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Low Budget Gaming PC build - help appreciated

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March 16, 2009 7:31:11 PM

Hello. Well, we've been looking to buy a new gaming PC for a while and so I've done some research. I believe I have almost decided on all the components, but I wanted to run it through you guys to see what you think. You seem to give very good advice :) . Budget is a maximum of maybe $600, but $550 or even $500 would be much better--the lower the better. No need for monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, etc... only the PC itself. Monitor resolution is 1680x1050 or lower. This machine is mostly for gaming, though it won't be playing many of the big name games like Crysis, etc. The only games that would be played in that category would be Call of Duty 4 and above (when they're released). I'd like to stick with Intel for the processor. Overclocking is something I'd like to try... to maybe around 3.5GHz (or any speed sufficient for gaming purposes--any suggestions?). Graphics card brand doesn't matter, only looking for the best performance at a price anywhere between $100-200. So all that said, here's what I'm thinking of so far:

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2.5GHz (I've read this is a very easy OCer and at a very low price) - $73
Cooler: XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler (bracket included in this price) - $29
MB: GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 (read this is a good one for OCing) - $85
RAM: Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 - $20
GPU: XFX GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB - $169
HD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB 7200 RPM - $50
Case: Antec Three Hundred - $60
Power Supply: OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $50
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $22

Total - $558 (all these prices are including mail-in rebates by the way---and are all from newegg)

So what do you think?

Some questions...

Is that cooler sufficient for OCing that processor? Or are there better ones out there at a good price?
Is that processor (when overclocked) going to bottleneck the graphics card?
Would it be better to go for a Core 2 Duo E7400 or possibly E8400 without an extra cooler and no overclocking?
Is 550W sufficient power for this build?
Is the GTX 260 Core 216 @ $169 a better deal than a Radeon HD 4870 512MB @ $180? Is the 55nm version much better to have for the GTX 260? Or would the 65nm be fine? Is this card too long for the Antec 300 case? Are either of these cards overkill for 1680x1050? I'd like it to last a long time. Would it be better to just go with a HD 4850?
Are all these parts compatible?
Is it at all possible to get a case smaller than the Antec 300 that still fits all of this and is efficient with cooling?

That's all of my questions for now. Any of your opinions and advice would be very welcome.

Thanks!
a b 4 Gaming
March 16, 2009 8:07:39 PM

Is that cooler sufficient for OCing that processor? Or are there better ones out there at a good price?
Yes. Yes to better ones too: HDT-S1283. Just use without a bracket to save some cash.

Is that processor (when overclocked) going to bottleneck the graphics card?
Yes, big time, in FSX. It will be all right, in most games.

Would it be better to go for a Core 2 Duo E7400 or possibly E8400 without an extra cooler and no overclocking?
Yes. An E8400 overclocked with the stock cooler will beat an E5200 overclocked with a good cooler. It's also less likely to fry because it will be closer to the clocks for which it is designed.

Is 550W sufficient power for this build?
No. You need 38A at least for that card, and you've got only 37A. Your plans to overclock will put even more pressure on the PSU. Sorry. Either get a 650TX ($75) or change the video card to something less demanding (HD 4870, HD 4850, 9800 GTX+).

Is the GTX 260 Core 216 @ $169 a better deal than a Radeon HD 4870 512MB @ $180?
It depends on the games you prefer. They trade blows in benchmarks.

Is the 55nm version much better to have for the GTX 260?
It would consume less and run cooler.

Is this card too long for the Antec 300 case?
It will fit. Barely, i.e. you'll have to give up some hard drives, but it's been known to fit.

Are either of these cards overkill for 1680x1050? I'd like it to last a long time. Would it be better to just go with a HD 4850?
The GTX 260 or HD 4870 will last longer than a HD 4850, but they cost more. It depends on how demanding your favorite games are. The more demanding they are, the more you need to spend on the graphics card. :( 

Are all these parts compatible?
Yes, except for the PSU/video card combination.

Is it at all possible to get a case smaller than the Antec 300 that still fits all of this and is efficient with cooling?
No, the GTX 260 wouldn't fit.

March 16, 2009 9:29:51 PM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... LG DVD Drive $22
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... WD 320GB HD $53
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Antec 300 Case $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Xigma CPU Cooler $36 - $10MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 4GB DDR2 800 $45 - $25 MIR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... 4830 $95 - $15MIR
$50 for the PSU you picked out

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite... Phenom II 720BE and Biostar 790GX $212

$585 - $40MIR

The 4830 is more than fine for what your doing now, you can add a second 4830 down the road.
Related resources
March 17, 2009 5:16:43 AM

Thanks so much for your replies!

aevm, do you think I should go for the E8400 or would the E7400 do fine overclocked? And do you think the stock coolers will do fine if I overclock just a bit? Like maybe... 3.3GHz? Or do you think they will be fine without overclocking?

I was worried about the power supply and that graphics card. I think I'll just downgrade the card instead of upping the power supply.

MykC, that hard drive link you posted went to a 250GB HD not 320GB. Is WD a better brand than Seagate? Also, the link to the RAM is for a 2GB (1GB x 2) package not a 4GB package.

I think I'd rather go for a 4850 instead of 4830. Is 550W enough for two 4850s if I end up going the crossfire route? I'll most likely just stick with a single card solution, but you never know.

Is the Phenom II 720BE a better CPU than the E7400 or E8400? And is that motherboard good? I see it has a graphics chip on it already.. will that not matter once you put in a 4850? Will I need the extra cooler with it?

So.. now with these changes, is it possible to get a smaller case that is as efficient as the Antec 300 in cooling, etc?


Thanks for your help! :) 
March 17, 2009 5:42:29 AM

Just an idea. There's a good deal right now for a Coolermaster case Elite RC 331 with the E7400 CPU that includes free shipping. At $150 for both they'll save you about $20+ over the E5200/Antec300. The Coolermaster doesn't have as good cooling and only 1 120mm fan, but it's a decent case.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

The P43 board you picked out does not support crossfire. Go with a WD hard drive.

a b 4 Gaming
March 17, 2009 6:45:00 AM

dzuk said:
Hello. Well, we've been looking to buy a new gaming PC for a while and so I've done some research. I believe I have almost decided on all the components, but I wanted to run it through you guys to see what you think. You seem to give very good advice :) . Budget is a maximum of maybe $600, but $550 or even $500 would be much better--the lower the better. No need for monitor, speakers, keyboard, mouse, etc... only the PC itself. Monitor resolution is 1680x1050 or lower. This machine is mostly for gaming, though it won't be playing many of the big name games like Crysis, etc. The only games that would be played in that category would be Call of Duty 4 and above (when they're released). I'd like to stick with Intel for the processor. Overclocking is something I'd like to try... to maybe around 3.5GHz (or any speed sufficient for gaming purposes--any suggestions?). Graphics card brand doesn't matter, only looking for the best performance at a price anywhere between $100-200. So all that said, here's what I'm thinking of so far:

CPU: Intel Pentium Dual Core E5200 2.5GHz (I've read this is a very easy OCer and at a very low price) - $73
Cooler: XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler (bracket included in this price) - $29
MB: GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 (read this is a good one for OCing) - $85
RAM: Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 - $20
GPU: XFX GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 896MB - $169
HD: Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB 7200 RPM - $50
Case: Antec Three Hundred - $60
Power Supply: OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $50
Optical: LITE-ON 20X DVD±R SATA Model iHAS120-04 - $22

Total - $558 (all these prices are including mail-in rebates by the way---and are all from newegg)

So what do you think?

Some questions...

Is that cooler sufficient for OCing that processor? Or are there better ones out there at a good price?
Is that processor (when overclocked) going to bottleneck the graphics card?
Would it be better to go for a Core 2 Duo E7400 or possibly E8400 without an extra cooler and no overclocking?
Is 550W sufficient power for this build?
Is the GTX 260 Core 216 @ $169 a better deal than a Radeon HD 4870 512MB @ $180? Is the 55nm version much better to have for the GTX 260? Or would the 65nm be fine? Is this card too long for the Antec 300 case? Are either of these cards overkill for 1680x1050? I'd like it to last a long time. Would it be better to just go with a HD 4850?
Are all these parts compatible?
Is it at all possible to get a case smaller than the Antec 300 that still fits all of this and is efficient with cooling?

That's all of my questions for now. Any of your opinions and advice would be very welcome.

Thanks!


Nice build! :)  Ok one change to make that build of yours work out fine with your budget. This card down below is right between the ATI 4850 1 gig and the ATI 4870 512mb vid cards....so it's like this: 4870 512 mb > gts 250 1 gig > 4850 1 gig. This card (gts 250) is a shorter card than the ATI cards and the NVIDEA gtx series cards, and it's a low power consumption card...which means it won't affect your build..sans your overclock. :) 

So I would keep that build exactly like you have it, (just switch out vid cards)....that heatsink will work fine for a nice overclock like 3.3Ghz @ 1066 fsb. Just bump up your fsb to (12.5 x 266). Also don't forget to add some thermal grease/compound to that build. MX-2, Arctic Silver, OCZ...etc....personally I like the MX-2...it's non conductive, and there is no set up time.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $149.99 ($134.99 after $15.00 Mail-In Rebate)
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $6.99
ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/913/1/ <--- gts 250 1 gig review
March 17, 2009 7:16:41 AM

Why_Me said:
Nice build! :)  Ok one change to make that build of yours work out fine with your budget. This card down below is right between the ATI 4850 1 gig and the ATI 4870 512mb vid cards....so it's like this: 4870 512 mb > gts 250 1 gig > 4850 1 gig. This card (gts 250) is a shorter card than the ATI cards and the NVIDEA gtx series cards, and it's a low power consumption card...which means it won't affect your build..sans your overclock. :) 

So I would keep that build exactly like you have it, (just switch out vid cards)....that heatsink will work fine for a nice overclock like 3.3Ghz @ 1066 fsb. Just bump up your fsb to (12.5 x 266). Also don't forget to add some thermal grease/compound to that build. MX-2, Arctic Silver, OCZ...etc....personally I like the MX-2...it's non conductive, and there is no set up time.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $149.99 ($134.99 after $15.00 Mail-In Rebate)
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card - Retail

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... $6.99
ARCTIC COOLING MX-2 Thermal Compound - Retail


So that card won't have any problems fitting in most cases? Because the Antec 300 case might be pushing the size we need just a bit. Any other case suggestions that are a good price and good cooling at a height of less than 18"?

So you believe that the E5200 overclocked won't bottleneck that graphics card? And if we upgrade the graphics card eventually, it'll still be fine? Or would it be better to go with a E7400/8400 so we won't have to upgrade the CPU in the future?

Question about overclocking: do you need to overclock your RAM too? Is that what the "@ 1066" is referring to? And would you know what voltage I need to use for 3.3GHz? Or does the 12.5 x 266 not require a voltage bump?

Could you explain to me what exactly the thermal grease/compound is? Is it some kind of paste that you put on the CPU somewhere? Or beneath the heatsink to transfer heat better? I really don't know anything about it.


Thanks again! :) 
a b 4 Gaming
March 17, 2009 12:52:41 PM

Get the best CPU you can afford. You get what you pay for, you know...

The voltage depends on the type of RAM. The best chips will work at lower voltages than others.

You put the thermal paste on the CPU, yes. The purpose is to improve the heat transfer between CPu and heatsink. Here's a guide:
http://www.arcticsilver.com/arctic_silver_instructions.htm

March 17, 2009 2:23:34 PM

I'm liking the look of the AMD Phenom II X3 processors. Does anyone here know if there's a huge difference between the 710 (2.6GHz) and 720 (2.8GHz) X3s? Can you overclock the 710 to be as fast as the 720?

Here's what I've put together for an AMD build so far:

(AMD Phenom II X3 710 2.6GHz Socket AM3) + (BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX) bundle - $194
XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $20
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $20
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB - $135
Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 250GB 7200 RPM - $50
Antec Three Hundred - $60
OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $60
Pioneer Black 20X DVD±R - $24
MX-2 thermal compound - $7
Total - $570

This is cheaper than the builds I've put together with the E7400/8400 and the GTS 250 card, but a tad more expensive than we were thinking.

I don't think we will ever put 2 graphics cards in this computer, so the motherboard doesn't need to support crossfire/sli. The motherboard bundled with the AMD Phenom II X3 is a crossfire board. Are there any other good non-crossfire AMD motherboards that would make this build cheaper?

Am I going to need an extra cooler with this CPU? Or will the stock cooling (with the MX-2) be fine for an overclock of 3.2-3.5 GHz?


Thanks again for your advice. :) 
March 17, 2009 7:39:08 PM

Nevermind about the AMD Phenom II X3 710 question... I see now that it doesn't have an unlocked multiplier and won't overclock near as high. So when I swap that out for the 720, the price comes to like $588.

I haven't found any better AMD CPU and MB combo deals than the one you linked either.

Any way to bring the price down to around maybe $550 and still keep relatively the same performance that will last a few years?

Do you foresee any price drops in video cards soon?


Thanks..
March 18, 2009 8:08:55 AM

Ok, here are two build options I've put together.

AMD build:

(AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3) and (BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX) combo - $212
XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $20
MX-2 - $7
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $20
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB - $135
Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm - $50
Antec Three Hundred - $60
OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $60
Pioneer Black 20X DVD±R - $24

Total - $588

Intel build:

Intel Pentium E5200 2.5GHz - $73
XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $20
GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 - $85
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $20
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB - $135
Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm - $50
Antec Three Hundred - $60
OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $60
Pioneer Black 20X DVD±R - $24

Total - $534


Which path do you think is better? The intel build is a much better price for us... I'm just not sure if the E5200 overclocked will bottleneck the graphics card or if it will last as long. What do you think? Is it worth the extra $54 for the AMD build? I need an answer ASAP so we can start ordering it.

Thanks.


P.S. On the AMD build, would the stock cooler work fine with an overclock of maybe 3.2GHz? That would subtract $20 from that build.
March 18, 2009 8:20:20 AM

Oh sorry... on the intel build that price is including the MX-2 thermal compound, I just forgot to put it in the build list.
a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 8:31:15 AM

dzuk said:
Ok, here are two build options I've put together.

AMD build:

(AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3) and (BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX) combo - $212
XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $20
MX-2 - $7
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $20
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB - $135
Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm - $50
Antec Three Hundred - $60
OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $60
Pioneer Black 20X DVD±R - $24

Total - $588

Intel build:

Intel Pentium E5200 2.5GHz - $73
XIGMATEK HDT-S963 92mm Rifle CPU Cooler - $20
GIGABYTE GA-EP43-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P43 - $85
Corsair 4 GB (2 x 2 GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) - $20
MSI N250GTS-2D1G-OC GeForce GTS 250 1GB - $135
Western Digital 320GB 7200rpm - $50
Antec Three Hundred - $60
OCZ Fatal1ty OCZ550FTY 550W - $60
Pioneer Black 20X DVD±R - $24

Total - $534


Which path do you think is better? The intel build is a much better price for us... I'm just not sure if the E5200 overclocked will bottleneck the graphics card or if it will last as long. What do you think? Is it worth the extra $54 for the AMD build? I need an answer ASAP so we can start ordering it.

Thanks.


P.S. On the AMD build, would the stock cooler work fine with an overclock of maybe 3.2GHz? That would subtract $20 from that build.


If you replace the E5200 with the E7400 you have a total price of $581. That's $1 less for the Intel build and it's going to out perform that AMD build...especially if you do the most simplest of over clocks with that cpu. Boost it up to 3.5GHz @ 1333 fsb (10.5 x 333) just by moving up your front side bus. This O/C only takes but a few minutes to do and yo won't have to mess much if any with your voltage.

Intel w/E7400 ftw. :) 
March 18, 2009 9:53:48 AM

Thanks for your reply. I'll go with the Intel build w/E7400. :) 

Thanks very much everyone.
a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 10:25:48 AM

aevm said:

Is it at all possible to get a case smaller than the Antec 300 that still fits all of this and is efficient with cooling?
No, the GTX 260 wouldn't fit.


I have a different opinion .
Have a look at the Silverstone TJ 08 . Its a micro ATX case, so no full size ATX motherboards , but it will take any gfx card .
The cons are very limited space for hard drives , and needing very small hands to reach in to very tight spaces
Cooling is good thanks to the small internal volume and good sized fans .

a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 10:30:56 AM



Why_Me said:
If you replace the E5200 with the E7400 you have a total price of $581. That's $1 less for the Intel build and it's going to out perform that AMD build...especially if you do the most simplest of over clocks with that cpu. Boost it up to 3.5GHz @ 1333 fsb (10.5 x 333) just by moving up your front side bus. This O/C only takes but a few minutes to do and yo won't have to mess much if any with your voltage.

Intel w/E7400 ftw. :) 



thats just wrong .
The 720 be is giving better results in some games than an e8500 . The e7400 would be a very distant second out of those two builds at stock speeds .
The 720 be also overclocks , and since its multiplier unlocked it overclocks easier than the intel
a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 10:41:49 AM

Outlander_04 said:
thats just wrong .
The 720 be is giving better results in some games than an e8500 . The e7400 would be a very distant second out of those two builds at stock speeds .
The 720 be also overclocks , and since its multiplier unlocked it overclocks easier than the intel


http://www.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/cpu/article.php/3... <==== It has a slight edge over the E7300, not the E7400. And I would love to see the test results with that AMD over clocked against a over clocked E7400.
March 18, 2009 10:43:31 AM

So you're saying that the 720 overclocked will be superior to the E7400 overclocked?

And for that microATX case, do you have any recommended motherboards that are a very good price and will overclock well? That case is $40 more than the Antec 300... so unless there are cheaper microATX motherboards out there, I think I'll stick with the Antec 300.

I'd really like to decide on something soon. I keep changing my mind. lol.
a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 10:55:05 AM



Why_Me said:
http://www.sharkyextreme.com/hardware/cpu/article.php/3... <==== It has a slight edge over the E7300, not the E7400. And I would love to see the test results with that AMD over clocked against a over clocked E7400.



There are benchmarks and there are benchmarks . The sharkyextreme ones use a resolution that no one will be using any time soon and it skews the results stupidly .

A better comparison is on this site
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/socket-am3-phenom,2...

The 720 be out performs the e8500 [and ci7 920 ] at 1920 x 1200 in both Crysis and far Cry 2 when its stressed by high quality and high resolution


And yes its multiplier unlocked . One figure to change in bios . 30 seconds . Overclocked
a b 4 Gaming
March 18, 2009 11:00:57 AM



dzuk said:
So you're saying that the 720 overclocked will be superior to the E7400 overclocked?

And for that microATX case, do you have any recommended motherboards that are a very good price and will overclock well? That case is $40 more than the Antec 300... so unless there are cheaper microATX motherboards out there, I think I'll stick with the Antec 300.

I'd really like to decide on something soon. I keep changing my mind. lol.


I have an overclocked e7300 . Its a great cpu , and it does overclock well ... but it is not as good as the Phenom 720 be at stock or overclocked speed

I also have the TJ 08 and its brilliant , but there are some compromises . Its really hard work assembling . Theres not much space , and I cant upgrade to a full size mb without replacing it too

The Antec 300 is only a little bigger and and is an excellent case too .
March 18, 2009 11:01:19 AM

I am looking for an easy overclock, so the 720 with the AMD Overdrive utility looks nice. But if the E7400 overclocks and outperforms the 720 overclocked, I'm willing to have a go with overclocking from BIOS. Both builds are pretty much the same price, so I'll go with whichever performs better. Anybody else have opinions on this?

Thanks.
March 18, 2009 11:03:59 AM

Or is the Overdrive not as good as doing it from the BIOS? Most likely not... but anyways, that's not my deciding factor.
a b 4 Gaming
May 2, 2009 9:33:40 AM

binwhui said:
hey check refer to this article
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/multi-core-cpu,2280...

if you go for phenom II 720 be pair it with a gtx260
if e7400 then go with a lesser gpu, say gts250 512mb..


Why would you pair the E7400 with a lesser gpu ? That makes about ZERO sense.
!