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Upgrading or building gaming rig 800$

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July 9, 2012 1:49:07 PM

Hello sirs!

Right I'm very new to this so please forgive me for incorrectness, lack of knowledge and general stupidity =).

It's hit that time again where I have got the cash to give the PC a tune up once more, able to spend roughly a max of £500-£600 ($770 - $928, however if a beautiful configuration is found I may be able to push the figure slightly) the current rig does the job reasonably well but is aging, still using a Phenom ii dual core at 3.00 Ghz 545 with 4 Gb of standard DDR3 ram with a nice (small due to case) HIS 6950 2gb HD, likely problems? Im on 650 watt pretty standard PSU with a M4a77TD motherboard, not the best =(.

The Plan: stuck between the i5 2500k and the shiny looking (but apparently not to some) AMD FX-8150 Eight Core, obviously for either of these (or better if you have a suggestion) I'm gonna need a nice new motherboard (recommendations needed) and the finishing touches I would like to include is another HIS HD 6950 to crossfire a possible changing or adding of Ram and a small SSD for tough stuff.

Risks - PSU probably wont handle it, case is almost definitely gonna have to be changed for cooling and space (The 6950 just squeezes in and HIS makes the shortest ones as far as I know) the money is running short already and finally I DONT KNOW IF THIS IS A GOOD IDEA FOR MY RIG AT ALL!?

I would love any help anyone can offer me it would be much appreciated, my aims are to have BF3 maxed on my 24 inch monitor, Skyrim going ultra WHILST using tridef 3d and hopefully to keep future games going strong smoothly such as Bioshock infinite and watch dogs, essentially would like to be able to be maxing games released until early 2013.

Please make any suggestions at all, the best for the budget is what I would love, anyone who can help, thank you very much =)
July 9, 2012 2:06:32 PM

Your graphics card is gonna be your bottle neck. Instead of buying a new PSU i would buy a new case. Get a new mobo, and stick with that i5 2500k. These three will run you about 350-400 usd. That should leave you with enough to buy another graphics card, and still have some left over:

Case: $50
Mobo: $150
CPU: $200
GPU: $400
July 9, 2012 2:10:03 PM

tomskinoonoo said:
The Plan: stuck between the i5 2500k and the shiny looking (but apparently not to some) AMD FX-8150 Eight Core

If you're already replacing your mobo, get the 2500k. Despite what AMD claims, the 8150 is not an 8 core CPU. It has four modules, each of which AMD calls dual core. In reality, some critical hardware is shared within the modules, so you will rarely get actual 8 core performance. The workloads that will get you 8-core performance are typical of servers, not desktops. The bottom line is the 2500k stomps it in almost every benchmark. 8150 wins in some rendering tasks and things like that, but the second floating point calculations come into the mix it behaves like a four core CPU, and a slow one at that.

Quote:
obviously for either of these (or better if you have a suggestion) I'm gonna need a nice new motherboard (recommendations needed)

I'll throw my two cents in for the ASRock Z77 Extreme4. It's a good entry level board that will get you on the Z77 chipset for future upgrades, should you decide to. Only a few dollars more than a Z68 board. Really no reason to buy Z68 anymore.

Quote:
and the finishing touches I would like to include is another HIS HD 6950 to crossfire

What's your PSU? Really good 650W units can crossfire 6950s, but most can't. Chances are you need a PSU upgrade to a 750W unit, which will run you about $90-$150 depending on quality of the unit.

Quote:
a possible changing or adding of Ram

I'd absolutely get 8GB of memory. It's cheap, and 4GB is small enough to cause paging (memory gets written to disk, very slow when you need to read that memory later).

Quote:
and a small SSD for tough stuff.

Small SSDs are a recipe for pain. Playing the disk management game every time you want to install anything is not fun. You can get good 120GB drives for less than $100. I'd say if you can't afford at least 90GB (not much cheaper than 120), skip it and buy one later. It's a good upgrade, but won't impact your gaming performance.

Quote:
case is almost definitely gonna have to be changed for cooling and space

What case do you have?

Quote:
I DONT KNOW IF THIS IS A GOOD IDEA FOR MY RIG AT ALL!?

Seems like a solid plan to me. Crossfire 6950s perform very well, and the 2500k is enough muscle to not bottleneck any game currently available. With the addition of an aftermarket cooler like the Hyper 212, you can easily get it to 4-4.5 GHz at totally safe voltages and temperatures, which should be enough power for years to come (if it isn't already).
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July 9, 2012 2:16:43 PM

What case do you have?
Exactly what brand/model 650w psu do you have?

Here are my thoughts, sorry about the $ numbers, I live in the US:

I do think a cpu change is appropriate. Today, Intel is superior for gaming at every price point. Their individual cores are more effective on a clock for clock basis. Few games use more than 2 or 3 cores, so the 8 core FX-8150 will not be very useful as a gamer. Even a sual core Intel sandy bridge will beat it in most situations. If your budget is $200 or so, the 2500K is about as good as it gets. The ivy bridge 3570K is a little bit stronger, and is only a little bit more in cost.

If your budget is more like $150, then the i3-2130 is good.
You might want to read thiese articles on <$200 gaming cpu's:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-fx-pentium-a...
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-cpu-cor...

Any Z77 based motherboard will do. $120 would be the budget point.

Your 6950 is a good card, and the graphics configuration is the prime engine of gaming.
Yes, cf 6950 will give you better benchmark scores. But, I am not much in favor of dual cards when a great single card will do the job. Here is my canned rant on that:

Dual graphics cards vs. a good single card.

a) How good do you really need to be?
A single GTX560 or 6870 can give you great performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.

A single GTX560ti or 6950 will give you excellent performance at 1920 x 1200 in most games.
Even 2560 x 1600 will be good with lowered detail.
A single 7970 or GTX680 is about as good as it gets.

Only if you are looking at triple monitor gaming, then sli/cf will be needed.
Even that is now changing with triple monitor support on top end cards.

b) The costs for a single card are lower.
You require a less expensive motherboard; no need for sli/cf or multiple pci-e slots.
Even a ITX motherboard will do.

Your psu costs are less.
A GTX560ti needs a 450w psu, even a GTX580 only needs a 600w psu.
When you add another card to the mix, plan on adding 150-200w to your psu requirements.
A single more modern 28nm card like a 7970 or GTX680 needs only 550W.
Even the strongest GTX690 only needs 650w.

Case cooling becomes more of an issue with dual cards.
That means a more expensive case with more and stronger fans.
You will also look at more noise.

c) Dual cards do not always render their half of the display in sync, causing microstuttering. It is an annoying effect.
The benefit of higher benchmark fps can be offset, particularly with lower tier cards.
Read this: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...

d) dual card support is dependent on the driver. Not all games can benefit from dual cards.

e) cf/sli up front reduces your option to get another card for an upgrade. Not that I suggest you plan for that.
It will often be the case that replacing your current card with a newer gen card will offer a better upgrade path.

I suggest you sell your 6950 and replace it with a GTX670 or similar.
The newer cards are not long, and run cooler. You should be able to reuse your current case.
Unless your 650w psu is junk, it will run a newer high end card well.

4gb is a bit small, but ram is cheap, so I suggest a 8gb kit of 2 x 4gb. To insure compatibility, I would not try to reuse your current 4gb kit. Even though games don't use more than 2-3gb, there are other advantages to 8gb:
http://www.corsair.com/blog/an902-8gb-or-more-of-system...

Do try to find the budget for a 120gb SSD. It is one of the best performance enhancements you can buy. Not so much for gaming, but everything else.
Prices are down to <$1 per gb. Look for a 120gb SSD. Samsung 830, Intel 330, or 520 would be my first choice. Crucial M4 next.


July 9, 2012 2:39:31 PM

Thankyou very much for your replies, you guys are ace and seem well advised so if you could watch this thread that would be great because I will update it tomorrow! Gotta rush because Ive got to run to a gig! thankyou for replies!

PS: Is my CPU bottlenecking my GPU then? as In my CPU is holding the GPU back from full potential???
July 9, 2012 2:59:17 PM

To help clarify your options, run these two tests:

a) Run your games, but lower your resolution and eye candy.
If your FPS increases, it indicates that your cpu is strong enough to drive a better graphics configuration.

b) Limit your cpu, either by reducing the OC, or, in windows power management, limit the maximum cpu% to something like 50%.

Go to control panel/power options/change plan settings/change advanced power settings/processor power management/maximum processor state/
set to 50% and see how you do.


If your FPS drops significantly, it is an indicator that your cpu is the limiting factor, and a cpu upgrade is in order.

It is possible that both tests are positive, indicating that you have a well balanced system, and both cpu and gpu need to be upgraded to get better gaming FPS.
July 9, 2012 3:29:56 PM

I'm a noob and proud of it ! That said here's what I did on my first and only build:
Of note: I'm very thrifty (some would say cheap) so i built for durability, longevity, and future upgrades in mind:

ASRock z77 extreme 4 (love it and the easy bios)
i5 3570k (mild o/c in the future. Have the evo 212 cooler. $20 more for the latest chip vice the 2500k ...)
intel 330 180 GB (already 1/3 full w/ two games) I WOULD NOT GO BELOW 120 GB !!
Reused 500 gb WD Green HDD
8 gb g skill RAM 1.5 v works best with ASRock boards apparently
HD 6850 (reused), will upgrade to 7850 in future
haf 912(too big for my needs, but I wanted the room)
PSU PC Power and Cooling Mk III 600 watt

the thing is quite - power-on to surfing in 30 secs (with password entry !) Love that SSD !!
July 9, 2012 4:48:09 PM

I still don't think Z77 has a place in a build with a SB CPU. What does it really give you extra for the i5-2500k?
July 9, 2012 4:59:15 PM

azeem40 said:
I still don't think Z77 has a place in a build with a SB CPU. What does it really give you extra for the i5-2500k?


Z77 based motherboards will cost about the same as P67.
One Plus is that the integrated graphics gives you an optional way to test, not using a discrete graphics card.
Another is that quicksync is available, if that is of interest.
Hard drive cacheing is another.
z77 will usually have the UEFI bios.
Virtu MVP graphics.
pcie 3.0 native support.

None of these are killer plusses for most, but considering that the price differential is minimal, if any, why not go with the newer generation?
July 9, 2012 5:38:46 PM

I see the biggest reason to get Z77 over Z68 is for IVB PCIE 3.0 saturation in the future.
July 10, 2012 1:11:09 PM

Hello Boys! Well I would like to offer my sincere appreciation for your advice, here is the verdict, do us a favor and confirm the quality! PS - think my mate can get some of this stuff discounted!!!

ASRock Z77 Extreme4 £120
Intel Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge (recommend cooler?) £200 (possibly reduced)
GTX 670 - (This will only be £100-150 or less because I'm selling the 6950 and I have an old 5750 to shift =):
8gb Corsair Vengeance £50
just gonna move the hard drive over :) 
850W G7 Extreme Modular ATX PSU £70

At the max end looking at £600 bang on, nice one guys, oh yeah think I'm gonna OC that Ivy =)

Cheers everyone!

July 10, 2012 7:03:39 PM

Very good; don't change a thing.

I would suggest an inexpensive tower type aftermarket cpu cooler with a 120mm fan.
The cm hyper212 is about $30 and does the job very well..
July 10, 2012 8:27:23 PM

You're going to want a really nice cooler to OC Ivy Bridge. The 212 can pull off lower overclocks, but that chip gets hot.

But yeah, looks like a really solid build.
July 14, 2012 5:20:20 PM



It is a good gamer, mostly because of the inclusion of a GTX670 which is the most important component.
As to value, I can't say. Add up the price of individual components, and see how it compares to the package price.

As to the package components, I would change things in four areas.

1) The 3450 is a fine cpu, but a 3570K is stronger and can be overclocked from the default of 3.4 to 4.3 with ease.
2) Exactly which braoh of psu? There are good brands and bad ones. A cheap psu is the last place to economize.
3) Ram is cheap, but gamers really don't need more than 8gb.
4) I would use an aftermarket cpu cooler with a slow turning 120mm fan. Even without an overclock, it will keep your cpu cooler and quieter.
!