Opinions on how best to spend ~150

Hello, my first post on Tom's Forums, but I've been a reader of the site for years.

Okay, I'm soon to build a new computer to replace my 5-year old pentium 4 / Radeon 9800 system. Mostly for gaming, some computer aided design. Not to much picture/video editing.

My budget is ~$1000 (willing to spend a little bit more, but not much)

Here is what I'm thinking so far:

Item Cost after Rebate

Antec 900 . . . . . . . . . . . . .109.99
MSI Radeon 4850 . . . . . . . .159.99
Crucial Ballistix RAM 4gb . . .59.99
Asus p5e . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199.99
Corsair 650w . . . . . . . . . . .69.99
Intel e7200 . . . . . . . . . . . .119.99
WD 500GB 7200 sata . . . . .64.99
LITE-ON 22x lightscribe . . . .29.99
ZALMAN CNPS9700 . . . . . . .53.99

Total . . . . . . .~$870

Basically, what's the best way to spend the extra $130ish? I have a few ideas:

1) get 8gb ram and run 64 bit vista (instead of 4gb/32bit) . . . would 32bit programs run better in the 8gb/64 bit environment? (~$80) and buy another harddrive and raid them (~$65) (if it would do anything, could always spend a little more on a higher-rated processor, but I plan on overclocking this 7200 to ~3.4ghz as per the recent tom's article.)

2) buy a radeon 4870 1gb ram card instead of the 512mb radeon 4850 (extra $90) (would probably also upgrade to a 750w corsair psu w/ 4 PCIe connectors, to keep open the option of someday cross-firing another 4870, so $30 for the psu, for total upgrade of $120)

3) buy a second 4850 and cross-fire (extra $160)

. . . any other ideas?
20 answers Last reply
More about opinions spend
  1. Wwwwatttt the fffffffff happpppend to the scriiiipttttt???? eh

    The PC&P 750 is nice but you would save a few bucks going with the 610W
    and still have plenty of power.

    PC Power & Cooling S61EPS 610W Continuous @ 40°C EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
    Additional $5 off w/ promo code "EMCBCAEBB", ends 12/10


    Sorry, I see the script got fixed...Thank You
  2. Impressive build, Slomo4shO. Yeah, +1 to all that.

    @knotknut: nice try, but the Silencer 610W only has 2 PCI-E connectors and HD 4870 Crossfire needs 4. That can be fixed by adding some adapters, but why bother. Besides, the 750W version would support more hard disks and other things along with the two video cards.
  3. On second thought, if overclocking is involved, I'd spend $9 more to upgrade the cooler to Xigmatek HDT-S1283, and about $20 more to upgrade to E8500.
    I think it might still be under $1000 :)
  4. ^+1 for the 750. +1 for Slomo4shO's build also. Only thing I would change is swapping out the Freezer Pro to a XIGMATEK S1283 + bolt in kit or a Core
    Contact. If you are really on a budget and willing to OC get a E5200.
    edit: avem beat me to it about the S1283.
  5. I have almost the exact build you guys are talking about, the UD3P, Xigmatek cooler, I have a raptor as main drive, WD 640 as backup, Lite on dvd, PC Power & Cooling 750, the only different is I have a Q9550, that is stock at 2.83 that is running at 3.9 rock stable. Had it up to 4.3 before toning back down. I can't say enough about this combination of products, the E8400 would be in their nicely too.

    If you are planning on OC'ing, which I would HIGHLY recommend with this setup, make sure to buy RAM that you can get the extra juice out of. I bought 1066 reaper and it will run at 1066, but it won't run even the slightest bit higher.
  6. I would actually go with the Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120mm over the Xigmatek cooler if the OP wants to upgrade the cooler from the Freezer 7 Pro.
  7. ^True.
  8. I like the OP's original build. However, for the money, Slomo's build is rock solid. I will however, 3rd the suggestion on the Xigmatek HDT-S1283. Great cooler. However, it is quite large and truly needs the additional bolt-on kit for mounting securely.
  9. Okay, thanks for all the replies. Keep 'em coming!

    From what I can gather, it's almost unanimous to buy the Xigmatec instead of the Zalman. What is that? Better cooling? Quieter? Just curious as to the reasons for the recommendation.

    Now, keeping in mind that the computer's primary purpose will be gaming, how best to spend the rest on the money? Basically, a main question is, should I upgrade to the one gig 4870, or buy two 4850s? I have no experience with crossfire, although benchmarks seem to indicate that two 4850's would be better in most modern games than one 4870 (and older games would be fine on one 4850 without utilizing crossfire)

    Also, no one has commented on the 8-gigs of ram idea. Would 32-bit games run better in the 64 bit environment (with double ram?) I know that 32bit programs run through some time of emulation in 64bit windows which makes them use more ram, but going from the 3+ environment to 8 gigs might more than make up for that . . . or would it? Anyone try this?
  10. ^ Cooler and cheaper. If you really want to make it quiet swap out the fans to some Yate Loon ones or Scythe ones.

    Can't recommend 1GB or 512MB with out knowing the resolution you plan to play at.

    I know that 32bit programs run through some time of emulation in 64bit windows which makes them use more ram, but going from the 3+ environment to 8 gigs might more than make up for that . . . or would it? Anyone try this?

    Where did you here that? AFAIK that's not true.
  11. My current monitor is 1680 x 1050.

    I'd like the computer to be competitive for 2 to 2.5 years (by which I mean "play new games at usable/enjoyable settings, not maxing them out), after which it'll be time to upgrade again. I've had my current computer for 5 years, which has been far, far too long as a "gaming" computer. About the newest game it'll run decently is Half-Life 2.

    An example of the games I plan to purchase immediately: Flight Simulator X, World in Conflict, Stalker. Future: StarCraft 2, Train Simulator 2, hopefully a HomeWorld 3 . . .

    So, with that in mind, my question about graphics stands as:

    1) Should I buy one 512mb 4850 now, and get a second one as soon as I buy a game that requires it (unless you think that's now, according to the games I'd like up above), or

    2) buy a 1gb 4870 now, and hope it stays competitive for 2 to 2.5 years until I buy a whole new rig?

    Will having the 512mb graphics cards severely limit me within the 2 to 2.5 year time frame? I know this is a lot of conjecture, but even guesses are helpful.
    Also, correct me if I'm wrong, but my x38 motherboard choice is smart only if I go the dual 4850 route, and if I decide to get only one 4870 it doesn't really offer any advantages and I should go with a P45 like the above recommended?

    As a second note, should I purchase a second monitor for games such as Flight Simulator, would one 1gb 4870 run them better than two 512mb 4850s? And would the 4850's use crossfire across two monitors, or would each just run a monitor independently? This isn't nearly as important to my purchasing decisions as the one-monitor decision above; I'm just curious.

    on the 64bit issue: I'm pretty sure I read in on Tom's Hardware late this spring. I think there was an article about 8 gigs of ram and Vista 64bit.it
  12. Does the "Core Contact" come with the extra clip, or does it stress the MB?
  13. ^ Yes. it comes with the bracket:

    @1680*1200 go with a 512MB card.
    As far as X38 vs P45 goes the P45 will run at only x8 when doing CrossFire. This will only affect heavily at 1900*1600 and higher. Lower than that you'll only loose 5-6fps in most games. You may have come across P35 vx X48 benchmarks but those are with older drivers. Newer drivers usually solved this problem in most games.

    FSX is more CPU bound than GPU bound, one of the few games that benefit from a quad.
  14. midshipman wrote "I know that 32bit programs run through some time of emulation in 64bit windows which makes them use more ram, ..."

    shadow, think back. Remember when Intel wanted to design a completely new 64 bit instruction set that would emulate X86-32 bit instructions for compatibilty? Then AMD introduced their X86-64 bit CPU's and MS said, "We are not going to support two different 64 bit instruction sets."
  15. ^ Are you talking about IA64(Itanium)? That is a different 64bit architecture (Windows is available for that architecture see: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=B2DE4D8F-469F-4FB1-AC5B-804C5F4156D0&displaylang=en ). C2D,X2,C2Q,Phenom based CPUs are x86-64. And Windows doesn't need to "emulate" any thing to run 32bit programs on these CPUs. You CAN'T run IA64 OSes on x86-64 with out emulation.
  16. Perhaps emulation was the wrong term; I only skimmed the article and didn't pay close attention to the details, because it didn't concern me too much at the time.

    However, I am very certain that however 64-bit Vista works, a 32-bit program running in that environment required something along the lines of 30% more ram. So, my question is to those that have tried both 32-bit and 64-bit versions (or perhaps you can point me to some benchmarks or a review . . . )

    The question is: Do 32-bit games run faster in 64-bit Vista with 8GB ram, or faster in 32-bit windows with 4GB ram?
  17. ^Games that need more RAM will benefit from 8GB. Either way 4*2GB is pretty cheap.

    Btw, do you have a link to that 32vs 64bit thing?
  18. I found the article:


    Page 5 describes the "Windows on Windows" emulator for 32-bit applications in the 64-bit environment.

    from page 5 ---- "Again, the explanation is very simple: all of the variables are no longer only 32 bits long, but 64 bits instead. Typically, this makes applications between 20% and 40% larger, which consequently results in a higher memory footprint as well." - does 'applications' mean programs running in vista 64-bit, or just vista itself?

    Page 7 describes an issue with 32-bit applications only being able to address at most 2gb (4gb apparently with tweaks)
  19. ^ I believe that only applies to 64bit applications only.
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