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Building my first mid-range gaming PC


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#1 bobothesmart

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 09:45 PM

I'm using a 7 year-old Dell XPS computer that has been great for my needs, but recently I've been having a lot of problems editing video in Adobe Premiere and also a lot of lag with games like Civilization V. I've looked into upgrading what I have, but it looks like the motherboard is going to be a stumbling block to upgrading the video card, etc., so I'm seriously considering building my own. My gaming requirements aren't extensive (games like Civ V are my speed - I don't do any MMORPGs or anything of that sort), but I do some video and picture editing via Photoshop and Premiere. I'd also like to keep the price around or even below $600 if possible.
Since this is my first time, should I go with a barebones kit available from tigerdirect, amazon, etc., or is it a lot more economical to buy all parts separately? Also, any recommendations for configurations that might fit my needs and price? I'd appreciate it if anyone could point me in the right direction. Thanks!

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#2 bobothesmart

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 10:48 AM

Also, I don't need to worry about the OS in the price - I have Windows 7 in both 32 and 64, so won't need to buy a copy.

#3 DJBPace07

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:28 PM

Just to make sure, this is a full, boxed retail copy of Windows 7? That's a very tight budget you've got there, even without needing to buy Windows again. You may want to consider upping it by $100. Even so, you're going to need to make a compromise somewhere. Since you are gaming, even fairly low-end gaming, you want a reasonable GPU, but you are also editing video and photos, so you need a good CPU.

Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion - Since you won't be using a high-end graphics card, you don't need a larger case. $59

Motherboard: ASUS M5A97 AM3+ AMD 970 - This is a solid motherboard for what you are going to be doing. It isn't suggested if you are going to be running multiple graphics cards, but since you aren't, that makes it a good fit. $94

CPU: AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 3.3GHz - Here's where things start to get interesting with your budget. This is one of the newer Bulldozer CPU's that combine two independent cores into one "Module." These cores are semi-independent in that they are separate, but share certain cache and early pipeline stages. This design is a more refined version of Intel's HyperThreading technology as it replicates processing cores entirely, not just certain components. The design makes it great at highly threaded, highly parallel work. This is a six core, or three module, CPU, but AMD has an eight core, four module, CPU called the AMD FX-8120 Zambezi 3.1GHz. Note, the cooler with these CPU's is adequate, but could be better. If you want a better cooler, I suggest the XIGMATEK Gaia SD1283 120mm, it's quiet and efficient but look up how to apply thermal compound to an HDT cooler before installing for maximum effect. $149

Power Supply: CORSAIR Builder Series CX500 V2 500W - More than enough for what you're doing. $59

GPU: HIS H777F1G2M Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition 1GB - For Civilization V, this offers decent performance so long as you don't crank up the settings too high. The HIS H785F2G2M Radeon HD 7850 2GB offers better performance, but expect to pay for it. $129

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB - If you don't want to reuse an old one, this is good. If you are going to reuse, but want something much faster, the Mushkin Enhanced Chronos MKNSSDCR120GB is a great choice to store your OS and a few games on. $104

RAM: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 - Given that you are going to be doing photo and video editing, you will need plenty of RAM. This is a single 8GB stick of DDR3-1600 RAM. You can get up to four of these. $69

ODD: Sony Optiarc 24X DVD Burner, Bulk Package Black SATA Model AD-7280S-0B - You may be able to reuse your old one, otherwise, here you go. $17

Grand Total: $688 (Before taxes, rebates, shipping, or any other optional/higher end equipment)

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#4 bobothesmart

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 07:49 PM

Thanks for the suggestion! I'm looking into this right now.

Out of curiosity, why AMD instead of intel? Is it just cheaper to do it that way? (I'm not anti-AMD, just curious)

#5 killerx525

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:14 AM

One of the reason i see for the choice of AMD is because of the price of the cpu and their value. If it was a Intel, the gpu would have been low-end.

>Michael 
System1: CPU- Intel Core i7-5820K @ 4.4GHz, CPU Cooler- Noctua NH-D14, RAM- G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB Kit(4Gx4) DDR3 2133MHz, SSD/HDD- Samsung 850 EVO 250GB/Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB/Seagate Barracuada 3TB, GPU- 2x EVGA GTX980 Superclocked @1360/MHz1900MHz, Motherboard- Asus X99 Deluxe, Case- Custom Mac G5, PSU- EVGA P2-1000W, Soundcard- Realtek High Definition Audio, OS- Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Games: APB: Reloaded, Hours played: 3100+  System2: Late 2011 Macbook Pro 15inch   OFw63FY.png


#6 DJBPace07

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 05:08 PM

Given your budget and use case, AMD was a better fit over Intel. When it comes to much higher-end builds, I would say Intel but for almost anything in the sub $1000 market, AMD is a good option. Remember, with games, the GPU is often working harder than the CPU, but there are exceptions.

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#7 diggi

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:54 AM

This report from Tom's Hardware debunks what DJB Pace and Killer have been saying about AMD gaming rigs providing superior value

"AMD’s FX-4100 isn't necessarily the disappointment it appeared to be in our sub-$200 gaming processor comparison if you match it up to a comparably entry-level graphics card..............
The good news is that AMD fans can still enjoy games on a capable machine without spending a ton of cash. With that established, though, getting in the door with an LGA 1155-based platform costs about the same and yields a more consistently-good experience.
We've seen enthusiasts throw blame all over the place: review sites aren't picking the right benchmarks, developers aren't spending enough time optimizing for AMD's architecture, and Intel is squelching innovation.
But it comes down to this: when a new game you’ve been waiting for gets installed on your machine, finger-pointing won't help you enjoy it any more if it behaves like Metro 2033,
demonstrating between 27% and 33% higher minimum frame rates on the Core i3-2100.

Even a $200 FX-8120 won’t solve your problem; our tests show that chip acts just like the FX-4100 in gaming environments.

Today, Intel's LGA 1155 platform remains the best bet for a gaming rig. And not only for its budget-oriented performance, which is great, but also for its potential. Start with a cheap Core i3 and an inexpensive discrete GPU.

Then, upgrade later to an Ivy Bridge-based chip and a faster graphics card without imposing any sort of bottleneck.
SLI and CrossFire are both viable with a fast-enough CPU (even splitting PCI Express connectivity between two x8 slots), and the $180 Core i5-2400 is a gaming beast that AMD's overclocked processors cannot touch.

AMD simply cannot counter those advantages right now. We must look to the Piledriver architecture and hope that our current assessment can be reevaluated later this year."

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fx-4100-core-i3-2100-gaming-benchmark,3136-9.html

I'd recommend this CPU: $100, i3 2100 http://www.microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?product_id=0359809 --As stated in article better than an FX 8120 for gaming
Motherboard: $122 ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157271 --Won Customer Choice Awards (March 2012) at Newegg.com, Dual PCI 3.0 slots, Also Ivy bridge compatible for future CPU upgrades

GPU: $170, EVGA SuperClocked GTX 560 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130664 Will outperform HD 7770 in CIV V

The total the price comes up to approx $400

This combo should outperform The AMD setup, especially in CIV V which is heavy on tessellation, the fact is, equivalent AMD GPU's are not as good as their NVIDIA counterparts wrt tessellation, just google CIV V gpu(GTX 560) benchmarks and compare to the HD 7770 you'll see what I mean.

#8 DJBPace07

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:01 AM

According to this: AMD FX 8150 - 8120 - 6100 and 4100 performance review

The FX series goes from about 80 to 90 FPS in Far Cry 2, in Crysis 2 it hovers in the low 50's.

According to Anandtech here, they are fairly similar when it comes to Civ V.

If your computer can get to 60 fps, it is a little pointless to push it much past that point as most monitors have refresh rates at 60 Hz. Turning off VSync will get you past this, but you'll have screen tearing. Games are also more dependent on the GPU. In Civ 5, in regards to the GPU, at Anandtech, the 7770 seems to match the GTX 560. TechPowerUp indicates they are within 10 FPS of each other.

AMD, Intel, or Nvidia will all offer a good gameplay experience.

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#9 bobothesmart

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:32 AM

Diggi, Thanks for your input with an intel setup. Could you recommend RAM, case, cooling, and HDD to go with your proposed build?

DLBPace, I like the setup you recommended, but does it allow for much in the way of upgrading in the next few years?

#10 coxchris

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:16 AM

just to add my few cents

http://speccy.piriform.com/results/h4TPLdh0EgJLRKrWnhC3q1m

I have a AMD gaming system and it rocks AMD FX6100 with stock cooler I run on Air cooling and WOW fps runs 60 everywhere but goes down to 30-45fps while IN heavy raid AOE graphics

Skyrim is on Ulra no tearing only smooth

My case is CoolMaster HAF 922 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119197

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#11 DJBPace07

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 03:23 PM

OP: Yes, the AM3+ socket is going to be around for a while and AMD is developing for it. The only possible issue would be with the motherboard as it is designed largely for users with a single graphics card. If you think you will be doing multiple cards, the higher end AMD 990FX-based boards, like the ASUS Sabertooth 990FX, would be the way to go. For value sake, it is best to get the best single graphics card you can afford, preferably a high-end one, before moving onto multiple GPU's.

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#12 bobothesmart

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 06:38 PM

OK, I've come up with two builds. One intel and one AMD. I'd appreciate your thoughts on these builds. (All links are for Amazon just because it made it easier for me to organize the builds.):

CPU: Intel Core i3-2120 Processor 3.3 GHz 3MB Cache Socket LGA1155
Mobo: ASRock LGA1155/ Intel P67/ DDR3/ Quad CrossFireX/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard, P67 PRO3 SE
GPU: HIS Radeon HD 6850 1 GB (256 bit) GDDR5 Eyefinity DisplayPort HDMI 2x DVI (HDCP) PCI Express X16 2.1 Video Card - H685FN1GD
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200 500 GB SATA 6.0 Gb-s 16 MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST500DM002
Optical: LG Electronics 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive GH22NS90B (Black) - Bulk without Software
Power Supply: SilverStone Strider 500W, 80 PLUS, Active PFC Power Supply ST50F-ES (Black)
Case: Cooler Master RC-692-KKN2 No Power Supply ATX Mid Tower Case (Black)
RAM: Any suggestions on what to get in 8GB?

This configuration is $633 before the RAM - higher than I want, but I might be able to make it work. What are your thoughts on this? It is important that it leave s a little room for upgrading in the future. (If I upgrade the GPU, I'd just get a better one instead of doing the SLI route).

I'll put up the AMD build in a minute.

#13 bobothesmart

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:08 PM

The AMD build (based on DJBPace07's recommendation):

CPU: AMD FX-6100 Zambezi 3.3GHz Socket AM3+ 95W Six-Core Desktop Processor FD6100WMGUSBX
Mobo: Asus Socket AM3+/ AMD 970/ Quad CrossFireX/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&GbE/ ATX Motherboard (M5A97)
GPU: HIS Radeon HD 6850 1 GB (256 bit) GDDR5 Eyefinity DisplayPort HDMI 2x DVI (HDCP) PCI Express X16 2.1 Video Card - H685FN1GD
HDD: Seagate Barracuda 7200 500 GB SATA 6.0 Gb-s 16 MB Cache 3.5-Inch Internal Bare Drive ST500DM002
Optical: LG Electronics 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive GH22NS90B (Black) - Bulk without Software
Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series CX V2 500-Watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply Compatible with Intel and AMD Platforms - CMPSU-500CXV2
Case: Antec Three Hundred ATX Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case
RAM: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model PG38G1600EL

This build is $670.

#14 diggi

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 07:53 PM

Diggi, Thanks for your input with an intel setup. Could you recommend RAM, case, cooling, and HDD to go with your proposed build?

DLBPace, I like the setup you recommended, but does it allow for much in the way of upgrading in the next few years?

Here is an alternative RAM option

Mushkin Enhanced Redline 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $70
USing 2 sticks'll allow you to run your system in dual channel configuration as opposed to single channel which you would with just a single stick installed.

This site should help you with your build PC Part Picker, by finding lowest prices online and lets you save your configuration too

#15 bobothesmart

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 09:17 PM

THANK YOU for the PC Part Picker Website. This has made things a lot easier. I really think I might go with the intel i5.

How does this build look:

Part list permalink / Part price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Core i5-2400 3.1GHz Quad-Core Processor ($149.99 @ Microcenter)
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master RR-H101-22FK-RI 30.0 CFM Sleeve Bearing CPU Cooler ($14.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 ATX LGA1155 Motherboard ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Patriot Gamer 2 Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1333 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($74.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Gigabyte GeForce GTX 550 Ti 1GB Video Card ($99.99 @ Microcenter)
Case: Cooler Master Elite 430 ATX Mid Tower Case ($39.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Corsair 500W ATX12V Power Supply ($49.99 @ Microcenter)
Optical Drive: Sony AD-7280S-0B DVD/CD Writer ($17.99 @ Amazon)
Total: $592.91
(Prices include shipping and discounts when available.)
(Generated 2012-04-24 22:16 EDT-0400)




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