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[New Build] Cheap gaming/media computer

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September 5, 2012 7:23:41 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: By the end of the month

Budget Range: $300-$500

System Usage from Most to Least Important
: Video streaming, gaming

Are you buying a monitor: No

Do you need to buy OS
: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Location: Florida

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire:
No

Your Monitor Resolution:
1920x1080

Ok just a bit more information...this is for a friend looking to stream video to his TV (1080P LCD) and the occasional video game. He wants to be able to play games like Battlefield 3 and other demanding games but he is NOT an experienced PC gamer...so I want to get him a system that will not have issues playing these games (ie no intensive tweaking). He wants a small(ish) PC so I think Microatx is the appropriate choice.

Budget is also a big concern, and yes I realize asking for a high performance machine for cheap is a lot. I build tons of PC's however all of my PC's are pretty high end...I don't have a lot of experience picking parts on the low end of the spectrum so hopefully some of you may have other ideas.

Anyways, this is the build right now ($486 with promo code):

Case: Rosewill RANGER-M
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MOBO: ASRock 960GM/U3S3 FX AM3+
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157323

RAM: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W ATX12V v2.3 Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: Seagate 2TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner: ASUS 24X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Video card: Radeon HD 7770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So here's where I am having some second thoughts...the CPU/mobo seems cheap and the CPU especially sounds fairly powerful...but will it be enough or are there better options for around the same price (ie i5/i7/i3/ect)?

For the video card, benchmarks look decent for the price but at around that price is there a different model I should be looking at? Will it even fit into the micro-atx-mini-tower I have listed?

Any other thoughts/criticisms/suggestions are totally welcome, and thanks much for looking at this :D 
September 5, 2012 7:40:08 PM

I'd try and find a different case. The lighted 120mm on the front will be a distraction, and the 80mm on the rear will be noisy.
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September 5, 2012 8:02:14 PM

Might be a good idea, will take that into consideration. My main concern is the hardware components though (ie CPU/MOBO/Video card).
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September 5, 2012 8:18:57 PM

Case - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... (Get a 120mm fan in addition and place on the side panel position for better airflow.

Motherboard - http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Get him to AM3+ for upgrade-ability and USB 3.0

Maybe drop down to a 1TB drive? Not many here feel that having a 2TB system drive is a good idea.

The other components seem good to me.

An aftermarket CPU cooler would be good if you can fit it.
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September 5, 2012 8:24:46 PM

Good idea on the motherboard...and considering it's only a marginal increase in cost def a good idea.

I'll see what he says about the case...initially he wanted one of those really small micro-atx cases so size is definitely a factor here.

Regarding the drive size any reason why? The reason he wants so much space is he has TONS of videos and wants to store them on the box to stream to his TV.
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September 5, 2012 8:44:10 PM

derekg said:
Approximate Purchase Date: By the end of the month

Budget Range: $300-$500

System Usage from Most to Least Important
: Video streaming, gaming

Are you buying a monitor: No

Do you need to buy OS
: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Location: Florida

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire:
No

Your Monitor Resolution:
1920x1080

Ok just a bit more information...this is for a friend looking to stream video to his TV (1080P LCD) and the occasional video game. He wants to be able to play games like Battlefield 3 and other demanding games but he is NOT an experienced PC gamer...so I want to get him a system that will not have issues playing these games (ie no intensive tweaking). He wants a small(ish) PC so I think Microatx is the appropriate choice.

Budget is also a big concern, and yes I realize asking for a high performance machine for cheap is a lot. I build tons of PC's however all of my PC's are pretty high end...I don't have a lot of experience picking parts on the low end of the spectrum so hopefully some of you may have other ideas.

Anyways, this is the build right now ($486 with promo code):

Case: Rosewill RANGER-M
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Ok. I've been happy with Rosewill cases. You may find lights distracting on a HTPC though.

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black Edition Deneb 3.4GHz
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
No. Recent reviews and benchmarks have clearly shown that there is no longer any price point at which Intel does not outperform AMD in games. While you could overclock an unlocked 965BE to reach parity with a locked i3 in many games, you'd be using a lot more power, generating more heat and noise, and would need to buy an aftermarket cooler, adding ~$30 to the cost. Upgrading the Intel rig to an i5 would leave AMD in the dust (remember, this is in games, not the few well-threaded applications at which AMD actually performs well).

MOBO: ECS A780LM-M2 AM3 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
ECS is a bit risky for my tastes. I'd go Asus, ASRock, or Gigabyte. The 760G is old tech, but hopefully you'll switch this to Intel, making that moot.

RAM: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10600)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Ok.

PSU: COOLER MASTER eXtreme Power Plus RS500-PCARD3-US 500W ATX12V v2.3 Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Fecal material. This is among the many CM PSUs that HardwareSecrets found to be dishonestly labeled. Seasonic (or anything built by them), Antec, Corsair, FSP, and Enermax/LEPA are among the better brands.

HDD: Seagate 2TB
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Not with a 1 year warranty. Most (but not all) WD Black drives still have five year warranties; that's the one you want.

DVD Burner: ASUS 24X DVD Burner
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Ok.

Video card: Radeon HD 7770
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I normally like HIS, but the coolers on their basic cards are loud. I'd probably choose this MSI instead: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So here's where I am having some second thoughts...the CPU/mobo seems cheap and the CPU especially sounds fairly powerful...but will it be enough or are there better options for around the same price (ie i5/i7/i3/ect)?
Even a Pentium G860 will outperform the 965 in games.

For the video card, benchmarks look decent for the price but at around that price is there a different model I should be looking at? Will it even fit into the micro-atx-mini-tower I have listed?
The HD7770 is not a huge card. I suggested an alternative that should be quieter, but either would fit.

Any other thoughts/criticisms/suggestions are totally welcome, and thanks much for looking at this :D 

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September 5, 2012 8:54:01 PM

What about Roswill for PSU? Also, updated the mobo and video card in the main post.
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September 5, 2012 8:54:26 PM

For the same price point that he's at, I'll take the quad over a Pentium dual. Plus, you'll be spending more to get a decent mobo for it. Not bashing Intel, but the sale that the Egg's got on that AMD CPU is hard to pass up.
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September 5, 2012 8:57:00 PM

I would suggest getting an i3 instead
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September 5, 2012 8:58:00 PM

I know the i5/i7/i3/ect are faster...but the main thing here is price and if the cpu/mobo can get the job done for gaming. The articles I've read seem to indicate the 965BE does just fine for games including stuff like BF3.

I had this system spec'd out with a 2500K earlier but it was nearly $170 more expensive.

"I would suggest getting an i3 instead"

Which one?
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September 5, 2012 9:04:39 PM

derekg said:
I know the i5/i7/i3/ect are faster...but the main thing here is price and if the cpu/mobo can get the job done for gaming. The articles I've read seem to indicate the 965BE does just fine for games including stuff like BF3.

I had this system spec'd out with a 2500K earlier but it was nearly $170 more expensive.

"I would suggest getting an i3 instead"

Which one?


i3-2120 bro
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September 5, 2012 9:05:48 PM

NEW (but not old) Rosewill PSUs are decent. If it has a little voltage switch on it, it's one of the old ones.
That "960" mobo is old tech. If you're bound and determined to go AMD, get a 970 board at least. But really, it won't be long before you regret not getting the Intel rig.
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September 5, 2012 9:06:52 PM

"i3-2120 bro"

I'm not seeing a huge performance difference...and as I said price is the main thing. The CPU alone is $40 more expensive. If it's not going to significantly increase performance, I'm not sure it's worth it to my friend.

Most games are video card dependent anyways.

"NEW (but not old) Rosewill PSUs are decent. If it has a little voltage switch on it, it's one of the old ones.
That "960" mobo is old tech. If you're bound and determined to go AMD, get a 970 board at least. But really, it won't be long before you regret not getting the Intel rig. "

I'll look into it. This is for a friend though...like I mentioned above he is really budget minded and not a huge gamer to begin with. I have a intel system myself.

Basically I'm looking for the cheapest way to get the job done.
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September 5, 2012 9:23:12 PM

Onus said:
That "960" mobo is old tech. If you're bound and determined to go AMD, get a 970 board at least. But really, it won't be long before you regret not getting the Intel rig.


He would have to jump up $20 to get a 970 board, and I can't see any tech differences that his friend would take advantage of in that price range.
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October 5, 2012 12:19:00 AM

Best answer selected by derekg.
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