1k Budget Gamer - Newb needs help!

Hey guys, I've read a few threads on building a new PC but I'm really overwhelmed with how much info there is right now. I was in to PC tech awhile back but haven't kept up on it in the past, oh, maybe four years and I have no idea what is good and what isn't on a budget. I copied the template to make things a bit easier for all you logical PC people :wahoo:


BUDGET RANGE: $800 - 1000 (I'll go over if it means I'll have more longevity)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming mainly. Nothing major right now; WoW is really all I play on PC (mainly because I'm running a very old system). But I would love to be able to play Bioshock 2, Starcraft 2, Alan Wake, etc and other games as they appear.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com. I prefer to use one or two sites instead of like 10.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I've always been a AMD fan. And maybe windows vista 64?





So I have three main issues I need help with. Remember I'd really like a PC that will be upgradable as time goes on. Not something that will be done for by Christmas. Longevity > Affordability

1. Amd3 or Amd2+? Is it worth it to go DDR3 and is it even possible with a 1k budget?! And if so, what sort of mobo do I get?

2. Should I use a single graphics card for now? What is a good single card (so many numbers and series! Ahg!)? Does it matter what processor I choose before jumping in a GCard?

3. Based on what Processor I choose, does it change my picks for hard drive, mobo, audio, etc?

Thanks a ton for ANY help. I know you probably get a ton of these questions but I'm a quick learner and would rather ask you guys (I used to visit this site frequently) than to just give up and buy a store bought thing which I'll regret.

21 answers Last reply
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  1. I'd try something like this:

    Phenom II 955 + GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X $325

    Sapphire HD 4890 $205 after promo code

    G.Skill DDR2-1066 4GB $59

    WD1001FALS hard drive
    Vista Home Premium 64-bit OEM ($100 IIRC)
    Corsair 750TX PSU - it's big enough to allow a second HD 4890 if you need it later

    Antec 300 or Antec 900 or NZXT Tempest or RC-690 case
    LG DVD Sata burner, or SH-S223Q

    All this should be around $1000.

    Upgradability: 1) add a second HD 4890 when needed 2) add 4 GB more RAM if/when needed 3) add more HDD drives as needed 4) it's AM3, AMD's latest socket, so a CPU upgrade should be possible in 2011 IMO if you want it

    DDR3 doesn't really add anything compared to DDR2, no worries there. It will save a few watts, that's about it. Not even enough watts to make up for the extra cost.

    Yes use a single but good graphics card for now. That leaves the second slot free for upgrades. Some pople would say use two HD 4770 cards now (about the same total price and speed as a single HD 4890), but that kills upgradability because it fills both slots.

    3. Yes, the MB depends on the CPU. The HDD doesn't. Audio - just try the onboard audio first. You can always add a sound card later if you wish. Most people don't bother with sound cards these days because onboard audio is good.
  2. ^ +1 on that
  3. AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674&Tpk=phenom%20ii%20955 $245.00

    ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

    OCZ Platinum 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory - Retail

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.193389 $206.98 - $20.00 MIR (Motherboard + RAM combo)

    SAPPHIRE 100269SR Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102830 $244.99 - $20.00 MIR (+ $20 off with promo code “VGA582”)

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319&Tpk=wd6401aals $74.99

    CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006&Tpk=750tx $119.99 - $10.00 MIR

    LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe Black SATA Model GH22LS30 - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827136153 $25.99

    Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042&Tpk=antec%20300 $58.95

    Total - $976.89 - $50.00 MIR's

    I would just use the 64-bit Windows 7 RC for now. If you want 64-bit Vista, you can get it in a combo with the HD and save $20.


    You could also drop down to the Phenom II X3 720 and still have a very nice gaming machine:

    AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103649&Tpk=phenom%20ii%20720 $139

    Edit: aevm beat me to it. :)
  4. ^ other than yours was AM3 which will last slightly longer cpu upgrade wise.

    Still won't last that long though since AM3 is going to be discontinued next year I think.
  5. Mine is AM3 too. But anyway, by the time a Phenom II 955 needs to be upgraded I suspect AM3 will be history, and we'll use DDR5 :)
  6. Don't think it will be DDR by the time the 955 needs to be upgraded, more likely QDR, or the cache's on cpu's will be so big there will be no need.
  7. Thanks a ton for the lists. I think I will stick with the 955. My only question then would be that aevm's build uses the GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P mobo, which doesnt support DDR3, right aevm?

    And shortstuff's ASUS M4A78T-E does. So I guess it'll just be my pref which to pick? AM3 works just the same with both boards? With the ASUS mobo being able to OC at 1600 right? Is that worth the price?

    I know aevm doesnt think so and from reading up on DDR3 I don't really see the point... My only priority there is that the 955 will work well in either mobo today and in the future.

    PS - NZXT Tempest is a pretty cool case. Nice find.

    What do you guys prefer, Windows Vista 64 or Windows 7? It is a trail though correct? So eventually I'll have to pay for something?
  8. Win7 64 will save you a bit for now so go with that, it will last you til march 2010.

    and am3 mobo's can take ddr3 to pretty high speeds, since the chipsets don't use as much energy as X58 chipsets and the cpu's support 1333mhz ram from the start.
  9. So how does one aquire Windows 7? And with it assume I can run games right? (lol no question is a stupid question!)

    So you'd go with the ASUS M4A78T-E (or something along those lines) and 4GB of DDR3 then I take it.
  10. ^ I wouldn't take an am3 board because halfway through next year they're replacing AM3, and if you can take amd's word for it their most powerful processor will be a 3.6ghz quad core, after that it's 28nm and a new architecture and socket, which will give you hexa and octa cores.

    so there is no point in going am3 at the moment because either way you're going to have an obselete platform. (but still usable as a gaming PC) And there is little gain between ddr2 and ddr3 except certain apps which like the high memory bandwidth.
  11. Right, the GA-MA790X-UD4P wants DDR2. There's some good G.Skill DDR2-1066 4GB for $59 at Newegg. It really doesn't matter either way. Sure, go with the M4A78T-E and DDR3 if you prefer. Just make sure whatever MB you pick has the features you want (# of PCI slots, # of SATA ports, e-SATA, FireWire, RAID, etc etc)

    Win 7 RC is 100% free until March 1st. After that, it will start shutting down every two hours. On June 1st it will stop working completely. You will be able to buy the commercial Win 7 in October, if you can believe the rumors (some Acer computers were listed with Win 7 and to be released Oct 23).

    You can run games with Win 7 RC. I've seen benchmarks showing it getting about 1 fps more than Vista 64-bit and 2 fps more than XP 64-bit, so yeah, it should be fine. (Of course, this assumes you find drivers for all your hardware. )

    How to acquire it:
  12. actually it might be a good idea to get vista64, since Win7 is just vista SP2 with some extra stuff added on top.
  13. Yeah I think I will get vista64 actually. I'll have to pay for something eventually, I don't mind spending it now and then I'll have a OS I don't have to worry about shutting down next year.

    Helloworld, curious what system you'd suggest, since you don't like the vibe with AM3.

    Considering I'm looking for a strictly gaming machine, essentially, I'm leaning towards the 955. But I'm an opened minded guy and very impressionable, lol.

    aevm, I'm liking the GA-MA790X-UD4P. I dont really see a reason for the DDR3, plus good sticks of it cost way more.
  14. AMD 940 BE
    A nice cooler, look on frostytech and choose one
    Biostar TA790GX, arguably the best oc'ing board for the am2+ socket
    Kingston DDR2-1066mhz 2x2GB
    XFX 4870 X2 if the XFX price cuts cut's have come on your side of the pond, ATM the UK price is £240 inc VAT so about $320.
    PCP&C 750w
    Antec 300

    That should just about fill your budget and if the price cuts haven't come then switch the 4870 X2 for a couple of 4770's or a 4890.
  15. The HD 4870 X2 is available at Newegg for $390, $400, $410 depending on brand.
    It looks like you guys in the UK are getting a better deal, for a change :)

    At these prices, I'd prefer two of the $205 HD 4890 cards. Same price, but better cooling and 4 DVI outputs instead of 2.

    Edit: OK, for this particular budget, a single HD 4890. A second one might cost $180 or so in 6 months, if really necessary.
  16. For the build of 2 friend's ~$800 dollar gaming machines (parts purchased last week, assembly this weekend), I went with the following:

    AMD Phenom 2 720 AM3


    2 x 2 GB of DDR2 800 (I grabbed the lowest timings possible at DDR 800.) <AM2+ and AM3 sockets can't use DDR2 at speeds past 800 in duel channel mode>

    Western Digital Caviar Green 1 TB HD's (They wanted space)

    One HD 4770 video card (Upgrade to a second one in future. They couldn't use long video cards due to their preference of a "smaller" case. Thus, this was the best option for them.)

    Cooler Master Gemini 2 CPU Cooler (Due to smaller case and light overclocking that will be applied.)

    The LG burner above, and a retail Lite-On burner for software.

    Vista Home Premium 64 bit

    (Note: Both power supplies had to be modular due to the case.) One got an "extra" Enermax Modu 82+ 525w PSU that I had. (Too small for your upgrade path, but perfect for their duel 4770 setup in the future.) The other got the "on sale" OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ700MXSP 700W. (Average quality, but good enough for these systems.) <I would use the Corsairs recommended by other posters due to your price range and video upgrade path.>

    Good 120 mm & 80 mm fan for their cases. (Again, small case requirement, airflow required.)
    In general, I would go with shortstuff's build except for the change to the Gigabyte board, DDR2 ram, and the Phenom 2 720 over the 955. (More money saved for that future upgrade of another 4890 and another 2 x 2 GB of ram.)

    Because, I must agree with the general board "feel" for the AM3 socket. AMD has to change sockets (and drop backwards capability) if they are to stay in the running (catch up) with Intel's i7 / i5 series.
  17. @terr281
    That sounds good. Except I would have used Caviar Black on a system with a single HDD. The Green is perfect as a second or third drive for storing movies and junk.

    The NZXT Tempest is huge. No worries there, it will fit anything.

    If you go with terr281's combination of X3 720 and GA-MA790X-UD4P, there's a combo at Newegg for that too :)

    Whatever you do, make sure you pick DDR2 for a DDR2 MB or DDR3 for a DDR3 MB. Too many options here...
  18. I'm thinking of going with the AM3 with a DDR2 setup. The tests I've been looking at don't put the DDR3 up much higher really, not for the extra boost in price for the mobo and ram. But I do like the 955, regardless if it's discontinued it seems like it'll be fun to mess around with.

    Thanks a ton for all the info. So many choices here in the matter of like a few hours, you guys are great.
  19. ihniwid said:
    Yeah I think I will get vista64 actually. I'll have to pay for something eventually, I don't mind spending it now and then I'll have a OS I don't have to worry about shutting down next year.

    Helloworld, curious what system you'd suggest, since you don't like the vibe with AM3.

    Considering I'm looking for a strictly gaming machine, essentially, I'm leaning towards the 955. But I'm an opened minded guy and very impressionable, lol.

    aevm, I'm liking the GA-MA790X-UD4P. I dont really see a reason for the DDR3, plus good sticks of it cost way more.

    If you currently have ANY MS os, then I'd use that. OK, maybe not 95 or me, but... I'd use the Win 7 RC if I currently had no os to mount, simply to save money. MS will not drop prices on Vista, until way after the release of Win 7, going by past behaviour, and will charge like a wounded bull for Win 7 at first. Perhaps by next March the prices will have dropped all around.
  20. I don't have the disc for the XP I'm running atm. I could download the Win7 RC then I guess. But its stable enough to mount on a fresh system right? Be a pain if I had problems from the get go because I didnt pay the $100 for Vista.

    So you download it and burn it and thats that? Anything else?
  21. Well, you should also go hunting for recent drivers on Web sites (ATI, etc). But yeah, that's about it.
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