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Gaming PC Builds of the Month: December 2011

December 2011 Gaming PC Builds: Quickly jump to…

Gaming PC Builds of the Month Introduction:

Build a kick but Gaming PC this Christmas / Holiday season –

Here you will find all of the Newb Computer Build Gaming PC Builds for the month for December 2011. All three (< $500, $500 – $1000, & $1000 – $1500) gaming builds are combined into this one article.

If you have any questions you may comment or send me a message via my contact form.

As per usual I have included all three Gaming PC Builds to best fit three specific budgets – less than $500, $500 to $1000, and $1000 to $1500. All of these builds include hardware chosen based on changed that have recently went on in terms of prices, releases, and reviews. Now for the first Gaming PC Build…



Monthly Gaming PC Build (< $500 ): December 2011

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

 Processor: Intel Core i3-2100 Processor 3.1GHz 3 MB Cache Socket LGA1155
 Motherboard: ASRock LGA1155/ Intel Z68/ DDR3/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard, Z68 PRO3-M
 Graphics Card: HIS Radeon HD 6770 1 GB (128 bit) GDDR5
 RAM: Kingston Technology HyperX Blu 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX
 Hard Drive: Western Digital 320 GB Caviar Blue SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive – WD3200AAKX
 Power Supply: Corsair Builder Series CX600 600 watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply
Computer Case: Onyx Pro ATX Mid Tower Desktop Computer Case, Black [ONP-X2-01]
 Optical Drive: LG Electronics GH22NS50 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive – Bulk with Software (Black)
Estimated Price: $ 533.70 (Over the $500 mark, but worth it!! Could wait until Hard-Drive prices drop as I am factoring in that they will *fingers crossed)

Overview: Gaming PC Build ( < $500 )

It seems that hardware prices have been wacky lately like all of the hard drive shortages pushing prices up as much as 150% as seen in this article here. Last months <$500 build has actually increased from its previous $503 to about $528 using the same hardware, so I had to make some changes.

This month I decided to go with the Core i3-2100 processor for the less than $500 gaming pc build. It seems that Tom’s Hardware has rated the Core i3-2100 to be the best gaming processor at around $122 for December. They have also suggested using a Phenom II X4 955 sine it can be easily overclocked, and better suited for multitasking, however since we are primarily concerned with gaming the i3-2100 seemed to be the best choice.

We are keeping the fantastic Radeon HD 6770 graphics card onboard for this build since it is still top of it’s class for this price range. The Corsair RAM from last month has been switched to a dual channel Kingston 4GB (Two 2GB sticks) as to take advantage of the dual channel memory for the same price.

As for the hard drive this month, I have decided to go with the Western Digital 320GB drive above priced at about $89. This is rather high for a hard drive (at this size especially), but unfortunately as I have discussed above hard drive prices are out the roof due to shortages right now.

So all in all, I did end up going over the $500 mark for this build, but I do think it is well worth it. I am trying to factor in that hard-drive prices will soon decrease in prices, so lets hope they do. Also I have included a pretty good bang for your buck computer case this month called the Onyx Pro.

Overview: The Gaming PC Hardware

Intel Core i3-2100 Processor 3.1GHz 3 MB Cache Socket LGA1155

Here is a nice little (but powerful) Intel Core i3 processor for this months build. This is a great budget CPU for this price range aimed right at great gaming performance.

Intel Core i3-2100 2 cores 3.1GHz clock speed 4 threads

ASRock LGA1155/ Intel Z68/ DDR3/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard, Z68 PRO3-M

For a Z68 Intel 1155 socketed motherboard, this ASRock is a great deal. The best part about it is that there is always room for expansions in the future. There are 4 RAM slots so you can easily add more than the 4GB provided in this build. The only downside I could see for thie board is the only 1x PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots, which just means you cannot add more than one graphics card to do SLI or Crossfire (which for a build in this range you most likely will never do!)

HIS Radeon HD 6770 1 GB (128 bit) GDDR5

The HIS Radeon HD 6770 is still the best gaming video card for approx. $110. I have used this card a few times as it is still simply one of the best bang for your buck graphics cards; again this is also what I use. This particular graphics card features Microsoft DirectX 11 Support, AMD Eyefinity Technology, AMD HD3D Technology, Advanced GDDR5 Memory Technology, 2nd Generation TeraScale Engine, and AMD CrossFireX Technology.

Kingston Technology HyperX Blu 4GB 1600MHz DDR3 Non-ECC CL9 DIMM (Kit of 2) XMP KHX1600C9D3B1K2/4GX

A cheap well rated 4GB (Two 2GB sticks) of Kingston memory. Nothing wrong with this! There is not much else to say, but that this RAM is priced to sell (cheesy?)

 

Western Digital 320 GB Caviar Blue SATA 6 Gb/s 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive – WD3200AAKX

Yep, so this 320GB hard drive is really around $89 at the moment. You ay buy this at this point in time or shop around for cheaper prices, but as I have said before the current hard drive shortage is boosting these prices out the roof (hence why I did not include a 1TB drive like last month). However, if you are going to buy a drive this month I say you can never go wrong with Western Digital.

 

Corsair Builder Series CX600 600 watt 80 Plus Certified Power Supply

There are two reasons I have chosen the Corsair Builder Series 600W PSU for the now…third month in a row: The Corsair Builder series rocks, and 600W is plenty of power. Plus the price on these babies have actually decreased significantly to the 30-40 dollar range, which is crazy for this quality and amount of power in a PSU.

Onyx Pro ATX Mid Tower Desktop Computer Case, Black

This  Onyx Pro case is a really affordable computer case. It is only about $19! It is a full ATX mid sized case, goog cooling capability, and plenty of rooms for expansion (5.25″ Drive Bay: 2 Exposed / 3.5″ Drive Bay: 1 Exposed, 2 Hidden and Six card slots for expansion)

 

LG Electronics GH22NS50 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive – Bulk with Software (Black)

The LG Electronics optical DVD drive is well…your typical optical DVD drive. It has a SATA connection, a data transfer rate of 22.15MBits/s and comes at a pretty price tag of $19.


Monthly Gaming PC Build ( $500 – $1000 ): December 2011

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

 Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K Processor 3.3GHz 6 MB Cache Socket LGA1155
 Motherboard: ASRock LGA1155/ Intel Z68/ DDR3/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard, Z68 PRO3-M
 Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 570 1280 MB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 2DVI-I/Mini-HDMI
 RAM: Corsair XMS3 8 GB (2 x 4GB) 1333 MHz PC3-10666 240-Pin DDR3 Memory Kit CMX8GX3M2A1333C9
 Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive
 Power Supply: Antec 750W Power Supply (EA-750 Green)
Computer Case: Cooler Master Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case with Window (RC-430-KWN1)
 Optical Drive: LG Electronics GH22NS50 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive – Bulk with Software (Black)
Estimated Price: $983.40 (right in budget!)

Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $500 – $1000 )

The $500-$1000 build was priced at around $1006 dollars last month, however like the previous build above, it is now slightly higher due to hardware price increases (it now prices in at $1077…craziness!) So let’s see what I can do to fix this for December…as I believe I have put together a really solid $500 – $1000 build this month; you would definitely be getting a great value for your money in my opinion.

Yet again the Intel i5-2500K kicks some serious gaming but, and is really the one and only processor that can punch out so much gaming power per price of the processor. The potential for this CPU is huge as the unlocked CPU multiplier makes this thing the best combination of over-clock-ability and gaming potential according to Tom’s Hardware.

I switched up the graphics card brand this month the an even higher reviewed brand – the EVGA Geforce GTX 570 – since the reviews of this thing are great.

So in order to bring the prices back down within our range of $500 – $1000 I made a few minor tweaks to this build. First: I chose a quality on sale package of Corsair 8GB RAM (two 4GB sticks) that is by far the best priced RAM anywhere, switch out the Samsung Spinpoint 1TB Hard Drive as the price was at a ridiculous $137 at the time of writing this article for a Western Digital $99 500GB Hard Drive instead and finally I swapped the previous ASRock Z68 Pro GEN 3 motherboard for its slightly cheaper brother – The ASRock Z68 Pro Pro3-M which saves about $21.

And last but not least I have changed the computer case to a Cooler Master Elite 430 computer case; it has a nice solid structure and screams of a gaming PC nature with a nice clear side window to show your hardware off.

Overview: Additions / Part Swaps

I have included these Additions / Parts Swap as these could be parts that may either be better suited for specific individuals, or those who can extend their budget a little further.

Note: Total Prices = Total for Whole Gaming PC Build with the addition / replacement.

This months addition / hardware swaps for the $500 – $1000 gaming pc build go over and above the $1000 allotted for this build (as they usually do). These are only suggestions and are here just in case you want to see some versatility to the already layed out gaming pc build.

This month since we are a tad under budget, there is more room to add other hardware to your build, so let’s take a look at some ideas.

You could add a OCZ Vertex Plus boot drive to boot your OS much more quickly as well as one or two of your favorite games. A Blu-Ray Writer optical drive such as the LG one listed below if you plan on watching Blu-Ray movies, making Blu-Ray copies along with gaming on your PC build. I added another  Hard Drive below, but seeing as prices are ridiculous I actually do not recommend purchasing another one yet (you can keep the idea handy though). And finally, you may add (double) your RAM by purchasing another Corsair memory kit making your PC have a total of 16GB of memory.

Add a SSD Boot Drive: OCZ Technology 60 GB Vertex Plus = ~$1062Total Price
 Add a Blu-Ray Optical Drive: LG Electronics WH12LS30 12X Blu-ray SATA Writer Drive  = ~$1068 Total Price
More Hard Drive Space: Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 1 TB 7200RPM SATA 6Gb/s with NCQ 32MB Cache 3.5 Inch   ~$1121 Total Price
 More RAM (16GB): Get 2X instead of one Corsair XMS3 8 GB (2 x 4GB) 1333 MHz PC3-10666 240-Pin DDR3 Memory Kit CMX8GX3M2A1333C9= ~$1017 Total Price

Overview: The Gaming PC Hardware

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor 3.3GHz

The Intel 2500K is still a beast, and the end all processor for any gaming pc build. This Intel Core i5 2500K processoris a great pick for a gaming pc build, because of it’s unclocked CPU multiplier. What this means is you can overclock this great Sandy Bridge gaming CPU to get it’s full potential. It has been said time and time again that this is the #1 choice of processor amongst gamers at this point in time. You could spend more and get the Intle i7-2600K, but for gaming purposes you will see a very little increase in performance.

ASRock LGA1155/ Intel Z68/ DDR3/ SATA3&USB3.0/ A&V&GbE/ MATX Motherboard, Z68 PRO3-M

This AsRock Pro3-M Motherboard is a slight decrease form last months ASRock Pro Gen 3, however it is still a great board (minus the extra PCI Express 2.0 x16 port). In order to fit this board into the budget I chose this one since you do not lose much except for being able to only have one graphics card (eliminating CrossFire and SLI potential). If you can spare a few more dollars then please do go with the ASRock Z68 PRO3 GEN3 motherboard instead, otherwise do not fret and save the $20!

EVGA GeForce GTX 570 1280 MB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 2DVI-I/Mini-HDMI

Indeed the GeForce GTX 570 is still the best choice of a singular discrete graphics card for gaming. There are plenty of reviews on this graphics card, and Toms Hardware has said that it offers the best gaming performance for around $335. This should enable a fantastic gaming performance in 1920×1200 graphics performance, and a good performance in resolutions of 2560×1600.

Corsair XMS3 8 GB (2 x 4GB) 1333 MHz PC3-10666 240-Pin DDR3 Memory Kit CMX8GX3M2A1333C9

This Corsair XMs3 8 GB memory kit (2 x 4 GB) DDR3 1300 MHz 240-Pin DDR3 Memory Kit is probably the best price you can get for 8GB of RAM at this point in time. If you can do better, then good on you, however this is a fantastic package of quality RAM.

 

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive – WD5000AAKX

So yesI have decreased the hard drive included in this build down to 500GB, but I cannot help the economics of hard drive sales! I do have to say though, that the Western Digital 500GB is a great drive (as I have used it before in plenty of my builds) so you cannot go wrong. If you want to save some money and get a bigger drive later, then you can also purchase the 320GB version

 

Antec 750W Power Supply (EA-750 Green)

I have always thought of the Antec 750W PSU as looking like a rather dull and unappealing PSU, but you cannot beat the quality and massive support behind this great power supply.

 

 

Cooler Master Cooler Master Elite 430 Mid Tower ATX Case with Window

A relatively cheap Cooler Master Elite case that is a Mid Tower ATX sizing able to fit everything perfectly. The side windows makes it easy for you to see (show off) all of the great hardware that you put into your gaming pc, not to mention the great air flow and the great blue glow this case emits.

 

LG Electronics GH22NS50 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive

As used in the $500 gaming pc build above, this is your typical optical drive for reading your CD and DVD media, and/or burning your media onto a CD/DVD.


Monthly Gaming PC Build ( $1000 – $1500 ): December 2011

Gaming PC Build Recipe:

 Processor: Intel Core i5-2500K Processor
 Motherboard: ASUS LGA 1155 Intel Z68 DDR3 2200 SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 Supported ATX Motherboard P8Z68-V
 Graphics Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 580 1536 MB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 2DVI/Mini-HDMI SLI 
 RAM: Corsair Vengeance Blue 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM Dual Channel Memory Kit CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B
 Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive
SSD Hard Drive: OCZ Technology 60 GB Vertex Plus Optimized Edition SATA II 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive
 Power Supply: Corsair Enthusiast TX V2 Series 850-Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified High Performance Modular Power Supply
Computer Case: Corsair CC600TWM-WHT Special Edition Graphite Series 600T Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case – White
 Optical Drive: LG Electronics GH22NS50 22X SATA Super Multi DVD+/-RW Internal Drive
Estimated Price: $1462.84 (below the $1500 budget – room for expansion!)

Overview: Gaming PC Build ( $1000 – $1500 )

The most notable changes to the $1000 – $1500 builds this month is the swap of the Intel i7-2600K to the Intel i5 2500K. According to Toms Hardware “CPU’s priced over $225 offer rapidly diminishing returns when it comes to game performance.”

As for the rest, quality is still surpassing time as the only large changes would be switching back to the Western Digital line of Hard Drives at 500GB. Once prices for the hard drives go down remember you can wait (until 500GB fills up at least).

Also, I am proud to include the Corsair Special Edition Graphite Series 600T Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case. As a side note check out these Corsair 600T concepts in the Newb Computer Build post “Corsair 600T White Virtual Case Mods“.

Overview: Additions / Part Swaps

As usual, I like to add some extra additions that you could add to your gaming pc build to take it that much further. These are here to show you examples of what more you can do to improve / add to your configurations whether it be now or in the future.

The Cooler Master V 8 CPU cooler is a great example of a quality after market cooler that can aid in keeping your CPU cool enough if you were to take the path down over-clocking your wonderful Intel Core i5-2500K processor. Another addition could be adding a larger high quality PSU to your build such as the Corsair 950 Watt TX below; this may be a great idea if you start adding more and more (such as an SLI graphics card).

Note: Total Prices are Total for Whole Gaming PC Build with the addition / replacement

CPU Cooler: Cooler Master V8 Nickel Plated Copper Base Aluminum Fins 8 Heatpipes Core i7 1366 CPU Cooler – = ~$1512 Total Price
 Double the Graphics Power w/ SLI add one more: EVGA GeForce GTX 580 1536 MB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 2DVI/Mini-HDMI SLI  = ~$1994.45 Total Price
 More Wattage PSU:  Corsair CMPSU-950TX 950-Watt TX Series = ~$1510 Total Price
 Larger SSD: Crucial 128 GB m4 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive SATA 6Gb/s  = ~$1671 Total Price

Overview: The Gaming PC Hardware

Intel Core i5-2500K Processor

The Intel 2500K has been used for both the $500 – $1000 and the $1000 – $1500 build this month.  As said above “…This Intel Core i5 2500K processoris a great pick for a gaming pc build, because of it’s unclocked CPU multiplier. What this means is you can overclock this great Sandy Bridge gaming CPU to get it’s full potential. It has been said time and time again that this is the #1 choice of processor amongst gamers at this point in time. You could spend more and get the Intle i7-2600K, but for gaming purposes you will see a very little increase in performance.

ASUS LGA 1155 Intel Z68 DDR3 2200 SATA 6Gbps and USB 3.0 Supported ATX Motherboard P8Z68-V

I chose the ASUS 1155 Intel Z68 P8z68-V motherboard once again for I have seen it recommended over and over again to people wanting a high quality motherboard for an Intel 1155 build. For roughly $169 you get quite the punch for a motherboard including: Support for 2 PCIe 2.0 x16 ports, four memory slots (allowing up to 32 GB memory), plenty of USB ports, and a Z68 north bridge.

 

EVGA GeForce GTX 580 1536 MB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 2DVI/Mini-HDMI SLI Ready Limited Lifetime Warranty Graphics Card, 015-P3-1580-AR

In October I chose to go with two of the (similarly matched) Sapphire Radeon HD 6870s in CrossFire, of which I would still recommend if you want, however after reading the Micro-Stuttering and GPU Scaling of those cards, I decided to go with theEVGA GeForce GTX 580 singular card. It just as good in most situations, plus it is much easier to deal with one graphics card than doing SLI or Crossfire. (You could even upgrade to two GTX 580s in the future if you wanted)

Corsair Vengeance Blue 16 GB DDR3 SDRAM Dual Channel Memory Kit CMZ16GX3M4A1600C9B

The Corsair Vengeance 8 GB (2 x 4 GB) was so last month, this month we are still using…Corsair Vengeance, but the 16GB version! That’s right I was able to get the $1000-$1500 to a cheaper price this month, and double up the RAM – For this I was quite excited.

 

Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB SATA III 7200 RPM 16 MB Cache Bulk/OEM Desktop Hard Drive – WD5000AAKX

Just like the $500 and the $500-$1000 builds for this November’s gaming pc builds, I am using the Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 1 TB Hard Drive. This is the first month I have not used this Western Digital Scorpio Blue hard drive for the monthly build, but prices this month has gone way to high due to hard drive shortages, and plus this is a good choice of hard drive; especially for price for what you are getting.

OCZ Technology 60 GB Vertex Plus Optimized Edition SATA II 2.5-Inch Solid State Drive

The OCZ 60GB Vertex Plus SSD is a great boot up disk drive that can stor your OS and perhaps a couple of game for quick booting. This SSD is one of Toms Hardware’s top rated SSD drives around this price range.

 

Corsair Enthusiast TX V2 Series 850-Watt 80 Plus Bronze Certified High Performance Modular Power Supply

The corsair 850 Watt Enthusiast Series power supply is the perfect PSU for the $1000 – $1500 December build. Even better yet, it is modular making it much easier to keep your case clean of cords.

Even on Amazon out of 269 reviews this PSU is rated at an average of 4.5/5 stars.

 

Corsair CC600TWM-WHT Special Edition Graphite Series 600T Mid Tower Gaming Computer Case – White

The Corsair Special Edition Graphite Series 600T Case is a very cool looking computer case and has the reviews to back it up. Here are the technical details:

  • User-swappable side panel window or mesh insert housing up to four 120mm fans
  • Optimize airflow and keep your system neat and tidy using the intelligent cable management system.
  • Front panel includes USB 3.0, USB 2.0, Headphone, Mic, and a four-channel fan controller.
  • Install or upgrade your CPU heatsink quickly with the easy-access backplate cutout.
  • Keep your system cool with the dual 200mm fans and rear 120mm fan
  • Access your hardware faster than ever with easy side panel removal.
  • Built-in compatibility for SSDs in the six hard drive bays gives you the flexibility you need.
  • Easily accessible dust filters keep the cool air flowing over your valuable components.

As used in the $500 gaming pc build above, this is your typical optical drive for reading your CD and DVD media, and/or burning your media onto a CD/DVD.

 

 

Conclusion:

Overall, I am very pleased with the gaming pc builds put together here for the month of December. They have all been put together with what I believe to be the highest possible quality per value of pc hardware so that you can separate what’s worth investing in. After all, building a pc can cost a fair amount of change so you want to know that you can at least have your hardware live the life of your pc and perform / compete the best it can within that lifetime.

I would like to wish everyone a happy holidays and wish everyone the best of luck when building your holiday / christmas / winter break / kick but  or whatever you want to call it gaming pc!

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