Under 800 semi-gaming PC, need advice


BUDGET RANGE: under 800 Canadian w/ tax + shipping (lower the better, $600 would be awesome but most likely that's wishful thinking)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (mostly WoW, but would like to be able to play latest games, see detail in additional comments), HD movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speaker, OS (I have a copy of XP Pro 32bit)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: or or (basically any decent Canadian site)

PARTS PREFERENCES: I would like an Intel CPU but AMD is fine too if it's better for the price

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (if it doesn't require me spending extra money on cooling etc...)

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (not really important for what I use my computer for I think)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 (I have a Samsung 22')

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Ideally I would like to be able to play WoW on max settings (it doesn't seem to be very demanding anyways) and hopefully be able to most of the latest games on medium to low settings. Other than gaming I tend to open a lot of application at once (but shouldn't be too big of an issue because if it affects my games I will close other stuff anyways). Other than that, anything goes pretty much anything goes

I kinda made the following build based on random articles I read but I'm pretty sure some parts are over kill as I'm still kinda clueless (basically picking random products here and there). I haven't really looked into building my own computer since when Core 2 came out so I'm completely out of date on these things, and all the new products are really rather confusing.

Anyways, this is what I have:


BFG Tech BFGE98512GTGE GeForce 9800 GT 512MB 256-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported Video Card - Retail

Intel Pentium E5200 Wolfdale 2.5GHz 2MB L2 Cache LGA 775 65W Dual-Core Processor - Retail

CORSAIR XMS2 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Desktop Memory Model TWIN2X4096-8500C5C G - Retail

GIGABYTE GA-EP45-UD3L LGA 775 Intel P45 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail

OCZ ModXStream Pro OCZ500MXSP 500W ATX12V V2.2 / EPS12V SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply compatible with core i7 - Retail

COOLER MASTER RC-690-KKN1-GP Black SECC/ ABS ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail

Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 ST3160813AS 160GB 7200 RPM 8MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM

Total (pre-tax): $ 666.43
Tax (13%): $86.64
Total (after-tax): $753.07

Then add in $50 shipping (assuming that's enough), that's $800

Other notes:
- I don't really care about the HDD size, 160gb is plenty (I have a 1TB in an enclosure used as an external for storing stuff), so if there's anything cheaper I'd go for that. However, I don't know anything about performance in terms of cache and what not
- This computer doesn't necessarily have to be upgradeable. My target goal is to have it last me around 3 year or so. I don't expect it to play all the latest games coming out, so as long as it can play the current games somewhat decently that's great
- I haven't included a DVD drive but I'll most likely just buy a cheap one for $20 to $40. It's mostly only for reading game installation CD's anyways so I don't *think* it'll be necessary? (atleast I can't think of anything else I'd use it for)

Please advise, and thanks in advance
19 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about under semi gaming advice
  1. When you consider that it doesnt have to play future games or be upgradeable its a good rig that only needs a little tweaking

    The RAM should be 800 MHz , probably 4-4-4-12 timings . This wont be any difference in speed to the more expensive 1066MHz sticks you have listed in a C2D computer
    Patriot Viper 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800
    is an excellent price after the rebate

    The seagate 7200.11's had a fault , at least in the larger models . A western digital , or samsung is a safer option

    SAPPHIRE 100245HDMI Radeon HD 4850 512MB
    is slightly more powerful and you dont have to wait for a rebate . It will probably be a bit quieter thanks to the double slot cooler
  2. Hi, thanks for the advice, just a few more questions:

    - does ATI GPU work with Intel CPU/chipset (i think that's an intel chipset in the motherboard i picked) without any problems?

    - In term of the case, will any ATX case work? (wondering if I can slash some money there) I guess, mostly, will everything here fit any ATX case? For example something like which is $50 compared to $110

    - For the memory stick, should I be going with a DDR3 motherboard and DDR3 ram? I been reading some posts on this forum and they all seems to be pointing towards DDR3. As well, does the brand of the memory stick matter much?

    - For the CPU, is AMD better than Intel for my price range? For instance, i been looking at this other post which came out to be around my price range and the person suggested AMD Athlon II X2 250 Regor
    ^ see second post

    Again, thanks in advance (I apologize for any stupid questions)
  3. EDIT: Updated the post with parts name..
    This would be my suggestion...

    AMD Phenom X2 550

    Gigabyte 770

    GSkillz DDR3 1600MHz 4GB

    WD 320GB

    Corsair 400CX

    Graphics card -
    HD 4850 512MB

    CASE -
    Antec 300

    Total - CAD 599 (Not counting in US$20 Mail-In-Rebates)
    Has more powerful CPU, Graphics card, faster HDD, Very good case with nice airflow, DDR3 ...
  4. The mb you list does have an intel p45 chipset and it will work equally as well with nVidia or ATI gfx cards . Chipsets have restrictions when it comes to multiple gfx cards , but thats not an issue for you .

    ATX is a standard size , and you could use any ATX case with an ATX motherboard OR a micro- ATX motherboard
    But you cannot fit an ATX motherboard in to a m-ATX case
    Dont buy a case thats too cheap or the fans will be noisey and the air flow/cooling bad
    The antec 300 is very popular because it has excellent cooling and is cheap

    If you want a classy very quiet case with PSU already installed then
    Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply $120
    would save you $60

    You could also save a bit by buying a mb with a g41, G43 or p43 chipset . You lose some features but you probably wont need them anyway

    The ddr2/ddr3 issue is complex . DDR3 is the future , but has no advantages if you are using an intel C2d mb and cpu . Intel is stopping making them so they are on the edge of being obsolete . Remember you didnt particularly want upgradability ...........

    AMD or intel ......... AMD are usually better value right now

    Im a kiwi and I dont know the Canadian newegg site , but I will have a look for AMD alternatives
  5. If your budget allows, then get the 1GB version of the HD 4850...It would be good for that resolution...
    XFX HD4850 1GB

    Or this would be better...
    HD 4870 1GB

    But would require to switch to a little more powerful PSU...
    SeaSonic SS-500ET 500W
  6. Best answer
    OK so if I has $800 Canadian to spend Id do it like this

    Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W $120

    Micro-ATX so it doesnt have as many expansion slots , but the latest from AMD and good value .

    Seagate Barracuda 7200.12 ST3250318AS 250GB $55

    AMD Phenom II X2 545 3.0GHz + OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $167

    Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD $27.50

    SAPPHIRE 279L Radeon HD 4870 512MB $155

    Total is $629.50

    Much better cpu , latest AM3/DDR3 technology , quality silent case , much stronger video card
    Im surprised how much cheaper it is than the intel alternative

    EDIT : If you want to spend another $60 you can upgrade to the 720 be triple core processor
  7. Hi,

    Thanks so much for the replies. About the GPU, i noticed that gkay09 recommended the following GPU:

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

    and outlander recommended:
    SAPPHIRE 279L Radeon HD 4870 512MB

    For a price difference of approx $10, there's a gain of 512mb of memory, is that normal? Doesn't seem like a huge price difference for the memory difference, or is there something else?

    And if it's normal, should i be considering the 1gb one instead? or is the GPU good enough already that it's not worth it?
  8. ^ Get the 1GB version...It would be more helpful when you turn ON the settings high with AA and AF...

    And make sure you change your PSU to the SeaSonic SS-500ET 500W...
  9. Here's the final build I am considering (Hopefully the instant savings will last till when I place the order):

    Antec Sonata III 500 Black 0.8mm cold rolled steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W $120


    Western Digital Caviar Blue WD3200AAKS 320GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM $60

    AMD Phenom II X2 545 3.0GHz + OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 $167

    Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD $27.50

    XFX HD-487A-ZHFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail $163

    I am currently debating between the Sonata versus the Antec Three Hundred + the PSU (which will cost something like $10 more with the instant saving)

    Seeing as I won't be able to make the purchase for another week or so (sometimes near sept. 7th or 8th), I'm hoping the instant savings and combos will last till then

    Currently this all comes down to $774 ($650 before tax + shipping)

    question: is this rig OC-able and if so, should it be?

    also, will the 4870 fit in a micro board? it looks kinda big...
  10. To maybe simplify your decision, all the builds above are pretty good, including yours with the few minor tweaks already mentioned. If you plan to do high overclocks, the intel will overclock better. If not the AMD will get you higher stock speeds and decent marginal overclocks.
    You stated you are not too concerned about cranking up the AA and AF all the way, so a 512gb card is probably all you will ever need. For that same reason I would say save $50 and get the 4850
    If you decide later on you want stronger graphics these scale really well in crossfire. So I would suggest getting a MB that supports crossfire for a little future proofing. In the future you have a good upgrade path with crossfire, quad core support, and a good overclocking MB.
  11. If you want an easy overclock, then you would have to check out the X2 550 that I had listed as that has an unlocked multiplier, hence just by increasing the multiplier, you can achieve good overclock...But that is not the case with the X2 545...

    And by September, you can expect price cuts too...
    And do keep your options open as even intel's mainstream CPUs might provide a good deal...
  12. The antec 300 is a great gaming case . Pretty much the entire front is mesh so air can get in ... but that does let noise out as well . Its not bad , and if you are gaming a bit of fan noise doesnt make any difference to the sound of grenades exploding around you ...LOL

    The Sonata is a case thats got good cooling , and its very quiet which I like when I am working and writing . Its also a fabulous deal with that PSU.

    Personal choice really

    The 4870 is overkill for your resolution and usage but its going to guarantee you some head room

    M-atx motherboards are the same width as ATX , but shorter from top to bottom . The double height cooler on a gfx card will block 2 of the available four slots but it will fit .
  13. Thanks alot for all the advices. I think the idea with going with 4850 (512mb) and a crossfire enabled motherboard is probably a better idea (even though I said I didn't care about upgradability, guess that makes me a hypocrite :P). Besides, looking at some benchmarks, it doesn't seem like the 4870 will make a huge difference if I'm only mostly playing WoW right now anyways.

    So that being said, I guess that means I need to find a decently priced motherboard that supports crossfire, except I'm really kinda clueless (way too many motherboards listed on neweggs, and all i see is a bunch of letters and numbers >.>)

    GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail

    ^ that thing looks like it support crossfire and the X2 545/550 (whichever)

    so my question is, is that the board I should be going for? or is there a better alternative in terms of price/performance?
  14. the gigabyte is the best one listed but any 790 gx AM3 mb is fine

    The asus is more expensive and not better

    and if you want to save a few $$$ then this ASROCK [ made by asus ]
  15. You should check out this board...

    And as you say, if you dont find the extra cash worth for the HD 4870, then drop back to the HD 4850...
    Anyways by the time you would want more graphics power, newer ATI cards(Probable launch by September and availability by October) would be available...
  16. The Sonata III is a nice case, and the EA-500 PSU with it is solid, but it does not have the greatest cooling (the design favors quiet). That isn't a problem; just make sure you get a dual-slot video card that exhausts its heat from the case.
  17. Your build looks awesome for the price but you may be able to get better prices for the items by searching them up using
    Price Canada
    Then you can price match all the items at NCIX. Their shipping seems reasonable but I don't know if they include handling/taxes so maybe you could message me about that if you choose to buy from them.
  18. Hi, thanks for the tip

    A friend told me to take a look at NCIX too. I did look up my build there but unfortunately they didn't carry some of the items on my list

    For example, the motherboard I am currently looking at (with crossfire support)

    they don't seem to have this item and I don't really know enough about different brands to try another board. As well, they don't seem to carry very many OCZ memory sticks, which is cheaper ($80) compared to the 4gb Corsair they seem to carry alot of ($125 ish). Im not really sure what other brand to go for either.

    If they price matched newegg though then it might be worth it because newegg prices are lower. In terms of shipping, to where I live (Ontario), it's about the same price from newegg or NCIX ($30 to $40). I'll probably wait till the start of September before making the decision where to order (maybe prices will drop)

    A few questions though:

    Does anyone know how long the instant rebates on newegg usually last? There's a $40 instant rebate on the Sonata III right now ($120)
    The next alternative is the Seasonic PSU + Antec 300 (approx $135). If it doesn't last very long then I probaby want to order it soon (I like how it looks better than the 300)

    Also, how long should I expect the Radeon HD 4870 1GB to last before it becomes useless (useless as in completely out of date and unable to play even the lower requirement games) 5 years? 10 years? I know this is a kinda iffy question since who knows how fast technology/graphic requirement will grow. Right now I'm debating between the crossfire or not because I can save around $50 by dropping down the micro ATX motherboard. So then if I'm likely not going to need to use crossfire for like 4 or 5 years, there's not much point in getting the crossfire board.

    Lastly, if I go with the micro ATX board, will it fit a CPU cooler? I read somewhere that it's a good idea to have one anyways even though I don't plan on OCing. Is this true? I'm looking at this cooler
    on this mother board

    Thanks again
  19. Here is a very good AM3 mobo with crossfire support...It the same as the mobo that you had listed except that this mobo doesnt have onboard graphics, which is not required as you are going with a discrete graphics card...
    Gigabyte MA790XT-UD4P AMD790X

    As for the RAM, Corsairs are very good brands and so are OCZ...but the Corsair brand itself commands little extra price premium...
    The OCZ are also pretty good RAMs and I dont think there would be problems going with those...
    And another brand that you can consider - GSkillz...
    here are a few options...

    Graphics card - Generally the cards will be able to play the games @ decent resolutions for upto 2+ years, when they start to show signs of slowing down...But if you dont play that much, then maybe more...So it depends more on the user's requirements than the card...

    As for the CPU cooler, you can see that the CPU socket is pretty close to the memory slots...So this cooler might block the RAM slots...

    But there is a workaround for that...First you would have to install the RAM sticks(Make sure they are of normal height and dont have extended heatsinks) and then install the CPU cooler...
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