Trying to build super budget gaming PC, need good opinions!

Hey guys, I need some help. I am new to gaming PC's, but very eager to learn, so please, help me learn, and don't be super mean. You were all newbs at some point I presume. That being said, I am attempting to build a new PC for under $250. I have a few parts that can crossover from my old,"build" so it's not all brand new.

                                        THESE ARE THE PARTS I NEED TO COST UNDER $250.

MOTHERBOARD: So, I am thinking, I want to get a GIGABYTE GA-78LMT-S2 AM3+, upgradable to 16GB Ram, so it's a little but future proof than 8GB limitations. Not getting much good with the SATA2 ports, but I don't have a nice HDD anyways. I do not care about USB 3.0, or 6Gb/s SATAs. ($50)

CPU: I like the AMD FX-4300, it's 3.8Ghz, (4.0OC) Quad Core. I am split between that and a Six-Core CPU in the same price range($120). I need your advice as to which I should go with. How important is the number of cores vs the speed?

RAM: GSkill 1333 8GB Ram cartridge. ($48)

I have my exisitng GPU: EVGA GeForce 8800GT(Need to upgrade that I know), my old 550w MicroATX PSU, and my old 160GB HDD. I really wanted a good CPU and alot of RAM. I feel RAM is my largest setback right now because I want 64-bit OS, and 2GB ain't gonna cut it.

OVERVIEW: Is this build going to be decent? Is there room for upgrading to make a good gaming PC down the road without replacing the motherboard and CPU? Does the RAM speed matter, because my motherboard will only reach DDR3 1333 speeds. If not, I'd like some reccomendations. I understand this was a somewhat long post, but I am eager to learn, and build, so any help would be very much appreciated.

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JOlr

Possibly the most potential performance you can squeeze out of that budget.

The reason I recommended the Phenom II X6 1045T is because it is a fully fledged 6 core processor for $100 and it happens to be one of the easiest things to overclock on. It can be readily raised to 3.5 GHz or higher simply by raising the bus rate and touching nothing else. Well, you may have to change the System Bus to RAM Clock Rate multiplier to keep it stable. But speaking of the RAM stability issue, that is why I recommended such crazy fast RAM. That and it is really cheap, matches the Motherboard, and will give you the overhead room to overclock the processor and not even mess with anything else because you should be able to push the processor to 3.5 GHz before the preset multiplier pushes the RAM over 2133 MHz (the preset multiplier should have your RAM clocked at somewhere between 1066 MHz and 1333 MHz, since that is what the memory controller on the processor natively recognizes.) 

Honestly, until you overclock the processor past 3.5 GHz, it doesn't even need the aftermarket heatsink, but it is a really good idea to go ahead and spend a little money on one.

Anyway, moving on from that, When you do have some more money, you should certainly consider upgrading your graphics card. Even a $100 option is worth the investment (a Geforce GTX 650 isn't a horrible choice, neither is a Radeon HD 7770.) The reason I wanted to recommend spending extra money on the MSI board isn't even because it is better for overclocking, (it isn't by the way, no board sub $120 is going to cut it for adjusting the voltage on the processor or RAM) but because it supports Crossfire and SLI. Unfortunately with Nvidia, you have to get a Geforce GTX 660 to get the option to SLI multiple cards, but if you want to look older, the Geforce GTX 460 may be a good place to start. In terms of AMD, the 7770 supports Crossfire, and on top of that, it usually scales very well. So you can get a single card at first and upgrade later when it is even cheaper.

*Edit: I found a nice tutorial with an older MSI board, but the Cell Menu should still look familiar on the newer 970 chipset boards.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PryUImP6pkk

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/JOuu

Add more ram when you have the money and aftermarket cooler also...

Ram speed doesnt make any diffference in gaming...

Motherboard is a little expensive (if only a little) but the RAM is needlessly expensive for what you are getting. 

First off, I'd like to say that I appreciate your effort in your response, you took alot of time, thank you. :)

I REALLY LIKE THIS BOARD! I searched for a long time, and put my cap on spending on a motherboard low, so I could buy a better CPU, and you've managed to trump all of my plans. Good job.

My old PSU and case are microATX, will it be possible to use this board still?

-Also, the Six-Core CPU is worth it then? A Six core CPU at 2.7Ghz beats a Quad core 4.0Ghz? Like I said, I am learning,(Or trying to at least), I'm not undermining your choice, I am simply asking. :)

-Awesome choice with the RAM, I like that it gets alot, and is compatible with high RAM speeds. How important is this? I hear RAM speeds aren't very important?

-Also, I am struggling to understand SLI and crossfire, sorry. :o So, it does not matter that one PCIe is x16 and one is x8? And let me get this right. If I want to SLI two Nvidia's, there are very limited choices that are SLI compatible with my system? Is that because of my motherboard? Or are Nvidia GPU's like that? And am I limited to a few crossfire cards for AMD? Can you explain why, (for future reference?)

OVERALL: I'd really like to proceed with this build, so long as you can confirm my other worries listed. You did an excellent job with these tips. Also, if you could give me a Skype name or something so we can teach me somethings over voice chat or something, it'd really help. Like I said, I want to learn, and you know alot as you've just proven.

First off, I'd like to say that I appreciate your effort in your response, you took alot of time, thank you. :)

I REALLY LIKE THIS BOARD! I searched for a long time, and put my cap on spending on a motherboard low, so I could buy a better CPU, and you've managed to trump all of my plans. Good job.

My old PSU and case are microATX, will it be possible to use this board still?

-Also, the Six-Core CPU is worth it then? A Six core CPU at 2.7Ghz beats a Quad core 4.0Ghz? Like I said, I am learning,(Or trying to at least), I'm not undermining your choice, I am simply asking. :)

-Awesome choice with the RAM, I like that it gets alot, and is compatible with high RAM speeds. How important is this? I hear RAM speeds aren't very important?

-Also, I am struggling to understand SLI and crossfire, sorry. :o So, it does not matter that one PCIe is x16 and one is x8? And let me get this right. If I want to SLI two Nvidia's, there are very limited choices that are SLI compatible with my system? Is that because of my motherboard? Or are Nvidia GPU's like that? And am I limited to a few crossfire cards for AMD? Can you explain why, (for future reference?)

OVERALL: I'd really like to proceed with this build, so long as you can confirm my other worries listed. You did an excellent job with these tips. Also, if you could give me a Skype name or something so we can teach me somethings over voice chat or something, it'd really help. Like I said, I want to learn, and you know alot as you've just proven.

Yeah also, takes up all four slots. When I decide to upgrade, I'll have to replace some and resell for cheaper, or keep as a paper weight.

Also you never go with a single module of RAM, I don't know why people keep doing that. Is that how their builds are? It really slow down you computer.

Nope it works just fine.

Dual/triple chanell is overrated

First of all: I have a skype, but I ignore it mostly because I don't have a microphone on my desktop, and I've been ignoring it for the past 2 years because I'm much better at typing than I am at speaking what I mean.

Having said that, I do have a google+ that you can find me on, my info is on my profile page, find me and I'll chat with you there.

Anyway, back to the advice: I can't really work off of being told that a power supply is "micro-ATX" and let me explain why. Micro-ATX is not actually a standard for power supplies like PS2/ATX and EPS. In most cases where a power supply is not the standard PS2/ATX size, it is an SFX power supply. Most often these are particularly tiny and are used in mini-ITX builds because they should rightfully fit into a tiny case. The thing about whether or not a power supply will function with a certain component is hardly even about if it has the right connectors, but more, if it has the appropriate wattage and can handle the amperage required by the component over the given rail that the component intends to draw it through. That is all in leadup to this: there are adapters for everything. They are often hard to find, but they are out there. So you can easily plug the four-pin EPS connector that just about every post-2000 power supply has into an adapter along with a Molex connector and get an 8-pin EPS connector for your efforts. This isn't ideal, because usually it draws power from multiple rails, which can cause minor stability issues, but it would work until you could afford to upgrade to a different power supply. The same is true in the case that you need a four-pin connector to add to your 20-pin ATX main power connector (Again, most post-2000 computers will come with a power supply that supports 24-pin main power connectors) you can find a molex adapter for them. I keep referring to using molex adapters because they are really simple, most adapters use them, and all power supplies are more than happy to provide you with copious amounts of them. Despite the obvious fact that almost everything has moved towards SATA connectors which use different power connections.

Cases: For some reason I totally didn't catch the part about your case being Micro-ATX, and for that I feel really silly, because I recommended a board that is full ATX. right... If you can send me the specifications for your case, I can check and see if it will fit. Otherwise, you may wind up having to go without SLI or Crossfire support (which is really sad, but most Micro-ATX boards don't support it due to a lack of space and/or manufacturers being retarded.) If it turns out not to fit, though, you can likely save money which you would invariably use on the graphics card.

If your case doesn't have any capacity to hold a full ATX board, then I might recommend this board instead:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813130657

It isn't anywhere near as impressive as the other one, but it would suffice to fit in the case. Understandably the budget is very restrictive in what you can do with the build, but it might be worth the extra money to buy an inexpensive full ATX case to fit the build in. Like these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811233073

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811146075

I really like the NZXT one, as it has some fairly nice looks and cooling options.

CPU's: I've looked at a bunch of the benchmarks related to the Phenom II X6 and it's older (newer) brother the FX-6300. Needless to say, the old Phenom II X6 performs within about 10-15% of the new FX 6300 and it has a native clock rate that is 800 MHz slower. Ordinarily this would be a deal breaker if you were comparing two of the same generation of processor that have the same native bus rate and locked multipliers, but in the case of the Phenom II, you have a significantly slower native bus rate, so you can use the difference between the native bus rate of the AM3+ motherboard and that on the CPU to push the CPU to a higher clock rate, often without having to adjust the voltages (which is good when you are running it on an older power supply of dubious quality, or on a motherboard unintended for serious overclocking.) The other benefit that this poses by not having to twiddle with the core voltages on your CPU is that you hardly need to worry about burning out or "bricking" your processor because the main reason that the processors run really warm when overclocking is because of the increased voltage. I've found quite a few youtube reviews of overclocking the Phenom II X6 series of locked multiplier processors, and they get them to over 3.5 GHz on stock cooling. That is pretty bonkers by overclocking standards.

Continuing on about the CPU, the greater the number of cores the better for newer games. As games go along, especially with the introduction of newer severely multi-cored consoles, games are going to move to making use of several cores. If you don't plan on doing any gaming or other tasks that use more than four cores, then you might be better off in getting a 4.0 GHz quad core, but I tend to favor having more cores. I say this because I often find that I have a lot of tasks open that are fairly demanding on the CPU. Things such as Photoshop, Mathematica, downloads (speeds higher than 1 Mb/s tend to bog down a CPU thread), installations of software, etc. Having multiple full cores makes multi-tasking much smoother, as the processes don't have to wait and interrupt a thread to process, they can just hop onto an unused core.

Now, talking about cores and threads. Threads are basically how many operations a processor can process in a given clock cycle. AMD processors have single-threaded cores, while some Intel chips will use multi-threaded cores. Multi-threaded cores perform two calculations per clock cycle by pushing one at the beginning and another at the end of each cycle. I tend to think about it as the leading and trailing edge of a truncated sine function (square wave). AMD has to use more real cores to acheive the same level of functionality as certain Intel chips, but they have better consistancy for the performance per core across many tasks. Plus with hyperthreading, it can only really do two threads from the same task, so when you have a bunch of things open, things still run faster than if it weren't hyper threaded, but it will still get bogged down more than if you had the same number of threads spread out across real cores. This is the basic principal for why Intel bothers with the i5 series when the i3 is a hyperthreaded dual core. The i5 happens to have four real cores and no hyper threading, and consequently outperforms the i3 in every respect.

Anyway, to help enlighten you about SLI and Crossfire: basically these are two sides of the same coin, SLI refers to the Nvidia option while Crossfire is for AMD. They both function off of the same principle that you get more performance out of games if you take the computations and you split them, simulatenously, between two cards, then stitch everything back together again. As far as compatability goes, AMD is much easier to crossfire things with than Nvidia. With Nvidia SLI, you have to have two GPUs from the same generation within the same series (GTX 460 can only be SLI'd with another GTX 460, but the brand doesn't matter unless it is a specialty card with a custom chipset.) With AMD you can crossfire two or more cards as long as the first two numbers in the card's name match. So you could theoretically crossfire a Radeon HD 7850 with a 7870. Now this will impact the effectiveness or "scaling" of the Crossfire, but it would still work most of the time. "Scaling" referrs to how a game or other application employs or is optimized for multi-card setups. Usually multi-card systems do not scale 100%, that is, you do not just add the two max fps of the cards to get the fps of the multi-card system. So if a single graphics card performs with an average frame rate of 30 fps in a benchmark, you shouldn't expect two of them to perform with 60 fps average on the same benchmark. Often SLI or Crossfire systems will perform with about 80% effectiveness. 

As far as which cards have the native capacity to Crossfire or SLI, you have to refer to the card's pcb design. With Nvidia, they've had SLI for quite a while and in past generations have offered it as low as their entry-level cards. Now, with the gurrent generation of GTX 6xx cards, they offer it solely on the GTX 660 and up, as well as the GTX Titan. Most Nvidia cards from the current generation support multi-SLI, such as triple or quad SLI, this is denoted by having two SLI connectors on the top of each card. With Crossfire, many AMD cards offer Crossfire support, some don't even require a bridge to do so as long as they are used in an appropriate motherboard with a compatible chipset. However, when looking to crossfire with AMD, it is more important to look at the individual cards to determine which series supports what level of Crossfire. Some Radeon HD 7770s support crossfire, but the usually only support 2-way Crossfire.

In terms of recommendations on what to use in a multi-card setup, I usually will recommend going with about as expensive of a card as you can afford at the time of purchase, from a brand that you know will keep it available for a while (MSI, Asus, EVGA, etc) so that when you go to buy the second or third one later, you can find them and they will likely be relatively cheap. And it is always a good idea to match the brands of GPUs so you have as few potential issues as possible. And it is also a good idea to match the brand of GPU with the brand of motherboard, but this is less important unless you want to buy Asus ROG stuff, in which case you can actually get BIOS level voltage control of your GPU with specifica Asus ROG GPUs.

Dual, Triple and Quad channel RAM is not overrated and is instead highly recommended as the computer will load the data onto the RAM two, three or four modules simultaneously instead of writing to one and then to another and then to another. It makes for a significantly faster read/write speed on the RAM for the same reason that setting two drives in RAID zero is so benefitial.

The most important thing about RAM: after about 8 GB, any more with the current generation of games/applications is really just for security. 

The second most important thing to know about RAM: Speed does matter, but only to a point. RAM speeds scale very nicely on most motherboards up to the 1866 MHz point for DDR3 RAM. Past that you usually don't get enough performance return to compensate the investment made into the RAM. The main reason why I keep recommending the 2133 MHz stuff from Patriot is because it is absolutely gorgeous and it is really cheap for 8 GB of the stuff. If it were significantly more expensive, then I wouldn't bother. The other reason I recommend it is that any overclocking that involves the FSB or the system bus clock (depending on if we are talking Intel or AMD, although on an extended side note, Intel has eschewed the standard FSB from past generations for an integrated bus similar to AMD) will also have an effect on your RAM clock speed. Thus if you don't have enough control over your RAM's system bus to RAM clock multiplier, then you may need to start out with RAM that has a faster native clock rate so that once your CPU's integrated controller clocks it down to 1333 or 1866 (Intel and AMD respectively) you can start adjusting your bus rate with little concern for the RAM timings suddenly shooting up so high that they become unstable.

The third most important thing about RAM: Heat spreaders don't really matter until you change the voltages. This is another reason why faster RAM is better RAM. If you underclock faster RAM it also happens to run cooler because you can drop the voltage and get good performance at really impressive timings (most motherboards will take care of this stuff for you, especially Intel ones with their XMP profiles.)

Its like comparing having 1 road for cars to go through instead of having 2 roads. The 1 road will get stuck up more with traffic as the 2 roads will be able to move cars a lot faster!

I agree, I see people doing this all the time and it kills me a little inside! 

Seriously I can't explain how appreciative of your help I am, I've learned alot so far.

Well all of my specs are availible on my profile, so I didn't feel it was necesarry to mention all of that stuff, but it turned out I should have! :o lol Anways I have a stock eMachines T5062 case, which has a HT2000 MCP61PM-AM motherboard. (There are two motherboards with the same serial number with varying sizes of RAM capacity, and mine is 2GB.) I am already using both Molex plugs with an adapter to power my 8800GT, so I could have an issue using a molex adapter to power my new motherboard with my existing power supply, right? Maybe you can take a look at my PC and think about options.

I really liked the ATX board you reccomended, and that case is badass and doesn't cost all that much, so that is cool. I will just go with the ATX board previously noted, and the CPU and buy the new case. 

You've cleared all of that mess up with the Crossfire and SLI, I had a feeling that's what it was, but I didn't know that stuff about the compatibility between some same series AMD cards. That's neat.

And yeah Crossfire seems possible down the road soon, so I'd like to have a setup that can accomidate that. So anyways, using the right cards obviously, you can SLI/Crossfire with  x16 PCI-e and x8 PCI-e slots on your computer? (Sorry if you answered that. I may have missed it.)

 

It makes no difference because only one lane is enough.

I have done, tests with single, dual and quad memory chanels and the result was in the margine of error.

here is single vs dual f.e

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgLCEMW-kfY

Also faster ram 2400 MHz vs 1333MHz makes no diifference in gaming (makes 10-15% in winzip compression/decompression)

 

I would appreciate if you people would start testing some stuff and making experience of your own, instead of copy/pasting some elite HW snobs opinions who have more money than brains...

I would love to know your results from testing with DDR3 RAM instead of DDR2, also, I would like to know what the specs of the system were that you tested it on, so I can tell if the memory controller was integrated into the processor or into the motherboard. It can make a difference. 

On a side note, referencing DDR2 PC2-6400 is hardly relevant when talking about the current generation of products, as the technology behind the memory controller has moved into the processor and is much, much more efficient at what it does.

I'm very sorry that I couldn't help you find a solution to help you within the current budget and with the current case. I know how endeared one can become to one of the old computer cases you've had for ages (I just stuffed my current build into my old HP Pavilion 752n case. Let me tell you, newer full-length PS2/ATX power supplies simply do not fit well into that case. They happen to be too long to fit past all the metal support struts. So I had to chop some of the case apart, I also had to make some fairly significant modifications to the back of the case to accomodate a 120mm Corsair AF series fan. It's really neat, and still incredibly sturdy and heavy.

Unfortunately, your power supply doesn't appear to have an 8-pin EPS connector. Although it isn't exactly necessary on certain CPU's and motherboards to have the full 8-pin, it is highly recommended as it may underclock or otherwise disable certain functions of the CPU (Such as disabling two cores, or running the whole thing at a lower, constant clock speed.) 

In terms of gaining some more points of connection for molex, there are extensions that you can use that will also add more connectors, but it isn't recommended since it can put a strain on one of your rails if it isn't designed for that kind of draw. So you could just pick up an adapter for the extra 4-pin EPS that you need, just make sure that the shape of the plugs match the shape of the socket that needs filling. EPS and ATX sockets are all keyed so that you don't plug a different connector into it (Which is how they keep you from frying components by plugging an 8-pin PCI-e connector into the 8-pin EPS connector, and vice-versa.

So you could spend about $15 dollars on an adapter, or $50 on a newer power supply with the appropriate connectors. I like the Corsair builder series or CX series. Whichever is cheaper. Note, with the Geforce 8800 GT each one has a maximum draw of 100W (as per the Nvidia specifications page, which also seems to have gotten the numbeer of power connectors wrong (a 6-pin and an 8-pin?) so you could technically run two of those off a 500W power supply, but a 600W is a much safer choice.

Do please realize that I'm not trying to goad you into spending your money on these things, because I hate for people to go over their budget, because it causes a lot of stress and frustration. 

Basically, it is possible to get you an upgraded system with a much nicer processor for sub-$250 that would fit in your current case and work with your current power supply, but you would have to sacrifice the option of SLI or Crossfire with future graphics card upgrades.

It is also possible to build a system that can use the current power supply with a new case and a board that supports SLI or Crossfire, but with limited support for the processor in question due to the lack of appropriate connectors.

Or you can really go over-budget by about $100 dollars and replace everything from your old build but the storage and graphics card and replace the processor with a 6 core, the motherboard with one that supports SLI or Crossfire, and an appropriate power supply:

http://pcpartpicker.com/p/KDRJ

Anyway, back to answering questions: Crossfire/SLI can accomodate multiple different speeds/bandwidths of PCI-e, but they obviously work better when they have the same connectivity, that is why most motherboard will strive to have at least two of the PCI-e connectors with full X16 connectivity. If not, then they will usually opt to split it so that you can have x8 on two or x4 on three. With the MSI board, it will run with x16 on one and x8 on two. If you feel like buying another Geforce 8800 GT to SLI them for a cheap thrill, then it would have no real difference between x8 and x16. Newer cards higher than the mid-ranged cards will have a more noticeable performance difference due to the lower bandwidth. If you have multiple PCI-e slots that you are trying to SLI/Crossfire across of varied bandwidth/lanes, then the motherboard will usually do very much like how it does with RAM and it will downgrade then all to match the lowest denominator. So if you are SLI/Crossfir-ing across three PCI-e slots where one is running X16, one is running x8 and one is running x1, then it will usually reduce all of them to operating at x1. It seems really silly, but it is to help the system run more efficiently, despite the fact that it could be more powerful letting it run at different speeds. (In saying that, if you have a PCI-e slot without a back, you can actually run any sized PCI-e card in any size PCI-e slot, it will just run at whatever the maximum supported lane width is for the PCI-e slot (some motherboard manufacturers have gotten to where they do not control the lane width of the PCI-e slots with software controls, but instead by simply not adding contacts past a certain number of lanes within the slot itself, so the slot may look as though it accomodates x16 cards even though it only has the contacts for x4 cards.)