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Finalizing $500-$600 Gaming Build, First time builder

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November 14, 2011 9:23:26 AM

Hello, this is my first time building a computer, which I am very excited for. I've done lots of research and asked many questions here and around the web. I think I have a basic understanding of components, pricing, assembly, etc. I've asked a few questions in this forum before, but now I'm asking for advice on the build as a whole. Here's the info:

Approximate Purchase Date: First few weeks of December

Budget Range: $500 - $600 USD

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, College-level programming, Web Browsing, Movies

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard, Headset

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Amazon

Country: USA (West Coast)

Parts Preferences: AMD CPU

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Basically, I would like to be able to play BF3 and other games on high, possibly ultrahigh graphics. Also, I would not be against going over budget by $20-$30.

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Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($109.99 @ CompUSA)
- I chose this CPU for its price and performance. I read an article here on Tom's HW that it's the best bang/buck at its price range for gaming computers.

Motherboard: ASRock M3A770DE ATX AM3 Motherboard ($62.99 @ SuperBiiz)
- I was deadset on this mobo because it was cheap, and only had 2 RAM slots, then I realized that it was a microATX board and that it probably wouldn't be sufficient for gaming. I went the listed mobo instead.

Memory: G.Skill 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($26.99 @ Newegg)
- Looks cool, thought it would look nice on the mobo. Also, I went for 1333 instead of 1600 because I told that the recommended speed on RAM an AMD processor or mobo was at 1333.

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($42.84 @ NCIX US)
- Ugh, I picked a great time to build a new computer. I think I'm going to check electronic stores first to see if I can find a good $50 HDD before purchasing one online.

Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6950 1GB Video Card ($244.99 @ Amazon)
- I am dead set on this card. If there are reasons why I shouldn't go for a 6950, let me know. I will try to refute your argument as much as possible :fou: 
Haha, all jokes aside, I chose this card because it's also recommended by Tom's, which I saw the article for. I think it looks like a great card as well. It had 3 fans for cooling, lots of airflow. I do realize that it's 11 inches long, for which I chose a proper case.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Microcenter)
- Mainly chose this case because it can fit that 11" GPU, it has a removable HDD cage which was meant to be removed to house longer GPU's. It has great airflow, and looks beast as well. Also, the PSU is bottom mounted.

Power Supply: OCZ 600W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($44.99 @ NCIX US)
- I had to ask about PSU's and such, in which this forum had assisted me (thanks again to those who did). I'm almost positive this PSU should be good enough. I may actually misunderstand PSU's completely, so feel free to to say it's not enough

Optical Drive: Sony AD-7260S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ CompUSA)
- I didn't look into OD's too much. If there's a recommended $20 OD, let me know :) 

Total: $602.77

Best solution

November 14, 2011 1:47:45 PM
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The nice thing about AMD is that they allow multiple generations of CPUs for one motherboard. However you are limiting yourself with a 770. I'd go with an AM3+ board.
November 14, 2011 6:25:01 PM

crewton said:
The nice thing about AMD is that they allow multiple generations of CPUs for one motherboard. However you are limiting yourself with a 770. I'd go with an AM3+ board.


Since it is my first build, I have chosen to go down the less complicated route, which is to not upgrade this system too much. After much deliberation, I came to the conclusion that I only needed this build for gaming and college related applications (i.e. Powerpoint, Word, email, programming). After a few years, I do plan to invest in a better, higher quality build for multipurpose use that will allow upgrades. Thank you for pointing that out.
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November 15, 2011 3:56:06 AM

If I were you, I'd wait for amd's 7000 series gpu's to come out in the first quarter of next year. Supposedly the 7970 will have about the same performance as a 6990. But that's just what I'd do. Otherwise, what you want is a good choice :) 
November 15, 2011 4:47:31 AM

Ah, that's a good bit of info. 6990's are already at about $600+, so I don't think I'd have the budget for one :[
November 15, 2011 4:53:16 AM

For that budget, it seems good (I'm no expert at computer hardware though)
November 15, 2011 5:44:43 AM

Seems like a very good build! if you go for the 2GB version of the 6950, from what I have read, you can flash it and make it the higher end 6970.... You might need to research that if that seems like something you could do lol otherwise nice build!
November 15, 2011 8:11:45 AM

redsunrises said:
Seems like a very good build! if you go for the 2GB version of the 6950, from what I have read, you can flash it and make it the higher end 6970.... You might need to research that if that seems like something you could do lol otherwise nice build!


I heard I could do something like that, but I'm too afraid to modify anything, particularly since this is my first build. I want to learn and get experienced with overclocking though. Somewhere down the line, when I get more experience with different hardwares, I'll make a stride to overclock one of my systems. Thanks for the comment btw!
November 15, 2011 4:56:15 PM

No problem man :)  just thought I would throw that out there! lol
November 15, 2011 8:14:18 PM

Looks good try this graphics card you can save money and maybe upgrade on the motherboard its a am3+ which if you want to just put in a 6core p2 in it would be great because you have maybe the best case in that price catagory
November 16, 2011 1:15:34 AM

I agree with red about getting the 2gig version. And you can expect the 7970 to be priced similarly to the current 6970. And you could just go with the 7870. It is supposed to be replacing the 6970 and will be priced similarly to the 6870. Here's a little info: http://www.nordichardware.com/news/71-graphics/44072-ra...
November 16, 2011 7:17:11 AM

Gah, 7900 series sounds real tempting, but since it's a new product, it would be a bit of a gamble to purchase right away, especially considering the new upgrades that it features. Don't get me wrong, everything on it sounds fantastic, but since it's my first build, I don't want to take the risk. The article was great btw :) 

I also looked into flashing a 6950 into a 6970, and I thought it wouldn't be too hard. The issue I have with it is that flashing the GPU would make me venture into unfamiliar territory. I fear that I may do something wrong. I would certainly like to try something like this in the future though. As of now, it's my lack of experience that tells me that I shouldn't try it just yet. I'm just going to keep this build simple.
November 16, 2011 7:43:41 AM

Love_Peace said:
Gah, 7900 series sounds real tempting, but since it's a new product, it would be a bit of a gamble to purchase right away, especially considering the new upgrades that it features. Don't get me wrong, everything on it sounds fantastic, but since it's my first build, I don't want to take the risk. The article was great btw :) 

I also looked into flashing a 6950 into a 6970, and I thought it wouldn't be too hard. The issue I have with it is that flashing the GPU would make me venture into unfamiliar territory. I fear that I may do something wrong. I would certainly like to try something like this in the future though. As of now, it's my lack of experience that tells me that I shouldn't try it just yet. I'm just going to keep this build simple.



There is always next time! :) 
November 23, 2011 4:15:29 AM

Best answer selected by Love_Peace.
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