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$650 Updated Gaming Build - Opinions + Questions

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June 24, 2012 10:53:25 AM

I'd just like to start off by listing what I would like to do with my first build. I like to game ALL the time, but I want a tight budget. I plan to stream eventually, but I'll figure out other peripherals later. With proper internet, I would want to know if the computer would run well? I don't mind playing at medium to lower settings, as long as it would run nicely and prolong lifetime of the pc. Thank you for any inputs you may give and please give backup to opinions you may have.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/aL5O

CPU: Intel Core i3-2100 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($89.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI H61M-P25 (B3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($52.98 @ NCIX US)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1066 Memory ($41.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda ES 750GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($62.05 @ Newegg)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 6870 1GB Video Card ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Zalman Z9 Plus ATX Mid Tower Case ($34.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($69.64 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer S201HLbd 60Hz 20.0" Monitor ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Keyboard: Microsoft SIDEWINDER X4 Wired Gaming Keyboard ($47.52 @ B&H)

Total: $639.14
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)


- Case + Optical Drive + RAM Edit, as suggested by eqwoody, sincreator, + whyso.


Hello everyone. I posted slightly earlier this morning, didn't get many responses, so I continued to update my build through suggestions and revisions. I would very much appreciate backed up ideas and thoughts for changes. I'm trying to keep it as cheap as possible, but if there requires a serious change, I must know. Also, a few questions for you guys -

- Do I need a more powerful PSU?
- Will the CPU run well with the GPU? I was told that a high-end CPU with a mid-range GPU doesn't run well together (I'm not very aware of every specific for computer parts)
- I AM near a MicroCenter, so if there are suggestions for specifics from there, it would be much appreciated!
June 24, 2012 10:59:21 AM

The card and CPU will work fine. I run a 2100 with a 480 which is a better card and it works great. Do you NEED a dvd drive? When was the last time you used one? Besides maybe installing windows. I'm not a fan of HAF cases so I'd rather use an antec one. I'd check craigslist for someone selling a better monitor nearby for that price. you'd be suprised what people are trying to get rid of. I got a 22" samsung almost brand new for 120.
June 24, 2012 12:12:44 PM

Everything looks decent to me, except I would probally opt for this case instead: http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=57910&vpn=Z9%20Plus&ma... TECH&promoid=1048
$44.99 without rebate, and $34.99 after rebate. I linked NCIX(US) because Newegg.com sells it for $64.99 lol. It's cheaper, has more options and gets great reviews. Comes with a built in fan controller and 4 120mm fans. 3 blue LED, and 1 black and white 120mm. Has room for 7 x 120mm fans or 4 120mm and 3 140mm fans. Has a built in temperature sensor that works very well. Pre drilled holes for a small water cooling system. HDDs install from the side and have anti vibration mounts. Lots of room, good cable managment, and the case is well built and not real flimsy like other cases i've seen at this price. I own this case myself and have a few friends that have used this case in their recent builds, and we all love it. Best in it's price range by far IMO, and maybe even better than alot of $80-100 cases with the features you get included in the Z9 plus.
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June 24, 2012 12:25:02 PM

sincreator said:
Everything looks decent to me, except I would probally opt for this case instead: http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=57910&vpn=Z9%20Plus&ma... TECH&promoid=1048
$44.99 without rebate, and $34.99 after rebate. I linked NCIX(US) because Newegg.com sells it for $64.99 lol. It's cheaper, has more options and gets great reviews. Comes with a built in fan controller and 4 120mm fans. 3 blue LED, and 1 black and white 120mm. Has room for 7 x 120mm fans or 4 120mm and 3 140mm fans. Has a built in temperature sensor that works very well. Pre drilled holes for a small water cooling system. HDDs install from the side and have anti vibration mounts. Lots of room, good cable managment, and the case is well built and not real flimsy like other cases i've seen at this price. I own this case myself and have a few friends that have used this case in their recent builds, and we all love it. Best in it's price range by far IMO, and maybe even better than alot of $80-100 cases with the features you get included in the Z9 plus.


Alrighty, thanks! I'll change it immediately. I'm just worried it won't fit everything in. I'm not sure what parts go where, as I've never built a pc before, so could you or anyone else figure it out for me? Also, the case should definitely be open enough for air to circulate, seeing as though I'm not buying any extra fans.
June 24, 2012 12:29:04 PM

sincreator said:
Everything looks decent to me, except I would probally opt for this case instead: http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=57910&vpn=Z9%20Plus&ma... TECH&promoid=1048
$44.99 without rebate, and $34.99 after rebate. I linked NCIX(US) because Newegg.com sells it for $64.99 lol. It's cheaper, has more options and gets great reviews. Comes with a built in fan controller and 4 120mm fans. 3 blue LED, and 1 black and white 120mm. Has room for 7 x 120mm fans or 4 120mm and 3 140mm fans. Has a built in temperature sensor that works very well. Pre drilled holes for a small water cooling system. HDDs install from the side and have anti vibration mounts. Lots of room, good cable managment, and the case is well built and not real flimsy like other cases i've seen at this price. I own this case myself and have a few friends that have used this case in their recent builds, and we all love it. Best in it's price range by far IMO, and maybe even better than alot of $80-100 cases with the features you get included in the Z9 plus.


Awesome find on this case! I've never seen this one before it's deff. going into my >50 folder.
June 24, 2012 12:32:17 PM

xCrux said:
Alrighty, thanks! I'll change it immediately. I'm just worried it won't fit everything in. I'm not sure what parts go where, as I've never built a pc before, so could you or anyone else figure it out for me? Also, the case should definitely be open enough for air to circulate, seeing as though I'm not buying any extra fans.



You should be fine with room in this case. I got a full length HD5870 in mine. 11 and 3/4 inch long video card with about an inch to spare. lol. This case is Mid-ATX/Micro-ATX and you should have no trouble whatsoever with space. There are different mounting holes/standoffs for each motherboard, ATX/Mid-ATX standard. With 4 fans the case still moves alot of air with ease, and temps and noise stay really low. They come pre-installed and 2 of them intake air and the other 2 exaust air
June 24, 2012 12:36:16 PM

sincreator said:
You should be fine with room in this case. I got a full length HD5870 in mine. 11 and 3/4 inch long video card with about an inch to spare. lol. This case is Mid-ATX/Micro-ATX and you should have no trouble whatsoever with space. There different mounting holes/standoffs for each motherboard, ATX/Mid-ATX standard. With 4 fans the case still moves alot of air with ease, and temps and noise stay really low. They come pre-installed and 2 of them intake air and the other 2 exaust air


Alright, very helpful, and thanks! I'll be sure to keep this as #1. I presume it has quite good reliability and lifetime. It looks pretty sturdy, and with 4 fans, air sounds like it shouldn't be a problem. How about for the PSU? Will it be powerful enough? I've heard fans don't take much, but will 520W be enough for the entire system itself?
June 24, 2012 12:40:40 PM

eqwoody said:
Awesome find on this case! I've never seen this one before it's deff. going into my >50 folder.



I'm actually surprised that Tom's has never reviewed the cheaper Zalman cases. The Z9 and Z9 plus, as well as the Z11, and Z11 plus are awesome cases for the money. If you look at reviews from other sites/purchasers comments they really give it alot of props. There are a few tiny drawbacks like the pop off Pci-e tabs, and no dust filter on the left side panel fans. Minor stuff though. You can find those little tabs anywhere, and there are holes to screw them in if you needed to fill in a gap. You can also make your own dust filters, but honestly I'm not seeing much dust at all building up.

When you can pretty much get a full case for the price that 4 individual 120mm fans cost and it has all of these features with it as well, it's pretty darn hard to pass up on a budget. lol. ;) 
June 24, 2012 12:45:26 PM

xCrux said:
Alright, very helpful, and thanks! I'll be sure to keep this as #1. I presume it has quite good reliability and lifetime. It looks pretty sturdy, and with 4 fans, air sounds like it shouldn't be a problem. How about for the PSU? Will it be powerful enough? I've heard fans don't take much, but will 520W be enough for the entire system itself?



You should be fine with that PSU, Seasonic has a good reputation for making quality units. 520w should be fine, unless you plan to crossfire at some point. If that's a possibilty then you may want to look at the 650w to 750w range.
June 24, 2012 12:49:24 PM

sincreator said:
You should be fine with that PSU, Seasonic has a good reputation for making quality units. 520w should be fine, unless you plan to crossfire at some point. If that's a possibilty then you may want to look at the 650w to 750w range.


Ok, thanks. My friend kept telling me that I should be looking at ~650W, and he claims to know a lot about computers. I thought my choice was right :)  I do not plan to CrossFire, so that will not be necessary. How effective is the CrossFire system? My friend was saying that it gives the smallest amount of extra power and that it's a rip-off. Didn't really seem like that to me :L
June 24, 2012 12:54:05 PM

xCrux said:
Ok, thanks. My friend kept telling me that I should be looking at ~650W, and he claims to know a lot about computers. I thought my choice was right :)  I do not plan to CrossFire, so that will not be necessary. How effective is the CrossFire system? My friend was saying that it gives the smallest amount of extra power and that it's a rip-off. Didn't really seem like that to me :L


Crossfiring cards is one of those things....

Crossfiring price vs performance drops as you add more cards to your setup meaning you see smaller differences in performance vs the price of the card itselfs.

If you are going to crossfire 3x 7770's lets say. You are better off just buying a 7950 for the same price.

Single card setups are easier to use and take care of. But when you're using a top of the line card like a 680, the only way to get better performance is to add another card.

So for you using a 6870, buying 2 of them is a waste in performance vs just buying 1 card that will run faster for the same price. So in that aspect your friend is right.
June 24, 2012 12:59:32 PM

I really would spend $20 more and get 8 GB of ram or at least dual channel ram (two sticks), otherwise, the ram will be operating at half speed.
June 24, 2012 1:00:22 PM

whyso said:
I really would spend $20 more and get 8 GB of ram or at least dual channel ram (two sticks), otherwise, the ram will be operating at half speed.


Good catch.
June 24, 2012 1:13:55 PM

If you were to get 2 x 6870 here is a review of performance, as you can see the 6870 crossfire really takes off over a single card: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6850-6870-cross...

Also for what you said eqwoody about crossfire being a waste with 6870's I don't really agree fully. The 6870's scale real well in a 2 card configuration, as per the article I linked. You are right about being able to get a single card that perfoms about the same, but if someone is on a budget and wants to get a cheaper GPU now and then get a second one later on when they have the money crossfire or SLI are decent options. In most cases the 6800's and gtx560's(same price range) in dual card mode scale 80% or higher, so it's definitly an option for someone that is on a budget IMO.
June 24, 2012 1:18:47 PM

sincreator said:
If you were to get 2 x 6870 here is a review of performance, as you can see the 6870 crossfire really takes off over a single card: http://www.guru3d.com/article/radeon-hd-6850-6870-cross...

Also for what you said eqwoody about crossfire being a waste with 6870's I don't really agree fully. The 6870's scale real well in a 2 card configuration, as per the article I linked. You are right about being able to get a single card that perfoms about the same, but if someone is on a budget and wants to get a cheaper GPU now and then get a second one later on when they have the money crossfire or SLI are decent options. In most cases the 6800's and gtx560's(same price range) in dual card mode scale 80% or higher, so it's definitly an option for someone that is on a budget IMO.


I was just using it as a generalization. I haven't done much research for scaling on the 6870 I'm just stating as a whole normally paying retail price for older cards to crossfire/sli is not as efficient money/PSU power wise.
June 24, 2012 1:21:01 PM

Quick looking at the 6870's on newegg. I would think that at a $175-200 price range for a good branded 6870. I would rather get a gtx 670 for the price of 2 plus maybe a little cash.
June 24, 2012 1:29:20 PM

eqwoody said:
Quick looking at the 6870's on newegg. I would think that at a $175-200 price range for a good branded 6870. I would rather get a gtx 670 for the price of 2 plus maybe a little cash.


Obviously, lol. I personally would do the same. It's just that this guy is doing a $650 build, not a $850 build. I'm just letting him know his options for the future. If he has more money and wants to up his budget a couple hundred bucks then I would agree with you 100%. If not then crossfire is definitly an option for the future when he does have the money.
June 24, 2012 1:32:29 PM

sincreator said:
Obviously, lol. I personally would do the same. It's just that this guy is doing a $650 build, not a $850 build. I'm just letting him know his options for the future. If he has more money and wants to up his budget a couple hundred bucks then I would agree with you 100%. If not then crossfire is definitly an option for the future when he does have the money.


Well yes, especially searching the forums. OP, 6870 is a great card. If you ever have the itch to upgrade to a crossfire setup check your local online forums for people selling them.

Other than that you have a pretty good build here. You've gotten some good advice. I advice you to ask questions if you have them!
June 24, 2012 1:57:02 PM

whyso said:
I really would spend $20 more and get 8 GB of ram or at least dual channel ram (two sticks), otherwise, the ram will be operating at half speed.


Good catch indeed! With the money saved on switching his case, plus a tiny bit more money he could get this instead: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
June 24, 2012 10:52:11 PM

whyso said:
I really would spend $20 more and get 8 GB of ram or at least dual channel ram (two sticks), otherwise, the ram will be operating at half speed.


I'm still assuming 2x 4GB would be better than 1x 8GB then?
June 25, 2012 12:44:24 AM

Yes.
!