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New Gaming PC around £800

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Last response: in Systems
January 16, 2012 7:17:45 PM

Hey guys, been looking into building myself a gaming pc and have finally got my student loan to be able to do so :D . Will be building myself, so am very cautious as I have never done this before. Am currently looking for help in choosing components as I have little to no knowledge of them.

Approximate Purchase Date: As soon as possible, but no real hurry

Budget Range: £800 would be nice but am willing to go over if necessary

System Usage from Most to Least Important: gaming, movies/films

Parts Not Required: keyboard and mouse

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Never purchased any pc components so have no preference, but UK retails are a must

Country: England

Parts Preferences: Think I am set on 2500k as from what I've read that is a good processor for the price.

Preferably a 24' monitor no qualms with a 22'

Research also suggests that a Z68 motherboard fits will with 2500k and is also good for OC and SLI/xfire which I may do in future. Although I have no idea of what Z68 board is best.

Graphics cards I have little to no knowledge of, I was however looking at the AMD 6950 which seemed reasonable performance for price but as I said I have no idea. Willing to SLI/xfire if necessary.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: Maybe

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080

Additional Comments: Any and all advice welcome, I really don't want to mess this up :D 

Thank you

More about : gaming 800

January 16, 2012 8:58:21 PM

I would take the time to write up a list of components, but in all reality there are 5714890570129345 builds on this forum with your budget, I would suggest looking at some of those threads to get a solid idea of what you want. For the most part, they are all identical builds with the same core components, and most of them suggest the same few video cards

(not trying to be rude, just stating the obvious because there are so many of these posts a day with the same budget)
January 17, 2012 5:32:29 PM

Cheers for that, I've spent quite a while looking around and have potentially? come up with this.

i5 2500k - £170

Gigabyte Z68AP-D3 - £80

Coolermaster GX 650W PSU - £50

8GB Corsair DDR3 Vengenance 1600 - £36

3TB Hard drive - £120. Very unsure about this, as it says 'whitebox' so no entirely sure what you get, although I believe if I went instore I could check. More than willing to look at alternatives as I feel that 3TB is overkill anyway.

Samsung DVD/RW - £15

Antec 300 Case - £45. Not completely certain on this case either, seems fine for what I want but I'm no expert.

So that's £515 without a graphics card, reason being I have no idea as to what one would be best, I'd be interested in playing things like skyrim, bf3, witcher 2, etc all on max or near depending on the graphics card obviously.

I was originally thinking doing a crossfire setup with the 6850 but I read about microstutter on crossfire and sli setups so perhaps a single card would be best?.

I'm also weary of buying a higher end single card at the moment due to the 7950 coming out soon but I'm not sure how much of a step up that would be from something like a 6970 or gtx 570 that I could add within budget.

So, any recommendations for a graphics card or will I be better off waiting? Also if people could check that all my components will work together and perhaps suggest any better alternatives please do.

Related resources
a b 4 Gaming
January 17, 2012 6:43:23 PM

The beauty of (most) Z68 motherboards is that they allow you to use the iGPU on the i5-2500K, so you could actually build the main rig now and use it for a while (with limited/no gaming) and see what graphics cards come out and then make a decision. If you can't wait then you'll have to make a decision and live with it.
Anything from a 6870/GTX 560 and up will play most games quite well on a 1080 monitor.

The Gigabyte GA-Z68AP-D3 has an x16/x4 split. Which means that it won't support SLI at all and will have sub-optimal scaling with the AMD graphics cards you can use.

You should be getting the Low Profile version of the Vengeance RAM, as tall heatspreaders are unnecessary on DDR3 RAM and they just make it more difficult to choose an aftermarket CPU cooler, if you ever decide to install one.

The Cooler Master GX 650W is not a very good PSU, review at HardOCP if you want specifics.
This would be better:
XFX Pro 550W Core Edition 80Plus Bronze £53

If you want a 650W PSU then the 650W version of the above or the XFX 650W XXX Edition.
Antec TruePower New TPN-650 (the 550W is a good alternative to the XFX Pro 550W).
Antec Signature 650W is a good price on ebuyer and has excellent electrical performance and build quality, probably the best of the lot. The 80mm fan might get a bit noisy on load.
Corsair 650TXV2
Adata HM 650W

That HDD spins at 5400RPM, rather than 7200RPM, which many consider to be a bit low for a boot/OS drive. So I would advise getting a 500GB/1TB 7200RPM drive. And if you need more storage later then it's okay to add a large capacity 5400RPM drive, hopefully the prices will have dropped by then as well.

The Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB or the Seagate Barracuda 1TB ST1000DM003 would be my choices.

The Antec 300 is a popular case, so it must be pretty good. I would consider the Bitfenix Shinobi as a newer, more modern alternative.
January 17, 2012 7:49:36 PM

Thanks a lot for the help guys - unfortunately newegg doesn't ship to the UK ,but I think I will however get the Asus motherboard you linked but from here as it is the same price as the one I was intending but Silvune highlighted an issue should I wish to crossfire/sli in the future. I believe this one has 2 pci-e x16, which seems like a good option to have.

Thank you for alterting me to the ram, not something I would have otherwise thought about, thank fully the low profile is the same price. As for the hard drives I think I will get the seagate baraccuda 1tb and then maybe when the prices come down again, get a larger drive if necessary. I was also contemplating an SSD for windows, but that's not something I am too sure on.

As for psu, in the future if I did want to crossfire say, two 6950s, would I need a larger psu as if that is the case maybe I'd be better off buying a better psu straight away. If not however I will go for the antec signature as from what I've read it is hugely important not to skimp on the psu.

As for the GPU, is this a good price for a 2gb 6950? £198 reviews seem pretty good and also mention about potentially OC to essentially be the same power as a 6970.

Thanks again, been a great help so far.

a b 4 Gaming
January 17, 2012 9:19:55 PM

The Asus P8Z68V LX has the same problem as the Gigabyte one, x16/x4 split.
The cheapest board I have seen today that has the optimal x8/x8 split is the Gigabyte GA-Z68A-D3H at £115 on ebuyer, but I haven't checked any other sites to see if it is cheaper elsewhere or if there are other boards which are cheaper.
To find out how a board has its PCIe lanes split up it is best to go to the manufacturers product web page.

Yes the LP Corsair Vengeance is usually the same price as the 'normal' ones.

SSDs usually only help in system/game/application booting times. WOW is one of the few games where framerate can be positively affected.
Personally I don't think it is the sort of thing worth going over budget for at the moment in a gaming build.
Something that you have to consider with SSDs, besides performance, which you don't with mechanical HDDs is reliability. Longevity is theoretically an issue, but is unlikely to be in reality, as long as the drive is reliable. Failure rates and bugs are far more common with SSDs compared to HDDs.
So if you are prepared to pay more and deal with potential unreliability then get an SSD.

Z68 motherboards have a feature known as SSD caching, which means that you can add a small SSD to help boost disk performance. I think the jury is out on whether this is a worthwhile route to take, but if you could only afford a ~60GB SSD then you may wish to explore this by looking at benchmarks/reviews.

You can definitely power a build with two 6950s on a 650W PSU. However you need a unit with four PCIe connectors, the Signature only has two. Plus if you are thinking about unlocking and overclocking the cards that can increase the power requirements to the point where it would probably be a better idea to buy a ~750W unit.

Both the XFX 650W units and the Truepower New have four PCIe connectors.
The 750W versions of these are the more budget friendly options for high quality 750W units.

Yes I think that is a fairly good price on a 6950.
January 18, 2012 5:07:13 PM

Haha I was wrong again :D  good thing I did ask for help lol.

So my (proposed) final build:

intel i5-2500k
Gigabyte Z68A-D3S-B3
XFX Pro 750W
1TB Seagate Barracuda
8Gb Corsair Vengenance - I read a thread that using 1600 mhz ram voids warranty? should I get 1333 ram instead?
BitFenix Shinobi
Samsung DVD drive
Powercolour 2gb 6950

Altogether I think that comes out to around £760. The thread on the ram has worried me slightly so should I get 1333 ram?

What about an after-market cooler? I know that if I want to OC then I should get one, but will an OC'd 2500k improve gaming performance or just all-round pc usage. A recommendation would be cool and also what about thermal paste? I read about different ways to do it or can I get a cooler with the paste already applied.

What about extra cables? I tried to stay away from OEM things as I'm still not sure.

And finally, any good recommendations for a 22-24" monitor, 1920x1080 a must, led would be a bonus. Price wise I don't know, under £150 would be great.

Thanks again Silvune
a b 4 Gaming
January 18, 2012 6:55:13 PM

Now that I've spent 5 seconds looking I have found this:
Gigabyte GA-Z68X-UD3P £88
However it doesn't have display connectors, so you can't use the i5's iGPU with this.

I doubt that using 1600MHz RAM voids the warranty.

If a game is CPU limited then overclocking will improve gaming performance.
I think the Shinobi can take coolers up to 161mm.
Cogage True Spirit £26

Zalman CNPS10x Quiet £33

Popular budget option:
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo £23
I don't like it because it has a maximum fan speed of 2000RPM, which will be noisy if it gets that high.

Last time I applied thermal paste I just put a little blob in the middle of the CPU's heatspreader and put the cooler on top of it. But you can smooth it out if you want, I don't think it really matters.
Arctic Cooling is known for having some of its thermal paste pre-applied to some of their coolers, such as the Freezer 13 Pro.

The only cables you will need (apart from power cables which come with the PSU) are SATA cables for HDDs and ODDs. Most high end 1155 Z68 motherboards come with four SATA cables.

I don't know the monitor market well at all, unfortunately, so I can't make a recommendation on that.