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New build ($600-$800) -- compatibility + thoughts?

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December 30, 2011 11:17:09 PM

Hello, I'm currently in the process of building my own computer. For reference, I'm primarily following the $600 build listed here, with some slight variation consideration coming from the $800 dollar rig from here.

Build time: Within the next week -- I'll potentially order tonight if I get a solid base plan. Friends have told me to wait until the new Radeon 7xxx comes out in January for a price drop in video cards. Would price really drop? By a lot?

Budget: Preferably no more than $800. $700 if I am forced to buy a new monitor.

Website used: Preferably amazon. I have amazon prime which means free two day shipping. Plus, I don't have to pay taxes. I'm not closed off to newegg if they have a product amazon doesn't or prices are better, but I would prefer to avoid shipping costs and tax (never used newegg, so I don't know if they have tax or not).

It will primarily be used for gaming -- in particular, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Starcraft II.

Parts not needed: Windows 7, as I can salvage a copy of that from my laptop which will no longer be used after I build this computer, mouse, and *possibly* a monitor, if I choose to reuse my 1366x768 32" tv. I figure I can upgrade to a real monitor in the future. For sound I have a headset + mic and then headphones. Though, I wouldn't be completely turned off to a cheap sound system, it would probably have to wait until the future for budget reasons.

SLI/Crossfire: Not initially. I would consider it in the future -- though budget motherboards don't seem to support it, so I would probably just pass.

Overclocking: Not initially, but hopefully in the future in lieu of upgrades.

I've made a few slight changes for better performance.

Processor: Intel i5 2400, as used in both builds for $190.

GPU: the $600 build lists the Sapphire 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1 GB for $180 (amazon doesn't have it but XFX has an equivalent. I'm considering upgrading that to a GeForce GTX 560 Ti for about 60 dollars more, as seen in the $800 dollar build. Worth it? Not worth it?

Power supply: The 600 dollar build lists Antec EarthWatts Green EA430D 430 W, for $45. The only 430 W Antec PSU I can find is $60 on both newegg and amazon.

The $800 dollar build uses Antec EA-650 Green ATX Energy Star Certified Power Supply, Green for $69. It's 650W, which is probably more than I need, but could it be beneficial for the future? It's only 9 dollars more than the 430W version. If price is based upon wattage, seems like a better deal.

Motherboard: This is why I initially started my post. Though, to give background information it turned into an entire build post -- advice I definitely need anyways. The $600 dollar build uses MSI Intel H61 (B3) Chipset ATX DDR3 1333 Intel ? LGA 1155 SATA3 and USB 3.0 A&GbE ATX Motherboard - PH61A-P35 (B3). The $800 dollar build uses the same one. My question: Since I am hoping to use a tv monitor, I would have to use HDMI to connect. The motherboard I just listed, to my knowledge, does not have an HDMI port. Is this correct?

I'm considering an alternative: ASRock H61M/U3S3 Intel H61 Micro ATX DDR3 1333 Motherboard.

Is this motherboard compatible with the other stuff I've chosen (some of which will be listed after this)? Is it good? To be honest, before yesterday, I couldn't have named off different components within a computer, let alone what SLI/Crossfire is. I've done hours and hours of research and learned a lot since then, but I still am having difficulty pinpointing key features, what they do, etc.

If it's not compatible, is there a different budget-priced motherboard you would recommend? Should I even be trying to consider using my tv as a monitor for a while? This is the biggest issues I'm facing, save the whole videocard problem.

RAM: I'd prefer 8 gigs of RAM instead of 4, for longevity, so I doubled the $800 dollar build's Corsair XMS3 4 GB 1333MHz PC3-10666 240-pin DDR3 Memory Kit for Intel Core i3 i5 i7 and AMD CMX4GX3M1A1333C9 for $44.99. That also leaves me 2 slots open if I ever need to upgrade to 16.

Hard drive: I *believe* both buiilds use Seagate Barricuda 500gb 7200 RPM SATA etc etc, though the $600 dollar build lists it as cheaper. I had considered spending a bit extra for a 1TB HDD or even a 120 GB SSD, for longevity and future upgrades, etc, but it seems like that's just too big of a jump in price. Plus I've read SSD only helps with boot up and initial load, not speed after load. I figure I can start with 500GB, maybe even 250GB if I'm forced to buy a monitor, and upgrade later with a biggest data drive (or even change out hard drives with a new install to SSD if I wanted to?).

Optical: The $600 build uses SH-222AB Internal DVD-Writer - Bulk Pack, I believe. Though optical is completely optional because I have an external DVD drive that I purchased for my netbook that connects via USB. I figure I can use that and maybe eventually through a bluray in there when money allows it -- especially this route if I end up using the tv, as I could move my bluray player into the living room.

Case: The $600 dollar build uses the Xigmatek ASGARD and the $800 dollar build uses NZXT Source 210 -Inch ELITE-Inch Midtower Case with 3.0 USB - Black. The ASGARD is more attractive with its price. I've also looked at Cooler Master HAF units which I've heard are better for airflow: Cooler Master HAF 912 Mid Tower ATX Case (RC-912-KKN1) for $50.75 and Cooler Master HAF ATX Mid Tower Case, RC-922M-KKN1-GP (Black) for $89.00. The latter would be for upgrades on the horizon... though I'm sure it's overkill. Maybe I'm just attracted to it because it's pretty.


Lastly, I would need a power cord for the PSU, which I can get from monoprice.com (though I'll have to research what kind) and a keyboard. I'm planning on grabbing the Microsoft Sidewinder X4 because it's the cheapest computer with macros.

I appreciate the help. The two big things I need to know are motherboard + monitor and the videocard used. Any other input, such as HDD's, RAM, etc are more than welcome. This is the first build I've ever attempted so I've played it extremely safe by forgoing originality and copying builds from those who appear much more knowledgeable than me. Yet, I still try and implement my own stuff into them, which could be my bane.

Thank you.

Best solution

December 31, 2011 12:05:15 AM

Lets tackle this a one question at a time:
Quote:
never used newegg, so I don't know if they have tax or not

Only if you're shipping to NJ, TN, or CA.

Quote:
I'm considering upgrading that to a GeForce GTX 560 Ti for about 60 dollars more, as seen in the $800 dollar build. Worth it? Not worth it?

If you're going to remain at or under 1920x1080 (standard resolution) then the 6870 will serve you well. That's not to say that it'll chew up everything at ultra settings as games like BF3 can bring cards in this price range to their knees. That's what quality settings are for though. Here's a handy tool that allows you to compare different cards and how they perform against one another.
Quote:
It's 650W, which is probably more than I need, but could it be beneficial for the future?

While I'm sure the 430w they use works with no problems, AMD does recommend a minimum of a 500w psu for the 6870. It also requires 2x 6 pin connectors. The 430w Earthwatts only has one, they get around this by using a molex-to-6pin adapter. Not the way I'd go personally. The Corsair CX500 can be had at newegg for $49.99 with free shipping until 1/1. It comes with a power cord, has 2x 6 pin, is 80+ and runs off a single 12v rail.
Quote:
My question: Since I am hoping to use a tv monitor, I would have to use HDMI to connect.

Since you're purchasing a discrete video card the output from the motherboard will not be used. Make sure the video card you purchase has HDMI out as most do. Even if it does not support HDMI out, you can get a DVI-HDMI adapter, just keep in mind that it will not carry audio.
Quote:
If it's not compatible, is there a different budget-priced motherboard you would recommend? Should I even be trying to consider using my tv as a monitor for a while? This is the biggest issues I'm facing, save the whole videocard problem.

I'm sure someone will come along and suggest a p67 or z68 motherboard. Pared with an i5-2400 there is no need to make that jump as the 2400 isn't an unlocked cpu so you don't need a motherboard that supports overclocking. With that being said you've seen what the i5-2400 is capable of, it's a solid pick and does allow you to save some money when picking a motherboard. I'd stick with the SBM on this one personally, but that's more due to the fact that I'm not familiar with any of the H61 boards. Maybe someone else can provide more insight.

As far as your TV is concerned, while not optimal it's viable without a doubt. My wife used a 42" Plasma for almost 2 years. I bought her a $300 IPS screen about a year ago, she used it for a week before swapping back to the TV. The downside is that TV's are larger in size while the resolution doesn't increase with it creating a pixel-per-inch situation that's not great. There are other issues as well like response times and input lag, but unless you're a professional FPS gamer these things tend to be pretty easy to overlook.
Quote:
or even change out hard drives with a new install to SSD if I wanted to?

You can always add drives down the road. Just keep in mind that SSDs really shine as a boot disk and short of reinstalling your OS at the time of adding the SSD and doing some type of cloning... well lets just say it's better to start with the SSD. Not that you can't do it the other way.

I think that nailed most of your ?s. Overall it's tough to go wrong sticking close to the SBMs. That's not to say they're always perfect (cough $1200), but typically they do a great job of nailing price/performance in particular ranges.
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December 31, 2011 12:41:32 AM

a4mula said:
Lets tackle this a one question at a time:
Quote:
never used newegg, so I don't know if they have tax or not

Only if you're shipping to NJ, TN, or CA.

Quote:
I'm considering upgrading that to a GeForce GTX 560 Ti for about 60 dollars more, as seen in the $800 dollar build. Worth it? Not worth it?

If you're going to remain at or under 1920x1080 (standard resolution) then the 6870 will serve you well. That's not to say that it'll chew up everything at ultra settings as games like BF3 can bring cards in this price range to their knees. That's what quality settings are for though. Here's a handy tool that allows you to compare different cards and how they perform against one another.
Quote:
It's 650W, which is probably more than I need, but could it be beneficial for the future?

While I'm sure the 430w they use works with no problems, AMD does recommend a minimum of a 500w psu for the 6870. It also requires 2x 6 pin connectors. The 430w Earthwatts only has one, they get around this by using a molex-to-6pin adapter. Not the way I'd go personally. The Corsair CX500 can be had at newegg for $49.99 with free shipping until 1/1. It comes with a power cord, has 2x 6 pin, is 80+ and runs off a single 12v rail.
Quote:
My question: Since I am hoping to use a tv monitor, I would have to use HDMI to connect.

Since you're purchasing a discrete video card the output from the motherboard will not be used. Make sure the video card you purchase has HDMI out as most do. Even if it does not support HDMI out, you can get a DVI-HDMI adapter, just keep in mind that it will not carry audio.
Quote:
If it's not compatible, is there a different budget-priced motherboard you would recommend? Should I even be trying to consider using my tv as a monitor for a while? This is the biggest issues I'm facing, save the whole videocard problem.

I'm sure someone will come along and suggest a p67 or z68 motherboard. Pared with an i5-2400 there is no need to make that jump as the 2400 isn't an unlocked cpu so you don't need a motherboard that supports overclocking. With that being said you've seen what the i5-2400 is capable of, it's a solid pick and does allow you to save some money when picking a motherboard. I'd stick with the SBM on this one personally, but that's more due to the fact that I'm not familiar with any of the H61 boards. Maybe someone else can provide more insight.

As far as your TV is concerned, while not optimal it's viable without a doubt. My wife used a 42" Plasma for almost 2 years. I bought her a $300 IPS screen about a year ago, she used it for a week before swapping back to the TV. The downside is that TV's are larger in size while the resolution doesn't increase with it creating a pixel-per-inch situation that's not great. There are other issues as well like response times and input lag, but unless you're a professional FPS gamer these things tend to be pretty easy to overlook.
Quote:
or even change out hard drives with a new install to SSD if I wanted to?

You can always add drives down the road. Just keep in mind that SSDs really shine as a boot disk and short of reinstalling your OS at the time of adding the SSD and doing some type of cloning... well lets just say it's better to start with the SSD. Not that you can't do it the other way.

I think that nailed most of your ?s. Overall it's tough to go wrong sticking close to the SBMs. That's not to say they're always perfect (cough $1200), but typically they do a great job of nailing price/performance in particular ranges.



Thanks, I really appreciate the response. I'm thinking I'll probably cut back and go with the 6870 videocard to save money. As far as the motherboard issue, does that mean that the one in the build would be compatible with HDMI? Or at the very least get an adapter to connect it via HDMI? I suppose worse case scenario I could try connecting with a VGA cord.

Also, I do live in CA so I'll be forced to pay taxes at newegg.


EDIT: Just noticed that Newegg has the videocard for $164.99 with an extra 15 off after mail in rebate, along with free DiRT 3 here.
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December 31, 2011 12:47:22 AM

You want to connect your TV to the 6870. Forget about the video adapter on the motherboard, that's for the onboard gpu which you won't be using.

Take a look at the pictures and details of this 6870:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

See the HDMI output? That's what you'll run your TV off of. I'm not explicitly recommending this particular card btw, it was just the first one on the page.

So yes, any of the H61 motherboards will work because you're not depending on them to output video.
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December 31, 2011 12:50:32 AM

Ahh! I see. I didn't realize that it connected to the videocard instead of the motherboard. The Sapphire 6870 does have HDMI, so I guess that answers my compatibility issues. Though, I now don't understand why the one motherboard I listed earlier has an HDMI port. Hmm.

Anyways, thanks again. That helps a ton.

Oh, and the powecolor one is even cheaper.
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December 31, 2011 2:13:37 AM

The motherboard (cpu actually but it matters not) has a built in graphics card. I use that term lightly as it's not accurate but it gets the point across. It's not however meant for gaming. You might do more research into this particular aspect however because there is a technology floating around that lets you use this low power on board video when you're doing things that don't require the full power of a discrete video card. I'm not positive if H61 supports it, but it might be worth checking out.
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December 31, 2011 3:30:04 AM

I would still get the Sapphire card its better for only $5 more. Sapphire is considered one of the best brands the other card isn't.
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January 9, 2012 11:24:54 PM

Best answer selected by mathgod.
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