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Need all but PSU and GPU. New PC For Win8, Gaming (i3 3220?)

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October 2, 2012 5:40:50 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a month or two (want to get Windows 8).

Budget Range: < $550 (including Windows 8 OEM or retail)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming (need to play BF3 multilayer better for sure), Photo editing and movie making, Software Engineering, Home Office, Internet.

Parts Not Required:

1) Keyboard, mouse, monitors, speakers
2) GPU (3 year old HIS HD 4870 IceQ 4+ Turbo 512MB)
3) PSU (3 year old Corsair VX550W - 550 watts 41A 12v rail)
4) DVD RW Drive from my old Dell 530

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any reputable site, live near Micro Center.

Country: USA

Parts Preferences:
1) INTEL CPU
2) UEFI Motherboard to make 3TB+ drives easy to use in the future, unless this is expensive to have now
3) Prefer case large enough for easy upgrades in the future if needed (i.e. 2nd harddrive, 2 GPUs, 2 tv tuner card, etc).

Overclocking: No desire

SLI or Crossfire: No, not right now

Monitor Resolution: 1680x1050 (main), 1920x1080 (occasionally use on TV)

Additional Comments: This is the first whole computer I would be putting together, so nothing too complicated. I try to stretch getting a new PC every 4-5 years.

I also know my ATI 4870 512MB is now 4-year old tech. However, I have noticed that I am bottle-necked by my current CPU (Core 2 Due E6550 @ 2.33ghz) on many games, more so than my GPU, especially when playing Battlefield 3 multiplayer.

Thus I think money spent on a new computer will be where to start. I hope I can get at least another year out of my 4870 before upgrading.

For CPUs I'm considering the following Ivy Bridge (prices from Micro Center):

i7 3770 $260 (4 core/8 thread, 3.4Ghz)
i5 3450 $150 (4 core/4 thread, 3.5Ghz)
i3 3220 $100 (2 core/4 thread, 3.3Ghz)

I understand the basic differences (cores/threads), but beyond that, what are the differences between these? Some questions:

1) If I buy the i3 (or i5), can I upgrade to an i7 a down the road?
2) Does the i3 support PCI 3? (I know the i5 and i7 does)
3) Which is more future proof for gaming? What I mean is when I bought my current PC, I could have spent a little more and got a Core 2 Quad instead of Core 2 Duo. Those 4 cores would have helped with games like Anno 1404, but not with Battlefield 3 multiplayer (from what I can tell). Despite having 2x the threads, the speed of the architecture couldn't keep up with Sandy or Ivy bridge 4 core CPU. While I'd like having 8 threads, couldn't the "future proofing" be just as limited as buying a Core 2 Quad over Core 2 Duo?
4) i3 uses hyper-threading to achieve 4 threads, i5 doesn't. What type of performance problems could this bring?
October 9, 2012 11:03:18 AM

The best VALUE, in terms of performance, AND a degree of future proofing (not that there really is any such thing) is the i5. Hyperthreading is pointless, for gaming, as no games use it, and aren't likely to, for several years to come. i3 is only a small step down from i5, in gaming terms, as very few games make any use of the extra cores, of i5, but that is more likely to change, so go with i5, unless finances force you to go i3. There is absolutely no point in going i7, unless you want to do fairly "high-end" photographic work.
If you are using a locked processor, you don't NEED to use a Z77 mobo, a H77 would be adequate. However, a Z77, like an ASRock Z77 Extreme 4, whilst some of it's features will be wasted, does give better scope, for adding 2nd GPU, or other expansions. An alternative would be one of the Asus P8H77 ATX mobos, but that would limit you to Radeon graphics, if you wanted TWO.
As to case, something like Corsair Carbide 400r, or 500r, would be good, but as they're so much personal choice, it's better for you to pick a couple, you like the look of, and we can say which is best.
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October 9, 2012 11:29:22 AM

Other thing is that PSU may be starting to age now.

512MB may be getting a bit small, so I would say a GPU update is also a good idea at some point.

1)Yes
2)Also yes
3)As above, very little difference between i5 and i7. i5 vastly superior to i3 (also has turbo boost).
4)i3 won't see a major difference between HT turned on or off. Consider it as just another dual core.

My advice on a motherboard is a Asrock z77 pro3 if not planning to SLI (CF only), or an Extreme3 if SLIing in the future.
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October 9, 2012 11:37:50 AM

The other thing is FORGET Windows 8. From what I've heard, it's c**p. Get Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit, and upgrade later, when you've had a chance to see what 8 may offer you!
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October 9, 2012 11:42:43 AM

Yup, Win8 is a pain. Ever tried something like hovering over an invisible bar, then a couple of non-obvious clicks just to shut it down?
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May 24, 2013 9:59:51 AM

Windows 8 is the easiest thing in the world. I have been a system builder since 99 and I have no issue with windows 8. If the interface feels uncomfortable or unintuitive at first just give it a few days of patient use. If you are still not a fan of it just install Classic Shell which will give you all the interfacing options of windows 7/XP/2000. Besides all this, windows 8 runs most frugally and will help with overall purchase cost. Classic Shell, by the way, is free. Besides, Microsoft is starting a new phase of OS updates with windows 8. The first of these scheduled updates, Windows 8.1, codenamed Blue, should roll out by fall of this year. 8.1 promises to have native integration of a lot of the "features" many feel are missing since the update from 7. So all this plus the efficiency and broad integration of 8 will be supported with more regular, cheaper, updates.

On choosing a processor. I cannot fully recommend buying an i3 at this point in the game. Sure, you can get one now and swap it out later for a more powerful cpu of the same socket but I think it is a little wasteful when a few more bucks get you in the door of a much more versatile and "future proof" cpu. Multicore and Hyperthreading types of technology are here to stay. Not only are these powerful technologies but they are also more efficient. Software developers have slowly been inclining themselves towards the new cpus and will soon (don't ask me how soon) show lots of support across the field.
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