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3 Phenom II builds for gaming. What's the right one for me? (~1200$)

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May 14, 2009 1:14:11 AM

Edited 5/13: eliminated build 3

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP
BUDGET RANGE: 1000$-1250$
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming mostly
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: RAZER mouse, monitor 24''
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
OVERCLOCKING: If I can figure it out
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, but x2 card probably so no for mobo purposes
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

I’m going to present three builds that I’ve come up with (with help from my other thread).

Build 1:

Case:Antec Nine Hundred
109$

PSU:CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W
120$

CPU:AMD Phenom II X4 940 Black Edition
190$

Heatsink: Scythe MUGEN-2 SCMG-2000
37.00$

Motherboard:GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX
80$

Memory:G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500)(PC2 8500)
59$

Video Card: SAPPHIRE 100251SR Radeon HD 4870 X2 2GB
390$

HDD2,3 (Data, Raid setup):Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache
150$

Keyboard:Logitech G11 Silver & Black 104good gaming keyboard? Are there better at this price?
54$

OS: Windows 7 RC
0$

Total: 1187$

Build 2: (Differences from Build 1)

CPU:AMD Phenom II X3 720
140$

Motherboard: ASUS M4A79T Deluxe AM3 DDR3 AMD 790FX ATX
180$

Video Card:SAPPHIRE 100270SR Radeon HD 4850 X2 2GB
260$

Memory: OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Triple Channel
100$

Total: 1211$



I'd like to know which one y'all think would suit me the best for gaming. AM3 socket to allow for future upgrades w/ 4850x2 or AM2+ socket w/ 4870x2?
May 14, 2009 1:34:35 AM

Um for build three as far as I can tell that motherboard does not support triple channel RAM - I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure about it. In which case you need to get dual channel architecture DDR3 RAM like 2 x 2GB of RAM

You won't really see much bang for your buck with DDR3 if you have to pay more - like you will compared to that gigabyte 790X mobo deal that is on at newegg right now. However you may be able to transfer that DDR3 RAM to a future MOBO, although I think that is also not very likely if it isn't triple channel

Also if I were you I would check 2 of these puppies out in CF:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
from what I have read they run really cool. 4870 X2 is not a bad card at all though and should be fairly easy to resell to some noobs on ebay later on.

Otherwise the choice between the X3 and X4 really depends on how dear your money is to you. You only save $60 - but for that same money you won't be getting any added performance in games as of yet either. So that really is a judgement call you have to make - either spend more now and hope you will benefit later if games become more multithreaded later and you find out you need all that multitasking power, or save it and spend it on something else, making due with what is probably more than enough CPU performance right now for gaming. If you want to see more on what I personally think is good value and a comparison between systems and bang for buck going back 3 years check this: http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/264181-31-best-bang-b...
May 14, 2009 1:41:46 AM

Ya I wasn't sure if it was dual or triple channel DDR3. I was 99% sure that build 3 wasn't worth the extra money, I just wanted to make sure one last time.

As for the cards, I did a lot of reading on x2 vs 2x and there doesn't seem to be as much chance of problems with the x2 card. No possible stuttering effects from xfire, and you don't have to worry about the mobo supporting xfire & 16x vs. 8x 8x pci-e slots (I know the performance difference is negligible, but still...)

Whats your opinion on the advantage of the 2x over x2?
Related resources
May 14, 2009 1:50:57 AM

Well, really I can't say from experience, but from what I have read it sounds like microstutter isn't as much a problem on the new AMD 790 and Intel Core i7 boards. As for 2 vs 1X2, two cards require better airflow for cooling and the generally use more power. On the other hand they can give better performance in many cases. Check out today's TOMs article for example: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/geforce-gtx-sli,229...
Another great set of articles on this are the ones on multicard setups from anandtech:
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3517
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3518
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3520

So they both have their pro's and cons. The main question is do you need the performance? If you don't really need it - then I would suggest not spending more than $200-250 on a GPU because they are the quickest evolving component and DX11 is coming out. 2 x 4770's are great at 1920 x 1200, they use less power than a single 4890 and perform better when and where it counts. 4890 however is also a great single card choice. If you really need the performance of the 4870 X2 - then it is a good card so it should serve you well - but I wouldn't get it really unless you play at 2560 x 1600 or you demand playing crysis with all the eye candy cranked to max
May 14, 2009 1:57:23 AM

On the matter of the HDD's, set them up in RAID 0 if you want speed. Also from what I have read and heard form others the 640GB is actually faster than the 750GB model - of speed is an issue.

Also that is a great CPU cooler you chose - but on the 790X board I would be worried about it covering the RAM slots - have you checked the dimensions?
May 14, 2009 2:33:39 AM

You could go the i7 route if you wanted, its only about ~$1000 for a decent build.
May 14, 2009 2:50:56 AM

Build 1 is the smartest IMO. It puts more money toward the CPU (where it matters) and less toward the MB and RAM (where it matters a lot less).

Yes for the Corsair 750TX. The 650TX could do the job but it's not healthy to push it that far.

Yes the Scythe Mugen is great for Phenoms.


May 14, 2009 2:57:32 AM

drunknmunkys said:
dropped the velociraptor HD I had for OS and upgraded 4850x2 to 4870x2. good move?



Yes on both counts. The WD Caviar Black series offers 80% of the Velociraptor's speed at 20% of the cost per GB. I'd leave the Velociraptor for people who really need it. Just for gaming, it's not really worth it IMO.

As for the HD 4850 X2, I don't like it because it has poor cooling. They stuck 4 DVI outputs on it and didn't leave room for a vent for the hot air. You're better off with the HD 4870 X2, unless you have a very well cooled case and 3 or 4 monitors.

May 14, 2009 2:57:38 AM

What aevm said.
May 14, 2009 3:36:27 AM

I don't play at ultra high res atm, but the last computer I built lasted me for 5 years without replacing a single part (my radeon 9800pro video card finally died). That being said, I see myself buying a nice hdtv sometime in the next 2 years and I'd like to have to option of integrating it with my computer system and playing at 2560x1600.

Any comments in the OS?

aevm-

The difference between build one and two is basically the 720 vs 940 which seems to be tossup. The extra memory came with upgrading to Vista and hence not being capped at 3.2 gb or whatever xp is. I guess that just the following questions. Is it worth it to upgrade to Vista and get some more memory for the purpose of gaming?

Thanks again for the advice.
May 14, 2009 4:03:41 AM

You could get the Windows 7 RC, for free, and then buy Windows 7 Premium 64-bit (or whatever they'll call it) sometime before March 2010.

Or buy Vista Home Premium 64-bit. Either way you get DirectX 10 and access to all the RAM.

With an XP 32-bit and a HD 4870 X2 I suspect you'd see less than 3 GB. I see 3.25 in Media Center, but my 8800GTX has only 0.75 GB, not 2 GB.

So, for gaming, two things to consider when you pick the OS:

1. will your favorite games work just as well in 2 or 3 GB of system RAM as in 4? It depends on the game. Some, like Supreme Commander, consume enormous amounts of RAM and would care about the difference. Other games wouldn't care.

2. Will your favorite games look better in DX 10 (Vista or Win 7) than in DX 9 (XP)?
Some, like Bioshock, look exactly the same. Some, like Crysis, do look better.

Since you have XP already, why not put XP on one disk and Win 7 RC on another and see how each feels...
May 14, 2009 1:07:52 PM

Good deal, I'll do that. Any other comments on build 1 or am I good to go?
May 14, 2009 1:44:41 PM

you are switching the PSU to the 750TX right?

just to be safe, and if you have the spare cash upgrade the cpu to a 940, it will last you longer.
May 14, 2009 3:37:15 PM

Ya I'll get the Corsair 750W PSU. I really haven't read anything definitive on the CPUs. Seems to be a matter of personal preference. Quad core AM2+ vs. Tri core AM3. Although I guess if I don't get a AM3 socket mobo the 720 doesn't provide any upgrade potential over the 940.

I guess I could drop back down to a 4850x2 GPU and put that savings towards the AM3 mobo and the 720. I'm going to edit that into the builds.
May 14, 2009 3:44:47 PM

Edited the builds. now the price points are identical.

Basically comes down to AM3 socket to allow for future upgrades w/ 4850x2 or AM2+ socket w/ 4870x2?
May 14, 2009 3:53:17 PM

go for the am2+, am3 is pointless since it will be dropped in about a year.
May 14, 2009 4:07:51 PM

Switched the OCZ memory for GSKILL. Both won customer choice awards on Newegg, but the OCZ was double height and likely wouldn't have fit under the cpu cooler.

switched to 640gb from 750gb hdds.

Would it be worth is to pick up a WD blue 80gb hd for the OS for 35$?
May 14, 2009 4:29:23 PM

^ not really since it's probably 2 40GB platter's so it would be slower than the WDC's.
May 14, 2009 5:32:29 PM

@nerrawg-

just read your budget thread, very very nice! Made me rethink some of my parts, but I think if you exclude the psu, case, drives etc I fit into your upper value/midrange.

Thanks for the advice everybody, think I'm going to act on this tonight!
!