Set-up for college with some questions

Hey everyone. I'm going to be going to be enrolled in college next fall and I'm trying to come up with a good gaming desktop build with a good cheap netbook or laptop on the side. I'd like to keep my total budget under $1800 but might be able to go up to $2000. I plan on buying this in about 3 months so based on what everyone recommends here I'll adjust it for any upgrades I can get for the same price.

Anyways, after about a week of refinement I've come up with this:

1 x Case ( Raidmax Orion Gaming Case - Black )
1 x iBUYPOWER Labs - Internal Expansion ( [6-Port] NZXT Internal USB Expansion System + Bluetooth & Wireless N Modules )
1 x Processor ( Intel® Core™ i5-3570 Processor (4x 3.40GHz/6MB L3 Cache) )
1 x Processor Cooling ( Liquid CPU Cooling System [SOCKET-1155] - ARC Dual Silent High Performance Fan Upgrade (Push-Pull Airflow) )
1 x Memory ( 8 GB [4 GB X2] DDR3-1600 Memory Module - Corsair or Major Brand )
1 x Video Card ( AMD Radeon HD 7850 - 2GB - Single Card ) OR NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 - 2GB
1 x Video Card Brand ( Major Brand Powered by AMD or NVIDIA )
1 x Motherboard ( ASUS P8Z77-V LX )
1 x Power Supply ( 750 Watt - Corsair CX750 )
1 x Primary Hard Drive ( 60 GB Intel 330 SSD - Single Drive )
1 x Data Hard Drive ( 1 TB HARD DRIVE -- 32M Cache, 7200 RPM, 6.0Gb/s - Single Drive )

1 x Optical Drive ( [12X Blu-Ray] LG BLU-RAY Reader, DVD±R/±RW Burner Combo Drive - Black )
1 x Flash Media Reader / Writer ( 12-In-1 External USB Flash Media Card Reader/Writer )
1 x Sound Card ( 3D Premium Surround Sound Onboard )
1 x Network Card ( Onboard LAN Network (Gb or 10/100) )
1 x Operating System ( Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium + Office Starter 2010 (Includes basic versions of Word and Excel) - 64-Bit )
1 x Monitor Cable ( 30 ft. DVI to HDMI Cable (Resolution up to 1080P)

Price~$1270 w/out shipping

As I'm sure you noticed, I configured this on Which brings me to ask: Is IBuyPower a good place to buy from? I've found mixed reviews of it. Some people hate it and some people love it. I'm not very tech savvy when it comes to hardware and assembling hardware so building it on my own may not be the best option. But what do you guys think?

I plan on getting the Monitor, mouse, speakers, and keyboard from maybe Newegg. Either way they should add up to about an extra $275.

Also I've highlighted parts that I have questions about:
Firstly, do I need an Internal USB Expansion system? Mainly i thought I needed this because of the Wireless module, which I believe will allow me to connect my desktop to wifi. Not sure about that though. I know I could get a wireless adapter but this was only $10 extra plus I get the extra USB slots and the Bluetooth module.

Secondly, I have a choice to make for my video card. The Radeon 7850 or the GTX 660. On IBuyPower the 7850 was cheaper by about $25 and is supposed to offer better graphics but I believe NVIDIA is better quality. Basically I need a card that will be able to play games like Skyrim on Max and Battlefield 3 on either High or Ultra. Plus I'd like to be able to future-proof myself for at least a couple of years.

Thirdly, when it comes to motherboards I don't know much. Is model something that would be right for me. I don't plan on SLIing or using CrossfireX.

Fourthly, I'm having trouble deciding on an Hardrive set-up. Right now i'm thinking about using a 60gb SSD as my main drive since they are so fast and having a 1TB hdd purely for data storage. Thoughts?

Oh and can anyone recommend a netbook or laptop? Preferably under $300. It would need to be capable of performing simple tasks like note-taking and maybe some very light or casual gaming. It should also be able to run MatLab. I'm not quite sure of the technical requirements MatLab needs but if I'm hoping i can run it on a $300 laptop.

Current Estimated Price Total ~ $1850

What do guys think? Is my setup good as is? Should I scrap this setup and spend all my money on a good gaming laptop? Did I make any stupid choices when picking the parts? Should I just order all the parts and build it myself? Any advice you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
4 answers Last reply
More about college questions
  1. To max those games you will need at least an hd7870 or Hd7950. The equivalent nVidia card would be a gtx660ti.

    The 7850 will get you med/high settings.
  2. I looked at the 660ti. Is it worth the extra $100 though?
  3. I would go for a 7870 XT is is basically a weakened 7950... for $50 less
  4. The 7870 looks good. And it's only an extra $40 or so. That should work.
Ask a new question

Read More

New Build Systems