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More Bang, Less Buck. My First PC Build – Part 1

I’m fairly new to PC components, and I haven’t been into PC games since the glory days of Unreal Tournament. My Antec colleagues swear by the mouse and keyboard, so I’m at a loss when they huddle up and talk about hacking and slashing through WoW and micromanaging Protoss legions in Starcraft 2. It’s time to get a piece of the action for myself. With some valuable input from my Antec pals Jessie, Dennis and Stavros, and our partners at ASUS and Kingston, I put together a gaming build that emphasizes the best performance-price ratio.

I’m Nick Pinkerton, Antec technical writer and aspiring nerd. I’m your average console gamer, but I can see myself getting into some great PC-exclusive titles and eagerly anticipating Battlefield 3, RAGE, and whatever else comes out in the next couple of years. Our hardware enthusiasts at Antec and my experiences at PAX East & last month’s Antec gaming marathon have piqued my interest in working with the hardware, getting connected with the community, and vanquishing foes with a click of the mouse. I made this all possible with a price-performance build that comfortably runs current-gen games at moderate settings. And this is at a price that did not break the bank or forecast a bevy of upgrades.

This is my first gaming PC. I didn’t want to complicate things with overclocking, exotic coolers or SLI graphics configurations. There is a large variety of mid-level and budget-friendly components out there. Building my ideal system was a matter of selecting the best hardware based on efficiency, stability and performance. A little flair wouldn’t hurt either.

Here is a summary of my components and their corresponding street prices:

Pricing Source: Newegg.com

One Hundred Gaming Case

One Hundred Gaming Case

To house my first build, I went with the practical, yet attractive Antec One Hundred. It has four USB 2.0 ports, which is great for my thumb drives, my music recording device, and my trusty Sony Walkman. And with its spiffy all-black design, the One Hundred makes me look like a legit gamer and builder.

Anchoring the build was the Intel Core i3-2100 with Sandy Bridge technology, something I was very pleased to get a hold of for an affordable price. Besides, I didn’t need a quad core with my single-GPU setup, and I wasn’t going to overclock.

The ASUS P8P67-M Pro came with everything I needed in an ATX motherboard – including two USB 3.0 ports and SATA 3 6.0 Gbps – all in a compact form factor to clean up the build’s appearance.

The ASUS GTS450 OC graphics card was a great choice for both price and performance since it runs cooler and quieter than the standard 450 model and costs $30 less than the GTX460. A 1GB graphics card that comes overclocked out of the box sounds right to me. And  a few bucks here and there can make a big difference in your funds without compromising your system’s performance.

Antec High Current Gamer HCG-520

The HCG-520 PSU

To power up my system, I chose the Antec High Current Gamer HCG-520 PSU. Contrary to popular belief, “gaming PC” doesn’t mean you need a 1000W PSU. 520 watts is plenty for my build and 80 PLUS® Bronze efficiency helps keep the power bill under control. So even when I gun down opponents in Battlefield 3 at the tune of Iron Maiden’s “Aces High,” I’m in good hands.

For a HDD, I bought a Seagate Barracuda 750GB which is $10 more than their 500GB model. Extra storage at that price is worth it. I topped off the build with 4GB of Kingston HyperX Blu DDR3 RAM. It was only a couple bucks more than their well-reviewed ValueRAM, and it was worth the upgrade based on the shiny blue looks alone.
There you have it: the components for my first build. Now I just have to figure out what to do after opening all these boxes. Maybe I’ll make a fort.

Next week I’ll share the performance capabilities of this rig and describe the process of assembling the components. That means build pics and in-game screenshots! Until then, keep on pwning.

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