First time builder, $550 gaming PC inspired by Tom's Hardware

I'm tired of 5 frames per second for SC2 with my laptop so it's time to invest more $$$ and get something decent. I don't care that much about ultimate graphics or multiple screens, but I do care about keeping a smooth framerate when there are 400 zerglings running across the screen. Also, my wife is pregnant with our first child, so I'd like to keep my budget around $550.

I was inspired by this thread from this site:,3273.html

and even more inspired by this thread on Reddit:

So far, this is what I have:

CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor - $122
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 - $70
Memory: Corsair XMS3 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory - $38
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive - $50
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Video Card - $160
Case: NZXT Source 220 ATX Mid Tower Case - $40
Power Supply: Antec Neo Eco 620W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V / EPS12V Power Supply - $30
Optical: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer - $16

Some questions...

There are tons of hard drives to choose from, what kinds of things to you look for to select a drive that's reliable?
Are the stock fans that come with the case usually sufficient, or should I invest in some more fans?
How do you determine how much wattage you need for the power supply? Is it harmful to have too much?
Again, 100,000 different choices with the optical. I don't need blu-ray. What is cache and is it important? The one I selected was 2 MB.

Thanks so much for the help, I missed the boat when it came to learning about computers. I was introduced to PC gaming by a friend, so time to get some knowledge!
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  1. With hard drives I tend to look at 1. the make (Western Digital and Seagate tend to be reliable), 2. the warranty (3 years is usually good, 1 year not so much), and the various reviews on a particular model (I check the reviews on places like newegg to ensure that there are no significant quality control issues. I have personally used several Seagate barracuda's and have had good luck with them so far.

    The stock fans in a case are usually sufficient if you don't plan on overclocking, your cpu fan is more likely to have a greater effect on temperature.

    With a power supply it is not harmful to go over, your components will only draw what they need. The Antec you list looks like it will be enough and it is from a reputable name with 80 plus efficient.

    Optical drives are pretty straight forward, most are pretty much the same. The only issue I have run into is that some Sony drives won't work with all AHCI controllers, but you've chosen a Lite-On, so it should be fine.
  2. I dont know about you but if you have a Microcenter near you, you might be able to find an I5 3570k for $160 if you would like to spend a little bit more. They had a sale at mine about 2 months go. I5 3570k for $100! They sold like pies!
  3. Shop around, rebates, etc, the I3 you listed is currently $99 at my microcenter.
  4. If you live near a Microcenter store that is a $50 bundle discount When you buy the i3 with mobo.
  5. Just in case you didn't know, that PSU doesn't come with a power cord. If you get it you need to pick one up if you don't have one from another machine. Would hate to see you build that thing and then not have a power cord.
  6. Gosh, thanks so much for the help! I didn't know that I needed a power cord and I didn't know Microcenter even existed. Fortunately, there's one in Cincinnati and I go there only couple weeks or so.
  7. No special cord, it's Just the normal IEC. You will likely have one in the house.
  8. looks good. u get my seal of approval. no need to change anything :hello:
  9. yeah thats the downside of micro-prices -_-
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