I was setting out to build a PC within a reasonable budget. What I need to ask is, which of the following would make a better combination , gaming wise :
A Core i3-2100 paired with a GTX 560(not Ti)
A Core i5-2400 paired with an HD6850
I know the i3 option is not at all future proof, but I figure i can always upgrade to a i5-2500 when the price is right in the near future.This is more or less to last me through this year.
Note that I never plan to overclock any of the components.
Kind of a mixed bag there. You should definitely choose the i5 for your CPU if you looking to game. The 560 in my opinion is a better card then the 6850. So technically it would be great if you could do the i5 with the 560. If not then pick the i5 build with the 6850.
The video cards are pretty much even but I'd get the 2130 CPU. It only has 2 cores but is $60 cheaper than 2400 which has 4 cores but is rarely used in current gaming. It can also Turbo Boost to 3.4GHz which the 2130 can't do but 100MHz is insignificant at those speeds anyway. Overclocking the video card is free, overclocking CPU's can be a bit more expensive sometimes. The 6850 will probably be a bit cheaper than a 560.
With that setup you can get by with a 450W. PSU. Just buy a decent brand which is 80+ or 80+ Bronze certified.
I would suggest getting a P Series or Z68 series MB in case you do decide to o/c sometime. No real reason I can see getting a 2500 rather than a 2500K unless the price on the 2500 drops dramatically.
best combo: core i5 2500k/2400 + gtx 560 ti
if you can't afford it -
core i3 2120 + radeon hd 6870
a bit costlier: core i5 2400 + 6870.
between the two you posted - core i3 2100 + gtx 560 non ti would be more powerful, especially in the gpu bound games like metro or bf3 offline single player.
also keep in mind that ivy bridge might launch in april and more gfx cards from amd 7000 series and nvidia's 600 series will come out this year. those should drive cpu and gfx card prices a bit lower.
gtx 560 and 6870 trade blows in general gaming performance. but in games with nvidia specific features like physx, fxaa - 560 will perform better than the 6870.
the 6870 earned recommendation for this month's gaming gfx card at its price point: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-car...
you can check out the whole article for recommended gfx cards at different price points.
the i5 2500 really won't go down in price anymore, not much anyway's. They're releasing Ivy Bridge soon which will replace Sandy Bridge. So the Ivy Bridge CPU that hits the current Sandy Bridges pricepoint, will stay at that price, while Sandy is phased out.