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Index of "If sKora had..." topics

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August 11, 2009 5:39:17 AM

Welcome to the If sKora had... Topic Index.

This thread will be undergoing a focus change and updating. The design guide will be first with current model numbers being used and then adding links for those wishing to do further research. Once the guide is overhauled, then I will build balanced technology brackets and try to keep general prices updated. techmo34 already keeps an up to date build guide out there and Proximon and jbarkerlent have good guides on picking out specific parts. So use this as a starting point to see expectations based on your budget and what levels of technology you can expect to buy.

More about : index skora topics

August 11, 2009 5:39:38 AM

This narrative is my thought process when choosing parts.

sKora's system design guide beta v0.1

First, I want to make a distinction between cheap and inexpensive. You'll see me use both and they have very different meanings here:

CHEAP - The lowest price part regardless of quality or performance. Prone to high failure rates and taking other components with it.

Inexpensive - Parts that cost less than others, but meet the minimum standards of quality to be good enough.

I bracket builds into 1 of 4 categories.

Bargain - Just a box that turns on and runs programs. This is older 2nd and 3rd gen tech and is built as a one and done. Life expectancy is short also. Very few parts can or should be carried over to a future build after a bargain build has exhausted its useful life. Proximon made a good point on early review that pre-built systems work well for this need.

Budget - Maximize the price/performance ratio and have some upgrade path. Budget builders have high enough standards to spend extra on quality parts that offer reasonable returns. It is current tech but usually baby brother versions of the high end options. Also consider upgrade paths and options for future builds with what is bought now.

Gamer - While conscientious of Price/Performance, its more about getting great performance and quality and willing to pay some premium for it. Gamers use current tech with high end components, but not elite. The upgrade path is limited here as the initial build generally is near the top of the tech tree. Gamers aren't usually immediate adopters of next gen tech, but willing to do a full platform upgrade when warranted instead of just a component or too.

Enthusiast - Whats price? Performance at most any cost. Enthusiast are the ones buying multi GPU systems and the most powerful extreme CPUs. Highest quality and the most current tech. Upgrades will happen until something else bright and shiny comes along that can't be stuck in their current system, then its a new build again. This will be the thinnest section from me and would need help from those that actually build/use these systems.

Now that we have 4 levels of options, lets start with order to make decisions in. The components are listed like a flowchart of decision for system building when starting from scratch. Right now, this is geared more towards the gaming segment and will be expanded to include productivity and editing rigs as my knowledge develops. All gaming rigs will run internet and office softwares just fine.

1st Decision - THE MONITOR:
For a gaming build, the most important part of the system that we interact with is the monitor. It drives the level of all the other parts we buy if we want to keep a well balanced system. With monitor selection, physical characteristics are just as important as the technical numbers. Size has to be considered when looking at various resolutions. The bigger the monitor at a given resolution, the grainer it will look compared to a monitor with the same resolution thats smaller. I've seen some 28" monitors at 1920x1080 and while big, they don't look as good as a 22" 1920x1080. This is the same reason HDTVs don't look as clear as a smaller display. Your picture is being stretched out to add the size. Also consider how far are you sitting away from the display. (I'll look for some guidelines to link in here later unless someone can provide one.) Buying a display is a part that will last across multiple builds. Its worth spending extra now to get the proper display for your needs.

Bargain: 1280x1024 or 1440x900 and under (1.3 million pixels or under.)

Budget: 1680x1050 (1.75 million pixels)

Gamer: 1920x1080 or 1920x1200 (2-2.3 million pixels)

Enthusiast: 2560x1600 (4 million pixels)

Resources:
As far as which model from what manufacture to choose, there's no good answer. The summary from this LCD guide from anandtech basically says, most people will be satisfied with any LCD monitor they buy. For that reason, you can't trust the reviews from newegg either. You already know if you are a videophile and will pull more from the review than others. For most people, get the most cost effective monitor for the resolution you want. A good way to shop for monitors also is take the model numbers of what you can get online to a store and compare. If you have a picture you are familiar with that has a lot of detail, take it on USB with you. Its best to look at something you know to compare your candidates against each other.

Multi-monitor setups: I'll admit, I've never played around with this on a gaming machine. I keep very few extra parts around, and extra monitors get sold or donated since I hate storing large items like that. From what I've been able to tell, if you are using a second monitor for just 2d desktop apps, there is minimal impact in your games no the primary monitor. That being said, the second display is for display only unless you're running your game in window'd mode, which will reduce performance 10%-15%. So if you're running mutiple monitors while gaming and want access to the second screen without alt+tab, buy more GPU than the single gaming monitor would normally justify.

GRAPHICS CARD (GPU):
As you can see from number of pixels, there's a lot more calculations that go into higher resolution displays and require more powerful GPUs. Pick a GPU too weak for your display, and you'll have low performance in games. Pick one too powerful, and you're spending money that may be more useful elsewhere. There's no easy answer for Nvidia vs ATI either. When looking at the charts, put more weight into the games that you plan to play.

Bargain: With low resolutions and no expectation of quality, this part is going to be just enough to run the target softwares. Sometimes onboard graphics will be enough.
Recommendation: If further GPU power is needed, it will most likely fall in the $40-$60 price range and consist of a 9500GT or higher from Nvidia or 4650 from ATI. Some homework will need to be done to find what inventories are being slashed and where the best sales are. Be careful of DDR2 cards, they won't do as well as DDR3 even if the DDR2 has double the ram. Higher bit bus rates will perform better for the same DDR type, so if the price is the same, get the higher bus width. I usually look for a 4670 or 9600GSO that can be found around for $40 after mail in rebate.

Budget: Most responses here throughout the guide are going to be the price/performance champion. Some extra money can be spent for one level up as it will provide excellent performance now, and still have good performance in over a year. I generally don't encourage crossfire/SLI setups in the budget range. Generally, by the time the original card lacks the power to meet a budget builders needs, adding a second card will have very limited returns compared to replacing the original card. If the CPU is still capable, getting the current price/performance champion is advised. If this logic is followed, it also allows to buy a less expensive motherboard with 1x pcie 2.0 x16 slot.

Recommendation: The day of the budget champions in the sub $100 4850 and $125 4870 have gone as inventories dry up and prices rise. The replacement cards in the 5750 and 5770 are a little more expensive and hard to justify spending that much on some lower budgets. There's no easy answer here for a recommendation. You can either spend the extra to get the latest card, spend a little extra and still get great cards in the 48xx card, or go low and wait for prices to drop. It may be 1st half 2010 before they do as I'm not expecting any charity pricing from ATI while Nvidia doesn't have a product to compete. I would check to see about getting a used card now, and wait.

Gamer: To support up to 1920x1200, there are two ways to get there. A single higher powered GPU or dual GPUs. As gamers are going to want constant performance, adding a second card can happen within a time frame that the second card would still be technologically adequate and financially appropriate. The CPU would still be current and the initial motherboard purchases will most likely be able to support 2 GPUs. While the GPU won't be the newest card on release, they fall into acceptable prices after a round or two of price wars between the two chip manufactures.
Recommendations: While older cards, they can't be overlooked if you can live without DX11, GTX 275, HD 4890. Either of the single cards can be doubled up (motherboard support required) in the future and add longevity to the system. This the first point I'd also shoot for a 5770 with the intention of CF later or a 5850, though theres still a new product without competition premium on the price tag.

Enthusiast: High resolutions need serious GPU power for high settings and eye candy. It cost to run at those specs.
Recommendations: 5870 or 5870CF

Resources:
Tom's does a great job with reviews and comparisons. Be sure to look at the most current "Best cards for the money" article along with any specific reviews of the cards in contention for your purchase.
Toms Hardware Guide Graphics Articles
Also, since you have a monitor picked out, use the charts to compare the cards you're look at for the resolution you'll be playing at.
THG GPU Charts

CPU:
Balancing a CPU so it doesn't bottleneck the graphics solution is important and based very much on the use of the system. Since most of the chips recommended all overclock well, cooling and overclocking design questions will be brought up after a case solution is found.

Bargain: Most any dual core should fit the bill here. There are some that will do better than others for very little increase in cost.
Recommendation: The E5200 is a great price and performance if you get a board to overclock it on. If you don't plan to overclock, there are faster stock AMD chips in the same price bracket of $60-$70 out there.

Budget: I know this will spur some debates, but right now, an AM3 CPU with DDR3 is a must for long term upgrading. While there isn't much of a performance gain with the DDR3, its possible it could be used on the next gen AMD CPUs. If they continue with their backward compatible philosophy, then the AM4 cpus could have the next gen Ram and DDR3 controllers on the chip. If you spend a little extra now, then you possibly have the ram for the next gen CPU if it does play out that way. So the AMD Phenom II x3 is the lowest I'd put i a budget build at this time.
Recommendation: AMD Phenom II x3 710 or 720

Gamer: Here again, because of upgrading, AMD gets the nod. While the x3 is enough to get the job done, I'd spend the few extra bucks to get an AMD x4. This will help as future programs are better optimized for multi core CPUs. The i7 920 does need to be considered here if you want SLI support. It will cost more, but also has the upgrade life the AM3s should.
Recommendation: AMD Phenom II x4 945 or 955 for ATI cards or i7 920 for SLI setups.

Enthusiast: Whether you'll use that much CPU power or not, Intel's i7 920 is the best and outclasses the AMD flagship 955. The 955 is powerful enough to keep up with the heaviest GPU solutions, but AMD doesn't support SLI either. So for just gaming, you're spending more on the i7 than you are going to use.
Recommendation: The i7 gets to sit alone here for the option of SLI and crossfire and bragging rights.

Resources:
THG CPU articles
THG CPU Charts
THG How many cores do you need


MOTHERBOARD:
Bargain: Anything that runs the chosen processor. Some features need to be taken into account like overclocking and on board graphics. Some research will have to be done on the BIOS of the model to find out if it overclocks or not. You can't base it off of chipset alone. Otherwise, just make sure you're buying the right kind of ram.

Budget: Since the recommendation is for an AM3 CPU with DDR3, there are just a few choices here. AMD 770 AM3 chipset is the base solution with 1 PCIe 2.0 x16 slot. For a little more, the AMD 790GX is a solid choice. If the 790GX has the SB750 south bridge chip, it will be a very capable overclocker and can support 2 ATI GPUs in crossfire, if you do want to that option. Again, its spending more on the mobo for that flexibility. You can choose an older AMD chipset with DDR2 ram. The upgrade path isn't there like the AM3s could be, but should be cheaper on the initial purchase. If you are overclocking, the AM3 SB700s do better than the SB600s did on the AM2/AM2+ boards.

If a budget builder does decide to go Intel Core 2 Duo, the two main options are the P43 or the P45 chipset boards. P43 will only have 1 PCIe 2.0 x16 slot and might not overclock as well as the P45, but should still be a good performer. The P45 comes in versions that have 1x and 2x PCIe 2.0 x16 slots. Spend what you need to for your option level you want. But you won't be able to do much upgrading once the CPU no longer fills your needs, You will be forced to go to a new platform and little will be able to be used from the old system.
Recommendation: AMD 770 AM3 chipset

Gamer: This is the same as budget but instead of starting with the 770, I'd start with at least the 790GX. While running 1 GPU, it will work at 16x bandwidth. If you want to run a second GPU, then both will run at 8x/8x. It is slower than 16x/16x and the amount of speed lost will depend on the game itself. If you want to avoid the bottleneck all together, then the AMD 790FX chipset is for you. It supports 16x/16x for dual GPUs but does carry a price increase.

Parallel Intel boards would be the P45 and X38/x48. The only difference between the x38 and x48 is the x48 OFFICIALLY supports 1600mhz FSB but both perform the same. Get the cheaper one if that's the route you choose. Same note applies on upgrading Intel from the budget comments above.
Recommendations: AMD 790GX for single GPUs and AMD 790FX for dual GPUs.

Enthusiast: Since the only current chipset that supports the i7 is the X58 chipset, I'd go with that.

Resources:
Proximon's guide to choosing parts does a nice overview of most of the chipsets readily available today.
Comparison of 8x/8x crossfire on a P45 vs 16x/16x crossfire on a X48

RAM/MEMORY:
Bargain: The cheapest that you need to run your system. If you're running Windows XP, 2 gigs should be enough. Vista needs 3 gigs. Wouldn't worry about 800 vs 667 unless the price is the same.

Budget: This will also have to be matched to the mobo chosen. Make sure with DDR3, you're choosing a dual channel kit and not a triple channel used on the X58 platform. Don't pick a 6 gig kit. 4 gigs will be more than enough for gaming and you only need more if you're doing heavy video editing with very large files. If thats the case, you'd want a quad anyway. Price is obviously important, but if you have at least DDR3 1333mhz ram and when the prices are similar, look for the lowest CAS number. The lower the number, the faster the ram operates internally and the better overclock support it provides for the AMD cpus. Intel Core 2 chips don't have the memory controller on the chip and don't see much of a performance increase by faster ram.
Recommendation: DDR3-1333 or above with CAS 7. Try to avoid ram that requires high voltage if you can. If you are using DDR2, DDR2-1066 is only a few more bucks than the DDR2-800. This is more important for AMD chips than Intel.

Gamer: Ram is one of the components where the technology is further ahead and rarely the bottleneck in the system. So same recommendations apply as from Budget.

Enthusiast: The only difference here is the X58 board can use triple channel ram, so 6 gigs is the base for these systems. As above, watch the speed and CAS. The ram for i7 systems is capped at 1.65v.

Resources:
Sticky from the memory section. Needs updating for DDR3, but the principals are the same.
THG Memory articles. Spend some time here if you have questions. Articles address differences in performance based on speed, size, and DDR2 vs DDR3, and Intel vs AMD scaling.
August 11, 2009 5:39:49 AM

POWER SUPPLY UNIT (PSU):
Once you have your GPU picked out and if you are going to leave the option open for multiple GPUs, look to see what the watts and amps are needed for the GPU solution you've chosen If you run lots of HDDs and more than 2 optical drives, add a little more than just the GPU needs. Picking a PSU that is well built will allow it to be reused in the next build. Manufactures warranty can be a base indicator of quality. Also, if it isn't active PFC, its a sign of poor quality.

Another factor to consider is your usage pattern. If you are the type to leave your PC on 24/7, put a lot of weight into a HIGH EFFICIENCY psu. The savings over a relative short time will make up the difference in initial cost. Low efficiency means more energy is turned into heat than into power for the computer. So not only does your cost of power go up, but you need more to cool you're computer an possibly the room environment.

Bargain: This is a corner that gets cut with bargain builds. Usually, a case or bundle with a PSU is chosen and you'll get whatever they were able to get the cheapest to put in there. There's a risk using no name PSUs, but then again, you're not spending much on this system anyway. If you're not using a stand alone GPU, those no name PSU can be enough. Again, the risk of failure is still there, so you have to decide if its worth it or not. If you do have an extra GPU, check the amperage. If there's going to be a deficiency, that's probably where its going to be.
Recommendation: If reliability is any concern, use the budget section as your guide.

Budget: Since upgrading and reusing components is high on the priority list for you, I'd avoid the bundled PSUs (Combos can be fine if its a good PSU.) Choosing one with a good name will last 2-3 systems. At the least, I'd look at an OCZ PSU with a 3 year manufacture replacement warranty. OCZ seems to have the lowest price that passes minimum specs. If you have some extra money or find a great sale/combo price, Corsair, PC Power and Cooling, Antec, Silverstone, and Seasonic are all great choices. Recommendation: Minimum of OCZ with one of the others if you can afford it.

Gamer: Since the gamer needs more power than the budget will, I'd use the budget list but skip OCZ. If you are putting heavy demands on the PSU, you'll want one of the other brands.
Recommendation: Corsair, PCPC, Antec, Silverstone, Seasonic

Enthusiast: You'll be the heaviest hitter here and I have no experience with this large of PSUs. Quality quality quality.

Resources:
Great stickies on PSU at Jonnyguru
HardOCP, good reviews and test of PSU
All the PSU vendors have calculators on their sites. Here's a few.
Antec PSU calculator
Corsair, very simple question based


CASE:
This is the most personal style based part of them all. Your case will be the identity of your system. Get something you like. The different levels will do with quality, not style.
Bargain: If quality isn't to much of a concern and you can accept something less sturdy, most any case will do. You'll probably be getting whatever comes in a bundle/combo.
Recommendation: Get the most options you can for the lowest price.

Budget: The case is along the lines of the PSU. It will last more than one system. Make sure it has enough airflow and clearance for a big CPU fan if you want to overclock.
Recommendation: Avoid bundles with no name PSUs. Expect to spend $50+

Gamer: Same as budget, but you'll be spending a little more. $80+, closer to $100.

Enthusiast: There are some crazy prices for cases. Get whatever tickles your fancy.

HEAT SINK & FAN (HSF) and Thermal Interface Material (TIM):
This is the part that cools your CPU. Now is the time to ask, "Am I going to overclock this system?" If yes, definitely look for a good performer. If not, use the stock HSF.

Bargain: If the CPU comes with one, use that. If not, get something that works. It will be an extra $10-15.

Budget: Overclocking is a great way to get extra value out of the CPU. Proper cooling is very important. If you only want a minor OC, the stock HSF will be fine, but if you're looking at anything more than 20%, get an after market HSF.
Recommendation: Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer Pro. Comes with good goo. Great value.

Gamer:
Same notes as budget
Recommendation: The CCFP doesn't have mobo controlled fan speed. Either buy it and a different PWM fan or get something like the Xigmatech 1283 Dark Knight.

Enthusiast:
Depends on how far you want to push your CPU. 4 GHz is doable on air, 4.5 might need water. Outside my area of experience.

Resources:
Frosty Tech top rated HSF -Search for others you are considering. There are lots of good HSF that don't make the top 10 but are still graded 4 out of 5 stars.
80 Way Thermal Interface Material Roundup

OPTICAL DRIVE:
Not much to say here. So for all levels, get the features you want and get SATA connections for upgradability. Its one of the few parts a bargain build can use on the next system and who knows how long IDE support will be around. Well, if FDD connections still exist, I guess IDE will be here till 2023.

HARD DISK DRIVE/ SOLID STATE DRIVE (HDD/SSD)
There seems to be a lot of performance changes from one generation of drives to the next. Take the time to review the charts if performance is a factor for you. Newer drives have a price premium on them but usually perform better. SSDs have their place for extreme MMORPGs rigs since they can access the many many textures that can't be preloaded due to the shear number of them you experience in game. Other gaming should be fine on platter drives with load times being the only difference.

Bargain: Get the most you can for your budget.

Budget: Get a good performer, but be realistic about how much capacity you need.

Gamer: Same as budget, but a SSD might start to creep into options at this level. This will need to be confirmed/expanded by someone who knows more than I do.

Enthusiast: See Gamer.

Resources:
THG Storage Charts


OPERATING SYSTEM (OS)
Windows XP: Xp is still a viable OS especially for the bargain builder that can't benefit from DX10 anyway. XP can run effectively on systems with only 2 gigs of ram. But if you are just now buying an OS, get Win 7 as it also has a smaller memory footprint than Vista does.

Vista/Windows 7: For most people Home Premium 64 bit is all that they'll need. If you have more than gaming/internet needs, evaluate spending more on the OS if its worth it, but for those of us here, probably not.

Linux is an option for free if all you're doing is surfing the net and using an office suite of software.

Input Devices, Keyboards/Mouse:
Thanks jonsy2k for providing this mouse guide link.
Razer mouse guide - This will give great info on the types and technologies available for gaming mice.

Speaker:
Related resources
August 11, 2009 5:50:38 AM

Balanced technologies in the same price brackets. Consider this the minimum tech levels to be balanced.

Bargain 1280x1024 or 1440x900
GPU/CPU/Mobo/Ram/PSU
4670 or 9600 GSO/ E5200/ G31 or G41/ DDR2/ 370w-500w
4670 or 9600 GSO/Athlon II/760g/DDR2/370w-500w

Budget 1680x1050
No intel at this time
4850/710 x3/770 AM3/DDR3/450w-550w

Gamer 1920x1080
4890 or GTX 275/i5/P55/DDR3/750w (not yet available)
4890 or GTX 275/945/790/DDR3/750w

Enthusiast 1920x1200+
2x4890s or 2x 275 GTX/i7 920/ X58/DDR3/850w
August 11, 2009 6:30:29 AM

Great job!!! :D 

I'll give your thread a link on mine as well in the morning at work. Keep up the good work.

On something to add, I like of idea of posting what are own builds are, which is why I've added to my thread. Also, I'm thinking we need to added a sample build for HTPC & Workstation for CAD... etc. (Non-gamer Core i7 build). What are your thoughts?
August 11, 2009 6:54:30 PM

The HTPC and Rendering rigs will come eventually. I still have a lot of research to do before I'm confident of posting to this thread for one of those as part of the series. But thats something that if we see another quality build from someone elses thread, plug the link in.

Thanks for adding this to yours Tecmo. Looks like we'll both hit regular here by the end of the week.
August 12, 2009 9:26:51 AM

Since I don't want to start a new thread on this right now, but did want to plug the build somewhere.

$400 build with OS:
E5200 $66
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Biostar G31 $45 amir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Combo -$10
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

9600 GSO $40 amir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 gig stick of DDR2 800 ram $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
I picked a single stick vs 2x1 so there is a second slot to add more ram later if needed.

CHEAP PSU $20 amir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

CHEAP Case $30 amir
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Windows Vista HP w/ free Win7 $110
Combo -$15
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

WD Caviar Blue 250gb HDD $47
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
This was only a few bucks more for a better HDD and more capacity. There are $40 drives out there, but with shipping on those, this was only $5 more.

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

Total: $455 delivered - $60 mir = $395.

If you need a monitor, $100 will get you a 1280x1024 or 1440x900. That's about as far as I'd push the 9600 GSO for gaming.
August 12, 2009 2:11:57 PM

If you mean this thread to contain only your own builds, let me know and I'll delete most of this post, but for $400 I would MUCH prefer the following:

Plain but perfectly reasonable case. Add a front 120mm fan if you intend serious overclocking.
Rosewill R102-P-BK 120mm Fan MicroATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
Model #:R102-P-BK
Item #:N82E16811147111
$29.99 $29.99

HD3300 on this board is capable of playing some games. Add a GPU when/as your budget allows.
BIOSTAR TA790GX XE AM2+/AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Model #:TA790GX XE
Item #:N82E16813138140
$94.99 -$10.00 Instant $84.99

Solid, stable, efficient, reliable PSU. Can handle up to a 4850.
Antec earthwatts EA380 380W Continuous Power ATX12V v2.0 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply - Retail
Model #:EA380
Item #:N82E16817371005
$59.99 $59.99

Cheap. http://www.anandtech.com/bench/default.aspx?p=96&p2=66 shows the x2 250 vs. an Intel 5200; except in a very few things, the little 250 beats the Intel. The 545 will have it for lunch. The 5200 is a good OC chip, but the necessary cooler will either break the budget, or make it the same price as a 720BE, which will beat it.
AMD Phenom II X2 545 Callisto 3.0GHz Socket AM3 80W Dual-Core Processor Model HDX545WFGIBOX - Retail
Model #:HDX545WFGIBOX
Item #:N82E16819103694
$89.99 $89.99

Decent timings, and adheres to JEDEC standard.
mushkin 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996557 - Retail
Model #:996557
Item #:N82E16820146692
$59.99 $59.99

Blacks are faster, but more expensive.
Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
Model #:WD3200AAKS
Item #:N82E16822136074
$54.99 -$5.00 Instant $49.99

Eh. Optical drive; nothing special, but has Lightscribe.
SAMSUNG DVD Burner Black SATA Model SH-S223L LightScribe Support - OEM
Model #:SH-S223L
Item #:N82E16827151188

$28.99 $28.99

Ends up being slightly higher, but no rebate games.
Subtotal: $403.93

At the low end, where systems like this live, gaming on the HD3300 will be possible at 1280x1024 or 1440x900. Will still be around when you've saved up another $100 for a GPU, unlike an Apevia-powered box, which will likely have croaked.

August 12, 2009 9:32:54 PM

No, by all means, fire away. I love discussions and others views that make me think.

As for the build, I was looking at an AMD build when I ran into a question that hasn't been answered yet in another thread. Question?

But I assumed I'd need a GPU of some sort, since I had a 6600GT which is at the same level as the HD3300. It did okay for HL2 and CSS, but I wouldn't expect the HD3300 to play any of the newer games. But these benchies show it is possible below 1280x1024, but not reliably for all titles. 785G game benchmarks. Having to work in a GPU and not knowing if a cheap AMD mobo would limit the Athlon IIs, I went with what I knew. Being a bargain catagory bbuild, I knew there would be sacrifices for quality and spending just a little more would have good returns, but it was outside the goal of the build.

The build you have is definately better for options when more money does come in.
August 12, 2009 10:20:40 PM

Now here's a formating type question for this thread. Do you like the idea of how this thread is a set up as a directory of links to other threads?

Or do it like this last post, where its all in one, and then linked within this thread? It would have the advantage on not spamming the forum, but does make it harder for discusion since 2 or more builds could be discussed as questions about them come up.
August 17, 2009 6:12:40 AM

Once again, instead of spamming with another thread, I'm just going to post here. As long as the previous build chat has died down, shouldn't be a problem. If per chance you want to discuss the $400 build above, a new thread was made for that price point. Use the link in the directory and discuss it there. Here's my $500 build now:

Very similar to the $400, just with some upgrades and updated pricing.
$500 Build

GPU: 9600 GT 512mb DDR3
$63 = $82-$20mir + $1 shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Combo
CPU: AMD Phenom II x2 545 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Mobo: Gigabyte 785g microATX http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$140 w/ free shipping http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Ram: 4gb OCZ Reaper DDR2 1066
$43 = $68 - $25 mir w/free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Combo:
PSU: OCZ Modxstream Pro 500w http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
Optical: Samsung DVD burner w/lightscribe http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$72 = $80 - $20 mir + $12 shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Case: Rosewill mid ATX w/built in 120mm top fan and 80mm side fan
$40 w/ free shipping
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Combo
HDD: Western Digital Caviar Blue 250mb KS http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
OS: Windows vista HP w/ free Win7 upgrade http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$143 w/ free shipping http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Total $501 = $553 - $65mir + $13 shipping

If you have a few extra bucks, the HDD can be upgraded to the 320gb version.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

If you want an aftermarket cooler, you can get the 9600 GSO for $40 ($23 less)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
And then add the Sunbeam Core Contact Freezer 120mm with TX-2 paste for $25
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This system will run games at 1280x1024 or 1440x900 rather well. If you need a monitor, get a $100 monitor at these resolutions and build the $400 system.
!