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Price/Performance Gaming + Media/Sound Editing

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February 4, 2009 10:03:05 PM

Hello again Toms Hardware Folks,

A year'ish ago I was starting to put a system together recommended on the forums when my budget went bye-bye unexpectadly. My budget isn't very large at the moment, but my current system (1.6 Ghz athlon, 1 GB ram, 16 and 160 GB HD's, GE Force 6000 something in the AGP slot) is starting to perform increasingly erratically, with BIOS settings changing on their own, the CPU and Video Card being recognized as "new installations," spontaneous power downs, and related goodies. I was looking to replace this a while ago with a 3.0 Ghz 8400 Wolfdale, a Radeon 4850, and I'm not sure what else, but since it's been a half year / year, etc. I wanted a fresh look at it.

To this end, I am beginning to prepare for a new system. I am looking for a system that can run games at medium settings (high is nice, but not a requirement), has low (relative to performance) power requirements, is quiet and cool, and can hold its own with audio and video compilation. This is designed for longevity as I can only afford a new system once every 5-7 years.

If you like, please review what components I have tentatively selected and make any recommendations you wish. I am fairly good at narrowing something down at Newegg and sorting by "most reviews," but I may be looking for something that is more than what I need or is inadequate for my requirements.

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3R LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard

I doubt I will need a crossfire/sli sort of system, both to cost and power requirements, but I would like something fiarly solid. The P45 chipset has been recommended for this in the past.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 Kentsfield 2.4GHz 2 x 4MB L2 Cache LGA 775 Quad-Core Processor

For the ability to multitask and ease video and audio editing, a quad core system seems to be the way to go. I am fine with leaving it at 2.4Ghz and stability and longevity unless there is a compelling reason to overclock it.

Memory: G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory

4 GB of Ram would be a great step up, even could only use 3GB of it for a while (assuming I reuse Windows XP unless I jump into Windows 7 Beta). Latency, voltage, etc. I don't understand very well, so this is my first guess.

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100245L Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card

I was very impressed by the showing ATI did when they released the 4850 and 4870 series. The 4870 looks to by heavier on the wallet and power requirements, while the 4850 does a great job with less of both unless I am mistaken. Are these two current players, or is my information a bit oudated? It will be great to move up to PCI 2.0 from AGP, so any advice hear is greatly appreciated.

CPU Heatsink: ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler

It has been recommended to get a seperate heat sink for the CPU and not to rely on the stock coolers so much. What do you think or this popular one?

Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive

Again, almost anything is a jump up from a 16GB and 160GB IDE drives. 7200 RPM seems to be a good price/performance compared to 10000RPM and Solid State drives. I may get a few others as time goes on if I need more storage room, but 640GB seems like a lot to start with. Any ideas here?

Case: Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

This seems to be the solid budget-build choice, at least as advertised. Any ideas here?

Power Supply: I'm not really sure about this on at all.

*******************

Thank you again for your time and your feedback.
February 4, 2009 10:31:00 PM

PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W

CPU: I would change it to Q8200, 8300 or 9300. They're faster and run cooler.

HSF: The AC Freezer 7 Pro is good, but overpriced. The Xigmatech HDT-S1283 is a better choice.

Everything else looks good.
February 5, 2009 1:03:51 AM

The HD 4870 is a better card than the 4850, but if you are looking at performance/price, then the 4850 is a much better choice, being $100 cheaper.

I would look at building a Phenom II x4 940 build, it looks like you are in that neighborhood pricewise. What is your budget that you are working with? The PII is better than the Q6600, and better than the Q9300 as well I believe...although its probably pretty close there.
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February 5, 2009 1:39:51 AM

I also would agree with xthekidx that you should look into a phenom 2 940, if you were to get that you would be able to upgrade in the future really easily buy just switching out the motherboard (since am3 will be backward compatible).
February 5, 2009 5:24:23 AM

xthekidx said:
The HD 4870 is a better card than the 4850, but if you are looking at performance/price, then the 4850 is a much better choice, being $100 cheaper.

I would look at building a Phenom II x4 940 build, it looks like you are in that neighborhood pricewise. What is your budget that you are working with? The PII is better than the Q6600, and better than the Q9300 as well I believe...although its probably pretty close there.


Q9400 is the same price as 940, and will outperform it while using less power and with lower temps.
February 5, 2009 6:55:31 AM

theAnimal said:
Q9400 is the same price as 940, and will outperform it while using less power and with lower temps.

It depends a lot on which angle you look at it. In games, the PII performs quite well, and more than half the time comes out on top. In many other things though the Q9400 wins. So you have trade offs, like always. Although since the OP doesn't appear to be a huge gamer, Q9400 probably is a better option (I skipped over the part where he says he can get by on medium settings the first read through :-/ whoops). But don't discount the PII yet. PII isn't selling the way that AMD hoped it would, so they have cut prices on it dramatically and you can find some pretty decent deals on it right now.

It depends a lot also on which reviews you read, some will put the PII 940 in a sandwich between Q6600 and the Q9400, others put it between Q9400 and the Q9550. I was just saying that the PII 940 is a viable option, but there may well be some better intel builds for the price.
February 5, 2009 11:10:02 AM


Hybrid Power and you!

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