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$650 upgradeable gamer

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November 21, 2009 7:25:04 AM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: 2-3 days

BUDGET RANGE: around $650

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: gaming, internet

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS, printer

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: No preference

OVERCLOCKING: Probably

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Yes, down the road

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1680x1050 only

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Finally biting the bullet and moving out of a P4-3ghz that I have been upgrading memory, gpu, etc for several years. I want a base system that can be upgraded one part at a time over the next 3-5 years. I have never built a system from scratch but know my way around a chassis. Need help with ensuring I have balance here and that everything is compatible. Also, looking for a better GPU that keeps me in my budget with the thought that I will eventually Crossfire the 2 cards but I'm not sure I can afford anything more than a 4850 right now.

Also, I'm not sure if I need a better-than-stock CPU cooling solution.

Here is what I have so far.. Keep in mind I have about $50 in mail-in-rebates from these selections ($30 on the PSU) and the proc/Mobo combo saves me another $15 so I'm right at $665 with this build.

Thanks in advance for the comments, suggestions, etc...

Click here to view my upgradeable budget gamer build

More about : 650 upgradeable gamer

November 21, 2009 8:30:45 AM

Under $640 with SATA DVDRW before rebates
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November 21, 2009 9:37:44 AM

Instead of the ecs mb how about a

GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 $70

If you want a $100 processor get the AMD Athlon II X4 620 Propus. See the article about the best $100 processor on the home page .

The xfx 4850 is expensive and still a 4850 . Either buy a cheaper 4850 which will perform the same of use the money you saved on the mb to get a 5770
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November 21, 2009 12:42:14 PM

I agree with Outlander. ECS doesn't have a great reputation, and Gigabyte does. For yet another choice, I also like ASRock. Here's a low-end one that will still allow Crossfire later if you ever want it: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $62.
I actually prefer this one (may get one myself): http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... for $85.
Outlander's point is well-taken about the CPU. Another place you could shave off $25-$30 is the hard drive. Do you need one that big? I only have a small collection of media, but I've never come close to filling a 320GB drive. Start with a smaller one and make a bigger data drive one of your future upgrades if you need it. As to upgrades, the second ASRock mobo I linked will allow you to have Crossfire AND a GPU for PhysX (if nVidia wises up about not running if there is an ATi card in the system).
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November 21, 2009 2:02:14 PM

Awesome suggestions, guys... I have actually encorporated quite a few of them... I definitely want to do Crossfire later so the Gigabyte you listed won't work and I don't like the first ASRock you suggested because of the 4x secondary PCI-E 2.0 slot. The 16/8/4 combo on that second one is just what I need!

Will this PSU be able to handle Crossfire on 2x 5770's down the road?

I noticed nobody suggested anything other than stock cooling. Think that is fine as well? I do like that 300 case. Great suggestions... Keep em comin!

Here is what I have now. Showing @ $652.90 and if I combo the PSU and Case I get $15 more off to bring the total to $637.90.

Upgradeable Gamer under $650

Is all this compatible? Looking to pull the trigger here shortly. Thanks again for the help and suggestions!
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November 21, 2009 2:43:05 PM

I agree.. But I really want to set up the mobo now for the future so I won't every have to remove *everything* just to replace it with a Crossfire capable mobo down the road.

The PSU only has one 6+2 PCIe connector anyway so if/when I grow into Crossfire I will have most likely already upgraded the single GPU at least once because to get to Crossfire will mean a PSU and monitor replacement anyway.
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November 21, 2009 4:13:47 PM

Actually a pair of HD5770 won't need a bigger PSU. They each only have one power connector.
I've used Gigabyte boards too, and their rep is good, as Batuchka says. Lately I've switched to ASRock because of a robust feature set, and they also are often able to unlock extra cores. I only do moderate overclocks myself, so I can't speak to how well ASRock does in that department, especially vs. Gigabyte, but I'd rather have the options that the extra PCI Express slots provide.
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November 21, 2009 4:29:49 PM

Switch the HDD to a SPinpoint f3, same price but the f3 is faster.
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November 21, 2009 4:40:35 PM

jt the antec psu only has 1 connector.. So that's why I would have to get a different one if I went to 2 cards.

Sonic, good idea there but NewEgg is now showing the f3 as out of stock at 500GB. :( 

Also, my pricing just went up for some reason. Dang NewEgg... I'm now around $660 after shipping with no mail-in rebates. I might have to sit on this build for a few more days to see if anything happens for black Friday. I would also rather have a 4850 or 4870 than the more expensive 5770 but I can't find a 4850 or 4870 for very cheap any more either.
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November 21, 2009 4:43:56 PM

No the Antec 650w you picked can crossfire it has 1 6pin and 1 6pin +2
The 5770 only needs 1 6pin you have 2.
And 650w is sufficient for crossfire.
Newegg is fast about getting stuff in. They should have it by next week.
Its in stock at ZZF, they are a reputable site.
http://www.zipzoomfly.com/jsp/ProductDetail.jsp?Product...
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November 21, 2009 4:51:40 PM

Thanks S-B, yes, the Antec PSU may only have one 6+2-pin, but the other is a 6-pin PCIE power connector.
WD Blacks are faster than Blues also, but they seem to be notably more expensive now. That probably means we'll get a "deal" on them on Black Friday.
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November 21, 2009 4:52:20 PM

Ah ok, good.. I must have been reading the specs wrong. I'll just auto-notify on that F3 and wait until it comes up. I'm not really in a huge rush here anyway. Black Friday might be worth waiting for. ;) 

Thanks for the tips SB and jtt. :) 
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November 21, 2009 5:08:38 PM

Question... Just saw that the X4 620 has *ZERO* L3 Cache... Shouldn't that send me right back to the X2 550 (6MB L3) and hope to unlock the other two cores?
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November 21, 2009 5:13:50 PM

Well....a L3 cache isn't a huge deal to gaming, nor is a quad core. I'd say they probably pull equal weight in gaming. I would spend the extra 12 for a x3 720 and try to unlock that.
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November 21, 2009 5:28:31 PM

sonic-boom said:
I would spend the extra 12 for a x3 720 and try to unlock that.


Ah.. Didn't know the price point on the Triple core was that close. Good call. Thanks! :) 
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November 21, 2009 5:40:32 PM

hmmm, you're spending alot of money on the case & PSU... Here's a really good combo that I've been looking at recently for round $100 & a better case too:) 

http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?Ite...

Also ya, when it comes to gaming you don't need a quad core yet. When that time comes you'll probly end up upgrading your CPU anyway. I would suggest either the anthlon ii x3 435 for round $90 or the phenom ii x3 720 for $120, tho the performance is pretty close between the 2, if it fits your budget then the 720's the better call.
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November 21, 2009 5:43:11 PM

haha! That was the exact combo I started off with and then started second guessing myself and moving things around. I'm going to mix and match and see what I can do to bring the price down a bit more. Especially since I'm heading toward the 5770 GPU and 720 CPU now.
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November 21, 2009 5:53:00 PM

lol, plus I believe that both of those components are free shipping so that keeps the price down even more!
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November 21, 2009 6:09:20 PM

DaKlokingDevice said:
lol, plus I believe that both of those components are free shipping so that keeps the price down even more!


Yes they are.... Brings the total to $642.54... Hmm.. Now if only that F3 were available I would pull the trigger. I may do it with the Caviar Blue anyway... We'll see how impatient I get today. :sol: 
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November 21, 2009 6:53:12 PM

NO! That's a Chokemax PSU; overrated, inefficient, and hot at best, and all that plus an unstable system-killer at worst. The little red voltage switch is a dead giveaway to an older, inefficient design. The brand is a giveaway to the rest.
If you want to go cheaper on the case, check out any of the low-end Rosewills, but plan to add a front 120mm fan for better airflow. Or, look at the Antec 200. The PSU is the last place to go cheap. Other than Antec, Corsair, PC Power & Cooling, Seasonic, and Enermax are also good. Look for full range active PFC (no little switch) and 80+ certification.
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November 21, 2009 6:57:52 PM

Ok, fair enough... It only looks like a good deal then. I might have to raise this to $700 to get what I need then. Back to the sandbox. :whistle: 
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November 21, 2009 9:55:36 PM

Yes, as jtt said don't touch that PSU, only the ones recommended.
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November 21, 2009 10:08:37 PM

the only way you will NEED a crossfire board is if you also spend a lot more money on a higher resolution monitor .

There are plenty of single card solutions today that will eat any 1680 x 1050 monitor
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November 21, 2009 10:41:02 PM

With the move to the 5770, I was kind of thinking of getting 2 more monitors and running Eyefinity. :) 

I decided to go back to the Three Hundred Illusion case and stepped up to a 650W Corsair PSU. The whole "Earth" thing just doesn't float my boat. Right at $725 after shipping now... This is starting to turn into just a little more than a budget box. ;) 
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November 22, 2009 12:17:15 AM

The Corsair is good, no question about it, but for $19 less you can get a better one; 80+ bronze vs. 80+, and 2 more amps on +12V: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... Antec TruePower New TP-650 650W Continuous Power ATX12V V2.3 / EPS12V V2.91 SLI Certified CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC "compatible with Core i7/Core i5" Power Supply - $100, but it has a -$20 combo with the Illusion case, so it actually ends up cheaper.
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November 22, 2009 12:31:08 AM

Yea, I saw that with the case... I originally went with the Antec "Earth" model but was eyeballing the CP model. If you think its better than the Corsair, I'm game to add it to my build to save $20. Thanks, jtt.
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December 4, 2009 4:19:11 PM

Thanks for all your help, everyone... This is what I ended up going with after weighing all my options and (thankfully) waiting for Black Friday.

AMD Phenom II X3 720 2.8GHz Socket AM3 95W Triple-Core Black Processor Model HDZ720WFGIBOX - Retail
- $119.99

GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H AM3 AMD 790GX HDMI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
- $114.99 ($40 off instant-combo with X3 720 and $15 mail-in-rebate)

CORSAIR DOMINATOR 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CMD4GX3M2A1600C8 - Retail
- $94.99

CORSAIR CMPSU-750HX 750W ATX12V 2.3 / EPS12V 2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS SILVER Certified Modular Active PFC Power ... - Retail
- $169.00 ($40 off instant-combo with memory and $20 mail-in rebate)

SAPPHIRE 100283L Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
- $179.99

Western Digital Caviar Black WD6401AALS 640GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
- $49.99

Antec Nine Hundred Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail
- $99.99 ($40 mail-in rebate)

Sony Optiarc 24X DVD/CD Rewritable Drive Black SATA Model AD-7240S-0B - OEM
- $25.99

Sunbeam CR-CCTF 120 mm Core-Contact Freezer CPU Cooler W/TX-2 - Retail
- $39.99 ($25 mail-in rebate)

Purchased on NewEgg.com's Black Friday opening on Wednesday, Novermber 25th at 3pm PST.... This allowed me to use the 10% cashback from Bing ($86.30) and with the mail-in rebates ($100.00) and instant combo discounts ($80.00) the computer came in right at $638.28 after shipping (and zero tax)! :love: 

My first build so I was a little daunted but everything went very smoothly and *almost* without a hitch. On initial post, the WD HDD did not show up in the BIOS and made a clicking sound with a beep three times so I concluded it was DOA. On RMA with NewEgg right now but everything else showed up perfectly in the BIOS.

Also, I just wanted to say that I was able to successfully unlock the 4th core of the X3 720 so now I have an X4 40 (according to the BIOS) and I have OCd the proc from 2800mhz to 3200mhz. The memory defaulted to 1333mhz but I was able to OC it to 1600mhz. Of course I actually have yet to boot into Windows with these OC settings but I'm fairly confident from everything I have read that this is a fairly standard OC that shouldn't cause any problems.

I love this build because it allows me to quickly upgrade to 8GB RAM, run DX11 and Crossfire another 5770 in the future when I move to three screens for Eyefinity. I can't wait to get Win7 64bit on it and start giving it a go with the benchmarking once I get my replacement HDD back from NewEgg. :D 

Again... Thanks to all for the advice, tips and direction. :hello: 
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December 4, 2009 7:44:14 PM

Good show!
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!