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$400-$500 Gaming Build

Last response: in Systems
October 1, 2012 6:05:32 AM

Approximate Purchase Date: this week or next week

Budget Range: $400-$500

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, internet browsing, movie watching

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: CPU, Mobo, GPU, PSU, possibly case

Do you need to buy OS: Maybe (I'll explain in a bit)

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:

Overclocking: highly unlikely

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050

Parts selected: VisionTek 900505 Radeon HD 7850 2GB
CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W
Intel Core i3-3220

I'm building this for a friend who's in pretty desperate need of an upgrade. He's currently using an ASUS CM5671-05 Desktop He wants his new PC to last for at least the next two years without an upgrade and still play games like BF3 and SC2 with good visuals. I don't want to use terms like high and ultra because this year's high will be low or medium in 2 years and this year's high for some games is already pretty damn good looking. He doesn't need a lot of features on his motherboard, so I don't need anything more than a single PCI 3.0x16 slot, a few sata ports, and a couple usb 2 and 3 ports.

I have a few questions though. For one, does he need a new OS? I'm not sure if the one he got is OEM or if that matters. If he does, either I or him can just pick one up for cheap because we're both college students. I hope it isn't necessary, however.

I'm also planning on using the case that his current computer is in. While it doesn't have very good cooling, it does have large amount of vents on the side that he can put a large fan to along with a small front fan (intake is on the bottom? strange). I want to keep the price as low as possible, so unless it is impossible to put the new motherboard in the computer, I'd like to avoid getting a new case.

Do you guys think it would be worth the extra 70 bucks to get the quad-core I5 3450? Like I said, this build should last him at least 2 years, and will the extra 2 cores make that much of a difference if he's just gaming and not necessarily doing much more multitasking other than a few internet tabs and Skype?

More about : 400 500 gaming build

a b 4 Gaming
October 1, 2012 6:25:55 AM

Parts seem compatible.
The XFX Core Edition Radeon HD 7850 1GB is a cheaper alternative.

An OEM version of an OS means it'll be tied to the motherboard it was installed to. So you'll have to find that out.

What case do you currently have?

The i5-3450 is a better investment if you want this system to last for at least 2 years, yes.
October 1, 2012 6:47:20 AM

The video card you linked is only $5 cheaper for 1GB less VRAM. I think the extra gig is worth it.

Yeah, his comp already has 4 GB of ram so I'll just re-use that.

The case he has is the one in the link I posted in the OP. There's more pictures of it there.

As for the i5, it really depends on if he's willing to spend more. Will there be bottlenecking with the 7870 if I stay with the i3? I can't seem to find gaming benchmarks for that particular CPU, so if anyone has any they can post that would be great.

Related resources
October 1, 2012 7:04:49 AM

If you are an engineer in college you should be able to obtain a license key for windows 7 or maybe even 8 these days through msdnaa. Ask a prof.

Yeah so you'll want to pull out the old ram and hard drive for the new build, and reuse the monitor.
At that price level it is a better idea to save money on the case/psu and buy better internals. Function beats form right?
Cheapest motherboard on the market - asrock h61m-dgs, $45
As good a cpu as any of the ivy bridge chips, plus it will run cooler than ivy bridge. $117
Functional Rosewill case - $30
Well-built power supply for reliability - $70
Great radeon hd 7770 - $140

Total $402
You could choose to go up to $500 and upgrade to either a 7850 or a 3450 - I'd go with th 7850
October 1, 2012 7:15:06 AM

It looks like that's a standard microATX motherboard in that case, so your new motherboard should work. If cooling is an issue you can just add a couple of fans.

You might want to consider this motherboard. $3 more after shipping is added and its a better board (more connectivity options, better sound chip).

As to getting his old installation of Windows to work with the new parts there's something you can try that might work. I've never done this myself but I've heard it works in cases where motherboards are swapped out.

Before you start swapping out parts start up the computer one last time and go into device manager and uninstall all devices including motherboard/system devices. Ignore any prompts to restart. When you've deleted every device you can you power down and swap out the parts and reconnect everything. Hopefully when you start up you'll get a whole lot of new device found messages and Windows will be able to install drivers for all of them. You may need to have a Windows CD available if it can find drivers on the hard disk.

Note that even if this works and you get Windows to work with the new parts you may have activation issues to deal with.

I don't think the lack of quad core is going to cause a problem in most games over the next couple of years.
October 1, 2012 8:12:42 AM

Alright, so it looks like Windows 7 was pre-installed on his old computer. He doesn't have a Windows 7 CD. So simply swapping out the motherboard isn't going to work right? Is it or is it not an OEM version of Windows 7? Is there any way to tell?
October 1, 2012 9:51:45 AM

Just try to get a license through the engineering department if you're in an engineering field. The discs are legal downloads from microsoft and an installed copy will work for one month unlicensed until you can sort out msdnaa.