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$500 (Epic?) Gaming Computer

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June 17, 2012 1:45:17 AM

Without any purchases of peripherals (monitor, keyboard, mouse, etc.) I have came up with a shopping cart that certainly is worth it at a low price of $499.50. I'd like to know if there any bottlenecks/replacements/incompatibilities I should know about.
BTW: I'm using a 500GB HDD that I already have with several games installed + Windows 7 Ultimate.

Motherboard: $66.99 + $7.56 Shipping
ASRock 970DE3/U3S3 AM3+ AMD 770 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case: $44.99 - $10 MIR + Free Shipping
AZZA Orion 202 EVO Black / Red SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Processor/CPU: $139.99 + Free Shipping
AMD FX-4170 Zambezi 4.2GHz (4.3GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Quad-Core Desktop Processor FD4170FRGUBOX
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Power Supply/PSU (I'm sketchy about this one): $39.99 + Free Shipping
APEVIA ATX-CB700W 700W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready Power Supply - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Combo Deal (RAM + GPU): $219.98 - $10 MIR + Free Shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

GPU: SAPPHIRE 11188-22-20G Radeon HD 6950 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card (OC Edition)

RAM: AMD Entertainment Edition 4GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model AE34G1609U2



I'm really happy with these specs, especially with the free BF3, but I'm wondering if there's anything wrong like incompatible RAM or GPU can't fit in the case or PSU will fail in a week, anything like that. Bottlenecks aren't really a concern, but I'm glad I fit everything in.

After Mail-In Rebates and shipping fees, it all totals down to $499.50, which is perfectly in my budget.
If there are any replacements, I'd love to know. I also plan on flashing the 6950 to a 6970, possibly, and overclocking my CPU. Any/all suggestions would be appreciated. Thank you.

More about : 500 epic gaming computer

June 17, 2012 2:16:39 AM

Don't skimp on the PSU, get a better quality one but with lower total wattage.

You're AMD'd out so you should be good as far as compatibility is concerned, if you have any problems with the RAM you may have to simply go in & manually input the timing & such.

Looks ok for $500 but I think you're innards are gonna be running pretty hot, not too confident on the longevity of the build.
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June 17, 2012 2:23:29 AM

What's the minimum wattage I should get? I was worried about not being able to power 4.2GHz AND a 6950, so I tried to get the most for my money. What's a cheap ($40 if possible?) PSU I can get that will still work for this?
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June 17, 2012 2:25:37 AM

It is never advised to be cheap on a PSU. Get a quality 450+ from Corsair, Antec, Seasonic. It is the single most important piece of your PC.
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 2:33:45 AM

Don't buy the FX-4170. It is just an FX-4100 with the voltage and frequency increased, IE it is not even higher binned, so it's a waste of money. If you want AMD, then either get a Phenom II x4 or get the FX-4100 and overclock them.

Also, you should have a 550w minimum for your PSU wattage. I'd recommend a 600w even more, but make sure that either way, it is a Corsair, Antec, or Seasonic brand PSU. As has been said, do not skimp on your PSU. Ever. It would probably be the greatest mistake that you can make in a computer. If you had an i3 CPU instead of an FX, I'd then recommend getting a 500w PSU, but with the FX, that is pushing your luck. Keep in mind that in games, the i3 would still slightly beat even a 4.2GHz FX CPU in most games and setting configurations.
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June 17, 2012 2:34:24 AM

Haha me and you have very similar builds. I just bought my parts today too. I got the same Mobo and graphics card. I got amd 965 black edition though. Bought 8gb of ram and got this PSU http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I also recommend getting the Coolmaster hyper 212 heatsink.
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June 17, 2012 2:35:25 AM

No love for Enermax?
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 2:39:18 AM

An FX-4100/4170 is PERFECTLY capable of keeping up with a 6850 video card. Lets not bring the Intel/AMD stuff here.. Honestly, it gets old.

And 500 watts is PERFECTLY fine for an FX-4100/4170 and a 6850 video card. Even overclocked.
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June 17, 2012 2:46:22 AM

nekulturny said:
http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1766/15/

FX-4100 with a 6950 video card under load... 226 watts


The 4170 (or a 4100 OCed to 4.2GHz) uses more power than the 4100 does at stock.
There should be a very large discrepancy between maximum PSU rated wattage and maximum system power. The closer a PSU is to its limits, the faster it will degrade. PSUs degrade over time and staying under 80% of the maximum helps to slow this down. Staying at between 50% and 70% of the PSU's rated maximum helps even more. Going under this does not help so much and going far under this is actually detrimental to longevity, but this is optimal.

At full load, the 4170 (or OCed 4100) can reach past 125w (usually between 100w and 125w in gaming, but this depends on the game) and the 6950 can use between 150w and almost 200w in gaming, usually staying between 150w and 175w. The motherboard, memory, storage drives, and more use a considerable amount of power too. If overclocking further is done, then power usage increases even more on most sources. Over a few years, the PSU might get dangerously close to being pushed beyond its limits if you don't have enough wattage head-room.
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June 17, 2012 2:58:11 AM

I understand that, and I agree with you 100%. You can tell by my signiture that I'm an advocate of getting a stronger PSU than my build actually needs. I apologize for the crabbiness in my post, I'm crammed up in a hotel room in Minnesota for a week, and probably at least 2 more weeks of being stuck here. I know thats neither here nor there, but lol.

As far as other devices, hard drives use about 10 watts under full load, lets call it 100 for everything other than the video card and CPU. Like I said, bare minimum I do believe the CX500 is up to the task, would a 600 watt one be better? Absolutely.

The OP is using a 6850 for his build, a 6950 is what was used in the test system for the kill-a-watt ratings I linked to, the 6950 uses more power than a 6850 I believe.
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June 17, 2012 3:04:30 AM

nekulturny said:
I understand that, and I agree with you 100%. You can tell by my signiture that I'm an advocate of getting a stronger PSU than my build actually needs. I apologize for the crabbiness in my post, I'm crammed up in a hotel room in Minnesota for a week, and probably at least 2 more weeks of being stuck here. I know thats neither here nor there, but lol.

As far as other devices, hard drives use about 10 watts under full load, lets call it 100 for everything other than the video card and CPU. Like I said, bare minimum I do believe the CX500 is up to the task, would a 600 watt one be better? Absolutely.

The OP is using a 6850 for his build, a 6950 is what was used in the test system for the kill-a-watt ratings I linked to, the 6950 uses more power than a 6850 I believe.


OP mentioned interest in getting the 6950, so I addressed that. Yes, the 6850 does use less power than the 6950. I'd go as low as a 550w or maybe a 500w for the 6850. However, the 7770 is preferable over the 6850. It uses even less power, yet even a reference 7770 is as fast as or faster than the 6850 in almost all games and the 7770 overclocks even better than the 6850 does. Some factory overclocked 7770s can trade blows with the much more expensive 6870 and GTX 560 while still being cheaper than most 6850s.

About the crabbiness, no problem. I've had similar experiences and can see how frustrating they can be.
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June 17, 2012 4:21:19 AM

I would suggest picking up the FX 4100 and a Coolermaster Hyper 212 heatsink over the 4170. This way you'll be able to overclock easily and not worry about your cpu overheating or temps spiking. The cpu cooler that comes with it is fine but once your cpu turbo boosts or you get the overclocking itch you'll be glad you had the cpu cooler.

As far as Power supply is concerned, it is the most important component IMO and you should probably aim for a 600-650 watt PSU from Antec,Seasonic,Corsair. Otherwise good luck.
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June 17, 2012 4:57:29 AM

ohyouknow said:
I would suggest picking up the FX 4100 and a Coolermaster Hyper 212 heatsink over the 4170. This way you'll be able to overclock easily and not worry about your cpu overheating or temps spiking. The cpu cooler that comes with it is fine but once your cpu turbo boosts or you get the overclocking itch you'll be glad you had the cpu cooler.

As far as Power supply is concerned, it is the most important component IMO and you should probably aim for a 600-650 watt PSU from Antec,Seasonic,Corsair. Otherwise good luck.


Actualy, the stock FX cooler is a very good cooler, albeit it can get a little loud. The coolers that AMD matched with their FXs can usually hit over 4.5GHz reliably. An after-market cooler would mainly be better for noise generation.
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June 17, 2012 5:17:48 AM

Also, don't count on unlocking the 6950 to a 6970 - if you get a more recent production model, they've been laser cutting the shaders to prevent unlocking.

Newegg reviews show it's hit or miss on these and unlocking, some do some don't.
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June 17, 2012 5:19:38 AM

inanition02 said:
Also, don't count on unlocking the 6950 to a 6970 - if you get a more recent production model, they've been laser cutting the shaders to prevent unlocking.

Newegg reviews show it's hit or miss on these and unlocking, some do some don't.


Ahh yes, that's correct, AMD has been using lasers to destroy the disabled parts of the Cayman in the more recently produced 6950 cards to prevent unlocking.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 5:27:10 AM

The key to this project is the giant laser, which was invented by the noted Cambridge physicist, Dr. Parsons. So therefore, it is fitting to call it: "The Alan Parsons Project".
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 17, 2012 1:18:03 PM

Yes, that would be ideal.
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June 17, 2012 11:50:47 PM

I'm also worried about the processor. People say it's garbage. Should I swap motherboards and get a Phenom instead of a Bulldozer? Is there any significant advantage?
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June 17, 2012 11:53:46 PM

I'm honestly in favor of using a Phenom II 965 instead of an FX-4 but really both will do just fine.. No you do not need to change the motherboard, both CPUs will work on that mobo.. Your call.

BTW, nobody got my Dr. Evil joke, or it wasn't that funny.. oh well.. such is the problem you run into when you're drinking and forum posting.
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June 17, 2012 11:55:21 PM

I was thinking swapping motherboards because there are cheaper AM3's than AM3+'s. I don't know if I''m going to overclock, but if I do, which one does it better? Also, doesn't the FX-4170 have way higher speeds?
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June 17, 2012 11:56:39 PM

JakeDogg777 said:
I'm also worried about the processor. People say it's garbage. Should I swap motherboards and get a Phenom instead of a Bulldozer? Is there any significant advantage?


Phenom II, not Phenom, and that is an option. However, garbage is way over-exaggerating... A Phenom II might be a little faster when overclocked, but it wouldn't make much of a difference. People like to exaggerate about Bulldozer. For non-gaming workloads, they can trade blows depending on the application, but the FX is generally getting big wins when if wins and when it loses, small losses. I'd take a Phenom II 960T over the FX-4100 or 4170, but like I said, not much difference in gaming performance and they trade blows in non-gaming performance while being fairly equal most of the time.The Phenom II x4 960T might overclock a little better. Your choice.
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June 17, 2012 11:57:27 PM

JakeDogg777 said:
I was thinking swapping motherboards because there are cheaper AM3's than AM3+'s. I don't know if I''m going to overclock, but if I do, which one does it better? Also, doesn't the FX-4170 have way higher speeds?


I recommend sticking with AM3+. Much better upgrade path.
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June 17, 2012 11:59:12 PM

Alright. Is it possible to unlock the cores on the FX-4100? I've heard of it but I'm not sure about most of it. I'm just trying to fit my entire budget under $500 as that's ALL I have.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 12:10:53 AM

No, theres no cores to be unlocked on FX-4100s, you can however overclock it to 4.2GHZ and it would be equal to the FX-4170.

As far as AM3+ motherboards, the way it works is. FX CPUs WILL NOT work on AM3 boards, but Phenom IIs WILL work on either AM3 or AM3+. This means that AM3 boards effectively have no upgrade path.

Back to the topic of core unlocking, it is occasionally possible to unlock 960Ts to 6 core CPUs, you have a bout a 50/50 chance of doing so. 960Ts are basically Phenom II 1090T/1100Ts with 2 cores disabled. I've had trouble finding any 960Ts as of late, so that option may no longer be available. However Newegg and TigerDirect do have Phenom II 965 quad cores left, I think those ultimately would be better than an FX-41xx. My opinion is that the only FX CPU worth serious consideration is the FX-8120, they cost about $170.
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June 18, 2012 12:11:07 AM

JakeDogg777 said:
Alright. Is it possible to unlock the cores on the FX-4100? I've heard of it but I'm not sure about most of it. I'm just trying to fit my entire budget under $500 as that's ALL I have.


No, FX cores can not be unlocked because they are laser-cut to prevent this. The Phenom 960T has two locked cores that might be unlockable (depends on the unit, some can do it, some can't).
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June 18, 2012 12:13:26 AM

nekulturny said:
No, theres no cores to be unlocked on FX-4100s, you can however overclock it to 4.2GHZ and it would be equal to the FX-4170.

As far as AM3+ motherboards, the way it works is. FX CPUs WILL NOT work on AM3 boards, but Phenom IIs WILL work on either AM3 or AM3+. This means that AM3 boards effectively have no upgrade path.

Back to the topic of core unlocking, it is occasionally possible to unlock 960Ts to 6 core CPUs, you have a bout a 50/50 chance of doing so. 960Ts are basically Phenom II 1090T/1100Ts with 2 cores disabled. I've had trouble finding any 960Ts as of late, so that option may no longer be available. However Newegg and TigerDirect do have Phenom II 965 quad cores left, I think those ultimately would be better than an FX-41xx. My opinion is that the only FX CPU worth serious consideration is the FX-8120, they cost about $170.


I don't think that Phenom II x4s (other than Zosmas such as the 960T) are really much better than an FX-4100. They have slightly higher IPC, but they don't overclock quite as far. The 4100 can usually hit 4.5GHz to 4.6GHz on its stock cooler.

About the 8120... IT is easily one of the best FX CPUs, but I think that the 6100 is also worth buying for its price. If you disable one core per module, the remaining core gets the entire module-s resources all to itself and greater thermal headroom for overclocking... The IPC jump alone pushes them above Phenom II and the overclocking headroom lets them trade blows with some Nehalem i7s in gaming performance. Not all mobos support this and for those that don't, there are simple fixes to let the extra core pretty much completely idle, or even let it act more like a hyper-threaded logical thread.
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June 18, 2012 12:16:26 AM

Fair enough, my main objection to the FX-41xxs is just because they aren't true quads, (which is why generally I'm in favor of 8120s). I think now they are perfectly priced. Strictly for gaming, with the exception of BF3 multiplayer, no, its not going to matter much.
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June 18, 2012 12:17:58 AM

nekulturny said:
Fair enough, my main objection to the FX-41xxs is just because they aren't true quads, (which is why generally I'm in favor of 8120s). I think now they are perfectly priced.


Actually, they are true quads... A module is two tightly linked cores. However, it does have some qualities that are a little reminiscent of Hyper-Threading in practical use, but it does truly have four integer cores. BF3 MP actually likes FX, although it tends to prefer the 6xxxs over the 4xxxs (BF3 MP can use up to 6 threads). I agree about the current pricing, they were way overpriced before the latest price drops, but have now found their proper pricing markets.
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June 18, 2012 12:20:09 AM

Quote:
IT is easily one of the best FX CPUs, but I think that the 6100 is also worth buying for its price. If you disable one core per module, the remaining core gets the entire module-s resources all to itself and greater thermal headroom for overclocking...


Careful bro. dont let malmental hear you saying that, he's of the opinion the FX-6 is the BIGGEST failure of the "faildozer" series, I love the guy, but man is he headstrong on his anti-Bulldozer. Even Recon-UK finally acknowledged FX-8120s are fairly priced. I about crapped myself when I read he said it lol.
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June 18, 2012 12:21:07 AM

Okay. I'm going to say I'm going to buy a Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, then at Christmas sometime I'll upgrade to a FX-8150. Sound good?
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a b B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 12:21:27 AM

nekulturny said:
Quote:
IT is easily one of the best FX CPUs, but I think that the 6100 is also worth buying for its price. If you disable one core per module, the remaining core gets the entire module-s resources all to itself and greater thermal headroom for overclocking...


Careful bro. dont let malmental hear you saying that, he's of the opinion the FX-6 is the BIGGEST failure of the "faildozer" series, I love the guy, but man is he headstrong on his anti-Bulldozer. Even Recon-UK finally acknowledged FX-8120s are fairly priced. I about crapped myself when I read he said it lol.


Oh, good point... However, Mal doesn't like me anyway, so I'm not worried.
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June 18, 2012 12:22:31 AM

JakeDogg777 said:
Okay. I'm going to say I'm going to buy a Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, then at Christmas sometime I'll upgrade to a FX-8150. Sound good?


8120, not 8150. The 8150 is the same binning, just with voltage and frequency increased, like the 4100 versus the 4170 (This is actually a recurring theme with AMD, not that I'm complaining about being able to buy cheaper models and get full priced performance). You can manually do it yourself and save money without any consequences from doing so.

EDIT: Also, if you can find a new Phenom II x4 955 cheaper than the 965, then it would be the better option for the same reason as listed above for the 8120 and 4100.
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June 18, 2012 12:24:22 AM

Alright, 30 bucks. Thanks, everyone!
I'll add up the total costs of everything in a moment.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 12:24:43 AM

JakeDogg777 said:
Okay. I'm going to say I'm going to buy a Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition, then at Christmas sometime I'll upgrade to a FX-8150. Sound good?



Around Christmas time most likely Piledriver will be out. When means FX-8350s.. (I think).. And the great thing about that is, Tom's hardware got a look at their architecture in the new Trinity APUs, its looking like AMD is going to meet or even exceed their planned 10% improvement this year.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a10-5800k-a8-5600k-...

As far as 8150, the reason I say 8120 is because its cheaper, and the only difference between the 8120s and 8150s is their base multiplier settings, since both of them are fully overclockable, theres no real reason to pay more for the 8150.
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June 18, 2012 12:27:43 AM

Quote:
8120, not 8150. The 8150 is the same binning, just with voltage and frequency increased, like the 4100 versus the 4170 (This is actually a recurring theme with AMD,


Intel does it too lol.. The only difference (and drawback) is they don't give you unlocked multipliers on their lower end models.
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June 18, 2012 12:29:51 AM

nekulturny said:
Quote:
8120, not 8150. The 8150 is the same binning, just with voltage and frequency increased, like the 4100 versus the 4170 (This is actually a recurring theme with AMD,


Intel does it too lol.. The only difference (and drawback) is they don't give you unlocked multipliers on their lower end models.


True lol, but with AMD you can take advantage of it for the very reason that you specified :)  Much better for enthusiasts IMO and I'm sure that you'd agree.
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June 18, 2012 12:31:48 AM

nekulturny said:
Around Christmas time most likely Piledriver will be out. When means FX-8350s.. (I think).. And the great thing about that is, Tom's hardware got a look at their architecture in the new Trinity APUs, its looking like AMD is going to meet or even exceed their planned 10% improvement this year.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/a10-5800k-a8-5600k-...

As far as 8150, the reason I say 8120 is because its cheaper, and the only difference between the 8120s and 8150s is their base multiplier settings, since both of them are fully overclockable, theres no real reason to pay more for the 8150.


Good point there. Piledriver should be out by about that time and a Piledriver FX would probably be far better than a Bulldozer FX. Worst case scenario, the 8120 drops further in price and OP gets it and has a great CPU. Best case scenario, a Piledriver replacement for the 8120 (8300 or 8320?) is out at about the same price range (or even cheaper) and OP gets an even better CPU.

EDIT: I've gtg until tomorrow morning or so, long drive ahead of me.
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June 18, 2012 12:36:55 AM

The case isn't on sale anymore, and some other things might lose their discounts. I'm not actually going to start ordering parts for this computer until August 1, then I'll be buying parts every 2 weeks up until September 14. I'll just keep looking for good deals periodically. Sorry for all the questions, but what should I look for in a case? I know it needs to be big enough to fit the 6950, but I'm concerned about the cooling and airflow and such.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 12:37:02 AM

Have a safe trip, and should you happen to pass thru Rochester, MN, GET ME OUT OF THIS PLACE!!!
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 12:41:58 AM

JakeDogg777 said:
The case isn't on sale anymore, and some other things might lose their discounts. I'm not actually going to start ordering parts for this computer until August 1, then I'll be buying parts every 2 weeks up until September 14. I'll just keep looking for good deals periodically. Sorry for all the questions, but what should I look for in a case? I know it needs to be big enough to fit the 6950, but I'm concerned about the cooling and airflow and such.


Well, by then, you may find the Phenom IIs are gone by then. Only way to know for sure is to wait and see.. Just keep checking for deals, and if you happen to get stuck don't be afraid to ask. As far as a case, pretty much any mid tower case is going to be able to fit a 6950. My advice is to invest in a decent case if you can. Yes they can be expensive, but the great thing about them is they can last forever. Cases like CoolerMaster Elite 430s, and HAF 912s are great budget cases under $60 bucks. NZXT has some great offerings like the Apollo blacks, Source 210s and M59s. I personally have an NZXT Phantom, its an awesome case, its kinda pricey and huge, but I wouldn't mind hanging onto it for the next 10 or 15 years of computer builds.

The only brand I would specifically mention avoiding is Sentey. They look nice, but they're so gosh darn cheap. Cheap, flimsy metal, brittle plastic, bad wire management.
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June 18, 2012 2:00:04 AM

Is APEVIA a decent brand? I'm seeing a LOT of APEVIA cases that are cheap and look cool. The review aren't shabby, either.
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a c 118 B Homebuilt system
June 18, 2012 2:13:23 AM

Apevia isnt horrid for cases, but they don't have a good reputation for power supplies. Same deal with coolermaster and rosewill, decent cases, but I'm not prepared to trust them with power supplies if I can help it.

I personally really love the Apeva Q Packs. I would have bought one if they made it in full ATX size. (only a microATX board will fit in them)

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June 18, 2012 2:30:10 AM

No one caught the austin powers reference? jeez, nekulturny, you are awesome
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July 19, 2012 11:18:11 PM

Well, I completely revamped the build and everything is ordered. It'll get here on Monday. Total with Shipping + Everything - Rebates = $508.64

CPU: AMD FX-8120 OC @4.2GHz
PSU: CORSAIR Builder CX500W
GPU: GIGABYTE 777OC Edition (1100MHz Core Clock)
MOBO: ASRock 970DE3 AM3+
RAM: 2 x 4GB CORSAIR Vengeance DDR3 1600 SDRAM
Case: NZXT Apollo SECC Steel Black
Heatsink: COOLERMASTER Hyper 212

I have no idea on the performance yet, but I'll be upgrading the GPU possibly at Christmas, but most likely my monitor. Right now my resolution is 1280 x 1024 (lol).
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