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Athlon64 Gaming Build ~$1500 budget

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November 24, 2005 6:28:10 PM

First off, thanks in advance for reading this and offering any suggestions you might have. I've been doing a lot of reasearch the last few days, and these forums have so far been an invaluable source of information.

That being said, this is the first time I've attempted to build my own computer. Having spent a fair amount of time considering the plethora of options, I think I've come up with a build that will meet my goals, which are as follows:

1) My top priority is stability and reliability. I would much rather spend a few extra bucks and have less headaches than save a bit and pay for it in brain-pain. However, to the extent that I can save and not lose any quality, I'm open to suggestions.

2) Second priority would be gaming performance. I want this system to rock now and for at least a few years into the future. My current gaming addiction is World of Warcraft. I'm also a fan of the Total War series, and would like to revisit FPS games as well--especially considering all the new eye-candy they are coming out with!

3) Third priority would be over-clocking potential--but with a caveat. I've never done any overclocking before, so rather than getting parts that have the most potential, I would rather have safer parts that will be more user-friendly and user-safe.

With those goals in mind, here's the build that I've come up with. I'll probably order all of the parts at once from NewEgg, as they seem to be well respected and tend to have the cheapest prices anyways.

Motherboard: ASUS A8N-E Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 Ultra ATX AMD Motherboard for around $110. Solid motherboard with future upgrade potential, good brand that should be stable, and still have some overclocking potential, without all the confusing bells and whistles that a DFI would have. Other options that I've considered are the ABIT AN8-ULTRA or the CHAINTECH VNF4/Ultra. I really wonder if there is any practical difference between the ASUS and Abit. I've heard good things about the Chaintech, which costs considerably less (and comes in black!), but I wonder if I would end up getting what I pay for. Any suggestions here?

CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3200+ Venice 1GHz FSB 512KB L2 Cache Socket 939 Processor for $152. From what I've read this is the best bang for the buck. Over-clocks up to 3700 speeds without much trouble, and the real limit on gaming power is the GPU anyways, so why go crazy with the CPU? I am curious about one thing though--what is the difference between the Venice, San Diego, and other city names that come along with AMD cpu's? I've looked and not been able to find any explanation of that.

Video Card: BFG Tech BFGR78256GTCOD2 Geforce 7800GT 256MB 256-bit GDDR3 VIVO PCI Express x16 Video Card bundled with Call of Duty 2 for $369. This is the one area that I'm most likely to splurge. I've read good things about BFG, but there are so many brands of cards out there it is hard to find any noticable difference between any of them. I do wonder if the price of the 7800GT is really worth it, compared to a 6800 of some sort that will cost around half as much.

Case: Thermaltake Tsunami VA3000BWA Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case for $95 after rebate. Yeah, I know that this is one area that I could easily save some cash on, but I kinda like this case. Blue lights, side window, big fans (including a side fan), stylish body, and USB/Audio jacks on top that have a cover to keep dust out. So long as there are no drawbacks other than the price, I think this is the one for me. Biggest concern is good air-flow. Oh, and I'm also wondering if I'll need any extra fans, or just go with what is included with everything.

Power Supply Unit: Antec SmartPower 2.0 SP-450 ATX12V 450W Power Supply 115/230 V UL, TUV, CB, FCC CLASS B, CUL for $67. I've read good things about Antec, and 450W should be plenty for my power needs.

System Memory:CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM Unbuffered DDR 400 (PC 3200) Dual Channel Kit System Memory for $219 after $25 mail-in rebate. This is one area that I really am still uncertain of. It sounds like 2 gigs is probably overkill for current games, but World of Warcraft is apparently a memory hog, and this seems like a good price for good quality RAM. I don't know too much about the different spec options for RAM, but this kit seems like it should be plenty fast. Any other options I should seriously consider?

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 ST380817AS 80GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache Serial ATA150 Hard Drive for $62. I don't need a lot of storage space, as I'm not into having gobs of movies or tunes on my computer. This seems to be decent quality and should get the job done nicely.

Optical Drives: LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model SOHD-16P9SV for $21, and a LITE-ON Black 52X CD-R 32X CD-RW 52X CD-ROM 1.5M Cache ATAPI / E-IDE CD Burner for $22. Lite-On sounds like a decent brand. Any objections?

Operating System: Microsoft Windows XP Professional With Service Pack 2 for $146. I've got XP Pro on my laptop and have been very happy with it. Really wouldn't consider using anything else.

Monitor: ViewSonic VA1912wb Black 19" 8ms LCD Widescreen Monitor 300 cd/m2 500:1 Built in Speakers for $309. Sounds like a good deal for a quality LCD screen that should be able to keep up with everything else--and it's wide-screen to boot!

Well, I think that's about everything. Please let me know if I've left anything out or picked stuff that won't work together. Total price comes to around $1572 after rebates, which as probably the most I would be willing to spend. Other stuff I already have or will just buy locally, such as speakers, keyboard, etc.

Thanks again for any comments and suggestions you might have, and double thanks for actually reading all this!

Cheers! :p 
November 24, 2005 9:50:00 PM

First off....WHOA, you created a well formatted and very well put together presentation.....thank you. its much easier to read long posts when they are formatted correcly. Now lets get down and dirty.

Motherboard:
Personally I would give you 3 options....DFI Ultra-D, Epox EP-9NPA+Ultra, and the Chaintech VNF4 board. The DFI will be confusing for OC'ing....so that one is out. You are left with the Chaintech and the EPoX board....either one should be good for you, they both OC quite well and have controls that are much easier to use then the DFI board.

The Abit board is alright, and i dont like tha Asus board......just to give you reasons why i didn't chose them.


CPU:
The difference between venice and San Diego is venice has 512k of cache and San Diego has 1mb. Its not a huge deal, but it does add a slight amount of performance for you. Personally i would get the 3200+ like you said. You are good to go with that.

Video Card:
Yes, the 7800 Series is worth it....for 369 you are getting an amazing card made by the best brand. 6800 Series has some cards of value in there, but you want a 7800GT....and BFG is a GREAT brand....You chose wisely.

Case: I dont give a f*ck what you put it in.....thats your call. So have fun

Power Supply Unit:
NOPE! You want something from Enermax or Fortron source....in the 400-450 range. Personally i would go with....http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E16817103464
Its a better brand, better PSU, and its under rated meaning it can do about 15% above what its rated without killing your machine....so its way better.

System Memory:
Get exactly what you have....you wont be able to OC as much with 2GB of ram....but you can use a ram divider....dont worry. You made a good choice. I would gowith 1Gb for the higher OC's with a 1:1 but this is another way to skin a cat.

Hard Drive:
Excellent choice

Optical Drives:
Are you getting both? do you want two drives? because you could get a CDRW drive with a DVD player in it for less then the total of the two....
Lite-on is a good brand for optical dirves....good choices.

Operating System:
Good choice

Monitor:
Dont know about this monitor. Sorry, i know Dell has good ones but you have to wait for deals and specials to get them dowm to 350-420bucks. Some people dont mind waiting some do....
November 24, 2005 10:24:22 PM

looks great so far dude.. I can't wait to eventually get my BFG card


Good Luck on the build.

and yes the San Diego is a wiser choice.
Related resources
November 25, 2005 9:27:26 PM

Well, I just placed the order! I decided to change the Mobo to the Epox one. Same price as the Asus, better for OC, and it isn't a nasty color of yellow :wink: I also switched the PSU to the Enermax and got a non-widescreen SCEPTRE monitor.

Thanks again for the input, both on this thread and all of the others. They were an invaluable source of information for this comp-buiding newb.

I'll be sure to post an update when I get everything put together and up and running.

Cheers!
November 25, 2005 11:47:28 PM

Very sweet build.
December 6, 2005 5:15:11 AM

All done! Got the parts all in last Thursday, put it all together, and everything installed smooth and perfectly. I couldn't be happier! And just for purposes of comparison, I ran 3dMark on both my old sytem and the new one, and the old one scored somewhere around 850. New one--over 8000. Yay!

Oh, and on a side note--a friend of mine also built a similar build, but he went with a clear plastic case (Sunbeam perhaps?), an Abit mobo, and some strange PSU that had pretty green cable covers. I think everything is working now, but the PSU was bad, and I think his optical drive was bad as well. He ended up replacing the PSU with an Enermax, and everything is fine now.

So thanks again for all the input! After using it for a while and seeing how it does perhaps I'll tinker with overclocking, but for now I really don't see the need.
December 6, 2005 5:50:21 AM

THank you.....you are the first to come back and say everything is going well...

i am glad i could help....my computer gets 4500 on 3dmark05.....lol, i have a bitchass computer....lol.

Excellent call on the epox board and the enermax PSU.

clear plastic cases are nice in theory, but unless your buddy installs some good filters and seals the case well he is going to have du bunnies EVERYWHERE for everyone to see.

A clean computer is good to look at, dirty ones dont need a clear case.
December 9, 2005 1:44:37 AM

just a question pickxx.
Is there any reason for your preferences of mobo's ?
myself prefer MSi because Asus and msi are mostly available around here it seems. Some asrock and DFI here and there but that seems about it. Maybe I should look better?
December 9, 2005 1:46:40 AM

MSI is better than Assrocks...but that ain't saying much...
December 9, 2005 2:06:42 AM

Quote:
just a question pickxx.
Is there any reason for your preferences of mobo's ?
myself prefer MSi because Asus and msi are mostly available around here it seems. Some asrock and DFI here and there but that seems about it. Maybe I should look better?


The reason i would pick like 5 other board makers over asus is because they perform well, cheaper, and dont have random ass bugs like asus.

MSI is alright....but the EPoX board has show great OCing with a low cost, DFI is the OC'ing mecca, the Chaintech VNF4 board is UBERcheap and is ROCK SOLID!

its not that i dislike MSI, its that i like other ones better.
December 9, 2005 2:07:14 AM

Quote:
mostly available around here it seems.


Where is "here"??
December 9, 2005 2:22:17 AM

belgium.

Anyway, if any belgium people are hanging out around here too.
I would greatly appreciate some more stores where i could buy hardware cheap. Bets i know atm is www.forcom.be and www.tones.be. Those both places sell MSI and Asus mostly.
I know some other stores that sell other brands, but the stores are way more expensive. Like www.loveno.it

tones -> ASUS EN7800GT PCI-EXPRESS Geforce 7800GT 256Mb DDR3, TV-out, Video In,... € 425,00
forcom -> Asus EN7800GT/2DHTV 256MB VIVO/2xDVI-I HDTV € 348.99
loveno sells their asus en7800 for 459€
That's the general trend in stores around here :/ 
December 9, 2005 2:32:39 AM

That sucks....

Are you a native to belgium? You have perfect english if you are....
December 9, 2005 2:40:06 AM

yup native belgium, from the dutch speaking part.
December 9, 2005 2:44:24 AM

I didn't know you had more then one part....lol

how do you speak english so well? usually i can spot people in europe because of Brittish spelling, or small grammer problems.

there are a couple people here who actually speak dutch i think.....
December 9, 2005 4:10:24 AM

my english is not that good... and a lot of time on internet does help tho.
December 9, 2005 5:25:21 AM

It VERY good....its passble for an American.

We dont speak perfectly....you are good enough.

Maybe the internet helps....but I took 3yrs of german and i couldn't post a computer question in german. I proabbly couldn't ask a simple question...lol
!