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Budget gaming build (>$500) for a friend

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October 9, 2012 8:41:47 PM

(**Original build idea can be seen quoted a couple messages below. This is being updated as feedback and discussion takes place.**)

I'm in the beginning phases of building a system for a friend of mine from scratch, and she is carrying nothing over from inside the case (other than having a copy of Windows to use), but has a mouse, keyboard, etc. There is a $500 hard limit, but she requested that I keep it closer to $450 if possible, so I compromised and have given myself a $475 hard limit. Shipping costs are not an issue (I have ShopRunner), and Mail-In rebates should not be deducted from the total; I'm am looking at the transaction cost in and of itself (of course promo codes and instant rebates can be included). There are really no local shops around either except BestBuy, so this will all be done through Newegg because I prefer that site, and because I have ShopRunner.


Anyways, here is the stuff I have picked out:

Phenom II x4 965 CPU (combo'd with DVD-RW for whatever reason... Need one anyways!):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

ASRock Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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

Antec VP-450 450W Power Supply:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.Skill Ares 8GB Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec 300 steel ATX mid Case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD Blue 500GB HDD:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The two things I'm questioning are the case, and the processor. I know about the Athlon II's having potential to unlock into something greater (my $70 Athlon II x3 455 unlocked into a Phenom II x4 B55), saving about $20-30 on that category, but since it's not my build I'm not sure I'm willing to risk it. Obviously I'll be having her approve of everything before I spend her money too, but this is simply phase one.

This build comes in at $468 at this point, so there is a LITTLE wiggle room, but I don't want to go too much higher. And to anyone that might suggest grabbing the FX-4170 instead of the current CPU... I'm already considering it but would like opinions as to whether it will be a worthwhile $20 upgrade in conjunction with the rest of the build, and if maybe there is still a corner to cut somewhere else (maybe with the case?). I'd definitely be uncomfortable going any further down on the graphics since the Radeon 4800 series is pretty much gone at this point, and higher 5000 series cards still tend to cost quite a bit.
October 9, 2012 11:43:38 PM

That all looks reasonably good (you won't get much better for the money). The Phenom overclocks quite well, although, of course, you will need aftermarket cooler, to do so.
October 10, 2012 12:01:06 AM

pay $20 more for the 7770.
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October 10, 2012 3:53:42 AM

malbluff said:
That all looks reasonably good (you won't get much better for the money). The Phenom overclocks quite well, although, of course, you will need aftermarket cooler, to do so.


Awesome, I'm proud of myself for making good decisions off the bat with it only being the second/third build (making one of my own at around the same time)! :p 

Out of curiosity... If this were your own build and you had the same budget, would you personally risk getting the Athlon II x3 and just hope that it unlocks to save money? Mainly so that I can upgrade something like the video card, as the other person suggested.

She's not extremely techy, just a bit above basic knowledge regarding the inside of the case, so I doubt she'll be overclocking also. I should have mentioned that in the original post.

festerovic said:
pay $20 more for the 7770.


Will look into that. However, I would REALLY like to cut back on something (most probably the case) if I bump it up another $20 in that category.
October 10, 2012 4:05:46 AM

tiny voices said:
Get a 7770 for sure.

also get this power supply:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

It is a great power supply and will be excellent for this build. I have basically the same entire build minus the MOBO with a 7770. Its an amazing budget build.


I'm not really a fan of 2 12V rails, but that's a little bit of a nitpicky thing in light of knowing it's significantly cheaper and still a decent PSU brand. I hate to steer away from SeaSonic or OCZ though... Those are the only things I've ever replaced old ones with or built with and have NEVER had issues with any of them.

I'll definitely consider that though, thanks a lot! Price wise it helps to get the 7770 and all too, so definitely worthwhile to look at.
October 10, 2012 4:21:38 AM

jkremis said:
I'm in the beginning phases of building a system for a friend of mine from scratch, and she is carrying nothing over from inside the case (other than having a copy of Windows to use), but has a mouse, keyboard, etc. There is a $500 hard limit, but she requested that I keep it closer to $450 if possible, so I compromised and have given myself a $475 hard limit. Shipping costs are not an issue (I have ShopRunner), and Mail-In rebates should not be deducted from the total; I'm am looking at the transaction cost in and of itself (of course promo codes and instant rebates can be included). There are really no local shops around either except BestBuy, so this will all be done through Newegg because I prefer that site, and because I have ShopRunner.


Anyways, here is the stuff I have picked out:

Phenom II x4 965 CPU (combo'd with DVD-RW for whatever reason... Need one anyways!):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

ASRock Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX Radeon HD 6750 Graphics:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SeaSonic Bronze 520W Power Supply:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.Skill Ares 8GB Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec 300 steel ATX mid Case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD Blue 500GB HDD:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


The two things I'm questioning are the case, and the processor. I know about the Athlon II's having potential to unlock into something greater (my $70 Athlon II x3 455 unlocked into a Phenom II x4 B55), saving about $20-30 on that category, but since it's not my build I'm not sure I'm willing to risk it. Obviously I'll be having her approve of everything before I spend her money too, but this is simply phase one.

This build comes in at $468 at this point, so there is a LITTLE wiggle room, but I don't want to go too much higher. And to anyone that might suggest grabbing the FX-4170 instead of the current CPU... I'm already considering it but would like opinions as to whether it will be a worthwhile $20 upgrade in conjunction with the rest of the build, and if maybe there is still a corner to cut somewhere else (maybe with the case?). I'd definitely be uncomfortable going any further down on the graphics since the Radeon 4800 series is pretty much gone at this point, and higher 5000 series cards still tend to cost quite a bit.


I just built something similar for my cousin. Get 4GB of RAM and use the extra $20 to buy a 7750 or even a 7770 if you can find one cheap enough. Also a cheaper PSU is possible.
October 10, 2012 4:28:21 AM

That's a pretty goid duild actually but uve managed to improve it without increasing its price.

Here's the build i made.It's a really big improvement over the one you made but it is a bit more expensive.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI H61M-P31 (G3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Silverline 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($20.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($169.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 520W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($46.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $483.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

And i know you might worry about it having a dual core CPU, but that dual core CPU is actually better for gaming than the Phenom.And yes 4GB RAM are more than enough.
October 10, 2012 4:31:49 AM

CaptainTom said:
I just built something similar for my cousin. Get 4GB of RAM and use the extra $20 to buy a 7750 or even a 7770 if you can find one cheap enough. Also a cheaper PSU is possible.


Do you think it would be worthwhile to downgrade to 4GB of RAM and then up the CPU to an FX-4170?

I think I'm almost settled on getting that Antec PSU posted above after reading so many outstanding reviews from professionals and customers alike, and the $30 saved from that is going towards getting an HD 7770.

In fact, I'll even revise the first post in a minute. I'm just worried that 4GB will be a little bit of a hinderance on the system if she'll be running an FX-4170 and HD 7770. Also, come to think of it, would that 450W Antec still be providing enough power? I think it's the 7770's that I remember reading about being super efficient, but I don't quite remember.
October 10, 2012 4:36:08 AM

Kamen_BG said:
That's a pretty goid duild actually but uve managed to improve it without increasing its price.

Here's the build i made.It's a really big improvement over the one you made but it is a bit more expensive.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($109.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI H61M-P31 (G3) Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Silverline 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($20.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($55.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: PowerColor Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($169.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 520W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($46.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $483.92
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

And i know you might worry about it having a dual core CPU, but that dual core CPU is actually better for gaming than the Phenom.And yes 4GB RAM are more than enough.


I like that build a lot, actually. But if I can squeeze an FX-4170 into my original build by dropping to 4GB of RAM, wouldn't the builds still be very nearly equivalent? I know the video card difference might be slightly noticeable, but otherwise they'd be almost dead on, correct?
October 10, 2012 4:37:32 AM

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jTwE

Here is my exact build with a single 12v rail antec 520w power supply. Antec is just as good as OCZ or Seasonic in terms of quality and reliability.

My CPU is overclocked at 4ghz which is why I have the cooler. If you don't plan to overclock you wont need it and can save 28 more bucks.

This is the best bang for your buck build for less than 500$
October 10, 2012 4:42:44 AM

jkremis said:
I like that build a lot, actually. But if I can squeeze an FX-4170 into my original build by dropping to 4GB of RAM, wouldn't the builds still be very nearly equivalent? I know the video card difference might be slightly noticeable, but otherwise they'd be almost dead on, correct?


The FX would use more power, and would have to be overclocked to reach the level of the i3. I would personally go with the i3.
October 10, 2012 4:51:57 AM

tiny voices said:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jTwE

Here is my exact build with a single 12v rail antec 520w power supply. Antec is just as good as OCZ or Seasonic in terms of quality and reliability.


I have that same case for my own current build, and I have to say I love it.

koudou said:
The FX would use more power, and would have to be overclocked to reach the level of the i3. I would personally go with the i3.


I just might. I started with Intel but strayed away from it after I remembered how easy it was to hit $500, lol. I know a lot of their stuff is combo'd with actual boards as opposed to a dvd-rw like the AMD ones are too. So that could potentially knock another $20 or so off.
October 10, 2012 5:00:29 AM

The i3 build posted above is going to be the best for sure if she is ONLY GAMING.

The build I posted is more round and will still play all modern games at high settings. Mine also has a DVD drive which the i3 build doesn't and after some tweaking, I have managed to keep 8gb ram and fit in a 1 gb 7850.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jTDS
October 10, 2012 5:24:40 AM

Okay, so I kind of just threw something together quick, based off of suggestions throughout the thread and the hypothetical build that Kamen_bg posted.


i3 2100 CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Gigabyte Motherboard:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PowerColor HD 7770 Graphics:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec VP-450 450W Power Supply:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

4GB G.Skill Memory:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Same originally posted Case and Hard Drive.

I still feel like I can do better than this. This build here leaves me with a $440 bill now.


Also, to tiny voices, this is specifically a gaming rig, yes. I mean she'll probably watch YouTube and check Facebook, but this is meant to be a gaming machine far more than anything else. Other than those two things, there won't be too much in the way of media from what I can assume.
October 10, 2012 5:42:28 AM


In this case, I would recommend the i3 build. I will put something together real fast and see what I can do. I would definitely say that Kamen_bg's build is about as good as it will get.
October 10, 2012 6:09:21 AM

tiny voices said:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/jTQ0 $488

just about as good as you will get for gaming at this price.


I absolutely love that, but being almost $520 upfront may end up being an issue. I don't think we want to deal with Mail-In rebates. I mean I know I don't, but I don't think she would either. Although to get a build of that quality out of it, it may be worth the little sacrifice.

That is an extremely sexy looking set of parts though.
October 10, 2012 10:31:35 AM

If you are desperate to cut a few dollars, you could consider one of the new nVidia GTX650Ti's. They are, honestly, not as good VALUE as the HD7850, as, performance wise, they lie roughly mid way between HD7770 and HD7850, and only slightly cheaper than the 7850, but worth thinking about, if you have to.
October 10, 2012 3:20:10 PM

jkremis said:
Do you think it would be worthwhile to downgrade to 4GB of RAM and then up the CPU to an FX-4170?

I think I'm almost settled on getting that Antec PSU posted above after reading so many outstanding reviews from professionals and customers alike, and the $30 saved from that is going towards getting an HD 7770.

In fact, I'll even revise the first post in a minute. I'm just worried that 4GB will be a little bit of a hinderance on the system if she'll be running an FX-4170 and HD 7770. Also, come to think of it, would that 450W Antec still be providing enough power? I think it's the 7770's that I remember reading about being super efficient, but I don't quite remember.


7770's sip power! It will be fine. Also do not get a 4170. My brother switched from an OEM i7 920 @ 3.0 GHz to a Phenom II x4 @4.0 GHz. It outperforms the i7 and frankly is more than anyone would ever need!

Finally yes 4GB is fine. My cousin uses 4GB and easily plays any game.
October 10, 2012 7:05:40 PM

Don't bother with 4170. There's not much real difference between a Phenom 4x965BE, and SandyBridge i3, but don't forget, if you want to overclock the Phenom, you will need aftermarket cooler. If your friend doesn't want to be involved with OC, definitely go for the i3.
The HD7770 is fine for 720p resolution, and/or, non demanding games. For 1080p, and games like BF3, you really need, at least, HD7850/6870, or GTX560Ti/660.
October 12, 2012 6:41:48 AM

CaptainTom said:
7770's sip power! It will be fine. Also do not get a 4170. My brother switched from an OEM i7 920 @ 3.0 GHz to a Phenom II x4 @4.0 GHz. It outperforms the i7 and frankly is more than anyone would ever need!

Finally yes 4GB is fine. My cousin uses 4GB and easily plays any game.


Yeah, I was actually reading up more and saw that there isn't really a game out there right now that will use 4GB of memory, let alone more than 4GB. I guess I always just assumed more was better in that category. Oh well, just saves a bit of money! :) 

To the graphics card issue... Still working on that one! Good to read that the 7770 is a good option without having to up the PSU at all though! As for the processor, I think I'm gonna add that i3 I linked above to her parts list and work from there. I read nothing other than Intel simply outperforming AMD at stock levels right now, but I chose the Phenom originally to cut the cost down ever so slightly. Things have changed though, and the i3 fits her budget at this point!

malbluff said:
Don't bother with 4170. There's not much real difference between a Phenom 4x965BE, and SandyBridge i3, but don't forget, if you want to overclock the Phenom, you will need aftermarket cooler. If your friend doesn't want to be involved with OC, definitely go for the i3.
The HD7770 is fine for 720p resolution, and/or, non demanding games. For 1080p, and games like BF3, you really need, at least, HD7850/6870, or GTX560Ti/660.


The i3 is indeed what I'm thinking we'll be going with. But again, I'm not really sure about the graphics card... Lots of options there. I may end up selling her my 6870, or she may end up waiting a bit longer and splurging on that... Not sure, but more info and opinions never hurt, so thank you both! :D 
October 12, 2012 11:14:14 PM

jkremis said:
Yeah, I was actually reading up more and saw that there isn't really a game out there right now that will use 4GB of memory, let alone more than 4GB. I guess I always just assumed more was better in that category. Oh well, just saves a bit of money! :) 

To the graphics card issue... Still working on that one! Good to read that the 7770 is a good option without having to up the PSU at all though! As for the processor, I think I'm gonna add that i3 I linked above to her parts list and work from there. I read nothing other than Intel simply outperforming AMD at stock levels right now, but I chose the Phenom originally to cut the cost down ever so slightly. Things have changed though, and the i3 fits her budget at this point!



The i3 is indeed what I'm thinking we'll be going with. But again, I'm not really sure about the graphics card... Lots of options there. I may end up selling her my 6870, or she may end up waiting a bit longer and splurging on that... Not sure, but more info and opinions never hurt, so thank you both! :D 


No problem, the build I made for my cousin actually has an i3-2120 so yeah that is also a good choice. In all honesty I have found at stock i3 > phenom (Just barely). But highly overclocked Phenom > i3 (By a decent amount). Overall they are really just equal with the i3 using less power, and the phenom having far more potential.
!