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700-800 game build, critique/advice requested (Litill)

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December 29, 2011 6:26:47 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Hopefully within the next 4-5 days (no later than very soon after new year's 2012 or I think Hubby's head is going to implode from the waiting).

Budget Range: ~$800 but I can pitch for a bit more if necessary. Before / After Rebates: after, I suppose.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (Wowcraft/StarWarsTOR/Shogun 2 / also things like Civilization), Internet browsing.

Parts Not Required: monitor, key/mouse, speakers, OS (Windows 7), Case, GPU, optical drives.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon or Newegg (probably amazon b/c of free shipping).

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Whatever brand is best for the money.

Overclocking: not at first, I don't know enough to do that myself yet.

SLI or Crossfire: No.

Monitor Resolution: At first it will be on my 1920x1200, later it will be on my husband's 1280x1024.

Additional Comments: here we go.

I come seeking advice and education, with the conjoined statement that too many in-depth numbers will go over my head somewhat quickly. Also I'm somewhat in trouble because I was supposed to have been at this stage a month ago, and the husband is chomping at the bit to have a computer he can use, and I know just enough about this stuff that I don't want to go to Best Buy and buy a prebuilt (and I really don't want him to get so irked that he does that!), but not enough that articles like "System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $600 Gaming PC" make a lot of sense to me, as in specifically, what's the difference between "Intel Core i5-2400" and "Intel i5-2500k", other than what appears to be seventy bucks?

There are some pieces I don't need to purchase for this machine, namely
-- a Dynex mid-tower case,
-- a dvd-writer drive,
-- and one Radeon 6770 gpu purchased 1 month ago.
The budget for the new computer is 'as close to not going over $800 as I can manage', unless I can make an airtight case on why we should spend more, for the following parts:
PSU, motherboard, cpu (+heatsink?), ram, harddrive.


My initial guide for parts is this MMOChamp post, hoping to get as much as possible off the Narwhal list (although I've gone up on the ram and down on the harddrive).

Power Supply Corsair 650TX V2 - $90
Motherboard Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 - $168
CPU Intel i5-2500k - $213
Heatsink Thermaltake Frio - $60
Memory 8GB G.Skill DDR3 12800 - $52 (or cheaper if I go with a secondary seller)
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB - $110


This total with Amazon prices comes to $700, not including shipping. Staying under budget is never a bad idea. I have also seen some items that are very similar but slightly different, especially the prices, and I don't feel like I know enough to make this sort of judgement call myself. For example, compared to the $600-build article above... Should I just follow that guide and save myself a hundred bucks? Or is the additional price point for this list going to get me that much better of a machine?


And now for the questions, in descending order of personal importance:

Question 1: What is the difference between the Z68 X-U mobo listed above and the GA-Z68A-D3H-B3? Other than $40? Because they look pretty much the same to me... If I'm not planning to overclock, should I just get the cheaper one?

Question 2: PSUs. Why does the $600 guide list a 450 watt psu, but this one has a 650 watt? Do I need a 650 watt? How can I tell what PSU I should get? Presumably 'more does not mean better', but should I err on the side of too much, or should I actually attempt to limit the wattage on the PSU to what I need now? Do I gain any benefit from having a bigger psu?

Question 3: CPU. "this forum thread" says that the i5-2500k is for overclocking and the i5-2400 is for not overclocking. Since I don't know much about how to overclock, should I save that seventy dollars and just get the 2400?

Question 4: Why is Heatsink listed separately from CPU? I've built two homebuilts before and have not purchased a separate heatsink. Why is the heatsink that presumably comes with the CPU not enough? Is it necessary to purchase a separate heatsink, or if I were to not, am I risking burning out the CPU?

Question 5: Is the Radeon 6770 going to be the limiting factor in this computer to a noticable degree (ie, is it going to limit the fps and other visual factors of the games, right now)? Is there some way to predict how many years this GPU will last before becoming the painfully weakest link in the chain?

Question 6: if I get these parts, is it going to be a good(-enough) computer, to play the games reasonably well and last for at least three, preferably five or even more years? (Assuming the GPU will be upgraded in perhaps 2-3 years.)

Thanks so much for reading. I know I always make books out of the posts I write. I really appreciate any help : )

-- Sanna
December 29, 2011 7:10:05 PM

1) You can compare the motherboards at http://www.gigabyte.com/products/comparison/list.aspx?c...

2) A quality 450W PSU is enough for that build.

3) You should compare the 2500 and the 2500K. The 2500K might be worth it as they are very easy to overclock.

4) A heat sink already is included, but you need a better one if you plan on overclocking.

5) It's a decent gaming GPU, particularly if you'll be gaming at 1280 x 1024, but not at 1920 x 1200. It will definitely be the weakest link. Please note that you don't need a 2500K to game at 1280 x 1024.

6) Yes, but don't expect it to be powerful enough to play the latest games in 5-6 years.
December 29, 2011 8:09:23 PM

Sincerely? You can't beat the $600 machine performace/cost ratio from System Builder Marathon, Dec. 2011: $600 Gaming PC

Since you not gonna OC go for this build and be happy :) 
It's a good machine even for Crysis 1080p play (much harder on requirements than the games you stated)
!