1. #1
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    Gaming PC With Upgradeability - Advice Request

    I am currently using a very outdated Acer 7720G laptop. This has an Intel Core Duo Processor @ 2.00GHz, 4GB of RAM, with an ATI Mobility HD2300 GPU. I can play WoW on medium settings in 10-mans, but struggle to get anything over 15FPS in 25-mans.

    Ideally, I would like a rig that can play WoW on maximum settings, whilst also letting me FRAPS my gameplay. I would also like to play a lot more Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2, also at maximum settings. If at all possible, I would like a high degree of upgradeability from this rig, as I like the idea of being able to swap in new components every few months when my bank balance agrees.

    My budget is around £500-600 for the basic rig, i.e. I will happily splash out a few hundred pounds on upgrades (GPU, memory, SSD, etc) in the coming months, so I basically need something that can run WoW, as I have described above, for the time being.

    I have a few questions; some obvious, and some less so.

    1. Is building a desktop really as easy as people suggest it is? I have seen video tutorials, and must say that they make it seem very straight forward.
    2. I want the best 'bang for my buck', so which graphics card would I be best getting to run WoW on maximum settings, and allow me to FRAPS, whilst I save up for something more serious?
    3. If I am wanting to FRAPS a lot of gameplay, would an I7 be by far the better choice, or would an I5 be able to cope with this without any problems?

    That's all I can think of at the minute. If you could help me out here I would be massively grateful.

    Thanks a lot,

    Josh
    Last edited by Cathbad; 2012-06-29 at 09:01 AM.

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    1. Is building a desktop really as easy as people suggest it is? I have seen video tutorials, and must say that they make it seem very straight forward.
    Building is really that easy. But if something goes wrong troubleshooting at home can be hard because of lack of extra parts usable for diagnosing what's wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    2. I want the best 'bang for my buck', so which graphics card would I be best getting to run WoW on maximum settings, and allow me to FRAPS, whilst I save up for something more serious?
    Basically you want i5-2500K or the newer i5-3570K processor. Any quad core will run modern games and allow video capture, but WoW and other Blizzard games simply run significantly faster on Intel than AMD processors. Graphics card don't really matter that much for Blizzard games, but will make big difference for anything else. Decent entry level graphics card is still GTX460 or preferably Radeon 6870, but unfortunately those are both so expensive that it's gonna hurt in normal people's wallet to get one for few months before upgrading to something better.

    One strange but viable option would be playing with integrated video on i5-3570K for a month or two while saving money for real graphics card. It will be enough for WoW and D3 at medium settings just fine, but sucks for anything really demanding like BF3 for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    3. If I am wanting to FRAPS a lot of gameplay, would an I7 be by far the better choice, or would an I5 be able to cope with this without any problems?
    i7 will not offer any benefit for video capture, but has some benefit if you're going to process a lot of video for uploading. If the amount of material you want to youtube is closer to 1h/day than 1h/month, i7 might be worth it.


    Make sure to get fast internal HDD for video capture use, WD Caviar Black or Samsung Spinpoint F3.
    Last edited by vesseblah; 2012-06-29 at 09:30 AM.
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  3. #3
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    @vesseblah: First of all, thanks very much for some very useful information. If it would be a viable option to play without a graphics card for a couple of months, I may consider using the integrated controller on the processor. Am I right in thinking an IB has superior integrated graphics to a SB?

    Another question is regarding the case and motherboard. Here are two components that I'm unsure about. I really have no clue what I need when it comes to a motherboard, nor am I too sure what sort of case I'd need. Could someone explain in layman's terms, please?

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    Am I right in thinking an IB has superior integrated graphics to a SB?
    Yes. It's exactly because of the improved integrated graphics in IB that makes it viable option for gaming at medium-or-bit-lower settings. It's not great, but it beats for example the cheap-ass Radeon 5450 and Nvidia GT520 cards clearly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    Another question is regarding the case and motherboard. Here are two components that I'm unsure about. I really have no clue what I need when it comes to a motherboard, nor am I too sure what sort of case I'd need. Could someone explain in layman's terms, please?
    On motherboard side you need something based on Z77 chipset to take full advantage of IB and especially the integrated graphics. ASRock Z77 Extreme4 is very popular choice.

    Case is mostly up to personal tastes unless you want to tinker with stuff like custom water cooling or want the inside to look neat through side panel window. Further away you get from basic "slap parts together" computer build you never need to move around, the more you need to pay attention to the case. Cheap cases won't for example allow you to loop cables neatly behind motherboard.
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  5. #5
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    Thanks very much for your help, vesseblash. How does this build look? I'm clueless about the PSU or heatsink, though...

    MoBo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 - £109.99 from Amazon
    CPU: Intel i5 3570k - £179.92 from Amazon.co.uk
    RAM: G.Skill Sniper 1600Mhz 2x4GB - £44.56 from Amazon.co.uk
    GPU: To be bought in a few months...
    SSD: SanDisk 120GB Extreme Solid State Drive (2.5' SATA III 6Gb/s) - £79.98 from Amazon.co.uk
    HDD: Western Digital WD1002FAEX Caviar Black 1 TB 7200 RPM Internal Hard Disk Drive - £86.99 from Amazon.co.uk
    PSU: ADVICE PLEASE!
    Heatsink: ADVICE PLEASE!
    Case: Fractal Design Define R3 USB 3.0 Computer Case (Black) - £73.50 from Amazon.co.uk

    Total Cost (so far): £574.94

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    Thanks very much for your help, vesseblash. How does this build look? I'm clueless about the PSU or heatsink, though...

    MoBo: ASRock Z77 Extreme4 - £109.99 from Amazon
    CPU: Intel i5 3570k - £179.92 from Amazon.co.uk
    RAM: G.Skill Sniper 1600Mhz 2x4GB - £44.56 from Amazon.co.uk
    GPU: To be bought in a few months...
    SSD: SanDisk 120GB Extreme Solid State Drive (2.5' SATA III 6Gb/s) - £79.98 from Amazon.co.uk
    HDD: Western Digital WD1002FAEX Caviar Black 1 TB 7200 RPM Internal Hard Disk Drive - £86.99 from Amazon.co.uk
    PSU: ADVICE PLEASE!
    Heatsink: ADVICE PLEASE!
    Case: Fractal Design Define R3 USB 3.0 Computer Case (Black) - £73.50 from Amazon.co.uk

    Total Cost (so far): £574.94
    Change M/B to cheaper: AsRock Z77 Pro3

    PSU: XFX Pro 550W
    CPU-cooler: Mugen 3
    guchi ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

  7. #7
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    It looks good, but if you are looking to save some money here are some pointers:
    • It will be useless as a gaming machine without a proper GPU. The Intel HD 4000 can play modern games, but only at low settings and resolutions.
    • Grab a 2500k and a Z68 motherboard instead. It will most likely save you a few pounds and the performance drop is just around 7% per clock; nothing you will notice. I upgraded from a 2500k to a 3570k and I wish I hadn't.
    • Not sure about the SanDisk SSD. I'd pick a Samsung 830 instead. Cheap, reliable and very well recommended. Another good choice is Crucial M4.
    • A good, reliable PSU is the XFX CoreSeries/ProSeries 550W (OEM parts from Seasonic, based on the M12II). It usually goes for around £45-55. If you want a semi-modular PSU instead, I'd point at the Seasonic S12II.
    • You could run with the stock heatsink just fine. A cheap alternative is NZXT Havik or CM Hyper 212+. If you want the highest cooling performance, I'd recommend the NH-D14.
    • Good choice with the case!

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    @Marest: Cheers for the advice. Could you recommend a half decent GPU to go with the 2500k? As I've mentioned, I need something that will allow me to run WoW on maximum settings, whilst also letting me FRAPS gameplay. I can, and most probably will, upgrade to a beasty GPU in a few months so that I can play more GPU intensive games.

  9. #9
    Fluffy Kitten Marest's Avatar
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    Well, if you want something cheap-ish that can handle WoW just fine I'd probably side with a GTX 460 or a 6870. Shouldn't cost you more than £110 or so. For Fraps, the single most important thing is a dedicated HDD for recording. A 500GB Samsung Spinpoint F3 will do the job just fine given that you record at 1080p or lower.

    As for the GPU, in all honesty, there's little point to replace even a GTX 460 "in a few months" (unless you can sell it or use it in some other way/give it to a younger brother/friend/other family member) as it is still a fairly good card. If you want high-end, go for a Radeon 7850, 7870 or the soon to be released GTX 660.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for all of the advice, guys. If anyone else has anything to add that'd be great.

  11. #11
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    I am going to agree with what Marest said. I think it would even be worth it to ditch the SSD in order to get a 7850. If you can afford both, get the Crucial m4 128GB or samsung 830.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Marest View Post
    [*]It will be useless as a gaming machine without a proper GPU. The Intel HD 4000 can play modern games, but only at low settings and resolutions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Marest View Post
    As for the GPU, in all honesty, there's little point to replace even a GTX 460 "in a few months" (unless you can sell it or use it in some other way/give it to a younger brother/friend/other family member) as it is still a fairly good card. If you want high-end, go for a Radeon 7850, 7870 or the soon to be released GTX 660.
    That was also my point in suggesting running the computer few months with integrated IB graphics to allow buying graphics card later, as that was what the OP asked for. Of course if there's enough money to get R6870 now SB+Z68 is better choice.

    Quote Originally Posted by hapylol View Post
    I am going to agree with what Marest said. I think it would even be worth it to ditch the SSD in order to get a 7850.
    Pointless for Blizzard games. SSD will be much better improvement than going up in GPU. It will also allow frapsing to separate drive from boot/games.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cathbad View Post
    Case: Fractal Design Define R3 USB 3.0 Computer Case (Black) - £73.50 from Amazon.co.uk
    I have the same case (older USB2.0 model) and like it a lot. Only flaw with it is that you can't fit Corsair H100 or some other big water coolers in it properly. I have large air cooler though, and it works just fine.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesseblah View Post
    Pointless for Blizzard games. SSD will be much better improvement than going up in GPU. It will also allow frapsing to separate drive from boot/games.
    Umm going from an onboard GPU to a 7850 will not be pointless... Unless I missed something OP didn't plan on buying a GPU at the start. OP wouldn't be able to FRAPS on an onboard GPU.

    Lastly, an SSD has no place in a 500-600GBP build. While I would say SSD's are amazing, skipping a GPU to get one is stupid, plan and simple.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by hapylol View Post
    Umm going from an onboard GPU to a 7850 will not be pointless...
    You were agreeing with Marest said, and what Marest said was buy GTX460 or R6870. That implies you were suggesting R7850 instead of 6870 for a pointless $100 upgrade.

    Quote Originally Posted by hapylol View Post
    Lastly, an SSD has no place in a 500-600GBP build. While I would say SSD's are amazing, skipping a GPU to get one is stupid, plan and simple.
    Read the OP again. He was looking for suggestions on buying the computer piece by piece over time, including stuff like better graphics card and SSD few months later. Using integrated now and buying better graphics card later is better than buying crap card temporarily. Of course best solution would be buying better card now, but it also needs the most money up front.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vesseblah View Post
    You were agreeing with Marest said, and what Marest said was buy GTX460 or R6870. That implies you were suggesting R7850 instead of 6870 for a pointless $100 upgrade.



    Read the OP again. He was looking for suggestions on buying the computer piece by piece over time, including stuff like better graphics card and SSD few months later. Using integrated now and buying better graphics card later is better than buying crap card temporarily. Of course best solution would be buying better card now, but it also needs the most money up front.
    K i see where you are coming from sorry for the miscommunication.

    I personally would recommend ditching the SSD, getting a 7850 now, and getting the SSD later.

    I think it would be better to get a nice GPU now that can handle all current games and get a luxury item later.

  16. #16
    FWIW, my advice would be to hold off on the whole thing until you can afford a gfx card as well. A mid range one will probably do, then upgrade to another mid range one in a year or so when you find things you can't run. WoW has very modest requirements, and Crysis was the only one that went mental and added stuff nobody could run at the time. I've made the mistake before of spending for the sake of it, and when I later put together a build for the missus at about half the cost, I could barely see any difference... My rig and hers run games at full rate, but hers cost £450 (only reused component was the case) and mine cost well over a grand. Her games may turn down a setting one notch from the max, but I see no difference at all in gaming and day to day use. Quite annoying really.

    Long term upgradability is basically "graphics card" these days. Wait a few years between upgrades and meaningful upgrading means new mobo, CPU, RAM and probably SATA4 drives by then...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackmist View Post
    FWIW, my advice would be to hold off on the whole thing until you can afford a gfx card as well. A mid range one will probably do, then upgrade to another mid range one in a year or so when you find things you can't run. WoW has very modest requirements, and Crysis was the only one that went mental and added stuff nobody could run at the time. I've made the mistake before of spending for the sake of it, and when I later put together a build for the missus at about half the cost, I could barely see any difference... My rig and hers run games at full rate, but hers cost £450 (only reused component was the case) and mine cost well over a grand. Her games may turn down a setting one notch from the max, but I see no difference at all in gaming and day to day use. Quite annoying really.

    Long term upgradability is basically "graphics card" these days. Wait a few years between upgrades and meaningful upgrading means new mobo, CPU, RAM and probably SATA4 drives by then...
    It's a good idea to always hold on, since next year there will be newer components. . . oh wait.
    guchi ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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