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Gaming PC for $750

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May 6, 2009 11:55:01 PM

Hey all,
I'm a long time TH.com lurker, but this is my first post. I tried to find answers to my questions in current new build threads, but couldn't. So, I thought I'd just start one of my own.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Late May to early June.

BUDGET RANGE: I don't want to spend much more than $825, including tax and shipping, so around $750.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, web surfing, schoolwork (ugh).

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Mouse, OS (thank goodness for Windows 7 RC; I won't have to spend money on Vista for DX10 support)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Amazon.com, Newegg.com. Unfortunately, I live in California, which means that Newegg charges me tax and shipping. That, and the fact that I receive free two-day shipping with my Amazon Prime membership, means that even if Newegg's base prices for items are ten or fifteen percent cheaper than Amazon's, Amazon turns out to be the better deal. Combo deals with free shipping on Newegg usually give Amazon a run for its money, though.

PARTS PREFERENCES: Here's what I was thinking:

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 22X DVD Burner - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UW Black Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

GIGABYTE GA-G31M-ES2L LGA 775 Intel G31 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Hard Drive - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LITE-ON SK-1788/BS 2-Tone 104 Normal Keys PS/2 Wired Standard Keyboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Crucial Ballistix 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Acer X223Wbd Black 22" 5ms Widescreen LCD Monitor 300 cd/m2 2500:1 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec earthwatts EA500 500W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Creative Inspire T3100 2.1 2-way Speakers - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100259L Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

On Newegg, the total comes out to $873.24, including tax and shipping, but I know many of those parts can be found on Amazon for a cheaper final price (I was just too lazy to do that).

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, but probably only moderately and using a stock cooler.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe in the future, but I know the motherboard I listed above doesn't support it. The ES2L is just so cheap! It's hard for me to choose something more expensive when I know I can get a solid Gigabyte budget board for fifty-some dollars.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: I was thinking I'd get a 22" 1680x1050.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I have a 32" 720p Vizio HDTV that I could technically use as a monitor and speakers, but I know that it probably won't hold a candle to a good monitor in terms of image quality, let alone resolution. However, using the TV, at least for a while, would allow me to spend $200-250 extra on the guts, which would definitely make an appreciable difference. If I were to go that route, I would probably go for a Phenom II X3 720 or X4 940. Motherboard and RAM-wise, though, I have no idea when it comes to Phenom IIs, so you'll all have to help me out there, if you think that's the way to go. The AM3/AM2+/AM2, DDR2/DDR3 situation seems very confusing to me at this point, and I haven't yet had time to look that far into it.

I want this system to allow for some expansion and upgradability, but I am also on a pretty tight budget. I know an E5200 overclocked to 3.4-3.6 GHz can handle most current games without bottlenecking the GPU, but I also know that most game development houses have made the switch to quad-core processors (Valve just switched to i7 920s for all their design PCs, for example). What I'm afraid will happen is that I'll buy the E5200 and the solid but limited ES2L, only to have every single game that comes out from now on be triple/quad-core optimized and not have any way to upgrade and catch up.

Also, I know the new Radeon HD 4770s in CF outclass the 4870 512 MB, so switching to a full ATX mobo would help me out there, as would switching to a Phenom II with a 790X/FX/GX.

Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I thought it might be important for you all to see where I'm coming from. Any and all help you might render me would be much appreciated. Thanks!

More about : gaming 750

May 7, 2009 12:13:23 AM

First thing you might want to consider changing is your case and PSU to this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
same PSU as the one you chose and with free shipping this combo will save you about $30-$40.

I might also consider switching to a AMD setup since several AMD motherboards are compatable with AM2, AM2+ and AM3 which allows you to buy a cheaper CPU and upgrade as your budget allows.
May 7, 2009 12:34:49 AM

ausch30 said:
First thing you might want to consider changing is your case and PSU to this
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
same PSU as the one you chose and with free shipping this combo will save you about $30-$40.

I might also consider switching to a AMD setup since several AMD motherboards are compatable with AM2, AM2+ and AM3 which allows you to buy a cheaper CPU and upgrade as your budget allows.


I can get the Cooler Master Centurion 5 for $55, tax- and shipping-free, from Amazon. That, and the earthwatts PSU is the same price on Amazon as it is on Newegg, but without tax and shipping, so switching to the Sonata III 500 would end up costing me more.

As for switching to AMD, it comes down to cost. I can get the E5200, ES2L, and 4GB of DDR2 800 for $180 total, whereas a Phenom II X3 720, AM3 motherboard, and DDR3 would probably cost me something like $300. I'm not really sure if it's worth it, but tell me if I'm wrong.
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May 7, 2009 2:22:56 AM

My ~$800 build (newegg):

AMD Phenom II 720 BE

Gigabyte motherboard with a 790GX chipset

Crucial Ballistix 2x2GB DDR2-800

2x XFX Radeon 4770 for CF

WD Caviar Black 640 GB hard drive

Antec Three Hundred case

Corsair 650 TX PSU (same price as the 550 VX right now, with a better MIR)

Same optical drive as you have.

And you will be able to use DDR2 with a 790GX mobo. The only AMD mobo that requires DDR3 is the new AM3 790FX. The processor is worth the extra bucks IMHO; this build will dominate the config you have listed above.
May 7, 2009 2:27:04 AM

Sorry, didn't see that you had a monitor listed in the build above. I'd still go with a better hardware config for the computer itself; I run on a 21" Dell CRT and it's great. I like it better than an LCD, personally. As for speakers, just use headphones :) 
May 7, 2009 2:50:48 AM

d0n7bl1nk said:
I can get the Cooler Master Centurion 5 for $55, tax- and shipping-free, from Amazon. That, and the earthwatts PSU is the same price on Amazon as it is on Newegg, but without tax and shipping, so switching to the Sonata III 500 would end up costing me more.

As for switching to AMD, it comes down to cost. I can get the E5200, ES2L, and 4GB of DDR2 800 for $180 total, whereas a Phenom II X3 720, AM3 motherboard, and DDR3 would probably cost me something like $300. I'm not really sure if it's worth it, but tell me if I'm wrong.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Can you increase your budget? Adding an extra 200$ would help tremendously, as you could get a quad core, a better motherboard, and maybe a better GPU. Use the T.V for now, and when you can save up the money buy a nice monitor on sale. Otherwise, your rig won't last as long as you would like.

Spending more on the guts will make it easier to upgrade in the future (as long as that is) and will allow a huge performance increase.
Tell me if you can up the budget.
May 7, 2009 3:11:20 AM

if you're on a tight budget
you can get a cheaper odd(optical disk drive)
20x would be enough.

buy the other 2gb of ram later.

buy a smaller monitor( lcd and not smaller than 19" )

cut down on keyboards, mouse and speakers.

:D  just my two cents though
May 7, 2009 4:39:04 AM

Thanks for all the input.

If I were to go ahead and get the 720, do you think it would be a better choice to get an AM3 mobo with DDR3 for futureproofing, or grab an AM2/AM2+ and some DDR2 in order to save some money? Also, what are some good AM3 boards, and what are some good AM2/AM2+ boards?

Edit: In other words, will choosing an AM2 platform totally screw me over when new processors come out it two years and I want to upgrade?
May 7, 2009 5:11:49 AM

Suggestions:

Hardrive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

5$ MORE for 640gb instead of 500gb.

Case:APEVIA X-SUPRA G-Type X 39.99$
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

this case is very spacious! very good specs/great value for the price.


Ram - OCZ Reaper HPC Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

i've built friend's custom pc's w/these ram. run very nicely and are affordable as well. personally i've had 8gb of crucial ballistix fail on me, 4gb for me and 4gb for my housemate. so i am reluctant to use them again. plus, u save 4$


PSU CORSAIR CMPSU-650TX 650W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS 69.99$ AR
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


this PSU is better than the one you wanted to get, 650w compared to 500w and the same price.

honestly though, if it was me, i would spend a tiny bit more money (since you already saved some from my suggestions if you're going with it) for mobo.

you should look at the following.

Mobo - Gigabyte UD3P
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

one of the best and rock stable boards i've worked with. BIOS is very very very friendly!


May 7, 2009 9:07:09 PM

Thanks again, everyone, for all your help. I've decided Phenom II is the way to go. The upgrade path is just so much better, plus I'll be helping the little guy and reaping much better performance than the E5200 all-around. I'm going to start a new thread with the AMD build I've come up with.
!