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Gaming on a High Schoolers' Budget

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October 25, 2012 6:31:46 PM

So, my 15 yr old and I built the rig in my signature this past spring based on research and advice from these forums and it went so well that we are back for more advice before we build his next machine. Since his mother and I share custody he can only use our computer half the time and would like to remedy that. Unfortunately his mother has no interest in buying him a computer (or the parts for one) so he is trying to do it on his own and I have agreed to help with (early) Christmas presents.

This means he won't have the budget for anything like he has at my house, and he understands this. While he does have a steam account and plays GW2, Diablo, Borderlands 2 etc., he would be happy with a machine that plays League of Legends at a reasonable rate for when he is at his mothers, and play the more demanding games at my house.

Approximate Purchase Date: between now and christmas

Budget Range: $500-600

System Usage from Most to Least Important: League of Legends, average home use, etc. (With our system he runs skype, whatever game he is playing, spotify, and chrome all at the same time.....)

Are you buying a monitor: Yes


Parts to Upgrade: All - New system, no existing parts.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes


Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg.com

Location: City, State/Region, Country - USA, Maine - no microcenter

Parts Preferences: We built the rig at my house on a Gigabyte MOBO and it went so well, and he is familiar with Gigabyte now, so we're probably gonna stick with them. He is also doing his own research and is understandably excited, and is currently fond of the CM Storm Scout case.

Overclocking: No

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: He's using 1920x1080 at my house, so that would be nice, but the best the budget allows will be fine.

Additional Comments:
I'm undecided on whether we should build a basic budget system that will do for now and replacing the whole thing down the road or going with entry level 1155 socket and upgrading to a I5/7950/SSD system as $$ is available.
a b B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2012 8:37:59 PM
a b B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2012 10:03:11 PM

get the 7850 and the phenom... but instead get the saphire version of the 7850, oh and get this hdd instead it has nice storage and is reliable(i use it) and is not much more for 3x storage
http://www.amazon.com/Western-Digital-Caviar-Internal-D...

now that unfortunetely will leave the monitor out of the equation so im not sure about that
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2012 10:14:55 PM

Did you see His budget? Those are too expensive.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 25, 2012 11:04:17 PM

yeah... your right for 30 dollars more he gets over 3 times amount of space, it is worth the extra 30 because stuff takes up a lot of space
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October 26, 2012 12:33:02 AM

Most of the things listed above here are too expensive for a PC where the *entire* PC including monitor, OS, keyboard, etc need to be under $600.
This is what I would recommend for you in your situation. This is for the best performance *now* imho, not taking into account possible future upgrades (where a cheap z77 + a pentium would win). Note that this should *play* all the games you have listed, but probably not at 1920x1080 - you'll just have to drop to 720p and lower detail levels, etc.

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lr7z
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lr7z/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lr7z/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($24.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI FM2-A55M-E33 Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital RE2 750GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Source 210 Elite (White) ATX Mid Tower Case ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G215HVAbd 21.5" Monitor ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $572.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

Edit to add, windows 8 vs windows 7 - buy whatever is cheaper. (I know I saw Windows 8 for $70 on amazon with $30 back in Amazon gift card credit, but that isn't showing up on PC Part Picker) I've been using Windows 8 now for about 6 weeks, moved over 3 of my 4 computers. You turn the PC on, click "desktop" and it is pretty much exactly the same as Windows 7 except it boots faster and the start menu looks stupid. All my programs work fine, had no driver issues.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 1:13:20 AM

why is there no graphics card?
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 1:35:29 AM

dude jrgong... your too good XD did you have another account?
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October 26, 2012 2:06:21 AM

See if he can wait another few weeks for Black Friday. *Occasionally* you can get some really awesome deals that can really help the budget. The other option is to buy used parts for example:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Pavilion-p6540f-Desktop-PC-Phenom-II-X4-2-8GHz-8GB-1TB-HDD-/261115757839?pt=Desktop_PCs&hash=item3ccbb6450f

Practically everything for under $300


http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP-Pavilion-p6540f-Desktop-PC-Phenom-II-X4-2-8GHz-8GB-1TB-HDD-/261115757839?pt=Desktop_PCs&hash=item3ccbb6450f

Granted their not top of the line but for the price they get you pretty far up.
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 2:07:47 AM

I didn't notice the monitor. Get one with a 5800k like the others were suggesting.
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October 26, 2012 2:08:56 AM

PanicMaster85 said:
why is there no graphics card?

AMD A10-5800k is an "APU" - low end graphics card and CPU in one. Similar in speed to a i3 but with added graphics capabilities equivalent to a $50-60 standalone card. Decent chips if your budget is tight enough to need the savings. The motherboard has the HDMI/DVI/VGA ports you will need built in. Note the 1866 memory in both builds - built in graphics are probably the only place where that really matters, but increased memory speed improves your framerates noticably on AMD APUs.
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October 26, 2012 2:14:55 AM

And as for savings, you can save probably $50 on a similar system to the A10 ones we have built by watching slickdeals.net and buying piecemeal over the next month. You just have to know where you can substitute, IE the A10 CPU you probably want to stick with, but the case, memory, power supply, motherboard, hard drive all just need to be "similar" - if you pick up a front page deal on slickdeals.net for each of those you probably will do well.
Edit to add, with "similar being"
an "FM2" motherboard
DDR-3 1866 (or higher) RAM
80 plus certified 400+ watt power supply (but no really crappy brands - these corsair builders are about the cheapest I would trust. Sometimes OCZ go pretty damn cheap and they have given me no issues)
SATA hard drive, probably want 7200RPM and at least 500GB since it is your only drive.
Case - any ATX or Micro-ATX case will work, but read the reviews - $50 can get you a decent case or a piece of crap, $25 is mostly crap but there are some that rise to decent, especially after rebate/coupon deals.
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October 26, 2012 2:50:10 AM

Hmm... Interesting, I was going to go with an APU for a computer for my retired mother who only needs to play facebook games, but I hadn't considered them for my sons machine. I guess it would get would get him going sooner.

I haven't worked with AMD (since this last generation got knocked around by intel), I'll have to do some research on the A10's; jacob and jrgong definitely have some interesting suggestions there.

My son is kind of spoiled with our I5/670 with an SSD, but the APU would probably keep him going in LOL just fine....

But yeah, the question is really APU or Z77+pentium that he can upgrade as he earns more $$....
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 3:18:20 AM

Quote:
Na long time reader/user of this website/forum just got bored at work one day and decided to start giving back, its quite addicting lol.

yeah i know XD
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 5:16:46 AM

Well if he wants to upgrade he could get a pentium or phenomii x4. But the thing is, he won't be able to play anything right now. Also, he could go with the A10 for now, and get a gpu from amd that will crossfire with the apu.
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October 26, 2012 10:27:49 AM

lt_dan_zsu said:
Well if he wants to upgrade he could get a pentium or phenomii x4. But the thing is, he won't be able to play anything right now. Also, he could go with the A10 for now, and get a gpu from amd that will crossfire with the apu.


Now that's a good idea, the A10 would be fine for now and a crossfire with an AMD gpu would keep him going for a while down the road.

I've never looked into crossfiring either, what should we know about which cards to choose if/when we are ready for that?
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October 26, 2012 10:41:11 AM

Quote:
jacob has the right idea

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lrvI
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lrvI/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/lrvI/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($24.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($60.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: PNY 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($41.68 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Rosewill FBM-02 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G215HVAbd 21.5" Monitor ($109.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit) ($91.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $580.58
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

I just tweaked/improved it slightly.


You might consider a nice mITX box he can lug around everwhere (between your place and his moms)


+1 on this but get him to contact his school and enquire if they are part of microsoft dreamspark premium if they are he can get windows 7 pro for free (or win 8 pro) if he can do that you can spend the windows cash on a GPU to hybrid Xfire which would reap decent benefits
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 11:52:02 AM

would the school just give it too him?
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 11:53:04 AM

he will need a gpu and the built on with the a10 is very bad... how would you crossfire that?
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October 26, 2012 12:08:44 PM

PanicMaster85 said:
would the school just give it too him?


If the educational establishment is part of MS dreamspark premium program then they will give him a login which lets him get any MS software (excluding office) for free. I'm not sure if high schools subscribe to it, many colleges and Uni's do, it's something worth asking as it saves $90 if it does which could be well used elsewhere

Quote:
he will need a gpu and the built on with the a10 is very bad... how would you crossfire that?


The inbuilt is usable for basic gaming and vastly ahead of anything Intel have for IGP. As to crossfire thats one of the entire selling points of the APU it can be crossfired with a compatible GPU, still not top shelf but respectable on a budget (you may want to research APU's as the hybrid xfire is pretty basic selling point of them)
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a b B Homebuilt system
October 26, 2012 12:10:58 PM

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($60.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Intel Extreme Master, Limited Ed 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Hitachi Deskstar 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Rosewill FBM-02 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer S201HLbd 60Hz 20.0" Monitor ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $523.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

the 1600x900 monitor will allow high settings at most games
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October 26, 2012 1:15:35 PM

PanicMaster85 said:
he will need a gpu and the built on with the a10 is very bad... how would you crossfire that?

He won't *need* a GPU - the A10 can run pretty much any game at playable framerates if you reduce the resolution and detail settings. Keep in mind that the A10 will play pretty much anything at 1280x720 (720p), which is pretty much everything you watch on TV - does everybody complain that looks like crap ? They support "Dual Graphics" which is a kind of crossfiring with a lower end GPU - something like a 6670 is about the max GPU that it makes any sense to do with, and as you can see here (http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/cpu/46157-amd-a10-5800k-d...), it only helps in some games.
Keep in mind too that you can beat pretty much all the reviews you see with the A10 because it is fully unlocked and overclockable.
That doesn't necessarily make it the best choice - just the best choice at this budget, if you plan to leave the system built pretty much as is. If your plan is to upgrade the CPU definitely not the best choice. If your plan is to buy a discrete card later, say an HD 7850 or something, this is similar to the performance you would get on an i3-3220 (a few FPS less in most games, a little better in threaded loads) with better gaming performance now before you buy the card.
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October 26, 2012 3:39:26 PM

ScrewySqrl said:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD A10-5800K 3.8GHz Quad-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock FM2A75M-DGS Micro ATX FM2 Motherboard ($60.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Intel Extreme Master, Limited Ed 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Hitachi Deskstar 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 6670 1GB Video Card ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: Rosewill FBM-02 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: LG GH24NS90 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer S201HLbd 60Hz 20.0" Monitor ($99.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $523.89
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

the 1600x900 monitor will allow high settings at most games


Looks good, he'll have to add $100 for an OS, I doubt his HS has an agreement with microsoft since they participate in Maines school laptop program - which, of course, are Mac's.

I am thinking that, as is usually the case, he should just go with the best his money can get him now (like the A10's suggested here) and instead of looking to upgrade in the future just build a new system from scratch down the road.
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October 26, 2012 3:49:21 PM

Ditch the 6670 and keep the 1866 RAM- Dual graphics isn't worth the premium IMHO, it doesn't improve it enough to game at 1920x1080, and the A10 can handle 720p fine on its own.
As for the monitor, personal preference. I'd personally stick with the larger 1080p as that will be much better in non gaming activities - watching movies, surfing the internet, etc will all be better at 1920x1080
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October 26, 2012 3:58:33 PM

jacobsta811 said:
Ditch the 6670 and keep the 1866 RAM- Dual graphics isn't worth the premium IMHO, it doesn't improve it enough to game at 1920x1080, and the A10 can handle 720p fine on its own.
As for the monitor, personal preference. I'd personally stick with the larger 1080p as that will be much better in non gaming activities - watching movies, surfing the internet, etc will all be better at 1920x1080


For an extra $10 the monitor definitely makes sense, especially if the $55 gpu is dropped.

Will the 4GB 1866 really be a benefit vs. 8gb at 1600? I haven't noticed much of a difference in ram speeds before, I think our rig is running 1333 and is lightening fast. I know that more than 4GB isn't really needed now, but will more GB or more speed be a greater benefit?
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October 26, 2012 4:20:49 PM

The only part of most systems that is severely memory bandwidth starved is onboard graphics. Since that is what you want to use to game with, you need the extra bandwidth of 1866. If you can fit it in your budget get the 8gb (and get a 64-bit OS - don't consider 32-bit on a 64-bit CPU).
You get improvement in the onboard graphics on intel with faster memory too, it is just that the HD2000/2500 are really not that great even with faster memory. HD4000 can be servicable at lower resolutions (but still less than half as powerful as the A10) but intel mostly only puts that in processor that are priced at the point where you would buy dedicated graphics anyway on the desktop.

Edit to add, hell if you could get it 2133 RAM would be even better, but it tends to be priced too much more than 1866 RAM.
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October 26, 2012 4:49:28 PM

Well, that is excellent information, thank you jrgong and jacob. That was a very to the point reference article too, that's why why these forums are so awesome.

So, I'm sold on 8gb of 1866, no gpu, and the bigger monitor. I think I am running out of questions, unless anyone has any other selling points that I can use when I go over this option with my son this weekend. I expect his biggest concerns will be the mini atx form, but with this low a budget he doesn't have many options.
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