First System Build for $850 USD

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Probably within a month or two

BUDGET RANGE: Around $1000 CAD, so around $850 USD.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Programming, and Surfing the Net.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, OS, monitor



OVERCLOCKING: Most likely, I've never done it but I hear its not too complicated

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe in the future

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Currently 1280x1024, most likely getting a new monitor (Probably 1680x1050)

Hi there, I'm planning on building my first computer as my current futureshop box is starting to show its age. I've been following along on other treads on the forum that meet my price range, and have some ideas for builds floating around in my head but would like some helping picking the system that is the best fit.

The computer is mostly a preemptive buy before starcraft II and diablo 3 come out, as I recently tried playing Dawn of War 2 with horrific results on my current desktop. So essentially what I am looking for is a computer that if purchased now will hopefully have the firepower to play SC2 and D3 when they come out. In addition to being able to play current games, particularly strategy games (like Empire Total War, Dawn of War 2 and have the system not grind to a halt when playing Civilization 4 into the late game).

I'll be reusing the keyboard, mouse, OS, and monitor from my older PC. I have Windows XP 32-bit, and will probably just wait it out until Windows 7 comes out unless you think there is a good enough reason to switch to Vista now (in which case it would have to come out of the budget). The monitor I'm currently using is a 17" with a 1280x1024 resolution, and I have been throwing around the idea of getting something bigger and will most likely get a 22" wide screen in the near future.

As so far I've looked at a number of builds that are based on the E8500/E8400 and Phenom II X3 720 that are in my price range. From what I've so far understood is that the two are pretty close in performance in terms of gaming, and that the 720 also benefits from the extra core which is a gain in terms of other applications and multi-tasking. I've been leaning towards the 720 due to its smaller price tag, which would help better fit other components into the build. I was curious if any of you knew if Visual Studio makes use of additional cores, and if all 3 of the 720's would be utilized.

If I go with the 720, I was also wondering what the difference was between AM2(+) and AM3 platforms besides DD3 memory. Also, if it is worth going AM3 for future upgradability or if it makes the most sense to stick to the AM2(+). Also, why is it that amd builds make use of memory DDR2 800 memory, where as 720 builds on AM2 make use of DDR2 1066 or higher.

I'm also not decided on adding another graphics card in the future for SLI/Crossfire, are there significant gains to be made for making use of two graphics cards? Adding a second card also increases the power requirements of the system, so it would be best if I could decide on this now and make a single PSU purchase and not have to buy a new one later.

The majority of builds I have seen either recommend using the CM690 or Antec 300. Are these the two cases that would be best considered, or are there others in the running for this price range? When I was looking into the two cases having the audio, USB, ect on the top of the CM690 looked odd, has anyone found this to be an inconvenience?

When I finally decide on a build I will be purchasing the parts through or, I hear that NCIX does price matching which sounds like it could be a great way to save some cash. I live in Ontario, and indicates that in the final price that sales tax (GST and PST) will be payed on my behalf at the border (included in the handling). Whereas on NCIX they only charge GST, does that mean I don't pay PST at all? Or would I somehow pay it here in Ontario when it arrives? Any info on this would be great, since PST is 8%.

Thank you all in advance for your assistance, and if you want to post any builds into the thread is fine.
6 answers Last reply
More about first system build
  1. :bounce: $68.99 CAD
    Antec Three Hundred Mini Tower Gaming Case 300 ATX 3X5.25 6X3.5INT No PS Front USB & Audio $79.99 CAD
    OCZ FATAL1TY 550W ATX12V 20/24PIN Active PFC ATX Modular Power Supply 120MM Fan 80PLUS Black $101.18 CAD
    Gigabyte EP43-UD3L ATX LGA775 P43 FSB 1600 OC 1PCI-E 2PCI DDR2 SATA2 HD Sound GBLAN Motherboard $151.98 CAD
    Intel Core 2 Duo E7400 Dual Core Processor LGA775 2.8GHZ 1066FSB 3MB Retail $59.99 CAD
    Mushkin EM PC2-6400 4GB 2X2GB DDR2-800 CL5-5-5-18 240PIN DIMM Dual Channel Memory Kit $239.99 CAD After Mail In Rebate $219.99 CAD
    EVGA E-GEFORCE GTX 260 Core 216 55NM 576MHZ 896MB 1.998GHZ GDDR3 PCI-E 2XDVI-I HDTV Out Video Card $89.99 CAD
    Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB 7200RPM 32MB Dual Proc 3.5IN SATA Hard Drive OEM 5YR Mfg Warranty $30.23 CAD
    Samsung SH-S223F/BEBS 22X Speed Plus Black SATA DVD Writer OEM $138.99 CAD
    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition 64BIT DVD OEM

    Total: $961.33 CAD *not including shipping/taxes and rebates

    *If you choose to stay with your current OS, then switch out vid cards in this build with this one below.... $309.99 CAD
    BFG GeForce GTX 275 OC 896MB GDDR3 PCI-E Dual DVI-I HDTV Out Video Card

    *If you plan on over clocking take a look at this HS below. It's a dandy at that price not to mention it comes included with great thermal compound. $31.92 CAD
    OCZ Vanquisher CPU Heatsink AM2 LGA775 S939 S940 S754 92MM 800-2000RPM
  2. I think you are on the right track at your price point with an AMD 720 .

    If its in the budget I would go AM3 and DDR 3

    if it isnt you wont lose much if anything by AM2+ and DDR 2 . Right now the major difference is the price but in 2 or 3 years I doubt there will be much DDR2 available . Its more a spares and upgrade decision IMO .

    Intel C2D's dont make use of memory faster than 800 mHz unless theyre overclocked a lot . AMD [ and now intels ci7 ] can use memory speed if its available . You can use 800 MHz memory with Phenom , but you get a slight performance increase with faster RAM

    For a 22 inch monitor look at 4870 or gtx 260 level gfx cards

    Cases with good air flow are vital for cooling highly stressed gaming pc's
    The antec is cheap and good if you are on a budget .
  3. Well I would go with the OP and Outlander on the CPU option...
    X3 is a better option than the C2D...
    Just change the mobo and the motherboard option of Why_Me to x3 720 + 790 chipset mobo and you are good to go...
    Look out for combo deals at you can save some cash there...
  4. ^+1. X3 is more bang for buck than the C2D for OPs needs.

    Imo, if OCing get a XIGMATEK S1283.

    It's worth the extra few $.

    I use/used both the S1283 and the Vanquisher, and the S1283 cools 5-8C better than the Vanquisher with LGA775 bracket on the S1283 on a E8400 @3.6Ghz.
  5. Hey, so how does this system look?

    Samsung SH-S223F/BEBS 22X Speed Plus Black SATA DVD Writer OEM
    Antec Three Hundred
    Western Digital Caviar Black 640GB
    Gigabyte MA790GP-UD4H AMD790GX ATX
    EVGA E-GEFORCE GTX 260 Core 216 55NM 576MHZ 896MB
    OCZ Gold XTC OCZ2G10664GK 4GB 2X2GB DDR2-1066 CL5-6-6-18
    AMD Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition
    Xigmatek Dark Knight S1283

    It comes to $1050 CAD if I buy all the parts as is, and after some price matching i got it down to $950.

    Will all these parts be compatible?
    Anything I should change?
    Also, have Blizzard games in the past run better on ATI or NVIDIA graphics cards?
    And what kind of thermal paste should i get for the CPU fan?
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