Bang for the buck gaming

I've read a few similar threads so I'm starting to get some ideas but if you could help me specifically that would be great. I'm looking for people to post what parts they would choose if they were building this system.

Want to make fairly cheap gaming system with the best bang for the buck possible. I'm thinking maybe 600-ish just for the tower but I might go anywhere from 500-1000, depending on what I can get for the money.

Good gaming performance
Preferably nothing that's a pain to set up in linux
Near silent if it doesn't add much to the cost (might be recording some music)


I'm thinking fast dual core, probably the E8400

No clue, cheapest thing that's not a piece of crap. Overclocking not a huge concern but will probably OC the CPU a little at some point.

I like RAM so I'm thinking 4GB of whatever's the best value. DDR2 800 maybe?

Whatever's fastest at a reasonable price. I've heard the WD 640GB one is good but I don't need that much space. Any chance there's something just as fast but smaller and cheaper?

Probably whatever 4850 is cheapest or has the best cooling

Don't know. What's a solid cheap one?

This is where I need the most help. No clue here.

Could also use a lot of help. A really cheap case would be best but I'd be willing to get something really nice if 1) it's not overpriced for what you get and I like the looks and 2) I'd be able to use it with Nehalem motherboards later on

Thanks in advance!
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  1. The WD 640GB everyone mentions is the WD6400AAKS because it's the best $/GB. I may be wrong (and if I am someone please correct me), but I think any of the AAKS models (they're the newest and fastest tech) would be recommended. You'd be paying more per gig, but your total cost would go down. The WD3200AAKS is only $65.
  2. Ah, well if it's half the size for $20 difference I might go with the bigger one anyway but does it have the same performance as the bigger one?

    How about the other parts, what would you guys get?
  3. PSU: or

    Video card: (you said you wanted aftermarket cooling)

    Case: matter of personal opinion...just head over to newegg and check out their never ending selection...
  4. How long do you expect to keep this build "unchanged"? Any upgrades you are planning to make along the way?

    I think there is no form-factor changes planned for Nehalem, so most casings should be just fine.
  5. With the WD3200AAKS you risk getting an older one with two 160GB platters, which is slower than the newer one with one 320GB platter. Get the WD6400AAKS if you want to be sure you get the fastest one. It's getting like 93MB/s read rates, totally awesome :)
  6. 1. Those power supplies seem nearly identical. Is there any real difference between them? Is 500 a safe bet for the type of parts I'm going to be running?

    2. I don't necessarily need after market cooling, but I want something that's not ridiculously hot or ridiculously loud and it doesn't seem to have jacked up the price really so that looks good for the video card I think.

    3. I guess I'll probably go with that 640GB drive then, it looks like a very nice combination of size/price/performance.

    4. Not really planning on upgrades at the moment, hoping to get a near top of the line system a couple years down the road. However, it looks like I might go to grad school (hence be relatively poor a while longer) so I may end up doing some upgrades to keep it up to speed.
  7. i just suggested the other antec psu because it had free come from a very reliable company...and yes, 500-550 should easily handle your rig...unless you plan on having crossfire in the future...
  8. If you get the Antec 900 you won't have to worry about after market cooling for the video card. The case cooling is good enough to handle it. It also has switches to turn the fan speed (and noise) down when you're not gaming.

    PSU: 500GB is theoretically enough, but it depends on the model. It's also 99% guaranteed to be too small for your next PC, and you get no room for upgrades. I'd get a 650TX from newegg.
  9. For a quiet case, you can't beat the Antec Solo. Since you are getting a PSU, I would suggest the Antec Sonata plus 550. It is the same case with an included 550watt psu.
    The psu should be good for even a 4870.
    For gaming, the video card is the most important component. Get the 4870 of you can.

    The E8400 is a fine choice.
    The supplied retail cooler will do the job. When under load, the fan will spin up and become noisy.
    I would consider an oem cooler. With a slow turning 120mm fan, it will be much quieter. Xigmatek has a good one.
    Get the optional back plate for it so you don't have to deal with pushpin mounting.

    No need for a fancy mobo. gigabyte P45 board.

    For ram, get a 4gb kit of DDR2-800 in a 2x2gb configuration. Corsair tests show that 4gb can help gaming some, and it is cheap. I have no expertise in linux, but it does not seem to me that that is a good idea for gaming. You should not want to deal with games that might be incompatible, or with linux drivers for your vga card. Look at the 64 bit version of Vista home premium. As a student, I think you are eligible some discounted prices for Vista.

    The WD 6400AAKS seems reasonable to me. The fastest part of the drive is on the outside. Even though you will not be using all of the capacity, the part that you will use will be more concentrated on the faster outer part, making things a touch faster.

    I can vouch for the Samsung 203B.
    I like it mainly because it is SATA, and always quiet. The faster 223 versions should be ok too.
  10. I'm not a big fan of huge grated sections on cases like the 900 but it does look like a solid case. The quiet one with the psu looks very close to what I want. It looks like it might be a little cramped for a 4850 though, and I don't care for the ugly orange trim. Good value and quietness make it attractive however.

    Don't worry, I know my linux stuff. Most of my games I will need to run in windows, but I can set up a dual boot or whatever I need for that. Linux video card drivers are looking quite good these days, so no worries there I think.

    Mobo has kinda mediocre feedback. Any experience with it?

    DVD looks good. A lightscribe one would be the icing on the cake, but fast and cheap are numbers 1 and 2 on the priority list.
  11. The Antec Solo comes w/o a psu. It is all black. The PC P&C silencer610 is an outstanding psu for $79.99 after rebate. It will handle two 4870's.
    The 4850 and 4870 are standard length cards, and will fit in the SOLO cases.

    The Corsair 450VX would do the job at a slightly lower price point.

    I have been pleased with Gigabyte. The P45 boards are newer, and presumably better. The older P35 GA-EP35-DS3L has had plenty of time to mature, and is a good value:
  12. Well remember I'm looking for the best value here so I think maybe the older mobo would be better.

    As far as the case/PSU goes, it looks like the case that comes without the psu is about the same price with no significant improvements, meaning I have to add in the cost of the PSU without gaining anything. Doesn't seem like the best move for a value minded machine...

    So is it back to the one with the orange, or is there a more clever solution?
  13. How about a Solo "B" stock case direct from Antec for $54.95?
    Add a psu, and your cost won't be very different.
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