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First Build--~$1200 budget

Last response: in Systems
November 8, 2012 5:24:00 PM

Approximate Purchase Date: This month

Budget Range: $1200 Ideal

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, media, net surfing

Are you buying a monitor: No

Do you need to buy OS: No

Preferred Website(s) for Parts:,, etc. Utilizing

Location: St. Louis, MO

Parts Preferences: Intel, Corsair, Western Digital

Overclocking: Maybe(future)

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe(future)

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Primarily going to be used for gaming, and I want to be able to max settings on SWTOR, Borderlands 2, Skyrim, etc.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: My current(well loved) ASUS G73JH-A1 is aging, and I can feel the hardware nearing the end of its' lifespan. As I'm not a student anymore, I don't need the benefit of mobility as much as I used to, and I'd like to get back to a nice desktop that I can maximize and upgrade as needed in the future. Since this is my first time actually building myself, I don't plan on OCing right away. However, when I feel comfortable, I will definitely be OCing in the future.

Here is the build I have currently assembled via part picker: Part Picker

Intel Core i7-3770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor $319.99 Newegg

CPU Cooler
Corsair H80 92.0 CFM Liquid CPU Cooler $91.99 Newegg

Asus SABERTOOTH Z77 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard $224.98 Amazon

Corsair Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory $73.99 Newegg

Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive $94.49 SuperBiiz Is this vendor reputable? I've never heard of them before.

Gigabyte Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card $299.99 Amazon

NZXT Phantom 410 (Gunmetal/Black) ATX Mid Tower Case $79.99 Newegg

Total: $1165.42

Obviously, I still need to pick out a PSU and optical drive, and I'm already nearing my ideal budget cap. I could really use some advice on picking the right PSU/drive, and I would also greatly appreciate any advice on how I can reduce my expense without sacrificing performance/upgrade paths. The two things that jump out at me right now are the RAM and HDD.

I've read that more than 8gb for gaming is not really necessary currently, but I have recently started utilizing a RAM drive for SWTOR so I would like to have that extra RAM available at some point. Would it be better to start out with 8gb now(to save money up front), and upgrade later?

I also want to add a SSD in the near future. Storage is not an immediate necessity, so would it be wise/efficient to start with a SSD now or stick with what I currently have selected?

In a nutshell, I'm looking to get this rig at max performance/min expense for a small set of games initially, and outline an upgrade path transitioning toward full potential as funds allow.

More about : build 1200 budget

November 8, 2012 5:36:35 PM

Well you don't really need an i7 an i5 would save a lot and be a great cpu as well. it would give you some play in your budget. If your heart is set on an i7 go to microcenter in store its 270+tax and the i5 is 170+tax there is a microcenter somewhere around you area. Sometimes they can have "bundle deals" as well if you pick up a mobo in store.

Also 2 8GB stick of ram would be better

87 Brentwood Promenade Ct.
Brentwood, MO 63144

November 8, 2012 6:12:09 PM

Thanks Jack! Wow... I can't believe I never realized there was a microcenter there. It's literally less than 5min from me, and I go through that area all the time. :sweat: 

As far as i5 vs i7 goes, what exactly would I be sacrificing if I went with an i5? I assume the recommended one would be the i5-3570k? Aside from the .10Ghz difference in processor speed, what other major differences should I take into consideration? The reason I had decided on the i7-3770k is that I've read the popular opinion is the 3770k is the best performing chip for a z77 board, and that it is an absolute beast for OCing. SWTOR seems to be highly CPU dependant(bad engine optimization), but I'll look into the i5 as well.

I still need some input about the HDD, PSU, and optical drive. Any thoughts on those?
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November 8, 2012 6:23:45 PM

I'm in St. Louis too! :hello: 

Here's a build I've put together on paper for about the same price with the same uses in mind:

Motherboard: $163
GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD3H LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

CPU: $186
Intel Core i5 3570K 3.4GHz LGA 1155 Processor

Video Card: $258
XFX Double D FX-787A-CDFC Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

CPU Cooler: $30
COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 EVO RR-212E-20PK-R2 Continuous Direct Contact 120mm Sleeve CPU Cooler Compatible with latest Intel 2011/1366/1155 and AMD FM1/FM2/AM3+

Thermal Paste: $8
Innovation Cooling Diamond "7 Carat" Thermal Compound - 1.5 Grams

Power Supply: $115
CORSAIR Enthusiast Series TX750M 750W ATX12V v2.31 / EPS12V v2.92 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Semi Modular High Performance Power Supply

Case: $100
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K62 Black 0.8 mm SECC, Plastic + Mesh ATX Mid Tower Computer Case: $100

Hard Drive: $80
Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

SSD: $90
SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC128B/WW 2.5" 128GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

Optical Drive: $25
LITE-ON 24X DVD Writer 24X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 12X DVD+R DL 24X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM Black SATA Model iHAS424-98 LightScribe Support

Memory: $50
Mushkin Enhanced Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 997043

Operating System: $70
Windows® 8 Pro, Traditional Disc

Total: $1175

Best solution

November 8, 2012 6:36:52 PM

The 3570k and 3770k are the exact same CPU die - the i5 simply has HyperThreading disabled at a hardware level. They'll overclock and perform roughly the same, with the exception of highly-threaded applications (where the i7 would take the lead).

Currently, games are not highly-threaded (a "highly-threaded" game tends to be one that leverages 4 threads). Media and web browsing won't take much benefit from it, either; you'd be best spending that money elsewhere.

On other suggestions... I'm not a fan of the Z77 Sabertooth as the Thermal Armor is a total money-grab gimmick. But if you can get a good Microcenter combo deal on it, I can't really complain about that!

If you want to watercool, either build a custom loop or get the H100. The H80 is alright, but a decent ~$60 air cooler can keep up with it.

On the memory, I'd personally just opt for 8GB and replace the RAM drive with an SSD. With some of these savings, I'd imagine you'll easily be able to afford a nice 128GB (Samsung 830, OCZ Vertex 4, etc).

I do believe SuperBiiz is reputable, but I'd still stick with Newegg or whoever it is you're comfortable with. Peace of mind, and whatnot.
November 8, 2012 7:17:34 PM

Thanks! I've been looking into the i5-3570k since Jack mentioned it, and you guys are totally right--3570k is the way to go.

For the MOBO, I'm mostly interested in the sabertooth because of the performance/reliability/future-proofing. While I'll be replacing/upgrading other modules as I go, I'd really like to make sure I can ride out the MOBO until using any z77 configuration no longer makes sense. Plus, I have cats that love to hang out in my office, so any protection against hair/dust is a big benefit to my peace of mind. However, if I can't get a good bundle deal at microcenter, I'll take a second look at other boards.

I'd definitely go for a custom water loop(I've read the stickies), but since this is my first solo-build, I'd be a little freaked out also doing my first custom loop. Being quiet and easy to install, while on par with good air cooling, pushed me to the H80. How much of a boost will I get by going up to an H100?

With that SSD, will I be able to operate with the SSD alone, and add a storage HDD when I can afford it?

I suppose all that really remains is picking the proper PSU now. What wattage/brand should I get?
November 8, 2012 10:25:50 PM

Best answer selected by Sigred.
November 8, 2012 10:41:59 PM

Okay, so I just got back from microcenter, and everything's sorted out now.

I was able to pick up an i5-3570k, z77 Sabertooth, and 256Gb Samsung 830 for a combined savings of $150!

Everything else I'll end up ordering online either due to not being in stock there, or inability to price match.

Thanks for everyone's advice! :bounce: