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[Solved] Advice on a $545 build for a budget gaming PC

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July 8, 2011 6:22:19 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: in the next week

Budget Range: ~$500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, movies, web surfing, word processing

Parts Not Required: OS, monitor, and peripherals

Preferred Websites for Parts: newegg.com, amazon.com, tigerdirect.com

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: AMD build; ATI graphics

Overclocking: probably not

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: This is a new system for my brother; he will primarily use it for gaming but also for general use (internet, word processing). It will run with Windows 7 home premium, and have Microsoft Office 2010 for school. The games I know he will play include World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, Heroes of Might and Magic 6, Diablo III. I prefer new parts and will do some price checking but have linked everything here to Newegg.com.

This will be my first try at building a computer. I have done a lot of reading and put together the following build (some of my reasoning is provided in parenthesis; feel free to correct it):

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 925; 2.8Ghz, $90 (a price compromise on the X4 955)

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2P AM3+ 760G M-ATX, $65 (lots of connections, 4 memory slots; great price for AM3+ and SATA3 for future upgrades; crossfire at this price-range is lousy anyway; will this support the new Buldozer cores?)

GPU: XFX HD-685X-ZNFR Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16; HDCP Ready, $170 (step down from Radeon 5850 which may not be available; chose over Radeon 5770 because of the latter's age and much smaller bandwidth [76.8 vs. 128 Gb/s])

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333MHz, $40 (what it needs; no more, no less)

HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s (Bare Drive), $65 (didn't want to skimp; an extra $5 added .5TB and 16MB to the Cache)

Optical: ASUS 24X DVD Burner (OEM), $20 (really basic, but cheap)

Case: Rosewill Blackbone Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower, $45 (seems like a great budget case that should hold everything)

PSU: Rosewill Green Series RG530-S12 530W Continuous @40°C, 80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail, Active PFC, $50 (matches case; over 500W; 80 Plus certified)

Total: $545

My main questions are:
1) system compatibility: do these parts work together?
2) bang for the buck: are there improvements you could suggest? (note, I'm already over my target)
3) general advice: is there anything missing, or parts that won't preform well because of the rest of the system?
4) upgradeability: any pointers? I would like a system that he can use as-is for 3-4 years but has upgrade potential.

Thanks in advance for the help!
~ AaFrancis
July 8, 2011 7:05:22 AM

That cpu is an oem, meaning that it does not come with a cooler so you will have to buy an after market one. I would go for the 955be as it is 20 bucks more and comes with a fan.
July 8, 2011 10:39:03 AM

Yeah, do the switch to 955 BE or 965BE i think with the current sales on newegg the 965BE is the same price as the 955BE.
Otherwise you are at pretty much the best bang for buck area with everything.
Related resources
July 8, 2011 11:50:52 AM

do you mind intel? because an i3 should also fit the budget, can't remember the link but if you can budget a phenom x4 you can budget an i3...
July 8, 2011 4:10:57 PM

But if you run anything else while gaming the 4 cores of the phenom II makes it a nicer experience overall. Even if in strict game vs game benchmarks the i3 is better.
July 8, 2011 4:46:53 PM

Yeah, from what I've seen, Intel is competitive for budget systems but really comes into its own at a higher price bracket. I also just know a lot less about it since most people post and talk about AMD for budget PCs (same reason I'm not looking at GeForce GPUs right now; I know a lot less about their design and nomenclature and at least for this summer, people are talking more about Radeons).

Thanks for the heads-up on the CPU; I'll switch that part out.

~ AaFrancis
July 8, 2011 5:44:06 PM

I don't know whether you will like this intel build or not,but believe me if gaming is your priority no amd processor matches it at this price segment (link 1)

CPU & Motherboard : $175- i3-2100 & Biostar H61M (decent motherboard)

RAM : $35- Gskill NS 2X 2GB

Power Supply : $45- Corsair Builder CX430

Graphic Card: $175- Sapphire Radeon 6870

HDD : $55- Samsung Spinpoint 1TB (for a short time only!!!)

Case: $35- Sentley Black

Optical Drive: $19- LiteOn

Total (Excluding Rebate) : 539 USD

Rebates : 20 USD

If this goes over budget possible downgrades include :
1. Get 500GB HDD. Save $15.
2. Get a HIS Radeon 6850 for $160.Save $15.
3. Get a cheaper case. Save $5.
That should save enough.
Hope that helps.
July 8, 2011 6:28:31 PM

the spinpoint is actually down to $49 tomorrow and Sunday :) 
July 8, 2011 9:31:36 PM

@1rkrage: thanks for the tip!

@z_4: I'm willing to look at it.
The comparison between the cards does seem decisive, and since this system is not for me, I probably won't try to overclock it later.
Do you know why it out-performs in gaming? Is it the integrated GPU?
Do you think it will hold its own when the new AMD line comes out? (speculation until its actually here, I know)

The mobo in that particular combo is not as appealing because it has only 2 memory slots no SATA3. Might be worth $20 savings, but can you recommend an alternative?

Clarification, from your build, it seems that the only things that needs to change between an AMD and Intel system is the CPU/mobo combo. Is that correct?

Thanks,
~ AaFrancis
July 8, 2011 10:05:58 PM

I would suggest a different PSU, as you don't want that go on you after spending the money on a new build. Reputable brands include Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, etc, in case you wanted to look around your self.

I might check out these as possible alternatives (if the Xigmatek is in stock in time)

I know that AMD says the 6850 needs 500W minimum, but this PSU should power it just fine, as teh 6850 doesn't pull much power at all-http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2011-gaming-graphics...

XFX 450W (its has a rebate to keep your out of pocket the same)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Xigmatek 500W (good reviews or even its little brother 400W which has excellent reviews)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 9, 2011 1:32:27 AM

AaFrancis said:
@1rkrage: thanks for the tip!

@z_4: I'm willing to look at it.
The comparison between the cards does seem decisive, and since this system is not for me, I probably won't try to overclock it later.
Do you know why it out-performs in gaming? Is it the integrated GPU?
Do you think it will hold its own when the new AMD line comes out? (speculation until its actually here, I know)

The mobo in that particular combo is not as appealing because it has only 2 memory slots no SATA3. Might be worth $20 savings, but can you recommend an alternative?

Clarification, from your build, it seems that the only things that needs to change between an AMD and Intel system is the CPU/mobo combo. Is that correct?

Thanks,
~ AaFrancis


Cheapest suggetion will be Asrcock H61US3 worth $75That will push the budget up by $25.
i3.2100 outperforms AMD prcessors in gaming due to its better architecture. THe integrated GPU in i3-2100 has nothing to do with it. In some cases it is seen that the AMD processors hold back performance, but intel i3-21000 does not.

Until there are reviews of upcoming AMD processors, we can never be definitive, till then its intel all the way(in gaming).

Generally microATX board do no have more than two memory slots, two are sufficient. So can't help much. About SATA 3, you won't be needing it unless you plan to add SSD. About USB 3.0, there are not may flash drives now that may require it, also cost is somewhat prohibitive. By the time they become widespread, you should be in a position to upgrade to a new system.

Only thing that needs to be changed is CPU/Mobo.
July 9, 2011 2:42:12 AM

Thanks, aebome. I thought that the reviews for this PSU weren't that bad, but looking at them and other Rosewill products, there were far too many failures. I've found an Antec PSU, and an Antec case both in my range that are even better. :) 

~ AaFrance
July 9, 2011 5:55:23 AM

if you have the money what about a 560ti? it'll give you cuda and Physx
July 9, 2011 7:49:26 PM

@wenqi: nice, but over $200 definitely pushes my budget too much.
______

So I woke up this morning thinking I would go with AMD because it is more versatile with quad cores and double the caches; and let's face it, my brother's into gaming but not the benchmark games. Then I realized that I had made a mistake on the MB and to get the same upgrade features I want (eps. forward compatibility on the CPU and SATA3), the AMD setup would run at least $25 more. Hmm, more money for less gaming power ...

So here is an updated Intel build; price tag pushed (painfully) up to $610:

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100
MB: ASRock H61DE/S3 LGA 1155 Intel H61
RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1333MHz
GPU: XFX HD-685X-ZNFR Radeon HD 6850 1GB
HD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache
Case: Antec TWO HUNDRED S Black ATX Mid Tower
PSU: Antec BP550 Plus 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.2 80 PLUS
CD/DVD: ASUS 24X DVD Burner (OEM)

Any final comments? Anything on this build going to bottleneck the rest?

Thanks as always,
AaFrancs
July 9, 2011 8:00:07 PM

Looks good to me, and once you don't need it for gaming anymore it will be a decent HTPC :) 
July 10, 2011 4:40:59 AM

another thing to look at is a 5850, uses more power but is better than a 6850, it is also cheaper. IMO you should look at the 6870, but like you said, it might not fit your budget
July 10, 2011 4:50:36 AM

also your mobo isn't the best one for its price, IMO i think this is a much better one, but it doesn't have USB 3.0 but it gives you xfire (for when you get a better PSU) $79 @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

if you want USB 3.0 have a look at this @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

but have a look at this, i'm sure you could get a better H61 or H67 board at a lower price but it offers z68 for $99 @ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 10, 2011 6:13:28 AM

@wenqi: the 6850 on Newegg is $170 but after mir right now it's down to $140. Still, if you could point me to a 5850 for even $170 I'd consider buying it. I think that card was so popular that it has sold out everywhere.

Thanks for the suggestions on motherboards!

~ AaFrancis
July 11, 2011 5:24:29 AM

Hey, guys. Thanks for all the help. I ordered all my parts (minus extra cables) yesterday and will put the computer together in two weeks when I go home. I appreciate all the advice and insight.

Peace,
Aafrancis
!