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Budget Gamer Forum Build

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August 4, 2007 5:14:53 AM

Hello all, and I am welcoming you all to help build a "Cool" budget gaming computer. This computer will need to stay cool and not just spread the heat into the room with the computer. This system will need to be as silent as possible and must be inexpensive. Keep this computer under $1200, and cheaper systems are a bonus! This will have the following needs:
Tower supporting current and future Video cards, up to 4 hard drive bays, and 2 CD-Rom bays. (meets Water Cooling Needs)
Quality Power Supply that can be used with a water cooled system.
Memory - 2GB
Flat Panel 19" Performance monitor (non-wide screen unless you can prove a reason to use a wide screen).
Operating System Windows XP - Vista Ultimate
Motherboard - no SLi required. at least 1 PCI-E slot
CPU - Dual Core processor, or quad core if you can give a reason why to use quad core instead of dual for gaming.\
Video Card - PCI-E card with >= 256MB of memory. (Games such as Fear, future Call of Duty, and Battlefield games need to be playable with great quality and performance.
Water Cooling System - External or Internal cooling.

No Hard Drives as two S-ATA hard drives will be provided.
DVD Drive provided
Audigy 2 Gamer Provided
August 4, 2007 10:24:54 AM

The challenge of building this system was not keeping it under $1200 but doing so with a Windows Vista Ultimate OS and a Monitor included in the price. But i knew it would be possible even with staying with high quality vendors. And this is what i've come up with...

CASE
Thermaltake Soprano Mid Tower Case: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16811133145
Price: $80

Comments:
Good sized case. Will leave a good amount of room for HDD space and video cards. With good cable management you can make the inside very air flow friendly which will keep the temps low and sound from fans low as well. I would have also suggested going with an Antec Pseries case but doing so would have put me over budget. If you can spare to get another $100 bucks (get from the girlfriend or parents if ya have to, lol) I'd get a full tower case. I say this because getting the higher end long Video cards (the 9 to 11 inch 8 series cards for instance) in a mid tower of any manufactuer is a bit of a tight squeeze. If you do get an extra $100 go with a Thermaltake Armor case(http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811133154). Lots of room and meets your water cooling possibility needs.

Power Supply
Thermaltake 550W Tough Power PSU: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16817153029
Price: $96

Comments:
Good for the price and will provide more than enough power for the suggested Video card and your HDD's. Has a good assortment of cables even the PCI express cable you need for the video card.

Motherboard
Asus P5K: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16813131180
Price: $140

Comments:
I wanted to get a board that was 1) up with today's standards and 2) cheap in price but not cheap in quality. This board was the best fit. First off it supports all Quad and Dual Core 2 chips out in the market and it also supports 1333 FSB (which means you can purchase the newer intel chips just released). It also supports going up to DDR2 1066 so your not limited to DDR2 800 in case you ever want to upgrade to faster memory in the future.

CPU
Intel E6550: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16819115030
Price: $179

Comments:
Has a speed of 2.33 GHZ and FSB of 1333. This was the best chip to go for to stay within budget. You can OC this chip reach higher speeds but at stock this chip performs well.

Memory
Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16820145034
Price: $113

Comments:
Very good quality memory with a low latency of 4-4-4-12. Not a bad buy.

Video Card
EVGA 256 GDDR3 8600GTS: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16814130084
Price: $160

Comments:
Not a bad buy. Wish i could have gone with the higher end dual slot 320MB cards but to stay within budget this card is not that bad. EVGA is a good vendor and provides lifetime warranties on all thier video cards. Not a bad thing to have in the future.

Monitor
Samsung 19inch 940BE: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16824001077
Price: $240

Comments:
Not a bad monitor for the price. Good company, nice rates and specs were not bad. It also stayed within budget which was suprising.

Operating System
Windows Vista Ultimate OEM: http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E16832116213
Price: $190

Comments:
I went with the OEM to stay within budget but i didnt want to. Reason being is that with an OEM you can only use this CD once and once only. Windows Vista aint like XP where if you need a CD key you simply call up Microsoft and talk to some dude in India and get a new product key. With Vista it's a one shot key only. Used once and only works once. Now with the retail verson of Vista Ultimate the product key can be used i believe once or twice after you install it. This allows you to be able to install Vista on another machine or if for some reason one day you have to reinstall your OS, you can reuse the key instead of having to buy a new disc, which is what your going to have to do if you buy the OEM version. Now mind you the retail version is $340 bucks and that would have either seriously put you over budget or you'd have to work miracles to stay within $1200 without sacrificing on good quality parts (and if you look at the parts i selected there is very little room for that). This OS choice is left to you. If it were me i'd go with Home Premium retail which is only $220. It'll take you about $30 bucks over budget but that's better than going $150 over to afford the Vista Ultimate Retail. The difference between Vista Ultimate and Vista Home Premium is very very minimal. Check out this comparison chart (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/products/windowsvista/editions/choose.mspx) and see if going Vista Ultimate is worth the extra cash cause i dont see the worth personally.

GRAND TOTAL
$1,198.00
August 4, 2007 12:25:02 PM

wingsofzion, Thank you very much! That was a great post! Staying within budget of $1200 while keeping quality is definitely a challenge. I do have a question about the video card choice. You went with the 8600 which has the DX10, and I believe lower memory transfer rate than the 7900's. Is getting a DX10 series better for the future than having the higher bandwidth in the end? Also, which would you say is the next best buy for the money of CPU?

This is a challenge people, do not let up! Keep up the building, I especially appreciate it! After a few weeks, the machine out of the ones listed, will be the one I purchase. Taco bell only supplies so much cash hahaha!
Related resources
August 4, 2007 1:02:51 PM

tehpope said:
wingsofzion, Thank you very much! That was a great post! Staying within budget of $1200 while keeping quality is definitely a challenge. I do have a question about the video card choice. You went with the 8600 which has the DX10, and I believe lower memory transfer rate than the 7900's. Is getting a DX10 series better for the future than having the higher bandwidth in the end? Also, which would you say is the next best buy for the money of CPU?

This is a challenge people, do not let up! Keep up the building, I especially appreciate it! After a few weeks, the machine out of the ones listed, will be the one I purchase. Taco bell only supplies so much cash hahaha!



Personally I'd stay away (& have while building my new system over the last couple of days) from the 8600 GPU. You're better off spending another $20 and getting the X1950XT if you can stretch enough to go for the 8800...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 8600 struggles with the current DX10 wannabe games and is definitely not going to be future proof when the DX10 proper becomes mainstream. Therefore, take the better performance of the X1950XT (DX9) card and wait until DX10 is really worth it and upgrade - at least that's what I've chosen to do but it's your choice. If you need some further reading then check out the graphics section where there is a very useful "best buy for the money" guide.

Similarly, if you want to save the extra pennies then do you really need Vista (let alone Ultimate)?? Again, although it's improving, I'm sticking with XP Pro until Vista is completely settled and worthwhile - really can't be bothered constantly messing around with incompatible drivers, etc.

August 4, 2007 1:51:35 PM

tehpope said:
wingsofzion, Thank you very much! That was a great post! Staying within budget of $1200 while keeping quality is definitely a challenge. I do have a question about the video card choice. You went with the 8600 which has the DX10, and I believe lower memory transfer rate than the 7900's. Is getting a DX10 series better for the future than having the higher bandwidth in the end? Also, which would you say is the next best buy for the money of CPU?

This is a challenge people, do not let up! Keep up the building, I especially appreciate it! After a few weeks, the machine out of the ones listed, will be the one I purchase. Taco bell only supplies so much cash hahaha!


Video Card
I went with the 8600 soley because of the budget. I didnt go with a 7Series card because i wanted the card to have DX10 because you were using Vista. Personally i would not buy the card because, like Raz said, i dont think it is a 2 years future proof card. I think when games follow Crysis's footsteps and start going heavy DX10, cards like the lower 8series cards will fall short perfomance wise. I too can relate to staying within a budget. My first build was back in 2005 and i wanted to build the ULTIMATE GAMING MACHINE. Then i seen my paycheck, lol. So i decided to basically build my machine piece by peice over the course of a few months (yea months). This allowed me to get the better end parts, plan a lil better, read up on parts and technology more and make the best choice. Now when i say 2 year future proof i mean a card that if ya bought it today, even though newer technology comes out a year from now your card will not struggle and the only reason you upgrade is to see what the fuss is all about and not because your present budget card bought 2+ years ago is struggeling to play games. Back then i purchased the Nvidia 7800GT card (back in 2005 it was top of the line) and to this day the card handles whatever games comes out with no problems. But it's 2007 and i'd really suggest you save up some pennies and get the 8800GTS 320MB or 640MB version (the GTX card is for when you open your own Taco Bell Store, lol). These cards are more higher quality DX10 cards and will suite you better game wise and Vista wise. As for ATI cards, i'v had bad experiences with ATI. I can only speak from my horrible experience of my old Readon 9500Pro that didnt want it's driver's updated no matter what and crashed my PC whenever i did. I went through a long 2 year fight with that card until it died on me (i think it commited suicide) and i switched back over to Nvidia because i felt driver wise and perfomance wise they were more stable. I keep reading that the newer ATI cards are just power hogs and most people prefer the 8series cards. But since i have not purchased any of the newer ATI cards i can't give a good opinion on them. But for you, i'd save a lil more and get a better quality card.

CPU Wise
The CPU i choice for your system was actually not that bad. Take a look at it's bigger brothers. There's the E6750 ($220) which is 2.66GHZ running at a 1333 FSB. This is $40 bucks more epensive than the E6550. Then you have the E6600 ($221) which is 2.4GHZ running at 1066 FSB and you have the E6700 ($317) running at 2.66GHZ at 1066 FSB. One important note here. The E6750 was released as the E6700's replacement in a way with a faster FSB. The E6750 is $97 dollar cheaper than the E6700 so i'd go with it's newer faster replacement. Going with the E6750 would be my choice for you because after that you have the E6850 which is 3.0 GHZ running at 1333 FSB. This chip is $320 bucks at present. Another note on the E6850 is that the chip was supposed to have been released with a price tag of $266. But i guess retail stores wanted to cash in on the hype and release the chip at prices like $375 (New Egg's first original price for this chip). But i have been monitoring it and the prices are going down every week. So i'd hold out till these guys decide how low is low for this chip cause it wasnt supposed to be originally priced this high. You can see this yourself cause Tiger Direct has this chip priced at $300 ($20 buck cheaper than New Egg's price) and Zip Zoom is priced at $290 ($30 bucks cheaper).

So as a conclusion i'd suggest going with a 8800GTS 320MB video card and the E6750 chip if you feel the E6550 is not as powerful as you'd want. If you come into some extra cash, spring for the E6850. It's benchmarks are VERY impressive on how it stands side by side perfomance wise with the Quad core series cards. You can see for yourself here (http://www.tomshardware.com/2007/07/16/cpu_charts_2007/page14.html)

Now as for Vista... right now i am on the fence with Vista. This is due to the fact that companies are still playing catch up in terms of being Vista compliant. Right now i am in the midst of doing a build and this build will be a dual boot OS system running both XP and Vista. The projected specs on my build will be...


CPU: Intel E6850
Mobo: Asus P5K Premium
Case: Thermaltake Armor Series Full Tower
PSU: Thermaltake 700W PSU
DVD: Asus Litescribe DVD Sata Combo Drive
Memory: 2GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 1066
Video Card: EVGA Nvidia 640MB 8800GTS
HDD1: 150GB WD Raptor Drive
HDD2: 250GB WD Cavier Drive
CPU Fan: Zalman 9700 NT Ultra Quiet fan.
OS: Vista Home Premium Retail

I'm going with Vista Premium because i cannot find any features Ultimate offers that justifies spending that much on it over Premium. I will install XP on this machine also because i dont want to fall into any compatibility issues. I can play DX10 games off of Vista and run any non-Vista compliant apps off of XP Pro. Best of both worlds. For you i'd suggest a similar set up if you know how to do it and go with a retail Vista instead of the OEM for the reasons i stated before.
August 4, 2007 2:08:30 PM

tehpope said:
wingsofzion, Thank you very much! That was a great post! Staying within budget of $1200 while keeping quality is definitely a challenge. I do have a question about the video card choice. You went with the 8600 which has the DX10, and I believe lower memory transfer rate than the 7900's. Is getting a DX10 series better for the future than having the higher bandwidth in the end? Also, which would you say is the next best buy for the money of CPU?

This is a challenge people, do not let up! Keep up the building, I especially appreciate it! After a few weeks, the machine out of the ones listed, will be the one I purchase. Taco bell only supplies so much cash hahaha!

I would suggest modifying wingsofzion with a E2140, a cheaper case, and please don't buy the 32bit vista ultimate. I would suggest this case and 1 of these to OS'es. The case is good and much lower cost and the XP is the best 32bit OS newegg has. The Vista im suggesting will not cost you $200 more to go 64bit when the time comes.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811164040 saves about $50.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116059 saves about $50.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116142 costs about $30 more.

The E2140 while at stock gets beat by even some X2's OC'ed to 3.1GHz it matches the E6850.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116037 saves about $90.

The reasons for this change is to save enough for the 8800GTS 320mb.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130082 costs about $120 more. In games this GPU will make up for any OC of E6550.
!