Building a budget BF3/etc. PC

Hey folks! I'm looking to build my (first) desktop, after about a decade of being out of the desktop game and more with laptops.

My goal is to play BF3 on high (ultra if possible) settings, and possibly games like Skyrim, etc.

A good friend of mine whipped together this baseline system pretty quickly, it comes to about $500. Hopefully getting these pieces during Black Friday-esque sales helps.

If there were massive performance increases, I'd toss another hundred or two into it, but would prefer to live with less for now and upgrade in a year or so as newer hardware comes along.

Here's the specs:

Approximate Purchase Date: this week - sooner the better!

Budget Range: target 500, definitely less than 800 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, streaming audio & video

Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg - anything with the lowest prices

Parts Preferences: little preference; i've always had nvidia GPU's

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe someday

Monitor Resolution: at least 1440x900, preferably higher


View the wishlist online: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?ID=22408527

OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Model #:OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G
$99.99

COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS-550-PCAR-E3 550W ATX12V V2.3 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply
Model #:RS550-PCARE3-US
$54.99

MSI N560GTX-M2D1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Model #:N560GTX-M2D1GD5
$189.99

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-10600CL9D-4GBPK
Model #:F3-10600CL9D-4GBPK
$24.99

AMD Phenom II X4 925 Deneb 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor HDX925WFK4DGM - OEM
Model #:HDX925WFK4DGM
$89.99

ASRock 880GM-LE AM3 AMD 880G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard
Model #:880GM-LE
$54.99


Subtotal: $514.94


Notably absent are a case, mouse, monitor, and keyboard; but how does this core setup look? Any recommendations or tweaks? I'm planning to overclock as well; so that's a factor in choosing these pieces.

Thanks in advance!
12 answers Last reply
More about building budget
  1. Thats a bad CPU, i wouldn't go for anything less than a Phenom II x4 955BE ($125). I would also go with an AM3+ motherboard for bigger upgrading chances in the future.


    CPU: AMD FX-4100 AM3+ Socket $120
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103996

    Graphics: RADEON 6870 $160
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131378

    MoBo: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ $85
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157280

    PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US $40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171031

    Case: NZXT Gamma $36 (free shipping on Amazon)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146061

    HDD: Western Digital - 320GB $70 (GET IT NOW, DON'T WAIT!!!!! THIS IS CHEAP AS OF NOW, DON'T HESITATE!!!)
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Western+Digital+-+320GB+Internal+Hard+Drive+for+Desktops/7821985.p?id=1142294266836&skuId=7821985

    RAM: G.SKILL NS 4GB $21
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231394

    Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

    DVD-ROM: LG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R $19
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136228

    Total: $551

    Explanation: This is a moderate gaming build. The FX-4100 is an overclockable 4 core AMD CPU. The graphics card from AMD is on par with the 560 (non ti). The motherboard I chose is Crossfire capable (meaning you can add another 6870 later for double the graphics power). A power supple (500W) from Cooler master, it should be enough for crossfire. The Case is a NZXT case, I have that case, and it is amazing. Pure amazing. The HDD is A GREAT DEAL, GET IT NOW OR LOSE YOUR CHANCE, I knew a guy who was going to buy a simliar HDD from bestbuy, decided best to buy in the morning, and it was gone. the RAM is 4 GB from a trustworthy company (G.Skill). If this is too expensive, then you can go with this motherboard:
    GIGABYTE GA-M68MT-S2 AM3+ $55
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128529

    But it can't crossfire the gfx card.
  2. Thanks for the reply, roaringdragon.

    Nice HDD deal! I actually have a 1TB sitting around I can pop in there; for the most part I'd just need to install a game or two - hence the smaller solid state driver. I'm looking through the other pieces now.

    Out of curiosity, why do you prefer the 6870 over the 560? Anything I should be aware of between the brands (I've been out of the desktop GPU game for a while)?
  3. First:
    If you are getting an SSD, I would get this SSD, it's $100 and has a larger capacity:
    OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227550

    Also, the graphics cards:
    I have this little rule when I help people out on builds:
    If the build is less than 700-800 dollars, I use AMD in the builds, since it is cheaper.
    The 6870 is around $150, while the gtx 560 is around $170. The $20 saved can get yuo the DVD-ROM, and the performance is negligible
  4. r0aringdrag0n said:

    MoBo: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ $85
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157280


    Total: $551

    The motherboard I chose is Crossfire capable (meaning you can add another 6870 later for double the graphics power). A power supple (500W) from Cooler master, it should be enough for crossfire.




    That's not really true .

    The Asrock 970 EXTREME4
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157262
    can run a crossfire set up ,but the Extreme 3 runs its graphics slots at x16/x4 so it cant

    Probably not ever going to be an issue at that resolution though since a single 6870 or GTX 560 should run BF3 really well
  5. It says crossfire capable in the specifications... :o
  6. r0aringdrag0n said:
    It says crossfire capable in the specifications... :o



    two bottom end cards might not be restricted by the x4 slot , but a 6870 would take a heavy performance hit I think
  7. ah, I see.
  8. Thanks for the input! And that CPU looks great from everything I've read about it - looks like a good place to drop a few extra $$$.

    A couple things I'm curious about:

    1) Should I upgrade the RAM from 4 gigs to 8 gigs? What I've read seems inconclusive; and since this isn't exactly top-of-the-line hardware most benchmarking I've seen seems irrelevant.

    2) Is the power supply enough? I was expecting it to need something > 750w, but great if it doesn't :)

    3) Should I go with the EXTREME4 mobo posted by outlander for the crossfire options in the future? I can picture that being one of the first upgrades in a year or two; seems worth dropping an extra $30 now if it will future-proof me. Then again, if the mobo will need an upgrade by then anyway, that's $30 to save :pt1cable:
  9. 1. 8GB of RAM is always better than 4, If I had extra money, I would put it to more RAM, because it'll allow for more processes open
    2. It is recommended that you have at least a 600W PSU for Crossfire, but 500W is enough for 1 card.
    3. You should go with the board with the ability to upgrade
  10. Just a heads up for anybody else following along; the EXTREME4 mobo and Phenom II 955BE processor both went on sale at Newegg today.
  11. So after these very helpful replies and seeing black friday deals, here's what I'm contemplating for a final build (hoping to order soon!):

    ______________
    View it online at Newegg: https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?BundleExist=N&ID=25246888&ChangeQty=0
    ______________

    GPU ($160): 1GB Radeon 6870
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131378


    MoBo ($100): AsRock 970 EXTREME4 AM3+ AMD 970
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157262


    Monitor ($110): Acer G235HAbd 23'' 5ms 1920x1080 WideScreen LCD monitor 300 cd/m2 1000:1
    * Not even sure if I'll get this/any monitor, contemplating hooking this system up to my 47" 3d TV :)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824009266


    PSU ($40): COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W ATX12V v2.3 Power Supply
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171031'


    SSD ($90): OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227550


    RAM ($30): G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314


    Case ($36): NZXT GAMMA Classic Series GAMA-001BK Black Steel ATX
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146061


    CPU ($105): AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103808


    Total: $571 (not including the monitor). Not shabby!

    Absent is a disc drive. I don't need a burner - my laptop has one - and now that I think about it, I think I've used my disc drive in the laptop once in the past two years. Will I need this right away to install drivers and such when I'm setting up the system, or can I just rely on downloads? Rather than buy a separate blu-ray player for my TV (which I need), I'm thinking it may make more sense to put a blu-ray drive in this computer instead. Thoughts?
    ________________________

    My biggest concerns/questions for any knowledgeable folks out there are:

    1) Compatibility. As far as I can tell (which might not be very far), everything should play together nicely. Is this so?

    2) MoBo. The more I read, the more lost I get as to which MoBo to choose. I'd like to have the option to crossfire someday in the future, but besides that - I have no idea, and prices are anywhere from > $50. Does this look like the best fit for this system?

    3) I picked the 1600 RAM, as the MoBo looks like supports RAM OC'd to 1600. I've never actually overclocked anything though, so is this a safe assumption? Or should I grab RAM at 1333?

    4) Does it make sense to drop more cash upfront for a more powerful PSU, so I don't have to upgrade that in a year or so if I add another card?

    5) Do I need to invest in another cooling system? If I'm overclocking? I might be a bit paranoid about heat after having two laptops literally have plastic melt off the side.

    6) Is there anything in here that's probably an un-utilized waste of money and could be downgraded? Less $$$ is better :D

    7) Similarly, is there anywhere I could throw in another $50 or so and get significant improvements? I tried to get my head around what new hardware is coming out in the near future, and don't know if it's worth getting a few cheaper throwaway items now and upgrading in a couple months, or investing the cash upfront and saving some trouble.


    Thanks for the help everybody!
  12. 1. If you have windows 7 or an OS on a disk, you'll need an optical drive, otherwise you can go without one (unless you have games that are on a disk)
    2.The system looks compatible
    3. you better get 1333Mhz RAM, otherwise the motherboard might not accept it
    4. You probably want a more powerful PSU if you are going to Crossfire (650W would be plenty), go with a company that is reliable such as Seasonic, Corsair, Antec, or Thermaltake
    5. If you are wishing to overclock then you definitely need an aftermarket Heatsink and Fan, one around $25 is the CM Hyper 212+:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065
    which i read will fit the case perfectly
    6. The motherboard is great, you can 3 way CxF it if you need, which I doubt
    7. The SSD? You can go with this 320GB HDD from Bestbuy, then upgrade a SSD later if you wish
    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Western+Digital+-+320GB+Internal+Hard+Drive+for+Desktops/7821985.p?id=1142294266836&skuId=7821985
    8. I would recommend 2 upgrades, the first and foremost is getting a bigger case, I have the NZXT Gamma and it's a great case, but kinda small if you're going to Crossfire. You can go with this case:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042
    the second upgrade is maybe getting a better gfx card? use that $50 to upgrade to a Radeon 6950:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814103181
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