Budget Build, motherboard madness and more. Please help


Dec 29, 2011
Purchase Date: Next week or so

Budget: 400-500 more ( I have already gotten the i5-2500k from microcenter for $179) So it's $700ish total

System usage: Gaming, gaming, and more gaming. Being able to run BF3 and WoW on high/ultra. I'm mainly a WoW player but i do like FPS and will be getting BF3. I do understand my budget may not allow me to run BF3 on the highest settings but my main focus is WoW on ultra, which i know even the gtx 550 ti will do easily.

Parts not required: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, and possibly cd drive, HDD, case (I have an older HP that i can pull stuff from and possibly use the case but i may just need to get newer things, advice on that would be great)

Website for parts: Newegg.com, Microcenter.com ( I do have a microcenter 2 hours away and can make a trip there if needed)

Country: USA

Parts Prefence : None really, except for the gpu most likely being gtx 550-ti or 560 due to the games i play being better on them but i'm open to suggestions. I'm going with Intel because of the way better performance and i've already gotten the processor because it was such a great deal

Overclocking : Probably, have never done it before and i'm not sure how much trouble one could have with it. How much risk you take damaging something by doing it. How much of an advantage it actually is for gaming. But i do plan on overclocking my processor and gpu if its even just a slight OC. Unless there isn't a real huge benefit for gaming as it relates to the risk/reward.

SLI : Possibly in the future, but its not very important, If my budget restricts me to an H61 or H67 board then i will just use a single card until i build a new system or upgrade to a Z68 board. Unless there is a decent priced Z68 somewhere.

Monitor resolution: Right now my LCD monitor runs at 1440 X 900 but I don't want the build to be limited to that resolution because a monitor change (or to a TV) will be coming very soon. So for future proofing purposes we will just say 1080p.

Additional comments: Ive done a lot of reading, possibly too much, which is the source of my problems on making up my mind and what made me break down and just post to ask for specific advice. I have poured over the forums, trying to find an already answered post that would suit me most and just copy that build but it really is just on an individual basis. The title of the thread relates to the madness i am going through on deciding on a board. I think i have one picked and then i read the reviews on newegg and they are horrible. I do understand that those reviews are out of hundreds of thousands of boards sold and only a few post but this is my first full build and its a lot to take in.

two boards i am looking at would be this for a Z68
Asrock at $111

or MSI for the H61 chipset at $84

As i said before, i'm not sure IF i'll even ever do an SLI or not. But pretty sure i will overclock even if it is just slightly.

Power Supply i'm thinking about Corsair 500w for $59

Memory : I want 8 gb and thinking about this for $45

As for the GPU, my budget may limit me on this but the main thing is getting the computer built and ready. The gpu can always wait another week or 2 since the H61 and Z68's support onboard graphics of the i5-2500k. So i would like to grab a 560 (reg) over the 550 ti since i've seen so much about how much better it performs. The 560ti would be ideal but is a little out of my budget i think. Going with the 550 ti, i just dont think that i will be happy with my build, since from everything i've seen, it won't run games on their highest settings at a comfortable frame rate. The gtx 460 would be an option but i'm not sure, you tell me. :) The $40 difference for the 560 over the 550 Ti doesn't seem like its too big of a price to pay for the extra performance and being able to play most games on max settings.

EVGA 550 Ti for $149 from microcenter ($129 after rebate)

Gigabyte 560 for $189 from microcenter ($169 but i don't trust rebates)

Zotac 560 Ti from microcenter $229 ($199 after rebate)

The 560 ti's run about $30 more in most cases. So if its better to wait a week or 2 and save up for one instead of just go with the 560 Ti i'm open to suggestions.

Those are the main parts that i need, Even if i don't use the older computer and use parts from it. It wont be much to find a cheap HDD and cd drive. I don't download music or anything so all i need on my HD are the games themselves. As you can tell, i've done quite a bit of research myself but i just cant decide on a route to go. Having the budget i do and then seeing something that is a little better for $15-$20 more is frustrating. The budget isn't concrete, as i can wait on the gpu if i really really need to. If i could plllllllease please get some help to make me make up my mind. Also maybe some advice on if i should just not worry about SLI for now and go with the H61 or H67 mobo and just upgrade my card and mobo when that time comes or my gpu to a better single card. Sorry this is quite long but i have gotten TOO much information while trying to make up my mind and its just hard to decide on which way to go.


Dec 29, 2011
Oh, i forgot to mention that I don't have an OS besides whats on the old HP which is Windows XP but i do plan on using a friends Windows 7 disk and using the Key on the bottom of my laptop to avoid the $100 extra. Or if someone could send me a private message on how to "obtain" a copy of Windows 7. (Yes i know the forum doesn't promote or approve of anything other than going and purchasing a copy of Windows 7 retail from the stores). Purely asking for research purposes and just a basic understanding of how that works. *wink*
H67 and H61 motherboards can't overclock so you must get either a P67 or a more preferable Z68 to overclock.

You will get more performance for the price if you use AMD graphics cards. For example, the Radeon 6870 has a similar price to the GTX 560 but it performs similarly to the more expensive 560 ti, and that is a pretty big jump in performance. You can get a Radeon 6870 for about $150-165 easily, maybe a little cheaper if you look around.

Overclocking the CPU may help games but not by much. It will help outside of games more. Overclocking the GPU(s) and GPU memory will help games more than overclocking the CPU and system memory.

The cheapest you will get a hard drive for will be around $70 for say a 160GB or 250GB drive and the jump to $80 allows for 500GB drives so paying less is ridiculous right now. Going further to $120 or so will allow some 1TB drives but anything larger will probably increase the price substantially more.

If you ever want to SLI or crossfire you will need a higher wattage PSU, try for 700-850 watts.


Dec 29, 2011
First, thank you for your reply. It helped out quite a bit because i hadn't even considered AMD yet and it seems the 6870 might be perfect for my price range. Unless i can find $50 more from somewhere for the 560 Ti. I haven't done much research on them but remember reading in the forums around that HIS was a decent brand and also one of the cheapest. Which is around $169 before rebate.


As far as the board goes, I don't really think ill be too concerned about overclocking right off and its not really a must for me either in the future. The main reason i jumped on the $179 price for the i5-2500k was that it was a good $30-$40 cheaper than anywhere else i could find and i had just happened to be going to Houston anyways, so i grabbed it.

Z68 for $125


H61 for $75


Are there any real huge disadvantages for gaming on going with the H61 over the Z68 besides not being able to SLI/CF and not being able to OC the processor?

The hard drive, if i need to, for now i can pull the one from my current computer(i think) along with the cd drive and also use the case that its in. Also, concerning that, I was wondering if when i move the HDD to the new setup if it will just run or if i may have to reformat the whole HD. Or how i would go about using it in the new setup, if some adjustments are required. As far as the reusing of the windows in a new system. It wont be "illegal" technically, i will be upgrading an exsisting system by adding new components(i think, of course, i dont know.)

I guess the main thing i'm struggling with is the best mobo/gpu combo to go with for gaming purposes. Wondering if i should even bother with the OC'ing for marginal results/gains and go with the cheapest board i can get and put that money into a better GPU. I know i already have the 2500k but i can always upgrade the board later if i want to add another card to SLI/CF
Yes it is illegal to use a key from any and all prebuilt computers on a different compute even if you are no longer using the prebuilt computer. Retail copies that you buy yourself can be reused on different machines but only one at a time unless otherwise specified.

There are a lot of differences between H61 and H67, let alone H61 to Z68.

H61 doesn't support running memory faster than 1333MHz, lacks USB 3.0 and SATA 6GB/s, can only have one PCIe x16 slot that runs above x4 speeds, (as already mentioned) can't overclock or use SLI/CF. There may be other things being lacked but that is all that comes to mind.


Dec 29, 2011
I was just about to post an update before you posted.
I think you misunderstood what i said. The "laptop key solution" was just sort of a joke and a quick easy solution that a lot of people do. That's not the computer i'm using the parts from.

To be more clear. I'm not really trying to get into an ethical or moral debate about if its illegal or not to use another windows for a another system. Many people do it and i wouldn't hesitate to do it myself(if i got a hold of a friends CD, that is). The original 2nd post was more of a joke than anything. Knowing that its rather common to either pirate windows or just "reuse" it. (yes, i know the forums neither condone it or approve of it). My question about it is, because i am reusing my case, HDD, and optical drive. Am i able to just throw a new CPU,mobo,psu, and ram in it and it boot up or will it not work at all because its locked to that mobo? Which then, from what i've read, a simple call to them informing them i upgraded to a newer mobo, would probably solve that problem(of course, i could be wrong). Which would be 100% the truth, as i'm only upgrading a few parts. Yes, the main parts but still. Again, i'm not asking about the morality of it or trying to get into a discussion if its legal or not. Simply, if its possible or not to use this Windows Vista for now as a temporary solution to my problem until i get Windows 7. I do plan on buying windows 7 but as i said it may have to be in a week or 2 when i get my GPU too.

As of tomorrow i'm going ahead and ordering my psu, ram, and mobo(Z68)

PSU: Seasonic 520w
MOBO: ASRock Z68 Xtrm3Gen3
Don't know exactly what to look for but i read somewhere that some boards don't support the older optical drives because they only have sata connectors (or for some reason). Is that the case with this one? Will i have to buy a new optical drive or will the one in the older machine work?
Memory: G. SKILL Ripjaw 1600

From what you have said blazor that board will be everything i need for if/when i decide to get an aftermarket cooler to overclock the cpu and is ready for when/if i ever decide to SLI/CF.

CPU: i5-2500k
Mobo: ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
PSU: SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified
Memory: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600

Case,Optical,HDD hopefully to be reused. If its possible. They come from a HP pavilion core 2 4400. Here is a link with the specs of the computer.

Model number: RY8748A-ABA-a6037c

I guess my only question now is if you or anyone else thinks that those older parts will be compatable to use with the newer equipment i just listed or if i'm just going to HAVE to buy a new hdd and optical. I'm pretty sure i can use the case. Please respond as i'm hoping to order in the next day or 2. Then the gpu (6870 or 560 ti) and OS (possibly, unless i find another "solution") in 2 weeks or so. Also, any advice/suggestions on the system overall once everything is in and together with the cpu/gpu combo.

Edit -
HDD specs from old comp are:
Size: 320 GB
Interface: SATA (that means it use sata connectors?)
RPM: 7200 RPM
Someone mentioned an HDD bottleneck in a post i read. Never knew a HDD could bottleneck a cpu or gpu.
I wasn't trying to start a moral or ethical debate, just making sure you knew it was illegal before you did it. It's not like I haven't done similar before. I didn't think you were going to use parts from the laptop, the key is not a part and would also work on any other machine be it laptop, desktop, or all-in-one machine that can run the same operating system.

None of the components are "locked" to the motherboard and neither is the key so you can use it on another machine or upgraded machine illegally if you want to but keep in mind that it might pop up saying "windows is not genuine" whenever you open notepad, internet explorer, or any program that comes with windows, including the control panel, among several other problems.

That board should handle minor or moderate overclocks well. Yes it is true that motherboards today don't have the IDE (aka PATA) ports that older optical and hard drives used. That port has been phased out of general usage in new machines and it is unlikely that you will find a new board with an IDE port.

What you can do to keep using that optical drive is buy a SATA/IDE adapter but that probably won't be too much cheaper than buying a new optical drive that doesn't have blu-ray functionality.

If a hard drive is SATA then it uses SATA connectors. If the hard drive is SATA then it will work with almost any motherboard made after it was. Some hard drives don't support older generations of SATA but all motherboards support older generations of SATA. That means a newer hard drive might not work on an older motherboard but an older hard drive should always work on a newer motherboard unless the hard drive is damaged.

The hard drive bottleneck that post referred to was that hard drives are much slower than SSDs in random access times and also much slower than newer SSDs in sequential speeds too.

An SSD will allow everything involving storage speeds (such as program launching and windows boot time) to work exponentially faster. It will insanely improve the speed of stuff like anti virus scans and moving files around the drive. Basically anything bound by storage bandwidth and latency will run not just a little faster or not even just twice as fast, but even faster than that.

The Radeon 6870 is comparable to the 560 TI but it is usually cheaper by a fair margin making it the better value for the same performance.

The case, hard drive, and optical drive have nothing to do with whether the machine will boot up or not. If the hard drive fails then it won't boot into windows or whatever is on it but you can still use the BIOS and the same goes for the optical drive.

The case is just that... A case to put the parts into. If you laid the parts out on the floor, connected them together properly, and powered it on it would still work but it would be in the way, more vulnerable, and probably a little noisier since the case isn't blocking any of the sound.


Dec 29, 2011
Sorry, i misspoke. I didn't mean if the system itself would boot or not. I know that has nothing to do with the HDD. I really meant that if windows already on the HDD would boot or if it would be locked to that mobo, and not boot up windows with the new cpu,ram,mobo connected. I'm guessing you explained what might happen if i do that with the "not genuine" thing. I will just figure out when i get it, i guess.

I really do thank you for your help, you made my budget work a lot easier and better with the 6870 suggestion, although i may have to wait a week or 2 to order it. But at least i can get the build together and running with the onboard graphics until then. Getting everything loaded on there that i need.

A couple more quick questions if you don't mind - There are a few different 6870's.

The sapphire flex 6870 for $184 (im guessing this is a factory OC)


The Sapphire 6870 $164 ($144 after rebate, but again i never count on them. Not sure how sapphire is with them)


There are 3 HiS IceQ models for $169, ill link the one that is "turbo"


In your opinion, which would be my best bet? The regular sapphire 6870 for $164? I've read good things about sapphire. Is it just about reading reviews and seeing which one has the best cooling and is the quietest? Would it be pointless to get the $184, seeing as i can just overclock the gpu myself? Is that even what the "flex" is, a factory overclocked card?

Only other question i have is with the mild/moderate overclock that the board will allow me to do. Will i need an aftermarket cooler or will the stock cooler work just fine? Keep in mind, i'm not trying to go to insane speeds as this is my first time OC'ing and i really don't want to damage anything. Maybe 4 ghz-4.2 ghz (maybe not even that high) for now and possibly slightly higher once i tinker with it and learn more about it.

Again, i really appreciate you taking your time to help me and all of the others here on Tom's. It helps newcomers like use immensely and if it weren't for people like you guys here a lot more people would be getting taken advantage of. Its up to use to get and stay informed and this forum allows us to do that. (Down with SOPA!!!)

As with all things a more expensive 6870 is sometimes better than a cheaper one and will overclock further but sometimes it is just more expensive for no good reason.

Read reviews on each particular one you are looking at, especially reviews which compare the cards you are looking at. Remember that different reviews will have other hardware being different so the slight or even more moderate differences between two cards of the same type (like two 6870s or two GTX 570s) might be attributable to the other hardware being different.

If you take a hard drive from a machine and put it on a different motherboard chances are that it may need to have windows reinstalled because of driver incompatibilities, not windows being locked to the motherboard.

If you were just changing the CPU then it should not need a new driver and just changing the video card would mean you install the driver right after you get the video card. Changing the storage (HDD or SSD) is slightly more complex but changing the motherboard is worse.

You might be able to install the drivers for the new motherboard before you change the motherboards out but I have never tried to do that, I like to reinstall to clear up the registry and other stuff anyway.

For any overclocking at all I would recommend against using the stock cooler, no matter how small it is. Cheap after market coolers like the Cooler Master 212 Evo and other Cooler Master 212 coolers are found around $20-35 and should get you to about 4.4GHz on the i5-2500K easily. I would use such cheap after market coolers even without overclocking because they will be more silent and cool the processor better anyway.


Dec 29, 2011
Alrighty well thanks again for all your help. Ill just try it out when i get all the new stuff and reformat the hd when i get it all together. Ill see if that works for me. Besides that, i'm going with the sapphire and a cooler. Ill get a newer HDD when the prices drop some.

I guess that about covers it for the pre build or component part of the questions i may have. Guess i will report back in with a new thread if i have any problems when putting them all together.

Build -
CPU - i5-2500k
Mobo- ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard
GPU - SAPPHIRE FleX 100314FLEX Radeon HD 6870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card with Eyefinity
PSU- SeaSonic S12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V V2.3 / EPS 12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC
Memory- G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL
HDD - 320 GB 7200 rpm
Cooler - COOLER MASTER Hyper 212 Plus


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