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~$1000 gaming system for NOOB

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May 31, 2012 12:28:15 AM

Hi everyone,

I need a new computer as my laptop is dying on me. I was deciding between a desktop and laptop, but since I realized that I barely have a need for mobility, I thought it would be more fun to build my own desktop for some gaming and to get some work done at home.

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Approximate Purchase Date: Within the next week or two

Budget Range: $1000 (for everything, including monitor and OS!)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Remote Desktop into work computer, surf internet, store/listen to music

Parts Not Required: I will probably need everything including monitor

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Amazon (I am a Prime member), but anywhere I can get a better deal than Amazon!

Country: U.S.

Parts Preferences: No preference since I'm a complete noob

Overclocking: I don't know how to do this, but eventually I'll probably want to

SLI or Crossfire: Don't even know what this is...so probably no?

Monitor Resolution: I'll be happy with full HD (1920x1080)

Additional Comments: I want to be able to play graphically intense games (Crysis) at high settings, which by my specification, mean they look noticeably better than on console (otherwise I would probably just play on my ps3!)

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The only parts that I've looked at are so far are the GPU and CPU. For GPU, I'm thinking either the Radeon HD 6870 or the GeForce GTX 570, both of which are recommended in TH's article as a best value (http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-graphics-card-review,3107-4.html). What kind of CPU will I need with either of those cards to ensure that the processor will not be a bottle neck in terms of gaming performance? I heard good things about i5-2500k, but would that be overkill? I would like to be able to play games like Crysis at all high settings on a 1920x1080p resolution. I'm definitely not set on any graphics card or other equipment, so any suggestions would be welcome!

I have some noob questions that I'll ask here too:

-Why are there different "makes" of GPUs? Just looking at GTX 570, there are EVGA, ASUS, and MSI models. Does this have anything to do with compatibility? Does it affect performance?

-Do I need a cooling system (fan)? It seems like CPUs and GPUs come with their own fans...

Thanks! :) 

P.S. This is my first time building a PC, so I will probably have many questions, especially about compatibility.
a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 12:48:23 AM

Welcome to Tom's Hardware Forums
I'm not going to go into recommendations at this point but will provide some clarification
1) 2500k; on the Intel processors the "k" means the processor is "unlocked" so it can be overclocked. If you want to overclock and go Intel, you'll want a "k" processor. You will also want an aftermarket cooler for your CPU since the included Heatsink/Fan (HSF)although effective at stock speeds is not effective for overclocking.
2) SLI/X-Fire is the ability to get better performance by adding an additional graphics card.

Gonna have you check out these videos, they should answer many of your questions (perhaps give you new questions too)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPIXAtNGGCw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_56kyib-Ls
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxaVBsXEiok

Enjoy
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May 31, 2012 3:58:28 AM

Thanks for those videos, C12Friedman! I watched the first two and am watching the third one now. It did indeed answer some of my questions, but like you said, it definitely brought up some questions for me too:

-How do I tell if my case and motherboard will be compatible in terms of the I/O plugs and ports?

-There were a ton of cables in the second video when he was doing the build. Will I need to buy additional cables, or will the components I buy come with all the necessary cables?

-What is the advantage of buying a more expensive motherboard if there are ones that are cheaper yet have all the ports that I will need?

I know these are very elementary questions, but they are so simple that I can't really find answers on the internet for them!



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Related resources
May 31, 2012 4:06:59 AM

All the wires of your case should have a corresponding plug in any modern motherboard. The more important things is to ensure that your CPU matches the socket of your motherboard. For example, for an i5 3570k, you will need a motherboard with the LGA 1155 socket.

You should not need extra cables.

More expensive motherboards has features you probably do not need. Just make sure that the motherboard you choose has the features you want and need.
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May 31, 2012 4:32:30 AM

Thanks for the reply.

I did some reading on overclocking, and it seems somewhat dangerous (reduces life of processor, possibility of overheating, inefficient energy use, etc.), especially for beginners like me. Is the only real noticeable difference between the i5 k series and non-k series the ability to overclock? The most intense applications I intend to run are games. I won't be doing any video editing or anything else that will be too processor intensive. In this case, would be make more sense for me to save $35 and go with a core i5-2400 instead of the 2500k? I could put this money towards a better graphics card. Would this be a better investment?
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May 31, 2012 4:37:31 AM

Yes, the "k" means the processor is unlocked so that means you can overclock. If you don't plan to overclock, then just get the i5-2400. I would go with the i5-3550 though. It's the newer generation of Intel processors plus it performs better compared to the previous generation i5 for less power consumption.

Also, I saw that you were thinking of getting the gtx 570. I would suggest you get a Radeon 7850 instead. It performs similar to the gtx 570 but consumes less power and produces less heat.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 4:37:46 AM

I built my first computer with zero OC knowledge and OCed my 2500k to 4.5 GHz and temps stayed in the low 60Cs. It is not dangerous or hard if you test each OC.
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May 31, 2012 4:42:16 AM

azeem40 said:
I built my first computer with zero OC knowledge and OCed my 2500k to 4.5 GHz and temps stayed in the low 60Cs. It is not dangerous or hard if you test each OC.


I guess the real question is will I really need to overclock. I don't intend to do anything too intensive other than gaming (games like Crysis, GTA IV, COD). Will OC give me any noticeable advantage in this situation? Or should I put the money towards a better graphics card?
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 4:51:34 AM

You can afford the i5-2500k and a Radeon 7850 on your budget. The only other GPU worth it atm is the GTX 670, but that is $150 out of the way.

From newegg:

i5-2500k $220
ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 MOBO $122
Hyper 212 EVO $35
2x4GB Crucial Ballistix sport 1600 MHz ~$45
Sapphire Radeon 7850 $260 @ amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Radeon-PCI-Express-Graph...

1TB Seagate Barracuda $100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX Pro550W PSU $75 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If not SLI/CFing, get the above.
Note: SLI/CF is running multiple NVIDIA/AMD GPUs to improve performance in games that support it. Only worth it on the newest gen of cards.

or

XFX Pro650W PSU $97 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The above is if you're CF/SLIng.

Review for the 650W PSU, which also applies to the 550W:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...


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May 31, 2012 4:53:31 AM

l0v3rboi said:
Yes, the "k" means the processor is unlocked so that means you can overclock. If you don't plan to overclock, then just get the i5-2400. I would go with the i5-3550 though. It's the newer generation of Intel processors plus it performs better compared to the previous generation i5 for less power consumption.

Also, I saw that you were thinking of getting the gtx 570. I would suggest you get a Radeon 7850 instead. It performs similar to the gtx 570 but consumes less power and produces less heat.


The Ivy Bridge processors are only 10 dollars or so more than their previous-generation counterparts, so I will probably go with Ivy Bridge. There are two models I am considering: i5-3450 and i5-3550. The 3450 is 3.1 Ghz while the 3550 is 3.3 Ghz. Is the .2 Ghz worth the extra 10 dollars? Also, if I were to go with either of these two, is it ok to use the stock fan?

As for the gtx, I was actually thinking of going with the gtx 560 (not 560). What would be the best graphics card to pair with the i5-3550 (or i5-3450)?
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 4:55:54 AM

See my above post.
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May 31, 2012 4:59:48 AM

winterwind_23 said:
The Ivy Bridge processors are only 10 dollars or so more than their previous-generation counterparts, so I will probably go with Ivy Bridge. There are two models I am considering: i5-3450 and i5-3550. The 3450 is 3.1 Ghz while the 3550 is 3.3 Ghz. Is the .2 Ghz worth the extra 10 dollars? Also, if I were to go with either of these two, is it ok to use the stock fan?

As for the gtx, I was actually thinking of going with the gtx 560 (not 560). What would be the best graphics card to pair with the i5-3550 (or i5-3450)?


Either one of those processors would work fine. Remember that for a gaming build, the noticeable performance gains would be from having a better GPU. That being said, I would echo what azeem40 said: Radeon 7850 is the way to go for your budget! Also, since it seems you're pretty set on not OC'ing, you can use the savings on the MoBo to get this GPU.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 5:00:19 AM

At this moment in time a better graphics card will give you more bang for the buck when gaming. That may not be the case in the future which is the reason some people get k processors and don't immediately overclock. It's a minor step in attempting to "future-proof".
But with current games, overclocking would not provide any real perceptible difference.
Getting a SSD for sytem/boot drive, yeah, that'll make a difference (not specifically in your gaming experience but) in load times, updates, etc...
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May 31, 2012 5:04:14 AM

azeem40 said:
You can afford the i5-2500k and a Radeon 7850 on your budget. The only other GPU worth it atm is the GTX 670, but that is $150 out of the way.

From newegg:

i5-2500k $220
ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 MOBO $122
Hyper 212 EVO $35
2x4GB Crucial Ballistix sport 1600 MHz ~$45
Sapphire Radeon 7850 $260 @ amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Radeon-PCI-Express-Graph...

1TB Seagate Barracuda $100 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX Pro550W PSU $75 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If not SLI/CFing, get the above.
Note: SLI/CF is running multiple NVIDIA/AMD GPUs to improve performance in games that support it. Only worth it on the newest gen of cards.

or

XFX Pro650W PSU $97 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The above is if you're CF/SLIng.

Review for the 650W PSU, which also applies to the 550W:
http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...


I think this is a little more than I want to spend. The total comes out to $857, but I will still need to purchase a monitor (~$200) and then the OS ($100 for Windows Home Premium).
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 5:07:08 AM

Actually, a good monitor can be found for as little as $150. Just down the GPU to a 6870 and the CPU to an i3-2120 and you can get it.
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May 31, 2012 5:09:59 AM

l0v3rboi said:
Either one of those processors would work fine. Remember that for a gaming build, the noticeable performance gains would be from having a better GPU. That being said, I would echo what azeem40 said: Radeon 7850 is the way to go for your budget! Also, since it seems you're pretty set on not OC'ing, you can use the savings on the MoBo to get this GPU.


How can I tell if a motherboard will be compatible with a particular GPU?
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 5:11:21 AM

The MOBO has nothing to do with compatibility of desktop GPUs.
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May 31, 2012 5:16:33 AM

GPU's are plugged in PCI Express slots. All modern motherboards have PCI Express slots so you don't have to worry about that.
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May 31, 2012 5:16:55 AM

azeem40 said:
The MOBO has nothing to do with compatibility of desktop GPUs.


lov3rboi mentioned that I can use the money saved on the process to put towards a motherboard for the GPU, so I assumed that I needed a different (more expensive) motherboard in order to support the more powerful GPU. Is this not the case?

Edit: answered above!
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 5:18:18 AM

It isn't. :) 
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May 31, 2012 5:24:15 AM

Will I really need the HD 7850 if I only intend to use a 1920x1080 resolution screen?
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May 31, 2012 5:27:01 AM

You don't need the Radeon 7850. However, it is the GPU with the best performance for the price.
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May 31, 2012 5:30:19 AM

What would be one step below the Radeon 7850?
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May 31, 2012 5:37:36 AM

I think its the 7770. However, performance is pretty low for your budget. The GTX 560 is a better card or the Radeon 6870.
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a b 4 Gaming
May 31, 2012 5:40:11 AM

One step down is the 6950 and 560ti. Another step down is the 6870. Another step down is 560 non ti. Then 6850, then 7770.
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May 31, 2012 1:52:25 PM

I have decided to go with this CPU and GPU:

Core i5-3450
Sapphire Radeon HD 7850

For the PSU, will this 500W Cooler Master be sufficient: http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-eXtreme-Series-RS50...

The PSU I listed above seems to be the cheapest with good reviews on Amazon. Is 500W going to be enough?

I am planning on getting a 500gb 7200 rpm hard drive. Can I just buy the cheapest/hightest reviewed one on Amazon and be safe? Can this principle be applied to memory as well?
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May 31, 2012 2:53:26 PM

Yes, 500W is going to be enough. I wouldn't cheap out on the PSU though. It is the most important part of your pc. If it fails, you can fry your entire computer. I think this one is a very good PSU though more expensive:
http://www.amazon.com/PC-Power-Cooling-Silencer-compati...

This one is also good:
http://www.amazon.com/OCZ-ModXStream-Modular-High-Perfo...

I think you can get the cheapest RAM you can. Here are the specs of the ideal RAM: 1600Mhz Cl9 1.5V. Also, try to get 4Gb x 2 instead of a single 8 Gb.
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June 1, 2012 2:43:58 AM

This might be a stupid question, but does the motherboard include an ethernet connecter so I can get online? How about a wireless card?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 2:45:42 AM

It has a NIC onboard.
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June 1, 2012 4:56:46 AM

Ok so parts I've decided on so far:

CPU: Intel core i5-3540 ($190)

GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 ($260) - http://www.amazon.com/Sapphire-Radeon-PCI-Express-Graph...

PSU: 430 Watt Corsaire CX430V2 ($45) - http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-430-Watt-Certified-Compat...

RAM: Crucial 8GB ($45) - http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-204-pin-SODIMM-PC3-10600-... (thoughts on this RAM? It has 321 5-star reviews out of 361 reviews on Amazon)

Hard Drive: I am planning on 500GB 7200 RPM. Does it matter which hard drive I get as long as it is 7200 RPM? Are certain brands more reliable? Are there certain features I should look out for?

Optical Drive: Can I just get something super cheap? ($21) http://www.amazon.com/Sony-AD-7280S-0B-Internal-Drive-B...

Case: I was thinking the Gladiator 600 ($57) http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-RC-600-KKN1-GP-Glad... Will this fit the HD 7850?

Motherboard: What is the advantage of paying more for a nicer motherboard? Can I just get a bare bones motherboard that will be compatible with all my components? Any recommendations?

Anything else that I'm missing?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 7:22:57 AM

winterwind_23 said:
Ok so parts I've decided on so far:

PSU: 430 Watt Corsaire CX430V2 ($45) - http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-430-Watt-Certified-Compat...

I would bump this to at least a 500W

winterwind_23 said:

RAM: Crucial 8GB ($45) - http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-204-pin-SODIMM-PC3-10600-... (thoughts on this RAM? It has 321 5-star reviews out of 361 reviews on Amazon)

Wait until you chose your motherboard compatibility is an issue there

winterwind_23 said:

Hard Drive: I am planning on 500GB 7200 RPM. Does it matter which hard drive I get as long as it is 7200 RPM? Are certain brands more reliable? Are there certain features I should look out for?

Western Digital and Seagate are good brands, SATA III is nice but not needed

winterwind_23 said:

Optical Drive: Can I just get something super cheap? ($21) http://www.amazon.com/Sony-AD-7280S-0B-Internal-Drive-B...

That's about how much I spend on my optical drives

winterwind_23 said:

Motherboard: What is the advantage of paying more for a nicer motherboard? Can I just get a bare bones motherboard that will be compatible with all my components? Any recommendations?

Motherboards come in various levels, from entry level to Enthusiast. An entry level board will usually have an lesser chipset, minimal connections, lower grade electronics and then as you progress into the higher level of boards, they will have higher quality parts on them, more connections, more capable chipset (perhaps) and lots of whistles and bells (most of which few people need but lots of us want)
When deciding on a motherboard, there are a myriad of questions you'll be considering (most to do with connectivity)
Do you want built in video? (I like video on the motherboard personally)
Do you want 5+ channel sound?
Do you want USB 3.0 (it's the latest/greatest) - do you want internal USB 3.0 (does your case front have USB 3.0?)
Do you want Firewire? If you don't have any perifrials that use firewire, then no.
the questions continue...
My only recommendation along those lines is to look at mobos with the Z68 or Z77 chipset and look for features you want
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 7:34:48 AM

+1 to all but the RAM; that RAM is compatible.
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June 1, 2012 5:47:30 PM

C12Friedman said:
I would bump this to at least a 500W


Wait until you chose your motherboard compatibility is an issue there


Western Digital and Seagate are good brands, SATA III is nice but not needed


That's about how much I spend on my optical drives


Motherboards come in various levels, from entry level to Enthusiast. An entry level board will usually have an lesser chipset, minimal connections, lower grade electronics and then as you progress into the higher level of boards, they will have higher quality parts on them, more connections, more capable chipset (perhaps) and lots of whistles and bells (most of which few people need but lots of us want)
When deciding on a motherboard, there are a myriad of questions you'll be considering (most to do with connectivity)
Do you want built in video? (I like video on the motherboard personally)
Do you want 5+ channel sound?
Do you want USB 3.0 (it's the latest/greatest) - do you want internal USB 3.0 (does your case front have USB 3.0?)
Do you want Firewire? If you don't have any perifrials that use firewire, then no.
the questions continue...
My only recommendation along those lines is to look at mobos with the Z68 or Z77 chipset and look for features you want


I don't really need USB 3.0 or Firewire. You recommended the ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 MOBO earlier. Does this have 5+ surround sound?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 6:34:40 PM

It is compatible with 7.1.
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June 1, 2012 7:34:20 PM

azeem40 said:
It is compatible with 7.1.


I will go with ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 MOBO for the motherboard then. Is this compatible with the Gladiator 600 case? Will the Sapphire Radeon HD 7850 fit inside this case?

Now I need to decide on a monitor. I was thinking on getting a 32" 1080p HDTV to use as a monitor. This way, I can watch Hulu and play games on it, as well as do work. I will probably be sitting 3-4 feet away. Is this a good way to go, or should I get a 24" 1080p computer monitor?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 9:00:23 PM

the ASRock Extreme3 Gen3 Z68 is a nice mobo and it will fit in the Gladiator case (the 7850 will fit also).
I'm using a 46" LCD TV as a monitor, it works but you do lose some quality doing that (your refresh rate will not exceed 60Hz regardless of your TV's "capability"). If you watch a lot of High Def movies and want as much clarity as possible (sometimes too much), the monitor would be the way to go.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 1, 2012 9:50:00 PM

23" is better for 1080p.
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June 2, 2012 2:27:40 AM

I was thinking about getting this case instead of the Gladiator 600: http://www.amazon.com/Cooler-Master-Elite-Window-RC-430.... It's a bit less expensive, and has a side window, which I think is pretty cool. I haven't heard too many good things about Cooler Master on this forum, though. Will this case be ok with my components? Is it compatible with my motherboard?
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June 2, 2012 3:00:03 AM

Newegg has the Sapphire in stock, the OC edition is definitely worth it, but if you can't afford the extra $10, you can just OC the regular version for $10 less.

The fans on the Sapphire are great.


For case, you may as well just get the Antec 300. It's very good for it's price and has a good amount of reviews.

Definitely stress the cost of that OS though... consider what you could do with that $99.
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June 2, 2012 4:06:26 AM

and don't forget, a second hard disk is one of the best performance upgrades you can get, system wise.
Overall, good build so far, I can safely say I've mastered the budget, low power gaming build (my last was $680 all together), and your on the right track, but you can find 550 and 650 watt PSUs for really good prices on NEWEGG, would recommend going with one of those just in case you need the headroom.

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

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 2, 2012 6:07:10 AM

spladam said:
and don't forget, a second hard disk is one of the best performance upgrades you can get, system wise.
Overall, good build so far, I can safely say I've mastered the budget, low power gaming build (my last was $680 all together), and your on the right track, but you can find 550 and 650 watt PSUs for really good prices on NEWEGG, would recommend going with one of those just in case you need the headroom.

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

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


Do you mind sharing your $680 build?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 2, 2012 6:27:41 AM

That monitor doesn't have sound so HDMI would be wasted but it does have DVI which is basically the same as HDMI but without sound.
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!