As the thread name suggests I've been out of the desktop scene for about 5 years, I switched to a laptop for university for portability and gaming in one and now it's getting on a bit, I've decided to switch back to a desktop as a graduation 'gift' to myself And am not likely to be able to afford an upgrade in the near future after this (grad study, possible emmigration etc.) And so I would quite like to not mess it up hence why I'm after some opinions from people who have a clue, unlike myself.
Now I'm not technically incompetent, I can take and put together a computer, install new OS's etc. but the theorycrafting leaves me a bit lost (e.g. is it worth going for a quadcore at xx Ghz or sticking with a dual core at xx Ghz, what caches what speed should the RAM be etc. taking into account OS limitations on access).
I have a budget of between 600 and 700 pounds (I'm English) and would just be looking for a base unit, no monitors, speakers, etc as I have all of that. Would I be able to get a decent gaming setup for that which wouldn't become obsolete when I turned it on? I've had a gander around Ebay at the computer powersellers and there seems to be a big push for the quadcores, I know I'm looking for nothing below an 8600GT. Does anyone have any tips on where to start or things I should avoid?
well personalty if your going to use it for multimedia and gaming I would have a quad core like a Q6600 or something cheap, you can get stupid clock speeds out of it. The graphics card i wouldn't go towards a 9800 because its basically a 8800. or a little HD4850. Erm as for power supply a 550watt should do the trick someone might disagree there. Motherboard well it depends if you want to over clock and if you want crossfire SLI etc.
Nvidia SLI mobos are not worth the money even the more affordable onces. AMD/ATI crossfire works on intel boards plus they start from like £60 and up. AMD platforms tend not to be as good as Intel quad core platforms in many case, but one would not be stupid to build one using all AMD/ATI
At the level of the E8500 or Q9450, the vga card is much more important for gaming than the cpu.
At that level, overclocking is good for bragging, but it will not net you as much increase
in FPS as a better vga card will. Today, very few games can make use of more than two cores.
Flight simulator X is an exception. It is not a trivial matter to code multi threaded programs,
and game vendors will not sell too many games that require quads to run.
I don't see this changing in the next couple of years.
Net: E8500 for the increased clock speed.
As to the vga card, get the best one you feel comfortable paying for today. It is the single most important part for gaming. The 4870, GTX280, and 9800GX2 are all comparable top end cards. They should be within your budget, and will run anything out there reasonably well today. Tomorrow, there will always be something better, and cheaper.
For RAM, more is better, at least 4gb in a 2x2gb configuration. If you do lots of multitasking, then 8gb and possibly a quad cpu is better. Core 2 cpu's are not very sensitive to ram speeds. There is perhaps only a 1-2% difference in FPS between the slowest and fastest ram. DDR2-800 is probably the best value today. DDR3 is very much not worth it today.
I suggest Vista home premium 64 bit. Why invest in an OS that Microsoft is ending support for?
Shopping tips for Vista:
1) Do you qualify for an academic license?
If so, you can get Vista at a discounted price.
2) Look for an upgrade version of home premium instead of OEM.
Upgrade is a retail version which gives you support from microsoft, unlike OEM(AKA system builder),
and allows a more hassel-free ability to transfer the os to a different pc(motherboard).
For $10, microsoft will send you the 64 bit DVD.
I saw Vista home premium upgrade recently at Costco for $85, amazon for $89.
There is a legitimate two step instalation process to install an upgrade version
You install vista from the cd, but do not initially enter the product code.
Just tell the install which version you bought, and do not activate.
After it installs, you have a fully functional vista for 30 days.
Step 2 is to insert the cd again, while running vista and then do an upgrade.
This time, enter your product code, and activate.
After activation. you may delete the initial version which is named windows.old.
3) Do you possibly need Ultimate? There are very few features that the home user would want.
Check out the differences on the microsoft Vista web site.
If you get a retail or upgrade version, you will still be able to upgrade to ultimate later.
The devil is in the details.
It looks like the price does not include an OS.
Do you really love that case?
What brand is the PSU? Quality is very important there.
The motherboard in the ad is a micro ATX; I don't think it can take the advertised 8gb.
If you can walk in to the shop, and trust the people, well, then ok. Otherwise, I would be very cautious.
I think you can get a nice detailed shopping list of parts that you can build yourself.
What's wrong with the 650i? And I went for an ATI 4850 instead of the Geforce and also I believe I changed the motherboard to the MSI P35 Neo2-FR which supports 2x PCI-E 16x crossfire ( I assume you meant the bottleneck for the GPU on the 650i's?