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First time complete gaming ~$1200 build

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Last response: in Systems
July 1, 2009 6:42:22 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: <1-2 months, uncertain at this point

BUDGET RANGE: ~$1200 including two monitors

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (specifically GTA IV, Orange Box, Far Cry 2, Live for Speed, and WoW), Internet browsing/multitasking, some movie watching, and the occasional Photoshop CS3 use.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: The few things I wont use from scratch are an old keyboard, mouse, and some speakers. I'm curious to see if my ancient 8 year old $2000 AMD build

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I havent bothered with anything else; have no reason. Tiger Direct doesnt have nearly as large of a selection, and the few parts they do have always have cost more

PARTS PREFERENCES: Dual monitors (looking towards 19"s) and full tower case are the only things specifically in stone. As nice as one big one is, multitasking is so much more efficient in parallel. Also want a quad core, as from what I've read and researched, GTA IV is most pleased with it.

OVERCLOCKING: Unlikely. Minor tweaks/boosts yes, but nothing dramatic any time soon.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: At first, no. The plan is to get one card as a solid performer, then in the future, get an identical card when upgrading is necessary.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680 x 1050, as I plan on twin 19"s

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Function over form, being realistic, etc. It doesnt have to look particularly pretty, I dont care about an array of LEDs, etc. etc. I'm expecting some mass air flow and redundant/overkill fans, just because I have them and the chance to use them. A cool computer is a happy computer..right?

The two things I plan to splooge on are the GPU and the processor.

Here's what I have so far:

XClio Windtunnel case:
I rather like this case...its like an over-sized PS2 with big fans on the side. I plan on disabling the LEDs though.

AMD Phenom II x4 920 2.8 gHz:
Originally was looking at the 940 (3.0 black edition yadda yadda), but this chip appears to be identical, just cheaper and clocked lower. The plan was to reclock it at 3.0 for now and save a few bucks. I really dont think an i7 build is worth it at my bracket, as they seem to be so much more expensive and too far out of a range I'm willing to pay.

Asus M4N72 :
Friend of mine who knows more than I about builds has had good experience with this mobo and will be considering the same one for his own build. I took his word for it, though originally was leaning towards this Gigabyte ( ). I decided to go with Asus because of video card concerns with a plan to eventually run in SLI (AMD chipset vs. nForce)

GTX 260-216:
Over roughly the past month, I've been replacing parts almost daily, especially processors and vid cards. I eventually chose this one because of the package deal with Far Cry 2 (I have no interest in the Call of Duty series), so even though an HD 4890 is close in price (especially because of the cheaper mobo), I'd still have to purchase the game separately. It's really such a small price difference at this point that could change quickly.

4 GB DDR2-1066:
I think this is an excellent deal for RAM. Great price ($45, hoping the MIR goes through), especially for the speed. Since, once again, I see AM3/X58/i7/DDR3 a little out of my reach, it really doesnt seem worth it to pay so much more right now for the gains.

500 GB HDD:
I'm told this is a good HDD for a gamer's build. Originally I was considering the 750 GB version, but its only because I'm just frustrated with having to reorganize my laptop so often since I only have 100 GB to work with...a great portion of which is Vista, WoW, and a separate 10 GB dedicated by Dell for backup and such.

Corsair 850W PSU:
A bit of overkill for the system, but the idea is to eventually run another 4 gigs and another GTX 260-216 at upgrade time. Parts will be incredibly cheap by then and I want, if nothing else, the PSU and case to last. Also, the case has a combo deal for $25 off in conjunction with the case. As such, I think its a good deal, though if you have a better one, by all means post it!

Acer 19" 1680x1050 x2 monitors:
I've decided on dual 19"s and have been eyeing these since last Black Friday. The only things to survive a theoretical build since. Since I want two monitors, I cant justify even a single 22"+ monitor that costs as much as two of these; even though a nicely sized main screen and a 17-19" would be cool, I doubt I could do it on the cheap.

Samsung DVD burner:
Of course, all of them are out of stock for now, but hopefully that wont be the case when I build my setup. I only picked it as an optical drive with the highest ratings anyways. I doubt I'll be doing much burning at all, but even my newest optical is 4-5 years seems most logical to just get a new one instead of tearing into a working computer.

802.11g wireless adapter card:
I love having internet anywhere in my (small) house. As long as the connection is good, speeds are excellent. Anyways, I dont have an Ethernet port in my room and running one all the way out to the router is out of the question.

64 bit Vista with an "Upgrade-to-7" coupon:
$110 for Vista, then 7 when they're ready to release it. An equivalent standalone 7 costs $200, plus I'd have to wait for it anyways. I dont think there's a less expensive DX10 compatible option here.

It all comes out to $1209.89 as of July 1 before combos and MIR discounts. After all of that, $1124, mind you that includes 2 monitors and a WiFi card.

At this point, Im strongly considering a 21.5/17 combo monitor setup instead of twin 19s. I will enjoy more gaming and such and dont need a large second monitor as much as a main one. I'm also considering going for 64 bit 7 RC until March 2010..essentially a free OS, to save $100 for now.

More about : time complete gaming 1200 build

July 1, 2009 9:25:11 AM

Your setup is pretty good...But I would suggest you stick with that Gigabyte mobo as SLI mobos are not as good as the crossfire ones...
And you can get the Far Cry 2 game for about $28...So why waste more money on that GTX260...
You could do this...
HD4870 1GB - $150 + $10 Mail-In-Rebate ( This card would perform as good as the GTX 260 and you can later xfire on that Gigabyte mobo)
Far Cry 2 - $28...
July 1, 2009 1:34:54 PM

+1 gkay for 4870 1GB suggestion.

I have one and I can play farcry 2 at 1920x1080 4xAA at average of 50 FPS. The FPS remain at 55-60 for most of the times. During heavy batles and explosion it drops to about 40, which is excellent.

Also, motherboards based on nvidia chipset should be avoided. They can corrupt your data among other things.
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July 1, 2009 9:23:00 PM

Thanks for the help. I've spent a few hours starting from scratch to see what an i7 build would actually cost me, and to look further into the 22/17" monitor setup. I think I'll do that instead.

The HD 4870 does seem to be a better idea now that I look in to it. They are otherwise equivalent though $50 cheaper. I also hadnt realized that Far Cry was less than $30...thats excellent. I'm going to restructure the list again with replacement parts.
July 3, 2009 12:32:51 AM

Well I dont have enough for a whole computer and I dont like the idea of buying individual parts instead of all at once, but a good 23/19" setup surprisingly isnt much more than dual 19"s. I think I'm going to jump on a deal with a 23" monitor before the sale ends and I miss out.

Restructured my deal for this 1GB HD 4870:

and Gigabyte mobo from earlier:

With the money saved, I could either get Far Cry 2 or pay for the difference between a good 19" and a better 23" monitor.