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Help Choosing Components for a Cheap, Desent Gaming PC

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February 4, 2009 12:35:34 AM

Hi everyone.

First, let me say this is my first time posting on Toms Hardware, so I hope this is question is in the right place.

That said, lets get down to business. I want to build a fairly high end, but still relatively cheap home PC. I would love to keep the budget below $1000.

I have a few specific questions: Core 2 Quad, Core i7, or AMD Phenom II x4? The AMD is cheaper, and its mobo options are cheaper too, but the performance isn;t as good as the i7. By build below is an AMD build.

Second, which power supply should I get? I think 600W should be enough, but I don't know which brands are good. I've heard of Silverstone and Thermaltake, but I have read some good reviews of the Zalman ZM600-HD.

Third, NVidia or ATI? I went with a pretty good Radeon because I won't use SLI of Crossfire, just one video card.

The last topic is somewhat trivial; should I get a CPU fan? I've heard good things about the ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED, but its getting kind of old. Is there a better option?

Any help you can give me is much appreciated. Thanks!
February 4, 2009 12:53:48 AM

You should start with the guide stickied at the top of the forum.

If this is a gaming rig, you can't afford an i7. You would end up with no decent graphics card.

AMD Phenom II is less expensive than i7 of course, but when you compare it to CPUs that actually match it for performance, and match quality motherboards from both camps, you'll find things about even.

You cannot pick a PSU until you have an idea how much power your system will need.
February 4, 2009 1:53:56 AM

Proximon said:
You should start with the guide stickied at the top of the forum.

If this is a gaming rig, you can't afford an i7. You would end up with no decent graphics card.

AMD Phenom II is less expensive than i7 of course, but when you compare it to CPUs that actually match it for performance, and match quality motherboards from both camps, you'll find things about even.

You cannot pick a PSU until you have an idea how much power your system will need.


Sorry, I just realized I forgot to upload my current build choices. Here they are:

-SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model SH-S223Q - OEM $28
-Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Case $110
-Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive $75
-GIGABYTE GA-MA770-UD3 AM2+/AM2 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard $75
-SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card $225
-ZALMAN ZM600-HP 600W Continuous @ 45°C ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready Modular Active PFC Modular LED Heatpipe-Cooled SLI Power Supply $150
-CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) $90
-AMD Phenom II X4 920 2.8GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX920XCGIBOX $190
-ZALMAN CNPS9700 LED 110mm 2 Ball CPU Cooler $54


Total on newegg.com:$995

How is this?
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February 4, 2009 3:54:53 AM

It's a starting point :) 

The motherboard you chose is a few generations old. It's not a great choice, and goes back to what I said earlier.

Let's look at two options from AMD and Intel:

P45 MB Gigabyte UD3P $135, $20 MIR
CPU: Q9400 $230
Total $365

790GX MB Gigabyte DS4H $135
CPU: Phenom II 940 $230
(You'll need a cooler as well with this one) +$30
Total $365 - We will just assume you would buy a cooler anway for the Intel build.


There you go. Two starts, equal performance, equal price. Both good. There should be a few more CPUs released that can go onto that AMD board for upgrades. There are already good upgrades available on the Intel build, but few if any more to be released.

Now let's look at saving some:

-There's a combo deal on the Antec 900 with the Intel Q9400 -$30

- You can get a far superior PSU for much less money PC P&C S75CF -$40

- Far better cooler for less cash Xigmatek Dark Knight - $10

That should keep you in budget. Whichever way you go, you will now have the option to crossfire a second 4870 in the future, as you have enough PSU and motherboard to handle it.
February 4, 2009 5:20:18 AM

Proximon said:
I just noticed some huge combo deals with the PII 940... you may want to jump on one of those.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Hmmm the board I listed AND the CPU together:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

This is a very high end Foxconn board combo... -$110!!
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...




Go for the Gigabyte board. Foxconn is right there with ECS for quality. Gigabyte has a much more proven track record for quality, specially if you're looking to OC.
February 4, 2009 8:31:01 PM

Proximon said:
It's a starting point :) 

- You can get a far superior PSU for much less money PC P&C S75CF -$40




Thanks for your help. I will go with the Gigabyte-Phenom II combo.

I do have a problem with your power supply; its not modular. I want a modular power supply because the Antec 900 has no wire management at all. It is a great case in terms of cooling, so I'm sticking with it, but I want to couple it with a modular PSU.

I do think my Zalman PSU was old and expensive. How are these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They both have high wattage. The RaidMax is cheap, but not 90Plus. The thermaltake is 80Plus but is more expensive.

Also, should I go with the ATI Radeon 4870 or the NVidia GTX 260 216 SSC? They cost about the same, but does either one really have better performance, cooling, or efficiency?

I think those are all the questions I have left. Thanks again for all the help.
February 4, 2009 8:35:39 PM

Just as a side note, picking up the HIS Radeon 4870 1 GB will save you around 20$ after the MIR. I got mine for 199 (with MIR obviously).
February 4, 2009 8:40:14 PM

The Thermaltake is OK. Honestly, if you want cable management buy that instead of the modular PSU.

Cooler Master HAF would fit the bill nicely.
February 4, 2009 10:01:46 PM

carrotinbelgrade said:
Thanks for your help. I will go with the Gigabyte-Phenom II combo.

I do have a problem with your power supply; its not modular. I want a modular power supply because the Antec 900 has no wire management at all. It is a great case in terms of cooling, so I'm sticking with it, but I want to couple it with a modular PSU.

I do think my Zalman PSU was old and expensive. How are these:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

They both have high wattage. The RaidMax is cheap, but not 90Plus. The thermaltake is 80Plus but is more expensive.

Also, should I go with the ATI Radeon 4870 or the NVidia GTX 260 216 SSC? They cost about the same, but does either one really have better performance, cooling, or efficiency?

I think those are all the questions I have left. Thanks again for all the help.


Good modular PSU for $80.
February 5, 2009 5:31:11 AM

Not a bad PSU. I would say similar to the 600W OCZ I sometimes recommend.

Still, for that amount you can get a TOP-NOTCH PC P&C 750W.


February 5, 2009 7:01:55 AM

Proximon said:
Not a bad PSU. I would say similar to the 600W OCZ I sometimes recommend.

Still, for that amount you can get a TOP-NOTCH PC P&C 750W.


Maybe top-notch, but not modular.
February 5, 2009 6:01:29 PM

If a PSU has "Max" in its name, it is a reference to the number of components it will take with it when it croaks. Avoid those like the plague.

Nice find by theAnimal.
February 5, 2009 6:23:39 PM

The Corsair HX series are very nice, but a little pricey.

CORSAIR CMPSU-620HX 620W ATX12V v2.2 and EPS12V 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $149.99 - $30 MIR

I actually have a 520HX and have been very happy with it.
February 5, 2009 7:58:11 PM

How much wattage should I have with a 1 GB 4870, an AMD Phenom II X 4, and the rest of my system listed above? Is 600W enough, or should I bump it up to 650W or even 700W?
February 5, 2009 8:03:47 PM

carrotinbelgrade said:
How much wattage should I have with a 1 GB 4870, an AMD Phenom II X 4, and the rest of my system listed above? Is 600W enough, or should I bump it up to 650W or even 700W?


Good quality 500W would be plenty.
February 5, 2009 8:03:56 PM

600W is enough. 750W would be enough for the system and two 4870s.
February 5, 2009 8:04:34 PM

That all depends on if you see yourself going crossfire down the road. The 620HX is plenty for a 4870 1GB and Phenom II build.
!