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Extreme Budget Gaming Build

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December 5, 2009 1:44:10 AM

I am a very broke grad student who just got married and has a low-paying job. My current PC is a crappy Compaq from 2002 that was bad even for its time. I am taking IT courses now and am totally unable to do half of what I need to do.

I have $300 to spend on a computer. Yes, I know this is a laughable situation. Sorry.

I could go a tiny bit over $300 as long as it's nearer to $300 than to $350.

Help! I'm poor!


APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: ASAP

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming from 2002-2008 and possibly current games on low settings. Also intense web apps and web design and programming. No video editing or anything like that.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, monitor, mouse, speakers, OS

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: n/a You tell me, please.

PARTS PREFERENCES: I'd like an AMD Dual/Quad Core Processor because they seem to give more bang per buck in reviews I've read.

OVERCLOCKING: Maybe

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Maybe

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1600 x 1200 I guess. I don't care, honestly.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Ideally, I'd like something that can be upgraded without having to throw out all the old parts. I want something that won't overheat, and I know nothing about thermal control.

I want to be able to play older PC games I've missed in the past 5 or so years such as Oblivion, Civ 4, etc on decent to high settings. I know on this small of a budget I will need to skimp on either CPU, memory, or GPU, but I don't know which one can afford to take backseat.

I need experienced builders to help me.

Thanks, everyone.

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December 5, 2009 2:49:44 AM
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December 5, 2009 2:57:22 AM

Wheres the mobo?
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December 5, 2009 2:59:42 AM

In the combo with the CPU.
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December 5, 2009 3:02:08 AM

aford10 said:
In the combo with the CPU.


Whoops!
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December 5, 2009 4:14:40 AM

Holy crap... you are a tech savior. Thank you! This is amazing.

Most helpful forums ever!

What sort of gaming do you think this will be able to handle?
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December 5, 2009 4:40:30 AM

You should be able to play most games close to medium settings. Try not to expect too much out of this build. It's a budget build. I don't really like the motherboard or case. Though, they should do the job and fit in your budget.

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December 5, 2009 4:41:29 AM

What problems do you foresee with those two items?

I am curious why you chose that case. It does not have good reviews, and there are cases the same price that seem better quality. Does it have to do with ventilation?

Also, the case you recommended comes with a 480w psu. Is that not enough for my needs? If 480w is enough, I could reallocate the $45 from the psu you recommend to upgrade another component (which component I can't say... I'd need help there, too).
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December 5, 2009 4:55:32 AM

What about switching that the mobo, dvd drive, and the gpu with this:

MSI K9N6PGM2-V2 AM3/AM2+/AM2 NVIDIA GeForce 6150SE Micro ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$50

LITE-ON Black 18X DVD-ROM 48X CD-ROM IDE DVD-ROM Drive Model iHDP118-04 - OEM
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$18

SAPPHIRE 100295HDMI Radeon HD 4670 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
$65

Screw the case, I thought it said it came with fans, not just mounts, sorry.

Total = $353 The gpu here is really good and can play modern games at good settings. Yes I know you said a budget of $350, but just scrounge 3 more dollars, you can have a very solid pc, and good luck with your build. :) 
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December 5, 2009 5:07:58 AM

The DVD drive is only a reader. It won't burn.

That case only has 1 120mm case fan, and it's in the back. The one I linked has a 120mm fan in the front and back to pull air in and push it out the back. It also has a 180mm side panel fan. They are the same price. The Broadway is the better choice.

The board you picked has a little better onboard video, but the OP is going to be using a discrete video card. So there's no point in paying for the slightly better onboard graphics.


The items you suggested changing cost ~$165. The items they would replace in my build cost ~$133. There's no benefit to changing. the 4670 is a mediocre/midrange card. They will both reach midrange settings on most games.

The changes just aren't worth it IMO.
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December 5, 2009 5:09:45 AM

Well, the mobo aford recommended is bundled with the CPU, so it would cost a lot to change it.

Actually, my upper limit was $325, not $350. Living on a budget means following strict guidelines.

The only wiggle room I see is if I swap the case aford recommended and got http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... this one for the same price, which includes a 480w PSU. Is 480w enough? Does this case totally suck as far as thermal control? I'd save $45 on the recommended PSU...

I think I will take your advice on the cheaper DVD-rom drive, though. Thanks.

Does the Sapphire GPU handle a lot better than the Powercolor? What is the cheapest GPU in the next tier of noticeable performance?
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December 5, 2009 5:16:31 AM

aford10 said:
The DVD drive is only a reader. It won't burn.

That case only has 1 120mm case fan, and it's in the back. The one I linked has a 120mm fan in the front and back to pull air in and push it out the back. It also has a 180mm side panel fan. They are the same price. The Broadway is the better choice.

The board you picked has a little better onboard video, but the OP is going to be using a discrete video card. So there's no point in paying for the slightly better onboard graphics.


The items you suggested changing cost ~$165. The items they would replace in my build cost ~$133. There's no benefit to changing. the 4670 is a mediocre/midrange card. They will both reach midrange settings on most games.

The changes just aren't worth it IMO.


Yea I guess your right. Oh well.
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December 5, 2009 5:16:38 AM

I would STRONGLY advise against using the logisys case/psu in place of what I linked. A PSU is probably the worst place to skimp. They often blow up and take other hardware with it.

If you don't mind not having burning capabilities, by all means, switch to that DVD ROM drive.

The sapphire video card mothmusic linked is better than the powercolor 4650 I linked, but it's also $35 more. If you have extra room in your budget, go for it. If not, it's not worth sacrificing something else.
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December 5, 2009 5:18:50 AM

MothMusic said:
Yea I guess your right. Oh well.


A for effort tho.
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December 5, 2009 5:19:27 AM

aford10 said:
A for effort tho.


Thanks. :) 
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December 5, 2009 5:25:50 AM

I will probably go with the original suggestion, then. Thanks!

One last question. I can't afford to buy a new OS. As far as gaming is concerned, would I be better off running Ubuntu or Windows XP? Can Ubuntu emulate DX10 (or any DX for that matter)?
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December 5, 2009 5:26:44 AM

jswelker said:
Well, the mobo aford recommended is bundled with the CPU, so it would cost a lot to change it.

Actually, my upper limit was $325, not $350. Living on a budget means following strict guidelines.

The only wiggle room I see is if I swap the case aford recommended and got http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168... this one for the same price, which includes a 480w PSU. Is 480w enough? Does this case totally suck as far as thermal control? I'd save $45 on the recommended PSU...

I think I will take your advice on the cheaper DVD-rom drive, though. Thanks.

Does the Sapphire GPU handle a lot better than the Powercolor? What is the cheapest GPU in the next tier of noticeable performance?


Here:
http://xtreview.com/addcomment-id-6278-view-Radeon-HD-4...

And look at this:
http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/video_lookup.php?cpu=...

http://www.videocardbenchmark.net/video_lookup.php?cpu=...

I only suggested a 4670 because I'm going to use it myself to play Oblivion specifically. :)  And as a gamer, performance makes a big difference.

The brand makes no difference. But the 4670 will add at least 20fps to all games you play though.

About the dvd drive, your welcome. :)  I'm glad not all of my suggestions were worthless.
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December 5, 2009 5:29:07 AM

jswelker said:
I will probably go with the original suggestion, then. Thanks!

One last question. I can't afford to buy a new OS. As far as gaming is concerned, would I be better off running Ubuntu or Windows XP? Can Ubuntu emulate DX10 (or any DX for that matter)?


Go with XP. Getting things to work with Ubuntu can be a pain. Although I'm not sure about direct x though. Many modern games use dx10, dunno if XP supports it. Do some google searching.
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December 5, 2009 5:29:33 AM

I actually was thinking along the same line as you. The DVD ROM is cheaper. If the burning capability isn't that important, it's a good place to cut. And the best place to add for a gaming PC would be in the graphics.

The budget just doesn't allow it.

@ jswelker
If you decide to switch to the DVD ROM, that will cut ~ $11. This 4670 is only $15 more than the 4650 that I linked. If you want to spend the $4, it's probably worth it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

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December 5, 2009 5:33:23 AM

aford10 said:
I actually was thinking along the same line as you. The DVD ROM is cheaper. If the burning capability isn't that important, it's a good place to cut. And the best place to add for a gaming PC would be in the graphics.

The budget just doesn't allow it.

@ jswelker
If you decide to switch to the DVD ROM, that will cut ~ $11. This 4670 is only $15 more than the 4650 that I linked. If you want to spend the $4, it's probably worth it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


I know! These mushy, tough descions always pop up with budget builds! They usally go like: Its only 5 dollars more... But the budget! Its not that much more, if came up with that money now you can do it again... I don't know man.. lol Its funny because its true.
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December 5, 2009 5:34:27 AM

Thanks! I will certainly make the switch.

I sincerely appreciate all the help. I hope I haven't been too bothersome.

Any other takers on XP vs Ubuntu? I was honestly hoping to switch to Win7, but I certainly cannot afford it.
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December 5, 2009 5:36:37 AM

aford10 said:
I actually was thinking along the same line as you. The DVD ROM is cheaper. If the burning capability isn't that important, it's a good place to cut. And the best place to add for a gaming PC would be in the graphics.

The budget just doesn't allow it.

@ jswelker
If you decide to switch to the DVD ROM, that will cut ~ $11. This 4670 is only $15 more than the 4650 that I linked. If you want to spend the $4, it's probably worth it.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...


Ooooh! Nice rebate. ;) 

My gripe with rebates though is that you still have to pay the original price, then get your money back 1-4 months later. The client here is still going to have to pay full price though first right? + shipping
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December 5, 2009 5:38:06 AM

jswelker said:
Thanks! I will certainly make the switch.

I sincerely appreciate all the help. I hope I haven't been too bothersome.

Any other takers on XP vs Ubuntu? I was honestly hoping to switch to Win7, but I certainly cannot afford it.


Can't you get it like $70 cause your a student? Ask it for Christmas? Get your finance to buy it? Or peer pressure a friend into getting it for you?
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December 5, 2009 5:40:22 AM

Yep, that's the pain with rebates. But they can really be worth it. Companies offer such big discounts on rebates because many customers don't follow the rebate rules and lose out on the rebate. It's pretty simple to get the rebate, but you have to get all the needed stuff in the mail on time.

My vote is for XP. The driver/software support is much better.
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December 5, 2009 5:45:05 AM

Is that a limited beta win7 or a full version?! Would my rig be able to handle Win7?
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December 5, 2009 5:45:22 AM

aford10 said:
Yep, that's the pain with rebates. But they can really be worth it. Companies offer such big discounts on rebates because many customers don't follow the rebate rules and lose out on the rebate. It's pretty simple to get the rebate, but you have to get all the needed stuff in the mail on time.

My vote is for XP. The driver/software support is much better.


I know, thats why I prefer freeshipping/discounts instead of rebates. To unreliable and takes to long to get my cash back.

I say XP too. Plus Windows 7 uses to much ram for this machine.

But will this guy actually be able to afford this before rebates? Total without rebates for your original build: $373. Ouch.

If hes going to spend that much cash we could probably configure a better pc.
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December 5, 2009 5:46:55 AM

aford10 said:
Most college students can get windows 7 for $29.99
http://www.win741.com/


The last time I heard about it, it was 70 bones. Thats great that its cheaper now though.
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December 5, 2009 5:48:49 AM

Yes, I can afford it before rebates. I am on a strict budget but not starving. I have decent savings to dip into as long as I am assured I'll get the money back soon.

Win7 is too demanding for this setup?

Crap... also noticed the Corsair memory is out of stock.
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December 5, 2009 6:24:06 AM

The main difference, is the value RAM that you were looking at, doesn't come with the heatsinks.

The timings are a little better on the PNY RAM I linked above.
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December 5, 2009 1:33:28 PM

Thanks, guys. Ordering today.
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!