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Advice needed on building a gaming computer

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January 6, 2009 5:02:49 PM

I am looking to get a new computer in the coming weeks, and I plan to use it for gaming. I already have a 19" monitor that runs at 1440x900, and I won't be upgrading that just yet (although I might in about a years time). However, I do need some advice on what CPU, Graphics Card, Memory and especially what motherboard to get. My price limit is $1100 (roughly £800 as I am from the UK). I don't know how to overclock, etc, so I probably won't be attempting that.

I have built one up online and have come up with this build - would it be possible to get some advice on the pieces, and let me know if anything needs changing?

CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Golden Orb II
Chipset: Asus P5QL (Intel P43)
Memory: 4.0GB Corsair DDR2 800mhz XMS2 (2x 2GB)
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 4850 512mb
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
PSU: 580W Hiper Type-M Silent
Case: Antec Nine Hundred Gamers Case
a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2009 7:28:35 PM

Are you bringing anything over from a your current system? The list above is missing a DVD burner.

The HD 4850 is really well suited to a 19" 1400x900. But as you mentioned a larger monitor might be in your future.
So maybe a 4870 is a better choice of GPU? If you stick with the 4850 consider getting a motherboard with a 2nd PCI-e x16 slot to give yourself the option of 2x 4850 in Crossfire. GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3P £125

What online store are you shopping at?

The guys over @ BitTech made some recommedations for a system priced similar to yours.
What Hardware Should I Buy? High End Hardware

A couple of parts don't fit in with the other high performance parts:
CPU Cooler: Thermaltake Golden Orb II a design from 2005. Not the best choice for a 2009 quad core build.
PSU: 580W Hiper Type-M Silent Hiper Type M 580W review
a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2009 7:56:21 PM

For gaming, buy the best vga card you feel comfortable paying for. It is by far, the most important component.
In this case, I think you can get something like a 4870 1g, or a GTX260-216.
The Q9550 is a nice cpu, but for almost all games, the E8400 would perform better, and drive any single vga card nicely. Use the savings to upgrade the vga card.
I say almost, because only if your game is supreme commander, or FSX, then a quad is better.

You can save some more with a Antec 300 case, which is cheaper, and cools better. No "bling" though.

Look for a Xigmatek S1283 or similar cooler. They are cheaper and better.

4gb and vista-64 are good.
Related resources
January 6, 2009 8:14:46 PM

well getting the mid tower probably is better because I do get bit frusterated when building with small space
January 6, 2009 8:26:23 PM

Hi, thanks for the response.

I've been looking at three different places on the internet. The one I mentioned up there was built on dinopc.com, and the other websites I have been using are computerplanet.co.uk, and cyberpowersystem.co.uk.

I have found dinopc to be the cheapest of the three by a fair bit, however they don't offer many options in the case of the CPU cooler - the golden orb II was the highest on offer.

I had considered going up to the Intel P45 chipset for it's crossfire possibilities, but wasn't sure whether I'd use it, and with the processor I'd chosen was a little tight on cash. I was originally going to go for E8400, however I read in a few places that in the coming years games would likely be taking advantage of the uses the quad has to offer - so I went with quite a high quad on that assumption so as to not go wrong, as it were. Of course, I'm not entirely sure how true this comment is, so if you can save me money by saying otherwise I would be quite happy.

The Antec three hundred isn't a case I had considered until earlier today, to be honest, when I saw it relatively cheap on the computerplanet website. Is this a good case for gaming computers then?
January 6, 2009 8:33:11 PM

The items I didn't mention included are:

750GB S-ATAII Hard Drive
20x DVD±RW DL S-ATA Lightscribe

I also have a Creative Soundblaster PCI sound card I will put in from my current machine.

January 6, 2009 8:56:42 PM

Atempted another build here, see if this one is any better. Comments, again, would be great!

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper Z600
Chipset: ASUS P5Q 1600FSB (Intel P45)
Memory: 4.0GB Corsair DDR2 800mhz XMS2 (2x 2GB)
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
PSU: OCZ 600W Stealth XStream
Case: Antec Midi Three Hundred
a b 4 Gaming
January 6, 2009 9:40:08 PM

3103jake said:
Atempted another build here, see if this one is any better. Comments, again, would be great!

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
CPU Cooler: Cooler Master Hyper Z600
Chipset: ASUS P5Q 1600FSB (Intel P45)
Memory: 4.0GB Corsair DDR2 800mhz XMS2 (2x 2GB)
GPU: ATI Radeon HD 4870 1GB
OS: Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit
PSU: OCZ 600W Stealth XStream
Case: Antec Midi Three Hundred


Perfect!

January 6, 2009 10:20:12 PM

Definately check out Newegg.com, great prices and reliability I would not order from anyone else. For overclocking, some motherboards have easy to use software that you can use default or custom overclocks on. Very simple! I use the MSI K9A2 Motherboard.
a b 4 Gaming
January 7, 2009 6:37:35 AM

m1garand427 said:
I would not order from anyone else.
You might if you lived outside the US. New Egg doesn't ship internationally.

@3103jake;
I like this list a lot better with one exception. Cooler Master Hyper Z600 CPU Cooler. It's a passive CPU cooler - meaning no fans.
Now there are reasons for using passive CPU coolers, but not usually with gaming systems.
OK, you CAN attach one or two fans (bought separately) and when you do that it performs well in a gaming system.
Cooler Master Z600 review another Cooler Master Z600 review and from the Frostytech website: Cooler Master Z600 review
Just wanted you to be aware it comes without a fan. You'll want one for your gaming system.

Overall I think you'll be happy with the E8400/HD4870 (vs Q9550/HD4850) - especially with a 22" or larger monitor.
When you crank up the graphics options the GPU becomes a limiting factor before the CPU. The E8400 won't be far off the E8600 marks.

January 7, 2009 7:27:50 AM

what is left to buy the MB? What does your vendor offer. P45 is the sweet spot if you can get a ecent model.
The rest of the system should fit like a glove, good now with room to upgrade
January 7, 2009 9:39:51 AM

The choice of motherboards are:

ASUS P5N-MX S/V/L M-ATX 1333FSB (NVIDIA 610i)
ASUS P5KPL/1600 1333FSB (Intel G31)
ASUS P5N-D S/L 1333FSB (NVIDIA 750i)
ASUS P5Q 1600FSB (Intel P45)

I would probably go for the P45 out of that lot, the G31 is a bit basic, and I don't want to get an Nvidia board. This P45 chipset only has the one PCI-E x16 slot though, so I wouldn't be able to get crossfire at a later date, do you think this will be a problem or not?

The choices of coolers are limited on here. The good build up there was done on computerplanet.co.uk, and they offer these coolers:

Speeze QuadroFlow VIII - Low Noise
ThermalTake Blue ORB II - Low Noise
Cooler Master Hyper Z600 - Silent
Cooler Master V8 - Ultimate Silent Cooler
Professional Liquid Cooling Setup

Also, is the OCZ Stealth Xstream PSU any good? And if so, is it worth getting the 600W or 700W?

Thanks for all the help!
January 7, 2009 9:52:00 AM

I've built one here on Cyberpowersystem.co.uk with some changes (they seem to have more options when it comes to items). See if this one is better or not as good.

Case: CoolerMaster Centurion 590 Black Case
Extra Case Fan Upgrade: Maximum Case Cooling Fans for your selected case
Enermax Pro 82+ 625Watt Power Supply
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo E8400
Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme CPU Cooler
ASUS P5Q PRO P45 LGA775 Crossfire
4GB DDR2 Corsair XMS2 800mhz (2x2 dual channel)
ATI Radeon HD 4870 PCI-E x16 1GB DDR5 Video Card
750GB SATA-II 3.0Gb/s 16MB Cache 7200RPM HDD
Optical Drive: SONY DUAL FORMAT 20X DVD±R/±RW + CD-R/RW DRIVE DUAL LAYER
Microsoft® Windows Vista™ Home Premium 64-bit
a b 4 Gaming
January 7, 2009 4:09:23 PM

The Cyberpowersystem looks very good, probably the best so far IMO.

The E8400/4GB Corsair XMS2 800 RAM/750GB HDD/DVD Burner/Vista 64bit are all good gaming choices.

Radeon HD 4870 1GB should rip through any games on your current monitor and is an excellent match for any 22" 1680x1050 monitor.

Centurion 590 An excellent value gaming case. Cool and quiet. Lots of room. CyberPower offers a "Professional Cable Wiring" option that I like. It also includes high performance thermal compound on CPU for the Ultra 120 Extreme CPU Cooler.

Enermax Pro 82+ 625Watt Looks like an excellent choice for your system. Stable, quiet and efficient. Also meets the minimum requirement for 4870 Crossfire. (look under System Requirements) and ATI Certified List

Thermalright Ultra 120 Extreme Excellent cooling option. Another review: Editors Choice

ASUS P5Q PRO A good value gaming motherboard w/ crossfire option.


On the computerplanet options:
Basic P5Q with single PCI-e slot and 4870 would be OK, with possible exception of a future 23"/24" or larger montior. 24" 1920x1200 or 23" 1920x1080 resolution is about where a Crossfire is something you might want to have as an option. A lot of people with single video cards can get by fine with just upgrading to a single, more powerful future card.
Of the coolers you listed Cooler Master V8 is probably the best performance best value option CM V8 review
OCZ Stealth Xstream PSU; I would rate as acceptable for a high performance gaming system. And 600w is probably right sized for a future single card upgrade.
January 7, 2009 4:16:32 PM

I acutally would reccomend the gtx 260 (216 core version) right now. With nvidia releasing the gtx 295 and gtx 285 prices are dropping crazy mad on nvidia products. Get the same preformance as the 4870 gb 1. Acutally in some games it might even be better. They run hand in hand in most benchmarks. Just want to bring this to your attention that there dropping like crazy.

I also think you might want to pick up the asus p5q pro vs just the asus p5q. Both are solid boards but the pro is a little bit more repitable.

Everything else looks solid and it looks like you've done your homework.
January 7, 2009 6:57:14 PM

GTX 260 still costs a little extra compared to the 4870, and the motherboards seem to be a little more too (and less reliable from the affordable options) so I'll stick with the Radeon of which I've heard so many good things about this time round.

I think I'll most likely go for the cyberpowersystem build next week - the thermal compound and wiring is, as you said, also a great addition which the others don't offer for just a little extra.

Just want to cover one small thing. Corsair XMS2, G Skill PQ Series, or OCZ Gold are all at the same price for memory - I've heard they're all good, so would it matter which, are there any preferences here?

Thanks everyone for their comments and help again, I really appreciate it.

January 7, 2009 7:12:21 PM

I really think that all the ram choices you have selected are on the same playing field. Can't really go wrong with any of them. Good luck with the build.
a b 4 Gaming
January 7, 2009 7:28:41 PM

The GTX 260 might benchmark a little higher but you wouldnt notice the difference. So getting a Crossfire MB and SLI video card doesn't sound like a great idea to me when the 4870 and GTX 260 are so closely matched. And as you mentioned the price advantage could seal the deal.
If I were choosing between the 3 RAM option on offer, I'd choose Corsair. But I wouldnt complain if only gSkill and OCZ were available.
!