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Gaming PC for $1500 or Less

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May 19, 2012 8:41:07 PM

I'm fairly new to the entire PC building scene, let alone this site, so please bear with me on this one. I'm currently in the market for a new PC as my current laptop just isn't cutting it anymore; on-board graphics are terrible for any sorts of gaming, and the particular aging Core i3 in it isn't making anything better. That said, I'm looking into building a PC and liking what I see. I do have a parts list prepared, and would like to know if everything is compatible, if any other suggestions for specific parts could be made, and if anyone has any previous experience with any of these parts. Thank you! ^_^

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Approximate Purchase Date: Close to May 25th, 2012

Budget Range: $1000-$1500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, HD video editing, general web-surfing and word processing.

Parts Not Required: Speakers

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Microcenter.com or Newegg.com [I have a Microcenter store near me and would much rather prefer to purchase in a brick and mortar location for ease of returns.]

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: No particular preference

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Monitor Resolution: I haven't quite picked out a monitor yet

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PARTS LIST:

Processor: Intel Core i5 2400
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Mobo: Asus P8Z68-V LX LGA
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

HDD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD1002FAEX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Optical Drive: Asus DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Case: Corsair Carbide 400R
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

Video Card: EVGA 01G-P3-1556-KR - GForce GTX 550Ti
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

PSU: Cooler Master GX Series 650W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

OR

Corsair Enthusiast Series TX650
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=17-139-...
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

OS: Windows 7
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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Am I missing anything significant here? [Besides the obligatory tube of thermal paste, a decent screwdriver, an anti-static wristband, etc.] Also, if you have any tips or recommendations when it comes to the actual installation of these parts, they would be much appreciated; I'm going in here quite blind, with only Newegg's How to Build a Computer video series to go on. xD Once again, thank you all for your time. :D 

More about : gaming 1500

a b 4 Gaming
May 19, 2012 8:43:13 PM

Upgrade the GPU to a GTX 670 and change PSU to a 550W XFX or PC Power and Cooling. For one GPU, that is all you will ever need for any card.
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May 19, 2012 9:03:25 PM

I wanted to keep the wattage of the PSU higher in case I do want to upgrade things in the future; it'll be one less part to buy. Thank you for your input though. :D 
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a b 4 Gaming
May 19, 2012 9:05:09 PM

Then just get 750W. It is enough for any SLI or CF upgrades.
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May 19, 2012 9:15:50 PM

Okay, no problem. Once again, I appreciate all the help I can get; thanks for sharing your opinions. ^_^
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May 19, 2012 9:51:58 PM

I was also somewhat curious as to whether or not I should consider swapping the i5 2500k out with an i7 2600; it is only $70 at MicroCenter and I don't need overclocking capability.
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May 19, 2012 9:56:53 PM

probably not worth it to upgrade to the 2600
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May 19, 2012 9:59:18 PM

gregck said:
probably not worth it to upgrade to the 2600



Is there any reasoning behind your recommendation?; is the difference in raw processing power negligible between the two?
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a b 4 Gaming
May 19, 2012 10:04:36 PM

If Hyper threading is used for your editing program - 2600 is a good idea. Also gpu performance/watt has been getting better with each generation - large psu is not needed. Just go Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, Silverstone, XFX...EDIT: PC Power & Cooling as well(for Azeem) there are some pretty sweet deals on quality psus from time to time.
-Bruce
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a b 4 Gaming
May 19, 2012 10:09:17 PM

Get the i5-2400 if you're not gonna OC.
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May 19, 2012 10:15:01 PM

dish_moose said:
If Hyper threading is used for your editing program - 2600 is a good idea. Also gpu performance/watt has been getting better with each generation - large psu is not needed. Just go Antec, Corsair, Seasonic, Silverstone, XFX...EDIT: PC Power & Cooling as well(for Azeem) there are some pretty sweet deals on quality psus from time to time.
-Bruce



Ahh, in that case I doubt I'll need to upgrade; it appears as if Sony Vegas 9 Pro isn't all that friendly with hyperthreading. Perhaps newer iterations will have fixed this, but I'll always keep upgrades in mind. And thanks for the tips on the PSU; I think I'll stay at the 750w mark for any potential addons that may be put in down the road though.

The last remaining distinct question that I do have, however, is if everything is compatible with each other, straight out of the box. I'd rather not mess with flashing a new BIOS version to the motherboard, for example.

azeem40 said:
Get the i5-2400 if you're not gonna OC.



Huh; I completely disregarded the 2400; the only difference between the two is price and the ability to overclock, correct?
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May 19, 2012 10:51:22 PM

Come to think of it, I may just switch out my PSU right now to save some cash; I doubt I'll be upgrading anytime soon. Can anyone recommend a particularly good one near about the 650w price-range?

And I still pose that question; the only difference between the i5 2400 and 2500k is that the 2500k is more expensive and has the ability to overclock, yes?
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May 19, 2012 10:59:16 PM

FCV96 said:
And I still pose that question; the only difference between the i5 2400 and 2500k is that the 2500k is more expensive and has the ability to overclock, yes?

More or less, but remember that overclocking is a free 30-50% boost.
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May 19, 2012 11:04:02 PM

cuecuemore said:
More or less, but remember that overclocking is a free 30-50% boost.


True, but I'd rather shy away from overclocking at the moment; get some experience under my belt before attempting anything of the sort. I'd rather have parts run at their original intended speed as well. Thanks for the help. :D 

__

And using the Asus PSU Wattage Calculator, my specs come in at requiring around 500 watts; I'm not sure what I was thinking when I went for 750. How are Cooler Master's PSUs [specifically the linked one]?
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May 19, 2012 11:19:33 PM

I have to agree with getting the 2500k, remember you'll need a CPU cooler $25-$35. It will be worth it just don't jump in and start to OC before you understand voltage and thermal issues. There's lots of info on the web and at TH that will put your mind at ease. In the end you'll be very pleased with the added performance. Yeah dump the 550ti because that will put a choke hold on your system.
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May 19, 2012 11:26:23 PM

Hydroc10 said:
I have to agree with getting the 2500k, remember you'll need a CPU cooler $25-$35. It will be worth it just don't jump in and start to OC before you understand voltage and thermal issues. There's lots of info on the web and at TH that will put your mind at ease. In the end you'll be very pleased with the added performance


Thanks for the information; I guess I'll see where I go from here. I'd like to keep things on the cheaper side since this is my first build and I don't want to lose a considerable amount of cash because of an installation misstep, but I may consider a small amount of OC'ing in the future. For now though, I think the 2400 suits my needs. And with the recommendations from others, I've actually come in at lower than my budget, at about $868 excluding a monitor, keyboard/mouse, and a few other nick-knacks.
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May 20, 2012 12:09:55 AM

Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any particular tips when it comes to installation? General hints as well as common mistakes, etc.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 20, 2012 12:21:32 AM

FCV96 said:
Just out of curiosity, does anyone have any particular tips when it comes to installation? General hints as well as common mistakes, etc.


If something doesn't fit at first, don't force it. A lot of people do that and then find out that they broke something because they were inserting it wrong or it didn't even go where they were inserting it (such as trying to put an eight pin PCIe power connector into an eight oin CPU power slot on a motherboard).
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May 20, 2012 1:24:08 AM

blazorthon said:
If something doesn't fit at first, don't force it. A lot of people do that and then find out that they broke something because they were inserting it wrong or it didn't even go where they were inserting it (such as trying to put an eight pin PCIe power connector into an eight oin CPU power slot on a motherboard).


I can imagine the damages that can be caused by forcing something; thanks for the tip. I'm sure that it'll come in handy while I attempt to assemble the thing. :D 



Thanks for the suggestion. The one thing I'm a bit wary about, however, is Corsair's recent high failure rate. On just about every page on Newegg's reviews, there are at least three or four reviewers speaking of shorts, smoking, DOA, or general failure into the lifespan of the product.

fpoon said:
I suggest you drop the CPU to a i5-2400 and the PSU to a 500-550W. Then, with the extra money, you can get a better GPU:
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...

A high end build isn't high-end without a SSD. Get this:
http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml...


I hadn't quite thought of that, though I suppose that I could throw a bit more cash in the GPU's direction. For now, I think I'll be sticking to a standard HDD though.
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May 20, 2012 2:46:24 AM

Also, here's a question on the software side of things. What are decent programs to stress-test hardware and make sure it is working correctly? That's a field in which I have next to no information on. :D  Is it possible to test specific components, and if so, can you do it through the BIOS?
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May 20, 2012 7:04:44 AM

FCV96 said:
Also, here's a question on the software side of things. What are decent programs to stress-test hardware and make sure it is working correctly? That's a field in which I have next to no information on. :D  Is it possible to test specific components, and if so, can you do it through the BIOS?


Intel Burn Test and Prime95 are good programs for stress-testing the CPU.

http://downloads.guru3d.com/IntelBurnTest-v2.3-download...
http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=103

Unigine Heaven is a good program for stress-testing and benchmarking the GPU.

http://unigine.com/products/heaven/

Furmark is good for stress-testing and benchmarking the GPU too. It won't give you all the eye-candy that Unigine Heaven gives you though.

http://www.ozone3d.net/benchmarks/fur/
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May 20, 2012 3:42:17 PM

pckitty4427 said:
Intel Burn Test and Prime95 are good programs for stress-testing the CPU.

http://downloads.guru3d.com/IntelBurnTest-v2.3-download...
http://files.extremeoverclocking.com/file.php?f=103

Unigine Heaven is a good program for stress-testing and benchmarking the GPU.

http://unigine.com/products/heaven/

Furmark is good for stress-testing and benchmarking the GPU too. It won't give you all the eye-candy that Unigine Heaven gives you though.

http://www.ozone3d.net/benchmarks/fur/


I simply cannot thank you, and the others who have replied to this thread, enough; your help has been invaluable to boosting my confidence in actually taking the plunge and building this thing. Here's one last question to pose though; do you have any specific tips on problems that may be encountered during the build? I've read the troubleshooting suggestion thread, but was curious as to whether or not you [or others] had any specific personal experiences.
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