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New Budget Gaming Build ~$350

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November 11, 2012 1:41:41 AM

Hello. First post. I've been out of the PC gaming scene for 10+ years, with my last real build being a box that had a Voodoo 3500 TV (was nice back then, lol!)
Anyway, I've decided to try to get back into PC gaming, and have a fairly limited budget.
So far I've decided on the following hardware:

MSI 760GM-P23 (FX) Motherboard ($49.99)
AMD Athlon II x4 640 3.0ghz Quad-core ($74.99)
Corsair XMS3 4gb DDR3 1333MHZ ($24.99)
Intel 330 180gb SSD ($119.99)

(MIR's on all this of about $70 usd)

(All are being shipped, but I could return any components I suppose - they aren't here yet.)

Components I already have:

Using a cheap case from a Compaq CQ5205Y, as well as the SATA DVD burner it came with. Cost me $10.
A Dynex 500W power supply I ripped out of a custom build I literally found in the trash, it seems to be completely functional - appears to be the same one that is at bestbuy for $49.99 today - I know it's not great, but should be sufficient.

GPU:

Asus GTX 550 ti DC/DI/GDDR5 1GB ($104.97)

Except... I'm thinking about sending back the GPU for a slightly more expensive variety, like the 560 ti - but I might also need to purchase a more expensive PSU, as I have little faith in a Dynex brand 500W PSU, but I do I have faith it will be enough for the 550 TI and what little components I have in this build.

I plan on using this box only for gaming, as I use my laptop for everything else, and is suiting my needs for light graphics design and Ableton live. However, I have a feeling I'll start wanting to use this new desktop instead - we'll see.

My max resolution will be 1360x768 @ 60hz as this is the resolution of my 37" LCD TV, and I don't expect to be upgrading that anytime soon. For the sake of this post, and for it's high requirements, let's just say I'm going to be playing Battlefield 3, even though I'll probably be playing completely different games. I'd like to never drop below 30fps, and closer to 60fps would probably be better for me - I think.

So, all that said, should I send back the 550 ti when it arrives before opening it and consider a different option, or should I try it and possibly pay a 15% restock fee to send back If I'm not impressed with the results? What about the other components I've picked out? Please keep in mind that after MIR's, I have no more than $330 invested in this box at this point including the GPU. I'd like to keep it below $400 total, and I believe it's totally doable. Even if I had paid full price for all components, this would be still be a sub-$400 build including the case and PSU.

Any non-trolling feedback is appreciated.

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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 1:48:56 AM

The 550 ti may be a bit weak. Its higher price but try a GTX 660, it's better than a 560 ti and uses less power.
It'll definitely be worth it for the slight increase in price though the only problem i can think is how it will par with the CPU as athlons are getting outdated.
Alternatively you could hit a midway point and get a HD 7850.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 1:51:34 AM

If you get a link there on the 7850 dont follow it thats a high price :p 
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November 11, 2012 2:09:04 AM

Good feedback - but that still leaves me somewhat undecided. It does look like the GTX 660 uses less power than both the 550 ti and 560 ti, and is slightly faster, but at a lightly higher price point. It's also not much of a power difference, but a little according to the articles I just found. Looks like about ~$230 for a brand I would settle for (MSI). The HD 7850 is another option I had sort of considered, as the power consumption would definitely be optimal - and at around ~$175. However, back in the day I always stuck with 3DFX vs ATI for graphics due to drivers and stability, and overall smoothness - from reading posts nowadays, this seems to still hold true with nvidia vs. AMD, so it seems best for me to stick with nvidia.

However, I'm wondering if the $230 to get the GTX 660 would really be worth it at my resolution of 1360x768. That's more than double the cost of the $104 GTX 550ti I have coming.

Any more thoughts? :) 
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Anonymous
a c 117 U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 2:09:04 AM

return the SSD, completely inappropriate for a $350 budget, and then get a $60 hard drive with a corsair CX430 so you can throw that dynex back in the trash where it belongs.
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November 11, 2012 2:30:46 AM

Quote:
return the SSD, completely inappropriate for a $350 budget, and then get a $60 hard drive with a corsair CX430 so you can throw that dynex back in the trash where it belongs.


Hmm - I see your a regular here, but I disagree. After the MIR, the 180GB SSD is $90. Why would I throw back $30 for more capacity that I don't need, and a much slower drive? The SSD is more future-proof, and could be used in future builds. Seems like a good idea to me. It's also enough capacity to do everything I need on this box at the moment, as I have other boxes that I can/will store data on. Plus, it's just plain sexy. :sol: 

The CX430 you recommend (at $44.99 it seems), from what I can tell, would be insufficient for all of the video cards mentioned above, except for *maybe* the 550 ti that I already have on order. If I was going to get a new PSU, I would probably opt for atleast a CX500 at $59.99.

Still open to all suggestions - keep it coming.
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November 11, 2012 3:02:36 AM

Just wanted to tell you that finding a stock 7850 was impossible for me. It was supposed to be between 190$-$200. Now they have the OCd version which is $276. Why would I buy the OCd version when I can simply OC it myself? I really don't think you are going to play metro 2033 in ultra.

See this, might give you a clue,
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/370823-33-6950-7850

SSD seems a good idea since it is future proof and 'sexy'. I hope the prices would drop soon. In my country a Intel 330-series 180GB SSD costs 25k=$192.30

I say go with the current hardware but definitely do more research before going for the graphics card.

Good luck with the build!
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Anonymous
a c 117 U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 3:40:41 AM

wombatwhomp said:
Quote:
return the SSD, completely inappropriate for a $350 budget, and then get a $60 hard drive with a corsair CX430 so you can throw that dynex back in the trash where it belongs.


Hmm - I see your a regular here, but I disagree. After the MIR, the 180GB SSD is $90. Why would I throw back $30 for more capacity that I don't need, and a much slower drive? The SSD is more future-proof, and could be used in future builds. Seems like a good idea to me. It's also enough capacity to do everything I need on this box at the moment, as I have other boxes that I can/will store data on. Plus, it's just plain sexy. :sol: 

The CX430 you recommend (at $44.99 it seems), from what I can tell, would be insufficient for all of the video cards mentioned above, except for *maybe* the 550 ti that I already have on order. If I was going to get a new PSU, I would probably opt for atleast a CX500 at $59.99.

Still open to all suggestions - keep it coming.

firstly an intel SSD is not that great in performance, esp the 330 series with sandforce controllers and cheap NAND storage so instead of having an SSD that will last for several builds you will end up with a very sexy looking paper weight in not too long of time.

and i will tell you this right now, the CX430 that you say won't power any of the aforementioned cards will and will much better than a POS you pulled out of the trash. if you really want a decent card that won't get bottlenecked by a PIIx4 640, the highest you'll be able to go is a 7850. the 430 will pull that off with room to spare.

but hey, i guess its your money . . . good luck with that.

cheers.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 3:56:06 AM

i have to go with looniam on this one .. you really dont seem to be all that interested in system performance so having an ssd drive is pretty much a waist especially an intel version when you can get a sandforce drive at a much better price.. look into patriot pyro drives or mushkin they have pretty decent performing drives and usually carry a rebate.. just saying your better off going with a lower end ssd drive.. the phenom on the other hand contrary to most people i really like them but there power hogs and well compared to intel .. much slower .. that being said it really cant be helped considering your budget.. so i would just say that while you may think a 7850 has driver issues i assure you that the majority of them are related to crossfire.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 4:08:42 AM

Goodguy has a great point about the crossfire driver issues, I just got rid of my ati cards because of this. Have you thought about buying a used video card? Craigslist or ebay? Could save some money. Although you buy used, and its well, used....
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 4:23:33 AM

skip the ssd and instead of 550 ti get either the 7750 or 7770.
both are better , more efficient than 550ti
both cards are more than enough for your resoution.
am not sure x4 640 is a good choice.
a 965 phenom would be better .
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November 11, 2012 5:11:42 AM

Dienan47:

Quote:
SSD seems a good idea since it is future proof and 'sexy'.........I say go with the current hardware but definitely do more research before going for the graphics card.......Good luck with the build!


Thanks! I appreciate the feedback.

looniam:

Quote:
firstly an intel SSD is not that great in performance.........you will end up with a very sexy looking paper weight in not too long of time.


Maybe so, but a cheap $60 harddrive may also do the same in a short amount of time, as they often do. For the $30 difference, I'm willing to take my chances. However, thank you for your input. I agree about that PSU - if I decide to go AMD for my GPU, that would work. As far as performance, it may not be the best performing SSD drive out there - but it's certainly not the worst, and is still a world of difference from a platter (as far as I can tell from reading.)

According to this article here on tom's, it's the same controller and flash as on the intel 520's - not saying that makes it better, but I'm just sayin'.

goodguy713:

Quote:
i have to go with looniam on this one .. you really dont seem to be all that interested in system performance so having an ssd drive is pretty much a waist especially an intel version when you can get a sandforce drive at a much better price.....


Performance vs. price is always the key issue for me, and always will be. I can't find anything close to $90 for even 120gb much less 180gb in these brands, please enlighten me. These intel drives also use sandforce controllers, as specified in the link above.

I honestly can't believe you guys are trying to talk me out of an SSD, even for a budget build. It seems that this is the single most important performance increase, even for aging boxes. Maybe it doesn't give me any extra FPS in gaming, but it should help with overall smoothness of all operations. Even though I may have been out of the 'game' for awhile, I still know that platter based disk drives always have been a bottleneck in any setup.

zpwslayer:

Quote:
.....crossfire driver issues, I just got rid of my ati cards because of this. Have you thought about buying a used video card? Craigslist or ebay? Could save some money. Although you buy used, and its well, used....


and

Quote:
...so i would just say that while you may think a 7850 has driver issues i assure you that the majority of them are related to crossfire...


Feedback like this gives me mixed feelings about AMD/ATI for a GPU. I don't intend to SLI/Crossfire, but maybe it deserves a shot. I'm still not sold vs a gtx 660 or gtx 560 ti. Definitely not going used for any components, but good suggestions.

mohit9206:

Quote:
skip the ssd and instead of 550 ti get either the 7750 or 7770.
both are better , more efficient than 550ti
both cards are more than enough for your resoution.
am not sure x4 640 is a good choice.
a 965 phenom would be better .


The 7750 appears to benchmark lower than the 550ti I've ordered, and is at the same price. The only advantage here would be maybe power consumption as far as I can tell. Similar with the 7770, and they are also about the same price. You are definitely correct that a 965 phenom would be slightly better, but would have cost me roughly $45 more - for the price point, the cpu I'm getting benches very similarly and is much more disposable. It seems that according to benchmarks the x4 640 will give me adequate performance with modern games when paired with a decent GPU. As an upgrade, I could instead in 6 months or so grab an FX-6300 which is currently around $140 to drop on there, and basically double my cpu performance. Since it's a mobo/cpu bundle, it's much like getting either the board or the cpu for free, depending on how I want to look at it. Just trying to help all of you understand my reasoning. With the (slight) overclocking potential and my complete disregard for the somewhat disposable cpu, this point becomes all the more important.

What else? :)  - Everyone please help me decide on a GTX 660 or Radeon HD 7850. It seems that these are the best choices given my power concerns, or to stick with the 550 ti and see how it goes (given my low resolution requirements.)

Keep it coming, and again, thanks everyone for your input.
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November 11, 2012 6:29:11 AM

Getting an SSD on a budget build isn't especially a good idea. They are faster but for $85 you can get a 1TB HDD as goodguy said you don't seem to care about your system performance. You could spend the $50 or so you save from getting a mechanical on a better graphics card.

Try this HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you go for that HDD get this GPU maybe: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I chose the GPU based on the fact that you have GTX series one already, you might be able to swap to a radeon for a bit more performance. The NVIDIA is super clocked and with your cooling maybe this GPU would be better..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



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November 11, 2012 6:50:12 AM

joe135 said:
Getting an SSD on a budget build isn't especially a good idea. They are faster but for $85 you can get a 1TB HDD as goodguy said you don't seem to care about your system performance. You could spend the $50 or so you save from getting a mechanical on a better graphics card.

Try this HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you go for that HDD get this GPU maybe: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I chose the GPU based on the fact that you have GTX series one already, you might be able to swap to a radeon for a bit more performance. The NVIDIA is super clocked and with your cooling maybe this GPU would be better..

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Again, I'm spending a total of $90 usd after MIR for the SSD. Why would I spend $5 less to get a slower platter drive, just with a higher capacity? I don't get it. Am I not getting something, really? - I do appreciate the feedback, but I honestly thought I would see more push towards the SSD. I'm not spending any more money on it, and it's better. What's the big deal? Also, again, I do care about system performance, as well as pricing and value. It's all important.

The GTX 650 you recommend benches right around the 550 ti I ordered, but is around $40.00 more. Seems like a terrible value, and the specific card you recommended has not-so-great reviews.

At this point, I'm leaning towards spending a little more on getting a GTX 660 (non-ti) for right at $230. Maybe the EVGA superclocked variety, but if not, the ASUS. It seems like a solid bet at not much more than the 560 ti that I had originally considered, but with much lower power requirements and a newer architecture.

What else? More feedback please :) 
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 10:06:43 AM

Yeah 660 is a good bet from the point of view of price for performance and the power usage is less obvioiusly.
Something else you could consider is GTX 650 Ti?
I'm english so I don't know newegg too well but i know it is very big over there - You can pick up a 650 Ti around $150 so that seems like it may be a good intermediate point of the 550 Ti and the 660.

EVGA 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Zotac 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All up to you, another thing to note is that the 650 Ti's come with AC3 free so even if you don't want it you could sell it on eBay or something :) 

Basically:
550 Ti = Lower End
650 Ti = Mid point
660 = Higher end
(All relative to the price bracket)
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November 11, 2012 3:17:50 PM

calumconroy said:
Yeah 660 is a good bet from the point of view of price for performance and the power usage is less obvioiusly.
Something else you could consider is GTX 650 Ti?
I'm english so I don't know newegg too well but i know it is very big over there - You can pick up a 650 Ti around $150 so that seems like it may be a good intermediate point of the 550 Ti and the 660.

EVGA 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Zotac 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI 650 Ti 1gb: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

All up to you, another thing to note is that the 650 Ti's come with AC3 free so even if you don't want it you could sell it on eBay or something :) 

Basically:
550 Ti = Lower End
650 Ti = Mid point
660 = Higher end
(All relative to the price bracket)


Cool - the 650 ti isn't one that I've really considered much at all, but according to benchmarks is quite promising and right in between the 550 ti and the 660 (non-ti), but much closer to the 660. Sounds promising, and your idea of reselling the AC3 coupon to even more slightly offset the cost is a great one.

The one thing that kind of scares me with the 650 ti is the lower memory bus - it's only 128-bit as compared to the 192-bit of both the 660 and the older 550 ti. Do you think this is something I should be at all concerned about?
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 3:27:34 PM

No i don't. With you having an Athlon CPU, you'll be fairly limited to what you can do anyway. You would see a difference, and it'd be noticeable, but for the money, the current 650 Ti and 660 are great. Its up to you but really it's down to the money you want to put in. A 660 will produce ~45 fps on battlefield 3 ultra wheras a 650 Ti should do that on high. Either way you won't be disappointed.
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November 11, 2012 4:10:28 PM

calumconroy said:
No i don't. With you having an Athlon CPU, you'll be fairly limited to what you can do anyway. You would see a difference, and it'd be noticeable, but for the money, the current 650 Ti and 660 are great. Its up to you but really it's down to the money you want to put in. A 660 will produce ~45 fps on battlefield 3 ultra wheras a 650 Ti should do that on high. Either way you won't be disappointed.


Cool, at what resolution do you consider this to be true? I'll be running in 1360x768 for the foreseeable future.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 4:21:46 PM

1080p on the 660, possibly 1080p on the 650 Ti though i doubt it.
I reckon if you ran a 650 Ti on 1360x768 on high with some settings turned up to ultra you should be sorted. I'm guessing you're on a 19" monitor?
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November 11, 2012 4:27:42 PM

calumconroy said:
1080p on the 660, possibly 1080p on the 650 Ti though i doubt it.
I reckon if you ran a 650 Ti on 1360x768 on high with some settings turned up to ultra you should be sorted. I'm guessing you're on a 19" monitor?


Thank god I'm not on a 19" monitor. I've got a 37" 720P LCD TV. It sounds like I might even get by with the much less expensive 550ti at my 1360x768. I might just have to give it a go and risk the 15% restocking fee if I'm not impressed with the results.

But... the 650ti or even the 660 is still tantalizing to say the least... but I think I would want to go with the 2gb model to be a little more future-proof, bringing the total to $174.99 for a 650ti vs. $230 for the 660, and only $104 for the 550ti. So with either of the 2 better options I'm almost spending double.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 4:51:10 PM

37" 720p TV?
Unlucky You. Haha well i wouldn't like it anyway :p 
I'd suggest the midway point, not too expensive relatively, but not compromising power. Go for the 650 Ti.
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November 11, 2012 5:17:21 PM

First of all, I will not count any rebates, pointless varieties of gpus, my suggestions will be strictly hardware based.

If you wish to play more games that are "core-demanding" (like GTA 4) then the Athlon2 X4 640 is not a bad buy. However, if you plan on playing better developed, modern games, (Like Battlefield 3) I would suggest a SandyBridge Dual G620/G630 cpu, with a mid-level board(H77/B75), but ONLY if you can get a combo around the same price as the AM3/Athlon2 c.

As for the PSU, I wouldn't take that 500W title for granted. I wouldn't push it too much, altough it should deliver a safe 300-350w even in a worst case scenario, which is more than enough.
If you were to spend any money on it, I would also suggest something like a CX430 or a cheaper FSP 400 80+ variant, but since it came free, there's no real reason.

For GPU, I wouldn't play around the 550ti-650-650ti mark, you could get a better value on the AMD side
(no, what you've heard isn't relevant anymore, the 7xxx series pretty much edges out Nvidias 6xx, drivers ARE good.)

I have built budget rigs that are pretty equal to your needs.
One with a G620 and an HD 7750 (for a small 1024X768 LCD)
One with an i3-2120 and an HD 7750 (for a 19", 1440x900 LCD)

My max res is also 1440x900, and I've managed to get 45 FPS average on BF3, Ultra/MAX sets with my 6850, which is a bit above the 550Ti's performance. (Never mind the first map, that's a powerhog, just like in Metro 2033's case.)

While I would say a 7750 is pretty much enough for 1366x768, (it pulls the 45fps avg on HIGH sets,BF3) if you want to make sure, go with an HD 7770 (it has no competitor in price/performance, the 650 is cheaper and weaker, the 650ti is more expensive) or spend much more for a GTX 660/HD7850. They are even, they are both massive overkill for your res, but in BF3, that's not a bad thing at all.

If you're willing to play BF3 in multiplayer, then definitely go with the more expensive solutions, since MP requires double the hardware.

(The 550ti is not a bad solution, but it's last generation, not a good value anymore, and it is fully insufficient for MP.)
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November 11, 2012 5:22:03 PM

I fully support the idea of a standalone SSD BTW. Since you're probably not in need for space for your 70GB of music, (such as me) it should be enough for gaming/everyday use.

If you're not using sleep mode, google around, search for turning it off on windows 7 forums. It will free up HDD space up to 8GBytes.
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November 11, 2012 6:04:08 PM

richardgal said:
I fully support the idea of a standalone SSD BTW. Since you're probably not in need for space for your 70GB of music, (such as me) it should be enough for gaming/everyday use.

If you're not using sleep mode, google around, search for turning it off on windows 7 forums. It will free up HDD space up to 8GBytes.


Cool - I'm pretty excited about the SSD.

Also, I think I've decided to go with this GTX 660 (non-ti), at $229. I have a feeling I'll be much more satisfied with my purchase than either the 550 ti or the 650 ti, and the Radeon's are too similarly priced to make me want to go with them.

Switching to the GTX 660, my total cost after MIR's is going to be $400, or $499 before. To me it's $408, it's not a big deal to have $90 floating around as long as I get it back at some point. If I can come close to maxing out modern games, and it sounds like I probably will, I'll be extremely satisfied with my purchases - especially if I eventually buy a new tv or monitor at some point in the future.

I'll be sure to post back and let everyone know how it works out - I know if I was reading this thread, I would want to know what the end results of everything were.
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a b U Graphics card
November 11, 2012 6:16:21 PM

Okay good luck! :D 
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November 18, 2012 2:27:22 AM

So, I finished my 'budget' build, and used all of the components I stated in the original post, with the exception of the graphics card of course:

MSI 760GM-P23 (FX) Motherboard
AMD Athlon II x4 640 3.0ghz Quad-core
Corsair XMS3 4gb DDR3 1333MHZ
Intel 330 180gb SSD
The 'trash' dynex 500w power supply
And... I went with the Gigabyte GTX 660 OC for my GPU.

I overclocked the x4 640 to 3.465GHz and was able to unlock the L3 6MByte cache by turning on Advanced Clock Calibration. This brought my passmark performance test CPU rating from 3490 to 4560, quite a bump in performance as far as benchmark numbers go.

Windows boots in roughly 7 to 8 seconds thanks to the SSD. Impressive.

At 1360x768 (720p), I get a solid 90 FPS in Battlefield 3 with everything on ultra, including anti-aliasing and anisotropic at 16x. In fact, it usually hovers around 95 or 100, sometimes going all the way up to 120 but never dips below 60 FPS.

I was so impressed with the results that I had to go plug it up to a friends 40 inch 1080p 120hz LCD to see what I could do at 1920x1080.

At 1920x1080, with everything still set to ultra, I get a solid 60 FPS sometimes going all the way up to 90 FPS, but never dipping below 45 FPS. It's smooth as butter and looks absolutely incredible.

I also tried the game 'Dishonored' at 1920x1080 with everything maxed out. It caps off at 60 FPS (I guess it has a vsync option that you can't turn off? idk.) However, it never dips below 60 FPS at all, it just stays solid and it's absolutely incredible as far as eye candy goes. I've only played about an hour into this game but it looks like a really great game aside from just the eye candy, I'd recommend giving it a shot if you get a chance.

My next upgrade is going to have to be a 1080p display - however, I'm not sure whether to go for a couple decent sized monitors or if I should just get another TV. I'm also not sure whether to go LCD or LED...

Overall, I'm incredibly happy with my choices as far as hardware goes. I think I really hit the sweet spot for price vs performance.
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November 25, 2012 6:56:44 AM

Best answer selected by wombatwhomp.
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