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New gaming/work PC for cheap (~$6-800) - Win a Prize!

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March 27, 2008 12:50:36 AM

Hi all. This is my first post and it is a doozy.

I have an old computer that I sort of built myself (I did everything but connect the case wires to my mobo) and it was midrange at best when it was new. So, I find myself looking to build a PC for gaming as well as a schoolwork machine (grad school possibly). That having been said, my PC budget will consist of whatever I can scrimp by cutting back to instant noodles, etc. I'm not figuring on being able to spend more than about $6-800 unless I can borrow some money from my folks. Any help will be appreciated, and you will be eligible for a prize. (more at the end of post)

Criteria/Details

Case:
Case that is easy to assemble in, decent quality. If anyone knows of one where all the case connectors are bundled (the individual, confusingly labelled connectors of my Super LanBoy still make me fear for my build), please tell me. Front/convenient USB ports would be lovely.

Power supply:
I love modular power supplies, but it's not a necessity. If someone could give me a reasonable guesstimate as to how much power I'd need, it would be much appreciated.

CPU:
I'm indifferent to brands, but Intel seems to be the favorite amongst people, and I figure I could give a Hackintosh type setup a try. I don't overclock (I don't like to gamble with my technology), so I don't expect to need an aftermarket cooling solution

Motherboard:
Integrated audio is a must (unless someone can provide a compelling reason to use an add-in card), and plenty of SATA connectors. I'm only going to be able to afford to run one video card, so I don't need SLI/Crossfire. I wouldn't be opposed to something with SLI support though.

Memory: DDR2 800 seems to be the favorite. 2 or 4 gigs? Anything else to consider?

Video Card: I've heard good things about the 8800GT but it seems that it would be the most expensive part of the build. Is there a cheaper but comparable part? I'm not a FPS maniac (I don't need Crisis at 1900x1200 or anything), but I'd like to have solid gaming performance. My monitor will be reused and is 17" and capable of 1280x1024.

Optical Drive: Is it worth splurging for a brand name DVD burner? Blu-ray?

Hard Drives: I'm not doing video editing or anything where I need Raptor like speeds. I have ~50 gigs of music (yay for my radio station job), and probably another 100 of films (I worked with our school production lab). How much could I expect to spend on a SATA drive of at least 300 usable space? Is it worth making a RAID array for extra data backup? I don't want to lose my music/schoolwork/pron collection ;-)

Other:

-Dual/multiple boot: I own spare licenses of XP SP2, Vista Home Premium. I'm not sure which I'd use. I'd also like to possibly try out Linux (I've heard good things about Ubuntu) as well as maybe OS X.

-Reuse keyboard/mouse/speakers/monitor (as noted before)

-To be built roughly 1 piece or $100 at a time. Starting with the less fluctuating parts like case, power supply, etc.

-Hope to complete construction sometime in May or early June.

The Prize

Yes that's right. I'm offering a prize. I don't have money to offer but I have the chance at fame. The winning contributor (to be decided by me) will be immortalized in the name of my new computer, joining the family of Homer, Wolfgang and Jimmy.
March 27, 2008 1:25:20 AM

First, you should not be worried about overclocking, as long as you're being practical and take small steps the performance gain is very worthwhile. With your budget you should look at one of the Intel E21XX cpu's and OC it to around 3gig. You can pay for that speed but probably not on your budget. Most of the builds I do are for people just like you who want the most bang for there buck and the one I'm getting ready to do for myself will be the same. I'll post my wishlist from newgg, this is by not means what you should get, just shows what can be done with this budget. You will not see a power supply because I've already got this one;
http://www.buy.com/prod/Corsair-VX-550W-Power-Supply/q/...
It's not modular, but again, that can be taken care of later if you feel the need to, one of the best PSU's for the money. Here's my list;
https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Wishlist/MySavedWi...
This list is not set in stone and I will purchase items elsewhere if I find a better price, this just gives you a place to start . As an example, I want the board with built in wifi, I know a wireless card is not that expensive, but I have other reasons too, but you may not need that so you could look at a cheaper MB.









March 27, 2008 2:20:15 AM

Chuckm,

I can't see your list, NewEgg is telling me to change my registration.
Related resources
March 27, 2008 10:00:27 AM

Regarding the case, I have a few cases to recommend, since I have done quite some research (I, like you, am trying to build a budget gaming computer).

There is the budget case, the Cooler Master Centurion 5. It comes with a power supply (the amount of power depends on the seller). It is currently very cheap, and cooler master is quite a reputable brand.

There is also the Antec Sonata II & III, which both come with Antec power supplies, 450W for the Sonata II and 500W for the Sonata III. The cases are above average, however, it is the power supplies that make them extremely good deals. Also, I would like to point out that Antec is a trusted brand in producing power supplies.

Lastly, there the NZXT Apollo. This does not come with a power supply. However it isn't too expensive either, and looks good too (something like alienware computers). This case has received generally positive reviews, and I myself chose it in my build. It is also featured in the Tom's Hardware Low Cost System: http://www.tomshardware.com/2008/03/24/system_builder_m...

In the end the decision is up to you. The cases I state above all come from reputable manufacturers, and have good value for money. A piece of advice I'd like to give is that you really get what you pay for, so think carefully.
March 27, 2008 4:20:44 PM

Mishra, do you know if that front fan is an intake or exhaust fan?
March 27, 2008 7:43:56 PM

Usually, a front fan is an intake. Did you get my list to come up?
March 27, 2008 11:00:41 PM

Yeah thanks Chuck.
March 28, 2008 5:18:19 AM

I'm looking at picking up an Antec P180 (or cheapest variation thereof). Does anyone have experience with this case?
I liked the bundled case-wires for USB and the LEDs and such.

How much power should I buy to match with this? I'm thinking I need at least 500W and would like to have room for at least one more hard drive. (And maybe a Blu-Ray drive when prices drop).

I will probably buy the case and maybe the PSU this weekend since the designs/prices don't seem to change all that rapidly.

Thoughts?
March 28, 2008 6:35:46 AM

If you're looking at the P180 and are buying the case this weekend, consider the P182 which is essentially the same thing as the P180 but in gunmetal and with better cable management. Microcenter has it on sale for $69.99 (after $35 rebate) which is the cheapest you'll find it at right now. You have to purchase it by the 30th of this month, so if you're ordering this weekend, this is right on time: http://microcenter.com/single_product_results.phtml?pro...

As for the PSU, with a single video card I would go for the Corsair 550VX chuckm posted earlier, or the 520HX if you really want modular: http://www.buy.com/prod/corsair-520w-sli-certified-modu...
I'm not too familiar with the power needs of a blu-ray drive, but can't imagine it being as significant an amount as the GPU or CPU. Perhaps someone that has one can comment more...

Video card... if you're not going to be playing anything too demanding at 1280x1024 and want to shave off some cost, you could step down to a 9600GT(~$150) or a 8800GS(~$120). You can see some FPS results with some of the newer games here: http://www.neowin.net/news/main/08/01/14/nvidia-geforce...

Optical drive... if you just want a DVD burner, one of the $25-30 drives on newegg should be fine. I've had a good experience with Samsung drives myself. Not familiar with blu-ray drives so you'll need to hear from someone else about those.

Here's a nice 320GB SATA2 HDD for $80: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB
If you throw in another $20 you can get the 500GB version, and $10 more after that you can get the faster 500GB 7200.11.

The system I'm trying to build right now is similar to your budget (aiming for $600-700). Here's what I'm aiming for right now: https://secure.newegg.com/NewVersion/Wishlist/PublicWis... The parts are listed on newegg for convenience purposes, but my final price will actually be lower since a lot of the parts I'm buying elsewhere for cheaper.
March 28, 2008 6:40:16 AM

This is what i would build if i was in your budget. If you can rack up $800 then i would
A: upgrade the processor to an e6550
B: upgrade the video card to an 8800GT

Newegg.com - Computers, Computer Parts and Electronics

Shopping Cart

Qty. Product Description Savings Total Price
1

SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black PATA Model SH-S202N

SAMSUNG 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black PATA Model SH-S202N - OEM
Item #: N82E16827151155
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy




$26.99

1

COOLER MASTER Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP Black SECC / ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

COOLER MASTER Centurion 590 RC-590-KKN1-GP Black SECC / ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Item #: N82E16811119152
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy




$69.99

1

HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725050GLA360 (0A35415) 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

HITACHI Deskstar P7K500 HDP725050GLA360 (0A35415) 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Item #: N82E16822145215
Return Policy: Limited 30-Day Return Policy

-$15.00 Instant



$109.99
$94.99

1

ECS N9600GT-512MX-P GeForce 9600GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card

ECS N9600GT-512MX-P GeForce 9600GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail
Item #: N82E16814134040
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$25.00 Instant



$174.99
$149.99

1

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX ATX12V V2.2 450W Power Supply

CORSAIR CMPSU-450VX ATX12V V2.2 450W Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16817139003
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$10.00 Instant
$10.00 Mail-in Rebate


$79.99
$69.99

1

Patriot Viper 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PVS24G6400LLK

Patriot Viper 4GB(2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PVS24G6400LLK - Retail
Item #: N82E16820220293
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy


$10.00 Mail-in Rebate


$94.99

1

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard

GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS3L LGA 775 Intel P35 ATX All Solid Capacitor Intel Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813128059
Return Policy: Limited 30-Day Return Policy

-$10.00 Instant



$99.99
$89.99

1

Intel Pentium E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2180

Intel Pentium E2180 Allendale 2.0GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80557E2180 - Retail
Item #: N82E16819116052
Return Policy: Processors (CPUs) Return Policy




$79.99

1

Tuniq Tower 120 P4 & K8 CPU Cooler

Tuniq Tower 120 P4 & K8 CPU Cooler - Retail
Item #: N82E16835154001
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$49.99

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March 28, 2008 10:07:28 AM

silkmonkey said:
Mishra, do you know if that front fan is an intake or exhaust fan?


Don't know! Sorry man. I'm getting my case today though.
March 28, 2008 12:38:00 PM

PSU: I agree with above.

CPU: E2160 or E2180. No matter your fear of OCing, these will go to 2.8GHz with less than 4 BIOS changes and stock CPU Fan and Heatsink. You absolutely can't beat the value of these chips if you plan to OC.

MB: That Gigabyte board is awesome for the price. I love mine. GA-P35-DS3L version 2.0.

GPU: eVGA 8800GT 512MB. If you buy this last it could be around $180 by mid May.

All the other stuff you can piece together with what ever floats your boat.

Remember to buy your chip "Retail" not OEM. Retail versions come with the heatsink and fan. You will not need an after market one.
March 28, 2008 4:16:00 PM

Thanks for the hint Oushi, I might have to place an order later this afternoon.
March 29, 2008 5:51:09 AM

I was looking at the P182 on the Microcenter website and noticed that it says the item would be shipped in 7-21 days. They must be low on stock or something with people jumping on the low price for the case. Even if shipping takes a while the rebate shouldn't be a problem as long as you keep on top of things and get it sent out soon after receiving the case, but just wanted to give you a head's up. If you have a Microcenter near you and can get it locally or order and do a pick-up, even better.
March 29, 2008 8:31:36 AM

P182 @ $69.99 is an unbeatable price. I would buy that now and wait for it to be delivered before you go out shopping!
March 29, 2008 11:33:49 AM

Scrap the cooler in lx_flier's build. Since it will be for schoolwork, consider other things you might want, like a cheap fax modem, maybe even a floppy drive.
Especially if you'll be in a dorm, get a surge protector or UPS, especially since the idiots next door like to fry everything and will pop the circuit breaker from time to time.
March 29, 2008 4:37:27 PM

I don't have a Microcenter within ~12 hours from me. My school is all ethernet wired, and I haven't used a floppy drive in years. I also already have a wide selection of surge protectors.
March 30, 2008 2:31:17 AM

Anyone know anything about Antec NeoPower 500W PSUs? I saw one at Frys and it looked good.

I ordered the P182 just now, so I think I need a PSU with longer than normal cables. Suggestions?
March 30, 2008 3:33:34 AM

Yeah, just my dad loves PC Power and Cooling and suggested splurging. Is it in any way a bad choice besides the price?
March 30, 2008 3:43:49 AM

Okay so I found a review that says that it won't fit in the P182.
March 30, 2008 4:45:25 AM

Anyone on here use a Corsair HX620?
March 30, 2008 5:00:14 AM

I saw a newegg review that also said the PC P&C 750W wouldn't fit, but I also saw a few pictures of P182's in which it fit and more posts of people agreeing:
http://www.hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1031419670&post...
http://www.hardforum.com/showpost.php?p=1031761908&post... (it's a P180, but essentially the same as P182)
The biggest issue I've read about is that the Silencer PSU's are a little longer than usual so it's a tight fit next to the lower fan (as seen in the pictures). That might be what the newegg reviewers were complaining about, but it seems to be bearable to work with. I saw far more people saying it would fit fine and would probably get it myself if I really wanted a Silencer, but caveat emptor.

Since your system won't be too power hungry, you could save some money by getting the 610W of the PC P&C Silencer. According to this review and a review I saw on newegg, it should fit fine into the P182: http://www.fpslabs.com/reviews/psu/pc-power-cooling-610...
March 30, 2008 7:43:54 AM

I think I might hold off on the video until April/May so prices can come down on new stuff. :-D

Also, I get to minimize the beating my wallet takes at any one time.
March 30, 2008 12:53:59 PM

silkmonkey said:
Anyone on here use a Corsair HX620?
I own the 520HX and I just love it! It was my first modular PSU and I think I will never be able to go back to "big bundle of wires". It cleaned-up so much clutter in my casing with modular cabling.
March 30, 2008 1:17:41 PM

Thins the OP mentioned "plenty of SATA" and perhaps RAID (if not for now, might convert this build into a nice NAS as a retirement :p ), I would suggest the (E)P35-DS3R over the P32-DS3L; it's basically the same thing but with 8 SATA instead of 4 and RAID support for 30$ more.
March 30, 2008 1:21:29 PM

Dunkel said:
GPU: eVGA 8800GT 512MB. If you buy this last it could be around $180 by mid May.
If he wants to go the 8800GT way, I would suggest the MSI 8800GT for its dual-slot cooler and the fact that it is already 180$, so it might get even cheaper.
March 30, 2008 3:06:38 PM

My recommendations:
E2180 OCed to 3.1+Ghz
500+GB 7200.11 HDD (almost as fast as a Raptor, if running a Mac OS, get another spare drive, possibly 120GB or so)
P35-DS3x or P35-P5K-x (both are durable, and very good for OCing)
Xigmatek HDT-S1283 (#1 at Frostytech, and <$40)
Corsair 450VX/550VX/520HX or PP&C 610
9600/8800GT (might have problems when running Mac OS)
Any DVD RW and Case you like/fit your budget.

For Mac OS on PC checkout:
http://lifehacker.com/348653/install-os-x-on-your-hacki...



March 30, 2008 4:53:48 PM

No winners yet amdfangirl. I might have to make an amalagation of people's names because so many people have been helpful. :-)
March 31, 2008 10:51:48 AM

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L : $86.67

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] -_-NA-_-NA

CPU: Intel E8400: ~200

RAM: 2gb ddr2 800 crucial ballastix : $29

http://www.buy.com/prod/crucial-ba [...] 41818.html

GPU: 8800gt 512mb: $202.26

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6814134035

Hard Drive: 500GB Seagate SATA : $110

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822148288

Cooler: Xigmatek HDT-S1283: $36.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

PSU: Corsair 550vx : $65

http://www.buy.com/prod/Corsair-VX [...] 52646.html

Total $728
March 31, 2008 4:41:52 PM

That Gigabyte seems to be a popular board based on the messages I've gotten. I'm gonna check out the benchmarks.

Now that I have a case on order, should the next piece be the power supply or something else? If other, what?
March 31, 2008 10:43:01 PM

Yes. Probably the PSU. Get the RAM+ Motherboard + CPU all at the same time.
March 31, 2008 11:20:20 PM

So would this order make sense?

Case (done)
PSU
Optical Drive + Card Reader
Hard Drive
RAM
Mobo+CPU
Video card
March 31, 2008 11:28:58 PM

deeznutz :pt1cable: 
April 1, 2008 1:06:32 PM

silkmonkey said:
So would this order make sense?

Case (done)
PSU
Optical Drive + Card Reader
Hard Drive
RAM+Mobo+CPU+Video card

That makes sense
April 1, 2008 5:48:07 PM

if your to get the PS P&C get the 750 crossfire edition it has the plugs for new GPU's dont matter now but would be nice to not need to replace when you build again, or if you want to save a few dollars go with the 610w version if you would like to see other listing here is fairly recent listing
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/showthread.php?t=10...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


April 1, 2008 6:51:22 PM

silkmonkey said:
Anyone know anything about Antec NeoPower 500W PSUs? I saw one at Frys and it looked good.

I ordered the P182 just now, so I think I need a PSU with longer than normal cables. Suggestions?


If you've got a Fry's near you, and you're going for a budget build, look no further than one of their ECS/Q6600 bundles for about $266. Or ECS/E6550 for like $150. You aren't going to overclock (neither do I, I need reliability more than rock bottom pricing as my gear is my livelihood) so the ECS stuff is fine. I use them all the time in builds for friends and family and have found they are pretty reliable and offer the stuff I need and nothing more.

Get one video card, don't deal with SLI. I read that these 9800GTXs are going for $300. Is that true? That would be a good deal. 9600GTs at $165 are also supposedly good.

500-600W is a good range for this type of machine. try to get a PSU that has two PCI-E connectors. I bought an antec trio 650 from the egg for $69.99 last summer. That would work for you. Fry's recently had the 550W version for $60 no rebates.

I would spring the extra $5-10 for a SATA optical if you have enough SATA ports just for the easier wiring and resulting better airflow. Tom's seems to like the Sony one.

Fry's also seems to have weekly specials for 4GB of DDR2-800 for about $50 (or less). That's plenty fast.
April 1, 2008 6:54:10 PM

Case: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($50, yes I recommend this one a lot)(can use up to 5 120mm fans)
PSU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($94, worth it)
MB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($155, expensive compatible with DDR2 and DDR3)
(The GA-P35-DS3L would also work for ~$90)
CPU: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($120)
RAM: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($39, 2Gb should do well for now)
HDD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($90, 500Gb very tough drive)
DVD: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($26, 20x DVD-R)
VID: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
($165, GF 9600GT)

Total: $739 + S&H (not counting MIR's, or special sales)($65 less with the DS3L)
April 2, 2008 3:47:27 AM

I ordered the HX620. $107 after rebate...not bad I guess. Buy.com if you're interested.

General system building question: do you put in the PSU before the mobo? Does it matter?
April 2, 2008 5:28:01 AM

Thanks for the tip on bundles Bliq. I'll see whats available in a month or so.

What is up with DDR2 1066? Is it worth it? Do most boards support it?
April 2, 2008 8:12:21 PM

^ No DDR2 1060 is just factory OCed DDR2 800 RAM. For some reason P35-DS3x boards seems to have a problem with RAM natively clocked beyond 800Mhz, but not when you OC DDR2 800 RAM to the same level. Weird I know.
April 3, 2008 1:52:03 AM

Okay cool, thanks shadow.
April 4, 2008 6:53:27 PM

Quote:
:sarcastic:  okay.......


dozenuts :pt1cable: 
April 4, 2008 7:42:05 PM

Alot of $80 & ^ Asus motherboards have a thing called Asus Q-connector. You plug all the clearly labled case wires into this clearly labled adapter and then the adapter snaps onto the motherboard. One of the many reasons I like Asus.
!