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Challenge: Best Price/Performance for XBOX360 Like Gaming Experience

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March 11, 2008 8:15:03 PM

Challenge: Select components that will provide a better price/performance than what I have selected for the situation described below.

My brother-in-law is in need of a new computer. He is currently using an Athlon XP 1800+ with a 6600 GT and 1 gig of ram. Needless to say his rig is starting to show its age. He has been a console gamer predominantly, but does enjoy playing WoW and RTS games (Starcraft, Warcraft III, and wants to play Starcraft 2, yeah he’s a blizzard fan.) Because he has been a console gamer, he has never been able to enjoy playing other types of games on the PC (FPS primarily), but does enjoy playing them on his XBOX, and on his friends XBOX360s. He wants to get an XBOX360, but he is also in dire need of a computer upgrade, as his current rig is struggling to run some of the software he needs for school let alone games. After a little convincing, and a demonstration of Gears of War for Windows on my 40” 1080P LCD with an XBOX360 wireless controller for windows, he has decided to just upgrade his computer. With that long introduction aside here is exactly what he wants:

He wants a gaming experience that is on par with or better than what is possible on an XBOX360 for as little money as possible. It does not need to be better than what is available on the console (although it will be) it just need to be on par (i.e. he does not need to run Crysis on Ultra High with all the bells and whistles).

He will be gaming at 1280x1024 on his current monitor and at that resolution only.

*Updated - He will probably be getting a new monitor, either a 19" with a resolution of 1440x900 or 20-22" with a resolution of 1680x1050, but maximum in game settings would still be used (hopefully).

He will be using Windows Vista Home Premium 32-bit (Already has a license)

The games he is interested in (for now) are Gears of War, Bioshock, CoD4, and Oblivion (and of course WoW and Starcraft II).

The target settings are 1280x1024 @ 4x AA and 8x AF with max settings and DirectX 10 textures for those games that support it, (although AA and AF can be toned down to 2x and 4x respectively).

The average FPS should be near 60 for the games mentioned; any frames over 60 are not doing him any good, especially if he had to pay more money to obtain those frames.

He will be gaming with an XBOX360 controller for windows, with native support in some games, and using Pinnacle Game Profiler in others. (Just a short plug for Pinnacle Game Profiler, it is absolutely amazing and is able to almost completely re-create the console experience for those games that don’t support the XBOX360 controller natively).

He is a college student and is very strapped for cash so every dollar matters.

The components I have selected after much research and web browsing are as follows:

XFX Geforce 8800GS 384MB $149.99 – 30 MIR = $119.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150275
It is hard to find reviews for the 8800GS, but the ones I have found show it beating the 3850 256 and 512 in almost everything and even beating the 9600GT and 3870 at 1280x1024 sometimes. It is limited by its 192-bit memory bus and 384MB memory, but this shouldn’t be too much of a problem at 1280x1024. This particular model is also known to have a loud fan which cannot be throttled (only two wires on the fan), but the noise does not bother him.

*Updated
The video card will almost certainly be a 9600GT and at this point the MSI Overclocked Version $161.57
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127333

Antec Earthwatts 430 W $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371006
Antec Earthwatts are built by Seasonic and are extremely reliable and efficient. This particular model has 34 amps on the 12v rails which should be more than sufficient for the desired system.

Crucial Ballistix 2GB (2 x 1 GB) DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 $64.99 – 35 MIR = $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146565
Very good Ram, very good price!

Abit IP35-E P35 $89.99 – 30 MIR + 7.48 Shipping = $67.47
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813127031
Decent overclocker, and decent board for a budget P35. The only thing missing is IEEE 1394 which he won’t use anyway.

Intel Pentium E2160 $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116036
The overclocking prowess of the 2160 has been well documented on the internet. My goal is to clock this puppy to 3.0 GHz (9x333) at stock voltage and stock Intel HSF. I know this is a lofty goal, but it has been obtained many times by forum posters. In my opinion it is not worth buying an after- market HSF because the increased cost will not provide a proportional benefit to my brother-in-law. I am 100% positive that I will reach 2.7 (9x300) at stock voltage and HSF, and anything over that is gravy.

The total price after rebates and shipping comes to $337.43. By comparison the cheapest XBOX360 with a hard drive is listed on newegg for $349.99 + 14.77 Shipping = $364.76. Throw in an XBOX controller for the PC and the price is about equal, but for a much better experience on the PC.

*Updated the overall build will now cost $374.55 which is now more expensive than the target XBOX360 :( , but with much better performance :) :) 

All the other components will be re-used from his current computer. I am going to be placing the order in the next day or two, but would like to draw on the collective knowledge at Tom’s Forums to see if I can build him a better computer for the price.

Thanks in advance.
March 11, 2008 8:36:47 PM

don't be so sure about voltage... i was and look what it got me... i have to pump 1.425V with an AC freezer 7 pro to get 3 ghz, and on my trial, 2.7 wasn't stable even with 1.4V... just so you know...

anyways, you look like you have a winner there... not so sure about the GFX card, but then again, it IS a low res... just not sure how long it will last...

the advantage though is that he can slap in another gig or 2 of ram later on...
March 11, 2008 8:47:31 PM

Newegg also has the eVGA verison of the 8800GS which is suppose to be the one in the reviews that mention its near silent fan.
Related resources
March 11, 2008 9:42:10 PM

That really looks good. If it was me I really would pick up the 9600gt evga for 170 and $20 mir for 150. 30 bucks more but I really think you'll be happy you did especially when starcraft 2 hits just my opinion. But either way graphics quality will be way better than the 360.
(only reason I ever game on my xbox 360 is for multiplayer)

I really wish I could hook up 4 xbox 360 controllers and play each other on my pc. Wouldn't need an console system at all.
March 11, 2008 10:51:55 PM

Thanks for the replies so far, once again Tom's forums do not disappoint.

amd_fanboi – thanks for the info about the E2160, I do not have experience with this particular chip, but do with others of the Core 2 line. I was under the impression that 3.0 GHz should be relatively easy to obtain, I do understand that it is all a crap shoot though. Perhaps I should ask the question what is the worst overclock that you or anyone has seen with the E2160 at stock voltage and HSF.

Pokemon - yes I have seriously considered bumping up to the EVGA model, but more for the faster memory than the fan noise. I have warned my brother-in-law about the fan noise and he assured me that it would not be a problem in the slightest. The EVGA model is actually using faster memory chips than the XFX model (not just clocked faster, actually different chips). The question is will the performance increase of the EVGA be worth the $16.57 difference in price. It may not sound like much but at the current price point that is 13.8% of the XFX so the EVGA would need to be at least 13.8% faster. I personally would get the quieter one, but apparently my brother-in-law doesn’t care.

Radguy – yes the 9600 GT is also a good choice, but at its lowest price point which is currently $156.57 on newegg after rebate and shipping that represents a price increase of 30.4%. The question is would the 9600 GT provide 30.4% better performance. In the limited reviews of the 8800GS I was able to find the 9600GT and 8800GS were very close as 1280x1024 with the 8800GS winning a few times. They are both based on the same tech (well G92 vs G94 but basically identical) so they should scale identically with new games. The 8800GS has the advantage with 96 shader units while the 9600GT only has 64, but the 9600GT definitely has the memory advantage with its 256-bit bus. The question is how much of an advantage is that memory bandwidth at the relatively low resolution of 1280x1024 now and in the future. My research shows not very much currently, but as I mentioned before I was not able to find the usual plethora of benchmarks for the 8800GS.

Thanks for the comments and please keep them coming, I appreciate all of them and will seriously consider them.
March 11, 2008 11:54:57 PM

Nice :) . I would switch the Motherboard to a P35-DS3L though. (Has better OC than the IP35, IMO). Goes for the same price @newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You didn't include a case so that could throw off the price. If OCing the 2160 make sure you get a good cooler. You probably might not reach 2.7 @ stock voltage though. 2.5Ghz, may be. Get a Arctic Freezer 7.
March 12, 2008 12:31:42 AM

Shadow - The IP35-E Currently has a $30 rebate which puts its price quite a bit lower than the P35-DS3L. If they were priced the same I would definitely go for the P35-DS3L as I think it has recieved better overvall reviews. Shadow I see you have an overclocked 2180 at 3.2. Would you mind commenting on your overclocking experience with that chip? Current Voltage @ 3.2, temps at load, maximum stable overclock at stock settings, things of that nature, I would greatly appreciate it.

I appreciate all of the suggestions so far, I am looking to order it all tommorrow so keep 'em coming
March 12, 2008 12:43:05 AM

I forgot to mention the case: The case will be re-used from his current build. His whole system is a hand me down of a system I built nearly 5 or 6 years ago now. Man, time flies. The system started its life with an Athlon XP 1800+ and a Ti4200. Great Components at their time. Anyways the case is nothing pretty to look at (big ugly beige thing) but has decent airflow (120mm Exhaust fan, and 80 mm Intake) and should be sufficient for the proposed build.
March 12, 2008 2:08:45 AM

Some thoughts on adding an aftermarket cooler (such as an Arctic Freezer 7)…

The current price at Newegg for the AC7 with shipping is $33.57. This represents nearly a 48% increase over the price of the E2160 and stock HSF. It is very hard for me to judge at this point if it is worth paying the premium for the extra overclocking headroom. Finding benchmarks with an identical setup is nearly impossible, especially with the 8800GS. The question is how will that increased headroom translate into FPS and by extension the overall gaming experience? It appears from recent posts that my goal of 3.0 may be too lofty. I think I will set my baseline at 2.5 and hope for 2.7 (and maybe 3.0 if I’m really lucky ;)  ). So for those who have overclocked an Allendale (E2160 or similar) what would my expectations be if I added an aftermarket HSF such as an AC7 vs the intel stock HSF, and how would that translate into actual FPS in the games listed above (I can’t exactly answer that question which is why I am here).

I apologize for begin so analytical, but I am an engineer, and it is in our nature. I also would not be so picky about this particular build if I was doing it for myself, but as it’s for my brother-in-law I want to explore every avenue possible. I have been trying to convert him to PC Gaming for many years, to no avail, but I feel that this time I have a chance to sway him from the dark side.
March 12, 2008 2:46:03 AM

First off, I think you have a good build. There are a few details that your working on, but overall I think you should be fine.
* The Antec 430W Earth Watts PSU has 30A on the 12V rails, but that won't be an issue for your proposed build.
* I'm sure the 8800gs will be fine for what you want to do. Yes you can get better, but under your budget I think your right where you need to be.
* As far as the mobo, I think your exactly where you need to be. The Abit IP35-e mobo is a good board. I'll link to anand's forum where they've been discussing it since last year. It hasn't been updated recently, but you can read through it and see what it's all about.
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid=29&t...

Below is a link to some e2160 CPU OC's and what settings they used and what coolers they also used. There are a bunch of posts on stock coolers, so you can decide if you need an aftermarket HSF or not. I personally would stick with stock and see what you get. If your case is cool and you keep stable temperatures, than you should be fine. If you don't have stable temps, than maybe getting a Arctic Freezer Pro 7 would fit the bill.
http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid=28&t...

Finally you should be fine, just remember to make sure that your temps are solid and that you don't lock up the system in a closed desk or something like that. You'll need to make sure the system is in a well ventilated room.

Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro HSF for a much cheaper price!!! $22.71 shipped!! Get it now!!
http://www.ewiz.com/detail.php?name=FAN-AC7PRO
March 12, 2008 1:17:04 PM

lunyone – thanks for the forum links they were very useful, I will comment on them in a minute.

First off, all the specs I have seen show the Antec 430W Earthwatts to have two 12V rails at 17 amps each for a total of 34 amps. I am not doubting you in the slightest, but am now wondering if I have been overlooking some aspect when I calculate the amps available on a rail. I am just curious as to how you came up with 30 amps. I have just been taking the numbers directly from what is printed on the PSU or from the manufactures website. Am I overlooking something?
Link to Antec’s Website
http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=27430

The link to the overclocking posts showed some very good overclocks at stock voltage or slightly above stock for the E2160. I think your advice about trying with the stock HSF is sound as I can always add the AC7 later if need be. I don’t think I will need to for this build though, after a little more digging into the benchmarks for the 8800GS, I noticed the test setup for the benchmarks at techPowerUp!.
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/EVGA/GeForce_8800_GS/5.html

They are using an E6550@2.33, 2 gigs of DDR2 1066, and a P35. The real world performance difference between DDR2-800 and DDR2-1066 has been shown to be negligible, and the difference between this P35 and the IP35-E should also be negligible. To match an E6550@2.33 I would need to clock an E2160 to roughly 2.5 (purely an estimate) to negate the cache deficiency. This should be easily obtainable based on the link you sent me. However, even this may not be necessary. When looking at the benchmarks for UT3, (which should be a very good indicator of the performance in GoW and Bioshock) the 8800 GS spanks out 119.5 FPS at 1280x1024 at max settings. 119.5 FPS!! With this kind of performance I will be turning on vsync to improve the picture quality, and locking the FPS at 60 anyway. I am now wondering if I will even need to overclock the E2160 at all to obtain a silky smooth experience. I have decided to go with the EVGA 8800GS as suggested by Pokemon, (which is the model techpowerup reviewed). Newegg is now offering free shipping on it and its cooler appears to be unbelievably quiet, not to mention it has the faster memory chips.

The only concern I am left with at all is with the IP35-E. After reading through the forum I remembered an issue that I forgot to address. My brother-in-law will be re-using his current pata hard drive, (80 GB Hitachi 7200 rpm 8 MB cache) which wouldn’t normally be a problem as real world performance between sata and pata drives are pretty small, however, it appears that some people have had problems with the j-micron ide controller on the IP35-E. It may not be a deal breaker, but I am curious if anyone here has experienced any problems with it. I will be installing Vista Home Premium on it, and was wondering if anyone would for see any problems with the installation.
As soon as I nail down this last issue I will be placing the order, and will hopefully have this rig built by this weekend. I live in the western US so normally products from Newegg arrive in a day or two after placing the order (They usually ship from California).
March 12, 2008 1:19:42 PM

by the way, worst OC i've seen with a 2160 and stock HSF and volts is mine... 2.4 on a MSI neo2-FR... admittedly i didn't try and push for more on stock volts, but i couldn't pass 2.7 at stock volts, nor could i pass 2.7 with 1.40V, so...

and yeah, i also find this CPU doen't need to be superclocked to shine... i hit a pretty consistent 40FPS min in Bioshock with 1680x1050, on an OCed HD3870 (810/1125)... pretty much the same as i got at 2.4, i'm sure...

this chip is a beast
March 12, 2008 2:49:24 PM

I shall throw in my 2 bits here...

I think the 9600 is the better bet if only for the increase in mem bus and size. That 512 may not mean much on current games at your native res, but higher rest textures and high AA values really hit the memory subsytem. As games move forward that will only increase.

IMO, get the most memory and fastest bus on the best GPU you can afford. That price diff of $16 or whatever will not translate into direct improvements on all current games but in the long run will pay off as the slower subsystem on the gs will only fall further behind as games become more taxing. (thinking starcraft2 and others here)

As for the mobo, it has been my past experience that Abit is NOT the best enthusiast offering. Asus, Gigabyte and DFI are IMO better bets. I have personally had too many abit mobos fail on me in the past. Personally I only buy Asus for my own use, but have friends with solid offerings from Gigabyte and DFI so I recommend them as well.

I realize "budget" may move you away from them, but look just the same. If you can find a comparable board to that Abit from either of those other 3 companies it would be a no-brainer.


All mentioned here has been good. Your ideas are dead-on for what is needed. Take my advice for what it's worth... another viewpoint.
March 12, 2008 3:54:23 PM

Well, after looking at all those benchmarks, and nearly pulling the trigger on the whole build, my brother-in-law decided that he may want to upgrade his monitor. We are thinking of going with the HP w2007 20-inch monitor @ 1680x1050.

http://www.shopping.hp.com/product/display/display/1/storefronts/RK284AA%2523ABA

It has gotten great reviews as a gaming monitor and can be had for $260 shipped any thoughts?

This of course means that the GPU must be upgraded slightly, so as per the recommendation of many of you, we have decided to go with the 9600GT Specifically the MSI overclocked version with the Heat Pipe cooler.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127333

It is currently the cheapest version on newegg, is factory overclocked, and comes with The Witcher.

sojrner, I think your comments are very valuable, and in fact I am running on two Asus boards at home myself. There is a Gigabyte board with a similar price to the Abit, but not an Asus or DFI. However, when you factor in the current rebate on the Abit there really is no similiar board in its price range. The only negative comment I have heard about the IP35-E is about its j-micron ide controller, which I am still trying to find more information about. I have never used an Abit board personally but it does appear to be very solid. So with my fingers crossed, I think I will order the IP35-E.

Thanks again for your comments
March 12, 2008 4:08:17 PM

rather, spalsh out and get an 8800GT... stronger at that res, and will last longer too
March 12, 2008 4:25:25 PM

I'll see if he'll go for it, I didn't think he had the money for a new monitor, but apparently he has been holding out on me.
March 12, 2008 4:36:54 PM

amd_fanboi said:
rather, spalsh out and get an 8800GT... stronger at that res, and will last longer too


agreed, now with the higher res anything less than an 8800gt becomes suspect on games yet to be released. The 9600 is still solid and will perform well but w/ the higher res the 8800gt will be stronger for longer.

March 12, 2008 5:01:02 PM

As for your CPU OC'ing question. I have a E2140 OC'ed to 2.66 (333*8) at stock volts. I am doing it on a better (more OC friendly) mobo though (Asus P5k-e). As long as the board can do 333 fsb, I have no doubts that a 2160 can if my 2140 can do it no sweat. Oh, and I'm doing it with the stock cooler. I always know that I can get a AF7 if I need to later and want to OC further.
March 12, 2008 5:04:16 PM

Stronger for longer eh.. I think I'll use that statement when I try to up sell him on the 8800GT, although it does sound strikingly similiar to a slogan I once saw on a box of condoms...

...I agree the 8800GT is a much better card, but at this price point this build is turning into a thread on the best gaming PC for the buck, and not what I originally intended. Not that that's a bad thing, as I mentioned previously I have been trying to get my bro-in-law into PC Gaming for a while, and the 8800GT's maybe the thing to do it. Crysis on High is definitely a sight to see, and should be more than doable with an 8800GT @ 1680x1050.

Still, at this point I am trying to keep the cost as low as possible, while sticking to my orginal specifications, albeit at a slightly higher resolution now.

Does attempting to game at max settings with a 9600GT @ 1680x1050 in the previously stated games give anybody any worries? I think it should be fine, but I have not put nearly as much research into it as I did the original configuration. Future proofing with computers is definitely more of an art than a science, AMD and nVidia may release $50 cards in a year or two that wipe the floor with the 8800GT. I know that's a bit of a stretch as an analogy, but look at what the 8800GT did to the orginal GTS's
March 12, 2008 5:12:19 PM

p3matty - do you have any idea what the increase was in FPS in games as you increased the clock from 1.6 to 2.66 (roughly). That's a nice Gigahertz overclock by the way. While nice overclocks do make us computer geeks feel all warm and fuzzy, I'm wondering what the real world gaming performance delta will be. The guy I'm building this for has probably never heard the words "Core 2" before (until now) and would have been happy if I had told him I was throwing in one of those new fangled Pentium 4's :) 
March 12, 2008 5:37:24 PM

Guerreiro29 said:
Stronger for longer eh.. I think I'll use that statement when I try to up sell him on the 8800GT, although it does sound strikingly similiar to a slogan I once saw on a box of condoms...

lol, dunno if any rubber-hat company had it, thought it was my original. :o  You can use it, but I expect a cut of the revenue gained from said usage. ;) 
Guerreiro29 said:
Does attempting to game at max settings with a 9600GT @ 1680x1050 in the previously stated games give anybody any worries? I think it should be fine, but I have not put nearly as much research into it as I did the original configuration. Future proofing with computers is definitely more of an art than a science, AMD and nVidia may release $50 cards in a year or two that wipe the floor with the 8800GT. I know that's a bit of a stretch as an analogy, but look at what the 8800GT did to the orginal GTS's

As I said/implied earlier, the 9600 will be solid and your bro will be pleased. Much better than a 360 so your original plan is not dead with that card... I think you see the benefit of the 8800gt as well but I understand when budget tightens its grip something has to go... have you thought about a 19" wide instead of the 20? At 1440x900 (which is what most 19"-ers run) you are effectively the same res as 1280x1024 which plays right into the hands of the 9600's strengths AND would drop the budget a bit more playing back into your original build idea. Plus the 19" you can get a "higher quality" screen for less money that looks better than a lower-end 20"... again playing into the idea of getting better quality than the 360.

...heck, he could even dual monitor it up w/ his old one and get yet another aspect that the 360 does not do...

just some more thoughts... (like you need more of those, lol)
March 12, 2008 5:54:51 PM

Very good suggestion about the 19" widescreen. I completely skipped over those and immediately jumped up to 1680x1050 when he said he wanted a monitor around 20". Any suggestions on which models to look at? Begin Monitor Research in 3..2..1..
March 12, 2008 6:19:43 PM

Guerreiro29 said:
The target settings are 1280x1024 @ 4x AA and 8x AF with max settings and DirectX 10 textures for those games that support it, (although AA and AF can be toned down to 2x and 4x respectively).
For those requirements, I would go with at least a 9600GT 512MB. If you look at Tom's review of the 9600GT (here and here for example), you will see that on cards with less memory, the impact of AA and AF can be desastrous, even at 1280x1024. I don't know about a 384MB GS specificaly, but still you clearly see the drop isn't linear.

If you want a more detailed comparison, you can check this thread AnandTech's formum, it compares the 384MB 8800GS to the 9600GT and other cards ... exactly what you want. If you look at the graphs, you will even see how it scales at different resolutions. Note that the tests were all made at "maximum quality" (mentioned in the post).

Hope it helps.
March 12, 2008 6:39:29 PM

I think at any resolution above 1280x1024 the 9600GT is without a doubt the correct choice. However, at 1280x1024 the choice becomes a little fuzzier. The 8800GS does pull in a good show though winning 3/9 benchmarks over the 9600GT even at 1600x1200 at max settings. My question is: Is Bioshock really that much more intensive to run than UT3 (I have Bioshock, but not UT3). I was using UT3 benchmarks to justify performance in GoW and Bioshock, but man the UT3 scores are nearly double the Bioshock scores even with both at max setttings. I think in the end it has to come down to how much my bro is willing to spend. There is no question that the 9600GT is better, but quantifying how much better at 1280x1024 becomes a little more difficult.
March 12, 2008 6:52:46 PM

Guerreiro29 said:
Shadow - The IP35-E Currently has a $30 rebate which puts its price quite a bit lower than the P35-DS3L. If they were priced the same I would definitely go for the P35-DS3L as I think it has recieved better overvall reviews. Shadow I see you have an overclocked 2180 at 3.2. Would you mind commenting on your overclocking experience with that chip? Current Voltage @ 3.2, temps at load, maximum stable overclock at stock settings, things of that nature, I would greatly appreciate it.

I appreciate all of the suggestions so far, I am looking to order it all tommorrow so keep 'em coming


Voltages:
Core voltage = 1.46250 (In BIOS) (SpeedFan says it's 1.42)
DDR2= +.2
FSB= +.1

Temps (with OCZ Vanquisher):
Max load (Prime95) = 59-66C
Idle Temps (no SpeedStep,etc) = 28-33C

Max stable (Prime95 for 5hrs) that I got with the stock voltages was 2.52Ghz. The E2180 is a pretty easy chip to OC (like all Core based chips). If you plan on OCing make sure to get a good cooler (got my OCZ for $10 from a friend :D  ). A Arctic Freezer would do well.

Good luck on the build.
March 12, 2008 6:59:13 PM

Guerreiro29 said:
There is no question that the 9600GT is better, but quantifying how much better at 1280x1024 becomes a little more difficult.
My point wasn't that 9600GT was better or not, but that a 8800GS with "only" 384MB of RAM might not even be able to support your desired level of AA and AF. Based on Tom's review, a 256MB video card wouldn't have, but I had no figures specifically for a 384MB 8800GS. I then searched the web a bit more and found this. It seems it scales much better than I expected.
March 12, 2008 7:51:53 PM

Guerreiro29 said:
I think at any resolution above 1280x1024 the 9600GT is without a doubt the correct choice. However, at 1280x1024 the choice becomes a little fuzzier. The 8800GS does pull in a good show though winning 3/9 benchmarks over the 9600GT even at 1600x1200 at max settings. My question is: Is Bioshock really that much more intensive to run than UT3 (I have Bioshock, but not UT3). I was using UT3 benchmarks to justify performance in GoW and Bioshock, but man the UT3 scores are nearly double the Bioshock scores even with both at max setttings. I think in the end it has to come down to how much my bro is willing to spend. There is no question that the 9600GT is better, but quantifying how much better at 1280x1024 becomes a little more difficult.


UT3 has been extensively optimized by epic. It came out after bioshock and GoW and all previous UT games are heavily optimized for their particular 'flavor' of games... mainly online with much texture/architecture repetition in the level to ensure fast 'net times. GoW and Bioshock are sp games with much more "world" diversity. They can be slower b/c it is not as required to be "fast" in rendering like an online fps is... just thoughts as to why the diff.

agree that "how much better" is hard to qualify. IMO, always get the most that you can afford when it comes to ANY comp parts. You will kick yourself later if you find that in a year you have to upgrade b/c you did not spend the extra $20 (or whatever) on a particular part. Example... on this card, if the diff is $30 and the 9600 proves to last 3 years near the top of performance and the 8800 only lasts just over 2 years then that is $30 well spent when considering the upgrade that would be postponed for 6 or 12 months. If there is no difference of course, you are out $30... but spread over the life of the card, is $30 really that much for insurance that more mem may let it last longer?
March 12, 2008 8:38:52 PM

Shadow703793 said:
Nice :) . I would switch the Motherboard to a P35-DS3L though. (Has better OC than the IP35, IMO). Goes for the same price @newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
You didn't include a case so that could throw off the price. If OCing the 2160 make sure you get a good cooler. You probably might not reach 2.7 @ stock voltage though. 2.5Ghz, may be. Get a Arctic Freezer 7.


I have built dozens of systems with the E2160, and haven't seen one yet that wouldn't run at 3ghz. The limiting factor is the MB, and memory, NOT the HSF. I have had tremendous luck with this MB;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Virtually all systems I have built will run @ 3ghz at stock voltage with the stock HSF, and 3.24ghz with the very inexpensive Rosewill RCX-Z775-LX and a slight core voltage tweak.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have used this A-DATA 2GB DDR2 800 memory on all of them.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
March 12, 2008 8:58:35 PM

vtr99 said:
I have built dozens of systems with the E2160, and haven't seen one yet that wouldn't run at 3ghz. The limiting factor is the MB, and memory, NOT the HSF. I have had tremendous luck with this MB;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Virtually all systems I have built will run @ 3ghz at stock voltage with the stock HSF, and 3.24ghz with the very inexpensive Rosewill RCX-Z775-LX and a slight core voltage tweak.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I have used this A-DATA 2GB DDR2 800 memory on all of them.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



I never said the E2160 has trouble getting to 3+Ghz. I said it has trouble getting to 3Ghz+ with stock voltage stable (runs Prime95 for 5+hrs). What temps are you getting? How long dose it run Prime95?


March 12, 2008 9:28:44 PM

Change out the GFX card for a 8800GTS 512MB (G92)....saw them last week for $220 USD.
Your eyes can't tell it from a GTX.

Stock mine gave me just under 12K in 3DMark06 whis was over two times the score of my 7900GT.
March 12, 2008 10:30:30 PM

Great posts from everyone, it has given me a lot to think about, and has both complicated and simplified the decision process ;) .

Three of the five components are set in stone at this point, and the other two are getting close.

Antec Earthwatts 430W $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371006

Crucial Ballistix 2GB DDR2 800 4-4-4-12 $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146565

Intel Pentium E2160 $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116036

I will not be buying an aftermarket cooler for the processor at this time. An aftermarket cooler will definitely help achieve higher overclocks, however given my current goals for the system, and its performance in current games, I do not believe a very high overclock is required to maintain smooth frame rates at the desired settings. An aftermarket cooler (such as an AC7) may be added later to increase performance in future games.

The other two components are the video card and the motherboard.

The video card will almost certainly be a 9600GT and at this point the MSI Overclocked Version $161.57
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127333

sojrner’s “Stronger for Longer” argument does make a lot of sense, although the performance may be very similar between the 9600GT and 8800GS now, it may not be in the future, and the price difference between them is not very large if spread over the life of the card.

I am still leaning towards the Abit IP35-E as the motherboard, as it appears to have the best price/performance with the current rebate. $67.47
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813127031

I think the decision on this board would be made if I could nail down the j-micron ide controller issue. Overall it does seem to be a very solid board, although there do appear to be a few alternatives based on the replies to this thread.

Sojrner – yeah that does make sense that they would optimize UT3 for online play, I just wasn’t expecting there to be a nearly 100% performance difference. Props to Epic for their code optimization, you don’t usually see that much variation between games made with the same engine.
March 12, 2008 10:33:32 PM

Guerreiro29 said:


.... yeah that does make sense that they would optimize UT3 for online play, I just wasn%u2019t expecting there to be a nearly 100% performance difference. Props to Epic for their code optimization, you don%u2019t usually see that much variation between games made with the same engine.


Agreed. The software is way behind the hardware and to run those inefficient code we neeed faster PCs grr........hopefully the cycle will change soon...


Good luck on the build. What case are you using?
March 12, 2008 10:56:53 PM

The honest truth is I don't remember who made the case, a sad statement for any PC Enthusiast. It's from a build I did about 5 or 6 years ago. It's not much to look at, but its easy to work with, and has decent airflow. It has a 120mm exhaust and a 80mm intake which I believe are both coolermaster fans. This system will definitely be more heat than it has seen, but I will monitor it closely
March 13, 2008 12:17:23 AM

darn... never knew Vcore makes such a huge difference... thanks for that, Shadow
March 13, 2008 12:22:23 AM

Shadow703793 said:
I never said the E2160 has trouble getting to 3+Ghz. I said it has trouble getting to 3Ghz+ with stock voltage stable (runs Prime95 for 5+hrs). What temps are you getting? How long dose it run Prime95?

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3285/2311435110_47f1e9aee9_o.gif


Never seen one that wouldn't run at stock voltage stable a 3ghz. The example you show here looks to be running very cool... What type of cooling are you using? With the stock HSF @ 3ghz, I am seeing 57 to 62c under load with Core Temp .96. Running Orthos (Prime95) for anything more than 30 minutes results in a max temp situation. I let them run overnight (at least 8 hours) to make sure they are 100% stable.
March 13, 2008 12:50:27 AM

I hate to be a downer, but if your friend is looking for an XBOX 360 like gaming experience he should probably stick with his XBOX 360. Gaming on a computer is a markedly different experience than gaming on a console.

That being said, if your friend is willing to make the switch to the (superior in my opinion) PC then your planned build will serve him well.

Also, it would be nice if you could update the original post to include the changes that you have made.

Take it easy :) 
March 13, 2008 1:45:39 AM

I agree that the PC is definitely superior, but I also think that the PC can provide an experience similiar enough to the XBOX360 to accomodate any hard core console gamer. The issue at hand actually arose as a way to save my brother-in-law money. As fate would have it the current situation is such that it is now cheaper to build a decent gaming PC than it is to buy a decent XBOX360. And as my brother-in-law needs a new computer anyway, the decision to build a gaming PC saves him several hundred dollars. I also think that through the help of this forum I have put together a powerful enough system that he may indeed make the switch to PC gaming. Maybe I'll give him a G5 for his birthday to help ween him off of his controller.
March 13, 2008 2:28:39 AM

Guerreiro29 said:
lunyone – thanks for the forum links they were very useful, I will comment on them in a minute.

First off, all the specs I have seen show the Antec 430W Earthwatts to have two 12V rails at 17 amps each for a total of 34 amps. I am not doubting you in the slightest, but am now wondering if I have been overlooking some aspect when I calculate the amps available on a rail. I am just curious as to how you came up with 30 amps. I have just been taking the numbers directly from what is printed on the PSU or from the manufactures website. Am I overlooking something?
Link to Antec’s Website
http://www.antec.com/us/productDetails.php?ProdID=27430

YVW. Now onto the PSU question that you had. If you look closely at the PSU sticker on the PSU, it states that the +12v1 and +12v2 have a max load of: 360w, which if you do the math 360w/12V= 30 amps. That is why I stated in my earlier post that the 430w PSU had 30A on the 12V rail(s). The equation is Watts/Voltage=Amps.

Finally, what are you gonig to do with your final build? I'm just curious after all of the possible changes that you have mentioned.
March 13, 2008 3:13:34 PM

Thanks lunyone, so the Antec 430 is able to use up to 17 amps per 12v rail, but can only use 30 amps combined between the two. Effectively limiting the rails to 17 amps and 13 amps, or two 15 amp rails if they are evenly loaded.

The final build is:

Antec 430W Earthwatts $49.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371006

Crucial Ballistix 2GB DDR2-800 $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146565

Intel Pentium E2160 $69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116036

MSI 9600GT Quad Pipe OC $161.57
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814127333

Abit IP35-E P35 $67.47
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813127031

For a Grand Total of $374.55 Shipped

I will leave everything at stock, and evaluate its peformance in the games my brother-in-law wants to play. If the peformance is lacking (which I don't think it will be, or atleast not by much) I will slowly crank up the FSB on the E2160 until the performance in games is where we want it to be.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to this thread, you comments were very useful, and gave me good arguments to use while I debated the pros and cons and of course the price with my bro. I think the combination above represents the best price/performance/longevity of any combination I could put together, and he will be really pleased with it. Unfortunately I was not able to place the order in time to have it delivered by Friday, which means that I will have to wait until next weekend (My brother-in-law lives a couple of hours away, and I can't go down until the weekend). I will be sure to post how my experience goes for those interested.
March 13, 2008 3:29:46 PM

Just so you know, you can get 4GB of Kingston RAM + a XFX 9600 GT for about 210$ (about 20$ more thant what your setup) on NewEgg (combo rebate). Just a suggestion, I don't know what you planned for this system in the future.
March 13, 2008 3:55:44 PM

That E2160 could prove to be a bottleneck as time goes on unless you give it a slight overclock. 9x266 would be a reasonable compromise between heat/power consumption and speed.
March 13, 2008 4:27:09 PM

will you use xp or vista?
March 13, 2008 4:44:01 PM

The EA series are single rail, they lie on the sticker. The EA-430 is very similar to the EA-500.

JonnyGURU.com Reviews - Antec EarthWatts EA-500 500W

Quote:
The Antec EarthWatts does NOT have multiple +12V rails. It only has one +12V rail with no limiters on any of the connectors.
March 13, 2008 5:03:38 PM

Man, the prices on New Egg change almost by the second, that's a good find on the XFX and Kinston Combo, and I'll definitely condsider it. At any rate the XFX 9600 is now cheaper than the MSI, so even without the combo, I'll probably go with it. I won't be building this till next weekend now, as I missed my deadline to have it here by Friday, so I'll watch the prices closely

The build will use Vista, but 32-bit Vista. The extra ram would still help, even though I won't have full access to all of it.

Interesting about it only having a single 12V rail. I guess they just list it that way for marketing purposes? (Those dirty liers) One of the reasons I chose the Antec was because it had more amps at 12V than any other PSU in its price range. It think it is still a very solid unit, and probably the best choice for the price, but are there any other units at the same price point I should consider?
March 13, 2008 6:52:22 PM

Not at that price, for a few dollars more you could get a Corsair VX-450. It's also a Seasonic built single rail. Single rail is better, especially at the lower wattages.
March 13, 2008 8:16:16 PM

Zorg said:
The EA series are single rail, they lie on the sticker. The EA-430 is very similar to the EA-500.

JonnyGURU.com Reviews - Antec EarthWatts EA-500 500W

Quote:
The Antec EarthWatts does NOT have multiple +12V rails. It only has one +12V rail with no limiters on any of the connectors.

Nice catch. As always Zorg knows best when it comes to PSUs.
March 13, 2008 8:17:33 PM

Zorg said:
Not at that price, for a few dollars more you could get a Corsair VX-450. It's also a Seasonic built single rail. Single rail is better, especially at the lower wattages.

Agreed. PP&C and Corsair gets my vote for good PSUs.
March 13, 2008 8:29:09 PM

I agree with Zorg. Actually, I don't think I have ever disagreed with Zorg. Maybe it's because of the pretty bold links. :D 

Or the fact that he know a great deal about power supplies...
!