Buyer's guide for a high end gaming computer (8/10/07)

I just did this for someone in a PM, so I thought I'd share if it anyone was looking for info. This is for a strictly gaming machine. If it were for anything else, I'd give more options. This user wanted:

- Strictly gaming
- No overclocking
- No productivity (development/etc)

Base components that won't change.

Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 Conroe 3.0GHz 4M shared L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - Retail
$309.99 Free 3 Business Day Shipping

ZALMAN 9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler - Retail Business Day Shipping $6.33 | Your Price:$59.99
Final price: $66.32

OCZ Platinum Revision 2 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2P800R22GK - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $4.99 | Your Price:$106.99 | Mail-In Rebate: $40.00 | Price after rebate(s):$66.99
Final Price: $72.98

Thermaltake Armor Series VA8003BWS Black Full Tower Case w/ 25CM Fan - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $18.99 | Your Price:$169.00 | Mail-In Rebate: $30.00 | Price after rebate(s):$139.00
Final Price: $167.99

Sony NEC Optiarc 18X DVD±R DVD Burner, OEM Version Black SATA Model AWG170S-B2 - OEM
3 Business Day Shipping $5.84 | Your Price:$32.99
Final Price: $38.83

Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 w/SP2B - OEM
Your Price:$109.99

Total: $766.10

Now you need to choose a PSU and mobo for whether you'll be doing SLI or not:

Non SLI PSU and mobo ( $301.59 ):
CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 620W Power Supply 100 - 240 V UL, CUL, CE, CB, FCC Class B, TUV, CCC, C-tick - Retail Tpk=620hx
$169.99 ($139.99 after $30.00 Mail-In Rebate) | Free 3 Business Day Shipping
Final Price: $139.99

MSI P35 Platinum LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
Ori g: $169.99 | Mail-In Rebate: $15.00 | Price after rebate(s):$154.99 | 3 Business Day Shipping $6.61
Final price: $161.60

SLI PSU and mobo ( $425.80 ):

SILVERSTONE ST75F ATX12V / EPS12V 750W Power Supply - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $8.68 | Your Price:$159.99
Final Price: $168.67

This board also has integrated X-fi!!! Best integrated sound out of ANY BOARD ON THE MARKET (I have this board).
MSI P6N Diamond LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 680i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $7.14 | Your Price:$249.99
Final Price: $257.13

Now you need to choose a video card setup. First of all, there are one of two cards you can choose. The MSI is overclocked AND it's cheaper! I myself have bought 2 MSI cards and been perfectly happy with them. The EVGA, however, has a step-up program where, in 3 months you can trade in the card you buy for a BETTER card using 100% of the purchase price as collateral to move up. I.E., if you buy the 8800GTX @ $500 now, and in 3 months there is a better card out there for $650, you can trade in the 8800GTX and the new card will cost $150. I have never done a step-up, and I won't.. because nothing better came out in time. I do know that you must first send YOUR card in, and the process will take about 2 weeks... so if you don't have a backup card/comp, you won't be using your new comp for 2 weeks while you step up. That's something to consider. I have an EVGA 8800GTX now. Once you've chosen your card, to add SLI, just double the price and make sure you selected the SLI PSU

MSI NX8800GTX-T2D768E-HD OC GeForce 8800GTX 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $6.61 | Your Price:$499.99 | Mail-In Rebate: $20.00 | Price after rebate(s):$479.99
Final Price: $486.00

EVGA 768-P2-N831-AR GeForce 8800GTX 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
3 Business Day Shipping $6.33 | Your Price:$529.99 | Mail-In Rebate: $20.00 | Price after rebate(s):$509.99
Final Price: $516.32

The last thing to select is your Hard Drive configuration. Now, since I forgot to ask you about this, I'll have to leave the options open for you. What I can do is tell you your available options and let you pick and choose yourself.

Beautiful drives. Fast, cheap as hell, and great quality. I have 3 of these in 2 computers. My current rig utilizes 2 of them. I don't have them in any sort of RAID setup, but if you wanted a moderate increase in performance w/fairly large drive capacity, I'd recommend 2 of these run in RAID 0
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3320620AS (Perpendicular Recording Technology) 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Your Price:$79.99

Another great drive using the PR technology, and it's HUGE! These actually perform slightly better than the 320GBs. At the time I was buying, these were about $100 more expensive, but I would highly consider one now if I were to rebuild my machine. The only tradeoff is, if it goes down, you lose a LOT of data (same thing w/any failure, but when you have 2 drives you can generally get away w/copying stuff as a drive fails). Also, it'll take a lot longer to format because there's so much space. As it stands, buying 1 of these would be just slightly more than it would be to buy the equivalent of space from the 320s (2.34 320GB drives would be around 750GB and would = $187.5).
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3750640AS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Your Price:$209.99

Fastest drive on the market (well, actually the smaller version is, because it has less data to scan.. but hey). Tradeoff is that it's RIDICULOUSLY more expensive and a LOT smaller capacity. Basically, it's less than half the size of the seagate 320, but costs twice as much. However, the fastest performance can be achieved by running 2 of these in a RAID 0 array. $400 for 300GB of space is just too much for me though...
Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10,000 RPM Serial ATA150 Hard Drive - OEM
Your Price:$199.99 | Mail-In Rebate: $30.00
Final Price:$169.99

Largest drive on the market with powerful performance. In several tests, these actually rank up near raptors in terms of speed. However, running these in RAID provides almost NO gain in performance whatsoever (but then again, 2TB of space is ridiculous to begin with). These were about $120 higher when I was buying... and I almost got one anyway. Still, $360 for HD space is pretty expensive.. though it's a HELLUVA lot better than the raptor option IMO. Same tradeoffs you get w/the large Seagate apply here. Buying the equivalent of space from the 320s would be $250, so you're looking at about $100 more than if you bought 320s. However, there is a definite performance gain w/this model over the 320s.
HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000 HDS721010KLA330 (0A35155) 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
3 Business Day Shipping $5.29 | Your Price:$359.99
Final Price: $365.28

So now, you have several configuration options. I'll map out a few for you:
- 1 raptor (low capacity, fast speed) $170 for 150GB
- 2 raptors in RAID0 (decent capacity, FASTEST speed) $340 for 300GB
- 2 320s in RAID0 (good capacity, moderate speed) $160 for 640GB (with or without RAID 0 they work well, but if they are in RAID0, both HDs will be useless if 1 fails)
- 1 raptor 1 320 (decent capacity, fast speed) $250 for 470GB (put all your big games and OS on the raptor)
- 1 750 (great capacity, moderate speed) $210
- 1 7k1000 (excellent capacity, fast speed) $360 (not as fast as a raptor, but faster than the others in several categories)
- 1 raptor + 1 high capacity (ridiculous capacity, fast speed) highest cost

Personally, I'm happy w/2 320s not in raid, but that's the slowest (which is relative, considering all of these are fast drives).

So here are some overall configurations with prices for you to look at.

Low (lol) end config:
- Core $766.10
- Non-SLI PSU & mobo $301.59
- MSI vid card $486
- 2x 320s $160
Price: $1713.69

This will game like a freaking beast. Vid card is not upgradeable, but is OCed under factory warranty.

Moderate SLI config:
- Core $766.10
- SLI PSU & mobo $425.80
- 2x MSI vid cards $972
- 1 raptor 1 320 $250
Price: $2413.90

This will game comparable to the previous, but will perform MUCH better.

Ridiculous machine:
- Core $766.10
- SLI PSU & mobo $425.80
- 2x MSI vid cards $972
- 2x Raptors 1 750GB $550
Price: $2713.90

Final Note:
Now... keep in mind, there are all sorts of configurations possible.. I'm just giving you a few ideas. For instance, you could keep the SLI mobo and PSU, but only get 1 card for now... and maybe another later when the prices go down. Also, there are TONS of other components out there. I selected the top of the line model of vid card (8800GTX) but there is an even higher model (8800Ultra for ~$600) and lower but still high end models (8800GTS 640MB and 320MB, ~$370 and ~$260 respectively). Also, you can always get the ridiculous extreme CPU right now (QX6850 for $1,349.99) or you can get lower models. There are tons of different mobos out there... there are tons of different memory modules out there. There are tons of different HDs, some of which perform better than some of these in *SOME* categories. The possibilities are near endless. I'm just trying to give you a good buyer's guide to consider.
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  1. Not one comment positive or negative?? That's surprising.
  2. I think this is really well done. Thanks for pulling it together. If it gets enough attention, you should try to regularly update it.
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