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Sub $1000 Gaming Build Advice

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May 10, 2012 2:36:03 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: This or next week (flexible)

Budget Range: $700-$1000

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Web, Watching Videos

Parts Not Required: Keyboard/Mouse, Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Direct Canada

Country: Canada

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: No


I am looking to build my first desktop PC (I have been using a laptop for the past 6 years), primarily for gaming purposes. I am extremely paranoid about getting something wrong while buying the parts so I would like to ask for some help. The following is my current build:

CPU: Intel Core I5 2500K Quad Core Unlocked Processor LGA1155 3.3GHZ Sandy Bridge 6MB

GPU: Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 Windforce 820MHZ 1GB 4.2GHZ GDDR5 2xDVI HDMI Display Port PCI-E Video Card

Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V LX Z68 LGA1155 ATX 2PCI-E16 2PCI-E1 DDR3 SATA3 USB3.0 Audio Video CrossFire Motherboard

RAM: Kingston HyperX KHX1600C9D3K2/8GX 8GB 2X4GB DDR3-1600 XMP Dual Channel Memory Kit

Power Supply: Corsair TX650 V2 650W ATX 12V Single Rail 53A 24PIN ATX Power Supply Active PFC 80PLUS Bronze

HDD: Western Digital WD Caviar Blue 1TB SATA 6GB/S 7200RPM 32MB Cache 3.5IN Hard Drive OEM

Disk Drive: ASUS DRW-24B1ST 24X SATA DVD Writer OEM Black

Cooler: HYPER 212 PLUS CPU COOLER FOR INTEL & AMD

Case: Antec Three Hundred Mini Tower Gaming Case 300 ATX 3X5.25 6X3.5INT No PS Front USB & Audio


Specific Questions/Concerns:
- The cooler says it supports Intel Socket LGA1156, but the CPU is socket type LGA-1155. Does this mean they are incompatible?
- I am the most ignorant when it comes to choosing the motherboard and power supply, so any specific suggestions there would be great!

Thank you so much, and sorry for the bother.
a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2012 2:43:10 PM

Specific answers to your concerns:

The cooler is compatible with both. Don't worry about that.

-I would recommend a stronger video card, such as a Radeon 6870, they don't cost very much more. http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530BD9927&v...


-Good motherboard choice, everything else looks good to me.
-Your choice in power supply is exactly what I would have recommended if you had asked me, nice job.

Dont forget you need an operating system, Windows7 ideally.
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May 10, 2012 2:56:08 PM

I concur... i have a similar build but the Corsair 850w TX for a PSU (I plan on SLI'ing down the line so i wanted to get the extra wattage now).

Good RAM, CPU, and PSU choices.

Video card is weakest and will bottleneck the system. Since you state that the system is primarily for gaming, this is your most important item. I wouldn't get less than a 560 Ti or AMD equivalent.

I have the 560 Ti (i prefer nvidia) which is an avg/ above avg card. however, i have room built into my PSU wattage so that down the line (1 -2 years) when the card is half the price, to buy another and SLI them.

so reiterating nekulturny, upgrade the video card now or you will be spending more down the line...
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May 10, 2012 4:15:58 PM

I'd say drop the CPU cooler for now and gun for a 7850.

http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530BD5564&v...

You don't need to OC the i5 yet (most games don't need an OC) and the stock cooler works o.k.

Overall, it looks like a very smart build but if you are gunna skip the IB cpu/mobo make up for that with a good GPU. A 2nd 7850 when the time comes will keep you on par with the new cards due to come.
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May 10, 2012 5:37:38 PM

Thanks for all the great responses so far.

What do we think of Wisecrackers suggestions of switching the cpu over to the AMD PII 960T Black Edition and getting the Radeon HD 7850 2GB with the money saved?

From doing some quick reading I see a lot of people talking about being able to unlock the 4 core AMD PII 960T Black Edition to 5 or 6 cores with the right motherboard (something like Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 AMD970 ). Is this something I should consider?
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May 10, 2012 5:57:55 PM

For the case, try to find Antec Three Hundred Two. It may add up $5-$10, but will give you additional benefit worth more than the cost: cable management, USB 3 port, and bottom vent for PSU. I have Three Hundred, which I'm satisfied with, but the additional feature of the Two version is still desirable.

For CPU cooler, I recommend 212 Plus even if you don't overclock. With my unOC'able 2400, this cooler still delivers value with silent and cool CPU running.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2012 6:54:55 PM

deepfire said:
Thanks for all the great responses so far.

What do we think of Wisecrackers suggestions of switching the cpu over to the AMD PII 960T Black Edition and getting the Radeon HD 7850 2GB with the money saved?

From doing some quick reading I see a lot of people talking about being able to unlock the 4 core AMD PII 960T Black Edition to 5 or 6 cores with the right motherboard (something like Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 AMD970 ). Is this something I should consider?


Wisecracker is right, the only reason I didn't suggest the switch myself is because I get tired of trolls on the forum showing up and saying what a horrible blah blah blah idea it is. (It happens a lot- you have the same argument 10 or 15 times with the same people it gets old lol), but yes, thats an extremely viable alternative. Also with the 960T you have a 1 in 2 chance of unlocking it into a 6 core processor. The 960Ts are essentially the 6 core Phenom II 1090T/1100T with 2 cores disabled, it is occasionally possible to enable the locked cores.

When it comes to gaming, if you're faced with a choice between a cheaper CPU and a cheaper video card, you're almost always better off going with the cheaper CPU so you can buy a better video card.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2012 6:59:08 PM

MKBL said:


For CPU cooler, I recommend 212 Plus even if you don't overclock. With my unOC'able 2400, this cooler still delivers value with silent and cool CPU running.



I agree with you... Stock coolers no matter it be Intel or AMD always sound like a plane taking off lol.
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May 10, 2012 7:08:35 PM

nekulturny said:
I agree with you... Stock coolers no matter it be Intel or AMD always sound like a plane taking off lol.


Ya, I am not too concerned with spending $25 on a cooler if it will given me peace and quite (plus future proofing if I OC).
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2012 7:24:22 PM

Futureproofing is a concept that doesn't exist with computers. They're all dinosaurs in 4 years. Power supplies, cases, and CD/DVD drives are about the only "futureproof" things in a computer.

Having said that, most games only use 2 cores of a CPU, theres a couple that can use a quad core, (Battlefield 3 for example), so getting a quad is a good idea regardless of whether you go with Intel or AMD. (Note: AMD Bulldozer aka FX-4100 and 4170 are not true quad cores, FX-6100s and 6200s are technically tri-cores)
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 10, 2012 9:15:57 PM


deepfire said:
Thanks for all the great responses so far.

What do we think of Wisecrackers suggestions of switching the cpu over to the AMD PII 960T Black Edition and getting the Radeon HD 7850 2GB with the money saved?

From doing some quick reading I see a lot of people talking about being able to unlock the 4 core AMD PII 960T Black Edition to 5 or 6 cores with the right motherboard (something like Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3 AMD970 ). Is this something I should consider?


Gigabyte has a system whereby you may save up to 8 different BIOS configurations using the F11 & F12 keys. This allows different system set-ups for you based upon specific need. Examples

1 - stock
2 - stock unlocked (good luck!) Turbo
3 - 4 core 19x 3.8 1.388v No Turbo NB24
4 - 6 core 18x 3.6 1.375 Turbo NB25
... etc

Four cores are generally best for gaming - six cores for video encoding, data analysis, 3D-modeling, etc

The HD7850 is killer, and essentially comes with a built-in 20% OC to near HD7870 levels. The PhII 960T easily 25% dependent upon Turbo.

The AMD 960T adds '2x' to your CPU multiplier to boost single cores so, theoretically, using number 4 as an example, up to 2 cores will run 20x (200MHz) or 4GHz.

This is good, but sometimes not so good. There is a phenomena called 'core-hopping' where the thread simply bounces between cores, normally with little performance hit. Makes the whole Turbo concept useless . . .

So folks disable Turbo, and clock all the 6 unlocked cores to 4GHz :lol: 



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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 11, 2012 1:19:52 AM

^ Dual core vs Quad core.. If you were going to pick a dual core processor, you'd be better off with an i3, but I'd never take a dual core over a quad. All the BS 1-5FPS differences in dual core optimized games aside. And if you were gonna get a G860 why bother with a Z68 chipset, may as well get a cheaper 61 or 67? Next year Haswell will be out on a new socket, no backwards compatibility.
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a b B Homebuilt system
May 11, 2012 6:10:10 PM


loops said:
What about a G860 and z68 to get to the 7850?


That's certainly an option for an Intel guy.

But as noted, there is a better than 50% chance the OP is sitting on 6 cores, or at the worst, 4 cores at 3.8GHz'ish with 6MB L3. Either way, that's power to really push the HD7850, and any other apps the OP might launch.

Annnnnnnnnnnd, AM3+ is going to be supported by AMD at least through 2015. FX-PileDriver will arrive in Q3, with Steamroller in 2013. Excavator in 2014-15.




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May 11, 2012 8:05:21 PM

I would suggest getting your system at Memory Express and price match the components.

Following the initial build I replaced the video card with a 6870 and the final price came to $674.61 without the motherboard since I couldn't find the LX anywhere so you'd have to get that at Direct Canada. Add in the $105.79 to the build at the price is: $780.40.

That's not bad at all. Using Memory Express for the rest of your components you'll save enough to upgrade your GPU even further for the same price or throw in an SSD.

You will have to do a little bit of hunting for each component's best price at Canadian sites.

Here's my quick list:


CPU: http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item...
GPU: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E1681...
PSU: http://www.canadacomputers.com/product_info.php?cPath=3...
HDD: http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=25350DR5426
DVD: http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=10530DR5213
FAN: http://www.directcanada.com/products/?sku=1946101809P

The case and the RAM were both cheaper at Memory Express.

Happy Hunting for your system!

Edited to add: I ordered from Memory Express after someone told me about them. I live in Ontario and they were great. They price matched / beat all the prices for my order (I saved over $100), shipped via UPS, and their Customer Service was great - they called me to verify my order details.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
May 12, 2012 4:46:02 AM

^ Actually not bad,. I ordered my system from different stores too (Combination of TigerDirect, Newegg and MicroCenter), some people have their store preferences, but don't be afraid to shop around.
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