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Building a budget BF3/etc. PC

Last response: in Systems
November 23, 2011 5:20:05 PM

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:

OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
Model #:o CZSSD2-2VTXE60G

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

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

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

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

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

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!

More about : building budget bf3

November 23, 2011 5:55:38 PM

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

Graphics: RADEON 6870 $160

MoBo: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ $85

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US $40

Case: NZXT Gamma $36 (free shipping on Amazon)



Heatsink+Fan: STOCK $0

DVD-ROM: LG DVD Burner 24X DVD+R $19

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:

But it can't crossfire the gfx card.
November 23, 2011 6:15:15 PM

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)?
Related resources
November 23, 2011 6:23:37 PM

If you are getting an SSD, I would get this SSD, it's $100 and has a larger capacity:

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
November 23, 2011 6:32:06 PM

r0aringdrag0n said:

MoBo: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ $85

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
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
November 23, 2011 6:33:49 PM

It says crossfire capable in the specifications... :o 
November 23, 2011 10:10:35 PM

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
November 23, 2011 11:02:59 PM

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: 
November 23, 2011 11:36:32 PM

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
November 24, 2011 1:51:25 PM

Just a heads up for anybody else following along; the EXTREME4 mobo and Phenom II 955BE processor both went on sale at Newegg today.
November 24, 2011 4:36:21 PM

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:

GPU ($160): 1GB Radeon 6870

MoBo ($100): AsRock 970 EXTREME4 AM3+ AMD 970

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 :)

PSU ($40): COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W ATX12V v2.3 Power Supply'

SSD ($90): OCZ Vertex 2 OCZSSD2-2VTXE60G 2.5" 60GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

RAM ($30): G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)

Case ($36): NZXT GAMMA Classic Series GAMA-001BK Black Steel ATX

CPU ($105): AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W

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!
November 24, 2011 6:03:26 PM

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+:
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
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:
the second upgrade is maybe getting a better gfx card? use that $50 to upgrade to a Radeon 6950: