PC design based on 500$ build articles.

Approximate Purchase Date: December
Budget Range: 600-700 After Rebates
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, watching movies, surfing the web
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
Preferred Website(s) for Parts:,, any big box store.
Country of Origin: United States.
Parts Preferences: Intel Sandy Bridge CPU is a strong preference, all other parts are negotiable.
Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Probably not.
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: A friend and I have recently undertook the effort to design a cheap gaming computer for him. Neither of us has had any part of building a computer in the last decade so we've been out of our depth since day one.

After a few weeks of exploring the internet we found Tom's hardware and began to browse the MANY forums and articles on different gaming computer parts. While we've improved in leaps and bounds a ten year gap in knowledge is hard to overcome and a recent bad experience with AMD chips has left me leaning towards Intel.

Earlier today my friend found the articles on 500$ gaming PC's. Now our budget is a little higher than that and over clocking isn't something we're considering for our first computer building attempt even though it's suppose to be much easier now a days. So here's my question. If we were to mix and match parts from the two most recent 500$ articles we get something like the list below.

Now if we were to spend 100-200$ more on this setup where should it go? Should we upgrade to an i5? A stronger GPU? More Ram? A sturdier mother board? An extra Video card? We're the blind leading the blind here.

Any advice from specific parts to what order the cash should be distributed would be greatly appreciated.

CPU Intel Core i3-2100 $125
CPU Cooler Intel boxed heatsink/fan $0

Motherboard ASRock H61M-VS $60

RAM Crucial Ballistix sport 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR3-1333 BL2KIT25664BA133 $25

Graphics Sapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB $170

Hard Drive Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500 GB SATA 6.0Gb/s $45

Case Xigmatek Asgard II B/S CPC-T45UE-U01 $30

Power Antec EarthWatts Green EA430D 430 W $44

Optical Samsung 22x DVD Burner SATA Model SH-222AB $19

Total $518
4 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    Well obviously since you list purchase date in december, a lot of things can change in between, so you are best off asking again at that point.

    However to your questions on where to spend the extra 100-200, it comes down to a few choices on what you want, i'll list a few options.
    Generally it's either go all out on more gaming performance or expandability. PSU, HDD, Memory and Case give the least performance in actual gaming.
    Since 4GB is enough for most things. And HDD speed is not that crucial once you are in the game.

    Roughly in the order of usefulness

    GPU: ATI 6950 or Nvidia GTX560Ti +$40 - Solid boost to framerates, should make things playable on high settings at 1920x1080

    CPU: i5 2400 +$65 - Solid boost to performance with 4 Cores

    Mobo: Asrock Z68 Extreme 3 Gen3 + $65 ( To enable Crossfire / SLI also better for future upgradeability )

    PSU: Watch for sales on good PSU's you can generally get SLI capable PSU's 750W range for a good price +$45
    Or a solid 650W units in the $50 to $60 range. - quality PSU always helps the machine run smoother and provides good power to the components

    Case: Antec 300 Illusion +$15 when on sale. If you actually have money right now I would recommend pulling the trigger on it, it is a complete STEAL at the $44.99 ( with CC ) it is on sale at right now at Great airflow, spaceous and comes with 4 adjustable fans included.

    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB +$20 - Larger, faster, more reliable HDD

    Memory: 2x4GB 1.5V CAS9 1600Mhz kit + $30 ( or 1333Mhz if using the H61 mobo ) ( or +$5 for a CAS9 1.5V 1600Mhz 2x2GB kit with the Z68 mobo )

    Just my 2 cents on the matter. If you can find combo sales on the items listed above you can of course save a bit more and maybe fit more into the build.
  2. Thank you for that advice. I think the first three would probably give us a significant improvement in the future proofing of the design. The build might be earlier than December but that's not very likely. We might put it off till January and see if any prices drop for the Christmas season.
  3. Looks good enough to me. We'll see in 3 months if better options aren't available though.
  4. Best answer selected by Johnzy.
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