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Need newbie advice and tips for gaming desktop build

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November 10, 2011 3:48:53 AM

Forgive me, I know nothing about building computers. I'm considering asking my dad to help me build a gaming desktop for my 16th birthday in 2012. I'd been hoping to save up for an Alienware desktop for a while, before I realized I could probably put together a similar computer for a little less money. If I ask my parents to chip in a little for the parts as my birthday gift, I figure I could end up saving about $500.

Considering I've never even used a gaming computer before, I'm not sure if my expectations are too high or too low. I'd like the computer to be able to handle a decent amount of multitasking easily and play games such as Minecraft, Amnesia, Team Fortress 2, etc. without lag. I'd like to be able to upgrade the computer in the future, possibly extending it's life by a few years. In short, I'd like it to perform better than our current Dell Inspiron 530 desktop, which has 4GB RAM, an Intel Core 2 Duo CPU E8300 2.83 GHz CPU, and an ATI Radeon HD 2400 graphics card.

I need advice on my computer build. As this is my first build, I'm not sure if all of the parts I've chosen are compatible. I need to know if I'm missing anything, if I have anything unnecessary, incompatible, insufficient... you get the picture. I'm lost. I'd also like to shave a $200-$300 off the total price, if possible. If there's anything I've chosen that you think could be downgraded without sacrificing much in performance, I'd be grateful for the advice.


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Approximate Purchase Date: early 2012

Budget Range: the lower the better, max around $1000

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, general internet use, streaming video, photo editing

Parts Not Required: n/a

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com, tigerdirect.com, amazon.com, open to suggestions

Country of Origin: US

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Possibly in the future

Monitor Resolution: no preference

Additional Comments: My build is below. Feel free to make any suggestions, as I really don't know what I'm doing.
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Motherboard: ASRock Z68 PRO3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $99.99

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I52500 - $209.99

RAM: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model CML8GX3M2A1600C9 - $48.99

Graphics Card: XFX HD-679X-ZDFC Radeon HD 6790 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - $129.99

Hard Drive: waiting for prices to return to normal

Power Supply: CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 650W ATX12V v2.31/ EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC High Performance Power Supply - $84.99

Case: ZALMAN Z9 Plus Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $69.99

CPU Cooler: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7 - $25.99

CD/DVD Drive: ASUS 24X DVD Burner - Bulk 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS - OEM - $19.99

Card Reader: Rosewill RCR-AK-IM5002 USB2.0 75 in 1 internal Card Reader w/ 3 ports USB2.0 Hub / eSATA port / Extra silver face plate / SATA Power - $19.99

Monitor: Acer S201HLbd Black 20" 5ms LED-Backlight LCD monitor 250 cd/m2 ACM 12,000,000:1 (1000:1) - $109.99

Wireless Adapter: TP-LINK TL-WN722N Wireless Adapter High Gain IEEE 802.11b/g/n USB 2.0 Up to 150Mbps Wireless Data Rates 64/128 bits WEP
WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK (TKIP/AES) - $18.99

Keyboard/Mouse: Logitech Wireless Combo MK260 920-002950 Black 8 Function Keys USB RF Wireless Standard Keyboard and Mouse - $24.99

OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM - 79.99


Total Price: $932.87 (newegg, tigerdirect, amazon)

Thanks in advance for any and all advice.
November 10, 2011 3:56:54 AM

You said "No" to overclocking is this a mistake? Besides that the build looks very solid and well balanced
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November 10, 2011 4:02:50 AM

Emelth said:
You said "No" to overclocking is this a mistake? Besides that the build looks very solid and well balanced

No, I don't plan on overclocking, though I suppose I might want to try in the future. To be honest, I'm afraid of damaging something if I overclock. :sweat:  At the moment, I'm too chicken to attempt that.
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Related resources
November 10, 2011 4:12:43 AM

Quote:
I'd been hoping to save up for an Alienware desktop for a while, before I realized I could probably put together a similar computer for a little less money.


You could actually put together a better system than anything you could get from Alienware for like 1/2 the cost. And you've actually chosen some really good components.

The only thing is I'd recommend Sapphire or XFX over HIS any day of the week. XFX's double lifetime warranty is one of the best on the market.

And for case suggestions for the price I'd go with the Cooler Master HAF 912, or the Antec 300 Illusion. If you want to pay a little bit more for the case, I can't recommend Corsair's cases high enough. The Carbide 400R is an excellent case for the price, it's only $99.

For PSU - I don't really like Antec PSUs, go with Corsair, Seasonic, or PC Power & Cooling, and you want at least a 650 watt for a Radeon 6950.

Quote:
To be honest, I'm afraid of damaging something if I overclock. :sweat:  At the moment, I'm too chicken to attempt that.


It can be pretty intimidating if you don't know what you're doing - but there's plenty of guides and forums out there that can help.
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November 10, 2011 4:41:06 AM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:
I'd been hoping to save up for an Alienware desktop for a while, before I realized I could probably put together a similar computer for a little less money.


You could actually put together a better system than anything you could get from Alienware for like 1/2 the cost. And you've actually chosen some really good components.

The only thing is I'd recommend Sapphire or XFX over HIS any day of the week. XFX's double lifetime warranty is one of the best on the market.

And for case suggestions for the price I'd go with the Cooler Master HAF 912, or the Antec 300 Illusion. If you want to pay a little bit more for the case, I can't recommend Corsair's cases high enough. The Carbide 400R is an excellent case for the price, it's only $99.

For PSU - I don't really like Antec PSUs, go with Corsair, Seasonic, or PC Power & Cooling, and you want at least a 650 watt for a Radeon 6950.

Quote:
To be honest, I'm afraid of damaging something if I overclock. :sweat:  At the moment, I'm too chicken to attempt that.


It can be pretty intimidating if you don't know what you're doing - but there's plenty of guides and forums out there that can help.

I'm taking your advice about the XFX and Cooler Master HAF 912. For the PSU, which of these would you choose (the XFX I'm looking at requires 500W or higher)?
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I might try overclocking once I'm comfortable with gaming computers. I figure I'll tackle one thing at a time, though.
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November 10, 2011 4:43:01 AM

I'd go with the PC Power & Cooling Silencer over anything else you have there, but get the 650 watt version if you plan on over-clocking or SLI/Crossfire - it will make it more future proof.
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November 10, 2011 2:40:19 PM

g-unit1111 said:
I'd go with the PC Power & Cooling Silencer over anything else you have there, but get the 650 watt version if you plan on over-clocking or SLI/Crossfire - it will make it more future proof.

I made the change to the build - I doubt if I ever overclock, but SLI might be a possibility in the future. Thanks for the advice.

Quote:
You could actually put together a better system than anything you could get from Alienware for like 1/2 the cost.

I wanted to ask you about this. I considered the Gateway FX6860-UR20P ($999.99) as a cheaper alternative to an Alienware desktop. Looking back at the specs, I've chosen a better graphics card and better RAM for my build, at the cost of the faster processor and larger hard drive. My build currently totals about $100 more than the Gateway, although I'd like to get the final build back to $800-$900 if possible. Then there's the iBuypower Gamer Power BTS11, which is very similar to my build, priced $140 less.
Although I'd really like to have the experience of putting the computer together myself, I'm wondering if it might be cheaper and smarter (better chance of the computer actually working) to just go with an inexpensive pre-built computer.

Edit: I suppose I have to take into account that those computer don't come with a monitor. I suppose my build is a bit better for the price, then. Not as much as I was expecting, but a little.
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November 10, 2011 3:19:38 PM

Quote:
I wanted to ask you about this. I considered the Gateway FX6860-UR20P ($999.99) as a cheaper alternative to an Alienware desktop. Looking back at the specs, I've chosen a better graphics card and better RAM for my build, at the cost of the faster processor and larger hard drive. My build currently totals about $100 more than the Gateway, although I'd like to get the final build back to $800-$900 if possible. Then there's the iBuypower Gamer Power BTS11, which is very similar to my build, priced $140 less.
Although I'd really like to have the experience of putting the computer together myself, I'm wondering if it might be cheaper and smarter (better chance of the computer actually working) to just go with an inexpensive pre-built computer.


Gateway is not the brand they used to be, same with Dell. In the late 90's / early 2000's, both brands were king but that was a few years before DIY systems were cheap and available to everyone. The thing with a lot of these big box companies is that the hardware they include most of the time is junk, proprietary and very watered down for a desktop system. Then they sell you their "we come to your house and fix your computer for you" support systems - which are also junk and a lot of the times they don't really do anything that you can't do yourself (*COUGH* Geek Squad *COUGH*). Most motherboards they include use built-in graphics instead of a dedicated GPU, the BIOS in the motherboard doesn't support overclocking or SLI/Crossfire, they give you power supplies that are very low wattage and likely to fail in the first year - and you can't get replacements for them as easily as you would with a full ATX desktop system.

And definitely stay away from IBUYPOWER - everything I've read about them on this site tends to put them on the negative side, especially in the support department. Definitely go with building your own system - it will be far more worth it in the long run.
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November 10, 2011 3:42:02 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:
I wanted to ask you about this. I considered the Gateway FX6860-UR20P ($999.99) as a cheaper alternative to an Alienware desktop. Looking back at the specs, I've chosen a better graphics card and better RAM for my build, at the cost of the faster processor and larger hard drive. My build currently totals about $100 more than the Gateway, although I'd like to get the final build back to $800-$900 if possible. Then there's the iBuypower Gamer Power BTS11, which is very similar to my build, priced $140 less.
Although I'd really like to have the experience of putting the computer together myself, I'm wondering if it might be cheaper and smarter (better chance of the computer actually working) to just go with an inexpensive pre-built computer.


Gateway is not the brand they used to be, same with Dell. In the late 90's / early 2000's, both brands were king but that was a few years before DIY systems were cheap and available to everyone. The thing with a lot of these big box companies is that the hardware they include most of the time is junk, proprietary and very watered down for a desktop system. Then they sell you their "we come to your house and fix your computer for you" support systems - which are also junk and a lot of the times they don't really do anything that you can't do yourself (*COUGH* Geek Squad *COUGH*). Most motherboards they include use built-in graphics instead of a dedicated GPU, the BIOS in the motherboard doesn't support overclocking or SLI/Crossfire, they give you power supplies that are very low wattage and likely to fail in the first year - and you can't get replacements for them as easily as you would with a full ATX desktop system.

And definitely stay away from IBUYPOWER - everything I've read about them on this site tends to put them on the negative side, especially in the support department. Definitely go with building your own system - it will be far more worth it in the long run.

That was my problem with the Gateway - we had a Gateway desktop when I was really little, a Gateway 2000, I believe, and I'm not sure I trust brands that seem to disappear after a decade.
The last four computers (2 desktops, 2 laptops) we've purchased have been Dells. I used to think they were the best computers in the world for the price, but we seem to have problems with them slowing down on even light workloads within a year after we buy them. I'm hoping if I build a computer I can avoid that if the hardware is more powerful in the first place and if I can upgrade the hardware periodically.
Thank you so much for all the advice. The only other thing I want to ask is if there's anything you think I could cut back on to lower the price a bit. I'm hesitant to go with any CPU, RAM, or graphics card with lower performance than the ones I've chosen. I found a better hard drive for the price on amazon.com, and I'm not sure I'm going to get a lower price without dropping below 500GB. Of course, I can always add a hard drive later.
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November 10, 2011 4:05:52 PM

Quote:
That was my problem with the Gateway - we had a Gateway desktop when I was really little, a Gateway 2000, I believe, and I'm not sure I trust brands that seem to disappear after a decade.


My first computer was a really old Mac Performa (which I still have - it makes a nice paper weight :lol:  ), but then my first actual PC was a Gateway 2000, they were a great brand at the time but you are right to not trust brands that haven't been around for a decade. They really haven't been the same since merging with Acer.

Quote:
The last four computers (2 desktops, 2 laptops) we've purchased have been Dells. I used to think they were the best computers in the world for the price, but we seem to have problems with them slowing down on even light workloads within a year after we buy them. I'm hoping if I build a computer I can avoid that if the hardware is more powerful in the first place and if I can upgrade the hardware periodically.


I've had a couple of Dells as well - my first and second laptops were both Dells but I got tired of them after they tried to claim that a defective pixel in my second laptop was the result of a shipping error and I had to fight them getting a fix for it. The sad thing is that Alienware is a Dell brand now which is why I'm really hesitant to recommend them. If you really wanted to get one go with Origin - they're a company that was started by former Alienware employees and they build some really insane systems - but they will cost you. I'd also recommend the Fragbox by Falcon Northwest but those certainly aren't cheap either.

Quote:
Thank you so much for all the advice. The only other thing I want to ask is if there's anything you think I could cut back on to lower the price a bit. I'm hesitant to go with any CPU, RAM, or graphics card with lower performance than the ones I've chosen. I found a better hard drive for the price on amazon.com, and I'm not sure I'm going to get a lower price without dropping below 500GB. Of course, I can always add a hard drive later.


No problem - I can't really see anything that I would cut back on. The hard thing is right now with hard drive prices being the way they are will really skewer people's budgets but give it a few months and they'll go down in price.
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November 10, 2011 4:36:42 PM

First of all, congratulations on your english writing skills. Many ppl in ur age writes a whole mess here.

Well, I would only a PSU change. If you not going to OC, or use SLI, u could save money getting a cheaper (but high quality) PSU.
For your system (i5-2500k + HD 6790), saw some reviews it tops at max 250W power consumption. So, even with a 450w PSU (with a minimum 250W at 12v rails) it will do the work.
(Power consumption review: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6790-review/6)

I recommend one of these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (450w)
or
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (550w)
They have a very nice 12v output
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November 10, 2011 4:41:30 PM

Good specs, however the prices for the components will probably decrease in the future. If you consider the probable new releases of the gtx 600 series cards from nvidia, and the 7000 series from AMD within the year or early 2012.

HDD prices may also drop by that time (probably very unlikely, but you never know). The HDD prices are so high currently due to the flooding in Asia (specifically Thailand). You might want to consider recycling a hdd from your old PC and save a chunk of change for a while.

Another option is to buy a SSD (solid state drive) on sale from newegg and use that for a while, you can find them for about $1 per gigabyte on sale. I would not pay 120, for a 1 gig HDD when I could get a SSD for same price (albeit at lower capacity).

In terms of the MOBO, the asrock series you picked is slightly narrower compared to many other competitors such as msi, and gigabyte comparable boards. This really is not a big deal unless you have a large heat sink which may block some of the ram slots.

For example the a70 blocks the first two ram slots on the asrock gen3 extreme3 board. (a70 is a huge heatsink), so your hyper 212+ probably will be fine. If you get low profile ram, this becomes a moot point.

If you have a microcenter near by the i52500k is typically 179.99, so you could save some money there.

the 6790 is not that powerful of a gpu (this is relative of course). However it does not appear that you want to play that many gpu intensive games.

Overall the build looks pretty solid, but keep in mind things probably will change component wise by early 2012.
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November 10, 2011 4:58:36 PM

Quote:
the 6790 is not that powerful of a gpu (this is relative of course). However it does not appear that you want to play that many gpu intensive games.


The 6790 is basically an updated version of the 6770, which is the exact same as a 5770 - which in and of itself is an excellent GPU for the price (my 5800 is still running quite strongly and smoothly), and if the OP wants to get started now and then upgrade later this wouldn't necessarily be a bad place to start.

Quote:
For example the a70 blocks the first two ram slots on the asrock gen3 extreme3 board. (a70 is a huge heatsink), so your hyper 212+ probably will be fine. If you get low profile ram, this becomes a moot point.


I always suggest low profile RAM due to gigantic heat sinks and coolers.

Quote:
In terms of the MOBO, the asrock series you picked is slightly narrower compared to many other competitors such as msi, and gigabyte comparable boards. This really is not a big deal unless you have a large heat sink which may block some of the ram slots.


Gigabyte is an excellent brand - I love the Z68 board I'm using - I don't know much about Asrock but I am planning to buy their AMD 990FX board relatively soon.
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November 10, 2011 6:46:58 PM

Thank you all for your advice. Realizing that I'm going to need to cut back on a little of the cost, I chose to go with a 500W PSU. I don't plan on overclocking in the near future, nor do I think I'll need to use SLI soon. If I want to use SLI in the future, I'll upgrade my PSU then.

I'm looking into low-profile RAM. It seems to be a good idea to go ahead and get the low-profile type in case I add large components in the future.

Do you think having 16GB of RAM is worth the price, or should 8GB suffice? I suppose that's also something I can upgrade in the future if I decide I need more.
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November 10, 2011 7:25:23 PM

tkdchick218 said:
Thank you all for your advice. Realizing that I'm going to need to cut back on a little of the cost, I chose to go with a 500W PSU. I don't plan on overclocking in the near future, nor do I think I'll need to use SLI soon. If I want to use SLI in the future, I'll upgrade my PSU then.

I'm looking into low-profile RAM. It seems to be a good idea to go ahead and get the low-profile type in case I add large components in the future.

Do you think having 16GB of RAM is worth the price, or should 8GB suffice? I suppose that's also something I can upgrade in the future if I decide I need more.


If you're going to get a 500W PSU, go with the Corsair Builder Series CX500. I have the 430W version that I use in an HTPC build and it's an excellent PSU for the price.

And 8GB is plenty for now, memory is so cheap right now that if you need to later on you can expand it to 16GB - you just have to make sure all modules are the same. If it were up to me, I'd put the extra money into getting a better PSU or GPU than more RAM right now.
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November 10, 2011 7:34:48 PM

g-unit1111 said:
If you're going to get a 500W PSU, go with the Corsair Builder Series CX500. I have the 430W version that I use in an HTPC build and it's an excellent PSU for the price.

And 8GB is plenty for now, memory is so cheap right now that if you need to later on you can expand it to 16GB - you just have to make sure all modules are the same. If it were up to me, I'd put the extra money into getting a better PSU or GPU than more RAM right now.

That's the PSU I was looking at, I'm glad it's a good one.

If the price of any of the components go down in the next 4 months, I'll probably look into a better GPU. After years of using a low-end GPU, I'd like to get a decent one for this computer. If I can keep the build price around $1000 and ask for about $200 worth of components for my birthday gift, I should be able to manage the rest.
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November 10, 2011 7:59:02 PM

few things I'd think about.....

MoBo - Personally, I can't get behind any MoBo manufacturer who doesn't offer at least a 3 year warranty.

GFX - I'd invest more money on the GFX.....as well as the monitor

$170 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$185 and up http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

HD - Green = Slow

The Corsair Builder Series is equivalent to the Antec BP series .... decent PSU's but not really designed for the enthusiast.

$60 XFX Core Edition 650 watts (jonnyguru perfomance rating 9.5)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...

Throwing a PSU away to SLI when an extra $10 can get ya one ya won't have to change seems like a bad investment. Th 650 is plent for twin 6790's and will even allow you a few steps up. With 560's I'd use a 750 watter when no doing heavy OC's. BTW you've chosen a ATI card which uses Crossfire w/ 2 cards, nVidia uses SLI


Case - No front USB 3
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November 10, 2011 8:18:23 PM

tkdchick218 said:
That's the PSU I was looking at, I'm glad it's a good one.

If the price of any of the components go down in the next 4 months, I'll probably look into a better GPU. After years of using a low-end GPU, I'd like to get a decent one for this computer. If I can keep the build price around $1000 and ask for about $200 worth of components for my birthday gift, I should be able to manage the rest.


The only X factor right now is the HD prices - with the situation in Thailand where they're manufactured, with all the floods there, the prices have skyrocketed. I hope they'll be resolved in the next couple of months.
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November 10, 2011 9:19:48 PM

g-unit1111 said:
The only X factor right now is the HD prices - with the situation in Thailand where they're manufactured, with all the floods there, the prices have skyrocketed. I hope they'll be resolved in the next couple of months.

Wow. I just saw a 500GB HD, $99, that used to be $35. I think I'll just stop looking for a HD for now and wait to even think about that until the price comes down.
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November 10, 2011 9:37:03 PM

tkdchick218 said:
Wow. I just saw a 500GB HD, $99, that used to be $35. I think I'll just stop looking for a HD for now and wait to even think about that until the price comes down.


Like stated previously, you might want to consider purchasing a 80-120 GB SSD, as for some reason their prices have not seemed to have shot up like HDD.

the 120gb should be able to hold you over for a while, assuming you solely use the PC for gaming (no music downloads or video downloads).

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November 10, 2011 10:09:08 PM

thesnappyfingers said:
Like stated previously, you might want to consider purchasing a 80-120 GB SSD, as for some reason their prices have not seemed to have shot up like HDD.

the 120gb should be able to hold you over for a while, assuming you solely use the PC for gaming (no music downloads or video downloads).

Despite the advantages of SSD drives, I find it hard to justify spending $165 on 120GB of storage. I've never had a problem with hard drives before, so I think I'll wait to get a SSD until the price comes down.

Unfortunately, I don't have any hard drives from another computer that I could use. I'll be building this gaming computer as an upgrade from the family desktop, which will stay the family computer.

I'll just hope the HD prices return to normal, or close to it, before I build the computer. I won't need to order it until February anyway.
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November 10, 2011 11:34:55 PM

Quote:

I'll just hope the HD prices return to normal, or close to it, before I build the computer. I won't need to order it until February anyway


Good thing.
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November 11, 2011 12:57:08 AM

A solid build for your purposes. As others have suggested, i would go with an XFX graphics card. I have also had good experiences with Asus and with Saphire graphics cards.

Another thing you can save some money on it getting a core i5 2500 instead of the 2500k. If you are not going to overclock you don't need the unlocked multiplier. I know where i live this can save about $30.

A big concern however will be your HDD. Prices are on the rise and will continue to rise as Thailand is not going to get back to full production for quite some time. This is going to keep the prices high and as production is unable to meet demand (peaking around the holiday season) we will see the prices soar. Depending on when you plan to buy, this may be a moot point, but i don't see them returning to "normal" until March or later. If you are going to wait that long, then you will want to reconsider most if not all of these items. Intel is hoping to get their new architecture/die shrink out in the first half of the year (last i checked), as well as new graphics cards from both AMD and Nvidia. Memory prices may come down further by then too and for the same price you can get 1866MHz or even 2133MHz DDR3.

One other warning, Hanns-G is a bargin brand monitor, the display is nice, but you may be calling in the warranty. Acer usually has good prices, and i have two Acer monitors (one is 5 years old the other is 8) that still work great. This is just my experience.
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November 11, 2011 12:59:45 AM

Sorry, i missed where you said you would order in February. I would recommend looking to get your storage now, before the prices get too much higher. I am constantly monitoring the flooding in Thailand, and its going to take some time to get things back to normal working conditions (even longer for the potential for disease to clear up).
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November 11, 2011 7:38:17 PM

Thanks again for all your advice. I made a few changes based on your recommendations, including the monitor, PSU, and CPU. I decided I probably won't overclock the CPU, but may want to use SLI/Crossfire in the future.

I still plan on taking my chances and waiting on the hard drive. My birthday is in Feb., but I suppose if hard drive prices are still sky-high then I can ask for money for parts for my birthday and put off the actual building of the computer until summer if necessary. I'll be hard-pressed to find time to build and enjoy my new computer during school months anyway (and yet I find time to plan the build... :whistle:  )

If the prices of these components go down as newer models are released, I plan on looking into a better GPU. If prices drop a lot, I'll look into getting a SSD in addition to my main hard drive. I'd probably use my main hard drive for music/video/pictures, and store software on the SSD.
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November 11, 2011 7:45:20 PM

Any case recommendations? Inexpensive, if possible.

Considering:

COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

NZXT Apollo Black SECC Steel Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UB Black /Blue Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It doesn't look like I'll be able to (easily) afford a case with front USB 3.0 ports (unless the prices drop). Not a big deal, I can just use the back ports and save $100.
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November 11, 2011 8:07:23 PM

My go to for cases is the Corsair Carbide - I have the Graphite 600T and for a mid tower it has the room of a full tower, it's quite an amazing case. For the price / performance / upgradability ratio - it cannot be matched, especially for things like interior room and hard drive expansion - it will handle the biggest coolers, video cards, power supplies, you name it. But if you want some recommendations check these out - depends on your price range. Brands you definitely want to avoid - Apevia, Diablotek, Raidmax, and Foxconn.

If you're worried about USB 3.0 ports - some manufacturers (like Corsair and Cooler Master) give you the option of purchasing a front USB port header for the 5.25" mounting brackets that will run you approx. $10 - $15.

$50 - $75:

- Cooler Master Centurion 535
- Cooler Master HAF 912
- Cooler Master Elite 430
- Antec 300 Illusion
- Rosewill Challenger
- Lian Li Lancool
- Zalman Z9

$75 - $115:

- Corsair Carbide 400R
- Antec 902
- Cooler Master HAF 932
- Cougar Evolution
- NZXT Apollo

$115 - $150

- NZXT Phantom
- Corsair Carbide 500R
- Corsair Graphite 600T
- Cooler Master HAF 932
- In Win Dragon Rider
- Cooler Master Storm Sniper
- Antec Sonata
- Fractal Design Arc MIDI
- Antec Lanboy Air
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November 11, 2011 8:19:46 PM

g-unit1111 said:
My go to for cases is the Corsair Carbide - I have the Graphite 600T and for a mid tower it has the room of a full tower, it's quite an amazing case. For the price / performance / upgradability ratio - it cannot be matched, especially for things like interior room and hard drive expansion - it will handle the biggest coolers, video cards, power supplies, you name it. But if you want some recommendations check these out - depends on your price range. Brands you definitely want to avoid - Apevia, Diablotek, Raidmax, and Foxconn.

If you're worried about USB 3.0 ports - some manufacturers (like Corsair and Cooler Master) give you the option of purchasing a front USB port header for the 5.25" mounting brackets that will run you approx. $10 - $15.

$50 - $75:

- Cooler Master Centurion 535
- Cooler Master HAF 912
- Cooler Master Elite 430
- Antec 300 Illusion
- Rosewill Challenger
- Lian Li Lancool
- Zalman Z9

$75 - $115:

- Corsair Carbide 400R
- Antec 902
- Cooler Master HAF 932
- Cougar Evolution
- NZXT Apollo

$115 - $150

- NZXT Phantom
- Corsair Carbide 500R
- Corsair Graphite 600T
- Cooler Master HAF 932
- In Win Dragon Rider
- Cooler Master Storm Sniper
- Antec Sonata
- Fractal Design Arc MIDI
- Antec Lanboy Air

I like the looks of the Zalman Z9. I'll be getting a card reader w/ extra USB ports, but it never hurts to have more available. That case looks like it has a good cooling system, too.
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November 11, 2011 8:43:58 PM

tkdchick218 said:
I like the looks of the Zalman Z9. I'll be getting a card reader w/ extra USB ports, but it never hurts to have more available. That case looks like it has a good cooling system, too.


Definitely not a bad choice at all - it looks like it's got plenty of room for radiators should you decide to go the liquid cooling route later on.

You should also check out the Carbide 400R - it's a bit more but I love Corsair's cable management system and it has great built-in cooling (2 x 200mm fans, 1 x 120mm exhaust) with plenty of room for more.
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November 11, 2011 9:51:02 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Definitely not a bad choice at all - it looks like it's got plenty of room for radiators should you decide to go the liquid cooling route later on.

You should also check out the Carbide 400R - it's a bit more but I love Corsair's cable management system and it has great built-in cooling (2 x 200mm fans, 1 x 120mm exhaust) with plenty of room for more.

If the prices of the parts come down enough by the time I order, I'll go back and look at that. The 2 USB 3.0 ports would be handy.
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November 11, 2011 10:23:27 PM

I'm more comfortable with Intel processors, but would you recommend AMD CPU's? For example, is the AMD Phenom II X4 970 comparable to an Intel Core i5-2500, or is the Intel worth the extra $70?

Edit: Is this graph correct? According to the graph, the AMD FX-8150 Eight-Core ranks higher then the Intel Core i5-2500 for $30 more.
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html
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November 11, 2011 10:34:05 PM

tkdchick218 said:
I'm more comfortable with Intel processors, but would you recommend AMD CPU's? For example, is the AMD Phenom II X4 970 comparable to an Intel Core i5-2500?, or is the Intel worth the extra $70?


If you're a first timer definitely go with the Intel. AMD's can be a pain in the ass to setup - and I've done AMD builds where I've had to replace motherboards on multiple occasions. Like the first time I built the system I went through four or five motherboards before I got a good one - I tried every manufacturer I could think of (Gigabyte, MSI, ECS, and I finally got a good Asus) - and that one died on me after a few months when I tried to install an aftermarket cooler.

I'm gonna rebuild my computer with my X6 Phenom that I saved from a failed build - and be ready for when the second generation of FX / Bulldozer CPUs are available. I'm still really skeptical about doing it, but I kind of want to see how it goes. :lol: 

Quote:
Edit: Is this graph correct? According to the graph, the AMD FX-8150 Eight-Core ranks higher then the Intel Core i5-2500 for $30 more.
http://www.cpubenchmark.net/high_end_cpus.html


Benchmarks like that where they throw everything into a huge pot are kind of meaningless. The thing is - you never know what criteria they use to begin (like accompanying hardware, software, etc) with and every test is different. A CPU could outperform the other on one benchmark, then the other it totally fails. The reason I say this is because the first generation FX CPUs hasn't tested very well. I'm waiting for the next variants - which like Intel's SB-E CPUs are supposed to ship with liquid coolers - so that will make a huge difference as to how they test and OC.
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November 11, 2011 10:58:43 PM

I got permission to use whatever is good enough from an old Dell desktop (old as in 4+ years). If nothing else, I could settle for that hard drive until the prices come back down next year. I know you won't really know if anything world be good enough to recycle until I get the specs, but is there any chance that the case would work?
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November 11, 2011 11:15:35 PM

tkdchick218 said:
I got permission to use whatever is good enough from an old Dell desktop (old as in 4+ years). If nothing else, I could settle for that hard drive until the prices come back down next year. I know you won't really know if anything world be good enough to recycle until I get the specs, but is there any chance that the case would work?


The interface on the HDs could be a problem - SATA has been pretty standard since like 2007 but if it's that old it could still be using IDE hard drives, and there hasn't been a motherboard made with IDE since like 2008 - 2009.
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November 11, 2011 11:29:46 PM

g-unit1111 said:
The interface on the HDs could be a problem - SATA has been pretty standard since like 2007 but if it's that old it could still be using IDE hard drives, and there hasn't been a motherboard made with IDE since like 2008 - 2009.

Any way to tell before I open it up? I just checked, the HD is 120GB. Like I said, the computer is relatively old, but it was a good computer, though the HD is probably a lower rpm speed. If it's a SATA drive, I could use it as the primary drive until the prices came back down, then just use it for file backups.

As for the case - 2 external 5.25" drive bays, 2 front USB ports (should be USB 2.0, correct?), and a headphone jack. The 5.25" drive card reader I'm planning on getting would supply 2 extra USB 2.0 ports, mic and speaker jacks, and the general memory card readers. Depending on the cooling system, do you think it would be wise to recycle the case?

Unfortunately the monitor isn't widescreen, otherwise I'd use it. I can use the speakers, though. I'd use the wireless keyboard and mouse, but it seems silly to not upgrade something that costs $24 to eliminate the huge wireless receiver.
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November 11, 2011 11:34:30 PM

SATA drives look like this:



IDE drives look like this:



A 120GB option definitely isn't bad at all - use that as your primary, when the prices drop and you get a secondary - store everything else on the secondary, that's what I've always done.

Quote:
Unfortunately the monitor isn't widescreen, otherwise I'd use it. I can use the speakers, though. I'd use the wireless keyboard and mouse, but it seems silly to not upgrade something that costs $24 to eliminate the huge wireless receiver.


Speakers aren't that big of a deal - high end speakers (like the Corsair SP200 or Klipsch Pro Media) will cost you. If you want to get a good keyboard and mouse setup without breaking the bank I highly recommend the Logitech MK260 - you can get it at Newegg for $25. When you get the widescreen monitor - you can use the other one to increase your viewing - two monitors are always better than one.
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November 11, 2011 11:50:51 PM

I plan on using the old speakers, because I don't care enough about the sound (and I usually use headphones) to buy new ones. I'll probably go ahead and get a monitor, but that's an idea - I'll be sure to save the old one. It's got great resolution considering the age. And that keyboard/mouse combo was what I had picked out.

Well, I opened up the computer, and it's an IDE drive. Is there any way to convert it to SATA for the new computer?

I also think I'll need to get a new case. From what I can tell (which isn't a lot, mind you), it doesn't look like there are enough drive bays, and I only see one fan.
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November 12, 2011 12:06:46 AM

tkdchick218 said:
I plan on using the old speakers, because I don't care enough about the sound (and I usually use headphones) to buy new ones. I'll probably go ahead and get a monitor, but that's an idea - I'll be sure to save the old one. It's got great resolution considering the age. And that keyboard/mouse combo was what I had picked out.


That's a good idea to save the monitor - I do like multi-monitor setups.

Quote:
Well, I opened up the computer, and it's an IDE drive. Is there any way to convert it to SATA for the new computer?


No, You'll have to get a primary drive. What you can do though is buy a IDE/USB 2.0 enclosure and use the 120GB as a secondary/backup drive. I've bought a couple of these and they work fantastic:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:
I also think I'll need to get a new case. From what I can tell (which isn't a lot, mind you), it doesn't look like there are enough drive bays, and I only see one fan.


Yeah - that goes back to what I was saying earlier about Dells / Gateways - they tend to cram a lot of hardware into small enclosures. And the cases are made specifically for their computers - they don't use anything standard ATX.
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November 12, 2011 12:16:01 AM

Quote:
What you can do though is buy a IDE/USB 2.0 enclosure and use the 120GB as a secondary/backup drive. I've bought a couple of these and they work fantastic:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817145132

I looked at those a year or so ago. We have an even older desktop (which we have no idea why we still have) with a 30GB hard drive that I wanted to remove and turn into external storage. I ended up buying my 2TB external hard drive instead, because it seemed silly to spend $30 to use 30GB when I could get 2TB relatively cheaply. I hate to waste 120GB of space, though, so I'll probably get that this time.

I guess I can only use the speakers and monitor from the old Dell. Too bad it doesn't have a wireless card...
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November 12, 2011 12:25:26 AM

Quick question: Is the CPU cooler necessary if I won't be overclocking?

Edit: Another quick question: a coworker of my dad's recommends a PSU of no less than 70A, which means no less than 850W at 12V. The 620W PSU is about 51A. Do you think that's adequate for this system?

I understand the logic behind spending an extra $40 now to save having to spend $140 later if I decide to use SLI/Crossfire. However, as I do have a budget, I'm going to have to pick and choose what I spend my money on. It would be easier for me to get a lower-watt PSU that will be adequate for now, keep my build price within budget, and spend the extra money to upgrade the PSU later, than raise the price of the build several hundred dollars to get the next best of everything and have to come up with the extra money. I can always upgrade components one at a time later on as I need to.

As I'm realizing that's what I'm going to have to do to stay within budget, I'm seriously considering going back to a 500-550W PSU. My build (supposedly) only requires about 450W, so if it's safe to go as low as 500-550W, that could save a bit of money for now.
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November 13, 2011 12:21:33 AM

Quote:
Quick question: Is the CPU cooler necessary if I won't be overclocking?


It isn't, the stock fans that are included generally aren't very good to begin with. I recommend a cooler because keeping your CPU cool keeps your system cool, which will prolong the lifespan of your computer. I use a workstation built around the i3-2120 - it's a CPU that can't be overclocked but I run a Cooler Master Hyper 212 on top of it, and it keeps the CPU cooler than the double heat sink I have on my gaming system does. :lol: 

Quote:
Edit: Another quick question: a coworker of my dad's recommends a PSU of no less than 70A, which means no less than 850W at 12V. The 620W PSU is about 51A. Do you think that's adequate for this system?


850 is plenty for a pair of 6950's, actually a 650 or 600 will run them just fine if you don't plan to overclock.

Quote:
As I'm realizing that's what I'm going to have to do to stay within budget, I'm seriously considering going back to a 500-550W PSU. My build (supposedly) only requires about 450W, so if it's safe to go as low as 500-550W, that could save a bit of money for now.


No - you want at least a 650. If you want an inexpensive but good PSU go with the Corsair TX-650 - it's $89. But at the very least the Builder Series CX600 will run you about $70 and it's a very good PSU for the money - you want at least a 600 watt to be future-proof for SLI/Crossfire.

Quote:
I understand the logic behind spending an extra $40 now to save having to spend $140 later if I decide to use SLI/Crossfire. However, as I do have a budget, I'm going to have to pick and choose what I spend my money on. It would be easier for me to get a lower-watt PSU that will be adequate for now, keep my build price within budget, and spend the extra money to upgrade the PSU later, than raise the price of the build several hundred dollars to get the next best of everything and have to come up with the extra money. I can always upgrade components one at a time later on as I need to.


There's logic there, yes. But I wouldn't put that $40 for a better PSU - I'd actually spend it on getting a somewhat larger case. I have the HAF 912 and while it's a great case for the money - it's not made for big video cards. My Radeon 5800 just barely clips the edge of the drive cages. If I were you I'd look at spending the extra $40 on getting the Corsair Carbide 400R as your main case. I can't praise my Graphite 600T highly enough - the Carbide is $89 and it'll handle anything you can throw at it.
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November 13, 2011 1:54:19 AM

Quote:
If I were you I'd look at spending the extra $40 on getting the Corsair Carbide 400R as your main case.

The case looks good, but there aren't any 3.5" external drive bays.
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November 13, 2011 11:44:22 PM

tkdchick218 said:
Quote:
If I were you I'd look at spending the extra $40 on getting the Corsair Carbide 400R as your main case.

The case looks good, but there aren't any 3.5" external drive bays.


You don't need them unless you're installing a card reader or floppy drive, and they give you an adapter w/ mounting brackets for it in case you do.
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