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~$1000 Budget - Gaming/Balanced Build

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June 7, 2012 2:05:33 PM

I want build a gaming rig that is powerful now but also is "future proof" and upgradable. I intend to get an SSD later but didn't want to include it in the initial launch of the build.


Approximate Purchase Date: I intend to watch prices and buy pieces over the next month or two.

Budget Range: ~$1000 - I would like to come under that number but will consider going over if it makes sense and is compelling.

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming - Performance without sacrificing utility

Parts Not Required: Not concerned about mouse or keyboard for this discussion.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I will order from just about any reputable dealer though I would like to minimize that due to shipping costs. I also have a Micro Center and Fry's local.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences: I am definitely an Intel and Nvidia guy. Not saying I wouldn't use an ATI card but I do tend to shy away. I guess Nvidia is just familiar and known.

Overclocking: Yes - Not to extreme but I definitely expect to push my system above the standard/stock settings.

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe in the future. I want to be sure what I build keeps that as an option with fewer part replacement.

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 (I will need to purchase the Monitor)

Additional Comments: I do prefer a quiet computer but not at the price tag that some components come with. I do like to keep it in mind.


Here is what I have come up with on my own after a little reading:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($189.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($32.12 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G45 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($134.42 @ NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($79.99 @ Adorama)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 1GB Video Card ($209.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($52.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: Antec 650W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Adorama)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
Monitor: Acer G235HAbd 23.0" Monitor ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($98.99 @ B&H)
Total: $1083.45
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-06-07 10:01 EDT-0400)


Thank you for your time, your advice or your criticism. Either or both are welcome.
June 7, 2012 2:24:29 PM

You have made solid choices, and you're already a bit over your target budget. I also guess that you're not super comfortable with AMD cards. But the 7850 would be a good upgrade over the 560 Ti. The 7850 uses less power, is very overclockable (to approach 7950-type performance), runs cool, and also has double the VRAM. For that you'll pay about $40 more. Here's a comparison for a 7850 running at stock clocks: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/549?vs=547 (Of course the 560 Ti can also be overclocked, but the 7850 has a truly exceptional amount of OC headroom.) You can see the 7850 has a pretty consistent edge across many games, though it does lose a little in BF3, where nvidia cards always seem to do better.

edit: oh yes, and if you're committed to nvidia and the $210 price point, get this 480 rather than the 560 Ti. You won't regret it. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The only other thing you might consider is an SSD, but that's probably better as a future upgrade rather than as something to get right now.
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June 7, 2012 2:31:25 PM

I just built a very similar computer, except I used the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro and I would absolutely recommend it. The user interface with the ASUS board is outstanding. It's a little more expensive: NCIX, however you could save some money on the OS, you can find them elsewhere.
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June 7, 2012 2:41:56 PM

motorneuron said:
You have made solid choices, and you're already a bit over your target budget. I also guess that you're not super comfortable with AMD cards. But the 7850 would be a good upgrade over the 560 Ti. The 7850 uses less power, is very overclockable (to approach 7950-type performance), runs cool, and also has double the VRAM. For that you'll pay about $40 more. Here's a comparison for a 7850 running at stock clocks: http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/549?vs=547 (Of course the 560 Ti can also be overclocked, but the 7850 has a truly exceptional amount of OC headroom.) You can see the 7850 has a pretty consistent edge across many games, though it does lose a little in BF3, where nvidia cards always seem to do better.

edit: oh yes, and if you're committed to nvidia and the $210 price point, get this 480 rather than the 560 Ti. You won't regret it. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The only other thing you might consider is an SSD, but that's probably better as a future upgrade rather than as something to get right now.



Yeah, I am hopeful that I can find sales and still come under $1,000.

While I am not 100% comfortable with AMD I am not against it. The benchmark you provided was compelling. I also checked out the comparison of the 480 vs 560 Ti and I was impressed. I didn't think it was that much better with an older architecture and at the same price point.

I do intend to get an SSD later. I was thinking of the Samsung 830 128GB. I read a review indicating that it does not use the Sandforce chip and is less effective by data type.

Thank you for your feedback and advice!
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June 7, 2012 2:43:55 PM

That $1000 system builder is a great build, but he said he wanted to OC, and that processor isn't what he wants for that. Plus he can already get the i5-3570k for about the same price using the microcenter deal, in which case it makes sense to go for the Z77 and OC it, but then he also needs a cooler. So you wind up with a bit more expenditure. For pure gaming, it is true that the 7970 build will wreck a 560 Ti build, but it might be too much money. If he's willing to spend a bit more though, of course the 670 is a great choice.
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June 7, 2012 2:45:40 PM

jboots21 said:
I just built a very similar computer, except I used the ASUS P8Z77-V Pro and I would absolutely recommend it. The user interface with the ASUS board is outstanding. It's a little more expensive: NCIX, however you could save some money on the OS, you can find them elsewhere.


I would agree that board is amazing. And I am a fan of Asus. However, it offers a lot of features that exceed my intended use of the system. The price point just doesn't make sense for me.

In general, I prefer to pay for the licenses I use. For one thing, it ensures I continue to receive quality software and products.
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June 7, 2012 2:51:19 PM

angaddev said:
Use this build
http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/overclock-radeon-hd-7970-...
but change the 7970 to a 670 and maybe upgrade the mobo and ram



I actually didn't much care for that build. I felt it was too weighted towards the GPU and gave little consideration to overall performance. Plus, its a dead end. To upgrade you would end up replacing everything but the GPU.

In short, I would change nearly everything on that list and it would end up looking nothing like it. I didn't even like the choice for the case.

As an experiment and benchmarking scenario, I found it useful. But not as a real world system that would fit my tastes...
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June 7, 2012 2:58:17 PM

jgardner88 said:
I would agree that board is amazing. And I am a fan of Asus. However, it offers a lot of features that exceed my intended use of the system. The price point just doesn't make sense for me.

In general, I prefer to pay for the licenses I use. For one thing, it ensures I continue to receive quality software and products.


Fair enough. The only other thing I'd suggest would be a few case fans depending on how much you plan to OC. I have the HAF 912 and the stock fans aren't the best. But you can pick up Coolermaster 120mm case fans for like 8$ on NCIX or other sites.
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June 7, 2012 3:09:14 PM

jgardner88 said:
While I am not 100% comfortable with AMD I am not against it. The benchmark you provided was compelling. I also checked out the comparison of the 480 vs 560 Ti and I was impressed. I didn't think it was that much better with an older architecture and at the same price point.


There are some caveats with the 480--it provides a less clear upgrade path, since running two of them in SLI would mean a huge amount of heat/noise/power and would probably require a bigger PSU. It also draws a ton of power (literally 100W more than the 7850), so the 7850 will eventually pay for itself. But it's a great card for the money right now, and it will more than best the 560 Ti. I would still lean toward the 7850 myself, but the 480 is a good choice too.
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June 7, 2012 3:19:44 PM

Your build looks great!
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June 7, 2012 3:28:32 PM

jboots21 said:
Fair enough. The only other thing I'd suggest would be a few case fans depending on how much you plan to OC. I have the HAF 912 and the stock fans aren't the best. But you can pick up Coolermaster 120mm case fans for like 8$ on NCIX or other sites.


Thank you for the heads up!

Do you think I should replace the fans or just add a couple?

Were you satisfied with the air filters offered with the HAF 912?
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June 7, 2012 3:31:14 PM

motorneuron said:
There are some caveats with the 480--it provides a less clear upgrade path, since running two of them in SLI would mean a huge amount of heat/noise/power and would probably require a bigger PSU. It also draws a ton of power (literally 100W more than the 7850), so the 7850 will eventually pay for itself. But it's a great card for the money right now, and it will more than best the 560 Ti. I would still lean toward the 7850 myself, but the 480 is a good choice too.


I did notice the power usage and heat for the 480 was much higher than the 560. With the smaller form of the HAF 912 that can become an issue if I consider SLI at some future point. I think I will delve deeper into the 7850 instead. You have convinced me that if I can't make the jump to the 670 then it might be the best option for a year or two.

Do you think the 650w PSU will be sufficient to overclock the 7850?
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June 7, 2012 4:02:12 PM

Yeah the 7850 will definitely run on a 650W PSU, even overclocked. OCing it heavily won't add more than about 20W to its power consumption. For comparison, here's that 20W difference on a 7870 (which is a similar, but not identical, card) clocked at 1200 MHz compared to its stock 1000 MHz: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-7870-overclock-...
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June 7, 2012 4:23:07 PM

There's not a lot of fat in my build to allow for a $40 increase in price so I will have to hope for a sale or price reductions over the next month or so.

Thanks again for you assistance!
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June 7, 2012 5:11:27 PM

jgardner88 said:
Thank you for the heads up!

Do you think I should replace the fans or just add a couple?

Were you satisfied with the air filters offered with the HAF 912?


I just added a few(3 to be exact) on top of the existing and so far my temperatures have been very low.(<50 degrees Celsius with significant O.C.) There are air filters on the bottom and front but not on the side intake. I haven't noticed any problems with them as of yet.
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June 7, 2012 5:57:17 PM

loops said:
dont use that build. it is dated.


Its dated in terms of some of the components used. But the it was designed and built in the last week or so.

Its not a configuration or intent that I would ever shoot for in any case.
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June 7, 2012 6:00:14 PM

There is no real reason to go past an 2500k / z68 build. The CM 212 is nice but you don't need to overclock out the door. I'd take the savings and move up to a 7850.

You could get a gtx 480 for 209.00 that will crush the 560 ti. It is a card that runs hot but does really well. Rather than SLIing the 480 down the line you could get an aftermarket GPU cooler and OC it. That would put in close to a gtx 580.

The 7850 is your best bet. Cut the cpu cooler if you have too for now. The gup ram on the 560 ti will not let you max out AA in large multiplayer maps in games like BF3. Skip the 560 ti if you can.

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June 7, 2012 6:08:17 PM

jgardner88 said:
Its dated in terms of some of the components used. But the it was designed and built in the last week or so.

Its not a configuration or intent that I would ever shoot for in any case.



it is a do over build and parts picked when the 670 was not out. For the same price now, you could get a 2500k,670,z68 build with a better case. That build at best is an experiment. It should not be a blue print.
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June 7, 2012 6:10:15 PM

jgardner88 said:
Its dated in terms of some of the components used. But the it was designed and built in the last week or so.

Its not a configuration or intent that I would ever shoot for in any case.



it is a do over build and parts picked when the 670 was not out. For the same price now, you could get a 2500k,670,z68 build with a better case. That build at best is an experiment. It should not be a blue print.
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a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2012 6:11:55 PM

I'd say there is. IVB is not hot at every OC.
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June 7, 2012 6:12:21 PM

loops said:
There is no real reason to go past an 2500k / z68 build. The CM 212 is nice but you don't need to overclock out the door. I'd take the savings and move up to a 7850.

You could get a gtx 480 for 209.00 that will crush the 560 ti. It is a card that runs hot but does really well. Rather than SLIing the 480 down the line you could get an aftermarket GPU cooler and OC it. That would put in close to a gtx 580.

The 7850 is your best bet. Cut the cpu cooler if you have too for now. The gup ram on the 560 ti will not let you max out AA in large multiplayer maps in games like BF3. Skip the 560 ti if you can.



Because I have a local Micro Center, I can buy the new i5-3750k for $189.99. That is lower than any price I have seen for the 2500k except at MC ($169). For $20, it seems advantageous to future proof my system, to a point I know, with the latest processor and Z77 chipset.

You think I could go with the stock fan if I don't overclock and use that money for the GPU? If so, that is an interesting thought.

I see you too vote for a 480 or 7850 as a better option over the 560 Ti. Thank you! I am convinced.
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June 7, 2012 6:17:07 PM

azeem40 said:
I'd say there is. IVB is not hot at every OC.



I apologize for my ignorance. But I don't know what you mean by IVB. Are you referring to the need for a CPU Cooler better than the stock fan? Or are you referring to a reason for going beyond the 2500k processor?

Thanks.

*** I feel stupid now. IVB = Eye Vee (Ivy) Bridge, right?
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a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2012 6:19:12 PM

Ivy bridge processor.
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June 7, 2012 6:42:18 PM

Since you are buying your CPU from Microcenter, go ask them if they have a CPU/mobo deal like they normally do with 2500k and 2600k (prior to ivy bridge release). Normally they give $40 off the motherboard and you can get a good one for $100 after a discount. If you are in CA, try checking Tigerdirect for other parts because of no tax and $10 off if you use VISA (not sure if that expired already). Frys will normally price match, but again tax kills the price.

CPU/MOBO - Microcenter
heatsink - Microcenter or fry's might have it for $20
imo you can get a better powersupply and graphics card for those prices you listed.
Keep doing research and you'll be rewarded well :) 
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a b 4 Gaming
June 7, 2012 6:43:52 PM

It is $50 off. :) 
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June 7, 2012 6:46:36 PM

If you are tight on budget, you can skip buying a heatsink and put the money towards a better graphics card. Stock fan/no overclock is good enough and most likely it would be the gpu that will bottleneck you.

check slickdeals.net for deals for components
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June 7, 2012 6:54:26 PM

Go check other cases too.. HAF 912 was my first one and although it's big and cool, it's such a dust magnet. I switched to Micro-atx Rosewill R101 (cheaper too) because I carry my desktop over to my friend's.. to my big surprise my rig didnt get any warmer than my HAF 912. The rosewill could also fit Hyper 212+ heatsink... though you'd probably need a modular psu since there's really not much space.. big GPU wont fit either lol I'm lucky my XFX dual fan 6950 fit just fine.

Antec cases are pretty good too.. I forgot the model number 300 or 900? They're about $30 most of the time.
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June 7, 2012 7:09:32 PM

noobzilla771 said:
Since you are buying your CPU from Microcenter, go ask them if they have a CPU/mobo deal like they normally do with 2500k and 2600k (prior to ivy bridge release). Normally they give $40 off the motherboard and you can get a good one for $100 after a discount. If you are in CA, try checking Tigerdirect for other parts because of no tax and $10 off if you use VISA (not sure if that expired already). Frys will normally price match, but again tax kills the price.

CPU/MOBO - Microcenter
heatsink - Microcenter or fry's might have it for $20
imo you can get a better powersupply and graphics card for those prices you listed.
Keep doing research and you'll be rewarded well :) 



I will do that. In the past I always walked out with some deal or national brand equivalent item that I didn't even know about.

Thanks for the help!
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June 7, 2012 7:11:51 PM

noobzilla771 said:
If you are tight on budget, you can skip buying a heatsink and put the money towards a better graphics card. Stock fan/no overclock is good enough and most likely it would be the gpu that will bottleneck you.

check slickdeals.net for deals for components



Someone else suggested that I skip overclocking for a bit, use the stock cooler and put that money towards a 7850. They convinced me in any case to skip over the 560 Ti in favor of the 7850 or 480.
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June 7, 2012 7:13:35 PM

noobzilla771 said:
Go check other cases too.. HAF 912 was my first one and although it's big and cool, it's such a dust magnet. I switched to Micro-atx Rosewill R101 (cheaper too) because I carry my desktop over to my friend's.. to my big surprise my rig didnt get any warmer than my HAF 912. The rosewill could also fit Hyper 212+ heatsink... though you'd probably need a modular psu since there's really not much space.. big GPU wont fit either lol I'm lucky my XFX dual fan 6950 fit just fine.

Antec cases are pretty good too.. I forgot the model number 300 or 900? They're about $30 most of the time.


I may be willing to leave my beloved Nvidia for an AMD GPU but I don't think I could make the transition to a mATX. I love tinkering with the bits too much and I have big hands.
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June 7, 2012 7:33:29 PM

I think going with the stock cooler for now is fine, as long as you're willing to take things apart a bit when you do decide to get a better cooler. It might be a little annoying to do once everything else is set up (though depending on your preferences, that's part of the fun), since you'll probably have to take the mobo out of the case to get at the back, and you will also likely have to detach some other cables and stuff. But it's up to you!

If we had a better idea when the more mid-range Kepler cards were coming and what the specs were going to be, then it might also make sense to wait for those, either because they would be good cards or because they'd cause price drops in the 7850 or 7870. Unfortunately, that's all a bit speculative still. (The 480 is a steal at $210, of course, but there are also good reasons not to want that card.)
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June 7, 2012 8:22:40 PM

For $100 you can get a very nice computer look here
And if you go to MC then you can get a discount on the motherboard for buying it with the i5 3570K, and you may need to switch the RAM for the G Skill Ares for clearance issues.
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June 8, 2012 11:57:09 AM

polishboy1098 said:
For $100 you can get a very nice computer look here
And if you go to MC then you can get a discount on the motherboard for buying it with the i5 3570K, and you may need to switch the RAM for the G Skill Ares for clearance issues.


I would absolutely love to get my hands on a GTX 670. Unfortunately, your build does not include a monitor or OS which I have to include in my budget.

I have heard several people mention that Micro Center offers a discount on the motherboard if you buy a processor. Is that an all the time offer? I can't find anything about that on their site. Can I get confirmation of this?

Thanks again for all the help and advice!
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June 8, 2012 12:05:41 PM

motorneuron said:
I think going with the stock cooler for now is fine, as long as you're willing to take things apart a bit when you do decide to get a better cooler. It might be a little annoying to do once everything else is set up (though depending on your preferences, that's part of the fun), since you'll probably have to take the mobo out of the case to get at the back, and you will also likely have to detach some other cables and stuff. But it's up to you!

If we had a better idea when the more mid-range Kepler cards were coming and what the specs were going to be, then it might also make sense to wait for those, either because they would be good cards or because they'd cause price drops in the 7850 or 7870. Unfortunately, that's all a bit speculative still. (The 480 is a steal at $210, of course, but there are also good reasons not to want that card.)


I think I will pass over the 480 in favor of the 7850, assuming I can fit it in the budget. I believe that I can if I am patient and diligent. My concern is the lack of support for DirectX 11. Not an immediate concern, I know, but I don't like the idea of potentially needing a new video card too soon.
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June 8, 2012 12:13:48 PM

motorneuron said:
The 480 supports DirectX 11. See this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Or this initial review: http://www.hitechlegion.com/reviews/video-cards/3177-nv...

Of course, the 7850 is still a great choice, and (I think) probably the better one.



Well, damn. That's what I get for taking the word of my brother over looking it up myself. I guess the 480 is back in for consideration.

I really appreciate your help. Thanks again.
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!