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Comments/Critique New Gaming Build

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Anonymous
May 23, 2008 5:08:18 AM

Hey Everybody,

First time poster on Tom's Hardware but I have read many articles on this site. I have found that users here have vast knowledge and I would appreciate if some of you guys would critique this new build.

I am on a budget so I would like to build a system for AS CLOSE TO $500 as I can. I know it will go over that amount but anything around $500 would be good. This is not the first time I am building a system so I have some components as I will explain in more detail further down.

This is a build primarily to play Age of Conan, Starcraft II, and run music, movies.... ya know, the usual stuff. I can't afford a top-of-the-line build but I would like something that lasts me 2 years. In the future, I want to run this on full resolution on a 42" LCD TV (although I don't have it yet) so just keep that in mind as well. As of now, I have a 19" monitor.

So here is what I am thinking. If you guys could post comments or show me better parts (or parts that I have that are unnecessary), that would be very much appreciated.

Motherboard: ASUS P5N-E SLI LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 650i SLI ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail ($120)
I am not going to be purchasing another video card for SLI. However, I could not find any other suitable gaming motherboards for as low as $120.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor - Retail ($220)
Everybody says that this one is probably the best bang-for-your-buck processor for today's games

Video Card: EVGA 512-P3-N801-AR GeForce 8800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail ($210)
I figure the 8800GT is the minimum for video cards. I have read that the 8800GTX doesn't give much more. Also, I have read that the 9800 GTX and GX2 do not give enough of a performance increase to warrant spending the extra cash.

Power Supply: I currently have a Thermaltake PurePower 500W PSU in my current build.

OR

OCZ GameXStream OCZ700GXSSLI 700W ATX12V Power Supply - Retail ($90)

OR

CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 Power Supply - Retail ($140)

I don't know if the 500W that I have will have enough juice for this new system. The Corsair PSU has the 80-PLUS certification but costs more. The OCZ is $50 less but does not show up under the certification even though it says "GameXStream" which I presume means it is good for high performance gaming. But I could be wrong. What PSU would be sufficient for my system?

RAM: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail ($85)

OR

OCZ Gold 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail ($70)

Either one of these. The OCZ says "high performance or gaming memory" but there are many more reviews for the G.SKILL. Which would you guys suggest?

Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 ST3250410AS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM ($60)

OR

Western Digital Raptor WD1500ADFD 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM ($170)

I have tried to read up on whether I should get SATA 3.0 or 10000 RPM and i haven't found any absolute evidence as to which is better for gaming. Also, I have thought about using a RAID 0 config with the SATA 3.0 drive.

DVD Drive: I have a previous Lite-On DVD Drive that run at around 8x or something. I presume that should be fine.

Thank you for reading this extremely long post. I appreciate any suggestions on different components but please remember: I am on a budget of as close to $500 so money matters, I would like to play games and do other stuff SIMULTANEOUSLY, and I would like this system to remain workable for 1-2 years.

Thanks!
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May 23, 2008 5:51:55 AM

8800gt is a good choice for graphics for keeping the price down they are very good performers
on that note LCD TV(note this applies for TV's not monitors) have a resolution of 1330 by 900(something close to that) the 8800gt can display to 2560-1600 (something close to that)

Q6600 is definately a good cpu for $$$ but atm with a limited number of proper multithreading programs, a higher clocked cpu like a wolfdale 8400 will serve you better

P-35 should definately be considered

in my opinion a raptor hdd is only worth it when your trying to squeeze out every last drop of performance the seagate will do just fine. as well as more space.

go the geil its fantastic ocing ram

because your not running sli 500w qaulity psu will do just fine. if you think you might want sli in the future 700w or 750w psu. once again i will reinforce the point dont cheap out on the psu a cheap one will cost you more money once it has finished destroying your computer.

from what i have heard thermaltake, ocz, silverstone and corsiar are reliable as long as you dont buy the cheap stuff

your dvd rom is fine

overall pretty good choices good luck
Anonymous
May 23, 2008 6:28:13 AM

Firstly, Thanks for all your suggestions. I wanted to clarify some things. I do not plan on OCing probably because I don't know how to properly do it and I am not looking to squeeze out every last drop of computing power but would rather have my components last for longer. Nothing against OCing but I don't think I will be doing it.

Dirtmountain:

1) Do I really need a non-stock CPU cooler if I'm not OCing? Also, that cooler is very large and could be cumbersome

2) Exactly what does the 8800GTS offer to me over a 8800GT?

3) Also, the 8800GTS is HUGE and since you suggested the P35 mobo, will this card get in the way of my SATA connectors as some reviews have suggested?

BlackKnight7891

Firstly, you have a great forum name :)  .

1) Would you suggest the 8800GT or 8800GTS since you were talking about the 8800GT in your post?

2)I am not very knowledgeable on processors but why would the 8400 be better than the 6600? The 6600 is quad-core, has an 2 X 4MB L2 Cache but runs at 1066Mhz whereas the 8400 is dual-core, has a 6MB L2 Cache but runs at 1333Mhz. Does the FSB difference compensate for the loss of Quadcore and a little L2 Cache?

3) Sorry but I didn't understand which RAM you wanted me to take. OCZ or G.Skill? I'm not sure what geil is. Also, I'm probably not going to be OCing so I don't know if that factors into selecting the RAM.

Thanks to both of you for your responses!
Anonymous
May 23, 2008 5:20:09 PM

Bump and also want to re-iterate some of my main questions

I already have a decent hard drive but its not SATA 3.0. How much does SATA 3.0 help when playing games or just multi-tasking on the comp?

Should i get the Q6600 quad-core (kentsfield) or the Q8400 dual-core (wolfdale)...... I am not looking to OC because I don't know how to and I don't have enough cooling....

Does OCing reduce the life of your components or just increase heat?

What RAM should I buy? Should I go for 1066 RAM or is 800 RAM just fine? Also, 4 GB seems more than enough to me bt 64-bit vista recognizes 8GB.... 4GB or 8GB RAM?

8800GT or 8800GTS?

Thanks for responding!
May 23, 2008 7:14:44 PM

darkknight.... you won't need an aftermarket cooler if you aren't overclocking, the stock cooler will do just fine.

8800GTS does give a better performance (10 to 15%) than the 8800GT and is cooler too....

http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3175&p=4

In a nutshell, games and other apps don't make use of the four cores yet so a fast dual core like E8400 runs the games and most of the apps faster than the Q6600. In two years time programs would use quads much better than dual cores, but thats a couple of years later.....so stick with the E8400.

If theres a cooler strong enough to chill the overclocked CPU theres no damage.

Crucial ballstix, Corsair, Gskill are good brands of RAM. 4 gigs of 800 mhz RAM is just fine for any OS.

May 23, 2008 7:21:04 PM

Also you might want to wait for the new Radeon cards...they're bound to outperform most of the existing high end cards
!