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$~1000 Gaming Rig w/Monitor. Need a Double-Checking.

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February 28, 2012 9:53:01 PM

Hey there, Tom's Hardware.

----This is an edited post, after reading all the comments and discussions below. If you have suggestions as to what I should buy, what I should replace, etc. please feel free to comment and leave your opinion! I'll be glad to listen.----

Here is the current build, after all the suggestions below helped me change some things around and filter out the things I don't need. Still going to stick with the small SSD for the very minor things I need it for, as I can always upgrade in the future if I have to. No big deal. I'd rather have the speed now for the couple things I need it for at this moment. The prices listed without the (w/ ship) tag are all items with free shipping at the moment.

Processor: AMD Phenom II X4 975 Black Edition ($160)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX (W/UEFI BIOS) ($103 w/ship)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory/RAM: Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) ($39)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: NZXT M59 - 001BK Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case ($55 w/ship)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 ($170)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OS Storage: Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR60GB 2.5" 60GB SATA III Asynchronous MLC Internal Solid State Drive ($85)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply: Rosewill RP600V2-S-SL 600W ATX12V v2.01 SLI Ready Power Supply ($60)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Monitor: ASUS VS Series VS228H-P Black 21.5" 5ms HDMI LED Backlight Widescreen LCD Monitor. ($155 w/ship)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Drive: LG 22X Super-Multi DVD Burner 22X ($21 w/ship)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This is the total -- Minus a data/storage drive and keyboard/mouse! [[$848.00]]. This comes just into my budget, under $1000, after I add in the things I need, such as a keyboard, fans, etc.

Just wanted to thank everyone who posted below for all their help in helping me pick new parts and guide me through the decision making process of what I should buy for this machine. I'm excited to get it up and going soon! :) 

Thanks again,

~Nyx
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 28, 2012 10:08:13 PM

Howdy,

ummm.. A couple thoughts I have,
1. that power supply is kind of weak. Will it work? Yeah probably, but I'd consider at least 550 watts for what you want to do with it. They aren't much more expensive.

2. Sold State drive, why? Yes, they have some advantages, but yours is not a very high capacity, and they're still kinda pricey ATM. I'd hold off on buying one and get yourself a traditional drive for now. You can always add an SSD later. Windows 7 alone will eat up a lot of it right away.
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February 28, 2012 10:30:37 PM

Motherboard...Cheaper, PCIe3.0
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SSD...I'm running this right now. Haven't had 1 issue yet.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU...Gives you a little overhead. Plus it has 2 PCIe power cables if you upgrade your GPU in the future.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Now you didn't state if you have an OS for it? Also, do you need the card reader? You might consider getting a cheap, CPU heatsink. The stocker will do fine, but and aftermarket will be quieter. Might also consider adding one extra fan to the case for better airflow also.
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February 28, 2012 10:53:09 PM

I agree with both statements by Nyxevvie. I'd change the SSD for a 500GB drive exactly like the one you already have and put it in RAID0. You will get double the throughput which may even beat that SSD in performance for your use cases.

Corsair Brand PSU is good, but go with the 650TX or 550W at least.

If you want to save money, I highly recommend you switch to AMD processor and motherboard. You will get awesome performance at a fraction of the cost. I hardly ever go Intel unless the person I'm building for has no defined budget limit. Yes, Intel is the processor of choice, but mostly just because of brand recognition. NO complaints on AMD processors at all.

That monitor is good. I like ASUS, but the VW series is better at 24'. I am currently rocking three Acer 21.5 slim design monitors and LOVE them. If you want to save money, go with the Acer slim design, for which you can get a 24' at a cheaper price than the monitor you've selected. They are cheap, light weight, and I haven't seen one with a dead pixel, although I will testify that I liked the 24' VW from ASUS better.

Just out of personal preference, I like Cooler Master cases better than NZXT, and Muskin Enhanced memory more than Corsair, but if you like these I wouldn't change because both should be good.

That video card is very good, but might be more than you need for gaming on a 1080 res monitor. The new 7770 is fairly cheap and you can get Ultimate settings on BF3 with it at about 40FPS with a 1920x1200 res... that you won't have. Actually, a 5770 might be something to consider if you want to knock off some more on the budget, I think you can get them well under $100 now, and I like the Sapphire brand. You will be able to game fine, even on newest games.

Remember the tech is constantly upgrading, so don't aim at getting the most up to date system on everything RIGHT NOW especially on a budget. The great thing about desktops is you can always throw a smaller chunks of money at your system later and keep it on par with your needs, instead of a BIG chunk right now. For now, focus on getting a good quality motherboard with plenty of room for expansion. If you got a motherboard that has two PCI-E 16x or more slots and went with the 5770/7770 right now, then if you wanted more power you can crossfire one for a ~100 bucks later and beat that 6870. If you plan on running higher resolution displays or multiple displays you'll want to get something with more VRAM.

Keep in mind the 7850 is right around the corner if you want to go that route.
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February 28, 2012 10:54:22 PM

I agree with the recommendation that you rethink the SSD. Prices are only going to come down and since you already have a nice HDD, this is a great way to save some $$ now and upgrade later. Also, you can easily get an i3-2120 that is an excellent budget gaming cpu that pairs well with the 6870. One of the big allures to the 2500K is the overclockability. Since you're not doing that, the i3 becomes a real contender that'll knock off another $100.

I would definitely consider putting some of that savings into a slightly more powerful PSU.
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February 28, 2012 10:58:48 PM

Wyered1 said:
I agree with both statements by Nyxevvie. I'd change the SSD for a 500GB drive exactly like the one you already have and put it in RAID0. You will get double the throughput which may even beat that SSD in performance for your use cases.

Corsair Brand PSU is good, but go with the 650TX or 550W at least.

If you want to save money, I highly recommend you switch to AMD processor and motherboard. You will get awesome performance at a fraction of the cost. I hardly ever go Intel unless the person I'm building for has no defined budget limit. Yes, Intel is the processor of choice, but mostly just because of brand recognition. NO complaints on AMD processors at all.

That monitor is good. I like ASUS, but the VW series is better at 24'. I am currently rocking three Acer 21.5 slim design monitors and LOVE them. If you want to save money, go with the Acer slim design, for which you can get a 24' at a cheaper price than the monitor you've selected. They are cheap, light weight, and I haven't seen one with a dead pixel, although I will testify that I liked the 24' VW from ASUS better.

Just out of personal preference, I like Cooler Master cases better than NZXT, and Muskin Enhanced memory more than Corsair, but if you like these I wouldn't change because both should be good.

That video card is very good, but might be more than you need for gaming on a 1080 res monitor. The new 7770 is fairly cheap and you can get Ultimate settings on BF3 with it at about 40FPS with a 1920x1200 res... that you won't have. Actually, a 5770 might be something to consider if you want to knock off some more on the budget, I think you can get them well under $100 now, and I like the Sapphire brand. You will be able to game fine, even on newest games.

Remember the tech is constantly upgrading, so don't aim at getting the most up to date system on everything RIGHT NOW especially on a budget. The great thing about desktops is you can always throw a smaller chunks of money at your system later and keep it on par with your needs, instead of a BIG chunk right now. For now, focus on getting a good quality motherboard with plenty of room for expansion. If you got a motherboard that has two PCI-E 16x or more slots and went with the 5770/7770 right now, then if you wanted more power you can crossfire one for a ~100 bucks later and beat that 6870. If you plan on running higher resolution displays or multiple displays you'll want to get something with more VRAM.

Keep in mind the 7850 is right around the corner if you want to go that route.


Wyered makes some good recommendations, especially about the GPU. If you don't need games close to maxed out at 1080p, a cheaper card is viable, although you might be able to go even cheaper with a 6770. Also, I like Coolermaster cases, too!

I do have to disagree though on the AMD processor recommendation. The i3 is fairly cheap and still beats overclocked AMD Phenom processors. The FX line shows no improvement over the Phenom line. Plus, you can upgrade it to the 2500k later, whereas there's very little room to upgrade with AMD.

Also, I'd like to see some benchmarks, but I'm severely skeptical that two 7200rpm HDDs in RAID0 could even come close to competing with a single SSD, even a SATA II SSD.
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February 28, 2012 11:34:21 PM

ringzero said:
Wyered makes some good recommendations, especially about the GPU. If you don't need games close to maxed out at 1080p, a cheaper card is viable, although you might be able to go even cheaper with a 6770. Also, I like Coolermaster cases, too!

I do have to disagree though on the AMD processor recommendation. The i3 is fairly cheap and still beats overclocked AMD Phenom processors. The FX line shows no improvement over the Phenom line. Plus, you can upgrade it to the 2500k later, whereas there's very little room to upgrade with AMD.

Also, I'd like to see some benchmarks, but I'm severely skeptical that two 7200rpm HDDs in RAID0 could even come close to competing with a single SSD, even a SATA II SSD.


Benchmarking numbers aren't always everything, unless your looking at actual results from testing a specific activity like FPS in a certain game at a certain setup. Yes, Intel makes possibly better processors (can't knock Intel) but any i3 proc is dual core and $100-200. For the same price you can get a hexa core AMD at 3.1Ghz or 3.8GHz quad core. I know what I would pick every time. Games don't always utilize the extra cores, but if I'm playing SC2, watching Netflix, and browsing the web like I often do on my three monitors, those extra cores are great. AMD is better bang for the buck IMO. To each his own though.

I didn't mean to say the RAID0 disks would beat an SSD in benchmarks (it won't for sure), so you are correct. I meant that under his uses, it would be a SERIOUS improvement to performance while doubling his storage capacity for less dollars spent. Most likely he wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a SSD and RAID array so go with the cheaper per GB one. Not to mention you could put more drives in raid 0 and beat the SSD performance by using the cache most of the time at a higher throughput. Just sayin'.

I'd like to see the results you were referring to about an i3 beating a overclocked Phenom processor (assuming it's not the bottom of the barrel dual core AMD processor being tested). I know at equivalent specs the Intel will win, but I'd bet the AMD will win at an equivalent price point. Do you have a link?


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February 28, 2012 11:35:12 PM

First off, I just want to thank everyone for their help with everything and all the suggestions. However, I would like to add a couple things to what you all said.

~I do have a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, from my college. Got it at a great deal. (Not an upgrade, computer science major. :)  )

~On the topic of monitors, I have seen this monitor, as my father just bought it to actually replace an Acer monitor. Ironic, eh? This monitor, is by and far the most fantastic screen I've seen out of the ones I've been able to see. However, you say the 24" model is an upgrade? How so?

~In the case of AMD vs. Intel processors... from what I've read, everything is pointing to an i5... the AMDs just aren't seeming to be worth their price, for what I can get from an Intel.

~Would the RAID0 configuration be faster than a small SSD that holds simply my operating system and 1-2 games? (1 larger and 1 small.)

~And for the upgrades posted, I was most concerned about the PSU, thanks for all the suggestions. I was thinking the 550W, but would the 600/650W be more suggested, overhead-wise and for kind of a "just-in-case" thing? And the Corsair Force SSD was my other option, but when I last checked, it wasn't available. Im glad it is now, I would rather go with that. And the motherboard, would it be worth it to switch to the ASRock? I was reading better reviews in terms of DoA boards for that model. Also, the easy to use BIOS was definitely a perk of the ASUS.

Thanks again for any help and answers you could provide. :) 

~Nyx

EDIT: Oh! I almost forgot! The video card situation... would you suggest an older video card for a cheaper price, that could offer a bit more performance for a bit more, if I was to crossfire another at a slightly later date? (Mid-late April or so, I would assume.)
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February 28, 2012 11:57:19 PM

I hate ASRock personally. I got in an argument with someone about that on here yesterday. ASRock is getting better but I'd still compare it to a Honda Civic in the auto world. You wouldn't want to put a V8 in a Civic. ASUS is my favorite. ASRock actually spurred off of ASUStek in 2002, but they are majorly a OEM crap MB manufacture to eMachines and the like up until the past few years. Some people like them, I have never been impressed and never bought one for myself.

I'd go with 650W if you can fit it in your budget. Can't hurt, would support that extra video card in the future, and might last longer if you aren't pushing limits.

The ASUS VW series monitor is simply the next tier in tier lineup. I've never had a VE model, but the Newegg reviews seem to praise the VW series and sometimes are mixed with the VE series. I think the VW series might have a better response time. You'll have to check that.

Acer hasn't been a brand I liked in the past, but they seem to have been making a push to be a better quality company lately across the board of tablets, monitors, phones, etc. I only suggested it because it was very cheap if you want to fit more than one monitor or get a bigger size for the same price.

I like the 6770 option if it is cheaper than the 7770. The 7770 only slightly better performance but at lower power usage. Keep in mind that you can't crossfire a 6770 with a 6870 or something... they need to be the same tier. The 5770 will crossfire with a 6770 but not a 5870 or 6870. And the VRAM doesn't double. Two 6770 1GB cards still only have 1GB VRAM. Just an FYI. But at one 1080 monitor, you'll be fine with 1GB.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 28, 2012 11:58:58 PM

Benchmarks are highly misleading. The whole point of programs like Cinebench is to push the CPU as hard as it possibly can, this is extremely unrealistic in practical applications. Also, most games on the market (maybe even all of them) do not use more than 2 cores of the processor.


I can show benchmarks of the Phenom II 975 (quad core) (non-overclocked) outperforming a 2500k Sandy Bridge. Its not true in every case, but when you factor in the cost, yea, the AMD takes the cake. As far as gaming, your Graphics card is what really counts.


Heres an example of Phenom II 975 vs i5 Sandy Bridge

Call of Duty 4



Heres Phenom II eating i5 for lunch

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty





My source is from hardwaresecrets.com. Newegg still has some 975 Black Edition Phenom IIs left for 160 bucks. They're worth considering if you're on a budget. Brand wars be damned LOL.

Edit.. I had to take the picture down.. apparently hardware secrets is accusing me of committing a crime.

Heres the link http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/Core-i5-2500K-vs...


You can see my system build on my Member Configuration page. My total cost was 912 dollars, but I already had a monitor, keyboard and mouse.
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February 29, 2012 12:12:07 AM

nekulturny said:
Benchmarks are highly misleading. The whole point of programs like Cinebench is to push the CPU as hard as it possibly can, this is extremely unrealistic in practical applications. Also, most games on the market (maybe even all of them) do not use more than 2 cores of the processor.


I can show benchmarks of the Phenom II 975 (quad core) (non-overclocked) outperforming a 2500k Sandy Bridge. Its not true in every case, but when you factor in the cost, yea, the AMD takes the cake. As far as gaming, your Graphics card is what really counts.


Agreed completely. (Obviously)
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 12:13:12 AM

Quote:
EDIT: Oh! I almost forgot! The video card situation... would you suggest an older video card for a cheaper price, that could offer a bit more performance for a bit more, if I was to crossfire another at a slightly later date? (Mid-late April or so, I would assume.)


Considering the life expectancy of modern computers, no I wouldn't. I'd get a card that meets your needs NOW. Theres always gonna be a bigger, better card in "a few months".
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February 29, 2012 12:16:38 AM

Thanks again for the replies,

However, I agree with the motherboard. I'm more than likely sticking with the ASUS at this point. Also, the video card... I know the details of crossfire, but Im trying to figure out if its just easier to throw in another $40 and get the card that will do the best for the price and I can afford now. Also, the power supply... I believe the 600W Corsair will be what I go for.

Alright, those silly CPUs. I read your article you posted, Nekulturny. Unfortunately, while it won out barely in those two applications, if you read forward to the conclusion, the article states that the i5-2500k simply dominates the Phenom Black in nearly every application. My question now is, is the AMD FX-8120 Zambezi Eight-core any good for its $200 price tag in comparison to the i5?

Thanks again,

~Nyx
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 12:17:21 AM

Wyered1 said:
Agreed completely. (Obviously)


Yea, sorry, I grabbed the wrong quote lol. That was my kneejerk reaction, thats why I pulled it from quoting you when I edited it.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 12:21:14 AM

nyxevvie said:
Thanks again for the replies,

However, I agree with the motherboard. I'm more than likely sticking with the ASUS at this point. Also, the video card... I know the details of crossfire, but Im trying to figure out if its just easier to throw in another $40 and get the card that will do the best for the price and I can afford now. Also, the power supply... I believe the 600W Corsair will be what I go for.

Alright, those silly CPUs. I read your article you posted, Nekulturny. Unfortunately, while it won out barely in those two applications, if you read forward to the conclusion, the article states that the i5-2500k simply dominates the Phenom Black in nearly every application. My question now is, is the AMD FX-8120 Zambezi Eight-core any good for its $200 price tag in comparison to the i5?

Thanks again,

~Nyx



Of course the i5 dominates the Phenom II. The Phenom II is also a generation older than the 2500k, its also significantly cheaper. Don't get me wrong, the i5 2500k is a damn good processor, but if you're on a budget, I can promise you the 975 will please you greatly. No, the FX-8120s are not worth the price tag they carry. Again, 8 cores is fancy and all, but most games are still (and probably will for some time) continue using only 2 cores..

Yes, I have read that article fully. I didn't just google it and paste it. You want a budget gaming system, and so did I. And thats what I built. We come back to the argument the Graphics card is what really matter. I'm not a heavy gamer, even though I wanted the capability. Thats why I went with a mid-level priced gaming GPU (550TI)

Quote:
Also, the power supply... I believe the 600W Corsair will be what I go for.


That'll do! :D 

Quote:
but Im trying to figure out if its just easier to throw in another $40 and get the card that will do the best for the price and I can afford now.


Nah, man I just don't think its worth it. Like I said, theres always gonna be a better card coming out soon. You *could* do it, but in the end, you're just throwing 40 bucks away.
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February 29, 2012 12:43:40 AM

Thanks for the speedy replies.

The reason I asked, is its actually a little cheaper than the i5-2500, on NewEgg at least. It's $200, in comparison to $210 for the i5-2500.

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

And I do a -bunch- of multitasking, here at school. Photoshop, After Effects, gaming, tons of web browsing, and again, Im a computer science major so I've got all the assorted programs involved with that open too. I also plan to use another monitor in conjunction with the one I use now, but it's again, the 1440 x 900. I want to use it for the web-browsing, etc. If that helps, let me know.

Thanks for the help :) 

~Nyx

EDIT: I meant in just keeping the 6870, rather than switching to anything else.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 12:46:14 AM

nyxevvie said:
Thanks for the speedy replies.

The reason I asked, is its actually a little cheaper than the i5-2500, on NewEgg at least. It's $200, in comparison to $210 for the i5-2500.

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

And I do a -bunch- of multitasking, here at school. Photoshop, After Effects, gaming, tons of web browsing, and again, Im a computer science major so I've got all the assorted programs involved with that open too. I also plan to use another monitor in conjunction with the one I use now, but it's again, the 1440 x 900. I want to use it for the web-browsing, etc. If that helps, let me know.

Thanks for the help :) 

~Nyx



NP, I forum whore when I'm supposed to be working on school work. I'm a first year computer science major myself.

As far as my system, I multitask as well. I've have this computer together for a couple weeks now, and she runs great. I'm driving 2 monitors with the video card, I can play games and work on homework on the other monitor. Trust me, while I can't blame u for going with the 2500k, you wont have any complaints either way.

AMD has some major issues to work out with their new line of CPUs. while I tried to deny it at first, I'm starting to learn the problems are deeper than I thought initially.
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February 29, 2012 12:50:34 AM

Haha, alright. Sounds good. Changes my mind pretty quickly. I've always been a fan of AMD, but the Intel i5 I've got in this MacBook of mine runs way faster than expected.

I'll check out the other options everyone suggested though, haha.

On a side note: Where do you go to school?
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 12:51:49 AM

nyxevvie said:
Haha, alright. Sounds good. Changes my mind pretty quickly. I've always been a fan of AMD, but the Intel i5 I've got in this MacBook of mine runs way faster than expected.

I'll check out the other options everyone suggested though, haha.

On a side note: Where do you go to school?


Hagerstown Community College. I'm 26, returning to college a 2nd time because of the crappy economy.
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February 29, 2012 12:54:39 AM

Nice, haha. Wright State Univ. here. Lol. But yeah. Im now stuck with a couple of weird choices to make, simply based on reviews and critiques. Lol.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
February 29, 2012 1:02:31 AM

nyxevvie said:
Nice, haha. Wright State Univ. here. Lol. But yeah. Im now stuck with a couple of weird choices to make, simply based on reviews and critiques. Lol.



Have you considered asking your professors? I consulted with my PC Repair professor on my build (shes an Tenured Prof who also runs her own private PC repair shop-aka she knows her stuff).
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February 29, 2012 1:08:48 AM

Yeah... unhelpful as they could be haha.

Also, if I was to jump for an AMD processor and board, where do you suggest that I go to find out what board I should buy?
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February 29, 2012 1:47:45 AM

I like all the advice you have been getting.
I have asus maximus iv gene-z mobo and i5 2500k I love it. It is kind of more than you would need for a mobo if you don't plan to o.c.

I might even suggest that you consider a lesser board than the Asus board that you picked. If you have no desire to o.c. and are getting a non k version of the processor you can still get a z68 board that doesn't have the higher capacity hardware designed for o.c.
like this one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You could save a few bucks on ram as well by going 1333mhz with this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

or if you want to stay with 1600mhz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They are both great ram and I have systems with both.

I built my gf a great little pc with an h67 msi mobo and a i3 2100 that can play the same games I play with my pc. She doesn't have the gpu that I do but I did put a 550ti in her machine for awhile and it smoked ultimate settings with bf3 on 1400x900 res. Never dipped below 40 fps.

I wouldn't throw out the idea of an i3 processor unless you will be doing allot of the other stuff you talked about, editting and such. If you want to stay quad core you might think of the lesser i5's as well like 2400, just to save a couple of more bucks.

Another thing you can do is check out ebay for things like ram and psu and cases etc. If you make sure the seller has 100% feedback and that he is in the U.S. you are protected by paypal against bad products.
You can find some deals sometimes. I got my i5 2500k new sealed in box for $176. Right now the 1600 ram I linked is about to go for $26.

Nope just checked...someone bumped it up and got it for $31
Also if you dont care about the virtue graphics you might even back up to an h67 board to save a little more If you go with i3 processor I dont think you have processor graphics anyway.
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February 29, 2012 3:18:50 AM

nekulturny said:
Yea, sorry, I grabbed the wrong quote lol. That was my kneejerk reaction, thats why I pulled it from quoting you when I edited it.


Ya lost me there? Why did you remove a quote from me? And what quote would that be? lol.

To the original poster:

In your price range, you can afford to get the tippy-top of the ASUS AMD mobo line, with a mean CPU and enough money to get the rest of your components at the necessary performance for the most demanding of multi-tasking and games. I'd like to see someone try to do that with Intel under a grand.

But in all seriousness, if you AREN'T going to game at hardcore demands, I highly suggest you spend more money on monitors and less on a GPU. A 5770 will allow you to run three monitors with live wallpapers and all the bells and whistles and all the multitasking you want to have. You'll even be able to play [new] games comfortably on a single monitor. That a sub $100 card. You will look at those monitors constantly. Get extras that you want. A nice keyboard. A nice mouse. If you program a lot, its very beneficial to run a few monitors in portrait mode. It's easier to look at code that way. To do that you'll need a stand and VESA mountable monitors. Three monitors is very nice for this too.
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February 29, 2012 3:29:59 AM

Thanks for all the help, again guys. You're making my decisions less and less difficult as I move along here. The only thing now, is I can't decide where to go for my mobo/CPU. I wouldn't mind an AMD, if its only a small sacrifice. If it still runs as fast as say, an i5-2400, I can deal with that. Any lower and I'll probably have issues.

I hear the firmware with the new Bulldozer line is being updated as quickly as it can, and it's at least sort-of catching up to its Intel competitors.

Also, I would love to game at the best speeds as my budget will allow. I play a bunch of different types of games, and they all look and play better at the highest settings, of course. These games include: World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Skyrim, MW3, and soon SW:TOR. So I would really not prefer to cut costs on the GPU if I don't have to.

As stated above, I will be at least running dual monitors. And as far as a mouse goes, I have a Razer Naga Epic that has been great for me for a couple years now, and the keyboard is already included in my little price tag, the Microsoft Sidewinder X4.

Hard drives are another issue, I would like to know if there's anywhere that has a good deal of information about RAID 0, as that could be an option if it will save me money in the long run. Also, for RAID 0, do they have to be the exact same drive? I know its suggested, but is it absolutely necessary?

If you guys have product suggestions for any of my questions, please let me know. You all are super generous for all your help you've been offering me. Thanks again, so much.

~Nyx
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February 29, 2012 4:09:07 AM

Wyered1 said:
Ya lost me there? Why did you remove a quote from me? And what quote would that be? lol.


LOL, I dunno anymore. Don't mind me, I may be a Dean's List student now, but I was a Special Ed in Highschool (a sad but true story) :D 
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February 29, 2012 4:19:34 AM

nyxevvie said:
Thanks for all the help, again guys. You're making my decisions less and less difficult as I move along here. The only thing now, is I can't decide where to go for my mobo/CPU. I wouldn't mind an AMD, if its only a small sacrifice. If it still runs as fast as say, an i5-2400, I can deal with that. Any lower and I'll probably have issues.

I hear the firmware with the new Bulldozer line is being updated as quickly as it can, and it's at least sort-of catching up to its Intel competitors.

Also, I would love to game at the best speeds as my budget will allow. I play a bunch of different types of games, and they all look and play better at the highest settings, of course. These games include: World of Warcraft, League of Legends, Skyrim, MW3, and soon SW:TOR. So I would really not prefer to cut costs on the GPU if I don't have to.

As stated above, I will be at least running dual monitors. And as far as a mouse goes, I have a Razer Naga Epic that has been great for me for a couple years now, and the keyboard is already included in my little price tag, the Microsoft Sidewinder X4.

Hard drives are another issue, I would like to know if there's anywhere that has a good deal of information about RAID 0, as that could be an option if it will save me money in the long run. Also, for RAID 0, do they have to be the exact same drive? I know its suggested, but is it absolutely necessary?

If you guys have product suggestions for any of my questions, please let me know. You all are super generous for all your help you've been offering me. Thanks again, so much.

~Nyx


From what I understand, the problem with the Bulldozer AMD is claiming is software in nature. (And its a little bit out of my knowledge- so I can't say this is gospel, I might be completely wrong) The problem has to do with how Windows 7 schedules the cores. They have released two hotfixes now with very little improvement. While its true that theoretically the OP system can be modified to schedule the cores properly, it something that shouldn't (and probably won't be done to a great extent with Windows 8), as the CPU should know how to use the cores on its own without being told by the OP system.

Now the advantage of my system, is the Phenom II is compatible with the AM3+ (Bulldozer FX socket), so assuming AMD ever sorts out the problem with those processors, I can always swap one out. Intel has not been as generous with offering such backwards compatibility lately. Phenom IIs when they came out were backwards compatible with DDR2 RAM as well as the current DDR3 at the time and were compatible with the AM2+ socket as well as the AM3 they were built on. Meanwhile Intel was not, and LGA 1155/1156 *middle finger to you Intel*

I dunno much about RAID, so I cant comment either way other than to say, I'm pretty sure that no they do not need to be the same drive: brand, model, capacity, etc.

AS far as the games you mentioned, my significant other is the real gamer between the two of us, I play Runescape pretty much, I did dabble with WOW a bit at his request. But hes into the Skyrim thing and all that, hes actually using an older GTX 460 and it kicks ass in his system with an i5 2300.

So far, I'm using the Zotac GTX 550TI Amp (its overclocked from the factory) it works pretty good, and like I said, I'm driving 2 monitors with it, and I get on my Runescape, do my homework, play music, surf the web, etc etc. I am *assuming* the "identical system" in the comparison is the non-AMP! edition.

This is my benchmark I did with Cinebench. I got this card off Tigerdirect for 160 bucks. The 560 TI is a little better, but substantially more in price.
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February 29, 2012 4:33:24 AM

Awesome. Thanks for your help. ;)  ill be looking into these more and more here soon.
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February 29, 2012 4:34:46 AM

Don't mind my repeated editing, I tend to do that. I swear its done now! :) 
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February 29, 2012 4:42:28 AM

Hahaha. Its alright. I didnt read it till you happened to be done editing anyway.

Anyway... Yeah... Im excited. I think if i can get a reasonable CPU/MoBo and hard drive, i can probably order the parts in a week or so! ;) 

Thanks again for all the help.
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February 29, 2012 2:09:22 PM

nyxevvie said:


Hard drives are another issue, I would like to know if there's anywhere that has a good deal of information about RAID 0, as that could be an option if it will save me money in the long run. Also, for RAID 0, do they have to be the exact same drive? I know its suggested, but is it absolutely necessary?

~Nyx


THe drives SHOULD be the same ideally, but not required. They will most likely get the best performance if both drives behave/react the same. Also, if you use a 750GB drive with a 500GB drive, only 500GB of the 750GB drive will be used. It's probably not going to be an issue if you use a different brand or different cache and such, but I would try to use the same. Basically, I'd predict that your performance will be double the performance of your weakest drive.

If you want to understand RAID, wikipedia it and you'll have the basics. It's a pretty straitforward and simple tech.

I agree with Nelkulturny on his thoughts about AMD/Intel issue. I am in the same boat as him, I have an AM3+ mobo, but I'm running a Phenom processor. It's great not being forced into a whole new system everytime a new CPU is released. I don't really see a reason to "upgrade" to a Bulldozer CPU because I have yet to really tax my Phenom processor. The most demanding thing I do of a CPU is video converting. The 1100T I have will convert 5 movies simultaneously no problem, and that's insane. If Phenom saves you money I would go with that. 8 Cores would be nice, but won't help your gaming. If you plan on gaming more, get a faster clock speed with less cores. That AMD Phenom quad core 3.9Ghz would be better for gaming than an 8 core CPU at 3.1GHz, although in reality, both probably won't give you a hiccup with a decent GPU.
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February 29, 2012 2:22:37 PM

Alrighty then, well, what motherboard and processor would you recommend then? I'm completely unfamiliar with AMD products, in terms of parts. I've used them, just not delved into the insides of them. Haha. Any help is definitely appreciated. :) 

~Nyx
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February 29, 2012 3:16:37 PM

nyxevvie said:
Alrighty then, well, what motherboard and processor would you recommend then? I'm completely unfamiliar with AMD products, in terms of parts. I've used them, just not delved into the insides of them. Haha. Any help is definitely appreciated. :) 

~Nyx


Depending on how your budget layout is looking right now...

This would be a good Mobo.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or premium edition,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

You could combo this deal,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

If you are going to get an after market CPU cooler,
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All that is on the highest end I would suggest you go. The first mobo and last CPU listed is $325. That's probably more than I'd suggest on spending, but you could go that route.

This combo looks pretty good if you want to check it out, but won't be ideal for multi GPUs. If you only plan on one GPU, which is fine, than it's worth a look.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

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February 29, 2012 4:16:15 PM

Alright, that's not too bad. That is, if I want to go with the Bulldozer series, correct? If I was to take a step down to the AMD Phenom II x4 975 Black Edition, would that be too terrible of a hit on performance? It would definitely help my budget, and allow for a larger SSD, rather than a RAID 0 setup with a double-data drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is the product I found, and I could use an aftermarket cooler. Is that a possibility? If that is a possibility, could you suggest a motherboard? This is the one I found, if you're wondering.

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

If I could step down even a little more on the motherboard, that would be awesome, due to the older processor. Again, I'm not too familiar with the AMD line in terms of motherboard and CPU, as most of my research was dedicated to the i5-2500.

Thanks for any help you could offer. :) 
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February 29, 2012 4:47:44 PM

nyxevvie said:
Alright, that's not too bad. That is, if I want to go with the Bulldozer series, correct? If I was to take a step down to the AMD Phenom II x4 975 Black Edition, would that be too terrible of a hit on performance? It would definitely help my budget, and allow for a larger SSD, rather than a RAID 0 setup with a double-data drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is the product I found, and I could use an aftermarket cooler. Is that a possibility? If that is a possibility, could you suggest a motherboard? This is the one I found, if you're wondering.

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

If I could step down even a little more on the motherboard, that would be awesome, due to the older processor. Again, I'm not too familiar with the AMD line in terms of motherboard and CPU, as most of my research was dedicated to the i5-2500.

Thanks for any help you could offer. :) 



It is my humble opinion, at this current point in time, its actually a "step down" to choose the Bulldozer over a Phenom II. This is due to the core-scheduling issues they have yet to satisfactorily resolve. One thing for sure, in terms of gaming the Phenom II blows Bulldozers out of the water. However, both will serve the needs of the average user quite well. One of the selling points of the Bulldozer is they're built for overclocking, on a stock cooler the FX-4100 theoretically can be overclocked 1ghz over without issue.

Now, AMD currently has "Piledriver" desktop CPUs in the works, these will be the next generation Bulldozer, and hopefully will be done with better success. Expect those to start rolling out in 2013.

The CPU you linked, is what I have in my system. Black edition for AMD btw simply mean the multiplier is unlocked for easier overclocking. Much like what the "K" in 2500k and 2600k denotes in Intel. However, I would not advise overclocking a Phenom II on the stock cooler, the max core temp is 62C for the 975 per AMD, under load with Cinnebench I hit mid 50s, so to overclock, a better cooler is a must. From what I've read, the Phenom II 975 can be overclocked stable with a push/pull type cooler to 4.2Ghz.

The motherboard you picked wouldn't be bad a choice. I've never used a Biostar MOBO however, but the specs look pretty solid. As long as you stay with the 990FX chipset and AM3+ socket, you have upgradability to the Bulldozers at a later point in time if you should desire to. (Keep in mind, Bulldozers are not backwards compatible with AM3)

The motherboard I'm using is a Gigabyte 990FXA-990-UD5, it cost me about 180 from Tigerdirect. I picked it mainly because it has a buttload of USB (Theres 11 on the back, I have 4 USB ports on the front of the case, and theres a header on the board I'm not even using that would give me 2 more) and SATA ports (it has 8), its really overkill for what my computer currently has.

I like having lots of USB ports personally, I quit smoking about 6 months ago, and been using Electronic cigarettes, I have battery powered ones that are USB charged, a USB powered one with no battery, I charge my cell phone with my computer, etc, etc.
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February 29, 2012 4:50:44 PM

nyxevvie said:
Alright, that's not too bad. That is, if I want to go with the Bulldozer series, correct? If I was to take a step down to the AMD Phenom II x4 975 Black Edition, would that be too terrible of a hit on performance? It would definitely help my budget, and allow for a larger SSD, rather than a RAID 0 setup with a double-data drive.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... is the product I found, and I could use an aftermarket cooler. Is that a possibility? If that is a possibility, could you suggest a motherboard? This is the one I found, if you're wondering.

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

If I could step down even a little more on the motherboard, that would be awesome, due to the older processor. Again, I'm not too familiar with the AMD line in terms of motherboard and CPU, as most of my research was dedicated to the i5-2500.

Thanks for any help you could offer. :) 


In my opinion, that processor is BETTER than the Bulldozer in the last combo deal I linked to, and you'll also see it is more expensive. So that processor is a fine choice in my eyes. Go for it.

On the motherboard: That is good with specs, but it's a budget brand. The motherboard is the backbone of your system and I wouldn't skimp if you can avoid it. Do you need the dual 16x video cards? If not, there are many sub $100 boards you can get from Asus or Gigabyte that would be better IMO. That's the cheapest board with dual 16x slots for a reason. If you are only going to use one video card, go for something like this:


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

Otherwise you can stick with the Biostar or similar speced alternatives. Also, you may want to check Amazon, best buy, etc to see if you can find better prices than Newegg. Newegg is awesome, but they aren't always the cheapest. I usually buy a few pieces from Amazon on every build.
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February 29, 2012 5:51:47 PM

Yea, I'm not too sure about the Biostar mobo either. It does seem awful cheap for the features it offers. I read some of the reviews, one of them complained that the video card slots were too close together when in SLI.. whats he going on about? Its standardized, they're all gonna be kinda cramped aren't they?
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February 29, 2012 6:11:28 PM

Alright, thanks you two. You've definitely helped me out here. Haha. I think I'm going to end up springing for the AMD board & CPU combo, as they seem to offer the performance I need without sacrificing too much. Also, definitely thank you for pointing out the little things I needed to look for when choosing AMD parts, haha. I know on Intels, it's the 1555 nonsense. :p 

I'll more than likely stick with the Asus board, as it features everything I had in my other board, including the UEFI BIOS. And yeah, I'll stick to the one GPU, as it will power everything I need with no issues. Question is now, which CPU cooler should I look for? Is there any specific brand you guys suggest, etc?

This build is looking to be just about perfect, and its looking like I might not have to wait as long as I thought I would have to, to build it! :) 

Thanks again,

~Nyx
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February 29, 2012 6:52:51 PM

Hey Nyx, when you make a final decision to drop the coin for everything, can you compile a list and links to where you're making the purchases and let me know the final costs? I'm looking to do the exact same thing as yourself and as I am not a 'hardcore' gamer, still love the luxory to do so. Mainly waiting on GW2, but just want a system that can be upgraded easliy for a few years to come and can cut through any game like butter. I myself am on a budget as the rest of this country is and after reading this thread has basically made my day. This will be my first full PC build from scratch so doing the homework needed to avoid the hiccups later is definitely a step to be taken seriously.
Thanks!

-Rick
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February 29, 2012 8:21:59 PM

Sure Rick, not a problem at all sir! Im at work right now, but I definitely will be recompiling the list with links on the top of this post sometime later on tonight, for both people who look at this thread and for my own sanity. Ill include prices this time as well. If everything is ordered from Newegg today, according to my shopping cart, the total is ~$830.50, without a hard drive. ;) 

I hope this helps!

~Nyx
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March 1, 2012 3:43:00 AM

rmiiirusty said:
That looks pretty nice for a $30 cooler



Yea, I actually ordered one myself when I came across it today.
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March 1, 2012 3:53:21 AM

That's awesome. I just added that to the list! :)  As soon as I finish up a bit of homework, I'll be updating this list on the top here, with my (supposedly) final build. :D  Shouldn't take me too long, I wouldn't imagine.

Thanks again, Nekulturny. Your help has been invaluable.

~Nyx
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March 1, 2012 11:44:55 AM

nyxevvie said:
That's awesome. I just added that to the list! :)  As soon as I finish up a bit of homework, I'll be updating this list on the top here, with my (supposedly) final build. :D  Shouldn't take me too long, I wouldn't imagine.

Thanks again, Nekulturny. Your help has been invaluable.

~Nyx


No problem, glad I could help. Let me tell ya, if you've never done this before, as I found out. Its so much more exciting to boot up a computer knowing that you made it. Maybe thats just the nerd in me talking.
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March 1, 2012 12:47:23 PM

Haha, I helped my father build one a couple years ago, but he stopped keeping up with everything, so he couldn't really help me decide on what parts to buy for this one. Lol. And yeah, it looks like my build is finalized and at the price point I would like it to be at. Finally!

I'll be updating the post at the top when I get to class in ~20 mins. I was far too tired after my homework to get on here and do that last night.

I'll be purchasing the parts in about 3 weeks, more than likely. Some sooner if I can get ahold of them on sale.

EDIT: The top post is now edited with the current build! Please let me know what you think. Btw, I chose the power supply because of its price per wattage, not the blue LED. It's definitely a plus though. :) 
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March 1, 2012 2:36:17 PM

I still didn't see O.S. in your list or an a\m cooler . Do you plan to O.C.

It sure is a shame you decided to go with AMD. I just put a system together with i5 2500k and an Asus maximus iv gene-z for about the same price.
Of course I got the O.S. on ebay for $71, and I got the Coolermaster Storm Scout case on sale for 20% off ($55) Any dvd drive that works is fine and so I used one from an old pc. And I found an Seagate 1tb Sata 6gb 7200rpm 64mb cache hdd for $79 on ebay (New)

Even if I had to pay full price for all of those things I would have only spent around $900 but didn't need a monitor. If you could just find a couple of sales , you could still fit the monitor in for the Grand you have for your budget.

Its o.k. I guess, You will still be able to game.

I have just had bad experiences with instability from amd in the past, Its been years and I'm sure they have gotten better, but you know how we are when it comes to past issues,LoL
Besides, intel leaves you open for much better upgradeability down the road.
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March 1, 2012 3:04:35 PM

The operating syste., i got from my university. Windows 7 Ultimate. And i forgot to add in the aftermarket cooler... I will add that as soon as im not on my phone. Haha.

In response to the AMD vs Intel thing, i have previously had computers with both, and to be honest, i prefered the AMD. i understand Intel offers the upgradability path, but i honestly dont see whybi would need to upgrade in the next 2-3 years with what ill be using this system for. And when i do upgrade it, im going to upgrade things besides thenprocsssor, more than likely.
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March 1, 2012 3:14:31 PM

rmiiirusty said:
I still didn't see O.S. in your list or an a\m cooler . Do you plan to O.C.

It sure is a shame you decided to go with AMD. I just put a system together with i5 2500k and an Asus maximus iv gene-z for about the same price.
Of course I got the O.S. on ebay for $71, and I got the Coolermaster Storm Scout case on sale for 20% off ($55) Any dvd drive that works is fine and so I used one from an old pc. And I found an Seagate 1tb Sata 6gb 7200rpm 64mb cache hdd for $79 on ebay (New)

Even if I had to pay full price for all of those things I would have only spent around $900 but didn't need a monitor. If you could just find a couple of sales , you could still fit the monitor in for the Grand you have for your budget.

Its o.k. I guess, You will still be able to game.

I have just had bad experiences with instability from amd in the past, Its been years and I'm sure they have gotten better, but you know how we are when it comes to past issues,LoL
Besides, intel leaves you open for much better upgradeability down the road.



Intel and AMD have both made some real nice pieces of trash over the years. Today, people point out the failures of the Bulldozers, but forget Intels first dual core was pure garbage (they even admitted it was a hurried attempt to get in the market against AMD), and their original Pentium 4 was outperformed by Pentium IIIs.

Phenom II Denebs however, was not one of AMD's mistakes, they did everything right with those CPUs.

Intel actually hasn't been giving great upgradeability options as of late. They changed sockets on us and didn't make them backwards compatible, where on the other hand Phenom II is backwards and forward compatible with AMDs recent AM3+.

But yea, as far as an OS. I got Windows 7 Professional for free from my school as well. I can get any OS Windows has ever made actually. Not that I'd want most of them, I prefer Linux. I used Ubuntu for the last several years of the life of my Dell 8200. The only reason I don't use it simply is the amount of extra work it takes to make various things compatible. One more reason I hate Microsoft, they are the "standard".
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March 1, 2012 4:24:18 PM

Yeah, the intel,amd battle goes on and doesn't really need to as it all boils down to preference anyway.
Compatability is why I always go with windows. It seams all games and programs work with windows as well as peripherals that may not work with other systems.

I also prefer nvidea over amd. Not for performance in programs, just for ease of use. I have spent hours with amd software trying to make it work right LoL.

Anyway, good luck with your build nyxevvie , and let us know how it goes!!
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