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$750 Budget Gaming C2D Build

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May 7, 2007 7:05:59 PM

It has been 4 years since my last build, and it seems the hardware scene has changed significantly. The price/performance for some of this stuff is amazing.

Anyway, my brother recently mentioned he was looking for a new computer for grad school and light gaming (oblivion and CoH but he is not a resolution fiend) so I told him I would look around. He is not technically inclined whatsoever, and does not need a sick overclocked machine. His budget is around $750, not including display and audio. I assembled the following rig with some light browsing, and would love to knock another $50 off the price if possible. Any thoughts or recommendations are appreciated.

FYI: I seriously debated the X2/C2D options but decided I liked the upgrade path on the Intel side slightly better, but feel free to prove me wrong.

Intel Core 2 Duo E4300 Allendale 1.8GHz 2M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 114.50
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

GIGABYTE GA-965P-S3 LGA 775 Intel P965 Express ATX Intel Motherboard 104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) 94.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

POWERCOLOR X1950 PRO 256MB 256-bit PCI Express x16 Video Card 159.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

COOLER MASTER RS-500-ASAA ATX Form Factor 12V V2.2 / SSI standard EPS 12V V2.91 500 Watts Continuous Power Supply
http://www.newegg.com/product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...

COOLER MASTER RC-330-KKN1-GP Black SECC ATX Mid Tower
http://www.newegg.com/product/Product.asp?item=N82E1681...
Case/PSU Combo: 119.98

Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive 79.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

Sony NEC Optiarc Black 18X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 18X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner - OEM 33.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1682...

Microsoft Windows Vista 32-Bit Home Premium for System Builders Single Pack DVD - OEM 111.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?item=N82E1683...

Total w/o s/h = 820.42 rebates will cover s/h if I ever get them

My first inclination is to cut the PSU down a little, but I like the idea of a little headroom for later upgrades.
Thanks.
May 7, 2007 7:56:32 PM

Because of the OS cost, that is pretty much the best you are going to do without compromising the PSU.

The only suggestion I have is to wait until next week when the HD2900XT is suppose to come out on the 14th. This might cause the X1950XT to come down a little bit more. For $130, the X1950Pro is hard to beat for price/performance but the extra money spent on the X1950XT is worth it. If the X1950XT happens to come down to $170 or less, I'd pick it up instead.

Other than that, everything else looks good.

If you want to cut costs, the only thing I could suggest is to go the AMD route. The K10 dual-core (Kuma) or quad-core (Agena) is suppose to work with AM2 motherboards but will just not get the improvement in K10's Hypertransport 3.0.
May 8, 2007 9:10:47 AM

Everything looks pretty good.

You might want to upgrade to the GIGABYTE GA-965P-DS3 for $10 more. It's currently priced at $115 @ Mwave.

.. and if you're not too picky, I got this case:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=N...

.. for $50 + $15 shipping, I was very impressed. The case itself is very nice, although simple, and as far as the PSU, it seems to be working fine for me. My system is fairly basic (E4300, 7600GT, 2x1GB Ram) and the PSU is handling it just fine.


Goodluck.
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May 8, 2007 5:11:10 PM

Thanks for the replies.

I did have a look at the RAIDMAX case/PSU combo, and actualy think the conservative styling is probably more what my brother would want. How is the noise level on the PSU though? It looked like there were two 80mm fans on it. (the Antec on my desktop has one, and the whine is quite noticeable.)

I agonized over the DS3/S3 choice for some time... I may deliver this box with a mild OC on stock cooling for long term use, and from what I read the S3 should get me there fine. I understand the later revision DS3 boards support higher FSB speeds...Does this mean they are likely to support Penryn at a later date? What are the other major differences?

The Centurion 534 is also nice, but I dont know that it is worth the extra $10.

I also switched to a saphire x1950pro as that powercolor was miss-labled on newegg, and appeared instead to be an ATI reference design, which some people have described as rather loud.
May 9, 2007 12:35:04 AM

The drivebay makes you install drives from behind inside the case. It's bad when you have a fully built pc & you just want to move the hdd around or upgrade it. You'd be forced to remove the video, device cables, etc. just so you could remove the drive. Def. worth the $10 diff.

Centurion 534 is what I'd get. Sideway drivebay.

Yep, the DS3 any day. $10 extra is no brainer. It'll last longer than the S3 & support quad & fsb 1333.
May 9, 2007 12:50:03 AM

I would also second the Centurion 534. You can check out the power supply forum since sometimes they do show great deals on power supplies.
May 9, 2007 1:03:33 AM

CPU-$116 Core 2 duo 1.8GHRZ E4300
RAM-$114 2 gigs of 1GHRZ DDR2
GPU-$134 7900GS
Hard drive- $55, 200 gig SATA 8meg cashe (samsung)
Motherboard- $100 SLI 650i (MSI)
Vista Premium- $111
Power supply- what you want
Everything else one can scavange or buy for less than $100

~630+ stuff i left out...

I made this list for someone a week ago. I dont know if the deals I found are still there.
May 23, 2007 5:20:17 PM

I just wanted to update those of you kind enough to reply to the original post. The machine is up, running, and delivered in a configuration simiar to the original post, save with the C534 case. I have never had such an easy build, every thing clicked on first install. Not a single crash during the entire configuration. Vista took some getting used to, and significant time to tweak, but appears to be quite stable.

That CPU/Mobo combo is amazing, the thing runs stable @2.7 GHz with Vcore at 1.300V. Tjunct is </= 68 in TAT after 30 min, even with a toasty ambient and stock HSF.

I do have one final question, however. I left the RAM at 1:1 ratio (600 Mhz) and 4-4-4-12 since I did not have time to run a long-term stability test with a higher mem ratio. Is it worth it next time I see my brother to try and bump the RAM to 800 even if it means 5-5-5-15 timings?

This might be one of those timing vs. speed questions that can only be answered with some benchmarking but any intuitive answers would be welcomed.

Thanks again.
May 23, 2007 10:16:38 PM

Congrats!

I don't know which mobo you bought & the current multiplier.

650i + latest bios would lock the multiplier at x9 for e4300. Older bios may let you downgrade it x6-8. Most would stick with x8 or x9.

Assuming it's 650i, 9 x 300 = 2700 or 2.7Ghz. Your ram is linked? Unlink it & set it up manually to specs. The G.SKILL should be 800mhz at 5-5-5-15 2T.

Burn the iso to cd & boot it up for at least 1 pass. 5-10 would be best. 2 gigs at 800 should take less than 20 mins for 1 pass.

http://www.memtest.org/#downiso
!