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Hardware  » Help me build a gaming pc for around $1,200

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  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  9/29/12 1:45:02 PM#1

I've got $1,200 and I want to build a gaming computer.  If that amount isn't enough for the outline I've written below I can easily wait a couple of weeks and add several hundred dollars to the budget.

 

What I'm looking to use the computer for is primarily mmo's.  I want to be able to turn graphics to full on most things I play in the next several years.  (I know it wont be possible on everything.)  GW2 I want to be able to turn to full graphics for certain.  I may also play some more graphicly intensive single player games in the future (Elder Scrolls, etc) and I'd like to have graphics on those things set to max if possible.

 

If anyone can help me put together a parts list in this budget I'd greatly appreciate it.  Here's the basic outline of what I'm shopping for:


-----Power Supply
-----Solid State Drive (240gb minimum)
-----2TB Internal Hard Drive
-----Motherboard (Must have at least 4 RAM slots)
-----CPU (Preferably Quad Core)
-----8GB RAM
-----Graphics Card (Second number must be a 9 or at least an 8, third number preferably a 7+)
-----Fans / Heatsink
-----DVD Reader/Writer

-----Case (With minimum of 2 expansion bays, partial transparency so I can rig LEDs inside)

 

As for peripherals all I need right now is a surge protector, and that can be tacked on top of the $1,200.

Also while I'm at it, I do plan on buying a monitor in the next few weeks.  I don't really understand the differences between monitors.  Will I be okay buying one of the $300 27" monitors listed at http://www.squidoo.com/gaming-monitors?

 

Thanks!

  Ridelynn

Elite Member

Joined: 12/19/10
Posts: 3339

9/29/12 2:07:09 PM#2

To answer some of your questions:

650W would be enough for a nice GPU (basically any save the dual-GPU models), any CPU, and probably upwards 10 HD's (SSDs are less than 5W each, standard HD's less than 20W peak and closer to 10W average - with most drives coming in well below these numbers, but going heavy on it makes for good thumbrules when sizing up a power supply).

Most CPU/Heatsinks will come with a small bit of rather generic thermal paste. The difference between the generic stuff, and the premium stuff (something like Arctic Silver), and toothpaste is basically 1-2F total. You don't need the premium stuff unless you looking to do some on-the-edge extreme overclocking where every degree counts.

Most CPU's do not come with a heatsink (OEM or Bulk), or if they do (retail box) come with a rather poor one. I would plan on going ahead and buying a new one. You don't need anything fancy really - a ~$30 decent heat pipe air cooler will perform well on up to moderate overclocks.

I have never had any problems installing Windows 7 based on the amount of RAM installed. RAM is usually dual channel (and depending on the motherboard, occasionally 3 or 4 channel) - you always want your memory to be in multiples of this, meaning that is also how many slots you'd need to keep free for future upgrades, if that's what your considering. RAM is so cheap today, and so underutilized in a typical computer, that there really isn't much reason to not go ahead and fill your sockets.

For factory overclocked video cards - for the overclock, generally, no it isn't worth it. Factory overclocks are typically pretty mild. For the most part that is something you can do yourself with a software utility for free. However, there are a couple of other reasons to consider one. The first is that factory OC'ed cards usually come with better slot coolers, and often beefier power circuitry. They also typically get cherry-picked GPU dies which lend themselves better to OCing, and can often be OCed even further than the factory clock rates. In general, if it's the same price, or you require the specific cooler that comes with the card, then go ahead. But in general I advise against spending extra money on a factory overclock.

Most motherboards have built-in sound cards, and most have digital output (often TOSLINK). If you are an audiophile, and your 1kW sound system is very accurate, you may want to get a discrete card just for better sound quality. Onboard sound is usually pretty decent for video games, but if your trying to listen to uncompressed audio or something high fidelity it's something you can notice a difference with. Good advice for this is try the onboard sound, since it's there anyway, and if you want something better, you can add in a discrete card later without much trouble.

Most quality cases will come with fans pre-installed in the correct locations. For the most part, you just need a modest (80mm or better) inlet in the front, and another in the rear, and that provides adequate cooling for most builds. The more the merrier though - it basically comes up to your tolerance for noise, and maybe some other factors (video card selection has a big impact on this).

Video capture - plan on using an additional device, either your PCI card or something similar. This isn't a very common option.

Motherboards typically have one ethernet port, many have two.

All in all shouldn't be too hard to do on $1,200. I'll leave that part up to people who like shopping.

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/01/12 12:14:53 PM#3

Thanks for the reply, you knocked out all of my questions pretty quick there.  I edited the OP to get rid of the questions and make it more simple to read.

 

I've been doing some researching and shopping around and so far the closest build I've been able to find for my budget comes from http://www.mmorpg.com/discussion2.cfm/thread/363510/Need-help-building-a-gaming-desktop-.html

That thread is a month old though, some of the links have died, and I know hardware advances fast enough that there are probably better options out there by now.  So again, if anyone would be kind enough to help me put together a more up-to-date parts list I would really appreciate it.

  Ridelynn

Elite Member

Joined: 12/19/10
Posts: 3339

10/01/12 3:28:45 PM#4

My normal take on monitors:

Don't believe any marketing hype or go off spec sheets. If at all possible go out and look at one (even if you just buy the same model online later). Almost all the "specs" are totally made up, because there is no standard for measureing a lot of that. Something as simple as Pixel Response time gets totally trashed into a meaningless number when it can be anywhere form 2ms to 15ms depending on what color you start with and how you measure it (This post goes into excruciating detail about something that seems so simple a concept: http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/monitors/display/response.html - although the actual monitors they measure are no longer relevant).

Every eye is different, and what looks good to one person may be totally unacceptable to another. Each monitor type, style, and technology all have different strengths and weaknesses - some have faster response, some have better viewing angles, some have richer colors, some have better contrast - but no single one is superior in every aspect. What looks good to you is what is ultimately the only important factor, and the only way you are going to know that is to go down and look at them. Or at the very least, you can get an impression about what the different technology types bring to the table and what you tend to prefer.

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/01/12 6:26:09 PM#5

Thanks for the info about monitors.  I'll probably go check out what they've got in places like Best Buy here pretty soon and see what I like.

 

Using that other thread and a bit of shopping I've put together a partial list:

 

-----Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182263


-----Solid State Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233268


-----2TB Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136891


-----8GB RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231416


-----Fans / Heatsink
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065


-----DVD Reader/Writer
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151244

 

All I'm missing now (I think) is these four items:

-----Motherboard
-----CPU
-----Graphics Card
-----Case

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/01/12 6:59:46 PM#6
Originally posted by InfusedEMP

Thanks for the info about monitors.  I'll probably go check out what they've got in places like Best Buy here pretty soon and see what I like.

 

Using that other thread and a bit of shopping I've put together a partial list:

 

-----Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182263


-----Solid State Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233268


-----2TB Internal Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136891


-----8GB RAM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231416


-----Fans / Heatsink
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065


-----DVD Reader/Writer
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151244

 

All I'm missing now (I think) is these four items:

-----Motherboard
-----CPU
-----Graphics Card
-----Case

You can save a few dollars by getting a different optical drive:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289

Shipping costs are real costs, too, and promo codes are nice.

The 750 W version of that power supply is actually cheaper than the 650 W version:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182264

You don't need the extra 100 W, but it won't hurt, and saving $10 is nice.

On your budget, you presumably want a Core i5-3570K.  If you don't have unusual motherboard needs and aren't planning on seeing if you can overclock the processor far enough to fry it (as opposed to a more moderate overclock), then you don't need to buy an unduly expensive motherboard.  So here, have a combo deal:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1071265

I haven't added up the price tag to see how much space you have for a video card, but you're probably looking at somewhere around Radeon HD 7870 or GeForce GTX 660 territory.  For the former, this is a nice deal:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161404

For the latter, the best route is to grab one in a combo deal with the power supply:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1076709

For a case, this is on shell shocker special right now:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129088

$75 before a $30 rebate.  If you miss the sale, it's far less tempting at $100 or whatever.

If you miss that, then I'd try this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811139011

Or better yet, in a combo deal with different memory, instead of the memory that you linked:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1075621

Same specs and a good brand, so it's equivalent memory.

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/01/12 8:07:10 PM#7

Thanks a lot for the info and links, that was a big help!

Here's what I've got so far.  After doing more research or hearing any suggestions I may change some things.

 

-----Motherboard / CPU - $329.98
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1071265


-----Graphics Card - $219.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161404


-----Case - $74.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129088

 

-----750W Power Supply - $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182264


-----240GB Solid State Drive - $174.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820233268


-----2TB Internal Hard Drive - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136891


-----8GB RAM - $39.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231416


-----Heatsink - $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103065


-----DVD Reader/Writer - $17.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827106289

 

Before tax and shipping that's coming out to $1,097.90

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/01/12 8:11:45 PM#8

You should be aware that the case is a very short term sale.  As in, hours, not days.  So if that's the case you want, you need to grab it before the sale ends.

You'll also need an OS license.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116986

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/01/12 8:40:50 PM#9

Ouch, yeah that wont do then, I need to get the money into the bank so I can spend it online and that won't be happening within a few hours.  I'll have to keep searching for a case.

I've got a windows xp oem disc and a windows 7 upgrade disc so I'm good to go on the OS.

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/04/12 12:59:53 AM#10

I've been doing some research and it turns out that graphics card is extremely large, 11.69" long.  I've discovered that a lot of cases can't hold a card that big.  I'm considering this case:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021

From the dimensions it looks like it should hold the card but I have no way of really knowing.  I've read that some people have had to bend or cut drive bays out of the way to accomidate the card.  It's a long shot to ask, but does anyone happen to know if that card will fit in this case without the bays getting in the way?

 

I'm also going to buy a bay i/o panel.  I can't seem to find any decent ones on newegg, but I found this one that has everything I want on it on another website:

https://www.frozencpu.com/products/14351/bus-293/Akasa_InterConnect_Pro_USB_30_Panel_w_Card_Reader_and_eSATA_-_Version_2_AK-HC-05BKV2.html?tl=g34

I don't know that I trust that brand, but it's a nice looking panel, much nicer looking than anything newegg has to offer.  Does anyone know where I could find a similar bay i/o panel of a trustworthy brand?  Or is that brand trustworthy?

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/04/12 11:05:18 AM#11
The price on the video card I linked has also gone way up since I linked it.  How about if you wait until you have the money and are ready to buy parts before picking the exact parts?  Otherwise, prices will change again.
  benit59

Advanced Member

Joined: 9/24/04
Posts: 109

"If it ain't broke...hit it harder."

10/04/12 12:25:34 PM#12

All of the monitors you listed in the OP look fine.

 

Core-i5 3570k is the best value for power users.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116504

 

I lean towards the nVidia 6-series cards - 660 or 670 is you have room left in the budget.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130810

 

Do not get that WD Green drive. You should get a 1 or 2 TB WD Black, especially if you ever decide that you want to add a second one and build an array. Or...you can skip the SSD and seperate drive altogether and get...

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136555 

 

The Antec Nine-Hundred is a good solid gaming case.

 

Memory. Cas latency can be a confusing topic for people. Just know that lower is better and faster memory with higher latency is a waste of time.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226199

 

System board vendor is a matter of preference. Just make sure you get a Z77 chipset and the rest of the features that you want. Don't pay more for a board just because it looks cool or because it says "For Gamers" or some BS. The ASROCK Z77 Pro 4 has a decent price and the features that you need.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157296

 

Get a Blu-ray player. Blu-ray movies on one of those 27" monitors you are looking at = phenomenal.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136246

 

Power Supply...not sure why everyone goes overkill on wattage. You could technically run the above rig on a 450 watt high efficiency psu with no issues.

 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027

 

  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/04/12 1:01:08 PM#13
Originally posted by benit59

I lean towards the nVidia 6-series cards - 660 or 670 is you have room left in the budget.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130810

 ...

Do not get that WD Green drive. You should get a 1 or 2 TB WD Black, especially if you ever decide that you want to add a second one and build an array. Or...you can skip the SSD and seperate drive altogether and get...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136555 

...

Memory. Cas latency can be a confusing topic for people. Just know that lower is better and faster memory with higher latency is a waste of time.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226199

...

System board vendor is a matter of preference. Just make sure you get a Z77 chipset and the rest of the features that you want. Don't pay more for a board just because it looks cool or because it says "For Gamers" or some BS. The ASROCK Z77 Pro 4 has a decent price and the features that you need.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157296

 ...

Get a Blu-ray player. Blu-ray movies on one of those 27" monitors you are looking at = phenomenal.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136246

 ...

Power Supply...not sure why everyone goes overkill on wattage. You could technically run the above rig on a 450 watt high efficiency psu with no issues.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139027

1)  You mention the GeForce GTX 660 and GTX 670, and then link a card that is neither.  The GTX 660 and 670 are decent values for the money, but the GTX 660 Ti is not.  A Radeon HD 7950 is better for about the same price.  Alternatively, a Radeon HD 7970 and GeForce GTX 660 are a lot cheaper than a GTX 660 Ti, but not much slower.

2)  The idea of getting an SSD is that you put everything where speed particularly matters on the SSD.  You only put stuff on the hard drive where it doesn't matter that the hard drive is slow.  So the extra speed of a WD Caviar Black doesn't help you much.

And no, no, no.  Don't get a Velociraptor.  That would constitute paying more than an SSD would cost, for mere hard drive performance.  Sure, it's very fast for a hard drive.  But if you're looking to buy a car, then buying a tricycle instead isn't going to cut it, even if it's very fast for a tricycle.  And especially if it's more expensive than the car would have been.

3)  Memory latencies are in number of clock cycles.  Thus, 800 MHz with CAS 4 is the same latency as 1600 MHz with CAS 8 or 2400 MHz with CAS 12.  Regardless, CAS latency is only a small fraction of total memory access latency.  The performance difference beween the memory you link and a $40 kit that is 1600 MHz, CAS 9 would basically amount to a rounding error.

4)  AsRock's naming scheme is that "Pro" means low end and "Extreme" means mid-range to upper mid-range.  If you want a low end motherboard, then go ahead.  But you'd be better served by getting a motherboard a notch up in a combo deal with the processor, where the combo discount covers the difference in price so that you end up getting a better motherboard for the same price.

5)  Blu-Ray players are a pure waste of money for the overwhelming majority of computers.  If you're going to watch Blu-Ray movies on your computer (which is not the same as watching Blu-Ray movies on some other device, DVD movies on your computer, NetFlix on your computer, YouTube on your computer, or various other combinations), then sure, get a Blu-Ray player.  Otherwise, it's just paying $50 too much for a device that will be identical for your use to a simple $17 DVD burner.

6)  Corsair's CX V2 line is fine for a severe budget system.  It's the sort of power supply you might get on a $500 budget.  But it's not appropriate for a $1200 budget.  While the original poster surely doesn't need a 750 W power supply, the reason I linked that one is that, at the time, I didn't see any good deals on one of somewhat lower wattage.  Today, you could grab this:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817182262

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/05/12 1:52:27 AM#14
Originally posted by Quizzical
The price on the video card I linked has also gone way up since I linked it.  How about if you wait until you have the money and are ready to buy parts before picking the exact parts?  Otherwise, prices will change again.

Aww that's horrible.  Well, I can at least go ahead and order everything else and keep shopping for a video card, or shell out the extra cash to get that one.  I didn't think about the sale going off that quick, I was taking my time researching stuff.

  Ravnos80

Novice Member

Joined: 10/28/02
Posts: 47

10/05/12 2:03:23 AM#15

Here you go, if you haven't ordered anything yet you might take a look at this:

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/System-Builder-Marathon-August-2012-GTX-670-Kepler,3280.html

They've got 3 systems put together, a low priced one around 500$, a mid priced one at about 1000$ and a high end one for about 2000$. The 1000$ one is quite nice really and if you're wanting to spend 1200$ it'd still leave you within budget to get a UPS or nice surge protector. 

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/05/12 2:28:23 PM#16
I'm ordering the parts this evening when I get home from work.  Due to the sales going off on a couple things I'll be spending an extra $80 sadly, but it couldn't be helped due to my work schedule (14 hour days lately, not much time left for shopping and researching.)  If anyone has any last suggestions on changing up any of the listed parts I'd love to hear them before I hit the purchase button tonight.
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/05/12 2:41:25 PM#17

So you can see why I hate it when someone posts a link to "here's what some site came up with a few months ago".  You can see how much prices change in a few days; over the course of a few months, it's much, much worse.  Even if a build was a good deal when the site posted it (which often isn't the case), it's vanishingly unlikely that it will still be so a few months later.

If you'd like to bring the price back down:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820226237

Basically the same SSD as you linked above, but from Mushkin rather than Corsair.  It's the same SSD controller and firmware, and likely but not necessarily the same NAND flash.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151256

Different DVD burner that happens to have free shipping today.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814131466

Different Radeon HD 7870 that happens to be on sale today.  Personally, I'd undo the factory overclock, as I don't trust PowerColor to make a premium card.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.1080932

Combo deal with the same power supply and a different case.  The case isn't as nice as the one before, but it's still decent and it sure is cheaper.

  InfusedEMP

Apprentice Member

Joined: 10/23/11
Posts: 29

 
OP  10/05/12 2:58:29 PM#18
Thanks for the suggestions.  Is that PowerColor card basically the exact same thing as the HIS IceQ card but with an extra dvi port?  Would there be any noticable performance differences if they were compared?  There aren't many reviews on newegg for the PowerColor card, vs lots of reviews on the HIS IceQ card.
  Quizzical

Guide

Joined: 12/11/08
Posts: 13273

10/05/12 3:03:29 PM#19

It's the same bin of the same GPU chip.  The video memory is likely identical as well; at the very least, it's the same capacity at the same speed.  The PCB, heatsink, fan, VRMs, and various other components are likely to be different, which can affect power consumption, noise, and reliability, but not performance.

Based on previous reputation, I'd regard HIS as being a little more likely to produce a high quality card than PowerColor.  But only a little, and I wouldn't pay an extra $30 for the HIS card, as it's likely that you'd never notice the difference.  It's really just a case of, given a bunch of roughly equivalent products, you buy the one that happens to be on sale today.

When a card is relatively cheaper for a while, lots of people buy it, and then it gets lots of reviews because of that.  Other than EVGA fanboys, most people prefer to buy a relatively cheaper SKU of a card, unless they're paying a little more for what is clearly a premium SKU.

  Ravnos80

Novice Member

Joined: 10/28/02
Posts: 47

10/05/12 3:15:27 PM#20
Sorry, Quizzical, for posting a link to three viable bulks that are only just over a month old. They're good builds and I was working under the assumption that it's not difficult to comparison shop on new egg. Next time I will refrain from attempting to be helpful. ;P
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