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need help with a new gaming pc purchase

Last response: in Systems
December 28, 2005 2:00:29 PM

hi boys,

not sure if this is the right forum. sorry. :cry: 

it's time for me to get a new gaming pc and i need suggestions from you on where and what to buy.

i have about $2200 to spend. :)  here is my wish list...

Intel® Pentium® D 840 CPU @ 3.2GHz w/ 800FSB Dual-Core 2x1MB Cache, 64 Bit
NVIDIA Geforce 7800 GTX 256MB 16X PCI Express Video Card
250-300 GB hard drive (non RAID)
USB 2.0/Firewire ports (front and back of case)
multi format media card reader instead of floppy
i can live with integrated 7.1 sound instead of a card

i am NOT interested in see through cases with all the lights and stuff. a plain case is fine for me. i have a CRT monitor and speakers i will be using already.

i have a couple questions though.

which is the best most reliable vendor? (,, etc...)
do i need a cooling system other than the stock?
Pentium D vs Pentium 4? (cost vs bang for buck)
what watt power supply do i need?

thanks so much guys!

More about : gaming purchase

December 28, 2005 2:57:26 PM

First off let me say, this is just my opinion. :) 

I would go with an AMD processor instead of Intel, they are generally accepted as better for gaming. Your budget is rather modest, $2200, so I'd forget the dual core processors. They're overpriced right now. But, if you want dual core for future proofing your PC, I'd recommend the AMD64 X2 3800. It will save you $200 compared to the Intel processor you picked. In fact, you can get an AMD64 X2 4400 for less than the Intel processor and AMD is better for gaming. But, keep in mind, dual core processors do nothing to enhance game performance over a single core processor and there can be stability issues with dual core procs because Windows XP wasn't programmed for them.

As to what vendor is reliable, that's hard to say. Falcon-nw. com has their budget "Talon" series, but they use only AMD procs for the Talon. You can configure a Talon with what you want for about $2300 or $2400 dollars, close to your budget. Talons only have a 1 yr warranty. Falcon has a great reputation and has been around forever. did a review of an system and gave them high marks. HardOCP does their reviews based on an anonymous purchase of a PC, so they're more reilable reviews than most. VelocityMicro has high scores at, but their PCs are loud, around 50db.

Mostly, you do a bit of research and take your chances.

Hope this helps.
December 28, 2005 3:20:05 PM

I totally agree with areseebee54 on the CPU. If you're building a PC strictly for gaming, AMD is the best choice hands down. It seems like you're not really going to build your PC? If I was you, I'd do some research and build it myself (it's not hard at all). You'd save a ton of money which you could use to get better parts or some games. If you do decide to build it yourself, is a great store for parts. Also, I'd go for 2 WD Raptors in RAID 0 for speed (and maybe a 160GB or larger IDE for files). Your programs will install and load so much faster. And with the money you save, I'd look into getting an LCD and some nice speakers or a good gaming headset. Hope this helps also.
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December 28, 2005 8:26:29 PM

I have to disagree with you on the hard-drives. The Raptors are expensive and she's on a limited budget. Plus, if you read recent HDD reviews, some of the new 7200 rpm HDDs are almost as fast as the Raptor.
December 28, 2005 8:46:01 PM

Limited budget?!?!? You call $2200 a limited budget??? As for the HDDs, that doesn't make any sense. Raptors are physically faster by 2800RPM. That's why their seek times are so much faster. Please explain.
December 28, 2005 11:44:38 PM

If you want the fastest gaming performance for your price range then an AMD single core would be a better choice. An A64 4000+ would save you $200 and be much faster in games due to its faster clock speed. If you want dual core, the X2 4400+ is comparatively priced with the 840D and will likewise be faster.

However, if you want to stay with Intel then you should wait a few weeks as the 840D is going to be replaced in stores in mid-January. The 940D which will double the cache, use less energy and run cooler than the 840D will cost $100 less at $423. The 3.4GHz 950D will be priced $100 more than the 840D at $637. They would both be faster than the current 840D and be better choices.

Generally I don't find Raptors to be the best option as they are expensive yet offer very low capacity. Newer 7200RPM hard drives like the WD4000KD offer most of the speed of the Raptor yet are a lot larger. In any case, the 74GB Raptors are going to be replaced by larger 150GB Raptors early next year.

Now for some of your more specific questions.

I don't really know to recommend vendors for you as I generally either get small companies that I know in my home town or build my own.

For cooling you would definitely want better than stock cooling if you are running a gaming rig. This is especially true for Intel processors although the new 65nm 6x1 or 9xx series aren't as bad. I traditionally use Zalman coolers and models like the CNPS7700-Cu and CNPS9500 LED would be good choices. I believe quite a few people are becoming taken by the Thermalright XP-120 right now though.

Again for best gaming performance single-core processors still rule. A Pentium 4 would give you better performance at the same price than a Pentium D although AMD processors will still be faster.

With the high-end CPU and GPU that you have you would want at least a 500W PSU for stability and expandability later.
December 28, 2005 11:48:26 PM

There is a thread named General Homebuilt and you should post there for building advise.
December 29, 2005 2:26:32 AM

Please explain how the WD4000KD is almost as fast as the Raptor even though there is a 2800RPM/3.7ms difference.
December 29, 2005 3:18:36 AM

The Raptor is obviously faster but the difference in performance is disproportionate to the cost per GB. The cost goes up further if you create a RAID setup.

A closer competitor in performance to the Raptor that is not from WDC is the Seagate 7200.8 ST3400832AS which is only 5MB/s slower in average read and 7.5MB/s slower in average write, yet only costs $0.63/GB compared to the $2.55/GB of the Raptor. Curiously, the UltraATA version ST3400832A is even faster than the SATA version.
December 29, 2005 3:36:55 AM

Hmm... Is Average Read Transfer Performance the same as seek times? Also, I didn't say she had to get the 74GB version. You could set up two 36GB Raptors in RAID 0. The thing is most people wouldn't need that much space unless they encode or download tons of video. I have my OS and my most frecuently used programs and games on my 36GB Raptor and all my music, video, and other files on a 160GB Maxtor Diamondmax 10.
December 29, 2005 4:48:59 AM

There was a review not that long ago on HD's here. Take a look for it, for *some* things 7200 HD's were comparable, but overall the raptors were faster I believe. However for a budget duel 80gig 7200rpm drives in a raid0 setup would be ample I think.

As far as the AMD vs Intel, just look at the benchmarks, AMD processors almost always outperform intel when it comes to any kind of 3d graphics stuff (games), where as Intel's usually outperform AMD when it comes to raw number crunching.

To answer your questions:
1. I usually perfer to deal with a vendor that is local to me, so if a problem arises I can just goto the store, but that's a matter of personal preference
2. Not really unless you intend to overclock
3. Single core P4 with probably out perform a dual core for most games (unless they have been optimized for muli-core technology).
4. With that video card, go for 450 min, 500 if you can afford it.
December 30, 2005 12:05:00 AM

:? For a gaming PC, yes, I call $2200 a limited budget. I've never spent less than $2800 on a gaming PC and I watch cost carefully. I always put my money where it will do the most good for gaming; video card, processor, and memory; in that order. Of course, I only upgrade every 2 1/2 to 3 years. I know you can save money on a gaming PC if you are willing to upgrade every year, but the cost comes out the same in the long run. Spending $1500 on a PC and upgrading every year or so is no less expensive over a 3 yr. period than spending $3000 and upgrading every 3 year. It's actually less expensive in my example.

I know Raptors are faster, but newer technology allows 7200 rpm drives to be only a bit slower. I read an article on this in "Maximum PC", I believe, and maybe in THG, but I'm not sure. Anyway, she would get better gaming performance with by using a 7200 rpm HDD and using the extra money for a faster processor.

I knew this thread was going to be flame-bait, 'cause everyone has their own opinion, naturally. :) [/quote]
December 30, 2005 6:32:50 AM

where as Intel's usually outperform AMD when it comes to raw number crunching

That is so wrong. Intel chips never win on pure alu or fpu. In simple repatative mathematics, the P4s can use SSE2 to make it look like they can crunch well, but throw randomized numbers at them and they are just lost.
About hdds. The outer edge of the platter supplies data quickest. Larger drives can have more data in the rapid access area. Since a 300gb drive can store 4 times as much in that area, than a 74gb raptor, it makes up for a lot of extra rotations.
December 30, 2005 7:32:10 AM

Gaming is probably the most intense application for a CPU, and basically the entire machine. AMD is the only choice for gaming. Athlons are faster, use less power and are generally cheaper than their Intel counterparts. The other posts above mention some good models.

As far as gaming goes, the only other important parts are the graphics card and the system RAM. Either an ATI or nVidia top end card will do a great job - not much performance difference here. As far as memory goes, I have seen more than 1 gig recommended for playing FEAR at maximum settings. If it fits in the budget, get 2 gig of the fastest DDR-1 (AMD) you can afford. Spend as much as you can on these three components : CPU, graphics card and RAM.

Also consider upgradability. If you buy an SLI (nVidia) or Crossfire (ATI) motherboard, you can always slot in a second graphics card down the track, which can make a huge difference to performance.

Often overlooked, a good powersupply unit. If you do upgrade with a second graphics card in the future, you'll need the extra grunt to run both, Antec 500W to 550W at least :

As far as hard drives go, I think capacity rules over speed. A few seconds of extra load time VS running out of space ???

Lastly, a good Antec case such as the P180 (without stock PSU).
December 30, 2005 1:32:22 PM
December 30, 2005 2:51:27 PM

There has been a lot of posts so far and some have addressed your questions. Here are a couple of questions that you need to answer first:
1. Are you willing to build the system yourself or do you need the website/company you are purchasing from to build the rig for you?
2. At what resolution/details do you want to game? What monitor are you using right now?
3. Will the system be used for other applications than gaming? What applications?
4. When you're gaming what other applications - if any - are you using?

Answer those and we can have an intelligent discussion on options for you.
December 30, 2005 9:43:54 PM
January 3, 2006 11:48:26 AM

Looks like all the posts scared her away. That or the bickering over the ole CPU debate. [shrug]
January 3, 2006 8:15:10 PM

yup.. always the same. One want advise. two get bitching about which CPU is best. 3 about hdd... ..

Peoples here want others to build their computer they dream on.. Instead of building the computer he/she wants..

That's a bit immature.. And what she/he posted looks like a great system anyway..

Anyway OP, if you still read, I ony advise about getting after market cooling solution for your CPU as they get very hot. Get at least a good 500W PSU from brand like Fortron, but avoid Antec. If you have the money for the dual core, go dual core and get the D.

I don't advise getting computer from those you named, as it will be over priced. If you're not ready to build yourself, go to a reputable local computer shop instead.