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Budget (light) gaming computer w/ plans for upgrades - <$400

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Last response: in Systems
March 20, 2009 4:42:36 PM


I'm looking to upgrade my 5-year old P4 system (it's dying) with something cheap and somewhat upgradable, as I'm on a very tight budget right now. Currently, I'm a full-time student with not a lot of free time, so I generally use my computer for music, watching movies, etc., though I do play World of Warcraft regularly and plan to play games with higher hardware requirements when I get some money to spend (which will be not any sooner than Fall 09, I think).

So I was looking at IGP solutions, as I've heard good things about the 790GX chipset and I think that will be enough to play World of Warcraft @ 1200x1024.

Like I said, I do plan to upgrade my system later in the year with a better processor (looking at the Deneb Phenom II) and better video card. Here are the components I've picked:

SAMSUNG HD642JJ 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (Bare Drive) - OEM

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

Antec earthwatts EA500 500W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

BIOSTAR TFORCE TA790GX 128M AM2+/AM2 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz 2 x 512KB L2 Cache 2MB L3 Cache Socket AM2+ 95W Dual-Core black edition Processor - Retail

Okay, so altogether (there are a couple of bundled deals in there--the PSU and case and mobo and CPU are packaged deals), including shipping, it'll run me $375, which is an awesome price point for me right now.

However, I have some questions. I don't know if that RAM is the best for the money, as I've heard mixed things about its OCing capability. Is there any better DDR2 for $40ish dollars?

Also, should I be concerned about the motherboard? I've never used a Biostar board before and I'm a little concerned about the lack of regular PCI slots. Currently I use a PCI soundcard and a wireless ethernet adapter in my PCI slots and it looks as though at least one of those will be blocked by the video card. I'm not up-to-date on the sizes of newer video cards, so I'm not sure if there is enough space to have both of those cards installed when I install my video card. Looks like I might have to get a wireless USB adapter? Are there any other major issues with this motherboard?

Lastly, I plan to drop a quad-core in this system later in the year or, if I feel like I can wait, maybe next year. Can someone shed some light on how long I can expect to be able to use the AM2+ socket to upgrade my CPU? I realize I won't be able to use DDR3 RAM with this motherboard, but does anyone know how long I can expect AMD processors to support the AM2+ socket? Or is this a crappy upgrade plan on my part (i.e. should I get a different motherboard, etc? I don't know if there are any AM3 boards in my budget w/ onboard video right now)?

Oh, I forgot to add, I'm not sure if the case/PSU combo I picked is the best and cheapest available to me. I've heard great things about the Earthwatts series and that Antec case (last time I built, I picked a case with shitty airflow and I want to avoid that this time), so that's what I picked. Is there a better case or PSU available for that price point? I also forgot to add I plan to OC the processor and the RAM, and will try my best with the stock heatsink/fan initially.

Thanks a lot.

More about : budget light gaming computer plans upgrades 400

March 20, 2009 5:52:19 PM

Well I have heard these get recommended quite a bit and they have a little better timings than the ones you posted for $5 more mushkin
I have also heard lots of people using that MB

Also I heard good things about that case as well on a tight budget I'm sure its hard to beat.
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March 20, 2009 8:07:14 PM

Great, thanks a lot. I'll look into adding that RAM and hard drive.

Any input on CPU/motherboard choice? Has AMD said how long they plan to support AM2+?

Also, has anyone here had any experience with IGP before? The IGP on that board is listed as a Radeon HD 3300, and I used to play games on a 9800 Pro before it died, so I think it should be sufficient considering I still play the same games.
March 20, 2009 8:24:02 PM

For most games that are 2 years old or more, the HD 3300 on the 790GX chipset should be fine unless you play on a 24" monitor.

AMD will not be releasing any more AM2+ CPU's after 2009. They are supposed to be releasing a 3.6ghz PII CPU Q4 this year, which is going to be the end of the road for AM2+, after that all AMD CPU's will necessitate the AM3 Platform.

At your price point, the Antec 300 and EA500 is probably the best you can do for case and PSU.
March 20, 2009 8:32:06 PM

Shayan why not do this a slightly different way .

if your case/psu/HDD are all ok why not just add the biostar/720 be combo and the 4 gig of RAM . is $209

You wont need a heavy duty psu since theres no power hungry gfx card . and theres room in your budget for some of the other upgrades
March 20, 2009 8:41:52 PM

Cool. Hopefully the last AM2+ Phenoms are decent, because it looks like that's what I'll be stuck with.

The case I have right now is extremely cheap with horrible airflow. I've been ghetto cooling it (with the side panel off and a fan blowing on it) for a long, long time. I suspect the power supply is dying as well (though I'm not 100% sure on this), which is what is prompting me to spend some money on some new parts.

This time, I'd like to buy a decent case and a solid PSU to last me through several builds. Also, I do plan to upgrade the onboard video near the end of the year, and would hate to have to buy another PSU at that time.

I have a 160 GB Samsung drive that I could reuse, though I was hoping to plug it into my new system and run Ubuntu on it (running dual boot right now--sort of a hassle since Windows can't read EXT3).

Anyway, I would love to get the 720 instead of the Kuma Athlon, but I am on a very tight budget and don't see how it would be possible under $400. Are there any other sites besides Newegg I should be looking at? Froogle? eBay (always a little bit scared of ebay)?
March 20, 2009 9:05:56 PM

That is a pretty good deal outlander found...slightly better PSU, slightly worse case...but a 720BE/790GX mobo included in that price with case/psu/ram is awesome. not to say that the centurion 5 is a bad case though, its quite decent for what it is.