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The eternal quest: budget gaming?!

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January 29, 2012 10:44:12 AM

Thanks for taking the time to help me out. I am an avid gamer currently fooling around with DDO, but looking forward to Guild Wars 2. Simply put, my system is just too outdated. I’m looking to replace it while it’s still functioning, as opposed to when it craps the bed. I have been doing my research, and have a mildly solid idea of what a decent rig should have. While I have my notions, I definitely want to hear what you think. Here’s the general gist….

I have an 11 year old Cyberpower Inc. PC which I ended up being very lucky with. At the time someone I trusted, tech wise, suggested I get a custom jobby from Cyberpower, and I was fortunate in buying a model that had a motherboard capable of enough expansion to keep it alive this long. Now, as then, I still have to be budget minded. I’d love to get a $4k gaming rig from one of the sweet boutique manufacturers, but it’s gonna be more like $800 to a max $1k. So, I am trying to be smart about this one since last time it was dumb luck. Again, I am looking to invest in expandability now, to add memory and GPU strength later. I hate to say, but i am just not educated enough to keep up with rapildy changing tech trends.

My idea is to get an SLI or Crossfire ready system with just one GPU and an acceptable amount of RAM to minimize upfront cost. I’ll add both as I can afford them. What I am trying to get a better handle on is what is truly worth spending the extra coin on. (I’ll mention that I am fond of AMD processors and NVIDIA GPU’s, but that might be an outdated concept and certainly doesn’t mean I won’t move to whatever is best for my needs.) I have been browsing iBuypower and Cyberpower for more realistic pricing. As I “customize” these are the questions that arise:

?- What motherboard brand and minimum expansion slots

?- Seems like DDR3 1600 is the push these days vs higher

? -GDDR5 GPU’s … I’m looking at Nv GTX 550Ti or 560Ti


Is an SSD, worth getting and how big should it be (to use a boot drive) with a secondary standard data HD?

? -Optical drives – I used to burn things when it was simple, but have no clue these days.

?- Wireless connectivity options

? -USB expansion


Thanks again. Probably a bit much! On top of everything PC oriented, what about gaming on Mac’s?

More about : eternal quest budget gaming

January 29, 2012 10:58:51 AM

Personally I'd shoot for something along the lines of:

Intel i3-2100
Z68 motherboard with x8/x8 pci-e 3.0 support and internal usb 3.0 headers
AMD 6950 2gb
2x4GB Cas 9 1333 RAM
Cheapest HDD you can live with (prices are very inflated atm)
Intel 311 SSD for Intel SRT
Quality (Antec, Corsair, Silverstone ect) 850w PSU with minimum 4x 6+2 pci-e pins

Rest of the build is pretty subjective, cases, monitors ect. Also have you considered building this yourself. You sound as if you have plenty of experience cracking a case open and doing upgrades. You save money and end up with a lot more flexibility in what parts you can choose. Either way Good Luck, and hopefully there's a few items in there that can at least get you started.
January 29, 2012 11:09:12 AM

I wouldn't worry about SLI/Crossfire as an upgrade option. Leave it any longer than 6 months or a year and it won't be worth buying an old card to add onto it. I think the best thing to do is just get the best bang for your buck now with a single card. SLI/Crossfire are just unnecessary when using in a single monitor in my opinion. Especially for MMO's and the like.

- My favoured motherboard brand is ASRock, you get great value for money and they have always been reliable for me. Most people swear by ASUS though. As far as expansion slots go, you should just need a PCI-e x16 slot for your GPU.

- Yeah I'd go for 1333Mhz or 1600Mhz, no real gain in going higher than that.

- The 550Ti would be fine for your usage but I'd go for the 560Ti at this budget. If you want it to last a while I'd get the 2GB version.

- The SSD should be big enough for your OS and your programs. For me thats about 60-80GB so i bought a 128GB one. Some people can get by with less though. Either way I'd go for a Cruc[ial or Samsung one personally. Intel are good too, just a bit overpriced.

- Optical drives haven't changed a lot, I'd just get a standard DVD-+RW drive unless you plan to watch blurays.

- Don't go wireless if you can avoid it, a wire is faster, cheaper and more reliable.

- You usually get a decent amount of USB sockets on a mid range motherboard such as the Z68 chipset but even if you don't I wouldn't worry. You can get hubs etc.

Gaming on a Mac isn't advised, it's expensive and most games aren't compatible.


My advice would be:

Get an i5-2500k processor, it's hands down the best gaming CPU for the money and you can afford it in this budget.

Get a Z68 motherboard. Doesn't need to be a fancy one, almost any Z68 board should be fine. These have some decent features and can overclock.

Get 8GB RAM. You only really need 4GB for gaming but RAM is cheap and it can help in other tasks.

The GTX 560Ti is great value for money and should last you a while, it's a good choice. I would get the 2GB model though because games are starting to use more than 1GB of VRAM.

I'd get a SSD if the budget allows, the Crucial M4 and Samsung 830 drives are great.

Hard drive and case are basically personal preference.

For the PSU you are looking at a minimum of 500W, 550-600W should give you a nice bit of headroom. Corsair, Antec, Seasonic, OCZ and XFX seem to be the most reliable brands.

As far as additional cooling goes, so long as you get a decent case you should be fine although if you want to overclock you might want to think about an aftermarket CPU cooler.
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