Comprehensive Gaming PC/Laptop Buying Guide

Games, Gaming and Hardware
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Build 2: Best build for good gaming without spending big $

CPU: Pentium G630 or i3-2120
Motherboard: Either ASRock H61M/U3S3, or Biostar H61MGC
RAM: Any 2 x 2GB RAM (or 2 x 4GB RAM) while keeping my notes (DDR3-1333, 1.5v)
Graphics: Radeon 6870 or GeForce 560
Power Supply: PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 500W
SSD: Optional
Hard Drive: Cheap 500GB
DVD Drive: Cheap DVD burner
Case: Either HEC case listed above, or HAF 912 case

Estimated cost: ~$572 ~ $670
+SSD cost if you choose to add an SSD. In this case, you MUST choose the ASRock board.
Estimated FPS in WoW: ~40+

alright first off thanks for this thread, secondly, you put about two options for each item, does it matter which or is it really just preference? also, is the ssd really worth the extra money? and finally you estimate that fps will be 40+ would that be on high settings and in cities/raids or no?
SSD is worth it if you like things to load like BAM!
Beachumx: The estimated FPS is ultra (shadows high) with raiding/cities

The "or" is preference/depending on your budget, but for the motherboard, if you are buying an SSD, you must buy the ASRock board, as the Biostar board does not have SATA III support.

So after watching some of the PC building videos, a bit worried. I have one hand and 2 fingers to use to build a PC, is that reasonably doable when putting your own together? Given that I have little control over my damaged hand, quite worried I would botch it.

It might be hard, but it is possible -- the most difficult part I would surmise, is to align the screws with a whole while keeping it aligned. I would ask someone to assist you just in case.
Integrated graphics cards do not have their own RAM (they must leech off of main system RAM), they have severely limited performance due to a small size since they must take up valuable space in a CPU or motherboard. They also do not have their own power source.

1. Having to communicate with the main system RAM (which is shared by the system) is significantly slower than having your own dedicated RAM with exclusive pathways to it.

2. Since they can't afford to put any big heatsinks/fans on the motherboard, any integrated graphics on motherboard is physically smaller (as well as far less complex to keep the heat down), which leads to significantly less performance.

3. In case of a CPU, well... it's sharing the space with the CPU portion. This severely limits just how powerful a graphics portion can be.
9500 GT is very old at this point, and current equivalent card to 9500 GT are:

Radeon HD 6450 / GeForce GT 530
Well, in terms of the 9500 GT's position when it was new, the equivalent position would be held by Radeon 6770 / GeForce 550 Ti
You want to know list of entire lineup of Radeon / GeForce cards of this generation?
In absolute performance terms, and cards are listed in order of lesser power -> higher power in that bracket.


[Market the card aims for]: [Weaker card] / [More stronger card] = [Same performance] / [Even stronger card] ...

Highest-end (top of the food chain): Radeon 7950 (Overclocked) = Radeon HD 7970 / GeForce GTX 680
* Dual-card solutions: GeForce GTX 590 / Radeon HD 6990

High-end (high-level): GeForce GTX 580 / Radeon HD 7950 = Radeon HD 7870 (Overclocked)

High-end (mid-level): Radeon HD 7870

High-end (entry-level): Radeon HD 7850 / Radeon HD 6950 (Unlocked Shader + Overclocked) = Radeon HD 6970 (production halted) = GeForce GTX 570 / Radeon HD 7850 (Overclocked)

Mid-range (high-level): Radeon HD 6950 (production halted) = GeForce GTX 560 Ti / GeForce GTX 560 Ti 446 Core Edition

Mid-range: Radeon HD 6870 (production halted) = GeForce GTX 560

Mid-range (entry-level): Radeon HD 6850 (production halted) / Radeon HD 7770

Entry-range (high-level): Radeon 6750 / Radeon HD 7750 = Radeon HD 6770 = GeForce GTX 550 Ti / Radeon HD 6790

* Below this level, the Radeon "7000" series are just rebrands of 6000 series. In addition, they will not be available for purchase in retail channels.

Entry-range (mid-level): Radeon HD 6570 = GeForce GT 545 / Radeon HD 6670

* Below this level is barely good enough for gaming.

Entry-range: Radeon HD 6350 / Radeon HD 6450 = GeForce GT 520
Building your own is best the best option, but how much of a gamble is it buying a refurb from Newegg, and then upgrading the usual suspects like power supply and graphics card?
Refurbished generally means they did test it to ensure it works, but it's a crap shoot like it is with new hardware. :X

Not a bad idea though, if you're REALLY tight on budget. come your text isn't green yet?
Refurbished generally means they did test it to ensure it works, but it's a crap shoot like it is with new hardware. :X

Not a bad idea though, if you're REALLY tight on budget.
Well, ok. For the sake of critique: decent, but I'm admittedly out of the loop on what's good these days. And I'm gonna upgrade soon and will prolly end up building my own, but for a lot people DIY is still kind of daunting. come your text isn't green yet?

I wonder this every time I check this place. Green text or not, Kalganized your help is amazing.
I wouldn't bother with that. Due to AMD CPU -- APU at that -- upgrading graphics will not really help as you will be held back massively by the CPU.

It's better to get a system with Intel CPU in it -- ensure it's one of the CPUs I list in the CPU section of the guide.
Love the guide! Very well organized and informative!
You recently gave me some advice on a build I was planning for this summer...maybe June. Thanks again!

I have a couple questions about bottlenecking:

I live near a Micro Center and they have a CPU/Mobo bundle if I buy a "K" CPU (i5-2500K). If I choose to go with the i5-2500k over the less expensive i3-2120....this is my situation.

Newegg Prices (for reference):

i5-2500K - $219.99
i3-2120 - $127.99
Asrock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 Mobo - $121.99
XFX Double D Radeon 6870 - $149.99 (w/ rebate)

Now.....Micro Center:
15-2500k - $179.99
Asrock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 Mobo - $74.99

The Round-up:

The Micro Center bundle with the i5-2500K and the Asrock Gen3 Mobo = $254.98
------- saving about $80 off Newegg base prices ---------

The i3-2120 + Asrovk Gen3 Mobo off Newegg = $249.98


I know that is an amazing opportunity, but my question is whether the Radeon 6870 (which is the limit of my budget) is a good pairing with the I bottlenecking myself if I go with the overclocked quad-core?
Even if you're bottlenecking at the Radeon 6870 I would still get the i5 for only $5 more. Even if your gaming performance isn't any better, other stuff would be. Plus in a few years if you need to upgrade you could overclock you CPU and buy a better GPU.

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