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$700-800 HTPC gaming rig

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April 13, 2012 1:39:41 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: flexible, although I'd like to get within 3-5 weeks

Budget Range: $600-800

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, HTPC media stuff, web surfing, streaming media, maybe a hackintosh???

Parts Not Required: Hard Drive, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: HTPC case

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 (42 inch Sony Bravia)

Additional Comments: I've built gaming PCs in the past, but this time I want something a little more grown up. Clean design on the case is important, and ideally I'd like something that can fit into a 7"x20"x17" (HxWxD) shelf. I like what I've read about the i5 2500k processor (highly recommended by rockpapershotgun) and the Radeon 6850. I just want to make sure that I'm good with everything fitting, not overheating but also not being annoyingly loud. I've been looking at some Silverstone and Lian Li cases, ideally I'd like to keep the case cost around or below $150.

Parts I'm looking at now:
Intel Core i5-2500 Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 1155 95W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2000 BX80623I52500

SAPPHIRE 100315L Radeon HD 6850 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity

ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS

SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel Lascala Series LC13B-E ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

thanks!
April 13, 2012 1:52:05 PM

if you want to overclock or maybe on it go with i5 2500K (the one with K allows you to overclock it crazy)

sapphire 6850 is not so bad, get everything else and all is good

asrock extreme3 gen 3 is a good mobo
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April 13, 2012 2:17:47 PM

Cool. You think everything will fit in that case and stay cool no problem? I meant to link to the 2500k, that seems to be the one everyone is raving about. Is overclocking it easy?
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 3:17:40 PM

I want to point out one thing. If you want to i5 2500k for overclock than i like to say don't do that. If you OC your i5 that thing run hot. Because the case's dimension is 430mm(w), 171.5mm (H), 439.6mm (D), so you need add the aftermarket cup cooler like the 120mm one (hyper 212 or hyper 212EVO). When you compare the high between them, the different is only 12.5mm (159mm for hyper EVO). i will say it (cup cooler) don't fit in the case.

If you don't oc your i5 than it is OK.
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 3:35:53 PM

pretty useless to get a 2500, when you could get an i3-2120 with a 6870, it's more optimized for gaming. If you must get an i5, get the 2400. And don't add any overclocking to your system please, it may overheat
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April 13, 2012 4:17:17 PM

So, if I go with this mobo:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813157271

How much of a boost would I be getting from the 6870 vs the 6850?
On a related note, CPU wise 2400 vs 2500? I do want to go with an i5 processor and I probably won't overclock, but if I was gonna upgrade anything in the future it would probably be the graphics card.

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April 13, 2012 4:33:31 PM



I think the 6870 you picked is a good card.

I love the case. I was thinking about using the same one for a HTPC build.

I didn't see the 2nd MB you linked but the ASUS you started out with is pretty good. You could also consider this: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $121.99

You need memory and a HDD as well. Are you going to need a lot of storage?

G.SKILL Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-1600C9D-8GAB $44.99

Maybe an SSD to keep it nice and quiet?

Crucial M4 CT128M4SSD2CCA 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) with Transfer Kit
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April 13, 2012 4:48:40 PM

So right now it's looking like these parts are definitely in:

SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 PCIE Graphics Card
ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel Lascala Series LC13B-E ATX Media Center / HTPC Case

I've got a 2 TB SATA drive that I will be sticking in there from my old pc. After hearing peoples responses here I am debating between a 2400 and a 2500 for the processor. It seems like the 2500k is only worth getting if you plan on overclocking (which I don't really). Any thoughts on a good CPU would be appreciated.

As for RAM, I really don't have any preference or knowledge in this category. I would like to start out with at least 8 GB (maybe 2 sticks of 8 for 16) and have the option to upgrade. As long as the RAM is identical I can use all 4 slots on the mobo, right? So, would it be a good idea to start with a pair of 8 GB sticks and then maybe just upgrade later if I wanted to?
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April 13, 2012 4:50:05 PM

Also, I read something about some sort of ssd performance boost or something you can get with intel processors (maybe just the 2500). What is the deal with that? Is it worth it for gaming (that's probably the most intense thing this machine will be doing).
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 5:03:08 PM

Just to answer you early question regarding the 2400 vs 2500, there's basically no difference in games so that's why I'd sugest you get the cheaper 2400.

As I've mentioned before you need a higher end gpu rather than cpu. For gaming, you just need a decent cpu that can cooperate with the gpu. That 6870 is a good card. Go for it.

The ssd boost you're talking is maybe intel SRT(only available on z68 and z77 for now) where you use an ssd to cache a hard drive so that the more frequently used programs and applications on the harddrive will load faster. If you're going to be doing that, get a 60GB and smaller ssd since you'll just be using it as a cache, no need to spend more money on a 100GB+ ssd. But, if you're installing your os on an ssd, get 120GB and more. Crucial M4 is the one I'd recommend
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April 13, 2012 5:20:50 PM

OK. So, I'm thinking now that my parts list looks like this:

SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 PCIE Graphics Card
i5 2400 CPU
SILVERSTONE Black Aluminum / Steel Lascala Series LC13B-E ATX Media Center / HTPC Case
MOBO and RAM combo

Does this RAM look OK? I think to start I will just use my old 2 TB drive because that has my win7 installation on it and steam etc. Any recommendations for wireless mice/keyboards that would be good for gaming but don't look like some sort of bizarre Fast and Furious fantasy? Any other thoughts on the system? Thanks for all your help so far, looks like the 2400 will be fine for games...
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 5:54:50 PM

Personally, I wouldn't go for asrock boards because of past issues and most reviews I've read on their boards always have certain issues. I'd rather go with gigabyte, asus or msi. Although, if you're not going to use intel srt, no overclock, no sli or crossfire, an H67 is good enough for you. If you still want a z68 platform, I'd recommend gigabyte z68 ud3. There are many variations of it so just pick the one with the features and price you want.
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April 13, 2012 5:57:12 PM

What difference does the RAM timing make? Any thoughts on wireless keyboards and mice that are good and could work from a desk (with my 21 inch monitor) and from a couch (with the TV)?
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April 13, 2012 6:21:39 PM

EzioAs said:
Personally, I wouldn't go for asrock boards because of past issues and most reviews I've read on their boards always have certain issues. I'd rather go with gigabyte, asus or msi. Although, if you're not going to use intel srt, no overclock, no sli or crossfire, an H67 is good enough for you. If you still want a z68 platform, I'd recommend gigabyte z68 ud3. There are many variations of it so just pick the one with the features and price you want.


do you have a board you'd recommend? It looks like most of the asus one's I'm seeing on newegg are mini ATX boards which generally sort of scares me off....
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 6:45:13 PM

That is a great board! ASRock is now redeeming itself. It is about to take the #2 spot away from GIGABYTE in sales. Also, don't pay much attention to newegg reviews. Most are just babies that complain when one part is defective, without thinking it could be a transportation accidental mishap.
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April 13, 2012 6:52:27 PM

What about the ASRock Pro3 instead of the Extreme3 board? I'm not planning on SLI or anything like that and it seems like a decent (and cheaper) option...
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April 13, 2012 8:15:35 PM

jsduffy said:
What about the ASRock Pro3 instead of the Extreme3 board? I'm not planning on SLI or anything like that and it seems like a decent (and cheaper) option...

The ASRock Pro3 is also a great board - it's got fewer PCI slots (you don't plan on using them), it lacks the extreme3's eSATA port (probably won't need), 2 fewer internal USB2.0 ports (leaving 6, which should still be plenty), and is an inch shorter than the extreme3.

There's a few mATX H77 boards out now that are a little cheaper than the Pro3 Gen3, but there's no Newegg reviews on them (haven't checked for any other reviews), and you seem to have an aversion to mATX. Besides, a Z68 board will do you just fine for a while.

You seem pretty set on getting an i5, so the 2400 is your best bet here. The 2300 isn't worth the $10 you'd save off the 2400.

Also, I have a few open questions regarding the RAM suggestions: Is it really a good idea to have modules with tall heatsinks like the GEIL suggested when he's working with limited space? Also, does low-voltage memory run cooler, and if it does would it be worth it for him to look into that?
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 8:18:48 PM


Snag a XFX Double D Radeon HD 6950 2GB for $260 before $30 rebate. You can remove the center drive bay in your case, and might be able in install a fan without too much trouble.

They've come quite a ways with that case. It was a mess when it first came out. It's huge. I hope they fixed the damn button.

Snag a PhII 965 and either one of these Asus or Gigabyte 990X motherboards. Each has 2 x eSATA - with the port multiplier you can run 2 external enclosures for your multimedia library.


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April 13, 2012 8:44:33 PM

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($116.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H61MA-D3V Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($76.97 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti - 448 Cores 1.25GB Video Card ($239.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Silverstone GD06B HTPC Case ($122.00 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling 500W ATX12V Power Supply ($55.98 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($56.23 @ Amazon)
Total: $798.14
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-13 16:48 EDT-0400)
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April 13, 2012 9:10:18 PM

Wisecracker said:
Snag a XFX Double D Radeon HD 6950 2GB for $260 before $30 rebate. You can remove the center drive bay in your case, and might be able in install a fan without too much trouble.

They've come quite a ways with that case. It was a mess when it first came out. It's huge. I hope they fixed the damn button.

Snag a PhII 965 and either one of these Asus or Gigabyte 990X motherboards. Each has 2 x eSATA - with the port multiplier you can run 2 external enclosures for your multimedia library.


I think the 6950 is a bit out of my budget. I've got to remember that I have other components to get here too...
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April 13, 2012 10:36:31 PM

Quote:
Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($158.39 @ Amazon)
Case: Silverstone LC13B-E HTPC Case ($111.52 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 500W ATX12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($56.23 @ Amazon)
Total: $661.10
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-13 18:21 EDT-0400)


Modified UVB076's list to be a little more like what you were looking at - keep in mind I know nothing of optical drives, so I left his suggestion as-is. As for the price of the i5-2400, the $150 is ONLY for in-store pickup at a Micro Center, so if you've one near you, brilliant! You can save $40. Elsewise, this build will total to $701.

More notes: I excluded the monitor, keyboard, and mouse; you said you'd built PCs in the past, so I'm not sure if you've already got the peripherals you need (you didn't list them as unnecessary, so I left so wiggle room in that budget). Also, you may look into getting some more fans for the case; if what I read is correct, it should come with just 2 80mm exhaust fans, but can support up to 4. It seems like it'll be pretty roomy, but if you end up putting more storage, RAM, or other components, it may warrant some more airflow. Take that with a grain of salt, though; especially since that would make it louder.
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Best solution

April 13, 2012 10:51:19 PM

mousseng said:
Quote:
Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($158.39 @ Amazon)
Case: Silverstone LC13B-E HTPC Case ($111.52 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 500W ATX12V Power Supply ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus BC-12B1ST/BLK/B/AS Blu-Ray Reader, DVD/CD Writer ($56.23 @ Amazon)
Total: $661.10
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-13 18:21 EDT-0400)


Modified UVB076's list to be a little more like what you were looking at - keep in mind I know nothing of optical drives, so I left his suggestion as-is. As for the price of the i5-2400, the $150 is ONLY for in-store pickup at a Micro Center, so if you've one near you, brilliant! You can save $40. Elsewise, this build will total to $701.

More notes: I excluded the monitor, keyboard, and mouse; you said you'd built PCs in the past, so I'm not sure if you've already got the peripherals you need (you didn't list them as unnecessary, so I left so wiggle room in that budget). Also, you may look into getting some more fans for the case; if what I read is correct, it should come with just 2 80mm exhaust fans, but can support up to 4. It seems like it'll be pretty roomy, but if you end up putting more storage, RAM, or other components, it may warrant some more airflow. Take that with a grain of salt, though; especially since that would make it louder.


What is the point of Z68 on a non-OC-able CPU?
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April 13, 2012 11:02:29 PM

Quote:
What is the point of Z68 on a non-OC-able CPU?

The point is the H61 chipset doesn't support the DDR3-1600 memory, and that the Pro3 Gen3 P67 board (which is only $5 cheaper than the Z68) lacks HDMI and D-sub rear ports (like most, if not all, other P67 boards), which I figured might be a bit important for an HTPC. Does he need them? I dunno, but for $5, why not?
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a b 4 Gaming
April 13, 2012 11:04:34 PM


jsduffy said:
I think the 6950 is a bit out of my budget. I've got to remember that I have other components to get here too...


The PhII 965BE, Gigabyte/Asus motherboard and HD6950 2GB costs less than your HD6850, CPU and mobo.

And 2x4GB of RAMs should be great if you want to save even more money.


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April 13, 2012 11:15:17 PM

mousseng said:
Quote:
What is the point of Z68 on a non-OC-able CPU?

The point is the H61 chipset doesn't support the DDR3-1600 memory, and that the Pro3 Gen3 P67 board (which is only $5 cheaper than the Z68) lacks HDMI and D-sub rear ports (like most, if not all, other P67 boards), which I figured might be a bit important for an HTPC. Does he need them? I dunno, but for $5, why not?

Seems reasonable.
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April 14, 2012 3:33:19 PM

Thanks guys! This is all awesome, I think mousseng's list is the frontrunner right now. The only two things I am wondering about are this option of going with the PhII 965BE and the 6950 vs the 2400 and what I should be considering for a nice wireless mouse/keyboard combo (I am all set for a monitor and other peripherals).

I don't live near a micro center, but my brother goes to school in Cambridge so he could snag one for me. Nice find!
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April 15, 2012 1:41:48 AM

Quote:
The only two things I am wondering about are this option of going with the PhII 965BE and the 6950 vs the 2400 and what I should be considering for a nice wireless mouse/keyboard combo (I am all set for a monitor and other peripherals).

As far as mice and keyboards are concerned, I can really only point you towards Razer and Logitech - two reputable peripheral brands. I don't know that Razer makes many wireless products, but Logitech does.


Quote:
The PhII 965BE, Gigabyte/Asus motherboard and HD6950 2GB costs less than your HD6850, CPU and mobo.

PhII965/6950/M5A99X totals to 120 + 230 + 140 = $490
i5-2400/6870/Pro3Gen3 totals to 185 + 105 + 160 = $450, or $410 if he gets the MicroCenter discount.
Not to mention the 6950 runs hotter and draws a bit more power compared to the 6870 (source). He did mention heat as being a concern, so while it would be a better gaming card, I don't know that that would be a trade-off he'd want to make. His call though.
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April 25, 2012 1:59:36 AM

Best answer selected by jsduffy.
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