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Budget Gaming Build: Your thoughts, please!

Last response: in Systems
May 13, 2012 5:38:49 PM

I finally got fed up with my 6 year old custom build's inability to play anything released past 2009, so I'm now in the process of putting together a new machine. Modern gaming is once more within my reach! :D 

This build will be used primarily for gaming, but I also do some light image editing (nothing my old system couldn't handle, albeit slowly) as well as standard casual computing tasks (internet, home theater, etc.).

I'm not terribly experienced with the world of computer construction, but after reading a number of articles here and elsewhere, I think I've put together a build which should satisfy my gaming needs (Mostly strategy and RPGs. Needs to run Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 flawlessly at 1920x1080) and last for a few good years. I am a complete novice when it comes to overclocking, but I'd like the ability to do so, particularly down the road once the system's aged a bit and needs a little more punch.

Your thoughts or ideas for improvement are most appreciated!

N.B. I'm trying to keep the price of this build as close to $1000 as possible, but would be willing to go as high as $1200 if significant improvements could be had within that range.

-Intel i5-3570

-ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M (I'd like to maintain the micro-ATX form factor if possible)

-Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 OC (The plan here is to buy one now with the ability to add another in Crossfire in a year or two. I believe this card will have no problem fitting in the case I've chosen - see below.)

-G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB)

-SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB (plus my old SATA HDD from the previous build, perhaps as an external if internal space is tight)

SSD (Boot disk):
-Crucial M4 CT064M4SSD2 2.5" 64GB SATA III MLC

-I plan on using my old 600w ATX PSU in order to save some cash since it should work with the case I've selected (its an Ultra 600w X-Finity).

CPU Cooler:

-NZXT Vulcan

-Asus 24xDVD±RW

-External USB3 BluRay drive (came with my laptop)

PRICE: This build seems to total about $1050 (excluding OS)

So, What do you think? Is this a solid build? My basic questions are these:
-Will this build work well as an M-ATX?
-Will it last for at least 2 years without major upgrades?
-Is my GPU choice wise given my budget? If I were to sink another $100 in the area, what would you suggest?
-Any particular weak points in this build?
May 13, 2012 5:45:53 PM

The GPU should be okay for most modern games at high settings.

Putting more into a GPU is always good.

One thing I'd note is that your SSD is on the small side. It's nice being able to put a few games on the SSD as well especially if you're using it for gaming! I'd go with at least a 120 GB.
May 13, 2012 5:54:42 PM

Yes, 120gb on your SSD, and cut down your RAM to 8gb, 16 isn't totally necessary for gaming, light editing, etc, and use the savings to maybe afford the bigger SSD. Then, take the extra $100 to the graphics card. Games are 70%gpu, 30%cpu (from what I know). Adding to the GPU is, as Thrin said, always good.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 13, 2012 6:03:51 PM

^+1 pretty much.

1. m-ATX is a form factor. It will be better with the upgrade path since not many m-ATX boards can really fit a CF setup without blocking ports and connections. I would try to go ATX, but ultimately it's up to you.
2. Yes.
3. Yes.
4. 16GB unneeded. Perhaps going ATX would be better. Mainly to fit the cards better in the future and also because m-ATX is rather an annoyance to work with when you have larger cards.

Check out my $1000 build here
Would try and go at least 7870 for flawless (assuming you mean AA+AF too) but I'm sure a 7850 OC could sustain mid 45-high 50's at 1080P on those max settings.
May 13, 2012 7:38:01 PM

Thanks for the advice everyone! I think I will cut the memory back to 8GB and use the savings to upgrade to a 128GB SSD (

How does this look in terms of RAM? (CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB):

As for the m-ATX form factor, after reading a bit more, I think I can make it work with 2 Radeon 7850s. Since I'm starting with a single GPU, I think I will go ahead with the Vulcan case. If it turns out that when I decide to add a second GPU in a couple of years I need to upgrade the case as well, then I'll at least have had some good use out of the Vulcan. I know I'm probably being stubborn on this point, but I really like the design and scale of that case.

Finally, one further question... Do you folks think its a good idea to use my old PSU for this build (600w)? Its currently running strong, but it has seen 6 years of moderate wear. One thing I haven't been able to really determine is how much PSU technology has changed since 2006. Technologically, is there any reason to upgrade from my Ultra X-Finity 600w?

Thanks again for your advice!
a b 4 Gaming
May 13, 2012 8:05:04 PM

I would be hesitant to use your current PSU with a Crossfire setup. But for a single card, it'll be fine. When you move onto Crossfire, go with this. The 7850's consume quite little power so it'll do just fine. AMD recommends 650w for their 78xx cards in CF so usually the recommended is an overestimate to be safe.
Fairly cheap right now but that's a solid PSU no doubt.

Looks good to go.
May 16, 2012 1:28:40 AM

Honestly, I think you're good with everything mentioned above, except since you would have to move to a better PSU when you CrossFire, go with an Nvidia card in SLI, and simply get a slightly better power supply ( than you would if you CrossFire ) in the future. Oh, and when it comes to PSU's, I would go w/ a ThermalTake or an XFX. They are simply the best performers, and Tt has some really nice prices at Microcenter. ( I ran a 170W Tt for 9 years, and it's still alive - just not being used )

Reason for an Nvidia card is:

Nvidia GTX 670 outperforms the Radeon 7950, which is a leap ahead of your 7850, not to mention the GeForce cards have better drivers and can play more games w/out crashing or anything annoying like that.

Only downside to GTX 670 besides slightly more power draw is that not just is it a large performance increase - but you also are throwing 120-135 dollars at it, for better performance, instead of 100.

On the other hand, the GTX 670 does have some serious advantages in new technologies and don't have the PCI-E 3.0 errors like batches of the Radeons have been having lately.

Peace out,

a b 4 Gaming
May 16, 2012 4:02:08 AM

Lol TT? That's a new one, Antec is more than solid and the 650w is more than enough for Crossfire on the newer cards.

Also your drivers statement is pretty incorrect about current AMD drivers. I've honestly never had an issue with AMD drivers and I started with the 5850. So if you fail at driver installs then maybe you'll have issues. But otherwise, none. Also the 670 costs $150 more than the 7850 of course it'll perform better. Technically, it's $170 because currently the cheapest available GTX 670 on newegg is $420.

Also I'm not sure I understand your meaning of throwing 120-135 instead of 100... Please evaluate.

And again, I'm not sure that I've heard of any issues with the Radeons lately. Links please for proof.