Budget Gaming Rig

Monday, May 30, 2011

Leo wants a budget gaming rig. He already has his eyes set on a specific 19" wide monitor and he isn't sure what kit to grab. His needs are definitely different from mine, but I did offer to configure a system for him. I recommended going to a local computer stores so if ever a part breaks down warranty replacements or repairs don't put a strain into his tight work schedule. Prices are based off current published prices of Enigma and PC Hub. Here goes...

AMD Athlon II X3 445 Rana 3.1 GHz 3x512 KB L2 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Desktop Processor - Retail ADX445WFGMBOXAMD AM3 ATHLON II X3 445 3.1 GHZ   3,560
According to the Steam Hardware survey only around a quarter of Steam gamers use a quad-core processors and another quarter use single-core CPU's. More than half use dual-core. considering that fact, it could be said that in terms of gaming, dual-cores are more than capable of playing most of current games. Consider also that the hexa-cores from both Intel and AMD were released in the months closing the previous year. Adoption is going to take a while and so will games that will take advantage of 6-core architecture. My rule of thumb? With those facts considered, either get a triple-core or quad-core processor. Since I'm configuring a budget gaming rig, I chose the Athlon II X3 445. This was released around a year ago, but it is still very capable processor. Check out the review on LegitReviews.com. Depending on your luck even, you may be able to unlock a 'fourth core' on this one. This bang-for-the-buck processor is going to be great for multi-threaded games and applications, with actual performance middling between dual-core and quad-core.

ASRock Socket AM3/AMD 880G/Hybrid CrossFireX/A&V&GbE/MATX Motherboard 880GM-LEASROCK 880GM-LE 3,090
This motherboard has a nice balanced blend of features for the price. It's got ACC (Advanced Clock Calibration) for when you want to try to unlock extra cores. It comes packaged with Asrock's Turbo UCC, an pre-boot application that helps you unlock cores and overclock without mucking around with the BIOS. It even comes with OC DNA, a Windows applciation that helps you overclock while in Windows. It's ready to take Phenom II hexa-cores when you're ready to upgrade and is Hybrid Crossfire compatible.

4GB GeIL PC3-12800 1600MHz Value Plus CL9 Dual Channel kit (2x2GB)GEIL 4GB DDR3 PC10600/1333 1,910
I recommend Geil for this build as it is one of the lowest priced branded RAM. Geil has been around for a few years as well, so I'd rather go with Geil than other new and unproven brands. Add to that, friends tell me they overclock quite well. I don't void warranties as much as they do. I overclock after the warranties are over! Anyway, great brand to go with, even if you're going with their value line. They're solid and stable. They're not expensive. They've had years in experience making memory. These are all pluses for me.

Seagate Barracuda 7200 500 GB 7200RPM SATA 3Gb/s 16MB Cache 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive ST3500418AS-Bare DriveSEAGATE 500GB 7200 SATA 2,170
Seagate is the only hard drive manufacturer to ever go out on a limb and say they guarantee their products for 5 years. It takes a lot of cajones to do that. I've never had a Seagate fail on me and I''l stay with them until proven wrong. 500GB is currently the sweet spot in terms of price and provides a lot of headroom for storing those saved games. Now, one thing that helps with speed is the thinnness of thi particular model. Since all it's 500GB's are in just one platter, you can imagine how dense the storage is for this one. That means accessing the data won't take as long as with previous drives since the space in between data has been cut short. So just remember to use the first 300GB's as this is where the prime real estate is. Data is read the fastest in these first 300GB's.

Sapphire Radeon HD 5570 - 1 GB DDR3 HDMI/DVI-I/VGA PCI-Express Graphics Card 100293LSAPPHIRE HD5570 1GB DDR3 128BIT 2,995    
A great mid-range card that's great for moderate gaming. It supports Direct X11. It's got HDMI, DVI and VGA Connectors. It's got a slim and low profile. It supports AMD's Stream Technology, so you can use the teraflops of computing  power in your video card on stuff like video encoding or transcoding. The computing power that GPU's have these days make them ideal for being re-purposed for other computation heavy tasks like that.  It also supports physics processing to make the watter ripples, car crashes and hair movement more realistics in finer details. It supports Dolby 7.1 sound on it's HDMI connector. Head on over to OverclockersClub.com for their review of the HD 5570

New Thermaltake W0294RU Litepower 80Plus 500W Active PFC Power Supply Dual +12V Output CircuitTHERMALTAKE 500W Litepower 80 Plus PSU  2,200
Power supplies tend to be the last to be considered in a build. Often people go with cheap power supplies to be able to spend more on other components. But that kind of thinking leads to trouble. The smoking-burning kind of trouble. If you have an unreliable power supply, it can fry your expensive processor and motherboard, possibly burn your computer and cause a safety hazard for your home. Thermaltake is a well-known, very established brand. They have been making cooling products for years. In the last few years, they've expanded into cases and power supplies. For the most part, they have been consistent with the quality of their products. For a review of the Litepower series, check out OverclockersClub.com and HardwareSecrets.

Cooler Master Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case with Window (RC-430-KWN1)COOLER MASTER (RC-430) ELITE 430 1,950
This is an old case. But for the money it's selling for right now it's great! You can mount 120mm fans on the front and back of the case. It's got space for a couple more up on top. It's got a bottom mounting for the PSU, so cooling comes from the bottom of the case and goes straight out to the back. It's got a tool-free mechanical design to make it easy to add or removed drives. To appreciate it better, you'll need to head on over to Overclockers.com for their review of the unit.

So there you have it folks, what I would get for a budget gamig rig.

UPDATE: I got asked "what about the fragging device like mouse and keyboard? =)" . Here's what I would get:


NiallM said...

I was making a similar budget rig and i was wondering if ASRock 880 can unlock the 4th core of the Athlon II x3.

Ed said...

Hello, sorry for the late reply to the comment. Unlocking the 4th core on these processors has always been hit or miss. Any 880-based baord should be able to unlock the 4th core as long as the BIOS is equipped with ACC options. However, your mileage may vary. The extra cores for these models were disabled at the factory precisely because they didn't pass quality control. Most of the people who unlock them will come into stability problems or will only be able to run it at stock speed with the extra core unlocked. If you're lucky, it'll be stable and you'll be able to overclock the heck out of it.

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