$500-700 Upgradable Gaming PC

Approximate Purchase Date: In the next month

Budget Range: 500-700. However I have no real budget, I just figure that's how much I'd like to spend.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Surfing Internet, Games (Tribes Ascend, maybe Skyrim), Encoding Video, Compressing / Decompressing

Parts Not Required: OS, Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor. I also am fine with onboard NIC, onboard sound.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Ones who have a nice return policy.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Don't need a full tower, I like AMD but I don't think they are competing to Intel right now.

Overclocking: Maybe in future.

SLI or Crossfire: Probably in future.

Monitor Resolution: My HDTV is 720P, however I will probably upgrade to 1080P

Additional Comments:

I would like to make a rather budget gaming PC right now that can play most of the new games super high detail in medium to low resolution. Most specifically Tribes Ascend (requires 512MB card) and Skyrim, and any popular FPS.

I decided the best bang for the buck is probably a Intel i5 2500k. I heard you can over clock them to 4-5ghz with the right air cooling. I would not be overclocking from the get go, so I think a standard heatsink is OK. But I would like to get a new heatsink and overclock in months to come. And if need be, upgrade the CPU.

I think I would like to start off with 4-8GB and eventually go up to 12GB. I know this means 64bit OS. I think 4GB is an old standard, I rnb out of 3GB with my current CPU doing non-gaming.

I want a motherboard that can do SLI/Crossfire. I want to start with 1 graphics card for now and as I need more as games get more advance just add more to it. I knew you could go 2 GPUs, but now I heard of TRI SLI and quad? What options are those? within budget?

I would prefer a quiet PC. I think the best way to do that is water cooling or a silent case. I think water cooling is out of the budget and too hard to install, so maybe ideas on the best silent cases. I like the NZXT ones. Good?

Is SSD worth it? I use 200-300 GB on my C:\ alone. I have a 1TB WD My book.

I dont need anything but a DVD burner/writer. No blu-ray, unless they figured out how to make PS3 games burnable lol.

Back in 2000 I custom built a PC, or attempted. I had slipped while putting on the heatsink with a flathead (those things took so much force) and broke the motherboard. So I got a new MB and took it to a friend. He must of forgot the thermal paste or installed the heatsink wrong, or I had a bad CPU because my AMD Athlon started to smoke within 10 seconds of turning it on. Since then I have always bought from Dell Outlet for the price/warranty prebuilt. Now a days I think motherboard and heatsink makers install CPUs using a magical invention called levers, go figure. SO I feel more confident now, but still wary. Wow that was long winded, the point of that was.....

I want easy to install components...

-- summary --

I would like to start with 1 graphics card, stock CPU, 8GB ram. Overclock the CPU, adding 1-2 more graphics card, add more ram, get a new CPU as needed.
39 answers Last reply
More about upgradable gaming
  1. aznshinobi said:

    You say the 960T has a "possibility" to unlock to 6 cores. Has it ever been done with this mobo? and what are the average % of people getting it to work? What kind of performance gain can I expect?

    Found a TH article here: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-x4-960t-zosma-core-unlocking,2627.html

    The PowerColor 6950 looks nice, I have never heard of PowerColor (havent been into hardware since 00). Are they good? I like that I saw the 6950 2GB could be unlocked to a 6970 as far as shaders go. I also like the more quiet load DB on the 6950 compared to the 6850 (one I was considering). I am just trying to justify almost $100 more for the 6950 over 6850.

    The mobo you selected seems to be the very lowest end of crossfire support. Can it support two 6950's down the road?

    I dont think 520 watts would be enough I i wanted to run dual 6950's down the road.
  2. About the gpu, at the moment the PowerColor 6950 2GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131393 is not a good buy at $255. For a few $ more you can have the EVGA 012-P3-2068-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti (Fermi) 448 Cores Classified 1280MB at $289 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130739 which is at the moment the king of value for money at this price segment.
    At 732Mhz is around 6% faster than 6950.
    At 765Mhz has same power like 6970/gtx570.
    This comes at 797Mhz...
    source: ...actually you can find benchmarks everywhere but this is a summary of 765mhz (not 797mhz which is this one): http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zotac/GeForce_GTX_560_Ti_448_Cores/27.html
    Edit: About the rest that aznshinobi recommended, at these price are superb choices.
  3. Powercolor is a solid brand that has made a name for itself, though not like Sapphire or etc. So people don't really no about them, they do make great products though. I couldn't find a review for that specific PowerColor model, but the other 6950 2GB reviews on other Powercolor models were very good and showed that the company was a competitor, specially with prices.

    As for Crossfire, yes you can and it'll run fine on that motherboard just because it's cheap doesn't mean its bad. It'll run 8x/8x which is better than most boards that cost $100.

    520w will NOT run 2x6950's but with your budget being so tight, you can upgrade that later since you already have the ability to run 8x/8x. But if you want to fork out about $40 more now you can get a 750w that'll run 6950 CF
    Non Modular but has rebate
    Your pick.

    As for the 560 Ti 448 Core, I chose not to recommend it since it was tight on budget, also boards that can SLI cost more so theres more cost down there. Plus @ 1920x1080, this is debateable, but the 6950 2GB only performs 10% less than the 448. The 6950 is $35 cheaper which isn't a lot, but the 6950 can overclock as well. In fact get up to and past a 6970's level.
    That's with the Core being 950mhz, Most cards can get up to about 1ghz on the 6950 if you actually tried and it gets pretty good from there. Though I do agree, the 560 Ti 448 is a great card for the price. But I think the 6950 2GB/1GB is too.
  4. If you do plan to SLI/CF down the road i would avoid the 560 Ti 448. It is a niche card that nvidia has said will only make a limited number of. This would make an upgrade very difficult in a year or so when you want to buy another but cant find one due to the small number made. just my 2 cents
  5. Powercolor GPUs work well but are poor for overclocking unless you buy "deluxe" models
    but i'm with aznshinobi on the 6950 over the 560ti 448 core it will use a lot less power im not sure I would want to run the 570/560 ti 448 on that psu
  6. What do you guys think about going with ATI Radeon 6850 or 6870 instead of the 6950 to save on price. Please note that I just need to play with very good graphics on a 720p HDTV. I can't even go beyond 720p
  7. If you need a heater .. get Hd6950
    imo best card for the money right now is 560Ti at ~$220 u can oc it to the levels of 570
    and at 720p ( and later on 1080p) it will handle every game perfectly fine. U won't have trouble with drivers and game compatibility ( they seems to favor nvidia)

    for the case .. HAF 912 is a poor choice as it is not quiet and has no air filters except in front. Go for Fractal Design Arc Midi .. or Define R3 ... if you decide later on to add watercooling - best case for the money
    decide on PSU .. as I think if u plan on sli/cf it's better start with one that's capable of doing that - 750W+
    also check for microcenter close by
    and consider going 2500k route if u can stretch ur budget
  8. Lol MadChemist the 6950 STOCK is hot, but many in fact all the 6950's now are mostly nonreference coolers that run cool.

    Also I do agree the 560 Ti is good, but saying that it can OC to a 570 is like saying the 6950 can OC to the 6970's level. The 6970 > 570 at higher resolutions (some part being the 2GB and some part being the design for multimonitor etc.)

    As for the 6870, just go with that if you plan on staying at 720P. The 6870 will do just fine, and at $160 it's the best card for the buck at 720P.

    I actually suggest the Antec 300 Illusion, solid deal for it now, it'll give you great airflow for $50

    As for PSU to SLI, since you've dropped down to a 6870, the Antec 650w will do fine. If you ever plan to CF.
  9. I really like the 6870 for a 1366 x 720/768 and the price is right !
  10. Yeah for that resolution it's the best choice. But if OP decides to update to 1080p later on it will suck a duck. And for psu might as well go with ocz modxstream pro.
  11. mad come on 6870 isn't so bad at 1920x1080 with a few lowered settings you can get by pretty well...hell I get by with a 5770 (until I get my corporate bonus)
  12. ^+1

    Mad, the 6870 isn't terrible at 1080P in fact it's pretty decent, but with lowered settings. The 6950 is defiantly a better option at that resolution, but if OP wants to cut costs the 6870 is a good fall back card.

    What Modxstream are you talking about?
  13. O>O $90 before rebates... That's a pretty hefty rebate that may not come...
  14. huh? rebate like rebate .. intel had $80 rebate on back friday
    stop being such a snob and copy-pasting ur build in every single post
  15. Mad you are a troll in every thread I've seen (Every is an overstatement but some is an understatement) Don't troll when you have no evidence to back it up.

    The fact is that not all companies honor their MIRs, some do but they don't come for several months. The evidence here is reviews off of many products and many forum members have posted about it as well.

    I'll copy and paste my build all I want, why don't you come up with a better build then? If my build fits the OPs requirements I don't see why I wouldn't post.
  16. all I'm saying is that rebate is legit as any other rebate ... nothing bad about ur build
    and that term troll I found demeaning so please refrain from further use of it
    AMD crappy cpu is worse then intel .. fact
    PNY memory would not hold up even in USb sticks they make .. full of errors ..fact
    power Color GPU's are lower quality build
    Asrock mobo's is cheap knock of off Asus
    read some reviews on HardOCP about ur beloved Asrock boards .. no good
    HAF 912 doesn't have filters (just in front) and there are better cases in that price range
    and it seems to me like that PSU will be borderline in that system
    offering 480W on 12V rail
    and then u suggest to oc cpu and gpu?
    and here is your build fall apart just like that .. poof
    so maybe try researching a bit more son
  17. Mad is right about a big rebate to rely on.

    there is a 650 OCZ for 69 after rebate 20 rebate on newegg


    $65 with rebate and less with

    10% off w/ promo code SAVEPSUDEC12, ends 12/31

    Sounds better to me. If 50 watts makes or breaks the deal you already need bigger PSU
  18. LOL OK mad.

    I don't deny Intel chips are better, at the higher end. On the lower end, AMD is great. The 960T can unlock and THG review shows that the percentage is pretty high. In fact with that said. Here's the review: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/phenom-ii-x4-960t-zosma-core-unlocking,2627-6.html

    The review was a while back, now we know the 960T is out clearly and the chip is pretty good. The unlocked chip would be much better than an i3 2100 which is more expensive than the 960T, even if you end up not being able to unlock the 960T uses the Thuban arch well and runs well like a 955, plus it can OC unlike the i3 2100.

    PNY is not the greatest, but it's a good price and offers pretty good performance.
    That review shows that the PNY is solid for the dollar so I don't know what your talking about, the Kingston RAM beats the PNY only slightly in Perf/dollar but this was made when memory was expensive, the PNY is so cheap and still performs well as the review shows.

    Please show me a review where it states "PowerColor ha s lower quality build"

    Show me a review where Asrock boards knock off Asus boards. Asrock was part of Asus at one point but has quickly become one of the better MB manufacturers out there offering great performance for the dollar. Looking at all of Asus's boards, the cheapest board they have that is AM3+ compatible and 8x/8x is $150. That's $70 more than the board I suggested. And if you wanted to talk about the fact that the Asrock is the older 8xx chipset, the newer Asrock Extreme4 970 is $40 less than that Asus board. Clearly Asus's MB's and parts are way overpriced.
    For some one that builds budget computers, Asrock offers great performance/features for the buck. As shown in this review:
    (Couldn't find any other AMD MB roundups of lowerend)

    The 912 I don't really mind. It's just easier to build with since it has tool-less and easier cablemanagement holes.

    The 520C is based on the Seasonic S12II Bronze design, it's also a solid PSU for only $55. One of the better ones below $60. The 520 gets nearly 80+ Bronze but falls short only by a little and which is why it ended up being just an 80+ cert. PSU. Overall the thing is decent but good for the price, so I don't know what the issue is there. Plenty of people on the forum have run a 955 OC'd+6870 setup with the CX430 so I don't know what's wrong with this one.
    SOURCE: http://forums.guru3d.com/showthread.php?t=317192

    I also don't doubt, a rebate is a rebate. True, but OCZ has had a history of not returning rebates. Many say they didn't get it, many say they did.
  19. look at HardOCP for Arock reviews.
    And Asus overpriced for a reason .. they build quialty, soldering and performance is better. Even higher Asrock is not that good http://hardocp.com/article/2011/11/09/asrock_z68_extreme4_gen3_motherboard_review/
    IMO there is no reason going with amd .. when you can get a board that can house updated CPus in couple years when all AMD will be making is mobile cpus
  20. Uhh... Not true, AMD's next-gen Piledriver will be releasing. Just because AMD is targeting Mobile doesn't mean they've dropped out of the CPU game.

    I read HardOCP's review and I think they're being a bit harsh in the fact that Asrock didn't supply them with the board to review. THEY EVEN TARGET THE DIMM SLOT COLORS... Like wtf... Who targets that in the MB review?

    Also, Asus, overpriced for a reason? Explain the marketing scheme of the Sabertooth "Tactical vest" That thing BARELY helps but at the added cost of about $30 to comparable boards.

    Asus is a good company I give them that, but some products they need to tone down the pricing. We can toss around reviews all day.
  21. ok i'm not talking about Sabertooth .. that's another bag o bones
    color was just whatever .. main thing was that u have to reboot pc everytime u do any changes in bios which is pretty annoying .. also PCB does feel flimsy and thin
    also HardOCP is one of the best review websites and I honestly rather pay extra $30 in order to have way better mobo in the core of my system
    PCI e 3.0 on Asrock is not even hardware integrated .. just software .. and it is gimmick anyways .. that's all they had over other boards when they came out
    and people where going ape *** cause of that even though PCIe 3.0 will not get saturated in another 2-3 years .. and by that time Asrock mobo will run out of warranty and die anyways.
    I'm happy to hear that it worked out for some users as they obviously saved some money but in the long run I would stay away from poor layout and flimsy PCB
  22. Lol HardOCP is one of those sites that has those reviews that are sometimes good, but sometimes bad. I personally don't like using HardOCP reviews unless they're the only one left mainly because some of there comparisons are a bit... meh...

    As for the integration
    An onboard controller is evidence enough for me that they use hardware for it...

    Gen3 is a gimmick because people don't understand that Ivy Bridge will be the only chips that can take advantage of it.

    As for PCI 3.0 saturation, that's quite false. The next lineup of 7xxx and GTX 6xx will be using PCI 3.0
  23. they will use it but not saturate it (do you have HD7xxx or GTX 6xx laying around to prove it?)
    is there anything that can saturate SATA 6gbs ?
    and that is true only IB can enable PCIe 3.0 .. so you think someone will shell out $500 for it next year and then extra $300 for GPU just for PCIe3.0 ???
  24. Actually if you say that, then we haven't even fully saturated PCI 2.0 yet. I'm just saying those cards will be using PCI 3.0

    Oh and there are plenty of people that would shell out $500 for it. I mean you say it yourself, you're willing to shell out $100 more for a 2500K or $30 more for a MB so there's bound to be people out there who would shell out $400 more for a CPU (This is in terms of the 960T's pricing). I understand the performance gain, I'm just saying in terms of price.
  25. 2500k only cost me $180 :)
  26. ^

    What are you trying to do advertise? The 6850 is not even close to the best and it's only $150, "Gaming" memory my ass, I've never even heard of the company. Memory makes less than 1-2% in gaming anyways.
  27. I haven't heard from op if he has micro center close by. Do u ?
  28. Mad is an Intel and nvidia fanboy. he is too biased to make a decently judged decision. an i5-2500k and GTX 560 ti is not the answer to everything.

    Here is you a build

    i3-2100 124.99

    Gigabyte z68 MOBO 109.99

    8gb Crucial ballistix 39.99

    sapphire 6850 144.99

    OCZ 750w modular PSU 99.99

    Antec 300 Case 69.99

    seagate 500gb HDD 84.99


    Plenty of room to uprade with another 6850, able to add more ram, upgrade to another CPU etc.
  29. you could switch out the i3 for an amd quadcore but finding a decent amd board that will handle crossfire is kinda pricey
  30. Hey don't be hating. Just going for the best. And it's all depends on the budget :)
    Why getting z68 board? When u get 2100? Or do u plan on suggesting to put ib in it? Might as well go for h61.
    Also for 5 bucks more u can get way better case. Fractal design core 3000.
  31. madchemist83 said:
    I haven't heard from op if he has micro center close by. Do u ?

    Nope :|
  32. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161393
    and add HIS IceQ Hd6870
    ~$600 ( and ~$40 MIR)
  33. ^ That's not that great of a card, mind you it's close to the cost of a 560 Ti.
    This'll save you some money
    This will save some, but offer similar cooling.
  34. Are you serious ? It's $40 away from 560ti that op doesn't have. Its great gpu http://www.legionhardware.com/articles_pages/his_radeon_hd_6870_iceq_1gb,9.html
    It has way better cooling then other two suggested and it's only 10 extra after mir.
    Stop trolling and grow a pair :)
  35. Lol Madchemist, you need to stop being a hypocrite. You troll all day.

    As for the card at the time when I was looking at it, it was $180. Not $170. If you say it has way better cooling, you're mistaken.
    Similar/better cooling.
  36. ok whatever floats ur boat man
  37. Just an update for those involved, I decided I wanted a 2500k but no matter how I tried to budget I couldnt get it under 700 with a nice PSU and cooler, etc. I decided to look on ebay and bidded one made from Ibuypower, owner didn't need it anymore.

    Asus P8Z68-V
    Intel 2500K overclocked to 4.5 ghz
    Corsair H60
    8 GB RAM
    EVGA superclocked Geforce 560 Ti
    NXZT Apollo case
    Thermaltake TR2 TRX-750M
    Windows 7 Home Premium with office starter.

    Want to thank everyone who replied to this thread as your suggestions and links led me to research more and get more knowledge in what I wanted in a PC.
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