I have a quick question: which video card would suit a new build with a Phenom II 720 cpu and 4GB of RAM. The PC will be used for some gaming and a bit of music making, but nothing extreme. Basically the PC has to last me about 4-5 years, like my current one. I'm planning on overclocking the cpu a bit, but nothing extreme. I'm just not sure as to which video card wouldn't be a major bottleneck... My budget is about $200, maybe a bit more...
I'm aware that current parts will be obselete in 5 years, which is why I'm replacing my current PC. I'll only be overclocking a bit, I don't have too much experience with it, 3.1Ghz seems to be what most people get with air cooling.
I'm live in Belgium, and Zipzoomfly don't ship outside the US so I can't go for that. But I noticed that the prices for 4890's by pixmania.be are around € 190, much more than the$180, but much cheaper than they were a month ago (when I started looking for parts for the build). I plan on buying everything in about two months when I get my tax money, so hopefully the price will have dropped more.
Rather than build a pc to last 5 years it would make more sense to build one at lower cost to start with then upgrade the main parts in 2.5 years.
Get a good case and decent PSU as a starting point. The 720 Black Edition is a great, cheap chip too. Rather than buy a 4890 I'd be happy with a 4770 as that will handle most games fine at high settings. Unless you are an avid gamer always playing the leading titles you wont really notice much difference.
In 2.5 years you just need to upgrade the cpu, gpu and maybe the motherboard. What you lose in the first 2.5 years will be made up for and a lot more in the second 2.5.
I was thinking of doing that with my current PC, but the video card is AGP, and my harddrives are acting up, so I decided to upgrade everything.
With the new build I'm going for an AM3 mobo so in a few years when faster AM3 chips are cheaper I can start with the CPU and maybe get more RAM and a new video card.
The only things I'm not sure about yet are the video card and which specific mobo. Since I don't play that many games maybe I should get a 4770 (it's € 99 here so I think I will). The video card is always hardest for me to decide on...
Jason, it really depends on what resolution you plan to run at. If you're going to play at 1280x1024, you don't need as much graphics muscle or vRAM as you would if you plan to game at 1920x1200.
I have an X3 720 paired with a Radeon 4890 and I can play just about anything I want at 1920x1080 resolution with everything cranked to the max, and that is with the X3 720 running at stock 2.8 Ghz. (Mine OC's stable on air up to 3.6 Ghz with 1.45v, by the way. You should be able to get to 3.2 at least with stock voltage and stock cooler.)
Take a look at the various video charts posted here on Toms. Keep in mind what games you want to play, how long you plan to have the system, and what resolution you want to play at. Don't spend any more than you really need to for the near future.