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need help w/ My First Build (<$600 Gaming PC)

Last response: in Systems
April 10, 2012 1:27:33 PM


Looking for a PC that is able to play current games, even if at the lower end of quality options, with the ability to upgrade in the future to better performance. Initially it will be used to play older games (Unreal Tournament 99, StarCraft 1, Age of Mythology: Titans) and will move to try newer games like Crysis 1, StarCraft II, and Shogun 2.

Budget Range: $500-600 Before Rebates
Overclocking and SLI/Crossfire: No (maybe in the future)
Parts Not Required: keyboard, mouse, speakers
Monitor Resolution: open to suggestions. any help here would be very much appreciated
Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
Country: USA


Here's what I've been able to piece together from Tom's Hardware and Hardware Revolution.

GPU: ASUS EAH6850 Radeon HD 6850 1GB $150
CPU: Intel Pentium G630 $80
MoBo: MSI H67A-G43 (B3) LGA 1155 Intel H67 ATX $90
RAM: G.SKILL 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 1333 1066 $42
OD: LITE-ON DVD Burner - 24X DVD Black SATA $18
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache $100
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 2 x 120mm case fans $60
PSU: Silverstone 500W 80PLUS $60
Monitor: Acer S201HLbd Black 20" 5ms LED 1600x900 $100
WiFi Adpater: TP-LINK TL-WDN4800 Wireless N Dual Band Adapter $45
Total: $600 ($745 with monitor and adapter) Before shipping, taxes, and rebates. Not including OS


Barring anything unforeseeable, I'm fairly certain this is the final build I will be going with. And I'm submitting it for your approval.

So, I'm asking how future proof this system would be; both as-is and the potential for upgrading.

More about : build 600 gaming

April 10, 2012 1:43:20 PM

Your CPU won't bottleneck the GPU at all. A G860 would be balanced with a 560 ti or a 6950, so you're good to go. The 2400 is overkill. You could even drop down to a G630, that would be more balanced with the card you selected.
April 10, 2012 3:16:53 PM

Agreed on the CPU. I'd go with an i3 2120 or the Pentium G860 to save a few bucks. While the Pentiums are often looked down on even the base model G620 is as good or nearly as good as the best Core 2 Duo chips made just a few short years ago and plenty of those are still out there working great with some of the fastest GPU's on the market.

You might also consider an H67 motherboard which will add SATA 3 ports instead of SATA 2 ports, USB 3.0, and more PCIe slots for the same net price.
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April 10, 2012 3:46:39 PM

Thanks so much for the G630 suggestion, quilciri! Perfect. Very nearly the same performance (as the G860) but cheaper.

87ninefiveone, the mobo I listed has 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x SATA3 (details tab, near bottom, under features). The differences I see between the one I have listed and the one you listed is your's gains and extra PCIe x16 slot and an extra PCI slot, and costs $25 more (before MIR). Is that about right and is that worth while?
April 10, 2012 8:01:32 PM

Still looking for more input/suggestions.
April 10, 2012 8:10:50 PM

If you plan on SLI/CF in the future, which you said you did, get his board.
April 11, 2012 12:20:23 PM

Oh, thank you so much 87ninefiveone and azeem40. For some reason I was under the impression that the PCIe express slots had to be just about touching in order to use Crossfire/SLI. So I learned something, thanks!

Right now though price is starting to be a concern and Crossfire/SLI support was more of an option I wouldn't mind having if I did decide to tinker with it in the future and not a "must-have".

Anyone want to give a ruling on the build how it is right now?
April 11, 2012 2:14:00 PM

For what it's worth, I'm reasonably sure that SLI/Crossfire isn't supported on any H61 or H67 chipset motherboards. You have to go with P67, Z68, or Z77 to get support for that.

I would also double check the SATA III support thing. H61 chipsets don’t technically support SATA III which means if your model does it’s through an aftermarket controller which is eating up PCIe lanes.

I would also caution against getting Acer LCD monitors. We’ve got them at work and frankly the quality is pretty iffy. Viewing angles are very poor and color saturation sucks. Make sure you read the reviews on your particular model. Asus makes much better equipment for only a little more.

In regards to PCIe slot spacing, generally most high end GPU's are 2 slots tall. So, ideally you'd like to see a minimum of two slots between the primary and secondary PCIe x16 slots (i.e. slot 1 is PCIe x16 and slot 4 is PCIe x16). That leaves an empty space between the cards which helps maximize cooling.
April 11, 2012 3:09:57 PM

So many questions about this post. You obviously know much more than I do.

I had very incorrectly assumed if you had two PCIe x16 slots near enough so that the cards could join, that was all you needed. Now I know they don't physically join together thanks to you and azeem40. And now I know that the motherboard has to support crossfire/sli, thank you.

I don't understand what you mean by "if your model does [support SATA III] it’s through an aftermarket controller which is eating up PCIe lanes." I did read, just before I saw your post, H61 doesn't have SATA III like you said (but H67 does).

So I'm confused because my board clearly says that it does (despite being H61) and when I check the pictures on Newegg I don't see anything plugged into any of the PCIe slots (admittedly I barely know what I'm looking at).

Hopefully since the Acer LCD I picked has 5 out of 5 review average with 262 reviews on Newegg, I'll have a better experience with Acer. Hopefully.

About most high end GPU's being 2 slots tall: Do you mean they actually block an adjacent slot or that they plug into two slots (I'm very new to all this)? If I understand you correctly, using your example (i.e. slot 1 is PCIe x16 and slot 4 is PCIe x16), the card in slot 4 would hang over slot 3, slot 2 would be open for breathing room between cards, and the card in slot 1 would hang over where slot 0 would be if such a thing existed?

April 11, 2012 4:06:51 PM

Okay, I really need help now.

I haven't gotten any comments on compatibility so I decided to run around the web to see if I could find a compatibility checker. Lo and behold, one exists (GooeyPC). But it's kicking out my GPU because my "Motherboard does not support PCIEx16/2.1".

Is this true? Do I need a new motherboard? Do I need to find one with PCIe 3.0 (I can't seem to find any that say anything other than PCIe 2.0 or 3.0)?

It also says that my power usage during Idle/Peak will be 269W/585W(estimated) which is much higher than I thought it would be. Any comments on how accurate that peak estimate is? Should I upgrade my power supply?

Best solution

April 11, 2012 4:51:00 PM

Sorry for the delay. I'm at work. Technically not supposed to be on here...(oh well).

To answer your questions...

The SATA III support won't physically block any PCIe lanes. It's an electrical arrangement and basically just means that it would be using a third party chip (typically one made by Marvel) to control a SATA III hard drive via some of the PCIe sub systems bandwidth. Not confusing at all right?

Cards in SLI are don't physically touch each other. They do however require what's known as an SLI or Crossfire bridge which is a connector that runs between them, if you look on the side of the card opposite the PCI connection there will be a small 3/4" finger with electrical contacts, the SLI/Crossfire bridge will conect there. These bridges can be purchases in different lengths, but are typically meant to span 3-4 PCIe slot lengths so there's usually no isse there.

Most any GPU that can be SLI or Crossfired will take up two slots. It will only physically contact the motherboard with one slot, but the cooler typically overhangs the next slot down. So, for instance. If you had a two slot card in slot 1 (closest to the CPU), it would likely overhang slot two and make it useless. Then slot 3 would be let empty if possible for better airflow, and slot 4 would have the second card which would overhang slot 5 making it useless. This means that any other cards you have had better fit into slot 3 (not advisable), or slot six or seven on an ATX board.

Bonus aside, chip sets have a limited number of PCIe lanes (or bandwidth), with one card installed in the primary slot the bandwidth will typically be PCIe x16, and the secondary slot will be x0. With two cards installed they both become x8 speed.

PCI 1.0, 2.0, 2.1, and 3.0 are forward and backwards compatable. Any PCIe card no matter what version will work in any PCIe slot no matter what version it is. However, the slot does become the limiting factor in bandwidth. This is almost never an issue though as even the newest cards are incapable of coming any where near saturating the bandwidth of a PCIe 2.0 slot. In short don't worry about PCIe 2.0 vs. 3.0, it simply doesn't matter.

If your monitor got good reviews I wouldn't worry about it. I usually ignore the 1 star reviews are they're one off issues, and read the 2 and 3 star reviews to get to the actual opperational complaints on products. If those don't look too bad I usually dont' worry about it.
April 11, 2012 5:55:35 PM

WOW, that is more solid content about PCIe and xFire/SLI than all the stuff I've read over the past couple of weeks. Very informative.

I've upgraded my mobo but I think I've may have gone too far. I don't necessarily need SATA III or even USB 3.0 but I would like at least 6 USB ports, in total. Any suggestions?

Edit: Oh, and I'd prefer ATX, not micro-ATX.
April 11, 2012 6:33:53 PM

If you don't mind spending the extra money then that's a fine choice for a MB. It will give you the option of overclocking in the future if you upgrade your CPU. Plus I don't think you can even get an ATX board in H61 or H67, so you pretty much have to move up to P67 (or Z68/Z77 which are even pricier).

Also, if you're not opposed to open box buys on newegg then check out this Asus board for $10 less.
April 12, 2012 6:51:58 PM

Updated Original Post. Looking for final comments.
April 13, 2012 12:04:29 AM

I still think H67 is the way to go, but you can't argue with $55 for a MB Plus you're already over your intended buget by quite a bit, so...

You might also consider this Asus wireless PCIe card. It's a dual band N card for only $28 and should suit your purposes for gaming and general internet use.
April 13, 2012 1:42:40 AM

@87ninefiveone You win. (And I do too.) The money I'll save by switching to your adapter I'll turn around and use it to fund your recommended mobo too.

Also, the budget didn't include the monitor and adapter so actually, I'm just reaching my ceiling now.

So thanks for the RAID 0/1/5/10 and CrossFire capable motherboard and what looks to be a pretty cool little WiFi adapter (PCIe, 450 Mbs, 5 Ghz).
April 13, 2012 2:21:24 AM

If I were you I'd go with a 550 watt PSU... Jus saying :D 
April 14, 2012 4:04:13 PM

Quick question. Thinking of switching to this case which has a notice saying "Please make sure your motherboard equipped with on-board USB 3.0 socket before purchasing." I see that my mobo has USB 3.0 but I'm unsure about a USB 3.0 socket.

Is a socket different than a port? Is it for the "internal 20-pin connector to MB" also mentioned in the detail tab for the case?

If you look at the third image for the mobo on Newegg and follow the red line pointing to the "CPU socket: LGA 1155" it crosses something that may be labelled "USB 3.0" between the two squares marked L1R1 and to the right of the two squares marked R50... is this what is needed?

What does it mean exactly and why does the case need it?
April 14, 2012 4:12:19 PM

Sockets are indeed different than ports. For example, a USB might be found on the case itself. This port is then connected via an internal case wire to the motherboard via a USB socket (also called the internal 20-pin connector). So, what the case wants you to make sure of is that your motherboard has a USB 3.0 socket/connector. The motherboard you're getting does not have this. Typically you won't get an internal USB 3.0 socket without spending $150+ though.

All this means is that the front panel USB 3.0 port won't work since there's no where to hook it up. The USB 2.0 ports will work fine since there's plenty of connectors for those.
April 14, 2012 4:14:08 PM

BuBzXXL said:
If I were you I'd go with a 550 watt PSU... Jus saying :D 

Why? What good will 50 extra watts that will never be used do? He's going H67 so there won't be any overclocking, and the GPU/CPU combo will never even hit 400W nevermind 500W.
April 14, 2012 4:58:50 PM

@87ninefiveone You sir, have been a godsend. So because of my mobo I'll lose out on exactly one USB 3.0 port on the front of my case? But the two USB 2.0 ports will work? I can definitely live with that considering that I'll have the two USB 3.0 ports in the rear that are on the mobo.

Final question before switching, what about the headphone and microphone jacks in the front of the case? Can I hook those up probably with the mobo I've selected?

Edit: Ah, screw it. I'll keep the original case. I wanted the other one for the additional pre-installed fans but it looks like there are fewer options for upgrades and expandability. Also there are some reports on Newegg about the case shipping with missing cables that are supposed to be included.
April 14, 2012 8:21:57 PM

Probably too late, but...

Yes to the first bit. The 3.0 on the case wouldn't work, but the 2.0 ports will be fine. Same for the front panel audio, connectors for those are standard on 99% of motherboards.

Good luck with the build. Post up some pics when you finish.
April 21, 2012 5:57:16 PM

Best answer selected by myth1485.