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$800 Best Gaming Build (Review/Resource)

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May 4, 2012 12:22:27 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within two weeks.

Budget Range: $700-$900 BEFORE rebates (over if needed, but it isn't needed)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (BF3, CoD, Skyrim, etc.), Video Editing (not too much... 8GB should be enough), Game Programming (2D for now), C++ Programming, Surfing, watching video.

Parts Not Required: HDD (Have an external), SSD, Monitor, Keyboard, Mouse, speakers/headset

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: None at all. Microcenter is okay!

Country: I'm in the US. I'd prefer non-China made parts.. Japanese capacitors for the win!

Parts Preferences: Almost none. I would prefer an Nvidia GPU, but the new ones (especially the 660Ti) aren't getting released any time soon.

Overclocking: Yes... both CPU and GPU (although GPU only while gaming, CPU while gaming and doing intensive tasks)

SLI or Crossfire: Probably never. I don't like multi-card setups.

Monitor Resolution: Currently 1680x1050, will upgrade to 1080p in the future.

Additional Comments: QUIET! No bling needed, no LEDs (or at least I have to be able to switch them off).


I've been posting a lot, so this isn't as much of a question as a resource and me asking for feedback. Here is the build I have planned:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.90 @ NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($249.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Define R3 Black Pearl ATX Mid Tower Case ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: PC Power & Cooling 600W ATX12V Power Supply ($66.44 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $524.29
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-05-03 20:17 EDT-0400)


CPU and Motherboard will be the i5-2500k and the ASRock Extreme4 Z77 respectively, from Microcenter, at $180 for the CPU and $75 for the mobo.

Total (of everything) is: $780

So... I can probably stretch this a little farther. Would you recommend getting a 7870? I'd really rather go with Nvidia because of physX and a few increases with cores (this helps for C++ programming), but something like the 560 Ti won't really cut it. I'd get the 660Ti, but it might not come out for a long time. Would the 670 be within my budget?

Thanks! Hope I helped the people that need an $800 gaming build (drop the CD/DVD, change the case to a HAF 912, and get an HDD to make it an actual $800 build... or go for a Corsair 400R. I need the CD/DVD and the case I have, so mine's a little different), and please give some feedback on this build, and what I can do with a little extra money!

I did forget to add one thing. I will be overclocking my GPU... and the 7850 has reached very high overclocks (40%) compared to the rather modest 560 Ti (23%). That is definitely a factor.
May 4, 2012 12:44:36 AM

I know... I wasn't asking for advice as much as kind of round-about asking about people's estimations on when the next-gen Nvidia GPUs are due out (I believe most are due May 10th).

I forgot to include that part about OCing. I'm definitely going to OC a lot.

The case has to be Fractal to cut down on noise (Fractal R3, to be specific).
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May 4, 2012 12:44:44 AM

Or maybe a H2 or P280 is noise really matters to you.
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May 4, 2012 12:52:12 AM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI Z68A-G45 (B3) ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($117.49 @ CompUSA)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($42.99 @ NCIX US)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($227.55 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec One ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: OCZ 600W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($48.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Total: $764.97
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-05-03 20:52 EDT-0400)
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May 4, 2012 1:11:09 AM

How exactly is that build better/different than mine?
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May 5, 2012 12:21:32 AM

It is not. Why do you care so much about noise?
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May 5, 2012 12:36:18 AM

I need it quiet. I live with other people who do NOT want to hear a computer. I also need to be able to hear quiet noises while I'm using the computer.
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May 5, 2012 12:39:30 AM

I think you have your build. If it were me I would focus on a beefier gpu and cut back on case and mobo. But for your uses this looks great.
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May 5, 2012 12:56:32 AM

How could I go lower than $75 for a Z68/Z77 mobo? Also, I wouldn't go lower than $100 for the case (Corsair 400R).

Anyway, even if I shaved $40 off of the case and $20 off of the mobo, I wouldn't have enough for a meaningful GPU upgrade.
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May 5, 2012 1:29:42 AM

Microcenter has a deal where you get $50 off a z77 with an I5-3750k.
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May 5, 2012 2:21:48 AM

Or with an i5-2500k.

That's what I was referring to, anyway.
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May 8, 2012 2:06:19 AM

But if you are planning to upgrade in the future, the i5-3750k would be the better option at micro-center for only about $189.99. It's usually $250.00. The reason why is that it supports PCI 3.0 and runs on less energy which means lower energy bills and slightly lower heat. Also with the stock CPU cooler that it comes with, you can overclock to 4.6 Ghz without custom clocking the voltage. So if you get the i5-3750k at micro center (it also has the $75 mobo combo deal), you can ditch the CPU cooler and spend that extra money on a Radeon HD 7870 card, for about an extra $80 in total cost. For the coolest and quietest HD 7870 I would go with the OC 2-fan Sapphire one. Its VERY nice for what is on the market right now. (also comes with a free DIRT 3 game)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...:

or the GIGABYTE GV-R787OC-2GD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with 3-fans for the same price and game: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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May 8, 2012 12:07:04 PM

BUT the i5-3570k has worse overclocking.

I'd go with an MSI, ASUS, Gigabyte, or Sapphire GPU. MSI is the quietest and has the best cooling.
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May 8, 2012 12:40:29 PM

Right now, the bottleneck in games is your graphics card. Even though the i5-3750k is worse at overclocking, it helps with the bottleneck.
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May 8, 2012 2:52:48 PM

How so? The 7850 doesn't utilize 3.0
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May 8, 2012 7:20:05 PM

ddan49 said:
How so? The 7850 doesn't utilize 3.0

ALL of the new GPUs (the HD 7xxx series and the GTX 6xx series) take advantage of PCI 3.0. Sure, most games currently don't fully integrate PCI 3.0 in their games yet, but they will soon enough (just like how most, if not all PC games don't support hyper threading yet). If your not planning on over clocking more than 4.6Ghz without a CPU cooler, with the CPU, then the i5-3750k would be the best option. It supports other things as well such as USB 3.0 Boost which makes USB 3.0 about 170% faster than it would be with the i5-2500k. Just my thoughts.
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May 8, 2012 7:32:36 PM

Actually PCI-E 3.0 is just for more bandwidth. The card is not actually capable of utilizing it fully. Nor can any card really utilize PCI-E 2.0 fully.
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May 8, 2012 7:59:41 PM

^That's what I meant.

It's not like GPUs completely utilize all that bandwidth... they have to have something to transmit over that bandwidth, too!
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May 8, 2012 8:24:17 PM

Right now few cards get over 5 gb/s but next gen cards will be able to easily. It makes little difference now, but soon it will.
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May 8, 2012 8:46:00 PM

Yeah... but by the time I upgrade my GPU, I'll also be upgrading my CPU
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May 8, 2012 8:51:01 PM

Then the I5-2500k probably makes more sense because it is a little cheaper.
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May 8, 2012 9:27:47 PM

adgjlsfhk said:
Then the I5-2500k probably makes more sense because it is a little cheaper.

Uses more power and is less powerful.
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May 9, 2012 12:25:30 AM

If you could wait another week or two for the GPU, I would suggest it. The reasoning behind this is because NVIDIA is set to release their GTX 670 (and maybe GTX 660) on May 10. Some of the 670s have leaked out. They have been benchmarked and are either slightly slower then the GTX 680(I mean like only 5% slower) or surpasses the GTX 680 in some cases(probably the new firmware it comes with) and it will cost only $350-400 in the USA.
Therefore, since the GTX 670 is significantly better than the HD 7970 which is about $480 AMD is going to significantly have to slash their prices to compete with NVIDIA. So you would probably be able to get a HD 7870 for $250 or the HD 7950 for $300 (maybe even less).
So, what do you think about it?
http://www.overclock.net/t/1253432/gigabyte-gtx-670-oc-...

http://m.tweaktown.com/articles/4710/nvidia_geforce_gtx...
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May 9, 2012 2:03:24 AM

I think most are forgetting that IB doesn't need to match up OCs to get the same performance. For example 4.2 GHz on IB is about equal to 4.5 GHz on IB.
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May 9, 2012 12:15:35 PM

4.2 on IB is equal to 4.5 on SB? Are you sure?

UVB: That isn't true. It's not less powerful. Only the TDP and IGP have been upgraded. It also runs very hot.

I don't think that the 670 getting released will drop the 7870 to the price of the 7850... then the 7850 would need to drop, and that's pointless because there's nothing competing with it.
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May 9, 2012 8:24:18 PM

ddan49 said:
4.2 on IB is equal to 4.5 on SB? Are you sure?

UVB: That isn't true. It's not less powerful. Only the TDP and IGP have been upgraded. It also runs very hot.

I don't think that the 670 getting released will drop the 7870 to the price of the 7850... then the 7850 would need to drop, and that's pointless because there's nothing competing with it.


Look at this. If NVIDIA is going to be selling their GTX 670 card at $380-$400, that matches the HD 7970, which prices at $480, then they're going to have to lower the price of the HD 7970 to at least $400(to stay competitive because the GTX has better cooling, shorter, quieter, and more energy efficient). That means that they have to lower he prices of the HD 7950 from $400 to something much lower, and then the same to the HD 7870, and again probably with the HD 7850. The cuts in pricing will most likely decrease as you go toward the lower end cards, but I assure you hat AMD will have to lower their prices.
Proof of the GTX prices is in Australia, where it is selling for a total (in translation of their currency) to $420 US dollars. But they, like most other countries have large taxes, extra shipment fees, etc. So really, if my math is correct, should come out to about $400. So, yes, AMD will be lowering their prices very soon in order to stay competitive.

For te CPU clock comparisons, that's about right. The Ivy Bridge CPUs are about 10% quicker than Sandy Bridge, so for example, a i5-2500k at 4.0Ghz should run as fast as a i5-3750k at 3.6 Ghz, so this is something you should consider, since your talkin about over clocking. And remember, the i5-3750k can still over lock to 4.6Ghz without any custom cooling, which should come in comparison to a i5-2500k running at 5.25Ghz. For overclocking, I would go with the i5-3750k.
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May 9, 2012 8:49:45 PM

Well from what I know, AMD and NVIDIA never really make cards that are equal, but their cards fill the gap made by the other company. Like a 6870 is better than a 560, but worse than a 560 Ti, and so forth.
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May 9, 2012 9:27:21 PM

Yeah. I really don't think prices on the 78xx series are going to drop more than $20. They really don't compete all that much. I mean, did you really see anything drop when the 680 was introduced? More than $50? The 660Ti is going to be more expensive anyway, so AMD dropping would make a lower price go even lower.
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May 9, 2012 11:16:36 PM

Part of the reason 78xx prices have not dropped is that gtx 6xx's are very hard to find.
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May 9, 2012 11:24:01 PM

ddan49 said:
Yeah. I really don't think prices on the 78xx series are going to drop more than $20. They really don't compete all that much. I mean, did you really see anything drop when the 680 was introduced? More than $50? The 660Ti is going to be more expensive anyway, so AMD dropping would make a lower price go even lower.


I just wrote a whole 4 paragraphs explaining and elaborating that AMD did have a price drop of their HD 7970 and 7950 in acordance to the GTX 680, how it was a total of $169.99 in price cut (including the bonus) for the HD 7970 an a total $149.99 price cut on the HD 7950. But of course my iPhone refreshes the page almost every time I switch to another tab, so it all got erased. Here's something to look up:
http://www.overclock.net/t/1243959/hwc-amd-confirms-pri...

http://www.hardwarecanucks.com/news/video/amd-confirms-...

And by the way, this was MAJOR news a couple of weeks ago. Surely if you looked up some of this information up Online you would of known by now.

So yes, AMD is going to be in trouble AGAIN if they don't drop their prices in relation to the GTX 670. TigerDirect in the US already started to let buyers pre-order the GTX 670 for only $410, non-reference, although now they aren't anymore. And by these tests:

http://www.overclock.net/t/1253432/gigabyte-gtx-670-oc-...

http://m.tweaktown.com/articles/4710/nvidia_geforce_gtx...

AMD is just bathing in NVIDIA's S@*T if they don't lower prices.

(sorry, I think that came out a little too harsh I don't usually do that :karla:
Just that writing almost a perfect 4 paragraphs of information to just have it be refreshed into oblivion really puts me down.)
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May 9, 2012 11:31:14 PM

Yeah... of COURSE they lowered the prices on the 79xx series (it was on tomshardware like two weeks ago, as you said). But that's because the 78xx series came out... However, it was also due in part to the Nvidia 680 coming out, so you're right there.

However, I'm definitely looking for Nvidia to lower their prices. Since the 660 Ti isn't coming out 'till later, maybe they'll try to make the 670 a little more affordable. 'Cause all in all, I would prefer an Nvidia card.

I just find it hard to believe that a 7850 would drop to $200... about the price of a 6870 (until recently).
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May 10, 2012 12:11:45 AM

Well I'm hoping on getting a non reference GTX 670 for $410. I was going to buy the gtx 680 as of a week ago, but that extra $120 could be used on getting a better display and keyboard/mouse combination for me. Anyways....

Along time ago(in terms of GPUs), NVIDIA used to be way ahead in performance than AMD. The only thing that AMD had was the efficiency of their chips, so it's definitely possible that's where it's headed, except this time NVIDIA also has the efficiency crown. Here's the story all About the gtx670/680/AMD/nvidia/etc:

http://vr-zone.com/articles/how-the-geforce-gtx-690-is-...
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May 10, 2012 12:47:45 AM

The thing is that Nvidia really is premium... it's not mid-range anymore. I'd prefer Nvidia (CUDA </3 ), but I'm going for a mid-range card. The 7850 barley qualifies as that at $250, anyway
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May 10, 2012 12:50:40 AM

Just wait another week before you buy your graphics card, that's all I'm saying, not that your saying something entirely different.
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May 10, 2012 1:06:48 AM

did you just say use an external for your HDD? just a usb? or performs just the same as the internal hdd ones?
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May 10, 2012 1:09:02 AM

Yeah, I completely agree carma143. Hopefully, May 10th will bring good tidings.

Kentthegamer, yes, I have a USB 2.0 (which was bought at a time when that was something to be proudly displayed with a peelable sticker) HDD that I can technically crack open and install inside my case. But I won't, cause the portableness of it is the point of having it. I don't open documents that often, anyway.
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May 10, 2012 1:24:00 AM

but is good for gaming ??
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May 10, 2012 1:41:15 AM

Oh, I have an SSD (256GB) already, as well (for OS and games). :) 

Hahahahaha, I'm trying to imagine gaming off of an external :lol: 
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May 10, 2012 3:07:33 AM

ddan49 said:
Oh, I have an SSD (256GB) already, as well (for OS and games). :) 

Hahahahaha, I'm trying to imagine gaming off of an external :lol: 


why? anything wrong playing through external?

and btw, whats an ssd?
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May 10, 2012 4:07:23 AM

kentthegamer said:
why? anything wrong playing through external?

and btw, whats an ssd?


Not just you, but for pretty much everyone on the Internet, I don't understand why people ask "what is a ..." or "will this be good enough" if they could easily just do a google search on them and get a definite answer in under a minute. Anyways....
Playing through an external using USB 2.0 has a bandwidth of 60mbytes/s and USB 3.0 has a bandwidth anywhere from 625mbytes/s to about 1000mbytes/s (depending on the motherboard). The best internal HDDs use SATA 3.0 which has a 750mbyte/second rate. But because HDDs are relatively slow, they only use really a max of about 130mbytes per second, and that's only with rare types of files. So unless your going to be getting an external SSD, using USB 3.0 or SATA 3.0 is equal in performance with HDD.

Now, you were asking what a SSD is? Well it's basically an HDD that doesn't hav any moving parts, is more durable, is much quicker, and costs a S@*T ton more in the price/gigabyte ratio compared to HDDs. Here's an article on SSDs:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive
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May 10, 2012 7:26:31 AM

Carma143 said:
Not just you, but for pretty much everyone on the Internet, I don't understand why people ask "what is a ..." or "will this be good enough" if they could easily just do a google search on them and get a definite answer in under a minute. Anyways....
Playing through an external using USB 2.0 has a bandwidth of 60mbytes/s and USB 3.0 has a bandwidth anywhere from 625mbytes/s to about 1000mbytes/s (depending on the motherboard). The best internal HDDs use SATA 3.0 which has a 750mbyte/second rate. But because HDDs are relatively slow, they only use really a max of about 130mbytes per second, and that's only with rare types of files. So unless your going to be getting an external SSD, using USB 3.0 or SATA 3.0 is equal in performance with HDD.

Now, you were asking what a SSD is? Well it's basically an HDD that doesn't hav any moving parts, is more durable, is much quicker, and costs a S@*T ton more in the price/gigabyte ratio compared to HDDs. Here's an article on SSDs:

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive


yeah i googled it already and just add it on my message to have a comparison of any other answers..
thank you for answering my question, very detailed explanation, so now i see.. a pretty experienced computer enthusiast

but one more thing, i need some help on building my rig, here's the link to my thread http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom... ,... zzzz, my knowledge towards computers are limited, so i need pro's and more experienced dudes like you.

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May 10, 2012 12:10:11 PM

I know USB 3.0 and Sata 3.0 is the same... but I've got USB 2.0 ;) 

Because of that, gaming on it would be fairly slow (it's like 5 times slower... mine's a rather old one). I have an INTERNAL SSD, so I'll be fine on that.

Kentthegamer... I'm sure people will help you without you having to advertise on other peoples' threads ;) 

Basically, an SSD is flash memory, which means that it doesn't have any moving parts (HDDs have spinning disks... that's why they make noise, get warm, and vibrate). Because of that, SSDs are a LOT faster, but also quite a bit more expensive (about $1/gb as compared to $0.11 per gb on HDDs). Usually, they're used as boot drives (for your OS) and to store apps that need to run quickly... such as games. The HDD I have will be used for storing video, audio, and text documents (and other programs I don't use a lot).
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May 10, 2012 3:15:13 PM

kentthegamer said:
yeah i googled it already and just add it on my message to have a comparison of any other answers..
thank you for answering my question, very detailed explanation, so now i see.. a pretty experienced computer enthusiast

but one more thing, i need some help on building my rig, here's the link to my thread http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/forum2.php?config=tom... ,... zzzz, my knowledge towards computers are limited, so i need pro's and more experienced dudes like you.


I do seem experienced :na:  . But truth is I just started gettin into the custom computer craze about 2 weeks ago. The only things that I seem to have an advantage other some other people is that I know how to search for information on the Internet(some info is really hard to find if you don't know how to look for it) and I put time and effort into my answers making sure that they are complete and explain everything (and also trying not to sound like some prisoner in his jail cell with nothing else to do. Yes, jailed people in the US do get to go on the internet, which probably contributes to the majority of "trolls" on the Internet). But back to the point.
So ya, I'm pretty much a 15-year old who never bothered with computers until 2 weeks ago and since I have figured out what I need(and other people need) for a custom build, Ive really learned a lot. I've probably been to about 8 different forums helping others out in those 2 weeks and really it's so I could get a better understanding about all this stuff. 2 weeks ago I had NO IDEA what a motherboard really was or WHY A SSD or WHAT IS RAM, or really any of the sort. So just searching for what you need and looking in random forums about custom builds is probably the best advice I could give to a person(or pretty much everyone) who is new with custom building a computer. Wish the best of luck :hello: 
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May 10, 2012 3:28:12 PM

Check this out:

http://m.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-670-revie...

The GTX 670 ahas been released, although I haven't found any websites in the US that are currently selling it.
And what's even better is that te GTX 670 is beating the HD 7970 in every game at 1080p resolution except for Metro 2033, which is only ahead by a few frames.
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May 10, 2012 6:20:13 PM

Carma143 said:
I do seem experienced :na:  . But truth is I just started gettin into the custom computer craze about 2 weeks ago. The only things that I seem to have an advantage other some other people is that I know how to search for information on the Internet(some info is really hard to find if you don't know how to look for it) and I put time and effort into my answers making sure that they are complete and explain everything (and also trying not to sound like some prisoner in his jail cell with nothing else to do. Yes, jailed people in the US do get to go on the internet, which probably contributes to the majority of "trolls" on the Internet). But back to the point.
So ya, I'm pretty much a 15-year old who never bothered with computers until 2 weeks ago and since I have figured out what I need(and other people need) for a custom build, Ive really learned a lot. I've probably been to about 8 different forums helping others out in those 2 weeks and really it's so I could get a better understanding about all this stuff. 2 weeks ago I had NO IDEA what a motherboard really was or WHY A SSD or WHAT IS RAM, or really any of the sort. So just searching for what you need and looking in random forums about custom builds is probably the best advice I could give to a person(or pretty much everyone) who is new with custom building a computer. Wish the best of luck :hello: 


Hahaha... me too! I just started getting into it about a month and a half ago when I was thinking of building a computer. I research things tirelessly if I'm putting money into them... and this was no exception. I'm 15, too! Anyway, I'd say I'm a sort of expert on the hardware itself... I can pick a build suitable to about any need and/or budget. I posted this more as a reference than as a question, but wanted to be able to reward any particularly helpful comments, so I made it a question.
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May 10, 2012 7:26:07 PM

For me it was December when I decided to build a computer. I'm 14
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May 10, 2012 8:10:16 PM

In its own way, its sort of funny how whenever someone starts to post their age on the forum it almost instantly becomes like some sort of social gathering. But I guess that's expected.
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May 10, 2012 10:41:38 PM

This has gone so far off topic.
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May 10, 2012 10:58:58 PM

adgjlsfhk said:
This has gone so far off topic.


Sorry about that :pt1cable: 
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