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First Time Builder - Gaming Rig ~$1000-1200 Budget

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December 9, 2011 4:35:26 PM

So I'm completely new to building PCs and I've done a decent amount of research trying to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck + futureproofing in my budget range. I understand that you can't really get amazing future-proofability without dishing out some decent dough, but if I can get a system that doesn't require any major upgrading such as crossfire for at least a year then I'm happy.


Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next 2-3 weeks

Budget Range: Around $1000-1200 after rebates

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, 3D modeling/animating that kind of stuff, various casual computer stuff like surfing the web etc

Parts Not Required: Mouse, keyboard

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, perhaps amazon

Country: US

Parts Preferences: Don't really have any preferences

Overclocking: Eventually

SLI or Crossfire: Eventually

Monitor Resolution: 1920 x 1080

Additional Comments:

I want to keep things as cheap as I can, while still considering some future-proofing and overall value/overclocking and crossfire, etc. I'm really hoping to get a system that can play BF3 on ultra with relatively good wiggle room, at least above 30 fps consistently on average. I certainly don't want to go the cheapest route now, only to have to upgrade a few months down the road to keep up with games.

This is my first time ever building a PC, so if there is any advice you can give me concerning parts and such, I would greatly appreciate it.


My List So Far:


CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge - $219.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - $137.55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Cooler/fan thing: COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO - $33.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: Rosewill CHALLENGER Black Gaming ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU: GIGABYTE GV-R695OC-1GD Radeon HD 6950 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - $239.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: OCZ ZT Series 750W Fully-Modular 80PLUS Bronze High Performance Power Supply - $99.99 After Rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) - $46.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: HITACHI HDS721050CLA362 (0F10381) 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" - $86.28
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Drive thing: ASUS DRW-24B1ST SATA 24x DVD Burner - $18.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: Acer G235HAbd 23" WideScreen LCD - $148.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS: Windows 7 Home Edition 64-bit - $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Total - $1182.73 After shipping and rebates.


So far I have a few questions and concerns:

The PSU is only 750W - will this be okay if and when I decide to crossfire and all that jazz, or should I invest in something even higher now? I realize 750W is more than a single GPU like mine would require, so the reason I went with 750 was to leave room for another GPU and such in the future.

As far as the GPU ( 6950 1GB ) goes - worth getting the 2GB instead? I've heard some people succeed at essentially turning it into a 6970 2GB, but I have no experience doing any of that and I wouldn't want to mess up my card. I found a 6970 2gb on amazon for around $300 after rebate. So I'm wondering, is it worth dishing out the extra $60-70 to get that performance boost jumping from the 6950 1gb to a 6970 2gb, or am I better off saving some money and sticking with the 6950.

From the few benchmarks I've seen, the 6970 2gb doesn't appear to be a heck of a lot greater in FPS, and it seems like the 6950 1gb would give me plenty of performance and future-proofing as it is. What do you think?

6970 2GB - $299 after rebate
http://www.amazon.com/Radeon-XFX-6970-Graphics-Card/dp/...


Anyways, is there anything I should consider changing? Is there anything I might be missing that you can see? Are the parts compatible? Let me know! thanks :) 





December 9, 2011 6:30:30 PM

Looks good, the "card flashing" is definately for the people who know what they are doing and get the right kind of HW to do it.
The 2GB framebuffer helps a little bit with high levels of antialiasing but generally, the 6950 should pretty much max out or atleast play very high settings at 1920x1080.
As for BF3 the 6950 should be enough.
BF3 performance in multiplayer
The link lists 6950 being fine for 1920x1080.

The only thing I would consider is upgrading the motherboard to an MSI, Asus or Gigabyte model with PCIe Gen3 support.
Might cost $40-50, but gives you a better upgrade path.

Since it's on sale this weekend, might also consider the Antec 300 Illusion, great airflow and solid case, $49.99 before $10 MIR.
December 10, 2011 5:26:29 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $124.99 - $114.99 after mail-in rebate FREE SHIPPING
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $243.98 FREE SHIPPING
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R1 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 1366/1155 and AMD FM1/AM3+

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $49.99 - $39.99 after mail-in rebate FREE SHIPPING
Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $29.99 FREE SHIPPING
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $139.99 FREE SHIPPING
Gateway FHX2152Lbd Black 21.5" 1920x1080 2ms Full HD LED BackLight LCD Monitor Slim Design 250 cd/m2 1000:1


http://www.asrock.com/mb/overview.asp?Model=Z68%20Extre... <---- another look at that board

http://www.asrock.com/microsite/PCIe3/ <----- PCI-E 3.0
Related resources
December 10, 2011 8:57:05 AM

Hey guys, thanks for the replies! Those benchmarks are pretty re-assuring rvilkman :) 

Unless someone can point out a better option, I think the 6950 1gb is my choice for now. I think I'll take that ram you suggested Why_Me - certainly a lot cheaper.

So I'm considering that ASRock board now, I'll probably dig deeper on it - PCI-E 3.0 definitely seems like the way to go; I know I've seen these ASRock boards popping up around tomshardware lately, do you guys have any personal experience with them? Are they pretty reliable compared to a brand-name?

Also, looking at other builds and power-consumption benches, it seems like my 750W PSU might be overkill, even for crossfire and such - would you say that is the case? Should I maybe downgrade to a 650W or lower, or is it worth holding onto the 750 for a few more bucks?

The reviews on that Antec 300 seem a bit better than my other case, and I've seen it used in builds before so I think I'll go with that. Would you say it'll easily hold all my current and perhaps future parts without much trouble?

Also this may seem silly but - do I need thermal paste? lol

Thanks again, I really appreciate it.
December 10, 2011 9:54:46 AM

Why_Me said:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $124.99 - $114.99 after mail-in rebate FREE SHIPPING
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... $243.98 FREE SHIPPING
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R1 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 1366/1155 and AMD FM1/AM3+

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $49.99 - $39.99 after mail-in rebate FREE SHIPPING
Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $29.99 FREE SHIPPING
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBXL


Since you can save a few bucks from these products I would recommend you to go for a better gpu that at the moment is one of the best value for money:
EVGA 012-P3-2068-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 448 Cores Classified 1280MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... its for $289 but its worth it. its clocked at 797Mhz and cause of that has performance equal and more of than 570, at $50 less! (there is a review of reference and a lower clocked 560ti 448 on tom's. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-560-ti-... )
December 10, 2011 7:08:58 PM

Memnarchon said:
Since you can save a few bucks from these products I would recommend you to go for a better gpu that at the moment is one of the best value for money:
EVGA 012-P3-2068-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 448 Cores Classified 1280MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... its for $289 but its worth it. its clocked at 797Mhz and cause of that has performance equal and more of than 570, at $50 less! (there is a review of reference and a lower clocked 560ti 448 on tom's. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-560-ti-... )


Cool, I gave it a bit of a look - thanks for the suggestion! Also, since I managed to find a 6970 2gb for $299, would it be better to get that instead of the 560 Ti 448? I looked at a comparison earlier of the two and it seems that in some cases one card will do better than the other, and on another game, the other card will win.
December 10, 2011 7:39:27 PM

Darktactic said:
Cool, I gave it a bit of a look - thanks for the suggestion! Also, since I managed to find a 6970 2gb for $299, would it be better to get that instead of the 560 Ti 448? I looked at a comparison earlier of the two and it seems that in some cases one card will do better than the other, and on another game, the other card will win.


Indeed, they are quite evenly matched. Pretty but depends on the games you play. 6970's have a bigger framebuffer so they are better at higher resolutions and AA's.
But look for the games you play and pick :) 
!