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<$700 Gaming System with future upgrading options

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Last response: in Systems
November 19, 2011 1:21:25 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Cyber Monday ( November 28, 2011)

Budget Range: Up to $700, after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, HD Video Watching

Parts Not Required: Monitor, Mouse, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Not picky.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: I've used Intel and nVidia, but I have no problem using AMD/ATi if better/cheaper

Overclocking: Possibly

SLI or Crossfire: In the future, maybe. Not now.

Monitor Resolution: 1600x1200 or higher


From reading around I've learned that I don't need more than four cores, AMD and Intel both work, and if I go Intel, I might as well do H67 at this price point. What I know nothing on is whether AMD or Intel would be more beneficial at this pricemark, as well as how beneficial overclocking would be. I don't know what to expect as far as graphics cards though, and which brand would be better, either. I also have no idea if liquid cooling would be a good idea, or even possible at this price.

I'd like my computer to be quiet, maybe in a pretty case, with options to expand later. In a year, I can afford getting a second graphics card, increasing RAM, and getting a better CPU, if I need any of those three. I just want to be able to play most games on at least High for the next year-- Skyrim just came out, and I'm crying inside because my current PC can only run it on Low, and Low just doesn't do it justice. I think that's enough information...what do you guys advise, to this novice?

More about : 700 gaming system future upgrading options

November 19, 2011 1:35:43 AM

Since you said you have a current PC. Can you reuse the parts there? Case and HDD?

AMD Phenom II x 4 + ATI 6870 $278
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Asrock Extreme4 AM3+ Motherboard $110 (supports crossfire.)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Win7 Home Premium OEM 64bit $99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Modstream 700w $60 after rebate.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.skill Ripjaws X 4gb $23
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Seagate 250gb Hard drive $90 << It's so expensive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

NZXT Elite $40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$700 w/o shipping but after rebates.

Can upgrade to newer AMD cpus (piledriver). Can CF with mobo and great 700w psu.

If you have any parts that can be reused then I can make it better like OS, HDD, Case.
November 19, 2011 1:58:47 AM

Thank you! Infortunately, I can't reuse any parts. the PC I'm using now is a gaming laptop from two years ago, and the hard drive is failing, so I can't even rip that. :( 

Out of curiosity, why are we picking AMD/ATi over Intel and/or nVidia? (Besides the fact that's a bundle :p )
Related resources
November 19, 2011 2:04:16 AM

You can't afford it :(  Since you need everythinjg and want upgradability like SLI.

OS takes $100 off your budget.
HDD takes $90 off your budget.

In the end, you only have $510 for the build.=(

EDIT: Don't worry though, that build will have no problem running Skyrim at High. Not gonna max it though.
November 19, 2011 2:16:46 AM

Wait a minute. I'm setting up a cheaper build w/ a DVD drive. i always forget about that.
November 19, 2011 2:20:02 AM

So I think I actually know someone who just has OEM copies he doesn't need, so I might get to ignore the cost of that!
Now comes a stupid question: I have an external hard drive I'm not using...I can't in any way rig that to be my main drive, can I?
November 19, 2011 3:34:54 AM

You've been to work since last I looked! Thanks!

I think I want this NZXT 210 Elite case instead, simply because I find it so pretty:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
That won't cause any problems, will it?

And I'm guessing you're pretty knowledgeable, how much do you think this system's cost will be cut on Black Friday/Cyber Monday?
November 19, 2011 4:37:59 AM

f3ral said:
I have an external hard drive I'm not using...I can't in any way rig that to be my main drive, can I?
USB or SATA?
November 19, 2011 4:50:02 AM

For gaming, i3/i5 rule. Intel's upgrade path is also superior to AMD piledriver.

If you can find the money in the budget, pair your i3 with a 2GB 6950 card ($250 or so) flash the card's BIOS to make it a 6970, and you will be able to play or do virtually anything.

November 19, 2011 5:06:54 AM

$700 shipped to my door:

NZXT Gamma case ($35.99)
Powercolor Radeon HD 6950 2GB ($254.99) (cheaper on black friday)
RAIDMAX Hybrid 730W PSU ($59.99)
Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x2GB DDR3 1600 ($21.99)
MSi P67A-G43 Motherboard (16x, 8x crossfire and P67 chipset for IVY BRIDGE intel future upgrade) $115
Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz ($124.99) (could opt i5 on black friday)
Arctic Cooling ACALP11 cooler ($16.99)
DVD+-RW ($18.99)
500GB drive the dude above found ($50)

This system, shipped to my door for $700, could run Battlefield 3 on high settings.

Good luck beating it!

=)

*source newegg.com*
*the site above where dude found 500GB drive for $50!*
November 19, 2011 5:19:47 AM

f3ral said:
You've been to work since last I looked! Thanks!

I think I want this NZXT 210 Elite case instead, simply because I find it so pretty:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
That won't cause any problems, will it?

And I'm guessing you're pretty knowledgeable, how much do you think this system's cost will be cut on Black Friday/Cyber Monday?


That case won't make any problems. Not sure on the price cuts on those dates though.
November 19, 2011 5:25:52 AM

ch3rok33jo3 said:
$700 shipped to my door:

NZXT Gamma case ($35.99)
Seagate Barracuda 7200RPM 320GB HDD ($94.99)
Powercolor Radeon HD 6950 2GB ($254.99) (cheaper on black friday)
RAIDMAX Hybrid 730W PSU ($59.99)
Crucial Ballistix Sport 2x2GB DDR3 1600 ($21.99)
Biostar H61MGC Motherboard ($49.99)
Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz ($124.99) (could opt i5 on black friday)
Arctic Cooling ACALP11 cooler ($16.99)

This system, shipped to my door for $700, could run Battlefield 3 on high settings.

Good luck beating it!

=)

*source newegg.com*

Whoops forgot some people still use optical drives - make that $720 (not counting any rebates you may get back in all that!)


Skyrim is more CPU intensive than GPU. With his res a 6870 would be able to max it out. That would be a good build but a RAIDMAX power supply... Brrr. Good luck with that crap.
November 19, 2011 5:28:48 AM

cutebeans said:
Skyrim is more CPU intensive than GPU. With his res a 6870 would be able to max it out. That would be a good build but a RAIDMAX power supply... Brrr. Good luck with that crap.


My AMD X4 is beaten by that i3, yet I can play Skyrim on full settings with my GTX 460, also beaten by the 6950 I selected.

So yeah Skyrim would LOVE an i3. It prefers dual cores with higher clockrates, and you can take that i3 to the moon with the motherboard I selected and the cooler I selected.

I've been doing this for awhile lol

also I edited the motherboard since you posted to MSi with crossfire support after re-reading his post
November 19, 2011 5:35:10 AM

Also I've been using several of those particular RAIDMAX 730W psu's, their lower-end stuff is crap but that model isn't bad at all.

Typically I would agree though, this is a super budget build
November 19, 2011 5:38:11 AM

The new build I made had an i5-2500k + ATI 6870. :)  $700 afterrebates! It's pretty good. Better than your i3-2100. Consider it beat. lol.

EDIT: Yeah, that particular raidmax is pretty good. Great job on the find. :) 
November 19, 2011 5:41:04 AM

cutebeans said:
The new build I made had an i5-2500k + ATI 6870. :)  $700 afterrebates! It's pretty good. Better than your i3-2100. Consider it beat. lol.


That's great, but the card you picked out is really weak. You can flash a 6950 2GB up to 6970, overclock it, and have yourself a budget GTX 580-contender.

http://www.hwcompare.com/6328/radeon-hd-6870-vs-radeon-...

I mean seriously. What are you gonna do with a 6870 in a year? You think you can get decent HD out of that?

However that i5 is great, if both could be worked in, it would be the system I just ordered.

=) LOL
November 19, 2011 5:45:21 AM

Yeah, but since his resolution is only 1600 x 1200. It would last him at the least 2 years. It would be another matter if he went 1920 x 1080p though but it's still going to play all the current games at high.
November 19, 2011 5:49:51 AM

cutebeans said:
Yeah, but since his resolution is only 1600 x 1200. It would last him at the least 2 years. It would be another matter if he went 1920 x 1080p though but it's still going to play all the current games at high.


Think back two years ago. What video card did you have. Are you still using it?

Maybe if it was a 8800GTX or something. But not a little mid-range card like the 68XX series - I'd be surprised if 1600 x 1200 is do-able with any 6xxx cards in two years - short of crossfire two 6970/6990 - which would be like SLi 8800GTX today - able to barely do true HD.

I mean two years ago I didn't even have my GTS 250 yet - and that can't do squat these days!
November 19, 2011 6:31:07 AM

Yeah. Still using my 9800GT!

I played the latest games with no problems at high at 1280 x 1024 though =D
November 19, 2011 7:00:13 AM

cutebeans said:
Yeah. Still using my 9800GT!

I played the latest games with no problems at high at 1280 x 1024 though =D


Nice what are the latest games for you? Obviously you don't mean BF3, though Skyrim would be alright with a powerful enough CPU, it could handle things cut back a bit
November 19, 2011 11:40:02 AM

ch3rok33jo3 said:
Nice what are the latest games for you? Obviously you don't mean BF3, though Skyrim would be alright with a powerful enough CPU, it could handle things cut back a bit
BF3/MW3 at that resolution is a breeze with a 9800GT. Dunno if you'll get 40 fps at high though :( 
November 19, 2011 12:27:22 PM

Quote:
I might as well do H67 at this price point

Beware. H67 is not overclockable. Get a P67 or Z68.
November 19, 2011 2:18:27 PM

ujaansona said:
Quote:
I might as well do H67 at this price point

Beware. H67 is not overclockable. Get a P67 or Z68.



Yes ujaansona is right - and I picked out P67 board for overclocking and Ivy-Bridge compatibility =)
November 19, 2011 5:14:45 PM

calguyhunk said:
USB or SATA?

USB. I have this Western Digital:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, should I really cut back and get a much more minimal motherboard just to move up to an HD 6950? Just curious, cause if I have to upgrade a year later either way, I might as well just save money now, or at least spend it on a mobo that won't need an upgrade next year, right?

EDIT: And thank you for the tip about H67, I didn't even realize that.
November 19, 2011 5:25:46 PM

f3ral said:
USB. I have this Western Digital:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Also, should I really cut back and get a much more minimal motherboard just to move up to an HD 6950? Just curious, cause if I have to upgrade a year later either way, I might as well just save money now, or at least spend it on a mobo that won't need an upgrade next year, right?

EDIT: And thank you for the tip about H67, I didn't even realize that.


The MSi P67 has crossfire 16x, 8x - any other board in it's price range chokes one of the cards at x4

I don't think that motherboard is 'basic' at all, it competes with the $200 gaming motherboards...there will be no reason to upgrade it probably even two years from now, as it supports Ivy Bridge. Why would you have to upgrade?

Like I said your best future proofing is i3 sandy bridge P67 chipset so you can move up on CPU later, and that particular board has crossfire which is the other thing needed for future proofing
November 19, 2011 5:28:12 PM

Also, just youtube a tutorial on removing the drive from your USB enclosure, then you can use it as internal and it will perform much better.

And we can sit and argue about these parts all day but Core i3/i5/i7 Sandy/Ivy bridge is the only way you will have a decent upgrade path, and with the parts I selected you can do it all with a high-quality motherboard and 6950, really the only place I skimp is power supply which in reality that particular RAIDMAX unit is very good

The 6870 is great and all, it's just that you could have nearly top-tier performance in your price range, there's no reason not to do it.
November 19, 2011 6:03:22 PM

I prefer Intel anyway, so I plan to do that. It does make sense. And having a better graphics card makes sense, too.

Between you and cutebeans, I have two options: a Z68 mobo and an i5-2500k and HD 6870, or a P67 mobo and an i3-2100 and HD 6950. The motherboards are comparably priced, though I'm not sure which chipset would be better. I'm also unsure which processor/graphics card combination to get. Honestly, I have no idea which would be a better decision for now and for future upgrading.
November 19, 2011 7:00:47 PM

The Z68 chipset has smart response technology and gives more breathing room for overclocking GPU, so it's a better chipset. As long as you stay away from Q65, Q67 and B65 chipsets, which would kill your upgrade path and leave you on Sandy bridge.

In my personal opinion, you'd have to Crossfire two unlocked 6950 cards to meet the headroom provided by the i3 2100 CPU, so there's no real reason to pick an i5 over an i3 until you have some real hardcore video power to meet the CPU's headroom (when you upgrade).

Either way, be it i5, i3, 6870, 6950, as long as you go with a combination of one of those four options, you'll be getting the best bang for your buck and leaving plenty of upgrade potential.

LVL 1 - i3 + 6950
LVL 2 - i7 + 6950x2 Crossfire

or

LVL 1 - i5 + 6870
LVL 2 - i7 (assumed) + 6870x2 or..?

The only disadvantage I see with 6870 is limited performance with 6870x2 Crossfire. It's less expensive, but leaves a weaker upgrade path as well - if you plan on using crossfire.

But like I said as long as you do a Sandy/Ivy Bridge + AMD card, you'll be getting a good deal. It will really boil down to cyber monday prices, I assume.
November 19, 2011 8:02:16 PM

Why thank you. I'll just look for whichever mobo, cpu and graphics card is cheaper when the sales come in.

One quick question, though: The case I'm planning to get (NZXT Source 210 Elite) has a USB 3.0 header on the front of the case. Does either board have what I need to benefit from that, or would I need another part or something? I've never had a case with front ports before, so.
November 19, 2011 8:11:33 PM

I'm certain it will have some jumpers that extend up to the USB 3.0 header, and motherboards will vary on the number of available USB 3.0 measures

At least that's how it's worked with USB 2.0 in all my builds, there were just jumpers on the motherboard into which you plugged the header
November 20, 2011 12:01:50 AM

ch3rok33jo3's configuration is nice. I would like to suggest two changes in it :

1.Antec EarthWatts EA-650 GREEN 650W CrossFire Certified Active PFC Power Supply - $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2.BIOSTAR TZ68A+ LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Read the review at http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Biostar/TZ68A_PLUS/1...
or at http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/z68xp-ud3-dz68db,29...
November 20, 2011 5:35:20 AM

Firstly, you can use your USB drive as your internal drive. Just open it up. In all probability it will be a 5400RPM SATA drive.

@ ujaansona - The Earthwatts PSUs don't come with all the requisite connectors. New builders might have a problem even knowing which cable to get from their local store.

@ OP - Do you have a microcenter anywhere in your vicinity?
November 20, 2011 5:50:02 AM

Sadly, I'm right in the middle of Arizona-- no Microcenter nearby. Closest thing to a Microcenter I have is a Fry's Electronics. And to be honest, I'd have no idea what connectors I'd need to get, you guessed correctly.
November 20, 2011 10:10:33 AM

OK, so the way I see it, you need a ~$700-ish build without the HDD and without access to MC.

CPU: $140 AMD Phenom IIX4 970

Mobo: $45 GIGABYTE GA-M68MT-S2 AM3+

RAM: $32 CORSAIR XMS3 8GB

HDD: Not Required.

GPU: $350 EVGA SuperClocked GeForce GTX 570

PSU: $60 SILVERSTONE Strider Essential series 600W

ODD: $20 SAMSUNG DVD Burner with LightScribe Support - OEM

Case: $50 COOLER MASTER Elite 430

Total: $697 Including Rebates Plus Shipping. See if you can find these components listed cheaper on Amazon/Tigerdirect/us.NCIX or anywhere else.

EDIT: Do you need Windows to go along with this? If so, drop down to the $270 (After Rebates) ASUS Radeon HD 6950. Windows 7 Home Premium costs 100 bucks for an OEM copy. You can also get it for free, but I'm not allowed to tell you how :pfff: 

P.S. - If you don't intend to upgrade your monitor in the next couple of years, all these cards will be way too OTT. But if you do intend to upgrade to a Full HD monitor, or want to play on your Full HD TV, you'll appreciate the bigger cards.