$868 Hardcore Gaming PC Build - October 2011

By Published October 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm
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Our recently-posted $550 budget gaming PC and $1795 BF3-themed rig have both prompted support requests on our forums for building an in-between system -- that's what this one accomplishes. If you're in the "heavy wallet, but not quite burning a hole in my pants" stage of the game, this ~$900 build will suit you beautifully for many, many years of gaming on high or ultra graphics settings.

This system addresses all the same concerns as our previous hardcore gaming rig did, with the exception that -- you know -- it's new and shiny. That one is nearly two months old now! Yuck! The system build list below includes all of the greatest parts currently available for the sub-$1000 range (you could probably tack on this Antec 900 v2 case if you have extra money, or even a different video card), but for our price, this machine is nothing short of monstrous. Let's break-down the list below:

 

Budget Parts List Name Price Rebates/etc. Total
Video Card ASUS GTX560Ti (COMBO 1) $250 Batman: AC; -$20 rebate $230
CPU Intel Core i5-2500k 3.3GHz $220 Free Shipping $220
Memory Mushkin 8GB DDR3 1600MHz $55 Free Shipping $55
Motherboard ASRock Extreme4 $160 -$10 $150
Power Supply Corsair 750W PSU (Combo 1) $110 -$35, free shipping, $75
Hard Drive Hitachi 1TB 7200RPM HDD $70 - $70
Optical Drive LG Optical Drive $19 - $19
Case Thermaltake V9 BlacX $75 -$25 rebate, Free Shipping $50
Total $958 -$90 $868

 

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 $968


Video Card:

ASUS is definitely a globally favored manufacturer, and they definitely know it; although ASUS is typically known for being more expensive than other equally-powerful brand names, this card turned out to be the most affordable and includes the most perks: for $250 ($230 after rebate), you get a free copy of Batman: Arkham City, 1GB of memory, and a 256-bit memory interface. While the memory isn't quite as massive as similar ATi/AMD cards, the clock speeds, standard memory-interface (I remember when 256-bit used to be amazing), and optimization with video game developers means that this GTX 560 Ti will outperform every other similarly-priced card.

You could go for a GTX 570 (linked above) if you have an extra $100 to spend, but this one's well worth the price. Additionally, you could easily tag-on an extra GTX 560 Ti next year or later for some SLI goodness.

CPU:

We always pick the CPU first, and it seems that recently the choice has been easy: the i5-2500k Sandy Bridge processor. AMD's recent Bulldozer release fell just short of the 2500k's performance marks (or equivalent), but the Sandy Bridge's advanced graphics integration and execution core implementation -- along with Turbo Boost and the price -- make it the top-dog in the sub-$300 range. The i7-2600k is the next logical step (mentioned in our above-linked $1795 build), but the amount of additional power isn't quite worth it for this system's budget.

This CPU is LGA 1155, so it is compatible with the motherboard we selected and other components. The CPU operates at 3.3GHz (3.7GHz when turbo boosted - sort of like how a turbo charger in a car works) and has 6MB of L3 cache for extra processing efficiency.

Memory:

Mushkin has gained favor in the world of video gaming hardware; until just recently, the company was barely even known by PC builders in the US - but they have been pumping out some of the highest-quality, most competitively priced components we've seen in memory for years. The memory we selected is 2x4GB (in compliance with the motherboard and CPU's dual-channel support) for a total of 8GB at DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800), which is the absolute best you can get for fifty bucks. It's mind-blowing how cheap memory has become.

Motherboard:

If the two massive heatsinks near the CPU socket didn't tip you off, ASRock has increased their standards for quality and performance admirably over the last few years. If you're offended by the P67 north-bridge on this board, you could spend an extra $50 for the Z68 model (seriously - spending $50 more is entirely worth it in this scenario, you get a ton of upgradability). Regardless of the increasingly-irrelevant north-bridge, the board we've included here is none other than ASRock's Extreme4 LGA 1155 motherboard, fully capable of handling the 1600MHz memory (you could even overclock it to 1866), future SLI upgrades, and multiple hard drives at SATA3 6.0Gb/s.

For ~$150, this board is incredible - sure, $200 will get you a lot more, but you shouldn't feel like you're missing out too much by opting for this one. It's just as powerful, even though the other one is slightly fancier.

Power Supply:

We've combo'd the power supply with the video card to save money, but even in the event that you are reading this after the combo ended, it's still an awesome power supply. You're getting a $110 power supply for only $90 (with the combo) and free shipping - these things are freakin' heavy, too.

Corsair's become increasingly-involved in the gaming scene this year, especially with their new Vengeance peripheral line, and this PSU is not any different; it comes ready to pump 750W into your system, which is more than enough for the current components and a future SLI upgrade. You want stability with a PSU, especially if you plan on spending more money in the future -- don't go cheap here, you'll regret it if you buy a cheap-ass PSU and it ends up catastrophically failing (especially during those notorious electrical storms).

Hard Drive:

As we've said numerous times before, Hitachi and WD are the top two brands in hard drives to-date. In this scenario, we've gone with Hitachi's 1TB 7200RPM drive using the SATA 6Gb/s interface (so pretty standard at this point). In our experience, Hitachi has provided the most stability and best long-term performance. I'd recommend that you partition the drive into two or three partitions (Windows, games, and work - perhaps) for increased resurrection chances in the event of a virus.

Optical Drive:

Seriously, why do we even bother adding these any more? If you have one of these laying around that is SATA-compatible (made within the last 5 years and uses a red cable to connect), you can salvage it from an old PC and save yourself $20.

22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 24X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM

Case:

Although the above-mentioned Antec 900 v2 is a glorious case, Thermaltake's V9 BlacX has powered its way to the top of newegg this week with its exclusive deals (it's $50 after discounts - how crazy is that?). This case has plenty of room for your components and will cool capably - it has 2x120mm fans (intake, exhaust) and 1x230mm fan (exhaust) that are all relatively quiet with fan-speed control enabled.

The case isn't the most stunning at first glance, but it's functional and it's affordable. Like I said, you can always spend more money if you have the means.

Hopefully this build list helped you with your PC endeavors! Comment below if you need any help at all, and if you'd like more in-depth and extra-informative answers, you can always try our forums

Last modified on October 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm
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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