<$900 gaming PC for a first-time builder

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week BUDGET RANGE: $700-$900

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Games, graphic arts (some 3D modeling), internet, programming, word processing, DVD movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Optical drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: None (I've only used nVidia cards, but ATI looks great right now)

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (most likely) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (later)

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 (I'm looking into widescreen options for later, though)

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm building from scratch because my current case is BTX and my options look pretty limited. Since everything in there is old anyway, I figure this way I'll be able to develop some important skills/knowledge while I'm at it. I've only ever actually upgraded my current and previous PCs before, but I'm confident I could do it from scratch. I'd just like something that'll last a while and can be expanded later.

Since I've never done this though, I'm not entirely sure what I should be buying. From doing a little bit of homework, I managed to come up with this:


AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Black Edition Processor Model HDZ940XCGIBOX - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103471

ASUS M4A79 Deluxe AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131361

OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR10664GK - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227289

Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021
combo w/
Antec TruePower New TP-650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ... - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.245581

SAPPHIRE TOXIC 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=N82E16814102815

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

Subtotal: $845.89


At first I had decided to go no higher than $800 unless I really needed to. I changed it to $900 just in case so I'm still technically under budget, but I'm wondering if I could do a little better. Is there anything I could downgrade while maintaining similar performance? I know there's a less expensive version of the video card, but the features on the toxic one sound like something I might not mind paying a little extra for since I like shiny things. There are probably smarter options for the motherboard, RAM, etc that are escaping me. Most importantly though, I need to know if I've made any errors anywhere.

Thank you, thank you.
9 answers Last reply
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  1. You did a good job on selection, you might want to check the newegg specials for any combos that might save you some on cpu/motherboard/ram, but I don't know what's up for grabs today yet. For hard drive, you might be able to get a bit more performance by going with a Samsung F3, or Seagate 7200.12, since the Caviar Black 640 GB doesn't have quite as high data density as those 500 GB drives. I know some people prefer the 5 yr. warranty that come with the Caviars, but you won't go wrong either way.
  2. Ooh, I'm liking the Samsung. $15 cheaper, too. I'll definitely be getting that one.

    I'll browse today's deals for a bit to see what I can do, then order away. Thanks!
  3. 500GB disks often have 250GB platters, while 640GB disks have 320GB platters; hence the 640GB disks will be faster. The larger the platter capacity the higher the data density the higher the sequential performance of the drive.

    And don't you want to trade in the 4870 for a 5000-series card?
  4. the Samsung F3 and Seagate 7200.12 are the latest drive revisions, and they have 1x 500GB platters. 1x 500GB > 2x 320GB

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/16472
    http://www.techspot.com/news/35631-samsung-intros-500gbplatter-hdd-spinpoint-f3.html
  5. You can fit an Intel i5 build into your budget, including the OS. I didn't see the OS mentioned in the list of parts not needed.

    Intel Core i5 750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

    GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128400

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.246586 $354.98 (CPU + motherboard combo)

    G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231279

    SAPPHIRE Vapor-X 100269VXLE Radeon HD 4890 1GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFire Supported Video Card - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102848

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.256476 $269.98 - $20.00 MIR (RAM + GPU combo)

    SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152181&Tpk=samsung%20f3%20500gb

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

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.259577.22-152-181 $129.98 (HD + OS combo)

    Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129042

    Antec EarthWatts EA650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V Ver.2.2 / EPS12V version 2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371015

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.245593 $124.94 (Case + PSU combo)

    Total - $879.88 - $20 MIR
  6. @wathman, ah sweet. yes those new 500GB platter disks would be great, and a 500GB disk with just one platter would keep decently cool with current power saving techniques.
  7. deadshark said:
    APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: This week BUDGET RANGE: $700-$900

    SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Games, graphic arts (some 3D modeling), internet, programming, word processing, DVD movies

    PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Optical drive, monitor, keyboard, mouse, speakers

    PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com

    PARTS PREFERENCES: None (I've only used nVidia cards, but ATI looks great right now)

    OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (most likely) SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe (later)

    MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1280x1024 (I'm looking into widescreen options for later, though)

    ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I'm building from scratch because my current case is BTX and my options look pretty limited. Since everything in there is old anyway, I figure this way I'll be able to develop some important skills/knowledge while I'm at it. I've only ever actually upgraded my current and previous PCs before, but I'm confident I could do it from scratch. I'd just like something that'll last a while and can be expanded later.

    Since I've never done this though, I'm not entirely sure what I should be buying. From doing a little bit of homework, I managed to come up with this:


    AMD Phenom II X4 940 Deneb 3.0GHz Socket AM2+ 125W Quad-Core Black Edition Processor Model HDZ940XCGIBOX - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103471

    ASUS M4A79 Deluxe AM3/AM2+/AM2 AMD 790FX ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813131361

    OCZ Reaper HPC 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Dual Channel Kit Desktop Memory Model OCZ2RPR10664GK - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227289

    Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129021
    combo w/
    Antec TruePower New TP-650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE ... - Retail
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.245581

    SAPPHIRE TOXIC 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=N82E16814102815

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

    Subtotal: $845.89


    At first I had decided to go no higher than $800 unless I really needed to. I changed it to $900 just in case so I'm still technically under budget, but I'm wondering if I could do a little better. Is there anything I could downgrade while maintaining similar performance? I know there's a less expensive version of the video card, but the features on the toxic one sound like something I might not mind paying a little extra for since I like shiny things. There are probably smarter options for the motherboard, RAM, etc that are escaping me. Most importantly though, I need to know if I've made any errors anywhere.

    Thank you, thank you.

    keep in mind that it will be hard to oc the cpu, if you can, get a BE version, there is a 955BE in newegg for 20$ more
  8. sub mesa said:
    @wathman, ah sweet. yes those new 500GB platter disks would be great, and a 500GB disk with just one platter would keep decently cool with current power saving techniques.


    yeah, more and more reviews are pointing out that the F3's are just simply better than the older Caviar Blacks. If you look on the drive benchmarks on Tom's Charts, the F3 runs about 4-5 C cooler than the WD Caviar Black. It's true that the 5 yr warranty is still nice, and it appears that small file I/O transfers are still better with the Caviar Black, but until they make 1x 500GB platter Caviar blacks also, the Samsung F3 is just a better drive.
  9. If you're looking for pure gaming performance here's a nice build :D

    Mobo/CPU combo - AMD 955BE/ASUS M4A79XTD EVO - $264 -$10 MIR

    Memory - G.SKill ECO series DDR3 1333 - $100

    GPU- Sapphire Radeon 5850- $300

    GPU/OS combo - $20 off (Wdinows 7 home Premium) $384

    HDD - Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB- $55

    PSU - Corsair 750TX (If you're not going to crossfire 2 5850's you can go with the Antec earhwatts 650W PSU)- $100 Corsair 750TX

    HS - CM Hyper 212 plus (If you're going to overclock)- $29

    Case - Antec 300 Illusion or CM HAF 922 (If you can stretch your budget the 922 would be a great choice.) - $55 ANtec 300/ $100 HAF 922

    Total - $903 with the Antec 300 Illusion Case - $10 MIR w/out OS
    $987 with the windows 7 home premium combo
    Shipping costs are around $20

    If you want better performance in other applications, not just games the i5 750 is a no brainer. You would have to add around $60 to your budget though. Otherwise the 955BE should be all you need.
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