This is being built for a friend of mine. He doesn't need the best FPS rates, or the highest resolutions, but wants to be able to play games without a huge price tag. If I missed something, or theres something that would fit better, please let me know.
I am no an expert as many others in these forums, but I figured I give my 2 cents since I did some upgrades to my own gaming system.
The PII X3 is great, I got one for myself. I run it at 3.2GHz with original heatsink and fan. Later I might get a better sink for more overclocking.
I got a XFX GeForce GTX 260 Black edition @ core clock 666MHz. It ran $199 (incl MIR) from tigerdirect.com. I can crank up the speed to 690 MHz (with equivalent increases to shaders etc) and it runs fine. This adds a couple of FPS.
Maybe this could be an option for you.
I got regular Crucial DDR2-800 in this system. For some reason, I never noticed any difference in FPS when trying DDR2-1066.
Regarding FPS, I ran some benchmarks using FarCry2 and I actually exceed the results in some articles I read.
For instance: FC2 Very High Quality, 1920x1200, 4x AA = 54 FPS
This is very playable, I think.
Thanks for the advice guys, I'll defiantly be making some changes based on your suggestions.
As for the case, I went with the CM 690 because it's one of the bigger mid-tower boxes available. He didn't want a full, which is what I usually get, so I figured this was a fairly inexpensive alternative.
For a gaming system, start with the most important component; the vga card.
I like drunknmonkey's suggestion of a XFX 4890 at $200.
At a clock rate of 3.0 or better, the vga card is much more important for gaming than the cpu.
At that level, overclocking is good for bragging, but it will not net you as much increase
in FPS as a better vga card will. Today, very few games can make use of more than two cores.
Flight simulator X and supreme commander are exceptions. It is not a trivial matter to code multi threaded programs,
and game vendors will not sell too many games that require quads to run.
I don't see this changing in the next couple of years.
Net: a faster duo like the E8400 @ 167 or E7600 @149 for the increased clock speed.
You can get a basic P45 motherboard from Asus or Gigabyte for <$95.
You can get a quality kit of 4gb(2x2gb) DDR2-800 ram for <$50. Less after some rebate deals.
This combo totals $294 to $312 which is less than the original total of $344.
Do some shopping on a case. Be careful of shipping charges. Cases are heavy, and expect to pay $20 for shipping.
I like the Antec 300 for several reasons:
1) It is big enough to hold any resonable set of components. It still is a mid-size case.
2) It has no fussy front doors which make inserting dvd's a pain.
3) It has superb cooling. Other cases may be the equal, but none are significantly better. A bigger case does not equate to better airflow.
4) It has washable front air intake filters.
If you like "bling" or style, then get what you like.
As to vista vs. windows-7, I would suggest installing the release candidate of W7 just so long as a complete re-install of the official release in October is not an issue. Otherwise, go with vista home premium 64 bit. W7 seems to be working well, and that is where microsoft will be spending their dollars in the future.
http://www.guru3d.com/article/athlon-ii-x2-250-and-phenom-ii-x2-550-be-review/18For AMD this means this is the fastest dual-core processor to date, and for that 102 USD it is just a really okay processor running all the latest applications and games just fine and dandy. Realistically the difference in-between the X2 250 and X2 550 performance wise is roughly 10%. The one thing that this article showed was that for gamers, the Phenom II X2 processor definitely is the way to go.