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Streamlining my $1300 gaming system plan

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December 16, 2009 11:24:38 PM

I am planning on building my first PC. My objective is to have a good system for approximately $1300 (budget is slightly negotiable) with a focus on gaming performance and occasional movies. I do not necessarily need to be 'future-proof' as I haven't ever owned a good gaming system and am quite happy to play older games. As long as Dragon Age, Fallout 3, and Oblivion look as awesome as they possibly can, my needs will be met.

That said, this is the first time I have ever built a PC, and I have only owned mid-range laptops for the past decade. I am willing to learn a lot in the process of building this system; what this means is that I would like to use this as an opportunity to learn how to both build and overclock a PC. Also, because this is my first PC, I need *everything*.

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APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: After Dec. 25, as I will be travelling and not at home to receive ordered parts until Dec. 28

BUDGET RANGE: $1300

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Gaming, movies, occasional virtual machines (Ubuntu web server and educational tool)

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: OS, my sister got me 64-bit Windows 7 Professional at the student rate for the holidays (I want to be able to expand to 8 GB RAM and use XP Mode for legacy games... I'm a junkie for forcing old games to run on new hardware)

PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: newegg.com and tigerdirect.com (Bing cashback is great on TigerDirect, 8%) Assume I will buy on NewEgg unless the same part is cheaper on TigerDirect, taking into account that TD has 8% cashback and free shipping

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Intel processor, probably Radeon video card

OVERCLOCKING: Yes, to teach myself more about hardware, and to reduce costs
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: Only if it's more cost-effective than a single high-power card

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1080, unless there's a compelling reason to select a different aspect ratio

ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: this PC can be ugly as sin, it's going under my desk. I only care about cost-effective performance. I don't mind noise, but noise generally means wasted energy, and I'd prefer an efficient system

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With that preamble, this is the list of parts I have assembled thus far:

NewEgg Wishlist!

Key comments:

My gearhead buddies have given this their approval as a good gaming system with easy overclocking possibilities, but they have not overclocked it themselves and are not big overclockers. They tell me the i5 can run at 3.1 GHz without serious difficulty, and that is plenty for my tastes, as I would prefer an EASY overclock over the HIGHEST overclock. Also, I'm so out of touch with modern technology that even out-of-the-box speeds will blow me away.

I am willing to go with top-tier RAM (e.g. Ripjaws version of what's on the list) at 4 GB if 8 GB is unnecessary; I can always buy another stick. I am undecided as to whether I need 8 or not.

The price at NewEgg currently sits at $1175 to leave room for a mouse, keyboard, and maybe better speakers (currently have an adequate but humble 2.1 system). If an extra 5770 in Crossfire is an obvious 'must' or dropping the WD Black 1TB drive to 500 and buying a SSD as my boot disc are good ideas, I can be sold on them pretty easily. I'm very seriously considering getting an OCZ Vertex to use as my boot drive, as I don't foresee needing 1TB of data storage, and my main reason for hesitation is that I'm not really clear that I can afford an SSD big enough to use as a boot drive... especially since I don't know if using it *just* for the OS is going to improve my overall experience if games still load at physical HDD speeds. The 30 GB OCZ Vertex looks like an awesome boot drive if you all don't think it's impractical.

I hope I am not being aggravatingly verbose or redundant with this post. I have spent a long time researching how these components work and have tried my best to make a good system. So, please, if you have recommendations that will leave this build at greater power for the same cost, I will be extremely grateful for your time and expertise.

Thank you so much!
December 17, 2009 2:44:38 PM

List the parts you picked out and we'll critique.

For $1300, the HD 5770 is an oddball. I'd throw in a HD 5850 at the very least. Seeing it's a gaming pc. Even though you're planning to play old games on it. You never know you'll get addicted to the new games. Otherwise, stick with HD 5770.

Are you kidding? One SSD? Raid 'em in 0 with 2. That'll give you 60 gigs for os & software. Your friends will be checking out your pc and may even hoarding it. But don't forget to add a storage drive for backup. Say 500 gb - 1 tb.

The i5 750 overclocks auto to a max of 3.2Ghz from 2.66Ghz. All you need to do is enable Turbo in BIOS. If you can, try to squeeze a good aftermarket cpu cooler in.

Intel® Turbo Boost Technology

http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=42915

newegg is out of Hyper 212 cooler. This is not a bad alternative.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
December 17, 2009 3:07:55 PM

I've updated my wishlist, and expanded my budget a little bit to $1500 (before applying holiday discounts and family contributions).

I already posted the URL in the original, but here's the updated list:

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx...

Updated parts list:

Sapphire ATI-Radeon HD 5850
Intel i5 CPU
OCZ Vertex 60GB MLC SSD
8GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 1600 SDRAM
ASUS P7P55 mobo

The rest is in the NewEgg link, but I think this is going to be my final parts list.
December 18, 2009 1:21:20 PM

I suggest these changes to your final list:

ASUS P7P55D-E LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard - Retail
$159.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

HIPRO HP-D5501EW 550W ATX12V V2.2 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS Certified Active PFC Power Supply with power cord - Retail
Your Price:$59.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x OCZ Vertex Series OCZSSD2-1VTX30GXXX 2.5" 30GB SATA II MLC Internal Solid state disk (SSD) - Retail
Your Price:$129.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

2 x BYTECC Bracket-35225 2.5 Inch HDD/SSD Mounting Kit For 3.5" Drive Bay or Enclosure - Retail
Your Price:$5.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

The reasons: this mobo supports USB 3.0 & SATA 6 Gbps which are the new standards. You wouldn't even have to drop an add-on card if you use either of those in the future. The HD 5850 requires a minimum of 500W. The Hipro is a lesser known good brand. 2 Vertexes twice the burst speed. Put 'em in RAID 0. Beats the 60gig hands down. Yep, you'd get 60 gigs in total (30 + 30). Then back up your RAID to the storage drive once in a while. Finally, you picked out the wrong part for the SDD. That's a converter. No good. You just need a pair of brackets to mount the SSD in regular 3.5" harddisk cage/bays. The difference is brackets won't limit your SSD size, but converter will. See newegg's description.

The rest looks good.
!