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Bit of a noob... building a 1st gaming rig...

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May 26, 2008 6:37:26 PM

Ok, so i finally got fed up trying to play M2TW on my 2-year old ATI 200m equipped laptop and decided i'd order a new pc... any advice would be great.
Budget is about £800 (GBP - XE.com informs me thats about 1500USD).
I want to be able to run most new games pretty well... though im not bothered about crysis. Ideally want to be able to easily upgrade this system without spending too much money to keep it 'up there' in a couple of years time (if that's even possible).

Spec;

Asus Motherboard M3A32-MVP Deluxe AM2
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(27017)Asus-Motherboard-M3A32MVP-Deluxe-AM2-Phenom.aspx)
Seems to be compatible with everything new (as it's 790FX based) and crossfire X capable

Gigabyte ATi Radeon HD 3870
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(30273)Gigabyte-ATi-Radeon-HD-3870-Graphic-Card.aspx)
Cheaper than any other 3870 i can find (thats in stock!!) and according to everything i've read no more than 2-3% slower than a standard card yet runs very cool (= overclockable)

Antec Nine Hundred Case
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(16013)Antec-Nine-Hundred-Gaming-case-Black-full.aspx)
Should keep everything nice and ventilated...

Antec NeoHE 430W Modular PSU
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(11446)Antec-NeoHE-430W-Modular-ATX20-PSU-80mm-low.aspx)
Efficient, quiet (relatively) and modular (less cables?)

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5000+
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(14003)AMD-CPU-AM2-Athlon-64-Dual-Core-5000-Retail.aspx)
I know it isn't all that powerful, but its cheap, stable (i'm told!) and probably enough to run most games without being a bottleneck?
(They don't have the BE in stock!!)

4GB of Corsair XMS2 6400 ram
(http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(27139)Corsair-2048MB-TwinX-XMS2-6400-C4-DDR2-44412.aspx) x2
Was originally going for 2gb but then read about vista needing a bit more than you'd expect, so doubled up...


All that plus a Samsung 500GB 7200RPM HD, some boring DVD/RW and a Dell 22'' Widescreen w/ DVI, Vista Home Premium (64-bit), random other accessories... blah blah blah...

BASICALLY - are there any comments you'd make on that lot?
My hope is that come christmas I'll want a bit more power so i'll pick up a second 3870 (or maybe a 4xxx series card, if they're around by then) and whack it in crossfire...
I know that will probably mean a PSU upgrade (to something like 650W?) but i figured getting the 430W PSU now i'd probably save the cost of an upgrade in electricity bills between now and then...
I looked at getting a Phenom CPU but they're 3x the price of the 5000+ and less than twice the power (looking at benchmarks on this site and others) so it didn't seem worth it

Thanks for any advice! I'm getting all this stuff this week probably - friend of mine is picking it up for me, and putting it together

Like i said i'm a bit of a noob - i had a kick-ass gaming machine back in 1998... that was was replaced with a laptop + Xbox in 2006, and now i want a real pc!!

:D 
May 26, 2008 8:22:54 PM

Ok with a $1500 budget you can build this (prices may differ, so you may/may not be able to):

Q6600/E8400/ (If OCing and in a budget a E2180)

8800GT/(G92)8800GGTS

P35-DS3x (ie DS3L); P5K

PP&C 610 or even a Corsair 450/550

4GB (2*2GB) DDR2 800 from a good manufacture, ie. Corsair, Crucial, Patriot. (DDR2 1066 has compatibility issues)

7200.11 HDD

If OCing, a good HSF like the XIGMATEK -S1283.

PS: When posting links put 2 spaces between the parenthesis.
May 26, 2008 8:57:38 PM

@OP: I like your build. It's nice to see that somebody still likes AMD. I really don't want to see Intel and nVidia all alone in their fields, it would be boring and expensive for all of us.

I would suggest getting a powerful PSU right from the beginning. Why waste money and effort with a temporary PSU. This Corsair 650TX for example can handle two HD 3870 cards all right.
http://www.microdirect.co.uk/(31042)Corsair-PSU-650W-CMPSU650TX-ATX12V-v22-5.aspx
Related resources
May 26, 2008 9:21:46 PM

great powersupply, im using the same exact one, it has 48amps total on 3 rails. powers my e4600 and my 8800gt. i also have 1 hard drive, 3 fans, x-fi xtremegamer. its stable running 24 hours at a time, playing crysis, left on for 10 hours spectating cod2 while i sleep (i forget to turn it off) i would bet my arse that u could run a quadcore easily too.
May 26, 2008 9:21:48 PM

Hey, thanks for the reply Shadow703793!

I've just done some adding up and the system you suggested works out about £100 more expensive, primarily because of the processors - with the cheaper option it comes to about the same price.
Is there a definate need to having a CPU as fast as the Q6600 or E8400 (with respect to gaming)?
I might consider going up to an X2 6400+ if its really needed, but i'd thought the 5000+ would be enough as i know people who play games on older CPUs than that (3700+!) without any problems at all (or so they say!)
I'm not really into overclocking right now (might change when i get to try it) so i dont want to risk buying a component JUST to o/c it... if that makes sense!

You can probably guess im an AMD/ATI fan... back in the day ATI cards always gave superior image quality (in my opinion anyway) wheras nvidia seemed to concentrate on frame rate
From what i've researched I think its still the same today - i'm a photographer so image quality is more important to me than high fps, especially when either system will be running frames faster than a DVD movie anyway...

Also is there the same upgradability with an Intel/nvidia system like the one you suggested?

Also is there an advantage to having 2x2gb rather than 4x1gb, other than having two free slots to use later on? I have 2x1gb of corsair XMS2 already lying around you see, so i can save some cash that way!

Thanks for your advice + time :) 
May 26, 2008 9:24:39 PM

i trust antec more than corsair, ive had experience. itll power ur system fine. its also modular ftw. stable rails too. everything runs in spec.
May 26, 2008 9:25:29 PM

if ur gaming, a e8400 is the proc for u, the cache is what ur looking for. clock speed is good, but cache matters alot as well. quad core isnt being fully utilised, ud benefit more from a e8400 until programs and games especially use quad core. personally id go for a e7200 because its cheap and has a good amount of cache. look for nehalem or whatever the next procs are and then go buy a quad. i have an e4600 and its damn fast.
May 26, 2008 9:32:51 PM

corsair tx are new to the market, i dont trust them, i put on into my ga-p35-ds3l mobo with everything plugged in. it booted fine, started to install vista, then it shuts off. after breaking out my antec neohe 430w and putting it besides the case on a set of books, i took each cable the tx750w was plugged into my system and plugged in the modular cables from the antec, then put the power cable to the antec, everything ran fine. stable to this day. i suspect incompatibility, just get a tried and true powersupplt like a vx450w or something, dont get the tx models. tx models have way too much cables u dont use, its a mess putting it into ur pc, restricts alot of airflow unless u spend 30minutes tieing off useless cables u dont need. go modular, makes like easier. the antec neohe430 if rock stable. its hella silent too. amd or intel is good. doesnt matter too much.
May 26, 2008 9:34:59 PM

aevm; i suppose you might have a point there; though a few quick sums reveals with the amount of gaming i tend to do i could save about £50 between now and christmas just by having a 430W psu over a 650W!
the other thing is this... say come christmas i want more than just one 3870? the board would support more, or even a 3870x2, which has a much bigger power drain!
basically im worried that spending twice as much on a psu now might not be worth it because a) prices will undoubtedly have dropped by the time i want to upgrade and b) i might find that i need even more power than i anticipated when the time to upgrade comes, and have to get a new psu anyway... make sense?
anyway, i'll consider it! thanks for your reply!
and yes, i am a bit of an AMD/ATI fan... primarily through hated of those silly 'intel inside' stickers.. grrr!
May 26, 2008 9:43:19 PM

pcgamer12 - nice to hear the psu is a good one!
about the processor - i'm almost determined to stick with AMD, though thanks for your suggestions! do you think the 5000+ would bottleneck when playing games (eg. GRID, Oblivion, Bioshock...)?

thanks for your reply!

and open to anyone, how easy is it to o/c a 5000+? i have read the black edition is great for overclocking but as microdirect dont sell it i didnt really look into getting one (i get 'free delivery' from there so its my vendor of choce :D )
May 27, 2008 12:42:15 AM

yslen said:
aevm; i suppose you might have a point there; though a few quick sums reveals with the amount of gaming i tend to do i could save about £50 between now and christmas just by having a 430W psu over a 650W!
the other thing is this... say come christmas i want more than just one 3870? the board would support more, or even a 3870x2, which has a much bigger power drain!
basically im worried that spending twice as much on a psu now might not be worth it because a) prices will undoubtedly have dropped by the time i want to upgrade and b) i might find that i need even more power than i anticipated when the time to upgrade comes, and have to get a new psu anyway... make sense?
anyway, i'll consider it! thanks for your reply!
and yes, i am a bit of an AMD/ATI fan... primarily through hated of those silly 'intel inside' stickers.. grrr!



Wait a second, are you thinking that a 430W PSu consumes 430W and a 650W PSu consumes 650W, and if you buy the smaller PSu you save 220W and pay less every month in electricity??? Whoa.... No no no, that's not how it works. The 430W/650W are maximum values supported, and never actually consumed.

Let's say your CPU and video card and hard disk together need, say, 400W. This depends entirely on what you're doing and on the type of CPU/GPU/HDD, not at all on the PSU size or type. Now, let's say you have a NeoHe 430W (working at only 75% efficiency because it's close to max). It will draw 533W from the wall, which you pay for, it will waste 133W (25%) and it will give 400W to the CPU/GPU/HDD. The 650TX, at the same time, would work at 80%, taking 500W from the wall (so you actually pay LESS in electricity bills), wasting 100W, giving the same 400W to the CPU/GPU/HDD. Seriously, you're not saving one penny in bills with the smaller PSU.


May 27, 2008 7:11:38 AM

heh heh, alright aevm, now i do look like a noob :( 
yes, you are right, i don't know what i was thinking there tbh... this is why i didn't do a physics degree!
alright, so say i wanted to upgrade that rig so i was running some fancy phenom (if AMD gets them running faster than they currently are, for example) and two 3870x2 cards (quad gfx - yay!) what sort of psu am i looking at?
if i spend a decent amount on any component i want it to last, understandably...
thanks for noticing i have no idea what im talking about :$!
:D 
May 27, 2008 1:54:01 PM

Wow, two 3870X2 cards... Not bad at all.

AFAIK you would need Vista for that, because XP drivers won't support 4 GPUs. Just so you know... Mind you, with that much GPU power you'd want Vista for DirectX 10 anyway.

Here's the official list of PSUs certified by AMD to support two 3870X2 cards:
http://game.amd.com/us-en/crossfirex_components.aspx?p=3

From that list, I'd pick one of the 5 below. The order is alphabetical, no particular preference. For example I own a Silencer 750W, but I'd want something bigger for 4 GPUs because I also have a lot of hard disks and other things in there.

Antec Truepower Quattro 850 Watt
Enermax GALAXY 1000W CrossFire™ EGA1000EWL-01
PC Power & Cooling Silencer 750 Quad (750W)
PC Power & Cooling Turbo-Cool 860 (860W)
Thermaltake Toughpower 850W

In general, the Enermax Galaxy and PC P&C TurboCool series are considered the best PSUs in the world. However, they tend to be expensive.
May 27, 2008 2:03:31 PM

Just wanted to comment on the E2180 option, I purchased one recently for a back-up rig I made (for friends/guests/brother to game) and OC'd to 3.0 with no problems, it plays Assassin Creed, Oblivion, Witcher, CoD4, and a bunch of other games just fine with it.

Donno if that's helpful or not, but just wanted to share.
May 27, 2008 3:23:46 PM

Thanks Pous for your comment - i'm fairly firmly decided on an AMD system, but it sounds like there are good low-budget intel options out there too, im sure someone will find that useful!

Aevm - i'm getting vista premium 64-bit (if anyone in the uk wants to buy the 32-bit oem version i accidentally ordered its on ebay...!)
I've sort of run out of cash for a better psu right now, unfortunatly, so im going to stick with the antec 430W and get the quattro 850W at some point in the future - i know its going to cost me £40 more overall but i really dont have £110 to spend right now!

Thanks for all your advice, i cant wait to get this system built now (build day is set for friday :)  )
I'll report back with how it performs, in case anyone is interested!
!