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$500 Family Computer for Skyrim

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January 26, 2012 8:45:37 PM

Hey there,

I am putting together a computer for my sister and her family. She just bought Skyrim and found out that her computer cannot even launch the game and so she came crying to me. The idea is that she has a good fully functioning family computer that can also kick butt in Skyrim. I have built half a dozen computers ,maybe more, and I am very comfortable putting together a computer myself, but I am having trouble putting this one together because of budget constraints.

We have about $500 dollars to put a computer together for her and I miscalculated a bit and forgot about the OS.

Here is what I have so far.

Phenom II X4 960T - $125 even

ASUS M5A87 AM3+ AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - $86.99

GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI V3 GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - $140

Kingston HyperX Grey Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX - $50

SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - $60

Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black Gaming Case - $50

Windows 7 64-bit - $100

Total including shipping and tax = $668.16

As you can see I am off by a bit here so I am trying to trim fat where I can without cutting to much meat. Skyrim can be demanding in some ways though it is quite gentle on the system over all. My sister also does some photoshop so that is why I am opting for the quad core over an i3 build.


Any and all suggestions are welcome, especially regarding the motherboard.
January 26, 2012 8:59:59 PM

Bumpity bump bump
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January 26, 2012 9:23:35 PM

why not upgrade her current PCs PSU and add a graphics card. if she has a PCI-e slot this should be possible and will save a bunch of money. If need be you could also upgrade her RAM. This will save on the processor/ MB / case etc...

Also in your list of things I did not see a hard drive
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January 26, 2012 9:30:32 PM

I 2nd DEY123. Give us the specs of their current computer. You might be able to reuse parts, and get much better bang for your buck. I'm assuming that their current computer is a prebuilt? If so, if we can keep the same motherboard, you would not have to buy another copy of Windows, since OEM copies of Windows are tied to each motherboard.
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January 26, 2012 9:42:24 PM

I just upgraded my comp to a i5 2500k, z68 ga mobo and 8gs of ram for 340 total at microcenter, i played a bit of skyrim on low settings with the hd 3000 gpu in the cpu. if i were you, i'd go with this route and get a gpu later
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January 26, 2012 9:47:02 PM

I think Skyrim would run better in a dual core i3-2100 than in that quad-core 960T.. here some (de)motivational page to check:

CPU Benchmarks
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January 26, 2012 9:49:08 PM

Thanks for the replies. The current computer does not have anything salvageable aside from peripherals and hdd and disc drives. It is an older dell with the an older intel sempron socket mobo and 32-bit vista. It has 512mb ram. It is on its way to becoming fossil fuel.

The budget is somewhat flexible but not above $600.

Any ideas on a good low end single pci-e mobo? It does not need future proofing in the sense of usb3 or new pcie version or anything like that. It really just needs to be small simple and bulletproof. No onboard nothing cept sound.
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January 26, 2012 9:55:54 PM

Thanks for the benchmarks. However, my computer, x4 945, 5770, 12 gig ram, 1920x1080 monitor, runs skyrim at ultra everything except AA, and I consistently get 40 to 45 fps unless there is a crazy amount lighting change and fog at the same time, then I drop down to the 20s.


I would love to go the way of a i5 2400 but it just brings the budget to high. I don't want to build a bottle neck right into her system.
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January 26, 2012 9:57:58 PM

dkjravn said:
Thanks for the replies. The current computer does not have anything salvageable aside from peripherals and hdd and disc drives. It is an older dell with the an older intel sempron socket mobo and 32-bit vista. It has 512mb ram. It is on its way to becoming fossil fuel.

The budget is somewhat flexible but not above $600.

Any ideas on a good low end single pci-e mobo? It does not need future proofing in the sense of usb3 or new pcie version or anything like that. It really just needs to be small simple and bulletproof. No onboard nothing cept sound.

How big is the hdd size? Is it sata 2? If not, just buy a converter cable.
As for the mobo, a p67 atx asus or gigabyte.
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January 26, 2012 10:01:47 PM

dkjravn said:
Hey there,

I am putting together a computer for my sister and her family. She just bought Skyrim and found out that her computer cannot even launch the game and so she came crying to me. The idea is that she has a good fully functioning family computer that can also kick butt in Skyrim. I have built half a dozen computers ,maybe more, and I am very comfortable putting together a computer myself, but I am having trouble putting this one together because of budget constraints.

We have about $500 dollars to put a computer together for her and I miscalculated a bit and forgot about the OS.

Here is what I have so far.

Phenom II X4 960T - $125 even

ASUS M5A87 AM3+ AMD 870 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard - $86.99

GIGABYTE GV-N460OC-1GI V3 GeForce GTX 460 (Fermi) 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - $140

Kingston HyperX Grey Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3X2K2/8GX - $50

SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply - $60

Rosewill CHALLENGER-U3 Black Gaming Case - $50

Windows 7 64-bit - $100

Total including shipping and tax = $668.16

As you can see I am off by a bit here so I am trying to trim fat where I can without cutting to much meat. Skyrim can be demanding in some ways though it is quite gentle on the system over all. My sister also does some photoshop so that is why I am opting for the quad core over an i3 build.


Any and all suggestions are welcome, especially regarding the motherboard.



Here's a cheap motherboard

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

Or here's an asus if your against biostar it's only $8 more than the biostar

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

And cheaper ram

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

Do those and you'll be close to $600 and not much loss in gaming performance
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January 26, 2012 10:14:57 PM

here is my suggestion:

AMD Athlon II X3 455
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Biostar 760G motherboard $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hitachi 500 GB HDD: $69.99 w/ promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HIS HD 6850: $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Mushkin 4 GB DDR3-1333: $21.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASUS DVD Burner: $18.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill R102 case: $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Rosewill 120mm fan: $7.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Corsair 430W V2: $36.99 w/ promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

total: $450.91

add Win 7 for $99.99 and your total is $550.90, with $30 in rebates, its down to $520.90
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January 26, 2012 10:19:58 PM

Going for the i3 will save a bit because the H61 motherboards are cheaper than the AMD ones. It's also going to be better for games and should be around the same in Photoshop.

You could also drop down to 4GB of RAM, Skyrim won't use more than that and I don't think it would be necessary for what I am guessing is pretty casual Photoshop work.

You could also drop the GTX 460 to a GTX 550Ti, that would still run Skyrim quite decently and would mean you could drop the PSU to a CX-430 or Antec Earthwatts 380W since it only requires 1 PCI-e connector and consumes even less power.

This should equate to a small loss in performance which you may not even notice and would save $80 or so.
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January 26, 2012 10:50:30 PM

jmsellars1 said:
Going for the i3 will save a bit because the H61 motherboards are cheaper than the AMD ones. It's also going to be better for games and should be around the same in Photoshop.

You could also drop down to 4GB of RAM, Skyrim won't use more than that and I don't think it would be necessary for what I am guessing is pretty casual Photoshop work.

You could also drop the GTX 460 to a GTX 550Ti, that would still run Skyrim quite decently and would mean you could drop the PSU to a CX-430 or Antec Earthwatts 380W since it only requires 1 PCI-e connector and consumes even less power.

This should equate to a small loss in performance which you may not even notice and would save $80 or so.


the cheapest 550ti is $129.99, cheapest HD6850 is $139.99. The $10 difference is HUGE in quality for games
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January 26, 2012 10:52:25 PM

I appreciate the frugal nature of the 550ti suggestion, but the performance drop is obscene. I am pretty darn stuck on the gtx 460 and 8gigs of ram. Pretty much everything else I am open to suggestions.
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January 26, 2012 10:53:51 PM

dk" the HD6850 has the same performance as the GTX 460, but uses less power (22a vs 24a), and only needs 1 6-pin plug, so the 430W is all you need (Its what I run myself)
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January 26, 2012 10:59:40 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
dk" the HD6850 has the same performance as the GTX 460, but uses less power (22a vs 24a), and only needs 1 6-pin plug, so the 430W is all you need (Its what I run myself)



Aha, I did not realize the difference there. I was aware that the gtx 460 needed two 6 pin, but I thought both the 5850 and the 6850 also needed two of them. I was favouring the GTX because my sister also has a game called Mirror's Edge which utilizes Physx.
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January 26, 2012 11:02:45 PM

I agree with Screwy on everything in both posts EXCEPT the motherboard. I've had trouble with cheap Biostar boards, and a lot of comments I've read on various forums have convinced me I'm not alone. Get this ASRock instead: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $80. Along with the rest of his selections, you'll still be under $600.

Edit: Make that "...in all three posts..."
Note that there are a few HD6850s that need two PCIE power connectors. I'm not sure why that is, because I'd make sure any card I bought had just one.
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January 26, 2012 11:25:49 PM

Asus is a good brand, but in this case I'd rather have the ASRock; looks like two more VRM phases, four rather than two RAM slots, and both USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gb/s.
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Best solution

January 26, 2012 11:29:22 PM

Here's my suggestion...

Part list permalink: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/46Oh

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($125.99 @ SuperBiiz)
I think for a family/skyrim computer you would be better off with better per core performance than you would be by more cores.

Motherboard: ASRock H61M-VS Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($54.99 @ Newegg)
A cheap decent motherboard with no unnecessary fluff.

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($21.99 @ Newegg)
You say you are dead set on 8GB, but I can't in good conscience slap another $20 on what's supposed to be a budget build. I don't think they would ever notice the extra 4 GB being gone personally, but this is your build so get the extra RAM if you feel it necessary.

Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card ($141.97 @ Newegg)
This won't be maxing anything out, but a good price to performance card.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Any case you want to get really, this is just my suggestion.

Power Supply: Antec 430W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
This system probably doesn't even need the 430, but its best to err on the side of caution.

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
...

Total: $534.91


It's well within the budget and i think your sister and her family would really get a lot out of this computer. Anyways, hope this helps : )
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January 26, 2012 11:55:33 PM

Grand_Admiral_K said:
Here's my suggestion...

Part list permalink: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/46Oh

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($125.99 @ SuperBiiz)
I think for a family/skyrim computer you would be better off with better per core performance than you would be by more cores.

Motherboard: ASRock H61M-VS Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($54.99 @ Newegg)
A cheap decent motherboard with no unnecessary fluff.

Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 4GB (1 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($21.99 @ Newegg)
You say you are dead set on 8GB, but I can't in good conscience slap another $20 on what's supposed to be a budget build. I don't think they would ever notice the extra 4 GB being gone personally, but this is your build so get the extra RAM if you feel it necessary.

Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6850 1GB Video Card ($141.97 @ Newegg)
This won't be maxing anything out, but a good price to performance card.

Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Any case you want to get really, this is just my suggestion.

Power Supply: Antec 430W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
This system probably doesn't even need the 430, but its best to err on the side of caution.

Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
...

Total: $534.91


It's well within the budget and i think your sister and her family would really get a lot out of this computer. Anyways, hope this helps : )


Thanks so much for the very complete reply. I am stuck on 8 gigs because they use cs4. This looks like a great build though, thanks very much. I will weigh my options over the next few days and then send away for it all.
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January 26, 2012 11:56:42 PM

Best answer selected by dkjravn.
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January 27, 2012 12:34:55 AM

I like ASRock, but that mobo is extremely sparse. You'll want a better one.
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January 27, 2012 2:16:21 AM

Thanks everyone for your input. I have always appreciated the sense of warm community here at Toms.
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January 27, 2012 4:35:33 AM

Onus said:


Edit: Make that "...in all three posts..."
Note that there are a few HD6850s that need two PCIE power connectors. I'm not sure why that is, because I'd make sure any card I bought had just one.



Maybe that is where my confusion comes from.
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January 27, 2012 10:34:44 AM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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