My first build: $600-900 AMD system for SimCity and X-Plane

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: As soon as I figure out what I need (a week?)

BUDGET RANGE: $600 - $900

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: SimCity 4 Rush Hour, X-Plane, web

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: kb, mouse, 17" monitor

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: looks like newegg is good

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1024x768, 1280x1024

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm completely new to this, but can read and
learn, with a little guidance in the right direction. I've only used Macs, but for the money, it looks like a Windows machine will be best for what I want to do, plus be upgradeable instead of a one-time buy. Means learning a new OS. Means learning about the hardware. Ok then, if that's what it takes.

From what I've read here so far, this is my list:
AMD Phenom II X3 720 (1 GB?)
WD Caviar Black 620 HD (plus a 2nd ,hopefully cheaper, HD just for back-ups)
Radeon 4870 (1 GB?)
Corsair 650tx power supply
Antec 300 Illusion or NZXT Tempest or Cooler Master 690 Case
Vista with 7 upgrade

unclear on the DDR2 vs DDR3 choice and which motherboard, could use major advice there.

I want to be able to run a 6 year old program, SimCity 4 Rush Hour, that has a reputation for being a processor hog. All those commuting sims have to make route decisions, and the population can get into the millions. I guess a 64-bit processor can run an old program like that. And then X-Plane has detailed scenery that probably works the graphics card hard. The common thing to both these games is there's a large community making add-ons for them (roads, buildings planes etc.).

After I decide on the hardware, I'll have to figure out how to put it together, and then how to set up the software. At this point dealing with the bios and over-clocking sounds scary, but there must be places that explain it all.

Thanks for any help. Let me know if I left out something.
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  1. The 650TX is nice, but not needed for your build. Here's a build that would work great for your intended use for a pretty good price:

    AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103649

    Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371020

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.233382 $178.99 (CPU + PSU combo)

    GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128392&Tpk=gigabyte%20sb710%20770 $84.99

    mushkin XP 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996657 - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820146871 $99.99

    SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 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=N82E16814102825 $149.99

    Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136319&Tpk=wd6401aals

    Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM (Includes free Windows 7 updrade coupon)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116677

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.235895.22-136-319 $169.98 (HD + OS combo)

    SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 22X DVD-R 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA DVD Burner LightScribe Support - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151188 $30.99

    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066&Tpk=antec%20300%20illusion $64.95

    Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136074&Tpk=wd3200aaks $49.99

    Total - $829.87

    The 4870 1GB is major overkill for your resolution. You could go with a 4850 to save a little money unless you plan on upgrading your monitor soon.
  2. Thank you for the suggestions. Should I go ahead and order individual combos as I decide the parts, or wait and order it all together?

    The Mushkin DDR3 costs more than the G-Skill or a few others. Is it better?

    Thanks for getting the power in line with my system. I wasn't sure about that.
  3. I'll go with the 4850 for $120, since I doubt I'll be upgrading my monitor. This 4850 1Gb card gets good ratings:
    XFX HD-485X-ZDFC Radeon HD 4850 1GB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150351
  4. How you order the parts is up to you, but I prefer to order all the parts at the same time.

    The Mushkin RAM has tight timings at a low voltage. Mushkin also makes very high quality RAM. I've also had good luck with G.Skill RAM. The most important thing is fast RAM with tight timings at a reasonably low voltage. If you find a G.Skill kit with similar specs as the Mushkin RAM, I'd go for it. Newegg's RAM choices have dried up a little lately.

    That XFX 4850 is nice. I especially like the dual-slot cooler that exhausts the hot air outside the case.
  5. Nice build from shortstuff. I did have to re-read the OP carefully to see why the second hard drive was included. Especially if you're still using the Mac, and want to transfer files, consider putting the second hard drive in an external case with USB and/or Firewire connections so it can connect to both of those systems. Make sure to format it with something that both can read (FAT32?)
  6. You don't need the 4850 1GB version, at that resolution, 512MB is more than enough to run everything really well.
  7. Transmaniacon said:
    You don't need the 4850 1GB version, at that resolution, 512MB is more than enough to run everything really well.

    That's true, but the difference is only $10. I would pay the extra $10 for the 1GB model if it was me.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&Description=xfx%204850&bop=And&ActiveSearchResult=True&Order=PRICE
  8. Oh yea in that case... Its been a couple months since I was in the market for a new video card, guess prices came down a little =)
  9. I just made my first big decision. Ordered the AMD Phenom II x3 720 and Antec 550W TruePower combo that was suggested by shortstuff_mt. Hope to have it all ordered in 2 or 3 days days.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.233382
    Thank you for the good ideas.
  10. You're on your way to a very nice build. Let us know how it goes!
  11. Onus said:
    Nice build from shortstuff. I did have to re-read the OP carefully to see why the second hard drive was included. Especially if you're still using the Mac, and want to transfer files, consider putting the second hard drive in an external case with USB and/or Firewire connections so it can connect to both of those systems. Make sure to format it with something that both can read (FAT32?)


    I didn't mention this in the original post, since it didn't seem to matter then, but besides my iMac, I have an XP music computer I had someone build for me a few years ago. It is using a 9 year old Compaq mother board, but it has a nice Audigy sound card and software for up-sampling CD files to FLAC. I haven't touched the XP software though, I wouldn't know how to do anything with it. I just turn the computer on and play music. There's also a WD IDE 80MB HD in there that I guess could be networked with the computer I am going to build, and use that as a backup.
  12. There's nothing left of the old Compaq other than the motherboard. It has a Platronics DVD burner, an old 300W PSU, and it's in a pretty nice mini tower Silverstone case (M ATX I think they're called).
  13. Guess I was thinking out loud in those last two posts. I'd gotten the idea that maybe I could use the old stuff, including the mini-case, for the new computer. But after doing some measuring, I saw that wasn't happening. But maybe I can move the Audigy sound card and the 80MB hard drive into the new computer.

    I just finished ordering everything. Comes to $817 after all the combos, rebates, and shipping. Spent more on a case than I planned. but there was a coupon for $15 off the Antec 900. Spent a little more on the memory, but it may be faster and clockable, if I understand what was said earlier. I got a HSF I hadn't planned on, but the one that comes with the Phenom x3 sounds pretty bad, and after reading a few hundered reviews, I'm looking forward to at least upping the multiplier (whatever that is, to be learned next week). Do here's the list, maybe it'll be of some use to someone else working on a similiar system:

    AMD Phenom II x3 720 Black
    Gigabyte 770 MoBo
    Mushkin 4GB DDR3
    XFX Radeon 4850 1GB
    WD Caviar Black 640 SATA HD
    Samsung SATA DVD
    Antec 900 case
    Antec TP550 psu
    Xigmatek S1283 HSF
    Arctic Silver 5

    Thanks for the help, here and at all the other threads like this one from the last few weeks. I've learned a lot, and now it's on to researching how to put it all together.
  14. Nice build and wish u success in your DIY adventure ^^
  15. Thanks, batuchka.

    I forgot one thing in that list, the OS: Vista Home Premium 64-bit with 7 coupon.
  16. And one last item, evidently important if over-clocking using the Gig 770 motherboard:
    Enzotech MST-88 C1100 Forged Copper Heatsinks MOSFET Cooler
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835708016
    Adds about $18, with shipping, for total of $835 for this system.
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