Recommended Components - Gaming System (Part 2…or 3)

Time for my biennial quest to build a system for my grandsons. Some of you old timers have seen these before.

I am planning on assembling a fairly robust “Gaming” system for my grandsons and am looking for specific recommendations (links and prices) for hardware components.

The system will be running Windows 7 64 Bit and will have Office 2010 loaded (for homework, of course).

The budget for this enterprise is $1,500 - $2,000, but could stretch a little if needed.

I usually buy component parts from Newegg, so if you include links with your list it will make the shopping a lot easier.

Some details based on prior clarification requests:

- Dual monitor capable (have monitors already – not 3D).
- Will not be overclocking.
- SSD for boot drive.
- 2nd HD for storage/backup (at least 1TB).
- Video card ($200-300 range).
- RAM (how much/details)
- Restricted shelf height of only 18" for case
- Whatever else I forgot.

Please ask for clarification. I normally forget much of what you need to answer this.

Thank you
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Hi Vic,

Okay, the restricted height for the case dictates a mid-tower or smaller case.   I'd use a mid-tower to maximize the internal airflow, which is particularly important for a gaming system.

I like the Lian-Li cases, so I'd suggest this:

... but I'm also a "clean, uncluttered case" kind of guy -- and you may want a bit more "pizazz" for your grandson ... so here's an alternative with  some LED lights on the fan and a windowed side panel (not as good a case, but less expensive):

As for the "guts" ==> I'd go with Intel's newest Haswell lineup.     This would be a VERY nice setup:




Power Supply:

(180GB is plenty, but if you want to step up to 240GB use this: ]

Additional storage drive:
[2TB should be fine for this setup; but you could step up to the 3TB WD Red or a 4TB Seagate NAS unit if you want more capacity]

Optical drive:
[I'm assuming a DVD-R/W is all you need ... if you want BluRay capability, buy this instead: ]

Video Card:   This is the most variable item -- you can spend anywhere from $200 to $1000 for varying levels of performance.    This is an excellent card for $250 that should be PLENTY of graphics "oomph" for your grandson:

That should do it -- and will keep you well under $2K ... possibly even a touch under $1500.

Two things you may want to consider:

=>  The stock coolers on the Intel CPU's these days are fine ... especially since the newest generation aren't as power-hungry as previous generations were.    The i7-4771's TDP is only 84 watts.   (earlier generations were 125w or more)    But you may want to consider a 3rd party cooler if you want additional heat dispersion and perhaps a bit less noise.   Personally, I wouldn't bother -- the stock cooler works fine;  and in a gaming system the other fans and the graphics card's cooler are likely to generate more noise than the CPU cooler anyway.

=>  I'd certainly keep a backup image of the system as you configure it; and you MAY want to add a second high-capacity drive to store backups of the system and data on.   As long as you have a good backup strategy, it really doesn't matter how you do it -- the important thing is to be sure you've considered backups !!

Good luck -- this will be a VERY nice system.    If you're grandson doesn't like it, I'll be happy to send you my address :-)

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younghvAuthor Commented:
Hey Gary,
Thank you for the details. I suspect you recently put something like this together.
Some great recommendations and I'll link up to Newegg right now.

<< =>  I'd certainly keep a backup image of the system as you configure it>>

Are you still running TerraByte ( on your own systems?

Heh! If they don't like it, it will look just fine on my desk.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Yes, I still use the Terabyte imaging products for Windows 7.    They don't however, work on Windows 8 Secure Boot systems (they work fine on Windows 8 without Secure Boot).

I'm not a big fan of Windows 8 -- I still use '7 on my main system and will likely continue to do so, although I have installed '8 on one PC just for the experience.

The system I suggested above is almost identical to one I recently built for someone else;  and with the exception of the video card is identical to what I'd build for myself right now if I was going to build a new one [Although I'd have 2 or 3 4TB Seagate NAS drives in addition to a 240GB SSD].
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younghvAuthor Commented:
I was just at the TerraByte site and it looks like their pricing is now for 3xhome systems - and cheaper than when I first started buying it. I will get another license for this system and automate the imaging process.

I'm really sold on Windows 7 and haven't used any of my Windows 8 licenses yet (this old dog doesn't like new tricks).

The total package you recommend above comes in just at the bottom of my budget - which is great. If I were to spend another couple hundred, would a more robust video card get me the most 'bang for my buck'?

I don't want to spend money needlessly, but am willing to spend a little more for a significant increase in performance.
Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information TechnologyCommented:
I suggest a Etch-a-Sketch for.easy reboots along with good sneakers and equipment such as baseball, basketball, football, etc.

If.must insist then i suggest the following:

Intel i7 cpu
32 gb ram
Gigabyte motherboard
1 ssd drive (OS boot drive)
Large SAS/SATA drive
Nvidia video card
Dvd rw drive
Good webcam
Win8 license
younghvAuthor Commented:
Thank you for posting but you would do well to review both my original question and the comments from 'garycase'.

The list you gave me offers virtually no usable information, repeats information already given in both my original post (and Gary's), and includes a suggestion that I specifically excluded.

Effective experts on EE will always carefully read the original question and ALL of the subsequent responses before posting.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
"... I don't want to spend money needlessly, but am willing to spend a little more for a significant increase in performance. "  ==>   I'm not a gamer, so my perspective is a bit different than a hard core gamer would have, but I think a GTX 760 has PLENTY of performance for the vast majority of games.    It scores 5049 on PassMark's G3D Mark -- not the best gaming benchmark perhaps, but nevertheless a good indicator of 3D performance (which is the most significant element in gaming performance).    By way of comparison, a $1000 GTX Titan scores 8202.     You could step up to a $400 GTX 770, which scores 6283, or a $660 GTX 780 (scores 7948) ... but in relative terms I think that's a lot of extra money for a relatively modest gain in performance.

I'd be more inclined to just stay with the GTX 760 ... and if you later decide you want to enhance your grandson's graphics performance just buy ANOTHER GTX 760 and run them in SLI mode :-)     [If you think there's any chance you'll want to do that someday, be sure you keep the SLI bridge connector that comes with the motherboard.]

What you might want to do is buy one of the "Superclocked" versions of the 760 ... these are overclocked by design, with cooling systems designed for this higher level of performance.    Probably the two best reviewed ones are EGA and MSI:

These both have 4GB of memory as well (compared to 2GB on the card I listed earlier).

I'd definitely think one of these is all the video card you need !!
[But of course you can always add a 2nd one of them in SLI mode too :-) ]

You can boost the video card to one of these;  up the SSD to 240GB; go for a BluRay optical drive (just in case);  and still be well under your budget ceiling.

I agree with your views on Windows 7 ... I also bought several Windows 8 licenses when they were on sale in Dec/Jan ($40 ea), but haven't used any of them ... and likely won't.

If you buy the Terabyte package with Boot-It BM, IFD, and IFW, you can install Boot-It BM as a boot manager (even with just the one system to boot); and then it's trivial to do a restore if you ever need to.   Then you can either image via IFD (from within Boot-It BM), or do it "live" using IFW from within Windows.    I never used to trust "live imaging", but have been using IFW for some time and it works very well.
younghvAuthor Commented:
The other video cards look pretty good, but I think I'll hold off. As you note, I can always upgrade (Christmas and birthdays coming up).

I've been sold on Boot-It since you first mentioned it years ago and will definitely go with it.

FWIW - I'll leave this open the rest of the day to see if anyone else posts some thoughts, then close it out.

Thank you for all the detailed information.

"Windows 7...everything that Vista should have been."
younghvAuthor Commented:
Perfect, detailed solution.
Thank you for taking the time to put this together.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
You're welcome, as always.    Post a note when it's all together :-)
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