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$600-$630 Budget PC Build - First-timer Seeking Advice

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February 17, 2013 8:05:05 AM

Hi there, everyone! I just joined and am looking for some advice and suggestions for my first-ever DIY PC build. But first, a little bit of background. I'm not a hardcore PC gamer by any means -- I've always been more of a console gaming chick. I'm sure I'll get laughed at when I say this, but The Sims 3 is about the extent of my PC gaming, though I welcome any suggestions for good, newbie-friendly shooters. Anyway, I have all 7 current Sims 3 EPs (Expansion Packs) and 4 SPs (Stuff Packs that I used to play on my Toshiba Satellite P105 laptop that I bought new in 2007. And I say "used to" because, as you might expect, my laptop is severely underpowered. 2GBs of RAM, 32-bit Windows Vista, Nvidia GeForce 7900 GO GS graphics, Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 CPU... About the most I use it for now is playing Solitare, emulated console games (think NES through Genesis era) and browsing the web.

I've never built a computer before, but it sounds like a whole lot of fun, albeit very confusing and somewhat intimidating. I've been doing a lot of research over the past couple months or so on the various components, but am still totally confused as to what to get. The one things I am certain of, however, is the budget and CPU make. $600 to $630 is about it, and I would like to go with an AMD CPU.


Approximate Purchase Date: March-April

Budget Range: $600-$650


System Usage from Most to Least Important: The Sims 3, emulation, web surfing, Paint Shop Pro, watching the occasional movie, possibly playing other PC games

Are you buying a monitor: Not at the moment. Initially going to use my TV; will purchase one in the future


Parts to Upgrade: I need everything

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, Tigerdirect, NCIX, Amazon

Location: California Bay Area, United States

Parts Preferences: AMD for CPU, Asus, Asrock, GIGABYTE, MSI for motherboard, AMD for GPU, 8GBs of RAM

Overclocking: No. What is that?

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: Not sure if this helps, but my laptop's current resolution is 1440 x 900. My TV supports HD, however. And for The Sims 3, I have the resolution in-game set to 1280 x 800.

Additional Comments: Already bought the case, a Cooler Master Elite 431 Plus (Dad is painting it lime green and wrapping it in carbon fiber) Also want to get a good number of parts from a local computer shop, where I have a discount card.


And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: Can't play Sims 3 + current and future Expansions on my laptop anymore, want the upgradeability of a PC.

Any suggestions on possible builds is greatly appreciated, and thank you in advance!
February 17, 2013 8:42:13 AM

Hi, i guess you can get the i3 2100 and the raedon HD 6850 , 4GB patriot RAM and maybe another parts u can ask other ppl cause im blind in computer building just like you.
And overclocking is to make your cpu/gpu work harder than its stock power, like pushing the 2.0ghz cpu to 3.0ghz, but its may cost dangerous and u may cook your thing
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February 17, 2013 8:46:24 AM

Went a bit over budget. I wouldn't want to downgrade anything, but you could go with a cheaper mATX mobo to save some money.

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($119.99 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: MSI 970A-G46 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($79.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Corsair 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.00 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($69.98 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7850 1GB Video Card ($159.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($26.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Lite-On iHAS124-04 DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Total: $603.90
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-17 05:45 EST-0500)
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February 17, 2013 8:51:46 AM

What is your local computer store?
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February 17, 2013 11:44:53 AM

Can I ask you why you want AMD? I'm not knocking it, it has it's strengths, but intel might suit your needs better.

Do you have a microcenter near you? You can save a bit of money buy going there, as they regularly have CPUs cheaper, and knock $50 off a mobo with a CPU purchase.

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February 17, 2013 9:48:26 PM

@ eyeage - Unfortunately, no. I believe the only Micro Center around here closed about a year or so ago, and the closest one to me in all the way in Southern California, lol. Which REALLY sucks because some of the deals they have on their web-site are crazy, and most are "in-store only". However, I am going down to SoCal in April, so maybe I will check them out (the Micro Center is in Orange, which is here I'm going to be anyway). To answer your other question...I guess I can't really answer that, lol. I know Intel has been around forever and their components are great quality, but I just haven't been researching them all that much I guess, so I'm clueless. :whistle:  Do you think you could help?

@ SlippySnowman - There are a few computer stores around here, but the one I'm referring to is called Central Computer. It's really the only store I'm going to try and get my parts from because I don't particularly like or trust Frys.

@ FinniousPJ - Thank you for that wonderful build suggestion!
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February 19, 2013 7:30:18 PM

Back with a couple more build suggestions. How either of these work?

Build #1:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($77.98 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M Micro ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Kingston Blu Red Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($52.48 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.14 @ Amazon)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Cooler Master SickleFlow 69.7 CFM 120mm Fan ($7.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case Fan: Cooler Master SickleFlow 69.7 CFM 120mm Fan ($7.98 @ Outlet PC)
Power Supply: Cooler Master GX 450W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($52.82 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Keyboard: AZIO Large Print Tri-Color Illuminated Keyboard Wired Ergonomic Keyboard ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Mouse: Logitech G300 Wired Optical Mouse ($32.95 @ Amazon)
Total: $615.27
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-19 16:24 EST-0500)

Build #2:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($123.79 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z75 Pro3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($76.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($45.97 @ Outlet PC)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.49 @ Outlet PC)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($102.98 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($26.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ Outlet PC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Keyboard: AZIO Large Print Tri-Color Illuminated Keyboard Wired Ergonomic Keyboard ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Mouse: Logitech G300 Wired Optical Mouse ($32.95 @ Amazon)
Total: $608.11
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-19 16:25 EST-0500)

Build #3:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: AMD Athlon II X4 640 3.0GHz Quad-Core Processor ($72.73 @ Outlet PC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-DS3 ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($69.98 @ Outlet PC)
Memory: Kingston Blu Red Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($52.48 @ Amazon)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($59.14 @ Amazon)
Video Card: HIS Radeon HD 7770 1GB Video Card ($119.99 @ Newegg)
Wireless Network Adapter: Rosewill RNX-N150PCe 802.11b/g/n PCI-Express x1 Wi-Fi Adapter ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Case Fan: Cooler Master SickleFlow 69.7 CFM 120mm Fan ($7.98 @ Outlet PC)
Case Fan: Cooler Master SickleFlow 69.7 CFM 120mm Fan ($7.98 @ Outlet PC)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 430W 80 PLUS Bronze Certified ATX12V Power Supply ($26.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ Outlet PC)
Keyboard: AZIO Large Print Tri-Color Illuminated Keyboard Wired Ergonomic Keyboard ($28.99 @ Newegg)
Mouse: Logitech G300 Wired Optical Mouse ($32.95 @ Amazon)
Total: $584.18
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-02-19 16:27 EST-0500)
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February 19, 2013 8:05:26 PM

None can touch my suggestion TBH.
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February 22, 2013 8:34:27 AM

Well, ended up going with an OEM Phenom II X4 965 for $75 and bought a Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus along with it, totaling about $109. I figure since it will be on an AM3+ board, I can always upgrade in the distant future. Also going to order a Corsair CX500M from Amazon tomorrow.
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February 22, 2013 9:35:18 AM

Good deal. Do not go lower than 7850 on the GPU though.
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February 22, 2013 1:43:33 PM

First time building my PC too and All my parts arrive today (Except the ram sadly) I might just go out and buy one instead of waiting...

Anyways, My build is similar to Finne's but I'm going with the i5 2500k instead :D . Only because I hear intel processors are superior :D . Also, Building a PC does sound like a fun experience... Until you f*** up.. But I'm not to worried, I've been watching many videos and it seems very easy :p .
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February 22, 2013 1:45:30 PM

FinneousPJ said:
Good deal. Do not go lower than 7850 on the GPU though.

+1.
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!