System Builder Marathon, August 2012: $500 Gaming PC

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pauldh

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Yes, cheats. But that is not meant to be a slam in any way. To clarify... 1) refurbished parts, 2) combo deals, 3) mail-in rebates, 4) omitting an optical drive, 5) use of a $19 case with no cooling, etc. Every one of those is a unacceptable for a System Builder Marathon build, especially an overclocked Phenom II X4 (the case cooling).

Anyway, I am not doubting it is possible to do such a build near $500 if we buy used parts, or capatalize on all Newegg's potential methods of saving. Just saying, we have to play by some rules for these builds.

Hey, hopefully we see some favorable price changes over the next month. For now I still do not see how we could increase the CPU by $20 (X4 965BE), and the GPU by $35 (HD 7850) and expect to hit budget. Only place with room to give is with a $50 mobo, (the one we used $65-70), but we are still at least $35 over budget. And guaranteed if the machine doesn't appear too stellar, there will be those who would cry out we are purposely crippling AMD by using a crappy mobo, or that same CAS 9 DDR-1333 kit, rather than 1600 MT/s RAM.

Regarding the case, Just curous as I'm always eyeing up all the sub-$40 cases for these builds. I have never purchased an Apex, but have indeed had my hands on a few of them. Just my opinion, based only on a brief exposures, but Rosewill quality seems a bit above imho. Although that shouldn't be a blanket statement, best to compare model to model.
 


I wasn't taking offense at you calling them cheats, only saying that I could have done better with pricing if I pulled out every reasonably possible trick that I wanted to. I didn't omit an optical drive, I added it in a reply with a CPU cooler. I also didn't account for MIRs in the price that I gave. Like I said, I could have gotten it under $500 if I did that.

Regardless, my point was that it was possible to get a decent quad core CPU and a Radeon 7850 in an approximately $500 machine. The only immediately unsolvable issues with my build along those rules were the CPU being a refurb part and the case not having cooling. I think that I can get it in the budget without a refurb CPU and a with a case that has sufficient cooling, I'll just take another (and better) look. I pretty much just threw that build together ASAP to see if it could be done.

Thanks for the feedback, I'll do better with the next one :)
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]blazorthon[/nom]I wasn't taking offense at you calling them cheats, only saying that I could have done better with pricing if I pulled out every reasonably possible trick that I wanted to. I didn't omit an optical drive, I added it in a reply with a CPU cooler. I also didn't account for MIRs in the price that I gave. Like I said, I could have gotten it under $500 if I did that.Regardless, my point was that it was possible to get a decent quad core CPU and a Radeon 7850 in an approximately $500 machine. The only immediately unsolvable issues with my build along those rules were the CPU being a refurb part and the case not having cooling. I think that I can get it in the budget without a refurb CPU and a with a case that has sufficient cooling, I'll just take another (and better) look. I pretty much just threw that build together ASAP to see if it could be done.Thanks for the feedback, I'll do better with the next one[/citation]
OK, good. Just wanted to clarify I am working with you on this openly, not trying to rip apart any suggestions. And please also realize this discussion is evolving a bit, and some of those "cheats" so to speak revolved around other's input for rebates in trying to step over to Crossfire 7770.
 

pauldh

Illustrious
[citation][nom]tourist[/nom]Paul, saying toms has to have a idea that the product will be available at publication or close to the same price is a weak point. Many times the items used in sbm goes up or down in between builds and publication it is what it is. 1) SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burnerhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6827151244Rosewill R218http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811147073SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822152244ASRock 880GM-LE FX AM3+ AMD 880G Micro ATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6813157292SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6870 1GBhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814102948Thermaltake TR2 430W http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817153023G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6820231253AMD Phenom II X4 965 Blackhttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6819103727TOTAL IS $504.92 no rebates or combos the fx4100 can be interchanged with the 965 as they are the same price.As a salesman for 30 yrs i can tell you toms hardware is a dream buyer turning down free hardware in not using combo deals, you need it and it is free what part of that is cheating ? What it boils down to is this, the sbm build is predicated on what is available at the given moment you sit down and place the order, sure you have a few ideas what way you want to go but timing is what decides the final build ? I would bet you even use a PO.Not raking you through the coals here paul. This is probably the toughest of the three builds, Don's build allows him to pull from the top shelf, you not so lucky. Your build requires forethought and being crafty, a challenge i myself enjoy. Just decide on a amd build and buy the cpu when it hits your price point. About every two weeks newegg has a 955,965 or fx4100 on sale for $99.00.Post a date when the decision has to be final so we have something to work with, heck make it a reader challeng. a simple html page linked up with newegg for parts the best reader inspired build for $500. Ask newegg i am sure they will be willing to work with tom's.[/citation]
Yes, prices and availability often change. For sure! We can count on it unfortunately. Made worse, Thomas and Don (the SBM veterans) use updated prices from when they work on /finish the text, while I (and Chris) prefer to use the only concrete price, which is what we paid at the time of the order. IMHO those prices dictate the buying decision, and on all other dates the price will change and often not reflect why you purchased the component. Neither option is considered clearly best/worst by all involved, and it's not a big deal, so we each work around that in the text as to not confuse readers.

So my point is this, it is easy to substitute an optical drive or basic RAM kit if one goes out of stock. It is not easy to substitute a whole processor family should Phenom II X4's no longer be available a month later. You may recall I grabbed an HD 6950 one month when a few were available and offered great bang for buck, well many folks were upset that HD 6950's were gone when the series went live. Then one came in stock again and it was super high priced, which upset other people.

Anyway, maybe it is safer to just shoot for an FX-4100 right off the bat, if there is doubt Phenom II X4 will still be available. Shoot, they dissappeared already for quite a while. I have already covered Phenom II X4 before in the SBM, on more than one occation, and with good success. Only one FX has been in the SBM so far, and it was paired with Crossfire, very CPU limited, and seeing negative scaling. I think FX deserves another go with a single GPU, I just wish it was $99 at our order time. We have just a few days notice on these, little time for discusion, and basically a 1 day window for placing the order. This time, my cart went up $5, (mobo went up), I had been under budget.

Yeah we sometimes mention promo codes (this month there was a 10% promo on the mobo when we bought it making it $63), but we can not bank on these promotions lasting. We'll have to agree to disagree, but the team doesn't want to build a system that can not be duplicated for a similar price. I see it this way, we do not add shipping, which I attempt to keep low (usually $10-15). The promo codes I do not factor into the price, will make up for these shipping costs, keeping our price reasonably in line with the net someone will pay if building the same rig.

Oh, I do not at all mind the low budget challenge. I've built hundreds of machines, and am used to custom builds of all price ranges. However for the SBM, I'd just like to add a $750/$800 rig also though to hit bigger performance. Also, many months I'd like to build 2 machines at $500, torn which way to go, loving the data, and thinking how a quarter is a long time to wait to try the next option. There's no best option for everyone, that's why the machine needs to attack a specific goal/weakness of the last system. Your build with Phenom II X4 965 BE(or FX-4100) + HD 6870 is exactly what I said up above we'd be lucky to hit next round. It's the HD 7850 and HD 7770 Crossfire talks I know are not going to happen at $500.

Done rambling. Thanks for the discussion and feedback. Enjoy your weekend All!
 

pauldh

Illustrious
One more thing Tourist, Without Newegg we wouldn't have such a huge selection of RETAIL components to test, nor be able to give each system away to our readers. They already do work well with us! However, nobody is sitting idle waiting for an SBM to role around. Schedules are hectic and not in sync. So here is your time and place to voice opinions for next round. I'll check in again in the coming weeks to catch up on feedback, but I must move on for now. I'm at least glad to see the vocal majority shares my desire for an overclocked AMD quad-core Gaming PC next time. Specifics, We'll just have to wait and see how things shape up when next quarter rolls around.
 
[citation][nom]pauldh[/nom]One more thing Tourist, Without Newegg we wouldn't have such a huge selection of RETAIL components to test, nor be able to give each system away to our readers. They already do work well with us! However, nobody is sitting idle waiting for an SBM to role around. Schedules are hectic and not in sync. So here is your time and place to voice opinions for next round. I'll check in again in the coming weeks to catch up on feedback, but I must move on for now. I'm at least glad to see the vocal majority shares my desire for an overclocked AMD quad-core Gaming PC next time. Specifics, We'll just have to wait and see how things shape up when next quarter rolls around.[/citation]

Thanks for your time.
 


That's the *rare* 7850 1GB model. I don't recommend high-end 1GB graphics cards because 1GB is not enough in some games even at 1080p. I also don't trust its cooler. It doesn't look like much air can be exhausted out the rear of the case through its back plate.
 


True. Maybe it would be okay to go for the 1GB model for this build. It is a $500 build and minor compromises are expected. I'll revise my current list of parts in progress with it.
 


The 6100 is great. Disable one core per module and overclock it and it will soar past the i3s and even the Phenom II x4s (although unlike the 8120 and 8150, it doesn't compete with the i5s when used in this way). That price is incredible.
 


The 6100 will probably go up in price, but the 7850 might come down and counteract the 6100.
 

kulmnar

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Nice, a $500 PC that can play Battlefield 3 at 1080p with 70fps at medium detail. Can't wait for the next generation of consoles so I can have a reason to upgrade my PC :)
 

guardianangel42

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That build can't play games, what the hell you are guys smoking?! You can't run games without Windows, and that's at least another $100.

I find these builds disengenuous. Without factoring EVERY component required, your short selling the full price by a minimum of $100.
 
[citation][nom]guardianangel42[/nom]That build can't play games, what the hell you are guys smoking?! You can't run games without Windows, and that's at least another $100. I find these builds disengenuous. Without factoring EVERY component required, your short selling the full price by a minimum of $100.[/citation]

It's just the hardware that is counted in these. Most people either have Windows already and everyone can get it for free legally if they want to. You can simply go to MS's website and download an evaluation copy. Many college students can also get free license keys. At least $100 is quite the exaggeration considering that it can be had for free and legally as well as how many people (especially on a site such as this) already have a Windows license key.
 

PCgamer81

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I wasn't aware that a Windows license key can be used on two different internet computers.

I agree with guardianangel42 on this one, blaze.

When you buy a new PC, your OS is a must. Unless you are going to be running Linux or a Windows demo - like you mentioned.

I really don't think a Windows demo, Linux, or a reused copy of Windows that won't update is the answer with a new gaming rig.
 
Why wouldn't the reused copy update? The retail version of Windows is transferable. The license itself allows this. I do this often and it always updates. Retail Windows can be used on as many different computers as you want, but it should only be used on one at any given time. The OEM version is supposedly tied to a motherboard, but I find that it doesn't know when you upgrade a motherboard to a newer model of the same line and a new CPU of the same company (no switching between AMD and Intel).

The *demo* version is an eval copy, not a demo. It's a full version. It gets a nag screen after a while if you don't get a license or re-install it, but you can wait more than a year before this is an annoyance and you can then just ignore the nag screen anyway.

I admit that this is decent point, but the point of these builds is the hardware. If you want to buy a new Windows license with them, then you'll have to add in that cost yourself. It's not difficult to do that.
 

PCgamer81

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That's all well and good, but when they act like such a thing doesn't even exist with comments like, "play *insert game* on ultra, and for less than *insert price*", I think it's a tad misleading.

Windows IS motherboard locked, and any brand new build is going to require a retail copy of Windows 7 if you are at all serious about gaming. Period.
 

PCgamer81

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If it is a person's first custom build, or first in a while, Windows is a must. If they are building a $500 custom rig, then it goes without saying that the rig they must be using prior to building a $500 budget rig is either non-existent, or one so old it's running XP or Vista. It may not be a gaming rig/custom machine at all - and any copy that comes with pre-built systems will not transfer over.

But you people are free to think what you want, I'm done.
 
All right, I think that I've got a winner. Unfortunately, I was correct with my previous prediction about the FX 6100 increasing in price and the 7850 decreasing, although the 7850 didn't go quite as I planned. Instead of the 1GB model dropping below $200, a great HIS 2GB model dropped to 2GB. So, with the FX-6100 now at $129.99, it's not a feasible option, but the Phenom II 955 is back and at $94.99, so it's still a good build with a better price than my previous one.

Phenom II x4 955 (not BE, but it should do quite well nonetheless) $94.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819113007

HIS IceQ X H785QN2G2M Radeon 7850 2GB $199.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161405

ASRock 880GM-LE AM3+ motherboard $54.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813157292

SAMSUNG 22X DVD Burner $14.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151244

Antec VP-450 PSU $34.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371045

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) $24.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231193

Rosewill R101-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147112

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F4 HD322GJ/U 320GB 7200 RPM $59.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152244

Total is $514.92. It's not quite under $500, but I think that it's close enough this time. It is only slightly less than 3% more than $500.

If given a choice, I'd take a better motherboard, better storage, and a better case in a $550 or $600 build, but then it wouldn't fit in a $500 budget.
 
G

Guest

Guest
the graphics card you linked lists a minimum psu wattage of 500. will your 450 watt psu suffice?

also, couldn't you get a less powerful card? If you get this one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161402
at $130, you could use the extra money to get a $65 60GB SSD and bring your total cost down to $510.

I believe an operating system (and your favorite game) installed on an SSD is a better investment than such a large GPU.
 
[citation][nom]systembuild5161[/nom]the graphics card you linked lists a minimum psu wattage of 500. will your 450 watt psu suffice?also, couldn't you get a less powerful card? If you get this onehttp://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814161402at $130, you could use the extra money to get a $65 60GB SSD and bring your total cost down to $510.I believe an operating system (and your favorite game) installed on an SSD is a better investment than such a large GPU.[/citation]

The 450w is plenty. It isn't enough for huge overclocking, but it is enough for decent overclocking, not even just stock. I don't care for recommendations when I can do the math myself. Giving 150w for the CPU with an overclock (it probably won't use quite that much, but I'd rather have more than necessary than not enough), up to 200w for the graphics card (unlikely for it to break 150w, let alone 175w), up to 50 for the motherboard and memory (unlikely to hit more than 30-40w, but I admit that I'm a little less sure about the accuracy of that number), and up to 30w for the storage, the 450w should have enough for absolute peak power consumption with very high overclocks (although this might hinder PSU lifetime) and should be more than enough for decent overclocks for four to six years.

Whether or not you want to sacrifice graphics performance for storage performance is more of a personal preference choice rather than a necessary choice. Most of us would probably go for the graphics at this budget to make it able to play very well at 1080p, but that's not to say that the SSD option can't be good anyway.

However, SSDs with les than 90GB of capacity tend to be kinda insufficient. Except for the Samsung 830 model and maybe one or two others, they all kinda suck at that capacity and you're bound to have it at around half capacity or more all of the time and that's bad for an SSD. It can mean more wear and tear issues and reduced performance from what you're likely to expect to get.

EDIT: I'm not saying that your suggestion is wrong, just not the way that I'd go. I'd definitely prioritize for a decent SSD in every more expensive build. ~$650 or $700 and up should get an SSD IMO, but with current prices, it'd difficult to fit one worth buying into a $500 build and it can't be done at all without compromising something else.
 


Alright then, I'd have to either go up to the Phenom II x4 965 or FX-4100 ($15 more expensive) or go down to an Athlon II x4 ($15 cheaper for the cheapest Athlon II x4), although I really don't like that second option.
 

PCgamer81

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PSU's run far more efficiently at 50% load than 80%+.

With the build you named, I would recommend at least a 500w PSU, maybe more. Those industry guys make their recommendations for a reason, and without respect to your "math".
 
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