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Low to Moderate Price Gaming Build - Thoughts?

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January 3, 2008 3:45:34 PM

After a week or so of looking around and everywhere else it seems, this is what I am coming with for a fairly cheap, yet decent build. I'd love some input on the choices and any potential conflicts, shortages or issues I might see.

First, what am I trying to achieve:

1. Cost: Must remain as close to $800 or less as possible.
2. Purpose: Gaming, primarily racing sims such as rFactor, GTR2, Race07, Test Drive Unlimited and the new ARCA Sim Racing.
3. I will be using a Dell 2005FPW UltraSharp monitor, native res is 1680x1050. Hope to run games at this res.
4. Will be using WinXP Home for OS.

Components I have chosen:

1. Case - Antec Solo Mid Tower ATX (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...)
2. PSU - Xclio 550w Modular Cable (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...)
3. Mobo - Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...)
4. CPU - Intel E6750 C2D (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...)
5. GPU - HIS Radeon 3850 512mb (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1681...)
6. Memory - muskin 2x1gb DDR2800 (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...)
7. Hard Drive - Seagate Barracuda 160gb (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...)
8. DVD Drive - Samsung OEM (http://www.newegg.com/product/product.asp?item=N82E1682...)


Questions that remain:

1. Should I bother with trying to put in 3gb of DDR2? 2x1gb + 2x512mb?
2. I like the 3850 card, but the I know nothing of the brands. Ones to avoid or they all the same?


Thanks.


January 3, 2008 4:39:05 PM

1. I wouldn't worry about 3gb as most current games won't use that much and you lose the benefits of dual channel memory. I would go with 2x1gb.

2. If you plan to overclock at all, I would recommend downgrading from the e6750 and dedicating more of your budget to a video card. It's quite simple to get any of the new revision core2duos to 3.0ghz, which is more than enough to cooperate with any new graphics card. 1680x1050 will be a tough resolution for the 3850. For a gaming computer at that resolution, I wouldn't go less than a 3870 or 8800gt 512mb. Most of the big brands are fine, but vary in the warranty they offer. XFX, eVGA, BFG, Sapphire, HIS, Gecube have all proven to be good brands for me in the past.
January 3, 2008 5:05:17 PM

I was planning a small OC to 3.0ghz using the included HSF. Would OC'ing a downgraded proc result in requiring a better HSF for the cpu, rather than the stock one with the 6750? Pricing between the 6750 and some of the other similar cpus is negligible (although every penny counts) but not enough to drop the cpu choice, possibly have to add a new HSF and then bump the gpu up to the 3870.

In your sig, you list the 6550 OC'ed. Is that with the stock HSF?

Related resources
January 3, 2008 5:27:35 PM

I have the Cooler Master Hyper TX2 on my CPU. Got it for $2 after rebate. However, it is quite easy to get completely safe temps out of the stock cooler at 3.0ghz. The e2180 retails for $88. With an after market heatsink/fan, you can take it to the 3.2-3.5ghz range and end up with performance > or = to a stock e6850. That $100 would be better spent on a graphics card and CPU cooler rather than the 4mb cpu cache on the e6750(vs the 1mb cache on the e2180) for a gaming machine. The higher multiplier on the e2180 also allows for a lower fsb and a higher cpu overclock. The e4xxx series has a 2mb cache and will overclock similarly yielding slightly better performance at the same clocks than the e2xxx series for a few more dollars. Just remember that the CPU needs to be powerful enough to feed your graphics card, which any of the core2s at 3.0ghz will be. The GPU is a much more important contributor to playable frames/sec.
January 3, 2008 6:07:57 PM

TurdBurglar said:
1. I wouldn't worry about 3gb as most current games won't use that much and you lose the benefits of dual channel memory. I would go with 2x1gb.


I use the 2x1GB + 2x512MB memory configuration and according to cpuz it is operating in dual channel mode. The mobo manual states:

"DDR2 memory modules should be installed in pairs of matched memory size, speed, and technology." (Bold added)

Now that being said, I have no idea how often I actually use over 2GB. But with multiple apps open I think I must use it sometimes.

:bounce:  :bounce:  :bounce: 
January 3, 2008 6:22:58 PM

That is true, but one achieves the highest and most stable overclocks when using only one matched pair of RAM. I was thinking 2 x __ . You are right though 3gb can run in dual channel with 4 sticks.
January 3, 2008 6:24:31 PM

Onus said:
Other than the GreatPower (on Tier-2), XClio PSUs are on Tier-5 ("Do not buy") of the list at http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Tiered+PSU+Listings?t=anon. For a high-end system, make sure your PSU is on Tier-3 or better.



You are entirely correct. I meant to say something about that, but got caught up in his questions. I second that. Get a nice PSU i.e. tier 3 or better. It will save you headaches and give you room for future expansion.
January 3, 2008 6:25:49 PM

TB:

Thanks for the advice. I think I need to review this a little more. The idea of getting the extra performance for less money is great, but I worry about having to spend more time "tinkering" with the settings on the mobo than using the rig for gaming. I know many ppl. like to play and see what they can get out of a particular cpu or system (I've done it myself!) but right now, I am more likely to want to be less aggressive with the OC and just get on with it. Learning the ins and outs of OC are interesting to a point (to me) but it would require more time than I want to invest. Is your recommendation the e2180? Any other advice or suggestions are appreciated. Thanks for taking the time.

jtt283:

I have the tiered list right next to me and simply overlooked the "greatpower" part of the name. Thanks!

rockyjohn:

That was what I was wondering, even if WinXP doesn't see the full amount. If the performance difference is subtle, then I'll save the money. No Photoshop of HD video editing here, so I doubt I would need more than the 2gb.
January 3, 2008 6:27:21 PM

Onus said:
Other than the GreatPower (on Tier-2), XClio PSUs are on Tier-5 ("Do not buy") of the list at http://www.tomswiki.com/page/Tiered+PSU+Listings?t=anon. For a high-end system, make sure your PSU is on Tier-3 or better.

That is a GreatPower that Lawman02766 listed, and I am quite sure that it is manufactured by Channel Well. I have a 500W GoodPower and it works beautifully, though it couldn't hold a candle to the 550W GreatPower.

Looks like you've got a good build there Lawman. I especially like your motherboard and GPU. You might want to make sure that DVD the burner is SATA so that you won't have to deal with those annoying ribbon cables. I tried to follow your link, but it looks like you linked the hard drive twice :na: 
January 3, 2008 6:35:51 PM

Nice; the XClio you listed is indeed a "GreatPower." That's what I get for being too slack to copy/paste a non-clickable link.

An OEM optical drive will not include any software, including a decoder you'll need to watch movies. For another $7 or so, get a Retail version if you need the software.
January 3, 2008 6:43:07 PM

I'd get this memory for $10 less:

Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148076

The HD 3850/E6750 combination is VERY good bang for the buck, good choices.

2 GB of RAM is plenty. I have 4 but the only time I'm actually using more than 2 is in Visual Studio. Most games are limited to 2 GB anyway because of some programming issues.

Here's a good PSU for a few bucks less than the one you listed:
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX ATX12V V2.2 550W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139004&Tpk=550vx

January 3, 2008 9:33:43 PM

The funny thing is that the Corsair VX550 and the XClio GreatPower 550W probably came off of the same line. The GreatPower has its 12V rail split a few ways, while the Corsair keeps it in one strong rail (which is the better solution in my opinion). Otherwise they are extremely similar, almost to the point of being the same PSU.
January 4, 2008 1:40:22 PM

aevm said:
I'd get this memory for $10 less:

Crucial Ballistix Tracer 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820148076

The HD 3850/E6750 combination is VERY good bang for the buck, good choices.

2 GB of RAM is plenty. I have 4 but the only time I'm actually using more than 2 is in Visual Studio. Most games are limited to 2 GB anyway because of some programming issues.

Here's a good PSU for a few bucks less than the one you listed:
CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX ATX12V V2.2 550W
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139004&Tpk=550vx


The HD3850/e6750 is by no means a bad choice as both are great parts. However, for a gaming computer with his budget, an 8800GT 512mb/e4500 combination would yield higher frames/sec for less money. Overclocking the e4500 would amount to changing the FSB to 275 to achieve 3.0ghz. It is unlikely that voltage changes would even be necessary.

8800GT 512
http://www.ncixus.com/products/27704/512-P3-N801-AR/eVG...
e4500
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

=$375

HD3850+e6750= $406

Looks like an easy choice.

If the 4mb cache on the CPU is a must, bump it up to an e6550 to bring the CPU/GPU total to $422. That decimates the HD3850/e6750 combo for an extra $16.
January 5, 2008 4:25:18 AM

I <think> I am getting closer to deciding. A lot of info here and I truly appreciate the effort and suggestions.

I like the EVGA for the warranty and the Step Up program. What I don't know is the e-tailer that you linked to. Never heard of them and with a low price like that, it makes me wonder. Are they reputable? I can't seem to find a lot about them via searches.
January 5, 2008 1:51:45 PM

I like Newegg. They've never let me down, and I can be hard to please sometimes :sol: 
January 5, 2008 3:16:54 PM

I'm running the same apps (GTR2/GTL) with the rig in my sig.

The E6750 on the DS3L O/C's to 3.2 with the stock cooler and less voltage. It's a no-cost no-brainer that adds 20% performance. There are some good threads on THG about overclocking, as long as you keep it reasonable it is very easy, especially with this combo.

You want the best video card you can get, I recommend the 8800GT. It's well worth the extra $30. Gigabyte makes a nice one that is factory O/C'd to 700 and has a Zalman fan.

More than 2GB RAM doesn't make any difference in a single app, you'll be better off with 2 hard drives, that delivers a huge speed boost.

The Gigabyte Triton case has 2 reasonably quiet 120mm fans and is excellent quality. They're out of stock at Newegg but eWiz has them for $15 less -

Don't forget the G25 ... and the Matrox TripleHead2Go ...
January 5, 2008 10:55:23 PM

drop ATI Video card and get 8800 gt for 17 dollars more at pricegrabber.com. These 17 dollars are well worth it. As we all know, Nvida
8800 gt are faster than any ATI cards available. Since its a faster card, it will enable you to play at high settings.
!