$1750 to spend on game rig, suggestions plz (updated quest.)

luckily, i don't need a monitor, keyboard, mouse, or speakers

i want to keep my budget to around $1500, with maybe $250 wiggle room. i have never built a system before, but i am reasonably well aquainted with basic computer usage, including installing hardware like memory and video cards. it's not as much the building process that i am intimidated by, as much as it is the selection of components. my goal is to build the best gaming rig i can, and to emphasize speed over storage (300-400 gigs seems plenty of storage for me) and multitasking. i'm not looking for hyperthreading or being able to burn dvds, game at the same time, etc etc. just build a rig that can play games at high resolution with everything maxed at 30+ fps. two games i'd like to run at 1600x1200 all options maxed are elder scrolls: oblivion and lock on: modern air combat. being able to run upcoming titles like stalker, ms flightsimx, and crysis in all their glory, or close to, are also goals with this system.

since graphics cards are easier to upgrade than mobos or harddrives, i am more inclined to focus my funds on getting the best 'permanent' components like the mobo and not necessarily go for the top of the line video card, since they are easily switched out down the road. that said, the 8800gts seems like a really sweet card for a price point ($430) that is maybe within my budget:


with $430 for the videocard and $100 for the Creative X-fi XtremeMusic, that leaves me roughly $1000 or so left for everything else. i'm not including the cost of winxp b/c i might end up using my existing copy on this new rig. i am considering the raptor 150gig hd due to its speed, which i assume would be an asset for gaming, and then a 2nd less expensive hd of maybe 250 or 350gig. so deduct another $350 or so for these hard drives and i am left with appx $800 for mobo, cpu, memory, psu, surge protector, optical drive, case, and whatever i haven't included. what would folks recommend i get? i would like to get the very best i can afford.

can folks more knowledgable than i and with experience in these things please comment on my selections above and suggest great candidates for the cpu, psu, memory, mobo, etc?

i'm not knowledable enough to just be able to go to sites like new egg and know what will work together and what won't compatiblity wise, or even what makes a mobo or cpu or hard drive or memory good (video and sound cards are a lot more straightforward to me).

ps- i am not adverse to overclocking but i have never done it before and so am very cautious/hesitant to do so

many thanks!
25 answers Last reply
More about 1750 spend game suggestions updated quest
  1. I think you'll be happy with the 8800GTS :wink:

    NewEgg Shopping List $1775 plus $80 in rebates
    LIAN LI PC-7B plus II case
    Antec True Power Trio 650W PSU
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz
    eVGA 640-P2-N821-AR GeForce 8800GTS
    Patriot 2GB DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) RAM
    Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA HD
    Western Digital Caviar 250GB 7200 RPM SATA HD
    LITE-ON 18X DVD±R Burner
    Win XP Home Sp2b 1pk w/Coupon for Vista
    APC Back-UPS BE500R 500 VA 300 Watts UPS

    Playing Oblivion and MS FSX at 16x12 at the highest possible graphics options will push any system now available to the edge of playability. Unless they come up with some performance patchs we're going to have to dial back the "eye candy" a bit to get playable FPS in some circumstances.
  2. Just built this the other day actually - and it's running well. the mobo has plenty of PCI-E 16x slots (3 actually) so if you want SLi you can do it. the video card i held off on, as DX10 isn't in any games yet...that will be at least a year til it's prolly worth it imo. i'm just waiting til then when everything has settled. the case i got, it's huge...but it's nice. completely screwless except for putting in the mobo - and VERY cool. i dont' think i'd change it at all. with the PSU its great, and i have a total of 4 12cm fans going...3 with the case and 1 with the PSU. the RAM i got is AMAZING. i would suggest it any day of the week. get it now before that stuff gets expensive and people know about it. this is just what i got, it's some ideas...ad my build was only 1600ish. happy hunting if you don't like anything.......

    From Newegg:

    EVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR Socket T (LGA 775) NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    Item #: N82E16813188009

    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 Conroe 2.4GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6600 - Retail
    Item #: N82E16819115003

    OCZ GameXStream OCZ600GXSSLI ATX12V 600W Power Supply - Retail
    Item #: N82E16817341001

    eVGA 512-P2-N637-AR GeForce 7950GT 512MB GDDR3 PCI Express x16 KO Superclocked Video Card - Retail
    Item #: N82E16814130066

    SUPER TALENT 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model T800UX2GC4 - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820609026

    Card Reader:
    SUPER TALENT INT-AIN1-C All-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader - Retail
    Item #: N82E16820609198

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
    Item #: N82E16822148140

    Optical Drives:
    SAMSUNG 18X DVD±R DVD Burner With 12X DVD-RAM Write Black E-IDE/ATAPI Model SH-S182D - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827151133

    SONY Black IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model DDU1615/B2s - OEM
    Item #: N82E16827101131

    GIGABYTE 3D AURORA GZ-FSCA1-ANB Black Aluminum ATX Full Tower Computer Case - Retail
    Item #: N82E16811233002

    From ZipZoomFly:

    Zalman CNPS9500 LED CPU Cooler Retail ***Free Shipping***
    For AMD Sempron/AMD64 Skt 754/939/940 & Intel Dual Core Pentium/P4 Skt 775

    OCZ Ultra 5+ Silver Thermal Compound Retail ***Free Shipping***

    Total Build Cost:
    About $1600.00
  3. thanks a lot wr2- i appreciate it! those are some sweet frame rates for lomac.

    your list looks great- one thing i might do is take out the winxp and switch the 74g western digital out with the 150g one...are the drives the same in capability, just with the 150 doubling the storage? with games like fsx weighing in at like 14gigs, it seems like 74g could fill up alarmingly fast.
    i assume all these parts are compatible w/ each other, right?

    noob question- what does OEM mean- is that like used or something? should i stay away from OEM equipment? looking here at newegg:
    Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10,000 RPM 16MB Cache Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM

    for about $200, and if it has the same speed and quality as the Western Digital Raptor 74GB you suggested, i might go with it.

    thanks again.
  4. Quote:
    i assume all these parts are compatible w/ each other, right?

    Just built this the other day actually - and it's running well.

    yep, unless he's a magician.
  5. Quote:
    what does OEM mean
    OEM usually means that a supplier buys hardware in bulk and the part doesnt come in a retail box. Retail box or OEM (sometimes called white box) are the usual choices. Since your motherboard will have the hard drive data cables and power cables come with the PSU you can easily install the OEM hard drives. (OEM =Original Equipment Manufacturer). For some OEM choices, such as a CPU for example, you may need to buy accessories separately such as a CPU heatsink fan.

    There is no problem upgrading to the 150GB Raptor. You can even drop the 2nd hard drive. Thats always something you could pick up later at CompUSA or BestBuy when you decide you need more bulk storage.

    Overclocking a C2D system is actually pretty easy. A light overclock on the E6600 (2.4Ghz) will have your system running at fast as the X6800 C2D Extreme (2.93Ghz) with no strain on the hardware.
    No reason to do that right away - give your new system a month or two and then you can think about a bit of overclocking.
  6. thanks again
    so your list is complete in that it covers all the parts i need, seeing as i already have the other parts as i stated at the start of my post?
  7. will the APC Back-UPS BE500R protect against power surges, like say a lighting strike?
  8. nah, that thing will never work! you need one of these!

    lol, j/k, yeah, it should, but i dont know much about ups's, so you might want to get a second opinion.
  9. Excellent advice, especially from WR2. Just a few additional suggestions.

    FSX is the primary purpose for my rig. Although slightly less CPU bound than FS04, frame rate still scales very closely to CPU clock, and correspondingly less to graphics horsepower, so you're going to need all the CPU clock you can get.

    As you can see from my sig, I've been able to push this E6600 (and the graphics card) very high on air, and it's still not enough for FSX. You may want to consider a more aggressive overclock, after you get your rig up and running. Also, you may want to look into a RAID0 configuration, if not now, then as funds permit.

    Hope this helps, and enjoy your new build :D
  10. Quote:
    will the APC Back-UPS BE500R protect against power surges, like say a lighting strike?
    Absolutely. And it will cover the more common brownouts and power outages. No more worrying about that 1800watt hair dryer or microwave over starting up at a bad moment. You can plug in 4 items to be run by the battery during power outages and there are 4 more outlets that are surge protected only.
    If you leave your computer running while you're away (as I do) the included software will automatically shut down the PC if the power doesnt come back on after about 5 minutes or so.

    That suggested list is a complete system list. Of course you can always "season" to taste (and budget) as in choosing the 150GB Raptor HD. Also, choosing a case is as much a matter of taste as function. Not everyone favors the same style. Everything on that list should be highly compatible and everything there is a quality product. If you are interested in setting up a RAID 0 system for faster hard drive operation I'll change motherboard recommendations a bit. Let us know if you're interested.
    As for what makes up a "complete system" there are guides available that you can review for comparison such as High-End Buyer's Guide - October 2006

    As CompuTronix mentions there are ways to squeeze more power out of your new system by overclocking. As that list is now it will easily OC to 3Ghz without breaking a sweat. One extra component that should be considered is an aftermarket HSF (heatsink fan or cpu cooler). The stock Intel C2D HSF is actually a decent performer and will be adequate above 3Ghz but you'll start to hear the fan before it reachs it's cooling limits. An aftermarket HSF will also help the CPU run cooler at stock and overclocked speeds. ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro CPU Cooler is an effective, inexpensive and easy to install aftermarket cooler. I've been very happy with mine. Here is more info on that cooler: AC Freezer 7 PRO review

    The most important benefit OC'ing can get you is not so much "higher FPS" as in getting you a higher minimum FPS in CPU limited games like FSX or Lock On. On the other hand, its not necessary to overclock at all if you just back off slightly on the graphics options, or live with the FPS dipping into the low 20s in certain situations.
  11. thanks a ton folks- i really appreciate it

    well, if the system is overclocking friendly, then i guess there's a good chance i will overclock in the future, especially as more demanding games are releasd. as you mentioned earlier, i won't overclock right away, and i don't plan on getting fsx for awhile, at least until a few patches have been released for it. so, 2 questions-- should i go ahead and include the artic cooling freezer cooler right off the bat with my purchase, or is it an easy thing to install down the road, when i do decide to oc the system? 2nd question- what is a raid 0 system and how does it speed my system/hard drive up, and is it at all risky to do (like oc'ing), and does it justify switching mobo selection?

    again, i am very grateful for the excellent advice.

    also, i got the following advice at another hardware board when i posted the above suggested componentes. what do all think?

    "The 965P-DS3 is a bit basic for a C2D board which is fine if you don't need Firewire, more SATA etc.but if you do need it then that's not the board for you.
    Gigabyte have just announced a new version the DS3P which adds those (those of us in Europe could get the DS4 which for some strange reason wasn't offered in the US [Screwy] ).
    Another board worth looking at is the Asus P5B/P5B-E series (again version to suit features needed) or if you want to look at 975 chipsets (often slightly quicker clock for clock than 965)then DFIs 975 Infinity is ~$165 & very good with the latest BIOS.

    I would still recommend the Seasonic or FSP/OCZ PSUs over the Antec.
    You might also want to consider DDR2 6400 RAM instead of 5300 as there is very little difference pricewise."

    what about this kingston ram:
    Kingston HyperX 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory
  12. RAID combines multiple hard drives into a single logical unit so the operating system "sees" one hard drive. Background Info

    Even if you're not overclocking right away the AC Freeze 7 Pro will keep your CPU cooler and run quieter than the stock cooler. The loudest item in your case will be the Raptor HD. If you add an aftermarket cooler later on, you'll need to go through cleaning the CPU which is a bit of a bother.
  13. NewEgg will let you compare items in a useful way.
    Compare Motherboard features and price
    ASUS P5B-E is the MB I would have suggested if you are interested in RAID (although the DS3 can also support a RAID array).
    I included one of the newest 680i motherboards for comparison.
    PSU Comparison
    Here is an article that "rates" PSU XS forum Tiered PSU Manufacturer Brand Listing

    edited to fix link
  14. so that's a vote for getting the artic cooler now i suppose- heck, why not?
    curious as to what kind of performance increase ddr2 6400 ram gives over 5300 ram.
  15. You aren't the first to wonder about that question:

    More specific details in the whole article: Madshrimps RAM eval article
    It gets slightly more complicated when you start to talk about highly overclocked systems. It's there that the difference between 667 and 800 starts to make itself felt.
  16. what was that implying? if your questioning whether or not the computer is running and running well...then yes, it is. all of it is compatible and all of it is working. it's a hell of a machine - especially compared to my old computer.
  17. I'm in much the same position as the original poster: same price range, same reusable parts, similar performance goals. This thread gave me a great head start on finding what will do the job for me. I did some other research and comparison as well, and this is what I'm currently looking at (prices are from NewEgg):

    XFX PVT80FSHF9 8800GTX 768MB (Price=$629.99)
    MSI P965 Platinum P965 775 - (Price=$134.99)
    GEIL 2GB DDR2 800 (Price=$219.99)
    ANTEC True Power Trio 650W (Price=$124.99)
    INTEL Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4G (Price=$309.00)
    2x Seagate Barracuda 320GB SATA2 (Price=$189.98 total)
    SAMSUNG SH-S182M/BEBN (Price=$32.99)
    COOLER MASTER Hyper TX (Price=$29.99)

    Total: $1671.92 (pre shipping)

    My case is reusable for this upgrade. I'll probably have to get a sound card on top of this unless the onboard audio is better than I'm used to hearing from integrated audio. My old keyboard is on its last legs though (and wasn't anything special to begin with). Any recommendations there?
  18. quick question to revive this old thread--
    what would the benefits of having a 64bit system be, and would they justify whatever price increase would accompany it? figure if i am building a powerhouse game system from scratch, i would find out if 64 instead of 32 would be worth my while.

    as always, thanks
  19. All you need for a 64 bit system would be the OS and the only cost increase would be for the OS (assuming you're sticking with Windows)
    Performance wise most applications and games run a bit slower in the 64 bit OS.
    More info here:
    64-Bit Windows' Performance on Dual-Core
    Start on 64

    It's hard to come up with a compelling reason to switch over from the 32 bit version of WinXP to the 64bit.
  20. wow, i didn't know that
    i thought 64bit was enabled in the mobo or cpu
    i am grateful for all your info
  21. ok, here it is, 1 month after i posted this, and i am just now getting around to making my order.

    i have decided to spend appx $1750, and wonder if the above suggested setups are the best gaming rig i can buy with this money, or if in the last month anything in those lists has been eclipsed by better hardware that i might be able to buy at this pricepoint.

  22. so, is the following still the best route i can go for $1750?

    LIAN LI PC-7B plus II case
    Antec True Power Trio 650W PSU
    Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4GHz
    eVGA 640-P2-N821-AR GeForce 8800GTS
    Patriot 2GB DDR2 667 (PC2 5300) RAM
    Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM SATA HD
    Western Digital Caviar 250GB 7200 RPM SATA HD
    LITE-ON 18X DVD±R Burner
    Win XP Home Sp2b 1pk w/Coupon for Vista
    APC Back-UPS BE500R 500 VA 300 Watts UPS
  23. Get an e6400 instead of a 6600, and put that money on getting an 8800gtx, you willl end up with a faster system, esp. since both processors clock in the same 3.2-3.4 range.

    and shop around for pc6400, even the budget stuff is good enough, you willl want that 400Mhz fsb.
  24. how many usb ports does the LIAN LI PC-7B plus II case have? i need quite a few- 8 or so, b/c i use 3 for my ch joystick, throttle, pedals, 1 for mouse, 1 for keyboard, 1 for track ir device, 1 for removable dvd burner
  25. also, will 650w of power be enough to support two 8800gtx cards in sli, if i choose to do that further down the line?

    Antec True Power Trio 650W PSU is what i am considering

    also, i am trying to decide btwn mobos--

    either the EVGA 122-CK-NF68-AR

    or the GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard

    i want the best quality, most reliable/powerful/overclockable one my budget will allow, and one that will allow 2 8800gtx's in sli down the road in say 2 years time
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