First Time Build - One Week Turnaround - $800ish Budget

Approximate Purchase Date: Would like to spend Thursday of this week rounding up parts and building on Sunday. However, this can be pushed out to another 2-3 weeks if some sale is around the corner or buying online saves significant money. Basically trying to hit the rush of Diablo 3 and if I can't, I can slow the process down.

Budget Range: $800ish after rebates. Can adjust upwards if necessary, but would like to stay less than $1000. If the monitor can double as a TV, I may be able to justify that as an upgrade to the current bedroom TV and not have that affect the budget.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Diablo 3 at Max everything, Photoshop, Illustrator, Programming, Web Design

Parts Not Required: I have a set of speakers that can work. Headphones can be used as well until I can budget speakers. EDIT: I have determined that I can get Windows 7 for free as a student so that no longer needs to be in the budget.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any (I do have a Microcenter within 15 minutes, but no Fry's)

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: Does not matter. Intel has treated me well with all of my pre-built systems and work computers, but I can be swayed

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Probably not necessary for my usage, but I cannot be the judge of that

Monitor Resolution: N/A

Additional Comments: I generally use my work laptop for everything, but I've recently started going back to school and with Diablo 3 coming out shortly, I think it's time to upgrade my 2001 Dell. I want something relatively quiet, but my guess is the technology has changed enough since 2001 that what is considered loud now is still quiet by the standards of my old machine. I would like to get a new monitor for this as well (otherwise I'm stuck using the main TV which means less time to use the new PC). If it could double as a TV for the bedroom (so <= 27" I would say), that would be ideal. When in use, the computer will be sitting on the kitchen table as our apartment does not have a space currently that I can dedicate to a desk. Having said that, when not in use, the PC will be stored (cement floors if that makes a difference. Can move to the bedroom for hardwood floors). Finally, this machine will hopefully be used for many years (5+), primarily by me for the above applications only. D3 is the only game I plan to play on the machine, but will be doing a lot more Photoshop and Illustrator work than now (10-20 hours per week).

Thanks in advance.
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  1. TVs aren't that great for gaming. It should work, but its just not what they are designed to do.

    As far as playing D3 at max everything on a $800 budget that has to include a new monitor and OS in the budget, it sounds like a bit of a stretch. Especially so if you go for the 2600k because that is really good for the audio/video editing stuff.

    You would want to get most of the stuff at the Micro Center most likely.

    Anyway, I would be looking at the whole $1000 if I were you, to make it easier to fit the 2600k in the budget.

    If you look at the link in my signature under the $800 PC and switch the processor to a 2600k, that should be a decent setup for what you intend to do.

    Deciding about the monitor stuff would be up to you.

    The 6870 isn't the greatest video card, but with the other requirements you have you probably can't devote more than about 20% of the budget to the video card so a 6870 is about as good as it is going to get.

    You might be able to fit a 6950 or 560 TI in depending on the change laying around. If you are really serious about max settings, I would try.
  2. Using the link in your signature, this is what I came up with:

    Intel i5-2500k - $181.46 -

    Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 - $64.04 (plus $15 rebate) -

    Crucial 2x 4GB 1333 - $41.98 -

    Galaxy 560 TI 1GB - $214.84 (plus $20 rebate) -

    XFX Pro 550w Core - $74.99 (plus $20 rebate) -

    HAF 912 - $59.99 -

    Hyper 212 - $29.99 (with $10 rebate) -

    Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB 7200 RPM - $79.99 -

    Asus 24x DVD - $17.99 -

    Total (before rebates): $785.27
    Total (after rebates): $720.27

    I went ahead and purchased the 2500k and the motherboard from Microcenter to get the $50 off for bundling the processor with the motherboard, but when I received my pickup email, it listed the motherboard as unavailable. The website had to have updated shortly after my order as my order confirmation shows that there was a board available. So, at this time, I do not have a board, but am thinking a) Does Microcenter offer another board that is comparable in both price and quality or b) Should I scrap that purchase and start fresh? I have 14 days to return (that's the reason I bought before coming back here), so hopefully someone can help me there.

    I also updated my original posting as I was able to find confirmation that I am able to get Windows 7 for free through the university where I am taking classes.

    How does this look for hardware? I figure I can pair this with a $125-$150 monitor, and hopefully spend ~$50 for a keyboard and mouse (worst case scenario, I use my old mouse, but would prefer to get something new instead of using the mouse from my old machine). Am I missing something that the that link didn't give and I'm just not thinking about it?

    Thanks again.
  3. Best answer
    Plenty of other motherboards will work. You could see if they have a P8Z68 instead.

    There isn't too much that is magical about a motherboard, the biggest differences are in the track records of the companies behind the brand.

    Asus does something like 40% of all motherboards in the world or something and has been around a long time. Their boards aren't usually the cheapest, but they don't fail often.

    Gigabyte makes and sells less boards, but according to the stats I have read their fail rate is lower than Asus.

    Biostar and Asrock both have really short track records, but the quality seems to be OK. If you want cheap usually it involves taking your chances with one of these makers.

    I wouldn't go with any other maker. Foxconn and Zotac market directly to consumers, but don't sell many boards at all. Companies like ECS usually don't market to customers directly, but they do make a lot of boards that OEM makers like HP and DELL end up using.

    Anyway, you can just get a board that sounds like it is close to the same as the one I listed in features. The order of companies I would buy in would be Gigabyte, Asus, Asrock, then Biostar.

    Otherwise, everything sounds fine.
  4. Spend more on the motherboard if you are gettinga K type processor. Look for something around 100-150 dollar range with 6+2 digital VRM. Look at these:

    You can afford to step down the video card a notch. Diablo III will run fine on a 6770 which costs ~$100.

    Get the 212 Evo instead of the standard 212. The extra 5 bucks will take you far in terms pf temps and longevity.

    Also, if it fits in your budget, get a 128 gb crucial M4 or similar for around ~$120. Will help make all your productivity apps much more snappy.
  5. The Gigabyte motherboard is a $110 motherboard. It is $60 at Micro Center because they give $50 off on motherboards.

    BTW, people have been OCing on Z68 for a pretty long time, even H67. Not that there is anything wrong with Z77 per se, but to infer that it is necessary in order to OC is not being completely honest.

    Its not like the Gigabyte board we are talking about is an AMD 3+1 board or anything. It is a respectable 5+1 and many places have tested it OCd to almost 5 GHZ and not reported problems.

    This is a write up by a website that tested the board OCd to 4.9 GHZ.

    And here is an article about all the VRM stuff with a long list of boards with confirmed VRM failures

    of which 95% are AMD boards with 80%+ of them made by MSI. Not a single one on that list was a Z68 much less a Gigabyte Z68.

    Sure those boards might do a tad better, but I am not convinced the extra expense is warranted. Especially on a restrictive budget.
  6. Thanks for all the discussion. For my purposes, is an equivalent H77 board better than the Z68 board? When I showed up, they were out of that board, so they substituted (still think this was the regular sale price) the ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Z68 ATX Intel Motherboard ( ) for $64.04, but does not have the rebate. Honest question, but is it worth the difference of $85.95 to go with the other ASUS board on Newegg (trying to keep it within brands)? Would I be better off getting a different board at Microcenter so I can take advantage of the $50 combo?

    I had a look at the case there as well, and I can see how this would get plenty of airflow and wouldn't be very utilized. It is much bigger than I expected. Is there something smaller that would still fit all of the components listed? I see it has 4 front bays, but I doubt I ever use more than 2 and that would only be if some technology came out that utilized it. For now, the 1 bay for the DVD drive is plenty. I saw a few at Microcenter that were closer in size and knocked some money off, but I don't know the technical/setup enough to know whether or not I'm getting myself in trouble. For example, would something like this work:

    What do I need to consider for the case?

    As always, thanks for the input.

    EDIT: Wanted to also ask about the 212 Evo instead of the standard 212. It's actually $15 since there is a rebate. Still worth it?

    One last Edit: The salesman was pushing the EVGA 01G-P3-1460-KR NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 ( ) and it would save $30 over the Gigabyte card. He also mentioned the EVGA 01G-P3-1561-KR GeForce GTX 560 Ti ( ) for $245.51 (plus $30 rebate). Is he right for either? Is EVGA a better brand that Gigabyte? Is the saving of $30 from a 560 Ti to 560 (as well as brand) worth it? How do you all keep this stuff straight?
  7. EVGA has the best warranty.
  8. The P8Z68 is a solid motherboard. I wouldn't feel bad having that instead of a Gigabyte Z68 if they were out of the Gigabyte ones for whatever reason.

    I would get the board at Micro Center if you got the processor there. Unless you are the type to just drop $50 on the ground and walk away from it.

    Case - The elite case is no good. A top mounted PSU is just not ok on a high performance computer system in 2012. Maybe if it were still 2002, but today's requirements demand a bottom mount case.

    The stars align over the price/performance of the HAF 912 so someone should really have a seriously good reason not to get it imho. If one size really did fit all, it would be the HAF 912.

    Proper airflow and cooling makes a huge difference on the stability and longevity of the parts in the computer. It is one of the top 2 most underrated parts of a computer for most people.

    If you absolutely must save a couple bucks, the Cooler Master Elite 430 should be slightly cheaper and it is still an OK case, but a good case will stick with you for a long time and serve you well for many different builds. It would be easy to save the $20 or whatever by waiting till some movie comes out on Netflix instead of watching it in the theater, but that $20 better case would deliver you solid value every day for like a decade.

    Hyper 212 Evo vs Plus vs regular... Whatever. Might be a couple degrees cooler. I haven't heard of anyone complaining that they got the lowest level model and it isn't good enough so they have to upgrade to the more expensive ones. If you could get the better models for less money it would be a no brainer, but otherwise I wouldn't worry too much about it.

    Video Cards - Supposedly EVGA is the best card maker. As mentioned they have a good warranty and they have good brand image. But... they are kinda like Apple in a way. People spend more money on their stuff regardless if other brands are equally as good or potentially better.

    I am not saying other brands make better cards than EVGA don't get me wrong, but I am saying the differences between video card brands tends to be quite small. Especially so if you are willing to take the 30 seconds to raise clock speeds so a cheaper card is equal with the clocks of a more expensive one.

    Unlike cases and PSUs, video cards are much more of a commodity product from where I sit. I would go with the best deal whatever brand it happened to be.

    The 560 TI is worth $30 over a regular 560. The 6950 is about equal to the 560 TI and should cost about the same and should be about $30 more than ATI's 6850/6870 which is about equal to the regular 560. It is actually a pretty cheap upgrade if the difference is only $30, because of how much more performance you get out of it.

    The 6770 and 6850 are the gold standards for budget video cards, and the 6950/560 TI are generally speaking where the serious gamers with the money to match start. The incremental cost/incremental performance for most everything above that is not worth it. You pay a lot more $ for a lot less increase in performance above that level.

    Edit - How to keep it straight? If you want to know everything there is to know about computers, hang out in this forum for like 3 months reading solved threads and try answering some on your own. You might as well have a doctorate degree in computer engineering after that crash course. After a while you internalize a series of rules of thumb and things mostly stop being hard after that.
  9. Thanks again for everything. Here is the final build. Everything has been ordered and is expected to be here no later than Friday:

    ASUS P8Z68-V LX LGA 1155 Z68 ATX Intel Motherboard
    Crucial 2x 4GB 1333
    EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1024MB
    XFX Pro 550w Core
    HAF 912
    Hyper 212
    Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB 7200 RPM
    Asus 24x DVD

    Now on to the monitor. I've been using Amazon mainly as the judge of this, but had some questions. I went to Best Buy and Office Max today and kinda fell hard for the 23" monitors. At this point, I don't want to break the bank, but I don't want to compromise too much. I came across the HP 2311x ( ) and just looking at the desktop and messing around with a few windows, I liked the color and resolution. Using Amazon and Newegg, the ASUS VH236H 23 Inch ( ) looks to be a very popular choice. I hate to pay for the speakers I do not intend to use, but I couldn't find an equivalent for a cheaper price.

    The HP is $159.35, but I think I can come up with a $25 off $75 coupon, so that would drop to $132.80. For the Asus, I found it on Amazon for $158, but there is also a $20 rebate floating around, so that drops it to $138.

    Any opinions on either of these? Am I better off going with something else?

    Also, now that I have ordered all the parts, what else do I need? Do I need thermal paste? Do I need additional case fans? Do I need any connectors for in the case (assuming monitor will have the correct cord. If not, hopefully I can pick up a DVI cord cheap. Also have plenty of network cables lying around)? Do I need anything to hold the parts in (brackets, screws, etc.)? Hoping to have the build completed Sunday or Monday and up and running with D3 for the midnight release or Tuesday night after work.

    Thanks again.
  10. Sometimes the paste comes with it or already applied to the cpu cooler, but it wouldn't hurt to have a small tube laying around just in case.

    I would put fans of the largest size in each available slot, it pays off really well to do that. The HAF 912 comes with 2x 120s and can hold 2x 120s and 2x 200s. You should be able to get generic 200s for about $10 and I would get both of them. You will have to move a 120 from the front to the side in order to get one of the 200s up front and then stick the other one up top.

    Otherwise, everything you need should be there.

    I am too poor to afford monitors so I can't really help you there. We only have 2 really old DELL monitors we got for free a long time ago, a 17 and 19 inch. I do have to say that I like the sound bar attachment, though, it is very convenient when the monitor gets moved around all the time (mine does) and it fills that dead space under the monitor so for me it kills 2 birds with one stone.
  11. Best answer selected by Zampif.
  12. Finished up everything today and went with the ASUS VH236H 23 Inch. A little over budget, but I was able to get some additional discounts purchasing gift cards that I had not previously accounted in the price, so all and all, I'm hoping this gets me where I want to be. I appreciate all of the help.
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