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$1,100 First Build - gaming / bang-for-buck

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Last response: in Systems
January 9, 2012 2:17:28 AM

Hi all....I failed to read directions for my first build related post, so here's try #2. :sol:  This is my first build and first non laptop in 12 years. I've been reading this site up and down for a month and have changed my mind a few hundred times. Any help is appreciated.

Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next month - or I risk going crazy for over shopping components (also amazing how fast the parts I keep in my TigerDirect wishlist sellout!)

Budget Range: $800 - $1,200 (best bang for buck under $1,200)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Music/Blu-Ray, Civ V without hiccups, internet, productivity

Parts Not Required: Not worried about peripherals right now (Blu Ray, keyboard, mouse, monitor, and Win7 have their own budget)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: TigerDirect for their double United Airlines miles - but not committed if there's obvious savings elsewhere

Country: Wyoming - may as well be it's own country

Parts Preferences: 100% sold on the i5-2500k and 95% on the Radeon 6950 (I read about benefits of 1gb, but 2gb is same price)

Overclocking: Someday - this is my first build, let's not get crazy

SLI or Crossfire: No - Civ V is as hard as I push a GPU

Monitor Resolution: Great question - thinking 24" 1080p, so maybe 1680x1050?

Additional Comments: Quiet but cool would be nice. While I'm sold on the CPU and GPU, I'm still up in the air on everything else. I really appreciate the help in advance. I should have thought about doing this years ago, rather than getting by on $600 laptops every two years.

Here's what I'm thinking as of today:

Case: Antec Sonata IV (w/ 620w power) 149.82
http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Sonata-IV-Tower-Case/dp/B00...

Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD80 189.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

CPU: Intel i5-2500k 219.99
(no question here)

GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2gb 259.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Memory Corsair Vengeance 2x 4gb 39.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

SSD OCZ 120g Vertex Plus 119.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

HHD Hitachi 0F13180 1TB 119.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Cooler XIGMATEK Gaia SD1283 40.24
http://www.amazon.com/XIGMATEK-Gaia-SD1283-Bearing-Cool...

That puts me at $1,140 and, in my opinion, is probably more than I need to get started in terms of computer building...but I'd rather go a little overboard than be underwhelmed when all is said and done.

Let me know if there's any gross incompatibilities or cheap upgrades. Also if, for example, NVIDIA is that much better than AMD, or if WesternDigital is the only HDD to buy...I need to know that as well.

Thanks again

More about : 100 build gaming bang buck

January 9, 2012 3:18:45 AM

Pretty good choices to start with, but it needs a bit of tweaking. Here's what I would suggest:

Quote:

Case: Antec Sonata IV (w/ 620w power) 149.82
http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Sonata [...] B004G60AHM


Don't use a case with a built in power supply. The PSUs included are generally from crap manufacturers and they're not certified or rated. You want a PSU that's rated at least 80+ bronze or better.

Try this for the same money:

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

Quote:

Motherboard: MSI Z68A-GD80 189.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applica [...] CatId=7212


I'm not the biggest fan of MSI boards - Gigabyte or Asus would be far better choices. This is the one I have and it's been absolutely great so far:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:


SSD OCZ 120g Vertex Plus 119.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applica [...] =O261-6401

HHD Hitachi 0F13180 1TB 119.99
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applica [...] TSD-1000H8


I would not recommend this storage solution. OCZ SSDs are not the most reliable on the market and they're a very hit or miss manufacturer, same with Hitachi - with your data, you don't want to take your chances. I know HD prices suck right now but this would be a far better option for the same money:

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

Quote:

Cooler XIGMATEK Gaia SD1283 40.24
http://www.amazon.com/XIGMATEK-Gai [...] 199&sr=8-1


I don't like this cooler - I had one and there's way too many loose parts and it comes with incredibly cheap thermal paste. It nearly fried my CPU in my old build and I lost a motherboard because of it. Go with a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo instead.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Quote:
SLI or Crossfire: No - Civ V is as hard as I push a GPU


:lol: 

You don't really need the 6950 then - you could get by with a 6850 just as easily. You probably don't need the i5-2500K either - go with an i3-2120. It's an amazing CPU and it will handle games like Civ V perfectly fine.

So try this - it shouldn't alter the cost too much:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 - $59.99
PSU: Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 V2 - $89.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3P - $174.99
CPU: 3.30GHz Intel Core i5-2500K - $219.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo - $44.99
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaw X 8GB (2 x 4GB) PC12800 1600MHz 1.5V - $44.99
SSD: 64GB Samsung 830 - $109.99
HD: Seagate Barracuda XT 1TB - $124.99
Optical: MSI DVD burner - included with HD
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2GB - $279.99

Total: $1149.81
January 9, 2012 3:25:34 AM

No kidding about the HD costs. Apparently I should have realized I needed a new computer BEFORE my blue screens about 6mos ago. Thanks for the advice...very helpful.

I read the same about OCZ but the price was super tempting. In my first failed post the Samsung 830 was my choice - and I was quickly talked out of it. I've changed my mind a ton already. That motherboard was my first choice originally as well. I guess it's the same as standardized tests...go with your first instinct.
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January 9, 2012 3:31:15 AM

mingwyo said:
No kidding about the HD costs. Apparently I should have realized I needed a new computer BEFORE my blue screens about 6mos ago. Thanks for the advice...very helpful.

I read the same about OCZ but the price was super tempting. In my first failed post the Samsung 830 was my choice - and I was quickly talked out of it. I've changed my mind a ton already. That motherboard was my first choice originally as well. I guess it's the same as standardized tests...go with your first instinct.


The people who tried to talk you out of the 830 probably didn't see this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/tests-ssd-review-so... :lol: 

The Gigabyte board is the exact same one I have and it's been excellent so far, I haven't had any complaints about it.

But if Civ V is the most you play for games, you could actually drop the GPU to a 6850 and the CPU to an i3-2120 - only need the 2500K if you plan to overclock, that would drop about $200 off the total cost.
January 9, 2012 3:39:50 AM

I would like to overclock someday. Still learning however...

Combining TigerDirect and NewEgg actually drops the price a bit on some of those components:

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 $49.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 $168.99
CPU: Intel i5-2500k $219.99
Graphics: Sapphire Radeon HD 6950 2gb $259.99
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 2x 4gb $39.99
SSD: Samsung 830 64GB $109.99
HD: Seagate ST Barracuda 1TB $124.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo $44.99
PSU: Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 $79.99

TOTAL: $1,098.91

I like it...
January 9, 2012 3:42:17 AM

I got sold on the 6950 reading about the trick to OC it up to a 6970. AFAIK that doesn't work anymore however, but I just stuck with that GPU,
January 9, 2012 4:10:44 AM

mingwyo said:
I got sold on the 6950 reading about the trick to OC it up to a 6970. AFAIK that doesn't work anymore however, but I just stuck with that GPU,


The 6950 is an excellent GPU, no question I didn't know that trick doesn't work anymore.
January 9, 2012 4:17:24 AM

g-unit1111 said:
The 6950 is an excellent GPU, no question I didn't know that trick doesn't work anymore.


I thought I read that in some searches. From what I remember, it doesn't work at all with the 1gb and only with older models of the 2gb. I very well could be wrong.

Using your i3 and 6850 idea, and shopping for the lowest price, I get the below setup (sorry for the lack of url)

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 $49.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo $32.36
CPU: Intel i3-2120 $129.99
Graphics: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 $149.99
HD: Seagate ST Barracuda 1TB $124.99
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 2x 4gb $39.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 $152.99
PSU: Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 $79.99
SSD: Samsung 830 64GB $109.00
TOTAL: $869.29

A lot less flexibility here with the lack of OCing, but a lot less expensive as well...
January 9, 2012 4:20:56 AM

He said 6950 not 6850. :p 
January 9, 2012 4:32:11 AM

mingwyo said:
I thought I read that in some searches. From what I remember, it doesn't work at all with the 1gb and only with older models of the 2gb. I very well could be wrong.

Using your i3 and 6850 idea, and shopping for the lowest price, I get the below setup (sorry for the lack of url)

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 $49.99
Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo $32.36
CPU: Intel i3-2120 $129.99
Graphics: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 $149.99
HD: Seagate ST Barracuda 1TB $124.99
Memory: Corsair Vengeance 2x 4gb $39.99
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z68XP-UD3 $152.99
PSU: Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650 $79.99
SSD: Samsung 830 64GB $109.00
TOTAL: $869.29

A lot less flexibility here with the lack of OCing, but a lot less expensive as well...


That's pretty close to what I'm using for my workstation computer (except I'm using an older GTX 470 for the video card) - it's blazing fast, I love it, it's probably one of the best computers I've ever owned.
January 9, 2012 3:25:23 PM

Looks like I can go with a GTX 560 for $10 less than the 6850 and the reviews indicate its a better gpu.

Starting to think a "budget build" may be the way I should lean as long as it can easily handle what I throw at it.
January 9, 2012 3:30:59 PM

i would get the i5-2500k if you wanna be more future proof in my opinion the i3 is kinda low end,if you get the 560 make sure its ti its only $20 more and its a heck of alot better
January 9, 2012 3:34:26 PM

mingwyo said:
Looks like I can go with a GTX 560 for $10 less than the 6850 and the reviews indicate its a better gpu.

Starting to think a "budget build" may be the way I should lean as long as it can easily handle what I throw at it.


The 560 isn't going to be less than the 6850 - the 6850 prices around $150. The 560 starts at $199 for the base model, $249 for the TI model - and with NVIDIA I always try to recommend the TI model as it's usually tweaked to get the best performance without OC'ing it.

But this build will handle everything you can throw at it, I use a pretty similar setup in my workstation which includes the i3-2120 and I never come close to using 80% of the CPU load even on heavy redraws.

Quote:
i would get the i5-2500k if you wanna be more future proof in my opinion the i3 is kinda low end,if you get the 560 make sure its ti its only $20 more and its a heck of alot better


I agree about the 560, but I was recommending the 2120 since he said this isn't really going to be a gaming computer and the most he plays is Civ V - which doesn't really require a lot of horsepower to really function properly.
January 9, 2012 3:51:02 PM

oh didin't see the civ v post my bad
January 9, 2012 4:11:28 PM

You're right that an EVGA 560 is more, but a Galaxy 560 is only $139. Don't know how reputable Galaxy is.

January 9, 2012 4:30:47 PM

mingwyo said:
You're right that an EVGA 560 is more, but a Galaxy 560 is only $139. Don't know how reputable Galaxy is.


I'm guessing probably not if it's at that price. You're better off going with a Sapphire 6850.