Building a $1,200 Gaming PC

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Within a week or two
BUDGET RANGE: About $1,200
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, programming, surfing the web
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, dvd burner
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com
PARTS PREFERENCES: intel/nvidia
OVERCLOCKING: No
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1440x900
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I am willing to go above my budget a bit if it means getting a noticeable better part, or will have a significant benefit in the long run.

I have a list of parts that am thinking about (below), and i was wondering what people's opinions on them are. Also I am not entirely sure about the graphic cards, but then again I plan to run my system by 1440x900 so it should be more than enough.

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz ~ 279.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202

Cooling: Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm ~ 55.40
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835702007

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R ~ 189.99 (15 rebate)
OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit ~ 109.99
Combo: Both ~ 269.99 (not include the rebates)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128375
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116677
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.234348

Video Card: EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 ~ 184.99 (30 rebate)
Memory: CORSAIR XMS3 DHX 4GB (2 x 2GB) ~ 124.99 (15 rebate)
Combo: Both ~ 279.99 (not including rebates)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130434
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820145200
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.237048

HD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM ~ 69.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136320

Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP ~ 89.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196

PSU: COOLER MASTER UCP RS700-AAAAA3 700W ~ 99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171032
7 answers Last reply
More about building gaming
  1. For an i7 you should use a triple channel kit so you know it only requires the allowed 1.65 volts
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227381
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.231560

    You can also save a ton by switch to ATI, a 4850 will play everything on high at that resolution, and saves you $35 off the price of the GTX260 after rebates
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150351
  2. +1 to hunter's suggestions. The 4850 would be a good option and then if you ever upgrade your monitor or want a new gpu the DX11 cards will be out in the fall from AMD.

    I would go with the OCZ Platinum that hunter linked.

    You said No to CF or SLI and no to overclocking, so you do not need an aftermarket HSF or a 700watt psu. My word of advice is to definitely overclock. It is super easy and there are tons of tutorials online. It also stretches your dollar even further.

    For the PSU I would go with this : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139005
    For the HDD get the WD Caviar Black 640gb. It is faster then the 500gb version.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319
  3. Quote:
    Cooling: Vigor Monsoon III LT Dual 120mm ~ 55.40
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6835702007
    Would suggest one of these CPU HSF Coolers', the main reason is that the CPU Cooler you have choosen will block the ram slot nearest the Cpu.

    XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V 120mm Long Life Bearing CPU Cooler - Retail $44.98 Free Shipping*
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233029

    Scythe MUGEN-2 $36.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185093

    CoGage True Spirit Heatpipe CPU Cooler with 120mm PWM Silent Fan for Intel LGA1366 $37.95
    http://www.performance-pcs.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=450&products_id=26022

    Quote:
    Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP ~ 89.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6811119196

    PSU: COOLER MASTER UCP RS700-AAAAA3 700W ~ 99.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6817171032
    Get this Combo of the PSU/Case, comes with Modular PSU.
    1. Cooler Master RS-700-AMBA-D3: $109.99 Free Shipping*

    2. Cooler Master SGC-2000-KKN1-GP: $89.99 Free Shipping*

    Combo Discount: -$30.00
    Combo Price: $169.98
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.231301

    Quote:
    HD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM ~ 69.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Prod [...] 6822136320
    I would suggest you go with the WD 640gb Black for $5.00 more, has 5yr warranty.
    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache $74.99 Free Shipping*
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

    Items you will need.
    Thermal Compound and Thermal Cleaner.
    Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound - Retail $9.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608008

    You will need this 8-pin Power Extension Cable for most Cases that has Bottom Mounted PSU.
    1ST PC CORP. 12" 8-pin EPS extension cable Model CB-8M-8F - Retail $8.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812706004

    Now to the Operating System. My suggestion would be to download the Free Windows 7 RC 64-bit and then buy the full version when it comes out.

    Download Link for Windows 7 RC
    http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windows-7/get/download.aspx

    Hope these suggestions helped out some.
  4. Hey, let me start off by saying thank you all for the input.

    So from what I can gather, I should change the ram, and hd that I have selected to the ones listed above. As for the ATI card, while I do like ATI, I have heard from co-workers that intel cpus work better with nvidia cards, so am not sure if I should switch it. But then again, I do like saving money, so I’ll look into this.

    Guess I’ll give overclocking a shot, my only hesitation with it, is that I plan on using the computer for years and for some reason I think overclocking might cause issues with the machine in the long run.

    @Yoosty: Good catch on the cooling, I think I’ll go with the XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V as a replacement. As for the OS, Vista comes with a coupon for Windows 7, so am going to keep it in the list.

    Anywho, as of right now, this is the list of parts that I am planning on getting.
    CPU: Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz ~ $279.99
    Memory: OCZ Platinum 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ~ $114.99
    Combo: $382.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115202
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227381
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.231560

    Cooling: XIGMATEK Dark Knight-S1283V ~ $44.98
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835233029

    Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-EX58-UD3R ~ $189.99 ($15 rebate)
    OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit ~ $109.99
    Combo: Both ~ $269.99 (not include the rebates)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128375
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116677
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.234348

    Video Card: EVGA 896-P3-1255-AR GeForce GTX 260 Core 216 ~ $184.99 ($30 rebate)
    Or
    Video Card: XFX HD-485X-ZDFC Radeon HD 4850 1GB ~ $119.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814130434
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150351

    HD: Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB ~ $74.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

    Case: COOLER MASTER Storm Scout SGC-2000-KKN1-GP ~ $89.99
    PSU: COOLER MASTER RS-700-AMBA-D3 700W ATX12V V2.3 ~ $109.99
    Combo: $169.98
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817171037
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.231301

    Thermal Items: Noctua NT-H1 Thermal Compound ~ $9.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835608008

    Extra cable: 1ST PC CORP. 12" 8-pin EPS extension cable Model CB-8M-8F ~ $8.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812706004

    Nvidia build total: $1146.90 ($1101.90)
    ATI build total: $1081.90 ($1066.90)
  5. Um, was looking at your monitor resolution and this build looks great, but it is also complete overkill in terms of power for what you can actually use on your monitor. You could instead get a decent 22 or 24 inch monitor and a kickass gaming rig for that $1200 no probs- and you would be getting a much better gaming experience/value for the money.
    Also xigmatek is a great cooler, but is a bit inadequate when it comes to cooling the beast that is the i7. There are better out coolers out there for similar prices such as the titan fenrir and the thermalright ultra 120 exe (don't waste money on the complete copper one though, it is heavy and not any better).

    Here is a great gaming build + 24 inch monitor:

    CPU and Memory combo:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.237831

    Case:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119196

    PSU:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817341011

    2x 4870's in CF:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150394

    MOBO:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131366

    24 INCH widescreen Monitor!
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16824236048

    HDD:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319

    Optical Drive:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151187

    Total price: $1172

    This build will not only give you an awesome 24 inch monitor - but it will also beat the above i7 builds in all games at high resolution and settings.
    What!?
    How you might ask?, well it is because gaming at high resolution is gpu bound and not cpu bound. The i7 will win in apps performance and memory bandwidth, but in the real world of gaming this is meaningless. Games require much more GPU power (if that is measured in terms of $ spent) than CPU power to perform well.

    Bottom line - if you really want a great gaming experience then spend the money where it counts - the GPUs.

    That is not to say that the i7 isn't great - it most definitely is, it is just to state that for the money you have it is not the best choice if you wish to have the best gaming performance. It is also overkill for 1440 x 900, so a better monitor will really give you a much better gaming experience. 1920 x 1200 has 2304000 pixels while your monitor has only 1296000 - imagine the difference! Better yet go to the pc store and see for yourself. My laptop has a max 1440 x 900 res and believe me - I wish I had the money for a 24 inch screen.

    Anyways -good luck with your build
  6. Here is also an idea for a $1200 I7 build if you like RED and BLACK:
    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2555/3826886809_7b4cd53b11.jpg
  7. Hey, thanks for the info. I have 2 things i need to check out now (video cards and cooling) when i have the time. Anywho, part of the reason why i went for the i7 is that i program a bit, not much right now since am working, but that might change soon. I don't suppose you know how the AMD cpu you suggested stacks up to the i7 for programming purposes?
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