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[homebuilt] $600 gaming rig

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January 1, 2012 12:46:08 AM

hi all,

building a new budget gaming pc (amd), audio production pc, need some advice on parts been out of the game for awhile, thinking of going with these parts from newegg.


NZXT Tempest 210 CA-TP210-01 Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (case doesn't have to be anything special, would like something quiet i guess)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD FX-4100 Zambezi 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4100WMGUSBX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1461-KR GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card (need help with video card!)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard (not really sure on motherboard selection was looking at these 2)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial Ballistix 2GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model BLE2G3D1608DE1TX0 (going for 4gb of something...)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply (how much do i need?)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

some kind of cheap SSD HD i think not sure there, which brands are the reliable ones for ssd?

i need help with video card (too many options!), i don't want to spend much more than $200, is physx worth it? i was watching it in arkham city and it looked awesome, but im not sure its worth spending the extra money just for that and getting an nvidia card. whats brand should i go with? are amds a little cheaper for the same speed? motherboard i need some help on also, usb 3, sata 3 is all im looking for something solid not going to be overclocking anything, same with memory something solid/stable. how much power is ample for running a gaming rig these days, 500w enough? if i go amd, would i be able to crossfire my old radeon 3870? (or no because its not dx11?) this is just a rough system i put together, open for any suggestions! thank you!

More about : homebuilt 600 gaming rig

a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 2:03:49 AM

Okay here is what I think:
* AMD CPU looks good for this budget, the Ph II x4 960T is a good option at $110 shipped too. Could possibly unlock to 6 core, if your lucky.

* Asus Mobo you have above is a good selection too.

* RAM I'd get at least 8 gb's for close to the same $, like this set below:
G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBSR

* Case looks pretty good too. I do like the Cooler Master HAF 912 for similar cost, but doesn't have the front USB 3.0 port like the NXZT does.

* PSU will work just fine for your needs and has plenty of power for what you want to do.

* GPU is not what I'd buy around the $200 price. I'd get the 6870 GPU, its cheaper and better than the 560 GTX. $173 - $20 MIRc = $153!!
SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

* As far as SSD's are concerned, I have ordered this one below and it seems to be pretty good. I haven't researched all of the options, so your mileage may vary. I do like the cost per gigabyte, so keep that in mind.
$125 for 120 gb's of storage!!
SanDisk Ultra SDSSDH-120G-G25 2.5" 120GB SATA II Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)
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January 1, 2012 11:14:48 AM

nice! thanks for the reply's so far, knew i'd be missing something better than what i had picked out
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January 1, 2012 11:19:56 AM

if i go intel i3-2120 what motherboard would you recommend? i've never built an intel system before.
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January 1, 2012 11:52:24 AM

are u going for sli in the future ..from the psu i assume u are not going to sli..
these are the specs i suggest u..pls dont go for amd on processors intel will be the best..amd isn't a good choice for a gamer from my point of view..

processor..intel core i5 2320
mobo..MSI H67MA-E35
g skill..4x2gb 1333mhz ddr3(best ram for budget gamers)
psu..same as the psu u chosen antec 500d(bang for the buck)
gfx card..msi gtx 560(nvidia has best drivers but amd will have driver problem when new games are released and physx will be awesome during gameplay there isn't many games for amd but there are many for nvidia cards a great ex itself is battlefield 3 ,crysis,crysis2 if u are playing such games nvidia will be a safe bet)
case..Xigmatek Asgard II B/B CPC-T45UC-U01
hdd..seagate barracuda 500gb 6gb/s will be better as wd is more expensive
on ssd u dont need an ssd at this budget u can probably invest it in gpu or cpu..
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January 1, 2012 12:12:35 PM

thank you visha, if i go sli how much bigger of a power supply would i need?
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January 1, 2012 12:59:31 PM

probably corsair 650tx will be best..and the mobo ,choose a better one if u are planning to overclock with that h67 chipset u will not get sli feature..i suggest MSI Z68A-GD55 (B3) mobo cheap and best..
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January 1, 2012 1:41:58 PM

For your budget you can build a way better AMD machine than an intel machine(at least for keeping crossfire open) and you will not be able to do i5 and keep crossfire/SLI (As a future upgrade path anyway) in that budget. Also with the budget your at an AMD machine would be far better than an i3 system. Here is the rig I just ordered and built for my cousin and he loves it. He games at 1600 X 900 and can run pretty much everything on high/ultra and pull great frames.

Cooler Master HAF 912
ASRock 870 Extreme3 R2.0
Antec NEO ECO 520C 520W
XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB
AMD Phenom II X4 960T
G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB DDR31333
Seagate Barracuda ST500DM002 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5"
LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner
Total before shipping is $646.92

Now there is no question that the i5 setup that vishalaestro mentioned will outperform this setup (Just look at the comparison between the Dec. and Sept. system builds) but the AMD route will get you a future upgrade path to crossfire with 8x speeds on both pci-e lanes and that's something that will definitely not get while going with intel. Further down the road you can just upgrade the power supply and throw in another card and bam, you've a nice little crossfire rig. Also not that you'll need it for games but there is a slim chance that the 960T will unlock from an X4 to an X6 by just enabling one setting in the bios. Oh and whether you go with an AMD or Intel CPU I think you should definitely go with the Radeon HD 6870 over the 560 to save a few bucks and still not have to sacrifice performance. These two cards are about the same when it comes to that.

Oh and I forgot to mention that the XFX 6870 is a lifetime warranty card.
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January 1, 2012 3:10:40 PM

from my point of view dual card is a waste of money and energy..u face face many problems in dual card setup instead invest in a single good card..and finally "GAMERS USUALLY WILL NOT GO TO AMD"..because of poor per core performance by amd processors they are suitable only for video conversion because of extra cores which is not useful from ur point of view.
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January 1, 2012 4:23:35 PM

so which amd mobo would be the stablest? i've never heard of asrock before, they all seem pretty similar what would you guys recommend? thanks again for all the input

ASRock 870 Extreme3 R2.0

GIGABYTE GA-970A-UD3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD

ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD
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January 1, 2012 4:40:18 PM

so u are going with amd right ok then u r going to experience the effect of it ...
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 4:56:19 PM

AsRock is a good mobo. If I were to pick I'd rate them Asus>AsRock>Gigabyte, IMHO. All should be fine, just pick the one with the options that you like the best.

Gigabyte:
* 8 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 Rear ports
* 6 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 Onboard ports, which would come in handy when/if you get a case that supports USB 3.0 front ports and/or you add in a extra USB 3.0 card or something like that.
* 6 SATA III (6 Gb's) onboard ports
* 2 PCI-e slots (16x & 4x)
* DDR3 RAM up to 1866 mHz normally and up to 2000 mHz if OC'd

AsRock:
* 6 USB 2.0 & 2 USB 3.0 rear ports
* 2 PCI-e slots (8x & 8x if using 2 GPU's, otherwise 16x for the 1 slot used)
* 5 SATA III (6 Gb's) onboard ports
* 6 USB 2.0 & 3 USB 3.0 onboard ports
* DDR3 supported at 1333 mHz normally and up to 2000 mHz if OC'd

Asus:
* About the same as the Gigabyte mobo, with a few exceptions, but about the same.

Rap these up:
* AsRock is about $80
* Asus is about $120, not available at Newegg, so Amazon will do.
* Gigabyte is about $110

To me the AsRock mobo has the most features for the least amount of $. Now if you think your going to need more than 5 SATA III ports than the Gigabyte or Asus mobo would be better.

It's ultimately up to you on what you get. Intel has it's benefits, but AMD has better mobo's for the $ than Intel does, so keep that in mind.
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January 1, 2012 5:07:03 PM

not sure gonna research em both i might go intel have never built one before, have to see if i can afford it.
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January 1, 2012 5:11:23 PM

so is physx that cool/worth it? it looked freakin cool in the new batman, thats why i was looking at the 560
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 5:19:23 PM

Personally the Physx to me isn't that big of a deal. There might be things that are good with it, but for me it isn't that important to me. The 6870 is as good if not better than the 560 and is cheaper, so that is why I'd recommend the 6870 over the 560.

Intel is a good build too, but will cost you more, generally. The mobo's are quite a bit more fragmented, IMHO, than AMD's. Find me an Intel based mobo (at $80) that has all or more options than the AsRock that you listed above. Most Intel based mobo that are equivalent to AMD's offerings are usually about $20-40 or more expensive than what AMD offers.

It's also possible that Windows 8 might unlock some of Bulldozers potential, but time will only tell if that is the case. This is all speculation at this point, so take it for what it's worth.
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January 1, 2012 5:45:27 PM

lunyone said:
Personally the Physx to me isn't that big of a deal. There might be things that are good with it, but for me it isn't that important to me. The 6870 is as good if not better than the 560 and is cheaper, so that is why I'd recommend the 6870 over the 560.

Intel is a good build too, but will cost you more, generally. The mobo's are quite a bit more fragmented, IMHO, than AMD's. Find me an Intel based mobo (at $80) that has all or more options than the AsRock that you listed above. Most Intel based mobo that are equivalent to AMD's offerings are usually about $20-40 or more expensive than what AMD offers.

It's also possible that Windows 8 might unlock some of Bulldozers potential, but time will only tell if that is the case. This is all speculation at this point, so take it for what it's worth.

currently one part of the hotfix for bulldozer has been released and it was a flop refer this link http://news.softpedia.com/news/AMD-Bulldozer-Windows-7-... microsoft said that there will be some improvements in next hotfix clearly showing that bulldozer failed even in windiws 8 tests say that bulldozer did not perform well even in windows 8 beta versions don't risk yourself in thinking somethig will happen invest money in proven power like intel..honestly saying the only processors that were good from amd was phemon ii x4 no one can say this is wrong..bulldozer is a failure model and it was told by many reviews..even though amd 6870 is slightly powerful than gtx 560 their drivers are crap u cant experience a game without good drivers even though the hardware is powerful..thats why im going with gtx 560 in tomshardware best gpu for money gtx 560 and 6870 are same in performance in most games but what makes nvidia a slighter edge is their drivers ..on motherboard u will not use 8 usb 2.0 ports i think ..
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January 1, 2012 5:48:57 PM

looks like ill be going for phenom II if i cant squeeze together an i3 2120 rig
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January 1, 2012 6:05:16 PM

An AMD build isn't going to explode and kill everyone, don't worry about the Intel fanboys. The PII build will be fine.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 6:08:23 PM

Either rig will do fine. AMD will be cheaper and just about as good (generally), but AMD's Bulldozer upgrade at this point isn't as promising as it could have been. This doesn't mean that Piledriver might work, but it's speculation also. Intel has defined it path well, but Intel likes to change chipset/sockets too frequently for my liking. Take all of this information in from all of us and decide which way you want to do. We can help you determine what parts will help you reach your building goal. We are here for you and no matter what, your getting information from different sources so you can make an informed decision. :) 
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January 1, 2012 6:48:47 PM

thanks everybody this has been a huge help. so between those 2 cpu's (fits my budget well), essentially the intel has "overall better performace" but less cores? any other motherboard i should look at besides the msi if i go for the intel?its only about $10 more for the intel setup at newegg.

AMD Phenom II X4 960T Zosma 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor HD96ZTWFGRBOX

Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 65W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I32120

MSI H67MA-E45 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard
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January 1, 2012 9:09:41 PM

Here is a good intel build:

Seagate 500GB SATA 6Gbps HDD
Patriot Signature 8GB DDR3 1600
CORSAIR Builder Series 500W
XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB
ECS P67H2-A3 LGA 1155 Intel P67
NZXT GAMMA ATX Mid Tower Case

Now you have two choices, if you can afford it I suggest:
Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz

Total before shipping = 679.93

If you can not afford to go that high then:
Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz

Total before shipping = 629.93

I highly recommend the the i5 system if you can manage that into your budget some how you would be VERY happy with that build for a long to come. The i3 system will be a little better (maybe) in games than the AMD solution but it will fall far behind in heavy multithreaded applications. So really it's all in what your MAIN goal is and if your main goal is to have just a good budget gamer than intel might be your best bet but if you also want a good all around machine over the i3 I would personally choose the AMD system, But for the performance crown out of the three the i5 would be the killer build of the three... Hope that helps!
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 9:20:58 PM

Here is a couple of options (I'd stick with z68 mobo's since they cover all aspects, IMHO):
~$120 shipped
ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

~$120 shipped, it's a Micro ATX, so keep that in mind.
ASUS P8Z68-M Pro LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

~$123 shipped
GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

And there are plenty around the $130-140 price range too. I prefer to have an ATX mobo, since it has more expansion ports available (if you decide you need to add something).
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 1, 2012 9:27:26 PM

twstd1 said:
Here is a good intel build:

Seagate 500GB SATA 6Gbps HDD
Patriot Signature 8GB DDR3 1600
CORSAIR Builder Series 500W
XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB
ECS P67H2-A3 LGA 1155 Intel P67
NZXT GAMMA ATX Mid Tower Case

Now you two choices if you can afford it I suggest:
Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz

Total before shipping = 679.93

If you can not afford to go that high then:
Intel Core i3-2120 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz

Total before shipping = 629.93

I highly recommend the the i5 system if you can manage that into your budget some how you would be VERY happy with that build for a long to come. The i3 system will be a little better (maybe) in games than the AMD solution but it will fall far behind in heavy multithreaded applications. So really it's all in what your MAIN goal is and if your main goal is to have just a good budget gamer than intel might be your best bet but if you also want a good all around machine over the i3 I would personally choose the AMD system, But for the performance crown out of the three the i5 would be the killer build of the three... Hope that helps!

I wouldn't touch an ECS mobo with a 10' pole! They have iffy reputation and don't always have the best customer support, from my experience.

IIRC a p67 based mobo doesn't allow you to use the built in GPU on the chip? No SSD caching? And no Quick Sync. I would rather have those options available to me, especially if my GPU goes south and I need to RMA it. I can than at least use the computer for basic needs until the GPU comes back from being serviced.

Edit: You also need to add another $20 to both builds for a DVD Burner, if the OP doesn't have one. So your base price would be ~$650 for i3 and ~$700 for the i5 setup.
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January 1, 2012 9:44:17 PM

i guess i should mention that my primary use is for audio production alongside gaming (although gaming usually can override that, hard to stay on track!) but i think alot of my audio application especially sequencer would benefit for more cores, thats why i was looking more into the phenom's, intel's quads seem expensive ill have to fiddle with components, im also interesting in the phsx, ill make somin work, thank again guys this has been a mega help.
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January 1, 2012 10:35:53 PM

lunyone said:
I wouldn't touch an ECS mobo with a 10' pole! They have iffy reputation and don't always have the best customer support, from my experience.

IIRC a p67 based mobo doesn't allow you to use the built in GPU on the chip? No SSD caching? And no Quick Sync. I would rather have those options available to me, especially if my GPU goes south and I need to RMA it. I can than at least use the computer for basic needs until the GPU comes back from being serviced.

Edit: You also need to add another $20 to both builds for a DVD Burner, if the OP doesn't have one. So your base price would be ~$650 for i3 and ~$700 for the i5 setup.




Ha Ha! OOps I knew I forgot something! (dvd)

SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner = 15.99

So yea basically about 20 bucks more on each build. I don't really know much about the ECS brand so I can not speak to how good or bad they are. OP is not going to be worried about SSD caching at that budget, if he bought an SSD he would only be able to get about 60GB and it wouldn't be a very wise decision to me to limit your storage ability that much (even though the performance increase would be huge). Although in hindsight of typing that sentence it would limit him from adding an SSD in the future ( well performance wise). I do understand completely where your coming from about the support of the on chip GPU and that's a really good point. This board might be ok and it's 15 bucks cheaper:

BIOSTAR TH67B LGA 1155 Intel H67 HDMI = 79.99

If you go with that board though you'd have to change the RAM to DDR3 1333MHz like this kit:
G.SKILL 4GB DDR3 1333

lol with that combo the total is actually 4 bucks cheaper than the previous one. The revised i5 would be $675 and the i3 would be $625 and give you all the features you would need I believe.

To the OP if you can swing it the i5 setup would be the best bang for the buck system even though it is a little more than the AMD (only by 45 bucks to be exact) and it would completely stomp the AMD system in everything you threw at it. LoL I hope we helped!

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January 1, 2012 10:41:42 PM

mischmp said:
i guess i should mention that my primary use is for audio production alongside gaming (although gaming usually can override that, hard to stay on track!) but i think alot of my audio application especially sequencer would benefit for more cores, thats why i was looking more into the phenom's, intel's quads seem expensive ill have to fiddle with components, im also interesting in the phsx, ill make somin work, thank again guys this has been a mega help.


Both systems could handle what your wanting to do and both systems will give you a great experience in gaming and/or CPU intensive applications but, if you want just raw horse power then the i5 will walk away from the AMD build any day and leave it crying in the corner and the best thing is it's only 45 more bucks than the AMD build! Man I wish I had more money to burn right now!
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January 1, 2012 10:56:35 PM

im just going to go i5 and try and bring some parts over from this system like my burner and maybe harddrives, to make up for the i5, ive always made amd systems time to try intel and nvidia hopefully
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January 2, 2012 1:55:35 AM

mischmp said:
im just going to go i5 and try and bring some parts over from this system like my burner and maybe harddrives, to make up for the i5, ive always made amd systems time to try intel and nvidia hopefully

right decision ..you will never be disappointed on intel rig..u will notice a huge a huge difference between intel and amd..and nvidia is the best though amd produces many gfx cards finally nvidia are reliable..
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 3:12:59 AM

kinggraves said:
An AMD build isn't going to explode and kill everyone, don't worry about the Intel fanboys. The PII build will be fine.


It has nothing to do with being a fanboy. There was a time when AMD could claim a price to performance crown even if they weren't the top processors. Today they cannot even claim that. There is not a single price segment in which AMD out performs an equally priced Intel setup.

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January 2, 2012 4:14:04 AM

a4mula said:
It has nothing to do with being a fanboy. There was a time when AMD could claim a price to performance crown even if they weren't the top processors. Today they cannot even claim that. There is not a single price segment in which AMD out performs an equally priced Intel setup.


I never said outperforms, I said it will be fine. Intel will do better but AMD will not do significantly worse. It will not lag on minesweeper, make data disappear, seduce his wife, or eat his breakfast.

As far as the broad claim that AMD does not outdo Intel at any point, completely absurd. AMD outperforms Intel in integrated graphics at any point. AMD outperforms Intel at heavily multithreaded applications. AMD outdoes Intel in low to mid end gaming. AMD has no real competition in low end overclocking so there's no outdoing. Intel wins at high end gaming/enthusiast rigs and heavy single threaded tasks. Take a guess at how much of the PC market is high end gaming/enthusiast rigs. I don't know what dinosaur would be using single threads anymore, what's single core anymore?
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 5:30:53 AM

kinggraves said:
I never said outperforms, I said it will be fine. Intel will do better but AMD will not do significantly worse. It will not lag on minesweeper, make data disappear, seduce his wife, or eat his breakfast.

As far as the broad claim that AMD does not outdo Intel at any point, completely absurd. AMD outperforms Intel in integrated graphics at any point. AMD outperforms Intel at heavily multithreaded applications. AMD outdoes Intel in low to mid end gaming. AMD has no real competition in low end overclocking so there's no outdoing. Intel wins at high end gaming/enthusiast rigs and heavy single threaded tasks. Take a guess at how much of the PC market is high end gaming/enthusiast rigs. I don't know what dinosaur would be using single threads anymore, what's single core anymore?


No, what you said was "ignore the Intel fanboys" which insinuates that the recommendation is based strictly on a bias of branding. This is an entirely false premise. For someone that is asking for recommendations for a "$600 Gaming Rig" then recommending an Intel is not only justified, it'd be irresponsible to do otherwise.

AMD does not out do Intel at lowend or midranged gaming. Show me a single AMD cpu that can stand toe to toe with a i3-2120 in gaming. Even AMDs best gaming cpu the 1100T has a hard time keeping up with Intel's lowest end G860 in most games.

As far as multithreaded applications, AMD still fails. The octacore 8150 is bested by the quadcore 2600k (the closest competition) in virtually every content creation benchmark available (and in many it's not even close). If this is the route you're going lets not even bother talking about the 3930k which would be the ideal cpu of choice and leaves AMD blinking their eyes wondering how it went so awry so fast.

Sure AMD makes a great apu. If you're doing a HTPC go grab an A8 and be done with it. That's not what was being asked of here however.

We're all entitled to our opinions, but at some point use of words like fanboy is a great way to have your opinions refuted by actual objective data.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 2, 2012 6:25:35 AM

Here's a good read from Tom's that was in an article in March 2011, sort of sums up the differences (barring any mobo options):
"Let's start at the bottom. AMD's Athlon II X3 455 is available just under $90. In our previous sub-$150 game-off, the Athlon II X3 emerged as the obvious victor in the price/performance war. Now, with an updated gaming suite and more compelling competition, this is no longer the case. It used to be that the higher clock rate of the Athlon II X3 helped it meet or beat the Athlon II X4's performance. But now the quad-core chip offers slightly higher frequencies, and the latest games are increasingly putting its extra core to better use. While the Athlon II X3 is a good sub-$90 entry-level CPU, the $100 Athlon II X4 640 (only 100 MHz slower than the Athlon II X4 645 we tested, but about $20 cheaper) is a superior choice in a budget gaming rig.

At $125, the Phenom II X4 925's existence is justified as an upgrade to the Athlon II X4. But the Core i3-550 is only $5 more, and it boasts slightly better performance in the games we're testing. Frankly, we’d choose the Phenom II X4 due to the fact it sports four cores (a boon in other disciplines, aside from gaming). But we can’t deny that the Clarkdale-based Core i3 are more attractive in the face of recent price drops. It's unfortunate that LGA 1156 is doomed to disappear so soon after its birth. At this point, it's difficult to recommend any Clarkdale- or Lynnfield-based processor.

The next step up is Intel's Core i3-2100. Based on our results, no value-oriented performance-focused gamer can ignore this processor's potential. Priced at an estimated $135 when it finally does emerge (originally scheduled for February, but almost certainly delayed until B3-revision Cougar Point chipsets start surfacing), the Core i3-2100 performs as well as (or slightly better than) AMD's Phenom II X4 970 flagship. Granted, these Core i3s boast little to no overclocking headroom due to their locked multipliers. But let’s be honest here: at 3.5 GHz, the Phenom II X4 970 probably has about 500 MHz more available, even with its unlocked multiplier. The Core i3-2100 has amazing potential to bring superlative gaming power down to the sub-$150 price point. The worst thing we can say about it is that its dual-core Hyper-Threaded architecture might not perform ideally in parallel tasks, but that doesn’t seem to slow it down when it comes to gaming.

That brings us to the Phenom II X4 955, a processor that was really unbeatable at $150, prior to the less-expensive Sandy Bridge-based Core i3s launching. The Phenom II X4 955 remains a viable option because of multiplier-unlocked overclockability and true quad-core prowess. But the upcoming Core i3-2100 steals its status as the obvious choice, making this CPU part of a decision that gamers and modders will have to think about. Perhaps it'll come down to the platform already under your proverbial hood, and if an AM3-based chip makes an upgrade less expensive than a new Core i3 and LGA 1155 motherboard.

Next up is Intel's Core i3-560, a CPU that stands up well compared to the Phenom II X4 but doesn’t have a lot going for it when you consider its two cores versus similarly-priced quad-core chips from AMD and a dying platform. Modders might find this processor appealing based on its overclocking headroom, but we'd encourage new system builders to hold out for Sandy Bridge instead.

The Core i3-2120 shows us nice results, but it’s probably not worth the price premium over Core i3-2100. In the same vein, AMD's Phenom II X4 970 probably isn’t worth the extra cost over Phenom II X4 955. Feel free to bypass both of these CPUs.

We now consider the Core i5-2300, Intel’s lowest-cost quad-core chips based on the Sandy Bridge architecture, priced at $185. This chip's performance results are good, but you'd be crazy not to spend the extra $10 on the $195 Core i5-2400, buying a 300 MHz clock increase. Overclockers will want to upgrade to the multiplier-unlocked Core i5-2500K for $225. But the Core i5-2400 delivers excellent service to folks happy to leave their systems at stock speeds.

What of the Phenom II X6? Well, games largely don’t seem to utilize more than four threads at a time. The final results suffer a little from the curious issue this processor suffers when playing F1 2010, but even when this game isn't taken into account the results are identical to a cheaper Phenom II X4. I suppose users who do a lot of media encoding and heavy threading will want to consider the AMD’s hexa-core architecture. However, from a purely gaming perspective, this CPU doesn’t have a lot to offer."

Link to article, for reference.

So an AMD Ph II x4 955 BE (about the same as the 960T now) is a good option, if your pushing your budget. The Intel i3 2100 or i3 2120 is also a smart buy too. It will all depend on your budget limitations and what you want to do. Like I stated before, either system will do well. The Intel one will perform better mostly, but AMD does well too. I believe that AMD is sorta flat right now as far as performance, so going with the Intel option would be a smarter option to go with, assuming you can afford it.
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January 2, 2012 6:39:55 AM

a4mula said:
No, what you said was "ignore the Intel fanboys" which insinuates that the recommendation is based strictly on a bias of branding. This is an entirely false premise. For someone that is asking for recommendations for a "$600 Gaming Rig" then recommending an Intel is not only justified, it'd be irresponsible to do otherwise.

AMD does not out do Intel at lowend or midranged gaming. Show me a single AMD cpu that can stand toe to toe with a i3-2120 in gaming. Even AMDs best gaming cpu the 1100T has a hard time keeping up with Intel's lowest end G860 in most games.

As far as multithreaded applications, AMD still fails. The octacore 8150 is bested by the quadcore 2600k (the closest competition) in virtually every content creation benchmark available (and in many it's not even close). If this is the route you're going lets not even bother talking about the 3930k which would be the ideal cpu of choice and leaves AMD blinking their eyes wondering how it went so awry so fast.

Sure AMD makes a great apu. If you're doing a HTPC go grab an A8 and be done with it. That's not what was being asked of here however.

We're all entitled to our opinions, but at some point use of words like fanboy is a great way to have your opinions refuted by actual subjective data.


"AMD does not out do Intel at lowend or midranged gaming. Show me a single AMD cpu that can stand toe to toe with a i3-2120 in gaming."

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/amd-a8-3850-llano,2...

I know that isn't a 2120, but that isn't a 3870k OCed either. Even though Llano integrated is still on the low end of modern gaming, for laptops integrated is the best many people get. It also opens a door for hybrid crossfire, which can allow someone to get passable graphics immediately and upgrade to mid range graphics later while still maintaining a low power profile. You can get into the 6800 series and up if you want, but that's pushing up to high end graphics. I'm not talking about that level of performance. You must understand that when some people say they want to game for 500 dollars, they really mean they want to game for 500 dollars and are satisfied with medium settings.

I'm not sure if you actually looked at the linked benchmarking article. BD does second to i7-2600k in most multithreads and falls to last in single threads. We all knew that already. Was your point that a more expensive processor does better? Cause if so then by all means let's bring the 600 dollar 3930 in. The 2500k is really an impressive processor though, I suggest anyone who can gets it.

I really don't know what people expected a new architecture to do in it's first month, why WOULD anything be optimizing modules and eight "cores"? Neither of these things existed. You've gotta consider that in order for fire to be invented, some idiot had to be banging rocks together for while. I'm willing to bet the people who design these things at AMD have a better comprehension of how to improve FPU performance than you do.

I am sorry if you took offense by being called an "Intel fanboy", it seems to have insulted you for some reason. Realistically the people who are upset at AMD are the AMD fanboys who wanted a new "FX" to drop Intel down a peg. Bulldozer is a transition step to Piledriver which leads to APUs. It was never going to be like the old FX. Intel fanboys are likely the ones trying to sell Bulldozer, considering a lack of competition is going to end with Intel reducing quality.
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January 2, 2012 5:22:42 PM

some nice rebates on the 560's can i really go wrong with either 3? was going to go with the evga.

MSI N560GTX-M2D1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

ASUS ENGTX560 DC/2DI/1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1461-KR GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

MSI N560GTX Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

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January 2, 2012 5:44:16 PM

mischmp said:
some nice rebates on the 560's can i really go wrong with either 3? was going to go with the evga.

MSI N560GTX-M2D1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

ASUS ENGTX560 DC/2DI/1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

EVGA SuperClocked 01G-P3-1461-KR GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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

MSI N560GTX Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

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




MSI N560GTX Twin Frozr II/OC GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card


I would personally go with the the Twin Frozr II for the cooling solution but any of these cards are good choices. Also the clocks for this card are similar to the superclock by evga but the evga cards cooling solution looks poor to me compared to the MSI model. The Asus model is the only card you listed that would be considered a reference card ( or very close to it) so unless you feel like overclocking the card yourself I would leave that choice out.
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January 4, 2012 12:54:53 AM

MSI N560GTX-M2D1GD5 GeForce GTX 560 (Fermi) 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec EarthWatts EA-500D Green 500W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBSR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Core i5-2400 Sandy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.4GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 ...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$620.05 after shipping, going to use my old case/burner/and sata hd for now

anything i could skimp on a little more? psu? mobo? and get a little faster cpu? or does this look all pretty good to you guys?

thanks.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2012 4:29:17 AM

Looks pretty good to me. The only thing that you could change is the CPU, but the 2400 is a pretty good CPU. The 2500k (preferred one) is $30 more, but the 2120 would be an alternate CPU if you wanted to save $50 and get a new case if you like (I like the Cooler Master HAF 912 for good airflow and design options/layout).

Cooler Master HAF 912, that usually is around $50-60 shipped.
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January 4, 2012 7:31:41 AM

As long as your absolutely sure that the case you have now will handle everything then yes this build is great. Also I would make sure that your burner is S-ATA too. But yea Great build man! I have to somewhat agree with lunyone on the case simply because I HIGHLY recommend the HAF 912 to anyone that is building a new machine, but I would NOT sacrifice CPU performance just to get a better case when the one I had would be fine. That said I'm going to try to attach a link to a few pics of the PC I just built my cousin in the HAF 912 to show you guys... it's awesome! (I said try because I've never done it but, we'll see how it goes) Oh and make sure that you have a spare power cord because the antec eco's and earthwatts do not come with one. Found that out the hard way, but luckily I had a few back ups.





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January 4, 2012 8:18:07 AM

Nice looking case, really, but.. for my taste black interior looks just a lot better,,
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January 4, 2012 9:06:22 AM

droozel said:
Nice looking case, really, but.. for my taste black interior looks just a lot better,,


yea but unfortunately there is no window in that case so he won't be looking at the inside anyway.
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January 4, 2012 12:22:31 PM

why is the 2500k the preferable cpu? is it because of the hd 3000 graphics? i had that one picked out but tried to save some extra. hmmm my old case is an antec sonata, was kind of doubting if things will fit, might just wait a little till i can afford a case also.
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January 4, 2012 12:51:16 PM

Most people prefer the 2500K simply because it's an unlocked CPU and you can freely adjust the settings to overclock it. If you are not planing on doing this then it will be of no concern to you. Maybe some people say the GPU makes a difference but you won't notice it because you won't be using it anyway(unless your card craps out). You will only see a very slight performance difference between the CPU you have chosen and the 2500K at stock speeds. If I were you I'd stick with your choice unless you want to overclock in the future. By the way your old case will be fine for what your wanting to build so I'd say your good to go man.
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2012 1:54:15 PM

Yeah I only suggested the CM HAF 912 case, because I didn't know your current one (which is fine). I only suggested other options, if you wanted/needed to adjust your budget. The 2500k is unlocked (like twstd1) suggested and is used to unlock more potential of your CPU, which isn't needed if you don't want to do that. Your current CPU is a good one, so don't change it, unless you need to adjust your budget.
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January 4, 2012 5:48:48 PM

cool thanks for clearing the cpu/case issue up, that case looks like a beast! i think im going to go ahead and save for a case so i can keep two setups operational, maybe even go for the 2500k, there goes my 600 budget heh knew that would happen. think im gonna go with this psu, more power and a little cheaper, can't believe it doesn't come with a power cord heh thats nuts

Antec NEO ECO 520C 520W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.3 / EPS12V 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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a b B Homebuilt system
January 4, 2012 10:49:48 PM

Good PSU, btw, and should handle just about any single GPU out there with 40A on the 12v rail. Also comes with 1 x 6 pin and 1 x 6+2 (8 pin) PCI-e power connectors, which is needed for higher end GPU's.

Your stock CPU HSF will do for the most part, but if you start to OC than you might want to consider a better CPU HSF. Just keep it in mind, because they generally run from about $25-50 depending on which one you want.

Here's an example of 1 CPU/HSF that you might consider (there are many other options too, but I wouldn't spend too much, unless you want to push the limits of the CPU):
Currently $29 shipped!
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus RR-B10-212P-G1 "Heatpipe Direct Contact" Long Life Sleeve 120mm CPU Cooler Compatible Intel Core i5 & Intel Core i7
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January 7, 2012 6:53:14 PM

crap im having second thoughts on mobo!

should i get the asus or asrock?! or giga?!

ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

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

ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

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

GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


ive read mixed reviews on the asrock but seems a little more bang for the buck, or should i look at somin else. dang last minute worries! guess it comes down to which one oc's the best easiest? well since im getting an nvidia card i guess i should skip the asus as its crossfire if i ever decide to run 2 cards i'd be sol
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January 7, 2012 11:28:53 PM

mischmp said:
crap im having second thoughts on mobo!

should i get the asus or asrock?! or giga?!

ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

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

ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

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

GIGABYTE GA-Z68A-D3H-B3
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


ive read mixed reviews on the asrock but seems a little more bang for the buck, or should i look at somin else. dang last minute worries! guess it comes down to which one oc's the best easiest? well since im getting an nvidia card i guess i should skip the asus as its crossfire if i ever decide to run 2 cards i'd be sol



They are good motherboards and they all support Crossfire and SLI. The biggest difference between them to me would be the PCI-e speeds for the second cards. The Asus is x16,x4 (which severely cripples the second card) the ASRock is x16 in single mode but when a second card is added it splits the PCI-e lanes evenly across the two cards which is great. It also seems that from information from gigabytes website that their board does the same with it's two main slots but if your using single slot cards(which you will not be) you can have up to three cards(probably to run PhysX) which drops the third down to x1 speeds. So I would drop the Asus and choose between the other two.
I know that looks don't really matter that much when it comes to picking a part but when the parts your picking from are this close in performance I would go for the sexier one...lol which to me is the ASRock all the way!
Oh and by the way which ever board you choose to go with you can step your RAM up to 1600 speeds over the 1333 you had before. Here is a patriot 8GB kit that's even a little less than the kit you had listed.
Patriot Signature 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
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