PARTS PREFERENCES: by brand or type: I've been out of touch, be lean toward Intel.
OVERCLOCKING: Prefer not, unless stability can be assured
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe? only if it's the best bang for buck
MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200++
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Looking to build a PC *just* for gaming. Likely games are MMOs, RTS, and other PC exclusives. Productivity/internet/etc will be done on notebook and this PC will sit turned off, so feel free to optomize for gaming exclusively. I need everything: OS, keyboard/mouse, monitor. Would like 22-24" 16x10 LCD that is decent for gaming, preferably with a HDMI input to use 360/PS3 on occasion. No bling (lights/windows/etc) desired on case. Doesn't need to run 100fps on max settings in every game, but should be able to handle most everything as playable now and survive for a few years (or at least have a reasonable upgrade path).
bump, could really use some advice please. Been outta the hardware arms race for too long. I know my budget is tough, but I'd like to see what the experts around here would recommend to get close, and I can try to increase budget or find savings in the build from there...
Start with the stickied "builds by usage" thread. There are sample systems at your price range.
That looks like a great deal on a recertified monitor, but I have no idea if that is a reputable website to buy from or not.
Look for something like:
Athlon II dual core CPU ($50ish)
AMD socket AM3 motherboard (by Gigabyte, ASUS, MSI, DFI) ($100ish)
2x2GB DDR3-1333 RAM ($80ish)
OCZ Fatal1ty 550W PSU ($65-MIR)
ATI Radeon 5750 GPU ($130ish) or 5770 ($170ish)
Rosewill Wind Ryder case ($40)
Windows 7 64bit home ($100ish, unless you are a student)
newegg.com is a good reference site as they have good product specs and a pretty good search capability.
The 5750 will play games at medium-high (5770 at high) at 1920x1200 resolution. You have to spend $300+ on graphics to play at the very/ultra high settings at that resolution. A smaller 21-22 inch at 1380x1050 would let get you better frame rates with weaker graphics cards.
First on the case - get the antec 300 illusion model since you get the two front fans installed for $5 more.
Right now below $800 is generally AMD range. The system you put together would be good, but a bit CPU heavy for a gaming machine (meaning the CPU is alot more powerful than the GPU).
You could swap out the i5 and p55 mobo for a PhenomIIx3 720/AM3 motherboard combo (same RAM) at under $250 (save about $100), upgrade the GPU to a 5770 and get significantly better gaming performance for about $70 less. Gaming is very heavily GPU based so you can often get better performance sacrificing CPU for more GPU.
If you take this example to the next step, dropping the CPU to a dual core Athlon (saving $50 more) and getting a 5850 graphics card, you may end up not having enough CPU to make full use of the GPUs power and also end up with lower FPS than the more balanced system.
Great, thanks for the pointers. I'll play around with them and see what I can come up with!
I meant to ask, when you say the GPU can do med-high at 1920x1200 but I could change monitors for a better perf at a lower res: does that mean on LCDs I can't run the in-game res lower than the OS res like we used to do on CRTs?
Yes you can run at a lower res. Lower res on a larger screen just doesnt look at good. Like running a 19inch CRT at 640x480 is hideous regardless of better frame rates. I have tried things like running Crysis at a lower resolution and adding more eye candy. So far, higher resolution and lower settings has always looked better to me.