~$500 Gaming PC. Should I use the Mar. 2011 SBM?

Hey everyone. After some time contemplating, I've decided to upgrade my PC. In attempt to get the best tips/advice/answers from you guys, here's some info:

I use the computer for general purposes and casual gaming. I'm not dedicated to playing in MAX settings; I can suffice with medium-high with 40+ FPS. Currently the games I'm playing are: Aion, TF2, LoL, & Killing Floor. In the future I do plan on playing Diablo III, TERA, & Guild Wars 2.

I'm trying to get parts that can lead up to future upgrades. I plan to gradually upgrade my computer every couple years to stay up to date. Will following the $500 March 2011 build allow for future upgrades? Is it better than the build I looked out for myself?

Approximate Purchase Date: Sometime around early August.

Budget Range: ~$500 before rebates/shipping.

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, DVD drive, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, HDD, PSU: Currently using: Corsair CX430.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I've only looked at Newegg for parts. If there are cheaper/better alternatives, that would be wonderful!

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: Cheaper, yet reliable parts. Currently I'm aiming at an AMD build because those seem more suited for my budget.

Overclocking: Possibly in the future.

SLI or Crossfire: Most likely not. Seems overkill for me.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I would love to be able to upgrade my PC gradually without having to replace many of the main components (Motherboard, RAM, CPU, etc).

Parts I picked out myself: //EDIT Changed build with suggestions from posts below.
CPU: Phenom II X4 955 BE - $119.99
Motherboard: Asrock 970 Extreme 4 - $104.99
RAM: CORSAIR XMS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 1.5v CAS9 1600 - $29.99 after MIR
GPU: SAPPHIRE 6870 w/ Shogun 2 - $159.99 after MIR
Case: Rosewill Challenger - $49.99

Cost: $475.58 after MIR, $505.58 before MIR. -- $10.63 shipping applied.

So with all that out of the way, would it be better for me to just follow the March 2011 $500 build & cut out the stuff I don't need? (HDD, DVD drive, etc.) Or should I go with what I have here & your guys' suggestions?

Thanks in advance!
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  1. the sbm is different than a build guide and the parts are in fact chosen well before the date they are posted. you should be fine with the cx430.

    that ram isnt poorly priced, but there are definitely better deals out there:

    looks like a great build.
  2. Thanks for the info. Knowing I can save money by recycling my current PSU is reassuring.

    Also thanks for the link! Every little bit of savings helps my poor college soul out haha. I'll be looking for better deals on stuff until I finalize my options.

    Any other suggestions/advice/etc. is greatly appreciated! I especially need help with the Motherboard and if my current case is okay.
  3. Mobo:

    Consider changing the mobo to Asrock 970 Extreme 4 $104.99
    Will give you a chance to Crossfire in case you want to later on. Otherwise pretty much the same as the previously selected one.

    good choice

    there are actually quite a few choices now in this are, check what nice 1.5V CAS9 1333 or 1600Mhz kits happen to be on sale from Corsair, Gskill, Kingston or Mushkin and get one of those


    Now here is where it gets tricky. You can actually get a 6870 now for $155-160 after rebates, so while it might actually be worth it to go up by that much.
    Your PSU might not be able to handle it. As they generally want a 500W+ PSU.

    But a single 6850 should run great.

    Antec 300 illusion $69.99
    Quiet ( adjustable fans ), great airflow ( & 4 fans), fits up to 6870's just fine.


    Your PSU should work fine for a single 6850.
    There is a great deal on a Antec HCG-750 $94.99 ( before $25 MIR ) going on though so just thought i would mention it.

    Just to point it out I put together one with all the parts i listed, it came to $637.94 ( before $45 in MIR's )
    CPU: Phenom II x4 955 BE $119.99
    MB: Asrock 970 Extreme 4 $109.99
    Mem: Gskill sniper 2x4GB 1.5V 1600Mhz CAS9 $67.99
    PSU: Antec HCG-750 $94.99 ( before $25 MIR )
    CASE: Antec 300 Illusion $69.99
    GPU: Sapphire 6870 combo with Shogun 2 $179.99 ( before $20 MIR )

    It will let you add a 2nd 6870 for crossfire just by hooking it up. ( just some fruit for thought)

    Same parts otherwise except with a Sapphire 6850 and no PSU.
    Come to 527.95 (before $20 MIR ).
  4. For what its worth, I would suggest getting a new case, but as great as the Antec 300 Illusion is, you can save money by getting another one.

    The Rosewill Challenger is a great budget case that has been used by Tom's before, and is very well reviewed

    The other posters are right in that you can get better ram for the same or lower price. If you feel that you need 8GB, then this kit is better than the one you chose

    If you want to save even more and just use 4GB (which won't make as much difference as it might seem) then this is a great kit: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820211409

    As for you motherboard, I wouldn't bother with a crossfire board unless you are willing to buy a new PSU. While your current PSU is great for a single card option, you'd need a more powerful one for crossfire. As your current PSU is a good one, I would just save the money that would otherwise be spend on a more expensive motherboard and PSU and go with a single card option, for which the 6850 is a great choice (or even the 6870, which your PSU could handle fine, as your system will draw less than 400W at load.)

    Personally, I'd go with the 4GB of ram and use that saved money to get a 6870.
  5. Awesome stuff there guys. I appreciate all of the help. I've taken into consideration all of your comments and came up with this new build (also edited first post with):

    CPU: Phenom II X4 955 BE - $119.99
    Motherboard: Asrock 970 Extreme 4 - $104.99
    RAM: CORSAIR XMS 4GB (2 x 2GB) 1.5v CAS9 1600 - $29.99 after MIR
    GPU: SAPPHIRE 6870 w/ Shogun 2 - $159.99 after MIR
    Case: Rosewill Challenger - $49.99

    Cost: $475.58 after MIR, $505.58 before MIR. -- $10.63 shipping applied.

    Already looking better than my original build. I decided to go with a case since my budget allowed me to. Dropped down to 4GB of RAM rather than 8GB seeing as I can always upgrade it later if needed. I'll keep the motherboard for the future CrossFire capability. I read it can be a cheaper alternative to CrossFire rather than completely upgrade your GPU. (Can someone confirm this for me?) When that time comes, I'll invest in a new PSU as well.

    If there are any other suggestions/comments, please tell. I'm still going to wait about 2 weeks before I make my final purchase.
  6. Yes to the CF.
  7. Alright so so far I've kept the build the same. Can't find any better deals on the items at the moment, but I'm waiting until next Thursday to order.

    If I were planning on OCing the processor would you guys suggest getting an after market cooling fan or will the stock one suffice?

    Also if I could manage add another ~$100 to the budget, would there be any significant changes you guys would make? As always, any help is appreciated and thanks in advance.
  8. Get the 750W PSU, if you can spend an extra $100.
  9. Get the Hyper 212+ off Amazon.

    And get a LEPA 850w. It should be good.
  10. Ah, okay. I'll wait until I want to CrossFire until I buy a new PSU. Might be cheaper by then? Getting impatient so I'm gonna place an order tomorrow; can't wait to replace this ~5 year old PC.

    Here's the final build:
    CPU: Phenom II X4 955 BE - $109.99, $10 off promo
    Motherboard: Asrock 970 Extreme 4 - $104.99
    RAM: Kingston HyperX Blu 4GB (2 x 2GB) 1.65v CAS9 1600 - $32.99
    GPU: SAPPHIRE 6870 w/ Shogun 2 - $159.99 after MIR
    Case: Rosewill Challenger - $49.99

    Cost: $488.58 before MIR, $10.63 shipping applied.

    Thanks everyone for the help. Gonna start doing my research again on PCs and try to help others as well.
  11. Looks good.
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