$400 for New Computer Parts for My Son

BUDGET RANGE: Under $450 before rebates
SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, surfing the internet, watching movies
PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, PS, HDD, NIC, DVD - Current PS is a PC Power & Cooling 750 Silencer
OVERCLOCKING: I can if it's a factor in price/perfmance, but it's not a major factor to me
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 (22")

My son is 8yo and likes to play all the Half-Life games, and spends tons of time playing with Garry's Mod with a bunch of add-ons. He also plays Roblox and wants to play the Lego MMO when it's released. I'll probably buy the Batman game for him on Steam as soon as I build his new computer. He also plays older Call of Duty games (he's not allowed to play the new ones), ToonTown and Pirates of the Carribean Online.

His current computer, which just took a dump on him, is an Athlon 64 3400+ on an Epox EP-8NPA SLi with 2 gigs of ram and an nVidia 8800 GTS (320mb). I really have no clue if it's the video card or the CPU that is screwed, but the parts are so old it doesn't matter.

I need a CPU, video card, MB, ram and a case (his case is really old). I've been reading the posts here and was thinking of the following:

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

POWERCOLOR AX4850 512MD3-PH Radeon HD 4850 512MB 256-bit GDDR3

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666)

AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz 3 x 512KB L2 Cache 6MB L3 Cache Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor - Retail

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

The CPU and MB are a combo, so there's 20 bucks saved.

I'd like somewhat of an upgrade path, at least so he can play FPS-type games. Am I correct in understanding from previous posts that the above parts might let me upgrade to new AMD CPUs coming out? Do you guys see some better choices that would fit in my budget?

Any information you guys can provide would be much appreciated. He's a good boy, very generous and thankful for what he has.

5 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. That is a pretty solid looking system there. I have the Gigabyte 770T and it is a great board (and yes, since it is AM3 it should support future AMD chips). I also have a 4850, which is a great mid/upper card. Was the current PSU in the computer that died? Be cautious when reusing parts, especially if you are unsure of eactly what died. But overall, I think you are definitely on the right track. For you budget and goals, A Phenom II X3 and 4850 are a great pair.
  2. Best answer
    Welcome dacker,

    That looks rather good. You did your homework on this one. The upgrade path will be replacement of the GPU in a few years. As long as AMD releases CPUs with DDR3 controllers that fit in the socket, you can replace the CPU, but that will be a while before you need to do that. Might get a little more life out of this GPU though spending a little extra for a 1gb 4850.
    4850 1gb
  3. EXT64 said:
    Was the current PSU in the computer that died?

    Yes it was, and you're right - I hadn't considered it as the problem. Problem started a few days ago with strange artifacts on the screen (red dots everywhere) and freezing up. Then a checkboard pattern ocurred at the windows login screen and it would freeze up. Finally, my monitor wouldn't come out of power saving mode when the computer was turned on (it's as if the monitor was not plugged into the video card). Monitor works fine plugged into my other computer. I can't check the video card in another computer but I think I can check the PSU.

    Thanks for the feedback. I'll probably spend the extra on the 1gb video card, btw.

  4. It sounds like the GPUs memory took a dump.
  5. This is a dangerous trouble shoot. I'd look to the GPU before the PSU too. But the symptoms can also be created by an underpowered GPU if the rail suppling power for the GPU slowly and progressively went. Being a single rail, I would have expected to see other issues go along with the video, but a HDD draws less than the GPU, so maybe it hadn't shown symptoms yet.

    Depending on how much you want to investigate this, I'd pull the PSU from your other computer and test the old system before touching a PSU that could be the issue. You're other PSU will probably won't be enough to run anything in 3d, so it will just be to see if the 2d mode of the GPU fires up in windows. Power draw should be minimal there. If you see the same results, then I'd say the PCC PSU is safe and continue with the build.
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