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Building a system, primarily for gaming

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January 10, 2007 1:20:07 AM

Boy, I don't envy the folks who have to design systems for a living. Hard choices when you're limiting yourself financially.
I've been looking over reviews on retail sites like Newegg and Tigerdirect, so it's difficult to choose specific items.

I'm not intending to overclock as I have no experience with it. I see the site has tutorials on it, but unless I'm horribly unsatisfied with performance, I don't think I'll need to.

I'm also not, initially, planning on an SLI system. Though adding a card a few months later may be considered.

I have two system designs I'm considering and would appreciate opinions.

System 1:
Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-965G-DS3 LGA 775 Intel G965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $145
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

(I am aware of the memory voltage restrictions for the Intel 965 chipsets)

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6400 - Retail $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

(For this particular system, going up one level to the E6600 is a possibility)

CPU Fan:
Thermaltake Jungle512 92mm 1 Ball, 1 Sleeve CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink - Retail $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...

(One problem I'm having in choosing a CPU fan is the issue that some fans don't seem to want to fit on the motherboard, according to reviews. I'm also choosing thermal paste when I order)

Memory:
Kingston HyperX 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

(This is one of the items that I may choose an addition to for this system. Going up to 2 gigs is a possibility. though it is an either/or situation)

Case:
Cooler Master Centurion 532 Black ATX Mid-Tower Case with Front USB, Firewire and Audio Ports And Ultra X2 Power Supply $140
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

(Looking for a mid tower, though all I need are bays for 1 HD, 1 DVD drive, and 1 DVD burner. A mini tower is less likely to hold an ATX board and, if I'm correct, gets hotter because it tends to be more cramped. Also, this case comes with only 1 120mm fan, so I'm buying an additional one.)

Case Fan:
SILVERSTONE FM121 120mm Case Fan - Retail $15
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Hard drive
Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JSRTL 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - Retail $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

DVD Drive:
Sony 16x DVD-ROM / Black / Cyberlink Software / DVD Drive $40
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

DVD burner:
NEC ND 3550 $30
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

(The three drives are sufficient for my needs)

Without upgrading memory or CPU, subtotal is around $800.
I think with this system, I can afford to get a GeForce 7950GT card with 512MB of memory for between $250 and $300. No specific card/brand chosen yet.

All that, plus a decent 19" LCD display for about $150 will pretty much reach my budget limit.


System 2:

ECS PN2 SLI2+ NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard / Audio / PCI Express / Dual Gigabit LAN / S/PDIF / USB 2.0 & Firewire / Serial ATA / RAID $240
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Everything else except video card is same as system 1.

I am, however, aware that the PSU comes with a P4 12v connection and the board recommends a P8, but will work with a P4.

Because the motherboard is $95 more expensive, I may have to sacrifice the video card and choose a GeForce 7600. Looking on newegg, the 7600GT is resonably priced, however, none of them come in 512MB size, only 256MB, while the 7600GS has 512MB sizes.

Squeaking out an additional $100 for any particular upgrade would be difficult, but probable.

Did I make decent choices? Note that while I play some up to date games, I can sacrifice some of the most advanced graphic features. In fact, between performance and quality, I'd choose closer to performance. A good looking game means nothing if it's herky jerky.

I realize there are brand-name "fanboys", but I am concerned about quality of parts as well. That's why I check the "cons" in reviews.

Thanks, and I aprreciate any feedback, even it's calling me a clueless newbie (which, really I'm not, just merely out of touch with current systems), I can live with it. :) 

nightwing2000
January 10, 2007 12:17:27 PM

First, please make up your mind: SLI for Geforce or Crossfire for Radeon. They don't mix. Officially.

For best sli board,

EVGA nForce 680i SLI NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard / Audio / PCI Express / SLI / Dual Gigabit LAN / S/PDIF / USB 2.0 & Firewire / Serial ATA / RAID
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

For budget sli board,

ASUS P5NSLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 570 SLI Intel Edition ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

For a good priced fan,

COOLER MASTER SAF-S12-E1 120mm Case Fan - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

For a well-cooled case, (did you realize the one you listed is no longer available at TD?)

COOLER MASTER Centurion RC-534-KWN1-GP Black Aluminum/ SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Now pick a good psu from

http://www.slizone.com/object/slizone_build_psu.html#ce...
January 10, 2007 3:44:37 PM

Oh, sorry, I'm focusing on NVidia cards because I was under the impression that the ATI cards suffer from heat more than the NVidia. I'm probably wrong though.

Still, when the time comes to add an additional video card, because I'm focusing on NVidia, it would have to be SLI.

Where do you see the case I chose is no longer available? The page is still saying that it ships within 7-21 days.

I'll keep an eye open on the items to make sure they are in stock when I order.

Thanks again for the suggestions. EVGA does have some good reviews overall.

nightwing2000
Related resources
January 10, 2007 4:05:24 PM

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/ite...

This is what I was talking about. click the more info on the case link on the case + psu page, then the case link again. Check with TD before ordering.

You're right about ati cards being hotter generally. The Zalman vga cooler is quite good. If you get the 7900gtx which has a very huge hsf, it doesn't need any 3rd hsf.

There are now 3 680i boards: asus, evga & biostar. evga is the fave cuz of its low price & their customer service.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.asp?N=2010200...
January 10, 2007 4:13:07 PM

Since you're not overclocking, you don't need 680i. Just go with the cheap SLI mobo and some cheap 667 RAM and save some money there. You may also want to consider this logic:

Vid cards drop in price and go out of style, something faster (and later cheaper) is always around the corner. Investing alot of $$ into the vid card at this point may not be as good a return on your investment as getting something that will "last longer".

So, personally I'd recommend you get 2 gigs RAM. Get the cheap P5N-SLI mobo, some cheap 667 RAM @ 2 gigs, and get a 7600GT vid card. A 7600GT is simply an amazing card for the price. It'll perform fine on a 19" LCD for most modern games. You can simply add another one later or just upgrade to a better vid card in a year.

The 2 gigs RAM will help you now and won't go out of style like a vid card. The 7600GT will perform fine on your system, and then when prices drop on mid-range DX10 cards, just upgrade to one of those in a 12-18 months ;) 
January 10, 2007 5:51:38 PM

Quote:
Boy, I don't envy the folks who have to design systems for a living. Hard choices when you're limiting yourself financially.
I've been looking over reviews on retail sites like Newegg and Tigerdirect, so it's difficult to choose specific items.

I'm not intending to overclock as I have no experience with it. I see the site has tutorials on it, but unless I'm horribly unsatisfied with performance, I don't think I'll need to.

I'm also not, initially, planning on an SLI system. Though adding a card a few months later may be considered.

I have two system designs I'm considering and would appreciate opinions.

System 1:
Motherboard
GIGABYTE GA-965G-DS3 LGA 775 Intel G965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail $145
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

(I am aware of the memory voltage restrictions for the Intel 965 chipsets)

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E6400 Conroe 2.13GHz LGA 775 Processor Model BX80557E6400 - Retail $220
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

(For this particular system, going up one level to the E6600 is a possibility)

CPU Fan:
Thermaltake Jungle512 92mm 1 Ball, 1 Sleeve CPU Cooling Fan/Heatsink - Retail $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1683...

(One problem I'm having in choosing a CPU fan is the issue that some fans don't seem to want to fit on the motherboard, according to reviews. I'm also choosing thermal paste when I order)

Memory:
Kingston HyperX 1GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Desktop Memory - Retail $135
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

(This is one of the items that I may choose an addition to for this system. Going up to 2 gigs is a possibility. though it is an either/or situation)

Case:
Cooler Master Centurion 532 Black ATX Mid-Tower Case with Front USB, Firewire and Audio Ports And Ultra X2 Power Supply $140
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

(Looking for a mid tower, though all I need are bays for 1 HD, 1 DVD drive, and 1 DVD burner. A mini tower is less likely to hold an ATX board and, if I'm correct, gets hotter because it tends to be more cramped. Also, this case comes with only 1 120mm fan, so I'm buying an additional one.)

Case Fan:
SILVERSTONE FM121 120mm Case Fan - Retail $15
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1681...

Hard drive
Western Digital Caviar SE WD1600JSRTL 160GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - Retail $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

DVD Drive:
Sony 16x DVD-ROM / Black / Cyberlink Software / DVD Drive $40
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

DVD burner:
NEC ND 3550 $30
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

(The three drives are sufficient for my needs)

Without upgrading memory or CPU, subtotal is around $800.
I think with this system, I can afford to get a GeForce 7950GT card with 512MB of memory for between $250 and $300. No specific card/brand chosen yet.

All that, plus a decent 19" LCD display for about $150 will pretty much reach my budget limit.


System 2:

ECS PN2 SLI2+ NVIDIA Socket 775 ATX Motherboard / Audio / PCI Express / Dual Gigabit LAN / S/PDIF / USB 2.0 & Firewire / Serial ATA / RAID $240
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Everything else except video card is same as system 1.

I am, however, aware that the PSU comes with a P4 12v connection and the board recommends a P8, but will work with a P4.

Because the motherboard is $95 more expensive, I may have to sacrifice the video card and choose a GeForce 7600. Looking on newegg, the 7600GT is resonably priced, however, none of them come in 512MB size, only 256MB, while the 7600GS has 512MB sizes.

Squeaking out an additional $100 for any particular upgrade would be difficult, but probable.

Did I make decent choices? Note that while I play some up to date games, I can sacrifice some of the most advanced graphic features. In fact, between performance and quality, I'd choose closer to performance. A good looking game means nothing if it's herky jerky.

I realize there are brand-name "fanboys", but I am concerned about quality of parts as well. That's why I check the "cons" in reviews.

Thanks, and I aprreciate any feedback, even it's calling me a clueless newbie (which, really I'm not, just merely out of touch with current systems), I can live with it. :) 

nightwing2000

First off, don't buy the 7950gt. The x1950xt destroys it for the same price. Secondly, don't worry about heat and a new processor/video card heatsink since you are not overclocking. Yes, it only has 512 megabytes of DDR3, but that's still more than plenty to whoop the 7950's ass.
Third, you can cheap out on a motherboard if you don't care about overclocking. I would forget SLI altogether if I were you, as this is budget and buying a dual pci-express motherboard is somewhat impractical. Any of the 945 boards compatible with Core 2 Duo would be great for what you need.
Fourth, go with a perpendicular hard drive. They are a little bit faster for the same price.
!