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Need Advice on Gaming PC specs <$550

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June 7, 2012 3:51:44 AM

Hey guys!
I have never built a PC before and I'm quite excited/intimidated about undertaking this project. I've done some research regarding checking charts on cost-efficiency and read a bunch of reviews, but that just left me more conflicted when it comes to picking out the components and compatibility issues.
Please help me sort through this mess! Thank you so much :) 

I'm not going to overclock (probably going to bust up the pc anyways lol) and my budget is $550 for gaming (at least without lag and on med-high quality)

Here are the potential specs:

CPU: Intel Pentium G620 2.6GHz Dual-Core Processor
[I've heard that AMD Athlon II X4 631 Quad-Core is a good alternative as well]

CPU Cooler: Zalman CNPS9500 AT Ball Bearing CPU Cooler
[there are probably better coolers, I picked this using the "pcpartpicker" site]

Motherboard: Asus P8H61-M (REV 3.0) Micro ATX LGA1155

Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2x4 GB) DDR3 - 1600 Memory
[other option: G. Skill Value Series 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3 - 1333 Memory]

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB 3.5" 7200 RPM Internal Hard Drive

Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 6770 1GB

Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer

I've already bought the case and power supply because there was a newegg combo deal and
I assumed there shouldn't be any compatibility problems with the shell and PSU.
Altogether, it was $70
Case: Rosewill Challenger ATX Mid Tower Case
PSU: Rosewill 550W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply

Here's the list for the approximate pricing: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/9z6E

Thank you again for any advice you can give me! I appreciate your time and effort :D 

- Joy
June 7, 2012 8:57:03 AM

Skip on getting that CPU cooler. That CPU is not going to get hot, the stock cooler isn't very loud, and you're not going to be able to overclock anyway.

What resolution are you going to be gaming at? The GTX 460 or HD 6850 are pretty good for that budget. Also have you checked out the system builder marathon $500 build?
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 7, 2012 8:58:08 AM

lycros said:
Skip on getting that CPU cooler. That CPU is not going to get hot, the stock cooler isn't very loud, and you're not going to be able to overclock anyway.

What resolution are you going to be gaming at? The GTX 460 or HD 6850 are pretty good for that budget. Also have you checked out the system builder marathon $500 build?

Right.. drop the CPU cooler, especially if you're not overclocking.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 7, 2012 9:13:09 AM

Edited
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June 7, 2012 9:43:26 AM

CPU + Mobo combo - i3 2120 + GIGABYTE GA-H61MA-D3V - http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
RAM - 2x 4GB DDR3 1600 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
HDD - SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ODD - Samsun DVD Burner - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GPU - Galaxy GTX 560 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

With promo code for the HDD the total comes to $476.94 before $15 rebate on the GPU.
So add your $70 case + psu the total is $546.94, under $550.

If you feel like spending a "little" extra, get an alternative GTX 560 or an HD 6870 - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Productcompare.aspx?Submi...|14-130-664^14-130-664-TS%2C14-161-396^14-161-396-TS
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June 7, 2012 8:14:13 PM

Your build also costs more.

It's easy to spend more money to get better performance.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 7, 2012 9:11:54 PM

Well, I'd wait for more input from the OP before getting too excited, but I will say to jump4joy that you said you don't want ultra settings, and are satisfied with med-high. The thing is, for your price budget, I think we can find something that will perform better than what you're looking at, and not break your bank.

My opinion on the subject of i3s vs Phenom IIs at the price points is that, the quad core Phenom II is the better buy. Yes the i3 has slightly stronger individual cores than the Phenom II, the PII has twice the cores.
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June 8, 2012 12:34:45 AM

Thank you guys so much for the replies.
I guess the first thing I'll address is the resolution... I'm not entirely too sure because the monitor I want to use isn't with me right now and I probably won't be able to find out until next week, but I'm assuming it's around 1024x768 or higher.

@nekulturny: I'm super stoked that you said I can find better components around my price budget because I'm actually planning on recording some gameplay and with fraps on, it will lower the quality to begin with.

Also I forgot to mention, I'll be using some Auto CAD and UDK so it's not solely a gaming comp I just assumed that with gaming as a requirement, it will be able to support any engineering kind of software as well.

Is this a reliable source of video card comparisons? http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/gpu_value.html

I'll decide between the Radeon 6850 and the GTX 460 after reviewing some gaming footage. Any more opinions between these two will be appreciated.

I won't be buying the cooler if it's useless so thank you for that save!

Regarding the memory... what difference does it make between 4GB and 8GB? I'm not sure what that would affect.

Crucial Ballistix sport 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Team 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'll go with this since it includes a 1-year extended warranty:
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Regarding the motherboard...
I guess it's between:

CPU + Mobo combo - i3 2120 + GIGABYTE GA-H61MA-D3V
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

and

AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
+
ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I may consider the GTX 480 only if my budget allows me to. I'll calculate the total and get back to you guys. Thank you so much again!

- Joy
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 1:01:43 AM

Howdy,

No PassMark is not a reliable comparison for much of anything.

Quote:
Also I forgot to mention, I'll be using some Auto CAD and UDK so it's not solely a gaming comp I just assumed that with gaming as a requirement, it will be able to support any engineering kind of software as well.


Well, even for a gaming rig I support the choice of the Phenom II over the i3, I support it even more for this sort of work. Most games currently only use 2 cores of a CPU, (Battlefield 3 multiplayer is pretty much the only game currently that can make use of a quad) but this can change as future games come out.

The i3 is a dual core that uses a technology called HyperThreading, which allows the CPU to "pretend" to have 4 cores, while its pretty efficient, its not quite the same as having 4 cores. Programs like CAD will favor a true quad as these are typically heavier threaded programs than games.

This can give you an idea of how the i3 stacks up against a Phenom II. the long and short of it is, every application where more than 2 cores is utilized the Phenom II will perform better. However, it does show clearly that the individual core performance is stronger in the i3.

http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/289?vs=362

Also, I know you said you're not really interested in getting into overclocking, but even so I would consider changing the multiplier on the Phenom II 965 to 18x or 18.5x. You can do this without an aftermarket CPU cooler as this effectively at 18x would give you the same as if you had paid more for a Phenom II 975 or at 18.5x the same settings if you bought a Phenom II 980 model (they're the same CPU with the same stepping revision and they ship with the same stock cooler). These changes would bump your CPU up to 3.6GHZ or 3.7GHZ respectively.

Back to the thing about benchmarks, most of them should be taken with a grain of salt in my opinion. Theres so many factors that can go into system performance, its impossible for a review site to test them all. For example recording games while playing them you'd probably again want to go with a quad core CPU.


As to the comparison of your combo i3 deal. The motherboard its bundled with quite frankly is probably junk. It looks like it has horrible reviews from newegg, and myself has had a bad experience with Gigabyte boards, I'm reluctant to recommend them anyway.

Featurewise, vs the Asrock 970 the Gigabyte H61 is a MicroATX board, which means its smaller. It only has 2 slots for RAM. It has less SATA ports (which doens't matter so much unless you wish to have multiple hard drives) It doesnt support Crossfire/Sli (if you ever decided to run 2 video cards). Overall, I'm just not very impressed with it.


Regarding the difference between 4GB and 8GB of RAM. If gaming is your only concern, 4GB will probably do you fine, if you get into a lot of CAD work you may find the 4GB is not quite up to the task.

The nice thing about the Asrock board, again it has 2 extra RAM slots, so you could get the 2x 2GB kit and add another later. Whereas with the Gigabyte board you'll either want to buy a single 4GB module for it, then add another later, or you'd be buying the 2x 2GB kit and having to replace it with a 2x 4GB kit later if you find the 4GB of RAM isn't cutting it.

On the video card, another card you could consider is a 6870, they run slightly more expensive than 6850s, and are a little bit better. They're not quite as good as the GTX 480s, but for most games, a 6870 is a very capable video card.

This is a decent website to compare video cards, like I said benches generally should be taken as a grain of salt, but they're a great source of good reference for sure:
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/372
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June 8, 2012 1:40:05 AM

I read some of the reviews on newegg about the GTX 480 it seems like a great buy but is it true it requires 600W? My PSU, which I've already ordered, is only 550W.

@nekulturny
Thanks for explaining the differences for me :) 
I'm pretty set on buying:
Team 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So I'm assuming this combination will be okay?
AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz Socket
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
+
ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I'm really paranoid about everything fitting together and being compatible haha
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June 8, 2012 1:59:32 AM

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz
$120
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Motherboard: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0
$85
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Memory: Team 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM
$41
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB
$75
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Optical Drive: SAMSUNG Internal DVD Writer 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW
$19
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
[any comments regarding this?]

Case: Rosewill Challenger ATX Mid Tower Case
PSU: Rosewill 550W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply
$70

Video Card: SAPPHIRE AMD Radeon HD 6870 1GB GDDR5 PCIE Graphics Card
$170
http://www.amazon.com/SAPPHIRE-Radeon-6870-GDDR5-Graphi...

I see the benefits of overclocking, but I'm still apprehensive since I'm not exactly tech-savvy. I've seen the guides out there, but they come with a bunch of precautionary warnings and it's a bit overwhelming haha

Total comes out to be $580... honestly $30 difference is fine, but dang it that gtx is looking so tempting right now :( 
haha thanks again for you super fast replies!
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:00:46 AM

The thing about those ratings is, while yes it is idea to have a 600 watt PSU as per recommendations by the manufacturer, they're generally cushinioning how much you actually need. Which actually is within CompTIA approved methods, (the general rule of thumb is to figure out how much wattage your system needs and add 30%)

While the Rosewill Hive 550W is not the best PSU on the market at the price point, it should be sufficient for powering a GTX 480 and a slightly overclocked Phenom II.

I would not be too paranoid about the actual building, as long as you read all of your documentation and take your time, watch some youtube videos on how to build computers and whatnot you should be fine. Ideally, I would invest in an anti-static wrist strap (they are a couple bucks from newegg). Although you can, I would avoid using magnetic tipped screwdrivers when installing computer components.

Probably the most "risky" thing you will be doing is installing the CPU, make sure you take note of how it is installed, it only goes in one way, the gold triangle should line up with the corresponding notch on the motherboard, the CPU should require zero force to insert into the socket.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:03:17 AM

Quote:
I see the benefits of overclocking, but I'm still apprehensive since I'm not exactly tech-savvy. I've seen the guides out there, but they come with a bunch of precautionary warnings and it's a bit overwhelming haha


Well, like I said, you're essentially going to be giving the 965 the same setting as if you were buying a 975 or 980 model depending on which setting you use.

The Phenom II C3 steppings (965, 975 980s) clockspeeds are figured as follows:

965- Base Clock 200 x 17 multiplier= 3.4GHZ
975- 200 x 18=3.6GHZ
980- 200 x 18.5=3.7GHZ

Yes overclocking voids your warranty, however, so long as you only modify this multiplier setting and monitor your temperatures until you're sure nothing is off, theres almost no risk of damage. Also, should something go wrong, short of you doing something incredibly stupid like jacking up the voltage to an ungodly rate, AMD is not going to argue with you about a warranty return (as long as you don't admit you were overclocking, they can't prove it)
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:05:22 AM

If its the PSU from his pcpartpicker link yes, its a hive 550.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:06:55 AM

Oh, I'm so sorry ma'am. See I'm like George of the Jungle calling everyone "fella".
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June 8, 2012 2:10:19 AM

So I made a huge mistake. :p 

For some odd reason, I thought I purchased the case and psu I mentioned above. I guess this is why you shouldn't have a bunch of tabs opened at once. While I was comparing cases and psu's I must have copied and pasted the wrong titles. So in reality I purchased these as the $70 combo deal:

RAIDMAX Helios ATX-819WB Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAIDMAX RX-600AF 600W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Will I need the extra case fans since this doesn't seem to have as many fans as the rosewill challenger one?
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June 8, 2012 2:12:47 AM

Quote:
*her*, she is female ;) 


/stalker lol jk

Looks like the 480 takes about ~260W (~22A) at full load.

The 6870 will take considerably less.
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June 8, 2012 2:15:10 AM

That raidmax has less amps on the 12v than the rosewill.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:15:58 AM

I agree, I would send the Raidmax PSU back, even if you have to pay newegg a restocking fee, I would do it.

The case is very nice, I would keep that, but it would be well worth considering a better quality power supply such as this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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June 8, 2012 2:18:27 AM

*sigh* just got a call back home... the case and psu just arrived haha
this is what I get for jumping at a discount (no pun intended) lol

the two that you suggested with the 480 seem to be over my budget though hmm.. let me get back to you about that... I'll see if I can push my budget up a bit ;) 

Are you just joking about the bang.. dead pc.. because I hate going through the return process and if I choose the 6870 will the case and psu really be that detrimental? :/ 
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June 8, 2012 2:27:15 AM

It's just if I'm considering the 480 I'd like to drive the other prices down more ;) 
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June 8, 2012 2:29:59 AM

nekulturny said:
Oh, I'm so sorry ma'am. See I'm like George of the Jungle calling everyone "fella".


By the way, don't worry about it haha... You guys replied so quickly, I completely skipped over this short convo :p  Thanks for your tips on assembling. If I run into any problems during the process, is it okay if I pm you for more info? :) 

You guys are awesome! I'm so glad my friend recommended this site to me <3
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:35:42 AM

Yes the Rosewill Challenger is a nice case.

AS far as the power supplies, no recon isn't joking, the problem with low quality power supplies is when they die, its usually a murder-suicide (meaning it can kill your motherboard, CPU, video card with it).

The Corsair Builder Series v2s are all very decent power supplies, regardless of which wattage you choose.

As far as cutting down your price of everything else to fit a 480 in the budget, really you're getting a hell of a deal. 480s were originally over $400 dollars, the reason they are so cheap now is that they are a couple generations old (Nvidia is now on the 6xx series), but clearly still very capable nevertheless.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:37:42 AM

jump4joy7 said:
By the way, don't worry about it haha... You guys replied so quickly, I completely skipped over this short convo :p  Thanks for your tips on assembling. If I run into any problems during the process, is it okay if I pm you for more info? :) 

You guys are awesome! I'm so glad my friend recommended this site to me <3

Sure if you need any additional help, no problem. And you're welcome.
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June 8, 2012 2:38:56 AM

Did you ever say what games you were going to play?
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:39:38 AM

Quote:
Not a joke...
I talk seriously about power supplies..

As opposed to anything else you talk about :o  bwahahahh! :lol:  :lol:  :lol: 
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June 8, 2012 2:41:40 AM

Thanks recon, I'll use the amazon site for the corsair, but I'll probably still go with a new video card. Time to total it all up again haha
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 2:43:46 AM

The 6870 is technically a generation old, (AMD graphics is on 7xxx series currently). But Lycos raises a good question, specifically what games are you looking to play? Or is it, just a "if I decide to game it would be nice to have the capability"?.. If the latter, I'd take the 6870 since it is cheaper. I went with a Zotac 550 TI Amp edition for the same reason, I should have gotten a 6870.
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June 8, 2012 2:58:47 AM

lycros said:
Did you ever say what games you were going to play?


No.. haha :D 

Skyrim, Minecraft, Amnesia, Limbo going to play Diablo III, possibly Ghost Recon and maybe Saints Row

I have a lot more on my list... the only thing preventing me from playing is this dilemma. LOL so I'd love to get it solved ASAP

Just filed a return... restocking fees suck :( 
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June 8, 2012 3:03:54 AM

So I'm assuming everything else on my list is okay to go?

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz

Motherboard: ASRock 970 EXTREME3 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0

Memory: Team 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue WD10EALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB

Optical Drive: SAMSUNG Internal DVD Writer 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW

Case: Rosewill Challenger ATX Mid Tower Case

PSU: Corsair 600w

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June 8, 2012 3:08:34 AM

Quote:
Saints row and skyrim point to the 480.


Alright alright you've convinced me LOL
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 3:17:18 AM

Honestly it depends on how high the resolution is. My boyfriend has a GTX 460, I'll have to check with him what settings he uses, but he plays his skyrim on it and hes never complained.

Its up to you really, Diablo 3 pretty much anything can handle that game. Battlefield 3 is probably the most video demanding game on the market today. Diablo 3 is just a little fart.
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June 8, 2012 3:22:47 AM

My gf uses a 550ti and I use a 6870 we both play at 1920 x 1080 and don't have any problems playing those games. Also using an i5-2400 and i5-2500k respectively.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 3:37:40 AM

Similar deal on my end, Max has the i5-2400 with a GTX 460.. My 550 Ti is overclocked 100mhz over the 900mhz reference card.
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June 8, 2012 3:39:36 AM

Total came out to be $483.86 without the graphics card :) 
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June 8, 2012 3:49:52 AM

mm I would say around $200
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 3:50:23 AM

If you got that, then you should be a go for Recon's 480.
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June 8, 2012 3:58:49 AM

yeah I know I will :p 
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June 8, 2012 4:01:18 AM

Do you know of any good sites that lay out a step-to-step guide of building a PC with most of these components? If not, I'll just keep looking around. You guys have helped me out a bunch already ^^
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 4:07:49 AM

*shudder* I cant believe that guy touched the lands on the CPU!!! *smacks his bald forehead*
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 4:11:04 AM

I'm watching the whole thing, if I disagree with anything he does, you know me, I'm an opinionated jerk, I'll be sure to let u know. :lol: 
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June 8, 2012 4:18:26 AM

nekulturny said:
I'm watching the whole thing, if I disagree with anything he does, you know me, I'm an opinionated jerk, I'll be sure to let u know. :lol: 


Perfect! opinionated jerks are the most useful <3 haha
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 4:25:50 AM

1. Hes using the spread method of the thermal compound. I wouldn't do it that way, either way, its irrelevant for Joy, since the AMD stock fan will have thermal compound pre-applied. Definitely should you ever have to reapply compound, do it the way Recon's AMD video shows.

2. *smacks the bald guy again* don't stick a screwdriver into your PCI slot to emphasize a point. LOL.

3. Don't be to paranoid about the front panel wires, yes they're a pain in the ass to wire up right, but motherboards have gotten better at labeling them since the time the video was made. You can't hurt anything if you criss-cross one.

4. I usually put the power supply in very first thing. It doesn't really matter, just a personal thing. If you find the case tight quarters to work in you can save it for last.

Just nitpicking, but overall his guide should get you through. And btw, that guy is extremely British.. Speaking of extremely British..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HWNNZGuldI
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 8, 2012 4:35:58 AM

Well, all I can say to that is , Don' you go rounin' roun to rero!!!
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