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New $800-ish Gaming Computer: Please Advise

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December 4, 2009 7:03:38 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: December 2009

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, watching movies

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, monitor, mouse

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: magicmicro.com

PARTS PREFERENCES: by brand or type: No preference as long as they're rated as reliable

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Reliability is the primary concern.

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Hi there. I'm building a new machine for my little sister, and I just want to make sure my choices make sense. Just a bit of background: My sister is 22 years old, enjoys watching videos and gaming. She'll be connecting this computer to her HDTV (1080p). I'm ordering all the parts from a site (www.magicmicro.com). This place was recommended to me by a coworker. Some prices per part is marked down a bit, while others are marked up, so the pricing is pretty reasonable when I compare it to stuff on newegg.

I know overclocking is recommended in most cases, but I've never dabbled into any of that myself. Any advice on that would be appreciated.

Here's the current build:

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3.0GHz, 1333FSP (Dual Core) 6000K
I know that quad core is pretty much what people should be going for these days. For just a bit more, I can bump this up to a quad core (+$4 for Q8300 2.5GHz, +$9 for Q8400 2.66GHz, +$26 for Q9300 2.5GHz). I'm reluctant to go any higher than this.

CPU Fan: OCZ Vanquisher Intel Extra Quiet Vertical HeatPipe Copper fan
Costs me an extra $19 than the stock Intel fan.

Motherboard:
ASUS P5KPL-CM G31
Cheapest ASUS motherboard they offer on the build. It supports only DDR2 memory. For $20 more, I can get the ASUS P5G43T-M Pro, which lets me use DDR3 memory.

Memory: 4GB (2x2GB) PC6400 DDR2 800Mhz
4 gigs at 800Mhz seems like a reasonable amount of memory. If I go for the DDR3 motherboard, though, it'd be +$8 to get 4GB PC10600 DDR3 1333 (don't know why they sell DDR3 in a 2dimm set...)

Graphics Card:
ATI Radeon HD 5770 1GB with HDMI
Recommended in last month's graphics card round up. Seems like a decent card. I'm definitely liking the DX11. My other choice was a nVidia GTX 260 for about 10 bucks more.

Harddrive: 500GB Hitachi 7200 Sata2
Plenty of harddrive space. I added a hard drive fan for $15 in hopes of mitigating basic harddrive failure.

Optical Drive:
Lite On 20x DVD +/- R/RW
Cheapest drive. I honestly don't care

Case: Cooler Master Elite 310 Black
One of the requirements I was given when building this computer is that it must have blue LEDs. Other than that, I tend to like Cooler Master, and I hope this case keeps the machine alive for a long time.

Case Fans:
2x 120mm Extra Quiet DC fans
Two fans for the case. This puts an extra $29 on the build.

Power Supply:
Antec EarthWatts 500w Extra Quiet
This is the only part I'm really having trouble with. The cheaper power supplies are Okias, which is met with a lot of animosity when lurking this place. I think 500w is good enough to run all this, but I'm not entirely sure at all. Help in this are is much appreciated.

Total Cost: $844
a b 4 Gaming
December 4, 2009 7:12:02 PM

That would have been a decent build about a year ago. LGA775/Core 2 is not a good choice for a new build anymore. What is your budget? I wouldn't order from that site. Newegg is a much safer bet.

You should probably be looking at a Phenom II/AM3/DDR3 build since that's current technology.

You don't need a HD fan. The best way to avoid a HD failure is to use a quality HD. Hitachi wouldn't make that list IMO. The new Samsung F3 drives offer amazing speed for the price.

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive $54.99

I know you're looking for the cheapest DVD burner, but at least make sure it's SATA. You don't want a big IDE cable blocking airflow in a new system.
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December 4, 2009 8:26:05 PM

::Rolls up sleeves::

Here's a complete build:

CPU & Mobo: Phenom II x4 955 and ASUS M4A79XTD Combo $266 (-$10 Mail-in Rebate)
CPU Heatsink: Scythe Zipang 2 $50
RAM: 4GB - G.SKILL Ripjaw DDR3 1333 (7-7-7-21) $100
HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD502HJ 500GB $55
GPU: SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 $165
Optical: Sony Optiarc Black $29

Case: Antec 200 $40
PSU: OCZ Fatal1ty 550W $65 (-$25 Mail-in Rebate)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit $105
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Total: $875 ($840 after rebates)


Considerably better CPU performance over your original build. The AM3 socket will also be supported into the future, while the LGA 775 socket will not be receiving any future upgrades. The power supply I listed is overkill, but it is very cheap now with the mail-in rebate, and it is certainly a good PSU. The Antec 200 is a value-oriented case; however, it is made by Antec so it's definitely of decent quality. The heatsink I listed is expensive, but it's very quiet and gives decent cooling performance, which is something you will want in a PC that's sitting next to your HDTV. The motherboard I linked is also a much better choice than your original build as it will allow you to crossfire in the future, should you choose to.

If you're looking to cut costs, you can downgrade a slightly less powerful processor and save a little money. This combo (Phenom II x3 720 and GIGABYTE GA-MA790GPT-UD3H) will cut off about $65, although that processor will not give QUITE as good of performance as the E8400 (but it's still close, and much cheaper, and it still has the AM3 upgrade path). There are also somewhat less expensive Heatsinks out there, but they will be a little louder or run a little hotter.

No matter which CPU/Mobo combo you choose, you're still left with a quieter, more expandable build for the future.

If you do decide on any of these parts, make sure you get the mail-in rebate forms (I linked them for you) so you get your money back.
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December 4, 2009 8:33:06 PM

If you want a good small case with blue LEDs then the Antec 300 illusion is the case. It already includes two front 120mm blue LED fans and one top 140MM blue LED fan (and a black rear 120mm fan). Great airflow and you can get it for $50 when its on sale at newegg.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

Definitely look at getting her an AM3 motherboard and AMD AthlonIIx3 435 or PhenomIIx3 720 CPU instead of the now dead intel socket 775/Core2 system.

Definitely get a new single platter 500GB HDD. The samsung F3 (first choice) or a Seagate 7200.12 500GB.

The 5770 is a solid card for that resolution. Probably the best you can fit in your budget. If you are in the US I would recommend XFX as they have by far the best warranty (double lifetime instead of 2-3 years).
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