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Old December 18, 2013, 09:08 PM
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Default A Light Gaming/School mITX Build for Under $600

Hi guys. I'm new to the forum, but I've been lurking for awhile and I was hoping for some good input from like-minded folk. I'm looking to build a light gaming, general purpose computer for school for under $600. I live in California, and prefer using Amazon (I have Prime shipping), but can work with NCIX or Newegg. I'm thinking it'll be a late Christmas present to myself, before Spring semester starts late January.

I need it to be snappy, with a lot of performance per dollar, but this is on a budget! The games I'm thinking are mostly Steam stuff, LoL, Humble Indie Bundle stuff, so like I said, pretty light gaming. Most of the time, it'll be used for writing papers (the girlfriend is working on her Masters) and light to medium audio and video processing (I'm a Music Performance major). Depending on how the build goes, I may build two more for the younger brothers.

I already put this together on PCPartPicker:

CPU: Intel Core i3-3240 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($118.78 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($86.38 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($91.78 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial M500 120GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($93.90 @ Amazon)
Video Card: Sapphire Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($103.37 @ Newegg)
Case: Antec ISK 310-150 Mini ITX Desktop Case w/150W Power Supply ($94.37 @ Newegg)
Total: $588.58

PCPartPicker part list: Intel Core i3-3240, Sapphire Radeon HD 7750, Antec ISK 310-150 - System Build - PCPartPicker
Price breakdown by merchant: Intel Core i3-3240, Sapphire Radeon HD 7750, Antec ISK 310-150 - System Build - Price Breakdown By Merchant - PCPartPicker
Benchmarks: Intel Core i3-3240, Sapphire Radeon HD 7750, Antec ISK 310-150 - System Build - Benchmarks - PCPartPicker

The Radeon 7750 was the smallest card I could find that is still half-decent. The case I chose can only take low-profile, single-slot cards. I'm also considering a Shuttle build, but I'm trying to keep this small and this is the smallest I could think of, without heading into the territory of Zotac and Atom CPU's...I still want the computer to, you know, not suck. For storage, the M500 is kind of a placeholder, I'd be willing to swap out for a cheaper 7200 RPM drive, I'm just trying to keep noise down and speed up. Thoughts? Suggestions?
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Old December 19, 2013, 05:50 AM
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dear goji,


IMO go for an i5 with just a bit more money you can get an i5 3330 for $212 (NCIX.ca prices) or 3350p (no intel graphics) for $193 ....it'll help in the audio/video processing....as for storage you can get an WD caviar black 500gb $77.13....

hey there's a free course on coursera.org (Introduction to music production) from the Berklee College of Music....you might be interested or not....


wow... masters degree and major degrees after my bachelors...my brain was fried from studying

good luck to you in your future endeavors...all the best

sincerely
mleunm
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Old December 20, 2013, 01:39 AM
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Thanks for the input. I wanted the i5 for the four physical cores, definitely would help for my stuff, but I don't need blazing speed. The i3-3240 has hyperthreading turned on so its actually not that bad, and the clock speed is decent. Eventually though, I'd like to upgrade the processor, which is why I went with the 1155 socket. Also, in a build this small I'm wary of TDP. If I upgrade the CPU down the road, I'll probably need to move to another case and power supply anyways. The p series is interesting, I didn't realize they had that. Something to consider.

The black drive is a decent option, I think I may just go with that. Or cannibalize the m4 SSD I have in my laptop and use that as a boot drive plus the black. Thanks for the course suggestion, I'm always up for free learning.

Anyone have ideas about the video card? I'm cool with just a little more oomph, just so long as it fits and doesn't exceed the 150 watt power supply.
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Old December 20, 2013, 03:52 AM
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Honestly your picks are pretty good, except the case powersupply combo. I would only run that power supply if you use integrated graphics. If you want a low-mid range dedicated graphics card get a solid 300-400w...seasonic oem are a great choice and usually pretty cheap a newegg.
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Old December 20, 2013, 07:38 AM
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dear goji,

if you go for an atx case you can install whatever graphics card and ps you want without having to worry about it if it fits...antec 300 II mid tower case ($55.00 ncix.ca) and you save money too...as for gpus there are a few that can be had for around 100 from amd and nvidia...e.g. gigabyte r7 250 (80.00)....and.....evga geforce 650 (120.00) ...you have a large selection to choose from....have fun with your build...

sincerely
mleunm
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Old December 20, 2013, 09:03 AM
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Same comment for the video card/case combo : if you don't want to drop the case, I would go with a real low profile video card, or one you can convert to low profile (in this case you ill need a hex M3 screwdriver). I am thinking along the likes of Radeon HD 6570/nvidia GT430. The GT430 is quite a good gamer when paired with an Intel CPU and if you limit yourself to 1280x720 resolution but make sure you don't go too crazy on the details. The case is a poor choice when it comes to fitting at least a half decent graphics card because the power supply will be overwhelmed. You could consider in this case an AMD APU with 65W TDP like the A8-5500. On the other side I played NFSHP2010 on the i3-3225 which has the HD4000 and it was acceptable at 1280x720. You could go with an Intel CPU that comes with the HD4600 and hope for the best. If not, I would really go the AMD APU route.
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Old December 22, 2013, 10:53 AM
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I appreciate the input guys. I've shuffled some stuff around, swapped out for a cheaper case with a 250 watt power supply and went for a cheaper black hard drive:

CPU: Intel Core i3-3240 3.4GHz Dual-Core Processor ($118.78 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASRock H77M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($86.38 @ Newegg)
Memory: Corsair Vengeance LP 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($91.78 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital BLACK SERIES 320GB 2.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($56.16 @ Amazon)
Video Card: XFX Radeon HD 7750 1GB Video Card ($104.17 @ Newegg)
Case: Apex MI-008 Mini ITX Tower Case w/250W Power Supply ($43.18 @ Amazon)
Total: $500.45

The XFX is a full height, true single-slot card. Does anyone have experience with the integrated 4000 graphics? If I make one for the little brother, I think I might just swap the 3240 for a 3245. He should be doing homework anyways, haha. I've seen the benchmarks, I know the 7750 is x-amount better than integrated graphics, I just want to know if anyone's had hands-on experience and if they're fine for less-demanding games. The little brother plays games like Super Meat Boy, not Crysis.
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Old December 22, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Amazon.com: WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache - WD10EZEX: Computers & Accessories
Get this harddrive instead, 3$ more but 1TB storage.

I think the general consensus is that you should probably switch out the PSU when you have some extra money.

If your younger brother isn't playing 3D games, the intel 4000 should do the trick.
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Old December 22, 2013, 11:43 AM
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APU system would perform well enough to run games like diablo 3 and starcraft. Even some FPS games on medium-low settings. Down the road you could crossfire with a video card and the APU too.

I just built a APU a8 6600 system that ran diablo maxed.
Gigabyte GA-F2A88XM-D3H Motherboard w/ Kingston HyperX red 8GB DDR3-1600MHz CL10 DIMM Bundle at Memory Express 160.00
Corsair CS Series 550W Modular Power Supply at Memory Express 90.00
Corsair Hydro Series H60 High Performance Liquid CPU Cooler at Memory Express 60.00
Cooler Master N200 Micro ATX Case, Black at Memory Express 60.00 amazing case
AMD A8-6600K APU, Black Edition 3.9GHz w/ 4MB Cache at Memory Express 115.00 8570D video card built in
Kingston SSDNow V300 Solid State Drive, 120GB at Memory Express 90.00

575 total plus tax.

I have an a8 6600 that has been used for about a month before I switched to a 5400. I originally purchased a refurb fm2 motherboard that turned out to be problematic and got another board that only uses the 5 series apu's... So I have an A8 6600 I'd be willing to part with for a 100 shipped if you're keen.
It comes with AMD's warranty for about another 9 months too.
Cheers

I'm sorry to say but my build will destroy the one you are looking at purchasing. That and you're only gonna pay one shipping price too.
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Last edited by clshades; December 22, 2013 at 12:13 PM.
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Old December 22, 2013, 12:22 PM
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I was going to suggest an APU as well. I've been happy with the performance of my A8-6500, and since you're looking at a standard PSU, keep your eyes open and you might find a 6800 on sale for just a few dollars more (would have only cost me an extra $10 when I bought mine, but at the time I was looking at a 150W brick PSU so I couldn't go with the higher power requirements).
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