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Gaming System - Budget $1300 CAD

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May 1, 2009 2:01:25 PM

Hi,
I am looking to build a new computer and would like some input!

1. PC tasks:
- Mainly running multiple applications, watching videos, playing games
2. Budget: / 3. What country:
-$1300 +/- 10% Canadian (CAD) / Canada
Ideally if you built/price it @ this website here, that is local to me and where I will purchase everything.
So parts must be in stock at one of the locations. That will ensure no price fluctuations.
4. Brand preference.
-Would prefer AMD, ATI, Gigabyte or Asus BUT whatever is fastest/best deal.
5. Current parts:
-Already have a flat panel TV and various CRT monitors; can use those for the time being
-Already have speakers
-Already have external harddrives
6. IF YOU plan on overclocking or run the system at default speeds.
-Yes, overclocking would be nice!
7. WHEN do you plan to build it?
ASAP... Actually today!


Things I really want:
-Ability to upgrade later! Would AM3 be best?
-Overclocking
-Fast!!!
-Good graphics!!! To run at least 2 monitors(To be added at a later date), plus possibly my bigger flat tv(component, hdmi, svideo, monitor type plug-no dvi)
-Decent CD/DVD burner - Dual layer
-Nice inputs for various cards (mmc, etc) either usb add on, or a bay mounted style.
-Case/PSU should be at least decent, as the computer might be on 24-7, and is located in my room, and I do not want to go crazy/have to resort to turning it off.
-Wireless keyboard(NOT ergo) and mouse, something that works good, and does cost a fortune in batteries.

Where money can be saved:
-Monitor; I have my TV that I can use, and a few old crappy CRT monitors if I should skip the price of a monitor right now to not effect system performance. If there is money left in the budget (without sacrificing performance), then a monitor could be added
-I have a lot of external hard drives on a system running as a server, so you can go small as possible to save money with hard drives. Also later in the future(when I have more $) I plan to upgrade to multiple SSD drives in RAID if the MB supports that.
-Willing to use cheap ($20 keyboard/mouse) for the time being if a good wireless set is expensive.


Please, any help would be greatly appreciated!!
Thanks,
Dave
May 1, 2009 4:04:28 PM

No problem adding multiple SSD drives in RAID. To the system they're just another SATA storage device.

Using the website you listed and coming in at CAD$ 1252 without an operating system or keyboard/mouse:
Phenom II X3 720 Black Edition 2.8GHz AM3 $190
Scythe Mugen 2 CPU Cooler $50
Asus M4A78T-E AM3 DDR3 790GX AMD motherboard $190
Corsair 4GB XMS3-1333 DDR3 Kit $115
LG 20x DVD Writer SATA w/ Lightscribe $33
Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black SATA 32MB Cache HDD $90 - chosen for speediness - not capacity.
Sapphire Radeon HD 4890 1GB GDDR5 Video Card $330

Thermaltake V9 Gaming Case $120 (or Cooler Master Centurion 590 $90)
Corsair TX 750W Power Supply $134

I could not find a keyboard/mouse combo I liked at that website.
May 1, 2009 5:57:24 PM

Not bad pics at all. The AM3 is a very good choice...

Buying new systems isn't easy, so before you look at upgrades later, make sure this stuff will work in the long run....or the mean time.
Related resources
May 1, 2009 8:08:06 PM

+1 for WR2's build.

Next step: add a second HD 4890 when/if you need it.

There's a good Gigabyte board there too, but it's $35 more than the Asus in WR2's list.
GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX24000(ME).aspx

If you want a better CPU and can stretch the budget +10%, consider the Phenom II 955:
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX24175(ME).aspx
The Gigabyte board I mentioned will support it (but it may need a BIOS update).
http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Support/Motherboard/CPUSupport_Model.aspx?ProductID=3005#anchor_os
I'm not sure if the Asus supports it yet.
May 1, 2009 8:14:02 PM

I tried to figure out what you get for the extra $35 if you get the GA-MA790FXT-UD5P instead of the M4A78T-E.

You get 10 SATA ports instead of 5 (which is probably useless for most people, but personally I'd love it because I have 5 hard drives and two burners already).

You also get full 16x+16x Crossfire rather than 8x+8x, which doesn't matter at all when you have a single HD 4890 card. It may have a (smallish) benefit if you add a second card.

That's about it, as far as I can see. I can't really figure out which is best for you. You decide :) 

Edit: links for user reviews and specs. Note how both get very good ratings at Newegg in the USA.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128377
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131366

May 1, 2009 8:28:01 PM

@ Gen86dave...

WR2 has got it right but get memoryexpress to match NCIX's price on the 4890. They just started price matching that site and they have a better price for that card.

http://www.ncix.com/products/index.php?sku=37475&vpn=21...

It's for the sapphire one but you can save $20 if you do.
May 10, 2009 3:52:07 AM

Awesome system, thanks WR and everyone else for agreeing.

I delayed in buying the computer and I am glad!
The supplier where I am going to buy everything now has deals and combos on AMD Phenom II X4 955.

Check out the page right here
The price goes from $500 with the Asus M4A79T Deluxe to $464 with Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P
There is also another Asus board(M4A79) in between for $489

Would those be the best bet for processor speed wise/overclocking ability, or would an I7 be better?

I looked around and could not really see any games that interest me, so I just can go with something else that will handle all the video (HD video/multiple monitors) I run on 2 monitors.
I recently read about crossfire ATI HD 4770 that is good for the price/up to the task of gaming if I find something down the road.

But would 1 ATI HD 4770 be fine for watching movies/running multiple monitors to save money while building the system?

Also what these still be the best pick additional parts without killing a budget from the same website?
Still what WR suggested, or has anything changed?
Scythe Mugen 2 CPU Cooler $50 - Is this good enough for the 955?
Corsair 4GB XMS3-1333 DDR3 Kit $115
LG 20x DVD Writer SATA w/ Lightscribe $33
Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black SATA 32MB Cache HDD $90
Radeon HD 4770 512MB $124x2=$250(add second later)instead of Radeon HD 4890 1GB GDDR5 Video Card $330
Thermaltake V9 Gaming Case $120 (or Cooler Master Centurion 590 $90)
Corsair TX 750W Power Supply $134 - Is this enough power for the 955 and dual 4770 when I add another?

Thanks a bunch guys!
May 10, 2009 4:53:16 AM

That HD 4770 is about as fast as my 8800GTX. Except it costs 7 times less than I paid :)  It won't have any trouble watching movies or handling two monitors.

I'm extremely impressed with the GA-MA790FXT-UD5P because it has 10 SATA ports. Really fabulous feature for storing lots of movies.

I'm not sure if the Mugen 2 supports AM3. It does not claim to in the specs.

Yes the Corsair 750TX is perfect for dual 4770.


May 10, 2009 4:54:52 AM

Try www.ncix.com do price matches
get the $10 gift card and you get free shipping on entire order

Use sites like www.shopbot.ca and www.pricegrabber.ca

Best of luck. You can build a nice phenom 2 build with that budget. If you want spend a bit more and get the i7 d0 stepping.
May 10, 2009 11:41:44 AM

sassan said:
Try www.ncix.com do price matches
get the $10 gift card and you get free shipping on entire order

Use sites like www.shopbot.ca and www.pricegrabber.ca

Best of luck. You can build a nice phenom 2 build with that budget. If you want spend a bit more and get the i7 d0 stepping.

The place I am buying from will price match NCIX.

I would like actual part numbers/list that the store right beside me has in stock, I know it is a PITA. But I'd rather buy what is available locally, so that way the stores do not close and I HAVE to buy online.

So the above system, with something that will work on an AM3 processor and it is good to go?
I now plan on getting a $10 cheaper quiet/silent branded case with insulation (lost the shopping cart, have to find it again.)
May 10, 2009 12:26:50 PM

Scythe Mugen 2 CPU cooler is compatible with the AM3 CPUs and MBs - Scythe Mugen website That site also lists web reviews of the cooler. It looks to be a very good match for any of the CPUs you're looking at.

I think the 4770 is a great bang for the buck video card and sounds like it might be a great match if you're not going to be a serious, dedicated gamer. It's far above what you need for HD video and dual monitor support. And a single 4770 will let you have a good gaming experience with the most demanding games if you're willing to drop the resolution and graphics quality a bit.

Since you're looking hard at a dual 4770 system you can easily step down to the Corsair 650TX. Still plenty of power for 2x 4770 and a loaded and OC'd quad core system.

Maybe upgrade the 640GB HDD to the Western Digital 1TB Caviar Black (which is $25 off at the moment).

Phenom II X4 955 $320 / X3 720 BE $190 vs Core i7 920 $375: It's not an easy answer.
Phenom II X4 955 BE 3.2GHz vs Core i7 920 2.66Ghz - IMO the performance differences roughly match the price differences across all the usual computer usage tasks.
When you factor in the overclocking potential the i7 920 extends its performance lead a bit more.
The joker is that when you compare the X3 720 BE OC'd to X4 955 & Core i7 920 example

Sure, you can OC the X4 955 & i7 920 and they'll roar back out in front. But how much CPU power do you actually need? And how much do you want to pay for that CPU power?
X3 720 Triple-Core Black Edition w/ Asus M4A78-E $300
X4 955 Quad-Core Black Edition w/ Gigabyte GA-MA790FXT-UD5P @ $465
X4 955 Quad-Core Black Edition w/ Asus M4A79 Deluxe @ $490
Core i7 Processor 920 $375 and Gigabyte GA-EX58-DS4 $295 @ $670
May 10, 2009 12:38:00 PM

List the case you're looking at and we'll check for any possible CPU cooler size issues.

The THG X4 955 review is worth a read if you havent already gone over it.


May 10, 2009 9:25:33 PM

Great post again WR2.

The main thing I will be doing with the PC, is handling a lot of files, etc. I'm going from a dual core 2ghz AMD with 4gig of ram laptop(Asus 6930G), plus slow laptop harddrive. So basically anything over that will seem fast.
I just want as much processing power to not have to wait for files to unzip/unrar, etc.

Switching the graphics out (single, or double 4770) is not a big issue if I want more graphics power later.

Main thing I want is FAST. Fast starting, fast doing everything, no delays when running LOTS of programs.

If you suggest a lower CPU then the 944 because it can overclock easily and be faster, I am open to that too.

Main concern besides speed, is that the computer will be in my room, and the maxium amount of noise I would like to put up with would be similar to a laptop.

So this is the cheap silent case I found, I know it does not look nice, and is basically 'the worst' looking of all cases mentioned here, but the silent factor goes a long way with me.
Cooler Master Sileo 500 Silent Mid-Tower Case
http://www.memoryexpress.com/Products/PID-MX23165(ME).aspx

Hopefully it would be okay to use/not have any size issues.

If right now would not be the best time to build a mid/expensive CPU, I can downgrade everything a bit on the new system so it is better then the other PC I have and in the few months when new stuff comes out and everything else drops in price, make that new PC my old one, and get rid of my old one since it is so slow. (Max file transfer is 10MB/sec, usb or network.) That system specs are;
Athlon 64 (first ones out) 3000+ 1.8ghz
1Gb of ram
bunch of hdd's.

Windows runs okay, but it is slow for applications, and slows down greatly if I start multi-tasking.
May 11, 2009 12:51:08 PM

It looks like that Sileo 500 will handle the big 120mm CPU coolers. Here is a review where they used the Noctua NH-U12P cooler. It also points out the weakness of the case - it sacrifices some cooling ability for quietness. It's a trade off that might affect the ability to push your overclocking as high as you could in some other cases. You'll have to watch the system temps (CPU, GPU and case) and do some testing to see what those limits might be.

If a quieter CPU cooler is something you want you could choose the Scythe INFINITY Cooler. Its a few decibels quieter, with a few degrees less cooling, but still a good choice for a quad CPU overclocked system.

The old crystal ball doesn't give any hints that it would be better to wait a bit in hopes of a faster system.

A PC system will never be as fast as you want it to be. So we settle for "as fast as we can afford". Essentially, you pay extra for speed. It's not like a less expensive system won't get the work done - it's just not as fast.

Here is an option to consider:
X3 720 Triple-Core Black Edition w/ Asus M4A78-E @ $300 with CPU overclocked to 3.2~3.4Ghz
and OCZ Vertex 30GB SSD @ $215
Go through some of the NewEgg customer reviews on that SSD and see what other users are saying.
May 11, 2009 10:03:19 PM

Great info as always, thanks WR2!!

So revised system as of now:
Phenom II X3 720 Blk w/ Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-US2H Bundle - $249.99

XFX Radeon HD 4770 512MB - $124.99

Western Digital 640GB Caviar Black 7200rpm SATA II w/ 32MB Cache - $89.99

Corsair 4GB XMS3-1333 TWIN3X Dual Channel DDR3 Kit (2 x 2GB) - $114.99

Samsung SH-S223F 22x SpeedPlus DVD Writer - $28.99 - Is this okay compared to the LG? It is a couple bucks less, plus has no lightscribe, not that I will ever use that.

Scythe Mugen 2 CPU Cooler(Never seen the INFINITY cooler listing the CPU I am getting in the list, if it is okay to use I will change to it) - $49.99

Corsair TX 650W Power Supply w/ 120mm Fan - $124.99

Cooler Master Sileo 500 Silent Mid-Tower Case - $89.99

I would add a SSD drive, but I want to keep the budget low for the time being.
Will add a SSD, and another 4770 when I have some more cash.

If no one sees anything wrong with the above parts, I will get them as soon as possible.
The local store is sold out of a few items right now, so I will wait a few days/contact them if they still dont have them, and order off NCIX if they still do not have all the parts in the next few days.

Thanks a bunch!!!!!
May 12, 2009 3:17:55 AM

I just saw that the Scythe Inifinity CPU Cooler is sold out at your preferred source of supply. The Mugen 2 has a more powerful fan the Inifinity (and besides it's a bit less expensive). FrostyTech has audio samples of the fan noise. Inifinity vs Mugen ver 1. Im betting your case choice will cancel out any higher noise of the Mugen 2 fan.

The Samsung burner is a good choice.

I see you backed off an AM3 790 motherboard for a AM2/AM2+ 780 board which does not offer the option of adding a 2nd 4770 GPU.
GA-MA78GM-US2H is DDR2 and you still have DDR3 RAM in your list instead of DDR2.
A $60 difference in MB/CPU combo price loses the Crossfire capability. AM3 CPU in the AM2+ motherboard is OK but I think it might limit some of your future CPU upgrade options.

The M4A78-E is also a DDR2 MB - but its AM2+/AM3 and can Crossfire 2x 4770s. The M4A78T-E that I first linked is a AM3 and DDR3 motherboard. I didnt notice till now that the CPU/MB combo we've been talking about is the DDR2 version.

Here is a pretty good article about X3 720 overclocking @ Bit-Tech

May 12, 2009 10:26:46 AM

Dammit, I was just trying to go with something they had for a bundle, and I see you mentioned X3 720 a few posts up..

How about this one?

AMD Phenomâ„¢ II X3 720 Triple-Core Black Edition w/ Asus M4A78-E Motherboard Bundle
I know it is the same mother board model you mentioned, but when I search on that page it says:

Integrated DRAM Controller with AMD Memory Optimizer Technology
* A high-bandwidth, low-latency integrated memory controller
* Support for unregistered DIMMs up to PC2 8500(DDR2-1066MHz) and PC3 10600 (DDR3-1333MHz)
* Up to 21GB/s memory bandwidth for DDR3
* BENEFIT: Quick access to system memory for better performance.

Is that the right specs for DDR3?
Is that a mess up, DDR3 is not available on that board model?

If none of the bundles located at this page would be good in your opinion, can you specifiy the processor and motherboard that I should get?

I DO plan on upgrading to dual 4770's later.
I DO plan on upgrading the CPU later if necessary.
I WILL either add a SSD drive later, or when I build it, the reviews seem awesome.
I will upgrade to a more expensive silent/quiet case if you think that would be best for Overclocking/cooling.

I noticed a few items are out of stock, the 4770's included. No where else in town has them, so I will just wait.
I am going out of town camping on Thursday till Sunday or Monday and will either get the system in town after I get back, or order online if they are still missing some of the parts. (Might get a case in town if I do go that route though.)

Thanks,
Dave

edit: Is ddr3 that much better then ddr2? Also, is that memory that is selected good enough? Would there be much performance increase gained from spending more money on ram? Better quality(faster), or more amount?

Thx
May 12, 2009 2:35:03 PM

All I can think of is that the M4A78-E / M4A78T-E model numbers may have tripped them up (I know it tripped me up).
The Asus website doesnt show any DDR3 support for the M4A78-E vs M4A78T-E

DDR2 vs DDR3 is just about equal performance - hardly any advantage to DDR3. And any DDR3 advantage is minuscule compared to the much larger advantages you get in OC'ing. Going with DDR2 1066 with Cas/Latency @ 5 over DDR3 1333 @ CL9 should have no performance penalty and save $20.
Corsair 4GB XMS2-8500C5 $95 or Mushkin XP2-8500 Xtreme Performance (CL5) $100 would be my top 2 choices.

I do have a concern over the case Sileo 500 case and it's ability to keep a dual 4770 and OC'd CPU system cool. The 4770 video cards exhaust warm air into the case and not out the back like some other GPU double-wide cooling solutions.

Have a look at the Cooler Master Centurion 590 customer comments. I think it will be a quiet case especially when idle and it should give you a lot more cooling when you're gaming with a OC'd X3 720 and CF 4770.

Of the combo deals @ Memory Express the X3 720 / M4A78-E looks like the best bang per Looney to me.




May 12, 2009 2:45:22 PM

A review of the Cooler Master Centurion 590
Page 6, last paragraph:
"Both fans are incredibly quiet when connected to the mainboard. So quiet in fact, that I actually switched them over to the power supply, just to see if the sound stage changes at full speed. Even at full throttle these fans are whisper quiet - impressive."
!