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Average gaming system recommendations

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January 24, 2009 7:14:06 PM

I'm looking to build myself a new computer. I've been completely out of the PC news loop for 2 years, and so I'm a bit clueless as to what's good and what isn't. I'm interested in being able to play games like Oblivion or Call of Duty 5 without any problems as far as FPS goes.

I will be starting from scratch, and I'm looking to spend around $300 on the actual system, but am fairly flexible as far as price if I can spend $15 more and get a much better Video Card, for example.

Questions I'd like answered:

Is AMD or Intel a better pick nowadays?

NVidia or ATI?

etc

Thank you very much :) 

Esti
January 24, 2009 8:10:44 PM

@ $300, that will be a challenge. You will have to play those games on low settings. Most people would consider an average gaming system to be in the neighborhood of $900-$1000.

As far as AMD vs. Intel, Intel wins hands down for performance, but to remain competitive with them, AMD undercuts all of Intels prices with their chips and at $300 for the whole system, you will not be able to fit an Intel chip in your budget...Most people would consider spending about $300 on a cpu for a gaming configuration.

nVidia vs ATI is neck and neck, neither company is significantly better than the other. ATI has more cards in you budget range I believe...

For $300, you really aren't going to be able to build a "gaming system"...sorry but its just not going to happen unless you buy all your parts used from a friend or something. Save up for a few more months and try again.
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January 24, 2009 8:22:34 PM

+1

Sorry man, there' just no way to do this for $300. Try again when you have $700.
January 24, 2009 8:26:36 PM

That's what I thought. As far as price goes, ATI and AMD have always taken the cake. I've been a longtime fan of both.

What would you recommend as far as a motherboard/CPU combo? I may have to double my price range. I'm looking for a system that should run Oblivion on high settings alright.

If I remember right, the system I had before I left the USA for Italy was a 3500+ Athlon XP system, with a Radeon 8500xt or something similar with 16channels. I don't remember any of the details, except that it cost about $250 altogether for the CPU/Motherboard/Video card combo

[edit] I do remember that I was able to play Oblivion on almost all settings at max, and it wasn't choppy. So, if I have to go back to the system I had, I would do it again... but I'm looking for more. As reality hits, I'm willing to pay more.

Esti
January 24, 2009 8:56:16 PM

$400 something should do you fine. Here's a build that should play even Crysis(on reasonable settings) just fine;
e5200(OCs nicely on stock cooling to 3.3-3.5 ghz) = $73
Decent P43/5 motherboard = $80-100
4 gigs of nice ddr2-800 = $20-30(after rebates)
500 gig HD = $60
hd4830(can OC to around HD4850 performance) = $85 after rebates
dvd burner = $20
400-500 watt Antec PSU = $40-50
That's almost exactly $400 and the only thing it leaves out is the case. You can pick that out and decide what you want to spend on it yourself but you can get one that will be fine for as low as $40.
January 24, 2009 9:00:27 PM

All those prices are from Newegg btw.
If you want me to I can wishlist the components I would use for you.
January 24, 2009 9:15:21 PM

Can you provide me with links? You'd be my hero.
January 24, 2009 10:02:59 PM

Here;

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

I picked out a case but like I said you can change that if you desire(be careful with the shipping for cases, it can be pricey.)
The total is $460. Shipping is $31(to me at least) and there are 3 mail-in rebates totaling $55. In the end it's $436
If you can spend a bit more($20) the 640 gig caviar black HD is supposed to be very good.
January 24, 2009 10:20:02 PM

For an AMD build:

LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA Model GH22NS30 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAIDMAX Tornado ATX-238WR Black SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar SE WD3200AAJS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100265L Radeon HD 4830 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SeaSonic SS-350SFE 350W SFX12V V3.1 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-6400CL5D-4GBPQ - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Turion X2 7750 BE and BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard Combo
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Total comes to $502 Shipped

I chose a slightly more visually appealing case, that processor is easily overclocked because it has an unlocked multiplier. I also chose a good reliable PSU that should be sufficient, however it won't allow you to add much more to your system. The HD 4830 is so you can play most of your games on high settings, however not all games will run on all high settings with this card. If you wanted to later you could drop a Phenom II into this motherboard for a decent upgrade, but that will cost you about $230 and you might need a better PSU, like this one:
PC Power & Cooling Silencer PPCS500 500W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
January 24, 2009 10:31:48 PM

About the processor:
If you can afford it, Intel is definately the way to go, and I would suggest a core 2 if you can get it like the e7300. However AMD is much cheaper and with a restricted budget I would go with my build. But if you are willing to bump up your price range to about $600, go with jyjjy's build, but swap out the processor for a e7300 and get the WD Caviar Black 640 HD, and get that PC Power & Cooling PSU that I showed you above^^.
January 24, 2009 10:35:59 PM

Eh, that AMD chip isn't as good as the e5200 and it's more expensive. Also if I'm not mistaken the AMD black editions don't come with a fan/heatsink and you would have to add one to the build.
I do like AMD but on a budget this tight they simply can't be recommended at the moment unless you want to pay more for less.
As for that case it's $20 more has significantly worse reviews and personally I think it's ugly but that's a matter of taste.
January 24, 2009 10:45:25 PM

The only difference between the e7300 and the e5200 is the extra meg of L2 cache and on this budget that's not nearly worth the extra $50.
They are the same core and OC the same as well for the most part. Both should easily get to 3.3-3.5 ghz on stock cooling with a slight bump in voltage.
The Antec PSU I put on the lsit should easily power that system so I don't see why you would spend more there either.
January 24, 2009 11:34:47 PM

As far as the cases go, its just a matter of opinion. I think that Rosewill is unattractive and would pay the difference for the raidmax case, plus the raidmax will have better ventilation which is important if you want to overclock and get as much as you can out of the system.

The Antec PSU just isn't the same quality as the PC P&C. It only comes with a 90 day manufacturer warranty, that should tell you something. Plus after a rebate its only $10 cheaper than the PCP&C.

The E5200 is a pentium dual-core, while the E7300 is a Core 2 duo. Core 2 Duo's are better than pentium duals, and the price difference is worth it IMO for the beefier L2.

That AMD chip will come with an air cooler.

On the CPU's jyjjy you have good points and an intel build may be better here, but on the PSU I have to disagree. Cheap PSU's are cheap for a reason, and a cheap psu can fry your other system components, greatly increasing the amount of money you have to put into your system.
January 24, 2009 11:53:13 PM

You may have a point with the PSU but it's not like Antec is a no name brand or something. They have a very good reputation for quality cases/PSUs.
I was just looking through the PSUs and this thermaltake combo deal is pretty sweet;
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Great brand, 5 year warranty and the case + psu are just $51 after rebate. Using that combo would lower the cost of what I listed before to $410(but with an annoying 5 separate MIRs to deal with.)
January 25, 2009 12:15:17 AM

^That's a good find. I would buy another fan to stick in the front of that case for better airflow, then go with an intel build, either e5200 or e7300.

@Estiefu: How high are you willing to go on the price, since it sounds like you are willing to up the ante? The builds that we have put together for you are for very budget gamer systems. If you want an "average gaming system", then you should really look at spending more like $800. Your system would last you much longer and you would get a much better computer.
January 25, 2009 1:55:48 AM

Hmm. What would you say would be a High End Gaming System? As of right now, funds isn't the problem, it's time to get the funds =) I also have school to pay for, so I don't want to spend too much. I could jump into the $800's, but that would take a few weeks, and as I'll be working and going to school, I'm looking for a cheaper hobby. So far I really like what I see, but I trust just about anyone to know what looks and costs good.

Esti
January 25, 2009 2:10:00 AM

The only recommendations I would really make if you have more money to spend is bumping the cpu up to a q6600 and the video card to an HD4870.
Considering the price point and goals you stated when you started I don't really think it's necessary but that's up to you. If you have a large monitor/plan on playing at high resolutions then the better graphics card would be a good call.
That $400 build I posted really will play any game around quite well however and probably will for a while. It's also easily upgradable in the future if necessary.
January 25, 2009 2:30:51 AM

A high end gaming computer would be in the >$1800 range I would say.

Wait for a couple weeks until you have more money and then buy your computer. Up it to a q6600 or an e8500/8400 and get an HD 4870, and get 8 gigs of ram if your up to it. That will get you a machine that will last a couple years and play most games at high settings.
January 25, 2009 3:00:37 AM

e5200 is pentium dual core - by name only

The only real difference is..
E5200 - 200mhz FSB - 2mb L2 cache - Multiplier 12.5 - 2.5 Ghz
E7300 - 266mhz FSB - 3mb L2 cache - Multiplier 10 - 2.66 Ghz

Find some benchmarks that show how much faster the E7300 is, instead of saying it worth it in your opinion. Enable the OP to make a sound choice.
January 25, 2009 3:11:47 AM

ir_efrem said:
e5200 is pentium dual core - by name only

The only real difference is..
E5200 - 200mhz FSB - 2mb L2 cache - Multiplier 12.5 - 2.5 Ghz
E7300 - 266mhz FSB - 3mb L2 cache - Multiplier 10 - 2.66 Ghz

Find some benchmarks that show how much faster the E7300 is, instead of saying it worth it in your opinion. Enable the OP to make a sound choice.

go fly a kite. how about you find some meaningful benchmarks instead of just posting numbers.
January 25, 2009 3:17:28 AM

There is not enough wind to fly a kite right now. I will try it soon though, thanks for the suggestion. It's amazing how simple things like some wood and paper can be so much fun.
January 25, 2009 4:20:51 AM

I have seen benchmarks. The e7300 is clocked 6% higher than the e5200 at stock. They have the same cores and overclock basically the same* so that gets thrown out of the equation. The extra meg of L2 cache in real world performance is equal to about a 5-10% advantage for the e7300 depending on the application. Like I said earlier, not nearly worth the extra $50 imo.

*the e7300 is made with higher binned cores so if you get some serious cooling and plan on pushing it with the overclocking you might see some benefit once you get up to around 3.8 ghz. But perhaps not, it's pretty random.
January 25, 2009 4:31:23 AM

In any case, if it is at all possible to save up $800 for this computer, Estiefu you should go for a better processor like the e8400 or the q6600 and not bother with either of these two chips.
January 25, 2009 5:06:35 AM

Man, chill on the $800. He came in asking for a $300 system to play Oblivion/COD. An OCed e5200 + HD4830 can handle anything out there right now and should be fine for at least a year.
Swapping in a quad core later will be easy enough and cheaper as the prices come down.
January 25, 2009 6:24:56 AM

Estiefu it all depends on how important it is to you. I like having a good computer and the cost would be worth it to me to spend the extra money. An OC'd e5200+4830 will play most games at reasonable settings, but not all (this also depends on your monitor's resolution, bigger monitor=needs more power from your pc). If you just want to play oblivion and COD then just go with jyjjy's suggestion. But putting in more money now will give you a better rig now and an ok one later, as opposed to an ok one now and an outdated one later (which would be worth it to me).
January 25, 2009 6:43:33 AM

I'd go with an AMD system for budget gaming. The Athlon44x2 7750 BE Kuma (which comes with a HSF) out performs the E5200 at stock clock in most games and applications. When you factor in overclocking, the E5200 will often outperform the 7750, but much depends on what overclock you can get out of either CPU.
http://www.***.com/Home.aspx (look for the $600 system for benchies) I guess Toms doesn't allow links to Xtreme CPU

Here's a budget build using the 7750 in combo with a 790GX/SB750 motherboard that's crossfire capable and a HD4830 GPU. Cost of $454 not counting shipping or rebates. Yes, it cuts costs by using a Rosewill case/PSU combo, but it's still a decent budget gaming rig for the price ...OS, mouse, keyboard, monitor is not included in the price.

CPU - AMD 7750 Kuma
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Motherboard - Biostar 790GX CPU and mobo combo price $143 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case/PSU - $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

RAM 2x2 GB DDR2 1066 $45 (which the 7750 uses and the mobo supports)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GPU- Asus HD4830 $90 after rebate
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HD - WD 500GB SATA $65
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Burner - Liteon SATA $22
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Upgrade path of crossfire (questionable PSU for crossfired 4830s though), Phenom2 CPU supported by mobo.



January 25, 2009 3:45:35 PM

Here is an article directly comparing the 7750 with the e5200;

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2008/12/22/athlon...

You can just skip to the conclusion to get the end result. The article was also written when the e5200 was a bit more expensive than the 7750 where as now its actually cheaper.
January 25, 2009 4:02:40 PM

Good link, ty jyjjy. At stock clocks it shows the 7750 outperforming the E5200. Then with a 1.5 GHz overclock on the E5200!! (don't bet the farm on a beginner getting that OC) and only a .4GHz OC on the 7750 the E5200 kicks some serious butt. So stock clock, go 7750, accomplished overclockers would really benefit from the E5200.
January 25, 2009 4:55:16 PM

You don't need to be an accomplished overclocker to get a lot out of the e5200. Took me 5 mins to OC mine to 3.5 ghz on stock cooling. Just bumped the voltage up .1to 1.3v and the FSB to 280 mhz. It still runs quite cool. Could probably get it higher but I don't really feel the need and I figured if I was going to do so I'd get a better cooler.
January 25, 2009 7:55:42 PM

E5200 72.99
Rosewill case with PSU 29.99
ASrock g31m 47.99
Transcend 4 gigs ram 33.99
Western Digital 80 gig hd 34.99
Asus HD4670 79.99

Thats 299.94

Good Luck. I tried to find some decent parts but there a som questionable brands in the mix. You have a serious budget.

For 300 bucks, not counting shipping this might be the best i can put together.

You might have to borrow a dvd drive as i haven't got one.. I shared a dvd between 2 computers for a few months when I was in college... They used to cost alot more than 20 bucks ....

5 or 10 dollars would get you a much bigger Hard drive..

Alternatively, you could use the integrated graphics for now and pick up the dvd and a bigger hd. Then jump on a decent video card next month..

P.S.
I would not overclock this thing at all untill I got myself a decent PSU.. I don't know about the memory.. it might not overclock that well. This thing will play oblivion just fine at stock speeds. Overclocking really is for premium parts you can get lucky but I wouldn't count on it too much.
January 25, 2009 9:29:57 PM

Average joes comp is logical build. I did all the same for my missus pc except i put a ep35ds3l.better board i think
!