Hoping to build a decent but cheap gaming PC

lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientistDetroit, MI
edited January 2013 in Hardware
So, I've been trying to game on my 2010 MacBook Pro for a few years now. It's been... tolerable. But then, I'm a tolerant person. Still, I'd like to up my gaming experience.

It's been over 10 years since I last built a gaming PC, so all the shit out right now looks like flying cars to me. But, I did a little poking on Tom's Hardware and came up with something. I also posted this to reddit, but I figure there are some smarties around here who might have some opinions. So, how does this bill of materials look?

PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yRZz
Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yRZz/by_merchant/
Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yRZz/benchmarks/

CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 Black 3.4GHz Quad-Core Processor ($84.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock 960GM/U3S3 FX Micro ATX AM3+ Motherboard ($60.98 @ SuperBiiz)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Seagate Barracuda 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($179.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case ($44.99 @ Amazon)
Power Supply: Antec 450W ATX12V Power Supply ($30.95 @ NCIX US)
Optical Drive: Samsung SH-224BB DVD/CD Writer ($15.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $527.87
(Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
(Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-21 19:50 EST-0500)

Comments

  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
    One thing I can recommend is getting Windows 8 now before the price goes up in a few days.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    Hmm, I have a copy of Win7 I was hoping to use. Though, I have been using it on my MacBook Pro. I wonder if that won't pass Windows Activation?
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
    Your Win7 key will be eligible for Windows 8 upgrade pricing, and the nice thing is (at least as far as I've seen), it doesn't invalidate your Win 7 key. You can keep Win 7 on your macbook, install Win 7 on your new PC without activating it, then install the Win 8 upgrade, which will give you a new license.
  • There are some full ATX boards on the 970 chipset for near the same price, will give you some expansion flexibility that the board does not.

    I'd suggest the FX-6300 - It's going to cost you about $50 more, but the improved TDP, overclocking headroom and two additional cores will all be worth the cost.

    Intall the OS on an SSD, at least 60GB to install your OS, it's just something I can't stress enough, it makes daily use so much better.

  • http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813135337 - This is a board with more room for expansion, only $69

  • edited January 2013
    Your Win7 key will be eligible for Windows 8 upgrade pricing, and the nice thing is (at least as far as I've seen), it doesn't invalidate your Win 7 key. You can keep Win 7 on your macbook, install Win 7 on your new PC without activating it, then install the Win 8 upgrade, which will give you a new license.
    While this may be technically correct, I believe it is legally dubious. IIRC, the terms of the license agreement state that you cannot use the license for the version of windows which you are "upgrading" on other hardware.
  • SodaSoda Ann Arbor, MI
    I really can't recommend an AMD processor for even a budget build. I would generally refer you to the TechReport system guide, as it has a bundle of recommendations at a few price points, along with alternatives listed on the following page of each build. It's not to say that you should absolutely get every product on the page, but they do a good job of explaining the choices and the reasoning, so you can learn a bit about the choices you're making. Also the alternative section has a pretty good selection of the parts that many people disagree on.
  • SodaSoda Ann Arbor, MI
    Your Win7 key will be eligible for Windows 8 upgrade pricing, and the nice thing is (at least as far as I've seen), it doesn't invalidate your Win 7 key. You can keep Win 7 on your macbook, install Win 7 on your new PC without activating it, then install the Win 8 upgrade, which will give you a new license.
    While this may be technically correct, I believe it is legally dubious. IIRC, the terms of the license agreement state that you cannot use the license for the version of windows which you are "upgrading" on other hardware.
    He is quite correct on this. Even more funny is that up through windows 7 (I'm not sure about windows 8), you could simply install it over itself. So you could buy the upgrade edition of windows 7, install it, and not activate it. Then reboot and re-install the copy. It sees you have a valid installation of windows already, and accepts it as the upgrade. Finish, validate, done deal. It is the same problem as before though. While this has been done so many times that it is proven that microsoft can't tell, that doesn't make it less illegal.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    edited January 2013
    Still futzing: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yZ95

    I'm a little reticent to step up to a full ATX board, because I'm hoping to end up with as small a case as I can get without building a dense little fireball. I'm also not super interested in getting too tweaky with overclocking, will probably just get this set up as stock & stable as possible and hope to enjoy it. (Of course, I say that now, but...)

    For the SSD, though... looks like I can step down from an ATI 7850 to the 7770 recommended at techreport.com, and my budget doesn't really move. Is the SSD worth that step down in gfx?

    FWIW, I'm also balancing my expectations here with having been relatively satisfied with this MBP with an Nvidia GeForce GT 330M 512MB. This fact will probably make you throw up in your mouth a little. I'll probably be happy replacing my graphics with a potato.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
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  • I don't know that I'd trade down graphics for an SSD, but the full ATX board and FX 6300 will actually run cooler than the Phenom II.

    What games would you like to run? What resolutions?
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    I don't know that I'd trade down graphics for an SSD, but the full ATX board and FX 6300 will actually run cooler than the Phenom II.

    What games would you like to run? What resolutions?
    Off the top of my head - Guild Wars 2, Borderlands 2, random things like Hawken. I'm hoping to hit 1920 x 1080 with lots of bells and whistles
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
    If you want 1920x1080 with bells and whistles, do not step down that GPU.
  • @PrimeSuspect is correct, in fact, if you can budget for a 7870 with 2GB of DDR5, do it.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    edited January 2013
    So, after poking around some more, I totally flipped the script and came up with a micro-ITX build:

    PCPartPicker part list: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yZR0
    Price breakdown by merchant: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yZR0/by_merchant/
    Benchmarks: http://pcpartpicker.com/p/yZR0/benchmarks/

    CPU: Intel Core i3-3220 3.3GHz Dual-Core Processor ($119.99 @ NCIX US)
    Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-H77N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($99.99 @ NCIX US)
    Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($46.98 @ Amazon)
    Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500GB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($54.99 @ Microcenter)
    Video Card: MSI Radeon HD 7850 2GB Video Card ($198.98 @ Newegg)
    Case: Fractal Design Node 304 Mini ITX Tower Case ($89.90 @ Amazon)
    Power Supply: Antec 450W ATX12V Power Supply ($30.95 @ NCIX US)
    Total: $641.78
    (Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available.)
    (Generated by PCPartPicker 2013-01-22 20:17 EST-0500)

    Blew my budget a bit, but I think the built-in wifi and bluetooth on that mobo will give me some happiness. Also, expecting it to be wife-compatible, because I plan to hide it on a bookshelf in the living room. I have what I think are interesting plans for setting up a monitor I can use from my spot on the couch.
  • fatcatfatcat Mizzou
    edited January 2013
    For $10 more you can get a 7870 GHz edition which is like 20-25% faster

    Also, why a 500GB slow ass hard drive?
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    edited January 2013
    For $10 more you can get a 7870 GHz edition which is like 20-25% faster

    Also, why a 500GB slow ass hard drive?
    Well, the why in general is... I have no idea what I'm doing. I've had nothing but Apple for 10 years :)

    Have a link to the +$10 7870 GHz edition you're talking about? Something like this from XFX? or maybe this one from Diamond? I have no clue who's a good manufacturer.

    And, what would be a better drive? I was trying to cut corners with that one, and 500gb @ 7200 RPM seemed alright.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    Also, I'm skipping an SSD for now, so I can keep from entirely blowing my budget. But, I'll probably look at getting one in a few months when my gadget budget recovers.
  • primesuspectprimesuspect Beepin n' Boopin Detroit, MI
    Put it this way: An SSD is not required for a high-end gaming build. You'll be just fine with a standard HDD... then, when the budget allows, you can upgrade to an SSD and it will blow your socks off.
  • ThraxThrax Professional Shill, Watch Slut, Mumble Hivemind Drone Austin, TX
    edited January 2013
    Have a link to the +$10 7870 GHz edition you're talking about? Something like this from XFX? or maybe this one from Diamond? I have no clue who's a good manufacturer.
    Diamond is fine. They stick very close to what we specify at AMD, meaning their design will be the most-tested solution vs. someone else's custom GPU layout. But really, any manufacturer is fine. We don't play favorites and we work very closely with all of them to ensure high quality.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    edited January 2013
    Diamond is fine. They stick very close to what we specify at AMD, meaning their design will be the most-tested solution vs. someone else's custom GPU layout. But really, any manufacturer is fine. We don't play favorites and we work very closely with all of them to ensure high quality.
    Cool... Diamond is at least a manufacturer whose name I remember from back when my processor was an 800Mhz Athlon and it looked like a Sega Genesis cartridge.
  • lmorchardlmorchard {web,mad,computer} scientist Detroit, MI
    Okay, so I cancelled my Newegg order and upgraded to the DIAMOND 7870PE52GV Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 CrossFireX Support Video Card. There appears to be a $20 mail-in rebate. Hopefully that will take, and I'll be in the hole on my toy budget for a bit :)
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