Advice on an $800 gaming build

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next month.

Budget Range: $600-$800 (I'm hoping for about 650, but I'll pay for a computer that will last)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, streaming videos, web browsing, word processing. I may host a small MineCraft server, lol!

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers. I have an Antec 500 or 550W PSU, I'm wondering if I should upgrade or continue using it. Please recommend a power supply that would safely support the build.
Also, I have an NVIDIA GeForce 6700, but I'm sure that it's waaaay obsolete by now, right? If it is, I'll be buying a new graphics card.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any, though I've been looking primarily at newegg. I also have Amazon and Ebay accounts, lol :)

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: I've read up on the i5 Sandy Bridge a bit, and want to center my build around it.

Overclocking: Probably (how difficult is it?)

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe in the future, but not really a factor. I'm just looking for a solid gaming rig that's not gonna eat up too much money.

Monitor Resolution: I have a 22" LCD monitor that has a resolution of somewhere between 1680x1050 and 1920x1200. I haven't used it for over a year, so I'm a little fuzzy on the details.

Additional Comments: I don't need it to be fancy-looking, I just need a good, solid gaming rig that I can use for a few years. I will be replacing parts when there is enough improvement available, eg, I will probably get a newer GPU later.

I have never built a computer before, but I've been researching it for a while now and think I can handle it. It's kind of just.. putting the thing together, checking that everything works, and installing windows, right?

I was very interested in this kit from Newegg, but I realized that it's just an upgrade kit.. Would it be reasonable (and cost-effective) to create a build that adds to this kit to create a finished tower? I really love the 2TB HDD, although I suppose I could drop to 1.5TB.

Another thing: I may be getting my friend's broken HP tower. It's only about 2 years old, but it doesn't turn on for one reason or another. I'm pretty sure something's wrong with the HDD. Would it be possible to use that as a case and try to scrap it for parts (maybe for the build)? Lol, let me know if that's a ridiculous idea.

I'll be checking this post tonight, any and all help is appreciated. I'm not in a hurry to buy this, and want to make sure that I have a good build going before I order anything. Thanks guys.

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  1. The build below would be a solid gaming rig and allows for some upgrading down the road for CPU and MEM. If you were to upgrade the GPU the PSU would need to be done at the same time. As it is now, the Antec 500w PSU you have now is perfectly fine for the HD 6790 or similar GPU.

    NOTE: Hard drive prices are high at the moment. If you can recycle one, or find one used from a friend, that may be the better choice at the moment. Upgrade later to an SSD and move the HD you find now a storage / apps role.

    MB - ASUS P8P67 (REV 3.1) - $135
    CPU - i3-2100 - $125
    GPU - XFX HD 6790 - $110
    MEM - G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 4GB DDR3-1333 CL7 - $32
    HD - Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB - $140
    OPTICAL - ASUS Black 24X DVD-RW - $19
    PSU - The Antec 500w you currently have.
    CASE - NZXT Mid Tower - $36
    OS - Windows 7 Home Premium x64 - $100

  2. Best answer - $69.99
    MSI LGA1155/Intel H67(B3)/DDR3/SATA3/A&GbE/MATX Motherboard H67MS-E43 (B3) - $189.99
    Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I52400 - $29.99
    G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL - $89.99
    Seagate Barracuda 500 GB 7200RPM SATA NCQ 16 MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Desktop Hard Drive ST3500641AS-RK-Retail Kit - $16.99
    LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model GH22NS90B - OEM - $199.77
    ASUS Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express Dual DVI/HDMI Video Card with Eyefinity EAH6870 DC/2DI2S/1GD5 - $99.99
    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit - OEM

    PSU - reuse
    Case - your choice

    total without case: $696.71

    *right now hard drives are over-priced. get a smaller one and upgrade later
    **you will not be able to overclock nor sli with this build, but it should max out most games @ 1680 or very high @ 1920 resolution
  3. laurezard said:

    Another thing: I may be getting my friend's broken HP tower. It's only about 2 years old, but it doesn't turn on for one reason or another. I'm pretty sure something's wrong with the HDD. Would it be possible to use that as a case and try to scrap it for parts (maybe for the build)? Lol, let me know if that's a ridiculous idea.

    I'll be checking this post tonight, any and all help is appreciated. I'm not in a hurry to buy this, and want to make sure that I have a good build going before I order anything. Thanks guys.


    Just to comment on this part that HP case will likely not work for what you want it for. When working on the inside of cases of peoples computers that I have worked on most of them that were made by Dell, HP, etc always seemed to have all of the connectors for the front panel as one part unlike most cases you would buy for building computers that use individual cables for the power and reset button along with the individual lights. Given this they will only connect to HP motherboards as boards from Asus etc that you are going to be buying don't have a consistent layout for where these cables go.

    Basically what this means is the board will physically fit in the case, but unless you do some major mod work the front panel (power button, power LED, pc speaker) will not work as you can't connect it to the motherboard without doing some extra work.
  4. Thanks guys, you've been a great help to me. I'm really sorry I haven't gotten back to you earlier. I looked over the post but didn't have time to respond because of college finals and studying over the weekend. I really appreciate all of the suggestions about parts and the tips about the case!

    I've also been trying to fix up that tower, but it ended up freezing during a factory restore and i was forced to turn it off. Now the HDD doesn't have the recovery partition on it, and is only sometimes recognized in the boot menu. Sigh.. I'm not sure if it's really breaking or if it's just because of the shoddy recovery that was done on it. I made a whole post about it here, if you think you can help me with it!
    Right now, I'm wondering if the best thing to do might be to slave it and completely wipe it. If I do that, though, I would have to buy a completely new version of windows to reinstall right?

    The way my budget is right now, I may end up fixing that drive (even if that means buying windows new) and just sticking a graphics card in the tower to tide me over until I get all the pieces for a custom rig (going off of your suggestions :wahoo: )

    What are your thoughts? I will probably still gather all the required pieces (and a new case) for a custom tower this winter, but what should I do for now? Do you also think that my best bet is to completely wipe it and buy a fresh copy of windows? There should be no issues with doing that, right?

    PS: Do you think that the hard drive will fail again if I install a new version of windows on it, or that it's only failing now because of the messed-up recovery I did? And if I do install, say, Windows 7 on it, and it fails, am I allowed to buy a new drive and install the same copy of windows or would I have to buy a new key for it? Thanks guys, this is something I'm really curious about...

    Best regards, Lauren
  5. Copies of Windows are either tied to a single machine(Retail) or motherboard(OEM). So installing windows on a new HD will not be an issue as long as the copy of Windows is only being used on that motherboard using the original license key(As it is likely an OEM copy). So in this case there is no reason to buy a new copy of windows as long as you can get your hand on an install disk. If the copy of windows you are using is either Vista or 7 all you need is a disk that is the same bit(32 or 64) and the same version (Home Premium etc) unless you can find Legitimately made master copy (will ask for the version of windows when installing and is either 32 or 64bit).

    Given the issues you are currently having when you install Windows I would not recommend entering your key (Vista, 7, XP SP3) when going through the install and waiting until you know for sure your system works. This will let you run on a 30 Trial license you can enter your key once you know the system is fixed. (you can reset the 30 day countdown timer at any time even when expired by using the command prompt as admin and typing "slmgr /rearm" this will work 3 times giving you a total of 120days to use the trial).

    BTW if you are using an Upgrade copy the license is based on the one you upgraded from originally.
  6. Thanks caqde. Very informative. So in order to do a fresh install of windows, I should completely format my messed up hard disk right? Can I just slave it and run the windows formatting program, and format it to NTFS? Will that be sufficient for installing Windows Vista or 7 on it? Thanks!

    Also, just curious about that command prompt thing: Does that only work 3 times for the disc, or 3 times on each hard drive you install it on? Just wondering.
  7. On the first depends if there is information you want off it I would grab that first, but yeah just have the installer format it.

    On the second part it is per installation. So technically you would run windows for 4 months forever... Not that it would be very practical having to reinstall windows every 4 months.
  8. All right, I was just curious, haha. Thanks for helping me. I'm having an issue with installing windows 7 though! I have a disc for it and formatted the drive through the custom installation. I didn't have any data on it because I had previously backed it up and then it got corrupted. Anyway, after formatting it via the installation (which surprisingly only took about 3 seconds for 50 gbs of data, is that weird?) I continued on and it got to the part of the installation with like 5 steps on it.

    The first step was to copy all the windows files and it completed in a few seconds. It was so fast it made me wonder if something was wrong.. The second step was "expanding windows files" and it freezes on 1%. The first time I tried it, it froze with hard disk indicator light off. The second time, the light was stuck on. Each time, I could press escape on my keyboard and stop the installation, which it would do, but then I'd have to hard-reset my computer.

    I looked up the problem and someone was able to follow this video, basically booting up and installing windows 7 off of a flash drive.

    I'm setting up the drive right now, but I'm skeptical. I'll post back with results, but in the meantime do you have any other ideas of what I could try, in case the flash drive method doesn't work? Thanks!
  9. Well the hdd is completely broken. Turns out it was a defective model, and even though it was repaired once, it broke again within two month's use. I bought a 500 GB Momentus XT hybrid drive. I'm pretty satisfied with the specs, since I'm on a budget. Also it's $60 off right now at newegg, coming down to a total of only $90. If anyone's interested, here's the link.
    The sale lasts until 12/21/2011, and you have to put in the promo code at checkout to get the $50 savings!

    Thanks to everyone who posted, it was a great help to me. Along with the hybrid hdd, I got an Asus p8z68 pro/gen3 mobo, an intel i5, and a rosewill challenger case. I have 8 gigs of ram which I'll use and of course my own PSU. I think it's gonna be perfect for what I need. I'm going to get a cooling system later, probably a Corsair H60, and a 1.5-2 TB drive when the prices come down. I'll use it in conjunction with the hybrid I ordered.

    Anyway, I just wanted to let everyone know that I really appreciate all the help and guidance. I wouldn't have known where to start without you all!

    Lauren :hello:
  10. Best answer selected by laurezard.
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