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Need Advice on a Gaming Build

Last response: in Systems
December 3, 2011 4:39:19 AM

Hello everyone, I'm posting on this forum because I am a first time builder looking for some help with my first gaming build. I plan on building it around the i5 Sandy Bridge 2500k.

Approximate Purchase Date: Plan to buy parts over time but should be completed in about 3 months.

Budget Range: 500-900 Before/ After Rebate. I may be able to push $1000 if I have to. I was hoping for it to be something of a budget build.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming>all else

Parts Not Required: CPU, OS (will probably go with Win 7 Pro)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any site I can trust. If you can recommend places that generally give good deals, that would be great as well.

Country: USA (Chicago, IL if it helps)

Parts Preferences: Again, I'd like to go with the i5 Sandy Bridge 2500k. I'm looking at using a Z68 for the mobo. No preference for nVidia vs. ATI.

Overclocking: Not right away but I would like the option available

SLI or Crossfire: Not right away but I would like the option available

Monitor Resolution: What would you recommend? Nothing over $200 please.

Additional Comments: I'm looking for something that can bring me through the next couple of years, where I can upgrade as needed. I am also looking to not break the bank. As I said, I'm new to the whole building process and so I'm still learning all of ins and outs. Thank you in advance everyone!

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a b 4 Gaming
December 4, 2011 12:10:42 AM

As you may have noticed, the big unexpected expense right now is the HDD. If you have access to a used SATA drive it would be recommended. Get an SSD now and a used HDD and add a new HDD when prices drop in 6-8 months.

CPU and ASRock board

8GB Corsair RAM

Rosewill case

Corsair 750W PSU

6950 2GB

Asus monitor

Where does that put you?

A DVD burner and an aftermarket cooler are needed yet.
December 4, 2011 12:21:42 AM

Yeah I noticed that about the hard drive. I don't really have any access to a used HDD right now. I feel like this is a silly question butw ould it be a good idea to purchase a used/refurbished one were the opportunity to present itself? Should I go with 7200 RPM or would 5400 be acceptable? Also, I know what SDD are but what would be the reason for me to have both?

Also, I'm unsure about the difference between 1333 and 1600 RAM.

All that together would be about 900. and then theres windows pro which will come in at 140. for the dvd burner ill probably go cheap so lets put that at 30 dollars.

What can you tell me about aftermarket coolers?

Thank you for the build so far though!
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a b 4 Gaming
December 4, 2011 12:30:42 AM

I'll get back to you on that if someone else doesn't hop in, short on time.
a b 4 Gaming
December 4, 2011 12:31:58 AM

A used/referb is still pretty good but you should always go for 7200RPM.

The 1600 ram is faster in benchmarks and better overclocker. Just get it as it's only $1 more expensive than 1333.

No need for coolers, just buy one when you plan to overclock.
December 4, 2011 12:35:51 AM


I wouldn't buy a used one SSD boots much quicker, you would keep your Operating System and maybe a game or two on this, stuff you want to load faster.

The hard drive would be for everything else you had on the system. for the most part a 7200 RPM is for speed, the 5400 RPM is slower to load, but uses a bit less power. I am impatient and want everything NOW. So this is what I will be using.

Great performance for the money...good luck.
a b 4 Gaming
December 4, 2011 5:42:37 AM

You can do quite a bit better if you drop the idea of future crossfire and such. Here's a build, now that I'm home, no SSD though:

  • SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-222AL/RSBS LightScribe Support
  • Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, comes with Three Fans-1x Front Blue LED 120mm Fan, 1x Top 140mm ...
  • ASUS VH236H Black 23" Full HD Widescreen LCD Monitor w/ Speakers
    Maybe this is too much, but it's hard to pass up for the price.
  • PowerColor AX6950 2GBD5-2DH Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card ...
    Another place where you could cut back. A GTX 560ti would not be as capable but would save a bit.
  • Rosewill Green Series RG630-S12 630W Continuous @40°C,80 PLUS Certified, Single 12V Rail, Active PFC "Compatible with Core ...
    For those that may think "all Rosewill PSU's are bad," no, I actually do know what I'm talking about. Many Rosewill PSU's are good.
  • CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model CML8GX3M2A1600C9
    This can be trimmed down to 4GB to save also.
  • Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 ...
  • ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.0) LGA 1155 Intel P67 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
    TOTAL: $963.92

    As you have noticed there are a few promo codes that will knock it down a bit more.

    December 4, 2011 6:56:57 AM

    that build is definitely an interesting one.
    I was actually thinking that if my funds came up shorter than expected that i might go with the best card available without sli or crossfire support(were there much of a price difference) so that i can just upgrade later

    a couple of psu related questions.
    first, i don't entirely understand the whole rail subject. i read somewhere that 12 or less Vs is ideal for an i5. I'm also not entirely sure what kind of PSU connection goes with which type of part.
    i also feel like i should get around a 700-800w psu to be safe.

    For HDD I may have to bite the bullet and buy a new one. So what would you guys recommend? I was hoping for about 1 TB but I can see it being too expensive. hopefully prices will at least go back down a little in 3 months as the factories begin to reopen.

    i'm not really willing to drop the eventual possibility of crossfire so what can you recommend in a Z68? that way i can use integrated graphics in a pinch.

    i'm really glad that i was able to get such good responses so quickly. the toms hardware community really seems to be helpful.
    a b 4 Gaming
    December 4, 2011 9:04:25 AM

    There is a PSU guide linked in my sig, that I wrote.

    Really, everything is there as far as education goes. There is no database currently but you won't need it.

    That PSU I recommended will handle any single video card, except an overclocked 6990. I probably would not recommend it for a heavily overclocked CPU and GTX 580 though.
    But since neither of those scenarios are going to happen in your case, it's a good PSU for you. You can spend more certainly. I myself use a Seasonic X650, but you'll spend an extra 90 bucks for it.

    A 700-800W PSU, if it's a real one, is going to be too much power. You want a PSU to operate at about 50% capacity under a gaming load because that's where it will be most efficient and provide the best quality power. A system with an i5 2500K and a 6950 will never break 400W draw under max gaming loads, and will be closer to 300W normally.

    Check with local stores for HDDs. Microcenter, Staples, etc. Try some small stores that may have drives in stock that they own outright and are selling at old prices.
    No reason to be fussy about brands or size at this point.

    On the board, this ASRock will keep you in the crossfire game
    December 6, 2011 2:29:46 AM

    Interesting stuff, thank you.

    I am still unsure about the PSU. If I did plan on playing games at max settings, would the PSU you recommended still apply or should I go a little higher?

    I'm still iffy on what I want in a GPU

    I will definitely have to try that for the HDD. However, were I to have my way with brands, which would you recommend?

    I actually was looking at that mobo. how does it stack up to this one?

    Sorry for the delayed response.
    a b 4 Gaming
    December 6, 2011 4:41:58 AM

    The settings of the game won't matter, the figures I've given are based on the maximum draw of the GPU already.

    This is the reference I use

    Western Digital is my personal choice for HDDs. Others may favor Seagate. Few favor Hitachi or Maxtor.
    a b 4 Gaming
    December 6, 2011 4:45:05 AM

    Yeah, No worries about that PSU Proximon suggested. It is pretty good. The 6950 is pretty good but I would get a 6950 1gb since I think you are going to buy a 1080p monitor.

    A GTX560ti is pretty good too.

    The 3 GPUs that you should be considering right now is this.

    68701gb < 560ti 1gb< 6950 1gb

    The 560ti is only a bit weaker than the 6950.
    a b 4 Gaming
    December 6, 2011 4:46:43 AM

    I would say the two boards are probably very similar in everything... the ASRock may have more voltage regulation, not sure.
    December 6, 2011 11:19:51 PM

    Alright, cool. Though I have heard the ASRock is a bit smaller than the normal ATX size but not a mini. Will that effect installation much?
    Now, I have one last question and I hope its not too irrelevant.
    Can you recommend a good guide for how to put this thing together?
    a b 4 Gaming
    December 7, 2011 5:34:16 AM

    ASRock Z68 Extreme3: 12" x 8.6"

    Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3: 12.0" x 9.6"

    ASUS P8Z68-V/GEN3: 12.0" x 9.6" (it's much less at newegg than the link you supplied)

    All three board are the same width, it's just the ASRock has an inch less depth. I don't see that as an issue.

    Has your budget changed? I'm not sure why you are looking at a board that is $95 more.

    There is a good guide linked in the sticky at the top of the forum... also linked at the bottom of my general guide as I recall.
    December 7, 2011 1:31:35 PM

    Oh well I'm happy to hear that about the ASRock. It actually may have but I was just curious about that model. Thanks for your help!
    December 7, 2011 1:33:27 PM

    Best answer selected by DercDell1.