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$600 - $700 Gaming System, First Time Builder

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July 23, 2009 9:35:04 PM

Hello there, Tom's Hardware. Last week, I suddenly got the urge to build myself a computer. This is my first build, so I'm not quite sure if I've made the right decisions or not. In particular, I need advice on a good power supply to pick up, and whether or not I should get a better processor.

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a week or two. BUDGET RANGE: $600 - $700 dollars. Damn minimum wage...

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Programming, Internet Usage.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Monitor, Speakers, Surge Protector.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com. Maybe some others if anyone is willing to make a recommendation.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'm using a micro-atx case due to space limitations.

OVERCLOCKING: Yes SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe later.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I would like this system to stay viable for gaming a couple of years (Long enough for Mechwarrior to come out, at least). I don't *need* maxed out setting's on everything, Though it would be nice for older games like Team Fortress 2 and Bio Shock. Just as long as everything runs smoothly.

The following is what I've got in my newegg wishlist:

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor Model BX80571E5200 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DFI LP JR P45-T2RS LGA 775 Intel P45 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100259-1GL Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F2-8500CL5D-4GBPK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SILVERSTONE SUGO SG02-BF Black ABS / SECC Steel MicroATX Desktop Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Any opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
July 24, 2009 3:11:39 AM

Things that make the budget real tight real quick.

OS: Vista 64 home premium w/ win7 upgrade $110 (should be able to combo this with any item and save $5)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HDD: $40 for low low end and $75 for very good 640gb
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Aftermarket cooler: $25 Sunbeam core contact, but might be too big for your case. not sure what the vertical clearance would be off board.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductReview.aspx?Item=3...

DVD burner: $30
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

If you're not planning to upgrade your monitor anytime soon, drop the 4870 1gb and get 4850 512mb. I have it and use the same resolution monitor and I get max settings on that era of games. $80
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 4850 1 gb will cost you $105. A 4870 512 is $116 (pick this over the 1gb 4850 if you are not getting the 4850 512) and the 4870 1gb for $130.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

July 24, 2009 3:23:05 AM

I also tried to spec out an AMD Phenom II x3 system with DDR3 ram. If you want the system to last and get better performance, its the way to go. Plus, if you have DDR3 ram, when the next gen AMD cpus come out, there's a good chance they will support the current gen ram and DDR3 just like the AM3 cpus support both DDR2 and DDR3. So the next build, you won't have to buy ram and its not that much more than DDR2 right now.

Case, HDD, PSU, 4850 512, HSF, and optical all the same.

AMD x3 720 and 4 gigs DDR3 ram $185
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

DFI jr 790gx mAtx AM3 w/ windows vista combo $245
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

About $830 total.
Related resources
July 24, 2009 6:28:50 PM

Thanks for the input. I probably will be going for a AM3 processor after all... but the price does look a bit steep. Also, after a bit of thought, I've decided to get a normal tower instead of the microATX that I was looking at.
July 24, 2009 7:46:49 PM

Zeroharpe said:
Thanks for the input. I probably will be going for a AM3 processor after all... but the price does look a bit steep. Also, after a bit of thought, I've decided to get a normal tower instead of the microATX that I was looking at.


That DFI jr was the only mATX board for AM3. I'll take a look later tonight and see if we can get you an AM3 system afterall in your budget with an ATX board. Post links to the types of cases you're looking at so I know what kind of styling you like in a case.
July 24, 2009 11:52:40 PM

All right, I've put together a base x4 system and will show what upgrades are available until we hit the $700 mark. This is one of the most interesting savings paths I've put together lately. If you're buying soon, there's $25 in promo code savings that expire 7/29. You'll have to sign up for the newegg newsletter if you haven't already. Promo codes get figured in the cart when you enter the code and hit apply.
http://promotions.newegg.com/NEemail/July-0-2009/Perfec...

AMD x4 945 plus MSI 770 AM3 mobo: $194-$15 mir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
Unfortunately, the 955be is out of stock. The price has usually been the same or $5 cheaper than the 945. When you buy, check to see if they have it back in.
The mobo won't do crossfire, but I don't think its the way to go for your budget and by the time you'd look to add a second card (after a monitor upgrade) the 4890s would be much cheaper and be better than a CF solution a lot of times.

4850 512mb plus windows vista 64 bit w/ win 7 upgrade: $175-$20 mir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

OCZ platinum 4 gb cas 7. The only thing I'm not a big fan of is the 1.9v to run at the 1600mhz speed. I'd undervolt it and run at 1333, but worth it for $76-$10 promo - $10 mir = $56
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

DVD Burner $27 + shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

WD 640gig Caviar Green $68 - $10 promo = $58
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sunbeam core contact freezer $40-$15 mir = $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ modxtream 500w PSU $59-$25 mir = $34 with free ship promo code
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

I put these cases in for the free shipping and high reviews. On the cases you linked, S/H is $19-20 so something to consider. $55 free s/h
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total here is $711 delivered - $85 mail in rebates = $625

If you want to spend the full $700, here's what I'd upgrade on the above build.
+27 to GPU for a 4850 1gb
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
+37 to GPU for a 4870 512mb
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
or
+50 to GPU for a 4870 1gb
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Case can be changed to your taste and budget.

+40 to PSU for corsair 550
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

+20 to HDD for Caviar Black (better performer, same size. Don't know if its worth the price diff though.)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

So there's some options for you. I choose the x4 over the x3 because it was only $5 more and a crazy good deal. Hope this generates some discusion and questions.
July 25, 2009 9:31:55 PM

Thats... Incredibly thorough... thanks! This actually sounds alot like what I was looking at earlier, Though I hadn't seen that particular mobo/processor deal. I'm probably going to end up getting the 4870 512mb and possibly the Corsair 550.

Why exactly would I need to under volt the memory? Is it a durability issue?
July 25, 2009 11:09:35 PM

Quote:
ALL WRONG

getting the 4850 or 4870 is pathetic with a bottleneck CPU
you will not have the full potential of the video card you pick since your cpu is slow



you could not be more wrong . A Phenom ll 945 is near the top end of AMD's product line . In gaming it will bench ahead of all but one of the intel C2quads.

If anything its overkill for this build , and the OP will get more than enough performance from a 720 be triple core + mb combo for $205
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...
July 25, 2009 11:35:02 PM

Quote:
you fail badly , dont come in the conversation without knowing anything.
i was talking about the e5200 in the first post. sigh idiots these days

also i suggest the OP to overclock his cpu whichever he gets amd or intel



The only one who fails is you .

Your post is out of sequence and you dont make any reference to who you are replying to .

Mind you you more than make up for your ignorance and poor timing with your arrogant sense of self righteousness
July 26, 2009 12:42:47 AM

Quote:
you fail badly , dont come in the conversation without knowing anything.
i was talking about the e5200 in the first post. sigh idiots these days

also i suggest the OP to overclock his cpu whichever he gets amd or intel


I plan to. I'm past the e5200, definably going to get the PhenomII. The original idea was that I could overclock the e5200 to hell and back, and save a chunk of money in the process.
July 26, 2009 4:47:22 AM

LOL, looks like ezkiller pulled his post. Think his mom made him delete them for having such bad manners?

Outlander, I did look at that x3 combo, but here's why I went with the x4. It turns out to be $15 cheaper. And this is a generalization so it may not apply to Zeroharpe, but budget builders run their systems longer to the point that when a single GPU is outdated, the better option would be to replace with the then current price/performance champion rather than add a second old card. For example, would you recommend someone CF a pair of 3870s, or go for replacing the original 3870 with a 4850 for just a few bucks more? For that the 770 fits and getting a quad will allow a longer life once programers really get into multi cpu optimization.

http://www.canardpc.com/statscpuz-cpu-en.html

Look at the # of cores breakdown. Duals are loosing market share to quads and the programming will start to take advantage of that.

Zeroharpe, the memory undervolt comment has more to do with power consumption than anything. I don't think there's much difference in performance dropping from 1600 to 1333, but dropping the speed might allow you to tighten the timings too. That's a whole different forum section for that, but just an idea for when you do build.
July 27, 2009 6:04:48 AM

Well, I ordered my PC. Heres what I finally settled on, from the suggestions given in the thread:

COOLER MASTER Centurion 5 CAC-T05-UB Black /Blue Aluminum Bezel , SECC Chassis ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

MSI 770-C45 AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz 4 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-4GBNQ - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAPPHIRE 100259L Radeon HD 4870 512MB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Western Digital Caviar Green WD6400AACS 640GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive (bare drive) - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
July 27, 2009 7:28:04 AM

Zero, I'm thinking about getting a system just like yours - pretty much. The only things I was going to change are:

OCZ Platinum for the RAM. Seems like the timings are lower for about the same price ($1 more) - though the voltage is back at 1.9V. skora, do you have a preference between those two?

I'm going with the Caviar Black HD as well - it's $7 more (right now), which seems a pretty low price for the upgrade.

I'm also going with the HIS H487N1GP Radeon HD 4870 1GB graphics card. It's $5 more than your card, for the extra memory. From reviews, it seems that extra half gig can help in some games, so, for the price, it seems worthwhile.

Any thoughts, from Zero, skora or others? My only concern really is that the 500W PSU isn't going to be enough - anyone have experience with this sort of system and that wattage PSU and know how it performs, with some OC'ing?
July 27, 2009 7:52:07 AM

Nicely done zeroharpe, let us know how it goes.
July 27, 2009 3:30:20 PM

zeroharpe:
Good job on the build. Its a lot more computer than the original spec was and you have a good upgrade path ahead if you need it later. With the cas at 9 1600mhz, see how tight you can get it at 1333. and as dirtmountain said, let us know how the build goes.

niemassacre:
If it was cas 9 at 1.5v or cas 7 at 1.9, the cas 7. If you ran the voltage up on the Gskil, it'd probably end up at cas 7.
What PSU do you have. wattage is enough, but the real test is the amps on the 12v rail. This calc will inlcude OC and the vid card too.
http://www.antec.outervision.com/
The 1gb is worth the extra $5 and the black is a great performer for the cost.
July 27, 2009 5:48:57 PM

Thanks for your advice skora. I ended up changing out a few more parts (mainly working through Tiger Direct) to get the cost lower, while also getting in the 955 - still in stock at TD. The new PSU (a DiabloTek 550W) has 30A on the 12V rail, instead of the OCZ's 25A. I also got a 92mm ThermalTake fan for the CPU cooler (it was well reviewed and only $10, I figured I'd give it a shot), OCZ PC12800 RAM at 7-7-7-24, and a ThermalTake WingRS case (again, just a bit cheaper, and also a lot lighter than the Centurion).

Thanks again for all your advice and help - I'll let you know how the build and performance tests go!
August 6, 2009 9:16:57 PM

Gah, sorry I havn't replied sooner. Ordered everything, all the parts arrived... And now I'm having trouble. Hooked everything up... and nothing. Computer starts up, but there's no output from the monitor, and it wont turn off without cutting the power. Had to take it into a shop since I dont have the parts or the time to troubleshoot the thing myself. Any ideas on whats going on?
October 12, 2009 10:12:08 PM

Zeroharpe said:
Gah, sorry I havn't replied sooner. Ordered everything, all the parts arrived... And now I'm having trouble. Hooked everything up... and nothing. Computer starts up, but there's no output from the monitor, and it wont turn off without cutting the power. Had to take it into a shop since I dont have the parts or the time to troubleshoot the thing myself. Any ideas on whats going on?


Rule #1: Don't build a computer (especially for the first time) if you don't have the time to troubleshoot it yourself.

Make sure the memory's seated properly. Check connections. Check jumpers on mobo.

You may have a doa mobo. It's pretty common actually.
!