Under $600 Gaming Rig (incl. OS)

blatantlyobvious

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Hello all! This is my first thread posted to the Tom's Hardware Forums, though I have been reading through many posts in an attempt to better understand the thinking that goes into building a PC. I have never built a computer and I would not consider myself knowledgeable past the basics of "what does what," but I am interested in better understanding the reasoning and trains of thought that go into putting a PC together.

I am interested in building a gaming PC on a budget of $600 (including OS) that will enable me to enjoy primarily MMO-type games such as DayZ using moderate graphics settings. While I enjoy a pretty game, I would much rather have a machine that can run games smoothly and reliably. The build I have assembled below is somewhat of a theoretical build and was put together based on what I've read on these forums. It is meant to be a starting point from which an actual build list can be assembled.

I'd appreciate input and suggestions. If you do suggest a change to the list, I would appreciate an explanation of the reasoning behind the choice. The budget cap is a solid $600 (though a few dollars over is acceptable).

Thank you for your time!

Blatantly

Approximate Purchase Date: Within a week of posted date.

Budget Range: $600 after rebates; including shipping and OS

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, internet browsing, work (mostly Microsoft Office applications), watching movies

Are you buying a monitor: No; this will be an upgrade at a later date

Parts to Upgrade: Ground-up build

Do you need to buy OS: Yes

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Reputable sites with preference to as few different sites as possilbe.

Location: TN, USA

Parts Preferences: Intel processors/MOBOs are desirable for later ability to upgrade.

Overclocking: Maybe

SLI or Crossfire: No

Your Monitor Resolution: I don't know this off the top of my head; will edit if it's particularly important.

Additional Comments: I plan on using my old monitor and chassis at least until later dates.

And Most Importantly, Why Are You Upgrading: The selection of games I play on my current PC is not particularly vast, and none of the games I play are particularly demanding to a PC. The current computer I use was built in 2006 and up until last Fall was running Windows XP with 2 GB RAM (I upgraded to 4 GB but 32 bit XP caps it at ~3.5 GB). Unfortunately, my PC is at the point of not being able to run games I am interested in such as DayZ and newer MMOs on low graphics.

I am not really looking for a beast of a machine that can run games on ultra settings, but rather something that will comfortably run games on regular settings with an emphasis on MMO-type games (which I believe puts importance on CPU ability). I am also interested in building a long-term machine in the sense that it will enable me to enjoy the next few years of gaming (once again, modest gaming as opposed to ultra-graphics) while also leaving options open for CPU/GPU upgrades.

PC Part Picker List

CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($123.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($49.98 @ OutletPC)
Memory: G.Skill AEGIS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($58.00 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($47.99 @ Micro Center)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $596.90
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
 
Another thing I've realized is that it isn't necessary to overthink every detail of a build. As Don (Cleeve) said about graphics cards over a year ago, "There are no longer any bad cards, just bad prices." That is also true of most CPUs as well (Bulldozer excepted; IMO there is always a better choice). Even if you don't manage to get the very best you could, you will be hard pressed to do truly poorly, and obvious compatibility issues will be spotted (and early) by the Hive Mind.
As a purely mental exercise, I came up with a build I called "sufferable;" the cheapest system that would play my own games on "enjoyable" settings (typically medium or better). It was a lot lower-spec'ed than most people would think acceptable, proving my assertion that it is really difficult to come up with a truly bad build. The biggest issues I see are more related to quality (e.g. Corsair "CX" PSUs, AMD mobos with no heatsink VRMs, etc.) rather than speed (a $130-$150 graphics card is sufficient to play any modern game on "enjoyable" [to me] settings). YMMV a little, but only by degree.
 

DateAsultz

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Hi blatantlyobvious

The build you posted at the bottom of the thread looks all right and should comfortably run most games from medium to high, and should do ultra on quite a few games like BF3, one thing I would suggest is switching to an AMD based system, so maybe:

CPU: AMD FX-6300 ( $119.14 @amazon)
Motherboard: ASUS M5A78L-M LX ($49.89 @amazon)

it's only my opinion and if the i3 would give you a better peace of mind go for that

sincerely, Dan

Also to note the i3's benchmark score is 4825
And the FX-6300's benchmark is 6361

The benchmark is based on higher the better
 

DroneDroneDrone

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Here is a good build at your price pint:
PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/vJ6jBm
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/vJ6jBm/by_merchant/

CPU: AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz 6-Core Processor ($118.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3P ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($73.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Kingston Blu Red Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($71.88 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2GB Video Card ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: Corsair Builder 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $589.79
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-21 17:10 EDT-0400
So I changed the CPU, AMD is better at the lowend budget while Intel is at the high end budget. You can change it if you like though. Also switched out the GPU for a 265. This will be slightly better than the 750ti and is also cheaper. Changed it to a 600w PSU as it's cheaper atm. Also got cheaper but same performance RAM. Tried to keep it at the 4 stores you originally had in your build (outlet pc, newegg, amazon, and ncix us). This will run games smoothly at mid-high settings. If you're looking to play ultra you'd have to spend more. But yeah, good build that will handle most games thrown at it at mid-high settings. I'll try to find a link that does a good job of explaining computer parts for you
 

ingtar33

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PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Pentium G3258 3.2GHz Dual-Core Processor ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock H87M Pro4 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($79.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: G.Skill AEGIS 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: MSI Radeon R9 270X 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card ($184.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: EVGA 500W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($34.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($26.97 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $600.88
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-21 17:24 EDT-0400
 

blatantlyobvious

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Would an AMD-based system such as this still have comparable upgrade paths compared to an Intel-based system, or would I find myself hitting a wall with the MOBO relatively quickly?

 

blatantlyobvious

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I had looked at the G3258 previously and was impressed with the price/performance trade-off. However, does this build assume I will be OCing the G3258? I've read that that's one of the more impressive and worthwhile capabilities of this CPU.

And with that in mind, would you still recommend this CPU/build if I were reluctant to OC my CPU?

 

blatantlyobvious

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Thank you for the replies thus far! I've asked some questions regarding proposed builds -- feel free to answer regardless of whether or not you're the one who proposed the build.

Also, at what point should I consider additional cooling for my system? Is it more or less mandatory with an OC'd CPU (as would potentially be the case with the G3258). The tower I'm using has a fan at the lower front and a larger fan on the side opposite of where the MOBO is mounted.

Thanks!
 

LucoTF

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I wouldn't recommend it if you aren't gonna OC it, and he really should have recommended the H97 or Z97 version of that board (both are overclockable) because x87 doesn't always work with that CPU right out of the box.

Apparently it OCs rather well even on stock cooling...
 

LucoTF

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I think if you want to leave room for a CPU upgrade you kinda have to go intel. Both the current amd sockets (AM3+ and FM2+) are dead-end and while the FX series is sufficient for today's games there is simply no upgrade path.

For that reason I like your original build, with a couple of tiny amendments:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.97 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: MSI H81M-P33 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($49.77 @ Amazon)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $596.66
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-22 08:59 EDT-0400

- lower latency ram (CAS9 instead of CAS11)
- cheaper dvd drive, better power supply

If you were to get the pentium g3258 instead of the i3, spend some of the difference on a better motherboard imo
 

This, and I also agree that if you plan to spend a little more, the place to put it is the motherboard (e.g. a low-mid range Z97, able to overclock a future CPU upgrade). The 550W XFX PSU is much better than the Corsair, and will support almost any single graphics card in the future. I will not suggest any other changes unless / until you indicate if your $600 budget has further wiggle room, or if it is already tight (i.e. you'd really rather only spend $550, or $500).


 

blatantlyobvious

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Would a MOBO upgrade at a later date make less sense than going ahead and shelling out some extra cash now? The $600 budget has wiggle room in the sense that I have a regular job and can therefore siphon more funds to the build should I wish to do so, but it is strict in the sense that I wish to stick to a value I've decided was reasonable. This value can change based on what "makes sense" to a degree, however.

If the upgraded MOBO is specifically for the purpose of being able to upgrade a CPU in the future, then I think I will hold off and treat myself at a later date. If it offers benefits now as well as in the future, then it may be worth considering.

 

LucoTF

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The main difference between a H81 and Z97 is the Z97 will be compatible with the upcoming broadwell processors (late 2014). About another $50 on the mobo would be needed.

I would save and get the Z97 if it were me
 
When you replace a mobo, you typically also need to replace your Windows license (you can't simply move your boot drive and expect it to work); this adds significantly to the cost of upgrading the mobo later rather than getting the better one now.
 

LucoTF

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I think $600 is a really sweet spot for price / performance, if you don't need an OS. If I had $600 before OS I'd do this:

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($180.98 @ Newegg)
Motherboard: ASRock Z97 PRO4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: Gigabyte Radeon R7 260X 1GB Video Card ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $672.89
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-22 14:47 EDT-0400

i5 and Z97 board. I dropped the 750ti in favour of a superclocked 260x, almost the same performance but significantly cheaper ($35).
 
For gaming, I think a lot of people would probably recommend dropping to an i3 for now and getting a R9 270 or GTX660 instead.
The OP says he is willing to make graphical sacrifices, however MMOs are typically poorly threaded, so dropping to an i3 from an i5 seems unlikely to make a big difference.

 

Vic 40

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How about this?

PCPartPicker part list

CPU: Intel Core i3-4150 3.5GHz Dual-Core Processor ($114.99 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: MSI Z87-G41 PC Mate ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($62.00 @ Newegg) (don't know which case you have so assume it can take atx motherboards)
Memory: A-Data XPG V1.0 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1866 Memory ($72.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($49.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon R9 270 2GB Dual-X Video Card ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Power Supply: be quiet! Pure Power L8 600W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($19.98 @ OutletPC)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($89.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $599.91
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-22 16:05 EDT-0400

You could also use this psu,
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-power-supply-100b10500kr
or the 600watt version,
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/evga-power-supply-100b10600kr
The be quiet has not very long cables->+/-45cm's (inches is devided by about 2.5).With a big case maybe a little to short?
 

blatantlyobvious

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With the consideration of having to buy a new OS license upon upgrading a MOBO, I think it wise to go ahead and jump up to the Z97 PRO4 as suggested by Luco.

That being said, here's an updated build list:

PCPP Updated List

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i3-4130 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.97 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: ASRock Z97 PRO4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($99.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($76.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.98 @ OutletPC)
Video Card: Asus GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB Video Card ($134.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: XFX 550W 80+ Bronze Certified ATX Power Supply ($59.99 @ Newegg)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224DB/RSBS DVD/CD Writer ($14.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (OEM) (64-bit) ($84.98 @ OutletPC)
Total: $646.88
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-07-22 16:22 EDT-0400

Thank you for your continued input!
 

blatantlyobvious

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I understand that ATX refers to the size/layout of the MOBO, but I'm admittedly unsure how I'd go about checking what sizes/layouts my case can accommodate. If it is simply the size of the chassis, then I do not think I should have a problem as it's rather large. If it has more to do with actually mounting the mobo into the chassis, then I may have to take a closer look at my tower.

Thanks for the input!
 

LucoTF

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If your case is large then it should accommodate ATX motherboards (unless you have a BTX case but that's pretty unlikely).

One thing Vic 40 spotted is that the i5-4150 is $5 cheaper than the 4130 right now - it's also a whopping 100mhz faster (3.5ghz instead of 3.4)
 

blatantlyobvious

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Thank you for point out the price discrepancy between the i3-4130 and -4150. I will keep this in mind when I actually put the order in (which looks like ~1 week from now) and check again at that time.

Could anyone venture a guess as to why the CPU with an additional 0.1 Ghz is currently cheaper? Just happens?
 

LucoTF

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Just individual special offers from different sites that's all
 
Yep. That's why I always re-check for any deals right up to the moment I order. I'd like to believe I am a competent system builder, however I always post new build threads myself because many additional pairs of eyes will spot deals I will have missed, even on only 2-3 sites ( mostly Newegg, some Amazon and Superbiiz).
 

blatantlyobvious

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Although I am glad to hear continued suggestions regarding this build, I will be sure to re-post a finalized build on the day of or day before ordering sometime next week so that a few helpful eyes can give me a bit of last-minute security and confidence :)
 

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