Very budget gaming setup, need lots of help

Augster

Weaksauce
Joined
Feb 21, 2004
Messages
121
Hello,

EDITED.....

I'm building my son a budget gaming PC in order to play SWTOR and maybe some newer games. I would like to purchase an i5, as from what Danny has said below the $70 is worth the upgrade in performance over an i3. I have bought some stuff and I will list it. I think I need a GPU, RAM, MOBO and the i5 CPU. At this point, everything I have bought can be used on a future setup. Will it be better to wait for Haswell?

Anyway, I'll update the questions.

1) What will you be doing with this PC? Gaming? Photoshop? Web browsing? etc

Gaming, browsing. SWTOR but hopefully some future games as he gets into his teens.

2) What's your budget? Are tax and shipping included?

I'm going to try for $350 including tax and ship. I don't know if it's possible. Max $400.

3) Which country do you live in? If the U.S, please tell us the state and city if possible.

Minneapolis, MN. I can get to MicroCenter in 15 minutes. I also can order online anywhere.

4) What exact parts do you need for that budget? CPU, RAM, case, etc. The word "Everything" is not a valid answer. Please list out all the parts you'll need.

CPU, RAM, GPU, MOBO,

5) If reusing any parts, what parts will you be reusing? Please be especially specific about the power supply. List make and model.

I have the Corsair 430CX PSU. I have on the way an NZXT Elite 210 case, Sata DVD drive, Seagate ST1000DM003 HD.

6) Will you be overclocking?

If the chip OC's easily and stably. I won't be pushing boundaries.

7) What is the max resolution of your monitor? What size is it?

Monitor will be on a separate budget. What monitor is suggested for under $150, preferably around $100, for this budget gamer?

8) When do you plan on building/buying the PC?

Buying parts next week or the week after at the latest. Unless it is better to wait.

9) What features do you need in a motherboard? RAID? Firewire? Crossfire or SLI support? USB 3.0? SATA 6Gb/s? eSATA? Onboard video (as a backup or main GPU)? UEFI? etc.

Whatever is suggested. SATA 6Gb/s and USB 3.0 would be nice. Onboard audio for sure.

10) Do you already have a legit and reusable/transferable OS key/license? If yes, what OS? Is it 32bit or 64bit?

I have 64-bit Windows 7 home premium on the way.

As I said above, the monitor is on a separate budget and I know close to nothing about gaming monitors. I don't even know what would be "good" in the $100 to $200 range or higher or lower. So suggestions there are a must.

I have expanded my budget a bit since the first time I posted this a month ago and have bought items that are re-usable for low prices. I see there is a 7770HD for $100 after MIR at MicroCenter right now.

Thanks for any help with this and thanks very much for your time.
 
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At that price it might be best to browse Dell's outlet, but it can be done especially for $500.

What case might you be reusing?

Mobo 35.00
CPU 120.00
Ram 33.00
GPU 69.00 (20 mir so 50 for a great little card)
PSU 40.00
HDD 78.00
Win 7 Home 64 bit 92.00

So for a total of 468 you get a nice little system. Keep in mind this is without a case and monitor. For a monitor this might be a good start for him.

Danny Bui can probably come up with better so see what he says.
 

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Wow Climber, thanks very much! It really seems doable at that price.

The case I may re-use is the Apeiva X-Dreamer2 I bought in 2003.

I think I got this PSU this week, but the 600W is actually $3 less after rebate now. I think I may have to return the PSU and get the other one. I am willing to get a different PSU also as I have the receipt and I'm not married to it.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/365237/TR2_Series_500_Watt_ATX_Power_Supply

What is suggested if I want to put an SSD in there? I love the boot times on SSD's. Also, should I be getting Win7 or Win8? I saw on the Win7 link that Win8 is only $5 more or so.

Thanks for the ideas and list.
 
The case I may re-use is the Apeiva X-Dreamer2 I bought in 2003.
I have that very case so I know how good it is: Unless you've cut out all the grills and only use 120mm fans rather than the stock 80mm fans, that case without both of those items isn't that good of a choice. The metal grills plus 80mm fans just makes for a poor cooling solution. So do you already have a bunch of leftover 120mm fans and have tools that can cut out the grills i.e dremel, holesaw, or even metal snips?
I think I got this PSU this week, but the 600W is actually $3 less after rebate now. I think I may have to return the PSU and get the other one. I am willing to get a different PSU also as I have the receipt and I'm not married to it.

http://www.microcenter.com/product/365237/TR2_Series_500_Watt_ATX_Power_Supply
Go back and return that PSU. It's pretty shitty. In fact, don't get any Thermaltake TR2 series PSU: They're never good.
What is suggested if I want to put an SSD in there? I love the boot times on SSD's.
You'll have to increase your budget by another $110 or so if you really want that SSD and that 1TB hard drive.
Also, should I be getting Win7 or Win8? I saw on the Win7 link that Win8 is only $5 more or so.
Flip a coin.
 
Okay Danny. What do you suggest then? Does Climber have a good build then?

Since I'm going to have to go to MC to return the tr2 PSU, what should I be thinking about getting there?

When I built my i7 a year ago I used the suggested NZXT case and thought I'd need more fans. So I have a couple 120's and I could tear up the case if need be. I'd prefer not to, but then I'd need to add in a case. Also an optical drive I forgot.

Lastly, would a 120 ssd instead of the 1TB HD work or isn't that enough room for modern games?

Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'm always learning.
 
Okay Danny. What do you suggest then? Does Climber have a good build then?
Climber's build can be improved. As such, I wouldn't recommend buying anything just yet. Before I make any suggestions I need to know what you want to do with the case.

When I built my i7 a year ago I used the suggested NZXT case and thought I'd need more fans. So I have a couple 120's and I could tear up the case if need be. I'd prefer not to, but then I'd need to add in a case.
So will you be cutting away the front and rear fan grills on that Apevia case or not? And do you have the tools needed to cut away those grills? Yes this is a situation where you need to modify the case.

It should look something like this (my Apevia X-Dreamer II case):
IMG_8599.jpg

IMG_6285.jpg


By doing the above modifications and adding 120mm fans, you're saving $40 to $50 of the price of a new case.
Lastly, would a 120 ssd instead of the 1TB HD work or isn't that enough room for modern games?
120GB would be enough if you're only planning on like 2-5 games give or take. Also, you would have to make sure that your son doesn't download a lot of things and is dilligent about keeping his files organized and allocated correctly.

EDIT: However, due to your tight budget, I would not recommend getting a SSD unless you can spring the extra $35 to 40 for the SSD alone. The cheapest SSDs we recommend around here costs ~$110 minimum.
 
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Yes, I can do those mods if you feel it'll be needed for airflow and save the price of a case.

So no SSD. That's cool. I'm sure Win7/8 boots faster than xp anyway.

Thanks!
 
Yes those mods are absolutely needed. If you do those mods, then I recommend the following setup:
$165 - Core i3 3225 CPU + MSI Z77A-G41 Intel Z77 ATX Motherboard Microcenter combo
$24 - Crucial BLS4G3D1339DS1S00 4GB DDR3 1333 RAM
$90 - HIS H775F1GD Radeon HD 7750 1GB PCI-E Video Card
$78 - Seagate Barracuda ST1000DM003 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s Hard Drive
$18 - LG iHAS124-04 DVD Burner
$45 - Corsair 430CX V2 430W PSU
$91 - Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit OEM
----
Total: $511 shipped plus tax on the CPU and mobo.

Yes the above does cost more than Climber's build but it has three key improvements:
1) Includes a DVD burner which you neglected to mention in your answer to question 4
2) Significantly faster video card
3) A tad better quality PSU that has a longer warranty.
 

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The build above is very good although I would increase the budget to get a 7770.
 
Then you might as well increase it to get a 660ti and then toss in an ssd and so on and so forth. He is already a $100 over what he originally wanted to spend. Danny's build is solid for what the budget is
 
Then you might as well increase it to get a 660ti and then toss in an ssd and so on and so forth. He is already a $100 over what he originally wanted to spend. Danny's build is solid for what the budget is

This.

You have to draw a line somewhere, his max budget was $500. Danny tossed in a optical drive, even though he doesn't say he needs one so if he really doesn't then you can subtract $18 from the total putting it back under his max budget.
 
The 7750 will be just fine. Remember that the user is an 11-year old kid who won't notice the difference between a 7750 and a 7770. And we don't know at what resolution he will play SWTOR.

To the OP : for the monitor, you could try to find a used one in the local ads or craigslist. I don't live in your state but for an example I have a local mom-and-pop computer store that sells a used 17" non-CRT monitor for 50$. That would be OK to begin with. Try to convince your son to open a savings account so that he can put aside a certain amount and buy with him for his birthday a new 20"-23" next year. Just my 0.02$.
 
And I'm back at it. Sorry for the delay and being away.

It seems I won't be able to build this "right now". I think I'll be able to build it slowly over the next month. With that being said, should I be looking at just these parts at the current prices, or should I be looking for something "better" to go on sale?

For example, is that PSU going to be good now, and later, for a very similar needs and build? I can get it today for $26 after rebate. At that price, just buying it and holding may be a good idea if I'm not going to need more wattage. Also, for example, the 7770. Is there that big a difference that I should keep my eye out for that card instead of the 7750? Or the 7800 series?

Lastly, if I can pick up an NZXT case, the 210 for $30 shipped, is that good for this build and possibly other builds? That is the case I have my i7 in and I don't have any complaints. I guess what I'm asking is, is the NZXT210 "future proof" as far as cases go? I could pick it up while it is cheap and not have to worry about modding my older case etc. I know it'll add $30 to my build, but I think it'll give me a case to use, or my son to use, for any future builds. So it's $30 now, but paying nothing later for a future build. Unless the form factor is about to change?

Are there any other parts of that build that I could buy and hold? i.e. won't be undercut by new tech/WAY better prices, in the next month or so?

Thanks very much!
 
For example, is that PSU going to be good now, and later, for a very similar needs and build? I can get it today for $26 after rebate. At that price, just buying it and holding may be a good idea if I'm not going to need more wattage.
I don't factor in MIR. However at its current pricing $46, yes it will be a good value for a similar build.
Also, for example, the 7770. Is there that big a difference that I should keep my eye out for that card instead of the 7750? Or the 7800 series?
I wouldn't go for the HD 7800 series unless you've paired it with a Core i5. Yes there's a decent performance difference between HD 7750 and HD 7770. So if you see the HD 7770 for $110 or less, go for it if it's in budget.
Lastly, if I can pick up an NZXT case, the 210 for $30 shipped, is that good for this build and possibly other builds? That is the case I have my i7 in and I don't have any complaints. I guess what I'm asking is, is the NZXT210 "future proof" as far as cases go? I could pick it up while it is cheap and not have to worry about modding my older case etc. I know it'll add $30 to my build, but I think it'll give me a case to use, or my son to use, for any future builds. So it's $30 now, but paying nothing later for a future build. Unless the form factor is about to change?
The regular NZXT 210 isn't a good choice considering that it doesn't have a second fan or front-panel USB 3.0. So make sure you get the NZXT Source 210 Elite. That case will be "future proof". However it may not be a good buy if the Corsair 200R drops down to the $45 to $50 shipped price point on Amazon.
Are there any other parts of that build that I could buy and hold? i.e. won't be undercut by new tech/WAY better prices, in the next month or so?
Maybe the hard drive and DVD burner. Really can't vouch for the rest of parts of the PC.
 
Thanks Danny!

You are right, it is the Elite that I got for my build last year. I'm going to have to go through my receipts and make a signature or something so that I don't keep forgetting what the heck I have. I'll look at those Corsair cases also.

How far in price would the i5 have to fall to make a significant gaming price/performance difference over the i3? The i3 and mobo are $165 in the build. If MC goes crazy and offers the i5/mobo combo for say, $200 or less, would that extra $35 be worth it gaming and future gaming-wise? I never can guess what will come in the email from MicroCenter each week. :)
 
How far in price would the i5 have to fall to make a significant gaming price/performance difference over the i3? The i3 and mobo are $165 in the build. If MC goes crazy and offers the i5/mobo combo for say, $200 or less, would that extra $35 be worth it gaming and future gaming-wise?
Yes. In fact, It's already worth the extra $70 for the Core i5 3570K + that MSI mobo as it stands now.
 
Okay I'm getting back to this now....

I've updated the first post. I've bought the 430CX PSU, I have a 210Elite on the way, a SATA DVD drive and I've ordered a copy of home premium 64. I also bought the suggested Seagate 1TB HD.

You've convinced me on the i5-3570. Unless it is better to wait for Haswell to come out this summer. I'd like to get this done now if the price/performance of Haswell isn't going to destroy the current iteration of the i5.

Basically I need the CPU (i5), GPU, RAM and MOBO for hopefully less than $350 but I could stretch to $400. With all that being said, I suppose I could have just started with a budget of $650 for a gaming build.

Thanks for the help and sorry for dragging this thread out. :)
 
Check to see if the MSI mobo I recommended last month is still available at your local Microcenter. RAM wise, I recommend this RAM:
$45 - Corsair CMV8GX3M1A1333C9 8GB DDR3 1333 RAM

As for the video card, flip a coin.
 

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Yes, 30-40% performance upgrade. Change is it takes a PCIe 6 pin plug, while the 7750 uses motherboard power.
I believe the 7770 games about the same as a 6850 if that helps.
 
I saw a $30 MIR for a 7770HD to bring it to $90 after MIR. Does it matter which 7770 I buy? i.e. which company? In other words, are all 7770's the same?

The new RAM recommendation is because of the i5, instead of the i3?

I'm holding out until tomorrow to see if MC sends an email with any crazy deals then I'll head over there this weekend I am hoping. I may still pick up the RAM and GPU online, but if it's close and I can get the exact items at MC, I'd rather get started on the build this weekend instead of two weeks from now as I'll be out of town for a week for work.

Does MC do price matching for RAM, GPU etc.? Do they offer "more deals" than the $40 off CPU/MOBO combo if you pick up GPU/RAM at the same time? Anyone do that? I suppose I'll ask at the store but I'd like to know going in.

Any help is welcome.
 
Again, I don't factor in MIR. As for which HD 7770, they're pratically all the same except for warranty and customer support depending on the company.

The new RAM recommendation is because the RAM I recommended earlier is now a tad overpriced and not being sold by Amazon.com proper. Also you have a greater budget.

Some stores price match but it's largely dependent on the managers and their moods.. The few success stories I've seen usually involve people bringing a copy of their online cart with them to show the manager.
 
Thanks Danny.

I checked MC online and they don't have the exact same RAM in stock, so I ordered it from Amazon. It'll probably be here Monday.

Just need CPU/Mobo/GPU now. What should I get for $308? :)

Do any GPU's come with games anymore or is that a hit or miss offer that comes around on occasion?

Thanks!
 
LOL. That was a joke after getting the RAM for $42 and still trying to keep CPU/MOBO/GPU under $350 (-42RAM) AND include the i5. Not doable. :) So I'll have to stretch the budget I guess.

Since I have to wait for the RAM anyway, I am about to purchase a 7770 on Amazon for $110 ($95 after rebate).

I just don't know. This is an expensive venture for sure. I'd like to go with the i5, but budget-wise it really blows it up. Can I pair an i3 with a 7770? I'm quite confused.

I guess if I stretch the budget to $700, with $296 already bought, that leaves me with $404 for CPU/MOBO/GPU. What would you suggest?

I really hate going to $700 for this without a monitor yet. Yikes. Having a case that is forward compatible is nice for him at least and that took a $50 chunk out of the original budget.

Thanks for the continued help in this!
 
Yes you can indeed pair the Core i3 with the HD 7770. It's only the HD 7800 series and above that I would highly recommend pairing with the Core i5. So if you absolutely can't afford the Core i5, stick with the Core i3.
 
Thanks for the help! I had a math error and wasn't thinking straight.

As it is, with $404 to play with for CPU/MOBO/GPU, I can get the i5/MSI G41 you recommended for $263 after tax and before a $10 MIR on the board. So $404-$263 is $141 for a GPU. Is there a better card in that modest price range that will make a significant bump from the 7770? More importantly, I guess, if there is, will my 430CX PSU still be enough?

Thanks! I'm running the numbers and deciding if I want to cheap out and take the i3.
 
In regards to the i5: If there are no plans to upgrade the GPU for a long time, stick with the Core i3. If you plan on upgrading the GPU within 2 years or so, then yes go for the Core i5.

As for the video card, honestly there's really nothing worth buying in between the $120 HD 7770 and the $190 HD 7850. While there are certainly faster cards than the HD 7770 in that price range, they're just not priced low enough to justify their costs.

And yes your CX430 will be enough.

EDIT: I should point out that if you buy the HD 7850 2GB from Newegg or Amazon.com, you actually get two free games: Tomb Raider and BioShock Infinite. So thats a pretty damn good deal when you think about it:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.ht...d_t=201&pf_rd_p=1484779282&pf_rd_i=B007PJTNYS
 
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Danny, you are so helpful. I thank you very much.

Last question.

If I knew I was going to go over budget, which way would be best.

i3/G41 mobo with 7770 AND 840 Pro SSD 128GB. All told, after rebates, $632.
(this buildout is case/psu/SSD/i3/mobo/RAM/7770/OS/SATADrive. So no 1TB hard drive. I could add that later)

OR

i5/G41 mobo with 7770 with NO SSD and the 1TB HD as single drive. All told, after rebates, $644
(this buildout is case/psu/1TBHD/i5/mobo/RAM/7770/OS/SATADrive)

Which is the better build for playing games? I know the SSD will make it snappy, but which is the better performer? OR, since I'm under $700 on both builds (after MIR obviously) should I use the extra overhead to bump up to the 7850? Or spend the money somewhere else to make an improvement?

To answer your question, I doubt he'll (read that, I :)) be upgrading his GPU anytime soon. Basically what I build for him now will be what he gets for the next few years at least. Maybe more than a few years. I doubt he'll sink any money into it on his own. Besides buying a game or two. He really just wants to play SWTOR because he's a huge Star Wars fan, as am I.

(BTW, the MIR's for both builds are $45. So the builds will just tuck under the $700 without them at $689 and $677)

Thanks!
 
Bump up to the HD 7850 since you get two free games.
 
With which build? I haven't taken anything out of the box yet so I can still easily return items.

i3 w/SSD or i5 w/1TB?

Thanks. Off to price 7850's. That won't change my PSU right?
 
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