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Intel VS. AMD -- $400 Gaming PC

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June 1, 2009 2:02:01 AM

Well, one of my friends asked me he wanted to build a gaming PC, but had a $400 budget. After lurking around the internet and such, he sounded so sure he wanted an Intel/Nvidia setup.

Yes, Intel/Nvidia have the highest performance parts at the moment, but very little consideration goes into the price.
Me, being the AMD fanboy that I am (At least I admit it ;)  ) suggested him to make an AMD/ATI rig.

After searching newegg for a bit, I picked some parts to build this new system.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma 2.7GHz $60
Foxconn A74MX-K AM2+/AM2 740G mATX $50
Western Digital Caviar SE 250GB SATA $50
G.Skill 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 800MHz $50
Sapphire Radeon HD 4850 512MB GDDR3 $100
Sunbeam 680W ATX 12V 2.0 $50
LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA $25
InWin V700 5-bay Micro ATX Case (Black) $20
$405

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz $70
Biostar P4M900-M7 VIA mATX $45
Western Digital Caviar SE 250GB SATA $50
Crucial 2GB (1x2GB) DDR2 667MHz $22
Sparkle GeForce GTS 250 512MB GDDR3 $125
Kingwin 610W ATX 12V 2.2 $50
LG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black SATA $25
InWin V700 5-bay Micro ATX Case (Black) $20
$407


Shipping/Tax/Monitor/Speakers aren't included. All parts except for the cases are off of newegg.com, and no combos were purchased, so the price won't unexpectedly jump $200 next month.

Which will be the best decision and why?
Please mind the current performance it gives, upgrade paths, and the lifespan until it needs to be upgraded to play games again.

I believe his monitor is running at 1280x1024.

More about : intel amd 400 gaming

June 1, 2009 2:12:52 AM

Sadly the E5200 is the better choice....i to am a follower (my signature)...love AMD...

But for a cheap and high performance dual core the 5200 is hard to beat....but it definitely isn't going to last any longer than its big brothers from the 7 and 8 series either....dual cores are slowly losing the lead in titles that support tri and quad cores...

So if you wanted to you could get the AMD build...it will run any game other than GTA IV just fine...and later on upgrade to a phenom II chip....the 710 or 720...
June 1, 2009 2:27:12 AM

Seems true, but the upgrade path for the AMD system looks best, a Phenom 9750 would be a nice upgrade when games fully support 4 cores.
4GB of RAM will be useful in games like GTA IV/Crysis (haha) though, over the Intel's 2GB.

In lower taxing games though (We'll be playing some CSS and L4D) the Intel setup seems like a better choice at the moment.
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June 1, 2009 2:35:15 AM

Umm, slight problem, I kinda doubt that VIA chipset on a mATX board is going to deliver the kind of overclocks needed to make the E5200 shine.

Overall, a $400 gaming PC is VERY hard to do unless you can recycle parts. The $50 mobos are not the answer...
June 1, 2009 2:44:51 AM

I would prefer the AMD build, because for gaming you need 2 things: good video card and raw CPU speed. Games are not very multithreaded and are not very CPU-bound, so 4 cores or enhanced CPU technology will not provide you as much FPS as raw MHZs. And of course the 4GB ddr2 800 is nice... But I would prefer the GTX 250 as video card so if you need to cut money to have it just choose 2 GB of memory ddr2-667...

I would try too to have a dual core CPU with at least 3 GHZ, perhaps a Athlon X2 6000+? they are pretty cheap but still killer with games.

June 1, 2009 2:54:24 AM

DeadlyPredator said:
I would prefer the AMD build, because for gaming you need 2 things: good video card and raw CPU speed. Games are not very multithreaded and are not very CPU-bound, so 4 cores or enhanced CPU technology will not provide you as much FPS as raw MHZs. And of course the 4GB ddr2 800 is nice... But I would prefer the GTX 250 as video card so if you need to cut money to have it just choose 2 GB of memory ddr2-667...

I would try too to have a dual core CPU with at least 3 GHZ, perhaps a Athlon X2 6000+? they are pretty cheap but still killer with games.

The Athlon X2 6000+ is $20 more without forcing a combo, and the 300MHz difference doesn't justify the cost IMO.

OC'ing isn't going to be applied in this case, as stock coolers are involved. The tables might turn a bit now. :??: 

A $400 Gaming PC is possible though, these setups can play current-gen games at playable framerates.
Shooting for 30FPS here, not 60. :sweat: 
June 1, 2009 2:59:51 AM

ummm, don't try to make a $400 gaiming computer, you need a good PSU like Corsiar, Seasonic and such
June 1, 2009 3:05:05 AM

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June 1, 2009 3:21:09 AM

B-Unit said:
Went shopping...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139008
PSU: Corsair 400W

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138140
Biostar 790GX Mobo

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103300
X2 7750

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136113
250GB WD HD

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145184
2x2GB Corsair DDR2-800

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814121314
9600GSO 512MB

Totals 378.93 before shipping. Add your burner and case and the total is $425 before shipping, and this one will be upgradeable.


EDIT: Lots of replys while I was shopping. Dont get caught up in trying to make it awesome, its a $400 rig, your gonna have to skimp on the graphics card to make it last longer than a year. And I dont mean obsolescence...


This would be a good setup, but the one thing we can't skimp on is the video card, as it's made for gaming.

That 790GX would only increase the upgrade path to a Phenom II 940, and a Phenom 9750 would be fine for the future and would save $30 on the mobo...
400W isn't enough for a video card upgrade in the future either.
Would be perfect if the rig was CPU-oriented though. :sarcastic: 

Edit: RAM would be upgradable too, DDR2 will be ancient by then though. :lol: 
a b À AMD
June 1, 2009 3:33:01 AM

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
7850 + ASUS M3A76-CM AM2+/AM2 AMD 760G Micro ATX AMD Motherboard combo
$118.99
M-atx board fit in atx cases , and so long as he doesnt want to add lots of pci cards they save you money and work just as well

Maybe theres room in the budget for a 4850 ?

Article on anandtech comparing the 7850 and the e5300
http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?i=355...
Gaming performance of the AMD chip is better , but Im guessing that if both were overclocked to max settings the intel will be the winner
June 1, 2009 4:56:58 AM

I'd agree with B-Unit, VIA chipsets don't have overlcoking potential. My motherboard sucks for overclocking (crippled :lol: )
June 1, 2009 4:48:08 PM

k0unit said:
This would be a good setup, but the one thing we can't skimp on is the video card, as it's made for gaming.

That 790GX would only increase the upgrade path to a Phenom II 940, and a Phenom 9750 would be fine for the future and would save $30 on the mobo...
400W isn't enough for a video card upgrade in the future either.
Would be perfect if the rig was CPU-oriented though. :sarcastic: 

Edit: RAM would be upgradable too, DDR2 will be ancient by then though. :lol: 


Think of it like this...

If you blow all the money on a vid card right now, and have crap components surrounding it, its going to A) perform like crap and B) when upgrade time comes arround, you have to upgrade everything.

Granted, the PSU is a bit small in terms of wattage, but its a high quality unit and will handle up to a 4770/4830 without problem. Yea, you can get one that claims a higher wattage for less, but that PSU will be a lower quality part which will provide 33A of +12 across 2 rails, whereas the Corsair unit will deliver 30A on one. A single rail is better for stability and leaves no doubt about overloading. Basicly, marketing says the Sunbeam will be able to handle a bigger vid card, but its not true.

Essencally, yes, you will have to upgrade the graphics soon (i.e. in the next 360 days) but the rest of the platform will be solid enuf to last 2-3 years with some minor upgrades. (New CPU eventually, maybe more RAM, bigger HD)

EDIT: Forgot the capstone. In essance, you can spend $400 now, and then $400 again in a year or two, or you can spend $400 now and then spend $100-$150 in a year or two.
June 2, 2009 1:22:22 AM

B-Unit said:
Think of it like this...

If you blow all the money on a vid card right now, and have crap components surrounding it, its going to A) perform like crap and B) when upgrade time comes arround, you have to upgrade everything.

Granted, the PSU is a bit small in terms of wattage, but its a high quality unit and will handle up to a 4770/4830 without problem. Yea, you can get one that claims a higher wattage for less, but that PSU will be a lower quality part which will provide 33A of +12 across 2 rails, whereas the Corsair unit will deliver 30A on one. A single rail is better for stability and leaves no doubt about overloading. Basicly, marketing says the Sunbeam will be able to handle a bigger vid card, but its not true.

Essencally, yes, you will have to upgrade the graphics soon (i.e. in the next 360 days) but the rest of the platform will be solid enuf to last 2-3 years with some minor upgrades. (New CPU eventually, maybe more RAM, bigger HD)

EDIT: Forgot the capstone. In essance, you can spend $400 now, and then $400 again in a year or two, or you can spend $400 now and then spend $100-$150 in a year or two.


Well, the components surrounding it aren't exactly 'crap', considering that many games won't utilize more than 2 cores. :??: 
The corsair 400W is maxxing out now, as the 4000-series is this generation, and future video cards may even use more watts than this-gens, so there wouldn't be a video card upgrade path with 400W of power, even though it is very high quality.

Although the $50 boards aren't as 'solid' as a 790xx series, there won't be much stress put onto it since no OC'ing or SLI/CF'ing is taking place. The cheaper boards could still upgrade to a Phenom 9750 and a larger HDD, and 4GB of RAM should be enough for awhile.

In a year or two you could still have a good CPU upgrade, plus enough power to buy a new video card.
June 3, 2009 12:13:51 AM

Uhm, actually, why does the fact that 4000 series cards are out now have anything to do with a 400 watt power supply? Put it this way, I've got a 650 watt PSU, and it's decent, but it's 38 amps on the 12v+ rail, that 400 watt is 30 amps. So it's actually a strong power supply. I looked at both PSU's on newegg, and they don't list the amperages, so definitely check with the manufacturer's websites.

Also, this is a budget build, if you look, a lot of ATI cards actually use less power than previous cards. Prime example, look at 4770 almost the same performance as a 4850, but uses less power. Don't cheap on the PSU too much, if a PSU goes bad, could end up taking other stuff with it. Also, may want to consider a mid tower case for a little more room to work in and future expandability.
June 3, 2009 1:20:15 AM

That Athlon II looks interesting, and it'll OC without the SB750.
June 3, 2009 2:59:22 AM

Some may say this is a risky build, but keep in mind we are working with 400 bucks, according to newegg, with shipping it would be just under 430, but I think way better than most of your other choices here.

Just shopping a little.

Combo for case and PSU...note PSU is an HEC, so a little off brand, but claims to have 20 amps on 1 12v+ rail and 19 on the 2nd.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Phenom 2 x3 710

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ Memory 2x2 gb sticks, total 4gb memory

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


HIS Radeon 4850

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ASRock A780GMH mobo

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Main thing, is someone else check the mobo and memory, and chip to be certain they will work together, it should, but you never know. The PSU is on the cheaper side, but the specs look decent. I don't think much more computer is possible on a 400 dollar budget. Anyone have comments?
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