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Building first gaming computer! ($600-700)

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November 28, 2012 5:28:57 PM

I couldn't find the format thing that I saw around here to put up info but hopefully I can give a good understanding.

I was looking around for prebuilt computers during these recent "sales" but I didn't find anything within my price range, and I kept hearing that building my own would be cheaper and would meet my own needs.
First of all, I'm a complete newbie at computer parts, and I'm afraid of picking out parts that turn out to not be compatible with one another, which is why I'm here! I've been reading around here for a couple weeks and saw some cheap builds.

I've heard for gaming builds (especially first ones) that i5 is a good choice for a processor.

I saw a build on here (http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/352634-31-build-mediu...) that cost around $710 before rebates, but some of the parts that were posted have been discontinued on newegg, and I'm not sure about proper alternatives.

I want to have something that will basically run BF3 or Crysis 2 on high/medium. Not that I'm going to play them, just using them as a benchmark in case I DO decide to get into more intense games. I'm more likely going to be playing mmorpgs like Blade and Soul, DOTA 2, League of Legends, and Borderlands 2. I'd like to at least play those on ultra/high settings with AA.

Basically I'll be using it for gaming, 3-d rendering (AUTOcad/ Revit), Photoshop, and surfing the web.

As for when I'm going to be buying and building, it will most likely be middle of next month, as soon as school lets out!

I'd really like to stay within the given price range if possible, but if it means making the build last a couple more years then I'll chip like $20 more or something. Don't want to cheap out on a case and find temperature problems immediately after.

Oh and I'd like to leave room for upgrades in the future.

I've seen some newegg videos on how to put things together and I think I'm going to work off of that, but if there's any other references out there I'd appreciate it
November 28, 2012 5:39:44 PM

Do you have preferences for parts? Do you need a monitor and/or an operating system as well? And when it comes to gaming, the Core i3 CPUs are pretty good as well, especially for lower-budget systems. However, for really low-budget systems, the AMD Trinity series is probably a lot more cost-efficient.

Do you have any other preferences, like keeping the system quiet? Do you live in an area where it's hot most of the year? Do you live anywhere near a Microcenter (they have awesome deals that you won't find online most of the time)?
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November 28, 2012 5:54:14 PM

No particular preference for parts, though I do want to be able to upgrade eventually.

I DO need a monitor, I probably should have mentioned. Not sure on what size, but a basic HD monitor. I already bought Windows 8, so no on the OS.

Will i3s really be able to run ultra/high settings? I would have to get a GPU to match, and I heard for gaming that GPU is mostly what matters. Wouldn't a weaker processor limit a good GPU?

No other preferences as I'm still really inexperienced, and the sound of the system doesn't really bother me but it would be nicer to be quiet. I live in Southern California, and it appears I do happen to have a Microcenter nearby!

Also, I'm not too familiar with overclocking, but I heard that it would potentially raise a lot of stats at the cost of weakening parts faster, which isn't good for me because I'd like it to last me a good couple years. Would I have to overclock if I got an i3?

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November 28, 2012 6:12:52 PM

Not necessarily. And with a Microcenter nearby, that helps greatly in deciding what you can get. A CPU + Motherboard combo is typically $50 less at a Microcenter- that could net you an i5-3450 or maybe even an i5-3570k with a z77 mobo (try to find the ASRock Extreme4) for pretty damn cheap. The thing is this: You can't really overclock an i3-3220, but with a 3570k, the multiplier is unlocked and so long as you have an aftermarket CPU Cooler (Xigmatek or Cooler Masters tend to be cheap and decent), you can get some moderate overclocking done as well. It's not really necessary, however, and you could easily get some parts that can be comparatively the same as the standard, non-overclocked 3570k that'll do just fine (such as a 3450, which is cheaper, can't really be overclocked, and could save some money with a B75 or H77 motherboard rather than the more spendy Z77.

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fx-4170-core-i3-322... Here's some benchmarks for how a Core i3-3220 does in Battlefield 3. Your budget probably can't afford the graphic card used here (AMD Radeon 7970). Most games are GPU-intensive rather than taxing a CPU, and though there -may- be a bottleneck, the i3-3220 does pretty well here.

And since you do need a monitor, I'll see what I can do. I should have a possible build up in a minute or two. You may want to look up the microcenter website and see if there's any deals going on in your area on parts as well. I don't think pcpartpicker is going to find them for the combos, at least.

Edit: http://www.microcenter.com/search/search_results.aspx?N... An i5-3570k for $170? That's better than Newegg by... $40 or so? Honestly, I'd recommend getting that and a z77 mobo if possible, if you really want to overclock. And the i3-3225 is $5 less than the i3-3220 I've been seeing on the partpicker website as well. Really, it's up to you as to whether or not you want to overclock, though.
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November 28, 2012 6:32:00 PM

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/pZ91

You could potentially make it cheaper by getting a different case, like the Corsair Carbide 300r (or the 200r, for that matter) and a different PSU, though I'd suggest sticking with Corsair, Seasonic, XFX, or PC Power & Cooling for a power supply. If you go that route, you may save enough cash to afford a 1GB Radeon 7850 instead of the listed 7770 I put in there. The 7770 should do fine at Medium settings for Crysis 2 and Battlefield 3, though High would probably be pushing the card a bit too much. You could probably overclock the GPU, however, and get a bit more out of it. Plus, with the newest drivers, you should see even better performance from the 7770 than those benchmarks suggest.

There's not quite enough cash for an SSD, but the 1TB drive should do fine for now. You can always get an SSD later. I tossed in the cheapest 21.5" monitor I could find that's still got good reviews for it, but you'll want to see for yourself if it's one you want to get. There are plenty of others, after all, I just figured you might like something at 1920x1080 resolution.

You could probably save some cash by getting some of the parts at the Microcenter you live near as well. They probably have deals in-store that aren't listed online, so you'll need to play that by ear.
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November 29, 2012 6:04:39 AM

I could probably go with the alternative case you mentioned but I feel if I went any cheaper on the PSU I won't have sufficient power. Maybe if you told me a better alternative, as I'm no good with PSUs. Do they also have to be compatible with the mobo?
Also, is the mobo stable? I'm reading a lot of bad reviews about them crashing within months. Same for the GPU.
I probably won't overclock since it apparently decreases the life of parts, and I'm trying to keep everything working for a couple years, with a couple upgrades here and there.

Is the mobo compatible with any intel processors like the latest i7s? For future reference.

Overall, it's a good build for the budget!
I still have a couple more bucks though, especially if I get the other case, so if there's anything you think I can improve on that would be a safer choice or would prolong it's life then let me know.
I can probably even save a little more if I find some parts priced cheaper at the Microcenter like you said.

I might stop by there over the weekend to check things out, get familiarized, and maybe even buy some parts in advance if there's any good deals going on.
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November 29, 2012 12:53:55 PM

You'll want to check on the socket type that the i7's use. I believe they use the newer LGA 1156 rather than the 1155 that most of the i5's and lower use.

For comparison in the power department, I'm running a 520w Seasonic M12ii PSU with a Radeon 7870, one SSD, one HDD, and a DVD drive, and it's working perfectly fine (I'm not overclocking, however). Honestly, the Rosewill Hive isn't a bad PSU (one of the betters of the Rosewill lines, actually), but the most respected are the brands I mentioned above. On a good day, you might be able to get an XFX or Seasonic for less than the Rosewill I mentioned in the build above. But if you're planning to SLI/Crossfire in the future, you definitely will need something with more watts to play with. I would definitely recommend a PSU from Seasonic, XFX, PC Power & Cooling, or Corsair's TX-series.

http://pcpartpicker.com/part/xfx-power-supply-p1550sxxb... This one's cheaper, and more respected than the Rosewill Hive. It's actually a re-branded SeaSonic, which is typically considered the best brand by many.

If you're going off of buyer reviews on Newegg about the mobo, keep in mind that most people who write reviews on that site don't actually do so for a living, and it is very likely that the only reason that they wrote a review is to complain about the issue they're having, rather than leave something positive. You can't go by buyer reviews. Instead, look up actual reviews on motherboards, like here on Tom's Hardware or maybe Anandtech, for more professional verdicts. I personally have a Gigabyte GA-H77-DS3H motherboard... the only issue I've had with it was that the BIOS wouldn't load onto the TV screen when I had it connected to a 720p TV. Now that it's connected to a proper computer monitor, I can access the BIOS easily and I don't have that problem at all.

That said, you may want to look into the b75 motherboards. The i3-3220 listed in the build can't really be overclocked, after all. The b75 is a cheap motherboard that does most everything else an H77 is capable of, so you can save some money there. If you do that, then you could very well be in striking range of a 1GB Radeon 7850.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/q6Y1 - It's a bit over, I'm sorry to say, but if you save up a bit of cash and/or get a cheaper case (there are some decent budget cases at $50 and less, like the Corsair Carbide 200r or 300r), you could bring the price down to almost your upper budget.

Edit: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/q6ZL This gives you a Corsair Carbide 300r and a Corsair Builder 500w PSU. That gives you plenty of space for installing just about anything inside (I should know, my PC is in the same case) and the PSU gives you a bit of wiggle room as well for upgrades in the future. Or you could keep the PSU in the previous build and get the 200r, it's even cheaper by around $20 right now. Might want to look up some reviews on that case first, though.
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November 29, 2012 4:50:37 PM

I'll probably only upgrade to an i5 later on then.

The i3 3225 is cheaper than the i3 3220 on the Microcenter website, but it has HD 4000 integrated graphics. Will it badly affect the CPU/would you recommend it?

I saw this benchmark for the 7850 GPU and it manages to run BF3 and Batman Arkham City at around 30-40fps on ultra/high in 1920x1080 resolution, but this was done with higher specs: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/2048/4/

Will the i3 hold me back from those results?

Also, will it be okay to draw in high DPI in Photoshop or do 3-D rendering in AUTOcad without lag?

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November 29, 2012 8:14:15 PM

Oh and will that power supply also work well with an i5 if/when I upgrade?
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November 29, 2012 11:28:39 PM

The HD 4000 won't matter when you wind up with an actual GPU installed. It's nice, and there's no reason to not get the i3-3225 if it is cheaper. Go right ahead and get it. As for if the i3 will hold you back, probably not to a great degree. You may lose a couple FPS, but honestly, just don't have Anti-Aliasing at anything higher than a x4 and see how it runs. If it's fine, try it at x8. I wouldn't suggest any higher (you'd want a 2GB graphic card instead of a 1GB for really high anti-aliasing). It is only a dual core CPU with hyperthreading, so it'll act as if it has four cores (but only has two physical cores). It's likely not as good as an AMD FX CPU when it comes to dealing with photoshop or 3D rendering, but it isn't terrible.

The PSU will still work well. The main thing about a PSU is being able to run a graphic card- that's the part that draws a lot of power. Most Intel CPUs require 95w or less from a PSU (from the i3 and i5 line, that is), while the GPU you'll be running requires... what, 130-180w or so, I think? More, if you wind up overclocking in the future. You won't be able to SLI/Crossfire at all, but honestly, you couldn't afford that with your budget right now anyway. Whatever PSU you get, try to make sure it's an '80 PLUS Bronze.' They are quite efficient and should be able to provide enough power to let you do what you're wanting to do with your build.
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November 29, 2012 11:56:16 PM

CPU: Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: EVGA 120-SB-E672-KR Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($54.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Value Series 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($32.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: PNY GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB Video Card ($249.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Fractal Design Core 1000 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Logisys 575W ATX12V Power Supply ($31.65 @ Compuvest)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.89 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $697.48
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)

This will easily be able to max out any modern game. Much better than the previous builds posted here.
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November 30, 2012 12:38:45 AM

What if I forked up enough for an i5? Which i5 would be a good alternative for the mobo, or would I have to replace that too?
I honestly don't think I'm going to max everything out. I'm good with like 30fps for most games as 60fps gives me motion sickness. Especially with games like Borderlands 2.
I don't want anything drastically insane when it comes to 3-D rendering and Photoshop, but I want to be able to draw at at least 600dpi without lag. AutoCAD already lags on the outdated laptop I'm using, so as long as lag goes away I'm good.

SLI/Crossfire is where there is more than one GPU right? You're saying I won't be able to have the option available with this PSU?

@Pingypoker

You forgot the monitor. That'll go way over the budget! xD
Though the $500 budget PC in your sig looks promising to me, but what do I know.


EDIT: There is an i5 3470 that's $30 more than the i3, and it's cheaper than the 2500k Pingypoker mentioned on the Microcenter site. http://www.microcenter.com/product/400664/Core_i5_3470_...
I don't know if it's any good because it has 3.2 ghz compared to the i3 that has 3.3. Do quad-cores do hyperthreading as well?
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November 30, 2012 1:31:26 AM

For SLI/Crossfire (more than one graphic card), I would recommend something like a 700 or 750w PSU. Brand recommendations remain the same, however.

If you decide to get an i5, and not do any overclocking, there's no real reason to go higher than an i5-3450. I went with an i5-3470, personally, because it was only a few more bucks at the time. As I mentioned before, the GPU will handle most of any gaming load (I can't think of any particular exceptions to that rule). I'll try coming up with a cheap build using an i5-3450 or 3470 for you so you can see what the cost would be like. If you were to go with, say, an $800 or $850 budget you should be able to get pretty good performance all around, period (and probably get a really good graphic card in the process as well). I'll attempt to keep this next build as cheap as possible, though it'll probably go over the $700 mark.

And remember, going to Micro Center is your best bet for getting a CPU and motherboard for cheap (and other components, probably). They have the i5-3470 for around $150, according to PCpartpicker, so that's a great deal there.
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November 30, 2012 1:49:46 AM

No, it doesn't do any hyper threading. I can't complain about the 3470, to be honest, since I'm running one right now. It works like a charm. You can even overclock it a bit, actually, with an H77 or Z77 mobo, up to 3.6ghz. I haven't bothered to do so, though I could if I wanted to.
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December 1, 2012 1:44:01 AM

I think the 7850 should be fine for what I want to use it for.
If anything, I'd rather just spend a little bit more ($20-$30) on a better processor so that it doesn't end up bottlenecking the GPU.
And even if it goes a little over the $700, I'll probably see some deals on certain parts at the microcenter eventually, which will probably bring it back down to the budget.

If I get an i5, will I have to get a different (more expensive) mobo and PSU?
And I'm probably not going to overclock, especially if I get a cheaper mobo or PSU. I don't think I'll need to though, right?

You said you had the Corsair Carbide that you recommended. Will the fan be good enough to keep everything cool (idle and during gameplay or Photoshop usage) or will I have to order more?

Also, do the cores make a difference? Since i5 is a quad-core, would games and programs use all of the cores?
I don't know if it's different for the "i series" but my outdated laptop has a dual core amd athlon, but apparently it only uses one core for games like Team Fortress 2 or L4D2.
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December 1, 2012 3:04:33 AM

Games don't typically use more than two cores. I haven't heard of one that does, honestly. Most of the time, anything that requires more than 2 cores is something that is productivity-based, not gaming. The fans that it comes with (one in front, one in back) are fine, honestly, but if you think you need more you can. Be sure to check how many fan headers a mobo has, to make sure you have enough for all of 'em. If you're really worried about cooling though, check out the Cooler Master HAF 912, Antec One, or one of the Rosewill Challenger cases. They typically have a few fans at least. I've only recorded temps of 59 degrees celsius with my GPU in my case (admittedly, I did add one additional fan to the top of the case to help with possible heat issues with the system).

You don't necessarily need an h77 or z77 mobo to use the CPU you want to. You just won't be able to overclock the CPU without one. Honestly, since you're not going to overclock, you won't be missing anything anyway. You'll be fine with a b75 mobo. When it comes to the clock speed, I would say anything over 3ghz will work pretty well for you. I was shocked at the speed difference I found between my i5-3470 and the old AMD Athlon 64 Dual Core (3.1ghz) CPU I was working with until it died.

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December 6, 2012 3:54:04 PM

Haven't been as active because of school, sorry.

Really? I read that BF3 uses all cores and is very CPU intensive. Apparently it was optimized for 4 cores specifically. Read this on some Battlefield forum so I don't know how much of it is really true.

Can I add extra fans later on that don't orignally come with the case? I want to start out staying with the budget but then slowly add to it if I see problems.

And I'm pretty sure I'm going to go with the i5 just in case of bottlenecking. Once school lets out next week I'll finally have time to head down to that Microcenter and check up on in-store deals.

You said you were going to give me another build. Does that mean I'll have to change the other parts if I get an i5?

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