$1,200ish Gaming PC

EDIT: There are now two potential systems in the running, one AMD and one Intel, both substantially cheaper then $1200

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Christmas / Early January

BUDGET RANGE: $1200ish before mail-in rebates, instant rebates OK

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming (I don't need the latest and greatest, just a solid machine to makes RPGs and MMOs look pretty), FLAC storage for streaming via Squeezebox, general web surfing.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: Keyboard, Mouse, Speakers, Monitor, external hard drives

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: Newegg, but whatever's cheaper is great

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States

PARTS PREFERENCES: Initial choices listed below, am happy to consider alternatives.

OVERCLOCKING: Probably not, but who knows what the future will bring.

SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No.

MONITOR RESOLUTION: Samsung 245BW - 1920x1200

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: I live in Southern Alabama, United States, and it tends to get HOT down here in the summers. I've chosen my parts with an inclination toward keeping it cool, temperature-wise. I have never built my own PC before, but have lurked around Tom's and read about doing it for several years. My current computer is one of those Velocity Micro ProMagix (Core 2 E6600 @ 2.40ghz, Asus P5NSLI Mobo) they used to sell at Best Buy. Its been a good machine, but I have always had stuttering issues on a few games, most notably Oblivion (with high rez textures) and LOTRO.

What I'd like in this new machine is
A) to have the experience of putting together a computer by myself, warts and all,
B) a computer that annihilates Oblivion and whatever future MMO i get into, so that I can truly be completely immersed and not worry about stuttering, and
C) a computer that runs Windows 7 64-bit. I currently run XP, have never used Vista.

So without further ado, here is my current build:

PSU:

CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W ATX12V / EPS12V SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power Supply - Retail - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139006

Case:

Antec Nine Hundred Two Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $109.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129058

Motherboard:

Here is a spot I need some guidance. I am looking at Gigabyte boards, and am wondering what the advantage of this:

GIGABYTE GA-P55-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $104.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128400

is over this:

GIGABYTE GA-P55M-UD2 LGA 1156 Intel P55 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $169.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128405

Besides the UD4P just being bigger, and if I'm going to go for the UD4P, shouldn't I go ahead and just do this:

GIGABYTE GA-P55A-UD4P LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard w/ USB 3.0 & SATA 6 Gb/s - Retail - $184.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128409

for another $15 and get USB 3.0?

CPU:

Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz 8MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor - Retail - $199.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

RAM:

G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL7D-4GBRH - Retail - $124.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231279

GPU:

XFX HD-577A-ZNFC Radeon HD 5770 (Juniper XT) 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $179.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814150447

OS:

Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM - $139.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116758

Other Misc Stuff:

Western Digital Caviar Black WD1001FALS 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drives -Bare Drive - $99.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136284

COOLER MASTER Intel Core i7 compatible Hyper N 520 RR-920-N520-GP 92mm Sleeve CPU Cooler - Retail - $44.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103057

SAMSUNG Black 22X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 16X DVD+R DL 22X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 12X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache IDE 22X DVD±R DVD Burner - OEM - $29.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151175

Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound - OEM - $6.99
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835100007

I haven't done a whole lot of comparison shopping yet, so any prices above that seem high let me know. I'm interested in getting a great deal, but not in skimping on quality. Having said that, anywhere you see that I can trim some bucks, let me know. I am open to and pleased to hear any suggestions. Thanks so much for your time! :D
16 answers Last reply
More about 200ish gaming
  1. Just an advice here... if you don't plan to use at least two 4890 in crossfire, there is no need for the extra power from Intel.

    Just go AMD for a single 5770, it will be cheaper and gives you about the same gaming performances.

    Also, if you don't plan to overclock, keep your stock cooler and save yourself 50$. You can buy one later anyway.

    If I were you, I would go...

    Phenom II X4 955
    Asus M4A78T-E
    Corsair 750HX
    OCZ Platinum DDR3 1600
    ATI 5850 or 2X ATI 4890
    WD Caviar black 1TB
    Cooler Master HAF 922

    I would add a nice sound card too... but it's your choice.
  2. Cool, thanks for your response. I haven't considered going AMD, since I've read at this time Intel is the better bang for your buck chip. But I'll definitely look into it. Thanks for the tip the cooler, didn't know that was mainly for overclocking.
  3. I've got a couple changes to regarl's list, but it's pretty good.

    First, I prefer to suggest this mobo: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO. IMO, it's one of the best values in motherboards.

    Second, if you don't plan on Crossfiring, 750W is overkill. 550W or 650W would be much better.

    Third, I prefer to suggest this RAM: G.Skill Eco DDR3 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7. It's a good price, and some very good low voltage sticks.

    Fourth, don't get a WD HDD. Right now, that size drive is a lot slower and more expensive than others available. Replace it with a Samsung Spinpoint F3 or Seagate 7200.12. Both of these use 500 GB platters, which make them a lot faster. They're also typically cheaper, but may be harder to find (because they're so good!).
  4. As far as the original i5 build, when I looked at the Heatsink on Newegg, I'm not sure the one you selected supports the 1156 chipset (may be a diff bracket available somewhere).

    I just completed a build using the Cooler Master Hyper 212+ that does support the 1156 out of the box, and my temps (stock for now) are nice and low.

    I'll second the Spinpoint F3 - very nice drive.
  5. all really good stuff, thanks all! i'm adding things to my newegg wishlist and recalculating totals. lots to think about. i'm still open to more suggestions and advice.
  6. Based on the comments in this thread, and more carefully considering my needs, I realize I can do this build much cheaper then the aforementioned $1200. Thanks for suggesting AMD, its started me down this path.

    Here is my revised and much less expensive build:

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail - $165
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674

    GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $79.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128392

    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $69.95
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

    G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO - Retail - $97.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231318

    Samsung 500 GB SATA II Hard Drive HD502HJ (pretty sure this is the Spinpoint F3, some model number. out of stock at newegg) - $54.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-SATA-Hard-Drive-HD502HJ/dp/B002J65AHQ/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2788EEYD4VYH2&colid=2XATW4WLXS21R

    SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $164.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102864

    CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail - $79.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139004

    SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model SH-S222A - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151175

    Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16832116754

    Total: $847.99 before rebates.

    Any thoughts? I'm still waffling a bit on the 5770, but I like the fact that it is low power, as I like the idea of a cool system.

    Thanks again!
  7. Wait, wait... a 955 will do you justice and is quite nice, but I can't let you slip away from an i5 just yet. :D

    i5 - $200 ($150 microcenter)

    MOBO - biostar t5 xe - $110 (-$15 MIR)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813138160
    I don't usually recommend biostar products, as I didn't have much experience with them the past. But I actually use the SLI/CFX version of the t5 xe and it's awesome. The non SLI/CFX version shouldnt be any different.

    Will net you $80 ($75 after rebates) more than your last listed rig. It should still be a $1000 rig, if not less after tax and shipping.

    But don't take my word for it. Skim through the chart section and see the performance difference yourself. I know you don't need the latest and greatest, but really, for $80 more... it's a good investment. You won't have to build another full rig in years and at this point, the only reason why I see you going with an AMD build is if you plan to use the AM3 platform to upgrade your processor in the future. $1000 is plenty good for an i5 build, you don't need to go up to $1200.

    Here's a start on the charts
    http://www.tomshardware.com/charts/2009-desktop-cpu-charts/compare,1396.html?prod[2607]=on&prod[2884]=on
  8. Ok first, SOME NEEDS to sticky http://win741.com. $30 for win 7 pro of premium completely legal. Just find a college student if you aren't one.

    Save you $75 right there.

    Then spend the extra cash for a 5850 $309.99

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102857&cm_re=5850-_-14-102-857-_-Product

    with the OS savings it's $70 more than your current build.

    Total of ~$913.

    For pure gaming, you could also probably drop to a Phenom II X3 BE $119.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103649&Tpk=phenom%20II%20x3%20black
    Added benefit that you can unlock the 4th core on some of these chips to get a free X4 (no guarantee obviously).

    The reason is that current gaming is GPU NOT CPU limited. In fact, you can OC an i5 from 2.66ghz to 3.8ghz and see ZERO FPS gain. This was done with the 5770 by Tom's recently.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-hd-5770,2446-16.html

    This would be even worse if they used max settings or AA/AF. The reason CPU benchmarks are done using sli/xfire w/ top of the line cards, w/o AA and on lower settings is to artificially create a CPU bottleneck.

    In real world scenario even a Phenom II X3 won't be the bottleneck if you're using a 5770. If you have 4x AA and max settings, then even a 5850 will be not be maxing out a Phenom II x3.


    In short, don't just depend on hype and fanboy's, do your research.

    PS- I'm actually an Intel Fanboi, haven't build a AMD system in over 3 years. And yes Tom's results are completely valid. I have xfire 5850's atm and my FPS from OC my i5 from 2.66 to 4.0 results in a whole 2-3 fps gain in Crysis ...totally insignificant.
  9. MadAdmiral said:
    I've got a couple changes to regarl's list, but it's pretty good.

    First, I prefer to suggest this mobo: ASUS M4A79XTD EVO. IMO, it's one of the best values in motherboards.

    Second, if you don't plan on Crossfiring, 750W is overkill. 550W or 650W would be much better.

    Third, I prefer to suggest this RAM: G.Skill Eco DDR3 1333 mhz CAS Latency 7. It's a good price, and some very good low voltage sticks.

    Fourth, don't get a WD HDD. Right now, that size drive is a lot slower and more expensive than others available. Replace it with a Samsung Spinpoint F3 or Seagate 7200.12. Both of these use 500 GB platters, which make them a lot faster. They're also typically cheaper, but may be harder to find (because they're so good!).


    Hey! the westen digital caviar black is way better and cheaper! i got mine for 85$ CAD! oh... wait... i should update prices more often. dang. yeah, just get the seagate or the samsung then. cheaper, at the moment.
  10. OK! Now we have two builds in the running, one AMD and one Intel. Nice Windows 7 tip! I am indeed a student, and after some light googling it appears I shouldn't run into any major issues installing the upgrade on a clean HD. Technically its legit anyway since I'm upgrading from XP on an old machine.

    FWIW it looks like the 7 deal expires in early January, though it may be extended. So if anyone is looking to take advantage, do it this month.

    AMD

    AMD Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition Deneb 3.2GHz Socket AM3 125W Quad-Core Processor Model HDZ955FBGIBOX - Retail - $165
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103674

    GIGABYTE GA-MA770T-UD3P AM3 AMD 770 ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail - $79.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128392

    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $69.95
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

    G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO - Retail - $97.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231318

    Samsung 500 GB SATA II Hard Drive HD502HJ (pretty sure this is the Spinpoint F3, some model number. out of stock at newegg) - $54.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-SATA-Hard-Drive-HD502HJ/dp/B002J65AHQ/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2788EEYD4VYH2&colid=2XATW4WLXS21R

    SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $164.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102864

    CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail - $79.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139004

    SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model SH-S222A - OEM - $29.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151175


    Total: $742.89 before rebates.

    Intel

    Intel Core i5-750 Lynnfield 2.66GHz LGA 1156 95W Quad-Core Processor Model BX80605I5750 - Retail - $199.99 (I don't live near a Micro Center, unfortunately)
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819115215

    BIOSTAR T5 XE LGA 1156 Intel P55 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail - $109.99
    https://secure.newegg.com/WishList/MySavedWishDetail.aspx?ID=9608974

    Antec Three Hundred Illusion Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Retail - $69.95
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129066

    G.SKILL ECO Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL7D-4GBECO - Retail - $97.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231318

    Samsung 500 GB SATA II Hard Drive HD502HJ (pretty sure this is the Spinpoint F3, some model number. out of stock at newegg) - $54.99
    http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-SATA-Hard-Drive-HD502HJ/dp/B002J65AHQ/ref=wl_it_dp_o?ie=UTF8&coliid=I2788EEYD4VYH2&colid=2XATW4WLXS21R

    SAPPHIRE 100283-2L Radeon HD 5770 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card - Retail - $164.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814102864

    CORSAIR CMPSU-550VX 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Compatible with Core i7 Power ... - Retail - $79.99
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817139004

    SAMSUNG 22X DVD±R DVD Burner Black IDE Model SH-S222A - OEM
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16827151175 - $29.99

    Total: $807.88 before rebates.

    Plus the $30 Windows 7 Upgrade to both builds.

    Looks like that Biostar MOBO could be a diamond in the rough. Thanks for the recommendation! I'm not ruling out the possiblity of going for the 5850, I've just never spent that much on a graphics card, so mentally its hard for me to wrap my head around it. But I understand what you are saying about the GPU being the bottleneck, thats very interesting.

    I guess I'm tending toward the Intel now, since its just a little extra and it feels like the most future proof option.


  11. Alright, so here is my budget i5 build. Question: do I need a heatsink if I don't intend to overclock? And if I don't need a heatsink, I don't need thermal paste, correct?
  12. jjhatfield said:
    http://img685.imageshack.us/img685/3359/buildfall2009.png

    Alright, so here is my budget i5 build. Question: do I need a heatsink if I don't intend to overclock? And if I don't need a heatsink, I don't need thermal paste, correct?


    The stock fan will work fine and it comes with paste
  13. awesome, thanks!
  14. so a big THANK YOU to everyone who posted in this thread, and everyone who helps out clueless newbs like me on Tom's. The above posted i5 build is my final rig, I'll be placing the order tonight. I've already ordered the Spinpoint and downloaded the ISO for Win 7 Pro 64.

    Any final criticisms or comments definitely welcome.

    EDIT: scratch the Seagate HD from the build.
  15. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.310268

    i'd remove the 4890's and put in 5770's... thats about it.
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