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Most economical gaming pc?

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December 13, 2012 3:47:33 PM

My 8 year old PC died a few days ago and instead of fixing it I think its time to treat myself to a new one! :bounce:  In the past I just went to ecollegepc and spent $1,000-$1300 and got the best I could for the money. Now though with student loans, hospital bills and just life in general I am not sure I want to do that. Over the last few years i have adjusted to playing everything a year or two behind the curve on the cheap anyways! So, now I am thinking of possibly building my own PC and spending significantly less.

My question is, is this really economical? All I care about is stretching my gaming buck as far as possible be it spending $1,000 up front or spending $500 on a cheaper PC, that with cheap upgrades would still run great a few years from now. I do play a lot of top end games like Batman and Borderlands 2 but most of my time for the next year would probably go to BL2, Diablo 3 and WoW.

So, whats my best option? Build a beast? Build a cheap PC? Or just keep watching for sales on prebuilts? If the community reccomends building my own I would appreciate builds/suggestions. I have VERY little PC knowledge and am happy to admit to being a total ignoramus :D 

Thanks guys!!!! :hello: 

More about : economical gaming

December 13, 2012 5:35:30 PM

Quote:
So, whats my best option? Build a beast? Build a cheap PC? Or just keep watching for sales on prebuilts? If the community reccomends building my own I would appreciate builds/suggestions. I have VERY little PC knowledge and am happy to admit to being a total ignoramus :D 


Do not purchase a pre built. Most pre built systems are pretty much junk anymore - especially from the big box vendors (Dell, HP, Acer, and so on). The pre built systems use watered down hardware, limit access to the BIOS, and use proprietary form factors that make upgrading extremely difficult and in some cases near impossible. You could go with something like Cyberpower but the problem with them is that they include a lot of things that don't make sense for a build (liquid cooling on a locked CPU, things like that).

You could spend $750 on a PC and get one that will last for quite a few years:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($251.97 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $841.43
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-13 14:34 EST-0500)
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December 13, 2012 5:48:39 PM

So someone at another forum said he thought the most economical thing was not to buy a cheaper PC and plan to upgrade but to just attempt to spend the money up front to future proof as much as possible(to a point). He suggested the following build but also reccomended a few upgrades like PSU if possible. Seems like good logic to me. Any thoughts on the build/expensive rig like this vs cheaper?

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($214.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus 76.8 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($19.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($132.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: GeIL EVO CORSA Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($64.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 2TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Diamond Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($174.99 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Source 210 (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($21.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus BW-12B1ST/BLK/G/AS Blu-Ray/DVD/CD Writer ($55.73 @ NCIX US)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)

Total: $910.63

I said I could go to $1,100 to do upgrades like PSU if its truely the smart thing to do. Ill just plan on not buying consoles next gen ;) 
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December 13, 2012 5:49:54 PM

g-unit1111 said:
Quote:
So, whats my best option? Build a beast? Build a cheap PC? Or just keep watching for sales on prebuilts? If the community reccomends building my own I would appreciate builds/suggestions. I have VERY little PC knowledge and am happy to admit to being a total ignoramus :D 


Do not purchase a pre built. Most pre built systems are pretty much junk anymore - especially from the big box vendors (Dell, HP, Acer, and so on). The pre built systems use watered down hardware, limit access to the BIOS, and use proprietary form factors that make upgrading extremely difficult and in some cases near impossible. You could go with something like Cyberpower but the problem with them is that they include a lot of things that don't make sense for a build (liquid cooling on a locked CPU, things like that).

You could spend $750 on a PC and get one that will last for quite a few years:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3470 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($199.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H77 Pro4/MVP ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($87.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB Video Card ($251.97 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master HAF 912 ATX Mid Tower Case ($69.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: SeaSonic S12II 620W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($22.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $841.43
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-13 14:34 EST-0500)


Thanks! Ill look over this and compare it to the build I just mentioned as best I can
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December 13, 2012 6:02:05 PM

MSIMagus said:
Thanks! Ill look over this and compare it to the build I just mentioned as best I can


I can tell you the differences:

1. That RAM is not from a good manufacturer, and you don't need 16GB of RAM for gaming or most uses.

2. Diamond is not really a recommended Radeon manufacturer - the Sapphire one I recommended has a better cooling solution.

3. I did not include an unlocked CPU in favor of a stronger GPU.

4. I included a stronger power supply - the XFX is a good value but I like the Seasonic a lot better.

If you want to increase the budget I'd recommend something like this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($169.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($132.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill Ares Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($88.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7950 3GB Video Card ($279.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Corsair 300R ATX Mid Tower Case ($78.98 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast 650W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.89 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $1003.76
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2012-12-13 15:01 EST-0500)
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December 13, 2012 6:14:55 PM

Well it is not nessecarily that I WANT to increase the budget, its that I will if its the smart thing to do. Again I live on a limited budget so the more that goes into a PC, well the less there is to do ANYTHING next year. At the same time though id rather put all of this years entertainment budget into a good PC if I had to if it meant spending far less later.

I just want to think about my budget over the long term vs getting the cheapest or the most godly PC possible right now. Whatever keeps me playing the longest for the cheapest!
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December 13, 2012 7:40:55 PM

Questions:
Do you plan to overclock your processor? If yes, go for the second CPU/Mobo g-unit suggested, if not go for the first one. If you don't OC you won't need an aftermarket cooler either, you could also skip the cooler but get the k chips/z77, and add a cooler later to allow for overclocking.

In the future, would you want to use dual graphics if your computer doesn't have the performance you want, or would you likely just drop your settings and save your cash, or would you rather spend money up front to avoid the need as long as possible?

If you think you would drop 200$ or so on a new GPU a few years down the line, you should get a 750w-850w PSU to allow for SLI/Crossfire, it will cost you 20 or 30$ more now, but will save you the cost of a new PSU if you ever want another gpu.

If you don't mind playing games with reduced graphics (this would be 3 or 4 years down the road probably), go for a 7850 or 7870. If you want to make sure you keep your settings high as long as possible, go for a 7970/7950. (all of these could be swapped for nvidia equivalents if that's your preference, they are pretty close at all levels in my opinion, enough that sales and game preference tip the value equation back and forth easily)

For Psu, stick with seasonic, xfx, pc power & cooling, or corsair (there are other good ones, but you'll want to check for a teardown review from a site like jonnyguru before buying).

Don't go too terribly cheap on your case, if you keep this thing for a long time, you'll want something that isn't going to fall apart or get wobbly in a few years.


An SSD is a nice upgrade to include, but it's also really easy to add later, with prices dropping like crazy you aren't hurting yourself by waiting a year. In general, an SSD for OS+Apps will make your computer boot much faster, more responsive, and will reduce load times in games. The obvious downside is you get much less space for your money.

(Just some general advice if you feel like straying from what G-unit suggested, both his builds are great depending on what you need)
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December 13, 2012 7:58:20 PM

I have never built my own PC before so naturally I never messed with overclocking. If its a large performance boost and not too hard/expensive sure id consider it. Same with 2 graphics cards. Really though again I am the type to do whats the cheapest over the long run. If I can build a power PC that never needs an upgrade im ok with that, but if its cheaper to build something that 4 years from now needs upgrading, well im ok with that too.

Again I guess the bottom line is what would be cheapest over a 8-10 year period. I dont mind turning down graphic settings or having to upagrde as long as I can run anything I want(even if just on low). I will say though that load times are one thing that nag me, so i wouldnt mind spending for the luxury of not having that issue!
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December 13, 2012 9:59:48 PM

Quote:
Don't go too terribly cheap on your case, if you keep this thing for a long time, you'll want something that isn't going to fall apart or get wobbly in a few years.


It's not so much going cheap as it is with quality. There's *TONS* of junk brands out there when it comes to case. There's a lot of good brands out there but for every Silverstone, Antec, Corsair, Cooler Master, or NZXT, there's tons of Apevias Raidmax's, Logisys, Xion, Compucase, HEC, you name it.

Quote:
For Psu, stick with seasonic, xfx, pc power & cooling, or corsair (there are other good ones, but you'll want to check for a teardown review from a site like jonnyguru before buying).


For power supply this is one area where I strongly advise people *NOT* to trust the store reviews. Jonnyguru is a great resource, as is Hardware Secrets. They will really tell you everything you need to know.

Quote:
I have never built my own PC before so naturally I never messed with overclocking. If its a large performance boost and not too hard/expensive sure id consider it. Same with 2 graphics cards. Really though again I am the type to do whats the cheapest over the long run. If I can build a power PC that never needs an upgrade im ok with that, but if its cheaper to build something that 4 years from now needs upgrading, well im ok with that too.


If it's your first time I'd carefully research overclocking before attempting it. It's a lot of risk and the payoff is good but not that great. If you want to avoid it don't get an unlocked CPU.
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December 13, 2012 10:02:05 PM

Go with g-unit's build..if you want to overclock then go with the second build..if you don't want to overclock go for the first build but replace the 7870 with the 7970.
edit: i meant the 7950.
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December 13, 2012 11:45:02 PM

What is this SSD thing? I have seen that term tossed around a lot in these forums but not sure what it is.

Also I think that with the advice I have been given I am going to go with the first build g-unit suggested, however I want to up the power supply and either put in a larger HD or add a second HD. Not sure if that ups the PSU or if Ill need a bigger case. I am also still not 100% sure on the graphics card. My preffrance is to spend the money on a card that will allow me to run anything on at least low settings for the next 4 years or so, then spend $150-$250 to upgrade.

If you guys can help me one last time to alter the first build to fit these needs it would be greatly appreciated! I think then ill just pull the trigger and try not to pay for rush shipping :bounce: 

Edit - Just wanted to add the reason for picking the first build is again that it seemed the way to go if I dont intend to overclock.
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December 14, 2012 12:06:12 PM

An SSD is a type of hard drive that uses Flash memory (like a thumb drive for example). All of your data is stored in chips much like RAM, instead of spinning platters of a standard hard disk; so an SSD has almost no seek time on data (no need to defrag), doesn't require the drive to spin up, and is able to transfer data at speeds that an HDD could never achieve in reality.

The biggest measurable benefit is boot time. On my PC, it takes about 15-20sec to boot, and the bios takes almost as much time as windows 7 to load; and once I hit the desktop at 20sec, everything is ready to run within a few seconds, rather than having another 30sec+ where the computer is still loading everything.

Beyond that, keeping apps like firefox, office, steam, drivers, etc on your SSD allows them to load/run without any delay. It's rare to see an hourglass for more than a second.

For games, it will not improve frame rates. Some games that load content on demand (such as GTA4, WoW) it will smooth out hiccups when you need to load new areas though. It's also a godsend in games with long load times such as The Witcher, Dragon Age, or Skyrim where every door is a lengthy load screen, this can save you a real amount of time and help keep you immersed in a game. (I swear it saved me several hours in a play through of the witcher).

Additionally, there are no moving parts in an SSD, so it doesn't generate any noise (though if you have an HDD, you'll still get noise from it), in theory they should have a lower failure rate than HDDs, but I don't believe they are really there yet, because they have traditionally had more controller issues than HDDs typically do. SSDs also suffer from wear, as NAND Flash cells are only capable of being written a certain number of times; however they use wear-leveling techniques to mitigate this pretty effectively, much of what I heard indicates that it's difficult to wear out an SSD even if you are constantly writing data over the course of a few years.
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Best solution

December 14, 2012 12:34:58 PM

MSIMagus said:

Also I think that with the advice I have been given I am going to go with the first build g-unit suggested, however I want to up the power supply and either put in a larger HD or add a second HD. Not sure if that ups the PSU or if Ill need a bigger case. I am also still not 100% sure on the graphics card. My preffrance is to spend the money on a card that will allow me to run anything on at least low settings for the next 4 years or so, then spend $150-$250 to upgrade.

If you guys can help me one last time to alter the first build to fit these needs it would be greatly appreciated! I think then ill just pull the trigger and try not to pay for rush shipping :bounce: 

Edit - Just wanted to add the reason for picking the first build is again that it seemed the way to go if I dont intend to overclock.


You shouldn't need a bigger case for an additional HDD.

You don't sound very picky about your eyecandy, so I don't think there is a need to go all out on the GPU so I would suggest perhaps going with a 7870 for your GPU, it will run games at good settings for several years and when it gets tired you can add a second 7870 on the cheap in crossfire. Go for something with a good warranty, VisionTek maybe a good option, they don't get recommended often but they offer a lifetime warranty, and have good service (based in Chicago, I live only a few hours away and when I sent in my 4870 early this year they had good turn around time), I'm not sure if they've gained a bad reputation from some where to keep them from being popular or if it's just because they mostly only build reference designed cards.

Heres an updated list:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ssg7

I upped the PSU, added an SSD, and swapped the HDD to a larger and lower rpm drive. PC Part Picker didn't list a visiontek 7870, but one is available here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here's a review of the PSU: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/XFX-750-W-Black-...
You can remove the SSD in favor of extra drives if desired, but you should go for at least one 7200rpm hdd in that case.
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December 14, 2012 1:06:18 PM

djscribbles said:
You shouldn't need a bigger case for an additional HDD.

You don't sound very picky about your eyecandy, so I don't think there is a need to go all out on the GPU so I would suggest perhaps going with a 7870 for your GPU, it will run games at good settings for several years and when it gets tired you can add a second 7870 on the cheap in crossfire. Go for something with a good warranty, VisionTek maybe a good option, they don't get recommended often but they offer a lifetime warranty, and have good service (based in Chicago, I live only a few hours away and when I sent in my 4870 early this year they had good turn around time), I'm not sure if they've gained a bad reputation from some where to keep them from being popular or if it's just because they mostly only build reference designed cards.

Heres an updated list:
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/ssg7

I upped the PSU, added an SSD, and swapped the HDD to a larger and lower rpm drive. PC Part Picker didn't list a visiontek 7870, but one is available here: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Here's a review of the PSU: http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/article/XFX-750-W-Black-...
You can remove the SSD in favor of extra drives if desired, but you should go for at least one 7200rpm hdd in that case.


Thanks! This looks perfect! I assume the reason you swtiched the HD to a lower RPG is because the SSD will be handling all the major tasks like gaming and OS stuff anyways? Also I assume this will have HDMI slots or others that make it easy to hook up to a TV? I want to make sure I can use Steam Big Picture mode.

Thanks again for all the help! Not just you but g-unit and the others as well!
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December 14, 2012 2:59:30 PM

Yes, you keep the OS and applications on the ssd. You have to do some management of space to keep things tidy, steam now has the ability to install games to different locations which helps alot. You can also use SteamMover or the cmd line tool mklink to move games between HDD and SSD.

The Graphics card you choose will need an hdmi port, as the visionTek I linked does.
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December 14, 2012 3:01:57 PM

Pulled the trigger a few minutes ago! I figure it will probaly have the HDMI thing. I kind of wanted to do wireless internet as well, but I assume that that is something I can easily and cheapily add later?

Gonna select djscribbles as the best answer since I ultimately went with his build. I want to again give a BIG thank you to g-unit though because his build is what helped us reach the final one. Thanks again to you and everyone else that helped a n00b out! I actually started out not excited at all(just upset that I had to put out this money)and now im bouncing in my seat anxious for it to get here!
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December 14, 2012 3:02:22 PM

Best answer selected by MSIMagus.
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