Cheaper gaming/audio PC with some existng parts

Approximate Purchase Date: This Week

Budget Range: 300$ + Existing parts.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Would like to be able to play older games like WoW and Skyrim at full settings. And be able to play new upcoming games on at least medium setting for the next year. Also I use my machine for audio recording, so having a 2nd PCIe slot for my audio card and noise level is a concern.

Parts I have:

Retail Plus 600W Power Supply

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

GIGABYTE GA-H61M-DS2 LGA 1155 Intel H61 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard

EVGA 01G-P3-1430-LR GeForce GT 430 (Fermi) 1GB 128-bit DDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card

CORSAIR XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600) Desktop Memory Model CMX8GX3M2A1333C9

Audiophile 2496 - 4-In/4-Out Audio Card with MIDI and Digital I/O

I want to put this in my Acer M1100 case using the existing DVD optical drive and 250 gig SATA hard drive.

Picture inside my case >
Original M1100 specs >

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: or

Country: Canada

Parts Preferences: Rather pay a bit more for Nvidia/Intel

Overclocking: Maybe. I have only ever overclocked an HP Touchpad, but would like to keep the door open.

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 my main monitor is 21.5 inch Acer LCD Monitor. I would like to be able to connect to my 32 inch LG LCD-TV by HDMI.

Additional Comments:

My story is I have been using the stock Acer M1100 desktop PC since I bought it in 2007, only adding a PCIe graphics card and the sound card. It served me well until recently it died.

While it was on my girlfriend stupidly put her hand inside the case and touched some cables to look at the ram. The computer froze up solid and would only power off by unplugging it. When I would turn it on the fans would go and harddrive would spin but no video signal form the video card or the build in graphics. No beeps or sounds when it turned on or when pressing keys. Also it would then not turn off from the button, only from being unplugged. And then after trying it a few times it would not even turn on the fans. Letting it sit a few days and the fans again would turn on, but same no video or sound.

So I have a decent working knowlege of PCs but I have not built any and only ever upgraded the video card. But I have read a lot on these forums and think I know the basics enough to tell if my gear is all compatible.

I first tried new DDR2 ram to fix it, using some borrowed from a friend, but that did not work. I then bought the power supply listed above from staples. It fit in the case well and it got the fans to turn on a couple of time, but still same problem.

I then procrastinated on this for a while. Using my girlfriends PC in the mean time. Until a few days ago I got tired of waiting and went online and bought the rest of the listed parts without doing as much reasearch as I should have. And didn't even notice the MOBO lacks the 2nd PCIe I need.

Well they just got delivered. And I have since read some scary reviews on some of the parts.

My question comes down to.

Will this really play skyrim on full graphics?

Since I need a 2nd PCIe slot, what MOBO should I get to replace the one I just bought. Does newegg take returns when you just got the wrong part?

And either way, where is the weak spot in my build for performance? If I were to upgrade something would it be the video or the processor?

7 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about cheaper gaming audio existng parts
  1. I am a bit confused. You say you already have these parts? The reason I ask is first, that motherboard has no PCI slots. Secondly the Power supply is not very good. It may have worked OK up to now because the old system was pretty low power. I would be cautious about running a higher end video card on it. Just because it says 600 watts, does not mean that it actually is. That is why it is good to avoid lower quality power supplies.

    At any rate, as best as I can figure out, you need a new motherboard with PCI slots, and a better video card. With the 8gb ram listed, I am assuming you have 64 bit Windows something.

    So on that basis, I would recommend this motherboard - , and this video card -
  2. Thanks for the reply.

    To clarify I had the Acer M1100. From this I am using the case/SATA 250g drive/dvd optical drive.

    I just got the MOBO, RAM, CPU, Power Supply. But have yet to assemble.

    I bought the Power Supply at the local staples because I wanted to see if that would fix my original setup. It's just a couple weeks old. I can return it to my local store for cash back very easily if it really is that bad.

    From what it shows the MOBO I just bought has 1 PCI Express 2.0 x16. not sure why you are saying it does not have one. But I need 2 anyways.

    Also the ram listed is 4+2= 6 gig ram.

    For now I will be running on my 5 year old 250 gig Hard Drive that has 32 bit Vista Home on it. But I will look into upgrading to windows 7 64 bit and a new hard drive in the near future.

    I like the look of the board you posted and I think that would be great. I have a hard time telling how good video cards are and their value. I was leaning towards getting an nvidia based graphics card because of the reports I've read online of people with AMD Radeon cards having big problems with Skyrim. I am not sure though if that issue has been resolved through driver or game updates.

    Also this may be dumb but my LCD monitor only accepts VGA input. I notice the card you posted does not have VGA out. Is VGA so bad? Is it worth 120$ to buy a new screen that accepts HDMI or DVI?
  3. Best answer
    Actually I was referring to PCI slots for your sound card which are different from PCIe slots for your video card. In other words, the motherboard you listed will not work with your sound card.

    On second glance, I listed the wrong motherboard. What you need is uATX and I listed full ATX. Here is the correct one. You might shop around for a better price.

    If possible, I would take the power supply back and get one of these instead. It is less wattage, but actually supplies plenty of power and is of good quality. All should still be within your budget.
  4. I did not think I could use a video card that had GDDR5 since my RAM is DDR3.

    Do most motherboards accept either kind in their PCIe 2.0 slots? Does it matter what kind of CPU you have? From what I can see almost all higher end 130$+ video cards use GDDR5, would that work with the rest of the parts?

    I will return the staples power supply. Just wondering how do you know it's bad? Reputation or is the some spec on it that shows it's bad?

    That MOBO you posted looks great but might it not be a bit more then I need since it has 2 PCIe slots when I need just 1, plus a PCI slot?
  5. Video cards have always used faster rams. It is just the way they are made for the different type of processing they do. DDR3 ram is system ram and GDDR3 or 5 is video card ram, hence the G designation. You might also note that DDR3 system ram is slower than GDDR3 video ram.

    In short, the PCIe slot does not care what type of GDDR your video card has as long at the card is PCIe which is the card edge that fits into the PCIe slot on the motherboard. GDDR3 cards are slowly going away and being replaced by GDDR5. Assuming the same GPU(graphics processing unit) a card with GDDR5 would perform faster than one with GDDR3.

    The power supply is not bad necessarily, it is just of poorer quality than you would normally use with a higher powered video card. I know this by the lack of any sort of certification listed for it. Better power supplies these days are at least 80 Plus certified or higher. This has to do with their efficiency rating. In order to achieve these ratings, they have to use better quality components.

    Another way to tell is to look for reviews via Google search. If there are none from a reputable sites, that is generally a tip off unless it is new on the market. If you only see reviews from shopping sites, that is another tip off. Another indicator is the brand. It is an unknown quantity coupled with the fact that there are no specs given, pictures of the labels, etc... Better makers will make a point of having the spec info listed as part of the sales agreement.

    Plus, I have been building computers for 24 years now, and I also have an engineering degree. I could actually build a good power supply with the correct pile of parts. The main issue with poor quality power supplies is they usually lack any sort of power protection scheme. This means if they fail, they could take the rest of your components with them. Other issues are they are not usually the wattage they claim, and they often have very noisy cooling fans.

    Most boards for socket 1155 these days will have 2 PCIe slots. You do not have to fill both. In your case you would just use the blue one. The motherboard was the least expensive I could fine that had two PCI slots. This would house your sound card(s). Most boards will include more than you need of this or that feature. If you do not need them, you simply leave them empty.

    One thing that might help you is Tom's guide to a new build. Very informative reading.
  6. Allright.

    I bought all the parts you linked to. The new MOBO, Video card, PSU. I also bought a new hard drive.

    While waiting for them to arrive I set up my computer with the parts listed above and it works. FYI I get about 16-25 FPS in WOW in very busy areas on ultra and Skyrim is still laggy unless played with medium settings.

    My Question is related to this.

    I used my original Hard-drive with this new CPU and new (interim) MOBO. And the system booted up as normal. Windows did not need to be reinstalled or fixed. Sound/DVD/Ethernet all worked. Only thing I had to update was the video driver for the new video card.

    Well now I want to do a fresh install of Vista on my new Hard-drive.

    ~ I want to use my exisiting Product key (if allowed*)

    ~ I have 32 bit Vista Home Premium SP2 installed now.

    ~ I don't have a Windows Install DVD. Instead the Windows Installer is preloaded on my Hard-drive by ACER on my Aspire M1100. I have used it reformating before but don't know where the exact files are located. Maybe there are hidden partitions besides C: and D:

    ~ I have read about how to create a Windows Backup/Recovery DVD from those files, and I expect I could find them with some digging

    But now I am stuck on 1 main point.

    1 ~ I have read that your CPU and MOBO is tied into your Windows Authentication. And so changing these components means you can not use your Product Key to activate it after upgrading this hardware.

    In my case I did upgrade my hardware (CPU and MOBO) any my windows is still running without doing any updates or reinstalls. I am concerned that if I reformated and reinstalled windows. Or if I backed up windows and reinstalled it on a new hard drive, that it would not let me with my current Product Key.

    I can sort of understand this. Because changing every single part inside a computer but the tower is basicly the same thing as buying a whole new computer. Which if from a retailer would come bundled with a copy of windows and it's own key....

    But I am unclear as to the lincensing with windows. And if it's meant to be tied to you personaly. Or if it is indeed meant to be tied on a system per system basis.

    EX: I can install most software I puchase on any computer I use. I can't just give it to all my friends but I can use it on any system I am using.

    Are you "saposed to" buy a new windows copy when you buy a new computer? Is this business about "Product key being tied to the first CPU/MOBO it's tied to" just a saftey net? And maybe Microsoft will have to call me to confirm I am legit. Or I have to send ID or some other procedure to let me complete the installation/certification?

    My goal in the end is to install this on my new hard drive with the 64 bit version.

    I assume it is worth the effort to move my OS to the newer HD because it is larger and 6.0 gb/s. Rather then leaving it on my old 500 GB 3 gb/s older HD.

    TL;DR Am I going to have to buy a new copy of windows?
  7. Best answer selected by samson_20.
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