Building a Gaming Computer : Input Appreciated! [PARTS UPDATED 2/23/12]

  • Hello one and all, Sirbrandino here again. If you saw my topic in the IC section, you saw that I was making a gaming computer. Well, at least I'm quite serious about doing it, set aside almost enough money, and have most/all of the parts bookmarked. As I've never done this before, I would greatly appreciate input on some of the parts I've selected. I know someone who can help me put it together, but not really anyone with any knowledge of buying the parts.


    First off, I have a bit of a budget. I want to keep it arouund 700 U.S. dollars (Sorry my currencies are all in U.S. dollars, but that's what I use, and don't really feal like converting everything)
    Going over really isn't going to work, but staying between 650-750 dollars is fine. That being said, I'm not buying crazy gaming set-ups, like huge monitors and mega-speakers (I have a nice pair of head-phones already, and some small desktop speakers laying around) Staying in budget is also having me consider a free OP System like Linux, which I created a seperate thread for it here.


    What I'm looking for:
    - A computer capable of handling minecraft and equivalent games at full-max settings
    - run complex video editing
    - run a small 1-3 person server with friends on it
    - watch movies (easy one, I know)
    - process word documents/ all other day-to-day things, browsing this forum (had to throw it in there, easy I know)
    -create minecraft videos as well as any game that I feel is worthy of doing a commentary on.
    - other, can't think of off the top of my head.


    Basically this would require a good bit of ram, decent graphics card, very good grade cpu and motherboard, and probably a reliable OP system


    Parts List
    parts I've currently selected, let me know if you either find a better deal, or a better product, and any other input.


    CPU - The Intel i5 2500K$225


    MotherBoard - Gigabyte Intel Z68A - $118


    HardDrive - Hitachi 500 GB - $80 Sheesh hardrives are expensive now. I don't really need a 500 gig. Any good suggestions for a decent 320 or so?


    Video Card - HIS Radeon 6850 - $140


    Case - Cooler Master Elite 430 - $50 Currently the one I've selected, anything better of equivalent price?


    PSU - Not going to lie, this PSU is basically a placeholder, I have no idea what wattage I need, and don't want to go with a cheap brand. However, I can't spend hundreds on a PSU. Here is a 600w ~$60


    RAM - 4GB (x1) Corsair Vengence Will buy another stick later on. - $25


    Optical Drive - LG 24X - $17 I do not need anything fancy here, this will do.


    Comes out to around $715. I will not go much higher on price, as recent budget changes won't allow me to do so. However, things I can add later, like another stick of RAM, I will do. I still need to find a deal on a monitor...



    All in all, I feel there may be better parts out there, or I may be cutting corners in areas I shouldn't, and being too excess in other areas. Let me know what you think, and thanks so much.

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • Do you have an existing computer to salvage parts from, or are you starting completely from scratch?


    Staying in budget is also having me consider a free OP System like Linux


    What I'm looking for:
    - A computer capable of handling minecraft and equivalent games at full-max settings


    What other "equivalent" games have you in mind? Do they run on Linux?

  • For the most part, I don't have a computer to salvage parts from, the only one I might be able to use is quite old. But it still works. As for games, I didn't think about them not working linux, but maybe Skyrim, Star Wars: Empire at War, and maybe a few good looking steam games mixed in. Anyways, using linux is only an option for saving money, If I find it won't work for me, then I'll throw it out completely.

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • Have you considered 2 machines? My suggestion would be to find a cheaper dual-core on craigslist and use that as a dedicated server... There are single cores that would likely do the job, but then you have to start looking at the actual processor's speed.


    See if you can find a cheap dual-core with at least 2 gigs of memory to use as a dedicated server with a command line only Linux install. No need for a mouse, monitor, keyboard or speakers. You should be able to find such a system for ~<$200. I think I saw something in your OP about $800-$900. that would leave you ~$700 for your 'gaming' machine which should be more than enough regardless of if you buy or build. This would take the 'server' load off the machine that you are trying to play on.

    I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

  • Personally i'd say spring for the 2500k and a good air cooler. Think one of the large ones with a 120mm fan (one with good reviews naturally, hardocp has reviews on them)


    why? Overclocking. You mentioned "complex video editing", the 2500k may cost a bit more but you can overclock it some and get some extra "Free" performance out of it.


    the Video card looks a little weak but if you don't plan on running many modern shooters it'll be fine.
    the PSU should be fine if (here's the big if) it's actually capable of delivering such. Can't say much about that particular unit as I haven't seen any reviews but the brand is a good one. Won't leave much room for expansion if you plan on upgrading the video card later though.


    plus if you play your cards right and make sure everything is 120mm and swap out the case fans for low noise ~1krpm ones you can get a pretty darn quiet system. My cpu heatsync has a noctuna 120mm fan, excellent fans there, they just cost a bit is all. Like ~US$20 for a 120mm, double the cost (or so) of your typical low noise fan but delivers more airflow. Another good one are Enermax but I forget the particular model number. (they're the ~1krpm ones)


    granted it'll probably get noisy under load but at idle you basically can't hear my desktop unless your rather close to it.

  • You should be able to handle most games, but due to your graphics card some of the games you might not be able to play at there best resolutions.


    The corner you want to cut with your case is fine but you will need to make sure you have some extra fans in there because heat will kill your performance in seconds and eventually even kill your pc. Going for the fancy water cooling systems is a sure way to fix those problems but if you intend to build you own pc and it's your first time setting the coolant system up is not that easy.


    If you opt out of a cooling system and just want to stick with a normal case this is what in my opinion you need to look out for. Firstly the build of the case you want to be able to extract warm air out of the pc as fast as possible and blow in cooler air with another fan, I believe a important aspect these case designers forget is that warm air rises and cool air drops.


    So a very nice case design from cooler master is where you have your PSU sitting at the bottom instead of the top why do they put PSU's at the top beats the hell out of me cause all the hot air goes upwards and it does affect your PSU and the hotter that runs over time your pc will just start evolving numerous problems. so find a case where you can install the PSU at the bottom just about all dedicated servers have there PSU at the bottom have you ever notice that? So with the PSU at the bottom you will have a vent at the top where all the hot air that wasn't extracted will be extracted.


    In most cases you would see two vents for fans 1 at the back of your pc and 1 on the side the one at the back can basically only be used for extracting hot air if your PSU is at the top because your PSU will be extracting hot air which basicly gets sucks back into the pc if you use your back vent as a fan to blow cool air into the pc, but now if it's at the bottom you can make your side fan extract hot air to the side of the pc and the back vent extract cool air into the pc which will also be directly onto your CPU fan and your top vent extract hot air out.


    So in short you can cut corners with your Case just look at the designs and layout of the case before you buy I never liked water cooling they just to dam expensive so this method has brought my own pc from having numerous hard dive failures an so forth due to heat to zero downtime.


    Regarding your OS windows 7 in all it's glory suck, but using linux as a gaming operating system might give you grey hair due to incompatibilites with certain games and even programs. My personal opinion would be to download a free operating system for now there are a couple out there and they also good and in the same line as linux but free and just wait for Microsoft to release there latest OS which would most likely happen sometime during the year if you do get into problems with the os then you can always buy windows 7 later on but do get profesional version cause the standard edition is just horrible to use or work with.


    Also consider a 64bit operating system it has it's downsides in regards to compatibility with certain apps but you can really use a lot more ram than your average 32bit os and upgrading your ram to 16GB would make a world of difference.

  • he must use 64 bit OS as he want 8GB of RAM. also 500W PSU is sufficient for GT550. only for high-end cards like geforce 570-580 is recomended 600W PSU. for playing windows game linux. you can try wine. but it can be incompatible and buggy.

  • Thank you all for the wonderful advice! I think I may end up going with the 2500k core instead of the 2400, depending on how other costs weigh out. @user posting about 2 machines, that actually is a good idea, how much ram, cpu power and ghz would the server need to run smoothly with around 3 people on?


    @ Conraad I noticed you didn't think my video card wouldn't cut it. Any suggestions on what I should get? I really can't spend over $200, but I am willing to go higher than the current model.
    I've thought about cooling, how many fans should I go with. I didn't put it in the list, but I plan on buying a second fan to supplement the psu fan.


    EDIT: Any advice on water cooling units? If I go with the 2500k cpu, I'll want to overclock, and certainly don't want to fry it.

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • EDIT: Any advice on water cooling units? If I go with the 2500k cpu, I'll want to overclock, and certainly don't want to fry it.


    There's a few sealed and self-contained water cooling units out there. I know Corsair has a few variants, namely the H50, H70 and H100 for various prices. (though based on a quick look it appears the newer H70 has basically replaced the H50 for the same price)
    However if you don't want to mess with water than the CoolerMaster Hyper-212 Plus has good reviews (plus it's not super thick like some either) and if noise turns out to be an issue you can replace the fan easy enough.
    In general what I hear from the reviewers and experts is a good air system can just about equal a water system and be less of a hassle.
    Granted installing any of those is going to be interesting in different ways. Water for dealing with the hoses and air for dealing with the large tower and back plate together. You'll want to install the cooler before the motherboard goes in unless you got a case with a door on the motherboard plate.

  • Thanks Ook, really appreciate it. I think I'll end up going with the hyper 212 Now, I've never done this before, so is there anything special I need to know about installing an -aftermarket fan? What do I do with the stock fan? Is there any use for it? Maybe use it in another port for the case? no idea.


    EDIT: Found a REALLY good deal on the i5 2500k, for only $200 including shipping, brand new and sealed. Definitely going with that model. Will probably go with the hyper 212 for cooling, unless I find something else.

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • I like your settings but I would prefer a nvidia video card over that asus.
    And for a 3 slot server you dont need much.
    I can handle and play minecraft with a 20 slot server running bukkit and I have a crappy toshiba sattelite laptop with a pentium 2 core processor and 3 gb ram.
    If I had money I would go for an i7 extreme processor and 16 gb ram ( I have right here a really really really old desktop with 256mb ram and a processor that takes 1 hour to open windows xp waiting for some changes)
    Hope I helped

  • any reason besides personal preferences why you would go with nvidia instead of asus?
    I would love to have an extreme i7 processor and 16 gigs, but don't have the money either :(

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • any reason besides personal preferences why you would go with nvidia instead of asus?
    I would love to have an extreme i7 processor and 16 gigs, but don't have the money either :(

    Nvidia's have a easier time being adjusted to suit the user's preferences. I use an Intel processor, but would go Nvidia in a heartbeat.

  • Ok, any recommendations for an equivalent video card to the one I've chosen (price that is)?

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • Are you still considering another system for your server? If not, that main computer is enough to handle playing games while running the server. Is the server going to be 24/7 or what? As for the graphics card, are you leaning towards a Nvidia or Ati card?


    EDIT:With that kind of setup, you can get a rather decent card for a fair price, but would you mind finding your other parts like keyboard, mouse and such, you round the price up.


    Seeing that you found a decent price for the 2500k for $200, that is great. And that motherboard is awesome.


    Original Build : $480
    ---------------------------------------
    Motherboard: Gigabyte Z68 $160
    CPU: i5 2500k $200
    Case: CM Case $50
    RAM: Corsair 8GB $50
    Optical Drive: LG 24x $20


    ---------------------------------------
    CPU Fan: Hyper 212+ $30
    HDD: Hitachi 500GB $70
    PSU: XFX Core Pro 550W $70 (My choice)
    ---------------------------------------
    CPU Fan + HDD + PSU = $650 Total


    If you want a Nvidia Card, then I suggest a GTX 460. (460>550)
    For a ATI Card, get a 6850.
    The 460 and 6850 should be around the 120-150 price range.
    460 and 6850 perform almost the same at stock speeds.
    Or if you dont mind dishing out a little for a better card for a 6870 or 560. (560 being in the $190+ while a 6870 in the $160+)


    Graphics Card overclocking:
    If you plan to overclock your graphics card, then get the 460. OC 460 will perform better than 6850.


    EDIT: Hmm..Need keyboard, mouse, and monitor, possibly OS.


    Decide what kind of monitor resolution you want, then we can decide what kind of graphics card to get.
    As for OS, you were going to go with Linux.
    In my recent build, I built an AMD Phenom for $600 because, I was on a budget and it performs like butter.
    I wanted to save some money and I went with Linux(Ubuntu) for a week. While Linux is very configurable to the users taste (your in control of the os(YOU ARE THE OS), but I just couldn't get the hang of it and some windows games that I wanted to play refused to work with Linux. I've used it before a while back, but never got to learning the possibilities of it. As for gaming with Linux, someone mentioned earlier that Desura is a possible replacement for Steam. Desura is like the Steam version for Linux. As of the moment Desura doesn't have that much games, but its a good replacement for steam if you go with Linux. Anways...As I was saying earlier, because I couldn't get the hang of Linux I went ahead an go Windows 7 as it was easier for me. Windows gaming on Linux. I used Wine when I was on Linux for windows gaming. Wine allows you to play windows games on Linux. For me some games worked and some didn't. Some games are compatible with Wine and some aren't.

    Phenom II x4 965 @ 3.9 GHz | Asrock 970 Extreme3 | 12GB G-Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 | Sapphire Flex HD 6870 @ 1000/1100 | Seagate Barracuda 500GB HDD | Hyper 212+ | OCZ Fatal1ty 550w PSU | NZXT Gamma Classic

  • For the server, no it's is not going to be 24/7, just when my buddies and I get together to play ic2.


    I'm honestly not seeing why the 460 is any better than the 550. In fact, it looks like the 550 is better. That and the 550 has a hdmi port, while the 460 has a mini-hdmi


    @your edit: I plan on getting linux to start myself off, then when I have a bit more extra cash, going with windows 7 for my op system.


    EDIT: AS for a monitor and keyboard, I plan on getting a used monitor, and getting something very cheap for a keyboard. Don't have to worry about a mouse or speakers though.

    I5 2500K | 4GB Cosair Vengence | Radeon 6850 | Rosewill 600w PSU | GigaByte Z68MA | CM Elite 311 | Dell 19" 720p (upgrading soon!)| Hitachi 500 GB 7200 HDD | LG 24X |Windows 7 (Genuine!)
    Alblaka in a Lightning Rod suggestion thread...[/size]

  • For the server, no it's is not going to be 24/7, just when my buddies and I get together to play ic2.


    I'm honestly not seeing why the 460 is any better than the 550. In fact, it looks like the 550 is better. That and the 550 has a hdmi port, while the 460 has a mini-hdmi


    @your edit: I plan on getting linux to start myself off, then when I have a bit more extra cash, going with windows 7 for my op system.

    The HDMI and mini-HDMI has no difference in quality
    (from my experience and some other people) , all you need is an adapter for mini-HDMI to standard HDMI.
    The 460 1gb will perform about 20% faster than the 550.
    Browsed around and looked at prices, The 550 will perform fine for its price.
    If you don't mind an extra 20-30 and an ATI card, then get a 6850.
    6850>460>550.

    Phenom II x4 965 @ 3.9 GHz | Asrock 970 Extreme3 | 12GB G-Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 | Sapphire Flex HD 6870 @ 1000/1100 | Seagate Barracuda 500GB HDD | Hyper 212+ | OCZ Fatal1ty 550w PSU | NZXT Gamma Classic

  • Thanks Ook, really appreciate it. I think I'll end up going with the hyper 212 Now, I've never done this before, so is there anything special I need to know about installing an -aftermarket fan? What do I do with the stock fan? Is there any use for it? Maybe use it in another port for the case? no idea.


    EDIT: Found a REALLY good deal on the i5 2500k, for only $200 including shipping, brand new and sealed. Definitely going with that model. Will probably go with the hyper 212 for cooling, unless I find something else.


    Nothing that isn't in the instructions. Although I never peeled off the sticky bit on the base plate on either cooler i've had. glad I have too, made switching easier.
    They're reasonably straightforward to install, it's just a bit on the fiddly side given how generic the x piece has to be. Just be sure to take your time and get them all threaded before you really screw them down.
    Though you may want to spend a bit on some decent thermal paste as I rather forget if the package includes any or not. (the box doesn't say)


  • Nothing that isn't in the instructions. Although I never peeled off the sticky bit on the base plate on either cooler i've had. glad I have too, made switching easier.
    They're reasonably straightforward to install, it's just a bit on the fiddly side given how generic the x piece has to be. Just be sure to take your time and get them all threaded before you really screw them down.
    Though you may want to spend a bit on some decent thermal paste as I rather forget if the package includes any or not. (the box doesn't say)

    What? You didn't remove the protective film from the cpu fan plate?


    Anyways, if you get an aftermarket fan, there should be a protective film at the base plate, and some thermal paste that comes with it. Assuming you're going to get the Hyper 212+( which is the same one i have for my build) there will be some thermal paste which will work just fine, or you can buy a different thermal taste.
    When installing the 212+, remove the protective film and apply the paste onto the base copper plate then just set onto the cpu and follow directions. That's as far as I can help you if you're going to install the 212+, because mines was for an AMD cpu, a little different installation than with an Intel chip because with an amd chip you have to use the backplate as well and im too lazy to dig out my installation manual. You can just store stock cooler in a nice little box for whenever your 212+ happens to fail/die on you for whatever reason and use the stock cooler or use it on a different computer.


    As for applying thermal paste, when you're going to apply the paste just squeeze a tiny amount of the paste on the cpu or cpu fan, although you would be better off putting the paste onto the cpu fan. Tiny amount as in the size of a grain of rice, and then take a credit card or some sort and spread the paste as evenly as possible.
    Theres not really a correct a way to apply paste for the 212+ since it has a different base plate than most aftermarket fans. There are a couple of guides out there that shows some ways to apply paste to a 212+. For mine, I applied a small amount of paste onto the copper lines then a a dot of paste in the middle evenly spread out.


    You can also put a dot of paste onto the plate then set the fan on top of the cpu and let the pressure spread the paste for you.

    Phenom II x4 965 @ 3.9 GHz | Asrock 970 Extreme3 | 12GB G-Skill Ripjaws DDR3-1600 | Sapphire Flex HD 6870 @ 1000/1100 | Seagate Barracuda 500GB HDD | Hyper 212+ | OCZ Fatal1ty 550w PSU | NZXT Gamma Classic

  • What? You didn't remove the protective film from the cpu fan plate?<snip>


    think other end, the part that goes under the motherboard. There's something peel off to make it stick but I opted not to do that for ease of later removal.