In this Scorpius / Diablo 3 computer for around $500, you'll be able to run the highly-anticipated dungeon-crawler at high/max settings without much of a problem. Our cooling fan articles will help keep the system even cooler, but you'll be just fine with the below components.
Following up with our $962 Ivy Bridge build, we really wanted to do a Scorpius Platform build for those of us who are on a budget. The Scorpius Platform is AMD's name for the combination of an FX-series processor, 900-series motherboard, and HD GPU. There's not necessarily any extra 'boost' by combining these, just get to say you have a Scorpius Platform gaming rig, which sounds evil and deadly. With the release of Diablo 3 right around the corner, this is the perfect time to build it.
We've found some great components that should have you prepared to take on the Prime Evils and send them back to hell! For less than $550, this build will have you venturing around Sanctuary in style!
|Budget Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Total|
|Video Card||ASUS AMD Radeon 6850 (COMBO 1)||$150||-$27||$123|
|CPU||AMD FX-4100 CPU (COMBO 2)||$110||-$10, Free Shipping||$100|
|Memory||8GB DDR3 1333MHz (COMBO 1)||$42||Free Shipping||$42|
|Motherboard||ASRock 970 Extreme3 (COMBO 2)||$85||Free Shipping||$85|
|Power Supply||Cooler Master 450W PSU||$45||-$15 |
|Hard Drive||Samsung 1TB 7200RPM HDD||$80||Free Shipping||$80|
|Optical Drive||LITE-ON Optical Drive||$18||Free Shipping||$18|
|Case||Scorpius Thermaltake V3 Black||$60||-||$60|
|Case Fans||2xCooler Master 120mm Red Fans||$20||Free Shipping||$20|
Optional Add-ons (pick and choose as budget allows)
|Add-on Parts List||Name||Price||Rebates/etc.||Combined Total|
|Operating System ||Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium||$100||Free Shipping||$658|
The 6850 has become a staple at the budget range here at GamersNexus.net. In the budget range, AMD is the best option, as our Graphics War: AMD vs NVIDIA guide and price-to-performance chart shows. ASUS has told us that their unarguable dominance comes from a focus on a strong community, but aside from that, they always deliver with great components for the dedicated PC gamer. The HD 6850 can handle most games out there on mid-high settings, depending on how serious you get with graphics.
I've benchmarked the HD 6850 with SWTOR, WoW, Dirt 3 and LoL, and it handles all of them on highest settings with ease, and with Diablo 3's Recommended System Specs listing a now-dated 4870, you won't have to worry about anything.
We used AMD's Athlon X3 tri-core CPU in our $487 budget system, but we went with the FX-4100 CPU for its quad-core functionality and more future-readiness. The Bulldozer line was launched to disappointment, admittedly, but things have shaped up for the line; with several of the initial problems resolved, we're now left with a powerful, affordable processor in the sub-$150 range, which is simply unbeatable. In this budget range, AMD stands alone; Intel's i3-2120 is extremely competitive, but in the end, both are strong and the FX-4100 is more than enough for gaming (and more affordable).
The best aspect of this processor is its healthy 8MB of L3 Cache, its overclocking functionality, and multi-Zambezi cores. Did I mention that overclocking is a dream with the FX 4100? It should be able to overclock over 4.0GHz on stock cooling with little effort, though we highly recommend an aftermarket cooler for overclocking (and please ask us below if you need help, it can be harmful to the system). No other processor out there can offer this much for around $100. Plus, if you are waiting to see how the Piledriver line of CPUs does, this chip will hold you over until then.
If you have an extra $30, we recommend you pick up the FX-6100. This variation comes with a solid 6MB of L2 Cache, 8MB L3 Cache, and three BullDozer modules running 6 threads. At the price range, the overclocking ability, the healthy Caches, and the multiple threads, the FX series holds its own.
Sticking with the Diablo 3 themed PC build, we went with red/black, evil-looking Patriot Sector 5 RAM; for $42, you get 8GB of DDR3-1333MHz memory. It comes with a nice heat spreader, and the combo with the GPU helps lower the price of both components just a tiny bit.
ASRock really delivers in the budget range, as usual. The ASRock Extreme3 970 is a great board with reasonable additional features, and as an added bonus, you get a nice black motherboard to fit the theme of evil/Diablo 3 components. In addition, all the nice extras -- SATA III, USB 3.0, UEFI, and much more -- are included and ready-for-use with this rig. ASRock's reviews are generally positive, with lower DOA rates (judged by Newegg's 1-egg reviews) than some of the other boards in this range.
CoolerMaster is a respected company with a decent warranty policy, and although it's "only" 450W of 80 Plus certified wattage, that's plenty for this system as-is (note: If you make any GPU or CPU changes, please comment below to ask if you should get a bigger PSU).
The PSU does only come with one 6-pin PCI-e connector, so if your video card requires two connectors (or other configs), or if you plan on a CrossfireX setup, make sure you talk to us about either a different PSU or molex-to-6-pin adapters. Use EMCNEJJ34 at checkout for $5 off.
Have an extra few bucks? If you are looking for a 600W and modular PSU, the OCZ ModXSteam is a good option for only $48.98 after MIR. It's slightly more expensive, but the modular cabling is well-worth it (this means you can detach unused cables to make more room).
We strongly advise you to recycle an older hard drive from another system to save money, but that's not always possible nor is it realistic. This 1TB Samsung HDD clocks in at 7200RPM, which is (now) decidedly average/standard, and has 32MB of cache to support bursting speeds better. 1TB is enough space to get started on for any gaming build.
If you can afford it, consider this Muskin 120GB SSD. It is only $102.99 and is well worth it. Plus, it comes with a mounting bracket, so no need to buy one. Check out our SSD Dictionary to find out the benefits of going with a SSD in addition to a traditional hard drive.
Optical drives are so positively boring. This thing reads and burns discs, and also doubles as a cookie dispenser when connected with the Internet. Use EMCNEJJ24 at checkout for free shipping.
The emblazoned white scorpion logo makes this case's stance clear: It's evil, damn it, and it's ready to kick some ass in Diablo 3. The looks are killer, and for anyone that's both an AMD and Diablo fan, you can't go wrong. The performance is a bit lacking -- but the good thing with cases is that we can always add more fans. We strongly encourage you to buy the extra fan(s) listed above (no, seriously, don't build this system without purchasing at least one extra fan).
This is one scary case, I know a few Intel fans would agree nothing is as scary as the AMD logo on the front.
We always love working on these builds for you all -- we like to show people how great of a gaming rig can be built for such a small price. Keep in mind this is just a basic idea for a build, and we suggest you tailor it to fit your own needs (based on what applications and games you run, etc.). If you want help on building your own gaming rig, please visit our forums! That's what the site's here for -- to help you build awesome stuff.
Make sure you read our Common PC Build Mistakes guide to help you with the build process, but in the event things go wrong, our massive Hardware Warranty Comparison Guide should ease your nerves.
Still feel uneasy? Leave a comment below for quick help, hit our forums for in-depth support, or follow us on twitter, like us on facebook, and subscribe to our RSS feed for more guides and build articles.
-Michael "Mik" Mann.