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Can someone recommend some things for a gaming machine build

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December 27, 2005 4:59:47 PM

Hello,

I have been building my PCs for many years now and I am about to build a new one. Its been almost 3.5 years since I built my last one and the changing technology makes me a noob all over again.

I need a case/PS, mobo, ram, processor, and vid card. I will reuse the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and speakers from my current PC. The primary function of this machine will be for gaming. I do not wish to experiment with OC'ing. I think that I should be able to get good performance without needing to tweak or risk my equipment. I have about $500-600 to spend on the mobo/case/PS/RAM and will spend whatever it takes to get the video card I want (prolly a 7800GT) since the vid card is so critical to gaming performance. This budget means that I will be buying items in the "best bang for the bucK" category and not top of the line, newest technology. Can you people give me some suggestions and recommendations as to what to buy? Like many others on the forums here, I am a loyal newegg customer and would appreciate links to items from them.

Here is what I do know I want from my mobo:
PCI-E 16x single slot - SLI does not really interest me at this time. I can always upgrade to the next generation of video card if one card is not sufficient. From what I've read, a single card from the latest generation almost always outperforms a SLI setup from the previous generation. No AGP slot is desired. I dont want to pay for something that I wont use if I can help it.
dual core: Seems to be a good way to get good RAM performance.
on-board sound and LAN: This will be sufficient for my needs initially. I can always upgrade them down the road if needed.
4 ram slots: 2x512MB sticks of RAM will be purchased right away and I would like 2 more slots or more for future upgrades.

Processor:I have bought Intel processors in the past, mostly out of habit. I am open to AMD processors however. They seem to fit nicely in the price/performance curve. Obviously, the choice in processor is going to have to go hand-in-hand with the choice of mobo. I thought that this seemed to be a good deal at newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Ram: The mobo and processor will likely dictate the type of ram I will be using. Again, I will buy 2x512MB right away and leave the upgrade path open.

Case: I dont need anything fancy. A mid tower or larger is desired. I found this one on newegg:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

450W PS seems enough for me and at around $100 it seems to be a reasonable deal for what you get. Maybe someone can recommend a cheaper case / PS to allow for more money to be spent on the other items.

Accessories/fans: Please mention if you think I should be buying extra fans or accessories for safetys sake. $30-50 spent to make sure that you have more than adequate cooling is money well spent in my opinion.

I have a brand new DVD dual layer burner and a 160gig WD 7400 RPM HD that I bought last month in anticipation of this build.

I am in overload mode looking at all of the component choices available. I need some help from more experieced people to weed through the garbage and items with features I dont need or will not use. Thanks in advance for all the help!
December 27, 2005 8:45:35 PM

processor: x2 3800 - overclock potential is amazing, even on air
mobo: abit, dfi, asus, msi - personally i have an abit kn8 nf4
ram: corsair xms, ocz platinum, kingston hyperx
video: xfx 7800 - since it sounds like youre pretty much set on nvidia
case: thermaltake - havent used any, but ive read reviews praising their cool temps
psu: antec - however buy top dollar, because ive read that even their lower end models are starting to lose on the quality of craftsmanship
December 29, 2005 7:42:57 PM

AMD systems outperform Intel at gaming. The choice is yours however, since once you break 3ghz (or an AMD A64 3000+) its fast enough and either will work well. If you want Intel, be sure to take extra care with cooling as Intel makes very hot CPUs right now, and they draw a lot more power so you need more PSU to be safe.

That's a good choice for Intel, I would recommend an Athlon64 3200+ or 3500+ on the AMD side (probably 3200+ for fitting into the budget). (and I recommend AMD over Intel for your expected usage, but like I said above - both are fast enough and neither will dissapoint you).

Re: your comment on dual core about RAM performance. Can you clarify? I'm confused by what you mean since dual core doesn't do much for RAM except use it. For games TODAY, dual core doesn't do much because most single cores are clocked faster. In the future (next year, the year after?) dual cores may become necessity. If upgrading is possible or likely be sure to get a system that can be upgraded to dual core - almost any socket 939 AMD board will but not all Intel boards can handle the dual core Pentiums, so be sure to check before you decide on a board.

Re: SLI. My opinion exactly.

Case/PSU. I like ultra-cheap cases personally, but those Sonata's are nice. With the exception of the Sonata (Antec makes good PSUs) get the case & PSU separately because most times the PSU is crap. That 450 is the smallest PSU I'd put in an Intel system with a 7800GT. If you were getting a 7800GTX I would recommend even more PSU (500w+), and if you were OCing or doing SLI I'd go even higher. For an AMD system you could go 400w. Fortron Source makes a 400w and 450w for $40 & $50 (respectively) at newegg that make nicely priced alternatives if you choose a different case than the Sonata.

For No OC'ing, just about any board from a quality mfg will be good (Asus, ABit, Epox, Gigabyte, etc.), just pick the one with your features. Once you decide on a CPU, then pick the board - for Intel something with the 915 or 925 chipset probably (I'm not as up to date on Intel boards but the 955 or 975 chipsets seem overkill for your needs), for AMD Get the nForce4 chipset as its the best today. ATI has a good AMD chipset, and I would recommend that one as well, but it sounds like you want a system that's not at the bleeding edge, and ATI's chipset is still pretty new.

RAM: Downside to AMD is they're a little less robust when RAM is involved... (but just a little) 4 sticks of RAM on an AMD will cause the memory to go to 2T command timing. This lowers performance about 1% (not enough to even notice, but its there). If you can swing it, get 2x1gig RAM now if you're going AMD and avoid that pitfall (or upgrade by ebaying your 2x512 and getting 2x1024 then) Also, Intel uses DDR2 RAM, AMD (currently) uses DDR, so don't buy your RAM until you've decided on a CPU. Intel needs the faster RAM to keep netburst 'bursting'. :roll: :) 

I think I covered everything in your post...

Mike.
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December 29, 2005 11:34:15 PM

excellent, informative posts and suggestions! Thank you.

I think I have something that will work for me:

CPU:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Board:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Ram:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

Vid Card:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

Again, I have a NEC 3550A DVD burner and a WD 160 gig HD sitting next to me waiting on a machine to install them into.

I was confusing dual channel RAM with dual core CPU. It's clear from my budget that dual core CPUs are out of my price range with the cheapest AMD dual core CPU being $300+

A few concerns:
1) There are several core voltages showing for the various processors that AMD makes. Will this board sync (or be adjustable in BIOS) to the correct core voltage?

2) The user comments on the RAM say that many users had to adjust the timing for the RAM in the bios. Will this board be able to adjust timing for best performance?

Any other comments on my choices?

Thanks!
December 30, 2005 12:33:20 AM

Looks good to me except that I might have picked another motherboard. But if you don't want to OC you can stick with this one.
December 30, 2005 1:27:55 AM

theres an ASRock mobo that OC's well for nearly nothing or the DFI infinity "experxt" for $199. Its an SLI but oc's like mad. Dont get the 3200. Dual core is nice but 3800 is $320. no budget left. If you wanna game most, then the OPTERON 144 or 146 (1.8/2.0 ghz with 1MB L2) and OC it with a nice HSF to 2.8ghz plus, thats FX57 speeds ($1100) for 150ish... or 190ish, ifyou get retail. Nice video card selection btw.

Antec 450 or so PSU (some antec cases come with same PSU for a reduced overall cost too)

Patriot 2.3.2.5 RAM in a 2GB (1GB x 2) config. Its the same TCCD chips in the 2.2.2.5 ram but in 2GB form it dont hold the same timings so easy. It'll clock to well over 500mhz. 2 x 512 is getting a bit weak on the ramage and with 4 sticks, your OC will be far less. if you got a SB Audigy 2 laying around, put it in but dont spend to much for it. They do help FPS in a firefight though, by not hitting your CPU with calcuations. Thats one weakness of on board sound.

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December 30, 2005 12:45:19 PM

Quote:
1) There are several core voltages showing for the various processors that AMD makes. Will this board sync (or be adjustable in BIOS) to the correct core voltage?

Voltages should be adjustable in BIOS. Check out the mobo manual to verify.
Quote:
2) The user comments on the RAM say that many users had to adjust the timing for the RAM in the bios. Will this board be able to adjust timing for best performance?

Again, check the mobo manual to see what adjustments can be made in the BIOS.
December 30, 2005 2:43:32 PM

LOL not bad choices I have that same case but the blue light on the front of the case can be seen from the moon. It's like a blue laser .....so I turned mine off :( 
!