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The "Just Enough" gaming box

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January 5, 2013 5:50:24 PM

Hello and thanks in advance for any advice. My son and a couple of his friends want to build themselves gaming computers. We need to keep the cost per box as low as possible while still being able to handle most modern titles decently. It doesn't need everything on ultra, just respectable performance. I'm hoping to get the most bang for the buck by overclocking the CPU and GPU rather than buying top of the line hardware. I'm fine with AMD or Intel I'm just not sure where the budget processors start being viable.


Approximate Purchase Date: Next month or so

Budget Range: How low can you go?

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming > ya know... everything else.

Are you buying a monitor:Yes

Parts to Upgrade: The whole shebang.

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Most US websites. No Microcenter in my state :(  There's a Compusa not far from me.

Location: City, State/Region, Country - Florida USA

Parts Preferences: Any

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: 1920x1200 hopefully

More about : gaming box

a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2013 6:01:54 PM

get back to this after the game.... LOL
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January 5, 2013 6:11:17 PM

whats you max budget? without knowing that its just guessing.
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January 5, 2013 6:24:01 PM

Jonjon...There is no specific budget. I'm trying to get an idea of what would constitute an entry level budget. I'd like to be as inexpesive as possible while getting decent preformance. Whatever that winds up costing we'll figure out a way to make it work.

I'll be watching the game too Swifty!

Thanks
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a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2013 6:39:28 PM

Decent performance in what games ?...
Cause an apu can do for low demanding games or a low end card...

This is the cheapest you can get with decent performance in 1080p :

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/w2JT
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January 5, 2013 6:46:14 PM

to overclock on intel you need at least a 3570k and z75 mb. never mind took the os off. and of course you could get a lesser video card but without knowing a budget its partly guessing.

intel
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($204.99 @ Newegg)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($84.55 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($204.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: BitFenix Merc Alpha (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $741.04
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-05 15:47 EST-0500)

amd
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($129.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO 82.9 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($29.98 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7870 2GB Video Card ($204.99 @ NCIX US)
Case: BitFenix Merc Alpha (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $651.48
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-05 15:46 EST-0500)
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January 5, 2013 6:54:21 PM

Thanks. I'll toy around with those a bit.
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January 5, 2013 7:02:17 PM

You also might want to consider something cheaper like a Phenom II x4 965 that can be overclocked well if budget and performance are the main considerations.
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January 5, 2013 7:11:42 PM

Thanks for the tip. Those are exactly the main considerations :) 
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January 5, 2013 7:25:52 PM

You probably want to do most of the research yourself (or get the boys to do it, but check out what they're doing). I'm not the most experienced person either, so there may be better options.

I'm pretty sure the sweet spot for price/performance is ~800 dollars.
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January 5, 2013 7:39:33 PM

What games does your son play pacifically ? It depends on the build.
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January 5, 2013 7:41:08 PM

Also if you don't mind not building the PC check out eBay. Them guys have some PCs that can play BF3 on ultra.
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January 5, 2013 7:44:08 PM

an OC'd 7950 for the GPU and a 3570k for the CPU would be best imo.

EDIT: Oc'd 7950 beats the 670 in alot of stuff, and is like 100$ cheaper. It would pretty much destroy everything but the witcher 2 and mebbe metro at 1920x1080. ;p frame latency on nVidia cards are better doe, so you might wanna go for a 660ti if you really think you can tell the diff.
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January 5, 2013 8:18:46 PM

These guys seem like they jump around from different games. They've been doing BF3 lately but will probably be on to something else by the time these get built. I'm just looking for something that preforms acceptably across the board but it doesn't really need to excel at any particular game. I'm not looking for ultra settings for the most part. Just as cheap as I can go without having things be a slide show.
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January 5, 2013 8:24:24 PM

BF3 is one of the most demanding games so if you optimize for that you should be A-OK. if you want the best for the least grab an fx 6300, a 7870, and a decent 90$ mobo and you should be fine. OCing isn't worth the cost of the heatsync+the CPU limitations if you're on a budget imo. A 7870 should perform great in most games high-ultra.
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January 5, 2013 8:41:49 PM

Cool thanks. I'm off to dinner for a few hours. I'll check back later :) 
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January 5, 2013 9:17:40 PM

Oooook. So I think some of the builds are way exceeding the "Just-Enough" aspect of this build. I'm presuming that you're expecting to play games on ~Medium/High settings while keeping the build itself as cheap as possible. For overclocking, you might want a higher end CPU than the one in this build.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/w45h

For overclocking, you might want a higher end CPU than the one in this build, but like zed said, it's not worth the extra cost to get a better CPU and heatsink. The OS contains 3 licensed uses of Windows 7, so you can use it on your son's friends' PCs too if they all chip in a bit of money to pay for the 3-pack, it's cheaper than buying 3 individual. The Hannspree monitor in the build another person posted is a no name brand. I have a hanns-g (which is the same brand) and it had dead pixels right out of the box. As you can see here:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-7770-7750...

The graphics card recommended (HD 7770) performs nicely for your budget, and allows for high overclocking headroom.

One last thing, the case recommende (NZXT Source 210) is available right now for $17.99 compared to the normal $45 on Microcenter.com w/rebates.

The total cost is... drumroll please... $863.33! Now you must take into account that the price is higher than it should be due to Windows 7 being a 3-pack. If you split the price with the other kids it should be about $663.33 more or less, and it has a good quality monitor from DELL. I hope you take this build into consideration, as I kept it as cheap as possible but you'll still be playing games like Skyrim on High/Ultra at 1920x1080 at exceptional frame rates.
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January 5, 2013 9:40:25 PM

good luck with a duel core and a 7770 in battlefield 3 mp.
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January 5, 2013 9:58:54 PM

What's with the good luck?... It's enough for the settings he's playing at. He said he doesn't need to play at highest settings and what not. If you really think it's gonna be that much of a problem you can upgrade to maybe a Phenom II x4 965 BE or i3 but I think the Pentium would be adequate.
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January 5, 2013 10:32:30 PM

a 7770 can barely get 30fps on battlefield with with 4x msaa. battlefield is one of the few games that uses all 4 cores on a cpu. what really confuses me is why you would suggest a windows 3 pack at the expense of cpu and gpu. did i miss something? it would already be a dated machine before its even built. if you can afford it $200 more its much better computer. this is the main problem they don't give us a budget so its a pointless discussion anyway. if you want as cheap as you can go yes a G860 and 7770.
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January 5, 2013 10:54:31 PM

Wait. I might sound like a total idiot right now, but I think the 3-pack allowed you to install on 3 different systems? And he says he wants to build for his son and a couple of his friends, so that's my logic.
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January 5, 2013 10:58:41 PM

i would hope it let you install it on 3 pc's. i didn't see where he said anything about building multiple pc's.
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January 5, 2013 11:12:40 PM

It will run FC3 on high and BF3 on high as well.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2013 11:14:53 PM


You can cure a lot of issues by playing 1600x900 in some instances. Otherwise, it's all about your video card.

Those Radeon HD 7950s might drop $50 or more in the next month or so when Sea Islands hits the shelves.

I would not go too cheap on your motherboard -- an FX6300 with an Asus M5A97 or Gigabyte 970-UD3 pops up in Egg combos quite often.



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a b 4 Gaming
January 5, 2013 11:30:51 PM

This is what I would get if I were looking for a gaming rig on a tight budget...

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($35.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB Video Card ($106.97 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Gamma Classic (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($35.75 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G236HLBbd 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($127.59 @ TigerDirect)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $662.23
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-05 20:22 EST-0500)

If you wish to lower it further, you could switch out the HDD for the 500gb version. That will save you $10.

I would suggest you lower the GPU, but if you continue to lower it, the whole point of playing BF3 on a gaming rig will begin to diminish. The HD 7770 will be able to handle BF3 very well on high settings. You can turn down some of the eye candy without losing too much visual quality and really boost the FPS.

Also, keep in mind, some of the builds above did not include an OS and a monitor. This will push the price up significantly.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 12:06:56 AM
January 6, 2013 12:15:17 AM

^ It'd be easier for him if you used PCpartpicker, it'd also be easier for you.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 12:17:54 AM

I used what I used.
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January 6, 2013 12:18:32 AM

Taeran said:
^ It'd be easier for him if you used PCpartpicker, it'd also be easier for you.

i was just going to write that. its to much work to look at each link
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January 6, 2013 11:09:44 AM

"My son and a couple of his friends want to build themselves gaming computers..."
And I like DeusAres build but I'd get the 3-pack Windows 7 to split the cost with your son's friends.
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January 6, 2013 12:18:22 PM

Thats almost exactly what i did. I wanted to build a PC that would have better performance than a Xbox/PS3. The build i put together is a little different than mine.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G860 3.0GHz Dual-Core Processor ($67.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock H61M-DGS Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Smart Tracer 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Toshiba 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($57.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB Video Card ($106.97 @ Newegg)
Case: Zalman Z9 ATX Mid Tower Case ($31.98 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $368.88
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-06 09:15 EST-0500)

If you want the ABSOLUTE BARE MINIMUM then use a HD 7750 and you will have a very low power gaming PC. Also, if you are new to computer components you might be scared by the name Pentium, but its not what it looks like. Its a sandy bridge Pentium and is awesome for the money. Its an i3 without hyper-threading.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 5:04:13 PM
January 6, 2013 5:07:42 PM

The Pentium is more upgrade-able. LGA1155 might be comming to an end but a Sandy or Ivy i5 beats anything AMD will ever release on AM3+ lol.
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January 6, 2013 5:25:46 PM

OK Halftime. Thanks again for all the replies. I know most of these threads revolve around a "I've got this much to spend , I want to play X game" format. I realize my question falls outside of that. I'm asking what a reasonable budget should be for generally good performance. I'll say that in the most demanding titles some settings will need to be rolled back. There is no future proofing :) 

I like a lot of the suggestions so far and I've been doing some research. I'm thinking it would be a good idea to try to fit in a 7850 if I can. The GPU seems like the best place to shoot for something current and maybe I can get away with a less expensive CPU like the Phenom II x4 965 or the G860. The higher tier cards will probably be out of reach for this build.

The 3 way Windows license sounds perfect. We will be building 3 of these. One for each boy.

I'll toy around with a build on pc parts picker and post it after the Colts beat the Ravens :) 
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January 6, 2013 5:29:21 PM

NerdBBQ said:


One last thing, the case recommende (NZXT Source 210) is available right now for $17.99 compared to the normal $45 on Microcenter.com w/rebates.




Wow an $18.00 case. Thanks. I'll check that out.
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January 6, 2013 5:35:18 PM

DeusAres said:
This is what I would get if I were looking for a gaming rig on a tight budget...

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($35.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB Video Card ($106.97 @ Newegg)
Case: NZXT Gamma Classic (Black) ATX Mid Tower Case ($35.75 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: Acer G236HLBbd 60Hz 23.0" Monitor ($127.59 @ TigerDirect)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $662.23
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-05 20:22 EST-0500)

If you wish to lower it further, you could switch out the HDD for the 500gb version. That will save you $10.

I would suggest you lower the GPU, but if you continue to lower it, the whole point of playing BF3 on a gaming rig will begin to diminish. The HD 7770 will be able to handle BF3 very well on high settings. You can turn down some of the eye candy without losing too much visual quality and really boost the FPS.

Also, keep in mind, some of the builds above did not include an OS and a monitor. This will push the price up significantly.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.


Thanks this looks close to what I'm thinking after spending some more time looking into it. I'll see if we can squeeze in a 7850.
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January 6, 2013 5:37:48 PM

I'd really talk to your son about what he wants for what price, as well as what features are important.

It's hard to give a recommendation without a more specific range, the individual decisions are up to you (eg. Do I want a 400, 600, or 800 dollar desktop? In what ratio do you care about price/performance? ...Somewhere in 700-900 dollars is about the middle, you start to suffer from diminishing returns when you favor one over the other and move in price range.)

Not sure if I explained that very well.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 5:45:35 PM

I'll toy around with a build on pc parts picker and post it after the Colts beat the Ravens :) [/quotemsg]


doesn't look promising right now.
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January 6, 2013 5:51:06 PM

Taeran said:
I'd really talk to your son about what he wants for what price, as well as what features are important.

It's hard to give a recommendation without a more specific range, the individual decisions are up to you (eg. Do I want a 400, 600, or 800 dollar desktop? In what ratio do you care about price/performance? ...Somewhere in 700-900 dollars is about the middle, you start to suffer from diminishing returns when you favor one over the other and move in price range.)

Not sure if I explained that very well.


You explained that well, thank you. They each have different amounts of money saved from working. They've been helping me with a number of home projects and I'm making up the difference between what they have saved and what it winds up costing. We're going to build them together. I'm willing to spend whatever is needed to make sure they can play most modern games at decent settings. Not ultra in the most demanding titles. They play most major releases at some point. They're good kids and I want to reward them but since we're building three, I'm trying to keep the costs down. Hence the "just enough" moniker. What the budget should be is what I'm trying to find out. If I need to build an eight or nine hundred dollar machine I will but I'm hoping "just enough" will be less. I think some of the builds that have been suggested so far are a great starting point and I'm using all these ideas to search for reviews and such. It is all helping. I haven't built a computer in years.

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January 6, 2013 5:54:23 PM

Chester Burnett said:
You explained that well, thank you. They each have different amounts of money saved from working. They've been helping me with a number of home projects and I'm making up the difference between what they have saved and what it winds up costing. We're going to build them together. I'm willing to spend whatever is needed to make sure they can play most modern games at decent settings. Not ultra in the most demanding titles. They play most major releases at some point. They're good kids and I want to reward them but since we're building three, I'm trying to keep the costs down. Hence the "just enough" moniker. What the budget should be is what I'm trying to find out. If I need to build an eight or nine hundred dollar machine I will but I'm hoping "just enough" will be less. I think some of the builds that have been suggested so far are a great starting point and I'm using all these ideas to search for reviews and such. It is all helping. I haven't built a computer in years.

I just want to say that this is an awesome thing you are doing
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 5:57:57 PM

Here is a build with the 7850 2GB card for just a few dollars more. I agree on the 1600x900 resolution would be fine. You are worried about playing games on decent settings, well here you will play games on high-ultra settings. DIdn't check but everything should be in-stock.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($89.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-78LMT-S2 Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($49.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Mushkin Blackline 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($35.57 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($179.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Apex SK-393-C ATX Mid Tower Case ($24.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($24.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Monitor: AOC e2051Sn 60Hz 20.0" Monitor ($99.72 @ B&H)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $666.19
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-06 14:57 EST-0500)

And here are some benchmarks for why you should go with the 7850.
http://www.anandtech.com/bench/Product/536?vs=549
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January 6, 2013 6:24:52 PM

Go with what cbal11 posted. Because if you aren't going to be upgrading then having 4 cores will be alot better for the future. Yeah you might few a few frames more with a Pentium G860 in games that aren't made for 4 cores. But in the next year or so alot of titles will probably want 4 cores.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 6:26:36 PM

Chester Burnett said:
You explained that well, thank you. They each have different amounts of money saved from working. They've been helping me with a number of home projects and I'm making up the difference between what they have saved and what it winds up costing. We're going to build them together. I'm willing to spend whatever is needed to make sure they can play most modern games at decent settings. Not ultra in the most demanding titles. They play most major releases at some point. They're good kids and I want to reward them but since we're building three, I'm trying to keep the costs down. Hence the "just enough" moniker. What the budget should be is what I'm trying to find out. If I need to build an eight or nine hundred dollar machine I will but I'm hoping "just enough" will be less. I think some of the builds that have been suggested so far are a great starting point and I'm using all these ideas to search for reviews and such. It is all helping. I haven't built a computer in years.



after reading this don't even consider and AMD build. you'll be shooting yourself in the foot right away. graphics cards........ get one with 2gigs of vram. will help avoid off loading because the 1gig buffer won't be able to store it all... ( skyrim, etc. )
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January 6, 2013 6:50:09 PM

1gb is plenty for 1080p and below with one monitor.
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a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2013 7:06:04 PM

blake1243 said:
1gb is plenty for 1080p and below with one monitor.



sorry, no it isn't. but if you or the OP want to make concessions to your gaming settings that's fine.
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January 6, 2013 7:10:05 PM

Go with Cbal's build if you don't plan on upgrading, however, you can probably have the kids pick out their own budget cases and throw in a Cooler Master 212 to overclock.

If you do plan on upgrading down the line, go with this. It'c compatible with higher intel processors. (Cbal's with the G860 and compatible mobo)
http://pcpartpicker.com/p/wdRR
The case thing still applies.

Edit:Just use it as a frame, make your concessions where you want.
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January 6, 2013 7:23:32 PM

If you're overclocking, buy a cooling fan
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