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Best performance-for-money PC to last several years

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March 30, 2008 9:30:05 AM

Hey guys,

I'm wanting to build the best-performance-for-money computer I can get, and I want it to last for several years and be nice and stable and reliable.

I'll be using it for general use and casual gaming, but since I plan on owning it for years, I want it to run current sort of games well, such as TF2.

At the moment, I'm thinking of getting:
-Intel E8400
-GeForce 8800GT 512MB (should I go 1024MB?)
-2GB (2x1GB) DDR2 800MHz RAM, not sure which brand (or should I get 4GB?)

I am going to keep my current old HDD, disk drives, monitor, mouse, keyboard, game controller, etc.; I'm just getting a new computer itself.

I need advice regarding which motherboard, RAM and PSU I should get. I don't plan on using SLI at the moment, but having it available in the future might be useful if I want to squeeze some extra life-time out of the system. I'm not sure if should bother getting a PCIe 2.0 motherboard. If I want SLI, does that mean I have to get nForce? Are the Intel or nForce chipsets better in areas such as stability, value, and performance? And if I get nForce, which chipset should I get? What are the differences between the 680i LT and non-LT versions? (I looked them up on the site, but it's just full of stupid jargon.)

If I get a graphics card that is "PCIe 2.0", will I actually need a motherboard that supports PCIe 2.0, or will it work fine with PCIe 1.0/1.1?

I also plan on buying a new case, since my current one is a bit cramped and I think it only supports up to micro-ATX form factor, and I will of course be buying regular ATX.

I am willing to overclock if it's going to increase the performance-for-money ratio and isn't too complicated or risky.
March 30, 2008 10:10:33 AM

for gpu 1024 is just a marketing scam, search for 512, or if you playing in <1600 resolution people seems fond of getting 8800GS with good reason.
March 30, 2008 1:59:14 PM

Def. get 4 gig of ram. 3-3.5 will be used in 32-bit os. That will give your games/apps a little boost.

GA-P35-DS3L or DS3R with RAID, P5K-E or with WIFI, IP35-E are some of the best bang overclockers.

If you prefer nvidia chipsets, don't settle for anything less than 780i. 790i does only overpriced ddr3. 680i doesn't do Yorkdales.

PCI-E 2.0 cards are backward compatible.
Related resources
March 30, 2008 2:47:01 PM

I would seriously consider the Q6600 over the E8400.

Extra Cores will become more and more used in a short time.
The Q6600 should see a nice price drop around April 20th.
March 31, 2008 7:52:24 AM

I'm still not sure about the quad-core stuff, but I'll consider it. Why is a price drop occurring around April 20?
March 31, 2008 8:59:32 AM

zenmaster said:
I would seriously consider the Q6600 over the E8400.

Extra Cores will become more and more used in a short time.
The Q6600 should see a nice price drop around April 20th.
Agreed, if you are going to keep it for a while the Q6600 is the way to go. Skip the SLI and get a P35 mobo and you will get a trouble free OC to 3G/1333 that, with a nice cooler, will last for years no problem.
March 31, 2008 9:34:42 AM

Ok, I'll wait 'til the Q6600 drops in price and give it a shot. Are you sure skipping the SLI is a good idea?

Could I please have some recommendations for coolers and motherboards?

I'm currently considering either Crucial Ballastix 4GB DDR2 800MHz 4-4-4-12 RAM for AU$200 or Patriot 4GB (exact same specs) for $130, but I'm not sure which to go with, since I could be paying for better reliability with the Crucial memory.

EDIT:
What's the difference between the Q6600 G0 and B3?
March 31, 2008 11:17:41 AM

It's your money. It's up to you what you buy.

P35 is much cheaper than 780i and overclocks better. If you get 2 cards right way, then yes, SLI is the way. I see it over and over that the buyer rarely added a 2nd card as they were either outdated or discontinued. The result is an overpriced 780i board + 1 whimpy GPU. What's the point in that? Unbalanced.

Patriot isn't guaranteed good o/c ram. Go with Ballistix. If you want other brands, they're more expensive with the same chips. Like G.SKILL HZ, Firestix, etc.

G0 takes more heat than B3. G0 is better for overclocking.
March 31, 2008 11:24:04 AM

Ok, I'll give SLI a miss. If I get:
-Intel Q6600
-GeForce 8800GT 512MB
-4GB DDR2 800MHz RAM

What sort of PSU will I need? I'm thinking about getting an Antec Earthwatts or NeoPower one. But what sort of power rating should I get? 430W? I'll just be using an additional PCI card (Sound Blaster), CD Burner, a DVD Burner/CD burner combo drive and one HDD.

I'm thinking about getting Cooler Master Hyper TX 2 HSF, and an Antec P182 case. Any opinions/recommendations regarding these?
March 31, 2008 12:38:10 PM

Q6600 GO - Because GO are the selected wafers over the B3 out of that particular batch. They can handle more current and overclock to higher freq.

4g of DDR2 high density D9 ram preferably 1066. Get the aftermarket ram 3 fan cooler from Corsair, it will work with any ram. - Because high density ram overclocks easy and will last a lot longer. D9 Ram are the selected wafers out of that particular batch.

750quad PC Power&Cooling PSU - Make sure you have at least 60amps on the 12v rail. - Because this power supply will power anything in SLI and their customer service is awesome.

EVGA 680i mobo - Because they overclock easy, drivers are polished and are user friendly.

8800GTX - Because if you are running high resolutions 768mb of memory will serve you no problem and 384 bit is nice as well. The drivers are polished for every game and this card is cheap now. I would wait for Nvidia to wake up and buy the next gen GPU's because Nvidia is just riding the surf on their (G92) platform. Listen, you could SLI 512's and spend close to $500 and will not see much of a difference in performance over a single GTX - why spend more money when both scenarios will get the job done with every game out there except Crysis? Buy cheap now and upgrade when the next gen comes out.

Cooler Master Cosmos - Because the fan setup can all be upgraded to 140mm and there is enough space to work.

Wait on bluray.. they just hacked it to pieces - the prices will fall shortly..

This whole system will cost you around $700 and can play Crysis @ 30-40fps which is as competitive as it gets. Or you can spend $3500 on a QX9770 / 790i / DDR3 2000 RAM / 9800GTX/ULTRA / 750Quad PSU / Cosmos and get 40-50avg FPS in Crysis (That's to say they have the drivers ready) and get bent over the railing by Dr.Nvidia and Mr.Intel without any lube.

Good luck,

Blackwater11
March 31, 2008 1:10:15 PM

Oh yes.. I would be doing you a disservice by not stating that in my opinion your hard drive is one of the most important components of a good system. Get a 10,000 rpm raptor drive you will not regret it. My OS boots fast... very fast.

Unfortunately Crucial doesn't make high density DDR2 ram anymore as of last month so be careful with that situation. I have 2g of Crucial PC2-8500 1066 ballistix as Akhilles recommended, but they are D9's and not their new garbage. Their DDR3 ram is top notch.

You don't have to wait for the Q6600 to drop in price... It has already dropped in price so low they are practically begging you to buy em.

Blackwater11
March 31, 2008 1:25:49 PM

Here is what I'd do:
CPU - q6600 as you stated.
Mobo - Gigabyte DS3R (has about everything you'll need)
RAM - I'd get at least 2x1 gb's of Crucial Ballistix for under $30 right now (CAS 4 DDR2 800 mHz), or even get 2x2 gb's for around $100.
GPU - 8800gts (g92) at the minimum or get a 3870x2 for better performance. I believe the 3870x2 around $400 will last longer than the 8800gts (g92) and isn't over priced like the 9800gx2.
PSU - I'd go with at least the Corsair vx550w PSU. It has 41A on the 12V rail (which is more than enough for any GPU out there) and is going for $65 after $20 MIR. It also has a 5 yr. warranty, which is really good.

That is pretty much what I'd do. It'll give you plenty of stability and should last you quite some time, for the $ spent (especially if you get the 3870x2 for your gaming needs).
March 31, 2008 2:08:48 PM

lunyone said:
Here is what I'd do:
CPU - q6600 as you stated.
Mobo - Gigabyte DS3R (has about everything you'll need)
RAM - I'd get at least 2x1 gb's of Crucial Ballistix for under $30 right now (CAS 4 DDR2 800 mHz), or even get 2x2 gb's for around $100.
GPU - 8800gts (g92) at the minimum or get a 3870x2 for better performance. I believe the 3870x2 around $400 will last longer than the 8800gts (g92) and isn't over priced like the 9800gx2.
PSU - I'd go with at least the Corsair vx550w PSU. It has 41A on the 12V rail (which is more than enough for any GPU out there) and is going for $65 after $20 MIR. It also has a 5 yr. warranty, which is really good.

That is pretty much what I'd do. It'll give you plenty of stability and should last you quite some time, for the $ spent (especially if you get the 3870x2 for your gaming needs).


Totally agreed.

Maybe get a 620HX PSU, it's a good match for the P182 because it's modular and has long cables.

Add a Tuniq Tower or Xigmatek HDT-S1283.

I think 4GB is a smart idea, because programs will keep getting bigger over the years. Also, DDR2 is really cheap now.
March 31, 2008 3:03:16 PM

xp sp3 its enough, you can rev. the graphic all the way up to max.
March 31, 2008 4:04:58 PM

Note: Prices are Dropping around April 20th because Intel is dropping their official Tray Price to $224 from $266.

The E8xxx Series will not be seing a price drop at that time from Intel.
The result will be that the price difference should shrink quite a bit around that time.

The other thing to keep in mind in regards to Quads vs Duals.
The Quad will not OC quite as high, but the final speed difference may only be about 10% which is not great and will likely not yield a very noticable difference in programs that onyl support two cores.

However, when you do have a program that can use four cores, the performance difference can be significant.
March 31, 2008 7:31:52 PM

What a second everyone. He said he wants this build to last severaly years. Shouldnt he go the amd route? LGA 775 is going to be dead by the beggining of next year. AM2+ will be around for a while.
March 31, 2008 8:06:44 PM

I think he meant several years without throwing money at it. A Q6600 will last him several years with no upgrades. Who cares when they are changing the socket.
March 31, 2008 8:13:49 PM

O I thought he wanted to upgrade it throughout its years.
sorry :( 
A q6600 would be good then
March 31, 2008 8:20:32 PM

Zorg said:
I think he meant several years without throwing money at it. A Q6600 will last him several years with no upgrades. Who cares when they are changing the socket.


I hope he meant that. That's what I'm doing too. I'll change my Q6600 for a 16-core 5 GHz $300 toy some time in 2011 :) 
March 31, 2008 8:56:21 PM

SuicideSilence said:
What a second everyone. He said he wants this build to last severaly years. Shouldnt he go the amd route? LGA 775 is going to be dead by the beggining of next year. AM2+ will be around for a while.


Also AM2+ being around for a while is not very relevent.

All that means is that in 2-3 years he could upgrade to a PC as fast as others have today.

And there is no way of knowing if the new CPUs will work in the old mobos.

Just like many AM2 boards can't handle Phenom's even though in theory they could.

There is just no financial incentive for Mobo Companies to add support for new processors on very old boards. This costs them sales of new mobos.
March 31, 2008 9:28:02 PM

Regarding PSUs, I have a
Gigabyte P35 DS3L
E2160@2.7GHz
8800GT (EVGA SC)
2GB
Antec Earthwatts 380

What you're talking about won't eat (much) more power, so a low wattage *good* psu should suffice, and then some.

500W would be *plenty*.
March 31, 2008 10:34:19 PM

aevm said:
I hope he meant that. That's what I'm doing too. I'll change my Q6600 for a 16-core 5 GHz $300 toy some time in 2011 :) 
Same here, 4 cores @ 3G is enough for me.
zenmaster said:
All that means is that in 2-3 years he could upgrade to a PC as fast as others have today.
:lol:  Truth.

April 1, 2008 12:36:34 AM

cisco said:
Not as fast but would be a nice SLI setup at an insanely cheap price
8800GTS 320mb for 114.00 a piece after rebate.

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

that is the OLD technology. It'll consume way too much power. I wouldn't suggest getting older technology GPU's.
April 1, 2008 6:10:16 AM

Ok, here's what I'm considering at the moment:
-Antec NeoPower 500W (Am I really going to need any more than 500W?)
-Non-SLI motherboard (still need to decide)
-GeForce 8800GT 512MB
-Intel Q6600 G0 (after price drop)
-4GB 800MHz DDR2 RAM (still not sure which brand)
-Antec P182
-Cooler Master Hyper TX 2

I'm indeed not planning on spending much (if any) extra money on the computer in the future.

I'll try to work out the motherboard today. I'm still really not sure about the RAM. Keeping in mind that I'm after high value-for-money, is it worth paying about 50% more for Crucial over Patriot RAM? What other brands should I consider? Should I not consider Crucial anymore since Blackwater11 has implied that the new stuff isn't much good anymore?

EDIT:
It seems that all replies so far have indicated that the Intel P35 chipset is the way to go, so I'll take a good look at the motherboards that use this chipset. Are there any other chipsets I should be considering?

EDIT2:
The P35 motherboards appear to be a bit limited in the PATA area; I have one PATA HDD and two PATA CD drives. It seems that most P35 have only 1 PATA thing on the board, if any, so won't that mean that I can only use two devices? Or am I just mistaken?

EDIT3:
What do you guys think of the 680i LT chipset? That one is actually more within my price range, but how does it compare to the P35 ones being suggested, which are apparently good for overclocking?
April 1, 2008 11:48:38 AM

The 8800gt512 power req. is 400W 20A or more. 500W will be plenty & gives you headroom for upgrades.

Oh you're getting Kentsfield, so:

400 * 9 = 3.6ghz

Any DDR2 800 ram will do. Even crap ones. Cuz you're not overclocking the ram, just the cpu. Kenny hits around 3.6ghz. I think you'd get 3.2ghz tops stable.

No, swap that hsf out with Freezer 7 Pro which is much better.

DS3R would be a good mobo choice.

680i can't do Yorkfields.
April 1, 2008 11:56:35 AM

For RAM, consider OCZ, Crucial, Patriot. Look at your motherboard's qualified vendor's list. Not sure what is happening with Corsair. If you are not overclocking your memory, any decent brand should do fine.

EDIT:
Look at 680i, 780i for SLI, X38 and X48 for Crossfire.

EDIT2:
Yes the only connection supports 2 drives, although you can buy PCI IDE card and add extra drives. I would recommend switching to SATA everything you can.

EDIT3:
Go with 680i, if you intend to do SLI. Otherwise save your money and go with P35.
April 1, 2008 4:40:35 PM

Im kinda in the same Boat.Would like to build a pc that I dont have to bleed through the nose to build.I doub't if i will be going sli or crossfire either.
April 1, 2008 6:53:43 PM

xsamitt said:
Im kinda in the same Boat.Would like to build a pc that I dont have to bleed through the nose to build.I doub't if i will be going sli or crossfire either.
then Q6600 and P35 for you as well.
April 2, 2008 7:38:55 AM

Would it be worth getting the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme?
April 2, 2008 8:41:28 AM

Poobah said:
Would it be worth getting the Thermalright Ultra-120 Extreme?
That's what I have, there are others that are good for less cash. People like the ZEROtherm Nirvana NV120 although I don't personally care for the proprietary fan. Here is a review.

Also the XIGMATEK HDT-S1283 120mm Rifle is supposed to be very good. Sort of an Ultra 120 knock off. Although, I don't like the stock style push pin mounting system. Here is a review of that one.

Also the Tuniq Tower 120 P4 & K8 CPU Cooler is an old favorite. It is compared in the benches against the Ultra 120 in this review.

Remember only compare coolers within the same benches. A good cooler will extend the life of your Q6600, especially if you take advantage of the free OC to 3G. Not mandatory, but IMO highly recommended.
April 2, 2008 11:36:41 AM

What he said.

Zerotherm can be loud at full speed. Xigmatek would be the best bang for about the same performance as TRUE. Noctua with 2 fans outperforms TRUE with 1 fan, so says Anand.
April 2, 2008 11:52:46 AM

The thing is, the TRUE seems to beat the competition without any fans. Silent computing is a plus for me. :) 

One more thing I'm now considering: since SLI is simply too expensive and nForce motherboards don't appear to be as good as their cheaper counterparts, I'm now leaning towards an 8800GTS 512MB.
April 2, 2008 6:06:09 PM

Get the best VGA you can afford, excepting the ridiculously overpriced ones.
April 2, 2008 6:19:23 PM

The 8800GTS 512MB is a smart choice IMO.

Avoid the 9800GTX, it's just a more expensive 8800GTS 512MB with support for triple-SLI. It's a good choice only for people with 780i motherboards and 3 video cards.

The 8800GTX can do better than the GTS at high resolutions but it's probably not worth the additional money and heat.

April 2, 2008 9:56:45 PM

Best Price/performance options:
1. One PCI-E 16x slot. If you are wanting to save cash, then SLI is probably not a good idea. Especially at lower resolutions.
2. 4GB will save you frustration in the long run. If you get 2 gigs in 2x1GB sticks, you will already be using up half your board RAM slots for only 2 gigs. RAM is ridiculously cheap right now, you might as well.
3. Video Card recommendations as follows:
-9600GT for 1280x1024 and lower. Also, 1368x768 (or whatever it is).
-8800GT for 1440x900 and many of the funky resolutions that hover around there.
-8800GTS 512MB for 1680x1050 and 1600x1200.
April 2, 2008 11:21:00 PM

CPU - q6600
Mobo - p35, probably Gig DS3R/Abit IP35/Asus p5k all are good and solid boards.
RAM - 2x2 gb's of DDR2 CAS 4 (preferably) 800 mHz stuff. Usually around 4-4-4-12 speeds. This will allow you better OC'ing later, when your system starts to seem a bit slow.
GPU - 8800gt/s (g92) or 3870x2, if you want more GPU power than the 8800gt/s.
Case - p182 is fine, if that is what you want. Others to consider are the Cooler Master 690 or Antec 900. Both of those are affordable and are built well.
CPU HSF - I'd get the Xigmatek s1283, since its rated highly and is pretty cheap at ~$43 shipped, which is much cheaper than the TRU 120 w/Scythe Fan.
PSU - At least a Corsair vx450w($60ish)/vx550w($65 after MIR at Buy.com)/hx520 (modular and around $100ish) or even the PCP&C 610w Silencer ($110 at Newegg).
April 3, 2008 7:05:55 AM

Ok, is the Xigmatek easy to install? The review linked earlier does seem to indicate that it is, which is a really good thing for me. :)  What's the noise like, though?

EDIT:
Hey, what's a 'TIM'? The review indicates that the cooler doesn't come with one.
April 3, 2008 8:01:33 AM

TIM is "Thermal Interface Material", which they are talking about thermal paste. This is the material used between the CPU and the HSF. Here's another review of it from Frosty's. I'd get it in a heartbeat if I was going to buy a new CPU that I was going to OC or just wanted to have sufficient cooling.

http://www.frostytech.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=223...
April 3, 2008 8:13:30 AM

Ok, how should I go about choosing which thermal paste I should get? Is there a mega-comprehensive benchmark sort of thing I can look at like the HSF ones at frostytech?

EDIT:
Now I'm starting to think it may be better to get an ATI 3870 512MB. Are ATI ones any good? Getting something like this seems pretty good, since I could later on get another one and get a nice performance boost to extend the life of the computer.

Or should I still just skip the SLI/CrossFire stuff? It does seem that the motherboards that support this kind of stuff are twice as expensive (and worse for overclocking) than those that don't.

EDIT2:
Should I bother with a RAID 0 setup or is the performance improvement negligible?

EDIT3:
OK, I've decided that I'll get a Corsair HX520W modular PSU. Is this pretty-much the best PSU I should be getting assuming I get the single 8800GTS and Q6600? Will it fit in the Antec P182 without having to remove the fan or squash the cables up?
April 3, 2008 11:28:20 AM

The one area I won't get "El Cheapo" is the case and monitor.
I just may hold off for a little bit longer as the case I want won't be for sale till the end of May.
Then im sure I'll see what my options are then.Who knows ...maybe well have new G cards out by then.

Interesting tread BTW.
April 3, 2008 11:31:29 AM

xsamitt said:
The one area I won't get "El Cheapo" is the case and monitor.
I just may hold off for a little bit longer as the case I want won't be for sale thill the end of March.
Then im sure I'll see what my options are then.Who knows ...maybe well have new G cards out by then.

Interesting tread BTW.


Which case are you considering?

EDIT:
March has already ended, by the way.
April 3, 2008 11:39:50 AM

Hi Poobah

The Lian-li PC-80 in red.....I have suffered a long time with this beige piece of crap I have.I want something with a little bling and looks sharp.I would have went with the Silverstone TJ 10 but is a mid tower...I want as big as I can get since the I wont be using water cooling.Got an email this morning from Lian-Li with that little bit of info.
April 3, 2008 12:57:24 PM

Rather than a 10K Raptor, I'd got for 2x500GB at 16 or 32MB cache and RAID0 them, basically same performance, same price but over 6 times the storage. Although of course you can upgrade Raptor, but as you said you don't really care, I'd go for some small 16MB drives (80/160/250) and RAID0 them.

Glad to see that you aqren't going to fall for the 1GB 8800GT.

For xsamitt, I have (and really like) the Antec P182. Fantastic case, great looks too.
April 3, 2008 1:44:53 PM

Hi Two Bit

I agree the p182 is a great case.And very quiet......but has way more plastic than I prefer.
Also I prefer 10 expansion slots becasue in the future I think we may need it more than 7.But I have no crystal ball so thats just a guess looking at the way things are going.
April 5, 2008 5:49:33 AM

More questions:

1. Will the Corsair HX520W be fine for a Q6600, 4GB RAM, 1 or 2 HDDs, and an 8800GT(S)? Are there any better quality/value PSUs I should be instead considering?

2. Which of these motherboards is best? (Yes, I'm skipping RAID 0 because HDD capacities are simply too excessive to even consider multiple HDDs, without wasting money on a Raptor.)
-GA-EP35-DS3(L)
-ABIT IP35-E
-Asus P5K
Are there any other motherboards I should be considering?

3. Which thermal paste should I get? Are there any instructional videos on applying it so that I don't mess anything up?

4. Should I consider additional fans? If so, which ones?
April 5, 2008 7:32:05 AM

Answers:
1) Yes it good for the setup. If you want to spend a little less, but won't skimp on quality, I'd go with the Corsair vx550w PSU (like I stated earlier).
2) All the mobo's you listed are good boards. The DS3L/IP35-e/P5k SE are all about the same. DS3L is really popular followed by the Abit and Asus boards, so you can decide which one works better for you.
3) Artic Silver 5 is very popular and resonably priced. Here's the link for applying the paste:
http://www.arcticsilver.com/instructions.htm

4) Depending on which case you get, you might be fine with the ones that come with it. If your going to do extreme OC'ing than that would change, but if you just doing low to normal OC'ing than you might be just fine. Which case are you leaning towards?
April 5, 2008 7:57:48 AM

lunyone said:
1) Yes it good for the setup. If you want to spend a little less, but won't skimp on quality, I'd go with the Corsair vx550w PSU (like I stated earlier).
What is the difference between the HX and VX series?

lunyone said:
4) Depending on which case you get, you might be fine with the ones that come with it. If your going to do extreme OC'ing than that would change, but if you just doing low to normal OC'ing than you might be just fine. Which case are you leaning towards?
I'm most likely going to get an Antec P182. I would like at least a reasonable overclock, but I've never actually done it before, and am not interested in pushing the limits or anything extreme
April 5, 2008 8:09:25 AM

Okay, than you should be fine. I'd just double check the cable lengths of the PSU's that your considering them. Most of them are pretty standard length and should be fine. I'm not too familiar with the p182 case, but have read some good reviews about them. I don't know if you have considered the Cooler Master 690 case, but it's rated very well and usually is under $100 shipped.
!