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~$900: First Build

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November 13, 2009 3:12:56 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Week of Thanksgiving

BUDGET RANGE: $850 w/ monitor (flexible with ~50$)

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, Movies, Photoshop and After Effects

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, OS, speaker

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg.com or anywhere that's cheaper

Country of Origin: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: AMD/Intel (anything for the best price and performance)

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe (if there is a good reason to)

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I had in mind of the HP Pavilion Elite e9210t or using PCMag's AMD Gaming System build-up before posting this. However I want to know if there is a better build that the community can suggest for the best use of $850. I'm fine with AMD preference like that PCmag build up. Saving few bucks couldn't be THAT bad, right? :D 

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November 13, 2009 8:07:19 AM

Those builds aren't going to fly at that resolution. You need to build around a Radeon 5850 to get strong gaming results at that resolution, which means backorder. If you need a $170 1900x1080 monitor too, you're going to end up fairly unhappy with what you can buy for $900. This is the best box I can put together to run a 1900x1080 for $900:

ASUS M4A79XTD EVO AM3 AMD 790X ATX AMD Motherboard: $105
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz - $175 ($155 after combo with the board)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

XFX RADEON HD 5850 1 GB DDR5 PCI Express Card HD585AZNFC - $265
http://www.amazon.com/XFX-RADEON-5850-Express-HD585AZNF...

Corsair - 650TX ATX CPU Power Supply - $85
http://www.bestbuy.com/site/Corsair+-+650W+ATX+CPU+Powe...

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive - $55
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

LITE-ON Black LightScribe Support CD/DVD burner - $34 (better choices exist but this is the cheapest decent SATA one in stock at Newegg)
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Antec Three Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - $60
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Patriot G Series ‘Sector 5’ Edition 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) PGV34G1600ELK - $95
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 64 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - $28
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Total cost: $882, + ~$10 shipping, + sales tax if applicable

That's as tight as I can make it, working every good deal I know on good components from a recent build.

If you need to skimp further, I don't know what to tell you. Either you want to buy a monitor with less resolution and buy a cheaper video card, or you want to buy a lesser video card now, turn the eye candy down for the moment and upgrade the video card later.

This is a good, inexpensive 1900x1080:
Acer H213H bmid Black 21.5" 5ms HDMI Full HD 1080P Widescreen 16:9 LCD Monitor - $170
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Then you'd want to buy something like this as your video card for the moment:

XFX HD-487A-ZWFC Radeon HD 4870 1GB - $155
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

But that's just penny wise and pound foolish. You'd be better off getting the GPU that'll power your hardware well now and carrying a balance of $100 for several years on a credit card at 30% interest than you would be upgrading the card. If you can scrape together the extra $100-$150 above your budget, you should.

Other options: you could lose the inexpensive cooler and run stock. You could throttle down to a Phenom III to save $50 or so. You could scale back the RAM speed a bit to save $20 or so. All of those choices are going to bottleneck you, and you'll fall into the same upgrade trap.

In short, borrow to extend your budget if you're set on 1900x1080 and you don't own the monitor already. If you're not set on 1900x1080 and borrowing isn't an option, buy a cheaper video card and go 1680x1050 instead.
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November 13, 2009 5:09:46 PM

Or go with a PhenomIIx3 720. Not many games make much use multiple cores.

Antec 300 illusion is a better deal than the 300 black. You get two front fans installed for $5 more.

Dropping to a 21-22inch 1680x1050 LDC and getting a radeon 5770 ($170ish) or a less expensive 4870 (they are as low as $125) is an option.
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