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$750-850 Gaming PC

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August 17, 2009 4:02:57 AM

Good evening! I'm looking for some advice on a new build. Any and all feedback will be appreciated and considered.

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: About a month from today.

BUDGET RANGE: $750-850, after taxes and shipping cost.

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, general web browsing, watching movies, listening to music.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: DVD/DVD-RW drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS. I'm planning on using Windows 7 RC while I can (already downloaded a copy in preparation) as my current PC is running Windows XP x84 and I'd like to use 4GB of RAM or more if possible. I have a Western Digital 160GB SATA hard drive that I purchased about a year ago for my old build, but am looking to pair it with a larger drive in my new build.

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: I prefer Newegg - have purchased parts for a build from them in the past with great results.

PARTS PREFERENCES: From the little research I've done, it seems like one of the AMD Phenom II x4 processors would yield the best bang for the buck and my Athlon 64 3200 has served me well for the past four years or so. I'd like a mid-tower case and an Asus or Gigabyte motherboard.

OVERCLOCKING: No.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm pretty easy, just looking for reliable parts that will give me the most performance I can squeeze out of my budget. I've already assembled a list of some components, but I'm not married to any of them in particular, and am in need of suggestions for a power supply and hard drive:

Motherboard:
ASUS M4A78T-E AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
or
GIGABYTE GA-MA790XT-UD4P AM3 DDR3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

CPU:
AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail

Memory:
OCZ Gold 6GB (3 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Low Voltage Desktop Memory Model OCZ3G1600LV6GK - Retail

Video Card:
XFX HD-487A-ZHFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

Case:
RAIDMAX SMILODON ATX-612WB Black 1.0mm SECC Steel ATX Mid Tower Foldout MB Computer Case - Retail

Comes out to about $750 with those components after taxes and shipping. As I mentioned above, I would like some suggestions on an appropriate power supply and hard drive (looking for around 500GB or so of storage).

Thanks

More about : 750 850 gaming

August 17, 2009 4:19:35 AM

You dont need a triple channel kit for an AMD system this ram will work better and saves you 30.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Dont forget to look for combos
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

This PSU for $70 would power it fine, if you want to crossfire down the line then you need the second one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The 640GB Caviar Black is a good drive, its only $75 right now
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
August 17, 2009 4:35:59 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not really interested in Crossfire, probably won't be able to afford another card very soon as I'm a poor college student. The hard drive and PSU look good - was actually looking at those earlier today. Will the CPU/Mobo combo still be available in a month? I'm looking to purchase as close to the 15th of September as I can. Also, can you explain about the RAM?
Related resources
August 17, 2009 4:53:05 AM

Combos tend to vaporize at the end of each month and then slowly settle out in the first two weeks of the month, that combo wont be around but a better one might be.

The triple channel kits are specifically for the i7 which has a triple channel memory controller that gets damaged above 1.65 volts, so they are low voltage kits with 3 sticks of ram, all other processors use dual channel memory and give you a performance boost if you use an even number of sticks of ram. The price for the ram will likely decrease over the next few weeks, newegg seems to be going through a massive DDR3 ram shortage like their SATA DVD burner shortage a few weeks ago.
August 17, 2009 5:00:25 AM

Good to know, thanks again. With the combo deal on the motherboard, it seems to make sense buying the Phenom x4 955 BE now - what about in a month when I finally purchase? If it's no longer a deal, would the build suffer too much from stepping down to a Phenom x4 945?
August 17, 2009 5:04:58 AM

They both seem to overclock to the same level and the difference in speed isnt that much so they will perform rather similarly. That combo seems to be recurring to varying degrees of combo discount, cant predict the combos in september but one of the high end phenom II x4's should have a good combo deal associated with it and a 790GX motherboard. Try to get a board from ASUS or Gigabyte, there was an MSI board getting offered in a combo with the 945 that seems to have a very high failure rate so be wary of super combos with cheap boards, they tend to be cheap for a reason.
August 17, 2009 5:10:37 AM

I would go q8200 + ep45-ds3r

instead of the amd build. its very sweet if you OC
August 17, 2009 5:22:55 PM

messerchmidt said:
I would go q8200 + ep45-ds3r

instead of the amd build. its very sweet if you OC


i wouldn't, s775 is a dead end with no upgrades, and i don't think the Q8200 will be up to speed to the amd (and don't say OC it, the amd can OC good as well)
no virtualization if he wants to try Windows 7 with the xp virtualization built in
August 17, 2009 8:18:23 PM

messerchmidt said:
I would go q8200 + ep45-ds3r

instead of the amd build. its very sweet if you OC



Fail.
August 18, 2009 1:06:54 AM

They appear to have gained that stability by upping the voltage, go with the 1333MHz ones i suggested, the lower voltage will allow you to overclock them yourself and slowly up the voltage, the 1600MHz ones are already at the max safe voltage for DDR3 memory.
August 18, 2009 1:17:32 AM

messerchmidt said:
I would go q8200 + ep45-ds3r

instead of the amd build. its very sweet if you OC



You should probably read a few hardware reviews

the intel system is not in the same league as the AMD the OP is proposing , and its obsolete making it even worse value
August 21, 2009 4:57:58 AM

Can anyone recommend this board over the Asus M4A78T-E? The board in my current build is an Asus; I had some trouble with the Northbridge fan on it (found it dangling off the board one day, was causing my PC to shut itself down after about twenty minutes) but it looks like Asus has switched to passive cooling anyway.

GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard
August 21, 2009 5:22:26 AM

RedBalloon said:
Can anyone recommend this board over the Asus M4A78T-E? The board in my current build is an Asus; I had some trouble with the Northbridge fan on it (found it dangling off the board one day, was causing my PC to shut itself down after about twenty minutes) but it looks like Asus has switched to passive cooling anyway.

GIGABYTE GA-MA790X-UD4P AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard



the quality of either ASUS or gigabyte is usually very high

The board you mention here is really an AM2+ mb that must use ddr2 , but it can also run an AM3 processor .

I think sticking with AM3 gives you a higher level of future proofing
August 21, 2009 5:26:22 AM

Overlooked the DDR2 requirement! Thanks for pointing that out, definitely leaning toward the Asus board now.
August 26, 2009 5:01:25 AM

Another question as I'm researching more into this build.

I'm planning on salvaging the DVD-RW drive from my current computer to use with my new computer. I'm fairly certain that it connects to the motherboard via an IDE cable, not SATA (bought it about five years ago). Will I be able to connect this optical drive to the Asus M4A78T-E? If not, what about the Gigabyte MA790XT?
August 26, 2009 2:40:54 PM

Both of those boards should have an IDE connection for one ribbon cable. One ribbon cable = two IDE devices.
August 27, 2009 2:46:40 AM

Great shortstuff_mt, thank you! Is there any noticeable difference between the performance of those two boards and the AMD 790 flavors, aside from the crossfire, integrated GPU, and overclocking abilities? I don't plan to overclock or use crossfire, so if those are the only things I'm losing for the price difference, I'd rather save the money and buy the cheaper board.

Edit:

Also, I'm favoring this case over the Raidmax Smilodon I mentioned in the original post:

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

So far the only complaints I've seen about this case is the lack of a front space for the floppy drive (never used my old one) and difficulty with cable management. The airflow is supposed to be good, and it comes with some fans and dust filters for the intake. I'm used to cleaning dust bunnies out of my computer, so anything to alleviate that headache sounds good to me.
August 27, 2009 6:33:46 AM

The performance of the 770 chipset motherboards will be just as good as the 790 ones. You won't be losing any performance going with the 770 chipset boards.

The Antec 300 is a very nice case. I've used it and always been happy with it. I thought the cable management was pretty good. Yes, it does have good airflow and front dust filters.
August 28, 2009 3:02:44 AM

Thanks again for your feedback.

With some of the money saved on the motherboard, I was thinking up bumping up the GPU to a HD4890. This takes me over the $850 mark with taxes and shipping, but I'm hoping that when I go to buy in a couple of weeks' time, I'll be able to find a combo deal on the 770 motherboards. Maybe the component prices will go down enough to place me back in my target, too - the Phenom II x4 955 has already dropped $15 since I started researching this build.

Anyway, these are the 4890s I've been looking at. Are they worth the bump up in price, or am I better off saving the cash and sticking with the HD4870 GPU?

HIS H489FT1GP Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Turbo OC Edition - Retail

XFX HD-489A-ZDFC Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
August 28, 2009 9:35:43 AM

Hey guys, I hope my reply is ok for this thread. I hope I am not intruding.

I am looking at a build similar to his. I have a couple questions about AMD parts because I am unfamiliar with them.

So, are Am3 boards future proof? Why?

Looking at what people are suggesting, the 770 MB can only have 1 graphics card. Say the new cards come out, would 650 watt psu be good enough?

Is a single graphics card option better than crossfire? I don't know how this came up but maybe someone may have an answer to this.

Is the quad core Amd cpu worth the money? I see a lot of people looking at the 720be.

In regard to Amd CPUs, what is coming out next? Should I look forward to those, and are they going to be on the Am3 Mb?

What is a good heat sink for an Amd Cpu?

Thanks guys
August 28, 2009 2:09:30 PM

I'll try to answer your questions from the research that I've been doing over the past couple of weeks on my own build.

From what I understand, AM3 boards are future-proof because the AM2 and previous CPUs are being phased out. AM3 CPUs are the latest available, giving you the widest time window for upgrading your CPU without having to replace your motherboard when new chips come out in the future.

I was told that 550W power supplies are good for single GPU builds, while crossfire requires at least 650W. The PSU required for your system will ultimately depend on what components you are using in your build.

Crossfire is better than a single GPU in that two of the same GPUs are better than one. It also costs twice as much to buy two cards and requires a bump up in motherboard cost and PSU cost. From what I've seen in the TH charts, the performance increase is substantial, but not twice as better as simply using one card. The cost is really the biggest factor; I have a gut feeling that when I decide it's time to upgrade my GPU, a new single GPU will probably outperform two of my current cards in Crossfire. Also, DirectX 11 cards are near release and I will probably end up upgrading to one of those mid-range GPUs later on.

Your ability to take advantage of a quad-core CPU depends on programs you run as I believe they must be designed to run on quad-core systems in order for performance to increase. The 720be has been widely recommended for gaming builds on this forum, I'm sticking with the 955be just to be a little more future proof for newer programs I may use.

And from what I've read, the stock coolers on the retail AMD CPUs perform well enough in most cases. I'd rather defer that question to someone else who knows better than me, though, if you really want an after-market cooler.

Once you start getting a list together of some parts, you should really start your own thread to make sure that your build is being considered in light of your unique usage and budget. I'd be really interested to see what suggestions you get! Check out the first post for the accepted template for build feedback requests.
August 28, 2009 4:55:25 PM

Wow! Thanks for the info Red. That really helped. So from what I am saying. You are going for a 770 motherboard and 650 watt psu is future proof for single graphics cards even future ones.

Im just curious, can you have more than 6gb of ram for an AMD build in the 770 mobo? Is it worth it? Can you upgrade later with your 4gb ram choice you have there?
August 29, 2009 7:28:28 PM

The 770 motherboard supports up to 16GB of RAM (4 sticks of 4GB, presumably). You don't want 6GB as the RAM works more effectively in dual channel, meaning that you'll want either two sticks of 2GB or four sticks of 2GB. Apparently 4GB is enough for gaming today, but there's always room to add another two sticks of RAM for 8GB, or as much as 16GB (though I haven't seen any 4GB sticks of RAM packaged together).
September 9, 2009 4:09:18 AM

So I'm planning on buying in about a week. So far I've got an AMD build planned that looks like this:



Case: Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Power Supply: CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail

Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

CPU and Video Card combo:

-AMD Phenom II X4 945 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM3 95W Quad-Core Processor Model HDX945WFGIBOX - Retail
-HIS H487FN1GP Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail

Link

Memory: Patriot 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model PDC34G1333LLK - Retail

OS: Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM


The build comes to $933.52 after taxes and shipping (I threw in a Rosewill SATA to USB external hard drive enclosure, it was $20).

I realized that I would need a new OS as my old copy of 32 bit XP was OEM and I can't reuse it, and I'm actually saving ten bucks for a brand new OS over an upgrade copy that I would inevitably buy later.

I've seen the hype around the new Intel i5's and if the performance warrants a switch, I'd like to completely rework my build around the i5 750 CPU without going way over my budget. Keep in mind that I don't want to Crossfire and will be gaming on my 22" 1920 x 1080 Asus LCD.

I put together an i5 build on Newegg with the same parts and it cost close to $1000, a little too rich for me. If anyone has suggestions I'd be really grateful to hear them, don't want to regret my decision when I've got so many options in front of me.

Thanks!
September 9, 2009 5:47:53 AM

Nice Red. If you have to, just wait and take your time. Whats that i7 build that you have? Can I check that out? I'm in your situation again. I don't know what to get. I want future proof. The amd motherboards are able to house newer AMD cpu, am I right? the lg 1336 motherboard for Intel is future proof as well. So what does i5 have?
September 9, 2009 1:44:39 PM

Meant to say an i5 build, my bad. Not considering an i7.

I'm not sure if the i5 CPU socket is future proof... Basically, I just want to know if I can afford a similar i5 build to the AMD build I described a couple of posts up; I've seen the reviews and the i5 outperforms even the Phenom II 965BE in most applications.
!