Comprehensive Gaming PC Guide Discussion - IV

Games, Gaming and Hardware
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The guide can be found here, in table of contents form. The 3rd revision guide will be continue to be updated as needed.

Last Updated: October 22nd, AMD FX Piledriver-based (Vishera) CPUs added. AM3+ Motherboards added.


** Table of Contents **

1. CPU:

2. CPU Cooler + Motherboard + RAM:

3. Graphics Card + Power Supply:

4. Hard Disk + SSD + DVD Burner + Case + OS:

5. Monitor + Keyboard/Mouse/Speaker:

6. Addendum:
* 1: ("When To Upgrade?" Advice)

* 2: (Recommended Builds for TL;DR Crowd)

* 3: (Recommended Gaming Laptops & Advice)

Bonus! Comprehensive Overclocking Guide by Mÿxxï of Korgath server:



Driver Resource Links:

These are provided for users that buy parts on their own.

* Motherboard *:

You will always want to download latest version from the vendors instead of relying on the CD that came with the motherboard. At most, all I would install out of the motherboard driver CD is the ethernet drivers.

Each motherboard vendors have their own way of presenting the motherboard download pages. Most of them will let you get ones for your motherboard by going to a page for your motherboard model.

For example, let's say you have ASRock Z77 Extreme3. Then this page would have the drivers and BIOS updates for that motherboard:

Click the Downloads / BIOS link on the left.

Here are the list of links to major motherboard vendors.

- ASRock:
- Biostar: (Main) (USA)
- Gigabyte: (Main) (USA)
- MSI: (Main) (USA)

Once you are at the correct page, you will want these drivers downloaded at minimum:

1. Chipset drivers
2. SATA drivers (RAID not necessary)
3. USB 3 drivers
4. Ethernet and Audio drivers (usually Realtek, but may be others such as Broadcom / VIA)
5. (Intel users) Intel Management Engine drivers / Intel Rapid Storage Device drivers

Others are optional, depending on your needs.

For more adventurous types, you can find bleeding-edge drivers elsewhere, directly from OEM companies themselves.

- Intel drivers: Intel chipset / Ethernet (some models) / Intel HD graphics drivers can be found directly from Intel download center. Interface is unintuitive, but once you get a hang of it, you can get the absolute bleeding-edge drivers for those.

- Ethernet and Audio drivers for Realtek: Realtek releases a new audio / ethernet drivers once every month (not always, but usually). Not sure what improvements these make, but it's there for you to take if you want.



- Ethernet for Broadcom: Cheaper motherboards often come with Broadcom ethernet ports.

- Audio for VIA: Really cheap motherboards use VIA audio chipsets.

- Some motherboards have third-party SATA controllers in addition to Intel. They are usually of Marvell variety. However, this should only be done if you know exactly which Marvell controller you have. I recommend you leaving these alone and just go with whatever motherboard vendor gives you.

- USB 3.0 drivers/firmware for Renesas (NEC): Many USB 3.0 chipsets on motherboards are powered by Renesas (NEC). You can't find the latest drivers from either related sites, but this site has up-to-date drivers/firmware for USB 3.0 chipset on most motherboards. Do check the version number of the current USB 3.0 drivers, and match it up with the version on the webpage below. There are two different distinct chipsets with different driver tree (2.x branch and 3.x/4.x branch. 3.x/4.x branch is NOT an upgrade from 2.x branch!).

* Video Cards *:

You should never install drivers that came on the CD with your graphics card. Always get latest version from respective company websites.

GeForce users:
Radeon users:



Historic archives of previous guides / discussions:

Original that began it all:

Second revision:


The 3rd revision thread will not be remade in whole unless I find a need for an extra post space.

You can discuss here, until 500th cap again!
How do I force the voltage to run at a safe level?
Bios is up to date.

Instead of automatic for CPU VCore, you should be able to set it to a manual level.
I really don't like correcting you as much as one would think, but I dunno if anyone else would catch this.. (it's not terrible)
06/03/2012 08:43 PMPosted by Kalganized
However! If you are an AMD user -- and you are using AM2+ at least (Plain AM2 does not apply!), you can simply upgrade the CPU only (Athlon II / Phenom II only, provided BIOS supports it), but you will have to look through used shops finding old AM2+ compatible Phenom IIs. While you can do this, since AM2+ is likely using DDR2 RAM, it's recommended to just get a new Intel CPU + motherboard combination, unless money is very short.
There's very few cases where this would matter, but I think the compatibility info here may be backwards. As far as what I've encountered and read about, I don't think there were any Phenom II cpus that can't work in an AM2+ socket (although many OEM AM2+ boards can't handle 125W units and/or don't support Thuban-based models - which may be what you meant). Checking for specific compatibility was probably the point.... and that was accomplished, I'm just picky over the details :)
Socket AM3 breaks compatibility with AM2/AM2+ by having an extra pin, but I believe part of the specification of AM3 processors is that they have memory controllers supporting both DDR2 and DDR3. The vast majority of Phenom II units are classified as AM3 processors, which implies backward-comparability with AM2+ sockets. However, a very small number of Phenom II x3/x4 CPUs are listed as AM2+ processors (920, 940, 715), because they lack the ability to work with DDR3 - and thus can only be used in AM2+ sockets.

As far as plain AM2 sockets go, compatibility there is exactly how it is with running bulldozer on AM3: AMD did not intend for it to work and does not "qualify" the CPUs to work on that socket - but that can't stop motherboard makers from allowing it to work with a bios update.
Running DDR2 is not really much of a drawback here either, with the way these processors prefer low latency over bandwidth... but given the advancement in recent years as far as motherboards' features and pure capability, I'd say your advice is valid regardless.

Condensed version: per spec, all Phenom IIs should be "AM2+ compatible" - but if you were referring to AM2+ motherboards being limited in their support for Phenom IIs... that's true.
Yeah, from condensed version, I meant the latter -- and it's safe to look for ones that are specifically mentioned for AM2+ unless user knows for sure 100% that the motherboard supports 125W units / Thuban models.
Anything to say to improve this build price-wise? I do not intend to overclock. I also will not buy SSD for now.

Case :
Motherboard :
OS :
Power Supply :
Graphic Card :
If you won't OC, and you won't SLi/XFire, you can save bundles going with B75 motherboard instead of Z77.

That 7850 is bit iffy because 7870 can be had for just a little more, while having noticeable headroom with GPU overclocking.

If you won't play very demanding 3D games, you can downgrade to HD 6870 / GTX 560, and use the saved money to buy a 120/128GB SSD.
08/10/2012 09:35 AMPosted by Kalganized
I meant the latter
Someday maybe I'll be able to write a condensed version without the other :)
I didn't even know the AM2+ version existed until someone wanted to buy a motherboard from me because he had one. I guess they released those first and it was a couple months before they started all being AM3.... AMD tries to make everything so easy - but then they go and do weird stuff like that.

In the guide's defense, several 125w denebs require a "dual power plane" - which is a native AM3 feature but is apparently rare in AM2+ boards... and that sounds like compatibility to me.
Yeah. Few months ago, someone on the forums had an AMD AM2+ based Dell PC. She bought a Thuban. It didn't work.

So user needs to research if the motherboard that's in use specifically mentions support for 125W Denebs and Thubans. Otherwise, getting specifically mentioned AM2+ Phenoms is a safe way to go.
Would I need to change the Power Supply to fit the 7870 ?
So I'm trying to build my own for the first time. I've done a little reading and followed some of the advice I've come across and this is what I have so far.

CPU - Intel Core i5 3570K 3.4GHz LGA 1155 Processor
Motherboard - Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H LGA 1155 Z77 ATX
RAM - Crucial Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) (x2 4gb modules)
Graphics Card - EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti
Power Supply - Corsair Enthusiast Series TX750 V2 750
Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s
OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SATA 6.0GB/s
DVD Burner - Samsung 22X DVD±RW
Case - Cooler Master HAF912

I'd just like to have something that will last a few years at least. I don't plan on doing any overclocking etc. This will mostly be for MoP and maybe GW2.

Thanks for any advice.
If you won't do any overclock, get a i5-3450 CPU with B75 motherboard, which will shave considerable amount of $ off of the total price.

750W is overkill for a single GPU setup. Recommending 600W at most, 80 Plus Bronze certified.
First off, thanks for the quick reply.

Would this work together ? The only thing I noticed is that this second board is a micro ATX so I wasn't sure if that would cause any issues with the HAF912 case.

CPU - Intel Core i5 3450 3.1GHz LGA 1155 Processor

Motherboard - GIGABYTE GA-B75M-D3V LGA 1155 Intel B75

Power Supply - Corsair Enthusiast Series TX550M 550
HAF 912 will handle microATX just fine.

I recommend PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 500W, or SeaSonic 520W for power supply actually.
Thanks for your help Kalganized, I've just got my new PC up and running and I'm very happy indeed with the results. Your guide certainly helped me in deciding what parts to get and the whole thing came in $200 under my original budget. Very pleased.
Is GTX 660 Ti going to change the recommendations any?
Depends on the reviews I see.
Rumors say it performs slightly below the HD 7950 (~$350).

The official price is $300, which means it competes currently with Radeon HD 7870 (~$280).

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