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Gaming PC under 750$ - i5 or i7?

Greetings everyone, this is my first build and I'm excited to see your opinions.


Approximate Purchase Date: by Thanksgiving

Budget Range: 750$ (800$ max for a more upgrade-friendly build)

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, Graphic/Video/Audio Creation

Are you buying a monitor: No

Parts to Upgrade: New Build

Do you need to buy OS: Yes
Please note that if you're using an OEM license of Windows, you will need a new one when buying a new motherboard.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Any major ones in United States, Micro Center also available for walk-in pickup

Location: Minneapolis, MN

Parts Preferences: Intel CPU and Nvidia GPU

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe in the future

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Performance driven. But a quiet and power-efficient computer is always welcomed.


PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/m1nH
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/m1nH/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/m1nH/benchmarks/

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI Z77A-G43 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($79.99 @ NCIX US)
Memory: Patriot Viper 3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($25.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($229.95 @ B&H)
Case: NZXT Tempest 210 ATX Mid Tower Case ($54.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 600W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($51.98 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($24.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $726.86
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)


I am a hard core gamer when I have the time. Also a lot of the time I spend on my computer will be distributed to media creation like 3D modeling, graphic design and video/audio editing. For that I have a few questions for you friendly people:

1. Does the difference between i5 3570k and i7 3770k make up for the price differential?

2. Is the configuration reasonable for overclocking? I picked a 600w power supply for potential overclocking but I think I also need a CPU cooler. Any suggestions?

3. I'm not sure if I want to get GTX 660 or 660 Ti. I don't know whether they will perform that differently with the limitation of other parts of the system. Thoughts?

4. How does the motherboard and case hold up for future upgrades? I'm positive that I'll be adding a caching SSD in the near future and possibly another GPU with the existing CPU overclocked. (If the existing build is too limited in that scenario, I'm willing to raise the budget cap to 800$, only if necessary)

That's my rookie build. Thank you so much for reading and I appreciate your time!
44 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. 1. Unless you will be doing lot of video rendering/editing, no it's not worth it.

    2. Yes if you want to overclock, a CPU cooler is a must.

    3. Get a 660 and overclock it. It will perform as good as a 660 ti but $100 less.
  2. 1. I would have to say to go with the i5 3570k to help stay in budget range, besides I don't think the performance difference between the two are not too far apart at all(at least in gaming). So the saved money can be put into other things such as maybe a even better graphics card?

    2.I have no experience in overclocking so I am afraid i cannot help you there, sorry.

    3. A GTX 660 ti performs quite well in gaming, however does cost more then the GTX 660 I beleive, you can see the benchmarks for several games here, and several more in the articles index.

    http://www.techspot.com/review/565-nvidia-geforce-gtx-660-ti/page8.html

    4. I have little experience with motherboards. Sorry bud =(

    I was building a PC myself with a 800$ budget, I had several things already purchased such as the OS, Keyboard, Mouse, and HDD. Good luck tho =)

    edit: "Also a lot of the time I spend on my computer will be distributed to media creation like 3D modeling, graphic design and video/audio editing."
    The i7 performs a fair amount better in these things then the i5 i believe.
  3. At this budget I'd get a fx 8320 since it does game ok (not as good as a i5) but is pretty good at a workstation environment (some tested find the 8350 (oc version of a 8350) slightly faster than a i7)
  4. BreadWhistle said:
    1. Unless you will be doing lot of video rendering/editing, no it's not worth it.

    2. Yes if you want to overclock, a CPU cooler is a must.

    3. Get a 660 and overclock it. It will perform as good as a 660 ti but $100 less.


    Thanks for the comments!

    Any suggestion for a quiet, efficient cooler?

    How does the build look overall with 3570k and Nvidia 660? Any bottleneck that needs to be cleared?
  5. and if you are getting a 660, it makes more sense o get a 7870 since it is cheaper
  6. Thelastkaiser said:
    1. I would have to say to go with the i5 3570k to help stay in budget range, besides I don't think the performance difference between the two are not too far apart at all(at least in gaming). So the saved money can be put into other things such as maybe a even better graphics card?

    2.I have no experience in overclocking so I am afraid i cannot help you there, sorry.

    3. A GTX 660 ti performs quite well in gaming, however does cost more then the GTX 660 I beleive, you can see the benchmarks for several games here, and several more in the articles index.

    http://www.techspot.com/review/565-nvidia-geforce-gtx-660-ti/page8.html

    4. I have little experience with motherboards. Sorry bud =(

    I was building a PC myself with a 800$ budget, I had several things already purchased such as the OS, Keyboard, Mouse, and HDD. Good luck tho =)

    edit: "Also a lot of the time I spend on my computer will be distributed to media creation like 3D modeling, graphic design and video/audio editing."
    The i7 performs a fair amount better in these things then the i5 i believe.


    Thanks for your comments. Since we have a similar budget, could you please share your build and thoughts on it?
  7. TheBigTroll said:
    At this budget I'd get a fx 8320 since it does game ok (not as good as a i5) but is pretty good at a workstation environment (some tested find the 8350 (oc version of a 8350) slightly faster than a i7)


    Thanks for your reply. Swapping the CPU is an interesting idea. I'll look into more comparison in that regard. The thing is gaming and productivity are equally important to me. A tough decision indeed. :heink:

    Also, I think Nvidia usually performs better in 3D modeling programs than AMD in similar price range? Will 6600 Ti be the best performer in its price range then?
  8. Well the i5 3570k will crush any amd cpu for gaming. As for a productivity it will still be a good cpu. Unless you are doing some serious video editing or other heavily threaded applications it will be just as good as the amd.
  9. processor- i5 3570k price = 229.99$ (you appear to have found one cheaper in microcenter) http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116504

    ram 8gb (2x4gb) corsair price= 39.99$ http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233186

    motherboard ASRock Z77 Extreme4 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard price = 109.99$
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157293&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-Motherboards%20-%20Intel-_-ASRock-_-13157293&AID=10440897&PID=3938566&SID=

    graphics card - EVGA SuperClocked 02G-P4-2662-KR GeForce GTX 660 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card price = 229.99$
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130826

    case- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147153 price- 49.99$

    psu- http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371044&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-Power%20Supplies-_-Antec-_-17371044&AID=10440897&PID=3938566&SID= - 39.99$ 650 watt antec

    optical drive- you can find any cheap lite ons to play DVD's unless you need a blu ray player.

    i would also suggest a good cpu cooler, maybe this http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065

    all of this together bundles up around 700$, so you would have to spend a bit more for a hdd and operating system, look around you can still probably find better deals then I did.

    sorry, i know this is a bit messy =( for the record these are parts I plan to put in my p.c which has roughly the same budget. Important thing is tho my build is just for gaming, where as you are doing some other things as well which a i7 would be good for, if not the fx-8350.
  10. breezedu said:
    Thanks for your reply. Swapping the CPU is an interesting idea. I'll look into more comparison in that regard. The thing is gaming and productivity are equally important to me. A tough decision indeed. :heink:

    Also, I think Nvidia usually performs better in 3D modeling programs than AMD in similar price range? Will 6600 Ti be the best performer in its price range then?


    nowadays, CUDA isnt that benefitial as OpenGl is getting much more advanced. in CS6, they even are switching over to OpenGL

    the 660ti is also not worth it. at that price i can get a 7950
  11. jackspeed said:
    Well the i5 3570k will crush any amd cpu for gaming. As for a productivity it will still be a good cpu. Unless you are doing some serious video editing or other heavily threaded applications it will be just as good as the amd.


    productiveity: no.

    it would easily be crushed by a fx 8320/50. the only thing that i5s beats the fx in erms of productiveity is single threaded apps which piledriver arent that great
  12. TheBigTroll said:
    productiveity: no.

    it would easily be crushed by a fx 8320/50. the only thing that i5s beats the fx in erms of productiveity is single threaded apps which piledriver arent that great



    Okay, I think I get the message. Time to do more research on the AMD CPU/GPU combo.

    To clarify, the programs I use the most are Creative Suite CS5, will get CS6 if worth it. Autodesk CAD/Revit. Sketchup/Rhino/3DS MAX. And whatever video editing program I can get my hands on. My dated impressions are productivity programs rely heavily on code optimization. So when AMD might be great in the optimized softwares, Intel will be good across the board with more raw power. Is that generally true nowadays?

    BTW, I appreciate your differentiated opinion a lot, thanks!
  13. I saw the audio creation I missed the video creation.

    You can get a dvd drive and a better case at microcenter saves money although not much after tax.

    At 800 you could get the best of both worlds and get an i7 at 750 You have to choose between gaming and productivity.

    the power supply theLastKaiser mentioned can save a little as well and its an antec. IT would save $12
    DVD drive (16 microcenter -5)
    NZXT 410 case ( 48 micro center -7 (after $10 rebate))

    The savings listed would be about $17 after at 7% tax the tax on the cpu would eat most of that.

    So we are back at 725.
    to fit an i7 in an 800 budget we would need to cut $32

    gpu msi gtx 660 (208)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127702

    with this we need to cut $10 (thanks to tax)
    And I could do this but it would be either in the hard drive or the mobo and you may want all 6 audio ports or the 2 TBs.

    My suggestions are good for your computer it saves money if you go with either amd or intel.

    EDIT: AMD cpus do use more power... so if that's a major concern then intel does offer a little more there.
  14. I saw the audio creation I missed the video creation.

    You can get a dvd drive and a better case at microcenter saves money although not much after tax.

    At 800 you could get the best of both worlds and get an i7 at 750 You have to choose between gaming and productivity.

    the power supply theLastKaiser mentioned can save a little as well and its an antec. IT would save $12
    DVD drive (16 microcenter -5)
    NZXT 410 case ( 48 micro center -7 (after $10 rebate))

    The savings listed would be about $17 after at 7% tax the tax on the cpu would eat most of that.

    So we are back at 725.
    to fit an i7 in an 800 budget we would need to cut $32

    gpu msi gtx 660 (208)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127702

    with this we need to cut $10 (thanks to tax)
    And I could do this but it would be either in the hard drive or the mobo and you may want all 6 audio ports or the 2 TBs.

    My suggestions are good for your computer it saves money if you go with either amd or intel.

    EDIT: AMD cpus do use more power... so if that's a major concern then intel does offer a little more there.



    Thanks for the follow-up. I just read some insightful comparison between i5 3570 and the AMD FX family. I think I'm not content with taking either side so I guess I'll have to go for i7 3770. (It's so much more expensive though :pfff: )
    I'll compare all your price-cut notes to see if I can bring the whole thing down to $800.
  15. My price cuts would put it below 800 b4 tax but after rebates.
  16. jackspeed said:
    My price cuts would put it below 800 b4 tax but after rebates.



    I'm sorry but by NZXT 410 do you mean this?

    http://pcpartpicker.com/part/nzxt-case-t410001

    This is a little more expensive though.
  17. microcenter in st louis park has 1 left for 58 and a $10 rebate.

    I live in MN so Its the microcenter I have saved.

    http://www.microcenter.com/product/378057/Crafted_Series_Tempest_410_Mid_Tower_ATX_Computer_Case

    EDIT: the $10 rebate will pretty much pay for postage, tax and the small amount extra the 410 is. You may save about $2 after the rebate but you will get a better? case.
  18. jackspeed said:
    microcenter in st louis park has 1 left for 58 and a $10 rebate.

    I live in MN so Its the microcenter I have saved.

    http://www.microcenter.com/product/378057/Crafted_Series_Tempest_410_Mid_Tower_ATX_Computer_Case

    EDIT: the $10 rebate will pretty much pay for postage, tax and the small amount extra the 410 is. You may save about $2 after the rebate but you will get a better? case.


    That is a great deal, purchasing right now! Thanks!!
  19. jackspeed said:
    microcenter in st louis park has 1 left for 58 and a $10 rebate.

    I live in MN so Its the microcenter I have saved.

    http://www.microcenter.com/product/378057/Crafted_Series_Tempest_410_Mid_Tower_ATX_Computer_Case

    EDIT: the $10 rebate will pretty much pay for postage, tax and the small amount extra the 410 is. You may save about $2 after the rebate but you will get a better? case.


    Just found out that i7 3770k is also significantly cheaper in Micro Center @ $269.99 as opposed to the $319.99 from Amazon etc. That's huge to keep my budget!!

    http://www.microcenter.com/product/388575/Core_i7_3770K_35GHz_LGA_1155_Processor
  20. Ya I was calculating that. I believe after rebates and taxes I was $10 over 800 when all was said and done.

    EDIT the antec earthwatts does not come with a power chord so you may need to reuse or pick one up.
  21. jackspeed said:
    Ya I was calculating that. I believe after rebates and taxes I was $10 over 800 when all was said and done.

    EDIT the antec earthwatts does not come with a power chord so you may need to reuse or pick one up.


    Uh-oh, reservation failed and now the NZXT 410 is out of stock. Time to do more search I guess~
  22. I cant help you with the case because its about aesthetics. IMO this looks cool but after tax and rebates its 55.6...

    http://www.microcenter.com/product/396522/Interceptor_Series_Barricade_ATX_Mid_Tower_Computer_Case
  23. dont bother with a msi case. they are junk. i had the horrors of building inside one. cheap drive mechanisim, very thin panels, and nearly no cabling space (that might be another model though)
  24. TheBigTroll said:
    dont bother with a msi case. they are junk. i had the horrors of building inside one. cheap drive mechanisim, very thin panels, and nearly no cabling space (that might be another model though)


    The mechanics in this one does look fine though. But I guess you're right about cabling space in this particular instance. Any suggestions around $50? I just need something solid and performs well, preferably no LED. :lol:
  25. TheBigTroll said:
    dont bother with a msi case. they are junk. i had the horrors of building inside one. cheap drive mechanisim, very thin panels, and nearly no cabling space (that might be another model though)


    How do these two fare?

    Cool Master CM Storm Scout ATX Gaming Computer Case
    http://www.microcenter.com/product/308296/CM_Storm_Scout_ATX_Gaming_Computer_Case#

    Zalman
    Z11 Plus ATX Mid Tower Computer Case
    http://www.microcenter.com/product/386580/Z11_Plus_ATX_Mid_Tower_Computer_Case#

    Their aesthetics are right down my alley. I'm unfamiliar with the brand Zalman though.
  26. breezedu said:
    Okay, I think I get the message. Time to do more research on the AMD CPU/GPU combo.

    To clarify, the programs I use the most are Creative Suite CS5, will get CS6 if worth it. Autodesk CAD/Revit. Sketchup/Rhino/3DS MAX. And whatever video editing program I can get my hands on. My dated impressions are productivity programs rely heavily on code optimization. So when AMD might be great in the optimized softwares, Intel will be good across the board with more raw power. Is that generally true nowadays?

    BTW, I appreciate your differentiated opinion a lot, thanks!


    The FX 8320 is your best bet based solely on the fact that you use photoshop. It will perform on i7-3770k levels and it will overclock farther than the i7-3770k. You can expect 4.8ghz on air or 5.2ghz on water. CS6 is definitely worth it because of the OpenCL support. There is no sense at all in going nvidia for a productivity GPU because the GPGPU performance is abysmal compared to AMD gpus.
  27. @coolmaster I'm more of a haf guy myself. and the scout has 2 leds. I don't know to much about cases though
  28. id just get a antec one or something like that

    my other recommendation is a fractal arc midi but its 20 bucks over. one of my top cases after its silent brethern
  29. Best answer
    I recently built a computer with the same goals in mind, although I have held out on the graphics card for now (the 660 ti is a good choice for the extra cuda cores, probably the card i'll get). I have an i7-3770 on a Asrock H77m motherboard with 16gb Corsair Vengeance memory (9 latency). My case is the Fractal Design Arc Mini, which cost $99, but I noticed the Rosewill Challenger is similar (has front, back, and top fan) for $50. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147153

    I tried to justify getting a less expensive CPU, but if you are rendering and gaming you can't beat the 3770. Also the i5 are $220, so it doesn't make since not to go for i7 for $70 more. The i3-3225 would be a great chip for people with less demanding needs and it only costs $130, but yeah I think it's best to "bite the bullet" for an i7!
  30. nacos said:
    The FX 8320 is your best bet based solely on the fact that you use photoshop. It will perform on i7-3770k levels and it will overclock farther than the i7-3770k. You can expect 4.8ghz on air or 5.2ghz on water. CS6 is definitely worth it because of the OpenCL support. There is no sense at all in going nvidia for a productivity GPU because the GPGPU performance is abysmal compared to AMD gpus.



    I agree completely with your comment but then I saw the i7-3770k on Micro Center for $290 after tax... Since I also do a lot of gaming on my computer, I think the extra $50~ is worth it.
  31. The nvidia 660 is about as good as the 7870. The extra $100 i5 vs i7 or the extra $50 amd vs i7 is up to you.
  32. brandon402 said:
    I recently built a computer with the same goals in mind, although I have held out on the graphics card for now (the 660 ti is a good choice for the extra cuda cores, probably the card i'll get). I have an i7-3770 on a Asrock H77m motherboard with 16gb Corsair Vengeance memory (9 latency). My case is the Fractal Design Arc Mini, which cost $99, but I noticed the Rosewill Challenger is similar (has front, back, and top fan) for $50. http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147153

    I tried to justify getting a less expensive CPU, but if you are rendering and gaming you can't beat the 3770. Also the i5 are $220, so it doesn't make since not to go for i7 for $70 more. The i3-3225 would be a great chip for people with less demanding needs and it only costs $130, but yeah I think it's best to "bite the bullet" for an i7!



    Yah, I think I'll go with 3770k + Asrock Z77 pro 4. For the graphic card I'll get EVGA GeForce GTX 660 and try a little overclocking.

    In case of the case though, there are two necessary things I need, USB 3.0 port and a SD card reader for my DSLR. And I'm out of luck for all the ones I like aesthetically.
  33. Just got the MSI Interceptor case with a USB 3.0 port and a card reader. Satisfied.
  34. enjoy your pc
  35. jackspeed said:
    enjoy your pc


    Thank you so much. I'll do the rest of the purchase tonight and maybe there will be more surprise/pondering/hesitation.:-D
  36. good luck with your case.

    i dont see the point of the 660. just get a 7870 and overclock that. highly recommend over 660
  37. TheBigTroll said:
    good luck with your case.

    i dont see the point of the 660. just get a 7870 and overclock that. highly recommend over 660


    ^^ its not a bad suggestion on the gpu The 7870 is on sale.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102983
  38. wow. even cheaper than what i suggested
  39. I was recommending the gtx 660 because it was $10 cheaper. now... either way the OP will have an awesome computer.
  40. TheBigTroll said:
    wow. even cheaper than what i suggested


    Oh that just changes everything. 7870 it is then!!
  41. jackspeed said:
    ^^ its not a bad suggestion on the gpu The 7870 is on sale.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102983


    That price drop changed everything. Thanks for the timely suggestion! I've just ordered it on Newegg.
  42. Best answer selected by breezedu.
  43. Hey guys it's been a few days and the final shipment of my new pc parts is coming in by the end of today. Fingers crossed for my installation tonight!

    I chose the answer from brandon402 as the best answer, simply because it answers the title of the original post the best.

    But in the meantime, I want to thank everyone else just the same because your insightful comments and timely recommendations extend the conversation to so much more than picking the right CPU and I've learned a great amount in such a short time. And that is the single greatest advantage of online forums like this.

    Thank you guys so much and keep up the good work!!
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