First new system in a while, need some advice.

Ok, so I'm building my first system in a while and I've been a little behind in keeping up with the latest tech. I want to build primarily a gaming system but on a budget of about $750 max (tax return present). Reading around Tom's and some other sites, I came up with this basic build:

ABIT IP35 Pro LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - $180
Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 Conroe 2.33GHz - $200
CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (4-4-4-12) - $73 (after $40 MIB)
EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB - $260 (after $20 MIB)

Total: $713 (all prices from newegg)

I already have a suitable 550W PSU and case, essentially the only other stuff I'd be buying would be fans. All the other goodies like hard drive and optical drives I'm just going to cannibalize from my old system.

Now, I'd like to save some money if I can. This particular processor I probably wouldn't bother overclocking (something I haven't done since the Athlon Thunderbirds were around) and I expect it'd be plenty fast enough for most games in mid level resolutions. With no overclocking going on, should I get a cheaper motherboard? I figure I could drop down to a ABIT IP35-E LGA 775 Intel P35 which is a much cheaper $75 after MIB. This would allow me to upgrade the video card to the 640MB Version of the same card. After that, total system price would be around $768 which I think I could live with.

The problem with the second option is I don't think I could do any overclocking with that board and it would be a relatively long term solution. I've seen people on this board recommend overclocking some of the cheaper Intels while they wait for the quad cores to be released and drop in price sometime next year. If overclocking is the way to go, what's a happy medium for motherboard, memory and processor?
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  1. ABIT IP35-E LGA 775 Intel P35 $75 or GA-P35-S3L
    Q6600 $310
    CORSAIR XMS2 $73
    EVGA 320-P2-N811-AR GeForce 8800GTS 320MB - $260
    Total $718
  2. Thanks aevm.

    Two questions:
    Does the quad core make that much difference in gaming (I really don't do any encoding)?
    Is the 640MB version of the card just not worth the money?

    I like the suggestion since it seems it could last a good long while before I'd have to upgrade again and I wouldn't have to overclock, at least not right away.
  3. Hmmmm..... OK, maybe an E6850 then, for the same price. The Q6000 is better for the long term, but the E6850 will serve you better for the next year or two. Crysis will work better on a Q6600, apparently, and so will most games released in 2009 and after (I guess), but current games and most games to be released in 2008 will work better on a E6850. The industry is moving towards quads but it will take a while.
    Tough decision... In my case it was easier, I went with the quad because I will use the PC for some work too, not just games. In my work I have 5 or 6 programs running at the same time so it's obviously great to have a quad.

    The 8800 GTS 640 MB is not really worth it IMO. The price is seriously higher than the 320 MB version and the benefits are not justifying it. Play with the charts to see for yourself. Here's an example, where the performance difference is completely negligible:

    As far as I can tell the best value for the money these days is in x1950xt, 8800 GTS 320 and 8800 GTX.
  4. I was looking at those charts (good suggestion, btw) and for a whopping $90 in savings I could get the E6750 whose peformance seemingly doesn't suffer too much compared to the E6850. The E6750 seems to outperform the E6550 enough to be worth the extra $20. Would you agree?
  5. Yes. The E6850 will overclock to some amazing levels, that's why it costs so much more.
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