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Old 01-06-2013, 10:34 PM   #1
crazymonkeyzero
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Default budget mini itx gaming rig

I was hoping to put together a low power mini itx rig for some gaming and was wondering if anyone could give me some feedback on the parts I have selected/ and what I should select. I'm no extreme gamer, just want decent frame rates (40fps?) on today's demanding titles such as BF3/Borderlands2 at 1080p at medium settings. I'm not sure if this is asking too much with my budget and if it is I hope you guys help me realize reality lol. I realize i3 is only a dual core, but I hear it's sufficient to run most games today. I wanted to go with an i5, but I'm not sure If I could fit it in my budget unless I got a really good deal.

My budget is $750 for all hardware without OS.

CPU
Intel Core i3 3220

Mobo
ASRock H77M-ITX

Gpu
EVGA GTX 650ti

Memory
SAMSUNG 1600 mhz 8gb (2X4GB)

HDD
240gb Intel 335 SSD

PSU
Antec 450W

Case
CM Elite 120


Other info
-Have monitor, Optical drive, OS
-Will not crossfire or sli
-semi nvidia fanboy (can be swayed to go with amd/ati)
-Will be buying parts newegg or amazon.......no microcenter near me
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:14 PM   #2
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I'm convinced that it's possible to do better:
PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant / Benchmarks

CPU: Intel Pentium G2120 3.1GHz Dual-Core Processor ($95.99 @ Amazon)
Motherboard: ASRock B75M-ITX Mini ITX LGA1155 Motherboard ($89.99 @ Amazon)
Memory: Samsung 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($39.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Western Digital Scorpio Blue 750GB 2.5" 5400RPM Internal Hard Drive ($64.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: Plextor M5S Series 128GB 2.5" Solid State Disk ($107.99 @ Newegg)
Video Card: EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card ($217.55 @ Newegg)
Case & PSU: Silverstone Sugo SG05 ($139.98 @ Newegg)
Total: $766.48 (before tax)

You will run out of space quickly with only ~150GB on the SSD really available for use (what's left after Windows, leaving some empty for optimal performance and lifespan). A conventional hard drive will really expand your options for storage.

I do not believe that the Pentium will be slow enough to bottleneck the 660, and the 660 will help more than remaining at a i3-3220. While the system does end up slightly overpriced, I believe that the $16.48 you will spend extra will be well worth it.

The only problem is the optical drive. I was able to build a computer without one using a USB 2.0 flash drive (4GB in size). This is much cheaper than a slimline optical drive from Newegg or Amazon. You may already have one; as long as you have a second computer to load drivers from discs and Windows onto the USB drive, you should be fine. If you want, I can walk you through the process of installing Windows and drivers via USB.

Last edited by Sleepingforest; 01-06-2013 at 11:24 PM.
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Old 01-06-2013, 11:49 PM   #3
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I think both the OP and Sleepingforest have some good ideas. Here's my opinion:

(1) The CPU absolutely must be an i3 or you might as well not be building a gaming rig. The Pentium just won't cut it, and certainly isn't worth saving $24.
(2) I built up an ITX system using the H77M. It's a very good board. The B75 saves $10, loses a Sata3 port, SSD caching, and not much else. Probably a fair trade.
(3) The Sugo 05 is a great case, but totally not the right choice for this budget, especially given that it requires that slimline drive. The CM Elite 120 will work just fine.
(4) $175 spent on an SSD with this budget it too much. I like what Sleepingforest has suggested, as it gives you a whole lot more total storage space. If you're sure you'll never need to store media files or more than 10-15 games on the system, the Intel 240GB SSD is fine, otherwise, it's not the best option.
(5) You can drop the GPU cost to $125AR by going with Galaxy: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814162127

Some may argue that the HD7850 is the clearly better card, but given that it starts at $170, I think the $125 GTX650Ti is a valid choice with a tight budget.
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Last edited by Termie; 01-06-2013 at 11:53 PM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:01 AM   #4
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Both sleeping forest and termie offer great ideas, and I'm going to offer you a different approach. Since you're on a limited budget here, I suggest you pick up the i3, an h77 board, and a 64gb SSD with a regular drive and use the SSD as a "cache" drive for your OS and games. That way you won't have to worry about running out of space, and it will leave you with enough money to grab a better video card.

Here's what I have:

i3 3220 $109 at NCIX US http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=754...l&promoid=1366

ASUS mitx h77 $99 at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007RIFLVQ/?tag=pcpapi-20

Samsung 8GB RAM $39 at newegg (linked above)

64Gb SSD cache drive Crucial m4 $73 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16820148441

500GB WD drive $58 at NCIX US http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=584...D&promoid=1366

Radeon 7850 graphics $180 at amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007MLSGHE/?tag=pcpapi-20

Cooler master mitx case $44 at NCIX US http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=760...e=COOLERMASTER

PSU - you're gonna need a modular PSU for that case
500W modular psu $65 after rebate http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=653...0%26%20Cooling

Base total $636
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:02 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Termie View Post
(1) The CPU absolutely must be an i3 or you might as well not be building a gaming rig. The Pentium just won't cut it, and certainly isn't worth saving $24.
(2) I built up an ITX system using the H77M. It's a very good board. The B75 saves $10, loses a Sata3 port, SSD caching, and not much else. Probably a fair trade.
Its a fair trade, especially when that $10 can go towards an i3.

I can recommend that Asrock B75M-ITX. I have one myself, and it just works. No problems what-so-ever...
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:00 AM   #6
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Both dmoney1980 and Termie have some great ideas, but for a pure gaming PC on this budget, I would definitely suggest a no-SSD approach. I would not get one for a $750 ATX gaming rig, the same applies to mini-ITX. I would buy the SSD when decent 256GB drives can be had for less than $0.5/GB (then just clone OS partition on it, or reinstall if you prefer). But it's fine to get a 64GB drive for $50 or a 128GB drive for $80 at that point in time as well

Mobo Asrock B75M $90 @amazon
CPU Intel i5-3470 $180 @amazon
RAM 2x4GB Samsung $40 @amazon
GPU Sapphire 7850 2GB $191 AR shipped @newegg (MSI card from Amazon is OOS...)
HDD Seagate ST1500DM003 1.5TB $70
DVD Reuse $0
PSU Corsair CX430 $25 AR @newegg
Case CM Elite 120 $44 @ncix

= $640 AR shipped
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:14 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Sleepingforest View Post
You will run out of space quickly with only ~150GB on the SSD really available for use (what's left after Windows, leaving some empty for optimal performance and lifespan). A conventional hard drive will really expand your options for storage.
I like this idea and have it implemented on many systems, no matter how small/large the SSD. Basically, remap a number of data folders to the HDD. For instance Downloads, My Documents, My Pictures, etc. can all be easily remapped to a different drive so that they don't take up any space on the SSD, and software which automatically uses those folders will magically start using them on the other drive.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:20 PM   #8
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Thank you for all the ideas/advice. I was not aware of this before but b75 seems to be the most practical chipset at the moment for my purposes as mentioned by Termie, however I still have some questions.


-I like the fact that Lethtv has somehow managed to fit the i5 in my budget, however, is it good to use it in a mini itx while gaming, without investing in aftermarket cooling?

-Is a modular psu really necessary for mini itx. I picked the antec 450 because the cables seem unsleeved, and thus I would image it would be easier to "tuck away" in nooks and crannies of the chassis than the thick sleeved kind found on higher end psus.

-How does 650ti compare to 7850 overall (performance and power consumption). I liked the appearance of the 650ti because it seemed small and thus leave more room in the case, but if 7850 will make a big difference in performance, I'll definitely consider it.

-How well will the parts perform gaming in something like BF3 ? (what are my limits?)

Thanks

Here is an updated rig based on some of the suggestions

CPU
Core i5 3350p

Mobo

AsrockB75

Gpu
EVGA GTX 650ti

Memory
SAMSUNG 1600 mhz 8gb (2X4GB)

HDD

1TB Samsung

PSU
Antec 450W

Case
CM Elite 120

Cooler: CM Gemini II


Total comes out to be $740 shipped with taxes.
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Old 01-07-2013, 12:57 PM   #9
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OP - glad this has been helpful to you. I'm actually amazed at all the very constructive feedback in this thread - this is a perfect example of how multiple informed people can give varying opinions to help a builder come to a decision on parts. There is no one right answer, which makes this much more interesting.

To answer your questions:
(1) On the modular PSU - there will be no "nooks and crannies" in an ITX gaming case. I think you will thoroughly appreciate having a modular PSU to work with, and I might even suggest spending up for the extremely compact Silverstone model: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16817256065

I believe it's the shortest modular ATX PSU on the market.

(2) Cooler: I don't think you'll need an aftermarket cooler right away, especially with a lower-clocked chip like the 3350. You can save money by skipping it, although the CM Gemini II is a great choice if you needed it due to the very low profile. I have the slightly taller Gemin S524 in my HTPC, and it's a huge improvement over a stock cooler. But my CPU runs much hotter than a 3350.

The only issue I have with the CPU you selected, the 3350p, is that it doesn't have a built-in GPU. If you think you'll ever want a backup GPU, you really can't go wrong spending a bit more to get the 3330. You trade 100MHz of speed for a built-in GPU.

(3) The 650Ti is about 20% slower than a 7850. It also happens to be about 20% cheaper than most 7850s. But that EVGA model is not a great deal, and in my opinion is too close in price to this XFX HD7850 for $155: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16814150656
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:10 PM   #10
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take a look at my coolermaster thread



http://forums.anandtech.com/showthre...192&highlight=


I did 3 builds with it . one suggestion buy two of these fans


http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2293513


the front fan in the case is so so. these cougars run well in the case. the circle saw mod really helps cooling.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:12 PM   #11
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Aftermarket cooling is NEVER needed, unless you have some special needs such as overclocking or extreme silence. The current stock Intel heatsinks are not only completely sufficient to keep the processors cool enough but can do so without being too noisy. By that I mean not dying due to heat, and not the "must keep below body temperature" that many enthusiasts seem to demand. This applies no matter which socket 1155 CPU you go for. Intel naturally bundles their quad core CPUs with slightly better coolers. They look the same, but have copper cores versus all aluminum on the dual cores.

GTX 650 Ti vs Radeon 7850
While Battlefield 3 performance is similar, the Radeon wins in pretty much every other performance aspect. Power draw on the 650 Ti is lower though. IIRC it needs only one PCIe power plug while the Radeon needs two. Also, as pointed out, there is a cost difference.

Depending on your desire for performance and budget, you can also go for a GTX 660. It beats the Radeon 7850 across the board, but again at a higher price. In this case, looks like around 10% more cost.

My stance on modular PSUs is the unpopular one. I don't believe they are ever "necessary." If you buy a PSU that is the right power capacity for your system, and not way too much higher, you will probably end up using most of the cabling anyways. Also, modular just means entire strands can be removed. If you need a single connector, you are still stuck with a long strand with a few other unused connectors.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:45 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Zap View Post
Aftermarket cooling is NEVER needed, unless you have some special needs such as overclocking or extreme silence. The current stock Intel heatsinks are not only completely sufficient to keep the processors cool enough but can do so without being too noisy. By that I mean not dying due to heat, and not the "must keep below body temperature" that many enthusiasts seem to demand. This applies no matter which socket 1155 CPU you go for. Intel naturally bundles their quad core CPUs with slightly better coolers. They look the same, but have copper cores versus all aluminum on the dual cores.

GTX 650 Ti vs Radeon 7850
While Battlefield 3 performance is similar, the Radeon wins in pretty much every other performance aspect. Power draw on the 650 Ti is lower though. IIRC it needs only one PCIe power plug while the Radeon needs two. Also, as pointed out, there is a cost difference.

Depending on your desire for performance and budget, you can also go for a GTX 660. It beats the Radeon 7850 across the board, but again at a higher price. In this case, looks like around 10% more cost.

My stance on modular PSUs is the unpopular one. I don't believe they are ever "necessary." If you buy a PSU that is the right power capacity for your system, and not way too much higher, you will probably end up using most of the cabling anyways. Also, modular just means entire strands can be removed. If you need a single connector, you are still stuck with a long strand with a few other unused connectors.
YEAH on a budget build you don't need the modular supply. One of the builds I did used an antec ea-450 I was able to tuck away most of the cables. Two of the builds I went modular and purchased expensive custom cables. these builds are double the cost of your build.

but if you get the antec link from above posts the wires are flexible and there is room in the case. if you face the fan in the psu down right above the stock intel fan it will help cooling big time. the coolermaster has a side fan you do not need it if you put in the antec so as to suck air out of the case.

I run my 3 builds 24/7 for bitcoin they pull a lot of juice no overheating issues.

I do recommend the cougar fans at 9.99 each the price is good. this fan and the circle saw cut are optional. as the one build with no front mods works. here is a big cooling secret for that case remove the front panel! cost is zero ! it will let a lot of air into the machine. just put a grill on the front fan to protect your fingers.
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Last edited by philipma1957; 01-07-2013 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 01:57 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Termie View Post
OP - glad this has been helpful to you. I'm actually amazed at all the very constructive feedback in this thread - this is a perfect example of how multiple informed people can give varying opinions to help a builder come to a decision on parts. There is no one right answer, which makes this much more interesting.
This is why I love this forum!

OP - you have a lot of options here. Keep in mind that with the build I put together, you would still have money left over to upgrade to an i5 CPU, and go for the Antec PSU if you don't want to pay extra for the modular PSU. The Corsair PSU the lehtv listed is a great deal with the rebate though.

Take note of the differences between the B75 and H77 chipsets. Neither will let you overclock, and the B75 only supports a single Sata 6gb connector. The H77 supports 2 Sata 6g connectors and allows you to use a SSD as a cache drive. I've never used this feature myself, but I've heard good things about it on this forum.

Regarding BF3 performance - ZAP included the bench link for you, and as you can see they are pretty much neck and neck. The 2Gb vRAM that the Radeon 7850 has doesn't really matter in this game at 1080p, but it might matter in other (and future) titles even at 1080p as developers continue to improve textures.

Since you won't be overclocking, I wouldn't recommend spending money on an aftermarket cooler since you're not going to get any kind of performance increase in games.

Last edited by dmoney1980; 01-07-2013 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:13 PM   #14
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Quote:
-I like the fact that Lethtv has somehow managed to fit the i5 in my budget, however, is it good to use it in a mini itx while gaming, without investing in aftermarket cooling?
The stock cooler will be fine on stock clocks, but an aftermarket solution would be quieter. I'm not sure if the GeminII M4 is compatible with the motherboard, it could block the RAM slots.
Quote:
-Is a modular psu really necessary for mini itx. I picked the antec 450 because the cables seem unsleeved, and thus I would image it would be easier to "tuck away" in nooks and crannies of the chassis than the thick sleeved kind found on higher end psus.
It's possible to just leave unneeded cables in a jumble next to the PSU.

Quote:
-How well will the parts perform gaming in something like BF3 ? (what are my limits?)
i5 +7850 will play bf3 at 45-60fps on medium-high settings in 64-player Conquest

I just realized my build suggestion is $110 below your budget. I thought it was $10 below. But if you gotta pay taxes to newegg and want to stay below $750 after taxes, then I stand by that build
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:19 PM   #15
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Windows is just incredibly frustrating without an SSD. Even if you cant put more than one game on your SSD, its still worth the hassle of dealing with 2 drives. There are other advantages of having a small OS drive.... for example you can do quick backup and restore operations on your system drive when it is small.
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:58 PM   #16
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If you're not used to an SSD, it's not really incredibly frustrating. It wasn't for me, and I had Windows on a 5400RPM hard disk for a year.

You can do the same backup and restore operations with a small logical partition.
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:18 PM   #17
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I'll stick with stock cooler then, since I don't plan to OC. This leaves just enough money for the Radeon 7850, lethtv suggests. I had my eye on the 650ti SSC edition as well, but I don't think the OC could be more than 10% at best, so 7850 would still be faster.

However I noticed that the power requirements for the 7850 is 500w, so would the 450w antec be enough?
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:32 PM   #18
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I second the CM itx case motion.

I have an sg07 as my main rig. I recently built my grandma a CM itx build and really was impressed. It gives you about an inch more in every direction, which is really nice for installing/cooling components. It will also allow for a cheap normal sized drive, I picked up a dvdrw from newegg open box for $12 shipped (shoprunner). I got the ram from the amazon warehouse deals page (2x2gb for $10, all she'll ever need)
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Old 01-07-2013, 08:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sm625 View Post
Windows is just incredibly frustrating without an SSD. Even if you cant put more than one game on your SSD, its still worth the hassle of dealing with 2 drives. There are other advantages of having a small OS drive.... for example you can do quick backup and restore operations on your system drive when it is small.
Sure, but gaming on a slow GPU is also pretty frustrating. For a gaming rig I think the GPU has to take priority.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post
My stance on modular PSUs is the unpopular one. I don't believe they are ever "necessary." If you buy a PSU that is the right power capacity for your system, and not way too much higher, you will probably end up using most of the cabling anyways. Also, modular just means entire strands can be removed. If you need a single connector, you are still stuck with a long strand with a few other unused connectors.
I'm with you on this one too. It's not a huge deal to bundle a couple of extra strands. In the OP's case, he's looking at bundling a couple of SATA/Molex strands (maybe a PCIe depending on the layout).
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:39 PM   #20
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I would say use Lehtv's approach to building a low budget gaming rig. The money you save by not using a SSD frees up the money to buy either a better and more powerful cpu or gpu which I feel is more important and beneficial to gaming. Just my own opinion.
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Old 01-07-2013, 10:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by crazymonkeyzero View Post
I'll stick with stock cooler then, since I don't plan to OC. This leaves just enough money for the Radeon 7850, lethtv suggests. I had my eye on the 650ti SSC edition as well, but I don't think the OC could be more than 10% at best, so 7850 would still be faster.

However I noticed that the power requirements for the 7850 is 500w, so would the 450w antec be enough?
yeah I run hd7970 on the antec 450 and a i7 3770k pulls 200 watts unless you clock everything crazy high.


OH AND HERE IS A GOOD DEAL ON A BETTER CPU

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2294436
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1)Intel i7-3770k. i5-4670
2)sapphire hd7790 , sapphire hd7970
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4)antec ea450 seasonic 760 platinum
5)asus maximus v gene mobo asrock itx-e
6)fractal case cooler master elite 120 case.

Last edited by philipma1957; 01-08-2013 at 12:30 AM.
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Old 01-08-2013, 12:30 AM   #22
Sleepingforest
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Lehtv's build actually leaves around $100 extra, which is definitely enough for either a caching drive or an OS drive around 64GB. If you find the right deals on a Vortex 4, Crucial M4, or Intel 330/335, you could get a bigger 128GB SSD. Look around for the next few days and immediately before purchase for deals yourself, if possible.
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