Cheap but upgradable gaming PC - first time builder!

Hey Guys!
I'm totally new at building PCs and not really up to date concerning PC hardware (have moved to Macs for the last few years). I would like to build my own machine now. My goal is to build sort of a cheap "base" system that I can easily upgrade over time as needed (Processor, Graphics). I think a socket 1155 system with compatibility to ivy bridge would make sense for me.


Approximate Purchase Date: before 2012, if I can get a affordable hard disc by then.

Budget Range: 400-500$ or Swiss Francs Before Rebates - I know this is a really tight budget, but I'm sure you can help me to get the best value for money ;-)

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
Gaming (Skyrim, stuff like DotA 2, LoL, TF2, Guild Wars 2 (not out yet)) - I know that I can't expect the games to run on super-ultimate settings, don't worry :P
For all the other stuff I have my MacBook Air and a HTPC..

Parts Not Required: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor (1920x1080), Speakers, OS (Win7 - I'm a student and get it for free)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: since I'm coming from Switzerland that would be www.digitec.ch - but you can just post the links of newegg.com or whatever page you prefer.

Country: Switzerland

Parts Preferences:
Intel i3/i5 Sandy bridge, socket 1155 MoBo, maybe Nvidia graphics
I'm not sure about case size, I'd prefer a midi case, if that will get me equal components performance-wise for the same price (I don't need 18 USB ports btw ;-) )

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: I know this is not the easiest request :P
11 answers Last reply
More about cheap upgradable gaming time builder
  1. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115078 - $124.99
    Intel Core i3-2100 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32100

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128527 - $49.99
    GIGABYTE GA-H61M-DS2 LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220537 - $19.99
    Patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model PSD34G1333K

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148767 - $84.99
    Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119233&Tpk=coolermaster%20912 - $49.99
    COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027 - $59.99 - $20MIR
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168141505407 - $109.99 - $20MIR
    XFX HD-677X-ZNLC Radeon HD 6770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151233 - $16.99
    SAMSUNG CD/DVD Burner 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model SH-222AB - OEM

    Total: $516.92 - $40MIR

    ***no sli/xfire
  2. Thank you a lot for your work, I really appreciate it! I have made some changes to the build, I would love to hear some feedback.


    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115077 - $124.99 + about 5$ (difference at my local shop)
    Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32120
    -> The price difference between the 2100 and the 2120 is negligible here, will it give me a little speed bump?

    http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=3794 - $49.99 + about 10$ (difference at my local shop)
    Gigabyte H61M-D2H-USB3 B3, Intel H61 Chipset, 1155Pin
    -> didn't find that one at newegg, but it has USB 3.0 ports

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820220537 - $19.99
    Patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model PSD34G1333K
    -> I'll maybe go with 2x4GB, I'll think about it, doesn't really make a difference..

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148767 - $84.99
    Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
    -> That's why I may have to delay the project, those prices are just astronomic! :P

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133179&Tpk=thermaltake%20v4- $49.99
    Thermaltake V4 Black Edition Gaming Chassis Mid Tower Steel Computer Case Fully Black Powdered Interior VM30001W2Z
    -> The HAF 912 isn't available here, is that one ok as well? Do I need any additional fans?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027 - $59.99 - $20MIR
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    -> How much Headroom do I have with this one? Would it make sense to go with a CX600?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814125367 - $109.99 +about 20$ (difference at my local Mshop)
    GIGABYTE GV-N550OC-1GI GeForce GTX 550 Ti (Fermi) 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
    -> Local availability and Personal preference NVidia.. Will that card be ok?

    I don't need a CD drive.. "-$16.99"
    -----
    that would be about 20$ more than before, 535$.. If the drive prices come down again, I'll be at 500$ with this build..


    How well will this build perform, with Skyrim for example?
  3. cpu: for $5 sure why not
    ram: 2x4gb would be the best but if you're tight on budget just go with 2x2gb.
    case: as long as it fits the graphics card. you dont need additional fans if you are not ocing.
    psu: 500w corsair is plenty for 1 gpu
    gpu: sure

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/skyrim-performance-benchmark,3074.html
    http://www.techspot.com/review/467-skyrim-performance/
  4. for a case try fractal design arc midi
    or if u want to go smaller core 3000
    or Bitfenix Shinobi
  5. @drunkducki
    Thanks a lot for the input. It turned out I wasn't too far off with my own trials. I was just not sure if I was putting something together that wouldn't make any sense or maybe not even physically fit together in the end.

    And: sorry for not using my brain and maybe google "GPU + Skyrim + benchmark"...

    Maybe I'll just ditch the HDD for the moment and go for a small SSD instead, I have plenty of external hard drives to put Data on. I've seen that Gigabyte has released the GA-H61M-USB3-B3 rev2.0 in November, which is damn cheap and has USB 3.0 and a Sata 6Gb/s port -> SSD

    @madchemist83
    If it will work out I will stay with the Thermaltake V4 since it's both available and cheap here, but thanks for the input.
  6. I've been able to scratch some more money together and I plan to go with this build:
    (I'll add a HDD and maybe a DVD/Bluray drive later)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115073
    Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost)
    -> I won't do any overclocking, some light overclocking at maximum, so why would I need the 2500K?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131781&Tpk=ASUS%20P8Z68-V%20LX
    ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
    -> In case I want to add a second ATI for Crossfire, Ivy compatible

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
    CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    -> Will those be OK and also work with the MoBo?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227725
    OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III SSD

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] take%20v4- $49.99
    Thermaltake V4 Black Edition Gaming Chassis Mid Tower Steel Computer Case Fully Black Powdered Interior VM30001W2Z

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    -> Will that 600W one be enough in case I add a second ATI?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102948
    SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX
    -> Seems to be a lot bang for the buck..?

    So, what do you think? I didn't provide a price since the price differs a lot here from newegg.. Just tell me which parts don't make sense in the system.
  7. spoili said:
    I've been able to scratch some more money together and I plan to go with this build:
    (I'll add a HDD and maybe a DVD/Bluray drive later)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115073
    Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost)
    -> I won't do any overclocking, some light overclocking at maximum, so why would I need the 2500K?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131781&Tpk=ASUS%20P8Z68-V%20LX
    ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
    -> In case I want to add a second ATI for Crossfire, Ivy compatible

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
    CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    -> Will those be OK and also work with the MoBo?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227725
    OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III SSD

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] take%20v4- $49.99
    Thermaltake V4 Black Edition Gaming Chassis Mid Tower Steel Computer Case Fully Black Powdered Interior VM30001W2Z

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    -> Will that 600W one be enough in case I add a second ATI?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102948
    SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX
    -> Seems to be a lot bang for the buck..?

    So, what do you think? I didn't provide a price since the price differs a lot here from newegg.. Just tell me which parts don't make sense in the system.


    To me that looks like a pretty decent rig.
  8. spoili said:
    I've been able to scratch some more money together and I plan to go with this build:
    (I'll add a HDD and maybe a DVD/Bluray drive later)

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115073
    Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost)
    -> I won't do any overclocking, some light overclocking at maximum, so why would I need the 2500K?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131781&Tpk=ASUS%20P8Z68-V%20LX
    ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
    -> In case I want to add a second ATI for Crossfire, Ivy compatible

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
    CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
    -> Will those be OK and also work with the MoBo?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227725
    OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III SSD

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] take%20v4- $49.99
    Thermaltake V4 Black Edition Gaming Chassis Mid Tower Steel Computer Case Fully Black Powdered Interior VM30001W2Z

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W ATX12V v2.3 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    -> Will that 600W one be enough in case I add a second ATI?

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102948
    SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX
    -> Seems to be a lot bang for the buck..?

    So, what do you think? I didn't provide a price since the price differs a lot here from newegg.. Just tell me which parts don't make sense in the system.


    Also make sure you get the 'k' version not to much more. Then you can overclock it if you ever deem necessary.
  9. majorgibly said:
    Also make sure you get the 'k' version not to much more. Then you can overclock it if you ever deem necessary.


    Okay, I'll think about the 2500/2500K thing.

    Can you tell me if the RAM should work (well) with the motherboard?

    Also: there is "only" one 12cm fan coming with the case. Should I get a second one for the front or is that not really required if I don't intend to overclock?
  10. Yeah, I just ordered the system!


    Here are the final specs (I only changed the i5 2500->2500K if I remember it correctly):

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133179&Tpk=thermaltake%20v4%20black%20edition
    Thermaltake V4 Black Edition Gaming Chassis Mid Tower Steel Computer Case $49.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186
    CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Profile Desktop Memory Model CML8GX3M2A1600C9 $41.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139028
    CORSAIR Builder Series CX600 V2 600W $69.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131781
    ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS $124.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115072
    Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 3000 BX80623I52500K $219.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227725
    OCZ Agility 3 AGT3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $99.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102948
    SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card $164.99

    ----------
    $771.93 before rebates (It's SFR 771.70 with my local dealers. This is about $800)


    I should receive the stuff on Wednesday, I'll keep you updated if I run in any trouble (in case someone wants to build this system as well).
  11. And here we go.

    Everything worked out pretty well, everything fits together and all seems to be fine :P

    Some things about the case:
    It's pretty small, the ATX just fits between the top and the PSU. There is no cable management, you can't "hide" the cables somewhere behind the MoBo. They promote an additional 2.5" slot with the Thermaltake V4; in reality, it just has 4 holes in the bottom of the case where you can screw on the small disk (or SSD). Problem: the mainboard came with angled SATA3-cables, so the cable wouldn't fit on the SSD. I just bought a 2.5" to 3.5" mount today, problem solved.

    CPU is great, love it - GPU as well. Compared to my gaming system until two days ago (MacBook Air, lol)..


    Questions:

    I had to manually set the RAM to 1600MHz in the BIOS, it was only on 1333MHz - is that normal (I guess so)?

    I didn't do any overclocking - but should I run any stress tests?
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