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

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Last response: in Systems
August 26, 2009 10:39:53 PM

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

BUDGET RANGE: $600 - $900


PARTS NOT REQUIRED: kb, mouse, 17" monitor

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



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.

More about : build 600 900 amd system simcity plane

August 26, 2009 10:56:41 PM

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

Antec TruePower New TP-550 550W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply $178.99 (CPU + PSU combo)

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail $84.99

mushkin XP 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model 996657 - Retail $99.99

SAPPHIRE Vapor-X Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $149.99

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium SP1 64-bit for System Builders w/ Tech Guarantee - OEM (Includes free Windows 7 updrade coupon) $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 $30.99

Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail $64.95

Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM $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.
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August 27, 2009 4:21:12 AM

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.
August 27, 2009 6:41:57 AM

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.
August 27, 2009 5:12:59 PM

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?)
August 27, 2009 6:27:27 PM

You don't need the 4850 1GB version, at that resolution, 512MB is more than enough to run everything really well.
August 27, 2009 8:20:09 PM

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 =)
August 27, 2009 10:50:13 PM

You're on your way to a very nice build. Let us know how it goes!
August 27, 2009 11:53:50 PM

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.
August 28, 2009 12:07:31 AM

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).
August 29, 2009 8:21:30 AM

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.
August 29, 2009 8:26:05 AM

Nice build and wish u success in your DIY adventure ^^
August 29, 2009 8:42:09 AM

Thanks, batuchka.

I forgot one thing in that list, the OS: Vista Home Premium 64-bit with 7 coupon.