Help needed from the experts on specific parts for gaming build~$1000

I'm looking to upgrade from my ancient computer right now (to give you an idea of how old it is I'm running an AGP card with no PCI-E slot). Vid card is currently an ATI X850 AGP

By that you can tell I need a major system refresh. Looking for help from everyone here on components.

Other background info for the build. I'm building this primarily for gaming. I'm not a big FPS guy but play a lot of RTS games (Red Alert, upcoming Starcraft, etc..). I also play WoW and Warhammer online, etc.. (Fallout 3 is currently chugging on my computer at the lowest video settings (the radio from my pipboy actually stutters until I stop moving) ;-)

I have a 24" widescreen monitor if that helps at all. (1920x1200 resolution).

One other note, I will be also upgrading my wifes computer (as in the past she always received my "old" computer as I got new parts and upgraded mine. I've left the upgrade too long this time so its best to just go with 2 newer computers. She wants to be able to jump in and play some games from time to time (ie Spore, WoW, etc..). I will be re-using my case (Antec Super Lanboy Alluminum) and power supply but will also be picking up parts for her. If someone wants to reccomend decent parts for her upgrade it would also be appreciated. Otherwise primarily looking to get the best bang for my buck.

Live up in Canada and trying to keep the parts to around $1000 give or take a hundred or so. Hoping to keep the wifes part costs down a bit more (she has a 20" widescreen monitor) but still get her a decent PC (was thinking around 500-600 or so).

Here is what I have so far.

Case - Antec 300 - I don't want something flashy this time. Just a simple yet good case with no flashing LED's or anything like that. (Wife now gets the fancy blue LED fan on the lanboy).

Power Supply - Not really looked too much into this but was thinking 750 or higher. I'd prefer to err on the side of caution and have replaced a couple of these in my lifetime so want a half decent one.

Video Card - Not a huge fan of ATI cards (bad experiences with them) so am thinking I will go Nvidia this time. Planning on picking up a GTX 260 Core 216 (or if the budget won't allow going with a plain GTX 260). This isn't set in stone so if I can get a good enough deal or enough persuasion I would consider possibly a 4870 or something as well.

Motherboard - This is where I am stumped. Most of the motherboards look like they are Crossfire boards, but since I am probably going Nvidia I don't know where to go. Slim chance that I will ever crossfire or SLI the boards but never say never I guess. I have been told its best to try to stick with an Intel Chipset on the board but will see what suggestions all of you have here.

CPU - Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 - Don't think I need quad-core.. This could always get dropped to an E8400 if the money would be better spent elsewhere as well.

Memory - No idea on brands, etc.. I used to be up to date on all the latest timing, etc.. but haven't even looked at this kind of stuff in years. Going to go 2x2GB dual channel DDR2 but don't know after that. Running 32 bit XP so I know I'm wasting 1 of those gigs of ram essentially but want it there so I can upgrade easily enough (just not had any real need to jump up to Vista as of yet).

I think thats it. Look forward to seeing all of your suggestions here. Been trying to read through so many threads that names of motherboards, memory, etc are starting to run together.

For my wifes PC I was going to go with an E8400, 2x2 GB memory, 8800 or 9800 GT or GTX (or possibly try an ATI 4850), and a slightly older motherboard (maybe x38 chipset as I'm sure these come a lot cheaper than the newer boards).

Timing for all of this is before x-mas (planning on giving the list of components to my family and letting em pick and choose pieces to pick up for me).

Thanks everyone in advance. Sorry this turned into a novel but figured more information is better than not enough.
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  1. Forgot a couple minor things.

    Hard Drive - Don't really need help with this as I can pickup whatever to fit the budget. Would appreciate hearing peoples opinions on what brands they like/dislike.

    Should I be looking at putting any additional fans into the box at all?
  2. For gaming, start with the vga card.
    The GTX260-216 will be about as good as it gets, even for shooters. The non-216 model is being discontinued, and we may see one made of 55nm parts by the end of the year. I would get a EVGA card in case you might want to "step up" within 90 days. That will cost you about $300.
    A 9800GT might be $175, and would still be a massive jump for you.

    A E8400 3.0 is all you need to drive the fastest card out there. The E8500 is not much more, and is a fair value for the increase. Only if you play cpu bound multi-core optimized games such as FSX or supreme commander would a quad be indicated.

    I would suggest a P45 based motherboard from Asus or Gigabyte. Don't spend extra for features that you won't use. A board with two pci-e slots is probably not worth it for you.

    Splurge a bit, and get the Velociraptor for your system drive, it DOES make a difference.

    ---good luck---

    under 1000

    i included a modular psu since i doubt ur case has very good cable managment lol.

    gtx 260 BLACK edition(factory overclocked)

    windows vista 64 bit

    um and u can see the rest i did include a velociraptor drive since IMO it doesnt really make a difference

    i included a E8500 not a stupied E8400 =p

    u can see the rest urself
  4. oo and i forgot to say alot of this stuff have the prices down for christmas saving so everything might be a tad bit more after a few weeks i think. Although if u replace the gtx 260 with somtin like a 9800 gtx the problem would be solved
  5. I'd also go with the E8400. It's very easy to overclock, usually can do 3.4 or 3.6Mhz on the stock voltage. DDR2-800 memory will allow you to overclock up to 3.6Ghz and for the price of it these days I'd grab 4GB. Personally I've been using Patriot Extreme Performance lately, but OCZ, Corsair, and Mushkin are generally the top brands. Lower timings are slightly faster, ie 4-4-4-12 is faster than 5-5-5-15.

    I also agree about just going with a P45 board if you don't have an interest in Crossfire. If you do want to Crossfire, I would go X48 to ensure the motherboard will last you a long time (two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots). SLI motherboards are more trouble and not worth the money (IMO), so it's either Crossfire with ATI cards or go with a P45 and use a single ATI or nVidia card. I'm extremely happy with my 4870 and would buy again, though I'd get the 1GB version now that it's out. It's also DX 10.1 compatible which we'll be seeing more of before Windows 7 launches, so I'd keep that in mind for a longer term build. And on that note, getting an X48 means down the road you can pop in a second 4870 on the cheap if you need to. I've built a few systems using the Gigabyte X48-DS4 and am happy with its settings/features and have had no complaints.

    I think the Western Digital 640GB hard drive is a bit of a sweet spot for price/performance. Check out some reviews, it's performance comes from the new 320gbx2 platters WD used in it and is comparable to some raid setups.

    For $30-$35 grab a heatsink for the processor if you want to overclock, get a direct contact one. Xigmatek, OCZ Vendetta 2, Sunbeam Core Contact, etc.

    ALso if overclocking you'll want good airflow in the case. Scythe has some fluid bearing fans whose life expectancy is twice that of other bearing types and is quieter, I think last time I bought some from direct canada they were around $15 each.

    Speaking of cases, I'd go with the Coolermaster 690 over the Antec 300. Although, keep an eye on's Monday web deal, ppl are thinking the Antec 900 will be on for a great price. It's basically the same as the CM 690, but the 690 is generally less expensive. Both are good cases.

    Power Supplies.. if you just want to run a single card then a Corsair 650W or 750W would work, or PC Power and Cooling 750W too. MIght as well go with 750W as both have good sales on. If you want to keep Crossfire as an option, the Antec Quattro 850W is your sweet spot for two 4870's as it's often on sale as well and leaves headroom.

    For the wife, P45 with 4850 and E7200 (overclock) or E8400. 4GB ddr2-800. Antect Sonata III case comes with a decent 500W PSU, otherwise PC Power and Cooling 610W or Corsair 620W plus Coolermaster 690 case. Check out some budget builds for more ideas though.

    Where/how are you/your family buying? Check out this forum post for Canadian etailers and retailers:

    My top vendors as (price match here),, and can be used with manufacturer part numbers from the vendor sites to find the lowest price and then use that to price match at NCIX ;) is also alive and well but the pricing and sales there haven't been as impressive as the others just yet.

    Good luck! oh and make sure you grab Vista 64-bit!
  6. My god.. geofelt, dasher and jevon.. You guys rock. Thanks for the detailed response!

    I'm pretty web savvy with picking up good deals through pricematching etc.. Based in Calgary so we also have MemoryExpress which has some very good prices on components sometimes.

    Usually pick stuff up through NCIX and the odd thing through TigerDirect. has had some nice deals but you have to catch them on a free shipping deal otherwise it kind of kills any benefit you may get shopping there.

    Thanks again! I'll go through these posts a little more in depth tomorrow at work and try to piece together some better parts. You've got me thinking now about going with a 1 gig 4870 instead of the 260 GTX Core 16....

    Decisions decisions....

    Thanks again guys. That went above and beyond helping out with those posts!
  7. This is dasher on my "cover up" acount =] if u want a 4870 qb go with this one

    cheaper then the 260
  8. unfortunately our dollar is tanking right now so the exact same card on newegg Canada is much more $

    then again so are the 260's so I guess it's all relative!

    Anyway good luck Str8jkt, glad we could help. Just remember to pay it forward at some point :)

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