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Please critique super budget gaming machine

Last response: in Systems
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February 21, 2008 11:44:21 PM

Hi all,

I'm in the market to build a super budget (around $600) gaming machine to get me started back into PC gaming. I'm looking to build a system that I will be able to upgrade in the future as components become cheaper, but that will still allow me to play games with decent settings (Orange Box, Savage 2, etc). I'm not planning on OC-ing or running SLI and I realize that I'll probably have to upgrade the GPU first, followed by the CPU/MB. I already have a 22" Samsung 226BW, XP, Mouse/keyboard, speakers, etc.

Here is what I'm thinking: UPDATED CPU, MB, GPU

CPU- AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Brisbane 2.7GHz ($109.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MB- GIGABYTE GA-MA69GM-S2H AM2 AMD 690G HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard ($74.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU- Antec earthwatts EA500 ATX12V v2.0 500W ($54.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU- Radeon HD 3870 512MB ($184.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM- G.SKILL 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) ($44.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HD- Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM 16MB ($69.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CD/DVD- SAMSUNG DVD+RW ($29.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CASE- COOLER MASTER Elite 330 ($34.99)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total = $604.92 (A bit more than I wanted, but I'm guessing this would be a lot more functional and require less upgrading than I previously had it specced)


Are they any areas where I am totally screwing myself? Will all of these components work together? Any ways I can save some money without sacrificing performance?

Thanks for any comments or advice. These forums are great! They are what got me thinking about building my first system and saving some cash.
February 22, 2008 12:09:16 AM

I think if you can spare the money, DO NOT get the 8600 gt, 9600 gt was just released today and according to the reviews, the 9600 should spank the 8600. However, it is about 170-180. But I think you would be happier, or look at the ATI radeon 3850, those are a decent buy as well.

Since you say you want upgradeability, you need to be looking at AM2+, so that way you can have an AM2 chip, but also have the capability to go to the Phenom down the line, whenever they get it fixed.

How about this for case? Free shipping, gives you the Earthwatts PSU with it. Looks good for your price, but I think I'd upgrade to a better video card if I were you. Do you have an OS and all that?
February 22, 2008 12:25:31 AM

Sorry, super budget and gaming don't mix. Don't expect a lot.

I remember this from my Wing Commander days. "Can't pay? Can't play."

Your setting yourself up for disappointment. The CPU and GPU are 40% solutions for the newest games, and many 2007 FPS intensive games.
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February 22, 2008 12:37:06 AM

that is true. and by saying you won't OC, you're really shooting yourself in the foot...
February 22, 2008 12:44:06 AM

My goal is get a system that will be sufficient to play rather modest games currently (Team Fortress 2, HL-2), but that I will plan on upgrading individual components in the next few months.

Would something like an AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ Brisbane 2.7GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ Windsor 2.8GHz get me into an acceptable CPU range?
February 22, 2008 1:22:42 AM

It's the graphics card that will be the worst part of it here. An 8600GT is pretty weak by current standards. If you are really on a budget but think you can get money within 90 days of purchase, get an EVGA 8600GT and use their step-up program when you get a bit more cash to step-up to an 8800GT or 9600GT. If you can afford to go up to an HD 3850/3870, 8800GT or 9600GT I would highly recommend doing that and trying to overclock your CPU, it isn't hard to overclock and can get you some performance gain.
February 22, 2008 1:25:28 AM

and if you do go for an overclock, get the 5000+BE.
February 22, 2008 2:00:38 AM

Im with fanboi, get the 5000+ BE, turn it up to 3.0 with the multiplyer, and forget about it, its effortless OC and a free $60 worth of performance, just *CROWD SAYS* 'Set it and forget it!'

Good choice on the 3870, the price drop makes those sexy, I bought an 8800GT for $225 last week, knew i shoulda held off.
!