very cheap gaming capable build advice requested

First, thanks in advance for any advice folks are willing to offer a first time poster (long-time user of TH, and recent lurker of TH forums).

Done some reading here, and on other forums to come up with a cheap gaming-capable rig that a pal of mine plans to build (me too probably!). Nothing cutting edge (that'll be obvious when you see the proposed build). We're both "getting by" with our current systems. He's more of the EA Sports series type, and I'm a WoW/EQ player. Dabbled w/ Oblivion (wouldn't mind playing that with some better settings).

For comparison purposes, I'd be upgrading from a build A7N8X-X/Athlon XP 2800+/1G of RAM w/ an nVidia 6600 256. My pal is using an HP or Dell P3 1.3GHz, 768M of RAM with a GeForce of some sort w/ 128M.

Here's what I've come up with for a gaming-capable rig on the (dirt-)cheap. Building this system in Canada, and I've included readily available prices for reference. Can't wait for NewEgg to start shipping up here!

Antec Sonata III w/ 500w PS $113
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L $89
Intel E2140 1.6GHz $71
XFX Geforce 7900GS XT $120
Corsair 2x1G PC2-6400 RAM ~$25 after rebate
WD SE126 320G SATA2 16MB $78
DVI to VGA adapter ~$10
OS (XP Pro), mouse, keyboard and CRT monitors will be carried forward for now

I can't quite tell if I'm specing a 32bit or 64 bit system. Am I correct it's 32bit so my current XP Pro will load up fine?

Any glaring "errors" with my configuration? Most importantly, is there anything that simply won't play well together? Next, are there any obvious ways to make the configuration cheaper without sacrificing performance? Also, are there any "just another few dollars (say 10-20%) would give you so much more" upgrades? Finally, are we going to see a "night & day" increase in performance? I'm pretty sure he will, and hoping I would too.
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More about very cheap gaming capable build advice requested
  1. If you can get a 3850 for about $50 more, you'd see alot of performance increase over the 7900gs. Not sure what prices you get, but a x1950pro is better than a 7900gs and should be about the same $ as the 7900gs. The rest of the build looks good. You could go with AMD to save some $, but the AMD won't OC as easily or farther than the Intel build, so you can decide. Yes your OS is 32 bit unless it says "64 bit" on the packaging. There isn't too much more you can do to lower the cost and keep performance up. Like I said before, the only upgrades you can get are x1950pro/8600gts or up to the 3850.
  2. That system will work very well for the price, especially if your willing to overclock it. I built a very similar machine except I built it using an AMD 5000+ black edition, with the plan to upgrade to the phenom core after they came down in price to the 125-150$ range. Either way I think you will be happy with your system performance/price ratio for quite some time given the ability to upgrade the processor to quad core without upgrading the motherboard.
  3. It will be fine for XP Pro. The CPU will run both a 32-bit and 64-bit OS. Two recommendations:

    1. Send a little more on the CPU. If you want to stick with the E2xxx series Intel, at least get one that is 2.0Ghz+. It will be easier to OC those models because of the higher multiplier.

    2. Spend a little more on a video card. Yea the 7900GS was great 2 years ago, but for about $30 more you could get this card that will outperform the 7900GS and get you into DX10 to play some of the newer games. Or like luny said spend $50 buck more and get a HD 3850.

    HD 2900 GT

    HD 3850 Outof Stock ATM

    NVIDIA Card are over priced for the perfomance they give, IMO. Yeah the Higher models like the 8800 Series are great, if you want to sepend $250-$300 on a video card, but in the lower the price ranges, generally ATI comes out on top.
  4. I forgot to address the 32bit or 64bit build question. Your hardware will support 32bit or 64bit, so to save money installing your old windows xp Pro 32bit will work fine. There isn't a good reason at this point to spend the money to upgrade your operating system. The main reason for upgrading would be if you needed more then 3.2gb of ram which is the average amount 32bit XP pro recognizes. Almost the only game on the market right now thats needs that is Supreme Commander.
  5. You will see a night and day difference, your friend especially but both of you will no doubt.

    Drop the DVI to VGA adapter. Most (and you can check the contents of the card you are getting) video cards come with this adapter.

    Your windows XP Pro will load no problems. Your new CPU is 64 bit and you can run a 32 bit OS no problems. Its the other way around that is a problem.

    Great prices on most everything you are getting. You could go with this case and buy a separate power supply:

    Cost is 24.99 after 40.00 MIR

    Cost 49.99 after 30.00 MIR

    Cost 49.99 no MIR

    Power Supply:

    Cost 34.99 after 25.00 MIR

    Actually I ran across this deal that is hard to beat if you like the style of the case. This would be my pick for a budget build system.

    Cost 59.99 no MIR

    You would now have 60-70 dollars extra to put into a better video card and/or maybe a dual layer dvd drive with lightscribe.

    Cost 29.99

    As far as as the video card, you will want to consider if you want to eventually go to direct x10 games. Your OS doesnt support it but if you get a direct x10 card you can play direct x9 on your current system and if you want to upgrade to vista later you will already be set to use direct x10 with the video card you already have. Just a suggestion.

    After you choose the direct x9 or 10 option then you will need to consider which video card.
  6. Just to give you an idea of what i have recently built...
    I built 2 slightly diff systems for friends and here is what they used and my results....

    Comp 1

    Asus P5GC-MX ($65)
    Cooler Master Extreme Power 550W ($55)
    Intel® Core™2 Duo E4500, 2.20GHz ($129)
    Asus EAX1950PRO/HTDP/256M ($162)
    Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro for Intel Socket 775 ($27)

    Comp 2

    same PS and video card and cpu cooler, but i used an abit ab9 mobo i got cheep on ebay and a C2D E4400 instead since the 4500 wasn't out yet.

    I think you have a good motherboard, ram and HDD picked out but i would say maybe saving some money on the PS and going with something like the coolermaster or even an OCZ PS would let you put money into the video card or CPU would help alot. the extra cash memory on the E4XXX series helps alot, and if you can get either a E4400 or even E4300 for close to $100 they are overclocking dreams. I got my E4400 to run stable @ 3.5Ghz with that artic cooler. so if you are even ok with a small OC to 3Ghz it would be very very easy and give huge improvemnts.
    you said your n canada, so am i. I got most of my parts off, but don't know if they are near you.

    hope this helps.
  7. Didn't think about the OS DX issue. Well, if you buy the DX10 card, at least you have the ability to upgrade to Vista in the future and be able to play DX10 with out having to buy a new card later.
  8. mattman5170 said:

    2. Spend a little more on a video card. Yea the 7900GS was great 2 years ago, but for about $30 more you could get this card that will outperform the 7900GS and get you into DX10 to play some of the newer games. Or like luny said spend $50 buck more and get a HD 3850.

    HD 2900 GT

    HD 3850 Outof Stock ATM

    Those aren't bad suggestions but if you spend $5 more after S/H you could get this card:
    The 2900Pro has more shaders and higher clock speed, and this one with the 256 bit interface is fine. But If you must have the 512 bit, it's only $10 more than the 256:
  9. guys, i don't wana knock all your help for this guy, but and prices arn't goina help when he's buying the parts in and from canada....can newegg even ship here?

    That should give him some canadian choices and prices
  11. Avenger I was going to suggest those, but for those prices he may as well go for the HD3850 then. But those cards are sweet. 512-bit bus, 256MB or 512Mb RAM!
  12. Just popping in between errands - thanks for the feedback thus far. At a glance, it looks like the ATI cards are less widely available, and more expensive north of the border. I'll be back later tonight and will post the prices of some of the suggested cards, and see where that leads the discussion.

    NewEgg won't ship here yet, though there's a thread on their forums talking about it. can be competitive on prices, but when they are they like to kill the deal with shipping. NewEgg is still a good reference, even for me to just sanity check prices. I built two of the aforementioned Athlon systems, back when I lived in the US.

    In my book, and seem to be the closest thing to "NewEgg" we've got here. can also be competitive, but it varies depending on what you're shopping for. To come up with the original list, I was checking most of my prices against (we have here, but pricecanada seems to have an edge).

    Side question: is practically giving away ($50) a Pentium D 925 processor (OEM). Comparing it to the E2140, it seems to be better? Higher clock speed, same socket (LGA 775), more cache. If the price w/ heatsink, thermal paste and shipping ends up about the same, is the 925 a better choice?
  13. 925D isn't a good choice. It's built on the old "net burst" crap design. You would be better off with the e2160/80 than any pentium "D" processor. You won't need thermal paste, because it comes with it already applied. Now if you going to OC some than getting some aftermarket paste would be good.
  14. This might be a lo more than you can buy but just take away the Ultima which saves you 66$, putting it at 852, then change the 8800GT to the 3850 and save another 100$ bucks.(The problem is finding the thing)


    Cooling: Thermalright Ultima 90 + Scythe S-Flex Fan - SFF21F + Artic Silver 5 - $66

    Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L Rev. 2.0 - $88

    PSU: CORSAIR HX CMPSU-520HX - $100

    OS: MICROSOFT Windows Vista 32-Bit Home Premium - $97

    GPU: EVGA GeForce 8800GT 512MB - $260

    CPU: Intel Dual-Core E2160 Allendale 1.8GHz 1MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Processor - $83

    Case: COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 - $50

    Drive: SAMSUNG Black SATA DVD Burner - $34

    Ram: A-DATA Extreme Edition 2GB - $50

    HDD: Western Digital Caviar RE WD3200YS 320GB - $90

    Total: $918
  15. Thanks again for the feedback. It's a lot to take in, so hopefully I haven't overlooked anyone's input - if I did it wasn't intentional. Here's where I'm at so far (prices are shipped, before tax unless otherwise specified).

    Mobo seem to be pretty much unanimous if I stick to Intel. Just for fun, what is the board that would be on par with this one in the AMD world. Also, what is the corresponding AMD CPU that would compare with my E2140's performance? Gnug mentioned the 5000+ black w/ the ability to upgrade to the Phenom. Is Phenom AMD's answer to Intel's quad core?

    For RAM, it looks like I have a few choices, so far "OCZ Gold XTC PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-12 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit" is the winner at $35 after rebates, shipped.

    OS (XP Pro), mouse, keyboard and CRT monitors will be carried forward for now

    I forgot to mention IDE optical drive(s) will also be carried forward. I did take the time to confirm the DS3L supports a single IDE channel for up to two devices. Mobo doesn't have FireWire, but I've already got the PCI card for that, I'll carry it forward too. I use it so rarely I wouldn't spend a dime extra for that feature on a mobo (plus, I already spent the $12 extra for the PCI card :P ).

    CPU                      Price
    E2140                    71.43
    E2160                    83.04
    E2180                    88.40
    E2200                    95.69
    E4400                   135.20
    E4500                   125.84

    To go beyond the 2140 at all would probably mean going straight to the 2200, because the incremental cost from 2160-2200 is pretty small. In the interest of keeping this cheap, I'm leaning towards the 2140. Though I may be tempted to OC eventually, that's not the intent out of the gate. For that reason (and warranty/cost), I'm sticking to retail CPUs w/ stock heatsinks & fans.

    Video                    Price
    7900 GS XT 256           96.99 (lifetime warr, after $30 rebate)
    8600 GTS OC 256         146.28 (lifetime, after $40 rebate (add $15 shipping))
    X1950 Pro 256           159.60 (no lifetime)
    HD 2900 GT                 n/a (no lifetime)
    HD 3850 256             177.09 (no lifetime)
    8800 GT 256             203.84 (lifetime warr)
    8800 GT 512             250.16 (lifetime warr)

    I'm pretty disappointed with the pricing and availablity of ATI cards here in Canada. I literally can't even find a place that sells the HD 2900 GT. A 2900XT is $400+. One thing I like about the nVidia cards, is there are at least 3 manufacturers offering lifetime warranties. BFG, XFX and eVGA. Is there anyone selling ATI chipsets doing the same thing? ASUS, Sapphire and Diamond all had ATI offerings, but only 2-3yr warranties. Update: It looks like VisionTek offers a lifetime warranry on ATI cards. I suppose that's not really an issue for folks that don't keep dinosaurs around like I do :) Tangent: my Geforce 6600 is actually what I got back on an RMA on a Ti4200 w/ a lifetime warranty from BFG. Cheapest upgrade ever! For me, it'll be hard to justify any of the DX10 cards, as XP Pro is my OS of choice for the forseeable future. Bit of a bonus that I found a 7900GS with a rebate on top of an already nice price. Looks like it may come with two DVI VGA adapters - great tip, saved me an easy $10.

    Case w/ PSU              Price
    Antec Sonata III        112.82
    Ultra Grid ATX           59.97 (+48.64 shipping - hate you
    Case + PS                Price
    Coolermaster CAC-T05     49.68
    Silverstone ST50EF-PLUS  78.39 (total 128.07 w/ CM case)
    Coolermaster Extreme Power 500W ATX 12V V2.01 Silent Power Supply 20/24PIN 120MM Fan 42.12 (total 91.80 w/ CM case)

    Unless that Ultra Grid case is the cat's meow, I just can't flush my money to TD's ridiculous shipping rates. You did get me thinking about unbundling the case & PSU though. I started with the case & PSU from TH's $500 gaming build, and also looked at Gizmo's PS. I've heard good things about Antec's PSUs. Does Coolermaster get any respect for their PSUs? If so, the CM case and PSU gets my vote over the Antec.
  16. Found references to the "Tiers" of PSU's in other Budget threads. ( ) Sounds like a CM PSU is not the way to go.

    Came up with a Tier 3 PS for 56.12 shipped
    (Thermaltake Purepower 500W ATX12V V2.0 20/24PIN ATX Power Supply 120MM Fan.) That's 105.80 with in the CM case. For the $7 difference, I'm leaning back towards the Sonata III. It includes an Antec "Earthwatts" 500w PSU.
  17. Sorry to hear about the shipping abuse you are experiencing. Some things we take for granted here in the states is the localized shipping and great prices from so many vendors.

    As far as the CPU I think I would step up to the 2180, I saw the reviews of that CPU getting overclocked to over 3.0Ghz easily.

    There are some great AMD chips for the performance/price factor you are looking for. The AMD 5000 Black Edition is a great choice for roughtly 129.99. From what I am seeing that you are upgrading from any AM2 4200+ and up CPU will do you nicely and the great thing is that AMD is going to stick to that same socket for a while to come and for most motherboard mfgrs you can simply update the BIOS and it will support the AM3 chips that are coming out in the form of Phenom chips.

    Currently the Quad core Phenoms arent a good choice so you can go with a lower end 4200+ or greater chip and all you will have to do is purchase a new CPU (and most likely a higher performance cooler) and update the BIOS and you are good for another 2 years or more.

    Don't overlook AMD for your build. If you were currently looking for the top end build now I would say Intel but the range you are looking to spend for I think you can easily go with AMD and have better upgradability for the future since Intel will be changing their socket type soon.

    This is AMD's strong point is that they have kept their core system components the same and that makes upgrading so much cheaper for people that want better performance options later without having to overhaul their entire system and break the bank.
  18. fortget this chip its aretard compared to most out there right now even with an oc
  19. oh yeah 3850 bang for buck and if you cant find one in canada yer just like that processor you wanted to buy (srry not a diss just trying to make a point)
  20. CPU
    e2160/80 if you go with Intel. You'll be able to OC it easily to 2.8-3 gig later, when you want more speed.
    AMD equivalent at stock speed (to your e2140) is the x2 4000+, won't OC like the Intel build, but has equivalent performance at stock speeds :)
    AMD Athlon 64 X2 4000+ Brisbane 2.1GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache Socket AM2 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
    Here's the link to show similar performance between e2140 and x2 4000+

    AMD mobo to consider, since you'd want to upgrade to Phenom later, only $92 shipped here in the US, not sure if you have that option there in Canada
    MSI K9A2 CF-F AMD Phenom Socket AM2+ 2000 MHz PC2-8500 (DDR2-1066) ATX Motherboard Retail

    Stick with the Antec Sonata III w/500w PSU. That's a solid choice and should serve you well for what your wanting to do. The AMD BE 5000+ DOESN'T come with a HSF, so you'll need to add at least $20-25 more for a Arctic Freezer 64 HSF (nice budget cooler with decent cooling capabilities).

    CM PSU's on the low end aren't very good and the Ultra's on the lower end are about the same quality wise, so that is why I recommended the Antec Sonata III w/500w Earth Watts PSU.
  21. Agreed the 2180 will clock higher, you can also upgrade to the current higher Core 2 Duo or Quad core chips later. These are definitely good options.

    The only gamble is if AMD does come out with something later that does perform above expectations then you would have been able to upgrade to those chips as well if you go AMD.

    The main thing I see is that Intel is definitely going to change the CPU socket type soon so most likely the current CPU releases are going to be your limit to upgrade to without having to overhaul most of your rig.

    AMD is in line to stay with compatable AM2 & AM3 socket types that will be able to use most of if not all of your current hardware and should promise you cheaper upgrades later when you are ready.

    That is the split in the fork of the road for your decision. I think either way you will be happy for at least 3 years or so, maybe longer.

    Its not that big of a deal either way I just think seeing that you keep your system for so long and most likely will want to spend the least possible for later upgrades these are strong points to consider...
  22. An update for the folks that offered their kind advice, and anyone else who might be looking for a low-budget build. I waited for the Boxing Day sales (12/26 - similar to the US "Black Friday" sales). All prices Canadian, before tax (14%).

    XFX GeForce 7900GS XT 480MHZ 256MB 256BIT 1.4GHZ DDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I TV
    Out Video Card
    $99.99 - $30 rebate = $69.99

    OCZ Gold XTC PC2-6400 2GB 2X1GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-12 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel
    Memory Kit
    $43.99 - $30 rebate = $13.99

    $15.00 shipping + $2.16 insurance

    Direct Canada

    Kingston Data Traveler 1GB USB2.0 Flash Drive

    Intel Pentium Dual Core E2200 Dual Core Processor LGA775 2.2GHZ 800FSB 1MB

    Antec Sonata III Black Atx 16IN Mid Tower Quiet Case 3X5.25 2X3.5 4X3.5IN
    500W 120MM Fan

    Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L Atx LGA775 P35 1333FSB 1PCI-E16 3PCI-E1 3PCI SATA2
    Sound Gblan Motherboard

    Free Shipping ($300 minimum) + $4.60 insurance

    Rather than pay $10 shipping @ DC, I put a $8.88 USB drive in and opted for a E2200 to get my subtotal over $300. In my pal's case, a hard drive will put him over so he may opt for a lesser processer, and will surely skip the USB drive.

    I'll probably opt for some very conservative OC, using the stock cooler. If these chips can OC by 100%, I expect I'll have no trouble getting 30-40% from it.
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