$700 First build - Gaming/Casual build

I was trying to use the sticky's format, but it became extremely tedious because I've already spent a lot of time making a forum post on a different forum. It has everything you guys need to know (I think) so I really hope that you can bear with me and still help me out:

I really appreciate anyone who will have taken the time to read this and especially then proceeded helped me out. Thank you in advance.

So this is my first computer build. I started working on it earlier in the year, and then put a hiatus on it. I came back to it with a better idea of what my specifications were; I think that it's basically done, but I need some advice and help. My questions are further down this post.

Why I'm doing this: I've heard that building a custom computer is or can be cheaper than buying one with the same specs via retail. It's time for a new computer, and a nice one (at least compared to the ones I've had [two]) at that.

What I'm going for: I don't really know if I want to be a PC gamer, but I want to try it. It would make sense because with Steam I can get amazing deals and play games easily. If I really enjoy PC gaming, I want to be able to continue to game on the PC in decent game settings, but I don't need the best. I would do school work on it and open a massive amount of Chrome tabs. I would multitask with Photo Shop, and a lot of other programs. I would like to be able to upgrade my computer in the future. I use my computer a lot and would like just a nice experience to the extent that my budget allows me.

Ideal price: $700 hopefully including shipping and taxes, not including warranty (Almost fully fixed budget. Give [only if you think something's really worth it] or take [ha, I wish] 20 dollars).

I'm buying from the USA.

I do not have any brand preference as long as my build can get done what I would like.

I might intend on using my current 500gb HDD as well as the one that I list in my custom build/rig. I don't know what it is in regards to name or company. I'm going to be using my DAS mechanical keyboard, my own mouse, speakers, and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about my OS. I'm also not sure about a monitor, and I'll go into detail with that later in this post.

I don't have much knowledge about overclocking. Should I do it? Do I need to? Can I for my budget?

I plan to hopefully build it within the month of December, and buy the parts from now until early December. I've not bought any parts yet.

I would like to be able to play games in high, but I don't know if I'll be able to with my budget and what I am asking for. I don't have any hopes for ultra. Resolution would hopefully be around 1920x1080, I don't really know.

I'd like an SSD if I can. Actually, I want the best of anything and everything that I can get with my budget. I do realize that my budget is rather low for what I would like. I will deal with what I can get.

Here's my custom rig and the questions that follow (all compiled via Newegg):

CPU/Processor: AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 3.3GHz Socket AM3+ 95W Six-Core Desktop Processor FD6100WMGUSBX
Model #:FD6100WMGUSBX
Item #:N82E16819103962

Graphics card: EVGA 01G-P3-1556-KR GeForce GTX 550 Ti (Fermi) FPB 1GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card
Model #:01G-P3-1556-KR
Item #:N82E16814130625

Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 R2.0 AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
Model #:M5A97 R2.0
Item #:N82E16813131873

Computer case: COOLER MASTER HAF 912 RC-912-KKN1 Black SECC/ ABS Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
Model #:RC-912-KKN1
Item #:N82E16811119233

RAM/memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
Model #:F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
Item #:N82E16820231314

HDD: Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Model #:ST1000DM003
Item #:N82E16822148840

SSD (essentially for speedy boot up): OCZ Solid 3 SLD3-25SAT3-60G 2.5" 60GB SATA III MLC
Model #:SLD3-25SAT3-60G
Item #:N82E16820227728

DVD Burner: ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
Model #:DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS
Item #:N82E16827135204

PSU: OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular High Performance Power Supply compatible with Intel Sandybridge Core i3 i5 i7 and AMD Phenom
Model #:OCZ700MXSP
Item #:N82E16817341018

1) Is there anything I should add, remove, or replace?
2) Were some or all of these parts fairly well selected?
3) Is everything compatible with each other?
4) Will everything fit well together?
5a) Is it highly recommended that I use a aftermarket heatsink & fan?
5b) If so, would it be okay if I used the stock and then eventually replaced it with an aftermarket heatsink & fan, or would that be too much of a hassle?
6) Although my current computer is a pain to use (not unbearable), would you highly recommend waiting until I have a higher budget (I'm a 17 year old with no job, so this might be hard to do), or is my budget all right?
7) Would the following idea be fine, or would this conflict with my current setup: when I get the money, I'll buy 2 sticks of 8gb ddr3 1600 ram from whoever would be the best to buy from, and add it to the current memory that I will already have.
8) Do you have a better idea in regards to the previous question?
9) Is there anything else I should know that I haven't asked about?

These parts are all compiled into a wishlist via Newegg, and so it would be helpful if any parts that were recommended were available through such. BUT if you think that I can get better parts or other parts for a better price, I'm open to suggestions.


I like this one that my brother has: ViewSonic VX2450wm-LED - 24" w/ Stereo speakers
But my ideal budget for a monitor would be 150. I like the idea of big and high quality. I don't need any speakers on it. I wasn't planning on asking any advice for a monitor, but I figured why not?

Misc questions:

10) What's your opinion on leaving a desktop pc on for an extended period of time? Is it fine?
11) Should I just forget about all of this and buy a retail pre-manufactured desktop pc?

Although I would appreciate as many questions being answered as possible, if you want or can only answer a select few, I would still appreciate it. 1-9 are more important than the final two questions.

Again, thank you so much to whoever answers any of my questions. I really do appreciate it. Have a wonderful day.
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Best answer
    1. You'v got the build mostly right. Some tweaks are possible yes.
    The CPU I would downgrade to a Phenom II x4 965. Bulldozers are notoriously bad in single threaded performance, to the point where "downgrading" to a last gen chip is a legitimate move.
    AMD Phenom II x4 965. $100

    HD7770 over a 550Ti.
    Sapphire HD7770. $125 ($15 rebate)

    You can get a smaller PSU without issue. Wont be able to Crossfire/SLI on this supply, but sacrifices have to made at this kind of budget.
    XFX Core 550W. $65 ($10 rebate)

    Getting an SSD at that capacity isn't really worth it. You lose a good amount due to formatting, and Windows is another 20GB on top of that. Also that is OCZ bottom tier drive, not very quick. When getting an SSD it should be at least 128GB and preferably a higher end drive.

    2. Fairly good for the most part.

    3. Yep.

    4. Yes

    5a. If you want to overclock it is.

    5b. Its fairly easy to install aftermarket heat-sinks, or at least it isn't so complicated that it becomes a reason not too.

    6. Waiting till you have more cash to get better components will save you money in the long run, and performance on the PC will be better. This is especially relevant given that Haswell (next Intel CPU architecture) and the Radeon HD8000 series will be coming out mid next year and new year respectively. Whether you get a new PC now or later depends whether you want/need the performance now, versus dealing with the old PC until you can scrounge up some more money.

    7. The 8GB kit you have specced is already plenty, no need for more. But if you do, make sure its the same kit. Mixing different RAM's can lead to all sorts of problems.

    8. Already said it, 8GB is plenty if the most intensive thing you are doing is office applications and gaming.

    9. Not that I can think of.

    When looking for a monitor, you want a 1920x1080/1200 resolution, 5ms or less response time and LED back-lighting. Preferably VESA mounting as well. Beyond that, you will have to start looking at reviews on the monitor to distinguish it from others. IPS panels arent needed for gaming.
    This seems to be good.
    ACER G235HAbd 23''. $140

    10. Is fine, though dont leave it on for a week. Losing money on power and the temp files get clogged full of stuff if you leave it on that long.

    11. Lord no, Custom over Pre-built any day.
  2. This just in case you want higher multi threads and some fun OC'ing. Plus the 550 Ti works sufficiently.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: AMD FX-8120 3.1GHz 8-Core Processor ($139.99 @ Microcenter)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-990FXA-UD5 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($139.98 @ NCIX US)
    Memory: Corsair Vengeance 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($49.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($77.99 @ SuperBiiz)
    Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB Video Card ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
    Case: Cooler Master HAF 922 ATX Mid Tower Case ($89.99 @ Newegg)
    Power Supply: OCZ ZT 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($69.98 @ NCIX US)
    Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.99 @ Newegg)
    Total: $677.90
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-22 22:25 EDT-0400)
  3. For the budget, I'd go with an Intel chip honestly.

    Check out my $650 build here:
    The 6870 is by far better than the 7770 even if the 7770 is overclocked. The 6870 although a generation back is much much better than the 550 Ti and 7770. The i5 3450 is better than the majority of AMD chips especially in gaming.

    7770 vs 6870
  4. With a $700 budget you can actually get a pretty decent gaming machine.

    PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Newegg)
    Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
    Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
    Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
    Video Card: Asus Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($177.99 @ Newegg)
    Case: Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.98 @ NCIX US)
    Power Supply: OCZ ModXStream Pro 600W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($39.25 @ NCIX US)
    Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
    Total: $602.73
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-09-22 23:50 EDT-0400)

    You can get a copy of Windows 7 HP OEM and still make your budget (after rebates).

    The dual core i3 is a surprisingly good performer for gaming, and a Radeon 7850 will give you very good gaming performance at resolutions up to 1920 x 1080. You will have to sacrifice the SSD, but that's really a luxury at the $700 price point. You can add one later when you save more money.
  5. Best answer selected by HigginsHere.
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