Vet my first build: 2 options ~$950-1500

My first build—I'm doing it! After opening approx. 1 trillion tabs and making endless wish lists and spreadsheets, I think I'm about ready to order.

Approximate Purchase Date: asap

Budget Range: up to $1500 after rebates, including a new monitor (22-24") but no other peripherals

System Usage from Most to Least Important: relatively non-intense games like (don't laugh) the Sims, Photoshop/Illustrator, basic web stuff, and possibly architectural modeling/rendering (I tend to keep this stuff at work so if my home machine can handle some, great, but it's not my main focus here)

Overclocking / SLI or Crossfire: Doubt it.

Option 1:
Case: Corsair Graphite 600T White - $159.99 / $139.99 after rebate

CPU: i5 2450 - $189.99

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 - $137.99

PSU: Corsair Enthusiast TX650W - $76.49 / $66.49

RAM: Corsair Vengeance 8GB DDR 1600 - $34.99

SSD: Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 120GB - $128.99

HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200RPM 32MB Cache - $119.99

GPU: EVGA GTX 560 - $179.74 / $164.74

ODD: $18 LG thing

OS: Windows 7 Home Premium - $99.99

Monitor: TBD

Total: $1146 / $1101 after rebates

Option 2 is the same except:
CPU: i3 2130 - $139.99

and no SSD

Total: $967 / $922 after rebates

Monitors I've been looking at:
ASUS PA238Q $265 <--- picking up a barely used one from a neighbor for ~$200, yay!
Dell UltraSharp U2312HM $250

SO, my questions are:
Does this seem to make sense, generally, as a build?
Does slightly cheaper (-$180) Option 2 seem decent since I don't think my needs necessitate top-o-the-line specs? Or does it seem like there are places where I'm going overboard?

Any other suggestions/substitutions or general feedback would be very welcome. I'm really excited to be trying this!
29 answers Last reply
More about build options 1500
  1. I dont see the point of getting a $160 case when you could get a HAF 912 for $50 and put the extra towards an i5 2500k or an HD7850
  2. I know, I was planning to get a cheaper one originally but ended up liking this for a few reasons:
    - Everything I've read emphasizes that it's a pleasure to build in and extremely user-friendly, which sounds good to a first-timer.
    - Seems to be very high quality so it will last me beyond this build (plus plenty of room to grow should I decide to go nuts at some point down the line).
    - And finally, I've been sort of charmed by its '60s plastic-era Mod/Stormtrooper looks. I do have to look at the thing every day, after all.
  3. The case is your personal preference and will work just fine.

    The i5 will give you better longevity on the build.

    I firmly believe that you should buy reliability over price in SSDs. Intel, Crucial, Samsung.
    Crucial M4
  4. Good, but for $10 less, you can get the i5 2500K for $180 from Microcenter(if you live near one).
  5. Your build generally makes sense.

    I would offer these thoughts:

    1) For your usage, keep a SSD in the budget. It is one of the best performance components you can buy today.
    I agree, that it is best to stick with samsung 830 or INtel 520 for SSD. It will cost more, but they have been problem free. Intel warranty is 5 years, vs. 3 for the others, so that might be sworth something to you.
    Keep an eye out for sales. SSD prices are coming down, and both Intel and Samsung have been responding. 120gb is a great size. If you really had to, 60gb is ok for the os and a few apps.

    2) I think I like the 2130 as a cpu. It has hyperthreading, so you can dispatch the same number of threads as the 2450P, except that the two hyperthreads are a not the power of the underlying core. But at 3.4 vs 3.2, each core is a bit stronger. I think on balance, you would not tell the difference.

    3) If you love the 600T, buy it. Looks count, and you will be looking at it for a long time.
    It is huge for your parts, so if you don'e exactly lust for that particular case, there are some nice and equally functional cases for 1/3 the price. The Antec 300 is a perennial favorite for $50 with free shipping:

    4) How many motherboard expansion slots do you think you could use? A full ATX motherboard has 7, a Micro-ATX has 4, and even a ITX board will have one.
    All will have a X16 pcie slot for your graphics card. Smaller motherboards are less expensive, but still have sound, lan, sata, usb, etc.
    If you go the 2130 route, or the 2450, you do not need a Z68 based motherboard for overclocking.
    An inexpensive H61 based motherboard will do. I built a pc for my son with a 2100 and this asrock M-atx motherboard. $70 only, and it worked very well:

    4) I happen to like smaller cases. I would go ITX and a lian li Q11
    Or Q08:

    5) As a suggestion, download and read the motherboard and case manuals, cover to cover now. Many questions will be answered.

    ----------good luck-----------
  6. geofelt, you've got me thinking small! I had not read anything about H61 chipsets, but I was wondering about micro-ATX. I guess when one is not intending to double up on GPUs, 4 expansion slots are plenty? And once I start saying "micro" to myself, the case does start to look a bit large... Things to think about! I also was liking some of the Fractal Design cases before the 600T caught my eye, which seem a little more scaled down in price and size.
    Good tip on pre-reading the manuals; wouldn't have thought of that one.

    Thanks also to Proximon for the input on the SSD. Can anyone tell me how much of a hassle it is to switch your OS over to one later on if I wanted to wait for a better model to go on sale?

    One vote for the 2130 and a couple for the 2500... Poor, unloved 2450 (oops, never mind, saw one "i5" up there!).

    Thanks for all the responses so far. Learning so much—from 2 days ago not realizing that you plugged your ethernet cord into your motherboard! It feels great to go from never looking under the hood to starting to understand how things work. Competence!
  7. I have a 120gb Intel 510 SSD which is getting full. I want to up that to a 240gb Intel 520 unit. I am just waiting untill the price is <$300, or I run out of room. Whichever comes first. Intel has a cloning utility which you can download to clone one to the other. Just so long as the target is at least as large as the source. I think it is Acronis true image under the covers.
    You can download a free trial of acronis for 30 days to do the job with other SSD brands.

    If you will go with a M-ATX sizes motherboard, look into the Silverstone TJ08E case.

    Here is a review:
  8. go with the intel 510 120gb i have 2 of those and 2 of crucial 128gb both are doing well, since you have a fat boy budget i suggest going with the i5 2500k, no overclocking but it's a few dollars off and better in a few years when you want to squeeze out more milk from your system. that case is awesome, it's kick ass, price doesn't matter it's the only future proof that can last you 10 years or more on your system compared to your other stuff.

    go grab this psu
    169.99$>159.99$ after rebate and also with a 15% off promo code
    (I don't know how they calculate this so I think it's like this

    159.99-15%=135.9915$ or 169.99-15%=144.4915-10=134.4915) well it's either of the 2 and it doesn't matter it's a better psu much more reliable and on a cheaper price it's such a steal price already

    for ram go with g.skill ripjaws x 8gb (2x4gb) 1600mhz cl9 for 46.99$ and drop that evga 560.

    go with the gtx680 of evga if you want or msi/asus of gtx680

    you won't regret it, but it might come close to your max budget but well since it fits your budget go with it. you won't regret it.
    IMO nothings overkill if it comes to your system it's just this "Can I afford Yes? or No?" but in your case you can afford, and comes with a lot of nice eyecandy too

    but hey overall you can stick with your 1st option and remove that 560 and drop in a 680 and your good to go with even some changes to order a few pizza and drinks

    note: go with i5 2500K and if you can grab some from microcenter for 180bucks your sold
  9. For $15 less, he could get a 950W PCPC Silencer.
  10. Micro Center: So that's what that nondescript building down by the river is...
    Think I may just head over tomorrow and pick up the i5 2500 for $180. $40 more than the 2130?
    They also have one open box GigabyteGA-Z68AP-D3 mATX that would be $80/$65 after rebate, which would make it as cheap as the H61 motherboards I've been looking at. Does that seem like a good deal?

    SSD: Here's a Samsung 128GB that comes packaged with disk cloning software and a few other bobs. $180—worth $10 more than the same SSD without the kit or no?

    azeem, this one's a lady! You know what happens when we assume.
  11. you know, you guys are so lucky having a microcenter in your country, heck in my country there are a lot of stores selling computer components but their pricing on most stuff is not right.

    if us stores sells it at 500$ (assuming as they already have some money for their pocket if someone buys it at 500$) in here people would sell it higher than world market. msi/asus gtx680 = 29500 divide it by 43 and you get USD price= 686.04$.

    went looking around at distro's here with a reseller friend of mine, just this february, after seeing their price list, found out they are selling it to the resellers at the same price as the people at newegg/tigerdirect is selling them so most resellers got no choice but to sell it more expensive. and now some new rule on most shops that they won't sell cpu without buying in bundle for motherboards or add 50$ another crap

    but well moving on topic.

    since your living near a micro center then it's a steal deal for you, but i do suggest trying to avoid buying reburbished or used or ope boxed items, even if they are cheaper i do suggest avoiding them.
  12. The Microcenter deals are often OK, but look better than they are because of local tax.

    An open box part, if the store is nearby doesn't sound too bad. Just don't mess around with it if it doesn't perform well. Take it right back.

    I'm glad you are considering the stronger chip. I have used a 2130 and a 2600K extensively in this same machine, in a variety of games, and the quad does make a difference.
  13. Proximon, thanks for reminding me about the tax. Didn't make a huuuge difference overall, but I definitely had forgotten to factor it in. Right now, I'm weighing the $190 (after tax) i5 2500 vs. their deal on a $106 (after tax) i3 2100...

    Browsing Micro Center again today, I found this MSI P67A-GD55 (B3) for $50/$40 after rebate! How is that possible? I checked all the specs, and it's not open box or refurbished. They only had one, so I reserved it for pickup just in case. But $100 less than anywhere else?????? HOW?

    Otherwise, after checking out H61 boards, I thought the ASRock H61M/U3S3 looked good (USB 3.0, e.g.).
    For the same price after rebate, there was also the MSI H67A-G43 (B3) ($89.99 before rebate).

    The $50 one (seriously, how?) has the added advantage of being local so I could exchange it pretty easily if something were to go wrong. Can anyone think of red flags here?
  14. Seems like a good deal on the MSI board. I don't use them much because I have found historically that they don't last as long. I have a few MSI boards in some office machines though, that are doing well.
  15. Ah well, the $50 board is moot as my reservation email came back showing that item "unavailable." :pfff:

    Looking at motherboards is starting to make me go a little cross-eyed. Is there really all that much difference between them. Correct me if I'm wrong: I should look at

    - a decent brand (ASUS, Gigabyte, maybe ASrock/MSI?)
    - whether it has the expansion slots, i/o, etc. that I'd like
    - the chipset (H61 would likely be fine for me, so a good price on anything better would just be gravy)

    And then just PICK ONE. Does that sound about right?
  16. mswn said:
    Ah well, the $50 board is moot as my reservation email came back showing that item "unavailable." :pfff:

    Looking at motherboards is starting to make me go a little cross-eyed. Is there really all that much difference between them. Correct me if I'm wrong: I should look at

    - a decent brand (ASUS, Gigabyte, maybe ASrock/MSI?)
    - whether it has the expansion slots, i/o, etc. that I'd like
    - the chipset (H61 would likely be fine for me, so a good price on anything better would just be gravy)

    And then just PICK ONE. Does that sound about right?

    About right.

    All are using the main component, the intel chipset.
    If you have a brand preference, then go that way.

    I think the chipset choice does have a few more implications.

    H61 is cheaper, but most H61 motherboards do not have 6gb sata which will come into play if you get a modern SSD. Possibly no usb3.0 if that is an issue.
    No overclocking with H61.
    Bios upgrade to support ivy bridge may not be there, check with the individual mobo web site.

    H67 is the same, but you may get 6gb sata and usb3.0 ivy bridge upgrade should be ok.

    P67 was the first overclockable chip. Only downside is no support for integrated graphics.

    Z68 has it all. Plus the option for ssd cacheing which may be of interest in some situations.

    This month should see Z77 motherboards which have some features beyond Z68. Talk is that they may be less expensive than Z68. I am doubtful about that.

    As I see it, H61 helps the budget now, precludes you from some nice future upgrades. But with <$50 invested in one, it would be easy to dump it in favor of what is needed for a big upgrade.
  17. OK! Can I get a once-over on my revised list?

    CPU: i5 2500K — $191 (incl tax)
    Mobo: GigabyteGA-Z68AP-D3 — $106 / $91 after rebate
    PSU: Corsair Enthusiast TX 650W — $76 / $66
    GPU: EVGA GTX 560 — $180 / $165
    RAM: Corsair XMS 8GB DDR3-1333 — $48 / $28
    HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM 32 MB Cache — $120
    ODD: LG DVD burner — $18
    OS: Windows 7 — $99

    Total: $838 / $778 after rebates

    Case is TBD (contemplating hugeness of the 600T, exploring other designs, etc), and I think I'll be holding off on SSD for now. With my current 5-year-old Dell, I go make myself a cup of coffee every time I have to start it up, so I figure anything else will seem like a dream.

    Seem reasonable?
  18. Looks reasonable.

    May I suggest you get the SSD first, and defer on the hard drive. Hard drive prices are still coming down.
    It is much easier to install the ssd initially when you load the os. Specify the sata mode as AHCI(not ide or raid) and you will get the proper drivers up front.
    60gb is ok for the os and a game or two, 120gb will hold a good handful of games. Add a hard drive later if you need to for expansion.
  19. Right. A 120GB SSD will hold the OS and 4 or 5 large games. The longer you wait on the HDD, the less it will cost... through about the next 12 months.

    And to echo what others have said, the 6870 performs better in most games than the GTX 560, and costs less. ( I thought I was echoing that... too many threads open.)

    This is one page of a review that compares the two GPUs,2944-10.html

    Several games are compared, and then this chart adds everything up to give you over all results:
  20. The above chart shows the min fps higher but the avg fps lower.
  21. Probably not the case with a larger sample of games, but yes. Minimum being what you actually notice when it's not enough.
  22. Back once again, and many thanks to all who have responded so far!
    6870 sounds like a reasonable swap, and you've convinced me to go for the Samsung 128GB SSD instead of the 1TB HDD. (I suppose in the meantime, I could poach the 256GB HDD from my old Dell since I don't think it's worth trying to sell anyway?)

    Now I've got cases narrowed down to the NZXT Source 210 White, which at $50 has the same kind of look as the 600T in a scaled-down version at less than a third of the price. Wish it had some dust filters, maybe a front fan, and of course given the price, it'll be otherwise pretty basic; but it seems good, no?

    OR either the Fractal Define Mini or Arc Mini, both of which are priced at $106 at Micro Center. Choosing between the two of those would just be a matter of which I end up liking the looks of more, but means I'd have to pick out a microATX board. Here are four picks:
    ASUS P8H61-M PRO $74.89
    - H61 but read somewhere here that it supports Ivy Bridge now (not sure how much that matters)
    - no USB 3.0 (but I don't have any USB 3.0 devices... yet?) and 3GB SATA
    - ASUS seems to be a good brand
    - local buy, so I can yell at the Micro Center guys if things go wrong :ange:

    AsRock H61M U3S3 $69.99
    - H61 with USB 3.0 and 6GB SATA
    - heard mixed things about AsRock

    ASUS P8P67-M PRO $129.99 / $109.99 after rebate

    GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 $128 / $118

    Thoughts on/experiences with these cases? Gigabyte vs. ASUS vs. AsRock? Anything else? And again, thanks for your input! Picking out all of these things is fun but also kind of exhausting!
  23. You need SATA 6GB/s for the SSD, and USB 3.0 is very valuable. It really is a big boost to transfers and I won't build a machine without it.

    If you are getting the i5-2500K, you should at least keep the option of overclocking open. That means the P67 or Z68 board.

    A couple combo deals for consideration

    That Arc Mini is a nice little case, but a TX650 in there is going to be a nightmare. Too many cables and no place to put them all.
  24. You don't NEED 6gb sata for a SSD. Nice, yes, need no. The primary benefit of a ssd is random i/o and 3gb or 6gb sata does not make a difference there. Small random i/o is what the os does mostly, and that is where the big benefit comes in. 50x faster than a hard drive. Only for large sequential transfers will a modern ssd be limited by 3gb sata, and even then, you will be 2x faster than a hard drive.

    My point is, yes, 6gb sata is better, but if there is good value with 3gb sata, or even an older 3gb SSD like the Intel 320, then you don't lose much.
  25. Proximon said:
    You need SATA 6GB/s for the SSD, and USB 3.0 is very valuable. It really is a big boost to transfers and I won't build a machine without it.

    If you are getting the i5-2500K, you should at least keep the option of overclocking open. That means the P67 or Z68 board.

    A couple combo deals for consideration

    That Arc Mini is a nice little case, but a TX650 in there is going to be a nightmare. Too many cables and no place to put them all.

    Hrmph, already ordered the TX650 but would hate to have that be what makes the case choice for me. If I do get one of the Minis, I guess I'll either have to get crafty with the cables or see what kind of restocking fee newegg would charge on the return. Could you recommend a better PSU option if that's what I end up doing?
  26. If you were trying to be minimal and keep it all neat, a smaller and modular unit...

    Seasonic M12II 520

    There is also the HIVE 550W
    and the OCZ MXS 600W

    But those two are a step down in quality and not that much cheaper.
  27. TX650 is fine. Good quality, and plenty of power.

    I like the looks of the looks of the NZXT210, particularly the white.

    You will have no problem with cable management. Just tuck any unused leads inside one of the drive bays.
  28. It's the Fractal Arc Mini that is too small for the PSU. Not a problem with the larger cases.
  29. Thanks so much, all, especially Proximon and geofelt. After a trip to view some cases in person, here's the spec list I ended up going with (prices incl. tax or shipping where applicable, shown before / after mail-in rebates):

    Case: Fractal Design Define Mini — $106 (Micro Center)
    CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K — $191 (Micro Center)
    Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68MA-D2H-B3 micro ATX — $128 / $118 (Micro Center)
    GPU: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870 — $160 / $150 (newegg)
    PSU: PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular — $90 / $70 (Micro Center)
    RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 —$34 (newegg)
    SSD: Samsung 830 Series MZ-7PC128D/AM 2.5" 128GB — $170 (newegg)
    OS: Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 — $100 (newegg)
    Monitor: ASUS PA238Q — $200 (neighbor!)

    Total: $1180 / $1140

    As you can see, I ended up getting a modular power supply after all and will be sending back my T650. I've come to look at any restock fees I may incur in this process as "Cost of Learning"/"stop impulse shopping at 3AM" fees... Anyway, the new PSU is a snazzy white model and should make life a little easier when it comes time to cable things. Now, as I wait for my newegg items to arrive, I've started to wonder about tweaking the cooling for my case. Since it seemed like a more specialized question, I posted it over in the Heatsinks & Air Cooling forum, here; but if anyone has any insights to share, I'd love to see you over there!

    Thank you all again for taking the time to help a noob out!
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