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Old 06-06-2013, 03:19 PM   #1
teacher_mark
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Default Please Check Build Specs

Hey- thanks for looking at my specs!

I did some building and upgrading back in the DOS through Win98 days. Back then I'd need a sound card and modem, but I think these are included in MoBos these days? So, that's my level of expertise, and I won't be surprised if I'm missing something here.

1. PC to be used for gaming and home movie editing. Most recent game played was Far Cry 3, which would overheat and shut down my laptop. Changing to desktop to avoid similar problems. Will continue to get not-quite-new first person shooters.

2. Budget: I'm pushing the wife to $800, and might sneak in a bit more.

3. U.S.A. I'm planning to by at Microcenter, here in Marietta GA.

7. Don't plan on overclocking.

8. What resolution, not monitor size, will you be using? I'm afraid I don't know. I hope to buy a new monitor later.

9. WHEN do you plan to build it? Within a week.

Draft Specs and prices from MircoCenter- Marietta:

GPU:
GTX 660 OC 2048MB $209 new to $167 open box

CPU/Mobo:
AMD FX6300 bundled with ASRock970 Extreme3 Socket AM3+ 970 ATX AMD Motherboard $165

Memory:
Ballistix Sport 4GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Desktop Memory Module Kit (Two 2GB Memory Modules) $40

Case:
NZXTCrafted Series Tempest 410 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case $58

Power Supply:
CX Series CX600M 600 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply $85

Hard Drive:
Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ST3100005N1A1AS $69

SS
Ultra Plus SDSSDHP-064G-G2 64GB SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $65

DVD Writer:
ASUS 24x Internal DVDRW SATA Writer $35
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:04 PM   #2
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Quote:
Memory:
Ballistix Sport 4GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Desktop Memory Module Kit (Two 2GB Memory Modules) $40
Get 8GB, at least. It's $58 for the 2x4GB version of that.

Quote:
Power Supply:
CX Series CX600M 600 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply $85
A CX430M would do just fine, and is $55 w/ a $10 MIR.

Quote:
SS
Ultra Plus SDSSDHP-064G-G2 64GB SATA 6.0Gb/s Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) $65
Unless you are really set on the SSD, IMO, you should skip it for the time being, and get an i5 CPU bundle, instead. Even w/o overclocking, the MSI Z77 one is awfully nice, and cheaper than any other stock config can be gotten elsewhere. Then, later on, get a 120-256GB SSD.

Quote:
DVD Writer:
ASUS 24x Internal DVDRW SATA Writer $35
$20, not $35.
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Old 06-06-2013, 04:11 PM   #3
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Quote:
8. What resolution, not monitor size, will you be using? I'm afraid I don't know.
Wait so you have a monitor already, despite using a laptop?

You can find out the resolution by typing "resolution" in your start menu's search bar

http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=80121
Quote:
X. Do you need to purchase any software to go with the system, such as Windows or Blu Ray playback software?
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:36 PM   #4
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I second the suggestion of going with 8Gb of RAM. I'd personally never try to talk somebody out of getting an SSD, but consider this.

With a 64Gb drive, Farcry 3 and Windows along will be using 30% of the drive or more. If you buy an SSD and DON'T install your games to it, you'll kick yourself later.
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Old 06-06-2013, 06:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by XavierMace View Post
I second the suggestion of going with 8Gb of RAM. I'd personally never try to talk somebody out of getting an SSD, but consider this.

With a 64Gb drive, Farcry 3 and Windows along will be using 30% of the drive or more. If you buy an SSD and DON'T install your games to it, you'll kick yourself later.
And then there's the accumulation of stuff that makes its way into Program Files, WinSXS, Default user, etc.. 120GB is realistically 4-10x bigger, over the long run. If the OP leaves hibernate on, and a system managed PF, Windows+stuff is likely to take nearly 25+GB pretty quickly, if not right after installation.

Also, an SSD can be added later, at some minor cost of user time and effort, while the FX CPU would be slower for the life of the computer. Getting rid of the SSD, and going to the CX430M, allows for an i5 bundle and 8GB of RAM at near zero change to the total cost.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:11 PM   #6
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I was imagining (per someone's suggestion) that the SDD would just boot Windows, though I did have the afterthought that maybe it could also hold whatever game I'm mostly playing at the time.
Cerb I find your reasoning pretty convincing about giving up the SDD in favor of i5, and I'll take your word on the power supply. I'm going to make those changes to my plan and run the numbers.
Lehtv, I did leave out the longer story of the family's ancient desktop. It's power supply started smoking the other day and I switched it out for an older one in the garage-- just to save the data from the hard drive, you understand, not to bring it back to life. Anyway that reminded me that I know how to plug in the parts and gave me reason to tell my wife the old pile of bolts has got to go. But as it happens, the new power supply got it working again for all (her) intents and purposes, so now my case for a replacement is weaker.
More to the point, we do have a monitor, which is not pretty but is newer than the rest and doesn't bear replacing. The "resolution" trick didn't work for me, but we had it set for 1280x1024 and the options went up to 1152x864. The model was Dell E176FP1, and when I googled that, I got several links for similar monitors on sale at Goodwill, and someone complaining that no computer would recognize it.
As for software, I figured Windows 7, 64-bit, and I have a copy Office 2000-- from before when you had to go online to confirm your right to install. I think that's enough to get by. Well, and some new games of course.
...Unless there's an open code, freeware OS that would allow me to do what I want to do. Or Star Office really is up-to-snuff and fully compatible..?
Thanks for your advice.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:28 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by teacher_mark View Post
I was imagining (per someone's suggestion) that the SDD would just boot Windows, though I did have the afterthought that maybe it could also hold whatever game I'm mostly playing at the time.
Cerb I find your reasoning pretty convincing about giving up the SDD in favor of i5, and I'll take your word on the power supply. I'm going to make those changes to my plan and run the numbers.
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6276/n...pler-family/17

The 430 will be left with safe headroom. Your possible new PC should use a bit less power (that's with a i7-3960X, overclocked). A higher-wattage supply would be a good choice if overclocking, or getting a monster of a video card.

Quote:
Or Star Office really is up-to-snuff and fully compatible..?
Thanks for your advice.
Try LibreOffice 4 (Oracle came, most of OpenOffice left and made LibreOffice). Worst-case, Microsoft Office is right there. It really depends on exactly what you need.
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:03 PM   #8
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OK, here's the revised plan:

MircoCenter- Marietta

GPU: $167
GTX 660 OC 2048MB open box

CPU/Mobo Bundle: $245
Intel Core i5 3570K 3.4GHz Socket LGA 1155 Boxed P
MSI Z77A-G41 Socket LGA 1155 ATX Intel Motherboard

Memory: $55
Ballistix Sport 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Desktop Memory Module

Case: $58
NZXTCrafted Series Tempest 410 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case

Power Supply: $55
CX Series CX430M 430 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply

Hard Drive: $70
Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ST3100005N1A1AS $69

DVD Writer: $20
ASUS DRW-24B1ST Internal DVDR/RW Burner - OEM

Total: $769
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:59 PM   #9
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I would be careful with buying open-box parts. Take a good look at it and check for obvious damage. Also, give it a good sniff (not kidding!). Stay away if you smell burnt electronics.
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Old 06-06-2013, 09:22 PM   #10
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With what you are working with you might consider going with an i3-3225 and the MSI Z77 Microcenter bundle for $165. That's an extra $80 to throw at the GPU to make sure you are not rolling the dice with open box parts.
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:01 AM   #11
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OK, I think harder about the open box. Thanks.
How do you feel about a refurbished SSD and HDD?

And while I thought I was ready to go get the pieces, this morning I've drafted an alternate plan following a friend's beliefs that:
1) intel cpus are overvalued
2) an SSD would pay for itself in saved seconds all the time; and
3) the GPU matters most (and 4gb RAM is enough)

GPU GV-N65TBOC-2GD NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650Ti Boost 2048MB GDDR5 PCIe 3.0 x16 Video Card 175
CPU AMD FX 6300 Black Edition 3.5GHz Six-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor 130
MoBo Biostar A960G Socket AM3+ 760G mATX AMD Motherboard
RAM Ballistix Sport 4GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 (Two 2GB Memory Modules) 40
HDD WD Blue 500GB 7,200RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive WD5000AAKS - Refurbished 40
SSD Force Series CSSD-F180GB3 180GB SATA 6.0Gb/s 2.5" Internal Solid State Drive - Refurbished 130
Power CX Series CX430M 430 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply 55
Case NZXTCrafted Series Tempest 410 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case 58
DVD ASUS DRW-24B1ST Internal DVDR/RW Burner - OEM 20
OS Windows 64-bit 99
total $747

Last edited by teacher_mark; 06-07-2013 at 10:05 AM.
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:04 PM   #12
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1. AMD's are slower. Intel can thus charge more for theirs. If going AMD, at least get a 970 chipset, though.

2. If you're constantly disk-limited, yes. But will it pay for the rest of the system having to be worse for the life cycle of the computer? When the disk isn't something you're waiting on, the SSD isn't being made use of.

With a sub-$1000 budget, my argument against an SSD is not that SSDs are crap, but that they can be added later, with no more hassle than an OS re-install, so better cases, CPUs, more RAM, better video cards, etc. are better ways to spend a lesser amount, given the substantial cost of an SSD.

3. If you plant to run 32-bit Windows, especially older versions like XP that don't cache well, then yes, 4GB is enough, and you can't use more for much, anyway, without some hacking. There is no good reason to do that, and Windows will make very good use of RAM that programs aren't using. With only 4GB, you'll need and SSD for smooth operation, you'll be stuck being just as bad off as w/o an SSD for anything on the HDD. Or, you could give Windows some use to use, so it won't have to make you wait on the disk, so much.

Quote:
HDD WD Blue 500GB 7,200RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive WD5000AAKS
Why get an SSD, then pair it with that? A new Green will be categorically faster, much less a new Blue (where, "new" means having 1TB platters).
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:05 PM   #13
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I'd take open box over refurb any day. I would ASSUME Microcenter tests the product before putting it back on the shelf, I know Fry's does anyways. So with an open box you are getting a product that's been returned. It's POSSIBLE it was returned because it was bad and got put back on the shelf anyways. Worse case you are out a little bit of time and have to buy the non-open box one. It's just as likely it was returned because it was unneeded/wanted. I know people who did that for LAN parties all the time. Buy the product, use it for the weekend, then return it.

Refurb means the product HAS already failed. With some products if it fails again, you are just out some time. But you are talking a hard drive. Do you want to roll those dice with your data?

I can't say I'm impressed with your friends build at all. If you are playing games like Farcry 3, you absolutely want 8Gb of RAM. Downgrading to the 650 is a joke. The 660 is about 50% faster in the benchmarks I'm seeing.
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Old 06-07-2013, 01:23 PM   #14
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It looks like that monitor only supports 1280x1024 screen resolution. That's pretty bad, but at least you won't need a high end video card to drive it at max settings.

Oh... and refurbished hard drives are a bad idea. If you get these, you better have good backups...
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:20 PM   #15
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Oh... and refurbished hard drives are a bad idea. If you get these, you better have good backups...
This, entirely.

I would much rather buy a used but working (and preferably no bad sectors showing in SMART data) HDD off of the FS/FT forum, than to purchase a refurb HDD at a store.

Then again, I did purchase five 80GB IDE refurb WD BB HDDs from Newegg for $20 ea FS a while back.

They all passed a WD DLG for DOS SMART self-test, surface scan, zero wipe, and surface scan, so I used them.

Thus far none have failed yet either, but I haven't been running the machines that have those HDDs.

(The only reason I bought them, was to use them as "junk" boot drives, to do distributed computing on some of my spare PCs, because SSDs get worn out too quickly from BOINC check-pointing every task every 60 seconds.)

I also bought a used Seagate 7200.7 (I think it was) HDD from someone on FS/FT, and it was already like 4 years old, and it has been running in my friend's machine for another 2-3 years. Older HDDs were built like tanks, IMHO. Not like today's HDDs.
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Old 06-07-2013, 03:07 PM   #16
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So glad I came.
First, Cerb: I wondered why the color of an internal drive merited such early placement in the title of the produce-- so.. blue and green mean something. OK.
On the 4 vs 8gb issue, I think you've won me over (again?). It's only a few bucks more, after all.
XavierMace: Good points about the refurb issue. If I get the open box GPU, I take it there are some tests I can run on it (other than gameplay) while it's still returnable? I mean, are there regular ways these things fail? Common defects that do something other than make it entirely unusable?
UltimateBob & Virtural Larry: Sounds like the jury's in on the refurb hard drives. Back to the 1tb hdd I guess. And -sniff- no SSD.
As for the monitor, the constraint is selling the project to the wife, who I'm sure would see no need to replace it.
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Old 06-07-2013, 04:06 PM   #17
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Other than fan, they don't have any mechanical parts so it's not terribly common for video cards to just fail. Bring it home, run it through some benchmarks (3Dmark or what not). If numbers look up to spec and you don't see any graphical glitches, I'd call it good.

Regarding the drive.... Newegg's got SanDisk Ultra Plus SDSSDHP-128G-G25 2.5" 128GB SATA III for $90 right now.
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Old 06-07-2013, 04:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacher_mark View Post
So glad I came.
First, Cerb: I wondered why the color of an internal drive merited such early placement in the title of the produce-- so.. blue and green mean something. OK.
Western Digital has colors for most of their lines.
Green are slow, but lower-power (and cheaper).
Blue are the mainstream drives, fast, not too loud.
Black are the faster hotter drives...but since only a few Blacks are up to 1TB platters, by now, the new Blue tend to be faster.
Red have RAID features, and aren't so gung-ho on power saving, yet are otherwise like the Green.

Right now, the performance/price/capacity sweet spot is the 1TB+ sized 1TB/platter WD Blues and Seagate Barracudas.

Just get an SSD later on, after Windows accumulates crap for a year or two, and re-install on it. SSDs are good, but I don't think they're worth significantly slowing down the rest of the system.
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:08 PM   #19
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Thanks so much!

Plan C:
GPU GTX 660 OC 2048MB (open box) 167
CPU AMD FX 6300 Black Edition 3.5GHz Six-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor 165
MoBo ASRock 970 Extreme3 Socket AM3+ 970 ATX AMD Mother
RAM Vengeance Series 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Dual Channel Desktop Memory Kit (Two 4GB Memory Modules) 75
HDD Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ST3100005N1A1AS 70
Power CX Series CX430M 430 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply 55
Case NZXTCrafted Series Tempest 410 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case 58
DVD ASUS DRW-24B1ST Internal DVDR/RW Burner - OEM 20
OS Windows 64-bit 99
total $709

That should leave me enough for a game or two. I'm thinking:
Borderlands 2
Bioshock Infinite
Killzone 3

OK, more questions:
1) Is 430 watts enough, even if I later add an SSD?
2) Any chance I should consider Ubuntu/Wine?
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Old 06-07-2013, 10:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacher_mark View Post
1) Is 430 watts enough, even if I later add an SSD?
Yes. You really only need bigger if you're going to try to overclock significantly, or get a power-hungry video card. An SSD will generally be <5W full load.

Quote:
2) Any chance I should consider Ubuntu/Wine?
As a Windows replacement? No. To run Windows programs outside of Windows when native ones aren't as good? Yes (Foobar2000 and the Win32 build of pSX come to mind).
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Old 06-08-2013, 04:37 PM   #21
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Quote:
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2) Any chance I should consider Ubuntu/Wine?
As a full-on Windows replacement for gaming? No.

However, if you're willing to compromise on game availability (Steam for Linux and Kickstarter are working wonders), then you can make it work. A lot of popular applications (Firefox, Chrome, Skype, all come to mind) have straight up Linux versions and there are good open-source alternatives for most common tools.

Last edited by mfenn; 06-09-2013 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 06-08-2013, 05:13 PM   #22
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Thanks Cerb and mfenn.
And now the one I'm afraid to ask.
How many years do you predict I'll be content with this system, which is to say, until the parts begin failing or it's too out-of-date to play games except from the bargain bin?
My guess: 6 years.
Anyone?
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Old 06-08-2013, 06:10 PM   #23
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Good question. I fully expected to be off of my Core 2 Duo by the end of 2011, which I got in 2007. Yet, here I am, in 2013, debating whether Haswell will be worth it for me or not, and thus far, finding only 2 games substandard due to a slow CPU, and only 2 that I haven't bought due to knowing they'll be that way (I don't play competitive FPSes). That my motherboard maxing out at 8GB RAM would be my primary problem was not something I expected.

So, who knows? Now, parts failing will just be your luck. Good stuff is designed to last for many years, but we've had bad caps, and there's always random incidents. Also, lightning and various other power glitches can be hard on some components. I still have ECS K7S5A boards running, from 01-02, no issues. OTOH, a mATX variant recently started having drive controller problems. I've got several blown AM2+, S478, and S775 boards I've been thinking about recapping and putting to work, but only one of them seemed to die by the caps just aging.

Performance-wise, again, who knows? The FX-6300, not overclocked, would definitely warrant replacing sooner than the i5 would, but by how much is an unanswerable question, these days. For instance, if AVX2 really catches on, you might get an upgrade itch in maybe 3 years, but an 3rd-gen i5 would also end up in the same boat. If just based on games getting more demanding, I don't think anyone can really say, given that performance improvements per generation of desktop parts is so small, these days, not counting feature enhancements that result in higher performance (6Gbps SATA+SDD; USB 3.0 + HDD, SSD, CF, UHS-SD; more faster PCI-e for SLI/Xfire; etc.).
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:45 AM   #24
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Aw man. I bought the parts yesterday afternoon, put it all together with help from my son, and when I turned it on everything started spinning, but no beep and nothing on the monitor. Luckily I have a nearby mechanic who owes me a favor. I'm taking it to her place when she opens at 10:00.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:40 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teacher_mark View Post
Thanks so much!

Plan C:
GPU GTX 660 OC 2048MB (open box) 167
CPU AMD FX 6300 Black Edition 3.5GHz Six-Core Socket AM3+ Boxed Processor 165
MoBo ASRock 970 Extreme3 Socket AM3+ 970 ATX AMD Mother
RAM Vengeance Series 8GB DDR3-1600 (PC3-12800) CL9 Dual Channel Desktop Memory Kit (Two 4GB Memory Modules) 75
HDD Barracuda 1TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive ST3100005N1A1AS 70
Power CX Series CX430M 430 Watt ATX Modular Power Supply 55
Case NZXTCrafted Series Tempest 410 Mid Tower ATX Computer Case 58
DVD ASUS DRW-24B1ST Internal DVDR/RW Burner - OEM 20
OS Windows 64-bit 99
total $709

That should leave me enough for a game or two. I'm thinking:
Borderlands 2
Bioshock Infinite
Killzone 3

OK, more questions:
1) Is 430 watts enough, even if I later add an SSD?
2) Any chance I should consider Ubuntu/Wine?
Go with a HD 7850 then as it includes BioShock Infinite for free other than that solid build
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