Budget Gaming System

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.

Case: Cooler Master RC-690 ($79.99)

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-MA790XT-UD4P AM3 DDR3 AMD 790X ($139.99)

CPU: AMD Phenom II x3 720 2.8GHz ($139.99)

RAM: G.Skill 4GB (2x2) DDR3 1333 ($64.00)

PSU: OCZ StealthXStream 600W ($69.99)

GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 4870 1GB ($179.99)

DVDR: LG 22x DVD Burner ($23.99)

Total: $697.94

He hasn't decided if he wants to go with Vista 64, or Windows 7 RC yet.

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  1. I don't recommend the higher RAM heatsinks because they will not play well with some of the better CPU heatsinks. However, moving them to the outside RAM slots fixes that.

    So he's not likely to crossfire?
    I would favor this PSU over the OCZ, at around that price:
    BFG LS-550

    XFX has a nice 4870 1GB for a bit less, and a lifetime warranty as well.

    You are paying $280 for the CPU and MB. How about a Combo deal with the equivalent Asus board? Only $225.

    Use that money to get a nice after market cooler for overclocking:

    Scythe Mugen
  2. 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.
  3. Depending on the resolution he's playing at, you could get a 4890 for not much more.

    XFX - 199$ /w lifetime warranty

    MSI - 179$ /w MIR
  4. Any reason why we are spending $150 on a case and PSU? Doesn't Antec have a combo with PSU for less then that?
  5. I favor the CM 690 over the Antec 300 myself, but there is this deal:
  6. CM 690 gives you a lot of elbow room, especially if you want to grow the system later on.

    Plus it's prettier than the 300 :p
  7. Yes but if your looking for cheap....

    Besides, cases are subjective. I've seen cases people LOVE, that I can't stand. I don't see anything wrong with the "beige box". Me, I'll take plain anyday, while others can't stand it.
  8. No, I agree 100% with you. The desktop I use in my office is a Lian Li...which I like to think of as rather plain, yet good looking.

    I think case is such an important decision because you have to see it all the time.
  9. 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.
  10. Talk about timing; make sure you check out the graphic card article today regarding mid-range cards. There are a lot of comparisons of cards and performance benchmarks of games.
  11. My 2 cents:

    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.
  12. geofelt said:

    Net: a faster duo like the E8400 @ 167 or E7600 @149 for the increased clock speed.

    Then might I suggest the new Phenom II 550?

    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.
  13. drunknmunkys said:

    Very workable. The cpu price is right, but you seem to have to spend more on a motherboard, and perhaps ram to go with it. The net is about the same for a core 2 duo combo.
  14. geofelt said:
    Very workable. The cpu price is right, but you seem to have to spend more on a motherboard, and perhaps ram to go with it. The net is about the same for a core 2 duo combo.

    Why is the RAM more expensive? You can still use DDR800 if you want to.

    One of the best mobo's available, 110$ dollars. You can go cheaper if you want to.

    The CPU is 60$ cheaper, so show me a comparable intel mobo for 50$ to even the price.
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