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First time Builder: Gaming $500-550 (AMD vs Intel)

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September 7, 2012 9:48:18 AM

Hi everybody. I'm pretty new to the forums. I decided to build a computer a couple weeks ago. I have been reading through the forums and I finally decided to try a post of my own. I am a poor college student with rudimentary computer knowledge so any help would be GREATLYappreciated!! :) 

Some general Questions I have..

1. I hope to buy parts soon, and my budget is capped at $600. Do you think it is worth to start looking for parts now or to wait until bigger sales such as Black Friday? Are there any other upcoming hardware sales or seasonal times in which prices drop?

2. The only reason why I don't take the Tom's $500 build is because I was hoping to make a better/cheaper cpu through online and store deals! Possibly buying parts piece by piece.. Of course I would start with a Mobo and a processor.. Thoughts on this?

3. AMD vs Intel. From what I've learned Intel is superior if you have more money to spend. What kind of processor/mobo do you think I should get? Specific suggestions would be wonderful!! I'd prefer something reliable.
Also something I can eventually upgrade would be of great importance to me. This PC will be a large investment for me and I hope to improve upon it. (I am leaning towards Intel only because it is a larger company!)
This is the hardest part for me!!!

4. What are the top Graphics cards for this price range? =D


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Approximate Purchase Date: By the end of Nov 2012, the latest.

Budget Range: (e.g.: 500-550) Before rebate and after shipping. $600 Max!

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming!

Are you buying a monitor: Yes (maybe craigslist)



Parts to Upgrade: I basically Need to buy EVERYTHING except for a mouse.

Do you need to buy OS: I think I can find a copy for free somewhere.. =P

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: No preference

Location: City, State/Region, Country - California, US

Parts Preferences: Intel or AMD?

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Your Monitor Resolution: No monitor yet

Additional Comments: Noise is not too important

Thanks again in advance!

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EDIT
I do realize I am asking for a lot of things.
I think I need help most with questions 3 and 4! (Mobo, processor, graphics card!) :) 
September 7, 2012 6:34:59 PM

A few directions to cover! Your comment about building, at the end of November will help, as you should be able to save money in Black Friday sales (day after Thanksgiving).
If you want to get something decent, in this build, and make it as easy as possible to upgrade to something really good, as funds become available, the Intel route is definitely best. If you want something decent now, full stop!!, AMD can be a cheaper option. I'm in the UK, so I don't know what sort of deal you can get, via Craigslist.
I think it may be easiest to work, with a budget, now, of $600, excluding monitor, on the assumption you should be able to get some things a lot cheaper in BF sale. Thing is, get the basics right, at the start, and you can end up with something very good, even if you have to wait, a bit, to acheive "excellent", with a tight initial budget.
September 8, 2012 7:23:33 AM

Thank you for the advice!
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September 8, 2012 7:34:21 AM

I would agree, its better off to wait til you're closer to a build date. Now, you have a pretty tight budget to be honest with you. At that price range, your best options are going to be a Phenom II 965 or an i3. Although, the Phenom IIs may no longer be available at that time. Both CPUs perform about the same for gaming, the tradeoff is that i3s cannot be overclocked, Phenom IIs can. Contrary to commentary on benchmark websites (like this one), theres no discernible difference in performance between either.

Quote:
Also something I can eventually upgrade would be of great importance to me. This PC will be a large investment for me and I hope to improve upon it. (I am leaning towards Intel only because it is a larger company!)
This is the hardest part for me!!!


The problem with "upgrading" is it depends on what parts you're talking about upgrading. If you're talking about buying an i3 CPU and a year from now swapping it for an i5. Thats generally a waste of money, and it makes much more sense just to save up longer and buy the right product that meets your needs in the first place. Its usually going to be the better option to build something cheaper that meets your needs for 2-4 years and then save your case, power supply, hard drive and optical drive and do a new build of the mobo, CPU, RAM (if DDR4 comes into play at that time) and video card.

Quote:

4. What are the top Graphics cards for this price range? =D


Well, really it depends on your needs. For gaming, the video card is the most critical choice, yes the CPU is important, but for most games not as important as the video card choice. Really it comes down to your expectations, if you're expecting to max out the most system intensive games on the market today @ 1920x1080p resolution, its not going to happen at your budget range especially if that budget has to cover a monitor purchase as well.
September 8, 2012 7:37:31 AM

To give you a point of reference, this would be a respectable gaming system if you were purchasing today, although it does not include a monitor or OS.

Intel i3 build
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/gSdt

AMD Phenom II build
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/gSdT

My personal preference is going to fall on the AMD one, as the Phenom II does have superior multi-threading performance, which while most games don't really see an advantage from it, it does matter in productivity type software. Either would be very decent entry-level gaming systems.
September 8, 2012 8:28:20 AM

nekulturny said:
To give you a point of reference, this would be a respectable gaming system if you were purchasing today, although it does not include a monitor or OS.

Intel i3 build
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/gSdt

AMD Phenom II build
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/gSdT

My personal preference is going to fall on the AMD one, as the Phenom II does have superior multi-threading performance, which while most games don't really see an advantage from it, it does matter in productivity type software. Either would be very decent entry-level gaming systems.



Thanks for taking the time to reply!

I am not doing any intense gaming. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.. Just HoN, Dota2, and possibly SC2 or D3 at the most!

How do you think the intel build with i3 compares to this build?
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-pc-overclock...

Are there large differences between i3 and intelG860?

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September 8, 2012 8:34:23 AM
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You're welcome. The i3 is sufficent for those kind of games. MMORPGs are not particularly system intensive, actually you could probably drop down on the video card a little bit, and go with something like a 6870.

As far as the Intel build compares with the one in the System Builder Marathon, the 7850 is a better video card than the 560, but perfectly adequate for those kinds of games you mentioned.

The motherboard is similarly spec'd in the features that actually "matter".

Hard Drive is the same.

Case, thats really a personal thing. They're both decent cases, although I'd say the Elite 430 looks more aesthetically pleasing than the Rosewill one.

The Corsair Power supply I linked in my opinion is better. It has an 80+ efficiency certification and its a JonnyGuru recommended PSU.

As far as the difference between the Pentium G860 and i3. Honestly, and this is largely my own opinion talking, and may not necessarily translate into actual performance.

The G860s are actually very decent for what they are (budget level CPUs), they perform very closely to the i3 in a lot of situations, however, the performance they offer is incidental, they are not meant to be "gaming processors" even if they can game okay. They also do not have HyperThreading, HT has no direct impact on gaming performance, but it can have an indirect impact via HT's potential to remove bottlenecks from background programs while playing games.
September 8, 2012 9:45:04 AM

Thanks so much for your time, this really helped! :) 
September 8, 2012 9:45:14 AM

Best answer selected by ctomster.
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