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Building a mid ranged value gaming system.

Last response: in Systems
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August 13, 2009 8:59:07 AM

first off, my current rig.

Amd athlon 6000+ @ 3.0 ghz
2 gigs kingston value type ram
EVGA geforce 8600 gt 256mb
MSI K9-vgm motherboard
550 watt cooler master PSU
ide based hard drives - various sizes
windows xp home


this little guy, however noisy, does a pretty good job for the games i play, like crysis, civ 4, guild wars, supreme commander, bioshock, etc.

but while it performs ok, its starting to show its age, i believe some components are beginning to show signs of failure (although not really tested for this), and this system wasn't exactly built any specific idea in mind.. just with what was available at the store, at that particular time.

After as much researching as i could stand i have come up with this so far.

COOLER MASTER Elite 330 case
GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3 motherboard
ASUS Radeon HD 4870 1GB
OCZ Fatal1ty 550 watt PSU
AMD Phenom II X2 550 Black Edition Callisto 3.1GHz
G.SKILL 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066
Average medias like SATA HD and a DVD rom.

windows xp home (i realize that xp home won't recognize all of my RAM but i plan to jump on the windows 7 wagon when it rolls into town)

all of these at newegg right now is gonna set me back $700.94 excluding shipping and additional taxes.

thing i still don't have planned out yet are additional ventilation and if i'll need an aftermarket CPU cooling fan. if i can figure it out i'll probably overclock the CPU (not at all a hardware hacker.. or any kind of hacker for that matter :p )

My 2 biggest goals with this rig is to keep it around the $700 dollar range without compromising performance and to upgrade enough to justify liquidating my old rig.. (meaning is this new build going to blow my old rig away? or just surpass it a bit?)

this is the first computer i'll be building where some actual thought is going into it and i would greatly appreciate any advice, hardware suggestions, changes or simply a better idea on a better value specification that anyone might have.

sorry for the ridiculous wall of text..

tl;dr?

will my new rig be better than my old rig? i want to play games without spending more than $700
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August 13, 2009 9:46:59 AM

for my monitor i have a 22" acer that runs at 1680x1050. when i'm gaming i'm not super picky and usually just sit with the resolution that performs best. thanks for the ram and motherboard compatibility heads up!

haha the 720 was my first choice actually but the price gap was a bit more when i settled for the 550. thanks for the updated info!

concerning the ram issue, would it be worthwhile to stick with the ddr2 ram while getting the am3 pocessor? or should i just go with the other board mentioned and just get some ddr3 ram.. the price difference looks like it would be in the realm of about $40..

which i suppose really answers my question..

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August 13, 2009 9:53:26 AM

a strange update

switching to the triple core BE prcoessor, a different mobo that supports DDR3 and switching to DDR3 ram has put my price at $640..

$60 dollars cheaper than i started out?!?
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August 13, 2009 10:06:50 AM

ARG i know why the sudden decrease in price.

went to newegg.com instead of newegg.CA

i'm in canada and had canadian prices.

switched back to previous products.

so now i'm sitting at around $730 which is ok with me after taking the triple core over the dual
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August 13, 2009 2:50:32 PM

Good choices (AM3 and 720BE).
If you need to lower the price (although it won't be by much any more), consider dropping back to a HD4850. Since you only have an 8600GT now, that's still a whopping improvement.
I have yet to see a competent technical review of that OCZ Fatal1ty PSU. That doesn't mean it's bad, it just makes it an unknown. OTOH, Antec Earthwatts or TruePower have received only positive competent technical reviews. A 550W TruePower New is $80 (oops, that's the US price).
On your case, consider a cheap Rosewill case instead of the Coolermaster. I used to buy cheap Coolermasters (including that one), and every single one of them had minor quality issues. All were usable (typically there would be untapped screw holes and misalignment). I switched to the cheap Rosewills, and had no such problems with any of them. The layout is very similar.

Edit: spelling, clarity.
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August 13, 2009 2:57:17 PM

^+1 about switching to a cheaper Rosewill case...I built my friend a rig and I decided to go with a cheaper Rosewill case in order to bring the build price down and it was totally worth it...actually, I was quite surprised at the quality of the case...
this was the case I got him (more than a year ago) but im pretty sure there are others from Rosewill that are just as good:http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811147038
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August 13, 2009 8:16:27 PM

Yea some of their cases are alright for budget builds. I just try to avoid their PSU's unless I absolutely cannot afford better.
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August 13, 2009 8:38:36 PM

awesome thanks for more input!

the cooler master at this point is running at around $49 CAD but if theres cheaper for better i'm definitely on it :) 

the fatality i went with for now simply due to a magazine review i had seen. otherwise i'm 100% clueless as far as PSUs go.. xD

that one rosewill case you mentioned is more expensive than the cooler master i have picked out. it would seem that the newegg.com customers get different products on sale than the newegg.ca customers :o 

for that particular case

newegg.ca = 79.99 CAD
newegg.com = 39.99 USD

:o 
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!