increases their likelihood to fail, and the way you are phrasing it makes it sound like that. THAT being said, I would not get 2 1tb spinpoints and buy just one and get a small 60-120gb SSD for your boot drive, and use the 1tb for storage. These days with a 1500 price point, an SSD is a MUST.

Other than that, everything else looks good. If you just go slightly cheaper on the motherboard (still with the same specs), get the 750-800 watt PSU, and just 1 spinpoint you will have plenty of money for a 64gb SSD.

EDIT: I also agree you should by a heatsink/fan cpu cooler. The stock one is pretty terrible. Even if you arent planning on overclocking much, at least buy a $20-30 one.
June 29, 2011 10:58:03 PM

thekansasmagic said:
What are the risks associated with RAID 0?


There are no "additional risks" with RAID0. What the previous poster was referring to is this: let's say the average fail rate of a spinpoint drive is 10%. If you combine 2 and let them act as 1 drive, you just "doubled" the fail rate. This is true because they each could fail, and each have 10% chance to fail. If one of the raided drives fails, you lose all the data on both drives if you are in a Raid 0 configuration.
a b B Homebuilt system
June 29, 2011 11:06:14 PM

wow i didnt realize i could imply so much with the words "extra risk". raid 0 doubles the risk of data loss due to drive failure because you are storing non-redundant data across 2 drives.
June 29, 2011 11:09:13 PM

I wasn't saying that what you said was wrong, I was just saying that most people have the idea of fail rates of raid for the wrong reasons.

I just wanted to make it clear that it doesnt increase the chance that a drive will die, it does increase the chance that you will lose data.
June 29, 2011 11:26:46 PM
June 29, 2011 11:29:19 PM

The cheapest SSD I can find (again using newegg.com) that will have enough space for Windows 7 64-bit is the following:
OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30GXXX 2.5" 30GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If I keep just one of the Samsung drives I have listed above, this might work.

Can anyone speak as to the quality of this set up? Is it the best option for my minimal storage budget? Are the parts resonably reliable? What can I expect performance-wise relative to the previous setup?

Most importantly, are there any other SSDs or HDDs out there that I may have missed that would be better value-for-money?

Again, thank you immensely to all of you and the time you've taken to offer your advice.
June 29, 2011 11:33:15 PM

You might not have seen my post before you posted, the SSD I recommended is a 64gb, a 30 is tough to have as your primary drive.
June 29, 2011 11:35:05 PM

I don't think a gaming keyboard is really necessary to many people. You could just get a cheap wired or wireless keyboard and that should be enough really.
June 30, 2011 12:02:34 AM

jmills204, thank you for the detailed list. I really appreciate the effort. It's also good to see that not all of the parts I picked were terrible :) 

I saw that you suggested a Z68 chipset. I've done a resonable amount of research and I'm pretty convinced I won't take advantage of the z68 features just yet seeing as how I don't do any real encoding. I'd rather spend the money on a reliable p67 chipset. By the time I'll need z68 features, there will surely be a larger selection of boards out there with more mature software and reliable hardware. I may be wrong about this, feel free to convince me otherwise. It's always useful to get other people's opinions.

As for the SSD, it's not that I don't plan to get one. Just that now they seem to expensive. And I don't really want to use an SSD as a cache on the z68 chipset since when I upgrade to an SSD I'll just get one big enough to use as my primary drive (which all the stuff I've read says that putting the programs directly on the SSD is better than caching). Currently, my concern is basically with the idea of having an SSD as a primary. While I'd love to have that, even the 64GB you recommended (which I agree is a great brand and drive) would leave me hard pressed for space after Windows 7 and all the other programs like Office and the games themselves. For constricted storage budgets, it seems to me that the only way an SSD can be incorporated is if it is used solely as a boot drive for lightning fast start times. The rest of the programs will have to fall to the HDD. This is why I'm inclined to just get a smaller SSD for booting and avoid the RAID 0 architecture (as per the recommendations recieved thus far) and keep only 1 of the Samsung drives.

Let me know what you guys think.
June 30, 2011 12:07:26 AM

mrjellybean said:
I don't think a gaming keyboard is really necessary to many people. You could just get a cheap wired or wireless keyboard and that should be enough really.

Absolutely valid point. However, its just one of those silly things that I personally value. It's a "cool-ness" factor for me. Plus, once I have it, it'll be there for the next build. Thanks for the input though.
June 30, 2011 12:34:01 AM

Just wanted to add that I'll probably be buying a CPU cooler as per the recommendations. Maybe a Noctua? I hear they are good.
June 30, 2011 12:47:13 AM

I only picked z68 because it is the newest chipset, you can find a p67 at the same price. I have a p67 personally. As for the ssd, I will try and convince you one last time. An install of win7 x64 takes about 8 gb without hibernate and sys restore on. That leaves about 56 gigs for programs and games. You only need games and intensive programs like photoshop installed on your ssd, and you can keep your music movies etc on the 1tb. You want the ssd to be your primary drive. It's not about just booting quickly it's about always having lightning fast speeds. 64g is plenty, you can only have 3 or so games at a time, even with office and Photoshop installed. 30gb is not bog enough to do this
June 30, 2011 1:04:49 AM

thekansasmagic said:
Just wanted to add that I'll probably be buying a CPU cooler as per the recommendations. Maybe a Noctua? I hear they are good.

Depends what your price point is. I personally think zalman are the best but they are $50-70
!