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$700 gaming build (First build and First post!)

Last response: in Systems
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July 3, 2012 3:19:21 AM

Approximate Purchase Date:
About 2 weeks.

Budget Range:
$700 or lower, before taxes and MIR. This includes the parts I already have. (See "Parts Not Required" section)

System Usage from Most to Least Important:
I plan to use it mainly for gaming. However, there's a slight possibility I'll use it for graphic design apps such as Photoshop and maybe even Autodesk 3DS Max in the future.

Parts Not Required:
To keep it concise, I only need the tower itself. In addition, I already have the following:
Zalman Z9 Plus Case for $50
OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W power supply for $75 (about $50 after MIR! :D  )
ASUS 24x SATA DVD-RW for $20
These are parts I don't intend to change. This also leaves about $580 (w/ taxes) left on the budget.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:
I plan to buy all the parts from NCIX. Since NCIX does In-store price matching, parts from any other websites are alright, as long as NCIX has the same exact part.

Country:
Canada

Parts Preferences:
I'm weary of using an ASRock motherboard due to numerous "horror stories" of glitches and crappy tech support. However, I'm willing to take the risk if necessary. ASUS, Gigabyte, and Biostar are my "preferred" brands for motherboards due to decent reviews and prices.

Overclocking:
No, unless the ability to OC can fit into the budget. I consider it optional, but a very nice plus.

SLI or Crossfire:
Not at the time of the build, but I'd like to keep that as an upgrade option if possible.

Monitor Resolution:
I plan on using my 720p (1280x720) HDTV as my main monitor, and a 1280x1024 LCD VGA monitor as an optional secondary screen when needed.

Additional Comments:
I'm aiming to go for an Intel LGA 1155 build for it's performance and upgrade potential. But I don't mind an AMD build if an Intel build can't fit into my budget. If it's an Intel build, I'd prefer a Z-series chipset and Ivy Bridge CPU. If it's AMD, I'd prefer a 9-series chipset. As for RAM and HDD, DDR3-1600 8GB (2x4GB kit) dual channel RAM and 500GB-1TB HDD are preferred.

But when comes down to it all, as long as it can play most games at this time on high settings with a good 40-60 FPS, I'll be happy with it! Also, I want to have a build that will work well for about 3 years. By then, I would probably make an entirely new build. Either that, or I'll switch out parts that have gone obsolete or died for any reason.

As a side note, I've done lots of research and asked numerous people for advice on this build. Because of that, I already have a few builds in mind, but I can't make a definitive choice. This is why I turn to the Tom's Hardware community for advice! Thanks in advance for future replies :)  !
July 3, 2012 7:45:34 PM

UPDATE: I should've done this earlier, but here are three builds I have in mind. So far, I'm having the most trouble choosing the CPU, motherboard, and GPU.

AMD "Good performance, cheapest" build:
- AMD Phenom II X4 965 BE 3.4GHz @ $120
- ASUS M5A97 ATX Motherboard @ $100
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 Windforce @ $140
Total Price: $360 (or $490 w/ $50 8GB RAM and $80 500GB HDD)

Intel "High performance, yet highly upgradable" build:
- Intel i3 2120 3.3GHz @ $125
- Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H-B3 ATX Motherboard @ $125
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 6850 Windforce @ $140
Total Price: $390 (or $520 w/ $50 8GB RAM and $80 500GB HDD)

Intel "Even higher performance, yet going over budget" build:
- Intel i5 3450 3.1GHz @ $200
- Biostar TZ77A ATX Motherboard @ $110
- Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 @ $170
Total Price: $480 (or $610 w/ $50 8GB RAM and $80 500GB HDD)

Note: These prices aren't 100% accurate due to price changes.

If you read all the way to this point: Thank You very much, and sorry for the exceedingly long post! Just making sure all the details are here.
July 3, 2012 8:47:57 PM

No brainer here. Go for the i5 it's going to give you the best performance long term.

You can find some decent combo deals for that processor and a motherboard to help lower costs.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Combo of the CPU and a Biostar TZ77 mobo for under $300.

!