$1250 Entry 3D Gaming Rig - June '11

By Published June 15, 2011 at 12:43 am

It's been a while since PAX and ECGC, but nVidia left a lasting impression with its ambitious plot to take over the world advance video gaming and graphics rendering possibilities by 1000%. We've recently joined forces with nVidia to unveil the triumvirate of 3D gaming rigs -- starting at $1200 and going all the way up towards -- yes, for real -- $8,000. That's a lot of BF3 guns.

Three core archetypes, each with multiple off-shoots, will be presented in our upcoming posts regarding 3D gaming; the first will be a starter kit, the second a mid-level gaming kit, and the third and final kit will be focused on the (rich) hardcore gamer. Although, I've heard that 'rich' and 'gamer' are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

No reason to give anyone a heart attack just yet; we'll set you off with our $1250 3D Gaming Starter Kit. This build includes a 3D compatible monitor, video card, and 3D vision glasses; all other components are recommendations, but not entirely necessary. Some components will have different options below to comply with the wide array of wealth out there.

Budget Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
Video Card MSi GTX 560 Ti 1GB 256-bit $250 -$20
$230
CPU Intel Core i3-550 3.2GHz 4MB L3 Cache $125 Free Shipping $125
Memory CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB PC3 12800 $85 Free Shipping
$85
Motherboard Foxconn Inferno Katana GTI $124 - $124
Power Supply RAIDMAX Hybrid 730W PSU $60 -
$60
Hard Drive WD 500GB 32MB Cache 7200 HDD $60 -
$60
Optical Drive ASUS DVD/CD RW (Black) $21 - $21
Case Cooler Master HAF 912 $60 -$10
$50
Monitor ASUS Full HD 120Hz 23" 3D Monitor
$500 Free 3D Glasses
$500
Total $859 -$30 $1255

 

Video Card:

As recommended to us by the nVidia technical team, the GTX 560Ti is fully 3DVision compliant and capable of packing a punch: $250 ensures you hit the ground running in most modern games, and should hold you steady for years to come. It runs a 256-bit memory interface, 880MHz core clock, and 1760MHz shader clock, each of which is within one-hundred MHz of the card's closest competitors. While the card won't have any issue at all with games on standard "2D" settings, the stereoscopic and increased anti-aliasing will slam your performance hard when you go 3D -- that's why nVidia has provided us with a list of guideline games that are optimal for 3D performance on this card: Portal 2, Trine, Civilization V, StarCraft 2, and Burnout Paradise all made the 'core' list.

3D Monitor:

23" is the new 20", or so they say. ASUS and ACER are the two major nVidia-friendly monitor makers right now, and both are fantastic; for this 3D starter kit, we're opting to go with ASUS' more budget-friendly $500, 23", 100,000:1 ASCR, nVidia optics bundle. The package comes with nVidia's 3D glasses (worth anywhere from $100 - $150) and, of course, the monitor and software. The monitor's positioning arm allows a variety of angles to best accommodate your chair and desk height, and for those nitpickers among us, the screen menu has numerous color, gamma, hue, and contrast options to get the perfect combination for your eyes.

CPU:

Although our famous $484 budget gaming rig went with an AMD-brand CPU, we selected the omnipotent i-series for your 3D excellence. This i3-550 Clarkdale proc hums along steadily on two trusty cores, clocked at ~3.2GHz, and carries a solid 4MB of L3 cache for its ammunition. It won't have any issue running most games at near-max or max settings, even in 3D.

To ensure the absolute best gaming experience possible with this rig -- and if you've got an extra $90 laying around -- go for the quad-core version and swap out the motherboard to this one. (IMPORTANT: If you do choose to use the quad-core CPU, you need to change to the recommended motherboard in order to achieve compatibility).

Memory:

Arguably the most valuable skill in a gamer's arsenal is his ability to avenge his own death. You hear me, Jack Thompson? CORSAIR's Vengeance line of memory is relatively recent and exactly the power we need for this build -- it'll cost you a solid $85, but for DDR3 1600 (PC rating of PC3 12800), 8GB total RAM (2x4GB), and a wicked looking heat sink, you can't go wrong. It screams killer.

Motherboard:

The motherboard we discovered for you guys is phenomenal for the price -- although Foxconn doesn't always get the seriousness it deserves, they do, in fact, manufacture nearly every major PC component in pre-builts; the low-end stuff might be cheap quality, but Foxconn has some true competitors in the gaming space for this budget. Marked down from $165 to $125, the Foxconn Inferno Katana (oooh, ethnic!) has 3 PCI-E 2.0x16 slots, can easily handle 16GB of memory, and supports all other components we've selected. Besides, it's running SATA 6Gb/s. The board has beautiful heat-dissipation, utilizing piping to draw that fire away from the CPU and GPU.

Power Supply:

We've gone with RAIDMAX a few times before, and it's always worked out nicely; the company can be trusted with your power, and believe us, you want that. No one wants to witness the aftermath of a PSU melt-down -- and no, pouring water on it will not help. This power supply is a full 730W at ~75-85% efficiency, allowing plenty of room for future upgrades. It's SLI ready and, as an added bonus, also LED ready. They come in blue or blue.

Hard Drive:

In order to make sure you're using that lovely 6Gb/s SATA port, we've slapped in a 7200 RPM, 32MB cache, 500GB gaming hard drive that's running -- you guessed it -- at 6Gb/s. It's nothing amazing, but for $60, this hard drive is one that will hold your data comfortably and with much rapidity. How can you say no to rapidity? Besides, WD is the leading brand (right behind some of the SSD makers, anyway) for hard drive reliability in the budget market.

Optical Drive:

Ah, yes - the obligatory boring portion of every PC build. We'll make this one quick and painless (disclaimer: not liable for pain). While we'd recommend seriously considering a Blu-Ray drive for the 3D potential, we'll discuss those more in the mid-range and high-end builds; this one is focusing on getting you in under budget, getting you gaming, and upgrading later. ASUS, as always, holds a reputation as the manufacturer with the least overall hardware failures within the first few years, so we've selected their drive once again. Speeds are:

Write: DVD+R 24X, DVD+RW 8X, DVD-R 24X, DVD-RW 6X, CD-R 48X, CD-RW 32X, DVD+R DL 12X, DVD-R DL 12X, DVD-RAM 12X.

Read: DVD-ROM 16X, CD-ROM 48X.

Case:

Although I'd personally encourage a few case mods to your first 3D rig, there's nothing wrong with purchasing something stable that has plenty of customization options. Having used more cases than we can count in GN's lifetime, Cooler Master's HAF line has never failed to deliver an incredibly performing (and solid-looking!) case. The HAF 912 will fit all of your expensive circuitry and still have some room for (though not much) breathability. The base case comes with 2x120mm fans, so we'd strongly encourage you to place a 200mm top-mounted fan on your list of upgrades.

 

We'll have more of these 3D gaming-optimized builds in the near future, so keep an eye out. Reviews and features surrounding nVidia's 3D Vision technology are also forthcoming, but as a first note: it's awesome. Remember, kids: your mileage may vary with 3D technology; it's always a good idea to drive to a local hardware store and test the glasses prior to purchase. You never know what might make you dizzy or nauseated.

Speaking of nauseated -- get prepared for that $8,000 3D Vision build!

Last modified on June 15, 2011 at 12:43 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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